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As I inch closer to my 40th birthday (it’s still a year and a bit away so I’ve got a little time), I am becoming pre-occupied with signs of aging (or maybe it actually has nothing to do with my mentality about turning 40, and everything to do with the fact that I am almost 40 and symptoms–I mean, visible signs of aging–are starting to come on fast and furious). I’ve got lots of greys (good thing my husband turns out to be pretty good at root touch-ups), and have noticed a laugh line on one side of my mouth, as well as some finer lines around my eyes. Eek!  It’s sort of scary and unbelievable to witness these changes in yourself but I try to maintain a healthy attitude about it because I want to set a good example for Gigi and Viggo. I can’t just tell them that the way we look isn’t the most important part about who we are–I have to model it. And I also try to maintain my sanity by reminding myself that growing old is a gift, despite our youth-obsessed society.

Truthfully, I always envisioned myself growing old gracefully like Meryl Streep or Diane Keaton and while I am positive I’ll never get age-defying plastic surgery, I don’t mind trying to slow the process down a little by dyeing my grays and trying products that promise to diminish fine lines and wrinkles. Needless to say, I was on board when it came to testing Avène YsthéAL Intense–touted as a chemical peel in a bottle. Funnily, I had just purchased the new-to-me brand’s Hydrating Cream with SPF upon recommendation, and liked it, so the odds were in its favour from the get-go.

While I’m happy with the results of the unique cream containing high concentrations of three active ingredients; Retinaldehyde (smooths and brightens), Pre-Tocopheryl (provides antioxidant protection) , and GGO (improves skin’s elasticity), it took my skin a little while to get usd to it (I’ve been using it for about a month). At first I was using it every night but my skin got irritated after a few days, so I took a break, let my skin rest, then started using the product every second night as recommended, which seems to have done the trick! Some mornings, following application the night before, I wake up to what look like dry patches, but they easily slough away when I wash my face in the shower, leaving only fresh, dewy skin. I didn’t think it was making that much of a difference until I was looking back through blog photos from a week or so ago and noticed that my skin looked good (it usually tends to be dull, probably from dehydration because I KNOW I don’t drink enough water). And dare I say it–but my laugh line really does seem less obvious! I’m definitely planning on giving Avène YsthéAL Intense pride-of-place in my skincare regime, so that I can continue to see results!

Avène YsthéAL Intense chemical peel cream

Avène YsthéAL Intense

No makeup selfie; applying Avène YsthéAL Intense

Warning! No makeup!

Brighter, more even skin thanks to Avène YsthéAL Intense

Brighter, more even, skin!

*Eau Thermale Avène sent me the products to review in this post but opinions are my own.

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As we were on a rare family outing to Yorkdale the other day, Mike looked at one of the displays in a store window and said, “I don’t have enough stuff in one colour palette. None of my clothes coordinate very well.” Usually quick to commiserate, I had to stop myself because this spring I have really focussed on limiting purchases to a specific colour palette (light neutrals in denim/blue, cream, and nude), that not only work well together, but that tie into my pre-existing spring/summer wardrobe as well, resulting in a selection of pieces that I can mix and match very easily. And my rigourous planning paid off on our recent trip to Seattle because I packed no less than six outfits in a carry-on! This is an achievement considering I am a chronic over-packer. (One of the memories that stands out most vividly from our honeymoon is poor Mike heaving my huge suitcase into and out of taxis, our rental car, and the train).

I kind of love having a capsule wardrobe for several reasons:

1. Putting outfits together is easy when everything pretty much goes with everything else. The power of the mix-and-match wardrobe cannot be underestimated! But I will point out that arriving at this place of wardrobe nirvana required a lot of blood, sweat, and tears beforehand, in terms of deciding which pieces to buy. It’s hard to teach an old buy-whatever-you-like-dog, new tricks.

2. I am getting wear out of the clothes I did choose to buy, which not only makes me feel more socially and  ecologically responsible (I am still nursing a bit of a Minimalism hangover), but it is better for our bottom-line too. Plus, instead of buying anything that tickles my fancy when I’m out (read: cheap thrills), I have been buying better quality items that I actually love. Win, win.

3. It makes packing a cinch. I did the same thing when we went to Portugal last November and it seriously takes all the guess work out of figuring out what to wear, letting me focus on more important things like drinking in (literally–we had all the wine), a new city.

Here’s what my capsule wardrobe looks like. Not all of the pieces are the exact ones I bought but I linked the most similar items I could find.

Spring/summer 17 capsule wardrobe

Clockwise starting in the middle:

Levi’s Selvedge Wedgie Jeans, $158

I cannot understate my love for these jeans. They harness a magical butt-boosting power and they are the perfect wash and cut for me. They are probably the mainstay of my summer wardrobe.

Boyfriend-style Sleeves Tank, $16 (on sale now!)

The one pictured is T by Alexander Wang, but I went for the much more affordable version from Gap’s vintage line. I love the tough-chic look of a sleeveless tee. It’s a great option for toughening up summer florals on the bottom.

Top with Ruffled Sleeves, $39.99

The one pictured is from Mango but I got the light purple, more ruffly number from H&M, linked above. Ruffles are the trend of the season and I can wear this top with virtually every bottom I own.

White Leather Cross-body Bag, $69.90

I bought one with fringe and a detachable woven strap from Zara because I love that it can be dressed up or down. Plus the neautral shade easily transitions from one outfit to the next.

Vince Noella Leather Lace-Up Flat, $300+

I scored these exact go-with-everything flats by Vince at Winners! You can buy them in black, here.

Pearl-embellished Oxfords, $100

Another score from Winners. Mine are pink with all-over pearls. This pair is a total splurge from Nichlas Kirkwood.

Cream Wide-Leg Cropped Pants, $24.99 (on sale now!)

These are the perfect summer pants–they are comfortable and they go with every top and every shoe in my wardrobe. I’ve been dressing them up and down all over town 🙂 The ones pictured are a much pricier version than by Gap stand-boys, from Off-White.

Denim Skirt, $39.99

I have been living in this denim Skirt from H&M. So much so, that I bought it in black too–and I never do that!

Patchwork Dress, $50

Mine was from good old Winners again, but it’s a similar cut to this one by Fraiche.

Bejewelled Blouse, $45.90

Gems aren’t typically my style but I loved the cut of this blouse so I bought it and am I ever glad I did. I wear it a ton (with the jean skirt, wide-leg pants, and Levi’s above), and every time I do, I get so many compliments on it!

I hope my you’re inspired by my positive capsule wardrobe experience! If it’s something you’ve been curious about anyway, then give it a try! A bonus side effect is that I feel more satisfied when I’m out shopping, knowing that I essentially have what I need to get me through the summer, and I can allocate my money to other things–like the down payment on a future house–without feeling like I’m doing without.

Have you ever tried your hand at creating a capsule wardrobe? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below! Here are some shots of mine in action:

Capsule wardrobe- jeans, Blouse, flown trench

Capsule wardrobe- jeans, bejewelled blouse

 

Capsule wardrobe - denim Skirt

Capsule wardrobe- denim Skirt

Capsule wardrobe- denim skirt

 

 

 

 

 

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I’ve written a lot of posts about cleaning lately, which is apropos because, well, I’m a mom, and if you didn’t already know, being a mom means wearing that hat plus a hundred others that I, at least, hadn’t  thought about pre-kids. I wrote about how we hired a cleaning lady  a little while back, and I am so fortunate to have had so much of the burden of housework (and my mood!), lifted because of it. Our beloved helper (Gigi is in LOVE with her), comes and works her magic every second week, so most of what I’m left with is maintenance cleaning and every so often, some deep-cleaning of those nooks and crannies that only require semi-frequent attention in the spring and then again in the fall. Luckily, Clorox sent over some goodies (you know you’re way over 30 when you refer to cleaning supplies as goodies!), to get our place ship shape for spring!

For daily maintenance, (most of my daily cleaning is centred on the kitchen and Gigi’s highchair), I love Clorox Disinfectant Wipes. In one swipe, I have not only wiped up the mess, but disinfected the area, too. (I disinfect her highchair and she scoops sand into her mouth like it’s popcorn, at the park. Makes perfect sense). I also use them to do quick clean-ups around the bathroom sink because kids necessarily equals toothpaste everywhere.

Spring cleaning with Clorox

One of my more involved, spring cleaning-type projects is to clean out and organize the kids’ toy bins. Show me a mom who hasn’t paid a small fortune for good-looking baskets in varying sizes to house their little ones’ toys and I’ll…I’m not sure what I’ll do, actually. Ha ha. I’m just saying every mom has them. An assortment of storage baskets that end up heaped high with junk. We’ll be sorting through ours, giving some stuff away, and pitching some of the broken stuff right into one of these Glad garbage bags.

Spring cleaning

Spring cleaning

Also on my to-do list is to unclog the bathroom drains. That unsavoury job ALWAYS falls to me because I’m responsible for 99% of the hair in our drain (or, at least my genes are; it’s always red and curly). And weirdly enough, I don’t mind doing it at all. I use this absurd-looking toothy, plastic wand I found on sale years ago, to pull the big clumps of hair out (coarse, curly hair is capable of forming A DAM in your pipes), then I follow the extraction with liquid plumber to get the less apparent clogs out and to give the pipes a good flush! It is gross but weirdly satisfying (if not, gag-inducing), at the same time.

Spring cleaning with Clorox

My other major spring task is transitioning the closets, but I got a head start this year and have already done them, so I feel ahead of the game! I’d love to know–what chores make your house feel spring-ready? Tell me in the comments below!

This post was sponsored by Clorox but all opinions are my own. 

 

 

 

 

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When it comes to shopping, my MO used to be, see something that catches my eye and buy it, which is fine if you’re looking for a wardrobe of flash-in-the pan items that don’t fit together very well (read: a green metallic skirt, more pairs of destroyed jeans than I can count, a white flapper-style dress–you get the picture). So recently, I decided to fill in the holes left between the fun, statement pieces, with some much-needed basics. And the fashion powers that be are right–it is easier to get dressed every day if you’ve got the basics nailed down. BUT what I have also realized, is that while a good stock of closet staples is key, the unique items are what truly make your wardrobe, yours. The fun stuff is the meat to your potato basics, one might say.

So, I haven’t stopped buying stand-out pieces, but now I try to make smarter choices when I shop, making it my aim to choose things that will actually extend my wardrobe and not just exist in a vaccuum. In an effort to keep lusty impulse purchases at bay, I take a few minutes (or hours if I put it on hold), and think about all the ways I can wear the item in question, and if I determine that I can wear it X number of ways, with stuff that I already own, I go back for it. As much as I love my green metallic skirt, for instance, if I was applying this formula (or some might just call it, common sense), back when I bought it, it probably wouldn’t have made the cut.

Now my signature stuff actually gives my wardrobe legs in the same way that the perfect white tee does. Case in point, these pink pants. I’m not typically a trouser person, nor do I EVER buy pink, but I thought about how this pair from RW&CO would make entirely new outfits from my army of cream/white/neutral tops. That alone (nevermind that pink is the colour of the season, that they are floaty and perfect for spring/summer, and that they are so comfortable), makes them a great buy.

Pink paper bag-waist pants

Statement paper bag-waist pants

I also splurged on the now Instagram-famous pom pom mules from Zara. These shaggy sandals are odd and for many, off-putting (I’m looking at you, family), but they definitely get a lot of attention and they offer a way to make all of my sundresses from last season into outfits that are current for this season. Check, check. (As of press time 😂 the whole top row of pom poms has fallen off but I am so committed to the vision of how I will wear these with everything come summer, I am threading my needle as we speak).

Statement piece: pom pom shoes

Finally, these boots, also from Zara (Zara’s really got a hold on me when it comes to their ss17 footwear lineup), are perhaps my favourite statement purchase in a long time. I love the height of the boots (they come up to a flattering point on my leg, something that is typically hard for me to find), and I obviously love the unique all-over floral print. They are nothing like anything I have owned. But the thing that really makes these boots worth every penny (of their already affordable price tag), is the silhouette; sleek and trim, giving the illusion of height, but with a tiny kitten heel. I forewent my black Nudist sandals in favour if these for a bachelorette party last weekend and they were so comfortable, even after walking several blocks! Win, win, win!

Statement floral boots

So is everyone out there as methodical (neurotic) as I am when it comes to clotges? Do you choose your must-have pieces so that they lend your existing wardrobe some flexibility, or do you have a closet of misfits whose fate is to simply be admired and rarely worn?

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A few months ago, having just come off a particularly arduous day of cleaning (of course Gigi would shorten her nap on the day I had set aside to clean the house that week), my mom-friend passed me the number of her cleaning lady while we waited for our boys at school pick-up. Intrigued, I took the little slip of paper–but with so much guilt you’d think I was buying elicit drugs in an alley somewhere. When I told Mike I had the number, he was all for it–most likely because he is witness to my cleaning woes on the daily (I feel like I spend my entire day some days straightening, sorting, putting away–nevermind having the time to actually clean surfaces).

But even with Mike on board, I felt embarrassed and guilty when telling my friends. I heard myself spitting out a long list of justifications when the topic arose, but my sister stopped me mid “…and I also feel like I neglect Gigi,” and said, “that’s awesome!”

“It is,” I thought, thinking of all the time I’d have to dedicate to other, more meaningful pursuits. So, why the guilt? Because I’m a stay-at-home mom right now, and I am supposed to be able to play with/nurture/teach/protect our kids, all while cooking, tracking our budget, working on some freelance stuff, blogging, grocery shopping, and, of course, cleaning. I was booked back-to-back all day, every day (with tasks so mundane, that I resented executing them), so I’d panic when someone spilled on the floor, for instance, because it meant I had wasted my precious time. Let’s just say, my role as housekeeper and the vision of the chilled-out, carefree mom I wanted to be, were at odds.

So when I was asked to test out Pine-Sol’s new Spring Blossom scent, I knew that I might not be the one actually using it, but decided to see how it went. As suspected, the lovely woman who now whips our place into shape every second week, is the one who initially opened the bottle, and I got to experience the thrill of walking into an apartment that was not only squeaky clean, but that smelled great too. I have since used Pine-Sol Spring Blossom several times as I chip away at the spring cleaning; wiping down closet shelves as I switch everyone’s winter wardrobes out for spring/summer, cleaning walls and baseboards and all the nooks and crannies that tend to get ignored over the winter, and cleaning the floors, because even with someone to help us out with the cleaning, we have kids :).

As for the state of affairs when it comes to keeping house around here, I am definitely more relaxed and a little nicer, if I’m being honest. Viggo no longer approaches me with trepidation when he’s had a spill and I have more time to play with Gigi during the day (who, I should point out, is a big fan of Pine-Sol Spring Blossom for its bright, pink colour). I’ve even managed to make headway with the growing pile of New Yorker magazines on my side of the bed. Cheers to that!

 

Cleaning

Pine-Sol Spring Blossom

Pine-Sol Spring Blossom

*This post was sponsored by Pine-Sol but all opinions are my own.

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It’s World Water Day and I am proud to partner with Brita to get word out there about their campaign with Me to We to support a borehole in Irkaat, Kenya, that provides the local community with clean water. I can obviously get on board with the initiative and I love that it’s two-fold; not only does your purchase have an impact in Kenya, but by using Brita’s reusable statement bottle in lieu of a disposable water bottle, you are making an environmentally conscious choice that affects us all.

So, stand up for clean water with me by purchasing a Brita Me to We statement bottle at Wal-Mart, Real Canadian Superstore, Real Atlantic Superstore, Loblaws, or Zehrs, today!

Brita Statement water bottle

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I’ve never been much of a suit person because I’ve never had reason to be. When I did work in an office, the dress code was pretty much non-existent, provided you dressed fashionably (I did PR for fashion brands),which suited me just fine. Before that, I worked for a non-profit arts organization so you know there was nary a suit in site.

“You’re lucky,” my friends, who had to wear business casual every day, would say on shopping trips upon turning down my suggestions (“I can’t wear that to work,” being the sticking point for most of their wardrobe choices). Maybe I was lucky, but I never got to explore the idea of a suit, and if you had asked me as a kid what I would be wearing to work every day as an adult, I would have said without question, “a suit.” I was inspired by one of my favourite eighties movies, Big Business, and less consciously, by what the 80s “power suit” actually signified for women who were entering the workforce (and management positions), faster than ever before.

Needless to say, I jumped at the chance to collaborate with RW&CO. to show off their new suit styles for spring. I chose this neutral pantsuit because I like that I can wear it with almost anything and I can also break it into separates and mix and match it with the rest of my wardrobe pretty easily. I also dig the masculine-inspired cut of the jacket in combination with the pants, but if that’s not your thing,  RW&CO. has a ton of different styles in-store from skirt and jacket combos in fun patterns, to a jacket and pants combination in the colour of the season–blush pink.

My childhood aspirations aside, what’s most meaningful about acquiring my first suit now, is that it just feels like the right time. I’m writing this post on the heels of International Women’s Day that saw the poignant strike, #daywithoutawoman, and before that, The Women’s March, where women all over North America came together to demand equal rights in reaction to one of the most divisive elections in U.S. history. I can’t, in fact, imagine a better time to be wearing a pantsuit.

*This post is sponsored by RW&CO. but all opinions are my own. 

Pantsuit Spring 2017

Look 1: Jacket c/o RW&CO. | Pants c/o RW&CO. | Camisole c/o RW&CO. | Earrings c/o RW&CO. | Stuart Weitzman sandals | Vince Camuto clutch | Jenny Bird choker
Look 2: Shirt and scarf from Winners | Forever 21 sunglasses

Pantsuit Spring 2017

 

Pantsuit Spring 2017

 

Pantsuit Spring 2017

 

Hoop earrings

 

Pantsuit Spring 2017
Pantsuit Spring 2017
Pantsuit Spring 2017

 

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I’m usually pretty open-minded when it comes to clothes and gladly accept outlandish pairings, offensive proportions, unorthodox style–that’s the stuff of fashion, I think. But if there’s one oversight that the gods of style must regard as a sin, it has to be treating your topper as an afterthought. You know the type I’m referring to–that would-be put-together woman on the street who relinquishes any and all style cred by wearing her everyday parka over her chic dress.

“She might be cold,” you say, and yes, parkas have their place in fashion, even. But not in this case. Coats are so integral to my look, I often rely on them to make my simple jeans and tee into a bonafide outfit. When asked if I want to check my coat at the door of an event, etc. I always say no.

“I’m a little chilly,” I lie. But what I really want to say is, “hell, no (thankyou)! This faux fur chub makes my outfit, don’t ya think?” (It always makes me think about Carrie Bradshaw having to remove her ensemble-making shoes at her friend’s baby shower).

Anyway, this isn’t a rant, but more of a PSA. If you’re feeling your look one day, make sure your coat enhances it as opposed to ruining it. I almost didn’t buy this coat, for instance, because I already have a classic beige trench as well as an unstructured grey one. But I love this one for its ability to straddle  the seasons (winter-to-spring or fall-to-winter). The faux fur collar gives the classic silhouette some whimsy and extra warmth, which is just what the dr ordered for these last days of winter. I’ll eventually remove the fur to extend its life into the spring, but for now it’s topping everything from these fun, ruffle-hem pants to my favourite distressed jeans. Without it here, I’d just be another girl in black pants and a cream top, you see?

Trench with fur collar

Zara trench and pants (recent); Maje silk blouse; lace-up booties from Winners

Trench with fur collar

Trench with fur collar

Trench with fur collar
Ruffled leather pants

Trench with fur collar Ruffled leather pants and lace-up shoes

Ruffled leather pants and lace-up shoes

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I used to fret about cramming as many blog photos in as possible on the weekends when my photographer/husband/childrens’ father was home during daylight hours, to take them. (Mike’s titles are by no means listed in priority sequence there–I mean, unless you count those of my former, photo-whoring self who’d rather gamble her infant’s afternoon nap than risk not having “enough” outfit posts for the following week. That bish be cray). And I was. I wasn’t living in the moment with my kiddos, which was a big deal because, since joining the ranks of kindergarten, my oldest had learned to appreciate his “days off” and I was filling them with half-baked plans to visit the back alleys and laneways of Toronto to capture outfits I had cobbled together in a hurry when I hadn’t had time to iron/accessorize/wash the thing I was originally planning on wearing.

And then there was the comedy of errors that unfolded once we actually got to the shoot location; we had to park the kids and make sure they didn’t hurt themselves, all while trying to capture elegant, natural-looking, photographs. The whole situation was one big oxymoron. Gigi typically sat in her stroller while Viggo flittered around, half entertaining her, half straining at the end of his invisible leash (“Please, watch your sister for two more minutes while we get this shot”), wanting to explore the area. Now, for the sake of our sanity, we typically do quick shoots outside of our place (my son’s school across the street and our neighbour’s cars make cameos in my shots all the time, but until I can uncover the secret of taking flattering photographs in pristine, all-white spaces with a 20 month-old along for the ride, such is life). And I’m not hating. Mamas who have it all together and look gorgeous in their photographs, please let me in on your secrets! I hope it’s inlaws in close proximity, because then I won’t feel so bad. And sometimes I do feel pretty bad. One time we parked Gigi’s stroller on our steeply inclined street and were so absorbed in getting a good shot that we didn’t notice when she STARTED TO ROLL AWAY. For real. Thank goodness for Viggo.

I’m not complaining or making excuses–I love our blog-induced brand of chaos on the weekends, but I would love to know how other blogger moms manage to take photos and fit everything in! Tell me your secrets in the comments! 

 

 

I’ve been talking about Minimalism a lot on the blog lately, and while I have realized that I am not–and could never be–a Minimalist in the sense that most people in the documentary espouse (I’m a stuff-everywhere, lived-in, piles-of-pillows, and clothes-as-mementos-type person), I can make more intentional purchases. Rather than eschewing my love of clothing in favour of a deprivatory capsule wardrobe, I have been prompted to look more closely at my shopping habits and how they impact my life–and the world. I’ve alluded to it time and again, but I’m the shopping equivalent of a grazer–a lot of snacks all the time, but never the big, delicious meal that I really want. (Not sure why I went with a food analogy but this winter has got me comfort-eating my way out of all my favourite jeans, so…) I love sales and the suspense of not knowing what gems I’ll uncover. And while there have definitely been some gems, there are most often just a number of items that do nothing for me outside of the immediate adrenaline kick I get from saving a few bucks at the cash wrap. Thank goodness for the enlightened twenty-something guys in line in front of me at Winners yesterday:

“Dude, only buy it if you really love it. Otherwise it’s just not worth it,” the one (very wise) friend said to the other. “Right,” I thought, sheepishly off-loading the myriad pairs of underwear, the dishtowels, and the picture frame I had in my cart onto the nearest shelf. But there was one thing I didn’t put back –something I really love and the very thing I had saved for and had come to the store that day in hope of finding: a pair of flatform, pearl-embellished, blush oxfords that I first spotted at the company’s spring media preview a few weeks before. Knowing that they’d soon be in store, but (judging by the reaction to my Instagram post featuring the objects of my affection), their availability would be fleeting, I effectively muzzled all extraneous spending so I could buy them, guilt-free, whenever they decided to show up at my local Winners. And let me tell you, it feels good to buy with intention as opposed to buying impulsively. There were a million things I could have spent my money on during the several recon missions leading up to the purchase (because, let’s be honest, it’s almost never the case that I–or anyone else–leaves Winners empty-handed. Even if you get skunked in the clothing department, there are always those yogurt-covered raisins hanging on the shelf next to the checkout line. You know the ones.)

Anyway, my wallet and my closet will thank me (as time progresses), if I can continue to be mindful and intentional while shopping. [Closes browser window open to remnants of Zara sale].

Finally some shots of me in my new sweater, which is emblematic of the elevated basics I am trying to populate my wardrobe with–and my quest to buy with intention.

Wardrobe basicsSweater + leather pants Wardrobe basics

 

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