36 hours in Vancouver

This summer, Aaron and I had 36 hours in Vancouver before we boarded our cruise to Alaska. I had never been to Vancouver before, and as you will see in the pictures that follow, I was not going to let this opportunity pass me by without making the most of it.

To maximize our time, we spent most of our 36 hours in Gastown, as we stayed a short 10-minute walk away, but we also made it to Granville Island and the Capilano Suspension Bridge which was so worth it. I don't regret any of it. I highly recommend a visit to Vancouver as it was one of those rare cities that offers both amazing food and culture and time outside exploring. 

Day 1

Tacofino - Gastown

I've had some good tacos in my time (that sounds hilarious coming from a 27-year-old) but Tacofino takes the cake. I also loved how there was a quick service option on one side and then a sit down option on the other side. The creativity was overflowing in this space. I love it when a restaurant wins at quality of food and aesthetics. 

Nelson the Seagull

Keeping up the theme of quality of food and aesthetics, let me introduce you to the most adorable coffeeshop you've ever seen. Meet Nelson the Seagull. Not only was it a beautifully designed space that welcomed you with a big bear hug when you entered, it serves the most incredible avocado toast. Served on their handmade bread, no other avocado toast stands a chance. It's a must when you visit.

And the best part? Tacofino and Nelson the Seagull are a two-minute walk from each other. It's a recipe for a beautiful day!

Frank + Oak

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If you need a break from eating your way through Gastown, you're in luck. Frank + Oak is just across the street from Tacofino. You can read why I love Frank + Oak here.

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Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

After lunch, we went back to the hotel to catch a quick catnap. I’ll admit, it was really hard to get up again but we rallied. We then got on the free Capilano Shuttle and enjoyed a gorgeous 30-minute bus ride from the city out to North Vancouver to the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. It was such a unique experience and we were really glad we rallied and got out of the city to experience this gorgeous part of Vancouver.

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Granville Island

Granville Island was a must see for me as it's gorgeous but also because it's goal is the be a zero waste island. How cool is that?! Granville Island is a peninsula and shopping district that is located across False Creek from Downtown Vancouver. We ate at The Sandbar and it was such a fun experience as it is located under the bridge of Granville Island.

Day 2

Aaron was a bit worn out from our day before (he was the real MVP putting up with my itinerary) so I had a morning to myself, exploring parts of Gastown I hadn't had the chance to see the day before. Coffeeshops are my happy place and make me feel like a local, so I always try to make it to a few local coffeeshops. The final two I got to see in Gastown were Buro Coffee and Timbertrain Coffee.

They both had such friendly staff, beautiful environments where I could have stayed for hours, and excellent coffee — which is what we’re all after at a coffeeshop, right? ;)

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Alley Oop

The last stop on my way back to the hotel before we boarded for our cruise was the incredible Alley Oop. I'm a huge fan of redesigning normal spaces and giving them new purpose and gosh, Alley Oop was no exception. They painted an alleyway and made it into a basketball court, making the alleyway a space for the community to gather. I don't play basketball, but I still soaked up the creativity in this space and was inspired by its theme of #beawesomenow.

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As I made my way back to the hotel, I couldn't help be grateful for our 36 hours in Vancouver. It was short but incredibly inspiring and fun to explore a new place all while making the most of our time there.

There are trips where I choose to rest after arriving to our destination, but with such a tight timeline in Vancouver, I decided sleep would come after we boarded the cruise. I still don't regret taking the time to see just a bit more of the city. If you can go, I highly recommend it and I would love to hear what your favorite parts of Vancouver are!

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a noonday collection ambassador trip: guatemala 2016

It’s a Friday afternoon in Santiago, Guatemala—a small town with a large indigenous Mayan population on Lake Atitlán. I’m standing on a cleanly swept dirt floor around a long wooden table, watching a group of local women sit and sift through piles of beads before they string them into beautiful multicolored beaded cuffs. I’m here with eleven other Noonday Ambassadors, on a weeklong trip to visit four Artisan partner groups.

As I look back on our week in Guatemala, what I will be taking away from this experience are the people I got to meet and what I learned from them, especially from the leaders of our Artisan partner groups.

During our time with Ana, an amazing woman leader working in Santiago,

 I loved seeing the sense of pride she has in her work. 

She enjoys who she works with, laughing and learning alongside them. She is always trying to improve—from constructing a tin roof over their rear workspace to switching from a wood-burning fire to propane gas to heat their dye (which can be hazardous for their health and also enables them to produce more—and thus earn more). Ana is proud of the work she has created for her community and leads them well.

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On another day in the nearby town of San Juan La Laguna, we got to meet Cristobol, one of Noonday’s key Artisan partners in Guatemala. Cristobol 

has a passion for empowering others,

 despite the difficult circumstances he went through in his past. I was so moved by the way he has built a network of teams in his workshop—we met the eight women who each have their own team, allowing them to learn leadership skills, and they even share the various steps involved in the creation of each bracelet.

Because of the work they’ve received through Noonday, each of these eight women leaders in Cristobol’s team have been able to open their own personal bank account and he’s also currently training twenty-one additional women to have a trade and soon join his team. He’s looking out for his community and I walked away from our time together inspired to grow even more involved in my own home community.

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Finally, I loved meeting Rosario and her team. Rosario has a 

determination to pursue her dreams.

 She drives four hours one-way every weekend to attend university and is also putting her daughters through school right now. In a community where it’s often typical for a girl to only complete education through sixth grade, Rosario’s determination to see her children and all of her female Artisans complete their education was humbling and inspiring to witness. She said that Ambassador trips always bring her joy and peace. It was amazing to realize our connection was just as meaningful for both of us.

This trip was a beautiful picture of how no matter what your role is in life and in the world, you matter. Whether you’re a Noonday Artisan partner,

Ambassador

,

Hostess

or customer, every role is vital and dependent on each other. I am so thankful to now have that perspective.

Now when I see our pieces, I see more than jewelry—I see the faces behind them, and the stories they shared with us. Just as the women in Rosario’s workshop transformed individual glass beads into wearable works of art, I now feel an

even stronger

connection with the story of Noonday—all of our individual stories, of Artisans and Ambassadors, woven together across the world.