Scenes from Mexico

beach-2

If I’m being completely honest, our family vacation to Mexico can best be described as bittersweet. The trip itself was perfectly relaxing, filled to the brim with sand and sun of the best variety. The resort was lovely, the beach picture perfect, the company unbeatable, and the food? Well, we’ll just skip that part (read: awful).  

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On our third day in paradise we received word that my grandma, who was forced to stay behind with my aunt (doctor’s orders), had taken a turn for the worst. Just three weeks before we left, we found out she had cancer. We were told we had six months, though we knew we’d be lucky to get half. 

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To find out your grandma wasn’t going to make it through the day while sunning by the pool is surreal. In truth, it rocked all of us to our core. My cousin who, for lack of a better word, idolized my grandmother walked down the aisle, a beautiful, picturesque, sandy aisle, with a void in all of our hearts. 

forestbeach justin-and-i

I’m lucky enough to come from a massive, incredibly close, incredibly solid family. Though it broke all of our hearts that we weren’t there during my grandma’s final hours, we were all together, as one solid unit and that most definitely helped get each one of us through.

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We celebrated my grandma the best way we knew how: a poolside toast, rye and coke in hand (my grandma’s drink of choice). And we take comfort knowing that she’s no longer in pain, and alongside my grandpa, the love of her life. 

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RIP Grandma, you’ll be sorely missed, but never, ever, ever, forgotten.   line
Images original to Lark & Linen
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CATEGORIES | Life, Scenes from my Weekend, Travel, Vacation
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Be Right Back

Travel photography in the British Virgin Islands while sailing  

By this time tomorrow I will be en route to Mexico! After the last few weeks, I can’t even begin to tell you how necessary this is. I essentially plan on plunking myself on the beach, cocktail in hand, for the entirety of my trip. But before I go, I wanted to give you all a big virtual hug for being so supportive over the last little while. I love you guys so! And don’t worry, I’ve lined up a whole mess of lovely to keep you company while I’m gone. I have a collection of SERIOUSLY amazing bloggers who’ve sweetly agreed to hold down the fort for me around these parts. So stay tuned because there’s a whole lot of awesome coming your way.

Oh, and if you feel like following along, chances are I’ll be instagraming my way through Mexico. 

“See” you soon! XOXOXO

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Pink Bathing Suit + Boat: Entouriste | Basil Blackberry Fizz: Coco and Mingo | Patio on the Beach: Love Is My Favorite Color via SMP Living

 

CATEGORIES | Vacation
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Kruger Safari, South Africa

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And last but most certainly not least, I bring you to the final installment of photos. Though, I’m not going to lie, I have about a billion more I’d like to share. I may need to make a Facebook album so they have somewhere to live.

Though literally every moment of our South African adventure was memorable in its own right, the safari was, hands down, my very favourite part. I, admittedly, had high expectations before we even arrived, and I can confidently say that even they were surpassed by miles.

I’m not sure I’ve mentioned it up until now, but the entire reason for our trip was to celebrate my mothers 60th birthday (yep, she certainly knows how to celebrate!) We splurged* and spent four nights at the beautiful Imbali lodge, right in the heart of Kruger National Park. We have many, many stories (including the time we were almost attacked by a 6 tonne elephant in musth). You wouldn’t believe how close you get to these beautiful creatures. At one point, we were completely surrounded by 32 wild elephants grazing in a field. Two babies began play-wrestling mere feet away from us and I just about lost my mind (there may be a video to come if I get my act together).

The entire trip was, without a doubt, the experience of a lifetime. If you ever have the chance to go, please, please, please do. And please, please, please take me with you. I’m not even close to done with the place. 

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*A quick note: if you ever go on safari, consider booking through Bush Breaks. You can book incredible, 5 star, luxury lodges at steep discounts. 

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Images Original to Lark & Linen. 
South Africa, Part I Part II | Part III
To see more travel photos, 
click here!

CATEGORIES | Travel, Vacation
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The Garden Route, South Africa

merekats-in-the-wild
{waking up at 4:30 am to watch wild meerkats}

Though none of us were quite ready to leave Cape Town (can you blame us?), we had other things on the agenda so we reluctantly packed our bags and off we went. During my research prior to our departure, I kept reading about The Garden Route: a series of small towns dotting the coast that are each, in their own right, well worth a visit. 

We decided to embark on a mini road trip of sorts, taking in the (glorious) sites along the route over the course of three days. Before I dive in to some of our favourite moments, I must say that the trek is long, and arduous at times, but well worth it. The vastly different landscapes you get to witness along the way make the trek worthwhile. From deep red desserts, to luscious, overgrown jungles, to winding routes up and down mountains, literally minutes apart, you never really knew what was waiting for you around the corner. It was quite impressive! 

impala
{I’m going to venture a wild guess and say this is an antelope skull}

On the first night of our road trip we made a slight detour making our way off the typical path to visit the ostrich capital of the world: Outdshoorn.  No, none of us were particularly interested in ostriches (though I won’t deny they do amuse me!), the reason for this detour was for one reason only: the Meerkat Adventure. Basically, it’s just as it sounds. You wake up at the crack of dawn (literally) to hike into the bush and watch wild meerkats wake up and begin their daily activities mere feet away from you. We must have watched them for two hours and it was, honestly, the experience of a lifetime. One I will not, ever, forget!

tea
{necessary at 4:30 am in the middle of the desert}

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{road trip!}

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{views along the garden route}

african-baskets
{at a craft market in Knysna}

Next on the agenda: a trip to Monkeyland (obviously!) Located just outside of Plettenberg Bay, this sanctuary acts as a respite for monkeys who have been in captivity for most of their life (either in labs, or kept as pets in some capacity). Being unable to release them in the wild once they’ve been “domesticated”, it’s here that they can roam around freely for the rest of their days. You get to walk through the jungle as monkeys cross your path, swing on trees and go about their business. It was, without a doubt, one of the coolest places EVER. 

Lastly, it wouldn’t be right for me to not mention the dinner we had on the beach at Enrico’s in Plettenberg. Truly, one of the best meals of my life. With dollar beers as you wait for a table, the loveliest setting in the entire world, and a selection of fish that was caught earlier that day, it was utterly perfect. (In fact, if you book early enough, you can go out with Enrico each morning as he catches the fish for the day!) 

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{a stroll along the beach}

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{the view from dinner at Enrico’s}

monkey
{monkeyland!}

forest
{luscious views en route}

rope-bridge
{South Africa’s longest rope bridge}

succulents
{scenes from our cute hostel}

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{beautiful Plettenberg Bay}

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{views from breakfast}

shacks
{shantis en route}

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{coming to the end of our road trip}

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Images Original to Lark & Linen. 
South Africa, Part I Part II
To see more travel photos, 
click here!

CATEGORIES | Travel, Vacation
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Cape Town, South Africa

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{sights en route to Boulders & Cape Point}

From Stellenbosch, we made our way west to Cape Town. And if the rolling hills in wine country weren’t enough to steal my heart, Cape Town absolutely sealed the deal. I can now attest to completely and wholeheartedly understand the sentiment “it took my breath away”. From epic mountains to turquoise oceans, wild penguins to brightly painted buildings, you’d be a fool not to fall head over heels for the place.

With only a few days on hand, we plowed through the city and its surroundings in record time. We climbed Table Mountain, visited the penguins at Boulders Beach, stood where the Indian Ocean kisses the Atlantic at Cape Point, indulged in ice cream at the V&A Waterfront, and, albeit briefly, set sights on the rainbow hued homes in Bo Kapp. 

highway
{a frequent sighting throughout South Africa}
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{a peek at Boulders Beach}
boulder-beach
{seeing this? right here? It’s been on my bucketlist FOREVER}

penguin
{a nesting penguin}

table-mountain-2
{the views atop Table Mountain}

Table-Mountain-3
{windblown and happy}

rock-climbing-table-mountain
{a very brave man}

James-on-Table-Mountain
{my lil’ brother}

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{on top of the world at Cape Point}

lighthouse
{the lighthouse at Cape Point}

cape-point
{the view from the Lighthouse}

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mom
{mama!}

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waterfront
{the V&A Waterfront at dusk}

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Images Original to Lark & Linen. 
South Africa, Part I 
To see more travel photos, click here!

CATEGORIES | Travel, Vacation
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Stellenbosch, South Africa

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{Our gorgeous hotel, Oude Werfe}

Though our original plan was to fly into Cape Town to spend New Years eve, we could not for the life of us find accommodations. So a word of warning: if you’re ever travelling to Cape Town over a holiday, book a solid two months in advance! We ended up being forced to switch gears and heading half an hour east to Stellenbosch, where some of the worlds best wines are produced. And, honestly? It was a blessing in disguise. 

After having travelled for 40+ hours, we knew we would be exhausted and decided to splurge on a few nights in a beautiful hotel, wining and dining our way to relaxation. This was, of course, one of our better life decisions to date.  

Due to a jam-packed schedule (I’m a go. do. see type when travelling – I may have driven my brother mental), we unfortunately only had one full day in Stellenbosch. Now that I know how exquisite it is, I would have happily spent an entire week there alone. Seeing as our time was unfortunately limited, we hired a guide* to give us a wine tour and really make the most of our day. What began with a wine and chocolate tasting at Lanzerac, finished with a wine and cheese pairing, many hours later, at Spier. Needless to say, we collectively agreed that we need to go back.

Oude-Werf{my happy place}

stellenbosch
{the most incredible gardens}

lanzerac-winery
{our first wine & chocolate tasting (at 10 am, no less)}

Lanzeracc
{the rooftop view from Lanzerac}

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{the art and architecture at Delaire Graffe was unreal}

Wine-Tour
{can you even handle this view?}

gallery-wall-in-stellenbosch
{the gallery wall at Spier was perfection}

Wine-Tours
{better than I could have ever imagined}

wine-and-cheese-tasting
{wine and cheese}

*Our guide was named David and he was unbelievable. We LOVED him and highly, highly recommend him if you’re ever in the area. 

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Images Original to Lark & Linen. 
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A Day in Paris

paris
{dreamy buildings}

I know I promised South Africa pictures this week, and I pinky swear they’re coming, but before we get there I thought it’d be fun to take a wee peek at Paris. Because, I mean, when the opportunity to get lost in a few Parisienne photos arises you take it, am I right? You see, en route to Africa we ended up with a 15 hour layover in none other than the city of love. Though I won’t deny it was exhausting (hello jetlag and only a few hours sleep; on a plane no less), we rallied and I’m so glad that we did. My goal: to gorge on croissants (check), stroll through the Musee D’orsay (it’s closed on Monday – I don’t want to talk about it – I’m still crushed), indulge in a cheese plate (check, check!) and see the eiffel tower. All in all? A successful 15 hours. 

ferris-wheel-paris
{la Roue de Paris}

la-seine
{la Seine}

notre-dam-paris
{Notre Dame}

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{la Place de la Concorde}

laduree-macarons-paris
{I now understand the Laduree hype}

paris-door
{lovely details}

eiffel-tower
{la Tour Eiffel}

streets-of-paris
{be still my heart}

paris-opera
{the Opera house}

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{the Louvre}

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Images Original to Lark & Linen. 
To see more travel photos, click here!

 

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Happy Holidays!

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Before I take off for the holidays, I wanted to take a moment to thank each and every one of you for all your love and support. I don’t think you’ll ever have any idea how much you all mean to me! For those of you celebrating Christmas, I hope it’s everything you could ever wish for. And for those of you who are struggling this year, please know that you’re in my thoughts. 

I’m going to be taking off next week to snuggle all up on my family, and then I leave for two weeks to South Africa! Next week will be a little quite around here, but I’ve lined up some pretty epic guests posts while I’m travelling. I have a very good feeling you’ll want to stay tuned.

Happy, happy holidays and ALL of my love. 

xoxoxo, Jacquelyn

PS – in case you missed it, I guest posted over on Darling Magazine the other day. Head on over to read up on 5 ways to get into the holiday spirit (FOR FREE!) and you can enter to win a years subscription. I hiiiighly recommend that you do – the magazine is beyond fantastic.

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Photography: Paige Jones Photo for 100 Layer Cake

CATEGORIES | Holidays, Vacation
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Scenes from Thunder Bay

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Thunder Bay is one of those spots that simply feels like home. It’s not the prettiest of towns, by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s where my grandfather immigrated from the Ukraine in the late 1920’s, where he met my grandmother, almost seventy years ago, and where much of my family still resides. And what the city lacks, the country makes up for in vast quantity.  Plus? It has persians. And finnish pancakes. So I’m not going to complain.

I’ve been visiting practically every summer for as long as I can remember. When we were much younger, we’d all pile into our van (six of us, plus a dog) and make the seventeen hour drive (each way) to spend two weeks at the cottage (an hour outside of town) with our grandparents. Sometimes we’d drive straight through the night, and others we’d stop halfway. Those years we made that pit stop we’d stay at a sub-par hotel in Sault St. Marie simply because it had “the worlds biggest water slide” (one that’s probably actually significantly smaller than I’m picturing at this time).

Now that said grandparents are 89 and 91 respectively, they’re no longer able to join us at the cottage (or camp, as we like to refer to it). Though we made a number of trips into town to visit, their country-side absence made this particular trip a little more than bittersweet.

I’m not one who usually embraces change. I tend to confront it slowly and carefully, always with a slight skepticism. And while this past week was incredibly relaxing, beautiful and fun in its own right, it was different. With it being just my mom, brother and step-sister this go around it was unusually calm and I think it’s safe to say that we all felt that void that lingered during those more silent moments. That being said, the quiet, the lake and just the right amount of breeze acted as the perfect recipe for finishing 4 books (thankyouverymuch!), imbibing in cocktail hour almost daily, and totally kicking my brothers’ butt at many, many a board games (I expect a comment from him below in due time!)

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all images original to lark & linen
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Ravello, The Amalfi Coast part V

ravello_1Our last day brought us to the picturesque town of Ravello. We had originally planned to head to Capri on this particular day, but our trip was cancelled due to the wind and impending rain (insert soft sobs here)*. We grabbed the city bus from Maiori and made our way up to this teeny little town. Though I was slightly disappointed by the fact that we weren’t going to make it to Capri, Ravello had it’s own unique charm. It definitely held its own and then some.

Located directly above the Amalfi Coast, the mountainous views and expansive vistas of the rest of the coast were a refreshing change from the other seaside towns we had visited throughout the week .  I swear you could see the entire coast from up there, and it was absolutely glorious.

Much like the majority of our trip, we spent our day dining, shopping, and wandering about. At one point in the afternoon, the skies opened up and it began to pour down on us. We took cover in a nearby shoe store where I happened to pick up a pair of beautiful orange sandals (convenient, right? I have to add, the shoes in Ravello were quite incredible!) We then invested in a $10 umbrella (Justin’s only souvenir! He has more willpower than I do, I must say) and didn’t let the weather get us down.

Once we were done touring, we decided to hike back down to Minori** (and then make our way back to Maiori). There’s a really beautiful trail just to the left of Villa Cimbrone and I believe you can make your way to Amalfi this way as well (though you might want to triple check). You simply follow the signs that eventually lead you to your destination. The whole hike took around 45 minutes, and the views are absolutely breathtaking (and I really dislike that word, so you know I mean business). It rained off and on during the entire walk, but we had our trusty umbrella and hiking in the rain was really quite romantic. All in all, a wonderful end to an incredible trip.

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*having missed Capri just means that we need to go back. Right? RIGHT!
**the hike wasn’t terribly difficult at all, but it’s almost entirely stairs (going down!) and they’re quite rocky/uneven. It gave my ankles a really strange workout – like I had never exercised certain muscles within them or something. By the time we got to the bottom they were all shakey and weird. No big deal, just a quick little warning!

Special note: though pricey (around $300), I’ve been told by a number of friends that this Ravello cooking class is incredible. We weren’t originally planning on heading to Ravello, and if we hadn’t blown our whole budget at this point in the trip, we would have budgeted for it for sure. Damn us and our responsible mindsets.

See: Part I Part II | Part III | Part IV Part V
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all images original to lark & linen

ps. A big thanks to Tieks who sent me a pair of their ballerina pink flats. They literally got me through my entire trip. I HIGHLY recommend them. Super comfy, and they fold up teeny tiny (so perfect for travelling).

CATEGORIES | Life, Travel, Vacation
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