Dear DiaryDress Up

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It’s been awhile since I bared all on the internet here (three years to be exact). A lot has changed in that time with both me and my body, and with so many changes to come it felt like the perfect moment to get a snapshot of where I’m at.

To be honest, this is the most comfortable I’ve ever felt in my skin.

I’ve never really had any sort of self loathing issues when it comes to my body, but I can’t say I’ve always had the healthiest tactics when it comes to staying in shape. For years I built up habits of over indulging and then punishing myself, trying to stay so busy that I “forgot to eat”. I think as someone with OCD fuelled anxiety and depression, depriving myself of food when life got really rough was a way to gain control over something, and in that twisted way it momentarily made me feel better to feel hungry. When everything was spiralling out of control, food was the one thing I knew I could always get a handle on. It started as a teenage angst thing, but by the time I hit my 20s I was also using cigarettes to stay thin, coveting the moments when my bones poked out a little more than before. This wasn’t fit or healthy, this was skinny, the kind of skinny that eventually makes you sick. Again, it all came back to control – how much COULD I deprive myself? How different could I make my body look based sheerly on will power and sadness? It’s not something I’ve ever really spoken about here before, but today sharing it just felt right.

I’ve been steadily working on my mental health for, well, my entire life really, but this past Christmas was a major turning point for me. I made a lot of big life decisions, quit smoking cold turkey (6 months next week!!!) and made a commitment to start actually taking care of myself. No more days without food, no more replacing breakfast with tobacco, no more lazing around crying over TV shows instead of getting outside or heading to the gym.

For the first time in a long time, I didn’t just want to look better, I wanted to be better.

I can’t tell you how much my life has shifted over the past six months, and these photos are a celebration of that shift, a time stamp of this new season in my life. I’m loving eating well, drinking less, and moving my body more (see you guys at Soul Cycle for spin class soon?) and my mental state has never ever been better as a result. Scarlet O’Neill captured this moment so flawlessly, somehow balancing over me with her pregnant belly like a warrior AND making me feel sexy the entire time. Stole My Heart provided the most insanely gorgeous, intricate lingerie pieces to shoot, and Wild North hit the floral game out of the park. Everything came together in one enchanted afternoon celebrating health and happiness.

I no longer feel the need to control my body, and I can’t wait to see all the beautiful ways it changes in the years to come. After all, women’s bodies are magic.

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Photography by Scarlet O’Neill
Lingerie via Stole My Heart
Florals by Wild North
Tarot Deck by Labyrinthos

Party Time

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As the years go by there’s something truly magical about watching the people I love change and grow, building families, businesses, homes and beyond. I feel so lucky to be a part of all the things they create, to share in their joy and celebrate their victories (preferably with cake). Getting older and watching things change can be difficult; so often the relationships you build in your early twenties degrade and disappear over time, but I’ve started to accept that this shedding is less about loss and more about really growing with the people who matter most. In my case, that means Sophie, Bobby and their little one on the way.

I first met this wonderful pair at their west-end jam shop, Kitten and the Bear, and from the moment I walked in I knew we needed to be friends. From that day on we’ve been staging jam photo shoots, tracking down secret foodie delights, and taking the occasional road trip. When Soph told me she was pregnant last Fall I knew I wanted to do something super special to celebrate, and so the quest to throw the perfect baby shower began.

My team joined forces with one of Sophie’s close friends to get the ball rolling and searching for a dreamy venue was first up on the list. We immediately turned to the awesome team at The Drake, and they agreed to host us at their gorgeous new space, The Drake Commissary. With a massive kitchen that includes a GELATO MACHINE, a small marketplace section, and the coolest decor around, we knew our party had found the perfect home. We started working with Chef Jonas and the Drake team to dream up the menu, complete with colour changing cocktails and a naked style cake topped with peonies. We got the oh-so-talented Scarlet O’Neill on board to shoot the surprise, and enlisted the help of Amira from Coriander Girl for fresh flowers and greenery. Topped off with party favours from Sloane Fine Tea Merchants and Kitten and the Bear themselves, the stage was officially set to shower this growing family with love, gifts, and croissants!

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It was really hard to resist buying EVERYTHING for these two and their baby on the way, believe me, but I did my best to stick to the essentials: tiny shoes that make me and Johanna squeal aloud, a bear hat and mitten set to combat the Toronto cold, and a pacifier for teething that Sophie and Bobby can fill with fruit for the new addition to their “Jamily”! Links to shop below…

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Here are some of our favourite picks from Amazon:

Fruit-filled pacifier for teething
Baby bear paw mittens
Baby bear fleece hat
White baby converse
Fruity Party Picks
Baby bear onesie

An extra special thanks to:
Florals – Coriander Girl
Photography – Scarlet O’Neill
Favours – Sloane Tea and Kitten and the Bear
Food, Drinks and Venue – The Drake Commissary

Team RAOP’s dresses by Samantha Pleet (Alyssa) and Guess (blue on Johanna, yellow on Seonaid)

Dress UpParty Time

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I am the most wedding-crazy of all wedding-crazy humans, and I’ve been patiently waiting for my friends to start tying the knot so I can get immersed in all the fun! When my good friend Paige announced her engagement awhile back I knew my time had finally come. I immediately started dreaming up fun ways to celebrate, and a couple months ago I landed on the idea of throwing her a mini styled party/photoshoot with my favourite beauty bar, Her Majesty’s Pleasure.

I’d seen beautiful private events being hosted at HMP time and time again, and it always looks like such a fun and elegant way to get together, get pampered and celebrate. Complete with delicious catering from Colette Grand Café, buckets of bubbly, and the best nail art in the city, it was only a matter of time before I slotted myself in for one of their events packages.

Shot by the oh-so-talented Scarlet O’Neill (also a bride to be!), this project was such a fun way to stretch my bridal styling muscles, and to treat Paige to a bit of pampering to celebrate her upcoming special day. In my mind those moments spent giggling with your girls are a crucial part of the wedding buildup, and why not have that over manicures and flower-topped cocktails right?

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Photos by Scarlet O’Neill
Styling, florals, and direction by Alyssa Garrison
Treats provided by Colette Grand Café
Jam Favours by Kitten and the Bear
Location provided by Her Majesty’s Pleasure
A special thanks to our models, and the bride-to-be of course!
Paige Boersma, Alex Perlin, Amanda Lynn Hatch, and Emily Coutts.