Thursday, January 31, 2013

My workout routine & Must-reads

Question of the month: How often do you work out? What's your preferred method of exercise?

My optimal formula to achieve and maintain my goal weight is: Low-carb diet + workout 3 times a week. Unfortunately - once you fall off the fitness wagon, it's hard to get back on track. I'm still not where I want to be - but I'm getting there. I'm currently eating healthy around 4 days out of 7, and working out twice a week.



I work out on our Life Fitness Elliptical Machine. We invested in a professional-quality machine for our home rather than purchasing gym memberships. This was a great choice for us - my husband and I both use it when the kids are asleep. I do a 25 minute session in intervals (1.5 minutes slow, 1 minute full-speed) while catching up on Youtube vidoes. If I'm feeling energetic after my cardio (which has not been the case recently...) I do this ab routine.

What's your fitness routine? Do you work out regularly?

Monday, January 28, 2013

What's in my bag (Neverfull PM) & more from the ZARA sale

Since I featured my new bag in this post, I've received several comments & emails asking about the size difference between a Neverfull MM and PM, and wondering how much the Neverfull PM holds - so I thought I'd do a "What's in my bag post" to show what I can fit inside.

Image from Louis Vuitton website: source

Here's what I carry in my bag - aside from the iPad (which I included for size reference):

Louis Vuitton Neverfull PM in Damier Ebene

Contents from left to right:
And here's what it looks like with everything inside (except for my iPhone). I always use a large Purse-to-go organizer. It keeps my things tidy and makes it super-easy to switch between bags:

What fits inside a Neverfull PM bag

Hope this helps anyone who is trying to figure out if the PM size is big enough for them!

I also wanted to share some purchases I got 2 weeks ago from the ZARA sale. In Canada, ZARA sale items are non-returnable - and as time goes on, they keep marking down prices. The studded heels I posted about in December were reduced even further from $49 to $29 - but my nude heels were sold out.

Cream Lace blouse by ZARA
ZARA Top with Embroidered Swiss Dot Flowers

I've loved this lace top ever since I first saw it in store - but $79 was way to pricey for me. So glad to see it marked down to $29!

Camel Faux Leather jacket by ZARA
ZARA Jacket with Sheepskin Collar

This faux leather jacket is light yet warm. I loved the pretty color, quilted detail, and warm sheepskin collar. It was $59 down from $99.

Both these items coordinate well with my current clothes - and I'm so happy to have found them...BUT I feel like I've been buying a lot recently - so I want to participate in NO-BUY February....Since February is such a short month, a lot of people challenge themselves not to spend any extra money (other than on necessities & groceries).

I look forward to spending a month ignoring sales and evaluating & organizing what I already own. Who's with me?


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My New Bag: Louis Vuitton Neverfull PM in Damier Ebene

(EDIT: I've had to watermark my images with "not for sale" as they were being used without my permission on auction/bag sale sites)

I've had my eye on the Louis Vuitton Neverfull PM for a while now (posted about here and here). I had been saving up for it - and when I heard rumors of an upcoming price increase, I decided to go ahead and quickly make my purchase:

Inside my bag:

LV Neverfull PM

I was so excited to get my bag - I couldn't even wait until I got home to start using it. I love how easy it is to access my things. I'm currently using my classic purse-to-go organizer (in tan), but I plan on purchasing a red zip-up version to protect all my valuables.

Neverfull PM next to Speedy 25:

Damier Ebene versus Monogram Canvas
Cream Sweater: H&M, Polka Dot Sweater: Old Navy

Now that I own both the Neverfull and Speedy styles, I think my Louis Vuitton bag collection is complete! I know some people consider these 2 styles as "starter" pieces, but to me, they are classic and well-designed staples. I actually prefer them over any other LV style! Each bag has a different look and purpose - the Speedy is handheld and has a zip, while the Neverfull can be worn over the shoulder and has an open design.

Damier Ebene versus Monogram Print:
  
Neverfull PM in Damier Ebene and Speedy 25 in Monogram


The Monogram Canvas bags come with vachetta leather - this is untreated leather that naturally ages over time (see how pale my handles were when I first purchased my Speedy! They are a honey colored now). You have to be careful about waterstains and uneven patina developing (ever seen a Monogram bag with "dirty" looking handles/straps? That's an uneven patina). I wipe the vachetta parts down with leather conditioner frequently, and I often leave my bag near my bedroom window to speed up the tanning process. The Damier Ebene bags come with glazed leather - on the plus side, the dark material means you don't have to worry about water stains or hand prints. However, sometimes the glazing starts cracking or peeling - so I'm going to have to keep an eye out for that.

Different ways of wearing the Neverfull PM in Damier Ebene:

LV Neverfull PM
Polka Dot Sweater: Old Navy, Red Jeans: Garage

My Speedy and Neverfull bags are in the smallest sizes offered in their ranges (25 & PM).  I have a thing for teeny bags (see my Balenciaga first, Chanel WOC & Marc Jacobs Single) - but both these bags have more than enough room to hold everything I need. One advantage of the Neverfull PM is the strap length- it fits comfortable over my shoulder but is also short enough to be hand carried. The smaller size also means that this bag looks more structured than the MM & GM styles, which can have a more slouchy look. All the Neverfull bags can be cinched in for a more rectangular shape (see bottom left photo) but I prefer to leave mine uncinched.

Which bag style and canvas do you prefer?  The Neverfull or Speedy? Damier Ebene or Monogram?

Liked this post? Read my other bag reviews here!


UPDATE: Changes to the Neverfull PM - addition of a removable zippered clutch/pochette.



Louis Vuitton updated their Neverfull bags in Fall 2013 - some people refer to these updated bags as "the Louis Vuitton Neo Neverfull". The Neverfull now comes with a removable pochette that can be used as a zippered pouch inside the bag. Alternatively, it can be carried separately as a clutch with a wrist strap. As far as I know, the dimensions of the tote have remained the same.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Forever 21 Haul: Statement Necklaces & Quilted Bag

I love buying statement necklaces from Forever 21 - they're trendy, unique and well-made. None of mine have broken so far (knock wood) and they've all cost less than $20 CAD each!


Up until now, I'd been ordering necklaces online - this was risky because they're final sale - and the website photos are not always accurate. I once ordered what I thought was a delicate leaf necklace - only to end up with a HUGE medallion type chain (think Mr T)! So I was VERY excited when Forever 21 opened up at a nearby mall (Sherway Gardens). Although there are less options in store than online, you can actually see what you're buying!

Here's what I got:

Forever 21 Rhinestoned Chain Necklace Forever 21 Circle Bib Necklace
Top: F21 Rhinestoned Chain Necklace Bottom:  F21 Circle Bib Necklace

The rhinestone necklace reminds me of the crystal ones from J.Crew. I adore the silver and mint bib necklace - it will look gorgeous both with winter greys and summer whites.

Top: F21 Rhinestoned Beaded Necklace, Bottom: F21 Pearlescent Bib Necklace

This post on PhiPhi's blog highlighted the versatility of this black & white pearl strand as a layering piece. And the messy pearl cluster was just SO HUGE and dramatic - as a pearl-lover I HAD to have it.

Quilted Bucket Bag in Taupe by Forever 21
F21 Quilted Bucket Bag in Taupe

I also picked up this taupe crossbody bag while at the store (can you tell that I'm a little obsessed with taupe accessories?).  I needed a cross-body bag for the weekend with enough room for my continental wallet. In the website photo it looks a little cheap & shiny - but it is really nice in person. Here's a picture to show how roomy it is:


I'm SO happy to have a Forever 21 store near me now! Here's what I'll be looking out for on my next visit:

L: Rhinestoned Chunky Chain Necklace, R: Opaque Rhinestone Necklace
L: Pearlescent Bead & Spike Necklace; R: Spiked Chain Link Necklace in Rose Gold

I'll leave you with my OOTD:

Bitter Chocolate Hunter Boots
 Sweater: Old Navy
Necklace:  Ily Couture (similar for $38)
Shirt & Jeans: Garage
Boots: Hunter

Have you had good luck shopping at Forever21? Don't you wish they'd improve their online photos?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Holiday Glossybox Review: CLEAR, Vitabath, Curel, Nicole by OPI,Kryolan & MNY

Although I was unable to attend the super-fun Glossybox holiday party - I was excited to be given the opportunity to review the Holiday Glossybox.  I reviewed Glossybox when they first arrived in Canada (see post here) and it was interesting to see how they were doing nearly a year later.

Holiday Glossybox

I received the box in December (just in time for the holidays!) - but I took my time to write this as I wanted to thoroughly try out the products before posting about them. The box was a treat to open: I loved the holiday themed packaging - the ginger bread print tissue paper was so pretty - and the mini candy cane was a sweet touch.

BATH & SKINCARE:

CLEAR Scalp & Hair Therapy TOTAL CARE Shampoo & Conditioner - This is a unique range because it focuses on treating your scalp. In fact, even the conditioner is applied onto your scalp (rather than just the length & tips like most other conditioners). I've used up the sample bottles and they were AMAZING. I shampoo my hair every 3rd day - and these products left my hair more voluminous and grease-free than anything else I've used - even on the 3rd day! The nourishing effects are especially appreciated in winter, when the cold air, heating & general dryness can leave your scalp feeling extra sensitive. Though it is in many ways a miracle product - I was alarmed to read some of the negative reviews on Makeup Alley - apparently some reviewers claimed it made their hair fall out in clumps (link here). That wasn't my experience at all - and I'm not sure how accurate/unbiased those reviewers are  - but I thought I should mention it.

Vitabath Moisturizing Bath & Shower Gel - THE GOOD:  It softens and moisturizes my skin without leaving any oily residue behind. THE BAD: fragrance in shower gels is VERY important to me - this one smelled very generic and drugstore-like. THE CONFUSING: The glossybox insert says this is Paraben & Sulfate-free, yet Sodium Laureth Sulfate is second on the list of ingredients?? VERDICT: Will use up but won't repurchase - I prefer my more luxurious-feeling L'Occitane shower gels.

Curel Hand & Cuticle Therapy Cream - I've reviewed a lot of hand creams (link here) and this one is now one of my top 3 (the other 2 are Soap & Glory Hand Food and Fruits & Passion Avocado Butter). WHAT I LOVE: Leaves my skin feeling soft, plumped up & moisturized. One of the only hand creams that lightens up my darker knuckles and makes my whole hand look airbrushed (strange I know!). Applies slippery but dries to a matte finish within a minute. Has long-lasting and cumulative effects - my hands are now softer and go for longer without getting dry patches. Will definitely repurchase!!!

MAKEUP:

Nicole by OPI in Kardashing Through The Snow - Perfect sparkly nailpolish for the holiday season - I wore mine on New Years Eve! This has a lovely formula: lots of glitter in each coat yet the particles are tiny and the polish distributes smoothly. There was no lumpiness even after applying 3 coats (unlike some other glitter polishes I own!) Although this looks great worn on its own (see swatch below), it would also look gorgeous layered over a navy or dark purple base.

Kryolan Blusher in Glossy Pink - I love how this 'made-for-glossybox' blush is the same dusty pink as the glossybox packaging! The product is VERY finely-milled, it's so soft and smooth. I was a bit worried the shade would be too light or chalky for me - but it DEFINITELY shows up on my skin - and transforms into a flattering rosy color. This was going to be my travel blush since it's so tiny and pigmented - but unfortunately, the packaging is a little weak - the lid keeps detaching. As a blush-lover, I was pleased to try this and will definitely use it up!

Maybelline MNY My Gloss - Love this clear gloss with golden shimmer - the perfect product to apply over lipstains and other drying lip products. Has already earned a permanent place in my on-the-go make-up bag.

SWATCHES:
Nicole by OPI "Kardashing Through the Snow", Kryolan Blusher & Maybelline Gloss swatches on paper & me

OVERALL THOUGHTS:
-DRUGSTORE VERSUS HIGH END: The recent box had mostly drugstore brands (other than Kryolan) while the first box was more exclusive: AHAVA, Oscar de la Renta, Elizabeth Grant, Elizabeth Arden PREVAGE & Essie versus CLEAR, Vitabath, Curel, Nicole by OPI, Kryolan & Maybelline. However, a lot of the drugstore product were larger or full-size which offset the brand difference to an extent.
-USABILITY: This box was well-curated. I was super-happy with the quality and type of products: hand creams, nailpolishes, blushes & lip products are ALWAYS welcome in my book! I will use up every single one of these products and may repurchase a few...no waste!
-FLEXIBLE SUBSCRIPTION: Glossybox offers several subscription options: 1 month for $21, 3 months for $60, 6 months for $115 and 1 year for $220.

WOULD I PURCHASE IT?
While it's easy to like something that was sent to you - the true test is if I would go out and purchase a subscription myself. I can honestly say that I would definitely purchase the 1 month subscription option - both for myself and as a gift for others. $21 includes shipping and is very reasonable for such a beautifully packaged assortment of products. As a mom of school-aged children, I especially think this would make a great teacher gift - it's pampering and has enough variety to account for a wide range of tastes.

Hope you found my review helpful. Which of these products would you like to try?


DISCLAIMER: Not a sponsored post. I received this glossybox but was under no obligation to provide a favorable review. As usual, my thoughts are 100% my own. I blog to share my true feelings not to receive free products.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

What's in my Make-up Bag & Monthly Must Reads

Question of the month: What make-up do you carry around in your handbag?

I try to keep make-up bag streamlined and light, so that it's easy to carry around - most of my products are either minis or decanted into sample pots. My current make-up bag is this postal-themed one from CARGO.

Inside my Louis Vuitton Speedy 25 in Monogram

LIP PRODUCTS:
  • Maybelline lipgloss - a clear gloss with golden shimmer - I layer this over the lip stain & lip pencil because they are quite drying on their own.
  • FRESH Sugar Lip Balm SPF 15 - mini from the Sephora Birthday set. Such a perfect balm - feels luxurious, moisturizes lips instantly and lasts a LONG time.
  • CHANEL Precision Lip Definier in Vamp - I prefer filling my lips in with a lip liner and topping it with gloss - it lasts much longer than lipstick.
  • MAC 318 retractable lip brush - I use this to make sure that my lip products are applied evenly.
  • SEPHORA COLLECTION Cream Lip Stain in  05 (Infinite Rose) - A beautiful golden peach stain - looks so pretty worn on top of a strong lipliner - seals in the color and transforms it into a lighter but flattering shade - a long-lasting (but drying combination)... additional lipgloss is essential!

HANDS:
  • Life brand antibacterial gel - the smallest bottle I could find!
  • LUSH Lemony Flutter - you only need the tiniest amount of this super moisturizing cuticle cream, so I transferred it into a sample pot.
  • Cuticle pusher and nailcutter - my cuticles have a tendency to peel, so I moisturize them often and cut off any hangnails as soon as I spot them (there's nothing more annoying than a hangnail that snags on everything - ow!)
MISC:
  • Jo Malone Lime Basil & Mandarin in a Sephora Atomizer - my atomizer is longer & thinner than the one from the current collection - the citrus scent is so refreshing!
  • Altoids - I love this tiny tin - I keep refilling it with tiny mints & chewing gum.
  • Kiehls Avocado Eye Treatment in a sample pot - there's no need to reapply this eye cream as it keeps the eye area noticeably moisturized for a LONG time - but I like keeping this tiny container on hand.
  • Pillbox - was given this container free from my grocery store - I keep it stocked up with Tylenol ULTRA
  • Compact Mirror, Boscia Blotting Linens & Cloth Handkerchief - The mirror is essential for applying lip products & checking my teeth after meals. The blotting linens are my most used make-up bag item - they keep my foundation looking fresh. And although I always have a pack of tissues in my handbag, it's good to have this cloth handkerchief in case of emergencies.
Hope you liked this peek into my make-up bag - what are your make-up bag essentials?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Resolutions for 2013

My first post of the year! I love starting off a New Year - it feels like a chance to evaluate our lives and have a fresh start. I enjoy making resolutions (old posts here & here) -  there may be a lot of repetition - but that's ok - some resolutions need constant work, while others can be checked off the list. Here are this year's:

FRESH START: Making snow-angels with my baby-girl

1) Get Driver's Licence - recurring BUT I've made progress. Last year I attended driving school & completed in-car lessons. Up next - getting more practice and going for the road test.

2) Have a tidy & organized house - I'm good at organizing but I've got to teach the rest of my family to get involved so that I'm not always picking up after everyone else.

3) Go back to my goal weight - I have been exercising and eating healthy - but I have to step it up!

4) Take care of my skin - keeping skin clear & acne-free while doing anti-aging massage and facial exercises.

5) In bed by 11pm every night - (as I type this at 1 AM...GUILTY!) Why can't I be a morning person? Surely this year I can make the switch.

6) Set up a good after-school routine for the kids - By fall they'll start getting homework - and I want to make sure they develop good habits and get everything done on time.

7) Healthy eating for the family - this involves low-carb food for me and more fruits and vegetables for all of us.


Not low-carb but very wholesome: berries, granola, Greek yoghurt & honey

Do you like making resolutions? What are yours for this year?

By the way - did you guys know you can get fleece lined leggings at Walmart? BEST PURCHASE EVER - and they're only $8! The label says: GEORGE fleece-lined footless tights. My sister and I LOVE them - we're always checking to see if they've restocked (most sizes are sold out at our local store).  Here's a quick snowy-day outfit photo wearing them:
Garage star sequin sweatshirt
GAP eternity scarf (similar for $14)
Walmart fleece-lined leggings (similar for $18)
Snow Boots (Old Navy version of these boots)

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