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Travel

Travel Guide: 5 Day Itinerary for Banff National Park

If you love turquoise waters, breathtaking mountain ranges and enjoying a slower pace of life, you will love exploring Banff National Park. I have been so eager to travel to Banff for as long as I can remember. The mountains, the lakes, the views, it’s probably one of the best spots to vacation in Canada to see the sights and true wonder of the Canadian Rockies. We had been waiting to take this trip for some time – a long postponed honeymoon trip (we’re celebrating 5 years this October!). In anticipation for this long-awaited trip, I read and watched quite a few travel guides (like this one!) to prep. We packed in a great mix of adventure time and down time to make the most of our 5 day trip, so I wanted to share our itinerary and some key places like Lake Louise, Bow Falls, Sulphur Mountain and more, in case it can spark some inspiration for anyone’s upcoming trip to Banff, Canada!

Travel Itinerary for 5 days in Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada.

Day One – Fly into Calgary & Explore Banff

We travelled the last week of August/first week of September and it was absolutely beautiful. Sunny weather, cool in the mornings and low 20’s in the afternoon (you know you’re from Canada when you care so much about the weather), it was the perfect time to visit.

We booked an early flight and arrived at Calgary airport for 9:30am so that we could make the most of our first day, then grabbed our rental car and drove about 1 and half hours away to Banff National Park. The drive towards the mountains was absolutely breathtaking. We purchased National Park passes in advance, so we were able to drive right through, which I highly recommend. You can buy them at the gates, but be prepared for long wait lines. If you plan on visiting other parks during your stay, make sure to check the local sites for any permits or passes you will need.

Once we dropped off our bags at the hotel, we headed for brunch at Melissa’s Missteak. It was delicious! Since it was a beautiful morning, we ate on the patio to really take in all the views. Though be warned Google maps has their location in the wrong place. The restaurant is actually right on the main road (which I think makes it that much nicer since the main road is closed to cars in the middle section).

Best brunch in Banff at Melissa's Missteak in Banff National Park.
Best brunch at Melissa's Missteak on the main road in Banff National Park with mountains in the background and picturesque views.

We then checked into the Moose Hotel and Suites and I could not recommend this lodge enough! The rooftop pool-sized hot tubs, fire pit and views, along with it’s close proximity to shops and restaurants, made our trip that much more amazing. It had the perfect mix of cozy cabin vibe meets modern, renovated suites and amenities. A definite must-stay, in my opinion, when you visit.

Banff National Park mountain views from the roof-top hot tubs at Moose Hotel and Suites in Banff, Alberta
View from the hot tubs!

After we checked in, we decided to venture out to Bow River and rent kayaks. This was the first time really getting to see just how turquoise the waters were – it was truly spectacular. We kayaked down river and took in all the views. The water was super calm and for a beautiful day, was not very crowded, which was great.

Kayaking on Bow Valley River in Banff, Alberta.
Kayaking on the turquoise waters at Bow Valley River in Banff, Alberta.

We then went to dinner at The Keg in town and did some shopping in the village and made sure to stop at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory to grab some Bear Claws!

Day 2 – Lake Minnewanka and Banff Gondola

The next morning we grabbed brunch at The Maple Leaf and headed out to Lake Minnewanka, the largest lake in Banff National Park, for a cruise tour! It was one of the highlights of our trip. The water was stunning and our tour guides were so fun and knowledgable. I enjoy weaving in a historical tour on any trip to learn even more about the place that we’re visiting, we even saw a baby Bald Eagle!

Lake Minnewanka mountain and glacier lake views in Banff, Canada.
Lake Minnewanka mountain and glacier lake views in Banff, Canada.
Lake Minnewanka mountain and glacier lake views in Banff, Canada.
Boat cruise on Lake Minnewanka with mountain and glacier lake views in Banff, Canada.
Boat cruise on Lake Minnewanka with mountain and glacier lake views in Banff, Canada to view the "devil's gap" tourist attraction.

There are plenty of short trails you can do around the lake, along with enjoying a picnic or even renting kayaks and canoes there. Plan to spend at least a couple of hours!

After that we had some downtime enjoying the hot tub at the hotel (we honestly didn’t even go to Banff Springs because we basically had it at the hotel). Then headed to the Banff Gondola. Parking at more popular destinations was definitely a challenge in Banff. We opted to take the free shuttle to the Gondola, which worked out great.

To get the most of the experience at the top of the mountains, we chose the Sky Bistro and Gondola package which included a 3 course meal at the Sky Bistro, where the views were incredible. This was a splurge meal for us, but it’s always nice to pick one super nice restaurant if you can fit it in your budget. With six stunning mountain ranges and the sweep of the Bow Valley and the town of Banff below you, views from the Sulphur Mountain summit were nothing short of breathtaking!

Six mountain ranges and Sulphur Mountain views at Banff National Park and Banff Gondola.
Dinner at the Sky Bistro in Banff National Park, Sulphur Mountain and Banff Gondola.

Day 3 – Lake Louise and Johnston Canyon

Lake Louise holds a special place in my heart. It was my grandmother’s favourite spot and when we got there and saw this iconic place, it was a moment I don’t think I will ever forget.

Pink and blue sunrise at Lake Louise in Banff, Alberta.
Sunrise at Lake Louise in Banff, Alberta.

Although, our original plan was to watch the sunrise at Lake Moraine and then go to Lake Louise but we were not able to get a parking spot at Lake Moraine (and we got there around 5am!!). Definitely listen to the locals when they say take the shuttle. Regardless, we got a great spot at Lake Louise, and it was a beautiful moment of our trip. We were able to sit on the dock with front row seats with everyone sitting along the lakefront, cuddled in blankets and quiet. It was a surreal moment to be with so many people, peacefully and quieting enjoying its beauty.

We stopped by a local bakery on the road back and enjoyed it by the river. An unexpected stop on our trip, but beautiful nonetheless!

Stunning mountain and river view in Banff National Park, just outside Lake Louise and Lake Moraine.

We then went to Johnston Canyon to hike to waterfalls. It was a well marked path and beautiful views throughout the hike.

View of river and mountains at Johnston Canyon waterfall hike in Banff National Park.
Johnston Canyon waterfall hike just outside Lake Louise in Banff National Park.
Johnston Canyon waterfall hike just outside Lake Louise in Banff National Park.
Johnston Canyon waterfall hike just outside Lake Louise in Banff National Park.

That afternoon we booked a horseback riding tour which was a great experience! We travelled up the mountains and down beside the Bow Valley.

Horseback riding on Bow Valley trail in Banff National Park.
Horseback riding guided trail on Bow Valley trail in Banff National Park.

For dinner we ate at Pacini at our hotel, which had great comfort food and nice atmosphere. The weather was threatening to rain, so we stayed indoors, but their patio has fireplaces and cozy seating, which would be a great option!

Day 4 – Drive to Kananaskis Nordic Spa

Our last morning in Banff we grabbed coffee at the Whitebark Cafe (really good!) and headed to go check out the Fairmont Banff Springs. Parking and entry was extremely expensive, so we opted to do a quick drive-by and then parked at Bow Falls to walk the trail there. The sparkling turquoise water is there too, and definitely a lovely place to walk and enjoy. On our way back to the hotel I had to stop at the 2-story Christmas Store – definitely recommend if you love Christmas as much as I do!

View of the Rocky Mountains at Bow Falls in Banff National Park.
View of the Rocky Mountains and waterfall at Bow Falls in Banff National Park.
Banff National Park main street.

We then drove to Pomeroy Kananaskis Mountain Lodge, a modern hotel in the middle of the mountains and forests. We enjoyed their Nordic Spa, which is a hydrotherapy cycle spa with a series of hot saltwater and cold plunge pools with three different sauna types. We had mountain views and their were cozy fireplaces nested around the pools to rest and enjoy.  It was a great way to end our trip of constant adventures and lots of walking. The eucalyptus steam room and exfoliating station was probably my favourite part – plus the robes were so cozy. We stayed at the resort and enjoyed dinner at the Blacktail Bar.

Spa day and relaxation at Pomeroy Kananakis Mountain Lodge Nordic Spa just outside Banff National Park.
Photo Credit: Play Outside Guide

Day 5 – Pack up and Head Home

The next morning we grabbed a to-go breakfast and coffee at the Market Cafe and headed to the airport. Our flight departed just after lunch and we landed in Toronto around 7pm.

Overall we had an amazing, amazing trip. I feel like there’s so much to do, you really can choose your own adventure. Next time we’re out west (we just came back from a trip from Vancouver and Whistler for my 30th birthday which I will document soon!), I would love to visit Jasper National Park and drive up the highway. Maybe even visit the Dark Sky Conservatory to hopefully (one day) see the Aurora Borealis. In the meantime, I hope this gives you some insight into our trip and things that you may want to add to your list!

Travel itinerary for 5 days in Banff National Park. Best things to do in Banff, Alberta.

Categories
Beauty Lifestyle

My Summer Makeup Essentials: What I’m Loving Right Now

I love playing with makeup, but since the pandemic hit (and as I’ve been getting older), I’ve found myself wanting less full-face glam and more simple, dewy and quick looks. Something that will look good everyday on video calls, but also last all day to transition to night with just a few small additions.

After a lot of experimenting and spending a lot of time on tiktok and YouTube, I think I’ve found my perfect summer look and products. You can check out my tiktok video of how I put the look together.

Start With a Glowy Base

The most important piece to this whole look? Moisturizer and sunscreen. The Glow Recipe Plum Plump Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizer is cooling and gel-like consistency. I’m in love. I follow that with Supergoop Play Sunscreen (a must). Then to add some glow without putting on foundation, I use the Lumi Glotion and apply the Nars Radiant Concealer for spot concealing and adding brightness under my eyes.

Add Some Colour

For the summer I’ve opted to switch to cream products to help them melt into the skin. The cream bronzer and blush from Tarte blends so nicely. I finish off the base with setting my t-zone and under eyes with Flower Beauty Translucent powder. If you have more dry skin, you may be able to skip this step!

Finishing Touches

I love using the Wow Brow by Elf Cosmetics to define my brows and then put on some CoverGirl Mascara. I finish off the look with the Coconut Setting Spray (smells amazing) and a Milani Lip Oil in a fun colour.

The finished look is so summery and dewy, not to mention really quick to put all together and head out the door (or into a meeting). Have any other product recommendations for warmer weather? Let me know!

Happy (almost) Summer!

Categories
Life with dogs Lifestyle Travel

Our Trip to Blue Mountain Resort: The Perfect Ontario Winter Getaway

There’s something about a winter trip that I absolutely love! Considering Winter is one of my favourite seasons (I say this as it’s currently snowing in the middle of March here in Ontario while I write this), getting away for a weekend or week vacation is a great way to enjoy what winter has to offer. We have been to Blue Mountain in the Fall for our anniversary and definitely loved being there in the Winter even more!

Even though I’m a fan of winter, I had never been skiing. I had a snowboard when I was young and attempted tobogganing hills… but I honestly don’t think that actually counts. So this year, we decided to jump straight into it. Even if you’re not huge into skiing and snowboarding, there really is something for everyone at Blue Mountain Village (though I’d probably recommend a weekend trip versus an entire week). With all of that being said, here’s a breakdown of our trip!

Day 1

Checked into our dog friendly Airbnb, which was a large chalet just a 3 min drive from the Village. Our chalet had a private hot tub and steam room, which I highly recommend since our muscles were sore after skiing. We headed into the Village for dinner at Northwinds Brewhouse & Kitchen.

There are ski-in and out style condos for rent that are in the village, so if your trip is centred around just skiing and you’re a party of 2-4 people, that could definitely be a good option for you!

Day 2

Took the dogs for a walk around our Chalet and took in the views. The mountains are so beautiful. Unfortunately it rained our entire first day, so we moved our skiing to Day 3 and enjoyed the hot tub, lots of board games and had a really nice day to just relax!

Collingwood was just a short 8 min drive from our Airbnb, so we picked up some groceries the night before and made a big breakfast. We headed into the Village to visit Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and a few clothing stores, including the Christmas Store, of course!

Day 3

Our ski day! Since we had never been skiing before, we opted to do the Newbie Ski and Snowboard Program. Which was a self-guided course, where you followed the signs that showed you instructions and tips. The ticket included rentals and a lift ticket (and definitely more cost effective if you’re learning for the first time).

We picked up our ski rentals from the main office and our experience wasn’t quite what we were expecting… Feedback for Blue – newbie skiers don’t know how things are supposed to fit and we really didn’t feel supported or guided through the process. It felt chaotic and ultimately 3 out of the 4 of us had terrible fitting boots that resulted in slight bruising and blisters by the end of our morning. I will say that although that part was unfortunate, it did not take away from our experience skiing! I would definitely do it again as it made a good intro to skiing, but would opt for an instructor and/or to get my rentals outside of the village so that I could choose my equipment and find something that had more inclusive boot sizing.

If you’re going to do the Newbie Ski program, I highly recommend watching YouTube videos or to bring someone with you who knows what they’re doing. We went early to beat the crowd and didn’t have any staff there to help us other than the people operating the lifts. The goal is to do the newbie hill, then the undergrad hill and then to your first green. Though only my husband made it to the green (yay!) and that’s totally okay – there are plenty more winters to continue to learn. 😉

Yellow box is South Newbie Hills and the purple star is where the main Newbie Hill is (and the one that we did).

We learned at the Newbie hills at the heart of the village, but there are apparently even better circuits on the South side of the hill (yellow box) with more space. Keep that in mind when you’re going! If it didn’t rain the day before, we would have gone to the South side for a 2nd trip out.

We headed to Jozo’s Bar for Après Ski and enjoyed a well-deserved pitcher of beer and food! Then grabbed a Starbucks and headed back to the chalet. We decided to order in pizza for dinner from Firehall Pizza (mmm 🍍 on pizza), hit the hot tub and relaxed for the rest of the evening.

Day 4

We checked out the Hike N’ Tube, which we thought was going to be much bigger…if you have a younger family, you will love it, but for the price of $26/adult, we decided it was not worth it. Instead we walked around the village, grabbed a coffee and some beavertails and sat by the fire pits.

In hindsight, we wish we would have brought our skates (we ended up not having room in the car), but will definitely visit the Woodview Mountaintop Skating Trail next time we are there. It’s a 1km loop with a stunning view. We were told to ensure it’s a good day, because the drive up the mountain in bad weather could leave you stranded.

We finished off the night at Rusty’s, a BBQ restaurant, but definitely want to try Magnone’s Italian Kitchen and Twist’s Kitchen and Cocktail next time! View the full list of their eateries here.

Day 5

Packed up and headed home!

Overall it was a really nice getaway and definitely crossed off some items from my bucket list. Though, there are still some things on my list I’d like to check out for next time! The Blue Mountain website breaks down activities to explore in each season, which is really helpful.

Some things I’d like to explore next year:

  • Breakfast/Brunch spots
  • South Hill Skiing
  • Mountaintop Skating
  • Snowshoeing and more hiking.
  • Scandinave Spa – book well in advance for this! We’ve been here before and loved our experience. Would be so nice after a couple days of skiing!

Have you ever been to Blue? If you have what’s your favourite activity there? Let me know in the comments below ❄️!

Categories
Growth Inspiration Mindfulness Wellness

30 Self Love Affirmations to Boost Your Confidence

How you speak to yourself matters! While this time of the year is focused a lot on couples or finding love, I think it’s so important to remember that you also need to love yourself. A great way to incorporate self love into your daily routine is through affirmations. 

I was first introduced to affirmations during yoga, but I really started making it a daily practice when I started using the 5 Minute Journal. Writing down things you’re grateful for, coupled with an affirmation for yourself for the day was a challenge at first. But if you keep going, I promise you’ll see just how empowering it can be! 

Need some inspo to get you started? Here are 30 of my favourite self love affirmations to boost your confidence. 

  1. I am worthy of my dreams.
  2. I am enough. 
  3. I am strong, beautiful and kind. 
  4. I am open to new opportunities. 
  5. I am capable of doing hard things. 
  6. I am growing and learning every single day. 
  7. I am confident in my career potential. 
  8. I am full of potential and have so much to offer the world. 
  9. I am poised to attract success and happiness. 
  10. I am exactly where I need to be. 
  11. I trust myself to learn from mistakes I may make. 
  12. I am who I choose to be. 
  13. I am grateful for my life. 
  14. I am enough just the way I am. 
  15. I love and appreciate my body and mind. 
  16. I am aligned with my mind, body and soul. 
  17. I trust myself to take risks and get back up if I fail. 
  18. I am knowledgeable and my ideas are important. 
  19. I speak up and stand up for myself. 
  20. I am proud to show up every day as my true, authentic self. 
  21. I choose to wake up today feeling confident, strong, and empowered. 
  22. My own approval is all I need. 
  23. I love myself exactly as I am. 
  24. I acknowledge all that I’ve accomplished and celebrate my achievements so far. 
  25. I can achieve whatever I set my mind to.  
  26. I respect and take good care of myself. 
  27. I have an abundance of energy. 
  28. I recognize when it’s time to rest and take care of my wellbeing. 
  29. I regularly take time for myself and my hobbies. 
  30. I am joyful and live with passion. 

Take a few that speak to you, or feel free to use these as a starting point to craft your own. Write them down every day, speak to yourself in the mirror while you’re doing your skin care, however you want to say your affirmations are up to you. You are amazing, don’t forget that! And if you do, just come back to this list to remind yourself of the inspiring, loving and incredible human you are and always will be. 

Categories
Growth Inspiration Lifestyle Mindfulness

How to Get Back On Track With Your Goals

It’s a new month, and a new opportunity to get back on track with your goals. Because if you’re anything like me…you may have let a few of those new year resolutions fall to the way-side. And, you know, Ontario was back in lock-down all of January – so there’s that. But, if you’re looking for some motivation to turn things around, here are some helpful ways to jump back on the horse and achieve the things you want in 2022 and beyond. 

1. Give yourself some grace

First things first, give yourself a break. Change isn’t going to happen overnight and creating new habits (and breaking old ones) takes time and consistency. If you restart your goals from a place of guilt, chances are you won’t keep them for long. Take a deep breath, journal about the challenges you had in the last month and give yourself some grace for doing what you needed to do and try again. 

2. Re-establish your “why”

I prefer writing out my goals on paper. There are studies that show the mind to hand connection with good ol’ fashioned pen and paper is more effective when it comes to recalling the notes you wrote. So, grab your favourite notebook and write down why you want to achieve your goals, what your vision for yourself is and how achieving these goals, along with the journey to get there, is important to you. If you find yourself falling off the wagon, refer back to this why. It should be a strong enough statement (or series of statements) to help you visualize why these goals are non-negotiable to you and help you get back to them. 

3. Create an updated vision board

I love a good vision board – whether it’s virtual or physical. Lately I’ve been creating monthly vision boards on Canva and then saving them to my desktop screen. That way, every time I open my computer, I am reminded of my goals and vision for myself. This month I’ve printed out my vision board and posted it in my office so that when I’m feeling uninspired, I can have a quick glance and be reminded of what I’m working towards! 

*All photos are either from Pinterest or Canva.

4. Pick one goal to focus on

Although you may have goals in different areas of your life, you can’t possibly change everything all at once. And if you attempt to, you’ll end up burning yourself out before you even get there. Take a realistic look at your goals and determine which one you want to tackle first. Maybe it’s a low-hanging fruit, a quick-win, or maybe you’re determined to work towards your longer term goal – it’s completely up to you! 

5. Create milestones

Whether you’ve chosen a longer term goal or a quick win, create a manageable work back schedule and key milestones you’d like to hit. Even if you don’t attach a time frame, have smaller steps in between that you need to hit to get you to where you want to go. Then CELEBRATE those small wins! You’ll be much more motivated to continue on your path if you take the time to celebrate your journey! It’s not just about the destination. If you spend your entire time waiting for the end result, you’ll miss all the good stuff, all the growth, all the life you’re living in between point a to point b. 

And if you find yourself back in the same place on March 1st, it’s okay. Restart steps 1-5, get back up and try again! You’ll surprise yourself when you see how far you actually have come in a month, even if it’s super tiny baby steps. Don’t forget to reflect on your previous month, what you’re grateful for, your successes and lessons you’ve learned along the way.

What is the one goal you’re going to tackle this month? Let me know below!

Categories
Career Tips Inspiration Productivity

5 Work From Home Tips When Motivation Just Isn’t Enough

I have quite a bit of experience working from home these last two years and quite honestly – I love working from home and am excited to continue doing so! There are times though (more than I like to admit) that I am just completely distracted or lacking all motivation to have a productive day. So, this year I decided to create some new habits and set-up my workspace in a way that gives me the extra boost of inspiration to work when motivation just wasn’t enough.

1. Clean, clear and under control

If there’s one thing that has helped, it’s creating a space that is clear from all distractions. I removed everything but the necessities on my desk. I even removed pens that didn’t inspire me. I brought my desk down to the basics and it has made a huge difference. When I find I’m getting overwhelmed, my desk is the first place I look for signs that I need to take a step back and clear my head. If it’s a mess, I just automatically feel like everything is cluttered and overwhelming.

2. Use productivity hacks to your advantage

I tried the pomodoro technique (or at least an adaptation of it) and it really helped my productivity. Here’s the coles notes: you select a task and then set a timer for 25 mins. You work solely on that one task for the timer and then take a 5 min break. You then continue this pattern 4 times and at the end of the block (2 hours), you take a longer break. I pick my playlist a head of time and set up everything on my computer that I will need and then start the timer. Though I’ve found success setting the timer for 30 or 60 mins, it just depends on what I’m focused on. This cube timer from amazon has really helped keep me off my phone and in the zone.

3. Create a a weekly to-do list

I found this career tip on TikTok and I’m obsessed. Tracking tasks day by day or project by project was just not working and didn’t give me the full week’s picture. This spreadsheet (watch the video below!) has been a game-changer. Even if you aren’t looking for a raise or promotion (but I mean, who isn’t), it’s perfect to help manage your tasks, workload and prioritize your tasks based on their value-add to the company and stakeholders!

@breakyourbudget

Your best shot at a promotion is PROOF. This is how you can set yourself up for success! The best part is it’s so easy and you can start now!

♬ Say So (Instrumental Version) [Originally Performed by Doja Cat] – Elliot Van Coup

4. Honour your time

I loved listening to the Before Breakfast podcast during my morning commutes to the office before the pandemic. And I recently discovered that the same host, Laura Vanderkam, also has a podcast called The New Corner Office that talks about all things career and working from home. In the episode Move beyond the urgent she talks about ensuring that you’re dedicating time every day in your schedule to high priority, but not urgent tasks. Projects that you can move the needle on and that will ultimately benefit you, your career and the company. I’ve started scheduling 2 hour blocks in my schedule at least 3 days a week to work on these projects so that I don’t get so wrapped up in responding to daily emails or unplanned tasks that pop up.

5. Get ready every single day

Anyone else’s #WFH wardrobe totally doom and gloom? Yea, mine too. Whether we like it or not, our work from home looks are now 2 years old and it’s time to start putting yourself together! I’ve been curling my hair, putting on some makeup, thoughtfully picking out my outfit and adding my favourite jewellery pieces. I feel 1000 times better when I put the time and effort into myself before I pour from an empty cup for someone else. A morning routine would work well here too, but I’ll be honest, I’m still trying to put one together that I truly love. ✨work in progress!✨.

Take what you need and leave what you don’t! Remember you can always hit trial and error and find what works for you. Everyone’s working style is different and the beauty of working from home means that you can figure it out until you find the style (or mix of styles) that works best.

Leave a comment down below if you have any tips I didn’t mention here!

Categories
Holidays Lifestyle Travel

Evening at the Distillery Winter Village (Toronto Christmas Market)

Another holiday festivity checked off the list! We visited the Toronto Christmas Market, now known as the Distillery Winter Village. An annual family tradition – filled with lots of photo-taking, good food, yummy drinks and the usual chilly weather. Though, definitely not as cold or busy as years passed.

We went on a weekday after 5pm and was able to walk right in (after our proof of vaccination, of course!). But no line, and no hassle. A few years ago I remember waiting around the block just to get in and we had a TICKET! Thankfully this year, parking and entry was a breeze.

Though it was still a little too busy to bounce around from booth to booth with a group of 8, we managed to grab a bite to eat at the Mill Street Brewery and enjoyed some sightseeing, hot chocolate and hot donuts — basically tiny-toms but make it festive. We had cinnamon sugar (of course) and ginger molasses.

The red and gold decorations are my favourite, sometimes they’ve done the blue and silver, but it feels good to see the traditional colours this year. Something about this Christmas feels like it should be traditional. I definitely zero’d in on the red, plaid and gold at home, so I’m right there with the traditional decor. Next year we’ll be switching over to coloured lights! It always reminds me of my childhood. What’s your preference?

Whether you’re visiting the food, getting some Christmas shopping done or just enjoying the scenery and holiday atmosphere, it’s definitely worth the visit!

Overall, everyone was super respectful of space and it was great to have room to take photos in front of the tree. We had so much fun laughing with our family – and also strangers passing by! We had our very first photo-bomb of the season. Truly, the spirit of the holidays and just being back around people and being somewhat “normal” was refreshing.

Are you planning a visit to a Winter Village in your community or maybe heading to the Toronto Christmas Market this year? Let me know below!

Categories
Holidays Inspiration Lifestyle

25 December Bucket List Ideas to Make the Most of the Holiday Season

As excited as I am every year for the holidays, it can be overwhelming and emotionally challenging when you’re dealing with loss of loved ones. Pangs of excitement and sadness all at the same time. What I try to remember is that they would have wanted me (and you!) to enjoy it and live life to its fullest – to spend and treasure time with family and friends.

All of the decorations and bells and whistles are incomparable to the true meaning of Christmas: to spend time with the ones you love – family, friends, your community, your furry pet. So whether you’re going through a tough time this season or just excited to get the holidays started, here are 25 holiday bucket list ideas (many of which I’ll be checking off my list this season) to get you in the Christmas spirit.

Be Merry To Do List:

1. Visit a local community ice-rink and skate

2. Make your own Hot Chocolate and snuggle up to watch a Christmas movie.

3. Can’t be with friends and family in person? Schedule a virtual Gingerbread House making party!

4. Learn to bake your family’s tried and true recipes so that you can pass it down for generations!

5. Visit an outdoor Christmas Market.

6. Purchase a gift from a small business.

7. Buy an advent calendar – you deserve a festive treat everyday leading up to Christmas!

8. Pour a cup of Peppermint tea, snuggle up with a blanket, journal about what you’re grateful for presently, reflect on the last year and dream of what you want in the future.

9. DIY your Christmas wrapping paper. I LOVE a good potato stamp and some craft paper!

10. Go through your winter clothing and donate jackets and cold weather accessories you no longer wear to a local shelter or clothing drive.

11. Sing Christmas carols with family and friends. The best way to spread Christmas cheer is sing it loud for all to hear!

12. Send Christmas cards, whether you make them yourself or purchase them, it’s the thought that counts! Bonus – print out photos of you and the recipient, it makes them even more special.

13. Make a playlist of your favourite Christmas songs!

14. Put together a small self-care pamper kit and gift it to someone who needs it.

15. Watch your favourite classic holiday movie – Elf takes the cake for me!

16. Bake Gingerbread cookies and decorate them with family.

17. Go on a drive or a walk around your neighbourhood to see those Christmas lights.

18. Take family photos! Whether you set up your iPhone and tripod or get them done professionally.

19. Plan a festive day-trip or let the planning be done for you with Guess Where Trips.

20. Wrap your Christmas gifts while watching your favourite Hallmark Christmas movie (can you choose just one?).

21. Go through old family photos and organize them into photo albums.

22. Learn about your family’s ancestry and heritage with your parents or relatives.

23. Make a homemade gift, whether it’s food or a craft, it’s the thought that counts!

24. Try out a new cozy dinner recipe from scratch and pair it with a festive cocktail.

25. Plan a holiday get-together with family and friends and play some festive games.

What is one thing on your holiday bucket list you can’t wait to do this year? Let me know if the comments below 💌.

Categories
Food & Drink Holidays

At Home Starbucks Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha…aka Christmas in a Cup

Every November it’s my personal tradition to kick-off the holiday season with a Venti Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha – it honestly brings me so much joy. You can call me peppermint candy cane obsessed, or anything peppermint for that matter.

Now that I’ve been working from home for the last almost 2 years now, and wanting to capture that same special festive drink (oh, and getting a Nespresso for my birthday this year), I researched, enlisted help from my equally Starbucks-obsessed sister, and together we concocted the perfect at home Starbucks dupe.

I’m trying to lower my intake of dairy, so I opted to try this with Oat Milk and it turned out great! Definitely worth the swap if you’re looking for a dairy-alternative.

You can watch the video on my Instagram Reels below or jump to the recipe underneath. ✨

Here’s what you’ll need:

How to make it:

  1. Heat your milk (either with an electric frother, over the stove or (the lazy way) in the microwave, then make it nice and frothy.
  2. Brew your espresso (I used a separate cup).
  3. Add the peppermint syrup and white chocolate syrup to the milk.
  4. Add the espresso to the milk.
  5. Add any fun toppings that you desire!

❤️💚❤️💚

Enjoy!

Categories
Fashion Holidays Style

Cozy Casual Outfit Ideas for the Holiday Season

My favourite time of the year to style clothing is during the fall and winter seasons. Give me all of the layers and all of the cozy knits because I have literally never met a denim and sweater combo I didn’t love! When I worked in retail, it was all about layering, not only for the KPI reasons (that’s retail lingo for more layers = high average transactions and units per transaction lol), but because layering really elevates an outfit.  

So, to bring back my love of clothing and styling to the blog, I wanted to share some casual and classic, go-to winter outfits that I’m loving for this upcoming holiday and winter season! 

Christmas Market Outfits

Cozy Work From Home Outfit

Holiday Shopping Outfits

Winter Walks and Adventures

Winter Date Outfits – Day or Night

Festive Holiday Get-Together

I also want to highlight here that you DO NOT need to purchase a new wardrobe every season because it’s trendy. Purchase items (whether on a budget or not) that are good quality and that you truly love. I can’t tell you how many items I’ve donated the next season because I’m over them. And quite frankly, that’s wasteful and I’m really trying to be more mindful about that! Hot Tip: keep an item in your online cart for 24 hours before you purchase (and don’t look at the “you forgot something in your cart” emails they send you to urge you to buy). If you still can’t stop thinking about it and you know that it’s going to be versatile in your wardrobe, then go ahead and splurge.

Instead of being angry that the cold, snowy winter is coming (spoiler alert, it’s my favourite season), think of all the cute outfits you get to create! What are some of your favourite outfit combinations for the cooler winter months?