A Round-up of Beauty Finds

From Nathalie

Pour le Monde Perfumes

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You know that I love perfume with a passion bordering on obsession.  I’ve collected perfumes that smell like books, paper and libraries, and I’ve hosted a perfume-themed book club.  Little wonder, then, that when the chance came to sample a new line of all-natural perfumes, I jumped at the chance.

Pour le Monde is a line of fragrances created by Wendi Berger, because when she was pregnant, she struggled to find a fragrance that was not synthetic.  The perfumes are animal cruelty free, vegan and pregnancy safe.  Even better, 10% from each bottle sold is donated to charity (National MS Society, Cancer Support Community and Guiding Eyes for the Blind/Heeling Autism).

The perfumes are crisp, light and crystal clear, and I loved wearing all three.  Envision is a blend of lavender, bergamot and peppercorn; Together is a woodsy floral; Empower is a unisex citrus.  These perfumes tick all the boxes for me: mom-made, all-natural and charity-supporting.

 

From Beth-Anne

Artist Liner – Make Up For Ever

It’s no secret that I love Make Up For Ever but this Graphic Liner is something that every make-up lover needs to have in their bag of goodies. First off, its ultra fine-tip makes applying a clean and precise line easy-peasy for beginners or those intimidated by eye make-up. If you have a flair for the cat-eye or like to embellish it, this liner is the one you want to be using, and just like in true Make Up For Ever fashion, the colour is perfect and won’t smudge.

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Proraso Sandalwood Shaving Cream

I may or may not have a history of sneaking my husband’s razor and shaving cream. I don’t do it often but when I do he always seems to know that I’ve used it. He’s like that princess from that fairy tale, the Princess and the Pea. You can’t really blame me because I love the light fragrance of this foaming cream that is rich in Vitamin E so my legs feels nourished and not scaly or dry. It’s made with natural ingredients including sandal oil and karité butter. Proraso also carries a line of men’s products for beard and moustache care in addition to shaving and brushes.

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Mondor tights

What does a taxi driver, men’s micro-shorts and figure skating all have in common? Mondor, a hosiery company from Iberville, Quebec. Mondor sent me a pair of tights to try-out. I will admit to being skeptical that they could be that good. I’ve never been loyal to any brand of tights. I have always found that they never fit according to the chart on the back: the crotch too low or the waistband too high and cutting. Inevitably they all seem to lose their shape and the cheapies always run even with the lightest touch. Mondor has made a convert out of me. The tights fight beautifully, maintain their shape and are durable. It’s no wonder they are a favourite with athletes, including dancers and figure skaters.

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Yoga Jeans, Harem pant

Have you seen these Harmen pants from Yoga Jeans? I am obsessed and can’t wait to get my hands on a pair. I have a feeling these will be my go-tos come the spring/early summer when relaxing on weekends. If you’re more stylish than I am, these would pair well with heels and a blazer. I just need to grow a few more inches to pull that look off!

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Disclaimer: Make Up For Ever and Mondor both sent me their products to try, but trust me, I only write about what I love and what I think you’ll love too.

Building a Maternity Wardrobe from Scratch by guest blogger, Aly Tsourounis

Our guest today is Aly Tsourounis of the blog The Newlywed Life, a lifestyle blog for the healthy living. Aly is a soon-to-be mom and she opens up about the surprises (shocks!?) of being pregnant, the information overload and the food cravings. Today Aly shares her favourite fashion finds for the expectant mom. Be sure to follow Aly on her blog as she chronicles life as a first-time mom.

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Building a maternity wardrobe from scratch:

When I first got pregnant I was thrilled with idea of getting bigger and I planned on always showing off my perfect basketball bump in designer denim and fitted shirts. Spoiler alert, bumps aren’t adorable until at least month five and pregnancy boobs need their own postal code, plus maternity clothes are darn expensive. After some trial and error, a few unfortunate outfits and some credit card “discussions” with my husband, I have created a focused yet cute maternity wardrobe (see selfie photo evidence below). Here are my steps on how to create a maternity wardrobe from scratch.

Step one – Identify your maternity wardrobe needs: On a weekly basis, I need four different “outfit types” – work, weekend lounge wear, workout wear and date night / night out. There is certainly some cross over but highlighting the different occasions that I needed clothes for helped me focus and discouraged me from buying too many striped long sleeve t-shirts when I only need one.

Step two – Assess your current wardrobe: I spent a weekend afternoon going through my entire closet and determined what would last me through my pregnancy and what needed to be put into storage. Things that stayed: blazers, cardigans, long tank tops, a couple stretchy tops / dresses and most of my workout gear. Be harsh, now is not the time to keep your skinny jeans or fitted LBD.

Step three – Create a list and a budget: This step involves numbers and is a bit boring but it is key, especially since you will be wearing this clothing for such a short period of time. My biggest money-saving tip is to consider sizing up in certain items, especially basics. For example, I bought a number of plain black and white size large tank tops from Forever 21 for $5 / a piece and I wear them daily. Why spend $50 when the $5 one can do the trick? This also allowed me to splurge on a pair of dark denim designer jeans that I wear three times a week. Do your research and don’t get sucked into the everything must be maternity mindset.

Step four – Go shopping!: The last step is obviously the most fun! There are tons of options out there when it comes to maternity clothes, from the traditional to the trendy so be sure to take your time shopping and don’t spend all your money in one place! I have found great pieces from a number of stores including Target (Liz Lange), H + M (regular), Motherhood Maternity, ASOS Maternity, Forever 21 and Ani & Wren.

Step five – Own it: Experiencing pregnancy is a beautiful thing but it can also be really hard to see your body go through so many changes. Having clothes that make you feel good can make a huge difference but remember, you wear the clothes, the clothes don’t wear you. So to all the pregnant mamas out there, hold your head up high and push those bellies out!

Hitting the gym

Hitting the gym!

Date night!

Date night!

Work wear

Work wear

Building a Wardrobe by guest blogger, Iva Grebesic

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Our guest today is Iva Grebesic of the popular fashion blog, Falling in Style. If Iva looks familiar it’s because you’ve probably seen her on Steven and Chris or Cityline sharing the latest and greatest in functional fashion for every day life. In addition to being a contributor Yorkdale Style Council, Fashion Magazine Style Panel and Brazen Woman, she is a mom to 4 busy children. Follow Iva on Instagram where she shows that women of any age can be fashionable.

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Thank you for that wonderful introduction. When building any wardrobe it is an investment – in time and money. That investment needs to work for us and in today’s busy world work for multiple occasions. I am a firm believer that we all need some key pieces in all our closets and today I’ll tell you what mine are. The one thing I want everyone to remember is that basics are a starting point to build upon. When buying anything think of FIT, everything in our closets should fit properly. If it doesn’t, no matter what a great deal it was or how little we paid, it won’t look good on us and we won’t wear it. A deal is only a deal if we wear the clothes.

Even when selecting the basic items in our wardrobe everything should be a reflection of who we are, clothing is just a way of expressing ourselves. Life is too short to be wearing bad outfits. To me that means no woman’s personality is defined by an oversized t-shirt and yoga pants.

  1. Dark Denim Jeans – Every woman should own one pair of great jeans. They should be a dark wash because you can dress them down or wear them out for a fun night. When it comes to cut everyone is different, I prefer a boot cut or skinny. Another great option is a trouser jean which, like the name suggests, is cut like a great pair of classic trousers. If you want to get out of your comfort zone try a pair of boyfriend jeans.
  2. A Classic Blazer – I own way too many blazers (I’m going to say between 15 or 20) but you only need one, just don’t tell my husband. I would recommend a navy blue one or black. A neutral blazer can be work with jeans, pants, skirts and dresses. It takes a casual outfit to the next level and makes you look pulled together.
  3. Little Black Dress or LBD – before I go further I am going to say it doesn’t have to be black but a dark neutral colour, navy blue, dark grey or a rich brown are all great options. I recently bought the perfect LBD from Pink Tartan. If you are finding it hard to find the perfect dress I would recommend Dress Mavens (dressmavens.com) a perfect bespoke option.
  4. Dress Pants – you can also call them trousers or slacks. The style you pick is based on your body type but one good pair should launch a thousand looks. Pair them with blouses, sweaters, cardigans or even t-shirts. The possibilities are endless. My favourite colour? It has to be a classic pair in navy blue.
  5. Pencil Skirt – I find a pencil skirt universally flattering, no matter what your shape there is one out there for you. If you are not in a corporate environment I say ditch the black or navy blue and try a fun colour or pattern. You already have a LBD and a pair of dark neutral slacks so have some fun!
  6. Classic Pumps – colour options when building your wardrobe may seem limited but will offer investment pieces that will last years. So for pumps, pointy toe or almond toe heels in black or nude will offer versatility.

Once you have the basics add jewelry, pretty tops with graphics and pretty details and enjoy. Never take yourself too seriously, you’ll miss all the fun.

Pink Tartan LBD 1

 

Chico's Add On 3

 

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The War on Sugar-AHHHHHH By Guest Bloggers, Leigh and Meg

IMG_0896-737x735Our guests this week are Leigh and Meg from the popular motherhood blog, Me and Meg. Leigh and Meg blog about ups and downs of motherhood with just the right amount of snark. They are witty, humble and kick-ass at Cross Fit (and other fitness-y things!). Think you’ve heard of them? I wouldn’t be surprised because they are contributors to Global Morning Show, Parentdish.ca and “What She Said” Canada Talks on SiriusXM Radio.

Thank you ladies for giving us your two cents on this topical issue.

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The War on sugar is real! We fight it daily with our kids. Our war consists mainly of our kids asking for some sugar-laden snack and us saying “no”.  We are very conscious of how much they consumer daily. That means water is what you can find in their bottles always and they rarely get anything at the arena snack bar – we are real drags as mothers.

It doesn’t stop at sugar, what about preservatives! There is a whole world of bad food out there worth avoiding….

What we have seen happen in our children’s school is an increase use of candy as a reward in class, quite the opposite of a sugar ban.

With so many “fads”  one can prescribe to now and ever-changing research on the food industry it’s difficult to say what is the right choice or the “most” healthy for our children – just ask a vegetarian or talk to someone who adheres to a paleo diet. Could you find a larger chasm in what is nutritional and optimal for our health than that? Recently we read that it’s not sugar itself that is the nasty school yard
bully but sugar and fat TOGETHER. Right okay. Like ice cream, give us some. Our kids go crazy over it too. Do we think it’s bad for their overall health? No.

Do we think a world where schools do not allow sugar is the right choice? No, that’s ludicrous. The path to a healthy lifestyle involves moderation, which means having the odd juice box, and treat. We are better off teaching our kids what healthy choices are and empowering them to make well-balanced decisions.

The schools should focus on a holistic approach to health, remember getting changed for gym class? We do. Our kids don’t do that. Let’s bring back physical activity EVERYDAY in our schools and not make any one food forbidden.

As for the  birthday treats at school-we say skip those too.

Banning Sugar In Schools Doesn’t Teach Healthy Habits

Not that long ago there was some discussion at the neighbourhood school my boys attend, how to greatly reduce the amount of sugar the students were consuming while on the premises.

A naturopathic doctor, also a parent to two young boys, gave a compelling presentation about the health and behaviour benefits to cutting back the white stuff, and successfully riled up the parent population with suggested action items.

I don’t know much, but I do know this: one sure-fire way to ignite controversy and polarize a group is to change-up the status quo.

Back when I was a kid, we’d walk the ten minutes to school in the pouring rain toting our umbrellas and like a growing snowball collect kids along the way and after school we’d knock on doors, ride bikes and play a good old fashioned game of kick the can. Not really, but you get the picture. We weren’t developing carpel tunnel syndrome by age 12 and taking selfies to document every minute of teenage angst.

When I was growing up sugar wasn’t the evil, it was fat and cholesterol. A few spandex clad mothers could be heard espousing the benefits of the 20-minute work-out, Jane Fonda and the AB Roller while pouring a healthy dollop of Lite salad dressing over iceberg lettuce. Butter, eggs, oils, red meat, all of it was eschewed until the mid 90s when Barry Spears revolutionize the diet world with The Zone and all of a sudden steak and eggs reclaimed their clout in the grocery cart.

As a kid I enjoyed donuts, candies and cupcakes.   Mrs. Dickson used to make the best cupcakes, with lots of icing and sprinkles so when it was her son’s birthday and she came into the classroom, I made sure to not be the last in the line-up. When a French teacher would toss out mini-sized chocolate bars for correct answers, we’d know that she was in a good mood and Mr. MacDonald used to let us pop balloons for prizes: a weekend with the class budgie, an afternoon in his chair, giant, over-sized chocolate bars our parents would never buy.

I used to peddle my bike to the corner store (about 15 minutes away and across a busy intersection) with my friends. We’d return our books to the library and then go the Village Market, to see how many Hot Lips and sour keys our change could buy us. A lot more than today’s pennies, that’s for sure.

But now I am a grown-up and I am the one making the decisions.

Do you want to know something? My shoulders are sore from the burden of expectations.

I have come a long way with not caring what people think about my parenting. The proof is in the pudding, I like to say, and I am playing the long game. I don’t always choose the healthiest or freshest or more local foods for my kids. In fact, last night they ate an entire party-sized pizza while they watched TV, and I basically ignored them to read the latest issue of Vanity Fair.

We have a treat bucket overflowing with candy and there it stays. My boys choose something from it once a day, but they could take it or leave it.   Sunday afternoons I bake something – cookies, brownies, macaroons, Hello Dollies – whatever the request but after the initial fanfare that accompanies the trays being pulled from the oven, the cookies will remain in the jar. Nibbled on, but never gorged. The piano teacher, friends popping by and play date guests are usually the ones to grab at the goods. For my kids, it’s part of the landscape, like the wallpaper. It’s just there.

Have you heard of Snowplow Parenting? If Helicopter parent was the term of yesteryear, then Snowplow parent is the term for now.

Snowplow parents: defined by some of the extremes they take in their children’s lives. When you take the snowplow route, you are teaching your child that someone will always step in to make things right, and therefore no initiative is required on the kid’s end.

That’s how I feel about removing sugar from schools. It doesn’t teach children how to make good choices it simply removes the obstacle for them. I am a believer that diets need to be balanced and healthy, and that includes sugar. It doesn’t mean scarfing down an entire box of Krispy Kremes (guilty!) on a regular basis but having a lollipop while watching a movie, is ok in my books.

It does get tricky in schools when parties and birthdays are celebrated with food, but that’s a learning opportunity in itself. Instead of banning sugary treats empower children with decision-making.  With parents and schools being more aware of and considerate of allergies, replacing birthday cupcakes for an non-edible treat (pencils, erasers, etc) is an obvious option.  There is also the option of a paper crown and singing Happy Birthday.  Simple.  But it’s about learning when and how to celebrate with treats.

It saddens me to see so many grown women (and some men) with unhealthy relationships with food, swinging from fad diet to fad diet, depriving themselves of food groups, binge eating; all of these behaviours leading to body image issues.

Here’s my question: With as much emphasis we’re placing on reducing sugar and getting our children active, why isn’t there more of an uproar over cut PE classes and revoked recesses (as punishment or to pack in more instructional time for core subjects)? Why do high school students only need one PE credit to graduate?

If I had things my way, we’d focus on healthy living where exercise is valued for more than just fitting into skinny jeans, where real food was consumed more than “fake food” and we would all chill out!

At Issue: Should Sugar Be Banned In Schools?

IMG_1436The war on sugar is full force. It seems impossible to turn on the news, stroll the supermarket or host a playdate without the topic of sugar rearing its head. In particular: kids’ consumption of sugar.

Recently a neighbourhood school has made a push to greatly reduce the amount of sugar permitted. Let’s face it, any time someone talks about banning, prohibiting, eliminating . . .people get feisty.

Efforts to reduce sugar in schools has been around for years, and in the case of a Georgia school, more than a decade. Proponents cite better overall health, fewer behavioural problems, and increased concentration to name just a few of the benefits. Principal of sugar-free pioneer school Browns Mill Elementary School said that within 6 months standardized test scores increased and behavioural incidents decreased. In time, students came to learn how to make good food choices and now broccoli is a favourite in the cafeteria. Advocates know that this is a huge undertaking – but they are playing the long game; quick to point out those efforts to reduce tobacco use in younger people has been successful over decades.

Nonetheless there are several opponents of the idea to limit sugar in schools, including researchers who report findings that suggest banning sugar in schools has little long term effect on a child’s overall sugar consumption and that changing attitudes in the home have a more lasting impact. In fact, Dr. John Sievenpiper says that negative messages like “don’t eat fat”, “don’t eat salt”, and “don’t eat sugar” may be doing more negative than good. He goes as far to blame the “don’t eat fat” message that was sweeping the nation in the 80s and 90s as one of the reasons for the current obesity epidemic. MaryAnn Tomovich, MS., RD agrees and believes that banning any specific food group creates a culture of fear and does nothing to ultimately educate our children. She, along with Dr. Michael Alderman, is a fan of the U diet: the basis being healthy, nutritious foods but allowing for some indulgences.

I am no health expert and my statistics grades will attest that a profession as a researcher is not in my future, but I do know parents. And I know how to quickly polarize a group of them.

So what do you think? Should schools ban all sugar? Are vending machines ok to get the heave-ho but school birthday cakes allowed? If a teacher gives out lollipops after a test or uses candies in a counting lesson, should they be reprimanded? Classroom parties: yay or nay in the presence of anything other than pretzels and veggie platters? What about fundraising? Fun Fairs? Bake sales? Is water the only acceptable beverage in the lunch bag?

Where is the line drawn and furthermore, who decides?

This week 4Mothers offers up our opinions and on Friday we’re joined by the dynamic duo Leigh and Meg of the blog Me and Meg.

As always we want to know that you think. What’s going on at your child’s school? Are you in favour of an all-out ban, gentle moderation or leaving it up to a parents to decide what is and isn’t too much sugar?

Join the conversation by leaving a comment on the blog, Facebook or Instagram.

For more reading:

(2014) Why Our Low-Fat, No-Sodium, Ban-Sugar Society May Be Making Us Fat

(2011) Banning Sugared Drinks in Schools Doesn’t Lower Student Consumption

(2011) Why Banning Foods In Schools Sends Kids the Wrong Message

(2008) 10 years later, school still sugar free and proud

 

 

Tried it: Barre3 By Guest Blogger Leigh from Me & Meg

Our guests this week are Leigh and Meg from the popular motherhood blog, Me and Meg. Leigh and Meg blog about ups and downs of motherhood with just the right amount of snark. They are witty, humble and kick-ass at Cross Fit. Think you’ve heard of them? I wouldn’t be surprised because they are contributors to Global Morning Show, Parentdish.ca and “What She Said” Canada Talks on SiriusXM Radio.

Thank you ladies for sharing your experience at Barre3.

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Meg and I have always loved exercising; that’s not to say that there hasn’t been times when we have totally lacked motivation or taken time off, we have. Our philosophy has always been simple: we were designed to move and we owe it to ourselves to do just that. It’s hard not get out of bed and workout when you think about what Rick Hansen and Terry Fox accomplished. Find someone who is doing a lot more with a lot less and suddenly your excuses melt away.

Meg and I both agree the key to keeping motivated is changing it up-and we don’t mean swapping the elliptical for the bike. We mean really shaking it up. We are both Crossfit and Olympic lifting coaches and that is something we consistently do. We love the variety of movements, and contrary to popular belief, it really is for everybody; our sixty year old mother does it!

We decided to start 2015 off by adding some new exercise disciplines into our repertoire. Enter Barre3. We are totally addicted. It’s like Yoga started dating a ballet dancer who also does Pilates. What do love most about it? First, the variety of workouts; by both the amount of time you have, and the part of the body you want to focus on. Meg and I love the Ballet Body Blast-who doesn’t want the long lines of a dancer? Second? You can do the workouts ANYWHERE. Between the mobile app and the on-line workouts you just can’t find an excuse not to do it.

imgresWe also appreciate the instructor’s pace and focus on integrity of movement, often times with at-home dvd’s there is not real instruction and you feel sort of lost, that’s not the case with the Barre3 on-line and mobile app workouts. If you live in the Toronto area, we recommend checking out the new Barre3 studio that opened. Aimee the owner, is a delight.

Our advice, cut some old t-shirts off, knot’em and rock some leg warmers. That’s what ballet dancers do right?

 

 

Tried it: Paddle Board Fitness

I don’t really love the actual act of exercising. I don’t loathe it but it’s also not something that tops my list. I would rather read a good book, play with the boys, eat cookie dough . . . things I consider nourishment for my soul. But if I am to be honest, I do love the feeling that I have post-exercise. There is something to be said for the endorphin rush, in fact, a therapist told me that exercise is one of the best ways to fight the blahs.

But my interest wanes. I like to keep things fresh by trying out new classes. I have sampled my fair share and some, like Barre, hold a position in the rotation and others like the Tracy Anderson Method are collecting dust. (An aside: What beginner can actually keep up with her dancing?)

When I learned that Paddle Fitness was being added to the line-up of offerings at my club, I was keen to try. Many boxes were ticked: I like water, I like the warm sea air, I like relaxation, finding my inner calm . . .this sounded perfect for me. Forgetting for a minute that:

A) I am actually petrified of becoming shark bait whilst paddling in the Caribbean.

B) I would actually be paddling to nowhere within the confines of 4 walls blinded by the overhead fluorescent lighting.

I handed over my money.

I arrived at the class to find 6 other women, all of us clad in our finest stretchy pants and racer-backed tanks.

We prepped the boards by adding stabilizers at the front and back ends. There are three different levels of stability, this being moderately challenging. One stabilizer in the middle of the board provides the least support, better mimicking open-water paddling. Our instructor, a woman in her 40s with the body of a 20-year-old athlete, took her position facing us.

I mounted the board with ease and together we worked through a series of stretches. The mood was calm and almost relaxing thanks to a spotty WiFi connection disabling the thumping playlist. (Another aside: remember when instructors brought ghetto blasters? Mrs. Healy’s used to blare techno beats while my high school friends and I stepped up, down and to the side for an hour in her basement studio.)

Yes, I thought, this is exactly what I need. I need to zone out and imagine myself floating in the warm sea, with the sun beating down on me, defrosting my frozen fingers courtesy of the -27 degree weather outside.

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This is what I think I look like.    (Image: Self Magazine)

 

What happened next, I am not too sure. It was an assault on my body. Burpees, mountain climbers, squats, push-ups, jumping up and over the board, squats, push-ups, plank, leg raises, squats, side-plank with one leg raised, push-ups, squats, squats, SQUATS!

ALL ON AN UNSTABLE BOARD.

With 8 minutes of the class remaining, the instructor sat in the middle of the board, with her knees bent and feet flat.

Oh, thank God! We’re almost done. Just a few stretches to go. Deep breath. Easy now, you sound like a congested pug.

And then she raised her feet into table-top and proceeded with the abdominal portion of the class. Five grueling minutes of V-sits, starfish-to-crabs (think full body extension, then pulling yourself up into a tuck), triceps dips with opposite leg to elbow crunches (I know, impossible right?).

ALL ON AN UNSTABLE BOARD.

This is what I actually look like.  (Image: 1000calorieaccelator.com)

This is what I actually look like.   (Image: 1000calorieaccelator.com)

Paddle Fitness is an all-encompassing work out. It works the core, challenges balance and stability, improves flexibility while being both a cardio and strength training exercise.

Wrists, shoulders and knees definitely have their moment in the spotlight, so if you have any injury or weakness with these joints be sure to let your instructor know so the program can be modified.

The verdict? Less than 24-hours later, I couldn’t put my bra on without wincing and my quads burned when I walked up the stairs, but I have been back. What can I say? I am hooked on that feelin’!