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Our Niagara Falls Girls Trip

I’ve been visiting Niagara Falls for as long as I can remember. As a child, I found it rather boring. It was a long drive from where we lived, which was 40 minutes east of Toronto. I never understood how we could drive all that way to look at a waterfall and then turnaround and do the drive back. Considering it’s the honorary 8th wonder of the world, I was determined to make Maxwell’s first trip to the falls an epic one and to prove that Niagara can be a really good time for families of all ages. Also, I just desperately needed an escape from the city. My recently acquired CAA membership was actually the catalyst for our action packed falls getaway.

A few months ago I looked inside my wallet and was shocked at the amount of membership and rewards cards I had stuffed in there. There were definitely more than 10. What can I say, I’m a sucker for earning points, air miles and getting discounts. After doing some member and rewards card inventory, I soon realized I wasn’t taking full advantage of them and turns out; my CAA card was the least used card in the bunch. That changed real quickly after taking a deep dive onto the CAA (SCO) website a month ago. Sure, I had confidence knowing that I was protected with excellent roadside assistance should I need it, but I was missing out on tons of amazing access and discounts for members from their thousands of retail and service partners. Last weekend I took Maxwell on a short road trip to Niagara Falls for the ultimate mommy and me getaway that I think would put me in the running for “Mom of the Year” award, but the real MVP was CAA. I used my CAA membership to build our itinerary and for discounts on everything from our hotel stay to our chopper excursion. Here’s the scoop on how I pulled this off.

ROAD TRIP PREP

Just because I have a CAA membership, it doesn’t mean that I want to risk having any issues with my car on a road trip. Especially with a baby on board. Believe me, checking my car’s vitals before hitting the road is not anything new for me. I am actually annoyingly obsessive with vehicle safety, a quality I probably picked up from my Dad. I couldn’t get an appointment with Audi before leaving town, so I ended up getting a last minute appointment close to my house. CAA does all the legwork to create a network of repair facilities that have a high quality of service but at a fair price. It’s a brilliant resource available to members. CAA’s Approved Auto Repair Service AARS facilities also offer Member-exclusive benefits such as 3% in CAA Dollars® on all repairs, which you can use to renew or upgrade your CAA Membership or for items at a CAA.

WHERE TO STAY IN NIAGARA

Obviously there are loads of places to stay in Niagara, but if you’re making the trek out there for a weekend getaway, it only makes sense to choose a hotel with a falls view. My first choice for accommodation was the Sheraton Fallsview because of its close proximity to all the activities I had planned during our day, however it was fully booked the weekend we were going. We ended up staying at the Hilton Hotel at a reduced rate. If you’re a member, you can find a full list of top hotel partners around the world on the CAA’s hotel rewards page. Our suite was huge with a living room area, spacious bathroom with a Jacuzzi tub plus a view of both the Canadian and U.S. falls. The Hilton is currently under renovations, but so far it only affects the lobby level and some of the restaurants. Not a ton of time was spent in the room if I can be honest. We preferred to be out and about because the weather was amazing for this time of the year. We did enjoy having breakfast in bed and staying up later than normal at night giggling and listening to music like I was there with a friend my age, not a two-year-old toddler!

MUST SEE and MUST DO at the FALLS

If you think that the falls is the only thing to see in Niagara Falls, you are sadly mistaken. I am not kidding, there is something for everyone, which also means if the weather isn’t great when you choose to go, there are still loads of things you can do, if you’re not able to see the falls due to rotten, inclement weather. We thankfully had the best weather, minus the two hours of rain on the Saturday morning.

So here’s the deal, I didn’t really know where to start when planning this weekend and truthfully, when it came to the itinerary, I saved myself some time and just went to CAA’s attractions rewards page and checked out all the attractions, theme parks and adventures listed on there. It rounded up not only the best experiences to choose from but it also offered me discounts to the things I wanted to do.

We stayed relatively close to everything on our agenda for the two and a half days we were there so we didn’t use our car until we were headed to our last activity. We walked to most things but we also had two day access to WEGO, the hop on – hop off bus that picked us up and dropped us off right in front of the Hilton that was part of Niagara Parks package we had pre-purchased online. Here’s the short list of activities we absolutely loved:

CLIFTON HILL – They don’t call it the street of fun for nothing. The Clifton Hill strip is jam packed with activities, restaurants and is perfect for all ages. There is literally something on every corner including it’s newest attraction, the Niagara Speedway, Canada’s first ever elevated go-kart track. Not something we were able to enjoy this time around because Maxie is so young, but we had a blast hitting up the Niagara Skywheel, Dinosaur Adventure Mini-Put, and Ripley’s Believe It or Not.

I’ve never been to any Ripley’s museums so I wasn’t sure what to expect to be honest but turned out to be a good move. It is a bit of a strange place where you’re going to find odd, shocking and dare I say strange exhibits, but that’s part of the fun. You’ll find everything from a replica of the world’s tallest man, a Tibetan skull, a giant Lite-Brite installation and several optical illusions. Max was obsessed and there were quite a few installations and exhibits that even toddlers could enjoy.

You can find everything in Clifton Hill. I loved that we didn’t have to venture far from the action when we wanted to get a bite to eat. There are tons of options around for dining in the area. Some are even CAA preferred dining partners where we were able to receive exclusive offers and discounts only for CAA members.

HORNBLOWER CRUISE AND THE JOURNEY BEHIND THE FALLS – The piece de resistance and the reason why millions flock to the tiny city of Niagara each year, the Falls is obviously an incredible site to witness in person, especially on a beautiful day like we had. We could have totally just witnessed this beautiful wonder from afar but I couldn’t resist wanting to get a closer look so I pre-booked tickets for both the Hornblower Niagara boat cruise and the Journey Behind the Falls. It’s been almost 30 years since I did the Maid of the Mist boat tour so this was definitely a highlight for me. And yes, we got very wet but that’s all part of the fun I think. The cruise travels down to the falls, turns around and heads straight back and the whole thing is done in about 25 minutes. It was the perfect length of time for the activity. Any longer and it could get miserable on a cold or windy day.

The Journey Behind the Falls is quite an extraordinary experience and one we weren’t able to fully indulge in because we were short on time, but it’s something that should be a part of everyone’s Niagara Falls itinerary. You descend 150 ft and get a chance to explore 130 year old tunnels through the bedrock. The observation deck is at the bottom of the 13 storey falls so you get the best possible view of one-fifth of the world’s fresh water crashing down in front of you.

FALLSVIEW INDOOR WATERPARK – This place is a dream for kids, so be prepared to spend the better part of the whole day there because they won’t want to leave. Consider yourself warned. That being said, I would drive back to Niagara in a heartbeat just to see the smile on Maxwell’s face playing in the water. Fallsview Indoor Waterpark is located just a stones throw away from Clifton Hill and right by the Sheraton Hotel, which is why I had wanted to stay there originally.

Shot on iPhone 11 Pro

They have designed the 125,000 sqft water park in a way that families of all ages can enjoy the space. There’s a mammoth play area with a 1000 gallon tipping bucket perfect for toddlers to pre-teens, an age appropriate splash pad for toddlers, Jacuzzi’s for the adults. There’s private cabanas for the anti-social folks that don’t feel like intermixing with the masses, a full sized wave pool, six storey water slides for older kids and adults and a restaurant/bar.

NIAGARA HELICOPTERS – Obviously saved the best surprise for last. The Niagara Heli tour was the COOLEST experience ever. I found this gem of an excursion on the CAASCO member website and booking it was a no brainer. The bonus, is that I was able to receive 20% off the price of the excursion with my membership WOO HOO. Let me tell you, looking at the falls close up is cool, but getting an unobstructed aerial view of this magnificent wonder really is a next level experience and something that we will never ever forget.

Photography by Jess Baumung and shot on iPhone 11 Pro

Now that we are back and settled, I am already started to plan our next girl adventure and I will definitely be utilizing my CAASCO member benefits and rewards to get the best out of our future travel experiences. There are SO many benefits of CAA outside of roadside assistance and I’ve already reaped so many rewards since getting my CAA Plus membership. To register for your membership or to discover how you can benefit from your existing membership head to caasco.com.

This post is in partnership with CAASCO but all views and opinions are my own.

The Best Toddler Gift To Give This Holiday Season

I’m a mom to a very precocious toddler and at two years old, we have reached the point at home where stuffies have become less interesting; now, it’s all about toys and activities that engage her little developing mind. The toddler years are often a trial and error period for most parents when it comes to toys. We make impulse purchases at toy stores to keep them from having meltdowns, or they are gifted for birthdays or holidays only to get discarded after being used just a handful of times. For that very reason, I have taken a more pragmatic approach in our home, preferring toys that not only keep my daughter engaged for longer, but that have also been proven to help with children’s development, like LEGO Duplo.

For 50 years, LEGO Duplo has been introducing block sets to little builders with big imaginations. These colourful plastic bricks have become iconic, and for good reason. For starters, they connect like regular LEGO bricks, but the Duplo pieces are much easier to put together and pull apart—not to mention a lot safer for toddlers, as most kids this age are still putting everything into their mouths.

Duplo is not new to our household, but we had never tried their themed play sets, like the LEGO Duplo Frozen Ice Castle. Little fans of the film are going to love this special edition set, out now ahead of the sequel’s November 20th release date. We’ve spent countless hours building and adapting the infamous castle together with its accompanying accessories on our living room floor. Every time we put the last block up, Maxwell wants to tear it down and start all over again. I actually encourage this because each time we work on building the castle, she is essentially mastering elementary construction skills and developing fine motor capabilities as she assembles and re-positions the bricks. Her little hands have grasped the basics of connecting the pieces on her own so well that she can now entertain and occupy herself using her own imagination, practicing dexterity and problem solving.

5 reasons this is a great gift idea for toddlers this holiday season

1. While building and creating, you get to watch your little one hit all these amazing early childhood developmental milestones like learning colours, shapes and numbers, while expanding their imagination and vocabulary.

2. Get some toddlers together to play with LEGO Duplo and you will quickly understand how well it facilitates social development. Besides teaching young children to take turns and share, it also promotes communication skills.

3. Even though LEGO Duplo pieces are larger than the original LEGO blocks, it still takes a fair amount of hand-eye coordination and strength to snap and pull apart the bricks. Using these blocks actually helps to strengthen the muscles in toddlers’ tiny hands, improving dexterity that will become important when they are a little older and learning to write.

4. Miniature versions of the film’s main characters—Elsa, Anna and Olaf the snowman—are included in the set, along with a slew of accessories: a slide, table, chairs, miniature kitchen equipment and outfits for the characters that allow for endless imaginative play.

5. All kids will love the multicoloured light brick feature that tops the sparkling Ice Castle. It is the last brick to be added to the castle, marking completion and giving children a feeling of accomplishment. This special brick also illuminates at the touch of a button and flashes, allowing toddlers to discover and learn to identify various colours.

Images by David A Pike for Today’s Parent Magazine and SoSasha.com

For all these reasons and more, I—along with countless other parents—absolutely love LEGO Duplo. The multi-faceted Duplo building play sets will not only keep toddlers entertained longer than most toys for the 2+ age group, but parents will really appreciate that they are very educational while still keeping things fun, making it the perfect toy for toddlers this holiday season. While building and creating, you get to watch your little one hit all these amazing early childhood developmental milestones like learning colours, shapes and numbers, while expanding their imagination and vocabulary.

Our Fall Uniform

You can never go wrong with black and twinning is always winning in my books so naturally these looks are going to be our fall uniforms. I have decided to be a little less aggressive with the matching mommy and me looks recently, opted for complimentary looks that are not identical. Also, with our age and size difference, it’s much easier to pull off the less intentional matchy look to be honest.

We shot a bunch of photos for a recent Geox campaign and took a few extra images just for our personal files but they came out so darn cute, I thought they should live somewhere else other than my iPhone. Plus, so many of you have been asking where I got our outfits from, so I am linking everything right here for you guys.

Leather (both faux and real) are my actual obsession. I will collect them until the end of time and at the rate Maxwell is going, she will be doing the same damn thing. I picked up this one a year and a half ago from good ‘ole Zara and thankfully they have continued to bring it back over the last few seasons, so you can scoop this exact Zara faux leather jacket for $79. Maxwell’s leather moto jacket came from Joe Fresh and it’s only $35. In hindsight, I should have bought two extra in larger sizes for when she’s older.  Y’all know like 70% of her wardrobe staples are pieces from there because of the affordable price point and quality. It does come in baby and toddler sizes in case you are crazy enough like me to want to put a 1 year old in a leather moto LOL!

As for our dresses…if you have a little one, I am sure you’re familiar with the brand Freshly Picked, who became popular for their newborn leather moccasins. Maxie had several pairs when she was teeny tiny but now the brand has expanded so much and now make leather bags, accessories and clothing for both kiddos and adults. I scooped up her Elbow Sleeve Baby Doll dress from there last year actually and made sure to get a larger size so she had tons of room to grow into it. You can find and shop my Wilfred New Button-Front Dress at Aritzia. FYI…It runs a bit small so you may want to head to a store to try on before purchasing.

All photos shot by David Pike

The boots…the BOOTS. Cannot believe how many of you have DM’d about them, especially my shoes. Both from Geox and I know so many people are under the assumption that the brand doesn’t have fresh, up to date styles but trust me, do not sleep on them. While not all their styles may be a fit with my personal style, I always find something I love when I pass by their store or take a peek online. My Phaolae boots are killer…and I chose them because not only are they the perfect mix of a Doc Marten and Common Project boots, but they are are hella comfortable and also has a winterized lining that makes it perfect for Canadian winters. Maxie’s Kilwi lace-up high tops from the Geox baby collection. They are fully breathable, which is great because her little feet get so hot when she’s out and about and the patent leather upper makes it easy to dress up and down.

Sorry guys, if you were hoping for a shopping link for my YSL Small LouLou Bowling Bag you’re not going to find one today. It appears as though the back is completely sold out EVERYWHERE. I waited patiently for mine because it kept selling out but was lucky enough to scoop up the last one about 6 months ago and I have not seen it hit stores again since. I will be sure to update this post if I see if resurface online.

8 Reasons Why You Should Be Weight Training

I have changed up my training significantly lately, which many of you have probably noticed from my stories on Instagram. These changes, specifically in regards to my weight training, has sparked some conversations amongst some of my followers. My goals for the remainder of the year is to reduce my body fat, increase muscle and to get leaner, so my trainer Kyle Ardill from SWAT Health has me lifting some heavy freaking weights plus has introduced some explosive workouts into my weekly routine.

It has been interesting to see the number of women who not only don’t do any form of weight training, but believe that it is bad for them or make them “bulky”. There are not many things I can make a definitive statement about, but I can say with absolute conviction that LIFTING WEIGHTS WILL NOT MAKE YOU BULKY. Actually, you may be surprised by this, but it actually does the complete opposite. Yup, weight training will make you leaner because it helps you build muscle and shed fat at the same time. But more on that later.

There is endless amounts of research that proves that there are benefits to strength training and other forms of resistance training, however women are spending most of their gym time doing cardio and it breaks my heart simply because I know how beneficial it is for us. If your reason for avoiding hitting weights during your workouts is because you hate going to the gym or feel overwhelmed by the equipment – trust me I can totally appreciate that, you can still get in a work lift at home with some basic equipment like dumbbells or kettle bells. Ladies, whatever reason you’re avoiding weights, here’s 10 reasons why you should be taking strength training seriously.

Joe Fresh Active - Sasha Exeter

SHOP MY LOOKS:  JACQUARD PRINT ACTIVE LEGGING // FITTED ACTIVE TANK IN PLUM //  PRINTED CROCHET SPORTS BRA // PINK MESH CROPPED LEGGINGS //  CROCHET BRA IN CERULEAN BLUE // PRINTED MESH LEGGINGS IN CERULEAN BLUE

  1. YOU WILL LOSE BODY FAT QUICKER: Women on average store about 10% more body fat than our male counterparts. This makes complete sense based on the fact that we are made to give birth to little humans. That being said, it can be frustrating finding ways to lower your body mass index. But here’s the truth, muscle mass burns fat. This is a scientific fact. The more time you take to develop that muscle, the quicker you’ll see the fat shedding off your body. And, the beautiful thing about muscle is that there’s no “spot treatment” necessary. If you want to lose fat in your arms, you don’t have to do one thousand bicep curls. Instead, you should build muscle all over your body, including legs, butt, core, arms, and upper body. The more muscle mass you have, the more fat it will burn—regardless of where that fat is stored.
  2. BURN CALORIES, ALL DAY LONG: Ladies listen up…Strength training helps you burn more calories and helps to speed up your metabolism, which means you can lose more weight. Your metabolism is the rate at which your body processes food for energy. When you strength train, your metabolism goes through the roof! In fact, studies have shown that regular strength training can increase your RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate) by about 5%. What does this mean exactly? Well, it means that your body burns more calories throughout the day – even while you’re not working out.
  3. GET STRONGER WITHOUT GETTING BULKY: I know this should have been listed as the first benefit, but I wanted to make sure you kept reading this post 😉 Becoming bulky through lifting weights is a common misconception and let me just be clear – 100% a myth. The heavier I lift, the leaner and smaller I look – hence the recent pivot in my training. Women who weight train, myself included obviously, tend to lose inches and lean out as a result of this kind of training, not gain in size. Here is the magical thing about strength training…you can shed inches where you don’t want them but it also allows you to build in places where you do. I SWEAR IT IS MAGIC. You can literally control your appearance through consistent weight training. You name it…it is possible doing this just 3x’s a week. It can tone you up, slim you down, and even give you curves in places you never thought imaginable.
  4. MAKES YOU FEEL BETTER ABOUT YOURSELF: When I say this, trust me it is coming from a non superficial way. By getting stronger and noticing changes to your body over time – like being able to lift heavier and/or do more complex exercises, it helps build confidence and improve body image. And wait for it, it can also help manage symptoms of anxiety and depression and overall a great way to help deal with stress in a natural way. I am currently going through a challenging time and when I am lifting in the gym, I am totally focused on the weights I am lifting and no energy is being given to all the other crap that I have been dealing with. That hour of training acts as an escape for my mind and body.
  5. IT INCREASES BALANCE, STABILITY AND FLEXIBILITY: By not preserving our muscles mass we end up losing it when we get older resulting in weight gain, no to mention loss of flexibility and balance. It’s not a good look. Lifting can help you work your joints through a full range of motion, keeping them flexible and strong helping keep you steady on your feet as you get older.
  6. REDUCES THE RISK OF BACK PAIN, INJURIES AND ARTHRITIS: Call me crazy but as mindful and present as I should be, I am constantly obsessing about how my body will be feeling and looking as I get older. I turn the big 4-0 next year and the next decade I know is going to go by in the blink of an eye, so I am already thinking ahead and so should you. Weight training can help build connective tissue that acts as reinforcement for the joints and helps prevent injury. Strengthening the low-back muscles helps in eliminating or alleviating low-back pain. It’s super debilitating and trust me, none of you want to have to deal with that as you get older. Weight training can also ease the pain of osteoarthritis and strengthen joints.​ Oh isn’t it so fun to think about our golden years?! LOL
  7. IT WILL CHALLENGE YOU KEEPING YOU INTERESTED AND MOTIVATED: Guys, doing the same damn cardio workouts week after week is bound to get boring. For anyone. Not to mention, you may seem some changes to your body at first but there is a high probability you will plateau, which can be super discouraging. Weight training is the perfect way to challenge your body and mind (yes, I think of this as a mental workout too because I have to get my head in the game when I am lifting heavy in the gym!). One of the things I love about strength training is that is always offers something new.
  8. REDUCE THE RISK OF HEART DISEASE: Weight training can improve cardiovascular health in several ways, including lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, increasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol and lowering blood pressure. When cardiovascular exercise is added (and I mean added to supplement not the main form of daily exercise), these benefits are maximized.

If you made it to the end of this post, you deserve a medal because 1) it was lengthy and 2) it means you’re actually open to learning how you can be better.  I’ve never been one for progress pictures and these images were actually taken a few weeks before our big switch in my training, but continue to follow along in the coming two months for more glimpses into my workouts on Instagram, my progress and how we are modifying my training week by week.

This post is in partnership with Joe Fresh,  however all views and opinions are my own

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.

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