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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wearing my Heart on my Wrist & Michael Kors Cross-body Bag

Longines Watch Dolce Vita Mini Ladies Watch

I'd seen Alex and Ani bracelets featured in magazines and worn by my favourite Youtubers, so I was super-excited to have been sent the Bamboo Beaded Bangle and Claddagh Charm Bangle. These bracelets are infused with positive energy - both in the way they are produced, and in the symbols inscribed on them. The Claddagh charm represents love, loyalty & friendship, while the Bamboo invokes strength and protection. I love meaningful jewelry and will definitely be wearing these bangles a lot - especially the bamboo one!

Michael Kors Selma Mini Messenger bag Luggage

In other exciting news, I've been asked by Mapleview Centre to take over their instagram account and share my top back-to-school picks for Moms and Kids. My favorite finds were these 2 bags from Michael Kors - the Hamilton Traveler Cross-Body bag and the Selma Mini Messenger bag. They're the perfect size for school-run essentials (wallet, sunglasses, phone & keys). I'm especially loving the new shape and smooth Vitelo leather of the Hamilton Traveler - if I didn't already have my Pashli Mini, I'd be super-tempted to buy this instead!

Top: Garage (similar), Necklace: c/o PinkLoveBird (similar),  Hat: Target (similar), Jeans: GAP, Shoes: Target

I've been living in my GAP distressed boyfriend jeans this summer - they work well with all my favorites: lace, button downs, florals. I love how they add a bit of texture to simple outfits, although sometimes I wonder if I'm the wrong demographic to wear them - I've been "told off" by my parents AND my kids for wearing torn clothes!

LV Speedy 25
Top: H&M, Necklace: c/o PinkLoveBird (similar), Bag: LV Speedy 25, Jeans: GAP, Shoes: Target

Top:  F21, Necklace: c/o PinkLoveBird (similar), Bag: M&S (cute option), Jeans: GAP, Shoes: Sam Edelman

These Camo pants are also from the GAP, but I have a harder time figuring out what to pair them with, as I don't like them to look too casual.

Top:  c/o Skip N' Whistle (similar), Jacket: American Eagle, Bag: Marc Jacobs Single, Jeans: GAP (similar), Shoes: F21 (similar)

Have you heard of Alex and Ani bracelets? Do you love the MK Hamilton Traveler bag as much as I do? And do people think you're wearing torn clothes when you're JUST trying to make a fashion statement, LOL?

DISCLAIMER: The Alex and Ani bracelets were sent to me.

P.S. I've entered Smart Set's Denim Stylist contest - it would mean a LOT to me if you could click this link and vote for me :-) Extra incentive: each voter gets entered to win a $50 gift card from Smart Set!!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Blueberry Lemon Popsicles and Minty Lemonade

Earlier this summer, I received the cutest invite in the mail:

It was for a Minute Maid Cocktails & Creations Brunch - with demos of recipes featuring Minute Maid Lights (the lower calorie versions of Minute Maid's classic orange juice and lemonade).

Greek Yogurt, Blueberries and Lemonade recipe

My favorite creation was the Blueberry Lemon Popsicle -  a smooth and tangy combination of Greek Yogurt, Lemonade and Blueberries. I've been making these for dessert all summer - my whole family is addicted! (complete recipe at the end of this post)

Outfit details in this post. Photo Credit: Lena's magical iPhone!

It was also my first time trying a lemonade bar - who knew that adding lemons, limes, mint and raspberry to lemonade would transform it completely?

I loved how the mint infused the lemonade with freshness and gave it an edge - it's the perfect thirst-quenching concoction.

lemonade with mint, blueberry, lemons and limes

Here's are the pitchers I've been making at home for my family - we've even added in frozen blueberries for a fun variation.

Photo Credit: Environics PR

Of course the best part of the event was hanging out with my birth year triplets - the fabulous hostess Lena and my style-partner-in-crime Elaine. As you can see - we all got the 'wear floral' memo! Seriously though - these two ladies are amazing and I feel lucky to know them.

To see more pics of the brunch, check out Lena's post here. And now for the promised recipe:

Blueberry Lemon Pops (from the recipe by Nadine Hughes):

Blueberry Lemon Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup Minute Maid Light Lemonade
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch (mixed with 2 tablespoons water)
Heat water, lemonade and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. When the sugar is dissolved, add blueberries and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat back to medium and add cornstarch mixture. Stir until thickened (about 5 minutes) and then remove from heat and allow to cool.

Frozen Yogurt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups plain Greek Yogurt
 Make a sugar syrup by dissolving sugar into the water over medium heat. Once syrup is completely cool, fold it into the Greek Yogurt.

To Assemble:
Fill a popsicle mold 1/4th full with the Frozen Yogurt mixture, then add in an equal amount of the Blueberry Lemon Sauce. Alternate layers until mold is full, and freeze overnight.

Hope you love the popsicles as much as I do!

Linking up with More Pieces of Me and On the Daily Express.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Target Designer Dupes & Recent Outfits

I spent the long weekend with my sister - we got up to our usual activities: swimming, snacking...and late night Target runs (aren't they the best?)

watch / necklace / bag

I spotted a LOT of designer dupes at Target - firstly, this Merona Rose Gold Watch is IDENTICAL to my MK 5430 Michael Kors watch ...except it's under $20! The clover necklace (I couldn't find it online) is a copy of the Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra necklace (I picked up a similar necklace from Loblaws in 2012). I didn't get a chance to take a picture of the Mossimo Scrunch Ballet flats - but they feel super luxe - and look just like Lanvin Ballerinas. I don't think that the Merona Sequin Tote is a dupe for anything, I've just wanted it forever - I should TOTALLY grab it now that it's on clearance!

Now on to some recent outfits:

Top: Zara (identical), Necklace: J.Crew, Bag: Pashli, Shoes: Sam Edelman

This ZARA floral peplum is my favorite top of the summer. The print is so cheerful - and the flare doesn't make me look too hip-py - finally, a peplum I can wear!

Top: Garage (similar), Necklace: H&M (similar), Bag: LV Speedy 25, Jeans: GAP (similar), Shoes: Sam Edelman

Pairing my camo leggings with a crocheted lace top.

Top: H&M (similar), Necklace: F21 (similar), Bag: Minkoff, Jeans: GAP, Shoes: Sam Edelman

Graphic shirt and distressed boyfriend jeans.

Top: H&M, Necklace: Friend's store, Bag: Pashli, Shoes: Target

Oversized button-down and white jeans.

Jacket: Walmart (similar), Necklace: F21, Bag: M&S (similar), Jeans: GAP, Shoes: Old Navy (similar)

Backpacks are quite popular again - so I took this 12 year old (!!!) bag out of storage. I bought it from Marks & Spencers when I used to work in London - the faux leather has held up amazingly well despite being squished away in a box!

Are you loving the backpack trend this time around? Have you found any Designer Dupes recently?

Linking up with More Pieces of Me and On the Daily Express.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Pretty in Pink Picks from Forever21 and Almay

Pink Birkenstock Madrid Cashmere Rose Flat Sandals
Shirt: Forever21, Necklace: Forever21, Jeans: Garage, Shoes: Birkenstock, Bag: Pashli

I've become embarrassingly obsessed with Forever21 recently - they have so many pretty (and ridiculously cheap) pieces! I've never outgrown my love for pink so I had to order this Deep V-draped Blouse.

Sam Edelman Rose Gold Gigi Sandals
Shirt: Forever21, Necklace: Forever21, Jeans: Garage, Shoes: Sam Edelman

...And this corally-pink Satin Floral Top. Not only is it under $20 - it's completely wash and wear - no need to steam or iron, just drip-dry and it's as good as new!

Stella & Dot On the Mark necklace dupe

All the necklaces I'm wearing above are from Forever21 too...and they all remind me of other popular styles! The Heirloom Tassel necklace is reminiscent of the Kendra Scott Rayne (which is still on my wishlist!), the Sparkle Feather pendant is slightly similar to the Jennifer Meyer Leaf pendant, and the Shot to the Heart pendant is like the Stella & Dot On The Mark necklace. Do you guys see the resemblances?

Almay Smart Shade Pink Blush Swatch

My last pink picks are from Almay. I was recently sent some of their Smart Shade makeup to review. In this FOTD I'm wearing their concealer, lip balm and blush:
  • Smart Shade CC Concealer & Brightener - it was easy to get a perfect match for my under-eye skintone by mixing the pinkish brightener and the nude corrector. This medium coverage formula is slightly too creamy for my skin, as it creased and settled into my fine lines. It would probably perform better if I were to set it in place with a powder.
  • Color + Care Liquid Lip Balm in Lilac Love - this is my second tube of Almay lip balm, and I love how this formula always leaves my lips pouty and hydrated. The lilac color is such a pretty shade, the initial pigmentation lasts for an hour before it loses intensity and leaves behind a sheer glossy finish.
  • Smart Shade Powder Blush in Pink - this blush is a must-have. The 3 pink shades swirl together to create a perfectly blended finish - the wash of colour is sheer but definitely noticeable AND long-lasting. It incorporates ready made highlighters that leave your skin looking flushed and glowing...it's the ultimate "I woke up like this" blush!
What's your favorite blush? Have you tried Almay makeup?

P.S. Thanks to everyone who entered my Coolibar giveaway - the winner is Kristin Williams (@kpatchy) - please check your inbox!

DISCLAIMER: I purchased the Forever21 items myself. The Almay makeup was sent to me for review. All opinions are 100% my own. 

Linking up with More Pieces of Me and On the Daily Express.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Five Steps to Recreate a Salon Pedicure at Home!

How to do a pedicure

I don't often go for a pedicure at a salon, but when I do, I always take notes. I like being able to recreate a salon pedicure at home - enjoying a pampering experience while using things I already own. Here are the five steps I take:

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

1) SOAK:
Remove any existing polish. Fill a shallow tub with Epsom Salt, scented body wash and warm water. Soak your feet in the tub and flip through a magazine while the warm water softens your skin.

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

Rest one foot on the edge of the tub and apply cuticle remover to each toe. Massage it in and scrape the cuticle pusher along the base of your toe nails to remove any loose dead skin. Place foot back in water and repeat on the other foot.

Take your time and massage a creamy scrub onto each foot. Use circular movements to soften dry patches, covering all areas from your ankles to the soles of your feet. Dip your feet back in the tub to rinse them, and use a pumice stone or foot file on any calloused areas. (At some salons, they repeat the cuticle work after this step - do this if you have a hard time getting your cuticles in shape.)

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

Rinse feet under running water and rest them on a towel to dry. Cut toenails and file them to desired shape (I cut them short and file them straight across the top.) Apply a rich moisturizer all over your feet, you can add a coat of Vaseline over the moisturizer to seal in the softness.

Place a toe separator on each foot. Go over nails with nail polish remover to clear off any oily residue. Apply a base coat and let it dry (this Orly one is my fave!) Dip brush in colour, carefully wiping off excess polish on the sides of the bottle. Press the colour on to the nail, leaving an adequate distance from the cuticle so that it doesn't get flooded with polish. If you get the first coat placed properly, it will be easy to apply the next two coats in the right place. Use a brush dipped in remover (or your fingernail) to clean up any mistakes. Apply a top coat - I like using Seche Vite because it blends away any streakiness and leaves a gel-like finish.


Do you like doing pedicures at home or do you prefer going to the salon?

How to give yourself a pedicure

Saturday, July 12, 2014

There's No Shame in my Sun Game....

Coolibar Ruche Jacket, Tropicana Sun Hat, Gloves

Over the years, I've become more committed to protecting my skin from the sun. After years of beauty blogging and reading about the aging effects of sun damage, I've realized that sunscreen is not sufficient to truly shield my skin from the sun...I need physical protection too!

These days I have no shame in wearing a large hat while outdoors. Yes, I felt self-conscious the first time - just like I felt conspicuous the first time I wore red lipstick. But I realized that it only looks odd if you feel uncomfortable - nobody else really cares, and now, it's become second nature.

I've heard that the face, neck and hands are the first places to show signs of aging, so I wanted to figure out a way to physically protect them from the sun. I remembered reading about Coolibar and their range of sun protective clothing on The Skiny, so I reached out to the company and asked if they were interested in working with me on a "Sun Kit" - an easy and stylish way to transition any summer outfit for a day in the sun.

Coolibar uses UPF50 SUNTECT fabric to create sun protection clothing that block 98% of UVA and UVB rays. Their name comes from Eucalyptus Coolabah, an Australian tree that provides shade and protection from the sun. I picked 3 Coolibar items to create my instant Sun Kit: the Ruche Water Jacket, Tropicana Sun Hat & Fingerless Gloves.

Before & After: Ready for the sun

The jacket is such a pretty shade of pink. It looks like a yoga jacket and can be worn casually with jeans or even over a swimsuit at the beach (it's saltwater and chlorine resistant). The sunhat has a generous 4-inch brim and tightly woven straw fabric to effectively shield my face. I love the structured brim - floppy sun hats that block visibility are one of my pet peeves! It comes with a removable black sash - I threaded in a pink ponytail scarf to make it more me. The gloves are perfect for any long days out driving, hiking or at the beach. It's so important to protect your hands from the sun...when it's extra hot out, I can feel my skin getting shriveled up!

Tropicana Sun Hat Giveaway:

Get a head start on your Sun Kit! Coolibar has generously offered a Tropicana Sun Hat ($49.50) for one Ella Pretty Blog follower (US & Canada only). Please use the rafflecopter form below to enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Find Coolibar here: Website / Twitter / Facebook.  
Click here to learn more about why you should wear sun protection clothing

How do you protect your skin from the sun?

DISCLAIMER: The sun kit items were provided by Coolibar - but I initiated contact because I truly believe in the effectiveness of their products.

Linking up with More Pieces of Me and On the Daily Express.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

ZARA Sale, Express Midi Skirts & Recent Outfits

Have you guys checked out the ZARA sale? I stopped by this weekend and found the cutest peplum blouse (similar) - the print is so pretty and I adore the green colour - I plan on wearing this on my birthday.

Express sequin midi skirt
peplum (similar) / jacket / sequin skirt / floral skirt

I also loved the frayed green tweed jacket - but they were sold out of my size. I like longer skirts so I stopped by Express to try on their pencil midi skirts. I'm obsessed with the sequin skirt - it's perfect for parties. The floral skirt is very pretty too - I'm just waiting for a sale and I'll definitely be buying them.

Now on to some recent outfits - here's what I wore on Canada Day - my whole family wore themed shirts to celebrate our love for Canada!

Shirt: Old Navy, Necklace: H&M (similar), Sandals: Aeropostale (similar), Bag: LV Speedy 25

Chevron Maxi Dress:

Dress: GAP 4-in-1 dress, Jacket: American Eagle, Sandals: Sam Edelman Gigi, Bag: Minkoff, Necklace: F21 (similar)

Pink Button Down:

Shirt: H&M, Necklace: JoeFresh (similar), Jeans: GAP, Sandals: Sam Edelman Gigi

By the way  - I've received a lot of emails asking about the Forever 21 shirt I'm wearing in the second picture here - and it's finally back in stock in case you were looking to buy one!

Have you shopped the ZARA sale? Did you dress up for Canada Day and/or the 4th of July?

Linking up with More Pieces of Me and On the Daily Express.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Blue Suede Shoes & $20 Maxi Dress Love!

Dupe for J.Crew Everly Pumps

These suede heels from Old Navy are my new favorite shoe. I bought the hot pink pair first - and after wearing it to a blog event with no stumbling or discomfort, I knew I needed the blue pair too. They remind me of the J.Crew Everly Suede pumps, but at a tenth of the price!

Shirt: Old Navy, Skirt: J.Crew Factory (similar), Clutch: LOFT, Shoes: Old Navy, Necklace: Forever21 (Photo Credit: Elaine)

I love how the bright heels add a pop of colour to my outfit - and with ON sale prices - you can't go wrong (I got mine for $24-$29). I've always found Old Navy shoes to be super comfortable - and these pumps are no exception. To see how versatile bright shoes are, check out how Noelle styles her J.Crew cobalt heels. By the way, if you love chambray shirts as much as I do - check out the sales racks in store - I've seen the Pin-dot Chambray Shirt I'm wearing above marked down to $9!

Dress: Old Navy, Cardigan: GAP, Bag: Minkoff, Necklace: H&M (want this version so badly!)

Another recent Old Navy find is this floral maxi dress that I picked up during their $20 dress sale. The blue and white print is so fresh for summer - and would look great with either cognac or gold accessories. Another bonus is that this dress is made of rayon rather than jersey - so it will not fade or pill with washing.

Have you found any great summer deals recently?

Thank you to everyone who entered my LOFT contest - here are the winners:

Giftcard: Fiona Man
Clutch: Kate McLean

I'll be sending you an email shortly! And to everyone who didn't win - stay tuned for another exciting giveaway in the next couple of weeks :-)

Linking up with More Pieces of Me and On the Daily Express.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Nude Lips, Manga Lashes and More...

I've been trying a lot of exciting make-up products recently - so I thought it was a good time to share some mini-reviews.  Stay tuned for lots of swatches!

L'Oreal Paris Collection Exclusive Nudes (launched June 2014)

Following the popularity of L'Oreal Paris' Collection Privee, L'Oreal Paris has released this lipstick and nailpolish collection featuring nude shades inspired by 6 of their spokesmodels.

Nude Lipsticks ($10.99) - True to their nudes name, these colours are all very natural and easy to wear. The shades closest to my own lip colour are Eva and Jennifer's - they're both beautiful brownish pinks. Frieda and Doutzen's are a bit pale and milky on my lips, while Liya's coppery brown is very pigmented. My favourite is Julianne's peachy pink - it doesn't look like I'm wearing lipstick, it just makes my lips look like they're a soft pink colour.

Nude Couture Swatches Frieda, Jennifer, Doutzen, Eva, Julianne, Liya

Nude Nailpolishes ($6.99) - Liya's purpley grey polish reminds me of the type of colour I like to wear in the fall. Although I love Julianne's lipstick, I'm not a huge fan of how her terracota-coloured polish looks against my skintone. Eva's shimmery champagne polish has tiny flecks of gold, which is so pretty. But my favourite of these 4 polishes is Doutzen's dusty pink shade - it's such a dainty colour.

The Body Shop Lipstick and Arbonne Mascara

The Body Shop Colour Crush Lipstick Review

Arbonne It's A Long Story Mascara ($40) - You can tell that this is a luxe product because it provides perfect results from the very first use. The super-bendy brush head makes it easy to get close to your lash line, while the no-clump formula makes each lash look long and volumized. It's also really good at keeping your curl locked in all day. I do have to note that this mascara is quite pricey...my usual mascara budget is around $12 a tube!

The Body Shop Colour Crush Shine Lipstick ($13) in #18 Sunset Romance - I'd forgotten how much I loved lipsticks from the Body Shop - they're all I used during my University years! The Colour Crush Shine Lipsticks provide a sheer tint of glossy colour combined with a light and moisturizing formula. And bonus..they smell like roses!  My shade is #18, a fresh and pretty coral colour. It's the perfect product to keep in your bag, as it provides a noticeable wash of colour - but you don't need a mirror to apply it! 

L'Oreal Miss Manga by Voluminous

The latest addition to the L'Oreal Voluminous range is the adorable miss manga mascara ($10.99). The collagen-infused formula aims to create doll-like top AND bottom lashes. The range carries black and brown shades, and has 3 limited edition colours (purple, turquoise and electric blue) available in August 2014.

L'Oreal Paris Canada miss manga Voluminous Mascara Purple Swatch

I don't usually wear a lot of colourful eye makeup, so it was fun to try the purple mascara. The formula is dry, which resulted in thick, feathery lashes (my favorite look!) and reminded me of another Voluminous formula that I love: the Power 24H Black Smoke reviewed here. The brush is very flexible and gradually deposits the mascara so that you can work up to the intensity you want - I applied 3 coats in this picture. The purple colour is surprisingly wearable - it's definitely noticeable in direct sunlight, but would probably be undetectable under indoor lighting.

Have you tried any of these products? Which one is your favourite?

DISCLAIMER: These products were sent to me for review but all opinions are 100% my own.  

Linking up with More Pieces of Me and On the Daily Express.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Prettiest Pink: LOFT Striped Maxi Dress + $100 LOFT Giftcard & Clutch Giveaway!

For the third and final item in our #LovePrettyXLOFT collaboration with LOFT, we chose the Striped Keyhole Maxi Dress.

Maxi Dress with Denim Jacket
jacket / LOFT Striped Keyhole Maxi Dress / bag / sandals / necklace (similar)

Elaine and I loved it from the moment we spotted it - the rosy stripes were so pretty, and the elegant style made it perfect for everything from evening parties to a day wandering through the city!

I paired my dress with a denim jacket, cross-body clutch and metallic sandals (the perfect outfit for a family holiday!) while Elaine got summer-wedding-ready with dangly gold earrings, salon styled hair and a bright pink clutch. Click here to see her outfit post!

Casually Styled Maxi Dress

We've loved collaborating with LOFT on these posts - their clothes are so beautiful and well-made - they work perfectly with my casual outfits AND Elaine's dressy style! We're super-excited to announce a special giveaway for our readers....we're EACH giving away a $100 LOFT giftcard AND a summer clutch to our Canadian readers! Enter my contest below and then double your chances of winning by clicking over to Elaine's blog and entering her contest too!

PLEASE NOTE: The giftcard is for LOFT Canada - so the contest is only open to Canadian residents.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Which is your favourite piece from #LovePrettyXLOFT? The necklace, shirt or dress?

Photo Credit: Elaine

Linking up with More Pieces of Me and On the Daily Express.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Catching up & Hair-mergency!

Life has been so busy - I feel like I have so much to catch up on! I haven't had the chance to share some of my recent Yummy Mummy posts:

Like this one on how to dress like Kate Middleton - without the designer price tag!

Kate Middleton Look For Less
1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

And this one about our first visit to the American Girl Doll store. I'll be giving an American Girl Doll away to one lucky Canadian reader - be sure to enter my contest!

And finally this post with my Beach Day staples!

J.Crew Factory Cover Up
hat / sunglasses / swimsuit / sandals / bag / cover-up (similar)

Three recent outfits: I've continued to wear a lot of prints from Forever21:

Sunglasses: F21, Necklace: Wantable, Shirt: F21, Sandals: Target (similar), Bag: Pashli

This outfit is head-to-toe Forever21!

Shirt / Necklace (similar) / Leggings / Sandals (similar) / Pashli

Today's outfit was all denim:

Necklace: H&M (similar), Shirt & Jeans: Garage, Flats: Old Navy (similar & super-cute), Bag: Pashli

And now on to my hair-mergency story...I went to get my hair coloured today, but instead of my usual highlights, I ended up with a chunky ombre! I left the salon unhappy, resigned to letting the colour grow out. But then I thought...I spent a lot of money on my hair, I shouldn't leave feeling this unhappy. So I went back and spoke to the manager. She called in the colourist and we were able to pinpoint exactly what needed to be done to fix my hair (toning down the blonde and adding in partial highlights).

I'm so glad I spoke up instead of feeling embarrassed - the manager and stylist were both so sweet and helpful, and this time I left the salon with EXACTLY what I wanted !

Bleached Out Ombre / Happy Highlights

Have you had a hair-mergency & how did you fix it?

Linking up with More Pieces of Me and On the Daily Express.


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