Monday, June 25, 2018

A Little Weekend Getaway

Hello friends! This past weekend our family got to enjoy a little getaway. We headed north to Niagara Falls, Canada to enjoy some waterfall views and take in some of the maple leaf country.

What a fun excursion it was! And I can't believe how much has changed since we were there years ago! So... I'm going to tell you all about it, listing some pretty cool things to do if you're traveling with tweens!

For starters, Canada is packed with botanical gardens. No matter where you stand, you will always be in perfect view of gorgeous trees, shrubs, and roses. We really enjoyed the scenic drive to the Botanical Gardens & Butterfly Conservatory . Home to over 2,000 butterflies, this magical haven was packed with more than colorful wings and flowers. Grab a quick bite to eat at the little cafe and enjoy some beautiful native plants.

Although there's no pictures from Clifton Hill, we were too busy having fun going into haunted houses and playing games at the arcade. This is the perfect spot if you have teens! Plan on being there more than a few hours. It's the main location for the Skywheel, Speedway, golfing, museums, and restaurants.

The Whirlpool Adventure Course is another great stop for families! Not a good spot if you're afraid of heights. We'll stop there.

The Niagara Falls Lock Bridge was a pretty cool sight! You can buy a lock at the Embassy Suites hotel. Make a wish or tell a secret.... lock it up and throw the key in the falls!  

And if you're too tired from all the walking, you can always use The Falls Incline Railway as a shortcut to get to the falls. It's a great place for dining with waterfall views at the Table Rock Centre pictured below.

And of course we had to stop and pay tribute to the lovely garden memorial and statue dedicated to Nikola Tesla.

Although there's plenty of places to eat, I got admit our favorite was The Spyce Lounge . The food was amazing and the atmosphere was fun and modern.

Random things that I thought were awesome....
Your credit card never leaves your side. For example, at restaurants, each waiter/waitress carries their own payment terminal. They ring you up right there! This completely removes the risk of credit card info being stolen. It's great and I wish it was something that can be adopted here in America. 
Did you know that they charge extra for plastic bags? I think that's great too! Talk about going green. 
My girls really didn't enjoy the toilet paper dispensers. At some locations, toilet paper actually came out like tissue box paper. Yup, if you're thinking Kleenex, you're right. Again, I'm assuming, an attempt to eliminate excessive wasting....(which as a mom, I found a helpful thing).

So... the next time you have a free 48 to 72 hours and a bit of spending cash, make sure you head north and view those beautiful Niagara Falls.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Rose Water for the Face & Body

Our beautiful tea rose bush is in full bloom once again and oh what a lovely sight it is! I usually spend time making rose syrup, which you can find here, but since I've been trying to take it easy on the sweets, I opted for a luxury mist:) After all, who doesn't love to be pampered? And who wouldn't love a little spa-like pick me up in the middle of a stressful day? Right? Soo.... I gathered some supplies and got to work!

You'll need: 
-  tea roses (about 7-8 blooms)
-  2-3 aloe vera stalks
-  Vitamin E oil
-  Essential oil of choice (I used Niaouli)
-  one water bottle
-   funnel
-  glass dish
-  enamel coated cookware (for boiling the rose petals) Do not use stainless steel as it will make your water a dark purplish blue. This happens from the oxidation.
-  wooden tongue depressor (use it for mixing, pulling out the petals from the boiled water, and scraping the aloe vera stalks.
-  spray bottles (I got mine at Target for a buck)
-  a knife to slice open the aloe vera

Start by placing the unwashed petals in your enamel cookware. DO NOT PRE-RINSE. So many people get this part wrong. As long as you do not use fertilizers, garden additives, mulch, or bug products, you absolutely do not need to rinse your petals. Having said that, make sure no bugs or spiders are hiding in the blooms. Just give them a quick shake. Pre-washing your petals takes the very first layer of awesomeness out. You need that protective layer for your skin :)

Add your one bottle of water to the petals in the enamelware. (No stems allowed!) Cook on a low flame just until the water begins to boil and the petals have become slightly translucent. 

Scrape the center of the aloe stalks by slicing them down the middle and use the wooden tongue depressor to remove all the clear juice and gel. I scraped mine onto a large plastic bag which made it easier to place in the glass bowl. Slowly add the petal water. Try not to get any petals into the dish.  You should not use a metal strainer, because again, no stainless steel!

Add two generous squeezes of the Vitamin E oil and 5-10 drops of your favored essential oil. I absolutely love the scent of Niaouli. It's a little softer on the skin than Tea Tree oil but has the benefits to clear up skin ailments. So win win for us!

Mix your concoction together as best as you can. Obviously oil and water don't mix that well which is why after you've placed it in the spray bottles, you'll have to shake it up before applying. 

That's it! Place your beautiful pink rose mists in the fridge for those hot summer nights or next to your beauty products for a.m and p.m care. I'm pretty sure you'll want to use this daily!

Even with the Niaouli, there is a strong rose scent with every spray. A couple important things to remember:
~ more roses per batch means stronger scent, more concentrated color
~ never use stainless steel, metal, or silver unless it's enamel coated; the oxidation will cause your rose water to change colors
~ wooden tongue depressors or spoons work great
~ make sure your storage containers are BPA free

Luxury mists are nothing more than a few plant products and water. The only key to success is having the right supplies and understanding how to create your concoctions. Once you learn the basics, the possibilities will be endless!