Tag

Canadian Blogger

Browsing

Yves Rocher Botanical Skincare Journey to France

May was a very busy but special month. After celebrating my last childless birthday on the 5th, I jetted across the pond to France for a week to get immersed in the world of Yves Rocher, a brand I have fallen quite fond of over the last year or so. I have been a long time fan of French skincare because seriously they seem to know a thing or two about good quality but I guess you can say my level of interest in this particular brand was extra high the moment I realized the amazing botanical science behind their products.

Sasha Exeter - Rimowa
Paris bound to Yves Rocher Headquarters. Luggage c/o Rimowa Toronto

The key Yves Rocher skincare necessities waiting for me at Hotel Adele & Jules to help my dehydrated skin bounce back after the long flight

My journey with Yves Rocher began quite differently than a lot of other brand experiences I have had to date and I mean that in the most refreshing way. Sure, our initial meeting last summer consisted of some brand education and why I would be a good fit as a partner, however there was absolutely no hard sell. I was simply encouraged to take my time getting to know their products, specifically their best sellers, over the course of a few months and that “We would go from there…”  Well to me, this meant one thing – Yves Rocher was so confident in their brand, that they knew I would be on board once they gave me the chance to get properly acquainted with their products. And they were 100% right! Offering extensive product lines across all skincare and beauty categories, I took my time initialling honing in on facial and body care and the results have been amazing because I am experiencing my best skin yet. But this you may have already known if you read my post on my Yves Rocher Botanical Skincare Routine in April.

A LITTLE HISTORY ABOUT YVES ROCHER

So there are several things that makes Yves Rocher very different than its competitors, which has made them immensely successful in France and throughout Europe since their launch 50 years ago. A pioneer in natural skincare and beauty, Mr. Yves Rocher founded the company with the belief that nature will be their guide in producing its products, which are made from plants and approximately 250 natural ingredients locally harvested. To this day, it has been the key to their success.

To have discovered the properties of plants is not our greatest achievement but to have made them available to all women is our greatest pride. As the only brand in the beauty industry to have chosen to control all the aspects of our activity, we are able to reduce our impact on the environment at every stage in the life cycle of our products”   – Yves Rocher

If you can imagine back in 1967, the idea of a man launching a skincare and beauty brand without the use of any chemicals, targeted to women and marketed using his name, sounded ludicrous and nobody believed it would work. However, Rocher did not let this stop him. In fact, it motivated him and pushed him and pushed him to get the wheels in motion.

The only way to ensure Yves Rocher’s vision was executed properly meant that from the very beginning he insisted on controlling every step of the production cycle to guarantee safety and quality, providing his clients with products free of chemicals, colorants, and parabens.

EXPERIENCING THE BRAND LIVE IN PARIS

My press trip to France began with a tour of the Yves Rocher Headquarters in Paris to see how the products are made in their state-of-the-art laboratories and to get a deep dive in the company’s rich and rooted history.

Yves Rocher France

Housed in one of the most modern buildings I saw in a city so full of rich and old architecture, there were several labs dispersed on one large floor responsible for each of the brand’s categories; skincare, cosmetics, body care, hair care, bath & shower and fragrances. It was refreshing to see it is run predominantly by young women. Somewhere within the building’s labyrinth was a small room dedicated the the brand’s olfactory family and fragrances. Bottles upon bottles of fragrance notes meticulously displayed in beautiful glass bottles and sleek refrigerators that housed samples of each scent the brand has made categorized per year. While learning about Yves Rocher’s past and present was vital, I was very intrigued to learn more about the direction of the where the brand is heading. As the originator of botanical beauty, how do they stay ahead of the curve in an industry where so many brands are vying for a piece of the “natural and organic beauty” pie, so to speak?

Sasha Exeter - Yves Rocher
Yves Rocher France Headquarters Olfactory (Fragrances) Room
Sasha Exeter - Yves Rocher
Christine Dalfault-Sara, Yves Rocher Communications Director (Directrice Communication)

I chatted extensively with Christine Delfaut, the brand’s Communications Director, to learn more about the brand’s exciting upcoming product releases for the rest of 2017/2018. While most of the innovations that were shared are still under embargo so I can’t share (sorry guys!) however Christine did allow me to take home their newly formulated, long lasting, ultra matte red lipstick to test out which won’t be coming out until much later in 2017. Having had issues finding the perfect “red” for years, I can say my hunt is now officially over. Without any of the harsh chemicals that usually dry out my lips, this deep red at first goes on with a slight satin finish but after a few seconds it becomes definitively matte and lasts all day.

Yves Rocher France

They have also just launched a range of concentrated shower gels that lasts for 40 showers (shown above front and center) in Mango & Coriander, Olive Petitgrain, and Bourbon Vanilla which is my personal fave. With 4x’s the amount of product, 50% less plastic and greenhouse gases than in their 400ml bottles these heavenly smelling shower gels cost only $8 – not to mention, no parabens or preservatives and with 97% of the ingredients having a natural origin. With every bottle purchased, the Yves Rocher Foundation plants one tree in the community. Just in time for summer, a newly formulated Solaire Peau Parfaite sunscreen without harmful chemicals, The Chic & Bohemian Collection with a cornflower based body wash, eau de toilette and perfumed hair mist that smells heavenly and more.

LOW COST, HIGH QUALITY: HOW DO THEY DO IT?

English (CAN) quality products usually come with a hefty price tag. Sure, at a certain price point you can expect to see brands use aesthetically beautiful packaging, usually employing the help of actresses and celebrity spokespeople to sell their products which can be found perfectly curated in department store kiosks and shop-in-shops. All these bells and whistles that go into the marketing of competitors products come with a high cost, which is ultimately absorbed by the end consumer – YOU!

Yves Rocher’s competitively priced product ranges are only possible because their products aren’t sold in luxury and contemporary department stores but rather in their own stand-alone retail shops and of course online, allowing them to offer prices significantly lower than other brands. However this could be the reason why the brand awareness isn’t as high in North America as it is in Europe. I am fascinated by this idea, so a visit to Yves Rocher’s concept store on Boulevard Haussmann was a no brainer.

Sasha Exeter - Yves Rocher

CONCEPT STORE VISIT

Nestled in what appeared to be a bustling and busy district, is a three-storey temple of beauty, where you can receive skin diagnosis at the ground level Botanical Beauty Bar, shop the brand’s extensive beauty line and range of honey, jams and sweet treats, indulge in cold pressed juices developed exclusively for Yves Rocher in their in-house juice bar, or receive personalized face and body treatments in one of the seven private cabins within the Beauty Spa.

Sasha Exeter - Yves Rocher

One of the private cabin’s inside the Yves Rocher concept store’s Beauty Spa

Being inside the Boul Haussmann location made me immediately calm and gave me a sense that I was amongst nature thanks to the green and ecological decor botanical concept walls created by Botanist and inventor Patrick Blanc. I promise you, the photos don’t do it any justice, its beauty is much more spectacular in person. I took my time going through the multi-floor flagship, with extra time spent checking out the products not yet available in Canada and cruising the beautifully merchandised fragrance section on the second floor where I was taken on an olfactory journey through the important notes that make up the company’s best selling fragrances – mine currently being the sensual and refined freshness of their  Neroli Eau de Parfum.  

Sasha Exeter - Yves Rocher

Yves Rocher Olfactory Wall of Fame. The brand works with some of the best in today’s fragrance industry to help create their signature scents

VISIT TO LA GACILLY

But my trip wouldn’t be complete without taking a trip to La Gacilly, in France’s Bretagne (pronounced Brittany for us Anglo folks) region which is happens to be the birth place of both Mr. Yves Rocher and his namesake heritage brand. A beautiful and quaint village just a three hour train ride from the Paris city centre made up of cobblestone streets, small stone houses, local boutiques and La Grée des Landes, the Yves Rocher Eco-Hotel Spa and Hotel that you may remember seeing on my Instagram and IG stories.

Centrally located in the town, is the childhood home of Rocher, fondly referred to as No. 2 Rue St.-Vincent, where in his early twenties, he turned the home’s attic into a make-shift manufacturing facility for their very first plant based product. A visionary of sorts and a man with thinking far beyond his years, Yves Rocher was the first to introduce the “mail-to-order” concept as a way to sell his products to customers all over France.

Monsieur Yves Rocher’s childhood home where the brand first launched

Below are some shots we captured from inside Rocher’s first home where he used the attic to produce his first product and also acted as the office where he fulfilled his mail-orders from customers…

As he watched the company grow exponentially, he began to conjure up the idea for La Grée des Landes, a truly Eco-friendly establishment built without causing any harm to the environment that feeds guests using only locally sourced products and ingredients from their land. Essentially creating a gastronomy experience of multi-course meals prepared by Gilles Le Gallès, Chef at the hotel’s restaurant, that would legit blow your mind. There was no doubting the freshness and quality of our meals. As we enjoyed breakfast in the mornings, we often saw the kitchen staff in the garden pulling out herbs and vegetables that were going to be used in the preparation of our lunch and dinner later that day. Not once did we look at a menu. Chef prearranged each meal based on what is in season and would make a good compliment to the ingredients grown on the grounds of the property.

Chef Gilles Le Gallès at La Grée des Landes

While many hotel properties believe integrating the word “spa” into their property name means they understand the concept of wellness, most really don’t have the faintest clue as to what that actually entails. Whereas this little slice of heaven, which made sure to include all four elements of nature to ensure a harmonious balance on their grounds, anticipates guests needs before they can even think of it and offers activities and services to help you find your optimal mental and physical wellness with yoga/meditation classes, hiking, underwater workouts (AQUATraining & AQUACycling) plus restorative and relaxation services offered in the hotel’s spa.

I have always used a variety of products from different brands on my skin and to be honest, I will probably continue doing so but Yves Rocher products currently make up the majority of my skincare regimen right now. Taking care of my skin has become a huge priority in my thirties and I’ve seen some dramatic improvements since I have started using Yves Rocher products. I fell in love with the new “Pure Calmille” line while in France and was lucky enough to bring it back home with me prior to its launch in Canada (available here in September 2017!).  After pre-cleaning with wipes, I have been using the Pure Calmille Cleansing Gel mixed with the Scrub to Mix Gommage exfoliant, the Pure Calmille 2 in 1 Cleanser & Toner and the Pure Calmille Moisturizing Cream. For body care, I have become OBSESSED with the Monoï de Tahiti products that literally smell like tropical paradise in a bottle – using the Lagoon Body Wash, Dry Body Oil and finishing off with the Eau des Vahinés Eau de Toilette.

Sasha Exeter - Yves Rocher Canada

Overall my trip to France has a success! I got a chance to really get to know the brand and even got to indulge in spa treatments using Yves Rocher professional products. The best part is that all the products I was introduced to are safe during pregnancy. With affordable price points and products for all different ages and skin types, Yves Rocher has successfully made their brand accessible to everyone.

To shop or learn more, visit YvesRocher.com

Chic + Easy Travel Style | Paris Edition

Packing for my trip to Paris this time around was not an easy feat being six months pregnant. I had no doubt in my mind that I would have to leave ample room in my suitcase to bring things back home with me. This meant three things; pack smart, pack light and choose pieces that could easily mix and match to create multiple outfits. If you have seen at any point in the last few months, chances are I’ve been wearing this black jumpsuit because it’s so damn comfortable and miraculously has worked through all stages of my pregnancy so far. Réjean on the other hand, is not so fond of this romper (probably because of the drop crotch and close resemblance to a child’s playsuit) and I wouldn’t be surprised if wearing it one more time would totally push him over the edge from my repeated overuse. But you know what, as ‘Man Repelling’ as jumpsuits may be for some men, I put a high value on being comfortably stylish.

Sasha Exeter - Pregnancy Style

Sasha Exeter - Pregnancy Style

Sasha Exeter - Pregnancy Style

Sasha Exeter - Pregnancy Style

Sasha Exeter - Pregnancy Style

But seeing as though I’m in  Paris and Réjean safely 6000+ miles away home in Toronto, I’ve worn this Zara piece happily as three completely different outfits; on it’s own sans jacket for lunch and sight seeing, with an oversized distressed denim jacket and paired with a white sequin bomber and hat. Each working well with either a simple black heel or Adidas Stan Smith – which seems to be the official sneaker of Paris. Truthfully, I would have worn these three looks exactly the same whether I was pregnant or not, meaning expecting or not, these outfits for work for anyone. And the best part, I didn’t pay a dime over $20 for it.

Sasha Exeter Pregnancy Style

Sasha Exeter - Pregnancy Style
Shot on location in Paris by JesBaumung.com

What I’m Wearing: Black Drop Crotch Jumpsuit from Zara (no longer in stock) // Oversized Denim Jacket from Zara // White Sequin Bomber Jacket c/o H&M (old) // Black Pumps c/o Express // Adidas Stan Smith c/o Adidas Canada // GG Marmont Mini Chain Bag from Gucci // Hat (vintage)

My Zara jumpsuit may no longer be available (sorry!) so here’s a few other jumpsuit options that I’m also loving:

Bugaboo Bee5 Launch | Today’s Most Comfortable & Stylish Compact Stroller

The last several months have been a bit surreal but now things are starting to get real. Sleeping has become a bit more difficult at night. My belly has started to restrict my mobility and it’s now time to start thinking about getting those first few big items for the “bean” like a car seat, stroller and decorating the nursery. I would be lying if I said this wasn’t a bit overwhelming and if I’m feeling this way, I can only imagine what’s going on in poor Réjean’s mind right now. So…we’re taking baby steps (no pun intended) and beginning with our search for the perfect strollers.

The second I discovered I was pregnant I couldn’t help but start paying attention to the strollers that parents were pushing around the city. And by “paying attention”, I mean “obsessing”. Even stopping a more mother’s than I would like to admit, on their walks to ask them how they felt about their buggy choice. Call me crazy, but as a first time, slightly neurotic mom-to-be, I just want to make sure I make the best possible decision when it comes to a chariot for my child.

Sasha Exeter - Bugaboo Bee5 Toronto Launch

So yes, there’s a ton of stroller options on the market and it’s nice to know that you can really narrow the search down significantly by not only determining a budget but also thinking about your current lifestyle and/or the lifestyle you aspire to have once your little one arrives. I started the search very early on and knew that I wanted a stroller that can transition easily with my child from newborn to toddler. Well to be fair, I initially started the search when I was pregnant the first time last fall before my miscarriage and had identified Bugaboo as one of my top stroller options, so we were ahead of the game this time around when we confirmed the news we were expecting again. With our extremely active lives, plus our love for travel and endless adventures, we desperately need a stroller that can not only hold up against our crazy lifestyle, but look good while doing it also.

Sasha Exeter - Bugaboo Bee5 Toronto Launch

Sasha Exeter - Bugaboo Bee5 Toronto Launch

Sasha Exeter - Bugaboo Bee5 Toronto Launch

Sasha Exeter - Bugaboo Bee5 Toronto Launch

Sasha Exeter - Bugaboo Bee5 Toronto Launch

Sasha Exeter - Bugaboo Bee5 Toronto Launch

Sasha Exeter - Bugaboo Bee5 Toronto Launch

Sasha Exeter - Bugaboo Bee5 Toronto Launch

Sasha Exeter - Bugaboo Bee5 Toronto Launch

Sasha Exeter - Bugaboo Bee5 Toronto Launch

Sasha Exeter - Bugaboo Bee5 Toronto Launch

Bugaboo’s stroller lineup is legit impressive and trust me, this makes choosing one from the five current options not an easy task but from the looks of it, the bean may be lucky to have a couple set of wheels because I don’t think Réjean and I could survive without a running stroller as well. I believe what’s made the brand so popular amongst Mom’s and Dad’s alike is that there truly is a stroller for everyone. When it comes to personal style, everyone is unique in their own way when it comes to design preferences and aesthetics, so why should it be any different when it comes to your baby’s stroller right? What I love so much about Bugaboo is that the brand values the importance of individuality allowing you to “Show Your Style”  – meaning; whether your a “Fashionista”, “Dreamer”,  “Urbanite” or a “Health Nut” – like me, they’ve got you covered. Last week I got to kick off my partnership with the brand at the media launch of the new Bugaboo Bee⁵ at Planta with the most fab moms and moms-to-be in the city. It’s there where I got a deep dive on the most comfortable and stylish compact stroller currently on the market, while also getting pampered, noshing on the best vegan food, and customizing my very own Bugaboo embroidered bag.

Sasha Exeter - Bugaboo Bee5 Toronto Launch

I was so conditioned in the past to think of strollers as being heavy, clunky, difficult to maneuver, limiting and not at all stylish but the Bugaboo Bee⁵ will forever change the game for urban moms and dads like us. So yah, no embarrassing moments taking 20 minutes trying to open or close the stroller in a mall parking lot with a screaming baby on your hip or struggling to hop into an Uber or the subway during rush hour downtown. The super compact chassis has a one-hand, one-piece fold that makes things so ridiculously seamless, it’s going to make even me, clumsiest woman alive, look like a consummate pro on my first spin outside with the baby.

And while of course functionality is key, I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty damn amazing that the Bugaboo Bee⁵ is highly customizable, allowing me to mix and match with countless different colour options to help reflect my own personal style; from bold or minimal basics from the Core Collection, muted tones from the Premium Collection or the super adorable prints from the Signature Collection. My style is usually very minimal but I am loving the idea of treating the stroller as an accessory and having a pop of colour on the canopy. Now with all the basics covered on how this new and very much improved Bugaboo stroller is going to help lighten our load and enhance our new journey, in the upcoming weeks I will be moving on to the best part – choosing colour combos and accessories. So, stay tuned to find out how I showcase my #HealthNut stroller personality in our upcoming customized colour reveal and “buggy breakdown” soon!

For more information on the Bugaboo Bee⁵ and for some more stroller inspo head to Bugaboo.com and or follow the hashtags #BugabooBee5 and #BugabooStyle on your Instagram.

My Botanical Skincare Regimen with Yves Rocher

When you become pregnant, the first thing you realize is almost every product you were using prior to conceiving has a warning label on the packaging that states, “Consult a physician if you are pregnant or breastfeeding“. This came as a huge shock to me. I like to consider myself to be relatively healthy, sticking to the better alternatives when it comes to what I put in my mouth and on skin, however I’ve been forced to take a deep dive into the skincare products I was using and had to essentially push 80% of the products in my old routine towards the back of my bathroom cabinet – temporarily. Ok sure, most people that are marginally intelligent would assume that products containing retinol, benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid and other ingredients for fighting acne would be strongly prohibited when you’re with child, but like who knew one has to also be cautious about other hidden ingredients essential oils?

In late 2016, I re-discovered Yves Rocher. I say “re-discovered” because I’ve known about the brand for as long as I can remember but had never been actually acquainted first hand with their products until last summer. So what attracted me to the heritage French company that was started 50 years ago? Yves Rocher pioneered botanical beauty and unlike their competitors, their uniqueness lies in the fact that they also control every single step of the production cycle, essentially allowing them to guarantee the highest quality and safety in all their products, while also being mindful and reducing the impact they have on the environment along the way. Trust me, I found all this hard to believe when I first did my research but later learned that this botanical based skincare brand is only possible because of Yves Rocher’s investment into their very own botanical garden at their headquarters in La Gacilly, France. And if that’s not enough, their own botanists and ethnobotonists whose main job is to scour the five continents in search of the most efficient and innovative plant derived ingredients for optimal looking skin.

I often giggle out loud  when I tell my much younger friends how much my skincare routine has changed over the last decade. I am almost embarrassed to say this but in my twenties I was barely getting away with using only two products on my face and one didn’t really even constitute a real facial moisturizer as I was somehow lathering whatever lotion I was using on my body for my face. Yikes! And toner…I didn’t even know what the hell that was at the time. Well, I guess you can say that I am older and much wiser now, taking way more time these days with pre-cleansing, exfoliating, toning, hydrating, and moisturizing my skin. I am a firm believer that it’s not necessary to commit your entire beauty regimen to just one line of products and Yves Rocher has become the perfect compliment to the rest of my lengthy, but necessary, routine. Here’s a little look into my current rotation of botanical beauty products.

First things first, just simply using a cleanser won’t clear all the debris, makeup and dirt off your face. I learned this one the hard way. For years, I thought my gel cleansers were doing an adequate job of removing all traces of dirt to only discover at times I was still leaving remains of the day’s makeup behind on my white pillowcases.  Now, I resort to a few things to ensure I get a deep clean both morning and night. I start by using the Hydra Végétal Facial Wipes. They are great at prepping my face for the next step while also moisturizing at the same time and I always follow up with the White Botanical Exceptional Cleansing Oil. It sounds a bit much before even using my gel cleanser I know, but I’ve found it to be crucial. Also using a cleansing spin brush when washing my face with Yves Rocher’s Hydra Végétal Refreshing Cleansing Gel.

Once the clean is all clean, that’s when the real magic happens. Women all love exfoliators. At least for me, I always feel that the grainy texture is going the extra mile to slough away dead skin and dirt. And what’s better than exfoliation? Custom exfoliation thanks to the brand’s Scrub to Mix product, that adapts to the needs of your skin. With seven magical ingredients, mixed with your desired amount of water (or even paired with a cleanser) it never fails at leaving skin unbelievably clean, soft and fresh. Leaving my face prepped for the next step using my go-to toner.

Photography by Bettina Bogar

For the last several months I have been testing out the brands Sensitive Végétal line of products in an effort to be even more kinder to my skin. Tested under strict dermalogical supervision, the products contain no colorants, parabens or perfumes, so basically music to a mom-to-be’s ears. The line’s key ingredient, Sigesbeckia Orientalis, works wonders in soothing, repairing and protecting even the most reactive skin and at a time when your pregnancy hormones are raging, gentle skincare is much welcomed. This line’s Soothing Cleansing Milk is just another layer of safety making sure my skin is completely clean and after applying my go-to serum boosters. I’ve been rounding out my daily routine with both Sensitive Végétal’s Targeted Comfort Eye Care, two generous pumps of the Intense Soothing Concentrate topped off with the Soothing Moisturizing Cream…and I love to go a little heavier on the latter at nighttime for extra hydration leaving my skin looking and feeling amazing by the morning.

To discover more about the brand’s very extensive line of products, retail & spa locations or to order online, head to YvesRocher.ca 

Road Trip to PEC’s Drake Dev Fuelled By Costa Coffee at Shell

I’ve done my fair share of road trips over the years and often times prefer the journey behind the wheel rather than flying and spending unnecessary commute time sitting in airports, but having done so many, I have learned through trial and error that there are a few key elements that go into making a road trip not only bearable but fun – a comfy ride, the right company, good tunes (hello XM Satellite radio) and of course coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

In an effort to spend some much needed quality time together, the mister and I took take a day trip to Prince Edward County in partnership with Costa Coffee at Shell to explore the adorable town two hours outside of Toronto and to be amongst one of the first to have a Costa experience here in Canada. So here’s the honest to goodness truth, I quit drinking my daily perquisite of 4-5 cups of coffee a day a little over a year ago, which bummed out my boyfriend because his coffee obsession is next level but from time to time, I still treat myself to a good cuppa joe. Rejean on the other hand my friends, is well known for his coffee obsession and was the perfect partner in crime to taste test hot bevies from the UK coffee chain that has gained a devout following of coffee lovers since opening it’s first shop in 1971. We won’t be expecting stand-alone Costa Coffee shops, well not soon anyways, but instead the brand has installed innovative, state-of-the-art, self serve bars where you can get quality barista style coffee on-the-go at select Shell gas stations here in Canada. I know you’re probably thinking there is just no way coffee at a gas station can rival the premium roasts found in the city’s most loved coffee shops but this is exactly why I had my guy’s discerning coffee palette on hand for some taste testing. To be quite honest, the promise of keeping him caffeinated helped me get him out of bed at 5:30am on a Sunday morning!

The self-serve bar is a far cry from coffee stands in most gas stations with an easy to use, beautiful touchscreen display with more than 250 drink combinations that allows you to easily create any of your fave hot beverages you would normally order during your daily stop in at your local coffee shop like espressos, ristrettos, macchiatos, cortados, cappuccinos, americanos, chai and vanilla lattes. Not a coffee lover? No problem! Costa Express at Shell has you covered with non-caffeinated options like white and black teas and even flavoured hot chocolates. The best part – as you wait for your customized beverage to be created, mini surround sound speakers play jazz music and also mimic normal background sounds one might here in a cafe (i.e. baristas at work preparing drinks) to give you that coffee shop feel which we thought was a hilarious and very cute added touch.

So with both our Cadillac XT5 and our bodies fuelled up with americanos and vanilla lattes at Shell, we were ready to tackle the snow covered 401 eastbound to beautiful PEC. Last Sunday’s snow storm put a bit of a monkey wrench in some of the surprises I had up my sleeve for Rejean with so many of the stores and wineries closed down but we are Canadian so I wasn’t going to let the weather stop us from having some fun at the Drake Devonshire Inn on the Lake. PEC is a magical little place that I discovered a few years back and have made it a yearly tradition to make the trek down in the summer to spend time at beaching at Sandbanks Provincial Park but this was my first time being in the area during the winter season. After taking a look at the current activities the Drake Dev had going on, I was pleasantly surprised to see morning Vinyasa Yoga classes which was truly the catalyst for our ridiculously early departure from Toronto. With hour long vinyasa flows offered a couple days a week with instructor Sam Ravenda in the beautiful “Glass Box” space in addition to their newly offered Devonshire Detox Weekend Yoga Retreats, the Drake Dev is a prime spot for all you yoga lovers to get your zen on. We spent a lot of time walking the exterior of the property, which is lakeside, and during the winter is as close as you’re going to get to feeling like you are in a snow globe. It’s absolutely stunning (if you can brave the cold temps) but we cheated the cold by fire pit with piping hot Costa Coffee.

Known for their 13 kitchy guest rooms, the countryside retreat is equally known for their food and drinks. The hotel boasts five menus that focus on seasonal, crowd pleasing dishes and upscale comfort foods with insanely delicious brunch options, served all day on Sundays that include my favourite- apple compote and fresh creme buttermilk pancakes, chill-maple glazed friend chicken with pecan waffles and a breakfast burger. And oh the drinks…the wine list boasts whites and reds from some of the top vineyards across PEC, natch and cocktails that kept Rejean and our friend Jess content like infused bourbon and maple syrup, classic Manhattan’s and epic caesars.

Post brunch we lounged in the “living room” which houses the Drake Dev’s permanent and rotating art exhibits that are commissioned by both local and international artists that create work which visually reflects, interprets and enhances the Drake Dev experience. The exhibit’s current rotation on now is called “About Face” and will run until March 14th, 2017. It features pieces from artists shedding new light on the faces that surround them, in the forms of various portraiture; painting, photography, textile and sculpture. After the rest of our property tour, we headed back to the Glass Box for a several rounds of ping pong, cocktails (Mocktails only for this designated driver!) and many, many laughs before heading safely back to the city.

Photography by JessBaumung.com

Want to elevate your commute with quality Costa Coffee now available at Shell? Click here to find a Costa Coffee at Shell location near you!

Joe Fresh #MakeYourMove Collection Week 2

ICYMI, last week I excitedly announced the launch of the curated activewear looks I did with everyone’s favourite accessible retailer Joe Fresh. Full of versatile separates that allow you to mix and match, the collection creates an endless wardrobe of clothes for your workouts at an such an affordable price it will legit blow your mind. Week #1’s was all about classic layering pieces and essentials for spring’s transitional weather that can easily take you to any of your favourite studio classes and workouts (in case you missed it, click here). This week it’s all about adding pop’s of colour, to help us get out of our winter ruts and finding the perfect tight and sports bra for support for our go-to workouts.

As seen on JoeFresh.com 

Tights were the topic of discussion in so many of my snapchat and instagram stories last year, resulting in tons of woman weighing in on what the “perfect tight” is for them. I have been famously known to dislike crops, advocating for the full length because of my long legs however I have become fond of the also flattering 7/8th and I am happy to say that all the full length tights in this collection are tall girl approved. They are also high waisted, like the Melange leggings pictured above,  giving adequate coverage when your bending forward during workouts or yoga poses. But let’s be real, the root of most women’s issues with activewear is finding the right sports bra that provides the right amount of support while still looking flattering. The push-up sports bra (shown above) and the pull-on active bra are my favourites – both under $20.

Photography by Jess Baumung for JoeFresh.com

Reflective Active Jacket $39  –  Push-Up Sports Bra $19  –  Scoop Neck Active Tank $16  –  Stripe Active Tee $29  –  High Waist Melange Active Legging $29  –  Mesh Insert Active Legging $29

Check back here every Monday over the next month as I will be sharing a new look each week built around my fave pieces from the new collection, which will do doubt be yours as well. For more of my #MakeYourMove curated looks and to view the entire Joe Fresh activewear collection head to JoeFresh.com/MakeYourMove.

The Meghan Markle for Reitmans Collection You Need This Fall

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

Megan Markle for Reitmans

Megan Markle for Reitmans

Megan Markle for Reitmans

Megan Markle for Reitmans

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

Megan Markle for Reitmans

Megan Markle for ReitmansPhotography by JessBaumung.com for Reitmans

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

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

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

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

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

Apple TV Fitness Apps

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

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

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

Apple TV fitness apps

Fitness Focused Apps

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

Zova:

Apple TV Fitness AppsPhotography by JessBaumung.com

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

Daily Burn:

Apple TV Fitness Apps

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

Grokker:

Apple TV fitness apps

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

Cody:

Apple TV Fitness Apps

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

Honourable Mentions

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

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

Manulife Vitality: Life Insurance That Rewards Your Healthy Lifestyle

What do you live for?” is a question I was recently asked at work while discussing an upcoming project and a million thoughts and answers rushed into my head at once. Family, love, unity, peace, and health were just a few of the words that immediately came to mind. Sure, I do a pretty good job at taking good care of myself by eating well, working out and staying active, but I have not been thinking about my future in regards to my family/loved ones after I pass. I have always found it difficult to think about death and what happens following but now that I have started thinking about starting a family at some point, the topic can no longer be avoided.

As we grow older, get married, build families and even start businesses, you come to realize that life insurance is a fundamental part of a sound financial plan. For some reason our generation doesn’t normally think about life insurance for ourselves until we are forced to and truth be told, up until a few weeks ago, I did not have a life insurance policy of my own. Turns out, life insurance is more affordable than you may think, so there’s no excuse why more can’t entertain obtaining coverage before any these milestones.

Trust me, I know the idea of life insurance can be daunting or better yet, confusing and it’s hard to know what you really need or want. So here are four reasons why you should be considering it:

  1. To add financial security. Trust me, once you decide to have children, you will want to know your kids (and partner) will be taken care of when your gone.
  2. To protect your family and loved ones if they depend on your financial support for their livelihood. In this instance, it will replace your income when you pass.
  3. To leave an inheritance.  Even if you don’t have any other assets you can create an inheritance for your loved ones by purchasing a life instance policy and name beneficiaries.
  4. To bring peace of mind. No amount of money could ever replace a person. Period. There aren’t many things in life that are guaranteed, but having life insurance can help provide protection for the uncertainties

Photo by Darren Goldstein/DSG Photo.

That being said, I recently discovered Manulife Vitality – a life insurance program that actually rewards people for leading a healthy, balanced lifestyle. For those of you who make a conscious effort to stay active, workout and eat clean, these dividends plus the affordable program options just may encourage some of you to begin thinking about life insurance as well, sooner rather than later. This past Tuesday, I got a chance to help kick off the launch of the Vitality program in Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square, alongside dear family friend, Mike “Pinball” Clemons, Vice Chair of the Toronto Argonauts. The theme/question of the day was, “What do you live for?” and visitors at the event got to share their answers with the Former Argo QB and two time coach. The Manulife branded pop-up had fun, fitness focused activations and visitors were able to get free bike tune-ups, discover TRX exercises with the help of Goodlife Fitness staff, jump into the boxing ring with Pinball to test out Canada’s first ever “Workout Computer”, receive prizes/giveaways and learn more about why Manulife Vitality may be a suitable option for life insurance.

So how does it work exactly? After purchasing a product with Manulife Vitality, you are then required to fill out the Vitality Health quiz online to see how your health measures up against your age. Through this process, you’ll be given your Vitality Age, which could actually be higher or lower than your real age and serves as an indication for your overall health. Part of what makes the program unique is customization – and seriously who doesn’t love products or services created just for them? One of the best parts about Vitality is that once the system has gathered all your lifestyle and health data; a customized, goal oriented program is created to encourage and inspire people to make healthier choices by using convenient and easy-to-use tools. Manulife has have even partnered up with Garmin to include a free wearable tracking device to make tracking healthy activities a breeze. And not to worry all you Apple Watch and Fitbit lovers out there – you can connect these devices to the Vitality system as well!

Manulife Vitality

As you may assumed by now, Vitality program status is simply based on the number of Vitality points you earn each year which results in a tiered system; Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. This status is used to determine a member’s eligibility for rewards and to calculate their annual cost of insurance. By being active, getting regular health screenings and even reading online health related materials, earns more Vitality Points when you track them using the easy online tools provided to members or the Manulife Vitality mobile app. Intrigued yet? If you’re interested in learning more information on the Vitality program or would like to sign-up for your own customized life insurance, head to manulifevitality.ca

This post is sponsored by Manulife, but all thoughts and opinions are my own!

Up Close & Personal With Yours Truly in LouLou Magazine

Through SoSasha.com and social media I get a chance to share parts of my life and amazing experiences with my followers, but I have come to realize that although you all love the brand experiences and story telling, you’re also very interested in learning the little things about me…the quirks, idiosyncrasies, guilty pleasures, what motivates me or how I stay motivated and a bit more about my personal life. I sat down with LouLou Magazine not too long ago, for a rapid-fire Q&A session where I got to dish on what’s in my handbag, my favourite workout partners, what makes me “happy”, The Kardashians and much more.
#366DaysOfLooks
In case you missed it, I am currently collaborating with the magazine on their #366DaysOfLooks project. Catch up on all my favourite OOTD’s by heading to LouLouMagazine.com/SashaExeter.
Follow

Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: