Fashion: Over the Knee Boots for Every Style

I was inspired by my dear friend Emily to take the plunge and finally purchase a pair of over the knee boots. I've loved them for years but never thought I could pull them off. These were out of the question, so after some extensive research and a fairly long decision-making process (if you know me, you know that's not unusual), I settled on the Aldo Elinna in dark grey. I rounded up some of my favorite pairs of reasonably-priced over the knee boots for you - there's one for every style!

with a skirt: the Aldo Chiaverini in grey nubuk are perfect with a skirt - because they're flat, they're not too much ($220)
with dark jeans: the Steve Madden Orlando in tan are fun for a different look - they'd look great with darker jeans ($250)
with leather leggings: I love that the Aldo Elinna in dark grey are not quite as harsh as black suede ($130)
with a short dress: the boots that started it all! my friend Emily recently bought the Steve Madden Odessa in taupe (it's more beige than taupe) and I love the way she pairs them with dresses ($140)
with black jeans: can you tell I have a thing for grey? if you're going to go for a heel, I suggest staying away from black. The Dune London Sibyl in grey are sexy without being trashy ($355)

Which pair would you choose?

How To: the Perfect Staycation

A few weeks ago, my husband and I had the opportunity to enjoy a little staycation at the Metterra Hotel here in Edmonton. Ever since the arrival of our son, quality time with my husband has been somewhat of a rare occurrence, so we decided to go for it. Mind you, we had initially planned to bring him but our dear friends offered to watch him overnight. It was the best decision and we were definitely able to relax. 

The Metterra Hotel is located in Old Strathcona, which just so happens to be one of our favorite neighborhoods of Edmonton. We lived there for a year and really enjoyed being in what I still consider to be the heart of the city. There are oodles of restaurants, bars and shops, and more are coming almost every month. 

Our suite was beautiful and spacious, with big windows overlooking Whyte Avenue. I loved that we had a fireplace and could decide to snuggle while watching a movie in the living room area and finish watching the movie (or, in our case, HGTV, let's be real) on the giant screen in the bedroom in the the comfy king size bed. 

The bathroom was probably my favorite part of the room with a gigantic mirror going from wall to wall, a jetted tub and a rain shower. Being the beauty junkie that I am, I also loved the Molton Brown toiletries! 

(notice the crib they had initially put in the bedroom? so thoughtful!)

The Hotel even provides earplugs. If you're familiar with Whyte Avenue on a Saturday night, you know those are a must! If you're a light sleeper, I highly suggest asking for a room on a higher floor, preferably not above the Julio Barrio's. While we didn't get a chance to enjoy the complimentary wine tasting, we were delighted to be able to have our first cup of (Starbucks) coffee in the room before heading to breakfast, where the buffet had me anxious to try everything. 

All in all, it was a great, relaxing night in the city. If you are planning a staycation, or even a quick weekend getaway not too far from home, here are a few tips to make it perfect: 
We were really hesitant to leave our son with our friends overnight, but it ended up being for the best: he was with people he knows, loves and trusts and was able to stick to his routine. We didn't have to worry about his schedule, finding a kid friendly restaurant or going to bed early. 
 I usually pack for overseas travel or trips to the mountain, where practicality is key. That means making sacrifices and not bringing the superfluous stuff. For a staycation, pack light (you won't have time to dig through 12 layers of stuff) but fancy! Want to bring your pretty pyjamas, scented bath bombs and cute dress? Sure! A staycation is all about pampering yourself! 
There is nothing you should do. Just things you want to do. Forget about the sights you should see or the food you should try. Do as you please. It's your city, you'll come back. And if you want to take your pecan pie to go and eat it while watching Fixer Upper, do it! (yes, this happened).

All you have to do now is unwind and enjoy a nice vacation in your own city! Find a new restaurant you want to try, or a staple you love and crave. Watch as much TV as you want, lounge in the comfy robes and take a morning bath. It's your time to relax! 

Beauty: Vichy Teint Idéal Collection Review

When Vichy announced the release of their new complexion improving Teint Idéal collection, I knew I had to try it out for myself. This line pretty much promises you a Snapchat filter, IRL (in real life, for those of you who were born before 1990). The collection includes pretty much everything you need for a perfect complexion: a liquid foundation, a cream foundation, a compact powder foundation, a bronzing powder, a highlighter and a concealer (which I did not get a chance to try). 

Fluid Foundation, $38

+ very lightweight, water-based texture
+ easy to blend
+ light-medium coverage
+ good for sensitive skin
+ has an SPF

- runs a little after 3-4 hours
- does not control oil 

Cream Foundation, $38

+ not heavy or greasy despite being hydrating
+ contains hyaluronic acid 
+ easy to apply, even with your fingers 
+ light-medium coverage
+ a little goes a long way

- runs a little after 3-4 hours

Powder Foundation, $36

+ medium coverage
+ controls oil for 6-7 hours
+ does not feel heavy or cakey

- a tad chalky

Bronzing Powder, $36

+ velvety feel
+ easy to blend
+ not too dark, can be a good Winter bronzer
+ perfect to warm up your complexion all-over

- universal shade might be a little light for darker skin tones
- shade is too warm to be used as a contour

Illuminator, $27

+ lightweight, liquid texture
+ roll-on makes it easy to apply, very little is needed
+ can be used on its own
+ discreet, glow from within effect 

- a little runny, can be tricky to apply over makeup
- not very noticeable

All in all, the quality of the Teint Idéal products is amazing. There is a foundation for every skin type and I love the illuminator and bronzer. None of them feel heavy, all while improving the appearance of the skin. They really do feel like naked skin, except better. My favorite product of the collection is probably the powder foundation, which has surprisingly good coverage, is so easy to use on its own and does not emphasize dry skin. If you like natural coverage, the Vichy Teint Idéal products are for you! 

Happiness: Why You Should Be a Goal Digger (& a desktop freebie)

Goals are usually a good thing, except when you can't or don't reach them. In that case they can be pretty depressing. 
The solution? More goals. 
Let me explain.

Goals are important. They give you a purpose, they help you move forward, they structure your life. How you choose your goals is equally important. While it is good to aim high and be ambitious, unrealistic goals can set you for failure and make you feel bad about yourself. So it is important to set smaller goals too. Realistic ones, that you will have a higher probability of reaching. 

First, they will provide instant gratification once you achieve them.
Second, they will make you look at things differently. Anything can be a goal. 
Third, more smaller goals achieved add up to greater happiness. 

And voilà. Be a goal digger. Make it a goal to enjoy the small things in life. To stop and smell the roses. To make it to the park with your child. To try a new beverage at Starbucks. 

Self-Confidence: Loving Your Post-Baby Body

Before I became pregnant with my son, I had sort of let myself go. My husband and I had moved around, were far from our families and food was always a familiar source of comfort. I've always hated exercising, but loved walking. Except you can't walk very far in the cold and long Alberta winters. Winter. Yet another reason to indulge in warm cookies and hot chocolate. But you get the idea. I had never had a very positive body image and struggled with eating disorders as a teenager. Then I got pregnant and was so focused on doing what was right for my baby that I ate healthier than ever. I enjoyed it. I wasn't thinking of my body in a negative way anymore. For the first time in my life, I actually loved my body, for what it was able to do. I made peace with it. I didn't love the water weight and the cellulite, but I couldn't hate it anymore. I loved my round stomach and felt good

Then I had my baby and was still completely at peace with my body. I wanted to give it time to get back to normal. Except I didn't really know what normal was anymore. Nevertheless, I had no goal in mind. My whole being was consumed with motherhood and taking care of my son. It's all I cared about and my body was the least of my concerns. The weight came off fast. Within the first 2 weeks I had lost all the pregnancy weight. I still felt flabby and not pretty, since nothing fit and my new shape was unfamiliar. Feeling beautiful is not easy when you wear leggings and breastfeeding tops everyday. 

But as time went by, and without even trying, the weight continued to come off. I was breastfeeding, and I suppose that may have helped. But mostly I was busier, more active, and happier. 

I am now almost two years post-partum, and my weight has stabilized. I gained a few pounds back when I stopped breastfeeding after a year, but nothing major. My weight still fluctuates a little and the insecurities and bad thoughts sometimes come back when I indulge (I can't say no. Ever.). But I am still busier, happier and thus, thinner. 

Loving your body after having a baby is not just about losing the extra pounds or the flab. It's a process. Yes, it helps if the weight comes off. Of course. No woman I know likes extra, unnecessary jiggle. And if they do, more power to them! But it's also about reclaiming your body as yours.  For nine months, you have the responsibility of another life inside of you. And then comes the breastfeeding, if you choose to do it, which, while wonderful, basically makes you a feeding machine. Getting your body back doesn't just happen at the gym. It happens in your head,  in your skin, in your bed with your partner. Those new hips, veiny breasts, saggy tummy, toned arms. They are yours. They are your new body, and getting acquainted will take time. You will mourn your old body. And it will continue to change, but slowly, you will start to recognize it in the mirror again. 

Here are a few tips I'd give any new mama when it comes to loving their bodies. 

✦ Take time for yourself: take a bath, pamper yourself, shave your legs, use a nice and luxurious body  cream

✦ Take care of yourself: try and eat healthy as much as possible, go to the dentist, get a checkup a the doctor's (notice the mole and the scar on my shoulder? one mole was removed earlier this year and the bigger mole will be removed by a plastic surgeon in December. Taking care of yourself also means making sure you take care of your health)

✦ Stay active: whether you take a walk with the stroller, go for a bike ride or do yoga in your basement, keeping active will make your mind and body feel better - as long as you know when to rest, too

✦ Don't hide: don't hide under baggy clothes or run in the closet to remove your clothes before bed. You shouldn't be ashamed of your body. You gave birth, there is so much to be proud of

✦ Treat yourself: while I don't recommend buying a whole new wardrobe until your weight has stabilized a bit, buying a few items that make you feel good is important. New underwear can make you feel sexy and comfortable. For this occasion, I am giving away a Wonderbra bra & matching underwear to one lucky reader. To enter, leave a comment below with your email address. For more chances to win, head over to my Instagram and Facebook page. 

I chose not to edit the photos, because this is about self-confidence after all. Also, never would I have ever thought I would one day post pictures of myself in a bra on the internet. Please, be kind)
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