Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Charleston City Guide


When the term 'Southern Charm' is ever spoken, what immediately comes to mind for me is Charleston. I first visited the charming city of Charleston, South Carolina in 2017 with Brian, a trip booked on a whim after watching a reality show based in the same city (yes, this is how we sometimes choose destinations.) We were smitten upon landing, and have been wanting to go back ever since.

Fast forward a few years, after again booking a trip on a whim with Sabrina after noticing a discounted flight, and I found myself back in Charleston. This time, the pace was a little slower (I was 27 weeks pregnant) and the itinerary less ambitious, but the feelings were all the same - I've can't wait to go back.

Here's a breakdown of how we spent 2.5 full days in Charleston; what to eat, how to get around and everything along the way.



How To Get To Charleston

I'll be the first to say it: the only frustrating thing about visiting Charleston, South Carolina is that there are no direct flights from my home airport in Toronto. As someone who hates connecting flights with a fiery passion, this can often be a deal-breaker when choosing a destination.

Thankfully there are a few fairly painless options to get to your destination:


  • In the world of connecting flights, getting to Charleston isn't too bad. For both of my trips, we connected in Chicago on the way there, and then through Newark, New Jersey on the way back. TIP: If you have the time for it, I would suggest making the most of your connections. Our first trip, Brian and I choose an eleven hour layover in Chicago which gave us the whole day to get out of the airport and explore the city. On the way home we actually extended the layover to stay a couple of nights in New York City. It felt like three trips in one!

  • There are direct flights from Toronto to either Savannah, Georgia or Myrtle Beach. Both destinations are only a couple of hours drive from Charleston and may be worth checking out before heading to the city.

  •  If you're up for the road trip, Charleston is about a 16 hour drive from Toronto. Definitely not for the faint of heart, but certainly do-able and an option if you crave the open road.





How To Get Around

One of the best things about visiting Charleston is that once you arrive, it's so easy to get around! Sabrina and I took a very quick and inexpensive cab ride from the airport to our hotel in historic Charleston. Other than that and a cab ride back to the airport at the end of our trip, we explored exclusively on-foot.


  • Because Charleston is a fairly small city, and the historic areas are all very close to one another, it is extremely easy to navigate on-foot. We explored everything that the city had to offer on-foot, while taking multiples breaks in our hotel to rest.

  • Renting bicycles is another great way to explore Charleston. Although I wasn't able to partake on account of being pregnant, I remember renting city bikes with Brian on our first trip and it was an excellent way to get around the city. 

  • Although I don't think that you need a car if you're planning on staying exclusively within the limits of Charleston, it may be a good idea to look into for exploring the surrounding areas. Charleston is very small, and if you're staying for longer than a few days then you may find yourself looking for a new area to explore. Renting a car is a great way to check out the surrounding plantations, or make your way to Savannah for a change of scenery.  




What To Do

Seeing as how I had previously visited Charleston, and that I was 27 weeks pregnant during this particular trip, we took a much slower pace than usual. That being said, Sabrina and I managed to pack in a ton of different sights and fun things to-do during our two and a half day stay. If you're visiting for a girl's trip, and aren't interested in historical monuments or museums, here's some fun things to do in Charleston:


  • Head South of Broad and just walk. Trust me. The beautiful, picturesque houses and perfectly manicured neighbourhoods are worth checking out, and are to me some of the best features of Charleston. Sabrina and I got lost everyday just wandering through these gorgeous, historic streets and taking in all of the sights - and smells! It was jasmine season when we visited and the air smelled of flowers. It was truly beautiful.

  • If you're in the mood to shop, then you're going to want to head to King Street. A mix of little boutiques and major chain stores, there's literally something for everyone. 

  • With all of the history in Charleston, a ghost tour would 100% be appropriate. If I wasn't convinced that our hotel was haunted, I definitely would have partook as the picturesque neighbourhoods definitely take on a more eerie vibe at night.

  • Visit Waterfront Park and take in the iconic, much-instagrammed Pineapple fountain. 

  • Eat. Honestly, Charleston is no place to visit while on a diet. Between award-winning restaurants, and the rich, buttery southern delicacies that grace most every menu, be prepared to eat. I find the restaurant prices to be pretty reasonable, especially when compared to the major cities in the states. 




Where To Eat


Be still my heart - the restaurants and food scene in Charleston is absolutely unbelievable. Brian and I experienced all of the culinary wonder that is food in Charleston on our first trip and I was anxious to get back for more! Here is where you can indulge in southern cuisine at it's finest; think hushpuppies, shrimp and grits, fried chicken, Carolina Gold rice - I could go on! Although there were many restaurants and bars to try, here are a few of my favourite:

Husk: You honestly can't make the trip to Charleston without visiting Husk. An upscale take on southern dishes and ingredients in a comfortable atmosphere, Husk is a true gem. Sabrina and I were able to get reservations at Husk for Sunday brunch, and braved the wait to enjoy our last dinner there. Word to the wise - make a reservation as soon as you book your trip to Charleston. I'm not kidding. Reservations go quick and while you may be able to score a walk-in seat, it will only be if outdoor seating is available and will undoubtably come with a long wait.

Basic Kitchen: A beautiful space boasting a healthy menu made up of local ingredients - many of which are actually grown on-premise! I had Basic Kitchen on my radar for it's beautiful, light-filled space and chill decor but I kept on coming back for the food. We enjoyed both brunch and dinner at Basic Kitchen, and each meal was absolutely delicious.

Leon's Oyster Shop: Leon's Oyster Shop is an unassuming, casual eatery that takes classic southern dishes to the next level! We enjoyed hush puppies that were literally served with a side of pure butter, scalloped potatoes, a gigantic shrimp salad and all-you-can-drink sweet teas. My only regret is stopping into Leon's for a snack rather than a full meal; I hear their award-winning fried chicken is not to be missed.

The Rise Coffee Bar: While Charleston doesn't have the bustling coffee scene of a larger metropolis, The Rise Coffee Bar will satisfy your espresso-based craving in a bright and clean space.

The Darling Oyster Bar: Created with a female clientele in mind, The Darling Oyster Bar is the perfect place to share a drink with girlfriends or to have a beautiful date night in Charleston. Although Sabrina and I had made reservations in advance, we opted to sit at the Oyster bar and literally feasted on seafood. It was glorious. The presentation is incredible and even the smallest details on our mocktails were taken into consideration. I already can't wait to go back.









It was an incredible getaway, and I can hardly wait to visit Charleston again. Have you been? Let me know what your must-dos are in this beautiful city!

xo Joëlle
SHARE:

Friday, 17 May 2019

A Letter To My Son


A letter to my son: even typing the words out still makes me step back in disbelief. The knowledge that there will soon be a new life in our family is so enormous that it just seems beyond me. I have so many feelings about raising a baby boy into a happy and loved young man; love, warmth, protectiveness and pride.

I recently saw the new commercial from the Dairy Farmers of Ontario, where a letter is shared from a real Ontario dairy farmer to his children. The letter is so heartwarming, and details how this hardworking father hopes that growing up on a dairy farm will instil strong values in his children. Now, I don't know if it's the pregnancy hormones or the fact that one of my best childhood friends grew up on a dairy farm, but to say that I was misty eyed after watching the commercial is an understatement.

I was inspired to write my own letter, to my unborn child who may not be in our arms just yet, but who I carry close to me and who keeps me company every day. So, to my boy: this is to you.


To our son,

Although we haven't met formally, I feel as though your place in our lives has always been. With each movement, each kick I feel as though our bond grows. There are so many feelings involved with bringing you into this world, and so many unknowns for when you make your grand arrival. Although I cannot predict or control the future, as much as I try, there are certain things that I want you to know and that I hope for you as you grow.

I hope that you always know and feel the strong love of a family. You are already so wanted and so loved, not only by your dad and me but also by so many others who cannot wait to meet you. Your grandparents, who truly thought that this day would never come and beam with excitement with each passing week. Your uncles, who already vow you make sure you always have someone to play, laugh, and explore with. Cousins, extended family, great grandparents. So many people and so much love for you; I hope that you always feel and take comfort in it.

I hope you know that your dad and I always want what's best for you, be it in school, activities and just life in general. But above everything, your happiness will always be our number one priority. Never worry about disappointing us, because as long as you're happy then our souls will be filled.

The world can be a scary place, and often times life will not seem fair. My hope for you is that we give you the emotional security to navigate this sometimes confusing life. I hope you know that it's okay to truly feel, and that it's okay to cry. It's okay to fail, and there's honour in getting up and trying again. And above all I hope that you know that we will always be there for you, both in your proudest moments, your struggles, and everything in-between. I hope that your family always remains your source of comfort and security.

Trust in the good intentions of others, and treat everyone with respect and dignity. Lead with a strong heart and a good mind. Know that vulnerability and kindness will be your biggest strengths in life, and not a weakness. Make good choices.

We haven't even met earth-side yet but my wish and hopes for you, our son, is that you always know and feel love.




Wow, the hormones are REALLY kicking in after that one. Thank you for allowing me to share this personal piece with you. I feel more focused, assured and confident in our future. And more than anything, I feel more excited to finally be able to meet our boy.

xoxo Joëlle

This post was inspired by and created in partnership with the Dairy Farmers of Ontario. Thank you so much for the amazing vision and for inspiring this post that will stay with me forever.
SHARE:

Monday, 13 May 2019

Tips For Flying Comfortably While Pregnant


Travel is so important to me. I still get a kick out of getting on a plane and being able to land in a totally different part of the world than where you started. When I first found out that I was pregnant, I will admit that I did momentarily consider that I may have to put my upcoming travel plans on-hold. After all, this is my first pregnancy and I honestly had no idea what to expect. What if I was feeling too sick to fly? Can you even fly comfortably as a pregnant woman?

It turns out, all that worrying was for nothing because I was lucky enough to be able to enjoy some amazing trips during my pregnancy. From Disneyland to Los Angeles, Philadelphia, a quick trip to NYC and a trip to Charleston - I feel very lucky to have been able to still keep up with traveling while carrying a baby.

That being said, there are definitely a few tips, tricks and lessons that I've picked up along the way in order to stay comfortable while flying while pregnant. Just a few simply things that can make or break a flight being comfortable, accommodate your changing body and anticipate any of the annoyances that come along with air travel that become HUGE inconveniences when pregnant. Here's what I've learned:

Eat A Large Meal Prior to Boarding


I cannot stress this enough. For some reason, all of my flights this year have had a larger-than-normal amount of turbulence. Turbulence on a plane is irritating on a good day, but when you're pregnant and potentially dealing with stomach/nausea issues it can be brutal. I've found that making sure that I'm comfortably full before boarding a plane helps to keep any nausea from turbulence at bay. I've even gone so far as to order food on the plane, which I typically never do. I've also found that being comfortably full helps to settle your stomach during takeoff and landing - something I never had a problem with prior to flying pregnant. Whatever the case, just make sure that you eat a proper meal before boarding; it makes a world of a difference.

Pack Lots Of Snacks

On the same note of making sure to eat before boarding a plane, I've also found that over-packing on snacks can be really helpful. We all know that air travel can be unpredictable, and the chances of your itinerary not going according to plan are high. Making sure that you're stocked up with lots of snacks (and a refillable water bottle) in case your flight takes longer than anticipated. When I was flying home from Philadelphia, our plane was stuck on the runway for almost three hours waiting in a massive line to de-ice. Thankfully, I had a backpack full of snacks and it made the wait much more tolerable - especially with a tiny baby doing somersaults in my belly! Snacks are always important with air travel, but become a lifeline when flying while pregnant. Bring more than you think  - trust me, they will get eaten!

Stay Hydrated


Okay, I promise that this is my last food and drink related tip but it's honestly the most important one: stay hydrated. Drink water - more than you think. Instead of relying on the flight attendants to start beverage services, bring a large refillable water bottle and don't be afraid to visit the flight attendant's station in the back of the plane to ask for refills. It may mean more bathroom brakes, but it also helps to improve your comfort and reduce the swelling that comes along with air travel.

Choose An Aisle Seat


I love a window seat, but when flying while pregnant I've learned to change my preferences to the aisle seat. Not only do you have a bit more room to stretch out, but it's also imperative for making a quick getaway for the washroom - you're going to need it after drinking all that water! 


Travel With Your Medical Documents


This tip is definitely the most doomsday of them all, but I'm a firm believer in better being safe than sorry. For every one of my trips, I've gotten copies of my medical documents from my midwives and keep them close to me at all times - just in case. Any document that has your blood type, how far along you are, any medications that you're on or have been on during your pregnancy, any allergies etc. It's good to have this information on-hand should you need to visit a hospital, or need medical supervision in-flight.

Let Everyone Know That You're Pregnant


Listen, I'm all for being discreet and not having a fuss made over me but I totally change my tune when I'm flying while pregnant. I let the airlines attendants know that I'm pregnant in hopes of getting a better seat (it works,) the flight attendants know so they understand why I'm always requesting water and going to the bathroom - heck, I've even told the man making my breakfast sandwich at the airport in hopes of getting more bacon added (that worked too!) Don't be shy and let people know.

Other than these tips, here are a few quick things to keep in mind in order to help make your flight that much more comfortable while pregnant:


  • Get up and walk every hour or two to help with the circulation in your legs
  • Wear compression socks for longer flights
  • Wear comfortable clothes and dress in layers
  • Opt for a backpack as your personal item to help distribute the weight
  • Ask for assistance when dealing with the overhead bin
The thought of flying while pregnant can be daunting, especially if it's your first time. But with a few small steps and considerations, it can be an enjoyable experience!

What do you think? Have you ever flown while pregnant? What are some of your best tips for staying comfortable with air travel?  Let me know!

xo Joëlle

DISCLAIMER: I'm lucky enough to have felt relatively well during the course of my pregnancy and have flown with my midwives knowledge and blessings. Always speak to your doctor/midwife before planning a trip involving air travel.
SHARE:

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Simple Brunch with Boursin Apple & Maple


I love brunch. I love the simplicity of it, the ambiguous timing and the general laid-back energy that comes along with it. I also love spending time with friends, and am happy to host them for a brunch in our tiny Toronto condo. The only thing I don't love? Cooking. That's why you'll find Boursin on the menu for all of my hosted get-togethers.

I absolutely love Boursin cheese - as readers of my blog will recognize from my multiple posts gushing about it. Boursin cheese is produced locally and made out of 100% Canadian Milk. Let's just call it as it is - Boursin is always a hit at every event. Always. There's just something about the delicious taste, and the fact that the texture is so smooth and creamy while remaining crumbly and spreadable. Add in that there are so many delicious flavours to try, perfect for every palette. Boursin is also great about adding new delicious flavours to their line up of cheeses, and the flavour that I chose for my brunch is no exception. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Boursin Apple & Maple.



When I was tasked to host an intimate brunch using the new Boursin flavour Apple & Maple, I knew that I wanted to venture away from my typical cheese plate. Although I'm not a huge fan of cooking and the prep that comes along with it, I tried re-imagining how I would use the new Boursin flavour and in the end I was really happy with the results!

Here's a quick breakdown of a very simple addition to your brunch menu using the new Boursin Apple & Maple flavour:


  • Cut a baguette into one-inch pieces. You may wish to toast your baguette pieces, but I prefer not. I find it makes them easier to eat when left un-toasted.
  • Slice up an apple into very thin pieces
  • Spread some Boursin Apple & Maple onto your pieces of baguette. The amount is totally up to you, but my cheese philosophy is always 'more is more'
  • Arrange your slices apples on top of the Boursin
  • Top with a walnut
  • Enjoy!




After it was all said and done, my intimate and simple brunch winded down and there were barely any leftovers to pack up. The Boursin Apple & Maple mini toasts were a hit and I think they may be a welcome addition to all of my hosting menus.

Have you ever hosted a casual brunch? What are some of your favourite no-bake, no-cook recipes? Let me know!

xo Joëlle

This post was created in partnership with Boursin. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.
SHARE:

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Sustainable Maternity Clothes with Sprout Collection


I don't know about you guys, but when I first saw those two lines on the pregnancy test indicating that, yes, I was in fact pregnant I had so many thoughts. Of course, the feelings of happiness, exhilaration and sheer panic flooded over me - it's only natural! Once I had a few days to process my emotions, I started getting really excited about my soon-to-be growing bump. I had visions of myself frolicking in a field somewhere, likely with a flower crow and wearing all of the beautiful maternity gowns that I had been stalking online. This would be my pregnancy reality.

Well reality smacked me in the face when I started sourcing out dream pregnancy wardrobe. You guys - maternity clothes are expensive. I'm talking $300+ for one single piece expensive! Considering we honestly don't know if this will be our first and last pregnancy, it seemed insane to spend so much money on clothing that would potentially only be used once. I could already see my visions of field-frolicking replaced by cheap sweat suits.

Enter Sprout Collection. A service that is not only cost-effective, but a sustainable way to build a maternity wardrobe. Essentially what you do is that you rent your maternity wardrobe; selecting four pieces per box with one box per month. The pieces are all either from maternity lines, or non-maternity pieces that have been bump-approved.

All of the pieces to choose from are beautiful, and range from casual to formal wear. I also love that there's lots of selection per season. The best part - I feel as though I'm keeping my sense of self through my pregnancy wardrobe, am saving money and have found a more environmentally sustainable way to have fun with a pregnancy wardrobe. Total win.

Check out pieces from my first Sprout Collection rented box. It will be hard to return them this month, but I'm excited to get four new pieces to add into my wardrobe. If you're an expectant mother, or looking to change up your wardrobe postpartum then I would definitely check out Sprout Collection.




What do you guys think? Have you ever been shocked at the price of maternity clothes? Are you also looking for a more environmentally sustainable way to have fun with your wardrobe? Let me know!

xo Joëlle

Thank you so much to Sprout Collection for gifting me my first box. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.
SHARE:
Blogger Template Created by pipdig