Listen To This & Read That

Hey there lovelies!

Fall has finally hit Toronto in full force. The leaves are changing colour, the air is brisk and cool. My sundresses have been put away and replaced with sweaters, and pumpkins and halloween decorations are on every porch.

October (one of my favourite months) always comes around to give me a place to slow down and enjoy. Sure, it also marks the beginning of midterms and crazy stress, but somehow, in the midst of all that, there is some inherent soothing quality to fall. While tackling a pile of readings this Saturday night (lively I know), I made some tea, lit a candle and let the ambiance and the beautiful foliage outside, carry me through my work.

It was calming. Restorative in a sense, and everyone needs that once in a while, especially if another round of midterms are heading your way.

As the seasons change, my music taste generally changes with them. Fall is obviously no exception. My iTunes playlists shift from upbeat pop, to more subdued blues and indie tunes, melodies that mirror the changing colours and brisk winds of October. Today I thought I’d share some of my favourite autumn tunes with you, as well as a couple books I’ve read recently and really liked!

Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert

Written by the author of Eat, Pray, Love. this book was quite a treat. It was quite thought provoking and made me question a lot of habits I posses in relation to my own creativity, which is something I value deeply. If you’re a creative person (and Gilbert affirms that we all are), this enthralling read is perfect for you!

Paris To The Moon – Adam Gopnik

This book is essentially a compilation of articles written while Gopnik (an American writer) was living in Paris with his wife and young son. It is full of delightful accounts of living in, arguably, the most romantic city in Europe, and the trials or raising a child away from the world you were raised in yourself. My favourite parts of the book were always stories of Gopnik’s young son Luke, and the mischief he got up to in the Luxembourg Gardens.

My Autumn Playlist

  1. Noisy Sunday – Patrick Watson
  2. Turn Into The Noise – Patrick Watson
  3. Don’t Be a Fool – Shawn Mendes
  4. Ruin – Shawn Mendes
  5. Mercy – Shawn Mendes
  6. River – Leon Bridges
  7. I’m Not The Only One – Sam Smith
  8. If You Ever Want To Be In Love – James Bay
  9. Sound & Colour – Alabama Shakes
  10. Don’t Wanna Fight – Alabama Shakes
  11. Lua – Bright Eyes
  12. An Evening I Will Not Forget – Dermot Kennedy

So, I know this was a little bit of a random post…a weird little journey, but books and music have always been important to me and I cannot deny the power of good music in hard times (aka midterms).

If you (like me) are in the middle of a hellish stint of midterms, I just want you to remember to take care of yourself! Eat well, shower, exercise and take time for yourself during this crazy time. No exam is ever worth sacrificing your own wellbeing!

Hope you guys are all having an amazing week!

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A Life Update

Well hey there stranger! It’s been awhile since my last post over here on Pin & Daisy, but settling in to my school rhythm took a bit longer than expected and I figured that deserved priority! Because I’ve been away so long and haven’t really had a chance to take pictures for a legitimate post, today I’m just going to do a mini life update and a bit of a reflection on my first month back at school!

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We’re well in to October now and you know what that means. . .midterms! I’ve had four of them this week (ridiculous I know), and while it’s been pretty crazy, it’s also helped me reflect on how much I’ve changed as a person/student, since last year. I’ve found it so much easier to organize my studying/homework, and have created a set method to study for exams and tests (which has been a total lifesaver).

Other than crazy amounts of midterms, school has been awesome! I love all my classes, my profs are wonderful, and I’ve made so many new/awesome connections, so I’d call this semester a win so far! While I’m still not totally in the swing of things (still on vacation in my mind), everything is falling in to place as the days go by. Campus is also gorgeous in the fall, and I can’t wait until all the trees start turning beautiful shades of orange and red! Autumn is my favourite season, and I love being able to drink apple cider, eat fall treats and wear sweaters, scarves and jackets. It’s a pretty magical time.

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P.S. These lace up flats from Aldo are literally the comfiest things ever and go with EVERYTHING! Find a similar pair HERE.

This semester, I’m trying to make an effort to get more involved on campus. In first year I was totally preoccupied with figuring school and myself out, and kind of ignored extracurriculars. This fall I’ve joined a mental health awareness group (something I feel really strongly about) and am going to more events and activities put on by my college. Getting involved is hard (considering how many choices there are, and how big the school is), so I’m hoping it’ll get a bit easier as this year goes on!

On a more random note, I’ve also finally decided to bind a book of my own poetry! This idea is still in the beginning phases, but I’ll keep you more updated on that as it progresses.

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This adorable picture is from Bid Day back in September!

Back in September I also joined a sorority! Bet you didn’t know they had them in Canada! Surprisingly, many Canadian universities do have Greek life! The whole recruitment process is kind of crazy: picture a three day long interview with, seven different organizations, and you kind of get the picture. Even though it was pretty intimidating, the end result was so awesome, and I learned a lot about my self throughout the process. I ended up in an organization called Kappa Kappa Gamma, and honestly could not be happier. All my new sisters are such cool, caring, intelligent women, and I feel very lucky to be a part of our chapter.

I know what you’re thinking: “A sorority? Seriously? Those are for rich white girls we just want to party and feel better than everyone.” Sure, it makes sense. Our society has so many misconceptions about Greek life in general. Sorority women are portrayed as dumb and snotty in movies and on tv, so of course that must be how it is in real life…right?

Wrong.

There is so much more to sorority women, and greek life in general, and I’m going to take a stab at fighting some popular stereotypes:

(1) Stereotype: Sorority girls think academics are very low priority. Truth: Academics are our number one priority! In most cases, the all sorority average is higher than the campus average because we encourage each other to excel and push ourselves to higher academic standards. It’s also easier to study when you always have a friend to go to the library with you (no matter what you’re studying)!

(2) Stereotype: All you do is party and drink! Truth: Not everything is about partying/drinking. In fact, we aren’t even allowed alcohol on our property or in the house! All sororities strive to uphold philanthropy, academic excellence and sisterhood above all else. While many girls do drink at other events, nobody will force you to do anything you’re uncomfortable with, and most of our time spent together is filled with crafting, eating and just hanging out.

(3) Stereotype: You’re all a bunch of stuck up rich girls. Truth: We actually all come from totally different backgrounds, and try to give back to the community in many ways, and as often as we can, whether it be by holding charity events, volunteering at soup kitchens, or organizing book drives.

(4) Stereotype: You pay for all your friends. Truth: That’s ridiculous! You aren’t paying for friends, you’re just paying for the cool stuff you get to participate in, and the events and activities you plan and attend with your sisters! Like any other organization or sports team, there are fees to keep us running and doing all the wonderful things we do!

(5) Stereotype: You get hazed as a new member. Truth: Not true! All sororities are strictly against hazing! As a new member you’re integrated in to your chapter in meaningful and fun ways, not by being forced to do something you’re uncomfortable with. Your chapter wants you to feel loved and supported, not scared and attacked! Hazing allegations are taken very seriously, and chapters can be shut down because of it!

(6) Stereotype: Everyone is the same in a sorority: blonde, rich, dumb and snotty. Truth: Each chapter is home to a group of diverse, authentic, and lovely ladies! My Kappa sisters are all so cool and different from each other, and that’s what makes them all awesome! Everyone has different skills/strengths/passions, to bring to our chapter so we can all push and support each other to excel in all aspects.

There are probably a lot of other rumours I could address, but I figured those were the most pressing! It’s easy to get caught up in the things you hear in the news or watch in movies, but if your school has greek life and you aren’t sure about joining, I highly recommend it, you just might find your new home away from home!

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Well, I guess that’s all for now, but I will for sure be more regular with posting (I promise) because I’ve missed my blog this month!! Hope you’re all enjoying a lovely day (the weather here is phenomenal).

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Feel Good Tunes

So school officially started today and my first class (sadly) is statistics. I’m generally a math person, but for some reason, the very thought of statistics strikes fear in to my little heart. It might be because of all the abstract concepts, or the fact that my lecture is three whole hours long, but either way, I’m more than a little nervous to start off this year!

When I woke up this morning, to get myself ready for my first day, I played some of the most upbeat and cheerful music I could think of. It really did wonders to pick up my mood, amazing what a little dancing or singing along to your favourite music can do when you’re in a low mood!

So, to all of us students who have some difficult and stressful days ahead of us, here are some feel good tunes that never fail to pick me up (and will hopefully do the same for you)!

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  1. Feel Again – OneRepublic (this one never gets old I swear)
  2. Wherever I Go – OneRepublic
  3. Future Looks Good – OneRepublic (clearly you can tell I love OneRepublic)
  4. Bailar – Deorro ft. Elvis Crespo
  5. Catch & Release – Matt Simons (Deepend Remix)
  6. The Greatest – Sia
  7. Side to Side – Ariana Grande
  8. Kids – MGMT
  9. Moves Like Jagger – Maroon 5
  10. On Top of the World – Imagine Dragons (P.S. This video is actually so good)
  11. This Girl – Kung’s and Cookin’ on 3 Burners
  12. Dog Days are Over – Florence + The Machine
  13. Budapest – George Ezra
  14. Hymn For The Weekend – Coldplay (love this collab with Beyonce)
  15. Adventure of a Lifetime – Coldplay

Those are some of my favourite feel good tunes, and I really hope they can lift your spirit like they did mine this morning! Never underestimate the power of some good music, it really does wonders!

Here’s to (finally) starting this new school year! I can’t wait to see what second year has in store!

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Back to the Grind I Guess

LANDSCAPES | PORTRAITS | BLACK & WHITE | PANORAMA

Well, I guess it’s finally happening, a new school year is upon us and while I’ve been looking forward to it for a while, it is a little bitter sweet. Summer vacation is now officially over for most, and the call of Professors and textbooks is all too familiar.

I won’t lie, I’m a little nervous for my second year of university! Things were pretty crazy in my first year and while it was totally awesome in the end, I don’t know what to expect going in to this year. Either way, I’m looking forward to more boundary stepping and comfort zone pushing this year, let’s make it a great one! However you feel about this next chapter in your life (if you’re nervous like me, don’t worry about it too much), I hope you face it with a smile, because you’ve totally got this!

It’s so odd, I remember moving in to my dorm last September. It was crazy, my first year! I could hardly believe it! I was so shy that I stayed in my room all day until my roommate finally moved in later that night, we’d met a few weeks earlier and she was the only person I knew in my residence. I’d never been away from my parents more than a week (wasn’t a camp kind of kid) and had no idea what to expect from living in a dorm. It was a crazy year, filled with ups, downs, and a couple of 360 loops, but I’m here now, a year later, and I’ve become an entirely different person.

I sat down a couple days ago to write this post and didn’t exactly know what I wanted to say. I’ve written a lot over the last month about advice, and what you can do to be successful academically in university, but no amount of articles or tips will prepare you for the crazy so many of you are about to embark on. Even if you’re not going in to first year, and instead are stepping in to high school or middle school for the first time, the feeling is much the same. Everything is different, and there are so many unknown unknown’s that it’s overwhelming.

I guess if there’s anything I really want to tell you, it’s good luck, and I know this is going to be an incredible year for you! I hope you are faced with neat challenges and that you step out of your comfort zone, even if it’s just a tiny bit. I hope you make new best friends, go on adventures and make awesome memories with them, and I hope you make time to take care of your mind and body, that you get enough sleep every night, drink enough water every day and exercise even though it sucks some times!

This year, I hope you take a great big step towards becoming the person you want to be. Join a random club, talk to the girl sitting alone in the cafeteria, and study hard. It probably won’t be all fun and games, but even when it gets tough, I’m sure you’ll be able to soldier through.

If you’re looking for more detailed advice, here are some posts I’ve written about school:

Good luck to all you guys in this new school year! You’re all going to kill it!

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Little Wonders Wednesday

Hey there!! I hope you’re enjoying the last day of August (what??) and are getting ready to head back to reality tomorrow (or in a few weeks for some).

Today’s post is my second segment of “Little Wonders Wednesday” and I’m excited to share some more awesome little things that bring me joy!

As I said in the first Little Wonders post, I think it’s so important to, in the midst of our busy lives, slow down every once in a while and think about all the things that we have been given, and everything we’ve worked hard for. Sometimes the smallest moments are the most important ones, and it’s easy to forget about them when you’re running around like a chicken without a head!

Little Wonder

Finishing a Notebook – As someone who hoards pretty notebooks and never really uses them, I always feel so much pride when I do finally finish one. Whether you use them as an agenda, journal or recipe book, there is no better feeling than filling up all the pages and being able to look back and read over what you’ve written.

Discovering Really Good Music on Youtube – Sometimes you have to dig really deep to find the good stuff on youtube, but every so often, you hit the jackpot and find your new favourite song or artist.

Finding What You Were Looking for. . .on Sale – There have been so many times where I’m on the hunt for an item of clothing or a book and finally give up waiting for it to go on sale. When I end up going to the store prepared to pay full price, it turns out that the sale is on, and I get exactly what I was looking for, but with a smaller price tag.

Butterflies Flying Around You – I always feel like a fairy princess when a butterfly or two keep circling me. It’s such a gentle feeling, and reminds me of my childhood, playing princess and making fairy gardens.

Bright Blue Cloudless Skies – There are few things better than looking up at a brilliantly blue sky without a single cloud in it. It seems to stretch on forever and makes you realize how vast and huge this lovely world of our is!

The Smell of Lilacs – We have a few lilac trees in our backyard and when they’re in bloom in the spring, nothing beats their gentle fragrance. Whether it’s walking in with my bike, or heading to the garage, I love getting a whiff of that gorgeous scent!

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Those are my Little Things for this month, and again, I hope you enjoyed this post and took a moment or two to think about the little things in life that give you pleasure!

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Back-To-School Wishlist

The official countdown has started, and school is less than a month away!

To say I’m excited for my second year of university is probably an understatement. After a hectic first year, I feel a lot better coming in to second, and am really looking forward to walking around my stunning campus and studying in my favourite library again (Knox College’s Caven Library — check it out on google if you’ve never heard of it), and joining some new clubs and campus communities! There are a lot of things that need to be done before school starts in September though, one of them, being a closet restock.

Before I left for our vacation, I did a huge clean out of my closet. It’s pretty tough for me to throw out or donate a lot of things (I get attached and sentimental) but I have to say, I was pretty ruthless this time around. Following the steps in this post from a few weeks ago, I made a list of a few things my wardrobe was missing and since then, have been on the lookout for those pieces in time for school! Here are a few of them!

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Shop the set HERE
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Shop the set HERE

Adidas superstar sneakers

Fine I’ll admit it, I’ve finally fallen into the Adidas band wagon. It’s taken long enough but I just can’t help myself! Superstar’s seem to be everywhere in the fashion world recently and are a great (and comfy) option for running errands, going to class or hanging out with friends. While they’re still a casual shoe, their classic shape and colours allow them to be easily mixed and matched and worn with everything from joggers, to your favourite boy friend jeans, or a t-shirt dress!

This past year my personal style has definitely evolved from a colourful, preppy inspired, to something more classic and subdued. These Adidas sneakers will be a great addition to my wardrobe and I won’t lie, sometimes I fall asleep dreaming up ways to wear them.

Typically they cost $99 and I haven’t quite figured out whether or not to buy them here in Portugal (where they’re more than $5 cheaper) or wait until I’m back in Canada to splurge…honestly I don’t think I’ll be able to wait until then.

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Shop the set HERE
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Shop the set HERE

Black & White Silk Cami’s

Much to my mother’s annoyance, I am obsessed with simple white and black blouses. If it’s flowy, in either of those colours, and made of lovely light fabric, I will most certainly be adding it to my closet. The thing with camisoles (and any basic blouse really), is that they’re the perfect layering piece. As my style has evolved, I’ve come in possession of more blazers and jackets, and my old wardrobe had few blouses that were light and simple enough to layer underneath them. These beauties are perfect for wearing under blazers with slacks, or half-tucked in to jean skirts.

These silk cami’s from Joe Fresh are beautiful quality and really simple. For real though, they’re the kind of blouse you can dress up or down just by changing what you wear over top of them, and best of all, they’re currently on sale! I’ll definitely be dropping in to pick up one in each colour once I’m back in the city.

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Shop the set HERE

Black Skinny Jeans

I have two pairs of these already, but they’re old enough that “black” isn’t really the right word to describe them….more like a dark, faded charcoal or something along those lines. Either way, black jeans (in whatever style is your favourite) are an essential part of any wardrobe. They’re slimming, go with literally everything, and are perfect for the winter months when we (ok me) tend to drop light colours and just go for black and grey.

My favourite Black skinnies are from H&M, and they’re snug, high waisted (to hold everything in place), and feel more like leggings than jeans, which is basically the dream. I’ll probably wait until this pair is totally out of commission before going out to search for a new pair because if I’m being honest, pants shopping is the worst sort of shopping.

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Shop the set HERE

Camel Overcoat

The camel overcoat is the winter equivalent of the forever classic trench coat. It goes with everything, keeps you warm and stylish, and adds tons of class to even your most casual looks. Last fall I bought a beautiful red over coat, and wore it basically every day. It was my favourite coat and even now I’m excited to get in to autumn so I can wear it again. However, while red is an awesome colour for a coat, it doesn’t exactly go with everything. A camel coloured overcoat goes with substantially more and is somehow, a bit more casual (if that makes sense).

My hunt for the perfect trench coat was a long and annoying one (I finally found one on sale this summer though), and I already know that my hunt for the perfect camel overcoat will be just as tiring. Knowing my luck, I’ll find one next May. My first stop for this hunt will be Value Village and all the awesome second hand stores in Toronto. Hopefully, something beautiful (and reasonably priced) will pop up. If not, the hunt will continue!

New Hunters

Nothing exciting here, just practicality. We didn’t have a lot of snow last winter, so I wore my hunters (with huge thick socks) every single day. As a result, the heel is practically non-existent, and the sole is a few months away from being full of holes.

Currently I have a pair that are the colour of worn denim, and if I end up getting a new pair, would probably opt for matte black, or something ridiculous like baby blue or yellow (I’m and all or nothing type of gal).

Lunch Bag

Because I’m commuting to school this year (yay for living at home!) I’m going to need to bring lots of snacks and food to fuel myself through long days (10am – 9pm a couple days a week). I love lunch bags, but I haven’t had one since high school and am determined to find one that’s fun, but a bit more adult-like and easy to carry around. I’ve found a couple interesting ones on Etsy, but have yet to find one I actually love. Until then a canvas book bag filled with goodies will have to do!

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Fall is one of my favourite seasons and I can’t wait to get back to Canada for it. I know I haven’t done a lot of outfit posts (make that zero) but once I’m back in Toronto, my best friend David will be taking my photos so I can actually start showcasing my favourite pieces and showing you how I end up styling all the stuff I keep talking about on this blog!

Hope you guys are having a fabulous day and are enjoying the weather!!

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P.S. I’ve been playing the song “Bailar” by Deorro ft. Elvis Crespo nonstop. It’s such, a fun song and I honestly can’t get enough of it!

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Beat The Summer Heat

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August is arguably one of the best and worst months of the year. It’s still summer (read: extremely hot) but the promise of fall is on the horizon. School hasn’t started for real, but back-to-school shopping is in full swing, and there is still enough time for adventuring and lazing around before going back to real life.

Here in Portugal it’s pretty darn hot (like 40 degrees celsius everyday) so going outside is often a total no-no! It does get sort of boring being cooped up all day because of the intense oven-like heat, but I’ve figured out a few fool proof ways to a) beat the heat, and b) beat the boredom! So, here are five things to do on (really) hot summer days.

Make Fancy Ice Cream

To many, ice cream looks like one of those things you need professional equipment to whip out, but my friends, that just isn’t true! Making your own delicious chocolate or pistachio ice cream (or whatever your little heart desires) is actually way easier than that! All you need is a cake pan, simple ingredients, and a freezer!

My friend Alex and I made some delicious mocha almond fudge ice cream back in June, and not only was it super easy, but it came out better than like, any ice cream I’ve had before!

If you get really excited with your homemade ice cream, why not set up a sundae station and invite your pals over for a fancy ice cream sundae party? Here are some great recipes to try (you might have trouble picking just one)!

Read A Good Book

In this age of Facebook and Instagram, books sometimes fly under the radar. Still, I don’t think anything is more satisfying than opening a new book and sitting in a comfy spot to read it.

Getting yourself lost in crazy adventures and romances is the perfect way to forget how disgustingly hot it is outside, and will give you a chance to relax and enjoy some coveted me time!

Here are some books I’ve worked through this summer if you need some inspiration!

Craft Something

I can’t lie, I’m obsessed with crafts. If I could live in Michaels, I probably would, but as it is now, I’ll have to settle with spending crazy amounts of money on beads and embroidery floss.

Crafting is the perfect thing to do on a hot summer day. You can do it with your best friend or with your mom and siblings, and not only is it fun to loose yourself in a project, but you’ll come out the other side with a totally brag worthy piece you made all yourself!

Here are a few projects I’m dying to try, the tough part is picking one to start with.

Write Letter To Your Friends

Nobody seems to send letters anymore and that sucks, because getting mail is among one of the most satisfying feelings ever!

Whenever I come to Portugal in the summer I make it a mission to write to as many of my friends as possible, and this year I ended up writing 13 letters! It was tough to write them all, but I was so excited to send them off and get a response!

Even if your friends haven’t gone away, or they live with you, it’s a fun idea to write a little letter and pop it in the mail to surprise them.

Pack a Picnic and Explore

Yes, going in to the heat was exactly what we were avoiding, but seriously, picnics are the best (even when it’s super hot). Pack up your favourite snacks and some treats, call up your Besties, and head to the park or the water (if you’re lucky enough to be near it)!

Picnics are a great way to pend quality time with your favourite people, and lets be honest, are great photo ops! Find some shade and relax in nature with good food and even better company!

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Those are some of my favourite ways to beat the heat, but what do you do when it’s just too hot?

Hope you’re all enjoying this gorgeous day!

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University Fashion: A Guide

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Last summer I did a lot of research on university. I read countless articles on dorm life, searched every corner of the internet for information about college fashion, and scrolled through Pinterest for hours, pinning outfit inspiration for the year. Clothes had always been important to me, and I wanted to know what the fashion expectations would be like in university as apposed to high school. While I found some really helpful articles, many of them catered to universities with a different atmosphere than my own, and as I went through my first year, I realized that much of what I had read, did not apply at my school.

Because I go to school in a big city, student’s are rarely seen walking around in their pjs or workout shorts and oversized t-shirts (unless their coming back from the gym). Some schools value comfort above all else, but I love the fact that being in an urban centre pushes people to dress up everyday of class (yes, even for exams)! Girls wear makeup, and carefully put together outfits everyday, and guys do the same. While it might seem exhausting to some, I appreciate being surrounded by people who look good and prioritize their appearance, even during stressful times of the year.

So, I’ve decided to start a little series on University Fashion from a big city school point of view, and my first topic is about making that jump from a high school wardrobe to a university one.

As a kid growing up, there was no better time for me than back-to-school. Sure it sounds odd, but it was the end of summer, new adventures were on the horizon, and my parents would take me shopping just for school supplies and clothing for the new year. While some of the excitement has washed away, back-to-school remains one of my favourite times of the year, and buying new things to prepare for it is something I (and probably most people) still do.

In high school, my style was quite different from what it is now. I was a fan of bright colours and belted dresses. Big colourful necklaces and bright patterns. As my first year progressed, my style changed drastically. Classes were busy, and when I wasn’t in a lecture, I found myself in the library or a lab. I still wanted to look put together, but no longer had the time (or energy) to create the more elaborate outfits I’d worn in high school. Moreover, I found I no longer identified with that type of clothing at all. So, without even realizing it, my personal style became more minimalistic and based on the principles of a capsule wardrobe.

For those of you who have never heard about a capsule wardrobe, I suggest you google it and read up, because it’s total gold! Essentially, the premise is to pair down your closet to a set number of items, all of which can be worn and styled together. While I am not yet ruthless enough to take my wardrobe down to the numbers suggested in some capsule wardrobes (ranging between 15-35 pieces of clothing), I’ve adopted some of the same principles and it has really affected the way I dress and see fashion.

Bellow, you’ll read about how I suggest transitioning your wardrobe from a high school student, to a sort-of-adult student, and I hope you take away and apply some of the techniques I use in your own closet!

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Clean Out Your Closet — The first step in transitioning your wardrobe from high school to university, is cleaning out your closet. This step might take a while, but if you dedicate an afternoon to the task and turn on some good music, I promise it’s really fun!

First off, take everything out of your closet, and I mean everything! Lay them out on your bed, in the living room or on the floor and take a minute to think about each piece. Separate them in to three piles: keep, donate, sell. If you haven’t worn it in a year, it doesn’t fit well, has holes you can’t fix, is the wrong colour, or is one of those impulse buys you made and never wore, out it goes! It’s really hard to be ruthless with your closet, but the more times you go through it (I typically do this four times a year, or more if I feel I need to) the easier it becomes to separate things you adore and wear over and over again, from those you don’t. Don’t be afraid to keep a few pieces you only wear for certain occasions. Wardrobes are made up of basics, but you also need some statement pieces to fill it out.

As you go through your closet take note (like physically write down) what styles you love, what colours you tend to buy and what shapes fit you best. This list will help you in the next phase of your closet makeover!

Know What Works — I’ve mentioned this in the step above, but we are all different shapes and sizes, so it’s incredibly important to know what suits you! A black body con dress might look awesome on one person and not so great on another. That doesn’t mean you’re what isn’t working, it just means you need to find your shape.

Knowing what works on your body is especially important when it comes to pants and dresses. If you have a pair of skinny jeans because they’re trendy but never wear them because they just don’t fit right, why keep them around? Invest in pieces and shapes that make you feel your best and are things you find yourself consistently reaching for. While it’s totally fine to experiment with different looks, it’s nice to have a basic you can fall back on.

Choose a Colour Pallet — A lot of you might find this step a little bit odd, but allow me to explain. It’s common knowledge that certain colours work on certain people while others don’t, and if you want to build a wardrobe where you can mix-and-match everything in your closet, it’s helpful if you stick with a general colour scheme. This will help you get the most out of your wardrobe, since everything can be worn together, so you’ll have a pretty large selection of possible outfits.

First, choose a few basic colours which you find yourself gravitating to again and again (mine are blue, black, white, and beige) and then choose a few colours for those statement pieces (mine change with the season, but tend to be pinks, red and canary yellow). Your colour pallet is not the end all be all of course. If you find certain things that deviate from your basics but are still styles are shapes that flatter you, don’t be afraid to add them to your closet. As I said before, while your wardrobe should mainly be filled with basics, you need statement pieces to round it out and tailor it to your personality!

Plan — Now that you know your shapes, styles and colours, you can go shopping and use these criteria to help you buy items that you’ll love to wear. Don’t go crazy with shopping right away though. Try out your new, smaller closet for a few weeks to see what works and what doesn’t. At the end of this trial period you might want to get rid of some other pieces, and you can make a more thoughtful list of the things you’d like to add or replace before heading out to do any major spending.

This is the point in your closet makeover where you can start planning your spending. You can choose items you’d like to splurge on (like a new purse or winter coat) or others that aren’t as necessary. This might seem like overkill, but as someone who is known to make a ton of impulse purchases, planning what I want to buy has been really helpful for me, and is a great way to make sure you’re staying in your budget.

Another plus is that you’re essentially making a wish list, so the next time your parent’s ask you what you want for Christmas or your birthday, you’ll actually have something concrete to give them!

Invest In Basics (but don’t go crazy) — We are but lowly university students, so this next step has to be taken with a grain of salt. Basics are so important. A fantastic pair of jeans, white blouses, and little black dresses are items that can be styled millions of ways and mixed and matched with most things in your closet.

So many posts I’ve read about wardrobe basics emphasize splurging on these items and making sure that they’re the best quality you can afford, but I’ll be honest with you, I don’t exactly think that’s realistic for students. University is expensive enough with crazy tuition and living costs. You don’t need to add expensive basics to your list. Once you’re settled in a paying job post-grad, it makes more sense to start investing in pieces from higher end brands, but until them, buying your basics from places like Forever 21, The Gap (my go to store for jeans) or Old Navy is more than ok.

If you’re using a spending plan like I mentioned above, splurging might be more feasible, but curating a wardrobe full of these higher end basics will take longer. It all has to do with your priorities and what you’re comfortable with at this point in your life!

My go to basics include: dark wash skinny jeans, light wash boyfriend jeans, white blouses, black blouses, a little black dress, a little white dress, motorcycle jacket, jean jacket, striped long sleeve top, trench coat, white button down, and a white t-shirt. Though my closet is significantly larger than this (I have a slight clothing obsession) these are the pieces I often build an outfit off of (and they’re all endlessly versatile)!

Be True to You — This is probably one of the more important points of this post, and at the same time, it might be one of the most difficult to implement. Trends come and go, but your personal sense of style is forever! It can be daunting, especially in a time in your life where you are constantly meeting new people and doing new things, to fully embrace the style that you feel the best in. There’s so much pressure from the media to look and dress a certain way and when our personal style doesn’t exactly line up with what we see in the magazines, it can be hard to stay confident and rock what you like.

If there’s anything I’ve learnt in my life, it’s that it really doesn’t matter what people think, and this is especially true when it comes to what you wear on a day to day basis! If you like a certain trend, rock it! But don’t feel you have to just because every celebrity is seen wearing the same thing. Be uniquely yourself (which is so much harder than it sounds) and I assure you, you’ll be rewarded!

Accessories Make All The Difference — Shoes, purses, jewelry, scarves, hats, and sunglasses. These are the things that can ultimately make (or break) an outfit. You can wear a simple jeans and t-shirt look and then style it four or five different ways just by switching up which accessories you use!

Call me a stereotype, but I can’t help myself, I LOVE shoes…and purses, and jewelry, and scarves, and hats, and sunglasses…but especially, shoes. There is so much potential in a good pair of shoes. They can dress up an outfit, or make it more casual. A spunky pair can add personality to the simplest of dresses, or take the edge off of something a little more risqué. Shoes, in short, are a fashionista’s secret weapon!

There are of course the basic shoes you should have in your closet, like sneakers, flats and pumps (I think I might have to make a post on this at some point), but I love shoes, because they provide a perfect opportunity to add a little je ne sais quoi to a look. They provide a perfect chance to be adventurous! So, while there are the obvious basics, I like to go for shoes that are a little different, shoes that are brightly coloured, or have fringes etc. These often serve as the statement piece in my outfit, and are so fun to play around with.

All this to say, that accessories (especially shoes for me) are your chance to play around. Don’t stick to just the basics here, go for things that you love, things that are quirky and a little different. This is what will mark your personality on an outfit and give you a chance to be creative and playful in your closet. Patterns are great for shoes, so are metallics and bright colours. They serve to add dimension to the basics we talked about above. Anyone can wear jeans and a t-shirt, but making jeans and a t-shirt interesting and fashionable, is all in the way you accessorize, and no-one accessorizes quite like you do!

Learn The Joy of Thrifting — Ah, thrifting, my favourite pass time. As a kid, my mother and I frequented Good Will and Value Village, on the hunt for unique pieces and good deals. We always found something, and to this day, thrift shopping is my favourite way to shop. It’s good for the environment, is usually better for your wallet, and the whole hunt for something spectacular is way too much fun!

Thrifting is sometimes seen as taboo in our consumer culture. Buying second hand clothes and accessories is often looked down on, people tend to want brand new items. I however, strongly believe that thrifting is the way to go. You often find really unique pieces (vintage sweaters or dresses) and your creative side gets a work out! As a student, thrifting is especially important because of our general lack of funds, and honestly, hunting through a second hand store is a great way to work off school anxiety.

Make Room For Business Wear — While it’s likely you won’t be working an office job until after post-grad, it’s important to start making room in your closet for versatile business wear pieces. You don’t have to go crazy here (a fancier white blouse, black pencil skirt and blazer will do just fine) but as job interviews and internships do come up, you’ll have to be able to dress the part!

Make sure that these pieces are easily integrated in to the rest of your wardrobe so that they aren’t just hanging in a corner of your closet waiting for Google to call you in for an interview. A blazer should pair just as easily with a t-shirt and jeans as it does with your blouse and slacks, and your pencil skirt should be able to do double time as a work place staple and dinner date statement!

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Essentially, when all this advice is taken together, your wardrobe should become smaller, but more versatile. You’ll be able to make more outfits out of less pieces, and because these pieces are all ones you love, you’ll look great no matter what. As a student, life gets crazy hectic, and sometimes picking out an outfit for the day is daunting because we don’t have the energy or time to thoughtfully put something together. If your wardrobe is only full of pieces you love, that work together, choosing a killer outfit takes no time at all, and you’ll feel comfortable in the styles and shapes you love.

Personally, my style has evolved to be more minimalistic and simple. I focus on adding personality through interesting shapes and accessories and tend to wear the same three or four colours every day. Someone else’s capsule-esque wardrobe might be entirely different, focusing on bright colours and patterns. Either way, if you love what you’re wearing, that’s all that matters!

So this post was incredibly long and detailed, almost like an essay about closets, but I enjoyed writing it so I hope you enjoyed reading it (and hopefully you learned something or got some ideas about how to work with your wardrobe).

It is so incredibly hot today in Portugal, but I hope you’re all enjoying your summer, and are having a lovely day!

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Toronto’s Best Cupcake

TORONTO'S

A few months ago, amidst finals stress and sleep deprived study sessions, my friend Alex and I decided we wanted to find Toronto’s best cupcake. We’d just been sorrily disappointed after eating some cupcakes from the Eaton Centre (they may look good, but the Urban Eatery cupcakes are a trap), and felt morally obligated to find a tasty treat worth eating.

Thus, the cupcake challenge was born!

We googled “best cupcakes in Toronto”, compiled a list of four bakeries (Bunners, Prairie Girl, Dlish, and Bobette & Belle), which seemed to appear on every blog post we pulled up, and made up a rating scale to judge each treat!

Our scale consisted of: Prettiness, moisture, frosting to cake ratio (if there is the right amount of frosting for the cake), balanced sweetness (between the frosting and cake), texture (for both frosting and cake), size, flavour overall, and value. Each item on the list was rated out of five, and then we tallied up all the points!

To help make our rating easier, we standardized the type of cupcake we would buy from each location, settling on a classic, chocolate cake with vanilla icing.

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Bunners

Firstly, excuse my (very) poor photography skills here. I didn’t realize that every single picture we took was blurry until after we ate the whole thing up!

Our first stop was Bunner’s on Dundas (there’s another location in Kensington Market)! This bake shop prides itself on gluten free and vegan products and is highly spoken of. Bunner’s didn’t offer a chocolate cupcake with vanilla icing, so we just got chocolate on chocolate.

Review — Firstly, we noticed that the store itself was not exactly welcoming. There was nowhere to sit (it was quite small) and though it was early in the morning, somehow it was quite dark inside. Their selection of cupcake flavours was quite small, and we were a little disappointed to see so few combinations. Atmosphere aside, the Bunner’s cupcake ($4.20) was very large and the icing was nicely piped. The cupcake itself was pretty moist, but the texture was off, it was very grainy and clumpy and the cake was very heavy. The icing also had a strange texture and didn’t sit well on the tongue. There was just the right amount of icing (which proved to be hard to find at the other cupcake locations) and while the icing was sweeter than we would’ve liked, it was balanced out well by the cake.

Overall, we were pretty disappointed with the texture and general flavour of the cupcake.

Prettiness — 2.5/5

Moisture — 3/5

Frosting to Cake Ratio — 5/5

Balanced Sweetness — 3/5

Texture — 2/5

Size — 5/5

Flavour Overall — 1/5

Value — 1.5/5

Total: 23/40

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Dlish

Dlish, a cute little bakery on Queen, was ranked Toronto’s Best Cupcake in 2014 and runner up this year! We ordered a chocolate cupcake with vanilla icing, but they boast a big selection of flavours.

Review — What really killed it for this cupcake (in our opinion) was the icing. The cake itself was pretty standard in texture, moisture and flavour, but the icing was way too sweet. Vanilla is usually a sugary flavour when it comes to icing, but this one was a bit over kill, and to make matters worse, it was grainy and didn’t taste all that authentic. The sprinkles on top were a great touch and they added a lot to the texture.

Overall, this was a pretty average cupcake, nothing all that special. We would’ve been happier had the icing been less sweet, but if you’re in the are, definitely check them out.

Prettiness — 2.5/5

Moisture — 3/5

Frosting to Cake Ratio — 3/5

Balanced Sweetness — 2/5

Texture — 4/5

Size — 2.5/5

Flavour Overall — 2.5/5

Value — 2.5/5

Total: 22/40

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Prairie Girl Bakery

Also excuse this poor photo. Lighting in the PATH is not ideal!

This gem is hidden under the heart of the financial district, in the PATH. It’s a little out of the way, but they have so many options it’s totally worth it! Again, we got a chocolate cupcake with vanilla icing.

Review — Let me start by raving about the cake from this place. It was airy, light, moist, everything you could want in a cake. Alex and I were barely able to speak we were so pleased. Sadly, the icing was the downfall of this cupcake as well. Not only was it too sweet and too thick, but it was barely vanilla at all! In fact we got a really strong cream cheese flavour (which is usually fine, but not when you’re expecting vanilla). Honestly, the unexpectedness of it threw us for a bit of a loop.

Prettiness — 3/5

Moisture — 5/5

Frosting to Cake Ratio — 2/5

Balanced Sweetness — 2.5/5

Texture — 5/5

Size — 5/5

Flavour Overall — 3/5

Value — 3.5/5

Total: 29/40

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Bobbette & Belle

This Leslieville gem is honestly one of the most adorable little bakeries I’ve ever been to! Alex and I were happily surprised by an inviting and stylish sitting area, and we’ve already made plans to go back just because it was so cute! The music was also on point if that’s your kind of thing! Once again, we got a standard chocolate cupcake with vanilla icing.

Lighting was also incredible at this location (as you can tell in this not terrible photo)!

Review — We had big hopes for this little cupcake. It was pretty (prime piping and sprinkle work), and it was from a really pretty place. Sadly, it was only average, and the frosting again, was it’s downfall. The icing was way too sweet, and I know I said that about the others, but somehow, this was the worst of them all. Had the cake been less sweet, it would’ve balanced out the icing, but alas, this was not the case.

Prettiness — 4/5

Moisture — 4/5

Frosting to Cake Ratio — 5/5

Balanced Sweetness — 2/5

Texture — 4/5

Size — 3.5/5

Flavour Overall — 2.5/5

Value — 2.5/5

Total: 27.5/40

A Note From Alex:

Someone once said “a cupcake can make even the worst day a little bit brighter”. Ok, that someone was me, but honestly a good cupcake – or any dessert for that matter – can help ease some of life’s problems. That’s why Lauren and I knew we had to go on a mission to find Toronto’s Best Cupcake!

Obviously, this can be kind of tough, especially since judging foods can be a pretty subjective sport. Some people like a cupcake with really sweet frosting, others only want a little bit of frosting; the list of preferences could really go on forever…That’s why we tried to stick with a set of criteria that we could use to rate them in an unbiased way (as you can tell we have this whole cupcake judging thing down to a science, we could get PhD’s at this point tbh).

As Lauren said, we went to four different bakeries and ate four cupcakes. One cupcake looked pretty but didn’t taste all that great, another was just average, the third had super amazing cake, and the fourth was sold from the cutest shop which definitely made up for the lacklustre cupcake. Oddly enough, at each bakery we found that the frosting was their downfall – I would label myself as a lover of all frostings so that was pretty disappointing to me.

All in all though, I got to tour around Toronto with some amazing company eating cupcakes all day so regardless of the outcome I had a super fun time!

Official Verdict: Toronto’s Best Cupcake? Yet to be found.

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While we were happy to have spent the day eating cupcakes and exploring our amazing city, Alex and I were a little bit disappointed after these treats failed to live up to our expectations. Of course none of them were terrible, but they all followed a similar downfall. Decent cake, and incredibly over sweet icing. As we walked home from Leslieville, something dawned on us! Why couldn’t we, try to make our own perfect cupcake? So, in the next instalment of The Cupcake Challenge, we’ll be taking you through our recipe for creating the best (or our best) cupcake!

I hope you enjoyed this segment, and if you’d like to see something similar but for other foods (like pizza, hamburgers or ice cream) don’t hesitate to sound off in the comments!

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Carry On Essentials

 

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Deciding what to use as a carry on and what to pack in it, is probably one of life’s greater challenges (#FirstWorldProblems). However, having travelled a great deal with my family I like to think I have carry on packing down to a science. Here are my carry on essentials, and some bagspiration if you’re still searching for “the one”.

As for my own carry on: last fall I got (thank you mom and dad) a beautiful Roots leather backpack, and since then, it’s been my go to travel bag (check it out HERE)! While the bag is a major investment, the quality and timeless shape will serve you for years and years (school bag to diaper bag?) and it honestly looks good with everything.

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A Good Book – A good book will keep boredom at bay if your flight is annoyingly long. I always bring a few so I can read on the plane, during my vacation, and on the way home! Currently Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, and How The Mind Works by Steven Pinker are my carry on reads!

Laptop – In this day and age, bringing laptops on vacation is a no brainer. Whether you use it to get some work done in-between sight seeing, or for movies too and from your destination, it’s a useful extra. If you’re going on a shorter trip, consider excluding this from your packing list, but if not, make sure you put it in a case to stay protected.

Camera – A camera is an obvious companion for any trip and keeping it in your carry on ensures safety and easy access for those moments of inspiration.

Water – While airports don’t let you bring your own water in, be sure to buy a water bottle near your gate, or bring one to fill up! Staying hydrated is so important on long flights which often leave your skin dry and irritated.

Personal Hygiene Stuff & Hair Ties – This stuff is all a no brainer. Hair ties keep your hair up and away from your face, and lip balms, mascara, deoderant, etc. are great for applying post 8 hour flight so you can start your trip with a fresh face and confidence!

Wallet & Passport – These are important for obvious reasons and if you forget one or the other, well my friend, you’ve made a serious boo-boo.

Phone & Headphones – Whether or not I’m actually using my phone on vacation, I like to bring it along to listen to music and to connect to free wifi whenever it’s available!

Journal & Pencil Case – Journaling is another great pastime for a long flight, and is something I’ve begun doing more often this year. Documenting your journey by writing is a great way to stay creative, and is something you can look back on years later!

Thick Socks – Trust me on this one. It gets cold up there in the sky and I do not like having cold feet. A pair of fuzzy socks are the perfect thing to pull on while cruising to your destination, so you can catch some shut eye instead of focusing on how cold your little toes are!

Sunglasses – These babies are mandatory. Not only will they be useful for the rest of your trip, but after an 8 hour night flight, sunnies are my best friend. They hide the gigantic circles under my eyes until I can wash my face, and make me look more chic and put together, and less tired.

Neck Support or Stuffies – Yes I am an adult, and yes I do still travel with my stuffed animals. Honestly, it’s more of a comfort thing than anything else, but it’s always nice to bring a piece of my home with me. They also make for pretty good pillows if necessary.

Something Comfy – I always make sure to bring an extra sweater or big blanket scarf (no matter the temperature of our destination) because, as I said before, it gets chilly up there in the sky!

Gum – It’s good for keeping bad breath at bay and for stopping that annoying ear popping feeling during landing, so make sure to bring a pack (or two) with you.

If you noticed, I didn’t add snacks simply because airports are weird about letting outside food in (better to be safe than sorry) and while things past the security section can be expensive, it’s a great idea to eat something before heading to the airport at all. Whether it’s a light snack or a full meal, you’ll feel ready to take on all the annoying things airports can throw at you!

If you’re still looking for the perfect carry on for all your adventures, here are some great bags that fit the bill!

  1. Longchamp (these bags are amazing and black is the perfect neutral)
  2. Bando’s Everything Tote (pink and metallic. Need I say more?)
  3. Band0’s Getaway Duffle (love the adorable floral print on this one)
  4. Kate Spade Tote (perfect if you’re travelling for business)
  5. Madewell Transport Tote (this bag is absolute perfection)
  6. Madewell Transport Crossbody (perfection with an extendable strap)

There you have it, everything you’ll need to rock that long plane ride and arrive in your destination ready to go!

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