Montreal bound

Montreal bound for almost a week for work! Excited to host the Quebec Indie Music Awards on Sunday night!

The one thing I recently learned, is that I can no longer travel without my Anine Bing jeans and boots. They are a traveler’s best friend! Not only are they super versatile and stylish, they’re also SO comfortable!

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Speaking of travel, Offner sent me a list of 31 places to visit around the world this morning. The list is absolutely ridiculous! I actually have yet to travel to any of these places. You can consult the full list here. I hope to be able to live long enough to do all 31 of them!! They are now all on my bucket list. What places are on yours?! Where do you absolutely want to travel to?

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Photo credit: http://imgur.com/a/m9YjK

 

Weekend Getaway in Williamsburg

A few weeks ago, I took Offner for a weekend birthday trip to Williamsburg. Though we’ve both been going to NYC quite a bit lately, we tried checking out a bunch of new places on this trip.

 

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We flew with Porter Airlines, which is always the most convenient when coming from downtown Toronto. There is never a line up at customs when you arrive in Newark and it’s conveniently located by a train station that brings you directly to Penn Station. For $13, you can get from the airport to downtown NYC using the free terminal airlink train and NJ Transit. The train comes every 15 minutes and even more often if traveling during rush hour. It’s only a three-stop ride. By using the train, you will avoid all traffic and paying tolls to get into the city.

 

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From Penn Station, we took the J train all the way to Williamsburg where we were staying for this trip. I had rented a cosy little apartment on South 8th Street through airbnb. Not only was the place super well located, the apartment was very affordable, more than any hotel we could have gotten in the area. So far, I’ve only had really positive experiences with airbnb and it’s really changed the way I travel. Though we didn’t make use of it on this trip, having a kitchen or even a patio is always fun when you’re staying somewhere for a longer period of time!

 

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We spent lot’s of time walking around Williamsburg during the weekend. Here are a few of our discoveries:

 

East River Ferry: this is a super fun way to get from Williamsburg to Manhattan. The ferry comes approximately each half an hour and can take you to midtown or downtown. Not only is it pretty quick, it’s also a great opportunity to enjoy the beautiful skyline and sights of Manhattan, Williamsburg bridge, Brooklyn, etc. A one-way ticket is $4 and a day pass is $12.

 

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Free outdoor shows: while strolling around Williamsburg, we found a super huge outdoor stage right by the water and at the Williamsburg park. Though the concert series is over for the rest of the year, there’s no doubt that it will be back next spring. So many amazing acts were playing this year including: The Shins, Odd Future, New Order, HIM & a ton more! This wasn’t the only free show going on that weekend, there was also a free metal and beer festival happening by the waterfront and a Noisey/VICE Bonfire Session show.

 

Kristophe: on Saturday morning we were looking for a place to have brunch and like we sometimes do, we walked around to find a spot that looked cool. We found Kristophe, which had a super neat interior – looked like an old wine cave and a very cute back patio. Being out there, you couldn’t imagine that you’re just a few minutes from Manhattan because it was so quiet and luscious. They started by offering us a complimentary mimosa glass. They had a varied menu with gluten free and vegetarian options. I opted for one of their crepes that was filled with fresh market cheese and homemade jam. The atmosphere was quaint and the food was super filling. The perfect way to start the day!

 

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Williamsburg Antique Mall: we found this great antique flea shop in what looked like an old garage while on our morning stroll. Though the place is a total mess, they had so many neat vintage pieces. We brought back two American collector jars at $3 a pop – one with Apollo 14 (as a kid, i met Edgar Mitchell, one of the astronauts on Apollo 14!) and the other of John F Kennedy.

 

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Patrizia’s Pizza & Pasta: for our last meal of the weekend, we found a family-run Italian restaurant that served the biggest pasta and pizza plates I’ve ever seen. The restaurant was loud and festive, packed with families, just as you’d imagine a family dinner at your nona’s house would be. The thing that stood out from the restaurant was that everyone seemed to be having the best time! I opted for a house salad and homemade pizza and Offner got some shrimp. The food was very comforting and tasty.

 

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We also spent some time in Manhattan. We went to visit his cousin at Spin, the ultra-hip ping pong club located on East 23rd Street, a club that is partly owned by Susan Sarandon. As expected the place was packed and they were holding their usual Friday night tournaments, which are always fun to watch.

 

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Though we didn’t have nearly as much time as we wanted to walk around everywhere, here are some of our favorite things from the island:

 

Gallow Green: I took Offner there as part of his gift for his birthday. I chose the spot because it was rated the most romantic restaurant in the city. The restaurant is located on the beautiful McKittrick Hotel rooftop on the west side. The rooftop is decorated with many plants, flowers, flag and little lights. All the staff is dressed as if they’re working on farms back in the day. The night we went, they also had a jazz band playing. We got there a little early so we took at custom drink at the bar. The bar menu was really delicious and original. We then were given a table right in front of the jazz band. The menu consisted in a whole bunch of fresh, organic and delectable plates to share. I opted for a cheese platter, marinated vegetables and a quiche while Offner had a plate of different meats. The food was absolute perfection and surprisingly not as costly as I had imagined.

 

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The Highline: We walked on the Highline to get to Gallow Green. It was my first time taking a walk on this beautiful structure. What a great idea to put a passageway above the city and fill it with plants and trees. I loved the architecture of it, the idea of putting benches and grass around everywhere. The view of the city was spectacular! Though we only did it at night, I’m sure the view is just as fascinating during the day.

 

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VEDA: They’re a really small boutique company from New York City that make all sorts of rad leather products. They recently collaborated with Pamela Love on a series of colorful and unique leather jackets. They also have some of the best leather pants. VEDA just opened up their first shop on Mercer St. in Soho. Their shop is small but super quaint.

 

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Modern Vice: the first day we got to NYC, we stopped by the Modern Vice factory to meet the brand’s founder Jordan and his girlfriend, blogger/model Natalie Suarez (check out her super cool fashion blog here) and to also get a pair of Modern Vice’s dreamy boots. They graciously took the time to show us around their factory. So impressive to see everyone working so hard, making handmade boots. I had never really seen that before. The phone kept ringing every few seconds but Jordan and Natalie made sure we were well taken care of! So excited to have gotten a pair of Camo Jetts. Can’t wait to receive them!!

 

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Apotheke: Located in a small nook in Chinatown, this super trendy basement bar definitely has the coolest concept. Apparently the place used to be an old pharmacy so they retained that concept and serve “prescriptions” instead of drinks while wearing white lab coats. All of their “prescriptions” are made from local, organic produce picked from local markets or straight from their rooftop herb garden. Their drink menu is perfection! Every drink was so creative and uber tasty! (photo credit: Apotheke’s website)

 

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We had a super early flight back at the crack of dawn on Monday morning. If it hadn’t been so early we would have opted for the train route but we decided to see how long it would take by cab. The disadvantage of staying in Williamsburg and flying out of Newark is that it is far. A closer airport would have definitely been LaGuardia but because everything else is so convenient when flying with Porter, we still thought it was worth it in end. The money we saved by not taking a cab to and from Pearson Airport, we were able to get a cab from Williamsburg at 4am. Note that the cab ride from Williamsburg to EWR should cost you around $72 US. I recommend calling in advance and making sure you have a fixed price and calling a Williamsburg-based cab company. The cab drivers also prefer cash.

 

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Another fun weekend getaway in the books! We’re thinking of doing a museum-themed weekend next time we go. There are just so many different museums to see and we always get caught up in other things so we never actually make the time to go. Can’t wait to go back! 🙂

Welcome to Miami!

Two weekends ago I was able to spend a few days in Miami. My last visit to Miami dates back to last November but I had only spent 48hrs in this tropical wonderland. Growing up in Quebec, Florida was always a very popular destination for my family in the winter. I think my first ever trip as a baby was to Orlando when I was just a few months old. I’ve done the Orlando/Disney trip a handful of times, stayed in West Palm Beach with my grand-ma, went to Fort Lauderdale a few times but hadn’t spent too much time in Miami before.

So I was really happy to have more quality time there to discover some of the city’s hotspots.

Summer isn’t necessarily the best time of year to head to Miami, that’s when it tends to rain a lot just because it gets so humid and hot. We got lucky with the weather, it only rained one morning out of four and a half days. It was 42+ celsius and sunny the whole time.

We spent most of our time at the beach, the water was SO warm! It is also really clear and the ocean floor is soft and sandy, so you can see all sorts of tropical fish swimming around you. It’s beautiful! Though a little pricey – $50 a day for two chairs and a parasol but you can come and go as you please the entire day, we made sure to protect ourselves from the hot sand and intense sun. There’s really nothing quite like swimming in the ocean. It’s oh so relaxing!!

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I was able to do a little bit of shopping while I was there. My two favorite spots are: Collins Ave. (where you’ll find everything from Zara to LF, to Armani, etc.) and also the pedestrian outdoor shopping area on Lincoln Road.

I’m a huge fan of Art Deco so seeing all the different art deco hotels, buildings, clubs, museums, etc. are so amusing to me. We took the time to visit one of their Art Deco themed museum – the Wolfsonian FIU, located on Washington Ave. They had interesting collections on women and sports, Zeppelins, Art Deco, Architecture, etc. It’s only $7 per person and will take 1-2 hours of your time.

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3 favorite places to eat:

The Dutch – is located in the W Hotel in South Beach. They offered a brilliant fall fixed price menu with one appetizer, one main and a dessert. Everything everyone had there was absolutely to die for! The wine selection was also top notch! The vibe of the place was cozy yet stylish, the staff was knowledgeable and super helpful. I loved my dinner there and can’t wait to go back!

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Otentic – I officially found the best cheese platter in Miami. This small restaurant located on Washington Ave. makes typical French dishes. I loved drinking a Monaco (beer & grenadine drink), their charcuterie boards and salads are also killer. They make a mean chocolate mousse! I love their attention to detail, offering customers a free glass of white wine and tapenade as soon as you walk in. The owner Aurélien (yup, same name as Offner!) is super young and friendly. A must!

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The Forge – Loved eating at this over the top Art Deco inspired restaurant. The atmosphere was young, hip and fun! The styling of the place was unreal. They had a special on Veuve Clicquot champagne the night we went so if you ordered a glass of champagne at the bar, they would serve you unlimited appetizers. Unreal! The food was also heavenly. They had very tasty bread baskets and a fabulous selection of wine. I had the soup and grilled cheese, Offner had the burger and his parents, the biggest steak I’ve ever seen! Their little dessert tray was also yummy. It’s a festive place with loud music so if you’re looking for a quieter spot, this may not be the place for you!

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Now for something completely different, the 11th Street Diner located on Washington and 11th Street is also a superb place to grab some quick breakfast or lunch. It’s the original building that was constructed in 1948 in New Jersey that they moved to Miami in the 1990s.

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A bar to check out:

The Broken Shaker – is located in the hip Freehand Miami hostel. Offner always loves checking out up and coming bars in every city we visit. He had heard of this place because of their original handcrafted drinks made from ingredients, herbs & spices directly taken from the place’s garden. We tasted their savory sweet and spicy homemade punch. They also had a tremendous outdoor garden/patio with a pool, lot’s of fun seating areas, little lights, trees, ping pong tables, etc.

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(photo credit: The LA Times)

Finally, if you’re looking for a cool morning or afternoon excursion, I highly recommend taking a trip to the everglades at the Everglades Safari Park. I’m not one to do too many touristy things on vacation but this was really well organized, informative and fun. For $40, they take you from South Beach (the location of your choice) on a 40min bus ride to the everglade national park. You then go on a 45min airboat tour where they teach you about the different species of snakes, alligators, wildlife, etc. in the national park. That is followed by an informative alligator demonstration (no one wrestles with alligators!) and time to walk around their sanctuary where you can see all sorts of alligators, crocodiles, lizards, etc. They then take you back to your hotel in South Beach. Honestly, well worth the money and super amusing!

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Our time in Miami went by SO fast! With it only being a 3hr flight from Toronto, it’s the perfect long weekend destination! Can’t wait to go back soon!

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California Highlights

Just before leaving for Montreal on assignment for work, I spent almost two weeks in California for a little r and r. Here are some of the highlights of my trip:

1- Venice

It was my first time officially staying in Venice on this past trip. @Offneraurelien had stayed there before and definitely is very fond of this beach town. Though I’d hung out in Venice and had meetings there, I had never really explored the town more: the infamous boardwalk, the enormous guys work out at Muscle Beach or those dressed up asking for money to pose for pictures, etc. What I liked about Venice is the fact that not too far from that madness, you have all the beautiful canals and homes in quiet streets. I envy those who live in that area. How about a nice kayak ride after breakfast or a coffee on your porch overlooking the canals and being just two blocks from the ocean?! Sounds dreamy! What I also fell in love with in Venice is Abbot Kinney street. The street totally screams MEL! I love all the quaint coffee shops, the abundant choice of restaurants (you must go to Gjelina – the Caramel & seasalt pot de crème is RIDIC! & 3 Square Café + Bakery) the cool clothing and vintage shops and its overall vibe!

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2- Deus ex machina

Located in Venice, this coffee shop/bike shop is a cool laid-back spot for a croissant and coffee in the morning. If you like the old motorcycle culture, surfing and coffee, then Deus is the place for you! I loved how friendly the staff was there. They don’t offer a very extensive menu but the stuff they do offer is yummy. Plus, they’ve got a cool shop design. Deus is always putting on some rad events in the Venice area, so make sure you check them out!

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3- The CheeseStore of Silverlake

Those who know me, know how much I LOVE cheese! I don’t think I could live without it. We stopped by the Silverlake cheese shop for a little “goûter” one afternoon. Their selection was fantastic! They had so much variety, cheeses that are hard to find even in Toronto, fresh baked goods and a wonderful selection on wines. Plus, their prices were really affordable! I loved sitting down on their bench out front in the sun and enjoying my goûter!

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4- Reel Inn

@Offneraurelien had been telling me about this place for quite some time now. He claims that Reel Inn was the coolest little taco restaurant in all of LA. Located on the PCH right at the beginning of Malibu, Reel Inn looks like some crappy wood shed. You would have no idea that they serve a huge variety of fresh fish they caught that day as well as some good old tacos. You could see it in Aurelien’s face just how stoked he was to be at his favorite “taco fish” spot. I loved their terrasse and super cosy atmosphere.

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5- Dr. Woo

While on vacation, I had the chance of getting tattooed by the ultra talented Dr. Woo, who works at Shamrock Social Club in Hollywood. I’ve been following his instagram feed for the last couple of months and am a big fan of his work. He’s tattooed some bloggers I follow, celebrities, musicians and regular folk like myself. I’d been thinking of getting the word “Wanderlust” tattooed on me for quite some time now and thought he was the perfect guy to do it! Love the script that he did. For those who don’t know what wanderlust means, it’s “A strong desire to travel”. Seemed fitting!

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There were tons of other fantastic things on this trip – daily Urth Caffé stops, Café Gratitude, bike rides, my entire birthday extravaganza, Micheal Jackson slot machines in Vegas, Universal Studios, surfing, Encinitas, etc. Can’t wait for the second part of our adventure in July!!

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New York style #DailyOutfit

I was lucky to have stellar weather during my trip to New York this weekend! For the occasion, I packed some light colorful clothes. I absolutely love my white denim pants that I bought last spring at Zara. They’re so versatile and don’t wrinkle! I also still can’t get enough of my Pamela Love x Nine West boots. I always get so many compliments when I wear them. While I was in NYC this weekend, I actually got to peek at a new collaboration Miss Pamela Love is doing with VEDA for next fall. They made some stunning biker jackets! Keep an eye out for them!

Here are my two New York spring looks with some new sparkles from Bing Bang NYC, Verameat, Lionette & Biko Jewellery.

photo 18Zara white denim pants

H&M denim jacket (get it here)

H&M leopard belt 

H&M jersey top with sewn-in turn-ups (get it here)

Biko Third Eye Necklace Neon (get it here)

Biko black chainmaille bracelet (get it here)

Bing Bang Wanderlust cuff (get it here)

Lionette the JOPLIN bracelet (check the site for more info)

Pamela Love x Nine West brick moto booties 

photo 19Zara Guipure Lace Top (get it here)

H&M mint green skinnies (similar ones here)

H&M leopard belt 

Bing Bang Wanderlust cuff (get it here)

Bing Bang Shard Ring (get it here)

Biko Rena Ring Necklace (get it here)

Biko green chainmaille bracelet (get it here)

Verameat mystery hugs ring (get it here)

Verameat vampire crown ring (get it here)

Pamela Love x Nine West brick moto booties 

Sunny New York

This weekend I had the opportunity to spend a few days in New York City in between work trips. I couldn’t have gotten better weather for the weekend! I love going to New York all year round because I really feel that the city has something to offer every season!

I started off my trip by finally meeting the two lovely ladies of Lionette. Noa and Vanessa were real sweethearts. They showed me around their office, gave me a preview of some upcoming projects and also took me to eat some delicious thai food (thanks ladies! yum!). I’ve rarely met such driven young women who are focused and know exactly what they want and how to run a business. It’s no wonder their line has been doing so well all over the world! Their creations have already been on the covers of countless magazines and have been worn by celebrities and popular bloggers around the US. If you haven’t already, make sure you take a few minutes to check out their lovely designs, I guarantee you will fall in love with them!

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As most people who travel to New York, I love trying out new restaurants every time I go. Since I was staying in the West Village this time, I had the opportunity to try out some great little cafés, restaurants and new bars. My favorite place for brunch this weekend was a little Belgian restaurant called Petite Abeille. A random fact about me, my name in Greek means little honey bee, which is English for Petite Abeille 🙂 When I worked as a camp counselor, I had picked “bee/abeille” as my camp name. For several years, a received a lot of bee “swag” from the kids at the camp and also from fellow co-workers. Getting back to the café though, my friend Loulou and I tried their tartines, which is a traditional Belgian brunch item. They were delicious! They basically puréed some veggies, spread it on a toast with butter and served it with a side salad. Yummy!

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I spent a lot of  time this past weekend walking and exploring the West Village and also spent an afternoon in Williamsburg walking around Bedford Street and on the waterfront. There was a great outdoor food market taking place right by the waterfront on Saturday afternoon featuring lot’s of local vendors plus tons of organic and vegetarian food. I’m not quite sure how often the mini market happens, but it’s definitely worth checking out. The waterfront is also looking lovely now that the renovations are almost done.

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Since I was in the neighbourhood, I had to stop by the Verameat store. Though I wasn’t able to catch Vera herself, her lovely store assistant Elizabeth helped me pick out some new Verameat friends including two new rings: mystery hugs & vampire crown. I also bought my boyfriend a two headed t-rex necklace that I will probably also borrow once in a while 😉

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After a great afternoon spent in Williamsburg, it was back to Manhattan to see one of the artists I used to work with while I was working at Indica Records: Kim Churchill. He was playing the legendary Town Hall theater right around Times Square. I’m so proud of how far Kim has come along since I first started working with him over three years ago. His career is in full bloom and I have no doubt that he will become very successful! If ever you’re in the mood for some great folk-pop, like a guy who can shred on acoustic guitar and a one-man band, check him out:

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I spent my last day in New York going for an amazing 8k run on the Hudson River all the way to Battery Park. It was so nice to see all the trees in bloom. Loulou was a great running partner. We also spent time on the rooftop of the building where we were staying, what a view! New York City is definitely one of the prettiest cities out there!

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On my last night, I attended the first taping of a brand new web-based up and coming late night show put on but a bunch of young media professionals. Appropriately called Late Night New York, this 1hr late show taped in front of a small live audience hopes to promote art, activism, music & culture. Their first guests were really interesting! Check them out on Facebook to see when the next taping will be taking place.

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A big thank you to my lifelong friend Loulou, who is always the best host. Growing up we did everything together and even tried to convince people we were sisters. We’ve been friends for 27 years now and I feel truly lucky to have her in my life!

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To see more pictures from my trip, you can check out my instagram feed: http://instagram.com/melsays

Thanks for the memories! Till next time New York!!

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