I'll Follow You Anywhere

When I envisioned Summer’s early years, I always pictured lots of travel. She’d grow up on sandy beaches and knee-deep in snow, forever chasing a new adventure while eating whatever food was available without complaint. I had high expectations for a highly adaptable kid, and I was going to get as many flights in as I could before she turned 2 and trips became double the price.

And then 2020 threw us all a massive, coronavirus-shaped curveball, and my globetrotting toddler fantasies evaporated.

It’s been 3 years since Summer was born, and aside from a few flights from Toronto to Vancouver and back as a newborn to see family, we haven’t ever taken a proper vacation together (like so many families these past few years!) When we booked this Garrison family Disneyland trip in the early Autumn (a tradition from our own childhood that I have been so eager to pass on to Summer) we were convinced COVID was only going to get better. As cases grew we became less and less confident in our decision. I already had one “Summer’s first Disney trip” cancelled in March 2020, and by the time the holidays rolled around this past year, I had resigned myself to another cancellation.

And then, after spending Christmas Day together, one by one my entire family tested positive. With the worst having already happened, and our chances of contracting or spreading the virus again so low, we decided to move forward with the trip after all. And gosh, what a trip it was!

Taking Summer to the Happiest Place on Earth (for me that means a both California itself, and Disneyland within it) was nothing short of a dream come true. All of the magic that I’d been so lucky to experience in my childhood came to life all over again seeing it through her eyes. All of that said, there were quite a few things that were different due to travelling with toddler in COVID times, and I wanted to share some of the tips and tricks we picked up along the way:

Travel Tips

Personally I find travelling with a kid Summer’s age fairly fun, and a lot less stressful than the unpredictable baby on a plane phase. Summer was so excited to fly, and she did incredibly well on our flights. Some simple things that helped were:

  • Choosing a flight time where she was well rested. Summer does NOT nap on the go anymore, so we try to plan travel around nap time vs. inclusive of nap time. Our flight down was first thing in the morning and couldn’t have been easier – we just ran around the airport before boarding to burn some energy, and then she sat and watched a movie almost the entire time without moving. The flight back we flew late afternoon when she usually naps, expecting she’d pass out from exhaustion after 4 days of swimming, sunshine and Disneyland. Unfortunately she did not sleep, and ended up begging to get off the plane and into her bed by the end of it. Lesson learned!
  • Packing new and exciting snacks is a great way to keep your kid occupied on the plane once they get sick of watching movies / screens. Raisins, fun granola bars, cheese strings and fruit roll ups are a couple of our travel favourites, plus a lollipop for emergency meltdown moments (they keep Summer busy for the longest time!)
  • Packing a few “gifts” is a toddler travel tip passed down from a dear friend of mine, and it really works. Basically the trick is, wrap up (or just pack up) a few exciting new toys, like little books or trinkets from the dollar store. It doesn’t have to be a big investment – mostly it’s about giving them something NEW. When Summer is getting testy / bored on a flight, this has been a surefire way to calm her down and gain more calm time.
  • I can’t offer a super helpful take on travelling during COVID times – because we had tested positive so close to our trip, and had passed the 14 day recover time, we were not required to test on either side of the border. The rules on this are constantly changing, so I recommend checking both the Canada website and the website for the country you are travelling to, bu at the time we flew, we needed a positive test result and doctor’s note confirming we had recovered.

Disney Tips

For those who don’t know, I’m a Disneyland fanatic. As in, I have the castle tattooed on my body and I have been to the parks 25 times so far (I’m turning 32, if that puts it into perspective). Taking my own child to experience the magic has always been on my bucket list, so making this trip happen was a BIG deal.

  • Plan for breaks! This was a major learning curve for me, because I like to do Disney all day with no resting whatsoever (fyi my feet STILL hurt from this trip weeks later). Summer still naps, so late afternoon she crashed pretty hard and refused to sleep in the stroller. It was really helpful to travel with the grandparents because they were more than happy to take Summer back to our hotel room for a break while my sister and I rode as many adult rides as we could fit in. If you’re traveling solo and taking turns isn’t an option, I’d recommend taking an extra day in Disneyland (there are a lot more rides for toddlers in Disneyland park vs. California Adventure Park) so you don’t feel too rushed trying to get to everything when your kid is exhausted. 
  • Make sure you pack masks for your kiddos, as they do need them for some of the indoor rides if they’re ages 2 and up (this may change, but for now it’s quite seriously enforced at the park)
  • Do your shopping outside the park to avoid wasting time once you’re through the gates. Almost every store on the Disneyland property stocks the same items, save for a few specialty shops, so I recommend hitting up Downtown Disney in the evenings after the park is closed (World of Disney has the most choice anyway!) I found it particularly hard to find clothing in sizes for toddlers this time around, especially matching stuff with adult sizing, but the Disneyland hotel gift shop was actually a hidden gem full of kids sizes and styles I didn’t see anywhere else. 
  • We stayed at the Disneyland Hotel this time around because it was such a special trip for us all (and it’s nice to be “in the magic” at all times with kiddos) but honestly, I wouldn’t recommend it right now. A lot of the perks that come with the price were on hold, such as early park entry for hotel guests, and a lot of the services were really lacking (we had cold water for showers most mornings!) In the future, we’ll likely save money staying at a nearby offsite hotel, but we did really love the Disneyland hotel pool, so no regrets!
  • Overall, if you are a big Disneyland fan like me, I’d suggest lowering your expectations for a visit right now. Unfortunately it felt like so much of the experience has been impacted by budget cuts and staffing issues. We had quite a few extremely negative encounters with “cast members”, many of the shows weren’t running, and a lot of the special little details from past visits were missing. Despite the changes, remember to be kind! Everyone is doing their best with the current situation, and kindness goes a long way, especially at The Happiest Place on Earth!
A Pastel Home

As previously mentioned, decorating kid’s room is by far my favourite type of styling (like, can this be my full time job down the line please?)

In this line of work, and as a mom in general, it’s easy to get sucked into buying all new everything all the time, especially after a move, but I’ve really enjoyed challenging myself to make each of Summer’s spaces so far feel different, without breaking the bank on a whole new set of furniture.

There wasn’t much I could do as far as customization in Summer’s old room because we were in a brand new condo, so when I relocated to our current older home, I was eager to add some really special touches here. I didn’t go with a theme, instead I wanted to make the decor about all of Summer’s favourite things: cats, berries, birds, rainbows, and pink! It all started with Chasing Paper’s Smitten Kitten Wallpaper – possibly the cutest wallpaper pattern I’ve ever come across, and it comes in either traditional wallpaper, or peel and stick if you’re renting and need something less permanent!

The strawberry curtains (currently out of stock) were also an awesome find that helped shape the space early on. I haven’t ever really worried about window treatments in my past homes, but this time around I’m really loving the way a beautiful curtain rod with a patterned or coloured curtain can change the feel of a space. Plus it’s easy to take them down and bring them with you next time you move.

I kept Summer’s old rug, rocking chair, the bench from my childhood room that I repainted last summer, and our beloved gold crib from Babyletto, but with the toddler bar conversion kit, which instantly turned this heirloom piece of furniture into a safe and beautiful big girl bed. I added new bedding from Crate and Kids, a canopy from Sorens House, and a swan soaring overhead in place of a mobile, a combination that makes Summer’s sleeping experience feel whimsical and new without fully replacing her crib with a bed. I

I also wanted to keep the book wall that I have re-created in each of Summer’s rooms with IKEA picture ledges, but this time it felt important to include a smaller, accessible bookshelf in the space so she can pick out and read her favourite books. I went with the Babyletto Tally Book Case from West Coast Kids, a gorgeous piece that both works in the space and looks amazing too.

And of course it wouldn’t be an RAOP rental redesign without switching out a light fixture! Originally I tried re-using the IKEA light from Summer’s old room, but it felt much too small this time around, so I invested in a gorgeous flush mount I’ve been eyeing from Mitzi and I plan to re-use the IKEA one in the hallway (if I can ever sort out what breaker that light is on…)

With so many delightful little touches, this room is the happiest place in the house, and I can’t wait to watch it change and grow as Summer grows too!

Keep scrolling for more photos, and source / shopping links

Shopping Links //

Cat Wallpaper by Chasing Paper

Crib by Babyletto with Toddler Bed add on (available for order in Canada through West Coast Kids)

Canopy from Sorens House

Bedding from Crate and Kids

Rocker by Nursery Works

Quilt from Crate and Kids (on sale!)

Swan Ceiling Decor from Freddie and Birdie Co.

Rug from Lorena Canalis

Tally Bookcase by Babyletto

Leather pouf from Mashi Moosh (similar on sale here)

Lydia Flushmount light fixture from Mitzi

Swing shelf from Winter and Vine (no longer available, similar here)

Gold curtain rod from Crate and Kids

Art by Selena Wong

Strawberry curtains from H&M

Mini piano from West Coast kids

Coffee maker from Sorens House

Custom name puzzle from Busy Puzzle

Toy Bench from my childhood (similar here)

Most books from Collage Collage

A Pastel Home

One of my favourite spaces in this apartment from the first walk through was the kitchen: with tons of space, simple white cabinets, peach-tinted floor tile, a woodblock island and cream countertops, it had all the makings of perfect pastel room, without the need for a big renovation like I did in my rental #heaveninhighpark.

It only took a few simple, renter-friendly swaps to totally transform this room. First, we took four of the cabinet doors off to create a bit of open shelving, and painted the inside with an accent colour. I started out using some old blush paint I had leftover from a furniture painting DIY awhile back, but in the end I switched to October Mist CC-550, the Benjamin Moore 2022 Colour of the Year (you can see more about that mini project here!)

Next, we swapped out the HORRIBLE massive fluorescent light fixture that came with the apartment, for a simple white pendant light, which made a huge difference in updating the room. Swapping out the cabinet knobs to these super affordable gold ones was also a quick but transformative step, and for the “wine hutch” as I fondly call it, I opted for some fun pink shell knobs to mix up the look.

Last but not least, we swapped out the old faucet for a white one, which I really only did because the old faucet was so gross and barely working (definitely not a necessary expense if you’re renting!)

Eventually I’d like to look into replacing the sink and faucet for something with a bit more impact, and maybe investing in a vintage-style SMEG fridge, but for now I’m so thrilled with the warm, cozy feeling this kitchen provides every time I walk into the room to prepare a meal or a pot of tea. Plus, everything I have done was low cost and easy to reverse, while still making a big impact!

To see more, check out the reel here.

Shopping Links //

Dinnerware, serving tray, serving bowl and linen napkins/tablecloth by Fable

Always Pan by Our Place

Glassware by Anthropologie

Cream faucet from Lowe’s

Tea Towels and candles by Homecoming

Pink shell drawer pulls (on hutch) from Etsy

Gold drawer knobs from Wayfair

Light fixture from IKEA

I'll Follow You Anywhere

I lived in Toronto for almost 12 years, which means I likely know it better than I know my own hometown of Vancouver! I’ve been planning to get back for a visit as soon as it felt safe to do so since I made the decision to relocate back to the West Coast in March 2020, and after what felt like forever, we finally made it happen this last month.

I went into this visit with a list of my old standby favourites to revisit, but what I didn’t expect was how many awesome new businesses have popped up all around the neighbourhoods I once called home. Plus, I had the new perspective of seeing The Big Smoke through a toddler’s eyes – because we made our move while Summer was still a baby, it was a completely new experience to explore with her now. Some things, like public transit, were more complicated and than I had anticipated, while others, like hanging out at my favourite brewery, were more kid-friendly than I could have known!

In all the years I called Toronto home, I featured a lot of local businesses, but I never put together a proper city guide. So here it is, a pastel (family friendly!) guide to Canada’s biggest city.

If you see a *, it means the spot is better suited to adults, otherwise this list is family friendly!

STAY //

The Anndore House

I stayed at this upscale downtown hotel pre-parenthood and I loved it then, but my expectations were definitely exceeded this time around with a toddler in tow. The room was spacious and quiet, the staff was incredibly helpful, and they even provided a crib so we didn’t have to pack one! Plus the central location made taking TTC all over the city quick and easy. If you’re looking for a beautiful (and well-priced) home base to explore the city from, I highly recommend this hotel!

SNACKS //

Piano Piano

Grey Gardens*

Burdock Brewery

Kitten and the Bear

Paris Paris*

Coco’s

The Federal

Bang Bang Ice Cream

Gold Standard Sandwiches

Glory Hole Doughnuts

SIPS //

Rhum Corner*

Milky’s Coffee

Grape Witches*

Tealish Tea

The Merseyside

SHOPPING //

Kolkid

Loversland

Euclid Farms Flowers

Likely General

Type Books

The Paper Place

Mellah

Early Bird and Worm

PLAY //

Trinity Bellwoods Park Playground

Jamie Bell Adventure Park (High Park)

A Pastel Home

I am over the moon (or… sun?) to be sharing the newest finished room at #pastelsunriseplace – our sunny bathroom!

When I first saw this space, I was amazed at how much we’d lucked out on the basics: nice neutral tiling and countertops, plain white cabinets… it was basically a blank canvas BEGGING for a renter redo! The existing mirror and light fixture were my main concerns, but overall I saw so much potential in this little bathroom without having to take on a massive amount of costly work.

But before I got to the practical bits like paint, lighting and hardware, I started with sunny inspiration. I’d seen a geometric sun print wallpaper awhile back and had been waiting for the right room to use it in. Turns out, peel and stick wallpaper can actually be a bit of a nightmare on a steamy bathroom, so though I didn’t actually use the wallpaper in the end, it set the tone and colour scheme for this room and what I wanted it to become. First I found and promptly fell for Flax Home’s Linen Bath Towels – beautifully crafted, local, and in the perfect shade of blush pink? What’s not to love! Then I saw this sunset bath mat, which tied the same shade of blush with warmer yellow and peach tones, and from there the space really started to take shape. Eventually this room became a cheerful escape filled with all the colours of a summertime sunset. But what about the practical stuff?

I didn’t originally intend to paint this room, but the more closely I looked at the space the more I realized it was begging for a fresh coat of white paint. I went with Boomerang paint from RONA for this project, a small collection of eco-friendly colours that are made with recycled paint!  The production of Boomerang emits four times less greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than the production of any conventional paint – and honestly it worked great! I went with “Moonlight White” and at first I was a bit worried the paint was too thin and easy to wash off my hands/surfaces, it ended up exceeding my expectations with just two coats once dry. Highly recommend!

Next I focused on hardware, and for all of those bits and pieces, I turned to Lowe’s. I found the oval mirror first (initially I wanted to do an arch, but it just didn’t fit the space) and went from there, matching the finishes on the light fixture, knobs and towel bars to create a gleaming gold cohesive look. Lowe’s has so many incredible online exclusives, and most of what I chose was found on their site using keywords like “gold mirror” and “gold towel bar”. Once I found a collection that worked (in this case, the Moen Align collection), I shopped through all the items within it until I’d checked off every need on my list.

And finally, I circled all the way back to my sunshine wallpaper accent wall. I knew I still wanted to do something around the window, and these Sunscape decals from Urban Walls were just the easy to install, high impact touch I was looking for.

All in all, bringing this vision to life from takedown to tiny decor details was pretty quick and easy compared to some of my past projects, but it was definitely just as satisfying! What’s your favourite part of this sunny space?

Scroll down past the photos for shopping links and sources!

Flax Home Linen Towels here

Urban Walls Sunscape Decals in “Maize” here

Oval Mirror here

Vanity Light Fixture here

Gold Cabinet Knobs here

Gold Toilet Paper Holder here

Gold Towel Bar here

Gold Towel Hooks here

Gold Shower Curtain Hooks here

Off-white Shower Curtain Rod here

Shower curtain here (but this one was also a big contender)

Sunset Bath mat here

Boomerang Recycled Paint in “Moonlight White” here

Gold Apothecary Pink Cedar Bath Salts here

Land of Daughters Girl Gang Candle here

Lady Planter here

Arch Candles (similar) here

Cactus Artwork by Cabin Journal here

Pink and Gold Ceramic Vase here

LOHN Diffuser oils here

Artifact Skin Co. Skincare here

IKEA Small Shelves here (small accent mirrors IKEA too, but discontinued)

MONDAY Haircare here

Detox Mode Shower items here

Umbra Corner Shower Shelves here

Disclaimer: Some of the product featured in this post was gifted to me in exchange for content.