Holiday Glam Inspired Beauty at Rexall

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Rexall Inspired Beauty

The holidays are right around the corner and I always find this season a good time to step out of my comfort zone when it comes to my makeup, to help get me in the festive mood. I’m a low maintenance girl. Do I feel more put together when I leave the house with beautiful makeup? Absolutely. Do I have time to spend an hour and a half to achieve a party ready look before leaving the house? Definitely not.

Rexall Inspired Beauty

I am lucky to be surrounded by some extremely talented makeup artists on a regular basis on set, like Plutino Group Artist Angie DiBattista, who has taught me that achieving this flawless holiday look can not only be done in a pinch, but you also don’t have to break the bank to do it. On a quest to see if Angie’s theory was right, I recently made a trip to Rexall to find products easily accessible and affordable to the masses to help create the perfect look for the holiday season party circuit. If you’ve never stepped inside one of Rexall’s Inspired beauty departments, do so immediately. I know it’s the best kept secret for many beauty bloggers in the city and now I know why! With a plethora of amazing brands with diverse products to appease women of all colours, I was like a kid in a candy store. I felt no pressure from staff as I took my time browsing and testing as many products as I needed and when I had questions on some of the brands I was less familiar with like NYX, the cosmetician on duty happily educated me and guided me in the right direction to find items that would help me achieve my desired look.

Holiday Glam in 30 Minutes

I usually keep things pretty minimal when it comes to my makeup day-to-day, focusing on creating clean/flawless skin, preferring a  neutral shade on my lips and a hint of colour on my cheeks. But there is no reason to play it safe during the holidays and now is my chance to experiment with learning how to do a subtle, yet sexy smoky eye and play up on the drama with a very bold lip.

Rexall Inspired Beauty

I pick up so many useful tips when I’m in the makeup chair.  To be honest, I’ve always been fearful of doing my own eye makeup. I have shaky hands making it a bit hard when applying colour to my eyelids. One of the smartest things I’ve learned from Angie is that when you’re going for a more dramatic eye, such as a smoky look, it’s always better to start with your eye makeup first, before doing your foundation. Yup, you can thank us later! In case you make any mistakes while smoking out your lids, you don’t have to worry about wiping off your foundation too and starting over. A simple, smoky eye is all I really wanted, knowing I was going to go big on my lip, and was easily achieved with two shadow pots from NYX in Haywire and Euphoria plus a brilliant two sided eyeliner from Pupa. It has a blender on one side, allowing even the most novice peeps like as myself, to smudge and blend like a professional. To round out the eye, I applied two layers of Vamp mascara, also from Pupa.

Rexall Inspired Beauty

For my skin, I turned to the ultimate creamy foundation from L’Oreal. Normally, I have to blend three foundations to get the colour just right for my pigmented skin, but with L’Oreal’s True Match Lumi, I only needed a small dollop of a tinted moisturizer mixed in, to give my skin a fresh, clean finish. It was the most expensive item out of everything I purchased but a solid polished look starts and ends with good skin.

Rexall Inspired Beauty

I have fallen in love with this season’s lip trends; deep merlot/burgundy colours and the matte finish. There were no shortage of these in Rexall’s Inspired beauty department but I fell madly in love with NYX’s Soft Matte Lip Cream in Copenhagen. My new fave lippy, which actually works well with all skin tones, goes on a bit creamy however surprisingly dries totally matte. Best part, the tip of the brush is small enough to make it possible for anyone to apply precisely without the help of a lip liner.

Rexall Inspired BeautyPhotography by JessBaumung.com 

Items purchased for my look…wait for the drumroll, came in under $80, which could have easily run me a few hundred if I had bought them at a luxury department store. Starting December 2nd, 2016, Rexall Inspired Beauty is giving you a chance to win 1 of 2 $2,000 Rexall Gift Cards this holiday season. Click here tomorrow to enter and find contest rules and regulations. Best of luck!

Posted on by Sasha in BEAUTY, CONTESTS Leave a comment

Taking My Look from Day to Night with First Canadian Place

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First Canadian Place Exchange Tower

Toronto’s Financial District is famously known for its architecturally stunning office towers, restaurants and as the shoot location for cult fave legal show “Suits” but unbeknownst to many, the city’s best kept retail secret lives underground inside First Canadian Place and Exchange Tower. I discovered this gem a couple years ago while trying to seek refuge from the cold winter temps after a workout at Equinox down in the PATH. What I found that day below the cluster of buildings was almost another world in itself, with stores satisfying all one’s needs.

First Canadian Place #MyFCPEx

First Canadian Place Exchange Tower

It is not unusual for me to not have time to go home between work and evening events, so I make an extra effort to dress in an outfit that can easily be transitioned from day to night with just a few simple edits – like the change of a jacket, accessories and lip colour. Located conveniently in the downtown core and close to many of my client’s offices, First Canadian Place has become my one-stop shop for clothing, footwear, accessory and beauty needs when I’m on the go.

The success of a transitional look for me starts with colour. Blacks and neutrals are by far the easiest to dress up and dress down – and seriously nobody ever looks bad in black. Second, you can never go wrong with leather when it’s done right folks. Leather pants and skirts, the latter at an appropriate length of course, has become acceptable for daywear in the office and with just some minor changes to your outfit can be chic and even sexy for the evening. Last but not least, a black turtleneck will always be a standard item in my closet. It works well no matter what proportion you’re wearing on the bottom. They are light enough to be layered under a warmer coat but generally warm enough to be worn under a leather moto jacket. These two looks were pulled together in a pinch from two of my go-to boutiques at First Canadian Place – Hangar 9 and Sisley/Benetton.  If you were born in the 80’s and the 90’s was a time you got to first express yourself with fashion, you will remember Benetton for it’s classic Rugby shirts and colourfully diverse campaign ads. The brand’s older, more refined sibling, Sisley, is the perfect spot for office separates and more. If you have yet to step foot into Hangar 9, then I highly suggest you rank it high on your list of things to do this month and brace yourself friends, you will be overwhelmed by the pieces from Derek Lam, Maison Marie Saint Pierre, Missoni, Iro Paris, Helmut Lang, Carven and more carefully curated by the boutique’s owner Rachel.

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My Rag and Bone leather jeans, turtleneck from Sisley and black shoes works quite well for my day to night look. I paired a long vest as my outerwear for my day look and since I am not a fan of briefcases or standard laptop bags, I opted for this beautiful oversized clutch, that is actually large enough to fit my MacBook and other small personal items. And of course sunnies. I never leave home without a pair (or two) and this Chanel pair has a dramatic mirrored lens that I love.

First Canadian Place

First Canadian Place Exchange Tower

FCP

First Canadian Place Exchange Tower

Opting for more a more street than chic look for after work cocktails or an event, I replaced the long coat with a buttery soft pink lambskin leather moto jacket from Iro Paris and ditched the oversized clutch for a smaller bag for evening that comes with the cutest fur accessory. And even though the black Chanel’s would have worked well with my night look, I just couldn’t resist these Miu Miu’s and it’s pink velvet case. If you love sunglasses as much as I do, you will find endless pairs you will want to add to your collection from Specs and Contacts, also inside Exchange Tower.

First Canadian Place Exchange Tower

First Canadian Place

First Canadian PlacePhotography by Lindsey Drennan

What I’m Wearing: Leather Jeans (Rag & Bone), Black Coat, Leather Iro Paris Jacket, Handbags courtesy of Hangar 9. Turtleneck courtesy of Sisley, Sunglasses (Chanel and Miu Miu) courtesy of Contacts and Specs all at First Canadian Place

Close to Toronto’s financial district? Make First Canadian Place your first destination for all your shopping needs this holiday season. For shopper’s convenience, First Canadian Place and Exchange Tower will be open Saturday’s starting this Saturday November 19th until Saturday December 17th with FREE parking . Retailers will be open from 11AM – 5PM. Enjoy the holiday shopping without the holiday stress!

Posted on by Sasha in FASHION, HOLIDAYS Leave a comment

Miscarriage: The Exclusive Club Women Don’t Want to Belong To

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The Truth About Miscarriage

There’s a private club that exists and none of it’s members want to be a part of it. A “Secret Society”, if you will, that virtually nobody speaks of. Unlike most exclusive clubs where you receive a membership with pride, acceptance into this particular one causes feelings of shame, fear, sadness and anger. “Miscarriage” is the name of the club and I just happen to be it’s newest member. Today, a startling 1 in 3 pregnancies are not viable, meaning thirty-three percent of women looking to become pregnancy will suffer at least one miscarriage. What’s even more scary, the chance of losing a baby only increases with each miscarriage you have.

I’ve received flack in the past for not sharing more about my personal life. I guess sharing motivating and positive posts on social media make people think that I am not 100% authentic – which is ridiculous. I have been very open about my health condition and the challenges that arise from my kidney disease and chronic pain, but prefer to be able to keep some details on my partner, family and home life private. I have felt a wave of emotion since my miscarriage; a rotation of disbelief, sadness and anger, but the one thing that was constant was the feeling of loneliness and isolation. Feeling like I had nobody to talk or relate to. I still feel a bit that way and it’s been almost four weeks but I have noticed that the more I speak about it, the more I discover how many other women I had in my close circles that had gone through one or several miscarriages. I have literally spent the last two weeks picking my mouth off  the ground, I kid you not, from the amount of women who have revealed stories to me. So I have concluded that women who miscarry feel isolated because we are conditioned to not open up and talk about the topic. Like many women’s issues, we are expected to be silent. But if we did feel comfortable opening up, the chances of us meeting and engaging with other women going through the same thing would be significantly higher. I know this sort of post is a departure from the type of content I normally share however, I felt compelled to talk about it, in hopes to let other women who are going through the same thing know that they are allowed to mourn, they are allowed to be sad, they are allowed to feel anger and they shouldn’t feel guilty.

Processed with VSCOcam with a5 preset

So here’s the deal…despite my plans for my three year goals which you have probably read earlier this year on my blog, my boyfriend and I decided this summer it was time to start trying to expand our little family. After spending so much time with our nephew Leilan, I think we fell in love with the idea of having our own and that adorable little chocolate chunk made us expedite our baby plans. Before I knew it, there was this sudden urge for me to become Mom. I think some of you were on to me after watching some of my snaps and Instagram stories – saying how maternal I looked with whenever I was around the baby. In August we tried and let me just say, we were shocked to discover I got pregnant so quickly –  on the first try no less. I am in my thirties and without getting too specific with a number – I would say closer to forty than I am to thirty. So naturally, with my age and kidney condition, we thought we may have a difficult time conceiving. Clearly not the case! When your pregnancy is planned, your mindset after learning you’re with child is extremely different than when it is unexpected. Planning for the baby started right away for the both of us. So here I was in late summer, pregnant with a much wanted baby desperately trying to hide the nausea, the gigantic size of my boobs, the changes to my body, which is hard when you normally work out in a sports bra and short tights, and the OVERWHELMING fatigue from clients, when all I wanted to do was scream from the rooftops that we were having a baby. This summer had by far been the busiest I’ve ever been since I started building my brand and as much as I should have probably slowed down, it was so difficult to turn down all the amazing opportunities coming my way.

The Truth About Miscarriage

We all know the rule of staying silent about a pregnancy during the first trimester but for some reason, I actually never believed that miscarriage would happen to me. Silly and ignorant of me to assume that, trust me I know. This was before I knew the startling high rate of miscarriages. I am healthy…take good care of myself. Eat well, exercise and I had no problems conceiving so I honestly thought that I would have a happy, normal pregnancy. Well, if Beyonce, who is basically a unicorn, can miscarry a child – it can happen to anyone.

Throughout the pregnancy I never felt any real major concerns to make me feel like something was wrong. At the time to my knowledge, all of my symptoms were textbook. I still felt pregnant. My hormones were still crazy making me feel like I wanted to rip my boyfriend’s head off like a praying mantis over the smallest things. More importantly, I had no spotting or bleeding. I did however notice some cramping starting around week six or seven but just attributed it to gas, because I had a lot of it, and from what I read, gas was a very normal side effect. Pregnancy has some uncomfortable symptoms and I kept mum about the gnawing pain not wanting to be one of those crazy first time mother’s calling my doctor with a different concern every single day. Once your 35, you’re considered high risk and with my kidney ailment, my family physician was on heightened alert. Highly suggesting I choose a traditional pregnancy path and birthing my plan for safety in lieu of having a home birth with the assistance of a midwife that we so badly wanted. Also, he suggested that I have an early ultrasound, just to ensure everything was ok in the early stages. I was a bag of emotions prior to the eight week ultrasound but mainly excited to hear the heartbeat our little creation for the first time with Rejean. After what seemed like 15 minutes of internal imaging from a technician with a very distressed look on her face, I knew right away something was terribly wrong. “Ms Exeter, are you sure you’re 8 weeks pregnant? Have you had any bleeding or concern that you may have had a miscarriage? Because I am not seeing a heartbeat“. If you’ve had an ultrasound for anything in your life, not just for a pregnancy, you know the technician is not allowed to say anything during your visit. Their job is to take the imaging and send it off to your doctor. Why she was divulging this information to me while I was still lying on the table still puzzles me to this day. My immediate panic made the technician back pedal quickly and tell me that it is not uncommon for a heartbeat to not be visible this early. It could also be because of the position of the fetus. But the red flag was not only the missing heartbeat but also that the size of the fetus in the dating ultrasound, which did not match how far along my doctor and I believed I was in my pregnancy. Results were sent to Dr. Fischer, who could have told me right then and there my pregnancy did not have a chance and discuss my next steps. I was given the “option” to re-test my HcG levels to check my hormone count but it came across as more of a suggestion and not mandatory. We were heading to Chicago a couple days later so I decided to just leave it until we returned. I wanted to enjoy some time away from my partner stress free. I also was in a bit of denial, trying to somehow convince myself that if my doctor felt there was an actual cause for serious concern, he would have said so right away, so all should be good. A follow up internal ultrasound was booked two weeks later and during that appointment it was confirmed there was still no heartbeat at 11 weeks. The fetus had in fact been dead inside of me for 6 weeks. Receiving this news felt like a building had literally came crashing down on me and I was tramped underneath piles of rubble with my lungs gasping for an ounce of air. I could not breathe. It was my worst nightmare coming true and a million and one questions began popping into my head. “Why meWhat is wrong with me? Am I too old? What did I do that could have caused this to happen? Why me? What is Rejean going to say? Is he not going to want to try again? And what about the people we told? How am I going to tell them this news? If the fetus had been dead all this time, why hadn’t it already expelled from my body?” I felt ashamed, terrified, stressed the fuck out and just so very sad.

After speaking with a midwife and my naturopath, I now know that I should have be told right after the first ultrasound that the pregnancy wasn’t viable and given options on next steps. I should have been instructed to have my HcG tested immediately and without question, a follow-up ultrasound should have been performed a couple days later, not a couple weeks. I was referred to St. Joseph’s hospital right after the it was determined it was a silent miscarriage to have a D&C procedure to remove the fetus and clear out any waste from the uterus. However after nine hours of blood work, internal pelvic exams and waiting, I was sent home without having it done due to lack of bed availability at the hospital which is ludicrous. I was instructed that I could either wait for nature to take it’s course or get a prescription for Misoprostol, a pill to help induce the passing of the fetus, and tylenol 3 for the pain. I decided to ask for the script from the doctor – I didn’t want something that wasn’t alive in me a second longer after knowing it was sitting there for six weeks. Well, after a long day in doctor’s offices and the hospital, by the time I was discharged at 1:30am, the bleeding and cramping has started to begin on it’s own. It was too much stress on my system the so my body finally started to do what it needed to do. Nobody really prepared me for what was going to happen next. Not even the OBGYN student assigned to me, who was doing her residency rounds that night. Before leaving the hospital we were not given adequate information to prepare for what was to come, which was 12 hours of severe cramping or contraction-like pain one would expect during labour, having to see the remains of my pregnancy leave my body and having to pass the placenta that had developed during the pregnancy a day later. Trust me, there are just some things you can’t unsee. I, like most women who had never had a miscarriage, thought it would be similar to a bowel movement – some stomach pains and a trip to the washroom and it was over…leaving you to deal with the emotions afterwards. Not even close – or at least for me in my situation. Drug free, it was very painful, extremely traumatic and afterwards feeling your pregnancy symptoms slowly disappear as your hormone levels start to drop, acts as a cold reminder that your body no longer houses another life.

So what happens next? Well, to be honest it’s a very strange and troubling thing. Although most women feel heartbroken, guilty, shameful and have endless internal questions, we for some reason feel as though we must put on a brave face and keep it moving. Go back to work like nothing ever happened, coo over a friend’s new baby or attend a baby shower with a smile when we’re devastated and still in mourning or hide our tears whenever we feel a wash of emotion come over us. Because while losing a friend or a relative activates an immediate support network of sympathy and understanding, losing a baby brings a very lonely silence. With the rise of miscarriages today, it is not uncommon for someone to know at least one person who has gone through it, however that person has probably spared their friend, sibling, colleague, etc all the gory details and ugly truth as to what they actually experienced, leaving people who have never been through it to say things like, “Oh wow, sorry to hear that. It’s just so common now…so many women have them.” – marginalizing the situation as if you have just contracted a common flu or cold. If I had a dollar for every time I heard this response, I would be retired and rich living on a private island in the Grenadines. Others will elaborate and mention that they know people what have miscarried and went on to have healthy pregnancies, which I will admit, is much more comforting than the former response. There are some, thank God, who have been so kind and showed so much empathy, filling our home with flowers and our hearts with love. For those who have called, texted or come by – I am so very appreciative!  As the calls decrease, the flowers die and the visitors stop coming, shit starts to get real. It had become extremely difficult for me to see a pregnant woman or a woman with a young baby. Believe me, I have come undone at the seams more times than I want to admit in public. What was probably the worst part was going from sharing the excitement of pregnancy with a few of my friends who were also expecting, to then having to watch them continue through their pregnancy while I was battling these emotions. It FUCKING sucks. It’s like a constant reminder of where I should have been if I was still pregnant and as a friend, I am so happy for them but still so very sad for myself. Not an ideal situation and it’s been hard for some of them to have empathy and understand that.

Just like many  other women who have just gone through a miscarriage, I wanted to find a way to make my feelings of sadness and lost disappear as soon as possible. So my first thought was to get pregnant right away. Sounds absolutely nuts doesn’t it? Well, it would to me if someone else told me that. My advice to someone else would be to chill, rest, take some time to digest, etc but nope, I had my mind set on a baby and decided that I needed to get pregnant ASAP. There are thousands of online discussion boards where women are expressing they are frantically trying to find ways to conceive again quickly. They say that you become more fertile 60 days after miscarrying or having a baby, so many women quickly get back into baby making mode on a quest for what is called a “Rainbow Baby” to fill a void. I was not thinking rationally but after speaking to my partner and Naturopath, I have come to my senses and have decided to press pause and take a much needed break. And a vacation and time off work wouldn’t be a bad idea either. Getting pregnant doesn’t seem to be an issue for us, I just need carry my next pregnancy to term and the best way for me to do that is to wait for my pregnancy hormone level to go back to zero, allow my uterine wall to build back up and improve my Kidney Chi via weekly acupuncture sessions to improve my chances of a healthy, full term pregnancy the next time around.

As you can imagine, I have replayed my entire pregnancy over and over in my head. Searching for clues, trying to figure out what went wrong, what I did or what I could have done differently and the answer to that is – nothing! The body is highly sophisticated and intelligent, knows when there is going to be an abnormality or issue with the baby, which results in the pregnancy not progressing. I am learning to accept this and understand that nature’s interception in my pregnancy did more good than harm. More importantly, a miscarriage does not mean I won’t go on to have a happy, healthy pregnancy in the future. To help my recovery over the last week, I have been talking to a lot of women, especially those who have one or more children. Some I know personally and even women I just met. I think so many of us make the assumption that women who have a child probably had no issues with their pregnancy journey. When it turns out, so many I’ve spoken to have suffered multiple miscarriages secretly or had fertility issues that they hid because they were either embarrassed or felt that they didn’t have anyone who could relate to them. It seems as though that with time and a healthy pregnancy, these women are able to now talk about their experience with a tiny bit of detachment and I long for the day when I can do that too. In the meantime, I am finding solace in the small network I have built from being open and honest and if any of you reading this post is going through a miscarriage, do not suffer in silence. Once you start opening up you will discover a support system around you, you never imagined existed. It’s as if women don’t want to say anything until you say something first. Trust me, you will be very surprised. If you’ve made to the end of this beastly long post, thank you for taking the time to read this. As much as I hope this may be helpful for someone else, writing (or typing) these words have been extremely cathartic for me and has helped me in my recovery. xoxo

Posted on by Sasha in HEALTH & WELLNESS Leave a comment

Travel Smarter with the CIBC Air Canada AC Conversion VISA Prepaid Card

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CIBC Air Canada AC Conversion

While my travels outside North America have been far less than in previous years, I’ve had countless business travel south of the border for work projects this year. As you can probably imagine, I’ve had my fair share of nightmares on the road during business trips. Like having my credit card and/or debit card compromised while abroad, resulting in my financial institution having to shut them down for security reasons. Trust me, it is THE worst! And my struggles don’t end there unfortunately. Over the last year for some strange reason, my bank client card began having issues in most ATM machines outside the country. With my frequent travel to NYC for work projects, it had started to become quite an annoyance.

The last thing anyone wants to worry about while traveling is having issues accessing money. So, I’ve learned a few tricks and tips along the way helping turn me into a savvy traveler, but of course the learning never stops. I usually make sure to never leave the country without some cash in my destination’s currency but this starting to pose as an issue when the Canadian dollar continued to plummet. I mean, have you ever had leftovers of a foreign currency after a trip and tried to re-convert them to Canadian dollars? If not, DON’T!!!

cibc-air-canada-ac-conversion

Enter the new CIBC Air Canada AC Conversion VISA Card. I did some research on CIBC’s latest card offering a few weeks ago, desperate to discover anything that would help me in my future travels. I’ve dabbled with a prepaid credit card or two in the past, but this one is in it’s own league. Similar to other prepaid Visa card options, you load the card with funds and you can use it for transactions anywhere Visa is accepted. But one of the biggest things that sets the Conversion card apart from the rest is that you are able to load it with up to 10 currencies, and manage your funds through a dedicated app. Yes, that is not a typo – 10 different currencies, so naturally it is an appealing option when traveling or booking ahead and can also be used at restaurants, stores, for online purchases and even for withdrawing local currency from ATMs.

So what does this mean? 1) No more line-ups at banks and currency exchange centres, 2) No more fear that your bank card will not work in ATMs abroad (FINALLY) and 3) Allows you to avoid those crazy credit card fees, making this card one hell of a travel companion. And if that’s not enough, if you order your card before December 31st , you can receive 15% off select Air Canada flights.

CIBC Air Canada AC Conversion Card

I took the card out for its first test drive a couple weeks ago on my last trip to New York and was able to check my card balance, view current exchange rates, move funds between different currencies, reload more money to my card and view all of my NYC transactions right through the mobile app on my phone. All sounds great right? It did to me but that didn’t stop me from delving a bit deeper into things such as CIBC’s Air Canada’s Conversion card’s supported currencies, expiry policy, transaction limits and associated fees, so here’s the skinny:

Support Currencies:

  1. Canadian Dollars – CAD
  2. United States Dollars – USD
  3. Euros – EUR
  4. Great British Pounds (UK) – GBP
  5. Mexican Peso – MXN
  6. Hong Kong Dollars– HKD
  7. Australian Dollars – AUD
  8. Japanese Yen – JPY
  9. Turkish Lira – TRY
  10. Swiss Franc (Switzerland)– CHF

Expiry Policy:

Luckily, the funds on this card will never expire. However the card itself will expire on the last day of the month printed on the card. There’s no need to worry if the card expires with a balance on it though, all you need to do is call the number on the back of the card to get a replacement. *A replacement card will not be sent out automatically after it’s expired – it must be requested.

Transaction Limits:

Minimum load amount (single Transaction) $100 CAD equivalent
Maximum load amount (single Transaction) $3,000 CAD equivalent
Maximum balance $20,000 CAD equivalent
Daily (24-hour) maximum point of sale purchase limit $3,000 CAD equivalent
Daily (24-hour) maximum ATM withdrawal limit $2,000 CAD Equivalent

 Fees:

Are there upfront fees? No, it is free to activate your card and should you choose to ship it to your home via courier, you’re looking at about $15. While all ATM withdrawals are free within Canada – there will be fees charged by CIBC in other countries with a chance that non-CIBC ATM providers may charge additional fees. That being said, it’s in your best interest to stay away from ATM withdrawals abroad unless absolutely necessary.

CIBC Air Canada AC Conversion Photography by JessBaumung.com

Are you ready to start traveling smarter? Click here to learn more about the CIBC Air Canada AC Conversion Visa Prepaid Card.

Posted on by Sasha in LIFESTYLE, TRAVEL Leave a comment

Fuel For Your Busy Day – Genuine Health’s Vegan Greens+ O

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Genuine Health Vegan Greens+ O

It is almost impossible to get your recommended daily intake of greens and through the food we eat alone, so I will always be an advocate of nutrient rich supplements like Genuine Health’s greens+ formula. For over two decades, greens+ has been Canada’s go-to green food supplement and if you’ve used it before, that fact won’t be surprising at all to you. Over the last year, it has become a vital part of my routine, giving me the energy I need to power through my crazy days and avoid that mid-afternoon slump. The laundry list of benefits from this superfood formula is what gets people hooked and after seeing a difference in just after a week in my energy levels, mood, cognitive health, and performance in the gym, there was no turning back for me.

Genuine Health Vegan Greens+ OPhotography by Jess Baumung

One of the things I really admire about Genuine Health is that they are never satisfied at just creating great products. You know that old adage, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”? Well – this doesn’t apply to this brand and their products.  As a team, they are always looking for ways to make their products better, more accessible, and with more benefits. Genuine Health’s most lucrative category, greens+, has continued to expand offering new and improved variants more tailored to people’s specific needs. The newest product that has been introduced into the line is Vegan greens+ O, designed to help those who like me, have food allergies and ingredient sensitives which can sometimes make taking supplements challenging.

So how could Genuine Health possibly make it’s award winning greens+ any better? First, they have included only organic ingredients – hence the “O” in the name and is also 100% vegan. They have also somehow managed to remove the allergens from their unique herbal blend and replaced them with more effective and innovative ingredients like organic spirulina, broccoli sprouts, chia seeds and sunflower lecithin, so now everyone can enjoy improved health, energy and vitality.

Genuine Health Vegan greens+ O

Check out GenuineHealth.com to learn more about Vegan greens+ O, which now comes in Acai Mango, Vanilla and Unflavoured, where to buy details, in addition to the rest of their amazing product line.

Posted on by Sasha in FITNESS, HEALTH & WELLNESS Leave a comment

The Meghan Markle for Reitmans Collection You Need This Fall

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MMxReitmans Capsule Collection

I think a common goal for most women-on-the-go is to build a closet full of wearable pieces that can seamlessly take them from the “desk to dinner”. We actually wear only 20% of our wardrobe, 80% of the time, so it only makes sense to arm ourselves with classic items that we can shamelessly keep on heavy rotation all season long.

Megan Markle for Reitmans

Megan Markle for Reitmans

Megan Markle for Reitmans

Megan Markle for Reitmans

Meghan Markle is legitimately one of the kindest people I know, happens to be a lead characters on one of my favourite TV shows (Suits), and has such amazing personal style, the beauty has teamed up with Reitmans for the second season as a design collaborator on a capsule collection. And the results…quite amazing if I do say so myself! The collection features everything you need for the fall/winter season. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Megan Markle for Reitmans

Megan Markle for ReitmansPhotography by JessBaumung.com for Reitmans

Reflecting Meghan’s personal style, the 5 piece collection consists of cropped pencil pants, white boyfriend-style blouse, a ridiculously gorgeous cashmere blend poncho and what everyone is going to want – a leather pencil skirt that literally hugs every corner of your curves and a super versatile turtleneck bodysuit. And not only are the pieces good quality, the price point is affordable, making the collection attainable for so many.

Based on this look, I am anticipating that the Meghan Markle Fall Collection is legit going to fly off shelves. It will be available both online and in select stores across Canada as of November 3rd, but my friends at Reitmans are graciously giving you exclusive access to pre shop the line. Click here to learn more and to become a registered shopper for early access to the collection. Get updates and style inspiration for Meghan Markle for Reitmans by following the hashtag #MMxReitmans on Instagram and Twitter.

Posted on by Sasha in FASHION Leave a comment

Canada Goose Opens First Flagship Store in Toronto

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Canada Goose Flagship Opening

If you live someplace where you must endure freezing cold temps between the months of December and March, you have probably become very well acquainted with Canada Goose. I’ve collected various styles from the Canadian born Arctic luxury apparel brand over the years that has allowed me to survive some of the coldest winters in history and brisk spring weather without sacrificing style.

Canada Goose opens its doors in the city it calls home (CNW Group/Canada Goose)

Canada Goose Flagship Opening

Canada Goose Flagship Opening

Canada Goose Flagship Opening

Last night Canada Goose opened the doors to it’s first flagship store at Yorkdale Shopping Centre, Toronto’s premier retail destination, which is getting a ton of press lately for it’s highly anticipated luxury retail expansion. About 10x’s larger than it may have appeared on my Insta and Snapchat stories, the 4,500 sqft space features Canadian design elements that help to bring the brand’s story to life. Canada Goose Canadian roots are clearly on display in the store with bespoke design elements that connect the space to it’s Canadiana roots; like the ridiculously stunning, oversized single piece marble desk, which was commissioned all the way from B.C. Plus the handmade, down filled upholstered furniture from Montreal based company, Montauk Sofa. And there is no shortage of options to choose from inside – trust me! With well over 100 different styles in 40 colour ways, Toronto’s flagship will house the largest variety of product anywhere in the world.

Canada Goose opens its doors in the city it calls home (CNW Group/Canada Goose)

Canada Goose Flagship Opening

Canada Goose Flagship Opening

And if you’re going to drop upwards of $1000 on a winter jacket, you deserve a first class shopping experience, right? If you’re in the market for premium outerwear this season, you can expect nothing but first class service from the store’s brand ambassadors; who are also more than happy to hold your purchases while you continue to shop the mall and will give you store carry-out to car or ship-to-home service if requested.

Canada Goose Flagship Opening

Opening Ceremony for Canada GooseWearing Opening Ceremony for Canada Goose exclusive black Chilliwack bomber

Photos by Jess Baumung

And I’m sure you’re all wondering whether or not special collaborations will be available in store. Everyone has been chatting about the brand’s recent work with Opening Ceremony and star Blue Jay player José Bautista and lucky for us Torontonians, both are expected to be available here in addition to exclusive in-store only styles, prints and colours. Get a glimpse at vintage pieces from the Canada Goose six decade archive and purchase both classic collections and new pieces at the flagship, which is open to the public now!

Posted on by Sasha in EVENTS, FASHION Leave a comment

Tech Talk: What You Need to Know About Apple TV 4G

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Apple TV Fitness Apps

I did a TV detox for almost a year. Not intentionally, but with Netflix, Shomi, Crave and other online streaming options allowing us to watch our fave programs on our laptops, what was once one of the most used things in my household ended up sitting on a console collecting considerable amount of dust. Well, a lot has changed around here since getting Apple TV. Since it’s launch in 2010, it’s design had really not evolved and it was still using an interface dating back to the iPod days, quite possibly the reason why the device has consistently been eclipsed by it’s prodigy siblings, the iPad and iPhone. If you’re one of those people who prefer to wait for a later generation of a product so a brand has time to get all the kinks out, then now would be the time to try out the best version to date of Apple TV.

The latest version has powerful hardware, a significantly redesigned remote and an operating system worthy of an Apple product in 2016. Plus, there’s a legit app store now, which turns the device into a killer platform for entertainment, workouts and gaming right in the comfort of your own living room.

Apple TV Fitness Apps

The ultra sleek new Siri remote not only looks attractive when placed on your coffee table or TV console, but it’s also super functional. Say goodbye to endless button pushing kids. With the smooth touch surface, selecting and navigating is made so much easier with swipe capabilities. In addition to the menu and play/pause buttons, which the remote had before, there is now a home button and volume controls. Plus, since it’s wireless you don’t even have to point it directly at the Apple TV console. Worried about having to add yet another remote to your collection? We’ve trained the intelligent Siri remote to adapt to work as our television remote control.

Apple TV Fitness AppsHere’s what you will receive with you Apple TV purchase. *Note HDMI cable is sold separately

Once you’ve set up your Apple TV, which can be done simply on the corresponding app on your iPhone, the well laid out home screen makes it easy to search iTunes for movies, shows and music, and search/download from the app store etc. There aren’t any third-party apps installed by default, which is kind of a good thing in my personal opinion. This means, only the apps you love and use frequently are displayed on the home screen. The only downfall so far to be honest, is not having access to some of the new and amazing third-party apps that have been developed for 2016 that are not available in Canada *welp*. I frothed at the mouth thinking of all the potential binge watching I could do on HBO, Showtime and HULU and the workouts on Beach Body On Demand but nope – no dice for us Canadian residents. However, there are still a handful of apps making Apple TV a worthwhile purchase even if you reside south of the border…and let’s start with some that will get/keep you in shape:

Apple TV fitness apps

Fitness Focused Apps

Think you have no time to get to the gym after work? Can’t get out of bed extra early to make it to that yoga class? Or better yet, need some inspiration for some active mobility stretches before you run? I’ve combed the app store and online to find fitness apps that ticked all the boxes; high quality videos of varying lengths and forms of exercise, affordable prices, an app perhaps with an iOS version that sends me push notifications to nudge me when I haven’t worked out. Even a corresponding Apple Watch app component that will tap into the watch’s sensors to track my heart rate and cals burned. This may be too much of an ask, but I remained hopeful. After spending some considerable time trolling and testing, I’ve realized there is a HUGE potential for health and fitness apps on this platform and has even got me thinking of someday creating my own third-party app. With the updated version of Apple TV, tvOS has made it much easier for third-party apps to be created, so I suspect we will see a lot more comprehensive fitness apps popping up in the near future. Although there are some great options out there, I still think the fitness focused apps haven’t reached their full potential yet. Here’s a few of the contenders that were able to meet some of my tough criteria…

Zova:

Apple TV Fitness AppsPhotography by JessBaumung.com

One of the first tvOS fitness apps created, Zova also comes highly recommended by the peeps at Apple. It offers a ton of free video content, which is awesome, and is even equipped with Apple Watch integration so you’re able to see your heart rate on the TV screen while you workout. However, you have to pay $10+ a month to unlock the premium version. Still cheap in comparison to most others though, but I would have liked to see at least one option in the app store that was available free to users. Furthermore, majority of the videos are much shorter than I would have liked to see – 15 mins or less and no instruction. There’s just a model demonstrating each move sans voiceover. On the plus side, Zova is great for those who want to be led through a quick ab workout, short flow sequence to start the day or pre run stretch routine.

Daily Burn:

Apple TV Fitness Apps

Daily Burn has been featured in Vanity Fair, the New York Times, Shape, Good Morning America and the Today Show because of the success of it’s subscribers and now I know why. With over 500 workouts in 20+ amazing programs from strength training, HIIT, weight training, yoga, dance and more – there is something for everyone. Plus, there is a new 30 minute Daily Burn 365 workout every single day at 9am EST that replays on demand for 24 hours, specifically designed for beginners. When you download the app on Apple TV, your eligible for a 30 day free trial – something that most apps should allow you to do so you can ensure you are getting what you’re promised prior to purchasing. Once your free month is up, the premium membership will run you $36.99/mth. Workouts average anywhere between 30-40 minutes making them great on their own but also works well when you add in a run or other cardio workout but the app does not sync with the Apple Watch to monitor calories burned and heart rate.

Grokker:

Apple TV fitness apps

This yoga focused app also provides users with nutritional plans and cooking videos for those who are looking for some food inspo. Grokker’s program ranges from one week to six weeks in length and the series are designed to save you time with over 70 goal oriented series to choose from. My suggestions, “Get Tight in 28“, “x5 Intensity“, “Daily Muscle Relief” and the “21 Day Relax Mindfulness Meditation“. Love that you can schedule workouts in the in-app calendar as a reminder of which series you should be doing next. Users can also easily track progress such as total minutes of exercise and calories burned to stay motivated. If you have an Apple Watch, you will be able to track your heart rate and active energy during both fitness and yoga workouts while also contributing to your Activity Rings. Free to download and use, but just like the rest of the more sophisticated fitness apps out there, you have to pay for the good stuff. A premium subscription enables you to download an unlimited number of premium videos per month and will cost you $14.99 or $119.99 monthly or annually respectively.

Cody:

Apple TV Fitness Apps

Cody is the priciest out of the bunch because you actually pay per plan, not by month – so if you’re looking for an affordable fitness app, this isn’t it! The cost depends mainly on which plan you pick but on average will cost you somewhere between $40-50 and there is no free trial option. Some may argue that it is in fact good value for money because the videos are super high quality plus Cody offers offline downloads so you can do your workouts on your iOS device while traveling. If you’re the type that likes a variety and prefers to switch things up each day, you may not love that the app forces you to stick within a program, however on the plus side, this is the best way to achieve results.

Honourable Mentions

I would be straight up lying if I told you this was my only use of my Apple TV at home. Let’s be honest here, there are a plethora of entertainment, news, music, food and television streaming apps to make you forget all about cable television. On heavy rotation at our place right now – Netflix, TED Talks, Shomi, CityTV, People Entertainment Weekly Network, The Scene, Kitchen Stories, Made to Measure (for all my fave fashion documentaries and movies), and RedBull TV.

Apple TV is available at Apple stores, Best Buy locations and online at Apple.com starting at $199.

Posted on by Sasha in FITNESS, LIFESTYLE, TECH Leave a comment

Activia Women #InSync Series and Commercial

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activia-chatelaine_100eos5d_2167Shot by Genevieve Charbonneau for Chatelaine Magazine 

This year has been very emotional for me. The word “emotional” usually has a negative connotation to it, but in this particular instance, its all positive. A few months ago I was approached by Danone to be apart of an amazing campaign with Activia Yogurt. The very first thing that stood out about this potential partnership was that it did not appear to be a blatant product push. In fact, when I read the campaign overview I was surprised to see that the project was not product focused at all, but rather a chance for 9 Canadian women to be able to tell the country their story on how they live a balanced life.

Could this really be possible? Can a company actually want to focus on my personal story and journey, rather than promoting their existing products or a recent product launch? Well…turns out, yes they most certainly did and the timing couldn’t have been any more perfect. After the struggles I’ve had to endure, there has been many times where I wanted to give up and didn’t understand why I kept getting faced with so much adversity. However, 2016 has been my best year yet and I have finally started to reap the rewards of all the hard work I put into getting healthy and building a personal brand.

Activia Women InSync Series

I’ve fought my illness for a very long time, only becoming more successful with managing it’s ugly symptoms in recent years by learning to live in sync. Meaning, putting a system in place and developing a new lifestyle for myself that contained the right amount of exercise, activity, diet and meditation. Furthermore, also learning to create boundaries between my work and personal life. So goodbye to working until midnight and never having a day off.  Creating a more harmonious balance in my life not only helped facilitate my recovery, but it also allowed me to spend more time with my family, friends and to nurture the first serious relationship I had been involved in for what seemed like ages. Don’t get me wrong, this was no easy feat. This turn of events began almost five years ago and at this time, my full time job was to just get healthy. My weekdays were filled with medical appointments, meetings with my dietician, naturopath, acupuncturist, reiki specialist, chiropractor and RMT, oh and let me not forget my psychologist and the numerous Cognitive Behavioural Therapy classes I had to attend to help me deal mentally with everything going on. My illness isolated me and caused me to become anti-social, ultimately was the end of my engagement (which truth be told was a relationship that was flawed and toxic from the start) not to mention the tangible losses such as; my loss of income from not being able to work, my vehicle, and having to move back in with my parents as an adult. Trust me, it was a lot of loss all at once and looking back now, it’s not at all surprising why I was also suffering from depression and anxiety.

People always ask me how I found the strength to turn things around. To be honest, a lot from that time was a blur and I cannot really remember every single detail. I am athlete and competitive by nature so I think I just wasn’t going to go out without a fight. I knew truly deep down that up until that point, I had not done everything I could to rehabilitate myself, besides drowning my body in pharmaceutical meds prescribed by specialists and laying in bed watching my life pass me by – which was clearly not working. I mean, I didn’t think things could possibly get any worse, so I decided to attempt the alternative route with eastern medicine. This change of direction, in addition to my ridiculously supportive family, eliminating stress, changing my diet and consistent exercise was critical in getting me to where I am today.

As part of this multi-faceted campaign with Activia, I shot an individual commercial going a bit deeper into my personal story, which was shot earlier this summer in Montreal. When you live something day to day, it’s difficult to see how far you’ve come but being a part of this project has allowed me to reflect on everything that has happened and see my exponential growth. I cried uncontrollably the first three times I watched this video.  Almost not recognizing the person in it because just five years ago I was a young women on bed rest suffering from a debilitating illness not knowing what the future holds. My life has changed dramatically and through balance I’ve created, I feel strong, I am happy, I am creative, I feel limitless and I am finally in sync.

activia-chatelaine_100eos5d_2167

There’s so much more to come in this campaign and I can barely contain my excitement, so stay tuned. In the meantime, click here to learn more about the other 8 women and their stories, search the hashtag #InSync on social media or follow Activia Canada on Instagram and Youtube.

Posted on by Sasha in FITNESS, HEALTH & WELLNESS, LIFESTYLE Leave a comment

8 Carry-On Essentials for Light Air Travel

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#MyFaceMyStoryShot on my iPhone6S

For years I’ve always envied people who are able to travel with only carry-on luggage. And to be honest, I was not only envious, but also confused. Very confused. How can women travel for more than one night with a 21″ rolling case? I mean, how does she manage to squeeze in all the unnecessary outfits that she will never wear during her trip? Doesn’t she want to bring her ionic blow dryer? Isn’t it tough to pack multiple shoes, especially with high heels? And what about ALL her beauty and skincare products? *gasp*  During my travels on numerous press trips, I have learned a few tricks that has allowed me to join the club of savvy travellers who are not chained to the bag carrousel at their destination. This learning curve has allowed me to fit all the necessities into just one carry-on bag, although I do also bring along a backpack or large tote along as my handbag to cram in anything else that may not fit in my rolling luggage. So since “sharing is caring” here’s some of carry-on MUST HAVES that makes me feel like I have the basics covered:

  1. Rimowa Limbo Multiwheel 22″: Traveling with carry-on can only be done if you have the right bag. I’ve long been a fan of Rimowa luggage for it’s aesthetic, functionality, durable materials, and superior quality. No matter the size or type of bag, Rimowa always offers tons of storage components it’s internal set, taking away some of the anxiety of traveling with one piece of luggage. The multiwheel feature allows the bag to glide seamless in tandem by your side or pulled from behind.
  2. Dermalogica Skincare: On shorter trips, I have learned to edit down my skincare to just a few products. This is a huge feat seeing as though I use anywhere between 15-20 products a day on my face at home. Traveling can cause stress, skin accumulates dirt and debris and we all know that cabin air during flights wreak havoc on skin so it’s important to travel with some options to keep your skin clean, clear and hydrated. Clear skin all lies in how you cleanse. Before washing my skin, I use cleansing wipes (not pictured above) and Dermalogica’s Precleanse. The latter’s nourishing olive, apricot, and kukui nut oils removes make-up, sunscreens and oil-based debris. Also, I love multi-duty products like Dermalogica’s Multivitamin Thermafoliant. This powerful, self-heating skin polisher has chemical and physical exfoliants to not only refine your skin’s texture but also promotes skin firmness and enhance the penetration of vitamins into the skin. The best part, it’s formulated without artificial fragrances and colours. $55 CDN for Precleanse $77 CDN for Multivitamin Therafoliant
  3. The Esteé Edit “Beam Team”: Ummm this product is absolutely brilliant if you dropping majority of your skincare products like third period French class to be able to travel checked-in luggage free. Beam Team is a double duty daily moisturizing lotion. The tube contains a lightweight illuminating and hydrating lotion and wait for it, if you flip the cap top you will find a flattering for all skin shades, highlighting balm. $42 CDN
  4. Jo Malone “Wild Bluebell” Cologne: Who doesn’t love scents by Jo Malone? The brand has a wide variety of colognes ranging from; citrus, floral, fruity, spicy, and woody that can satisfy just about any scent palette. One of my go-to’s when traveling is Wild Bluebell in the 1 floz (30ml) bottle. The size couldn’t be more perfect for travel, plus the light, fruity scent won’t overbear your in-flight neighbours. $65
  5. Hermés Belt: Why travel with multiple belts when you can have just one chic, reversible option. I love my double sided Hermés belt kid. I’ve had it for years. I have misplaced it three times and literally felt my heart stop beating each time I did. The epsom calfskin leather strap in black (with tan on the reversible side) with gold plated metal buckle, literally goes with everything. I can’t say it’s cheap but hey, it’s essentially two belts for the price of one, so it’s all about perspective right? $1,405 CDN
  6. Apple 11″ MacBook Laptop: Size matters. When I am not traveling I love have access to a desktop monitor or larger laptop screen when I’m traveling, the 11″ MacBook has become my trusty companion for both work and play (I mean, I still have to stay up to date with my fave shows when I am on the road). It’s much thinner, lighter, faster, and sleeker than it’s predecessors and also have improved graphic performance. If that’s not enough, up to 10 hours of battery life.
  7. The Barest Lip Colour by The Esteé Edit: You don’t need to travel with an army of lipsticks and lip pencils, trust me. When I have limited luggage space, I stick to just one lippy that I can easily rock from day to night. Loving this neutral shade by The Esteeé Edit which is available at Sephora.ca. $26 CDN
  8. Shoes – a flat and a heel option: I don’t care whether it’s business or pleasure, I think every woman should travel with both a heel and a flat. I love these neutral shoes from Ann Taylor (left) and Loft (right) which are sadly from their summer collections and no longer available.

Interesting in learning more of my skincare secrets? Stay tuned as I will be sharing my skin story with Dermalogica Canada over the next few weeks. Follow along by using the hashtag #MyFaceMyStory on your favourite social channels.

Posted on by Sasha in BEAUTY, FASHION, TECH, TRAVEL Leave a comment
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