18 May 2020

How to start a vegetable garden indoors


With social distancing in effect I wanted to avoid going to stores as much as possible this Spring, but I was also really bored and needed a hobby to keep me busy. I thought starting a vegetable garden would be a really fun and rewarding way to spending my quarantine. Last year I had a few vegetables growing in pots outdoors, but I didn’t have great luck with them. Early on a chipmunk ate my entire cucumber plant, and my tomato and pepper plants were so behind I barely got any fruit. This year, I started early and started everything from seed, indoors, so I could really feel like I was achieving something. Now, if an animals eats my damn garden the second I plant it outside I might have a meltdown after all of the love that has gone into these plants.

To be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure how it was going to turn out when I began, but as of now my plants are thriving and I have definitely learned a lot about how to successfully start a garden indoors; including what you actually need, what’s a waste of money and how to save time and get those seeds to sprout as soon as possible! So many have you been following my gardening journey on Instagram, and have shown so much interest that I thought I’d share with your exactly what I did to start this garden indoors.

To start your garden, you’ll need:
  • Seeds of your choice (I used heirloom tomatoes, mini cucumbers, green beans, hot and sweet peppers, onion and cherry tomatoes)
  • 3 or 4-inch peat pots (I love the Jiffy Pot brand)
  • Organic triple mix (I prefer the Pro-mix brand)
  • A seedling heat mat (I got mine off Amazon)
  • A south-facing window or very sunny room in your house! I used my kitchen table/bench.
I started my garden very early this year. Last year I started it quite late and didn’t get any tomatoes or peppers until the last week of September. I want my veggies to be ready earlier this year, so I started my seeds the first week of April, one month earlier than last year! 

To start I planted one vegetable at a time, and followed the instructions on each seed packet. If there is one thing I have learned in life, it’s that instructions exist for a reason, so follow them! The instructions on the seed packets will tell you how deep to sow each seed, how far apart to place them, and how long it might take before you see a sprout. That being said, depending on your environment your sprouting time could be shorter or longer; for example I started some peppers in a greenhouse on a heat mat and they sprouted in a week, whereas the ones I started in one-inch peat pots took three weeks to sprout!


A few things I learned along the way this year:

1. Don’t add water to the pot before a seed has sprouted. Put water in the base of the tray and let the soil soak up water on its own. If you add too much water to the top of the pot, you’ll push the seeds too far down. Another way to keep soil moist is to mist it, but keep in mind that only wets the top of the soil, you want to make sure the whole thing is moist to encourage the seed to sprout.

2. Don’t overwater your plants once they have sprouted. I watered my plants every day until they got to a certain size, and then I noticed they stopped needing as much water and I switched to every other day. You can tell when your plants need water because they start to drop and look “thirsty.”

3. Start your plants in 3 or 4 inch peat pots. Don’t waste your time with the one-inch pots, you have to move your plants too quickly and really you want to eliminate moving them as much as possible. If you start them in the 3 or 4 inch peat pots, you can actually just plant that at the end of may in your outdoor garden, and your plant will suffer less root shock.

4. Give your plants as much sunlight as possible! We are very fortunate in that our back window is south facing and gets all-day sunlight. My kitchen table has been an amazing spot for all of my plant babies to grow! If you don’t have enough sunlight, move your plants around through the day so they get enough. Your plants will grow taller and taller searching for the light they need, but they won’t grow any fruit if they don’t get sufficient sunlight!

5. Use jiffy greenhouses (see image below) and a seedling heat mat to speed up sprouting. Jiffy greenhouses are “self watering” in that they trap moisture within the container. If you place them on a heat mat, you create an even more warm and moist environment for your seedlings, which can speed up germination. I used these for some pepper seeds because after 3 weeks my peppers in peat pots hadn’t sprouted yet. Turns out peppers need A LOT of moisture and warmth, because after moving them to the seedling mat they all sprouted, and the ones in the greenhouse sprouted in just a few days!

Now, keep in mind this is only my first year attempting a full garden, so I definitely don’t consider myself a pro. But, I’ve learned a lot this year, and feel really proud of these little plants I have grown. If you have any questions about your garden, or need some motivation, you know how to reach me!!





SHARE:

25 April 2020

Mother’s Day gift ideas

Mother’s Day is coming, and with social distancing still very much in effect, we’re having to be more prepared than ever this year with gifts . While ordering flowers as Mother’s Day gifts is still a popular option, ordering windows will need to be bigger, and you’ll need to place that order much earlier this year. Curb side pick up, deliveries and porch drops will be the most popular ways to get Mom her gift, so I’m giving you ample notice and tons of ideas for the perfect gifts for Mother’s Day.

8 Perfect Gifts for Mother’s Day
1. Give her the gift of glowing skin
The NEW Beautycounter Vitamin C serum is already a cult favourite. After just one week of use I saw immense improvement in the look of my skin. I can’t think of a better Mother’s Day gift, than the gift of glowing skin. Gift Mom this Vitamin C serum, and add some extra goodies (see #6 below!). Shop the NEW Vitamin C serum here. I recommend ordering by April 30 for arrival in time for Mother’s Day.
2. Send her cookies in lieu of flowers
You know that local bakery in town? They’re probably struggling right now given foot traffic is at 0. Place an order for curb side pick-up for a dozen cookies, or some fresh baked goodies. No one can resist fresh baked local fare, plus she’ll be proud you’re supporting local businesses. In the Newmarket area, Nutmeg is taking curb side pick-up orders on their website now and their cruffins are AMAZING!
3. Pick out her post-quarantine handbag
Tory Burch has some of the most amazing spring styles out right now, and you can order online and have it delivered right to her door (or yours! This one’s for the hubby’s!) I am obsessed with the Ella mini tote, I have it in 2 colours and am drooling over the Summer 2020 options. Mom will love it too!
4. Personalized books from the little ones
Wonderbly has some really cute personalized book options, and my favourite pick for Mother’s Day is “NAME loves Mommy This Much”. If she’s a new mom, even better. This will really pull at her heart strings. Shop this book here.
5. MAMA sweatshirt
Brunette the Label makes these adorable “mama” sweaters, with matching crew necks for your little one. I love matching sets, so obviously I had to suggest this as a gift idea. Plus, Brunette the Label is a Canadian brand (from Vancouver!) and I always give preference to local brands. Shop the mama sweatshirts here.
6. The perfect pout
If I didn’t sell these, this would be my favourite gift. Three amazing pout perfecting goodies in one box. The better balm and lip scrub are two of my FAVOURITE Beautycounter products, and the clear gloss is perfect on its own or layered over her favourite lipstick. This was and will probably remain my favourite Beautycounter gift pack to date. Get it while you still can, here.
7. When in doubt, jewellery
I am not a huge jewellery fan to be honest, but I think most women are. I have been loving the simple, timeless designs by Muizee lately. One of my favourite things I own is my “s” necklace from Muizee, which was a gift from my sister-in-law. I love that you can personalize Muizee jewellery by adding letter charms, etc. Check out Muizee’s online shop here.
8. Flowers are always a good idea
Again, not a flower person. But, lately I have been craving flowers in the house, probably because I have never spent more time inside the house. I imagine most people are feeling the same, so do her a favour and get her flowers! Support a local shop in your area, or try pistil.ca because their arrangements are stunning. If you’re in the Bolton / Nobleton region, check out Flower Workshop for some of the most stunning arrangements.
SHARE:

16 April 2020

How to make money from home


Making money from home, and having multiple streams of income, is becoming increasingly important.

On March 1st, I declared March a “no-spend” month. Little did I know how important it was going to be to start saving more money. At that point we knew there was a virus going around but we didn’t know it would become the global pandemic it is now. By March 14th, when we returned from vacation, self-isolation was recommended, and it’s been nothing but negative news since. Businesses are closed, many of my friends and family members are being laid off and the markets are DOWN.

I’ve always been motivated by money. Maybe because I have expensive taste. I started working when I was 15 and while I was in university I worked three jobs. I’ve also always had a side hustle — whether it be teaching yoga, or selling skincare.
I think more than one form of income is always a good idea. You never know what life is going to throw at you, (AMEN! Worldwide pandemic!) so why not have more than one stream of income so that if you ever lose your job, you have something to fall back on.

Here are four ways to make money from home, and a sneak peek at my vanity turned temporary home office!


+ Join an MLM
By now you all know I’m a Beautycounter consultant. I decided to join Beautycounter over two years ago because I LOVE the products, they work incredibly well, and as a consultant I earn a discount. Now I can say I make money by posting my favourite skincare products to Instagram and Facebook. I DO NOT actively seek out recruits, or try to sell people anything. I’m very honest about the products, and have earned a following by being authentic and open about my own skin struggles. I use my Instagram platform as a way to educate on clean beauty (something I am very passionate about) and share my favourite products. If you want to learn more about Beautycounter, click here. PS - It’s FREE to join as a consultant right now!
And, if skincare isn’t your thing, but you think another MLM might be better suited to your personal brand, ask me for suggestions!)


+ Poshmark
Poshmark has finally launched in Canada! I have my own “closet” on Poshmark where I sell lightly used clothing. A lot of what I sell on there doesn’t fit anymore, or isn’t part of my new “timeless” wardrobe. I love setting goals for myself on Poshmark before cashing out my earnings, for example I never cash out less than $100. Since joining Poshmark I have earned over $600 selling clothing, accessories and home accent pieces. If you want to join Poshmark and start selling your stuff, click here, and enter the code “simply_sera” on sign up to get $15 deposited into your account.


+ LIKEtoKNOW.it
Reward Style is another way to earn money sharing links to products that you use, wear and love. If you post to Instagram and Pinterest a lot, you can start making money by tagging @LIKEtoKNOWit and linking your outfit, beauty products or home accent pieces in the LIKEtoKNOW.it app. Apply to be a Reward Style influencer here.


+ Sell yourself
I’ve been copywriting for years now, charging per word for blog posts, instagram posts and website content. It’s a great side hustle that I can do from my phone, iPad or computer — literally anywhere in the world. Maybe copywriting isn’t YOUR thing, but think of something that is. Maybe you bake amazing pies, or you’re a great painter. Don’t underestimate your talents and the things you’re good at. There will always someone who doesn’t want to paint their house, can’t bake, can’t write, etc... who will pay you to do it! Start sharing what you’re good at, put a price tag on it, and offer up your services. Eventually word of mouth alone will get you some side cash.You can also start an Instagram  or Facebook page to market your services! If you’re in communications like me, there are websites such as Freelancer and Upwork which can help connect you with businesses looking to hire freelancers.
SHARE:

11 April 2020

My favourite recipes for “lockdown” baking

It’s no surprise, since going into lockdown everyone’s been at home baking. I know this because flour, yeast and most other baking supplies are sold out pretty much everywhere. I’ve been baking to the point where I’m starting to get concerned about fitting back into my pre-lockdown clothes, but that’s okay ... let’s just focus on keeping busy, staying healthy and staying sane!

I’ve also been spending way too much time in the kitchen, that I’m starting to think of budget ways I can update my kitchen and have spent way too much time on Pinterest. I’m sharing some of my fav kitchen designs from Pinterest below. You can see all of my kitchen renovation inspiration pins on Pinterest here!

Here’s what I’ve been baking lately:

Bless This Mess Sourdough Bread
I’ve wanted to start a sourdough for so long, but time was never on my side. Being home every day I was able to start and feed a sourdough to the point where I have already gotten two amazing loaves of bread from it. Unfortunately now I am out of all-purpose flour, so until the next time I can find some, our carb overload will need to be on hold. But, I absolutely love the way Bless This Mess explains how to make your own starter at home (read that here), and her video for simple sourdough was so helpful for someone who has literally never baked bread before. Check it out here!

Nourish with Jass Refined Sugar-free Cookies
I love her recipes because they are always really healthy but really delicious. I used this recipe but swapped the chocolate chips with mini eggs for Easter Sunday, and yum — they were delicious!

Blissful Basil Vegan Almond Butter Squares
This is my new favourite recipe for a healthy snack. They’re rich in flavour but packed with fibre and are refined sugar-free. I’ve made this recipe twice already and will probably have to make more this week - they’re definitely a favourite around here.

Live Simply Almond Flour Banana Bread
There’s a big joke about everyone baking banana bread during lockdown, well this banana bread is a regular staple in our house. Tyler loves to enjoy it with his morning coffee, and I love it because it’s a great way to get rid of the half-rotten bananas that I never seem to get through during the week. This recipe is completely gluten-free, refined sugar-free and very moist. So moist I recommend storing it in the fridge! I also recommend adding walnuts or chocolate chips to make it even better.

Against All Grain Carrot Cake Cupcakes
Unfortunately for this one you’ll need a cookbook, but honestly it’s worth it. Danielle Walker’s Meals Made Simple cookbook is one of my favourites, and this recipe for Carrot Cake Cupcakes can be found inside. I make this cupcake recipe often (rotating between banana bread and this!) since carrot cake it my favourite, and this is a healthy substitution. If you want to make it, you can shop the cookbook here, and the recipe can be found on page 286. Tip: Skip the icing for a muffin-like recipe, and for special occasions add the icing to sweeten it up!








SHARE:

29 March 2020

Sh!t you shouldn’t have to pay for, ever again, after quarantine

A few weeks ago I was sitting by the pool in Saint Lucia, complaining to my friend Jenny that I didn’t have time to do ANYTHING before our trip so I had to DIY it all. I touched up my own grey roots (thanks to my girl @juliafinklehairstylist for hooking me up with some colour), did my own mani-pedi, wax and spray tan. Now that I’ve been quarantined and everything is closed (and have a lot of free time on my hands), I’m becoming a pro at all things DIY and am LOVING how much money I’m saving. And you should be too! But to be clear, we’ll always need professional hair stylists...

Here’s a list of all the things you should be able to do on your own after quarantine, and the best products for the job:

+Mani-pedi with Essie
I wish I could say I have a clean favourite for nail polish, but before my trip I discovered Essie Gel Couture (it was on sale for $5) and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to try anything else. For years (and I mean like 10+) I was getting shellac done every 3 weeks. It was expensive and toxic, not to mention horrible for my nails. The new Essie Gel Couture is no less toxic, BUT it applies really nicely, dries fast, and lasts two weeks on my nails. Not to mention, when I take it off my nails aren’t horrible weak and ruined. Check out the different shades they have here, and don’t forget to purchase the top coat (essential for long-lasting polish jobs). My favs: Matter of Fiction (pinks) and Pre-Show Jitters (whites).
(Note: Essie Gel Couture is available at Walmart and Shoppers Drug Mart)

+Hair removal with Parissa
Hair removal has always been something I like to leave to the professionals but with wax spots closed it’s time we learn how to do this ourselves. The cost of a bikini wax is outrageous, add in brows (sorry - we still need professionals for this), upper lip, etc. It gets pricey! At a young age I discovered Parissa Sugar Wax, which now comes in an organic version. The ingredients are very simple, and it’s water soluble so if you get it anywhere you don’t want it, it simply rinses off. I prefer sugar to wax because it’s cleaner, more gentle and super easy to use. Follow Parissa’s guide to sugar wax here, and soon you’ll be an at-home pro too!
(Note: You can buy Parissa products at Walmart and Shoppers Drug Mart)

+Spray tan with Bondi Sands
Spray tanning at home is so easy. Just make sure you’re starting with clean, exfoliated skin — I exfoliate in the morning with Beautycounter Sugar Body Scrub. Then, at night I wash my face, brush my teeth and get totally ready for bed before starting my spray tan. Using a tanning mitt (essential!) and the BEST spray tanning formula ever — I don’t get paid to say this — Bondi Sands Liquid Gold. I love this formula because it’s buildable, natural-looking and smells amazing. It also doesn’t irritate my skin, which is rare for most self tanners. Apply tanner (liquid or foam formula, both are amazing) in a circular motion all over your body. Wait ten minutes before putting on your pyjamas, then sleep with it on and by morning you’ll be a bronzed babe. If you want to be a bit darker, apply another layer the next night!
(Note: Bondi Sands is now sold at Shoppers Drug Mart)

+Facial with Beautycounter
It’s possible to get professional facial results at home, thanks to clean, hard-working products that perform. I’ve never actually been one for facials, because I don’t trust anyone touching my skin. But I’ve developed the best at-home facial routine and love sharing it. Start with your favourite cleanser (this is mine!), then apply the Beautycounter Charcoal Facial Mask, wait for it to dry and check out all of the gunk coming out of your pores! Post mask, pat the Countertime Mineral Boost Hydrating Essence into your pores and before it dries apply a thin layer of the Counter+ Overnight Resurfacing Peel. Let this sit on your skin for a few minutes so it really sets in. You might feel a slight tingle! After 1-2 minutes you’re ready for moisturizer. My go-to moisture combo is one pump of the Countertime Antioxidant Soft Cream, with a drop of targeted facial oil. Depending on your skins needs, pick between Plumping, Balancing and Brightening. My fav? Balancing. Apply this combo in an upward motion all over your face and décolletage. Finish with your favourite eye cream and lip conditioner. And always sleep on a silk pillowcase so your cotton one doesn’t absorb the skincare before your skin does!
(Note: If you want to earn FREE Beautycounter products, ask me about hosting an online social so you can really earn a FREE at-home facial!)

Follow my blog with Bloglovin
SHARE:

26 February 2020

Designer looks for less!

I remember when I was young, finding designer dupes was so exciting to me because I couldn't afford the real thing, but I loved keeping up with trends. Now, I'm lucky enough to say I own some really amazing designer pieces, but not EVERYTHING I own is designer. For especially trendy pieces, I almost always look for non-designer dupes. I invest in timeless, quality pieces and "cheap out" on fast fashion!

Gucci Princetown mules vs. Goodnight Macaroon mules
Luxe price: $695 USD
Less price: $80 USD

One of my best dupes to date are a pair of Gucci-like mules I bought at the Guess Factory Store for $24. I am still obsessed with them four years later. That was a trend I thought would die FAST, but it's still going strong ... so strong I might actually buy myself a pair of real Princetown's this year. Last year I searched high and low for the same style in white, but didn't have much luck until I found this almost identical pair on Goodnight Macaroon. Because I won't wear the white as much, I didn't want to spend hundreds of dollars on this trend. These dupes are so comfortable, and amazing quality! They come in black and white, and Goodnight Macaroon almost always has a coupon code for more savings.


Chanel Gabrielle backpack vs. Goodnight Macaroon backpack
Luxe price: $4375 CAD
Less price: $128 USD
I have a vintage Chanel bag, but I'll probably never own another. They are just SO expensive, and my splurging days are behind me. I saw this Gabrielle dupe on a blogger recently and thought it was just SO cute and so practical. I also love that it resembles a bucket bag -- one of my favourite handbag styles!


L*Space Lee Lee bikini top vs. Aerie V bandeau bikini top
Luxe price: $99 USD
Less price: $25 CAD

Before our honeymoon I splurged on an L*Space bikini only to see this spring that every brand is launching a very similar style. Right now Aerie has an amazing swim sale on and this V bandeau bikini top is just $25. Similarly, Aerie has very cute high waisted bikini bottoms that resemble the L*Space Frenchie bikini bottoms. So for what I paid nearly $300 for, you can have for $50 -- win win!

Chanel Deauville tote vs. Goodnight Macaroon tote
Luxe price: $3500 USD
Less price: $88 USD
This Chanel tote is one of my dream bags. In Europe women were using it as a beach tote. When I googled how much it was I was shocked to see what people will pay for canvas beach bags. That said, I still love it, and good for them! Yolo. For the rest of us who think it's insane to spend that, I've found the cutest Goodnight Macaroon dupe for a sliver of the price.


Want to see more luxe looks for less? Follow me on Instagram, and sign up for alerts so you'll be notified when I publish new blog posts like this!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin
SHARE:

18 February 2020

The cutest shops in Fort Langley (according to me!)

I love Fort Langley. I was in Fort Langley last spring, while visiting my brother and sister-in-law, and thought it was just the sweetest little town filled with so many cute shops. I was just looking through my photos from last year, since we are planning to visit again this May, and thought I’d share some of my favourite shops in the Fort Langley area.

As someone who lives in the suburbs of Toronto, I love finding little gems outside of the downtown core. Vancouver is no different, I LOVE downtown Vancouver, and have found so many amazing places in the core, but the suburbs of Vancouver are just as amazing. Fort Langley was one of my favourite towns outside of Vancouver, and I can’t wait to share some of my favourite little shops in the area.

The sweetest house with the sweetest shop, and the yummiest restaurant on-site. Despite loving the brunch I enjoyed here with my sisters and Mom, I also had a blast looking through their their shop. They carry the cutest selection of home goods, mixed with adorable pastel-coloured clothing. I love following the shop on Instagram, as they often get new items and you can shop online if you don’t live nearby!





In the midst of transitioning to a waste-free lifestyle, I stumbled upon Chuckling Duckling Farm and fell immediately in love. I was amazed to see some of my favourite home cleaning brands (like Sapadilla), but in refillable formats. While bulk stores are definitely on the rise in Toronto, it was in Vancouver where I first discovered these — which makes sense since the West Coast has always been ahead of us as far as “eco” options go! Chuckling Duckling also offers cute soap-making classes, a great idea for a bachelorette party, and other workshops! Check out their site for more on the workshops they offer.



If you love home decor as much as me, you’ll love Livingroom in Fort Langley. It was here that I discovered my love of Fort Candle Co. candles, soy-based candles made in the area! They also have some really sweet eclectic home design pieces that can transform your home. But one of my favourite finds were these little clay herb tags!


Maven is another little shop with plenty to offer — from locally made leather bags, to planters, knick knacks and paper goods, it’s stocked with tons of local goodies. If there was on thing I learned in Vancouver, it’s that so many awesome entrepreneurs live here, and local shops are extremely supportive stocking mostly local goodies.

Little Donkey is a beer and burrito joint in downtown Fort Langley. They have a great list of beers to try and delicious burritos! It was here that I learned that burrito means “little donkey” in Spanish — Mind. Blown.


Not technically in Fort Langley, but in Langley proper is this awesome home store The Passionate Home. I fell in love with the aesthetic of the store and everything it offered — some jewelry, some beauty products and of course amazing home goods including very cute welcome mats! I couldn’t leave this off the list since it’s only a 5-10 min drive from Fort Langley. I fell in love with this candle votive (image below) which would be great for burning my mini Fort Candle Co. candles in!


 



Another shop in Langley City, The Local Space is exactly what it says it is. A shop dedicated to selling local goodies from local entrepreneurs. One of my favourite brands, k’pure is sold here. A clean, natural skincare brand from the West Coast. This shop also stocks Brunette the Label, Native shoes (the cutest waterproof shoes!) and State of Grace goodies.

In a few months we are heading back to Vancouver for another visit, and there are some new places in Langley I am looking forward to checking out, including:

SHARE:

03 February 2020

My beach bag essentials


We are going to St. Lucia! And I am so excited.

Two years ago, on my 30th birthday, we were in Jamaica sipping on mojitos (or mimosas ... who knows) when we met Jenny and Derek. Actually I lied, I met Jenny during a pit stop on the way to the resort -- we were both in line for the washroom, and the boys were likely already drinking Red Stripe. Anyways, fast forward and after that vacation we stayed friends! Our birthdays are one day apart, which explains a lot. I've always gravitated towards other Sagittarius' and some of my best friends have birthdays close to mine! All this to say, we are heading to St. Lucia WITH Jenny and Derek ... and the countdown on my phone isn't even a small inclination into how excited I am for this trip. We normally go away early January, but with my new job we had to wait a bit longer for a winter getaway. BUT BRING IT ON!

I spent the afternoon at Yorkdale getting some vacation clothes, which I might share in an upcoming post -- or in my Instagram stories (so follow me here!). But realistically, most of what I wear on vacation will be a repeat from our honeymoon... I'm trying not to buy unnecessary stuff anymore since fashion can be so unsustainable. Instead, I'm focusing on shopping for timeless, good quality items I can get a lot of wear out of.

One item I did splurge on today was a new beach bag. I've been using my beige Longchamp Le Pliage tote as a beach bag for years (and I mean YEARS!) but now it's serving as my gym bag so I thought it would be a great time to update my beach tote. The Tory Burch Ella Mini tote has been on my mind for a while. My grandma -- yup! you heard right -- has the black patent mini and I just love it. It's the perfect size for my petite build, and BONUS! it was on sale today. Unfortunately it's not online anymore, but you can shop a similar one here.

So, what will I be carrying in my tote during our trip to St. Lucia? Read on for my beach bag essentials.

1. Not really IN my beach bag per say, but my L*Space Lee Lee bikini will be the first thing I pack for this trip. I bought it for our honeymoon, and it was the best bathing suit splurge I have ever made. It's reversible, comfortable and amazing quality. I got it at Sandpipers in Yorkville, which is a great bathing suit shop with tons of amazing brands. I was hoping to find a Vitamin A swimsuit I loved there, since their fabric is Ecolux (made of recycled Nylon) but unfortunately none of them fit me, so I got this awesome L*Space bikini instead and I'm very happy with it.

2. Coola sunscreen has been a favourite of mine for YEARS. Like even before "clean" skincare was on anyone's radar, Coola and I were buds. For a long time it was really hard to find, but it's now available at Sephora, and my nail salon The Ten Spot sells it too which makes me very happy. The Cucumber Matte lotion for face is my favourite because it calms my skin and protects it from UV rays while reducing shine. This is a great product to use as a primer under makeup as well! (Note: If Coola is out of your budget, try this Attitude SPF30 Face Stick!)

3. For midday touchups, I love the Supergoop! Invincible Setting Powder, because it's high in SPF, clean in ingredients, and great for reducing shine. It's pretty hard to find in Canada, but I usually order from Revolve and it comes pretty quickly. Whenever I'm in the states I buy a few at Anthropologie or Sephora -- I'm notorious for stocking up on beauty products in the U.S.

4. As a body sunscreen, Tyler and I both use the Beautycounter Countersun mineral sunscreen. It's formulated with non-nano Zinc and California poppy to deliver sun protection, and hydration. I love this sunscreen. It was really hard to find a good clean sunscreen that didn't have oxybenzoate in it, and wasn't overly greasy. Anyone who has tried other clean sunscreens on the market knows that GREASE is a common complaint, but this one is amazing and has a subtle lemon scent to it.

5. A cute beach hat is a must! They block the sun and protect you from heat stroke. The one in the photo above is not my exact hat, but it's close enough. I actually got my actual "Beach Please" hat in the dollar zone at Target for $5 USD last year. I love it and can't wait to wear it on the beach in St. Lucia.

6. I haven't bought a new pair of sunglasses in years. I probably should, but I haven't found any that I love lately -- except this cute pair at Tory Burch that I tried on today, but had to talk myself out of. I have about four functional pairs from when I worked retail way back in the day, and to be honest since nothing is wrong with them I find it hard to buy new ones. I absolutely LOVE my Ray-Ban aviators. I have a gold mirrored lense pair, and an all-black pair. I will bring BOTH on our trip!

7. Zinc oxide is the only all-natural, broad spectrum (UVA and UVB) sunscreen on the market. Hurraw uses non-nano Zinc in this lip balm to provide sun protection for your lips, which means only clean ingredients can be absorbed into your body. I love this lip balm, it feels like silk and really prevents my lips from burning. You can buy Hurraw lip balm on well.ca.

8. I would be lying if I didn't list SNACKS on my beach bag must-have list. Anyone who knows me, knows I always have food stashed in my car, desk and purse. I have a fear of going hungry ... that or I just love food. I'm packing enough Usana Wholebio bars for my week in St. Lucia, since I've conditioned myself to eat one a day now. I love these bars, they're stacked with gut-friendly nutrients and tons of fibre - wink! wink! I order them through a friend of mine, her website is here. (Note: Other products I love by Usana are: Nutrimeal Free meal replacement powder, and the Digestive Enzymes)

9. I can't get enough sun protection for my face! Beautycounter Dew Skin is a tinted moisturizer with SPF 20 and sheer coverage, perfect for a day at the beach. It's one of my best sellers, and for good reason. It's perfect for a beach vacation, or to wear under more full-coverage makeup that maybe lacks sun protection.

10. Another item that isn't exactly IN my beach bag, but is a beach day necessity is the Beautycounter After Sun Cooling Gel, to soothe your sun-drenched skin and boost hydration. It smells exactly like you'd imagine a beach vacation to smell like, so it's also the perfect vacation sidekick.

11. I love a good book I can read while getting some sun! Although, as a former English-major I am not sure I can call Stassi Schroeder a good writer. Regardless, I'm almost positive Next Level Basic will be entertaining, as I did hear a sneak peek on a recent episode of Vanderpump Rules, and it sounds like the PERFECT beach read.

12. The PERFECT beach tote, I am obsessed with my NEW Tory Burch Ella Mini tote.

13. Another recent purchase are these Tkees Gemma slides. I bought some Tkees for our honeymoon and had them personalized with my new initials, but they came in and they were too small. So, I sold them (ya, someone bought them even with my initials on them ...) and ordered a new style in a bigger size! Can't wait for these bad boys to get here, I'm really hoping they fit nicely because I just love the Gemma style and think these will look great with so many of my warm weather outfits!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

SHARE:

09 January 2020

Our Honeymoon, Part One: Barcelona and the South of France

I normally write my travel posts on the way home, but my iPad died right before our honeymoon and I JUST replaced it so I apologize that this has taken so long to get up.

We had the most amazing honeymoon, and I honestly could cry every time I think about it because I didn’t want it to end. It was nearly three weeks of absolute heaven. From the south of France, to Barcelona and Mallorca, we really just loved it all and can’t wait to get back to Europe soon!

While we were away I received so many messages from people asking me for our itinerary. And while I am sure no one will do the EXACT same trip as us, I thought I'd share our itinerary and some photos of our favourite spots we stopped at along the way! (Note: I am writing a separate post on Mallorca — so stay tuned!)

Here is a breakdown of our itinerary:

Day 1 - Barcelona
Day 2-4 - Nice (with  day trips to Monaco, Eze, Villefranche-sur-mer)
Day 5-7 - Cannes, Saint Tropez
Day 8-10 - Lauris, Provence
Day 11 - Marseille, Calenques
Day 12-14 - Cap Rocat, Palma
Day 15-18 - Port de Soller (with day trips to Soller, Deia, Valdemossa)
Day 19 - Barcelona

Barcelona

We flew into Barcelona because we had free flights from WestJet (thank you!) and wanted a direct flight as close to France / Mallorca as we could get. I am so happy we chose Barcelona to start and end our trip, because the city is absolutely stunning. For our first stop in Barcelona, we stayed at Hotel Regina which is at the north end of La Rambla. It was an amazing location for checking out La Rambla, Placa Reial and the port. The port was my least favourite part of Barcelona; I am not really a fan of ANYWHERE massive cruise ships stop. I find those areas are always overpriced and too busy.

On the way back home we stayed at Icon BCN, closer to the Sagrada Famiglia, because we had purchased tickets ahead of time (highly recommend doing this because they often sell out the day-of and then you won’t be able to see inside this masterpiece). It was about a 20-minute walk to the church and WELL worth it. The walk was stunning because all of Barcelona is just so beautiful. We also loved the hotel, so we highly recommend staying here if you’re going to be in Barcelona for a few nights. The hotel offers free bike and scooter rentals. If you stay there make sure you check out the back patio and pool! Also take a few rides in their very VINTAGE elevator.








Nice

After a night in Barcelona we flew to Nice via EasyJet. While in the South of France we had a rental car so we could sight-see. Others I spoke to prior to our trip used the trains. We saw a lot of train stations, so I'd definitely suggest checking out the train map before booking a rental car if you aren't comfortable driving in busy cities and through crazy, winding mountains. Lucky Tyler is a confident driver so we chose the rental car option.

In Nice, we stayed at an AirBNB in Grimaldi, which is easily my favourite part of Nice. The streets are lined with cafe after cafe and I just felt so at home there. Every morning we woke up and chose a new cafe to have a French breakfast at. A French breakfast is literally a coffee, baguette and croissant (see below). It was heaven. Our days were spent exploring nearby towns, but at night we found ourselves back in Grimaldi hopping from restaurant to restaurant trying a new bottle of rose and enjoying Italian food. Yep - there are lots of Italians in Nice since it is so close to Italy, so most of the dinner menus are Italian! No complaints there.
Le Plongeoir is a very cool over water restaurant in Nice serving Mediterranean cuisine. In the summer there are two diving boards open for jumping into the Mediterranean ocean. It was a cool experience and we were lucky enough to get reservations there on a very beautiful and sunny day!
The beach clubs in Nice are amazing. My personal favourite was Ruhl Plage, where we watched the sunset with a glass of rose every night. The beaches in Nice are all rocky, so don't forget to pack water shoes (I love Native). These will also come in handy in the Calenques and Mallorca!



I recommend staying at Hotel Negresco, but if it’s out if your budget at least go check this hotel out. Every floor is different, and the walls are essentially a museum. Also the main floor washrooms are a dream (see snapshot from the women’s washroom below). Check out my Instagram stories for a tour of both the men's and women's main floor washrooms. The bar on the main floor is everything Tyler dreams of in a Man Cave (photo below), and with your drinks come some divine fleur d'orange infused marshmallows which you must try - shame on all the people who left theirs untouched! You don't know what you were missing! Sorry not a lot of photos from here as it’s a very dark place.



Old Nice

Old Nice was cute. It was a bit more touristy than I imagined it was going to be. It was literally just a long street of open-air restaurants with hosts out front trying to get you to come in and eat. I wasn't a huge fan. I'd recommend Grimaldi over Old Nice to anyone who asks.

Montecarlo, Monaco and Eze

A great day trip we did from Nice was to Montecarlo, Monaco and Eze. You can easily see both places in one day. We started out driving to Montecarlo to check out the famous Casino. It was underwhelming, so instead we walked through a few stores and then descended on the port to check out some ridiculous yachts. After getting lost trying to find our way back up to street level, we decided to head to Eze for lunch since Montecarlo was so busy.

Eze is a tiny village, nestled at the top of a hill between Nice and Monaco. It's rich in history, but to be honest I was more interested in the food and views. At the very top of the village, you'll find Le Jardin Exotique de Eze, an exotic botanical garden that costs 6 Euros to get in but gets you PRICELESS views. Also Chateau Eza is a great spot to grab a drink and enjoy some appetizers. After hiking all the way to the top of the village, you'll be hungry!


Also in Eze is the Fragonard Perfume Factory. We stopped in to do a little shopping (I got my Mom some lavender-scented goodies) and to check out the perfume-making process. I saw many of these stores around France, but none in Spain ... I wish they were sold in Canada!
Villefranche-sur-mer

Another amazing day trip from Nice is to Villefranche-sur-mer. Easily accessible by train (we know because we parked at the train station), this cute and colourful beach town was probably one of our favourite stops along the Cote d'Azur. I loved the beach here. It was made up of tiny tiny pebbles that rolled off your toes when they dried. It was also the first place we realized how densely salted the Mediterranean is, and where I also learned to not shave and then swim in the ocean - ouch.



Saint Paul de Vence

Between Nice and Cannes, we decided to check out the Medieval village of Saint Paul de Vence. It was a fun and windy road to get there, but so worth the drive. The pebbled streets reminded me of a scene out of Romeo and Juliet, and I just felt so much love for this untouched little village. It resembles a fort, with large exterior walls that protected it. And the coolest part is, you can walk along these walls and see the entire village. Tyler was amazed there were no railings -- something that would never fly in Canada!




Cannes

On Day 5 we made it to Cannes in time for dinner. Upon first impression, I did not like Cannes. It seemed too modern and hip for me. But after taking a few recommendations from our AirBNB owner, we found what Cannes is truly all about. In this case Old Cannes was an absolute dream -- and not overly touristy like Old Nice. I adored this little Michelin star restaurant.
Just east of Cannes beach is Bijou Plage, a much less busy and very gorgeous beach where we spent a lot of time.

We also spent time in some of Cannes very famous beach clubs, especially during sunset.


I was surprised by Day 5 that I hadn't seen macarons in the many cafes and boulangeries we had been to. Finally in Cannes I stumbled upon the Laduree store and got my sugar fix. This was the only macaron I ate the entire trip. Shocking!

Saint Tropez

If you're going to Saint Tropez hoping to find a white sandy beach lined with fashionable beach clubs, keep driving. No actually. The beach of Ramatuelle, where many of the popular beach clubs lie, is often mistaken as Saint Tropez. Saint Tropez is actually a very small, very busy port where many massive yachts park. It is rich with amazing restaurants, but if you want the true beach club experience, drive to Ramatuelle and stop at Nikki Beach Saint Tropez! My favourite part of Saint Tropez? The Dior cafe!

Provence

We're leaving the coast for a bit here. We spent a weekend at a vineyard in Lauris called Domaine de Fontanille. When we arrived it was blissfully sunny, but by the next morning it felt like we were in the English countryside. It was rainy and gloomy, but that didn't stop us from grabbing umbrellas and heading out to the vineyard with a bottle of the house rose. We tasted some grapes that were missed during harvest and they were deliciously sweet. Then we went wine tasting with the very Australian sommelier, who taught us tons about biodynamic wine making. I realized I much prefer wine that is made in metal barrels than that from oak barrels. Mind. Blown.

On site, the hotel has two places to eat; A casual bistro and a gourmet, Michelin-star restaurant. We chose the bistro for all of our meals, including breakfast which is not included but is well-worth the price of 23 Euros per person including champagne!


We had so much fun chilling out for a few days here, and drank PLENTY of rose. I wish we had brought a bottle home!

Our room at Domaine de Fontenille was absolutely stunning. We stayed in the Executive Room which has a private terrace. When you first walk into the room there is a long hallway which brings you to the bedroom, stunning glass doors which open to the patio, and the most grand bathroom I have ever seen. The bathroom had a freestanding tub, walk-in shower, towel warmer, separate toilet room and a double sink. Bathroom goals for sure!




Nearby towns, Lauris and Cadenet are very cute, and worth checking out. But keep in mind European shop hours are funny. They open early, close for most of the day, and then open LATE for dinner. We found ourselves always looking for a place to eat during siesta time. Silly Canadians!

Marseille

Marseille was the only real disappointment of our trip... if I can even call it that. The hotel I booked on Expedia was in a great location, but the room was very small and it felt like we were on a cruise ship. The old port of Marseille itself is a very touristy area, and a cruise ship HOT SPOT, so I wasn’t overly impressed with it. However, just south of Marseille is a very sweet beach town called Bonneviene which we really liked, and of course a short drive from Marseille brings you into the Calenques mountains which are STUNNING. I highly recommend checking them out and doing a few hikes to various calenques, because the water is crystal clear, cool, and stunning! Below photos are of Calenques Blanches, and the port in Marseille.



Next stop: Mallorca. But you’ll have to wait to hear more about Mallorca ... so stay tuned for my next travel blog!

SHARE:
Blogger Template Created by pipdig