Friday, 13 October 2017

Friday Favorites

Hey everyone! Sorry for the lack of posts lately. Biostats has taken over my life and I've been finding it difficult to shoot outfit posts because my amazing photographer (aka my sister) lives 2.5 hours away! At the beginning of the school year I was worried that I wouldn't have enough to do, but now that the semester has picked up, I have a part-time research job, and I joined the student association for my department, I fear I have too much on my plate. However, my sister is coming to visit this weekend for homecoming so I'm hoping to squeeze in a shoot.

I was super excited to hear that J. Crew will be lowering their prices and offering more sales. If you scroll through their website you can already see some less expensive pieces. During the 40% off sale I purchased the striped off-the-shoulder top pictured above. It's super cute! I can't wait to wear it out for dinner or cocktails. It does run very large so I would suggest sizing down one size or even two sizes (for reference I'm normally an XS-S, and went with an XXS).

In other news, Bauble Bar came out with a collection of 18K gold jewelry. Personally, I prefer having a few nice pieces that will last for years to come as opposed a ton of trendy jewelry, so I was will definitely keep this collection in mind for Christmas. This ring is so pretty!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

My Grad School Experience So Far

This is my 3rd week of the Master of Public Health (MPH) program at Queen's University and so far, I'm loving it. It's a completely different change from undergrad, but in a good way. The school that I went to for undergrad was not very social and didn't have much school spirit. I went strictly for the academics, which I don't regret, but I was craving more of a typical university experience after I finished. I can definitely say that I've found that experience here.

Even though I've only been at Queen's for a few weeks, I already feel at home. To start off, my program is small (less than 50 people), so we're already pretty close. I'm always studying in the library, grabbing food, or going out for drinks with my classmates. The professors specifically told us to collaborate and not be competitive, so everyone looks out for one another. This is much different from undergrad, when I would only shares my notes with a select few and rarely hangout with my classmates outside of lecture.

Another thing that I love about Queen's is living in Kingston, Ontario. It has the most restaurants per capita in all of Canada, even though it's a fairly small town. I already have a long list of restaurants that I can't wait to try. I also love being close to everything - campus, the grocery store, the drug store, cafes, restaurants, bars and the waterfront. I walk just about everywhere!

As for the actual work, I'm finding the course load to be a lot less than undergrad. I'll be working part-time during school for the first time in my life because of the extra room in my schedule. Instead of taking 5 courses a semester, I only have to take 3 courses plus a pass or fail workshop. For the most part, the level of difficulty is similar to that of a 3rd or 4th year course, except for Biostatistics. It is the hardest course that I've ever taken in my life, even though I've already taken 2 stats courses before! I have to study a minimum of 2 hours before each class just so that I can keep up with the lecture material. The other day I was asking my professor a question and nearly burst in to tears from frustration. Fortunately, I know that everyone else is in the same boat, so it's nice having people to vent to and study with.

I can't finish this post without mentioning my roommates. I live with 4 other grad students and they're all so great. Everyone is respectful and mature, which I can really appreciate after two particularly awful roommate experiences. Having a group of people to hangout with who aren't in my program is so nice when I want a break from anything school related.

Overall, my grad school experience has been a great one so far! I'm really excited to see what the rest of the semester will bring.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Meghan Markle Street Style

I've been following Meghan Markle ever since she started dating Harry and starting popping up in the news (I mean, isn't everyone?). I'm obsessed with her classic yet casual style! As much as I love Kate Middleton's style, her wardrobe mainly consists of fancy dresses and coats that I obviously don't have the opportunity to wear myself. However, Meaghan wears a ton of outfits that I could actually see myself wearing. In fact, I already own a lot of Meghan's staples like hunter boots, flats, Stans, oxford shirt, knit hats, baseball caps, beanies, and wool coats (not the Goyard and Mulberry bags though ;) day!).

What's your favorite outfit?

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Fall Finds

Here's a collection of fall items that I've been eyeing. The weather has been crazy hot here lately and I've been dying for the weather to cool down so I can wear fall clothes! 

Monday, 18 September 2017

Casual and Comfy for Class

Photography:  Brandon Gauthier

Sweater: J. Crew Factory // Vest: J. Crew // Jeans: 7 For All Mankind
Sneakers: Stan Smiths // Tote: Tory Burch // Sunglasses: Ray-Ban

I'm so excited to be back with another outfit post! Last week was my first week of class and I loved checking out outfits on campus. Students at Queen's University get more dressed up for class compared to where I went for my undergrad, where you could get away with wearing sweats every single day (not that that's a bad thing!). In undergrad, I would often get comments like, "Why are you so dressed up?" and even, "Are you going to an interview?" because of what I was wearing, even very casual outfits. Personally, I love fashion and I don't see the point of saving my favorite clothes for special occasions!

Popular trends that I've noticed include white sneakers, boyfriend jeans, and round sunglasses. While I won't be wearing loose, ripped jeans anytime soon, I love dressing down an outfit with my Stan Smiths. I was thissss close to returning them, but I've worn them almost every day since I've started college so I know they were a good purchase! I love this outfit because its so cozy and comfortable, but still looks put-together.

What do you like to wear to class?

Monday, 4 September 2017

The Ultimate Fall Fashion Guide

Fall is by far my favorite season. I love the weather, the excitement of heading back to school, the smell of leaves in the air, Halloween, and the fashion. I feel like my sense of style thrives in fall. It's so easy to throw on a pair of jeans, riding boots or Hunters, a sweater, and a vest and look put together.

In this guide I've included classic pieces that are great for mix-and-matching. As much as I love fun, trends like bell-sleeves and off-the-shoulder tops, these trends are not here to stay (I limited myself to one bell sleeve sweater this season). On the other hand, pieces like peacoats are timeless. Over the past few years I've slowly built a fall wardrobe that I'm quite content with, mainly with items in this guide. In fact, I couldn't think of anything that I really needed for autumn this year because these items are so versatile!

J. Crew Peacoat (similar)

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

5 Goals for the Upcoming Semester

I've never been one for New Year's Resolutions - for me, September signals the start of a "new year". For many of us, September will bring new changes - perhaps a new school, new city, new job, new roommates, new classmates, and new professors or teachers. I'll be starting my Master of Public Health degree at Queen's University in September, so I will be experiencing most of these "news". My program is only 16 months long so I really want to make the most of what I hope will be my last degree!

1. Get Straight A's
Among my friends, it's no secret that I'm a huge keener. I love school and I'm proud of what I've been able to achieve academically. I do put a lot of pressure on myself, but for the most part I find that time management skills and study strategies almost always help me achieve my goals without a crazy amount of stress (though this took me a few years to figure out!). So, during my first semester of grad school, I hope to continue to continue this pattern and maintain straight As. However, I won't be too hard on myself if I get a B grade in Biostatistics, a subject that doesn't come naturally to me.

2. Exercise
As a Health Science student, I learned allll about the importance of exercise, right down to a molecular level. Even so, I rarely exercise during school. By rarely, I mean that I can count the number of times I work over the course of a semester on one hand - pretty bad, I know. This summer I've been running and doing hot yoga a ton. I truly enjoy exercising and I find that it gives me so much energy. The hard part is actually forcing myself to get started.

Since I only have to take 4 courses instead of my usual 5 and I have Mondays off, there is absolutely no excuse for me not to exercise. During the first week of school, I'm going to march over to the nearest hot yoga studio and purchase a membership. If you're looking for a quick workout that you can squeeze into a very busy schedule, try a HIIT workout video on YouTube - they are no joke and usually take less than half an hour.

3. Socialize More
Because I focus so hard on studying, I often pass up on opportunities to hangout with friends. This was especially true during my senior year of college. Many of my friends had jobs waiting for them after graduation, but I had to focus on keeping up my grades for grad school. It's easy to say no to a movie or trivia night when applications are right around the corner. However, since I'm starting at a new school, its obviously important that I put in an effort to make new friends. Studying doesn't necessarily have to involve locking myself up in my bedroom, so I hope I can find some good study buddies.

4. Stay in Touch With Friends
Normally I'm pretty terrible at keeping in touch with long distance friends. I hate having long, important conversations over text and would much rather wait to catch up in person. Isn't it the best when you haven't seen someone in months and pick up right where you left off? Unfortunately I won't have the luxury of seeing my friends as often this year since we're living further apart. I'm going to try to text/call/Skype my friends more often and book trips to visit them when I can.

5. Plan Fun Dates With My Boyfriend
I consider myself to be in a "medium" distance relationship. I say medium because my boyfriend is only 2.5 hour train ride away! This seems pretty short compared to one summer when we were an expensive 5 hour plane ride apart. I can't wait to explore more of what Toronto has to offer and make the most of our weekends together.

What are your goals for the upcoming semester?

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Santa Teresa Costa Rica Recap

Last week I had the pleasure of joining my boyfriend, his parents, his sister, and her boyfriend for an amazing vacation in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. Santa Teresa is a small beach town full of an interesting mix of locals, Westerners, surfers, yogis, and artists. It attracts celebrities like Tom Brady, Gisele Bundchen, and Matt Damon, though the vibe is completely low-key and laid back. The area is safe, so we we're able to spend lots of time ATVing around town and checking out the local restaurants. This was a nice change from being stuck at an all-inclusive!

After flying from Toronto to San Jose, we took a small charter plane to Tambor. I have a fear of flying and being in a tiny, bumpy plane didn't help! At one point the plane dropped and I screamed. The one nice thing about the plane was that it flew close to the ground so we had an amazing view of the ocean. 

Where I stayed
The White House is a gorgeous 3-bedroom beach front villa located along Playa Hermosa. The house shares the concierge, housekeeping, and security with the Pranamar yoga resort right next door. Each morning they would bring us fresh pastries and fruit, and clean the house from top to bottom. The house has a full kitchen, so it was nice to have the freedom to cook our own meals and prepare snacks whenever we wanted.

I loved sitting in the hammocks on the beach looking at hermit krabs, spotting howler monkeys in the trees, whale watching, and drinking wine. Although we couldn't swim in the ocean right out front of the house because of rocks, it was only a 5 minute walk to prime swimming and surfing further down the beach. There's also a beautiful infinity pool right in front of the house.

I have SUPER curly hair and I left my hair straightener at home for the first time ever! I knew it would be pointless to bring it since I would be in and out of the pool all whole day. Though I won't be letting it go curly anytime soon in the city, it was nice not having to worry about doing my hair each morning. 

What I did

A big thank you to my boyfriend's mother for planning all these activities!

Yoga: Since we were located right next to Pranamar, we we're able to join classes next door at the resort and a lovely teacher Amy from Pranamar also gave us private lessons on the White House property. As much as I love doing yoga at home, nothing will ever beat looking out on to the ocean during my practice. It was so calming and I started falling asleep at end of every single class.

Horseback Riding: I used to be a crazy horse girl, so naturally I was very excited to go riding. Our awesome guides took us through the forest and along the beach, while we learned about the plants and animals.

Zip-lining: Our wild (but safe!) guides had us do some very crazy and terrifying positions while zip-lining through a beautiful forest.

Surfing: I personally didn't surf, though I enjoyed watching my boyfriend and his sister's boyfriend take surf lessons while the local dogs frolicked along Playa Hermosa. The waves are great for beginners.

Reading: I finished two books, The Glass Castle and The Invention of Wings, both great books. I added my reviews to my Reading List!

What I Ate
I'm not exaggerating when I say that I had some of the best food that I've ever tried! Most restaurants were in these nondescript, open air shacks along the road but served absolutely incredible food.

Zwart Art Cafe: An art studio/cafe that serves lots of healthy food including bowls, vegetarian dishes, smoothies, and juices. The banana pancakes that I had were good, but the atmosphere and art was better. The studio of artist Margriet Zwart is located in the middle of the cafe and her bright, unique paintings are on display. She did all of the art for the White House.

Te Parto En 8: They serve Italian food including pizza, pasta, as well as breakfast. My favorites were the pepperoni pizza,  zucchini carpaccio, and tuna carpaccio. We went twice in one week!

Koji's: A higher end sushi restaurant with a nice atmosphere. The Tuna Tataki was the best tuna dish that I have ever tried in my life! The sushi rolls and chicken teriyaki we're also pretty good.

Chicken Joe's: They serve awesome chicken (duh), fries, potato salad, tacos, and plantain chips. Their pineapple BBQ sauce is to die for! I considered bribing them for the recipe.

Soda Tiquicia: A soda is sort of like a Costa Rican diner. I had a traditional "Casado" dish with rice, beans, salad, fries, and chicken for the equivalent of $6.

Private Chef: In celebration of my boyfriend's parent's anniversary, they hired a private chef to cook dinner. We had shrimp croquettes, seabass with sweet potato puree and veggies, and banana flambe, all excellent.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Fade to Fall

Denim Skirt:  H&M // Shoes:  Converse // Sunnies:  Ray-Ban

The past few days have been on the chillier side and I don't mind it one bit! There's nothing I love more than a cool, crisp fall day. I can't wait for September when I can pull out a box of jackets, flannels, and sweaters that are tucked away in my closet.

I think that this is such a great transition outfit into fall. The layers are key for in-between weather, while the skirt add a summery touch.

On another note, I haven't worn a denim skirt since middle school! It was from Limited Too and I used to wear leggings underneath (LOL). I really love the one I'm wearing from H&M - it's high-waisted and not too short.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Back To School Planners

I can't remember the last time I was this excited for school! The summer has flown by and September is fast approaching, but I feel like it couldn't come enough. I probably won't feel that way a couple weeks in to the semester, but for now I'm looking forward to living in a new city, going to a new university, living with new roommates, and meeting new people in my classes.

At this point, I've banned myself from buying any more summer clothes, so I've starting stocking up on fall clothes (bless the Nordstrom sale) and school supplies. As always, I will be picking up an agenda to keep me organized. I genuinely don't know how I would remember all of my "to-do's" for school, volunteering, and blogging if I didn't write them down. 

Obviously, there are the classic Lilly and Kate agendas, but I did some exploring and found a ton of other options. I leaning towards the customizable agendas from May Designs (#2) and Plum Paper (#3). They allow you to choose a cover, add a monogram or name, and personalize the inside layout. 

Which planner is your favorite?

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Off The Shoulder Love

Dress:  Forever 21 // Purse: Tory Burch // Sunglasses: Sperry
Earrings:  Chayle // Sandals: Aldo

Just when I promised myself that I wouldn't add another off the shoulder item to my closet I buy this dress... The good news is that it's it's under $25! It's made of lightweight cotton which is perfect for a hot summer's day. You can pair it with Jacks or flat ankle strap sandals for a casual look, or dress it up with a pair of espadrille wedges. Already I've worn it out for a day of shopping (which you may have seen on my Instagram story - follow along here) and out for cocktails.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Costa Rica Packing List

Face Sunscreen: Laroche Posay // Body Sunscreen: Neutrogena
Sunnies: Ray-Ban // Statement Earrings:  Tuckerknuck
 Beach Tote:  L.L. Bean // Sun Hat:  Saks Off 5th
Sandals: Jack Rogers // Off The Shoulder Dress:  Mink Pink // White Linen Shirt:  J. Crew 
Sports Bra:  J. Crew x New Balance // Leggings:  J. Crew x New Balance
Denim Skirt:  H&M // Bathing Suit:  J. Crew

In a few weeks I will be flying down to Costa Rica with my boyfriend and his family! We're staying at a beachfront villa and I couldn't be more excited. His mom is quite the keener when it comes to planning, so we have plenty of activities booked including horseback riding, zip lining, and yoga. When we're not running around, I plan on lounging by the pool, reading, and napping ;) So, I'm packing a mix of active wear, swimsuits, and casual hot weather clothing.

I ordered this denim skirt and I think it's probably my best purchase of the summer. It's the perfect blue wash and isn't too short! If you're looking for an inexpensive denim skirt then check out H&M because they have so many great options!

Friday, 21 July 2017

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Favorites

Let me start off this post by saying that I know everyone and their mother has posted about the Nordstrom Anniversary sale, but I think it's one of the best sales of the year! It's such a great opportunity to stock up on fall items at a discount, instead of waiting until the season is almost finished. I personally enjoy reading about other people's favorite picks so I thought I'd share my own.

Today is the day that the sale opens up to the general public. I happen to be in Toronto for the weekend so I will be dragging my boyfriend with me to the mall bright and early tomorrow morning! I have my eye on the leather jacket and designer denim.

Follow me on Instagram (@plaidandpearls1) if you'd like to join on Saturday as I shop the sale and try on lots and lots of clothes :)

Thursday, 20 July 2017

English Country Garden Gin Cocktail

Gin is one of those things that you either love or hate, so this recipe is for you gin lovers! The English Country Garden is super refreshing, dry, and perfect for a hot summer's day. Yum!

I saw many different variations of this cocktail online, but this particular recipe is based on the one from my favorite local cocktail lounge. I guesstimated the quantities of the ingredients and it tastes exactly like the real thing!

-1.5 oz of Hendrick's gin
-0.5 oz of St. Germain elderflower liqueur
-0.5 oz of fresh lime juice
-2-3 oz of tonic
-a couple sprigs of mint
-1 thick slice of cucumber, chopped into small pieces

1. Add cucumber and mint to a glass and muddle
2. Fill the glass with plenty of ice
3. Add the gin, elderflower liqueur, lime juice, and tonic
4. Give it a quick stir and enjoy!

What's your favorite summer drink?

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