I'll Follow You Anywhere

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I’ll admit, in the past when I heard the word “baby moon” I couldn’t help but cringe – it seemed like an indulgence reserved only for super privileged pregnant couples, and I never really saw it being a priority for me personally. Don’t people have better things to do when planning to bring a new human into this world?!

The thing is, now that I’m here with three months to left in my pregnancy and a constantly growing belly that has me just a bit off-balance at all times, I get what all the fuss is about. Being pregnant is such an incredible feeling, but it can also feel like your losing your whole body (and existence) to a tiny human living under your skin. I have really struggled with my newfound limitations body-wise, and travelling in the second trimester before I got too big to even sit in a car comfortably for half an hour (I’m getting there) ended up being really important to me. If you’re craving some time out of town, why not take a trip while you’re still feeling up to it?

I also think it’s really necessary to celebrate. To celebrate your incredible body, the massive shift in life seasons, to honour your past and let yourself have one last vacation that’s free of child-related worries before the future arrives. I went from chuckling to myself about the concept of baby moons to insisting it was something I needed to do almost as soon as I got pregnant. Yes, travel with babies and kids is totally possible and can be an amazing experience, but it’s still not the same as taking a trip on your own or with a loved one.

In the end, I planned two pre-baby escapes for good measure – a long haul adventure to Hawaii with my bff Bianca (post on that coming soon!) and a smaller, local trip to PEC right here in Ontario with my little sister. What these two trips taught me: It doesn’t matter how far you go, just that you allow yourself to go at all. I actually enjoyed being closer to home for a shorter trip more with how pregnant I’ve been feeling lately, and I can’t stress enough how important it was to me to give myself a special window of time like this to celebrate, close off the past, and look forward to the future. Whether you’re hopping a plane to an exotic island or just planning a staycation at home in your own city, give yourself (and perhaps someone you love dearly) this special moment to pause and reflect. After all, moments like these will never exist in quite the same way again after you officially become a mom.

Why PEC //

Prince Edward County is a wine lover’s paradise, but this will be me second trip there without drinking and in my books it’s just as good either way!

The county can be overcrowded in the Summer months, so I actually prefer to go up in the autumn – the leaves are breathtakingly beautiful on the drive between towns, harvest season yields all sorts of delicious local goodies, and sweater weather has never felt quite so cozy. It’s also a short distance from Toronto, so it’s not too big a commitment travel-wise if you’re based in Ontario.

Where to Stay //

I’ve stayed in multiple spots all over the county but this trip we went with The Drake Devonshire, a small boutique hotel complete with a lakefront view and amazing restaurant (I recommend the brunch!) When we checked in there were hot cookies waiting beside the bed and we were told how to dial pints of ice cream up to our room if needed, so yeah, basically a pregnant person’s dream come true!

How to Get There //

A short 2.5 hour drive from the city, travel by car is really the best way to get to the county, and once you arrive up there I find driving from town to town on the beautiful country roads is one of my favourite parts of the landscape. We were lucky enough to borrow a Porsche Panamera hybrid for our trip, and it was SUCH a fun (and eco friendly) way to see the sights.

A few of my favourite pastel places //

Bloomfield Beauty Co. // Where do I even start with this incredible spot? Located in Bloomfield as the name suggests, this spa escape is seriously heaven on earth. Owned by two talented sisters, you can get everything from massages to pedicures, all served with a side of tea (or bubbly if you prefer!) We spent an entire afternoon there and still didn’t want to leave!
BluBoho // My favourite Toronto jewelry shop now has an outpost in PEC and it’s gorgeous.
Hinterland Winery // The best bubbly in the province! I grabbed a bottle to pop after baby Garrison joins us in the new year.
County Collective // This spot is SO cute, just make sure you check their Instagram before heading over as they’re often closed off-season.
Fete beach // Located in the same Bloomfield building as County Collective and BluBoho, this gorgeous shop is another must-see on the tour of pretty pastel places!
County Yum Club // On top of seasonal goodies this roadside restaurant serves vegan corn dogs. Need I say more?
Grange Winery // This place makes incredible wine and cider with the prettiest designs, but they also serve local craft soda so you have something to sip while your non-pregnant companions get tipsy wine tasting.
Slickers Ice Cream // You have to try the burnt marshmallow here, and don’t worry, the Picton location stays open all year round!
Coriander Girl // Another Toronto export, this space is shared with county apothecary brand Sunday’s Company, and their shop together is absolutely gorgeous, filled with plants, dry brushes, skincare and more. I highly recommend taking a locally-sourced bouquet home with you on your last day!
The Vic // Did someone say golden milk latte? This coffee shop in downtown Picton has amazing baked goods and lots of caffeine-free hot bevvie options if that’s your thing (they have real caffeinated tea and coffee too, don’t panic!)
Kinsip Spirits // Fun fact – you can get a shot of whisky infused maple syrup instead of spirits and it’s absolutely delicious + totally booze free!

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Special thanks to The Drake Devonshire, Porsche Canada and Bloomfield Beauty Co. for making this trip so magical

I'll Follow You Anywhere

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Antigua is a small island, and before I was invited to visit I can’t say I would have been able to point it out on a map. Famous for their massive annual sailing regatta and coral reefs, this beautiful Caribbean gem is the home of 365 beaches – literally a different one for each day of the year!

Caribbean travel is often considered to be a luxury market, out of reach for the average 20-something, which is why I was so thrilled to find out about Starfish Jolly Beach Resort.

Starfish Jolly Beach is a beautiful all inclusive with an expansive beach just steps away from your room and prices are really reasonable to boot. There are 4 on-site restaurants, bars around every corner, huge pools, and SO many pastel spots! If you’re looking for a vacation with a bustling urban city to explore Antigua likely isn’t for you, but if you’re hoping to relax on a beach and get some sun? Well, there are 365 beaches waiting for you and it’s almost always sunny (seriously).

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My days at the resort were filled with flowers, piña coladas and maybe the best massage of my life – we even went out sailing but sadly we missed the lessons. I was travelling with a handful of awesome girls and the resort welcomed us the first evening with a stunning dinner setup right on the beach. It actually felt like a honeymoon moment and if you’re travelling with a partner I highly suggest this romantic addition to your stay!

Outside the resort we took a Nexus tour, which usually isn’t my travel style (I like to live like a local whenever I can) but I had SO much fun! We went off-roading in an open jeep all over the island, then boarded a massive catamaran for snorkelling with an open bar and local fare to follow. That boat was one of the best days of my 2018 year so far – we danced our butts off, we jumped off the bow (port bow?) and the crew even created a special drink for only our group (some sort of sunrise rum punch magic that was VERY strong). If you’re interested, it was this tour option!

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Other than the tour there wasn’t a lot going on outside the resort with Antigua being such a small place, but we did take a walk to the grocery store just outside the Jolly Beach gates and stock up on Antiguan essentials like Susie’s Hot Sauce (hot tip – it’s way cheaper at the grocery store than a tourist shop!) I’ve also heard rumours of a donkey sanctuary and Stingray City where you can swim with the rays, but sadly we ran out of time.

My overall review? I loved everything about this trip, from the awesome group of girls I got to spend my days with to the crazy cute mint green wicker furniture in our hotel rooms at Starfish Jolly Beach. If you’re looking for an affordable stop in the sun with no worries in the world, this is your spot. Just don’t forget your sunscreen!

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Dress Up

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It’s hard to believe my trip to Cuba was less than a month ago – With all of the devastation in that area of the world right now it feels like a universe away. My heart is with the pastel island I fell so in love with a few weeks ago, and everyone else being affected by seemingly endless natural disasters this season. Please join me in sending good vibes and donations if you’re able (there’s a helpful list of where to donate here.)

Though we had a minor tropical storm during our stay at Memories Resort Jibocoa, we were lucky to spend most of the time baking in the hot sun and humidity with no rain or wind in sight. It’s been awhile and I’ve already shared a lot about my trip here and here, but I wanted to publish this one last photo set featuring my dreamy white dress from Privacy Please. Shot amongst palms and pink resort buildings with kelly green doors, I paired this piece with mules, with a cute converitble bag by Poppies and Peonies + the cutest glittery tropical nail art from Her Majesty’s Pleasure – it was the perfect vacation look for the perfect vacation.

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I'll Follow You Anywhere

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It’s hard to know where to start when writing up my guide for Cuba. To start, there was so much pastel everywhere that I can hardly call my time there “pastel hunting” – the entire island is a rainbow of milky shades!

I did a horrible job of researching before our trip (in my defence, it was fairly last-minute), so unlike my usual travel habits, I landed in Cuba almost entirely unprepared. In retrospect I definitely should’ve packed some allergy medication and bug spray, brushed up on my Spanish skills etc. but there was something exciting about not having it all figured it out.

Though our trip was short and not properly scheduled, we managed to do so much between the resort and Havana!

We stayed in Memories Jibocoa Resort an hour outside Havana, and split our time between the two. At the resort we indulged in massages at the on-site spa, sipped endless pina coladas by the beach, swam in the pool under moonlight and frequented the 24-hour deli for late-night grilled cheese sandwiches. On Fridays there is a Cuban party on the beach complete with fresh cut coconuts, cocktails served in pineapple and a killer live band, so make sure you check that out if you’re around! A catamaran tour complete with snorkelling at the reef is also not to be missed – who knew flying fish actually fly?! If you feel like getting a bit wild, you also have to visit the piano bar, where singing along is a must (don’t worry, if you order the “fire drink” you won’t be shy for long!)

When it comes to our time in Havana, I’m just going to list all of the things we loved most below. The city was so alive, it was almost overwhelming, but with the help of our amazing driver we were able to cover a lot of ground in a super short time.

In Havana //

Eat at Paladar Los Mercaderes
Drink at La Guarida
Dance with Daiquiris at El Floridita
Explore at Fabrica De Arte
Stock up on snacks at the fruit stands
Walk along the Malecón seawall
Hire a colourful vintage taxi for a tour
Shop for cigars at Morro Castle

Keep scrolling for our travel tips and so many photos!

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A few general travel tips:

*Take out Canadian cash and exchange it into the convertible peso (for tourists) at the hotel when you arrive. There is no way to get this currency outside of Cuba, and when you’re heading back you can have any leftover cash changed back to Canadian at the airport.

*Learn as much Spanish as you can, even if it’s just the basics.

*If you’re vegan, bring along a lot of protein bars and other filling, nutrient dense snacks. We love Luna Bar in Lemon Zest . Being pescetarian is super easy, and vegetarian isn’t bad either, but if you’re vegan you’ll likely be living off of just fruit and bread the entire trip. Also if you’re vegetarian watch out for meat products in unexpected dishes, like rice and beans!

*Plan to disconnect as much as possible. Wifi is few and far between, and buying internet time can get pricey – but who wants to be on their phone anyway in such a beautiful place? A portable charger is always a must in our packing routine.

*If you can, plan to bring along some extra clothing and household goods, like toothbrushes, condoms, tampons/pads and baby products. These items are expensive and hard to come by in Cuba, and in my personal experience leaving them with locals can be a great way to say thank you.

*Bring insect repellent , sun screen , basic first aid items, and do NOT forget any prescription meds! Again, very hard to come by.

Additional resources: Margo & Me has a super helpful guide on her site for American travellers!

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An extra special thank you to Siren Communications and Memories Resorts, plus everyone else who made this amazing vacation happen!

Dress Up

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For those of you who have been following me since the beginning, you probably have a sense of how much I love birthdays. I tend to go really over the top, planning days of celebration and adventures and splurging on the perfect princess dress. It’s been the same since I can remember, and I was always insistent I would never grow out of it.

But this year I decided to do things a bit differently.

My 26 was odd to say the least – I went through massive changes and when I compare this month last year to the present it’s almost unrecognizable. I’m living somewhere new, business is booming, I’ve travelled almost nonstop, lost so many friends and somehow gained even more. I’ve learned how to be happier single than I’ve ever been in my life, and, well, learned how to be single in general. Instead of throwing a massive party, dragging all my pals to a theme park or making an absurd dinner reservation, I decided to ring in 27 with a trip somewhere totally new, setting the stage for a fresh start and a year filled with even more exploration and forward momentum than the last.

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With almost no planning my good friend Dani and I somehow ended up on a plane to Cuba on the eve of my 27the birthday. We landed late at night, and the lack of streetlights made everything but the sticky heat impossible to decipher. We checked into Memories Jibocoa, our home for the weekend, and it suffices to say from that second on every moment following was pure pastel-tinted heaven.

I’ll be sharing so much more about Cuba, including my Havana city guide, resort details, scuba diving expeditions and more in the coming posts, but let’s get back to the birthday theme as that’s what this particular bit is all about. Instead of my usual princess plans, I spent my day exploring the bustling streets of Havana, sipping daiquiris at Hemingway’s favourite bar and swimming under the stars. Instead of splurging on tulle and sequins, I went for a timeless summer citrus dress from For Love and lemons and traded a sparkly clutch and disco platforms for a backpack and walkable mules.

What does it all mean?!?

Maybe I’m overanalyzing, but turning 27 not only looked different than all the years that came before, but felt different too. Though in a lot of ways I “had less”, namely a partner to shower me with attention, I found myself more content than I thought possible without a great love in my life. There was a lightness to my 27th birthday; less pressure, and for the first time in years no tears of disappointment or irrational arguments. I literally smiled all day long.

I’ve honestly been dreading turning 27 since my last birthday, resentful to find myself in my late 20s with no wedding in the works or family of my own on the way… I know, I know, I’m still young, but 27 was my goal age for starting a family and I’m *very* goal oriented! To my surprise, 27 may have been my absolute best birthday ever, despite looking different than I expected and I’m heading into this year happily single, full of inspiration and ready to push myself to only get better with age. If this is how growing up feels, maybe it isn’t so bad after all?

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