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Ontario Weekend Getaway? Visit Kingston for Art, Culture and Food

For this Ontario getaway, we turned to the artistic couple, Robert and Lisa Aucoin for some locals’ tips on how best to visit Kingston, Ontario.

Battery Bistro Visit Kingston

Located on the north shore of Loughborough Lake, Iron Art’s studio and workshop are about 20 minutes north of Kingston. The Aucoins are passionate about their location and the many benefits of living in Ontario’s lake country. Robert Aucoin is an artist to his core; please read this designer’s story and about “Iron Art” here. Discover his small leather craft (belts, napkin rings) and metal productions (buckles, pendants) here.

Why visit Kingston?

Culture and fun: Situated on Lake Ontario, Kingston is halfway between Montreal and Toronto. This beautiful city has Lake Ontario lapping at its doorstep, and it is home to Canada’s oldest degree-granting school – Queen’s University (established 1841). Also, known as the “Limestone City,” many of Kingston’s public buildings were constructed in the 19th century with locally quarried stone. Before Ottawa became Canada’s capital, Kingston held the honour as the seat of the Province of Canada, from 1841-44.

City Hall Visit Kingston

While you are in the area, there are plenty of visits to do including historical sites, local artisans, food and craft markets and art galleries. The city has tree-shaded public parks and lots of water activities for families to enjoy.

Music: From our dock in late July, we can enjoy the hot summer nights and hear the sounds of “The Canadian Guitar Festival” across Loughborough Lake. This year’s show runs July 28-30th. In late August, Kingston hosts the “Limestone City Blues Festival” four evenings of blues under the stars (August 24-27, 2017) – details here.Guitar Pick Belt Buckle Iron Art Designs

Design inspiration for one of the Iron Art metal buckles, the guitar pick, came from both those shows. Limestone City Blues Festival inspired the blue version of the guitar pick.

Hungry in Kingston

We are lucky as there are many great chefs in Kingston, it’s a great city for food lovers to visit.

The Kingston Public Market is the longest continually running market in Ontario. On Saturday mornings, in July and August, local chefs in demonstrate their top recipes to the gathered crowds. Afterwards, for a small fee (roughly $2) the audience can sample the food, while it lasts.

Market Square Visit Kingston

Just a drive 20 minutes north of Kingston plan to visit the Limestone Organic Creamery, a certified organic farm since 1998. They sell their milk along with several locally produced items, such as honey and cheese. As a bonus, the Creamery is only five minutes from our studio.

Where to Sleep?

Kingston has accommodation options for everyone.  There are charming B&B’s, beautiful hotels, and seasonal accommodations. Or, if you travel just outside of town you can stay in a tent and visit the hundreds of lakes and campgrounds surrounding Kingston. Here is a link.

“Must See” Attractions

There are so many it is hard to narrow it down!

Fort Henry guard Visit Kingston

These are only a few suggestions: Fort Henry, Kingston Penitentiary Tours, the Tett Centre, Agnes Etherington Gallery, Kingston Waterfront, Prince Edward County and Picton Beaches and Thousand Island Tours.

Here is a helpful tourism link.

Waterfront picture Visit Kingston

Image Credits:
Kingston Tourism: Battery Bistro, Kingston City Hall, Kingston Market, Fort Henry Guard, Waterfront
Iron Art: Handwoven metal chair and guitar pick

Visiting Canmore Project A Pop-Up is a Gallery of Canadian Designers this Summer

Bordered by the serrated granite spires of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, Canmore, Alberta is a beacon for artistic souls. It is also a town where it can be hard to find parking on a summer weekend. And, the number of mountain bikes might just outnumber the rabbits (ok maybe not).

Project A Pop-up Canmore

Jade Ansley is a metalsmith and one of those artistic souls, with a big idea for Canmore’s Main Street this summer.

“Project A is a curated pop-up gallery dedicated to promoting the work of emerging artists and makers. The gallery aims to create relationships between the public, other galleries, and artists, to build their careers.”

Ansley’s is naturally artistic, her mother is an interior designer, and her father is in construction. She says, “I have been an artist since I was a small child and started my first ‘business’ at age seven.”

This Canmore native studied jewellery design at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design (NBCCD). In 2012, Ansley began the 3-year NBCCD program and achieved a diploma in Jewellery and Metal Arts. A graduate studies program followed, dedicated to business within the arts.

“The graduate program was the course that got me into curating and business – I ran my first Project A pop-up in Fredericton (photo below)  as my thesis. It was funded by the government of New Brunswick (Heritage and Culture office), and featured 19 graduates and current students at NBCCD.”

Project A Pop-up Fredericton

Project A – Canmore is a larger undertaking. Ansley is assuming the rental risk of a vacant retail space on Canmore’s main drag. Her vision is to entice locals and summer tourists into the pop-up store to view (and buy) the work of 40+ emerging Canadian designers. These artistic productions include jewellery, clothing, leather goods, textiles, furniture, pottery, sculptures and paintings.

Project A Pop-up Canmore Construction

Project A Pop-up Canmore Construction

The bright and lofty space is perfect for the gallery concept that Ansley hopes to create for her impressive list of artists and anyone who ventures inside.

Coast-to-coast collection of emerging designers

Nu Ceramics – Fredericton, NB (pottery for your daily rituals)
The Spinner Weaver – Saint Johns, NB ( fashion and home decor)
Cassandra Elizabeth – Toronto, ON (women’s clothing)
Christina Pupo – Toronto, ON (furniture design)
Uppdoo – Toronto, ON (leather handbags)
Co Create Co. – Edmonton, AB (home décor you can’t live without)
AdrianMartinus – Calgary, AB (woodwork)
Kerry Langlois – Canmore, AB (painter)
Jennifer Wharton – Fort Simpson, NWT (ceramics)
And many more…

Project A Pop-up Artists

Project A Pop-up Canmore Artists

The Project A Pop-up opens its doors at 709 Main Street (Canmore) on June 1st and will run until approximately September 30th. Watch for special events and promotions all summer.

Where to Eat, Drink and Shop a Local’s Travel Tips for a Toronto Weekend

Christine VonBun is originally from Vienna, Austria, where she earned a degree in Fashion Design and a Certification as a Master-Craftsman in Handbag Design. Christine started this intense apprenticeship program at the age of 14. Her creative passion took her to South Africa to work with Cape Cobra one of the world’s top manufacturers of luxury, exotic-leather handbags.

For some years now, Toronto has been Christine VonBun’s home. She tells us that they enjoy the accessibility of Ontario’s wilderness canoeing the “HMS Edelweiss” in Algonquin Park. Read more about this creator of exotic leather handbags here.

Ontario lakes Toronto night skyline Wine Country Downtown Shopping #DiscoverON @OntarioTravel

When you are working on a Christine VonBun handbag who do you envision will be wearing it?

 

I design for women who appreciate something beautiful and who can recognise and understand the details inherent to fine craftsmanship, they value that something is made specifically for them, by hand, in Canada. My designs and leathers take into account that VonBun bags are intended to be worn for many years, through flash trends, even passed down to the next generation. I will always limit the number of bags so that the wearer can feel unique, a fashion leader, not a follower.

Lola Red Patent Leather Handbag @ChristineVonBun

If a customer just bought an ostrich leather handbag and asked you how they might spend a weekend in Toronto what would you recommend?

 

Coffee:

The Mad Bean is my favourite – run by a father and son team they make the best Americano in Toronto.

The Mad Bean
519 Eglinton Ave W
Toronto, Ontario M5N 1B1
Tel: 647-235-2456

TORONTO, ON_Harbourfront Canoe and Kayak Centre_SUP #DiscoverON @OntarioTravel Photograph by Goh Iromoto

Breakfast:

I love the quick, easy and informal Mars Diner, but there are so many places at in the Beaches it would be unfair to choose only one. After Breakfast take a stroll along the boardwalk.

Mars Beach Diner
1987 Queen Street East
Toronto, Ontario M4l 1J1
Tel: 416-690-6906

#DiscoverON @OntarioTravel

Lunch:

On a beautiful day, the roof patio of Hemingway’s in the heart of Yorkville is unbeatable. A great spot for people watching and their tasty lunch menu.

Hemingway’s
142 Cumberland St,
Toronto, Ontario M5R 1A8
Tel: 416-968-2828

Dinner:

Try one of the cultural pockets in the city. I love spending an evening in little Italy or on the Danforth (Greek Town) to walk around, check out the local delicatessen stores and find the perfect spot for dinner. I find Toronto is unique that way with the cultural, ethnic neighbourhoods.

Lake Ontario #DiscoverON @OntarioTravel

Shopping:

Queen Street West retail is a must. However,  go west of Bathurst Street to find all the independent stores.

Iconic Toronto – Don’t miss this!:

Summer or any season, you have to take the ferry to Toronto Island, not only will you get the best picture of the city line it is just a magical place. Insider tip – go to Ward Island and walk from there!

Toronto Night Skyline Ontario lakes Toronto night skyline Wine Country Downtown Shopping #DiscoverON @OntarioTravel

Where the local’s go to spot: 

Canoe cocktail lounge for the panoramic view of downtown and Lake Ontario.

Canoe Restaurant
66 Wellington St. W,
TD Bank Tower, 54th Floor
Toronto, Ontario, M5K 1H6
(416) 364-0054

Sleep here:

The Drake Hotel and make sure you enjoy a cocktail before you go to bed!

The Drake Hotel
1150 Queen Street West
Toronto,Ontario
Tel: 416-531-5042

Image credits: All Ontario photos provided by and published with the permission of Travel Ontario.

Country Weekend in Uxbridge Ontario with Nancy Newman Textiles

Nancy Newman lives in rural Ontario, near the town of Uxbridge, which she describes as a wonderful place to live. Removed from Toronto’s big city hassles Nancy enjoys a view of a farmer’s field from her workshop. Her studio is full of light with a vaulted ceiling and a wood burning stove takes the chill off during the winter – “A lovely space.”

Nancy Newman Textiles work in the studio

However, to the untrained eye, one might describe Nancy’s studio as chaotic (her word), cluttered with leather and fabric samples during the design phase of a vintage handbag. This seemingly messy environment is what allows Nancy to mix and match the traditional fabrics with the perfect leather and accessory combinations.

sewing-machine Nancy Newman Textiles work in the studio

Nancy practices slow, sustainable fashion.

nancy-newman-studio-shot-1

The mission behind Nancy Newman Textiles is to “Save the planet one purse at a time.” She is accomplishing this goal by mindfully using textiles that were destined for the landfill and by honouring and continuing old textile traditions. Nancy explains her choice is to use leather, and not ‘vegan leather’ in her handbags. “This is a conscious choice for me because once the leather finally ends up in the landfill, it will decompose in a matter of months, where the polyurethane will be there for over 100 years.”

Cross body handbag with cotton and leather

If a customer just purchased a vintage fabric handbag, and asked  how they might spend a weekend in rural Ontario what would you recommend:

“Uxbridge, Ontario has a vibrant arts community, and it is a place where you always meet someone you know when you are out.”

Go for coffee at Nexus a newer cafe in town, with excellent hot drinks and friendly owners.

Designer Bucket bag with a Vintage Bohemian Flair

Have breakfast at Scrambles connected to the Foxbridge Golf Club, this restaurant is a great place to get a home-cooked – simple breakfast at a terrific price.

The Tin Cup Caffe is the best place in town for lunch with their tasty soups, perfect coffees and the friendliest staff around.

For dinner, there are several choices, but my two favourites are the Urban Pantry, which has a more upscale menu and vibe, and Frankies Ristorante, a family-run gluten-free restaurant and bakery.

The Fly Cotton Shoulder Bag in Natural Cotton

Shopping in the downtown core is charming.  We have Blue Heron Books, voted one of Canada’s 10 best-loved bookstores by CBC. If you need a new outfit, Woods and Woods Clothing has served the community for 26-years with everyday fashions at reasonable prices.

Don’t miss this “iconic” spot in Ontario’s countryside: The Foster Memorial resembles the Taj Mahal it was built as a mausoleum by Thomas Foster for himself and his family. Concerts are held there frequently because the acoustics are amazing.

Where do the local’s go? The Second Wedge Brewery Co. serves their artisanal beer in a relaxed environment, with occasional live music.

Sleep here: There are several B&Bs in the Uxbridge area this is a good reference website.

Read more about sustainable fashion and how Nancy Newman is turning textile traditions into handbags.

Handbag tote mali mud cloth and leather @NancyNewmanTextiles

Local’s Tips on How to Spend a Weekend in Halifax

Our fashion accessory creator Katja Presnal is the founder of Skimbaco Lifestyle a brand that she initially launched in 2006 (her backstory is an interesting read). The Skimbaco ENJOY LIFE essential oil diffuser jewellery is a design collaboration with a Texas-based artist (view the full collection here).

Originally from Finland, Presnal lives an international life with her husband and three children, and they currently are living a “Skimbaco Life” in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Katja-and-gaby-in-bali @Skimbaco

Who better to ask than a lifestyle blogger for her top picks for a weekend in Halifax?

Coffee Time in Halifax:

Julien’s Patisserie Bakery & Café in the Hydrostone District is where I get our almond croissants almost every weekend. The historic Hydrostone District is not to be missed.

Julien’s Patisserie Bakery & Café
5517 Young Street
Halifax,Nova Scotia, B3K 1Z7
Canada
(902) 455-9717

In downtown Halifax, I like Pavia Cafe in the new public library. The library is my favourite architectural building here, and the top floor cafe offers views of the city. Added bonus: all of the free magazines to read while you sip your coffee.

Pavia Café
Halifax Central Library
5440 Spring Garden Road
Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3J 1E9
(902) 407-4008 ext.3

Fishermans Cove Nova Scotia #VisitNovaScotia @Skimbaco

Halifax Breakfast:

My hidden gem is Armview Restaurant & Lounge; they have a sinful Morning After Poutine, and I also recommend their lobster Eggs Benny with fresh local lobster.

The Armview Restaurant & Lounge
7156 Chebucto Road
Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3L 1N4

Lunchtime on the Coast:

Morris East has the best thin crust pizzas in Halifax with options like peach and goat cheese pizza, or their speciality: Lumberjack pizza with smoked bacon, maple-brushed sausage, caramelised onions and maple syrup drizzle.

Morris East
5212 Morris Street
Halifax Nova Scotia B3J 1B4
(902) 444-7687

Lobster Roll in Halifax Nova Scotia #VisitNovaScotia @Skimbaco

Dinner in Halifax:

Five Fishermen and McKelvies should be on anyone’s fine dining list for Halifax, but my off-the-path dining suggestion is Edna on Gottingen Street. I love their laid back atmosphere and fresh local food options.

Five Fishermen
1740 Argyle Street
Halifax NS B3J-2B6
(902) 422-4421

McKelvies
1680 Lower Water Street
Halifax, Nova Scotia  B3J 2Y3
(902) 421-6161

Edna Restaurant
2053 Gottingen Street
Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3K 3B2
(902) 431-5683

Halifax Shopping:

Don’t miss Biscuit General Store on Argyle Street for fashion and fun, and check out The Independent Mercantile Co. on Gottingen Street for home decor. The Hydrostone District also has several cute little shops.

Biscuit General Store
1661 Argyle Street
Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3J 2B5
(902) 425-5436

The Independent Mercantile Co.
2091 Gottingen Street
Halifax, NS B3K 3B2
(902) 425-8462

Don’t miss this! Iconic Nova Scotia experience:

Peggy’s Cove. I don’t know what it is, but this grand old lighthouse and the village has my heart.

Peggy's Cove Nova Scotia

Where the local’s go:

Point Pleasant Park in the south end of the Halifax peninsula is a historic 75-hectare wooded park with 39 km of easy walking trails. Go in the mornings to catch the sunrise at the beach or for afternoon walks. Dogs can run free in some parts of the park, and this is where city dog owners mingle while throwing the ball.

Images credits: All photos were provided by and published with the permission of Skimbaco

Travel Tips: How to Enjoy a Vancouver Weekend by KOTI Designs

Atelier creator Kaarina Talvila of KOTI Designs has lived in Ontario, Zimbabwe and Victoria, but there is no question Vancouver is her home. We all know that Vancouver is beautiful, but her description will make you want to move to this west coast metropolis.

A cyclist rides through Jericho Park #Vancouver @MyVancouver

“I absolutely love living in Vancouver and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Vancouver is a place with the perfect balance between big-city amenities and the outdoors. It’s a short five-minute walk to the beach from my house, and I have a forest at the end of the road, but I can also get right into the centre of the city in about half an hour. Inspiration comes easily when you live in a place where you’re surrounded by the serenity of nature, but also have access to top-notch museums, galleries and a vibrant craft community. And of course, there’s also a strong Asian influence in Vancouver which has definitely had an impact on my design sensibilities.”

Beach sunset friends #Vancouver @MyVancouver

Kaarina founded KOTI Designs in 2004. In the last five years, she has focused (full time) on her creative pursuit. The KOTI Designs silk evening bags are a reflection of this lady’s mathematical mind meeting her creative self. Read the background on KOTI Designs here.

Sunset silouettes people at beach #Vancouver @MyVancouver

Ask a local how they would spend the perfect Vancouver weekend?

Coffee at Nelson the Seagull in Gastown. This café has a small but excellent menu in a lovely old building with wooden floors, high ceilings and a bakery in the back.

Gastown Streets #Vancouver @MyVancouver

Lunch at La Taqueria, downtown on Hastings Street (right in the vicinity of two of my favourite fabric stores!). A tiny hole-in-the-wall place with a big selection of bite-sized pinche tacos. There is always a line-up, but it moves quickly.

Edible Canada under Granville bridge @EdibleCanada

Dinner at Edible Canada headquartered at Granville Island Public Market. This restaurant is where locals, visitors, professional chefs and passionate foodies congregate to experience the best in BC and Canadian cuisine. Edible Canada is a big promoter of innovative Canadian cuisine. All their food is locally sourced, and they have a great patio (for dinner or anytime).

Edible Canada Dining Room #CanadianFood @EdibleCanada

Edible Canada Food #CanadianFood @EdibleCanada

Iconic Vancouver – It’s almost a cliché now, but I think the Stanley Park seawall epitomises Vancouver. It provides views of all the disparate elements that make up the city. Stanley Park has views of the downtown skyline, the working port, the ocean, the forested mountains.

Vancouver, BC Canada #Vancouver @MyVancouver

Stay here – I’ve never stayed at the Granville Island Hotel, but I’ve always thought it would be the perfect place for visitors. It’s right in the city, but being on Granville Island, it’s surrounded by the waters of False Creek with all its marinas and small water taxis. As well, all the great restaurants, theatres and artists’ studios of Granville Island are right outside your door.

Don’t miss this insider experience – If you spend any time in Vancouver, you have to go hiking. Skip the Grouse Grind and instead, do the Sea to Summit hike on Howe Sound. It’s 7.5 km with a 900-metre elevation gain. When you reach the top, you can relax over dinner and a drink with a fabulous view. Afterwards, take the gondola down.

Image credits: Photos provided by and published with permission
Cover Photo:  Seaplane over Coal Harbour – Tourism Vancouver
Photo 1: A cyclist rides through Jericho Park – Tourism Vancouver
Photo 2: Beach sunset friends – Tourism Vancouver
Photo 3: Sunset silouettes people at beach – Tourism Vancouver
Photo 4: Gastown Streets – Tourism Vancouver
Photo 5: Edible Canada under Granville bridge – Edible Canada
Photo 6: Edible Canada Dining Room – Edible Canada
Photo 7: Edible Canada Food – Edible Canada
Photo 8: Vancouver, BC Canada – Tourism Vancouver

Smart Designer Shopping for the Uncomfortable Realities of Travel

Unfortunately, the glory days of travel are long gone; glamorous overland excursions, plush ship berths, expensive china and silver flatware remain legends of past voyages and dreamy novels. Although, you can still find handcrafted leather steamer trunks, smart cosmetic cases with shiny buckles and monogrammed hat boxes – in flea markets.

Travel Air #TravelTips @Atelier_boutiq

Today’s reality of airline limitations on baggage weight, size and quantity force you to pack wisely. Standing in the queue at airport security, balancing your laptop, spare change and shoes, is usually enough torture to ensure that you do not select more than the absolutely necessary items for your trip.

Mediterranean Boat #TravelTips @Atelier_boutiq

However, black suits and white shirts are boring.

Essential Poncho @ArtiganiMilanesi

At Atelier, we have travel solutions for your next voyage, accessories to brighten up your suitcase without adding weight or bulk. Here are some smart shopping ideas for your next out of town business meeting:

Essential Cashmere Cardigan this Italian tailored sweater will keep you warm on the plane or in the conference room. Available in multiple colours.

Essential Cardigan @ArtigianiMilanesi #cashmere

A stunning 100% silk scarf by Morija Designs, is easy to pack and will dress-up with any outfit.

Smart Designer Shopping Travel Silk Scarf

Eye-catching and comfortable to wear jewellery like the Collins Necklace or the Matter Series Ring in stainless steel will steal the show at your next client appointment.

Collins Necklace #Jewellery @Erinlaura #MadeinCanada

 

 

 

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