2022 Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

Does Romance Still Exist in Our Pandemilovato?

Does romance still exist in 2022? In Toronto, we’re in our 164th lockdown (I can’t keep track), the most adorable restaurants are closing minute by minute, and our country’s leader is in hiding due to the cavalcade of bible-thumping racists increasing emissions with empty trucks. We could use a little cute, but I think expectations of romance might be beyond the scope, this year.

The gift guides for her I’ve seen online stating the #1: a robe and #2: fuzzy slippers give me some real second-hand embarrassment. If you ever get a woman a robe, she’ll know your relationship’s on the rocks. Let me tell you what she doesn’t want. Your lady does not want a teddy bear. Heart-shaped jewelry is not joining us in 2022. She does not want cheap corner store chocolates/ candy. There’s only a couple acceptable candles, and we’ll get to that later. For the love of all things holy: if you buy her the fragrance your mother or your ex wears, you deserve to be left alone. Forever. Ghosted, probably.

The caveat: I’m writing this to you as a single, 34-year old cis/het woman who is currently in a 10-day lockdown because my 3 vaccines, 0 symptoms, and I “tested positive” upon return from Mexico City. Take from this what you will, but I know what I want and I think I have a good idea what women like me would like, too. I know that my apartment has no stuffed animals or trashy lingerie, and the only cheap chocolates I have are the ones I bought online since I literally cannot leave my home right now.

The Basic Gifts

A Card

Whether you’ve just started dating or you’ve been married for years, it’s always nice to let your partner know how much they mean to you. Get a cute card (Indigo has tons!) Give a few words of affirmation, share a sweet memory, and be specific about all the things you adore about them.

 

Flowers

At the beginning of the pandemic I got a stunning arrangement from Inspire Design Studio. They have bundles for $35 and vases for $9.50. Tonic Blooms has never steered me wrong, but their bundles are upwards of $70 plus delivery. If you buy her flowers, make sure she has a vase, and look up how to cut and arrange said flowers in a vase of that size. If she doesn’t have a vase and you insist on going the flower route, buy one for her. It doesn’t have to be pricy – it’s just a vessel!

Chocolates

We’re just coming off of Christmas where I had to beg my parents to limit the chocolate in our stockings (first world problems, I’m well aware!) We’re all trying to keep balanced throughout these lockdowns. If you’re going to buy your partner chocolate, do it right. Each Chocolat de Kat is a tiny piece of edible art. Kata Ambrus trained in Classic French Pastry Arts program at the International Culinary Centre in NYC. Her shop is located in the St. Clair West neighbourhood of Toronto. The above chocolate heart is $12 + HST and a 25 piece gift box (with delicious flavours like pear jasmine, salted caramel praline, Vietnamese coffee, hazelnut hot chocolate, chili tahini, classic champagne, and many more) runs about $65 + HST.

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Aunt Beth’s Gourmet Cookies

Beth Havers (aka “Aunt Beth”) has been baking since she was a little girl, and worked as a whisk(e)y ambassador and educator for almost as long. She’s combined her love of both and has developed recipes using bourbon, scotch, Irish, and Canadian whiskies for some absolutely fantastic whisky-infused cookies. On the menu at present, you’ll find crinkle cookies (made with Woodford Reserve), Santa’s Secret (Dark chocolate, candy cane, and a splash of Irish Cream), Maker’s Mark Bourbon Barrel Chocolate Chip, Jameson’s Cold Brew Espresso Yourself Chocolate Chunk, Hearts on Fire (with Fireball whisky), Canadian Club Rye and Ginger, The Singleton Speyside Big Short (butter and toffee), Jameson’s Irish Double Double, The Smoke Show (made with Ardbeg), and Straight Up Chocolate Chip (no alcohol). They ship to Canada and the US. For the whisky-lover in your life, head over to her website!

Lip Gloss

I would typically prefer to buy cosmetics myself, but a touch of pink gloss from Dior ($44), Gucci ($42), or Dolce & Gabbana ($56.50) is a fabulous gift for someone you think would want something to unwrap on Valentine’s Day. The packaging on these sweet little products is so darling, too!

Soft Loungewear

Again, if she’s the kind of gal who needs something to unwrap, cute and comfy loungewear might be the key. While the promise of lockdowns ending forever is on the horizon, I just don’t trust creepy Uncle Douggie. Stylish loungewear is here to stay, and Tara Rivas not only has super soft loungewear, but also formalwear, dresses, and designs made to order. Bonus: they’re having their end of year sale, and the shorts above are on sale for $44 (size XS – XL). Ethically and Canadian made clothing with free shipping? Count me in!

A Memory Immortalized

If you’re married (or if you’ve got a special song), this First Dance Lyrics framed art piece is a beautiful way to commemorate a beautiful shared memory. The centre image is a star map showing the alignment of the stars and constellations from your wedding day (or any other symbolic day for you, lovebirds!)

Flutterfly Stone Initial Necklace

I’m not a huge jewelry gal, but if someone were to get me my (or his!) initial in this sweet little necklace, I’d wear it every day. Available in 18k gold plated, 18k rose gold plated, or rhodium plated over brass with cubic zirconia stones and imitation pearls, the necklace is priced at $68 USD and is available here.

Valentine’s Day Kicks

I’m still relegated to flats after a tumble several months ago. I love cute sneakers, and if your partner does too, these Adidas Superstar, Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars, and Nike Women’s Air Max sneaks are ADORABLE and are a great way to tell them you love them if you have a hard time saying the words out loud.

The “It” Gift

If you have $500 + HST to blow and she’s *That Girl* on TikTok (or is trying to be), I present to you: the Dyson Air Wrap. If this is you then I have questions, but go off.

Olaplex

Hair care is expensive! We all know and love Olaplex. When in doubt, click here.

YSL Handbag

I’d probably lose my mind if someone ever got me a YSL Handbag (the guilt!), but I’d be remiss if I didn’t include a handbag on this list. Maybe it’s due to the fact that manufacturers don’t put pockets on women’s pants, but a divine handbag will always catch my eye, and this YSL 5 à 7 hobo bag is the one I can’t seem to forget. It goes with everything, has an adjustable strap, and from a trend perspective has long-term staying power. With a price tag of $2,430 + HST, I’m not holding my breath!

Experiences

people skating on ice

Go Skating

Skating is a great, affordable option for a Valentine’s Day date. If your relationship is new, it’s a cute way to *break the ice* and hold your partner’s hand for an extended period. Wear a cute mask and bring a thermos of hot chocolate to keep the date going once you’re off the ice.Valentine's Day Toronto Charcuterie

A Picnic

Yes – you can have a picnic inside. If you’re having her over, a good, old fashioned pillow fort plus wine and charcuterie is all I would need for some good quality time. If acts of service are your jam, grab some cured meats, artisanal cheese, olives, fruits, veggies, dips and some bread, pita, and/or pretzels and you’re off to the races. The Cheese Boutique has you covered. Add a splash of colour with some macarons from Nadège. Bonus points if you’re secure enough in your masculinity to drink rosé (Vanderpump is on sale at the LCBO, and Victoire is an always accessible Champagne at $42.95!) If you’re not super creative in the kitchen and want someone to get it all done on your behalf so you can focus on spending time together, give All the Graze an order. Available for pick-up and delivery, their boxes start at $55. Their image above is just a small-scale rendering of the insanely beautiful grazing stations they make!Cocktail Kit - Love of Cocktails - Ahma

Love of Cocktails

Add an activity! Shake up some cocktails together. Love of Cocktails has cocktail kits for $115 (pick-up only) as well as classes for $98 on February 12 and 14 at 7:30 PM. The class includes 1 welcome cocktail, a small charcuterie board, a take home cocktail gift set ($35 value) and 3 Valentine’s themed Cocktail Recipes:

  • Honey Collins – a tall and fresh drink that’s honey sweet but with a touch of pucker-y tartness
  • Hibiscus Rose Sour – fluffy, velvety and floral
  • Smoked Maple Old Fashioned – a classic with flavours of smoke and maple

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Little Sister Dutch Indo Food Bar

If you’re looking for something a little different, Little Sister (my favourite Dutch-Indo spot in Toronto) is doing a Valentine’s Day special grazing box called Nasi Campur. This Indonesian platter is centred around a scoop of rice and includes portions of meats, vegetables, peanuts, eggs, and shrimp crackers. This Valentine’s Day, their Nasi Campur is available for $80 and includes dessert for 2 and 2 cocktails by the wonderful Robin Wynne.

The Candle

If you’ve made it here (first of all, thank you) – you’ve made it to the moment where I tell you how I really feel about candles, bath bombs, and lotion. These gifts would show me you’ve never paid attention while at my place. They involve no personalization, in my world. As someone who reviews skincare, my bathroom (and closet) are full of personal grooming products. There are shelves on shelves of the stuff. Please, no more.

As far as candles go, same thing. I’ve got enough, thanks! If you’re hellbent on a candle, let’s make one together at Kandl Artistique! This hidden gem in Yorkville makes candles for Tom Ford, Estée Lauder, Jonathan Adler, and now – me! It’s the perfect spot to pop into for a dessert, coffee, and/ or a cocktail while making your very own customized candle. When I went, we pumped some tunes and got to work smelling the various fragrances and determining picks for top notes, middle notes, and base notes. The entire experience took about 90 minutes and cost $95 per person + HST. Reservations are available Wednesday through Sunday.Unchained Athletics - YouTube

Fitness

Classes anywhere but Goodlife ain’t cheap in this city. I’m hoping you’re not a douche canoe reading this thinking: wonderful – she’s telling me I can make my gal lose a couple o’ pounds. No, if she already enjoys working out or has indicated to you that this is something in which she has interest, then (and only then) is this appropriate.

If she’s already mentioned an interest in weightlifting, get THE BOTH OF YOUS a session or two with Brenna or Eddie at Unchained Athletics. They have programs for every fitness level, and when weightlifting can be so inaccessible to women, they make it really comfortable. Class sizes are small, so you really get the attention you need to build a solid foundation so you can eventually lift heavy. Get her some gloves and wraps if she’s interested in boxing!

6IX Cycle - Spin Studio - Home | Facebook

If you’re one of those “competitive about almost everything” kind of guys, she’ll probably prefer that you don’t chirp her at every chance. Give 6ix Cycle a chance if this is you and you’re still looking to enjoy some exercise together. It’s currently $60 for a 2 week intro membership. The dark lights and loud music in this spin class will dull out any chance a conversation.

Not to shy away from the lockdown insanity, owner Julie Harrish has also started yoga at 6ix Flow. “6IX Flow is a music based, beat driven, candle-lit, sweat-infused hot yoga practice to help you connect movement to breath with full intention, while connecting to your body and the beat.” I don’t know about you, but that sounds like my kind of Valentine’s Day.

Little Mordecai Chapel of Love

This one’s ridiculous – and I LOVE IT. If you’ve been waiting through lockdown after lockdown to get hitched, February 12th or 13th might just be your lucky day! E-mail emily@barmordecai.com

“Save your air miles & elope to Vegas right here in Toronto. Bar Mordecai’s Vegas-themed private room will be transformed over Valentine’s weekend (February 12th & 13th) into a wedding chapel inspired by the hallowed halls of the quickie wedding capital of the world, Las Vegas.”

You Bring: 

  • Your marriage license from City Hall
  • Up to 8 friends and family to witness your declarations of love
  • Yourselves!

They Provide:

  • A decorated wedding chapel in the spirit of the Vegas strip’s best destinations of love
  • A legal officiant
  • A photographer to document the festivities, a 30 minute photo session in their beautiful restaurant space post-ceremony & a minimum of 50 high resolution print-ready images as well as a web gallery that can be shared with friends & family
  • A celebratory toast for up to 10 people
  • An Elvis Serenade
  • A bouquet & boutonnière (or two of either if you prefer)
  • A 30 minute winter wonderland micro reception on a covered & heated patio

Kiss, Couple, Happy People, New Years Eve Toronto Lifestyle Blog

If you already live together

Okay great – you like each other enough to know you want to live together. When I’ve lived with partners in the past, I never had a situation where I had to “nag”. Maybe that’s why I’ve been single for the past 4 years, but the last couple of times I lived with people we made the effort to clean up after ourselves/ one another every day. With Adonis, I worked 60 + hours a week. He wasn’t working at all. He took care of the laundry, I bought the groceries, and we’d cook and clean together. With ex Co-P, he knew that my apartment only had a washer (it’s not common in Korea to have a dryer), so he would toss my laundry in with his so that my poor, stretched out clothing would get some life back. It’s also a dream to have warm, fuzzy towels and blankets tossed your way fresh outta the dryer.

37,635 Man Doing Housework Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock

If you live together and you’re lucky enough to have someone maintain the domicile on your behalf what is she, your mother? Take some time to do something helpful without asking. Don’t weaponize incompetence. Do the dishes, dusting, laundry, and other acts of service right the first time. Take the trash out without her having to ask. Surprise her by fixing or upgrading something you’ve already been discussing.

If you want to make this really special, send her out for a manicure or pedicure (do yourself a favour and book at Kuko House), hair appointment, or a massage to get her out of the house while you work your magic. And please – make the appointment on her behalf and give the salon your credit card number, for goodness’ sake!

Final Thoughts

If you can’t do any of the above, please – for the love of all things holy – MAKE A RESERVATION. It’s truly the bare minimum and will be so very appreciated.

Have you discovered your partner’s love language? Words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, receiving gifts, or physical touch can determine how your person will react to your Valentine’s Day plans. Gift giving is an art. The perfect gift shows that you’ve been paying attention and that you can anticipate your partner’s needs. For me, eating, drinking, and spending time with my dreamy guy is all I need for a day celebrating love.

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Dating Diaries: You Need to Learn How to Flirt Again

You need to learn how to flirt again.  I need to learn how to flirt again. We all need to learn how to flirt again.

Last night I ended up on an accidental double date. My newlywed friends had just moved to my neighbourhood, and due to the pandemic we got to celebrate neither their wedding nor their housewarming together. We were having some impromptu cocktails and a catch-up when a friend of theirs arrived. We are all double-vaxxed and the idea of meeting a meeting human is truly invigorating, to me, so when he started making various references to a particular woman in his life I found it disarming. Cool – he’s off the market and this is not at all a set-up. We’re golden. Let’s eat some pizza and get a little toasted. We’re all friends here. We’re comfortable. This is great.

It wasn’t until a couple of hours into the soirée that it unraveled that the woman he kept mentioning had made a very recent departure. He had broken up with said partner of a few years just a couple of days prior. As the drinks wore on, he started to put the vibe out there by caressing my shoulder and back. I hope the word “caress” makes you feel questionably repulsed, because that’s where I was – sitting in a small space with some friends and a super weird vibe. Sure – I’ve been on some pandemic dates, and our small group was all double-vaxxed, but I didn’t know him from Adam and he was tending to some really fresh wounds.

We left the condo and decided to try our luck at a bar, knowing full well with no reservation at almost midnight it was a bit of a pipe dream. Almost immediately, newly-single Sal started pulling me back so we *could talk*. He accused me of disliking him in the most bizarre way: “I think you’re a good looking girl – you’re beautiful, you’re fun, but we need to bury the hatchet.”

What hatchet?

This continued an excessive amount throughout the course of the evening. “Let me buy you a shot and let’s bury the hatchet.” “I’m going to buy us a drink and we’ll bury the hatchet.” “I like you a lot, but let’s bury the hatchet.”

What. Hatchet?!

In earnest, I had no idea if he was flirting with me or if I even wanted to engage in flirting with newly-single Sal. The compliments followed by “BUT” made it seem like they were completely negated by the rest of his sentence. Which was fine, but what was this dude’s point? I kept reassuring him that there was no hatchet, no animosity, no bad blood, but buddy just was not getting it. With every pull of my arm to isolate me from our friends, I was growing aggravated.

To my own dismay, I often play the role of “Good Luck Chuck”. Right now, I’m actually really satisfied only having to parent plants. If someone comes along and is incredibly special and those sparks hit, then absolutely I would love to be in a relationship. I don’t, however, feel as though it’s my responsibility to tend to a random dude’s broken heart on Dundas West on a Saturday night.

Ultimately, because I wasn’t engaging in the kind of behaviour for which he was hoping, he walked away to socialize with another group of young women. Awesome. I had heard about enough about this damned hatchet and wanted to enjoy one of the first nights of liberty as we enter a post-apocalyptic pandemic world without this man’s stressful energy.

He eventually came back as we were served our Gigglewater fries (iykyk) and he told me that I should leave. I’m the one that should leave because he wasn’t getting the kind of reaction to his advances he thought he deserved and the attention he craved. The three of us just stood there less in awe than in blank, exasperated silence. It was late. We were tired. We’re too old to be having a rager of a night, which quite frankly would have been impossible because I have an injury and it’s still Footloose in Uncle Dougie’s Ontario. Dancing is, indeed, still a crime. I don’t know what happened to Sal that night, but our carriage turned into a pumpkin and into an Uber. Our night was done and dusted.

I need to re-learn how to flirt. We all need to relearn how to flirt. But, if you give it a couple of shots and he/she/they aren’t interested, we all need to relearn how to be respectful and give it a rest.

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Dating Diaries – Vaccine Badges: Public Safety or Publicity Stunt?

stay home stay safe

Stay Home + Stay Safe = Stay Single

While the pandemic has put most things on pause, it has also brought to light various ethical dilemmas. Uncle Dougie has kept us cooped up, sad, and single for more than 360 days as of today in various twists on “stay at home order”.

According to Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, “In terms of simple business closures, Toronto has probably had the longest lockdown in North America, and possibly the world.” Looking around at the rest of the world, I question the necessity of these extreme measures. I have tried to be the dutiful, respectful, tax-paying citizen doing my part of the cause for the most part, but has it really done us any good?

Dating Apps Vaccine Badges

The Pandemic Has Changed the Apps

There seems to be a bit of a subculture which has made niches of the main 3 apps people use in Toronto. Tinder was for casual hookups, bumble was for beta boys who need the woman to take the lead, and hinge tended to be for those invested in getting finding a relationship. I feel like the pandemic has thrown a lot of this out the window. Surprisingly, most of my friends who have gotten into serious monogamous relationships during the pandemic have met through Tinder.

Vaccine Badges

I was asked yesterday how I felt about “vaccine badges”. They haven’t made their way to the apps yet in Canada, but either way – I am rapidly losing interest in swiping left and right and then never talking. A badge isn’t going to change that. When it comes to the vaccine, I have developed a couple of notions for those who declare their vaccine status in their bios. Let’s start with vaxxed and anti-vax.Covid-19 Vaccine Badges

The Anti-vaxxers Aren’t Always Anti-Maskers

If he’s hesitant about the vaccine (or against it altogether), but has taken a dip in the pool at Cabana, I think it’s clear that we have fundamental differences in belief systems and values. By that same token, if he thinks he’s important enough for Bill Gates to have installed a microchip in his arm, he’s probably a little too self-involved for me. I think it’s pretty clear that anti-maskers effect others, while anti-vaxxers risk their own health. If you want to dick around with long-term, mystery side effects, that’s on you, bb.

Covid Vaccine Badge Research

Personally, I think it’s wise to get the vaccine to keep yourself out of the hospital and to leave resources for those who actually need them. My ideal partner understands/ respects the mRNA research which has been ongoing since the 1960’s. He doesn’t have a PhD from WebMD and he doesn’t believe everything his crazy Uncle George posts on Facebook. My ideal partner would have gotten the vaccine not JUST because it would keep him safe from COVID-19, but because getting the jab is a direct contribution to the return of normal, pre-pandemic life.

You would think that based on the aforementioned, I’d be hugely in favour of a vaccine badge. In reality, the badge itself doesn’t really make a difference for me. At this stage, I’m not sure how vaccine badges would be verifiable. This, to me, is just another opportunity for people to lie on their online resume – er, bio. If you’re really interested and it’s really a priority for you, ask the question. Have a conversation with the person. If their values don’t align with yours, u n m a t c h.

The only way to weed out the ones who are DEFINITELY not for me would be if there was an anti-vax badge, and (for obvious reasons) I don’t see the apps doing that. To the men who are advertising that they’ve received their first shot (of two) and stating that they’re “fully vaxxed” – Sir, are you sure you understand the assignment? Yes – you’ve got some antibodies, but we’re not quite out of the woods. Finally, when a dude’s entire online effort is limited to “6′, because apparently it matters”, I don’t think a rinky-dink badge is going to push me to swipe right.

Vaccine, Doctor, Injection, Syringe

For those bragging that they have had both doses – and let’s say, for argument’s sake, that it’s true – flexing that you’re vaccinated is the opposite of wearing a mask. Hear me out: when you wear a mask you’re showing that you’re protecting other people from your germs. When you brag about being vaccinated, however, the cynic in me feels kind of like you’re saying, “hey – Netflix and chill will be safe … for me. Choose your own adventure!” Might as well f*ck without a condom, right bro?

Injection, Syringe, Vaccine, Medical, Health, Medicine

The Badge is Bullsh*t

While dating apps seem to be a necessary evil, I’m hoping that once we’re all vaxxed, waxed, and relaxed, I can delete them once and for all. I yearn for the “before days” of bar-hopping; trying to find the cheapest shots and cutest guys. Dating apps have ruined the magic of the meet-cute. Even if there are fireworks (rare/ never guaranteed), they’ve conditioned us to always look out to see if someone better will come along. I don’t have all the answers; in fact, I may not have any. In my opinion vaccine badges are just another marketing gimmick. Just like you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t judge a bio by a badge.

Vaccine Badges Pinterest Pin ThatGirlCartier

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I (wanna) Whip My Hair Back & Forth

 

If you’ve read any of my skincare posts, you’ll note that I am a *wash, go, glow* kinda gal. I don’t like to spend a ton of time with LED gadgets and sheet masks. I’ll pay the ADHD tax: if it works and saves me time, I’ll use it ’til it doesn’t. My haircare routine needs to be simple and straightforward. This year, my haircare routine has been from the inside out.

Until October of 2019, my main mane had really never given me any attitude. I would have been pleased if it grew a little faster, but ultimately it was pretty resilient given that I had been nearly every colour under the sun (click here for my pumpkin head and the creamsicle fix). I had been platinum blonde for about 3 years. The upkeep was insanely time consuming, it was (of course!) drastically damaging, and I was starting to feel really feel inauthentic.

How anyone thought I was anything but a bottle blonde was beyond me, and in October of 2019 I not only returned to my roots (well, not the gray ones), but I chopped a good chunk right off. This is when my stress really started to catch up with me. For the next year or so, my Leo locks were limp and listless. Not quite the kind of wild and untamed I aimed to be.

Like everyone else in Toronto, 2020 was a year with few haircuts. I dyed my hair at home every 3 months or so; whenever the gray started to be more prominent than I could bear. If you click the image above, you can see on the left that my hair was falling out in chunks and I was clinging to the notion that it looked layered rather than entirely unhealthy.

In August I had wanted to get a trim to rid myself of split ends, but ultimately had to take the length to about my chin. My hair was falling out in clumps in the shower and I was getting scared.

 

Nature's Bounty, Biotin, 10,000 mcg, 120 Rapid Release Softgels

Biotin

Biotin (vitamin B7) is one of several vitamins that play a role in the growth of thick and healthy hair. Studies have shown that use of biotin produces a significant increase in hair growth in people with a deficiency. Biotin stimulates keratin production in hair and can increase the rate of follicle growth. Bonus: My nails have finally gotten to a length where I can get cute nail art!

Viviscal

While biotin is an important ingredient in most effective hair growth vitamins, it is not the only one. In the summer of 2019 I was introduced to Viviscal. I heard many stories about women who were working with entirely new bodies after pregnancy – including their hair. I didn’t think my life had really changed all that much, I mean – I hadn’t birthed life or anything.

Stress can manifest in some pretty intense ways, and I guess this was how my body was handling what my heart and mind refused to let in. I had a couple of packages of the supplements kicking around, and thought I should give it a go.

“Viviscal Extra Strength dietary supplements contain the exclusive marine complex Amino Mar C™ as well as Iron, Niacin, Biotin, Zinc, Vitamin C and Horsetail Extract to nourish hair from within. Viviscal Extra Strength has been scientifically proven to nourish thinning hair and promote existing hair growth.”

Truth be told, I’m very sensitive to scent, so the topical products aren’t 100% for me. I take 2 tabs of Viviscal (of the recommended 4) and supplement with additional biotin every day. I’m not a doctor and this is not medical advice. I’ve noticed a big, bold change in the way my hair has responded.

9 Reasons to Try A Deep Conditioner | Biolage

Biolage

My bathroom looks like a small-town drugstore. I have a shelving unit packed to the brim with skincare and hair products, and you would think that I had 5 roommates if you looked in my shower. I get a sent a plethora of products to review, and they’re not always great. Biolage was a pleasant change. I use the products to follow every time I wash and style my hair.

Biolage All-In-One Coconut Infusion Multi-Benefit Spray

All-In-One Coconut Infusion Multi-Benefit Treatment Spray

This product is for all hair textures and types. It can be used on wet or dry hair, but I spray my brush with as a leave-in conditioner to detangle my hair before blow-drying, but you could rinse it after a minute or two. It helps to enhance shine, fight frizz, detangle, protect from heat, prevent split ends. The scent is very mild and features notes of mandarin, rose and sandalwood.

Ultra HydraSource Shampoo and Conditioner for Very Dry Hair

Travel Size Argan Oil Treatment 3.4oz

Argan Oil

I get my Argan Oil at Sally Beauty Supply where I also pick up my Wella hair dye. I think my stylist might kill me if I used box dye, but it’s a Global Panna Cotta and at-home styling is the only option. Agran Oil is high in antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and vitamin E. It helps to hydrate and soften hair.

John Frieda Weightless Wonder Smoothing Crème

This aloe water-infused formula is designed for fine frizzy hair, but it tames my thick tresses well. If I’m not looking for the ultra-shine from argan oil, I’ll use this product to smooth and hydrate my hair without weighing it down. While it can be used on wet hair, I actually prefer to use a tiny bit for problem areas once my hair is dry and has been styled.

Water

I drink about 4 litres of water at my desk throughout the course of the day. Since I upped my water intake, my hair and skin have really responded. Think about it – we’re made up of 70% water. We’re really just houseplants with complicated emotions.

A year ago I would have been nervous to put my hair in a ponytail for fear of the elastic ripping it out. Now I practically live with a top knot. Hair loss is a strange and foreign thing. Until I experienced it myself, it just wasn’t on my radar.

What are your holy grail hair products? Let me know in the comments below!

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2020: I Dated More During a Global Pandemic Than I Did the Last 2 Years

Toronto Dating Stories

I’m 33 and a half and am still single. I know – shocker! As we wind down the year, I tend to be reflective. All year I’ve been telling people that 2020 wasn’t as bad as 2019, because 2019 really and truly was a shit year for me and plenty of people I know. The end of 2020 is really giving me a run for my money, however.

Toronto Dating Stories

I’d say it takes at least 2 years to really ground yourself in new surroundings. Even though I’m a Torontonian born and raised (yes, real Toronto, not GTA) every time I’ve returned it’s been like I’m brand new and all kinds of lost. 2018 and 2019 I met a lot of people, and in 2020 it appears I’ve tried a few on for size at boyfriend auditions.

Toronto Dating Stories

I’ve met some really shitty people here. I’m sad to say my hometown is full of ’em. Hell – I’ve been a pretty shitty person on plenty of occasions. Perhaps that’s why I was recently the target of a catfishing affair. I think I know who it was. This person will feel very vindicated for the aforementioned declaration that I was a shitty person, but in that scenario I was only the villain because they adore playing the victim. They are selfish and toxic and though I’m sad to have had to create a boundary with them, I really don’t miss their energy and how it effected me. Scroll down to the end for more on that *fun* story time.

Toronto Dating Stories

Since February 2020 I’ve lived alone. My home office from which I’ve worked for the past 9 months is 5 feet away from my bed. My “home gym” consisting of two pathetic free weights, a kettle bell, and a stationary bike I had the foresight to buy the first week of the pandemic are tucked away kiddie-corner ten feet from my bed. It’s close quarters here and hard to feel lonely because imagining more than one person’s stuff in this space makes my muscles tense and my heart beat faster than I’d like. Still, this year I’ve dated more than the last two.

Toronto Dating Stories

2020 has been a busy year for finding out exactly who and what I don’t want. Maybe I’ll feel possessed to make this a series down the line, so let’s make a link-able list:

  • Before I moved, I gave the newly-minted lawyer with mommy issues another try. Once was enough this year.
  • My self-proclaimed “Crazy Rich Asian” made appearances up until May, but after two and a half years it just wasn’t going to go anywhere.
  • There was the guy who showed up drunk and heckled the headliner at a comedy bar designed for stoners (genuinely – the quietest comedy bar in existence) pre-covid.
  • Virtual dates never amounted to anything, but made me feel like I was doing something new and cool during a time where the entire world was on pause.
  • One virtual date escalated to a socially distant walk. He talked about toilet paper brands for at least 4 blocks.
  • There was the Hollywood Director who came back to Toronto to finish his feature film. He had ghosted me in November 2019 and by June 2020 was ready to make amends. Candidly – his movie sounds corny with overdone themes. He was so comfortable to be around and I really did like him. Alas, if it could have turned out any other way it would have.
  • The psychiatrist who just wanted to make out on TikTok (I wish this one was a joke, but he’s up there).
  • Mac – the one who ruined Thanksgiving had me commit to exclusivity because of covid while he was putting his dick in whatever would let him up at Yonge & Eglinton. Not giving it up has done me no favours.
  • The date who drove to a coffee shop a 5 minute walk from his place only for me to cut things short after 3 blocks of our “distance date”.
  • A personal trainer who wanted to appear “woke”, but really, really enjoyed his male/ white privilege. Tons of Daddy issues with this one.
  • Kiwi, who I’m pretty sure had the best of intentions, but thought Joe Rogan, Elon Musk, and leaving me on read for 3 weeks were pretty cool. Granted, I was in Vancouver for a weekend and didn’t reach out either, but I had kind of assumed things were over.
  • A dude whose entire personality was board games.
  • The one who brought red wine from the freezer and wanted to make-out in a TTC roundabout 15 minutes after meeting.
  • 13 year itch. When I lived in Vancouver this dude took up all the real estate in my heart and mind. He found out I was visiting and asked me out, but bailed the day of, only to attempt a 1:30 AM booty call. Nah, b.
  • A commodities trader who walked with me at a safe distance, then took me somewhere with Christmas lights, Frank Sinatra, and bad dance moves. He claimed there was no spark and he didn’t want to see me the next day. It’s cool – I don’t what what doesn’t want me.
  • The worst texter on the planet. We’re still kind of seeing one another, but I figured if he didn’t text me “Merry Christmas” I’d release the ghost. He did reach out. Santa was good to him. We’ll see if he decides to reach out in 2021.
  • The Catfish. I didn’t send him (her?) any naughty pictures or incriminating information, so sorry if you thought this would be juicier! Just disappointing to have been targeted – especially during the holidays.
@thatgirlcartierStory time/ ##tiktokdoyourmagicplease ##tiktokdoyourthing ##catfished ##catfishedandghosted ##catfishedchallenge ##toronto ##yyz ##dating♬ Whoopty – CJ

Toronto Dating Stories

So there you have it. I may have forgotten some other really boring distance dates (or pre-covid dates – I can barely remember a world without masks and eau de sanitizer), but you have the gist of it all. I have certainly learned what I absolutely do not want, as well as what I do. First and foremost, the vaccine. Baby, I want it. If it was on Tinder I’d swipe right in a heartbeat. Hit me with that love shot, ASAP. Secondly, I’d like an adult man with a kind heart, good communication skills, ambition, and who can make me laugh. My inner child is in a state of perpetual panic these days, so I’m looking for that twin-flame energy that can put my heart, mind, and body at ease. Pretty eyes and nice arms wouldn’t be the worst either.

Cocktails, Highballs, Drinks, Toronto

While most of my closest friends are already happily married and quite established, one of my dearest friends is newly single. Normally, I’d have taken her out to shamelessly flirt with cute boys we’ll never, ever see again. I’d have told her to hold off on downloading the hell-on-Earth apps until absolutely necessary. Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, let’s do this dance – preferably on a table at 2Cats vibrating at just the right frequency so that next year I’m only dating the one.

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Naked Cotton Sheets by White Rabbit Beauty

White Rabbit Naked Cotton Sheets

‘Tis the season for better skincare, ladies and gentlemen! I recently saw a post from a family member asking for skincare recommendations since she prided herself on great, but aging, skin using just soap and water. I can’t judge. Before I lived in South Korea, a 12 step skincare routine would have seemed absolutely ludicrous. To me, it would have been a waste of money. You live and you learn, however, and now I’m going to introduce you to yet another thing which may have seemed of no importance in the past. It’s essential to your essence and a must for micellar. This year, we’re asking Santa for cotton sheets. Specifically, White Rabbit Naked Cotton : biodegradable, 100% pure cotton pads that are lint-free and super durable (no pills or rips).

Why Are Cotton Pads Important?

I know what you must be thinking: “cotton pads are just a way to get me to spend more money on things I simply do not need.” Well, that’s not the case. Read on – these little bunnies will actually save you money! If you’ve been using tissue or toilet paper to remove your makeup (or even just the pollution/ grime of the day), you’re at risk of irritating your skin and your eyes. They also have a tendency to rip, which means you’ll be missing residue all over. Cotton sheets are the most hygienic way to remove makeup and apply skincare products. They will also save you product since you can control application and spread evenly in a way that’s impossible using your hands.

I remember getting a huge box of cotton sheets as “service” when I purchased skincare in Seoul for my entire family for Christmas. It was the first time I had used cotton sheets, and have to admit that I was a little irked I wasn’t given additional product as I had spent a lot. I gave them a go and they were game changers.

Ethical and Sustainable Production

In Toronto, up until now I’ve been using circular cotton pads. The other day I pulled a nice long fibre from my eye having thought for hours that I had an eyelash floating around. My baby blues were bloodshot and I had to shoot later. It wasn’t ideal, let me tell you. I had no idea that the cotton products I had been buying had been bleached and contained rayon and viscose (harsh chemicals which can trigger allergic reactions). NAKED COTTON™ sheets are chemical and plastic-free and made of sustainably-sourced 100% pure natural cotton that is unbleached, untreated and grown without pesticides. They are also 100% biodegradable.

NAKED COTTON™ offers two kinds of cotton sheets depending on your sensitivity and goals. The “textured” sheet is just as soft as the “classic”. It has tiny holes which make it ideal for cleansing. Its perforated surface will make your skin feel extra clean.

DIY Sheet Mask

The “classic” version is an extra soft cotton pad. It can be used when applying toner and/ or essence. When they’re folded, each cotton pad is approximately 2 by 3 inches. When they’re unfolded, the full size is 4 by 6 inches. Apply a liberal amount of toner or moisturizer and you can turn the pads into a DIY sheet mask!

Where to Buy?

NAKED COTTON™ products are available on their website, their instagram @whiterabbit_official, Soko Glam, and on Amazon (where they are currently ranked #20). They have also been featured in glam magazines and online publications such as Allure, Bustle, the Strategist, and the Klog. The prices are affordable (200 cotton sheets for USD $14.99) / 100 for USD $10.99). Just in time for the holidays, they’re running a 10% off special for all orders, and *free shipping* for US orders over $35 throughout December 2020.

Go check out my recent skin analysis where you’ll find that my skin is dialing in at almost 5 years younger than my actual age! Thanks for letting me try out these Naked Cotton pads, White Rabbit Beauty. They’re created and manufactured in South Korea. The products are tried and true and you’ve got a loyal new customer in me.

@thatgirlcartierA ##staycation doesn’t mean a ##vacation from a good ##skincareroutine! ##yyz ##skincare ##kbeauty♬ More Yellow Hearts. – Oxy_gin

Skincare Review: Leegeehaam has quick-drying formulae which I love when I'm in a rush.  My skin feels soft and there's never any hint of shine.

This article was written in unpaid partnership in exchange for an honest review.  ThatGirlCartier.com only features products or services I genuinely adore and would repurchase again and again.
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Seasonal Skincare: Summer Sun to Autumn Leaves and In-Between

Seasons Change – So Should Your Skincare

As much as I hate to see the end of summer (and the beginning of Lockdown 2.0) I am excited to try out new skincare products. I have tried and true products which I always keep on my shelf, but feel the need to switch things up every now and then. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned I love going out with a fresh face. Many of the following products are designed to soothe irritated skin, which is often a problem for me as the seasons change. As autumn becomes winter I know I’ll be adding more moisturisers. For now, just like fall clothing, I’m keeping things light, but just adding more layers as temperatures fall. Hold on tight – it’s a marathon, not a sprint!

Skincare

Vivier Medicated Wash & Cosrx Cica Cleanser

I alternate this medicated wash with the Cosrx Cica Cleanser. Vivier‘s medicated wash (active ingredient being – 2% Salicylic Acid USP) is designed to be an all-in-one cleanser (so you don’t have to use toner -I still do, though). Both of these products dispense as a light cream. A little goes a long way to foam up. They both wash off leaving no greasy films. I tend to use the Vivier wash if I’ve had makeup on, whereas the Cosrx product I’ll use to gently wipe away my day.

Skincare Cosrx

Cosrx Pure Fit Cica Toner & Powder

This toner contains seven types of centella asiatica extracts which are said to aid in accelerating skin cell production and collagen synthesis. It’s also said to protect the skin’s barrier. The powder (which contains maritime pine bark extract and green calamine) comes out quickly, so definitely be careful when shaking it out of the packaging. I mix it with my toner and apply directly with my fingertips, but you can use a cotton pad as well. These paraben-free and cruelty-free products help with inflammation and, as someone with occasional redness, I can attest to their calming properties.

Clean Skin Club - Vitamin C Brightening Booster 30mL

Clean Skin Club – Vitamin C Brightening Booster

I love the mild scent of of pineapple, watermelon, and green tea and the silky smooth texture of this serum. It comes in a dark bottle (as all vitamin C serums should) with an eyedropper so that the perfect amount can be distributed each time. It goes on evenly and soaks into the skin quickly. I’ve noticed an almost immediate glow using this product, which also claims to protect against UV damage, and helping to reduce eventual signs of ageing.  I use it as a standalone serum, however it can be added to a moisturiser or night cream for a vitamin-c boost.

Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence Seasonal skincare

Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence

This Advanced Snail Gel Lotion protects skin from moisture loss and keeps skin smooth and healthy. Snail Secretion Filtrate improves damaged skin through moisture, promotion of collagen production, and elasticity. It’s said that proteins in the snail goo can have anti-aging properties proven through clinical trial. It can also reverse sun damage. It’s a great choice for dry skin and sensitive skin, which is typical for me as the seasons change. It’s not going to make great strides for deep, deep folds, but I’ll lather it on with the promise to improve my skin’s texture.

Vivier Derma-V Repair Cream

Derma-V is a blend of 5 skin repairing ingredients: Prebiotics (to help repair and strengthen skin), Antioxidants (anti-aging properties and skin protection), Peptides (for strength and elasticity), Hydration Boosters (for smoother and more radiant skin), and Repairing Boosters (Teprenone – increasing skin hydration and improving barrier integrity). I use this product after my toner, essences, serums, and retinol, but before any other creams. It has a mild scent (I’m often sensitive to scented products) and I always look forward to applying it and smelling the bright, natural citrus fragrance from Orange Peel Oil.

This item is a perfect stocking stuffer – click here to shop Vivier’s Holiday offers.

Farmacy - CHEER UP brightening vitamin C eye cream with acerola cherry

Farmacy – CHEER UP Brightening Vitamin C Eye Cream with Acerola Cherry

I’ve been using this product for about a month and (granted, I do get botox every 9 months or so) I’ve noticed that my crows feet haven’t been returning quite so quickly, and my under-eyes haven’t been quite as puffy. This product has a mild, fruity scent and a very smooth texture, thicker than most of my eye creams.

Discussion] Any thoughts on the COSRX pure fit cica cream? Anyone tried it?  : AsianBeauty

Cosrx Pure Fit Cica Cream

I like to use products from the same set and switch things up when I have empties. This Cica Cream is very mild and isn’t quite as moisturising as I would like, but on your warmer autumn days this product will offer a nice layer before your sunscreen and does offer a number of soothing properties.

 

Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1 Waterproof, 400 mL |  Walmart Canada

Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water – Waterproof

I absolutely hate using makeup remover, but it works better and is significantly less irritating to the skin than cleansing wipes. Micellar water is a gentle alternative to makeup remover. In my experience, it’s a little too gentle, so even though I refuse to wear waterproof mascara, I need to use Micellar Water designed with waterproof cosmetics in mind. It can be used on the eyes, lips, and face. I prefer is to the irritating makeup remover which is typically astringent or oily.

Beauty Treatment, Face Mask, Spa, Face, Skin, Treatment

Gifted Product Acknowledgement

Some of these seasonal skincare products were PR samples sent to me for honest reviews, while others came as part of Boxy Charm. I would NEVER recommend Boxy Charm. Their customer service is non-existent, their billing system is confusing, and the boxes do not align with the quiz answers you provide upon registration. As always, these honest opinions are my own and not for sale.

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Repat Dating Diaries: The Trash Takes Itself Out

If there’s one thing a man should know when dating me, it’s that I have a very close relationship with my parents. While they don’t know everything, they know most things. I try to avoid telling them things which will hurt them or make them worry. Sometimes they’ll surprise you when you do end up over-sharing.

dating diaries alley

In this episode of the Repat Dating Diaries, I can’t decide whether he was a cheater, cheater pumpkin eater or if this was a turkey dump. I’ve been seeing someone for the past couple of months. Things were going well! I’d see him once a week, we’d text nearly all day, and I was actually mildly hopeful. I loved waking up to an article or cute video from him, and made sure to say goodnight before crashing. I enjoyed the whole “taking it slow” thing; not just due to trying to let a relationship grow naturally rather than the warp-speed I encountered dating other expats, but also due to the global pandemic. Hugs make people nervous, understandably. Anything more than that is, of course, even riskier.

dating diaries red flag

Red Flags

When we discussed dating exclusively I wasn’t actually all that excited, but I thought it was wise since both of us have parents in their 70’s. What came as a mighty surprise was when yesterday, on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, I received a text from him giving me a glowing review, but saying that he was “progressing” with someone else.

dating diaries thanksgiving train

I wasn’t aware the real reason he was sending me off on a horrible guilt trip rather than saying bon voyage for a 45 minute Go Train journey from Toronto was not due to the fact that he thought my conservative outdoor activity would put my parents at risk. In fact, the real reason was that he clearly expected all of the ladies he was dating to be monogamous. Bit unfair that he couldn’t return the favour, no?

dating diaries turkey dump

Love Lockdown

Not only did he make me unable to see my family on Thanksgiving, he ensured that as we go into Lockdown 2.0 I’ll be alone. He restricted my opportunities and put me in danger of getting Covid-19 with an extended bubble I wasn’t aware I had. I’m glad he’s got a girlfriend for the upcoming cold and lonely nights, but I resent that he limited me from being able to have someone, too.

dating diaries trash

Trash

Once a mother has written you off, there’s no getting back in her good graces. Thanksgiving is my favourite holiday. Mum says that she won’t be wishing anyone “Happy Thanksgiving” this year because “Mac ruined it”. I FaceTimed with my parents this afternoon and my Mum asked what I was up to this evening. I told her I had some blog maintenance to do, Netflix to watch, some leftovers to reheat, and trash to take out. Her words?

“I thought the trash took itself out last night.”

dating diaries trash

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Dating During a Pandemic: Virtual Dating or Bust

If Love is Blind was any indication of what was to come, virtual dating is the new normal. We’re going into week 6 of social distancing and isolation. Covid-19 has changed everyone’s lives in some way, shape, or form. I think we’ve all put on a few pounds, questioned whether some hypothetical socializing method out in the world is okay (newsflash: sadly, it’s not), and romantic relationships may never be the same again.

Virtual Dating during Covid-19

The first week of the Great Canadian Quarantine, my Bumble, Hinge, and Tinder were busier than ever. These Toronto skeezbags were using the coronavirus as the ultimate wing-man. I’ve never had so many offers to “Netflix and Quarantine” in all my life. As we learned more about the virus and its severity, it became really easy to just unmatch those who wanted to bring beer, wine, and germs over to my place.

Virtual Dating during Covid-19

Week two I experienced a change in the behaviour of men on these apps. Conversations were longer. Men were opening up, being vulnerable about their emotional fragility during this uncertain time, and sharing their hobbies and interests on a deeper level. Chats like these can seem amazing and fulfilling, but don’t get caught up in the excitement. Both sides have time to come up with a response, and Prince Charming may only be able to sweep you off your feet due to preparation time and good old Google.

Chrissy Teigen's Cry Face

This past week I finally gave virtual dating a try. I had 1 phone and two video chat dates. The phone date was uncomfortable. The guy was definitely already wasted, talked about giving up on his freelance work in favour of CERB, and told me I was going to marry him.

Virtual Dating during Covid-19

My second virtual date was through an instagram video chat. At first, things were flowing pretty well. While he did seem to look like his pictures, right away I felt as though I wasn’t attracted to him. We have actually worked in the same industry. I worked for a company (years ago) that developed the first iteration of the platform about which he was complaining. You have to give someone the benefit of the doubt with technology which can lag, but it didn’t take too long to realize that he was just talking over me and wasn’t willing to let me get a word in edgewise.

Virtual Dating during Covid-19

I would ask him questions – a pretty normal practice to engage in conversation. He would answer, but would not reciprocate with a question for me. Eventually we just sat there nodding while I waited for him to bring something to the table. Lags in conversation can be really unbearable in person, but when virtual dating it’s really tempting to just X out of the chat.

Virtual Dating during Covid-19

The last virtual dating experience actually went really well. I poured a glass of wine and immediately spilled it everywhere. He laughed, but was cool about it. Conversation flowed really well. None of it was the standard small talk. We talked about our families, our passions, and what we would do on our first “real” date once extreme social distancing ends. He was rugged and masculine. His mannerisms and body language were chill and relaxed. From what I’ve seen so far, I’m into it. It might not be magic in person, but at least I know that he’s not going to cut me off each time I go to speak on “in-person” date #1.

Love Is Blind

Ultimately, the virtual date is going to be awkward and tense at first. The new normal requires a change in perspective. You can either adapt or get reaaaal comfortable with isolation. Online dating can be a colossal waste of time, but I’ve had a couple of nice relationships thanks to their help. If you’re getting butterflies, kick things up a notch. Love is not blind, as we’ve discovered. The pods can only last so long. Save yourself some time and energy. Virtual or bust.

Love Is Blind

Have you tried virtual dating throughout the pandemic?

Let us know what app and method of virtual dating you’ve given a shot (and how it went!) in the comments below.

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Candidly Cartier – Pressing Life’s Reset Button

I left Toronto in 2015 because things just weren’t going my way. Every time I took a step forward, life pushed me two steps back. No matter how hard you try to change your perspective and have a positive attitude, sometimes you have to change your actual surroundings to press reset.

I moved to Korea and spent 3 years living and working abroad. During those years I fell in love once and fell in like twice. Living in Asia gave me the opportunity to experience culture in my own new home country, but also in so many others. I built two brands and worked independently in a variety of industries.

Pressing the reset button, heading away, then returning home, I was terrified to come back to the environment from which I had fled. He was almost brought to justice, but Lady Justice is often told to go back to the kitchen, isn’t she?

I’ve had some wonderful opportunities and have really settled into my life here. That said, I’ve definitely settled through settling down. I wonder if I’ll ever find the same excitement and sense of liberation that I had living abroad ever again.

I wrote the above in October of 2019. Last year was ROUGH, but my self-quarantined ass (and ratchet shellac nails) with 2020 vision would like to apologize for all the opportunities in 2019 that I didn’t take. The “new normal” is going to change over and over again as we make our way to 2021.

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