Saturday, August 31, 2013

Wanderings... Aruba

Well, this is embarrassing. I just realized I forgot to post the photos from my Aruba trip. I had the photos ready to go, but then the blog post just fell out of my mind. Ummm, did I mention, we went to Aruba last November? I guess this will be a throwback type post.

Aruba was amazing... lovely weather, gorgeous sunsets, friendly people, and delicious food. It actually rained a lot while we were there, but they were short downpours that usually happened overnight. Dining on the beach the night we arrived was definitely a treat. Barefoot Restaurant was recommended by the proprietors of our self-catered apartment, and the food was fresh and tasty!

This is what happens when I ask my hubby to smile for a photo!

We hiked so much when we were in Aruba! It was usually hot and sunny, but the island is so windy that it made for comfortable hiking even in the heat. We were often rewarded at the end of our hike with an empty little beach or cove.

So many pristine white sand beaches! Baby Beach was my favourite... you could wade out pretty far!

If you ever make your way to Aruba, I highly recommend checking out the Ayo Rock Formations. It's a free park with huge boulders... and there's a short hike that winds through the rocks and boulders too. I wanted to spend more time at the park, but alas, we are always short on time... even when we're on vacation.

Spot the tiger! (Shhhh, he's not real...)

Other Aruba recommendations:
- Donkey Sanctuary - I could have gone here every day to feed the donkeys apples and carrots.
- Arikok National Park - we did a nice long hike here. :)
- Amadeus Restaurant - we loved this place so much, we ate there twice!
- G&G Pizza and Wings - perfect after a day at Baby Beach.
- Maggy's Aruba - reasonably priced designer cosmetics and fragrances
- Aruba Aloe Factory - we did the tour and came out with a bunch of goodies from the gift shop!

I did an Aruba haul when I got back to Toronto. I don't think I ever posted this on my blog either so here it is...

Note: Not sponsored.

Friday, August 30, 2013

July 2013 SeasonsBox - Unboxing and Review

After a stellar June box, the July box was a bit of a letdown. I thought it was alright, but nothing too exciting. Read on to see what was inside the box!

The pretty inside box with ribbon is no more... instead, SeasonsBox has switched to a printed outer shipping box to be more environmentally friendly. I forgot to take a photo of the outer shipping box, but I show it in the above video. The products seemed haphazardly tossed inside with some scrunched up craft paper. The presentation has definitely gone downhill. What I originally loved about the SeasonsBox was that it was wrapped beautifully (with care) and could easily be given as a gift for any occasion. With this change, I no longer think of SeasonsBox as a go-to gift idea. If the products are amazing, I might still consider purchasing a box as a gift, but I would definitely re-wrap everything before gifting. Enough about the packaging - let's move on to this month's products!

1. Pura Vida Bracelets in NEON

One set of bracelets (hair ties) // $10

This company sells handmade bracelets and other accessories from Costa Rica. I love that this company gives back by providing full time work to artisans in Costa Rica. I was actually looking forward to receiving these hair ties as I've been curious about them ever since I saw them in a Birchbox unboxing, but unfortunately I was disappointed in the colours I received. I had my eyes on the Shades of Grey hair ties (or another neutral set), but I ended up with the bright, neon ones. I think my sister would like these, so I'm thinking of giving them to her.

2. Bella Organics Dead Sea Mineral Mud Mask

2 oz (estimated) // $10

This is my favourite product in the SeasonsBox this month. I've used this mud mask twice, and it made my skin feel great... smoother, firmer, and more youthful. I don't think it has done anything to reduce fine lines, but just the feeling of tighter skin makes this product a winner for me. I will be doing a full video review of this product (viewer request), so please stay tuned for that! When I use this product, I put on some facial oil (I've been loving Stellar from Pelle Beauty) before I apply the mud. The oil is supposed to help the mask work its magic, while protecting and conditioning your skin. I used to find mud masks way too drying, so this extra step has definitely helped. I leave the mask on for the recommended 15 minutes and then I carefully wash it off with lukewarm water and a damp wash cloth.

3. Made From Earth Pure Aloe Vera Skin Treatment

2 oz // $14

I've been enjoying this cream - it's my 2nd favourite product in the July SeasonsBox. The first ingredient is organic aloe vera juice, so I feel like this product is good for my skin. :) The website says to use this treatment 2 to 3 times a week, but I've been using it nightly. I store this cream in my refrigerator (as the website recommends), and I apply one layer of the cream right before bed. The cream feels very cool and refreshing, but it is a little heavy and does not absorb very quickly. That being said, I still like this as a night cream as it leaves my skin feeling very moisturized in the morning.

4. Wild Mountain Raw Foods Pocket Snacks in Lavender Moon

2 oz // $3.50

This soft granola type snack didn't taste a whole lot like lavender, but it was still delicious! Since this snack contains honey, it is not vegan as the product card indicates (thanks Zoe!). The full ingredient list is organic sprouted sunflower seeds, organic raw almonds, organic coconut, local raw honey, organic apricots, organic lavender flowers, and sea salt.

5. Nibnaks in Crancherry Tart

40 g // $2.19

This was a little bonus that was included in this month's SeasonsBox. This snack tasted ok, but I didn't think it was anything special. In fact, my hubby and I still have not finished this - we only had a taste and didn't pick it back up again. I like the packaging a lot (logo, typeface, and design).

Overall, I wasn't too impressed with the July SeasonsBox. I've already received my August SeasonsBox and I will be working on my video review this weekend!

About SeasonsBox
SeasonsBox is a subscription service that promises 3-5 full-size luxury products for your home, body, and spirit. The box now ships out of Atlanta, Georgia and it looks like it is only accepting new subscriptions from U.S. residents. Besides curating boxes themed with a particular season (i.e., winter, spring, summer, fall), SeasonsBox also curates boxes themed with specific holidays (e.g., Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Halloween). The contents of every box are intended to stimulate your senses with the scents and flavours associated with a season or holiday. SeasonsBox provides high quality, luxury, and full-size products (versus samples) with a focus on natural and responsible products. The products are also sourced from various places around the world and most of them are not available in commercial stores. SeasonsBox provides a preview of the products at the beginning of the month. Please visit the SeasonsBox website for current pricing.

Note: I purchased a one year subscription to SeasonsBox with my own money.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Christian Louboutin | Design Exchange

If you love shoes, fashion, or design, I highly recommend the Christian Louboutin exhibition at the DX. This may be the best exhibit I have ever seen. This is going to be an extremely pic-heavy post, but it only begins to scratch at the surface of this incredible exhibit. The 2nd floor of the DX was transformed into a scene reminiscent of the Moulin Rouge. Let's take a look inside!

When you enter the exhibit, you are greeted by so much eye candy! I am in love with carousels, so I was excited to see one adorned with Louboutin shoes. The shoes hung from platforms, which spun around slowly, so you could see the different angles of the shoes.

(Toundra, SS2011 // Yeti, AW2007-08)

(Dahlia, SS2010-11)

(Zoulou, SS2013)

Below is my most coveted shoe on the carousel.

(Mexibeads, SS2012)

Later, I noticed that the carousel was covered in old photographic images... which made me love it even more.

Wall of boots! The pant-boots were... erg... interesting...

(Gymnaste, AW1995-96 // Pretty Woman Cuissard Tag, AW2007-08)

(Tina Forever, AW2008-09 // Nitoinimoi Bandage, season not shown)

(Guerilla, SS2013 // Madison Tag, AW2007-08)

(Decoupata, SS2012)

This next section of the exhibit revealed Louboutin's interest in transparency. And with all the mirrors everywhere, it was hard to resist taking a few photos of my friend and me in the reflection.


(Only the Haute Et Nue pumps were labelled so not sure what these ones are called...)

(Haute Et Nue, SS2007)

(Masai, SS2010 // Dufoura, SS2013)

Whoa, très toe cleavage!

(Très Décolleté, SS2011)

These made me do a double take... Christian Louboutin had the concept for these shoes and ended up making them for Saint Laurent's last runway show. Amazing!

(Défilé Yves Saint Laurent, SS2002)

(Kriptonite, SS2010)

(Attention, AW2011-12 // Let Me Tell You, SS2010)

The next section of shoes was displayed around a stage and had a showgirl theme. In terms of shoes, this was my favourite section of the exhibit.

(Lady Page, AW2009-10)

(no name or season specified)

(Salopina Strasse, SS2008 // Galaxy Pass, SS2009)

(Escandrilla, FW2010-11 // Stardust, SS2011)

(Dita Cabaret, SS2006 // Fifi Strass, SS2011)

(Black Tie, SS2003 // Didn't get the name... oops!)

(Plumetta, AW1994-95 // Pluminette, SS2012)

I love the pink shoes below... crazy but in a good way!

(Isanami, AW2008-09 // Anémone, AW2008-09)

We took a seat to watch a 3 minute and 44 second "holographic performance featuring Dita Von Teese" - it was alright, but I didn't really see the holographic effect because it was so far away that it just looked 2D.

The next section of the exhibit featured shoes inspired by film, fairytale, music, and theatre. I'm not sure what the exact inspiration was for the shoes covered in googly eyes, but I love the quirkiness!

(Déja Vu, AW2011-12)

(Cathédrale, AW2007-08)

(Dillian, SS2009 // Asteroid, SS2012)

The Fetish room is the only section where you are not allowed to take photos. Fetish was a collaboration between Christian Louboutin and David Lynch (filmmaker)... shoes by CL and photographs by DL. The exhibit first showed in Paris in 2007.

When you exit the fetish room, you enter a small room with information on the design process and the 5 stages of shoe construction. There were also a whole bunch of shoe lasts on the wall. My size is 37.

The next room is my favourite out of the whole exhibit. In this section, you get a peek into Christian Louboutin's atelier (workshop). I love what he says about minimalism... I often try to declutter and become more of a minimalist, but perhaps I need to embrace my organized chaos and keep collecting goodies that make me happy.

This bright room is wallpapered in images of Louboutin's atelier, which is filled with supplies, shoes, art, knickknacks, treasures procured when travelling, and even a couple trapeze bars!

Below is a selection of shoes from the "Handcrafted" wall - these are one-off designs made possible through innovative ideas, interesting materials, and artisan skills. I noticed there were opera glasses and magnifying glasses displayed with the shoes, but I didn't realize they were purposely placed there so you could better admire the details of the shoes. If you go to this exhibit, be sure to play around with the glasses! :)

(Ouambam, 1988 // Puck, AW2011-12)

The shoes below are made of dried salmon (left) and mackerel (right) skin!

(Au Saumon, 1986 // Maquereau, 1987)

(High Boubou, SS2013 // Rolls Royce, 2011)

(Cinderella, 2012)

This green topiary room was beyond eye-catching and each pedestal displayed a very pretty or interesting shoe! I love how this room contrasts with the dimly lit, red cast, Moulin Rouge feel of the rest of the exhibit.

Next, we wandered into the Life and Times Theatre and watched 3 short films - they were alright. I like that the exhibit ended with the biography room. After seeing the Louboutin's beautiful shoes, I think it's natural to want to learn more about the man behind the red soles.

Crazy long post, but we've finally reached the end! As mentioned, this marathon blog post only scratches the surface. My friend and I can literally go through most exhibits in 10 minutes flat, so we were both surprised that we spent over 2 hours at this exhibit... it's definitely a must-see.

The Christian Louboutin exhibition at the Design Exchange runs until September 15, 2013.

Note: All photos taken by me with the Canon G15 with minimal colour correction (to avoid altering the mood of the exhibit). This post is not sponsored.

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