Preloved/ Pre-owned and Vintage Handbags

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t follow treads and I do covet some of the latest and greatest designs introduced into the fashion world.  However, I can rarely justify paying full price for anything, especially for a high-end luxury piece that is very expensive.  Like I mentioned in a previous post, I do make the exception if I have a gift card or if I’ve saved up long and hard for it (e.g. my pretty wedding shoes).  What I do appreciate more is a great deal.  If I can’t afford something, I just don’t buy it.  I might slip sometimes and buy it, but then I end up having to return it later.  Keep in mind that that would apply for regular retail purchases.  All the consignment stores I’ve purchased from do not allow exchanges or refunds.  I always keep that in the back of my mind when I shop pre-owned!

I appreciate great craftsmanship and attention to detail when it comes to fashion.  Vintage pieces have more history, uniqueness and appeal to me.  With luxury items, it doesn’t need to be in season for me to love it.  I prefer to have statement pieces that speak to me or happen to compliment items in my closet 😉  I didn’t get into buying preloved (pre-owned) and vintage items until I shopped in L.A., San Francisco and New York.  As shopping consignment was becoming a trend a few years back.  It was evident that when people own high end luxury handbags in particular, they put a lot of care into the bag especially since these babies come with hefty price tags.  So these consigned items are usually in pristine condition.  California had so many options of buying luxury preloved and vintage items.  I even stumbled across a pop-up luxury consignment store in L.A. a few years back.   The name of this particular place was called, “Divorcee’s Closet” LOL.  I’m so glad that the option of buying preloved items is now becoming more accessible to Canadians.

When I was in the U.S., I loved sites like Gilt (mostly sells new items but from time to time there will be a flash sale of vintage luxury items. Bonus: Gilt ships to Canada), Fashionphile and Yoogi’s Closet.  At the time, the dollar was at par so I was getting great deals!  I was able to add LV as well as Prada and Chanel to my collection.  When my husband lived in the U.S., it was a lot more convenient to order from these websites.

There is still hope for us fellow Canadians looking to score amazing vintage finds.  Here in Toronto, one place that I was shockingly surprised to find vintage items for sale was at Winners and Marshalls, during their Red Carpet Event.  I found some items that made me do a double take.  “Hermes bracelets for $150?!? That had to be a mistake.”  But low and behold…my eyes did not deceive me.  They were preloved vintage items with a little note attached to it.

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I took a picture to show you some of the things that I found.  Yes, some of the preloved vintage items were still way out of my budget (like the $9,999 Hermes handbag, the Louis Vuitton bag and the Cartier rings), but bangles and bracelets at $150 were definitely a score!

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This large pre-owned Louis Vuitton handbag I found a Marshalls during their Red Carpet Event. Look out for flyers for their next event!

If there aren’t any Winners and Marshall’s stores in your area selling vintage and pre-owned pieces, try checking out some consignment stores around the city like Extoggery, Haute Classics, Consign Toronto and Kind Exchange.  Extoggery, Haute Classics and Consign Toronto are stores where you’ll have to fork over a little more for luxury goods but there are still deals to be found with enough patience and persistence.  With Haute Classics and Consign Toronto, you have the convenience of  shopping online.  Kind exchange is more along the lines of a slightly upscale Value Village.  You don’t find very many high end couture pieces but if you are just looking for something current and trendy on a budget this is the place for you.  Since it is smaller than Value Village, there is less rummaging around to do.

You can become a great consignment shopper, and the key thing is to do your research.  I find that even when I’m shopping in consignment stores, I will go on my phone to find the item and see if I’m truly getting a great deal.  Go to Google or major department store websites to compare the original prices of the actual item or similar items.  You can also search on eBay to find comparable items in that condition.  My personal rule is that it must be at least half price to make it worthwhile if I’m not buying it brand new.  Many times, I’ve scored brand new items with tags at these shops, so again, it pays to do a little bit of digging.  An added bonus is that they guarantee all their items are authentic.  It also doesn’t hurt to ask if it comes in it’s original box or with a receipt (hard to come by but I always ask)

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Here are a few items from my pre-loved collection.   Purchased at less than 1/2 of  the retail price <3

If you have an item that is just sitting around in your closet, why not consign it?  Keep in mind, many places will require that you leave the items with them for 30 to 90 days, and you do not receive payment until the item has sold.  For the convenience, they take at least 50% (on average) of what the item ends up selling for.  Someone will appraise your item and list the price at the store.  You can try to suggest a price that you feel is fair, but they will give you a realistic amount as they know what items typically sell for.  Different places have their own selling options and policies.  Some options include selling it directly to the store for them to re-sell, you will get your money right away, but the payout is less.  If you consign and have them sell the item on your behalf, you usually get more value for your item.  However, if your item does not sell after a certain period (60 days usually), it is your responsibility to come back for it, or they will donate it.  Also, some places require clothing to be dry-cleaned before being accepted.

Consignment shops are a great way to find affordable luxury items.  They also help to support the local economy, encourages recycling, and even helps you make a few bucks.  If you are finding that the items at the various consignment shops are still out of your budget, you can always wait for one of their sales.  Even though I’ve never been to a Kind Exchange sale, I was told by the sales associate that they have a “Fill a bag for $20” sale.  I don’t think you’ll ever encounter that kind of sale at a high end consignment shop but I’ve been to sales where they have slashed their prices in half 🙂  It never hurts to ask when their next sale is.

Consider making it a girls’ shopping/consigning trip, and you can consign your items at the same time as your girlfriends.  Once you’re there, you can shop and compare notes on whether or not an item is a good buy.  I have a girlfriend who’s so organized. Before she consigns all of her items, she will print off a list of each item and list how much she purchased the item for and what she’s hoping to consign it for.  Many of her items are NWT (new with tags).  She lived in NYC for a few years, so her selection is amazing!  Before she consigns her items, she’ll show us all the pretty pieces first.  That way it’s win win if we end up buying it from her.  She’ll make a little more money than putting it on consignment and we pay a little less than buying it on consignment;)

Do you know a great place to buy vintage clothing and accessories?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Clothing with a Cause

Here’s a local brand that has been creating quite a buzz lately…Peace Collective.  I ordered my t-shirt awhile back, and I love the message on it: “Home is Toronto.”  More importantly, I love the message that the company stands behind, which is the importance of battling against poverty.  Their mission statement: “JOIN THE FIGHT AGAINST HUNGER – For every garment purchased, Peace Collective will provide two healthy meals and a snack to a child in the Canadian educational system.”  Their company supports “Breakfast for Learning” which ensures students begin school well nourished and ready to learn.  I learned recently from their blog that they also collaborated with Lululemon for the 2015 Pan Am Games…so cool!

IMG_1833I love to pair my t-shirt with my different blazers and sweaters.  I think it’s always fun to dress up a t-shirt!  I also wear my nude pumps with everything!  Usually, I also pair the t-shirt with a blingy necklace, but there was already some bling on the shoulder pads of my blazer:)

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JEANS:  Zara  (Similar pair)
PUMPS: Jimmy Choo (patent look)
T-SHIRT: Peace Collective
BLAZER: Purchased in L.A. @ a consignment store (similar design)

Side note: My husband lived in California for 3 years for school so I got many of my great deals there.  If you are ever in the L.A. area,  consider using Yelp to locate  some great consignment stores:)
I’m on the hunt for this blazer from H&M from a past season. Love the fancy detail on the shoulder pads.  It retailed for $49.99 U.S. and I’m hoping it’s a design they will bring back!

Below are some cute stickers that came with the t-shirt.

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This year I will be attending TEOF’s (Toronto Educational Opportunity Fund) Annual Lunar New Year Banquet, where proceeds go towards supporting the TEOF’s mandate to provide nutrition to young learners.  More specifically, it is a charitable organization supporting child nutrition and the Kindergarten parenting programs of Inner City schools.

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It’s always good to know that things that you wear can support good causes!

Welcome Basket for Guest Bedroom

We love having guests in our home.  We are so close to our family and friends that we love getting the opportunity to host dinner parties or BBQs at our house.  We wanted that same welcoming experience to carry into our guest room.

I love the cozy feeling of being in a Bed and Breakfast, so I wanted my guests to have a similar experience in our home.  My husband will usually whip up a gourmet breakfast in the morning with freshly cut fruit and all.

 

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I had stumbled across a few welcome baskets for guest bedrooms on Pinterest and I was excited to recreate one of these fabulous baskets for our guests.

To make it extra cozy, I started leaving tea and fruit for our guests…and Godiva chocolates!  Who doesn’t love Godiva 🙂  I loved my pinch minimergency kit so much that I’ve put one in the guest basket as well.  This is me bribing them to come back;)

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I created a little welcoming note that I put into a photo frame.
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In the next couple of months, we will be having my husband’s cousin G from NYC stay with us as well as my cousin and his girlfriend from Paris!  I can’t wait!

Some of the contents in the basket: magazines, shampoo, conditioner, all the contents in the pinch kit, lotion, Advil, Tide-to-go etc.  One of the magazines is our wedding magazine called OMG (Our Marriage Gossip) that we gave out as wedding favours.  You can be as creative as you wish with your basket.  It was so fun to make because I knew it was going to make our friends and family happy!

Is there something else you would add to your guests’ basket?  Let me know in the comments below!

Some Must-Have Beauty items!

Do you ever say to yourself, “I wish I had known about this sooner?”  I definitely have.  These are some must-have beauty items I absolutely love and I thought I should share with you!

First on the list are “Tweezerman” tweezers!  They are by far one of the best tweezers I own.  I always have that one stubborn hair when I’m plucking my eyebrows that is impossible to pull out.  In the past, it would take forever to pluck those stubborn strands out with my cheap tweezers.  But with Tweezerman tweezers, you’ll never run into that problem because it gets them all:)
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One of my girlfriends had a destination wedding in Cuba, and I had left my Tweezerman tweezers in my carry-on.  When the lugguage got scanned, the custom’s agent said they had to toss them.  I remember thinking, “Oh no…not my Tweezerman tweezers!”  It was too late to put them into my check in 🙁  The reason why they are so amazing is because they have an award winning slant which doesn’t break my hair and gets right to the roots which makes plucking effortless!

Whoever invented dry shampoo…I could kiss you!  Unlike every gal in my household who was  born with straight silky hair, I was born with frizzy wavy hair.  I learned recently that my dad use to have wavy hair and grew it out in his early 20s.  I’m only now learning to embrace it, but growing up it was sometimes difficult to tame this mane;)

I use to wash my hair every evening.  To my dismay in the morning, my hair would be out of control because I had showered the night before.  It was frustrating  because I had taken all that time to straighten my hair, only to enjoy straight hair for one day.  My hair would get greasy if I didn’t wash it everyday.  Now, instead of washing my hair, I just spray dry shampoo into my hair.  I can wash my hair every two or three days rather than everyday.  When I use it, it feels like my hair is freshly washed:)

The two products I use are Joico Instant Refresh Dry Shampoo and a Swedish brand “Edge Natural Haircare” dry shampoo in “Dark Haze.”  Sorry you may have to hit “Translate” to be able to read the information on the website.  I find that I get the best advice from my girlfriends and my favourite hair salons/hair stylists.  If I had to choose between the two,  Joico gets my vote:)  I gave you the amazon.com link to look at the reviews because there are at least 20 reviews giving the product an overall score of 3.5 stars.  Amazon.ca only had one review of only one star.  I completely disagree, I love this product.  I just wished it cost $12.99 like it does in the U.S. and not $30.00 CAN.

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My girlfriends who are blonde swear by “Batiste Dry Shampoo“.  You can get a can under $10 at Shoppers Drug Mart.  Or you can click on the tab “Where to buy” on the link I provided:)  I’ve tried it, but it left my dark hair looking like there were faint white streaks in it.  I recently found out that Batiste created a product for dark and deep brown hair for $15.  I’m not sure why the list price is $79…crazy!  I’m excited to try it out!

Now that I’m embracing my wavy hair more, I sometimes leave it au-naturel.  I just mist a little water on my hair and scrunch a little bit of mousse into it and ta-da!  However, I still prefer my hair straight, even though I get compliments when my hair is wavy or curly.  The grass is always greener on the other side right;)

I love this eyelash curler by Shu Uemura!  I won it at my cousin Becky’s shower (best Sephora prize table ever!)  Everyone had been raving about it and when I tried it, I loved it!  I don’t have many eyelashes to begin with, but when I use this eyelash curler, it curls it to perfection.  Unlike other eyelash curlers, it very easy to use and the silicone pads do not stick to your lashes.  With a little bit of mascara, I end up with pretty curled eyelashes.   You can also purchase it at Hudson’s Bay.  It’s award winning for a reason…good job lash curler engineering team!

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Crazy enough though, I found a decent eyelash curler at Forever 21 for $5.90.  I initially bought it because it was in a pretty rose gold colour and I thought I could use one in my back up makeup case.  I wasn’t sure if it would work very well, but it’s actually not bad for an inexpensive purchase:)

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Last but not least, are my favourite base coat and top coat polish: Seche Vite and Seche Clear.IMG_3128

If you want a fast drying, top quality base coat and top coat for your nail polish, these babies are for you.  I don’t always get a chance to get manis and pedis as often as I would like, so when I need to do my nails at home, these are my go-to products.  Not only are they fast drying, but I find that my nail polish will stay on longer and not chip as quickly when I use them!  Last year, my best friend bought all the girls a bottle for Christmas and we all started squealing in delight!  That’s how much we love this item 😉

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Do you have any must-have beauty products that you can’t live without?  Let me know in the comments below:)

Love of Laundry…not!

I have a husband who is rather particular about how laundry is done!  When it was just my sister and I living in our apartment, I had one hamper which I threw all my clothes into.  Half of the time I would roll my jeans up and pretend I was shooting hoops, which said a lot about my athletic ability since the clothes would end up around the basket.  I would eventually collect all my random clothes and throw them back in my basket.  When it was time to do my laundry, I would sort my clothes into various piles, darks, whites, colours etc.  My husband was away at school at the time so I was pretty set in my ways.  However, when he returned he was appalled about how I did my laundry.  I would never admit this to him, but his system makes a lot more sense than mine 😉  First, he went and purchased laundry dividers/sorters that he got from Walmart.  He looked at other stores, but only found 3-bag laundry sorters, but Walmart had 4.  Online I could only find ones with 3 dividers, hopefully they still have the 4-bag sorters.

Now when we do laundry, we divide our clothes into 4 categories: Whites, Darks, Colours, & Delicates.  It is important to always wash your clothes in the appropriate water temperature:  Hot water for whites to keep them bright, and cold water for darks to prevent them from fading.  I used to wash everything in warm water, but then my whites didn’t look too bright.

When he’s not looking, sometimes the little thrill seeker in me would roll up my clothes into a ball, shoot, and just hope for the best!  Especially when I am tired, I don’t always follow the sorting rules but this gets me in trouble with the laundry drill sergeant and he’s constantly shaking his head but I still see a little smile hidden there.  He knows that even though my quirks drive him crazy, he’s kind of stuck with me 😉

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We also use a completely different laundry basket for our clean clothes that we take out of the dryer.  This one folds flat so we can hang it on the inside of our closet door.  Love how it says “CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN.”  Another great HomeSense buy!
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Lastly, I’m loving this rolley basket that I leave in the guest room.  After their stay, visitors throw their towels in there and I can take it directly to our laundry room in the basement.

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Do you have a laundry method/system?  Or are you more of a free spirit like me and prefer to play bball with your clothes? 😉  Do you have any great tips for laundry organization?  Let me know in the comments below!

A Healthier New Me

One resolution that keeps reappearing on my New Year’s resolution list is to be healthier (eat cleaner & get active).  I always start the New Year with a bang and I’m gung ho about making big changes but then I tend to fall off the bandwagon.  I’ve gained quite a bit of weight since being married and even though I would love to blame my husband’s amazing cooking for it, it simply boils down to the fact that I eat out often and I’m not as active as I should be.  I understand it’s not all about your size but I’m finding that even when I’m going up two flights of stairs, sometimes I feel winded.  When I lived in Japan in my mid 20’s I climbed 3333 stone steps with the people in my town.  I don’t think I could go up even 33 of those steps now without feeling lightheaded and out of breath.  Not to mention that some of my favourite jeans no longer fit.   This was definitely an indicator that I needed to get more active and change not only my eating habits but my lifestyle as a whole.

I had never been a fitness enthusiast.  I would always prefer to read under a tree engrossed in a novel while my dad and sister played sports such as volleyball, soccer or badminton.  My mom was the ever supportive cheerleader on the sidelines but I had no interest whatsoever in being a spectator nor a participant .  My sister was the more athletic one and played all the sports in the family.  My ideal type of workout was riding my bike or rollerblading along the river front.  I don’t really enjoy competitive sports and I recall my dad encouraging me to play soccer when I was around 12 or 13 and while I was playing defense, half the time the ball would wiz by me because I was completely bored or lost in thought thinking about what  I would do after the game.

After many years, I don’t think much has changed.  I love non-competitive activities such as yoga, and you couldn’t pay me to play on my sister’s beach volleyball team or my friends’ Dodgeball team. Just not my cup of tea.

I know many people’s workout regimens spans all sorts of activities from step classes to intense weight training, but even when I had a personal trainer I couldn’t get into those types of activities.  My trainer encouraged me to try it all  but I would much prefer to take a Zumba class or a dance class instead. Up until December,  I wasn’t even doing any of those classes.  I kept using the holidays as an excuse for my unhealthy eating and unhealthy habits.

Which brings me to my lifestyle challenge.  A few of our best friends invited my husband and I to enter a new lifestyle challenge.  It is a competition based on weight and overall look/improvement and the incentive is a large sum of money.   It really isn’t about the money, but we felt that there had to be some sort of penalty so that we don’t slack.  I have until May to present my results.  I’m not sure my Zumba or yoga classes are going to cut it but I’ll throw in some gym workouts and hopefully even if I don’t win I’ll be healthier and more active in the process.

To help kick start my new game plan, I got a few things for preparation.

  1. A Fitbit: It’s a rubber bracelet with a chip in it that syncs to your phone.  I still forget to put it on from time to time.  However, when I do wear it, I love it!  It tracks how many steps you accumulate each day.  You can also invite friends into mini challenges which motivates you to work out!

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    I love a little bit of arm bling  when I ‘m not at the gym, so I love accessorizing around my Fitbit!

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2. A Vitamix: Love this bad boy!  Makes the greatest shakes ever and I love having a meal out of a cup!   The big selling point for me was that it can make hot soups and will pulverize chia seeds or flax seeds.  My mom uses the NutriBullet, and is very satisfied with her shakes.  So if you have a blender you love, you can always go to the Vitamix website for cool recipes too.

3. A gym membership: I have to be honest.  I have been paying for this membership for years and most years, I just pay for it and don’t use it as much as I should.  I’m going to try to not let that happen this year!
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4.  Cute gym clothes:  I know this sounds crazy but I find that if I feel good and look good in my gym clothes I’ll put more effort into my workout.  It makes me motivated to want to eventually get to the point where I can wear crop tops…not quite there yet!  My workout attire is from Lululemon.  Love the flowy outer shirt top.  I like how it goes over the sports bra (comes attached) and it conceals my tummy bulge;)  I also love shopping their:  “We Made Too Much” section…great deals to be found!

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Please excuse my husband shoes, I forgot to move them for the pic!  This pic was taken for friends in our healthy challenge chat room but I thought I’d share it with you all too!  Even though it’s a challenge, we are all so supportive and encouraging!

5. A Fitbook: Helps me keep a journal of what I’m eating and record what  workout regimens I’ve been doing.  I started using the Fitbook at the end of last year.  Many love their Fitbook because they find that when you physically write things down you’ll have a better chance of getting it done.   Decided that this method was a little too time consuming for me so I’ve replaced it with the Calorie Counting App below.
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6. Calorie Counter App:  Download the “My Fitness Pal” app…I love it!  It’s also able to sync with my Fitbit which is awesome!  I always said I wouldn’t be one of those people who would count calories but I realize how important it is now.  Plus this app makes it fun and enjoyable.  You can even scan the bar code of items you eat and then it will help you gauge how many calories you have consumed as well as how much more you can afford to eat that day.  You don’t need a Fitbit to use this app and to have this app work for you!
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7. Yoga Studio: I have joined a yoga studio with a couple of girlfriends.  One of my friends is a yoga instructor there…so it’s great because she always pushes us to do our best!

I worked out 4 times this week!  That’s a record for me….I hope I can keep up with it!  To everyone who also has a health and fitness resolution, I wish you the best of luck!  New year… new us! 🙂

Starbucks Online Sale

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48 k-cup pods for $15.57 plus tax. Came in packages of 12

If you love Starbucks and enjoy their Christmas blend, then I have an online special for you.  If you have a Keurig machine, the K-cups are on sale for $15.57 (reg. $25.95) for 24 pods. Use promo code BIG1XMASKCUP for buy one, get one free.  I got 48 k-cups for $15.57…amazing!  However, there is a standard shipping fee of $7.95 that applies if your order is under $75.  I ordered it online and within two days, the shipment arrived at my doorstep.  Enjoy the deal!

 

 

Proud to be Canadian!

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Love being Canadian!

Happy New Year everyone!  Mother Nature sprinkled some white love for us and has given us a white New Year!  I was contemplating staying in my Pj’s all day but then I decided to throw on a sweater that’s just as comfortable…my Roots Cabin Cardigan!   It comes in Birch White as well.  It’s the perfect sweater for lounging around in and if I need to dash somewhere quickly, it’s not frumpy and it’s acceptable to be seen in public in.  In fact, it’s both cute and comfortable…my kind of sweater!  I know that Roots is now an international brand but I love how it has Canadian roots;)

As a gift to congratulate me for launching my blog, Tiffany from “The Paper Suitcase“, bought me a signature Hudson’s Bay Blanket…I love everything that’s a part of the HBC collection.  Not only is it sold at Hudson’s Bay, but I was pleasantly surprised to find this collection on sale in Canadian airports.  If you are not familiar with it, it’s a signature collection inspired by over 300 years of Canadian history!  I have been coveting this blanket forever…thank you so much sis!!

If you want to shop my Roots look for less, Bluenotes carries some very cute Canadian sweaters.  I actually got this Canadian sweater below in Stratford when we went to watch a production at the Stratford Festival.  The quality is comparable to Roots and just as warm and comfy.  I purchased my sweater for $39.99 and I was able to take advantage of their buy one get one 1/2 off promotion.  The sweater pairs well with skinny jeans and Hunter boots!

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Happy first Day of 2o16!!

Happy 2016!

My friends and I were debating what to do for New Year’s Eve this year.  My best friend usually throws a New Year’s Eve bash at her house with all our closest friends but this year I think we may keep it low key.  They are a 4 hour drive away and we just got back into Toronto.

Last year, I was in Time Square ringing in the New Year in NYC.  It was a last minute girls’ trip to the Big Apple so it’ll be nice to spend NYE in town this year.  Although I do love getting all dressed up while anticipating the count down, just the thought of being curled up in my warm PJs at home sounds pretty amazing too. However…I have the perfect New Year’s dress and it was $12.00 at Kind Exchange!  I don’t like spending a lot on a New Year’s Eve dress, especially since I usually only wear it once.  I guess I could always keep it for next year 🙂

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Glittery NYE dress from Kind Exchange

I hope everyone had an amazing and relaxing holiday!  We spent a few nights in a pretty hotel room…thanks to both sets of moms and dads:)  It was nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of the holiday and get some R&R.  I got to sleep in and read until the afternoon!  I just finished reading #GIRLBOSS…and it was a quick and easy read so I definitely recommend it.  It’s a true story about a girl finding her calling in the online fashion world selling Vintage Clothing on Ebay.  It was such a luxury for me because my husband likes to be up at the crack of dawn so his day isn’t wasted but being in a hotel allowed him to relax and sleep in with me too.  Although his relaxing includes getting up (earlier than me) and heading to the gym at the hotel.
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One of my New Year’s resolutions is to always remember how fortunate I’ve been.  Not only am I surrounded by amazing friends and family but I’m so fortunate to call Canada my home.  This year I would like to welcome all the new Syrian families arriving here in Canada.  I have to remember my humble beginnings too.  Canada allowed my family the same opportunities they are giving these Syrian families!  We also left a war torn country and came with all the uncertainties each of those families are experiencing.  During this time, my father was reminiscing about our journey to Canada. When flying over from the Cambodian refugee camp in Thailand, a wonderful family donated their children’s winter coats to my sister and I.  My parents tried to refuse but they insisted that their children had many more at home.  A Belgian musician sitting in first class slipped $20 U.S. in my coat pocket and another American family gave the same amount in my sister’s pocket.  She was only a baby and I was a toddler.  My dad wished he had the names or address of those kind-hearted folks.  We sat right behind the partition of first class.  They kept the curtains open and it allowed my father to converse with many of them in French.  During the time of the Khmer Rouge regime, my father had to conceal that he was educated.  A secret that could have cost him his life.  His secret about being able to converse in both English and French no longer had to be kept…what a blessing!

Their simple act of kindness became a part of the few possessions we had as we embarked on our journey to Canada.  It was also the driving force that gave my family the determination to become proud Canadian Citizens!

To pay it forward, we brought Christmas to the home of a new Syrian family.  My mom bought new small appliances, cutlery, cups and dishes & plates for the family.  While my sisters and best friend bought toys for the kids. We relayed the story about delivering our gifts to the family on Christmas day over dinner one night.  When my sister-in-law, Winnie, heard the story, she also wanted to contribute and she went way out!  It was such a touching and heart felt experience!  I hope we made their first Christmas in Canada a memorable one!

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These gifts in the picture are all from Winnie (a few days after Christmas). She wanted to deliver them herself but that evening there was a huge snow storm so we delivered them for her.

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Our family loves spending the holidays together.  Last year, my sis Tiff got us the cutest matching onesies right before our NYE trip to New York!
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This year we were twinsies with our besties!
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I wish you all a Happy and Prosperous 2016 filled with love, happiness and good health!!

My Fav Shortbread Cookies!

If you haven’t tried Mary Macleod’s famous shortbread cookies, it should be on your check list of things to do and try in Toronto.  If you want a taste of heaven in your mouth, make your way to her charming  bakery.   Visit her site and read about her story...very inspirational.

Every year, I try to make an effort and make the trek across town to the bakery to share some of Ms. Macleod’s amazingly delicious goodness with someone.  I had stumbled across her shop by accident.  I was in the Queen East area getting a dress made by Tizz, when I saw the Bakery’s sign.  My sister’s client bought it for their team one year and I couldn’t stop dreaming about these cookies she shared with me.  When I saw the sign, it automatically registered as the very one that was imprinted in my memory.  I had to stop so I could re-live the moment of putting these decadent cookies in my mouth!

Everyone that I have shared them with can’t stop talking about how delicious these cookies are!

Today we received a wonderful surprise.  Our good friends, Michelle and Jessica, left these charming cookies on our doorstep because we were not home.  Thank you for your thoughtfulness Jessica and Michelle!

Recently, we were in for a treat when my sister-in-law bought us Coach House Short Bread Cookies from the One of a Kind Show.  I must say, in my opinion, they came a close second to Mary Macleod’s.  I’m curious to know which ones you all prefer : )

If you are unable to get to Queen Street East, you can still get your hands on these marvelous Macleod cookies.  They can also be purchased at Holt Renfrew, Summerhill Market and even Costco.

If you are feeling ambitious and want to try to make your own shortbread cookies, CTV shared the famous traditional shortbread recipe.

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Delicious Assorted Shortbread cookies by Mary Macleod. Thanks again Jess and Michelle!
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I get excited just looking at the packaging!
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This Coach House Shortbread company comes a close second. If you like your cookies super buttery, you’ll love these:)

If you are unsure of that last minute gift, you can’t go wrong with gifting these cookies!

Happy Holidays everyone!  I am excited to spend quality time with my friends and family and I wish everyone a happy and restful holiday!