Wednesday, November 26, 2014

November Reading List & October Reviews

It's time for some reviews of my October reads! Here are my thoughts on the two books I read last month...

Modern Pick: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking (2012) by Susan Cain

In a Nutshell: Cain explores the bias against introverts in Western society by presenting a wealth of research and anecdotes that emphasize the disparity between the two personality types.

My Thoughts: As an introvert, I really loved Quiet -- I could totally identify with a lot of the points raised. I typically don't read non-fiction books very often, but this book was very accessible and not overly academic; I never felt I had to wade through it.

Would I Recommend It?: It's an obvious recommendation for introverts, but I'd love to hear an extrovert's thoughts on it, too...

Which do you consider yourself -- an introvert or extrovert? The basic difference is that introverts are comfortable in their own company, and need alone time to re-energize, whereas extroverts prefer being surrounded by other people and can feel drained when they're not around others. I think this cartoon really sums it up ;)

Classic Pick: Dracula (1897) by Bram Stoker

In a Nutshell: Transylvanian vampire Dracula decides to leave his castle in Eastern Europe to seek out fresh blood in England, where it's up to Professor Van Helsing and his friends to stop him.

My Thoughts: My interest in this book was piqued when I was in Dublin this past March -- we did a Ghost Tour around the city, and Bram Stoker (a native of the city) was mentioned frequently. Told through the diary entries and letters of the novel's protagonists, I found Dracula page-turning in parts (the first part is really good and scary), and fairly dense and heavy-going in others (some of those letters and diary entries were reallllly drawn-out). 

Would I Recommend It?: This is definitely not a light read, and I think I'd only recommend it if you love reading. Overall, it's a good story, though, and if you enjoy horror stories as much as I do, it's a book you kind of have to read at some point -- it's a classic of the genre. 

This past month, the books I've been reading (and will be reviewing next month) are:

Modern Pick: Shopaholic to the Stars (2014) by Sophie Kinsella

Sophie Kinsella is hands down my favourite chick-lit author, and I'm a huge fan of the Shopaholic series. In this latest instalment, Becky is in LA, and, as you can imagine, she gets up to all her usual antics...with an Angeleno twist!

Classic Pick: Agnes Grey (1847) by Anne Brontë

I love the "obvious" Brontë novels -- Charlotte's Jane Eyre and Emily's Wuthering Heights -- but I think Anne, the youngest and often overlooked sister, deserves some credit too. I really enjoyed The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, and I'm hoping that her other novel, Agnes Grey -- based loosely on her own experience as a governess to a wealthy family -- will be just as good.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

10 Items: Tartan

As you may know already, I'm a big fan of all things plaid, and this post got me thinking of the multitude of ways you can wear this seasonal trend. Here's a round-up of 10 fabulous check and tartan-inspired pieces -- which are your favourites?

1. Coat
Sea New York tartan plaid coat -

2. Sweater
McQ by Alexander McQueen knit sweater

3. Dress
FAUSTO PUGLISI black velvet mini dress -

4. Gloves
C Wonder glove

5. Scarf
Linea evening shawl -

6. Trousers
Vivienne Westwood Red Label slim fit wool pants -

7. Skirt
Oui mini skirt -

8. Shirt
Band of Outsiders red collared shirt -

9. Handbag
Tory Burch black handbag -

10. Heels
Lucy Choi London high heel pumps -

Monday, November 24, 2014

Five Favourite Shops: Pricy (But Amazing)

Over the past few weeks, I've shared my five favourite budget-friendly stores; five pricier/mid-range favourites that have great sales; and my five favourite shops from the UK and Ireland. (You can check out those posts here). Today, I thought I'd share, in no particular order, five of my favourite pricy favourites -- the kind of places that I could go crazy in if money were no object. 

1. Anthropologie
Vicky and Claudia aren't the biggest fans of Anthro (they think it's pretentious), but I love it. Love, love, love it. They really know how to suck me in with their dreamy, ethereal catalogues and their impeccably boho-chic store design. The few pieces I own from here were all bought on sale (because no matter how beautiful something from Anthropologie is, I don't have the budget to justify buying it full price), but let's be honest: the full price stuff is just so much more alluring. 

2. Kate Spade
Ah, Kate Spade just knows me. She knows what I love: bright colours, bows, polka dots, pretty stationery, the odd bit of glitter... Definitely pricy, but pure preppy, girly heaven. Their outlet stores are fantastic -- at the one in Vegas I was able to score this beautiful lemon-yellow handbag at a quarter of the original price. 

3. Club Monaco
If I had to describe this Toronto-born chain in one word, it would be "sophisticated." Normally, I'm big into colour and pattern, but there is something so refreshing about stepping into the peaceful, immaculately appointed haven of a Club Monaco store, with its crisp, understated-chic pieces in muted tones. Also: I love that every item has a name! (I was totally nearly tempted to buy a skirt once because it was "called" Ali).

4. Ted Baker
This British brand strikes the perfect balance between feminine and cool, and their pieces are just so beautiful -- great colours, fabulous prints, lovely detailing. But when you do the conversions...eeeee they're so expensive! Sigh. 

I'm big into dresses, and BCBG gives great (albeit $$) dress. I recently browsed the summery dresses they had on sale, and was overcome with an intense craving for warm weather (and this is coming from someone who is typically in her element in November). Damn, those dresses are magical. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Lipstick of the Week: Elizabeth Arden Cinnamon

What do you guys think of metallic lips? So far out they're back in again? Or not quite yet ready for a comeback? As a firm fan of the matte lip, it took me a while to warm up to this frosty look, but I actually think I kind of like it... It feels quite festive this time of year, and hey, any lip product with a bit of a shine to it is infinitely more lip enhancing/plumping than its matte sister. I think the key to pulling it off without looking dated is to pair it with a simple eye -- if you are going with eyeshadow, keep it matte (metallic eye plus metallic lip = overload). 

This Elizabeth Arden shade is definitely not one I'd wear year-round, but it feels appropriate for autumn/winter (I think the fact it's called "Cinnamon" may have a lot to do with it!). 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Give Me the Slip

Last autumn, I fell in love with this silky little slip skirt from Zara, but balked at the steep price tag. Fast forward a few months, and I was able to snag it in the post-Christmas sales (it was the last one on the rack and just so happened to be in my size...score!!). 

I'm a big fan of that whole boudoir-chic trend, and I love how surprisingly versatile this little skirt is -- I like to brighten it up with this powder-blue shirt, but I'm also fond of pairing it with a dark blazer to make it more formal, or a big, chunky sweater for a casual look.

Shirt - Forever 21
Skirt - Zara
Tights - Gap
Boots - Steve Madden
Lipstick - Posh Pink (Lancôme) 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Ultimate Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie

While I've been known to devour a whole bag of Haribo in one sitting and have a lifelong addiction to Cadbury Buttons, I'd still probably classify myself as a savoury rather than sweet person (I'll take a slice of pizza over a slice of cake any day). However, despite my general preference for junk food of the salty variety, I can always make room for a good chocolate chip cookie or two (preferably served all warm and melty, straight from the oven). 

Because I don't really have a tried-and-true recipe for the perfect chocolate chip cookie, I'm always trying out new ones (and by "always" I mean maybe once a year), and my latest baking enterprise has been testing out this recipe I found in an old copy of InStyle, for Dorie Greenspan's Ultimate Chewy Cookie. As I've been known to (severely) burn cookies in the past, I kept an extra vigilant watch on this batch, and thankfully they turned out perfectly! I wouldn't exactly describe them as "chewy" per se, but they did have a nice bite to them and the crunchy, salty walnuts really balanced out the sweet gooeyness of the chocolate chips. 

The recipe supposedly yields 45 cookies, but I ended up with 26 in total -- I guess it all depends on how big you make them (mine turned out pretty average-sized though). I read that tossing a slice of bread into an airtight container with your cookies keeps them fresh for idea how true that is, but it's definitely worth a shot!

{Have all this? Then you're good to go!}

{Chocolatey, walnutty goodness!}

Monday, November 17, 2014


For someone who had to wear a kilt every day throughout high school (and even at one of my jobs for a whole summer), you'd think I'd be sick to death of all things tartan by now. But nope, not me! My love for this cosy classic is still going strong, and has only increased over the past few months, what with the plenitude of plaid-inspired pieces around. While plaid shirts have always been an autumn/winter staple, it seems that this year, more than ever, the design has found its way onto everything from skirts to scarves and trousers to coats. 

While the only tartan I currently have in my wardrobe is this shirt (I love the lace detailing on the shoulders), I'm on the look-out for the perfect plaid scarf...and I wouldn't be averse to a skirt, either. The hunt is on! 

What are your thoughts on this tartan trend? Love it, hate it, indifferent to it?

Plaid shirt - Winners
Leather skirt - Forever 21
Necklace - Aldo
Boots - Steve Madden
Lipstick - Ruby Woo (MAC)