Extra Luxe Holiday Gift Guide

‘Tis the season to be fan-ceh! Channel your inner Elizabeth Taylor and give your besties and favourite family members presents that ooze luxury. Or get them for yourself, because it’s been a crazy year and you totally deserve it.

1 // Hudson Bay – 1940s Striped Wool Camp Blanket

I don’t think there’s anything more indulgent than curling up under a cozy blanket with a glass of wine and the person you love. Unless maybe said blanket is crafted out of 100% wool and has an iconic, ultra-chic Hudson Bay striped print.

2 // Charbonnel & Walker – Milk Sea Salt & Caramel Truffles

Sweet and salty is my absolute favorite flavour combination and this luxurious truffle box is the front runner when it comes to indulgent treats. The perfect blend of caramel, creamy chocolate and sea salt, these are dangerous and it’s easy to eat the whole box in one go.

3 // Archipelago Botanicals – Fragrance Diffuser

Fragrance is (obviously) very important to me. As our sense of smell is intrinsically linked to our memories and emotions, home fragrance can really have a big impact on your life and overall well-being. This elegant diffuser disperses beautiful essential oils throughout your home, creating a mood that uplifts, energizes, or relaxes you, depending on your mood.

4 // Crabtree & Evelyn – Pear & Pink Magnolia Deluxe Gift Set

I absolutely adore running myself a hot, luxurious bath at the end of an exhausting day. This gift set comes with everything one needs to give themselves some much needed pampering. Plus the sweet floral scent of pear and pink magnolia is absolutely to die for. It’s like a spa day in a box.

5 // Olivia von Halle – Lila Crystal Pink Silk Pyjama Set

Think that satin PJs are too indulgent? You’ll be whistlin’ a different tune after you run your fingers along this buttery soft lavender pyjama set. Plus, look how pretty! If Audrey Hepburn was a pair of pyjamas, she would be these.

6 // Virgin Wines – Bordeaux Duo in Wooden Gift Box

There are a few things in life we can never have too much of: love, laughter, friendship and bottles of wine. Wine is one of the true loves of my life and I’m sure if you’re reading this you are nodding your head in agreement. Bad day, good day, wine just gets me. So give your favorite person this delicious Bordeaux duo to show just how much you care. If you love someone enough to share your wine, there is no greater love.

7 // Byredo – Bibliothèque Candle

This ultra-chic candle from everyone’s favorite perfume brand encapsulates the smoky, mysterious smell of a library. With sultry notes of violet and leather, this bad boy is just the thing to set the mood and make your most stylish friend’s day.

8 // Chanel – Coco Mademoiselle Eau de Parfum

The fresher, more fabulous version of the original Coco perfume, this oriental gem is an oldie but goodie. With crisp florals such as orange blossom and jasmine alongside juicy citrus fruits and earthy patchouli and vetiver, this energetic yet elegant scent is the perfect balance between masculinity and femininity. And let’s face it, everyone needs more Chanel in their life.

9 // La Mer – Crème de la Mer

I’ll be honest – this sh*t ain’t cheap. But if you want to glow like the moon and age as freakishly slowly as J.Lo (a loyal fan), then invest in a jar of this miracle cream, infused with all of the best essences of the sea. And if you really, really love them, snag a jar for your most treasured fellow beauty fiend.

10 // Philips – Viva Compact Pasta Maker

Much like pizza and wine, I’ve never met a bowl of pasta I didn’t want to immediately stuff my face with. Pasta is even better (like much, much better) when it’s homemade. This sleek little gadget makes it super easy to create delectable homemade noodles in no time. Your foodie friend will go gaga for it and you can benefit by sneaking over for dinner whenever they feel like using it. Win-win.

xoxo,

Alicia

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What to Pack For a Caribbean Holiday

carribean-holiday-clothes

I don’t know about you guys, but I am sick to death of winter. I’m over all of it – the snow, the cold, the short, dark days, everything. I am pretty much counting down the days until the first day of spring. That being said, I really shouldn’t complain too much because at the beginning of February I was fortunate enough to be able to go to Montego Bay, Jamaica with my boyfriend. Before this trip, I had never been anywhere tropical or hot. I also had never been anywhere during the winter. Well, let me tell you, from now on I am going somewhere hot every winter that I can afford it. Every single aspect of the trip was amazing – hot white sand, turquoise ocean, balmy breeze and swaying palm trees. It was exactly what I needed and it was especially satisfying to know that I was in 30 + degree (celcius) weather sipping on a Caipirissima (my boyfriend is hooked on this cocktail now) while it was snowing buckets back home in Vancouver. We stayed at the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall resort and it’s expensive as hell but breathtakingly stunning. The customer service is also out of this world. The only taxing part of this trip was packing for it. As I had never been anywhere hot before, I basically packed everything summery I owned and hoped for the best. Some of it I wore, some of it I never touched, and there were some items that I wished I had bought specifically for the trip. Since hindsight is 20/20, here are the 12 items that I think are essential when travelling to the Caribbean (or anywhere tropical).


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1 // River Island – White Striped Bandeau Culotte Jumpsuit

When it comes to effortless vacation dressing, it’s hard to beat the jumpsuit. Just step in, zip up, and you’re good to go without having to worry about coordinating an outfit or how to sit decently (#dressproblems). This cute little number manages to combine three trends at once (stripes, culottes, and jumpsuits) while still looking timeless and elegant. The fact that is strapless is another plus as there is nothing that inspires irrational rage and misery more than the feel of a strap digging into a sunburnt shoulder.

2 // Steve Madden – Sara Sandals

I wore these sandals to death. They were especially perfect around dinner time when I wanted something that was a little more formal than my rubber flip flops but not as high maintenance as a pair of high heels. The nude/snake print goes with absolutely everything and is a refreshing change from basic black, brown or tan.

3 // Vince Camuto – Nautical Striped Floppy Sun Hat

I have the type of pale, freckled skin that is absolutely scorched by the sun even when I have slathered myself head to toe in SPF 70 and so a hat is a must. A floppy straw sun hat not only instantly adds some style points to an outfit, but it will protect your head and face from the harsh rays of the Caribbean sun, preventing sunburn and heat stroke. My body may have been lobster red by the end of my trip, but my face was completely burn-free.

4 // LUCLUC – Sky Blue Bandeau Push Up Bikini SetLUCLUC – Sky Blue Bandeau Push Up Bikini Set

If you’re going somewhere hot on vacation a cute swimsuit is (obviously) an essential. Whether you are a one-piece or two-piece kind of gal is your choice, but I would pick something that makes you feel stunning as you are going to be in it for most of your trip. This bikini set from LUCLUC was my go-to. I find this bikini set to be ridiculously flattering. I am not a fan of high-waisted swimsuit bottoms but I love the way these provide just the right amount coverage for my curvier hips and tush. The black piping provides a gorgeous contrast against the sky blue fabric, a colour that, in my opinion, flatters all skin tone. I actually got quite a few compliments on this bad boy and I can’t wait to bring it out more in the summer.

5 // Love Moschino – Mini Skirt

A flowy printed skirt is a tropical vacation must. Why? At some point, you’ll want to wear something at night other than a dress, and there is nothing that feels worse against sunburnt legs than chafing denim cut-offs. This loud, floral print is so bright and cheerful and the high-waist is sexy and flattering. I would wear this skirt with a little crop top or a shoulder-baring blouse.

6 // Barneys New York – Provence Large Tote Bag (on sale!)

I mean, you could stuff all of your beach essentials in a boring canvas bag or backpack but why would you? A straw bag goes with everything, is classically stylish, and is easy to clean – no stained fabric, just dump out the sand that will inevitably find its way into your bag, shoes, swimsuit, and bed. This bag is roomy enough to fit all of your stuff, all of your travel buddy’s stuff, with room to spare. I also love the pop of tropical colour that the tassels add to this otherwise simple tote.

7 // Daily Look – Diane Slip Dress

Real talk: a slip is not just a travel necessity, it’s a life necessity. They are effortlessly sexy and are so easy to just throw on, whether you’re wearing it over your swimsuit or with a boyfriend cardigan and pair of mules. Tuck one in your beach bag so that you can toss it over your swimsuit when you are ready to be civilized – say in a restaurant where your sarong or cut-offs just won’t cut it.

8 // Deepa Gurnani – Riley Crystal Embellished Floral Headband

I have very, very curly hair. When I am in the city I tame it with a straightener, a palm full of mousse, and shine spray. In the humid tropical climate of the Caribbean, however, all bets are off and my hair goes totally wild. My curls are massive and all of my usual styling methods go out the window. I didn’t even bother trying to straighten it because the moment I stepped outside my hair would literally spiral out of control. My headband and hair clips kept my hair looking curly and cute instead of curly and crazy. Even if your hair errs more on the straight side, a cute clip or headband will keep your beachy, sea-sprayed hair looking somewhat polished with minimal effort.

9 // Le Specs – Air Heart Cat-Eye Acetate Sunglasses

It doesn’t matter where I am going, I always forget to pack a pair of sunglasses and have to buy a pair either at the hotel or the airport. This is a terrible idea because they are always ridiculously expensive. They were absolutely necessary, though. In Jamaica, the sun was blinding and so my sunglasses were on my face from dawn until dusk. Fun fact: sunglasses rarely suit my face (aviators honestly make me look like Jim Morrison) and the only consistent exception to this are cat-eye frames. I just love the old-Hollywood glamour vibe and air of mystery that they add to an outfit. Grab a pair for your next vacation and channel your inner Audrey Hepburn.

10 // Dolce & Gabbana – Distressed Rolled Shorts with Daisy Embroidery

Comfy and casual should never equate to sloppy and boring. These distressed rolled shorts are given a quirky update with sweet little embroidered daisies all down the sides. I also love the longer rolled hem which adds to the effortless, ‘I picked these up off the floor and threw them on, but don’t I look adorable?” look. The perfect pair of shorts to wear while strolling down the beach or on an adventurous excursion.

11 // Only Hearts – Second Skin Bodysuit in Black

Bodysuits are awesome. They can be worn with shorts, skirts, pants, everything, and that kind of versatility is exactly what you need from your clothes when you are on vacation. Squeeze a couple different coloured bodysuits in your suitcase so that you have different options depending on the day or your mood. One bodysuit can easily take you from day to night: toss a pair of worn-in cutoffs over them during the day, and a flirty floral skirt in the evening.

12 // Spoiled Heart – Reverse Maxi Sequin Bust Dress

The punchy coral hue of this dress practically screams ‘I’m vacationing in the tropics’ and it looks amazing against a newly acquired tan. Maxi dresses are just so ideal when you are on vacation. They are comfortable and breezy, but can still transition from casual to formal with a simple shoe and accessory change (flip flops and beach bag to strappy sandals and pretty clutch). And the fact that this one is reversible? You’re just winning all around.

What are your must-pack tropical vacation essentials? Let me know in the comments!

xoxo,

Alicia

Last Minute DIY Holiday Gifts

 

However much I may like to pride myself on my organizational skills in other aspects of my life, when it comes to gift shopping, I tend to be more of a “last minute dash to the shops, thirty minutes before I am actually supposed to give the gift” kind of girl. Every year I plan to plan ahead and every year I fail to do so. This lack of gift-buying direction coupled with the fact that I am a still a university student with a fairly modest budget, means that the holiday season, as warm, cozy and magical as it can be, also stresses me right out.

One method I have of sticking to my budget while minimizing my stress is to make my own gifts. When one thinks of home made gifts one might think of sticky glue, tacky crafts or misshapen, lumpy scarves. That being said, thanks to the wonders of Pinterest and all of the talented, crafty people out there, there are a ton of different ideas when it comes to making one’s own gifts for the holidays. I have chosen four DIY gift ideas that are very easy and quick to produce (if you had all of the time in the world to painstakingly crochet or craft something out of wood, you wouldn’t be reading this, would you?) but also luxurious and indulgent. From tasty, homemade pickles to a simple yet very personal initial pendant, here are a few gifts you can (cheaply) cross off your list.

Homemade Pickled Veggies

pickled vegetables

Photo Source | Averie Cooks

As a total pickle addict, it blows my mind that I have never before considered making my own. Using any vegetables you like (radishes, carrots, cauliflower, and green tomatoes are my favorite) you can customize each jar based on the recipients preference. Not only is this a easy gift to make (you likely have all of the necessary elements already in your kitchen) but they are absolutely delicious and are beautifully presented in a simple mason jar with a ribbon and sprig of lavender or rosemary.

Custom Wine and Cheese Basket

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Photo Source | myrecipes.com

When it comes to gift giving, one thing that I firmly believe it that gifts should be indulgent. When choosing something for another person, I always feel that it is best to pick something that they wouldn’t necessarily choose for themselves, and that they don’t necessarily need but that would bring them pleasure. And surely nothing brings more pleasure then the classic and ever-elegant combination of cheese and wine? Gift baskets are fun to make and are so personal because one can completely tailor the flavors and items to the preferences of the person. Choose a varied but complementary selection of cheeses and wines as the base of your basket. Other nice additions are biscotti, chocolate, gourmet crackers, olives, jams, nuts, and pickles.

Customized Oil Perfume

natural perfume

Photo Source | hellonatural.co

Perfume is one of the most personal gifts a person can give. Our sense of smell is more powerful than we know or pay homage to and is deeply intertwined with the part of our brain that stores memories. We all link certain smells with memories or people that mean a lot to us. Whether it is the smell of your mother’s perfume or boyfriend’s clothes, or the smell of rain on hot pavement in the summer, no other sense is capable of stirring up as much emotion as our sense of smell. With this in mind, create a custom oil perfume for your loved one with all of the smells that remind you of him or her, or that you know they love. Consider it an olfactory love poem. Using essential oils and a base oil such as jojoba oil, it is not only relatively simple and quick to make, but it is also all natural, meaning that it is more intimate (you can only smell the fragrance when you are hugging the person) and it isn’t as likely to cause a reaction for people who are sensitive to scent.

Initial Pendant

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Photo Source | happyhourprojects.com

Jewelry is always a classic, relatively fail-proof gift to give. One doesn’t need to worry about fit or sizes (unless it is a ring) and nearly everyone likes jewelry. Jewelry is special, luxurious and meaningful. While not all of us have the skills to recreate the stunning pieces we might see at Tiffanys, with just a bit of chain and sterling silver letter beads (easy to find at bead or craft shops). One could also swap the silver chain and beads for a rose gold or copper hue, depending on the person’s taste. In this way, it is easy to create an ultra-personal, on-trend necklace that looks high-end but is easy on the wallet.

Hope you enjoyed these ideas. Do you have any holiday gift DIYs that you love and would like to share? I would love to read about them in the comments as I am always looking for new DIY projects. Happy holidays everyone!

xoxo,

Alicia

 

 

 

Father’s Day Gift Guide

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With Father’s Day exactly a week away, many of us will be out there scrambling to find last minute gifts or coming up with last minute plans for Dad. Personally I have always found it easier to shop for my mom than my dad, likely because my mom and I have the exact same obsessions with dainty jewelry and loose leaf tea. Nonetheless, my dad is one of the most important people in my life and one of the people that I admire and respect the most and therefore finding ways to treat my dad is important to me. My dad is the most hardworking human being I know with an unreal amount of drive and even more integrity. He lives a busy life and works in an incredibly fast-paced job under a great deal of pressure so when it comes to getting him gifts, I would try to think of things that can create or enhance his relaxation on the few occasions when he does get to sit back and unwind. Indulgent gifts like cologne, silk ties or luxury shaving kits are also good gifts for Father’s Day because they are treats that they wouldn’t normally get for themselves. With this in mind I have put together a list of five indulgent, relaxation-enhancing father’s day gifts to make your search a little bit easier and your dad’s day a little more luxe.

1. Ayala Moriel Parfums – Sabotage

Vancouver-based perfumer Ayala Moriel is more than just a creator of all natural perfumes, she is a true artist. With an extensive collection of fragrances, body care and home products, and even a book under her belt, Ayala’s fragrances do more than smell nice, they take the wearer on a journey and are almost more like songs than scents with each note unfolding to reveal the next part of the olfactory story. Sabotage is a spicy yet fresh scent with an earthy base of vetiver and tobacco combining with pimento berry, orange flower, lemon and green peppercorn. I would choose Sabotage for my dad because the smell reminds me of Portugal (the grassy hills, fragrant flowers and spicy, pimento laden cooking), which is where my dad’s family is from. More than that though, Sabotage is a cooling and refreshing summer fragrance with an air of classic masculinity that is timeless and season-less.

2. Scotch and Soda – Summer Bow Ties

Scotch and Soda has a knack for creating clothing and accessories for men with just the right ratio of quirky and elegant. Hailing from Amsterdam, Scotch and Soda’s pieces are always beautifully crafted out of premium fabrics. Unique, playful prints combined with razor-sharp cuts and classic shapes define the brand’s signature style. At only $25 each, these silk bow-ties are a fun way to incorporate Scotch and Soda into your dad’s weekly office attire in a subtle way without breaking the bank.

3. The Art of Shaving – The 4 Elements of the Perfect Shave Carry On in Sandalwood

Photo Source | www.sephora.com

Photo Source | http://www.sephora.com

Shaving is a chore that your dad likely either avoids or does so grudgingly. Any time there is an opportunity to take something mundane and make it more pleasant and even luxurious, I am all for it. It is the little things in life that matter and if we can enhance the boring parts of our day and make them special, we should. This 4-piece set from The Art of Shaving is subtly scented with sandalwood (an essential oil that is known for its soothing and antibacterial properties) and has an old-fashioned, John Wayne inspired aesthetic that will likely appeal to dad.

4. Age Your Own – Woodinville Whiskey Kit

I have always thought that there was something so cool and artistic about making one’s own wine or spirits. My grandfather on my dad’s side has been making wine for decades and it is undeniable that homemade liquor has its one inimitable flavor. While there are lots of different kits out there to choose, depending on your dad’s choice of poison, this Whiskey making kit from Woodinville Whiskey Co. comes with everything one would need to start making their own whiskey. With two 250 ml bottles of White Dog un-aged whiskey, a 2 liter aging barrel, a funnel for pouring, two tasting glasses and instructions, this kit may introduce your dad to a new hobby while leading to a future filled with glasses of homemade, perfectly aged whiskey. Basically its a gift that benefits all.

5. Bellroy – Slim Sleeve Tan Wallet

Bellroy wallets are minimalist, simple and sleek which makes it hard to choose one that your gift-recipient won’t like. Crafted out of vegetable tanned, premium cow leather, they are designed to fit all of your cards and cash in a tight little leather sleeve, reducing bulk with the ability to fit neatly in your pocket. If seeing your dad’s chunky, messy, cluttered wallet drives you crazy then consider getting him (and yourself – they are unisex) one of these timeless wallets.

xoxo,

Alicia