Monday, December 26, 2016
Sunday, December 25, 2016
Monday, December 19, 2016
After about a week in Italy with visits to Venice and Florence in the books, we were pretty excited to arrive in Cinque Terre. It would be a change of pace to the extreme tourist action of the other two spots. We had seen so many sights, so much art, walked so many kilometres that we were really looking forward to a more chill vibe.
We got off the train and found our way to our rental apartment. We had picked an apartment in La Spezia as it was much more affordable and the pickings were slim having planned this trip so last minute. After lugging our suitcases up 8 flights of stairs (not gonna say it was not painful), we found the apartment to be super cute and comfortable. Actually we had a great experience with all of our apartment rentals and would definitely go this route in the future. La Spezia is a small town and it was an easy walk from home base to the train station. La Spezia is on one end of the train line that connects the 5 villages. Over the years I had seen so many charming images of the 5 lands. It did not disappoint in real life. We hopped off the train and popped up to this view and warm mediterranean air. Ahhh... it was divine!
Soaked in our new environment and caught some late afternoon sun.
Everything is a matter of steps in each of these towns. After exploring a few steps this way and that, we climbed some stairs and turned a corner to find this Pebble Beach. It wasn't exactly pebbles as you can see, but beach goers lounged on them as if this was any other beach. You can see the tunnel that housed the train right above.
Instead we found a table at a resto with a view of the sunset. We eventually hopped over to the corner table, which had the best unobstructed view. Had to try an Aperol Spritz!
The next day we decided to check out another of the 5 villages, Monterosso Al Mare. This is the best of the 5 towns if you are looking to lounge on the beach. It also seemed to be the village with the most restaurants. We didn't explore inland, which at a glance looked pretty residential or hotel filled, but stayed along the water's edge. We admired the picturesque beach umbrellas and noted that we would have to come back for some relaxing seaside time.
Spotted this enticing pool early on along our hike. But we kept walking and walking, up and down and winding around the path. There was a checkpoint where you have to buy a pass to access the trails. I believe the fee goes to cover the conservation of the park and trails. There is also a pass called Cinque Terre Card that covers the train (where you can travel between the 7 stops of the two end locations and the 5 towns) as well as the park pass. Had we known about this, this would have been the smart pass to buy. Gives you the freedom to hop on and off the train and travel freely as well as hike if you wish. Some of the trails were closed for safety and preservation reasons. The terrain along this trail is varied. Some dirt, some uneven stairs, some narrow little ledges. We saw the same faces along our hike. Sometimes one group would stop for photos or a breather and another would over take. One group of 2 retired couples had done this hike before and came well prepared with snacks and plenty of water. We would all remark that an ice cold beer would surely hit the spot. I think we must have been 2 hours into our walk with no end in sight when one of the women offered us a bottle water to share. Saved us! So nice!
Eventually we came up to Vernazza, the next town. S went ahead of me as she was feeling wiped out. She said she would leave it to me to take photos. She just wanted to get to the end! In hindsight she was getting sick and was already feeling the symptoms come on, so her energy levels were low. I think my shoes were infinitely more comfortable as well. I'm sure our state of thirst and hunger made the walk seem that much longer. Spotted this girl at the beginning of the trail with her colourful balloons. At this point, near the end of this trail, she had only had one balloon casualty! Made for a great photo shoot with her boyfriend.
At the end of the hike we popped out in the middle of Vernazza and the noises and proximity of the crowds seem magnified. That's when you realize how lovely and peaceful it is up in the hills. S seemed disappointed that there was not a reception complete with cheering squad to celebrate our feat when we completed the hike! Haha! I think it took us 2.5 hours with many stops for photos. Every angle featured a beautiful view. Our "stroll" turned into a several hour long hike and had we known what we were getting into, we obviously would have been much better prepared. I think it's a great activity for anyone in reasonable health. Just be smarter than us, and pack food and snacks. A nice picnic with wine, bread and cheese would be even better, Also, make sure to bring a hat and sunscreen as you are mostly unprotected from the sun. I still loved the hike and was immediately addicted. On my high, I wanted to power on and hike to the next village! I think the big bad cold that was hitting S had very different ideas.
So, we were much more sensible. Got some food and water in us and had a little rest for a while.
Sometimes it's good to sit and soak up your surroundings. Got a tasty gelato, did some people watching, observed the action and plentiful photo shoots, and caught another beautiful Cinque Terre sunset.
Trofie con Pesto. A simple pesto has never tasted so good.
So good, we ordered it again on our return to Monterosso for lunch the next day. Ive been trying to find an equally yummy pesto since I have been back home. Somehow not the same!
As the sun ducked behind the hills, we felt an immediate chill come on. We piled on our jackets and full length clothes and headed to Manarola to try our dinner luck again. Our apartment hostess had suggested a spot called Nessun Dorma, perched at the highest point and with an incredible view of the harbour and the water.
We were starving and the menu seemed to be all small bites, so we stood along the path with loads of picture takers and oglers and admired the village at golden hour before walking back down to another spot for our last dinner in Cinque Terre. We saw 4 of 5 of the villages but CT was lovely, especially at that time of year. Cinque Terre does seem to exist only for tourists. I'm sure very very few of the those that worked there lived there. But it is still so photogenic and therefore charming. The people were friendly, it was a great change of pace in the middle of our travels and was definitely our fave part of our Italy travels.
I mean look at this!
Last Italy post will cover Rome. Coming up soon!
Sunday, December 18, 2016
One of a Kind Show wrapped, I have been working on custom and special orders, re-stocking stores and working on online orders. On top of that, I have been out almost every evening catching up with friends and family. I love the chaos of this time of year. I much prefer to keep up the pace after the hub bub of OOAK. I'll hibernate and lay low in the new year!
Last week I visited City of Craft. Had to maintain my craft show dosage! Loved the vibe there and left with a handful of handmade gifts to add to my OOAK haul. I especially admire the top notch job they do with the decor. I'm a sucker for a shiny garland!
Here are some other snapshots of life lately. This is the Auroral Bracelet in Multi. This design has been a hit this season, and I think I might have to keep one for myself!
Soul Brunch with some pals! Live music and good eats is always a good combo.
Crystal Bauble Rings are still a customer fave, especially at this time of year!FW16 and this Gilded Ribbon Choker in black was one of the most popular. Check out the website for more colours and other styles!
A real downer this week was when I heard that our neighbours at 401 Richmond, a hub for art, culture, creativity and innovation has been hit with a massive tax hike that may threaten it. So upsetting. The soul of a city is built on culture and experiencing it, not yet another bland condo. Check out the Toronto Star article here. Really hope they are able to wage a successful appeal.
Winter has definitely set in in the last few days. Felt like it was not going to arrive, but it sure is cold and snowy now! I had to miss out on a few plans this week with my lack of snow tires letting me down, but as I have been go go go, perhaps it is ok. I still have a fair bit of Christmas crafting and shopping to do! How about you? Christmas is one week away! Tomorrow is the last day for online orders within Ontario. Local pick-ups will be available until Friday. Just get in touch!
I still have to share the remainder of my Italy photos! I'll get on that, now that life is beginning to calm down...
Stay warm friends!
Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Still recovering after the One of a Kind Show! A huge amount of chaos remains post-show, but I have started shipping online and custom orders from the show. I'll work on the organizing later!
I wanted to express a huge, giant, enormous thank you to all of our incredible customers, top notch booth help, supportive family and friends, my amazing creative community and the fantastic hard working OOAK team for an amazing One of a Kind Show. Could not have pulled this off without all of these people holding me up! Another one is in the books!! Thank you! Thank you! ❤️
I was so happy to be back in the real world these past 2 days. You don't know how much you miss real food and daylight, util you spend two weeks in an exhibition hall. I already have a multitude of booth and jewellery ideas spinning through my head as I think ahead to next season and the next show. Can't wait! Feeling inspired after being surrounded by so much creativity.
Now to catch up on a little sleep!
Thanks again for 16 great years at One of a Kind!
Thursday, December 1, 2016
One of the best was so nice to bring me these delicious cupcakes! And they coincidentally went with the colour scheme of the day! I'm wearing the Circuit Bracelet. I made some special ones in luscious coloured glass currently only available at OOAK. It's my favourite thing that I made for this show. I was so excited when I made the first green one, I took it to my bedside like a little kid with a new toy at the end of the night! Haha!
Four more days remaining at the show! Tomorrow (December 1) is the Late Night Shopping eve, so I had better call it for today and catch a few zzzs. It's a great time to come as we are open until 11pm and perks include free parking after 5pm.
Hope to see a few more of you! Come visit us in Booth Y-04. The show runs until Sunday, December 4th!
Sunday, November 20, 2016
This is the Blaze Choker. It's one of my favourite pieces from this collection. Chokers have made such a huge comeback and I wanted to make one that was something you could wear every day as a wardrobe staple. This all brass piece features a beautiful art deco style pendant. I think it would look great at work and at play!
Hope to see you at the One of a Kind Show! It starts on Thursday and runs through December 4th. MoonRox will be in booth Y-04. It's the first booth in the last aisle, or the first booth in the first aisle, depending if you start at the right end!
To save on tickets, use coupon code ETCVT4HA when buying your tickets online.
Also, follow us on Instagram and Facebook for a Ticket Giveaway that will be announced later today.
Still many things to check off the To Do List. Off to work on some finishing touches!
See you soon!
Thursday, October 27, 2016
(Photography by Joseph Saraceno.)I've been waiting to share this! The new Collection of Fall/Winter 2016 is now up on the website! Check out the new pieces at www.moonrox.ca. I really hope you will like the new designs!
Pictured here are the New Rox Chokers. The original Rox Choker was one of my very first designs when I launched MoonRox way back in 1999. Some of you may remember it! It was a piece that really motivated the start of my business. I had spent my whole life making things. My hands were never idle and I was always creating or drawing. This was the piece that turned one of my hobbies and passions into an almost two decade long career. So I am very grateful to the Rox Choker, and I an super excited to bring a new updated version to you today.
Check out the rest of the collection online! I'll be sharing more photos of the new pieces (and more Italy travel diaries) in the upcoming days.
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Our server told us about local street artist Clet Abraham and told us to look for his studio nearby.
Finally refuelled, we stopped in the cutest store ever to grab some fruit. Up until this point, which was our third day in Italy together, we had basically been surviving purely on carbs, prosciutto and wine. I have never been so happy to see a piece of fruit!
Happy with full bellies, we ambled up the winding roads past the tower and when we spun around near the top, we were wowed by this view. Not sure what we expected, but it was an amazing scene from Piazzale Michelangelo.
This is the wall outside of Clet Abraham's studio, but it was after hours and closed at this time.
We found a table outside to enjoy a few glasses of wine and prosecco at a little bar in San Niccolo, just steps from here.
The next morning, we wandered over the river to the city centre of Florence. Being the types that book very last minute trips and do little to no research before arriving some place, we didn't know what we would encounter. I kind of like to travel this way. I mean, I don't want to miss those "must sees" but I really like to just see how the day unfolds on its own. First stop was Ponte Vecchio. I had heard of this place before (not sure how... probably a random trivia question) but had no idea that it was a bridge lined with several little jewellery shops!
Each little shop had windows full of shiny things and a stunning picture window at the back. The view from the outside of this bridge sure did not reveal that these little sparkling boutiques were hidden inside.
This was the simplest, best and most memorable meal we had in all of Italy. Yes, it is more carbs and prosciutto but every ingredient so fresh and delicious. I'm salivating just looking at this photo.
Grabbed the sandwich from these guys at Il Frattelini. My darling customer and now friend, who is a frequent traveller to Italy, recommended the place. You order at the counter of this hole in the wall and join the other patrons perched on the curb nearby. Everyone was enjoying their sandwiches and perhaps a beer or glass of wine. We chatted with some other imbibers and contemplated a second sandwich, but resisted! I wish the restaurant licensing and liquor laws were more lax here in Canada. Would love to be able to do this at home. It is such a pleasant experience and everyone is responsible.
Next we visited the Uffizi. I had always heard of the Uffizi, especially being a former art student, and was pretty excited to finally be here! (Tip: It's best to pre-book your tickets if you don't have the time to endure the long line ups to most galleries and touristy spots. You can do this online or on location.)
'Primavera' by Sandro Botticelli
Caravaggio's 'Head of Medusa' was another highlight.
Found our way to our dinner reservation at Ristorante del Fagioli, a long running family operated restaurant.
We had to try the Steak Florentine. I mean we were in Florence! It looked more overwhelming when they brought out the raw steak for our inspection. The two of us polished it off, no probs!
After dinner we took the long way back to San Niccolo to walk off the big meal and passed by Ponte Vecchio again. It was a completely different scene, now emptied of the flood of tourists and little jewellery boîtes literally shuttered. I wish I could have this set up for my booth when doing craft shows.
The next day we decided we couldn't come to Florence and not see David -- THE David. So after many distractions and detours, we found our way to the Gallerie dell'Accademia to scope him out.
Stunning space with more amazing frescoes. Just amazing.
Three hours later and close to 10pm we found a spot! Delicious. Outside, the square was bustling with hip young locals. I'm officially old -- I just said "hip young locals!" Many groups of friends has grabbed pizzas from the nearby wood-fired oven pizzeria and gathered outside with a bottle of wine. If we hadn't just walked for forever, I would have happily done this! After dinner we joined the crowd that surrounded a few couples as they skillfully swing danced. Loved the energy here.
We both constantly admired the doors and ringer bells in Italy. On our last morning in Florence, we said goodbye to our home for the last few days and headed to the train station. Next location would be our chance for a little relaxation and some time away from the hustle bustle. On to Cinque Terre!