The Rise of Self-Love

Bursting the Bubble, Lifestyle/Personal, Products and Brands


I received a press-release recently about Triumph’s Beauty-Full collection. I don’t purchase underwear or lingerie all that often, so this press release fell short for me in actually purchasing anything from Triumph. What didn’t get lost on me was the fact that sometime in the last year or so, the definition of beauty has changed from being thin to being in love with your skin.

I love how little I hear about wanting to be skinny, about losing weight. I love that it’s more about being healthy and eating the right food. I love that there are women out there like the owners of The Store On Queen who emulate health, confidence, and beauty regardless of weight or size. I love that celebrities like Kelly Clarkson, Demi Lovato, Pink, Selena Gomez, Lady Gaga, and Lena Dunham are dismissing body-shamers and spreading love, light, and self-worth.

I love that my generation and the younger generation (from what my narrow little brown eyes have seen) have snubbed the notion that being thin is equivalent to being beautiful. I love going to the mall and seeing young women of all shapes and sizes trying on clothes and walking around with their heads held high. I know that there are tonnes of wicked and sad things going on in the world, but I also know that good things will only happen if we build ourselves up rather than cut ourselves down.

“To lose confidence in one’s body is to lose confidence in oneself.”  ― Simone de Beauvoir

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

*Photo from: Lotus Leaf*

Evolve your fitness routine [Product Review]

Just for Fun, Products and Brands, Toronto Adventures


Last month, I was asked by Evolve Functional Fitness to try our their workout program for two months free. I said yes for two reasons: I love to work out and I love to TRY out new routines. I don’t know how they knew that I like to workout in the comfort of my own home, or that I like to change up my exercises often, or that I love the convenience of having a workout app on my phone BUT they did.

Evolve is a new fitness program available and accessible from any computer or mobile device. The key to this program is that it can be used anytime, anywhere. For people who travel, this program is perfect! But it’s just as useful for anyone who enjoys working out at home — I guess you could even bring it with you to the gym. The best part of this program is that it uses your own body weight — NO WEIGHTLIFTING FOR YOU!

Trainers Lo Res

Four trainers teaching one functional fitness philosophy with premium content, three levels for all abilities, and an online social network: this is what makes Evolve the next generation of fitness memberships.

You not only choose the trainer you want to work out with but you also choose the level (Evolve Basics, Evolve I or Evolve II), the time (25, 45 or 65 minutes), and the type of workout (strength, agility, core, stretch or sports). On the iPhone app there is also a nutrition section to help you with meal ideas.

So how does this system rank in comparison to my favourite Jillian Michaels’ workouts? The workouts are just as intense and the various levels give you something to work up to but i still missed Jillian. I haven’t had a chance to try out the longer workouts but the 25 minute routines are power-packed and easy to follow. I did love having the workouts ready and available on my laptop or iPhone but I missed working out on a bigger screen.

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 3.24.40 PM

My only issue with this program is the whole having to give your credit card information while you sign up for your FREE TRIAL. It’s only $7.99 a month and it’s a great program if you’re going to use it, BUT what if you don’t like it and you forget that you signed up for a membership? You’ll be charged. If you do love it and want to use it, it’s convenient and easy enough to cancel your membership if you don’t.

Personally, I’m sticking with the DVD collection of workouts that I’ve purchased over the years and maybe even the hot yoga classes I signed up for (a review on that near the end of the month), but I would definitely recommend their program to someone who doesn’t like going to the gym, or who wants to try out a new routine, or who travels a lot.

Thanks to Evolve for letting me try out your fitness routines!

It was a sweatastic month for me!

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

Photo 1 from Pinterest

Dear Diary


September 11, 2013

Dear Diary,

The last time I felt extremely happy and confident was when I was interning at Random House of Canada. Every day was an adventure, making me feel independent, in control, and useful. I’m back to feeling stagnant and suffocated, as if I’ve given up the search for something new. I can’t see my purpose or my future. I’m lost. The only thing that I know is the same question I’ve been asking myself over and over again: what have I been doing to find myself, my dreams, or my purpose? Trying to stay busy isn’t the same as working hard towards reaching a certain goal. All I need is a little focus and some fresh perspective. I also need to get out of my comfort zone. I am so comfortable right now that I’m sleep-walking my days away.

Something has to change.


But what?


Love Always

Vanessa Xo 

Hottest Workout Clothing Around — Dona Jo Fitwear

Bursting the Bubble, Fashion & Beauty, Just for Fun, Products and Brands

I’m a workout-at-home kind of gal, which means you’ll find me in the basement in old sweats looking pretty gross. BUT I think I’ve found the perfect workout clothing. A huge step up from my high school gym shorts, Dona Jo Fitwear makes me want to go to the gym to workout or take up a Yoga or Spin Class.

PicMonkey Collage

Dona Jo Fitwear is all about being fashionably fit — A bold and stylish new etiquette has finally come to sportswear. Introducing Dona Jo Fitwear, a fashionable and high quality sportswear line with vibrant prints and designs inspired by the beauty and free-spirited Brazilian culture. President Ashley Ferraro fell in love with Brazil and their fitness clothing. She felt inspired and knew that if she wanted to see that kind of clothing in America, she’d have to create her own. Her unique pieces are designed to fit most, with a 5-way stretch, breathable fabric that is color-fast, minimizes the appearance of cellulite, and is faster drying than cotton.

“I want to get every woman out of their comfort zone when it comes to fashion at the gym, yoga, or any fitness activity for that matter. We want to look sexy and beautiful in every other facet of our life, why not while we are getting sweaty?” — Ashley Ferraro

And I completely agree! I cannot wait to get my hands on my own workout clothing from Dona Jo (the outfit in the middle is my fave + the white shirt on the right).

Check out their great pieces and connect with Dona Jo Fitwear on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest!

Are you ready to get #FashionablyFIT?!


Love Always

Vanessa Xo

Long Weekend Bliss

Book Reviews, Family Time, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal


How is it Monday already? I’m convinced time goes by faster when you get an extra day off work. I love weekends for two simple reasons: sweatpants and messy hair. I love waking up early, throwing on my sweatpants (or staying in my pjs) and basking in the fact that I can be comfy and cozy all the live-long day. I spent this long weekend enjoying an extra day in my sweats, surrounded by my family, my boyfriend, books, and my notebook (all of my favourite things).

I don’t know if you’re aware of this but I am a total homebody. I go through phases where I want nothing more than to stay out of my house all weekend, then the next week I’ll be curled up on the couch with a book for two days straight. This weekend I tried my best to find a balance. I spent a lot of time at home with my family or with my book and also made time to hang out with the boyfriend’s family (and a really tall glass of sangria — thanks for that Rita!). Is it odd that sometimes I forget how much I love being around people? How much I enjoy having conversations with people? Gosh that sounds ridiculous.

I get stuck in this routine of being alone and it’s hard to get out of it, but I’m trying. It helps to surround myself with people who love me, with people who enjoy my company, with people who get me into a fit of giggles, with people I can just be myself around. The kind of people who can pull me out of my own head  — I live a lot in my own thoughts and it’s exhausting.

But enough with this word “exhausting”, enough with the phrase “I’m exhausted”. I say that all too often and it’s starting to get on my nerves. I’m way too young to be tired all of the time and it’s a lame excuse made by someone who is too lazy and too uptight to enjoy her life. Quite silly, isn’t it?


Looks like I’ve got some work to do, some people to see, and a life to LIVE.


Love Always 

Vanessa Xo

Drunk Mom [Book Review]

Book Reviews

coverI started Drunk Mom not too long ago and had to put it down. I found it too raw, too brutal, too real? I’m not quite sure. I picked it back up last week and I am really glad I did. It’s a harrowing and detailed account of Jowita Bydlowska’s relapse after three years of sobriety. This relapse happens shortly after the birth of her son. Her story is filled with a lot of downs and many many moments where you’re certain something wonderful is just around the corner. You’re almost certain that by the next chapter she will be sober and eventually she will live happily ever after. There were points in reading this memoir that I literally lost my breath from the sheer shock of someone being able to go through all of this and write about it. And not just write about it but write about it in a way that her life, her world, seeps into your veins and suddenly you’re feeling what she felt, and you just want it to stop.

Her story is brutal but her writing is phenomenal and I would recommend this memoir to anyone. This memoir has the potential to provide the reader with a deep sense of comfort or with an intense sense of awe and admiration for the strength it took to tell her story.

Tonight I will go to sleep with a heavy heart and an open mind.

I didn’t know it at the time but it was too much happiness. Happiness puts you at too much risk — what if you were to lose it? Too much happiness is a paradox. It’s a tragedy, even: getting something you’ve always wanted but being unable to keep it.” (Page 36)

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

SYNOPSIS (From the Random House of Canada Website)

There are many alcoholic mothers. Only one has told her story.

Three years after giving up drink, Jowita Bydlowska found herself throwing back a glass of champagne like it was ginger ale. “It’s a special occasion,” she said to her boyfriend. And indeed it was. It was a party celebrating the birth of their first child. It also marked Jowita’s immediate, full-blown return to alcoholism and all that entails for a new mother who is at first determined to keep her problem a secret.

Her trips to liquor stores are in-and-out missions. Perhaps she’s being paranoid, but she thinks people tend to notice the stroller. Walking home, she stays behind buildings, in alleyways, taking discreet sips from a bottle she’s stored in the diaper bag. She know she’s become a villain: a mother who drinks; a mother who endangers her child. She drinks to forget this. And then the trouble really starts.

Jowita Bydlowska’s memoir of her relapse into addiction is an extraordinary achievement. The writing is raw and immediate. It places you in the moment—saddened, appalled, nerve-wracked, but never able to look away or stop turning the pages. With brutal honesty, Bydlowska takes us through the binges and blackouts, the self-deception and less successful attempts to deceive others, the humiliations and extraordinary risk-taking. She shines a light on the endless hunger of wanting just one more drink, and one more again, while dealing with motherhood, anxiety, depression—and rehab.

Her struggle to regain her sobriety is recorded in the same unsentimental, unsparing, sometimes grimly comic way. But the happy outcome is evidenced by the existence of this brilliant book: she has lived to tell the tale.

working hard at not feeling so small.

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

When I don’t feel like working out, I work out. When I don’t feel like going to work, I go to work. When I don’t feel like eating a salad for lunch, I eat a salad for lunch. When I don’t feel like cleaning my bathroom, I clean my bathroom. When I don’t feel like waking up at the sound of my alarm because I really have nothing to do or nowhere to go, I wake up, I do, I go. When I don’t feel like writing, I Write. I sit down with my notebook and a pen and  let myself write. No thinking, no planning, just a pen scratching paper. Me hoping that the end result will make sense, or at very least make me feel something.

snowflakes and frost, my emotions get lost
the swirl of the snow, my heart letting go
I have to hold on — have to try harder
my emotions are real but keep getting farther  
I’m not really feeling, I’m just moving along
I’m not really thinking, is this right or wrong?
I’m not really seeing, I’m not really aware
to tell you the truth, I don’t think I care
I either feel everything or nothing at all.
I’m just working hard at not feeling so small.


Love Always

Vanessa Xo

**Poem above written by me, Vanessa Grillone, on January 22, 2013. Cite with care. **

HOLY CRAP I’m (mostly) Au Naturale

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Products and Brands

I’ve always been a Plain Jane, au naturale kind of gal — minimal makeup, virgin hair, the whole shebang. My one weakness is face products. I love trying out new face washes, creams, sunscreen, ANYTHING that will make my skin soft, smooth, and blemish-free. The problem is that since I’ve entered my twenties, I’ve been more prone to blemishes and pimples than I had been in my teens! To worsen things, I’m a picker — if I see a pimple, I pop it. Then I get scars. Yay me.

My mom suggested that I STOP with all of the products and just use soap and water, her beauty regime since forever. It’s worked wonders for her — she has minimal wrinkles, a nice glow to her skin, and ZERO blemishes or scars. As of late I’ve been following her advice. Dove soap and warm water to wash my face OR natural products like Neutrogena Naturals — no more testing random brands.


I’ve also been turned onto Bio-Oil, which literally gets rid of nasty pimples, blemishes, and scars within a week. It’s a great product, surprisingly light and easily absorbed — it’s fantastic for spot treatment. My aunt bought it for me for Christmas and it has been a lifesaver.



After a December of dry, itchy, and blotchy skin these products (or lack thereof) have got my skin feeling super-healthy. It’s starting to get a nice glow to it and a more even complexion. I’m a strong believer in being active, eating well, drinking lots of water, and using natural products, so in addition to my skin “health-kick” I’m trying to add some more nutritious food to my diet.

** In walks HOLY CRAP**

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I know what you’re thinking, how could that crap taste good? Well, it has a wonderful cinnamon apple taste to it and it adds a great crunch to your yogurt. You can also eat it as a hot cereal (but the texture of hot cereal grosses me out :P).

Wondering what all those seeds and crap are? I pulled this info off of the HOLY CRAP website for your reading pleasure. After only a week or so of chomping down this delicious crap I feel more energetic, my bathroom breaks have been flowing nicely (gross but true), and I’m not sure about the concentration thing but who knows, maybe that takes time.

Screen Shot 2013-01-10 at 1.31.25 PMGiven that we’re at the beginning of a new year and we’ve made resolutions we’re trying  to keep, I thought I would share a few new products for anyone who put BE HEALTHIER or FEEL HEALTHIER on their list.

Good luck! Let me know if you try out any of these products!

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

“…the relentless pursuit of riches doesn’t lead to a meaningful life.”

Book Reviews, Uncategorized

I just finished reading minimalism: live a meaningful life by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus and I must say that I’m a little overwhelmed. I took to highlighting my favourite parts, writing down my favourite quotes, and making notes in the margins of the book – it seems that I’m well on my way to growth and change.




At age 30, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus left their six-figure corporate careers, jettisoned most of their material possessions, and started focusing on life’s most important aspects. And they never looked back.

Although I grew up with a different lifestyle than the minimalists and have consciously been working towards my passion for years, I got a lot out of this book. It helped me realize that there are many areas in my life that I need to work on. It made me realize that I need to focus on the more important things (health, passion, relationships, growth, and contribution) while letting go of all the crap that doesn’t add any REAL VALUE to my life, things that get in the way of living a meaningful life. 

This book brought to light simple values, ideas, and truths about the human condition, “Conformity is the drug with which many people self-medicate…We try to keep up…placing immense pressure on ourselves to be something– or someone– we’re not,” (Foreword). Don’t conform, don’t put pressure on yourself to live someone else’s life. Live your life and make it meaningful!


I would definitely read this book again (in fact they recommend that you do). I would recommend it to anyone who is trying to figure out if they’re really happy, anyone who wants to live a life that is full of value – full meaning.

Hope you all had a wonderful Friday!

Love Always 
Vanessa Xo 

Check out: The Minimalists Blog


I just fell.

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

No really, I just fell off of the chair in my kitchen and I scared the crap out of my dog. He jumped and tried to run away but he slid all over the floor. He gave me a dirty look and walked away. Sitting there, with my boney bum on the floor, I couldn’t help but laugh and laugh some more. My laughter intensified and I did my famous so-ugly-it’s-kinda-cute snort.

Laughter is truly the best medicine.

Hope you have a Monday filled with laughter.

Love Always 
Vanessa Xo