Travel: Florida Vacation

This past weekend I made a quick trip to Florida and boy-oh-boy was it worth it! I was hesitant to spend the money on a flight (did anyone follow my decision making on Twitter?) since I was just in Florida last month but I am so glad I decided to go. Four days of sunshine, ocean swims, and shopping trips (not to mention meals cooked by my parents and nightly ice cream snacks), made me feel so spoiled. I’m so grateful I had the chance to go!

photos by me

Where would you go for a four day escape?


The Friday Five: Family Trees

I have been working on my family tree on and off for at least five years now. It’s nowhere near complete. It keeps growing as I meet more family members (which is always nice) who can provide more information about relatives. Sometime in the future I need to go to the small Italian villages where my parents were born to learn more about my family history. For now, I’m happy to fill in names and dates as I learn them. My family tree is in very rough form and I never have a paper that’s large enough to fit all the info so I keep taping on paper extensions…

my family tree: this is only my mother’s side…I have another paper roll for my father’s side.

Maybe one day I’ll work it out so that my family tree is as pretty as one of these…

Diamonds Family Tree by Martha Stewart

Family tree by Melinda Beck via Martha Stewart

Inspired Goodness

family tree, Martha Stewart

How about you? Have you ever worked on your family tree? Any tips?


Design: Review of King & Grove Tides South Beach

As I mentioned last week, during my two weeks in Florida, I made a quick trip down to Miami. South Beach to be more precise. While the beaches, the nightlife and the architecture were all selling points for me, one of the things that I was most excited about was staying at The Tides. As in The Tides! Perhaps you’re already familiar with this hotel because I featured it on my first ever post on White Cabana. The iconic hotel is also known for the interior design work by Kelly Wearstler. Yeah, her.

If you’ve not yet heard about The Tides, let me introduce you to it.

The Tides, one of the King & Grove group of hotels, is perfectly situated on Ocean Drive.

The Tides lobby

My friend Shannon and I were instantly impressed with the courteous service we received by all staff members. They treated us with a smile and did their best to make sure our stay was as perfect as it could possibly be. Check-in was a breeze and staff had answers to any question we asked. Over our two days at The Tides, we always felt extremely welcome.

Photos from around the hotel (L to R; T to B) – console and lighting by the elevators, numbered door, cream window shades, Miami news of the week, K & G paper and pencil set, artwork

Each hotel room is at least 550 sq feet. This basically translates to spacious, larger than normal suites. Our room had two double beds, two desk areas, a seating area, a walk-in closet, and a spacious bathroom. While the hotels on Ocean Drive are not directly on the beach (as opposed to where we stayed at Madeira Beach), all rooms have an ocean view. Complimentary wi-fi is also offered which made our stay that much more comfortable.

Photos from around the hotel – bathrobes, white linens, large furniture pieces, orchids, restaurant, outdoor dining area

In classic Kelly Wearstler style – big, bold, glitzy and glamorous elements are found throughout the hotel.The furnishings throughout the hotel are golden and pink with large hints of white. Linens are all white, of course. The number of mirrors in our room was impressive. There were two large full-length mirrors and another couple of large mirrors throughout the space (perfect for two ladies who like to admire their tans, hmm…). The bathroom was large, comfortable, and full of marble. Delightful!

Bathroom included white linens and toiletries

The outdoor pool area was beautiful although much smaller than I expected. The chaise lounges were a perfect place to relax after a hard day at the beach (hee hee). On Troy‘s recommendation, we ordered the guacamole and had it delivered to us poolside (yes, we indulged!). It was perfect (although the delivery charge did make us laugh).

Poolside at The Tides

Complimentary breakfast in the hotel lobby was a good way to begin the day. The basics – coffee, tea, pastries and apples – were served in a casual and inviting manner.

Breakfast at The Tides and a water station by the fitness centre

And, if you haven’t already noticed, a variety of patterns and textures were every where to be found!

Patterns at The Tides – poolside and in the lobby

While we definitely did enjoy our time at The Tides, this review would not be complete without a brief look at some of the less luxurious aspects of the hotel. One of the first things that my friend and I noticed in the bathroom was the toilet paper. Um. It was so un-luxurious. I’m talking the 1-ply variety. I would have expected at least 3 ply. Right? I know it may seem ridiculous to mention the toilet paper but it really struck us as being a bit odd. Second, while the shower stall in the bathroom looked gorgeous, it did not function very well. Each shower resulted in a pile of water on the floor outside the tub area. The shower head was good – it was the hinged shower door that was the culprit. Not a very big deal but a definite design flaw. Third, while the bathrobes were comfortable, they were not as plush as I have experienced elsewhere. They did look great hanging on the padded hangers though. Finally, there was a $2 per coffee charge for the in-room coffee station (Nespresso I believe). I was surprised by this as I’ve stayed in many hotels where the coffee and tea in-room is complimentary. The issues I mention here really aren’t make-or-break issues but if The Tides is trying to be the best of the best, well, I would encourage the hotel to consider these points.

And a word of caution – be sure to make use of the in-room safe while you’re staying at this and any other hotel. Unfortunately our credit cards were compromised during our stay which has inevitably left a sour taste in our mouths. An unfortunate ending to an otherwise very pleasant experience.

Photos by me.


The Friday Five: Kitchen Renovation (Almost the End)

Six months ago my parents began a renovation of their main floor kitchen, laundry room, and powder room. You may have read about the progress here and here. I’m happy to report that the kitchen is (almost) complete. Here are five views of their new space.

What’s left to do? Well, my parents are currently dealing with a kitchen table DIY and the hunt is back on for the perfect set of chairs. It’s almost the end!

Custom kitchen by Parada Kitchens. Photos by Brunida Kaso.


Travel: Miami

While my friend Shannon and I spent the majority of our vacation in Madeira Beach, we did take a quick trip to Miami. The drive from Madeira was easy minus the fact that once we got to Miami we spent an hour trying to find South Beach (um, yeah). The highways are so well-maintained (tolls everywhere!) and the drive across the Everglades was pretty cool even though we spotted no alligators and almost ran out of gas. Oops.

Once we arrived in South Beach we spent most of our time at the beach. It’s a much wider beach than in Madeira and the water is more clear. We loved the fact that our hotel offered chaise lounges and umbrellas for its guests. This definitely made our time at the beach that much more comfortable.

beach chairs before they get their blue cushions

Being a fan of architecture, I was excited to take photos of all the art deco buildings that South Beach is famous for. Unfortunately, we used up all the sunny time at the beach and when we did finally get to the sight-seeing portion of our two-day trip, we got rained on. I only managed to snap a couple of photos.

We did have lunch at the very art deco Jerry’s Famous Deli. The inside was awesome – and very red and gold. The light fixtures got my attention as did the menu. I didn’t have much energy to read through it all (it was vacation, remember?) so I settled for a BLT and lucky for me it was good.

at Jerry’s Famous Deli

The trip was much to brief so I’m definitely looking forward to going back on day in the future. Have you been to Miami? What are your favourite places to visit?

Photos by me.


Celebration: A Poem

If you’ve been following regularly then you know that I love singing the praises of my extra talented group of friends. I feel so lucky to be surrounded by generous, honest, intelligent and kind-hearted people. Yes, indeed! Last month for my birthday my friend Suparna wrote me a sweet little poem. I asked her permission to share it here.

Through meadows green, on stones so clean

Skips the birthday girl

A calm day down Forest Way

She pauses at the door with a curl.

Why so quiet? One cannot deny it

The elf that lives within

Generally sings with tones that ring

Clattering pots and cups of tin.

She says, “Hello?” and feels she must go

But stops when she senses the smell

Of freshly baked cake and all that would make

A girl enter without ringing the bell.

It was dark inside, enough to hide

A GREAT BIG elvin party

Who flipped on the lights and screamed with DELIGHT,

“HAPPY BIRTHDAY JORDANA GARBATI!”

While my birthday has passed, I just love re-reading this made-for-me poem. Thanks Suparna!

p.s. Not only can Suparna write and rhyme, but she also coaches a Quidditch team for her students in Singapore. She has yet to tell me exactly how she goes about this!


Event: My Floridian Vacation

Well, well, two weeks sure can fly by! How have you all been? Thanks to those of you who continued to visit the blog and who said hello on Twitter while I was away.

I had a most excellent vacation in Florida over the last two weeks – I soaked up plenty of sun (yes, I wore sunscreen), swam every day, did “some” shopping, and ate delicious meals. Today’s photos are a bit random but there you have it – it is Monday after a vacation after all!

My family has been a fan of Madeira Beach ever since I was 6 or 7 years old. I loved being there as a kid and I still love it after all these years. It’s one of the few places I can completely relax. It’s easy living and the people are nice. In addition, the Gulf of Mexico is gorgeous, the beach is well-maintained, and the sand is squeaky clean (yes, it actually squeaks!). My friend Shannon and I stayed at Ocean Sands – the best place in Madeira as far as I’m concerned (and not just because it’s white).

As with many beach town shops, the clothing is bright and bedazzled. I managed to find one white t-shirt at John’s Pass.

I wish I counted the YOLO sightings over the two weeks we were in Florida. Every other person seemed to have it emblazoned on their t-shirts.

We also saw some interesting signage in our travels…

At first we thought the sign (above) spelled “right” incorrectly. But then we realized that maybe the sign was supposed to say “straight”. Maybe. Either way, it amused us.

This isn’t how we spell pretzel in Canada.

Finally. Way to go Marshalls for this little touch in the dressing rooms.

I wish we noticed this sign (above) last year – we were pretty much attacked by seagulls as soon as we stepped foot on the beach with our ice cream cones. This year we knew better.

We had some fun with an underwater camera. And we definitely stayed within the limit.

Above: Will you be my girlfriend? Yes. No. Maybe. I guess the girlfriend said yes!

Below (same car): Cutie driving.

I’m not sure what they teach in driving school down south but I’m 100% sure it’s fully unsafe to sit on a lawn chair in the back of a pick-up truck.

Stay tuned for a review of our stay at the King & Grove Tides South Beach and some photos from Miami.