Post-Winter Hydration

I know that February is the shortest month, but it seems that the first two months of 2017 just flew by. And that just means we’re that much more closer to spring! However, during this winter, as with every winter, the moisture-sucking climate has taken a real toll on my already very dry skin. Regardless of skin type, taking care of yourself and staying hydrated is important for everyone. Here are a few tips to get your hair, skin, nails, and everything else feeling lush and rejuvenated for what seems like an early spring.

Photo: borbotta.com

Hair

My hair is very thick and curly so it needs a whole lot of lovin’. Using an olive oil or coconut oil treatment once a week helps restore your damaged, dry hair. It’s important to do this especially if you use hot tools regularly. These oils are good for all hair types. Be sure to read the label to make sure they’re 100% oil — no added nonsense.

When applying, massage the oil into your hair, starting at the ends and working your way up into the scalp. Wait for a minimum of 30 minutes, then make sure to shampoo and rinse at least twice to get all the oil out. Of course, there are other products out there that help with dry and damaged hair — it’s just a matter of finding out what works for you. Our contributor Meg is trying out Curl Shoppe products right now, check out her weekly updates over on our Instagram.

Photo: petapixel.com

Skin

I have reeaaally dry skin, if you didn’t get that already. So I’ve decided not to be so lazy about my skincare (out of necessity) and am now on the lookout for the perfect moisturizer. I’ve been using the tried and true Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief to get rid of any flakiness or tightness on my face (especially under my eyes and around my mouth) before I use the Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion+. I feel like sometimes face moisturizers can be really thick, leaving you feeling like there’s just a layer of it on top of your skin, clogging your pores. Clinique has a lightweight formula that sinks into my skin and does its job. I also apply grape seed oil on my face every couple of days to help with dry patches. It has no scent and is a non-comedogenic, which means it doesn’t clog pores.

Don’t forget your lips in all of this! I usually just mix a tablespoon of brown sugar — granulated will do fine — with some olive oil or honey. Gently scrub this mixture on your lips and leave it on for a minute, then wash it off with warm water and apply lip balm.

Photo: beautyheaven.com.

Nails

If I don’t take care of my nails, they can get real brittle, especially during winter with the lack of moisture in the air. I apply Vitamin E oil to my fingernails and massage it in, to stimulate blood supply. I also use moisturizing hand creams, often with shea or coconut oil, which also helps with the dry and brittle nail problem. You can also create a soak with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to help strengthen your nails. Olive oil penetrates nail cuticles to repair and strengthen the nail while lemon juice helps restore damage and gives your nails a bright sheen.

You should also use nail polish removers that are “acetone-free.” Granted, it takes more time to remove the polish, but acetone is really drying so it might be worth it.

Photo: womensok.com

Body

Exfoliate, moisturize, repeat. Exfoliation is a major part of skincare and once you get into it, you’ll notice the difference. You can always buy body scrubs from the store but making an all-natural exfoliant is a lot easier than you think — as long as you have sugar in your pantry. Don’t pay an arm and a leg for a trendy coffee scrub. Click here to learn how to make your own using just sugar, coffee, and the leftover coconut oil from your hair treatment.

Your Insides

You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again. Drinking water is the best thing you can do for your body and hydration. It’s good for every external and internal parts of you. Winter increases the risk of dehydration because more moisture is lost through the respiratory evaporation.

Flow Water is 100% natural Canadian spring water and has a naturally high pH, which offsets modern acidic diets, and electrolytes to keep your body more hydrated. Flow also provides healthful properties such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium carbonate. You can pick up a bottle of Flow in your local grocery store, and if you live in Toronto or Vancouver you can order weekly deliveries and have it brought to your doorstep in an eco-friendly BMWi3.

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Spring Break Packing Essentials

It’s that time again where you leave your books and papers behind and jump on a plane to a beach or the mountains. You’ve booked your flight, bought 10 swimsuits, and the only thing left to do is pack. If you’re someone who overpacks but is also prone to forgetting something, we’ve created a list of packing essentials. Now these are only the basics that you really need on a vacation. It’s easy to overpack clothing, and shoes that take up valuable suitcase space. When I was packing things “just in case”, I was only creating more unnecessary baggage I had to lug around. Now I stick to basics. I usually bring a carry on suitcase, and either a backpack (if I need to bring my laptop) or a really big tote, which doubles as a beach bag. You won’t be worried about all the things you didn’t bring when you’re living hakuna matata on the beach anyway. So here it is, my packing essentials for spring break:

In your backpack/tote:

  • Laptop and Charger: Only if you really need it. There’s really no reason you would unless the internet is your job.
  • Phone and Charger: You should probably save all your photos and videos to your laptop before you go.
  • Earphones: Also great for when you don’t want to talk to strangers on the plane.
  • Makeup Bag: You don’t want to overpack your makeup either. Give your skin a vacation too and leave the contour kit behind. You’ll be bronzed in no time anyway.
  • Sunscreen and Skin Care: Sunscreen is important. You know that. Also try and get travel sized skin care products or buy travel sized bottles so you can transfer some in there and bring those instead.
  • Any Medication: You might need a doctor’s prescription or a note just in case.
  • Wallet: Most preferably the wristlet variety for the nights out
  • Passport and a Copy of Your Passport: It’s important to have your passport on you at all times when travelling, but we all know you’ll lose it so lock the real thing in your hotel and carry around a copy. Better safe than sorry.

In your Carry-on:

Clothing:

  • 3 Tops:  This includes any variation of tanks and tees.
  • 3 Bottoms: This includes any combination of cute shorts, versatile baggy pants, and maybe even a skirt. Remember, comfort is key.
  • A Jumpsuit: Speaking of comfort, a lightweight jumpsuit is the easiest thing to wear — it looks great, and doesn’t take up a lot of space.
  • A Dress: A colourful lightweight number or even an LBD could come in handy.
  • Bathing Suits: You can bring a couple, obviously. They don’t take up a lot of room and even if you’re not going to the beach, having one on hand doesn’t hurt if there’s a pool where you’re going.
  • A cover-up
  • Undergarments: No. Don’t pack 15 pairs of underwear.
  • A Hat: This is good as cover up for unflattering beach hair as well as keeping your face from getting sunburnt.
  • Shoes: I usually bring flip-flops, which are easy to wear, and going out shoes — you could bring a pair of comfortable heels or some flats which are easy to transport. I also usually bring a pair of running shoes and wear them on the way to wherever I’m going. This way, I don’t have to worry about making it fit in my luggage.
  • Travel Sized Hair Products
  • Hair Tools: I try to only bring a straightener.
  • Toothbrush and Toothpaste

On you:

I usually travel wearing a comfortable t-shirt, some baggy pants, and the pair of running shoes I mentioned before. I also bring a hoodie with me just in case it’s cold in the plane. There may be some chilly nights as well so it’ll come in handy then. Safe and fun travels!

Photo

Sympli: Real Women, Real Bodies

Shopping for clothes can get frustrating and leave women feeling inadequate about their bodies. Often, we find ourselves adjusting our body shape to fit the clothes and not the other way around.

Jan Stimpson and Abbey Stimpson, a dynamic mother daughter duo decided to challenge the norm by coming out with a universal line for women of all shapes and sizes. Jan had been designing clothes for 40 years prior, and Abbey soon followed. From helping lay fabric on the cutting board to working with her mom in between soccer practices as a teenager to make some extra cash, she grew up in the business. Together, they built their BC-based brand Sympli, which stands behind positive body image and caters to all women. Sympli was the first Canadian brand to design a universal line for women of all body types and ages as well as introduce a plus size line.

Behind its success is the long and time consuming process in creating a line that was accommodating to all kinds of bodies while still maintaining some shape to it. When asked about creating the line, Jan Stimpson stated “I had always designed clothes for every woman but as the years went by, the style just got a lot more form fitting, a lot tighter. It was very difficult for women, and I’m not talking full figured women, I’m just talking average women, to fit into anything.”

The name Sympli, refers to the everyday, simpler style of clothing the brand produces. It really is about designing a comfortable line that accommodated as many women as possible with cuts that were flattering for their body, as opposed to putting themselves in boxy t-shirts. This is how Sympli started,with some t-shirts and a few pants. They offer a slim fit, a relaxed fit, and a tunic fit that accommodated everyone. It was a nicely fit t-shirt that came in a variety of necklines and sleeve lengths.

That’s where they thrived. “Women loved it. They could finally shop and look great and feel great. Like the basic t-shirt that’s not just a box for somebody who had had a few kids and didn’t want to wear a skinny t-shirt.”

Along with the basics, Sympli now does tops and lighter weight jackets. Their first line of outerwear coats came out last year.  Their market reaches those who embrace the practicality of the line. Abbey states “Once women get around their 30s, they become a lot more open to the fact that fashion should be durable. They make more long term choices and they have more ethical values as to how and where their clothes were made and how long they last.”

Local production is an integral part of the process. The fabrication and local manufacturing allow for superior quality. “We’re not fast fashion so we don’t design our clothes to rotate off the shelf every couple of weeks. We will look at trends that are approachable in a body friendly way and try to include it in a way that won’t be out of style next year. Local production is really important to us and its gotten us to where we are today.”

Jan recalls the the hardest part of taking this approach to fashion is the process to actually accommodate all different body types and the rigorous process to do it authentically. More time is spent picking garments than actually designing them. The garments are fitted on a number of size 4s, 8s, 10s, 16s, etc. Even within size ranges, each body is different. It’s much easier to take the template form of the super thin model sitting in front of a white background. It’s easier to execute, cheaper and more readily available. “People know what’s working out there and they just essentially copy it. Our process is challenging and very time consuming,” says Jan. Around 95% of Sympli’s pieces are not computer generated.

Sympli also works with the Looking Glass Foundation and youth suffering with eating disorders. An automatic match with the message behind Sympli, the Looking Glass Foundation was founded by three mothers whose daughters had suffered from eating disorders. It was started in Deep Cove in Vancouver, where the Sympli got started as well. Passionate about people moving toward a healthier version of body image, the organization’s holistic approach to treating disorders is something both Jan and Abbey believe in. Their Hand in Hand program encourages a real support system between trained survivors and those who are suffering now. This allows for a more organic approach and support system for their journey to recovery.

Sympli challenges other companies to have the guts to display unique bodies, and a variety of healthy bodies. Jan states, “For women to embrace their own bodies and to enjoy it and be healthy and love yourself, the change starts from the way we feel within ourselves. As much as we like to blame the media, we have to take a look at what we stand for and what we’re attracted to, and what we try to be.”

 

My Capsule Wardrobe Diary Part 2

My Capsule Wardrobe Diary Part 2

It’s January 31st, and as promised, here is the update on my capsule wardrobe experiment. If you haven’t read my first post, click here so the rest of this makes sense. As mentioned before, I was allowed to wear 33 pieces for the month of January — this included clothing, accessories, and shoes. This part was fine for me. My outfits are already pretty monochromatic, and I wear the same thing everyday (not actually, but you know what I mean). The hardest part of this whole thing was actually putting on real clothes in the morning. I work from home so I’m usually in sweats and a baggy T-shirt. Honestly, I’m pretty stoked that this whole experiment is over. This is not to say I didn’t fail. There were 4 days I just didn’t want to leave my bed so I never bothered changing into civilian clothing. Don’t judge.

I did take a picture every day (except for the days I spent in bed — my bad) but I wore the same outfit a couple of times so I didn’t want to post doubles. I apologize for the dirt quality mirror pictures (and for never cleaning my mirror). However, sometimes I got my friend to come over and take pictures of me with her DSLR.

I did choose 33 pieces of clothing but I only ended up wearing 28:

Bottoms: A pair of leggings, a pair of tights, wide legged trousers, cinched waist trouser, and jeans —all black.

Tops: A sheer turtleneck, a black fitted tank top, a black chiffon v-neck tank, a black long-sleeve shirt, a black crop top, a black sweater, a white v-neck tank, and an LBD.

Coats and scarves: Two different black coats, a black blanket scarf, an oversized grey scarf, a light-weight military green coloured coat, and a black blazer.

Shoes and accessories: A pair of gold and black minimalist heels, black heeled boots with gold hardware, black mule shoes,  cherry Doc Martens (for when I had to go outside and shovel the snow), a black purse with gold hardware, a black envelope clutch, a gold cuff, a gold watch, and a choker necklace.

After this whole thing I learned some things:

  1. I should’ve maybe incorporated some colour. Literally everything was black, so it looked like I was wearing the same outfit all the time.
  2. I was basically wearing a scarf as an outfit a lot of the time. It was the easiest thing to do and in my head, if you wear one scarf ten different ways, it’s ten different outfits. I just wanted to be comfortable and the way to do that is to wear a blanket.
  3. I wish I had nicer pieces, and by that I mean better quality. I don’t have investment pieces and you can tell. I know I had to choose clothing I already had but if I was actually going to do this, I would hope I had some quality staple pieces.
  4. Going to the mall was the worst. I only went twice but I have no self control and wanted to buy everything, especially because I knew I couldn’t. If I buy something, I’ll want to wear it right away. Although the capsule wardrobe concept allow you to incorporate and replace pieces seasonally, you can’t keep adding to it. Going shopping was just dangerous.

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Super Bowl for People Who Don’t Care

Super Bowl is this Sunday. Huddled up in front of the screen are the ones who’ve watched the whole season, placed bets, and waited for the kickoff. Then there’s people like me, who don’t actually care. I’m there for the Halftime show and guacamole. Luckily, you don’t have to be into the game to get into the Super Bowl spirit! Here are a few tips to host a Super Bowl party for the uninterested, and impress the fanatics.

Photo:http://tipjunkie.com/best-super-bowl-party-ideas/

1. Set up a Photo Booth

Who doesn’t love a corny photo booth? Holding chalkboard signs and wearing stupid hats make for happy times. For a basic DIY photo booth, just cover the wall with a black sheet. Then give your photo booth a Super Bowl spin using football props. This includes football helmets, pom-poms in team colours, life size cutouts of your favourite players, etc. Photo booths are always guaranteed fun.

Photo: mydomaine.com/superbowl-party-ideas/slide10

2. Make a Chilli Spread

Photo: http://catchmyparty.com/photos/2178579

People love making their own variations of food. Having a chilli bar is an interactive way of serving food to your guests and everyone’s happy with their own customized chilli bowl. The first thing you need is of course, the chilli. It’s simple enough to make and is a versatile, hearty food made to satisfy everyone. You can lay out base ingredients such as tortilla chips, french fries and even hotdogs. Toppings include shredded cheese, sour cream, green onions, diced tomatoes, jalepenos, olives, guacamole- the list goes on. Don’t forget the condiments for the hotdogs if you choose to have them! You’ll end up with a massive spread that will look impressive, but took hardly any effort.

3. Decorate- A Little Goes a Long Way.

Photo: organizeyourstuffnow.com/football-banner

It’s the little things that make up the entire atmosphere of your party. Hanging garlands and bundting are a party staple that’s sure to get you in the spirit. It can be as simple as cutting triangles out of construction paper in team colours and stringing them together.

Photo: www.countryliving.com

You can get crafty at the snack table also. It’s amazing how 4 pieces of white washi tape can turn anything into a football. Stick one long piece of tape down one side of a mason jar or clear plastic cup. Then stick three other shorter pieces of tape horizontally under each other so it looks like the stitching on a football. You can pretty much do this to anything, including the jars you can use to hold utensils.

 

4. DIY Your Own Concession Stand

Photo:http://tipjunkie.com/best-super-bowl-party-ideas/

This is a cute idea, especially if you’ve got a sweet tooth. Chocolate covered strawberries never get old. Dipping strawberries in melted chocolate is simple enough. Super Bowl them up by making them look like footballs by drawing on football stitching with melted white chocolate or white candy wafers. Use a piping bag with a really small tip or just cut a tiny hole at the end of a Ziploc bag to draw the lines. You can do this to brownies, cake pops, pretzels the tops of cupcakes, etc.

Photo: www.redbookmag.com

If you’re tired of the white, green and brown and looking to add a bit of colour, make Rice Krispie balls in team colours (learn how to make them here). You can also make some gourmet looking popcorn using sugar, corn syrup and food colouring- recipe here. These are all extra touches that will make your party delicious for the eyes and mouth.

 

 

Whether you love the game, or the only thing you’re watching are the commercials, time spent together with family and friends is always a good time. Hopefully these ideas will give all of you Martha Stewart wannabes (including me) some inspiration. Happy Super Bowl-ing!