Friday Favorites: Iced Tea + A Haircut

It’s been quite awhile since I last wrote a Friday Favorites post, so I figured it was time I write one for today.

It’s been HOT this week – so much so that we had a heat warning in place at the beginning of the week. Alberta typically cools off during the night, but that hasn’t been happening, which makes it hotter during the day. Most houses here in Calgary don’t have air conditioning, so it’s been pretty miserable. The worst is trying to fall asleep when all you can think about is how hot you are. Thankfully I’ve been enjoying a cold and refreshing treat.

A few weeks ago I had bought a package of different flavored iced teas from David’s Tea. There’s five flavors included in it and the four that I’ve tried have been really good. I’ll typically make it before going to bed so that the next day and nice and cool after being in the fridge all night.

While these teas are supposed to be brewed for around 5 minutes, I’ve found that 8 minutes is what I like the best. I prefer to add some sugar to the iced tea so it has a bit of sweetness to it. I’ve found that they perfect time to add the sugar is right after brewing it and the water is still hot. That way the sugar dissolves and you don’t end up with it on the bottom of the pitcher.

The hibiscus splash and frozen raspberry flavors are my favorite. The frozen raspberry is pictured above. Not only does it taste good, but it’s also such a pretty color. I’ll definitely be buying more of these iced tea packs during upcoming summers. They’re the perfect way to help beat the summer heat.

Friday morning I had a schedule for a haircut. I can’t even remember the last time I got it cut, so it was definitely needed. I have the best stylist, Alannah at Blue Aurora Studio. She works out of the beltline location of District Studios if you’re local to Calgary. She has her own room so it’s just the two of us during the appointment. For an introvert like me it’s great. I don’t leave appointments feeling depleted like I would in a typical salon with all the people. Alannah is amazing. She worked her magic and I got 5 inches off and some layers. That’s 5 inches that I don’t have to blow dry anymore! It feels so much better to have some length off the bottom.

Haute Stock Premium Photography Review

Today I’m sharing all about Haute Stock, where I get the stock photos from for blogging and sharing on social media.

Most of the photos I share that I take are taken on my phone. I’m not a great photographer. If I use an SLR it’s on auto mode. Unfortunately blogging and sharing on social media requires not just good photos, but great photos. I knew I needed help. There’s things I’m good at, but photography isn’t one of them.

A few years ago I heard about Haute Stock (affiliate link). I was super excited to find out about it. Haute Stock (affiliate link) offers stock photography in all kinds of categories – from fitness to lifestyle to work. Every week a new collection of images are released. Each collection includes 15 to 30 images, all of which are styled so that they’re cohesive and work well with each other. You can download individual images or entire collections at a time. It’s super easy to find exactly what you need – Haute Stock has an amazing search filter. You can filter collection by keyword, image size (hero, square, wide, tall, etc.), people/no people, tech/no tech, video/images, and by color.

I like to import the stock photos and videos to Canva to create everything from blog post graphics (like above) to Pinterest images, to social media posts. It’s super easy to create in Canva with Haute Stock. In addition to the stock photography, they also offer a bunch of additional resources such as social media prompts, holidays to celebrate (national puppy day, national ice cream sundae day, etc.), and even guides for how to prepare for big online shopping days like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Boxing Day.

Interested in a Haute Stock membership (affiliate link) of your own? Use code e5bcb239ce for 15% off your subscription.

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my blog – I appreciate it!

24 Minute Workout

In today’s post I’m sharing a new quick workout that you can do in under half an hour at home.

Before I get into today’s workout, I wanted to remind you that you can find all of the workouts that I’ve shared over the years on my workouts page. If you’re in need of some music to enjoy while you’re sweating, check out my workout playlists. There’s something for everyone over there – from top 40 to 80’s hits to boy bands.

You’ll only need a few key pieces of equipment for this workout. I’d recommend a yoga mat (affiliate link) for any of the exercises on the floor like the side planks, push ups, and chest press. If you’re interested I shared a review of my Manduka mat. It’s the same one that I linked above and it got me through yoga teacher training and beyond. You’ll also want a couple pairs of dumbbells (affiliate link). Lighter ones for upper body moves and heavier ones for lower body exercises.

Perform each exercise for 1 minute followed by a 1 minute rest/prep for the next exercise. It’ll go by quick and you’ll appreciate all 60 seconds of rest between moves.

  • Dumbbell squat
  • Overhead press
  • Lateral lunges
  • Side plank (side A)
  • Donkey kicks
  • Push ups
  • Dumbbell chest press
  • Side plank (side B)
  • Skaters
  • Tricep kickbacks
  • Step ups
  • Bicep curls

As always, you’ll want to make sure that you perform each rep with really good form. If you can’t complete a full 60 seconds, it’s time to switch to a lighter weight. And there’s absolutely no shame in that. It’s much better to go smaller than to risk an injury with bad form.

Let me know if you try this workout and what you think of it. Feel free to tag me on Instagram. I love seeing people enjoying the workouts that I share on the blog!

Banff Itineraries

In today’s post I’m sharing the perfect Banff itineraries for how to experience everything that Banff National Park has to offer. 

Tips

If you only have one day in Banff, I’d recommend getting an early start. Banff is busy all year long, but particularly in the summer when there are more tourists. Getting a head start on popular hikes or even getting a parking spot can mean all the difference between enjoying the outdoors and doing laps of a parking lot to try to find a spot. Alternatively, if you like to sleep in while travelling, go to the most popular places in the late afternoon once crowds have died down. 

Banff has great public transit as well as shuttles to get you to most places you’ll want to go. Since parking is limited in both the townsite and at hiking trailheads, if you can leave your car at home or at your hotel, you’ll be ahead of the game. No one wants to get stuck in traffic while on vacation. 

There’s honestly no best time to visit Banff. If you’re going in the summer you have all kinds of hiking, camping, and boating options to take advantage of. If you’re going in the winter you have some world class skiing and snowboarding to take part in. No matter what time of year you’re planning a trip to Banff, you’ll be sure to have lots of things to do.

Things to do

Check out Lake Minnewanka. It’s one of the longest lakes in the Canadian rockies and is absolutely beautiful. It’s a glacier fed lake so it’s particularly clear and blue. There are paths for hiking and mountain bike riding, as well as quite a few backcountry camping sites (which require reservations to camp at). You can also book a Lake Minnewanka cruise. I haven’t been on one yet, but I can only imagine how pretty it would be. 

Another couple lakes to check out are Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. Both are pretty famous, so I’m sure you’ve seen photos of the views from their shores. Parks Canada has recently changed the parking situation at Lake Louise (you have to take a shuttle there as of summer 2023), so be sure to check out the website for information to get there. If Lake Louise is too busy, try Moraine Lake. It’s close by and although it used to be less busy, it seems to now be the fallback spot when Lake Louise is full. There are hiking trails along the shore of Lake Louise that will take you higher up and give you amazing views of both the lake and the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. 

The Bow Falls viewpoint is a great option if you’re not much of a hiker, but still want to see some beautiful scenery. Not far from the Banff Springs Hotel, you can park pretty close to the water. It gets busy mid day, so if you want to check it out when it’s a bit quieter, head out right at sunrise or late afternoon or evening. 

If you’re wanting to take in more gorgeous views, be sure to check out the Banff gondola that goes up to the summit of Sulphur Mountain. I’d recommend booking tickets online ahead of time. Once you get to the top, there’s a couple choices of places to get food, as well as an interpretive center. Alternatively, you can also hike up Sulphur mountain. It’s an hour and a half to three hour hike up depending on the weather and your fitness level.

My last tip is to keep your distance from any and all wild animals. It’s always so cool to see mountain goats, elk, bears, and buffalo, but it’s so important that we make sure to appreciate them from a safe distance. If in doubt about how close you are, it’s always a good idea to back up and give the animals some extra space.

Where to stay

If you’re spluging on a hotel while in Banff, I highly recommend staying at the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel. While I haven’t stayed overnight there, I have been a few times to visit my parents when they were staying there and to eat at one of the restaurants in the hotel. If you’re staying in Lake Louise, the Chateau Lake Louise is equally as luxurious. Both hotels are gorgeous to walk through and have so much history – including some good ghost stories. 

Just like any other tourist destination, there are  places to stay at all price points, from hostels to luxury hotels like the Rimrock. Booking in advance is mandatory, as holidays and long weekends book up fast. I’d book as far in advance as possible to get your preferred room. 

Where to eat

One of my favorite places to eat in Banff is at The Grizzly House. It has the most amazing fondue that reminds me of what I ate in Switzerland. The Italian restaurant at the Banff Springs Hotel is also really delicious.

For lunches I like to pop into pubs. There are lots to choose from on Banff Avenue on the Banff town site. Many of the pubs have some great live music. In fact, I was able to see a friend of mine perform with his band 15 years ago. Banff has an amazing art scene with everything from artwork to music to writing.

If you’re wanting to take something to eat on a hike, check out coffee shops for sandwiches to take with you. There’s something about eating after reaching the end of a hike with mountain views in front of you that just makes it taste better. You can also stop by the grocery store to make your own food if you have a kitchenette in your hotel room or if you’re staying in a cabin with a kitchen.

A big thing to remember when eating in the mountains is to be sure to take all garbage home with you and to not feed the wildlife. It’s always sad to hear about an animal that has to be put down because they’ve become accustomed to human food and therefore prowl garbage cans and around buildings to look for something to eat. It makes it much more likely that there will be a wildlife/human conflict and someone could get seriously hurt or even killed by the animal.

Have you visited Banff before? If you’re a local what’s something you’d recommend for Banff itineraries?

Flodesk Review and Pricing

In today’s post I’m sharing a Flodesk review and pricing.

What is Flodesk?

According to their website, Flodesk (affiliate link) is a digital marketing service provider. In other words, you can create and send marketing emails to your audience using it. I’ve used several others in the past including Mailchimp and Mailerlite, including both free and paid versions. While Flodesk is the most expensive, it’s also my favorite and easier to use!

Why I use Flodesk templates

I’m not a graphic designer by any means. One of my favorite things about Flodesk (affiliate link) is that it has a bunch of templates to choose from when creating emails. I can easily swap in images and colors that work for my brand in just minutes, instead of trying to create a cute design from scratch. I send out a couple emails each month to my subscribers (sign up if you’re interested!) and with other services it took me forever to get those emails written and scheduled. With Flodesk it’s quick and easy to get them ready to go and I can have a month’s worth of emails done in minutes instead of hours.

I spent so much time designing emails in Mailchimp. It was a giant time suck and it didn’t feel like the effort was worth it when I was sending them out to a smaller number of people several years ago. Now that I’ve customized a template, I just have to focus on writing the content of the email and it’s done in minutes.

Flodesk pricing

Many digital marketing service providers provide a free version that you can use until you reach a certain number of subscribers. Flodesk (affiliate link) doesn’t do that, though of the ones that I’ve paid for, I get the most from Flodesk.

Along with the easy to modify templates, I also get super easy to customize sign up forms, automated emails that are sent out when triggered, subscriber information including segments and last active, as well as analytics, which is really helpful when it comes to figuring out what’s working and what needs to be tweaked with the emails that I’m sending out.

I pay $38 USD for all of the above features, no matter how big my email list gets. That’s right, I can have just a couple hundred or thousands of subscribers, and that’s how much I’ll pay every month.

How I use Flodesk

Along with sending out emails to readers of my blog, I can also integrate Flodesk (affiliate link) with Instagram, and even my Shopify store. Connecting both to my Flodesk account was really easy. I’m not a techy person, but getting it set up was something that I could do pretty easily. I also have several sign up forms on my blog that were really intuitive to design and place. There was a minimal amount of coding knowledge needed and wasn’t intimidating at all.

Let me know if you have any Flodesk questions in the comments below. I’m happy to answer them if I can!

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my blog – I appreciate it!