The Secret Charm Of Shoe Clips

Call me old-fashioned, but the nostalgic charm of shoe clips really appeals to me. In this world of fast fashion and mass-produced masses of everything, there's something deeply romantic about the notion of investing in one pair of basic leather shoes and buying inexpensive shoe clips to add glamour and achieve different looks. If I were to do the same thing today, I'd splurge on these Chie Mihara 'Delicia' open-toed pumps ($360)--classic yet funky with that thick platform sole, feminine, and well-made. Then I'd buy the jeweled mesh shoe clips ($6.80) and zipper swirl shoe clips ($6.80) from Forever 21 for those times when I want fancier feet.

Would you ever wear shoe clips?

Product Review: Skin MD Natural Shielding Lotion

I confess I've always been a bit cheap when it comes to body lotion. As long as the product keeps my skin soft, doesn't smell too strong, and costs under $10, I'll use it. When the folks at Skin MD Natural emailed me about their innovative Skin MD Nautral Shielding Lotion, I became intrigued. Formulated with botanicals and natural ingredients, this lotion claims to work differently from conventional lotions by locking moisture in while keeping irritants out. Its proprietary formula is 6 times as moisturizing as glycerin to relieve even the driest skin. This non-greasy lotion promises to absorb quickly without clogging pores, which means it's safe to use on the face. Lofty claims indeed, but did this lotion live up to them all?

I requested a free bottle of Skin MD to review and used it for several weeks after receiving it. I'm split down the middle as to whether I like this product, to be honest. The lotion wasn't obnoxiously scented but didn't smell medicinal like some unscented moisturizers, which was good. It also had a silky texture and absorbed quite quickly. Because it was so light and non-oily, I didn't hesitate to test it on my face, and I'm pleased to report that it lives up to its claims of being non-comodegenic on the face. This product would make an excellent all-purpose moisturizer for those times when you're travelling and don't want to tote around a huge bottle of body lotion and a separate face moisturizer.

So, why can't I give Skin MD a wholeheartedly positive endorsement? While it was a perfectly adequate and effective moisturizer, I didn't find that it was more effective than the less expensive body lotions I'm used to buying from the drugstore. The bottle is also quite small given the price tag: $18 for 120 ml, plus another $9.95 for shipping and handling. The product description online claims that one bottle is a 1-2 month supply, but I imagine that it would only last 3-4 weeks max. If you have extremely sensitive or dry skin and haven't been able to find the right product, Skin MD might be a godsend for you. For me, it was a good product but not one that would be worth purchasing.

Today's Outfit: Combat Baby

Maybe it's the military vibe of my khaki green belted trench, the brass buttons on the backs of my black leather boots, or my new Wendy Brandes swear rings, but I felt a LOT tougher than your run-of-the-mill petite Asian girl in this outfit! Can I just say how much I love these rings? I've been wearing them constantly since they arrived in the mail about a month ago. The comments and compliments I receive range from "Ohmigod I love your rings! Where'd you get them?" to "I thought you were wearing brass knuckles! You look like you're looking to get into a fight."

WendyB featured this photo in her post yesterday. Click the link to go over to her blog and see a photo of me punching the boy in the face.

  • Trench (H&M)
  • Jeans (Mavi)
  • Boots (Miz Mooz via LF Boutique, NYC)
  • Chain clutch (Chanel)
  • Rings (Wendy Brandes)
By the way, the title of this post comes from one of my favourite Metric songs of all time. Enjoy!

A big thank-you to my friend Felix for taking these pics!

Brunch At Birks With Jennifer Heil

I haven't been able to indulge in as many Olympics festivities as I want to because of work, but when I received an invitation to brunch at the beautiful Birks flagship store in downtown Vancouver, along with a chance to meet two-time Olympic medallist in mogul skiing Jennifer Heil--well, how could I say no? This is how I found myself trekking downtown last Thursday morning and braving the crowds on the streets.

Part of Birks's commemorative Vancouver 2010 collection, this heart pendant ($150) is a luxe keepsake of the Games.

Birks is arguably one of the most prominent jewellers in Canada and was founded by Henry Birks in Montreal in 1879. (Personally, I like to think of Birks as Canada's answer to Tiffany's.) Given the company's impressive history and Canadian heritage, it seemed natural for them to partner with the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games as the official luxury jeweller of the Games--the first time a partnership of this nature has existed in the history of the Olympics.

Additionally, Birks hired Canadian mogul skier Jennifer Heil (2006 Winter Olympics gold medallist; 2010 Winter Olympics silver medallist) to be their official brand ambassador for the Vancouver Games. Heil, as it turns out, had a hidden interest in designing jewelry, and collaborated with the jeweller to create a special sterling silver collection for the Games.

Jenn Heil's special collection for Birks

The collection's pieces feature chains of varying lengths and thicknesses interspersed with five silver circles of varying size and texture. One circle, symbolizing Heil's dream, is linked to four circles embodying each of the values necessary to achieve that dream: courage, team, joy, and focus. Symbolism aside, I found that, in person, her collection struck the right balance between chunky statement piece and delicate femininity. The silver tone and relatively simple design motif make them highly wearable and versatile--no wonder the collection keeps selling out!

The beautiful bracelet!

While a cheerful sort of pandemonium ruled the streets, inside the gilded glass doors of Birks, the atmosphere was hushed, luxurious, and elegant. Jewels winked and sparkled from their lit cases as guests made their way up the spiral staircase to the waiting area. The crowd was a mix of fashionistas, media, fashion editors, and PR folks. Everyone mingled and admired the special-edition sterling silver Olympics pieces as they sipped on pomegranate mimosas and coffee and enjoyed hors d'oeuvres.

It was a pleasant surprise to see Flare magazine's editor-in-chief Lisa Tant again after meeting her at the Wear Else event! As you can see, she was dressed to cheer on Team Canada.

Although the mingling was fun, the biggest highlight of the brunch was when Heil took the podium and spoke about her partnership with Birks and her experience of the 2010 Games so far. Grinning, Heil recounted how the ski hill reverberated with the sounds of cheering Canadians on the day of her silver medal win. Two surprises then ensued. First, the CEO of Birks presented Heil with a beautiful ring as a congratulatory gift. Next, both of them unveiled two new additions to the collection: a set of stacking bangles and a set of stacking rings!

I finally worked up the nerve to ask Jenn Heil if I could have a picture with her and she said yes!

A big thank you to the wonderful folks at Birks for hosting this event and inviting me!

Product Review: Korres Abyssinia Oil Volumizing Mascara

I almost contemplated not writing a review for Korres Abyssinia Oil Volumizing Mascara ($20 for full size; mine was the sample tube included in the Sephora mascara sampler). A mascara that does so little is really a non-mascara, and as such deserves a non-review. The formula contains Abyssinia oil, a substance that promises to condition and, along with the "revolutionary microbristle brush," give you voluminous lashes. Imagine my disappointment when after applying multiple coats my lashes looked like there was nothing on them. Sure, the brush makes application virtually clump-free, but it really doesn't do much of anything. No length, no volume, no "wow" effect. It looked as if I had nothing on my lashes. I'm glad I got to try this mascara out without paying the price for the full-size product--imagine how choked I'd be to try something only to discover that for all the good it did I might as well not have bought it at all!

That being said, I really don't understand the rave reviews for this mascara on the Sephora website. Have you tried it? Does it work for you?

Two Of Hearts One Year Anniversary Party

Left to right: Tabitha Savoie, Tanya King, Jenny Yen

Despite the Olympics frenzy gripping Vancouver, a small crowd of well-wishers and shoppers turned up for Two of Hearts Boutique's one year anniversary party on Saturday night, myself included! It's hard to believe that it's been almost a year and a half since I spoke to Jenny Yen and Tabitha Savoie about the launch of their new Two of Hearts line. And now I'm celebrating the success of their three clothing lines--CiCi, Togs, and Two of Hearts--as well as their store's first birthday with them. Congratulations ladies!

Guests browsed the locally designed clothing and accessories as they waited for the 7pm fashion show to begin. Unlike past shows, this one had a twist: Jenny and Tabitha had put out an open model call to fans of their designs in their last two monthly newsletters. Real girls who were fans of their clothes sashayed the catwalk for a chance to win some great prizes and the audience voted for their favourite. It was great to see how much fun the contestants had as they modelled the new spring/summer collections with huge grins, silly dance moves, and even a bit of patriotic flag-waving. The contest proved so popular that there's talk of launching a Two of Hearts Top Model contest for future parties and fashion shows.

For spring/summer 2010, Two of Hearts fans can expect Jenny and Tabitha to keep delivering on their promise of comfortable, stylish, wearable pieces which combine a sporty aesthetic with a dash of playfulness and vintage-inspired tailoring. CiCi's spring collection takes its inspiration from vintage looks; its immaculately tailored 'Carmen' skinny trouser and playful 'Lolita' short (denim! cuffs! white button detailing!) were popular standouts in the show. Togs's collection will feature sporty tops and dresses with playful screen printing inspired by athletics and human anatomy. Meanwhile, Two of Hearts turns to the beauty of the sea for inspiration and features lots of blues and teals this season, along with fun ocean motifs like starfish and seahorses.

Don't live in Vancouver? That's okay--Two of Hearts has an online shop and ships all over North America. Happy shopping!

Olympic Fever

The 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver have officially begun! After watching the opening ceremonies on TV last Friday, the boy and I--along with his brothers and best friend--ventured downtown for all the excitement; we just wanted to walk around and soak up the atmosphere. Revelers wearing red and white were out in full force to celebrate in spite of the rain. My camera died shortly before we arrived at the Olympic flame near the Vancouver Convention Centre (lit by Wayne Gretzky!), but here's a glimpse of what we saw that night.

Walking past the Vancouver Art Gallery in the rain.

Since December, Robson Square has been transformed into a free skating rink open to the public. On opening ceremonies night, a live band was playing.

The light show at Robson Square

This grove of "lantern trees" on Granville is just one of the many sculptures and pieces of public art on display.

A crowd gathered at Granville and Robson around midnight. I took this photo from the window of the Winners upstairs, and even though I was inside and two storeys up, I could still hear all the chants and cheers. The excitement was palpable. The Olympics are in town!!

From Solo Lisa's Kitchen: Brownies (And My Favourite Way To Eat Tomatoes!)

The boy and I don't have anything special planned for Valentine's Day--no presents, no fancy dinner. Nonetheless, I was resolute about baking him a treat as a small gesture. This was my first time making brownies and they turned out pretty well!

This week's recipe comes from Donna Hay's New Food Fast; parenthetical comments are mine.

  • 150g butter, softened
  • 1 cup caster sugar (I substituted regular sugar)
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
Preheat the oven to 180 Celsius (350 Fahrenheit). Place the butter and sugar in a bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Add the cocoa, eggs, flour and baking powder and mix until combined. Spoon the mixture into nine 1/2 cup capacity non-stick muffin tins. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the cakes are cooked but still soft in the centre. (It took me a lot longer than the specified time--more like 20-22 minutes.) To serve, invert the cakes onto plates. Serve warm with thick cream or ice cream and espresso coffee. Makes 9 cakes.

Although I enjoy baking, I don't enjoy eating what I make because--surprise!--I'm not a sweets person. I picked at one brownie just to try it and confirm it was edible, then proceeded to make my favourite snack: a tomato on the vine sliced into thin wedges, then topped with crumbled feta, black pepper, and a splash of olive oil.

I suppose it's a good thing I crave veggies instead of baked goods.

Happy Valentine's Day/Chinese New Year/Start of the 2010 Winter Olympics! I'll be watching the opening ceremonies with the boy and his brothers tonight. It's shaping up to be a jam-packed weekend.

What are your plans this weekend?

Lucca Couture Open-Back Dress

Despite the hoopla surrounding the Winter Olympics, I'd like to think that there are signs spring is on its way. During last week's streak of mild weather, I wore my new trench to work. These days it doesn't get dark until well after 5:30 pm, and sunny skies have me yearning to window shop. If you're also dreaming of blossoms, balmy breezes, and stocking up on cute dresses, look no further than the Lucca Couture open-back dress ($58) from Urban Outfitters. The blue-and-white stripes are perfectly on-trend with the nautical vibe this spring, but it's the open back detail that I find absolutely exquisite. I love the way they've styled the model in this photo too: With the classic stripes and straw boater, she looks equally at home on the boardwalk or as a member of Renoir's boating party.

My Spring H&M Finds

Ironically, blogging about fashion (on top of work and everything else) leaves me little time to actually shop for it. I find myself browsing stores here and there to kill a spare half hour; however, gone are the leisurely days where I can set out and spend the entire day shopping. I hadn't set foot in H&M for ages, but when I got around to it (I needed more socks), I found a couple of key pieces to round out my spring wardrobe and scratched a few items off my mental shopping list. Mission accomplished.

My black Banana Republic wool cardigan gets worn more often than any other sweater in my wardrobe because it's so versatile. This draped open-front black cardi with wide sleeves will provide a fun alternative to one of my main closet staples. It looks great with a simple tank top and skinny jeans.

My casual shorts became casualties of my most recent closet purge as I decided to replace them with better-fitting, dressier options. These versatile tailored shorts are slick enough to pair with heels and a fancy blouse, but can also be dressed down with flats and a cute tee.

This trench caught my eye immediately. It's the perfect combination of a classic trench's polish with the casual vibe of this spring's military trend.

Have you started shopping for spring yet?

Canadian Olympic Team Unisex Dual-Sided Scarf

The February and March issues of my gift subscription to Elle Canada (thanks cwangdom!) arrived in my mail last week with a very timely full-page spread about the Canadian Olympic Team apparel designed by HBC. Now, the red torch-bearer mittens have been getting a lot of press for being best-sellers and I've always admired the Cowichan-inspired Canada sweater, but while reading the Elle Canada feature, the item that captured my complete attention was this unisex dual-sided scarf ($20). Handpicked by one of the design team members as a favourite item, one side features a red plaid pattern while the other side has "CANADA" on it in bold red letters. The rationale behind this design: It'll keep you warm and also serve as a makeshift cheering banner for spectators when you flip it to the other side. Clever eh? It'll have you showing your patriotism faster than you can say "O Canada."

From Solo Lisa's Kitchen

My culinary experiments from the last two weeks photographed and captured here for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

After taking the photo, I realized that eggplant curry is not exactly the most photogenic food in the world. Cupcakes and muffins look darling and chicken appropriately browned can appear pretty appetizing, but curry on its own isn't exactly the prettiest sight to behold. Luckily, my attempt at Indian cuisine wasn't too bad. I got the recipe off of and substituted fresh ginger and garlic in place of ginger garlic paste. Next time, though, I think I'd be better off using the paste so that the flavours meld better with the rest of the curry.

This is my modified take on a recipe from Donna Hay's New Food Fast: pasta with shredded chicken and fried basil. The recipe called for pasta tossed with shredded chicken breast and fried basil leaves, then topped with pepper, feta cheese, and lemon juice--simple and fresh, but without the latter three ingredients, definitely bland. I added thyme for extra aromatic flavour and it made such a difference.

Do you cook? Have you made a yummy dish recently that deserves to be boasted about and shared? Please tell me in the comments!

February issue of Vancouver Fashion eZine is out!

This month I had the privilege of interviewing established luxury lingerie designer Christine Morton of Christine Vancouver. Having been in fashion for three decades, Morton has seen the Vancouver fashion industry expand and grow. Her pieces are sold in high-end boutiques and department stores like Neiman Marcus; Oprah and Salma Hayek are major fans.

Have I piqued your interest yet? If so, you can read the article here.

Lisa's Most Coveted List

Looking back at my archives, I realized that it's been over 4 months since I last posted a Most Coveted list. Time to rectify that situation! Here are 5 things I'm loving or lusting after right now.

1. T3 mini flat iron ($119). A fear of burning myself and damaging my hair conspired to keep me straightening iron-free--until now, that is. I received a Sephora gift card from my brother for Christmas and decided to put that towards the T3 mini flat iron, and since then I haven't looked back. The ceramic plates and multiple heat settings allow me to straighten my shoulder-length hair with ease. I also love the small size of this iron and how it gives me perfect control when straightening my bangs and the layers around my face. Another plus: it'll travel well the next time I go on a trip!

2. NARS concealer in 'Custard' ($22). Forget the fancy brush-tipped concealer pens or palettes with multiple hues of concealer to mix and match--I like my concealer in stick form for easy touch-ups and hurried morning applications. The NARS concealer is like a more luxe, blendable, and lightweight version of the Physicians Formula Gentle Cover Concealer Stick I've been using. Despite its light texture, its coverage and long-lasting wear are tops, and a little goes a long way toward disguising my undereye circles.

3. Re-soled shoes. I'm a firm believer in taking care of investment items and boots definitely qualify as such. Recently I brought two pairs of boots to the cobbler for re-soling. $30 and a couple days later, I had the giddy thrill of picking up my boots and once again wearing them with everything I own. Because I'd put off re-soling them for so long, I felt like I had two pairs of new shoes. If you have beloved shoes that need a little TLC, I highly recommend a trip to the cobbler!

4. Tomatoes. Two winters ago I went through a phase where I became obsessed with tomatoes. Hothouse tomatoes sliced into wedges and topped with crumbled feta were all I wanted to eat as a snack. Well, my old obsession has returned. This time around I've been adding a splash of olive oil and lots of coarse black pepper as well. There's something so fresh and summery about this snack that whenever I eat it I feel as though I'm combatting my winter blues with tomato-y goodness.

5. CiCi 'Alyssia' sweater dress ($69). I've been coveting this dress from designer Jenny Yen's CiCi line since the fall/winter 2009 collection hit the Two of Hearts Boutique. This sleeveless sweater dress with an argyle cowl neck and slight bubble hem defies the age-old fashion rule that brown and black don't mix. Just look at how well they co-mingle in one piece! It's the perfect throw-on-and-go cold weather sweater dress, particularly when paired with leggings or tights and cozy leather boots.


Banana Republic Classic Trench

Record-breaking mild temperatures in January mean that these days Vancouverites can expect rain rather than snow, a damp chill rather than a deep freeze. No wonder my fancy has turned from wool coats to lightweight trenchcoats. While Burberry remains the sterling epitome of the classic trench, I think Banana Republic's version ($198) comes pretty darn close to channelling the appeal of its more expensive British counterpart. The belted waist, double-breasted styling, and 3/4 length make this coat a polished topper for skirts, dresses, or jeans and guarantee that this trench will be a perennial favourite for many years to come. Pair this trench with a thin cashmere cardigan for warmth and a quirky, colourful umbrella and you're good to go. With rainy days approaching us, can sunny spring skies be far behind?

Is it time to put away the winter garb and pull out the lightweight jackets and trenches in your region yet? Are you a fan of trenchcoats for spring?
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