About Calyer Designs

Marketing + Designs • mabel by Calyer Designs
Calyer Designs is a small marketing + design company with big ideas. Our mission is to help our clients stand out from the rest–whether you’re a small business just opening your doors or an established company looking for a change.

We make it a point to listen to your ideas and turn them into a reality, and pride ourselves in customization. Whether you’re in need of social media support, website development, graphic design, marketing direction or branding, we’ve got your back. Calyer Designs has worked with a variety of clients: from hay farms and farm breweries, to non-profits and government affairs agencies, to lifestyle + athlete brands.

In June 2018, Calyer Designs launched Mabel by Calyer Designs, a sub-brand focusing specifically on hand lettering, design, and wedding + event stationery.

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Travel

Heading South Through Italy

After Lake Como, we traveled to Florence for two nights. We met the most fascinating couple on the train ride down: both retired, they travel around the world 90 days at a time and return home to Peru for the next 90 until they’re eligible for their next Visa. Sign. Me. Up.

 

Florence was a bit overwhelming when we arrived – attribute that to the combination of walking through a few piazzas, Sunday, the heat and our overstuffed backpacks. Once we were settled, we escaped the crowds to the other side of the Arno where we found a cute spot, Osteria San Niccolò, for a bite to eat and of course, some wine. We squeezed into a table and immediately picked up on the strong New York accent coming from the couple next to us. They were both retired – a schoolteacher and firefighter with the FDNY traveling the reverse itinerary of ours and visiting their son who was studying abroad.

 

From there, with their suggestion, we walked up the first of what would be thousands of stairs climbed on the trip to watch the sun set over Florence at Piazza Michelangelo. Get past the crowd, and you get this view. A-mazing.

 

 

Our full day in Florence was spent doing Florence things: walking around, visiting the Ponte Vecchio, seeing the ‘fake’ David (note: the Accademia Gallery is closed on Monday so if your trip to Florence is made or broken by seeing the real statue, plan accordingly), checking out the Il Duomo di Firenze, shopping leather, and our favorite part of the day, exploring the roads less traveled. We found our favorite pasta of the entire trip — I’ll add, the most simple dish on the menu, too — at Ristorante Gustavino. I made myself a promise to really SEE Florence and Rome this time around and take notice to all of the smaller things surrounding the big things. It worked.

 

We left Florence for Rome, where we would spend another two nights on the last of our ‘touring’ part of the trip. We had the pleasure of having the same itinerary as Trump – yay. Lucky enough, we dodged him the ENTIRE time we were there (somehow) and besides the upped-security and the 100s of military and police lining the streets with machine guns, we weren’t really affected. We toured Vatican City the afternoon we arrived and prepped ourselves for the 400-stair climbs that would soon come on the Amalfi Coast with a trip to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica (note: pay the extra two Euro to take the ‘lift’ if you want to see the panoramic view of Vatican City and its surrounding, you’ll thank me later). Regardless of how you get to the top, it’s well worth the trip up. Check out this view.

 

 

Rome Day Two: We got up early and were at the Colosseum when it opened (highly recommended because you dodge a bit of the crowds and you avoid the heat). It’s just as amazing seeing it a second time as it was the first. We caught a bit of the heat when we walked over to the Roman Forum, but a beautiful day made for great photos.

 

 

Next were Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps and the Pantheon. We powered through and somehow managed to get all the sites in by 1:30p. Then came the much-needed glass of wine, which turned into almost five hours and four glasses of wine each, and new German friends at Da Fortunato on a cobblestone ally next to the Pantheon. We ended the day in Trastevere – an area that came recommended on multiple occasions and is described as the ‘Brooklyn of Rome.’ If I visit Rome again, I will definitely spend a majority of my time there, and recommend you doing the same.

 

The final leg of our trip – and the one I looked forward to most – was the Amalfi Coast. It’s been on my bucket list for a while now and let me tell you, it didn’t disappoint. It’s breathtaking (if you can get past all the stairs/hills). We added a bit of time onto our trip from Rome to Praiano, which also came recommended as you hug the coast and get your first real taste of its beauty before stepping foot onto the land. If you read Como, copy and paste the statement about driving here. It’s the exact same, and quite the spectacle. Its crazy. Kudos to all the bus drivers, (mini) car drivers, pedestrians, bikers and Vespa riders.

 

We stayed in Praiano, a much smaller town than Amalfi and Positano, and it was exactly what I wanted. We could easily escape any crowd and it had a hometown feel to it. So much so we made friends we would see multiple times a day for the remainder of our stay. The restaurants, gelato, and beaches were great. If you go, try out Kasai. It was some of the best food and best service we had the whole trip. We spent the first day on the local beach, a quick 400 steps (ha) down from the villa, which sat in the Marina del Praia. The water is crystal clear and calm – my kind of beach, and best yet, NO SAND! But you do have to deal with big rocks which I’ll take any day over being covered in sand.

 

Amalfi Coast Day Two: Early rising for a boat ride to Capri. Hands down my favorite day of the entire trip. Capri is breathtaking. The rocks are white and the water is even bluer than in Praiano and Positano. The grottos are gorgeous and the beaches are unlike anything I’ve been to. We had the afternoon to ourselves on the south side of the island at Marina del Piccola. We splurged and rented two beach chairs in the middle of the rocks, less than a foot from the water. I could’ve stayed forever. The boat ride back to Praiano was just as nice as the ride in, but with twice the waves and a rough sea. Not fun if you don’t have a pair of sea legs.

 

 

Heidi unfortunately left Sunday morning, so I ventured down to Furore after dropping her off with the driver. It’s a more remote beach with a pretty unique view. It was the perfect day: sun, warmth, a book and a water bottle filled with some wine.

 

 

I decided to spend my final day of vacation in Positano. It definitely was more touristy, which was expected, but I quickly got over that once I got myself settled into a beach chair with this view.

 

 

I stayed in and cooked myself some pasta from the little store down the street, and soaked up every bit of relaxation I could before heading back to the real world. Cue this face ?…

 

I was realizing one of the best parts of the trip was the people we met. Whether they knew of our small towns, were eerily similar to our parents, knew all the little hot spots in our hometowns or where we vacation, or had houses/apartments within walking distance of ours or someone we knew… It was unbelievable the connections we made halfway round the world.

 

It’s amazing what two weeks away from the real world, some sun, some wine, good company, and good sites can do for you.

24-ish Hours on Lake Como

Riding a bus around Lake Como is not for the faint of heart. To paint you a picture, the roadways range from about as wide as a Fiat to about as wide as a Fiat and bus next to each other — and that’s being generous. At least a dozen times, cars had to reverse down a windy road or around a blind turn so we could squeeze by … and by squeeze, I mean you pretty much brush mirrors with the car or the building next to you. But, we made it safely and the trip out to Menaggio is beyond worth it.

 

 

We kicked off our quick stay on Lake Como with a delicious pizza and some wine at a little restaurant overlooking the lake. It was delicious and just what we needed after the ride in. We spent about an hour at Lido di Menaggio, a resort-like area with a beach and pool right on the lake before jumping on a ferry across the lake.

 

 

We spent the afternoon and evening in Belaggio, one of the three most popular villages about 20 minutes by boat from Menaggio. We arrived to a mass of tourists, expected after hearing it’s the most popular of the three. We skipped the shopping that everyone raves about and decided to eat and drink our way through the village. It was perfect. I mean it’s impossible not to have a great day when this was your view.

 

 

We caught the last ferry back to Menaggio and called it a night after grabbing some wine and watching the sun set over the lake.

 

We headed out of town relatively early Sunday morning, but not before stopping for a bite to eat and a cappuccino down the hill in the center of Menaggio. Our ride back into Como wasn’t as bad as the ride in — whether it was the newer bus, different driver or the fact we knew what to expect, I don’t know.

 

Lake Como, I see why so many people rave about you. I would love to head back at the end of the season to enjoy the warmer weather and water, and to check out Varenna. Until next time…

Two Days in Switzerland

Let’s preface the somewhat sporadic trip abroad with this: a stressful, not-great day back in March, I was scrolling through Instagram and came to a few posts from my favorite duo, Lauren Bullen (@gypsea_lust) and Jack Morris (@doyoutravel). Inspired, I made the ultimate decision I was going to travel this year, whether someone wanted to come or not. Coincidentally, I got a text from my friend saying, “let’s go to Europe.” I think my immediate “yes” shocked her.

 

Fifty-five  thousand points later (thanks Chase Sapphire and @thepointsguy for teaching me how to get ridiculous deals and work the rewards system), I landed myself a round-trip ticket for $68. Destinations: Lucerne, Switzerland; Lake Como, Florence, Rome, and Praiano, Italy.

 

Fast forward to Wednesday, May 17, I’m on a Delta flight from JFK to Zurich, escaping the 90+ degree heat wave hitting New York and two weeks of work.

 

Zurich to Lucerne, Day One

It’s about a CHF30.00 and an hour train ride from Zurich Airport to Lucerne. I stepped off the train and was welcomed by Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge), blue-green water, the Alps and Old Town. It was (is) picturesque.

 

 

I had the day to myself, while Heidi — delayed, canceling a flight, rebooking a flight, running across three terminals at JFK to make a connecting flight, landing in Portugal to a group of striking security guards, etc. — prayed she would actually make the Switzerland portion of our trip. Spoiler, she did.

 

Our hotel didn’t open until 11:30a, so to kill time, I sat at one of the few open waterfront restaurants on the cobblestone walk and had a caffé and a Chäs Barmettler (Lucerne Cheese Pie), aka a delicious gruyere quiche. Yum, to both. Maybe the coffee more than the pie.

 

 

We had a last minute change of heart on where we were staying in Lucerne and ended up booking a room at Hotel Pickwick. Its reception area is a pub and you get your keys at the bar. Our room, adorably quaint with two twin beds and no frills, had an unobstructed view of Kapellbrücke. Win.

 

 

I took the remainder of the day to walk around and explore Old Town Lucerne and Kornmarket. It was warm and a bit cloudy, but still gorgeous. Happy hour seems like a religion there, with the bars filling up at around 4p. I somewhat joined the masses, sitting on a stoop along the river with a mini can of prosecco.

 

 

Heidi arrived around 8p and we grabbed a late dinner at one of the small waterfront restaurants.

 

Lucerne, Day Two

Cold, low visibility, rain (pouring rain). We didn’t let that stop us completely. We decided against going to Mount Pilatus due to the poor visibility, but decided to take the ferry to the town of Rundfarht where you catch the cog railway up to Pilatus anyways to see the Lake from a different perspective. It was still beautiful — I can only imagine what it is like on a clear day.

 

 

That afternoon, sad to admit, we were defeated by the cold and rain. We spent some time finalizing plans for our next leg of the trip from the warm and dry confines of Hotel Pickwick. We ate a late lunch at the local brewery, Rathaus Brauerei. Their house beer was a “proper cloudy beer.” I’m no cicerone and didn’t know what to expect, but I didn’t hate it. Great beer, killer food.

 

We headed back, each fell asleep and woke up to the sun peaking out and casting its light on the Alps. Money. The evening, still cold, was by far the icing on the cake for our time in Lucerne. It was absolutely gorgeous and finally gave us opportunity to snap shots like these. Lucerne, you’re beautiful. Switzerland, I’ll be back.

 

 

Next stop, Menaggio, Lake Como.

48 Hours in Montreal

I’ve always jumped at the opportunity to see a new city when it presents itself, so when my sister and I both had a (rare) free weekend, we packed up and got out of town. In this case the country.

I’ll preface our destination choice by saying, we love good food and wine. From everything we’ve heard about Montreal, the one thing that seems unanimous is their reputation to have absolutely delicious food. We knew it was going to be miserably cold – barely above 5 degrees one day and 13 degrees the next – but didn’t let it stop us.

We arrived late Friday and set out to find some place to grab a drink and a light bite to eat. Naturally we found the nearest wine and tapas bar – Pullman, and it was a super cute spot. We took our server up on her dry red, full-bodied wine suggestion and it didn’t disappoint. Blei. I’ll be searching around for it and you should too. If you’re here and into this kind of stuff, it’s worth a trip.

We somewhat knew what we had coming to us on Saturday with the cold, but ended up taking a few more pit stops than planned to warm up. We found a crepe place close to our hotel. We did the touristy thing in the morning and headed to Olympic Park. The best part was seeing the Olympic pool – as a former swimmer, I geek out for this type of stuff. It was amazing to see it’s still, very much so, in use. Next stop was Atwater Market. We shopped around a bit, tasted delicious dried meat and got ourselves one of these. (Maple syrup on a stick, frozen by snow.)

 

Next stop, Pub Burgundy Lion, picked solely because it was the only thing open at 1:30p in the area. We got ourselves one of their namesake beers – not sure if it was their brew or a local brewer? Nothing special but was exactly what we needed to wash down our poutine. It definitely wasn’t a classic poutine, but good in its own way. We explored the shops around there for a bit after, and finally caved to the cold. If I can find one thing in a city, you can guarantee it’s a good cup of coffee or cappuccino, and September Surf didn’t disappoint.

 

Next, Le Vin Papillon, a spot that came highly recommended from various sources. Again, absolutely delicious wine we almost didn’t get because of their “no bar license” situation which forces you to order a food item to drink (yes, more food). Suggested by a few, we got their shaved ham and Parmesan with melted brown butter. So simple, SO DELICIOUS. Three hours, three glasses of red wine each, one ham and cheese and some serious catching up later, we got our food/wine/cold coma bodies back to our hotel for a quick cat nap. We tossed around the idea of going to the famous Joe Beef for dinner or doing something walking distance to our hotel, and chose to stay close which landed us at Biiru. It was about a block from where we were staying and described as a “funky Japanese izakaya dishing up traditional small plates and drinks.” It was just that and delicious. We split a couple of apps and had an “Abocado” drink which was avocado, sake and a bunch of other good stuff. Joe Beef, we’ll be back.

Sunday morning, we hit up Beautys, their famous luncheonette. Simple breakfast food done right. We topped off our omelets with a Bailey’s and coffee (for me) and Bloody Mary (for her). My sister admitted that although different, Montreal’s bagels were almost as good as New York bagels … coming from a person who has 24/7 access to the most delicious bagels in the world.

We checked out Old Montreal, including Notre-Dame Basilica, got a coffee and called it a weekend.

You’re headed to MTL? Here’s a short version of what we did in our 48 hours there (in winter):

 

  • Checked in to our Downtown hotel
  • Had a late dinner (tapas) and drinks at Pullman
  • Had a quick breakfast (crepes) close to our hotel
  • Olympic Park – I’d recommend seeing this during the warmer months, and when the tower re-opens
  • Atwater Market – also recommend going here during the summer
  • Le Vin Papillon, go for drinks and a bite to eat
  • September Surf, warm up with a coffee
  • Biiru – suggested cuisine by our Uber driver, recommended location by our hotel concierge
  • Beautys for breakfast
  • Old Montreal – see Notre-Dame Basilica and walk the streets

On the list for our next trip:

  • Joe Beef
  • Old Montreal (in the summer)
  • Rent BIXIs and ride around the city
  • Outdoor Markets – Atwater again, and Jean-Talon
  • Mile-End
  • Poutine La Banquise

Montreal, despite your sub-zero temps, I loved you. See you soon.

 

Getaway: Detroit

From the photo, you’re probably wondering why a passport is needed to go to Detroit. Well two reasons, one: from upstate New York, it cuts a good chunk of time off traveling through Canada and two: going into Canada means I can stock up on Kit Kat bars — clearly the more important reason. Why Kit Kats? Fun fact, the US is the only country that uses Hershey’s chocolate while it’s Nestle everywhere else, and SO much better. You can thank my time working in hockey for that tid bit of info …

A while back, my dad and I made a pact we would hit every NHL arena in our lifetime. Hockey is something that we bonded over when I was growing up, and something we got to enjoy a ton during my four years in the industry. So, that’s what had us driving almost 20 hours for a 36 hour visit.

The agenda: Pray for no traffic at the border, stop at the first Tom Horton’s there is, eat a Coney(s) — we’ll compare Coneys, check out Greek Town, stop at Shinola, see the Red Wings game at The Joe for our one and only opportunity before it closes at the end of the season, and last but not least, stock up on Kit Kats.

The best part of this trip is being able to spend time with my family, checking out a new city and having the chance to travel with a friend native to Detroit and be able to see their family, too.