To Vogue or Bust | Vancouver Based Style, Travel and Lifestyle Blog
My name’s Alexandra Grant and I’m the creator and editor of To Vogue or Bust, my digital playground for sharing everything that inspires, moves and excites me! To Vogue or Bust is a space intended to give the modern millennial woman the roadmap to achieving a life that’s as stylish as it is adventurous, empowered and fulfilled.
I like all kinds of trips but like most everyone else, I’ll never say no to a beach vacation in particular. Especially with summer around the corner, getting to go away to Thailand recently and really soak in that heat was everything and made me (and my Vitamin D levels) so happy! I’ve done many a packing list in the past (just see this 3-week carry-on list, my multi-destination list or more destination-specific ones like my Greece or Spain lists for some quick examples!), but haven’t done too many of my essential needs (in other words, my quick go-to checklist of musts for certain types of trips).
MY BEACH ESSENTIALS | With Shick's Intuition f.a.b. Razor - YouTube
So without further ado, my absolute must-pack, can’t-leave-home-without-them items for a beach vacation! First up, an unbelievable razor—my ancestry is a big mix (Irish, Scottish, English, Polish, etc) but I think it’s the Ukrainian in me that has “blessed” me with quick-growing, dark hair (which set against pale skin at the beginning of a trip really creates a beautiful effect, sigh). I also have really sensitive skin, so shaving every day is out of the question for me. Unless, that is, I have a really amazing razor, one that will keep me stubble-free in the sun so that I can wear all my suits and cute dresses with confidence.
I recently got sent Shick’s new Intuition f.a.b. razor, which is the first razor to shave both front and back—I was blown away. I somehow always miss bits on my ankles and knees (aka the bony areas that are such a struggle to shave), as well as the back of my thighs. I was able to get to everything so easily and literally halved my shaving time while I was away! Just check out the video towards the top of this post to see it in action!
I’m also such a fan of the easy-to-grip handle and seriously moisturizing strips on both ends of the razor—I’ve been in my share of interesting shower set-ups thanks to the massive amounts of travel I do. Whether it was the dark cubicle I had in Santorini once (where I literally could hardly see anything) to the dribbly shower with a leaking shower head in Koh Phi Phi, sometimes shaving on the road can honestly be a safety hazard. Throw in a few nicks and cuts after a haphazard shave and you then also run the risk of getting exposed to an infection, which isn’t usually an immediate concern but after experiencing Songkram (the Thai New Year, an amazingly fun 3-day water fight) where murky water was getting tossed all over me every day, it’s made me very aware that there is potential for an innocent shave with a bad razor to go wrong!
I had literally zero nicks, not to mention it was such a fast process so I had all the more time to get out that day and take a long tail boat out to Railay Beach and soak in the sun with my freshly shaved and silky smooth gams (is there any better feeling than having smooth legs after a few days of stubble?). Learn more about Shick’s new Intuition f.a.b. razor here!
Other than a killer razor, it’s so key to me to have a really amazing, big sun hat that will keep my face covered while also protecting me from heat exhaustion (or stroke, which I had once in Greece and will ensure I never have again because it was such a terrible experience). Especially for a humid location, I also make sure I have a cute bandana that I could wear around my neck but that I ordinarily double up as a quick headband or hair tie to keep my hair off my neck, so essential for staying cool and from keeping your hair from looking like you just emerged from the pool!
I’m all about bikinis but if I’m trying to pack light, I pack a sexier one-piece (see this post from earlier this week) that will not only offer a bit more support and coverage to minimize sun damage, but that can double up as a top with shorts, sarong or a skirt thrown overtop, or to be worn underneath a coverup. I also love a roomy basket bag to throw your towel, sunscreen and snacks in—so beachy and I love how these transition so well to my style at home when worn with denim cut-off’s and a tee!
Finally, some oversized sunnies not only protect me from the sun but also add a dose of style to my whole look, and also cover up if I have travel-induced bags under my eyes. I can’t get enough of a more dramatic cat-eye silhouette which also suits my oval face but if I could pull them off, I’d be all over a more strong square shape too! And it goes without saying but a ton of sunscreen too—I usually pack travel size ones just to get me through the first day (since I always do carry-on packing) and will get a really high grade, full bottle of SPF. This last trip was 110! Serious skin saver.
What do you guys always pack for your beach vacations? Tell me in the comments below!
This post was created in partnership with Shick but all opinions are my own.
I feel like it’s been forever since I’ve shared any of my go-to beauty faves or beauty looks but I’ve had a few requests on Insta lately for my natural beauty look (which is honestly really the only “beauty look” I have) so wanted to update you guys on what I’ve been using, how I’ve been applying and most importantly, because of my busy travel schedule, how these have all been selected to transition from my life at home, my gym bag to my travel bag! The older I get, the less I look for travel-specific or situation-specific pieces in general, I want everything I have to be easy to take with me and to really just simplify my life down to one beauty bag! Scroll down to discover my take-everywhere, super-effective and (most importantly) beautiful fave products!
First of all, especially because I honestly can’t be bothered to spend more than 15 minutes getting ready, I make sure both my skin and hair are well looked after at Glow Therapy and Vanilla Loft (with Chris Weber) respectively so that I don’t have to do as much grooming/beautifying day-to-day (honestly, just because I’m super lazy). I trust both Amanda (at Glow) and Chris (at Vanilla) implicitly when they give me recommendations too – all my skin products, hair products and even some of my new beauty faves were recommended by these two geniuses!
Amanda recently got me on the Glo Skin Beauty train, which she sells at Glow Therapy (a branding match made in heaven) and I am obsessed. Their Pressed Base is my fave foundation I’ve ever gotten. It’s got so much coverage so a little goes a long way, but most importantly, it’s not chalky and super natural. I love a pressed base for travelling because you don’t have to include it in your liquids, and travel also results in a lot of sweating, grime, etc. I find a powder is the way to go for travels, as long as it’s not a fragile compact (this one is super durable fortunately!). I just dust it around my nose and chin, quickly over my eyes and if needed, a quick dusting on my forehead. I leave my cheeks alone so that my natural colour comes through and so that it allows for some dewiness too.
Also from Glow Therapy’s Glo selection is one of my daily go-to lip tones: their Cream Glaze Lip Crayon in Heirloom! I used to do a bold lip a lot more but all I want these days is a natural lip. I also never really got into the matte craze because I don’t like anything that looks drawn on – I want a really sensual, dewy lip. I’m obsessed with this tone, it is literally the perfect daytime colour! Again, a perfect option for travelling because it doesn’t get put into your liquids quota and it’s super sleek to travel with (and you don’t need perfect application like you would with a lipstick). I also love Fresh’s lip balms, have Tulip (more pigmented) and Rosé (more sheer) that are always in my bag.
My go-to for years has been Charlotte Tilbury‘s Beach Stick in Las Salinas. It matches my cheeks after a workout really well and feel so natural, plus it imparts a little shimmer too! I’m obsessed with it, and yet again, a super durable one to pack! Also for my cheeks (and brow bones) is Milk Makeup‘s Holographic Stick in Golden Peach. I love how tiny it is, how little product you need and I find it’s a really natural highlighter. I get a lot of DM’s about my natural beauty look and my biggest secret is highlighter – I wear it every day. It makes all the difference in elevating your look and if you’re someone who similarly thinks a natural glowy look is the ultimate in beauty, then you absolutely need a good highlighter (or two, or three). Again, not liquid and super compact so amazing for travelling!
I don’t really wear eyeshadow and most days I don’t do anything with my eyes (especially if I got my lashes lifted and tinted, one of my fave natural beauty hacks!) but I have to do my eyebrows. I have brown hair but it’s on the lighter side, plus I don’t have much colour in my lips and my eyes are light green. If I don’t do my brows, I feel like my face just looks a bit faded and undefined, unless I’m tan! Benefit’s brow products continue to be faves of mine, and Goof Proof Brow Pencil has been my go-to for years. I also love NYX’s Micro Brown Pencil for an affordable drugstore option. If I wear mascara, if I’m home I wear L’Oreal‘s Lash Paradise (again, an amazing drugstore option!) but if I’m travelling, I always pack this mini Charlotte TilburyLegendary Lashes mascara – it’s amazing! Again, all of these products are super compact, sleek and pack really well for travel too!
Finally, if I’m going to do anything on my eyes, I love Kjaer Weis’ natural products. I have this Pretty Purple shade that just makes my green eyes pop a bit more and I’ll literally just smudge a bit along my top lash line – they honestly last forever, so while it’s pricier I appreciate that it’s natural and that it lasts a long time! Sometimes I do a cream pencil in brown (wear Charlotte Tilbury‘s Rock ‘n’ Kohl in Barbarella Brown) and literally just messily pencil some in along my top lash line then blend in with a brush until it’s super diffused – usually I just skip any eye definition though!
Last thing! I actually couldn’t find it for these shots but I live for my bronzer. I’ve been wearing Too Faced‘s Chocolat Soleil bronzer for years and years, it’s my fave and smells like chocolate! It’s not the best tone for paler skin types (though they have tons of other bronzers) but since I pack on the colour in the summer (I swear I wear a ton of sunscreen, my skin just picks up colour really quickly!) it’s my go-to from April onwards. If I’m shooting pictures or just want to elevate my look, I also blend some into my crease and it creates a really subtle but sultry eye definition.
And that’s it! If I’m being honest, this is about as complicated as I’ll ever get with beauty tutorials so if you want something more complex, my girl Jill from The August Diaries has the best beauty tutorials. But this natural look is my fave and super easy to recreate, plus all of these products are so amazing and really perfect for travelling around the world, looking fresh-faced for a spring or summer day at home or as a base for a stronger beauty look! If you guys ever have any other beauty, hair, etc requests, just let me know in the comments below!
Fresh off my Thailand trip and then spending a very sunny couple of days up at my cabin has me dreaming about summertime on repeat, and because summer is my favourite season to dress for and suits are my favourite thing to stock up on, also fantasizing about all the new suits I’ll get! Growing up as a competitive swimmer, I’ve always been really comfortable in a swimsuit – I’m a water baby through and through and quite frankly, it’s a relief as an hourglass shape to not have clothes because it’s not always the easiest body type to dress. Swimsuits are just easy for me, and definitely what I feel most comfortable and confident in.
Having said that, there is one part about swimsuit shopping I struggle with. I’ve talked about my challenges dressing a large chest before (see this post for more details!) – as a 30F, I literally can’t find my size most places and so bra shopping is a pain in my ass to the highest degree. While bikinis are really easy (I just find ones that can tie in the back [i.e. not the clasp types, so annoying] so I can adjust it to my rib cage then usually get the biggest actual cup size possible to cover my tatas), one-pieces have presented a bit of a challenge for me. If it fits the rest of my body, my boobs are usually nearly exploding out of the top of the suit or getting really smushed (super flattering).
To simplify everything and actually own one-piece suits that not only fit, but that are sexy and stylish, I’ve learned to trust a few brands over the years that somehow offer lots of support and customization so that even if I’m online shopping, I’m safe! This ViX Indigo Drape Suit (which you can actually wear un-crisscrossed in the front, I just find it gives a bit of extra support) was one of my faves all last year – I love how the navy tone looks amazing with all skin tones (i.e. a bit more forgiving earlier on in the summer than a stark white suit with my pale pre-summer skin, and super pretty once I’m bronzed!). Super obsessed with this other solid from ViX too, and just a side note that I swear by their bikinis – they are so comfy and their sizing is so much more accurate than a lot of other brands! This is a snap of one of their bikinis that I love.
Of course, if you guys have been following me for any length of time then you probably know of my obsession for BECCA Swim too. They’re likely my first go-to for all swimwear (I find them at Nordstrom here in Canada!), especially their one-pieces because they almost all come with the thoughtful addition of a strap in the back that you can adjust. For people like me who are proportionally a lot smaller around their waist than their chest, this is a God send! I’ve worn their Show & Tell one-piece (on sale now in navy!) repeatedly – just see it here, here and here! Before taking off to Thailand, I knew I needed another BECCA piece (also have a few of their bikinis, just a touch obsessed) – their Color Splash Off-the-Shoulder one-piece got packed ASAP and I wore it almost every opportunity I could get (you can see it here and here). I could go on and on about how much I love their suits – they’re so sexy and chic, but they are seriously supportive! And durable – I put my suits through a lot because I’m always throwing myself off a boat, diving in the water or scaling rocks and these babies last like crazy.
I have so many other BECCA pieces linked below but also need to shout out Monday Swimwear – I love Tash Oakley and Devin Brugman and especially love that Devin has similar proportions to me and manages to kill it in the bathing suit and style area all the time. They recently came out with their new sizing that’s specifically designed for busty girls and I am 100% buying one before the summer starts (dying over the ivory tone!).
Finally, my lovely friend and photographer Ainsley (who snapped these pics!) has an amazing recycled swimsuit line called Londre Bodywear which is blowing up. You may have seen it on Kaitlyn Bristowe in almost every one of her vacay snaps and you’ll be seeing it all over the place over the course of this summer. I have The Multiway and it’s so perfect for a sexier piece for bustier ladies (while The Minimalist is amazing for small-medium chest sizes, though The Multiway is amazing for all types).
Some last tips/recap points: look for one-pieces that have straps you can tie up in the back, that offer in-suit shelf support, that have durable, thicker compression fabric (like this suit I’m wearing here, which features cups and is compressive) and keep an eye out for one-pieces that have bustier chest sizes (so the you don’t have to size the whole suit up and have the rest of the suit bag out on you!). I say this on every chest story (starting to questions why I have so many but you guys have asked for more!): upper body strength training is key for me not only keeping everything “up,” but most importantly, for my back health! You’ll not only look and feel better but you’ll keep that pain at bay and not have to rely on uncomfortable, heavy-duty straps that dig in. I have a really amazing, minimal-equipment workout that has lots of great upper body building that you can do at home, the gym, etc here! Seriously, back pain is no stranger to me and also no joke and keeping your upper body strong will only help your lower back pain and keep that annoying aching in your shoulders at bay (or at least minimize it) too!
Shop more of my picks below! Seriously, these have all been vetted and approved – they’ll be your best friends this summer and depending on where you are, will double up as tops too!
As I’m writing this, I literally just tweaked my back yesterday pretty badly during a workout (just happens to me every once in awhile, have some annoying alignment issues and back problems that I just have to live with and work around)—ordinarily, I’d do whatever I could to loosen up the spasming and settle it down but usually the next morning I’d have to work out some additional kinks from sleeping. With our old mattress, there’d be a pretty deep valley right in the centre of it that would pull me in every night, twisting up my already poor little back even more. Fortunately, with our Canadian-made Endy mattress now, things are different.
I went to bed a bit earlier just because I needed to lie down and let it all settle down and woke up this morning to my back actually feeling better for an earlier lie-down—something I used to never experience! Endy’s amazing unique open air cell structure helps your muscles actually unwind properly, so even if you toss and turn a bit because of pain, your body is supported throughout the night. It also helps back pain wise in general that you don’t even have to lug the mattress in to begin with—it’s delivered in a compact box straight to your place (so whether you’re an urban dweller like me at the top of a complex with no elevators or in a rural location, you’re covered!) and unboxing and putting it in your bed frame is such a breeze!
As we’re coming to the end of our 100-day trial period (you get 100 days to try out the mattress—if it’s not for you, you can send it back for a full refund, though I have a feeling it’s for just about everyone) so wanted to share some more of my thoughts and experiences! I also managed to get the elusive Matty in one picture and to get his thoughts before he took off for Austin, which was important to me because while I was more focused on injury prevention/pain management and whether the mattress would be any help for me in that area (and it seriously has), I’m actually a pretty good, deep sleeper. Matt, on the other hand, can be pretty restless and is a very light sleeper. He’ll often toss and turn, waking himself up—while we’ve been checking in throughout the whole trial period and raving along the way (goes without saying that he’s a big fan too!), wanted to get his final thoughts.
He mentioned he loves the texture—it’s firm though it has a little cushiness (so you get that nice aaaaaahhhh feeling as you unwind into it, but it’s extremely supportive). It also has a distinct lightness to it—it doesn’t feel like spongy memory foam or like your body is being constricted at all. It’s just the right amount of give to feel comfortable and to allow for easy movement while sleeping (without waking you up, most importantly). One of my best friends got the mattress too and loves a firm mattress and she’s been so happy with this—I usually prefer the softer ones, so it somehow strikes that perfect golden balance. Matt also mentioned that as far as his usually-frequent wake-ups, he’s been sleeping so much more consistently through the night and that he feels better and faster recovery between his workouts.
For me, this is the first time as I mentioned above that sleeping actually helps with my chronic back pain. When my back was really bad (i.e. a period a couple years ago when I was on the ground for a month, unable to walk or do anything) I’d always feel worse in the morning, which was part of the reason my recovery would take longer. Now, my sleeps actually rejuvenate me, and when I do hurt my back I find I feel better in the AM’s after stretching out on my Endy overnight. Anyone who deals with chronic pain will seriously benefit—it’s a big thing for me since I’m so active but also have pretty much lifelong issues with my back, so I can’t stress enough how great it’s been for me.
While I’m a deep and overall really good sleeper too, Matt’s 5AM workouts would sometimes put a dent in my sleep quality. Now he just skulks out in the morning and I sleep right through it—the bouncing of him getting out of bed used to sometimes wake me up and I tell you, it would make me reeeeeally mad. I feel like in a roundabout way, this has actually helped improve our relationship as a bit of a trickle-down effect from the mattress really keeping potentially sleep-damaging movement and bouncing at bay thanks to its no motion transfer design.
If you guys are thinking about investing in an Endy mattress, now that our trial is done I can firmly and confidently say I give it my 100% approval rating and would really recommend going for it. The best part is that if for whatever reason it’s not for you, you have 100 days to really give it a try and get used to it! To sweeten the deal even more, here’s a code that’ll score you $50 off any size mattress: VOGUE50. Head on over to Endy to learn more and if you’re going to invest in one for your space, make sure you use the code to shave $50 off your price!
This post was created in partnership with Endy but all opinions are my own.
Before I took off to Thailand, I did literally a day-of-flight mini shopping haul—the kind of magical shopping trip where you’re literally spotting perfect pieces, grabbing things off the hangers and somehow everything fits perfectly once you get to finally try on at your destination (I’m supremely lazy about trying on in-store). I wasn’t even planning on shopping that day and then after working like crazy all day, something came over me and all of a sudden I found myself making the short walk up to South Granville! Like the fashion gods were directing me intuitively or something, especially when I was skipping on by the Free People windows and literally just took their last set in my size of this beautiful Pretty Dayz set that was on the mannequin in the display (wearing a S here, fits pretty true to size but could size down in the skirt especially).
Anyway, in addition to this beautiful yellow dress I wore in this Insta, my new fave Faithfull dress (wearing this again on the blog soon) and the basket bag I’ve been asked about a million times in this Insta, my vacay wardrobe was complete and it was the best feeling—I don’t always shop for every trip, but especially for sunny destinations, something often comes over me and I just want new dresses to feel really excited about. I have to say this set came in especially handy for me though and quickly became a fave, plus it really sparked a love for these beautiful retro matching sets, which is what today’s post is all about!
What I loved while travelling was that while it was amazing to get to wear them together as intended, both the top and bottom came in handy for different legs of the trip—I threw an oxford shirt over the set when we went to visit temples one day (an airy maxi skirt is the best option for these types of days, especially in hot destinations like Thailand or Italy in the summer, and if you have an oversized top it’s super easy to just toss it on top!) and the top I wore with some high-waisted shorts when I was doing a day of popping in and out of the beach/pool and wanted to still sun a bit.
What I love about falling for a new piece while travelling is that it usually gets you super excited to style it again when you get home to bring back those vacay pieces—it’s been seriously warming up here in Van this week (currently upstairs on my patio in a tank top, soaking in the sunshine—hello summer!) so this was the perfect little petal pink set to accent the cherry blossoms that are popping up everywhere (see this guide for the best places to spot them in Vancouver).
While this particular tone is probably a bit too light to be wedding-apropos (though it comes in red and copper too, kind of thinking I need the red especially), I feel like a matching set like this is the perfect switch-up for a summer wedding too. I get tired of wearing the same kind of dresses year after year (and year after year, we always have a bazillion weddings so need a bazillion dresses to go with each one, or just get super lazy and start rewearing them to pieces). I love how fresh a matching set is, especially if you go for gold with a set that has chic pants like this Palermo Set from Free People that I am pretty much going to need to buy, plus it looks like it’s selling out soon!
After my amazing Faithfull experience (another piece I’ve already reworn since I’ve been home, so cute but most importantly so cozy), I’m also all over this adorable smocked set in red—how cute would this be for a wedding? Plus both the top and skirt could be worn a million times with different pieces—CPW (cost per wear) people! These sets are not only so on-trend, but seriously strategic pieces too.
Other than waltzing among the cherry blossoms, I’ve just been catching up on life the past week or so since I’ve been home and of course, as soon as I start getting back into a groove back at home, I like to book another trip for like, 2 weeks from now just to keep me on my toes. Off to Amsterdam to visit my older sister soon and then somewhere I’ve never been before: Prague! So unbelievably excited to visit a place I’ve always dreamt of going to. You’ll have to give me tips if you’ve ever been before!
In the meantime, find more of my fave sets that I’ll most likely be adding to my closet this summer—happy shopping!
I recently found a goal sheet of mine from a few years ago right before I went full-time with TVOB and was still working 9-to-5 for another job. My main career goal was to be a full-time blogger and travelling the world for work—I feel beyond grateful that this dream of mine somehow came true and that I get to do this now for a living! One thing I was noticing though here and there last year was that because of the pace of my travel, sometimes I’d get overwhelmed, exhausted and caught up in the work component, despite this being literally a dream come true for me. I feel like travel is exhausting enough as it is for anyone so I don’t feel like I need to beat myself up about these momentary feelings of stress, but it did make me want to take a proactive approach to my next adventures so that I was really taking every trip in in the most mindful, present way possible!
On this last trip to Thailand, I really practiced these 5 mindfulness tricks coming up and it honestly made for a much more rich trip, one where I really feel like I had all my senses firing and very clear memories to come home with. So whether you’re a frequent flier, an anxious traveller or someone who just wants richer travel experiences, here are my tried-and-tested 5 tips for mindful travel!
Keep a gratitude diary
I love Five Minute Journal for on-the-road mindfulness and gratitude. What I especially love about it is that you’re not only jotting down what you’re grateful for on a given day, but also taking stock of amazing things that happened that day, specific ways to make your day better and you can also include a photo so that you have a strong visual connection to the day! I love reviewing my entries on the flight home to remember my amazing trip in such a beautiful, meaningful and positive way.
Bring a travel journal
You can do it on your phone, on your laptop or make like I did and bring an actual notebook. For me, the act of physically writing is very therapeutic so I always opt for a real journal or notebook, but this was my first time bringing a travel journal and it honestly made for such a special experience. Not only did it make me really recall each day in vivid memory and recap it for future reference, but I found that during the trip, I took more stock of each experience, remembering I’d want to jot it down later. It also helped me frame any hiccups along the way and add a fresh perspective to them rather than just letting them bug me (like this most recent time on my birthday I had a bad reaction to my curry and had to spend the night in clutching my tummy, which is kind of funny now that I’ve written it all down).
It can be hard to meditate every day for 15 minutes the way you might when you’re home, but whether you download a meditation for the plane, take the opportunity to meditate when you’re in transit in your destination, a little meditation while relaxing on the beach or even down a wind-down meditation at night to help you sleep, meditation will help you bring your whole nervous system down and relax into the moment. However you can sneak it in, try to get in even a few minutes a day to reset your system! If you need any tips, I have a whole guide here but love Headspace for meditation too!
I’m not talking about the 5-second rule that I talked about here, but about a 5-senses system that helps you reground yourself in moments of overwhelm, anxiety or even if you’re just really trying to imprint a memory. Take into account 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can feel, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. This helps ground you in every moment, whether it’s a good one or one that feels a bit stressful. I personally do it a lot in both instances—in the moments when I’m maybe nearing a low blood sugar attack after hours on the road (happens to me on every trip somehow and always makes me feel panicked) or when I’m trying to remember a particularly beautiful sunset, like the one I took in from our boat gliding along in Thailand.
While this could go the other way as far as loading you up with overwhelm and stress if you’re desperately trying to get a shot for the ‘gram, I’d really encourage you to instead try to engage creatively with wherever you are and capture it with whatever camera you have. Not only does this make you take stock of everything around you, but in capturing different angles, views and details of each spot you’re in, you’re really creating a stronger memory too. The point is to have fun and get creative! Grab a shot of locals laughing in Thailand, of beautiful tile work in Portugal, of a sweeping Tuscan landscape, of the perfect croissant in Paris, etc, etc. The point is to just transcribe your memories in an authentic way visually. I have some tips for shooting in crowded places here (so that you minimize that stress and can get creative easily!), my 8 main tips for mastering travel photography and also my total comprehensive guide here!
What do you guys do to really immerse yourself in your travel experiences? Tell me in the comments below!
If you haven’t read my California road trip itinerary posts yet (Part 1 from LA to San Luis Obispo here, Part 2 from Carmel to Capitola here), then make sure you give them a quick read-through before diving into this feast (see what I did there) for the eyes. We literally ate so much in California that when we came home, I had to wean myself off of my 5-6 meal a day habit back down to my usual 3 (my friends can attest to several hangry episodes during this dark period). It’s just that when I travel, and especially when I travel with Matt, we love to just eat everything we can and really experience the place we’re at. And I was so surprised by how much there was to love (and of course, eat) in Cali—it was literally a foodie’s paradise. So without further ado, here are some of my fave places we noshed at from LA all the way up to northern Cali!
As I mentioned in my earlier Cali posts, I didn’t actually get too much time in LA because I was there for work but got to experience two really amazing spots (more on the second one in, well, a second), with the first being Alfred Tea Room. It’s a decidedly ‘grammable place and I was worried that was all it had to offer but the tea was actually amazing and sure, it was super cute in there too! I was told repeatedly that Gracias Madre was an unreal place to go though so next time I’m visiting, I’ll be bee-lining it there!
Venice is in particular a foodie haven. We kicked off the first leg of our trip in Venice and kept coming back to Abbott Kinney for amazing food during our short little stay there. The first unreal spot was The Butcher’s Daughter, which was not only amazing food (I got the veggie burger and it was unbelievable!), but also such a cool vibe, decor and ambience. We had dinner later on at Gjelina which was so good—think local, eclectic and refined fare. This was what we deemed as our “anniversary dinner” since we were celebrating ten years together around this time, and it was definitely a good romantic spot for it.
I always have a running and at-times changing list of places I could see myself living and Malibu is easily topping it right now (just need a few million dollars more to my name). I was told repeatedly from a ton of you that I needed to eat at Malibu Farms and lemme tell you, you guys didn’t overhype it. It was so good and such a great place to get breakfast before we took off for our road trip! While I was with my INFINITI group, I also got to stop by Nobu which was an absolute dream. The most amazing fresh seafood, sushi—agh it was amazing. And that view!!! I could honestly stay there all day.
We made our way up to Santa Barbara and had the most amazing time taking in the pier, wandering around town and popping in and out of shops. Matt had heard of Julia Child’s favourite restaurant, a little teeny-tiny, unpretentious authentic taco shop called La Super-Rica Taqueria. It was so good and such a nice experience (and super easy on the wallet!) to just pop a seat at one of the benches and try out a ton of their amazing Mexican dishes. A must!
Admittedly we kinda just stopped in at Pismo Beach and took a quick walk, but serendipitously I really had to pee and was having a full blown meltdown (there’s always at least one on a road trip) and as a result, we ran (literally ran) to the nearest cafe we could find. And that’s how we found Old West Cinnamon Rolls! After I’d, well, handled the situation, I came out to find Matt with coffees and a big steamy, sticky cinnamon roll. It was a dream—one of the best cinnamon buns I’ve ever had! Love the homey quality here. Pismo Beach was one of my favourite places I’ve ever been so if I ever get a chance to redo this area, I’ll be spending a lot more time here and will hopefully have even more dining recos!
San Luis Obispo
After Pismo Beach, we made the very short trip out to San Luis Obispo, or SLO for short. It was a beautiful sunny California day and we wanted to make the most out of it so made an effort to eat outside as much as possible. We absolutely lovedScout Coffee, which I got as a recommendation from one of you! Such cool ambience and the coffee was amazing. We then had the BBQ meal to end all meals at Firestone Grill, which Matt was very insistent we eat at. I’m usually not a huge BBQ fan but it was amazing, and I loved that there were veggie or fish options for vegetarians or pescatarians.
Carmel was such a dream (just see more snaps of it here!)—it’s definitely a hotspot for tourists both from abroad and local Californians visiting, so tons amazing good options! We had the most incredible Mexican ever at Cultura Comida y Bebida—from the most unbelievable margaritas to chapulines (aka grasshoppers eek!—I could only have one, Matt really championed this one!) to the most amazing queso fundido, it was one of our favourite meals of the whole trip. We also had two great breakfasts in Carmel before taking off for two separate days of exploring: the most unreal pancakes I’ve ever had other than my daddy-o’s at cozy Katy’s Place, and a super hearty breakfast at From Scratch, which was on our personal hero Guy Fieri’s show Diners, Drive-In’s & Dives so clearly we had to visit. Was the perfect big meal to fuel us for a day of exploring Big Sur! And on that note…
We were told repeatedly we had to eat at Nepenthe for their famous burgers and despite the unbelievable wait (which I’m sure was longer than usual because we were there on a holiday weekend in the States and it was a Saturday!), it was so worth it. My tip is to just get your name in ASAP and have your buzzer on you then order a snack and drink from the bar to take to the beautiful bench seating towards the back of the restaurant while you wait—it’ll feel like no time before you’re called up with this unbelievable view to take in! And then yes, you have to order the burger (so long as you’re not a veggie) because it is worth all the hype!
We heard really great things about Alvarado Street Brewery so hung out there for a casual linner (lunch-dinner) after having a massive breakfast in Carmel on one of our last days. Loved the big brewery vibes and as a beer lover, so cool to try some of the local samplings! We also went to El Torito for happy hour since Matt has a bazillion memories of this place from his years as youngun growing up in California and while the ambience was definitely super casual and it’s a chain, for some quick and easy Mexican and cocktails at a great price, it was a great option!
Of course, anything that seems to be missing meal-wise here (whether it was a dinner or lunch) was taken care of by In-n-Out. I didn’t really know it’d be that good—I usually am more of the “eat tons of greens, get my healthy fats and lean proteins in” type of girl because I care about my health and all that but we don’t have In-n-Out anywhere near us here in Vancouver so I just don’t care that I ate there like 4 times in one week. In fact, I’m semi-proud of the fact (semi- something else too, whether that’s residual indigestion, shame, etc). Nothing a ton of pilates and green smoothies can’t fix when I got home so if you’re visiting, you gotta do it! My fave little add-on’s from the “secret” menu were doing a mustard-grilled patty and adding peppers in! SO good!
I went away this long weekend to my cabin and it was heaven. Sunny every day, warm enough to sit outside and soak up the sun—it honestly made me so happy and it finally felt like what seems to have been the longest winter ever is finally wrapping up! Not to mention that when I came home yesterday to another beautiful sunny day I was out biking home from Dailey and saw flowers everywhere I went so yeah…spring is here!
I shared a couple weeks ago how florals work so effortlessly into winter-spring transition style—while a breezy, airy print like this camisole works well with darker olive tones, I love going for a moodier, darker floral like this stunning Madewell dress. With a burnt orange and cream floral print against navy, it’s literally the perfect colour palette for all the ankle boots and moto jackets we’re bringing in from winter.
I’m so ecstatic to finally be in moto jacket only weather rather than the puffy parkas I’ve been relying on for so long. This suede beauty was a fave from last year but I love this one—under $50 too! Suede is such a great spring option but I also wear my Mackage leather jacket all the time and it’s such a good transitional piece.
All you need accessory-wise is ankle boots and an oversized bag (stuffed with a scarf juuuust in case it starts getting a wee bit chilly). I’ve also been wearing these sunnies on repeat, by Aussie label Quay! Love that they’re at such a good price-point, such a good alternative to my usual Celines.
In other news, I’m so excited to take off to Thailand later on this week! I’ve never been to Asia at all and I’m so excited to have a whole new travel adventure—I feel like this is going to be such an amazing experience, especially now that I’ve finally gotten all my last to-do’s ticked off (vaccinations and the like!). Have you guys ever been? Tell me any tips you have in the comments below, would so appreciate it!
I feel like after the rush of award ceremonies and taking in really epic movies, I get this craving for two things: 1) light sitcoms (looking at you The Mindy Project, my current new go-to) and 2) documentaries. Documentaries can of course still be heavier or cover really important topics, but I just like that it’s a change of pace and a different format than movies—I love how I always come away with a new insight or information, and some of them have even been pretty life changing for me.
As I mentioned in my last post, I’m so excited that Shaw has recently incorporated Netflix into their amazing BlueSky TV service. I’ve been using BlueSky TV for a couple years now and it’s rapidly become an obsession in our household—from Matt-friendly series like The Voice to me binging on Real Housewives or Vanderpump Rules when he’s gone (or otherwise occupied, he refuses to watch either), it’s as easy as holding down the mic button on the remote and saying whatever show you’re craving to get taken directly to your heart’s desire (which for me is more Erika Jayne and/or Blake Shelton, always). Now with BlueSky TV’s Netflix integration, you can do the exact same to cruise through all Netflix’s offerings.
So without further ado, these are my 5 all-time fave documentaries that are currently up on Netflix. They’re specific to my tastes obviously but I feel like you can watch just about any doc on Netflix and not be disappointed—even if one proves not to be an absolute fave of mine, I still always have some sort of takeaway.
Okay, so this one’s a bit of a weird pick but trust me, it’s really interesting. Matt’s always been really fascinated/obsessed with Arnold Schwarzenegger (which I find mildly concerning), a love that’s only been amplified by the fact that they share the same birthday so Matt thinks they’re kindred spirits. On his urging, I finally watched it and was really surprised by how much I like it. From an athletic/achievement standpoint, it’s pretty remarkable to see what he sets his mind to and ultimately accomplishes. He’s arrogant beyond belief and I feel so bad for poor Lou Ferrigno in the doc (though things have turned out pretty well for The Hulk), but it’s ultimately just a really fun watch.
I’ve always been so fascinated by Iris Apfel—you can’t work in or love fashion and not have come across this style icon at some point. Even in photos alone, you can just tell that she knows who she is and her style is always such an amazing thing to take in. What I didn’t know until I watched this doc though is just how fascinating she is as a person, and how much wisdom she has to impart. At 93, she’s got more life, energy and passion than most 30-year-olds. Do yourself a favour and watch this and soak in all the Iris gems.
Man on Wire
Typically, my fave type of documentaries, books, movies, etc. are all about someone pushing their boundaries physically and mentally—whether it’s one of my all-time faves McConkey about BASE jumper and pro skier Shane McConkey (sadly not on Netflix anymore, or at least not in Canada!) or Man on Wire, about Philippe Petit, a high-wire artist who crossed the distance between the Twin Towers on a tight line, these just always endlessly inspire me. Petit is so charismatic and it’s so cool to see this whole experience told by him—it’s definitely a must watch!
This was one that really changed a lot for me. The one thing I care most about is marine life—it’s a deep passion of mine and privately, most of my donations and support go to organizations that support it (though maybe this is something I should start doing more publicly if I can find a little home for it on TVOB!). The fact that there is a lot of inhumane treatment of these magical creatures in many aquariums around the world (though not all, a lot are doing some great work too) is something we likely all have known about for a while, but Blackfish uncovered so much more that I didn’t know about and really deeply disturbed me. I don’t want to give away too much but watch it with an open mind and prepare to come back a little bit changed.
This is a more recent one, but I’ve seen it about 3 times and still haven’t tired of it. Without giving too much away, it started off as basically a sports documentary looking into the real-life repercussions and effects of doping athletically, and then it takes a totally insane turn into real-life political drama and you find yourself starting to cheer for a very unlikely hero. It’s incredible. I feel like the twists and turns in it are so good that I don’t want to give away too much, but please watch it! Was so happy when it won an Oscar this year for Best Documentary.
My BlueSky TV has been getting quite a workout lately as I’ve been binging on these and other new docs—I can’t wait to share more of my faves soon. I feel like I discover a new one every month or so! And on that note, a couple other honourable mentions are Twinsters and Happy—both seriously feel good options!
Learn more about Shaw’s amazing BlueSky TV service here!
You guys! It may be slow coming in, but spring is truly officially here. I know this to be a fact because this last weekend Kat and I decided to just see if we could spot one or two cherry blossom trees and ended up finding a little explosion of them in Kits in a few block radius (near the Planetarium, if you’re interested!). They’re kinda slow blooming this year since we had such a long/cold winter (seriously, it’s freezing out there lately—hard to believe two weeks ago I was suntanning up on my patio, the weather’s taken such a turn!), but just catching sight of a cluster of them at least made me so happy. If you want to know all my favourite places for bloom sightings, check out last year’s post where I round up my favourite spots! They’ll all be in full bloom by the end of April for sure!
One thing I love about these soft, very faintly pink ones though is that from a purely fashion-driven standpoint, they act as the perfect background for my fave colour combo come spring: olive green and barely-there blush. I shared last week how I was eager to try some of Sincerely Jules’ beautiful pieces from her own line (I styled up this dreamy camisole, obsessed with it!) and this Samantha Top was one I was eager to work into a springy look. I actually am lacking some good basic blouses and this one is already a quick fave thanks to its airy blush tone and delicate detailing—it also goes perfectly with a few of my other current go-to spring pieces.
This Revolve trench (sadly sold out but this is a similar one for under $100!) has been a fave for a couple years—you can see how I styled it last year here and here! Olive green and blush are a colour combo we find in nature all the time (think of florals!) so I feel like it’s a really natural transitional pairing as we slowly get into spring! Picking up on the soft tones of the blush with a bandana scarf by Madewell (seriously so obsessed with this piece, excited to play around with it more!) and nude Ted Baker pumps keeps that soft vibe going. I also got these Madewell cat-eye sunnies for Cali (currently on sale PS!) and have been seriously in love with its femme shape—love how it warms up this whole look slightly!
Of course, it is still super chilly out here (somewhat depressingly) so anchoring the look with some black Alissa skinny jeans by Mavi (wore these last week too, so obsessed!) keeps the whole outfit still in that one-foot-in, one-foot-out territory we kind of have to dance in until the mercury rises. Depending on how chilly it is, you could also opt for some black Chelsea boots or something a bit sturdier footwear-wise to keep your toesies warm.
My ever-present Leah Alexandra combo of my gold locket and dainty star necklace is of course also on—I love how you can stack on your necklaces with bandana scarves to create a seriously cool layering effect! I share more about how I love to style Leah’s pieces over in this post so ICYMI, check it out here.
Speaking of all things spring, I’m so excited to go away for Easter long weekend at my cabin this weekend. I feel like it’s been such a busy period, winter’s really dragged on and of course, dreaded tax season is upon us so I’m really craving a little decompressing time with some of my fave people at one of my fave places. I shared this weekend how I’m off to Thailand in early April so I want to just wrap up any loose ends and make sure I’m all rest and relaxed before I take off (though from what I’ve heard, Thailand will take care of any other relaxation I’m due!). Have you guys been before? Tell me in the comments below!