Girlfriend getaways in Prince Edward County

5 May 2018 | 0 Comments

Every year, my BFFs and I do a weekend getaway together. This year we’re going to Prince Edward County for the third year in a row. We love the towns, restaurants, wineries and countryside – it’s the perfect place for a mini-vacay with friends.

Someone asked me recently for recommendations for a girlfriend’s getaway in PEC, so I figured I would share my picks with all of you.

Full home accommodations (for groups):

The group I travel with is 6 women, so we’re more comfortable in a whole-home rental (as opposed to everyone staying in hotel rooms). Last year we rented this historic farmhouse in Quinte West, about 30 minutes north of Prince Edward County. The classic Canadiana decor is so fun, and we had a blast chilling by the pool with floaties. The large front porch has a hammock and lots of seating – perfect for spending afternoons chatting and drinking all the wonderful wine we purchased in the county.

This year we’ve rented this adorable farmhouse near Picton. No pool this year, but the hot tub more than makes up for it.

Hotels:

The Drake Devonshire is the place to be in Prince Edward County. Right in the heart of adorable Wellington, with its spectacular on-site restaurant, the Drake is fantastic. But it only has 13 or so rooms, so snagging a reservation can be tricky.

The June Motel is a great value option for groups. The owners took a mid-century motor lodge, right in the middle of wine country, and turned it into a hip, retro modern motel.

Bed and breakfasts:

For traditional bed and breakfast accommodation, the Edward and Thyme Again Gardens are both amazing options.

Where to eat and drink:

Me and my pals build our itinerary around mealtimes and wine tours. Everything else is just hang-out time. In the past, our favourite wineries to visit are Hinterland, Norman Hardie, and my personal fave, Rosehall Run (I buy their Hungry Point Sauvignon Blanc by the case).  This year we’re looking to expand that list a bit – I’ll report again in June with an update.

A lot of the wineries have food options onsite. Our favourite so far is the pizza oven at Norman Hardie. They have a casual outdoor restaurant with wood-fired pizza, which pairs perfectly with a glass of wine and a view of the vineyards.

The restaurant at the Drake Devonshire Inn is fantastic, for dinner, lunch or weekend brunch. Make reservations though – it’s a hot spot. I love the breakfasts at Enid Grace cafe in Wellington. And ice cream from Slicker’s in Bloomfield or Picton is an absolute must.

There’s a fantastic Farmer’s Market in Wellington on Saturdays and Sundays. You can pick up farm fresh food and take it back to your accommodation for your own feast. Pair that with a bottle (or three) of local wine and you’re set. Seriously, is there anything better than good food, good wine, and time spent with friends?

 

PS – A weekend in Prince Edward County with a 6-year old

Podcasts I’m loving these days

8 April 2018 | 0 Comments

Which podcasts are you loving these days? I have my regular tech industry pods (Reply All, Betakit’s CanCon podcast, Recode Decode, Too Embarrassed to Ask, etc etc) but I like to go beyond those.

My current favourite podcast (as in, I watch for new episodes every Friday and download and listen as quickly as I can) is Call Your Girlfriend. I love how hosts Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman talk about politics and pop culture and everything in between. They’re smart, warm, and I feel like I’m catching up with old friends every time I listen. The most current episode features an interview with Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood. It was seriously inspirational.

When I’m in a light-hearted, self-care mood, Forever35 is just the ticket. Hosts Doree and Kate discuss makeup and skincare routines with a bunch of great guests.

It’s been gone for years, but I still miss the Oprah show. I get little doses of the Wonderful One through her Super Soul Sessions podcast. It’s the closest I come to going to church.

And I just read on Twitter that Jonathan van Ness (of Queer Eye fame) has a podcast called Getting Curious. Can you believe? Downloading now.

My go-to online shops for plus size clothes

3 April 2018 | 0 Comments

It seems like shopping for clothes is difficult for every woman I know, and extra hard for plus size women. Especially in Canada, where “normal” stores only go to size 14 or so (the same stores in America will often carry a few sizes larger than their Canadian counterparts).

I’m 5’10” tall and I wear size 16 or 18, depending on the brand. That means finding clothes that fit, look good, don’t cost a bajillion dollars and are situation-appropriate is agonizing. It’s enough to make me want to throw in the towel and wear a uniform every day. But I need varied looks for my television appearances and speaking gigs, so that means regular shopping. Blech.

Here’s how I deal: online shopping. I can take my time, watch for sales, and never leave the couch. Much better than shopping in stores, which often results in me being frustrated and hangry.

Some of my favourite looks from online shops (photos above, from left to right): black jumpsuit from ASOS Curve, “fit and flare” red dress from Land’s End, long blue dress with white piping detail from Joe Fresh, long sleeve wrap dress also from Joe Fresh, and pink bell-sleeve dress from AdditionElle. I also love City Chic and Mod Cloth. A friend swears by eShakti but I haven’t tried them yet.

Which online plus size shops do you love?

We’re going back to Scotland this summer

11 March 2018 | 0 Comments

When I was younger, I craved new experiences. I never wanted to travel to the same place twice. Why, when there are so many new places to explore? But now I’m older (my 38th birthday is coming up. I’m not exactly ancient, I know, but stay with me here).  And in my ripe old age, I know what I like. I like Scotland. A lot. So we’re going back in July.

Our trip will be 2 weeks, and the second week will be on the Isle of Skye (the first week’s plans are undetermined – more on that to come). While on Skye, we’re staying in a small, luxurious cabin on the Trotternish Peninsula, with sea views out to Rona and Raasay. We’re looking forward to hiking the Old Man of Storr, dining at The Three Chimneys, and relaxing fireside with a wee dram.

I’ll share more as our plans evolve. And if you have any hot tips, please comment!

PS – photos from our last trip to Scotland.

Image of Skye by Paul Morris.

A Colouring Book I Wholeheartedly Endorse

27 February 2018 | 0 Comments

I’ve been known to poo poo adult colouring. I just don’t get it. But if you’re into it, or if you have a kid who loves colouring as much as mine does, you *need* to support this: The 2018 UnCommon Women Colouring Book. Heck, even if you don’t like colouring and don’t know anyone who does, support it anyway.

The UnCommon Women Colouring Book is a project from my pal Kelsey. She commissioned illustrator Rori! to create the Uncommon Women colouring sheets, featuring badass women of the open movement across libraries academia, Creative Commons, Mozilla, Open Source Software and Wikipedia.

I just ordered my colouring book and sticker set. I’m going to colour with my daughter. I might even enjoy it!

My must-have tech and electronics for traveling

24 February 2018 | 0 Comments

I travel a lot, for work and for fun. I did a quick search on my TripIt app (my must-have for coordinating my travel itineraries) and I took 39 flights in the last year. Wowza! Here’s a list of the tech and electronics I pack for my voyages.

Away carry-on suitcase
Away makes “smart” suitcases (they have battery packs in them for charging your devices on the go) but that’s not what I love most about my Away carry-on. I adore the suitcase for its durability and packing compartments. Away is a startup by two women, and their thoughtful attention to design and detail is in evident in every aspect of the bag.

iPad Pro
If I’m on a trip where I don’t need all the software of my laptop (I’m looking at you, Photoshop), I’ll bring an iPad Pro instead. I load it up with movies and TV shows for in-flight entertainment, and can easily write articles and emails when I attach the “magic” keyboard. I like the split-screen function for productivity and being able to save and access files in a folder was a big iOS game changer for me.

Bose QC 35 wireless noise cancelling headphones
These are huge and I always feel like a dork wearing giant over-ear headphones, but they’re super comfortable and work well. The sound is rich, the noise cancellation is phenomenal on planes, and putting them on is the universal sign for “leave me alone please”.

Kindle Oasis eReader
Yes, I could read on the iPad, and even though I like to pack light I often will bring both a tablet and an eReader with me. The Kindle Oasis is a gorgeous device. Lightweight, slim, and waterproof. That’s a huge deal for me – I love to read in the bath and don’t have to worry about splashes or dropping the device in the water.

Dyson SuperSonic hair dryer
I have a million hair styling tools (curling wands, hair straighteners, hot rollers, and more) but when I’m on the road I don’t have enough space to bring all those with me. I pack the Dyson SuperSonic hair dryer, because it’s amazing, but also because it’s small. It dries my hair super fast, and then I pop on the “styling concentrator” attachment and use a round brush to give myself a blow-out that rivals a salon. Seriously. It’s the only hair tool I need to pack.

Photo of a plane over Toronto, taken on a flight home from Seattle last year.

My new favourite pub in Toronto

17 February 2018 | 2 Comments

A few months ago, friends suggested we have lunch at a pub in the Upper Beaches. They said it had a killer whisky list, and we needed to check it out. I’m so glad we did – this is now my new favourite pub in the city.

It’s called The Feathers and from the outside, it’s nondescript. You’d never know what treasures are inside – amongst the worn but cozy interior is the most insane whisky selection. They have over 350 single malts (300 of them are not available at the LCBO).Don’t like scotch? They have a decent beer list too, including Fuller’s on tap (which can be hard to find in Toronto). The food is simple and delicious pub fare (mmmmm cottage pie) and the walls are covered with photos from Scotland. Between the atmosphere, the photos and the whisky, The Feathers warms my heart.

What books should I read on the beach next week?

30 January 2018 | 3 Comments

We’re escaping the cold next week on a beach vacay, and I need to load up my eReader with books. I have more than enough non-fiction, so I don’t need more of those. What fiction books have you read lately?

I’m wrapping up Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan right now, and was thinking of downloading the Crazy Rich Asians books next. There’s also Bellevue Square by Michael Redhill, which recently won the Giller Prize.

Last year I read Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty and loved it. I’m thinking of trying her Truly Madly Guilty. Have you read it? Thoughts? Any tips you have for great beach reads would be so appreciated!

Photo of me starting Manhattan Beach on a plane on my Kindle Oasis earlier this month, from my Instagram

For work and play, the Dell Latitude 5289 2-in-1 is all the laptop you need

24 January 2018 | 0 Comments

Over the past two years, my work habits have really changed. I used to wake up, take Clara to school, brew some coffee and head upstairs to the desk in my home office. Then I’d work for hours at my desktop computer. Now I hardly ever sit at that desk. Most days you’ll find me working in one of two places: I’m either on the couch at home (close to the fireplace on a chilly winter day) or I’m at my favourite neighbourhood coffee shop, Te Aro.

The change in my routine really comes from advancements in laptops. I used to need to use my desktop computer because a laptop wasn’t powerful enough for me, or the battery didn’t last long enough, or it was too dang heavy to carry around. Now all I need is a modern laptop, my backpack, Wi-Fi and a coffee. Have laptop, will travel!

Recently Dell invited me to check out their Latitude line of laptops, and put one through its paces. I spent a week using the Dell Latitude 5289 2-in-1 laptop, and it was all I needed to power my business. This laptop is a workhorse. It has the speed and power to run all the apps I need (including Photoshop, which can make a lot of devices chug). Its battery lasts really a long time (literally ALL DAY on one charge), and the size and weight are perfect for portability.

Between Dell’s security software and Windows Defender, I didn’t need to worry about safety with the Latitude. My files are secure, and the device can only be unlocked with my face (using Windows Hello) or my secure PIN. Even Ian couldn’t get in to try it out without my permission!

I love 2-in-1 laptops (the keyboard and screen hinge backward, flipping from laptops to tablets). It’s so easy to covert the Latitude into a tablet, grab the Active Pen, and start writing on the screen. Perfect for to-do lists, jotting notes, and leaving comments and markup on documents.

When I’m on the go (especially on business trips) I like to use a laptop for a bit of work, and then I want to switch it up for some entertainment. This is where the “tent” mode works so well in the Latitude 5289 2-in-1. I can pop open Netflix, tent the laptop, and catch up on The Crown (I’m halfway through season two now). The built-in speakers aren’t bad, and if I want big sound I can connect my Bluetooth headphones to the laptop easily. Speaking of connections, this laptop has a bunch of ports (HDMI, SD card, USB-C and USB 3.0) so you don’t need to carry a bag of adapters and dongles with you.

During the week I used the Dell Latitude 5289 2-in-1, I never once wished I had a different device with me. From work to play, it really can do it all.

This post was developed in partnership with Dell. The content is sponsored, but the opinions are my own.

Whoa you have to check out this architectural vacation rental website

11 January 2018 | 0 Comments

I am drooling over PlansMatter, a new vacation rental website. It’s like Airbnb but specifically for vacation rental properties that have beautiful architecture. You have to see the four-bedroom house with pool on a cliff in the Santa Monica mountains in California (pictured above). Could you imagine staying there?!? Or this strikingly simple farmhouse in Denmark?

Not all the listings are far away… there are many properties in Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Michigan, and there’s a large cottage for rent just a few hours outside Toronto, in Haliburton.

View all the featured properties on the PlansMatter website here.