From Solo Lisa's Kitchen: Easy Lunchtime Salad

My Vancouver Fashion eZine editor Marilyn Wilson once said I always had "the best brown bag lunches." While I'm flattered by such compliments, it's also a little embarrassing because the compliment feels undeserved. I know exactly how little effort such lunches can take. A little bit of planning goes a long way when it comes to being lazy.

Take this lunchtime salad I've been eating lately, for example. It's a spin on a white bean and olive salad recipe from Everyday Food magazine. I spend about 30 minutes making 4 servings for 4 days worth of lunches at once. The high fibre and protein content make for a healthy satisfying meal, plus everything keeps surprisingly well in the fridge as long as you use separate containers and combine all the components just before serving.

White Bean and Olive Salad with Egg, Radish and Mixed Baby Greens


  • Lemon juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Whisk dressing ingredients together and put into one airtight container.

[Bean Salad]

  • 3 cans white cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 12 kalamata olives

Combine ingredients and divide evenly into 4 airtight containers.


  • 1 bunch radishes, sliced
  • 142 g mixed baby greens

Combine ingredients and divide evenly into 4 airtight containers.

[Boiled Eggs]

Put 4 eggs in a saucepan with water, making sure that the water covers the eggs by an inch. Bring saucepan to a rolling boil, wait 10-20 seconds, and remove from heat. Let the eggs sit in the hot water for another 12 minutes before removing them.

Before Eating...

Shake your dressing container. Spoon 1.5 spoonfuls of dressing into a container of greens and a container of bean salad, and shake both. Put on a plate. Peel the egg and slice in half; add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Do you like salads as meals? What are your favourite recipes?


Rowan Sky Sets Up Shop in Gastown

While shoes and cosmos served as the calling card for Sex and the City, it was shoes and champagne that proved to be a winning combination at the grand opening party for Rowan Sky last Thursday. Two years young, the independent shoe retailer has moved from Yaletown to spacious new digs at 334 West Cordova. Gastown, it seems, is where they're right at home. After all, hip neighbouring shops abound: Old Faithful is down the street and (212) is the next block over.

The store before the party got going. I like these moments because you can look at everything closely without interruption.

Owners Nima and Troy have narrowed Rowan Sky's focus to footwear only with a small selection of jewelry and Toywatch watches. Shoppers who dread the high prices that usually go along with hip retail addresses and carefully curated selections will be in for a pleasant surprise: Most of the shoes were very affordable at $100-200.

Among the many styles displayed, I spotted heels by Camper, Pour La Victoire and Luxury Rebel; sandals by Matiko; flats and ladylike pumps from Repetto; and a few isolated picks from Ted Baker and Plenty by Tracy Reese. Toms slip-ons and Aigle rainboots rounded out the women's selection.

For the fellas, there was a mix of dressy and casual footwear from the likes of Tretorn, Lacoste, Camper and Tiger of Sweden, as well as an impressive selection of Onitsuka Tiger sneakers in every make and colour. Guests that night enjoyed a 20% discount, and while I couldn't justify buying any shoes for myself, I did end up snagging a pair of Tretorn 'Skymra' sneakers and Tiger of Sweden 'Paul' lace-ups for the boy. (Yup, that's me, always the thoughtful girlfriend.)

A cool detail: The display shelves are actually old books screwed onto brackets.

Congratulations to Nima, Troy and the staff of Rowan Sky on their Gastown move!


Luxe or Less: Fun Beach Totes

With the Canada Day long weekend just around the corner, many of us are probably gearing up for a relaxing time outdoors, whether it's a picnic at the park, a beach barbecue or a jaunty outing on a boat somewhere. And where designer handbags fear to tread (think water, ketchup, sand, grass stains, exploding sunscreen bottles...), a fun canvas tote can be a girl's best friend. For the girl with deep pockets, Jonathan Adler totes ($203.11) are a great option. With their bright colours and kitschy graphics, they perfectly capture the playful spirit of retro sun destinations. It's hard not to want all three.

But since I'm not the sort of girl with deep pockets, I think I'll stick to cheaper options like this Hudson's Bay Company tote bag. The iconic multi-coloured stripes are just as bright and graphic, and at a mere $10, the price can't be beat.

How are you planning to spend Canada Day?


Introducing Mel Shoes

I never thought I'd see the day when I'd be coveting a pair of plastic shoes (no, not even when the original Melissa x Vivienne Westwood collaboration came out). But then again plastic shoes have come a long way since the jelly sandals of our childhoods. Cheap, chic and cheerful, Mel Shoes are just the thing for adding a dose of fun to your summer outfits. Like the shoes from older sister brand Melissa, Mel shoes are made from a flexible recyclable plastic known as melflex which is injected into a mold. Expect sweet candy colours and whimsical motifs like oversize hearts, bows and butterflies, as well as the superior design and quality that Brazilian brand Melissa has been known for since 1979.

In Vancouver, select Mel Shoes styles are available at Lola Home & Apparel. (I lost my heart to the nude pair in the top left corner when I was in there last week.) Get a pair before they're gone!


Product Review: SPF Smarts 101

Before I launch into this post, let me reiterate what dozens of beauty editors have been telling you: SPF is required year-round! You should definitely be more diligent about it during the summer months, but you shouldn't expect 2-3 months of due diligence to undo UV damage you've accumulated throughout the rest of the year either. If you're serious about protecting your complexion from premature aging, wrinkles and skin cancer, you need to be smart about sun protection every day.

Remembering to wear SPF daily is much easier when it comes in excellent products. I prefer SPF moisturizers, lotions and lip balms because they do double-duty and don't require me to use separate products for moisturizing and sun protection benefits. I also have a penchant for lightweight, non-greasy formulas that feel as if you're not wearing sunscreen at all. Here's a round-up of the best products that fit both of those criteria at a variety of price points.

Dermalogica solar defense booster SPF 30 ($60.50) is a godsend for those of us who are addicted to SPF-free moisturizers, creams and lotions and can't imagine living without them. This non-greasy formula has a light citrus scent and can be used alone or mixed with your favourite products for some much-needed sun protection. Think of it as your jack-of-all-trades sunscreen. I like using mine with Consonant Body Ultra Moisturizing Organic Face Cream ($54). Both products are available at BeautyMark.

Anti-oxidants such as vitamins C and E can boost a sunscreen's effectiveness against UVA and UVB rays. Pro-Derm Facial Day Cream SPF 20 ($60.50) is a rich unscented formula that contains both of these vitamins as well as vitamins A and B5, aloe vera and shea butter. Another plus: It's formulated without harsh or harmful ingredients such as mineral oil, petroleum jelly, parabens or perfumes.

Unlike chemical sunscreens which absorb into the skin, mineral sunscreens use small mineral particles that sit on top of the skin to deflect rays. Because they're never absorbed, mineral sunscreens can last much longer than chemical ones as long as you don't touch your face. One fantastic mineral sunscreen is the Colorescience Sunforgettable Dispensing Brush SPF 30 ($63). Use it to set cream- and lotion-based sunscreens; the tinted particles blend into skin without any ashy whiteness. Swap it for your favourite face powder during the summer months. The ultra-portable brush dispenses just the right amount of product and is great for on-the-go touch-ups. (Pro-Derm and Colorescience products are available at Spruce Body Lab.)

Don't forget, the delicate skin on your lips needs sun protection too. Choose a nourishing lip balm with SPF 15 and re-apply before you head outside. I've raved about Fresh Sugar Plum Tinted Lip Treatment SPF 15 ($26 at BeautyMark) before, and I still love its rich moisturizing formula and sheer pinkish-plum tint. For a budget-friendly alternative, try Deserving Thyme Lip Care Balm with SPF 15 ($5.25 at BeautyMark). Although it's untinted and doesn't feel as rich as the Fresh balm, the Deserving Thyme balm goes on in a smooth thin layer, making it an excellent choice for layering under or over bright lipsticks.

For more budget-friendly sun protection, I'm also a big fan of Clinique City Block Sheer Oil-Free Daily Face Protector SPF 25 ($21.50 at Sephora and department store Clinique counters) and Vaseline Aloe Fresh Hydrating + SPF lotion (approx. $12 at local drugstores). The Clinique face protector is tinted, mineral-based and designed to minimize the oil on your face, while the Vaseline lotion is lightweight and quick-absorbing. Both are non-greasy and feel as if you have nothing on your skin, which is always a big selling point in my books.

Whether you're heading to the beach or into cottage country, kiss that exploding bottle of sunscreen goodbye and pack some Dermalogica Solar Defense Wipes SPF 15 ($29 at BeautyMark) instead. Each wipe is enough for one all-over body application, plus they're easy to carry and apply with minimal mess.

Your turn! What are your favourite SPF products and sunscreens?


Green Eyes, Red Lips

Lately I keep returning to two striking images of green eye makeup paired with orange-red lips. The first one is the ad for Tom Ford's upcoming beauty line featuring Lara Stone. It's hard to stop staring at her iridescent green eyeshadow and that perfectly defined pout. Gorgeous! (For an excellent rundown of the collection, check out this write-up by Anya of I'm the It Girl for The Block.)

The second is Chanel's take on the green eyes/red lips look. For the Jil Sander F/W 2011 show, Chanel makeup's global creative director Peter Philips lined models' eyes with Stylo Yeux Waterproof in 'Jade' and applied Rouge Allure lipstick in 'Enthusiast'. Both products are available at local Chanel counters right now, but if you're a Vancouver reader, please wait until I buy them first so I don't have to suffer the crushing disappointment of their unavailability!

Which of these two beauty looks do you prefer? Have you tried Tom Ford's lipsticks or are you a fan of Chanel's? Are any of you looking forward to the Tom Ford beauty line launch this fall?


Today's Outfit: Weekend Stripes

If you had told me months ago that I'd get caught up in Stanley Cup fever, I would've laughed in your face. But as I watched each game with the boy I became more and more emotionally invested. On the day of game 7, my feelings went from elation to disappointment, culminating in disgust and mortification at the riots. Kudos to the fans and Vancouverites who showed up yesterday to clean up the downtown core, and to those who left messages of love and support on the boarded-up windows of the BMO and Hudson's Bay Company buildings. You showed the best side of Vancouver when some despicable hooligans chose to cast this city in the worst light.

It feels trite going from talking about the riots to an outfit, but this is a fashion blog after all and life goes on. So, speaking of which...aren't the 'Abigail' sandals great? I found a pair in a light tan colour at the Dakota Group sample sale. Although I put them on for the outfit shots you see here, at the last minute I switched to flat Pour La Victoire 'Nanette' sandals before going out. One day I will wear them out in public, I promise! It's just that the thought of having to do lots of walking in 4.5" heels makes me nervous. Maybe I'll wear them on a day when the boy and I have something planned which involves me being able to sit down the entire time.


Product Review: Givenchy Phenomen'Eyes Mascara and Magic Kajal Eye Pencil

As a beauty blogger, I get to try all sorts of products: some great, some bad and some that are full of promise but end up being somewhat disappointing. I'm sorry to say that the latest products I received from Givenchy ended up in the latter category. After my fantastic experience with their new Gelée d'Interdit Smoothing Gloss Balm, I was very excited about trying their latest mascara and eyeliner.

Every newly launched mascara claims to give a woman a bigger, bolder pair of lashes and Givenchy's Phenomen'Eyes Mascara ($29.50) is no exception. The round applicator promises to grab every lash from the root, lengthening and volumizing for a "fanned-out panoramic effect" with lots of curl and no clumping. The applicator did deliver on these promises and allow for very precise application; I was able to tilt and angle it to apply mascara to every lash. I also liked the luxe look of the packaging with the short round tube and branded silver cap. Unfortunately , the mascara formula itself wasn't very good. After a few short hours of wear, it started to leave dark smudges on my lower eye and continued to do so throughout the day.

The Givenchy Magic Kajal Eye Pencil ($22) also turned out to be hit-and miss. Inspired by the kajal used by Indian women to line their eyes, this high-pigment pencil contains wax, oil and vitamin E to make it creamy and soft to apply and to minimize tugging on the sensitive eye area. Givenchy claims the formula is long-lasting and ideal for lining the inner rims of the eyes. I tried lining my inner eyelids and was pleased with how the formula stayed put even though I had watery eyes and was wearing contacts. However, when used as a conventional eyeliner worn along the upper lash line, Magic Kajal didn't deliver. Within an hour of applying it I had a smudgey mess all over my eyelids.

Have you tried either of these Givenchy products? What do you think of them?


Skirt-ing the Issue

Although warm weather is a great excuse to wear maxi dresses, shorts, rompers and all manner of delightful summery garments, the piece I seem to reach for time and again is the yellow Japanese doll print skirt I bought at Anthropologie last winter. Unfortunately it's no longer available, but luckily for those who are looking for their own full cotton skirts with hidden side pockets, Anthropologie has an abundance of them in every colour and pattern this season.

What's not to love about this style? The voluminous A-line silhouette accentuates a small waist and looks great with tank tops, silk blouses or plain tees tucked in. It goes with ballet flats, kitten heels and casual sandals. The cotton is light and breezy. And to top it off, the side pockets are great for small sundries like lip balm, keys and a pair of sunglasses. (The skirt puffs out enough to hide the telltale bulge of your Wayfarers.) All in all, it's the perfect skirt for impromptu walks to the gelato place down the street, a lazy Sunday afternoon at the movies or a sunny stroll through the park with your dog. Here's to spontaneous summer adventures in a skirt that won't slow you down.


Today's Outfit: Bejeweled

  • Urban Outfitters tee
  • Joe Fresh belt
  • Banana Republic jeans
  • Fine Finds necklace (Shopbop has something similar by Adia Kibur)
  • Browns jeweled flats

Aside from being pretty and dramatic-looking, oversized costume jewelry and sparkly embellished flats are also great for spicing up a staid T-shirt and jeans combo. Put on a necklace, slip on some shoes...they're a lazy girl's styling tricks for looking good with minimal effort, and frankly, they're fantastic for a Friday at the end of a long work week.


Lisa's Most Coveted List

It's time for another edition of my Most Coveted List! Here are 5 things that I'm obsessed with right now.

1. Campagnolo Roma. An offshoot of the popular Campagnolo pizzeria on Main St., Roma is the newest restaurant to join the Hastings Sunrise neighbourhood, specializing in the traditional flavours and foods of--you guessed it--Rome and Southern Italy. I'm embarrassed to say that since it opened less than a month ago I've already been back 3 times; it's just that good. Try their seasonal spot prawn specials and the delectable Romana pizza.

2. Popchips. Popchips are made from a potato-based flour and popped, not fried or baked. They're also gluten-free and contain no cholesterol, trans fats, saturated fats or preservatives, and at roughly 100 calories a serving, they're a guilt-free alternative to the chips, popcorn and pretzels you usually reach for. As a devoted muncher of countless bags of kettle-cooked chips, I was skeptical that these could rival my preferred snack. But Popchips have a satisfyingly crunchy texture and come in some pretty tasty varieties. My favourite was the salt and pepper flavour.

3. Fresh Sugar Plum tinted lip treatment SPF 15 ($26; available at BeautyMark). This lip balm is one of many SPF products I'm reviewing for an upcoming post, but I love it so much that it deserves to be spotlighted in its own right. The texture is rich and luxurious but never sticky, and the formula lasts a long time once applied. Although it looks quite dark in the tube, the tint is actually sheer and pinkish-plummy. Add to that the sugary scent, SPF 15 and a naturally sourced ingredients list free of harmful chemicals and you have a lip balm sure to become a summer essential.

4. Colourful clothes, particularly those in a palette of bright oranges, pinks, navy blues and beiges. I could stare at these pieces all day long; to me, the hues combine to form the most perfect summer capsule wardrobe imaginable. From left to right: Diane von Furstenberg 'Olivia' dress ($330.81), Ella Moss 'Liberty' strapless dress ($160.83), Dolce Vita 'Lanie' high waist shorts ($89.57), Rebecca Minkoff 'Tatiana' sleeveless blouse ($171.01), Madewell 'Sunday Stroll' shirtdress ($171.01).

5. Pinterest. Cloud computing meets mood board creating in this delightful new platform. I started my Pinterest account on the weekend and it's already become an addiction. It's intuitive and easy to use, plus it lets you create multiple boards to pin images by category. It even comes with a Pin It function you can add to your web browser toolbar so you can pin while you surf. Easy peasy and a lot more manageable than Tumblr for mood board/collage purposes. Who else is on Pinterest?


June issue of Vancouver Fashion eZine is out!

This month I had the pleasure of writing about Vancouver label Obakki, whose profile at the international level has risen dramatically since it was founded in 2005. A fall/winter show in a historic church with hundreds of guests, successful collection after successful collection, an eponymous philanthropic foundation, great strides in the world of social there anything Obakki can't do? Read more about them here.

Product Review: Burt's Bees Skincare

Today's product review comes courtesy of my little brother Gary, who was kind enough to try some of the newest Burt's Bees skincare products and share his thoughts on them. (Hey, guys need good skincare products too!) Here's what he had to say.

Burt’s Bees is known for their naturally sourced beauty products, the most famous of which is their beeswax lip balm. Over the years, they’ve expanded their line to tackle other areas of the body. But one thing remains the same: Burt’s Bee’s strives to use natural ingredients that are not petroleum-based such as beeswax, honey, almonds and mangoes. For several weeks, I had a chance to test drive some of their latest offerings.

Burt’s Bees excels at producing effective skin nourishing and moisturizing products, so I was very excited to try out their Almond Milk Beeswax Hand Creme (12.99). (As a barista, my hands are always dry from frequent exposure to water and hand washing.) The hand cream goes on thick and heavy with a pleasant scent and the beeswax in the formulation prevents further drying of the skin. After only one application overnight I noticed significant improvement in my fingertips and hands. Some people might not like the texture as it feels greasy on the skin because of the sweet almond oil in the formula, but that feeling goes away as the cream absorbs over time.

Their Nourishing Lip Balm with Mango Butter ($4.49) is quite different compared to the regular beeswax lip balms. It feels oilier and thinner and glides on really easily. The mango butter formula doesn’t feel like it lasts as long as the original, so it’s probably more suited to people who like frequent applications. Otherwise it does a fine job of moisturizing and protecting the lips.

For acne- and blemish-prone skin, Burt’s Bees offers the Anti-Blemish Clarifying Toner ($14.99) and the Peach and Willowbark Deep Pore Scrub ($12.99). The toner contains witch hazel, salicylic acid and other astringents to help unclog pores. It performs as advertised; my pores looked smaller after several uses, although this toner is drying and should only be used once a day. I had high hopes for the Peach and Willowbark Deep Pore Scrub, but it falls short in comparison to similar products. The product left a greasy film on my face—probably a result of the glycerin and grape seed oil in the formula.

Are you a fan of Burt's Bee's products? Have you tried any of the ones Gary tested? What do you think of them?


Givenchy Very Irresistible L'Intense Giveaway Winners

The two lucky readers who will each receive a bottle of Givenchy's latest fragrance are Katherine and Danielle C! Congratulations ladies. I'll be contacting you shortly with details on how you can claim your prize.


From Solo Lisa's Kitchen: Gluten-Free Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies

My manager has a gluten allergy and one of my coworkers has celiac disease, so lately I've been trying to find gluten-free baking recipes to make whenever I bring treats to work. I discovered the recipe below a while ago when I was browsing the Martha Stewart website and made the cookies last Monday. The cookie part turned out soft, moist and full of peanut butter flavour, but the semi-sweet chocolate chips were too sweet and overpowered the saltiness of the peanut butter. Next time I might opt for dark chocolate chips instead.

Flourless Peanut-Chocolate Cookies


  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg (lightly beaten)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. In a large bowl, stir together 1 cup creamy peanut butter, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 large egg (lightly beaten), 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon salt until well combined. Stir in 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips and 1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts.
  2. With moistened hands, roll dough, about 1 heaping tablespoon at a time, into balls. Place 2 inches apart on two baking sheets. [I dipped two spoons in a bowl of water and used them to scoop tablespoonfuls of batter. It was a lot neater than using my hands!]
  3. Bake until cookies are golden and puffed, 12 to 14 minutes, rotating sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through. Cool 5 minutes on sheets; transfer cookies to racks to cool completely.

Luxe or Less: Crazy for Cat-Eye Sunglasses

If you're looking for a fun yet classic alternative to Wayfarers and aviators, look no further than cat-eye sunglasses. With their oversize lenses and dramatic frames, they flatter a variety of face shapes while offering a certain retro charm. Their popularity over the last few seasons has meant a huge selection of styles for every price point. Think of them as the purr-fect finishing touch for your sundresses, shirtdresses and every frock in between this season.

Vestal 'St. Jane' sunglasses ($90 at Watch IT! and Pacific Boarder)

Would you try the cat-eye look?


Style Salons at the Shangri-La Hotel

Last Wednesday, a small group of fashion industry insiders gathered at the swish Shangri-La Hotel for the inaugural Style Salons event. Led by Alexandra Suhner Isenberg of Searching for Style, this was the first of a series of panel discussions meant to encourage intelligent conversation about fashion in Vancouver. The initial session sought to address the topic "Vancouver's fashion industry: an incubator, a growth sector or simply a place to set up shop?" Participating panelists included Antonia Iamartino, lead yoga designer at Lululemon; Dace Moore, founder of dace clothing; Ryan Wilms, founder of Inventory magazine; and Stephen Bailey, marketing and communications director at Fluevog.

Here are some of the discussion highlights...

On being in Vancouver: Bailey noted that the problem with Vancouver is that "we're at the absolute edge of the world" and our geographic position creates a certain sense of isolation. By contrast, Iamartino thought that Vancouver's unique lifestyle benefited Lululemon and inspired its west coast lifestyle branding. Wilms was a bit more ambivalent ("Being in Vancouver is just where we happen to be"), but he did point out that being removed from the major hubs like Tokyo and New York was great for providing a fresh perspective. Dace, meanwhile, cited some of the negatives and positives of starting a fashion business in Vancouver: "Some of the stores in Vancouver were the most supportive when we were starting out. [But] some of the challenges were definitely money, rent, studios." She added that when she started there was some stigma attached to being a Vancouver-based label, but now that's changed and "being made in Canada is a plus."

On the Vancouver consumer: All the panelists except for Wilms agreed that the Vancouver market has always been important to their businesses. There was a general consensus that the Vancouver consumer has more conservative tastes than consumers elsewhere.

On having a bigger organizational body that would help the industry: All the panelists agreed that Vancouver's industry needed to become more unified. Bailey pointed to the local fashion weeks (Vancouver Fashion Week, BC Fashion Week, Eco Fashion Week, etc.) as an example--why have separate events that would dilute the overall effectiveness of everyone's efforts when they can combine into one great event?

A lively Q&A session ensued, after which audience members stayed to mix and mingle. Thanks to Alexandra for the invitation to Style Salons, and here's hoping there are more in the future.

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