Off To Work I Go









Outfit | Oxford: Joe Fresh (similar) | Sweater: Old Navy (similar) | 
Pants: Banana Republic | Glasses: Ralph Lauren | Purse: Louis Vuitton Neverfull

Ok so truth time -- I wasn't on my way to work, I was on my way home. It's been a very (very, very) busy week and The Youngest was kind enough to take some photos at his school for me (if you look closely you can see his reflection). He and I had planned on baking a cake to raise money for his graduation (yes, my baby is graduating elementary school *sniff sniff*) but the week got away from us, so we headed to the grocery store to buy one instead. And for the first time, I don't feel guilty about it. It's the reality of many working parents and we all deserve a round of applause for everything we do! I was a SAHM for many years and baked cakes, cupcakes and cookies for every class but now with a full time job (and night school) it's just too much. 

Anyways... I wrote yesterday about building a work wardrobe and while researching that article, I went digging into my own closet. I found these pants from Banana Republic that I bought a few seasons ago. I have always worn the pants with plain black shirts and sweaters but this April I am all about yellow! I just can't get enough of this sunny colour. I took a big chance combining patterns - stripes and dots - and think it turned out nice. In fact, everyone at work complimented me on this outfit! They either liked the funky pants or they liked the bright sweater. I take my Neverfull to work almost everyday. I carry everything in here except my laptop. My wallet, phone, indoor shoes, lunch, waters, etc. They call it Neverfull for a reason, it's never full!

Building a Work Wardrobe

I work in a fairly conservative office with a business casual dress code -- heavy on the business, lighter on the casual side. A question I am asked frequently by newcomers to the office and my fellow university students is "how can I build a work wardrobe?" I have navigated the waters of corporate dressing for over 10 years now and I feel like an old veteran in this area of fashion.

The spring and fall in my favourite time to buy work clothing. The previous season's items are on sale and the next season is just coming out so you can scoop up new items before anyone else.

Below are my tried and true tips for building a work wardrobe for those just starting out

1. Start with a list


It's best to take an inventory of everything you currently have in your closet. This is also a good opportunity to dispose of anything that you haven't worn in more than two years or has seen better days (face it, you are never going to have that hole patched in your hoodie. Trash it and move on.) After you have your inventory, you need to create a shopping list of what you are missing. For women, you will probably need a blazer and slacks with sensible pumps, and men may find they are lacking in modern dress shirts and a nicely tailored suit. 


2. Prioritize and budget


Take all the items you think you will need and mark them from most important to least important. Everyone is watching their budgets so this is when you will need to include a clothing allowance into your budget. You may have to spend a few more dollars in the first few weeks but it will get better once you get closer to your final items. Your list from step 1 will save you money in the long run. When you shop with a list you are more likely to get what you really need instead of impulse buying something you might not (Totally guilty here. I can't count the amount of times I head out to buy a blouse and end up with some blue and white pottery instead.) 

3. It doesn't have to be the greatest quality -- At first

via Target

I love buying good quality items but I also know how expensive they are, especially when you are first starting out. When I started working in a corporate environment I bought five pairs of on sale black and grey dress pants at a well known, yet not for their quality, Canadian retailer. Since I only wore them to work I was able to make them last for a few years, yes years, until I finally upgraded to some beautifully made dress pants. I do think quality is the best way to go in the long run but sometimes your budget just won't allow for quality. My favourite budget-friendly store for work clothes are 

Old Navy - For Men: Dress shirts, khakis, crew & V-neck sweaters and belts
                   For Women: Ankle pants, flats (shoes), sheath dresses (they look great with blazers) and costume jewelry. A plain dress is made special with the addition of a chunky necklace!

Target - For Men: Ties, basics like undershirts & dress socks, collared/polo shirts and accessories such as sunglasses, wallets and backpacks. 
              For Women:  Coloured blazers, tote bags, belts, dressy blouses and shoes, both flats and heels. 

4. Stick to a colour scheme

via Banana Republic

To make life easy stick to a colour scheme when buying. This way they can easily be mixed and matched to create all new outfits. Basics such as black, grey and tan will get you started and you can add in your favourite colour to add interest. An example is for a lady to buy grey dress pants, a black blazer and a light pink blouse. For men - black slacks, a heather grey v-neck and a plaid red dress shirt underneath. 

5. You can find deals, you just have to look


Sign up for emails from each store you think you will shop in. I recommend signing up for emails from Old Navy, Banana Republic, RW & Co., Macy's in the States and Hudson's Bay in Canada. You will be notified about sale dates where you save on your entire purchase, one day, one item sales (Banana Republic is famous for their 40% off one item on Wednesdays) and special one day only sales. Recently, Hudson's Bay was having a one day sale on Calvin Klein suits which my husband took advantage of. He now has a fabulous suit for half the price. 

Other great places to check are local consignment shops (I am a big fan and frequent a few in my area), and second hand stores. You never know what treasure you will find until you look! I will admit to finding a few brand name, high quality clothing items at my local Goodwill for peanuts (like the L.L.Bean sweater I recently bought that still had the original tags on it and I only paid $4!!!)

6. And just remember, it's only five days a week


You only need this wardrobe to last you five days. You can get by with minimal articles and mix and match, think three different coloured dress pants and five different shirts/blouses. You can rewear two pairs of pants throughout the week and each week mix which shirt you wear with each pants. Which is why point 4. is so important. It makes things so much easier when you are picking out what to wear each morning. Also, hang your work clothes up as soon as the workday is done. This will help your clothing last longer. 

7. Once you are established, combine your wardrobe with your everyday wardrobe


When you have a solid understanding of how your office operates and your budget allows, work on buying clothes that can be used for both work and off hours. This helps if you know what your style is, are you preppy, casual, boho, etc? Once you know your style you can easily stick to that theme for both work and play clothes to end up with one great wardrobe!

Any questions about building a work wardrobe? Leave them in the comments or contact me at Celebratingthislife@gmail.com. I'd love to hear from you! 


{Guest Post} Crystal Reia of Your Health -Your Choice - Finding Your Motivation After Vacation

Our favourite guest blogger, Crystal Reia from Your Health -Your Choice, has returned from her sun filled vacation in Florida, happy to have you back Crystal! Today's blog post is something I know we can all relate to, jumping back into the swing of a health lifestyle after an indulgent vacation. It's so difficult to get back to working out and eating healthy after spending a week or two relaxing and drinking pina coladas! But it has to be done, so without further ado, here is Crystal sharing her advice on Finding Your Motivation After Vacation. xx Rox-Anne

As you all know, I was away last week on vacay with my hubby! It was way overdo (like 8 years overdo!) and I definitely indulged til my hearts content (ate and drank things I do not normally) and had a lot of fun and much needed rest. We travelled to New Smyrna Beach, Florida and met up with our good friends at their condo. We did managed to get in some beautiful 10k walks on the lovely beach there too so I wasn't completely sedentary. It was amazing being able to just walk to most places instead of driving. We even did some yoga on the beach one day and did a fun plank challenge to see how long we could hold for! LOL My friend and I held 4 minutes! Woot! Woot! WTG Brian!



Now we are back home and yes I have to admit I am dragging a$$ mid-week. Monday I had talked myself into getting back to the grind and going full speed ahead. Honestly I felt good despite being tired from the travel – I went right back to my healthy eating, prepare some awesome meals and I taught 5 classes that consisted of some outdoor activity (walking, jogging, hill sprints, bench lunges, push-ups) and some indoor activity (weights, HIIT and stretch) as well as ended my day with my yoga-stretch class... all felt great until the next day! LOL Yes I CAN BARELY MOVE! Haha

I love a good sore – but it was definitely extremely intense and I’m still feeling the aftermath today. So it seems that I jumped the gun a little too quick after my break!?! Aghhhh!

I thought it was important to share with you all that when you take a break from training and come back, you should really ease back into it. Be careful not to overdo it your first week back. If you have the motivation to jump in (which is awesome – because many do not right away) be careful of the superman/superwoman syndrome – which is what I had Monday! If you lift too heavy or overdo it physically you could find yourself injured rather quickly and then have to take a step back...In my case I think it was just the intensity I went at my first day back. So even though I don’t let my age dictate the things I can do, I need to remember that even I as a trainer can overdo it at my age... it’s not like it was when I was in my twenties!!

And if you find yourself on the opposite end of the spectrum where you just can’t seem to drag yourself to the gym or your workout after your holiday... maybe you need to call a friend and go for a walk to just get active again or invite a friend to a fitness or yoga class. I find that going it alone can be hard, but if you have support around you it can help you get back on track again. I am that support for many clients – so it was nice to hear them say they were happy I was home again :)

Short and sweet post today but thought it was important to share nevertheless!

Hope you all have a fun and fit week!

~Crystal~


















Crystal Reia
PTS, PFS, OAS
Your Health-Your Choice

Email: yourhealth-yourchoice@live.ca

www.yourhealth-yourchoice.weebly.com
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Farm Boy


One of my families favourite things to do while visiting a new city is check out the local grocery store. Farm Boy recently opened in Kitchener so I was pretty excited that I didn't have to travel far to visit a new one! AMH and I had our first visit on Christmas Eve and we have been back almost every weekend since (truthfully I'm obsessed with their $1.29 fresh squeezed lemonade!).

Sure, it is just a grocery store so how different can it be from others? Well, I find Farm Boy to have more local items from Canadian vendors, their meat selection is incredible, the produce is always fresh with a great organic section and a large selection of fresh take home dinner items. Interested in a look around? Sure you are. Let's go!


Farm Boy has such a cute "farm" theme to the entrance. I think it aligns with their idea of supporting local and eating holistically. 


My first stop in Farm Boy is always the organic section to pick up lemons, limes and avocado. The price is slightly more for organic so if your looking for a more economical option, the non-organic fruit is just as delicious (and I substitute quite often in the off-season).


I mean really...how can you not love a place that has a HUGE display of candy!


The meat section is a favourite destination of AMH (guys love grilling meat!). I love how they display the meat, it always looks appetizing, and we have been satisfied with every purchase. 


The make your own pizza section is my boys' favourite spot. They get to choose their own style of crust, white, whole wheat or gluten free, they type of pizza sauce and toppings. As busy parents, we love how easy it is to pick up pre-chopped toppings. Homemade pizza always tastes better than store bought. 


The bakery! Butter tarts, special occasion cakes, warm croissants, breads, tarts and cookies are far as the eye can see.


The cheese section rivals any specialty retailer I have visited. We picked up a few new cheeses for Christmas and have made it a point to pick up something new every few weeks.


Hummingbird Chocolate is my favourite treat to pick up. They are little bars of artisanal chocolates from Ottawa. They have a high cacao count so they are low on calories (bonus!). I have never been a fan of dark chocolate but this brand converted me! I recommend the fleur de sel, as shown above, and the Mayan which has a little chili spice in it (trust me, it's delicious!).


Well thanks for coming along this little tour of our local Farm Boy. Do you have a Farm Boy in your area? Are you as in love as I am (I can tell you my mom loves the Farm Boy in her area too!)

Bicycle Necklace



Alex Monroe (exclusive to Liberty London) Rose Gold-Plated Bicycle Necklace

I have spent the last two weekends on my bicycle and I am loving it (AMH and I hit 60 kms this weekend). My bike was my  favourite childhood toy and looks like it's my favourite adult toy too! I have a great bike that unfortunately spent last summer on the sidelines but I wasn't going to sit out this summer! After a few weeks at the bike shop, my bike is as good as new! This necklace from Liberty London sure would show off my love of biking. 

How was everyone's weekend? 

Bike Riding Season









Outfit | Oxford: Ralph Lauren | Shorts: Lilly Pulitzer | Belt: Target |
Shoes: Nike Walk (similar) | Bike: Peugeot

Growing up my favourite toy was my bicycle. I lived in a very (very) small town so it wasn't difficult to ride around the entire town at a young age. Of course my frequent destinations were the library, candy store and the river. I feel so fortunate that I grew up surrounded by water, it provided endless hours of entertainment. It was common place to see me and my brother riding our bikes to the river with a fishing pole sticking out of our backpacks. 

Last weekend we had incredible weather, 30 degrees on Sunday, the perfect day to bring the bikes out of their winter hibernation. My bike was a gift from my father in law, it is such an amazing bike! I'd love to paint it tiffany blue or even bubblegum pink but that is a big job (maybe a summer DIY!). I had it in the shop a few weeks ago to replace from broken parts, like my forks and brakes. Now, it is running like a song! What started as a leisurely bike ride for AMH and myself turned into a 29 kms race to the Laurel Creek reservoir. It felt wonderful to be back on a bike, headed to the water. The only think missing was a fishing pole. 

The nice weather had everyone stripping off layers and searching for summer items. Luckily, I had just bought these Lilly Pulitzer shorts at the Lilly Warehouse Sale the previous weekend. Navy and pink is one of my favourite colour combinations so I immediately reached for my RL oxford. Since it was so warm I rolled my sleeves J.Crew style and found that they cuffs stay put and are not bulky. The only downside is I forgot to put sunblock on my exposed arms and ended up with a bad sunburn. Please don't forget to apply SPF! I bought these Nike Walk shoes in preparation for my big upcoming trip, I plan on doing a lot of walking on this trip, and wanted something comfortable. I'm wearing them now to break them in a little and make sure they are all ready for our trip. 

...And It Was All Yellow


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I always associate April with yellow. It's when the daffodils bloom, lemon-aid starts to flow and the sun starts to shine bright. This month for my colour round up I have select items in this bright and cheery shade. The Lilly Pulitzer buttercup shorts were my jumping off point (I'm obsessed with them!). I added this Joules rain coat (April showers) and a few beach items like this Lands' End monogrammed beach towel (if it's not moving, monogram it!) and my favourite beach day drink, lemon ice tea from Canadian company Good Drink. Speaking of monograms, how great is this lemon print, monogrammed stationary from Minted? I would love to send, or receive, a spring time message on this stationary. This Crane & Canopy yellow bedding has me rethinking my master bedroom decor. It sure would make waking up on a Monday morning more cheerful! 

Passport Holders







Shinola $150 Made in Detroit! Additional colours and monogramming available here



All prices in US dollars

AMH and I have booked a very special vacation (more details to come!) and it's time to invest in a passport holder. I would love to bring any one of these along on my journey to protect my passport, and to give it a little flair!

What are your travel plans for this summer? Stay tuned, I'll be sharing details of our BIG trip soon!

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie


I am not a chef. Let's just get that out of the way. I search new dinner recipes out of food boredom, both my own and my kids. I cook to feed myself and my family but it is not my passion. I am not a chef, but I am a baker. Welcome to my home bakery (which is what I call my kitchen :)


Today, I have set out to discover the best chocolate chip cookie. It's hard work but someone has to do it. Armed with my new Kate Spade apron, and the best chocolate chips, semi sweet Ghirardelli, I vow to find the best chocolate chip cookie in the world! To start I very scientifically (ahem, googled) chose the two top rated recipes on Delish.com - the copycat Levain Bakery cookies and Tate's Bake Shop.


Levain's Bakery has three locations throughout New York City, each equipped with a webcam so you can check out the lines (hint, the line is always long). These thick and cakey chocolate chip cookies seemed like the perfect cookie to start with. I followed the recipe and at step 3 when they call to "form into loose, baseball-sized mounds and place on cookie sheet" I was skeptical that it would properly cook all the way through. If you are going to try this recipe, stick to the instructions. They cook perfectly and have a gentle crunch on the outside with a soft, delicious interior. 


The other contender for best chocolate chip cookie was this recipe for Tate's Bake Shop chocolate chip cookies. They are the exact opposite of the Levain cookies, thin and crisp. Tate's is this adorable bakery in Southhampton, NY that is a household name in the cookie connoisseur business. Luckily  for those of us that do not live in the area, you can find their products on shelves in speciality food shops (Vincenzo's in Waterloo, Ont. stocks a wide variety of their cookies including the gluten free ones!)


To try and suit the different palettes in my family I made one batch with, and one without, sprinkled sea salt. 


The sea salt sets in the cookie during baking and adds a subtle crunch and gentle spike of salty with your sweet chocolate chips. 


Who will win the best chocolate chip cookie challenge? Will it be Tate's Bake Shop thin and crispy cookies on the left or Levain Bakery's thick and cakey cookies on the right?

After conducting some very scientific analysis that involved lots of taste testing by the family and milk palette cleansers, this is my conclusion:

 - The Youngest loved the thin, crispy ones without seas salt

 - The Oldest loved the thick, cakey ones

 - I loved the thin, crispy with sea salt 

...and the one person who could break the tie, the husband, didn't even have any! 

It appears that everyone has their own preference when it comes to chocolate chip cookies. Either way, it was a fun day of baking in the Home Bakery and each recipe yielded wonderfully delicious cookies. It's all a matter of preference on which one is the best. 

Grab a few bags of chocolate chips and try these recipes for yourself. Let me know which one is YOUR favourite!

Copycat Tate's Bake Shop Chocolate Chip Cookie on Delish.com
Copycat Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookie on Delish.com (I omitted the walnuts)

Lilly Pulitzer Warehouse Sale (Canada)


It finally happened, I made it out to the Lilly Pulitzer warehouse sale! Each year that the Canadian sale is on I happen to be out of the country at the time. Well not this time! The stars aligned and I had a whole weekend of no plans so a shopping we will go!


On Saturday morning I was up bright and early to drive an hour into Toronto to be at the Lilly warehouse sale when they opened at 9 am. The sale ran last Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The Lilly warehouse sale in Philadelphia is the stuff of legend. A quick google search will yield dozens of news outlets and bloggers who covered the craziness ranging from long lines to angry shoppers to shoppers who undress in the middle of the convention centre who do not want to wait for a change room! We Canadians are a little more reserved than that and at 9:05 am I walked right into the sale room ready for some 70% off Lilly Pulitzer shopping!


Unlike the Lilly/Philly sale, there is no restocking throughout the weekend. I visited on the last day of the sale and supplies, and sizes, were very limited. But that didn't stop me from picking up a few great pieces (more on that below). The photo above gives you an idea on what the warehouse looks like and how items are laid out. There is a change room at the back of the room and while there was a little wait, it wasn't too bad. 


There was a decent stock on accessories. Various iPhone covers, wall plugs, iPad covers and even some agendas. Sandals, one of the items I was hoping to grab, were in limited sizes and unfortunately my size was gone. I'm sure they were a hot item! There was also swimwear, with each piece being $5, but it was mostly other brands like Sperry. 


There are two Lilly Pulitzer stores in Canada - Island View A Lilly Pulitzer Signature Store in Downtown Oakville and a seasonal Muskoka store in Port Carling. If you were not able to make it out to the warehouse sale, take a drive over to one of the stores! Oakville is a beautiful town, I like to make a day out of my Lilly visit and I'd love to head up to the Muskoka store one summer. The Muskoka area is so beautiful it's another great place to spend the day or rent a cottage and go for the weekend!


I think I did pretty well at the sale! I was in real need of shorts and I lucked out getting three pairs of my favourite Lilly Pulitzer shorts, the 5" Callahan in True Navy, Resort White & Hotty Pink for $26.40 (reg. $88). The Lacie shorts (similar) at $47.50 (reg $158) came highly recommended by the staff. They said the lace shorts have the comfort of loungewear but are cute and dressy. I was really happy to score the Witherbee Polo for $27.60 (reg $92), it was a shirt I had my eye on last summer but for one reason or another just didn't buy. 

I had high hopes for a shift or a beach cover up and while I didn't grab either, I am VERY happy with my purchase. In typical Canadian weather news we had freezing rain and snow last weekend and this weekend it was over 20 degrees and hot, hot, hot! I wore my new Callahans yesterday for a nice long bike ride and today I am paying for not wearing sunblock. I am burnt! 

So tell me, how did you make out at the sale? Have you been to the Philly sale? What Lilly items do you have your eye on for this summer? (I'm considering this, this and this)