Palm Springs is one of my favorite destinations to travel to in California. There are many things I love about the city: the architecture, the food, the surrounding scenery, etc.
I first started paying attention to Palm Springs thanks to social media. A lot of the people that I follow visit Palm Springs either for Coachella or for a quick weekend getaway. Staying in a unique place like Palm Springs will make people want to photograph it. Apparently, Canadians in particular, love showing off while traveling. A recent study published by Hotels.com shows that 36% of Canadian travellers admit to uploading photos to social media (Hello Instagram!) just to show off and 20% admit to checking into places on social media just to make friends jealous. I can personally admit getting serious FOMO when seeing people post about Palm Springs.
Another thing I love about staying in Palm Springs is the incredibly food selection. The city being a major foodie destination, I am always on the lookout for hot new restaurants to try while in the area. According to the Hotels.com study, 60% of Canadians look for tasty food before searching for attractions and beaches when traveling. We’re a generation of foodie travellers so we are always on our phone looking for where to have our next delicious meal.
Using my mobile device also allows me to feel like a local when I travel. Almost 50% of Canadians will use mobile maps to get around and will rely on mobiles to learn the local lingo. There’s nothing I hate more than walking around looking at a big old paper map.
Another must when traveling for me is free wi-fi. In 2016, if a hotel doesn’t offer free wi-fi, I usually don’t even look at the property. 28% of Canadians also do the same, only selecting hotels that offer this service because being connected is key for today’s modern traveller.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to stay at a brand new hotel that has only been open for a few months. The V hotel, located adjacent to downtown Palm Springs, is a sleek and modern hotel that offers top of the line accommodations with a cool boutique feel. There is nothing quite like being one of the first to try out a hotel. I did a little Unrooming video for Hotels.com on my first impressions of the room at the V in Palm Springs.
If there’s one thing that watching the Olympics has for me done this year is encouraged me to be even more active… If that’s even possible!
Lately I’ve been paying more and more attention to tennis because there are so many Canadians leading the way in the sport.
Growing up, tennis was a pretty important part of my summers. I took countless tennis clinics, took part in weeks of tennis camp, attended the Rogers Cup in Montreal and watched my fair share of tennis tournaments on television.
I stopped playing tennis during my teens but have been playing on and off as an adult. Lately, with all the attention Canadian athletes have been getting, it has motivated me to get back on the court. Tennis is such a great workout and way to spend time outdoors, I wish I would have been out again sooner. The city of Toronto also has a handful of free tennis courts around the city that are perfect for either beginners or those wanting to polish their playing skills.
I’m excited to be back on the court brushing up on my skills. I’m currently looking for a tennis partner in the city, so hit me up if you’re game!
Looking for a great sporting event to take part in and help out a great cause all at once? Then consider taking part in one of the Canadian Cancer Society‘s Mudmoiselle races coming up in the next couple of weeks.
Mudmoiselle is much more than just a mud run. The goal of the event is to not only raise funds for the organization but also but also raise awareness for all types of cancer. The Canadian Cancer Society is the primary funder of cancer research in the country. Their mission is to educate Canadians on the 200 different types of cancer, work on cancer prevention and help those affected by cancer through a variety of services and support.
This women’s-only 5k and 18-obstacle run is all about having a good time. The course is open to all levels and is a good introduction to mud runs for those who are new at these kinds of sporting events.
One of the most inspiring things about Mudmoiselle is seeing women like Sherry Meehan, who are currently undergoing treatment for cancer be a part of the event.
I asked Sherry to share a bit of her story and why she continues to take part in sporting events while battling cancer.
“I have led an active lifestyle with exercise since my 30s and starting to run in my mid-40s, eating well and looking after myself so it was a surprise (shock) to me to be diagnosed with breast cancer in January this year. Everything happened so fast from the diagnosis to the surgery and then the start of treatment that I didn’t have a lot of time to think about it. I always thought that if I ever got cancer I would just go into a corner and die but fortunately that didn’t happen. I was lucky to have a very treatable form of breast cancer and, being risk averse, chose the most aggressive treatment for chemo and radiation,” she explains.
At the time she was already signed up for the Mississauga Marathon and with the support of her husband and friends continued training and even completed it. “I found the importance of a good support network made a huge difference and I had enough friends and family that stepped up to support me,” Sherry adds.
During the past couple of months, Sherry has continued being active even during her intensive treatment rounds. “Keeping active during chemo and radiation is not easy. You feel tired, nauseous, have bone or muscle pain, low blood counts and not be eating or sleeping very well. BUT any activity you can do will benefit your recovery,” she says.
“For me, it increased my appetite, helped me sleep better, minimized a lot of the side effects so they were manageable and increased my energy. I worked with a personal trainer two days a week, ran when I could and did some yoga and stretching to remain limber. I wanted to maintain as much muscle mass as I could during treatment so I could recover my health faster after treatment was done and I could go back to my regular life,” Sherry continues, “running has given me some mental toughness and that really helped in dealing with treatment.”
As to why she wanted to partake in an event like Mudmoiselle, she explains that as a benefiter of the research done by the Canadian Cancer Society, there’s no better run to support. “I gathered some sister-in-laws and a niece and am busy making pink costumes for us. We are not fast runners but every race we do is one where we have fun and support each other! Since that seems to be the theme for this event we will fit right in. It will also be a challenge for me but it will make me feel stronger at the end,” she concludes.
There are a handful of Mudmoiselle events that will be taking place across Ontario in the next couple of weeks. The dates and locations are as follows:
August 20th – Sudbury, ON
September 10th – Beaver Valley, ON
September 16th – Kingston H.S., ON
September 17th – Kingston, ON
September 17th – Halton, ON
September 24th – London, ON
I am excited to be taking part in the Halton event on September 17th with my sister. I can’t wait to drag cancer through the mud!
For more information on Mudmoiselle or see how you can raise money for the event, go here.
Growing up, I spent a lot of time watching my grandma paint. I was always fascinated by the different techniques she used, the vibrant colours, etc. So much so that she eventually offered to teach me and for me to take painting lessons. Though I’m not particularly gifted as an artist, I have always liked drawing, painting and expressing myself in a variety of creative ways. It’s inspiring to hear about women like Toronto’s Sarah Phelps, who have pursued their dreams of being an artist. I’m thrilled that she took time away from her paint brushes to answer a few of my questions in my latest 5 Questions With below.
1) What first got you interested in art?
I’ve been an artist my entire life. When I was younger, I focused on drawing portraits and had very little interest in painting. It wasn’t until about 6 years ago that I tried my hand in abstract painting, and haven’t looked back!
2) Why did you want to pursue abstract vs. other forms of art?
Abstract painting gives me the freedom of expression, to use my emotion and just go with the flow. When I create, I have no plan in place, and rarely know what the painting will look like in the end. The less I think about the outcome, the better the painting turns out!
3) What are some of the main messages you try to convey through your artwork?
My paintings have good energy and positive vibes. I want my pieces to inspire others and bring them pure happiness, joy, and inspiration. When I look at my own paintings, I always feel something (as opposed to seeing something). It is up to the viewer to determine the story behind the painting, and what it means to them.
4) What is it like to be an artist in a place like Toronto? Is there a supportive art scene here?
I believe that it isn’t the place that determines your success, it’s your motivation, drive, and perseverance. The Toronto art scene is decent and becoming more supportive. That said, it’s important to put yourself out there to get noticed, go after the opportunities that you desire, and to continuously network and connect with people worldwide if you want to move forward with your art career. I sell my art to people all across the board, from Toronto to Vancouver, Italy, Bermuda, Switzerland, Indiana, etc, so it’s not all about where you are located.
5) Where would you like to see your artwork take you one day?
Although I am currently successful in my art career, I want to push the boundaries, travel, and I’m determined to make it big as a well known artist! I have a plan in place and executing it as we speak!
Ragweed season is here but there are still lots of great ways to stay active during this sensitive time of year.
Unfortunately ragweed is a plant that can produce a million grains of pollen each day. Ragweed season usually begins in late summer, i.e. now and can continue up until September or even October depending on the year. Southern Ontario is particularly affected by ragweed and though one might think that living in an urban area like Toronto would help, ragweed can grow just about anywhere and therefore is also present in the air in big cities. Due to global warming, ragweed season has been getting longer as a result of trees and plants getting a longer growing time. However, this shouldn’t stop anyone from remaining active as there are many ways to fight against or reduce ragweed allergy symptoms.
If being outdoors is too much to handle, there are lots of great free fitness classes that are available around the city every week. These full body conditioning-type workouts will keep you active even if you have to stay indoors. Also, Toronto being a very fit city, there are a ton of drop-in classes being offered across town at all times during the day and evening. Anything from boxing, barre classes, yoga, boot camps, etc. You name it, Toronto’s got it.
If you can still manage working out outdoors, there are a handful of tips that can help you stay active even if your allergies flare up. The first recommendation is to be able to identify what ragweed looks like and to stay away from it. Second, if you have a home, make sure to remove (or get someone to remove it for you) ragweed from your property. A third tip that is essential if working out outdoors is to shower and wash your hair immediately after coming in from a workout. Also make sure to leave the clothes you wore working out, outdoors and wash them right away. If you do plan to exercise outdoors, be sure to use REACTINE® before going outside, as it can start to work in 20 minutes and lasts 24 hours. For extra help when your nose is also dry, REACTINE(R) NaturEase Nasal Spray will help reduce symptoms of dry, irritated nose.
Workout locations are also key. Opt for working out in sand, or on gravel or even asphalt. Things like outdoor green gyms or alternatively riding your bike, rollerblading or running on a multi-purpose trail are great options. Also, doing yoga, a HIT or fitness class in the sand can help. Additionally, if you like watersports, it’s a great way to stay active without having to suffer from these allergy symptoms. Swimming, , kayaking, canoeing are all great activities you can do far away from ragweed.
If you want to know when the best time is for your outdoor workouts, you can keep track of daily pollen forecast by following @ReactineCA on Twitter. The times to avoid are usually mid-morning until afternoon. So early morning and evening workouts are usually best!
Growing up, I never missed out on an opportunity to be active and play sports. I was the kid that played sports at lunch and every night after school. Whether it was being on the swim team, skipping, skiing, figure skating, karate, playing soccer, volleyball, or even dancing, I was always encouraged to throw myself into sports.
When I hit adolescence, a lot of my friends stopped being active, for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately, this is a phenomenon that is quite common. More than half of girls drop out of sports by the time they end puberty. Instead of following in their footsteps, I decided to dedicate myself even more to sports.
Sports are without a doubt what helped me deal with all the changes I was experiencing both physically and psychologically. Like many girls, I experienced a drop in confidence during puberty. But, as I began to compete in karate and also dance semi-professionally, I felt stronger both physically and mentally. Both of these activities kept me busy and focused. Every time I would partake in a competition or even perform at a dance show, I felt a big sense of accomplishment. Luckily, I had a mom who encouraged me to pursue my passion for sports and did everything she could to keep me active. Her support and understanding was key in me continuing to pursue athletics well into my adult life.
I am a true believer that being involved in sports growing up is key in building one’s self-esteem and confidence, especially during adolescence. It definitely did for me.
I’m thrilled to see a brand like Always championing girls’ confidence on a global level and right here in Canada. Via their campaign, they have transformed the simple sentence #LikeAGirl to mean powerful and amazing things. Their mission is to help stop the drop in confidence among girls and they want everyone to show the world how they can Keep Playing #LikeAGirl.
How do you Keep Playing #LikeAGirl? Share a photo on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag to show how you keep playing!
This post was written in collaboration with Always but all opinions are my own.
This past weekend I had the pleasure of staying at one of Hotels.com‘s hundreds of thousands of properties that are located in over 200 countries. For my trip to Prince Edward County, I stayed at the TownePlace Suites located in Belleville.
This was my first time booking a hotel with Hotels.com and I found the entire process to be super quick and easy. What I like about their policy is that after every 10 nights you book with them, you get 1 night free.
One of the things I’m particularly found of on the site, are the guest ratings. They are quick and easy to find and provide great insight when booking a room.
I downloaded their app for free, which made my check-in even easier because I had access to my reservation right in the palm of my hand.
Another unique thing to Hotels.com is their post-check-in survey that allows hotel guests to immediately rate the room and check-in service only minutes after arriving and thus providing real-time feedback to the hotel.
The TownePlace Suites was the perfect combination of comfort and class. We had all the amenities we needed for our weekend in the area. Our suite was equipped with a beautiful kitchenette (which to my surprise even included a dish washer!). There was also a desk area that was perfect for the blogging I had to do over the weekend. The bed was incredibly comfortable and plush. The bathroom was spotless. Even if the room was a little small, it contained a lot of storage and state of the art amenities. A great plus was also the free breakfast in the morning, the perfect way to kick-start my day!
I made a little Unrooming video to show you guys the room that we stayed in and also gave a rating on 5. These Unrooming videos are also a great way for you to see what the room in a particular hotel actually looks like at the moment and also get a full review of the room.
I love learning from other women. Julie Clark, the founder of the Toronto brand Province Apothecary is someone who shares her green beauty and wellness knowledge via her amazing line of organic and natural skincare products. She recently opened up a new shop in the Little Portugal neighborhood of Toronto, where her clients will now be able to access her entire line of vegan and cruelty free products. She shares with us today her inspiration behind her line and her summer go-tos!
1) Where does your passion for green beauty originate from?
I have suffered from eczema for my entire life, i was sick and tired of using terrible products for my skin that in the end never healed it0 just made it worse. I thought there must be something better out there and so i started this skincare journey and started learning about the power or pure organic plant ingredients.
2) Why did you want to start Province Apothecary?
It started it for self healing reasons- to help my eczema that I had had for 28 years. I have accomplished my goal and now am able to heal my skin with our organic plant based products. I also now much more about skin then I ever expected and I love sharing this knowledge with our clients and customers on a daily basis. I had no idea how to treat my skin before I started on this journey and I had so much to learn!
3) What would you say separates your line from others?
The fact that I am an aromatherapist and holistic aesthetician. I see clients on a daily basis and give them amazing, relaxing, custom organic facials! I love connecting with them and truly understanding their needs and their skins needs. It so amazing to help them find the right routine for them and see their skin improve + glow after only a few weeks!
4) What are some of the benefits of using handmade & organic beauty products vs. general drugstore products or bigger brands?
They are better for your whole body and the whole plant! You also get more powerful products that are made with pure, organic plant ingredients- not petroleum by-products and commercial grade ingredients.
5) What are your top 3 product recommendation for the summer?
I’m currently in PEI and can not live without:
Our rescue balm- I use it 10 times a day to keep my hands hydrated (this is where I have eczema) – every time I wash my hands I apply it. Also, it’s the best lip balm!
Our eczema balm- I am extremely sensitive to the sun and get heat rashes constantly. Every night I will apply the eczema balm to any sun rash and wake up with normal, healthy skin!
Our toner- It’s hot here and one of my favourite things to do is keep the toner in the fridge and spritz myself whenever I’m in the kitchen- or need a cool down. Rosewater is so rich in phytonutrients and it is one of the most cooling hydrosols.
I’m thrilled to share with you today the first of three destinations located just a few hours from downtown Toronto. These destinations are perfect getaway ideas for those living in Toronto or Southern Ontario. This weekend’s destination was – Norfolk County.
For these weekend getaways, I’ve also partnered up with Ford Canada to try out some of their latest models while driving to different areas of Southern Ontario. For this past weekend, my ride was the 2016 Ford Edge Titanium. I became familiar with the car in the spring during stress awareness month (you can see the post here) so I was excited to take it for much longer ride and explore more of the car’s many features during the weekend.
I was first introduced to Norfolk County a few weeks ago at an event. I had never ventured down to Lake Erie before so I was excited to make my way to a new area of the province. This area is located just 2hrs from Toronto and offers some of the best outdoor adventures as well as local food and wine options in Ontario.
The Ford Edge Titanium was a smooth and comfortable ride down to the county. I took advantage of the car’s cooling seats and extra-large sunroof to keep me cool during the ride. I was also happy to find Voice-Activated Sync 3, which allowed me to pair my phone and use voice commands to help me navigate and also choose my favorite Sirius XM radio station – Lithium! (Am I giving my age away by saying that?) Another thing I thoroughly enjoyed while driving is the lane-keeping system that gently nudges the wheel to help you stay alert and maintain proper lane position especially during those longer drives.
When we reached the county, we checked-in to Long Point Eco-Adventures. If you’re a camping and nature enthusiast, you will want to add this spot to your weekend itinerary. This eco-friendly adventure centre offers some of the coolest lodging accommodations in all of Ontario. If you’re looking for a rustic experience, you will want to book your weekend in one of their wilderness pods. This ultra-cute pod can barely be called “ruffing it”, with its beautifully furnished wooden interior and extra comfortable bed. The glass and screen doors as well as private wooden deck allow for beautiful nature and relaxing views. They have brand new showers and toilets located just a few steps away.
If you’re looking for something a little fancier, Long Point Eco-Adventures also offers beautiful glamping wilderness suites equipped with king or queen beds, private bathrooms and beautiful outdoor showers. Amenities such as a mini-fridge, hardwood floors, hot and cold running water, electrical outlets and free outdoor parking, make these suites comparable to any 5-star hotel.
No matter what type of accommodation you’re staying in, you’ll have access to a delicious complimentary homemade hot breakfast every morning in their main tent. Their super friendly staff know how to kick-off your morning the right way.
What’s great about Long Point Eco-Adventures is the array of activities they offer. Because I’m all about trying something new, I took the Ford Edge Titanium to the nearby waterfront for a few hours of fishing and kayaking with Baer Fishing Adventures, one of Long Point Eco-Adventures many expedition offerings. My fishing days go back to grade 5, when I had caught a crab in PEI and that’s about it. We spent 3 hours in the water learning about casting a line, different fishing techniques while also pedalling in this super unique kayaks. Though it took a bit of time, I finally caught my first fish with the help of the super rad guide. What’s great about the expedition is that it’s a small group and also, you are encouraged to release the fish, only a select few are actually brought back to shore. The expedition was a great experience and a whole lot of fun. It was so neat to be out on the water while learning new skills. I even got to eat the fish that I caught a few hours later for dinner thanks to the kind folks at Burning Kiln Winery, who cooked up the bass with fresh lemon and lavender. A first for me!
Located just a few steps away from and affiliated with Long Point Eco-Adventures, Burning Kiln Winery is a repurposed tobacco pack barn that has been transformed into a multi-award winning winery. They have 27 acres and produce 4 reds and 4 whites, including my personal favorite of the weekend, the 2011 Kiln Hanger. Before going this winery, I had never really found an Ontario wine that I thought really lived up to Californian or European wines but that changed this weekend when I had this delicious red. We were given a tour of the beautiful property which includes the UNESCO-designed Long Point bay World Biosphere Reserve where you can find turtles, migratory birds and all sorts of wildlife. We were also shown their brand new garden where they grow most of the produce they use to serve dinner.
From May to September, in addition to wine tasting you can also eat some of the most delicious food made by Chef Scott McRae of David’s restaurant that features some of the best local products. Their local charcuterie and cheese board is a must and so is their Korean Fried Cauliflower (which is vegan) and also Aranchini Balls. Their patio or even beautiful wine tasting room and indoor dining area (perfect for weddings!) are all great locations to enjoy their delicious food and wines.
If you aren’t staying at Long Point Eco-Adventures, you can easily access the winery and other great spots in the region via the Norfolk shuttle that runs across the whole county. It only costs $6 for a day, can drop you off and pick you up at a handful of destinations in the county and you can even bring your bike onto the bus if you so desire.
After all this food and wine it’s only normal that I wanted to go spend more time exploring the outdoors and some local activities. One of the fun things I got to do over the weekend is spend time at Turkey Point beach. This beautiful sandy beach on Lake Erie is perfect for a picnic, a swim or even watersports. Turkey Point Watersports rents SUP, kayaks and even sea-doos for those seeking even more adventure. I took out a SUP board for a beautiful paddle out in the calm water. It was a great place to spend the afternoon. They’ve got a few shops and restaurants by the waterfront so you can easily spend the entire day there.
Before leaving the area, I wanted to make sure I tried zip lining again. I had had such a blast in Whistler in the fall that I couldn’t resist zipping around the area for a few hours. What was great about the Long Point Eco-Adventures zip line and canopy tour is that it not only features 8 zip lines, 2 suspension skybridges and a 40-foot rappel but it’s also a great way to learn about the area. The two guides that spend the 2-2.5 hrs on the tour with you give you a lot of info about local history, wildlife, etc. The tours are nice and small, which make it relaxing and also very easy to make friends along the way.
One thing we wished we would of have time for was the observatory at Long Point Eco-Adventures. They have one of the biggest telescopes in the country and offer great nightly sessions to learn about the beautiful sky that surrounds us.
On the way home we stopped in Port Dover to grab lunch at the Urban Parisian café. I hope to spend more time there on my next trip, as the motorcycle culture is huge there and the city looks incredibly cute.
We couldn’t have gotten a better vehicle for all of our outdoor expeditions this weekend. The Ford Edge Titanium had lots of space for gear, suitcases, tents, etc. and most importantly, was incredibly comfortable to drive.
Even if it was an action-packed weekend, we only got to scratch the surface in Norfolk County. There are so many other cities and activities I would have liked to explore so I hope to have the opportunity to make my way back there again for more firsts. Everyone in the area that we met over the weekend were so incredibly hospitable, friendly and proud of their region and after spending time there, I can totally see where that pride comes from!
For more information on Norfolk County and all the local accommodations, activities, restaurants, etc. please go here: http://www.norfolktourism.ca/
Stay tuned next week for a brand new destination. In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy my little recap video below.
There’s nothing quite like a cold-pressed organic juice on a warm summer day so I decided to compile some of my favorite summer juices for today’s #FoodieFriday post!
1) Village Juicery – These guys always come up with great summer flavours that will not only quench your thirst but that are also super nutritious. Their special “Spring & Summer 2016” juice with hazelnuts, strawberry, coconut water, alkaline water, vegan protein and salt is my favorite refreshing and also filling snack. If you’re looking for something with more veggies in it, “Be Radiant” is my go-to. It has carrot, sweet potato, lemon, granny smith apple and fresh tumeric root. Finally, if you’re the active type, you’ll want to try “Be Active“, with pear beet, apple, ginger, lemon, perfect for energy after your workout.
2) Dose Juice – Newly available in Ontario (you can find them at Whole Foods, amongst other places), this little company from Montreal makes a great selection of original and tasty juices. I was particularly drawn to the names of their juices like Amazon, Cactus, Yogi and Tango, just to name a few. They have a huge variety of juices but some of my favorites are “Basil“, the perfect refreshing lemonade with a bit of basil and also chia seed. I also love to drink “Samba” before my workouts which contains apple, beet, carrots, cucumber, orange, kale, lemon and ginger.
3) Forbidden Fruit Juice – This is one of my latest dicoveries, I had never heard of them until very recently. They are also great with creating original blends of juices and clever with their names. I love “Breathe” because it gives me the perfect morning kick with pineapple, cilantro, kale and jalepeno. I’m a big fan of “Blue Majik“, for its antioxidants. The juice is made of blue pigment algae from E3 Live as well as homemade young thai coconut milk and pineapple. Another one of my favorites is “Breath of Fire” for its super original ingredients – dragonfruit, pineapple and chilli.