Monday, December 21, 2015

seashell photography

The first time I found a seashell on the beach (when I was in Pensacola, Florida!) was quite exciting for me. Of course, I'd seen plenty of seashells before, but I'd never found any myself. Beachcombing quickly became my new favorite hobby. On that trip I walked along many beaches and collected many pretty things. I hardly found any that weren't broken, but I couldn't bring myself to toss back so many of the small pieces because they were just so beautiful, even in their damaged state.

Since I live in the Midwest, shelling is something I seldom get the chance to do. When I get home from my trips to far away beaches, I have so much fun laying out and identifying my finds. I love looking through my shell book anyways, fantasizing about how wonderful it would be to stumble upon some of the rare beauties. Nature is soooo crazy, you guys!

My shells have been boxed up for a while (so many moves!), but the other day I decided to take them out and admire them. This led to a new photo series that I am soooo into at the moment. I love being able to share the beauty of my collection, especially the broken ones. Aren't they gorgeous?

These photos and more are available as prints (and pillows, phone cases, tote bags, ect.) in my Society6 shop!
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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Lake Michigan Road Trip 2015 // Mackinac Island - The Grand Hotel

While we were on Mackinac Island we stayed at The Grand Hotel. I stayed there once before when I was about thirteen, and I was very excited to go back. The Grand Hotel truly is one of a kind, and honestly, I don't think I could stay on the island without at least staying a night there.

Ok, so I'm all about van life and road trips, not showering for long periods of time, ect. Staying in a place like this is definitely not the norm for me when I travel. Even when I do choose to spend the night at a hotel/motel, I'm all for that shady Motel 6 experience. But this trip was special, so we decided to visit the island and stay two nights at The Grand for my birthday. It wasn't cheap, and we knew this going in, because we had made reservations about a month in advance. We decided on the "Bed and Breakfast" package because it was the least expensive. It included breakfast in the gorgeous dining hall, but it didn't include the five course dinner, which is one of the things many people enjoy most while on visiting the hotel. But, alas, we are struggling artists, so we opted for the cheaper one. It cost about $700 for us to stay two nights. That, as I said, included breakfast (not a measly continental breakfast, either). That was insanely expensive for us (more than a month's rent!), but like I mentioned earlier, it was a special treat and most definitely something we do not indulge in often.

Probably my favorite part about staying here is that there is a dress code strictly enforced after about six o'clock. Men must wear trousers, jacket, and tie, and for women, a dress/skirt (or pantsuit). (Just for fun before my trip I was looking up reviews of the place, and lots of people weren't psyched about the dress code. The hotel does make a note of the rules to every guest reserving rooms, so it's not as if people aren't aware of it before they arrive. In my opinion, it's part of what makes The Grand grand.) I had soooooo much fun planning my fancy outfits. I don't lead a lifestyle where I have to dress up for an event often (ever), so this was kinda a big deal for me.
The longest porch in the world. (Actually.)
Looking down into the dining hall. Isn't that geranium carpet amazing?!
I'll be honest, I was a little disappointed that we weren't assigned to one of the crazy flowered rooms. Ours was pretty vanilla compared to most of the other ones (each room is decorated differently). We did have a view of the water, which was amazing, but our room was on the ground level, so we had to keep our blinds shut most of the time to keep the guests lounging on the porch from being able to look in.
After dinner, there's a band that plays in the ball room. We enjoyed the music and then danced the night away! Towards the end of the night, we ventured up to the cupola where there's a small bar. There's a star theme in the top room, and even the carpet is navy with stars. We were the only ones up there the night of my birthday. We enjoyed the amazing view and the pretty piano tunes. The pianist even played "Stars" from Les Miserables (keeping with the theme, no doubt), and when he finished I told him that we were big Les Mis fans and he then proceeded to play a Les Mis medley. It was kind of a surreal moment.
All dressed up on the big porch before birthday dinner. For my birthday gift, my parents gave us some money to use towards dinner one night at The Grand, so we were able to enjoy the amazing five course meal in the dining hall.
Unfortunately this was the only picture of my outfit from the second night. I'm in love with this insanely sexy leotard from American Apparel. I paired it with a gorgeous long sea foamy skirt and some pretty black heels. We took a carriage ride downtown and at dinner at the Seabiscuit Cafe (we were quite overdressed, but psh, who cares?!). We walked back to the hotel and enjoyed some more dancing in the ballroom before retiring for the night.
More of the ground floor lounging area. I adore the color of the ceiling.
My time at The Grand Hotel was something I'll remember for the rest of my life. I would definitely recommend the island to anyone looking for something fun to do in the Midwest. And I would also recommend staying at The Grand! It is worth every single dollar to have such a unique experience.

See my other Mackinac Island posts here!

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