TRAVEL | Firelight Camps

I guess you could say I've been bit by the travel bug.  The more places I go the more places I want to see.  Some of those places are across the world and some are only a few hours from home.  Which led me to Firelight Camps.

Last August my wish to go 'glamping' came true when my boyfriend and I took a weekend trip up to Ithaca, NY and stayed at this stylish and elevated campground.  

Situated in the Finger Lakes region of New York State and a 4-hour drive from Manhattan, Firelight Camp's backyard is filled with hiking trails, waterfalls, Ithaca's iconic gorges and award-winning wineries making it the perfect retreat for nature-lovers and wine enthusiasts like us.

We took our time driving up from the city and stopped at various Seneca Lake wineries along the way before arriving at Firelight.  Our favorite being Damiani Wine Cellars - a family-run vineyard atop a hill with stunning views of the region and lake.  We started with the Pinot Noir tasting flight and ended with a full glass to enjoy on their outside patio overlooking Seneca Lake - we knew we were off to a good start.

Upon arrival at Firelight, we checked in at desk reception located in the furnished lobby tent, and little did we know, we arrived just as the complimentary happy hour was beginning. (lucky for us!)

Every evening from 5-6pm a selection of local Finger Lake wines and local craft beers are available for 'glampers' to taste while relaxing in the lounge area.

There are books, board games, charging stations for your phones and even an old record player with many old albums to choose from - filling the tent with music.

So after we got our glasses of wine, we threw on our favorite vinyl record (The Eagles!) grabbed Uno cards and enjoyed our wine out by the campfire.

Once we were ready to check into our tent, we were given the quick tour of the property, starting with the newly renovated bath house which felt more like a luxurious hotel. With individual shower rooms and stalls, this bathhouse had everything we needed, including eco-friendly shampoo, conditioner, lotion and luxe bath towels. They even had hair dryers for the ladies! 

I loved getting ready here, it was super clean, comfortable and all felt very private.

We then walked to our private safari tent (no assembly required!) where we found our tent had an extremely comfortable queen sized bed situated on hardwood floors (yes, you heard me correctly), a desk for writing, a BALCONY! and hammock just outside.

TIP: Do bring lots of sweatshirts and layers as it does get quite chilly at night in the woods!

There is no working electricity in the tents, only warmly lit lanterns. (but don't worry, the lanterns do also have a phone charging function.)

There was something so calming and surreal staying in these tents purely surrounded by nature and its sounds - although, for a Manhattanite, I will admit, the quietness made falling asleep a bit difficult.

The next morning we woke up early ready to explore. The trail-head for Upper Buttermilk State Park is on the campground and it was something we were pretty pumped to see. So before heading out we stopped by the lobby tent for the complimentary continental breakfast and enjoyed some artisanal breads with jam, yogurt, fruit and deliciously brewed coffee before heading off on our adventure.

We knew there would be hiking and exploration involved in our trip, but really didn't think it would be as accessible and breathtaking as it was. The trails were all very well-marked and easy to navigate leading you along the Buttermilk Creek which has formed amazing gorges and cascading waters.

We also made sure to take a quick 10-minute drive over to Taughannock Falls, which is one of the highest waterfalls east of the Rocky Mountains.  It's a short, unchallenging hike that isn't all that interesting, but the end-result was magnificent. Proof that some of the best things in life really are free. 

On our way back the Summer sun was slowly setting and we could smell the fire embers in the air from the 'glampground'.  We stopped into the lobby tent for happy hour and got in a quick round of bocce before the sun set and headed off to dinner at the delicious John Thomas Steakhouse located on the property. 

Being surrounded by the beauty of nature, being able to truly disconnect, tackling hiking trails and unforeseen adventures and the sense of community at the campground really deepened the connection between my boyfriend and me.

It was an experience we were excited about going in, but didn't realize what unforgettable impressions it would leave on us going out.

I'm so happy to share this happy place with all of you. See my complete list of recommendations below and remember sometimes we don't have to look any further than our own backyards to experience what a beautiful country we live in.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” 
― Augustine of Hippo

**ALL IMAGES & OPINIONS MY OWN

HOTEL: Firelight Camps - open May-October for glamping || La Tourelle - spa/hotel on property for non-glampers!

RESTAURANTS/BREWERIES: John Thomas Steakhouse (on the property!) || Dolce Delight (for breakfast & lunch) || Ithaca Beer Company || Stonecat Cafe || 

WINERIES: Damiani Wine Cellar (gorgeous views of Seneca Lake) || Red Newt Wine Cellar & Bistro || Fox Run Vineyards || Ryan William Vineyard (Pinot Noir!) 

HIKING: Buttermilk Falls State Park || Taughannock Falls || Watkins Glen State Park 

TRAVEL | The North Branch Inn

"A good life is a collection of happy moments."  I recently came across this quote and it could not have resonated more with me than it did last weekend, which was chock-full of happy moments. Mostly because of this little gem I got to call home for two days nestled in the Western Catskills, The North Branch Inn (and my boyfriend of course). 

We took the 2-hour scenic drive up from Manhattan and I quickly found myself enchanted with the quaint farm towns we were passing through before arriving in North Branch, a tiny town where time has seemed to stand still. In a good way.

Walking through the front door of the inn felt like walking into my childhood home.  The innkeeper Tess was there to warmly greet us with open arms, offering to take our bags and get us comfortable in the restaurant & bar room for some fresh breakfast that was being served.

She even had sweet Valentine's Day treats perfectly packaged for all of the guests checking in over the weekend (which were handmade cookies and chocolates!) included with information on activities and local places to check out. 

The North Branch Inn prides itself on supporting local by sourcing all of their food and even alcohol and wine from New York State and people they know personally.  This made for a light and delicious help yourself breakfast spread consisting of local hard-boiled eggs, fresh greens, fruits and some of the best bread and jam I have ever had. 

Don't you just love the strung lights in the dining area? 

One of the biggest things we were drawn to was the in-house bowling alley dating back to the 1920's set in the back of the inn.  There are two set-your-own pins bowling lanes complete with movie theater chairs and projection screen on the side so you can relax and catch an old film after bowling a few rounds.

Upon arrival we bowled a few frames before checking into our room, which was one of five in the Main House built in 1898.

After a quick nap, we popped open the complimentary bottle of local spiked apple cider left in the room for us before wandering across the street to the newly opened Library House. 

The Library House just opened in January, has four large rooms and consists of a common sitting area complete with a wood burning stove (which I fell in love with and MUST HAVE when I purchase a home), puzzles, books and cozy blankets for some warmth.

Perhaps the thing I loved most when it came to the design and feel of these rooms was the perfect mix of old and new. The original architectural elements of the homes' rich past seemed to almost be untouched or just lightly restored.  These historic details paired with the more modern wall colors, luxurious amenities and mid-century furniture created a stunningly timeless yet contemporary vibe. 

Not to mention that afternoon sun coming through the large windows.... adding the most perfect light and warmth.  We could have stayed in there forever reading, playing backgammon and keeping the fire going.

Although we found ourselves enduring one of the coldest weekends of the year with below zero temps, we managed to bundle up and explore the neighboring towns; discovering local antique shops, covered bridges, breweries and our favorite, the Prohibition Distillery

Located in historic Roscoe, New York, the Prohibition Distillery is set in a 1929 fire station and former VFW hall where they produce award-winning vodka, gin and whiskey.  We stopped in their tasting room and we were able to get a private tour of the distillery from the owner himself.  We tasted each one and ended up taking home 5 bottles! (for family and friends of course)

You can see the passion they put into the product, down to the detail of the bottles which are pieces of art in themselves. The glass bottles are etched with a poppy on the back as a nod to World War I and is a powerful image worn on the lapel throughout the world as a symbol of remembrance of soldiers who have died during wartime. You can find it on every bottle as a toast to the memory of fallen friends.  So much history and meaning behind everything they do here.  This place is definitely worth the trip. 

Sometimes I like to imagine owning my own little cottage in the country, a place to escape from all of the hustle & bustle of NYC on weekends, but for now, it's places like the North Branch Inn and the Prohibition Distillery that make me so grateful and happy for this beautiful country we live in.  

I hope you get out and explore areas near you that you may not even know exist.  And if you find yourself in the Catskills, be sure to stop in and say hi to Tess and grab a glass of New York wine at the North Branch Inn, you won't be disappointed.

** ALL IMAGES AND OPINIONS MY OWN

DESIGN | Artifact Uprising Photography Books

Have you ever been so enamored with a product that you just want to tell everyone you know about it? Well that is exactly how I feel about Artifact Uprising - a website where you can create tangible premium photo books and art prints directly from your iPhone.

Artifact Uprising has been wowing me with their products since I discovered them on Instagram about a year ago (they are a MUST follow).  I was immediately drawn to their aesthetic and unique images capturing the world, and this was before I even purchased my first product. 

 I love to take photos (as I mentioned in my earlier post about ways to display your travel photos) because I believe that apart from memories, photos are the next best thing for reliving moments big or small  As a society, sharing every part of our lives through photography has become mainstream, but what happens when social media dies out or our phones crash and you lose all of it? Then what?! Because of that fear I have vowed to create memory books capturing every year, and I'm pretty sure I will make them all on Artifact Uprising. 

How cute are these little pocket sized books above?  They are formatted specifically for Instagrams, which doesn't distort the size and therefore optimizes the quality. I made the book below as a gift capturing a year of photos. I can picture having an entire bookshelf full of these little guys for family and friends to look through.

I've also turned a travel photos from my trip to Switzerland into one of their {Signature} Prints

Press printed onto ultra thick matte eggshell paper, these prints shine alone or framed.

There are also endless possibilities for incorporating their Square Prints into your home and life. You can print these directly from your phone through the Artifact Uprising app which is just so super convenient. I really want to use these for gift wrapping this holiday season as a replacement to gift tags, choosing a photo from a memory I have shared with the recipient. 

Or you can build a gallery wall of prints, which can also be used for events like first birthday parties and bridal showers. 

I've been telling my recently engaged friends about their new and totally amazing Layflat Photo Album because I think this is a beautiful idea for a wedding album or guest book.

You can choose from three different sizes, two different paper options and 11 different cover fabric colors (my favorite being Pacific Blue) with your title foil printed. 

Now this is the one I'm saving for. 

There's plenty of time left in the Summer to create memories and snap some photos - and with a little help from our friends at Artifact Uprising - now there is no excuse to turn these memories into pieces of art. 

**This post is not sponsored by Artifact Uprising- all thoughts and opinions are my own. Image sources: Artifact Uprising and my own. 

DESIGN | Ways to Display Travel Photos

Anyone that is close to me (or follows me on Instagram) knows that I love to take pictures. The lens forces me to look at things through different eyes and I'm prone to trying to capture every moment, especially when I'm traveling. As much as I love digital photography, I have to admit, I do miss film cameras and that feeling of excitement you would get when picking up your prints. I'm always looking for creative tangible ways to capture all of my travel photos, and I have even started making photo books for each trip through the winsome website Artifact UprisingBut here we are going to take a look at ways to display your travel photographs on your walls and around your home. 

Images my own

More often than not, people hang artwork in their homes way higher than what is considered "gallery height", which is roughly the average human eye level or 57 inches from the floor to the center of the art. To avoid hauling out your measuring tape and level, just take it to the floor. For a unique statement, try layering different sized larger frames and placing them on your floor in an entryway or next to your bed.. I'm pretty much obsessed with this idea.

Images from left to right: Pinterest ||  Pinterest  ||  April and May

I've recently started shooting a lot in black and white, especially at the beach or when taking portraits. There is something timeless and artistic about this form that I'm really drawn to.  I like this idea of placing your black and white prints in subtle gold  frames then grouping them together to create a monochromatic gallery wall.  Certain frames can often distract or compete with the actual photograph or artwork, but this look does just the opposite, it complements. 

Images from left to right: Pottery Barn || Domaine Home || Pinterest

I started exploring different mediums for printing photographs, and and my first attempt at something out of the ordinary was having a photo from my Costa Rican vacation printed onto a sheet of metal (as seen below) that I ordered from Pixuru. This led me to discover other non-traditional ways, including wallpaper! This is a pretty out-there idea, getting your photo blown up into wallpaper, but that makes me like it even more. If you're too nervous to take it that far, try poster-size and add some typography to it for fun. High quality websites like Pixuru and Artifact Uprising offer easy and beautiful ways to turn your photos into canvases, books and even wooden prints. 

Images from top middle to left: Image my own || Poppy Talk || Artifact Uprising ||  Etsy

Maybe I love taking photographs so much because I am a pretty nostalgic person. I often find myself looking through old photo albums just to conjure up the memories I have created with loved ones, taking myself back to that exact moment and remembering the finer details. I hope to pass along my travels and memories to my kids one day through creating beautiful art and sharing the stories with them.  That's what photography really means to me. 

I'd love to hear how you take your memories and turn them into art.