May 26, 2017

Good-bye Tight Waist Bands!

At 16 weeks pregnant my husband, some friends and I went on a trip to Mother Cuba. It was my 5th time going, and my first time where I couldn't drink. I wouldn't recommend it.

On the way home, we were making a pit stop in Toronto for a dear friend's wedding and we were going straight from the airport to the rehearsal dinner. I had packed an easy dress that I knew would still fit and a pair of dance tights that I had just bought from Amazon. Here's the thing. I was so tired at that point in my pregnancy that I could not make it to the store to buy my favourite Mondor tights. I went against all of my best instincts and bought another brand of dance tights in XXL. That's right, two XX's. They were terrible! My belly was just starting to get a little bigger and the waist band was digging into my stomach so badly at dinner that it was hard to think about anything else! 

The next day I knew I had to wear them again for the wedding and I didn't know what I was going to do! Fortunately, my friend Lindsay was also 16 weeks pregnant and had purchased a pair of black Feel Free Maternity Tights from Thyme Maternity. GAME CHANGER!! There was no waist band at all and they had an extra panel in front to fit a growing belly. They were soft, thick and oh so comfortable. I am still so grateful that she lent them to me that day! I got through the wedding fairing pretty well until about 11pm, when my belly decided to pop and my dress no longer zipped up all of the way. You win some and you lose some!

As soon as I got home, I went shopping and bought myself the maternity tights. Not only were the tights on sale, but it was buy one get one 50% off so I treated myself to two pairs. Now that the baby is out and my belly is back to normal, I am still wearing the tights. They stay up really well and I do not need to worry about anything pinching or rolling over.

Besides my daughter, they might be the best thing to come out of my pregnancy!

The Girlfriend Tips

Some of Amelia's girlfriends tips:

1. Buy your shampoos, lotions and soaps at Winners. You can buy salon products at half the price.

2. Wear a shower cap when you’re showering and you don’t want to wash your hair. You can really get in there and enjoy yourself!

3. Invest in a good dry shampoo like Oscar Blandi that works for your hair so you can wash your hair as little as possible. Better yet, buy it at Winners!

4. Every manicure should be a shellac polish.

5.  Use a small makeup bag to keep your purse organized.  Things like a Tide-To-Go stick, bandaids, purell, needle and thread, tampons etc. can go in this pouch.  You will always be prepared for any situation.  You only have to fill it once, and it’s easy to change purses.

6. Only show one part of your body at a time. If you show cleavage cover your knees. If you're showing a lot of leg, cover your shoulders. Be classy!

7. Buy a short, nude coloured slip with a thick waist band. On a hot day, it will absorb the sweat and you won’t get any marks on your dress. Plus its pretty sexy.

8. A hair foundation (chignon mesh) under your bun will make it look much bigger.

9. Use open ended bobby pins for buns, or corkscrew bins. You don’t need hair elastics that will leave a line in your hair!

10. It's better to be single, than to be in a miserable relationship.

You Need Amazon Prime

I love online shopping. Love it. Nothing satisfies me more than a good deal that I can purchase from the comfort of my couch. My husband once created a live broadcast of me sitting on the couch in my housecoat while I shopped after Christmas. He posted the link on his Facebook account and when anyone clicked on the link they were able to watch me "do nothing on [my] Christmas Vacation".  A little bell would toll each time someone checked in but I had no idea what was going on. Several hours later, once strangers started logging in from China it was time to pull the plug!

It tuns out my husband loves to online shop even more than me. He avoids any store so we were in search of some online shopping that we could do together. Last summer while we were preparing for our new baby to arrive, we decided to purchase an Amazon Prime membership. We are in Canada so a basic membership costs $79 a year, so we really debating for a few weeks about whether or not it was a good investment. After almost a year of free two-day shipping and having everything from our diapers to toilet paper delivered directly to our front porch we have to admit IT WAS SO WORTH IT!!!

We signed up for Amazon Prime on Prime Day which takes place in the second week of July each year. It is basically the Black Friday of Amazon and the deals were insane! In the first day alone, we were able to save over $350 on items that we had been eyeing online. The Prime Day savings paid for our membership immediately so it was really a no brainer in the end.

When we started looking into the world of diapers, no one can beat Amazon's Subscribe and Save. We are able to purchase a 200+ box of diapers for around $30/box. The Amazon price for a pair of Pampers Baby Dry Size 3 is $37.28 and when we subscribe it comes to $31.31. Each month we have the option to change the diaper size, or to delay a month on the shipment. The best part is they arrive right to our front door so no need to lug them home from the grocery store. We also get our  premium wipes, kleenex, toilet paper and paper towels this way. There is nothing more satisfying then coming home to find a box the size of a dishwasher waiting out for you on the porch!

Amazon Prime is also great for:

1. Purchasing last minute gifts, especially toys. No need to make a trip to a specialty store in the dead of winter. The gift will be at your house in two days and often one.
2. Any baby product known to man. We got our Britax car seat for $50 cheaper than any local store and we did not need to leave the house to get it!
3. They have a deal of the day for Prime members. Get special deals and early access to other sales.
4. Over-analyzing every purchase by reading hundreds of reviews
5. Making impromptu purchases that you'll definitely regret

Amazon Prime tips:

1. Use a password generator when creating your password. You want to keep your credit card info safe and make it more difficult for yourself to make drunk purchases.
2. Use Subscribe and Save for anything you order monthly or bi-monthly. Most orders will be another 20% off. It will pick a date for you, so be sure to order in advance.
3. Stick to Prime purchases to guaranteed in two-day shipping. There are many free shipping options but they could take weeks to arrive.

Some of the items that we purchased this year:

1. Amazon rechargeable batteries
2. Camping stove
3. Baby food containers
4. Nursing bras in UK sizes
5. Two TV wall mounts
6. Wild Rose Cleanse kit
7. An embarrassing number of things actually - 73 orders in the past year alone!

So clearly we love it. We have been trying to convince everyone we know to get it, and have only successfully gotten two other families to sign up. I think its pretty obvious that we are terrible sales people. The worst.

Maybe this article will help convince the rest....if you have kids in diapers I don't think there is any other way to go!


PS No one has paid me to say any of this...but Amazon I am here for you if you need me.

I'm back!

Guess who's back? Back again!

You have read correctly. It has been a four year hiatus, but I am back! I have learned so many new things over these past few years and a lot has changed. I got married, had a baby girl, bought new couches and went north of the Wall. Going through the stages of planning a wedding, trying to get pregnant, being pregnant and finally being a mother have exposed me to a whole new world of products, clothing and gear. There are so many great things out there that I need to share!

A couple of months ago I started to write up a big email to a friend about all of the baby gear that I had bought. A few months later, I revised it and sent to another pregnant friend....then a few months later I sent it to another. This got me thinking. Maybe it was time to share my new knowledge with a bigger community. Amelia's Girlfriends has pivoted and will now be venturing into the world of baby gear, beauty products, fashion and anything else that has helped me on my journey.

Thanks for joining us and I hope you enjoy this new adventure,

Amelia (Caitlin) Villeneuve

May 29, 2013

The Magic Eraser Really is Magic

When I was in my third year of university, I moved into a house with 5 other girls. I grew up living with three brothers, so I had high hopes about how a pack of girls would take care of a house. 

I have a very clear memory of what the bathtub looked like upon my arrival. It was black, stained and in general just plain disgusting! My Mom, the cleaner, immediately drove down to the A & P and bought a bottle of bleach. (I've also seen her do this at cottages we've rented). After a short soaking, the black spots went away, and now there was only some mildew to remove. But how to remove the mildew??

This answer wouldn't come for several years. One night a friend of my roommates was over and she was telling us how she cleans her tub with Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. The only experience I had had with these in the past was trying to get some scuff marks off of my friends wall in her apartment and taking off most of the paint instead. I thought they were a waster of time. Boy was I wrong!

I bought a 2-pack of Magic Erasers and went to town on my tub. I still believe in a light spraying of bleach to remove any life growing in the tub, but once I rinse it off, I get in there with the eraser. 

I find the best way to use the eraser is to get right into the tub or to throw your body over side and clean from your knees. For a treat, I like to clean it right before I need to jump in for a shower. There is nothing more rewarding than a super clean tub during a Saturday afternoon shower!

Depending on the state of your tub, you should see very obvious results as the Magic Eraser rips off the mildew. I use it in rows starting at the back of the tub, then do a light scrubbing of the walls. If you're never used this before you will be shocked by how much will come off of your tub. Its actually a tad disturbing!

The Magic Eraser will slowly disintegrate with use. I use the "pocket" magic erasers that break off to clean up the sink and any toothpaste stains that build up. It is also amazing in the fridge, on cupboards, coffee tables, and light switches. I've tried the specialty brands that Mr. Clean sells, but I don't find that they are any better than the original. Stick with the cheapest ones you can find, and then stock up when they are on sale!

Treat yourself this weekend to a fresh, mildew free shower. Your body and your allergies will thank you!

March 24, 2013

The Best Socks for People Who Hate Socks

I have always been very particular about what materials I would allow on my feet in legs. For a refresher about my experience with ballet tights click here

Finding a great pair of comfortable socks has been a life long battle. My first memory of trying to make my socks scratch my legs the less began on the reading carpet in Grade 3. Our teacher Mrs. Bolton used to read us stories from her wooden rocking while we all sat on the carpet. I used to play with the suede on her pumps and somehow during this time myself and the other girls started rolling down our socks. Picture knee high socks being carefully rolled down to create a large roll at the tops of our ankles. This was my solution to create what I would now call ankle socks. We would spend a lot of time and effort rolling them down and afterwords the roll would be so large that it would prevent our  jeans sweatpants from reaching our shoes. I might add that this was also the time in my life that I started wearing Hawaiian shirts to school on Wednesdays. 

Anyways, the point that I am getting at is that I hated socks creeping up my shins, and even more so if they were so tight they created a line in my calf. I also hated scratchy polyester socks that made me feet sweat. Unfortunately at 10 years old I didn't know this is why I didn't like my socks, and I just assumed all socks were made equal. Boy was I wrong! (this is also why I didn't eat pizza until I was 19 since I thought all pizza tasted like the cheesy, greasy stuff my parents ordered every Friday night.)

I've struggled to buy comfortable socks that look good but also do not restrict my raging calf muscles. I currently have one pair of striped socks from Simons in Montreal that meet this requirement and I started handwashing them at night so that I could re-wear them the next day. I was avoiding every other sock I owned. I will also add that almost every pair of socks I own have been a gift from my Mother. It's not her fault though...I never took the time to tell her my sock issues.

Recently, I got to the point where I hated all of socks so much that I just stopped wearing them all together. I would declare in the mornings, "I HATE ALL OF MY SOCKS!!" then throw my bare foot into a leather boot. This new style generally worked for me. I am lucky that I am not someone with "foot odor"(or at least I don't think that I do).

Unfortunately, if I went anywhere where I had to remove my shoes in public, such as the doctors or dentist office, I would be stuck walking barefoot on freezing cold floors or getting salt and gravel over my precious peeps. The 'no sock' solution wasn't ideal. I needed to find socks I wanted to wear!!

One night this past winter I hit up the mall trying to find the perfect pair of black pants (which I am still searching for) and found myself in the Gap looking at socks. I knew I needed to make this purchase count! These were my prerequistes for purchasing new socks:

1. Did they look nice on the foot section? (who cares about the ankle part, no one sees it anyways)

2. Were they made from cotton? (polyester would not do...too scratchy)

3. Was there the left-over threads from the design pattern on the inside of the sock? (If so, then no...this gets caught on my toenails and again feels scratchy)

4. How tight was the top of the sock? 

I've made the mistake of ignoring one of the four criteria on prior purchases, then I get home, try them on, hate them, and immediately need to give them away. It's a major waste of money but great for my Mom. 

On this particular day I spotted something I never knew existed. There was a black ankle sports sock! It was 1. plain black, 2. cotton, 3. had no threads inside and 4. only hit my ankle! I had been wearing my white sports socks as a treat on days that I knew no one would see my socks and I needed a little extra warmth. These new black socks would allow me to wear them in public and every day my feet would get treated with nice tight arch support. 

I bought a couple of pairs and loved them so much that I soon found myself doing the same thing that I did with my striped socks. I was saving them for important days, and washing them in the sink to have them the next day again. While at the new Joe Fresh store, I discovered something amazing...three pairs of black sports ankle socks for $6!!!!
I bought two packs and I haven't turned back since.

I currently have 9 pairs of socks which I love, and I can easily go back and buy more if I really want them. Everyday I enjoying selecting my socks and never feel like I am settling for something that I am going to want to rip off my feet by 2pm. Stop the sock at my ankle saves my calf from ever being restricted, and again that nice tight arch feels so good all day long. Why didn't I discover these sooner!?!!

(P.S. I ate two pogos while writing this post)

January 4, 2013

Got a Problem? Argan Oil Will Fix It!

I haven't always had dry skin and I do not remember when it started, but it did start, and it really sucks in the winter! My first memory of my face cracking in the winter was my first year of university in Kingston, Ontario. I had a class on the other side of campus and in order to get there we had to walk across the rugby field while blistering winds raged upon us from Lake Ontario. That ten minute walk in January seemed like the longest walk I'd ever taken in my life. My skin would burn, but toes and fingers would freeze, and the sweatpants I was wearing would turn to ice. I wasn't cut out for this type of lifestyle. 

For Hair ONLY
Fast forward 10 years (ahh I can't believe its been 10 years!), and our Canadian winter begins yet again. I cannot get over how dry my face immediately becomes at this time of year, and even after applying moisturizer twice a day. My skin still begs for something more. Something natural, something that will actually delve into my pores and moisturize the shit out of my skin. This product is Argan Oil

Oil you say? I can't put oil on my skin! Oh yes you can! When we were teenagers we developed this idea that oil caused pimples and therefore, we would need to strip our skin of all oils in order to avoid our white and red little friends. Well now that I am older, (and hopefully a little wiser) I've learned that this is not the case! Our skin needs oil to stay moisturized, and stripping all of the oils away from our skin will only make our bodies produce even more oils to counter-balance what was washed away with our Noxema. 

I started by applying One 'n Only Argan Oil Treatment to my hair after I had seen several posts of its benefits from other blogs. It did a really good job at smoothing out my ends, and defining my layers. I knew that it had lots of other chemicals in it besides the oil, but it was only $10 so I thought it was worth a try. 

The following week I was at work, and some students had set up a booth and were selling fair trade African products. I spotted a little bottle of oil called 100% Pure Argan Oil, and purchased it for $20. I figured that a product with no chemicals in it what so ever would be better for my hair in the long run that one with lots of chemicals. I was pleasantly surprised when the label said, "argan oil is rich in antioxidants and fatty acids, which aid in softening dry skin and protecting it against dryness, cracking and roughness". 

The company the students were selling was a brand called Aghsane who export Argan and other oils directly from Africa. I had never even thought to apply an oil to my dry face, but desperate times, call for desperate measures! I wasn't quite sure what would happen if I slathered pure oil all over my skin, but after a few classes of wine with friends, we all figured we'd give it a go. It was the best risk I've ever taken. 

My skin has never felt better. After a shower I apply a small squirt of oil onto my palm, and smooth it all over my face. It absorbs in very easily, and keeps my skin smooth and moist all day. I've even stopped using my regular moisturizer, but will have to combine the two once spring hits and I need some SPF coverage again. Or I can try this great product which combines my love of Argan oil with SPF 40!

These are a few of the AMAZING things Argan Oil can be used for:
1. Skin Moisturizer
2. Hair Conditioner
3. Anti-Ageing (reduces fine lines and wrinkles)
4. Natural Healer and Protector (scars)
5. Clears up Acne, eczemarosaceapsoriasis
6. Softens cuticles
7. Safe for Babies and stretchmarks!

Make sure you read the label: Not all oils are made the same. In order to feel safe putting Argan Oil on your skin,  especially your face, you must ensure that it is 100% pure Argan Oil. There are many Moroccan oils sold in beauty supply stores which can be great for your hair, but are full of other chemicals and may only have argon oil as their last ingredient. Trust me, you do not want this on your skin. If the price seems to good to be true, then it probably is. Stick to the pure products!

The best part about Argan oil is that you will be applying no chemicals, including parabens, sulfates or dyes to your skin or hair.  The bad part is that it can be tricky to find Pure Oil at a decent price. I found this Essences of Argan Oil on for only $15, but this bottle of Josie Maran Oil from Sephora is $38. However, you only need to apply a small drop a day, so a 2oz bottle should last up to a year.

I've had so many friends telling me that I need to share the benefits of Argan oil so here it is! Spread the word, nourish your skin and don't be afraid of a little oil!