Wednesday, November 25, 2015

What to Expect, Bring, and Avoid at a Bridal Consultation

As a follow-up to my last post about my David's Bridal dress shopping experience, this post is going to be all about what to bring, expect, and avoid at a bridal consultation. I've watched countless Say Yes to the Dress episodes over the years, and in some ways, it's not that far off...just less cameras, drama, and generally less staff helping you out! 

What to Expect

* Depending on when the consultation is, the store can be very busy, so you should expect to have to be patient at times. It's not really all that much to ask for since there are so many beautiful dresses to look at while you wait. Even when you're in the fitting rooms, they provide iPads so you can browse through their inventory at your leisure. I brought a list of dresses that I had picked out from the website, and I am so glad I did because it provided my consultant with a clear idea of the style of dress I was looking for.

* Expect to be stripping down in front of your consultant! Those dresses are not exactly easy to get into, so don't think for one second that you'll be shimmying into them all on your own! The consultants do this for a living, so don't worry...they see half naked bodies all the time and yours won't faze them in the least. 

What to Bring

* Since you'll be getting half naked for your appointment, I would really recommend that you don't wear the wrong kind of underwear. What I mean by that is, you're going to want to either wear or bring a pair of undies that are discreet enough to hide underneath your dress. If you're wearing bright pink undies and you're trying on a light, form-fitting dress, you are probably going to be able to see your underwear and it will inevitably distract from your perception of the dress. 

* Make sure someone in your group brings a camera to take pictures of every dress you try on! I only tried on 6 dresses, but I can imagine after 10+, things would start to get confusing, so it's always good to have pictures to look at later when you're making the final decision. 

* I brought my wedding shoes with me to my appointment, but I didn't end up wearing them. Instead, I used a pair that they had in the store, which worked out better because they were much easier to get on and off between dresses (mine have tiny little ankle straps). In any case, I would recommend bringing your bridal shoes with you anyway, just so you can get a better idea of how they will look with your dress. 

What to Avoid 

* Wedding dress shopping is a very significant moment in a woman's life, and certainly a special event worth sharing with friends and family. However, that being said, it's important to not lose sight of what you want from your dress! Having the love and support of family and friends is absolutely wonderful, don't get me wrong, but if you've brought 10+ people with you for the appointment, it might get a bit overwhelming with so many opinions swirling around. At the end of the day, it's all about what you are comfortable with, so don't feel too badly if you can't invite every woman in your address book!

* If you have a price point, stick to it as much as you can. Wedding dresses can be VERY expensive, so if your budget is $900, don't bother trying on that $1500 dress unless you are fully prepared to hang it right back up afterwards! 
* Be considerate! Your consultant is there to help you, and your group is there to support you...but you can't be a bridezilla! If your bridal consultation is scheduled for an hour and a half, don't be difficult and stretch it out over your allotted time. Not only are you making your consultant late for her next appointment, but you're also forcing the next bride to wait until you're finished. General rule of thumb: be considerate and avoid excessive demands. 

*Finally, avoid feeling guilty if you don't buy a dress. Finding the right wedding dress is a very big decision, so it really shouldn't be rushed. Even if you think you've found the right one, sometimes it's a good idea to step away from the situation and give yourself some time to think it over. Just because you don't make a purchase during your appointment, doesn't mean you won't ever buy a dress. It will all come in time, and you will find the perfect dress! 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Wedding Dress Shopping

Happy Monday! I hope you all had a lovely weekend because I know I certainly did! After having to re-schedule due to a cold a few weeks ago, I finally went to David's Bridal to try on wedding blessing dresses! Initially, I will admit I wasn't completely sold on the whole ritual, but now I am so happy I went and really excited about finding a dress! 

I am so thankful that my mum and aunt drove up from Kingston for the appointment, along with my mother-in-law and grandma, who came from Richmond and Kanata respectively! It was really special for me to have them all there, and I really appreciated their support and insight.

When we arrived at the bridal store, I was surprised to see quite a few groups of people all huddled outside waiting for the doors to open. I guess I hadn't expected it to be so busy at 11:00 am on a Sunday morning! Since we had arrived about twenty minutes early, we took the extra time to grab a coffee, before returning to the store for the appointment. Unfortunately, this is when my mum discovered that at some point earlier that morning (likely when they had stopped for gas), she had lost her bank card! Luckily, my mother-in-law was kind enough to offer to take my mum to the bank and sort the whole thing out, so they left just as soon as we signed in for our appointment at the front desk. Since it was so busy, they had us browse around through the racks while we waited for our consultant to call my name over the intercom. After about 10 minutes, we met with the consultant and headed back to the fitting rooms to start the appointment. 

I had done my research, so I actually came prepared with a list of my favorite designs featured on their website, complete with style numbers to make them easier to find on their inventory system (those of you who know me well enough won't be surprised by this!). I tried on 6 dresses in total, but was feeling really anxious since neither my mum or mother-in-law were there to see the first 4 that I tried on. I was thankful I wasn't alone, but I was starting to get pretty anxious that they were going to miss the whole thing. Thankfully, they arrived, and I was SO happy to see them standing there when I stepped out of the fitting room with dress #4 on!

There were so many beautiful dresses in the store, and it was a bit overwhelming at first, but I must say, the consultants are very knowledgeable and helpful! Of the 6 dresses I tried on, it was pretty easy to nix three of them right away, but once we narrowed the decision down to two, things got a lot more difficult! We didn't end up buying a dress, but I'm not the least bit upset, because first of all, I know that we will, and second of all, I really needed some time away from the bridal store to process everything and really think about exactly what I wanted anyway. 

After I got changed back into my regular clothes, the five of us headed over to Scores for some much needed sustenance! There aren't a whole lot of choices when it comes to restaurants in the Trainyards, but Scores is actually a pretty great place to go! They are kind of like Swiss Chalet to me, in that they both pride themselves on rotisserie-style chicken. In any case, the food was great and it was nice to sit down and relax a bit! Once everyone finished eating, my mum and aunt left to drive back to Kingston and my mother-in-law drove me back home to Ryan and Rocky! 

Now that I've looked at the photos over a hundred times and had the chance to sleep on it, I am much more decided about which dress I want! That being said, I don't have another appointment until mid-December, so we'll see if I'm still in love with my current choice when I try it on again! I never thought I would say this, but patience and time will really be the determining factor here! Of course, there's always that gut instinct, but I honestly think that if it's the right dress, I'll love it and know it's the right one when I try it on again in a few weeks! I am VERY excited to try it on again, that's for sure!

I am so happy that we went to David's Bridal to try on dresses, and I would highly recommend the experience. I'm planning on doing a follow-up post about what to "expect, bring, and avoid" at a bridal consultation, so stay tuned for that! 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sephora Mini Haul

So I stopped by Sephora the other day to finally use a gift card I received for my birthday in June! I had already done my research, so I had a pretty good idea about what I wanted to buy. Even so, I still got to check out all of the pretty holiday value sets, and that's always fun! 
Now that it's really starting to feel like winter here in Ottawa, I know I'm going to need to adjust my skincare and makeup routine. I don't like putting away makeup that's been three quarters used, so I'm planning on finishing up my current tube of Diorskin Nude BB creme before tossing it. I've also got about a week or two left of my CeraVe moisturizer, so I'll be finishing that up before I toss it away too! 

Anyway, without further adieu, here's what I got: 

Estée Lauder Double Wear Light Foundation
Available here at Sephora

I ended up deciding on shade 1.0 instead of 0.5 (which was exactly the same color as my skin) because I liked that it warmed up my complexion a bit. I don't like to wear very heavy makeup, so I'm happy that the foundation is considered "light" coverage. I have yet to give it a full day worth of wear, but I've got pretty high hopes that it will perform well!

Shiseido Ibuki Starter Set
Available here at Sephora

I'll be honest, a big part of the reason why I decided on the Ibuki skincare set is because I had hardly any knowledge of the product. Okay, so I knew it included a cleanser, serum, and moisturizer, but I didn't really know what ibuki meant or what the products were designed to target in terms of skincare issues. I did some research since picking up the set, and according to the Shiseido website, the word ibuki means "inner strength" in Japanese, and the products are designed to help "correct imperfections, dryness and roughness while providing optimal hydration". While I have yet to test them out, I am pretty excited to see what they're like in terms of performance! 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Engagement Photo Session

Oh my goodness I am so excited! Our engagement photo session images are here! Even though Ryan and I have been legally married since this past July, we've still been enjoying all of the more traditional events (like my bridal shower, which you can read about here) in preparation for our wedding blessing next summer. 

When we visited my family in Kingston over Thanksgiving weekend in October, my mum organized for us to have a special engagement photo session, and my gracious, are we ever thankful! 

The pictures turned out so well! We honestly couldn't be happier! There were so many amazing images, it was really hard to pick our top five to be featured in this blog post!

To make the whole experience even better, we had a super fun time having our photos taken! Ted and Danielle have such a great sense of humor and really helped make us feel comfortable. They are both so talented and creative, and we are thrilled to have had the opportunity to do a photo session with them.

We were really lucky the weather over the Thanksgiving weekend was absolutely beautiful and mild. We met up in the late afternoon and spent about two hours taking photos all around the Queen's University campus and down by the water.

Luckily, we were advised prior to the photo session to dress according to the weather, so we were prepared for the slight temperature drop once the sun started to go down.  

It was really fascinating seeing the professionals at work in their element! There are so many things about photography that we hadn't even taken into account, which is why it's such a good investment to go with a professional photographer, and trust their judgment and direction. They really know their stuff when it comes to optimal lighting, texture, shape, exposure, and so on! It really is worth it and the results truly speak for themselves! 

When it comes to photos, I'm not too anxious, although I will admit (as will he) that Ryan was definitely a bit nervous prior to our session. It didn't take long before those nerves dissipated however, as Ted and Danielle displayed their professionalism in such an easy going and relaxed manner. 

We had such a wonderful experience with our engagement photo shoot, and we couldn't be happier with how great our photos turned out! I am so excited to now have a collection of really beautiful images of the two of us to look at and display in our home. Having our photos taken with Goldring Photography was truly wonderful experience and one that we will remember fondly in the years to come!

Check out Goldring Photography here for more information about their fantastic photography services!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Fall Fashion 2015: Office Edition

Let me start off by saying that I do not work in an office. Now, before you write me off completely, I should say that I have worked in an office in the past, so I do have a fair idea of what I'm talking about. In any case, this post is really about fashion, and that just happens to be my field of expertise! 

Here in Ottawa, especially downtown Ottawa, there are LOTS of office and government workers. If you're in the city between 7:00am-7:00pm during the work week, you're bound to see a significant number of people walking around in suits. Personally, I quite like the professional look of suiting and office attire. That being said, I also very much enjoy being able to wear jeans to work too! Yes, office attire can be limiting, but that's also part of what makes fashionable office dressing such an art! 

So, without further adieu, may I present my take on Fall 2015 Fashion: Office Edition! Outfits courtesy of


From left to right: Stadium-cloth cocoon coat in black / Elsie woven metallic pumps in gold silver / Tartan plaid scarf in navy / Crystal cluster earrings in marine salt / Crystal cluster bracelet in marine salt / Collection cashmere turtleneck sweater in heather flannel / Campbell blazer in super 120s wool in black / Campbell trousers in super 120s wool in black.


From left to right: Collarless pocket top in leopard / Martie pant in bi-stretch wool in heather baltic / Cascading glass earrings in crystal / Collection Elsie metallic d'Orsay pumps in gold / Stadium-cloth cocoon coat in black.


From left to right: Double-cloth lady day coat in antique linen / Carrie cami in floral lace in pale rose / Collection Collete calf-hair d'Orsay pumps in sienna black cat / Preston pant in super 120s wool in heather flannel / Crystal burst earrings in crystal / Collection cashmere cardigan sweater in bright ocean.


From left to right: Regent topcoat in black watch flannel / Cambridge cable v-neck sweater in dark poppy / No. 2 pencil skirt in double-serge wool in black / Crystal burst earrings in crystal / Mixed crystal necklace in crystal / Collete suede d'Orsay pumps in black. 

From left to right: Perfect shirt in Stewart plaid in black / Pull-on pant in floral lace in black / Collection Elsie metallic d'Orsay pumps in gold / Stadium-cloth cocoon coat in black / Mixed crystal necklace in crystal. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Finding your Signature Scent(s)

Scent is one of the most intriguing and mystifying of the human senses. The way that certain smells can evoke memories and feelings is incredibly powerful. There is something uniquely captivating about the right scent and it's ability to create lasting impressions. 

For a long time, I thought that it would be so lovely to have one signature scent that would eventually become directly associated with if people would say, "oh, there goes Alexandra, she always smells like fresh cut roses". Well, I've since realized that people (including myself) are really quite complex and dynamic, and associating one scent with a person is far too limiting. For example, one day I could be feeling fun and feminine, and another, I could be feeling more intense and mysterious. Depending on my mood, I've got a selection of go-to scents that satisfy all of my olfactory inclinations. 


Chloe Eau de Parfume, Chloe (available here at Sephora)

Generally speaking, I tend to prefer light floral scents like rose and gardenia on a regular day basis. I don't care for anything that's either too sweet and powdery, or smells too much like nail polish remover (which unfortunately is not all that uncommon)! Aside from Chloe Eau de Parfume, my two other favorite scents are Miss Dior Blooming Bouquet (for when I want a light, feminine, and classic perfume), and Parisienne, by Yves Saint Laurent (for when I want something a bit more bold and romantic). 


CK One Summer, Calvin Klein (available here at Sephora)

Oh CK One Summer...this scent brings back quite a multitude of memories! I wore this a lot in high school and I absolutely loved it! It's very fresh and clean, with a subtle musky scent to it. I remember going into Shoppers Drug Mart with the intention of getting some other perfume (hmm..what was popular 10 years ago?), but was pleasantly surprised with how One Summer sat on my skin. Alternatively, I also remember really wanting Cashmere Mist, by Donna Karan when it hit the shelves, but ended up turning away from it when I tried it on because it just didn't mix well with the chemistry of my skin. 


Miss Dior Eau de Parfume, Dior (available here at Sephora)

Personally, I don't much care for perfumes that have earthy top notes. I absolutely love having a hint of earthy or woodsy tones in floral perfumes (YSL Parisienne is a perfect example), but I find them too strong when they are the leading scent. I haven't had a chance to sample it on my skin yet, but I will admit that I am intrigued by White Woods, by Clean. The notes listed on the Sephora website look like a nice balance of sweet and earthy, and floral and woodsy, so it will be interesting to see how it really smells. 


Hypnotic Poison, Dior (available here at Sephora)

Last but not least, another nostalgic scent for me is Hypnotic Poison by Dior. Unless you happen to be a Bond Girl or some mysterious woman of intrigue, this perfume is definitely not your everyday kind of perfume. It's an incredibly potent blend of feminine notes like jasmine and vanilla, mixed with spicy notes like caraway, bitter almond, and jacaranda wood. If you like this kind of sexy perfume, you will probably also enjoy Black Orchid, by Tom Ford, or Opium, by Yves Saint Laurent.  

Ultimately, the best and most accurate way to determine what perfumes you like, is to test them on your skin. It could come in a beautiful bottle and smell absolutely exquisite when you spray it on a sample card, but then change completely when you apply it to your skin. It's also important to consider how a perfume evolves on your skin as well. I've tried perfumes that I've loved for the first hour, but hated as the day wore on. Since so much of it has to do with chemistry, it's important to really test it out properly yourself. Finding the right perfume is a very personal process and highly rewarding when it pays off in the end! 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Autumn Harvest Muffins

The changing seasons brings many new transitions, not the least of which being my kitchen habits! I notice the change pretty clearly once the weather starts to cool and the leaves begin to fall off the trees. I wake up in the morning craving oatmeal instead of a smoothie, our lunches go from being crab salad sandwiches to soups and stews, and of course, how can I leave out the incorporation of pumpkin into as many baked goods as possible! I love autumn and winter cooking! It's so hearty, rich, and comforting! If I had to pick my top 10 favorite meals, I can assure you, at least 8 of them would be considered autumn/winter fare. 

So for today's post, I'm going to be sharing one of my favorite muffin recipes for the season. I call them Autumn Harvest Muffins. They are incredibly easy to make, and always taste delicious. What I enjoy most about them, is that they are very easy to play around with, so you can add or substitute various ingredients to make them exactly as you want them.


* 1 cup of milk 
* 1 cup of quick cooking oats 
* 1 egg
* 1/4 cup of oil   
* 1 cup of flour
* 1/4 cup brown sugar
* 1 tsp baking soda 
* 1 tbsp cinnamon
* 1 tbsp nutmeg
* 1/2 cup pumpkin (canned) 
* 1/4 cup walnuts (chopped)
* 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips 
* 1/4 cup dried cranberries 


1. Preheat oven to 350°c. Grease muffin tray or line with paper muffin liners. 
2. Mix together milk and oats in a small mixing bowl and set aside.
3. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together all dry ingredients (flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg).
4. Pour milk and oat mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients, along with the egg and oil.
5. Spoon batter into muffin cups, each about 3/4 full. 
6. Bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, and let cool for about 5 minutes before enjoying! 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Everyday Makeup Routine

Makeup-free face! 
So now that the weather is getting cooler here in Ottawa, I've been having to switch things up a bit when it comes to my makeup routine. In the warmer months, when it gets very hot and humid, I tend to go fairly light on my makeup, focusing primarily on skincare and sun protection. Now that the humidity has all but disappeared, I'm finding that I'm having to be a lot more generous with my moisturizers! I've even been going out without any of my face powder lately because I've found it a bit too drying. 

I only have one makeup bag, although sometimes I wish I had two, so that I could do touch-ups throughout the day. Since my job is pretty busy and I'm constantly on my feet, I can't imagine that I would have much time to do that kind of thing though! In any case, the makeup I apply in the morning is all that I rely on to last me through the day, so I certainly demand a lot from it in terms of performance.
Diorskin BB Creme

After I've exfoliated, cleansed, toned, and moisturized, the next thing I put on my face is my Dior Diorskin Nude BB Creme. I like that it gives me a very natural amount of coverage, and it blends really well. I am lucky enough to have decent skin, so I don't need anything too heavy when it comes to foundation. 

Next up, I tackle my brows. I am pretty happy with my eyebrows for the most part, although they are a bit too sparse in my opinion, so I use a pencil most days to fill them in a bit. The one I use is by NYX, in light brown. I don't pluck or wax, so they are just naturally thin unfortunately!
Best overall mascara on the market
in my opinion!

I can get ghostly pale in the winter, so I find blush and bronzer VERY helpful when I'm trying to not look like a corpse! The blush I've been using nearly everyday is by Tarte, in the shade Glisten, which is a warm shimmering peach color. 

I don't like to wear too much eye makeup on a daily basis, so I try and keep it simple with a sweep of nude shadow over my lids, followed by a thin layer of liquid liner before I put on my mascara. The shadows I use are from Coastal Scents. I tend to use Chamois Nude on my lids, followed by Sand Storm on the outer corners. In my opinion, mascara is the most important part. If I had to, I would skip every other step...but not mascara! I have to say, there are a number of fancy mascaras out there that have enticed me before, but I always come back to my L'Oreal Voluminous mascara. It's just such an excellent product...and the price is amazing! 
End result: casual, everyday makeup look!

Finally, I put a bit of Vaseline on my lips, and I'm good to go! I haven't been wearing any lipstick or gloss lately, but I'm thinking that will be changing soon now that I've been needing more color on my face! Lipstick is a tough one if you don't have the opportunity to reapply throughout the day. Instead, I find I tend to use tinted lip balms and stains for a more subtle, low maintenance look!