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Mommy + Me Grey County Adventure

I’ve done my fair share of road trips with Maxwell since she was a newborn and as difficult as it may be hitting the road with a teeny tiny traveller, we have created memories that will last a lifetime. That being said, road trips with a toddler are NO JOKE!  I’ve learned that a) it’s best to not schedule the days and to go with the flow because at this age, everything is unpredictable – sleep, mood swings…you name it and b) if you must go, don’t do it alone! My girlfriend Solmaz (and one of my favourite travel bloggers/writers behind TheCuriousCreature.com) invited Max and I to tag along with her and adorable son Luka to explore Grey County and I couldn’t say no to discovering one of the most picturesque Ontario destinations. So armed with backpacks crammed with snacks, juice boxes and an iPad downloaded with a seasons worth of Paw Patrol, we were off.

As two marginally intelligent women and traveling mamas, we were smart enough to add two stops on route to Grey. One to change diapers and let the kids stretch their legs then a little over the half way mark to our final destination, we took some time to explore Scenic Caves Nature Adventures. It was actually our second time visiting this spot. The first was last winter where Maxie and I went snowshoeing  along the grounds. Experiencing this tourist attraction in the summer months may be my fave because there are a ton more things to explore on the grounds for every age.  Solmaz and I were blown away to be honest at how many child-friendly activities were offered there. There’s tons of nature hikes on site, but there is also a super cool Gemstone Mining activity where kids can go panning for semi precious jewels to take home with them, mini-put, the infamous 420 ft long suspension bridge, a massive playground, bird feeding and Rocky the Train. Luka and Maxwell could have rode on that thing for hours. In hindsight, this could have easily been a full day stop, so if you plan to head up there, make sure you give yourself enough time to explore and also make sure to wear closed toes shoes (THEY ARE MANDATORY!).

Photo by Solmaz of @TheCuriousCreature

If you’re traveling sans toddlers you can also enjoy other dope activities like zip-lining down Ontario’s largest twin zipline, treetopping adventures and discovering the unique caves and caverns that were formed by ancient glacial ice. I’ve yet to try these things but if there is ever a chance I am back in the area and have someone to watch Mawell, the zip lining will be the first thing I do. There is food is available on-site with  a seasonal BBQ during this time of the year. We ordered yummy chicken burgers and the kids got chicken tenders and fries. There’s also a snack bar that is opened year round and tons of souvenirs available for purchase. Personally, I found the prices are reasonable based on what you get. General admission will run you $26.50 for adults and $24.25 for youth (under 18) + HST. Group rates are also available and this gives you access to the playgrounds, caves, all the nature trails for hiking, the suspension bridge, train and tractor rides. The mining, mini gold and all other activities cost extra. Prices can be found on their website.

WHERE TO STAY

We ended up staying in Georgian Bay, which was a first for me, at the beautiful and quaint Cobble Beach. Ask anyone who has stayed there what they think about it, they will not stop talking your ear off –  it’s that amazing. If you’re looking for a road trip getaway to somewhere a bit off the beaten path, you’re going to want to book this spot IMMEDIATELY. The property sits on an expansive 574 acres and is located only 10 minutes from Owen Sound, in the Township of Georgian Bluffs. Surrounded by the most perfectly clear lake water and views, every where you turn looks like a painting.

Photo by Solmaz of @TheCuriousCreature

Photo by Solmaz of @TheCuriousCreature

The property is known for it’s epic, world-class golf course and from what I hear people travel from far to play 18 holes here. The Inn at Cobble Beach also has a spa, plunge pool, 2 immaculate tennis courts, almost 20km’s of trails, 10 guest suites in the main building and 5 newly built, stunning lakeside cottages. You guys, the accommodations are TO DIE FOR. Bright, airy and minimal. At first we were going to just get separate guest suites but decided last minute it would be a good call to shack up in a cottage for our two night stay. It worked out perfectly because we were able to enjoy some much needed wine-time at night in our living room once Luka and Maxwell went to bed. We each had our own spacious bedrooms and bathrooms (there are two of each in every cottage) a small kitchen set-up with all the necessities we needed to keep items refrigerated or up during our stay.

Cobble Beach is year round resort with plenty of things to do each season, but I will say this, summer and fall really are great times for those heading up with families. The beach club has a park for kids, canoes and kayaks for those who want to be in the water. The trails are a perfect spot for long walks or runs to take in the fresh country air. It really is a dream. We brought strollers for the kids but turned out we didn’t even need to. You can rent this jogger caboost, which can actually connect to a bike, bicycles, and even helmets from the Own Sound Tourism Centre. These two loved being shuttled from the cottage to the club house for meals in it (not the golf cart LOL) and it’s super cute.

So the Inn at Cobble Beach is really small, however they do offer onsite dining in the club house at Sweetwater Restaurant. They offer a daily buffet brekkie each morning that we absolutely loved. Baked goods, cereals, yogurt with the fixings to make your own bowl situation, with of course traditional breakfast chow we all know and love like eggs, bacon, with mini french toast and mini pancakes that were the perfect size for the kids to handle and feed themselves. We did our dinners at the hotel as well, just made sense, and was easy seeing as though the club house was literally 30 feet from our cottage. If you’re there during the weekday, don’t miss Pizza Night on Wednesdays. It’s so bomb. It ends promptly at 6pm though so make sure to get in early. We lost our minds over the wood oven pizzas that the mamas paired with a yummy Pinot Grigio and the kiddos the region’s finest apple juice LOL! It and was not to be outdone by our final dinner of the Atlantic Salmon served on a bed of coconut rice with broccolini, curried mango and acidulated raisins. That plate was packed with the most insanely delicious flavours. I should mention that the menu is seasonal so this salmon dish has been updated and altered slightly on their current Fall/Winter menu but still sounds just as good.

WHAT TO SEE

There are loads of activities within a short driving distance that will easily keep you and the family entertained and seriously, at a price point that will not break the bank. Here’s some stops that I would highly recommend should be on your “MUST-SEE” list if you make the trek to Grey County/Owen Sound.

Harrison Park

Ummmm hello, this place under promised and seriously over delivered. Harrison Park is a dream and made of about 40 hectares of of streams, trails, gardens, playgrounds, forest and green space. Similar to Scenic Caves, this could easily be a full day experience for anyone that loves the outdoors or has kids. On the grounds you’ll also find a full serviced campsite, dining options, outdoor musical instruments, a swimming pool, basketball courts, a bird sanctuary, boat rentals, mini-put and more.

Just a short walk away from the park’s core, is also Weaver’s Creek Falls, a small waterfall that we were able to trek to in only a few minutes with the kiddos. It’s amazing that so much nature and beauty was so accessible. But you know what, besides the playgrounds (which was almost impossible to peel the kids off of) we really enjoyed our paddle boat experience on the Sydenham River. Luka looked like he had a blast and as for Max, she gave me a couple heart attacks  on our little boat cruise, wanting to jump off  to go pet the geese and then spent the rest of the time barking instructions to me as to which way she wanted to go.

Inglis Falls

Now that I think about it, waterfalls seemed like a theme on this trip. We snuck in a quick visit to Inglis Falls on the day we were departing back to Toronto and we were pleasantly surprised how easy it was to catch views of this beautiful site. Located within the 200 hectares that make up the Inglis Falls Conservation Area, the 18 meter high cascade brings tons of visitors each year.

Photo by Solmaz of @TheCuriousCreature

Also in the conservation area, you will find almost 8km’s of nature trails in varying difficulties, historical grist mill, geological potholes, picnic facilities and access to Bruce Trail. Entrance into the grounds costs a mere $6 per vehicle, heads up they only take cash, and once you park, you are only steps away from the falls. Impressive because that pretty much makes it stroller and wheelchair accessible. There are a handful of steps, maybe no more than 6 or so, that will bring you to the lookout point where the kids watched the water, however the falls can be seen without going down them.

Grey Roots Museum 

So this turned out to be the perfect rainy day activity. The site was actually a lot larger than we anticipated housing both Grey Roots Museum and Moreston Heritage Village on the grounds. We popped in to let the kids take in the summer exhibit “Under the Canopy: Animals of the Rainforest”. They were both obsessed with the Owl that they got to watch eat it’s dinner of mice and pet snakes, while I almost passed out in fear. I love that this place has tailored activities for toddlers. During the month of October, they will start “Toddlers Take The Museum” a morning series of stories, songs and crafts lead by a Grey County Early Years Literacy Facilitator for toddlers and pre-school ages kids and its FREE!!!!.

Other Notable Mentions: The Flying Spatula Diner

Well, there is no trip up north complete without a heritage diner experience. We were told we MUST not miss a chance to hit up The Flying Spatula before heading back to Toronto so we did exactly that. We were so determined to eat lunch there even though it was in the middle of nap time, Solmaz went in and pre-ordered our food and got everything set up allowing me to stay in the car while Max got some much needed sleep after our Inglis Falls excursion. What makes this spot so special? Chef Greg Galoksa, who has appeared on foodie reality show Chopped Canada, the original decor and of course the joint’s main server Nina. Seriously, between the comfort food and Nina, I would make the drive up there just to eat and then go back home. I splurged a bit and decided to go all in with the fish tacos and fries, then finished it off by splitting a slice of coconut cream pie with Solmaz. It was so damn good, I ordered an entire pie to go…but wait for it, then accidentally left it behind in the midst of packing up all our stuff. I realized this when we were about 8km’s away and still turned around to drive back to get it. IT WAS THAT GOOD. And you know what, Miss Nina was waiting by the door for me withe pie and homemade cream all packed up. That’s what I call good people.

Photo by Solmaz of @TheCuriousCreature

I’m not sure if this has convinced you to visit Grey County but I will tell you know,  writing it has definitely convinced me to go back. I would love to rediscover this area in the fall with the beautiful colours of the changing leaves. A special thank you to the Visit Grey team for hosting us last month and helping us put together such an epic itinerary. We were wiped by the time we got back to Toronto and it took me two days to recover but Luka and Maxwell had the time of their lives, which is what it’s all about.

 

Test Driving the ASICS Metaride Running Shoe

It’s been almost six months of running in the Metaride shoe, ASICS newest innovation in running footwear and it’s become one of the three shoes that are in my shoe rotation each week for my runs. I get loads of questions about the Metaride when I post in them on Instagram or when other runners see me in them during my runs, so I’m going to share a few facts about the shoe here. Keep in mind though, no matter how well I explain the shoe’s technology or describe how it feels to run in them, the Metaride is just something you have to experience for yourself firsthand.

ASICS Metaride Running Shoe

Asics Metaride Running Shoe

ASICS Metaride Running Shoe

Every runner, whether you’re a jogger, age group competitor or elite runner, the goal is to always run faster and more efficient and ASICS made a strong claim about this shoe helping runners do exactly that. How? The new innovation they call Guidesole technology. The design teamed figured if they found a way to stabilize the ankle at a certain angle with the shoe’s design, it would be able to reduce energy usage and that would allow for more efficient running. The result, a shoe that has given me, and countless other runners, a completely new running experience, where it feel as if my legs are legit rolling automatically with little to no effort.

ASICS Metaride Running Shoe

How It Works

The Metaride shoe works, and works well, because it optimizes all three phases of the gait cycle when you run: footstrike, toe-off and the flight phase…this is when your foot is off the ground. Here’s the trifecta that makes this shoe so unique and a dream to run in:

  1. The improved cushioning helps to reduce muscle fatigue when the foot hits the ground.
  2. The stiff foot and unique curved sole, increases running efficiency by reducing the movement of the ankle joint because guess what? Too much ankle mobility at higher speeds actually wastes energy.
  3. The shoes center of mass is closer to the heel, making it super easy to swing the foot forward

My thoughts when I first saw the shoe wasn’t so positive. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the design and it was slightly bulky, so naturally I thought the shoe was going to be heavy. However I did like the circular upper knit of the shoe. It’s super breathable and helps the shoe fit true to size. On the downside, is the shoe’s weight. It’s heavier than what I am accustomed to wearing and comes in around 10.4oz, significantly heavier than the other two shoes I currently run in, but the additional size and weight is worth the feeling of a more efficient stride.

Photos by David Pike

The MetaRide basically forces you to land mid-foot and then has an extreme toe spring. The landing feels really springy and then launches you forward in your stride. There is a bounding sensation almost when you first put them on, but that settles down as you get into your mileage. After 5-6 km’s on my first run in them, I totally forgot about the sensation of feeling like my feet were in a rocking chair.

Is the Metaride shoe perfect? Nope…but will I continue to run in them throughout the fall/winter season? Absolutely. My only wish is that they develop a lighter version of the shoe or a racing version, as this design is made specifically to be a trainer. The Metaride is available both in store and online for $300.

Why The New Hyundai Palisade is the Perfect SUV for the Modern Family

As a modern mom on the go, I rely on the car I drive to take me from meetings to play dates and everything in between. I recently test-drove the new 2020 Hyundai Palisade and after a week getting acquainted with the vehicle, I have to words to describe it: Refined Luxury.

 

Today, families looking to purchase a new vehicle are looking for more. More seats. More room. More power. More comfort. More safety. More technology. Even more cup holders. The new Palisade meets those needs and is packed with a healthy suite of driver assistance tech and bold design to make it a clear front-runner in its category and an attractive option for families on the go.

2020 Hyundai Palisade

IMPRESSIVE INTERIOR/EXTERIOR

As soon as I opened the door for the first time, my eyes were immediately drawn to the nappa leather seats in every row with beautiful quilted detailing that even extends onwards to inside on the door panels. As a mom to a toddler, there was a brief moment of panic thinking how it was going to hold up against mess and spills. While surprisingly wiped clean easily, the crumbs on the ground from Goldfish snacks were inevitable. Dual sunroofs let tons of light into the cabin, which is great on a summer day, but not always ideal when there’s a child napping in the back. A rear sunroof that closes and second row window shades, turned out to be the perfect combination for nap-time on the road.

2020 Hyundai Palisade SUV

2020 Hyundai Palisade

2020 Hyundai Palisade

If you’re in the market for a three-row SUV, comfort and cargo space will no doubt be high on of your priority list. The Palisade can seat up to eight with the bench seat option as the middle row. Our luxury loaner accommodated seven due to the upgraded second row captain seats. And here’s the thing: regardless of which row you’re sitting in, there’s always enough legroom. So, if any parent needs to ride with their kid in the back, rest assured there’s enough space for you back there.  In most vehicles this size, the third row is a place nobody wants to be in since it’s, often difficult to access. However, the Palisade makes this back row easily accessible by just the touch of a button, “The idea was to make the way-back seats easy enough to get in and out of that a kid could do it by themselves”, explained the Hyundai employee who gave me a guided walk-thru of the vehicle. The second row seats have two big, kid-friendly buttons that are even within reach for mini passengers. Tap one and the seat swiftly leans and slides forward.

Driving with kids, whether it’s to the mall or to the cottage, means you’re always going to need a ton of room for all the necessary things that have to come with you. For my partner Réjean and I, it means having enough room for our second stroller (which we always keep in the trunk) and for the equipment and props we use for work. There is 18 cubic feet of space behind the third row, which is actually quite generous. There is ample room for a stroller and a handful of bags after a grocery run. There’s even a secret sub trunk where you can stash smaller items or the cargo cover if you’re not using it. However, with the third row down, that’s where the magic happens: with almost 46 cubic feet of space, there’s no longer any need to doubt whether or not you’ll have sufficient space after your Costco or Ikea haul. Win.

2020 Hyundai Palisade SUV

The exterior holds its’ own, too, and is what makes people’s heads first turn when they see the Palisade. Its sleek lines, bold design and its massive, patterned front grille looks quite sophisticated and very hard to miss on the road.

TONS OF TECH

The technology in the Palisade was enough to turn my jaded self into a real Hyundai believer. The top-level trim has a dreamy digital dashboard and infotainment center. The 10.25-inch touch screen display is where you’ll find everything from navigation to media and everything in between. It also hosts the innovative and thoughtful features that make parents’ lives on the road with kiddos easy and wait for it…even enjoyable.

2020 Hyundai Palisade SUV

Safety trumps everything now that I am carrying precious cargo. Driving in the hectic city with a kid screaming in the back can sometimes be overwhelming. Having the Palisade’s tech-forward safety features definitely made driving in rush hour less chaotic. I especially loved the blind view monitor that streams a live visual of your blind spot directly on the dash cluster whenever you attempt a lane change. There’s a slew of other features within the Hyundai SmartSense package that help keep your family safe and your mind at ease like the Rear Occupant Alert, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection, Safe Exit Assist, Driver Attention Warning, Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keeping Assist, and even Multi-Terrain Control modes to help you expertly navigate the terrain ahead whether it be snow, sand or even mud.

Here are some of the things I couldn’t stop talking about:

Driver Talk: Have you ever driven a large vehicle and felt like you had to scream for the passengers in the back to hear you? Driver Talk is an intercom that allows you to project your voice to the passengers in the very back without having to yell. It’s a brilliant little feature that I’m sure was developed by a parent. Trust me, everyone in the car will appreciate the more civilized communication.

Quiet Mode: Driving with kids that often nap in transit means it can sometimes compromise the entertainment of the driver and front passenger. I loved the fact that this feature allowed me to still enjoy my music, while my kid dozed off to sleep in the back with the muted rear speakers.

Outlets For Everyone: Never in my life have I seen as much power charging capability for devices in one car. As a working mom on the go, this was a welcomed luxury. The center console had a charging pad compatible with the latest iPhone, so I could keep my phone charged, even if I forgot the cable at home (which happens more often than not). Plus, the three USB power outlets upfront and two in the second and third rows means that whenever my team was rolling with me, every laptop, iPad and cell phone along for the journey would stay charged (and there was never any fighting over outlets).

FINAL THOUGHTS

In short, the 2020 Hyundai Palisade has the looks and premium feel to rank high in its segment. It made a great first impression with me as a mainstream model with luxury aspirations, especially with the interior where it successfully manages to mimic an actual premium model. Hyundai really nailed it with this SUV. They have found a way for luxury to be affordable and its design, room and vast technology offering make this the perfect vehicle for the growing modern family.

5 Reasons to Staycation With Kids at the Ritz Carlton Toronto

This city has no shortage of luxury hotels, but not all of them know how to do luxury for guests traveling with kids. Our schedule hasn’t really allowed us to plan our usual big summer vacay, but I have been determined to find little pockets of time this season for short trips and staycations. Someone tipped me off to a link for weekend getaway deals with the Marriott group of hotels and for the first time ever, decided to stay at Toronto’s Ritz Carlton Hotel. I shared some details during our two night stay at the property, but I figured with the questions still pouring in about our experience, I would share a few things that may have you interested in your own vacation within the city at the Ritz with the family.

Location Location Location

Sure, trips up north for the weekend sounds fab but you know what does not sound fab…the commute and traffic. When you only have a two day weekend to spare, time is of the essence. It took us 25 minutes to get to the hotel on a Friday afternoon. If I had to give the Ritz Carlton a walk score, it would be a 5 out of 5. It’s centrally located and walking distance to restaurants, theatres, Scotia Bank Arena, Rogers Centre, and tourist destinations – CN Tower, Centre Island, Ripley’s Aquarium and more.

The patio vibes for brunch is amazing. The waitstaff also has kiddie kits around to keep little guests occupied during meal times with colour pads and books

The Suite (Sweet) Life

Whether you are traveling with one rambunctious toddler, like me, or checking in with a family of five, the Ritz has room and suite accommodations to make any size family comfortable. We stayed in one of the one bedroom corner suites on the 14th floor that had city views, floor to ceiling windows, a pull out couch in a separate living room, powder room and oversized spa bathroom.

Ritz Carlton Toronto - Sasha Exeter

OMGGGGG they brought Max a robe so we could match

Cribs are also available upon request. There was tons of space for Maxwell to run around and have a section of the 650 sqft room to herself to play and hangout. Truthfully though, we normally book larger accommodations, but the Simcoe or Wellington suites were both unavailable during the dates for our stay. These are amazing options if you’re looking for a suite over 1,000 sqft.

Family Fun Packages

One of the biggest tasks while vacationing or staycationing is finding fun activities for the whole family to enjoy. The Family Fun packages are what sets this hotel property apart from the rest when it comes to family friendly experiences. Now that I think about it, it is totally more of an experience for them than it is for the adults and includes the Ritz Kids check-in and welcome amenities, an in-suite movie screening during each night’s stay with choice of snack, access to the exclusive Club Lounge with complimentary EVERYTHING (more on this later) and your choice of family activity to enjoy during your stay

Ritz Carlton Toronto - Sasha Exeter

  • Ritz-Carlton Camp – features in-room tent set-up and special camp themed amenities (e.g. flashlights/glow sticks, stuffed animals, children’s bedtime/ghost story books etc.).
  • Fin’tastic Family Adventure – includes 4 Anytime tickets to Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
  • Explore Canadian Art– includes 4 tickets (2 adults and 2 children) to the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO)
  • Dig into Canadian History – includes 4 tickets (2 adults and 2 children) to the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)
  • Culinary Creators Experience – Virtual Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream Sundae interactive activity for 2 children in the kitchen with a Ritz-Carlton, Toronto Chef

Maxwell lost her mind when she saw the circus themed tent set up in our room, which came within the hour of us checking in. The staff and concierge wasted no time and go above and beyond here to make sure kids feel like VIP’s during their stay. Her latest obsession right now is the ocean and the world of animals that live in it, so we also scored passes to Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, which you can get as part of the ‘Fin’tastic Family Adventure option. The aquarium was the perfect Saturday morning activity. It’s a short walk from the hotel, there’s tons to see and do inside and so many food options.

*Extra benefits that come along with the Family Fun package – you can upgrade to one of the corner suites for an additional $100 and complimentary wifi.

The Exclusive Club Lounge

Get ready to have your minds blown people. Without a doubt, the club level is what really elevates an experience at the Ritz Carlton and the other properties that fall under the Marriott umbrella. The newly renovated oasis located on the top floor offers guests comfort and intimacy in a sleek lounge overlooking the CN Tower and Lake Ontario. Access to Club Level comes at an extra charge which can be applied either online during booking or at concierge when you check in and seriously is worth every single penny. Inside you’ll find well appointed furniture and a continuous culinary offering all day long – breakfast, light snacks, appetizers, alcoholic beverages, sweets and more. The cost for Club Level access is around the same price as you would pay for a hotel breakfast for two people so naturally it makes sense.

Ritz Carlton Toronto + Sasha Exeter

Having Club Lounge access means you also get complimentary enhanced wifi access, a dedicated concierge that can assist with in making resto reservations anywhere, they booked our Saturday night dinner at A Toi, a theatre show, concert, local tour, etc during your stay and even complimentary garment pressing during your stay.

Ritz Carlton Toronto - Sasha Exeter

Kiddies will LOVE the lounge too. It’s super kid friendly and I saw tons of tweens popping in and out on their own sans parents for snacks and treats throughout the day. It was also like a hangout spot for some too. There is a space for them to play boardgames and cards plus the TV area is designated Ritz Kids zone for watching TV and movies in a private setting.

*When you stay at the Ritz Carlton Toronto property, access to Club Level comes at an extra charge which can be applied either online during booking or at concierge when you check-in.

Lavish Lobby Perks

At most hotels, the lobby is just the gateway to getting somewhere else in the property or to leave it. The Ritz Carlton has made sure that their lobby is a space guests will want to actually hang out in while they are coming or going. On the Friday evening when we checked in there was a Limoncello cocktail station for adults, there is a daily ice tea station using a tea of the day from the infamous Sloane Teas on the weekends there is a pop-up candy bar for the kids and on the Sunday as we were checking out, they had a cart doing ice cream sundaes to help beat the heat!

The lobby Limoncello cocktail bar was such a treat

Between the suites, club level lounge, family friendly packages and central location, we highly suggest the Ritz Carlton for your next family staycation or vacation. Check the rates for your desired dates for a weekend of fun this summer!

Custom Mommy + Me Bathers

Summer is in full swing now so with plenty of pool days, long weekends and summer travel ahead, I thought I would finally share the scoop on the custom swimwear Maxie and I had designed a few months back. I’ve been seeing a ton of sponsored posts on IG promoting matchy matchy suits and we could have easily ordered some cookie cutter pieces online, but y’all know how much I love supporting local small businesses. We turned to Toronto based brand Unika Swim to customize the perfect one and two pieces for us and you can too using my promo code “Sasha20” which will get you 20% off  your order.

Mommy + Me Matching Swimwear

Unika prides themselves on making inclusive swimwear for all shapes and sizes, so technically you could pop into their Yorkville showroom to purchase or order online, but the custom swimwear is a fit that is specifically made just for your body with options to create the one-piece, two-piece or tankini of your dreams. This is perfect for the ladies who have itty bitty boobies or for those who are on the larger cup size who usually find it extremely difficult to find the suits they love in their size. Unika’s bra sizes range from AAA to a J cup which is unheard of and with 200+ styles to choose from, there’s no way you aren’t going to find something that you’re going to feel confident and amazing in.

HOW IT WORKS

I went through Unika Swim’s booking system to schedule our initial appointment which you can find here. The both of us had our measurements taken and trust me, it was effing hilarious watching Maxwell get hers done and seeing her try on a few of the baby styles to get an idea of how they fit her.

I knew for sure we needed a two piece and with my athletic build, I wanted something both sporty and sexy. Frankly, Maxie honestly looks cute in everything so her needs clearly did not come first here LOL! I ended up choosing a top similar to the Marza cut in yellow and the Unika girls convinced me to ditch low rise bottoms for the more sexier high cut based off the design for the Zafina bottoms.

Mommy + Me Swimwear

But here’s the best part, I felt the back was a bit too revealing so we were able to customize the design to give me a bit more coverage. For Maxie’s bottoms because she’s still wearing a swim diaper we decided that high cut waist with full coverage in the bum worked best. We added a ruffled frill on either side and it came out adorbs. We also got on high cut one-pieces too in the sickest orange colour that works so well on both of our skin tones. They were the perfect punch of colour on our last getaway to Miami Beach.

PRICING

This is the question I have been asked the most in DM’s. The pricing actually is quite fair.

OFF THE RACK: All pieces are sold separately and are interchangeable (BONUS). Tops and bottoms range from $80+

CUSTOM: Average custom suit is around $190+ depending on the fabric, style and cut you choose. Custom pieces start at $106 a piece and the average suit is anywhere from $220-250

REPLICATING A SUIT:  To replicate any of the Unika original designs to your exact measurements with some modifications (if necessary) here’s what the pricing looks like:

One piece $80.00
Bikini bottoms $40.00
Bikini top $40.00
Tankini suit $95.00

MOMMY + ME MATCHING SUITS (SPECIFIC DETAILS FOR INFANT/TODDLER SIZING)

You can customize kiddie suits for both girls and boys under the age of 10. Simply email the amazing team at info@unikaswim.ca to get started and they will make the process seamless. The current sizes for kids range from 3 months to 10 years and the available pieces to choose from are boys trunks, rash guards, two piece, tankinis, and one piece suits.
Photos by Bettina Bogar

TURNAROUND TIME

You can find more details on the turnaround time on UnikaSwim.ca but generally it takes about 10-12 days. I last minute with just about everything I do and waited until almost the 11th hour to get these made for our trip. The team was able to rush our order and can do it upon request at an extra charge.
PROMO CODE IS AVAILABLE FOR ALL REGULARLY PRICED SUITS FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR. MAKE SURE TO CITE “SASHA20” IN STORE AND ONLINE AT TIME OF PURCHASE.

My Look For The 2019 Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards

It’s been exactly a week since Toronto gathered to celebrate the creme de la creme of Canadian fashion at the 2019 CAFA’s and I am still not over this dress yet. I don’t think I will ever be!  This is one of the rare nights out of the entire year where everyone puts a little extra “sumthin” into their look and does their damn best to wear and support the amazing fashion talent coming out of this country.

2019 Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards - Sasha Exeter

2019 Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards - Sasha Exeter
With Canadian fashion designer and STITCHED contestant Christopher Paunil

Lots of commentary on Instagram stories about what I should wear when I posted stories from Christopher Paunil’s designer, the Toronto based design talent who created this beautiful fit and flare gown. If you’ve ever looked for a wedding dress from a Canadian designer you 100% have come across his work. If you’re fashion obsessed, his name isn’t new to you either or perhaps you may recognize him from STITCHED, the fashion focused competition show that aired last year on Slice. Christopher’s bread and butter if you will is bridal and he absolutely kills the game, but his evening wear is actually my fave. I’ve had a long time love affair with the designer and have worn him many times, but this dress just seemed extra special. Every single piece of clothing I have ever worn that he has designed, has fit like a glove and always makes the decision on what to wear so difficult. There were four looks in the running for CAFA this year and it all came down to the the sexy “Ezra” gold sateen jumpsuit and the stunning “Emmy” fit and flare gown in the end. Both are part of the designer’s current collection and the latter is available by order for $2,250.00.

2019 Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards - Sasha Exeter
left to right: Stylists Talia Brown-Thall, Liv Judd, and Zeina Esmail
2019 Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards - Sasha Exeter
With Nadia Pizzimenti and Talia Brown-Thall
2019 Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards - Sasha Exeter
a quick selfie taken at the Joe Fresh table before the awards commenced

So, this was the second time I shared my outfit options from a designer’s studio on my IG stories and you know what…I actually LOVE you guys weighing in and sharing your perspective on what you feel is the best choice. I am thinking this may need to now become a thing because this time around, it totally helped me make my final decision. Although, so many of you did rally behind the jumpsuit, but not to worry, I am actually going to buy it . To be honest, the houndstooth fabric just looked so stunning when I tried it on and the drama of the large bow and train at the back just took shit to the next level. Because of that, I wanted to keep my make-up relatively simple and opted for a subdued smokey eye and a punch of colour on my lips.

2019 Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards - Sasha Exeter

Photography by Chris Cheung and George Pimentel

I cannot take credit for the make-up. I don’t have the skill set to beat my own face like this. My beauty look was courtesy of the amazing team at Charlotte Tilbury. The goal was to create a flawless look, but one where my skin still looked real and not airbrushed like that IG make-up look that is becoming so popular. . My MUA that day, Sidonie, mixed a bit of the Hollywood Flawless Filter as a complexion booster in deep bronze with the Magic Foundation. Guys, Charlotte Tilbury has been slaying palettes lately. I have several eye palettes I die for, but I have yet to purchase any of the cheek palettes. We use Lovegasm on my face last week and it will for sure be my next Charlotte beauty purchase. Even the packaging of it is absolutely stunning.

For the lips, I ditched my original idea of going with Charlotte Tilbury’s “Stoned Rose“, a more neutral colour and decided to go big and bold with a beautiful orangey-red matte lippy called “Tell Laura”. I topped of the look with some custom lashes from Teka Neufville. They are the most beautiful and durable strip lashes I think I’ve ever worn. Super light on the lash line and can last up to 40 wears.

Special thank you to the amazing Christopher Paunil and Sidonie who is part of the amazing team at Charlotte Tilbury Holt Renfrew in Yorkville.

The Ultimate Sweat Getaway – The Carillon Miami Wellness Resort

For the last few years my goal has been to find a warm and sunny place to seek refuge during the winter months. The ultimate wellness vacation, if you will, where workouts, spa treatments and meditation are literally the only thing on the agenda. I finally found it guys and turns out, I didn’t have to look very far. Located in the north end of Miami in the family friendly hood of Surfside, The Carillion Miami Wellness Resort is legit the perfect spot for the fitness obsessed. Not a newbie to the Miami scene, the property actually was built back in the early 1950s, but went through a major rebrand, plus an expansion. The hotel now consists of three separate towers of accommodations, a huge state-of-the-art fitness facility with featuring Technogym cardio and strength training equipment, multiple movement studios, restaurants, a juice & coffee bar and 750 feet of private beachfront.

It’s a luxury to stay in accommodations that make you feel just as comfortable as you do at home. We had one of the two bedroom suites (that range from 920-1,140 sqft) with partial beach views to call home during our stay. It had a separate living room with a pull out sofa, a fully equipped kitchen and spacious bathrooms.

SHOP MY JOE FRESH NIGHTIE (NOW 20% OFF) ON JOEFRESH.COM/CA

It’s unique; world-class wellness center is what sets this hotel apart from the rest in Miami. There are 20+ fitness classes a day for guests to choose from that caters to all fitness levels. Several digital program boards can be found throughout the property that lists the daily class schedule. Classes generally start at 7am, usually with sunrise meditation, which is absolutely beautiful when you get to see if during a class from the Ocean Studio, and end daily around dinnertime. There’s a mix of everything from yoga, cycling, boxing, kettle bell training, Pilates, strength training, Tabata, Barre, dance classes, TRX, roll & release and even treadmill running classes. Seriously, the list just goes on and on.

It was the perfect time to put some of the new Joe Fresh activewear collection to test.  I have been living religiously in their essential strappy sports bra for months, but a brand new design has been released just in time for summer. It has a deep v neckline with a cute and subtle mesh detail. The best design detail however I feel honestly lives in the back of this bra. Multi straps criss cross around the shoulder blades down to the band. Not only cute, but also functional. With my breast size cup being anywhere between a B & C cup, it actually provides me with enough support to wear across all the activities that I do. I liked pairing the light purple colour of the strappy mesh sports bra with these the new purple printed cropped leggings. If you adore this print and love activewear sets instead of separates, the strappy mesh sports bra comes in this print as well.

I wanted so badly to give you guys an inside peek at the group classes but we had to respect the privacy of the other guests and residents – yup, there are people that live at The Carillon year round and I am JEALOUS of their year round access. I did two boxing classes during my stay and it was the real deal.

Took a few boxing classes with this no nonsense coach during my stay and it was the best workout I have had in ages.

I used muscles I didn’t even think I had and could barely raise my arms for the remainder of the trip, let alone pick up Maxie. The instructor was badass and it was far from a fluffy class. We mixed up bag work and worked individually with him and the hand pads. I learned SO much about proper technique and developed a great foundation to build off of.

SHOP MY JOE FRESH STRAPPY SPORTS BRA AND HIGH WAISTED LEGGINGS ON JOEFRESH.COM/CA

Guys, these are the best fitting leggings I’ve ever worn. I’ve worn so many different style of tights over the years from different brands, but this high waisted legging with reflective feature may forever be my favourite. Ok, yes they don’t have the beautiful patterns that some of the other Joe Fresh tights have that are seasonal and this is probably done on purpose. It’s a style that carries over from season to season and is a collection staple. I first got them in green and decided before the trip that I couldn’t leave without another pair, and bought these. What makes them so great? They are the most supportive leggings without being restrictive somehow. They are a perfect length for ladies with long legs like moi and the waist band is high and actually stays put through during any and all exercises, even squats, downward dogs and lunges.

Shop my Ultra Soft Crop Leggings on JoeFresh.com/CA. Tank out soon but currently available in other colours here.

My comfort level is in strength and functional training, so I also managed to get in some solo workouts outside of the group classes, but I wanted to take the opportunity while I was there to work on my weaknesses. Yoga and meditation. Yup folks, it was time to progress a bit from the hand holding of guided meditation and headstands to being able to sit alone with my thoughts for an extended period of time and transition finally to balancing solely on my forearms. IT IS SO DAMN TOUGH. I did manage to get up after a couple of attempts and held it for what felt like forever (in real time about 20 seconds) and I was on a high for the rest of the day. Chilling in the Ocean Studio at sunrise or alone on the beach at 6am set was the perfect way to stat the day and was the perfect spot for solo meditation. Watching the sunrise in Miami is just magical. Almost as good as the sunsets.

I posted one of my solo workouts on Instagram during my time at The Carillon Miami Wellness Resort in their epic gym and I think I got just as many comments about the tights as I did about the exercises. You can view the killer upper body workout that I shared here. The peach and purple pattern on these printed crop leggings reminds me of a painting. I’ve paired them with my plum stappy sports bra, but I started my workout with the new tank top that comes in a gorge orange sherbet colour, that I knotted in the middle. The best thing about these tanks, besides being a flattering razor back and moisture wicking, is that they are only $16, or 2 for $24. I swear by them and have them in every colour they come in.

Still needs some work and foot placement is off but finally transitioning from a regular headstand to this.

Well, if the fitness facility hasn’t won you over, then I think the food and the wellness programming is going to blow your mind. Full spa amenities, obvi, with massage, face, body and Ayurvedic experiences. And hello, the property also has a thermal experience, which is the heart of their spa offering.

It’s actually one of the country’s most expansive hydrotherapy circuits. Similar to Body Blitz here in Toronto, the thermal spa has a series of hot and cold areas to help warm, cleanse and relax guests prior to treatments or after workouts. I am not kidding you, it’s open all day…closes as late as 8pm and it’s complimentary for guests of the hotel. I had to ask a few times just to make sure I was hearing correctly.

The Carillon Miami Wellness Resort also has a nutritionist on staff that you can speak to during your stay with to help design a tailor meal plan just for you or a 28-day kick start weight loss program. They even have a Grocery Guru program where you can get educated on how to grocery shop intelligently and even medical nutrition therapy is offered. If you’re all sorted on the nutrition front, you will be happy to know that the property has so many healthy food options on it’s in-suite dining menu and lobby resto, The Strand Bar & Grill. The seasonal and ingredient driven menu highlight’s southern Florida’s organic community and has tons of options for guests who are calorie conscious. We loved the breakfast so much there. Our favourite thing on the menu post workout in the morning was the insane, mile high Avocado toast.

Most impressive – the wellness lectures that are also made available to guests free of charge. They occur almost every single day and are held midday in the hotel’s wine lounge. For guests who are anti-aging obsessed, there several therapies such as; Cryotherapy, Salt Float Zero Gravity Therapy, Infrared Sauna and other methods to reverse the aging process. These non-traditional spa services each can provide pain relief, detoxification, relaxation, anti-aging results and promotes healing. These non-traditional service offerings can be a la carte or can be paired with additional spa services to enhance results.

Scoop Maxie’s pink polka dotted swimsuit for only $14 here

Now the million dollar question that I know some of you fit mamas are wondering, “Is the resort family friendly?” – it 100% is. There were definitely families around and it was still surprisingly, very quiet. The property is quite spread out, so even though they were at capacity during our visit, you would have never known. There were tons of beach chairs available every single day (no additional surcharge to lounge under a shaded chair between workouts) and always room poolside to chill and eat lunch between taking dips.

Our suite had a huge bathtub. It was amazing to soak in at night after the workouts and it made it easy to give Maxie her baths. The food options for kiddies were beyond delicious. Adults traveling without a family could enjoy their stay without babies and kids milling about, as there are sections of the resort and pools that are adults only. For families with older children, the hotel has options for kids to join in on the fitness fun. I saw a little girl around the age of 5 taking daily private ballet classes. I mean, how luxury is that?! There are also group family fitness classes on the north tower lawn a couple days a week where everyone in the family can get in a sweat together. Maxie is still a bit too young for that, so my mom and I made her feel included and created our own mini workouts with her. I almost cannot handle how cute these matching outfits are. Maxie’s bodysuit is from the Joe Fresh toddler activewear collection.

The bond between my mother and child is just incredible. Also, love how my mother has embraced knotted her tanks. SHOP OUR LOOKS: Printed Active Legging // Toddler Active Bodysuit // Mesh Back Tank

I think one of the best things about Miami is that the gastro scene is on point and there are delicious and healthy food options just about anywhere you go. We rented an SUV while we were there and returning back to Sacred Space Miami to eat at Plant Miami was a non-negotiable. If you’re planning an upcoming visit to Miami, pay a visit to this lifestyle complex that houses a gallery, plant-based restaurant, a curated wellness and lifestyle store, workshops, and Flow yoga and meditation studio.

The Sacred Space Miami

The Sacred Space Miami

The Sacred Space Miami

The Sacred Space Miami

The Sacred Space Miami

SHOP MY LOOK: STRIPED BIKINI BRA // OVERLAP BEACH SHORT, STRAW PANAMA HAT

Have you ever com to the end of a trip looking forward to going home and getting back to your routine? That’s usually me, except this time, this experience was such a vibe, I could have easily stayed a full week. Maybe even a month LOL. With Miami being only a stone’s throw away, I doubt this will be my last visit to The Carillon Miami Wellness Resort. Having experienced it for a few days, I could create an elevated experience to fully optimize the program and amenities.

You can shop my favourite active pieces right now from my very own “Make Moves with Sasha Exeter” product page and find the rest of our looks online by heading to JoeFresh.com/ca and from now until December 31st, 2019, you can enjoy 25% off regular priced items when you use my promo code “Sasha25”. Click here for full promo details.

This post is sponsored by Joe Fresh and The Carillon Miami Wellness Resort, however all views and opinions are my own and not of the brands I have collaborated with.

A Night At The Opera(nation)

Well folks, I don’t normally post about events on my site but there was so much love for the dress I wore to last week’s Canadian Opera Company’s Operanation that I’ve decided to post some photos and details on my look here. As soon as I heard that this year’s Operanation party was going to have a whimsical fairytale theme, I’m not going to lie, I got pretty stoked. The concept of formal has seemed to have disappeared over the last few years, which makes me really sad. Somehow denim has made it’s way into events where the invitation clearly cites “formal” and I think it’s time we bring some glam back to the Toronto scene.

COC Operanation - Narces Yasmin Gown
Wearing the “Yasmin” by Narces. Shoes by Rene Caovilla from David’s Shoes. Shot by David A. Pike

In the past, I have been very predictable and safe with my evening wear options. Black, black anything form fitting, oh and did I say black? I promised myself this year I would wear more colour and so far…so good. I love supporting Canadian designers because we have so much amazing talent in this country. I got to wear a dream of a dress designed by the beautiful Nikki Yassemi, the creative mind behind Narces, a Toronto based womenswear line that specializes in bridal, evening and special occasion ready-to-wear.

COC Operanation - Narces Yasmin Gown

COC Operanation - Narces Yasmin Gown

The bestest friend a gal can have and the perfect fairy godmother to Maxwell. Talia Brown has really helped me evolve my personal style during our four year friendship. Talia is in Self Portrait from Fitzroy Boutique.

There were several options, making it nearly impossible to choose, but narrowed them down to about five with the help of my best friend and stylist, Talia Brown. She knows me and my body better than anyone in the world. Yes, even better than Réjean…so outfit decisions for big events are rarely made without her. I was also lucky enough to get instantaneous feedback from so many of you guys when I posted our front runners on IG stories. THANK YOU FOR THAT! It made my decision that much easier and it was also surprising to hear that you all loved the pink belted “Felixa” ball gown with pockets. That one was a no brainer for a fairytale theme, but after much deliberation and the coaxing of Nikki, we went with the Yasmin gown. You can find on her website Narces.com and is available as pre-order dress only. Her stance on it,

“Everyone can do a ball gown, but why don’t you put your own twist on the theme and make it a bit sexy? This is a sexy fairytale!”

And you know what, she was right. This piece of magic is made of the most beautiful colour tulle with a slit that hit at just the right place. The belt detail is intended to be worn at the front, but at the very last minute I decided to switch it up and wear the bow in the back to enhance the train.

Here are some of my favourite photo moments from the evening

COC 2019 Operanation
L to R: Andrew Lovesey, Me, Nikki Yassemi of Narces, Talia Brown-Thall, Nelson Thall
COC 2019 Operanation
The most entertaining plus one ever – Andrew Lovesey

Speaking of amazing dresses and evening soirées…I am in the midst of planning for next week’s CAFA Awards and the gown hunting has officially commenced. You can catch all the dress options and behind the scenes on my stories.

A very special thank you to the talented David Pike who captured the most stunning photos of Talia and I before the event and to Chris Cheung, who somehow was stealth enough to really cool candid moments in the rain, as we entered The Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.

Receive 25% off All Joe Fresh Activewear and More This Year

Y’all asked. We’ve answered!

Seriously, you guys rock. There has been such an overwhelming response to my activewear campaign with Joe Fresh and the pieces itself, I am blown away. The support you all have given me and the brand has been next level and trust me when I saw it has not gone unnoticed. So to thank you, we’re giving you 25% off your online purchases when you use the code “Sasha25“.

This ain’t no one time offer either. This is good for the rest of 2019 and that is actually the best news because the rest of the collections dropping this year just get better and better. Here’s a look at some of my favourite looks from the first summer collection…part two will hit stores and online in June.

Ohhhhh and guess what, I have my own little section on www.joefresh.com/ca that houses all my favourite pieces from the active collection each season. So much easier to quickly find the pieces you see me wearing in the gym.

  • From the homepage, hover over the “Active” tab
  • Select “Sasha Exeter”
  • Click on the “Shop Now” tab

Photography by Bettina Bogar for JoeFresh.com

Here are the terms to the promo you need to be aware of. The “Sasha25” promo code is valid online only  at www.joefresh.com/ca. Save 25% off regular priced items only. It is only available to Canadian residents only at this time….but hoping that may change in the future. To redeem online, enter the promotional code in your shopping bag. The offer excludes Baby Gift Boxes and clearance items. Cannot be combined with any other coupons or promotional offers, is not redeemable for cash and cannot be applied to previous purchases. Offer valid from May 6, 2019 at 12:01AM EST to December 31, 2019 at 4AM EST.  Joe Fresh reserves the right to cancel any order due to unauthorized, altered, or ineligible use of discount and to modify or cancel these promotions.

This post is sponsored by Joe Fresh, however all views and opinions are my own and not of the brands I have collaborated with.

Gut Health Series Part Two: 7 Detoxifying Yoga Poses to Boost Digestion

Have you ever been two days into your dream vacation or work trip and your GI tract suddenly turns against you? Trust me when I say it’s not bad timing…it’s travel that is to blame. Why? Well, stomach issues tend to happen when we are out of our routine, which unfortunately means that trip you’ve been planning all year, will likely be a target for an intestinal temper tantrum.

With gut health on everyone’s minds these days, most of you know the importance of eating foods with naturally occurring pre and probiotics, taking supplements and delish drinkable concoctions, but did you know that yoga can actually improve digestive issues day to day and actually help keep GI issues at bay during your travels? This practice of movement and breathing helps relax the gut and  is deeply detoxifying – a key factor for improving digestion. Gentle poses and twisting postures can help increase the oxygen to the tummy, aid with bloating, enhance digestion and encourage your liver and kidneys to flush out toxins.

7 Detoxifying Yoga Poses to Boost Digestion - So Sasha

7 Detoxifying Yoga Poses to Boost Digestion - So Sasha

What I’m Wearing: Strappy Sports Bra in Dark Mauve // Mesh Legging in Purple & Grey courtesy of Joe Fresh

Part one of my gut health series (linked here if you missed it) shares a lot about my own personal experience with tummy troubles, how I developed severe GI issues and most importantly how I overcame them (it’s a must read if you feel like you may be suffering from the same thing), but I’m still learning new things every single day to help me improve my health. On a recent trip to Florida to attend the annual Gut Health Summit with Activia Danone, I actually got to experience first hand the benefits of starting the day with an awakening yoga flow. Some quality time spent with Camilla Lee, a Vancouver based yoga expert and Activia’s personal yoga instructor on the trip, I discovered some simple yet effective poses during our sunrise yoga sessions that can be done alone or before your favourite flow to combat digestive issues.

From a seated position, make your way to tabletop. Your hands should be underneath your shoulders and knees underneath your hips. Inhale as you draw your belly button to the floor. Look up to the ceiling, and exhale.

Then draw your belly button to spine, tuck in your tailbone, and chin to throat. Repeat 5-10 times. Breathing deeply in these poses will massage your organs as you alternately

From downward facing dog pose, step your right foot between your hands. Inhale and raise your arms above your head. Add a gentle backbend. Exhale and bring your hands down to heart centre and bring the left elbow over the right knee for a gentle twist. Hold here for several breaths. Then exhale and release, step your feet together, and come into a forward fold. Come back to Downward Dog and switch sides. This pose places gentle pressure on your liver and kidneys, encouraging detoxification.

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose)

Come to your back and bend your knees, bringing them above your feet. Make sure you can graze your heels with your fingertips. On an inhalation, push through your feet to raise your hips. To add a shoulder opener, clasp your hands and press your forearms into the mat. This pose puts gentle pressure on the kidneys and adrenals to give the body a natural burst of energy and function at its highest potential. Now that you have cleansed and cleared space in the body, mind, and heart, open up to what you want to cultivate there. This is a great pose for post-detox intention setting. Hold for several deep breaths, then exhale to release your hands and lower your hips.

Supine Twist

Extend your legs out in front of you and then hug your right knee into your chest. With your right hand on your right knee, roll your hips and knee to the right, resting your knee on the ground if possible. Hold here for several deep breaths before switching sides. Reclined twists put gentle pressure on intestinal flow to maximize elimination.

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