Our Cross-Canada Road Trip

We’ve done it! We have officially driven from Vancouver, British Columbia to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. This is probably going to be a long post because I’m going to try to cram everything into one, unlike my England trip. Let me know in the comments below which you prefer for travel blogs.

I was going to do a whole “Where we stayed” and “What I ate” section, but a lot of it was McDonalds fries (always gluten free) and cheap hotels with vacancy. I’ll be sure to make note of the exciting ones though and include links.

We left Vancouver on July 30, 2017 which was a Sunday. We spent the morning with loved ones as we packed everything into the moving truck and then said our goodbyes. It was really bittersweet leaving our first home together, and the first place that has felt like home to me in my adult life.

On the 30th we drove to Vernon to spend a day and a half with my mom and see some friends and from there we headed to Calgary, AB on August 1st.

img_1866

img_1907-1

 

Driving through the Rocky Mountains was obviously beautiful and I wish I had spent more time looking out the window because what has become the norm is much, much different.

 

After a quick stop in Calgary we started our drive to Saskatoon, SK on August 2nd. We made a pit stop in Drumheller, AB to see the landscape and the Royal Tyrrell Museum to check out some cool dinosaurs.

img_1927img_2035

After a night in Saskatoon, SK with some close family friends we started the drive to Winnipeg, MB on August 3rd. This is one of the longest feeling legs of this trip. Just a straight, flat prairie drive for close to 9 hours.

I’m not going to lie, I had some judgments about Saskatoon and Winnipeg as a westcoast girl, but I can confidently tell you that they’re not bad! Saskatoon was actually an awesome city and I would love to go back there and actually have some time to explore.

As for Winnipeg, we just happened to get there during the Canada Games. Neither of us actually had any idea that they were happening but decided last minute to have dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory. Dinner was obviously fine, but the location happened to be right in the hub of all the Festivities. If this wasn’t all enough of a fluke, the night we were there was PEI night and featured artists from Seb’s motherland. We caught some live music and fireworks before heading back to the hotel for a good nights sleep.

From Winnipeg, on August 4th we headed south through the states. We planned on spending the night in Duluth, MN but Thomas the Tank Engine was in town and all the hotels within 100 km were completely booked up. We stopped for dinner and a legal amount of drinks at this awesome pub called Thirsty Pagan Brewing in Superior, WI. They didn’t have much in the way of gluten free options, as they feature pizza and beer, but they had a hoppy cider and this awesome cheesy, buffalo chicken dip with tortilla chips. That stuff could easily kill you – but I enjoyed every bite.

img_2072

They make all their own beers and they had a massive selection. It was a really awesome spot, and if I ever get my hands on a magic pill that allows me to eat gluten, I’ll be heading back here right away.

On August 5th we went east again back over the border. We planned on spending the night in Sault Ste. Marie, ON but again, all the hotels were booked up. I ended up booking a B&B off the beaten track called Sleepy Hollow B&B and this place was magical. It was right on Lake Huron the hosts, Jenny and Mike were so accommodating and friendly. We had our own private cabin on the property and spent the evening chatting and sitting by the fire. In the morning Jenny made us an amazing breakfast and told us “No one leaves my house hungry”. I would absolutely recommend this spot to everyone and the best part is it’s only 95$/night!

img_2123     img_2115

On August 6th, a week since leaving Vancouver, we finally made it to Ottawa. Luckily for us it was Fajita night at Churchills  in Westboro. We had a great dinner together before heading back home and calling it a night.

The next day, we went downtown to explore, run some errands, do some shopping and do some general tourist things.

We went to Parliament Hill and wandered around Sparks Street. We also took a guided tour of the Supreme Court of Canada because I’m a huge nerd. Seb’s such a trooper for following along on all the nerdy government centered things I love. It was awesome to have a rest day with less than an hour driving time, a much needed refresher before getting back in the car on August 8th and driving to Quebec City for the night.

img_2269

In Quebec city we spent most of the day just wandering around and seeing the sights. We had dinner at a place called Le Veravin in Old Quebec as it had been called “A Celiac Haven” in its reviews. It was mostly just okay. We shared an order of the Gluten Free Traditional Poutine, which was actually incredible, they were very generous with the curds, which is all I can really ask for, and the gravy was really nice. For our main we shared the Duck Confit Pasta, I imagined that for the price there would be a little more duck, but I think we each maybe got a bite or two in the entire dish. The atmosphere was nice, the service was good but the prices were a little high. This was only to be expected as we were in the more touristy area. I just found that the pasta was not worth the price. 10/10 for the poutine though.

The next morning, August 9th we packed up the car one last time and drove towards Prince Edward Island. We drove through the rest of Quebec and New Brunswick and then over the Confederation Bridge! I didn’t get any pictures of the actual view though, as the barricades along the side are taller than I am in our little car. It was a pretty cool bridge though!

We got into PEI around 6 Atlantic Time and we were welcomed with pizza and beer! I had some gluten free pizza from a place called Famous Peppers and guys, it was a killer gluten free pizza.

So it’s been a little under two weeks now since we left our home in Vancouver and embarked on this journey across our beautiful, vast country. I probably wouldn’t do it again, but it was a bucket list item for sure. I had some good gluten free eats, and stayed at some beautiful places. We were blessed enough to have family and friends across the country who welcomed us into their homes for nights here and there. We only had to stay in three budget hotels, and got lucky with a beautiful B&B.

Onwards to the next adventure.

How I Keep my Hair Healthy After my Perm.

I’m so excited to be working with REDAVID Hair for this post and featuring my favourite products out of the Orchid Oil line for Curly or Extremely Damaged Hair.

REDAVID is a company local to Vancouver, Canada and is owned by Leonardo Redavid. Leonardo started as a hair stylist, and has been working in the hair industry for over 30 years. He is very involved with his company and product and runs each new product through three years of vigorous testing before putting it on the market.

All of the products are Sulfate and Paraben free and claim to:

  • Control Frizz
  • Detangle
  • Add radiant shine
  • Make hair soft and manageable
  • Restore moisture to normal levels
  • Achieve faster blowouts
  • Make hair stronger

I’ve had a lot of chemical treatments done to my hair, so it needs all the TLC it can get. I’ll touch on how I feel about these claims at the end of the post (except the blowouts thing, because I’ve never had one.)

Note: This product was given to me, but all thoughts and opinions will be my own.

I have used some of this product line in the past, namely the Orchid Oil Treatment and the Orchid Oil Curl Defining Cream.

As I’ve mentioned before, I have to be very careful with products that touch my skin, due to gluten reacting poorly with my body. These products are great, they don’t cause me to react, they don’t cause my scalp to get flaky, and as a oily girl, the oil is light weight enough that it doesn’t make feel like a grease ball.

This is a newer product to me, that I have only tried out for the purpose of this review and let me tell you. I LOVE THIS. This is the Orchid Oil Dual Therapy, which is a two-part system. It includes REDAVID REPAIR and REDAVID SHINE. Redavid Repair is loaded with nutrient rich botanical ingredients to help restore moisture, whereas Redavid Shine seals in the hair structure to reduce frizz and fly-aways. I like to use it before bed and sleep with it in as a super nourishing hair mask. I also used this on my cousins hair after she got out of the shower, she has a sensitive scalp so we use a lot of products to make brushing less painful. Brushing her hair after the shower didn’t seem any different, but the morning after when she was brushing her hair for school she asked me what the product was because she said he hair felt soft, weightless and tangle-free. Straight from the 9 year-old’s mouth, my friends.

I have been using the Orchid Oil Curl Defining Cream since shortly after I got my perm in September. I tried a couple other products before finding this one, and it is the ONLY PRODUCT that makes my curls as soft, defined and non-frizzy as I like it. It claims to build internal strength, while increasing body and fullness, and I have definitely found this to be true.

I have also been using the Orchid Oil Treatment daily since getting my perm. It helps tame the frizz, and also is amazing for when I straighten my hair. Everyone I know loves this product specifically for getting that sleek, straightened look when straightening out their curls. It’s lightweight enough that it doesn’t weigh down my curls, but it leaves my hair SO SOFT. I also use it with the Curl Defining Cream for really nourishing my curls.

I have also just recently started using the Orchid Oil Shampoo and Conditioner. So far I’ve found these to be the most hydrating shampoo and conditioner I’ve ever used and I’m very picky with my shampoos and conditioners. My major issues with shampoos is that they come in direct contact with my scalp, and if there’s gluten in them it makes my flakiness even worse. This product does not do that! As with everything else in this line, the shampoo and conditioner have a blend of botanical extracts that are rich in minerals, vitamins and essential fatty acids to increase strength, body and fullness.

Even though I’ve had a chemical perm, bleaching and colouring in my hair I really need this kind of nourishment. My hair feels just as healthy as it was before any chemical treatment.

I can honestly tell you, I love this line and the claims listed at the top of this post, I’ve found to be true. I understand that it’s not as cheap as drugstore products, but it’s worth the money. I also want to note, that everything in this line SMELLS INCREDIBLE. I wouldn’t say that you need to go and buy the entire collection right away, but I will say you NEED the Orchid Oil Treatment in your life. It comes in small sizes as well, and is such a great introduction to this line. If your hair has been exposed to chemical treatment, or is just feeling a dry or frizzy this is absolutely the product for you.

Unfortunately, you can’t buy REDAVID Hair Care online at this time, so please use the store locator to find a retailer near you. 

how i eat gluten free without breaking the bank or breaking my heart.

hate limiting what I eat, but since I can’t eat gluten I have to. It’s been a little over two years since my diagnosis, and I figured I would share what I’ve learned and how I do it without losing my mind or breaking the bank.

For starters, I don’t eat a lot of processed food, I try to buy as much real food as possible. For dinner almost every night we have some sort of meat with spices and not sauces, steamed vegetables and either rice or potatoes (usually potatoes because I am a fiend). My lunches are usually leftovers of whatever we had for dinner the night before, and my breakfasts are the most processed meal of the day (on an average day). My breakfasts are usually Cheerios because they’re now ALL gluten free and the same price! Sometimes I treat myself and have some gluten free toast or yogurt and gluten free granola, these are far more expensive options, so I limit these.

When I do eat processed foods, I have a few favorites.

  1. Panago and Dominos make gluten free pizzas, they are not recommended for Celiacs but since I’m going to feel like crap after eating a whole pizza regardless of cross contamination, I risk it (I haven’t died yet);
  2. Chicken Teriyaki made with San-J Gluten Free Terriyaki Sauce, it’s delicious but expensive.
  3. Gluten free chicken strips, I make these from scratch, but I’m certain there’s nothing pure about gluten free bread crumbs, and even if there is, I like my dip!

Not eating gluten started off very difficult, as I had poor eating habits and I was finding that everything I ate had gluten in it, this doesn’t have to be the case if you eat whole, natural foods and do a little real cooking. That doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself though from time to time!

What are your favourite gluten free meals? Leave a comment below of some recipes I should try out!

Gluten Free Skin Care (Updated May 2017)

Essentially, the blog I wish I could have found a year ago.

About a year ago, I wrote this post, and I also wrote this one. I want to create a little go to so girls like me don’t feel like “that girl”. (TL;DR: I’m a celiac and I get rashes on my skin from gluten. Yes, it’s gross)

So over the past year I’ve been experimenting with gluten free products on my skin, and I’ve compiled a regime that doesn’t make my skin worse, some things actually make it better – so other girls or guys, like me, don’t have to waste money and time and “self confidence” like I did. Again, the blog I wish I found a year ago.

So, if you’re not a gluten free make-up/skin care freak, feel free to leave now.

*DISCLAIMER* This is what works on MY skin, it may not work for everyone, but it’s a starting point.
*DISCLAIMER 2* These aren’t cheap products, cheap = gluten in my experience, sorry.

Here we go!

Best GF Foundations: For a matte/full coverage, I recommend tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Full Coverage Foundation. For a dewy/lighter coverage (my summer love), NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation.

Update July 2016: Clinique Beyond Perfecting Foundation + Concealer THIS STUFF IS AMAZING. The perfect middle ground to the two above. Full coverage, natural finish, not heavy at all!

Best GF Face Moisturizer:  Hands down – Avalon Organics Vitamin C Renewal Facial Cream (I only know of London Drugs, so if you’re outside of Canada – I’m so sorry!). Not only does this feel awesome, and not have any gluten, it’s got vitamin C so it helps clear up scarring from all the lotions that have wronged us in the past (and the late night chocolate binges)

Update July 2016: First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream – I use this one at night, and still swear by the Andalou in the morning as it’s lighter to wear under make-up. The First Aid Beauty one is much heavier, but it works wonders!

Best Make-up Removal: For waterproof mascara and liquid eyeliners: Bioderma (Again, not sure where it’s available outside of Canada). No debate there. Even if you have a healthy relationship with gluten, this stuff is everything. If you don’t use waterproof make-up, or you don’t mind a little extra work, coconut oil is life.

Best Skin Care Line: Just kind of a sidenote/umbrella statement, Andalou Naturals does a KILLER GF skin care line. I personally love their brightening collection. They can be found at Whole Foods.

Best Cleanser: COCONUT OIL. Thats all. Coconut Oil, hot water, and repeat.

Best Mask (May 2017): Vichy Pore Purifying Clay Mask, I use this twice a week now, and my skin has never been happier, and it’s doing some serious ground work on making me feel better about the scars that gluten left behind.

Best Lip Balm: I’ve only been loving EOS (I’m not going to link it, you can get it anywhere). I know a lot of people have been getting rashes from it, but I’ve been using if for over a year without any issues – and I have issues with EVERYTHING.

Best Make-Up Line (July 2016): OKAY GUYS. I recently learned that Cover FX is COMPLETELY GLUTEN FREE. I’m currently using a sample of their Mattifying Primer with Anti-Acne Treatment and it’s great. BUT. I’ve absolutely fallen in love with their Matte Bronzer in Suntan. It’s perfect. Just trust me.

I also try to keep up to date with Gluten Free Makeup Gal‘s website, but find she posts a lot of more obscure brands, and I’m tired of always having to search for obscure gluten free brands in health food stores (except for Andalou).

Anything I didn’t mention, I haven’t found the perfect ones yet, and I’m still playing around. If you guys have any recommendations, or have any questions, feel free to leave a comment! I’ll update this again once I find more holy grail GF products.

Update May 2017: I have yet to find anything else I love as much as these products (save for the Vichy mask, over two years later and these are all still my go to products!

Note: This post is not sponsored or affiliated with anything mentioned above. None of these links are affiliate links and I purchased everything myself.

I am not “that girl”

I’m not a health nut. I really couldn’t care less about what nutrients my body gets. But as I sit at my desk eating my gluten free, flax, date, banana loaf I see why I could look like that girl.

I eat a salad for lunch. Every. Day. I order my nicoise salad without the pasta, and double check there’s no gluten in my salad dressing. I sip my coffee black, because my body can’t tolerate soy or dairy. I read the labels on everything. I don’t do this because I care, I do this because I have to.

I will light up a cigarette as soon as I leave my favourite “health food” establishment. I do not do yoga, pilates or yogalates. I don’t exercise at all, and I sure as hell don’t drink enough water in a day.

My servers will always roll their eyes when I request the gluten free menu, and then reiterate that I am, indeed, ordering that gluten free. Let my clarify, I don’t really want to see the gluten free menu, but I’m hungry so I need to see the gluten free menu.

I buy my skin care products exclusively from Whole Foods, and I will ask a lot of questions to make sure they are, in fact, gluten free. I don’t use drug store foundation, because I can’t. Don’t label me as pretentious, because I am not. I don’t have an option.

This all being said, I am thankful for the pretentious gluten free people. They’ve made this all very trendy, which makes my life easier. My options are endless. I have at least 10 places near my work that will cater to my “diet”, and close to the same amount near my house. Things that should be completely off limits, I can still find in GF alternatives. Grilled cheese sandwiches, donairs, sweet treats, you name it.

So please, don’t roll your eyes at me. My allergies are just as real as the kid who made it against to rules to have peanut butter sandwiches in kindergarten.

01.24.2015

A month ago I found out I have Celiac Disease.

A little over month ago I woke up with acne, which continued to get worse and worse. I panicked, I didn’t know what to do. I’m a grown up, and even as a teenager, I never had acne like this. Like any 21 year old would, I went to the drug store, expressed my emergency to the lady at the cosmetics desk (Who obviously has her personal sales tracked) and let her sell me $150.00 worth of junk with the promise that it would make everything better. After about 3 days of using all these products, including some “fancy purified water” that cost me $35.00 on it’s own it occurred to me that this was not acne, this was a rash of sorts.

I googled my face rash incessantly. I learned I probably had skin cancer, TB, Flesh Eating Disease, you name it. So I went to the doctor, because obviously I was dying. After blood tests, and a skin biopsy we learned that I, in fact, did not have any of those. The rash was Dermatitis Herpetiformis (or something like that). A symptom of Celiac Disease.

So it seemed simple, stop eating gluten, face rash goes away. Nope. Not that simple. Turns out, gluten really is in everything. I not only had to change my diet, I had to change my entire routine. There’s gluten in lotion, make up, facial cleansers, soap… You name it, it’s probably bad for me.

Over the past month, I’ve stopped eating glutlen, which means I’ve stopped going out for dinner for the most part. (I’m tonnes of fun to go out with for dinner anyways, Celiac Vegetarians = Optimal date) and I’ve changed my rituals for taking care of myself. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on high end skin care products, I’ve gone back to basics. Gluten free oatmeal soap bar, coconut oil and natural, handmade face lotion. My skin looks almost as good as it used to before it turned on me.

This is going to be an ongoing journey, and it’s not going to be easy. But I’m more energized than I’ve been in years, my body feels better, my mood in better and I can focus on things easier. Maybe I’ve been having symptoms for years, but all it really took was a disgusting rash on my face to make me realize something was wrong.

This is just my experience, I’m sure everyone has a different story, and I’d be happy to hear what it was like for other people.