Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Most Instagram Worthy Places in Los Angeles

If you guys follow me on Instagram or Youtube, you will have seen that Sabrina and I visited sunny Los Angeles a few weeks ago. While the purpose of the trip was to attend the Create & Cultivate conference, our second priority was to run around like madwomen searching for the most Instagrammable spots in LA - and we definitely were not disappointed. Here are some of my favourite, most Instagram worthy places in LA to mark down on your map for your next trip to Los Angeles.

Alfred's Tea Room

If you're someone who loves the colour pink as much as Sabrina and I,  consider Alfred's Tea Room your mothership. This quaint, beautifully decorated little tea shop boast's an extensive tea menu, all served in Instagram-worthy cups. We visited this place multiple times and both agreed that, while the tea-based drinks are good, it's their pastries that really stand out.

The Beverly Hills Hotel

I knew from before we even landed in LA that I wanted to have brunch at the Beverly Hills Hotel Cabana Club, and it did not disappoint. The entire hotel is one big Instagrammable moment and, except for the pool area, you're able to take photos wherever you want. The brunch itself was delicious and while price-wise it's definitely a YOLO meal, in my mind it was well worth it for the experience.

Mansur Gavriel Store

The newly opened Mansur Gavriel store on Melrose is almost too beautiful for words. While the store itself is beautiful, with an in-house café with indoor seating, I just loved the flower-lined courtyard outside.

Sorella Boutique

Another gem on Melrose, Sorella Boutique is where you will find the Instagram-famous Girls Tour wall. Grab your girls, grab a tripod (or a fellow tourist who also wants a photo) and grab this photo.

Carrera Cafe 

Another Insta-famous café on Melrose, Carrera Cafe is where you will find your quirky lattes with fun art like Drake and a crying Kim K. The whole shop was definitely created with Instagram photos in mind, from the lattes to the floor tiles to the beautiful mural right outside.

The Assembly

If minimal is more your vibe, The Assembly is a gorgeous café that will be right up your alley. Sabrina and I enjoyed strong americanos and some gourmet doughnuts in this light-filled space.

Sprinkles Beverly Hills

If you can walk by an all-pink cupcake vending machine in Beverly Hills and not take a photo, you're a stronger person than I am.

Alfred Coffee Beverly Hills

There are a few Alfred Coffees around LA and while all of the locations are ridiculously cute (and serve ridiculously good coffee) my favourite location is the one in Beverly Hills. A pink hearted mural on the side of the café? Yes please.

Venice Beach

Venice Beach is one of my favourite, quirky places in LA. You'll find plenty of Instagram-worthy photo opportunities, from the giant Venice sign to bike riding along the boardwalk. For a plethora of Instagram-worthy spots away from the chaotic beach, Abbot Kinney is the street you need to hit. So many beautiful shops and restaurants including The Butcher's Daughter, a beautiful plant-based restaurant and café.

There are so many beautiful shops and cafés in LA that would make your Instagram feed proud, but these ones are definitely my favourite and the ones that I will be repeating when I head back to sunny Los Angeles in September.

Have you been to LA? What are some of your favourite spots to visit? Let me know!

xo Joëlle

Monday, 12 March 2018

5 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Blogging Full-Time

Yesterday I was looking through my calendar, trying to plan the upcoming week when it dawned on me that I have now been blogging full-time for over a year. Looking back now from when I first made the decision to pursue La Petite Noob as my full-time career, it's incredible to think of how much has happened and how far I have come. While I feel as though I've documented my journey since starting to blog full-time, I have never really touched on the feelings and decisions I had to make when making that fateful decision to stop working a day job and commit myself fully to the blog. Seeing as how some of the most questions that I get have to do about blogging as a business, I thought that I would share 5 questions to ask yourself before deciding to blog full-time.

1. Am I Making Enough Money To Sustain Myself?

This seems like the most obvious question to ask yourself before making a drastic career move, but it's also the one that is most overlooked. Here's the thing; if you're making money from your side-hustle, it's easy to feel as though you're doing well-enough financially to support yourself. For me anyways, while I was working I was using my paycheque to cover my bills and savings, and anything that came in from the blog was mine to play with - I felt like I was rich! This financial arrangement made it easy to fool myself into thinking that I would be able to easily support myself with only my freelance income. When I really sat down and did the numbers, calculating all of the bills and necessities that would need to be covered, I soon realized that my blogging income would just cover my basic necessities - a far cry from the disposable income I had to play with while working a day-job.

After sitting down and getting real about the numbers, I was able to make a more educated decision about what life would be like when blogging full-time. As much as I was tempted to fudge the calculations, or under estimate how much money I would need to pay all of my bills to make the decision to go full-time with my blog easier, it was to my benefit to be as realistic as possible. The process of realistically evaluating my finances helped me to manage my own expectations about life as a full-time blogger, and helped me to make an informed decision about choosing to blog full-time.

2. Do I Have Savings?

I'm a huge advocate for having financial savings, no matter what situation you're in work-wise. Living paycheque to paycheque is a difficult way to live in general, and is particularly stressful when those paycheques aren't coming in consistently. Having a savings account to fall back on to get you through slow periods while blogging is absolutely paramount before making the decision to quit your job and blog full-time. Even if you feel ready to make the leap into blogging full-time, but don't have a ton of money saved up, I would definitely recommend delaying that decision by a few months to help build up your savings account. No matter what level you're at with your blog, there will be slow periods. Having financial savings to carry you through the slow periods of blogging not only will help you from making bad career decisions just for the money, but will also give you some peace of mind.

3. Do I Have The Support Of My Loved Ones?

This is a tricky one for me, since I don't necessarily believe that having the support of the people around you is imperative for making the decision to blog full-time - but it definitely makes that decision a lot easier.

When I was first toying with the idea of pursuing my blog as my full-time career, my husband Brian was definitely not thrilled with the idea. I don't blame him; it's a new industry without any guarantees, and we're a young couple trying to save for our future. It took me a long time to slowly try to change his mind, but with time (and a few meltdowns) I was able to show him that my side-hustle could really work for us if I made it my career.

As much as I love blogging full-time, it's still a job and with any job there are hard days. Especially in the beginning, I had a really tough time adjusting to being my own boss and had a lot of bad days. Being able to talk about the hard days with your loved ones is so important, and so much easier when they understand and support your career move.

4. What Is My Plan?

If you're thinking about quitting your job to pursue your blog as a full-time career, you need a plan. A business plan, a plan for your content, a plan for budgeting, a plan for your weekly schedules, a plan B, a plan for absolutely everything. Your side-hustle will turn into your full-time career, and that transition will be so much smoother if you take the time to plan and become as organized as possible. While I wasn't nearly as organized as I should have been when I start started blogging full-time, I quickly realized the importance of having a plan.

5. Is This My Passion?

The decision to quit your job and blog full-time is difficult, and you need to ask yourself some really tough questions and be honest with your answers. The number one, most important question to ask yourself is if your blog is truly your passion. Being your own boss is not an easy feat, but it is all 100% worth it if your company is your true passion. Having a passion for your own blog means being driven to continue, even when times get tough and the money isn't coming in. Having a passion for your blog means that you're able to go to bat for yourself when others are trying to negotiate your worth. The passion you have for your own blog will be your motivation and what drives you forward. Everything else can be sacrificed, but passion is paramount.

Pants: c/o Revolve, Sweater: Forever 21, Jacket: Zara
Beret: Amazon, Bag: Prada

I love being able to have La Petite Noob as my full-time gig. The decision to blog full-time wasn't easy, but I'm glad that I was able to ask myself these 5 questions to make the transition a little easier.

What do you guys think? Are you thinking of making the jump to blog full-time? What questions did you ask yourself if your blog is your full-time career? Let me know!

xo Joëlle

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Travel Diary: Shangri-LA Vancouver

Do you guys have a travel bucket list? I definitely do, and while mine is full of exotic locations to visit, it also has hotels and properties that I've always dreamed to be able to stay at. The Shangri-La has been on my travel bucket list for years; ever since I saw a photo of their floor-to-ceiling white marble bathrooms. I've visited their Toronto property for high tea and to enjoy their spa, but have never had the opportunity to stay in one of the Shangri-La's opulent hotels.

With this in mind, you can imagine how elated I was to find out that I would be making a night's stopover in Vancouver before flying home to Toronto, and staying at the Shangri-La Vancouver.

Located in one of my favourite areas in Vancouver (where all of the high-end designer stores are located,) the Shangri-La Vancouver wow-ed me from the moment I stepped foot into the property. The lobby is impressive with high ceilings,  cascading lighting pieces and grandiose floral arrangements. An upscale lobby can sometimes be intimidating, but the warm smiles that greeted us when we first walked into the doors had us completely at ease and set the tone for our stay. The attention to detail and hospitality of the staff is what set the Shangri-La apart for me, and is what transforms this property from a beautiful hotel to an experience that I will never forget.

The Room

I had a room to myself for the stay, and it did not disappoint. The room itself is large; with a seating area, a desk for working, generous closet and the Shangri-La's famous white marble bathroom. The flow of the room put my energy immediately at ease, and what I enjoyed most about my stay was how the features of the room seemed to be intuitive. If I wanted to raise or lower the blinds, I didn't even have to look twice to find the switch that would allow me to do so. It was the same for the lights as well as the curtains; even the 'do not disturb' button could be easy found inside.

Once I got settled into my room, I immediately changed into one of their lush white robes (a ritual I tend to stick with in all hotels) and brewed myself an espresso with the in-suite machine. I still have vivid memories of being completely at peace in this moment, enjoying the cityscape view from my room with the ocean and mountains in the distance.

The Spa

The fact that we were able to enjoy another spa treatment on our West-Coast trip was absolutely incredible - and for that spa treatment to be done at Chi, The Spa at the Shangri-La was icing on the cake.

You guys know that I love a spa treatment, and the treatment that we had done during our stay at the Shangri-La will forever be remembered as one of my favourite spa treatments that I've ever experienced. Lauren and I both chose the spa's signature Aroma Vitality and it was 80 minutes of pure bliss. I love a multi-step spa treatment and this one did not disappoint. A foot bath, a eucalyptus steam treatment and a massage are all included in the Aroma Vitality treatment and the most luxurious part is that you experience all three steps without having to leave the treatment room. After our treatment, we were invited to relax in the relaxation room where we indulged in chocolates and deliciously addictive ginger tea - seriously, I must have had 10 glasses.

I can't stress this enough; if you find yourself in Vancouver and want to treat yourself to some self-care, please head to Chi, The Spa at the Shangri-La. I'm already looking forward to my next trip to Vancouver so I can experience the same treatment.

Dining: MARKET by Jean-Georges

As if our relaxing stay at the Shangri-La in Vancouver couldn't get any better, we were treated to an incredible meal at MARKET by Jean-Georges, an up-scale restaurant that's housed on the hotel property.

I would definitely recommend MARKET by Jean-Georges as another treat-yo-self experience should you find yourself in Vancouver. Some standouts of the meal for me were the scallops as an appetizer, a delicious short rib for my main course, and an absolutely decadent peanut butter chocolate bar as dessert.

Before I knew it my short trip to Vancouver had come to an end, and I reluctantly checked out of the Shangri-La to head to the airport. I'm so grateful to have been able to experience the luxury of a Shangri-La property, and look forward to doing so again for my next trip to the west coast.

If you guys are looking for things to do while in Vancouver, check out my city guide from my last visit to the city. 

xo Joëlle

Thank you so much for the Shangri-La Vancouver for my stay. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Travel Diary: Nita Lake Lodge

I've said it here before, but 2018 will officially go down as the year that changed my opinion about winter. I've gone from someone who begins dreading the season in September to a girl who has embraced the beauty of winter and has actually began to enjoy it. I enjoy the colder months so much that this summer-loving, non-skier packed her bags, hopped on a plane with Lauren of This Renegade Love and flew across the country to check out Whistler: the mothership for everyone who embraces winter. As soon as I stepped foot in Whistler, heard the crunch of the snow under my feet and breathed in the crisp mountain air, I knew that I had made the right decision. I've been charmed by the beauty and hospitality that Whistler has to offer, and I'm excited to finally be sharing my experience with you.

The Logistics: Getting To Whistler

I'm always interested in to logistics to any trip, namely how one gets to and from a destination door-to-door. I actually found the journey to Whistler to not only be hassle-free, but also incredibly beautiful as well. Here's how our journey took place:

  •  We flew direct from Toronto Pearson International Airport to Vancouver International Airport. The flight is about 5 hours long, and flew by with the variety of Netflix I had pre-downloaded on my phone. 
  • Once we landed in Vancouver we followed the signs for Pacific Coach Lines, our coach transfer that would take us directly to our hotel in Whistler. The process was extremely well laid-out, and we even had time to grab a quick coffee before our journey.
  • The bus ride took about 2 hours, and it was gorgeous. You guys. I can't even find the words to describe how beautiful the ride from Vancouver to Whistler is. Admittedly, I'm not a huge fan of the bus in general and even I found the transfer to Whistler to be one of the highlights. Truly, the route from Vancouver to Whistler is something to see, and made me appreciate the beauty of Canada even more.

Where We Stayed: Nita Lake Lodge

The purpose of our trip was to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of Nita Lake Lodge, a gorgeous property that sits right on the lake with sweeping views of snow-peaked mountains all around. Nita Lake Lodge has a reputation that precedes itself, with everyone I know who had previously visited singing its praises. My expectations were high and I was not disappointed. Nita Lake Lodge has enjoyed a successful 10 years because of their beautiful property, amazing location and the value that they place on customer service and experience. The whole stay was incredible; here's a few of my favourite take aways from the weekend:

  • Nita Lake Lodge prides itself on the size of their accommodations; Lauren and I experienced this first-hand. Our suite was HUGE! Two bedrooms, two bathrooms and two stories - all with a generous living area, kitchenette and balcony that overlooked the lake and mountains. I felt like I had my MTV Cribs moment when we first checked in and were exploring the space.
  • I loved the location of Nita Lake Lodge. It's located at the base of Whistler Mountain and the Creekside Gondola, and is a short [free] shuttle ride into the heart of Whistler Village. As a non-skier, I felt totally content just relaxing at the lodge with just a quick trip into the Village to check it out. I know the skiers and snowboarders in our group also took advantage of the nearby Gondola.
  • The coffee is amazing. I know that this sounds like a small thing, but to me it can make all the difference in how I enjoy a property. Nita Lake Lodge boasts a number of different restaurants, and I'll touch on them all, but one standout to me was the quality of the coffee. So, so good.
  • Nita Lake Lodge prides itself on an intimate guest experience, and I feel as though we truly experienced this first-hand. Every single person that we came in contact with was so genuine, so warm and kind and had such pride in the property that they worked at. 

The Food:

With the exception of french fries and wine in Whistler Village (an après ski, without the ski,) Lauren and I ate all of our meals at Nita Lake Lodge. The fact that there were three separate restaurants on the property just added to the intimate feel, and made shuffling down to get coffee at 6am in our slippers (jet lag) so much easier. Each restaurant has its own vibe, but great food is a constant with all three options.

  • Our first meal of the trip was the 10-year anniversary dinner for Nita Lake Lodge, which took place at the newly renovated Aura Restaurant. We enjoyed 5 courses, all with local wine pairings. We enjoyed the meal so much, that we returned to Aura not even 10 hours later to have breakfast! Huevos Rancheros and a delicious vegan breakfast bowl, all while overlooking the lake and mountains. 
  • Every morning started with a visit to Fix Café, where we enjoyed delicious espresso-based drinks, fresh juices and pastries made in-house. The fact that this incredible café is available without even having to go outside is a huge perk.
  • For happy hour drinks, and night-caps of baileys on ice, Lauren and I loved visiting The Cure Lounge & Patio. We also enjoyed a low-key group meal at this Whistler hot-spot one evening and it was delish. Although it was a little chilly while we were there, we were told that the patio is absolutely packed during the warmer months. Now I have an excuse to go back and see what it's all about!

My Happy Place: The Spa

You guys all probably already know what my favourite part of the whole trip was: the spa. I am the spa lady and I enjoy nothing more than spending an entire day just lounging and enjoying a treatment or two. The Spa at Nita Lake Lodge was an amazing experience, and one that I would recommend to anyone visiting Whistler.

For this particular trip, Lauren and I were lucky enough to enjoy a Kundalini massage, and it was unlike anything I've ever experienced before. Meant to align your chakras and promote intense relaxation, the Kundalini massage was 75 minutes of pure bliss. I almost felt like I had an intense reiki session when we were done, and actually had to be escorted to the waiting area because I was so relaxed and out-of-it. I was greeted by an equally zen Lauren, so the pair of us must have been a sight to see. Once we returned to planet earth after about 45 minutes in the relaxation room, we jumped into our bathing suits and enjoyed the rooftop hot tubs that overlooked the mountains.

I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Whistler, and know that it won't be my last. It's experiences like this that make me truly appreciate the beauty that Canada has to offer, both in scenery and in the hospitality and warmth of the people. Should you visit Whistler in the winter as a non skier? Absolutely. I already can't wait to return to Whistler, and you know that I'll be staying at Nita Lake Lodge.

Have you guys been to Whistler? Do you ski or snowboard, or are you more about the après? Let me know!

xo Joëlle

Thank you Nita Lake Lodge for hosting Lauren and I on our stay. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.
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