What I need: Alife Design

From my experience, being based in Europe means the amount of travel you do increases tenfold.  It means you can cover quite a bit of territory when it comes to short visits and vacations and you are able to do so more often.  In one hour you can land in 50 different cities (an understatement and an exaggeration)- in reality, you would be in more than 50 cities.   The increase in travel certainly puts some extra strain on luggage- I am starting to see this first hand.  Zippers seem to be the first to go followed by warn luggage corners and then bent frames.  I guess what I am saying is that my Toronto luggage has seen better days.

I also look at a lot of luggage while waiting for my own.  I never understand why some people plastic wrap their entire suitcase, only to have it cut open after (what a waste).  Then there are those people who think by putting a ribbon on their suitcase, will help theirs stand out from all the other suitcases with ribbons.  I am not sure that this strategy works but maybe offers peace of mind to the owner.

I am not investing in new luggage yet- that is a whole other beast of a topic that I have no patience to sift through but I did find an adorable design company called Alife based in Seoul that makes great travel accessories.

What a great name right?- Alife Design– This is the only time where you can say something cheesy like, I need “Alife.”  I couldn’t resist.

Some of Alife’s items that I love:

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Photo Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6


Any favourite luggage brands out there with a bit of style and design?  Feel free to send me your tips as I embark on the task of “how to find better luggage and cute accessories” this summer.


The Hotel That Got Away

When I travel, hotel selection is just as important as where I am going to eat and the city I am visiting.  I like hotel design and even though I barely spend time in a room, I want to know that I get to come back to an interesting space to sleep.

Last year on my honeymoon, I covered a lot of hotel on my 17 day driving trip. One of the hotels that I was looking forward to staying at was Mama Shelter in Marseille, France.

Mama Shelter M5

Unfortunately due to a change in plans we re-routed our driving trip and ended up skipping Marseille all together.  This hotel would be my only design-crazy hotel on the list.

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I thought Mama Shelter Marseille would be fun to stay at and I was particularly looking forward to exploring its wacky, wonderful, and playful interior design by Phillipe Stark.  I chalked off Mama Shelter Marseille as the hotel that got away.

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The rest of our hotels were tame in design in comparison to Mama Shelter in order to reflect the environment of our drive through Provence and the Languedoc region. I could not bring myself to book a hotel that looked like a night club in the countryside, opting for spots were more rustic and charming instead.

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Photo Source: Mama Shelter Marseille

Today I received an email and learned that the Mama Shelter empire is expanding beyond Paris and Marseille.  It now includes two new cities: Istanbul (March 15th) and Lyon (March 20th).

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Photo Source: Mama Shelter Istanbul

How exciting!  I am secretly planning a trip to Istanbul this year. I don’t know when, I don’t know why- no wait, I know why- and I don’t know how, but sometime before 2013, I think Istanbul and I should have a rendez-vous of food, design and travel. Maybe I will consider revisiting my hotel that got away!

Have you been to Istanbul? Any travel recommendations or stories to share?



DriDri Gelato

Yup… more ice cream!

Well, let’s be politically correct here, this is gelato and it is from DriDri Gelato in London created by HBS grad, Adriano di Petrillo.  He uses gelato equipment from the 60s and 70s to make his high quality, “no artificial anything”, Italian gelato.


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Photo Source: Studio Ten and a Half

You can also watch a mini interview with Adriano here:


There are three locations in the city, if you happen to be heading that way.

The stunning identity/packaging + print is from Studio Ten and a Half.

I hope you have a great weekend. I have my second Copenhagen house guest visiting this weekend, so be sure to check back next week for two new “Date Night” restaurant posts.  We are heading to Mother for sourdough pizza and Gourmandiet By Night for steak.


Kapiti Ice Cream + Cheese

It’s almost ice cream season.  I can feel it.  Last weekend, one of the local ice cream chains in Copenhagen celebrated the (early) start to the season with free scoops on Saturday afternoon.  It is a bit too cold for me to warrant ice cream but it’s close.

Speaking of ice cream, here is a modern ice cream and cheese retailer in Auckland, NZ that I found.  Kapiti is a gourmet dairy producer in New Zealand, and last year, it launched an ice cream and cheese concept store under the funky boutique Hotel deBrett.

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I’ve visited my share of cheese and ice cream stores in and around Europe and none look like this.

I particularly liked how Kapiti and its designers went for a modern grocery store look, with neutral colours, industrial subway tiles, exposed brick and concrete.  This is more like an ice cream and cheese loft!   This is in contrast to something literal, you know, with ice cream cones on the walls or sky high shelves of cheese.  The barrels give it a cool wine bar vibe.  I also thought it was clever how they used milk bottles as lights in the store.

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Photo Source: 1-5


Date Night #6 Rakultur (Stockholm)

The good thing about date night is that it is portable. So when date night falls on a travel weekend, date night shifts from Copenhagen to a new city.

My husband and I dined at Rakultur, one of Stockholm’s best sushi restaurant (so said a friend of a friend (who is a chef in the city)).

This was my first and only sushi meal in Stockholm so I can’t comment on “bests” but it was serious sushi and up there in my all time sushi meals.

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Rakultur does not take reservations (I called ahead), and when we showed up we were faced with a 40 minute wait.  Our luck, two large parties just arrived before us. Fortunately 40 minutes turned into 15 when the waitress cleared two seats at the bar.  Perfect for us.

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The kitchen closes at 9:30 so we were informed if we wanted a chef’s table tasting menu, to hurry up and place the order.  I wasn’t starving so I ordered two rolls (a saute autumn mushroom roll and a Korean steak tartar and pear salad roll).  My husband decided on the small chef’s table tasting menu which included a roll that pays tribute to Momofuku in New York – the pork knuckle roll- in addition to several other artful rolls.

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On the menu, I noticed Rakultur even had a selection of sushi made from Scandinavian fish, which I thought was neat.  This is not a “California roll or spicy tuna” type sushi restaurant.  Here you get creative ingredient combinations and simple, clean, delicately presented sushi.  I appreciated the little added touches sprinkled on top of some of the rolls or the bottle of soy sauce with a paint brush to lightly dab and brush soy to your fish.

For some reason, while I was sitting at the chef’s table, I thought of the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi, if you’ve seen it.  The dining experience was not as formal as Jiro but there was some serious sushi design work and assemblage going on behind the glass separating us from the three chefs.

We left very full and very satisfied.  Highly recommended.

Restaurant Råkultur- Kungstensgatan 2 114 25 Stockholm

Telephone: 08-696 23 25


Stockholm 01 + Meet the Blogger

As I may have mentioned in a previous post, I spent last weekend in Stockholm attending Meet The Blogger– a conference where bloggers get together to meet and learn from other bloggers and talk about blogger things.  You might think I’m joking here, but it was really nice to be in a room with so many like minded people from in and around Europe.

Let’s get personal for a second:  I”ve been blogging since 2008.  Blogging is a creative outlet and a window into a person’s head.  I absolutely love sharing what I find, what I like, and where I travel.

While there is a virtual community around blogging, for the most part it is a rather solitary endeavour.  In reality, most of the people in my life do not blog.  I could probably count on one hand how many bloggers I know in person.

Attending Meet the Blogger in Stockholm turned my virtual community of bloggers into reality. I put faces to  “words,” “images,” and “recipes” of the blogs I read and I also got to meet a slew of new people.   It was a really cool experience (a first for me).

I took a lot of pictures over the weekend (too many to process all at once) so I will break them up into smaller, more digestible themes in future posts.

Here is a birds eye view of my 48 hour adventure.

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{The architecture in Stockholm was quite diverse and different to Copenhagen}  Next time I return, I want to go on an architecture tour to learn more about the time periods and design in which the buildings were constructed.

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{There are a lot of sweets in Stockholm- From candy, and chocolate covered things to cinnamon buns, you don’t have to walk very far to find sugar!!}

Stockholm MTBS and CPH6

{This is a city is cold- but beautiful in February!  Particularly with all the water running throughout the islands.  Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr}

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{These pictures were taken at the conference on Saturday- you’ll see the welcome screen, Will from Bright Bazaar and Toni and Thea from Sister Mag}

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{This was one of the washroom interiors in my hotel (Scandic Hotel Grand Central, which I thought was neat as well as a shot of some of the wall art on our floor}

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{Lots of awesome design stores to discover in Stockholm- you definitely need more than 48 hours to walk around and explore}

More to come on the design and the food but for now- it was a pleasure to meet: JoelixStylizimo, Kickcan & Conkers, Vosges Paris, IDA Interior Lifestyle, Bloesem, Sister Mag. ElceStockholm, Arianna Interiors, Swoon Worthy, Eclectic Trends, Haus Stylish, It’s a House, and Just Kirsten (so many others……)

Have a great weekend, whatever you are doing.

Oh yeah- I forgot to mention, if you aren’t following over on Countlan magazine– Issue 03 is well underway and due out in April!  I am very excited and happy to work with so many enthusiastic new contributors.

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