Updated on September 28, 2016
The one and only original Comox Valley Pumpkin Patch, a visit to Shamrock Farm each October is a Halloween tradition!
Each year I eagerly anticipate the month of October for a cornucopia of reasons: falling leaves, flickering jack-o-lanters, brisk autumn mornings have my heart, but a visit to my favourite Comox Valley Pumpkin Patch, Shamrock Farm, is what truly thrills me! I’ve been taking my niece each year since she was only a toddler, and every October we look forward to our visit together. I’ve even started “dragging” my husband along too. The truth is that he enjoys it just as much as we do!
For nearly 20 years, Shamrock Farm has opened up its gates for their annual Halloween festivities, a family-friendly event has become a memorable tradition for locals. “What we love best about opening our small pumpkin farm to the public is watching families return each year,” enthuses my friend and co-owner/operator Shannon Farrell. “We have made lifelong friends through this farm. Returning to the Shamrock Farm pumpkin patch is not only a tradition for them, it’s a tradition for us.”
From October 1st through to the 31st, visit the farm and choose from over two dozen varieties of pumpkins, 100% of which are grown at Shamrock Farm. Carving pumpkins, sugar pumpkins, and even the aptly-named Goosebumps variety are just a few of the gourds you can choose for decorating your front porch or Thanksgiving table this season. It’s not unusual to encounter one of many Comox Valley school groups on a field trip while romping through the pumpkin patch!
Children will enjoy meeting the farm’s resident goats, miniature horses, and free-roaming chickens. Hay rides out to the pumpkin patch are offered on weekends, and for the sixth year in a row, a corn-and-hay-bale maze has been designed to wander and wonder. Let your taste buds be tempted with hot chocolate or hot apple cider (made from Shamrock Farm’s own apples!) in the Haunted Barn, or take home a pumpkin pie tart, chocolate-dipped farm apple, or pumpkin pie gelato created by Benino Gelato.
The farm is open every day during October, including Thanksgiving Monday, from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm. On October 22nd and 29th, the farm is open until 8:00 pm for a spooktacularly fun time with a bonfire and illuminated jack-o-lanterns. (Children attending must have flashlights.)
Admission is FREE (as always) and all are welcome. For more information, visit Shamrock Farm’s website or call 250-339-1671. Shamrock Farm is located at 2276 Anderton Road in Comox. Follow the updates from Shamrock Farm on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Updated on September 25, 2016
Baseball, cupcakes, palm trees, and poolside cocktails: a week in Los Angeles is a vibrant travel experience!
Walking the fine line between action packed and spontaneous, Rebecca and I were determined to make the most of our week in Los Angeles this summer. We had the lucky fortune of being hosted by two good friends – both of whom happen to be locals – so she and I were treated to the best street tacos, most gimmicky cupcakes, and everything excellent in between.
Pack your bag and come along with us to the City of Angels. I’ve packed seven days into four minutes so hang on to your passport and enjoy the ride.
Updated on September 26, 2016
Having the Monday Blues is a legit phenomenon, but there are also very real ways to triumph over them!
After quitting my job in 2014, I started to embrace Mondays. Sunday nights were no longer sleepless, and for the most part, I’d bound into work at the start of the week with renewed energy. However, I’d be lying if I said that was the norm, and there are definitely days I feel the Monday blues. Today is one of those days.
Medicine was an expensive commodity during World War II, so French surgeon Jean Valnet began treating soldiers with essential oils. The practice was nothing new – evidence dates back to Ancient Egyptian use – but “aromatherapy” was a newly-coined term at the time thanks to Dr. Valnet. Thankfully the science is starting to back it up!
Aromatherapy for the Monday Blues
For myself, using aromatherapy has become Option Numero Uno when I’m feeling stressed, tired, anxious, or over-worked at the office. There are seven essential oils, in particular, that are especially helpful.
1. Lavender – My favourite! This floral-based EO has a calming and relaxing effect. It’s beautifully supportive when needing sleep, feeling restlessness or irritability, or feeling a general sense of nervousness or tension.
2. Ylang Ylang – Say “aloha!” to this tropical-scented EO known to invoke cheerfulness, courage, and optimism. According to Dr. Axe, it may also calm heart agitation and nervous palpitations or work as a moderately strong sedative (which is fantastic for those sleepless Sunday nights).
3. Bergamot – Earl Grey tea lovers may be drawn to this citrusy-scented oil, known for boosting energy. Counterintuitively, it can also battle insomnia by inducing relaxation by reducing agitation.
4. Chamomile – No wonder this has always been my favourite nighttime tea: chamomile has been linked to promoting a sense of inner harmony while decreasing irritability, overthinking, anxiety, and worry. And who of us can’t relate to each of those sometimes?
Photo: Sharin on Flickr
5. Frankincense – The King of Oils is also officially my favourite oil these days. The oil from its resin can be an effective tool in supporting you when you’re feeling down because it provides tranquility and grounding.
6. Vetiver – With its hyper-strong scent, vetiver makes for a great buddy to lavender (especially if you’re diffusing oils) and provides grounding as well as a reassuring energy. When seeking feelings of calm and self-awareness, vetiver can be your new best friend.
7. Balance – Okay, okay… not technically a single essential oil, but this blend has become essential to me. Appropriately named, this gorgeous mixture of spruce needle/leaf, ho wood, frankincense resin, blue tansy flower, and blue chamomile flower essential oils is a must at the start of my day. I massage it into the arches of my feet as well as the back of my neck and wrists for a calming and, well, balanced impact on my day.
I’m here for you, friends! If the Monday blues have you bummin’ – or you’ve got a health concern or question (or just want to know more about how you can support your health in a more natural way) – I’d love to chat with you! I’m seriously passionate about this stuff.
For a one-on-one wellness consultation with yours truly, you can reach me through my contact form and I’ll get in touch with you within 24 hours – promise!
Illustration photo by Victor Hanacek
Updated on September 22, 2016
America’s National Park System turned 100 years old in August, celebrating with the #FindYourPark campaign!
If you’ve been following me on Twitter or Instagram for a while, you’ve probably seen me use the #FindYourPark hashtag in a post. The National Park System, comprised of nearly 60 national parks across 50 states, was created on August 25, 1916 when President Woodrow Wilson signed the Act. Yellowstone National Park was the first-ever park, setting a precedent for America’s breathtaking and diverse parks.
Last year my husband and I set out on an incredible road trip throughout the Western U.S. and, with our annual pass in hand, we crossed nine national parks and two national monuments off our list. We’re often asked: “which was your favorite?” Answering that is like choosing the best-ever flavor of ice cream: they’re all delicious for entirely unique reasons.
✔ Glacier National Park
✔ Yellowstone National Park
✔ Grand Teton National Park
✔ Arches National Park
✔ Mesa Verde National Park
✔ Hovenweep National Monument
✔ Grand Canyon National Park
✔ Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
✔ Bryce Canyon National Park
✔ Zion National Park
✔ Redwood National Park
I’ve got a deep fondness for the national parks I’ve visited, so when Cotopaxi reached out to me and asked me to share my national park pride, I couldn’t turn them down. (Cotopaxi is a rad company that designs and creates outdoor gear with a mission to support the fight against global poverty with their travel backpacks.) For as many years as I can remember, exploring the great outdoors has been a huge part of my life. As I’ve gotten older, spending time outside has become vital to my overall well-being.
In a day and age where technology likes to think it’s king, the necessity of the National Park Service is greater than ever. National parks provide spaces to explore, relax, and be inspired. My husband and I get so excited to spend time in nature because it’s good for us as individuals and also serves as a fantastic way to further bond our relationship. He has taught me to love the mountains; I’ve shown him how beautiful the ocean is.
The great thing about America’s national parks is there they’re all over the place. While a few states have several, most states have at least one within a day’s drive. Here in the Pacific Northwest we have four of our own!
National parks are not simply the domain of the adventurous. There are abundant opportunities for hiking, photography, guided tours, wildlife viewing, swimming, camping, picnicking and more. One of our favorite ways to explore a national park is to not plan at all but instead see where the park will take us!
As I mentioned, we started our road trip by purchasing an annual pass. For $80, we enjoyed unlimited access to all the parks we wanted to visit – all without paying the individual parks’ entrance fees. The pass fees collected go to maintaining the parks, allowing them to be accessible to all, and hiring some truly awesome park rangers – like Brian (pictured below) at Mesa Verde National Park! And yes, the passes are available to Canadians too!
Ready to explore a national park in your area? Pack up a Cotopaxi backpack, grab your pass, and share some #ParkPride as your #FindYourPark this year!
Want to check out some of our adventures last year at national parks? You can view all those posts in the Archives.
Updated on September 21, 2016
With cooler, damper weather, your skin’s needs will change. A strong fall skincare routine is essential.
There’s something comfy and cozy about autumn weather, but it can also wreak havoc on skin that’s used to the toasty, warm vitamin D it’s exposed to in the summer months. Implementing a fall skincare routine, customized to the changes in weather, will help ease your face and body into a new season while maintaining a healthy, supple glow.
Photo: Victor Hanacek
To get a few tips on transitioning my face and body from August to autumn, I consulted my go-to pals at METRIN Skincare (seriously – is there anything that team of experts doesn’t know about skincare?). They gracious shared with me a few ideas to tuck into my arsenal as the leaves turn:
1. Drink Water! Getting enough water each day will hydrate your body, which in turn helps to hydrate your skin from within. I aim for two litres each day with a bit of grapefruit essential oil added.
2. Use a Humidifier Purchasing and using a humidifier or an ultrasonic diffuser every single day adds moisture back into your home’s air, helping keep dry skin supple.
3. Exfoliate The exfoliation process removes dead skin cells from your body. I love this make-it-yourself ginger-lime sugar scrub. If you have sensitive skin, be gentle. Regular, gentle exfoliation is best for your skin.
4. Moisturize Moisturizing is key to your fall skincare routine. As autumn approaches, make sure to moisturize in both the morning and evening. Drier skin will feel better if you switch to a richer moisturizer with higher oil content, provided that the oil is non comedogenic. My personal all-over solution is organic, cold-pressed coconut oil because I can purchase it by the tub at Costco!
5. Take Shorter Showers Long, hot showers or baths will leave your skin lacking moisture. Opt for shorter, lukewarm showers instead.
6. Use Shower Gel Ditch the bar soap and opt for a body wash that states it is “hydrating.”
7. Change Your Diet Foods that are rich in Omega-3 essential fatty acids and antioxidants such as Vitamins A, C, and E can actually help reverse summer damage while preparing your skin for the challenging colder months ahead.
8. Wear Gloves Cover up at the first sign of cold! Skin chapping on the hands can happen even before the temperature turns frigid, causing sensitive skin and dry hands.
9. Apply Lip Balm Using a hydrating lip balm is a good habit to get into as soon as the weather starts to get cooler. But, again, watch for toxic ingredients. A dab of coconut oil will do the trick!
10. Stay Active Resist the urge to hibernate as the weather gets cooler. Maintain an active life style to help stay healthy from the inside out to boost your mind, body, and skin.
YOUR TURN: What are some of your go-to fall skincare tips? Share them in the comments below!