My Newest Love @Motorola_Ca #MotoX

Products and Brands

 

It’s been less than a week with my new Moto X – graciously gifted to me by Motorola Canada and I have yet to miss my iPhone. I’m in love with how simple the Moto X is to use, how fast it is, how long the battery lasts (20 hours), and how smart it is! It’s much bigger than my iPhone 4 but I can still text comfortably. It has tonnes of features, like the fact that I can wave my hand over my phone to see my notifications or check the time. There are some features I still have to try, like the whole talking to my phone and getting it to do things for me without even picking it up thing.

Create your own voice prompt, like “What’s up Moto X.” Then ask questions, set reminders or get directions. You’ll have the world at your fingertips and won’t even need to use them.

Messy hair, ripped sweater, silly faces, and loads of love!

Messy hair, ripped sweater, silly faces, and loads of love!

The camera is pretty rad, especially since I can launch it with a flick of my wrist! It also takes pictures before and after you actually take the picture so you can choose the best one! The rear camera has much better photo quality than the selfie (or front) camera but I don’t take that many selfies anyway :P. If there is one complaint it would be that the new software/update somehow has gotten rid of the ability to put my phone on silent. Hopefully it is just a bug and it will be fixed with the next update.

I have a feeling it’ll take a few weeks for me to find out how smart this phone really is, but one thing is for sure: I am in love with my Moto X.

Love Always,
Vanessa Xo

* Disclosure: I was sent a Moto X and a Otterbox case from Motorola Canada in exchange for an honest review. I am currently using the Moto X and probably won’t go back to iPhone for a very long time (if at all).

American Heist [MOVIE REVIEW #TIFF14]

film, Toronto Adventures

Friends of mine get a block of tickets for TIFF every year and are just awesome enough to take the bf and I to a screening or two. On Saturday we attended a screening American Heist at the Scotiabank Theatre. I don’t usually write film reviews, but I feel inclined to rate this film. I always thought that films at TIFF have to be amazing; with the best of the best stories, plots, writing, and acting. Apparently I was wrong.

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American Heist is the combination of every gangster/bank-robbing film you have ever seen. Every cliche can be found in this film, along with a terrible script and sub-par acting. The film begins with Frankie (Adrien Brody) getting out of jail after completing a 10-year-stint. He dances his way out of the prison wearing a leather jacket that covers up his tattoo of Frank Sinatra, and a yellow-gold chain around his neck. His moves are as awkward as the two thugs waiting to pick him up (one being Akon). After a night celebrating his freedom in a strip club filled with cocaine, he’s brought to a warehouse and is slapped around by another thug (Tory Kittles).

Earlier on we meet Frankie’s brother Jimmy/James (Hayden hottie Christensen), a mechanic trying to get loans from the bank to open up his own shop and turn his life around. Jimmy got into trouble because of Frankie, went to jail for a bit, and completely cut ties with his brother. Frankie and the thugs he works for need Jimmy to help them rob a bank, since he can make bombs and drive like no one else. Basically it’s these thugs against the banks, trying to take back America or whatever. Some twist of fate (a broken car) brings Jimmy’s ex-girlfriend into the mix, who just happens to be a police dispatcher. Emily is played by Jordana Brewster, and even though she is a decent actress, the cheesiness of her lines takes away all of the character’s credibility. 

The story is a good idea but not executed well. The poor acting and cheesy lines screw up any chance of the movie making sense or holding onto the viewer’s attention. The word “bro” is significantly over-used and highly distracting. On top of that Frankie and Jimmy have the same conversation at least three times, there are tonnes of unanswered questions, and I think there must’ve been some budget issues or editing issues because there are a fews scenes that don’t make sense.

What’s my rating?

Untitled

What was the best film you saw at TIFF?

Talk soon,
Vanessa

 

My thoughts on Healthletica Hot Yoga

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Products and Brands

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I joined Healthletica Hot Yoga + Wellness with my sister a few weeks ago and although I work out everyday (DVDs mostly), I was still a little nervous to try it out. I bought a yoga mat, a one month membership, and some new workout clothing to ensure that my month of yoga would be perfect. I’m only five classes in and I have to tell you guys… I LOVE IT. The heat always takes a little time for me to get used to but before I know it I’m so into the poses that the heat is the last thing I’m concerned about. It’s a good heat though, you sweat like crazy but feel clean afterwards.

A word of caution: yoga is hard. I’m finding it super difficult to hold some of the poses, when it comes to Vinyasa flows my arms cramp up and I end up in Child’s pose. The great thing about yoga is that it’s a challenge and I always feel sore the next day. Each class my body has reacted differently, some days my balance is great, others it’s not, some days I can hold a pose or or touch my feet when I stretch, other days not so much. Yoga is work but it makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something and I kinda like that.

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Healthlectica offers a variety of yoga classes with at least five different instructors. The instructors are kind, helpful, and mindful of each person in the class. They could tell that my sister and I were newbies so each of them took the time to help us improve on our poses, balance, and core strength. We went for a mid-afternoon class the other day and found that we were the ONLY ones there (I guess most people have jobs or something). It was like a private class and probably my favourite one so far. Our instructor, Sophia, altered the class to help us work on what we needed to, she taught us how to modify certain poses because of out weaknesses (and our bottom heaviness), and even took some time at the end of class to chat with us, to get to know us, and to give me some advice on how to sleep better at night.

My favourite pose is Shavasana, which is how each class starts and ends. You lay down on your mat, eyes closed, feet parted and relaxed, hands out to the side, steadying your breathing. Sometimes I nearly fall asleep, other times I just empty my mind, I focus on my breath and try to be present in the moment. Yoga has been amazing for my anxiety and stress levels, I feel more centred and focused. Also, my skin looks great, it’s soft and smooth and practically blemish free.

IMG_7008As I said, I’m only five classes in but I am already feeling healthier, happier, and more motivated than I’ve been in a long time. If you’re in the Bolton area check out Healthlectica Hot Yoga + Wellness, if not, I am sure you can find a hot yoga studio near by. Let me know if you try it out!

Namaste

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

Disclosure: I was not asked to write about my experience, nor was I given any kind of ‘blogger’ discount. I paid for my membership and I’ll pay for another one when this month is up. I wrote this post because I am truly enjoying my experience. 

 

Evolve your fitness routine [Product Review]

Just for Fun, Products and Brands, Toronto Adventures

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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.

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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

Nails done, hair done, everything DID

Products and Brands, Uncategorized

…Okay so I only got my hair did but I love it! I tried out a deal from Buytopia this morning and feel the need to share it with you right away. Buytopia is running a deal with A&B Creative Looks in Woodbridge:

$29 for a Wash, Cut, Style, Blow Dry, Deep Conditioning Treatment and Partial Highlights

A & B Creative Looks Beauty Salon & Spa ($120 Value)

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I did everything but the partial highlights (I have virgin hair and I want to keep it that way). The deep conditioning treatment was fantastic — it felt like a scalp massage. It was so relaxing that I nearly fell asleep and the conditioner smelled GREAT. I’m very picky about who cuts my hair and how they do it, so checking out this deal for ya’ll was a BIG risk on my part.

Thankfully Ranjit took this…

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AND turned it into THIS…

wqw

GAWD! I hate selfies but I love the way Ranjit cut, styled, and blow dried my hair. It feels smooth and silky, and it’s actually shiny! If you’re looking to purchase this deal please start by using my Buytopia affiliate link — that way they know who sent you ;). Click HERE!

I’ll be checking out an event at Minling Pan Studio tonight with my lovely friend Lina! The recap will be on the Chic Darling website soon.

Hope you’re having a wonderful day, I’m off to part-time job #2!

Love Always
Vanessa Xo

“Then think what sweetness is, and how you must find it again.”

Book Reviews, Uncategorized

In a place and time when arranged marriages are the norm, when a dowry can put families in a huge amount of debt, when a husband can find a new wife should his current wife not bare him a son, when daughters are considered ‘mistakes’ and are expected to marry, keep house, and produce sons, Anu and Damini find the strength and courage to persevere.

My latest Random House read is The Selector of Souls by Shauna Singh Baldwin.

Before this novel I had never read anything by Shauna Singh Baldwin and I am glad that I gave her a chance. They way she moulds and blends two stories of two different women, while keeping in mind the history of which the story springs is flawless.

So, the ultimate question, do I love this novel? In all honesty it hasn’t found its way into my top five favourite books list but there were a lot of things that I liked about it, starting with the main characters. I found is easy to fall in love with Anu and her will to change her life when many other women in her position wouldn’t have dared. It was a little harder for me to sympathize with Damini, a women who seemed torn by what is ‘right’ and what is tradition. I learned a lot from both women but I found Anu’s perseverance most enlightening. Perhaps my favourite quote from this novel is said by Anu after she makes a life-altering decision, one that her family does not understand.

“I could live to be a hundred and never meet everyone’s expectations, Aunty,” (page 166).

How true that is. Although I have never had to struggle with the kind of hardships the women in this novel had to, I understand what it’s like to be afraid that you won’t meet the expectations that people have set for you. I also understand the courage it takes to do something that most people would scorn you for. Because of that I am truly glad I read this novel.

I will warn you that I struggled a little with this one, I found some parts a little slow (granted the novel is over 500 pages so one is expected to read a little slow) but I knew I had to stick it out. Part of my struggle with the novel had to do with a feeling of guilt that loomed inside me. I have never felt unwanted or as if I was a mistake. I have never had to deal with physical or emotional abuse and the fear that consumes you. I couldn’t imagine switching places with any girl or woman in this novel.

Although the guilt subsided and I eventually let the story take me over, I will never forget what I learned from the women in this novel. I will be more conscious of how lucky I am to be a woman who is treated with love and respect.

Love Always
Vanessa Xo
______
Synopsis (from the Random House of Canada Limited website)
The Selector of Souls begins with a scene that is terrifying, harrowing and yet strangely tender: we’re in the mid ranges of the Himalayas as a young woman gives birth to her third child with the help of her mother, Damini. The birth brings no joy, just a horrible accounting, and the act that follows—the huge sacrifice made by Damini out of love of her daughter—haunts the novel.

In Shauna Singh Baldwin’s enthralling novel, two fascinating, strong-willed women must deal with the relentless logic forced upon them by survival: Damini, a Hindu midwife, and Anu, who flees an abusive marriage for the sanctuary of the Catholic church. When Sister Anu comes to Damini’s home village to open a clinic, their paths cross, and each are certain they are doing what’s best for women. What do health, justice, education and equality mean for women when India is marching toward prosperity, growth and becoming a nuclear power? If the baby girls and women around them are to survive, Damini and Anu must find creative ways to break with tradition and help this community change from within.

"Then think what sweetness is, and how you must find it again."

Book Reviews, Uncategorized

In a place and time when arranged marriages are the norm, when a dowry can put families in a huge amount of debt, when a husband can find a new wife should his current wife not bare him a son, when daughters are considered ‘mistakes’ and are expected to marry, keep house, and produce sons, Anu and Damini find the strength and courage to persevere.

My latest Random House read is The Selector of Souls by Shauna Singh Baldwin.

Before this novel I had never read anything by Shauna Singh Baldwin and I am glad that I gave her a chance. They way she moulds and blends two stories of two different women, while keeping in mind the history of which the story springs is flawless.

So, the ultimate question, do I love this novel? In all honesty it hasn’t found its way into my top five favourite books list but there were a lot of things that I liked about it, starting with the main characters. I found is easy to fall in love with Anu and her will to change her life when many other women in her position wouldn’t have dared. It was a little harder for me to sympathize with Damini, a women who seemed torn by what is ‘right’ and what is tradition. I learned a lot from both women but I found Anu’s perseverance most enlightening. Perhaps my favourite quote from this novel is said by Anu after she makes a life-altering decision, one that her family does not understand.

“I could live to be a hundred and never meet everyone’s expectations, Aunty,” (page 166).

How true that is. Although I have never had to struggle with the kind of hardships the women in this novel had to, I understand what it’s like to be afraid that you won’t meet the expectations that people have set for you. I also understand the courage it takes to do something that most people would scorn you for. Because of that I am truly glad I read this novel.

I will warn you that I struggled a little with this one, I found some parts a little slow (granted the novel is over 500 pages so one is expected to read a little slow) but I knew I had to stick it out. Part of my struggle with the novel had to do with a feeling of guilt that loomed inside me. I have never felt unwanted or as if I was a mistake. I have never had to deal with physical or emotional abuse and the fear that consumes you. I couldn’t imagine switching places with any girl or woman in this novel.

Although the guilt subsided and I eventually let the story take me over, I will never forget what I learned from the women in this novel. I will be more conscious of how lucky I am to be a woman who is treated with love and respect.

Love Always
Vanessa Xo
______
Synopsis (from the Random House of Canada Limited website)
The Selector of Souls begins with a scene that is terrifying, harrowing and yet strangely tender: we’re in the mid ranges of the Himalayas as a young woman gives birth to her third child with the help of her mother, Damini. The birth brings no joy, just a horrible accounting, and the act that follows—the huge sacrifice made by Damini out of love of her daughter—haunts the novel.

In Shauna Singh Baldwin’s enthralling novel, two fascinating, strong-willed women must deal with the relentless logic forced upon them by survival: Damini, a Hindu midwife, and Anu, who flees an abusive marriage for the sanctuary of the Catholic church. When Sister Anu comes to Damini’s home village to open a clinic, their paths cross, and each are certain they are doing what’s best for women. What do health, justice, education and equality mean for women when India is marching toward prosperity, growth and becoming a nuclear power? If the baby girls and women around them are to survive, Damini and Anu must find creative ways to break with tradition and help this community change from within.

“It might be that every human success simply required FAITH.”

Book Reviews, Just for Fun

For my first review for Random House Canada, I chose The Purchase by Linda Spalding.  I am a sucker for fiction and historical fiction is a particular favourite of mine. I had never read a novel about pioneer life and although the time and place depicted are far away from my own, I’m pleased to say that this book really touched me. I simply couldn’t put it down (as you will see from my progress on Goodreads 😛 ).

A little slow to start, I was anxious to learn more about this Quaker family:

“There were other wagons going leaving from Pennsylvania and going south and west, but none were so laden with woe as the one that carried the five children and the widower and his new bride.” (Page 4)

As I read further into the book, more characters introduced themselves and I wanted to shake hands with each one of them. It’s incredible how the choices of one man can affect the lives of so many others. Each character has a certain depth to them that is relatable – they have flaws and I kinda like that about them. My heart ached for Onesimus and Bet, I was confused and angered by Ruth, I truly felt sorry for Daniel and yet hopeful all at once (a great book makes you feel a lot of things). My favourite character would have to be Mary – smart, stubborn, albeit a little selfish, I found myself yearning to read more about her character. I couldn’t stop turning the pages of this novel and I was saddened when I reached the end.

This book is all about decisions, consequences, chances, and the purity of memories. It’s about pride and lies that are told to “protect” the ones you love. They say that ‘the truth will set you free’ and if there is one thing this book has taught me its to not underestimate the importance of the truth.

There is always a chance for redemption.

There is always time to forgive.

Love Always
Vanessa Xo

P.S. This post’s title is my favourite quote from The Purchase

——
Synopsis (from the Random House Canada website)
In 1798, Daniel Dickinson, a young Quaker father and widower, leaves his home in Pennsylvania to establish a new life. He sets out with two horses, a wagonful of belongings, his five children, a 15-year-old orphan wife, and a few land warrants for his future homestead. When Daniel suddenly trades a horse for a young slave, Onesimus, it sets in motion a struggle in his conscience that will taint his life forever, and sets in motion a chain of events that lead to two murders and the family’s strange relationship with a runaway slave named Bet.

"It might be that every human success simply required FAITH."

Book Reviews, Just for Fun

For my first review for Random House Canada, I chose The Purchase by Linda Spalding.  I am a sucker for fiction and historical fiction is a particular favourite of mine. I had never read a novel about pioneer life and although the time and place depicted are far away from my own, I’m pleased to say that this book really touched me. I simply couldn’t put it down (as you will see from my progress on Goodreads 😛 ).

A little slow to start, I was anxious to learn more about this Quaker family:

“There were other wagons going leaving from Pennsylvania and going south and west, but none were so laden with woe as the one that carried the five children and the widower and his new bride.” (Page 4)

As I read further into the book, more characters introduced themselves and I wanted to shake hands with each one of them. It’s incredible how the choices of one man can affect the lives of so many others. Each character has a certain depth to them that is relatable – they have flaws and I kinda like that about them. My heart ached for Onesimus and Bet, I was confused and angered by Ruth, I truly felt sorry for Daniel and yet hopeful all at once (a great book makes you feel a lot of things). My favourite character would have to be Mary – smart, stubborn, albeit a little selfish, I found myself yearning to read more about her character. I couldn’t stop turning the pages of this novel and I was saddened when I reached the end.

This book is all about decisions, consequences, chances, and the purity of memories. It’s about pride and lies that are told to “protect” the ones you love. They say that ‘the truth will set you free’ and if there is one thing this book has taught me its to not underestimate the importance of the truth.

There is always a chance for redemption.

There is always time to forgive.

Love Always
Vanessa Xo

P.S. This post’s title is my favourite quote from The Purchase

——
Synopsis (from the Random House Canada website)
In 1798, Daniel Dickinson, a young Quaker father and widower, leaves his home in Pennsylvania to establish a new life. He sets out with two horses, a wagonful of belongings, his five children, a 15-year-old orphan wife, and a few land warrants for his future homestead. When Daniel suddenly trades a horse for a young slave, Onesimus, it sets in motion a struggle in his conscience that will taint his life forever, and sets in motion a chain of events that lead to two murders and the family’s strange relationship with a runaway slave named Bet.

My Book has been Reviewed (And NOT by Me)

Family Time, Just for Fun

Earlier this year a friend of mine, Casandra DeBartolo was kind enough to review my book. Now she’s been even more fantastic by letting me place it here, on My Pen, My Voice.;*. Here it is:

My Pen, My Voice

Author: Vanessa Grillone

Reviewed by: Casandra DeBartolo

Starting out with a 12-year-old girl who felt like running away author Vanessa Grillone has had almost 10 years of experiences to fulfill her dreams as a writer, as she publishes her very first book, My Pen, My Voice that was released just earlier this year.

Though poetry and prose this book encompasses all the struggles, obstacles and emotions of a teenaged girl. Using personal experience as her inspiration to grasp onto the ideas of what young girls today have to deal with, Vanessa bursts open the most confusing and difficult aspects of a very fragile stage.

My Pen, My Voice compiles a series of poems and diary-like entries that were written over the various stages of Vanessa’s teenaged years. The emotion that is drawn out on every page is so real, so raw and so deep, not because it was written years later looking back on these times, but because they were written as these moments were happening. “…you try to fathom the fact that IT DOES HAPPEN IN REAL LIFE and NOT a million years ago but RIGHT NOW.”

What is so unique about this book is that there is something for just about everything and everyone. Every page is different from the one before, or the one that follows. There is a page for the confused 13-year-old, a page for the emotional 16-year-old, a page for the frustrated 19-year-old, and a page for the determined 21-year-old. Touching base with the complications, frustrations and excitement of school, family, work, friends and boys. But even through all of the downfall she comes across in the book, there are moments where the reality of life sets in, and Vanessa shows us that the life of a teenaged girl, although far from easy, is as simple as  “Put the past in the past and keep it there. Look forward to your future. Live for the now. Take chances. Make mistakes. Learn. Repeat.”

By overcoming the many bumps she shares with us in her book, Vanessa shows us that everything that happens, happens for a reason. To make you stronger as a woman, allowing you to realize that failure is not an option and to never settle for anything less than what you want and what you deserve. “Comfort is okay, but I cannot let comfort take me away from what I desire most. I will not give up, no matter how long it takes and that’s a promise.”

Thanks so much Cass for actually reading my book and for enjoying it! You can follow her on Twitter (click on her name above). You can click here to find out more about my book.

I’d like to leave you with a music video. I heard the song yesterday at my brother’s Christmas concert… how cute it he anyways?

 

He plays the trumpet!

The video is for Beyoncé’s I Was Here.  It’s the new song I’ve been play on repeat. I hope you get something out of it too!

 

Love Always 
Vanessa Xo