The Friday Five: 5 Things on my Mind

These things have been on my mind recently.

1. Travel. Do you travel a lot? When? Why? For pleasure? For work? I have loved to travel since I was little (my parents put the bug in me since they were quite the adventurers when we were a young family). I really enjoyed my solo trip to Nashville in December, and I’m looking forward to another short getaway to Grey County (Collingwood area) here in Ontario soon.

2. The holidays. I had a great time celebrating the holidays with family and friends throughout the month of December. And while I had a wonderful time and felt (and feel) very grateful, I was also thinking about loved ones who couldn’t join in on the fun or those who are no longer with us. The holidays are great, but they can also be tough for a lot of people for so many reasons. It’s easy to get wrapped up in gorgeous Christmas decor and beautiful Pinterest DIYs, but at the same time, all of these happy images don’t share the whole story.

3. Outlander. One of a friend’s recent Netflix suggestions included Outlander, so I gave it a try over the holidays. And then I got hooked. I’m just about finished season one. Have you seen it? What do you think?

4. 2018 Home Reno Plans. I had a fight with one of my bifold doors on the weekend. It got so bad that I had to leave the house (dramatic, I know). When I got back and had another fight with it, I ended up breaking the handle and the track gadgets. Oh my goodness. Annoying. I have hated my bifold doors since I moved in almost 5 years ago, so I am making #byebyebifold a priority. I’ll be checking out some places in Kitchener-Waterloo, but if you have any recommendations, let me know. If all works out, I’ll replace 15 interior doors in the months ahead.

In addition, I will be starting renos on my bathroom-laundry room. I have been wanting to rip this room apart for as long as I’ve been in my house, too, but other tasks have been higher on the to do list. I’ll share my design ideas soon.

5. Italian New Year’s Traditions. New Year’s Day always means a massive feast at my parents’ house with our extended family. Beginning the year with family and food and sharing well wishes for the year ahead has been a wonderful tradition (even though everyone is tired from the previous evening’s late-night celebrations). This year, I opted to add in another Italian tradition – a dinner called Cotechino con Lenticchie (translation: large pork sausage with lentils. I used a combination of this recipe and this recipe. The Italian custom is that the coin-shaped lentils bring prosperity and the cotechino brings abundance for the year ahead.

And another New Year’s Eve/Day tradition is to wear red undergarments to bring in good luck for the year. My Nonno was always talking about this tradition at our New Year’s Day gatherings when he was alive.

Have a great weekend, everyone. Stay warm!

Travel: Loews Vanderbilt Hotel, Nashville

As you may know, mid-December, I took a 3-day trip to Nashville. My full 3-day itinerary post is coming up tomorrow, but today, I’m sharing a review of where I stayed – Loews Vanderbilt Nashville. I have never stayed at a Loews, so I was eager to see what it was like since I know it’s a high-end hotel with locations in many desirable cities.

Location

Hotel location is important for me when I travel because, especially when I’m a solo traveler, I want to be somewhere where I feel safe and where I can feel comfortable walking around during the day and at night. Although the Loews is located a few kilometers away from the downtown core – and touristy hot-spots – I felt at ease. I actually really liked staying away from the busyness of the Honky Tonk strip and closer to a place where I feel at home – a gorgeous university campus! 🙂

If you’re looking to stay within a stone’s throw from the honky tonks (bars) or from the Country Music Hall of Fame, the hotel’s distance might bother you. If you’re like me, and aren’t keen on the neon light district of the honky tonks and are eager to try out different areas, then stay at the Loews. The hotel is located across the street from Vanderbilt University, which meant that I was able to easily stroll around to check out the campus (beautiful! and big!). It’s also a short walk from the Parthenon – an amazing replica of the original Greek Parthenon. It was so amusing to turn a corner into Centennial Park from busy West End Avenue and see this amazing piece of architecture.

The Loews offers a shuttle service, too, if you’re going within a 3 mile direction. I used this transportation option a couple of times, and it was very convenient. I could have also texted the hotel if I was out and about and needed a ride back.

Room

If you know me, then you know that I love luxury hotels. Yes, I can certainly manage in a motel, hotel, or Holiday Inn, but I love getting spoiled in luxury hotels. The robes, the beds, the towels, the toiletries…I look at the quality of all of them! At the Loews, here’s what I experienced.

My king-sized bed was incredibly comfortable. I know I did a lot of walking during my vacation, but at the end of the day, I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. The bed just embraced my tired body! I woke up one morning and noticed that the room service card was still displayed perfectly on one of the pillows, which meant that I barely moved during my sleep. This is a sign of an excellent sleep if you ask me!

The made-in-France towels were thick and plentiful. And the toiletries – from an NYC-based company – were made in Canada! Bonus! I didn’t love the conditioner, if I’m being honest, but everything else suited me well. I also appreciated the large(r) sized bottles since I always seem to run out of shampoo in the teeny tiny bottles I sometimes use in hotels.

In terms of the room’s design, the Loews team made an effort to draw in local goodness. The art featured concert tickets (music, music everywhere!) and letter blocks (to signal Hatch Show Print Company). I was spoiled with local treats, too, which made me feel welcome and well taken care of. I also appreciated the rock-star-studded detailing on the curtains.

The Loews team arranged for me to be in a room on a Club Level with a view of the downtown. This meant that I could go into the Club lounge for breakfast and cocktail hour each day and night of my stay. I took advantage of both and really enjoyed speaking to Loews staff who worked in the lounge. All staff, in fact, were very friendly and willing to help.

I’m not sure if it’s a Loews thing or a Nashville thing, but the food was delicious! I wasn’t expecting it to be so beautifully presented or interesting. But it was! I filled up on just about everything at breakfast (I love breakfast!). The evening appetizer selection included cheese and crackers and roasted vegetables. And wine, beer, and mixed drinks, too. Cheers!

Amenities

The Loews Vanderbilt lobby is modern and well-appointed. Frothy Monkey – a local coffee shop – has a location right inside the lobby, which is another nod to local culture. I really liked seeing how the hotel supported local flavour in multiple ways. I don’t think this is often the case with high-end, chain hotels. While I didn’t have a chance to try Mason’s – the hotel restaurant – it is apparently very good. When I came back to the hotel one afternoon after spending a day in the chilly city (weather ranged from about 3 to 10 degrees Celcius while I was there), a hot chocolate stand was all set-up. It was a perfect treat to warm me up while I took a rest before an evening out.

Note that the Loews Vanderbilt doesn’t have a pool. This didn’t bother me, but it may be something you need to consider before you book a stay.

Just look at the lobby decorated for Christmas? Isn’t it impressive? The lobby of the Loews Vanderbilt is beautifully decorated and there’s stylish and comfortable seating and workspace throughout. I lounged here a couple of times during my stay while I was waiting on an Uber or planning my day’s route.

I would definitely stay here again because I did enjoy the staff, treats, room comfort, and general amenities. I also appreciated the hospitality of every single staff member I encountered. Service goes a long way for me!

Thanks to Rachel P. and Loews Vanderbilt Nashville for arranging my stay. Thanks to Matthew M. and the Loews Vanderbilt Nashville staff for ensuring I had a pleasant stay. All opinions and photos are my own.

Hotel to Home: Boscolo, Nice, France

I realized earlier this week that I have been featuring hotels in this hotel to home series weekly since March 2016. That’s over a year’s worth of hotels! Isn’t that wild? There have been so many beautiful hotels that I’ve drooled over, and I certainly cannot pick a favourite! Can you?

I’m debating bringing this series to an end and starting something else (I have a few thoughts), but I’d love to have your input. Do I keep going with “Hotel to Home” series? What else would you like to see here on White Cabana? What would you like me to write about? What would you like to learn? What stories can I share?

While we’re all thinking about our next steps…

Let’s head on over to Nice, France, to look at the Boscolo hotel.

via Boscolo Hotel Nice

Here’s my version with the bed as really the most dramatic piece in the room:

bed, chair, desk, flowers, mirror, curtains, coffee cup, coffee pot

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Travel: Ritz Carlton Sarasota Review

You know what’s great? Having a vacation-in-a-vacation. I discovered this last year, when I booked a stay at the Ritz Carlton Sarasota during my Floridian vacation. My friend and I absolutely loved our experience last year then that we opted to take another vacation-in-a-vacation this year. And the Ritz Carlton Sarasota did not disappoint.

Ritz Carlton Sarasota – The Entrance

Day 1

We learned from our trip last year and planned for an even better time this year. We left Madeira Beach around 7:30am so that we’d make it to the Ritz Sarasota on time for our 9am massages (stay tuned for an review post about our spa experiences).

a lovely welcome – we do love chocolate

By 11am or so, we were done our spa treatments, we were checked into our room (the Ritz was able to accommodate my early check-in request, and I was very thankful), and we were on the shuttle bus to the Beach Club. The Ritz Sarasota has two properties. The first is the hotel in downtown Sarasota. It’s on the water, but it’s not on a beach. The second property is the Beach Club at Lido Beach, which is about a 10 minute drive from the hotel. The Ritz shuttle bus leaves on the hour from the hotel to go to the beach club.

just pretending (side note: I wore this Ralph Lauren t-shirt dress a lot while in Florida)

The beach club is amazing. The pool is large, the lounge chairs are comfortable, the towel service is perfect, and the poolside food options are excellent. Since the beach club is on the beach, seating and service is also available on the beach. We opted to park ourselves poolside so that we could enjoy the music and stay sand-free, but we did go for a walk on the beach, too. Lido Beach is lovely, but it’s not as beautiful as nearby Siesta Key or Madeira Beach (yes, I may be biased).

We stayed at the Beach Club for the full day – in the sun and in the shade. It. Was. Perfect. My poolside lunch consisted of a cheese quesadilla (good) and an ice cream sandwich (amazing). The ladies at the seats next to me all stared (in envy, I’m sure!) when I pulled out the ice cream treat from the container. Since calories don’t count on vacation, I thoroughly enjoyed this classic summertime treat. I strongly encourage you to order one if you go, and I won’t judge if you eat it all by yourself (like I did – yum!).

we spent hours at the Beach Club

happy Jordana

Our room was the same set-up as our room last year. The bathroom, the bed, the balcony, and the view are my favourite parts of the room. Way to narrow things down, right? The bathroom is so spacious and well-appointed. Towels are fluffy and the Asprey products are lovely. The beds are so comfortable; I had an exceptional sleep! I must say that it’s wise for waterfront hotels to have balconies so that guests can enjoy the outdoors while in their own rooms. Our view was over the restaurant’s patio, pool, and water. The decor reflects the sea, sun, and sand with its blue-beige colour palette, the curves on the headboards and chairs, and the artwork and pillow details.

The Ritz bed is extremely comfortable!

All the Asprey and marble! 

a sweet seating area

One of the other (of the many) things that I really like about about the Ritz Sarasota is the shuttle bus service. As I mentioned, the shuttle bus takes guests to the Beach Club. It also takes guests to St. Armand’s Circle – a hot destination for restaurants and shopping. We made a reservation at Shore after doing some research poolside earlier in the day. My friend and I were both pleased with our meals, and we’d definitely return. Because of the Ritz shuttle service, we didn’t have to worry about driving, directions, parking, etc. So darn easy! 

I had to! (at St. Armand’s Circle)

dinner at Shore at St. Armand’s Circle

And we ended the evening with an evening swim. So lovely!

the Ritz Carlton Sarasota – at night

Day 2

On day 2, we opted to stay in Sarasota rather than shuttling over to the beach club. This gave us the opportunity to wonder around town, stumble upon the weekly market, eat a French breakfast at C’est La Vie on Main St., and pop in and out of shops.

white architecture of the library

Main St. Sarasota

a stop in at Sur La Table

mmm…a French breakfast in Florida…oui, oui!

After our morning stroll, we spent the day at the hotel pool. It was fantastic. Absolutely perfect. It was quieter than the beach club, and it offered a slightly different poolside menu. Since we wanted to stay at the Ritz for as long as they’d let us, we asked about using the pool beyond check-out. Here’s another great thing about the Ritz Sarasota – even after check-out, guests are still able to use the hotel’s amenities, including the pool. This made us thrilled!

the hotel pool

the well-manicured grounds of the Ritz Sarasota

For lunch, I snacked on the pita, veggie, and hummus dip. It was a light mid-day meal. When it’s so hot out, I really don’t feel like eating, and I was glad to see a variety of options on the hotel’s poolside menu. I mostly just feel like going from my lounge chair to the hammock to the pool.

that was fun!

We stayed until late afternoon and left right before the rain came. When our lounge chair neighbours predicted that a storm was about 7 miles away, we took it as a cue to pack up and leave.

Once again, I had a great time at the Ritz Sarasota and if all goes as planned, I’ll make another appearance there next year!

Enjoy the rest of your labour day long weekend, everyone!

Many thanks to S.A. and the Ritz Carlton Sarasota team for ensuring our stay was just perfect.

All photos are my own. See a few more photos at #WhiteCabanaGoesToTheRitz.

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Travel: Review of Hotel Henry, Buffalo

When I first learned about Buffalo’s newly opened Hotel Henry, I was intrigued. And I was curious. And I was dubious, too. A must-see hotel? Sure. In Buffalo? Not so sure. You see, the Buffalo I have known up until this summer is all outlet mall and Target. Honestly. I have not seen much more than that on any of my trips to Buffalo. Well, let me tell you, Buffalo surprised me. Really! So much so that I’d definitely make a return trip! Isn’t that what you’d like the result of every vacation to be? I was pleasantly surprised!

You’ve seen a couple of photos of my trip on Instagram (#WhiteCabanaGoestoBuffalo), but here’s a proper tour of the hotel.

Hotel Henry, a national historic site, was built in the 1872 as a psychiatric hospital (aka known as the Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane). I didn’t know much of this history before I arrived which I think is a good thing. I was too googly-eyed over the design and architecture to get too engrossed in all the historical – and spooky!? – stories. As we pulled up to the property, I was floored. Amazed at the large scale and the absolutely beautiful architecture. I was definitely excited as I stepped inside.

The hotel has been part of a 3-year, $102 million renovation project. The hotel is located on a 42-acre site and occupies three of the eleven buildings of the former asylum. The project was led by Deborah Berke Partners and Flynn Battaglia Architects. Just to give you an idea of the scale and work involved, the restoration of 600 windows cost $7 million.

 

Check in was smooth and quick. My room was spacious with ridiculously high ceilings that definitely caught my attention! Beds were comfortable, and the bath products were lovely. Towels were fluffy, and the coffee/tea station was a nice addition. There was plenty of space to spread out, rest, and work (the desk in front of the window was well-planned).

I think it would be lovely if Hotel Henry added robes to the room and a mini fridge, too. These items aren’t essential, but they’re nice pluses for a luxurious stay.

 

Beyond the room, the hotel is absolutely stunning. The foyer and lounges are well-appointed with beautifully designed furniture and accessories. Interesting and unique art is everywhere in the public spaces and guest rooms. The lighting is dramatic and eye-catching.

During my stay, I had the chance to enjoy the bar one evening and breakfast by 100 Acres – the hotel restaurant that is becoming one of Buffalo’s hot spots! I enjoyed both, and loved parking myself in different areas around the hotel to enjoy my drink and meal. Each area offers lovely seating options and great views of the architecture and art.

The next time I go to Hotel Henry, I’m definitely going to sign up for a tour of the abandoned/non-renovated part of the Richardson Olmsted property. If I had known about these public tours before I arrived, I would have signed up, but it completely escaped my research and planning path. In addition to the tour, I’d like to explore other architectural, artistic, and neighbourhood gems.

Prices per night vary depending on day and month, but they average about $150 USD per night. Check the availability calendar for the most accurate price.

Thanks to Hotel Henry for sponsoring this post. All photos and opinions are my own.

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Cars: Review of the Audi Q5

Have I caught your attention with the title? Audi. Q5. Who’s excited for a little car review? Honestly, I am most definitely thrilled to be writing this post about my recent experience with the Audi Q5 – aka #WhiteCabanaDreamCar.

I’ve been keen on the Q5 for a while now, but it hasn’t always been that way.

A long(er) while ago, you may remember that I became pretty obsessed with the Fiat 500. I loved the look of this little Italian go-getter, but eventually my want/need for this little one faded. I rented it for a weekend, and while I enjoyed driving it around Toronto, it barely fit my luggage, and it was quite a noisy highway ride.

In recent years, it was the Audi Q7 that caught my attention, and I wrote about it here. What a beautiful car. It’s sleek, stylish, and roomy. In fact, once I saw it up-close, I realized it might be a touch too roomy for my liking. With no children in tow, I don’t have a need for its third row of seats.

Enter the Q5. I kept seeing this car on the road, and I kept liking it. And liking it some more. When I drove home from Montebello, Quebec, I spotted many on the highway, and each time I saw one, I thought, “now that’s a nice looking car,” sometimes I said it to myself before I was close enough to confirm that the car I was eyeing was in fact an Audi Q5.

Given that I grew up with an Audi 5000, I have fond memories of the Audi brand. My parents bought our grey Audi 5000 at the Audi factory Ingolstadt, Germany, then shipped it over to Toronto way back in 1985! We traveled everywhere in that car as a family. When my Dad finally retired it in 2006 after 21 years and 344,996kms, it was a pretty sad day for all of us. We all knew it was at the end of its life (21 years!), but it was emotional to see it go. Is that weird? To be so emotionally attached to a car? Hope I’m not the only one!

Dad and our Audi 5000 in Ingolstadt, Germany
(my sister and I are in the backseat – camera shy, I guess)

Okay, so we weren’t too camera shy. My sister and I at a basket shop in Germany. I’m flexing my muscles by carrying the biggest basket I could find, I guess!

So this brings me to my recent, super up-close encounter with the Audi Q5. The AudiKW team generously loaned me a white Q5 for a couple of days of adventuring around the Waterloo region (see #WhiteCabanaxAudi on Instagram for a few more photos). What a treat! I was happy to explore the white, sleek AudiKW showroom while I waited for my car. While dealerships can be easily intimidating for someone like me (who knows very little about cars), I was pleasantly surprised by everyone’s welcoming attitudes. I felt comfortable.

I met with Deon and Robert who set me up with the Q5. Robert – a brand specialist – walked me through all the features of the Audi Q5 Komfort. This model is the lowest end of the Audi Q5 spectrum, so some elements I really liked, and others would come in a higher end model (like the Progressive or the Technik).

When I got in the car, the first things I noticed were the driver’s seat and the size of the front window. The driver’s seat was made for me (or so I like to think). It was comfortable from the beginning right up until I dropped off the car. The front window panel was large and free of obstructions. I know this should always be the case, but it isn’t. Sometimes the frame is too thick or the rear view mirror is bulky. I also loved that the windshield wipers tucked away beautifully – they weren’t visible when not in use. Great design detail!

I love the design of these mirrors.

I currently drive a 2004 Toyota Rav4 – which I really do love – but it doesn’t have the modern features of new cars, so it took me a little while to get used to all the tech in the Audi Q5. Okay – not that long, but you know what I mean. In the Audi Q5, I could actually plug in my phone and connect it to bluetooth. I know many new cars have this feature, but my Rav4 doesn’t, so it took a moment to get used to it. Once I did – let me tell you – I made as many hands-free phone calls as I could while I was driving! I get amused so darn easily!

I think I only managed to use about one or two of these buttons! I’m pretty tech-savvy, but not when it comes to cars!

The cargo space is decent in the Komfort (26.8 cubic feet), but I definitely noticed that it’s smaller than the space in my Rav4 (about 38 cubic feet). The seats fold down, of course, which helps for large loads, but it would be something I’d have to consider and test out before I’d purchase it as I do end up carrying large loads on random trips in and out of town. The cargo space in the Q5 is tidy with a hidden spare tire and a privacy cover, too.

 

Great design – everything has its place!

Because I live in Uptown Waterloo and normally walk or bike to the places I need to go, I forced myself to venture out a bit for a longer drive to get the full experience of this car. I took the highway-route to Cambridge so I could go fast! FUN! The pick-up in the Q5 was amazing, and my comfort level remained high! The car drove smoothly and quietly, and I definitely liked driving fast (within speed limits, of course)!

When I was going over the features with Robert at the dealership, he told me that the car can adjust to various driving modes – dynamic, comfort, auto, etc. I opted for dynamic for the majority of the time because the ride felt fast and smooth. Dynamic mode has tight steering and more aggressive gear shifting. Comfort, on the other hand, has softer, easier steering and less aggressive gear shifting.

Look at the little lights underneath the handles – love them!

Having the Audi Q5 in my possession made my birthday celebrations extra fun! In fact, since my parents came for a visit, they, too, experienced the luxurious drive! This was especially fun for my dad who recreated his Audi pose from 1985. 

Notice my approach to parking? The farther and emptier, the better!

Over the course of my Audi Q5 ownership, I drove as much as I possibly could. In addition to driving to and around Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo, and St. Jacobs, I drove over to the sweet town of Elora for a birthday dinner celebration. On the way, I stopped by the Montrose kissing bridge – the last covered bridge in Ontario, and the oldest of its kind in Canada.

And I also stopped by the castle-house on Middlebrook Road (between Montrose and Elora).  While in Elora, I checked out the progress of the Elora Mill. Construction is well underway, and I’m very much looking forward to a return trip here to eat, stay, and relax! It’s going to add so much more prettiness to the already-pretty town of Elora. As you can see in these photos, parking the Q5 was a breeze. Backing into grassy areas and stone-covered roads was a-okay!

For an SUV, the Audi Q5 is extremely fuel efficient. I love this aspect of the car! Apparently, it’s good to go 1000km on a tank of gas. Isn’t that amazing for an SUV?

I took on several passengers over the course of my mini-ownership. Every passenger loved the experience. All agreed that the car was definitely sleek and luxurious and beautifully designed. Back-seat passengers felt that the ride was spacious and comfortable and enjoyed the adjustable back seats as well as the back-seat air conditioning controls.

As a driver, I got easily used to having the control buttons at my fingertips on the console. While some passengers assumed that the navigation screen was touch-screen, it wasn’t. This didn’t bother me at all. I really liked having the circle button on the console to control music, phone calls, settings, etc. It was very easy to operate and comfortable because I didn’t need to extend my arm for touch screen.

While I did absolutely enjoy the Audi Q5 Komfort, and my interest in purchasing one has been confirmed because of this recent driving experience, there are some features that did not come with this model that I would want. My top priority would be a sunroof. I love having a sunroof in my Rav4, and I would definitely want a Q5 that had one. The model that I drove didn’t have all the snazzy sensors and cameras that I would want in a new car. I’d definitely upgrade to include these as I think they’re especially handy for parking and highway driving.

If you can’t already tell, overall, I have become more attached to the Audi Q5 after this driving experience. It’s a beautiful vehicle from every angle, and it made me feel safe, happy, and secure. I also loved walking up to it knowing that I got to get in the driver’s seat. This car definitely suits my style and personality!

Do I still think that this is the car for me? You bet!

Unless, maybe, I should try out the Audi TT first? 🙂

Many thanks to MC and the AudiKW team for sponsoring this post. All opinions and photos are my own.

p.s. Outfit details: jeans – Joe Fresh (last year), top – Kate Spade, eyeglasses – Polette, sunglasses – Rayban, purse – Longchamp.

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Travel: Terre Bleu, Milton, Ontario

If you’ve ever driven from Waterloo to Toronto – and if you’re anything like me – then you’ve probably uttered a few some many curse words as you’ve driven through Milton on the 401. Let me correct myself – as you’ve been stopped in traffic on the 401 in Milton. Ugh. Milton. Up until a few weeks ago, all I had really known about Milton was the traffic I experienced on the 401.

But, I’m happy to share that I’ve found something glorious about Milton (and Halton Region) – the Terre Bleu lavender farm. Hooray! It’s absolutely lovely, and I encourage you to visit! Get off that darn highway and enjoy the serene beauty of the lavender farm! (Warning – this post is infused with hints of purple and yellow.)

Tim and I drove out to Terre Bleu on the Canada Day long weekend for a tour with Terre Bleu’s owner, Ian Baird. Our tour was fun, educational, and full of beauty.

Terre Bleu’s fields grow several varieties of both English and French lavender. English lavender, in brief, is excellent for its scent, while the French lavender is used in culinary endeavors. The English lavender was just coming out when we visited the farm, and the French hadn’t yet shown its colours.

Some people like white…and others like purple. Ian and I bonded over our passion for (a single) colour.

Much of the property is – of course – filled with rows upon rows of beautiful lavender. But Ian has also done an impressive job of embracing, promoting, and fostering art on the farm. The yellow door (that you may have seen floating around social media) provides the perfect photo op, but it is even more cool in person. A random door in the middle of lavender rows. Loved it!

Inspired by the quote (written by Ian’s then-10-year-old daughter) noted above the door, Tim and I left our worries behind us as we walked through the yellow door. We found joy on the other side!

In addition to the lavender fields, Terre Bleu raises honeybees, has an herb garden (which transforms into a great spot for lavender-infused cocktails), and has a beautiful forest and trail. In the forest, along the “Yellow Bench Trail,” you’ll find a wood installation perfect for a conversation circle and – as the name suggests – a yellow bench. But, of course!

Terre Bleu’s honeybees are hard at work! In the photo below, Ian is showing us the old bee keeping house in the distillery – the room where they turn lavender into oils. Those copper vessels, which are used in the essential oil-making process, were brought in from Portugal because of their high quality and production capability.

Before you think that Terre Bleu is all-purple-all-the-time, check this out:

Great, right? This massive, white bench overlooks the equestrian area of the farm, and its design mimics that of the main store/barn structure. No detail was left to chance on this farm! Each design choice was made with much consideration.

And more white came through in the “white” Melissa lavender. In fact, although it looks white here, its true colour will be pink once it’s fully in bloom. (But let’s just pretend it’s white, okay?)

The Terre Bleu team harvests the lavender during the year and transforms it into all sorts of beautiful products – sachets, dried lavender, lavender salt, lavender essential oils, soaps, and more. The white-washed shop is definitely worth a visit. Pick up a treat before you leave, including, perhaps, a scoop of lavender ice cream! I picked up a jar of honey – it’s made with the farm’s lavender and hard-working honeybees! I couldn’t resist!

So, next time you give Milton a passing glance, I encourage you to stop and find your way to Terre Bleu for some inspiration!

See more snapshots of our day at Terre Bleu over on Tim’s blog, Design Maze.

Thanks again, Ian, for the super tour! I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the development of your lovely lavender farm! Milton is lucky to have you!
Photos by Tim and me.

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Art & Hotel: 21c Museum Hotel, Durham, North Carolina

While most of my weekend in North Carolina was spent playing with my three nephews and niece (#ZiaJojoComesToTown), my sister, brother-in-law, and I did enjoy one night out in Durham sans cute children. One of our stops was the 21c Museum Hotel and Counting House. The concept is unique. On the main floor, you’ll find the Counting House – a bar and restaurant. Above, you can wander the floors to explore the art exhibits and historic building, which is open 24/7/365 with free admission if you’re curious. Cool, right? In the basement, visitors can explore the old bank vault since the 21c Museum Hotel is housed in an old bank. Food, drinks, art, history, and a place to stay all in one gorgeous building in central Durham? What’s not to love?

Here are some of the photos I took, if you’d like to see.

Mujer de Blanco, 2015, Marlu Palacios

Spoonfall – water trickling down hinged spoons making the most soothing sounds

Sleeping, 2007, Anthony Goicolea (available for purchase at Caviar20 if you have $18,500 to spare)

The bathroom was wild. I felt like I was in an episode of CSI. Art and function. Awesome. The signage is part of the We Don’t Care exhibition.

You’ll notice fuchsia penguins hanging around the hotel. Guests are encouraged to move them around to create new scenes – or surprises – for others. (Each hotel in the 21c collection has a different colour for its penguins.)

While I did not stay at the hotel, the rooms do look very White Cabana worthy! Perhaps on a future visit to Durham…or Nashville…or Cincinnati…I will check into a 21c Museum Hotel!

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Hotel to Home: B2 Boutique Hotel, Zurich, Switzerland

We are traveling to one of my favourite countries today – Switzerland! While I spent most of my time in the small – but extremely luxurious – town of Gstaad during my visits to Switzerland, I have been fortunate to see many parts of the country.

Zurich, for example, is one city worth visiting because of the art, festivals, and architecture. If you go, perhaps you’ll consider staying at today’s feature hotel – the B2 Boutique Hotel and Spa.

Here’s my take:

bed, bench, pendant lights, black chair, curtains, dining chair, table, blanket

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Waterloo Region: Doon Heritage Village

Last weekend, Rox-Anne and I took a trip to Doon Heritage Village at the Waterloo Region Museum. Just a few weeks earlier, I had gone to the Museum, but the Village was closed, so we didn’t have a chance to take a tour. On this visit though, the Village was all decked out for its Country Christmas event, so it was a festive and cheery way to spend a couple of hours.

Doon Heritage Village is a “60-acre living history village that shows visitors what life was like in Waterloo Region in the year 1914.” I was impressed by the knowledgeable staff who provided us with information about food, tradition, family living, and marketplace routines as we moved through each of the buildings in the Village.

There was a lot of natural wood in the homes and merchant shops in the village, but I spotted quite a bit of white, too (as per usual…I’m always on the lookout!).

some tools by the fire in one of the home’s kitchens

wood and wood and more wood in a home’s basement storage area

saddles in the leather shop

white and wood in the leather shop

saddle supplies in the leather shop

pretty wreath on the church door

simplicity in the church

winter white

a glimpse of the loom in the rug weavery

a home dressed for Christmas

food storage in a home’s basement

I love this image of Father Christmas waiting to greet guests, and I’m going to be on the lookout for a wall match strike like this one.

Rox-Anne will be sharing more photos on Celebrating This Life this week, so be sure to check in if you’d like to learn more.Save

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