Jordana

Food: How To Make a Cappuccino

I recently added to my Alessi collection, and it was a very happy day! I bought the Alessi 9090 espresso maker designed by Richard Sapper.

As with many Alessi items, this one has a story. It was the first product that Alessi produced that was for the kitchen. It was released in 1978, and since then, the company has sold over 2 million machines. The 9090 won a Compasso d’Oro award in 1979, and it was Alessi’s first object to be added to MOMA’s permanent design collection in New York City.

This is a short video from Dezeen where we hear the story of the 9090 from Alberto Alessi:

And now, to the cappuccino! Here’s how I make mine:

I gather my machines – the Alessi 9090 (or, generally, a Bialetti maker) and my frother gadget from Ikea.

If you’ve never used a stove-top espresso machine, then you’ll need to know that it comes in three parts: the base, the middle, and the top. In the base, you put the water (in this machine, I fill it just to the gold steam screw). In the middle – the basket – you put the ground espresso coffee. In terms of coffee, I like Illy and Lavazza, but I also buy what’s on sale. And I recently picked up espresso from Ikea, which I’m looking forward to trying out soon.

A coffee dispenser is handy, but it isn’t essential. After you fill the base with water and put the basket in place, you put the dispenser on top and turn the dial twice (or more for packed, stronger coffee). The dispenser dispenses just enough coffee for any size of espresso machine.

The Alessi 9090’s top attaches to its base via a patented lever-lock system. It’s pretty cool. If you’re using a Bialetti, at this point, you would screw the top onto the water-and-coffee-filled base.

Turn your stove onto high and put your espresso machine on top of the burner. If you’re using a gas stove, keep the flame smaller or the same size as the base of your maker. If you’re using a traditional burner, move the machine so that it’s on the element (off-centre). This ensures that the full base is getting heated and it also means that the handle won’t get hot from the element’s heat.

While the coffee brews, get your milk ready.  I like to heat up my milk on the stove, but a microwave will work, too.

Side note – I love my parents’ Wolf stove!

When your milk is heated (after a few minutes), use the frother to froth the milk.  

Another side note: Check out my parents’ dedicated espresso machine cabinet. It makes me laugh every time I see it. And what’s even funnier – there are more machines stored elsewhere in the house. We do love espresso, and I guess you just never know what size you may need!

When the coffee whistles, it’s done. You can check on the brewing process by carefully opening the lid.

I like to pour my coffee in first, then add the milk. But if I need a bit more coffee, I confidently add it in post-milk. 

To finish, I top off my cappuccino with a sprinkle of cinnamon (and a side of peach pie, when possible!).

Are you a cappuccino fan? How do you make yours?

Check this out – I’ve been writing about coffee since 2010!

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Please Vote for White Cabana!

As you may remember, this here blog has been nominated for an Amara Interior Blog Award (woohoo!) in the Best Colour Inspiration Blog category. There are only a few more weeks for the Amara Interior Blog Awards voting period, and I’d be thrilled if you could take a moment to vote!

The #IBA17 awards have a lot going on! There are over 800 blogs nominated across 10 categories. Isn’t that amazing? There are so many beautiful blogs in the round-up, so I would strongly encourage you to have a browse, learn something new, and vote for some very deserving bloggers!

Thanks for your support!

Design: Caribou Cabin in My Home

A couple of weeks ago, I shared news of Canadian newcomer Caribou Cabin. This shop designs, customizes, and manufactures chalkboards, magnetic whiteboards, and pinboards. The company generously sent me a beautiful square (34″ x34″) linen pinboard – white a white frame, of course.

Soon after the order was placed, my massive shipment arrived at my doorstep. The board was wrapped carefully and arrived safely to my home in Waterloo. When I saw the grey linen for the first time, I was impressed by the quality of the item. And the grey matched my home perfectly.

I leaned it up against the wall behind a cabinet in my living room which houses my radio, record player, and typewriter. I pinned up some memorable items from my office that I knew would look pretty and would also remind me of happy celebrations.

As I took my photos, I thought that the pinboard in my living room would be the perfect spot to showcase Christmas cards. And the great thing about the pinboard is that I can move it to other areas of my home such as a hallway landing area or office. The office is certainly an obvious spot for a pinboard, but I don’t think it’s the only place for it.

Thanks to Caribou Cabin for sponsoring this post. All photos and opinions are my own.

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News: Amara Interior Blog Award

I know last week was a little light on the blog posts. I didn’t mean for this to happen, but it did. I’m back on top of things this week, and it’s going to be quite the week of fun posts! I’m starting off with super news –

I’ve been nominated for an Amara Interior Blog Award for the Best Colour Inspiration Blog category. Fun, right? I’m super pumped, so thanks to the kind person who nominated me!

I’d love your support for this award, so if you feel so inclined, would you please click on over to my Amara IBA voting page and cast your vote? Pretty please!?

As per usual, there are a ton of amazing blogs to discover and support in the Amara IBA awards, so I would encourage you to browse and vote as much as you can!

Thanks, as always, for making White Cabana part of your day! And thanks for casting your vote!

p.s. Tell your friends, family, and colleagues, too!

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Two for Tuesday: Birthday Balloons

It’s all about balloons today because it’s my birthday! Yipee! Hip hip hooray!

via Wit & Delight

via Green Wedding Shoes

I’m taking the rest of the week off from the blog because I like to really make sure my birthday extends for as long as possible!

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The Friday Five: Spring Home Maintenance Update

Just two weeks ago, I shared an update about my spring home maintenance task list. I’m happy to report that I’m now able to cross two items off the list. Two! Yay! That’s major! I’ll be honest, it was fairly easy to do because I took advantage of Father’s Day sales! Yup. That’s right. This single lady loves everything that is currently marketed to dads…BBQs, tools, machines. Oh my goodness. It’s true! It’s totally true! I think I love power tools just as much as I love peonies…it’s all about balance, right?

So…here’s my updated home maintenance task list:

  1. Garage door opener
  2. BBQ
  3. Bathroom fans
  4. Closet organizer
  5. A hallway light

This list makes me very happy! I picked up this Chamberlain garage door opener when it was on sale (yay!) from Canadian Tire and paid for Canadian Tire’s third-party connection to install it. Done and done. So far, it’s working like a dream. And since it’s a belt opener, it’s much quieter than my old chain opener. Belt. Chain. Yeah, I learned about these things this month. Thanks, Dad.

I ordered this BBQ when it was on sale (yay!) from TSC – The Country Hardware Store. It’s getting shipped directly to the store, and I should be able to pick it up any day now. Then I’ll have to pull out my tools to put it together. Any advice?

Since I won a Home Depot gift card a little while ago via a Twitter party, I’m going to have a browse through the options for the other items on the list. You know, just making my way around all the hardware stores this month! Fun!

If your dad is anything like me, he may be interested in the following five items this Father’s Day.

extremely quiet ventilation fan, $107, Home Depot

ball pendant, $19.98, Home Depot

ClosetMaid closet organizer, $158, Home Depot

And for future home maintenance task lists…

Nest thermostat, $329

chrome shelf unit, $98.97

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! And Happy Father’s Day!

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Press: My Home in Style at Home Magazine

By now you may know that my home was featured in the June issue of Style at Home magazine. I’m so so so proud of this achievement, and it is truly an incredible honor to be in the presence of such amazing Canadian designers, stylists, and bloggers in this issue. I love this Canadian publication because it features designs that readers can recreate. On top of all of this, I always learn something new.

It was a pleasure to work with photographer Donna Griffith; stylists Morgan Lindsay and Stacy Begg; and author Bethany Little. As the article was being prepared, I also connected with a couple of additional fact-checkers on the Style at Home team, and our interactions always made me smile. One conversation included repetitions of the question “And it’s white?” The fact-checker asked this question because she hadn’t yet seen photos of my home, but was asking me questions about the items and designs. I couldn’t stop laughing. “Yes, yes, everything is white,” I told her.

I hope you’ve been able to pick up a copy of this very special issue. Here’s a peek into the feature, and you can read it in full online at Style at Home.

 

    

And a few truths…if you’re curious:

  • I do walk briskly to and from work…with a backpack.
  • I definitely do call my bed “my princess bed.”
  • I absolutely adore my couch, and I would buy it again in an instant.
  • The trio of white artwork in the living room was made my my three nephews as a house-warming present.
  • The Style at Home team didn’t actually rearrange too many things. Except for a few items (e.g., flowers, silver platter on coffee table, marble tray with lemons, lettuce in the sink, tea towel), everything is mine. I loved that they worked with my own items. It wasn’t what I was expecting to happen on photoshoot day.
  • I had so much fun when the crew came for the photoshoot.

Thanks for reading, everyone! I’m taking tomorrow off from the blog, so I’ll leave you this whole weekend to read the feature!

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The Friday Five: Spring Home Maintenance

No, I don’t have any major DIY projects planned in the near future (but you never know what might happen), but I do have a list of not-so-fun things that I should/need to buy to keep my home in the best possible working order this spring and summer.

Most of these items are definitely not fun ones to buy, but they’re necessary (see item 1 – garage door opener). Each season, I think it’s nice to take stock of what’s going on in your home, and do your best to keep it maintained.

And, yes, I know I’m a day late with this post, but given my recent trip to Toronto and prepping for a garage sale, I couldn’t finish my draft.

1. Garage Door Opener
I was under the impression that garage door openers last quite a number of years. Mine has lasted less than 4. Unfortunate, but true. It opens only when it feels like opening these days. It’s quite the moody thing. It’s been so darn annoying!

Note – It’s by Craftsman, but I bought it at Sears. When I called Craftsman to ask about warranty/replacement options, they sent me to Sears. When I called Sears, they sent me to Craftsman. Imagine that. I got absolutely nowhere with warranty/replacement options, so I’m out of luck. Completely annoying. Not impressed at all. I’m looking at alternative brands at the moment such as Chamberlain. Any advice? Does anyone have a garage door opener that they’d recommend? Thankfully for my budget, Father’s Day sales are currently happening, so I might get lucky.

2. BBQ
Speaking of Father’s Day sales…I’m also looking to invest in a BBQ this summer. Mine is in decent working condition, but it’s old and tired. I’d love something new – and with more knobs. I’m sort of set on “I want more knobs” even though I don’t really know if I need them. It’s probably not the best way to choose a BBQ, but it’s what I want.

3. Bathroom fan(s)
My bathroom fans are fine, but they’re kind of loud. You don’t even want to know why one of them was extra loud in recent weeks. Let’s just say that my dad needed to get in there with gloves. Ew. So, yeah, quieter, sleeker fans would be nice.

4. Closet organizer
Does anyone know where I can get a closet organizer for about a 3-foot-wide closet? I don’t want a wire system. I would like solid shelves. Ideally, I’d also find time/energy/interest to replace an existing bi-fold door with a double-door set-up.

5. A hallway light
This is probably the smallest and most inexpensive projects on my spring/summer home maintenance list. I have a hallway light in my basement that is made up of a bulb. Yup. One bulb. I don’t think a real fixture has ever been there. I just need to get something small and inexpensive to replace it. I may have to zip over to Ikea Kitchener to see what’s in stock. Simple. That’s what I’d like.

Ah…the beauty of home ownership!

Do you have any must-buy items to get your home in top condition this season? Do you enjoy these purchases?

Two for Tuesday: Style at Home – June Issue

Today’s two-of-a-kind feature is extremely special because it features two of my most favourite things: the June issue of Style at Home magazine (check out pages 44+ for my home tour) and Nutella (yum!).

#WhiteCabanaxStyleatHome

via White Cabana – Instagram

I love seeing my name in print – academic journals, magazine articles, or Nutella jars – it all makes me happy!

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Photography: How to Take Photos of Kids

I’m certainly not an expert photographer, but during my trip to North Carolina to visit my family, I took a bunch of photos of my nephews and niece. Not an absurd amount, just a bunch. And I tried a couple of things that worked well – happy accidents, really – that I thought I’d share them. Plus, everyone likes photos of cute kids, right?

I hadn’t seen these kiddies in 1.5 years. Way. Too. Long. Of course we Facetime and talk on the phone (as much as kids like to do these things), but this is definitely not the same thing as real life interactions. Because of the distance, I had only somewhat noted how their personalities had developed and changed over the year. Most noticeable was my sweet niece, Gigi, since she was barely speaking (or in a way I could understand her) the last time I saw her. Now, she’s full of personality, and she was so fun to photograph!

Here are my strategies for great (in my opinion) photos:

1. Zoom In on Facial Expressions

Miss. Gigi loves to sing Katy Perry’s Roar song, so when I asked her to roar for me, she went for it. And it was hilarious! This was just a casual thing that I asked her to do while we were cuddling on the sofa one morning (she was still in pjs in fact!). This roaring episode turned into a whole series of commands: Show me a happy Gigi. Show me an angry Gigi. Show me a “Gigi loves mommy” face. And this continued to be hilarious. I felt like Nigel Barker (noted fashion photographer). I snapped pics on my iPhone but didn’t look at them until after the “photo shoot.” When I did, I was in awe. The photos were fantastic! And Gigi really worked the camera! Ha ha ha. I combined them via the PicStitch app, turned them into black and white, and voila!

What a cutie pie!

Over the series of my days in North Carolina, I played the same photo shoot game with each of my nephews, but I altered the commands. With Reef, picky-eater Reef, I related all the commands to food: Show me an “I love Mac n Cheese” face. Show me an “I hate chicken” face. Reef, you’ll notice, wouldn’t let go of the gummy vitamins that he was handing out to all the family members mid-shoot. Oh, what fun!

Here’s what I ended up with…

I just love these kids!

2. Props

I always bring amusing (for me, mostly) gifts to the kiddies when I visit. On this trip, I packed silly glasses and whoopie cushions. Oh, the laughs! I think I need to start buying whoopie cushions in bulk because these kids sit on them with so much force that they keep breaking them! I hope you have a mental picture of this, by the way! On this visit, I even orchestrated a synchronized whoopie cushion routine with them. It was basically an amateur whoopie cushion symphony! Noone could keep a straight face, that’s forsure! Giving whoopie cushions to four kids who love the word “toot” is pretty darn funny. If you ever have a bad day, find a kid and give him or her a whoopie cushion. Hours of entertainment. Having – I mean playing with – four kids makes being an aunt a pretty fantastic gig.

I’m sure you can guess what I told them to do before I snapped the photo.

3. Get Down

I think my best photos of these kids came when I got down to their level. I’m talking knees. Taking photos of them from my height is okay, but also looks a bit odd. Getting down to their size keeps them the centre of attention and more in perspective.

4. Black and White

Kids wear a lot of colour. Sometimes their clothes match, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes their clothes are dirty. Turning colour photos into black and white gets rid of the noise in photos, and it results in a cohesive bunch of photos.

sign of a protective older brother

Cute start for a Monday, right? Have a great week, everyone!

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Personal: How to Sleep Well

Over the years, I’ve written about some of my routines and life habits. There was this post about a day-in-the-life, this review of my Hourglass Workouts, and this post about preparing for the future. Today, Leesa, a mattress-in-a-box company, asked me to chat about sleep. Yes, sleep. It’s a hot topic, and many of us are looking for the best ways to get the best sleep each and every night.

So here’s my approach:

1. Caffeine intake. These days, I have one latte at some point before noon. And maybe a tea at another point during my work day. I don’t over-think caffeine, but I know that I sleep better when I’ve not been sipping coffee/tea/pop throughout the day. As a post-dinner treat during the week, I may have a mint or chamomile tea. On the weekend, I may end a dinner with friends with a macchiato (espresso with coffee) just because I like the taste (and I can likely sleep in the following day).

2. Water intake. I drink a lot of water throughout the day. I like to believe what people tell  me – in that it keeps me hydrated and healthy. I limit my evening intake so as to avoid bathroom breaks throughout the night.

3. Temperature control. I don’t like sleeping in super hot or super cold rooms. A nice 71 degrees Fahrenheit works well for my sleep. I love being covered under my duvet and feeling comfortable temperature-wise.

3. Humidifier. I notice a difference when I have a humidifier going in the winter months. Stay tuned for a humidifier review update in the next month or so. I haven’t had much luck with humidifiers this winter, but a new one is on its way, and I can’t wait to put it to use.

4. Make lists. If I’m still thinking about work, teaching, blogging, life when my head hits the pillow, I won’t be able to sleep. To deal with the potential eyes-wide-open situation, I write everything down so it gets out of my head. I don’t know if scientific research supports my approach, but it certainly works for me.

5. Get a great mattress. Of course this is a key suggestion. I bought mine last year, and I’ve been really happy with it. You can read about how I bought a new mattress.

6. Regular bedtime. I go to sleep between 10pm and 11pm every night. If I don’t, the next day can be awful. I sleep soundly between 7 and 8 hours a night, which I think is pretty good.

7. Busy body. My life is pretty jam-packed. Between work, blogging, MBA life, friends, and family, I have little time to get bored, relax, lounge around. This means that by the time I go to bed, I’m tired. Ready to sleep. Busy days make for restful nights. Or something like that.

So while these seven things do encourage a restful sleep, I still have a couple of things to work on:

1. Pillows. I easily get annoyed with pillows. It seems like every month or two, I’m investing in a new set. Annoying. I’ve tried inexpensive ones, expensive ones, and a multitude of fillings. If you have advice, please share!

2. Alarm clock/technology. I’m one of those sleepers who keeps my iPhone on my nightstand so I can use it as my alarm clock. I’ve gone to bed way past my set bedtime because I get too sucked into Instagram and Twitter surfing. Not good. I’ve recently found my little low-tech alarm clock, but I haven’t yet transitioned to the no-iPhone-in-the-bedroom rule.

3. Exercise. Many people have attributed good sleep to exercise. I know increasing my daily exercise would help me sleep. But see #7 above. I’m a busy body. I currently lack time to fit in long workouts. This will soon have to change, though, as I signed up for the Diva 1/2 marathon.

What works for you? I’d love to know!

Blog Link-Up: Best Purchase of 2016

I’m thrilled to participate in a blog link-up today which was organized by Erica over at Luv in the Bubble. It’s been a while since I’ve taken part in a link-up, and this one has come at an ideal time! I’ve been on the look-out for new-to-me blogs this month, and many of these are just that.

 

Erica took a page out of Victoria and Meg’s link-up ideas, and invited bloggers to talk about our “best purchase of 2016.”

 

I have two – two very different – purchases to share today.

 

1. My Princess Bed

 

I declared 2016 as The Year of My Bed. I was tired (finally) of sleeping on a double mattress from my grad school days, and I needed a full upgrade on my sleep situation. I had my heart set on a French style bed with curved footboard. While I wasn’t particular about the colour or finish (anything can be painted), I absolutely wanted – had to have – a curved footboard.

 

I scoured online retailers and second-hand sites for months (and months and months and months), and I was about to settle for a newly produced bed (which would set me back thousands of dollars and would still need a paint job), when I put a tweet out into the world (aka Oprah’s vision board approach) asking for the world to send me the French bed of my dreams.

 

Can you guess what happened about a week or so after that tweet?

 

The world sent me the French bed of my dreams! Curved headboard. White-ish in colour. Gorgeous wood carvings. Oh man. It’s dreamy! After an evening of stressful bidding via online auction, the bed was mind. Credit card was charged. Shipping was arranged. The. Bed. Was. Mine.

 

This bed is pure magic. It’s unique and interesting and French and lovely.
The bed purchase led to a new mattress purchase which led to the purchase of a pair of vintage night tables which led to new lamps and artwork and styling. I wanted 2016 to be the year of the bed, and it was!

 

2. My Vintage Peugeot Bicycle

 

A rusty barely-functional white 1975 Peugeot came into my life via a Kijiji ad. I was hesitant that the bike could become shiny and functional, but my friends at Berlin Bicycle Cafe worked their magic, and the bike was restored.

My vintage Peugeot is glorious! Before I bought it, I had absolutely no idea what fun it would bring me. I had a mountain bike, but it was heavy and clunky. My Peugeot is light, French, and comfortable.

 

In the spring and summer, this bike takes me places (#WhiteCabanaBikes), and I feel so grateful that it has encouraged me to discover new-to-me trails in my city, meet cycle enthusiasts, and learn about products to improve the function (and style) of my bike. My Brooks seat and grips are extremely comfortable, and the gold Basil bell brings bling to my bike. Mostly, I’m happy to leave my car at home while I ride my Peugeot around town to do errands and see friends. It has certainly improved my quality of life!

 

Before you carry on with your day, have a poke around these other blogs to read other bloggers’ stories.

 

Thanks again to Erica for organizing this link-up!

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2016: Some Highlights

Yesterday, I gave a massive shout-out to all the brands I have been fortunate to work with in 2016. Several collaborations were the result of years-long relationships, and others were brand new experiences for which I am very grateful.

Today, I wanted to share some highlights from the year.

    • Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation: Because of generous donations from family and friends, as well as an October fundraising effort on my blog and social media (#WhiteCabanaWearsPink), I was able to donate over $1200 to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Amazing! In addition to the monetary donation, I ran 5K (my first in a long while) for the CIBC Run for the Cure here in Kitchener-Waterloo, and it felt great to be running alongside survivors and supporters.
    • WhiteCabanaxStephenHawes: What started out as an informal “have you ever considered…” conversation with one of my MBA colleagues turned into an amazing collaboration with Waterloo potter Stephen Hawes. The first WhiteCabanaxStephenHawes collection was on sale for one week at the Robert Langen Art Gallery at Wilfrid Laurier University. The collection sold out! Happy! Happy!
    • Expedia.ca: Thanks to an amazing collaboration with Expedia.ca, I was able to tour Italy for 2 weeks with my Dad. Among many cool adventures, I attended a reunion lunch in Rimini with his highschool friends, and spent some time in Florence with one of his best highschool friends, and my cousin came along, too.
    • Langdon Hall: I have such admiration for Langdon Hall. The place is warm, the people are friendly, and the food is divine. Just last month, I was invited to an incredible dinner with Chefs Jason Bangerter (of Langdon Hall) and Jackie Lin (of Toronto’s Shousin). This was an evening that I’ll remember (and talk about) for a long while!
    • Blogger meet-ups: The online blogging community has paved the way for  real-life friendships. Our meet-ups have extended beyond brand media events, and I’m so thankful to have such warm and kind people in my life.
    • Triathlon relay: This was a last-minute decision, but I’m so glad my friends and I braved the rain to complete our first triathlon relay. My friend Chris was a great swim coach, and TYR generously sponsored our wetsuits for the event. While the swim didn’t go as smoothly as I had expected (ew-dark lake water), it was a positive experience, and I’m even considering doing it again next summer.

How about you? What were your White Cabana highlights? What posts were memorable? What did you enjoy reading?

Thanks to you, dear readers, for joining me on this journey in white!

via Minted

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Marketplace: White Cabana x Stephen Hawes

EEEK!!!! I’m so excited to finally share a full view of my new pottery collection!

Over the last few months, I have had the opportunity to work with a local potter, Stephen Hawes, to create a collection of pottery. Our collection is going to be sold at Wilfrid Laurier University’s new shop at the Robert Langen Art Gallery. Pretty amazing, right?

When I was approached with the idea, I was totally on board. But then I thought – ah – could I actually design a collection that people would want, that reflects my design aesthetic, and that highlights the potter’s skills? I was nervous at first, but the process went very smoothly.

I brainstormed and sketched out a bunch of designs. I had sizes and colour options detailed, too. Then Stephen and I met to discuss the feasibility and usefulness of each of the objects I designed. We also talked about colour variation (not too much, since this was going to be a white and black collection!).

Stephen got to work in his workshop, and we met again in the summer to review the prototypes. At that meeting, it was great to see the prototypes so that I could confirm or adjust each item’s design, colour, and size.

Another couple of months went by and then the collection was done. Poof! Stephen had fired everything up and was ready for the final reveal. I know I’m biased, but it’s beautiful. I like to think that this pottery collection is modern, easy, accessible, and versatile.

So…are you ready to have a look at some of the collection? Here we go…

White Cabana X Stephen Hawes

white_cabana_stephen_hawes_1

use it for: hair ties, cotton balls, salt, mini cactuswhite_cabana_stephen_hawes_2

white_cabana_stephen_hawes_3 white_cabana_stephen_hawes_4

use it for: drinking cup, pencils, straws, cheese sticks, Qtips white_cabana_stephen_hawes_5

use it for: fruit, salad, remote controls

white_cabana_stephen_hawes_7

white_cabana_stephen_hawes_8

white_cabana_stephen_hawes_6

use it for: (L) pasta, salad, bread, rock garden; (R) candy bowl, popcorn    white_cabana_stephen_hawes_9

use it for: utensils, toothbrushes, strawswhite_cabana_stephen_hawes_10

use it for: popcorn, plant, mailwhite_cabana_stephen_hawes_11

use it for: milk, syrup, salad dressingwhite_cabana_stephen_hawes_12

use it for: (L) green tea, iced tea, water, wooden spoons; (R) spoons, sugar, soy saucewhite_cabana_stephen_hawes_13

use it for: Lego, chips, scarves

There are a variety of shapes and sizes in this collection, and the black lines of each object also vary. Each piece is unique and made with care.

The complete collection will be for sale at the Robert Langen Art Gallery in the library at Wilfrid Laurier University beginning on Monday, December 5th at 11am. More details here.

Thanks to Stephen Hawes for working on this project with me.
Thanks to Nick, Suzanne, and the Laurier Library for encouraging this initiative.

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The Friday Five: Classic White Shirts

I wear a white shirt at least once a week. Often more. I wear white shirts to work and on the weekend, too. In every season. And on a bike. And sometimes with sparkles. I wear white shirts with a suit jacket, with jeans, or under a cardigan. Short sleeve or long sleeve – I’ll take them all! I can’t get enough of them! (I feel like I’ve just channeled my inner-Dr. Seuss with that little blurb.)

That said, white shirts don’t last forever, and I have recently had to say good-bye to several of my favourites. It’s time to refresh my white shirt collection, and here are five beauties that have caught my attention.

wv00758_white

Brooks Brothers non-iron white shirt

90c9958dc9c4abeae77a2d75e39fea77_best

JCrew perfect shirt

njmu6152_107_2

Kate Spade poplin shirt (I actually own and love this shirt!)

eddie-bauer-white-shirt

Eddie Bauer wrinkle free shirt

45110334w1x

Thomas Pink Penelope shirt

Are you a fan, too? Any recommendations?

Have a great weekend, everyone!

p.s. I wear white shirt dresses, too. (Are you surprised?) This one is a recent Kate Spade purchase. And this one is an old DKNY.

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Marketplace: Spotlight on Rug Expedition

You know what’s great? Having a rug delivered straight to your door. It avoids the whole trying-to-fit-a-rug-into-the-car and lifting-a-heavy-rug issues. Thanks to Rug Expedition, I was able to pick out a rug and have it delivered straight to my home without any hassle. I ordered it on a Monday, it traveled all the way from Texas via FedEx, and it was at my house in Waterloo by Friday. Talk about convenient. This was also the same week when I went to three separate stores to buy one pair of goggles only to find out that none of the stores actually had them in stock. #WasteOfTime

So my woven leather – yes, leather – arrived on a Friday, and I enjoyed playing around with it in different spaces. It looked great in my sunny living room:

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but the rug looked much better in my basement lounge, so that’s where it’s staying: White-Cabana-Rug-Expedition-1White-Cabana-Rug-Expedition-3 White-Cabana-Rug-Expedition-2

my lounge (photos by me)

The rug looks pretty cool in this room, and since it’s a relatively high-traffic area, I think that the leather will work well in here. The shades of grey look really beautiful in real life, and since it’s such a calm colour scheme, the rug will work in various other places in my home. Eventually, when I get hardwood floors install (#renowishlist), I think I may move the rug back up into my living or dining room. I really like having options when I buy pieces of furniture and accessories.

Rug Expedition has lots of options to satisfy its customers’ needs. Rug sizes are varied as are textures, patterns, and colours. The 30-day in home trial and free shipping option (within the USA) is great for those who find it hard to make decisions.

Here are some other options that I really like from the Rug Expedition collection.

In the leather and hide category, I like:

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Cowhide P0 Metallic Beige by nuLoom

leatherwork rug

leatherwork ivory/black by Dynamic Rugs

I like these wool rugs:

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Topaz natural/grey by Dynamic Rugs

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topaz natural/grey by Dynamic Rugs

This natural fibre rug caught my eye:

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Natura 01 Grey by nuLoom

Thanks to Rug Expedition for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.

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Before & After: My White Peugeot Gets a Makeover

As you  may recall, I’ve been on the lookout for a new bike. Waterloo (the city and region) is quite bike friendly, and it’s so easy to get from Uptown Waterloo to Downtown Kitchener on one of the paths. Biking around these parts is convenient, doable, and safe. My pinkie is a good bike, but it’s a mountain bike and heavy. It’s also not as cute as some of the retro bikes currently on the market.

I looked at quite a number of hip bike companies online as I was doing research (e.g., Public, Linus, Tokyobike) as well as some of the traditional go-to stores (e.g., Canadian Tire). I didn’t pull the trigger on a bike purchase until I learned about a vintage Peugeot on the ol’ Kijiji. Oh, Kijiji.

I was even slow to decide about the Peugeot as I knew it needed some work, and although I’m really good at envisioning before and afters in home renovations, I really couldn’t wrap my head around a bike makeover.

In the end, I couldn’t pass up on a bike that was made in France in the 1970s that was white, gold, black, and, did I already say French? Oui, oui! So I bought the darn thing. And it was dirty. And I wasn’t even certain it could be “renovated.”

Here are the before photos:

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I started the cleaning process on my own just to see what I was dealing with. (Side note: do not mix cleaning materials such as stove cleaner and CLR as you might end up with slight chemical burns. Oops. #DIYfail #thankgoodnessIwaswearinggloves) White-Cabana-Peugeot-6

Anyhoo – fast forward a few weeks, and I’ve learned quite a bit about bikes. What I’ve learned (correct me if I’m wrong), is that just about everything on a bike can be replaced. If the frame is good, then you’re off to a perfect start. Some people buy vintage bikes just for the frame, in fact.. Does that make sense? With encouragement from others, and a bunch of online searching, I was convinced that my white Peugeot had major potential.

As I knew I needed some replacement parts (um, did you see the rusty chain?), I threw (gently but not gracefully) my made-in-France vintage Peugeot into the back of my Rav4, and I took it on over to the Berlin Bicycle Café (it’s a cafe and repair shop, by the way) for some TLC.

I had Joan’s vintage Peugeot in my mind as my ideal end-result bike, and I even started a Peugeot Pinterest board to store my bike makeover ideas. Graham and his team at the Berlin Bicycle Café took good care of my bike and found parts that suited the style, made the bike functional, and were well-made (hello German tires, I’m looking at you!).

When I picked up my bike last week, I was pleased with how it all came together. Have a look:

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My Peugeot now has made-in-Germany Schwalbe tires, new tire rims, silver brake levers, white cable cords (so so nice!), a Brooks England B67 saddle, cork grips, and a fantastic totally-reminds-me-of-Euro-bikes kickstand. Oh, and a gold bell. Can’t forget the bell!

The Berlin Bicycle Café team also shined up the fenders and handlebars, so the bike (for a 1970s bike) looks just about brand new. I’m very happy with how it turned out.

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Marketplace: TYR Triathlon Gear

Recently, after a delicious BBQ and a couple of drinks with Tim and Chris, my friends and I agreed to sign up for a triathlon relay. As you do, right? As none of us felt prepared to complete a full triathlon on our own, but each of us had skills in one of the required areas (swim, bike, run), we figured a relay was the way to go (we’re calling ourselves #TeamCHI). And by doing the relay, we are able to join our one friend (Chris) who is doing the full triathlon; it’s going to be a day of adventure for all of us! This will be my first triathlon relay experience, and I’m excited!

On my relay team, I’m in charge of the swim portion – 750m in a lake. A lake! 750m! I was slightly nervous a couple of weeks ago when I first jumped in the pool for my first length swim in several many years and felt out of breath after 300m. Since that first swim though, I’ve built my endurance and I’m now good for 1000m (900m crawl + 100m breast). Now that I’m feeling more confident about my endurance, I’m reading up on how to mentally prepare. I’m not actually nervous, but more icked-out by swimming in a lake. The water is going to be dark, and I’ll be swimming alongside fish. Um. Yeah. Just slightly icked-out.

Chris – the full-tri guy – is mentoring and encouraging me as he’s completed several triathlons in the past. He’s let me know that a wet suit is a must because not only will it help with the ick-factor, but it’ll also help with buoyancy in the water which will help my swim speed. Awesome.

So, naturally, I turned to my favourite athletic swim company – TYR – to check out their triathlon gear. I’ve collaborated with TYR in the past, and I’m thrilled that they’ve agreed to sponsor Chris and I in this triathlon. I’ve been wearing TYR since my lifeguarding days way back when (and probably even before those days when I was swimming and taking lessons as a kid). To prep, I’ve been swimming at my local pool* wearing my TYR athletic bikini and my trusty TYR swim cap, so all I need to add now is the wetsuit.

I’m new to the wetsuit market, so I did some research before ordering through TYR. There are sleeveless and sleeved wetsuits:

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women’s hurricane wetsuit cat 1, $174.99

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women’s hurricane wetsuit cat 1, $124.99 (on sale) Isn’t the back fantastic? I love that sleek silver panel.

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men’s hurricane wetsuit cat 5, $499.99

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women’s hurricane wetsuit cat 2, $349.99

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women’s hurricane freak of nature wetsuit, $1199.99 (instant abs on this one!)

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men’s hurricane wetsuit cat 3 (detail), $549.99

I was convinced to go with a sleeved suit after speaking with some other people and reading various triathlon guides. Each of the TYR wetsuits are specially designed to be super sleek and flexible. The wetsuits are also designed with triathletes in mind (e.g., the Category 3 wetsuit, for example, has quick release ankle cuffs to ease removal), and various panel designs in the suits assist the swimmer’s buoyancy. Very neat.

Once our suits arrive, Chris and I are going to take them for a test swim in the pool. Wish us luck as we squeeze ourselves into these sleek suits. I think I’m going to feel like I’m a superhero once mine is on!

Does anyone have any experience swimming in a wetsuit? If so, please share! I’d love to learn from you!

*Another reason I love living in Waterloo – I have a 50m length pool within walking distance. This makes swim training really convenient!

Thanks to TYR for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.

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Travel: Things to Do and See in Florence

Oh, Florence. With help from the Expedia.ca team, I was lucky enough to spend just about 5 days in Florence in June, and it was a very special visit. My dad and I had the most incredible tour guide (Ciao Ivo!), and my cousin (Ciao Roby!) joined us for a couple of days, too. The four of us had a grand ol’ time, and I’ve been eager to share the highlights with you. Here we go!

See and Do

1. San Miniato al Monte

On our first day in Florence, Ivo drove us up to San Miniato al Monte. The church is an architectural masterpiece with carved stone floors, carved walls, intricate ceilings, and marble inlay everything. It’s beautiful.

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San Miniato al Monte

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Dad and il famoso Ivo – and Florence in the background

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the magnificent carved stone floorSan-Miniato-al-Monte-Florence-3

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always look up – the ceiling work was crazy good

Visitors can certainly walk (hike up to) the church, but going in the car was much easier on our feet and legs.

Outside the church, we saw the most beautiful magnolia trees and incredibly fragrant jasmine. Oh, readers, it was amazing!

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2. The Uffizi

The Uffizi Gallery in the centre of Florence houses some incredible art. It holds the largest collection of Italian masterpieces (someone correct me if I’m wrong, please). And some of the art you won’t see anywhere else in the world. The museum is home to pieces by Botticelli, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, and da Vinci (basically all the Ninja Turtles…and then some!).

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Duke and Duchess of Urbino by Piero della Franceschi

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The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli

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always look up – a gilded ceiling

If you decide to go, you may want to reserve your ticket in advance (easy to do in person) so that you can skip the long lines. Doing so will only cost you a few more Euros than the admission price.

3. Ponte Vecchio

It’s worth going to the Ponte Vecchio because (a) how could you miss it, (b) it’s one cool bridge, (c) the views of and from the bridge are pretty amazing. I, however, could avoid going here on future visits. It’s absolutely crowded with tourists, the shops of gold have very few customers in them, and it’s really just a place of chaos. It’s not for me.

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4. The Pharmacy of Santa Maria Novella

The Pharmacy of Santa Maria Novella is a short walk away from the main crowded tourist areas, and it’s housed in an absolutely gorgeous building. You wouldn’t really know this from the outside, but once you’re in, you’ll notice beautiful tile work, grand ceilings, and artfully displayed pharmacy products in glass cases. It’s also a shop, so if you’re looking for beautiful soaps and toiletries, this is your place.

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always look up – a painted ceiling and a gorgeous chandelier

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classic apothecary

5. Salvatore Ferragamo Museum

Florence is the home of great fashion houses like Gucci and Ferragamo. And these two fashion houses each have a museum. I went to the Museo Ferragamo one day because I needed a break from the crowds and heat, and it was a small, approachable museum. Inside, I found gorgeous shoes, dresses, and artwork. Yes. It was worth a visit.

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6. Pitti Uomo

Okay. Even though Pitti Uomo invaded Florence while I was there, driving hotel prices up, up, and then even farther up (see my rant below), it was absolutely wonderful and inspiring to be in Florence during the expo. Buyers, designers, and the fashionable folk were in full force, and for us onlookers, it was a feast for our fashion senses! I have never seen so many beautifully dressed men. The suits, the colours, the shoes, the attitude…wow, wow, wow! Totally dandy!

Oh – and just about every store on Via De’Tornabuoni was having a party. Some were open to the public, so my cousin and I obviously stopped in and had a toast with the fashion set of Florence!

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7. Richard Ginori Shop

I was excited to see the Richard Ginori flagship. Richard Ginori is a well-known Italian porcelain brand that has recently been acquired by Gucci. The designs of these hand-painted fine china pieces are just incredible. Even if you don’t appreciate fine china, it’s worth a visit to the store. Both the building and the product displays are aesthetically stunning. Go.

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I happened to go on a day where one of the Ginori artists, Elisa Verniani, was painting away by the entry. I was mesmerized by the delicate movement of her paintbrush. She was also very pleasant and friendly and answered about a bajillion questions. (p.s. shout out also the kind couple who joined our chat and complimented me on my Italian. Grazie!)

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the finished product (it takes about two weeks to complete)

8. Il Duomo

Il Duomo is yet another Florence landmark. It’s a stunning building, and no amount of photos can actually evoke the feeling you get when you’re near it, walking around it, touring inside of it. It’s magnificent.

We learned that there is an entrance fee to the Basillico. We managed to avoid the fee by working our Italian connection (long story for another day).

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I got my cousin jumping (blurry but fun!)

Stay

Florence is constantly busy with tourists, conferences, and events, but I think I booked my trip during the absolute busiest time of the year. You see, Pitti Uomo (the men’s fashion expo) was in town while I was there and the city was invaded by 30,000+ extra people. OMG. I had my first taste of the busyness when I was booking my hotel. Prices had sky-rocketed, and it was impossible (truly!) to get a hotel for less than $300.

Originally, I had booked an apartment via Expedia.ca, and I was so happy with this option because of my longer stay in the city. About a month or so before I left Canada, however, the apartment person contacted me and told me it was double booked for part of my stay, so although the lady offered an alternative stay for 2 nights, this was going to be rather inconvenient, so I opted to use Expedia.ca’s cancellation policy and start a new booking.

So, back to the drawing board. There were slim pickings in terms of hotel rooms and apartment options a month before Pitti Uomo (and my vacation), so I opted for the Hotel Curtatone near Santa Maria Novella, which is about a 15 minute walk from the Ponte Vecchio. The nightly rate was $300+ during the week I was there (it’s around $150-$200 during non-Pitti Uomo days). It’s clean, but I wouldn’t stay there again.

It’s noted as a 3-star hotel, but it was miles behind the  3-star hotels I stayed at in Rimini and Bologna. The air conditioning didn’t work on the first night and we received some bu**s*** story about it. (This is when it really helps to know the local language so as to not be taken advantage of.) The room was clean, but not spectacular. The balcony in the second room I had (yes, I switched rooms during my stay) was definitely a nice addition. The breakfast was mediocre (as in, there was no Nutella and the croissants and toast bread wasn’t great; the yogurt was fine though). I did like the location as it was away from the main touristy areas, and after days of touring in noisy crowds, it was nice to sleep in a quiet area. Final point – I would not stay at this hotel again.

So where would I stay? If I stayed in the centre of Florence again, I’d stay at the Hotel Lungarno. It’s white and beautiful. It’s right in the middle of the action and has gorgeous views of the river and Ponte Vecchio.

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Likely, though, I’d completely avoid the centre of the Florence at this time of year. I’d get completely out of the city and stay in a neighbouring small town like Fiesole. I would take the bus to Florence (or have a rental car), and experience the quieter side of the region.

Eat

Food in Florence, like elsewhere in Italy, is reasonably priced, and, really, you just can’t beat Italian food. I didn’t have one bad meal in my two weeks in the country. Not even a bad snack. Everything was just so yummy! Here are two of my foodie recommendations for you.

1. Venchi gelato

If you’re in Florence (or anywhere in Italy) during the warmer months, I challenge you to go even one day without eating gelato. It’s the best snack/treat/meal to eat while touring towns/cities/villages. The. Best. I miss it a lot. It’s also acceptable to eat gelato twice a day. Just as an FYI.

One of the popular gelaterias that began in Florence is Venchi. It’s a chocolate lovers’ heaven. The gelato is excellent, and I should know as I made several visits during my stay.

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And don’t worry if you can’t make it to Venchi, just eat gelato from whatever place inspires you. And try as many flavours as you possibly can because once you leave Italy, you won’t find the same gelato elsewhere.

2. All’Antico Venaio

This hole-in-the-wall panini place – All’Antico Venaio – is bustling. There’s always a line-up, the food is ridiculously fresh and delicious, and the street is lined with people sitting on the edge of the road eating paninis. Talk about un casino. There’s an All’Antico Venaio on either side of the street. One of them is a sit-down place, but I liked the hustle and bustle of the take-out only counter.

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my panini with a view of the osteria (sit-down) side of All’Antico Vinaio

So, there you have it, dear readers, a glimpse into my trip to Florence. Have you been? Would you go back?

Follow our father-daughter adventures in Italy on Instagram at #WhiteCabanaxExpediaCA and Twitter at #WhiteCabanaxExpediaCA.

Other posts in this series: Booking with Expedia.ca, 5 Tips for Traveling with a Parent, Things to do in Rimini, Italy, Stay and Play in Bologna, Italy, Things that Amuse Me about Italy

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Travel: Things that Amuse Me About Italy

By now, you may have caught up on my stories from my trip to Italy in June (already almost two months ago!). If not, go ahead and click on the following links to catch up on my father-daughter trip (made possible by the folks over at Expedia.ca):

Italy – as you perhaps can tell from my stories – is all about la dolce vita. The people are my people. The food is my food. The way people enjoy each other’s company (with food, of course) works for me. I love so many things about the Italian culture (of which I was born into – lucky me!) and I hope you have – or will be able to – travel to Italy so you can experience it for yourself.

I have plenty to share today. In this post (part I for today), I want to highlight some of the things I love about Italy/my observations/things that amuse me. Later today, I’ll publish a post focused on my time in Florence.

Ready? Let’s go!

The Italian language…

My Italian is decent. I can get whatever I need, ask questions, and I can now even throw in a bit of sarcasm or jokes into conversation. I may not speak rapidly or using perfectly formed sentences, but I can certainly communicate. This isn’t to say that it isn’t hard. It is. I rarely practice Italian when I’m in Canada, unfortunately, so when I’m in Italy, I struggle with words and verb tenses. Luckily, the Italians were very kind and they told me that I’m brava. Grazie!

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a quick stop at the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature at the University of Pisa

Given my language learning and teaching background, I can easily get fixated on words, pronunciation, and expressions when others might overlook these things or find them uninteresting. So, there are plenty of words that I absolutely love to say and hear; some of these are…

chiacchierare

This means “to chit chat.” I love how this word sounds. It sort of sounds like kia-kia-ra-reh (with rolled “r”s). It’s been one of my favourite words for many years now, I have to say. When I saw these five ladies huddled on a bench in Rimini, this is the word that came to my mind. There they were, enjoying the day, gossiping, chatting, and watching the world go by. Awesome.

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asciugamano

When I was at the beach, I could not remember the word for towel at all. I used the English and French versions before the kind beach cabana man responded to me with “si, si, un’asciugamano”. I was like, of course! I love how this word sounds. For one simple item (a towel), this word has five syllables. It sort of sounds like ah-shoo-ga-man-oh.

casino

This is perhaps my most favourite word of the whole Italian language. “Era un casino” sort of means “it was chaotic,” but casino is a much more enjoyable word, in my opinion, than chaos. While the word seems simple when you say it/spell it/hear it/write it (it is pronounced like ka-scene-oh), the word is a powerful one! It can be used for so many things…traffic, congestion on the sidewalk, disorganized supermarket shelves, bikes and pedestrians sharing a path, confusion over a restaurant reservation…there are countless uses, and when no other word comes to mind to describe a frenetic situation, you can just use casino.

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parking areas for bikes, scooters, and cars can definitely become a casino!

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the Piazza della Signoria in Florence is definitely a casino for the majority of the day

meraviglioso

I think I like this word mostly because of how it looks when it’s written out. I love that dip of the lowercase “g”. Honestly, this is how geeky I am when it comes to language. Not only do I think about the meaning, and the sound of the word, but I also judge a word by its look. Seriously. True story. #crazyforlanguages

So this word means wonderful, but it is so much more beautiful than the word wonderful. It is pronounced like mare-a-vi(g)-li-o-so. Try it. Like it?

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the carved floor at San Miniato al Monte in Florence was meraviglioso!

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the Leaning Tower of Pisa is also meraviglioso!

So not to hog this post with everything language-related, I’m offering up some other observations…

driving

Thank goodness I’ve been in cars with attentive Italian drivers. While there are rules of the road in Italy, sometimes I feel like they’re optional. Stay in your lane or don’t. Signal or don’t. Stop at a red light or don’t. Like I said, optional. Speed bumps don’t seem to be of much use. Unless maybe you’re on a scooter and you don’t feel like jumping out of your seat…then, maybe, you’ll slow down at the speed bump. Watching people manaover la rotonda (the roundabout) is fascinating. I don’t know why people in Waterloo have such a tough time with them. The Italians have them under control. No stopping, just go, go, go!

children

I’m not judging parenting styles here, I’m just sharing with you what I’ve observed (generally). In Rimini (a beach town), kids were out and about with their parents until past 10pm and 11pm. No. Big. Deal. They weren’t screaming or cranky, they were just there. Hanging out with their parents and friends. Playing. Chatting. Riding bikes. I know many of them were on vacation, and we were at the beach, but I was still surprised to see how engaged they were with beach life. And they weren’t being bribed with gelato or toys as far as I could tell. (I seem to be more sensitive to children’s behaviour/parenting styles since I began working at a university. I’m always surprised by the number of parents who come in with – and do the talking on behalf of – their adult children. I’ve even heard of some who want to go to orientation days with their children.)

Children in Italy are more than welcome at restaurants. Young Italian children that I’ve known (or observed) know how to use forks and knives properly, and they just do as the adults do. They may be eating pizza while their parents work on a three-course meal, but they’re doing so politely, calmly, and without (an apparent) fuss (I know it’s not all roses, but I was always surprised to see how children – and their parents – comported themselves at the dining table).

Italian children seem to ride bicycles from an early age (as in two-wheelers, without head-to-toe padded protection as I’ve observed where I live). They’re in the street. They’re in the bike lanes. They’re riding alongside their parents and friends. Many don’t wear helmets. These kids would just go-go-go without hesitation. They navigated the bike lane and road crossings impressively. It’s just the way things are done (okay, maybe moreso in Rimini than in the centre of Florence, but you get the idea, right?). Cars and pedestrians are aware of cyclists, but it was still surprising to see everything in motion on the shared roads.

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a beautiful white bike (notice the kid seat at the handle bars) in Lucca, Italy

Check back later today for my recap of things to see and do in Florence.

Follow our father-daughter adventures in Italy on Instagram at #WhiteCabanaxExpediaCA and Twitter at #WhiteCabanaxExpediaCA.

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Travel: Laughing Around Pisa, Italy

While in Italy with Expedia.ca last month, Ivo (my dad’s friend from Florence) took us to Pisa one the day. I hadn’t ever been to Pisa, so I was looking forward to seeing the tower (of course) and the town. Of course, it was wonderful to have Ivo as our tour guide while we were in Italy. It was convenient that he was the driver (driving in/out is much more chaotic than it is in North America!), but Expedia.ca also offers car rental options (in fact, I used Expedia.ca to book my current car rental in Florida – it has competitive pricing!).

The Leaning Tower of Pisa was smaller than I had thought. It’s absolutely white and beautiful and incredible. The columns that surround the tower are perfectly aligned, and the tower has been cleaned in recent years. I stared at it for so long trying to imagine how a building that leans so much remains standing. I know it’s been reinforced and all that, but it seriously leans! A lot! It’s crazy!

There were an incredible number of tourists in Pisa – surrounding the tower, the basilica and filing through the outdoor market.

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You may have seen a bunch of photos of people posing with the Leaning Tower of Pisa to create the illusion of holding it, learning on it, or picking it up, right (if not, see this). I thought I’d give it a try, too, but things didn’t quite work out the way that they were supposed to. First, I had to try to explain to dad the whole photo illusion concept because he hadn’t seen them created before, and then when that wasn’t working out, I passed the camera over to Ivo and reexplained everything in Italian. While I may not have ended up with one of those classic amusing photos, I did end up with a really full blooper reel. Want to laugh? Keep scrolling.

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Yup. Not. Even. Close. Sometimes, White Cabana (and Dad and Ivo) just does things differently…

Hope I made you laugh today!

Follow our father-daughter adventures in Italy on Instagram at #WhiteCabanaxExpediaCA and Twitter at #WhiteCabanaxExpediaCA. Stay tuned for a couple more Italian posts in the weeks ahead.

Other posts in this series: Booking with Expedia.ca, 5 Tips for Traveling with a Parent, Things to do in Rimini, Italy, Stay and Play in Bologna, Italy

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Travel: Things to Do in Rimini, Italy

While Dad and I flew into Bologna, we weren’t there for long.  After waiting for ages for our luggage, we met Dad’s friend (and now mine), Ivo, at the exit. I was exhausted, so I was happy that neither Dad nor I had to think about the next leg of our journey. Instead, Ivo shuffled us into his car and drove us all to Rimini, a beach town on the Adriatic coast about a 1 hour drive from Bologna (in Italy, when people talk about distance, they refer to the kilometers rather than the time. Rimini is approximately 120km from Bologna.)

Rimini was our first stop on our #WhiteCabanaxExpediaCA vacation as my Dad’s highschool reunion lunch (a mulit-hour feast!) happened on the Sunday. A weekend at an Italian beach? Nobody had to twist my arm to go.

For the movie buffs out there, you may have already heard of Rimini as it’s the hometown of film director Federico Fellini. There are nods to Fellini throughout the city, including renamed streets after Fellini films. Fellini, I learned, based characters, places, and images of Rimini throughout his hometown (even though many were shot entirely in Roman film studios). His movie 8 1/2, of which my hotel’s street was named, won an Oscar, too, and featured the gorgeous Grand Hotel (see below). I haven’t yet watched it, but it’s now on my must-watch list.

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Let me take you on a little tour of the Rimini that I experienced over a period of three days last month.

Places to Stay

After I booked my flight with Expedia.ca and I got a sense of my Dad’s itinerary, I started researching and booking hotels. As anyone who has used Expedia.ca knows, hotel searching and booking is simple and straightforward. Dad had narrowed down Rimini hotel options for me as Ivo gave him some recommendations. As such, I used the search tool to look up Rimini hotel options.

Because of location and insider recommendations, I booked the Villa Bianca – an affordable, clean, bright hotel, located right on the beach (and in English, the hotel is called White House….perfect for me, right?). On beach vacations, I would always recommend booking a hotel right on the beach. You’ll appreciate the proximity and views. Villa Bianca‘s location was perfect, and the outdoor seating areas were white-white-white!

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lots of white outside at Villa Bianca

Villa Bianca is a partner hotel with Villa Litoraneo. Apparently, the rooms in the Litoraneo are slightly larger than those in Villa Bianca, but the two hotels share the same breakfast, views, pool, and location. Both are  very reasonably priced, so you really couldn’t go wrong with either.

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Dad and I by the pool (which I never did dip into)

My room was very clean, and it had everything I needed, including a balcony (sorry – no photos – it was much too colourful!). I loved opening the balcony doors every morning to see what was going on in the beachy world around me. There was nothing particularly special about the room; the bed was comfortable, shower pressure was good, the TV worked, and wifi was easily accessible. The breakfast, though, was substantial and inviting.

Since I was working on a budget (still trying to get my money tree to produce actual money!), I tried to keep all of my hotels at or under $200 in every city I traveled to. If budget was not a consideration, however, I would definitely splurge for the Grand Hotel. Not only was it featured in Fellini’s 8 1/2 film, it was absolutely stunning – historic, white, grand, and all-around gorgeous.

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curves on the patio

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ceiling details at the Grand Hotel

Now, before moving on to food (drool, drool), let me take a moment to talk about the star rating system for hotels in Italy. In short, ignore them. The system is not as regulated/formal/consistent as it is in North America and there aren’t as many chain hotel companies as there are here. Sometimes a 2-star hotel is much better than a 3-star hotel. When searching for hotels, I would keep the stars in mind, but I wouldn’t recommend that you use them as a completely reliable source. The 3-star Villa Bianca in Rimini, for example, was miles ahead of the 3-star hotel I stayed in in Florence. What would I do? I’d look up reviews online from other travelers (North American and non-North American), bloggers, and travel sites, and look at the hotel’s website, too.

Places to Eat

I’m just about convinced that you can eat anywhere in Italy and be pleased with your meal. The food is just so delicious (not that I’m biased). While in Rimini, we had a few meals along the main beach-front street (via Lungomare), and everything was delicious. What I would recommend, though, if you’re in Rimini, is to eat fish. Lots and lots of fish.

As you may know, each region in Italy has its own specialties, and I’d recommend you try to eat the food of the region. Italians are very passionate about food (and everything, really), and they can spend days talking about the quality of the food at the market/restaurant/region. If you can, ask locals (or watch locals) what they’d recommend.

One of the most delicious pastas I had while I was in Italy was pasta alla vongole (pasta with clams) in Rimini. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the name of the restaurant, but it was one of the average restaurants on the main street. It was so yummy!

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bibs for adults? yes, please

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Dad and Ivo give the thumbs up for their lunch choices (Ciao, Ivo!)

The highschool reunion lunch happened at the most scenic restaurant – Rock Island. This place is the only place in Rimini that is on the water. Literally, on the water. You have to walk on a pedestrian-only pier to get to it, and once there, the views are beautiful. I’m not sure if the meals they serve are always so extravagant, but ours was! Fish after fish after fish – all served family style. Loved it.

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semifreddo mandole (almond ice cream)

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the view at Rock Island

In the town of Rimini (a short drive away from the beach), I’m sure there are a lot of great restaurants to try. Our in-town eating consisted of gelato, so I don’t have any restaurant recommendations for you. Can’t go wrong with that.

Another thing about eating out in Italy…When you’re in Italy, I would recommend adopting the Italian meal schedule. You’ll look like the odd-man-out if you eat a light lunch at noon and a big dinner at 5pm. I mean, this is okay, but if you want to experience the Italian way, you should make some adjustments. Eat lunch at 1pm or 2pm and make it a good one. Have a couple of courses, drink a glass of wine, and enjoy the slow-paced afternoon. Maybe have a gelato between lunch and dinner. Dinner at 9pm is perfectly acceptable. You’d likely have something light like a caprese salad (tomato and mozzarella). Leaving the dinner table at 11pm is absolutely normal – especially when you’re on vacation!

Things to Do

The beach. You’re in Rimini. Go to the beach. There, that’s easy enough advice, isn’t it?

Honestly, the beach is the place to be. It is wide and long and clean. In June, there were a decent amount of people, but I’m sure that Rimini is jam-packed come July or August when Italians (and other European tourists) are on vacation.

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Generally, beach hotels have reserved sections of seating on the beach, so check with your hotel before venturing to the sand. You can, of course, just bring a towel and park yourself near the water, but the way that (most) Italians do it is that they rent a chaise and umbrella for the day (lettino e ombrellone). The Villa Bianca also offered a bit of a discount, and I’m sure other hotels do the same. My chaise was 4 or 5 euros. I’d recommend getting the umbrella, too, if you’re planning to spend a full day at the beach. It gets very hot, and the umbrella offers the perfect shade. The rental fee should also include a towel and locker room/shower access. Italians may be disorganized in some regards (e.g., driving), but they’ve got the beach thing completely under control. It’s a pretty seamless system. La dolce vita!

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When you need a break from the beach, take a walk along the via Lungomare (the waterfront street) and grab a gelato (recurring theme, can you tell?).

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Besides the beach zone, the town of Rimini is definitely worth a visit. The pedestrian, cobblestone streets are perfect for a passeggiata (a stroll), and there are plenty of shops and cafés to pop into.

There’s a ton of history in Rimini, and I learned all about it on a guided tour. Unfortunately, my memory is terrible, and I took zero notes, so you’re going to have to go take a tour yourself to learn all about the battles and buildings. Essentially, Rimini has served as a central communication point between other regions in Italy. If I understood correctly, Rimini was an important place in Italy’s history because it serves as a direct route to places like Rome and Bologna. That’s the summed up version of its history (terrible, I know!).

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Arco d’Augusto

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So this basically sums up my weekend in Rimini. Would I go back? Definitely!

Learn more about Rimini.

Follow our father-daughter adventures in Italy on Instagram at #WhiteCabanaxExpediaCA and Twitter at #WhiteCabanaxExpediaCA. Stay tuned for more Italian posts in the weeks ahead.

Grazie mille, Expedia.ca.

Note: all opinions are my own. Other posts in this series: Booking with Expedia.ca, 5 Tips for Traveling with a Parent

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The Friday Five: 5 Tips for Traveling with a Parent

There are a lot of travel tips out there – traveling with babies, kids, pets; traveling on a budget; traveling light; etc., but there are few articles addressing the topic of traveling with a parent.

Thanks to Expedia.ca, I was able to join my Dad on a trip to Italy last month. As you may remember, Dad was heading to Italy for a reunion with his highschool friends. He had done this for the first time last year after a 50-year separation. Fifty! Five-Zero! Can you believe it? His friend (who I’ll be introducing in a future post!) connected with him via Facebook a couple of years ago, and they’ve been in touch ever since.

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our first selfie of our Italian vacation (this selfie wouldn’t have happened if not for Expedia.ca!)

I thought I would share five tips for traveling with – ahem – an older parent just in case young(er) daughters and sons are giving this type of vacation some consideration.

Now, before I get into my five tips, I should admit a few things.

1. Dad is a seasoned traveler.

This most certainly helps the whole father-daughter (retiree-youngen) travel situation. The fact that Dad has been traveling around the world since he was a teen (he did come to Canada on his own when he was 19 after all) means that he’s very familiar with airports, taxis, train systems, and “other”ness.

2. Dad and I have traveled together.

I can’t even count how many trips we’ve taken just the two of us. Because we’ve traveled together, I have a good sense of Dad’s travel abilities. Knowing what he’s like when he travels or when he’s outside of his normal routines (retirees, I tell ya!) helps me stay calm and know when to push/not push limits. He also knows when to help me, when to organize things, and when to leave me alone.

3. Dad speaks Italian.

Going to Italy may be intimidating for some because of the language barrier, but this was not an issue for us as both Dad and I speak Italian. Because Dad and I both know Italian, communication in Italy wasn’t the responsibility of only one of us. Since each of us could communicate with locals, it meant that neither of us was acting as “translator”. I’ve held this gig before and it can get tiring for everyone.

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We’re just about to head to the airport. Dad with his luggage and me with wet hair. Perfect.

So, now that you know more about where Dada and I started, let me share five tips for traveling with (an older, but still active) parent. (Dad, I hope I’m not offending you with all of this age talk. Age is just a number after all, right? I know you’re reading this.)

1. Have a positive attitude.

There is a ton of info out there about how a positive attitude is key to just about everything. When it comes to traveling with a parent – or anyone, really – your attitude can make or break your vacation. Remember that you’re on vacation (hello, vacation!), and so really, nothing should get in the way of enjoying yourself.

Okay – another admission – Although I, like Dad, am a seasoned traveler, I’ve traveled quite a bit on my own. I love traveling on my own. I’ve gotten used to traveling on my own. While others are scared to travel on their own, I’m scared to travel with other people. True story. Anyone with me on this? Traveling with others  makes me a bit nervous because I don’t want to get in fights about what to see/do/eat, I want to see/do/eat what I want without having to consider others (I’m so selfish), and I want to sleep in/see a museum/eat gelato for dinner/go to bed early/stay up late when I want. Totally selfish. Independent. Strong-willed. Whatever you want to call me. That’s how I am. Friends and family who have (dared to) travel with me are well aware of my issues and know that I need my independence.

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Here we are at Pearson on the tapis roulant (moving sidewalk – what are these things called in English or French?). In between selfies, dad’s saying, “This is why you always drop your phone, Jordana.”

So how do I travel with my Dad when I’m such an independent bugger? Well, I try to stay positive:

  • I know in advance that Dad and I are not going to want to do all the same things at  the same time. And that’s okay. We’re still family. This doesn’t mean that we’re bad travel buddies.
  • I realize that this is a special vacation that I’m so lucky to be on and that some daughters never get to experience traveling with their fathers. This is a cool opportunity, and it’s going to be memorable for both of us.
  • I don’t need to stress about seeing everything. Italy will always be there. What we see is what we see.
  • I talk to Dad in advance of the trip of my itinerary ideas to see where his interests lie.
  • I think again about what an amazing adventure we’re on, and that we’re so lucky to be able to see the world together (thanks a million, Expedia.ca!)

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We made it from Toronto to Frankfurt. We look tired but happy. Dad’s saying, “Make sure you get the planes in the background, Jordana.” My response, “I’m half-asleep, Dad. I’ll do my best.”

2. Have faith.

Okay, this may sound rude, but I’m going to say it anyway. Just because your parent may be 30+ years older than you, it doesn’t mean that s/he is not capable.

I have faith in Dad’s abilities. I know he can pack and carry his own luggage, connect to wi-fi independently on his iPhone, ask for directions, navigate trains, book things online, and check-in to his flight via the airline’s automated check-in kiosk.

Dad’s very capable and if he needs help, he’ll ask. I am confident that if Dad needed me to do something for him, he’d ask. In general though, I keep my expectations high so that he doesn’t fall into the “my daughter organizes everything for me” trap. That’ll just make his brain lazy, right? (I hope noone is calling me out on being an ageist. I’m not an ageist. I’m a realist.)

So, I’d recommend that you have faith in your parent’s abilities to travel. S/he may not do things your way at your speed, but s/he has made it through a lot of life without you. Your parent can do this!

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We’re ready to board our Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt, Germany to Bologna, Italy. Dad’s saying, “Look at all the names printed on the side. Who are they?” My response, “Look here, Dad, for another selfie.”

3. Communicate and know limits.

Dad and I aren’t the most perfect communicators on the planet (wait until I share my Pisa photos with you!), but when it comes to traveling together, I think we’re pretty good at checking in with one another about status/sight seeing interests/fatigue levels/meal preferences/etc.

It’s good to be aware of when your parent may need an extra long coffee break or a mid-day nap, or when your parent can power through (when you might need a mid-day nap).

It’s also helpful to know your parent’s eating habits. Food is a major part of my life (and my family’s), but we all have our preferences. Knowing Dad’s limits when it comes to food type preferences, meal times, and eating out helps me organize my own meals and dining experiences. There’s no point trying to convince Dad to eat dinner at a fancy restaurant at 9pm when I know all he wants is a light meal at 6pm. You know?

While I do admit that my Dad is very capable, I’m aware of limits. When I’m too quick at airport security or walking too fast to catch a train, I know that he won’t keep up, so I slow down or I ask him if he wants help (he never said yes, now that I think about it). If we miss a train, we miss a train. Another one will come along. (Side note: We never missed a train. In Bologna, we hustled and made it with 30 seconds to spare. Go team!)

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Breakfast in Rimini, Italy. We’re both fans of Nutella. #truth

4. Be independent.

So Dad doesn’t want to eat dinner at 9pm at a fancy restaurant. No big deal. I’m happy to go on my own. I think having time away from one another is a healthy part of traveling with others. When each traveler has some independence, they get to explore what they want and take a break from talking (seriously. especially when you’re spending so much time talking in your 3rd language as in my case. it’s totally tiring.). Exploring a city independently means that you’ll have stories to share when you do catch up. And that’s so fun!

Dad and I had time apart during our Italian vacation, and I think this made us both happy. He’d get sick of me just as much as I’d get sick of him if we were to spend 24 hours a day together. When we met up in Florence after I spent three days in Bologna on my own, for example, I was able to share all of my stories and photos with him. And he was able to fill me in on what he’d been up to in Florence. I thought it was great.

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selfie at San Miniato al Monte in Florence, Italy

5. Know when to take the lead.

Even though you, like me, may be traveling with an independent, capable, and experienced parent, I think it’s useful to know when you should just forget about all of that stuff and take the lead. This could mean following the signs at the train station for both of your sake, asking for directions, or making final decisions about what restaurant to go to.

Taking the lead means you get to show your parent how capable you are, to reassure them that you’ve got things under control, and to give them a chance to rest or regroup. Taking the lead might force them to try something out of the ordinary. And if your parent wants to take the lead for a chunk of time, let them. Dad, for example, was in charge of booking all of our trains. Awesome. Worked for me.

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selfie with the leaning tower in Pisa, Italy

Bonus:

Make matching t-shirts to tell the world that you’re a team! It was absolutely hilarious to travel around Italy with our matching White Cabana t-shirts. I’m eager to make more professional ones for our next adventure…even if it is just to the grocery store.

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spending father’s day together in Codogno, Italy

Follow our father-daughter adventures in Italy on Instagram at #WhiteCabanaxExpediaCA and Twitter at #WhiteCabanaxExpediaCA. Stay tuned for more Italian posts in the weeks ahead.

Many many many thanks to Expedia.ca for sponsoring my trip. Grazie mille! All opinions are my own.

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Two for Tuesday: Happy Birthday, Dad!

Today’s two for Tuesday is extra special because it’s my dad’s birthday! This styling man…

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has gone from hiking in suits in Italy as a teenager to…

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hanging out in baseball-style tees in Toronto and texting local and international family and friends on his iPhone.

And he’s the most photogenic out of anyone in our family.

Seriously.

My Dad continues to have bursts of energy (in between resting, of course) and has helped me with countless reno projects at my home…you’ve surely seen shout-outs in these posts! Soon we’ll be off to Italy on our father-daughter trip of 2016. Bring on the gelato (you’re paying, right, Dad?)!

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Fashion: Needham Lane’s Sleepwear Part II

Last month, I introduced you to Needham Lane’s sleepwear collection. I’ve been wearing my pj sets ever since they arrived, and they’re doing very well. The fabric is soft, the fit is good, and my sets have survived multiple turns through the washer and dryer. Yes, dryer, too.

I packed them up for my recent trip to Toronto, and my friend Shannon was kind enough to take some photos (she found her inner Nigel Barker-noted fashion photographer). While I know models prepare for photoshoots with the help of a hair, makeup, and styling team, I prepared by waking up, brushing my teeth, and brushing my hair. I opted for a low-fuss, au naturel approach (did I have a choice?).

I actually slept in the Maxwell long sleeve pajama, and I wear this one regularly because I like the long sleeves and pants. I like the black and white checkered pattern, too.

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wearing the Maxwell long sleeve pajama

In addition to the checked long sleeve set, Needham Lane sent over the Madison fuchsia short sleeve capri pajama. It’s hard to resist a crisp white set, and I like the punch of fuchsia. The pants have a fuchsia drawstring, but I’d recommend that Needham Lane look into adding fuchsia piping on the pant cuff too.

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I set up the chess board, but it was just for show (#honestblogger).White-Cabana-Needham-Lane-9

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I couldn’t resist jumping in my PJs (let’s just call this my morning exercise routine)
wearing Madison fuchsia short sleeve capri pajama

I also brought along the Pippa aqua kimono robe. The robe is white, but it has aqua piping around the edges and cuffs. If you’re not into white, I’d encourage you to look into all the other colourful robes at Needham Lane. This would make such a nice gift for Mother’s Day or a friend’s birthday. The Pippa might just become my new go-to travel robe. It’s easy to throw into luggage, and it adds an additional layer of comfort when you’re away from home. I basically danced around in it for the photos…

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wearing Pippa aqua kimono robe

I should let you know that although Needham Lane has a large selection of colourful sleepwear (not everything is black and white). And the last chance section has some incredible deals at the moment (e.g., this cornflower blue pajama is only $20). Shipping to USA is $5 and to Canada is $20. Finally, if you sign up to Needham Lane via email, you’ll get a 20% off coupon code. Bonus!

Many thanks to Needham Lane for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own. Thanks to Shannon Y. for snapping these photos. Location: Omni King Edward hotel, Toronto.

Travel: 28 Hours in Toronto

What do you do when your friend (in Ottawa) texts you (in Waterloo) on a Monday, and asks what you’re doing on the weekend? First, you ask her if we’re going to Nashville (that’s a story for another day). When she laughs at you, you ask her what she has in mind, and she asks you if you’d be interested in a Toronto meet-up, you obviously say yes!

Heck ya!

Considering the couple of crazy weeks my friend Shannon and I have had recently, a girls reunion weekend in the city is just what we knew we needed to make us both feel more energized!

After we confirmed that we were both available for a weekend away, I quickly got to work, contacted a few people, and started planning some girly fun for us. Today, I’m sharing our itinerary, and in the days ahead, I’ll share some specific reviews of what we did/where we stayed/what we ate.

Please join me as I take you through a 28-hour stay in Toronto.

Saturday

9am – I left Waterloo quite early in the morning, as I find Toronto traffic and parking to be unpredictable. It only takes an hour (in theory) to get to the city, but I often give myself two hours to get to the heart of downtown. I put my TomTom to use, of course, as I like knowing about the alternate route options if I run into traffic.

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11am – As my friend Shannon and I were coming from opposite directions, we opted to meet at our first stop of the day – the Windsor Arms Spa. Yes! What a perfect spot to meet. Since I arrived a bit early, I was able to nibble on some cookies and drink a tea before our spa experience – the Salt Cave.

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11:30am – Shannon and I met with our spa hostess. She led us around the spa space and told us about the halotherapy treatment in the Salt Cave. We changed into our bathing suits, threw on our plush robes, and headed in the Salt Cave for 45 minutes of relaxation.

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We left the Cave feeling refreshed and calm.

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1:30pm (ish) – After showering and primping at the Windsor Arms Spa, we headed to La Société for lunch. I’ve read a bit about this restaurant, but I had never been. Since we dubbed this weekend a #weekendofluxury, we figured that La Société fit our itinerary. It is where celebrities go after all (we didn’t see any).

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We opted to share the eggs benedict (with a side of salmon) and the pain perdu (French toast) with Nutella. This way, we got to try a bit of everything. This is what happens when you travel with your BFFs, you get to share the goodness! We had a very friendly server at La Société who was quite attentive and helpful with recommendations.

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time unknown – after lunch, we wandered in and out of stores around Bloor/Yorkville. The area is a gem for people watching, and to see what’s what in fashion, design, and luxury. While I have just about everything I need in Waterloo, when I’m in Toronto, I always like to see what’s going on at Club Monaco and Anthropologie, so we made it a priority to check out these stores…along with the prettiest of pretty, Kate Spade (so pretty!).

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5pm (ish) – After a couple of hours of shopping, walking, taking ridiculous photos, and being so happy because of the amazing spring weather, we hopped back in the car, and headed to our hotel (TomTom was put to work again, naturally).

It was great to spend the morning/afternoon in the Bloor/Yorkville area, but I was looking forward to seeing another part of the city while we were in town. Although I grew up in the ‘burbs of the city, I haven’t spent extended periods of time downtown in a long while, and there’s just so much to see and do and discover!

We drove south to King/Church to The Omni King Edward Hotel (affectionately called the King Eddy), and after we parked (I must say that parking in the two areas was completely easy on this trip! Bonus!), we checked in. We were greeted by a friendly staff member (Hi D!), and we had a good chat about why/how I blog only about white things (it does amuse a lot of people, I must say).

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At this point in our day, Shannon and I were were so eager to just lie on the beds for a while since we had done so much walking in the afternoon. Our reactions when we saw our room were priceless. We basically danced around the spacious suite, then flopped ourselves down on the beds (more on The Omni King Edward Hotel later this week).

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time unknown – We were pleasantly surprised by a visit from an Omni King Edward staff member who arrived with scones and biscuits in tow (I wish this could happen every day!). It was just the type of snack we needed! We pulled our seats up to the table by the window and had a little bite to eat.

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9pm (ish) – Earlier in the day, we had made a dinner reservation at one of our favourite restaurants – Terroni. It serves up delicious Italian fare, and since I could basically live on pizza and pasta for the rest of my life (hello carbs!), I was happy that Terroni had an open table for two for us. The Terroni Adelaide location was a three minute walk from our hotel, so it could not have been more convenient! It was the perfect spot for a lazy girls’ weekend! We walked over and spent the next couple of hours feasting.

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11pm – After dinner, we strolled back to The Omni King Edward Hotel, threw on our pjs (and hotel robes!), and watched some TV while we talked and laughed about all that we had experienced in the day.

midnight (ish) – We must have fallen asleep to the sounds of HGTV on the television at some point around midnight. Yes, yes, we’re very wild.

Sunday

7am – I really try to sleep in (especially on weekends), but I can’t! It’s ridiculously annoying. After a great sleep in a comfy bed with lots of comfy pillows, I woke up a tad annoyed at the fact that it was only 7am. I grabbed a few magazines and enjoyed reading them in the living space in our suite.

10am (ish) – After a lazy morning of chatter, an amusing photo shoot (to come later this week), magazine reading, and getting ready, we walked south toward St. Lawrence Market for breakfast. Again, I hadn’t realized how close the King Eddy is to so many great spots in the city. The St. Lawrence market area must have been only a six minute walk from the hotel, and Toronto’s flat iron building provides a perfect photo op. Easy! We chose to have breakfast at Hank’s because I had been there once before, and I had liked it (thanks for the intro to Hank’s, Sarah M.!) We enjoyed a classic breakfast, then set off on another adventure.

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noon (ish) – We had decided that our #weekendofluxury #WhiteCabanaTorontoReunion should include manicures, so we walked north to Queen West area (a pleasant 20 minute or so walk) as we were hoping to get into Civello salon. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get last-minute appointments, but the staff member recommended a nail salon a couple blocks away, so we went there.

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2pm (ish) – With our bright shiny nails, we walked back to the car (which I had left in the parking lot by the King Eddy) in the sunshine, and laughed some more as we thought about all the adventures we have been on together in the last 10+ years.

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3pm (ish) – At this point, our fun weekend reunion came to an end. After dropping Shannon off at Union Station, I drove back to Waterloo. We returned to our homes (and to reality) after a fun and fulfilling reunion weekend!

That’s how my friend Shannon and I spent our 28 hours in Toronto last weekend. I have a few more updates to share about this trip, so stay tuned for more posts this week!

Many thanks to the Windsor Arms Spa and The Omni King Edward Hotel for helping me plan this trip.

The Friday Five: Must-Haves for Relaxation

Phew! I completely missed Friday over here, so that surely tells you what kind of week I’ve had!

It’s the end of the semester which means university life has been chaotic. I had busy days and something on the go every night this week. While it was a fun and rewarding week, I need a bit of relaxation time this weekend. I don’t know about you, but if I don’t get “Jordana time”, I feel overwhelmed and cranky.

So…what do I do to relax after very intense weeks? These things usually do the trick for me (and yoga isn’t even one of them).

To do lists.
If I take a few minutes to regroup and think about what tasks need to be done, I feel calmer. I can see what needs to get done, and I can empty my brain of things that are taking up space in there.

Cleaning.
Seriously. I get in a zone, and I just go to it. Yes, most of the time, I find cleaning to be tedious, but it also forces me to clear my head and breathe.

Magazines.
I never tire of reading magazines on my big comfy couch. I have a few that arrived in recent weeks, so the build-up means extended periods of quietness. Print magazines also force me away from my computer, which is a good thing.

Baking.
Most of the time, weekend baking means bread making. Again, I get in a zone, make a mess in my kitchen, and end up with something delicious after a couple of hours. My dough is rising as a type this, by the way.

Sleep.
I’m not someone who naps, but sometimes it’s exactly what I need. Especially on grey days (or days like today where the weather sends over a surprise mini snow storm).

What do you do to relax after a very busy week (or several!)? I’d love to know!

Happy weekend, dear readers!

Food: How to Make Gnocchi

Easter lunch at my parents’ place means gnocchi. This tradition certainly makes me a happy daughter! My mom’s gnocchi and tomato sauce is amazing. While I always help out – we all have our jobs when it comes to making gnocchi for a gazillion people* – this year, I tried to document the gnocchi making process just in case some readers are interested in learning how to make it.

This isn’t a definite recipe. With much of my mom’s cooking (and recipes), you just “have to feel it”. This makes learning a bit of a challenge, I have to say, but I’ve gotten better at figuring out what “feels” right, and I’m sure you will too!

1. Boil a bunch of potatoes with the peels on for a bunch of minutes so they soften.

2. Drain the potatoes, peel them, and smoosh them in one of these potato press gadgets. (You can also use a food mill, but mom recently told me that she likes the results from the potato press better than the food mill.)

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3. Spread the grated/smooshed potatoes onto a clean tea towel and let them cool.

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4. Once cool, put the grated potatoes onto the counter, crack two eggs on top of them, and spread a bunch of flour around the pile of potatoes.

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5. Gather these ingredients together, then knead, knead, knead, and knead some more. The consistency has to be “just right” so “feel” the dough and stop kneading once the texture is good. If the dough is too soft, the gnocchi will lose its shape. If it’s too hard, it’ll be tough to eat. Like I said, the dough should “feel right”. Good luck!

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6. Once the dough has been formed, break off small bits, and roll the dough into long dough snakes.

7. Cut 1-inch-ish pieces from the dough snakes. Flour the pieces as you go, so they don’t stick together.

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8. Spread all the pieces out on a large, clean tablecloth** and sprinkle flour over top the pieces.

9. If you want to be fancy, invest in one of these inexpensive wood gnocchi rollers. Roll individual pieces of dough quickly down the wood gadget. While the gnocchi is delicious without this step, the rolled gnocchi is amazing because the newly formed ridges catch the sauce, and the little hole/space in the gnocchi holds sauce really.

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10. Take a moment to step back and admire your rolling work.White-Cabana-how-to-make-gnocchi-11 White-Cabana-how-to-make-gnocchi-12

11. To cook the gnocchi, boil a pot of water. Once the water is boiling, add a bunch of gnocchi. The gnocchi are ready once they float to the top of the water and the water is boiling slightly again. Scoop them out, drain them, then add them to a bowl of sauce. By rolling them around in sauce right away, the gnocchi won’t stick together.

12. When you’re ready to serve, call out “tutti a tavola” just like Lidia Bastianich (and a lot of Italian people!). The expression is Italian for “everyone to the table”, which signals to your guests that it’s time to eat, and they should hurry up so they don’t keep everyone waiting.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take a photo of the final product, but trust me, it was delicious, and the sauce worked beautifully with the rolled gnocchi.  (I was definitely more concerned about eating than taking photos once my plate of gnocchi was in front of me.)

*this year, there were only 6 of us, but mom must have made about 20 servings worth because a few of us like to have seconds and there’s always a bunch to share for leftovers

**The tablecloth is an essential part in our process. It might seem unusual, but it’s our tradition. The pieces might stick to a counter, but they don’t stick to a tablecloth.

Thanks, Mom, for letting me capture you in action!

Exercise: Hourglass Workout Update

As you may recall, I joined Hourglass here in Waterloo a few weeks ago. I’ve been working out regularly (twice per week) for the last three weeks, and things are going well. While the workouts challenge me (and I grumble through some most all of the moves), I feel great after the workouts, and I do think my energy levels have increased. Considering that it’s cold, miserable, and grey, this is amazing news!

Now, even though I’m not a regular gym-goer, I do try to stay somewhat active. I walk a lot, and I love it. This is how I get in most of my exercise. I also take on DIY projects around my home which means that I’m usually lifting or moving or hammering. Surely each of these tasks adds up to a whole bunch of muscles! Right?

But the Hourglass workouts are different from just my regular daily activity. These workouts make me lift weights and increase my cardio and focus on my core strength. It’s been a good couple of weeks, and I’ve tracked some of my thoughts about the workouts below:

Week 1:

Day 1: It’s Monday. And I worked out. It’s a miracle. To my surprise, I wasn’t dreading today’s workout. I was actually curious about what my Hourglass Workout instructor, Iman, was going to make us do. I’m happy to say that I survived. And I didn’t hate it. We did a bunch of different exercises and the time went by fairly quickly.

The workout started with a quick run around the gym and a bunch of burpees (ew…I hate burpees. But I did them). From there, we did a gazillion lunges, pulse lunches, squats, pulse squats, ski lunges, more lunges, more squats, a bunch of bicycle sit-ups, some planks, and a few other moves that I can’t remember. It was tough. My legs are feeling the workout. I’m worried about how my body will feel tomorrow. I’m satisfied with how I did during this first session. I sweated it out and I stuck it out for the full hour. Day 1 is done!

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my instructor – Iman – and the Hourglass Workout founder – Lyzabeth – at the Hourglass Waterloo Grand Opening

Week 2:

Day 3: I have worked out on the days that I said I was going to work out, and I’m very proud of myself. The workouts are tough (no surprise there since I never exercise!), but Iman is very encouraging. She has watched my form, she encourages yells at me to push myself, and we do end up laughing quite a bit during the workouts. The atmosphere is certainly positive. On days 2 and 3, I used the bosu ball and kettle bell for the very first time. I’m waking up a whole heck of a lot of muscles in my core, and I don’t think my obliques have ever worked so hard!

Day 4: I got my butt out of bed at 5:30am today to make it to Iman’s 6am class. Yes, you read that right. 6am. Amazing. The workout was a good one; I followed a circuit of exercises that included the bosu ball, a kettle bell, weights, the weighted ball (don’t remember what those are called), a box step-up jump-up thing, and a crazy heavy rope set-up. I did a gazillion lunges, sit-ups, step-ups, jump-ups, jumping jacks, planks, TRX lunges, push-ups, and more (yes, more!). My legs were definitely going at a slower pace at the end of the hour, but I made it through. I felt amazing for the rest of the day!

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these look like giant pillows, but don’t be fooled – they definitely test my balance and build by strength

Week 3:

Day 5: It’s Family Day (holiday here in Ontario) and ridiculously cold, but I slapped on my workout gear and headed out to meet my Hourglass team. We did a bunch of different moves, including the dreaded burpees and variations of the darn burpee that included pushups. Ugh! Burpee + pushups!? Iman had created a circuit for us, and it included a gazillion lunges, a bajillion ab crunches, and a bunch of things with the weighted ball. The time just flew tonight, and before I knew it, the hour class ended, and my abs and arms were feeling mighty fine.

Day 6: I was feeling a tad tired pre-workout, but I threw on my gear and went for it. I got a private training session today – bonus! I do not know why my workout mates decided to take the evening off, but it worked out for me. I did a circuit of a bunch of activities – 2 minute intervals, 40 second intervals, etc. It was varied and hard! Notice a pattern in my reflections? Working out is hard – but it’s doable! Today’s workout included: bicep curls (I used 8lbs weights today), tricep lifts, lunges with weights, step-ups, a gazillion ab crunches of various kinds, dead lifts, skipping rope, mountain climber, more lunges, push-ups, burpees (!), kettle bell swings, high knee running, and more (yes, more!). I’ve learned a bunch of new exercise vocabulary in the last three weeks. I think my favourite moves are dead lifts and (easy) crunches. The tough ab work drives me nuts during the workout, but I don’t actually mind them. Push-ups are my weakest move. Burpees might even be better than push-ups. Maybe. Anyway, it was a good evening workout, and I feel great!

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there’s my booty on the left mid-push-up-burpee-rope-pulling; post-workout selfie on the right

I’ve been working out twice per week, and I have found that this works for me and my schedule. There’s a possibility to add a third workout to my routine, but it would take more effort on my part to squeeze it in.

Oh – and I’m not working out because I’m concerned about weight loss. I just want to feel stronger and more toned. I think my weight has actually stayed the same over the last few weeks, but I do feel that I’m getting stronger. I should really take note of my weight/inches/and all that, so that I can share a more detailed progress report in the weeks ahead. Yes? Okay. I’ll see what I can do!

Read the 5 reasons why I signed up for Hourglass. Follow my exercise adventures on Instagram with #WhiteCabanaGetsFit.
If you’re interested in the workout, learn more at Hourglass. Thanks again, Iman, for pushing me!

Uptown: Working with Pink in my Basement

I didn’t intend to inject my basement with shades of pink, but some things were just meant to be. I couldn’t fight it. I didn’t want to fight it.

After I wrote about Minted’s collection of large-scale art, I was just about certain I was going to get a black and white piece for over my day bed. Instead, I was mesmerized by this piece, and I couldn’t say no. Minted generously sent over the gorgeous abstract art, and it hung vertically above my day bed for many months as I made progress on my fireplace redo.

*** Warning: Pink is about to make a brief appearance on White Cabana. ***

Holly-Katie-Craig-MintedHolly by Katie Craig

Once my fireplace makeover was complete, I turned my attention back to the daybed area of my space. I opted to rehang Katie Craig’s print horizontally, and I think it works much better in my space.

White-Cabana-Katie-Craig-Minted-artI adore the large-scale version of Katie Craig’s print. It’s bright and dramatic and bring a whole lot of interest to my space. As you can see, the room is still very much dominated by black and white even though there’s colourful art on the main wall. The addition of  fuchsia brings me joy, so I think I’ll keep it.

Here’s what (most) of the room looks like now:

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I painted the Fjellse bed frame (made from two twins that came with my house) high gloss blackWhite-Cabana-home-1

(I’m still on the lookout for two side tables of the same height)

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(featuring my most recent Alessi addition – Karim Rashid’s Hellraiser tray for Alessi)

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see how I transformed my old 80s fireplace into this beauty

I have recently published this makeover on Domino. If you click here, you’ll see a couple of before photos.

Many thanks to Minted for sponsoring this post.

Sources: art – c/o Minted; day bed (two Fjellse singles joined and painted high gloss black) – Ikea; wall paint – c/o CIL; white tray – Style at Home; black side cart – Market Road Antiques in St. Jacobs; chevron pillow cases – Target; bicycle pillow case – Urban Barn; coffee and side tables – Kijiji; shag rug, lamps – vintage; silver tray – Alessi; fireplace mantle – vintage; bamboo ladder painted high gloss black – garage sale; ceiling light – Ikea; art on fireplace – Janet Hill Studio, Chapters Indigo (tea towel); hex fireplace tiles – Twin City Tile

The Friday Five: 5 Reasons Why I Signed Up for the Hourglass Workout

I’m not a gym-aholic. Heck, ever since I moved to Waterloo, and I walk everywhere, my official exercise time is non-existent. I’ve never been a lover of the gym or workouts, but I do like activities and routine. I used to run quite a bit (slowly, I assure you), and even finished a few half-marathons. I felt really fit and strong when I was running regularly, and I felt healthy. So why did I decide to sign up for the Hourglass Workout? Why? Why? Why?

Let me share 5 of the reasons that led me to this decision.

1. It was recommended by friends: Over Christmas, two of my Toronto friends (Hi KS and SM!) raved about Lyzabeth Lopez’s Hourglass Workout program that they had been doing for the last few months. “The workouts are fun, challenging, and different,” they said. I applauded their efforts and commitment, of course, but didn’t think too much of it at the time.

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2. It was meant to be: Last week, I got a text from one of said friends (Thanks, KS. Look what you’ve started.) with news that Hourglass was opening a Waterloo location. A day or so later, I randomly ran into the Waterloo instructor, Iman, at the café, and had a really great initial chat about Hourglass and its expansion to Waterloo. Random, I tell you! If this wasn’t a sign, what is?

3. It’s convenient: I am a fan of convenience, and once I did a bit of research on the classes, their times, and the location, I determined that the options were convenient for my lifestyle.

4. Hourglass supports bloggers: In addition to some common interests like growing up in Toronto and what we like about Waterloo, Iman and I connected over our interest in blogs. I love it when people appreciate bloggers’ work*.

5. It’s a new addition to Waterloo: I’m always keen on supporting local businesses in the Waterloo region. This region has hooked me in, and I’m pleased to share news of all that it has to offer. Heck, I even wrote a Design*Sponge city guide about Waterloo, remember? As such, I’m happy to share news of Hourglass’s launch in our region. (By the way, Hourglass’s grand opening in Waterloo is on Sunday, February 7th in case you’re local and you’d like to attend the event.)

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Hourglass Waterloo classes begin on February 1st, so sign up here if you’re interested. Hourglass is currently offering 25% off, so it’s a great time to register.

The workouts look interesting – and tough – but I have no doubt that Waterloo’s instructor, Iman, will motivate me to put in my best effort. She’s recommended that I attend 3 classes per week, but given my hectic life, I’m going to definitely commit to 2 classes, but I’ll try really hard to attend class 3. I’ll be sharing a few updates about my Hourglass Workout journey over the next few weeks, so I hope you’ll come back and check on my progress**! Wish me luck – I start next week!

*Thanks to Iman and Hourglass Workout for offering a discount on my membership. All opinions are my own.
**I’m aiming for general toning and tightening, rather than the Kardashian booty.

Travel: A Luxurious Stay at Langdon Hall

Before 2015 ended, I wanted to take one last vacation. (I’m always up for a vacation!) By the end of December, I had honestly had it with the stresses of life, and I felt like an all-about-Jordana escape was in order. That said, considering my limited budget and free time over the Christmas break, there was no real way for me to travel very far for very long. So, I did what any logical luxury-seeking gal would do, and I spontaneously booked a night for myself at the grand Langdon Hall.

Brilliant idea, right?

You may remember that I took a tour of this gorgeous Relais & Chateaux property in the summer (here and here), and I loved absolutely everything about the place. Langdon Hall is located in Cambridge, which makes it easily accessible and convenient for people like me who want a change of scenery, but don’t necessarily need (or aren’t able) to take a flight to do so. Honestly, dear readers, I made the decision to book a stay quite quickly (I’m usually a thoughtful travel researcher!), and I was so excited about my “vacation” as soon as I finalized the reservation.

I took so many photos, so I’ve decided to share my experience with you in two parts. Today, I’ll focus on the design, and tomorrow, I’ll be sharing news about dining at Langdon Hall.

 My Cloister Room Tour

Entryway and dressing area:

Yes, I did just write entryway and dressing area. My room – it had both! I stayed in a Cloister room, and my large entryway had hooks for my coat, a carpet for my boots, and a large mirror to check myself before leaving my room.

White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-1Beyond the entryway, there was a foyer with a small console table where I could drop my keys and purse much like I do in my own home. Convenient! White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-2White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-7The large dressing room, located beside the foyer, had plenty of storage. It was a convenient place to house my luggage and spread out my clothes. The room has a drop-down ironing board as well as ready-to-wear robes (I love having a robe to wear when I’m on vacation!).

From a design perspective, I was impressed by how substantial the quality of the doors and knobs. They’re so substantial.

White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-3 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-4 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-5 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-6 Bedroom area:

Past the foyer and dressing room is the bedroom and living area. The decor is traditional and neutral, but updated. The bed’s high-quality St. Geneve (amazing feather top!) and Au Lit Fine white linens are complimented by some traditional plaid accents…

White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-31I couldn’t help but do a little White Cabana makeover when I arrived. I wanted the bright white embroidered linens to really shine, and I just had to see what the bed looked like without the plaid! And, yes, I did karate-chop the large square Euro pillows, too. White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-36 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-37 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-39White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-a White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-c White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-dLike some other hotels, Langdon Hall’s linens are available for purchase so that guests can recreate the same experience in their homes (I have my heart set on the feather top – heavenly, I tell ya!)

Living area:

The bed faces the windows that overlook the croquet lawn. Yes, I said croquet. Amazing. I already know I’d like to return in the summer to have a go at croquet! The living area has a couch, chair, desk, wood-burning fireplace, TV, and a beautiful view. The built-in cabinet neatly houses a convenient Nespresso machine and fridge.

Oh, one more thing about the wood-burning fireplace. It was fantastic! After I came in from my winter wagon ride (see below), I requested that my fireplace be lit. Within a minute or so, a young gentleman came to start it. I kept it going all night thanks to the stack of firewood that was in my room. Listening to and watching the fireplace in action made my night that much more relaxed and enjoyable. It was absolutely special.

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White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-69 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-44One feature that I absolutely adored was the windows and the window closures. As you may already know, I lived in France twice, and whenever I see these windows, I think of my time there. I absolutely love these window fixtures, and they brought back many happy memories of my stays in France.

White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-24Bathroom:

Actually, I had 1.5 bathrooms. Yes. 1.5. How’s that for thoughtful design? Again, the tile work and overall bathroom design is traditional but updated. The walk-in shower is spacious, the bathtub is a deep soaker, and the bath items are from UK’s The White Company (how perfect for me, right? amazing!). The towels were plush and plentiful, and I was so happy to discover that the water pressure was strong (this is always a worry of mine when I stay in hotels…I hate low water pressure).

White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-8 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-9 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-10 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-11 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-12 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-13 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-14 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-15Here I am standing in the shower (hey, why not?) peeking out to the main part of the bathroom:White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-16 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-17 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-18 You can see the 1.5 baths in the photo below. On the left is a room with the toilet and pedestal sink; on the right is a room with a sink, counter, bathtub, and walk-in shower).White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-20

Langdon Hall

Beyond the cloister room where I stayed, I did pop in and out of the rooms in the main house. The holiday decorations were still up, and just about every fireplace was going. It was all very charming.

White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-eWhite-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-59 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-60 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-61Winter Wagon Ride

As if what I’ve already shown you wasn’t beautiful enough, right? Well, I have more to share!

During my stay, I had the opportunity to take a winter wagon ride through the forest trails on the property. Langdon Hall offers this free experience to guests who stay between Christmas and New Year’s, so I feel like I lucked out. It was especially nice to feel the crisp winter air after the afternoon tea (I’ll share an update about this tomorrow).

White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-63 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-64 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-65 White-Cabana-Langdon-Hall-66 Isn’t this just so picturesque? It felt really quite magical. Turning the corner, coming out of the forest, and seeing Langdon Hall (in the photo above) really made me gasp in awe.  Absolutely gorgeous, isn’t it? It’s a magnificent building.

Before I leave you for today, I’m curious – Have you ever taken a vacation within your own city or region? Why did you do it? Will you do it again?

Come back tomorrow if you’re interested to learn about what I ate during my stay at Langdon Hall. Here’s a preview…

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A collection of white mushroom meringues and macarons were waiting for me in my room when I arrived. This was just one of the many things that staff did to warmly welcome me. Everything, of course, was so delicious!

All photos by me.
I did receive a
discount on my stay at Langdon Hall. All opinions are my own.

Fashion: My L.L.Bean Wellie Review

Last month, I reached out to American classic L.L.Bean to inquire about their rain boot collection, and I’m grateful to L.L.Bean for sending me a pair of their tall black wellies and wellie warmers. When I prepared this style post, I hadn’t yet worn my wellies too much, so I couldn’t do a full review. Now, though, since the arrival of quite a bit of rain and slush, I have plenty more to say! Care to read on?

As I mentioned in my last post, I was completely impressed with L.L.Bean’s social media team, PR pro, and online chat personnel. I received excellent and speedy customer service, and my initial reactions were positive. I do already own an L.L.Bean personalized duffle bag, and it has passed many tests over the years, so I had high hopes for the boots. Thankfully, things are working out very well!

White-Cabana-Wellie_rain Boots_LLBean-2Here I am on one grey rainy December day wearing my L.L. Bean wellies. I paired them with leather-detailed pants, layered black tops, and a classic Longchamp bag.

The boots fit my foot perfectly, and they’re very comfortable for walking around. I do walk a lot (to work, to the grocery store, to the library, to cafés, etc.), so I’m not lying when I tell you that they’re comfortable for walking (as much as walking in the rain is comfortable – ha!).

White-Cabana-Wellie_rain Boots_LLBean-1I still feel put together even thought I’m wearing rain boots.

When I originally placed my order, I wasn’t 100% certain that the boot would fit comfortably over my calf (I do have issues with this with some companies). After asking the online chat person about the sizing, I felt more confident. The boots do fit over my calf easily – even with the wellie sock – and the elastic feature on the back increase the comfort level. The boots sort of just move with me as I walk if that makes any sense. The fit is true to size. I’m normally a size 8, and I ordered size 8, and they even fit well when I wear  the wellie sock.

White-Cabana-LLBean_2back elastic feature

There are loops at the top of either side of the boot, and I hang on to these as I pull the boots on. Easy.

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loop detail

Another feature I surprisingly like is the buckle detail across the top/side of the foot part of the boot. These make the boots feel unique, substantial, and a bit rock-and-roll.

White-Cabana-LLBean_3the buckle

The sole is thick and sturdy, and I feel very stable as I walk through puddles or slush (you can see evidence of those puddles right there on my boots).

Finally, the boots come in at a fair price point considering the rain boot market. The boots are $89US, and the wellie warmer socks are $24.95. L.L.Bean offers free shipping and an unbeatable guarantee, which are bonuses in my mind.

So, as you can gather, I have only positive things to report about my new wellies. They get my stamp of approval!

White-Cabana-Wellie_rain Boots_LLBean-3Let’s all take another moment to stare at the boots, shall we?

Many thanks to Rox-Anne for taking these photos during one random post-café-meeting photo shoot! Boot photos by me.

Sponsor Love 2015 Edition

The year started off so incredibly well with regards to sponsorship and brand collaborations for me and my blog. I’m so grateful for all the goodness that has come my way in 2015, and I am very much looking forward to a fruitful 2016.

Over the past 12 months, I was able to connect with many well-respected brands that have impressive histories and are forward-thinking. Would you care to walk with me down sponsor memory lane? Please, let’s!

four-points-sheraton-kingstonFour Points by Sheraton Kingston (post)

posterjack-logoPosterjack (post, post)

logo-altTimbuk2 (post)

Land-of-Nod-logoLand of Nod (post, post)

Scandinave-Spa-LogoScandinave Spa (post)

Minted-logoMinted (post, post, post, IG post, IG post)

Langdon-Hall-logoLangdon Hall (post, post)

TomTom-logoTomTom (post, post, post, IG post)

TYR-logoTYR (post)

Stratford-Festival-logoStratford Festival (post)

LLBean-logoL.L. Bean (post)

Centre-in-the-Square-logoCentre in the Square (post)

KW-Symphony-LogoKW Symphony (post)

Happy New Year, dear sponsors!

Marketplace: Fingers Crossed

Here’s a perfectly appropriate objet considering the fact that my exams are now over (over! over! over!). I’m now hoping for a decent result on my economics final*.

fingers-crossed-silver-Noirfingers crossed, Noir

*Confession: I haven’t been this close to failing a course since first year calculus years and years ago. My ego is hurtin’. On the plus side, if anyone wants to learn about economics, I discovered Mr. Clifford’s YouTube channel, and his videos definitely helped me learn.

Fashion: OOTD in Charleston, NC

In between taking photos of pretty buildings and gorgeous scenery in Charleston last month (full report to come), my sister and I had fun taking some fashion-y posts. Yes, that’s right, with a Starbucks cup in hand, and backdrops that matched our outfits, we just kept on snapping. Oh, what fun!

White-Cabana-Charleston-fashion-bloggingJordana: grey on grey on grey on white
outfit details: Gap top, J.Crew jeans, Bass shoes, Oliver Peoples sunglasses

White-Cabana-Corie-Charleston-FashionCorie: white on black on on black on pink
outfit details: JCrew pants, JCrew top, Kate Spade purse

Marketplace: Essential Items for your Bedroom

Last week I featured five beds, and while I think this is the major component of a bedroom, it’s not the only thing that makes a bedroom special. Here’s a round-up of ten other items that I have – and really enjoy having – in my serene white space.

White-Cabana-bedroom1. bedside lamps (via Ralph Lauren Home)
2. crisp white bed linens (via Zara)
3. collection of white containers and platters to corral jewelry (via CB2)
4. carafe (mostly for show, if I’m being honest…I don’t actually use mine, but it does look neat) (via CB2)
5. vintage dressers and vanity (via 1stDibs)
6. a selection of comfortable pillows (via Bed Bath & Beyond)
7. mirrors (via Crate & Barrel)
8. collection of vintage silver trays to collect bits and bobs (via 1stDibs)
9. flowers (as often as possible) (via The Crafted Life)
10. a down duvet (via Ikea)
(See what else I love about my bedroom right here.)

What are your bedroom must-haves?

Blog Linkup: Goals for Fall

It’s been a few months since I participated in the B Bar’s blogger linkup. I know I missed a month, and then Victoria and Meg took a summer vacation, but here we are now! Ready to roll!

This month, the ladies have asked us

WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR FALL?

Well, well, fall is only a couple of months long over on my side of the world, so I really only have time to achieve a random collection of short-term goals (warning: images are not as pretty as my usual posts #thisisreallife).

1. Fireplace Re-vamp: Complete my fireplace re-vamp. Since these last photos, I have painted the 80s gold a matte black, and I think I’m going to love it. I have also started re-working an old mantle that I’d like to put in place. A few more modifications are necessary before I install it (with my dad’s help, of course).

White-Cabana-fireplace-1 White-Cabana-fireplace-2 2. Chair-turned-luggage-rack DIY: I’d like to finish up the makeover on my two chair-turned-luggage rack/stools. They need a fresh coat of high gloss black paint, then strapping, then some sort of seat/cushion/fabric covering.

White-Cabana-stools-13. Bootie-licious: Booties are all the rage this fall, and I’m on the hunt for a comfortable, stylish, and affordable leather pair. A frivolous goal, yes, but it still counts, right?

4. Traveling South: I’m planning a road trip to the south, and I hope I can follow-through with all my travel goals. I’m starting off with a family visit in Chapel Hill, NC, then off to High Point for High Point Market, then Charleston, SC, and Savannah, GA. I’m sort of cheating with this goal because the plan is already in the works.

5. Trail exploration: I’m looking forward to learning more about Kitchener-Waterloo this fall. I have recently discovered that the trail beside the train tracks uptown has been extended (yay!). My walks are taking me to new neighbourhoods, and this makes me happy!

6. Symphony: I’m set to attend the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony a couple of times this fall, and I’m really looking forward to experiencing something that I’ve never experienced before. The concerts are held at the Centre in The Square, and even though I’ve lived in Waterloo for more than two years, I’ve never been. This fall, I’m going!

KW Symponyphoto via KW Symphony

So that’s what I’ve been thinking about for the fall. Honestly, I still feel like I’m in summer mode…it hasn’t quite set in that fall is here.

As per the linkup tradition, I would encourage you to read about my fellow bloggers’ goals:

Annie Reeves
26 and Not Counting
Alyssa J Freitas
Carly Blogs
Feathers and Stripes
Carrie Loves
White Oak Creative
PRBlonde
Sequins & Strawberries
Pieced Together
PreppyPanache
Knowing Kelly
Something Good
Life By Bri
My Beauty Cloud
La Vie Petite
Wealthy in Health
White Cabana
Mrs. on the Move
Boys and Bombshells
Life Modifier
Everyday Cuvée
A Little Leopard
Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough
L is for Lucy
Cori’s Corner
Beauty and the Pitch
Dreams and Colour Schemes
Viciloves
Lights Camera Catwalk
Pattern Me Pretty
A Few of My Favorite Things
Chic Glamorous and Splendid
She’s All Smiles
StyledbyKesha
Suzy Speaks
Luv in the Bubble
The Minimalist

Read my previous linkups here: January, February, April, May, June. Thanks to Meg and Victoria for bringing us all together again this month.

Technology: Back in Action with the MacBook Air

My apologies for the surprise inconsistent posting on the blog last week. I experienced a bit of a blogging hiccup.

You see, my MacBook decided to quit on me last weekend after an unfortunate run-in with a few drops of coffee. Grr…

I researched the pros/cons of the various MacBook laptops for a week and finally opted for the Air. It’s been just a few days, but I’m already pleased with my purchase. The keyboard is very nice for typing, the screen is clear, and it’s so darn light. Yes, I know that this is one of its highly desirable features, but I didn’t really realize how great it was until now.

Here’s a snapshot of the unboxing:

White-Cabana-Macbook AirThe neatly organized package has my heart!

Art: Beach Vibes with Minted

While I was in Florida last month, I took a bit of time in between beach walks to zhush up the dining room in my parents’ beach-front condo. Minted, one of my long-time fave destinations for art, stationary, and (now!) fabric, lent a generous hand to this project, so I’m giving the company and its designers a major shout-out here!

Here’s a before of the space:

Florida-before-dining room-2 It’s a mess, isn’t it? Beach towels are everywhere, the lamp and dried flower arrangement serve no purpose, and the buffet is serving as a sunscreen station.

I knew I wanted to get rid of the lamp and flower arrangement tout de suite and hang a large piece of art above the buffet. I was looking for something light, bright, modern, and beachy. After reviewing Minted’s website and lookbook, I landed on Anchor in Ink by Two if By Sea Studios, and I knew it would be just perfect!

MIN-UU4-GNA-007_A_APZAnchor in Ink (available in black, navy, fuchsia, and aqua)

While I would typically be drawn to the black version, for this condo, I knew that navy would be the most suitable choice (how cool is it that it comes in different colours?).

White-Cabana-art-Minted-Florida-3In addition to the art, I added some fabric (Sailboat Splash by Lindsay Megahed) to my cart. At the moment, I used the fabric as a table cloth, but my mom will soon be sewing it up into pillows for the living room. Since the living and dining room are open to one another, the future sailboat pillows will work nicely with the anchor print.

White-Cabana-art-Minted-Florida-6 White-Cabana-art-Minted-Florida-4    White-Cabana-Minted-art-Florida-7 White-Cabana-Minted-art-Florida-5This is the first time I ordered fabric from Minted, and I have to say that I’m impressed with its weight. It’s heavier than I thought it would be. It will definitely be perfect for pillows.

Many thanks to Becky L., Molly B., and Minted for supporting this project.

Travel: My Waterloo City Guide on Design*Sponge

Another blogging/writing/publishing dream came true for me a couple of weeks ago, and I’m so excited to share it with all of you.

I have been reading Design*Sponge since its creator, Grace Bonney, began publishing posts 10 years ago. Ten! She has been such a leader in the blogging world, and like many of her readers, I find so much inspiration on the pages of her blog (and her book, interviews, etc.).

DesignSponge-headerOne of my most favourite areas on Design*Sponge is the city guide section. These guides are written by travel enthusiasts who want to share the top-of-the-top that their cities have to offer.  In the past, I have used the Paris guide, the New Orleans guide, the Tampa guide, the Pittsburgh guide, the Dallas guide, the Halifax guide, and, most recently, the Orlando 24-hour guide. I totally put my trust into these guides, and they have yet to let me down!

DS-4Well, a few months ago, I wrote and submitted a Waterloo region guide for Design*Sponge, and it was published last Tuesday! (Insert shrieks and jumps for joy!) You can read my Waterloo guide right here. I am so proud of this article. I moved to Waterloo two years ago, and I have enjoyed living here ever since. I was very excited to share news of the region with Design*Sponge readers.

waterloo_cityguidetemplateI was beyond excited to see that Grace shared my article on Twitter and favourited related tweets, too. Eeek!

DS-2     DS-1Thanks to those of you who have read my Waterloo city guide and for those who have added their favourite spots in the comment section, too.

Taking a Short Break

I’m spending the rest of the week away from the blog, but I’ll be back on Monday with a lot of white goodness! I hope you’re enjoying happy days and looking forward to a fun-filled weekend ahead.

I’ll leave you with this photo of a cool white art installation at Buddy Brew in Tampa.

Buddy Brew Tampa-White Cabana-artAs always, thanks for finding time in your day for White Cabana!

Fashion: Packing for a Beach Vacation

I am counting down the days until I’ll be on a Floridian beach doing just about nothing. I am very much looking forward to shutting down for a few weeks and living a life filled with sunscreen, ice cream, and outlet shopping.

I don’t pack a lot when I go down to Florida, but here is a glimpse into what I’ll be packing for my low-key beach wardrobe.

beach-travel-what to pack1. A straw hat is great for the beach and for walking around town. It protects your face from the hot hot sun, and it adds instant style to any outfit. (floppy hat, $38, American Apparel)

2. Flip flops are a must for Florida. I pack a couple of pairs of Havaianas because they’re comfortable. (white flip flops,  $32, Havaianas)

3. A lightweight carry on luggage is a must for any trip. I have been using Le Sportsac’s weekender for many years now, and it has definitely been worth the investment. (large weekender bag, $142, Le SportSac)

4. A new bikini makes every beach trip better. Thanks to TYR, I’ll be uber comfortable and stylish in this black and white number. (Milos Isle Kai mesh top, $29.99 and Lilou mesh hipkini, $24.99, TYR)

5. An easy dress that can be used as a coverup is definitely worth packing. I love a good multi-tasking piece of clothing. (linen tee dress, $49, Joe Fresh)

6. I don’t wear much jewelery at all when I’m in Florida, so a cute pair of studs can go a long way. Wear them with a simple dress, and the put-together-factor instantly increases. (care to dance stud earrings, $68, Kate Spade)

7. An easy-to-wash pair of white shorts is another must-pack item for me. While I have yet to buy a pair of good white jeans, I do have white shorts that I’ll be wearing all summer long. (white shorts, $12, Old Navy)

8. Waiting for luggage to come out on the airport conveyor belt stressed me out. I never actually feel confident that my luggage will arrive. Adding an easy-to-spot fun luggage tag to my bag is definitely useful. (luggage tag, $14, Kate Spade)

9. For several years now, my friend Shannon and I have been hitting up Tropicana Field to watch the Tampa Bay Rays play against the Toronto Blue Jays. Honestly, I don’t know much about baseball, but watching games in Florida is definitely fun. Buying tickets is easy, and the field is air-conditioned. I bring along my baseball cap to show support. (This year, the Jays won’t be in town while I’m there, but I’ll wear my cap regardless. (Blue Jays baseball cap, $29.99)

10. A dress that can move from day-to-night is yet another thing I’ll be packing. I really like this inexpensive striped one from Old Navy. (jersey swing dress, $13.50, Old Navy)

What essentials do you add to your suitcase when traveling to the beach? I’d love to know.

Big Announcement: I’m a Domino Contributor!

Okay. So who out there remembers buying their first issue of Domino? I can’t be the only one! I’m so thankful my mom saved all my issues after I had boxed them up thinking that it was time to share them with others (thanks, mom!). I have just about every issue in the history of Domino, everything is here to stay.

Domino-mag-White Cabana-3 Domino-mag-White Cabana-2 Domino-mag-White Cabana-14 years of Domino – my collection; photos by me

I remember buying the premiere issue, telling my sister to buy it, and then waiting every month for each new issue. Domino was my magazine! The magazine was printed from 2005-2009, and then when it was gone, well, I was very disappointed.

In 2013, Domino made a comeback, and fans have been pretty darn happy ever since. Domino published printed issues, and it has really expanded its online presence. The site is an extremely thorough resource for those who want to learn about design and need inspiration for their own projects.

Fast forward to June 2015, and I am officially a Domino contributor! Hooray! Jump for joy with me, will you?! I’m thrilled! Me? A Domino contributor? I would never have thought that this day would come. 10 years ago, I bought my first issue. Today, my name is on the Domino site. It’s just too cool.

Domino-White-Cabanavia Domino

Over the weekend, my first article went live. After seeing Lindsay’s basement makeover, I knew it would be perfect for Domino readers. She made some clever changes to this space, and it might give readers ideas for their own spaces.

makeover  (4)photo by Lindsay Stephenson

You can read my very first Domino article here (photos are by Lindsay, text is by me!).

I have a bunch of things I will be writing about over on Domino, and I would love for you to read my posts (pretty please). While I do intend to contribute articles that feature my favourite colour, I’m also looking forward to broadening my repertoire and sharing some absolutely incredible places and spaces that go beyond classic white (insert suspenseful music here).

p.s. Domino!? Amazing!

Blog Linkup: Summer Essentials

I almost missed this month’s linkup announcement over at The Well. I must already be in summer mode! This month, Meg and Victoria posed this question for us:

WHAT ARE YOUR SUMMER ESSENTIALS?

After last month’s tough question, I was happy to see this one. This one is easy for me to answer because I absolutely loooooove the summer! I’m pretty sure that it’s because my birthday is in July, there are plenty of warm sunny days, and I have had summer months off from school and work for pretty much all of my life. Summer. Nothing beats it. Wish we had a few more months of it!

Anyhoo, so, on to my summer essentials (apparently I have quite a few). Here. We. Go.

1. Open windows. I love having my windows open and letting the breeze flow through my home.

tumblr_m7ba8hrgM11rsb1bqo1_400via

2. Passport. My passport is always ready to go, but the summer is the most convenient season for me to take a vacation, so I always do. Lucky me!

img17cvia Mark & Graham

3. Bathing suit. I do not have an extensive bathing suit collection, but I put every piece to very good use all summer long. I typically wear navy or black suits, but I’m also open to colour.

NMZ14RZ_mkGucci bikini, via Neiman Marcus

4. Havaianas. I basically live in them during the summer months. I know I should probably up my footwear game, but these flip flops are perfect for grocery store runs, lounging around the pool in Florida, and hitting up garage sales. I currently have brown, black, and orange in rotation, but I think I should invest in a red or fuchsia pair. Maybe even a white pair. Beyond that, by the time June rolls around, I’m just so tired of wearing socks and closed toe shoes (and boots!). My feet need air!

HavaianasWomen-Havaianas40000290001356_medium_PRODUCT_TOP_8261via Havaianas

5. Sangria. Red. White. It doesn’t matter. I just love it. I think this is because when I was in my early 20s, I traveled around Spain for a few weeks with my pen pal (Yes, I have a pen pal. Hi Vanessa!), and I was introduced to this delicious summer bevvie.

Apple-and-Pear-White-Sangria-finalvia Love Grows Wild

6. Hammock. I won a hammock last summer over at Lindsay’s blog, and I just can’t get enough of it. It’s the ultimate backyard perch.

hammock-White-Cabanalook at how relaxed I look

7. Ice cream. I love eating ice cream in the summer. When we’re in Florida, my friend Shannon and I stock the freezer with loads of flavours, and slowly quickly eat our way through everything. It’s glorious. The Magnum mini is my current favourite, but I definitely don’t limit myself to just this type.

Product_varietymini116-745979via Magnum

8. Panama hat. I picked up my Panama hat in New Orleans a few years ago, and I just love it. It’s way better than my winter toque!

White-Cabana-Jordana-2here’s a selfie from New Orleans

9. White shirts, tanks, and tees. I can never have too many of these in my wardrobe! I add new versions to my collection each summer (well, every season, really…I do wear a lot of white).

cn9151519the Gap remains one of my favourite go-to tee shot

10. Camera. I got a new camera recently, but I have yet to really figure out how it works. I am really looking forward to playing around with it this summer. If anyone has a good DSLR how-to book recommendation, please let me know!

white-cabana-camera11. Books. Stacks and stacks of reading material for at home and on vacation. I’ve been going to the library every week all winter long, and I’m planning on continuing this habit over the next few months/forever. The Waterloo Public Library is fantastic.

White-Cabana-booksbooks

12. Mozzarella. Any cheese. Any time. Right? Mozzarella is on the top of my cheese buying list because it will go so well with the tomatoes and basil that are growing in my garden. Hello caprese salad, I’ve missed you!

18734e475c3f5c0098996724457d9062via Local Lemons

13. Bicycle. It’s so handy to take my bike around town, and I hope to do it as often as I can this summer. Nothing fancy. Just leisurely rides around town to get my errands done.

a-beach-cottage-coastal-vintage-style-white-bike-hydrangeas-abeachcottage.com-via A Beach Cottage

I guess that’s about it for now in terms of summer essentials. What about you? What’s on the top of your essential list?

As per the linkup tradition, I would encourage you to read through the essential items of my fellow bloggers:

26 and Not Counting
Alyssa J Freitas
soak and simmer
The Not Quite Adult
Carrie Loves
The Yuppie Files
PRBlonde
Knowing Kelly
Something Good
Feathers and Stripes
Cassandra Monroe
Otherworldly
Sunny Side Up
Life Modifier
Leigh Clair
Rae Loves
Rose Colored Water
Rossetto
Fashion to a T
PreppyPanache
Emilie Lima Burke
Ember & March
Business Betties
with love from ellie
Mint Julep Girl
Love Peace and shimmer
Rae Everyday
Little Wild Heart
star-crossed smile
Luv in the Bubble
Perfect Enough For Us
LIFE BY BRI
Sorcha Eleanor
Brikasia
Dreams and Colour Schemes
Elana Lyn
Sequins & Strawberries
Pattern Me Pretty
Beauty and the Pitch
White Oak Creative
The Toppy Top
White Cabana
In The Grey
Taryn Williford
Cooper + Thames
Mrs. on the Move
Magnificent Temptations
Meg Biram
Victoria McGinley

Read my previous linkups here: January, February, April, May. Thanks to Meg and Victoria for bringing us all together again this month.

Design: News from Italy

My dad is currently nearing the end of a vacation in Italy. He was there to reunite with his highschool friends whom he has not seen or spoken to in 50 years. 50! Last year, one of his highschool friends found him on Facebook. Facebook! They chatted online, then over email, then on Skype. So cool. When his friends told him that the highschool friends were having a reunion this year, Dad booked his flight. Can you imagine – a reconnection after 50 years? I think it’s absolutely amazing.

While he was away, my dad texted me almost daily photos of La Dolce Vita. He succeeded in making me jealous, that’s for sure. He’s such a little blogger-in-training! He sent photos of food, countryside, and even a Thonet-ish bentwood chair. He also sent specific photos for White Cabana. Gosh, I feel so proud! He actually reads my blog…and listens to me when I talk about fashion, design, and art!

Here’s a bit of Italy through Dad’s iPad/iPhone, if you’d like to see.

The Richard Ginori brand is well-known in Italy, and dad must have been listening to conversations between my mom and me about the brand. In preparing this post, I learned that the company was going bankrupt in 2013, and it was bought by Gucci. The Richard Ginori collection on display in a window in Firenze (Florence) are very White Cabana worthy.

White-Cabana-Dad-Italy-8White-Cabana-Dad-Italy-9Dad texted this photo from Gubbio (in Umbria), and at first, I wondered why there were two holes in the back of the chair.White-Cabana-Dad-Italy-1But then he sent this one, and I understood.   White-Cabana-Dad-Italy-2He also sent along a few fashion photos (he listens to me, he really listens!). It seems to me that white is the colour of Italian fashion this summer. The photos are from Firenze (Florence) and Sansepolcro (in Tuscany). Bravo!White-Cabana-Dad-Italy-6White-Cabana-Dad-Italy-4White-Cabana-Dad-Italy-5 White-Cabana-Dad-Italy-3A few more photos might trickle in. From what I gather, dad’s been having a grand ol’ time (I’ll spare you the daily gelato and pasta photos).

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