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Monday
Mar202017

TOP MODELS | Check Out 35 Statement-Making Tops You'll Live In This Spring

via Fashion Jackson

Originally posted in The CLOSET

There's a backlash against basics going on right now and I'm totally ready for it; I'm ready to stash away my plain white tees and solid crew necks for now and replace them with something a little more amazeballs. I'm set to throw caution to the spring wind and step out of my comfort zone. I'm down with getting a lil' bit cray in my shopping cart. Don't get me wrong - I will never hate on the classics. Classics will always have a place in my heart. Classics are classics for a reason.

But if the Spring '17 runways were any indication, our top halves are about to get turned up. When you shop for new tops this season, remember this:

1) MAKE A STATEMENT | Statement sleeves are the major story this spring, allowing us to risk it all with seriously stylish consequences. Sleeves aren't just two tubes of fabric - this season, they're tied up, ruffled, bell-sleeved and dramatically oversized. Sleeves, once just an afterthought, have become the main event.

2) BRUSH YOUR SHOULDER OFF | Exposed shoulders are still a big story, but the game has been raised for Spring '17. Added ruffles, exaggerated openings and playful prints let you bring out your inner flirt, whether you opt for a cold shoulder sweater, an off-the-shoulder shirt or a one-shoulder stunner. 

3) PRINTS CHARMING | Speaking of prints, I'm excited to see the return of bright, bold, colourful prints this spring, after SO many seasons of solids. A basic bottom half calls for a gorgeous floral, a pretty gingham or an artful abstract to draw attention to your upper half. Add a pair of shoulder skimming earrings and you'll never go unnoticed. 

Read on for 35 statement-making tops that you'll live in this spring...

READ MORE...

 

Wednesday
Mar082017

SWEET ESCAPE | 10 Reasons We'd Go Back to Beaches Turks & Caicos in a Hot Minute

Mojitos with a view. Sigh...take me back...

It took me much longer than it should have to post this review and I have Beaches Turks & Caicos to blame. Our trip to the resort in January was so relaxing that I'm only now coming out of my vacation fog. I've spent the last several weeks bawling as I scrape ice off my windshield, constantly wondering why nobody ever cooks our meals anymore, and randomly reaching for phantom mojitos. Life at Beaches was so dreamy that I'll admit it: I didn't know if I could handle looking at these pictures of paradise again. Read on for 10 reasons I'm ready to go back, like now. Too soon?

Shell-hunting along the dreamy beach.

#mermaidlife

If you think you've experienced a perfect white sand beach on past vacays, you very well might have. I was certain I'd experienced one - until I stepped onto the beach in Turks & Caicos. While my run-ins with sand have always been a little rough, the T&C beach is just so smooth, so powdery that you're left walking with silk between your toes and the clear, turquoise waters of Grace Bay just beyond. It's heaven - if your idea of heaven involves a mojito in your hand and the perfect beach at your feet. Just me? Also, Beaches Turks & Caicos has its own private stretch of beach complete with loads of loungers and stocked coolers on the adjacent boardwalk, so you can stretch out with a good book and a cool drink while your kids happily frolic in the sand and surf. Like I said: heaven. 

 

The view from our upper balcony.

Our charming home away from home.

Beaches Turks & Caicos is big. Like really big. Yet with 4 villages, each with its own unique vibe, you get the options of a large resort with the intimate feel of a much smaller one. We took the kids here 3 years ago - at the time, we chose the French Village and loved it there. The Caribbean Village is the original part of the resort which we worried might feel dated. The Italian Village felt like a 24/7 party (fun) but with really young kids, we weren't sure if we wanted to be so close to the action. I have friends who have stayed in the Italian village who loved being at the heart of the resort, but it's just not our thing. The French Village is set back from the ocean but we loved the chill vibe and actually really enjoyed the walking because it allowed us to eat more. Goals. Plus, it's really close to the resort's Café de Paris where one of us would inevitably stumble, bleary-eyed, each morning to stock up on cappuccinos for us, steamed milks for the kids, and croissants & pains au chocolat for the whole crew (all included, of course). This time, my mother-in-law booked us into the Key West Village, the newest section of the resort, which is STUN-ning. It's brand new so all of the rooms and pools feel modern and fresh but the gardens are thriving and abundant so it doesn't feel sparse, as some new builds do. We were lucky to get upgraded to a 2 storey, 2 bedroom concierge suite in Key West Village (gifted by the Beaches PR team). The main floor features a kitchen, living room, dining area, ensuite bathroom, laundry room (less packing - yay!) and bedroom with a front and rear balcony. You walk upstairs to discover the loft which gives you another bedroom with its own balcony and ensuite, so it's much more like a condo than a hotel room. Our fridge was fully stocked with beers, sodas, juices and water when we arrived and of course, since it's an all-inclusive resort, we had full bottles of premium liquor at our disposal 24/7 which I would have absolutely crushed in my 20s. Now, it was just nice for the occasional CHUG CHUG CHUG. Oh wait, right, that was University. We just sipped. It was all very family-friendly. I'm going on and on here but basically, having been there twice and spent some time in all of the villages, I'd highly recommend either the French Village or Key West Village, depending on your preferences and your budget. And if you can splurge or are celebrating a major milestone, would also highly recommend the villa set-up because it was so luxurious. My sister- and brother-in-law stayed in the Key West 1-Bedroom Concierge Villa Suite which is ideal if you have small kids since you get your own bedroom, the kids can sleep in the main room, and you don't have to worry about stairs. Also, the cleaning staff came twice a day so despite our laissez-faire (read: messy) ways, our place was always blissfully clean. They are very clear with you that you are not allowed to tip which does partially account for the price. When they say all-inclusive, they really mean it. 

He has no idea how to play chess but he look super serious about it nonetheless.

Ready to hit the waterslides at Pirates Island Waterpark. 

There are endless activities for the entire family at Beaches Turks & Caicos. Pirates Island Waterpark is a 45,000 square-foot playground with everything from waterslides and a surf simulator for thrill-seekers, to a meandering lazy river for those of us who prefer a slightly slower pace, plus swim-up soda bars, kid-friendly pools and play areas for the littles. If you like to keep it real and stick to the ocean, Beaches T&C watersports amenities are second to none. You can enjoy unlimited scuba-diving (lessons are included) and watersports like paddleboards, sea kayaks, windsurfing and Hobie Cats. Snorkelling gear can be rented (also free of charge) to explore one of Turks' many world-renowned reefs - we walked 20 minutes down the beach to a famous snorkel spot where we swam with flocks(?) of eagle rays, sea turtles (amaaaazing) and even one very ugly barracuda (shudder). On land, you can take advantage of the many land sports on offer, like tennis lessons, beach volleyball, a beautiful fitness center and large lawn chess boards scattered around the resort. For gamers, there's an XBox Play Lounge with loads of gaming stations, pool tables, the Scratch DJ Academy where you can learn mad turntable skills (sorry, skillz) and Club Liquid, a super fun-looking nightclub for teens. Basically, your family will never, ever be bored at Beaches. 

An adorable breakfast with the characters of Sesame Street.

Beaches Resorts has an exclusive partnership with Sesame Street so you'll occasionally see your fave Sesame Street characters roaming around the resort, posing for pics, making guest appearances in the kids club (cookie baking with Cookie Monster was a huge hit with our kids) and nightly entertainment at the main stage. You might think this could get annoying but the characters show up so infrequently throughout the day that they are never in your face. My entire family attended the Character Breakfast with all of the Sesame Street characters one morning. There are very few add-ons at Beaches but this is one of them - for a small fee, you show up to the French Village and are treated to a VIP breakfast with decorated tables, balloons, personal meet-and-greets with all of the characters and a post-breakfast dance party that is cray, in a good way. Like seriously, Cookie Monster and the Count have mooooves. I was worried that my 8 year-old daughter would think she was too cool for Sesame Street but she perhaps loved it more than anyone. If you want to opt for a little something extra for your littles, this is definitely worthwhile. Don't miss the incredible Caribbean parade that makes its way through the resort once a week (usually on a Tuesday evening - check the resort's weekly calendar when you arrive so you don't miss it). Also, the entertainment team is top notch with great dance shows and comedy skits so all of the nightly shows were loads of fun, too. 

Hours of cousin fun were had on this beach. 

Good times with Grandpa. 

When you try to check your work emails on vacay...

One thing you realize on vacation is that while being together in a beautful setting is nice, it's the being together part that you remember the most. My husband's parents very (!) generously took us on this trip so we were able to spend an entire week together with them, my sister and brother-in-law and our two nephews. We did our own thing during the day for the most part but would meet up at various spots around the resort for lunch, on the beach or to just chill at the pool. By the way, the Wi-Fi is incredibly good at the resort so we set up a Facebook Messenger group to stay in touch - SO helpful. At night, we would meet at one of the resort's many restaurants (more on that below) and would usually head to the main stage to catch a show together afterwards. With no meals to prepare, no dishes to do, no house to clean and no work deadlines to worry about (for now), you can enjoy a blissful week just spending time together. Our kids don't need stuff - they already have too much. A vacation is money SO well-spent, if only for the time you get to spend together just having fun. Aaaannd, when you need a break from the kids (because sometimes, you just do...see the b&w pic above for the moment James tried to respond to few work emails lol)


Our kids with their new Build-a-Bear stuffies.

Beaches Turks & Caicos Kids Camps give you free babysitting, All. Day. Long. With the exception of a small dinner break, there are programmed activities going on all day and into the evening at the kids clubs, all tailored to suit the ages of your children. All nannies and Kids Camp staffers at Beaches Resorts are members of the International Nanny Association. To become accredited, you're required to meet the minimum 2,000 hours of child-care services, in addition to receiving training in safety, nutrition and child development. Small children don't get stuck in a tiny nursery that calls itself a kids club - they get to build sandcastles on the beach, hunt for treasures and do science experiments with Sesame Street characters. My kids are 6 and 8 so their age group gets to have amazing experiences like snorkelling (in a safe spot), boat rides and even pizza-making sessions. We only put our kids in the camp once during our stay this time since James' parents wanted to spend more time with their grandkids (um, best in-laws EVER), so we decided to take them to camp on Build-a-Bear Day, where they actually got to go to the resort's mini Build-a-Bear store and create their own stuffies as a souvenir from the trip. The bears weren't cheap (by stuffie standards) but they remain some of our kids' most prized possessions (err...new family members). On our last trip, we were so grateful for the Kids Camp as it allowed us to go on a date night to one of the resort's more upscale adults-only restaurants, and to enjoy an afternoon getting pampered at Red Lane Spa, sans kids.  

Prettiest little surf shack ever. 

Pre-snorkelling pic. I immediately realized that my bathing suit was precisely 'seal' colour but luckily, no sharks were spotted (and no bloggers were harmed) on this outing. 

When your mom makes you match the backdrop because she just can't help herself. 

Love. 

I took all of the pics in this post with my iPhone 6, and I don't consider myself much of a photographer; the great thing about Beaches is that the setting does most of the work for you. Between the turquoise ocean, the majestic palm trees, the brightly coloured surf shack and the weathered boardwalk, it's a dream-come-true for snap-happy parents, regardless of your skill (or lack thereof). My husband and kids were really good sports about me constantly snapping their pics until day 4, at which point my husband made me lock my iPhone in our safe. With so much beauty everywhere, it's just way too tempting. My in-laws booked a professional family photo session so we could get proper family pics and I can't recommend that enough. You're relaxed, have time on your hands, and are all together in one beautiful spot, so it's the perfect time for family photos. At the request of James' mom, we all wore khaki and white (which miraculously managed to stay white for the duration of the photoshoot) so our pictures looked extra polished and profesh. Scroll down to check out our group shot - it's a framer. 

Our VIP Cabana at the French Village pool (thank you Beaches T&C). 

There are 6 large pools at Beaches Turks & Caicos, all with their own swim-up bars. Each pool has its own vibe but we usually alternated between the Italian Village party pool and the calmer French Village pool. My favourite thing about the large pools at this resort is that the sightlines are fantastic, meaning you rarely have to worry about losing track of your child. If you do, my experience is that you'll probably find them at the swim-up bar ordering a kid-friendly blender drink from the bartender, and feeling like a total boss. I packed a few neon rashguards for my kids which made them even easier to spot. There are smaller pools scattered throughout the resort, some for families and some reserved just for adults, which are perfect when you're in the mood for a quiet swim. Before bed, we would often let our kids have a late night jacuzzi which they thought was the most amazing thing ever. Don't you just love parent wins? We were offered a cabana on our last full day at the resort (more blogger benefits) and it was amazing to have our own shaded area to enjoy for the day. Whether you get a cabana or not, though, we never had trouble finding lounge chairs during our stay. 

Dinner at Soy Sushi Bar. 

Typical breakfast scene. 

A leisurely late breakfast at Bayside Restaurant where we enjoyed most breakfasts and some lunches on our trip (because it was just tooo beautiful). 

When it comes to dining, the resort's 19 specialty restaurants ensure that you'll never feel that all-inclusive fatigue so many of us have experienced on vacation. You can't go wrong at any of the restaurants but the following were our faves:

BREAKFAST

Café de Paris - Lattés, cappuccinos and pastries whenever you want. If you're used to dropping $6 every time you set foot near a Starbucks, this seems so indulgent

Bayside Restaurant - buffet style so this restaurant is less about the food and more about the setting (see pic directly above and you'll understand why we came here nearly every morning for breakfast)

Sky Restaurant - A la carte restaurant located directly above Bayside so the views are equally beautiful and the pancakes are delish.

LUNCH

Bella Napoli Pizzeria - Fantastic wood-fired pizzas which you can take to go, so you can eat by the pool, on the beach or wherever you happen to feel like eating that day.

DINNER

Soy Sushi Bar - excellent sushi, beautiful atmosphere.

Taste of India - we were literally the only ones in the restaurant but the Indian food here was really fantastic, and obviously underappreciated.

Giuseppe's - Crowd-pleasing Italian with great pasta and mains. 

Kimonos - Teppanyaki-style bar and the one of the few restaurants at the resort that requires a reso - less about the food and more about the grill-side show (our kids loved it).

Schooner's Seafood Grill - probably my favourite dinner restaurant, with great seafood and live beachside reggae music. Breakfast here is quite good, too btw. Be sure to check out the bathroom for décor inspo. 

Cotton candy score at Bobby Dee's. 

Ordering their fave drinks from their fave bartender. 

When you go to Beaches Turks & Caicos, you get a sense of security that's unfortunately hard to find these days. While I wouldn't necessarily consider myself a 'resort person' (ie. I love to explore and travel the world, love the excitement of getting lost, adore getting loco with the locals, etc.), there's nothing easier and more carefree than a great resort when you're travelling with kids because once you book your vacation, the resort takes care of the rest. You always feel very safe, whether you're running back to your room to grab something at night or your kids want to walk to the bar to grab a drink by themselves. The staff make it their mission to make you and your kids feel welcome so there are good vibes all around. They've got family travelling down to a science, with kid-friendly everything, from the al fresco restaurants and bars to the shallow pools to the family-friendly activities that allow your entire family to enjoy the fun together. There are pleasant surprises around every corner, like Bobby Dee's: an all-day, all-night ice cream shoppe that lets your kids score milkshakes, sundaes and cotton candy whenever they (or you) feel like it (I mean, it's a vacation so the only rules are that there are no rules, right?). No stress, no worries, just fun. People often ask me if Beaches Turks & Caicos is worth the price for an all-inclusive? Absolutely. Would we go back? In a hot minute. Excuse me while I go scrape the ice off my windshield, cook my own dinner and have a little cry ;)

Disclaimer: We purchased our Beaches Turks & Caicos trip but received some special perks (aka blogger benefits) from the Beaches team. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday
Mar082017

TREND REPORT | Why Spring 2017 Is All About Doing You

 via Coach

Originally posted in The CLOSET

We go through different phases in life of wanting to conform and dying to be different. As a teenager, I remember thinking that I had my own amazing sense of style, only to look back at pics and realize my group of friends had a very distinct uniform - a tragic, Disney-sponsored-skate-park-by-day-rave-by-night uniform. It's really hard to describe, and I won't torture you with the pics, but it basically consisted of mini skirts or dresses, tiny logo tees (my monster truck tee was my fave), over-the-knee socks and Converse or Gazelles.  Occasionally we wore our Little Mermaid backpacks, but they were way too small to hold anything other than a few tubes of LipSmackers so we usually just carried them on empty. For the record, there were no soothers. Whether we knew it at the time or not, wearing this uniform made us part of a club, made us look like a team, made us feel like we belonged.

As you grow up, you reach a point where the last thing you want to do is look like everyone else. Some people get tattoos, others chop their hair, but however we decide to define ourselves, we take action to stand out. We want to be noticed and respected, and while we don't always feel in control of our lives, there is always fashion to help us make our mark. Sure, we might look back to regret the fashion choices we've made (let's just forget my Spice Girl sneakers in 2001, please), but every fashion phase we endure comes to define us in some way... 

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Tuesday
Mar072017

These 35 Accessories Will Get You So Excited for Spring

via Dynamite

Originally posted in The Fashion Scoop

-24ºC overnight tonight and it's March. I feel for you Sudbury. The sun might be out but it's not really doing its job. The light's on but nobody's home. Like, if the sun had a boss, it would be so fired, amirite? And so, I feel like today is the perfect time to talk spring. But instead of teasing you with cute sandals and flirty little dresses which you have no hope of actually wearing for the next few months, I'm sharing loads of fun accessories to brighten your day.

Colourful, fun and affordable, the new accessories coming into stores right now scream spring but don't require warm spring weather to wear them. Replace your heavy knit scarf with a pretty new pastel version. Let a pair of shoulder-skimming earrings get the spring party started, even if you're still wearing your toque. And nothing takes advantage of those sunny winter days quite like a new pair of mirrored sunglasses - I'm personally partial to pink.

Happy March and happy accessory shopping.  -24ºC: um yup, you totally deserve it ;)

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Thursday
Feb232017

Get an Early Jump On Spring with These 15 Playful Picks

via Dynamite

Originally posted in The CLOSET

Okay fine, it's only February. And I know I should live for the moment and seize the day and do all of those things I'm told are good for my mental health. I love the snow. I love the winter. I love the cold. Repeat after me: we love the snow and the winter and the cold. Brrr...is it March yet? As I look at all of the pretty pieces coming into stores for spring, though, I think I've found my silver lining. These finds let me embrace the present while looking to the future, too. They let me have a cute spring fling while still making the absolute most of winter. From a fashion perspective, shopping for spring in winter is a win-win: it allows you to buy pretty new things now and wear them way longer.  Scroll down for the items on my want-list right now. So much cuteness, you'll have a really hard time waiting. And you really shouldn't. Carpe diem.

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