Watch: Los Angeles Travel Video Blog

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.

Los Angeles

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.

Looking for more Southern California fun? Don’t miss my Disneyland video (15.5 hours packed into five minutes!) as well as my Los Angeles photo post and Top Disneyland Hacks!

Monday Blues: How to Survive Your Work Week

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.

monday blues

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?

chamomile
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.

Monday Blues

Wellness Consultations

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

#FindYourPark: Celebrating 100 Years of National Parks!

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.

Zion National Park

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.

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We visited:

✔ 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.

Arches National Park

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.

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

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!

Yellowstone National Park

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!

Mesa Verde National Park

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!

Mesa Verde National Park

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!

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Want to check out some of our adventures last year at national parks? You can view all those posts in the Archives.

Fall Skincare: Transitioning Your Skin With the Season

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.

fall skincare
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!

Free Fall Activities in Victoria

Autumn is my favourite time of year, and there’s an abundant cornucopia of free fall activities in Victoria to make the most of the season!

Crunchy leaves underfoot, rain drops on windowpanes, and an unmistakable chill in the evening air: autumn is right around the corner and there are fewer places I’d rather be than outside! Fortunately, there are a ton of free fall activities in Victoria that are huge on adventure while being light on the pursestrings. These are a few of my favourites:

1. Ross Bay Cemetery

The final resting place of some of the city’s most notable former residents, appropriately-named Ross Bay Cemetery is hugged inside a grove of trees and lapped by the shores of Ross Bay itself. I’ve visited a few times, always in wetter weather, and have found it to be one of the quietest and most peaceful corners of the city.

Free Fall Activities in Victoria

It’s a beautiful spot to reflect, enjoy silence, walk with your thoughts, and meditate. History buffs will be intrigued by finding names like Emily Carr, Billy Barker, and Sir James Douglas of the Hudson’s Bay empire.

2. Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse

Autumn is apple season, and the crisp apples that grow amongst the orchards at Sea Cider are made into some of the best cider in BC. Linger in the farm’s tasting room, bring a picnic on a sunny autumn day, or enjoy the expansive views across the farm as the season paints a canvas of reds, oranges, and yellows.

Sea Cider
Photo: FernwoodNRG on Flickr

Kids are welcome and the tasting room is open all year-round from 11:00 am until 4:00 pm. Be sure to all ahead to confirm opening hours or to inquire about a tour.

3. Hike to Mystic Beach

Beaches are inevitably busy during the summer months, so there is something magical about strolling along a wind-swept sea with few others in sight. Mystic Beach, a short drive from Greater Victoria and northwest of Sooke, is a picture-perfect backdrop for shore exploration no matter what time of year.

Free Fall Activities in Victoria

Even if the rain is falling, lose yourself in the lush canopy of forest as you walk amongst old-growth trees on the trail to the beach. Plus, the extra-cold days are the perfect excuse to warm up with a hot chocolate at the Cold Shoulder Cafe in nearby Jordan River after your adventure.

4. Salmon Run at Goldstream Provincial Park

From mid-October until early December, millions of salmon return to Goldstream Provincial Park to spawn each year. Visitors may see Coho and Chinook salmon, as well as Steelhead and Cutthroat trout, all pushing their way upstream in a show of nature that is truly spectacular. The dramatic fall colours only enhance this exciting time in the life cycle of British Columbia’s fish population.

Goldstream
Photo: Nick Thompson on Flickr

For more information – including some important tips – visit the Goldstream Park website.

5. Cycle the Galloping Goose

Gulp in the fresh air, be dazzled by the fall colours, and pedal your stress away with a bike ride along the Galloping Goose Trail. Loop from downtown Victoria to Esquimalt for a quick jaunt; more ambitious riders can make their way out to East Sooke Park to see the fall foliage in all its splendour.

Galloping Goose Trail - Vancouver Island, BC
Photo: Donnie Kolb on Flickr

Your Turn: How to you make the most of the fall months in our province’s capital? Have I left out any free and fun activities that you’d like to mention? Share it in the comments below!