Monday, September 29

Little Lola (10)

We've had a beautiful mild September so far and we've been trying to get to the dog park as much as possible before you know what arrives. Lola was beginning to manifest some fear of car rides, so we've also been trying to take her for lots of rides with lots of treats. As uncomfortable as she is in the car, girl always has an amazing time at the park. It's awesome to me that all of the pictures above were taken in the last two months and there's four different parks represented. It's so much fun to explore a new park.

Yesterday we tried Dawson Park in the river-valley for the first time and it was beautiful. Lola discovered the North Saskatchewan river and got all muddy and wet. She also got to climb a big cliff (top right). She ran up there unbidden and we all stopped to watch her. We called her to come on down and she looked around, I imagine enjoying the view, pondered briefly how she would descend and then came barreling down at full speed. A small bush served to slow her down once she reached the bottom, the look of wild adventure in her eyes.

I should start a picnic table series, I always get her to sit on a picnic table for photos. She's such a photogenic pup.

Friday, September 26

Self Tanning for Brides (And Everyone Else)

OK, it's pretty standard fare, brides like to be tanned. Most do anyway. Something about wearing white and being all professionally made up can make a lady look a little washed out unless you're beautiful pale peaches and cream.

I wasn't wearing white, but I was wearing makeup, and the colour of my dress (labeled 'Oatmeal' by the designer) though flattering on me, did make me feel a little washed out. Plus, I had my entire back visible so I wanted it to be a pretty back (I totally got my first ever back zit the week of the wedding, not kidding).

For my first foray into self tanning I considered the three options: go to a tanning salon and get my fake bake on, get a spray tan, or try one of the vastly mind boggling at home options.

The first option was immediately ruled out due to cancer. Not a fan. The fact is that tanning beds have been correlated with an increased risk of skin cancer. I know everything causes cancer these days but I wasn't interested in improving my odds. 

In the car on the way home from the spray tan admiring my new predicament.
With that in mind I chose to try a spray tan at a reputable local salon where they use a low chemical formula that reacts to each persons natural skin colour to create a perfect non-orangey result. I went for my spray tan two weeks before the wedding so there would be time for it to fade if it was awful, and I could re-do it if it worked out. The experience was a bit weird. It was my first time and being all naked while someone sprays you down with a sticky cold liquid is very odd. After the spraying was done I stood there like an idiot for a long time before I felt less sticky, then headed home. At home I had to stay far away from my puppy so she wouldn't lick my tan off! I was supposed to keep it on for up to eight hours so I ended up having to sleep in it. I fell asleep with my hand on my chest and woke up with a hand print on my boobs! After showering I was less than impressed with the result. For 30 bucks, I might consider doing it again (early in the morning preferably so I don't have to sleep in it), but I had a big problem with streaking and gaps in the colour. After scrubbing out my streaks I looked pretty good for about three days, then it started to fade and it faded completely unevenly! I looked super patchy! Overall, unimpressed. Definitely not wedding worthy.

The patchy second day of my spray tan.

That meant I had to go shopping. I headed to Sephora and ended up purchasing Vita Liberata Rapid Tan Mousse. The kit came with a mitt for applying the mousse, and it was a special 'choose your colour' formula that you leave on for one to three hours (or more) depending on the level of darkness you want. 

Nick helped me apply the mousse (he was in charge of my back) but it was incredibly easy to get an even coverage. Much easier then spraying! I loved the mitt application.

The first time I left the tanner on for one hour and showered only to emerge the exact same colour as before! I reapplied and left it on for the full three hours (I should note that after showering I again felt like I had emerged the same colour, but the colour continued to develop more subtly over the next few hours so don't be discouraged right away when you wash off). This time I was extremely happy. It looked natural, even and it faded evenly as well. I would highly recommend taking this approach to self tanning. I was so happy with the product, it even lasted a full week before it faded.

No Streaks!

Using Self Tanner:
  • Look for a mousse formula that will go on evenly and be easy to see any bare spots.
  • Exfoliate and moisturize your elbows, ankles and knees before beginning. Start with shaved legs.
  • Use a mitt to get that perfect even coverage.
  • Get some help with the hard to reach back region!  
  • Don't be discouraged right away when you wash off your colour guide, it will continue to develop after the guide is rinsed off. 
  • If you end up with streaks, use an exfoliating body wash, loofa or cloth to scrub away any darker bits. 
  • To maintain your colour, moisturize frequently and try to wash and exfoliate in the shower evenly all over (shaving your legs exfoliates, so your legs will fade faster then the rest of you if you don't give your whole body a gentle scrub). 
I hope this helps someone even a little, we have six months of winter to look forward to in Edmonton and I might try tanning again when the shroud of winters palor begins to become opressive.

Wednesday, September 24

Everlane Fit Details and Recap

Rounded Collar Silk in Blush
It's no secret that I love Everlane. When they first launched their campaign to bring shipping to Canada I pledged the $200 to get free shipping for life and I have absolutely been using that privilege to the best of my wallets ability. I thought, since the website doesn't have a space for reviews, I would take a few minutes to share my favorite -- and my most disappointing -- purchases from the luxury brand.

First, let me give you the pitch. Everlane is a brand offering luxury essentials, responsibly sourced and with a focus on transparency. They're open about how they source their factories (you can find factory tours on the website), what everything costs to make, and what the markup is on each item. Originally they began with simple mens ties, but they now offer everything from leather bags and sandals made in Italy to simple T's and more, with a focus on the most luxurious knits and silks you've ever worn.
Rounded Collar Silk in Blue
My first purchase in April 2013 was a silk blouse. The rounded collar silk in navy. I also purchased their essential leather belt, a T for Nick and the French Terry sweater in mustard. I wore the navy silk on the blog here. I spoke in detail about my love for the Everlane silk shirt here, where I reviewed several different brands of silk shirts and their fit.

Over a year later I can attest to the fact that I still love my Everlane silk shirt, and have purchased it in an additional colour (blush). I'm very careful about wearing them, always changing when I get home to avoid puppy nails and cat hair so they are a little higher maintenance than the rest of my wardrobe, but I love having them. Everlanes newest fall collection of round collar silk shirts don't include the button placket, which is unfortunate as that detail prevented boob gape for me. I'm currently obsessing over the new silk 'pocket' style so it might be time to buy another.
Reverse Denim Backpack
After the silks I stocked up on simple T's and purchased both the Reverse Denim Tote, and the Reverse Denim Backpack. I cannot tell you enough about how I love these two bags. I use them tons, and I always return to them. The tote is an occasional beach bag or purse, and the backpack accompanies us to the park, camping, hiking, and picnicking. It has a great laptop pocket inside, and the exterior pockets keep small items well organized. They're also holding up fantastically to regular wear. 
Reverse Denim Tote
A note on Everlanes T's. I've purchased two for myself and many for Nick. The mens XL is a perfect fit for him and I usually purchase him the V-Necks. The V isn't too low, and they all look amazing on him. I'm slowly planning to replace every T shirt in his collection with Everlane. The womans T doesn't fit me as well. I feel that if they had an XL I would find the fit more flattering, as is, the L is just a tad tight on me. Still a good layering basic, but not as chic with a pair of jeans. 
Nick in an Everlane V-Neck
I also own the Ryan pocket T, which fits wonderfully, is slouchy and great, but I find that it collects a lot of pet hair so I only get one wear before I have to wash it again. The fabric also wrinkles very easily and noticeably, and I don't love the neckline. 

By biggest Everlane regret has to be the purchase of the Box Cut button down shirt. I thought, how can I go wrong with a white button down? But the fit was awful on me. I purchased in large and could have easily gone down to a medium. It isn't just a box cut on me, but swallows me whole. Very unflattering.
Rounded Collar Silk in Blue

The mustard French Terry (part of my first purchase) I wore many times and got a lot of use out of, but it never fit quite right either. I purchased it in Large and it was a little too tight, almost the same fit as the T-shirts. Interestingly both the French Terry and the T-shirts are made in an LA factory, and both are tight on me in an L. Not sure if this is a coincidence. ;)
Everlane Seed Stitch U-Neck

Lately, my biggest Everlane success has been with the Seed Stitch sweaters. I own two, the Seed Stitch U-Neck, and the Seed Stitch Raglan. My favorite is the Raglan, as I find I need to wear a tank top or other layering shirt with the U-Neck to make the neckline work (and admittedly I find the Birch colour to be a little bit of a wash).

The Raglan is my most recent purchase and it is literally the softest thing I have ever felt. It's amazing, warm but it breaths so it's perfect for fall. I purchased it in Pine and it goes with everything and is very flattering. The cut on these I also find flattering. I purchased both in Large and they don't hug too tightly, instead draping perfectly. They have a slit at the hips along the hem and the back drapes a little longer than the front. I love them. Perhaps that is the greatest difference between the cut of the Seed Stitch and the French Terry, the French Terry having a banded bottom that emphasized my flaws in the middle.

For reference, I'm a standard size large or 14 on the bottom, 12 on top. I have a 32 waist, 42 hips, am 5'4" and wear a 36D.

Please feel free to ask any questions about fit or styling! 

Thursday, September 11

Canada Has Determined That is a Lie

I've been gearing up for fall lately. Nesting. It might be that the wedding's over and I have too much time on my hands or it might be that it's getting colder and I'm thinking about cozy sweaters and rooms I don't mind hunkering down for six months in.

Of course if you live in Edmonton you know, and all others let me tell you, this year we seem to have skipped fall and gone right on to that other thing.

Seriously. It snowed this week. What's with that? My sister broke out her winter jacket but I'm refusing to let the parka see the light of day until at least mid October. I remember distinctly that last year it didn't snow until November.

Anyways, I've been working on a little bedroom makeover, cleaning out my closet, thinking about organization, and buying a crap ton of new fall clothing items. Probably should have restrained myself on that last one, but for some reason I found I couldn't help myself. I have a gateway problem where the first hundred dollars is impossible to spend but once I finally do it the money flows freely until it's kinda gone. I should be good now... but seriously guys, I got so much nice stuff! So many sales! So irresistible!

None of my clothes have arrived yet, but I am super super excited about the bedroom updates. Can't wait to share. :)

Tuesday, September 9

Curly Girl

Last week I started hunting for a stylist on the North end who I could entrust with my difficult, curly hair. My stylist for the past year and a half was my friend Katy from Kick hair salon, she did a great job getting me ready for my wedding but I was more than ready to see someone closer to home who I wouldn't have to use a vacation day to see on the South side.

I started checking Yelp and reading reviews and through someones random review discovered that there were  now DivaCurl certified stylists in Edmonton, like, lots of them. Having searched high and low for a DivaCurl stylist some five years ago and given up due to the big fat 0 I encountered, I guess it hadn't occurred to me to check the website for awhile. See, some six years ago I read the Curly Girl Handbook by the makers of DivaCurl, a natural and chemical free hair product line made just for curls, and became hooked. I learned so much about  my hair from reading the book and it really helped me learn the basics of living with curls. This book really took the place of a curly girl mentor in my curl-free childhood (I think my mother has just come to terms with the fact that she is the one who gave me curly hair). I've been sulfate free ever since!

Anyway, I went back to the DivaCurl website and checked their map of local certified stylists (there's not only hair products but a specific way of cutting hair and styling that is recommended) and discovered two salons within walking distance of my house! I chose to visit Filippos Salon at Northtown mall due to its proximity to my bus stop. They also have a whopping three certified stylists to choose from, and carry a wide variety of the Deva product line.

I was paired with Stylist Kelsey Sebo who did a great job getting rid of all my horrible split ends and bringing up the length a bit. It was really amazing to get the full DevaCurl experience, everything from the 'plopping' with a micro fiber towel, to the cutting method. I purchased the DevaCurl shampoo and conditioner to begin using again, and am just waiting to finish my other products before I invest in the rest of the line. I couldn't believe how great the gel worked at the salon. I also purchased the cool Diva diffuser, but lo, it doesn't fit on my big fat hair dryer at home! I'm keeping an eye out for one with a slimmer head and soon will be able to regal you with the coolness.

If you're a curly girl, I would highly recommend checking out Kelsey or another DivaCurl certified stylist and getting the full experience. It really makes a world of difference.

ASOS high waist skinny jeans and crop top, Birkenstocks from Modcloth
Anyway, more about my outfit. I wore this on a long weekend Monday, it was bloody freezing and everywhere I went I was shivering out of my skinny jeans (not actually). The sandals -- my biggest mistake. That being said, I felt awesome and looked pretty damn hot. ;)

Tuesday, September 2

There Be Dinosaurs

Shortly after returning from our honeymoon this August, Nick, myself, my sister and some of my cousins all ventured out to Jurassic Forrest to see some dinosaurs. It ended up being a beautiful day for it, sunny but not too sunny, warm but not too warm, and we really enjoyed the lovely trails!
I was super excited to see Fireweed there, as it covers the countryside in PEI! It was almost like being back on the island. 

 Edited with A Beautiful Mess photoshop actions

Friday, August 29

Just Beachy

On our last full day we took full advantage of the island (and our rental car), heading from Charlottetown to Basin Head beach. Rumored to be the best beach in all of Canada, we weren't disappointed.

This also happened to be the moment I discovered that a light summer sweater is perfectly paired with a bikini. I kept myself well protected this way from the drafty breeze of the ocean, but still enjoyed the sun. Speaking of enjoying myself, I think you can tell I'm enjoying the heck out of the flower crown Nick bought me in town.
I've talked at length here about 'beach bodies' and not being afraid to rock a bikini even if you have problems with your own body. Confidence is won by bearing all, and I made a conscious effort to take portraits on the beach with the shirt off. Weirdly, I think the best thing about these pics is the lipstick, haha, but I'm also stupid proud of that midriff. Check out the crazy tan lines from our previous  beach excursion! Should have worn this bikini first me thinks!
ASOS bikini, thrifted skirt, Birkenstock sandals, Jo Totes camera bag, H&M sweater

Wednesday, August 27

Boyish and Casual

Ever since college, or the last time my uniform consisted of jeans and a T-shirt, I've been a big fan of skirts and dresses. Almost to the point of banishing jeans from my wardrobe. I mean, jean shopping is one of the worst things in the whole world and I absolutely hate the feeling of too-tight denim. Lucky for me, the 'boyfriend jean' appeared on the horizon.

It took me awhile to jump on this trend, and a lot of angsty change room visits before I bit the bullet and ordered my first pair of boyfriend jeans from ASOS. Happily, they fit perfectly and are still a staple in my wardrobe today. Less happily, the once artfully torn thigh of my boyfriend jeans has grown an awful lot. Between jumping puppies and snagging it on things (it's so big now I occasionally snag it on my own knee while getting dressed...) the artful leg hole has become something of a giant, unintentional cut-out. I'm thinking it's time to buy a new pair of boyfriend jeans and I'm eyeing up this pair of patchwork ones from The Gap.

While I'm at it, I might have also fallen in love with these other wardrobe staples. Joanna of 'A Cup of Joe' recently posted about how her brothers french girlfriend wore a uniform of jeans and a sweatshirt on a recent vacation and ever since I've been looking for an appropriate everyday sweatshirt like this one.


I can tell my style is evolving lately. I moved my clothes rack from the bedroom into a spare room and I put everything away in drawers except a few key pieces: my silk blouses, a chambray top, a raglan sweater and a denim skirt -- which I hung from a valet stand. Since then I've been going back and back to the valet stand and haven't bothered with the clothes in the spare room at all. It's a handy trick for deciding if you're ready to part with things. As I prepare to go ahead with our bedroom makeover (I've been obsessing over it lately, thanks pinterest), I might move our winter clothes onto that rack in the spare room and move forward with donating a lot of the old stuff. Wish me luck!

Friday, August 22

The Island

A few of my favorite shots from our honeymoon in PEI. Eastern Canada really is something special and I can't wait for a chance to go back and explore some more.

All edited with A Beautiful Mess Photoshop Actions (Hank and Magnolia, edge burn and top glow)