7.7.14

a weekend in kingston and prince edward county

In the spring, Geoff and I decided that we would spend this summer taking advantage of our car and taking as many weekend day trips around Ontario as we could, searching for things we hadn’t seen before, fresh air, and for new beaches! So I was thrilled when I got an email from a sweet woman named Carolynn who offered us a weekend away in Kingston, Ontario and Prince Edward County, in conjunction with Kingston Accommodation Partners. Kingston is a historic city a three hour drive away from Toronto with one of the highest number of restaurants per capita in all of Canada, and Prince Edward County is a part of the province that is quickly becoming known for its wineries and food. I had never been to either place before, so how could I turn down this proposition? Impossible. We were given first class VIA Rail tickets, which was a pretty wonderful experience, and joined a group of really lovely people from Ottawa, Toronto, and Montreal, all of whom love food and photography. Our first night we had dinner at Tango Nuevo in downtown Kingston, and laughed and chatted the hours away while nibbling on delicious tapas, and started filling Instagram with our #visitkingston hashtag.

The next morning we woke up in our waterfront hotel and walked through a farmers market to get to our diner breakfast (at Morrison’s) before a full day visiting wineries in the sunshine in Prince Edward County.






Our first stop was Hinterland Wine Company, which produces sparkling wines, where we met our host for the day, Alex Fida, who runs Angeline’s Inn in Bloomfield. Then off to Norman Hardie for more tastings and delicious pizza.



We visited three other wineries: Karlo Estates, Hubbs Creek, and The Old Third. I learned so much about wine that day, even though I haven’t been drinking much for the past year or so, and even though I only allowed myself a few sips. Everything was so tasty.

Eventually we found our way back to Hinterland where there was a food truck festival happening. Despite the multiple pizzas consumed at lunch, we were treated to some seafood from Buster’s Sea Cove.


Chuck photographs his tacos while Gabrielle relaxes; Zack, Kelly, Carolynn, and Francis at The Old Third




Once back in Kingston, we had some time to freshen up and explore, and share an ice cream at White Mountain (seriously consumed my weight in snax and dinners that weekend!). Downtown Kingston has some really beautiful architecture and it was so nice to walk along the water as well.





That evening we had an incredible seafood feast at Dianne’s. Some members of our group partied all night, but not us!


On Sunday Geoff and I woke up early to meet Ali and Francis for coffee and croissants from Pan Chancho. We also checked out the antiques market in the square and went for another waterfront walk.







After breakfast we didn’t have much time before we had to catch our train back to Toronto, and because some of our group had opted to take later trains home, they were able to go sailing later that day (lucky!). We were given the opportunity to rent bikes, which we rode to check out the Queen’s University campus and other parts of town we hadn’t seen. The weather was glorious and we were on a high from such a fun, food-filled, lovely weekend.

Thanks, Carolynn, and thanks, Kingston! We will definitely be back!

19.6.14

my latest beauty essentials


As I mentioned in my post about Fresh Faced, I have become increasingly more interested in replacing my beauty products with healthier alternatives. I’ve stuck with natural deodorants since last fall (to be honest, I had moments where I was sure I would go back to antiperspirant!), which was a good start, and my visit with Julie from Province Apothecary certainly helped. In the past few months I’ve whittled down my routine to a few basics, and a few multi-purpose products, and here are the ones that are working well for me at the moment. It’s not perfect and I still have a few products I need to find. For example, a healthier foundation would be great, since I use foundation/tinted moisturizer every day (I’m currently using one from Bourjois). I really don’t mind that my choices look more like the inside of a health food store basket than a fancy department store one.


Aura Cacia Sweet Almond Oil: I’ve been using the oil-cleansing method to get makeup off, and it has been working well for me. I rinse my face with warm water, rub some oil gently for a few moments, then wipe off with a clean washcloth. When I’m feeling lazy I use a Desert Essence cleanser that works well, but I think the oil gets out more city grime and whatnot.

Heritage Products Rosewater & Glycerin: I’ve been using this for a long time now. It’s great in summer to refresh your skin & help you cool down, but I also use it as a toner. It smells so good.

Elovi Body Butter: I was sent this body butter to try out (thanks, Elovi!) and honestly, it is so good. I’ve never really cared for body butters, but this one absorbs quickly, has a delicate, pleasant smell, and only six ingredients. I’ve been using it as a multi-purpose balm, including putting it on the areas that I’m having laser tattoo removal on! The ingredients are really nourishing and massaging it in helps with blood circulation to make them heal faster.

Pai Rosehip Oil: I received this as part of a gift bag at the Green + Good event, and I’ve been trying to remember to apply it before bed. I haven’t been super consistent with it yet, because I’m pretty forgetful about applying things to my face in the evening. But I feel really good about it and I always wake up with softer skin when I do use it.

Graydon Sun Cream: This also came from the gift bag, and I was stoked to get it! I use this every morning in between my moisturizer/serum and my makeup, and it’s worked really well. I’m pretty paranoid about getting too much sun on my face, but luckily I have a good collection of hats to use in conjunction with sunscreens. Plus I like that this one isn’t full of scary ingredients and is made in Canada.

Ilia lipstick: Neon Angel is my daily lipstick lately. It’s bright, but not alarmingly so (I like a bold lip). It’s matte, which I like, and has decent staying power. One of the few lipsticks I’ve been reaching for lately.

Leaves of Tress Argan Oil: I am so lazy when it comes to my hair, especially lately, since I cannot win any battles against humidity. I wash it every few days (I just use whatever looks okay and is on sale at the health food store—currently a Giovanni shampoo), and sometimes I’ll just air dry it and let it do it’s thing, or once in a while I’ll straighten it. I’ve tried lots of different products for frizz and heat protection but mostly I don’t notice much of a difference, other than the fact that my hair gets gunked up faster. I’ll usually just run a tiny amount of argan oil through at the tips (I used to use the OLO hair tonic but I dropped it on the bathroom floor, tragically). I like to try conditioning masks with food or coconut oil once in a while, so if you know of any good ones, let me know!

Lulu Organics Hair Powder: Ive had the Patchouli & Amber powder for ages now and I really only use it in emergency situations for a little freshening up. I love the smell.

Province Apothecary Facial Serum and Lip Balm: I am an unabashed fan of Province Apothecary and would own all of the products if I could. Julie gave me a custom serum in early January in exchange for something I did for her, and I used it as a moisturizer until it ran out last week. I think it really saved my skin over the winter because I never had any dryness or really any trouble. Now that it’s basically summer I’ve switched to her moisturizer, which I picked up at The Detox Market. It’s only been a few days but so far so good (I think you have to use a product for a few weeks to get a real feel for it!). And her lip balm is my current favourite, really silky and long-lasting.

Bergamot essential oil: For Christmas Geoff gave me an aromatherapy diffuser and I’ve enjoyed learning about different oils and their effects. Most of the time I use lavender only, since it’s so calming, but I also use bergamot quite a bit—it’s a little more energizing and good for low moods. I got this one at Dynasty.

Chakra by Nova: I ordered a sample of this and wore it on our trip to Lisbon. Ever since then it’s reminded me of Lisbon, which I love. It has that perfect combination of musk & floral that makes my nose so happy.

Lovefresh Natural Cream Deodorant in Moroccan Rose Absolute: Okay, I have found the one! This is my absolute favourite natural deodorant. I liked many of the ones that I wrote about in my deodorant post, but if I were to revise that post, this one would be my top pick. It smells lovely, it is easy to apply (I’ve gotten used to applying deodorant with my fingers), and the company is local. I transferred a little of the cream to a small container to carry it around with me, but I don’t often have to reapply throughout the day (except on the muggiest days, of course).


I’d love to hear about your favourite beauty products, particularly those that happen to be organic & all-natural!

12.6.14

kickstarting spring

*This is a sponsored post.

Advertisement One Friday back in April, Geoff and I decided to take the ferry over to the Toronto Islands for a picnic. It happened to be a bit chilly and overcast that day, and the trees were still bare, but there was a festive spirit in the air as the ferry was filled with children on their way to an Easter egg hunt at Centreville. We are all very determined to finally get this spring underway after the longest winter in years!




We rented Bike Share bikes because ours weren’t quite in riding shape yet. They were great, although they ended up being a little pricey (I thought it was only $7 to rent for 24 hours, but that fee only comes with 30 minutes of riding time... additional time leads to additional charges! Not the best option for a leisurely ride). The bikes are pretty heavy but ride smoothly, and I like that all the chains are covered so I didn’t have to worry about my long dress getting caught. I brought my helmet with me and strapped a picnic blanket down to the front. Perfect!



I cannot wait until the islands are covered in green, although maybe they are by now! Looking forward to a swan boat ride soon.


Houseboat!


At least my helmet provided some colour that day.


We settled for our picnic (on the picnic blanket I made last year) on Ward’s Island, a spot I like very much because it provides a stunning view of the skyline. Glass for days. We packed fresh, giant salads from Urban Herbivore, organic strawberries, guacamole and chips, and ONE Coconut Water. Even if the sun wasn’t blazing down on us, we know it’s important to stay hydrated, and since ONE Coconut Water is all-natural and contains naturally occurring electrolytes, with no added sugar or strange ingredients, we thought it was a better choice than water.



We were actually able to pack everything up and finish it off at home for dinner. I always overestimate how much food I will want to eat on a picnic! It always turns into a bit of a feast. ONE Coconut Water contains only 45 calories per serving, though, so we didn’t have to worry too much about drinking all our calories. More room for guacamole!


Delicious. This coconut water is packaged at the source so even if we are pretty far from the tropics, we were able bring a little tropical flavour with us.




Looking forward to the next picnic, which will, I hope, be accompanied by some sun.











This post is in partnership with ONE Coconut Water. All words and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep this blog going.

11.6.14

fp movement: what moves me


Recently Free People expanded their lifestyle & workout wear line, FP Movement, to include three new categories: ballet, yoga, and surf. I was so excited about this because I’ve never been particularly drawn to activewear and have always just worn old sweatpants and tshirts to the gym, but knew the Free People aesthetic would lend itself to pretty clothing for sweating in.

What moves you? What moves me is the desire to sweat a little bit every day, to thank my body for all the work it does for me. What moves me is the desire to connect with my body in a way that makes me feel a little more fluid, and a little stronger every time. A day in which I have found the time to move is always a good day.

A few years ago I broke my ankle. I slipped on a nasty patch of ice and my bones snapped like twigs. I acquired long pins in my ankle to make up for torn ligaments, and had to keep off my ankle for three months. I hopped around on one foot with crutches (if you want a tough cardio workout, try that!), and crawled up stairs on my knees. By the end of those three months my shoulder and knee pain was so bad that I spent more time crying than not crying. It was no fun. It took a long time and months of physiotherapy to get to a point where I could run around the block. Once I was able to go for longer runs, I was so grateful for what my body could do, and I felt lucky to have the ability to resume my normal routine. Even if to this day I have an ankle that hurts when it rains and swells to a fine cankle width. When you can no longer move much, movement is the thing you crave most. I might not be an athlete, but I sure am happy with what I can do.


Lately my favourite workout besides yoga has been Ballet Beautiful, probably because things have been a little ballet-heavy for me lately, as you can see from my recent posts. I love putting these on in the privacy of my own home where no one can see me—they help me connect to a feeling of gracefulness that ordinarily escapes me (and safely, I might add! These are ballet-inspired, not workouts for advanced ballerinas). Pictured here are the classic DVDs from a few years ago but I’ve since tried this newer one and it’s my favourite since it uses small hand weights.


I couldn’t wait to try out these embellished Capezio slippers because they remind me of the Capezio slippers I wore when I took ballet lessons when I was 7. I still remember going to Malabar to buy them; I loved those slippers and kept them for years, even after I decided ballet lessons were not for me. Here I am wearing them with the Remi leggings—so comfortable! They’re a bit slouchy on me, which makes me feel like I’m wearing legwarmers (which I love). I always enjoy stirrup style leggings as well, although I know they should have gone over the slippers (that’s probably why I never made it as a dancer). I wore them on a run and I’ve done yoga in them, and they’ve worked really well.*


Leggings & slippers with a cropped peach sweatshirt: much better than my old gym clothes.


I took these pictures when the lily of the valley was in full bloom. Ballet and lily of the valley are a wonderful pairing!

*Slippers and leggings courtesy Free People

9.6.14

botanical weekend

Last weekend was basically what you get when two earth signs (Taurus & Capricorn) get married. I had an appointment in Burlington, so Geoff and I decided to finally visit the Royal Botanical Gardens, which we had been meaning to do for ages. First we stopped in at Son of a Peach for a delicious wild mushroom pizza, then drove over to the Arboretum part of the gardens, as the lilac dell there was in full bloom. I think the lilacs were not as lush this year, possibly because of the cold winter, and they were a little sparse in spots, but they still smelled incredible. I had never seen so many different varieties growing so close to each other so I loved compared all the different colours and shapes and scents as I drifted from lilac to lilac.

These photos are a little overblown with glorious sunshine but all this warm weather and bright light still feels like such a novelty—some of us were convinced they would never get here.






After the lilacs, we went over to the RBG Centre to enjoy the Mediterranean greenhouse & cacti and succulent collection. More incredible smells of eucalyptus, olive, bottle brush, lavender. I was in my own personal version of heaven.












The next time we go we’ll need to give ourselves more than just a couple of hours because the RBG is huge and there is so much to explore!

The next morning we headed over to Allan Gardens for the Toronto Cactus and Succulent Club’s annual show and sale. In the past few years Geoff has gotten back in to collecting plants (his interest took a bit of a hit once we started living with cats, but they’re not as interested in our plants anymore, and we have southern exposure to take advantage of), and he found out about the sale while researching where one can find cacti that are a little more unusual than the ones we typically find in plant stores here. It was a fun event! It was busy and some of the tables were cleared out within the first hour, so we were glad we showed up early. I’ve never been particularly interested in collecting succulents or cacti myself (beyond thinking they were cool to have around, but not actively looking for them), but I found two that had flowers, which I loved. Geoff picked out a copper spoons & a crinkle leaf succulent. Once again, I overheard a discussion about how the cold winter lead to some members losing some of their plants, so fingers crossed that next year’s event is even better.