beauty, reviews

Confessions of a Beauty Addict

The following is a guest post from my glamazon sister Shawna. Shawna is a rare breed – a Paris Hilton/Jo March/Kathleen Hanna-type. She spends 1/3 her days nose-deep in Proust, the other 1/3 at hot yoga and the final 1/3 dancing her face off at a feminist queer dance-party. Needless to say she’s good people. And she knows her stuff when it comes to all things makeup and beauty. Enjoy! 


I have never been a tinted moisturizer and lip balm kind of girl.

Several years ago I began eating more intentionally – salads, green smoothies and a mostly whole-food, plant-based diet – but even after cleaning up my diet I still stubbornly clung to my VIB Rouge Status at Sephora. I spent years searching for the holy grail of matte red lipsticks and black liquid eyeliner and I was not about to give up my perfectly curated makeup collection just because of a few chemicals.

Then my sister gave me a subscription to a beauty service called Petit Vour and my mentality started to shift. Petit Vour sends a box of sample sized beauty products every month and each one is ingredient-conscious and cruelty-free. I didn’t have to completely overhaul my beauty stash all at once (which would have cost a small fortune) I could try out products slowly over time, and gradually replace my go-to items when I found alternatives that worked for me. Eventually I learned that natural makeup has come a long way and now many healthy products are just as effective as their chemical-laden counterparts. I’m not saying Mac’s Ruby Woo won’t always have a place in my heart, but I am open to change.

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Me, my sis & my pops in Chicago a few weeks back

As a consumer I feel better about supporting ethical companies and smaller beauty brands that are more health and environmentally aware and do not test on animals or contain scary animal products such as carmine (which is derived from crushed up beetles!).

Below are some of my favorite findings in my ongoing quest to detox my makeup bag. I will tell you about some of my preferred products for a natural (but not TOO natural) makeup look.

Meow Meow Tweet Tweet Deodorant

Traditional deodorant was the first product I tried to replace, and probably the hardest to find a good substitute for. Over the years I swear I tried every natural deodorant on the market and none of them were effective. I think Portlandia summed it up best in their ad for “Mother Sun”:

Basically nothing I tried that didn’t contain scary ingredients such as aluminum could hold up to hot yoga, spin class, and sweaty dancefloors. I got pretty close to finding an effective natural deodorant when I tried Schmidt’s but after a while it broke out my super sensitive skin and I had to keep looking (armpit rash is not cute). Shortly thereafter I found this: Meow Meow Tweet Tweet aka the best deodorant ever. It keeps you smelling fresh and it is available with or without baking soda so it is extra sensitive on your skin. If you are used to deodorant in stick-form it is worth noting that this is a cream you rub in with your fingers (you’ll get used to it!). I am partial to the Lavender scent. The website offers trial sizes so you can sample it before you commit to a whole jar.

Fat and the Moon Lip & Cheek Stain

cheek stain

This product is made of beeswax and essential oils and gets its colour from beet root. It adds a nice blush to cheeks that blends in well, or a very subtle stain to lips.

RMS “Un” cover-up


Photo credit: No More Dirty Looks

This is the one natural beauty product I have found that I actually like better than anything I have used before. The make-up comes in a small pot, which you can apply like concealer and as a highlighting foundation on areas under your eyes, around your nose, and on your forehead and chin. The look is completely natural but with a nice amount of coverage. I have actually stopped using traditional foundation on a daily basis and just apply the “Un” cover-up with a light dusting of powder on top for a natural finish that is good for summer when you don’t want your make-up to be heavy anyway.

To learn more about the ingredients contained in commercial products consult the “Skin Deep Cosmetics Database”and shop at thoughtfully curated retailers such as credo beauty, detox market beauty counter and spirit beauty lounge.





Have you ever dropped something off a dock and had it fall to the bottom of the lake? Like your fancy new sunglasses or a piece of jewelry or your phone?

One second you’re staring out at an expanse of water and sky, reflecting on the vastness of it all. The next second you’re staring down into dark, dingy water resolving yourself to the fact that you – smart, capable, “special flower” you – can’t think your way out of this situation. You can’t delegate it. The only thing you can do is climb down into all that weedy muck and fish out what’s yours.

That’s my metaphor for adulthood.

No matter who you are or where you come from there will always be a disconnect between the vision you have for life and what it actually becomes. In my experience, coming to terms with that discrepancy is the major emotional milestone of your twenties.


I’ve seen a lot of people traverse these years successfully, but I’ve also seen a lot of people stumble and backslide (myself included). Based on these observations, I’ve put together a few basic tips that may just help you keep your shit together when you realize that concepts like “success” and “stability” are about as real as Bing Bong, the pink nougat-filled elephant-cat hybrid from Pixar’s Inside Out. Here goes…

    I know. They were emotionally unavailable. Or unstable. They were narcissists. Or acted like victims. They coddled you. Or they criticized you. If you can’t afford therapy, this is me telling you right now that all your accusations are real. Validation granted. Your parents made countless mistakes and they’re going to keep making them for the rest of your life. However, having a good relationship with them as an adult is one of the most rewarding things you can do. Old people are wise and your parents know you better than anyone else. Their advice will get you through the hardest times. Love and accept them like they love and accept you.
    Once you forgive your parents you’ll notice that is less satisfying to blame them for all the stupid things you do. You’re not rebelling, you’re regressing. The only person suffering the consequences of your credit card debt, heavy drinking, questionable romantic partners, lack of gainful employment, et al. is you. So it’s time to start facing those life choices head-on. The upside is that once you start taking care of yourself rather than ignoring your problems or passing the buck, you’ll realize that it actually feels pretty good.
    I was chatting with a friend over cocktails last week (2 drinks each at a cool 8pm) and we both agreed that one of the best parts of growing up is learning how to say, “no.” It’s absolutely liberating when you figure this out. You don’t have to do things just because your friends do. You don’t need to show up places just because it’s a “scene” you want to be a part of. You don’t have to go out on a limb for everyone who asks you to – only for the people who matter. Learning how to set boundaries forces you to think about you actually want and then communicate it clearly to those around you. The struggle is real but these skills will take you far.
    When you’re in college or even your early twenties, you can usually get by with whatever ragtag group of coping skills you pieced together as a child. Binge watch 8 seasons of Buffy! Buy a new outfit! Go on a juice cleanse! Party with pals! All of the boyfriends! It’s pretty PG. But like any repetitive action, over time these distractions become your coping strategies and once they’re ingrained it ain’t pretty. Addiction, credit card debt & disordered eating are the trifecta of cant-handle-my-adult-life distractions. But that’s all they are – distractions. The only way you will actually get through these years is to confront your feelings of anger, frustration, disappointment, sadness and failure head-on. In time, your ability to face these hard truths (and persevere in spite of them) will help you come to the realization that you that you are in fact the resilient badass/bad bitch you were born to be. 



Strawberry Chia jam

When I was little making jam with my grandma was my idea of a good time. We’d wake up early and head to the strawberry fields, scoop up all the berries we could then head home and spend all day prepping canning jars and boiling vats of hot strawberry syrup. It was the perfect combination of fun, ritual and reward. At the end of all your hard work you were always left with a sticky sweet indulgence.

As it turns out, I haven’t changed so much since those days. I still love feeling the hot sun on my shoulders as I treasure hunt for berries. I still love the smell of hot bubbly fruit and the calming ritual of skimming bubbles from the pot. I don’t however have as much time or patience as I used to. I also don’t have quite as much of a sweet tooth.

This recipe is the perfect solution. Sweet sticky quick jam minus the canning process and omitting all that sugar and pectin. Hope you enjoy!


Strawberry Chia Jam

4 cups strawberries
1/4 cup orange juice
2-3 tbsp honey (or a mix of honey and cane sugar)
1/4 cup chia seeds


1. Cook strawberries, orange juice and 1 tbsp of honey in a pot over high heat until bubbling.
2. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10-15 minutes, breaking up whole berries with a fork or masher as you go.
3. Taste and add more sweetener if needed.
4. Add chia seeds and stir. Turn off heat and allow to cool.

breakfast, recipes

Grain-free Granola


I don’t like to define my food by what it’s not.

I’d much rather spend my time talking about all the healthy, wholesome ingredients I did put in a recipe, than spend an hour telling someone what I omitted. (“I’ll have the gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, carrot cake – with a side of self-righteousness”)

And yet…I feel the need to tell you that this granola is grain-free because this is definitely not your typical oats-and-raisins granola situation. This granola is full of exlusively the things I cherry pick for in my usual bowl of cereal. Coconut. Pumpkin seeds. Almonds. Dates. That’s it. 


I have been loving this granola on top of smoothies, as a quick snack or even a topping on homemade banana soft-serve. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!


Grain-free Granola


  • 2 cups almonds
  • 1.5 cups coconut
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup dates
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp coconut manna (or coconut oil)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  1. Place coconut, dates, nuts and seeds in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped, to the consistency of granola.
  2. Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl then add cinnamon and salt and stir to combine.
  3. Add coconut manna and honey and blend in with your hands until crumbly.
  4. Transfer mixture onto a large parchment lined baking sheets
  5. Bake 45 minutes in the oven at 250°, stirring occasionally.
  6. Allow to cool completely before serving.


reflections, travel

You, elsewhere

As an adult, I am very into being rooted. I love my city. My neighborhood. My coffee shop. My people.

However, looking back I notice that my greatest leaps of personal development in life have always taken place far away from the “community” I hold so dear. It has only been in leaving home that I have learned (and re-learned) my most essential life lesson, which is that I am actually the architect of my community.  I source, connect and build the creative-generous-feminist-coffee-slinging-kale-eating-dance-party-having-drake-obsessed community of my dreams wherever I go. It’s in me.

That is a hard lesson for people – for me – to remember because unless you’re evolved as fuck, you get attached to things. And people. You get reliant. You forget that you were the one who found those people, those places, all that stuff in the first place.

Back in February I was going through some tough times, lacking inspiration and suffering through the thick of winter in Canada. So I planned a trip West Texas and started counting down the days.

IMG_1475.JPGI have no illusions about what travelling can offer me. I know it’s not a solution to my problems. I know my fears, anxieties and insecurities will always be my oversized carry-ons.

IMG_1496.JPGBut travel is about so much more than escapism. It’s about challenging yourself to be uncomfortable for a little while. To live without your stuff, your people, your places. To see the same world, through the same eyes, but a new perspective.

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On this particular trip I learned that even though I didn’t know it, I was desperately in need of a hammock, a dear friend, 16 hours in a hot car, a plate of barbeque, a Steve Earle concert and bright orange trailer lovingly referred to as “Sparton Manor.”

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recipes, reflections

Spring vibes


Late spring is full of momentum.

Lazy, plodding streetcars are overtaken by high-speed bicycles. Rain, when it comes, falls quick and hard. People are so eager for summer to start they plan away all their weekends and fill them up with music festivals, weekend getaways, parties, weddings and cottage trips. With so much energy focused on moving ahead, it’s common to hear people say that they feel like summer is already over…before it’s even begun.

With this in mind, my goal for the next few weeks is to exercise a little patience and feel grateful for what I have today. Pasty white legs, rainy weather, flowers in my garden…and fresh, spring vegetables in my bowl.


Seasonal Spring Chickpea Salad


  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • olive oil
  • 2 medium zuchinis, coursely chopped
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, chopped
  • 2 cups chickpeas
  • salt and pepper
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • flax seed oil (or more olive oil)
  • handful of fresh dill, coursely chopped
  • a few handfuls of arugula
  • 1 cup blackberries


  1. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat (not too high), add in garlic and sautee until fragrant.
  2. Add chopped zucchini and cook until softened and lightly browned.
  3. Add asparagus and sautee for just a few extra minutes – careful not to overcook.
  4. Transfer vegetables from your pan to a large mixing bowl. Add chickpeas, salt and pepper, dill, lemon juice and a hearty drizzle of flax seed or olive oil. Stir well to combine.
  5. Serve chickpea salad warm or cold over arugula. Top with berries and an extra drizzle of flax seed oil.






Cinnamon Bun Energy Bites

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I would like to preface this recipe by saying that I love real cinnamon buns, in their all their glutenous sugar-laden glory. Those little pillsbury ones that come in a tube and fluff up like marshmallows when you bake them? The giant ones you can smell from half-way across the mall (or from the subway at Eglinton station if you live in Toronto)? Of all the baked goods, cinnamon buns are the most satisfyingly nostalgic and they will always have a special place in my heart.

However, if you crave these tasty treats on the regular, you may wish to find something a little more healthful to indulge in. Hopefully that is where I can be of some help.

These little energy bites are made up of just walnuts, oats, coconut oil and naturally sweet dates but they are absolutely delicious. Perfect for a midday snack or an after-dinner treat. And best of all, you don’t have to wait for a special occasion to get your fix of pillowy cinnamon sugar. Hope you enjoy these as much as I do!

Cinnamon Bun Energy Bites
Yield: about 18-20. 

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  • 2 cups oats
  • 1.5 cups dates
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • a few tbsp of water


  1. Add all ingredients except for water into the food processor and blend until the mixture starts to look a little like brown sugar (thick and grainy).
  2. Add in a little water to the mix, 1 tbsp at the time until it begins to clump up and forms a big doughy ball. I used about 2-3 tbsp.
  3. Use a tbsp scoop to roll the mixture into balls.




budgeting, lunch, snacks

Planning ahead: In life and meals

I often say that a person’s best quality usually has a reverse, which is their worst quality. I feel this way about my own ability to plan ahead.

On the one hand, planning ahead has helped me accomplish a lot. I finished college, grad school, more grad school, got a rewarding job, an apartment in a city I love. For an achievement-junkie like myself, these things were very important to me.

However, my inclination towards planning and manifesting can also get me into trouble. I have a hard time going with flow when I have a clear vision of what I want. My therapist calls this “set shifting” or cognitive flexibility. I spend so much time thinking about the future and how to get there, I undervalue the present.

Finding a balance between serenity and ambition has been the great struggle of my 20’s.  Yet both have served me well.

I’m giving this preface because today’s post is all about indulging your inner planner.

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For those of you who work a 9 to 5 (or a 6-3, or a 10-7), you know that preparing a healthy lunch on the regular is easier said the done. Most days it’s all you can manage to grab that $5 sandwich or that $10 salad. But this kind of daily spending adds up to almost $50 a week…before coffee.  Not to mention how hard it is to make healthy choices in a food court.

For all these reasons I like to spend the last few hours of my Sundays on meal preparation for the week ahead. So for today’s post I thought I’d break down that process into a few easy steps…

STEP 1: Cook up some whole grains

Healthy grains are a staple of my monday-friday diet. They keep you satisfied, full and help me stave off that 3pm crash. My favourite is to cook a big pot of short-grain brown rice, then add a little salt, pepper and a hefty scoop of tahini.

STEP 2: Ready the snacks

Everyone has different preferences when it comes to snacking, but some of my favourites right now include:

  • hummus and veggies
  • berries
  • raw cashews or almonds
  • steamed eggs
  • dates stuffed with nut butter

STEP 3: Prepare your protein

When I’m planning for lunches, I always try to add some kind of protein to my meal. Typical suspects include: tofu or tempeh, chickpeas or lentils, grilled chicken or eggs.

STEP 4: Chop, chop chop

Obviously with my vegetable-heavy tendencies, this is an essential component of meal for me. Whether it’s chopping zucchini for salads, carrots for snacks or broccoli for dinner, getting this legwork out of the way will save you time and cleanup all week long. You’ll thank yourself.

STEP 5: Pack it up

This is my favourite part! When you’re all done, the last step is to pack everything into jars or tupperwares so that it’s ready and waiting for you to grab whenever you choose.

And finally…

STEP 6: Leave it in the fridge if you want to

If your coworkers are going out for sushi or you’re really craving a burger, go do that instead and save your perfectly packed lunch until the next day. Because planning ahead doesn’t mean forgoing life, as it happens. 


feminism, inspiration

How to Make Female Friends

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Women like me. They always have. And it’s not a coincidence.

I have spent years perfecting the art of making and maintaining female friendships. It’s not always been easy and I have made many mistakes along the way (sorry again), but I am constantly rewarded by the inspiration, support and community my ladyfriends have to offer. I can’t imagine who I would be today without them, nor do I want to.

So when I hear a woman say that she “doesn’t have any female friends” or that “other girls don’t like her” I call bullshit. Not being able to make or keep female friends means one of two things to me:

  1. You are acting judgmental, competitive or critical with other women, so they are responding in kind.
  2. You have been judged, competed with or criticized by women in the past and now you are projecting that trauma onto every new woman you meet.

For women who struggle with these or other challenges, I took the time to compile a few lessons I have learned over the years (usually the hard way) about how to make and keep female friends. Hopefully they will serve you in your path to cultivating the ultimate lady coven of your dreams…

Always ask a woman questions on questions on follow-up questions.

Every time I meet a new woman, especially someone who might have a competitive vibe with me (ie. an exes new girlfriend, a co-worker, etc.) the first thing I do to dispel the weirdness is to get to know her better. I ask about her family and re-use the name of her siblings later in conversation to show that I’ve been listening. I ask about her hobbies and validate them, tell her how much I’ve always wanted to macrame too. I let her share and I hear her. 

Always compliment the effort a woman has put into her beauty, not the effortlessness.
No man will ever understand the amount of time and energy that goes into a woman’s beauty regime. So while men will compliment a woman on how “naturally” gorgeous they are, I love complimenting women on the labour that went into looking that way. Her liquid liner. The straightness of her stocking seams. Her blow-dried-then-flat-ironed-then-curled hair. These are the type of compliments that elicit a story, not just a blush and a self-deprecating dodge.

Never talk about food, diets or body issues.
Save these conversations for your therapist or your personal trainer. Your BFF does not want to hear about your new detox diet or how gluten makes you bloated or how you gained 10 lbs in the last 24 hours. Saying any of these things runs the risk of triggering in your friend a negative spiral of self-talk that will cause her to either feel superior or inferior to you (“Why can’t I detox?” “Is gluten the devil?” “Thank god I didn’t gain 10 lbs”, etc.). And nobody wants these kind of competitive, comparative thoughts between friends. AVOID.

Always confront your conflicts directly, grown-ass-woman-style.
It is inevitable that conflict between friends will arise. The challenge when you sense this tension, is to speak it’s name. I like to start by sharing my interpretation of a situation and then asking whether or not my perspective is accurate for her. Eg) “I felt like our texts last night ended abruptly, did I say something that pissed you off?” This gives her the chance to share her perspective while acknowledging the possibility that you may have misinterpreted. In the end, working through conflicts with friends gives you a chance to grow as a human, to become better. If your friends are worthy, they’ll understand that and want to help you be your best self.

Always give your friends specific, positive feedback…because how else will they know?

A while ago I realized that I give my coworkers positive feedback every single day. It’s just part of our working culture to acknowledge and validate each others’ strengths and accomplishments. But I never did this for my friends. So I started. Now I try to tell my friends as often as I can what exactly I think they’re great at, why I think they’re great at it and how their unique skills and assets contribute to my life in a positive way.


“Work less and consume more culture”: An Interview with Creative Yogis Harriet & Lacey


Today I am excited to share an interview I conducted with two dear friends who are also inspiring healthy hipsters. Harriet is an artist, Parisian literary scenester and author and Lacey is a va-va-voom writer, performer and yoga instructor. The two of them will be collaborating for the first time on a writing and yoga workshop in Halifax, Nova Scotia June 26-28th.

How would you describe your approach to healthy living?

H: I have to give credit to living in Paris for the better part of seven years for having shaped my approach. Food is generally sold only when in season as it’s too expensive or difficult to come by otherwise; meat is, by EU standards, devoid of so many of the hormones and toxins that are routinely inserted here; people drink wine and eat cheese and fresh bread because it’s great, cheap, and why not – but there is far less of a sense of overconsumption. There’s less reliance on cars, and exercise is built into part of a healthy life without ever being the focus of it. It’s a generalization, but it’s true: people work less and consume more culture, and I really value that for my own personal mental health and sense of fulfillment.


What is the connection between health and creativity/the arts, as you see it?
L: Creativity is about feeling empowered and free to explore one’s own unique voice. Food needs to be digested and assimilated to help our bodies thrive. Likewise, ideas and inspiration need to be processed and expressed in order for our hearts and souls to alight.

Where do you turn when you’re in need of inspiration/motivation?
H: My friends, bodies of water, and the forever-feel-good-films Bridget Jones’s Diary and Love Actually.L: The great outdoors. I dance. I practice yoga. I walk. I listen to music loudly. I reenact music videos. I talk to my stellar mate.
Hottest tip: Embodied movement and connecting with nature are the ultimate inspiration and motivation boosters.

What’s the last thing you read that inspired you?

L: “Passion can seem intimidatingly out of reach at times — a distant tower of flame, accessible only to geniuses, and to those who are specially touched by God. But curiosity is available to everyone.” -Elizabeth Gilbert, from her forthcoming book Big Magic

H: “It is a feeling thing, to be a painter of things: cause every thing, even an imagined or gone thing or creature or person has essence” –Ali Smith, How to Be Both. I wish I could write a novel so multi-faceted, so fluid, so beautiful and metamorphosing.

I won’t ask you to describe a typical day on your plate (no one wants to hear about anyone else’s glass of lemon water upon waking)…but how about your favourite thing to cook for friends or family?

H: Pumpkin risotto! My favourite pumpkins are the bright orange little ones that are called potimarron in France because they have the nutty and velvety quality of roasted chestnuts (potiron is the word for pumpkin, and marrons are chestnuts). Oh, and my grandma drank a glass of lemon water every morning upon waking but it’s something I can never remember to do. All I want is coffee.

L: Breakfast. I managed to find the sweet spot with my cast-iron pan (notoriously tricky in my life) and made an omelet with avo and local goat’s cheese that didn’t stick. Accompanied by local micro greens and tahini, it was a masterpiece.