When the term 'Southern Charm' is ever spoken, what immediately comes to mind for me is Charleston. I first visited the charming city of Charleston, South Carolina in 2017 with Brian, a trip booked on a whim after watching a reality show based in the same city (yes, this is how we sometimes choose destinations.) We were smitten upon landing, and have been wanting to go back ever since.
Fast forward a few years, after again booking a trip on a whim with Sabrina after noticing a discounted flight, and I found myself back in Charleston. This time, the pace was a little slower (I was 27 weeks pregnant) and the itinerary less ambitious, but the feelings were all the same - I've can't wait to go back.
Here's a breakdown of how we spent 2.5 full days in Charleston; what to eat, how to get around and everything along the way.
How To Get To CharlestonI'll be the first to say it: the only frustrating thing about visiting Charleston, South Carolina is that there are no direct flights from my home airport in Toronto. As someone who hates connecting flights with a fiery passion, this can often be a deal-breaker when choosing a destination.
Thankfully there are a few fairly painless options to get to your destination:
In the world of connecting flights, getting to Charleston isn't too bad. For both of my trips, we connected in Chicago on the way there, and then through Newark, New Jersey on the way back. TIP: If you have the time for it, I would suggest making the most of your connections. Our first trip, Brian and I choose an eleven hour layover in Chicago which gave us the whole day to get out of the airport and explore the city. On the way home we actually extended the layover to stay a couple of nights in New York City. It felt like three trips in one!
There are direct flights from Toronto to either Savannah, Georgia or Myrtle Beach. Both destinations are only a couple of hours drive from Charleston and may be worth checking out before heading to the city.
If you're up for the road trip, Charleston is about a 16 hour drive from Toronto. Definitely not for the faint of heart, but certainly do-able and an option if you crave the open road.
How To Get AroundOne of the best things about visiting Charleston is that once you arrive, it's so easy to get around! Sabrina and I took a very quick and inexpensive cab ride from the airport to our hotel in historic Charleston. Other than that and a cab ride back to the airport at the end of our trip, we explored exclusively on-foot.
Because Charleston is a fairly small city, and the historic areas are all very close to one another, it is extremely easy to navigate on-foot. We explored everything that the city had to offer on-foot, while taking multiples breaks in our hotel to rest.
Renting bicycles is another great way to explore Charleston. Although I wasn't able to partake on account of being pregnant, I remember renting city bikes with Brian on our first trip and it was an excellent way to get around the city.
Although I don't think that you need a car if you're planning on staying exclusively within the limits of Charleston, it may be a good idea to look into for exploring the surrounding areas. Charleston is very small, and if you're staying for longer than a few days then you may find yourself looking for a new area to explore. Renting a car is a great way to check out the surrounding plantations, or make your way to Savannah for a change of scenery.
What To DoSeeing as how I had previously visited Charleston, and that I was 27 weeks pregnant during this particular trip, we took a much slower pace than usual. That being said, Sabrina and I managed to pack in a ton of different sights and fun things to-do during our two and a half day stay. If you're visiting for a girl's trip, and aren't interested in historical monuments or museums, here's some fun things to do in Charleston:
Head South of Broad and just walk. Trust me. The beautiful, picturesque houses and perfectly manicured neighbourhoods are worth checking out, and are to me some of the best features of Charleston. Sabrina and I got lost everyday just wandering through these gorgeous, historic streets and taking in all of the sights - and smells! It was jasmine season when we visited and the air smelled of flowers. It was truly beautiful.
If you're in the mood to shop, then you're going to want to head to King Street. A mix of little boutiques and major chain stores, there's literally something for everyone.
With all of the history in Charleston, a ghost tour would 100% be appropriate. If I wasn't convinced that our hotel was haunted, I definitely would have partook as the picturesque neighbourhoods definitely take on a more eerie vibe at night.
Visit Waterfront Park and take in the iconic, much-instagrammed Pineapple fountain.
Eat. Honestly, Charleston is no place to visit while on a diet. Between award-winning restaurants, and the rich, buttery southern delicacies that grace most every menu, be prepared to eat. I find the restaurant prices to be pretty reasonable, especially when compared to the major cities in the states.
Where To Eat Be still my heart - the restaurants and food scene in Charleston is absolutely unbelievable. Brian and I experienced all of the culinary wonder that is food in Charleston on our first trip and I was anxious to get back for more! Here is where you can indulge in southern cuisine at it's finest; think hushpuppies, shrimp and grits, fried chicken, Carolina Gold rice - I could go on! Although there were many restaurants and bars to try, here are a few of my favourite:
Husk: You honestly can't make the trip to Charleston without visiting Husk. An upscale take on southern dishes and ingredients in a comfortable atmosphere, Husk is a true gem. Sabrina and I were able to get reservations at Husk for Sunday brunch, and braved the wait to enjoy our last dinner there. Word to the wise - make a reservation as soon as you book your trip to Charleston. I'm not kidding. Reservations go quick and while you may be able to score a walk-in seat, it will only be if outdoor seating is available and will undoubtably come with a long wait.
Basic Kitchen: A beautiful space boasting a healthy menu made up of local ingredients - many of which are actually grown on-premise! I had Basic Kitchen on my radar for it's beautiful, light-filled space and chill decor but I kept on coming back for the food. We enjoyed both brunch and dinner at Basic Kitchen, and each meal was absolutely delicious.
Leon's Oyster Shop:Leon's Oyster Shop is an unassuming, casual eatery that takes classic southern dishes to the next level! We enjoyed hush puppies that were literally served with a side of pure butter, scalloped potatoes, a gigantic shrimp salad and all-you-can-drink sweet teas. My only regret is stopping into Leon's for a snack rather than a full meal; I hear their award-winning fried chicken is not to be missed. The Rise Coffee Bar: While Charleston doesn't have the bustling coffee scene of a larger metropolis, The Rise Coffee Bar will satisfy your espresso-based craving in a bright and clean space.
The Darling Oyster Bar: Created with a female clientele in mind, The Darling Oyster Bar is the perfect place to share a drink with girlfriends or to have a beautiful date night in Charleston. Although Sabrina and I had made reservations in advance, we opted to sit at the Oyster bar and literally feasted on seafood. It was glorious. The presentation is incredible and even the smallest details on our mocktails were taken into consideration. I already can't wait to go back.
It was an incredible getaway, and I can hardly wait to visit Charleston again. Have you been? Let me know what your must-dos are in this beautiful city! xo Joëlle
A letter to my son: even typing the words out still makes me step back in disbelief. The knowledge that there will soon be a new life in our family is so enormous that it just seems beyond me. I have so many feelings about raising a baby boy into a happy and loved young man; love, warmth, protectiveness and pride.
I recently saw the new commercial from the Dairy Farmers of Ontario, where a letter is shared from a real Ontario dairy farmer to his children. The letter is so heartwarming, and details how this hardworking father hopes that growing up on a dairy farm will instil strong values in his children. Now, I don't know if it's the pregnancy hormones or the fact that one of my best childhood friends grew up on a dairy farm, but to say that I was misty eyed after watching the commercial is an understatement.
I was inspired to write my own letter, to my unborn child who may not be in our arms just yet, but who I carry close to me and who keeps me company every day. So, to my boy: this is to you.
To our son,
Although we haven't met formally, I feel as though your place in our lives has always been. With each movement, each kick I feel as though our bond grows. There are so many feelings involved with bringing you into this world, and so many unknowns for when you make your grand arrival. Although I cannot predict or control the future, as much as I try, there are certain things that I want you to know and that I hope for you as you grow.
I hope that you always know and feel the strong love of a family. You are already so wanted and so loved, not only by your dad and me but also by so many others who cannot wait to meet you. Your grandparents, who truly thought that this day would never come and beam with excitement with each passing week. Your uncles, who already vow you make sure you always have someone to play, laugh, and explore with. Cousins, extended family, great grandparents. So many people and so much love for you; I hope that you always feel and take comfort in it.
I hope you know that your dad and I always want what's best for you, be it in school, activities and just life in general. But above everything, your happiness will always be our number one priority. Never worry about disappointing us, because as long as you're happy then our souls will be filled.
The world can be a scary place, and often times life will not seem fair. My hope for you is that we give you the emotional security to navigate this sometimes confusing life. I hope you know that it's okay to truly feel, and that it's okay to cry. It's okay to fail, and there's honour in getting up and trying again. And above all I hope that you know that we will always be there for you, both in your proudest moments, your struggles, and everything in-between. I hope that your family always remains your source of comfort and security.
Trust in the good intentions of others, and treat everyone with respect and dignity. Lead with a strong heart and a good mind. Know that vulnerability and kindness will be your biggest strengths in life, and not a weakness. Make good choices.
We haven't even met earth-side yet but my wish and hopes for you, our son, is that you always know and feel love.
Wow, the hormones are REALLY kicking in after that one. Thank you for allowing me to share this personal piece with you. I feel more focused, assured and confident in our future. And more than anything, I feel more excited to finally be able to meet our boy.
This post was inspired by and created in partnership with the Dairy Farmers of Ontario. Thank you so much for the amazing vision and for inspiring this post that will stay with me forever.
Travel is so important to me. I still get a kick out of getting on a plane and being able to land in a totally different part of the world than where you started. When I first found out that I was pregnant, I will admit that I did momentarily consider that I may have to put my upcoming travel plans on-hold. After all, this is my first pregnancy and I honestly had no idea what to expect. What if I was feeling too sick to fly? Can you even fly comfortably as a pregnant woman?
It turns out, all that worrying was for nothing because I was lucky enough to be able to enjoy some amazing trips during my pregnancy. From Disneyland to Los Angeles, Philadelphia, a quick trip to NYC and a trip to Charleston - I feel very lucky to have been able to still keep up with traveling while carrying a baby.
That being said, there are definitely a few tips, tricks and lessons that I've picked up along the way in order to stay comfortable while flying while pregnant. Just a few simply things that can make or break a flight being comfortable, accommodate your changing body and anticipate any of the annoyances that come along with air travel that become HUGE inconveniences when pregnant. Here's what I've learned:
Eat A Large Meal Prior to Boarding I cannot stress this enough. For some reason, all of my flights this year have had a larger-than-normal amount of turbulence. Turbulence on a plane is irritating on a good day, but when you're pregnant and potentially dealing with stomach/nausea issues it can be brutal. I've found that making sure that I'm comfortably full before boarding a plane helps to keep any nausea from turbulence at bay. I've even gone so far as to order food on the plane, which I typically never do. I've also found that being comfortably full helps to settle your stomach during takeoff and landing - something I never had a problem with prior to flying pregnant. Whatever the case, just make sure that you eat a proper meal before boarding; it makes a world of a difference.
Pack Lots Of Snacks
On the same note of making sure to eat before boarding a plane, I've also found that over-packing on snacks can be really helpful. We all know that air travel can be unpredictable, and the chances of your itinerary not going according to plan are high. Making sure that you're stocked up with lots of snacks (and a refillable water bottle) in case your flight takes longer than anticipated. When I was flying home from Philadelphia, our plane was stuck on the runway for almost three hours waiting in a massive line to de-ice. Thankfully, I had a backpack full of snacks and it made the wait much more tolerable - especially with a tiny baby doing somersaults in my belly! Snacks are always important with air travel, but become a lifeline when flying while pregnant. Bring more than you think - trust me, they will get eaten!
Okay, I promise that this is my last food and drink related tip but it's honestly the most important one: stay hydrated. Drink water - more than you think. Instead of relying on the flight attendants to start beverage services, bring a large refillable water bottle and don't be afraid to visit the flight attendant's station in the back of the plane to ask for refills. It may mean more bathroom brakes, but it also helps to improve your comfort and reduce the swelling that comes along with air travel.
Choose An Aisle Seat
I love a window seat, but when flying while pregnant I've learned to change my preferences to the aisle seat. Not only do you have a bit more room to stretch out, but it's also imperative for making a quick getaway for the washroom - you're going to need it after drinking all that water!
Travel With Your Medical Documents This tip is definitely the most doomsday of them all, but I'm a firm believer in better being safe than sorry. For every one of my trips, I've gotten copies of my medical documents from my midwives and keep them close to me at all times - just in case. Any document that has your blood type, how far along you are, any medications that you're on or have been on during your pregnancy, any allergies etc. It's good to have this information on-hand should you need to visit a hospital, or need medical supervision in-flight.
Let Everyone Know That You're Pregnant Listen, I'm all for being discreet and not having a fuss made over me but I totally change my tune when I'm flying while pregnant. I let the airlines attendants know that I'm pregnant in hopes of getting a better seat (it works,) the flight attendants know so they understand why I'm always requesting water and going to the bathroom - heck, I've even told the man making my breakfast sandwich at the airport in hopes of getting more bacon added (that worked too!) Don't be shy and let people know.
Other than these tips, here are a few quick things to keep in mind in order to help make your flight that much more comfortable while pregnant:
Get up and walk every hour or two to help with the circulation in your legs
Wear compression socks for longer flights
Wear comfortable clothes and dress in layers
Opt for a backpack as your personal item to help distribute the weight
Ask for assistance when dealing with the overhead bin
The thought of flying while pregnant can be daunting, especially if it's your first time. But with a few small steps and considerations, it can be an enjoyable experience!
What do you think? Have you ever flown while pregnant? What are some of your best tips for staying comfortable with air travel? Let me know!
DISCLAIMER: I'm lucky enough to have felt relatively well during the course of my pregnancy and have flown with my midwives knowledge and blessings. Always speak to your doctor/midwife before planning a trip involving air travel.
I love brunch. I love the simplicity of it, the ambiguous timing and the general laid-back energy that comes along with it. I also love spending time with friends, and am happy to host them for a brunch in our tiny Toronto condo. The only thing I don't love? Cooking. That's why you'll find Boursin on the menu for all of my hosted get-togethers.
I absolutely love Boursin cheese - as readers of my blog will recognize from my multiple posts gushing about it. Boursin cheese is produced locally and made out of 100% Canadian Milk. Let's just call it as it is - Boursin is always a hit at every event. Always. There's just something about the delicious taste, and the fact that the texture is so smooth and creamy while remaining crumbly and spreadable. Add in that there are so many delicious flavours to try, perfect for every palette. Boursin is also great about adding new delicious flavours to their line up of cheeses, and the flavour that I chose for my brunch is no exception. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Boursin Apple & Maple.
When I was tasked to host an intimate brunch using the new Boursin flavour Apple & Maple, I knew that I wanted to venture away from my typical cheese plate. Although I'm not a huge fan of cooking and the prep that comes along with it, I tried re-imagining how I would use the new Boursin flavour and in the end I was really happy with the results!
Here's a quick breakdown of a very simple addition to your brunch menu using the new Boursin Apple & Maple flavour:
Cut a baguette into one-inch pieces. You may wish to toast your baguette pieces, but I prefer not. I find it makes them easier to eat when left un-toasted.
Slice up an apple into very thin pieces
Spread some Boursin Apple & Maple onto your pieces of baguette. The amount is totally up to you, but my cheese philosophy is always 'more is more'
Arrange your slices apples on top of the Boursin
Top with a walnut
After it was all said and done, my intimate and simple brunch winded down and there were barely any leftovers to pack up. The Boursin Apple & Maple mini toasts were a hit and I think they may be a welcome addition to all of my hosting menus.
Have you ever hosted a casual brunch? What are some of your favourite no-bake, no-cook recipes? Let me know!
This post was created in partnership with Boursin. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.
I don't know about you guys, but when I first saw those two lines on the pregnancy test indicating that, yes, I was in fact pregnant I had so many thoughts. Of course, the feelings of happiness, exhilaration and sheer panic flooded over me - it's only natural! Once I had a few days to process my emotions, I started getting really excited about my soon-to-be growing bump. I had visions of myself frolicking in a field somewhere, likely with a flower crow and wearing all of the beautiful maternity gowns that I had been stalking online. This would be my pregnancy reality.
Well reality smacked me in the face when I started sourcing out dream pregnancy wardrobe. You guys - maternity clothes are expensive. I'm talking $300+ for one single piece expensive! Considering we honestly don't know if this will be our first and last pregnancy, it seemed insane to spend so much money on clothing that would potentially only be used once. I could already see my visions of field-frolicking replaced by cheap sweat suits.
Enter Sprout Collection. A service that is not only cost-effective, but a sustainable way to build a maternity wardrobe. Essentially what you do is that you rent your maternity wardrobe; selecting four pieces per box with one box per month. The pieces are all either from maternity lines, or non-maternity pieces that have been bump-approved.
All of the pieces to choose from are beautiful, and range from casual to formal wear. I also love that there's lots of selection per season. The best part - I feel as though I'm keeping my sense of self through my pregnancy wardrobe, am saving money and have found a more environmentally sustainable way to have fun with a pregnancy wardrobe. Total win.
Check out pieces from my first Sprout Collection rented box. It will be hard to return them this month, but I'm excited to get four new pieces to add into my wardrobe. If you're an expectant mother, or looking to change up your wardrobe postpartum then I would definitely check out Sprout Collection.
What do you guys think? Have you ever been shocked at the price of maternity clothes? Are you also looking for a more environmentally sustainable way to have fun with your wardrobe? Let me know!
Thank you so much to Sprout Collection for gifting me my first box. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.
If you were to ask me how my pregnancy was going, I would always answer the same way. "It's going great! Just waiting for shit to hit the fan." My standard response, because honestly I've had a really good pregnancy so far. I've felt great, minimal sickness, hardly any of the symptoms that you hear plague most women. I would throw in the "waiting for shit to hit the fan" as part of my schtick, so as to not come off as gloating for having such an easy pregnancy. Did I actually expect anything to possibly go wrong? To be honest, no. Until this past Sunday when shit really did hit the fan.
The weekend was a good one, and totally uneventful. After an easy Sunday Brian and I had dinner, watched some TV and then went to bed. I woke up that evening with terrible stomach cramps, nausea and some vomiting. "Food poisoning" I thought, after cursing making beef for dinner. I mentally swore off red meat and dragged myself to bed to try and sleep it off.
The next morning I felt a little bit off, but figured that I was on the mend. Then all of a sudden, without warning, I started shaking - and couldn't stop. It was so bad that I couldn't walk, could barely talk and after Brian ran home from work we both decided that I should go to the hospital. One ambulance ride later and I was lying on a stretcher in the hallway of emergency. Thankfully because the paramedics knew about my pregnancy, I was transferred quickly to labor and delivery to check on the baby. After some preliminary tests, they discovered that I was severely dehydrated and as a result the baby's heartbeat was faster then it should be. No worries, they told me, just rehydrate and baby's heart rate should lower. I drank as much water as I possibly could, and sure enough baby's heart beat started to lower. I was so happy and thought that the worst was over - and then the shaking started again.
At this point, one of the doctors had come in to check on me and was very concerned. They hooked me up to an IV to control re-hydration and I started to feel better. So much so that I figured it was just dehydration and that I would be able to go home once my IV was done. The one doctor who had witnessed my shaking and had asked me about my nausea and vomiting the night before was definitely being more cautious. He hit me with the bad news - although the chances were very slim, he was concerned that I had contracted Listeriosis and would be treated as such until the blood cultures they had taken were cleared negative. Likely 48 hours.
Listeria is no joke - especially when you're pregnant. It only took a quick Google search to confirm every expectant mother's worst fears - Listeria is devastating for an unborn baby and the prognosis is not good - should they even make it. OMG what a horrible moment that was. I couldn't believe it - I was being so good the entire pregnancy, staying away from soft cheeses, deli meats - everything! Although I was assured that the chances were very slim, you definitely start to assume the worst and I was so anxious to get the results back from my blood tests.
And thus begun my hospital stay. Because I was suspected of contracting Listeriosis, I was placed in isolation. Hey, at least that meant I got my own room. I stayed in that room for the duration of my stay, leaving only to have an abdominal ultrasound to check on my organs, and another ultrasound to check on baby. I was hooked up to an IV for rehydration, as well as receiving antibiotics. I met my team of doctors from the infectious disease unit who were being so thorough, it made me feel very relieved. The nurses are all saints too. As the days went on, I was assured that what I had was likely not Listeria, but they still needed the results back from my blood cultures.
To make a long story short, in the end it wasn't Listeria - THANK GOD! I had a UTI that had moved into my blood stream and had lead to an infection in my kidneys. All very treatable with antibiotics, and because they caught it incredibly early there's been no damage to my kidneys. And the best news of all - baby is 100% fine. I was SO relieved after my ultrasound to see a healthy baby.
So yes, shit did hit the fan this week. But all in all, I'm incredibly grateful with the outcome. Now I'm going to continue with my relatively stress-free pregnancy, but without any schtick about shit hitting the fan. The truth is that I'm so lucky to have a pregnancy that allows me to travel, be comfortable in my day-to-day life and allows me to enjoy the process of becoming a mom. I will never take that for granted again.
Because of the incredible care I received, I'm able to continue with all of our pregnancy plans. This weekend we're hosting a very small gender reveal party with our families, and next weekend Brian and I are taking off to NYC. Most importantly, baby is fine. I'm feeling very grateful. Dare I say it - I feel blessed.
I want to talk about something very near and dear to my heart - the blog. What once started as a hobby, or a creative distraction from a very emotionally heavy job, has since blossomed into a beautiful lifestyle and career that I am so grateful for every single day. La Petite Noob has shape shifted and evolved over the almost 6ish years that it's been alive, and truthfully so has the blogging industry itself. That's right - digital content creation is now a full-blown industry, with terms like "influencer" and "creator" being thrown around. The rise of social media, specifically Instagram, has certainly taken precedence in this newfound industry and the humble blog has completely fallen to the wayside. In a time where likes and followers take precedent over written thoughts and musings, by both creators and advertisers alike, is there really any reason to start or maintain your blog?
Yes. The answer is a resounding yes. I firmly believe that now more than ever is the time to maintain your blog - or even create one, if you haven't already. Here are 3 big reasons that you need a blog in 2019, and need to continue to update and maintain it moving into the future.
You Own Your Blog You do now own your social media accounts. I repeat: you do not own your social media accounts. The blog, on the other hand, is totally yours. A space on the internet that's totally yours to create, write, design, control - and most importantly, nobody can take that away from you.
Your social media accounts are a totally different story. One decision made by the app developers and totally affect your future on said app, and you're powerless to control any of it. Remember the glitch a few weeks ago that rendered Facebook and Instagram completely useless for a day? A small glitch in an app can caused chaos, and is a brutal reminder that you are not in control of your content on any app.
I like to look at my blog as a 'home' for my content, and social media accounts as rented vacation properties. While the rented properties may be more fun, and generate a bigger crowd for any parties, ultimately my blog is home, and is a place in which I own for myself. Just like any home base, your blog is an entity that you can count on and a place for both yourself and your audience to come back to should anything happen to these rented social media accounts.
You Can Elaborate On Your Thoughts In the same respect of thinking of your blog as a home vs. a rented vacation property, I like to use the analogy of my blog being a phone conversation vs. a text message of social media. There's a lot that can get lost in translation in social media, especially with people potentially scrolling through your long, thought provoking captions. We've become a very visual society and while a pretty picture can be enough to draw an audience in, it can ultimately serve as a distraction from what your message truly is.
Though your blog posts may or may not receive as much love as a single post on Instagram, it's a great way to really let your audience know who you truly are as a person. Your blog is a space which you can fully elaborate on your thoughts, share opinions and advice, stories and just general life musings. Even sharing what you like to buy, link and shopping lists have more value to your audience on the blog. I know myself that I feel more of a connection to creators where I read their blog posts as opposed to just scrolling through their Instagram feed.
Truly envision your blog as a long phone conversation as a friend. While there's not the instant gratification of text (aka. a like on social media,) you're left with more fulfillment and a deeper connection to whomever is on the other line.
You Blog Content Can Be Evergreen You've probably heard the term 'evergreen' being tossed around when discussing online content creation. To break it down into the simplest of terms (which, to be fair, is the only way that I understand it haha): evergreen content is searchable, useful and relevant all year round, and year after year.
While the vast majority of my content on La Petite Noob is certainly not classed as evergreen, those posts that are continue to do well in search engines and drive new eyes to my blog on a yearly basis. I have posts that I wrote when I was first starting out in 2014, particularly those relating to travel and packing lists, that still continue to perform and drive thousands of new visitors to my blog each and every month.
And sometimes it's posts that I don't necessarily think will become evergreen content that get picked up by the Google algorithm and start to drive a new audience to La Petite Noob. It's pretty incredible!
The point is, while not all content can be evergreen, there is a much higher potential for it to become so when posted on a blog versus posted on social media. On Instagram in particular, even is a particular post does well, that success is likely very short-lived and certainly does not continue to be so each and every year.
I hope that I've made a case on 3 big reasons that you need a blog. If you haven't started one, there's no time like the present! Haven't shown your blog some love in the last few months? Try to ease your way back into a posting schedule, even if it's just a simple post a week. Invest the time in your blog. You definitely will not regret it on the long run.
What do you guys think? Are you pro blog? What do you think about having a blog versus investing all of your time in social media? Let me know! xo Joëlle
After what could only be described as the trip of a lifetime, my first experience at Disneyland, Brian and I hadn't quite gotten enough of the Californian sun. We went straight from the park upon check out to pick up our rental car and made the 30 minute drive into one of my favourite cities in the world - Los Angeles.
The more I talk to others, the more I realize what a polarizing city that LA can be. You seem to either love it or hate it. Myself, I can't get enough - which is evident through the blog since this will be my third time visiting the city within a year. I just love it all: the weather, the sunshine, cruising around iconic streets that I only see in movies, the food. I even love the grittiness that comes along with the city; a stark contrast from what you see on the big screen. I love it all, and always leave wanting more.
This particular trip was taken at a snail's pace. After a whirlwind experience at Disneyland, Brian and I were looking for a few days to just soak up the sunshine and hit up all of our familiar places. To be honest the only new spot that we really checked out this trip is Sweet Laurel, the sweetest little pink café you ever did see.
3 days in one of our favourite cities was exactly what the doctor ordered, and we left feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Read to take on the brutal Toronto winter that waited for us after a plane ride home - almost, that is.
Let me know if you have ever been to LA. Do you love it, or is it not for you? Where are your favourite spots? Let me know! xo Joëlle
A few weeks ago, right on the heels of coming back from Los Angeles, I had to pleasure of boarding a plane with my friend Didier with Philadelphia as our destination. It would have been both of our first times visiting Philly, and myself I didn't quite know what to expect. I had very basic knowledge of Philadelphia coming into the trip - at best. Think Philly Cheese Steaks and Rocky. While I didn't know much about the city, I was definitely excited to explore a different part of the United States and going into the trip with zero expectations made it all the more fun and exciting.
Now as I sit and reflect on my time in Philadelphia, it's safe to say that my expectations of the city have been exceeded. I was not expecting the hospitality of the people, a bustling food scene and a metropolis so rich in history. Philadelphia really did take my by surprise. I throughly enjoyed my weekend trip to Philly and have already begun brainstorming returning in the summer. If you have Philadelphia on your radar, or are looking for a quick city getaway from Toronto, here are 5 reasons to visit Philadelphia.
The Architecture Our first morning in Philadelphia was our own to explore, and Didier and I found ourselves mostly walking around the downtown area and marvelling at the architecture of the city. A beautiful mix between historic and modern buildings, the sheer size of some of the structures and their presence in the Philadelphia skyline is absolutely incredible. I especially loved all of the art-deco inspired skyscrapers that lined the city streets. Take a quick trip to the waterfront and see the building style change before your eyes. It's really quite something to see! For those of us who are city-lovers at heart, strolling the streets of Philly and enjoying all that the architecture has to offer may just be the perfect way to spend a day.
The Food Scene Philly Cheese Steaks, be gone! The food scene in Philadelphia is positively bustling, and extends far from their namesake sandwich. We were eating like kings and queens, and were hard pressed to ever find a bad meal - even if it was just picking up a quick coffee and croissant! There were so many memorable food moments for me; here's a few of my memorable restaurants from the trip, and ones that I highly recommend should you find yourself hungry in Philadelphia:
Giuseppe and Sons - A modern take on a classic Italian restaurant. I'm talking plush velvet boots, moody corners, brass details. I half expected Frank Sinatra to be making an appearance! Atmosphere aside, the menu boasts classic Italian fare with careful attention being paid to detail and generous portions.
Talula's Garden - A beautiful, intimate restaurant that's situated in Washington Square - one of Philadelphia's oldest and most haunted neighbourhoods. The space boasts rustic decor and a menu made of local, seasonal ingredients. I would love to visit this gorgeous spot in the spring or summer and take advantage of dinning in their gardened outdoor terrace.
Reading Terminal Market- One of America's oldest and largest public markets; a one-stop shop to experience all of the different tastes that Philadelphia has to offer, from both restaurant and grocery. Think St. Lawrence Market, only much much larger. I absolutely loved coming here for breakfast.
Louie Louie - Be still my art deco loving heart! Louie Louie is beautifully styled, upscale American fare at it's finest. We enjoyed a simple brunch and, while it wasn't the most imaginative brunch I've ever had, the decor and atmosphere more than made up for it. I'm anxious to go back for a post-pregnancy martini at their stunning bar.
The Cultural Events
We were told that Philadelphia is a city that always has something going on, and our something for our stay was thePhiladelphia Flower Show. An annual event held at the Pennsylvania Convention Centre, this flower show extends way beyond your basic garden rose. We were lucky enough to be visiting the year that the show was hosting the FTD World Cup competition. Florists from around the world competed in a series of events happening live at the Philadelphia Flower Show, and we were able to see the contestants work live on their arrangements and marvel at their finished masterpieces. The show is huge, with so many different booths and activities - it's a must-do for any horticultural lover.
Museums and Art Galleries
If you're someone who loves to spend their day immersed in different museums and art galleries, then Philadelphia is definitely for you. Didier and I were barely able to scratch the surface on the many museums, art galleries, outdoor gardens and historical displays that Philadelphia has to offer. This city is rich in history and culture - in fact even walking around the downtown area felt like being in a museum since most of the buildings has informative plaques stating their cultural and historical significance to the country! I honestly wish that we had time to experience more of this side of Philly, but I'm really happy that we were able to visit both the Philadelphia Magic Garden and the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts Museum. Both I would highly recommend.
Day Trips Outside of the City
We were lucky enough to be able to venture outside of the Philadelphia city limits, to Brandywine Valley. A short 45 minute drive from our hotel in downtown Philadelphia, Brandywine Valley is the idilic country escape when you need a reprieve from the hustle and bustle of a big city. We visited Longwood Gardens, a sweeping botanical garden that boasts the most stunning indoor garden that I've ever seen! To be completely honest, this little day trip to Longwood Gardens was my favourite memory from our entire weekend - and that's saying a lot coming from a city girl! I so enjoyed wandering the seemingly never-ending rows of manicured indoor garden, marvelling at the orchids during their orchid extravaganza and learning more about the history of Longwood Gardens. My wish it to be able to experience this beautiful botanical wonderland in the Spring and Summer.
I could honestly go on gushing for hours, but I'll leave you with this - if you're planning a trip to Philadelphia, make sure to devote a day to experiencing all that Brandywine Valley and Longwood Gardens have to offer.
Before we knew it, it was time to head back to the airport and take the short one and a half hour plane ride from Philadelphia to Toronto. As an avid traveler, I love when destinations blow me away and exceed my expectations; Philadelphia has certainly made it to this list. I'm so grateful that I was able to experience this incredible city, and am already looking forward to visiting again in warmer weather.
Have you been to Philadelphia? What are you favourite things to-do in the city? Let me know!
Thank you to the Philadelphia Tourism Board for hosting our trip. All thoughts and oppinions are 100% my own.
I am so happy that I was able to experience the magic of Disneyland for the first time in my thirties. I feel like I was able to experience everything with the wide-eye sense of awe of a child, while still being able to appreciate all of the little details like an adult. Did I expect that I would be visiting Disneyland for the first time pregnant? Absolutely not.
I'll admit, when I first thought about experiencing Disneyland while 16 weeks pregnant, I was a little nervous. Would I be able to keep up with the group while spending the day out in the parks? Would I be able to eat everything that I wanted? Would I be able to participate on the rides? There were so many questions and I wondered if I had ultimately made the right decision to experience Disneyland while pregnant.
Thankfully I'm here to tell you that the answer to wether or not to visit Disneyland while pregnant is a huge, resounding YES! I could not have had a better time, and in hindsight can't believe how worried I was about the whole experience. The Disney Parks and Resorts have a special way of taking all visitors and families into consideration, so I don't think that you could find a better place to visit while pregnant. I had an absolute blast and would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
NOTE: I was 16 weeks pregnant while visiting Disneyland, and was lucky enough to be feeling pretty great overall. I know that this may not be the case for all women. Always check with your doctor or midwife before embarking on any travel while pregnant.
That being said, there were still certain precautions and changes to my routine that I had to take into consideration while experiencing Disneyland as a pregnant lady. A few tips and tricks that I picked up very early on into our trip that helped to make each day a success. Here's a few suggestions to take into consideration if you're planning a trip to Disneyland while pregnant. These tips definitely helped me keep my energy levels up and maximize my time at the parks while 16 weeks pregnant.
Stay Hydrated With A Refillable Water BottleProbably my number one tip for keeping your energy up as a pregnant lady visiting Disneyland. It's no secret that staying hydrated is important while visiting the parks, but it's especially important when pregnant. Not only does taking the time to drink plenty of water help to keep your energy levels high, but it also helps to prevent any swelling that may occur from spending hours upon hours on your feet. While there are lots of options around the parks for purchasing bottled water, this can get expensive. Instead remember to bring a sustainable, refillable water bottle with you and take every opportunity to keep it filled - water fountains, and even visiting any of the hotels that are on the Disneyland property.
Oh, and don't worry about the inevitable bathroom breaks that come along with chugging back water. There are lots of bathrooms distributed around Disneyland, and I rarely had to wait in much of a line - even during peak park hours. If you're worried about finding a bathroom, consult the map portion of the Disneyland app. Take Breaks, Stay At A Hotel On-Site
Taking breaks is key when navigating Disneyland while pregnant. As much as you feel as though you want to hit the ground running and keep that pace up the entire day, its important to recognize that the key to making it to the fireworks at night is to take plenty of breaks. Be it a park bench, sitting down for lunch or even having a seat on a curb while watching the parade: breaks are absolutely necessary to avoid burning through all of your energy too early on in the day.
I'll even take it a step further and say that one of the absolute best things that you can do while visiting Disneyland pregnant is to stay at one of their Disney Resort Hotels. Our stay at Disney California Adventure Park was absolutely incredible; not only for being a great hotel with amazing service, but also for helping me pace myself throughout our trip to Disneyland. There were certain parts of the day where a break on a bench simply wouldn't do. I was so grateful to be able to walk back to a room at Disney California Adventure Park and have a quick nap, or even just be able to lie down and unwind for an hour. I would even take disco naps right after dinner so that I was able to make it to the night time shows that Disneyland has to offer.
Staying on-site when visiting Disneyland can definitely be an investment, but goes such a long way for making your stay comfortable and maximizing your time while pregnant.
Be Mindful Of RidesWhile most of the thrill rides at Disneyland are off-limits to pregnant women, the good news is that there are still plenty of rides that can be enjoyed! In fact, I was comforted to know that the list of rides that pregnant ladies can enjoy safely at Disneyland is much larger than the one of those off-limits.
I actually really enjoyed the rides available for pregnant ladies at Disneyland. Each ride was so entertaining, and served as another way for me to get a break in since you're typically sitting!
Visit In The Winter I know this isn't often something that you're able to plan, but if you manage to visit Disneyland during their low-season of winter then it certainly yields a more comfortable experience for expectant mothers. I really appreciated the sunshine that comes along with a Californian climate, but loved the mild temperatures that California experiences in the winter. Being able to wear bare legs, sneakers and sock comfortably and a thick sweater is the perfect combination for a pregnant lady. Plus the added benefits of decreased chances of heat exhaustion and heat-related swelling are music to an expectant mother's ears.
Some Basic Tips
Make sure to pack lots of snacks, or pick up some small treats in the park to eat throughout the day. I made sure to eat a little something every few hours and it made a huge difference with my energy.
Wear comfortable shoes. I wore my trusty tennis shoes with a pair of socks the entire trip and, while not the most fashionable, they did my poor pregnant feet good. If you struggle with swelling during your pregnancy, consider opting for compression socks under a long skirt.
I've been experiencing back pain during my pregnancy, so it was important for me to pack a light backpack to wear for our trip to Disneyland. The Fjallraven Mini Pink backpack is what I brought and I was very happy to have it.
Disneyland VLOG | Disney While Pregnant - YouTube
Don't forget to check out my video that highlights a day at Disneyland, and some more tips on concurring the park while pregnant.
I would love to hear your thoughts! Have you visited Disneyland while pregnant? What are you best pregnancy-related travel tips? Let me know!
Thank you so much to the team at Disneyland for partnering with us for this amazing experience. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.