Category: Travel

Vacation Tales: Mayan Riviera, 2017, part 2

sunset on the beach
sunset on the beach

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I did bring a bunch of “evening” clothes on my trip to Mexico, although I use that term very loosely. We are talking casual dresses that are no longer in my everyday rotation (and, hence, things I would not mind getting dirty and/or losing in transit) and met the necessary criteria, to wit: being lightweight and comfortable, and somewhat dressier than a cover-up. Here’s a good example:

muumu, revisited
muumu, revisited (Joe Fresh, old)
pre-dinner stroll
pre-dinner stroll & pina colada

One of the best things about traveling with friends that also have children (who are our kids’ BFFs to boot) is that we could arrange an evening trade-off. Each set of parents took the kids for a couple of hours while the other enjoyed some much-needed alone time and a quiet dinner; then, we switched. This is how my husband and I got to explore the resort a little bit without having to worry about the kids’ attention spans. One of my favourite things to do during our “adults-only time” was to walk along the beach (the appeal of which is apparently lost on 3 and 5-year olds) and relax in a hammock-swing contraption with a frothy drink in hand. Like so:

hideaway
hideaway
swing!
swing!

My trusty “evening” maxi dresses were perfect for these sorts of mini-excursions; casual enough for a sandy stroll, but classy enough for a grown-up (buffet, natch) dinner. I did bring a black cardigan with me in case of cooler evening temps, but I never ended up using it. In retrospect, I’m glad I nixed the denim jacket I almost packed. As it was, that left more room for dresses, which meant that I got to wear a different dress almost every night AND used up only half a suitcase. Packing win!

(On that note, I have to mention that I just discovered the magic of packing cubes and I cannot say enough good things about them. Because I am cheap, and was doing everything at the last minute, I ended up getting 4 packs of IKEA packing cubes, which were only $9 a pop. They are not very large, but can fit a decent amount of clothes, especially kids’ stuff. They also work for adult clothes, although it helps if the clothes in question are easily rollable and lightweight. Bulky sweaters, not so much. In the future, given that I am traveling for work more frequently these days, I am probably going to invest a bit more money in getting a bigger set of packing cubes on Amazon.)

another evening, another maxi dress
another evening, another maxi dress (Gap, old)
hello, waves!
hello, waves!
hair disaster, immortalized
hair disaster, immortalized

During our early evening walks, I loved watching the preparations for the various events that were hosted, seemingly on the regular, at our resort; we saw 2-3 weddings, a corporate retreat, and a bar mitzvah. Funny story: I used to hate weddings, including the planning process for my own, but I’ve had a change of heart in recent years. I not only love weddings now, but I also get quite emotional at them. It’s a sign of my advancing age, I’m sure. I’m also a sucker for a good floral display, so you can bet that I stopped and smelled the roses (literally and figuratively) here:

wedding set-up
wedding set-up
swoon
swoon

In addition to my old maxi dresses, I did bring one new-to-me short number with me on the trip.

dress, Dex (thrifted)
dress, Dex (thrifted)

This thrifted Dex dress turned out to be my favourite. The ponte-like black material is hella comfortable, and the floral overlay is ideal for concealing the evidence of my buffet-loving ways. I like this dress so much, in fact, that rather than keeping it in my vacation micro-capsule going forward, I have added it to my everyday casual rotation. Surely, there will be a summer BBQ or two in my future, and this dress will come in handy.

Last but not least, I really ought to give a shoutout to my old J. Crew sandals. I had originally brought another pair of sandals with me — a recently thrifted, never worn gold BR pair — but threw these black ones into the suitcase at the last minute in case the other proved uncomfortable. Boy, was that a smart idea! Sure enough, the BR pair gave me blisters after the first wear, and the inner lining on the straps started peeling in a most peculiar fashion. Needless to say, they went straight in the garbage after that; thankfully, because they were thrifted, the damage to my wallet was minimal, but what the heck, BR! Anyway, I ended up wearing these J. Crew sandals for the rest of the trip and they were as versatile and comfortable as always. I might add that this trip was something of a milestone for my over-packing self: not counting the disastrous gold sandals, I got through a 7-day trip with only 3 pairs of shoes (and that is counting the Chucks I wore on the plane to deal with the 60 degree swing in temperature between departure and arrival). I call that a triumph of minimalism, hah.

sunneeeee!
sunneeeee!
perfect buffet-eating attire
perfect buffet-eating attire

Hasta luego, Mexico!

Vacation Tales: Mayan Riviera, 2017, part 1

million dollar view
million dollar view

If you follow me on Instagram, then you know that I spent last week in sunny, warm, beautiful Playa del Carmen on the Mayan Riviera. This was my seventh trip to Mexico, and fourth to the Mayan Riviera, and it was one of my favourites, thanks in large part to the resort (the Paradisus Playa del Carmen La Esmeralda), which was fantastic. Since we were travelling with our kids (and another couple and their kids), we upgraded our all-inclusive package to the Family Concierge option, which came with a ton of extra perks that the kids loved (and for which we were grateful), like a personal butler (!!), in-room video games, and nightly turndown service with kid-friendly treats. We all had such a good time, and plenty of luck too — the weather was phenomenal all week, and the kids (narrowly) avoided any serious injuries despite their best efforts in that direction. We had such a good time, in fact, that adjusting back to real life at home has been a struggle this week. Post-all inclusive vacation buffet withdrawal is real, my friends.

Paradisus Playa del Carmen
Paradisus Playa del Carmen
morning glories, lush mangroves
morning glories, lush mangroves

But enough about that, let’s talk about clothes. I won’t bore you with the details of my packing, but suffice it to say that my focus was entirely on comfort and practicality. I basically lived in various maxi dresses (plus a couple of pairs of shorts and T-shirts) for a week. Except for my swimwear (more on that in a minute), everything was super old and, in fact, largely rescued from the “swap” pile at the 11th hour. These were all dresses I had previously “grown out of” (style-wise) but which turned out to be perfect for beach/resort wear. I thought I was being smart in chucking them, since they don’t fit my current everyday style, but now I’ve decided to keep them; I might only need them every 2-3 years, but they’re a natural micro-capsule and require only minimal storage space. Lesson learned.

Based on past experience, I knew I would need a set of clothes for the day (beach/pool loungewear) and one for the evening (dinner wear). In this case, since we were traveling with kids, I didn’t bother packing anything too fancy for the latter. I’ll talk about what I wore in the evenings in another post, so today I’ll focus on the daytime stuff.

muumu couture
muumu couture
groovy, baby
groovy, baby

This was one of two beach cover-ups I packed, and I wore it 4 out of the 7 days we spent at the resort. I probably could have worn it every day, since I didn’t end up getting it wet, but it was nice to have the two options. I like this type of dress as a cover-up because it’s easy to slip on and off, and the fabric is lightweight but wrinkle-proof. I can roll this into a ball at the bottom of my beach bag, and throw sand all over it, and it will still look fine the next day. As I mentioned above, the style is definitely a bit more boho than I’d normally wear but style wasn’t at the top of my priority list for this trip. [Most of the other women I saw at the resort also appeared to have prioritized casual comfort, which meant that I never felt under-dressed or out of place. There was one exception — a woman I saw on a couple of occasions who looked incredibly chic. I briefly wondered if she was a fashion blogger I should have recognized.]

beach life
beach life

I brought a bunch of swimwear options with me, but I only ended up wearing two of them: this Hot Water bikini in two colorways. They were fantastic — comfortable and flattering both on the top and bottom (which, on a small-chested pear shape, is no easy feat). I bought these bikinis at Winners on the eve of the trip, and they were a bargain at only $25 apiece. I only found them in the navy (above) and pink (below); otherwise, I would have bought them in other colours as well. I loved the pink the most, but wore the navy more often because it looked better against my, ahem, pasty porcelain complexion.

tan courtesy of Instagram filters
tan courtesy of Instagram filters

As you can see in the pictures above, my other must-have accessories were my $4 Old Navy flip-flops and my straw Panama hat from Aritzia. The hat I wore every day, from morning until early evening when the sun set. Together with my Biore sunscreen (applied twice a day, face only), it did a great job of keeping my face sunburn-free. After suffering the indignities of being exposed to salt and pool water, and then jammed into my carry-on luggage, it’s now rather worse for wear than before, but I am hopeful that it will regain its shape in time. If not, this is one piece I would definitely re-buy in a heartbeat. (I think Aritzia sells these every summer, and I believe for under $40.) As a pale-skinned redhead, finding a stylish sun hat has been a game changer, and this trip only confirmed it.

Stay tuned tomorrow for part 2 of my vacation recap.

There and Back, Summer 2016 Edition

Dress, Gabby Skye; jacket, Joe Fresh (thrifted); boots, Clarks; bag, Gucci
Dress, Gabby Skye; jacket, Joe Fresh (thrifted); boots, Clarks; bag, Gucci

After delays and setbacks, my husband and I finally got to run off to Calgary for what was supposed to be a 3-day, adults-only getaway. There’s been a lot going on lately, and I won’t lie — I needed this break, BADLY. And, naturally, I was pumped to get dressed without having to worry about being kid-activity-friendly. I thrifted this Gabby Skye dress last time I was in Calgary, and have been “saving” it for a fun occasion ever since. Since the weather was looking rather glum when we left Edmonton, I switched out the flats I had planned to wear for my new Clark’s booties (and tights). I wore this on the drive to Calgary, and then lunch, shopping, and a return visit to the Glenbow Museum. I felt cute and comfortable, which is always nice. The shoes, in particular, were a pleasant surprise – comfortable even after a fair bit of walking.

bag shot
bag shot
In Vacation Mode: OPI Puerta Vallarta Violeta
In Vacation Mode: OPI Puerta Vallarta Violeta

We visited the Glenbow Museum earlier this year with the kids, and I won’t lie by saying that a big reason why I wanted to make this adult-only roadtrip happen was to be able to go back and enjoy it in a more leisurely fashion. The Glenbow is the closely thing to the Victoria & Albert Museum (my favourite) I’ve ever visited on this side of the Commonwealth. The exhibits are so, so great – starting with the phenomenal Paul Hardy Kaleidoscopic Animalia exhibit:

amah-zing!
amah-zing!
my kind of tea party
my kind of tea party
I need that dress!
I need that dress!

After the museum, we wandered down Stephen Avenue and stopped in for some patio refreshments and people watching. The weather was pleasantly warm, and we found a nicely shaded spot, so it was lovely. We finished off the night with friends and some delicious pizza at famed local spot Tom’s House of Pizza.

hello, Calgary
hello, Calgary
Stephen Avenue - patio shot
Stephen Avenue – patio shot

On the second day, we headed out to the mountains – mostly because I needed to replenish my stock of the best fudge ever from a shop in Canmore. Because my husband was still not feeling 100%, we decided to avoid any strenuous hiking … or any hiking at all, really. Which was fine by me because I was there for the eating part anyway. Did I mention the fudge? Also, there are some terrific restaurants in Canmore. We basically spent the afternoon walking from one eating hole to the next. It was very relaxing. We also made a detour on the way to see Elbow Falls.

Top & jeans, Anthropologie; blazer, Topshop; shoes, Kelsi Dagger
Top & jeans, Anthropologie; blazer, Topshop; shoes, Kelsi Dagger
Elbow river
Elbow river
creepy head in Canmore
creepy head in Canmore

Later that day, we ended up driving back home because we got the news that one of kids had come down with a cold (and fever). I was sad to miss out on the extra alone time with my husband, but it was nice to see the kids and give them extra snuggles. As much as I look forward to these little trips without them, I end up spending a good chunk of the time wishing they were with us. What can I say, they’re kinda amazing.

Of course, since I’m fresh out of clothes, I did check out a few thrift stores earlier in our trip.

Jones New York dress
Jones New York dress

This dress was so close, you guys. A few years ago, I would have bought it without hesitation. It fit perfectly, buuuuut … the print was a little too much for me, now. I left it behind for someone else to discover and love.

Rag & Bone dress
Rag & Bone dress

This Rag & Bone dress, on the other hand, I couldn’t resist. It’s only the second time I’ve seen the brand at the thrift store, and I’ve been curious to try it. This dress is a bit more form-fitting and shorter than I like to wear at the office, so I’ll probably save it for date night, but we’ll see if it works … or if it ends up being a failed experiment blog shop listing.

Theory blazer; Postmark top; Maeve skirt
Theory blazer; Postmark top; Maeve skirt

These pieces are definite keepers. The Theory blazer is a perfect fit, and I’ve been looking for a classic cut navy blazer for a while. (My navy peplum blazer is great, but it’s definitely more of a statement piece than a wardrobe workhorse.) The Maeve skirt has that quirky Anthro aesthetic that’s still my kryptonite but it’s also a work-friendly silhouette, so it was an auto-buy. The top has a cute, contrasting panel/peplum detail, which you can’t see in the photo, and it’s probably too young for me, but for $5 I decided I had to #leavenoAnthrobehind.

On the way back to Edmonton, we drove through Olds, where I spotted this adorable thrift store … which was sadly closed. Next time!

next time, Funky Little Thrift Shop!
next time, Funky Little Thrift Shop!

See you next summer, Calgary!

Weekly serial reminder: New chapter is up now! Go check it out here.