Saturday, 11 January 2020

Prince Edward County in the Off Season

I love road trips - I really do. There's something about just packing up as much or as little as you want, without restriction, into a vehicle and just taking off. Living in Toronto we're very lucky that there are so many beautiful destinations nearby, all within a few hours drive from the city. I've never turned down the opportunity to explore our beautiful province of Ontario, and I was hoping that the addition of a baby to our little family wouldn't change that.

For that reason, when we were getting a little cabin crazy from the time necessary to spend at home with a newborn, Brian and I decided to check out Prince Edward County in the fall. It would be our first road trip with Benny - our first trip at all! I have always loved Prince Edward County (in fact I have previously been on a girly brand trip, as well as with friends)  but had never visited in the off season. I knew it would be a slower pace, which would be welcome as we explored our first experience traveling with a baby. All in all, I couldn't wait to take off as a family of three and check out what The County had to offer in the Fall.

Where We Stayed

Because I had such fond memories of my last trip to PEC, and I desperately wanted to show Brian what I think is one of the nicest Airbnbs in the province, we decided on The Meadow House.  My goodness, do I ever love this light-filled, beautifully decorated space. Located in Hillier, which is a great starting point to visit all of our planned destinations in The County, The Meadow House is a literal oasis of style and sanctuary.

One of the reasons I love staying at The Meadow House is that while gorgeous, it's actually a very comfortable and practical space for a weekend's stay - or longer, if your itinerary calls for it. Traveling with a baby, I knew that we would appreciate the comforts that come along with staying in a proper house; a kitchen for meals, a second bedroom for optimal baby sleep and even laundry should we need it.

Visiting Prince Edward County in the off season means that your trip will have a slower pace as the hustle and bustle of seasonal shops and restaurants are closed until Spring. Making sure that the space that you choose to stay during the off season can make or break your trip. Besides, gone are the days of running from destination to destination - traveling with a baby forces you to slow down and spend more time enjoying your accommodations. I'm very happy that we ultimately chose The Meadow House.

*Check out my previous post on Prince Edward County for more photos and details on The Meadow House.

Where We Ate

While Brian and I knew that we would be taking a slower pace while visiting Prince Edward County in the Fall, so there would be lots of relaxing at the Airbnb involved, we did want to take advantage of the amazing restaurant scene that can be found in The County.

La Condesa

Right in the heart of Wellington, La Condesa blew our socks off with authentic Mexican cuisine and absolutely delicious cocktails. The restaurant just opened in the spring of 2019, so it was still fairly new when we visited, but WOW - what an incredible addition to Prince Edward County!

Brian and I started with hearty guacamole with home-made corn chips and tostones, which are fried green plantains with lemon aioli. Followed by nearly every taco they had on the menu and washed down with expertly crafted cocktails, we finished the meal wondering if maybe we should consider moving to The County if this is how they're eating (then we got the bill - still Toronto prices, you can't escape it!) The best part is that the staff were incredibly accommodating with Benny and his car seat, making sure that we had a table that would be able to accommodate and didn't make us feel as though we were an imposition.  

Ten out of ten. And the best part is that because we were visiting in the off-season, this hotspot was able to accommodate us for a table right away. We will be back

Bloomfield Public House

While we only stopped in for a quick coffee, Bloomfield Public House offers deliciously rich espresso-based drinks and looked to be a beautiful spot for brunch in The County and still very lively even in the off-season. The coffee was strong, and necessary after a morning of driving. So happy to see more options for espresso-based drinks in The County.

Drake Devonshire Inn

I couldn't visit Prince Edward County without stopping by Drake Devonshire Inn for brunch. The Drake is a beautiful spot to visit in the summer and proved to be just as busy during the off-season - I'm glad that we made reservations! 

Although I missed dinning on The Drake's lakeside patio, it was beautiful to have that same view while being toasty and warm indoors in the off-season. We enjoyed classic brunch fare and strong coffee to fuel us before we left The County.

Another family-friendly spot, the Drake Devonshire Inn not only accommodated Benny and his carseat without hesitation, but they also had a great washroom with a change table and offered me a quiet spot to nurse before we hit the road back to Toronto. 

Road Trip With A Baby: What We Packed

Seeing as though this was our first trip ever with Benny, we were a little clueless on what to pack. I'm someone who gets very overwhelmed with a lot of stuff, so we tried to pack as light as possible and make due with what was available to us at The Meadow House. Here's everything that we packed for a road trip with one overnight with a 4 month old baby:

  • Our Uppababy VISTA stroller
  • MESA car seat (can be clipped into the stroller base)
  • 2 sleepers
  • 2 baby outfits
  • 1 sleep sack
  • 1 swaddle
  • 1 toy keyboard
  • 1 book
  • Enough diapers and wipes for 3 days (just in case) with a portable change mat
..and that's it. Honestly I was happy to see that we really didn't need all that much stuff, considering that Benny is exclusively breast fed and was too young to walk or crawl at the time of travel. 

The one grey area for us came down to sleep. We were driving up in our compact car, so bringing a pack-and-play or any type of travel crib along with Benny's stroller wasn't possible. We ended up just co-sleeping for the night which, while it worked, proved to be quite stressful as it was something that we had never done before. If I were to change anything, I would have brought either something to facilitate co-sleeping (like our Snuggle Me Organic) or researched a compact travel bed. 

After a blissful weekend getaway (or as close to blissful as traveling with a baby will allow) we were back on the road to make the short trip to Toronto. I absolutely loved spending a quiet weekend away with our little family, and saw Prince Edward County in a totally different light. While you miss out on the hustle-and-bustle of the busy summer, visiting Prince Edward County in the off-season offers a beauty and tranquility that you wouldn't necessarily experience in the warmer weather. I'm so happy that we chose Prince Edward County in the Fall as our first family road trip, and I can't wait to see where else our little trio will visit next.

What do you guys think? Have you ever traveled with a baby on a road trip? Have you visited Prince Edward County in the Fall? Let me know!

xo Joëlle

Monday, 30 December 2019

Goals for 2020

Much like the end of a year being a period of reflection for me, I can't help but think about the year to come. I'm not one for resolutions - I would rather set goals. I like to state my goals and set my intentions every year; not only is it a great way to organize my thoughts, but it's also nice to reflect on at the end of a year to see what's been accomplished (check out my posts from 2018 and 2017.) This upcoming year will see my first full year of being a mother, my first bit of international travel with a baby and (hopefully) setting down further roots in Toronto. It's bound to be a year of learning, growth and likely challenges along the way. Knowing all of this, here are some specific goals for 2020 that I would love to move forward with as the year progresses.

Buy A House

Yes, Brian and I have finally decided to explore the possibility of home ownership. I honestly thought that we would be condo dwellers forever but there's nothing like sharing 750 square feet with three humans and a dog to really change your perspective on things. I'm not going to lie - the thought of being a home owner terrifies me. I genuinely enjoy the simplicity that comes along with renting a small space and condo living, despite minor inconveniences, is so damn easy. While I don't think that having a baby automatically means that you need a house, we really do need more space and I just want to make sure that we're doing the best to our individual abilities for Benny. Buying a house in Toronto is not for the faint of heart, and I expect that this will be one of our biggest transitions and challenges as a couple that we've faced to-date. I'm hopeful that we'll come out on top and move towards home ownership in 2020.

Develop (and stick to) A Fitness Routine

After a fairly inactive pregnancy resulting in a C section, my body is now feeling the consequences of a major abdominal surgery and a nonexistent fitness routine. My back and hips are in constant pain and I lack the energy levels that I once had. Not that I was ever a body builder or a gym person, but there was a time when I was going to regular SoulCycle classes that I felt amazing, my mood was great and I had lots of energy - I miss that. I need to get back into a solid fitness routine that I can sustain long-term. Having a baby definitely makes going to fitness classes more difficult, so my goal for 2020 is to develop an at-home plan for simple strength training and making walking a priority. Baby steps so that I can feel strong in the new year.

Get Back To Blogging

Since starting La Petite Noob in 2013, I've always tried to made this blog a priority. What was once a hobby for most turned into full-fledged business, with companies favouring Instagram and video content, I'm embarrassed to admit that I have not paid the blog the attention it deserves in the past few years. Business aside, there is something therapeutic to me with sitting down to write a blog post. I also feel as though you can develop a more intimate connection with your readers through a blog post - more-so than just a photo on Instagram or even a video. I miss it.

That being said, this blog needs a bit of an overhaul. I feel as though the user experience is lacking; there's virtually no organization and there's got to be a better way to search for relevant content through over 6 years of blog posts. I'm also a bit lost as to what people enjoy reading when it comes to blogs now - the landscape is so different than when I first started. City guides? Shopping round ups? More personal, diary style posts? Let me know!

What do you guys think? Do you enjoy setting goals for the new year? What are you working towards in 2020? Let me know!

xo Joëlle

Friday, 27 December 2019

2019 - Lessons Learned

To say that 2019 has been a year for the books would be an understatement; it's been the most transformative year of my life. With the birth of our sweet boy Benjamin, it's been a year thats brought me my greatest blessing. I never understood the joys of motherhood when people would try to explain it to me, but 2019 is the year that I finally got it. Benny has only been with us for 5 months, but it's hard to imagine what life was like without him.

The year, however, didn't pass without any strife. Spending the majority of 2019 pregnant really tested my mental and physical health. A near-crippling case of prenatal depression coupled with an emergency hospital stay for a kidney infection while pregnant definitely pushed me to my limit. For someone who typically remains in good health both physically and mentally, my struggles this year were unlike anything I've ever experienced.

In the spirit of reflection, and continuing on a tradition of blog posts that I've been keeping up from 2017 and 2018, here are some big lessons I learned in 2019.

Health Is Wealth

Being a former funeral director and witnessing health struggles from close family members, I've always been aware of how valuable your health is - but this year really hit that lesson home from me. It's so easy to get caught up in the frivolities of the everyday, and spend enough energy coveting material objects to really loose track of the big picture - listen, I'm guilty of it too. But it's true that if you're in good health then you truly are fortunate. No amount of money or material objects can buy the ease of a life of someone in good health. While it's near impossible to spend every minute of the day being grateful for your good health, I now start off with a quick thought of gratitude every morning and it's really made a difference in my perspective and outlook on life.

Not Every Situation Is Mind Over Matter

I have a confession to make: I used to be a 'mind over matter' person for most situations in my life. Although I recognized that there were situations that were beyond an individual's control, I just didn't think it applied to me and would attribute a strong mind to overcoming mental challenges and even your physical health. I can' tell you how many times that Brian would be coming down with a cold and I would be chanting at him to squash it with his mind - poor guy would be feeling like crap and I would be shouting at him to fix it with strong thoughts.

Do you hate me yet?

Nothing like having your body completely rocked by a surge and change in hormones to really put it all in perspective. I've mentioned how I was struggling with prenatal anxiety, but honestly it was bad. I spent the majority of my first trimester and a bit of my third in a very dark place, and nothing I could do would pull me out of it. No amount of strong thoughts, gratitude journalling, perspective - nothing. It wasn't until my hormones regulated that I felt any reprieve.

Needless to say, I've changed my tune on mind over matter. While the saying certainly applies in some situations, it definitely isn't universal.

Have Patience

With the immediate gratification we've become used to, waiting for a situation to unfold can feel like torture. While having patience is something I'm sure will be a lifelong lesson, but I'm working on deciphering between "hasn't happened yet" and "won't happen ever." Patience is a process, but I'm trying my best to surrender to timing of your own individual life and to enjoy the journey.

What do you guys think? What have been some of your biggest lessons for 2019? What are you looking most forward to in the New Year? Let me know!

xo Joëlle

Photos by Vai Yu Law

Monday, 9 December 2019

Banana Republic Luxe Holiday Gift Ideas

This post is sponsored by ShopStyle and Banana Republic. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

It's the most wonderful time of the year, and I'm getting right into the holiday spirit by planning my gift lists for all of the amazing people in my life. This year is a big one for me with the birth of Benny and I honestly could not have made it through the last few months as a new mom without the strong and inspiring women who all rallied around me to help out. Words could never describe how much I appreciate the support, so instead I really want to spoil them this holiday season with luxurious gifts that I know that they'll love. My ideal gift is something beautiful that I know the recipient will love, but would not necessarily buy for themselves.

Enter Banana Republic. I've been shopping at Banana Republic for luxurious gifts for my nearest and dearest for years. It's a place that I can depend on to find elevated pieces that can not only be enjoyed during the holiday season, but are always just great pieces to incorporate something special in your wardrobe on the weekly.

My first recommendation when choosing a luxurious gift is to consider a new coat. Now hear me out: if you live in a colder climate, sometimes it feels like putting effort into an outfit is all for nothing because it ultimately gets covered by a coat. BUT if the coat itself is something special and feels like a statement piece in itself, then the colder months don't feel like such a sacrifice to personal style! I'm loving the teddy coat trend again this season, and definitely have my eye on the Sherpa Cocoon Coat and Sherpa Car Coat from Banana Republic. For more of a bold statement, you may want to consider the Faux Fur Long Coat for a seventies vibe, or even a a Leopard Top Coat - because at this point, leopard print truly is a neutral. If the individual on your gift list veers more towards the practical side, then the Twill Utility Jacket may be more appropriate; this is a jacket that can be worn for most of the year and adds instant-style to any outfit.

Knitwear is a more traditional gift, but can be just as luxurious and special when gifting different cuts and styles. Take the Puff Sleeve Sweater; just as practical as a traditional sweater, but the puff sleeves make the design more current and fun! Such a treat to gift to someone that you love. For a real show-stopper of a gift, I have my eye on the Turtleneck Sweater Dress. Just as cozy as any sweater, but with a glamorous twist.

Something else to consider when choosing a luxurious gift is a piece of clothing in an unexpected pattern or with a fun detail that the recipient wouldn't necessarily splurge on for themselves. My absolute favourite is leopard print. Not only is it so on-trend for this season, it's a pattern that is truly flattering on everyone and can easily fit into most wardrobes. My picks that instantly stood out to me from Banana Republic are the Leopard Print Maxi Skirt (I have this same one and it's truly one of the most versatile pieces in my closet)  and the Leopard Print Peasant Midi Dress. For a touch of sparkle, and because you can never go wrong with a fun handbag, I love the Rose Gold Glitter Clutch.

I'm so excited to share my luxurious gifts from Banana Republic with my loved ones this season, with maybe a few gifts for myself as well haha.

What do you guys think? Do you like to treat your loved ones to luxe gifts for the holidays? Which is your favourite piece from Banana Republic? Let me know!

xo Joëlle

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

5 Reasons To Invest In An UPPAbaby VISTA

From the minute we announced our pregnancy, it seemed as though our lives were consumed with collecting our baby gear. With so many products on the market, and with us being new parents, the process seemed to be completely overwhelming. One of the biggest items to consider with baby gear was and is your new baby's stroller. Brian and I knew that we wanted to make sure that we made the absolute best choice for our family; after all, we're city dwellers that live in a small space and travel on-foot for the majority of the time. Choosing our baby's stroller was a crucial decision.

Let me just cut the suspense and let you know that after lots (and lots) of thought and research, we ultimately landed on the UPPAbaby VISTA and we could not be happier with our decision. You guys - this stroller is absolutely fantastic. The VISTA is everything we were hoping for in a stroller and more, providing us with all of the features that we were looking for, and many that we didn't even realize we needed. The stroller has truly been a game-changer for our family, and while it does come with an investment price tag, I would choose it over again in a heart beat. Here are five reasons why you should consider investing in the UPPAbaby VISTA for your growing family.

1. It Handles Busy City Streets Like A Champ

Brian and I are very passionate about staying in the city with Benny, so we knew that we needed a stroller that was easily able to maneuver the busy city streets of Toronto. The UPPAbaby VISTA has exceeded our expectations. Not only do the wheels offer a smooth ride for baby, making sure Benny doesn't wake up during his stroller naps, the back wheels are large enough that we're able to handle any sort of terrain. Those of us in the city know how much construction affects our lives, so I'm grateful to be able to smoothy sail through any detour construction has to offer. Not only that, but we're still going to be traveling on-foot through the winter months - the wheels on the UPPAbaby VISTA will be key in traveling on a poorly-plowed sidewalk.

Ride aside, what truly sets the UPPAbaby VISTA apart from the rest when navigating through a city is how light and agile it is. My worst nightmare was being stuck when all of a sudden a route became inaccessible for wheels, especially since I would be walking by myself during the day. I've easily been able to lift, tilt and squeeze through narrow lanes with my UPPAbaby VISTA making it key to keeping my independence when alone with Benny.

And don't get me started in the basket - my word, the roomy basket under the UPPAbaby VISTA has been a total game-changer. I fit everything down there, and I mean everything - this is where our chihuahua Fritz will hitch a ride! On any given day, our basket will hold a full grocery shop, my large diaper bag, a spoiled dog and even my giant blogging camera. It's truly been a dream, and instrumental in making sure that I can get all of my errands done with a baby in-tow.

2. The Bassinet Is Dual Purpose

One of our fears when starting to choose and collect baby gear was that our tiny condo would become cluttered with all things baby. For this reason, choosing items that were multi-purpose was key. Thankfully our UPPAbaby VISTA has proven to be the ultimate in multi-purpose item - we actually use the stroller's Bassinet as Benny's bedtime bassinet in our bedroom! With the addition of a bassinet stand, we were able to easily convert the Bassinet from stroller to bedtime. The Bassinet itself is gorgeous, and with it's vented base and mattress for breathability and the fact that you can remove everything to wash in the machine, it's an easy choice for both stroller naps on-the-go and overnight sleep.

I just love the Bassinet on our UPPAbaby VISTA, and am already sad for the day when Benny outgrows it (once he reaches 20 pounds or can push up on his hands and feet.) It's been an amazing addition to our condo for its style and dual purpose.

3. It's Great For Small Vehicles

Are you sensing a theme here? Not only do Brian and I live in a small city space, but we also drive a small city vehicle - no mini vans or roomy SUVs here! For this reason, it was really important to me that our stroller be able to fold up compact to be able to fit into our small trunk. Not a problem for our UPPAbaby VISTA, which fits into our small car's trunk no problem. What's more is that because the frame is so compact and light, all 5'2 of me has no problems getting it in-and-out of the car on my own.

Another cool feature is how easily all of the UPPAbaby products work together. For example, we also use the UPPAbaby MESA infant car seat in our vehicle and it clips into the frame of our VISTA easily - without having to use a car seat adapter. I feel like a have a whole new stroller when I use this set up with the MESA car seat, a compact travel system that makes traveling with Benny so much easier. Truth be told, taking Benny in the car with me was one of by biggest anxieties and I credit how easy the UPPAbaby VISTA frame and MESA car seat are to being able to concur that fear.

4. It Grows With Your Family

On of the biggest reasons that Brian and I decided to go with the UPPAbaby VISTA was for how easily the stroller would grow with Benny. Currently we're using either the Bassinet or the UPPAbaby MESA infant car seat, but once Benny starts to grow over twenty pounds, we'll switch seamlessly to the Toddler Seat which can be positioned both front and rear facing as well as reclined. The fact that we know the UPPAbaby VISTA will be able to last our family through the entire stroller stage is amazing and is totally in-line with our 'buy once, use forever' philosophy.

Another reason we ultimately landed on the UPPAbaby VISTA was for the fact that, should we decide to have another child, the stroller converts easily into a double - even three, if you attach a piggyback ride along board!

5. It's Gorgeous While Still Being Practical

Look, I'll be honest - aesthetics are important to me. If I like the way something looks, it makes me very excited to use it. The same applies to the UPPAbaby VISTA. I mean, look at it - it's gorgeous! I myself chose the BRYCE, a beautiful whitish-grey colour, but had a hard time landing on a colour because I loved so many of the choices. There's also so many different accessories to customize your VISTA, from cup holders, handlebar organizers, snack trays and so much more!

Aesthetics aside, we're dealing with a stroller for babies and kids here - and babies and kids are messy. Because we use our VISTA multiple times a day, and Benny sleeps overnight in the Bassinet, things get messy. Poo explosions, pee explosions.. all of the explosions, we've dealt with and appreciate how everything with the UPPAbaby VISTA can be taken apart and washed. Make sure to read the directions on the label.

If you're like us and find that you're agonizing over making the right choice for your baby's stroller, I cannot recommend the UPPAbaby VISTA enough. I'm so glad that we made the choice and I'm excited to see where our Vista takes us.

What do you guys think? How important was your stroller when becoming a new parent? Have you ever tried the UPPAbaby VISTA? Let me know!

xo Joëlle

Thank you so much UPPAbaby for partnering with me for this post. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.
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