29 March 2021

Our Babymoon at The Elora Mill

We wanted to get a babymoon in before I get too big to walk and sleep comfortably in another space (a little late, I haven't slept well in months!). The Elora Mill Hotel and Spa seemed like the perfect place for a winter getaway -- but we were pleasantly surprised with amazing weather that felt more like late spring - early summer. The Elora Mill checked all of our boxes; It's pet-friendly, walking distance to so many great shops and restaurants, there are amazing views of the Elora Gorge, hiking trails nearby, and an incredible spa and rooftop pool. What more could we ask for? Actually, their restaurant is also phenomenal, so there really isn't anything missing from this destination.

The Elora Mill dates back to the 1800s when mills were used for industrial purposes. But in 2018, after a massive overhaul, the Elora Mill opened as a modern hotel situated in one of the cutest towns in Ontario. In fact, Chevrolet named Elora the most road trippable town in Canada! I'd agree since it resembles an old European town, and has something for everyone!

In the summer you can enjoy a tube down the gorge, swim in the quarry or hike the many trails nearby (see photos from our hike below!). In the winter, enjoy the heated rooftop pool, spend some time at the spa, do a brewery tour or snuggle up beside the wood burning fireplace in your room!


Speaking of rooms, we stayed in a pet-friendly Coachhouse room. There are three of these rooms available to book, and each has it's own enclosed back patio where dogs can safely roam and get fresh air. When we arrived there were pet bowls, a pet bed, treats and the cutest little stuffed toy for Colby. It's safe to say he was thrilled to try some new treats and have a new little dinosaur toy! Don't quote me on this, but the gentleman at the front gate even offered to walk our dog if needed, but we planned each day around getting Colby some fresh air and exercise, and even took him on a hike along the gorge with us.







If you're lucky enough to get to eat in one of the outdoor heated igloos you can even dine with your doggy! We didn't because Colby is a big bigger and we wanted to enjoy our meal without having him growl and chuff at us for a bit! We always look for pet-friendly places when travelling locally because we don't like to leave our fluffy buddy behind.

Besides being pet-friendly, our room had a propane fireplace on the patio and a wood burning fireplace in the room. It had a king-size bed and beautiful walk-in shower. The bathroom really was stunning and gave me so much design inspo. for a future bathroom we want to add in our basement at home. We loved our room so much, but I will say that if you go sans-pets you are able to get a room with a stunning view of the river and falls!

We were okay without the view if it meant bringing Colby along, because there are so many other opportunities to see the Elora Gorge. From our igloo at dinner, our table at breakfast, the spa and the pool, you are able to see the ridiculously beautiful river and falls that the Elora Mill is built above.

Here is our view from breakfast.

The breakfast menu was hands down our favourite. We booked the "awake" package which included breakfast. We both tried something different each day so we were able to samples a few different menu items. Shown below is the crepe, quiche, french toast and the slow cooked lamb belly. All of it was amazing, but I think the quiche was my absolute favourite. I also recommend one of their croissants as a side. Yum!


For dinner, the first night we were there we had dinner in one of the outdoor heated igloos. The igloos are such a great way to extend dining during COVID since restrictions have really limited how many people can eat in the restaurant at one time. When we booked the hotel a month prior, I called immediately to book our dinner and request an igloo. We were lucky enough to snag one! It was so cozy, and had a little fireplace, speaker and blankets. We shared an app (gnocchi, shown below) and enjoyed two delicious plates. Tyler's burger looked unreal but I didn't try it since it wasn't cooked well-done and I am a paranoid preggo. One of my favourite features was that their drink menu offers spiritless cocktails. I had a spiritless Apple Collins (also shown below) and it was absolutely delicious. So delicious I had another one by the pool the next day!



Speaking of the pool, it's the perfect place to hang out on a snowy or sunny afternoon. It's also a great place to relax after a massage at the spa. Our first day there I enjoyed a prenatal massage at the spa before hanging out in the pool. The spa is gorgeous, and with the windows open you can hear the natural sound of the falls outside. Our second day there was 19 degrees so after spending some time in town we hung out by the pool and actually got a little tan!

The spa lounge has one of my favourite teas, Tea Forte which I enjoyed warm before my massage, and after my massage I poured over ice and drank it poolside!






The town of Elora has so many great shops and restaurants. There is something for everyone, but we love to eat and try new restaurants so most of the places we went were for food and drinks. What we loved most about Elora is how everything is walkable. We valeted our car when we arrive and didn't need it during our entire stay!

Here are a few of the local spots we hit up:

The Elora Brewing Co. - We’ve been a fan of their sour beer for a while now so we were sure to stop in and enjoy a snack and a flight (well, Tyler had a flight!). Their charcuterie board was delicious and their in-house beer jam is to die for!


Elora Distilling Company - They distill their own spirits on-site and offer tours of their distillery as well as cocktail making classes. Tyler tried a flight of cocktails while I had a virgin Moscow Mule!

La Fontana - Their Instagram definitely drew me in. I was starving the evening we went so I didn’t snap a photo of any of their food, but our pizzas were delicious and I highly recommend the arugula salad and warm olives to start. How cute is their covered patio, situated along the river?

The Wild Tart - I love macarons, so any place we go where I can find a shop selling macarons I will definitely hit up! This little cafe offers the cutest high tea dining experience, but all I did was stop in for a sleeve of macarons, which did not disappoint!


Scoop - Not even ten steps from the Coachhouse is the yummiest little ice cream shop in town. I had pegged them as a place to go before even arriving in Elora. We tried their two dairy-free options and were so impressed with the flavours and consistency. Sometimes dairy-free can be iffy, but they nailed both flavours!


We had the best time at the Elora Mill and can’t wait to return, hopefully this fall, with our little baby in tow! I imagine the autumn colours are absolutely stunning. If you go or have been, comment below with what your favourite part of Elora is, or what you hope to do when you do go!

xo, S.

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19 March 2021

Baby S’s nursery reveal!

It’s finally ready for a reveal, our baby’s nursery has been a vision for some time now. As it came together the nursery (or baby room) totally became something different than what I initially imagined, but I couldn’t be happier with its final look!

My original vision was something more woodsy and natural, but as I started to piece it together I decided a nice neutral, greenery-inspired room was perfect for our little addition! I also realized how expensive certain items were, and for a nursery that would only be utilized for a few years before being turned into a toddler room, I couldn’t justify the high ticket prices on some items I had dreamed up prior to starting the design.

What we ended up with is a green and white oasis perfect for ME, who will be spending ample time in there, and totally calming for a tiny baby! I went with a really minimalist look, and chose some “splurge” items that I could not see myself living without. This is what we ended up with...

For the crib, I originally thought I wanted a natural wooden crib in the same design. This crib is Storkcraft from Wayfair.ca. The reason I ended up with the white is because this bed also transforms into a toddler bed. I thought for the long-term white would be more practical and less trendy. I love the flat wooden bars along the side, and am happy with the quality of this piece. It was really easy to put together — I did it all by myself!

The mattress was a splurge item. It’s a Newton breathable mattress ($400 on Amazon). The cover zips off for easy cleaning and the inside can be hosed off in the yard or shower. It’s definitely not something everyone will prioritize as a “splurge” but for me this mattress was a must-have!

For the rocking chair, I really wanted this expensive chair I saw at Pottery Barn, but for the amount of time I will use a rocking chair I just couldn’t justify the cost. I found an almost identical dupe for it on Wayfair (shown below), which is so comfortable and I absolutely love. The faux fur pillow is from Bouclair and the crescent moon pillow is from a local shop, Rust and Rubies.


For a change table, I chose a dresser for space reasons. I didn’t have enough room for both a dresser and a change table, so this needed to double as both. This dresser is by Storkcraft from Wayfair.ca. It was the perfect size for our small space and such a lucky find! The top drawer has diapers and wipes for quick changes and the changing pad is the Hatch Baby Grow, which weighs the baby daily, helping you keep track of their weight via an app on your phone. 



I really love the Hatch Baby app (not an ad!). It’s an all-in-one place where I can keep track of the baby’s growth, while also tracking feeding times and diaper changes. It’s a great app for new mamas and replaces various other tracking apps. It’s very helpful for understanding your baby’s sleep and feeding patterns, so you can develop a regular routine. The app also connects to our night light and sound machine, which was graciously gifted to us by a good friend. The Hatch Baby Rest sound and light machine is great for babies and toddlers, especially while sleep training. The light mimics morning and light so your baby can start to make connections with when they should be awake or sleeping!


For shelves and accent pieces, I kept everything else pretty minimal. I got the floating shelves from Wayfair and used some extra Rae Dunn items I had purchased without thought a few years ago. This little bird house is also a piggy bank — It’s never too early to start teaching kids about saving money! The footrest pouf is from Simons and was very affordable ($60!). I just love this piece and know I will be able to use it elsewhere in the house when my baby no longer needs a “nursery” (insert a million tears here, because that thought makes me so sad!).



Something else I have in the nursery is a Snuggle Me Organic lounger and nursing pillow. I got both in the “moss” colour, which matches the IKEA carpet perfectly! The lounger will likely not be used often in the nursery, but the nursing pillow will definitely come in handy during feeds so it was important to me that it matched the rest of the room. 

Some final things to mention are the baby care items I chose. I am very particular with skincare items I use on myself, and I will be just as particular with what I use on my little one! For all of their baby care items, such as hair and body wash, bum balm, powder, etc., I am relying on Rocky Mountain Soap Co. baby products. I love this Canadian brand as they consider the environmental impacts of their business while creating amazing, clean products! I use their products on myself, and will use their products on Baby S!



For detergent, I use Ecomax hypoallergenic for the whole family! And for Diapers and wipes, we will be using Pampers Pure (I have some samples of Pampers Sensitive in his drawer that I will be using up before opening the Pampers Pure box!). While safety was a big concern when choosing baby gear, it was just as important that I choose clean products to use on their body!

A few final details worth mentioning: The green accent wall is Sherwin Williams “Secret Garden”. The faux fiddle leaf fig tree and wicker planter are from Ikea. And yes, I have an obsession with muslin swaddles! The basket for the swaddles is from Real Canadian Superstore. Finally, once we decide on baby’s name, I’ll be adding a wooden name sign over his crib. The wall looks sort of empty right now, but I think a simple wooden name sign will be the perfect finishing touch!

Thanks for stopping by for Baby Sherwin’s nursery reveal! If you love it, leave a comment below!

xo,

Sera

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14 March 2021

Early pregnancy must-haves

My first 17 weeks of pregnancy were hard, I won’t lie. Morning (or all-day) sickness can take a toll on you, but throughout my entire first trimester (plus some!) I took notes of everything that helped make those rough weeks a little easier.

Here are my first trimester must-haves:

Lululemon Align leggings - I’ve been a big fan of these leggings for years, but the moment I found out I was pregnant I ordered 2 more pairs in a size up. Pregnancy, even early on, can bother your tummy and you won’t want to wear anything tight around your waist for a long time. I recommend these leggings and I recommend sizing up for ultimate comfort. They will stretch with you during your pregnancy!

Wire-free bras - Similar to your stomach, basically anywhere on your torso will begin to feel uncomfortable fairly early on. I found wired bras gave me horrible acid reflux and the minute I changed to looser, wire-free bras I began to feel better. I recommend the Bravado Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bras. I figured since I was going to need nursing bras anyways, buying these early would help get my money's worth. They are SO comfortable, I will probably buy the non-nursing version when I am done nursing!

Tums and Ginger Gravel - I was nauseous day and night beginning around week 5 of my pregnancy. Now that I am further along I am only really nauseous when I'm hungry. But during the really tough days I found Ginger Gravol really helped with my nausea, and before bed I always take a Tums because I still get really bad acid reflux from eating before bed (something you need to do to get maximum sleep in otherwise you will wake up several times to eat in the night).

A giant water bottle (and lots of ice) - It’s critical that you stay well-hydrated during pregnancy. Not only is this optimal for you and baby, but it’s also really helpful with nausea / morning sickness. I found drinking from a straw allowed me to drink the most amount of water, and the colder the water the better. I love my massive Starbucks tumbler! I also love adding Nuun Hydration vitamin tabs to my water for a little extra flavour!

Smoothie packs - Ice cold smoothies are an excellent way to get tons of nutrients and feel good! It’s exhausting the first few weeks of pregnancy, and honestly even making a smoothie was overwhelming for me. I started to rely on Evive smoothie packs (I like the flavours Yogi, Viva and Samourai) as they’re super easy and very delicious. Just pop the smoothie packs into a mason jar, fill with a milk of your choice (I chose oat milk), way 20 mins stir and enjoy. For an even smoother consistency I would pop mine in the Vitamix for a few seconds.

Pregnancy pillow - Aches and pains start early, and so does the overwhelming worry about HOW you’re sleeping. Note: side sleeping is best, on your left side is even more optimal. A pregnancy pillow helped me have the most comfortable sleep and allowed me, someone who normally sleeps on her back or stomach, to become a side sleeper. I recommend this one.

Heating pad and / or Magic Bag - Welcome lower back pain, neck pack, groin pain. All the pains. Tyler bought me a heating pad for my birthday and it was a lifesaver. I also have two Magic Bags, one for my lower back and one for my neck. I love these so much as you can control how hot they get, and then can be a huge help for localized aches and pains. I recommend this heating pad, and these are the Magic Bags I have: square and long.

Pregnancy-safe skincare - This was never something I thought I had to worry about, but you forget how many toxins and chemicals can be in our personal care items. I ended up switching to all Beautycounter products for my first trimester of pregnancy because they are totally pregnancy safe, chemical free and retinol-free. Moving into my second trimester I felt more comfortable switching to a few cheaper Rocky Mountain Soap Co. products. I also invested in their baby care products! I love love love this brand, they are Canadian, clean, they are truly committed to the environment and their products seriously kick a$$!

Crackers and granola bars for beside the bed - This might seem unusual, but talk to anyone who suffered from morning sickness and they will tell you they ALWAYS had snacks with them. I carried multiple bars in my purse at all times (Kind and Made Good are still my go-to brands!) and always had Premium Plus crackers beside the bed. You will wake up so hungry and nauseous in the morning, if you don't eat something right away you will be sick (that was the case for me anyways!) so I always woke up and had some crackers and a granola bar before heading downstairs for another breakfast.

Stretch mark cream or oil - I am currently working on another blog all about my favourite belly creams, oils and butters. Yep, I tried a few! As your stomach stretches you will feel itchy and uncomfortable. Finding a cream or oil that helps with this, and nourishes your skin so you can hopefully avoid or reduce the number of stretch marks, will be a critical part of your pregnancy!

Gum and sour candy - I don't know what it is about pregnancy but you get this really gross taste in your mouth ALL THE TIME. It's probably partly due to being sick all the time, and also from dehydrating. Regardless, I recommend carrying gum with you and I also found great success in Preggie Pop Drop sour candies! They weren't cheap, but they helped with nausea and the icky taste in my mouth!

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01 February 2021

Hotel review: Hideaway at Royalton Saint Lucia

We stayed at The Hideaway at Royalton Saint Lucia last year, and were blown away with all that Saint Lucia has to offer. From hiking, the rainforest, volcanos and sulphuric springs, there is so much to do on the island of Saint Lucia and we can’t wait to share it all with you!


About Saint Lucia

Saint Lucia is a small island in the West Indies, about 27 miles long and 14 miles wide. If you wanted to, you could drive around the entire island in 3.5 hours, but be prepared for windy, hilly roads! The weather is WARM, the people are the friendliest and the food is incredible. Saint Lucia is known for growing and exporting a variety of mangoes, bananas, coconuts and citrus fruits. Locals grow and eat breadfruit, carrots and other root vegetables. While in Saint Lucia, be sure to try local coffee, rum and some plantain dishes - yum!

The rooms at The Hideaway at Royalton Saint Lucia

The rooms at The Hideaway are beautiful and spacious. There is a large tub, large shower and a double sink area. Rooms have either two queen beds or one king, and every room has a pullout double bed. There is also lots of space for unpacking clothes (I liked to feel settled), and a safe in each room. One of my favourite things in the room was the vanity area where I could do my hair and makeup while Tyler was showering. It’s always nice to not feel cramped in the bathroom area. Note: Saint Lucia uses the same power plugs as Great Britain (240v), but the Royalton has one 110v in each room which is how I used my hair straightener and curling iron. If you want to plug in more than one device at a time, there are USB plugs in the wall, OR you will need to bring an adapter/converter combo unit. I recommend THIS one.

We chose our room in advance of arriving (cost = $60 USD) so we could pick a room with a sunset view. After researching on Trip Advisor and watching videos on YouTube we decided building 3 would be best, and the top floor (5) would have the most amazing view. We were not disappointed when we arrived, I loved that our room had perfect ocean views, but we could also see the rest of the resort and some mountains. If you want strictly oceanfront, you’ll need to book Diamond Club at either The Royalton (amazing for families) or Hideaway at The Royalton (adults only). For a swim out room I recommend buildings 2 or 3 for all-day sun, but keep in mind your view won’t be as nice because you’ll be on the ground floor.




The Restaurants

One of the reasons we love Royalton resorts is for their restaurants. The food is consistently amazing and there is something for everyone to enjoy. If you stay at The Hideaway you have an extra restaurant just for Hideaway guests called Dorado which is a seafood restaurant open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Every all-inclusive resort has a buffet, and to be honest I prefer the buffet for breakfast because I never know what I will feel like. Some mornings I have a big appetite and others mornings I don’t so I like the opportunity to pick and choose what I want at breakfast without feeling like I am wasting anything. I really enjoyed the crepe station at the Royalton St. Lucia and the fresh fruit was delicious. There was also an impressive omelette station that was a big hit!

For lunch if you aren’t going to the buffet, I recommend ordering a pizza or calzone to-go from Grazie and enjoying it poolside. Grazie is open for lunch and dinner and their wood oven baked pizzas are delicious. I also loved the pesto pasta and calamari. For dessert I highly recommend the crepes.

Zen is a sushi and teppanyaki restaurant, and the only restaurant on site that takes reservations. For sushi, you can just walk-in, but if you want that teppanyaki experience (so worth it!) book a few days in advance! It was so much fun, and TONS of food, but be warned, you will be required to catch food in your mouth and chant loudly before the experience is over.

Hunter, the steakhouse is so amazing we went there twice. It’s not often you find good steak on a resort, but the petite filet was incredible and I also really enjoyed the baked salmon. For sides I recommend the onion rings, and a beet and feta salad to start. I did not like any of the desserts here.

I think the winner for best restaurant on-site had to be Calypso, which serves West Indian fare. Our first visit to Calypso we actually ordered EVERYTHING on the menu to share at a table of four. Standout items were the cod fish fritters, patties and the smoked pork ribs. Don’t worry, when we went back later in the week we were much less gluttonous.

There is also a sports bar, Score, but I can’t lie, I didn’t step foot inside it. It’s upstairs near the main lobby, and apparently a late night hot spot, but I like to get to bed early so I don’t miss a minute of sunshine!

In the main lobby at the Royalton there is also a coffee shop and ice cream shop ... the orange sorbet was delicious, and apparently so was the iced coffee (sorry — I’m not a coffee drinker)!

What to do nearby

Hike to Pigeon Island - Pigeon Island is about a 20-25 minute walk from the Royalton and costs $10 USD per person to get in (Saint Lucia operates in both USD and ECD). Once you are in there are two paths to follow that will bring you to the top of each peak. We hiked to the lower peak where there is a lookout spot that has incredible views of the Sandals Grande Saint Lucian resort and on a clear day you can see the island of Martinique.

Rodney Bay Marina - The Rodney Bay marina area is a very cute spot for duty-free shopping and has some of the most amazing local fare. We took a cab to Rodney Bay and walked around for a few hours before enjoying lunch on the beach at Spinnakers. I’d also recommend checking out Harbour Club hotel and the shops and restaurants surrounding it. If you don’t want to take a taxi back, you can take a water taxi which will bring you back to the beach at The Royalton.

Friday night street party - Every Friday evening in Saint Lucia there is a street party in Gros Islet where the locals and tourists get together to enjoy local food, dance to Soca and party. We didn’t go (we opted for the silent disco at our resort) but it sounds like a lot of fun! If our flight wasn’t early the next morning we likely would have gone so we could meet locals and experience the culture.

Eat at The Naked Fisherman - The next door hotel, Cap Maison, has a famous restaurant on its beach called The Naked Fisherman. It’s open to the public so we spent an afternoon exploring the hotel, eating on the beach and swimming in the massive waves. The water here was crystal clear! But don’t be fooled, you can’t actually walk here. Because Saint Lucia is so rocky and hilly, you need to take a short cab to Cap Maison to enjoy the beach and their waterfront restaurants!







Excursions

There are so many excursions to nearby sights, some you can take by car/bus and others you can get to by boat.

I recommend the 6-hour boat tour that leaves from the Royalton beach and brings you snorkeling, to the Pitons, to a sulphur spring, and the volcano site where you can take a mud bath in the volcanic sulphur mud that Saint Lucia is famous for.

Our friends also did a very cool excursion where they were shuttled to the Pitons and completed a hike to the top with a small group of people and a tour guide. I’d only recommend this if you are an experienced hiker and don’t mind the heat. Saint Lucia gets VERY hot during the day!

Transfers and taxis

The hotel is a 90-minute drive from the airport, and when you book most vacation packages your transfers are included. We used the included transfer for our drive to the hotel, but on our way home we booked a private transfer so we did not arrive at the airport too early. Private transfers are also more comfortable, as I find the way home they like to pack you like sardines into buses and it’s just not a nice way to end a vacation.

Taxis on the island are very easy to find, and very reasonably priced. We took a few taxis to and from nearby sights and were impressed by how friendly everyone on the island was.

The weather

Saint Lucia is a tropical island. Where we stayed was fairly dry however there is a rainforest on the island. Because of this there can be tropical storms that fly through, but we didn’t experience much rain while we were there.

Day are extremely hot in Saint Lucia, and the sun is very strong. I recommend sunscreen always (nothing less than SPF 30) and a hat to protect your scalp. Reapply sunscreen often, especially when swimming or sweating, or you’ll be surprised by how quickly you might burn. Evenings are warm and can be quite humid.

What to pack

We definitely overpacked for this trip because we weren’t sure how the weather would be. Most places we have visited have had cooler nights so I was prepared with longer dresses and pants for the evening. I didn’t wear any of it. Nights are warm, even humid at times. I don’t recommend packing jeans, unless they are light in fabric and colour. A jean jacket would be nice in case it got cool at night. Otherwise, pack beachwear, hiking gear, a hat and lots of SPF. To see exactly what I packed, check out this post featuring my Saint Lucia beach bag essentials.


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