Saturday, January 30, 2016

Florida Trip & Shopping Haul PLUS $100 Prepaid Giftcard Giveaway

This sequin striped shirt and ornate statement necklace combo is one of my favorite purchases from our recent Florida trip.

J. Crew Confetti Sequin Striped Shirt, Express distressed jeans, Hunter Original Gloss Boots, Speedy 25 Damier Ebene Blogger Outfit
Shirt (similar) / Necklace (similar) / Jeans / Boots / Bag

We stayed a week in Orlando, and spent most of our days visiting Universal Studios - especially the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. My kids adore the Harry Potter books and movies almost as much as I do - so it was the perfect time to immerse ourselves in Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley!

Hogsmeade Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Floral Pants, Red Minkoff Love Crossbody Clutch Mini Blogger Outfit
Shirt / Pants / Bag / Shoes

On our non-theme park days, we relaxed by the pool at our hotel - enjoying the sunny weather and drinking lots of lemonade.

LOFT striped maxi dress, LL Bean Monogram Tote Blogger Outfit
Dress (old from LOFT, similar style ) / Bag

I love that the outlets and malls are open super late in Orlando - I managed to fit in some post-dinner shopping. Here's what I picked up:
-Target - Pixi Glow Tonic (so many beauty bloggers rave about this!) and Assets (made by the same company as Spanx, but cheaper AND better quality)
- Outlets - Michael Kors Gold Coin Purse, Victoria Secret Robe (marked down to $25 from $50!), J.Crew Factory Shirt ($17) and Necklace ($23).
-Mall - Kate Spade Glitter Bug Cardholder (on sale for $25)

Kate Spade Glitter Bug Card Holder, Michael Kors Gold Card Holder

While shopping, I kept thinking about the high exchange rate - the sales and bargains didn't seem that amazing once I converted it back into Canadian dollars. I didn't want to shop too much and and up with an unexpectedly astronomical credit card bill when I returned home!

One way to stay within your budget while shopping on holiday is to use a prepaid card. They work like traditional credit and debit cards (they can be used anywhere the card network i.e. American Express, MasterCard and Visa is accepted PLUS offer fraud and loss protection). You load your budgeted funds on the card before you travel, and you can use it for all your purchases. It's a great compromise between carrying a large amount of cash with you (which is inconvenient and unsafe) and using your regular credit card (where you may over spend your budget without realizing it, and incur overdraft and interest fees). Want to learn more? Visit the Canadian Prepaid Providers Organization (CPPO).

GIVEAWAY:

If you're in the mood for a shopping haul of your own - you're in luck! I'm giving away a $100 Open Loop Prepaid Giftcard to one of my Canadian followers. You can use this card to shop ANYWHERE you'd use a credit/debit card - online, in store - the choice is yours!

HOW TO ENTER:  You must complete all THREE steps!

1) Follow me on instagram and comment "I follow" under this picture.
2) Come back here and retweet this message
3) Leave a comment BELOW with your instagram AND twitter usernames

Contest is open until  February 15, 2016 - Good luck!

UPDATE: Winner is @foreverangel26


Disclaimer: I received an Open Loop Prepaid Giftcard and one to give away to my followers.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Two Nights in Toronto

One of my New Year's resolutions was to go on more date nights. So when Expedia.ca asked me if I was interested in a Toronto Staycation - it turned out to be the perfect opportunity for a lovely weekend with hubby!

Red Buffalo Plaid Coat White Pom Pom Beanie Hat Blogger Outfit
hat / coat / sweater (similar) / boots / bag (large)

After dropping the kids off at my parents on Friday night, we drove to the Delta Toronto Hotel. We're frequently in the downtown area - either for work or errands, but this time we were here as tourists - and looked forward to exploring new places.
 Breakfast Room View from 35th Floor of Delta Toronto

On Saturday morning, we began the day with breakfast in bed (the perfect start to ANY staycation)! Our room was on the 35th floor and we enjoyed our view of the Toronto Harbourfront.

Where to Eat at the St Lawrence Market Toronto

We layered up in warm clothes and walked over to the St Lawrence Market. The St Lawrence Market has been around since the 19th century and used to be a social hub- with cattle auctions, farmers' markets, government offices and even a jail! It still houses food stalls and restaurants - and was recently voted one of the world's best food markets by National Geographic.

Where to Eat at the St Lawrence Market Toronto Busters Cove Fried Smelt

What to Eat at St Lawrence Market: With so many choices - it was hard to choose a place for lunch - so I turned to my Instagram friends for recommendations. The most popular dishes include Portuguese Chicken from Churrasco, Veal Parmigiano from Mustachio, and Peameal Sandwiches from Carousel Bakery. We opted for seafood at Buster's Sea Cove - I ordered the Fried Smelt and Chips while hubby had the Halibut Sandwich. Everything was so fresh and tasty - we'll definitely be going back!

Toronto Tourist Attraction Distillery District Christmas Tree

After our lunch, we walked over to another historic site - the Distillery District. It was built in the 1830s and contained a milling business and whiskey distillery. While the distillery closed in the 1990s, the location was later restored and transformed into a pedestrian-only village featuring restaurants and shops housed in Victorian-era buildings.

Toronto Tourist Attraction Distillery District Love Installation Love Lock

We stopped for hot drinks at the Sweet Escape Patisserie (they make the creamiest Almond Milk Cappuccinos!) and explored the pretty buildings. Of course we had to take pictures at the Love Installation - Toronto's version of the Pont des Arts, where people can clip on "love locks" to commemorate their love.

Swimming Pool View from 4th Floor of Delta Toronto

By the time we walked back to the hotel after a day of exploring, our legs were aching! We headed down to the 4th floor pool, where hubby swam laps while I relaxed in the hot tub.

Toronto Tourist Attraction Terroni Restaurant

Post-swim we headed to our favorite Italian restaurant - Terroni. We didn't have reservations so we waited a LONG time for a table - but I have no regrets because their gnocchi is perfection - yum!


The king bed in our room was SO comfortable that we slept in as long as we could on Sunday morning - luckily check out time was at noon.

Toronto Tourist Attraction Sushi Time Restaurant

Sunday was a rainy day so we decided to stay indoors as much as possible. We stopped by Sushi Time for a quick lunch (I had Salmon Sashimi over a bowl of rice) and then parked next to the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Toronto Tourist Attraction Art Gallery of Ontario

Hubby tried to get out of going to the Gallery ("maybe we should drive home before it starts to snow!") but I convinced him that this was a rare opportunity to leisurely explore the exhibits sans kids. We ended up having a really fun time - we especially enjoyed the Group of Seven collection, which focused on Canadian landscapes. Hubby was convinced that the Lawren Harris paintings looked like soft-serve ice cream - do you see the resemblance?

Our mini-date weekend was SO much fun. It's good to be a tourist in your own city - especially when your city has been picked by the New York Times as one of 2016's top travel destinations! We loved exploring new areas in Toronto - and we felt so refreshed after our staycation. It had all the benefits of a holiday without the travel time or the packing stress - I'd definitely recommend it!

What's your favorite place to visit in Toronto? I'd also love to hear your restaurant recommendations!

For more information on where Expedia.ca sent me, check out Delta Toronto here.


Sunday, January 3, 2016

All Wrapped Up: Highlights & Resolutions

I always love starting the New Year by looking back at the highlights of the last year, and planning what I want to achieve going forward.

Blogger Outfit Cape Poncho Leggings Boots
Wrap: c/o Romwe / Blouse: c/o LOFT / Leggings: H&M (similar) / Boots: c/o Cougar / Bag: c/o Ever New

2015 was an exciting year for my blog - I got to meet some AMAZING people and work with brands that I love - what more could a blogger hope for? Here are my top blog highlights:

1) Nothing could beat having a full-page spread in GLOW magazine. I had originally signed on to do a Youtube video for Clairol - so being featured in a magazine was an unexpected bonus!

2) Meeting celebs (Rita Ora) and interviewing them (Jane Seymour!) as well as YouTube stars (the Pixiwoo sisters and Wendy's Lookbook).

3) Working on several SHOPPING projects with malls (1, 2, 3, 4) AND winning a Blogger Styling Challenge!

4) Adding the dreamiest of dream bags to my collection...I never thought I'd own a Chanel Classic Flap Bag!

5) Lastly, but the best part - all the behind-the-scenes support and advice I got from my lovely blogger friends: Elaine, Jenelle, Lena. And although I haven't met her in person yet, Noelle makes my week by commenting on nearly EVERY post I write! We're blog friends and style twins - she's the sweetest!

Chloe Drew Dupe bag
Close up of my Ever New bag (similar to the $$$ Chloe Drew bag)

As for looking forward, I know New Year's Resolutions can be a love/hate thing - but I'm one of the people who love making them! Yes - some things come up EVERY year - but that's ok - most goals in life need on-going attention.

1) Declutter and get organized! (Keep getting rid of stuff / dedicate one day a week for catching up on paperwork / meal plan)

2) Do things that help me get energized (go to sleep early / exercise / eat nourishing food)

3) Complete the second part of my driving test (for non-Canadians - we have a 2-test license system....I still have to take my highway test - eek!)

4) Focus on quality family time ( date nights with hubby / one-on-one activities with the kids)

5) Trying a more organized approach to blogging! I love blogging, and while it's been fun treating it like a hobby, I could definitely be using my time better. I'm going to try and set aside days for photography, planning content and sharing on social media.

I hope you've had a GREAT start to the New Year - and would love to hear about YOUR highlights and resolutions! Also - I'd love any feedback on what blog posts you'd like to see more of this year!

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