February 7, 2014

Beach vacation outfits checklist for little girls

Kid girls beach vacation outfit checklist

Dear Mamas and Mini Fashionistas,

Dressing little girls can be totally fun.  After all, there are some super cute clothes out there for every mama’s pint sized fashionista.  These days, many moms are choosing the looks of their baby girls with as much care as they use to choose their own clothing.  I’ve got to tell you that I am no exception, and when we jet off on a beach vacation, I tend to choose my kids clothes carefully and organize their outfits in ziplock packages, that way we don’t waste valuable fun in the sun time figuring out what to wear and the kids aren’t living in the same outfits all week.

For my little girl, her ziplock bags would contain daywear such as a swimsuit, shorts, shirt, hair stuff and accessories. Her evening outfit would consist of a simple sundress paired with a cardigan, hair stuff and accessories. I used to have to travel with so many things when the kids were little.  Now that they’re older, I’m taking advantage of travelling lighter than I ever have before. That being said, I’m choosing practicality and style. After all, who’s to say your mini fashionista can’t look fabulous while on vacation? If you’d like to pack lightly, practically and fashionable for your child, here is a copy of my handy dandy checklist. Feel free to print it off and take the frustration out of over-thinking what you should be packing. This should be a time of relaxation, so please use this checklist to make your packing experience easier. We hope you enjoy your vacation with your darling daughter.

Ciao for now,

From the friendly fashionista

Char (also known as Epic Mom) and her Epic mini fashionista Brie

Girls beach packing checklist
Click here to print out a copy of my: Epic girls beach packing checklist
August 21, 2013

‘One Epic Mom’ included in Top 100 Canadian Travel Blog!

After a summer of camping and cottage fun I came back home to an absolutely wonderful surprise!  I was nominated and listed as one of Canada’s top 100 travel blogs.  Who knew that writing about my passion for travel would yield such an exciting honour.  As you can tell I’m super stoked! What a great way to wind down my summer of outdoor fun.  Here are some pics of how my little family spent our epic summer.

Dancing up a storm at Toronto’s Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival

Carnival

Enjoying cottage life in Muskoka

Muskoka

Muskoka 2

Camping in the Bruce Peninsula

Bruce Peninsula

Eating Fish & Chips and BeaverTails in Tobermory

Tobermory

Meeting new additions to our extended family

Epic baby cousins

Gorging on yummy food at RibFest

Ribfest

Having fun at the Canadian National Exhibition

CNEAs you can tell, we had a blast this summer!  To see all of the other wanderlusting Canucks who made it on the exclusive travel blogs list, check out The Top 100 Canadian Travel Blogs; you will find me listed under ‘One Epic Mom’.

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August 2, 2013

Vow renewal on the beach in Antigua

If you are looking to get married or renew your vows in the Caribbean, Europe, Italy, America, Australia or any of the Tropical Islands then I have the perfect wedding planner for you. Daniela Lani, the managing director of All Worlds Weddings and Bliss Weddings is a wedding planner extraordinaire who will make your special day truly magical. If you can dream it, she can make it happen. She was absolutely wonderful! We were truly impressed by how friendly, patient and professional she was.

epic mom vow renewal

For our ten year vow renewal, we knew we wanted a simple, elegant ceremony on the beach in Antigua. I was born there and had been promising my in-laws to take them to see my island for years. From the first moment I contacted Daniela with my vision she was enthusiastic to help me plan my big day. She listened to my ideas, and made creative and practical suggestions to the overall outline of my day. She took into consideration how much we wanted to spend and created a beautiful event that perfectly fit our budget.

epic mom vow renewal 1

The day of the vow renewal started out rainy but I wasn’t worried because I knew Daniela’s team had a contingency plan. Once the rain blew over, we were met by Simone, our hostess for the day, who took us to a vehicle and transported us to Ffryes Beach for the ceremony. Picture this if you can:  white pearlescent sand, turquoise water lapping gracefully against the shore, a lovely arch covered in white flowing fabric and beautiful tropical flowers. The men had boutonnieres pinned to their lapels and the women were shown to white chairs flanked by pretty baskets holding white umbrellas (just in case it rained again). I was given a beautiful white and green bouquet of flowers that matched our colour theme perfectly. Before I knew it, I was walking down an aisle of petals on the sand to the arch, turning to speak my vows to my loving husband of ten wonderful years. I couldn’t stop smiling as my father-in-law read the special sermon that he had prepared. It was such a gift to have him speak those words of blessing over us, as he did ten years ago on our wedding day. We wrote special vows to each other that included our children; we called it our ‘family vows’. When the ceremony concluded, we toasted our family’s health with sparkling wine for the adults and juice for the children, all provided by Daniela’s company. Then it was time to cut the cake – a beautiful, traditional, Caribbean wedding rum cake with white icing. It was so delicious we couldn’t stop eating it! We actually finished the entire cake before leaving the beach.

epic family

Our photos were taken by Shelly from Shelly Chadburn Photography and she was great at getting us to relax and be comfortable in front of the camera. Usually I’m the one at all the family events making sure everyone is ok, drinks are filled, wallflowers are engaged in conversation, and capturing the moments with my camera.  So it was great to engage the services of someone who knows their craft so well. For once, I felt like I could stop running around and simply enjoy the experience. At Shelly’s prompting I did just that. I stopped trying to manage my kids, stopped trying to play the hostess, stopped the general business that’s become such a part of my life since becoming a mother, and relaxed into the arms of my husband. Shelly’s personality really complimented Daniela’s team and I felt they worked well together to give us a treasured memory filled with love, peace and joy. Technically speaking, Shelly put a lot of care into taking and editing some gorgeous photos for us. All in all, we found that she had a perfect balance of professionalism, insight and artistry. My only concern was that it took a very long time to receive the photos. However, because of Shelly, we have many beautiful, timeless photographs that wonderfully capture a particularly special time in our lives.

epic mom and dad1

Once the formal part of the vow renewal was over, we changed into our swimsuits and got ready to relax on the beach. Daniela and her team provided a picnic lunch of sandwiches, fruits and juice. We spent most of the afternoon swimming, eating, lounging under beach umbrellas, laughing, making memories, and having the time of our lives. We really appreciated Simone, who while maintaining a consummate professionalism, was also very down to earth and a wonderful breath of fresh air.

epic parents and tot

I would highly recommend Daniela and her team to help plan your next event.  Whether you are planning a wedding or vow renewal in Europe, America, the Caribbean, any tropical island, Australia or in her birth land of Italy, Daniela will take excellent care of you.   She took the stress out of our vow renewal and thanks to her and her team we had the perfect day. From the beginning of the planning process to the execution of this event, we were very impressed by the passion and  love that Daniela, Simone and the rest of the team put in to organizing and coordinating our day.

epic family vow renewal

To Daniela and her team, thank you for transforming our vow renewal dreams into such a beautiful reality. Our family who attended couldn’t stop gushing about what an amazing job you and your team did and how nice everyone was! We appreciate your making our vow renewal unforgettable.  If we could do it all over again we wouldn’t change a thing. The hard work of this team of professionals made our day absolutely perfect. Thanks again!

Five star wedding planner contact:
Daniela Lani
Managing Director
All World Weddings
Bliss Weddings
Italy +39 335 1783668
Antigua +1 268 7320055
www.allworldweddings.com
www.blissweds.com

Photographer contact:
Shelley Chadburn
www.shellychadburn.com
www.facebook.com/antiguaweddings
+1 268 7644676

May 14, 2013

Touring St. Martin with Joyce Prince Tours

We left St. Martin with one thought in mind, “When can we go back again?”  We loved touring this island and that is in no small part because of our fabulous guide Ms. Joyce Prince.  From the moment she picked us up, we were quite taken by her great spirit.  She was friendly, knowledgeable and easy to get along with.  In our group there were six adults, a four year old and a two year old and she was fantastic with all of us from young to old.  My kiddies usually take a while to warm up to strangers but they were fast friends with Joyce immediately.

St. Martin collage

She took us on a full day private tour of the island and even provided a car seat and a booster seat for the kids.  All kinds of drinks were included on this tour from water and juice boxes for the kids, to pop and beer for the adults.  And don’t forget to try her homemade rum punch, made from a secret family recipe!  It will give you a true taste of the real caribbean – trust me, my auntie couldn’t get enough of it.  Special note, this is a ‘sipping punch’, not a chugging punch.

Joyce Prince special rum punch
What I love about Joyce is how easy going she is and how she’s willing to tailor your trip to suit your needs.  She made several suggestions that she thought we’d like but we essentially had the option of where we wanted to go and what we wanted to see on the island.  For example, my father-in-law is originally from Holland and it was important to us that we check out the Dutch side of the island.  In response, Joyce showed us around and highlighted the history and current events that make up the complex, rich heritage of St. Martin/St. Maarten.
Selina St. Martin
She took us to shop at Rima’s which is the cheapest place on the island to shop.  In fact, vendors come from all over the Caribbean to shop here in St. Martin because the prices are so low!  We also saw Pointe Blanche and went up the hill towards Monte Vista for a panoramic view of our cruise ship, Great Bay and Philipsburg.  We even drove along ‘Back Street’ and ‘Front Street’ taking in the sites of the local stomping grounds.  While driving on the French side of the island, my mother-in-law saw Selina’s cloth store and got so excited that we made a special stop for her to pick up Caribbean mud cloths and fabrics for her hobby of making quilts.  I can’t wait to see how her beautiful quilts look when infused with some Caribbean flavour.  We opted not to go to Orient Beach because it is clothing optional, so Joyce took us to Divi Little Bay Beach Resort instead.  Half of us relaxed and swam there while the other half went with Joyce to Back Street and Front Street for some more local shopping.
Sandys Waterfront Restaurant and Bar in St. Martin
For lunch we went to a local hot spot, Sandy’s Waterfront Bar and Restaurant in Marigot.  We wanted a taste of the complex flavours of this island and this is where you can find that in spades.  You can taste the exotic mystery that is the mixture of French, Dutch and African in the food at Sandy’s.  It’s a Creole treat that’s not to be missed.  The food is very affordable and quite delicious.  We were able to hang out with Christine the owner and she was an absolute delight.  The restaurant originally belonged to her father and after he passed away she moved back to the island to take over the family business.  She was warm and inviting to us and it felt like we were having a family dinner at a friends house.  There was lots of talking, laughing and eating.  It was the perfect way to spend a part of an afternoon; enjoying good company and good food.
Sandys Waterfront Bar and Restaurant

When you check out Joyce’s website, she starts out by saying you have a friend in St. Martin, and that’s exactly how we felt.  We came away feeling like we made a wonderful new friend  who opened up her doors and showed us her home.   There are not many places in the world that I would go visit again, (I love the thrill of discovering somewhere new) but St. Martin is now on my list of places to see again.  I can’t wait to re-visit the island, and when I do, I’ll be booking in advance to go on another tour with Joyce.  She books up fast and you don’t want to go with the rest, because Joyce Prince Tours is the absolute best.

St. Martin/St. Maarten Contacts:

 

 

Selina’s Cloth Store in Marigot
Telephone: 05 90 87 87 64

 

April 30, 2013

Touring Barbados with Glory Tours

Canadian passport in a pocket

I remember touring through the winding countrysides of Italy and Greece, just hubby and I. We didn’t mind jostling along on a large bus and waiting around for the other passengers who just had to get one more keychain for their collection. However, when you have kids, your experience changes dramatically. You want to see the sights, but you are very much aware of the many, varied needs of your children. For example, are your kids fine in large groups or would they have a more positive vacation experience if they got to tour around with people who are more familiar to them? Do any of your children experience motion sickness and would prefer a more relaxed tour that would allow you to pull over and get out so they can walk around and regain some equilibrium? When you are touring a new country with your kids, it is helpful to think ahead of time about what they would need.

st.johns church flowers

With all of these concerns in consideration, I set out to find the best tour company to help us explore Barbados. So I hopped onto Trip advisor and cruise critic to find the right tour company for our family. After reading reviews of several tour companies and visiting their websites, I came across the perfect tour company to show us around the beautiful island of Barbados: Glory Tours.  Within hours, I was corresponding with the owner, Sarah, whose friendly and professional manner made the planning process effortless and fun.  She is from one of the oldest families on the island and is excited to share the history and beauty of her island with tourists.

st. johns church barbados

Before you knew it, we were docking in Barbados and on our way to find our Glory Tours representative. Quammie, our tour guide, was quite knowledgeable of his island and very friendly. He kept us entertained with his stories, riddles and fun facts about the island.   For example, some “fun facts” that we learned about the island of Barbados are that it is located in the North Atlantic Ocean, northeast of Venezuela. The Barbadian, or Bajan, people are friendly and hospitable. Their main language is English although the Bajan dialect is spoken throughout they island. The island is 166 square miles, divided into 11 parishes. He even showed us the stomping grounds of the rich and famous who visit the island.

hanging out at harrisons cave

Quammie has been with Glory Tours for the last 12 years and loves to interact with the people he meets. For our itinerary, he drove us over to the east coast of Barbados to visit Cherry Tree Hill, Morgan Lewis Windmill, Cattle Wash, Bathsheba and St Johns Church. On this tour we also went on a tram ride to explore Harrison’s Cave. It is one of the great wonders of Barbados and had us in awe of it’s natural beauty. We took pictures galore of this crystallized limestone cavern, it’s white flow stones and its remarkable speleothems. This landmark was mapped in 1974 by Ole Sorensen from Denmark and assisted by two Barbadian natives Tony Mason and Allison Thornhill.  Then after a morning of tropical beauty we made our way across country, traveling through the Garrisons Historic area built in 1806.

harrisons cave barbados

Although we started the day with rainy weather, by early afternoon it had cleared up completely to show us blue skies and hot sun, and we found ourselves ending our day at the Copacabana where we relaxed in beach chairs under umbrellas, watching the kids play in the sand, and thoroughly enjoying ourselves. Our only disappointment was not being able to stay longer and enjoy even more of the beautiful paradise of Barbados.