27 November 2018

Travel Guide: Tulum (and we're engaged!)


It's been a very exciting few weeks! We spent a week in Tulum, and much to my surprise WE GOT ENGAGED! That's right, while enjoying apps and drinks at La Popular beach bar (part of the Nomade hotel) Tyler proposed. I was so shocked and since then my mind has been going 100km/hr. thinking about wedding planning. So much so I almost forgot to write this blog.


First of all, we loved Tulum. We are already planning on going back in 2020! We met some amazing people (read more about them later on), ate at so many amazing restaurants, went on a few adventures through Mayan ruins and the Grand Cenotes, and RELAXED on a perfect, sandy beach.

Where to stay:



We stayed at Kore Tulum Retreat and Spa Resort, an adults-only all-inclusive RIGHT in the heart of Tulum. It's the perfect hotel for a beach bum or adventurer. The resort is small enough you never have to worry about not getting a seat by the pool, and close enough to beautiful beaches you can ride your bike or walk to a beach playground! Kore Tulum is located right on the water, with beautiful cliffs overlooking the ocean. The sun rises over Kore so if you wake up early you can catch a gorgeous sunrise. We made a few notes about things we loved (and didn't love!) about Kore... there is no Wifi in the rooms. If you need to use Wifi you have to go to the Lobby or Bar. Not a big deal since we were not there to be on our devices, but we thought it was important to let people know about this. Also there is no Beer stocked in the room fridges - something Tyler was quite upset about. The resort offers the use of free bicycles until sunset. We had read reviews that the bikes were poor quality prior to arriving, but when we got there we didn't see an issue with the bikes - we used them everyday, and went quite the distance with them with no issues. We even rode into Downtown Tulum to the grocery store to buy cheap beer - haha! The food was a big one for me. I found it pretty hard to find gluten-free options, so I ate a lot of yogurt, fruit and granola. Tyler loved the food though, so I wouldn't say it was BAD, it was just hard for me to find a lot of options. That being said, Kore is so close to so many amazing restaurants and Tulum is so health-focused, we were able to walk, cab or bike ride to eat at other places.

What to do:



The Grand Cenote is a 200-peso cab ride away - and only about a 7 minute drive. It is SO beautiful but go early. We went right at opening and were the only ones swimming. As time went on it got busier and busier, but we still left before the crowds! The water is warm, and crystal clear. You can swim with the cutest turtles, and swim beneath caves of bats. It was an amazing experience and so nice that it was so close. If the weather wasn't so warm, we could have rode our bikes there. That's the nice thing about Tulum - so many things to do are accessible by bike! The Grand Cenote cost 90-pesos per person for entrance.




The Tulum Ruins are an even closer adventure. Our resort was located right in the centre of Beach Road. If you ride North you venture towards the Tulum Ruins, and if you ride South you are greeted by beautiful hotels on white sandy beaches. We loved the location of our hotel because we could easily access everything! The ruins were definitely an adventure. We tried to go a few times but every time we went it was SO busy. Finally on our successful attempt we woke up early and got there for open. It was already HOT out, and there were already tons of people - including large groups of tours that had obviously been bussed in from Cancun. I will say the ruins were not a highlight of the trip for me, but I am glad we saw them. Their history was lost on me since I was so hot I thought I might faint. I quickly toured through the entire park before landing at the beach where we went for a swim and then quickly continued through the rest of the park. The views are absolutely stunning from the top! I am glad we saw it, but to be clear I won't go back to the ruins on my next visit to Tulum. The ruins cost $10 USD per person for entrance.

Where to eat:





Nomade Tulum has 2 amazing restaurants on site; Macondo and La Popular. I am biased to say you NEED to eat at La Popular because that is where we got engaged, but I am sure both are amazing. Macondo is Moroccan-inspired, and would be a great place to enjoy in the rain - when it rains it POURS in Tulum, and this roofed restaurant is the best place to hide from the rain. La Popular on the other hand is a seafood restaurant right on the beach. The drinks at both are absolutely amazing; I would highly suggest trying the Cucumber Margarita at La Popular.



The Real Coconut is the place to go if you have food allergies or sensitivities - like me! All items on their menu are gluten, dairy and sugar-free. It is located on the Sanara Tulum property, right on the beach. I was sad to see they removed Empanadas from their menu ... I have been dying for Empanadas ever since my gluten sensitivity was discovered! But the rest of the food is amazing. Our one complaint was the expensive beer...

Mateo's Mexican Grill offers authentic Mayan and Mexican fare. Mateo moved to Tulum and started his journey into the restaurant business with a tiny food stand on the side of the road. He hired a local to do all of the cooking while he squeezed fresh juice. Today Mateo's is one of the most popular restaurants for authentic cuisine in Tulum. A must-try for anyone visiting Tulum!



Le Zebra Beach Hotel has an incredible restaurant on site - with free wifi! They also have "the best tacos in Tulum" according to Tyler. I won't lie, I had a bite and he is probably right. They were amazing! The guacamole was also delicious, and served with plantain and corn chips. The best part about Le Zebra though, is the view. Located right on the beach, I now only eat at places with beachfront views...






If you are in need of a quick breakfast, or a midday snack you have to hit up Matcha Mama. We had spent hours walking along the beach one day when I suggested we go for Nice Cream at Matcha Mama. It's called "nice" because it's nice on the tummy. Made with a coconut base, their Nice Cream was perfect for both Tyler and I, and our dairy sensitivity. I enjoyed a bowl of coconut nice cream, while Tyler had chocolate. I tried both - and they were both to die for!




If you want a really awesome evening experience, along with great drinks, explore Azulik after dark. The restaurant and bar are suspended up in the trees, with nets for you to lay in. The drinks aren't cheap, but they are phenomenal and worth every penny. They also have an impressive wine cellar!

Shopping:

Tulum has some of the most incredible shops, many of which are owned by expats - jealous! Here are some shots from my favourite shops...





What we saved for next time:



Be Tulum - Our next trip to Tulum, we will definitely stay at Be Tulum. The grounds are so tropical and beautiful, and it is central to many of our favourite spots.

Pasha Tulum - a Cypriot-inspired mediterranean restaurant. It looks amazing, and I love mediterranean cuisine, so we will definitely try this place out next time!


Gitano - I got so many recommendations for Gitano but we didn't have time to go on this trip. They are known for their live music on Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday, and party vibe on Friday and Saturday nights.

We had the most amazing time in Tulum, and met the most amazing couple - Betti and Ryan - who happened to be wedding photographers. The morning after we got engaged they offered to take some engagement photos for us to commemorate such an incredibly memorable trip! On the last evening of our trip we climbed over a retaining wall and had photos taken on the very sharp and dangerous cliffs of Kore Tulum. When I saw the final photos all of the risk was worth it. I'll post a few here, but check out their website and Instagram for more of their incredible work! Thank you Betti and Ryan!






As always, thanks for following along. Check out my Instagram for more photos from our trip!

xo,
Sera
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04 September 2018

Summer Memories

There is something so somber about the last long weekend of Summer. It's like it almost instantly starts to smell like Fall outside, and everything seems to slow down. I am not saying the slow down isn't needed (it is! I am TIRED!) but I could definitely use the warm weather all year round.

We had a pretty incredible Summer -- as always. Here are some of the highlights:

We bought a new house!!!


We went on the annual Sherwin family camping trip - my 4th year!


We visited a Lavender farm in Prince Edward County!
<3 p="">

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And, celebrated some soon-to-be wifeys!


We had countless pool parties with so many amazing friends!


Colby turned 6!


My mom turned “29” so we took a road trip to Buffalo to celebrate!


And...

Wes turned TWO!


BRING ON FALL!<3 p="">
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23 August 2018

Why Do I Have Acne? And What To Do About It...


Let's talk about acne. Acne is something I am so used to talking about. I used to be so scared to talk about it out of fear that people would see beyond my layers of foundation and realize "this girl struggles from acne!" But now I realize SO many people have the same struggles as me, so why not talk about it?!

At different life stages acne can be caused by different reasons. I talk a lot about adult and hormone-related acne but I haven’t touched on teen acne, which unfortunately many school-aged children have to suffer with. During your teen years your body starts to change, your hormones start raging and you begin to enter “adulthood”. (Lame! Can’t we stay kids forever?)

Similar to adult-acne and hormone-related acne, as teens when your hormone levels become elevated they cause excess sebum (oil) production which can clog pores, eventually becoming infected causing a pimple / pimples to form. Pimples can come in the form of white heads, black heads or cysts. It’s a myth that if you scrub your face with harsh cleansers or wash clothes that you’ll clear your skin. What you’re actually doing is drying your skin out more, which tells your skin to produce more oil (because natural oil is the skins way of creating a protective barrier) so your skin starts to create even MORE oil, and as a result you have full blown ACNE. How annoying?!

Suffering with acne is so frustrating, and I so wish I was one of those people who woke up and didn’t have to put on makeup before I left the house. One day I'll get there. As a teen, I definitely made the mistake in listening to everyone's skincare suggestions. Product after product was recommended to me, when in reality I should have just been patient, ate well, moisturized often and drank LOTS of water to detox the excess hormones. Eventually it would have gone away. Instead, I used harsh cleansers with TONS of chemicals, which dried and irritated my skin. Terrible! The top layer of my skin was definitely damaged.

Over the past year I have been working to STOP using harsh cleansers, and instead nourish my skin with hydrating and calming oils to help rebuild it's protective layer. I always want to help others who have the same struggles as me, so if you suffer with acne, STOP what you're doing and listen to some of my tips. They are tips I wish someone would have to me when I first started getting pimples. Here are a few tips and tricks to clearing acne GENTLY without compromising your skins natural, protective oil barrier. No brands mentioned, just genuine suggestions from someone who knows what you're going through.

Use a gentle washcloth
I do use a lot of face masks (I am careful to choose which ones as many can be overdrying! Ask me if you want some suggestions on gentle ones. They can be great to detox your pores.) and I find some of them wash off most effectively with a towel. The problem is that towels are not made of the most gentle fibres, so to avoid irritating your skin use a warm muslin face cloth to remove your face wash or mask. Muslin is gentle enough that it won't irritate your skin. The bonus? They are quite cheap to buy! I always ensure I buy organic muslin to avoid any bleach that they sometimes use to make fabric white.

Embrace an evening face oil
I used to think that adding oil to my face would make it even more oily, but face oils are not just for dry skin. All skin types can benefit from face oils, you just need to find the right oil type for your skin. For dry skin, oils like Argan and Almond are good for obtaining deep moisture, and for oily or combination skin, use oils such as Jojoba and Rosehip. These are lighter oils that won’t clog pores and will encourage your skin to stop overproducing acne-causing sebum. Many natural skincare companies make oil blends specifically targeted for your skin type. Need some suggestions? This is my forte, just ask!

Tea Tree Oil
Used in moderation, Tea Tree Oil (or Maleleuca) can help kill bacteria. It is however extremely drying so make sure you mix it with a carrier oil or dip a cotton swab in it and gently dab the affected spot. I find Tea Tree toners to be too drying, even for my excessively oily skin, so avoid products containing Tea Tree and use it strictly as a spot treatment! Note: Buy good quality essential oils to ensure they are pure and organic. Cheap essential oils are often diluted and may cause more harm than good.

Use a gentle cleanser
I will never encourage a cleanser with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, even though doctor's often recommend these products to teens suffering with acne. The only time MAYBE salicylic acid is okay, is in a spot treatment. Otherwise these products can over-dry and irritate skin causing more than just acne - think Rosacea. Yikes! Instead, cleanse your skin with oil. I know... I am back to the oil cleansing method. It's so effective and really affordable. In fact, lately I have been cleansing with pure coconut oil with a few drops of lavender oil. Why? Because oil binds with oil and balances the skin's natural oils. If you don't believe me, try it. I was skeptical at first too but am so glad I stopped using the harsh cleansers. A bonus? It also removes my eye make up so that's one less product I have to buy :) Note: Lavender oil is calming and reduces inflammation and redness.

At the end of the day, remember that no one else notices your acne and that you are your own worst critic. The more you fuss and pick and touch your skin, the worse it will get. So remember to eat a clean diet, drinks LOTS of water, don’t pick, and be patient. Your skin will clear up and you’ll laugh about the days when you thought your acne defined you. And remember to message me if you’d like product suggestions! I may have tried a few good ones ;)
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16 July 2018

Summer in Ontario: Prince Edward County


This year marks 32 years since Tyler's Family started camping at Presqu'ile Provincial Park. The perfect halfway point between family members in Ottawa and family members in Brampton, they now call this beautiful provincial park "Home" for 2 weeks every summer.

I just started camping with them 4 years ago. Coincidentally enough, 4 years ago the Drake Devonshire hotel (restaurant pictured above) opened up in Wellington County. Directly along the rocky shores of Lake Ontario, this now Landmark began the floods of Toronto hipsters into Prince Edward County, opening one craft brewery after another.

As you know from previous posts, I am not one for camping, though I have found some really great shortcuts to surviving these camping trips (See my previous post on Glamping). Since my first year at Presqu'ile I have escaped camp-life by slowly making my way through PEC on mindless day trips through each little town. From adorable motels, to farmer's markets, trinket shops, wineries and cider houses, I continue to find more and more gems hidden inside PEC's 400+ square mile radius.

This year will be no different. I am about to embark on my first of two extra-long weekends (I got a new job so I will not be staying the full 10 days) and I usually try to avoid visiting the same place twice. But sometimes they're just too good to miss year-after-year, so this year I may have a few repeats on my list. But since I consider myself to be a little bit of a County Snob, here are some of my favourite spots to visit every Summer.

Where to Eat -

PICNIC PEC
An adorable food truck on the Rosehall Run property, this little "picnic" spot serves up the most delicious grub. My favourites are obviously the charcuterie and cheese boards, which pair well with all of the Rosehall Run wines. The focus of PICNIC is to deliver healthy food options in a hurry. That being said, I am never in a hurry. But I do love this stop for a little lunch break as we ride our bikes through the county. The best part: This year I can try their Vegan and Gluten-Free options, which I've never been enticed by before... so who says you can't try something twice?!

Norman Hardie Pizza Oven
It doesn't matter how many times I say I need to visit new places, I somehow always end up at Norman Hardie for their wood oven pizza. This is the first year I will pass on Norman Hardie. But for everyone else who CAN eat gluten, make sure this place is on your list. Besides their wines being amazing, the pizza is to die for and the winery is very picturesque. It's located in Hillier not far from Rosehall Run! Pictured above: The wine I enjoyed while I waited for my pizza to arrive.

The Public House at Jackson's Falls
A proud participant in Countylicious (PEC's Spring and Fall version of Winterlicious) this restaurant, complete with a patio and young, serves up native-inspired cuisine with a kick. They serve many local brews and almost always have live entertainment. It's such a fun place to spend an evening after a long day of tastings!

Best Vineyards -

Hinterland Wine Company

I am going to go ahead and say it, I think Hinterland makes the BEST sparkling wine in Canada. I actually feel so great every time I am there sampling all of the wine's I've tasted before. This year I am committing to just one vineyard and one brewery - to save Tyler the pain of trying a million different wines he doesn't enjoy - so Hinterland is definitely our go-to place for 2018. Plus, their lunch menu is amazing ... who doesn't enjoy sparkling wine and oysters?
(Note: They also have amazing gluten-free Ciders)

Rosehall Run
Directly across the street from Norman Hardie, this adorable winery is probably best known for the Pixie Sparkling Wine. Grab a glass of your favourite - or get a few samples - and settle in for some lunch at PICNIC. I love that my two favourite spots to visit are directly across the street from one another, it makes for an easy trip into town!

Sandbanks Estate Winery
You'd probably recognize their Sparkling Rose from my Instagram. It's definitely their shining star, and has ruined ALL other rose options for me. It's not that it's their only good bottle, it's just so good I never buy anything else. In fact, last year for my birthday I ordered myself a case, delivered straight to our door, (Happy Birthday to me?) and it was gone remarkably fast ... You can find the rest of the Sandbanks wines at the LCBO but the Sparkling Rose is quite hard to track down. Doesn't that tell you something? Trust me when I tell you to try it. You'll never look back.

Three Dog Winery
Maybe it's the adorable paw that adorns each bottle, but they had me at DOG. I wasnt going to go back here this year, because I am really trying to find NEW places to add to my list, but this year they opened a new yoga studio on site, making them the first co-located winery and yoga studio in Canada! I'll definitely be stopping by for a yoga class, and a glass... their Pinot Grigio is an easy bottle to polish!

Best Breweries and Cider Houses -

Barley Days

The first brewery to open in Prince Edward County! And probably still one of the best. I haven't tried it yet, and probably never will now, but their Hibiscus Ale is supposedly heavenly. Named after the 1800s crop-of-choice, Barley, it's fitting that they'd open a craft brewery in The County. Located in Picton, the brewery also has a rentable Farm House on the property, a pretty awesome location for a Bachelor Party if I might suggest!

Clafeld Cider House
The sister company to Waupoos Winery, the Clafield Cider House creates some of the most exquisite ciders using the fruit they grow on their orchard. With several different varieties, and a few wine ciders, this is one of my favourite places to stop in and have a flight. The Rose Hip cider wine is amazing, and so is the dry apple cider. Definitely stop in here for a taste!

Parsons Brewing Co.
I think it was their beautiful website that first lured me into visiting Parsons Brewing Co. They definitely have an eye for design. They also brew some of the most amazing beer, and their restaurant onsite is AMAZING. I'm adding this to our must-visit list for this summer since Tyler hasn't been yet and will enjoy the beer, while I sip on their amazing cider.

Where to Stay -

Camp at Presqu'ile!
This is half a joke, and half an honest suggestion. If there was one campground I had to spend 10 days at every year, it would be this one. It's absolutely stunning and surrounded by beautiful rocky beaches. Somehow every year the water in July is just the right temperature for my wussy self to swim in, and I almost always go home with an amazing tan. Every year I look forward to the evening bike rides along the 8km road path to get Kawartha Dairy Ice-cream (which also hurts my stomach EVERY YEAR! But hey - it's tradition), hiking the Marsh Boardwalk (pictured above) and then skipping rocks as we watch the sun set. To say I hate camping would be incorrect because I absolutely LOVE Presqu'ile -- I just maybe hate sleeping in a tent, outhouses and mosquitos at dawn. There is also a Nature Centre (cool for the kids!), a lighthouse and museum/gift shop where you can learn about the extensive history of Presqu'ile. Book a site here.

Rent an AirBNB
As a former AirBNB Host, I regularly scour AirBNB for new places to stay. More and more AirBNBs seem to be popping up in the PEC area, and every single one of them is ADORABLE. It would be a hard to run an AirBNB that wasn't picture-perfect because there is so much competition in the area. Most of them are hidden gems inside victorian homes or old farm houses. Run a search on AirBNB and see how cute they are for yourself... keep your dates open since the nicest ones book up QUICK every summer! My personal favourite spot to stay is The Ferg. I also think THIS tiny home is so so adorable.

The June Motel
I've never stayed here, but it's on my PEC Bucket List. It's the cutest converted motel, complete with Instagram-worthy wallpaper and decor. The owner's visit California annually for inspiration for their hotel. And the hotel has bikes guests can borrow for self-guided winery tours. It's a super adorable spot for a Bachelorette party... Sign me up! Book a room here.

Drake Devonshire
Before The Drake, PEC was a place you went for relaxation. I wouldn't be surprised if the hipsters have forced ALL of the retiree's out by now, but it's for good reason. The Drake Devonshire serves up overpriced accommodation and mediocre food, plus they don't allow pets to even step foot on their parking lot pad (so you definitely won't me there) but I had to list it or this list wouldn't feel complete. Try to book a room here.

What to Do - 

The Millennium Trail
An almost 50km long trail which has been rebuilt over the past few years sits along old farm roads and railroads. To date only 11km are suitable by bike, but the rest can be walked or ran on. It's also accessible through various county points which makes this an awesome "to-do" no matter where you're staying. Check out the full path at www.pectrails.ca

Visit the Lavender fields
This year's annual Lavender Festival is being held on July 7th and 8th in PEC. If you can't make it then, check out Prince Edward County Lavender, in Hillier for the most picturesque fields of lavender all summer long.

Wellington Farmer's Market
One of the cutest farmer's markets I have been to, likely because of the portable stone oven pizza I get there every year (but sadly not this year!). We also stock up on amazing hot sauces and preserves. There are so many sweet vendors at this market, you have to check it out for yourself. It's in Wellington, a few steps from the Drake Devonshire and happens every Saturday 8am-1pm and Sunday 12pm-4pm.

There are also SO many little towns -- Trenton, Wellington, Picton -- with historic main streets and adorable shops and restaurants. So be sure to do your research and plan your trip before you go! But the one thing I've learned about PEC is that no matter how much I plan, it's always more fun to stray and wander, you never know what you're going to find! Enjoy your trip! <3 p="">
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