Sicily

Personally Sicily was not on my radar until a good friend, who has family roots there, proposed a trip. Upon some deeper research, I wondered why it was the first time this angelic Italian island had been in my travel consideration set.

Sitting on the map as the soccer ball of Italy’s boot, Sicily is an interesting cultural convergence. After the fall of the Roman Empire ruling often changed hands which led to a rich and diverse cultural, architectural and archeological landscape with influence from the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans and Spaniards. As such, it’s a magical cultural mashup unlike anywhere else in the world.

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Cherry Wood B&B

Anyone who knows me knows I like horses. And wine. And glamping. Now, combine all three of those together and you’ve got an undeniable winner.

Cherry Wood B&B is set just south of Yamika in the Zillah wine region. Owner Pepper, a long time cowgirl, has built the entire operation to be a place for her family to care for the land, each other and a place for people to come and feel free to be who they really are. Well if you can’t appreciate that, I’m not sure what you can!

But down to the nitty gritty details…

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Herboivore Botanicals

Based in the Pacific NW, Herbivore Botanicals was founded with the belief that what we put on our skin should be derived from 100% natural, non-toxic ingredients and highly effective. (Seems logical but I can tell you is NOT the industry norm, nor what most of us put on our skin daily!) With a degree in naturopathic medicine, Co-founder Julia Willis, decided to buy an at-home soap making kit when Co-founder Alex Kummerow was having trouble with his skin. Couple that take-life-by-the-horns attitude with a love for skincare and the rest is history!

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Woof Models

If you’ve checked out my instagram feed you know I’m a big fan of animals. Dogs especially… My dog, extra especially. Dog portraiture on the other hand… not my favorite. That’s why when I stumbled across Woof Models I was pleasantly surprised. After a deeper look, I was seriously impressed at not only the modern and fresh feel of the portraits but also founder and designer, Sum Leung’s ability to completely capture the character of each pooch. One of my favorite things about dogs is how they can each encompass such unique and individual personalities. One look at Sum’s portraits and you know exactly who each dog is!

Each design is completely custom. Fill out a short questionnaire and Sum will take it from there. The best part is that 10% of each portrait sale goes to support an animal rescue charity. So get ordering. I want to see more of these lovely portraits out in the world!

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Free Spirit Spheres

Nestled in the forest about 30km north of Parksville on Vancouver Island you will find Free Spirit Spheres. The mission is simple, to create a sustainable and harmonious way for us to use and reconnect with nature. The execution, livable spheres using the tree tops as their foundation, has been thoughtfully crafted and expertly mastered over the past 22 years.

The rope, which suspends the Spheres high above the forest floor, mimics a spider web and their spherical shape is model after a nutshell. Both these attributes give the Spheres amazing strength, with the proven ability to withstand the worst of any coastal storm. But more importantly they allow their guests to live among the treetops in rooms with no walls, corners or edges. It’s bio-mimicry at its finest.

Free Spirit Spheres takes glamping to new heights, literally. Not only does it give us the comforts we yearn for but also an ecological goal to preserve old growth forests with little-to-no human footprint. As if I needed another reason to get back up to BC but an eco-tree house seems like a pretty darn good one. The only problem is, there is only three for overnight occupancy. So get out that calendar and plan ahead!

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Pigeon Toe Ceramics

Based in Portland, Oregon Lisa Jones created Pigeon Toe, “with a vision to create uniquely beautiful objects that incorporate and celebrate the extensive history of handcrafts”. I was instantly won over. Pigeon Toe has taken the age-old art of hand-thrown ceramics, stripped it down and delivered a product that is familiar yet like nothing you’ve ever seen. This balance is no simple feat and each piece, be it tableware, lighting or a statement necklace delivers on this untouchable product design trait.

Thoughtfully designed Pigeon Toe walks the line of delicate and functional. May it be a kick of color on an interior glaze, wrapping handles with silicone rubber cord or the lack of glaze on the exterior of pieces, Pigeon Toe has done the unthinkable, making porcelain not only modern but also relevant again. I don’t know about you but I’m strategizing on how I can replace entire tableware collection not to mention a few votives and of course a statement necklace. Wish me luck!

For those of you in Portland you can check them out in the flesh at North of West. And don’t worry, for those of you not in the City of Roses, shop their e-com here.

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Willyum Beck’s Collages

I have always been a huge fan of mixed media. I love the juxtaposition of the materials and how each naturally plays off one another in surprising and interesting ways. Willyum Beck’s collages are striking examples of this. Not only are they a mix of physical materials they are a mix of cultural ideas that have an inherent and beautiful tension to them. These works are delivering an interesting take on the American Dream, flipping it on its head so that we question the meaning of the common imagery we are seeing; imagery we usually take for granted and don’t think about too much about. This exploration of meaning is what makes these pieces really sing. Check out a sampling of Willyum’s collages below. And if you’re interesting in purchasing, you’re in luck. Just jump over to his Etsy store. But hurry up, these are one-of-a kind!

Willyum is a cultural explorer who has a knack for finding and exasperating culture at its core. As an Art Director based in Portland, Oregon these collages are only one part of Willyum’s talent. Follow him on Tumblr, Twitter, IG and of course check out his site. Keeping us on our toes, Willyum’s always one step ahead and definitely a worth keeping an eye on.

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Baths in Bedrooms

If there is one thing that I like more than a big, deep, relaxing bath, it’s a big comfy, fluffy, white bed. Now, combine the two and you’ve found your way into this girl’s heart. Since the weather has been so dark and dreary I’ve found myself searching for these two comforts. Hopefully, one of these days, I will be able to make a bath-in-the-bedroom a reality for myself but until then, join me, by drooling over a few of my favorites sourced from the World Wide Web below. I can feel the inspired relaxation warming over me already.

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ICEHOTEL Jukkasjärvi

2015 marks ICEHOTEL Jukkasjäarvi‘s 25th anniversary. Being the first and original ice hotel they have a lot to celebrate; 25 years of offering one of the most unique lodging experiences money can buy, a hotel completely built of ice and snow. Each and every year plans are drawn up to create a new hotel, as last winter’s masterpiece melts away come spring. For this reason the owners are adamant that no hotel shall be the same and they’ve kept that promise for a quarter of a century. The 25th anniversary model is no exception to this rule, requiring over 1000 tons of natural ice, this year’s hotel erected into sixty rooms, an ice bar, an ice church and main hall, making it the largest ICEHOTEL yet.

One of my favorite things about ICEHOTEL is the creation of the Art Suites. Each November hundreds of artists from all over the world, and design disciplines, apply to design an Art Suite. No specific design background is required, nor is a background in working with snow and ice. The chosen designers are usually a mix between a few ICEHOTEL veterans and some completely new to the job. This mix of experience allows for new and fresh ideas to flourish without guardrails and is attributed to the success of the ICEHOTELS unique offering.  It is truly incredible what can be done with snow and ice and the outcome is unlike anything else in this world.

But sleeping in an Art Suite is only one part of the ICEHOTEL experience. Situated some 200km north of the Article Circle in Jukkasjäarvi, Sweden, with only 1000 permanent residents, ICEHOTEL’S activities ring true what you’d expect from a small Northern Swedish village. Guests are invited to experience the tranquil winter setting by snowshoeing, Nordic skiing, reindeer sleigh and even horseback. Learn about the Sami people, indigenous to the area, see the Northern Lights, or book an overnight excursion to a wilderness camp by dog sled team or snowmobile should you prefer. For those of you in awe of the mechanics that go into designing the place you can even partake in your own ice sculpting class.

ICEHOTEL can be booked by single or double night and they even have a hotel with “warm rooms”, aka a regular hotel room, including all the modern amenities should you need to escape the ice or combine your stay longer on either side of your ICEHOTEL experience.

This is surely on my bucket list and I will continue to dream of being a true ice princess, waking up in my very own Art Suite until the day comes that I can experience it in the flesh.

Enjoy some pictures below of my favorite Art Suites from this year’s hotel along with some images of ways to enjoy the great Scandinavian outdoors while you’re there. Pretty idyllic if I do say so myself. One one question remains, when can we book?!

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