Thursday, May 28, 2015

Throwback Thursday

Good morning! For this week's post I chose some old photos that I believe were taken in England. I could be completely off base about that, but luckily I know my mum can easily correct me in the comments section below if need be.

When I was little, for some reason, I really enjoyed spinning in circles. Maybe it was because I really wanted to be a ballerina! 

Check out those little black ponies! I'm sure I would have loved to have run around in the fields with those two! Even though I was pretty young when these photos were taken, I still have many special memories from my childhood. It's just so wonderful to be able to have captured some of those moments on camera!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Time for Tea

Maybe it's because it's the middle of the week, or maybe it's because it's cloudy and soon to be raining outside, but I have to admit, I'm feeling a bit 'blah' today. Well, as my mother always says, "There's nothing that a cup of tea can't fix"! In that spirit, I would like to share with you some of my favorite teas! 
There are many different varieties of tea in the world, and many ways to drink them. To keep things simple, I'm going to be focusing exclusively on David's Tea (a Canadian tea company that started in 2008) in this post. David's Tea classifies tea into the following categories:

*White Tea          *Green Tea

*Oolong Tea        *Black Tea

*Pu'erh               *Maté

*Rooibos             *Herbal 

I have a fairly extensive collection of David's Tea in my cupboards, which I got as a Christmas gift and have been thoroughly enjoying. I particularly enjoy being able to see all of the ingredients in the loose leaf packages that make the flavors so tasty. My current favorites are Love Tea #7 (Black Tea), Three Wishes (Black Tea), Genmaicha (Green Tea), Toasted Walnut (Green Tea), and Forever Nuts (Herbal). 
Each tea has it's own distinct flavor, and all taste delicious even without sugar! If I'm in the mood for something sweet and rich, I tend to go for either Love Tea #7 (which has chocolate it in!), or Three Wishes. If I want something sweet but more refreshing, I would suggest either Toasted Walnut (which tastes like a tropical vacation to me!), or Forever Nuts (which is caffeine free!). Every now and then, I crave something more mild, and Genmaicha perfectly fits the bill! It's made from roasted grains of brown rice and has a sweet, yet earthy taste. 

One of the best parts about tea, is that it tastes good when it's served hot, as well as when it's served cold! As summer approaches, I know I'm certainly looking forward to making some refreshing homemade iced teas! 
Happy tea drinking! 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

What To Wear: BBQ Party Edition

Good morning! For everyone south of the border, I realize this post is a little late now that Memorial Day weekend has come and gone, although I'm hoping it will serve as inspiration for any future celebrations this summer. 

Summer is a great time to both host, and attend BBQ parties. Aside from the easy, breezy, simplicity of throwing on a dress, I thought I would put together a couple outfit suggestions that could serve as alternatives.

Outfit No. 1

The first look consists of a bright, relaxed-fit, sleeveless blouse, paired with denim shorts, a gold statement necklace, and bronze wedge sandals. This ensemble works textures (silk chiffon and denim) effortlessly, while allowing for movement and comfort. Some people are completely opposed to mixing metals, but I think it's perfectly fine as long as it's done right. In this case, the gold necklace and the bronze wedges compliment each other by giving the outfit a more dressed-up vibe, without looking too fancy. 

*Hair and Makeup: tousled waves and a coral lip.

Outfit No. 2
The second look consists of a brightly colored, patterned top, white jeans, a gold statement necklace (my repeat favorite!), and a bright bag. This ensemble plays a bit more with color, while keeping things fresh and cool with a pair of crisp white jeans. If you're looking for a more effortless, easy-going vibe, I would suggest rolling up the cuffs of your jeans to show a little ankle. In terms of footwear, I always suggest wedge sandals for outdoor events since you won't have to worry about getting your heels stuck in the grass.

*Hair and Makeup: side braid and bright fuchsia lips.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Feature Destination: Prince Edward Island

It won't be long until summer is finally here, and along with it, sunny days and warm weather! For some families, summer also means vacation time, as kids aren't in classes all day long. Since my mother is a teacher, we were very fortunate to be able to take a number of lovely trips most summers. One of my favorite trips, was when my parents rented out a beach-front cottage in Prince Edward Island.
We actually visited PEI on two separate occasions, the first time being in August 1999, and then again four years later in 2003. The first year we were there, we stayed in French River. I remember we took the scenic route by taking the train to Moncton, and then renting a car the rest of the way. My brother and I were amazed at how incredible Confederation Bridge was! While in PEI, we visited Kensington, Cavendish, Summerside, Tignish, and Charlottetown. One of my favorite memories from our trip was when we happened upon Rainbow Valley, in Cavendish. Unfortunately, it's since been closed, but I still remember how much fun we had at the family theme park. 
My parents took us to Dalvay By the Sea, the hotel where Road to Avonleigh was shot. The hotel is a beautiful Queen Anne-style Victorian, with a grand tea room that overlooks the water. We also went to a smaller, but quite charming tea room called The Blue Winds, as well as the Kitchen Witch Tea Room, where my parents had their tea leaves read. 

While we were staying in Summerside, my parents bought both me and my brothers "PEI Dirt Shirts", which have a distinct color from the red earth soil of Prince Edward Island. Having never seen anything quite like it, I remember being fascinated by the red earth! I think my brother and I thought we had gone to Mars! 

Aside from the various attractions (Anne of Green Gables being a major one that I really couldn't leave out!), PEI is a natural beauty with lovely scenery and quiet beaches. The people are kind and friendly, and the atmosphere is welcoming. It's been quite some time since I've last been, but I certainly hope to visit again! 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Throwback Thursday + Lately I've Been..

Good morning! It's a bit chilly here in Ottawa today but compared to the intensely hot, humid weather that's sure to be coming our way, it's quite refreshing. I'm kicking off today's post with my Throwback Thursday photo of the week, followed by my take on the survey "Lately I've Been..", which I got from fellow blogger Julie!

Despite the bright glare from our life-jackets, it's still possible to make out four people (my dad, myself, and my two brothers) standing in the doorway of a cabin. Since my mum isn't in the shot, I think I can safely assume that she's the one taking the picture! Every cruise requires all passengers to participate in a lifeboat drill at the beginning of the trip (for obvious safety reasons). It might not look like it, but those life-jackets are surprisingly bulky! I'm not a very big hockey fan now, but I think the hat I'm wearing has a Toronto Maple Leafs logo on it! Clearly we all really liked ball caps back then! Oh, and I guess I missed my baby brother's memo about socks and sandals! As silly as we may look, going on cruises with my family was a lot of fun and always an adventure! I have so many wonderful memories together from our vacations!

Now on to the survey, "Lately I've Been.."

*Making: Lists. I am a "list girl" and it's kind of my hyper-organized way of managing things! 

*Cooking: Slow-cooker pork. It's so tender and the flavor is phenomenal! I've been doing a lazy version lately by just using a combination of original and honey dijon Diana Sauce.

*Drinking: Coffee. Lots of coffee. 

*Reading: To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. I read this back when I was in grade 9 but it's such a classic that I enjoy it even now. 

*Wanting: So many things! I guess if I had to pick one right now, I would probably say another cup of coffee! 

*Looking: Forward to going to Kingston with my boyfriend to visit family for my birthday in June!

*Playing: The Simpsons: Tapped Out. My boyfriend got me into it last year and now I'm slightly addicted! 

*Wasting: Too much time watching Mad Men! I'm only starting it now so I've been binge watching lately.

*Wishing: We could go on vacation! I really want to go to Charleston, SC, and Savannah, GA. 

*Enjoying: Everyday with Ryan! 

*Waiting: For our lease to end in September so we can move into a new apartment downtown!

*Liking: Sunny days! 

*Wondering: How great Jurassic World is going to be..awesome or SUPER AWESOME! We're planning on going with my family in Kingston once it's in theaters so I'll be sure to review it!

*Loving: My family. They are always so loving and supportive. I feel incredibly blessed everyday. 

*Hoping: I'll actually remember to set aside time to paint my nails today. They are definitely in need of some TLC!

*Needing: To start going on walks with Ryan more often! We had a good routine for awhile but we need to get back into it. 

*Wearing: Right now? Pajamas. Don't's technically still the morning.

*Following: Lots of foodie blogs lately. If you're looking for something incredibly delicious and aren't too worried about calories, Michelle has got some pretty amazing recipes! Check it out here!

*Noticing: All the beautiful flowers and blossoms. The trees are green and the birds are constantly chirping! 

*Knowing: I have so much to be thankful for and lots to look forward to! 

*Thinking: About doing some self-directed learning. I've been really interested in learning more about different animals so maybe I should start there!

*Feeling: Happy and hopeful for the future!

*Bookmarking: Lots of DIY projects! I'll share them once I give them a try!

*Opening: My mind to new things and new ideas! 

Feel free to share some of your answers to the survey in the comments below! 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Guest Blogger: Martha Read-Gray on 'Mom Coping Tips'

I am very excited to be able to feature a post from a very wonderful, wise, and inspirational woman..who also happens to be my mother! So without further adieu, here it is:

Author of today's feature article:
Martha Read-Gray
I've been asked more than once to share any of my 'Mom Coping Tips', so this guest blog is in response to that request.

First of all, it's hard. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.  I'm reminded of the line burned on my brain from a prenatal book I read when my first baby was preparing to come into the world, "the only way out of it, is through it".  Since that's true, it's important that you enjoy the journey as much as possible.  So although many suggestions out there will suggest you load up on all sorts of 'distractions' to help you cope with your baby leaving home, it is important to realize that they are exactly that, distractions. They don't solve those quiet moments in the still of the night when you can't sleep for worrying.  What can you do then?

Ever since the cord was cut, your children have been developing outside of you, beyond you. This is natural. This is normal. Hopefully, you have let your children go away to camp, travel without you, or at least be away overnight. Then you did all the planning.

As your child prepares to go away on a gap year or away to post-secondary education, allow them to plan the details, organize themselves and their gear, and assist with getting them there or to the airport or station. There is nothing wrong with taking them to their post-secondary destination to see their dorm room, but don't stay too long so they can switch gears and settle in to their new locale and environment.

One of the biggest realizations I have had is that I can't control everything, even though as a nurturing parent that is my inclination. I've played a key role in laying the foundation of their emotional, intellectual and spiritual maturation, but there comes a point when they need to continue growth through their own self direction and experience away from home. I eventually relinquished power, and let them take control of their own lives because otherwise I would have gone 'crazy'. I balanced the texts, phone calls, fb messages, and skype-ing. What I've learned was to not be offended if they wanted more space at times, and I wouldn't let them be offended if I wanted some space either.

Sometimes it has seemed like nothing was going right, like my balance was out of whack. Sometimes, I just wanted to cry I missed them so much. I have learned to accept those feelings, and let them wash over me. Besides, I literally couldn't cry forever. So I found it's better to 'let it rip; snot and all'! I found my kids have bouts of homesickness. To offset those feelings though, I tried doing what my own Mum always did, which is I've planned for when we would be together again for a visit. Planning ahead changes both our outlooks to excited anticipation.  We had something to look forward to because we've missed each other.

I learned I didn't need to know everything. After all, we certainly didn't share everything with our kids as they were growing up. I realized that being close doesn't mean being enmeshed. I am learning to accept I will not be included, nor should I, in every minute detail of my children's maturing lives. We are both entitled to privacy. I let them share information. Sometimes they share precious little, but that's okay. Other times, it feels like way too much.  There are things my kids have told me, that I just didn't want to know. They are starting to do adult things. It's very important to know who my children's friends are and their contact information. My children know our friends, so I do think it is important to have met and know their friends. However, their friends are not my friends.

I've learned that I need to spare them guilt. Unintentionally, I've guilted my children into coming home and visiting or skype-ing on my schedule. I know I feel guilty if they want something, especially when I just can't give it. However, we're working on the concept that we're becoming adults. Understand that when people have lives, their time and space must be respected. Foisting guilt is unproductive, and ultimately a seed for resentment, so I'd avoid the whole 'guilt' scenario as much as possible.

I talk to my partner, he helps a lot. I don't think either of us could see a day through without the love, support, and wise counsel of the each other.  It is important to have the support of an adult someone.

I'm learning to trust my children to make good decisions.  Our fears can get the better of us, and they can preoccupy us with 'what ifs?'. If they do make an unfortunate decision, as we all do from time to time, they will learn from it, and they know we'll be there for them.  Things can unravel and they need us to assist them from time to time. With trust, this is now the exception, not the rule. Trust in themselves builds self confidence, which everyone needs to survive in this world. I've had to face the reality that I won't live forever and will not always be there to rescue them.  We're passing the control to them. I see how investing them with our trust has empowered them. Ultimately, we want to better be able to continue our life's journeys together, side by side, as adults, so they can continue their journey beyond our time.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Ottawa Tulip Festival

I hope everyone had a nice weekend! My aunt was visiting from Kingston so we got to spend some quality time together. Sunday was an especially nice day with lots of sunshine and warm weather. After having lunch at Montana's, we headed over to Dow's Lake, where we encountered crazy traffic and huge crowds of people! Once we finally found a parking space we were able to get out and walk around the lake area where all the tulips were being showcased. There was a carnival for kids so the event attracted a lot of young families. After walking around for a while, we stopped to get some fresh squeezed lemonade from one of the vendors along the pathway. It was definitely the best lemonade I can recall having and it was really refreshing! 

Me + Ryan on the boardwalk 
We took some pictures of the many varieties of tulips they had on display, but it wasn't too long before we all decided we needed a break from the crowds. Thankfully, we simply had the cross the street and walk along the boardwalk for a slightly less busy stretch along the lake. 

Since the weather had been so cloudy and rainy last weekend, we felt really blessed to have been able to enjoy such a beautiful sunny day! I hope you all had a nice weekend too! Feel free to share in the comments below!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Color Profile: Purple

Purple is a color that I don't think gets nearly enough recognition. It's often associated with royalty, luxury, and power, and it combines the tranquility of blue with the fiery energy of red. Because it embodies such a perfect combination of primary colors, it is versatile enough to be worn by just about anyone (given the right shade of course!). 

Purple is a very strong color, so it tends to look best with an ensemble that isn't too busy. Depending on the shade, you can pair it with either silver or gold jewelry. The general rule is that lighter shades of purple, like lilac or lavender, work better with silver or white gold, while darker shades of purple, like violet or wine, tend to look better with yellow gold. If you're looking for a more sophisticated look, opt for pearl jewelry, which complements both light and dark shades of purple. 
Owing to it's versatility, purple is one of those colors that you can easily dress up or down. If your style is more casual, you can incorporate purple into your wardrobe with a pair of lilac jeans or a few cute tops. If you're not ready to commit to the color completely, I would suggest picking up some violet nail polish or even purple lipstick (I recommend going for something with pink undertones to avoid looking washed out). Purple can be worn by people with a range of skin tones and hair colors. People with warm skin tones generally look best in deeper, more vibrant shades of purple, while people with cooler skin tones look lovely in lighter shades of purple. 

If you're not wearing purple as the centerpiece of your outfit (so, if you're not wearing a dress that is!), I would recommend pairing it with either white or black. If you're feeling particularly adventurous, you can try out a number of more colorful combinations, since purple is complemented by quite a few colors. Aside from shades of blue, purple looks quite lovely when paired with yellow (try gold or lemon), pink (fuchsia or coral), or mint

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Throwback Thursday

Hi there! I hope everyone is having a lovely Thursday afternoon. It's a beautiful sunny day here in Ottawa and the temperature is warm, but not too hot. It's almost the weekend so I'm in a very good mood since that means two days of relaxing. My aunt will be visiting us here in Ottawa so we also have that to look forward to on Saturday as well. 

My mum sent me a bunch of old photos the other day, which inspired me to start doing 'Throwback Thursday' posts. I won't be discussing any particular topic, but it will be a nice opportunity to reminisce and in some cases, laugh at old styles or funny pictures! 
The three kids enjoying life on deck!
This week I chose a handful of pictures from a cruise we took about 13 years ago. We were either on the Celebrity Century or the Horizon I believe. My mum knows the exact details of the trip so I'm sure she'll correct me in the comments below.  

My brothers and I always had a lot of fun in the 'kids program', which involved lots of on-board activities and entertainment. We were all really excited when we got the chance to go backstage and try on all of the crazy costumes and accessories the performers wear for the extravagant shows they put on almost every night. I still find it hilariously entertaining looking back at these photos and seeing my brothers (now much older!) dressed up with giant coins and feather hats on their heads!

I'll be writing a travel piece entirely about cruise vacations soon, so stay tuned for that! 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day Lunch in Ottawa

Happy Mother's Day! 

Despite cloudy skies and a bit of rain here in Ottawa, today was absolutely lovely because my parents and youngest brother came to visit. We went to the Lord Elgin for a special Mother's Day lunch where we got to enjoy huge cups of coffee (seriously, they were more like small bowls!) and a huge buffet spread that included bacon, eggs, roast beef, smoked salmon, and flambéed fruit! 

The Lord Elgin is a beautiful hotel in the heart of downtown Ottawa, so we were able to walk around and see some of the sights after lunch. After stopping by to see the changing of the guards at the War Memorial, we walked down Sparks Street so my dad could pick up a fleece sweater since it was pretty chilly out. Once it started raining we all piled into the car and drove to the Glebe, where we took a short walk along the canal. Had it been a bit warmer and less rainy, we probably would have extended our walk, but considering the weather, we just did a quick tour before getting back into the car and driving to the apartment. Even still, we were able to see some beautiful flowers and trees along the water. The tulip festival is currently going on here in Ottawa so there were plenty of brightly colored tulips on display all around the city.

After our walk we headed over to the apartment for some tea before my parents had to drive back to Kingston. We had a really lovely visit and are so lucky to be able to get together more often now that we live (relatively) close to each other. I hope you all had a lovely day too and happy mother's day!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Getting Ready for College/University (Part Two)

Once you've got your head in the right place to take on going off to college (or university), you'll have to put some thought into actually getting yourself organized to go. Since it'll be a whole new system, and you'll be figuring it out on your own (for the most part), it will definitely help to get a few tips from some college graduates. 

Every college and university is different, just like every student experience, but there are a few general tips that will help guide you through first year without too much stress!

1. Go to ALL first week events 
This is especially important if you're going somewhere new and you don't already have a group of friends. Some of the first week events may seem silly or pointless, but trust me, this is the time to meet new people and forge some solid friendships. Join clubs and get active, not just within your school, but also in your community! 

2. SAVE money on textbooks
You will need more textbooks in college than you ever needed in high school. By the end of the year, these textbooks will have cost you more than a month's worth of groceries. In order to cut down some of these costs, you're going to have to get creative! 
-Buy used copies from the bookstore
-Buy online from Amazon for a fraction of the price
-Buy from fellow students (check Facebook for groups designed specifically for this purpose)
-Check out Google Books to see if you can read online (FREE!)
-Photocopy pages from the books you need at the library (many classes only require you to read a chapter or two from the textbooks they use) 

3. Avoid eating at the cafeteria everyday 
If you're on a meal plan, it is way too easy to just head over to the cafeteria (or associated restaurants) and swipe your card. The food available on campus is generally very expensive, so before you know it, you could be out of food money long before term is up. If you live in a place with a kitchen, use it! If you don't have a kitchen, and you're pretty much forced to eat on campus, you can cut down your expenses by going to the grocery store once a week to buy your snack items! Think about it: one Starbucks muffin costs about $2.00 compared to a whole box of granola bars for $5.00 at the grocery store.

4. Learn the art of communication 
If you live with roommates at any point throughout your time at college, you're going to need to become a master of communication in order to maintain your sanity. Even if you live alone, I can pretty much guarantee that you'll be required to complete at least one group project that requires you to communicate with your peers. In any case, learning how to speak openly and clearly will be immensely helpful when you're trying to sort out things like a shower schedule or who takes out the garbage and who washes the dishes. 

5. DO NOT neglect other parts of your life by engulfing yourself in your studies
This might seem like an obvious one, but when you're in the thick of midterm season, you are definitely going to want to keep this in mind. No matter how busy you are with your studies, do not let your social life or domestic duties suffer. You simply can't hole yourself up for weeks at a time, ignoring your friends and family, and not wash a single dish in your house. Just don't do it. Ultimately, your school work will actually benefit from you giving your mind a break. Even if it's just a half hour walk, you absolutely must give yourself a break to clear your mind.

6. Work smart, NOT hard
Learning to budget your time will be incredibly important in college, so focusing your energy in the right places will save you a lot of time. If you've got a part-time job and 3 papers due in 3 days days, you're going to need to budget your time accordingly. Reading through your syllabus at the beginning of term will save you time at the end of the year when your professor asks you to write a paper linking the major themes of the course. Get an agenda or personal notebook and USE IT! Things like SparkNotes, can actually be a really useful learning tool when used correctly. Obviously you know that you can't plagiarize (no matter how desperate you may feel, NEVER do this), but if you're having a hard time understanding the plot of a story or keeping track of characters, SparkNotes actually does a really great job of laying it all out clearly. 

7. Try new things 
There are going to be so many new and exciting opportunities available to you throughout your time at college. Sometimes, it'll be overwhelming, but no matter what, do not limit yourself. Whether it's an interesting sounding course that's not directly in your field, or a school club that does something you've never heard of, you'll only be enriching yourself and broadening your horizons by giving it a try. You might start your first year thinking you want to be a vet, and end up changing your mind when you discover all the other possibilities out there. I'm not suggesting you join every club and team out there, because if you do, you'll probably get overwhelmed, but I am suggesting that you at least try one or two. 

Finally, don't forget to have fun and make the most of your experiences! Before you know it, you'll be graduating from college and looking for a full-time job! 
Graduation with my friend Yvonne!
We met in our first year!

My boyfriend, who is actually back at college right now to get his computer technician certification, reminded me of two very important tips I left out! Here they are:

8. Seek out help when you need it
Your academic advisors are there to help you but you have to take the first step by scheduling an appointment to meet with them. They can point you in the right direction if you need a tutor, or help you pick out the courses you need to complete you degree. 

9. Surround yourself with people who love and support you
This is incredibly valuable advice! There will be some very trying times ahead, so it's important to have the support of your most trusted friends and family. If someone is a bad influence or has a really negative attitude, they probably aren't worth keeping around. You're old enough now to pick and choose your friends, so make sure you're careful and take the time to invest in quality friendships.

Getting Ready for College/University (Part One)

This post might seem a bit odd in terms of timing (after all, school is about to finish for the year, not start!), but I got a request the other day from a young lady anxious about her upcoming first year of college (or university), so here it is!

Whether you're staying in the same city you grew up in, or going to another country, getting ready for your first year of college can be daunting. Aside from the obvious educational worries (Will it be a good school? Will I struggle with my studies?), starting out in your first year of college can also be a major social adjustment as well. You might have decided to attend a completely different school than the rest of your friends, or maybe you'll be going to college in a city where they speak a different language. In any case, congratulations! Making those kinds of important (and often a bit scary) personal decisions is a major stepping stone on your way to becoming a full fledged, independent, and educated adult. 

After I graduated from high school, I took a very different path than most of my peers by deciding to defer my studies for a year and go backpacking through Europe. Long before my graduation at the end of June, I had studied, prepared, and saved up for my trip, knowing it was exactly what I wanted to do. After completing 12+ years of straight schooling already, I knew I wanted to take a break and explore the world before I jumped right into the next stage of my studies. I backpacked through 17 countries in Europe, and it was an incredible experience. Looking back, my decision to defer going to university was the best thing for me, and it really gave me a chance to focus on getting a better understanding of myself and the world around me. When I did go off to university, a year later, I felt confident and ready to begin my post-secondary education. 

That's me in my first basement apartment in Vancouver!
I wouldn't recommend that everyone take a year off after high school to go travelling, but what I do recommend is that you take some time away from the chaos of getting ready for college, to really sit down and take the time to focus on yourself. What are your dreams, beliefs, and aspirations? What are you hoping to achieve over the next few years? 

College will challenge you in ways you could never have imagined, and introduce you to new things you never knew existed, so it's incredibly important to have a strong sense of yourself before you begin. 

This new transition in life will force you to take a leap of faith, so trust in yourself and good luck on your next adventure! 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Mother's Day Gift Ideas

Mother's Day is officially only a week away! If you haven't put much thought into how you'll be showing your appreciation for mom yet, now would be a good time to start!

No language can express the power, and beauty, and heroism, and 
majesty of a mother’s love. It shrinks not where man cowers, and grows stronger where man faints, and over wastes of worldly fortunes sends the radiance of its quenchless fidelity like a star. ~Edwin Hubbell Chapin

 I am very lucky to have a wonderful relationship with my mother and I am incredibly thankful for her constant love and support everyday. Looking back, I regret that it took me so long to understand how incredibly special she is to me and just how much I respect and admire her. I'll be the first to admit that I was by no means an "easy" child to raise. I was incredibly demanding, had a quick temper, and an insatiable curiosity that meant I needed a lot of supervision! Yet despite everything, I knew I could always count on my mother to look after me when I was sick, give me advice when I felt like no one else understood me, and love me no matter how many times I messed up. To this day, I am still in awe of how she managed (scratch that- still manages!) to look after me, run a household, have a career, and still have a fulfilling life! 

I've told her this many times now, but I sincerely hope that when it comes time for me to become a mother, I'll be able to do it with as much love and grace as she does. 

Whether you're on great terms, or things are a bit shaky right now, it's incredibly important to show your appreciation for the woman who brought you into the world and raised you. It doesn't have to be big or flashy, but as long as it comes from the heart, I'm sure it will be appreciated!

When it comes to gifts for mom, I tend to either go with DIY (Do-It-Yourself) projects, or gifts that are indulgent and relaxing. The DIY route can be more budget-friendly, but you have to be prepared to put in the time required to actually complete the project. 

Here are a few Mother's Day gift ideas to get you started:

* DIY Heart-shaped tea bags

* Framed photo of you and mom

* Scented candle or perfume

* Spa package (at home or in salon) 

* Afternoon Tea (when I lived in Vancouver, The Secret Garden was my favorite place to go!

* Lotions (the Pear & Pink Magnolia collection from Crabtree & Evelyn smells amazing!) 

* Customized jewelry (I really like the custom bracelets from Etsy. You can feature both of your birthstones for a meaningful touch) 

If you're short on time, or you just can't think of something original, it's always a good idea to at the very least, give (or make) a card. You can always up the ante by pairing it with flowers, which add a pretty and fragrant touch! 

Happy Mother's Day to all! 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Color Profile: Yellow

There are a number of colors that are (nearly) universally flattering. Yellow is not one of them. For most people, the color yellow evokes images of sunshine and happiness. It's definitely a feel-good color, and when it's worn well, it can look stunning! 

The most important thing to keep in mind when trying to incorporate yellow into your wardrobe is to consider shade. From lemon to goldenrod, there are a multitude of bright shades to choose from. In order to find your perfect shade, you'll have to really get to know your skin-tone and hair color. This is especially true if you have blonde hair, because you don't want to end up blending in with your dress! 

Generally speaking, if you're unsure about which shade is best for you, ask yourself these basic questions:

1. Do I have warm or cool toned skin? 
Hold up a piece of gold jewelry to your skin. Now do the same with a piece of silver jewelry. If the gold looks better it means you have warm toned skin. If the silver is better, then you have cool toned skin. Similarly, you can also do this with white and ivory fabric. If you look better in ivory, you have warm toned skin, and if you prefer white, your skin is cool toned. 

2. What color is my hair?
Blonde hair tends to look best when paired with light, soft shades of yellow like lemon, daffodil, and butter. Brunette hair can be paired with a wider range of yellow shades because it's such a contrast, but a few nice shades for brown haired gals are canary, goldenrod, and mustard. If you have red hair, you're going to want to stick with neutral shades of yellow, like gold, bumblebee, and pineapple.

3. What's the occasion and time of year?  
Although this might not seem like an important question, it's worthwhile considering because yellow is not a color you can wear at any time or place. If it's spring, you can wear lighter and brighter shades of yellow. If it's fall, you're better off going with richer, darker shades of yellow. Similarly, if you're dressing for a casual look, it's best to stick with neutral shades of yellow. If you're going for a fancy look, you've got more flexibility to experiment with bold shades of yellow in a variety of textures. 

Finally, if you're going to be mixing yellow into your outfit and not wearing it as a stand-alone piece, you'll have to consider what colors will look nice. Yellow is complimented very nicely by shades of blue, whether it's cobalt or cornflower. Coral is also a nice, bright color to pair with yellow. If you're looking for something more neutral, yellow always looks crisp and clean with white.