BOOK OF THE MONTH: ON HITLER’S MOUNTAIN

Being able to sit down with a warm cup of coffee or tea, and a book to read is one of my favourite things to do. I actually think that I would be able to read all day everyday; if theres a job like that out there, someone please let me know!

My most recent literature adventure took me into 1939 Germany; and more specifically, the life of one particular family on Hitler’s Mountain; Berchtesgaden. For as long as I can remember, I have taken great interest in the events of the Second World War, and only in recent years, have I started venturing out to read about the perspectives of surrounding countries during this difficult time. This book, takes us through those difficult years of war from the perspective of a young girl, as she discusses her, and her family and friends daily routines during the wartime.

I don’t like giving too much away about the plotline, but I do want to say that the storyline involves just the right amount of history, intertwined with a personal story. As the reader, I was able to learn about the realities of wartime in Germany, but also, the atmosphere based on the feelings and thoughts of a young child.

For anyone who is interested in reading about the Second World War, I would definitely recommend this book to you. It definitely sets a different perspective on the events which occurred, and specifically, the lifestyle of the German population during this time.

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BALENCIAGA VS. LOUIS VUITTON #SNEAKERTREND

Since I’m on this huge sneaker love high these days,  I thought I should share my thoughts on other pairs of sneakers, and not just my obsession of Alexander McQueen’s. So, what other pair to talk about, then THE MOST TALKED ABOUT sneakers worldwide at the moment: BALENCIAGA TRIPLE S COLOURWAYS and LOUIS VUITTON ARCHLIGHT SNEAKERS.

As I’ve mentioned before, I love a “different” or “unique” item, and as much as I want to love these sneakers, I’m just not there yet. Maybe they will grow on me, maybe not, we will see.  Either way, they are all the HYPE nowadays; looking at pictures from fashion weeks and street style shots, everybody and their grandma are wearing them!

Starting off with the Balenciaga Triple S Colourways. these shoes come in a classic white with black detailing, but also in various multicoloured detailing. They are chunky, and as I read somewhere, being called  “the ugly dad shoe”. It’s funny actually, because I saw someone today, a dad, and he was wearing white sneakers that resembled these – so what’s the deal? Honestly, the uglier the better. These shoes are priced at roughly $850 USD per pair and are constantly sold out – I guess this is a similar trend with sneakers these days. If you are one of the lucky ones who get’s their hands on these, the sizes do run high, so think about grabbing a size down from your regular size.

Louis Vuitton, on the other hand, has taken a similar route with the “ugly” sneaker trend, but, from my perspective, opted for less of the chunky sole look, but more of a unique sole. The brands Archlight sneakers are also available in a white base colour with various other coloured detailed. These ring in at $1,340 USD. Personally, I think I would probably go for buying these as opposed to the balenciagas, but then again, I still haven’t warmed up to either really, so it’s not necessarily my choice.

I guess now we wait and see how long these are hot commodities, and what else in this style comes into the market!

Which one’s do you prefer?

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Sandra Hagelstam // 5 inch and up

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DESIGNER DIARY SERIES: CHANEL BAG

[Yes, that’s me in that picture above – back when I had blonde hair!]

For three years followed My Theory of making a designer purchse: I saved, researched, and tried on Chanel bags endlessly.

Finally, the time came, and on a trip to London UK for Christmas and New Years Eve in 2014/2015. When purchasing our return tickets back to Toronto, we ensured we were flying out of Heathrow, and at a time when the Chanel boutique would be open. Prior to leaving my sister-in-laws house, I called to ensure that the Chanel bag was available in the store.

Upon arrival at the airport, we checked in, said our goodbyes, and walked through the gates to duty free heaven. Right away, we were greeted by a customer service associate who asked us if we needed any airport information, etc. Gleaming with excitement, I quickly explained our purpose, she smiled and picked up her phone to call her colleague, Nina, who would drive us over to the other terminal where Chanel was. Nina picked us up in no time, and we were rushing through halls and terminals, and before I knew it, we were parked outside of Chanel. Nina waited outside the boutique as we picked up my first ever dream Chanel bag! When the time came to pay for my Chanel bag, neither my husband or I fainted or cringed at the sum, because we knew that, that money was already put aside for this purpose, and as soon as we got home, the saved funds would be transferred to the Visa and we wouldn’t even feel a thing. Satisfied and ecstatic with a new excitement and terror of what I had just done, we hopped back on and Nina took up back to our terminal.

ED365B3C-F216-46FD-A4DD-FEFB88E0C957I can honestly say that I will never forget the amount of information I learned about the brand and its products, and the emotions that I felt when I finally purchased the bag and knew it was mine. I realize that I could just go into the store and buy a designer bag, put it on my credit card, and slowly pay it off with time, but this manner, for me anyways, makes it so much more personal and special. Especially considering the price of this item, I wouldn’t feel right if I just walked in and picked one up and bought it. I’m the type of person that needs to know what I’m investing in before I put out my hard earned money.

I will always and forever remember January 9, 2015 as the day when I purchased my very first designer handbag; one that I worked hard for and researched to its limits.

Next up on the Deisigner Diary Series: CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTINS

THE P R A D A BAG WE CANT GET ENOUGH OF

WELCOME the Prada Cahier bag; the bag we can’t get enough of, and Prada is well aware of this.

Personally, I’ve been back and forth with this bag for a while now – maybe since I first started seeing it on social media last year… and then I started seeing it everywhere… so if anything, I blame the influencers for being too good, and influencing me.

I still can’t really make my mind up if I love it or I don’t – I’ve tried it on a few times and it’s like I fall in love each time but then something draws me back.

I love the finishes on it, the details, the heavy buckle at the front, and I’m obsessed with the strap! I think what draws me away is the actual design -maybe it’s that accordion style structure that just doesn’t feel right for me… I’m very confused.

The price for this bag starts at $2,700 USD.

Looking through images of this bag I literally think to myself; why are you even debating this – Prada is SUCH a classic, it’s a cross body with an adjustable strap, the size is perfect, just get it!  It’s not that easy, and I’m not here to break my THEORY rules just yet.

I do believe that another trip to Prada though is in store for me to evaluate this feeling more closely – hopefully my husband is reading this and can agree!

Someone tell me you feel the same way about this bag!

 

PLAYING TOURIST: LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

After a few days in San Francisco, we packed our car, and began the drive to Los Angeles. Unfortunately, highway one was closed so we weren’t able to drive down it like planned, but definitely can’t complain about the road we took – blue clear skies, zero traffic, and beautiful scenic lands all around.

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I must say, if you’re ever planning on doing this drive, you MUST stop off at XX for steaks. I’m not really a big fan of steak, so trust me when I say you have to stop for a steak here. Here’s the link, in case you take my advice:

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Since we did not have too many days to spend in Los Angeles, and knew there was a lot we wanted to accomplish already, on our way into the city, we decided to drive through Malibu, Santa Monica, and Venice Beach. We didn’t stop for long, but long enough for me to realize that I will be coming back to visit and spending a lot more time in these locations specifically.

Then WELCOME LOS ANGELES, and that famous LA traffic. Yes, it’s true, it take three times as long to get somewhere in LA, if not longer. I can’t say it’s not worth the wait though. We explored Los Angeles in two ways; the tourist way and the locals way. Unfortunately, due to the lack of time, we did more of the tourist way, but next time we do, it’ll be local vibes all the way.

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Driving through the city gives you this different vibe, this sense of freedom and need to explore; I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s really something else. I honestly don’t know how else to describe this city, except for that it’s a must see; the vibes are incredible, the scenery mesmerizing, and the atmosphere comfortable – I literally felt like this is where I want to spend the rest of my life.

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PLATE TALK: A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING

I like to think that I live a fairly healthy lifestyle when it comes to food – I don’t drink pop, I don’t eat potato chips, and I try to make as many “healthy snack” options as possible. I do believe though in the theory of “a little bit of everything”. I think that if you limit yourself and try to exclude entirely something you’ve always enjoyed, you will somehow find your way back to it sooner or later, and your entire “healthy lifestyle” will basically be shot. Now, that being said, a “a little bit of everything” means that you don’t have to say no to a piece of cake at a party, unless you are going to a party every single week – that’s when you need to think about another option; maybe have that piece of cake once every two weeks? Also, it’s okay to have “a little bit of everything” when you literally are having everything; veggies, fruits, grains, etc. This little piece of cake will balance out all of the other healthy options you are consuming.

Next, by allowing yourself to basically not eliminate these “treats” you are actually helping yourself get on the right track with eating healthier. You know that saying; “you want what you can’t have”. Well, I think that’s exactly how this healthy lifestyle goes; if you know you can’t have a cookie, you will crave it until you crack. But, if you know you can, you will have that cookie, and because you satisfy your craving of it, you will be more optimistic about eating that “healthy option”.  I also found, with myself specifically, after a while of living this “healthy lifestyle” that craving for those “treats” started minimizing. I won’t say it’s disappeared, because I don’t think it’s humanly possible for me, but I no longer have sweet cravings for unhealthy options as often, that’s for sure.

Portion control is another major factor to the “little bit of everything theory”. My issue is, that if I make a favourite dish or am really enjoying the food I’m eating, I don’t know how to stop myself from eating it. I just can’t help myself with it being so delicious. This, my friends, is a torture and death sentence for your insides. If you regularly have large meals, then another large meal really doesn’t impact you because your body is used to receiving that amount to consume. Personally,  I eat a light breakfast, regular dinner, and have “snacks” every two hours or so.

So, when that off day comes when I am in love with what’s on my plate and can’t stop eating, it really doesn’t do me any good. Breaking eating patterns is actually one of the worst things you can do for your body – it breaks routine basically. This actually works both ways; if you eat regularly and then all of a sudden have a huge meal, your body starts working double time to break down the food you’ve just devoured – which is not good. If you eat regularly and then decide you are on a hunger strike; same thing, your body begins looking for that routine food to break down, but instead of food it finds air – not good again. Both of these patterns can lead to serious stomach bacteria developments and gut problems. I can personally say I’m guilty of this sometimes, and am really trying to keep my eating habits together.

I have been on both ends of the spectrum, and will openly say that food and I have not had a good relationship in the past; but slowly things are looking up, mainly because I am educating myself more on these topics. So, that being the final point of this speech I’ve gone on here; educate yourself on the food you are consuming, or want to be be consuming. The more you know the more comfortable you will feel purchasing it, and then, the more eager you will be making it. Find groups or websites that share the same food interest as you, or who maybe have already overcome this stage and can provide insight. It’s always easier with someone else.

For a very long time, I felt like I was alone in my consuming patterns; especially my in-laws who put milk, cream, and butter into anything and everything possible. It took some time to get used to either not being able to taste everything at a dinner party, or having a separate dish made just for me. Honestly, this still happens all of the time, so don’t think that you will be fully in the clear, there will always be unhealthy options around you (or just options you are intolerable to); I still often skip out on many items offered at parties for that exact reason. But, that’s okay! Say no when you feel you should – don’t push yourself to consume something that you know will not sit right with you, just to “be polite”. 

This is your one and only body so give it what it needs to take you through this amazing life! 

Now, I might be getting a bit off topic here with the “healthy lifestyle choice” and the “medical dietary restrictions” matter, but, all in all, it comes down to one thing, and that’s your own determination and motivation to make a plan and stick to it. Whatever works best for your body and lifestyle.

Nevertheless, now more than ever, there are SO many options for food choices; many restaurants offer substitutes, vegan, vegetarian, and other options to choose from. There are an unlimited amount of resources to educate yourself on benefits, cooking techniques, recipes, etc. Like I mentioned, just start educating yourself, and the decision will come naturally.

 

PLAYING TOURIST: SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA

To finally find myself on the west coast was like a dream come true for me. I’ve lost track of the number of years that I have been dreaming of a california vacation, literally. I’ve touched down on this land before, but only as a flight transfer, and it only lasted 3 hours. Since this trip, I have learnt that there is actually no such thing as enough time spent in California.

Our California trip began in San Francisco – the land of incredibly hilly streets, foggy skies, and the world famous Golden Gate Bridge. Our first stop after settling in was of course, Whole Foods – I couldn’t wait any longer to walk through all of those super healthy, vegan friendly aisles; basically, I always find new, state-specific items whenever we travel, and, more importantly, I am always snacking!

We spent about three days playing tourist in this wonderful city, but we definitely could have used a few more. A few of my favourites from this trip would have to include Alcatraz, Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf, and the San Francisco Premium Outlets. Overall, there isn’t one specific location in the “downtown core” that I could say I preferred over the rest, because I feel like we ventured around so much it all felt so special and beautiful. I definitely was able to feel the San Fran vibes everywhere, and I LOVED IT!

SPRING READY // NEWEST ADDITIONS

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Although it was snowing and minus 2 degrees celsius when these photos were taken, all I could think about was how great perfect these accessories will be for spring/summer. Linking back to my T H E O R Y on LESS=MORE in your closet, I put my focus on the accessories and handbags in my outfits. I think maybe accessories might be too big of a subject, so let me just clarify before we begin that by accessories I really just mean handbags, scarves, and glasses. I guess I could add watches to that as well.  Accessories simply combines all these “extras” into one neat category for me.

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My outfit follows all of my basic rules, as outlined before in my S P R I N G  U N I F O R M post; black jeans, a grey light knit sweater top, and black boots. Nothing more and nothing less, and it all comes together smoothly. By being able to spend less time putting together my outfit, I can put more focus on my accessories. Of course, I don’t stray far from simplicity in this category either, I find that a pretty scarf, and/or a bag really levels up a simple set nicely.

I’ll start from the top; the S U N G L A S S E S. Well, let’s start of by saying that I will have to do a D E S I G N E R  D I A R Y  S E R I E S  post on these because they are most definitely one of those designer items I have used my buying theory on – and finally landed them! I will admit right now, that I definitely did not pay full price for them; and basically was just lucky to be in the right place at the right time. Good things happen to good people, I guess.  Nevertheless, I’m obsessed and in love with these glasses and have been for a few years now; I’m still in shock that I actually own a pair now.

 

Next up; B A C K P A C K. As many people worldwide, I have fallen in love with the backpack trend. There are SO many different backpack options out there, from expensive designer (yes, the immaculate LV Palm Springs is still on my radar), to affordable designer brands, such as Coach, Kate Spade, etc. Although I thought I’d hold out until I got my hands on the LV backpack, I came across this gem at Coach last weekend. I have been eyeing the mini Coach backpacks for some time now, but wasn’t too fond of the straps (I was set on having leather straps). Well, once I was shown this one, and learnt of all of the different ways it can be worn, I was sold. My husband didn’t even have to ask me twice; he just told the SA to bring out a new one and that we’d be taking it. I am actually so in love with and can’t wait to be able to wear it more!

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I am more than ever ready for spring and summer this year; this winter has been playing some serious games with us and I think we’re all ready for warmer and sunnier days around here…

SATURDAY NIGHT VIBES // 2018.02.24

 

So the trend continues; my spring uniform is coming together, slowly but surely. We had a nice few days of temperature in the double digits, but unfortunately that didn’t last too long and we are now back to single digits, strong winds, and… SNOW?

This outfit photo was taken last weekend, during one of those hopeful spring days, when we all thought the chilly winter days were behind us. This particular saturday night was spent enjoying dinner and drinks, and celebrating a friends 30th birthday! The vibes, fairly casual, for such a fashionable european crowd. I decided to keep it simple and comfy, and to stick to my spring uniform mantra; sneakers, jeans, sweater top, and a tweed coat.

In all honestly, not much thought went into my outfit on the day of the event, simply because I was able to follow my theory of less is more, and making sure that MOST items in my closet can be worn together. Therefore, as I was picking out my outfit, I literally, opted for the most comfortable and appropriate two pieces I wanted to wear, and BAM, they paired together perfectly.

I honestly believe all I need in life in terms of clothes are comfy sweaters and jeans. If I had to choose two types of clothing to wear for the rest of my life, those would be it. Maybe it’s a seasonal thing, or because I’m cold practically all year (winter, AC, etc).

DESIGNER DIARY SERIES: THE THEORY

Let me start off by saying that I am not spoiled, I come from a middle class family, and I work hard for what I have and want. Like many other humans, I am drawn to beautifully crafted designer bags, shoes, clothes, etc. Growing up between the Americas and Europe, I have been exposed to many levels of luxury, and equally to many levels of poverty. Until I met my husband, I hadn’t in my wildest drams even imagined I would ever be purchasing any designer items – my focus was on simplicity and variety.

In 2011, boyfriend and I took a mini Eurotrip, which started in London, UK, to visit his sister, Justyna. Justyna, like many European woman, was on top of her game with the fashion scene; given she lived in one of the most fashion driven cities, (on top of things is an understatement). Justyna took us to visit all the major attractions that London has to offer – including the most luxurious shopping at Harrods and Selfridges. This is where my story begins.

At the shy age of 20, walking into an actual Chanel boutique was just a dream; I was still working part time, living at home, driving my parents car, etc. The thought of owning one of those immaculate handbags wasn’t even on my radar; I could have 40 or more bags from somewhere like Zara for one of these… and then it hit me… I could have 40+ “Zara” bags, or ONE Chanel bag.

The realization hit me like a tonne of bricks; with my boyfriends advice and conversation of course, it all made sense and my life was flipped upside down. I could ACTUALLY own one of these bags if I played my cards right.

I took full advantage of the shopping in London and the rest of Europe that summer, but as soon as we touched down in Toronto, I was a girl on a mission. Together with my boyfriend, we put together a plan of action for how I was going to walk into a Chanel store, swipe my visa, walk out with a Chanel bag, and not feel like I have to eat dry crackers for the rest of my life.

That’s what it’s all about really, and I think that’s the secret to purchasing a designer bag if you’re on a budget. It’s easy to just walk into a designer boutique, pick an item, swipe your visa and BAM it’s yours. But, there really is a method to the madness of a savings account, especially in this situation. In my opinion, the art of putting a little bit aside from each paycheck, even if it’s just a few dollars, is much less stressful that carrying that balance on your visa.

My theory to buying a designer item without draining all of your funds, consists of four steps:

STEP ONE

Open up a savings account, separate from your current accounts, and dedicate it towards that *something* special that you are dreaming to purchase. Each paycheck you get, put a little bit aside, whatever you feel your lifestyle can handle, and remember, don’t over do it or you’ll be forced to pull funds back out. Keep in mind that you still want to continue living your current lifestyle, which for me means being able to still make clothing, book, etc. purchases once in awhile without feeling like I’ll be broke.

STEP TWO: 

Do your homework! Once you decide what item you want to purchase, do a tremendous amount of research on it. Learn about the brand, the specifics of the item, compare sizes/colours/designs, read about the history of the brand and item (if applicable). Then, once you have all of the information from the designers perspective, check into social media, where you will be able to find more real-life examples from actual customers of these products; what are they saying, does it align with what the brand portrayed? This is comparable to searching for a vacation; the hotel looks five-star in the catalogue or on the hotel website, but that’s from the hotels marketing perspective. Once you open up expedia and see the customers photos, things usually look a bit more realistic and different.

STEP THREE:

Try it on! Try it on! Try it on! Yes, you might feel like the most annoying customer standing in the mirror examining the purse on your shoulder, adjusting the straps to wear it differently, asking for different sizes for comparison and then walking out without making a purchase. I’m sure this doesn’t make the sales associates too pleased because you’ve just “wasted their time when they could have been serving someone else who would make a sale”, but hey, you will be making that purchase soon ,and it’s not a $20 purchase, in fact, its MUCH more. Put that perspective on, and don’t stress yourself out; you will be spending a lot of money on this item, so you need to be 100% certain that this is what you want and will love and use it a lot.

STEP FOUR

Once you are 100% certain that you NEED this designer piece, and you will love and use it forever (that’s how I like to make my big purchases; the forever makes it more intense), think about where you should purchase it from. Of course, depending on the product, as some are available at department stores like Holt Renfrew or Saks Fifth Avenue, but some, you actually have to go to the actual boutique. Think about if you will be travelling anytime soon; will this product be available in that other country; if yes, if you buy it there will you be able to receive a tax return and therefore save a percentage? Is the exchange rate better in that Country; if yes, check if the price of the item is comparable?

By following these above four steps, I was able to make the most expensive designer purchase of my life so far.

Maybe my theory will inspire you, maybe you already know this, either way, I couldn’t just keep this to myself. As much as I love the fashion industry for what it gives us, I do think their pricing strategy frightens many people out of buying something they really want/love. I want the world to know that there ARE ways, intelligent ways, of making these types of purchases, even if you are not a millionaire.

Dream big, save smart, and do your research. I hope that designer item of your dreams is yours one day soon!

Next up on Designer Diary Series: CHANEL BAG PURCHASE