Thursday, January 29, 2015

Outfit: Burberry and a Blogging Tip

Here's my first ever (and probably last) Blogging Tip of the Day:

If you tend to accumulate a backlog of outfit posts, try not to take them in front of seasonal details. Like, say, Christmas trees.

Anyway, better late than never, right?

I took a chance and ordered this dress online as it had been heavily marked down on sale. Luckily, the dress fits almost perfectly. I wore this dress when we went for dinner at Hawksworth in Vancouver. The food was good! We had the tasting menu and my favourite course was the wagyu beef. Yum.

I hesitated for a long time before buying this dress. It's the first "designer" piece that I've ever bought, and even on sale, it was way more than I've ever spent on a single item of clothing. Yes, the quality and the execution are impeccable, but was it really worth the price? I guess the bottom line for me was that I really liked the dress and will wear it often in the future.

Have you ever bought a designer item? Would you rather have one designer piece or multiple middle-of-the-road pieces for the same amount of money?

Outfit details:
Dress: Burberry (similar on sale)
Tights: Target
Booties: Browns', very old (similar but with buckles)
Purse: Sophie Hulme Twin Keyhole Clutch Shoulder Bag, sold out (similar)

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Outfit: Parque del Buen Retiro

I had lots of plans to take outfit photos in pretty dresses while I was in Spain, but the weather was not quite as balmy as I'd been hoping although it was pleasant when the sun was out. I ended up dressing for warmth most days. Also, we took these photos the day that we rented the electric assist bikes and pants were more practical.

The Parque del Buen Retiro was one of my favourite spots in Madrid. It is full of tree-lined paths, fountains, playgrounds, art galleries and a pond with boats. It is a very popular spot for tourists and locals.

Outfit details:
Sweater: Banana Republic (caution, sleeves run short!)
Jeans: American Eagle
Scarf: from Nepal
Coat: Banana Republic, Charcoal Wool Trench Coat
Purse: Chloe, Small Marcie (lots of colours, including black, red, green)
Boots: Stuart Weitzman, Lowland Boots

Saturday, January 17, 2015

And... I'm back!

A belated Happy New Year to everyone!

I was lucky enough to have a few weeks off over Christmas and New Year's, so we decided to go climbing with some friends in Spain.

Jeff actually flew to Spain two weeks before I did and was pedaling his bike from Barcelona to Madrid while I was stuck at work. This is the first time that I've been the one who gets left at home. It is not as fun as being the one who gets to go galavanting.

I stopped over in New York City on my way to Madrid. It was Christmas Day, and I had an amazing dinner by myself at Perry Street. Was it a little bit awkward? Yes, but the delicious food was worth it. I had a green salad, lobster poached in coconut milk with kaffir lime leaves and potato dumplings, and chocolate lava cake. The potato dumplings were probably one of the tastiest things I've ever had. 
Lobster for Christmas dinner
Next, I made a quick stop in Zurich to catch up with a friend. When I landed, I texted him that I'd arrived... and he sent back a message saying that I would soon be welcomed by the sights and sounds of Switzerland. There's a very efficient train that whisks passengers from the arrival gate to the baggage claim area, and this is what you see from the train:
And this lovely montage is accompanied by the sound of mooing and alpenhorns. Seriously.
We only had a few hours. Fortunately, there is a Confiserie Sprungli conveniently located in the terminal for all your Luxemburgerli needs.  See previous post about Luxemburgerli here.

Next stop was Madrid. Jeff met me at the airport and we caught a high-speed train to Alicante. From there, our friends picked us up and drove us to the casita we were renting near Alcalali, about an hour away. The casita was surrounded by fruit orchards and vineyards, with the nearest climbing just 10 minutes away.

We quickly established a routine of getting up in the mornings, having some fresh squeezed orange juice, and then going climbing.
Who needs the Dawn Wall? Jeff is wearing red and I'm the little pink speck
Tucked into the only shady spot on the cliff
Views of the Penon from the Olta climbing area
 On our rest days, we tried to do some sightseeing, which was kind of tough during the holiday season. Almost everything we tried to see was closed, including the castle at Guadalest. This is supposedly one of the most visited tourist attractions in Spain. We had the GPS give us directions from Alcalali, and the most direct route took us up and over the mountain pass on the left side of the picture. It was a single lane gravel road which was very poorly maintained and covered with snow at the top. I wasn't sure if our rental car would survive the trip but we made it one piece.
Since we couldn't go in, I settled for standing on the castle wall
We spent a few days in Madrid at the end of the trip. If you go to Madrid, my best tip would be to rent one of the city's electric assist bikes. These are available all around the city at little kiosks and the drivers in Madrid tend to be very accepting of bikes. With the electric assist, you can easily go around in traffic and zoom up hills without breaking a sweat.
View of the city from the Temple of Debod, a group of Egyptian ruins that were rebuilt in Madrid
We had two very memorable meals in Madrid. The first was at Camoati, a hipsterish restaurant in central Spain that had great wine and delicious roasted vegetables, among other things.

On our last night in Madrid, we ate at La Capilla de la Bolsa. The Epiphany (when the 3 kings were said to have visited Jesus) is a national holiday in Spain, and the restaurant was packed. My favourite dish was this salad with shaved asparagus, radishes, prawns and anchovies. I don't usually like anchovies, but there was something about the anchovies and the fresh asparagus that was really amazing.

And of course, it wouldn't be a trip to Spain without a lot of jamon iberico and tapas.

Meat candy!
Tasty little tapas
 I know I'm behind, but how were your holidays? Did you travel?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Outfit: Vancouver

As I mentioned in the last post, we spent the last weekend of November in Vancouver. 

It happened to be Grey Cup weekend, and the Calgary Stampeders were playing the Hamilton Tiger Cats. And, they actually won! Maybe in tribute to my hometown, the weather in Vancouver that weekend was actually very Calgary-ish. Sunny and cold, and there was even a dusting of snow on the ground.

One of my favourite places in Vancouver is Stanley Park. I never spent much time here when I actually lived in Vancouver, but as a tourist, I've loved exploring the park and discovering its treasures. 

The totem poles in the photos below are one of BC's most visited tourist attractions. They have been there since the 1960s. Most of them are replicas now.

I just realized while creating the links for this outfit that everything is Banana Republic (except for the accessories and boots). What can I say. I love the charcoal trench. It fits snugly, and looks equally good belted or worn open. It's not particularly warm though, and I don't see myself wearing it when it gets really cold. Also, the belt is really, really long. The sweater is cozy, and I love the longer length paired with a mini skirt.

Outfit details:
Coat: Banana Republic, Charcoal Wool Trench (on sale!)
Sweater: Banana Republic, (similar)
Skirt: Banana Republic, last season
Tights: Target
Boots: Frye, Paige stud (similar without the studs)
Scarf: Hudson's Bay Company, very old

Do you ever wear a single brand head to toe?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Anthropologie: Post-Black Friday reviews

Sadly (or perhaps fortunately), I was in Vancouver for Black Friday. I can't get over the extra sales tax in British Columbia (it's 7% vs 0% in Alberta), so I stayed out of the shops.

I visited the Calgary Anthro store last week and am happy to report that there are still lots of good deals, particularly with the extra 30% off promotion that was ongoing last week. I think that is over, although there's a 25% off sweaters promo now.

Looking at the photos, I wonder if I should have brought this top home. It's a sheer, loose fitting cotton and polyester top that fits true to size. It is loose but not boxy. The material feels kind of stiff, and it's not as drapey as I would have liked. I think it would look equally nice tucked into a pretty skirt or under a blazer.
Embroidered Tulle Tunic 
I have a huge weak spot for any kind of top with lace detailing, particularly in the shoulder area. This lightweight sweater is made of a cotton modal silk blend, which I was surprised to discover. The online reviews suggest that it is too short/awkward around the waist, but I found it fit very well. It fits true to size and just skims the body. The length is definitely a little on the shorter side but it's still very wearable. One caveat: I'd suggest buying this one in person because some of the sweaters I tried on had threads on the lacy detail that had come loose and it'd be easy to snag and damage them. There are 4 different colours, and I actually ended up buying 3 of these. I think they were a great deal for $41.
Nettie Pullover 
Florals were a big trend this fall and winter. I like how the darker colours of the Baikal Dress make it transition well into fall and winter. The material is thick and substantial, and the fit and flare shape is flattering. I like the extra coverage around the neckline, too. They were out of my usual size, so I took a size 2 and it fit well except that it was a touch loose around the waist. I am not sure if that means this dress runs small. I don't mind if a party dress is a little bit loose around the waist... more room for Christmas dinner! I think this dress would look cute with gold heels, and I also have plans to layer a chunky sweater over it for work.
Baikal Dress
I am pretty sure my husband will tell me this looks like a lace doily but I'm ok with that. This comes in two colours, the off-white pictured here and a purplish grey colour. Some of the cardigans on the rack were looking rather poorly, with loose threads and tufts of fuzz so I'm not sure how this will hold up.
Odense Crochet Topper
This dress also comes in blue and black. The tulip hem is a little bit different, and you'll be happy to know that it is sewn so that there's no chance of a wardrobe mishap. The fabric is super soft and cozy. It felt like I was wearing fleece. It fits true to size. I love this shade of red, and ended up happily taking it home with me.
Splitshade Tulip Hem Dress
Did you buy anything during Black Friday?

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Climbing: Bishop

Bishop is probably one of the best winter climbing destinations in North America. It's most famous for bouldering, which consists of climbing boulders without a rope. Instead, you use a thick foam pad called a crashpad to cushion the ground if you fall off. Walking through an airport with a crashpad on my back is a sure way to attract lots of attention, and I always feel a bit silly when I explain what it is and what it's for. 

The most popular bouldering areas are the Happy Boulders in the Volcanic Tablelands, and the Buttermilks. The Happys are made of volcanic tuff and the problems there tend to be fun and gym-like with lots of pockets. The landings are flat, and there are lots of good moderate and easy problems.

A bluebird day in the Happys
The Buttermilks are made of monzonite and the problems here tend to rely more on friction and crimpy edges. When I think of the Buttermilks, I think of highballs... high boulders that are really more like cliff faces. Some of the highest boulders are 45 feet tall. I'll admit I'm more of a lowball person. I like to be able to jump or fall off at any point and not die.

Weekday bouldering in the Pollen Grains, just behind the main area in the Buttermilks
There are a few other bouldering areas near Bishop that are worth checking out. I like the Druid Stones, and they're a good place to check out on a weekend... the 45 minute approach tends to keep the crowds away. The Sad Boulders are similar to the Happys, but the good problems there are mostly out of my ability so I can't say I've climbed there much, although we had fun the one day we were there.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Outfit: California desert

I know, I know. I'm shocked too! Two jeans outfit posts in a row.

On our first trip to the Bishop area, we were delighted to find a guidebook called "Touring Hot Springs: California and Nevada". We've since been to five different hot springs in the Bishop area. We took these photos on the way to one of the hot springs. I'm not sure if it was the Sheepherder or the Crab Cooker. We got lost on the way, which is easy to do on the dirt roads that criss cross the desert.

I did not take any photos of the hot spring. It was a concrete tub that was coated with algae. If that sounds gross, it really kind of was. The only redeeming thing was that the water was very hot. I've been to other hot springs that were better maintained.  

I coerced my husband into taking these photos after we got out of the hot tub, which is why my hair looks extra crazy.

Outfit details:
Shirt: Topoxte Dropwaist Tunic, Anthropologie
Jeans: American Eagle, (similar)
Shoes: Naturalizer (similar)
Sunglasses: Oakley