Saturday, 20 July 2019

My Hair Care Routine with Pantene


This post was created in partnership with Pantene. All thoughts, experiences and opinions are 100% my own.

Everyone told me when I became pregnant that this would be a time when I would experience the best hair of my life. 

Well, I waited. And waited. As I entered my third trimester with a head of hair that was even dryer than it originally started with pre-pregnancy, as well as more dull and lifeless than ever before, it was time to throw in the towel and take matters into my own hands. Pregnancy hormones didn't magically transform my hair to be healthier as it does with other women, so I needed to rely on products that would help to rehydrate my locks Enter the new Pantene Sulfate Free Rose Water Collection.

Let's talk rose water: as someone with sensitive skin, I'm very familiar with rose water for its calming and hydrating properties in skincare, but I love that I can now use the ingredient in my haircare for the same reasons.  And because the formula is high in vitamins, antioxidants and nutrients, it's been really effective in giving my super-dry hair the boost that it needs. Also, I love the Pantene Rose Water Collection is for what's not in the ingredients list. It’s sulfate-free, paraben-free, dye-free and mineral oil free. And don't think that just because the formula is free of all of those ingredients that you have to sacrifice on lather – I was pleasantly surprised by the rich lather and amazing shower experience. A huge win all around!




So now instead of waiting around for these supposed magical pregnancy-hair hormones, I've taken my hair routine into my own hands. The result is hydrated, more manageable hair that's less frizzy and all-around healthier. I'm so happy to have found this to help me sail from pregnancy to baby with my best hair possible.

What do you guys think? Did you experience more dryness in pregnancy? Have you tried the new Pantene sulfate free Rose Water Collection? Let me know!

xo Joëlle


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Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Expectation Vs. Reality: Pregnancy Edition


I first remember when I was settling into being pregnant. There were so many expectations that I placed on myself; how I figured I would act, dress, think, etc. Isn't that always the way with any new life change?

Flash forward to present time, and I can honestly say that a lot of my expectations that I have placed on myself have flown out the window. Now that we're in the home stretch of pregnancy (37 weeks, holy crap) I can look back at my expectations in early pregnancy and how things have panned out and just laugh. Here's a few of the expectations that I swore would be my reality in pregnancy, and how off-the-mark they eventually ended up being.


1. I Wouldn't Bump-Cradle In Photos


I'll admit, I was someone who would roll my eyes at the amount that women would touch and hold their pregnant bellies in photos. "We get it," I would think, "you're pregnant." I was confident that I wouldn't fall victim to over touching my bump in photos as I grew into pregnancy.

Flash forward to present day, and a few scrolls through my Instagram feed reveals that there aren't very many photos of myself in the last few months where I'm not cradling the bump! What I've learned in these last 37 weeks, particularly after the 24 week mark when I actually started to show, is that there is a very fine line between baby belly and burrito belly in clothes - and that hand on top of a protruding stomach is that line. Also, the more that I eased into pregnancy, felt baby move and kick from within me and grew, the more I wanted to enjoy and celebrate what was going on! Listen, I don't know if I'll ever be pregnant again - if I want to celebrate my body and touch the life that's growing within me for photos, I will damnit - haha.

So as I enjoy the last couple of weeks of pregnancy, I will be touching the bump as much as humanly possible and documenting it all through photographs. No shame in my game.


2. I Would Continue To Travel To The End


I'm happy with the amount of travel that I was able to accomplish while pregnant. Once I hit 30 weeks, and international plane travel became more restricted, I remember telling anyone who would listen that I would be continuing to galavant with many road trips, sight seeing and hotel stays. I wasn't going to let a little something like pregnancy get in the way of my summer plans.

Well, I can officially say that my last plane trip to Charleston was my last trip of the pregnancy. Road trips? Ha! Y'all, I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm tired. The third trimester hit me like a ton of bricks, and while I'm grateful to still feel pretty good, I was relieved to make a conscious effort to slow down. Not only that, but I found that I began to feel more content just staying in and organizing our condo making room for baby instead of driving to Montreal to complete my ambitious itinerary.

It's an interesting shift, learning to slow down for someone who typically takes comfort in a chaotic schedule. Hopefully this is preparing me for a more content fourth trimester when baby arrives.


3. I Would Continue To Exercise 


Now, this assumption is one that I wish that I had kept up with, but sometimes it's not in the cards. I was doing great with exercising for most of the pregnancy; between walking, at-home workouts, barre and prenatal yoga. Something shifted at about 30+ weeks, where my body stopped being able to handle it. I found that a workout would drain me for the entire day, or would trigger swelling within my body. Couple that with the fact that my baby has been breech for the majority of the pregnancy and I didn't want to do anything to make it worse (deep squats, etc.) and my fitness routine fell to the wayside.

I do worry that this lapse in exercise will make it harder to get back into a healthy routine when baby arrives, but honestly I've been trying hard to listen and follow the cues of my body. Everything within my body has been telling me to slow down, and I'm respecting that. Barre class can wait. Until then I'm continuing to walk, albeit at a very leisurely pace these days, making sure to take the time to enjoy the view.

What do you guys think? Have you broken any expectations that you had for yourself in a new situation? Let me know!

xo Joëlle
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Friday, 5 July 2019

Prenatal Anxiety: My Story


It's hard for me to think of an appropriate way to start this very personal blog post. Let me just start by saying that this is a hard subject for me to talk about, as is anything deeply personal that delves deeper than the superficial and lightness that I strive to keep throughout this blog. It's just who I am; I like to keep any problems I'm experiencing to myself, both on and offline.

The reason that I wanted to open up a bit and talk about my experience with prenatal anxiety is that it seems to be a reoccurring theme when talking to expectant, new and seasoned moms alike. "How are you feeling?" they would innocently ask and in the odd time that I would open up and let them know that my biggest pregnancy symptom was/is anxiety, it was more often than not met with women telling me that they experienced the exact same thing while expecting. In fact, I would say that the vast majority of women I've spoken to about prenatal anxiety have their own experiences, anecdotes, memories and battles. For a pregnancy symptom that is seemingly so common among women, why is it that I rarely - if ever - hear it mentioned in any of the information available that coaches women on what to expect when expecting?

That's why I wanted to share my story today. Hopefully someone who is struggling, or has struggled in the past with prenatal anxiety will read it and know that they're not alone.

My Story


My story with prenatal anxiety begins almost right away after holding my positive pregnancy test. Our first attempt to conceive ended in a chemical pregnancy, so I was so happy to see that we were able to get pregnant again so soon after. While I experienced all of the "typical" reactions to a positive pregnancy test (excitement, overwhelm, disbelief, etc.) I also has this nagging sense of guilt. Why should it have been so quick for us, when others struggle with infertility? It was a feeling that I tried to shake, but ultimately ended up manifesting itself into a cloud of doom that seemed to follow me around the entire first trimester.

The first trimester for me was tough, and when my prenatal anxiety was at its absolute worst. Some days it would present as just a nagging feeling and weight on my back that would follow me around and other days it would be full-blown episodes of panic that prevented me from leaving my condo. In fact if I look back at my first trimester I rarely ever left our place, didn't see anyone unless it was family and just spent hours frantically Googling anything from miscarriages to pregnancy complications or anything else that could possibly go wrong. This would then lead to feelings of crippling guilt that I was ruining what may the only time that I was ever pregnant, and therefor was undeserving. It was a vicious cycle that I could not seem to pull myself out of, despite rationally knowing how destructive my behaviour was. The feelings seemed to be beyond my control, and despite knowing that fresh air and a good laugh with friends would make me feel so much better, I just couldn't bring myself to do it. So inside I stayed, alone with my thoughts and Google. It was miserable, isolating and seemed like it would never end.

Thankfully the fog lifted in the second trimester as my hormones regulated. It's then that I finally allowed myself to feel joy and excitement, without feeling like I was jinxing anything. I started to travel again, see my friends and just feel good. It was such a relief to have the monkey on my back finally leave. Even with my brief hospitalization and a short bout of anxiety that came along after, it was amazing how different my second trimester was from my first.

Fast forward to my third trimester, and with another shift in hormones that damn cloud of doom came back. Thankfully for me, it was then late spring and Toronto was experiencing more sunlight and milder weather and it made a world of difference. I also had developed some coping mechanisms in my second trimester that really helped; namely yoga, starting a gratitude journal and listening to classic rock all day (yes, that actually did help.) And while I definitely don't want to insinuate that yoga and Elton John is the solution to struggles in mental health, it seemed to work for me so I just went with it. Everyone is completely different.

Now here we are in the home stretch, and there are definitely more good days than bad. I also feel as though I've gotten a glimpse into what postpartum depression can feel like, and have taken preemptive steps to make sure that I have outside support should I need it. This experience has made me realize that maternal mental health goes far beyond just the 'baby blues' and if you're feeling these feelings of panic that seem to be beyond your control that you're not alone and it's not something to feel ashamed of.

So that's my story. While this was a hard one for me to share, since I don't want to look back on this very fleeting time and remember anything but the joy, I do think it's important to speak to my experience with prenatal anxiety. Hopefully this helps anyone who's feeling panicked, isolated and alone in what is thought to be a magical time.

You are not alone.

xo Joëlle

Disclaimer: If you're experiencing uncontrollable feelings of prenatal anxiety or depression, please talk to your doctor, midwife, or someone that you trust.
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Thursday, 6 June 2019

30 Weeks Pregnant Update - 3rd Trimester


I can't even believe that I'm just passing 30 weeks of pregnancy, and am well into my third trimester. They really aren't kidding around when they say that time flies - and our baby isn't even here yet! I can just imagine how quick time will speed by when we meet Baby C earth side; a reminder to myself to really soak in the baby time because it will all pass by in the blink of an eye!

So how am I feeling now that I've hit the home stretch? Honestly I feel like everyday I'm on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. We're mostly getting excited to meet Baby C, but with anxiety because I feel as though we still have so much to do and prepare! Add in the physical symptoms of the 3rd trimester and some days it's a big 'ol mess, haha! I don't want to complain too much though; other than my not-so-perfect hospitalization in my second trimester, this pregnancy has been pretty incredible. I talk to other women who definitely had a much harder time than I, and it always makes me grateful for my experience.

That being said, I swear that the moment the third trimester arrives I noticed a huge shift in how I was feeling - both physically and mentally. Now I understand why they call the second trimester the honeymoon phase! Here's a quick breakdown of the last stretch of my pregnancy; from physical changes to my moods, cravings and everything in between.


How I'm Feeling Physically

Everyone warned me that the third trimester may be the hardest, and as always I brushed it off as probably not happening to me. Boy was I wrong. Although I'm grateful for still being able to function fairly normally everyday, there's definitely some strong physical symptoms that seemed to come out of nowhere the second I hit my 3rd trimester.


  • Exhaustion: OMG, the exhaustion is so real! It honestly felt like the first trimester all over again, where you get so tired during the day that you can barely keep your eyes open. I've never really been one for naps, and there are some days that my body will actually just stop until I lay down and sleep for a couple of hours. It's really been something else, and has forced me to really slow down. Not that I'm complaining - I know I'll miss all of this sleep once baby arrives!

  • Swelling: I've noticed that my body now tends to get extremely swollen when I overdo it on physical activity - and by overdo, I mean walking more than 4 blocks at a time! My feet have been the most prone to swelling and now that it's nice enough to wear skirts and dresses again, I'm not wearing my compression socks as much as I should. Mental note to myself to start back on them - they really help!

  • Aches and Pains: As with suddenly gaining 20+ pounds, my body has been adjusting with dull aches and pains that manifest throughout the day. Mostly in my back, hips and feet, these pains are much more prominent now that I'm in my third trimester. Thankfully, between prenatal yoga, my chiropractor and prenatal massages I feel as though I've been managing the aches and pains extremely well! They say it takes a village to raise a child, and that definitely seems true, but I also believe that it takes a village to carry a child as well. I'm going to do a whole blog post on my prenatal team and how much they've helped me throughout this pregnancy.

  • Appetite: Whoa Sally, look out! This expectant mother can eat. Although I didn't have a huge appetite in the first and second trimester, I'm more than making up for it in my 3rd. People have been asking what I'm craving, and honestly I just love all food at this point. I have noticed that my spice tolerance has gone way down though and anything spicy seems to upset my stomach; something that never happened to me before becoming pregnant. I'm curious to see if I'll be able to eat spicy food again once baby arrives.




How I'm Feeling Mentally


One huge shift I've noticed in my mental health is that the anxiety I experienced in my first trimester has started to come back, although thankfully it hasn't been as bad this time around. It may be because I've developed some different coping mechanisms and have more of a routine that incorporates my pregnancy, but my anxiety hasn't been nearly as bad. I mostly feel anxious about how much we still need to do to prepare for baby and I just don't feel like we're ready yet.

Thankfully I have some coping methods that have really been helping me. I take a prenatal yoga class 2-3 times a week and it's been beautiful. I've also swapped out my true crime podcasts to listen instead to music that makes me feel happy; Elton John, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles. Basically all classic rock, all the time! The weather has also improved and we're seeing the sun more in Toronto; that alone has been a huge help.


What's Left On The Agenda?



  • Birthing Classes: I went back and fourth as to weather or not I even wanted to do a birthing class, but I gave in and we're starting our classes next week with our midwives. If anything, I think that the class will help to alleviate some of the anxiety I feel about the birthing process and about being prepared in general. I also think that it's important Brian have someone other than me explain what birth may look like and his role in the whole thing. Overall, I'm optimistic that this will be a good decision!

  • Nursery: Another huge source of anxiety for me, we still have yet to complete (or even start) our nursery! Thankfully we have all of the furniture picked out, and a date set for Brian and my dad to convert our condo's den into a tiny nursery. I honestly feel like I'll be so relieved once this happens.

  • Travel? I feel so lucky to have done as much travel as I have during this pregnancy. That being said, although my midwife has given me clearance to fly until 32 weeks, I think we're officially staying grounded until baby arrives. I would still love to sneak in a road trip or two, and of course lots of cottage visits. It honestly feels nice to know that there's no big trips on the horizon and we can focus all of our energy on baby.

  • Name: I'm happy to say that after many battles lengthy discussions, Brian and I have finally settled on a name that we're both happy with. I have to say, you really don't realize how many people you have disliked in your life until you start the process of naming a child LOL. That being said, we won't be sharing our name until the baby arrives.





So that's it! Now it's just time to enjoy the nesting phase and this last season of life as a family of two (and Fritz.)

What do you guys think? How was your third trimester? Did you find that your pregnancy went by in the blink of an eye? Let me know!

xo Joëlle

Photos by the mega-talented Raeleen Giffin 
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Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Charleston City Guide


When the term 'Southern Charm' is ever spoken, what immediately comes to mind for me is Charleston. I first visited the charming city of Charleston, South Carolina in 2017 with Brian, a trip booked on a whim after watching a reality show based in the same city (yes, this is how we sometimes choose destinations.) We were smitten upon landing, and have been wanting to go back ever since.

Fast forward a few years, after again booking a trip on a whim with Sabrina after noticing a discounted flight, and I found myself back in Charleston. This time, the pace was a little slower (I was 27 weeks pregnant) and the itinerary less ambitious, but the feelings were all the same - I've can't wait to go back.

Here's a breakdown of how we spent 2.5 full days in Charleston; what to eat, how to get around and everything along the way.



How To Get To Charleston

I'll be the first to say it: the only frustrating thing about visiting Charleston, South Carolina is that there are no direct flights from my home airport in Toronto. As someone who hates connecting flights with a fiery passion, this can often be a deal-breaker when choosing a destination.

Thankfully there are a few fairly painless options to get to your destination:


  • In the world of connecting flights, getting to Charleston isn't too bad. For both of my trips, we connected in Chicago on the way there, and then through Newark, New Jersey on the way back. TIP: If you have the time for it, I would suggest making the most of your connections. Our first trip, Brian and I choose an eleven hour layover in Chicago which gave us the whole day to get out of the airport and explore the city. On the way home we actually extended the layover to stay a couple of nights in New York City. It felt like three trips in one!

  • There are direct flights from Toronto to either Savannah, Georgia or Myrtle Beach. Both destinations are only a couple of hours drive from Charleston and may be worth checking out before heading to the city.

  •  If you're up for the road trip, Charleston is about a 16 hour drive from Toronto. Definitely not for the faint of heart, but certainly do-able and an option if you crave the open road.





How To Get Around

One of the best things about visiting Charleston is that once you arrive, it's so easy to get around! Sabrina and I took a very quick and inexpensive cab ride from the airport to our hotel in historic Charleston. Other than that and a cab ride back to the airport at the end of our trip, we explored exclusively on-foot.


  • Because Charleston is a fairly small city, and the historic areas are all very close to one another, it is extremely easy to navigate on-foot. We explored everything that the city had to offer on-foot, while taking multiples breaks in our hotel to rest.

  • Renting bicycles is another great way to explore Charleston. Although I wasn't able to partake on account of being pregnant, I remember renting city bikes with Brian on our first trip and it was an excellent way to get around the city. 

  • Although I don't think that you need a car if you're planning on staying exclusively within the limits of Charleston, it may be a good idea to look into for exploring the surrounding areas. Charleston is very small, and if you're staying for longer than a few days then you may find yourself looking for a new area to explore. Renting a car is a great way to check out the surrounding plantations, or make your way to Savannah for a change of scenery.  




What To Do

Seeing as how I had previously visited Charleston, and that I was 27 weeks pregnant during this particular trip, we took a much slower pace than usual. That being said, Sabrina and I managed to pack in a ton of different sights and fun things to-do during our two and a half day stay. If you're visiting for a girl's trip, and aren't interested in historical monuments or museums, here's some fun things to do in Charleston:


  • Head South of Broad and just walk. Trust me. The beautiful, picturesque houses and perfectly manicured neighbourhoods are worth checking out, and are to me some of the best features of Charleston. Sabrina and I got lost everyday just wandering through these gorgeous, historic streets and taking in all of the sights - and smells! It was jasmine season when we visited and the air smelled of flowers. It was truly beautiful.

  • If you're in the mood to shop, then you're going to want to head to King Street. A mix of little boutiques and major chain stores, there's literally something for everyone. 

  • With all of the history in Charleston, a ghost tour would 100% be appropriate. If I wasn't convinced that our hotel was haunted, I definitely would have partook as the picturesque neighbourhoods definitely take on a more eerie vibe at night.

  • Visit Waterfront Park and take in the iconic, much-instagrammed Pineapple fountain. 

  • Eat. Honestly, Charleston is no place to visit while on a diet. Between award-winning restaurants, and the rich, buttery southern delicacies that grace most every menu, be prepared to eat. I find the restaurant prices to be pretty reasonable, especially when compared to the major cities in the states. 




Where To Eat


Be still my heart - the restaurants and food scene in Charleston is absolutely unbelievable. Brian and I experienced all of the culinary wonder that is food in Charleston on our first trip and I was anxious to get back for more! Here is where you can indulge in southern cuisine at it's finest; think hushpuppies, shrimp and grits, fried chicken, Carolina Gold rice - I could go on! Although there were many restaurants and bars to try, here are a few of my favourite:

Husk: You honestly can't make the trip to Charleston without visiting Husk. An upscale take on southern dishes and ingredients in a comfortable atmosphere, Husk is a true gem. Sabrina and I were able to get reservations at Husk for Sunday brunch, and braved the wait to enjoy our last dinner there. Word to the wise - make a reservation as soon as you book your trip to Charleston. I'm not kidding. Reservations go quick and while you may be able to score a walk-in seat, it will only be if outdoor seating is available and will undoubtably come with a long wait.

Basic Kitchen: A beautiful space boasting a healthy menu made up of local ingredients - many of which are actually grown on-premise! I had Basic Kitchen on my radar for it's beautiful, light-filled space and chill decor but I kept on coming back for the food. We enjoyed both brunch and dinner at Basic Kitchen, and each meal was absolutely delicious.

Leon's Oyster Shop: Leon's Oyster Shop is an unassuming, casual eatery that takes classic southern dishes to the next level! We enjoyed hush puppies that were literally served with a side of pure butter, scalloped potatoes, a gigantic shrimp salad and all-you-can-drink sweet teas. My only regret is stopping into Leon's for a snack rather than a full meal; I hear their award-winning fried chicken is not to be missed.

The Rise Coffee Bar: While Charleston doesn't have the bustling coffee scene of a larger metropolis, The Rise Coffee Bar will satisfy your espresso-based craving in a bright and clean space.

The Darling Oyster Bar: Created with a female clientele in mind, The Darling Oyster Bar is the perfect place to share a drink with girlfriends or to have a beautiful date night in Charleston. Although Sabrina and I had made reservations in advance, we opted to sit at the Oyster bar and literally feasted on seafood. It was glorious. The presentation is incredible and even the smallest details on our mocktails were taken into consideration. I already can't wait to go back.









It was an incredible getaway, and I can hardly wait to visit Charleston again. Have you been? Let me know what your must-dos are in this beautiful city!

xo Joëlle
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