Archive | January, 2012

Abel Tasman, New Zealand : The Boot

29 Jan

Located between Nelson, NZ and Abel Tasman National Park, The Boot Bed & Breakfast is a page straight out of a fairy tale awaiting the arrival of its next royal guest: you!

Surrounded by lush greenery, you feel like you're in your very own Enchanted Forrest

Having both vacationed and lived in New Zealand, my husband and I are no strangers to New Zealand’s beauty. When we found out two fantastic friends planned to marry in Nelson we began looking for new and interesting destinations for our return trip. Following a trail of internet breadcrumbs I stumbled across the website for The Boot and was instantly charmed. The adorable fantasy setting was impossible to resist.

We booked our stay online; I was more than excited*! This one night of Fairy Tale magic was double the price of every other room we considered–something that required cajoling to convince my husband. We can assure you, though, that it was more than worth it.

The owner, Steve, was prompt with email responses and more than accommodating to any dietary restrictions. He even offered to put together a BBQ platter for us upon our arrival since their restaurant, The Jester House Cafe, would be closed.

Waking up to this made me never want to leave!

Upon our arrival, Steve personally lead us to The Boot where our night of fairy tale romance would begin. Disheveled and tired after day of kayaking in Abel Tasman, we were instantly rejuvinated by The Boot’s charm and attention to detail. Warm, enveloping wood tones; fresh flowers in every room; shoelaces wound up the outside of the boot; a lounger with plenty of reading materials in front of the fireplace; a spiral staircase leading to the sleeping quarters. And, best of all, no television and no internet. It truly is a fairy tale! This little Boot shaped cottage made us feel like enchanted characters from a children’s book, just waiting for the wildlife burst into song.

The Official Greeter of The Boot, New Zealand

We were welcomed with High Tea, a nice English Breakfast with coconut macaroons, on the patio. While enjoying this little treat, I was greeted by one of the local cats who just stopped in to make sure everything was up to par.

The rest of our evening was filled with romantic sounds of piano concertos via the provided CD’s and stereo, cleaning up in the dual-headed and large-enough-for-two shower, and relaxing by the outdoor fire pit curled up with a good book.

Perfect place to curl up with a book and relax the night away

Kiwi Style French Toast (prepared GlutenFree!) and a Big Kiwi Breakfast, so good there wasn't a single bite left!

The next morning, we awoke to the gentle sound of rain and decided to stay cozied-up in the most comfortable bed we’d experienced in weeks. We slept the morning away, and within minutes of awakening were greeted by our friendly innkeeper, arriving with breakfast at so perfect a time it seemed as though he had some magical sense of when we would awaken.

As if the enchantment of The Boot Cottage weren’t enough, there’s also a magical play area open to the guests of the restaurant as well as those staying overnight.  The play area is the physical manifestation of childhood dreams: a wooded area complete with entryway, majestic flags, and a throne, a teater-totter made from fallen tree branches, and an over-sized chess board with a knight who’s height reaches your knees.

Taking over the Throne, curious if the woodland creatures will show themselves.

If you’re looking for an escape from reality, a stay at The Boot is certain to do the trick. Stay longer than a week and you just may never return to reality!

*This was my first stay at a B&B. I’d always been a little uncomfortable with the idea of staying where someone permanently lives. Steve had the perfect balance of interest and discretion throughout our entire stay. I’ll definitely be staying at more B&B’s!

Jessica is a Graphic Designer and Owner of little Hinka Design.


Tahquitz Canyon – Palm Springs, Calif.

19 Jan

You have got to go here…Tahquitz Canyon – Palm Springs, Calif.

OK, so here is a sneak peek…

There is so much more where that came from…read on!

My dad had heard about Tahquitz Canyon ( ancient Native American land) from a friend, so on a recent trip to Palm Springs we decided to check it out and I am so glad we did!  The Canyon is located just minutes from the heart of downtown so there are no excuses not to go.

Upon arrival you will enter the visitors center where you can read up on the canyon and borrow a hiking stick if you want!

Let me preface by saying that this is a two-mile loop to a 18ft waterfall with a 350 foot elevation gain, but if you hike or walk at all it will be a breeze.  With that being said please remember this is Palm Springs and it can be hot any time of year so bring plenty of water and snacks!

Now to the fun part…take your map and go.  The trail is very well-marked and is easy to follow.  As you go, look for markers that give you fascinating facts about the land you are on – such as where ancient ruins were found.

While walking really keep your eyes open as there is tons of amazing sceneary…everything from rock formations, fantastic views, wildlife to lush pools of water.

I can not express to you how beautiful this hike is.  I was in awe of all that was around and was totally giddy when we made it to the waterfall!  The only big bummer about this hike is that you can’t swim in the water – I was so tempted!

If I would have known how serene it was at the top I would have packed a lunch and had a picnic!

You may never want to leave – but if you must, don’t fret there is tons to see on the way down. Since it is a loop, a whole new set of wonders to discover awaits. (I made my family stop and take funny pictures!)

At the end I was very sad because it was over, but happy to have made the discovery!  I hope you feel the same after exploring Tahquitz Canyon!

***Side note – Admission is $12.50 (well worth it) and the hours vary, so check before you go!

Happy Hiking,


Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Cactus Garden – Las Vegas, Nev.

7 Jan

You have got to go here…the Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Cactus Garden – Las Vegas, Nev.

Did you know that drinks aren’t the only thing that you can get for free in Vegas?  At the Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Cactus Garden you can get FREE CHOCOLATE!  You read that right…FREE CHOCOLATE!  I am not suggesting that you drop everything, but I would hurry up and go!

I had always heard of the mystical chocolate factory tour where sweets flowed through your hands and into your mouth, so on my last trip to Las Vegas I knew that I had to go there.

When we pulled into the driveway it became clear that I made a good choice to visit – the chocolate smell in the air was scrumptious!  OH, and we were greeted by my favorite M&M!

OK, enough about me!  When you first arrive there are plenty of signs pointing you to the tour.  Once inside the factory (yes you get to go inside for FREE) there are displays on the history of chocolate /Ethel M and giant viewing windows so you can watch the chocolate being made.

Take your time and enjoy the scenery because at the end there is a surprise for you!

FREE CHOCOLATE!!! They had milk, white, dark and a special of the day (it was pecan toffee when I went and it was so good!)  I have to say that I have tasted a lot of chocolate in my life and this was one of my favorites.

After you are done, head into the store for yummy delights!  There are so many choices to purchase – truffles, bars, brittle…the list goes on and on.  Make sure you take a look at everything as you don’t want to skip over something tasty!

The  fun doesn’t end in the store…so grab yourself a decadent hot chocolate or ice cream and head outside to the cactus garden.  It is Nevada’s largest display of cactus with over 300 different types and it is truly beautiful.  There are many little walkways to take through the garden so make sure you stroll them all. Who would have thought that by visiting a chocolate factory you would also get a tour of nature???

The Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Garden Tour was such a pleasant surprise.  It was fun to step away from the bright lights of the Las Vegas Strip and go see something unique and FREE!!

The factory is located in Henderson, Nev. (not far from the airport) and is open seven days a week.

I highly suggest you put down the quarters, step away from the slot machine and go try some treats!

Happy Chocolating!