Working off the holiday cookies

Happy holidays!! Hope you all had an amazing holiday season (for those who celebrate)! This time of year always makes me extra grateful because of all the quality time I get to spend with those who I may not get to see very often during the rest of the year. This holiday season is particularly special because of the fact that this is the first time my partner and I are splitting time between our families together. Historically, we’ve spent our Christmases separately, only reconvening in the new year to have our own little holiday party for two (or three, now, as Sushi Magoo the cat has come into our lives).

Aside from spending our days in sweatpants, eating holiday cookies, and replaying our favourite childhood video games, my favourite part has been sharing our love of winter activities with each other.

outdoor skating outfit ideas
outfit details:
Cambridge coat: c/o J.Jill (exact)
blanket scarf: Moorea Seal
leggings: Lululemon
oversized pom pom beanie: Uniqlo

outdoor skating trail
red pea coat styled for skating
We spent Christmas Eve on an outdoor skating trail, listening to the pop-country-oldies mashups of holiday tunes. Skating is something that I loved to do as a kid, but haven’t had the opportunity to practice much as an adult. As T and I tried to out-skate one another, I snagged the toe pick of my right skate in a small divet of the trail and fell straight onto my knees! The price to pay for trying to be a show-off, I guess! ;) haha!

Thinking back to the last few days with the family, I can’t help but think about all the holiday traditions we have and what new traditions T and I will start in the future. Keeping my fingers crossed for Christmas Eve skating to make the list (although I could do without the giant bruises on the knees)!

Packing for the holidays – TSA approved makeup bag

If there’s anything that I’ve learned to master in 2016, it’s how to efficiently pack a TSA approved bag! Being on the road for work taught me a lot. Not only did I learn that I can live for 2 weeks with the sole contents of a small carry-on roller and a backpack, but also how to strategically pack around TSA’s 3-1-1 rule for my makeup bag.

With the holidays just around the corner, here are my must haves for any makeup bag while traveling:

cat-makeup-bag
TSA-approved-toiletries

Downy Wrinkle Release – This stuff is an absolute life saver. I have both the travel sized and full-sized bottle for all of life’s wrinkles! With any shirt that I pack, it’s inevitable to get wrinkly while on the road. With the Downy Wrinkle Release, a quick spritz, small tugs on the shirt, and then a few hours of drying, gets the shirt back to wearable condition! This is so great, especially when there are no guarantees for access to an iron while on the road. Only downside is not being able to wear immediately after spraying.

Arbonne eye roller, cleanser, and lipstick – Arbonne is a new-to-me company. Known for their safe, non-toxic, and eco-friendly products, I love their mantra of taking a scientific approach to experimenting with botanically-based ingredients. In my makeup bag, I always carry the facial cleanser (which maxes out at 3oz– absolutely perfect for your carry-on!), soothing eye gel (really great for travel days, especially when going straight from the plane to a meeting. Helps reduce the eye bags!), and a lipstick as a finishing touch. I love the fact that my favourite lipstick from Arbonne is vegan friendly, which is not something that I’ve seen very often when browsing the aisles of traditional drug stores or makeup shelves.

Benefit Magic Ink liquid eyeliner – My go-to eyeliner! The Magic Ink is the first liquid eyeliner I ever tried (back in 2011 or 2012) and I’ve never looked back. The black pigment is so opaque with just one swipe– I love it!

Bare Minerals warm blush and mini application brush – This flawless application brush came with a starter set that was originally purchased when I was first trying out the Bare Minerals loose foundation. I wish I could find a link of the full set online, but it came with the mini brush, the warm loose blush, and a starter size of the medium beige foundation for under $40. I’ve taken the mini brush and warm blush on almost every trip with me since first getting them about 4 years ago. I’ve since finished the foundation, which is why I’m linking to The Body Shop one below.

The Body Shop extra virgin minerals – Looks like this product has been discontinued, but I used to purchase The Body Shop version of the loose powder instead of the Bare Minerals one because it was a bit cheaper. The coverage was the same as the Bare Minerals one, and if I’m remembering correctly, The Body Shop also had many more shades.

Benefit highlighter Got this from Sephora as a “birthday gift” in 2015 (or maybe it was 2014?) and it’s still half full! Adding a little bit of highlights under the eyebrows and upper cheek bones makes a big difference, especially after long flights.

Mario Badescu facial spray – This aloe, herbs, and rosewater face spray is so refreshing! I love having a bottle handy on trips, especially flights, because it helps to rehydrate and refresh skin. Even when not on a flight, I’ll give the occasional spritz to the face to help set makeup in the late afternoon. It smells delicious and comes in a 2oz travel size (although I also have the full size), perfect for packing in a carry on.

And there you have it! A full makeup bag with all products that meet TSA’s 3-1-1 rule! The last finishing touch would of course be a cute makeup bag. I used to use a mesh bag from The Body Shop that housed a gift set that I received years ago, but after a tube of hand lotion exploded in there earlier this year, I found some cute cat bags from Forever 21.

Comfy and cozy holiday traditions

Growing up as a child, there was one holiday tradition I would always look forward to. I can’t quite pin point the year it started, but I remember being excited every Christmas to get a new set of pajamas from my parents. My mom always picked out the cutest prints (she caught on to my love of cats early :) haha) and sometimes matched the sets between me and my siblings. Sadly, the pajama gifting tradition ended a few years ago. I still have all the sets my parents have gifted over the years (the ones that fit, anyway) because I’m too much of a sentimentalist.

This year, I’m excited to turn the tables around on my family for our old holiday tradition!

karen-neuburger-sleep-set
karen-neuburger-poncho-print
After being introduced to the fun, holiday themed poncho set from Karen Neuburger, I’m excited to share a few of the sets with my family. The layers make it easy to bundle up or down on winter mornings or evenings. I personally find myself snuggled up under the fleece poncho in the mornings, while sipping on tea and finishing up some light reading before getting started on my weekend errands.

karen-neuburger-pjs
While this particular set is quite festive, there are a lot of beautiful floral prints or straight solid night dresses available on the Karen Neuburger site. Best of all, if you’re in a pinch for last minute holiday gifts, a lot of these PJ sets are available with 2-day Prime shipping on Amazon too!

Huge thank you to Karen Neuburger for making such cute PJ sets and sharing one with me in exchange for this post.

Holiday Wishlist: Wedding bands and insurance


Earlier this year, my best friend asked me to be his partner in life. I could not have been any more excited to say yes! Deets on the whole engagement story in this post. Now that the easy part (saying yes) has been done, now comes the hard part. Wedding planning aside (because, let’s be honest, we haven’t really done any yet), there are a handful of tangential things to take care of.

One big piece is insuring the bling. Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company has been exclusively insuring jewelry for more than 100 years and offers repair or replacement coverage that includes worldwide travel protection for all types of jewelry and watches. Coverage includes loss, theft, damage and mysterious disappearance (unexplained loss). With this ring being one of the largest purchases to date, and considering the amount of travel that I’ve been through this year (and plan to go next year), it doesn’t hurt to have peace of mind while on the road.

>wedding_band_etsy
(gorgeous ring via MinimalVS on Etsy)

Although no real planning for the big day has happened yet, I would be lying if I said I haven’t started looking at wedding bands. They may or may not even be on my wishlist this year (never a bad idea to think ahead, right?). I keep looking at all the beautiful handmade pieces on Pinterest, or unique pieces through larger jewelers, to get a better idea of what I think I’ll want to pair my current engagement ring with.

Even though one may not make the cut this year, it’s always important to protect those special holiday gifts. Accidents can happen no matter how careful we are with our jewelry, that’s why there’s jewelry insurance.

fall
If you’re looking to try your luck this season, Jewelers Mutual is hosting a Season to Sparkle Sweepstakes, where you can win up to $1000 in jewelry!

season to sparkle CTA graphic

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

REVIEW: Octer.com and how I found the perfect piece

Thank you all so much for the sweet notes on the last post that featured my holiday party outfit this year! It was such a fun look to pull together, especially since I had never done separates before for a holiday look. Plus, this is only the second crop top I’ve ever owned (surprise, surprise)!

To find this crop top, I used the website Octer.com. I’m excited to partner with Octer today to share an honest review of what my user experience was. If you’re not familiar with Octer, Octer is an aggregated, one-stop shopping site that pulls products all across major retailers (e.g Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, Forever 21, etc).

Whenever I have a specific style of clothing in mind (e.g. crop top) and am open to specific details (e.g. colour, crop length, brand, etc), my usual online shopping patterns lead me to having 20+ browser tabs open with products from across multiple retailers. While this helps me to feel like I’ve done “extensive research”, it is also very time consuming and sometimes frustrating– especially when you see the same brand of item sold at different stores for different prices.

With Octer.com, I was able to see the aggregated search results of a single product type (crop tops) across all major retailer that I would regularly shop at. Below is the first round of results I ran into using the mobile version of the website:

octer.com review - aggregated shopping
As you can see, there was a pretty wide range of “cropped” items that showed up in the search. The results returned anything from crop tops to cropped jeans to sports bras. This was a little bit frustrating, as I wasn’t exactly ready to pair a sports bra with a satin skirt for the holidays, but I ended up finding a style of crop top with a twisted front in my initial search, which helped me to refine my second round of searching.

Instead of a generic term like “crop tops”, I searched “twist front crop top” to help refine the results. What I ended up with was exactly what I didn’t know I was looking for! The best part was being able to refine the search results by price, helping to make sure that I wasn’t going to break the piggy bank with this year’s holiday outfit.

octer.com review

Once I found the twist front crop top of my dreams (on the right, but in black), it was a simple interaction of clicking the “Buy Now” button, which directed me straight to Nordstrom’s website to make the final purchase. I loved how seamless the whole experience was.

You’re probably wondering why the phone screenshots include the header bar for my phone. What I really wanted to emphasize was how fast this whole shopping experience was. By aggregating all the items across retailers, it only took me 12 minutes from start to finish to find the item I was looking for! Isn’t that crazy? In my previous methods for having multiple browser tabs open, this process would take at least 30-45 minutes, depending on the number of stores I was shopping across.

If you missed the earlier posts this week, here’s what the final crop top I purchased looks like, styled for my first weekend of holiday parties:

holiday party outfit ideas - statement necklace

Just a quick recap of my shopping experience on Octer:

Pros

– Very easy to use interface, especially when shopping from a mobile device
– Great selection of retailers to aggregate results over
– Refine and sorting functionality provided a great way to hone in on results
– Buying process was seamlessly integrated to retailer’s website
– The whole end-to-end shopping process only took me 12 minutes!!

Cons

– Although the selection is wide across retailers, there were some retailers in there that I would personally not have purchased from, and it would have been nice to be able to filter these results out
– Since shipping methods and prices vary across retailers, it was sometimes hard to gauge what the final price of a piece would be, especially if I had never shopped from a retailer before and was not familiar with their shipping policies

Overall, I really enjoyed my experience with shopping on Octer. What I love so much about the concept of Octer is the marriage of tech and fashion coming together to make seamless user experiences. The site is free to use, so I would definitely recommend checking it out! The aggregation of products makes online shopping a lot faster and easier for cross-retailer style and price checking from a consumer standpoint!

Thank you again for the partnership to write this Octer.com review! I was compensated for this post, but all opinions and user experiences described above are 100% my own.

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