Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Is Oxblood Still a Thing?

Slouchy blazer and leather-trimmed tee from The-Lifestyle-Project.com

Lately it's been a bit difficult to feel inspired by my wardrobe. I'm paying the price for spending my summer in Tennessee indulging in deep-fried awesomeness, generously poured glasses of wine, and cheese that's described more specifically than queso amarillo (yellow cheese). It can be so hard to resist the good things in life, know what I mean? 

Not only are my clothes unfortunately fitting tighter but half of my things are still with my husband in Tennessee. My life feels so unorganized and it's hard to be creative in my closet when I'm missing a ton of my go-to pieces. I've been looking for a more professional purse/carry-all/laptop bag so over the weekend I popped into the mall to see if I could find any stylish options. 

For better or for worse it was one of those times where every store had a sale and I totally got bit by the shopping bug! With our travels, transitioning to freelancing, student loan repayments, and immigration costs for moving to the US, it's hard for me to justify spending a lot on new clothing and accessories right now.

Yet the stores kept calling my name... 

When I noticed this oxblood blazer on sale for only $25 I was immediately drawn to its slouch factor. Maroon, burgundy, oxblood... whatever you want to call it (though really, who likes picturing oxblood?), I've always been a fan of this purpley-red colour. The blazer appears quite purple in these photos but it's more reddish in real life. It wasn't until I got home that I realized how well the blazer, leather-trimmed shirt, and colour-blocked purse went with my printed pants that I wore earlier this summer. Does that happen to you too, when you accidentally buy pieces that are super matchy? 

Fall fashion: Slouchy blazer + printed ankle pants + cap toe flats


Fall fashion: Printed pants + cap toe flats + colour block tote bag

Ladies fashion: Oxblood blazer from The-Lifestyle-Project.com


I wore this outfit for a morning of errands and appointments and an afternoon spent working at a coffee shop. I can happily report that my new purse fits my planner, laptop, charger, etc. and looks a lot more polished than the canvas tote bag I was using in the summer. To dress this outfit up a notch I'd swap out the flats for cute black booties, add a deeper shade of lipstick, and amp up the jewellery.

Are you still a fan of last fall's trendy oxblood?


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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

My Dream Vacation + $200 Cash Giveaway

The question of where I'd go on a dream vacation has always been surprisingly difficult for me to answer. I think that's what happens when your eyes are filled with wanderlust and everywhere in the world seems like an adventure waiting to happen. (Seriously, check out my wanderlist on Pinterest  it includes a little bit of everything!)

Choosing to travel to Central America earlier this year was something that happened mostly because of costs and timing. Considering that I'm based in North America, travelling south isn't too expensive. 

But there is one country I've always wanted to see. In high school I took a world religions class that started with Greek mythology. Around the same time the movie Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants came out and BAM  just like that, Greece made it to the top of my travel bucket list. (Sidenote: Out of all the girls in the movie, didn't you think Alexis Bledel would've been the one to make it big? I totally thought her Gilmore Girls star power would've taken her further.)

Cliffs of Santorini

Mykonos Sunset
images via Paper Planes
The white-washed buildings, iconic blue roofs, gorgeous scenery and amazing history make me want to visit asap. Can you imagine the snorkelling and diving to be had? It would definitely give Belize a run for its money. Alana from Paper Planes is currently travelling through Greece so I'm living vicariously through her blog posts until I save up enough money to get there myself.

Speaking of money, you know what would be really nice right now? Winning $200 cash. And that's what's going on today! I've gotten together with some awesome ladies to give you a chance to win $200 through PayPal. Enter in the rafflecopter below!

(If you follow me through Bloglovin, Twitter, Pinterest, and/or Instagram you've already got entries waiting for you!) 



Jackie ~ Our Nashville Life // Kelly ~ Six One Six
Shelly ~ Behind Blue Eyes // Cat ~ Oddly Lovely // Melany ~ Melany's GuyDlines
Desiee ~ Love Desiree // Danielle ~ The Lifestyle Project // Dee~ A Deecoded Life
Kimberly ~ p.s. remember this....// Brainne ~ Being Bracco // Helene ~ Helene in Between


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Monday, October 20, 2014

You Know You're Back in Canada When...

You Know You're Back in Canada When...

You know you're back in Canada when...
  • your friends say, "Let's go to Timmy's!" and nobody is referring to a person named Timothy
  • somebody bumps into you and both of you immediately say sorry
  • nobody makes fun of you for the way you say sorry
  • you put on your snow tires by the beginning of November
Fall in South Eastern Ontario
  • it's after 10 pm and there's nowhere to buy alcohol except for overpriced bars
  • speaking of bars, you order a glass of wine and your bill comes to $8.50 + 13% tax + 15% tip
  • there isn't a dollar menu at any of the fast food restaurants
  • you buy a book and inexplicably have to pay at least $5 more than the price that's listed on the back cover
  • really, you can just sum it up and say pretty much everything is more expensive in Canada (don't even get me started on gas prices...)
Autumn in Ontario #travel #exploreontario
Smiling because of the scenery, not for the inflated prices
  • the leaves on the trees are fiery red and orange but you know it won't be too much longer until they're all on the ground and covered by a layer of frost
  • you have to figure out how to wear a winter coat under your Halloween costume
  • you follow style bloggers in Texas who are only now starting to wear scarves and boots and you think WTF
  • when those same bloggers start talking about spring at the beginning of March and wearing dresses with bare legs you seriously consider moving to Texas
  • the highest rating you ever see in a movie theatre is 14A
  • as you're stuck in traffic on the 401 you remember the joke that there are only two seasons in Canada  winter and construction
  • your friends start planning winter getaways to Cuba before it's even Christmas
  • somebody refers to Aunt Jemima and you scoff, "Ugh, that's not even real maple syrup!"
  • you're reminded how beautiful it is to be in an area with colours like these:
Fall scenery in Ontario, Canada #photography

What are the funny quirks that remind you when you're back in your home country?


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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Don't Worry, I'm an Expert...

Silly selfies from The-Lifestyle-Project.com
The face of an expert
I'm an expert at...
  • being late to the party. This post for #Blogtember14 for example was meant to go up yesterday. Oops! The Trini blood in me runs strong
  • stuffing wine and cheese into my face
  • driving faster than the speed limit 
  • taking six freaking years to write a blog post
  • losing hair ties and bobby pins all over the world
  • reading an email, getting distracted halfway, thinking I replied, then coming back days later to realize it's sitting in my drafts
  • unpacking as soon as I get to a new vacation spot (however I'm terrible at unpacking as soon as I get home)
What does home mean to you?
Case in point: I've been in Toronto for a week and still have suitcases in my bedroom. It ain't pretty.
  • eating chocolate
  • smudging my nail polish five minutes after applying it
  • always choosing the slowest line. Whether it's at the grocery store, airport, train station... doesn't matter. If you see me waiting in line, do yourself a favour and don't stand behind me
  • thinking I'm a Mario kart champ (until the wine wears off)
  • taking a thousand pictures yet not editing any of them
  • losing said photos one way or another 
Now I know not everyone can be an expert like me (hah!) but I'd love to hear one little thing at which you'd consider yourself a pro. Share it with me in the comments! 
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Thursday, October 16, 2014

What I'm Wearing: This Season's Biggest Trend

Everywhere I turn I'm seeing this season's biggest trend. Can you guess what it is?

Fall fashion: Leather and leopard from The-Lifestyle-Project.com

This season's biggest trend: The Leather Slip On Sneaker from The-Lifestyle-Project.com

Leather Slip On Sneakers from The-Lifestyle-Project.com

Chambray: The ultimate transition piece for summer/fall

Target quilted leather slip on sneakers / Madewell chambray shirt / J. Crew leopard print scarf (original sold out but similar here) / Everlane tshirt / Express scuba leggings (original sold out but similar here)H&M cuff bracelet (similar here) / The It camera bag

Slip on sneakers are no longer just for the punks and hipsters. They've been all over the place this fall, so when my trusty black flats literally fell apart on me last month, I pulled into the nearest store with the intention of picking up a simple replacement ballet flat to get me through the rest of the day. 

As I turned the corner in Target these quilted leather babies caught my eye. Le Chateau and Steve Madden have some beautiful (albeit pricier) options as well but since I'm on a hard core budget right now, the $25 Target option looked pretty good to me!

I've been hesitant to try out this trend because I have big feet (size 10) so I thought they would look ginormous in slip on sneakers. Once I put them on though, and especially once I photographed them, my self-consciousness went away. They look totally proportional (to my eye at least!) and they're super comfortable. I didn't have any blisters breaking in these slip on sneakers which is awesome because I think we can all agree blisters and flats are the absolute worst! Heels I expect, but flats? Ain't nobody got time for that. 

This season's biggest trend: Leather slip on sneakers via The-Lifestyle-Project.com

I wouldn't recommend packing these slip on sneakers for long-term travel or hot days filled with walking/sight seeing because they're not particularly breathable. I imagine them getting pretty stinky with daily use in warm weather, but for casual wear they get two thumbs up from me.

PS: Remember when I talked about my trusty chambray shirt as the perfect transition piece? Don't be surprised if you see me wearing this a lot  I'm all about remixable clothing!

Linking up today's fall fashion with The Daily Tay / Helene in Between / The Pleated Poppy / Style Elixir.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

What Does Home Mean to You?

Last week it was finally time for me to make the 14 hour drive up to Canada. M and I have said many goodbyes throughout our periods of being in a long distance relationship but (if I'm being totally honest) I still cry like a baby every time.

As we’ve had delay after delay with our immigration case, I knew my husband and I would be facing a period of separation. We’d already spent a month apart earlier this year as I was travelling through Central America but it’s different when it’s voluntary. This time the government is forcing us to go our separate ways as my tourist visa to the States has expired. I was trying to be optimistic last month but you know what? Let’s be frank about it  having to live in a different country from your husband just sucks.  

It’s hard when there are so many answers that are unknown. When am I going to see M again? Is my immigration visa going to face another delay? Are we making enough money for it to be approved? Will we be together for Christmas?

In the soft light of day break, we hugged and kissed a tearful “see you soon”. I got in the car and watched my husband’s figure shrink in the distance as I continued to drive farther away from my love. His reflection in the rear view mirror became blurrier as my tears refused to subside. 

Rainy day in Tennessee
It probably wasn't too safe for me to be driving when my vision looked like this
Why am I being so dramatic? I chided myself. I'm going back to Canada. I'm going to be with my family and friends. I'm going home. 

The last sentence gave me a lot to think about though as I continued to drive north. What does home even mean to me?


When I'm travelling I use the word very lightly. I'm so sweaty after this hike, I can't wait to go home and shower, I say, referring to my guesthouse.

When I arrived in Tennessee earlier this summer and walked into a Starbucks with a sign on the door that said No Guns Allowed, I immediately took pause and thought, Well this isn’t like the Starbucks at home. 

When I lived in Ottawa and visited my family in Toronto, at the end of the weekend it was time to go back home ie: the apartment that M and I shared as he was finishing his university degree. It might’ve been small but it was our own.

Handmade Guatemalan ponchos
We're total nerds for buying matching sweaters in Guatemala, far less wearing them at the same time. Trust me, I was embarassed for us! haha
And now here I am sitting in my childhood bedroom. This house is familiar and comforting and home in a sense, but it’s not my home any more. My parents are getting ready to sell it next spring so when I pack up my things and leave this house, I’m leaving it forever.

2014 has been such a year of transition for me. Half of my clothes, my life, and my heart are split between Ontario and Tennessee.

The only notion of home that I keep coming back to is the one that we shared in our wedding vows: “My arms will be your shelter and my heart will be your home.”

As you grow older into adulthood, what does home mean to you? Do you use the term as interchangeably as I do?

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Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Travel Route Through Central America Part II

Travel Route through Central America // The-Lifestyle-Project.com

In case you missed Part I, catch up here!

As an independent traveller, the most daunting part of planning a trip for me always starts at the very beginning: narrowing down which countries I want to visit (spoiler alert: my wanderlist includes pretty much everywhere) and then figuring out which route I’m going to take. 

I’ve been asked a lot why I chose to backpack through Central America specifically when I could’ve travelled to anywhere else. My husband was open to going everywhere but Africa (he’s deployed to several countries there and doesn’t want to revisit right now). A safari is high on my list but maybe that’s something I’ll do on my own  Africa was off the list. I’ve been to Asia before and Europe can get really pricey. What about going down south? We were planning to drive from Canada to the States anyway to see family so it’d be a perfect base point. 

When we considered budget, timing, and proximity, travelling for a few months through Central America came out on top. Last week I talked about the first half of our backpacking route that started in Honduras then continued to Belize and Guatemala. Today I’m sharing part two which includes El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. I’m looking back on the route I planned vs. the route I actually took and sharing some advice I learned along the way.

El Salvador ~ 4 days


I left off writing about my final day in Antigua, Guatemala before heading to El Salvador. Originally I’d hoped to make my way right across the country but the timing was too tight. I chose to skip Parque Nacional Los Volcanes and San Salvador in order to relax for a bit at a turtle sanctuary in El Cuco that I'd heard a lot of great things about. The beach there was amazingly empty during the week and great for beginner surfers (but not so great for paddleboarding).

Wanderlust on El Cuco Beach in El Salvador // The-Lifestyle-Project.com

Instead of taking public transportation to cross borders for the 12+ hour trip, through a ton of TripAdvisor research I found a shuttle service going from Antigua to El Cuco. Conveniently they'd partnered with the sanctuary where I was planning to stay and my $50 bus ticket also included one free night's accommodation. Score!

When I was ready to leave El Cuco, I couldn't find a boat going onward to Potosi, Nicaragua, so I decided to take a simpler route with the shuttle company and go right into Leon, Nicaragua.

Nicaragua ~ 10 days


Don't be like me and arrive in a new city at night without having accommodations booked in advance! I arrived in Leon at 10 pm with a bus full of other backpackers who hadn't secured reservations yet. On one hand, at least I had a few new friends who were in the same position as me. On the other hand, there weren't enough beds for everyone.

We pulled up on a street that had four hostels in view and I raced into one to grab their last private room with a private bathroom. The next couple of days were spent making new friends, volcano boarding, exploring the strangest museum I've ever seen, and catching gorgeous views of the largest cathedral in Central America. 

Travel route through Central America // The-Lifestyle-Project.com

From Leon I caught a ride to the airport in Managua and flew to Big Corn Island. Ferries were entirely unreliable when I was backpacking through so I splurged on a round-trip air ticket to get across Nicaragua to the Caribbean coast. Little Corn Island, where I ended up celebrating my birthday, is even farther from the mainland and thus harder to get to. 

On LCI, walking and wheelbarrows are the most common forms of transportation (yes, seriously  there aren’t any roads, far less cars). The boat ride out was absolutely terrifying and I legitimately thought we were going to capsize several times but by the grace of God I managed to make it alive. 

For the record, LCI was totally worth the trek. The water was crystal clear, diving was incredible, the beaches were quiet, and even the cockroaches didn't scare me away!

Saturday, October 04, 2014

The Story Behind My Favourite Photo on Instagram

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"We were together. I forget the rest." -- Walt Whitman. And just like that it's been two years. Love you BB #love #marriage #wedding #happyanniversary

I like this photo for obvious reasons: the handsome stud I’m about to make out with, a reminder of our wedding, and the fact that my arm looks skinny. What makes it my favourite photo on Instagram is the story behind the moment.

When I was planning our wedding, I found these adorable decor pieces for the reception  kissing bells. The winery where we got married wasn’t too keen about clinking glasses with cutlery to get the bride and groom to kiss, so when I found the kissing bells that doubled as placeholders I thought it was the perfect solution. On the back is a really sweet poem that reads, "Today as we gather together / Wish us a love to last forever / If you would like us to share a wedded kiss / Ring the bell for lifelong bliss!"

I’m usually pretty hesitant about being all kissy in public but there’s no room for being self-conscious at your own wedding! Seconds before this photo was snapped M whispered, “Let’s give them a show,” which is what prompted that huge smile on my face. I love how we look so genuinely in love. 

Today I'm linking up with Helene and Taylor for #Blogtember14. What’s the story behind your favourite photo?

Kissing bell for weddings via The-Lifestyle-Project.com
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Friday, October 03, 2014

Updated: Backpacking Route Through Central America Part I

Backpacking Route Through Central America

This time last year I was knee-deep in planning our trip to Central America. I blogged about my route through the area and one year later it’s still my most popular post! I thought it was high time to write an update for any travellers who are trying to plan an itinerary and looking for some inspiration about where to go in Latin America.

This post is filled with details about the route I actually ended up taking, what I would keep the same or change, and some tidbits of information you'll find useful along the way.

(In case you’re curious, check out my original post about our backpacking route or you can skip ahead to Part II of this itinerary.)

The Background: My Travel Parameters

  • I backpacked to all seven countries in Central America (Honduras, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama)
  • Length of travel: for me, three months (my husband decided to leave early after seven weeks)
  • I chose to splurge on activities rather than luxurious accommodations, however...
  • We opted for private rooms/bathrooms whenever possible (this continued after my husband left. I’ve totally outgrown the dorm room thing). I thought this would cost about $25 USD per night but including fees, taxes, etc. it averaged out to more like $35 per night
  • I like museums, ruins, and volcanoes but I’m not obsessed with seeing, touring, or climbing them all
  • I stuck to public transportation for the most part, but there were times when it was simply easier to take a short flight or hire a shuttle service. I think the convenience combined with less stress and a more pleasant experience was worth paying extra.
  • Daily spending averaged about $35 per person per day. You could get by on much less, but we like to eat and drink, and fortunately could afford to spend more than the bare minimum
  • I’d describe my travel style as “the upper end of a budget traveller”

Backpacking Route Through Central America


Honduras ~ 1 month


Day one of our adventure: we flew into San Pedro Sula airport, took a bus to La Ceiba, and broke the bed in our hostel that night. The next morning we unexpectedly decided to fly instead of ferry to the island of Utila where we stayed for the next month.

Where to go in Central America: Utila, Honduras
An unexpected expense but a very cool experience
We chose to spend so much time in Utila because we wanted to get our open water certifications and have ample time to dive (where it’s ⅓ of the price compared to Belize!). I half-jokingly refer to that first chunk of our trip as “our vacation.” We stayed in a charming guesthouse, we read all the time, and were really comfortable. The rest of my trip throughout Latin America moved at a much faster pace, which is good because I got to experience a lot, but it wasn’t as relaxing.

At the time, I was ready to move on after two weeks, but looking back on that first month I can’t deny it felt great to slow down and adjust to life on the island. Regardless of your style and how fast you like to travel, Utila is worth staying at for more than just three days. A lot of backpackers get their diving certifications here and immediately bounce but I'd recommend hanging out for a bit longer. While you're here, stuff your face with as many baleadas as you can because they're delicious, inexpensive, and you'll be hard pressed to find them outside of Honduras!

Sunset over Utila Bay
I miss these wicked sunsets from our dock overlooking Utila Bay. This photo hasn't been edited at all. 
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