Dresses for Alison

This weekend was a pretty hectic one: I moved, my best friend moved, my boyfriend moved, I ran a 10k race at some point, and cleaned more nooks and crannies than I ever care to re-imagine. Despite all that, I actually feel pretty good, though there is certainly enough unpacking left to change that.

Moving onto my post. One of my favorite bloggers and a source of inspiration for my blog has laid her blog to rest in the last week. DressesForJulie completed the No-New-Clothes challenge in 2013, and was a constant supply of positive energy and style. Like most other fashion-conscientious people, I was in awe at her ability to exhibit such self-control for such a long period of time. I really believe that following someone who successfully completed the challenge was really a great source of motivation, and I also learned a trick or two (such as the using the Stylebook app) from her.

In a sort of “tribute” to her blog, I have decided to wear my 10 favorite dresses for the next 10 days. Thanks for your wonderful posts, Julie! Your witty sense of humor will be missed 🙂

Day 1:

IMG_7582White/black dress: H&M | Pastel-green lace cardigan: Forever 21 | Pink waist-belt: Forever 21 | Black Flats: Target

Day 2:

IMG_7592Pink dress: Old Navy | Black/white/tan belt: Forever 21 | Black cardigan: Forever 21 | Tan/brown shoes: DSW | Lipstick: Tarte “Watermelon”

IMG_7577Post 10k…looking tired after 6.2 miles on Sunday.

XO

Ulta Beauty Haul

I recently received my Ulta 20% off everything coupon…which apparently translates to an enormous beauty haul. This coupon was good on nearly every item in the store, including items (such as palettes) that are usually coupon-exempt. Tack that onto some already amazing deals (such as BOGO drugstore cosmetics), and you get the following:

IMG_7467Nail Polishes:

Butter London Nail Polish in Pistol Pink
Butter London Nail Polish in Pimms
Free Boho Wristlet (Ulta-exclusive)

I’ve been wanting to experiment w/ Butter London nail polishes for a while now, and this buy-two-get-a-free-bag was simply too much temptation to resist.

IMG_7471 copyLipstick junkie? Check.

Lipsticks:

Tarte Amazonian Butter Lipstick in Watermelon
Maybelline Color Sensational Vivids Lipcolor in Neon Red
NYX Butter Lipstick in Sweet Tart
L’Oreal Colour Riche Colour Caresse in Fiery Veil
L’Oreal Colour Riche Colour Caresse in Velvety Fuchsia
Maybelline Color Sensational Color Whisper Lipcolor in Pin Up Peach
Covergirl LipPerfection Lipcolor in Soulmate
Covergirl LipPerfection Lipcolor in Darling
Maybelline Color Sensational Lipliner in Clear

Apparently I felt there were a few gaps in my lipstick collection, and naturally had to fill those in. The swatches below are in the same order as above.

IMG_7478Eyes:

It Cosmetics Naturally Pretty Vol. 1 Matte Luxe Transforming Eye Shadow Palette

I chose this palette over the Naked3 Palette by Urban Decay, because I liked the matte finish and I felt there was a bit more variation in the color-choices. Plus, I already have the Naked2 and still use it regularly.

IMG_7488What beauty items are you craving this season?

XO

Montreal: Days 3-5

If you missed my first post about Montreal, you can visit it here!

Day 3: Cafe Imagination, Biodome, Notre Dame Basilica & the Metro

Cafe Imagination – Breakfast and Deli-Style Fare

This was a convenient location as it was adjacent to our hotel, and I would highly recommend it. We were expecting just your average cafe food, but their menu was quite extensive and the food was chock full of flavor and fill. I had a delicious chai tea latte w/ an open-faced avocado sandwich and salad.

Biodome – Indoor Aviary, Fish, Amphibians, and Other Critters of the Americas

Pictured above: Northern Rockhopper Penguin, Common Sea Star, Atlantic Sturgeon (giant fish), North American Porcupine (sleeping/hiding his face), River Otter, Southern Two-Toed Sloth (hanging behind the V-shaped branch), & Yacare Caiman (reptile)

When we went to Montreal, I knew I wanted to go to at least one of the following: Montreal Tower (tallest inclined tower in the world), Olympic Stadium (1976), Botanical Gardens, or Biodome. We chose the Biodome as it was still a bit chilly (the gardens had not bloomed fully) and we both are creature-lovers. It was C$18.75 ea. The entire place is not huge, but it was simple enough to leisurely walk around and take pictures. Also, I love otters, they’re so stinking adorable, especially when they show off!

IMG_0109Because we took a taxi to the Biodome, we were several miles from where we wanted to go. We found a metro station close by, and I rode the subway for the first time ever! It was actually quite simple once we got on. I was nervous we would end up on the other side of Montreal, but we checked a map and made our way to the Notre Dame Basilica, and then back to the hotel!

Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal

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The Notre-Dame Basilica…what to say? There aren’t really words to describe the astounding beauty when you walk through the door. For a mere C$5 each, we were able to walk about freely for as long as we wanted. There is an optional tour as well, which is included in the cost. We hopped on our tour about half-way through, and I’m glad we did. I didn’t even know there was a separate chapel in the back.

A couple of things I found interesting:

  • the stained glass windows actually depict religious history from Montreal, instead of scenes from the Bible
  • the main organ, dated 1891, has over 7,000 pipes and 92 stops
  • the original chapel (the lighter-colored room) was burnt down via arson in 1978, and was rebuilt w/ old drawings and photographs, with an enormous bronze statue front and center
  • Canadian singer Celine Dion was married in the main hall in 1994 (a little bit of pop-culture for you)

If you do nothing else in all of Montreal, visit the Basilica. I promise you, whether you’re religious or not, it’s beauty is nearly unmatched.

Dinner @ a Nearby Hotel & Poutine

Ryan and I were so exhausted from walking around nearly all morning and afternoon, that we decided to stop at a nearby hotel’s restaurant w/ classic cuisine. Ryan finally got to try poutine, which is a classic Canadian dish. It’s basically french fries, with gravy and cheese curds on top. Being a vegetarian, I only ate the fries that were untouched (few), but Ryan loved it! We got gelato for dessert.

IMG_7301Day 4: Nocochi Cafe, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Underground Shopping District, and Bellagio Ristorante

Nocochi Cafe – Known for their Weekend Brunches, Pastries and Art-Gallery Environment

I have to say, I was looking forward to this place all week long. Weekend brunch, who doesn’t think that sounds amazing? I knew the prices were going to be a little steeper than I am comfortable with, but since it was our last day, we decided to splurge. I wish I could say that the portions made up for it, but they were actually pretty small. The service was very slow too for the amount of people that were in this narrow restaurant. Regardless, the food was still tasty, and I finally caved and had a dessert-like item for breakfast: chocolate, hazelnut, and banana crepes, w/ a mimosa.

IMG_7313 IMG_7316Sorry the picture is a little gross, but it definitely made up for it in flavor. Mmm!

Museum of Fine Arts (Musee des Beaux-Arts)

This was about a block away from Nocochi, and is free of charge (apparently the policy has changed and now it’s only free of charge to those less than 30 years old…strange). They had a mix of contemporary and classic art, with some personal favorites of mine being their Picasso collection.

I wasn’t really sure if I was allowed to take any pictures, but I managed to snag one colorful one:

IMG_7320IMG_7321^^Us posing outside the museum on our last day 🙂 I’m sporting my tourist-y Montreal zip-up (since I forgot to bring my coat).

Underground City – 20 miles of underground shops, businesses, apartments, hotels, banks, universities, etc.

I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted from the underground city, but I knew we had to go see it. It has a ton of entrances, both from the street and from the metro stations, with one of the most popular shopping areas’ access points near our hotel: Place-des-Arts. We spent the majority of the day touring the various shops and restaurants/cafes, and I did buy a few things at the store called Reitmans :/ It has come out of my “spendable money,” but it was a decent chunk: $80. I got a minty-green sweater, a pair of dark gray jeggings, and a super cute pastel flower necklace. I wore it the day we got back:

IMG_7350 IMG_7353Bellagio Ristorante – Italian Fare

We finished off our last meal in Montreal w/ a fancy Italian dinner at Bellagio Ristorante. We even got dressed up for the occasion 🙂 The food was pricey, but good. I feel kind of neutral about the recommendation, you could go, but you could probably find several other Italian options at a better price. I got one of my favorite desserts, however: tiramisu!

IMG_7326Sorry about the quality of the pic. We didn’t want to draw attention to ourselves by using the flash.

IMG_7327Day 5: Flew Home

The only thing worth mentioning about the flight home was the Montreal airport. We didn’t get a chance to truly appreciate its size when we landed, but man is it huge. Also, if you are flying back into the U.S., you actually go through customs IN Montreal. You fill out your declaration forms, go through the customs agents, and when you land back in the U.S., you are free to go wherever–no long wait lines.

All that being said, I’m glad we got to the airport 3 hours early, as it took a little while.

That’s my trip, in a (sort-of) nutshell 🙂

XO

Spring Textures

White skater dress
$25 – delias.com

Victoria s Secret PINK boyfriend shirt
$50 – victoriassecret.com

H M lined jacket
$25 – hm.com

Zara 5 pocket pants
$50 – zara.com

H&M slimming shorts
$13 – hm.com

Aéropostale distressed shorts
$22 – aeropostale.com

Laced boots
$25 – newlook.com

Silver umbrella
$30 – modcloth.com

Brown Leather-Look Holdall Bag
$42 – newlook.com

Zara Home flower box
$60 – zarahome.com

IMG_7511
Floral accent top: Charlotte Russe | Khaki-green skinnies: H&M | Nude pumps: DSW
IMG_7513XO

Inspiration Desperation

You may or may not have noticed that I haven’t posted too much on the fashion-front lately, at least about my new-clothes challenge (fail). I have hit a lull in my inspiration. I feel like I have a million ideas about beauty or lifestyle-related posts, but living out of boxes and the busyness of life seem to get the better of me when it comes to finding something interesting to wear.

I am determined not to let the weight of this challenge get to me. Lately, I have been battling this “I have nothing to wear” mentality, and it’s amplified by the fact that I can’t just go out and buy something new to have a temporary fix. I am completely committed to this blog and want to see it continue to grow and maybe even inspire others, so I will do my best to push through this drab-period, and give you something interesting to read. Thanks for sticking with me 🙂

Some OOTD’s for last week:

IMG_7420

Floral dress: Target | Mint belt: Forever 21 | Mint shoes: Macy’s | Mint watch: Charlotte Russe

IMG_7399Flower-burst top w/ tie-waist: NY&Co. | Black skinnies: H&M | Navy heels: DSW

I’m tired of doing bathroom selfies, so my next goal is to figure out how to take more interesting shots with my new camera.

What do you do when you need a wardrobe pick-me-up?

The Empties: April Edition

Welcome to my first ever empties post! I’ve been ruthless in my consolidation of items I actually want to pack up and bring to my new apartment this Friday. In doing so, I found several items are almost-empty or just not worth hanging onto, therefore I have collected them for the purpose of deciding: buy it or boot it?

20140419-132810.jpgDove Intensive Repair Shampoo and Conditioner | Sephora Felt-Tipped Liquid Eyeliner | Suave Dry Shampoo | Tresemme Heat Protectant-Spray | Beauty Protector Protect and Detangle

Dove Intensive Repair Shampoo and Conditioner: this is my fallback S/C combo. In between all my trials of new products and brands, this one always makes a comeback. Why? Habit and consistency. My hair feels stronger and healthier using these than most others I have tried (which haven’t been a lot). It smells nice w/o being overpowering. Maybe it’s also mental. The word repair seems like a better word choice than some other marketing pitches: blonde-enhancing, scent, color-correcting, etc. My hair is naturally a little course, and I haven’t noticed a complete difference in smoothing texture. Regardless, I’d buy it again and again. My hair loves it.

Sephora Felt-Tipped Liquid Eyeliner in Brown: I have to start off by declaring my love for felt-tipped eyeliners. However, I’m somewhat surprised by my repurchase of this one in the past, because it streaks pretty easily. I have purchased it again in the waterproof version, and I’m hoping that that will make the difference to keep it under my buy it list.

Suave Dry Shampoo: this is the first dry shampoo I have tried. In all honesty, I could go three days without washing my hair before it starts to show–my scalp stays that dry. However, I typically wash my hair ever 1-2 days. On days where I’ve straightened or curled it the night before, I’ll spray some of this at the roots to give it a lift and to absorb oil in one or two spots. I have to say though, I am not a fan of the smell anymore. It has such a distinctive, strong smell, I can tell when complete strangers are using it. I don’t want that to be the case with me, so I am going to go with boot it. There are better options out there, and I just got a bottle of Bumble & Bumble’s Pret-a-Powder I’m excited to try!

Tresemme Keratin Smooth Heat Protectant-Spray: I love this spray. I use it almost every time I straighten or curl my hair. It’s been my rock for years. It smells great w/o being overpowering, somewhat like freshly shampooed hair. It also leaves my hair feeling soft and appearing shiny after the heat application. I’d buy it again, but I also love the following…

Beauty Protector Protect and Detangle: this was my first deluxe sample I got in my Birchbox subscription. If you don’t know what Birchbox is, it’s a $10 monthly subscription where you get a box full (usually 4-6 items) of beauty products. It’s fun if you want to try something new, but don’t know where to start. This protectant spray is actually more of a cream-base, like a leave-in conditioner, than a liquid base (like the Tresemme). It leaves my hair feeling smooth and fresh for days after just one use. Buy it. I promise you won’t be disappointed. This is the main product I was sad to see run out. I plan on ordering a full-sized bottle, but I just got a new deluxe sample from”OI/All In One Milk” from that I plan on trying first.

Have a great week! XO

This is why I can’t have nice things…

I have noticed lately that I REALLY need a new purse. Like…really. Not like I’m bored with the one that I have and just want something new…

IMG_7446I started using this brown bowler-bag-style purse last fall when it was brand new. As you can see, the zipper pouch has completely pulled away from the purse, there are two separate holes (not counting the one I already sewed up) in the bottom, the zipper has fallen off for the 3rd time, and then there are the usual signs of external wear.

Maybe it’s the quality of the purses I buy (this one is from Forever 21), or maybe I just abuse the crap out of them. I mean, a purse isn’t just a purse anymore–it’s a personal survival kit! At any given time I have: chapstick, antibiotic ointment, a mirror compact, a lighter (I don’t even smoke!), headphones, a makeup bag, various lipsticks, a mini hairbrush, my wallet, a pack of gum, lotion, sunglasses, keys, perfume, a mini-nail kit, and jewelry. Yes, that is an exact inventory of what I just checked was currently in my bag.

82212_35521-hamilton-signature-satchel-vanilla_largeI’ve been obsessed with Michael Kors purses in the last year. It all started when I walked into the MK store on 5th Ave. in NYC last July. I don’t own many designer-label items, nor can I afford such a luxury right now in my life. I considered impulse buying this beaut before my no-new-clothes challenge started last September, but I just couldn’t bring myself to face the price tag: $298, ick.

While going through the remaining skeletons in my closet that were once purses, I realized something: I can’t have nice things, purses at the least. As evidenced above, I just don’t treat them well enough. I would go out and buy a new one today if I wasn’t already (confession) negative in my “spendable-money.” Le sigh. Guess this one’s going on my wish list.

XO

Montreal: Days 1-2

First off, I have a small victory to share: I reached 50 followers! I am thankful for each and every one of you 🙂 I never thought people would be that interested in what I had to say, but every day you inspire me to share more and more. I would like to do a fun giveaway when I reach 100, so stay tuned!

Montreal Overview

Now onto Montreal! I always have a difficult time figuring out how to sum up a trip. Ryan and I were originally looking to have a “relaxing” vacation. We almost just rented a small cabin in Central Ohio, but the travel-bug in me always thirsts to experience new places. We settled on Montreal because of proximity, renowned culture, and affordability. I’ve also never been to a French-speaking location before, despite having taken 3 years of French in high school. I could not believe how every. single. person. seemed to be completely fluent in both French and English. That was really a wow-factor for me. I was able to recognize some phrases and vocab, but was thankful for the bilingual convenience.

Day 1: Flight, Martinis, and Lola Rosa Cafe

20140409-223213.jpgIt started off w/ a pretty normal travel day. We bought 1-day bus passes on arrival and were taken to the drop-off location “near” our hotel, which ended up being a half mile of suitcase towing and no phone data to assist. Once we settled into our hotel, we got half-priced martinis in the hotel restaurant/lounge.

I will start off my description of our trip with the word tasty. Wow, I seriously had some of the best food of my life. I’m not a full-blown foodie, but I love trying new things. Everything was delicious. Everything. I am not one to take pictures of my food and post it all the time, but I am going to make several exceptions in this case.

Lola Rosa Cafe – Vegetarian Cuisine

If I had one recommendation of where to eat in Montreal, it would be this cozy little place about a block from the heart of McGill University. It serves all vegetarian food, with vegan options if you don’t consume milk or eggs. There is NO lack of flavor or fill though. I left completely stuffed after consuming this bad boy:

thumb_600This burrito was about 3+ inches in diameter and was full of black beans, corn, tomato, cilantro, mozzarella, sweet potatoes, spicy sour cream, green onions and jalapenos, all washed down with L’Alchimiste Pilsner Blonde. Whether or not you’re vegetarian, this is a place you simply cannot miss, with plenty of options for everyone. In addition to the amazing food, our table was actually a little desk with drawers on either side stuffed with love-notes, math homework, jokes, poems, etc. It was a fun little treat to find (and I’m assuming the other tables have the same). We didn’t have a pen to add to the collection though…

Note: make reservations if you do go, as we got one of the last unreserved tables for the evening around 5.

Day 2: Pikolo Cafe, Acropolis Ouzerie, and Casino de Montreal

IMG_7364Please ignore my uncoordinated scarf/sweater combo. It was around this time that I realized I forgot to bring my coat, and so I suffered for a day or two until I bought a little fleece zip-up in a souvenir shop.

Pikolo Espresso Bar – College/Hipster Cafe

Nothing crazy special here. Ryan and I stopped in here on Thursday morning to get a cappuccino and some croissants. I was immediately uncomfortable because it was like standing in a hallway. It was shoulder-to-shoulder and there were no tables available, even in their little alcove-section upstairs. Everyone had computers or study materials out, and as we left I wondered how they would get anything done. They also dropped our ticket on the floor, so we ended up waiting 10-15 minutes before they realized they had not got us anything. I guess it happens.

Acropolis Ouzerie – Greek/Seafood Cuisine

This little gem was completely empty when we went in for lunch. The place had a very authentic vibe w/ beautiful natural lighting and additional seating in the upstairs alcove. The owner was our waiter, and while we enjoyed talking with him at first, he became increasingly chatty throughout the meal, passionately going-on about politics, the economy, family, religion, anything. He was a sweet man, but it made for a slightly distracting lunch.

The food, however, is another story. It was delicious! I got a veggie-pita w/ lettuce, tomato, onion, and big herb-covered blocks of feta cheese. It also came with Greek potatoes, rice and a salad. The price is a little higher than I like paying for Greek food, but the portions are enormous. I made it through about half of my meal and a Mythos beer.

Casino de Montreal – 100’s of game tables & 1000’s of slot machines

IMG_7366Call me a newb, but this was the very first time I have ever set foot inside a casino. We read a lot of bad reviews calling the place outdated, workers rude, the food bad, etc. Because of all this negativity, we almost didn’t go. I am SO glad we did though, because it was a blast and completely worth it. We didn’t have one bad experience with a worker, the food was fine, and as far as I could tell, the place was completely modern.

The casino is 6 floors, with a big opening in the middle so you can see onto almost every other floor. There are several bars scattered throughout and four sit-down or a-la-carte style restaurants on the top floor, each with views of the city/water. A live band was taking requests for both French and English songs, and the lighting/hum of the slot machines was exhilarating.

Ryan dabbled in the live roulette-tables, while I favored the slot machines. Neither one of us are big gamblers, so we did it mostly for fun. I gambled no more than $20 (call it the conservative-accounting side) and Ryan $40. I ended up being down $10 towards the end of the evening, made it all back in one pull, called it quits, and walked away $0.34 richer…though we spent about $80 between the drinks and food. Ha. Only on vacation…

Note: the casino pic is a stock picture.

Sorry for the loooong update. More coming soon 😉

Back in the States

Well folks, I’m back! The first post is always the hardest once you’ve been out of your blogging routine for a while, so, I decided to get it over with tonight!

I will be blogging about various aspects of my trip to Montreal as the week progresses, but for tonight–just random stuff.

First off, the only outfit of the day captured last week:

20140409-223051.jpgPurple waffle-knit cardigan: H&M
Gold belt: Forever 21
Pink v-neck tee: Target
Black jeggings: Target
Black pumps: Target
Gold bracelet and earrings: DSW

Next, some furniture-posing:

20140409-223104.jpgRyan (my bf) and I also managed to get some furniture browsing in last week. We are looking for a sectional, but haven’t purchased anything yet. I love this cream-colored tunic from Forever 21, but it’s got that recurring problem I have with so many items in my wardrobe. 1. It’s too short to wear to work, and 2. it looks silly with regular pants. Leggings have their time and place in a professional environment, but it has to be done carefully and comfortably. I wouldn’t be comfortable in this case.

Lastly, spring cleaning has hit my group of girl friends, and my dear friend Toni gave me THREE brand new pairs of jeans from American Eagle! Thanks love!

20140409-223123.jpgThere are two pairs of boot-cut jeans and one pair of skinnies. The skinnies don’t exactly hit her and I (5’2″ and 5’8″, respectively) the same, so the last one will have to be rolled into capris 🙂 But hey, I’ll find a way to make a free pair of jeans work. I brought one of the pairs with me to Montreal and wore it at least half the time while I was there!

XO

March Obsession: Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick in Nectar

This Bobbi Brown shimmer brick in “Nectar” has been on my radar since Christmas. I’ve been dipping my toes slowly into the world of high-end designer makeup, but I am not going to pretend that I can afford to buy it all the time. I had to really work up the courage to spend $42 on this, but at least I loved it when I got it 🙂

20140406-223910.jpg 20140406-223901.jpgThe brick is made up of 5 “colors” though I’m hesitant to use the word color because there isn’t a lot of color-transfer, nor is there supposed to be. In one word, it just “glows.”

20140406-223919.jpgThis is an unedited photo of me wearing the shimmer on my cheeks. Even my boyfriend made a comment when we went to dinner afterwards that my face had a healthy glow to it! Ha 🙂 So I guess it does its job. I am in love with it. I used it everyday in March and it is by far my favorite item to reach for in my makeup bag!

I have a HUGE beauty haul coming after I get back from Montreal. I got a 20% off entire purchase coupon at Ulta (which for ONCE you can use on things like Naked Palettes and other goodies that usually are exempt from coupons!) and a 15% off entire purchase at Sephora. Needless to say I used both and they are en route!

Is there a beauty item you can’t live without?