Inspired Reads: The Girl on the Train

If you’ve heard one thing about The Girl on the Train, you’ve probably heard that it’s the new Gone Girl.And yes, much like its comparison, it is an intense, psychological thriller where no one can be trusted. But it can also stand on its own as a great page turner!The Girl on the Train

“Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and evening, rattling over the same junctions, flashing past the same townhouses.The train stops at the same signal every day, and she sees the same couple, breakfasting on their roof terrace. Jason and Jess, as she calls them, seem so happy. Then one day Rachel sees someone new in their garden. Soon after, Rachel sees the woman she calls Jess on the news. Jess has disappeared.” – Indigo Reads

What makes this an inspired read for me is that idea of passing by the same people every day, neighbours for instance, seeing them but not ever knowing what really goes on in their lives. We can be experiencing the day to day in such close proximity without ever being affected by one another. I thought that idea alone made a great premise for a dramatic novel. And what made this even more enjoyable was not knowing which of the three female voices (chapters fluctuated between different characters at different times) was telling the truth or giving accurate descriptions of events. They all had moments of weakness, betrayal, obsession…which made it that much more suspenseful. Part way through the story I had a pretty good idea of who “the killer” was but that didn’t stop me from loving the twists and turns. I easily finished it in two sittings. The Girl on the Train

So if you need a fast-paced, easy to “pick up and not put down” kind of book, this is a great option. A perfect companion on a beach or a plane ride! Though not incredibly original or even the most realistic, it is absolutely suspenseful and a lot of sinister fun! (and will probably end up being a blockbuster hit starring some B-lister in the near future haha)

Happy reading!

Inspired by: Paris in 3 days

3 wonderful days in Paris…what could be lovelier! I was very happy to return to the City of Light this spring break. It seems each time I go back, I love it just a little bit more and for different reasons. I remember the first time I discovered Paris with my best friend, Jenny, we were awestruck. Everything from the Eiffel Tower to the little paved courtyards excited us. And to this day (that was 9 years ago!!! holy crap!!) the magic of Paris is not lost on me. So I would love to take you through my Parisian journey (in Iphone photos) and give you some recommendations for the best to do in 3 days.

Get to know Paris:

paris in 3 days

  • The city is divided into 20 arrondissement (districts) that spiral out from the heart of the city – the first district
  • The river Seine divides the city in two – the left bank and the right bank
  • The subway system is Paris is one of the oldest and most efficient in the world

Day 1

Start your morning with a croissant, some cheese and a delicious cup of coffee. Make sure to purchase a pack of Metro tickets instead of buying individual ones. This makes for a better deal and less hassle of buying individuals. Take the metro to Solférino and go discover the Musée D’Orsay. Yes, the Louvre is spectacular and grand and can/will take days on end to see and appreciate! But for something different, this smaller museum packs a lot of punch too! Housed in what used to be a train station are collections of art from the period 1848 to 1914 (the ones that couldn’t quite fit in the Louvre).paris in 3 daysYou can basically say that the museum itself is a work of art with the arched ceiling, incredible light fixtures and massive gold clock. paris in 3 daysThe other original train station clocks throughout the museum make for the perfect picture stop. paris in 3 daysThe collections include masterpieces from Degas, Monet, Manet, Picasso, van Gogh, Cézanne, Rodin, and many more.

paris in 3 daysOption: buy the combined ticket to also visit the Rodin Museum. Go see the famous Thinker and then wander the small gardens that same day. Then you are conveniently next door to Les Invalides and the greatest tomb I have ever seen: Napoleon’s tomb. It’s a showstopper!

Reminder: Musée D’Orsay is closed on Mondays.

If you spend enough time in the museum, there is a beautiful café on the top floor for lunch. If not, grab a baguette or sandwich on the way to your next stop. paris in 3 daysWalk along the river Seine and see all the vendors who line the walkways. If your heart is set on purchasing a book, here is the place to do it. You will also come across the Pont Neuf where many lovers’ locks line the bridge.

paris in 3 daysYou will be hard pressed to find a free spot though because the bridge is packed…and also, the weight of locks has started to become a problem and they have begun to close off sections of the bridge’s rails for safety…eek! It is a fun tradition but definitely one that most Parisians don’t love because they affect the integrity of the bridges…A good photo stop though nonetheless :)

 

Cross over onto Ile de la Cité to see one of Paris’ most famous landmarks, the Notre Dame Cathedral.

paris in 3 daysNo trip to Paris is complete without seeing this gothic masterpiece and then taking a walk inside. If you are brave enough to conquer the winding staircase, the view from the top is outstanding and then you can see the gargoyles up close. paris in 3 days

Spend the rest of your afternoon in one of Paris’ most beautiful areas Le Marais which is a favourite for many. This is where the aristocracy lived for many years and is evident still to this day when you stumble on small palaces and their gorgeous gardens. Later on the Marais became one of the Jewish centres, and then also a happening area for Fashion and posh creatives. Le Marais has so many amazing boutiques, shops and, of course, cafés to discover so take your time here and get lost in the winding, historic streets.paris in 3 daysA must visit in Le Marais? La Place des Vosges. This square is said to be one of the most poetic and beautiful of Paris with identical buildings on all 4 sides. Originally constructed for royalty and later on the aristocracy of Paris, it still maintains its dignified air. It is the perfect place to grab a coffee or wine, sit and do nothing. You can also gaze upon the corner home where Victor Hugo began working on Les Miserables…

paris in 3 daysTip: Instead of entering in from the main road, head to Rue Saint-Antoine and look for the Centre Des Monuments Nationaux. You can walk through the courtyard and be transported back centuries to the days of royalty. There is a lovely bookstore here before you walk into the gardens of the palace and what used to be the greenhouse. There you will see a secret doorway that will lead you into la Place des Vosges.

For dinner, either stay here in La Marais and continue to discover or head back to the river and have a dinner cruise along the Seine. Seeing the city from the water at night is breathtaking and so romantic. Worth the expense!

paris in 3 daysGet Inspired:

  • Watch: Midnight in Paris, Amelie and Ratatouille
  • Listen: Madeleine Peyroux
  • Read: The Josephine B Trilogy by Sandra Gulland and Paris The Novel by Edward Rutherfurd

Day 2

paris in 3 daysIf you got a chance to glimpse the Eiffel Tower from afar or floating down the Seine then you should already have some great photos. But, starting Day 2 with another trip to the Eiffel will be well worth it. Most tend to view this stunner from the south east side with the Champ de Mars stretching out before them. And if a nice picnic is in order then stick with this; however, I love the view from the other side. Take the metro to Trocadéro and walk to the Palais de Chaillot (next to Trocadéro). The square is framed by the Musée national de la Marine and the City of Architecture and Heritage and is a perfect location for photographing the Iron Lady in all her glory. You also manage to miss all the crowds here that are flooding the Eiffel down below.

Take another metro journey to Charles de Gaulle – Etoile to take in the grand Arc de Triomphe and then start your stroll down the famed Champs-Elysées. The shopping here ranges from the typical Zara and H&M stores to Guerlain and Louis Vitton. Regardless if shopping is a priority, the street itself is gorgeous and worth a walk. You can also glimpse Le Fouquet’s, where you may spot a celebrity or two and stop in at Ladurée for the most unbelievable macarons. Try Pistachio and Salted Caramel!paris in 3 daysContinue walking through the gardens, past the Grand Palais and Petit Palais until you reach Place de la Concorde, the spot of the guillotine and death of many nobles back in the French Revolution. Here you are in the first district of Paris. You could then continue through the breathtaking Jardin des Tuileries towards the Louvre and spend some time there. OR you could follow me to another amazing area.

I recommend going down Rue Saint Honoré and stopping for a quick look at Place Vendome. This area is great for shopping and having lunch. Then continue walking north to the Paris Opera: Palais Garnier. This may be my favourite building in Paris. I highly suggest a walk through to see the splendour and extravagance and, if you are lucky, a ballet rehearsal onstage. paris in 3 days

Behind the Opera house is les Galleries Lafayette – 7 floors of dazzling shopping, not for the faint of heart. Head in to see the gorgeous ceiling alone! paris in 3 daysI recommend going up to the 7th floor and going into the toilette. Never have I seen a better view from a washroom…but seriously, you can also go outside onto a terrace and get stunning views of the Paris Opera and up to Montmartre. So worthwhile!

paris in 3 daysAfter your rest here, start walking up to the next gorgeous area of Paris: Montmartre. On the way you can stop on the Boulevard de Clichy and see the famous Moulin Rouge. paris in 3 daysIt is a bit of a hike up to Montmartre, the highest point of Paris, but so very worth it if your legs aren’t toast by now. This area is famous for so many different reasons and one of them is because it is always swarming with massive crowds. Don’t let that discourage you, though. Admire the soaring Sacré Coeur cathedral instead and take in the incredible view of Paris. You’ll soon understand why this is my favourite spot of all.

paris in 3 daysparis in 3 daysAfter a quick visit inside the Sacré Coeur, explore the streets behind the church. This is the Paris of the artists! I always think of the bohemian revolution and the movie Moulin Rouge :) But it is true…Countless historical figures have lived and worked here, from Picasso to Renoir. And it is easy to see why there are still painters at work here. It is a quaint neighbourhood with the right creative spark. Have a stroll here and dinner on the hill before returning and maybe seeing a Ballet production! paris in 3 days

Day 3

For your last day in Paris, I suggest focusing on food and drinks! What could be better!? Start by touching down in the 5th district of Paris at the Metro stop Place Monge and get ready to immerse yourself in the local fanfare. The french take their cuisine seriously and know how to shop. On one or two streets in each arrondissement (districts) you will have your market – the butcher, the baker, the pastry shop, the cheese shop, etc. all close together. We toured around the area of Rue Mouffetard and sampled some incredible food. paris in 3 daysI bought enough French treats to put on a delightful meal at home and I even managed to grab a bottle of French wine! If the weather is nice, grab your bread, cheese, meat and wine and have a little picnic in the park nearby.

Also along this street are quaint cafés where you can, once again, drink a delicious latté. Keep your eyes open for some lovely boutique shopping as well. Everything you need on one street!paris in 3 daysI highly recommend a stop in at this patisserie where I had the best éclairs I have ever tasted. It is close by on the Rue Censier near Rue Mouffetard and the owner/patissier Carl Marletti is renowned for his exquisite creations (including amazing jam and marshmallows!!)paris in 3 days

If you are not completely “fooded” out, head to the Marché Monge for a perfect stroll through a french farmers market. You can purchase anything from jams to salt, from flowers to veggies. I highly recommend grabbing a fresh Fig if they are in season. We never get them in Canada and I have never tasted something so sweet and delicious!paris in 3 daysThe rest of the day can be a great time to revisit anywhere you felt rushed or missed…maybe another museum visit and an afternoon trip to the Loire valley. Wherever the wind takes you! We also walked around the 5th district into some small squares filled with antique shops before returning to Boulevard Saint-Germain. A great place to end your day!

Breathe deep because 3 days in Paris is incredible but only a glimpse. Make mental notes of where you can visit and what you can do the next time you visit! I know I’ll go back again!

Packing Carry On Essentials

I am jet setting on a trip to Paris, Florence and Rome for about 10 days and I couldn’t be more excited!! I started buying some essential items and packing up my bag a day or two ago, trying to grab the perfect outfits, shoes, toiletries, etc. One thing I am really particular about is how I pack my carry on bag. Is anyone else like me in that their carry on needs to be perfect?? Especially when it comes to making that big journey over the pond…

I thought I would give you a glimpse of my carry on essentials – the items I always make sure to have before boarding that plane.

carry on essentialsComfort is key when flying, especially for hours and hours. And I hope to get some shut eye!

  1. An inflatable neck pillow will do wonders and it won’t take up all that space in your bag.
  2. A pair of wooly socks will help keep you cozy and warm! I hate trying to sleep while I’m cold and usually my feet are the first things to go all icy.
  3. Yes, the airline has blankets but there is something that much better about wrapping up in your own scarf. Obviously a big blanket scarf will be the best option here.

carry on essentialsI always make sure that every piece of technology comes on the plane with me so that in the event of luggage loss, I at least have my most expensive possessions with me…and would more than likely need right away after I landed.

  1. My Macbook comes with me in its Etsy case. Ryan usually has the Ipad…whatever it is, keep it safe with you
  2. Earphones are always in my carry on bag so I can utilize any in flight entertainment and listen to my own music.
  3. If you are travelling with someone, then a splitter is a great idea. Then you can watch the same show or listen to the same music.
  4. Having a portable charger will be so handy if you are on a long flight like me. But regardless, these little chargers are sleek, take up barely any space and can really save you in a pinch.

Also – think about downloading some great travel apps before you leave! Some suggestions: City Mapper to find your way around or Trip Case to organize all your travel arrangements and save your flight info, etc. or Viber to make calls or texts home for free using Wifi or hey even the Trip Advisor App or Lonely Planet!

carry on essentialsI always look haggard after a flight. No seriously…I have a few items that help take the edge off.

  1. A pocket mirror to make quick checks as I, for instance, stand in line waiting for customs.
  2. These express cleansing wipes go a long way in making me feel a bit less grotesque :) Let’s face it, you won’t be washing your face in the airplane bathroom so grab one of these instead (having a travel size toothbrush is always a great bonus…or gum…lots of gum)
  3. A travel sized brush to detangle the mane
  4. Airplanes are soooo dry…I always make sure to have a lip balm of some kind. Currently loving the cocoa butter vaseline lip therapy in our horribly dry weather.
  5. If I pack one makeup item on the plane with me, it’s my cheek stain. I don’t need any brushes, just a quick pat on the cheeks and I look a little more rejuvenated.
  6. Travel sized perfumes are great (a long with some deodorant of course)! I love Thierry Mugler’s scents!
  7. Put it all in a cute pouch for safe keeping like this one from Anthropologie. I am also likely to add a few more items here like: gum, Gravol and pain killers, some hair elastics and a bobby pin or two.

carry on essentials

And last but not least, I always pack a few extras like…

  1. A passport holder like this one I grabbed from Chapters. And no, a holder like this is not essential, but it sure does make it easier to find in my bottomless bag!
  2. A good read like The Girl on the Train that I am looking forward to diving into is so essential. On this trip I am also bringing along my french phrasebook to do a bit of brushing up and a good design magazine or two!
  3. I like to be prepared for varying weather conditions when I land so I usually pack my pocket umbrella in case of rain and…
  4. My sunnies in case of sunshine!

And of course, all of these travel carry on essentials have to find there way inside a stylish carry on! I love this bucket bag!carry on essentials

Well there you have it! My complete list! I hope you all enjoy your Spring break and if you are travelling somewhere near or far, be safe!

Happy travels xo

SketchUp Design

My apologies for the lack in posts everyone! I can explain! I have probably had the busiest few weeks in a long while. Not only was work busy, but I had my final presentation in my CAD design class. And holy, was this project a ton of work! I literally spent over 20 hours on this thing, leaving me in need of a major computer break and zero energy for blogging. But, in the end, I was really proud of my accomplishment and I thought it would be fun to share it with you all (with the hope that you will forgive my absence too! hehe)

We all got the same basic floor plan design, with exterior windows and walls only – everything else was ours for the designing. I decided to take my friend Dan (who is currently renovating his Whyte ave. apartment) and design a hip loft for him. So to start off, here was the floor plan I created for this sketchup design…sketchup-design

I wanted to give him an open concept feel, utilizing the large windows on the south facing wall. Then he needed a decent size master with private ensuite, freeing up a small half bath for guests. The kitchen/dining space was created with entertaining in mind…and again I tried to keep it open, while still giving him a small home office across from the master.sketchup designWhen you pull up the walls in Sketchup, you can see the awesome space in 3D…one of the reasons this program is so great.

So let’s look at the interior of the loft…sketchup designA great big, wide entry takes you into the landing. Storage space is to the left and the sliding door to the half bath is on the right. I also put a small closet in for laundry…a la Euro style. I framed the Cheers print I designed for my own home…cus, hey, Dan likes his cocktails too!sketchup design

A simple half bath has all you really need…including a big framed photo of the Brooklyn Bridge. sketchup designI absolutely love the simple kitchen design, with the great big window acting as focal point. I placed the sink here for best views. Then I opted for nice dark cabinets and a butcher block counter top. Simple white subway tile on the east facing wall adds a bit of brightness. sketchup designAnd here you can see into the main dining space with my walnut table and bench paired with sleek Eames chairs. On the opposite wall, I hung Gray Malin prints. Dan loves snowboarding and being in the mountains so I thought he’d get a kick out of these. A concrete console table is a great catch all…if you zoom in nice and close that little speck is a ring of keys! Lolsketchup designI decided to “expose the original brick walls” in the loft. I love the look and feel of a little brick and the original colour was perfect for Dan. I added some modern furniture, with lots of places for visitors. I could picture us hanging out here on a Saturday night for sure!sketchup designCheck out the brick wall view…television and all. Also, floating shelves keep it feeling open. sketchup design

Here is the master suite: sliding closet doors, enough space for a large bed and end tables, and a pocket door that leads into the bathroom. I chose hexagonal white tile, a soft blue paint colour for the walls and a modern floating vanity and cupboard for storage. Also, you can’t see in this view but the shower head is aahhhmazing!sketchup designSo what do you think? 100% right?? Yeah, I agree :) But, honestly, this was such an eye opener for me and I learned a lot while designing this loft space. Here are some reasons I love the SketchUp program and would recommend learning:

  1. Drawing by hand is great but having the tech savvy is so important nowadays
  2. SketchUp takes a bit of getting used to, but in terms of being user friendly, I think it is way up there. Much easier to learn than AutoCad in my opinion.
  3. You can get a student version that costs nothing and is really all you need to get started (and also recommended before investing in the full pro sketchup)
  4. As a designer, my drawings can be precise and much easier to get from idea to full design using this software.
  5. There are so many options for furniture, architecture, textures and materials. I mean, I even pulled a Gray Malin print off the internet and could then show my client what the print would look like in the space BEFORE BUYING IT! Unreal! I also could access many paint options. For instance, the main living room walls are painted a specific shade of grey from Sherwin Williams. That is something I can easily swap for another hue to show my client the difference.
  6. You can add so, so many details. I ended up not doing things like baseboards or hardware on my cabinets…partly because I ran out of time and partly because I was going mental from all the hours of work. But the options are really endless.
  7. It’s easy to go from 3D to 2D and print off the images or place them wherever I need them. Again, pretty user friendly.
  8. There is a lot of support. You could ask virtually any question online and get an answer lickity split!

So there you have it. My first foray into the world of CAD design. I am thrilled with the result and I can’t wait to get to design for other clients. I can definitely see myself using the program a lot…maybe not to the full extent you see here…but still, it’s great to have this option!

Thanks for stopping by and being patient with my tardiness…more posts to come this week, I promise!

xo

Winter Whites for Spring

The warmer weather already has me dreaming of spring fashion and design – revitalizing my look and bringing in some new pieces for both my home and wardrobe. It’s no secret that I am a little obsessed with white, right? Well its true and currently, I am absolutely loving the layered white and creams that we’ve been seeing this season (and what Stephanie Sterjovski is wearing beautifully below)…And even if sporting a lot of white or decorating in the hue aren’t the most practical things amidst the melting snow, I fully intend on carrying these wonderful winter whites into Spring. How about you??

Winter whites for springThe Inspiration

winter white for spring1. Long sleeved blouse | 2. Short sleeved cutout shirt | 3. White rimmed sunglasses | 4. White skinny jeans | 5. Crystal geode | 6. Leather mini backpack | 7. Hand woven Rug | 8. Geometric vases | 9. Leather Pouf | 10. Floret Pillow | 11. Cereal Magazine | 12. Gold and white wallpaper

 

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