After leaving Vermont, we headed West and drove down toward Manhattan through Upstate New York. We’ve been to New York City several times but this was our first trip venturing out to see more of the State and I’ve got to say, Upstate is pretty damn beautiful. We drove down the Eastern edge of the State and stopped for the night at Lake George which was a beautiful area. The following day we continued South towards Hudson and eventually New York City. Exploring Upstate New York for the first time was definitely a treat and it’s an area of New York that has so much to offer.
Hampton Inn White River Junction – White River Junction, Vermont
104 Ballardvale Dr, White River Junction, VT 05001
After spending the day in Grafton and Woodstock, Vermont, I was trying to find us a place to stay that night nearby before driving North to Stowe the following day. And while hotels in Woodstock are really expensive, I found a good deal in nearby White River Junction, only about 20 minutes from Woodstock and right on the highway for easy access.
Close to the Highway – The hotel is literally 2 minutes from the highway which made it super quick and easy to get on and off the road when driving around Vermont.
Easy Access to Woodstock and Hanover – We spent the day in the Woodstock area in Vermont and went to dinner in Hanover, New Hampshire. Both towns are only 10-20 minutes away from the location of this hotel which made it super easy to explore the area.
Nice Updates and Decor – The hotel had modern decor and updates which made it comfortable for our stay.
Odd Check In – The lady checking us in made a huge deal about us booking through a third party (Hotels.com) which is odd considering that I almost always book my hotels through a third party and never have an issue. It just made the check in process odd and just unnecessarily hard.
Bad Breakfast – Nick stays at a Hampton Inn in Kent, Washington a lot for the work and the free breakfast is always really good. This Hampton however, the breakfast was terrible. The eggs looked like water, there were about two other food options and the fruit looked terrible.
NOTES TO KEEP IN MIND
Perfect for a one night stay but there isn’t much else here. For the location and only a one night stay, it worked for us. There isn’t much else in this area though so unless you’re using it like we did as just a base to sleep, you might want to look elsewhere.
A few years ago, we ventured to New England and I fell hard in love with that part of the world, especially Vermont. From then on, many people have heard about my fondness for Vermont and the beauty of the State. It’s often one of few “escape plans” I talk about when the world is a little too crazy and I often dream about moving to a little Vermont town, fixing up an old house and living a simpler life. So when it came time to pick where we’d go this year for my birthday in October, I knew a return trip to Vermont was the perfect spot as my birthday falls during their peak Autumn colors in New England and you haven’t seen Autumn color until you’ve seen it in Vermont. Truly there is something so spectacular about the color there that will keep you coming back for more.
On this trip to New England and Vermont we wanted to see some of our favorites from last time but also to explore more of the towns we didn’t make it to last time. This trip we started flying into Boston, rented a car and drove up through New Hampshire. We stayed the first night in Nashua, New Hampshire and then headed further North into Vermont stopping first in Grafton, a spot I had wanted to see last time and didn’t make it. Grafton truly is that picturesque little Vermont town and had me dreaming of ways to scheme up my escape there. Next, we drove an hour to Woodstock, a town we fell hard for on our last trip. Woodstock, Vermont is perhaps one of the most beautiful towns in the whole United States and while usually pretty busy, especially on a beautiful Fall day, the town is a must-see in this part of the state.
We stayed the night in White Junction and then the following day drove the backroads up North to Stowe, winding through Montpellier and Waterbury on the way. While a long drive to get all the way up to Stowe in Northern Vermont, the tiny town was just as magical as I had hoped. Following our couple days in Vermont we headed West and drove down through Burlington and Vergennes before crossing the border over to Upstate New York which I’ll have more posts on coming soon.
Our return trip to Vermont brought all the Autumn vibes I was hoping for and all the magic that I remembered from the first time too. Vermont in Autumn is a mystical experience; the colors are truly so magnificent they look like someone is painting the world right in front of you and experiencing it is a must-see on everyone’s travel list!
Courtyard by Marriott Nashua – Nashua, New Hampshire
2200 Southwood Dr, Nashua, NH 03063
When I was planning our recent return to New England for the Fall colors, we flew into Boston but instead of staying in the city, I wanted to get a little bit out of Boston the first night so we’d have less to drive North to Vermont the next day. Nashua was a good stopping point the first night for us, about an hour outside of Boston and then made our drive to Grafton and Woodstock in Vermont easier the following day too.
Easy Drive from Boston – We specifically wanted to get a little outside of Boston for our first night and this spot did provide a great option for that. A quick 50 minute drive from Boston’s Logan Airport and we were at the hotel.
Near Lots of Food Options – We grabbed Chipotle for dinner which was right down the road from the hotel but there were lots of options nearby which made it easy.
Smart TV with Netflix – This is becoming more common in hotels now but I still really value it. We were able to easily log into our Netflix account and watch stuff while eating Chipotle in bed… not super glamorous but wonderful all the same.
Old Building with Updates – The shell of the building seems like it’s from the 70’s and then they’ve come in and done design updates to make it more modern. The design updates were great, but it still just felt like a really old hotel, specially the weird ceiling and outdated bathrooms.
Very Loud – We heard our neighbors up until all hours of the night and you could hear every person that walked by out in the hallway.
Expensive for What You Get – We paid around $200 for this hotel night which in retrospect was way too much for what we got.
NOTES TO KEEP IN MIND
There are lots of hotels nearby, you might find a better one for a better deal. I’d personally look for a better deal in the Nashua area as there are lots of hotels nearby.
As a designer, I always appreciate great design and a beautiful invitation for a wedding or event always catches my attention. So when Basic Invite reached out to me to chat about their custom invitation selections online, I can honestly say I was blown away with their products. I’m really specific to what type of sponsored content I have here on LOM, so when a company reaches out, I only share items that I really think my readers will appreciate and be able to find useful. And I’ll tell you truthfully, if you’re in the market for any type of invitation, Basic Invite is the place to go!
I remember when we got married (9 years ago in 2 days!!) there weren’t as many options like this for invitations to order online. Our wedding had a vintage theme and I would have loved to browse the pages of vintage bridal shower invitations and beautiful wedding invites. Basic Invite is one of the few websites that allows customers almost unlimited color options with instant previews online. You can change the color of each element on a card, with over 180 different color options. The card can be exactly how you want it, down to the smallest detail. This is what sets the company apart from any other online stationery company. The site also allows customers the ability to order a printed sample of their invitation so they can see the card’s paper quality and how it will print before they have to place their final order. The ability to get a printed sample proof is vital to making sure the invitation looks and feels how you want it to before sending it out to all of your guests.
In addition to the invitations themselves, Basic Invite offers amazing options for envelopes too. Customers can choose from over 40 different envelope colors so that they can make their invitation stand out even before it is opened. All of the envelopes are peel and seal so the envelopes can be closed quickly and easily. And with over 900 wedding invitation sets available, you can get all the wedding stationery you need, like save the dates, wedding invitations, enclosure cards, wedding menus, wedding programs, and even matching thank you cards as part of wedding invitation set.
You can also utilize Basic Invite’s seal and send wedding invitations as an all-in-one wedding invitation with a tear-off RSVP postcard included! The Seal & Send is the newest collection and I’m sure brides are loving them. Currently, the company offers this new collection in over 30 designs including the ever-popular foil options, and as with their other products, they are also customizable. What’s special about the Seal & Sends is that guests’ addresses are printed on the front of each invitation so no envelope is necessary! All you have to do is share a link, collect guest addresses, and upload them onto your design. Once you receive your order all you have to do is add postage, fold your invites, and secure them with a sticker! So simple and easy.
Another thing that you can do all through Basic Invite is to utilize their wedding websites to help you plan your whole event. Their wedding websites are completely customizable, mobile friendly and super easy to use. You can instantly upload all of your wedding details, along with images, and a convenient map with directions for your guests. Choose from 180 custom colors and a design suite to match your wedding invitations so that everything matches and comes together.
Truthfully, there is so much involved in getting married that when you can make things easier on yourself, you should! Basic Invite offers such an impressive package of options for wedding and bridal shower invitations that the options are endless and the process easy!
The six states that make up the area of the United States called New England are an area of my home country that I always recommend to people when they ask where they should travel within the US. In truth, New England is perhaps my favorite part of the US and I’ve often fantasized about moving there, specifically Vermont, to a picturesque small town. After several trips to the region, at all different times of the year, I’m compiling a list today of some of my favorite small towns in the area, all beautiful, all unique. There is just something about the small towns of New England that are so different from what we have on the West Coast of the US and their charm will certainly take you over. You’ll want to fly into Boston or New York to explore this part of the country, rent a car and head to the best small towns in New England!
Perhaps the most beautiful town in the entire United States, Woodstock is straight out of a movie.
This tiny town in central Vermont is so picturesque that I found myself dreaming up a scheme to move there.
In the mountains in Northern Vermont, Stowe is a ski-town in the Winter and all around beautiful town the rest of the year.
Larger in size than most of the others on this list but still worthy, Manchester in Southern Vermont is lovely and offers a larger variety of stores and restaurants than most of these other towns.
Hanover, New Hampshire
Home to Dartmouth College, Hanover is quaint and lovely.
Famed for the historic Salem Witch Trials, this little town in Massachusetts is always worth a visit.
Go to Kennebunkport just for the lobster rolls… you can thank me later.
A beautiful brick town built on the water, Portland, Maine has an old world feel to it.
This charming little town way out on the Cape Cod peninsula in Massachusetts is full of little cottages, cute shops and upscale restaurants.
Newport, Rhode Island
One of my all time favorite US destinations, Newport is a gem among the rest. This beautiful town feels very European and set along the coast, the views are stunning.
I shared a few weeks back that I went dairy free in the beginning part of 2019 and without a doubt, it’s changed my life. My health is so much better when I stick to a dairy free diet and when I’m home in Portland, whether cooking at home or eating out, I’m able to stick to doing no dairy in my daily life. However, since going dairy free I’ve been on two major trips – the first to Europe in July about 3 months in to doing dairy free. The second was our recent trip to Vermont and New York earlier this month. And I will tell you, traveling dairy-free is hard.
I’m still learning how to be completely dairy-free in all honesty, but traveling makes it that much harder. I’ve always been a very non-picky eater. I like pretty everything and there are very few things I would stay away from, particularly when traveling, which has always made it pretty easy for me to eat while traveling. So these recent trips since going dairy-free have been completely different in that sense – no longer can we really eat anywhere, no longer can I really order several things on a menu. I have felt pretty lousy coming back from both of these last couple of trips in all honesty, because at some point I just sort of gave up and ate dairy, which in turn made me physically feel horrible. Unfortunately, this is my new reality and it will take some getting used to but I definitely have learned a few lessons in regards to going dairy-free while traveling and if, like me, you’ve had to give up an entire food group, these might help you as well to eat healthy while on the road and keep up your diet to feel the best you can.
Don’t Expect a Destination to Offer the Same Items You Can Get At Home
At home, I have found that my favorite milk alternatives for cooking and my coffee are rice milk and coconut milk. But when we travel, those plant based alternatives aren’t always widely available. I usually can count on Starbucks wherever we’re traveling to have coconut milk for my coffee but in smaller locations, you might not be able to get what you get at home. We’re really lucky in Portland that most of our restaurants can very easily cater to different diets and substitutions, but that’s not the case other places, even other places in the US so be prepared for that.
Figure out What Substitutes work for you
I’ve come to realize that what I might order or make at home, might not be available that way somewhere else so I’ve come up with other options and substitutions that I will still like. For example, if a coffee shop doesn’t have coconut milk, I’ve found they might have Oat Milk. I don’t like it as much, but it’s a good backup. For things like ice cream, especially when in Europe, they might not have a coconut milk based option like I get at home but most ice cream shops will have sorbet options and those usually don’t have dairy. Figure out backups to what you’d normally order and then go for those.
Bring Your Own Snacks
I honestly hate brining my own snacks when I travel. I hate packing them, they get all crushed in a bag and they are just extra that I hate bringing. But I’m slowly realizing that this will become a necessity for me from now on. Whether it’s a bag of dairy free popcorn or energy bars, having a few backups can be a really good thing.
Learn How Food is Cooked
One thing I’m learning in this process of eating dairy-free is that you have to have an idea of how food is cooked in order to actually be able to order properly in restaurants. For example if you don’t know that something is generally make with milk, you might order it and not even know there is a ton of milk in the item. I cook a lot and I am pretty good at making things from scratch so knowing how food is made has really helped me develop a sense of what to order and not to order.
When in Doubt, find Asian food.
One of the saving graces that I’m finding while traveling, when in doubt and you can’t find anywhere that looks like it will be dairy-free, find Asian food. Asian food in general doesn’t use very much dairy and in many “creamy” asian dishes in Thai cuisine say, it’s usually cooked with coconut milk. I actually find myself craving Asian food more now that I’m dairy-free, mostly because I can usually pretty much order anything on the menu there.
I’ve also found that for other types of cuisine, there are things that are easier to order. For example, at Italian restaurants, I usually go for a red sauce on pasta which usually doesn’t have dairy in it. At Mexican restaurants, I lean toward a tostada or taco salad without cheese or sour cream. It will take time, but you’ll figure out what works for you and what doesn’t!
A couple months back when I did an Instagram survey, I had several people comment that they would love to see more content here on Land of Marvels about our home renovation and today, I’m starting a new series for that specific purpose. As much as I love to travel, I love being at home and as an Interior Designer in my day job, design and renovation are also a very big part of my life.
If you’re not aware or don’t follow me on my personal Instagram (cmart1015), my husband Nick and I bought a 1925 Dutch Colonial house in SE Portland a year ago and we’ve been renovating it ever since. We’ve done a number of room renovations which I’ll get into in future posts, but I’m also going to start sharing a few other smaller DIY projects that we’ve had a lot of success with, starting with today’s post: painting my range hood stainless steel!
Ok so let’s back up a little bit and talk about our kitchen in this house. The kitchen was fine, but it was just a little dated: black speckled granite countertops and all white appliances. In August, we did a semi-renovation, changing out the countertops to a white Quartz, a new light fixture and new fixtures (stay tuned soon for the entire room reveal and makeover post!). We also recently updated the gas range and the dishwasher and installed stainless steel versions of both. We’ll eventually get to the refrigerator, but that’s a whole different story for another time. Above our beautiful new gas range (with 5 burners, that makes me so happy!!!) is a range hood that was installed already when we bought the house. It works great, has lights in it and the fan really does do a great job. I don’t use it all that often, but it completes that side of the kitchen so when it came to figuring out how to make it match the new stainless steel range, the white just wasn’t looking good.
I started doing some research online and found a few different products for painting old appliances stainless steel. I found some spray paint options and then I found the one I ended up going with: Liquid Stainless Steel. I bought mine on Amazon for $25 which is a far cry from shelling out hundreds of dollars on a new stainless steel range hood to match! So one day a couple weeks ago, I decided to give it a go and here are all the tips and information I gathered from my research and my process of painting my range hood stainless steel.
Materials and Tools Needed:
- Liquid Stainless Steel Package (includes 1 can of base coat paint and 1 can of top coat and 1 sponge/brush)
- Painter’s Tape
- Old towels or plastic dropcloth
- Stir Stick
- Paint Tray
Step 1 – Do a Deep Clean + Tape
The first thing you need to do regardless of which appliance you’re painting is clean it really really well! I started by laying out old towels (you could also use a plastic dropcloth) over my range to protect it from any paint splatter during the process. My range hood was filthy with grease and dirt from years of use and I used cleaning wipes to get all the dirt and grime off of it. Do a good job with this step to make sure the paint adheres correctly later.
Once it’s clean and dry, tape everything off with painter’s tape! This will make it go a lot faster later when you’re painting. I taped every edge of the range hood as well as the connecting cabinet edges. I used a thicker painter’s tape for the edges and a thinner one for the section where the buttons are that I didn’t paint.
Step 2 – Open up the Base Coat Paint Can and Stir Well
You’ll start with the base coat can of paint that comes in the package. Shake it really well before opening and then with your wooden stir stick, make sure you stir it really well too. I put a paint tray liner down over the old towels just to keep the can in and make sure no paint got on my countertops. There are actual metal particles in this paint so they get a little clumped up if you don’t stir it well. I also stirred it again really well before every subsequent paint coat.
Step 3 – Paint the First Coat
Once the paint is mixed and stirred, dip the brush that comes with the packaging in the paint can lightly. You don’t want a huge amount of the paint. And then with brush strokes side to side (you might want to go up and down depending on what type of appliance you’re painting), you paint from left to right in steady strips. The first coat is not going to totally cover everything and that’s ok. It will look stripey after the first coat and that’s how it should be. Just be sure to get every part of the appliance that’s visible with the first coat and make sure it looks even and the lines look straight.
Step 4 – Paint the Second Coat
The directions say to wait an hour between coats and I did that on the first few. Set a timer for 1 hour, let the first coat dry and then come back an hour later and do the second coat. Mix the paint again with your stir stick before you start the next coat, then dip your painted brush and do the same thing, except this time, go the opposite direction than you did on the first coat. If you started painting left to right, this time go right to left. I did a little bit more paint on the brush this time around versus the first coat just to fill in any of those areas that didn’t get enough on the first coat. You’ll start to notice it blending better on the second coat.
Also make sure that any spots that get a little clumpy, that you even them out and smooth them… you don’t want it to dry that way!
Step 5 – Paint the Third (or more) Coat
Same thing as before, let it dry an hour and then come back for the remaining coats, however many you might need. I did 4 on my range hood and that seemed to fill all the areas on the surface and visually, it looked great after 4 coats. You’ll want to determine how many coats your individual appliance needs and just take it one coat at a time until it looks good visually.
Step 6 – Paint the Topcoat
Lastly, once all the other coats are dry, you’ll want to paint the topcoat over all the other coats of paint. This will both protect it as well as give it a finished look. This coat does go on a little bit blue in tint but dries quickly to a clear topcoat. Let this coat sit for at least an hour before you take off all the tape but voila! You have a new stainless steel appliance to enjoy.
I will be raving about this product (not sponsored in any way!) for a long time to anyone who will listen. It totally transformed an okay vent hood into something that actually looks like it belongs where it is and it really does like like Stainless Steel. If I didn’t tell you that it was painted, you probably wouldn’t even know!
- Open a window – this stuff does get a pretty heavy smell after a while
- Use a Small Paintbrush for Hard-to-Reach areas – there were a couple spots on the top of my range hood that I couldn’t get to with the brush that came in the package so I used a very small paint brush for those areas. They aren’t visible areas so it didn’t really matter but having a small paintbrush on hand would be handy.
- Do this project on a day when you can be at home most of the day – I wish I had started earlier in the day honestly and instead started around Noon. Leaving it to dry an hour in between each coat, made for a long day at home. Be sure you can be home all day and do this project and don’t have anything else planned or if you need to be anywhere else.
- Buy it on Amazon – I’ve included a link below to buy the package of paints and brushes that I bought. It was super easy to not have to look all over for a place that sells this and Amazon delivered it the following day after I ordered it – super easy!
*Just a note to say that some of these links I’m linking on this post are Amazon Affiliate links. I want to always be transparent when I do include affiliate links as I hardly ever do. But this specific project, I ordered all these items myself on Amazon so I thought it would be easiest to link them here for you if you want to tackle the same project!
It’s been a while since I’ve had a #BloggingDesk post but the topic of this one has been on my mind a lot lately. I have recently been seeing, mostly on Instagram, a wave of bloggers I have followed for a long time putting down other bloggers, whether by name or in vague Instagram stories saying “this type of blogger shouldn’t share this type of information.” And honestly, I’m just kind of sick of that attitude in the blogging community. Here’s the thing, when blogging started, we all supported each other. We put buttons on each others pages, we commented for each other and messaged each other with questions. Over time that feeling has gone away, and it’s turned into a business, it’s turned into a competition and unfortunately, it’s turned into a negative space sometimes.
My attitude in life is always one of inclusivity. I whole heartedly believe that there is room for everyone and that a rising tide raises all boats. I’ve often had people tell me, especially as an entrepreneur and owning my own businesses that I need to do things different to beat out the competition. But, respectfully, I disagree. If I don’t get a project but someone I know does, I support them, I encourage them, I celebrate with them, particularly among other women. If a friend of mine does something amazing or gets something amazing, I try to lift the women in my life up, not tear them down. Same thing goes for blogging. I fully believe that when one of us bloggers succeeds, we all succeed. Just because someone is doing something different, just because a fashion blogger shares travel advice or someone shares something different than you expect, doesn’t mean we need to tear them down in front of thousands of followers.
The problem in my mind is this: once bloggers with large followings start doing this, everyone will start doing it. And once large groups of followers hear something from a blogger they like and follow, it starts to resonate and after a while, maybe they start sharing negative feedback to other bloggers too. I get sometimes calling someone out on something you don’t agree with, but publicly denouncing them to your thousands of followers on Instagram seems to go over the line for me personally. Let’s have a conversation without throwing people under the bus and telling them that what they’re doing is wrong.
I hope blogging can get back to the way it once was, when the support was measured in a community atmosphere and not one where large bloggers take it upon themselves to say how other people are doing it wrong. Because at the end of the day, it should be up to the readers to decide that privately and not have someone tearing them down on Instagram so publicly. We’re all just people – let’s support each other and lift each other up and the world will be a better place all around.
Life is expensive and sometimes, when all you see is everyone else galavanting around the world on vacation, it can get really discouraging. And look, I get it. I’ve got bills just like everyone else. Expenses can come out of the blue, an old house that has renovation costs, not to mention the costs of regular house upkeep. I hear you. That’s why today, I’m so excited for this post because I firmly believe that travel can work into your budget and no matter how much money you have to spend for a vacation, whether it be a long weekend or ten days, there is a destination for you that won’t break the bank. I’ve put together a few spots that I’ve personally been that will work on all sorts of budgets. So when money is tight and you only have a specified amount of money to spend on travel, here are some vacation ideas that you can actually afford!
Spain + Portugal
These two European countries are perfect if you still want to explore Europe but you want to do it cheaper than say France or Italy. Both countries offer amazing local foods and wine for way cheaper than their neighboring countries as well as easy, efficient and inexpensive ways to get around while you’re in the countries.
For an exotic destination in South East Asia, Cambodia is a vacation you won’t forget and it also won’t break the bank. The most expensive part will be getting there, but once you’re there, everything is crazy cheap. I’m talking like dinner for $10 for two people, maybe even less from street vendors. Even high end hotels are amazingly inexpensive in Cambodia and the sites to see there are incredible. Think Lara Croft tomb raider vibes while exploring the Angkor Wat temples in Siem Reap.
If you want that quintessential French trip but don’t want to pay the high prices in Paris (I mean Paris is amazing, but if price is an issue), head to Lyon. This large French city located in central France is lovely and so much cheaper than Paris in both lodging and food. Even train transport into and out of Lyon is really inexpensive and it’s close to so many amazing parts of France and other places in Europe, all while still feeling relatedly French.
American South West
If you live in the USA and don’t want to spend money on long haul flights abroad, the American South West is one of my favorite spots to go for a low cost experience. We’ve done trips to New Mexico and Arizona for crazy low prices and both states offer amazing experiences and landscapes. Some of my favorites are Santa Fe, New Mexico and places in Northern Arizona like Sedona and Antelope Canyon. Both location offer amazing experiences, many for free and lodging is fairly inexpensive in both states as well. You’ll also have some of the best Mexican food of your life while here… just saying.