Wednesday, 17 January 2018

5 Things I'm Glad I Did In My Twenties

I don't know if it's just the freshness of a new year, or the fact that I'm getting older and more aware, but lately I've been reflecting a lot. When I look back, I feel as though I've lived many different lives, which each different location, career, love and experience contributing a different novel to the series. While I've made my fair share of mistakes along the way there are a few things that, looking back now, I am truly grateful happened in my twenties. There experiences helped to shape who I am today and while some of them were really difficult at the time, they provided huge learning opportunity. Here's 5 things that I'm glad happened in my twenties that better shaped who I am in my thirties.

1. I Changed Careers

I changed my major in University, and it nearly crushed me. I remember feeling so ashamed that I changed course, that I hadn't 'gotten it right' on the first choice. Fast forward a few years, and I was faced in the same situation when I was debating going back to school, this time to college for Funeral Services. I again felt self conscious, thinking that going back to school meant that I again hadn't gotten my life's decisions right. Thankfully I fought through my insecurity and completed my course to become a Funeral Director. Going back to college was eye opening for me; here I was so embarrassed to be starting over, and meanwhile I was one of the youngest people in my class. There were so many grown adults excited to be starting a second career, and their excitement was contagious. I began to realize that changing careers isn't a slight on your character, it's simply following your own path as you grow and change as a person. Having experienced this in my twenties made the decision of pursuing my blog full-time a little easier. I know now that it's okay to go off-course, try new things and to challenge yourself when it comes to your career. 

2. I Was Single

I guess you could call me a serial monogamist; I was in serious relationships from sixteen onward. Then in my twenties, without much warning, a relationship that I had really invested myself in ended abruptly, and I was left feeling intense heartbreak for the first time. It was awful. Whereas most of my other relationships has ended with me loosing interest first and able to jump into another one right away, this one hurt and I was wasn't in the right place to start another relationship. So I didn't. I learned to embrace being by myself, invest in the relationships with my friends, have more fun and eventually preferred being single to being a couple. It was so freeing, and really taught me that no matter what happened in my love life, I could be happy on my own. 

3. I Lived By Myself

As a response to my heartbreak, I needed to find a place to live quickly and it didn't leave much time for making arrangements with roommates. This lead me to signing the lease to my first studio apartment where I would be living in completely by myself. Living alone for the first time was a huge adjustment. It really forced me to take responsibility for my own actions and to be more proactive. If the dishes weren't done the night before, they would be there the next morning - and would continue to be there until I did something about it. Living alone also taught me to be proactive with my social life; if I wanted company or to see friends, I would have to be the one to reach out and make plans. I also learned a lot about paying bills and budgeting while living by myself. Ultimately, living on my own forced me to take responsibility for myself, my actions and decisions. 

4. I Moved Cities

While I'm no stranger to moving (my dad was in the military and we moved a lot growing up,) I had gone to both high school and University in Ottawa and considered it home. Ottawa is where I had all of my friends, my apartment, knew the city to drive around inside and out and had all of my business connections (which in my twenties meant knowing bouncers at various bars so that I could bypass lines, ha!) Ottawa was my comfort zone and I had no desire to ever leave - that is, until I had to move to Toronto to go back to school for Funeral Services. All of a sudden I had to start from scratch, from friends to living situations, to even the smallest things like figuring out the public transit system. It was uncomfortable at first, but like most things it eventually became easier. I learned valuable lessons about making friends as an adult, and learned how important it is to be open to change. Now Toronto is home and while I don't plan on leaving anytime soon, I know that if I do it will be okay. 

5. I Traveled

While I didn't travel a whole lot until my late twenties, I did take a pretty epic summer-long trip to Europe with one of my girlfriends and I can honestly say that it changed my life. Not only did I learn so much about different cities and cultures, I learned how to connect with different people around the world on a more personal level. There are friends that I made on that trip that I still talk to now, and at the time I couldn't even tell you what they did for a living - we just knew that we got along and enjoyed each other's company. I also learned the importance of experiences vs. things. Now I travel as much as I can, and I credit that trip to Europe that I took back in my early twenties to sparking my love for travel and new experiences.

What do you guys think? Is there anything that you've done in your life that you're thankful for? What were some of the events that lead to lessons for you? Let me know!

xo Joëlle

Friday, 12 January 2018

Winter Getaway to Vermont With Porter Escapes

While most people are getting back into a routine and taking it easy after the holidays, Sabrina and I decided that we were due for another girl's trip and headed to snowy Vermont with Porter Escapes. Who's afraid of a little snow and cold? We certainly aren't and I'm so glad that we made the journey; Vermont in the winter is a beauty unlike anything I've ever seen, and I highly encourage everyone to put it on their travel bucket lists.

You guys know of my love for Porter Escapes from my last girl's trip to Washington, DC. I'm all about convenient travel, especially when it's a place that I've never visited before, and Porter Escapes is all about convenience.

Porter Escapes is an easy and straightforward approach to packaged vacations and offers an extensive variety of flights, hotels and activities to create a curated holiday just for you. I love how the service is paired with one of my favourites, Porter Airlines, and the whole experience offers a beautifully simple and refined way to plan a vacation with any budget. While I knew that I wanted to visit Vermont, I was unsure of the protocol since I'm not really a skier; Porter Escapes was definitely the way to go. From flight to hotel, everything was planned and set up.

The Flight

From the minute that we arrived at Billy Bishop Airport, my excitement began to rise. I swear, as soon as you see that Toronto skyline from the city airport, you know you're in for a treat. Here's a few reasons why I love flying Porter:

  • The airport convenience. As a city dweller in a congested city like Toronto, the fact that the airport is just a short drive (Uber ride) from my condo is amazing and totally cuts down on the time spent preparing for travel on the day-of.

  • Check in is always a breeze. I prefer to travel using carry-on luggage only, so check in will literally take minutes for me  - it's pretty amazing!

  • The Porter airport lounge is relaxing and accommodating, with complimentary snacks and hot and cold drinks. Myself I always like to load up on espressos and butter cookies.

  • The snacks don't end in the lounge - there's also complimentary hot and cold beverages, wine and beer plus an assortment of snacks on the flight too!

Porter airlines flies to Burlington, Vermont weekly, from December to March, with flights leaving on Tuesday and returning to Toronto on Saturday. The flight itself is only an hour, and flies by. Before we knew it, it was time to descent into Vermont and start our snowy adventure.

Topnotch Resort

Our first stop was Topnotch Resort in beautiful Stowe, Vermont; about an hour's drive from the airport. This resort is breathtaking and captured our hearts right as we pulled up to the front entrance. Topnotch Resort prides itself on being an oasis that sits on 120 acres of land, with everything available from fine dining, modern tennis facilities, an incredible spa and an array of free activities to do around the resort. Sabrina and I managed to try almost everything that Topnotch Resort had to offer, and love every second of it!

  • The views from the resort are unbelievable - just so, so pretty. To be nestled in a winter wonderland, surrounded by snow-peaked mountains is truly a treat. We always had a view of the mountains, wether it be from exploring outdoors, during our meals or even from our room's window.

  • The resort itself is all interconnected, so you don't need to bundle up while strolling from your room, to the spa, to one of the restaurants. This came in especially handy on one stormy night. While outside was an orchestra of wind and snow, we were cozily headed to dinner in our slippers and sweaters, blissfully warm and unaware.

  • The dining options are delicious, and there truly is something for everyone. We found ourselves at The Roost for most lunches and dinners; we loved the chilled-out atmosphere, and their french onion soup. Flannel is the more upscale restaurant of the two, and where we found ourselves for every breakfast; the pancakes are amazing, and you can't beat munching on eggs benny while looking at the mountains.

  • Topnotch Resort offers a free shuttle service, to and from the Stowe Mountain Resort, and into the town of Stowe, Vermont. We took advantage of the shuttle to head into town and it was one of the highlights of the trip; Stowe, Vermont is just so beautiful. The free shuttle service is an amazing feature of Topnotch Resort, and one I would definitely encourage you to take advantage of.

  • There's a variety of activities available throughout the resort, all complimentary. I loved lacing up for the first time in years, and having a skate on the outdoor ice rink. There's also horse-drawn sleigh rides, which is just as beautiful as it sounds. Honestly, the activities are amazing and make me appreciate the beauty of winter on a whole other level.

The Spa

I wanted to make special mention to the spa at Topnotch Resort, because it truly is something to experience. You guys know that I am the spa lady; I love spas, can't get enough of spas and can spend an entire day just relaxing at a spa (no joke.) The spa at Topnotch Resort is one of the best I've ever visited; not only for the amazing spa amenities and aesthetics, but also because of how nice and skilled everyone who works there is. I could ramble on about this spa for hours, but here's a few highlights that I wanted to mention.

  • Sabrina and I booked in for separate aromatherapy massages. As someone who goes for at least one massage a month, I have to say that this was one of the best massages that I've ever received. From being able to select which blend of oils you wanted for the massage, to the relaxing treatment that literally melted my stress away, to the chilled-out relaxation room afterwards, I loved it all. 

  • The relaxation room includes complimentary snacks and refreshments, so you guys already know that I was in heaven; the way to my heart is definitely through snacks.

  • There are also a fitness centre and fitness classes available. Sabrina and I signed up for one of the yoga classes, and it was a great way to start out the day; relaxing, and suitable for all skill levels.

Needless to say, we both thoroughly enjoyed our time at Topnotch Resort. For two girls who don't ski or snowboard, there was plenty to do and explore and I could only imagine how amazing the property would be for someone who partakes in winter activities. Before we knew it, our stay had ended and we were on our way to the next adventure.

An outdoor, heated pool. We weren't brave enough to go in, but did notice quite a few of the guests enjoying it!

Beauty at every turn at Topnotch Resort

The indoor hot tub with beautiful views of the mountains

This huge solarium pool is available for guests! 

The rooms are perfectly cozy with beautiful cabin vibes.

Breakfast at Flannel with a view

Skating is that much more fun with you're looking at mountains

Stowe, Vermont. Almost too pretty to be real!

I just loved the buildings in Stowe, Vermont. So, so pretty.

Can't get enough of the views at Topnotch Resort

The Essex Culinary Resort & Spa

Next on the agenda was a stay at The Essex Culinary Resort & Spa. Located outside of Burlington, Vermont, and about 20 minutes from the airport, The Essex is a picturesque property that has all that you could want for a relaxing getaway. The property itself is just gorgeous; picturesque, with gorgeous grounds to explore. We checked in right away, and immediately made ourselves at home.

  • Our room at The Essex was a light-filled sanctuary, complete with a sitting area and our very own fireplace. There were two queen beds and they were so soft - I'm talking sleeping on a pillow, soft! I could barely get out of bed in the morning, they were that comfortable. I just loved our room, and could have spend all day just lazily relaxing, while looking out to the snowy wonderland outside.

  • The Essex is Vermont's only culinary resort, and you can definitely tell that they take their food seriously. Ingredients are locally sourced, and their attention to detail is outstanding. We had a quick bite to eat at The Tavern for lunch, and ordered room service for breakfast. The breakfast was no joke and I will forever be dreaming about those waffles.

  • The Essex also offers a Cook Academy, where you can partake in a variety of different onsite cooking classes. Sabrina and I participated in the 'Bistro Favourites' class, and were able to feel like pros as we whipped up french onion soup, a beautiful steak dinner and crème brûlée. Truth be told, I'm pretty much a disaster in the kitchen and don't particularly love cooking, but Chef Lisa made this class a lot of fun! The class flew by as we were all busy preparing our meal, and were able to enjoy the fruits of our labour with a glass of wine. 

  • The Essex Culinary Resort & Spa also offers a free shuttle service that we used not only to get back to the airport, but also to visit Burlington, Vermont. Burlington is another beautiful area of Vermont, with lots of shopping, eateries and cafés all within walking distance of each other. Sabrina and I spent our time at Monarch & The Milkweed, which is the cutest café in downtown Burlington, and walking around beautiful Church Street.

  • The Spa at The Essex is a beautiful addition to the property, and while we didn't indulge in any spa services, we were able to enjoy the huge indoor 25-yard pool. So fun!

The Essex Culinary Resort & Spa is beautiful

So many picturesque views without having to leave the property

The massive indoor pool with gorgeous, snowy views

Greeted by treats when you first check into The Essex Culinary Resort & Spa

Our beautiful, huge room

I just couldn't get enough of this fireplace!

Breakfast in bed. I will always be dreaming about those waffles!

Hot chocolate, curtesy of the front desk.

Our meal in the making at The Cook Academy

Downtown Burlington, Vermont is beautiful in the winter.

Monarch & The Milkweed

The view from our room

Before we knew it, we were being whisked back to the Burlington airport, and boarding a quick one hour Porter Airlines flight back to Toronto. I'm so grateful that I was able to experience Vermont in the winter, and definitely think that it should be on your bucket list; regardless of if you're a skier or not! The whole trip was perfectly planned and stress-free thanks to Porter Escapes. I already can't wait to go back.

What do you guys think? Have you ever been to Vermont? What are your thoughts on a snowy winter getaway? Let me know!

xo Joëlle

Thank you Porter Escapes for this incredible experience. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

Friday, 29 December 2017

Goals for 2018

I love the feeling you get as a new year approaches. Lots of self-reflection, counting of blessings and goal planning for the upcoming year. There are so many things that I hope to accomplish with the blog, and sometimes that can be overwhelming. It helps me to prioritize what exactly I would like to practice and focus on in the new year, so here are my goals for 2018.

1. Grow My Youtube Channel

Even though I'm super proud and excited that I finally started a Youtube channel in 2017, my uploading schedule and content has been all over the place. When I first started my Youtube channel, I wrote down a list of videos that I wanted to film and powered through them - I was on a roll! Then, a soon as I finished the list my videos slowed down and I struggled to get content out, relying mostly on review of luxury products. This year I really want to focus on growing my Youtube channel, creating diverse content and developing a regular upload schedule - and I can't wait to get started!

2. Diversify My Content to Include Home Decor

While I've never really been one to pay much attention to home decor, letting Brian play decorator to most of our condo, this year I've been hyper aware of our space. Working from home, and spending more time in our condo has made me start to look at our space in a whole new light, and I've been having a lot of fun incorporating more of my own elements and style into it. This year I want to really dive in to home decor, and share the process with you - especially coming from the perspective of a small-space dweller, which comes with its own unique challenges. Ultimately, I hope to start small and work my way up to a full bedroom overhaul/makeover. Wish me luck, and stay tuned!

3. Make Fitness a Priority

How cliché, right? But seriously you guys, I have been slacking on my fitness routine for years now. My lack of physical activity was masked by the fact that I walked to work, and had a pretty fast metabolism, so who needs the gym, right? Then I turned 30, and started working from home. Oh boy. Let's just say that keeping the pounds off doesn't come as easily as it did before, and I really want to start feeling good about my body again. This year I'm on a mission to find a fitness routine that works for me and that I enjoy, stick to it and become a healthier, more lean version of myself.

4. Keep Traveling

I am so, so grateful for the amount of travel that I was able to do in 2017, and I want to keep that momentum going into 2018. Travel content, city guides, packing tips - these are some of my absolute favourite posts to share with you and my goal is to keep them coming into the new year. I'm already scheduled to head to Vermont the first week of January and sunny Los Angeles at the end of February so there will definitely be some guaranteed travel content coming your way.

5. Experiment with More Creative Photography

I absolutely love shooting outfits, lifestyle, my coffees alongside flowers, haha - but this coming year, I'm looking to challenge myself and experiment with more creative shoots. I've been pinning a bunch of different inspiration on Pinterest, and it's been getting my creative juices flowing and has been challenging me to think outside of my own comfort zone. Collaborating with other local creatives in the interest of getting great content will definitely be a goal of mine moving forward. I'm also very excited to try out some new photography equipment, including a flash - something I've always stayed away from! This will definitely be an exciting year for photos and I already can't wait to get started.

What do you guys think? Do you have anything that you would like to see more of from me? What are your goals for 2018? Let me know!

xo Joëlle

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

2017 - Lessons Learned

It's the last week of 2017, and I've been really reflecting on past year. Although globally 2017 was a really tough year, personally it was one of my best years to date. This year was when I took a chance on myself and decided to blog full-time, prioritized travel and went on some amazing trips, and had some incredible experiences with family and friends. That being said, there were also some tough times. Being a first-time business owner has been really challenging, and a lot of learning took place by trial and error - heavy emphasis on the error. I've learned a lot about myself throughout the year, and have taken away a few lessons along. Here's my biggest lessons learned in 2017.

1. Vocalize What You Want

At the beginning of the year, I remember telling anyone who would listen that I wanted to travel more - specifically, that I wanted to travel as a part of the blog. I'm sure I elicited more than a few eye rolls but, low and behold, this is the year that I traveled more than I ever have before. I'm also so grateful to have been on some amazing trips with La Petite Noob, which has quite literally been a dream come true. I really do believe that vocalizing your wants and goals not only forces you to become accountable and work harder towards them, but I'm also a firm believer of putting your intentions out into the universe to get good things back.

I also think that vocalizing what you want can apply to all facets of your life, as I have learned this year. For example, for me as a blogger I have learned to [politely] speak up when expressing what I want while working on contracts. Personally, I am much more vocal with family and friends and it's resulted in stronger, more honest relationships. Being more vocal about what I want, and my thoughts and feelings has definitely yielded amazing things and I'm excited to carry this practice into the new year.

2. Not Everyone Will Like You, And That's Okay

I've been blogging for over 4 years now, and this is the first year that I've experienced an increased amount of negativity, or "hate." Mind you, it's still pretty minimal and absolutely nothing compared to the big-time bloggers and Youtubers out there, but it still stings. While I'm still working learning to let the negativity roll off my shoulders, it's been a good life-lesson in that not everyone in life will like you, and that's okay.  There's a quote by Dita Von Teese that I absolutely love, that totally sums up this lesson: “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there's still going to be somebody who hates peaches.” Now, I'm working on living life being my true self and not worrying about pleasing everyone - because even your best self may rub people the wrong way, and that's okay.

3. Invest In People Who Invest In You

I think this lesson is pretty self explanatory, but it's definitely never held more truth than this year. As I get older, it's harder to spend time with others period so I choose to invest in the people who invest in me. The people who fill you up rather than drain you, check in, believe in you - these are people who are worthy of your time.

4. If Not Now Then When?

In the past I've let my own fears and insecurities get in the way of my own dreams. For example, I wanted to start a blog for years before actually getting the courage to do so! This year, I've been working hard to stop over-thinking and over-analyzing my decisions and to just do it. Because of this, I finally started the Youtube channel that I've always wanted to do, which was a huge milestone for me! I'm taking this 'If Not Now Then When' mantra with me into the New Year, and it will help me dive into projects that push me out of my comfort zone.

5. Shop For Separates

This is definitely a more superficial lesson learned for 2017, but boy has it ever transformed my wardrobe: separates are the way to go! Now I'm such a sucker for a pretty dress, and always will be, but 2017 is finally the year that I drilled in my head that one cannot create a functional wardrobe on only dresses - especially when they live in a Toronto condo, with a Toronto condo-sized closet! I've incorporated more blouses, sweaters, skirts and trousers into my wardrobe and the result has me creating more outfits with the clothing I already have, and shopping way less than ever before.

6. Take A Chance On Yourself

You guys, this year has been incredible and it has largely been due to my decision to take a chance on myself, and turn this blog into my full-time career. It was a gamble - trust me. And I definitely had my fair share of people who doubted the decision. Even though I'm so, so grateful that everything worked out, even if it hadn't I would not have regretted my decision at all. I feel like the best thing to bet on is yourself, and it's better to do what your heart craves then to live with regret.

Coat - c/o LPA via Revolve, Boots - c/o Le Chateau

On a lighter note, I just wanted to share the latest addition to my furry pink jacket collection: this beautiful, super thick and warm jacket by LPA from Revolve. You guys, this jacket is everything. Not only is it super cute with the peachy-pink faux fur, but it's incredibly warm - especially when you factor in the hood. This is my go-to cold weather jacket, and totally brings a smile to everyone's faces when they see me wearing it on the street - a welcome change from your typical black parka. Paired with the best flat over-the-knee boots from Le Chateau, this outfit is a total winter win!

Check out some of my favourite brands carried by Revolve:

Privacy Please
Lovers + Friends

What do you guys think? What's your biggest lessons learned from 2017? Anything you plan on carrying into 2018? Let me know!

xo Joëlle

Monday, 18 December 2017

OOTD - Holiday PJ Wrap-Up

If you guys noticed on my Instagram account, I have been sporting some pretty cute PJs in a few of my photos. The pyjamas are all from La Vie En Rose, and it's safe to say that I've been practically living in them since the cold weather has hit and I'm in hibernation mode. La Vie En Rose is my go-to spot for PJs, as well as swimwear; you guys may remember seeing my cute swimsuits that I wore in the Dominican Republic. While I was originally planning on only sharing my photos on Instagram, I figured that all of these PJ sets would make great last-minute holiday gifts so why not link them all in a blog post! Without further ado, here are my favourite pyjama sets from La Vie en Rose.

Similar colour and material



Pink Flannel PJ Set

Sleep Shirt
What do you guys think? Do you live in PJs during the winter as well? Let me know!

xo Joëlle

Thank you La Vie en Rose for sponsoring my Instagram posts. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.
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