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This is the Ktcraig design blog. Here I highlight recent projects or releases of new books, give my latest travel ideas, and showcase DIY design ideas and visual inspirations.

Filtering by Category: Photography

Spring in Provincetown

Katie Craig

Unfortunately our winter did not involve any flights to warm weather getaways, but we had to mark Spring somehow! So we decided to zip down to Provincetown for a couple of nights during the kids April break. I have to say I may prefer Spring in P-town over its Summer-crazed self! It was easy, fun, and not crowded at all.

We met old friends at the Harbor Hotel. I love this hotel because it has a cool design, sits a bit out of the fray, is a lovely beach stroll away from town, and has easy access to the incredible dunes. Plus it doesn't hurt that the place has a is really reasonable and has a beautiful outdoor fire pit with a view of the sea.

I love the courtyard rooms because they open right onto the grass which is a perfect spot for bocci and lounging at the picnic tables. We got a Courtyard suite with an extra cot and it fit us and our 2 kids beautifully with a cool frosted sliding door to separate their room from ours and two small bathrooms.

The Hotel sits just across the street from the bay which is so nice to spend the mornings exploring, searching for fairy size sea glass, or (in our case) giving the kids kite sailing lessons.

We really lucked out on the weather so took full advantage of our time there. If you go, you MUST check out the dunes. It is other-worldly and mind blowing. You literally step off the road and immediately into what feels like a moon scape. Sand as far as the eye can see. If you are up for it, walk straight ahead from the entrance path for about an hour and you will eventually hit the sea. It is a rare thing to be so far out in wilderness without really any effort! Along the way you may see some of the famous and fascinating little beach shacks worthy of plenty of oohs and ahhhs. It is hard to believe people stay in them. One has to wonder how they get food out there but they are so beautiful. To access the dunes take Snail Road til you get to Highway 6 and the entrance is directly across from you. Bring water!

It was a bit early in the year for some of the restaurants but we liked a lot of the spots we found open. Walk into town on the beach for breakfast, or bike in for lunch. Favorite Finds: East End Market for lunch and "supplies". Number one reason? Super nice folks that run it. But they also have excellent sandwiches, tons of options, and really anything you could ask for. The Box Lunch was good for all those needy eaters like gluten free, vegan and so on and had plenty for us just regulah folk too. The kids loved the Juice Bar at 141 Bradford Natural Market. A bit pricey but I loved it for its beautiful design, the delicious bread, and the good coffee. But honestly, they had me with the Juice Bar logo alone! We had a nice dinner at Ciro & Sal's and were really happy for the cozy atmosphere since it got a bit chili and wet at night.

East End Market

East End Market

The Box Lunch on the left

The Box Lunch on the left

141 Bradford Natural Market and Juice Bar.

141 Bradford Natural Market and Juice Bar.

LOVE this logo.

LOVE this logo.

The Juice bar

The Juice bar

Ciro & Sal's (lower image from their website)

Ciro & Sal's (lower image from their website)

Walking about town is nice and it is really worth going up the Pilgrim Tower for the view. Check out: The Shell Shop, Salt Supply PtownWhalers Wharf, and Room 68. And be sure to just pop in and out of as many galleries as you can. There is a LOT of lovely artwork coming out of this town. 

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If you do go in early Spring, pop over to Race Point Beach and look out for Whales. We saw SOOO many it felt like a page from Robert McCloskey's "Burt Dow: Deep-Water Man" (one of our family's favorite children's books). So much so, we decided to go on a whale watch to see more!

If you decide to do the same, it is worth making a reservation. We were lucky and managed to get on board last minute and it was well worth it. Even the "naturalist" leading the tour couldn't hide her amazement at the amount of whales but also at the variety of species. We saw Humpback, Right, Minke, Sei, and even Fin whales! Plus, of course some beautiful dolphins and porpoises.

It was truly magical. And Provincetown did not fail to impress with a painting-worthy sunset spreading over the sea just as we touched the shore to head home.

 

So, if you see a deal like this one
from TravelZoo, don't even think about it—
just Spring for it!

My birthday week should be my runaway week.

Katie Craig

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© Katie Craig
© Katie Craig Tulum for Two
© Katie Craig Tulum Decor

My birthday, hits in the last week of February. Absolutely the worst week of the year (in New England). Every year I think my memory may have exaggerated my dislike of winter. I think, "Wow! I'm really ok with this whole thing! This year I will embrace the crisp cold days and see the beauty." And I do...then February hits. And I don't. I hate February! That's all there is to it.

I really should be able to run away to a warm spot every year around my birthday week and then I'd be fine! I've ALMOST managed it on a regular basis but this year it just isn't in the cards (or the wallet, actually). So, I will travel back in time to my birthday last year when my sister gave me the best birthday gift of all. She took me to Tulum Mexico for 5 nights. It was perfectly fabulous. Many friends have asked for my tips and recommendations on what to do there. Here's what I've passed along!

Tulum

First off, Tulum is a bit different than what I usually gravitate towards for a vacation. I like to be off the beaten path and Tulum is not that. There are a lot of people. The beach is lined with bathing bodies lying on lounge chairs sipping from various drinks. It took me a bit to get comfortable with the close quarters but once I did, I really enjoyed the people watching. There are a lot of completely different folks enjoying the beach side-by-side and some of the contradictions are really entertaining.

"It's an easy, breezy dress and
flip flop spot rather than
t-shirts and surf shorts."

There was a girl that obviously frequented the beach a lot. It was obvious because she opted not to wear anything but her leather colored skin and was always asleep on her back spread eagle in the sand. She lay in the same spot every day and I never saw her awake. It was fun watching the neighboring family navigate their way past her clad in their sun hats, sun shirts, zinc smeared noses and a plethora of blowup animals and floating rafts.

That said the latter was more of an anomaly than the sun sizzling girl. Yoga swans and bohemian chic couples was more the norm. Not so over-the-top-stylish that you felt you need to go buy a whole new wardrobe for the trip, but stylish as in it's a nice excuse to get a long, gauzy dress and a cute bathing suit. It's an easy, breezy, dress and flip flop spot rather than t-shirts and surf shorts. 

I would recommend going with the cash you want on hand rather than waiting to get it once there. There are plenty of easy to find cash machines but I know of a lot of people whose cards were hacked and it was traced back to those machines. Even a particularly careful friend who biked to town to get cash from a machine at the bank itself, had the same issues. Everyone accepts cards but it's nice to have some cash for tips and getting drinks from those lounge chairs.

Getting There

The airport is about an hour away from Tulum so you want to arrange for a service. A taxi will knock you back big bucks and there's no need to rent a car once there if you stay on the beach (which I feel is the only way to go). Plus if you did, you'd miss out on the best part which is using the cool cruiser bikes to get around. My sister arranged to have American Transfers pick us up and it was smooth, easy, and well worth it. If it seems too pricey to you, I have friends who took the ADO public bus and said it was fine too. 

Where to Stay (on the beach)

We stayed at Casa Violeta and I loved it. The rooms had the rustic beach-hut feel I was really hoping for but with an easy stylish flare.

We stayed in "Lily" for the first part of the our stay and it was lovely.

We stayed in "Lily" for the first part of the our stay and it was lovely.

This was the shower. And yes, that is a screen to the open air above. 

This was the shower. And yes, that is a screen to the open air above. 

© Katie Craig

Violeta also has a beautiful little restaurant on the beach which served a simple breakfast and great pizza in the evenings. It was the perfect spot to gaze at the life of the beautiful owner, Karla. She looks like the queen of all yoga swans, while bouncing her cute little baby on her bikini framed hip with little awareness to the idyllic dream-life she seems to embody. 

Our breakfast spot. 

Our breakfast spot. 

and the other direction.

and the other direction.

We then stayed in "Lotus". Also lovely and a bit more private.

We then stayed in "Lotus". Also lovely and a bit more private.

© Katie Craig
© Katie Craig

There are tons of places to stay and there are much fancier choices but Violeta's low key beauty matched my personality perfectly. I loved it. We did tour around to check out a few other places in case we were to return and here were my thoughts:

We got a tour of Casa Encantada and it was my top pick for the most romantic rooms. Ana Y Jose looked like it would be nice if you have kids with you because it had a lot of little pools here and there and a bigger area to explore and more restaurants on the property, though a bit swishy for me. Cabanas Tulum had the best location with more room on each side of the hotel so it felt a bit less crowded in front. A friend stayed at Nueva Vida de Ramiro and she loved the location and the "adults only" section which had newer, nicer rooms (pick one with a balcony!). She liked the breakfasts delivered to the room but didn't love the restaurant.

When looking for a place be pre-warned, none have what i thought of as Mexican beach shack prices, but rather American style rates—no amazing bargains to be had unless you want to camp or go stay in town which during busy seasons can mean an hour ride to the beach.

Where to Eat (and drink)

Everything in Tulum is beautiful. It is as if a designer came in and created a style guide for the whole place. I wanted to bring it all home! Beyond the beautiful style, the food is amazing. My sister is a true foodie, while often I opt for an inspiring, well-designed space. Tulum checks off both boxes at almost all spots so we were both super happy. Here are some of our top picks.

  • La Eufemia: on the beach, BEST fish tacos ever! But, it is hot in the sun so if they don't have seats available under the roof it may be good to try at another time.
© Katie Craig
© Katie Craig
  • Casa Banana: the BEST Margaritas and Ceviche Carpaccio. And is was so beautiful sitting out under the stars and twinkling lights! I loved this place.
© Katie Craig
© Katie Craig
© Katie Craig
  • Hartwood: (right across the street from Coqui Coqui) WAY too popular for my liking and very difficult to actually get in. But my sister gets in EVERYWHERE and I've never really understood how. But far be it from me to figure it out now! If you do want to go they recommend lining up at 2:00. We stopped in at about 6:00 pm to see if they could fit us in, and of course somehow they did! If you do get in, they have THE BEST ice cream I’ve ever had. I got a scoop of cheese and a scoop of cinnamon. I don’t actually like ice cream, and this was amazing. (A keepsake idea, when you get home, pick up this beautiful book!)
© Katie Craig
  • Be Tulum: Beautiful decor Worth going for a romantic cocktail or lunch. Pricey but so, so pretty. 
© Katie Craig
© Katie Craig
© Katie Craig
  • Casa Jaguar: Nice spot for dinner. Beautiful outdoor eating and cute waiters!
© Katie Craig
  • Posada Margarita: A lot of people recommend it for Italian. It was a bit out of the way for us to walk and Italian is not exactly what I desire when in Mexico, so we didn't eat there but we just went to check it out. It was really pretty with lots of candles but it was absolutely PACKED. I bumped into Jake Gyllenhaal so that was fun, but I'm not sure I would bother with that kind of wait and crowd. But I really liked the boutique. It's pricey but if you haven’t gotten anything yet, I would recommend it as the boutique to hit.

Plus extras

  • Coqui Coqui: A fancy pants spot that the movie stars like to frequent had is beautiful. It is a bit obscure but pretty cool. I bumped into Jake Gyllenhaal there (literally, almost knocked me to the ground!). I now have a mini crush on him because he seemed very humble and sweet despite the fact girls were all fluffing up around him and feigning coquettishness while he bought them expensive hats as they exclaimed how "cute" they were.
Coqui Coqui from the beach

Coqui Coqui from the beach

"...bringing home a scent is a
perfect way to remember Tulum."

Coqui has a pretty little boutique, priced for movie stars, but they also are a perfumer. I got a small bottle of "Flor de Naranja" (the bottles in the store are not nearly as pricey as online) and I'm so glad I did. Incense and scented salts are EVERYWHERE in Tulum. The smells there are really, really nice so bringing home a scent is a perfect way to remember Tulum. My sister added to my birthday with a massage for me at Cogui. It was in a truly spectacular room at the top of the building.

Coqui Coqui Massage room

Coqui Coqui Massage room

© Katie Craig
  • We also biked down south to the biosphere and tried to get to a bridge we heard had a lot of crocodiles under it. After biking for EVER, we never made it to the bridge. So it is a bit far I’d say. But I do wish we had poked our head in to the cenote right at the entrance to the jungle. We had biked for too long and weren’t sure how safe it was for 2 girls alone so turned around. Don’t bother with the cenote in the middle of town behind the wooden fence. You have to pay to get in, which we did, and it was totally nothing.
The road to the biosphere was a bit longer than expected for biking.

The road to the biosphere was a bit longer than expected for biking.

  • Zebra: Fun salsa dancing on the beach on Sunday nights.
  • The Ruins: They are worth going to but it is a bit of a bike ride so go super early before it's too hot or crowded cuz it can be VERY crowded with a long wait to get in.
© Katie Craig
  • The little shops and boutiques in Tulum all had really interesting designs. Most of them were made from containers. Once you noticed that fact, it was so fun to see what they did with a simple metal box. Seemed like the result of some great design challenge!

Tulum is a great spot for a girls getaway or romantic escape with beautiful design inspiration and delicious food. It is the perfect birthday runaway gift and I would certainly go back!

Katie Craig is available for travel writing (family, with kids, girls getaways and romantic escapes)

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My photography featured in a cookbook!

Katie Craig

blog

Last March I was asked to photograph a cookbook for Storey Publishing and I just got my advance copies of it!!! Yes, I'm really excited. I've always photographed all the food for kidstir.com, but this is the first time I was asked to photograph an entire book! I'm pleased to say, I think it came out really nicely. The book is called Classic Cookies and is filled with 40 cookie recipes. My kids loved the fact that I came home from the shoot each day with a bag of cookies, and now that the book is here, they can't wait to try out a bunch of the recipes. Here are a few of my favorites shots!

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April Vacation Destination: Anna Maria Island, Florida

Katie Craig

Anna Maria Island

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I love warm weather, I love the sea.

I live in New England—inland.

SO, I try to book a vacation every winter. I try to make it as cheap as possible by using a mileage credit card for EVERYTHING in our day to day life to get as many travel points as I can. The points mean our trips are substantially cheaper. This year we went to Anna Maria Island, Florida. The flights on JetBlue direct from Bradley to Tampa were about $180. With our credit card points we paid $22 each—roundtrip. The pretty drive from the airport is just about an hour over lovely bridges with folks fishing on every pull off and some occasional kite surfers to keep you entertained.

Florida is not normally my cup of tea BUT, I have to say we were really pleasantly surprised! Anna Maria is a sweet little island that reminded me a bit of the Bahamas. Granted, it is more congested than that, but the beaches, the water, and the wildlife were truly remarkable and the island has an incredibly welcoming vibe! All the streets end at beautiful little public access paths and walkways to the powder-white sandy beach. There are lovely little benches sprinkled along every road, and many are trolley stops for the free open-air trolley that can take you from one end all the way past the other end of the island. There are pristine public parks that line the beaches. and two fishing piers (the rod & reel and the city pier) scattered with little kids fishing on their own, pelicans keeping watch, and a general laid back vibe. I loved that there are no railings, no signs that say keep away, and that you can get a beer for $1.50. If there are streets posted with no parking signs, just turn the corner and the next street practically says "please, park here!" "be our guest!" with just a little note asking to "keep your tires off the pavement",  ..."please".

I would highly recommend it as a quick getaway. Here's some pics to give you a sense of the place:

The water is really amazing.

The water is really amazing.

The mornings and afternoons are quietest on the beach. We liked Bean Point the best.

The mornings and afternoons are quietest on the beach. We liked Bean Point the best.

We found mid day was so nice if we had umbrellas. No drinking allowed on the beach (and it is enforced) which seems to keep it nice and quite!

We found mid day was so nice if we had umbrellas. No drinking allowed on the beach (and it is enforced) which seems to keep it nice and quite!

The flora and fauna was beautiful. I loved the sound of the breezes blowing through palm fronds. I thought these bluey-silver palms were so pretty! The tropical version of our blue spruce pine trees!

The flora and fauna was beautiful. I loved the sound of the breezes blowing through palm fronds. I thought these bluey-silver palms were so pretty! The tropical version of our blue spruce pine trees!

We rented a boat from Keyes Marina and it was definitely our favorite day! We cruised out to Egmont Island. It was covered with birds, gopher tortoises, a light house, and walking paths The kids explored and discovered remnants of an old village from 1906. We were the only ones there and it felt like a scene from Robinson Crusoe.

It was deserted.

It was deserted.

Manatees are a common sighting and surprisingly big!

Manatees are a common sighting and surprisingly big!

We were lucky enough to have a herd of Manatees float under our boat along the way.

Seafood Shack
Rum Punch

Before heading back we searched for a good happy hour. The Seafood Shack it was. What a great find! The food was excellent, as were the drinks. And turns out, Monday is Rumday!

We rented our house from Island Real Estate. They were super nice and helpful and the house was really clean. The prices listed on their site do not include the fees and taxes so they do cost more than your first impression. But we loved our house, particularly the yard. I highly recommend getting one with a pool especially if you have kids!

The shelling is great.

The shelling is great.

As I said, the wildlife is amazing. These guys are waiting for a friendly manatee that was visiting swimmers to come in closer. At the same time, about 12 dolphins were leaping around  catching fish . Schools of fish and rays were swimming in front of me  and as I turned back to the beach a bald eagle flew by with a huge fish in its talons! I was looking up at him and almost bumped into the ubiquitous large birds (I think they're herons) that stand next to every fisherman. It was almost comical.

As I said, the wildlife is amazing. These guys are waiting for a friendly manatee that was visiting swimmers to come in closer. At the same time, about 12 dolphins were leaping around catching fish. Schools of fish and rays were swimming in front of me  and as I turned back to the beach a bald eagle flew by with a huge fish in its talons! I was looking up at him and almost bumped into the ubiquitous large birds (I think they're herons) that stand next to every fisherman. It was almost comical.

IMG_3049.jpg

Surprisingly there are not many places to eat ON the water. We went to the "Sandbar" the first night because we arrived late. The meal was fine but the location was the reason to go. We went back during the day for a drink and I don't recommend that. I had the worst Pina Colada I've ever had, but I would go for lunch or a light dinner. It's a bit crowded but they don't blast the touristy music, and the people that work there are super nice (I loved our waiter Thaddeus!) and again, the location is what it is all about.

Each night people gather on the beach to watch the sunset. And we were always amongst them. I like this tradition. It's amazing to think we all are looking at the same sun at the end of each day, no matter where we are isn't it?

Each night people gather on the beach to watch the sunset. And we were always amongst them. I like this tradition. It's amazing to think we all are looking at the same sun at the end of each day, no matter where we are isn't it?

Katie Craig is available for travel writing (with kids, girls getaways and romantic escapes)

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