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Monday, December 23, 2013

The Last Mani Monday: Classic Red

Today is my very last Mani Monday so I chose to wear my tested and true favourite shade of red, OPI's I'm Not Really a Waitress. The deeper tone and pearlescent finish make this such a high quality polish that is perfect for the holiday season. This morning I'm moving out of my little apartment (which doesn't feel so little when it's time to box everything up!) so my nails probably won't be looking this pretty by this afternoon, but that's okay because at the end of the day I'll be toasting with some red wine and all will be good. 

My husband has officially finished his undergraduate degree as of yesterday morning. He wrote his final exam then came home to paint, clean, and pack up a moving truck along with my sweet dad who drove seven hours in a freezing rain storm to help us this weekend! (I was "supervising" the move much to everyone's dismay.) We'll be spending the holidays with family and friends in Toronto before beginning our adventure in the new year. 

Isn't that just the cutest graduation poem? The wine tag was made by Love in Writing, a wonderful etsy shop that also made our wedding invitations. I thoroughly recommend checking them out! 

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Saturday, December 21, 2013

December Links I Love

Independent Fashion Bloggers Links a la Mode

Pinch me -- it's happened again! This week I was featured in Independent Fashion Bloggers' Links à la Mode for my post about how to take a flattering passport photo. I'm proud to be in such great company. Why don't you take some time on this beautiful Saturday morning to get lost in link love and browse these interesting articles. Happy reading!

Best December Reads

Wearing the Pants in the Family

Do you know what? Every time you think you got the pants down, something new comes up! Transparent pants, sequin pants for any occasion, no-pants... heck even changing your sweaters into pants. It's crazy what we'll do to cover our legs! Anyway, while the whole roundup isn't necessarily about PANTS, they certainly come up every now and then. What I like about the idea of "pants" is the idea of taking control of your wardrobe. Maybe everyone in your family wears pants, but in your life who or what is wearing the metaphorical pants? And what can you do to reinvent them? Let's find out in this week's Links a La Mode!

Links à la Mode: December 19th

  • A la Modest: My Previous Jobs Side by Side
  • Attire Club: Tips on Being a Good Host
  • Kiri Yanchenko: Crop It Like It's Hot
  • Late Night Minutes: DIY Ugly Christmas Sweater
  • Love, Kate Smith: Primp & Pamper
  • Lucy's Pearls: How To: The New French Roll
  • Miss Monet: Fashion News: Rihanna is Balmain's It Girl
  • Nothing to Wear Novello: Trending SWANTS
  • Quirky Britches: Borrowing from the Men's Department
  • Stye Bizarre: Rock Your New Year's Eve Look
  • Rising Colors: How to Dress Like a French Woman in 7 Steps
  • Risticulous: What I Made: Long Cardigan
  • Style Context: How To Wear Sequin Pants
  • Style Wire: The Awkward Gift Guide: Over Achieving Sibling
  • The Curatorial: 20 Great Gifts Under $100
  • The Lifestyle Project: How to Take a Good Passport Photo
  • The Stylish Butterfly: How to Avoid Buying The Wrong Quilted Puffer Coat
  • The Stylist: What's the Lifespan of a Trend?
  • What2WearWhere: Elaine Turner Opens Boutique
  • Wild Beauty World: The Yoga Body
SPONSOR: East Dane, Ca & Lou, Oscar de la Renta, RVN, Inis Meain, Havaianas, Parke Ronen, Lenny Niemeyer, Jill Stuart, Koolaburra, Christopher Raeburn

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Friday, December 20, 2013

What to Wear for Backpacking Through Central America

What to Wear for Backpacking Central America
I’m going backpacking through Central America from January to April 2014 and the two most important questions on my mind are “Where do I go?” and “What do I wear?” (clearly my priorities are in order). I’ve got the first question answered and this week I finally got my packing list figured out as well. 

In the past I’ve been a notorious overpacker as I hate to be limited with outfit choices. I’d throw my favourite pieces in my suitcase without considering whether they actually went together or which accessories best complemented my outfits. Since I’m travelling with a backpack now, I need to be much more selective as every thing I pack means extra weight on my back. 

Have you heard of Travel Fashion Girl? Alex is a long-term traveller who’s been all over the world and creates destination-specific packing lists. She doesn’t have one for Central America yet, but I adapted her 12 Piece Classic Packing List for my trip. Here’s what I’ve got:

  • 2 tank tops (1 black, 1 floral)
  • 3 t-shirts (1 striped, 1 black moisture wicking, 1 orange)
  • 1 tribal patterned tunic
  • 1 knit cardigan 
  • 1 pair black leggings 
  • 3 shorts (cargo green, denim, white)
  • 1 maxi dress (black and white)
  • 1 knee-length dress (black hi-low)
  • 2 bras (black and nude)
  • 1 sports bra
  • 9 underwear
  • 2 pairs of socks
  • flip flops
  • nicer sandals
  • running shoes
  • flats
  • 1 scarf (neon)
  • 1 sarong (black)
  • 1 cross-body purse (turquoise), 1 tote bag (navy blue)
  • 1 belt
  • 1 set of costume jewellery (necklace, chandelier earrings, bracelets but no rings)
  • 2 bathing suits
  • 1 set of pajamas 
  • 1 pair cut-off nylons (to wear under skirts to prevent thigh chafing -- ladies you know how painful this can be!)
  • travel towel
  • windbreaker
Packing list for Central America

Because I was a lot smarter about packing remixable tops and bottoms, my 12 main pieces have given me 21 outfits. Yes you read that right -- 21 outfit options! I added a long-sleeved cardigan as a completer piece, a light coat for rainy days, and an infinity scarf for some extra coverage/warmth. I opted for a neutral palette of black, white, and tan and chose to accessorize with pops of colours in the accessories (like my multi-coloured scarf, turquoise sandals, and cross-body purse).

Here’s what all my clothing looked like when rolled into mesh packing bags:

Packing for Central America

Not too bad, eh! What do you think -- any items of clothing that I’m missing? Let me know in the comments below.

Linking up with Style Elixir.

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Product Review: Battle of the Mascaras

Battle of the Mascaras - Which one is better, Diorshow or They're Real?

The Contenders:

In the red corner, Benefit's They're Real Mascara.
In the blue corner, Dior's Diorshow Mascara.

These mascaras have been talked about so often in the beauty world, but at close to $30 a pop, is the tantalizing promise of long lashes worth it? Benefit's They're Real particularly seems to get the Holy Grail of Mascara Award and yes, I admit, I got suckered into checking it out for myself to see if it lived up to the hype. 

Unlike my husband who has such long and pretty eyelashes with a natural curl (so envious), my eyelashes are left wanting for lots of extra oomph. Lashes a plenty I sadly do not have. After feeling a little guilty I succumbed to dishing out the mula to test if either of these luxury mascaras could possibly satisfy my mega eyelash envy. (Seriously though, do you know jealous I feel living with a boy whose eyelashes touch his eyebrows and he doesn't even care! Gah!)

Monday, December 16, 2013

I'm Not a Feminist, But...

I woke up in a feisty mood this morning and decided to write about a topic that really grinds my gears. Recently, I’ve had a few conversations with people (men and women included) where they say, “I’m not a feminist, but…” and proceed to finish that sentence with some lame ass bullshit that pretty much equates to “I’m an ignorant person.”

Let me break it down for you -- you either believe in equality for men and women or you don’t. Simple as that. Here’s a flowchart to help illustrate this concept for those who are visual learners:

via The Huffington Post
Perhaps these people think the issues of sexism and inequality aren’t relevant topics anymore because they aren’t necessarily “in your face” for the typical young adult who is born and raised in an idealistic bubble. “It’s not something I’ve ever had to deal with personally, so I don’t really think it’s that big of a deal,” they say, minimizing the plight of women across the world with their apathy in one fell swoop.

You don’t think that a woman’s right to safety, education, fair earning potential, voting, freedom of mobility, and medical entitlement to her own body is a big deal? 

Are you afraid to be labelled as weak, radical, or anti-men? Afraid to ruffle a few feathers by acknowledging that a group of humans in today’s society, a group that includes your mom, sister, and grandmother, has been disenfranchised for thousands of years and is still discriminated against to this day? Yes, improvements have been made in most countries, particularly in Western cultures, but the playing field between men and women is most certainly not yet equal.

Go ahead and call me a bitch for standing up for my gender. But the next time you get in a car and drive somewhere without a chaperone, or take one of your birth control pills, or agree with a harsh sentence that is handed down to a rapist in court, I encourage you to think about women across the world who are denied the opportunities and security for which we don’t even give a second thought.

The next time you choose to denounce being a feminist I hope you take a second to realize what you’re really saying and the message you’re sending about your beliefs.

Linking up with This Flooded Sky and She is Fierce.

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Friday, December 13, 2013

What I'm Loving: 9 Outfits For Your Next Holiday Party

With Christmas only 12 days away (yay!), we're in the midst of holiday party season. If you're anything like me, obviously your biggest concern is what to wear. I've created a few looks below to give you some inspiration so whether you're partying with co-workers, family, or friends, I've got you covered! A little black dress is always a solid choice but here are some alternatives to throw in the mix too.

The key factors when deciding what to wear to holiday parties are the dress code of the event and who you'll be socializing with (we're going to ignore the fact that weather has any influence whatsoever on whether it's appropriate to wear dresses and heels). 

For work holiday parties, I suggest keeping relatively covered up but still having fun with fabrics and accessories. Here are three options you can try that'll have you looking stylish and sophisticated.

9 Holiday Party Looks
Click here to find out where to purchase these items

If you're getting together with family, comfort plays a bit more of a role in your outfit selection. Jumpsuits and maxi dresses are great options if you want to be able to get on the ground and play with the kiddies and they transition very nicely into adult attire for when you're up at the bar chatting with good ole Uncle Larry. Peplums are also a stylish way to hide your growing food baby when those appetizers are too delicious to pass on.
Cocktail party outfit inspiration
Click here to see where to purchase these items

When partying with friends, I always turn up the glam. Coincidentally. all three looks below incorporate sequins (clearly I have a weakness). A strapless sparkly blue number is a refreshing change from the usual holiday colours and pairs beautifully with icy silver accessories. Black and gold is super hot right now but adding in rose gold is an easy way to warm up your outfit and complexion. Lastly, these sequined harem pants from Nordstrom are too fun to pass up! Styled with a silky blouse, stunning earrings, and killer booties, you'll be sure to make heads turn. 

Sequins holiday looks party outfits
Click here to see where to purchase these items 

Have you picked out your holiday party outfits yet? Which pieces are you loving lately?

Linking today's post with Style Elixir.

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

My Little Black Dress

Classic Black Cocktail Dress

With a flirty ruffle neckline, forgiving shape, and just-above-the-knee length, this simple number hits all the right style notes to make it my perfect little black dress. You know that I love a good white dress (or two), but sometimes I'm just more comfortable in black.

I love that the straps are thick enough that I can wear a normal bra and the fabric is whatever the word for "opposite of clingy" is.... skimming perhaps? Anyway, that means I can eat an extra hor d'oeuvre or five without feeling like I've gotta suck it in, and if your friends cook as well as mine do, that's a very important factor when choosing a party dress ;) I added a wide belt to define my waistline and accessorized with bright pops of pink and purple to bring some colour to my outfit.

Holiday party season is in full swing and this LBD is my go-to dress when I want to feel sexy and comfortable. That being said, a girl doesn't need to have just one perfect cocktail dress, does she? Check back tomorrow for another style roundup of classic cocktail dresses perfect for the holiday season.

The little black dress / pink accents

H&M dress / Mix No. 6 neon captoe heels via DSW / The Bay cocktail ring / Purse from Cambodian artisan

Linking up with The Pleated Poppy & Get Your Pretty On 

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Making My Pre-Travel Checklist

Pre Trip Planning Tips

I am a list girl through and through. As lots of change is soon to happen in my life (moving in two weeks and beginning our four month adventure in four weeks), the only way for me to keep track of everything I need to take care of is by writing to do lists. Do I write them all in one spot, like in a daily journal or something? No, of course not,
duh. How logical would that be to keep all my lists in one central location so I could find them when I need them? 

But lucky for me (and maybe other soon-to-be travellers who are thinking of what they need to organize before taking off on a multi-month backpacking trip), I wrote this blog post to keep all of my to do items in check.

Here’s my pre-travel checklist for what you need to take care of before leaving your apartment, backpacking for a few months, then moving to a new country.

  • Organize itinerary
  • Research and purchase travel-related gear
  • Make lists of what I intend to pack (clothing, beauty/hygiene essentials, first aid kit) (clearly in that order)
  • Test-drive packing and walking with a backpack filled with these items
  • Make copies of important docs and register with the government as a Canadian abroad
  • Research visa requirements, costs, and restrictions
  • Book accommodations for first couple of nights
  • Buy travel insurance (World Nomads stood out for us as the best option)
  • Learn local language (this is obviously extreme but at least learn the basic phrases)
  • Research which vaccinations are recommended for area(s) of travel (here's what I got for backpacking through Central America)
  • Book travel medical consultation (need to relatively know your route for the appointment)
  • Buy 6+ month supple of contacts 
  • Get prescriptions written out and filled in advance
  • cancel bills and services, give notice on apartment
  • update mailing address
  • sort through which items to trash, donate, and store
  • oh yeah. pack up all our junk
Personal / Misc.
  • gather friends’ and family’s addresses so we can send postcards
  • order business cards
  • sort out bank accounts and where to keep our savings
  • finalize online storage and how i’m going to back up my photos/articles

Do you have any other suggestions for soon-to-be-travellers? If you think of anything that’s missing from this list, there’s a good chance I haven’t done it yet so please share in the comments below!

Linking up with Karly Kim / Glossy Blonde / A Compass Rose.

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Saturday, December 07, 2013

What I'm Wearing: At Home

If you were to see me working away at home, or perhaps if you stopped by mi casa for a mug of something warm on this wintery weekend, you'd likely find me with my hair thrown up in a bun wearing one of my husband's oversized shirts with leggings. My standard, go-to, "I'm chillin" outfit.

comfy leggings

We'd chat about what's going on in the world today, and I'd confess to only knowing a fraction of what I should about Nelson Mandela. He passed away on Thursday, the same night as the film about his life premiered, "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom". I'd like to see that over the holiday break. Melyssa posted a beautiful roundup of Mandela's most famous quotes, a very inspiring read if you have a couple minutes to spare. My favourite?
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Friday, December 06, 2013

Catching Up & November Links I Love

Last weekend life worked out in the way that it sometimes does where serendipitously everyone's schedules aligned at the last minute and before I knew it we were packed and on our way to Montreal. We want to take advantage of spending time with friends before we leave in a few weeks, so we hopped in the car for an impromptu trip to Montreal (normally about a 2 hour drive) to spend quality time with good friends of ours before beginning our travels to Central America

I put away (most) technology, totally turned off blogging, and enjoyed days filled with conversation, laughter, unhealthy-but-way-delicious food (please tell me you know what poutine is), and most importantly, great company. 

bundled up cold
All bundled up to explore the city. Once we realized it was -15 C degree weather (5F), we stopped only for food then went back inside
food quebec poutine
Poutine! Fries, cheese curds, and gravy for those who don't know this delicious French Canadian dish. Way better than it looks, I promise
The weather was beyond frigid and since I've already visited Montreal many times, I wasn't too concerned about touring different sites. These are pretty much all the photos I have because I was legit concerned about losing my fingers to frostbite when we were outdoors. What kind of Canadian am I anyway, you might be asking, but when the wind bites at your face and your eyes are tearing up from the windchill, it's no fun to be exploring around outside (especially without mitts). When I was back indoors though, it was so easy to get caught up in the moment and put my camera aside. While I love having pictures, I don't always enjoy taking pictures and being all up in everyone's faces, know what I mean?

Anyway, after an extended break it usually doesn’t take me too long to jump back into real life obligations but with this trip, enjoying the good old days in general, and thinking about packing up to move I've been truly awful at letting those emails pile up or putting blogging on the back burner. Thankfully today I'm back at it. I've learned that when I'm getting into the blogging grove, there are four things I need:

  1. quiet space where I can talk to myself (sometimes I need to read aloud, ok?) 
  2. bright lighting 
  3. soft music playing, usually something folky or acoustic (current faves include John Mayer and Gareth Bush) 
  4. no short time restrictions (like photography, I really enjoy writing when I can do it organically and not have to “pump it out” in 20 minutes. That’s what I used to do with papers in university so writing feels like work for me if I do it like that)

Today I figured why not start off by sharing a few links I love from November. I have article ideas bursting out of my brain and am so excited to sit quietly on this Friday morning and just write. Make sure to check back next week for new posts including some pretty cocktail dresses and my picks for travel makeup.

Now for November’s link love…

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