Indulge with Anjolee Fine Jewelry

I am a firm believer in the power of jewelry and that the right accessories can always elevate your look.  As with your wardrobe, it's always good to have a mix of high and low items in your jewelry box.  Investing in classics that you can wear when you're young or old and to formal or casual occasions are worth the price they may deem.  Similarly, padding your collection with more affordable trendy pieces guarantees you always look fresh.

When jewelry brand Anjolee contacted me to see if I'd like to try one of their pieces, I was thrilled.  I'd read about Anjolee on other blogs and had always admired their fine craftsmanship, elegant designs and the good reviews of their service.  Based out of San Diego, Anjolee began in 1977 and boasts over 35 years of jewelry making experience among its craftspeople.  If you're in the mood for diamonds, Anjolee should be one of the places you visit as they have a massive selection of diamond bracelets, ring, pendants and earrings; plus Anjolee only buys certified ethical diamonds as a follower of the US Kimberly Act.

After carefully perusing my options, I have to admit I was a little stumped as most of the rings Anjolee was offering were rather "wedding" focused, but eventually I decided to throw caution to the wind and get myself a faux wedding band which had caught my eye.

A scant 2 weeks later and I had received my ring, the Devoted Channel Set Eternity band, in cubic zirconia of course!  Upon opening the package I was immediately impressed with the quality of the box that Anjolee had provided with the ring.  It's really those little touches that always make you remember a brand and the pretty mahogany colored ring box Anjolee gave was just so perfect, I kinda felt like I should get down on one knee and propose to myself!




Now to the ring itself.  This beautiful eternity ring has a very simple and classic design, with a single row of stones ringing the band and bordered in a channel setting.  Even with just cubic zirconium  the ring glittered, so I can only imagine what a stunner this would be with diamonds.




This ring is available in a variety of yellow and white gold, as well as platinum and can accommodate up to 1.73 ct diamonds, which would be HUGE on my teeny fingers.  For the purposes of this review, my ring was silver.

Since this ring is very reminiscent of a wedding band, I knew when I wore this out I would want to "rough it up" a bit so that it wouldn't look so formal.  I often like to layer my rings as I think it gives an edgier look and also because some of my rings have gotten too big over the years so layering helps secure them onto my fingers!  I decided to pair my new stunner with a simple silver ring that is a favourite of mine:




So pretty right? Now you too can also get yourself a fancy sparkler from Anjolee with this special discount code just for Just J readers!  Simply enter MP591 at checkout to receive 5% off!


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36 days left of me time

I've been hemming and hawing about whether to say anything about this, but I feel I shouldn't be afraid to share the good news in my life, so I'm just going to say it!

I have a home.

You see, for the past few months Mr. Artist and I have been quietly house hunting!  It all happened back in late fall and we were walking the dog together when Mr. Artist grabbed my hand and swinging my arm like a little kid, he said, "We should get a house together!"  and that was that.

Finding a home certainly wasn't as easy as saying we should get a home.  There were some ups and downs along the way and frustrated moments when we were both just discouraged.  Although buying in Vancouver has become more affordable than in recent years and it was no longer necessary to buy a place sight unseen, the market was still one of the highest in the country.

Yet we persisted weekend after weekend and after seeing countless open houses, to the point where I couldn't recall which ones I'd visited or only viewed online, we finally found it.  Our little green house on a tree-lined street.  It wasn't perfect, but we could see it being home.

On real estate shows, they always make it seem like the most nerve-wracking part of the process is submitting the offer, but in reality it's not.  For me, the most nerve-wracking parts were all the parts after getting the accepted offer, such as getting the inspections done and figuring out all the financing.  I literally couldn't sleep for a week after putting in our house offer and would call up Mr. Artist in the middle of the night frantically punching calculations into our budget spreadsheet and hyperventilating.  These were the moments that I really appreciated his steadiness, although sometimes it also infuriated me that he wasn't freaking out too.

Finally though the deal was done.  Now could come the fun part! Kind of.  The next month will be a whirlwind of renovations, cleaning and moving.  Oh yeah, and I'm taking school while working during this too.  The next month is sure to be a fun ride, but it is one I'm eager to jump on, at least 95% of the time.

While visiting Ikea and discussing back-splashes with Mr. Artist is endlessly fun, a part of me is saddened to lose part of my independence.  I love living on my own and the freedom it brings.  I love coming home to a quiet night just to myself.  I love being able to go out as late, or have anyone over whenever I want.  I love being able to eat marshmallows for dinner if I want. Now that's going to end.  The benefits outweigh the bad for sure and I know this is a necessary change to get the future I want, but still.  I'm really going to miss those nights of Real Housewives marathons and painting my toe nails.


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SwimCo Summer Preview

Last month, I had the pleasure of escaping the dreary winter rain that enveloped Vancouver and stepped into a little oasis of the summer to come at the SwimCo Pack for Paradise fashion preview.  The evening was an intimate affair at the downtown Granville street location and was not full of too many familiar faces as there were a couple other events happening on the same night.  I have to boast though that if you went to any other fashion event that night, then you missed out because SwimCo seriously threw one of the best fashion event parties ever.  What made it feel so special was that they really put thought into the event and it wasn't just a "here's our stuff, now mingle and try not to eat the catering b/c you're a fashionista" type event.  The food was fabulous, there were free manis and hairdos being done and everyone got a very generous goodie bag to boot!  It all came together to fit the theme of getting away to a luxurious locale as guests were pampered and then treated to a live fashion show.

I have to admit, that before this I used to think SwimCo was just for moms wearing plain utilitarian one-pieces, but I'm happy to say I'm very mistaken.  SwimCo's current line boasts some very sexy bikinis, tankinis and one-pieces in all sorts of colors and patterns.  The highlight for me was the vintage style black polka-dot one-piece, but alas, I basically own it already except in red!










Besides swimsuits, SwimCo also offers some very versatile cover-ups, including their fabulous convertible dress, which can be worn in what seemed like countless variations!






All photos by me


Which SwimCo look is your favourite?


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Guest post on Cooper's Closet


Want to know what one of Spring's hottest trends is? Then check out my guest post today on Vancouver fashion blog, Cooper's Closet!



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Buy or Ditch: Physician's Formula Mineral Wear Talc-Free Face Powder review




The Product
After having finally used up my beloved MAC pressed powder, I was in dire need of a new face powder.  My requirements: cannot flake, long-lasting coverage, doesn't settle into pores, matches my skin tone.  Pretty basic requirements right, but finding that perfect match can actually be quite the process.  Often, face powders can settle into your pores, leaving with that "makeup" look, or if they don't settle, they are ineffectual and leave you with an oil slick in 2 hours. Enter Physician's Formula Mineral Wear Talc-Free Face Powder.  This mineral pressed face powder promises to blast away shine - without settling into lines and is formulated for all types of skin, even sensitive ones.

The Guts
The primary ingredients in this powder are:

  • Mica - a mineral that provides cosmetics with a white, pearly finish
  • Lauroyl Lysine - an amino acid derived from coconut oil that is used to soften skin
  • Silica - this mineral has a variety of functions in cosmetics, but I'm guessing that it's main function here is to absorb face oils
  • Squalane - an ingredient found in skin that helps to smooth and condition skin


Price & Packaging
For $13.99 (via Ulta), you'll receive a 0.3oz compact, which is pretty standard in my experience.  The clip top was easy to open (unlike some products!) and has a hidden compartment containing a mirror and brush, which is a huge plus when you're out and in need of a quick touch-up.

Effectiveness
A little goes a long way with this powder.  I wouldn't recommend swirling your brush in this compact, but instead use a light tapping motion to pick up product, otherwise you'll end up with a huge smattering of powder on your face.  I am using the Beige (or Sand Beige) tone and I find it to be just a hint darker than my skin at first, but it blends in seamlessly once I blend it out with my brush.  The finished result is matte, smooth skin.

The staying power on this powder is great.  It's only after a few hours that I notice any shine on my nose, or t-zone.  Of course, this could also be helped by the fact that it's winter, so I'll have to see how this powder fares in summer.

There are 7 shades in this line, but I have to say I'm a little disappointed at the color range, which goes from a somewhat ashy looking white, to a dark tan.  I think I've been tanned darker than the darkest tone of this powder, so I highly doubt it will work for all skin tones, judging by the shades depicted on the website.

Verdict
Great no fuss powder and is very affordable.  Limited shades though limit who can use this.



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Ora Handbags Spring 2013 preview

Last month I had the pleasure to attend the intimate Spring 2013 preview event for Ora Handbags.  Taking place at the chic Nouvelle Nouvelle boutique in Gastown, guests were treated post-work bevvies and an exclusive sneak peek at Vancouver designer Randi Obenauer's new creations.

Ora Handbags are characterized by their ability to look just as chic in the country, as in the city streets.  The line is entirely made with luxury leathers and each season always features a few pieces specially made with recycled leathers.  Vancouver Island born Obenauer's love of the sea and forested hills where she grew up infuses every piece she creates, yet her influences also include inspirations from her travels to Costa Rica, Hong Kong and Ireland.

This season, Obenauer seems to be inspired by festival style as fringe abounded everywhere, although she put an urban twist on it by pairing her fringed bags with a heavy chain strap.  Light cognacs and tan leathers against black was a common theme throughout, but for me the standout piece of the night was the camel bucket backpack.  Normally, I'm not a fan of backpacks as they remind me too much of the mini-backpack phase of the 90s, but when they come in buttery soft leather and can be worn as a backpack, or as a regular bucket bag, then I find my resistance melting away.

As guests of the party, we each received a goody bag containing Ora's signature leather pouches.  Each pouch contains a different crystal, which I'm sure is supposed to symbolize some sort of energy, but alas, the bag didn't come with an explanation.  At first I was skeptical over how to wear this pouch as all it reminded me off was Ser Davos' lucky finger pouch from Game of Thrones, but surprisingly this piece is quite chic when worn! I paired it with leggings and a white cable sweater and it instantly made my lazy outfit look a bit mysterious, in a "oo what does that lady have in her neck pouch?" Okay, maybe this only sounded good in my mind.

Ora bags are available online, or at various boutiques in Vancouver, Seattle and Victoria.






  All images by me.



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#365outfit Challenge Recap: the must-have items you need in your closet

In this #365outfit challenge recap, I'll share with you what I have learned are the must-have items for a versatile closet that will get you through the year always looking fresh and fabulous.  If you missed my previous #365outfit recap, you can check it out here.

Everyone thinks that to create a seemingly always new wardrobe, you need a seemingly never-ending supply of new clothes, but that's just not true.  While, you do need some amount of things, you do not need as many as you would think.  Contrary to popular belief, I didn't buy new clothes every week for this challenge, but I made it seem like I did with these 3 tricks:


1. Collect accessories

Accessories are the practical girl's best friend.  Any outfit immediately looks different with the right accessories.  Watches, bracelets, belts, rings, necklaces, earrings - all these items can be endlessly matched and combined to suit your mood.  Use belts to cinch in waists and to layer cardigans over longer layers to create a new look.  Wear a chunky chain necklace as a bracelet, or use earrings as brooches.  You don't need to spend a bunch to get a good accessory collection together either - most of my items come from vintage stores, Forever 21 and H&M.




2. Cardigans are the shit

Yes, I just made one of the most granniest statements of my life, but it is SO VERY TRUE.  One day I listed off the number of cardigans I own to Mr. Artist and he literally could not believe how many I have.  I have to admit to feeling a little ashamed myself, but I cannot help it - they are just so useful!

Cardigans are a necessity in Vancouver's temperate climate when autumn days can be become sunny and warm, while spring is downright schizophrenic with showers and sunshine within hours of each other.  Layering up on various thicknesses of cardigans ensures you're always prepared and it's a great way to wear your summer pieces in cooler temperatures.

Investing in cardigans that are in various colors and patterns are a fun way to dress up an otherwise plain outfit.  Simply throw on jeans, a tee, booties and a fun cardigan and you already look a little more fashionable!

I prefer my cardigans to have a longer, boyfriend-style length as it goes well with leggings and tights and offers more warmth than waist-length ones.   You can find cardigans just about anywhere, but my favourite places to buy ones have been Urban Outfitters and Mr. Artist's closet.  Never be afraid to raid a male's closet ladies!




3. Get thee some chambray

Since summer is coming, this is the perfect time to say that you need to get yourself a couple of quality chambray (or denim) shirts.  I resisted the allure of these for the longest time as I had visions of Canadian tuxedos dancing in my head, but once I finally decided to test the waters with my American Eagle one (see largest image below), I fell head over heels for it and now own 3 of various lengths and tones!

Like a good pair of jeans, this shirt style will go with anything.  They are of course ideal for summer, but also work well in winter layered under sweaters, with the collar peeking out.  Personally, I prefer the lighter blue versions as the dark denim still remains too "jean jacket" for me.  You'll want to buy these with a generous, but not overly large fit that allows you to knot it if you like, or wear casually open as a cardigan.




4. No outfit is complete without good shoes

Finally, my last tip is to take the time to collect a well-rounded shoe collection.  I don't mean to say that you need a huge one, but you do need a few essentials:

  • 2 good pairs of match-anything, wear-all-day-sandals
  • 2-3 pairs of ankle booties in black, grey and cognac to match all things
  • knee-high, black leather boots
  • 2-3 pairs of cute flats in various colors
  • 2 pairs of dressy heels in black and nude
  • 1 pair of menswear inspired shoes (think brogues, smoking slippers, loafers, etc.) - you'd be surprised how very feminine and versatile these shoes can be






And that's it! The essential list of items you need to get through 365 days and more looking perfect everyday!  If you have some tips you'd like to share, I'd love to hear them in the comments!


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Pattern obsession: Chevron

Leopard print, while still much beloved by myself, is so 2012.  This Spring, you need something fresh to get you out of your winter doldrums and what better way to do it than with a fabulous new print?  Lately, I've been finding myself especially drawn to the bold strokes of chevron.  Most often recognized from military wear, chevrons are also surprisingly fun and downright feminine when paired one after the other, similar to stripes.

As with stripes, you can play around with the color combinations and widths of chevrons to create an endless amount of variation.  What makes chevrons even more flattering than stripes though, is that their downward points actually kinda act to elongate your figure, which is perfect for curvy ladies! This slimming effect works best with thick, moderately spaced chevrons, but thin, closely spaced chevrons also look great and emulate zebra stripes - without being zebra stripes.

The only downside of chevron is that it can be surprisingly difficult to find pretty chevron items!  Obviously this is a travesty.  Many times, chevron seems to be incorporated into brightly colored tribal fabrics, which isn't quite the effect I'm promoting here, as I'm not into the Coachella look.  If you find any lovely chevron items, please share in the comments, but here are a few of my favourite chevron finds thus far:


Photo via my Pinterest, c/o The Glitter Guide


Photo via my Pinterest, c/o La Posh Style







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Buy or Ditch: Dove Nutritive Therapy Nourishing Oil Care conditioner



The Product
After getting my hair permed and making the switch to full-on high maintenance hair mode with daily curling and styling, my hair transformed from its usual slippery smooth self to being frizzy with straw-like ends.  Aghast, I knew I had to immediately rectify the situation and my normal fine-hair conditioner with its light touch just wouldn't cut it.

After hearing from Angela that Dove conditioners had worked wonders on her tresses, I decided to give Dove a try.  The Nutritive Therapy Nourishing Oil Care conditioner is specially formulated to eliminate frizz and bring life back to dry, damaged hair.  Besides being used as a regular conditioner, this product can also be a leave-in treatment.

The Guts
The top ingredients in this conditioner  (besides water) are:

  • Cetearyl alcohol - an emulsifying agent used to bind oils and water together
  • Dimethicone and Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine  - a run-of-the-mill moisturizing ingredient commonly found in hair conditioners
  • Hydrogenated coconut oil - another moisturizer
  • Behentrimonium Chloride - mild cleansing agent and also helps soften hair


Price & Packaging
Dove products are very affordable and this conditioner is no exception, at around $5 for 355mL.  My version of this product from Shoppers Drugmart differs from the one above as it is a squeeze tube, rather than a flip-top.  The only con about the squeeze tube packaging is that it's a little slippery in the shower when wet and the sharp edges of the tube can sure hurt if you're reaching out blindly for it like myself!

Effectiveness
I tested out this product for about 2.5 weeks, washing my hair every other day and conditioning each time.  To condition my hair, I normally leave it on in the shower for about 1-2 minutes before rinsing as I believe it helps the ingredients absorb better.  On each application, I used about 3cm of product (if you are using the flip-top version, than this amount might equate to a bit larger than a quarter) to cover my just above shoulder-length hair.  I should also note that my hair type is fine, so if you have thick, coarse hair, feel free to use more.

After the testing period, I have to say I'm quite happy with this product!  I love the thick, almost Shea buttery texture and it had a light, pleasant smell.  After washing, my hair immediately felt smoother and was totally tangle-free.  A couple weeks later and my hair felt noticeable softer, except at the very ends.  Love!

Verdict
Price + value = buy buy buy!



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2013 Engagement Ring Trends from Blue Nile

I've never been one of those girls who has fantasized about their future wedding.  I didn't have a "wedding binder" like on Friends, or visions of an elaborate ceremony with fountains and multi-tiered cake; in fact, I only started thinking about weddings at all just last year!  Blame it on the biological clock I suppose, but now I'm obsessed with looking at wedding Pinterest boards and obsessing over how my floral arrangements will match my silverware and bridesmaids' dresses!

Besides wedding decor and cake decorations, I've also begun looking into engagement rings.  It's amazing the amount of details you have to figure out for rings. I feel quite sorry for men having to figure it all out and so, I think the least that we women can do is to help our men out and narrow the options down a bit.

Luckily it's a lot easier to shop for rings now that there are tons of online options, with one of the most popular being Blue Nile. Since 1999, Blue Nile has helped countless couples find the perfect engagement and wedding rings for their style and budget.  Their easy to use "build your own ring" feature allows shoppers to create the perfect custom ring and the site also contains lots of helpful guides and tips on how to shop for and evaluate rings and diamonds.

For myself, I knew that I wanted something a little more interesting than a typical solitaire, but I had no idea what sort of options were out there.  Fortunately, Blue Nile helped me out by sending me their picks for the biggest engagement ring trends for 2013, all of which left me feeling a little breathless!  This year, engagement rings seem to be all about the buddy system, with every ring on this list featuring bands of diamonds running down the sides. Halo diamonds were also very popular, while twisted bands and splashes of gold provided unique twists on traditional settings.

Check out all the picks below and let me know which is your favourite!

 Diamond halo engagement ring in 14k white gold, $6064


 Monique Lhullier Trio Cathedral engagement ring, $1900


 Monique Lhullier Twist Trellis engagement ring, $3900


Monique Lhullier Double Halo engagement ring, $3000




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Goo goo for Gaya Handbags

Yes yes, I know I'm a sucker for cheesy titles, but with a name like Gaya, it seems hard to resist!  My love for Gaya handbags though, is all serious.  I'm really feeling some local pride for Vancouver's Wei Wei Chang, the designer behind Gaya.  Every season, Gaya's collections stand-out among the myriad of copycat handbag lines out there. 

This season is no exception as Gaya puts out another stellar line of fun, modern totes and shoulder bags.  Current "it" shapes like hexagons and lady satchels make their appearances in Gaya's spring options, but are revamped with bright teals, pinks and purples mixed and matched with carefree abandon.  Inspired by colour-blocking and Asian foliage, Gaya's Spring 2013 bags are a perfect way to add a feminine touch to the season's minimalist, mens-wear inspired pairings.

Check out the Gaya spring lookbook below and go to their website to find the nearest seller to you!








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