Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Girls in Glasses

Casual Style: Girls in Glasses via the-lifestyle-project.com

Cozy wool socks + black leggings = at home uniform via the-lifestyle-project.com

Casual Style: Girls in Glasses via the-lifestyle-project.com

I’ve been wearing glasses pretty much every day of my life for the past 20 years.  

My parents still recount a story about the day that I put on my first pair of glasses when I was seven years old. They were huge, round, Harry Potter sized frames (long before Harry Potter was cool, of course). As soon as I put them on I asked, “Mom, what are all those dots on your face?” I never knew she had freckles before then. 

Since that day glasses have been a part of my life in one way or another. 

Now that I’m in my 20s, I only wear glasses for about four hours a day. In the evenings when my contacts start to feel a bit dry, after I’ve already changed into leggings or sweatpants (assuming I wasn’t already wearing them before… ahem), I wash my face and switch into my glasses before I go to bed.

Throughout the years, there’s consistently been one main reason why I need to replace my frames – the right arm always gets bent out of shape.

Firmoo glasses review from The-Lifestyle-Project.com
Top: my old frames vs. Below: my new ones c/o Firmoo
It took me a little too long to figure out that’s because I habitually take off my glasses with one hand. Don’t do this! Learn from my mistake. Day after day, taking off your glasses this way makes the screws weaker and eventually stretches the frames so they’ll no longer fit properly on your face. 

When Firmoo reached out about reviewing their glasses, I thought what perfect timing as lately I’ve been reading lots of good things about this company. I chose dark tortoiseshell frames but this lighter pair was a close second and these burgundy frames were on my shortlist too. Right now Firmoo is running some great promotions like getting 50% off your first pair and they even have frames you can try for free.

Within a week, my new pair of glasses arrived in the mail and I’m really pleased with them. In retrospect I think I would've preferred the lighter colour as I was hoping for a bit more 'tortoiseshell' but I'm happy with the dark frames too. My favourite part is the adorable packaging – this case makes me feel inspired to do some future travel planning!

How to prevent your glasses from breaking
Firmoo glasses review

Banana Republic t-shirt (similar) / Lululemon leggingsRoots socks (my fave!) / Jade earrings from local artisan in Costa Rica / Firmoo glasses c/o 

These days I’m making a conscious effort to not just whip off my glasses before I fall asleep. Hopefully my new Firmoo frames will fare better than my old ones in regards to the crooked arms – I’ll definitely keep you updated. 

Do you wear glasses? Are you also a serial glasses breaker? 

Linking up with Style Elixir / Because Shanna Said So / The Pleated Poppy / Get Your Pretty On.

PS: Another example of a comfy “at home” outfit. Yes I’m guilty of wearing leggings as pants again.


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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Recharging My Creativity

Do you have any of those friends who you can always count on to be your cheerleader? Who always encourage you to stand taller and dream bigger? Hopefully you’re fortunate enough to have many of these people in your life. They always help me to feel happier, more empowered, and creatively inspired when we hang out.

Over the past month, I’ve been lucky to get in lots of face time with some truly awesome friends who always make life a little bit a lot more fun. 

So, as you’re reading by now you might’ve noticed that The Lifestyle Project has a brand new design! My friend Tracey, a photographer based in Ottawa who takes the most beautiful wedding and lifestyle photos, visited me last week. We inspire each other/work together really well and, as many good ideas tend to happen, we were halfway through our first bottle of wine when I mentioned to her that lately I’d been thinking about going through another blog redesign because I wasn’t feeling inspired by my site anymore.

While I was chatting away, Tracey opened up Photoshop and Illustrator and began to make the little watercolour splotches that I’d envisioned in my head come to life. Clean, modern, and fresh were words that kept getting repeated. Soon after we had a mockup for a new look, which led to creating all of the images, which led to numerous Google searches beginning with “how to…”, which inevitably led to a few “oh shit!” moments, but ended with a gorgeous and refreshed site I’m proud to call my own. (Granted, there are still a few tiny tweaks to be made, so please be patient. Sometimes done is better than perfect.)

The funny part is that undergoing a redesign wasn’t something I was expecting to tackle until later this year. That’s the thing, though, about connecting with fellow creatives – they challenge you, and inspire you, and sometimes when an idea pops up you just have to run with it even though the timing may not be perfect.

Lest you think all I did was force my friend into slave labour while she was here, we also indulged in a much-needed sushi date, pedicures, a movie night complete with pizza and wings, and went exploring with our cameras on some nature trails. 

The beauty of southeastern Ontario, Canada

Add it to your wanderlist - Ontario, Canada
Capturing the beauty of Ontario in winter
Funny story – at one point we found ourselves lost in some hilly trails where, as fate would have it, right after I took the photo above I accidentally dropped my lens cap and watched helplessly as it tumbled down the hill beneath us. It got caught in some underbrush and Tracey wasted no time – she immediately slid down the muddy slope in a hilarious but successful attempt to rescue the cap. Here’s to friends that always have your back!

Capturing laughter via the-lifestyle-project.com

If you’re reading today’s post via email or my feed, hop on over to the site to see my updated design!


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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

How to Still Be Stylish When You're a Budget Traveller

Those of us who like to travel on a budget know that just because we’re carrying backpacks and taking overnight buses doesn’t mean that we all like to wear gypsy pants or *shudder* the dreaded zip-away-cargo-pants-shorts combo.  

I personally view travel style as an extension of personal style, not its second class cousin. I usually stay away from “travel clothes” per se (with the exception of this awesome travel belt) because they’re too utilitarian for me. 

You know how you usually feel better when you look better? Just because you’re a backpacker or travelling on a budget doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice your style. Here are four tips I swear by for looking put together on the road.

How to Still Be Stylish When You're a Budget Traveller

1. PACK CLOTHING THAT’S REMIXABLE AND WITHIN THE SAME COLOUR PALETTE

Capsule wardrobes are having their moment in blogland right now, but if you’ve ever packed remixable outfits for a trip then you know it’s the exact same concept. When packing for travel, especially if you’re only bringing carry-on, choose tops that match with all of your bottoms and never underestimate the power of dresses. I wrote a lot about this in my post about what to wear for backpacking Central America if you’re interested in reading more. The most important takeaway: make sure pieces are versatile so you can wear them for more than one type of scenario.

2. ADD A FEW ACCESSORIES IN COMPLEMENTARY COLOURS

Based on the colours you chose in step one, pick a few accessories in complementary colours that will match the majority of your outfits. Simple pieces that coordinate with each other are a perfect way to look put together without putting in a lot of effort. A scarf in particular is the ultimate multitasking accessory, especially if you're travelling within conservative cultures.

For jewellery, I recommend bringing no more than one pair of earrings, a necklace, a funky ring, and a set of bangles. You can mix and match from day to day, plus it leaves lots of room should you pick up any more accessories on the road (which, duh, is bound to happen). 

Packing tips for backpackers: choose complementary accessories. More on The-Lifestyle-Project.com

3. CHOOSE NON-WRINKLY, FAST-DRYING MATERIALS

When you’re regularly on the move, it’s important to have clothing that dries quickly, washes easily, and isn’t too heavy or bulky. In hot and humid environments, the key for me was to have a few moisture-wicking pieces in my wardrobe rotation. They’re great for staples like leggings and tank tops and can often be worn again after they’ve been aired out.  

4. PACK CLOTHING THAT YOU’D ACTUALLY WEAR “IN REAL LIFE”

Why bring it if you don’t like it? When I pack for trips, I choose clothing that I enjoy wearing regularly because if I’m packing a capsule wardrobe I’m probably repeating pieces every few days. It’s important to have items that are flattering and make me feel good wearing them. And  how could I forget – travellers take a ton of photos! Do you really want to be wearing the aforementioned zip-away cargos in all of your pictures because they're the only pants you brought? Not unless you're my dad (sorry dad).  

How to not look like a backpacker when you're living out of a backpack
What are your secrets for not looking like a backpacker when you’re travelling long-term?

PS: My travel makeup essentials + a pre-travel planning checklist for anyone who's getting ready to pick up and go.
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How to not look like a backpacker when you're living out of a backpack

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

4 Things That Will Help You Get Shit Done in Coffee Shops

4 Things That Will Help You Get Shit Done in Coffee Shops via The-Lifestyle-Project.com

What to wear when you're sitting at a desk all day

Black oxford high heel booties

The idea of working from home is glorious. Not having to “get ready” in the morning, zero commute time, and the privilege of elastic-waist pants sound oh so very promising. But for those of us who get distracted easily or are prone to procrastinate, working at home (especially when you live with others) presents its own set of challenges. 

If you’re having one of those days where the concept of productivity might as well be a bubble floating in circles around your head, switching up your scenery and getting out of the house. For me, these are the days I make an effort to get dressed in “real clothes” and do my hair and makeup. If you work from home or have an employer that’s flexible with office hours, try these four tips to help you stay focused and master the art of getting shit done in coffee shops. 


1. WEAR LAYERS ON TOP AND BOTTOMS THAT STRETCH

My husband can totally vouch for me on this subject – I’m one of those people whose temperature fluctuates wildly in a day. One minute I’m boiling and the next I feel like the coldest person in the world. That’s why layers and a bit of stretch are so important – staying comfortable throughout the day means you can keep working away. I received this scarf as a Christmas gift and love how it’s thin enough to wear indoors but long enough to wrap around multiple times so I stay warm even in the middle of the arctic temperatures. 

Cozy mustard sweater + patterned scarf + rings
Target mustard cardigan (similar) / H&M patterned scarf (similar) / Bebe bootcut jeans 
American Eagle oxford booties via Payless (similar

2. USE EARPHONES 

Sometimes the "coffee shop buzz" is the perfect ambience, but other times the background noise can get too distracting (that’s when I go into people-watching mode). If the conversations around me keep catching my attention, time to pop in my earphones and retreat back to writing world. This week I’m on a Sia kick – what’s your favourite type of music to work to?

3. BRING WATER

We all know that it’s important to drink lots of water throughout the day, but what do you do in coffee shops that want you to… you know, keep on buying more coffee? If they don’t have a self-serve water station, I confess: I save money by bringing my own bottle of water (or two) stashed away in my purse.

4. EAT BEFORE YOU GO

Another tip to save money while working in coffee shops is to eat before you go. Of course, if you're camping out for the entire day you're likely going to buy a meal while you're there. But if you're working for a shorter chunk of time, it's usually healthier and cheaper to make food yourself beforehand. Plus, if you’re anything like me, it’s also easier to resist the sugary treats that silently call your name from behind the counter (I can’t be the only one this happens to! haha). With a full tummy and lots of water throughout the day, you’re more likely to stay on track and keep getting shit done!
Are you a fan of working in coffee shops, and if so, what tips do you recommend to stay focused?


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Monday, January 12, 2015

Say No to Fake Bags

We all love luxury handbags. We adore their beautiful designs and the way they seem to complete our outfits. What better way to carry around all your important lady stuff than an elegant Louis Vuitton, Prada, or Gucci purse? Many fashionistas want at least a couple of designer bags in her wardrobe (or she may be lucky enough to already own a few!) because she knows that they’re essential for building a stylish, top-notch wardrobe. 

Why you should say no to knockoff designer purses
Photo via Flickr
This is a sponsored post not written by The Lifestyle Project.

So why don’t we all own luxury handbags?


There is, of course, a major obstacle that prevents many women from owning designer purses and that obstacle is an expensive price tag. It’s hard to afford one luxury handbag, far less multiples. This is why many of us have at some point considered the option of buying a replica bag. Indeed, a fake purse would mean a lower price and a similar appearance, but there are some serious disadvantages that come with the acquisition of a knockoff. 

Why shouldn’t I buy a knockoff designer purse?


Replica sellers claim that their fake bags are identical to the original ones, but this isn’t entirely true. The products might appear to have a similar appearance, but there are very fine details that make the difference. And these details matter very much. 

The first thing that hits you is the fabric. Regardless of whether it’s leather or canvas, it is very hard to find the type of material that the original brand uses for manufacturing its bags. This is why if you buy a replica bag you will surely notice that the product has a cheap shine when compared to the original model. 

Furthermore, the firmness and color of the fabric differs a lot. Usually, genuine purses are made from a firm type of leather and the bag can stand tall by its own even when it is completely empty. On knockoffs the leather is very flexible and it will instantly bend if there is nothing inside the bag. This affects very much the shape of the bag and the way it feels when you hold it. 

Printed ankle pants + leather purse
Guilty of buying a purse that has trouble standing up
Another giveaway of a knockoff purse is the texture and color of the fabric. Replica manufacturers usually do not consider these details and they use the closest option they have, but in many cases this will have as result a cheap looking bag. 

Lastly, let's talk about the hardware. From model to model, the choice of materials and the style of embossed markings differ. Each brand has its own set of unique hardware and uses specific lettering for marking them. Basically, any metal part of a purse is stamped with the company’s name or logo. Most replica bags do not use the same type of metal and color as the genuine product. Also, most of them do not stamp each metal part with the brand’s name or logo, or these are incorrectly reproduced. 

What else should I know?


There are numerous other details regarding the shape of the handles, the symmetry of the stitches, the font of the texts, and the accuracy of the tags that make a huge difference between the real purse and a fake one. Anyone who knows a thing or two about the genuine product needs only a quick look at the knockoff to realize that it is just a poor quality replica. 

The lack of workmanship and quality is why it’s not worth it to buy fake or replica products (for example, knockoff designer watches are even easier to spot!). The beauty of an original bag lies in the high quality of its materials and in its exquisite craftsmanship. No replica purse can bring you the same feel of extreme luxury and sophistication. 

Have you ever splurged on a luxury purse before? I haven’t, but I’ve got my eye on a beautiful Michael Kors bag and Rebecca Minkoff crossbody purse that would match perfectly with my wardrobe. 

Thank you for supporting the brands that support The Lifestyle Project.
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Thursday, January 08, 2015

2015: Currently

Oh hello 2015! I had a hard time seeing you with a scarf wrapped around my face to save me from these brutal arctic winds. I’m happy you’re here though as I have a lot of big things planned for you. 

It’s weird to think that one year ago today I filed the first part of my US immigration visa (which I still haven’t received) and arrived in Honduras to begin a three month long backpacking adventure. January 8, 2014 was a pretty big deal! And though I’m currently  not doing anything nearly as exciting, today is still a good day, and I choose to believe that 2015 will be an even better year.  

So with that being said, let’s catch up! Here’s what I’ve been up to lately…

Skeleton Lake, Muskoka, Ontario

Scenery in Muskoka Lakes, Ontario

Black and white photography - cozy fireplace in the winter

Reading >> o-m-g I’ve been reading all the books. I love reading and it’s also been my way of coping with feelings of grief and sadness. A healthy-ish form of escapism, if you will. After Christmas my husband and I drove up north to my best friend’s cottage in Muskoka (which is a gorgeous area in Central Ontario that’s filled with lakes, wildlife, and beautiful scenery). When we weren’t playing games and drinking copious amounts of wine, I was curled up next to the toasty fireplace reading away (if you look closely in the photo above you can even see my Kindle tucked into the armchair). The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty and Wild by Cheryl Strayed are two recent novels that I enjoyed and Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand is next on my list.

Binge watching >> House of Lies, which I only just realized is like a “brother show” to House of Cards. Both are Netflix, both are raunchy, and both have powerful male protagonists who do the time out thing and address the audience directly. If you like Don Cheadle (and who doesn’t), you just found yourself a new show to watch over the winter season.

Smelling >> a new candle that I got for Christmas from Bath & Body Works. It’s called Ocean Driftwood and has a musky, masculine scent that reminds me of my husband. 

Looking >> at all the silly photos that were snapped over the holidays. I’m so blessed to have the best group of girlfriends and such a supportive family.

Making >> an official business plan (thanks Regina for these tools).

Feeling >> how chapped my lips are because of the cold!

Playing >> the Kings of Leon album “Only by the Night.” It reminds me of my university days.

Missing >> my friends and family in Tennessee. I think I’ll be getting my green card and moving to the States some time in February.

Dreaming >> about getting a puppy when my husband and I are finally settled in together! We’re thinking medium-sized, medium-energy, and hypo-allergenic. Any suggestions? Currently a mini golden doodle is at the top of my list, but we’re totally open to adopting too.

Remembering >> my first day of kindergarten. I made this ornament twenty-something years ago and my parents still put it on the Christmas tree every year. Look at that hair!

DIY Christmas ornament for young children

Enjoying >> late mornings and a quiet house.

Drinking >> water, water, and more water. Trying to be healthy blah blah blah.

Eating >> fruit, fruit, and more fruit. See above.

Thinking >> about this recent blog post from Kathleen about choosing 2015. I really connect with the idea of being intentional and choosing how we’re going to carry on with our lives every day instead of just shuffling through the week.

Wanting >> to go snowboarding soon! It’s been two years since my last ride and I can’t tell you how much I miss that feeling of coasting through fresh powder. I want to make the most of this winter (but… not right now. I'll wait for these temperatures to calm down). 

What’ve you been up to in the first days of 2015? 

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