Today's Outfit: Blue Ikat

Mark's CURVE-TECH bra tank dress (c/o) | Joe Fresh men's belt | J. Crew & H&M bracelets | Juliet & Company earrings | Marc by Marc Jacobs bag | LUSH Liquid Lipstick in 'Strong' (c/o) | Zoya Nail Polish in 'Bevin' (c/o Spa Boutique)

5 things (in no particular order):

1. I'm finally trying out large-format photos for outfit posts. What do you think, yay or nay?

2. The lovely blue ikat frock you see here is not only my first ikat print ever, it's also the first item I've owned from Mark's. Who knew that such an adorable summer dress could come from a chain known for utilitarian work garments? As with all the styles in their new CURVE-TECH line of dresses, this dress has a built-in bra. Not a flimsy piece of cloth with an elasticized bottom, mind you, but a fully molded, lightly padded underwire bra. Think of how convenient that is! No worrying about finding the right bra to wear under a strappy sun dress or peekaboo straps sliding off your shoulders. After having worn it twice (and receiving lots of compliments!), I can say that it's comfy, fits well, and goes through the washing machine just fine.

3. I got promoted at work and went from being a technical writer to being documentation lead. (I kind of hinted at it in my last outfit post when I said my workload has increased.) So far it hasn't been dramatically different other than more meetings and more work, but hey, it's a new challenge and I welcome it.

4. After dragging the boy to Moonrise Kingdom last Friday and showing him The Fantastic Mr. Fox on Sunday, I may have inadvertently made a Wes Anderson fan out of him.

5. On the condo front, our TV has finally arrived, but we don't have a place to put it yet because our media stand is back-ordered. This means no watching the Olympics from home. Sigh.

Happy Monday!


GATHER Giveaway Winner is...

Monika Belichar

Congratulations Monika! For everyone else, this is just a quick reminder that GATHER starts today!


Product Review: LUSH Happy Feet

Last week, I posted about LUSH's new Emotional Brilliance makeup line and reviewing their Grease Lightning blemish treatment, This week, I'm still on a pretty LUSH-happy kick thanks to their Happy Feet pedicure kit ($24.95). The bundle of four tootsie-pampering products helps you soak, scrub, exfoliate, and moisturize your way to softer feet before your DIY pedi. Plus, all the products come bundled in a reusable knotted cloth--an eco-friendly packaging method based on a centuries-old Japanese tradition of wrapping gifts in reusable patterned cloths.

So how did all the products in Happy Feet fare? Let's take a look at each one.

The Geo Phyzz bath bomb is classic LUSH: a fizzy orb meant to be dropped in a bathtub filled with warm water. The sea salt, cypress, and pine made for a relaxing soak, but I wish that LUSH had included 2-3 smaller versions of Geo Phyzz in Happy Feet instead of just one big bath bomb to allow for multiple soaks.

The Stepping Stone foot scrub dissolved too quickly to be of much use as a scrubbing stone, plus its bright green colour and oily residue were a bit hard to clean from my nice white bathtub! Not a fan.

Of all the products in Happy Feet, I was most intrigued by the Volcano foot mask, which is supposed to exfoliate dead skin using papaya enzymes and deodorize at the same time. Simply apply, wrap your feet in cling wrap, and wait 10 minutes before rinsing. After I finally managed to get the super-tight lid off, I applied the cement-like mask and wrapped my feet as instructed. A warm tingly sensation washed over my feet as soon as the cling wrap was on. (The enzymes, I suppose.) Calluses and dry spots were noticeably softer when it was time to rinse off.

Like the Volcano foot mask, the Fair Trade foot lotion--infused with arnica and mint--was a Happy Feet highlight. The refreshing, quick-absorbing, and super-moisturizing formula contains organic fair trade cocoa butter. I've taken to keeping it in my nightstand and applying a bit before bed.

Overall, I like the premise behind Happy Feet. But if I had to choose, the Volcano foot mask and the Fair Trade foot lotion would be my favourites.

Have you tried Happy Feet or any of the products in it?


Establishment Lounge Media Tasting Event

When you see the words "tasting menu" and "canapes" on an invitation, the last thing you'd expect is a twelve-course sit-down dinner that leaves guests full to bursting. But that was exactly what happened last Wednesday when media and bloggers were invited to Establishment Lounge (3162 West Broadway) in Kitsilano. The global fusion tapas menu by executive chef Victor Bongo featured unexpected and delectable twists on familiar dishes. From the bison sliders to the lamb to the chilled raspberry basil soup served for dessert, everything was so well executed that diners were hard-pressed to pick a favourite dish when Chef Bongo himself came out to greet them. Here's a look back at some of the culinary highlights that have me hoping to return again soon.

The vegetarian version of Chef Bongo's best known dish, African peanut soup, was spicy and savoury, with just enough crunchy peanut bits to form a nice contrast with the puree texture.

The black truffle saccottini pasta was a smooth creamy morsel of a second course.

A grown-up spin on a childhood favourite, the lamb merguez frank featured lamb sausage served in a buttery croissant. The lamb was just the right balance of dry and juicy with no gamey taste at all.

The Okanagan goat cheese and fig souffle--so wonderfully decadent.

The Malaysian chicken satay came in a spicy peanut sauce that had just the right amount of heat.

Compared to the bold spice and flavour of the other dishes, the Latin pan-seared scallops served on corn cakes with avocado mousse, chipotle, and pico de gallo were relatively simple but fresh.

If this post has your mouth watering, you should definitely stop by Establishment Lounge soon.


GATHER + Giveaway

One definition of "gather" is "to bring together into one group, collection, or place," and on July 27th-29th, that's exactly what will be happening at the GATHER pop-up shop (1 West Cordova St.) in Gastown.

But this isn't your standard pop-up shop. "It’s the next frontier in urban socials and not your typical pop-up shop, with everything from fashion to food, popsicles to pottery, music to mixology," say organizers Ally Day and Cariann Nesler. Not only can attendees shop the latest in fashion and home decor from local designers, they can take workshops in photography, terrarium-building, embroidery, social media, or mixology. (Just check the workshop schedule online and sign up in advance.)

Interested in attending? GATHER's organizers are generously giving one lucky Solo Lisa reader in the Lower Mainland free admission, plus a gift bag which includes, among other items:

  • Nostalgic Links Lego cufflinks
  • Henderson Dry Goods laser cut wooden magnets
  • LoveJules headband
  • My Little Lights
  • Wild Rabbit stationery
  • Jolanta V leather goods

To win free admission and the gift bag: Simply leave a comment on this post telling me which aspect of GATHER intrigues you most. (The local designs? The workshops?) The giveaway closes Friday July 27th at 12pm PST and a winner will be chosen randomly. Good luck!


Today's Outfit: Flower Power

  • Banana Republic dress (c/o)
  • Urban Outfitters fedora
  • Pour La Victoire sandals

I confess, I've been a delinquent blogger with regards to this particular Banana Republic floral silk maxi dress. When I first got it at the BR media preview last year, I giddily declared, "Expect to see an outfit post featuring this maxi once summer arrives in Vancouver." That summer, I wore the dress for bridal showers, shopping days around Gastown, and other occasions, but alas, I never managed to fit in an outfit post. Now fast forward to this summer, and maybe it's because I'm on a silk dress-and-sandals kick, but this beautiful frock is finally (and deservingly) getting a post of its own.

Hmm so what can I tell you about life other than it's exhausting and wonderful all at the same time? On top of the usual routine of work, blogging, salsa, yoga, and social events, we're trying to put together the last few elements of our place. (We picked up the rug I ordered from the DHL depot last weekend!) Plus, it looks like my responsibilities at work have increased. I'm going to have to be extra good about scheduling some "do nothing and decompress" downtime for myself this weekend.

Have a great weekend!


Product Review: LUSH Grease Lightning

Although I get quite a few compliments from makeup artists and friends about my skin, I'm not immune to the occasional blemish, especially around that time of the month. To the rescue: the newest product from LUSH, Grease Lightning ($12.95) is a gel formula meant to zap blemishes and absorb excess oil. Antibacterial ingredients like tea tree oil, thyme, and rosemary shrink zits. Meanwhile, lavender oil regulates oil production, green grape juice gently cleanses skin, and aloe vera soothes inflammation.

So, how does Grease Lightning measure up? Surprisingly, the bevy of natural ingredients does an admirable job of keeping sporadic breakouts under control. It visibly shrinks zits overnight and takes away some of the inflammation and redness. Since I use it as a spot treatment, the 1.5 oz container is more than enough. I also like dabbing some on congested pores around my nose and cheekbones to clear them up gradually. Overall, I'm impressed enough to keep Grease Lightning in the medicine cabinet for the rare skin emergency.

Are you a fan of LUSH products?


Living the LUSH Life

LUSH is perhaps best known for its shower and bath products, and there were plenty of both in evidence when I attended their media preview event at the newly renovated Robson St. location last Wednesday evening.

But the star products of the event were LUSH's new range of cosmetics. Dubbed 'Emotional Brilliance' by company co-founder Rowena Bird, the colours of the super-pigmented liquid lipsticks, eyeliners, and cream eyeshadows correspond to moods and psychological needs. One's subconscious emotional state will render certain colours more alluring (and more therapeutic) than others. Each guest had a one-on-one colour consultation where they chose shades/emotions from a colour wheel that appealed most to them. Mine were Passionate (a fuchsia shade that represented both my greatest strength and my weakness), Calm (a sky blue that represented my subconscious need), and Motivate (a navy blue that represented the talent I'd need to achieve my subconscious need).

Also noteworthy: the vegan formulas; the minimalist eyedropper-like bottles made from glass and recycled plastic and meant to reduce consumer waste; and the interchangeable applicator wands which make it easy to use the colours on eyes, lips, or face. Luminizing skin tints, translucent face powder, and mascara rounded out the new cosmetics line.

Aside from exploring 'Emotional Brilliance', the event was a chance to get re-acquainted with LUSH's offerings. Shampoos, fizzy bath bombs, and body washes galore lined the shelves and aisles, inviting guests to test, touch, and sniff. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they had a full range of skincare: facial cleansers, serums, the works.

The cherry on top of the whole event: LUSH employees were on hand to whip up 'Ayesha' fresh face masks containing clay, asparagus, and honey for guests to take home.

The 'Emotional Brilliance' makeup line launches worldwide July 21st and will be available in all LUSH stores and online. Most products are $18.95 to $22.95. Thanks to LUSH for the sneak peek! And speaking of living the LUSH life, I've been testing a couple of their products for the past few weeks. Stay tuned for reviews.


Today's Outfit: Turquoise Reverie

  • Joe Fresh silk dress
  • Kelsi Dagger sandals
  • Pedicure: Joe Fresh nail polish in 'Canary'

When the mercury rises, the most appealing outfits also seem to be the simplest ones. There's nothing like beating the heat in a colourful silk dress and flat sandals. I like how the details (the neckline cutouts, the chiffon ruffles on the shoes) add visual interest without requiring further thought on my behalf.

In other news, the boy and I finally unpacked our last few boxes! Our place is clean enough that we can invite people over without feeling ashamed! This is huge. There are still a couple of things we need to get, like a dining table big enough for 4-6, a media stand, and a TV, but the condo is feeling homier by the day.

Have a great weekend!


Lisa's Most Coveted List

It's finally starting to feel like summer! Here are 5 things I love right now which are very much in the spirit of the season.

1. Deborah Lippmann 'Addicted to Speed' quick dry top coat (available at Wishlist Boutique, BeautyMark, Kiss & Makeup, and Holt Renfrew). As relaxing as I find DIY manicures and pedicures, I don't love doing my nails two hours before bedtime and still managing to wake up with inexplicable dents and creases in my topcoat. So imagine how thrilled I was to find Deborah Lippmann's 'Addicted to Speed', which dries to a super shiny finish and hardens polish in about 10 minutes. (For best results, apply it two minutes after your nail colour.) What's more, it makes your lacquer last longer and stand up better to chips. Pricey, yes, but I don't regret buying it as it's made my DIY manis look light years better.

2. Sunday afternoon salsa at Robson Square. Every Sunday from now until the end of August, enjoy free lessons, performances, and social dancing in Robson Square. I've been going to this for years and look forward to the return of this event each summer. If you've ever been curious about salsa, or you took classes long ago and want to brush up in a non-intimidating atmosphere, I encourage you to check it out.

3. Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butter in 'Tutti Frutti'. If you've been a fan of orange ever since Pantone decreed 'Tangerine Tango' to be the colour of the season, then this is the perfect lip colour for you. It's a creamy orange without a hint of shimmer and very moisturizing, and the texture is somewhere between lipstick and balm. Since buying a tube of 'Tutti Frutti' at London Drugs, it's all I've wanted to wear on weekends.

4. Candlelight. Even activities as simple as watching a movie, reading a magazine, and eating dinner seem more romantic and glamorous with a scented candle glowing in the background or a couple of lit tealights. The orange chick candleholders pictured above were a media gift from the CB2 grand opening party.

5. The panoramic view of the city from our building's rooftop patio. This is easily one of my favourite things about our new place. Mountains and water to the north, lush green trees to the east, downtown to the west. We invited Alicia and Adam over on Sunday for an ad hoc picnic on the roof.

What are you coveting during these lazy, hazy days of summer?


Luxe or Less: Orange Tulip-Hemmed Frocks

The hot summery weather in Vancouver lately has me thinking about dresses. They're all I want to throw on, along with flat sandals, tinted SPF moisturizer and budgeproof mascara, before I head out the door. Something like the Diane von Furstenberg 'Maeryn' dress ($513.18, pictured above) would be pretty perfect right now. Not only does its tulip hem billow away from the body in a flattering (and cooling) manner, its bright orange hue is on trend and optimistic.

For a take on this dress that's a little more sportif and a lot more affordable, consider Joe Fresh's orange tulip dress ($69, pictured above). Same silhouette, but done in a neoprene material instead of heavyweight jersey. If the uncanny similarity between these two dresses has you doing a double take, trust me, you're not alone.

Which version do you prefer?


Shop Mt. Pleasant

I couldn't let the weekend come without a shout-out to two events celebrating local artisans and designers, and taking place in my new neighbourhood, Mt. Pleasant. Tomorrow, the local-E BAZAAR! is taking place at the Biltmore Cabaret. Here's what the organizers have to say about it:

"local-E BAZAAR! features over 20 local fashion designers, jewellers, vintage, hand-crafted leather work, men's soaps and more. The event takes place from 11am-4pm at the Biltmore Cabaret at 2755 Prince Edward Street, Vancouver BC (12th and Kingsway). This is a 19+ event with a bar, fun photo booth and food trucks outside."

And on the evening of Thursday July 19th, Converge on Main will be taking place. Participating Main St. merchants offering special discounts anywhere from 10% to 70% off.

Click the flyers to enlarge them and see more details.


Today's Outfit: Yellow

  • Zara blouse and cami
  • Anthropologie skirt
  • H&M necklace
  • Pour La Victoire shoes

In reality, I wore nude ballet flats with this outfit to work instead of the shoes I really wanted to wear (pictured above). I'd talked myself into more practical footwear, thinking of my commute and possible errands I'd have to run. But as soon as I slipped on these platform heels for photos, I marveled at how comfortable they were. Maybe I'll survive a day in them after all, albeit a day where I'm sitting at my desk a lot.

The blue nails are courtesy of Revlon Nail Art Neon nail polish in 'Electric Blue'. I received as a gift at the London Drugs fall 2012 beauty preview a couple of weeks ago, and I have to admit, it was one of the samples I made a beeline for as soon as I unpacked. The dual-ended pen-shaped lacquer has a white primer on one end and a neon shade on the other. The primer intensifies the neon hue but also lets you have a bit of fun: As Revlon spokesperson and editorial manicurist Leeanne Colley demonstrated at the preview, you can easily do a half moon mani by leaving a crescent-shaped sliver of white at the base of the nail. The Nail Art Neon polishes are limited edition, only $8.95 a pop and available in stores this month, so I suggest you stock up.

Pretty impressed so far: After four days of typing, cooking, dishwashing, and showers and handwashing, my manicure is still relatively intact.

In other news, the boy and I are still getting used to our new place. Despite the fact that we've already made our first mortgage payment, it feels more like we're playing house than acting like co-homeowners. I keep feeling as though somewhere out there is my real life, where I still live at home in a room filled with shoes and books. Does that "I'm playing house" feeling ever go away? I'm curious.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the sunshine, readers!


Product Review: Almay Wake-Up Collection

Most mornings when I apply makeup, my main goal is to appear well-rested and bright-eyed; I suspect the same could be said of most women. So it should come as no surprise that there's now a line which makes this concern its primary focus: the Almay Wake-Up Collection. Featuring a bevy of multitasking products infused with a touch of caffeine to energize tired skin, the Wake-Up Collection is supposed to make early morning makeup applications a cinch, and send you on your way looking peppy and naturally pretty. Plus, like all of Almay's products, their newest offerings promise to be hypoallergenic and ophthalmologist-tested.

But how does the Wake-Up Collection stack up in real life? On a day where I had be at work for an 8:30am meeting, I took it for a test drive to find out.

The Blush + Highlighter combo gave me a rosy glow and luminous skin with just one product. The surprisingly soft angled brush and slide-out instruction pamphlet under the compact made the recommended one-swipe application technique a breeze, although I also did some slight blending for a more natural look.

Of all the products in the Wake-Up Collection, the Eyeliner + Highlighter disappointed me most. I like the concept of a double-duty product, but the eyeliner smudged on my oily eyelids and didn't stay put at all.

The Liquid Makeup is supposed to boost hydration in skin by 132%, refresh a tired complexion with its touch of caffeine, and provide SPF 20 sun protection. That being said, I'd still recommend wearing it on top of another moisturizer and under an SPF powder. The needlenose pump dispenser made it easy to dispense just the right amount of product, which was good because a little bit provided enough coverage for my entire face.

The Eyeshadow + Primer gets brownie points for its clever packaging and ease of use. Everything you need is in one little palette, from slide-out instructions to an applicator and a primer that dries to a velvety finish. The colours are pigmented enough to define the eyes without looking too vampy for daytime.

Overall, I liked how the packaging in the Wake-Up Collection provided everything I need for early morning or on-the-go makeup application, as well as the performance of the products themselves.

The Almay Wake-Up Collection is now available at London Drugs.

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