Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Palm Springs Photo Diary

I'm going to be honest with you; I like to travel with an itinerary. As much as I love the romance behind the idea of visiting a new place and letting the flow of the day dictate your schedule, that's just not me. Give me lists, give me restaurant reservations, give me structure. I come to a new location prepared, researching every last facet to make sure that's we're not missing anything.

That all flew out the window, or should I say burst into flames, when we drove into Palm Springs from LA and were confronted with our first experience with 45+ degree (Celsius) heat. My lawd. The desert heat is no joke, and visiting Palm Springs at the tail-end of summer meant that my ambitious itinerary was revised to only include one task: stay in the pool.

Thankfully we absolutely struck gold with our hotel for the stay. La Serena Villas was relatively new when we had booked in back in January, and with only a few reviews it seemed like we were taking  chance on it. In the end, I could not have been any happier with the location, grounds or service of La Serena Villas. I could go into great detail, but honestly the photos of this property speak for themselves so please enjoy. Ultimately our stay was incredible and both Brian and I agreed that this would be our go-to hotel for any future visits to Palm Springs.

So other than late morning breakfast in bed, days spent lounging by the pool and early dinners at the hotel there isn't much to report. The few times we did leave our property it was mostly for snack-runs or cheap tacos, with only a few hotel visits and sights along the way.

As much as I would have loved to have written an in-depth city guide to Palm Springs, sometimes you have to just roll with the punches and honestly looking back now, I'm glad that the extreme heat forced us to take a slower pace. The universe gives you exactly what you need without having to ask, and a few days by the pool was exactly what the doctor ordered. Besides - there's always next time. Palm Springs, I'll hopefully be seeing you sooner rather than later.

What do you guys think? Do you love itineraries when you travel as much as I do? Let me know!

xo Joëlle

Monday, 17 September 2018

Los Angeles - Summer 2018 Travel Diary

Oh Los Angeles - otherwise known as my happy place. I left a bit of my heart in California the first time that Brian and I ever visited years ago, and I try to go back as often as I can to visit it. You guys know that I've already visited LA earlier this year with Sabrina, but when Brian suggested another visit for the summer I couldn't say no. Call me boring, call me a creature of habit, I don't care - I just love Los Angeles.

This trip was a bit different. Traveling with a husband versus a bestie definitely yields a very different itinerary - at least for me. While my last post about LA covered the most Instagrammable spots in the city, this post will serve mostly as a travel diary; how we got around, where we ate, and where I forced Brian to take my photo in front of. Fun times. Enjoy!

How We Got Around

Since Brian is a very confident driver and, more importantly in LA, an expert parallel parker, we opted to rent a car for our trip. Los Angeles is a city where you absolutely need access to wheels, whether it be Uber or renting a car, and I can say that renting a car in LA is so much better. It's so nice to be able to just jump into your car and take off to all of the different places on your list without having to worry about calling an Uber, or surge pricing. As for parking, most of the time we were able to find a parking spot on the street (including overnight to avoid hotel valet charges.) Honestly, I think that I would be okay to drive in LA, even with the traffic - I'm used to crazy Toronto drivers, and LA is much more chill. If you have the option, I would definitely rent a car.

What We Did

Seeing as this was not our first time to visit Los Angeles together, and my second visit this year, we definitely took things at a slower pace. We spent lots of time on Melrose, grabbing cocktails in West Hollywood and brunching at hotels that were way out of our realm of possibility for overnight stays. Here are a few activities that were new-to-us this trip that we really enjoyed in LA:

  • Even though both Brian and I are the opposite of "outdoors-y," we both really enjoyed the hike at Runyon Canyon. Right in the Hollywood Hills, Runyon Canyon is a perfect way to take in the views of the city, while getting some exercise in as well as some A+ people watching. Bring your cutest workout gear and a pair of good running shoes - you're going to need them. This hike is no joke!
  • New to the city, electric scooters litter the streets and sidewalks and are a really fun and inexpensive way to get around. We downloaded the Bird app and could then walk up to any scooter that we found on the street, use the app to unlock it and start riding! Admittedly, this was more of a favourite for Brian - myself I do not have a need for speed, and those electric scooters are fast. It was a fun way to spend an afternoon, and I'm sure that it's only a matter of time before they come to Toronto.
  • I know it's cliché, and we've definitely done it before, but I absolutely love renting bikes to ride along the boardwalk in Venice Beach. This time we skipped the bike rental shops that line the board walk and opted for the city bikes available on the main road. It's a huge cost savings and really easy to-do. We will definitely be using the city bike system when we visit LA from now on.

Where We Ate

Here's a little glimpse into the eating habits of Brian and I while we're on vacation: we love the odd fancy brunch, grabbing cocktails here and there, but most of the time we opt for good, cheap food. Wether it be fast food, or a hole in the wall  - if it's good and, more importantly, cheap then I'm happy. For this reason, we definitely visited our fair share of In-N-Outs and El Pollo Locos during the trip. Coupled with morning açai bowls to-go (we split one between the two of us) and street fruit, we don't typically spend a ton on food - for the most part. That being said, we did have some memorable meals:

  • Probably our most baller meal of the whole trip was our anniversary dinner at the famous Mr. Chow on Rodeo Drive. This restaurant definitely comes along with some polarizing opinions on whether it's worth it or not, but me personally I loved the whole experience. The food was pretty tasty, but the atmosphere, service and people watching was incredible. I look forward to visiting Mr. Chow again, the next time that we're in LA.
  • I had mentioned before that Brian and I have a soft spot for fancy hotel brunches, and Los Angeles has some of our favourites. We enjoyed eggs and Moscow Mules on the patio of Chateau Marmont and it was incredible - super chill vibes. We also visited my pink paradise, The Beverly Hills Hotel's Cabana Café and had a champagne-soaked indulgent brunch. It was incredible.
  • A nice compromise between cheap eats and baller brunches is our favourite spot on Melrose for plant-based Mexican food - Gracias Madre. We usually would grab a late lunch at this popular spot and it would fill us up until the next day. So, so good.
  • My favourite treat to pick up when we visit Los Angeles is California Donuts. It's an unassuming donut stand in Koreatown that's curiously open 24 hours. The donuts are adorable, great for photos and delicious. I already can't wait to go back!

Top: Forever 21, Bottom: Forever 21

Shorts: Zara, Top: Aritzia

Dress: Forever 21

Top: Forever 21. Bottom: Forever 21, Necklaces - ONecklace

California has definitely stolen my heart, and I already can't wait to get back to LA. Stay tuned for the second half of our trip, to Palm Springs and San Diego.

Have you been to LA? Where are you favourite places to visit? Let me know!

xo Joëlle


Tuesday, 28 August 2018

48 Hours In Prince Edward County

Just a few weeks after my first trip to Prince Edward County, I couldn't seem to shake the desire to visit this beautiful part of Ontario again, so I had to go back. That's how myself, Sabrina, Didier and Isabelle found ourselves is beautiful Prince Edward County for two nights to relax, explore and enjoy a slower pace for two nights.

A slower pace we found, and it was just what the doctor ordered. While my last trip to PEC focused on what to do in the area if you're looking for activities, this trip was all about relaxation, time spent with friends and enjoying the serenity of the county. Here's how we spent 48 hours in Prince Edward County.

Where We Stayed: The Meadow House 

Upon first sight of The Meadow House, I knew that we had made an incredible choice on where to stay in Prince Edward County. Surrounded by golden fields and sunshine, The Meadow House is not your typical Airbnb. We were all stunned when we first opened the door and saw how absolutely beautiful the decor is - I'm talking what you would see in a design magazine! Even with the impeccable design, the vibe is still very chill and cozy with lots of nostalgic touches. The entire space has been curated beautifully with functionality in mind and the every last detail has been considered; even the records available to play were perfection with The Beatles, Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac and The Lumineers. The outdoor patio is an absolute dream, one that I couldn't possibly put into words. I'll let the photos speak for themselves.

The Meadow House has two bedrooms, two bathrooms and can sleep up to six people. It's located in Hillier, so you'll need a car to get around and explore everything that Prince Edward County has to offer. We got out and explored for a full day, and no destination was ever further then 25 minutes away. The light-filled kitchen is fully stocked with all of the essentials, so it makes for a perfect place to cook big family style dinners. Wifi is included and we took full advantage of watching scary movies on Netflix at night after a game of Monopoly that decorates the main table.

I could honestly write a novel singing the praises of The Meadow House. If you're looking for a relaxing getaway in Prince Edward County with beautiful design and modern amenities then this is your place.

What We Did

While we certainly spent lots of our time relaxing at The Meadow House, we did venture into town to explore on our second day. As I covered in my last post, Prince Edward County has so much to offer and we discovered new spots to put on our 'must-do' list when visiting. Here's a few standouts from the trip:

If you guys know me by now, you know that I'm an absolute sucker for a spa. Day spa, night spa, any spa - I'm here for it. So you can imagine my delight when we visited Bloomfield Beauty Co. A beautiful day spa with an array of different services to be enjoyed, Bloomfield Beauty Co. should definitely be considered as part of your relaxation and self-care agenda when visiting Prince Edward County. Sabrina and I were lucky enough to enjoy a pedicure and it was heavenly - I love a pedicure that includes a thorough foot and leg massage. Our resident skincare expert Didier had fun browsing their products and even picked something out for himself to take home - and that's saying something, because that guy is picky about his products! Isabelle enjoyed a matcha latte from their in-house espresso bar and it was just all-around a good time. We even came back the next day for Americanos - seriously their coffee is so good. Bloomfield Beauty Co. is definitely worth the visit.  

Another must-try on the list is Slickers Ice Cream, right across the way from Bloomfield Beauty Co. (they also have a location in Picton too.) This ice cream is made fresh and is freaking delicious! So good. I continue to have dreams about their toasted marshmallow flavour. Omg. SO good. 

Although we ate most of our meals at The Meadow House, we enjoyed a breakfast out at The Drake Devonshire. I loved being able to enjoy breakfast on The Drake Devonshire's beautiful patio that overlooks the lake, and explore the quirky decor of the hotel. I hope I'm able to make it to this hotspot for a weekend brunch - the menu looks amazing!

All in all, it was another incredible trip to Prince Edward County. If you haven't already visited this beautiful destination in Ontario then I highly recommend you do so. There's so much to see and do and I look forward to hopefully being able to visit again in the Fall.

What do you guys think? Have you ever been to Prince Edward County? What's your favourite place to escape to in Ontario? Let me know!

xo Joëlle

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Back To School Denim With Saks OFF 5TH

This year has seen one of the biggest revolutions on my personal style. The one biggest change that I've seen so far? I've become a lover of denim. That's right; what was once a closet that housed a single pair of never-worn jeans is now steadily building a healthy denim collection. Since I'm virtually starting from zero, I've noticed a few holes in my denim collection and one was filled from a recent trip to Saks OFF 5TH; I finally own a denim skirt.

You guys may have noticed that denim skirts have been huge since this past spring, and continue to go strong well into the Fall fashion forecast. I've been wanting to add one to my collection for awhile now, but wanted to wait until I found the perfect fit and for the right price. Let's face it, I'm no spring chicken so gone are the days where I can wear a booty-grazing hemline. I'm also learning that good-quality denim can come with a hefty price tag; I really wanted to find a good deal.

Thankfully Saks OFF 5TH has come to my rescue yet again, and is delivering huge savings on denim, just in time for back-to-school! Even though I'm not going back to school, I'm still all too happy to take advantage of the savings. I tried on so many pairs of jeans from amazing brands, and couldn't believe the prices. This denim skirt, for example, is 7 For All Mankind and I scored it for a fraction of the regular cost!

With the money that I saved, I was able to put together an entire outfit from Saks OFF 5TH. This oversized t-shirt looks great tied in the front, and I'm always more then happy to add to my scarf collection - this pink scarf completes the outfit when used as a headband. I just love going into a store and coming out with an entire outfit!

Skirt - 7 For All Mankind c/o Saks OFF 5TH, Shirt - c/o Saks OFF 5TH
Scarf - Ralph Lauren c/o Saks OFF 5TH

What do you guys think? Are you all about the denim lately like I am? What's your favourite style of denim going into Fall 2018? Let me know!

xo Joëlle

This post was created in partnership with Saks OFF 5TH. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

Monday, 20 August 2018

Lessons I've Learned As I Get Older

There's something about late summer that always makes me nostalgic. Maybe it's the fact that all signs are pointing to the end of my favourite season, and the realization that I have a whole year until I enjoy it again - it brings up feelings of time and reflection on all the years that have passed.

While I try not to live too much in the past, I do regularly practice a quiet reflection to take stock on my life; the triumph, the failures and everything in between. I've learned that rather then dwelling on the past, it's so much more helpful to try and look at lessons that you've learned that help you to navigate to a better, more peaceful future.  Here's the result of my latest late-summer refection, and lessons that I've learned as I get older.

You're More In-Control Then You Think

Life has a way of throwing a ton of stuff at you; sometimes it's roses, and sometimes it's bullshit. While I've learned the hard way that you can't control what gets thrown at you, what you control is how you react to it. In most situations there's a positive side and a negative side, and I'm working on focusing on the positive. It's definitely a work-in-progress, but it's well worth it. Taking back control and being more proactive and less reactive is something that I'm just starting to learn now, and I hope to continue to solidify this skill as I get older.

It's True: Your Metabolism Will Slow

I really always thought that this was a myth. I still remember eating a large shrimp burrito at work years ago, and having my older co-workers tell me to enjoy it now because one day my metabolism will slow. Right, I would think with an eye-roll after shovelling the last of my burrito in my mouth. Turns out, they were right. It happened somewhere after I turned 30, but my metabolism has definitely started to slow. What was once a casual dinner of fast-food burgers is now the source of near instant weight gain. This isn't so much as a lesson, as it is a cautionary tale: your metabolism will slow - it's not a myth! Eat all the burritos while you can.

Learn To Love Your Body

While your metabolism may slow, your relationship with your body changes. This may or may not come with age and have more to do with mindset, but for me the older that I get, the more that I appreciate my body for what it does for me - outside of aesthetics. I've learned to cherish my body and prioritize my health and I can honestly say that my relationship with myself has never been better. Who cares if I can't eat an extra large shrimp burrito on the regular anymore? I have two legs that allow me to walk, arms that may be soft but they work and organs that allow me to function. I'm finally understanding when they say that your body is a temple. Be nice to your body - it does way more for you then fill out a pair of jeans nicely.

Time Is Your Most Valuable Commodity

This last lesson is why I love my job of being a content creator so much, and cherish it. It's not about money - it's about time. It's true that money comes and goes, but time if a commodity that you can never get back. I'm so grateful that my current job allows me the time that I need to spend with family and friends. It's also a job that I love, so I don't feel like I'm wasting time. The lesson to take away from this is that if you're stuck in a situation that you feel as though you're wasting what precious moments you have in the day, the time to make a change is now. It may take a while to execute, but if you take the steps to utilize your time in a way that fulfils you, it will be the best decision that you've ever made.

What do you guys think? I hope you like these sort of brain-dump posts. I've been in such a reflective mood the past few days, and this is almost like therapy for me to get it out. I would love to know the lessons that you've learned as you get older. Let me know, and thank you so much for reading.

xo Joëlle
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