Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Cananda Trip Recap: Toronto

Easter morning we headed to the Quebec City airport early and flew to Toronto. It was snowing when we arrived in Toronto. We checked into our hotel and then walked to a very late Easter brunch at Montecito. We stayed at the Hilton downtown thanks to points from our mom (YAY!) but on a Sunday that is also a holiday there wasn't much open (at all). Thankfully my sister found Montecito and I am glad she did! There was a huge buffet and the restaurant was really fun-it is co-owned by Ivan Reitman so there are behind the scene photos from all of his movies on the walls.

View of downtown from Casa Loma

After a long, relaxing meal (so cozy watching the snow falling outside) we just stayed in our hotel room. Like I said, almost everything was closed since it was Easter. I was happy to spend a snowy Sunday relaxing! We ordered room service for dinner, watched movies on TV, and finalized what we wanted to do in Toronto.

We woke up early Monday morning, had breakfast, and then took the subway to Casa Loma. Casa Loma was at the top of my Toronto list. We took advantage of the sun being out but don't be fooled-still really cold out! We coat checked our heavier jackets during our visit to Casa Loma. There is only one photo of me outside Casa Loma and I am squinting because of the sun while also almost frozen/looking very cold. Casa Loma is just gorgeous. I can't imagine how beautiful it must be in spring with all of the flowers/gardens! You can even have your wedding at Casa Loma!

warm inside The Conservatory, steam pipes kept the flower beds warm in the winter.

We walked to lunch (ahh sunshine!) and ate at Queen Margherita Pizza. Another great meal and charming restaurant. After lunch we walked around Kensington Market. So many cute stores! I especially loved Good Egg and Bungalow. The clouds started rolling in so we grabbed a snack at Milk Bar, which was right across from our hotel. After a quick break in our room the sun was out again so we walked to the CN Tower.
Glass floor at 342m (1,122 ft.). My sister is afraid of heights-she wouldn't even step onto this!

View from the lookout

We walked around downtown and then back to our hotel before dinner. We ate at Drake One Fifty. Let me just say that wow, I forgot what it is like being in the cold again. I was so thankful that the restaurant was just around the corner! We both really liked this place. Awesome art on the walls and the food was delicious.

The next day we took the subway to Yorkville to walk around and do some (window) shopping. I would move into Teatro Verde if I could! Such a cute store! No photography allowed inside but there was a whole section of nautical!

We took the subway back downtown to check out of our hotel and then walked to lunch at Terroni. I had no idea there is a location in LA too. It was packed for lunch! After lunch we walked over to St. Lawrence Market and had planned on trying to make it to the distillery district. Unfortunately we ran out of time and had to head to the airport.

There is still so much I want to see in each of the places we visited. I definitely want to go back (preferably in warmer weather ;) The colder, snowy weather was the perfect excuse to just relax with my sister. It was a vacation after all! It was hard to say goodbye in the airport but I hope to visit her in Charleston again soon!

Hotel: Hilton
Restaurants: Montecito | Queen Margherita Pizza | Drake One Fifty | Terroni
Sightseeing: Casa Loma | Kensington Market | CN Tower | St. Lawrence Market

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Canada Trip Recap: Quebec City

Our train into Quebec City was delayed almost 3 hours so we didn't get into our hotel until after midnight. We went straight to bed and woke up to snow falling. We ordered room service for breakfast and just relaxed in our room. The hotel looked (and felt) like it was out of a fairytale. We stayed at the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac. I was ready to just move in! We did a lot of relaxing and a bit of napping too at this hotel. I could get used to living in a fancy castle!

view from the window

Once it stopped snowing we went outside to explore. We walked around Quartier Petit Champlain and Vieux Quebec. My favorite store was definitely Le Capitaine D'a Bord (thank you everyone who recommended it!). Unfortunately the toboggan had closed the week before.

Our hotel (that's my sister standing there frozen ;)

We went to a late lunch/snack at Le Chic Shack (get the chocolate shake and fries for sure!). We walked around a little more and then went back to the hotel to warm up. For dinner we went to Sapristi. I loved the atmosphere at this place and the food was great too.

Heading out to dinner

Sunday morning we flew to Toronto (no more trains!)

Hotel: Fairmont Le Château Frontenac
Restaurants: Le Chic Shack | Sapristi.
Sightseeing: Quartier Petit Champlain | Vieux Quebec

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

6 Nautical towels for the beach or pool

Nautical by Nature | 6 Nautical towels for the beach or pool

Crab print towel, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, $10 | Seaside beach towel, starfish, LL Bean, $30 | Sunnylife nautical beach towel, Gap, $55

* definitely big enough for adults too

Monday, April 13, 2015

Canada Trip Recap: Montreal

My sister and I spent a week in cold, snowy Canada last week. Our first stop was Montreal. We stayed at Hotel Nelligan in Old Montreal (Vieux-Montréal). The hotel was charming and in a great location. We arrived around dinner time Wednesday night, checked in, and walked to dinner at Bevo Pizzeria. It was exactly what we needed after a long day of travel: a cozy restaurant with delicious food! After dinner we relaxed in our room and planned out what we wanted to do the next two days in Montreal.

Thursday was our full day in Montreal. We walked over to Le Gros Jambon only to discover it was under construction. We had checked the website but not the Facebook page. Planning fail! We ate breakfast at Maison Christian Faure instead. It had been on our list for pastries but worked for breakfast too. We actually went back again for treats to go the next day. After breakfast we walked around the neighborhood and looked at the stores in Marché Bonsecours. It was snowing so it was nice to warm up and we bought a few things for the nephews.

We also went over to Place Jacques-Cartier, Chateau Ramezay, and Chapelle Notre Dame de Bon Secours.

Ships hanging down in Chapelle Notre Dame de Bon Secours, the chapel came to be a pilgrimage site for sailors who arrived in the Old Port of Montreal

For lunch we went to L'Usine de Spaghetti. I didn't love my pasta but I might have misordered. After lunch we took the metro to the Biodome and Planetarium. Perfect spot on a cold and snowy afternoon. I could have sat and watched the penguins in the Biodome for hours! We saw two awesome shows in the Planetarium.

We heard that we had to try poutine when in Quebec. We decided on La Banquise. The place was PACKED and when we left there was a huge line (and it was snowing again). We tried the classic poutine. I don't love gravy but I liked the cheese curds! For dessert we went to Juliette et Chocolat. AMAZING! We had to wait in line but definitely worth it.

Friday morning we had breakfast at our hotel. The sun was out (!) so we walked to Parc du Mont Royal. There was a LOT of snow in the park. We didn't go to the top because we weren't wearing our boots this day. After exploring the park we walked to Beautys Luncheonette. My milkshake and grilled cheese were so good. We also picked up bagels to take on our train to Quebec City.

In the afternoon we took the train to Quebec City. Our train let a freight train go ahead of it at our second stop. Big mistake. The other train broke down so we were delayed two hours somewhere between Montreal and Quebec City. We did have wireless and they gave us snacks and drinks at least. We didn't get into Quebec City until midnight (!) though.

Hotel: Hotel Nelligan
Restaurants: Bevo Pizzeria | Maison Christian Faure | L'Usine de Spaghetti | La Banquise | Juliette et Chocolat | Beautys Luncheonette
Sightseeing: Marché Bonsecours | Place Jacques-Cartier | Chateau Ramezay | Chapelle Notre Dame de Bon Secours | Biodome | Planetarium | Parc du Mont Royal

Thursday, April 9, 2015

West Elm nautical new arrivals

West Elm has done it again. The spring collection is filled with nautical everything! I am going to try not to go overboard ordering all of this ;)

This post contains affiliate links

West Elm nautical new arrivals spring summer 2015

West Elm nautical new arrivals spring summer 2015

Nautical plates, $24-32 (set of 4)
West Elm nautical new arrivals spring summer 2015
Yes, those are tiny sailboats!

West Elm nautical new arrivals spring summer 2015
The crab with the tote and the seagull with boots are my favorites

West Elm nautical new arrivals spring summer 2015

West Elm nautical new arrivals spring summer 2015

West Elm nautical new arrivals spring summer 2015

Outdoor anchor stripe pillow, $35 (regularly $44)
West Elm nautical new arrivals spring summer 2015

West Elm nautical new arrivals spring summer 2015

West Elm nautical new arrivals spring summer 2015

West Elm nautical new arrivals spring summer 2015

West Elm nautical new arrivals spring summer 2015

West Elm nautical new arrivals spring summer 2015

Buoy vases, $25-29
West Elm nautical new arrivals spring summer 2015
Definitely at the top of my list. I especially love the orange and blue combination

West Elm nautical new arrivals spring summer 2015

West Elm nautical new arrivals spring summer 2015

West Elm nautical new arrivals spring summer 2015

West Elm nautical new arrivals spring summer 2015

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Top 5 Nautical Bars in NYC (guest post)

While New York City probably isn’t the first place you think of when you think “nautical,” it is, of course, a port city with a rich history. If you visit, you’ll want to visit the South Street Seaport, take a ferry (or sailboat or kayak) around New York City Harbor, or maybe even visit one of our beaches for a little swimming and sunbathing. But, if you’re just stopping by on your way back from another nautical destination and you don’t have time for any of that, you’ll definitely want to hit one of these nautical bars for a quick drink!

1. The Frying Pan – Actually located on a historic lightship that is docked on Pier 66, this seasonal bar is open in the spring, summer, and early fall. They have a large assortment of beers and wine, along with themed cocktails like The Hudson Cooler and the Anchor Man. This is the perfect spot to relax in the sun, have a drink, and see a historic boat!

2. Dive Bar – You can visit this nautical bar that’s anything but dive-y at three locations uptown in Manhattan, all of which have port-hole shaped fish tanks and diver’s helmets throughout them. Each is equipped with a huge selection of beers (more than 30 on tap!), which you can also take home in themed growlers, and the locations on 96th and 101st also offer tasty grub.

3. Sea Witch Tavern – This hip Brooklyn spot features an enormous oval fish tank behind the bar and a mural of some very bad mermaids, along with a lovely backyard for the summer. You can wash down your fried whole-belly clam roll or fish tacos with such cocktails as the Hangover in Caracas or the Seafarer’s Hot Buttered Rum.

4. Mermaid Inn – With three locations in Manhattan and a fantastic happy hour featuring $1 east coast oysters, Mermaid Inn is the spot to meet all your oyster needs. Cocktails include an Old Bay Bloody Mary and a deliciously spicy Siren’s Song, and the highlight of the meal is usually the end, when they give all their guests complimentary pudding and fortune telling fish.

5. Lure Fishbar – This SoHo sushi bar offers luxurious seafood and cocktails in a setting that NYMag describes as a “yacht-docked-in-Saint-Tropez interior” with glossy wood and clean lines across the bar. Their cocktails include a Bloody Mary Royale (it comes with a shrimp and oyster shooter) and a Spiked Arnold Palmer.

Kristin Maffei is a nautical enthusiast, poet, and copywriter who lives in New York City but dreams of moving to New England. You can read more of her work online at her website, KristinMaffei.com or her blog, Not Intent on Arriving.
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