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Fabulous Finds and my LA Travel Photos

A collection of photos I took yesterday while I completed Walk #4 from the book Walking L.A.

cactusi in Los Angeles

+ Cactus. That picture was taken on Ocean Avenue in Venice Beach

meyer lemon tree

+ Meyer Lemon Tree that sits in front of a modern house in a canal

canoe on howland canal

+ Canoe on the Howland Canal, Venice Beach

tumbleweed and dandelion

+ The front of Tumbleweed & Dandelion Store on Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice Beach

coffee bowls at Le pain quotidien

+ The adorable coffee bowls that I bought (the ones at the right) while I had breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien on Santa Monica Blvd. I opted for the medium sizes. Praize your favorite several locations of Le Pain Quotidien here.


Walking L.A. is the recap of my Saturday

walking L.A. by Erin Mahoney Harris

I had a great day in Santa Monica and Venice Beach. The weather is still marvelous. I am amazed to see a blue sky with absolutely no cloud. It rarely happens in Montreal.

I saw stunning modern architecture houses on the border of the Venice Beach canals. Architecture styles from traditional to revival to modern coexist next to small cottages. We filmed a lot as we did the walk tour. I will post the video once we edited it. I will do that after the vacation.

In the meantime, I am telling you the highlights of my day in a short video. Thanks for watching.

I will provide you with the details once I am back in Montreal.

+ Walking L. A by Erin Mahoney Harris, $12.21 USD


My Arrival in Los Angeles

A quick note on what is happening on my trip. This is a mix-match of ideas.

warm welcome

First, I got a warm welcome by the Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica with a nice tray and a card. This is one of the advantages of staying often at the same hotel chain and be a member of their rewards plan. Thank you guys.

A Reward for Being Green

We drive a Hybrid car; we rented a Toyota Prius with GPS because a car is a must in Los Angeles. Everything is spread across a series of towns.

A few participating Fairmont hotels give a complimentary parking if you drive a hybrid car. When staying, at the Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica, this translates in $30 a day savings.

I wish to point out that Fairmont Hotels is on Twitter. They are listening and answering back to what we are saying. I applauded a brand that engages in a true conversation. I thought the free parking for hybrids was only a green living initiative good in California. They told me about the other cities.

My first Video of 2009

You can check a little video I did as we picked up the car at the airport. There were a lot of noise and workers around which distracted me. It proves that a micro for my digital video camera is a must. Talk to you soon.


Here we go again

santa monica beach

I am writing this post on the plane. We are flying to Los Angeles for a few days of vacation. This reminds me of the 2-month getaway weekends my husband and I did last year since Los Angeles was her first destination.

We will also get together with a couple friends and family members who live in Los Angeles. For the few days, my posts will be about where we go and what we do. I may do some videos but I make no promises.

As Montreal is experiencing extreme cold weather until next Sunday or Monday, I appreciate even more being under the Californian sun.


Get Inspired by Glamping for Your Next Outdoor Party

It feels strange to talk about a summer outdoor party in a middle of a cold winter day – it’s -15C here – but I could not pass on this story.


A travel trend is luxury camping with five star accommodations. You sleep in a comfortable bed set in a 10-feet tent equipped with furniture. You eat gourmet food prepared by chefs sitting at the resort restaurants. At night, you dine with fine wines. It is the next frontier of eco-chic travel. Behind all the glam of these resorts, I saw an opportunity for an amazing party theme.

Glamping is not a new idea. The upper class has been traveling in style with their furniture for centuries. In fact, it reminded me of the first season of the Adventures of Young Indiana Jones when Indy and his parents went to an African safari.

How Can You Make this Idea Yours?

You can make your own tents and use them as guests room at the cottage for a big family reunion. Imagine this setting for a destination wedding that you set in the countryside instead of an Island.

Tents are not just to sleep. Clayoquot Wilderness Resort designed 2 lounge tents: a game tent, and a library tent to entertain you during your stay. They reproduced the Gentlemen’s Clubs of the past. It reminds me of the Library of the Gold Floor at The Copley hotel in Boston.

lounge tent at clayoquot wilderness resort

You can design a fun version for a kid and even a teen birthday party in your backyard. Plan the game tent to suit the theme of your party.

For safety reasons, I suggest you rely on battery-operated candles.

About Clayoquot Wilderness Resort

You can see that emulating the ways fortunate people spent their summers roughing it one hundred years ago was the heart of the concept of John and Adele Caton for their wilderness destination resort.

If you are thinking of staying at this premier eco-safari destination, Clayoquot Wilderness Resort specifies on their Web site that the months of May and September are perfect for couples. They advertise the summer months as better suit high-energy family gatherings.

And since you get complimentary wireless Internet access for personal portables, you can share with us your wonderful adventures.

+ Photos: Clayoquot Wilderness Resort in Tofino, British Columbia – rate this resort
+ Via Liberty Post and Apartment Therapy


My 2008 Posts in Review: August

August brought a unique sense of style and magic.

orla kiely's ravel bag collection :: alice in wonderland birthday party

+ You can resist the travel bag collection by Orla Kiely. You probably feel like a start checking in at your hotel.

+ Staying in the fantasy world is these stunning pictures of a little girl’s Alice in Wonderland birthday party taken by photographer Jessica Claire. I suggested accessories to create your own Alice in Wonderland’s garden party for kids.

wasara disposable tableware :: modern family house designed for entertaining

+ The Japanese disposable tableware Wasara is my most refined eco-friendly find of 2008. Many readers were impressed by the design. So far, three products have been market in Japan since the end of August. The rest of the collection is still at the coming soon stage. I hope Wasara will come to America next year.

+ I asked Can a family house be the ultimate entertaining house? Looking at the exquisite and clever design of the Club Clive house we have to answer yes.


My 2008 Posts in Review: February

I traveled a lot last February. I went to Toronto for the IDS show, Boston, Vancouver, New York and San Francisco.

how to select a centerpiece

+ I am proud of the good tips I gave on How to select your centerpieces

uncluttering your home :: meeting bea of La Tartine Gourmande :: Gold Floor at Copley Plaza

+ Last February, I wrote that I secretly dream of a clutter free home. Last fall, my husband and I removed the stuff we did not want or need anymore. It feels so great being in the house now.

+ I had the chance to have brunch with Béa of La Tartine Gourmande at Upstairs on the Square in Cambridge. You can watch a performance by a singing chorale from Harvard. If you did not read the good news, Béa gave birth to a cute little girl December 25.

+ I had the pleasure to stay at the Gold Floor of the Copley Plaza while we were in Boston. Fairmont Gold Supervisor Nicholas Apostolides gave us in the tour. Watch the videos to discover the well-stocked kitchen and the library room.


My 2008 Posts in Review: January

I will spotlight 3 or 4 posts that affectionate for every month. I selected them for what they mean to me. January 2008 marked the start of traveling every weekend for 2 to 4 days. It as exhausting but also a lot of fun. You will be surprised that I selected one post from my weekend getaways.

favorite posts of january 2008

+ The authentic taste of the Mexican food and the margarita at Taqueria Canonita were divine. Watch my reaction when I take the first sip of my margarita on The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian in Las Vegas.

+ The Egg candle holders by Michelle Mason were one of my best finds of 2008.

+ Igloofest 2008 was a success last year at the Quays of Montreal Old Port. Even if it was -25C outside in Montreal the night I went with a group of friends, we all enjoyed Dancing under the stars.

books from my best of  january 2008

+ Because I believe we should teach at a young age how fun it is to make your own food, I invite you to read again Ideas for Baking with Kids.


Asking Questions about Los Angeles

questions on places of At Home with Kim Vallee

I will visit again Los Angeles next January. Here are a couple of places I enjoyed when we went last year:

+ Breakfast at Toast Bakery Cafe in Los Angeles – get directions
+ Delightful sushi at Gonpachi in Beverly Hills – get directions

I want to say a big thank to the guys at Praized Media for setting the Questions application for At Home with Kim Vallee. Questions is a great add-on to Places.

Asking for your Help

I am looking for your insights in the best places to eat so I asked two questions on Places. If you know a good place in the LA area for breakfast or to eat lunch, please share it. We will rent a car so we can travel a little, if it is worthwhile.


citizenM hotels wins The European Hotel Design Award of the Year

I introduced this innovative Dutch hotel last spring. I definitively plan to stay there one day.

citizenM room and lobby

citizenM is an innovative, contemporary hotel for the cost conscious traveler. The first hotel is located at Amsterdam Airport. The second citizenM hotel is under construction already and will open shortly near Amsterdam’s World Trade Centre.

citizenM keeps accumulating awards. Last year, they won a Worldwide Hospitality Award for Best Innovative Hotel Concept. Philips fills the room with technological innovations as you can see in this video report by on YouTube.

About The European Hotel Design Award of the Year

Sleeper Magazine presented the award event on Thursday, 6 November 2008. The European Hotel Design Awards is the premier celebration of outstanding innovations in the hospitality industry and hotel design in Europe.

citizenM loacted at Amsterdam airport

Since I like their concept, I am happy to report that citizenM won the grand prize: The European Hotel Design Award of the Year. On top of that, citizenM also won the Innovation award, the Technology award, and the Graphic Design award.

Credit Crunch Special

citizenM is offering rooms for 69 euro per night, on every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, until the credit crisis ends. Keep that in mind of you travel during the weekend.

+ citizenM special packages


Jaime Haywood’s City Guide

target :: world market :: west elm

When we travel, it is best to know the places where the residents hang out. I asked Jaime of It’s A Jaime Thing to tell us about her favorites places in Chicago. She has been more than generous by sharing her number one places.

At Home with Kim Vallee (AHWKV): What are your favorite home decor shops?

Jaime: I’m a Target girl. Other favorites of mine are Crate & Barrel, Z Gallerie, West Elm, Pier 1 Imports, World Market, Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware and Hobby Lobby.

AHWKV: What stores do you go for housewares?

Jaime: If I had a million dollars, I’d say Williams Sonoma hands down.  I used to love Marshall Fields (a historical Chicago favorite) until Macy’s bought them out. Macy’s is great too though, I can’t complain.

AHWKV: As far as you know, what are the trendiest shops right now in Chicago?

Jaime: For beauty, I’d have to say Sonia Roselli Esthetique and Asha Salon & Spa. For unique gifts, The Afternoon in Oakbrook Mall.  If you’re in Chicago looking for clothes, we have the best shopping around!  Just take a walk down the Magnificent Mile on Michigan Avenue, but be sure to wear comfy shoes. You’ll be shopping all day.  It’s pure shopping heaven! One of my favorites is Water Tower Place.

There really are too many stores to name. My favorite malls, Oakbrook Center located in Oakbrook, IL and Woodfield Mall located in Schaumburg also have some of the trendiest shopping – if that’s what you’re looking for.  They’re actually well-known tourist attractions, believe it or not!

AHWKV: What are your favorite restaurants in Chicago? It is for the food, the decor, the ambiance, the service?

Jaime: I promise you, the absolute best restaurant in the Chicagoland area is J. Alexander’s in Oakbrook, IL. They serve off of an American menu, with mouth-watering tender juicy steaks and delicious seafood, however you can also get finger foods or a yummy burger there too. The wait staff and bartenders are friendly and always remember you. They give you the best service, even if you’ve been there only once before or never before. The atmosphere has a jazzy contemporary feel with warm dimmed lighting. You can dress up or dress down – everyone is welcome. They pour an excellent drink and their pricing, compared to many “high end” restaurants, is extremely affordable. Seriously, if you go there, you’ll want to move here just so you can eat there all of the time. I know – I sound like a commercial, right? We just love it, it’s our favorite place!

Other wonderful restaurants in the Chicagoland area include Rosebud Restaurant if you like Italian food, The Oven Grinder for their fabulous Chicago pizza pie, Bob Chinn’s 34th Street Fishery in Lisle, IL., if you’re a seafood fan like me, and the famous Portillo’s for Chicago-style hot dogs, beef and Italian sausage! Oh, see now I’m getting hungry!

AHWKV: Which restaurants in Chicago serve the best brunch?

Jaime: I adore La Pinta in LaGrange, IL – it’s a great tapas place. Enjoy “High Tea” at The Four Seasons Ritz Carlton in Chicago – it’s quite lovely!

My absolute favorite place for brunch though is Omega Restaurant in Downers Grove, IL., it’s been around for years, the pricing is super affordable, they are fast, the food is always good and hot and it’s just a classic around here! My family used to take me to Omega Restaurant when I was little for Mickey Mouse pancakes. I still order them! Keep in mind, if you’re staying downtown Chicago, the suburbs are only a very short train ride away – they’re easy and they run all day!

AHWKV: Where do you go on a girl’s night out?

Jaime: Well, in my early twenties, my girlfriends and I would often dance the night away at downtown clubs or even ones in the western suburbs. If you’re visiting Chicago and love the bar and nightclub scene, the intersection of Rush & Division is where it’s at.

My favorite high-end, high-style nightclub right now is Stone Lotus. Just go to have the experience of bottle service. Once. Warning, it’s expensive! Really expensive. Maybe not for Paris Hilton, but for the average girl it’s a little insane.

I really love John Barleycorn, it is also fabulously fun; but a tad bit more down to earth and a lot more affordable. If you’re looking for something a little different, head on over to The Red Head Piano Bar located downtown – so much fun! Of course Navy Pier is great too.

If you are visiting Chicago, it’s fun but drinks are expensive. It is completely normal to expect each drink to cost between $10 to $15 in the city. Once you hit the suburbs though, it goes down a little, around $7 to $10/drink, depending on where you go. Also keep in mind that if you’re driving expects to pay a lot for parking! You’re best to walk or take a cab. We have a million cabs here, no worries – you won’t have to walk too far in those high heels!

Now that my friends and I are getting older and many of us have kids (ok I don’t have kids yet – but hopefully sooner rather than later!), girls night is usually spent at each other’s homes, with good wine and good conversation! Though occasionally we still like to dance our butts off.

AHWKV: Which restaurant do you prefer for a romantic evening?

Jaime: For a romantic evening, the best places are of course, my favorite, J. Alexander’s in Oakbrook, The Signature Room and The Signature Lounge (offer gorgeous views of the city) at the 95th and 96th floors of the John Hancock building in Chicago, IL., Wildfire Restaurant in Oakbrook, IL and Rosebud Restaurant in Chicago. There are so many, those are just a few of my personal favorites.

AHWKV: What are the best places for a family dinner, possibly with young kids?

Jaime: As I mentioned before, Omega Restaurant in Downers Grove, IL is great. Buca Di Beppo is a fun family-style Italian restaurant. You can even request to sit in the kitchen! Another fun place for kids to eat is Gino’s East, for pizza. Great pizza and a fun atmosphere. I haven’t been there in a while, but you used to be able to draw on the walls – what kid doesn’t love to draw on walls?! Too much fun! Though double check that, I suppose things could have changed since then. I also think many of the restaurants at Navy Pier are wonderful!

If you’re planning on staying in the city, there are several kid-friendly places. Your best bet is to ask your hotel concierge and they’ll be able to direct you to the best one nearest you. Chicago is a pretty friendly place, people here are usually happy to help. Just watch where you’re walking, the drivers are crazy here!

Hope that makes you want to come visit my Sweet Home Chicago! You’ll surely find tons to do here if you do. From shopping and restaurants to museums, parks, zoos and the beach, you definitely won’t be bored.

Thanks so much for your interest in my blog, It’s A Jaime Thing. I really enjoyed answering the interview questions and I feel so honored you took the time to read! Have a lovely and inspiring day. Cheers!

1. Budget-happy rugs at Target – starts at $279.99 USD
2. Malika Silk Medallion Print Toss Pillows at World Market – price: $24.99 USD
3. manzanita candelabra + mini taper candles at West Elm – price;$99 USD