Lauren's Last Minute Gift Guide for KIDS!

I may not have kids of my own, but Auntie Lauren knows a thing or two about the hottest trends for kids these days (or at least knows who to ask!) Here's a short list of some last minute gifts that are sure to excite the little ones...

Books

Books are a great gift for any age; the appreciation for books changes throughout childhood but it never disappears. 

This is the only item on this list you'd have to order online, but I think it's worth the extra cash (and possible stress!). The Little Boy (Or Girl!) Who Lost His Name is a fun tale of a journey in search of your child's lost name. This neat story is great for any age, but especially for those who are starting to learn their letters and how to spell their own name. Also, this dedication at the beginning of the book may just be the perfect gift in and of itself: "We meet a lot of magical and wonderful creatures throughout our lives. These are just the first. We hope you meet a whole lot more." Choose SUPER SPEEDY shipping to ensure it'll get here on time!

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My friend's daughter received this book when she was born, but it's not uncommon for my friend to send me quotes from this book from time to time to bring me a little encouragement! The pictures are as sweet as the words, doubling as a lovely piece of wall art on a child's bookcase as well. Bonus: this book is on sale now!

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Pajamas

There are few things cuter than a baby/toddler/kid in pjs - especially when those pjs are candy cane striped or decked with all things Holiday! There are many stores right now selling Holiday pajamas and you really can't go wrong with any, but here are a couple cute options that won't break the bank. Leo's and Emerson's pjs are from here.

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Experience

What any kid really wants is to spend time with his or her favourite aunt/uncle/parent/goofy friend-of-parent. Take a special date to one of the many kid-oriented holiday festivities (many open until January 6 or 7) such as Van Dusen Festival of Lights, The Peak of Christmas on Grouse Mountain, Bright Nights in Stanley Park. Or wait til the Holiday madness settles down and give their gift in spring with tickets to Children's Festival!

 

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Picture from: http://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/festival-of-lights.aspx

There is something about seeing Christmas through the eyes of a child, whether it's a visit to Santa at the mall or the first glimpse of the tree and stockings Christmas morning - it's magic. So regardless if you approach this season with the excitement of Elf or more of a bah humbug/I'll come around by the 25th, I think the best part of this time of year is the traditions and memories you make with your family and friends (yes - it's that time of the season where I'm an emotional mess). One of my favourite family traditions was leaving a note for Santa along with carrots for Rudolph, cookies and milk and a Heineken... 

I'd love to hear your traditions - leave me a comment below!

xx

LC

The 6 things I lived in all summer.

I can't believe it's September - I literally don't know where August went. Yet, here we are, on the Labour Day long weekend, getting ready for perhaps a new school year, the return of sweaters and, for most, trying to cram in all of those things you didn't get to the past two months. I justified the $80 pineapple pool floatie in the spring - I'm going to get all the use out of it the last 3 days of summer... just me? 

Regardless of my bucket list coming and going I do have a few things to show for my summer: took in a few ball games, a trip to the lake, visit with the family, coordinated the most fun wedding, am slightly more golden hue than my pasty winter look - I'll chalk it up as a win. What I did notice scrolling through my phone photos is that there is a definite trend in my attire. My wardrobe was basically on repeat with a small number of pieces that I could tolerate from my closet, and I'm not mad about it. 

It may be my age or my appreciation for beautiful things, but I find myself donating clothes every few weeks; I just can't be bothered to keep something around for the maybe one off time that I'll need a neon leopard print dress. Don't get me wrong, I love love clothes. I'm crap at doing make up: I'll never master the winged eye liner and I'm not great with hair. But I literally plan my walk to work to go by store fronts to see what latest trends are in the window. I love the confidence clothes can give you and how your style and mood are always reflected in what you wear. I'm currently on the hunt for the perfect red dress, maybe because I just watched Pretty Woman or maybe I just want to be Jessica Rabbit. Either way - the hunt continues.

I predict my summer wardrobe will merge into my fall wardrobe - the thing about the classics is they'll always be transferable and in style, or will come back in fashion. My cliche obsession of the summer was definitely the scrunchie, and I'm not giving it up. 

The summer round up ...

  • These Aritzia pants are life, I wear them to any and every occassion. Work, dates, the bar and weddings - so versatile! Worth the investment. 
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  • The ruffled sandal - the $25 impulse purchase has been my go to for the summer. It was basically a mule that could show off my pedicure and work appropriate flip flops. 
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  • Lace ups! My closet is now home to all things lace ups, an easy interest piece that can update any jeans look. I picked up this shirt in Amsterdam but the brand can be found at several boutique shops in Vancouver or online here.
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  • Athleisure: when gym where meets the pencil skirt.
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  • Tassels! Update the t-shirt look with a tassel earring or necklace - I found these ones at J.Crew here.
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  • Bandanas: work as a head scarf or around the neck, it was a perfect way to deal with a hot summer day and keep your hair out of your face. 
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What did YOU wear all summer?? Will you keep up the trends when the leaves start to fall? 

Happy September!

xx

LC

Baseball, Breweries, and Bubbles

Well! It has been a busy week for this girl, but a great one. I celebrated my day of birth and for all you Virgos out there you can attest to the fact that we are very stubborn people and I personally would rather fuss over others than others fuss over me. This week turned out to be a series of wonderful events that allowed me to spend my time with some of my favourite people. Overall, it made for a very memorable and enjoyable birthday week - a week that may take me another week to recover from.

My friends and I have been going down to the watch the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners play for 5 years now. This year the series landed on my birthday, so to keep up with the tradition 10 of us headed down to Seattle (along with the rest of Vancouver and any Blue Jay fan in the tri-state area), to cheer on what would hopefully be the turning point of the recent subpar Blue Jays' performance (and, of course, to heckle some Mariners along the way.) The Jays put on an epic performance and had all of Safeco field erupting in excitement with their 10-2 win. I love Safeco field: the roof was open, the structure is simple and airy, and I also think there isn't a bad seat in the place. Another selling feature of the stadium is the garlic fries - who doesn't love to eat chunks of garlic?? Well, some people I'm sure have a garlic aversion, so I'd recommend it to be an all or nothing decision in the group because the smell is STRONG. With the buzzing energy of the game, the after party led us to the infamous Cowgirls. Think Coyote Ugly meets Urban Cowboy: girls in leather chaps and a mechanical bull. The Blue Jays even made an appearance, they must have heard it was my birthday...

This weekend I was also gifted a Brewery Tour from my sister! A first for me and definitely on my Vancouver to-do list. I'd highly recommend Vancouver Brewery Tours - our guide Rachel was awesome and very knowledgable! Vancouver is now home to 50+ breweries and that number is only growing. We visited 3 breweries: Brassneck, Strange Fellow and Storm. My preference of beer is not as extensive as my preference of coffee by any means, so I was excited to learn more about the art of craft beer. My lovely mother (an avid wine drinker) joined me so it was a fun new experience for the both of us. I've summarized each brewery along with my favourite brew and some facts I learned along the way: 

  • Brassneck:
    • What I learned: 
      • The 4 ingredients to Beer: Yeast, Hops, Water and Barley.
      • There are actually only TWO types of beer: Ale and Lager.
    • What I drank: No Brainer, Hibiscus Wit, Old Money Mild, Passive Aggressive.
    • Favourite: No Brainer! 

 

  • Strange Fellows:
    • What I learned:
      • A brewery known for it's sour beer selection and aged beers - that's right: like wine, beer can be aged for years! On average, most beers age 6-8 weeks but some can be up to 15 years.
      • Oak Barreling: Offers a different depth of flavours and aromas that are absorbed by the beer over time.
    • What I drank: Sour, Saison, Dunkel, White IPA.
    • Favourite: Saison or the Sour - it almost tasted like a cider.

 

  • Storm Brewery:
    • What I learned:
      • Vancouver's oldest brewery! (In operation for 22 years).
      • When drinking a sour beer you are supposed to take 3 sips to appreciate the taste.
      • The owner does NOT like pumpkin beer but brewed an 'Apple Pie' Lager which was delicious for fall! 
    • What I drank: Vanilla Whiskey Stout and Apple Pie Ale
    • My Favourite: BOTH!! 

My birthday celebrations concluded with a girls' night out for dinner at Hapa Izakaya for some sake and sushi, followed by bubbles and live music at the The Lobby Lounge in the Fairmont Pacific Rim. A great spot for live music and even better people watching. 

So there you have my birthday round up. It was a great week and I'm so lucky to have all the amazing people in my life that I do (insert sappy emoji here). 

xx

LC

 

Weekend on the Sunshine Coast!

I love weekend getaways; a short and sweet escape from your regular routine and usual weekend activities. However, in order to do the art of weekending well you need to make sure you plan ahead to get the most out of your trip! Yes a bit of a tedious task but usually every group may have a planner(or volunteers) to take charge and make sure everyone has the best time. My list below is tips that I find helpful, a little how-to guide if you will... 

  • Location! Location! Location!
    • This weekend my friends and I went to Half Moon Bay, BC on the Sunshine Coast, not to be confused with Half Moon Bay in California - that location looked great too, but unfortunately was not in the sailing schedule for BC ferries... It was everyone's first time to the Sunshine Coast and it did not disappoint! Even better, from door to door the travel time was just less than 3 hours - that included a ferry ride!
    • **FIRST TIP: For weekend getaways, don't spend your whole time travelling, you'll barely feel relaxed before you have to back up and go again! I'd say destinations in the 3-5 hour range are best for Friday-Sunday trips.
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Smuggler's Cove

  • Accommodation
    • **SECOND TIP: Whether you're a group of six or a twosome, think about what you're looking for out of the weekend to plan for the best accommodations. Trips to the spa might mean you're best suited for a resort or hotel, in our case we were looking to relax by the fire pit and make some delicious food (Seafood Boil!! More on that later!). An Air BnB was the best value and suited our agenda, be sure to note the number of people in the house allowed and any additional costs! We rented a house that had enough space for everyone to have a room, a huge kitchen, a fire pit and the seclusion from city life we were looking for. 
  • FOOD!
    • Again, location becomes a factor when planning the food situation, for our destination to the island we decided it was the perfect setting to try our first Seafood boil. We hit the local fish market and picked up fresh crab, mussels, prawns and clams - paired with some lemon, a plethora of salt and we were in business. Oh, and butter, can't forget that! We served it up by dumping the pot of seafood deliciousness right on the table - such a fun way to feast. And an easy clean up!
    • **THIRD TIP: The rest of the weekend was mostly groceries we brought over, I'm a big fan of this approach as I think that on short vacations grocery trips should be limited so you can just enjoy (also saves you some dollars in the end usually)! We had lots of family styles meals and grazing. For your next trip look at what the local specialties are and try something new! 
Being locals! 

Being locals! 

Island afternoons.

Island afternoons.

Breakfast, is the most important meal of the day.

Breakfast, is the most important meal of the day.

The end result of the Seafood boil! 

The end result of the Seafood boil! 

  • Activities
    • **FOURTH TIP: I find activities are always best to not necessarily be set in stone, you don't want weekends to feel over planned... that would defeat the purpose of a weekend away! Unless that's your goal and you want to fit in all the things - go for it! We realized that one of BC's greatest natural spectacles was right in our back yard, the Skookumchuck Narrows were about 45 minutes away from our place and the 4km hike led us to where twice a day there is a change in tide reversing the direction of the rapids! How exciting! Sadly, we were a few hours late to witness this phenomenon but it was still a gorgeous hike... we'll be back for you Skookumchuck. Next we stumbled upon Smuggler Cove after missing our turn off, it was literally just us on the rocky beach and a few jelly fish, so serene! Lastly, we were introduced to the long running tradition of the 'Sleepy Hollow Rod Run' where literally the entire town sets up on the side of the highway (think living rooms set up on the side of the road), needless to say there were some pretty impressive cars to admire. So basically is what I'm saying is that sometimes, even planners, need to fly by the seat of their pants and see where the day takes them! Enjoy, talk to locals, get suggestions and explore. 
Skookumchuck Rapids, a few hours to late... 

Skookumchuck Rapids, a few hours to late... 

Brown Lake enroute to the Skookumchuck! 

Brown Lake enroute to the Skookumchuck! 

So that sums up our little summer weekend getaway! I love going new places and a change of scenary, we booked this trip only on a few weeks notice so don't be deterred that we're already in August (when did that happen by the way?!), lots of summer left to enjoy. 

The last tip I'll pass along is that while outside stargazing and having sing alongs around the fire, be mindful that voices DO carry and islanders will call in a noise complaint. We had a visit from the local authorities but he appreciated that us city folk forget the stillness of the island means voices carry... or it could have been the Nate Dogg song choice on the speaker, we'll never know! 

Happy Weekending!! 

xx

LC