Memories Of A Lifetime – #CIJRoadTrip

Contributor post by Michelle of EviesToolEmporium

We spent the month of August traveling the world on the first Christmas In July Road Trip! Since the CIJ team is worldwide we held a virtual #CIJRoadTrip right here on our blog!

The Road Trip began on Friday – August 1st, 2014 and concluded on Sunday – August 31st. As I mentioned the team is international and we went to visit many countries along the way!

We wanted to include as many of our talented team members as possible! The participation was fantastic! Our itinerary was filled as we traveled all over the world!

Each team member shared with us their country, as well as a little bit about themselves and their shops. I personally made many new friends and the world feels smaller to me now! Please join me to enjoy the memories of a lifetime!

Here was our itinerary:

1. August 1 – Canada / ElizabethLovesGlass – Elizabeth
2. August 2 – Chile / JuguetesEloisa – Valentina
3. August 3 – US / ClaudiaMarieFelt – Claudia Marie
4. August 4 – Australia / ColourscapeStudios – Kel
5. August 5 – UK / DetolaAndGeek – Tola
6. August 6 – Greece / fifirixtra – Ifigeneia
7. August 7 – Singapore / byTheArtBug – Megha And AngsanaSeedsPhoto – Ivy
8. August 8 – New Zealand / TangerineToes – Kaz
9. August 9 – Lithuania / feltinga – Ingrida
10. August 10 – Norway / Vamperstein – Kristin
11. August 11 – Israel / liatib – Liat
12. August 12 – Russia / KittyAprilHandmade – Katya
13. August 13 – Italy / Ghirlandiamo – Lia
14. August 14 – India / byTheCrochetBug – Natasha And bytheArtBug – Megha
15. August 15 – Belgium / cyberwezz – Wezz 
16. August 16 – Indonesia / DonBiuBali – Katrina
17. August 17 – Dominican Republic / TheLarimarShop – Angie
18. August 18 – Ireland / Gigi82Knits – Gigi
19. August 19 – Malaysia / whimsywhimsical – Yee Von
20. August 20 – Croatia / LAURELISjewelry – Zlatka
21. August 21 – Ukraine / 100Crochetnecklaces – Svitlana
22. August 22 – France / Sandra Ovono – Sandra
23. August 23 – Bulgaria / ElegantJewelryRMM – Rositza
24. August 24 – Estonia / Nalmandra – Astrida
25. August 25 – The Netherlands (Holland) / LizKnijnenburg – Anneleis
26. August 26 – Japan / KimonoPonchoCom – Yukiko
27. August 27 – Sweden / ReDesignedandRecycled – Linda
28. August 28 – Bosnia and Herzegovina / DeepSilence – Sonja
29. August 29 – Spain / Divantias – Patricia
30. August 30 – Germany / MermaidsHatBox – Barbara
31. August 31 – Turkey / Bloomed Flower – Zeynep

A special thank you to the blog contributors who escorted us on our travels!

Megha from byTheArtBug
Alicia from AliciasFindings
Jessica from CrochetNature
Jennifer from CaffeinatedPapercuts
Michelle from EviesToolEmporium

Please use #CIJRoadTrip on social media as you visit all the lovely countries we shared with you!

Thank you so much for joining us on our #CIJRoadTrip!



#CIJRoadTrip – Belgium: Leuven

Contributor post by Michelle of EviesToolEmporium

Let’s travel to Belgium – Leuven with Wezz from cyberwezz

1. What city do you live in? What makes it special?

I live in Leuven. If you look on a map it’s about 20 miles east of Brussels, our capital. Leuven is the capital of the province of Flemish Brabant.

It’s a vibrant student city with the oldest Catholic university in the world. It was founded in 1425! Thanks to the mix of students from all over the world we have an amazing variety of restaurants and bars. The nick name for the Old Market is “longest bar in the world” with roughly 40-50 bars siding around the square. Since the square has been made pedestrian area it is the best place to enjoy a drink and go “people watching”. It’s also a place where various free concerts and other events take place during the summer months. We have a sublime patrimonium of classified architectural buildings, lots of them belonging to the city or university, especially the city hall and the university library are worth mentioning. Leuven is also called “Little Bruges” for it’s lovely architecture and everything is within walking distance. Lots of shopping streets are for pedestrians only. Lots of walking tours are organized, ranging from a historic walk from when the first stones of the city were laid, architectural tours, the seven wonders of the city, and of course this year especially the commemorative tours on the first World War when our city was bombarded.

Leuven is also the home town of the Stella Artois beer, brewed here since 1366. Beer is Belgian heritage and lots of new micro breweries are starting up again, and produce good beers!

Then, of course, there’s Belgian chocolate…. Need I say more?

Leuven Stadhuis - Belgium

Leuven Stadhuis – Belgium

Old Market - "Marktrock" - Belgium

Old Market – “Marktrock” – Belgium

2. What are several places everyone visiting your country should see?

– Leuven of course!!

– Brussels, it’s our capital city, the heart of Europe and has an interesting architecture. There’s the lovely old buildings contrasting with the modern office buildings. Belgium is a kingdom, and the Royal Family resides in Brussels. You may have seen one of the quirkiest buildings ever in a picture, the Atomium. It was build for the World Expo in 1958 held in Brussels and is THE tourist attraction of our capital. It represents an elementary iron crystal, but enlarged enourmously. The top ball has a 360° view restaurant.

– Bruges, the Venice of the North as it’s also called. Particularly look for the famous lace. (also Brussels is known for its lace work) Very touristy, very busy in the summer months so remember Leuven is called Little Bruges!

– Waterloo for those interested in history there is the site where Napoleon lost his battle. It’s not far from Brussels or Leuven. Well, actually, nothing is ever far in our country as it’s so tiny you can drive 2 hours in any given direction and be in another European country!

– Ieper with the Menengate where they still play “The Last Post” every evening at 8pm and they have been doing so since 1928 to remember the fallen soldiers of the first World War. Over 54000 names are carved in the stones of the gate. While you are there you should also visit the museum of the Flanders’ Fields and make a trip to at least one of them, the poppy fields look amazing and the white crosses will make you silent and reflect on what never should happen again.

– Antwerp, the Diamond city. Do visit the Diamond Museum. It’s also our fashion capital with a fashion academy that has produced some famous designers; like Dries Van Noten, Dirk Bikkembergs and more.

All I have told you so far is mostly about Flanders, the northern half of our country. The north has a coastline with vast sandy beaches and dunes, and borders the North Sea, the great divide between Belgium and the United Kingdom.

In the south, we have a more hilly landscape featuring the Ardennes where many battles have been fought during the second World War. The Battle of Bastogne is a famous one, and was fought under very harsh winter circumstances. The series “Band Of Brothers” is worth watching, for this alone, to see what our people and the allies went through. Now, the region is very pretty, and many go there to spend their holidays.

Our country may be a tiny speck on the globe, but we do have 3 official languages. In Flanders, we speak dutch, the same language as The Netherlands although there are some significant differences.

In the southern part we speak French, like in France, but again, with some differences. The French usually can tell.

And then there is a smaller German speaking community. With Brussels being a tourist attraction, a home to a tremendous amount of international companies and having the headquarters of the NATO based there, English is a good language to learn if you want to stand a chance on getting a good job in the capital.

We learn all those languages in school. Depending on what direction you pick, at the very least you’ll be taught the basics.

Our main national sports are cycling and football. And not soccer as the US calls it, this one is actually played with your feet!

Oh and when we were traveling in the US we noticed that what is sold there as “Belgian waffles” doesn’t even come close to the real thing. What you really want is a Brussels waffle, or a Liège waffle. In fact, there is no such thing as a Belgian waffle! Each region has their own specific version and is very different from any other.

I’m sure I did not cover even half of what I could have told you about Belgium!

There is so much to see in our little country, I can never give a complete list!

Brussels - "Atomium" - Belgium

Brussels – “Atomium” – Belgium

Flanders Fields - Belgium

Flanders Fields – Belgium

Menenpoort in Ieper - "Last Post" - Belgium

Menenpoort in Ieper – “Last Post” – Belgium

Antwerp - Belgium

Antwerp – Belgium

3.  How have the customs, traditions, geography, nature etc. inspired the items you create?

Since I live in a student city and in a country with an abundance of greenery and flowers thanks to the soft climate, I very much like to use vibrant colors, but also quality materials for “easy to wear with every outfit” jewelry. Recycling is a big thing here, so I try not to waste anything, and this works especially in the glass fused jewelry I make.

Ardennes Region - Belgium

Ardennes Region – Belgium

4. What are you doing this fall to drive your business in your community? Are you doing a festival or show? How do you reach out to your community?

I’m working on a line of commemorative glass jewelry with poppy fields as well as a line of sterling silver combined with pearls and gem stones.

I will be doing a few shows in the fall, some of which are small and very close to home.

Since about 5 years there is an active community in our street and we organize quite a bit of events. Last winter we did a “street talent” month where everyone could show their talent to everyone else. The idea was that behind each door lives someone with a talent, no matter how big or small, everyone has a talent. Let’s open our door for others to see that talent. I was amazed at the diversity! There was music, theatre, pizza baking, italian cooking, painting, sketching, green thumbs, trip organizing, beer brewing at home and more. And that’s just our street alone, imagine what would happen if this was done on a bigger scale! (I gave a few workshops on making your own earrings, so much fun!)

Glass Fused Earrings from cyberwezz

Glass Fused Earrings from cyberwezz

Heart to Heart Earrings In Matte Gold From cyberwezz

Heart to Heart Earrings In Matte Gold From cyberwezz

Cretan Stone Pendant III From cyberwezz

Cretan Stone Pendant III From cyberwezz

5. What are your social media sites?


Friday The Road Trip Begins – #CIJRoadTrip

Contributor post by Michelle of EviesToolEmporium

We are getting excited for the first Christmas In July Road Trip! Since the CIJ team is worldwide we are going to hold a virtual #CIJRoadTrip right here on our blog!

The Road Trip begins on Friday – August 1st, 2014. As I mentioned the team is international and we are going to visit many countries along the way!

As a member of the CIJ team there is a way for you to get involved today before the fun begins on Friday. Please go to the CIJ forums and there is a thread that explains all the specifics! We want to include as many of our talented team members as possible! So far the countries we are going to visit are Canada, Chile, United States Of America and Australia! Where will we go next?

If you are not a member of the team please feel free to join the team today! Otherwise you will have to wait until Friday to see what we have planned!

Please use #CIJRoadTrip on social media as you road trip with us!


Want a sneak peek of one of the countries we will be visiting? Elizabeth from ElizabethLovesGlass lives in the amazing country of Canada! Come meet Elizabeth on Friday and learn about her Etsy shop and her country. Thank you Elizabeth for participating!

ElizabethLovesGlass From Canada

ElizabethLovesGlass From Canada

Abkhazi Garden - Victoria Canada

Abkhazi Garden – Victoria Canada

So mark your calendars, invite your friends, and get ready to go on a Road Trip! A #CIJRoadTrip!