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Feature Friday: LK Custom Creations

Happy Feature Friday!

headshotToday we’re excited to feature Lizz Klaras of LK Custom Creations! We love how she took her love of painting and turned it into a career — making her work stand out by using glass as her canvas! Her pieces are not only unique works of art, but are also completely usable! She’s truly inspired by her surroundings, creating glassware that has amazing depictions of nature and animals — they’re sure to make a statement in your own collection! Her brand’s story will definitely inspire you in your own creative pursuits, so keep reading to hear more about how she got her start, and to see the gorgeous transformations she gives these glasses and plates!

Castle Logo: Tell us a little about yourself.
lk: I am a freelance artist from a very small town in Illinois. My husband is in the military so we are currently stationed in Chesapeake, VA and we love it!  I have a five year old daughter who is very interested in art and is often found in my studio acting as my assistant.

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Castle Logo: How did you get started with LK Custom Creations and hand painting glassware?
lk: For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to be a freelance artist but it took a while to figure out exactly what I could create that would be unique. LKCC originally started out as a custom invitation business.  I thought that combining my illustration skills with custom invitations would be a great fit.  I loved the design process but assembling them became a very daunting task for me.  I missed painting so much and I wasn’t about to hand paint hundreds of invitations!  I began to look for anything I could produce that could still be custom, yet outside the world of traditional 2D artwork.  Once I learned to paint on glass I was hooked!  It was usable art and that is what I loved most about it.  I started adding glassware designs to my Etsy site and instantly the glass art began to attract customers.

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Manuel Antonio –> Drake Bay

BY CAILIN BURKE

For our next leg of the trip we headed to the small (like really small) town of Sierpe to catch a boat to Drake Bay. Drake Bay is a part of the Osa Peninsula, one of Costa Rica’s most biodiverse sections, which made it more difficult to get to – but totally worth it. After arriving in Sierpe and leaving our rental car in a grassy knoll for $3 a day, we hopped on a boat and off we went!

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Canoeing and Cliff Jumping in the Berkshires

BY CAILIN BURKE

When looking up things to do near our cabin I saw that there was a 300 ft. deep quarry filled with water that was perfect  for cliff diving! We had to hike a bit to get there, but once we got to the quarry we had the place to ourselves! There were a few heights to dive from, the highest being 60 ft (!!!), but since it is an old quarry there are old wires and scrap metal at the bottom of it so we had to be careful and not jump from too high. We spent a few hours there and it was so cool to be jumping into this swimming hole basically in the middle of the forest.

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Upstate NY Lunch & Hike

BY TARA BURKE

We were back home in Upstate NY for the weekend, so our stepdad treated us to lunch at Man of Kent Tavern in Hoosick Falls. It was a beautiful day so we sat in their outside seating area, which was set up with cute tables and flowers lining the entire porch. Cailin got the Pulled Pork Sandwich, our stepdad got the Rodeo Burger and I got the Colonel’s Special Sandwich. Everything was delicious and we were stuffed to the brim.

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Newport: Part II

BY CAILIN BURKE

Our first morning waking up in Newport was perfect as we were greeted with the most adorable small plates breakfast ever. The assortment was so unique and you could take as much as you wanted. Some of my favorites were the chocolate scones, bread and bacon jam, and the cute way they served their eggs.

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Feature Friday: Traveler’s Little Treasures

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It’s already the last Friday of September! Which means this week’s Feature Friday is all about travel! For this Traveler Series, we talked to Katrin Tochtermann, of Traveler’s Little Treasures. She’s only 20 years old but has traveled all over the world!  We were particularly excited to feature Katrin because she has been to several parts of Asia, and that is definitely on Tara and I’s bucket list next. Katrin is consistently traveling, so she keeps everyone updated through her website, travelerslittletreasures.com and describes her experiences in both English and German! Plus she has some amazing photos from each country and great advice. Keep reading and you’ll have a very hard time trying to stifle your wanderlust.

 

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: Tell us about yourself.

logo: Hey my name is Katrin and I am a 20 year old travel addict, living in Frankfurt, Germany. I am studying Media and communication management at an online university and specialize in journalism and publishing. Beside my studies I work as a flight attendant, which is a great way to combine my love to meet new people with the opportunity to travel.
I am a very outgoing, positive person and believe that you should follow your dreams and do what you love. And also that family and friends are the most important things in the world.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: Give us a little info about your website. What made you want to start it?

logo: Traveler’s Little Treasures is a travel blog that focuses on flash packing, personal travel experiences and giving tips on destinations away from the typical tourist path. The idea for the blog came when I was working on a tiny island located in the South China Sea in Malaysia. After I finished my daily work in the dive base there, there wasn’t much to do, so I started flicking through my photos on my laptop and remembered what my grandma always told me: “You should keep a travel journal- so you will memorize your trips better.” Since I am quite good at losing things, I decided to write an online journal- first it was just for me and I didn’t expect a lot of people to read it, but I got a lot of feedback from friends and also strangers, so I continued writing, putting more effort in my articles and photos and now I am hoping to do this as a profession some day.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: Why do you think people should travel?

logo: I think all people should travel to learn more about other cultures, but also to understand their own personality better. When you are traveling, you are usually moving out of your comfort zone. You are leaving home behind and you are going to have to adapt to new circumstances and not be afraid to talk to strangers. Beside discovering stunning places this world has to offer, you will also make friends for life and in the end traveling is all about the people you meet on the road.

Traveling doesn’t necessarily have to be to a far away country; sometimes it only takes a short car ride to change the scenery and see something new.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: Why did you start traveling?

logo: I can’t remember why I actually started traveling, I have always been of curious nature and was very keen to go to new places. When I was six years old, my au pair from Hungary invited me to visit her home country. We took the bus together and I spent a wonderful time with her family and she showed me around. Probably from that moment I have been hooked on traveling and whenever I got the chance to join friends or visit family members who lived abroad, I would take it. And that has never changed. My job as a flight attendant is perfect to cure that wanderlust. I get the chance to go to new places on a regular basis, get paid to do something that I love and when I am at home I value that time even more.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: Out of everywhere you’ve been what is your favorite city of them all? Which city could you see yourself living in the most?

logo: London will always have a place in my heart. This city is so buzzing, so vibrant, multicultural and inspiring. A part of my family lives there and I always try to go there at least once a year. The first time they took me to all the tourist attractions, but when I returned the next year they started showing me the things they liked to do. Seeing the city through the eyes of a local was wonderful and from that moment on I always try to ask locals what they can recommend in order to get a more genuine experience of a city.

I also loved Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. It offers a great mix between tradition and modernism. A lot of cultures and religions live peacefully next to each other and that mix guarantees many sights, delicious food and interesting conversations. Furthermore I had the best party nights there.

From all the places I have visited I would love to live in Barcelona, London, Singapore, Bangkok and Berlin for a couple of years. Even though I haven’t been to Australia before, this is also a place I would love to move to and live in for a couple of years.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: What has been the best food you’ve tried or best meal you’ve had?

logo: The best food on my travels was in Thailand. I would always come back just for the food. They manage to make healthy dishes full of flavor, everything is fresh and simply mouthwatering. The secret is that they try to combine all flavors together: spicy, salty, sweet and sour. Love the Thai curries, the green papaya salad and Tom Yum soup. I even participated in a Thai cooking class, so I can cook those dishes at home but it is not so easy to find all the ingredients, so I have to go back to Thailand again very soon 😉

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: Have you ever been scared to try a certain type of food? Or scared to do anything in particular while traveling?

logo: Since I believe that traveling is all about stepping out of your comfort zone and making new experiences, I try to be curious and say yes- most of the time. I tasted fried scorpion in Bangkok and of course I was a bit nervous before but I am glad I tried it. I don’t advise you to not be careful, but go with your guts and be open-minded.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: Have your travels in Asia differed from your travels in Europe?

logo: Definitely. A lot of places in Europe are similar: similar shops, similar culture and religions. I loved traveling to Asia because it was like going to a different world. It was crazy, noisy and nothing like I was used to from home. It never got boring because there was so much to do, see and experience. Another aspect is that travel in Europe can be pricy and Asia is fantastic for people traveling on a budget: A meal is 1-3 $; accommodation between 5- 10$ and buses take you around the country for very cheap too.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: Give us some tips for a few of the cities you’ve been to.

logo: 1) This one is for all the ladies, if you are in Kuala Lumpur on a Wednesday make sure to go to Changkat, the bar street. On Wednesdays you will be able to get free drinks in most bars and clubs there.

2) Never take chewing gum to Singapore! It is forbidden in that city state and I got in trouble when I crossed borders from Malaysia.

3) Don’t eat pizza in South East Asia, or Western food in general. It is always a disappointment and the local dishes are just so much nicer.

4) When you are in Phuket don’t book expensive tours. Rent a scooter and discover the island yourself. It is very easy to navigate and there are signs that lead you to the main sights.

5) Try to look for options to volunteer in those places and give back. There are so many schools or orphanages that are desperate for help or you can help protect the environment by cleaning up the beaches for example.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: Where do you want to visit next?

logo: My list is long and I just ordered a whole bunch of Lonely Planet guide books to look through. I hope this will make my decision easier! There are just so many awesome places on this planet to visit. But I think it will be South East Asia again. Thought about stopping in Bangkok for a few days and then making my way to Vietnam. Have heard so many fascinating stories by fellow travelers and it is a big dream of mine to go backpacking through that country. Either this or Japan. Just love to learn about new cultures.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: Has there been any similarities that you’ve found between your own culture and the culture in other countries?

logo: Mhhh, that is a difficult question. The Germans are known for the fact that they are very punctual, efficient, hard-working, accurate, organized, honest and lack humor. Those are obviously clichés but there is some truth in it too. I think Dutch and English people do have a quite similar culture, but I prefer their sense of humor to ours 😉 People in Asia are very hard working too, but apart from that, their culture is very different.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: Any advice for people who want to travel?

logo: It is worth it! Try to go at least once a year to a place you haven’t been before and always remember that traveling doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive. There are always ways to save money. Use Couchsurfing, stay in hostels instead of hotels and organize your own trip instead of booking an organized tour by a travel agency. You are way more independent that way. Save money and you can choose where you want to go and if you want to stay in one place longer.

What is also really helpful is to learn a few words of the country’s language you are going to. A hello and thank you in the local language goes a long way and make things easier.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: What has been the best part about traveling and what has been the most challenging?

logo: The best thing about traveling has been that I got the chance to meet people I probably wouldn’t have encountered in everyday life. Their stories have been inspiring and make me want to travel even more. Travel has taught me that we have to go through the world with open eyes and admire what is around us.

Even though I had a wonderful time in South East Asia traveling solo, sometimes I really wanted to have some close friends around to share those moments. You do meet a lot of people but having someone around you, you know for years is different. I spoke to my friends on Facebook and Skype but that wasn’t the same thing. I hope I get the chance to take them with me at some point and experience everything all over again with them.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: Is there anything you’ve encountered in a different country that you wish your own country had?

logo: I wish we would be more grateful. We are so lucky that we are born in countries which are safe and offer us a perspective. Furthermore I wish people would smile more and just be more relaxed in general. And if Germany could get some good, genuine Thai restaurants then I could no be happier 😉

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 Follow Katrin’s travels and get more tips for around the world at:

www.travelerslittletreasures.com

Instagram: @travelerslittletreasures

Photographer: Val Walis

BY CAILIN BURKE

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VALToday we’re featuring photographer Val Walis, who has a unique approach to photography and is always trying new techniques. First hand, I’ve spent time with her in the dark room while she has created photos and seen all of the creative leaps she has taken. Now, a college student, Val has spent three years focusing mainly on her photography but also happens to be talented in jewelry making and sculpture. After looking at her work more in depth and talking to her, I’ve noticed that these two other interests of hers play a large role in her photos. Most of her work featured below is what is called experimental cameraless photography and involves taking found objects, placing them directly on photo paper, and exposing that, rather than exposing light through a negative onto the photo paper. Her pieces often have multiple objects placed in juxtaposition with one another to create something even more interesting. Most people think of photography as taking a Nikon or Canon camera and capturing a nature scene, architecture or people. Although Val has some great photography like that as well, I had never heard of cameraless photography before meeting her, so I thought it would be the perfect thing to showcase to you all.

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Check out some of her photos below, some of which include camera photography as well. If you want to see them bigger, just click on any photo!

As for Val right now, she is continuing to study photography and create more pieces to develop her breadth of work. She has also worked directly assisting a local photographer to gain even more experience in the photography world. I’ve always been a big fan of Val’s pieces and love how much nature, textures, and a non traditional approach to photography make up her work. It’s always fun to see her process in the dark room and watch her reveal a new piece that she created by throwing sand, feathers, or even her own jewelry atop photo paper. For the future Val says, “I don’t ever want to stop my creative process, although I know it will probably take on more forms than I know now.”