Ava Grace's Closet
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Thursday, January 14, 2021

Life Lately


Well, it's been a hot minute hasn't it?

Life has a funny way of getting in the way of doing all the things you wish you had time to do. It's all about priorities and this past year, those priorities became all about getting through what was the strangest year ever.

I've been home on what would become the longest March Break vacation in the history of March break vacations. The week off turned into what will soon be one year away from the office. From life as I knew it. From daily drop offs at two different schools. From a morning coffee run before the drive into work. From cherished alone time in the car before starting a busy day. And also from the frantic pace that my life had become. 

And for that I am oddly grateful.

I have always been a cup half full type of person and in some ways, this year has challenged that belief. It's lead us all to a place we never thought we would be. Wondering, in this Groundhog Day existence, when it will all end. I don't know about you, but I still wake up some days in that hazy fog of early morning and for just a moment think this cannot possibly be our reality. And then realize that it indeed is.

So, here's the thing. This pandemic, if it has been anything, has been the first great equalizer. The one time where everyone, regardless of your status, financial situation, living conditions - is facing the same thing at the same time. Sure, everyone's experience is different, but as we have seen, the virus is unpredictable and doesn't choose between celebrity and common folk. I think for me, the scariest thing about it all is the sheer unpredictability of said experience. In some, it's barely a flu. In others, it's ruthless. 

We've been doing our best to stay safe. And in this, spending more time together, alone. There's something. The kids have gotten used to the dreaded "new norm" and for me personally, it's been kind of oddly, well, wonderful. Isabella has been cooking and baking up a storm. Ava writes up never-ending to do lists to ensure she keeps herself busy and keeps in touch with her friends on facetime. And Julian? Julian has been preparing for this his entire life. Secretly, I think he kind of loves that we are all just ALWAYS here. And secretly? So do I.

The girls and I watched far too many episodes of The Home Edit and have since reorganized pretty much every cupboard, closet and drawer in the entire house. We renovated the main bathroom so that the kids have a more functional space and also tackled the laundry room. I figure, if I'm going to spend so much time doing laundry, I might as well have a space that I love! We have decluttered. A LOT. And refreshed items that have been on my radar to get replaced for some time. Anyone else find that the more time you have at home, the more you find to do? GUILTY.

And so, here we are. Staring down another month long lockdown and more time to scrutinize every corner of the house. We'll online learn. We'll get outside as much as we can. We'll wave at my parents through their sliding door. We'll play barbies. We'll bake more cookies. We'll watch more netflix. We'll do MORE puzzles. And through it all, we'll be together. It ain't so bad.

Wishing each of you good health and happiness. Happy New Year 2021!


Friday, August 21, 2020

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Picks

 It's the most wonderful time of the year...

Nordstrom's annual anniversary sale event is in full swing! And although some of my favourite items sold out faster than I could say add to cart, there are still some fabulous finds available.

Here are just a few of the items on my want list:

Starting with this pretty floral number and working my way clockwise -

This Julia Jordan floral dress screams late summer, early fall. The tones in the print are perfection and I love the idea of it with high boots and a leather moto jacket.

I love the caramel colour of this Sam Edelman teddy coat. I might change my mind and wear this over the floral dress for the sheer juxtaposition of it. 

Likely one of the best deals of the entire sale this season, these over the knee suede Stuart Weitzman boots are $400 less than they normally are at $499. I have a very similiar pair (or two) but these fit like no other due to the quality of the suede that hugs your leg to perfection and the drawstring at top that allows you to tighten or loosen as you wish. A great splurge.

I have been on the hunt for a clear pair of designer sunglasses for some time. These Dior sunnies fit the bill and then some. Love the oversize frame. 

Jeans. Oh jeans, how I love thee. Truth be told, I've already purchased two amazing pairs of jeans for the upcoming season. But the deals on denim at this years sale are just too good to pass up. I have heard incredibly good things about this Good American version (and I love a great high waist) - they literally fit everybody. And I haven't seen them on sale, EVER. 

I also included a second pair, these by Madewell. I literally purchased an identical pair in a black/grey shade. High waisted with a straight leg. A great silhouette.

I ask you, can you ever have too many pairs of white sneakers? I say no. These by Adidas are almost sold out at $49.90 - no surprise there.

If quarantine has taught me anything, it's that a good variety of lounge wear is a necessity. I purchased a pair of Zella track pants earlier this year and the quality is superb - they was very well and no shrinkage! I love these lounge leggings; mostly because they look cozy AND have pockets. 

And last, the piece de resistance. I have wanted this watch for longer than I can remember or at least since Michele launched it. It is already sold out online but I can only hope that they still have stock in-store. I chose the navy but they also have a beautiful pale grey with rose gold available. The perfect mix of sporty + elegant. $329

Have you shopped the sale yet?

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Current Beauty Faves

If this time in quarantine has given us anything, it's given us time.
Time to explore.
Time to reconnect.
Time to reorganize.
And time to shop on-line way too much for new beauty goodies.
Here are just a few of my new (in + out of quarantine) favourites:

1. Matrix's Biolage Color Last Shampoo. I was gifted this shampoo and just can't get enough of it. The scent is incredible and it keeps my hair in top form. Considering I haven't seen my stylist in almost 5 months - this is no easy feat.
Available at Ulta (buy one at $19.99, get one 50% off!) and locally at Shoppers Drug Mart, here.

2. I got this product along with a few other Milk Makeup goodies as part of the birthday gift from Sephora this year. (if you haven't got yours yet, GO NOW!) I am smitten. I use it on my cheeks + lips in shade dusty rose. Find it at Sephora, here. (PS - this comes in 2 sizes - one small ($20) and one large ($37). I have the small one and will say, it has lasted forever. And by forever, I mean since the end of April.

3. I hesitated in sharing this one as it appears it is no longer available. That said, I found this one at Winners (T.J. Maxx in the U.S.) for under $7. It retails for $9.99 if you can find it at your local Walmart. It is SO good.
You can find my tried + true Shu Uemura cleansing oil here. It is $47. It is worth it.

4. If you only purchase one new goodie this year, let the Laneige Lip Mask be it. I use it every evening before bed and it is fabulous. Available at Sephora, $22/$26. (I'm using candy" but the new limited edition "gummybear" is currently on my list) 

5. Anyone else have yet to go get their nails done? I don't know. Something about how up close and comfortable they get has me waiting for - well, for a vaccine. I've been doing my own and have found the CND products (polish + top coat) to be the longest lasting. I get almost a week which is pretty impressive for non-gel polish. Find it at Walmart, $17.95 for both, here. In Canada, you can find it at Shoppers for $12.99

6. How had I never heard of The Inkey List? This product, which I believe is a fierce competitor for The Ordinary, is similiarly a no-nonsense, ridiculously well-priced line which focuses on all the key ingredients touted in skin care today. I've tried a bunch of the products but this caffeine eye cream (@ $9.99!) is a new staple. In Canada, at Shoppers Drug Mart (you can shop online and see the entire line) or at Sephora, here

7. Last, but certainly not least, is my new favourite toner - this one by Ole Henriksen. I have always loved their product line and this toner is no exception. It wipes off any last bit of makeup residue AND fights dark spots. A win win. $38 at Sephora. Find it here (and while you're at it, try the C Rush brightening gel creme and the Banana Bright vitamin C serum - I got them as part of the always sold out Mega Wonders set and all of them were stellar )

Have you tried anything new and fabulous lately?

I hope you are all well and safe.
Treat yourself. 
It's a crazy time.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Enjoying the Simple Things

It's been a little quiet around these parts - we've been focused on staying home.
Staying together.
Funny. When this pandemic was announced and we went into quarantine - I could never have imagined that it would have gone on for this long. That 4 months later, not very much has changed.
And I definitely couldn't imagine that I might one day miss this time.

It's become what some might call the "new norm". But not in the way the media is using the term.
It's become the new norm for my little family.
We're home. We're together. We have learned what's truly important. And it lies between these four walls.
I think in some odd way, we've all begun to rely on each other more.
We expect dinner to be together.
We check more if any one of us is not here.
We are just together. 

I've always been a big proponent of the little things. The simples of things.
Have always believed that therein lies the magic of memories.
Here's a test -
Think about your very favourite childhood memory.
The one you never forget; the one that if you close your eyes, you can almost remember the feeling of being there. 
For me, the fondest memories are of weeknight trips to get ice cream with my dad. Sharing a Dairy Queen banana split. 
Sunday at the beach with family - if I close my eyes, I can almost taste the peaches my mom would hand out that I would enjoy while lying on a beach towel. (and brushing sand out of my mouth that got there from hours spent digging + no one telling me to wash my hands)
The point here is that I feel we try so hard to do these extraordinary things with our children. 
Vacations, extended day trips, staying at the best hotels - and all of these things are well and good (and I love them!) but the magic?
The magic is in the simple things.

Let's never forget.
God help us if this time hasn't taught us anything.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

A Letter to Myself on my 50th Birthday

Dear Susan,
You are always writing letters to your children - in hopes of them one day reading them and understanding what they meant to you. Who they were at that particular time in their lives. And perhaps, learning a little bit more about the woman they call mom. You see, and you tell them this often, before you were "mom", you were Susan. 
You had an entire life before them. And struggled with so many of the same things. Perhaps more so.
The pickiest of eaters.
The moodiest of girls. 
You too were lazy and slept till noon.
Your mother before you tiptoed around in the early mornings so you could do so.
And though you hate to admit it, so many other things you do as a mother you learned from her.
Different. But the same.
Remember when you thought 50 was old?
Your beloved uncle Boris died at 50. Only now do you realize how young he was.
And with each passing year, somehow 60, 70 and beyond - well, they don't seem old anymore.

Susan, you have made mistakes. Wrong choices. 
And you will have put faith and love in many who did not deserve it.
But from each of these people, you will have learned valuable lessons. 
Somehow, through it all, you are still the most forgiving person you know.
It takes a lot for you to hold hatred. To not continue to see the good in people. To let go.
But when you finally do, you will have learned that they didn't deserve your goodness in the first place.
You will question yourself.
You will replay moments in your mind.
And you will wonder how you didn't see all of it sooner.
Today, on your 50th Birthday, you will learn that there are Judas' among us. And that you have met more than your fair share of them.

You will learn that things that happened in childhood will carry you through life.
And though they will be sometimes be foggy, your memories will be good ones.
Times at the beach.
Times waiting for your ever so social mother to come out to the car when you were all but asleep.
All the family singing.
Which you thought was so ridiculous then, will move you to tears now.
You will have cried many times about the one day loss of your parents. The mere thought of it always having been too much.
And this past year will have tried you.
You will almost have lost your beloved dad. And he will have changed. You will need to remember the man he was because he too will face his own challenges and struggles that you may not always understand.
Getting old is hard.
Your mom will have been hospitalized for far too long.
And you will see the strongest person you ever knew become weak and childlike.
You will have to juggle keeping up at home, work and hospital visits.
You will have become a caretaker.
Your roles will have reversed.
And oh, there will be a pandemic.
Susan, your first love will break you.
It will.
It has deep roots and most of them are painful. They will leave you not knowing what true love is.
They will leave you thinking it has to hurt to be love.
And you will have struggled with this for a long time.
It will make you accept less.
It will have you thinking it is o.k. 
Sometimes, it will have you thinking you deserve it.
But then, one day.
One fine day.
Someone will come along and change all that.
And only then, then, will you learn what it means to truly get and give love.
It will be worth the wait.

You are a good mother.
You will always prefer cats to dogs.
You love fresh crisp sheets and a clean house.
You love the written word and photographs.
When life is hard, you are extra nostalgic.
Of ten getting lost in memories of years gone by.
You are funny.
You always put on a brave face. Even on hard days.
And you are a good friend.
Sometimes, getting a word in with you is tough.
You talk too much.
You think too fast.
And you laugh too loud.
You love chocolate. Coffee. Cookies.
And the simplest of food.
You are social. But you love to be alone.
You are a hugger.
You are a collector.
You are a good daughter.
Today, you are 50.
Happy Birthday to you.

Friday, January 10, 2020

7 in 7 Interview with Dr. Nathan Rosen - Your Questions Answered

Today's post is sponsored by Allergan Canada. All views and opinions are strictly my own.

Following my visits to Dermetics throughout last year for all of my JUVÉDERM® filler consultations and subsequent treatments; I received a ton of questions.
Some of you DM'd through instagram.
Others emailed me.
Friends and family cornered me in person.
But resoundingly, the SAME questions were being asked by all women.

And so, this post was born.
I reached out to the incomparable Dr. Nathan Rosen from Dermetics, who personally completed all of my injections. I truly feel blessed. He is one of the best in the industry (though he would modestly deny that) and not only a true professional, but also generally awesome human.

Dr. Rosen took time out of his insane schedule to answer these questions for me and play my "7 in 7" lightening round. More on that later!
So, what were the top 3 questions I received from my readership base following that initial post?
Read on.

What questions should I ask my doctor?

What are your credentials? What is your experience? 

What are the potential complications and how would they be dealt with if they occur? Show me your before and after photos.   

Does it hurt? (!) Any side effects like swelling/bruising?

Some areas are definitely more sensitive then others,

(read: lips) however it is a lot more pleasant than a visit to the dentist AND the reward is looking and feeling better!  

Bruising and swelling are the most common side effects, however, both are usually mild and short-lived.

How does pricing work? + How long does it last? (tied)

All pricing is related and based on what you need or hope to get done and will therefore vary greatly from person to person and potentially treatment to treatment.  

Most people will look to top up an area at about the one year mark after initial treatment.  

Now that I had our famous doctor cornered, I thought it might be fun to do a lightening round of questions (including some I personally had) and he was game.
I told you he was a generally awesome human.
7 questions
7 minutes
And, GO!

 Will I look "done"? Fake?
Not if you do your research ahead of time and go to a reputable clinic, like Dermetics.

Can you do anything to lessen the pain of injections?
We use several distraction techniques and there is lidocaine, an anaesthetic agent, in the filler itself. 

If I only had the budget for one area, where would you recommend I start?
This is specific to the individuals needs. During your consultation, you will build a treatment plan with your trusted injector based on your goals and your budget.

Is any treatment area more painful than another?
  Most people find lips are the most sensitive area to treat. 

What is the biggest misconception about fillers?
You are paying for results, not for syringes of filler - so don’t shop based on price per syringe

At what age should I consider starting fillers?
When you are concerned about volume-related changes or decide that you want to prevent early signs of aging. 

I keep hearing about MD Codes™. What does it mean?
It is a unique approach to facial fillers that helps patients and doctors align in treatment goals, by first assessing emotional goals in order to help plan and execute that treatment.  

How long will the treatment last?
Depends on the area, amount and the individual, however. studies show that results with JUVÉDERM® can last up to 9-24 months, depending on the treatment chosen. 
Read more about that here.

I see advertising for fillers everywhere. Why is it important to use a medically trained physician?
This is a medical procedure, and although rare, serious complications can happen.  An expert physician injector will be able to minimize the risk and deal with complications should they occur.

 Any last piece of advice?
Do your research. Find an experienced, credentialed doctor and have a consultation.  Only go ahead if you are comfortable in their approach, and they are in line with your aesthetic.  

I sincerely thank Dr. Rosen and the team at Dermetics for treating me like I was famous from start to finish.
I couldn't imagine a better experience. Read more about JUVÉDERM® here.


Friday, December 20, 2019

Holiday Ready with Juvederm

Today's post is sponsored by Allergan Canada. All views and opinions are my own.

If you follow me on instagram, you would have seen a sneak peek of my recent return visit to Dermetics in Burlington for my follow-up treatment after being treated with JUVÉDERM® 
fillers almost a year ago.
As the holiday season quickly approaches, it seemed like the absolute perfect time to make sure that not only was my wardrobe ready for the numerous events and family gatherings booked, but that my face was too.

I absolutely loved my last experience with the juvederm product and was so excited to see what the doctor thought about what we might need to do to maintain my {ahem} youthful glow.
I cannot tell you how many times friends and family would say - "you look different, better - but I can't really put my finger on what is different".
THAT. That is exactly what I was after.
My goal was, and is, always about feeling better about myself. Looking more feminine and youthful. And never looking like anything but myself, only better.
{unedited photo of my make up free face prepping for consultation and treatment}
 I was so blessed to have Dr. Rosen treat me again this go-around.
I believe, the doctor/patient relationship is so vital - he had a clear understanding of the look I am comfortable with and had a full history of what I had treated in the past.
What I loved (read: a little lip!) and what made the biggest impact on my overall appearance.

This visit was no different from my previous visit in that we reviewed and assessed what I had done since the last time I was in the clinic - followed by a thorough assessment of my skin.
We decided on what the treatment plan would be and where he would place the facial filler.
In some cases, to my surprise, areas that I had treated almost a year ago, didn't need a touch-up yet! And so, we moved forward with the nasal labial folds, each side of my chin - (left and right bottom of my face which were starting to appear saggy), a touch in each cheek and in my upper lip.

If I had to say what my very favourite part of the overall treatment process is with fillers? I would have to say be being able to see results almost instantly.
The photograph below was taken at home immediately following the visit.
If you look closely, you can see a few tiny pin prick marks where the injection sites were and a very slight bruise on my lower left side of my face.
Both of these had all but disappeared within a couple of days and were not anything I couldn't cover with a tiny bit of concealer 12 hours after the injections resulting in little to no down-time for me.
{this photo was taken the same day as treatment,}
I wanted to also share "real life" photos from before and after treatment as this is where I feel the true impact comes for me. Images on the left show me as less firm and almost hollow in areas whereas images on the right show skin as much more taut and I see a significant difference around the bottom of my face where the overall jaw line appears smoother.
Can you spot the very slight bit of filler in the lip area?
Not meant to appear overdone,but rather, just used to even out the entire appearance.
I am super pleased with the results and SO ready to get the holiday festivities started.

Have you ever tried facial fillers?
Would love to hear about your experience!
To learn more and find a clinic near you, click here.