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Travel: Winter Getaway Spots

As the the busy holiday season comes to an end and the winter blues are in full affect, it's always nice to escape the cold for some much needed rest and relaxation in the sun. The past few weeks have been absolutely freezing and its only going to get colder this weekend! We included our favourite local winter getaway spot. However we've included more warmer destinations because I'm sure we are all dreaming of the hot sun right now!  We have listed places we are dying to go to and ones that we've already visited. Hope you enjoy XX. 

Amanda's top picks

South Beach 

If you're planning a weekend getaway with your girlfriends or significant other, we would highly recommend South Beach! We probably would skip this spot if you're looking for a family friendly vacay. The South Beach beach strip is full of unique boutique hotels, cool bars and some of the best shopping! One of our favourite things about South Beach is that there is still the atmosphere of a beach holiday, however you can still experience the shopping and restaurants of a city. Talk about the best of both worlds! Its a great place to stay for a long weekend to enjoy the weather, nightlife and amazing food. 

Some of our favourite restaurants to check out  is Joe's Stone Crab for authentic seafood. Cibo Wine Bar (also located in Toronto) for awesome Italian food, and Baoli Miami for the best fresh sushi and fun atmosphere. 

Arizona 

It has always been on our list to checkout the Grand Canyon. From the views, to the fun excursions, Arizona is a destination that is completely different from the typical beach holiday. It has amazing warm weather, especially in the winter, unbelievable views and fun excursions for every age group! 

Sedona, surrounded by red-rock buttes, looks absolutely beautiful and different from any other vacation destination we've been to. One of the hotel/spas we are dying to stay at is the L'Auberge de Sedona. From the views, to the individual cottage-like villas, this hotel looks amazing! The desert atmosphere is completely different from any other warm climate vacation, trading the beach for red-rock buttes! Arizona offers a lot of excursions, perfect for any getaway occasion. A girls trip, couples getaway or a fun family vacation, there are so many activities offered, you won't have to worry about being bored when you're not relaxing by the hotel pool. Our top excursions that we are dying to do is the jeep and helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon. 

Jill's top Picks 

Venice Beach and Santa Monica 

One of the places that we are dying to go to is Santa Monica and Venice Beach, seeing as it is one of the most iconic vacation spots to hit up when heading to California! From the shopping, to the beaches, restaurants and nightlife, it absolutely fits the criteria for the ultimate laid back beach vacation! We've listed a few of the coolest restaurants, bars and boutiques we're dying to check out (as recommended by V.O.C owner, Emily)! Be prepared, you will never want to leave! 

Venice:      

Santa Monica:

Scandinave Spa Blue Mountain 

If you're a winter person or find it hard to get away for a longer amount of time, then the Scandinave Spa at Blue Mountain is the perfect weekend or even day getaway for you! Talk about a perfect winter escape! If you can't get away for a weekend, it's still worth the drive to spend an entire day full of pampering and enjoying the Scandinavian outdoor baths. Only a few hours of driving north and you can escape for a day of relaxation, while enjoying the winter season. Sounds ideal! If you do have the time and can manage to get away for more than a day, there are a lot of great hotels (Westin Trillium House Blue Mountain) to turn this day trip into a winter weekend getaway! 


Travel: Nicole's Guide to Paris & London

My husband and I had always wanted to go to London, as we both have friends that live and work there, so when I found myself thinking of a 30th Birthday present for him this past August, I decided that a surprise trip to London would be the perfect gift. Paris is also a favourite city of ours, and seeing as it's only a 2 hour train ride away we decided to make a stop there as well. Read on for my guide to London & Paris!

Enjoy! xx, Nicole

LONDON

Where to Stay

St. James Hotel and Club Mayfair

We stayed a this charming boutique hotel located in the heart of Mayfair right around the corner from Piccadilly. The rooms are an elegant blend of Victorian and contemporary styles and the staff are absolutely amazing. I would definitely stay there again.

The Ned - Although we didn't stay here, we went for lunch at their restaurant, Cecconi's, and I was so impressed! It is a newish hotel, but the building has been standing since the 1920's. It was previously a bank and exudes total luxury. It has an old world feel which I absolutely love...think Great Gatsby! It channels 1920's luxury right down to every last detail. So pretty! 

Where to Eat

Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea at The Sanderson Hotel - This is not your average afternoon high tea. Inspired by Alice and Wonderland, this high tea experience is truly whimsical and absolutely delicious.

MNKY HSE - We went here for my husbands Birthday dinner and it was delicious. It was Latin American Cuisine all served tapas style so it was perfect for sharing. The vibe and ambiance were great. It turns into a club later on in the evenings so it's a great place to eat and grab some drinks.

Anokha - This was an Indian restaurant we went to which had a trendy vibe and tasty food. You can't go to London and not eat Indian.

Where To Shop

Harrods is a must! You can't visit London without making a stop at this iconic store. Even though everything is outrageously expensive, it's still fun to marvel at all the beautiful things. Selfridges is also amazing - I love their department stores because they are a one stop shop.

Where to go and sight see

Aside from all the main tourist attractions (Big Ben, Westminister Abbey, London Eye) which we were obliged to see being first time tourists to London, I would recommend the following:

Borough market is a must. If you are a foodie like myself you will LOVE it. It is a gourmet food market that consists of more than 100 different food/beverage vendors.

Notting Hill has got to be one of the prettiest neighborhoods I have ever seen. The pastel-hued townhouses are absolutely gorgeous (I would love to live in one) and Portebello Road market make it one of the most popular destinations.

One thing I might have done different....

I was VERY disappointed that I did not get to eat traditional pub food. On Sunday night we tried to get some fish and chips around 8:00pm and pretty much all the pub's kitchens were closed. I guess there is always next time...

Paris

Where to stay

I have been to Paris several times and I always stay at the same hotel, The Prince de Galles, and I have yet to be disappointed. Centrally located on Avenue George V steps away from the Champs-Elysees and right next to the ritzy Four Seasons George V, it's in a perfect location. The rooms have been recently redone and are all Art Deco inspired. The Parisian style breakfast is also delicious.

Where to eat

The food in Paris is absolutely divine, I could not stop eating baguettes, croissant and crepes. Thankfully we walked about 20 km per day. We more or less would stumble on little cafe's and eateries and to be honest, I don't remember the names. Here are a few places I would suggest visiting. 

Laduree - Famous for their macarons and pastries you have to visit their flagship location off the Champs-Elysees, it is absolutely GORGEOUS. The macarons are beautifully packaged and make a wonderful gift for those back home. You can also grab some at the airport.

Four Seasons George V Le Bar - Okay this might be the nicest hotel I have ever seen. You have to pop in and grab a drink at Le Bar.  I will forewarn you, they will run you at least 30 euros per drink but it's so worth it. Throughout the lobby and hotel for that matter, you will see stunning floral arrangements curated by Jeff Leatham.

Les Ombres - Located on top of a museum, this glass roofed restaurant has panoramic views including a spectacular view of the Eiffel Tower which is all lit up at night. The cuisine is contemporary french fusion and the decor is modern and elegant.

Where to shop

Without a doubt Paris has the best shopping-even their H&M and Zara are incredible. I maintain if you cannot find it in Paris it literally does not exist. My favourite place to shop would be the Gallery Lafayette hands down (pictured below). This is shopping heaven!  It is one of the most beautiful department stores I have ever been to. Even my husband loved it-they have a whole separate building devoted entirely to men. There is also a beautiful rooftop terrace that boasts a spectacular view of the entire city. Nothing like sipping a glass of bubbly and overlooking one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

What to see

When I go to Paris, I love visiting all the main tourist sites, for some reason they never get old to me. In terms of museums the Musee d'Orsay is my favorite, I love impressionist and post-impressionist art. I also love the Eiffel Tower, but I wouldn't recommend taking the trip up. It's beautiful from ground level. Instead, I would recommend sitting in the park with a baguette and bottle of wine and marvel at it's iconic structure.

Montmartre is also really cool and eclectic. This is where Sacre-Coeur and the Moulin Rouge are. It's up on a hill so you get great views of the city. If you are spending more than 3 days in Paris, I would also recommend visiting Versaille, the gardens are breathtakingly beautiful. 

 

 


Travel: Guide To Nantucket Island

This time last week, Shelby was sitting on a beach on Nantucket Island on her summer vacation! It looked like a dream and is one of her favourite places in the world...so this week on the blog, she's sharing all her favourite things about the island through a mini to-do guide for anyone who is planning or hopes to travel there sometime soon! 

We hope you enjoy it!  

WHERE TO SHOP

Nantucket is home to so many adorable boutiques, beautiful furniture stores and some of the best gift shops in the world...and not to mention some of the best restaurants (see "WHERE TO EAT" below). Here's a list of just a few of my favourite places to shop while i'm there...

Murray's Toggery Shop

This store is famous for what many East Coast people recognize as "Nantucket Red" shorts for men and they are also one of the oldest stores on the island. That being said, it has a great women's clothing and shoe section and definitely has something for everyone...you could explore this place for hours! 

The Skinny Dip: Nantucket

I found this super cute store this past summer on the Old South Wharf, and it has the CUTEST selection of women's clothing and a great men's section as well. They're definitely famous for their Ellsworth & Ivey Nantucket sweaters, but they have some amazing shoes, swimwear, clothing and accessories as well! They're also surrounded by some of the best boutiques on the island 

Milly & Grace

This is one of the most stunning boutiques on the island that carries brands like Rebecca Taylor, Bella Dahl, and Joie amongst many others. If you're on the island, don't miss their selection of women's clothing, footwear, gifts and home decor pieces! It's beautiful. 

Nantucket Looms

With Nantucket being well known for their signature interior and home decor style, Nantucket Looms is a must for design inspiration and a little furniture shopping. They also have amazing knickknacks and decor pieces that are great memories of Nantucket to bring home with you. You won't want to leave this store, it's so beautiful! Another cute furniture store on the island that you can't miss is Bodega on Candle street! 

The Sunken Ship

You'll see a million people walking around Nantucket with Nantucket Beach Permit tees and sweaters, and this is the go-to store for those! And it's been on the island for decades! They also have absolutely everything you'll ever need for the beach! 

 

WHERE TO EAT

There are TONS of amazing restaurants on Nantucket... you really can't go wrong! But here are some of my favourites that my family and I keep going back to!

Straight Wharf

For some of the most fresh seafood on Nantucket, you have to go to the Straight Wharf for dinner! They're located right on the wharf by the fishing boats, so if you head out on a half day fishing trip and bring back a catch, they will fillet and cook it for you that night for dinner! 

Cru

Another great option for seafood is Cru...and it's probably located at one of the best locations on the island where you have the best view of all of the yachts and boats on the island while you enjoy lunch or dinner. They also have a great bar and private dining area! 

Galley Beach

For amazing food, a great beach bar, and the best view of the Nantucket sunset on the entire island, Galley Beach is a must! 

Nantucket Lobster Trap

Super casual with a great outdoor seating area, this is the restaurant for lobster on the island. Definitely worth eating at one night! 

The Juice Bar

The go-to spot for ice cream and smoothies on the Steamboat Wharf. Go in the afternoon or after an early dinner or you could be stuck in an hour long lineup! 

 

Aunt Leah's Fudge

An island gem with world famous fudge that is a favourite of locals and people who visit the island every summer. Kathie Lee Gifford, Katie Couric and Joe Biden are a few celebs that have their pictures with Aunt Leah on the wall! 

Handlebar Cafe

A really cute little coffee shop just outside the main part of town that makes speciality lattes and really good coffee! 

Downy Flake

If you want a greasy spoon for breakfast with famous donuts, Downy Flake is a hit, with huge lineups on Sunday mornings. 


 

Provisions

Perfect for a casual lunch on the wharf or if you are looking to pick up sandwiches for a day at the beach.  

 

 

 

ACTIVITIES

Dreamland Theatre

A beautiful theatre in town that plays the latest blockbusters every night of the week! 

Whaling Museum

If you want to learn more about the island, the Whaling Museum is a must and is also super kid friendly. 

Nantucket Ghost Walk

Nantucket is pretty famously haunted, so this guided tour around the town is fun if you like ghost stories and are interested in the history of the town and the haunted buildings and homes. Groups meet at the top of Main Street at 8:45pm Friday through Monday.

See a play

Nantucket has really great productions of some of the most famous broadway plays playing every summer. We saw Mamma Mia one night this summer and it was a laugh! Highly recommended. 

Deep Sea Fishing

There are tons of companies on the wharf in Nantucket that offer half day fishing trips. If you're lucky you'll also get to see some whales or sharks off the island! Albacore Charters offers a great trip where you're guaranteed to catch tons of bluefish! 

 

BEACHES

Surfside/Fisherman's Beach/Nobadeer Beach

This stripe of beaches is definitely a favourite of both locals and tourists. Surfside has a great surf shack with drinks and food so you don't have to bring a lunch, and they have all your beach essentials as well. The blueberry lemonade is to die for! 

 

Miacomet Beach

If you're looking for a quieter beach that isn't as busy, Miacomet is a great option and is dog friendly! It's also located near some of the most beautiful homes on the island, and is an easy bike ride from town. 

Jetties Beach 

Jetties was always one of my favourite beaches on the island as a kid because of the huge sand bar and lack of huge waves. Walk the sandbar and see tons of wildlife from fish to hermit crabs, a great for of Brant Point Lighthouse, plus there is a great lunch spot on the beach with a store and pretty great lobster rolls! If you're the type that doesn't like laying on the beach for too long, they also have kayak and windsurf board rentals. 

Cisco Beach

If you're biking around the island, Cisco Beach is great option with a long bike path straight to it from town and on your way home you can stop by Cisco Brewery for a drink! This beach is also home to the Nantucket Surf School if you're interested in learning to surf, or you just want to watch the surfers for an afternoon. 

 

 


Travel: 5 Tips for Packing Like A Pro

Since summer is fast approaching, many of us have travel on the brain. And if you're like us, whether it's for a long weekend or a few weeks, you're always planning your next trip. One of the biggest travel mistakes that all of the V.O.C. girls can agree on making is over-packing. There's nothing worse than getting to the airport and having an overweight bag, filled with things you probably won't even have a chance to wear. Plus, if you can avoid checking a bag, why wouldn't you? To ease the packing process in the future, we put our heads together and came up with 5 tips for packing like a pro. 

We hope these help when you're packing for your next getaway! 

1. Don't bring anything you can buy at your destination. 

If your goal is to save space in your suitcase (why wouldn't it be!?), it's so important to consider what you can buy (instead of pack) at your destination. Are you going to the beach? Save space, and fear of liquid getting all over your suitcase, knowing that there will be plenty of sunscreen and beach supplies at your destination. Same goes for many toiletries that you wouldn't bring in your carry on... If you must bring your own, invest in some travel sized containers that allow you to transport your own face wash, shampoo, etc. 

2. Pack outfits that you love.

Travel isn't the time to play around with a new outfit or item that you haven't worn yet...the last thing you want is for a wardrobe malfunction or something to not fit quite right and to ruin some of your trip. One of the best tips we've given and received is to plan outfits in advance and only pack items and outfits from our wardrobe that we love, and that make us feel the most confident. This practice also reduces your chance of overpacking by only bringing things you will actually wear. Packing classic outfits like a leather jacket or black blazer, with your favourite pair of skinny jeans, and a black or nude heel, for example, are key. They already have a proven track record from when you've worn them in the past, are your go-to when you don't have time to think about an outfit...yet you still feel awesome while wearing them. I.e. they're perfect for travel. 

We love this Lily Aldridge x Velvet jacket for all our trips... Click here to shop it.

 

3. Pack accessories, but not too many.

For us, accessories can really transform an outfit from being "meh" to one that gets us compliments all day long. Whether it's a chunky pair of earrings, or a minimal bracelet or necklace, these items can make even your oldest white tee look cool. Pack a couple of your favourites in your carry on, and throw them on when your outfit needs something extra that maybe you couldn't give it from that extra pair of shoes you had to leave at home. 

4. Scale back on shoes, literally. 

There's nothing that adds more weight to our suitcase than shoes. They're the most likely item to be overpacked, with many of us packing way more than we need, and only wearing each pair once, maybe twice per trip, if we're lucky. Forget the chunky wedges that you might only wear on one night out, and pack a comfortable, versatile pair that can be worn with multiple outfits. If you really need to save space, you may even consider packing outfits around the 2 or 3 pairs of shoes (MAX) you should bring. 

We love these sandals from Star Mela that can easily take you from the beach to dinner...

5. Invest in the right luggage.

We can't stress enough how important having the right luggage is when travelling. This includes the purse we decide to bring as our carry on as well! A large purse or tote that houses all of your essentials (wallet, travel sized toiletries, magazines for the plane, etc.) that can double as your everyday bag during the trip is an essential. 

For your roller bag, we love hard shell cases that are lightweight like this pink one carried by Marianna Hewitt by AWAY x Pop and Suki, which also features a USB charger for your phone! If this cute luggage isn't an incentive to pack lighter, we don't know what is! 

 


Travel: Emily's Guide to Palm Springs


With this baby boy barging his way into the world in May, Jeff and I decided to take one last trip, aka The Babymoon, to Palm Springs last month. I’m a total California girl – I’m still dying to move to LA but I’d never been to the California desert. I don’t know if it was the sunshine or the thought of this as our last trip just the two of us but I totally fell in love with Palm Springs. Jeff and I are already scheming how we can buy a pool house and vacation there every winter.  Retirement at 35? 

WHERE TO STAY


The Parker:
We spoiled ourselves and spent a blissful week at the Parker. It was heaven. I highly recommend. The design of the entire hotel from the lobby to the pool to the hotel rooms was literally from a magazine (no like they photograph editorials there all the time). Check our Gray Malin’s recent photoshoot. If you save up and splurge you won’t be disappointed.

 

WHERE TO EAT


Norma’s At The Parker:
This spot is perfect for breakfast and lunch (skip the dinner). The patio is super cute. We missed Leo (yes, THAT Leo) by 10 minutes when we had a late lunch our first day.   If it’s one of Leo’s favourite spots, it’s fine by me! Try the banana pancakes.




Cheeky’s:
The healthy LA vibe has made it’s way to PS with this breakfast joint. Get ready to wait in line (no reservations) but it’s worth the wait. We visited a number of times and loved everything. The Mexican Coffee is a must!


 

Workshop Kitchen:
This place is a scene. Concrete with incandescent lighting – the atmosphere is totally unique. We had one of the best meals of our life here. I splurged and had the most delicious burger on record. Make sure to try the homemade ginger beer. Yum!


Birba:
The entire restaurant is a patio – perfect for any Torontonian. Another bonus to being in the desert. We had a delicious dinner at this hot spot. The pizza is amazing as are all the salads and sides.   The cocktails looked delicious – when we go back post baby I’ll be sure to try!

 

WHERE TO SHOP


Desert Hills Premium Outlet:
It’s worth the trip to PS just to go to this outlet mall. I haven’t stopped talking about it since I got home. I’m not even an outlet mall person and I made Jeff take me back twice. There is literally EVERYTHING you could ever want here. Barney’s, DVF, Gucci (and Gucci kids…), Fendi, Jimmy Choo, Helmut Lang, Prada, Rag and Bone, Moncler, Vince.. the list goes on.   Lucky for my wallet I was pregnant and not my normal size. I’m already counting down the days until I can go back.

The Shops at Thirteen Forty Five:
PS is known for its Art Deco style and shopping. This marketplace has an amazing assortment of furniture and accessories that any design fiend will love. Spend a few hours poking around at all of the boutiques.

El Paseo Village:
This outdoor shopping street has a great assortment of boutiques and shops. Saks, LV, Johnny Was, Gucci etc. Grab lunch at Wilma + Frieda.

 

WHAT TO DO 

Joshua Tree:
Take a roadtrip up to Joshua Tree, one of the largest National Parks in California.. It is where the Mojave and Colorado Deserts meet. There are tons of hikes and adventures to try. We did the Lost Palms Oasis which was a tad challenging for a pregnant girl – but the views and sights were breathtaking.

 



Enjoy!!!


XO, Emily

 


Sarah's Travel Guide: West Hollywood & San Diego

Sarah's Travel Guide: West Hollywood & San Diego

BY: SARAH SMITH

This past weekend I flew to California to visit my best friend who just recently moved to San Diego! As one of the top destinations on my bucket list for as long as I can remember, I was beyond excited to get my flights booked and bags packed.
We had the best time ever road tripping from LA to San Diego, checking out all of the best places to shop, eat and sights to see along the way! I highly recommend driving along the Pacific Coast Highway, wind in your hair and singing (screaming) the lyrics to oldies with your bestie. Doesn't get much better than that.
Since we were only spent one day in LA, we had to try our very best to squeeze everything in that was on our to-do list! After a long hike up to the Hollywood sign, our next stop was Alfred's Coffee and Kitchen.
If you follow any bloggers based out of the LA area you'll recognize Alfred's -- and it is seriously the cutest coffee shop ever. Not only does it have the most adorable interior decor and endless instagram opportunities (ha!) but it also has some of the best coffee I have ever had. There are a couple locations on Melrose Avenue that are definitely worth the visit next time you're in the West Hollywood area!
We did some shopping along Melrose and stopped in at one of my favourite stores, The Reformation. All of their stuff is to die for and it's all made from either vintage or eco-friendly fabrics! 
 Once we made it to San Diego, we actually stayed in an area called Carlsbad, otherwise known as "the village by the sea" which is about half an hour north of downtown San Diego right along the coast. 
Carlsbad is absolutely gorgeous, with tons of cute little boutiques, amazing restaurants and awesome nightlife. Did I mention it's right beside the ocean? We spent a majority of our time on the beach, hanging out, watching all the surfers, listening to music and catching the most amazing sunsets.  
If you're ever in Carlsbad, be sure to grab a drink at Campfire. Not only does it have a killer menu, it has such an awesome atmosphere. I loved all of the little details, especially the teepee out back where you can finish off your last glass of wine, ha! 
We drove down to La Jolla to spend the day shopping around and to check out the La Jolla cove where all of the adorable sea lions and seals love to hang out. I couldn't believe how many there were just out on the rocks catching some rays. This is definitely a tourist attraction with lots of people around snapping pictures but it was so fun to see! The surrounding view is breathtaking. 
So next time you head out to LA or San Diego, be sure to check out some of these spots. I can guarantee that they will not disappoint! 
XO, Sarah

 


Emily's Travel Guide to Los Angeles

Emily's Travel Guide to L.A.

For those of you that know me, you know that L.A. is my favourite place to visit (and maybe to live one day??!!). I’m lucky to have a job that brings me to this awesome city once or twice a year. Usually it’s all work and little play – but this past labour day, Jeff and I took a mini vacay to the land of the rich and famous. I don’t think a weekend or a blog post will do this city justice – it’s huge and sprawling and you really need a lifetime to actually see and discover all that it has to offer. This trip, we stayed on the west side in Santa Monica and hung out in Venice for most of our time. So this blog post is beach and west side focused – with a few must do things that everyone has to do on every trip to the city of Angels.


 

Hike:
Every trip to LA needs a quintessential hike up Runyon Canyon. The drive alone to the starting point is mesmerizing (the houses are sensational!!!). This is the land of the Hollywood Hills through West Hollywood. The hike is challenging but fun and it gives you a great vantage (and photo op) of the Hollywood Sign. Wear your sneakers - this isn’t a leisurely stroll, and be prepared to gush in awe of the luxury and excess! Swimming pools galore!


 

Drive to Malibu:
Jeff and I took a morning drive up the Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu. It’s a stunning drive and great sightseeing (again…the houses!). We stopped for lunch at Nobu – which is a must do – the restaurant overlooks the ocean and it’s always a scene. Keep your eyes peeled for celebs!


 

Walk Santa Monica Beach:
Santa Monica beach is gorgeous, clean and huge! Take a walk along the boardwalk past Muscle Beach and down to Venice Beach. The people watching is next level and the ocean is breathtaking. If you’re looking for a glass of wine or a snack – stop in at Shutters on the beach. If you’re up for a party, The Bungalow at the top end of the beach is a total scene any time of day! 


 

Wander the Venice Canals:
We absolutely love Venice and are already planning to retire here. The vibe is relaxed and fun. Think upscale Parkdale, on a beach. What could be better? Wander through the canals and daydream about your life in California. Check out Main Street for snack or some great shopping. 

 

Shop Abbot Kinney:
Abbot Kinney is a great shopping and dining strip in Venice. Every store seems to be better than the last. A mix of independent shops and awesome chains (AESOP! LE LABO! VELVET! WARBY PARKER!). Mix in Blue Bottle coffee, Salt and Straw Ice Cream and some amazing restaurants and you really have the ultimate haven.   Plan an afternoon stroll and dinner here. It's a must!

 

Eat:
LA has some of the best restaurants in the world. I keep a running list of new spots I HAVE to try each time I go. Here’s a list of some of my current faves:

Son of a Gun:
Seafood at it’s best. We tried almost everything on the menu and wished we could have tried more. The service is superb and the room is great fun!   Try a cocktail or two from the bar.


(Image from Jon and Vinny's Instagram)

 

Gjelina:
This is hands down the best restaurant I’ve ever been to. We loved it so much we went back for lunch the next day before getting on our plane. And we bought the cookbook. It’s worth a trip back to LA just to go to this restaurant. Try the mushroom toast. PERFECTION.


(Image from Gjelina Instagram)

Salt Air:
A yummy restaurant with lighter fare. We loved their pea toast – spicy and delicious. A great wine selection and the room is bright and airy.


(Image from Sincerely Jules Instagram)

 

The Rose:
I could eat breakfast here everyday. Try the breakfast burrito. It could feed two people (or an army) – but it’s so delicious you’ll try to eat every bite. The coffee and pastries are also very note worthy.



(Image from The Rose Instagram)

 

Sunny Spot:
If you’re looking for a boozy brunch try Sunny Spot. They have bottomless Caesars and Mimosa’s all day. The chicken sandwich is superb.


(Image from Sunny Spot Instagram)


Enjoy!
XO!
Em... 


Fall Bucket List: 5 Things To Do This Fall!

FALL BUCKET LIST: 5 Things To Do This Fall

Fall is one of our favourite seasons for many reasons...chunky knit sweaters, a great pair of leather boots, a warm bowl of chili, crisp mornings, hot cider, colourful nature walks, apple picking, football season, the list could go on and on.
So why not bundle up and take advantage of all that these short few Fall months have to offer! Here are a few fun ideas that are on our bucket list this month... 

1. Apple / Pumpkin Picking

Okay so this one has pretty much become a Fall tradition at this point. If you went apple or pumpkin picking and didn't insta a picture of it, is it really even Fall?! Just kidding...but seriously, not only is there an abundance of sweet and delicious apples, pies, and other baked goods as well as plenty of other fun activities at each of these must-see farms, there are also endless instagram opportunities. Shout out to those of you also carrying a pumpkin spice latte. 

Ha - told ya! 

Some of our favourite spots include: 

1) Chudleigh's 

2) Andrews' Scenic Acres

3) Springridge Farm

Once you've picked the ripest apples of the bunch, why not be ambitious and make a little homemade apple crumble?! #Treatyoself. Jamie Oliver has an amazing recipe that you need to try! You can thank us later ;)

2. Tailgate / Football Season

For all you sports fanatics out there, it's that time of the year again! FOOTBALL SEASON. Head out to the new and improved BMO Field and see our very own Toronto Argonauts play. 

OR round up a group of your closest friends and head down to Buffalo to see the Buffalo Bills play, #Merica. There are tailgate parties everywhere, and they are always so much fun. 

Even better, head down to Michigan (it's only a 4 hour drive from the city!) and watch the Michigan Wolverines play at the famous "Big House". School spirit is an understatement at this university. A sea of fans decked out in maize and blue cheering on their team, there is nothing more exciting!

3. TIFF 

The 41st annual Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 8th to the 18th and we could not be more excited to check out some of the must-see movies that it has to offer this year! Whether you snag a pair of tickets to a screening or not, there are also so many more fun events at the festival to check out including a FREE Pharrell Williams concert (um, amazing), a night with John Legend (okay, even better) and filmmaker Mark Duplass, The Drake Hotel's LA takeover, and so much more. 
Or you could just head over to King Street (or Yorkville) and spot some major celebs out and about! Ryan Gosling, what?

4. Find the perfect chili recipe  

Chill is pretty much the unofficial food group of Fall. It is the most comforting, delicious, flavourful dish ever and perfecting your recipe should be at the very top of your to-do list this month. So we've narrowed it down for you to a few of our favourites that we've tried in the past! YUM. Be sure to click the photos below to direct you to the recipe! 
Martha Stewart's 30-minute Chili 
Chrissy Tiegen's Chili Frito Pie (aka heaven) 
Oh She Glows Vegan Chili 

5. Hike the Great Outdoors 

With the leaves changing colour, your hike will be that much more beautiful. So head outdoors to Webster's Falls in Hamilton or Rattlesnake Point in Milton for some major views. Bonus - you can get in your cardio workout and burn off all that chili and apple crumble you've been eating, ha! 
ENJOY XO

 

 

 


Into The Wild: Camping in PEI

Into The Wild: Camping Essentials & What To Do in PEI

There is no denying the beauty that Canada beholds. There are SO many breathtaking things to see and fun places to visit that each offer something new and exciting. While I've been lucky enough to visit the West Coast in the past, I've also had the pleasure of heading out East quite a few times to visit family and my boyfriend who goes to school in Halifax (ahh the perks of long distance, ha!).

Exploring New Brunswick's "Flower Pot Rocks" in Hopewell 

Since we've already done just about every typical touristy thing you can do in Nova Scotia, we decided to hop in the car and head up to Cavendish in PEI for some good ol' camping fun. 

I am such a planner, especially when it comes to travelling. There is seriously nothing worse than getting to your final destination and not having everything that you need. Chances are that you're probably gunna need that safety kit and extra pack of hair ties when you least expect, so better be safe than sorry, right? Brandon thinks I am totally crazy, ha. So here is the perfect camping checklist for all of your absolute necessities. This thing was so handy...gotta love Pinterest. 

The drive from Nova Scotia to PEI is about 3 and a half hours long so having a good playlist is definitely key. Nothing beats driving down open roads on a nice summer day with Mumford & Sons playing in the background.

We stayed at PEI National Park's Cavendish Campground and it was beautiful. We were lucky enough to score a beachfront camp site (apparently they're always booked up during the summer months...so plan ahead if you're hoping to be right next to the water because it was totally worth it).

We spent our days at the red sand beach, soaking up the sun, building inukshuks, hanging around the campfire and exploring a few of the many hiking trails at the park. I was as happy as a clam. Brandon was sweating from every pore on his body. It was sooo HOT outside and these trails were a lot longer than I had thought, ha. Woopsies. 

Lucky for us there was a Cow's ice cream store just down the road from the park so we were able to cool off with my favourite East coast treat. More than once. I may or may not have put on 10 pounds while we were away. 

So yummy. 

We had so much fun touring around the East Coast from Halifax, New Brunswick, PEI and back again. If you're planning a trip out that way this summer I highly recommend heading to Cavendish for a little camping adventure. You will not be disappointed! 


Travel: The Algarve

 

Travel: Portugal & the Algarve

Written by Shelby

This past June my boyfriend and I travelled to the Algarve in Portugal for a fun european beach vacation that we had been planning for a couple of months. We had the best time and everything from the food, to the scenery, and the weather was amazing. We are so sad to be back…and this post definitely brings back some amazing memories made there!

If you’re planning to head to Portugal at some point, here are some highlights from our trip that might inspire some of the stops you make during yours! 

Enjoy! XO

 

Lisbon

Shopping

A really awesome men’s boutique located just off of one of the main roads in Lisbon. They carry brands like A.P.C., Comme de Garçons, Common Projects, and Adidas.

  • Avenida da Liberdade 

This is where all of the luxury shops are located…It’s Portugal’s version of the Champs Élysées and it’s pretty beautiful.

  • R. do Carmo 65, Lisboa

You’ll find everything from Nike, to Zara, and H&M on this street and the surrounding areas! If you’re not shopping, it’s worth it just to go into the shops to see how they compare to those we have in Toronto! 

Gelato

For the best gelato, you have to go to Amorino in Lisbon! There a few locations scattered throughout the city so you have no excuse not to try it. They make those famous floral-like gelato cones that you see on Instagram all the time! 

Lunch/Portuguese “Pasteis De Nata”

On our first day in Portugal, we spent the afternoon in Lisbon before heading to the Algarve. We got lunch at a park that overlooked a beautiful garden which also had some amazing local farmers and food stands set up nearby. Within two hours of arriving, we had already tried two of Portugal’s most well known foods… Portuguese sandwiches and their famous custard tarts (pasteis de nata)…

  
Portimão/Porches 
Our hotel was in a small town called Porches. It was stunning and had amazing views of the ocean and the caves. 
Food 

5 minutes from our hotel was this local favourite restaurant serving traditional Portuguese food. It was probably one of the best meals we had on the entire trip. While in Portugal you have to be sure to try their fish! 

 

Benagil Caves

15 minutes away from our hotel were the Benagil Caves, which are a bunch of really beautiful caves that have become a really popular thing to visit while in the Algarve. The beach they’re located near offer boat tours inside the caves, which was a super fun experience that we highly recommend doing!

 

 

Lagos

One of the most popular things to do in Lagos is take a two hour boat tour to see the dolphins and whales! We were lucky to see dolphins almost everywhere we went, from the ocean and beach at our hotel, and then this tour in Lagos where they get you up close and person with dolphins in the ocean. 

While in Lagos, you also have to walk the narrow cobblestone streets and stop for lunch and to do a bit of shopping. The architecture and bright coloured buildings were stunning! 

 

Faro

We spent one day in Portugal’s southern most city, Faro! It was filled with small cafés and boutiques on cobblestone paths, and also had a beautiful cathedral where we spent an hour touring and taking pictures of the scenery. The cathedral (see images below) was built in 1251! The views from the bell at the top of the tower were beautiful, looking over old-town Faro and into the marina.

Orange trees outside of the cathedral! 

 

 


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