*notcot - 03.21.15 , 15:40 - 1 Notes

Laguna Lodge: Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

laguna000.jpg Sometimes you need a place to truly relax, hide away, and gather your thoughts. Since we were in Guatemala for Jackson’s wedding, we decided to add on a few days to do just that… and Shawn found the eco-luxury 6 room resort and nature reserve, The Laguna Lodge at Lake Atitlan - the perfect getaway add-on to our Antigua plans. Since the lodge is in Santa Cruz La Laguna, Lake Atitlan, on the western highlands of Sololá, you take a car to Panajachel and then hop on a boat for about 10 minutes. To get anywhere from the lodge you can either hop on another boat, or walk along the pathways along the lakeshore. Though, I honestly can’t tell you much about waving down the boats to hop from town to town, since once we were situated, we realized the ultimate break was really to just hide out at the lodge, explore the 100 acres of nature reserve, delicious locally grown, organic, vegetarian fare, and watch the sunsets over the volcanoes and the lake! Of the 6 suites, the majority of couples we met did seem to be American 20-30 somethings as well - but this was the part of our trip that was more about a stunning oasis tucked away from the chaos of everyday life. Two nights at the Laguna Lodge, and we were feeling rejuvenated, relaxed, and ready to get back to reality! Take a look at the stunning space on the next page.

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*notcot - 03.19.15 , 13:00 - 0 Notes

7 days in 50 Instagrams: Guatemala!

gua0.jpg WOW. What an adventure our week in Guatemala has been! Headed down to Antigua for our Tasteologie editor’s wedding, so of course we had to explore a bit while there, but the amount of different experiences we’ve had still blows my mind. From landing in darkness at GUA and watching the sunrise (and volcano erupt a little) on our drive to Antigua, to exploring (and tasting) Antigua, to the beautiful wedding and before/after events… to heading out to Lake Atitlan and the stunning waterfront, super-eco, all vegetarian Laguna Lodge on 100 acres of nature reserve… to a pit stop at Iximche ruins… back in to Guatemala City, where we end up getting an amazing look at the city thanks to one of our long time readers (and old friend’s of the bride!)… from a peek at the older city center, to the newest city within a city, Paseo Cayala… tasting award winning Guatemalan coffee and even more fantastic food at Flor de Lis… before heading back to LA.

OH! And there are penguins! You know our Puma Penguins (from 2009) - they inspired Pingüi, the mascot of Flor de Lis! Which is even tattooed on the chef’s forearm! But more on that later…

So first things first - here’s a look at our quick, epic Guatemalan adventures in 50 @NOTlabs and @RShawnSims Instagrams as it all happened in real time. My head is still spinning from how many different things we’ve seen and experienced - and HUGE congrats to Jackson + Tish on their special super-pi-day wedding! Yay for 3.14 15!

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*notcot - 03.16.15 , 16:34 - 0 Notes

Guatemala - BRB

backsoon.jpg Hi! We’re currently in Guatemala the last few days with minimal internet… but back super soon! To see what we’re up to while exploring Antigua, Lake Atitlan, and Guatemala City, take a peek at the @NOTlabs Instagram! … and adventure/inspiration updates coming here soon of course!!!

*notcot - 03.02.15 , 10:27 - 0 Notes

11 days in 100 Instagrams: Winter in Alberta

winter0.jpgThis post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, we roadtripped up from LA for a fall adventure. In Part II, we are experiencing all that Alberta Winter has to offer! Follow the series to see what inspires us along the way!

First things first - THANK YOU, Travel Alberta! I’m sad to say our Alberta adventures have come to a close. It has been a fantastic journey - exploring incredible places, meeting amazing people, doing new things, and road tripping to clear our minds, and get reinvigorated for the second decade of NOTCOT! Shawn (and Bucky) and I had a blast - with amazing animal encounters, feeling tiny amongst the stunning Rockies, climbing walls of ice, and so so much more… So a huge thank you, for helping for me to step out of my comfort zone, and get out of my head a bit while still simultaneously working. It has been so much fun to explore and share it all as we went! And we’ll definitely be back! (Canmore, Jasper, and one day catching those northern lights are on my list…)

So while there are proper feature posts on our adventures - for the super preview with all the crazy little details and inspiration along the way - see it as we shared it in real time on the NOTlabs Instagram. You can see Part I rounded up here - 8 days in 100 Instagrams - Alberta Summer, and Part II - 11 days of Alberta Winter in 100 Instagrams on the next page!

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*notcot - 02.28.15 , 09:30 - 0 Notes

Operation Window Seat: LA + NOTCOT HQ!

home0.jpg The YYC - LAX flight had a gorgeous path through the rockies and cruised the coast along LA. This last trip, i had some stranger LA questions than usual - hearing “Is this your first time in snow?” and “Do you live downtown/in the city?” and “Do you like ocean or mountains?” I’ve also had so many people assume that NOTCOT is based in NY, SF, LONDON, and so many other places over the years…

So to set the record straight - NOTCOT is based in LA! I’m a born and raised LA kid who has bounced around all over and landed back in LA the last few years (it really is my favorite home base to live in and travel out of!) And as for LA - for those who looked at me perplexed this last adventure - you can see within minutes you can run up mountain trails or roll down to the beach… and see snow on the mountains in the background!

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*notcot - 02.24.15 , 22:00 - 0 Notes

Ice Climbing with Yamnuska - Johnston Canyon

climb0.jpg This post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, we roadtripped up from LA for a fall adventure. In Part II, we are experiencing all that Alberta Winter has to offer! Follow the series to see what inspires us along the way!

Ice Climbing! As far as our itinerary for this adventure, I knew that the intro to ice climbing with Yamnuska Mountain Adventures would be the most ambitious new experience on the list. Based in Canmore, they are over 30 years old, and have an impressive (intimidating?) team of incredibly qualified guides. In fact, as i research to write this post, i’m still floored by the background of our ice climbing instructor, Barry Blanchard, who has been with Yamnuska since the beginning! A quick internet search, shows he’s pretty much a legend in the alpine world… and as Shawn and I know, he’s also one of the nicest, most patient, passionate, intelligent teachers we’ve experienced! I don’t even know where to start - so take a peek at his wikipedia entry for the highlights, he’s also one of Patagonia’s first ambassadors, just published his memoir, and is a go to by Hollywood for alpine related films.

But all that aside, before we got to know Barry, we knew little about ice climbing at all. We met with him, learned the gear basics, put our crampons on, and hiked into Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park to the upper falls. Once there, he walked us through the basics, and got us climbing! The experience was AMAZING - also made me realize how much i need to get into shape so we can get even further next time! Take a peek on the next page for the experience, and the breathtaking icy falls of Johnston Canyon.

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*notcot - 02.21.15 , 18:20 - 0 Notes

The Prairie Creek Inn - Aspen Tree House

tcpi0.jpg This post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, we roadtripped up from LA for a fall adventure. In Part II, we are experiencing all that Alberta Winter has to offer! Follow the series to see what inspires us along the way!

Everyone needs a relaxing, magical getaway - the type that forces you to stop, relax, and just revel in the beauty around you and the company you’re with. We just found that at The Prairie Creek Inn in Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, which is about 3 hours east from Banff and Jasper. Even spending a mere 20 hours there, Shawn and i feel rejuvenated to continue on our epic Alberta adventure! This luxury B&B is actually a group of cottages spread throughout their large property (there’s even a creek running through!), so you feel more like you’re staying in a private cabin in the woods… only with a delicious restaurant, wonderful hosts, and all the amenities you could need (firewood, snacks, movies, and more.)

We had the chance to stay in the Aspen Tree House - just up the hill from the main lodge, and it truly is magical… from the moment you walk up to it in the clearing between the trees, to waking up in the morning and pulling back the curtains to expose the windows on two sides of the cabin that make you feel like you’re right in the woods. How anyone can watch the tv in the corner over the fire place between the two HUGE windows when snow is falling, is beyond me. The tree house interior is that perfect balance between comfortably homey, and spaciously modern. Even with just a few hours there, we had to make use of the fire pit (i’ve never done a fire in the snow!) It was fantastic to chop some wood and curl up by the fire after dinner as the snow fell around us. Take a peek into the Prairie Creek Inn Aspen Tree House on the next page…

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*notcot - 02.19.15 , 23:30 - 0 Notes

Maligne Canyon Icewalk

ice0.jpg This post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, we roadtripped up from LA for a fall adventure. In Part II, we are experiencing all that Alberta Winter has to offer! Follow the series to see what inspires us along the way!

Firstly, wow. ICEWALK!!! Today we went on an Icewalk in Maligne Canyon in Jasper National Park with Maligne Adventures and it was unbelievably beautiful. I’ve always known ice is beautiful - who doesn’t love or admire an impressive ice ball in their drink? But WOW. I’m still spinning with how inspiring and impressive the ice formations we walked over, under, and through are! From the walls of ice forming on the mountainsides, to the shelves of ice we precariously walk across, to the incredible patterns of what almost looks like bubbles of ice that form from water dripping down… I honestly can’t find the words to tell you how beautiful it all is - so go see the pictures on the next page!

Side note - while you can go wander Maligne Canyon on your own, i’d definitely suggest doing a tour the first time. They provide you with crampons/boots if you don’t have them, and the experienced guide is a wealth of knowledge… not to mention there are a lot of beautiful areas to see off trail as well as more precarious areas that an untrained explorer may not know about. Anyhow - to the next page for all the pictures!

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*notcot - 02.18.15 , 09:50 - 0 Notes

Edmonton Silver Skate Festival

snow0.jpg This post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, we roadtripped up from LA for a fall adventure. In Part II, we are experiencing all that Alberta Winter has to offer! Follow the series to see what inspires us along the way!

When i think winter and snow - first things that pop to mind are skating on a frozen pond and making a snowman. So when we first got in to Alberta for this Winter adventure, it seems only appropriate to start things off at the Silver Skate Festival in Edmonton at Hawrelak Park - and on Family Day no less! The free festival was a plethora of all things winter fun - so many families skating together on the frozen lake (even pulling each other on sleds across it), bundled up kids running around through snow mazes and sliding down ice slides, beautiful huge snow sculptures, snow blocks you could move and build forts out of… and watch out for the dogsleds coming around the lake! (FYI, that ringing bell, isn’t a bike behind you - the dogs are coming! Learned that one fast!) In addition to all the demos (from blacksmithing to curling and more) there was live music in a few spots, ongoing performances, and even a zombie 5k and triathlon. With an incredible staff of volunteers and supporters, Silver Skate Festival is now in its 25th year and still free for all to enjoy. It’s hard not to love the snow with such a vibrant, energetic festival! Take a peek on the next page for my highlights…

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*notcot - 02.16.15 , 22:40 - 0 Notes

Inspiration: YEG - Edmonton Airport

yeg0.jpg This post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, we roadtripped up from LA for a fall adventure. In Part II, we are experiencing all that Alberta Winter has to offer! Follow the series to see what inspires us along the way!

We’re back in Alberta! This time it’s nearly 2 weeks of wintry adventures! Lots and lots of NOTCOT firsts (perfect for kicking off decade 2!) that i can’t wait to experience (and share!) with all of you. But first… instead of roadtripping up from LA like last time, we’ve flown up and rented a car to explore the snowiness properly.

So first stop was YEG, and while the flight from 85 degree weather to below freezing was a smidge nerve racking… and i did feel ridiculous in the LA heat in snow boots (but it was easier to wear than pack them)… I must admit i’ve been excited for a taste of winter, but i never expected to feel so inspired simply stepping off the PLANE! The Edmonton Airport manages to make even waiting in line at immigration more pleasant with a luscious, tall, green living wall! And when you pass through that to baggage claim - there are fun sports dioramas within them - complete with tvs to inform and occupy your time while you wait. Even those who aren’t into sports can’t help but be fascinated. So take a peek on the next page to see what grabbed me (and distracted me) from just how cold it looked as we flew in…

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*notcot - 01.22.15 , 16:20 - 2 Notes

Random: DTLA + KINGS + Silver Lake

dtla0.jpg Staying local in Los Angeles lately, i’ve noticed a bit of randomness surfacing on Instagram worth rounding up here! (What do you DO with all your instagrams? It really doesn’t feel like the best place to keep things you want to find again later… So pulling some favorites here helps me find them later!)

Here’s a peek into some recent east side of LA adventures (Yes, coming from the coast, DTLA is definitely east side to me!) - from wandering Downtown LA and driving around in the LA Aqueduct (that you have seen in many a movie/tv show) to going to my first NHL game with Travel Alberta (Go, Kings, Go!) and wandering around Silver Lake to peek into the brand new Mission Workshop and Shinola stores… and more!

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*notcot - 12.11.14 , 13:30 - 0 Notes

Packaging + Design of BioLite

biolitemain.jpg Ok, so by now, it’s pretty well known that BioLite with its “Energy Everywhere” tagline - has everything you need to not only survive, but charge your gadgets whether you’re camping or weathering inclement weather. With their first product, the CampStove you can get things heating with twigs - no fuel needed! AND the energy can be used to power your devices via USB. The Portable Grill is the perfect add on to expand its capabilities… and my favorite, the KettlePot is a brilliant multipurpose piece that not only serves as a pot and kettle, but also a brilliant case/space saver for the CampStove itself! As they keep expending the line - there is now also a Base Camp stove, as well as the KettleCharge for those times when your power goes out, but you can still light the stove - simply boil and charge!

So yes, they are all incredibly functional for a multitude of situations. And our NOTFZJ80 Land Cruiser feels just a bit safer with them packed - just in case! But what i love even MORE than that about the line - is the packaging and design details! Everything is so thoughtfully created… from the minimal recycled packaging that just pops off the shelf (making them extra awesome holiday gifts!) to the playfully elegant color choices, and smart details that make them intuitive to use. They were kind enough to send over the CampStove and Portable Grill before our epic Alberta Adventures, and we had to add the KettlePot into the mix too! Check out all the packaging and design details on the next page!

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*notcot - 11.14.14 , 18:08 - 3 Notes

NOTFZJ80: ARB Outback Solutions Drawers

drawerMAIN.jpg Here’s the latest in our adventures with the NOTFZJ80 - we realized it was time to get more organized before the next trip! So ARB was kind enough to help us out with some of their ARB Outback Solutions Modular Roller Drawer Systems. While we were considering building our own, when it came down to time/energy/money… and weight, it was going to be hard to beat their stainless steel frame, structural ply top with UV stable carpeting and aluminum and plastic details. You can easily customize your configuration between two depths of rolling drawers and fixed or rolling floors. You can stack them, have two side by side, or just install one. While they have special fit kits for popular trucks and SUVs, you can easily adapt them to just about anything you can imagine. (Check out all the details on this pdf.)

After much discussion, we opted for two rolling drawers, both with rolling floors (it’s so convenient! if you don’t want to use one, you can just lock it.), and the fit kit to create a perfectly flushed platform top. When the tailgate is closed, you don’t even see them! While we were tempted to get more drawers to stack, it is nice to leave space for the random things that will inevitably stack up in the trunk, and know you have a chance for some rear visibility. So far i’m loving them - honestly wondering how i haven’t always put these in my previous SUVs. It’s SO useful! They fit a ridiculous amount, open and close so easily, and basically just look like you lifted the floor a bit. Take a look at our unboxing, install, and filling them up on the next page!

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*notcot - 11.03.14 , 15:06 - 1 Notes

Ojai, CA: Summer Camp, FIG, Tipple & Ramble

ojai0.jpg A friend needed to go pick something up in Ojai yesterday, so i tagged along so long as he let me check out some of the newer little shops in town… We found the adorable Summer Camp in an old gas station, FIG down an incredible vine covered walkway (above!), and picnic store Tipple & Ramble under a bright red woodpecker… see some of the fun products (many of which aren’t online) we discovered on the next page!

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*notcot - 10.06.14 , 17:14 - 1 Notes

Nomadix Towels

nomadix0.jpg Just home and jetlagging after my first completely work free vacation in some time to Tokyo! Arrived to this adorable orange wooden mini crate from Nomadix, a local Southern California based startup that has created the ultimate versatile, stylish pack towel that can be used for everything from camping to yoga to beach adventures and more! I’m used to the usual boring single color pack towels - lightweight, absorbent, quick drying towels for camping/backpacking… i even used to leave one in the car for beach and other spontaneous adventures. The dimensions however were never quite right to lay out on. So far, beyond the stylish designs (even the bottom has a lovely print!) these Nomadix towels are 100% recycled and rigorously tested to hold up for years. Love their motto - “Own less. Do More. Buy one towel that does it all, instead of three that don’t.” They had a successful Kickstarter funding, and now you can purchase Nomadix Towels on Indigogo! Take a peek at details of the unboxing on the next page, and you can be assured that this towel will be packed for our NOTFZJ80 adventures!

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