Monday, 17 July 2017

Avalon Organics Review & Giveaway

I'm always happy to discover new cruelty free and vegan companies, and my latest discovery has been Avalon Organics! I've recently been trying out five products from the brand, and today I'm giving one of my Canadian readers a chance to try them out for themselves!

Avalon Organics Review & Giveaway

Avalon Organics uses certified organic, vegan, and cruelty free ingredients, what's not to love about that? I've been testing out 5 of Avalon Organics best-selling products, and they did not disappoint. Avalon's Clarifying Lemon Shampoo & Conditioner* will win you over with the scent alone. It's super invigorating, and will definitely wake you up in the morning! I like to use this clarifying duo once every two weeks, as it does an excellent job removing build up. I only wash my hair twice a week, but I find that when I use this duo I can get an extra day or two out of my blowout.

Avalon Organics Clarifying Lemon Shampoo & Conditioner

If you love the scent of fresh herbs, then you'll love the Rejuvenating Rosemary Bath & Shower Gel*. This formula combines notes of rosemary essential oil, calendula, aloe, orange peel oil, and lavender. This formula is super gentle and hydrating, making it an excellent option for anyone with dry skin.

Avalon Organics Rejuvenating Rosemary Bath & Shower Gel

The Revitalizing Peppermint Glycerin Hand Soap* is scented with peppermint essential oil, orange peel, and calendula. The peppermint scent does linger on my hands for a little while after washing, and the formula is very gentle.

Avalon Organics Revitalizing Peppermint Glycerin Hand Soap

If you're looking for a light lotion for Summer, then look no further than Avalon Organics Nourishing Lavender Hand & Body Lotion*. This light formula absorbs quickly, while still managing to provide long-lasting hydration. This formula is paraben free, so you can feel good about using it on your entire body.

If you're interested in trying out these products for yourself, then head on over to my Instagram to enter my giveaway!  If you don't win my giveaway, you can find Avalon Organics at Loblaws, Whole Foods, London Drugs, Safeway, Sobeys West, and Well.ca.

What are your favourite natural beauty brands?

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Sunday, 16 July 2017

A Magical Day in Sintra Portugal

The moment that I first saw pictures of Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal sky rocketed to the top of my travel bucket list. A few months later, a was buying flights to Lisbon, and booking Airbnb's. Now I can happily say that Sintra did not disappoint, and I'd say that a day trip to Sintra is a must for every Portugal itinerary.

Sintra is about an hour from Lisbon, and easily connected via train. We boarded a train from Rossio Station in Lisbon, which takes you directly to Sintra. A return ticket from Lisbon to Sintra costs €4.30, which I thought was extremely affordable. You will need to load this trip onto a Viva Viagem card, which is the same re-loadable card that you use on other public transit options in Lisbon. The train was comfy, and does not have assigned seats. We actually ended up sitting beside another young couple from Ottawa - what a small world! While we were busy making new friends, the train journey zipped by, and before we knew it we had arrived in Sintra. I would highly recommend getting an early start to your day, so you can beat as much of the crowds as possible. Most of the main attractions in Sintra open at 9:30, and we arrived around 9:00. This gave us enough time to take a bus up the winding hills. Bus 434 is the tourist bus, and a single loop ticket costs €5.00. You can also walk up the hills, but I wouldn't recommend this as you'll already be doing a ton of walking in Sintra, and there are no sidewalks along the winding (& steep!) hills.  Another option would be to take a tuk tuk up to the top, which I've heard is the best option if you arrive a later in the morning and the lines for buses are getting a bit long & crazy.

Castle of the Moors, Sintra

We started our day at the Castle of the Moors, which worked out really well. I think most people started off at Pena Palace, because it felt like we had the castle all to ourselves. However, by the time we were leaving 2 hours later, it was starting to get really busy. We visited on a very foggy day, which just added to the castle vibes. The Castle of the Moors (or Castelo dos Mouros), was built during the 9th century by the North African Moors, and it's still in surprisingly good shape. The grounds are quite large, with lots of greenery and flowers. We took our time walking through the entire grounds, and it was really nice to not feel rushed as we had arrived right at opening. Dylan absolutely loved the Castle of the Moors, it was so cute how excited he got!

Castle of the Moors

Castle of the Moors

Castle of the Moors, Sintra

Our next stop was Pena Palace, a super bright & colourful palace that will make anyone feel like royalty for the day. While the fog added to the atmosphere of the castle, it didn't do Pena Palace any favours. If possible, try to visit the palace on a bright & sunny day, as that would really make the palace colours pop. Pena Palace is what Instagram dreams are made of. And trust me, everywhere you look, photoshoots are happening. So, wear your best OOTD, but try to wear comfortable shoes because you will be getting your steps in during a visit to Sintra. After taking countless photos outside, and wandering around the palace grounds, we entered the palace. The interior of the palace is quite over the top, and definitely fit for European royalty. 

Pena Palace

Pena Palace Sintra

Pena Palace Sintra

Pena Palace Kitchen
Serious kitchen goals!

By this point, we were pretty hungry, and after doing a quick search on Happy Cow I found a restaurant with vegan options. Saudade is a cafe that is a 2 minute walk from the train station in Sintra. The staff were super friendly, and all knew what vegan meant. I ordered a veggie panini, which really hit the spot after all of that exploring!  

Saudade Vegan Panini Sintra Portugal

Cafe Saudade Sintra

After re-fueling, we spent a few hours exploring Sintra. This is such a cute town, I'd definitely recommend spending as much time as possible just wandering around. We stopped into a few stores and browsed around, walked the cobblestone streets, and just enjoyed being on vacation. 

Sintra, Portugal

Sintra Portugal

I hope I've inspired you to add a day in Sintra to your Portuguese itinerary! There's something for everyone in Sintra - adventure, nature, food, history, and a feeling of magic in the air. After spending a few days in busy Lisbon, it was nice to return to a more relaxed pace. 

Have you been to Sintra? What are your favourite European cities?

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Sunday, 9 July 2017

OOTD: Colourful Aviators from GlassesShop.com

Sunglasses are such a fun accessory, I love how they can completely switch up an outfit. The latest addition to my sunglasses collection comes from GlassesShop.com, which is an online retailer offering eyeglasses & prescription sunglasses, all at great prices. 

OOTD Multicolour Sunglasses

OOTD Multicolour Sunglasses

It's becoming increasingly more common for people to order their glasses online, as it's often a much more affordable option. These Americus Aviators are available in 3 colours - black, tortoise, and multicolour. I went with the multicolour option, as most of my other sunglasses are quite neutral and safe. I really like the gold detailing on these sunglasses, and the aviator style is classic. All of the glasses available from Glasses Shop are able to be made with your prescription, just make sure that you have your PD ready!

Multicolour Aviator Sunglasses

Multicolour Aviator Sunglasses

If you would like to order a pair of sunglasses for yourself, feel free to use the discount code GSHOT50 for 50% off of any eyeglasses or sunglasses from GlassesShop.com!

What's your go-to sunglasses style?

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Thursday, 6 July 2017

Alba Botanica Sunscreen Review & Giveaway

Summer is well underway, and we're finally getting some sunny days here in Ottawa! With the sun shining bright, it's extremely important to protect your skin. Alba Botanica has two new continuous spray sunscreens, one with a sport formula, and one for kids. Today I also have their facial sunscreen to share with you, as it's crucial to also protect your face from the sun's rays. 

Alba Botanica Sunscreen Review

Alba Botanica's Sport Continuous Spray Sunscreen SPF 50+ comes packaged in a 177 mL bottle. This formula offers broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection at SPF 50+. The continuous spray bottle is air powered, with no chemical propellants, which I really appreciate. This formula is water resistant, making it a great option for a day at the beach playing volleyball & cooling off in the water.  

Alba Botanica Sport Continuous Spray Sunscreen SPF 50+

Alba Botanica's Kids Continuous Spray Sunscreen SPF 50+ is packaged in the same bottle as the Sport version. This formula is quick-absorbing and has a gentle formula. These spray sunscreens don't leave your skin feeling sticky or greasy, and they're very lightly scented. 

Alba Botanica Kids Continuous Spray Sunscreen SPF 50+

Alba Botanica's Facial Sunscreen Lotion SPF 40 has a creamy formula that's been specifically formulated for facial use. This sunscreen includes aloe vera, ginseng, lavender, and calendula, which work to hydrate and nourish your skin. I have to admit, I don't use a facial sunscreen as often as I probably should. So, I'm going to leave this tube on my bathroom counter as a reminder to use it every morning! 

Alba Botanica Facial Sunscreen Lotion SPF 40

Alba Botanica products are available at Whole Foods, Loblaws, Safeway, Sobeys West, Well.ca, and Amazon.ca. If you're in the market for cruelty free, vegetarian sunscreens then you should definitely check out Alba Botanica's offerings! I'm also giving away all three products on my Instagram, so be sure to go enter for your chance to win! 

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Monday, 3 July 2017

Portugal in Pictures

Well hello again! I arrived back on Saturday from a fabulous 2 weeks in Portugal, and I'm slowly starting to get back onto Eastern Standard Time. I went into this vacation feeling somewhat under prepared, as I didn't have as much time as I would have liked to plan out our days. However, that worked out perfectly, as it was a much more relaxed vacation compared to our other European vacations. I've had a pretty crazy month work-wise leading up to this vacation, so a bit of a slower pace was just what I needed! But don't get it wrong, we still took in all the sites, and quickly learned that everyday is leg day in Portugal. As I'm still a bit groggy, I thought that today I would just share my favourite photos from my vacation, but I do plan on sharing my tips and travel guides for both Lisbon and Porto very soon!

Festas de Lisboa

Our Airbnb in Lisbon was located in Mouraria, a neighbourhood known for it's great Fado music. The curving cobblestone streets were decorated with colourful streamers to celebrate Festas de Lisboa. One morning when we were walking to the subway, a local stopped us and insisted on taking our photo for us because "it would look so good on Instagram!" I'm so glad he did because I love this picture of Dylan and I!

Belem Tower Lisbon

Belem Tower is a must-see attraction while in Lisbon. It is a bit of a trek from the city centre, and we decided to take a tuk tuk to get there! There are tuk tuks everywhere in Lisbon, and while they are quite a bit more expensive than taking a tram or even a taxi, the experience is so worth it. 

Castelo de São Jorge

Hands down my favourite lookout point (or "miradouros") in Lisbon is from Castelo de São Jorge. Once you enter the castle grounds you can get a full panoramic view of the city, with red tiled roofs as far as the eyes can see! 

25 de Abril Bridge

Did you know that there's a Golden Gate Bridge look-a-like in Lisbon? I've never been to San Francisco, but with the hilly streets and the 25 de Abril Bridge, you might be fooled into thinking that you were in the good old USA. This photo was taken in Almada, on the left bank of the Tagus River. 

Pena Palace Sintra

A day trip to Sintra is essential to any trip to Lisbon, just look at how majestic the colourful Pena Palace is! My only regret is that we ended up visiting on a very foggy day, so my photos aren't as bright and cheery as I would have liked. But you can't change weather!

Douro River Portugal

Porto was an absolutely breathtakingly beautiful city, and it was a welcomed change of pace after our time in Lisbon. Porto has a much more laid back, relaxed vibe compared to Lisbon. It was nice to take some time to wander over the Dom Luís I Bridge into neighbouring Gaia and take in the views of the Douro River. 

Palácio de Cristal Peacock

We visited the Palácio de Cristal a few times during our stay in Porto after the wild peacocks stole our hearts. This large garden area has free entry, and is teaming with different species of birds. We saw peacocks with their babies (!!!), ducks, chickens, roosters, and then the usual pigeons and seagulls. Even if you're not into birds, the park is beautiful and offers great views of the city & the Douro River.

Dom Luís I Bridge Porto

This photo was taken on our first afternoon in Porto, and it was pretty much the moment that I knew that I was going to love the city. 

If you've been considering a trip to Portugal, I would highly recommend it! It's a beautiful country, with so much culture, and there's bound to be something for everyone. If you are currently planning a trip to Portugal and needs any recommendations, please feel free to leave a comment below!

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