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.
Sleeping used to not always be such an easy thing for me—as a lifetime night owl, I’d struggle with winding down at night and used to get really anxious about falling asleep (creating a cyclical issue of trying to wind down and get sleepy, only making myself more alert). Over the years and especially over the last 5 years, I’ve managed to really fine-tune a few strategies so that now, I can wind down easily, get a seriously sound 8 hours of shut eye every night and best of all, I actually love sleeping and look forward to getting into bed every night! So without further ado, my top 5 sleeping tips for getting better quality z’s are…
Get a quality mattress & pillows
This one is key—while I manage to sleep pretty well most everywhere, my sleep was seriously elevated when we got our Endy mattress & pillows in. I have a lot of back issues and with our old mattress, we were literally rolling into the middle of our bed every night (and I’m a side sleeper so I was starting to get all these kinks and aches from straining against gravity). Both the pillows and mattress have memory foam which has been absolutely key for us, and the firmness is perfection—firm but with a nice cushy give. I literally look forward to rolling in every night!
I take magnesium powder every night, which helps me unwind and helps my muscles relax (if you’re sensitive to the powder [it can upset the belly a bit if you’re prone to more loose BM’s], you can get the same magnesium benefits from an epsom salt bath). I’ll also sometimes take Ashwagandha if I’ve been stressed—you can play around with different adaptogens to see what works for you but I like having something natural that can help me unwind! Another big one for me is Sleepytime Tea (either the classic or the Extra with Valerian Root)—I take it every night and usually only get through half a cup before I start dozing off, the smell and taste has such an immediate association with sleep for me that it immediately signals to my brain to start getting shut-eye!
And on that note, I harness the power of scent by using not only my Saje AromaTime Diffuser (which you can program to go off at a certain time every night and morning, helping me both wind down and wake up easily!), but I also like to spritz some of K’pure’s Settle Down essential oil spray on my pillows (Matt insist on me misting it over his face, he’s obsessed) which has already become such a big sleep signal for me! The second I snuggle into my pillow the scent lifts up in the air and it’s so calming.
Pick the right book
I used to read a lot of self-help or entrepreneurial books right before bed and then found I either couldn’t put it down or it had my mind going too much. Same thing goes for any thriller or crime books—I would get so caught up in the storyline or legit get scared about an axe murderer coming into my room that I couldn’t fall asleep. Finding the sweet spot was so key for me: a nice fiction read (what some might call a “beach read”) or magazine. Read a chapter or so and I’m out like a lamp. It’s the perfect unwind strategy for me, and I love that it’s one I can take with me travelling if I pack my Kobo. My last fave book was The Summer Before the War.
Track your sleep
This one’s a bit controversial because when I mention my love of my Sleep Cycle app, a lot of people shudder and say there’s nothing they want more than being reminded of how little they sleep. But for me, this has been a game changer because in the app, you can create your own sleep notes (some of mine are Magnesium, Acupuncture, Work Out, Drank Coffee, etc) and you can track what improves your sleep quality and what hurts it. You can also gauge things like air pressure, moon cycle, etc! It’s insane how consistent it’s been for me and I’ve used it for a few years now. I can’t recommend it enough!
Final little bonus tip I’d give is to just have a clean space every day as much as possible—I’m definitely guilty of letting laundry build up, but at the very least having a neatly made bed makes going to sleep so much more serene and restful, and helps instil habit by creating that connection between breaking open the covers and winding down. Oh and last tip – have pieces you love crawling into! I’m obsessed with my girl Leah Alexandra’s robe which is hand-printed and the most beautiful thing ever! It’s the first thing I throw on every morning and if I have a bath, I love wrapping up in it to do my nighttime routine. Also having my Saje eye mask, really soft and cozy PJ’s and soft socks are so key for me!
Do you guys have any go-to sleep tips? Would love to hear them!
I mean, there may be snow on the forecast (seriously hoping it’s just a sick joke because that’s so weird for Vancouver and also very uncool) but this girl is pretty excited for spring. And as of yesterday, it technically is spring—hallelujah! If you guys can’t already tell from my frequent Insta Stories in the sunshine, I live for this time of year and for the weather (hopefully) warming up, the sun shining down on us and the flowers blossoming. It’s just such a hopeful and happy part of the year.
As I shared in last week’s culotte outfit post, I want to pull together some of my favourite transitional outfits with my go-to pieces or trends to help ease into the season! This first one up is (surprise surprise) florals! I think my style is femme though I’m not too girly-girl so it may be surprising to learn that this is a fave of mine, but I think florals are just so beautiful and when worn with the right pieces, can be a really functional, easy-to-wear and effortless print.
I’ve been eyeing a lot of Sincerely Jules’ beautiful pieces from her own line so finally decided to take the plunge and order a few things to see how they work. In one word, I was seriously impressed. I loved every single piece I got from hers (highlighting another one of her pieces that I’ve been wearing on repeat in next week’s posts!) but was especially excited to try this beautiful cross-ruffle tank in this delicate floral print. Best of all, it’s on major sale right now too! It’s just the piece to brighten up your winter looks now and come summer, it’ll clearly be worn all the time—perfect with distressed cut-offs or culottes, like last week’s look! One sizing rec: size up if you have a chest. I’m quite big-chested and sized up to a M for this tank—I can only wear it with specific bras because otherwise, it’d be a bit too snug around my bazungas.
My main transitional style tip is to pick just one piece that screams spring (like this beauty camisole) and then work your outfit around it, usually opting for basics, neutrals or more standard pieces. I was so excited to get some more Mavi spring pieces last week because as you guys know, I’m a big loyalist to their skinnies—I especially love their high-waisted offerings, like the Alissa skinny jeans I’m wearing here in this stunning smoke tone (obsessed with the light distressing on them too). I shared last week how I am in love with culottes because of my hourglass shape (they seriously are perfect for all shapes though!) and it’s the same reason I love high-waisted jeans—anything that nips in at the waist is an immediate win for me!
The rest of the outfit is just an exercise in neutrals. I’ve finally done away with my parkas (here’s hoping I don’t regret that decision later this week), all tucked away and compressed in one of those vacuum seal bags that Matt’s obsessed with and seems intent on putting all of my worldly possessions in. In their place are my lighter pieces that I can layer with should the mercury inch down in the thermometer—I’ve worn this Aritzia trench for years and it’s served me so well (though I’m also obsessed with this beauty, under $100 and currently on sale so likely going fast!). I’m just obsessed with the drama of a good trench coat, especially one that’s a bit drapier (not an actual word according to my spell check but you know what I mean). It’s also the perfect foil for a busier print and especially a floral—almost all florals will have some inflection of beige or green in them, so either a camel trench like this one or an olive beauty like the one I featured in last year’s spring transition story will pair perfectly with your floral prints.
Accessories are all about tonality—just pick up on the warmth or coolness of the rest of the look and that’ll be your best indication of where to go (brown, tan, grey, black, etc). I love mixing tones with my bags vs shoes but I have this quasi-belief that you shouldn’t add more than 4 colours to your look (not a standard I strictly adhere to obviously but one I try to work around to make dressing easier) so for this particular look, didn’t mind at all going matchy-matchy with my bag and ankle boots (an older bag from Aritzia [though loving this beauty from Madewell, a brand I’m obsessed with] and similarly older style from Frye [but again, current offering here that happens to be on sale] if you’re wondering).
Top it all off with my current go-to sunnies from Quay (haven’t stopped wearing them since I got them) and some gold jewelry from my girl Leah Alexandra to up the warmth factor and as long as the sun holds out, you’re rocking in a comfy but spring-ready look! Are you guys as excited as me about spring? Please say yes because I feel like I’m getting a bit weird in my hype for it!
I started seeing Chris Weber just under two yeas ago and it’s honestly one of the best things that’s ever happened to me from a beauty perspective. There’s a reason he’s booked up months ahead—he is literally a genius when it comes to hair. Whether it’s the lived in brunette he created for me last fall, this soft, diffused brunette he did for me during our first session or this beautiful sun kissed brunette he did for me when my hair was shorter, each colour is a knockout. But what I love the most is that he’s all about the long game—we build off of each colour to create a more perfected look every time, so that every time I see Chris it’s my “favourite colour ever.” Literally every time!
So it goes without saying that this most recent look is undoubtedly my FAVE ever. The longer my hair gets, the more beachy we keep going—I was off to California a week later and Chris basically created the most beautiful highlighted, blonde-inflected light brunette tone, one that reminded me of what my hair actually naturally does in the summer as it is (both my hair and my skin change like crazy in the sun (lightening up and darkening respectively!).
What I loved is that while I was in Cali, I had like 10 girls come up to me asking who did my hair—I was coming straight from snowy Vancouver so the fact that the Cali locals were seeking out this colour was so cool to me! Of course, they were kind of dejected when I told them Chris was all the way in Vancouver, but to be totally honest, this wouldn’t be the first time he’s had out-of-towners fly in just to see him, from TO to Paris!
I couldn’t be prouder of Chris for setting up his own beautiful salon, Vanilla Loft, in buzzing Lower Lonsdale. We only started collaborating about a couple years ago but even in that short period of time, his career went from already stellar to literally exploding—from doing Lucy Hale’s hair (on famous hair stylist Kristin Ess’s personal recommendation) to opening this beautiful space, it’s just been so amazing to watch him grow.
But onto this stunning salon because oh.my.god.—it’s so stunning! Powder pink with pops of vibrant green and chic black accents, it’s like walking into a dream Pinterest decor board. Chris and his wonderful husband Pat literally worked a miracle design-wise. More excitingly, Chris has been able to expand his team to not only include him (though if you want to book through him [and who doesn’t], you can book through Pat online here!) but several new amazing stylists tooth include Kat and Britt. I’ve seen them both in action and their work is so beautiful.
It’s located right at 3rd and Lonsdale so super easy to get to no matter where in the city you are—to get there myself, I just hop on the Sea Bus because it’s the easiest way to cross over to Lonsdale. In 20-25 minutes from downtown Vancouver, I’m cozied up on the cozy green couch catching up with the team and ready to get my hair seriously elevated.
I could not recommend Chris enough—from his artistry to his mission to educate and empower every single one of his clients, he’s become not only my hair guru but also my friend! Love him! If you want to look into all the services Vanilla Loft offers, you can check it out here and you can lock down an appointment by booking right here! And while you’re at it, you have to check out Chris’ Instagram—it’s seriously off the chain.
I spend so much of my life these days away from home and writing about what to do in the different destinations I visit and for that, I am grateful—it’s such an exciting season of my life, one I know will slow down a bit once we start growing our family so I try to really appreciate and soak in this jet-set period while it lasts! But even with a perpetual state of wanderlust and physically being gone so much, Vancouver is one place I’m always happy to come home to and that still enthrals me to this day, even having lived here all my life!
I may be biased, but I really do think that other than its exorbitant house prices, it’s the one city in the world that truly has everything you could ever want right at its doorstep: a buzzing metropolitan area with some of the best dining (and undoubtedly some of the best sushi) in the world, beaches bordering its downtown core, the False Creek side (where I am) and even all through the North Shore, centuries-old rainforests to get lost in and mountains to adventure on (where I grew up, in Lynn Valley!) whether that’s snowboarding, mountain biking or hiking…the list goes on and on. It’s the perfect nature-lover’s city, and it’s also safe, easy to get around and if it wasn’t already obvious from that exhaustive list of its natural wonders, unbelievably beautiful.
The other thing I love about living here is that the day trip options are endless. Whether I’m off to our second home on the Sunshine Coast, my old uni town of Victoria or historic Fort Langley, there’s so much to see all around us. But of course, one of our most famous local getaways and one that’s really special to me is Whistler, with Squamish en route that is an absolute dream as well.
One absolute must (including visiting all of Whistler and Squamish as well, of course—you can see my Whistler stay at the Fairmont here if you’re looking for ideas about where to stay and my whole Whis category right over here for more things to do in the city!) is to visit Scandinave Spa. It’s a $60 rate to visit the baths which might seem steep, but consider the fact that you can spend hours and hours here (not to mention all the amazing benefits you get from the hydrotherapy!). It’s honestly the best money spent, I leave feeling like I’m two inches taller somehow each time and as someone who really carries stress in my back and shoulders, it honestly works wonders for melting it all away.
If you haven’t heard of Scandinave before or are curious as to how hydrotherapy works, you basically use the power of water, heat and cold to heal your body, flush out toxins and loosen any stress in your body. The system is typically 10-15 minutes in heat (hot baths, sauna, steam room), 10-15 seconds in cold water (Nordic showers, cold baths, etc) and then around 15 minutes of rest. It’s rooted in centuries-old Scandinavian traditions and for me, it is honestly magic. The trick is to do it around 4 times and then you really feel its effects by the time you leave!
I’m obsessed with Scandinave too because it really lets you experience another layer of Whistler. Its rustic-luxe baths are sprawled over a beautiful outlook of the mountains right at the tip of Lost Lake—with your mind clear and your body relaxed, you can take in the beauty of the outdoors all around you in the most amazing, mindful way.
My trick is to just come prepared—I like to pack my own flip flops, a bottle to refill (I find I need to drink a lot of water as toxins are drawn out of my body and from the hot experiences) and if I’m not feeling too sleepy that day, a good book to read during my rest breaks (though to be totally honest, most often I just have the dreamiest naps). And if you can, book a massage! Literally one of the best massages I’ve ever had in my life.
What makes Scandinavetruly special though is that it’s a silent haven—as someone who is the epitome of a Chatty Cathy, most people who know me or have even interacted with me once are probably shocked that this is an appealing aspect to me. I think that whether you’re also a chatty type, someone whose mind is always running or really, just about anyone in these tech-driven times, it’s so critical to take those mental breaks and to just be still and quiet. My at-home meditation practice really helps me a lot but Scandinave is like the ultimate prolonged meditation—I leave feeling so much happier and at peace every time, especially because I’m often in Whistler living it up or with friends and that little check-in with myself comes at a good time!
Other absolute must is Sea to Sky – I shared my first Sea to Sky Gondola experience over in this post but it really is just the most unbelievable place. There’s something really spiritual to me about being so high above in the mountains and seeing all the natural beauty all around you and realizing how small you are and just how magical Mother Nature is—I get this effect a lot after a particularly long hike (Eagle Bluffs is one viewpoint that just does it for me if you are looking for a Vancouver hike, it’s just out of Cypress Mountain so really easy to get to!) so it’s amazing that at the gondola, you can zip right up to the top in literally 10 minutes. And the gondola ride itself is so amazing!
The suspension bridge is beyond beautiful and gives you the most amazing view as you cross it of all the mountains surrounding you. You can either go for a hike and check out all the amazing viewpoints that are at the top, or even just take it easy and have a drink or snack at the cafe while taking in the view all around. If you’re visiting or are a local, make the quick trip out to Squamish (usually around a 1 hour drive from city centre) to take in this magical experience! Matt and I are just doing the live-in, common-law thing for life but if we did get married, I’d push hard for this place—any wedding I’ve ever seen captured up there looks like such a dream.
Do you guys have any other requests for Vancouver or the Greater Vancouver Area guides? I’m super excited to have a few more posts coming your way this month before I take off to Thailand (yeeeee, never been before!) but am always eager to hear what you guys are craving so feel free to drop me a line! Happy Monday everyone, hope your week’s off to a great start!
If you missed my last California road trip post, I shared the first leg of our unbelievable 1-week road trip up the coast from LA to beautiful San Luis Obispo. I was already so blown away by the amazing beauty of these places that I really wasn’t prepared for what was to come once we got into the Central Coast, especially Big Sur which basically blew my mind and may have resulted in me tearing up a bit at finally getting to tick off this big bucket list item (and it exceeding all my expectations too!). If you want to catch up before we dive into the Carmel to Capitola stretch of this unbelievable road trip, check out my first post here!
But now onto the beautiful Monterey County and beyond, which honestly must be one of my favourite places in the world now. Buckle up, make sure you have your mouse ready to pin the images and get ready to seriously start craving a Cali getaway!
CARMEL-BY-THE-SEA (DAY 3)
I had really pushed for us to stay in Carmel after seeing all these fairytale-like cottages popping up on Pinterest. This is typically how most of Matt and I’s trips shape up: we pretty much agree on most places, but I’ll almost always become really fixated on one place (in Italy, it was Montepulciano, in Spain, it was Frigiliana) and there’s just really no saying no to me at a certain point, as bossy as that makes me seem! I love cities but I’ll inevitably always fall in love from afar before our trip with a quaint little town, and so far my batting average is really high—they always exceed my expectations when I finally get to experience them!
So anyway, after we had lunch and a little hang in San Luis Obispo, we bombed it up to Carmel, getting in mid-afternoon with just enough time to settle into our beautiful VRBO (more on it and all the other places we stayed in a later post!), grab a quick bite and catch sunset at the beautiful beach at the base of the town.
This, my friends, was one of the dreamiest parts of my whole trip. Carmel Beach is one of those amazing big California beaches that stretch for miles where the sand and sky create a beautiful mirror image of one another, punctuated by big wave breaks. It truly was impossible to capture how beautiful the sunset was and it was so cool to see a bunch of tourists or out-of-towners (it was President’s Day, after all) hanging out taking in the sunset along with locals walking their dogs and catching up with one another.
We then had one of the best meals of our trip (again, where to stay and where to eat are both coming up soon!) and darted in and out of the residential streets and main commercial street. Carmel is definitely a very affluent town—we joked that even the firehouse looked like a rustic chic spread from a decor mag. It’s not the most buzzing town but as far as just taking in beautiful sights, this is one of the best places to be. Also, did you know that Clint Eastwood was the mayor of Carmel for a period of time? So needless to say, it’s been a longtime escape for the rich & famous!
Oh, and a note on this unique architecture you keep seeing pop up throughout the town! The story behind these Hansel-and-Gretel-like cottages is that a man named Hugh Comstock built the first of these fairytale cottages around the 1920’s for his wife, who sold rag dolls. When her inventory grew too big, he built her a “showroom” to show off her wares. What’s really interesting is that he wasn’t a trained architect, so the cottage had a kind of very DIY but super imaginative and beautiful quality that locals soon started wanting for themselves! And that’s how these cottages came to be—love that they have such a cool story!
BIG SUR (DAY 4)
Okay so onto the biggest, best day of the whole road trip for me—Big Sur. A little backstory: I first fell in love with Big Sur when I was about 16 or so and found pictures of this magical place in a magazine. It’s been one of my biggest bucket list items of all time and honestly, it blew my mind in person.
Our first stop was beautiful, sprawling Point Lobos National Park. This is where I shed a couple tears because it was my first experience of what I’ve always dreamt of—crashing turquoise waves, sun-bleached sea grass swaying in the wind, little coves tucked among all the trees. It’s funny because I’m from a pretty similar area here in Vancouver, but somehow it was just so different and special to me in person. We saw a couple seals playing right next to these big buffed rocks that we sat on (Matt insisted that they were making love but like he would see the most perverse option, they were pretty innocently playing), condors cutting through the skies and so much more. I love that you could genuinely spend hours here if you’d like and just keep cutting in and out of different coves, explore the tide pools and take in the beauty around you.
Next up was famous Bixby Creek Bridge (Big Little Lies fans will definitely recognize it!). We were worried about snapping pics here but it was honestly super easy—lots of dirt patches on the side of the road that you can just cruise up to! The bridge has a cool history because it was built in the ‘30s to connect Big Sur locals to the rest of the state, since in the winter it was basically impossible to leave. Hard to imagine a time when certain areas would be virtually unconnected, even crazier when you think it’s less than a century ago!
We then finally entered Big Sur and I was pretty much bursting out of my skin I was so excited and insisted on playing “California Stars” by Billy Bragg & Wilco (an old cover of Woody Guthrie’s original lyrics). If this travel story and other travel stories haven’t made it clear enough, I’m definitely someone who never gets jaded or used to new places or loses the excitement of discovering a place—quite the opposite! My friends, fam and Matt make fun of me for my like no-holding-back, crazy-excited reactions (if you ever see my friend Amanda who lives in Ireland, just ask her about my first time driving through the Burren when I literally was leant out the window as she was hauling ass through these tiny ancient Irish lanes). So long story short, I was like so over the moon already and the most unbelievable parts were just coming up!
I’d really recommend making good time getting into Big Sur because the lots for places like Point Lobos and our next stop, Pfeiffer Beach, do close if they’re full and it’s not like there’s a place you can wait to the side while you wait for a space to be made available. Get there early, not only to account for the parking lots, but to make the trips from the main roads to the actual points of interest. For instance, to get down to Pfeiffer Beach, you have to contend with a one-lane, winding and long dirt road to get to the parking lot. But once you’re there, oh my God it is worth it. I, for one, am a big wind person—I love the feeling of it blowing you away! It was beyond windy as you can probably see in these pics and I feel like we got the real Big Sur experience this way. The wind would catch the sea spray and it’d go flying out as the waves would crash in, catching the sunshine in little sparkling moments. Ducking behind some of the big rocks, we caught sight of the famous Sun Portal sea arch, which catches crashing waves and the sunshine beaming through. The one thing we both mentioned in the moment is that it would have been amazing to have seen the Sun Portal closer to sunset since you’d get the sun coming right through the portal, whereas we were there when the sun was still high in the sky. All the more reason to come back, and ideally to camp in the park for a few days so that you can revisit sites!
After lunch (again, more on where to eat soon because this one in particular was definitely one you do not want to miss!) we just took our time wandering to McWay Falls, which we had planned for sunset. There are so many spots to pull over at and catch views from, which we did a ton! It honestly reminded me a lot of Ireland randomly—something about the raw power of the cliffs, the waves and the dramatic views everywhere. If you know me, you know I love Ireland more than anywhere else in the world so it was a really cool experience of familiarity and excitement at catching all these amazing new views.
Finally, we found a perfect little spot to park off the highway (we were both really impressed with how easy it was to find parking off the main drag!) and slowly made our way from the highway to McWay Falls—it’s cool because even from the highway, you get one very cool vantage point, and then by carrying down to the main path below, you get a bunch of different perspectives. Right when we pulled up it started getting a bit overcast but I feel like it actually gave the sunset some moody depth! It was a pretty magical moment just standing there in the brisk, eucalyptus-scented air and watching this view that literally looks like it’s out of a fairytale as the sky glowed pink and the sea refracted the golden light from the sun. Will never forget this moment!
It feels like I’ve been waiting an eternity to say this but it finally feels like spring here on the West Coast! I know our East Coast friends here in Canada and the US are having some more frigid temps but soon enough for you guys too! Winter is not the easiest season for me (and I know it’s not a lot of other people’s favourite either) so I am literally beyond ecstatic to see the crocuses come out, the buds poking through, the sunshine lasting a bit later into the evening and of course, the weather warming up!
The thing that gets me most excited about spring is that I finally get to ditch the heavy winter parkas and wooly knits and don some spring style—it’s honestly the season I get the most excited about style-wise. I actually love the challenge of transition style too—I feel like any chance to layer adds more visual interest as it is, and it makes for a way fresher outfit when you can bridge the seasons with the winter and spring vibes!
An absolute must for me this spring is undoubtedly culottes—they’re actually always a fave of mine and I’ve styled both black and white pairs in the past, but I love that you can go for a really fresh spring tone like these beauties in a nude shade to go full monochromatic in the rest of your outfit. Think this stunning dusty rose pair with other rose/blush shades (a steal at $50!), or a fun print like this House of Harlow pair that you can style with grey or white layers.
Another reason I love culottes is that they’re actually surprisingly the perfect piece for any body type. I’m very hourglass (big chest, big booty but with a small waist) and am also very athletically built so tapered trousers (depending on their cut) can be just about the most unflattering thing for me. Something that nips in where I’m smallest at my waist and helps skim over my more powerful legs and butt, is beyond comfortable and best of all, it works perfectly with two of my go-to’s: a delicate camisole or a cropped top (or sweater, depending on the weather!). Honestly couldn’t think of a better bottom piece for this time of year!
The one thing is if you’re either vertically challenged or have short legs (which I do), it definitely gives a bit of lift to have heels on—I just find I look a bit stumpy if I wear flats or sneakers with culottes, though if you’re tall or have long legs, you’ll probably be able to pull off a casual chic vibe perfectly with sneaks and culottes! Whether it’s a pair of pumps like this nude Ted Baker pair, wedges or ankle boots, even just a bit of a heel really makes a big difference if you’re in the former category like me.
I styled up this Mackage wool coat for my NYE outfit this year to lighten up a wintery look for a night out, but I feel like it’s really the perfect piece for a spring transition, especially with other neutral tones like these culottes and the cami!
Last but definitely not least, all about really stacking on the gold around this time of year—I styled up all these jewels from my girl Leah Alexandra in this recent post and it transitions perfectly into airier spring tones. Stacks of gold and fresh white or nude tones are literally a match made in heaven!
Can’t wait to do more spring transition style stories for you guys because I am all about spring and am so excited it’s finally (almost!) here! If you have any style requests, just let me know in the comments below! In the meantime, I have this whole outfit plus some of my fave culottes options that you can shop below!
While I think it’s not only very important to make home your happy place (part of the reason I’ve spent so much time and energy redoing our place this year!) and to have a few far-flung destinations that make you happy and offer the escape we all sometimes need, I also think it’s critical to have a few easy, close-to-home options that give you that dose of escape, help you relax and of course, most importantly, make you happy! Preferably, all within a day’s drive.
Whistler has long been one of my happy places and that’s in large part to the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, which has become my go-to over the years when I’m up in Whis. For those of you who don’t live in the Greater Vancouver area, Whistler is literally a couple hours’ drive away from Vancouver up north, a true wintery escape (though a really fun destination in the summer) where the outdoor adventures are truly endless: you can ski or snowboard the days away, explore glaciers, go dog-sledding, zip-line through the evergreen trees, mountain bike all summer long and so much more.
Of course, part of the great art of outdoor adventuring is mastering the après. Whether it’s post-ski or post-snowball fighting (or even post-shopping, which Whistler offers a ton of), it’s such a special feeling to come back to a place like the Fairmont Chateau that’s simultaneously luxurious and immediately comforting, like walking into a truly luxe alpine chalet with the ultimate hygge vibes.
What I love about the Fairmont Chateau is that they don’t just offer luxe getaways the whole year-round, but they also focus a lot on charitable initiatives, which I’ve had the chance to experience more than once! Last year, I got to experience the amazing Trees of Hope event in support of Canuck Place Children’s Hospice and this year, I got to uncover what the Podium Package entailed!
The Podium Package is a limited time promotion that supports disabled athletes, timed perfectly with this year’s recent Winter Olympics (which Whistler and Vancouver hosted in 2010 – literally one of the best times of my life!). Valid from April 1 to May 31st, the package offers 10% off the usual daily rate of your room along with a $10 donation to Whistler Adaptive Sports, which supports athletes with disabilities at every level. You can learn more and book here but you only have until March 18th to secure this deal so act quick!
From luxurious rooms and suites to seriously the most amazing dining, I can’t stress enough how certain I am that you’ll fall for the Fairmont if you haven’t already! We got to experience Portobello’s new and improved design and culinary offerings and were blown away—I’ve always loved the casual and cozy vibes of Portobello, but now with even more on hand and a more refined renovation, it’s somewhere I’ll be hitting up for dinner all the time from now on (this has always been my breakfast/lunch go-to!). Especially obsessed with their garlicky kale salad and their delicious porchetta! All their sweet treats are equally amazing—look at these tasty doughnuts! So good!
Of course, no trip to the Fairmont Chateau would be complete without spending some serious time in the swim-out indoor/outdoor pool and hot tubs—love the drink service all year round right up to the hot tub so that you can stay soaking your body against the cold with some vino in hand! Pro tip—there’s also a eucalyptus steam room inside the pool area that I live for, helps so much if you indulged a bit too much in last night’s cocktails or just want a good steam!
Finally, I’m so excited to announce that something very exciting will be going down tonight over on my Instagram account—this is a giveaway you won’t want to miss so make sure you pop over around 8:30PM PST tonight!
A big thank you to the Fairmont for such a dream getaway and to Kat Willson for being my photographer for this trip—obsessed with these shots!
I initially was going to do my California road trip itinerary in one post and very quickly realized that was just going to be ridiculous (the last truly epic guide I did like that was my Malta one and I swear, I literally had to rest my wee little fingers afterwards for a few hours, they were so typed out). I thought it’d be easier for both you and I if I broke this guide to an unbelievable week on the road into two pieces! We started in LA where I was for work, Matty met me there and then snaked our way up north so to begin with, I wanted to take you through this first leg beginning in sunny Los Angeles to beautiful San Luis Obispo before we tackle the Monterey area and one of my fave places ever, Big Sur!
I had somehow never been to California which is beyond shocking to me (and a lot of you it would appear—I got a lot of perplexed comments on Instagram wondering how it is that I’m always going around the world but hadn’t been just down south to our American neighbours in Cali!). What’s even more perplexing honestly is that Matt used to live in California for years, so you’d think I would’ve visited my partner’s one-time home at least once before! At any rate, I was so excited to finally get a chance to go, and what followed was one of my favourite weeks in what has now become a favourite place. California was just so easy—coming from Vancouver, it was only a few hours flying down, there’s no language barrier (and really, pretty much the same culture given we’re all West Coasters) but oh my God! The food, the views, the beaches, the wildlife, etc—it was just all so magical. It was kind of the perfect combination of an amazing new experience along with a lot of familiar elements—definitely a laid-back trip. If you wanted to do a true Californian coastline experience (i.e. even further south down to San Diego and even further north to San Francisco), I’d budget two weeks, but since we were doing a shorter journey (LA to Monterey, flying out of San Jose), one week was perfect for us. So without further ado, let’s kick off all the must-see’s (and just a note that where to eat and where to stay will be following in separate posts)!
VENICE (DAY 1)
I didn’t actually get as much time as I’d like in LA because we were eager to kick off our road trip, though I did get an amazing 24 hour experience in LA with INFINITI, who I was working with while staying in West Hollywood. One day I’d love to go back and spend a few more days to do some of the things I didn’t see (the Hollywood sign, Rodeo Drive, etc, etc), but what was so amazing was to see just how easy it is to pop on down so I’m not worried about not going back again! After an incredible but whirlwind 24 hours with the INFINITI team, Matt came and met me in West Hollywood and bright and early the next morning we headed off to Venice.
Venice is awesome—weird and vibrant, but also filled with the best restaurants, shopping and just an amazing overall artistic vibe. It was created in 1905 by developer Abbott Kinney, who of course now has a namesake street right in the centre of Venice. Modelled after his favourite Italian city, it has canals, piazzas and beaches just to add a cherry on top to its quirky boardwalk filled with hundreds of vendors, a buzzing skate park and of course, Muscle Beach, where Arnold used to pump iron.
You have to wander through the canals, which are pleasantly quiet and serene compared to the energy of the boardwalk. They’re just beyond beautiful and it’s so amazing to stroll by the houses, each one even more unique than the other. It’s such a crazy concept when you think about it—just plopping a canal system right into LA for the sake of aesthetics, as opposed to Amsterdam, Paris or of course Venice who all had them for functional purposes!
You also have to wander along the aforementioned Abbott Kinney and check out the amazing restaurants (more on that soon) and shops—before you enter the street if you wander up Rose Avenue from the beach, you’ll also catch the famous Clownerina sculpture which is dancing above the street! So weird, so Venice.
And of course, the boardwalk is a must—we walked it to Santa Monica though you can also rent bikes, which I would’ve also opted for if we’d started earlier in the day! Not only is it just so much fun to catch all the energy as you wander by the skate park, Muscle Beach et al, but you can also take in the incredible graffiti that’s on just about every building lining the boardwalk as you walk by.
SANTA MONICA (DAY 1)
We only had a few hours here but it was a must! We wandered over to Santa Monica Pier which was created over 100 years ago and whose amusement park has been running for about the same amount of time. It’s technically the end of Route 66, where you can spot the sign (which is thought to have been part of a movie set) still there!
I’d highly recommend parking up next to one of the lifeguard stands to take in sunset—we got a beautiful sunset here and then wandered up to poke around the shops before Ubering back to Venice to grab dinner (one of our fave dinners actually, we ate so much in Cali!).
MALIBU (DAY 2)
I’d been to Malibu the day before with the INFINITI team to not only experience Nobu (oh.my.god.) but to also check out Zumba Beach too—obsessed! There are so many other amazing beaches to check out but we were just doing a quick breakfast at Malibu Farms over on Malibu Pier before taking off so we didn’t hang around that long.
Having said that, even if you just get a chance to hang out at the pier, take some time to wander along the beach and dip your toes in. I’m about as much of a beach/ocean baby as they come, so even though it was cold getting a chance to be right in the water is something I seek out everywhere I go. Again, can’t wait to go back to LA again soon and spend more time in the southern parts but if you budget a couple of hours here while doing a longer coastline road trip like we were, that’ll give you ample time to have a good bite and walk before you take off!
SANTA BARBARA (DAY 2)
And then our real road tripping kicked off! The drive up the Pacific Coastal Highway was so unbelievable along this stretch, from taking in Point Mugu to getting glimpses of surfers grouped together in rolling waves as we blitzed by seaside towns.
Santa Barbara was our next stop and it was well worth the drive. Of course, this is southern California so the driving times can fluctuate a lot—because we were there for the long weekend it took double the time it usually would, but this would ordinarily be about 1.5 hours from Malibu, even if you’re taking the PCH.
We took in Stearns Wharf (all the piers in California kill me—why don’t we have more of these on our coastline here in BC?!) which was amazing. I really appreciated that all the towns and especially all the piers always had amazing history plaques so that you could actually learn a ton as you wandered around and took in the sunshine! We wanted to take in some of the other attractions up the hill but didn’t want to take our car out of the parking lot when we saw this little shuttle leaving from the wharf. For about $1, we both hopped on and got a nice, leisurely drive up the main road State Street in this cute little electric shuttle.
Since we got there later in the day we didn’t get to see the Mission, though I did end up learning a lot about all the original mission that were set up through California over the next couple of days and it ended up becoming a little passion of mine! More on that in a second but if you are in SB, I heard it’s beautiful so definitely stop by! But for us, we grabbed dinner and then ended up calling it a day after a very full day of sightseeing and driving.
PISMO BEACH (DAY 3)
I couldn’t tell you exactly what it is about Pismo Beach but something about it just made me totally and completely fall in love with it. The older I get the more I realize I’m not really much of a city person—I actually would love to just live on the Sunshine Coast or somewhere quieter, though Matt is the opposite (very urban-oriented) so our more sleepy corner of Vancouver is a nice compromise. I think long story short, I just felt instantly like this could be home for me. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that it’s been a longstanding dream of mine to just surf for like 3 years undisturbed somewhere and this seems like a great place to do it. Matt was less convinced about us moving there but not gonna lie, it’s a little dream of mine now.
I don’t say this lightly—going to Glow Dermal Therapy straight up changed my life. A few years ago before I started going into Glow, I remember standing in front of the mirror and being so upset that I had yet again another group of huge, impossible-to-cover breakouts on my face that I literally started tearing up—sounds dramatic, I know, but I just felt like I’d worked so hard all my life on being happy with who I was and how I looked, but this one thing kept evading me and kept bringing me down. Also, since your face is literally out on display always, having skin that seemed so out of control (and in your late ‘20s, no less) was just endlessly frustrating and demoralizing since there was no real way of hiding it.
I was actually already friends with Amanda, the owner of Glow, for a few years when she began her business—I decided to pop in and see her but if I’m being honest, despite our friends already all swearing by Amanda, I just wasn’t sure that my skin, the one thing I hated and struggled with so much, could ever get better. I learned so much during our first session and started understanding so much about my skin right off the bat, but it wasn’t until a couple weeks later that I really realized that everything had changed.
I went to a skin care brand’s event and they were going to do an assessment there so I showed up sans-makeup—when they asked me what my usual concerns were, I went on about acne, texture, etc only to have the rep stare at me blankly and ask what I was talking about. I looked in the store mirror and it finally sank in—I had no breakouts, and when I thought about it, I hadn’t in over a week (which had literally never happened to me since I was 12 years old). My skin texture looked even and I genuinely felt so comfortable in my skin (figuratively & literally!). For awhile there, I kept worrying about it coming back, but months and months later with regular visits and changing over my at-home routine, my skin remained clear and quite frankly, glowing! I couldn’t believe it. Years later now, I sometimes forget about this 15+ years struggle but when I look back on it now, I can’t help but just feel endlessly grateful for the confidence Amanda & co gave me.
Beauty, power and resilience is more than just skin deep, but I also think that whatever makes you feel empowered and beautiful should be celebrated, so that’s why on International Women’s Day today I’m so excited to give way two facials for two of you to have the ultimate lady’s day at Glow Dermal Therapy! I’m really proud to, well, be proud of how I look and to be at that point in my life, and sorting out my skin issues was the one last step to me truly feeling just so empowered to go makeup-free and feel confident and pretty without needing to cover myself up.
Straight up, I spend pretty much most of every day in activewear. I don’t know if it’s a Vancouver thing, the fact that I work out a lot or because I work from home but I feel like 90% of my days are in some form of workout wear. Fortunately, not only are there some easy styling tips to take activewear from the studio to a coffee date with style but nowadays, brands are making it so much easier to get away with 24/7 activewear thanks to more fashion-forward designs, flattering cuts and lines that are targeted for sweat-to-street style.
I recently discovered that Hyba, a Canadian activewear line I’ve loved for awhile, has an exclusive line for Reitmans called HybaxReitmans—I tend to get stuck in a vortex of black leggings and it was one of my goals this year to mix it up more, so I was ecstatic to find a ton of beautiful femme designs that still can hold their own through any of the workouts I’ve put them through (these floral leggings with a lovely lattice design with really flattering paneling have gone through weight training, barre and yoga so far!).
While I’m in the studio or the gym a lot, I’ve been trying to make a concerted effort to get outside a bit more—the winter has been dragging on here in Vancouver so I’ve been trying to seek out that Vitamin D every chance I can get! I stay cozy despite the chill with this slouchy purple hoodie too, and again, focusing on infusing in that colour instead of always going for basic tones to add a punchy vibe to an otherwise yucky day!
The thing is, I like to work out in the middle of the day so I often am either coming from or going to a workout. I rely a lot on those shower sheets because I don’t always have time for a full shower and rather than totally changing, I love just swapping out my top half to some fresh pieces that make me look a bit more cafe-apropos. From Reitmans’ apparel line, I grabbed a basic black tank and grey cardigan that add a more pulled together vibe to the whole look. I’ve also been trying to use my handbags instead of a more sporty duffle bag for these quick change days so that I add another dose of style to my looks rather than dressing them down with a gym bag!
The other absolute must—dry shampoo and a little lippy! Especially here in Vancouver, activewear is a way of life and it’s totally okay to look like you’ve got fitness on the agenda that day, but sweaty or dirty hair is going to put a real damper on you feeling like you look your best. I keep a little mini can in my handbag and keep a tinted lip balm or a sheer lip gloss that I can swipe on as I leave my workout!
Are you guys the same when it comes to that sweat-to-street life? Do you have any tips of your own for elevating your activewear looks? Also, to discover more of the HybaxReitmans line, see the full line here!