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Friday, October 29, 2010

Sydney Evan Necklace and Outfit Planning for My Trip....

I've been waiting impatiently for my Sydney Evan necklace to arrive - I'm so glad it's finally here! I love delicate jewelry, and Sydney Evan makes beautiful shimmering pieces. Some of her popular creations include evil eye pendants, hamsa charms, and love rings/pendants. I've been admiring her disc necklace for a while - it's a modern design with a classic shape. When I found out that there was a rose gold version - there was no turning back - it had to be mine! Hubby got it for me as a late anniversary gift (our anniversary was a couple of months back - but there was nothing I wanted at the time - shocking, huh?) 
It feels so light around my neck - which is good, because I don't plan on taking it off! I love the look of rose gold (it's even featured on my engagement ring) - I find the copper finish subtly complements my skin tone.

I picked up another rose-hued item this week: a draped top from H&M. I wish I had a better place to take outfit photos - as I can never capture the true colour of my clothing - in this picture, my top looks nude-ish brown - but in person, it's much more rosy.
My current fall jacket is 6 years old (and looking quite worn out), so I picked up this black canvas Old Navy trench coat as a replacement - with their amazing outerwear sale, it only cost around $30!
Even though we have a week to go before our trip, I've already been putting aside clothes for my trip. Planning in advance is always good - and I still have to pack for the rest of my family! I'm mainly taking sweaters, skinny jeans and boots - but there is a slight chance I'll have to go to some work dinners with hubby. I didn't want to waste precious packing space with too many outfits - so for "dressy clothes" I'm only bringing one pair of dress shoes, 1 pair of dress pants,1 black dress and a couple of light tops and accessories:
H&M tops (the cream and black ones are more than 5 years old), Forever 21 necklace, JCrew belt, Nine West shoes
I don't usually wear tights with dresses, but I was inspired by a recent JACOB ad - and thought it would be a versatile winter look. It also meant that I could shop my closet, rather than having to go out and buy something new.
Lauren by Ralph Lauren dress, JCrew belt, Forever21 necklace, Nine West shoes
It feels good to have most of my clothes packed - but I still have so much to do before I go!!! 

Are you planning any trips soon? What type of jewelry do you like? I'd love to read about it in the comments!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ella in England....suggestions please!

Next month we'll be off to London for 3 weeks. We've got quite the history with London - Hubby was born and brought up there and I lived there from 2000-2008. We enjoyed being in England when it was just the two of us, but once we started our own family, we chose to relocate to Canada (and we LOVE it here!). Still - I have a very special place in my heart for London - so I'm very excited for this opportunity to visit!
View of the Cotswolds from our Hotel room (taken in 2005)
We've previously lived in the Gloucester Road and Canary Wharf neighbourhoods - but since Hubby is going for a work visit, we'll be staying in Corporate apartments near the City. I'm looking forward to hanging out with my old friends, revisiting my favourite restaurants, shopping (!!!!) but mostly: sharing my favourite parts of England with my kiddies. I want to make the most of our visit - I've started making lists and planning already - here's what I have so far:

MUST VISIT CLOTHES SHOPPING:
-Primark
-New Look
-Miss Selfridges
-River Island
-Dune (for shoes)
-Accessorise (for jewelry)

MUST BUY MAKE-UP:
-Barry M eye shadow pigments (especially shade 38)
-MeMeMe blush in Coral
-Barry M nailpolishes

MUST VISIT SIGHTS:
-Thomas the Tank Engine theme park
-The Museum of Childhood
-V&A Museum
-The Cotswolds

 MUST EAT RESTAURANTS:
-Tas Firin (Turkish)
-Al-Dar (Lebanese)

This is where I need help - please suggest some must-sees and must-buys for my visit! Looking forward to more input.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What's for Dinner, Derm Update and Cream Blush love!

Lots of random bits to today's post! I'll start with some dinner dishes from this past week. I made one of my favourite pasta dishes recently - the Barefoot Contessa's Linguine with Shrimp Scampi. My version substituted Zucchini pasta for linguine:
Hubby's serving followed the recipe exactly (except I used dried parsley instead of fresh). Both the dishes turned out really yummy - although hubby's one was more filling and satisfying. Still, I'm happy with my compromise - I'd say that my dish had 75% of the taste, with 0% of the guilt!
We also had Chicken curry with Daal (red lentil soup) one night. It's a very comforting combination - especially on a cold day. I had mine with some brown rice and a lot of salad.

Now  for a quick skin update - I went to see the dermatologist today, and he prescribed a combination of oral and topical antibiotics for my skin: Minocycline and Clindamycin Phosphate. He also told me not to use any moisturiser...(this will be a hard habit for me to break - especially during fall/winter! I may have to look into oil-free moisturisers if my skin gets too dry and flaky.) To be honest - I'd have preferred a natural/non-medicated approach to cleaning up my acne - but I'm willing to give this antibiotic approach a try. Part of me wonders if this is worth it - my acne is mild/moderate and not really noticeable when covered with mineral make-up...I hope I don't make the problem worse! I have another appointment in 2 months to evaluate my progress.

Now back to the fun stuff - make up! NYC Blushable Creme Sticks have been popular with beauty bloggers/youtubers for quite a while now - and I can see why! I picked up Plaza Pink for myself and Mauvin Uptown for my mom....and after trying my creme stick on today - I'm in LOVE!
L-R: NYC Blushable Creme Stick in Plaza Pink and Mauvin Uptown, ELF All Over Color Stick in Pink Lemonade, Covergirl Ageless Blush in Lush Berry
I adore cream blushes because they provide a more radiant and glowing finish than powder blushes. In the picture above I've shown the 3 brands I've tried: NYC, ELF and Covergirl. Don't waste your money on the ELF one - it has too much shimmer and hardly any pigment. I really like the formulation of the Covergirl one - and highly recommend it. The NYC is a bargain at $3.99 - and the packaging is lighter and easier to use than the CG one. I use a MAC 129 brush to apply cream blush as it provides a diffused and airbrushed application. Unfortunately, my 129 sheds a LOT - but it's easy to clean up stray brush hairs from the NYC stick since the surface area is so small.
L-R: Blushable Crem Stick in Plaza Pink, ELF All Over Color Stick in Pink Lemonade, Covergirl Ageless Blush in Lush Berry
Here are concentrated swatches of the cream blushes. They look much better when blended out (except for the ELF one!). On my NC35 skin, the Plaza Pink blends out to a non-shimmery peach shade. I've had it on for 6 hours - and the colour is still going strong....I have to stop myself from gazing at my cheeks in the mirror - this is seriously my best make up purchase in a LONG while....you have to try it!


Have you ever taken antibiotics for acne? Do you like cream blushes?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fall Shopping

I did some fall shopping this weekend. First on my list was skinny jeans - when the weather turns cold, there is nothing more comfortable than skinny jeans worn with warm boots. I took advantage of the Old Navy 16th anniversary sale, and picked up some skinny jeans for $16. However, after trying them on at home, I realised I liked the fit of Garage jeans better - so I returned the ON jeans and picked up some Garage ones instead.

In this picture I'm wearing Garage Dark jeggings, Garage flannel shirt (I loved the ruby colour - and it's so soft and warm) with Nine West boots.
I also picked up grey skinny jeans from Garage (Their denim sale has 50% off your second pair of jeans). I found the black v-neck sweater at Smart Set. It is soft and silky, and was on offer for $14.99. My boots are Payless faux Uggs from last year.

My last purchase was a charcoal grey sweater from Suzy Shier. It is a good basic - and has cute little pockets near the waist - but they didn't show up in my pic. I'm not too happy with this store though - they have a BAD return policy - which they didn't mention when I made my purchase. Apparently - they only offer store credit - NO refunds! I actually purchased 3 items from them (because I like to try them on at home with my own clothes to see if they work with my wardrobe) so I asked the sales associate what their return policy was - and she said 14 days. If she had said they don't offer refunds, I would not have purchased all 3 items! Now I have around $40 of store credit -grrr! I'm sure I'll find a use for them, as they have some quality staples at the store - but a lot of their stuff is quite tacky and cheap-looking!
I still have a couple more items to buy - I need a light fall coat and 2 evening-appropriate tops. My Balenciaga savings fund is quite pathetic at the moment - so far I've only saved $7! Still....I'll get there eventually!

In skin care news - I'm excited because I have a dermatologist appointment this week. Apparently my dermatologist is booked up until January - but luckily the receptionist found an early spot for me! I believe my acne is hormonal - and although I've tried a lot of different treatments for my skin - I still have a moderate acne problem - so I hope that the dermatologist will have an effective solution for me. I'll update here after my appointment.

What clothing items are on your fall shopping list?

Friday, October 15, 2010

My Favourite Magazine (lots of scanned pics)

In my teens I was OBSESSED with fashion magazines - nothing would make me happier than poring over Mademoiselle, Seventeen and Vogue. In my twenties I lived in the UK, and enjoyed reading Heat, New Woman and Grazia. Currently, I'm not as enamoured of fashion/beauty magazines as I used to be - they  seem to be the same content regurgitated every 3-4 months. In terms of fashion advice - I prefer practical and concrete examples, rather than editorial spreads with outfits that ONLY look good in certain poses and lighting conditions.

That is why I LOVE People StyleWatch magazine - it provides me with usable inspiration. It has candid pictures of celebs in the clothes they wear in their daily life. Of course in many cases the stars are perfectly styled and had their publicists call the paparazzi. But it doesn't take away from the fact that they are walking around in these clothes and looking good - which is more relatable for me than heavily airbrushed fashion spreads.

I've scanned some images from the August and September issues to share the looks that I'm currently loving. I didn't want to scan from the October issue as it is currently on newsstands.

Love the multi-tone browns on Kate Moss - from her matching tan bags and boots to her camel scarf and tweed jacket. Her top is a beautiful soft pink - which is not really showing up in this scan.
People StyleWatch September 2010
Eva does a tonal combination of greys accented by black shoes and jacket - and a gorgeous navy Hermes Birkin. Lush scarves and luxe bags are a great combo!
People StyleWatch August 2010
Jessica Alba also models a multi-tone brown look. I think this outfit is very wearable - love the cardigan and Jessica's bright lipstick.
People StyleWatch September 2010
Rachel Bilson's Army Green jacket is lovely. I need a light fall coat - and have been tempted by this Army Green one at Old Navy.
People StyleWatch August 2010
I've never watched a Kardashian show - but I adore EVERYTHING about Kourtney's outfit. From her long-layered hair, to her slouchy sweater and jeans combo to her GORGEOUS Balenciaga bag...this is my favourite look from this selection.
People StyleWatch August 2010

I love Jessica's shawl sweater paired with the lighter grey t-shirt and skinny jeans. But I don't like her shoes AT ALL.
People StyleWatch September 2010
Not really a fall look - but a picture that shows off everything I admire about Jennifer Aniston's style. Her clothes are simple but fit her perfectly. She has great posture and perfectly styled hair with subtle but glossy make-up. A lot of people find her style boring - but I think it's classic.
People StyleWatch September 2010
Which magazines do you enjoy reading? I also subscribe to Style at Home (a decor magazine) and LouLou (a Canadian fashion magazine). Are you inspired by celeb fashion?

DISCLAIMER: I pay for my PEOPLE StyleWatch subscription - and am not being paid to write about it!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Giving myself an allowance

I'm in charge of the bank accounts and finances in our household. I am not an excessive spender by any means - we live firmly within our budget and also save money for our family's future. However, despite being responsible -  I've noticed that some of my spending behaviour is not rational. In particular - I feel guilty about buying expensive items. For example, I might *love* a $100 bracelet, but I'll think it's too much for me to spend. Then I'll go out shopping and buy four $25 bracelets that are mediocre. In the end - I'll have spent $100 anyway, but ended up with 4 "okay" items rather than 1 stunning item.

Source: Google Images
This is why I've decided to give myself an allowance. By allotting myself a fixed amount to spend each week, it will force me to re-think the small items that I buy, and help me save for what I really want. When I do treat myself to an expensive item, I won't let myself feel guilty about it, because I've saved up for it. Hopefully this will result in less "mindless-shopping-when-I'm-bored" and more gorgeous designer bags.

Source: Balenciaga.com
Another benefit of an allowance is that it will provide a check to my spending. Although I'm conservative and debt-averse by nature, I know that it is easy to go overboard when shopping for luxury items. After a while, you could get desensitised to prices and think "I must have this...and this...and this" and before you know it you've squandered away a small fortune!

I'm thinking of budgeting $100 a week. Any spending on clothes, beauty items and salon treatments will be deducted from this amount. The leftover money will be saved and used towards wish list items. I'm also giving myself a $20 bonus for any home-cooked weekend dinners. I cook every weeknight dinner, but we're usually so busy on the weekends that we grab take-out for dinner. If I can find the time and energy to cook on the weekends - I've saved us at least $20, so I think it's fair to keep it. (I don't know how often I'll take advantage of this bonus though - takeout can be such a lifesaver!) I will allow myself extra spending during holidays. We don't go away that often - but when we do, I want to take advantage of the opportunity to get items that aren't available locally.

Hope my savings plan works! Do you have any wish list items at the moment - how do you plan on saving for them?

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