Season's Greetings

minimalist Christmas grey knit stockings hanging on branch
Image source: The Merry Thought

A huge thanks to all of you, dear readers, for the support and love you've shown this little corner of the blogosphere throughout this year. I'm unplugging for the next week or so to eat, drink, spend time with friends and family, and above all, relax; that being said, you can probably still catch me on Instagram. Wishing you a warm and wonderful holiday season!

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An Aspiring Minimalist's Christmas Wishlist

This might very well be the most boring blogger's wishlist you're going to see this season. The truth is, there isn't much in the way of material things I want for Christmas. The husband and I are most excited about enjoying a well-deserved vacation together, so instead of getting each other gifts this year we're doing a mini getaway to Harrison Hot Springs for New Year's Day. The items on this list are either consumables or things I'd use everyday.

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My Winter Essentials

As I touched on in my last post, even a minimalist with the best intentions can go astray amidst the excesses of the holiday season. The truth is despite the plethora of style guides at this time of year, you really only need a couple of staples to carry you through winter in warmth and style. Here are my essentials at this time of year, as well as a couple of alternatives and "inspired by" picks, if you need help sticking to a "Buy less, choose well" philosophy.

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Things I Bought That I Love: Uniqlo HEATTECH Camisole

Uniqlo HEATTECH nude camisole

Minimalism is a hard edict to follow when you're in a seasonal whirl of stressful deadlines, now-or-never sales, and dismal weather. It's bleak and dark outside. You know what isn't dark or bleak? The inside of a mall, where things are warm and glowy and sparkly and (if you're in an Anthropologie store with a scented candle burning) it smells divine. And you know what's a welcome distraction from work? Online shopping. That's probably how I found myself buying a cashmere sweater with bows down the back for Black Friday, which I'm now returning because: 1) the bows are so big and stick out so far in the back, when I tried it on I felt like a girly stegosaurus who wouldn't ever be able to lean back in a chair comfortably; and 2) when I thought long and hard about the contents of my closet, I decided my purchase was probably driven by emotion more than need. Instead, I could rely on the Uniqlo HEATTECH Camisole to get more mileage and warmth out of what I have already.

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3 Hydrating Skincare Finds Perfect For Winter

Hydrating skincare finds perfect for winter featuring: Estee Lauder Estee Lauder Vitality8 Night Radiant Overnight Creme/Mask, The Face Shop Mango Seed Cleansing Butter, Fresh Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask

This is going to sound awful coming from a beauty blogger, but I've pretty much given up on wearing makeup recently. It doesn't make any sense to do so between crazy work deadlines that have me chained to a computer Monday to Friday; an on-and-off cold that has me swiping Saje Immune across my forehead, sinuses, throat, and chest and blowing my nose; and barre classes after the office most weekdays, where I'd have to remove my makeup pre-workout or sweat it off. Instead I've just been relying on good skin and skincare habits to carry the day. The last time I did one of these skincare round-ups sharing tweaks to my regimen, it was all about my pre-wedding radiance-boosting game plan. This winter the products I'm adding to the mix are all about one thing: hydration, hydration, hydration. Oh, and did I mention hydration?

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Skincare Gift Sets To Get & Give

Holiday 2016 skincare gift sets from Philosophy and Fresh Beauty

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, if only because so many beauty companies put out dazzling holiday gift sets that combine their best products and excellent value in an oh so pretty box. At the same time, navigating your local Sephora or department store can become overwhelming for the same reason: Does a person really need a kit with 24 lipstick colours when she probably already has close to that at home, or an eyeshadow palette with 84 shades? Some makeup mavens will argue yes, but this aspiring minimalist says no. Instead, skincare gift sets like the ones I'm showing you today are where it's at. These lovelies arrived on my beauty desk from the PRs, just in time for the holidays.

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The Ultimate $20 Gift Guide

21 gift ideas that are $20 and under

Every year my budget gift guide is far and away the most popular of them all, which just goes to show a thoughtful, stylish gift doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. This year's cutoff is a bit higher to allow for some lovely finds with a slightly higher price tag. Read on for more details on the picks above and loads of other under $20 gift ideas!

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My Favourite Black Friday And Cyber Monday Sales

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers! For the rest of us, this weekend is marked by two major events: Black Friday/Cyber Monday (and with that, the start of the holiday shopping season), and Gilmore Girls. There's a good chance I might be working overtime this weekend as it seems that every year, a major work deadline lands somewhere near the holidays, but during my downtime, I'm going to check out a sale or two on my iPad while catching up on all the new episodes and sipping herbal tea. As an aspiring minimalist, here's hoping I won't go too crazy; that being said, this year it seems like half my sweaters and jackets have mysteriously stopped fitting across the shoulders so I'm searching for replacements. What are you shopping for?

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What's New At BeautyMark For Holiday 2016

BeautyMark will always hold a special place in my heart. My relationship with the Vancouver-based beauty boutique first began in 2010, when their PR emailed me about trying a vegan nail polish line they carried at the time. (Remember, this was before beauty blogging became huge and brands working with bloggers was still relatively novel.) Over the years they've introduced me to labels like Tata Harper and Consonant, as well as best-in-the-biz pros like Chris Funk (with whom I collaborated on a blowout tutorial here) and Kathryn Sawers of Collective Skincare (my facialist extraordinaire and a wealth of information when it comes to pre-wedding skincare strategy).

Given such a long working relationship, I go to BeautyMark's annual holiday media preview expecting to re-acquaint myself with the aspects of the store I already adore, but this year's event blew me away with the unprecedented level of new stuff to see, learn about, and experience. Longtime fans of BeautyMark and those new to the store are in for a treat. All the details after the jump!

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A Cozy Night In

All the essentials you need for a cozy, cabin-chic night in featuring picks from Chapters Indigo, including pillows and throws, scented candles, and other home decor goodies.

Longtime readers of this blog know that I'm a homebody at heart, and now that I'm in my thirties those tendencies are even more pronounced. (My husband jokes I grow roots on the couch.) A choice Netflix binge (Gilmore Girls on Friday!) and a few creature comforts are all I need to settle in for a perfect evening at home, and when it comes to shopping for said creature comforts, Indigo is where it's at. Indigo holiday previews are one of my most anticipated press events of the year, and not just because they're always beautifully done and full of gift-giving inspiration—they're also full of ideas for making your home the coziest and most welcoming version of itself, just in time for the holidays. This year I spotted plenty of Canadiana-inspired, cabin-chic finds that would fit right in with our living room.

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New & Noteworthy: Paul & Joe Cheek Color CS

Paul & Joe Cheek Colour CS features cat-shaped blush beads.

Meow-velous, purrfect...really, I don't there are enough cat puns in the world to capture the irresistible charm of Paul & Joe Cheek Color ($48 at Shoppers Drug Mart). Paul & Joe beauty products don't necessarily perform better than their drugstore, department store, and luxury counterparts, but they really stand out when it comes to packaging and presentation. And in the case of this adorable blush, they've definitely outdone themselves.

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Product Review: BVspa by Bon Vital Salt Scrub

BVspa by Bon Vital Salt Scrub in pink grapefruit and lavender & rosemary

Like regular pedis, body exfoliation tends to fall by the wayside when temperatures drop and we hide ourselves in multiple layers of wool and denim. However, I'd argue it's more important than ever in the colder months. A good buffing clears away dead, flaky skin and allows your moisturizer/body butter/oil of choice to better penetrate the skin, plus it can invigorate the senses and provide a much-needed moment of self-care in the midst of holiday season stress. That's why I was so psyched to see the BVspa by Bon Vital Salt Scrubs ($11.99 each at Shoppers Drug Mart) land on my beauty desk. From their scents to their naturals-heavy formulas, these body scrubs feel a lot more luxe than their humble price tag.

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Things I Bought That I Love: J. Crew Tippi Star Sweater

Things I Bought That I Love highlights the (hopefully) rare, carefully considered new purchases that spark joy in this aspiring minimalist.

Oh J. Crew, Tippi star sweater ($118.50 25% off with code WARMSTYLE today), how do I love thee? Let me count the ways as I welcome you into my closet.

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Drugstore Delight: Cover Girl Oh Sugar Lip Balm

Cover Girl Oh Sugar Lip Balm in Soda, Cupcake, Punch, Gumdrop, Jelly

Is there such a thing as having too many tinted lip balms? I think not! This essential—which bridges the gap between cosmetic and skincare—hydrates, brightens a winter-pale complexion effortlessly, and is easier to wear on winter-chapped lips than a full-coverage lipstick. The latest one to cross my beauty desk is CoverGirl Oh Sugar Lip Balm ($7.99 at London Drugs).

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Things I Bought That I Love: Kowtow Building Block Scoop Tee

Things I Bought That I Love highlights the (hopefully) rare, carefully considered new purchases that spark joy in this aspiring minimalist.

Kowtow building block scoop tee in navy and white stripe made from organic cotton, folded and displayed alongside succulent, Vancouver Candle Co. Mt. Pleasant travel tin candle, Madewell gold hexagon earrings, Asscher cut diamond engagement ring, De Beers half pave yellow gold infinity band, Danica Studio angle dipped coasters

When I first KonMari'd my life, I thought it'd be a one-and-done deal. The marathon tidying session would signal the start of a blissful stasis where I'd be perfectly content with my possessions, never feeling tempted to buy anything new again; however, reality is more nuanced than that. I've still been shopping here and there for new clothes, albeit much less than I used to and mostly replacing pieces that have worn out or don't fit anymore. However, my Kowtow Building Block Scoop Tee ($79) is not one of these conscientious replacement purchases. I have plenty of striped tees already, but I knew I had to have this one when I saw it on the sale rack at Still Life and I wouldn't regret it either.

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Dior Holiday 2016 Splendor Collection

Dior Holiday 2016 Splendor Collection

It's that time of year again! Every year Christmas seems to start earlier and earlier (my first holiday party this year is on November 19). But it's not so bad when you can admire decorations in stores, enjoy an eggnog latte or two, and there's an all-gold-everything Dior winter collection to thrill beauty lovers everywhere. I've been blogging about these collections since 2013 but their luxe glamour still delights me every time. This season, the Dior Holiday 2016 Splendor Collection was inspired by "the artistry of Dior ateliers with sparkling sequins." I've got a little sneak peek at what's available at Dior counters nationwide right now. Ready for a closer look?

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12 Etsy Finds For Gilmore Girls Fans

12 Etsy gift ideas for Gilmore Girls fans

Other than our wedding and mini-moon, the Gilmore Girls revival hitting Netflix on November 25th has been the fall event I'm anticipating most. I've already taken the day off to binge-watch them all (with copious cups of coffee in tow, naturally), and every new trailer or tidbit released online leading up to the main event has me giddy with joy over the prospect of re-visiting a show I've loved since I was 16. Are you a Gilmore Girls superfan like I am or do you know someone who is? Here are 12 Etsy finds that'll make the return to Stars Hollow all the sweeter (and—hint hint—they make excellent stocking stuffers and gifts).

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Lazy Girl Approved: Kiss Nail Art Stickers Halloween Edition

Lazy Girl Approved highlights long-lasting, goof-proof, fuss-free products that can fit into the most minimalist of regimens. If you consider yourself a low-maintenance beauty lover, these product reviews are for you!

Kiss Nail Art Stickers Halloween Edition

Like many Lazy Girls out there, I lack patience and skill when it comes to nail art. I'm often too clumsy or busy to try intricate nail looks on myself, which is why nail-art-made-easy products like Kiss Nail Art Stickers are such a godsend when I want to up my #manimonday game for a special occasion like Halloween.

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Drugstore Delight: EOS Berry Blossom Body Lotion

EOS Berry Blossom Body Lotion

I don't usually post pink-ified products in October for Breast Cancer Awareness month, but I couldn't resist in the case of EOS Berry Blossom Body Lotion ($9.99 on sale for $7.99 at London Drugs). Great formula? Check. Beautiful packaging? Check. Throw in a price tag under $10 and the convenience of being able to buy it almost anywhere, and you've got a true Drugstore Delight on your hands.

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Product Review: Morihata Binchotan Eye Mask

Korean beauty charcoal-infused eye mask Morihata Binchotan Eye Mask, available from Peach and Lily

Charcoal is one of the biggest trends in the beauty and wellness world right now, touted as much for its skincare as its detoxifying benefits. In Asia, however, charcoal isn't just a featured ingredient in face masks and juice cleanses—it's incorporated right into textiles. (Case in point: As part of my wedding gift, my parents bought Hubs and me a new set of bamboo charcoal bedding from Asia.) So when Korean beauty purveyor Peach and Lily reached out to me and asked if I'd like to review something from their site, naturally my interest was piqued by the Morihata Binchotan Charcoal Eye Mask ($23). Would an eye mask featuring charcoal-infused fabric be superior to a regular eye mask?

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Things I Bought That I Love: Gap Sherpa-Lined Utility Jacket

Things I Bought That I Love highlights the (hopefully) rare, carefully considered new purchases that spark joy in this aspiring minimalist.

Vancouver beauty, life, and style blogger Solo Lisa wears a blue sherpa-lined utility jacket with a fuzzy shearling collar, navy and white striped tee, blue skinny jeans, a gold and howlite marble necklace, red lipstick, and a vintage bag.

A casual jacket with a fuzzy sherpa or shearling collar has been on my fall shopping wishlist since August. My style has evolved in the last two years and become more informal, and during spring cleaning I got rid of a bunch of structured blazers and jackets that were suddenly feeling too tight across the shoulders—both good reasons for a new transitional topper. The other reason I've been wanting a shearling-collar jacket? Gilmore Girls.

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Product Review: Saje Pocket Farmacy

Saje Pocket Pharmacy

Ever the skeptic, I was doubtful I'd be using Saje Pocket Farmacy ($59.95) that much when I received it in my Pure Barre goodie bag months ago. How could a little case of 5 roll-on aromatherapy vials treat all sorts of ailments ranging from headaches and indigestion to stress, muscle pain, and cold and flu symptoms? But fast forward 6 months and Saje Pocket Farmacy has become an indispensable part of my everyday routine. I've since had many opportunities to test each and every remedy in the zip case multiple times and I can attest they really do work.

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Escape To Naramata

Naramata Bench in Okanagan wine country, British Columbia

Looking at these summery and sun-soaked photos, it's hard to believe that it's only been a few short weeks since we got married and went on our mini-moon in Naramata. The 3-night getaway proved to be the perfect transition between the excitement of our nuptials and the humdrum reality of everyday, and it was made even sweeter thanks to Ford Canada, who generously loaned us a brand new Ford Escape for the duration of the trip. All the details on our trip and our impressions of the Escape after the jump!

Driving through the Similkameen Valley, BC, in a cherry red Ford Escape
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Drugstore Delight: Cover Girl Katy Kat Matte Lipstick

Cover Girl x Katy Kat Matte lipstick Katy Perry collaboration

So far during Lipstick Week on Solo Lisa, we've covered luxury lippies and chic natural ones. But sometimes what a beauty lover really craves is a good Drugstore Delight, and if that's the case with you, Cover Girl Katy Kat Matte Lipstick ($9.99 at London Drugs) may be just the ticket. The PR samples landed on my beauty desk during the summer, but with the craziness of the wedding I haven't been able to appreciate the formula and packaging fully until now. All the details after the jump!

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ILIA Fall 2016 New Launches

Organic, green, natural beauty brand ILIA launches 3 new lipstick shades (Lucy's Party, The Brides, Madam Mina), a loose translucent powder, and makeup brushes for fall 2016.

Kermit once sang, "It's not easy being green." That's true if you're an amphibious Muppet, but with brands like ILIA, it's certainly not the case if you're a modern-day beauty junkie who craves the best in natural and organic cosmetics. ILIA first came on my radar in 2011 when I bought the Tinted Lip Conditioner in 'Shell Shock', and since then it's been my standard bearer for natural beauty that's chic, effective, and just an all-around pleasure to use. If you're as big a fan as I am, you're going to love what's new this season.

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Re-introducing Rouge Dior Lipstick

Newly relaunched Rouge Dior lipstick comes in an assortment of reds, corals, pinks, nudes, extreme shades, and mattte shades.

Autumn is as good a time as any to rock a new signature lip colour, whether it's a vampy hue or an everyday neutral, so consider this Lipstick Week at Solo Lisa as I showcase some of the best lippies to have crossed my beauty desk this season, from luxe to green and drugstore options. First up? The newly relaunched Rouge Dior Lipstick ($43). I have the scoop on what's changed after the jump!

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Bridal Style: Seriously West Coast Stagette

Vancouver beauty, life and style blogger Solo Lisa stands inside the yoga dome after a class at Nectar Yoga Bed and Breakfast located on Bowen Island in Horseshoe Bay.

There comes a time in every young woman's life when her idea of a good time shifts from stumbling around downtown hotspots to a quiet evening at home, from free shots lined up at a bar to a glass of wine in an upscale lounge. That shift happened for me right around my 25th birthday, so I knew for my stagette I didn't want to do anything too crazy, just enjoy laid-back and fun quality time with my favourite girls. My maid of honour more than came through by planning a weekend getaway to Bowen Island. Just a 20-odd minute ferry ride from Vancouver's Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal, Bowen Island feels a world away from the city. Here's a little look at what we did, in case you also want a decidedly more chill bachelorette party.

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Lazy Girl Approved: NeoStrata Detoxifying Micellar Gel

Lazy Girl Approved highlights long-lasting, goof-proof, fuss-free products that can fit into the most minimalist of regimens. If you consider yourself a low-maintenance beauty lover, these product reviews are for you!

When micellar water first came out, Lazy Girls everywhere were probably going "WHAT?? A way to wash my face without actually washing my face?!? What is this molecular marvel!?" Fast forward several seasons and micellar water has proven it's more than capable of cleansing and removing makeup, sans water, in a single step. The latest spin on the trend? NeoStrata Detoxifying Micellar Gel ($22 at London Drugs).

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Product Review: The Estée Edit Late Night Eraser

The Estee Edit by Estee Lauder Late Night Eraser Brightening Eye Balm with Pink Peony

Partying, deadlines, Netflix binges: We've all stayed up past our bedtimes at one time or another and had panda eyes to show for it the next day. Whether you're a university student heading back to class this fall or you're burning the midnight oil as you work towards that next promotion, The Estée Edit Late Night Eraser Brightening Eye Balm with Pink Peony ($48) deserves a place in your makeup bag.

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Dior Fall 2016 New Launches

Dior Fall 2016 new beauty launches

Gotta admit, I have a mild case of the back-to-reality blues after all the excitement of the wedding and mini-moon, but what better way to cushion the transition than by diving headfirst into Dior fall 2016 beauty? I've been itching to play with the new collection as soon as the nuptials were over, and for good reason. First, there's the limited edition Skyline collection for fall 2016, which is inspired by architecture and the interplay of shadow and light across the Parisian skyline. Then there are the new permanent additions: think user-friendly, no-brush-required textures, products that combine multiple steps in one, and novel shades of old favourites.

I know I say this of every Dior post, but I think this might be my most epic yet. Grabbing a snack and/or a coffee before you start reading is definitely advised!

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A Fresh Start In September

Ban.do 17-month agenda, Kate Spade polka dot notepad, poppin white pen, Fresh Sugar Advanced Lip Therapy

In the last two months of wedding overdrive I've been neglecting this little online space of mine. But you know what? September heralds a fresh new beginning for the blog and I'm feeling inspired after two weeks off from the daily grind.

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Just Married

Vancouver beauty and lifestyle blogger Solo Lisa tied the knot with her longtime beau with an intimate ceremony in the Stanley Park rose garden, followed by a dinner reception at Chambar.

7 years together, 4 of them living together, 2 of them engaged: In many ways, tying the knot doesn't feel like a change at all, but nothing could have prepared us for what the big day felt like.

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Beauty Q&A: Corina Crysler of GliSODin Skin Nutrients

As I mentioned in my post about my pre-wedding skincare routine, I started trying GliSODin Skin Nutrients for 3 months to give my complexion a little more oomph before the big day. Fast forward to two months of taking the Advanced Skin Brightening Formula and my skin is more radiant ever: I'm free of hormonal- and stress-induced breakouts and I'm skipping foundation and concealer almost daily.

GliSODin has also reduced the severity and duration of inflammatory reactions, stopping burgeoning blemishes in their tracks, preventing insect bites (something I'm very allergic to) from becoming too big, red, and itchy, and helping lingering inflammation and dark spots from past breakouts fade away. Plus (bonus!) the formula minimizes the damaging effects of sun exposure, which is perfect for summer. So how does GliSODin deliver the goods? I went straight to co-founder Corina Crysler for more info.

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