personal

MY NEW MAMA MINIMALIST MAKEUP KIT

minimalist mama makeup.jpg

Time is short to get fancy these days, but as a makeup artist, I still like to whip my face into shape before I leave the house.

I'm aware that most people would not consider the above image a minimalist kit by any means, but for someone with a giant arsenal of beauty products for work, this is about as simple as it gets for me. I should mention that I don't wear makeup every day. When it's just me, Felix and Pearl at home I'm usually barefaced (or doing a face mask!) and some days I just stick to tinted moisturizer, curled lashes and lip balm. But with this mini kit, I can do a full face when I want to turn myself out a little more nicely for something special.

I thought it might be helpful to share the products that I've found are perfect for life as a new mama. Everything in here is chosen to help you look as awake and revitalized as possible, even after countless sleepless nights.

  • MAC Strobe Cream. I blend a drop or two of this with my moisturizer, or put it on alone as a luminous base under foundation. This basically makes me look awake after a long night.
  • Rouge Bunny Rouge Sketches on Water Tinted Moisturizer. This is by far the best tinted moisturizer I've tried. It tries down beautifully into a velvety finish, but isn't at all drying. The amount of coverage is pretty generous too, and it covers redness well. I wear this when my skin is looking decent and I just want to even out my skin tone a bit.
  • Josie Maran Vibrancy Argan Oil Foundation Fluid. I just started using this foundation a few weeks ago after a consultation at Sephora. I was looking for a natural foundation in a liquid formula, that was a bit quicker to apply than my beloved RMS "Un" Cover-up, which is a cream formula. It is the only foundation that's designated as a skincare product at Sephora, and indeed it's very moisturizing and soothing thanks to the base of argan oil. A little goes a very long way; the formula is lightweight yet a tiny half-pump is all you need for a medium-to-full coverage finish of the whole face. Special thanks to my friend Kate for sending me a Sephora gift card as a new mama present - so thoughtful! 
  • RMS Beauty "Un" Powder. I use this non-toxic, featherlight powder to set the Vibrancy foundation, which doesn't dry down completely otherwise due to the oil formula. This powder sets it perfectly.
  • Beauty Blender. I use this sponge to apply the foundation rather than use my fingers. With my dry skin, pressing the product on rather than blending with fingers is the best way to disguise any dry texture or flakiness.
  • NARS Blush in Gaiety. The most cheerful pink blush that makes all skin tones look instantly perked up.
  • Stila All Over Shimmer in Rose Gold. Sadly this has recently been discontinued. I would recommend NARS Illuminator or Fenty Beauty Matchsticks Shimmer Skinsticks as an alternative. Applied to the cheekbones, it gives a lovely luminosity that just isn't there when you're feeling exhausted.
  • Anastasia Dipbrow Pomade in Taupe. It's really hard to find a cool/ashy brow shade that doesn't warm up in tone as the day goes on, but this one nails it. It's waterproof and stays on like a dream.
  • Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler. I never skip the step of curling my lashes anymore, as giving them a quick crimp helps me feel that much more awake.
  • Amaterasu Ultra Volume Mascara in Black. I discovered Amaterasu via LUX Beauty Boutique and instantly understood why this is one of their bestselling products. This tubing style mascara coats the lashes, adding tonnes of volume. It is waterproof and doesn't come off with oil or sweat, yet is removed easily with warm water. I would recommend it to any new mama as it lasts through the sweat and tears of postpartum life, and also to brides or anyone out dancing all night!
  • Amaterasu Liquid Eyeliner in Black. This eyeliner doesn't budge! It's the only liquid eyeliner that I can wear without a primer and it will stay on all day. It even unseated my former favourite (Stila Stay All Day Liquid Eyeliner) from its throne. The applicator is also perfect and allows you to do a super thin or quite thick line. Also, if you have to layer it to fix mistakes, it doesn't gum up. It is perfection.
  • Make Up For Ever Aqua XL Color Paint in I-80. This iridescent pink-beige cream color is the perfect daytime eyeshadow. It goes on super smooth, blends beautifully and creates a fully waterproof base for anything I'd want to put over top of it.
  • Skyn Iceland Berry Lip Fix. This is the most velvety and lovely lip treatment. I apply a thick layer after brushing my teeth in the morning and let it soak in while I go about my day.
  • Bridlewood Soaps Winter Rescue Lip Balm. This medicated lip balm is lovingly made by my friend Jen in Orangeville, Ontario. It is incredibly soothing and moisturizing and I keep one in my makeup bag, and one beside the bed to apply at night.
  • Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Fiore. I packed this in my hospital bag, and it's still a mainstay in my new mama kit because it instantly makes me happy when I wear it. Nothing zhushes up the face like a bright lipstick. My signature shade is actually "La Malicieuse" by Chanel, but that one is not nearly as long-lasting for mama life (ain't nobody got time to reapply constantly), which is why I choose the Stila one for this season of life.

Hope you found this useful!

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR EXPECTING MAMAS

Photo by Jill Coursen

Photo by Jill Coursen

I absolutely loved the experience of being pregnant. Believe it or not, I even enjoyed the unforgettable and incomparable intensity of labour.  Becoming a mama has been a wild and wonderful journey. I marvel daily at how much has changed in my life in the last year. Dreams evolving, priorities shifting, mindset realigning. I can scarcely believe I'm here now, two months after becoming a mama, and I'm so very grateful.

My road to motherhood, despite a few scares and being designated as higher risk for a period of time, was one of a healthy pregnancy without many complications. However joyful, I was sometimes utterly exhausted and uncomfortable, so when I found creature comforts that helped ease the less pleasant sensations, or things that just enhanced the journey to motherhood, I embraced them enthusiastically. In this post, I'm excited to share my discoveries and recommendations for you, in case you, too, may find them helpful.

THROUGHOUT PREGNANCY

Photo by Jill Coursen

Photo by Jill Coursen

The best piece of advice I can give to carry you through is to educate yourself about all the resources your city has to offer. It's trickier to do things once your little one arrives, and time seems to run shorter as pregnancy progresses so take advantage of the time you have and start collecting info on everything you think would be helpful, for example:

  • Find your OB/midwife/doula
  • Get any necessary immunizations
  • Does your city offer any free resources/books/info for expecting mamas?
  • Download the Overdrive app on your device so you can sign out ebooks for free with your library card. This is a great way to read all the relevant books without breaking the bank

In-person workshops are a great way to learn and also connect with other expecting mamas. When I was 36 weeks along, I attended Pregnancy and the Empowered Mother, which was hosted by Jill (a nurse and founder of Essentials by Nature) and Lauren Mary (holistic doula and founder of Lauren Mary Holistics.) I wish I had done this earlier in my pregnancy, as they shared so many things that would have helped me out when I was battling extreme fatigue and nausea early on, for example. If you're local to Edmonton I would highly recommend this workshop, or if you're elsewhere I would encourage you to search for something similar in your city.

I also attended an event at Yo Mama Maternity that featured a fabulous group of guest speakers about all things motherhood. My friend Mel of The Nomadic Wife spoke about meal prep, while other presenters touched on topics from sleep to fitness after baby, to mental health and also documenting your family through photography. 

Another thing I found very helpful is to talk to friends who are already parents whose general approach to life you respect and admire. Let's be honest, there are some parents who we don't want to emulate, so I found it inspiring to connect with the ones who are the kind of parents I aspire to be. I personally avoid the ones whose approach and general negativity makes parenting seem like a nightmare, and gravitate towards the ones who run their families with honesty, warmth and lots of humour. On the same note, it is wonderful to connect with other kindred spirits who are expecting little ones, to chat over tea and share your experiences.

Photos from throughout: 20 weeks, 30 weeks and 39 weeks. I loved working, socializing, staying active and engaged as I grew bigger by the day.

Photos from throughout: 20 weeks, 30 weeks and 39 weeks. I loved working, socializing, staying active and engaged as I grew bigger by the day.

Apps I found helpful throughout pregnancy:

  • What to Expect: a classic but a goodie. Tracks your baby's development week by week and shares relevant health and self-care information. My main criticism of this app is that it's tips of the day often make men/dads out to be useless idiots who've never cooked or cleaned in their lives and have no emotional intelligence, but other than that, it's generally really helpful.
  •  iBirth: A slightly more holistic pregnancy app
  • The Bump: Similar to the other two, but with more lighthearted articles
  • Babyname: the" tinder" of babyname apps - you and your partner swipe on your respective phones to choose your favourite names and it builds a list of your favourite name matches for your reference. Fun, and helpful!

FIRST TRIMESTER

For me, the first trimester was a time to focus on emotional and physical self care, as it's a vulnerable moment where you're often not sharing your news with many people, holding on to hope that all will be well with baby, and feeling very fragile due to morning sickness and exhaustion. I rested as much as possible and tried to learn about all the things I shouldn't eat for food safety, while also learning through trial and error about what I could stomach! The most important tip I learned was to keep blood sugar stable, as drops were sure to trigger extreme nausea or almost fainting. Pack high protein snacks with you everywhere you go! 

Recommended reads:

  • Nurture: A Modern Guide to Pregnancy: Published in 2017, so very up-to-date and packed with truly helpful information. I loved this book and wish I'd read it before my baby arrived!
  • The Field Guide to Pregnancy: I picked this up while in San Francisico and adored its east-meets-west approach, combining a traditional Chinese medicine perspective with a modern western perspective, month-by-month.
  • The Mama Natural: a little more crunchy, with a focus on doing everything as naturally and drug-free as possible, but very interesting with lots of great recipes
  •  Yeah Baby. The tone of this one was what you would expect from Jillian Michaels, but nevertheless, absolutely packed with information about health, fitness and nutrition and how you can use pregnancy as an opportunity to get in the best shape of your life.

SECOND TRIMESTER

14 weeks pregnant, on 17-mile drive in Carmel, California

14 weeks pregnant, on 17-mile drive in Carmel, California

People told me the second trimester is the "golden trimester" as symptoms from the first start to dissipate and you're still not large enough to be uncomfortable. I found this to be very true. As such, this is a good time to get stuff done! Here are some things I would recommend:

  • Travel. We took a babymoon to California and I had enough energy to walk for 8 hours/day!
  • Dental work. You're hopefully less nauseated than in your first trimester and less large and uncomfortable sitting in a reclining pose than you will be in the third. Plus your gums need a little extra TLC while you're pregnant.
  • Get your hair done. I did not take this advice and now have to wait until the little one can go long enough without nursing for me to get my highlights done. Highlights are safe to do during pregnancy since the colour doesn't touch your scalp, but ask your doctor if other colouring is safe before going while pregnant.
  • Prepare the nursery. Do it earlier before you get too tired and big.
  • Start to think about maternity leave. I am taking approximately 4-5 months off from working, though I did have my first brief shoot over the weekend. Talk to your partner (if applicable) and discuss what is desired and realistic for you. By prepping early, you can advise your employer or clients and start to make plans. On a related note...
  • Financial planning. Unless you will be receiving Employment Insurance + full top-up from your employer, your financial situation will be affected by taking leave. Make a plan before you have to panic. I recommend speaking to a personal financial planner (more on that below).
  • Maternity clothes. Most people start needing to wear maternity-appropriate clothes once the second trimester begins. I borrowed from friends, shopped at local boutiques as well as H&M's maternity section, and also simply purchased clothing in larger sizes or with a lot of stretch.
  • Figure out home remedies and comfort strategies. Despite the magic of pregnancy, it can come with many physical discomforts. For me, heartburn was a big one and it started during the second trimester. I dealt with it using a mix of homemade shrub (a fruit vinegar) mixed with water and chewable Tums at night. Another complaint was my aching joints and hips, which I dealt with by padding my side of the bed with a thick comforter, which added extra cushioning.
  • Take care of your skin. My complexion did crazy things during pregnancy, and my abdomen began expanding rapidly. The remedy for both of these phenomena was oil! I used Pura Botanicals' Ambrosia Beautifying Serum on my face and Evening Primrose Therapy Oil on my belly and I credit both with the absence of melasma or stretch marks.
pura3.jpg

Recommended reading: Worry-Free Money: the guilt-free guide to managing your money and your life. This is written by my friend and financial planner, Shannon Lee Simmons. Shannon is a longtime friend who has been advising me on personal finances for nearly a decade. Her expertise has been invaluable to me so I was incredibly excited to read her new book. It's full of information that will help whip you into financial shape as your family grows.

THIRD TRIMESTER

IG-4194.jpg

The third trimester, naturally, is when things start getting real. Here's what you can do during this time:

  • Get the nitty gritty. I attended my hospital's prenatal class, which conveyed all the most important information about what to expect medically. I also asked my beloved OB for candid advice based on her vast experience. She was super blunt and also very encouraging, and our conversation was really reassuring. It was at this point that I decided to have no set birth plan.
  • Care for your body. The best thing I did during the final month was a "Healthy Homestretch" package that included acupuncture, prenatal massage and guided meditation at Ripple Effect Wellness. It was an excellent experience! I'd encourage you to care for yourself in whatever way feels best, and be sure to get lots of rest.
  • Meal prep! My friend Mel helped us with meal preparation, and I also baked a lot of one-handed and bite-sized snacks like pre-sliced banana bread that could be frozen and individually defrosted.
  • Make a snack station. My friend Sarah gifted me a basket of her personal favourite drinks and snacks that she'd enjoyed during nursing her own baby. I set this up beside my chair in the nursery and it sustained me during those first few weeks!
  • Maternity portraits. This is a great time to hire a photographer to take portraits for you at this special moment. I'd advise doing so earlier in your third trimester, before you get increasingly uncomfortable and have to run to the bathroom all the time.
Jada, my acupuncturist from Ripple Effect Wellness, whose manicure is always on point.

Jada, my acupuncturist from Ripple Effect Wellness, whose manicure is always on point.

Recommended reading: Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, The Birth Partner (for your partner to read), The First Forty Days

Shooting at dusk with my brother at 40 weeks and two days, 14 hours before going into the hospital to be induced. Photo: Jon Curow

Shooting at dusk with my brother at 40 weeks and two days, 14 hours before going into the hospital to be induced. Photo: Jon Curow

LABOUR + DELIVERY

My first full day as Felix's mama.

My first full day as Felix's mama.

I learned a lot about what to pack from attending my hospital prenatal class, although I only used a tiny portion of it since the delivery ward was full and I spent the day being induced, walking the halls with my IV and also standing up in a curtained bay of the assessment area for 80% of my labour. I didn't get to use any of the therapeutic items like a yoga ball or massage balls because I didn't get into the delivery room until it was time to push. But that's a story for another day!

Walking the halls for hours while my contractions intensified.

Walking the halls for hours while my contractions intensified.

Between what I learned at different prenatal classes and what I gleaned from friends, my hospital must-haves (that I actually had a chance to use) were:

  • A camera!
  • A super cozy robe
  • Comfortable slippers
  • 1-2 of your own pillows from home
  • Litres of coconut water (what I lived off during labour when I wasn't allowed anything but clear fluids)
  • Intensive moisturizer and chapstick (because you will be parched)
  • Good hair elastics that keep your hair off your face
  • Pads and an ice pack and larger cotton underwear
  • A water bottle with a straw
  • Great snacks for recovery including nourishing bone broth, high fibre friends like chia seeds and dried fruits, and high protein items like nuts and seeds. Also, I drank a chocolate milkshake as soon as I was able to and I highly recommend it.
  • A beautifully scented soap or body wash for your post-labour shower (the best shower of your life)
  • Nursing bras + tank tops
  • Grooming supplies if you care about cleaning yourself up for your first pictures with your baby/family. I packed a bright pink lipstick and I'm so glad I did, seriously. It perked me right up when I felt utterly spent and didn't want any photos initially.
  • Cozy blanket to swaddle your baby
  • Cozy clothes for baby in multiple sizes
  • Diapers and wipes for baby
  • Black pens for filling out a million forms

I hope you found this helpful! It's only a tiny bit of what I learned, so if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out.

MY MATERNITY PORTRAITS

2017-09-21_0001.jpg

In my own career, I've taken lots of maternity portraits for expecting parents, and every time it has been a pleasure. I always love hearing about their feelings in that moment, that heady mix of jubilation and apprehension. The sensation of being on the precipice of a whole new kind of life. The joy and excitement to step into new roles. Their hopes for which parts of themselves will remain steadfast and which may be changed irrevocably.

I am feeling all of these things, but first and foremost I am feeling gratitude. The journey to parenthood is different for everyone, and families shape themselves in myriad ways. I have seen families be created by surprise, careful planning and medical intervention, adoption, surrogacy, fostering, co-parenting, and all of these families are filled with so much love. Some families are formed as blissful partnerships, groups of enviably close friendships or humans and their beloved pets. Whatever warms the world with more affection and togetherness is, in my mind, what should truly define the meaning of family.

I have always adored children and have happily embraced the role of eldest of my siblings and all my cousins, babysitter, nanny, and honourary auntie of many of my friends' sweet kids. I never, ever took it for granted that I would be able to become a mother. It's not a given, and can be a challenge for many people including myself. But our baby is on the way, I am overwhelmed by happiness and awe.

It was such a special experience to have our friend Jill Coursen take maternity portraits for us here in Edmonton. She created such beautiful work, and we are so appreciative of her talent and vision! I was also very excited to have my hair and makeup done by Astrid at Eclectica Beauty. It was such a nice treat to put myself in the hands of another artist. Thanks so much to both lovely ladies.

Here are a few of my favourite images from that gorgeous sunny evening:

LIFE LATELY | 1+ YEAR IN EDMONTON

I recently calculated that if I subtract all of the crazy travel that's happened since we moved west in August, 2015, I've spent just over a year living in Edmonton now. At the beginning of a new calendar year, I felt like taking few moments and reflect on what's been happening during this time.

I've moved and travelled very often over the past few years, and I didn't realize until recently that this has profoundly shaped who I am. I have become rather bad at anything related to permanence, routine or establishing roots. To give a few examples: I have trouble stocking a pantry or shopping for groceries for more than a few days at at time, lest things go to waste in the fridge while we're away. I struggle to establish an exercise routine. I've avoided anything that requires a regular commitment like joining an organization or even volunteering. I've kept my life contained and portable, ready to pick up and relocate.

This has, I've been told, made me a malleable, adaptable person. In many ways, I still abhor routine and can be judgemental of people who I feel are rigid in the way they lead their lives. This year, being at last more rooted, I've begun to see that a lifestyle of constant change and irregularity can be challenging for both one's mental and physical well-being. It's come to my attention that rhythm and ritual can be soothing and also provide stability upon which dreams can be built.

Despite my love of planning ahead, I've kept my plans and ambitions on a short leash throughout the last few years, something that I wouldn't advise fellow business owners to do! I could look back and detail every misstep and regret and "what if..." from the past few years but the truth is that will serve up nothing but anxiety. I've done the best I could with the circumstances I've had, but now I'm feeling immensely grateful to be in one place and to have what I feel is a fresh start.

Moving to Alberta has had a much stronger effect on me than I could have predicted. Moving so far west has meant I've had to give up many things, and make certain sacrifices in order to truly begin my life here. The process of letting go has been painful at times, but I begin 2017 with an almost completely blank slate as a result of everything I've left behind. I am so excited to see what this year will bring. The most warming and encouraging aspect of life here so far has been the people. I've been touched and humbled by the welcoming nature of Edmonton and its people, both on a personal and professional level. I look forward to continuing to meet people and building a community here.

But before I jump into the year ahead, here are a few moments from the past year that were meaningful to me.

In January, we visited the Ice Castle (above), a spectacular structure! Edmonton is an awesome winter city, so it was a lot of fun to get outside and shiver through all sorts of events that celebrate the colder months, such as the Flying Canoe Festival (below).

In the spring, we bought our first home. Shortly thereafter, we welcome Pearl (our three-year-old bearded collie) to our family. Our house is a definite fixer-upper, but with lots of work and some help from our families, we're slowly making it our own. The images below were all taken this summer, so a lot has changed since then. I'm looking forward to showing some progress photos in an upcoming post.

In the early summer, we visited Montreal and Ottawa for work and play. I felt very, very homesick for my former city during this trip.

During July, Brian and I travelled to Manitoba to celebrate our 10-year friendiversary with Jessica, Mark and Peter (photos below by Jessica Antony). It was an absolute blast and I feel so lucky to have these people in my life.

This was the summer that I started shooting in the mountains as often as possible. The photos below were taken by Jennifer de Groot as I photographed Gina and Kevin's engagement portraits.

One of the highlights of my year was receiving the finished bottle of my bespoke perfume from Pura Botanicals. I am so in love with the fragrance Lane concocted for me!

In August, my sister-in-law Carolyn married her love, Brian. I was very excited to be her maid of honour and we had a blast celebrating in Vancouver with them.

Autumn brought vibrant colours, many visits to the farmer's market, Halloween, and visits from both my sister and brother in law (Carolyn and Brian), as well as my brother (Jon). We also travelled back to Ontario for my cousin Elise's wedding.

During the final months of the year, winter arrived in Edmonton and I enjoyed spending a little more time indoors, nesting excitedly as furniture we'd ordered finally began to arrive. We travelled to both Toronto and Vancouver to see family and friends and I relished this time. A particularly awesome moment was spending our first Christmas in the company of Pearl. Having a sweet little dog around is a beautiful thing. 

Here's hoping the year ahead is full of magic and excitement for you and yours!