Melbourne – A Little Touch of Toronto

It’s been a while since I’ve posted but I felt compelled to share some of my thoughts on my recent trip down under. The past month has been incredible. Australia and New Zealand has been on my travel bucket list since I was a kid so to finally be able to go, was pretty surreal.

We spent several weeks in a van (post about that coming soon!) and then flew to Australia to visit the Gold Coast and drive all the way from Brisbane to Melbourne and surf at as many spots as possible along the way. I will definitely make certain to share with you some of my favourite plant-based foodie finds while I was there but before doing so I wanted to share some of my thoughts on the great city of Melbourne.

Immediately when we arrived, I felt a familiar sensation in my chest. I right away felt like we were back in Toronto but with the nature and weather of Los Angeles. The parallels between Toronto and Melbourne are actually pretty crazy.

Here are a couple of similarities I noticed:

They have streetcars. They look and sound exactly like the ones in Toronto. They’re even made by Bombardier!

They have similar architecture. They have tons of old houses that remind me of the houses in the Annex in Toronto, with the stained-glass windows and a victorian feel. Even the downtown looks the same and has many of the same street names.

They have a big train station. It resembles Union Station because of where it’s located in the city, what it looks like and also because it connects both commuter trains and the local subway to the downtown core.

Lower Dawn Parklands is known as Merri Creek Trail. In Melbourne, the trail goes more than 21k across the city and is a mix of forested area, gravel and road.

They are right on the water. There’s both the beach and the river, both of which have a similar vibe than The Beaches and parts of the Martin Goodman Trail. It’s a great place to explore, go for a walk or run. The only difference is instead of being Lake Ontario, it’s the ocean!

They have a “Trinity Bellwoods” and “Christine Pitts”. There are tons of similar looking parks around the city, but the area called Fitzroy, definitely reminded me of West Queen West.

There’s a graffiti alley. This is probably what reminded me the most of Toronto. The alley was filled with awesome artwork and tourists taking photos or staging photoshoots.

They have West Queen West shops. There are so many of them that remind me of the ones in Toronto. I found a super cute shop that reminded me of Bluboho in Toronto. Since leaving Toronto, I’ve definitely missed my friends and also the city’s edge, independent shops, fashion, etc. Recently, I was able to get some pieces from Bluboho sent to Vancouver and I now bring them with me everywhere I go. They are a lovely reminder of the city I spent 10 years in and will always love.

Wearing my Bluboho Lasso Bracelet and La Petite Amie Signet Ring (that I engraved with my initials!)

There are countless other ways Melbourne made me think of Toronto from restaurants to the coffee shops and various neighbourhoods. It made my visit to Melbourne that much more enjoyable as I spent time remising about the great years I spent in Toronto.

If you’re planning on heading down under, make sure you stop in this incredibly multicultural and lively city!

Get my Bluboho Lasso Bracelet (here) and La Petit Amie Signet Ring (here). 

*I was not compensated for this post but was gifted the Bluboho jewelry

Go Camping with MEC’s Gear Rental Program

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Looking to start camping this summer or in need of some extra camping gear to make your travels more epic? If so, check out MEC‘s camping gear rental program.

Before moving to British Columbia, I had never really gone camping as an adult. There are many reasons why I had never done so but the major reason being that I did not own or know anyone that owned good camping gear. The few memories I have camping as a kid are that it was always uncomfortable, that our old tent would always get wet, that we didn’t have the proper cooking gear, etc. So camping was definitely not one of my favorite activities growing up!

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Now with mountains and the ocean in my new backyard, I’m making it a point to rediscover camping and give it another shot. Since I don’t own any camping stuff and am not ready to buy a ton of gear without knowing if this is something I will like doing, I was thrilled to find out that MEC has an easy to use camping gear rental program. Their gear is available to rent out in most stores located across the country including those in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. Even as a long-time MEC member, I had no idea MEC rented some of their great gear out. They rent anything from camping gear to snowshoes and even SUPs!

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What’s awesome about this program is that not only is it incredibly inexpensive to rent gear, it’s also a great solution for those who like myself, don’t have a lot of storage space or aren’t ready to make that investment just yet.

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Thanks to the help of MEC, we put together a great pack for our first camping weekend in Tofino that included sleeping bags (they even have double sleeping bags for couples!), sleeping pads (that can be velcro’ed together to make a double pad) and a tent.

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The gear is of utmost quality and super easy to transport. The MEC tent is also fast to set up. Sadly, it did rain on one of the days we were camping but unlike my experiences as a kid, the tent did not flood and all of our gear stayed dry!

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Camping last weekend turned out to be so much more pleasant than I remembered. I know now that it’s all about the gear you bring (and also the company!). So whether you’re a seasoned camper or a total newbie like myself, camping is one of the coolest things you can do during the summer to spend time surrounded by nature. I highly recommend giving it a try, if you haven’t already!

For more info on MEC‘s camping gear rental program, go here.

This post was written in collaboration with MEC but all opinions are my own.

Coming Full Circle

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Do you recall transitory moments in your life? Moments when things really changed for you? There have been a lot of transitory moments in my life and a lot of those have occurred during the time I was in Toronto.

A very big moment in my adult life happened over two and a half years ago, when I got back into fitness. I don’t know if it directly coincided with the fact that I had just turned 30, or the inspiration I got from a friend (the beautiful Sosasha!), but it was a big life-changer. It was the moment, when I started being active again. It didn’t really come as a sudden decision but rather was a slow progression from a relatively unhealthy and pretty inactive lifestyle to becoming the person I am today.

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Therefore, it was quite a strange feeling being back in Toronto this past week and visiting some of the many places I had worked out in and also seeing my “fitness family”, the men and especially the women that have supported me on my fitness journey.

Toronto is without a doubt the reason why I am so active today. Though I grew up being SUPER sporty and partaking in all sorts of sports, Toronto gave me a newfound love for leading a healthy lifestyle. The city’s many gyms, trails, parks, fitness studios, etc. as well as trainers and fitness enthusiasts really pushed me to reach new goals and challenge myself in ways I never thought possible. People hustle hard here and also work out really hard.

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While I lived in Toronto for almost 10 years, I battled with some anxiety due to an extremely stressful and toxic work environment, crappy relationships, etc., so I turned to fitness as a way to help me cope with it all. Fitness has helped me so much that I was inspired to obtain my personal training certification in the fall with NASM, in order to be able to help others with their own fitness journeys.

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Coming back to Toronto after being away for more than 8 months this past week, really made things come full circle for me. Not only did I get to refuel by doing some of my favorite workouts in the city, I also got to chat with some of those who inspired me along the way. I’m now leaving my hometown feeling even more inspired to keep moving forward on this fitness journey and can’t wait to see what’s next!

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Photos & hair by: Cabello by Carolina

What I’m wearing: Hyba Solid-Coloured Crop Legging (get it here), Hyba Printed Medium-Impact Sports Bra (get it here).

This post was written in collaboration with Hyba but all opinions are my own.

Rexall Opens New Flagship Store in Toronto’s Historic Brunswick House

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It’s rare these days to see the heritage of properties and venues across the city of Toronto being preserved. However, when Rexall decided to open up their new flagship store in Toronto’s iconic Brunswick House, they made sure to not only preserve but also celebrate the venue’s musical past.

The Brunswick House is without a doubt one of the coolest landmarks in Toronto. What initially started off as a saloon in 1874, evolved into many things over the years including a hotel, a dance hall, a jazz and blues place as well as a concert venue and bar more recently.

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I have a personal connection with this iconic place, as Brunswick was the first street I lived on when I first moved to Toronto back in 2009. I frequented the Brunswick House on several occasions for drinks and to watch hockey games during my first couple of years in the city. What I did not know is just how much musical history there was in that building.

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“The Brunny” as locals like to call, served as a concert venue for heavy hitters such as Etta James, Buddy Guy, Gordon Lightfoot and even Canadian guitarist Jeff Healey. Artifacts, instruments and old gig posters from these concerts are all featured in the music exhibit and memorabilia collection currently on display inside the Rexall.

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In addition to preserving these items, Rexall worked closely with the City of Toronto’s Heritage Preservation Service to restore the building’s outdoor façade and many interior elements that made this place so unique, such as the chandeliers, the tin ceiling, signage and the infamous keg barrel bar. All have been included in the drugstore’s new design.

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Rexall‘s new flagship store will offer residents of the Harbord Village and surrounding area high-quality health services and personalized health experiences. There will also be a health centre, which will include a family physician and walk-in clinic in addition to providing drugstore and pharmacy products all under one roof.

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Make your way over to the new Rexall store to check out the Rexall Brunswick House Music Artifacts Exhibition before it moves to its permanent home at Calgary’s Studio Bell in 2018.

The new Rexall flagship is located at 481 Bloor St. West in Toronto.

This article was written in collaboration with Rexall but all opinions are my own. 

5 Steps Towards a Healthier Self in 2017

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The new year is just around the corner so I wanted to share a few tips on how to make 2017 your healthiest year yet!

1) Get Inspired. The one thing that got me motivated throughout the year, especially during my injury and throughout the winter, when it was hard to get up before the crack of dawn to go work out or when it got really cold out, was to follow some inspiring people on my social networks. I chose to follow some other ladies that were also leading a healthy lifestyle and doing some of the things I aspired to do in order to motivate myself to get out there. I followed well over 50 inspiring women who were either cross-training, running, cooking healthy meals, meditating, etc. And since I’m guilty of spending a lot of time on my phone and on social media, it was a great way to find inspiration during tougher times.

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2) Set Goals. Make a schedule with short, medium and long term goals throughout the year. Whatever you want to accomplish, you can do it easily if you break it down into smaller easier goals that you can achieve along the way. There’s a great quote that says “Without a goal, you can’t score” and I couldn’t agree more. Set yourself a few goals throughout the year, goals that can be measured, that are specific and that require concrete results and you’ll surprise yourself with what you’ll be able to accomplish.

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3) Visualize. If you want something really badly in life, make sure you visualize it, express it in your every thought and breath. Take 2 minutes each morning when you wake up to visualize your goals. Visualize what you want for yourself, what you want to achieve and how you want to do it. The more you believe in what you visualize, the more it’ll manifest itself and you will get it. It may sound phoney but it really truly works.

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4) Make it fun. Find new buddies to work out with, have people over to make recipes as a group or look up cool new workouts in your area. The only way you’ll become healthier, fitter and happier is if you’re having fun while doing so. Don’t make it a chore, make it something you’re excited about. Break up your routine, keep yourself interested, entertained and you’ll stick with it.

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5) Make yourself your number 1 priority. My injury late this year was a major reminder to make myself my number 1 priority ALWAYS. We often forget to take to take time for ourselves every day and as a result things can happen. I would make up excuses as to why I didn’t need to take the time to stretch pre and post-workout and as a result, I paid for it and had to be out for a longer period of time than if I would have taken those few minutes each day to help myself. There really are no excuses. Make sure to take time for yourself every day in order to make 2017 your healthiest year yet!

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Photos by: @Offner

What I’m wearing: Hyba Lettered Tank (get it here), Hyba Lettered Leggings (get them here).

This post was written in collaboration with Hyba but all opinions are my own.

Jane Goodall Collection by G Adventures

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Growing up, I spent countless hours reading National Geographic because my family had a subscription. I remember reading a really inspiring article on Jane Goodall and was immediately intrigued by the work she had been doing with chimps. Since, I have read countless articles about her work in Gombe and with the Jane Goodall Institute. Along with legends like marine biologist Sylvia Earle and environmental activist David Suzuki, Jane Goodall has always been on my dream interview bucket list. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to spend a day with Dr. Goodall.

I’m thrilled that G Adventures, a Toronto-based adventure travel company, the biggest for small group travels recently announced a partnership with the Jane Goodall Institute to help promote the importance of wildlife-friendly travel.

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Called the Jane Goodall Collection, this program of 20 curated wildlife trips has as a goal to raise awareness of the importance of wildlife-friendly tourism. These trips are a great way to learn about the natural world as well as our relationship with it. They also hope to raise awareness for the Jane Goodall Institute, which supports research into the behaviour of wild chimpanzees, and community-based conservation programs that protect chimpanzees and their forest environment.

The Jane Goodall Collection trip destinations include Borneo, Madagascar, the Galapagos Islands, Kenya and more. I can only imagine how awesome and inspiring it can be to potentially walk in the footsteps of Jane Goodall during one of these trips!

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For more information on the Jane Goodall Collection by G Adventures please visit www.gadventures.com.

Fall Goals

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Fall is a great time to re-asses a lot of things in life including your health. Because fall is synonymous with change, it’s a great time to make a few adjustments or improvements in your life. It’s also a great time of year to set new goals.

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My main fitness goal this year was to run a half-marathon but unfortunately that goal will not become a realization due to some unforeseen circumstances. That said, I am not giving up on my goal. Instead, I am using these next few weeks to come up with a plan of action regarding how I can make this a reality in the next couple of months.

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Cross-training and building slowly will be key, so will doing some proper core strengthening exercises and making sure I eat right. Since I will be traveling for the next couple of months, these are all things that need to be implemented in my daily and weekly routine so that I can keep on track without having a regular schedule. Making my health and training my priority will be the only way that I can achieve this goal or any goal for that matter.

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I’ve found it incredibly inspiring these past couple of months to follow athletes on social media, read articles about goal-setting and also surrounding myself with positive people. All of these can aid with achieving a specific goal.

There’s no better time than now to look into new goals and start planning on how you’re going to make them happen. What goals are you setting for yourself this fall?

Photos by: @Offner

What I’m wearing: Hyba Fast Track Geometric Legging (get them here), Hyba Space Dye Low-Impact Sports Bra (get it here), Hyba Fitness Belt (similar one here).

This post was written in collaboration with Hyba but all opinions are my own.

How to Return to Running

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Because injuries while training or competing are quite common I wanted to get some tips from the super inspiring Coach Inge from the Nike+ Run Club in Toronto. She always has a super positive outlook on things and is a great motivator and excellent runner so I figured she would be a great person to get advice from on how to get back into running after being injured.

Coach Inge’s 3 things to remember:

  • Listen to your doctor. Listen to your chiropractor and follow what their recommendations.
  • Be patient after an injury. Since you haven’t been running, your mobility and those muscles have decreased. Cross-training is so important to do. If you can swim, swimming is great for cardio. That said, your body is pumping the blood horizontally whereas when you’re running the blood is pumping vertically. Swimmers and runners are both great endurance athletes but we need to make sure that the blood knows how to pump up so pool jogging is great because it’s lightweight.
  • Go back to basics. Come to sessions like Ready, Set, Go., where we’ll be watching your gait, because injuries can often cause muscle imbalances. Sessions like Ready, Set, Go, will allow us to watch you a little more carefully to make sure that you’re keeping everything equal on both sides.

Coach Inge’s goal setting post-injury:

  • Pick a race. Make sure that it’s at least 16 weeks away and get back to basics to build a base. The Nike+ Running app is great for getting you back into running. It has coaching levels that you can go through and pick where you are. Even if you don’t feel like a beginner it’s best to start back at the beginning so that it’s just not too much, too soon because you could risk getting injured again. Don’t increase distance more than 10-15% a week. Don’t compare yourself to others but focus on yourself because everyone has a different story. Use the community as fuel to rebuild.
  • Use the Nike+ Training app, look for some flexibility or mobility training workouts. Also, H.I.T. & Run workouts are great when you’re 100% better.
  • Be smart. Running is a lifelong thing, the races will always be there. So you can keep the same goals but just make sure that you ease back into it.

Thanks Coach Inge! I can’t wait to get cleared to hit the pavement again!

5 Things I’ll Miss Most About Toronto

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Photo by Cabello by Carolina

7 years ago this month, I moved to Toronto. In less than 3 weeks, I packed up my life and left everything behind to go find myself. And find myself did I ever! It was the best decision I’ve ever made. The past 7 years have been undoubtedly the BEST years of my life. I’ve learned so much and accomplished so much, I’m truly proud of how far I’ve come.

Two months ago, I decided to leave my full-time network television job after 5 seasons in pursuit of the next life adventure. I’ve always dreamed of spending several months traveling but those who work full-time jobs will know that these kinds of adventures are almost impossible to get when you’re working for someone else. So I decided to pursue this website endeavour full-time and also a few other creative projects (some of which will be revealed to you soon, can’t wait!!) in order to fulfill this dream of going on a great travel adventure. With travel comes uncertainty, risk, the unknown, lack of funds, etc. So my husband and I have decided to give up our apartment, put everything into storage and see where these travels take us. Because you never know what the future is made of, I’ve decided to write a little post today on some of the things I love most about the amazing city of Toronto. I know I will be back but knowing I will be away for a little while, I figured this would be an appropriate farewell for the next couple of months. I am forever grateful to the city of Toronto for the past 7 years and am excited about future adventures in the city in 2017! In the meantime, here are the 5 things I’ll miss most while I’m away!

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1) Parkdale – Ah Parkdale… I could write a novel about this neighbourhood. It’s with a lot of pride that I called Parkdale my home for the last four years. I LOVE Parkdale. It is a real example of a little tight-knit community in a big metropolitan city. You can stay just in Parkdale and find everything you need. Parkdale has character and personality. Parkdale is a little rough around the edges but it has charm. When I first moved, the area wasn’t so sought after but over the past couple of years, it has become one of the city’s hotbeds for new restaurants and bars, young entrepreneurs, artists and creatives that are pursuing their dreams in the big city. Through the years, I got to meet so many incredible people in the neighbourhood and lend a helping hand to those who are less fortunate. Parkdale residents look out for each other and help each other out. Some of the things I will miss most about the neighbourhood is The Abbott, the West End Food Coop, the Cadillac Lounge, Electric Mud BBQ, Grand Electric, Tempered Room, Public Butter, etc. No matter where I end up, Parkdale will always be a part of me. It made me fall even deeper in love with the city.

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Photo by Tobias Wang

2) The amazing fitness community – For the past two years, I’ve had the opportunity to really become acquainted with the amazing people in the fitness community in Toronto. Through my website, I was able to work out at some of the raddest gyms, studios, with some of the nicest and most supportive crews. Whether it would be the Nike Running Club, Nike Training Club, Spokehaus, Misfitstudio, Big Hit Studio, Academy of Lions, Black Toe Running, Greco Toronto, etc. all of these amazing crews all share their passion and love for sport and being active. Through being surrounded by such inspiring people on a weekly basis, it has helped me become the healthiest and best version of myself. It has inspired me to starting running races, lead a healthier lifestyle and take care of myself, something I had never really taken the time to do prior joining all these groups. What’s also amazing is that no matter the activity you want to do, there’s always someone that will be up for a cycle session, a run, a training session, etc. The women in the fitness community here in Toronto are all incredibly supportive and push you to accomplish goals you’d never thought possible. People like Nike Master Trainer Eva Redpath, Nike Running Club Coach Inge, Adidas Running Club coach Rejean Chiasson, are just some of the inspiring people that I’ve had the opportunity to learn from. They have taught me more than I would have ever thought. All the pacers, volunteers, race organizers, gym leaders, instructors, etc. in Toronto have all had a positive impact on my health and am so grateful to them all!

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3) The vegetarian food – Toronto is vegetarian and vegan heaven. When I first moved here I had high hopes, leaving a very meat-heavy city like Montreal, all I wanted to find was amazing vegan food and that I did! Some early favorites were Sadie’s Diner (RIP!), LIVE, Hogtown Vegan and Urban Herbivore. Now there’s also Doomie’s, Fresh, Kupfert & Kim, and the list goes on. Toronto knows their vegetarian and vegan food! Plus almost all restaurants in the city also offer delicious vegan or vegetarian options on their menus. I now definitely hold higher standards for vegan and vegetarian cuisine, thanks to Toronto’s topnotch restaurants. I definitely need to get my Toronto vegan fix before I leave on my adventures…

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4) The waterfront – I love nature and if it wasn’t for beautiful Lake Ontario located right at the foot of the city, I’m not sure if I would have loved Toronto as much. Luckily, I had the opportunity to live right by the waterfront for the past couple of years and it has allowed me to find peace and solitude in times when things in the city got a little too crazy. The vastness of Lake Ontario, the beautiful parks on the waterfront, the islands, etc. are all aspects of Toronto that I love the most. Running on the waterfront several times a week became my meditation, my getaway and a huge stress relief.

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Photo by Tobias Wang

5) Friends – When I moved to Toronto, I didn’t know anyone in the city. I moved on a whim, in less than 3 weeks, with a car packed with the few belongings that I owned. It’s one of the proudest moments of my life. A lot of people are afraid to just pick up and leave, to move away from familiarity, from friends and family. Though a little scary, I just couldn’t ignore the voice inside my head that told me I had to go. Though I was afraid that I would end up alone in this big new city, I was lucky to meet some of the most incredible people over the past 7 years here. Some people came and went but some of the friends I’ve made in the city have become family. Making friends seems easy as a kid or when you’re in school but when you become an adult, it’s always a little more challenging. Luckily, half of the people that reside in Toronto also come from somewhere else and therefore are open to making new friends. I’m so grateful to all those who have had such a positive impact on me in this city, who have inspired me and bettered me and no matter where I end up, I know we will always remain close. Thank you!

CaseApp

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I recently purchased a brand new laptop for all of the editing and freelance work I’ve been doing as of late and with a new laptop comes the need to get a new cover to protect it. I immediately thought of CaseApp, a super user friendly website that allows you to create your very own custom computer skins and phone cases.

They have skins available for iPads, MacBooks, iPhones, Samsungs, etc. and also hard cases for a variety of smartphones. You can either choose from a pre-made selection of prints, marble, tiling, etc. that you can modify or build yours from scratch very easily.

I decided to both make a personalized iPhone case and laptop skin, using some of my recent travel photography. I love personalization because not only is it unique, it’s also a great conversation starter and can even be a form of inspiration. For my laptop case, I chose a photo of one of my favorite surf spots in Southern California and for my iPhone case I picked a sunset photo of Kauai that I took on my trip last month. Both are great reminders of the things and places that make me happy and that evoke tranquility.

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If you also want to make your own custom CaseApp skin or case, make sure you use the code MELSAYS20 at check-out to obtain 20% off your purchase!