#365outfit Challenge Week 49-51

Sweater: Smart Set | Pants: H&M | Bracelets: gifted, Pandora, vintage finds 

Cardigan: Aritzia | Blouse: Urban Planet | Necklace: Olive and Piper 

Top: Zara | Scarf: Tory Burch | Pants: H&M | Shoes: American Apparel  

Sweater: gifted | Cardigan: Zara | Bracelets: Olive and Piper, Pandora 

Sweater: Club Monaco | Blazer: Zara | Pants: TopShop | Booties: Kenneth Cole Reaction

The last few weeks have been a bit of a blur for me.  I've been kinda neglecting my blog in favour of seeing friends and doing tons of house hunting and house decor pinning!  Mr. Artist and I have recently decided to take the plunge and are looking to build a nest together, so now we spend our weekends like a boring couple checking out home showings around the city.  As sad as I'll be to leave the downtown life behind, I hope that I'll be gaining more if I happen to find a new home in the 'burbs: more space, more time with Mr. A, and of course tons of snuggle time with my favourite golden retriever!  We are even planning to have our first "child" together - in the form of another furry four legged creature, although it's very very hard to decide on just what breed to get.  Currently I'm torn between french bulldog, or another matching golden!  The only con with getting another golden? The exponential increase in dog fur flying around and landing inevitably on all. my. clothes.  It's hard to be taken seriously as a fashion blogger when you quite literally find dog hair on everything from sweaters to socks.

In other news, I'm in the home stretch of my #365outfit challenge!!  It's crazy to believe I've finally made it.  I cannot wait to peruse all the photos and put together some reflections.  It's been a wild ride, which I'm excited to share with you all next week - until then!

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Dresses galore c/o Outnet.com

Worse than an enabling, well-intentioned friend, the Internet is a shopaholic's worst nightmare.  That, and shopping rewards programs.  Before the Internet, one could easily follow a shopping ban simply by avoiding well-known shopping corridors, but now?  Oh no, there is no escaping the tweets by your favourite brands, the pings of newsletters and online sample sale alerts arriving in your inbox, and let's not forget, there is always the dangerously accessible allure of online shopping sites.  Case in point, I was snookered by an email this morning from Outnet.com to check out their fabulous dress sale.  60% off you say?  Well why not, I told myself.  A little window shopping never hurt anyone.

Hmm perhaps I should be amending that statement as I clicked through dress after lovely dress.  My saving grace? By the time I looked at these, most were out of my size and budget, but at the very least I can document them here as items to keep on the lookout for while supposedly avoiding said well-known shopping corridors:

Already my mind turns to summer and I'm absolutely longing for all the damp rain to end.  I like moisture, but only when it's warm!  This dress by NYC line Tucker features a perfect summer print with this silk crepe de chine dress ($148).  The bright blue of the dress is a muted version of last season's cobalt, making it a little easier on the eyes and the earthy tones of red and purple make this very match-able with your favourite worn-in gladiator sandals and wedges.

Another dress simply begging for me to purchase is this other Tucker silk dress ($498).  This dress is totally something I would wear if my office were a little more formal, or if I knew I would be doing some networking.  The trim tie-waist flatters most anyone and I think you could wear this in winter as well if paired with a smart blazer and tights.

Although sadly Christmas party season is over, it's never to early to think ahead!  This color of this dress vaguely reminds me of Anne Hathaway's recent Oscars' gown and what fascinates me about this particular Roland Mouret number ($595), is the beautiful simplicity of it.  This dress is all about the draping and the perfect balance of sweet and edgy with its chic black bow contrasted against the artful asymmetrical draping.  Stunning, but surprisingly only in the blush tone.  This dress comes in several other colors, but only in the blush does it look elegant and not cheap.

Finally, in the slightly more affordable realm, is this RED Valentino mesh-yoke taffeta dress ($460).  Every girl loves a cute LBD and you can just never have one, two, or three!  This dress is just adorable with its flirty use of mesh and polka dots paired with a slightly ruffled hemline that hints, hey, I'm classy and I'm fun!  Not to be worn if you're over 35 for sure!

What do you think of these dresses? Do any of them have you tempted?

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5 reasons why Ni No Kuni has taken over my life

Be prepared for a very nerdy post.  If you do not like reading about nerdy things, then go no further!  This post is going to be about a video game.  Yes, a game.

Sadly, this is a result of the 4+ years of influence Mr. Artist has had on my life and his uncanny ability to awaken old behaviours in me that had been banished during my teenage years, such as napping and video games.  Unfortunately, my influence seems to have had zero impact on him, but I guess that's because he's never had a love for expensive purses and beauty products in the first place.  In any case, in the past year or so, I've slowly become immersed into his love of gaming; at first just so that we'd spend time together, and then because I actually began to enjoy them!

The elements that make an enjoyable game for me are the art, the game play and above all, the story.  Recently released RPG game Ni No Kuni covers all those bases.  At first I was only intrigued by this game because of its association to my beloved Studio Ghibli, but I quickly found many other reasons to love it and play it obsessively.

Here are my top 5 reasons for why Ni No Kuni has taken over my life - and why maybe you should give it a chance too:

1. Excellent story: The game follows the adventures of Oliver, a young American boy who suddenly becomes an orphan after a tragic accident. Heartbroken, he's astounded when his tears falling onto his favourite stuffed toy transforms it into a magical fairy who transports him to another world.  There he must overcome a series of obstacles and fight an evil wizard in order to rescue... his dead mother?? The story of Ni No Kuni has all the classic fantasy elements: magic, strange creatures, a grand quest, dark lords and the trusted guide figure, which in this case is a fairy with a Scottish (?) accent and a lantern nose-ring.  By investing a lot of time in the beginning of the game into Oliver's backstory, players become invested in Oliver's desire to change his mother's fate.  As the game progresses, players watch as Oliver grows in power and courage as he gets closer to the final battle.

2. Beautiful art: There are scenes in this game where you feel more like you're watching a Studio Ghibli film rather than playing a game.  The characters' facial expressions, their movements and the amazing creativeness of the creatures created for the game are pure Ghibli.

3. Cute characters: A large part of the game is about collecting and battling with "familiars," or basically Pokemon-like creatures that you level up and feed ice cream and candy to increase their skills.  Many of the creatures are decidedly cute, fluffy and make funny noises like the Drongo below.  If you're a sucker for anything cute like me, then this will capture your attention.

4. Witty dialogue:  Many games feature flat, boring caricatures, but each character in this game has their own personality and back story.  The game also has a wry wit to it as characters poke sly jokes at each other and themselves in a way that makes it all feel more realistic.

5.  Simple enough for anyone to play: One thing that is daunting to me about most games is that they seem hard to pick up.  This game is a nice mix of challenging and easy game play elements.  It's very easy to pause any battle and catch your breath (which I do often) and there are also many tutorials along the way that tell you how to do things, like where the weak spots are on certain baddies.  All you have to do to fight, is to scroll through an options menu of moves and press 1 button!

These are the main reasons why I love Ni No Kuni, now I'd like to hear from any fellow players out there on what they think!  And also share if you're a female gamer too - there are more out there than we think!

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Could you be Aveda's next super stylist?

A good hair stylist is hard to find.  Trust me, I've been searching what seems like forever.  Wandering around various Vancouver salons, hoping to one day meet someone who's compatible, not going to make me go broke spending time with them, and who understands my needs.  Yes, a stylist is like a significant other. In  their skillful hands, one can gain freedom from a bad relationship, confidence for a new career move, or the catalyst for a year of high school that you'll call "character building" later.  The people behind those chairs work tirelessly to make you look good, so shouldn't we try to give back if we can?

Aveda Vancouver hair school is known around the world as a leader in environmentally conscious hair products and for their highly respected schools.  Many compete for spots at Aveda's schools and for the second year, they are opening their doors to us decide who is in, and who isn't, with its Born To Style contest!

If you're a budding stylist, all you have to do is make a video and make it go viral! Then all the rest of us have to do vote.

4 finalists each from Vancouver, Toronto, Winnipeg and Calgary will then be chosen to compete in local finals, where they will compete in a runway hair-styling showdown, with 1 finalist emerging as city champion and with full free tuition to their local Aveda hair school.

Curious to learn more?

Then check out this vid below to see how it all went down last year:

And don't forget to go to Born To Style to vote on your favourite stylist!

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Buy or Ditch: Cherlyn Skincare cleanser, cream and serum review

The Product
Last month I was given the opportunity to try out Vancouver skincare line, Cherlyn Skincare. Advertising itself as a 100% natural full beauty line containing no petroleum products, no artificial fragrances, and no parabens, Cherlyn Skincare claims that it contains only pure natural ingredients, without even preservatives!

Owned, operated and manufactured in Canada, the owner Cherlyn's mission through her line is to "nourish a woman's skin, body, mind, and heart... [believing] that every woman deserves to feel proud of how she looks, and remember that they are beautiful as they are, inside and out."  Intrigued, I was curious to see if the brand could live up to its lofty goal with their foaming cleanser, nightly serum and moisturizer.

The Guts
The big stars of the product line are of course all naturally derived ingredients.  The highlighted ingredients for each product are malic & tartaric acid for the cleanser, bilberry extract in the serum and willow bark for the moisturizer.  What all these ingredients equate to is basically beta and alpha hydroxy acids, which are common ingredients in anti-aging products and are used to exfoliate for smoother, more even skin.  Although BHA and AHA are known to be effective, the flip side of using them is that they increase your sun sensitivity by up to 50%, which can cause an endless cycle of sun damage, repair and sensitivity.

Price & Packaging
The cleanser is the cheapest of the three, ringing in at $38 for a 120 mL bottle.  The serum will cost you a whopping $109 for a 40mL bottle, while the cream costs $98 for 60g.  I received samples of each, so unfortunately I cannot comment on the packaging, but in my opinion, this line is way overpriced.  The price for the serum alone, is not worth it at all as I can pay almost half that for a similarly sized bottle of Kiehls serum, which I know is a proven win on my skin.  If Cherlyn Skincare is going to make any foothold in the beauty market, it will have to prove a stronger case financially against already established, and cheaper, brands.

After reading this section, you'll understand why I hate the pricing for this line so much, as I found it very drying.  Perhaps it's not meant for normal-dry skin, but if so, then it should not claim to be for all skin-types as it does online.  Here are some brief thoughts on how each product fared on my skin:

  • Cleanser: rinses clean with good foaming action and does a great job of taking off all your makeup.
  • Serum: although the bottle says to use a cotton ball for application, I found that it just soaked into my cotton ball and I had no product left to actually apply to my face! Now I just use my fingers to apply it, but I found it absorbed so fast, that it didn't feel moisturizing at all.
  • Cream: if applied liberally, the cream does seem to prevent my face from becoming totally parched and it's absorbed quite fast into the skin. There's little to no fragrance as well, which is nice.

Since every product is designed to exfoliate, I would not recommend using any additional exfoliator if you incorporate these products into your daily routine.  After 3 weeks I didn't notice any significant reduction in redness around my nose, or on my slight sun spots, so I think I'm inconclusive on the benefits it was able to provide on evening out skin tone.  I did however notice a slight reduction in oil as some days I just skipped powder entirely.

Ditch: not good for anything other than perhaps oily skin and the price point is too high for an unproven brand.

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#365outfit Challenge Week 47-48

Blouse: Club Monaco | Sweater: Urban Outfitters | Necklace: Olive + Piper 

Sweater: Joe Fresh | Jeans: William Rast | Booties: Forever 21 | Snood: gifted from Angela!

Scarf: H&M | Top: swapped | Chambray shirt: American Eagle | Necklaces: Guess, c/o of Uranium 

Dress: Forever 21 | Booties: Urban Outfitters | Eel-skin purse via Fine Finds | Cardigan: Aritzia

Sheer blouse: Urban Planet | Sweater cardigan: Urban Outfitters | Locket: Front & Co 

Floral blouse: TopShop | Shirt clips (aka clip-on earrings): Forever 21

Here's a few things that I'm loving recently: cardigan sweaters, booties, fine dining with girl friends, lounging on weekends playing Ni No Kuni, #cleaneating and sleep.

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