Taking The First Steps To Perfecting Your Morning Routine

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

La Vie en Rose robe (similar)

I've come to learn that for me, establishing a balanced morning routine is an essential part in having a successful day. I'll let you in on a secret, I'm a very anxious person, so creating a serene morning routine is critical to my mental health and preparation for the day. Carving out some "me time" every morning enables me to head into the day with levelled emotions and mental clarity. Although perfecting my morning routine is something that I am consistently working on, I have listed some things below that I consider important elements to creating the perfect morning routine. 

1. Time
Although we would all love to wake up 2 hours prior to the time we need to leave for work, the truth is that hitting the snooze button is #reallife. Ease into the practice of giving yourself time in the morning by waking up 15 minutes earlier each week during the transition. Ensure that you use those 15 minutes to do something productive, or else you will be prone to falling back into your old habit of sleeping-in. I am someone who loves to sleep-in and my natural tendency is to choose sleep over anything else. However, with practice, I was able to set my alarm back 15 minutes each week with the forced motivation of including a new element into my morning routine. This made the wakeup time worth it. 

2. Breakfast
In the early days of creating your perfect serene morning routine, you will need some real drive extending beyond intrinsic motivation. Since we all love food, using the extra time in the morning to cook something delicious is a great way to jump out of bed. My go-to favorite plant-based breakfast is avocado toast and a blubbery smoothie (side note: this is a relatively simple breakfast for many, however I seriously used to be one of those people to grab drive-thru breakfast. That being said, waking-up to make anything to eat is a big step in the right direction for me).

3. Meditation and/or prayer
You don't need to do full-on yoga or enter into deep meditation, however you should take a few moments to sit with your thoughts and/or say a little prayer. This is sure to help you feel energized and find inner peace. I personally do this every morning while sitting on my couch with my coffee. I also take the time to write down 1 thing that I am grateful for each morning so that I can set the tone for a positive day. Through the hardest of times, forcing myself to do this has helped me filter through many negative emotions. 

4. Why
If you're anything like me, trying to accomplish something without genuine interest or purpose is simply going to result in failure. I encourage you to find your why when it comes to perfecting your morning routine. This will vary for everyone and could be the desire to be more productive, to decrease stress and/or to find some time away from the chaos of real life. 

5. Self-love
As with anything, don't forget to be kind to yourself and understand that setbacks are normal. You won't be able to dramatically change your life overnight. Try to avoid frustration in trying to "be perfect", by taking a few minutes later in your day to carry out breathing exercises and/or other relaxation techniques.

What are your tips to creating the perfect morning routine?

YQG Blogger Brunch

Monday, August 28, 2017

Vintage dress (similar)
Olivia and Joy bag (similar)

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to once again meet with some fellow Windsor bloggers. Several of us were invited to a brunch hosted by a very experienced and awesome content creator, Rose City Style Guide. As pictured above, the layout was super pretty, with food and decor from a few local vendors. I had a great time chatting about blogging and life with these local bloggers and can't wait for the next meet-up. 

I wore a vibrant yellow dress and some comfy sandals. I also accessorized with pearls and my favorite white bag. I love brunch looks since they are usually classy yet super comfortable. You can read about the details of this look above and shop the photos below. 

You can also read about the last YQG blogger meet-up here. I love having the opportunity to meet with people who work and/or have hobbies in the same field as it is always interesting to hear their stories and understand their point of view. 

What do you think of this look?

How To Pick The Perfect Wedding Reception Venue

Friday, August 25, 2017

This post is all about one of the (if not THE) most important detail when it comes to planning your wedding - picking the reception venue. With careful consideration and a series of meetings/bargaining, I was lucky enough to snag the Art Gallery of Windsor as my wedding reception venue. I learned quite a few things in the process and I thought I would share some quick tips regarding this topic. Enjoy!

1. Consider your theme
If you're going for a lush floral theme, a squawky vintage-vibe location is definitely going to clash. Similarly, hosting a black tie wedding at a more so casual or rustic venue, is going to look awkward. You can easily eliminate many potential venue options when you consider the choices stemming from this perspective - start with your theme and colors first. My husband and I chose to host our wedding at an art gallery since our wedding was a Friday night affair, exuding a "great-gatsby vibe".

2. Think outside the box
I know you know that there are certain venue halls where everyone and their mother hosted their wedding reception. Although it is OKAY (no judgement) if you choose to go this path, if you want to host a wedding to remember when it comes to location, choosing your venue is going to take some active thinking. My husband and I wanted to host a "big city" wedding in a rather average zip code. With this in mind, we had to contact multiple locations that were not typical wedding reception venues to see what they could do for us. 

3. Put in the work 
This stems from the last one. As with anything in life, if you want to be different and memorable you need to actively put in the work to get there. This may mean communicating with several people when choosing your venue and coordinating your wedding.

4. Number, numbers, numbers
There are so many venues that you can rule out based on your guest count. My husband and I had a total of 77 guests at our wedding (this included children - so really it was like 60), so booking a small venue such as an Art Gallery was definitely possible. Booking a large hall just wasn't in the cards for us and would have looked so awkward - too much space for so few people. This goes the opposite way for a large guest count. 

5. The food
When choosing your venue, you want to consider the type of food that you will be serving. Does the venue have in-house catering? Is it feasible to bring in those p-e-r-f-e-c-t outside caterers? The truth is that food is also very important when it comes to the "experience" of your wedding, so consider it as an equal when considering your venue. 

What tips do you have for choosing the perfect wedding reception venue?

How to Transition to a Plant-based Diet

Thursday, August 17, 2017

About two weeks ago I announced my commitment to a plant-based diet on social media. Although I began this transition for quite some time now (earlier than that particular post), I only recently felt comfortable sharing this due to the fact that getting into the groove of this lifestyle is no walk in the park! Although the rewards have been wonderful and not limited to increased energy, clearer skin, improved mood and better sleep, these did not come without struggle. For this reason, I decided to share with you some tips that would be important to know for one transitioning to this way of eating. 

Disclaimer: I am not a dietician, although I have thoroughly researched this way of eating prior to my transition. I would recommend doing your own research prior to committing to a new way of eating.

1. Understand that detox is normal
This will depend on your body, however I would say that the first two weeks are always the hardest. You may have stomach pains and gas, you may break out and you may feel somewhat grouchy. As long as you are eating nutritiously (remember that you need to consume more while on a plant-based diet), understand that this is a normal process that will come to pass.

2. Don't stress about being perfect
You won't go vegan overnight and you may very well be comfortable landing somewhere in between. You may even slip-up once and a while and find yourself in the McDonald's drive-thru (real talk). My particular transition was slow and quite imperfect. I started by cutting out meat, and then moved on to dairy and cheese and I now only eat those things on special occasions (which is why I consider myself a flexitarian). 

3. Use pinterest for ideas
Pinterest is probably your best bet when it comes to plant-based recipes. Since you might not be 100% certain that you will commit to this diet long-term, this is a good tool find meal ideas that won't require you to go out and buy several new cookbooks. 

4. Cultivate inspiration
There are many sources to keep you motivated on this journey. From vegan youtubers to health conscious bloggers and film-makers. These are worth checking-out since you will need to keep yourself motivated as you transition into this way of eating.

5. Make plant-based foods fun
Just because you have changed your diet doesn't mean you can't still go out to eat, or enjoy fast-food. I personally love the veggie burger from Burger King and have also discovered several vegan restaurants in my area. I am thankful that this experience has opened my eyes to meat-alternatives when it comes to a night out.

Have you tried a plant-based diet?

Dreaming in Light Blue

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Vintage skirt (similar)
Club monaco knit tank (similar)

There's no question that the color blue is very popular on this blog. I would honestly have to say that 95% of my wardrobe consists of this color. Nevertheless, this skirt in this particular shade of blue was an item that I couldn't pass up. 

Although this skirt is vintage, I've linked a style to match. I'm a repeater when it comes to the top, but as I stated before, knit tanks are my absolute favorite for summer. I paired this outfit with my best white heels to make for a cute Sunday and/or workplace outfit. 

What do you think of this outfit?

Personal motivation to blog

Friday, August 11, 2017

Orange top (similar)
Adiva skirt (similar)

This post may turn in to quite the ramble, yet I felt the need to address this topic since it appears to be quite popular among bloggers these days. If you haven't noticed, everyone and their mother appears to be getting into the world of blogging - which is in a way quite awesome. With the power of the internet, we all have the unique opportunity to cultivate inspiration and bond with those we may have never met. That being said however, a voice online proves relatively worthless in generating movement unless it has an audience, and unfortunately, as a result of the rise in popularity of blogging, compounded with the new Instagram algorithm, growing an audience proves even more challenging than ever before. Many individuals are hiring agencies to help them grow their social media accounts, which use methods such as "follow-unfollow" and comment pods (I'll leave it up to you to decide if this is "right"). In addition, other more established bloggers who may have been able to grow their following rapidly in the early days of blogging, are feeling the need to call out those using such methods. As a result, it's safe to say that both sides of the spectrum are "feeling the heat" in this realm of the internet. 

Where do I fall into the mix of this and what does this mean to me? Well, I am a relatively new blogger trying to grow my brand with the same difficulty that many others are facing. All the while I love blogging, the difficulty to grow does take a toll on me. I believe that content is truly no longer king (*personal opinion), and so I find myself continuously trying new methods and experimenting with new topics in order to grow my audience. I am fortunate that I have already cultivated a good "fan base" from my past participation in pageantry, although I can still feel the frustration expressed by those starting from square one. 

I keep myself motivated to blog because #1 I love my readers. I definitely feel the love from you all and I want you to know that I read every single comment and very much appreciate it. I also keep myself motivated because I truly love fashion, beauty and living a balanced life. In addition, I really enjoy sharing my knowledge (although still growing) with whoever I can. One final note, I must say that my biggest motivation is to keep reminding myself of why I started and how having this space has enabled me to develop countless skills, not limited to growing a business.

What motivates you to keep your project, hobby and/or business going?

Finding the Perfect Wedding Dress

Thursday, August 10, 2017

David Tutera wedding gown

In honor of this month marking the first year of marriage to my husband, I thought it would be fun to share a few tips on wedding planning sprinkled throughout the month. The first post I wanted to share is one about picking the perfect wedding dress. Although the most important part of getting married is the union and the promise that you are making to your future spouse, let's be honest, picking the perfect dress can be one of the major stressors and inevitably becomes a priority.

1. Be insistent 
My particular gown was from a trunk show for brides of the following year. I however fell in love with this dress the second I put it on. I was insistent on having the order rushed and thanks to this, along with tip #3, I was successful in being one of the first brides to wear this particular style at their wedding. One important tip to go along with this point however, is to always be polite when requesting special arrangements.

2. Trust your gut
There are so many options to choose from and you will most likely be swayed by several different styles. Try to limit your search to styles recommended for your body shape and go from there. If you try on a particular gown and you absolutely love it, stick with it. You hopefully chose to marry your husband based on feeling and so apply that same instinct when choosing your wedding dress.

3. Shop from someone you know
If you know someone who owns a bridal boutique, shop at that store. Although it may be a glamorous experience to go to a big name bridal store and pick out your gown, at the end of the day what matters most is the wow factor of your gown and not the name of the place that your purchased it from. Buying from someone you know has many perks such as, personalized service and an overall customized investment in your gown. I was lucky that I had been a bridal model several times in the past and was able to get to know owners of shops in my community. However, even if you don't personally know a bridal boutique owner, I would highly recommend asking those married gals in your social circle about shops that they would recommend - when you visit the store don't forget to drop that individual's name. 

4. Consider your venue
The church I had my ceremony at screamed cathedral veil and long wedding gown. Unfortunately, since I had my reception at a smaller space (an art gallery), there was no way a puffy gown would match that space and style. Taking both of these things into consideration, I knew that I needed to go with a two piece gown or have two dresses to switch mid-way through the night. 

5. Remember your future husband
At the end of the day you want to look best for your husband. Although my husband claims that I would look great in "whatever I wear", I'm pretty sure that if I walked down the isle wearing a huge bow on my shoulder or something of that nature, he wouldn't deem it as the "best choice".

Do you have any tips on finding the perfect wedding dress?

Casual Summer Staples

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Belt (similar)

Let me begin this post by saying that I rarely wear shorts. I feel like a broken record in that I seem to always say this, but it truly is fact. I have a pear-shaped body and so finding a good pair of shorts that fits my body is a challenge - I wear a size small top but range anywhere from a 4-8 in bottoms (crazy, I know)! For this reason, when I find a brand that makes shorts that fit just right, I feel as though I need to "shout-it-out". In other words, I just need to blog about it. 

These jean shorts are from Mavi, and I must say that I have had success shopping this brand. I own several pairs of jeans and shorts from them and each feels super soft and hug my curves nicely. I like their shorts in particular since they have just enough stretch in them to mold to different body shapes, yet not too much to look like jeggings. 

The top I am wearing is a basic from Joe Fresh. It isn't too "special", but is a comfy classic that I would recommend to anyone. It's also currently on major sale, which also provides incentive to buy. I accessorized the outfit with my favorite watch, some cute pearl earrings, and a simple belt (similar), which gave the outfit a casual vibe.  

What do you think of this look?

Sunday Best

Monday, August 7, 2017

Polka dots rarely go out of style, and so that is why purchasing a dress with this pattern is always a good idea. Talking about this dress in particular, I love the way that it fits tight at the waist yet remains flow throughout. It is so comfy and flattering for all shapes. I paired it with a pearl necklace to give this look a classic vibe, and of course wore my favorite summer heels

I hope that all of you reading this had a great Sunday. Sundays are my favorite day of the week simply because they are an opportunity to relax and/or to get a head-start on the week. There is something truly renewing about this day of the week and I hope that you were able to make the most of it!

What do you think of this look?

Lessons on Adopting a Dog

Friday, August 4, 2017

If you know me, you know that I LOVE my dogs. For this reason, you can sort of guess what this post will entail. My husband and I got our first dog around the time we got married and our second one around Christmas 2016. Just like anything new, there are a few practical lessons that I hadn't learned prior to becoming a pet owner that I wish I knew sooner. Although some of these may appear obvious, when caught up in the excitement of adopting a new family member, the following often fall to the bottom of the mental checklist. For this reason, I've decided to list some of the most common lessons that are learned after adopting a new dog. Enjoy!

1. The importance of training
My husband and I had a lot of time to spend properly training our first puppy and not as much for our second. We quickly noticed the difference in behavior between both after a few months and had to put in even more effort in correcting bad behavior. My tip concerning this would be to adopt your dog during a less busy time of the year, where you can put in the work to properly train them while they are young.

2. The cost 
Dogs are expensive. From the food that they eat to the vet bills that they generate, you will want to make sure that you set aside a budget for your dog - trust me. Looking to purchase pet insurance is also something that may be worth it if your breed of dog is prone to health issues later in life.

3. Leaving them at home
I try not to leave my dogs alone for more than a few hours. I find that dogs are like children - leave them unsupervised for a certain period of time and you will regret the mischief that they will enviably get themselves in to. Doggy day-care can help on the days where you know you won't be home for an extended period of time. My husband and I have also been pretty good at coordinating our schedules when it comes to the dogs. This is an important topic that should definitely be discussed prior to adding your new family member!

4. Socialization and Stimulation 
Going off of the last point, the truth is that dogs are easily bored - they need socialization and they need to be in nature as much as possible. Taking your dog out for regular walks, to the park, etc., needs to be a part of your routine early-on. 

5. Love
I was a total cat person prior to adopting our first dog and I was pretty skeptical on if I would truly like having a dog. Little did I know that my heart would be busting at the seams with love for my new "baby". The love you will have for your pet is truly special and makes all of the work of having them absolutely worth it. You will most likely want to bring them with your everywhere you possibly can, and you will definitely come to appreciate pet-friendly stores (check out my post about that here).

I'd love to hear about your pet!

Summer Knitwear

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Club Monaco knit tank (similar)

Nothing beats a white top and some comfy jeans. If you've followed my blog for a while, you know that I absolutely LOVE Calvin Klein jeans - I pretty much live in them, weather permitting. They are so comfy and definitely flattering for my pear-shaped body.

Onto talking about this pretty top, I must say that incorporating "winter" fabrics into my summer wardrobe, is also something that I love. In addition, buying a tank in this fabric gives it a more luxurious feel, all the while lasting longer than anything made out of polyester (for example).

In the summer, I would definitely choose this look for a casual date night or a cooler day, and would pair it with my favorite white flip flops from Target.

What do you think of this look?