Exploring the Delights of Marrakech, Morocco // Guest Post

Marrakech is one of my favourite cities in the world and this year I vowed I would return for my third visit so I could explore the delights of the city once again.  

We booked ourselves into the beautiful and iconic La Mamounia Hotel which is located inside the beautiful old medina of the city.  It's truly one of the best luxury hotels that we have ever stayed at and worth every pretty penny.

Winston Churchill told Roosevelt that Marrakech is simply the nicest place on Earth to spend an afternoon and he was right; especially when you can eat your body weight in macarons in the gardens of the hotel with a few glasses of sweet Moroccan Mint tea.   

The spa is quite possibly the most magnificent place to relax in the whole world; 

Now onto exploring Marrakech; shopping in Marrakech is completely out of this world; there is something for everyone and you won't leave empty handed.  It's like entering Aladdin's cave!

I had moments of madness where I thought it would be great to purchase ten mirrors and then extend our house so I could fit them all in. 

You need a game plan when shopping in the market...firstly, can you fit your souvenir into your luggage and secondly do you really need it!  The shop owners aren't too pushy but they do try and entice you into their shops with mint tea and a promise of a good deal or two. I actually left Marrakech pretty empty handed on this visit however I found the shop that made the gorgeous lanterns for La Mamounia so I have vowed to return to buy a few on my next visit.

On our last day in the city I hired a guide to take me through the medina as I wanted to take photos of some hidden little gems inside the medina plus I wanted to photograph as many gorgeous doors that the city could throw at me.  

My guide didn't fail me and found me some of the best doors a girl could wish for....does anyone else actually take numerous photos of doors when on holiday?

We wandered through the canals of Marrakech which are so quiet in comparison to the normal hustle and bustle that engulfs you inside the medina.

We popped inside the oldest university in Marrakech, Medersa Ben Youssef which was totally worth the small entrance fee of 10 dirhams to enter.

On our way back to the hotel we visited a few shops as I was still on the look out for gorgeous silver necklace; I found one but I wasn't willing to pay 500 US dollars for it (and that was after bartering hard).

I love getting to know people so I asked my guide how he became a tour guide and honestly it was the best story ever!  Back in the 70's while he was living in Fez, he was teaching himself English in a cafe one day when an English gentleman leaned over and asked him if he could speak English which he replied yes.  He was asked if he could be their guide around Fez for the day which he agreed too for a tiny sum of money, unbeknown to him that English gentleman was Ringo Starr from The Beatles. 

It's stories like these that make travelling such a joy and makes you realise that it's not just the famous tourist attractions that make the city rich of treasures but the people living within the old city walls.

Travel Tips for Marrakech: 
  • If you're a women then it's best to cover yourself up at all times when in the markets as this will stop unwanted attention.  You can read more about my clothing tips for Morocco here.
  • Make sure you charge your camera each day as the city is very photogenic
  • Keep yourself hydrated by drinking bottled water
  • If you don't feel comfortable walking around the markets then ask your hotel to organise a guide
  • Tagines are a must when in Morocco; try and eat as much as the local cuisine as possible as it's so tasty

Find Kelly here:

Days of the Month: August

Another month, another 31 days worth of celebrations! Here are August's days of the month and more fun blog post ideas, for those days when the creativity is lacking...

    1. Girlfriends Day - How do you spend a day with your girl friends?
    2. Sister's Day - Do you have a sister? Share some of your favourite memories.
    3. Watermelon Day - What is your favourite summer treat to beat the heat?
    4. Social Security Day - Craft a "Did You Know" post, and share 10 facts about yourself.
    5. Oyster Day - What is your favourite seafood? Share your favourite recipe.
    6. Wiggle Your Toes Day - Share your favourite beach vacation/activities.
    7. International Beer Day - Have you ever been on a beer tour? 
    8. Happiness Happens Day - What makes you happy?
    9. Book Lovers Day - Review your summer reads.
    10. Lazy Day - If you could skip work for a day, what would you do?
    11. Play in the Sand Day - Share your favourite beach activities. 
    12. World Elephant Day - What is your favourite zoo animal?
    13. Left Hander's Day - Put yourself in a lefty's shoes for the try. Try to write with your left hand.
    14. National Creamsicle Day - What is your favourite summer treat to beat the heat?
    15. Relaxation Day - How do you unwind after a long work week?
    16. Rollercoaster Day - How do you conquer your fears?
    17. Black Cat Appreciation Day - Do you have any superstitions? 
    18. Mail Order Catalog Day - Where are your favourite places to shop online? How do you find deals?
    19. Photography Day - Share the personal photographs you are most proud of. 
    20. World Mosquito Day - Share a camping memory.
    21. Men's Grooming Day - What is your morning routine?
    22. Be an Angel Day - How do you pay it forward?
    23. Ride the Wind Day - How do you seize the day?
    24. Vesuvius Day - Do you easily explode, like a volcano? How do you calm yourself down?
    25. Whisky Sour Day - Share your favourite summer cocktail. 
    26. Women's Equality Day - Write an ode to your favourite women.
    27. Burger Day - If you could build your own burger, what would it have on it?
    28. Race Your Mouse Day - Are you a techie? Share your favourite app or piece of technology.
    29. Franchise Appreciation Day - Do you shop at big chains, or support local? Share your favourite.
    30. Toasted Marshmallow Day - Share your favourite camping experience.
    31. Trail Mix Day - How do you fuel through the work day?
    August is...
    Romance Awareness Month - Write a letter to your love.
    Golf Month - Are you a golfer? What is your favourite course that you've played at?
    Family Fun Month - How do you have fun with your family?
    Water Quality Month - What are your favourite water activities?
    Admit You're Happy Month - What makes you happy?

    This is just a small sampling of the many interesting and fun days celebrated in the month of August.  I hope you enjoy this feature, and that it brings your some inspiration when the creative juices just aren't flowing this month.

    Happy August!

    Past months: March  |  April  |  May  |  June  |  July

    Let's work together this month! Use code 'getoutisde' for 50% off all ad space. Click here for sponsorship options. 

    5 Essentials to Pack for a Mystery Vacation

    Our 'mystery family vacay' is just around the corner, and the packing has officially begun! While my parents have given clues along the way in terms of what to bring, I am still finding it very challenging not to overpack. Do you suffer from overpacking too?

    Obviously there are many things that are essential to any successful vacation - passport, flight confirmation, credit card, travel/health insurance documents, etc., but there are some items that I find just as important, and that go straight into my carry-on...

    5 packing essentials

    1.. a comfortable camera bag
    Not knowing the activities we will be partaking in, but knowing a camera  is a must, it is key to bring a camera bag that is easy to carry, comfortable, and can hold all of the essentials. Bonus points if it doubles as a carry on. My go-to is the Lowepro passport sling.  Don't forget your camera and charger!

    2.. reusable water bottle
    Did you know that water is one of the most expensive commodities in the world? Not only that, one-time use plastic water bottles are really bad for the environment. When travelling, I prefer to bring my own water bottle to refill. You can fill it yourself once you pass security at the airport, and most cities have public drinking fountains for a convenient refill.

    3.. snacks
    I am a snacker, constantly picking at food throughout the day instead of eating big meals. I am somewhat adventurous when trying new foods, but when the destination is unknown, I also prefer to bring a few of my favourite snacks (think trail mix, candies), just in case. But don't go overboard on the snacks - they still have to fit in your suitcase!

    4.. good book
    Whether you're taking a long flight, or lounging on the beach, a good book, or two, is key! [side note: has anyone read the 'new' book by Harper Lee? I heard it's really good!]

    5.. sunglasses
    Whether you are headed to a sunny destination, or even a snowy one, sunglasses are a must to reduce glare and UV damage to your eyes. All the better to see the sights with my dear.

    What items are essential when you pack for vacation?

    You'll Find Me at the Lake, with Bigelow Iced Tea

    This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MeAndMyTea #CollectiveBias

    bigelow iced tea & lemonade #shop #cbias

    I grew up on Lake Huron, and from a young age was drawn to the water. Not only did it inspire the career path I'm on, but my time at the lake has also created many memories - from countless hours spent laying in the sand laughing with girlfriends, to donning scuba gear and dipping below the surface to explore, and even the celebration of my husband and I saying 'I do'. The lake is my favourite place to be in the summer, and the perfect place to unwind and celebrate the end of a long week at work.

    bigelow iced tea & lemonade #shop #cbias

    There's a few things that I've learned are key to any successful day at the lake: a) bring a good book, or even better, someone to create the memories with, b) liberally apply sunscreen before and after going in the water and c) hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.  Thanks to iced tea, the latter has never been an issue. Despite living in the "north", there was no shortage of iced tea consumed in my household. It is a perfect beverage to serve during the hot summer months - cooling, refreshing and loved by all. 

    bigelow iced tea & lemonade #shop #cbias

    Bigelow iced tea is the 'real deal', none of that powdered or canned from concentrate stuff. This  comes straight from the bag, steeped to perfection. My favourite is Bigelow's iced tea and lemonade, which comes in two flavours - original and pomegranate. I also like to add fruit, such as a slice of lemon and a few raspberries. The fruit adds an extra punch to the already delicious flavour, and if frozen, keeps your tea colder, and you hydrated for longer.

    bigelow iced tea & lemonade #shop #cbias
    bigelow iced tea & lemonade #shop #cbias

    The entire range of Bigelow Tea, including the varieties of iced tea & lemonade, can be found at your local Walmart (US only) in the tea aisle.

    bigelow iced tea & lemonade, walmart #shop #cbias

    Have you tried Bigelow TeaNot only does the tea taste fantastic, but the company behind it is pretty fantastic too. Bigelow Tea is America's largest family-owned tea company and is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year! What started in a small NYC townhouse has expanded to a worldwide market offering more than 130 varieties of flavored, green, organic, herbal, decaffeinated and iced teas. They strongly believe in healthy ingredients and freshness, never compromising on quality or taste.  And for my favourite iced tea & lemonade, that means gluten-free, kosher and GMO-free. Just another reason to love them.

    Find Bigelow Tea here: Website  |  Twitter  |  Instagram  |  Facebook  |  Pinterest

    How do you enjoy your tea moments?

    Poison Ivy & Your Dog

    Growing up, we were warned about the dreaded plant that loomed in the forest surrounding our cottage. Poison ivy was a commonly used name in our family, and at a young age we learned how to identify it to avoid any nasty encounters. "Leaves of three, let it be." played over and over in our heads as we explored. 

    poison ivy and your dog

    My dog LOVES the beach. If he could talk, he would tell you it is one of his favourite places in the world. Last weekend, the two of us went for a walk on my parents' beach. The usual routine - he leads, I follow. The ice wrecked havoc on the trees this past winter, and what is left can be seen scattered across the sand. Titus was up ahead, navigating the fallen trees like a pro. One tree in particular was a lot bigger than the others, causing us to veer off the sand and into the more vegetated part of the beach. Titus was past it in a flash, but as I approached, I looked down at my feet and let out a little scream. "Leaves of three, let it be", I said for the gazillionth time in my life... and Titus had just walked through it. Great. 

    poison ivy and your dog

    Do you know how hard it is to try to entice your dog away from his favourite spot in the world, without touching him? Challenging. But we made it, and straight into the tub he went. 

    What is poison ivy? Poison ivy grows throughout wooded areas North America. The plant, which is not actually an ivy, likes shaded areas and can grow as a shrub, ground cover or climbing vine.  To the untrained eye, the plant can be difficult to notice when you're walking around the woods. With its characteristic three almond-shaped leaves, the plant ranges in colour from light to dark green, or a reddish colour towards the end of summer. It produces flowers in the spring, and in the summer, small, round berries form. The 'sap' of poison ivy is what raises the alarm - it contains an oil called urushiol, which helps the plant retain water.  When the urushiol oil comes in contact with human skin, it causes itching, irritation and a painful rash. 

    poison ivy identification

    What do I do if my dog comes in contact with poison ivy? The good news is, thanks to their thick coats, dogs rarely react to poison ivy like humans. However, that does not mean you're in the clear. If not removed, the urushiol oil can stay active on any surface, including your dog's coat, for long periods of time. And if you just happen to sneak in a cuddle before bed after a day in the woods, well, it could spell trouble for you. 

    If you suspect your dog has come into contact with this nasty plant,  follow these tips:
    1. Avoid touching your dog.
    2. If you must touch your dog, make sure you are wearing gloves.
    3. Avoid touching your face, and other exposed parts of your body.
    4. Get your dog in the tub, wet them down, lather them up, rinse and repeat.
    5. Wash the clothes you are wearing, and any towels used to bathe your dog.
    6. Wash your pet's leash and harness.  

    Believe it or not, dishwashing liquid soap, such as Dawn, is the best soap to use when removing poison ivy oils because it was made to fight grease. 

    It is important to remember, while a dog's coat provides physical protection from poison ivy, exposed areas where hair is thin or absent, such as the belly, inner legs and muzzle, can be affected. Make sure to give your dog a very thorough bathe, and then rinse and repeat. If they start to exhibit signs of an allergic reaction, a prompt visit to the vet is recommended. 

    If all else fails, make sure to keep your dog away from any areas where you know poison ivy grows. If visiting a new area, like a campsite, do a quick surveillance to look for the plant and keep you dog on the leash at all times.

    poison ivy & your dog, dawn soap

    Not a happy camper, but clean as a whistle.

    Have you ever had an encounter with poison ivy?

    10 Things to Do in Toronto This Summer

    Toronto is Canada's largest city, the fourth largest in North America, and home to a diverse population of about 2.8 million people and growing. It is not only consistently ranked one of the world's most livable cities, but it is also Canada's leading tourism destination, welcoming more than 25 millions visitors from across the world annually. No matter the season, or the corner of the city you find yourself in, there is no shortage of things to do and see. 

    Have you ever been to Toronto? What was your favourite part? Today, I am bringing you T.O. & fro's top 10 things to do in Toronto this summer, according to my instagram. I love exploring the city that has an unlimited supply of things to see, do, eat and drink, and these 10 "must see and do" spots are just the tip of the iceberg...

    1.. Say hello to the fishies at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada.

    2.. Experience where nature meets urban living at Evergreen Brickworks.

    3..  Get a bird's eye view of the city from atop the CN Tower.

    4.. Rent a canoe, paddle board or kayak and tour the Toronto harbour.

    5..  Take a ferry to the Toronto Islands. Don't forget to rent/bring your bike!

    6..  Check out one, or a few, of the many craft breweries.

    7..  Take in the skyline at night, with a Toronto harbour cruise.

    8..  Cheer on the Jay's at the Roger's Centre.

    9.. Visit one of the many delicious food trucks.

    10.. Fill your belly with new food at the Canadian National Exhibition.

    Don't forget to follow me on instagram for more exciting adventures - @toandfro21.

    Have you ever been to Toronto? What would you add to this list?

    Camping Recipe: Campfire Chili Cheese Fries

    This past camping trip, I decided to share my love of french fries with this recipe for campfire chili cheese friesThis recipe is by no means "healthy", but you're camping. Live a little and eat food you wouldn't normal eat. After all, camping is about new experiences. 

    With minimal ingredients and a few simple steps, this recipe is sure to please everyone around the campfire. 

    campfire chill cheese fries

    Campfire Chilli Cheese Fries
    Serves: 5

    cheddar cheese, shredded (approximately 1/2 block)
    1 large bag of frozen french fries
    1 can of chilli of choice (with pull tab top)
    aluminum foil

    1.. Place the frozen french fries in the middle of a sheet of aluminum foil.
    2.. Pour can of chilli over top of french fries.
    3.. Top with cheddar cheese.
    4.. Close the packet. You may need a double layer of aluminum foil so that it does not leak.
    5.. Place packet over hot coals. Cook for 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and fries are heated.

    Tip: shredding the cheese before you head out on your camping adventure will save you time. 

    campfire chill cheese fries

    chill cheese fries

    What is your favourite camping recipe?

    Camping Recipe: Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich

    When we go camping,  we divide the responsibilities - Steve is in charge of the gear and I'm given the task of coming up with a delicious menu. We have our go to meals, like breakfast burritos and chicken over the fire, but this year, I wanted to switch it up a little. In comes this delicious recipe for Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches, cooked over the fire. It surprised everyone, including myself, and was an instant hit that will remain on our go-to camping menu list.

    Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich
    Serves: 5

    1 large loaf of fresh bread, such as a french loaf or cheese bread
    2 cups cooked onions, sliced
    2 cups cooked peppers, sliced (optional)
    600g roast beef, thinly sliced
    500g provolone or mozzarella cheese, sliced
    aluminum foil

    1.. Start by cutting sliced into the loaf of bread, about 1.5 inches apart. Do not cut all the way through.
    2.. Drop a large spoonful of onion/pepper mixture into each pocket.
    3.. Add a piece of cheese and roast beef to the pocket.
    4.  Make sure to use up all the roast beef and cheese - to gooier, the better.
    5.. Wrap tightly in the aluminum foil. Make sure they are no holes.
    6..  Place the package near the hot coals, but not directly in the fire. 
    7.. Cook for approximately 30 minutes, until all of the cheese has melted.
    8.. Pair with your beverage of choice. 

    What is your favourite camping recipe?