IKEA Billy Bookcase: 29 heels, 9 flats, 13 sandals, 4 ankle boots, 5 tall boots & 4 sneakers in 2.5 square feet of floor space!

How to use the IKEA Billy Bookcase for shoe storage!

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When people say they have a “shoe problem”, it usually means they buy too many shoes. As a shoe addict in total denial, my shoe problem is how to store what I’ve accumulated so that everything is visible, easily accessible and neatly organized… all while taking up as little space as possible!

While I would loooove shelves upon shelves of neatly displayed shoes like Carrie Bradshaw’s closet in the movie Sex and the City, function and practicality are my main concern. I consider myself to be more of a shoe-addict-in-denial, rather than full blown shoe addict because when it comes down to it, shoes are not my weakness. I am more of an overall or general beauty/fashion junkie, and any space taken up by additional shoe racks only means a bigger problem storing everything else…

Shoe Storage Polaroid

I was previously using 2 extendable shoe racks stacked one on top of another. My heels and sneakers were on the shelves, half my boots were along the top shelf, the remaining boots were lined up next to the wall and I also had a bin off to the side containing my flip-flops & flat sandals.

For those of you ladies who wear high heels on a regular basis (+3 in.), I’m sure you understand my frustration with the standard shoe racks that use 2 bars in place of a shelf. While they do hold everything in place, taking heels in and out can be somewhat of a nightmare—the tall heels often hang down too low, touching and getting hooked onto the shoe that you are trying to pull out or put back. The result: a messy shoe rack with some shoes half hanging, some that tumbled down to the shelf below and a lot of shoes perpetually strewn at the base of the shelf. So maybe it’s not a complete nightmare (read: first world problem), but I knew there had to be a better solution.

Here’s how I crammed neatly organized 29 pairs of high heels, 9 pairs of flat shoes, 13 pairs of sandals, 4 pairs of ankle boots, 5 pairs of knee-high boots and 4 sneakers into 2.5ft2 of floor space…with room to grow!

(There are also 4 more pairs of random over-the-knee boots, Ugg boots and rain boots somewhere to the right, but for the sake of this post, let’s just pretend they don’t exist. I don’t think I can fit much more onto this one shelf, but if you think of a way to do it leave a comment below! I’d love to hear it!)

shoe storage overview

HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL NEED

  1. Ikea Billy Bookcase ($69.99 CDN)
  2. Ikea Billy Extra Shelves ($10.00 CDN each) – I used a total of 3 extra shelves
  3. Screwdriver + Hammer (as per the Billy Bookcase instructions)
  4. Power Drill

**If you aren’t quite as comfortable as I am with power tools, feel free to replace 3 & 4 with your dad, boyfriend, super nice guy friend or very handy girlfriend!

Billy Bookcase Materials

SOME CONSIDERATIONS:

The best part of this project is that you can change it and switch it up according to your own shoe collection. Feel free to make use of the predrilled holes and use only what comes in the Ikea box, or purchase additional shelves and take a power drill to the bookcase to make the shelf levels completely customizable.

Before you start, you should decide if you want to build something that is more of a shoe display case (i.e. something that nicer and neater but doesn’t hold as much per bookcase) or if you are looking for a more practical shoe storage solution (i.e. more shelves and more shoes per shelf). Your decision should take into consideration how extensive your shoe collection is and how much floor space you have to work with. Whatever you want to achieve will determine how best to install the shelves and organize your shoes.

TIPS:

Arrange first by style / type of shoe

This will make the most efficient use of shelf height. I determined the height of the shelves by measuring it against the tallest pair of each style. If you have more than one shelf per style, make sure that all of those shelves are the same height, and try to start new styles of shoes on different shelves so that the excess space can be used for any future purchases.

♥ Then arrange by colour

Arranging by colour is the most aesthetically appealing because it gives a greater illusion of order and organization, especially if you are tight on space. To keep things simple, I went lightest to darkest with neutrals, with some variation near the end for coloured/multicoloured shoes.

♥ Determine how best to arrange the shoes on each shelf

Shoe Shelves

  • 4 Pairs Per Shelf: Display 4 pairs of shoes per shelf facing forward.
  • 5 Pairs Per Shelf: Alternate the direction in which you face shoes to compress each pair’s width. Fitting 5 pairs per shelf will allow a little buffer between pairs so that taking something from the shelf does not disturb the shoes next to it.
  • 6 Pairs Per Shelf: (This was the option that worked best for my shoes) I alternated the direction of my shoes, but pulled the front facing shoe as far forward as possible while pushing the back facing shoe as far back as possible. This further compressed each pair’s width allowing me to fit one more pair per shelf, but removed the extra space between pairs. Removing or returning a pair does disturb the shoes next to it, but not by much and not inconveniently so.
  • 7 Pairs Per Shelf: Alternate the directions of the shoes again, but first put in all the back facing shoes at a diagonal, then put all the front facing shoes in facing forward. Although this method makes the most efficient use of shelf space, I opted not to organize my shoes this way because I found removing and returning shoes to be too inconvenient. I think that there are also too many shoes crammed onto each shelf, making it difficult to remove or return shoes quickly and neatly.
  • Flats + Sandals: If you have few pairs of flats & sandals, I recommend stacking them one on top of another with pairs side by side so that removing one pair doesn’t jostle the ones next to it (as I did with my shelf of flats). If you have many pairs of flats & sandals, I recommend laying them on their side with the toes facing opposite directions and soles facing outwards (as I did with my sandals & flip flops). This allows you to compress the space further if you purchase more shoes, and keeping the soles facing outwards prevents them from dirtying one another while also preventing the straps from getting tangled when taking them off the shelf.

Note: I recommend that you spread your shoes out as much as you can at first, then cram them in a little at a time and reorganize/compress as you buy additional pairs.

Keep a shoe mat nearby

Wipe them at the door, but it doesn’t hurt to keep one nearby to wipe shoes before putting them back onto the white shelves. Buy a nice one that matches your décor or do what I did and grab one for $1 at Ikea—it’s very plain, but it can be put away when company comes over and is easily replaced after each rainy/snowy season.

SOME ALTERNATE IDEAS:

♥ If you wear sneakers more often than I do, place one low shelf along the bottom and store sneakers below your boots rather than along the top.

♥ Arrange your shelves so the shortest ones (for flats) are at the top, and the tallest ones (for boots) are at the bottom. Although this will make things look more orderly, consider that it may be less practical to have to reach higher for flats and sandals.

♥ Hide or conceal your bookcase using the accompanying glass doors from Ikea. If you are planning to close off your bookcase, make sure to air out your shoes every once in a while.

♥ If you are creating a display case:

  • Tilt the shelves forward by placing the back pegs one peg hole higher than those in the front to give a better view of the shoe.
  • Replace all regular shelves with the frosted glass shelves from Ikea (same price, $10 each). If you do this, please note that the middle shelf is fixed and will have to remain white.
  • Consider installing lighting to illuminate your display case

Would you organize your shoes this way? What other space-saving solutions have you come up with to store your shoe collection?

With love,
Veronique♥

[Disclosure: I purchased these items on my own and did not receive any compensation for this post. These are my opinions and are in no way indicative of the positions or opinions of the companies mentioned. Thanks for your support! ♥]

A Love Affair x Body Shop Body Butters

Since I was a kid, I’ve had an on-again/off-again love affair with The Body Shop.  The love part being that their products smell yummy enough to eat—at 13, I jokingly convinced my friend that their mango body butter was edible (he was not impressed haha).  The hate part stemming from the fact that paying $20 per tub seems outrageous to a 13-year-old, and also because I shifted away from wanting to smell like a fruit and began to prefer more complex fragrances.

In my last post, I debated the merits of switching over to all natural beauty products.  While fully making the switch is not for me, I think that it is important to incorporate more all natural (or at least naturally based products) into my routine, as long as there is no sacrifice in effectiveness.  Lucky for me, I came to that conclusion the same day that I walked by a huge sale at The Body Shop!

Body Shop Love Affair

Out of sheer curiosity, I slathered a bit of mango body butter on the back of my hand and was instantly sold.  It has a light, clean scent that is very natural and quite different from the artificial and overly sweet fruit scents often found in other products.  The body butter is a rich, heavy cream that absorbs nicely, feels incredibly luxurious and most importantly, is not as greasy as I originally remembered it being.  The Body Shop apparently changed their formula in the years that I deigned to enter their stores, and now that I think of it, I remember their original formula as being more of a translucent, regular yellow salve as opposed to the current opaque, pale yellow cream.  While I’m sure some people hate the change, I personally adore the new, less greasy formula.

Suffering from perpetually dry skin, you should know that I take an obsession with moisturizing to a whole new level.  Not only does slathering on a good moisturizer have to happen immediately after stepping out of the shower, but the last thing I do before going to bed is lotion my hands and feet.  I’ve gone as far as using very moisturizing but horribly inconvenient products such as Vaseline Petroleum Jelly (so difficult to spread!) and even virgin coconut oil (so greasy!) all over.  As weird as this may sound, I’m kind of a lotion snob, which makes it all the more surprising that I’m so impressed with this body butter.  The scents are delicious and long lasting, but are never overpowering.  Although these body butters are not dirt cheap, they don’t break the bank either (Laura Mercier Soufflé Body Crème, I’m looking at you!).  Most importantly , they are one of the few products I’ve found that doesn’t leave oil stains everywhere and isn’t impossible to apply, while still managing to give me noticeably softer and suppler skin.

Body Shop Body Butter Haul

Here are the goodies that I walked out of the sale with… (and yes, there is probably enough body butter here to moisturize a small family for a year!)

Mango Body Butter

Mango Body Butter (Large Size) – I was looking for a fresh scent to use over the summer and this was my favourite of all the fruity ones.  The mango body butter captures the smell of a fresh mango without being artificial or overly sweet.  The scent is very noticeable at first, but not overpoweringly so, and is more fragrant when applied than it is in the tub.  Although it fades slightly throughout the day, it definitely lasts longer than many other body butters I’ve tried.  It’s a simple and sweet scent that can play well with other fragrances if you wish to layer it with another perfume or body spray.

Shea Body Butter

Shea Body Butter (Large Size) – The sale was just too good that I couldn’t resist getting another big one.  On sale for $15 each, both this and the mango were double the size, but $5 cheaper than the regular body butter tubs.  My workplace is “scent-safe” (we aren’t allowed to wear scented products to protect those with fragrance allergies), and this one seemed the least offensive while still managing to smell delicious.  It’s a very warm scent with some milder floral notes that will be lovely to use once summer is over and I either retire or finish my mango butter.  Shea butter is known for its cell regeneration and healing properties as well as the moisturizing and calming effect it has on skin.  This body butter formula features community trade shea butter and is thicker and less wet (more along the lines of a salve) than its mango counterpart.  Despite the product’s stiffer texture, it’s still as easy to apply and quickly absorbs into your skin without leaving behind a greasy residue.

Macadamia Duo Body Butter

Macadamia Body Butter Duo – I love the ying yang swirl packaging and the way the tub is sectioned off into product for normal or dry skin areas.  To be frank, I wasn’t too sold on this one because the dry skin butter was a little too thick—even thicker than that of the shea body butter—but since it was on sale for only $5, I couldn’t resist.  Upon using it, however, I was pleased to find that it spreads and absorbs surprisingly easy with little to no greasy residue (macadamia nut oil is touted for not being too greasy).  The regular sized tub will be perfect to keep on my desk at work and once I finish it up, the split container will be great for taking longer trips as I often like to swap out scents according to my mood.  Some customers have commented that the corners of the ying yang container make it difficult to get the last bit of product out and also that the ratio of product should have been more along the lines of 75% body butter and 25% salve.  Neither of these issues bothers me too much since I don’t mind using a knife to get into the corners, and i’m more likely to use one side all over depending on the weather outside rather than each side for specific dry/normal body parts.  The scent is creamy and natural without being too earthy or  musky, and is probably the mildest of all the scents I purchased.

Sweet Lemon Body Butter

Sweet Lemon Body Butter (Travel Size) – I’m not usually a fan of citrus scents, but this one pulls it off quite nicely.  Rather than being overly tart, I find that it is nicely balanced and more along the lines of a sweet and creamy lemon scent.  This is probably my least favourite of the body butter scents, but it was the only travel sized scent on sale.  The container is the perfect size for carrying around with you or for weekend trips away, and the bright yellow makes it very easy to spot at the bottom of your handbag!

So would I recommend these?  Absolutely!  I can’t seem to get enough of these body butters because they smell delicious, are easily applied and absorbed, and most importantly, they work better than any product I’ve come across in a while!  I adore that they are a more natural—although not completely natural—beauty product, which works perfectly with my new goal of trying to incorporate more of these types of products into my routine.  I won’t make any promises that The Body Shop body butters are the only ones I’ll use from now on as the scent range is quite limited, but this is a fantastic product that will be a staple in this lotion addict’s beauty cupboard.

What is your favourite Body Shop Body Butter scent?  What do you think about the new formula? Love it? Hate it? 

With Love,
Veronique♥

 

[Disclosure:  I purchased these items on my own and did not receive any compensation for this post.  These are my opinions and are in no way indicative of the positions or opinions of the companies mentioned.  Thanks for your support! ♥]

All Natural Beauty x Is it worth the switch?

all natural

For one reason or another, I’ve never seen much appeal in using all natural beauty products.  I love experimenting with this and that, but what matters most is whether or not I see results.  If I love a product that just so happens to be all natural, then that’s FANTASTIC, but I’ve never sought them out specifically for that reason.

In my experience, I’ve found that natural products are often more expensive, have a shorter shelf life (they often lack preservatives) and rarely result in dramatic improvements performance-wise when compared to their regular counterparts.  Between mashing an avocado to use as a hair mask or using an avocado based deep conditioner that has been specifically formulated to penetrate your hair shaft, I’ll take the more effective—albeit less natural—one every time.  While the reasoning behind switching to all natural products makes complete sense from a health perspective, I’ve always figured that it probably isn’t that worth it if I’m still willing to chow down on a McDonalds burger.

Avocado Hair Mask

Re-examining the Benefits

In a recent attempt to find a miracle cure for the bags luggage that has made a permanent home under my eyes, a little digging revealed that they might be excess fatty tissue.  While fat in the eye area is normal and helps to support the eye, the puffiness of my eye bags seemed excessive.  Regardless of how much sleep I get or how long I place cold compresses on them, they never fully go away (especially when I smile)!

I came across a few articles that indicated that the fat in this area—as well as the stubborn exercise/diet-resistant fat everywhere else—may be so difficult to shed because of the chemicals we consume daily and… wait for it… the “nasties” that are being absorbed into our skin through beauty products!  That got my attention.

These nasties, as they referred to in the beauty industry, are supposedly also to blame for a lot of the skin ailments people are experiencing nowadays.  While the extent of that particular statement may be questionable, the David Suzuki Foundation took a look at the “Dirty Dozen“—a list of the 12 most often used chemicals in cosmetics and their effects when absorbed into our body.  According to the article, almost 80% of products contain one of these dozen toxic chemicals, which can include carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, hormone disruptors, plasticizers, degreasers and surfactants.   Okay, so that got a little too depressing a little too fast (I actually had to stop reading articles because it made me want to purge every less than organic product I owned) but it did shed a new whole light on my natural vs. not natural product dilemma.

I have come to the conclusion that for me personally, it IS important to make a more conscious effort to use natural products regardless of the extra cost—but NOT at the expense of seeing results.  The good news is that although natural beauty products aren’t new, the resurgence of their popularity means that cosmetic companies have been forced to step up their game and create all natural products that are better and more effective than ever before.  There are also a few product lines that I’m also very interested in exploring further such as Ren Skin Care (found in Sephora), Michael Todd True Organics (bloggers have been raving about this), and of course, the always creative Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics.

michael todd

Here are a few quick tips for purchasing natural beauty products:

♥ Be diligent about reading reviews!

The trend towards greener cosmetics means that a lot of new products that have come out aren’t tried, tested and true.  This should go unsaid, but I want to emphasize the importance on doing a little digging on new products to find out if they really work, if they smell funny, expire quickly, etc.  Avoid making the same mistakes as other consumers by reading up on what they have to say about each product.  A quick Google search of “[product] review” is all you need.

♥ Be aware of GREENWASHING!

If you’re going to go all natural then it’s important to do your homework because cosmetic companies have been heavily accused of greenwashing (claiming to be more natural or organic than they really are)!  If you’re simply working more all natural or naturally based products into your routine, then this step isn’t as critical, but is still something you should be aware of, especially if it’s the “natural” aspect that you’re paying premium prices for.

♥ Swap out when possible

Swapping products out is easiest with those where results aren’t as important—for example, swap out your heavily fragranced Bath and Body Works shower gel for a more natural one from The Body Shop.  Also, try to swap out some of the products that are the worst for you, like shampoos containing sulfates (sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) or sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES)).  I’ve used both of L’Oreal’s sulfate-free EverPure and EverCreme lines, which are easily found in drugstores and grew in popularity during the Brazilian Keratin Treatment trend as the sulfates in ordinary shampoos washed away the treatment’s smoothing effects.

♥ Purchase in smaller quantities + refrigerate when possible

This rule mostly refers to Lush products, because although I absolutely adore many of their items, I’m often put off by the extremely short shelf life (resulting from the lack of preservatives).  As a result, I always try to buy the smallest amount of product and keep items in the refrigerator whenever possible.  A week or so before a product’s expiration date, I separate the products into single uses and stick everything into the freezer, taking out only what I need for a week at a time.  I’ve heard that this is not recommended by the staff, but personally, I’d rather use the rest of the product up with lower expectations than toss something away that could still have some potential benefit.  I’m also more likely to keep purchasing from the store if I actually use up their products, rather than consider shopping there to be a waste of money by throwing half away each time.

Note: Whether or not you should freeze items will vary from product to product (e.g., freeze a face scrub or a cleanser but not the fresh face masks since freezing will kill the enzymes in certain ingredients)

lush-cosmetics-office

So even if going all natural isn’t for you, try working a few more natural products into your routine—it’s definitely not an all or nothing thing as I had previously thought.  There’s absolutely no harm in doing so, with a world of benefits to be gained if you’re able to find some good ones.  Don’t discount beauty products or makeup for being less effective just because they’re all natural.  There has been a dramatic increase in the quality and effectiveness of natural products in response to the growing market for this trend!

What are some natural beauty products that you have fallen in love with?  Are there any that you’ve tried that are absolutely terrible?  Share your recommendations below!

With Love,
Veronique♥

 

[Disclosure:  I purchased these items on my own and did not receive any compensation for this post.  These are my opinions and are in no way indicative of the positions or opinions of the companies mentioned.  Thanks for your support! ♥]

Book Candy x Crazy Rich Asians + Revenge Wears Prada

For a while now I’ve been on the hunt for another good book, but nothing has jumped out at me as of late.  My threshold for sad things is usually maxed out with movies and TV (I actually cried after the Game of Thrones “the Red Wedding” episode!!), so I tend to gravitate towards books that are lighter and happier in nature.  Sadly, I think I’ve finally hit the point where I’ve finished all the must-read chick-lit focused on the younger set and a lot of the genre’s recent offerings sound terribly bland. 

 
I walked into Chapters today for another quick lunch-break browse and walked out feeling like it was Christmas in July (or in this case June)!  I found not one, but two books that screamed “READ ME!”, which is great news for the quilted, black Kobo that has been relegated to the bottom of my nightstand drawer. 
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I grabbed the first book off the shelf solely for the glittery gold cover and shocking pink title—“CRAZY RICH ASIANS” by Kevin Kwan.  Even if you weren’t interested in reading it, the book cover is so great that it would be worth purchasing, if only to display on a bookshelf or side table (seriously, it’s fabulous and the picture simply doesn’t do it justice!).  Here are a little about it from the publisher and a few reviews I came across:
 
Crazy Rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season.
 
“Crazy Rich Asians is an unputdownably funny, original, modern novel. An outrageous satire of the Asian squillionaire set, this book is like a Chinese Dallas meets Pride and Prejudice. The combination of gold homewares, couture, private jets, absurd social rules and snobbery is utterly hilarious. I actually couldn’t put this book down to eat or to watch Downtown Abbey.”
—Plum Sykes, bestselling author of Bergdorf Blondes
 
“Crazy Rich Asians is like Dynasty on steroids with more private jets, bigger houses, and a lot more money. It is the very definition of a beach read. I finished it over a weekend and by the end was longing to see the ridiculously extravagant and over-the-top world that Mr. Kwan had created…. I predict this will be the 50 Shades of Grey of this summer.”
—Michael Carl, VanityFair.com
 
Yes, the title and cover art are what piqued my interest (the book could have seriously been about anything!), but a peek inside to discover that it was a tongue-in-cheek story about the outrageous and über-wealthy Asian set had me completely and 100% sold.  And yes, these people really do exist!  Think of whatever you consider to be wealthy and multiply it by a billion à la Rich Kids of Instagram—where one learns to drive on a Phantom and buys 6 Birkins because it’s a Tuesday. 
 
Having grown up in North America, I can relate to the culture shock of travelling back to Asia for vacations.  While the endless gossip, the obsession with family and reputation and the nonchalant manner in which they publicly point out that you’ve gained weight (despite the fact that you are only a size 2) seem almost normal to me now, I can’t wait to see Kwan’s take on the whole situation.  The current Good Reads rating (think of it as IMDB for books), shows an average of 3.88/5 (from 168 ratings) which is very promising, and I tend to trust these types of websites more than I do the never less-than-raving reviews printed on the book cover or website. 
 
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The second book needs much less of an introduction.  The second I saw it on the shelf, my eyes widened and I grabbed it in the MINE MINE MINE kind of way that is usually reserved only for sample sales.  The man to my left in a helmet and bicycle shorts definitely looked perplexed, but I didn’t care because in my hands was the much-anticipated sequel to Lauren Weisberger’s the Devil Wears PradaRevenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns.  I absolutely loved the first book and the movie starring Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway is still possibly my favourite movie of all time.  Admittedly, I did read the book eons before watching the movie, so it wasn’t spoiled by the usual disappointment of when a movie doesn’t quite live up to what your imagination has concocted.  Here’s a little bit about the book from the publisher:      
 
Almost a decade has passed since Andy Sachs quit the job “a million girls would die for” working for Miranda Priestly at Runway magazine-a dream that turned out to be a nightmare. Andy and Emily, her former nemesis and co-assistant, have since joined forces to start a highend bridal magazine. The Plunge has quickly become required reading for the young and stylish. Now they get to call all the shots: Andy writes and travels to her heart’s content; Emily plans parties and secures advertising like a seasoned pro. Even better, Andy has met the love of her life. Max Harrison, scion of a storied media family, is confident, successful, and drop-dead gorgeous. Their wedding will be splashed across all the society pages as their friends and family gather to toast the glowing couple. Andy Sachs is on top of the world. But karma’s a bitch. The morning of her wedding, Andy can’t shake the past. And when she discovers a secret letter with crushing implications, her wedding-day jitters turn to cold dread. Andy realizes that nothing-not her husband, nor her beloved career-is as it seems. She never suspected that her efforts to build a bright new life would lead her back to the darkness she barely escaped ten years ago-and directly into the path of the devil herself…
I was very disappointed to see that the current Good Reads rating was not nearly as complimentary for this book—it pulled in a measly 2.83/5 (from 731 ratings).  Nevertheless, this book will still remain on my reading list, since I liked some of Lauren Weisberger’s other novels and I loved the first one too much to completely ignore its sequel.  At least I can go into it with low expectations and the knowledge that this is nothing more than a fun read that I can always put down and come back to later on.  Plus, it would be nice to know what eventually happened to Andy Sachs, and maybe Hollywood will make magic happen and create a sequel that is way better than the book! (Yes? Maybe? Probably not, but oh well.  Fingers crossed!)
 
So, those are the two books that I’ll be reading next.  Yes, I know I’m such a geek but I’m so, so excited to sink my teeth into both of them!  I may also do a quick post once I finish to let you know what I thought. 
 
I’d love to hear what you have to say, so if you’ve read either of them let me know what you think!  Or if you have any other recommendations feel free to leave them below! 
 
 
With love,
Veronique ♥
 
 
P.S.  Here are some links, if you want to pick a copy up for yourself!
♥ Crazy, Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (released June 11, 2013) | Amazon or Chapters
♥ Revenge Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger (released June 04, 2013) | Amazon or Chapters (**Originally $29.99, the hardcover is currently on sale at Chapters for $16.99!)
 
 
 
[Disclaimer:  This is not a sponsored post.  These opinions are my own and are in no way indicative of the opinions or positions of any of the companies mentioned.]

What I'm Loving at the Moment x Soko – I'll Kill Her (Hannes Fischer Remix)

Who would have thought that bitter, cheated on ex-girlfriend could ever sound so chic?

I can’t seem to get enough of this song! It’s just so perfectly french and despite what it’s about, it makes you happy just listening to it.  This remix pulls off being catchy while still managing to be laid back and is one song that will definitely be on my playlist all summer!

With love,

Veronique♥

What I’m Loving at the Moment x Soko – I’ll Kill Her (Hannes Fischer Remix)

Who would have thought that bitter, cheated on ex-girlfriend could ever sound so chic?

I can’t seem to get enough of this song! It’s just so perfectly french and despite what it’s about, it makes you happy just listening to it.  This remix pulls off being catchy while still managing to be laid back and is one song that will definitely be on my playlist all summer!

With love,

Veronique♥

How to Refill Starbucks Verismo Pods / Capsules

How to refill Starbucks Verismo Pods / Capsules

 Whenever I make espresso, I use my Starbucks Verismo 585 machine.  I don’t really like drip coffee, so when I was deciding what pod/capsule coffee machine I wanted, it was important for me to get one that had the ability to make espresso.  I still wanted to be able to make drip coffee for my guests, but this machine is perfect for making me a quick americano each morning!
While I do appreciate the amount of time it saves me over using a standard espresso machine or stopping by the nearest coffee shop, the main drawback to these pod/capsule systems is that each serving is still quite expensive (a single shot will set you back about $1.00 CDN before tax).  Additionally, the Starbucks Verismo limits you to only Starbucks blends, and unless you take the time to take the used capsules apart and compost the grounds inside them, they’re an environmental disaster!
Check out my tutorial showing how I am able to refill my espresso capsules–save money, have more variety and be green!
With Love,
Veronique♥
Do you know how to refill the espresso pods for any other pod/capsule coffee machines? 
[Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.  These opinions are my own and are in no way indicative of the opinions or positions of any of the companies mentioned.]

Nigella Lawson Inspired Watermelon Salad

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Nothing reminds me of warm summer days more than fresh, juicy watermelon.  With watermelons back in season, I thought I would share with you my favourite summer salad inspired by Nigella Lawson’s watermelon, feta and black olive salad.  It’s super quick + easy to throw together, making it the perfect thing to pack for lunch, bring to a bbq or take with you on a lazy picnic — just pack the greens separately so they don’t wilt!
INGREDIENTS (all to taste)
♥ ripe watermelon, cubed
♥ spinach
♥ arugula
♥ feta cheese, crumbled or cubed
♥ crème de balsamic (I purchased mine at Urban Fare)
♥ pepper
I could seriously eat this every day + never get sick of it.  The flavours complement each other perfectly + the dish always looks so pretty when plated!
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Try it out and let me know what you think! Bon appétit!
With love,
Veronique♥
What are some of your favourite salads for the summer? Share them below!
[Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.  These opinions are my own and are in no way indicative of the opinions or positions of any of the companies mentioned.]

Hot Summer Read x Gameboard of the Gods

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title  x  Gameboard of the Gods (Age of X #1)
author  x  Richelle Mead
genre  x  Adult Fiction
release date  x  June 4, 2013 – TODAY!!

my thoughts  x  Gameboard of the Gods is one of those light summer reads I simply couldn’t put down!  The exciting first installment of the Age of X series by #1 New York Times & USA Today bestselling author Richelle Mead, this is the perfect book to toss into your beach bag or curl up with on a lazy day!

a little bit about the book  x  From Richelle Mead’s website:

“In a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists, Justin March lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of religious groups and supernatural claims. But Justin is given a second chance when Mae Koskinen comes to bring him back to the Republic of United North America (RUNA). Raised in an aristocratic caste, Mae is now a member of the military’s most elite and terrifying tier, a soldier with enhanced reflexes and skills.

When Justin and Mae are assigned to work together to solve a string of ritualistic murders, they soon realize that their discoveries have exposed them to terrible danger. As their investigation races forward, unknown enemies and powers greater than they can imagine are gathering in the shadows, ready to reclaim the world in which humans are merely game pieces on their board.

Gameboard of the Gods, the first installment of Richelle Mead’s Age of X series, will have all the elements that have made her YA Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series such mega successes: sexy, irresistible characters; romantic and mythological intrigue; and relentless action and suspense.”

my review  x  Gameboard of the Gods caught my attention because I loved Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series (despite the name, I thought they were less Twilight and more Harry Potter-type)—they were both so addicting in that guilty pleasure kind of way where you want to ignore everything else and read the entire thing from cover to cover.  Chick-lit and YA fiction are definitely some of my guilty pleasures and what I often refer to as “book candy”, but since I generally tend to find the whole dystopian society thing rather depressing, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from her new Age of X series.  However, in spite of my ambivalence towards the subject matter, Gameboard of the Gods did not disappoint and immediately left me wanting to know what happened next. 

I really liked how dynamic and complex both Justin and Mae’s characters were and thoroughly enjoyed the book’s unique take on ancient Greek gods and goddesses—a subject that I admittedly am very partial to.  It also contained all the signature elements—alluring characters and a gripping plot packed full of intrigue and suspense—that have made Richelle Mead’s other books so wildly popular.  Although it wasn’t my all-time favourite of her novels, I would definitely still recommend it to anyone looking for an exciting new read this summer because as soon as I picked it up, I had a hard time putting it down!  The only downside, since the book was only released to the public today, we probably have another year or so to wait before we can get our hands on the already much anticipated sequel!

my overall rating   4/5 stars

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price  x  $28.50 CAD from Chapters or $26.95 USD from Amazon
ISBN  x
  052595368X / 9780525953685 

With love,
Veronique ♥

p.s. For all you fellow Vancouverites, it was a nice little surprise to see that the book mostly takes place in Vancouver, the future capital of the Republic of the United North America!

What were your thoughts on Gameboard of the Gods?  How do you think it compared to some of Mead’s other novels?

[Disclaimer: An advance reader copy of this book was sent to me for an honest review.  These opinions are my own and are in no way indicative of the opinions of the authors or companies mentioned.] 

Cheap and Chic Ways to Entertain with Mason Jars!

From the whimsical snow globes in Anthropologie to cute glassware at rustic weddings and everything in between, innovative uses for the mason jar seem to be popping up left and right.
An affordable and ohsocharming decor trend, mason jars are the perfect way welcome in the summer!  I’ve compiled my Top 10 List x Cheap and Chic Ways to Entertain with Mason Jars (some of them may surprise you!):
10 | mason jar x drinking cups
Swapping out your regular glassware for cute mason jars is the easiest way to incorporate this trend + add a touch of personality to your party.  To keep this trend looking chic rather than cheap, try decorating glasses with coloured straws, vintage labels, ribbon or twine.
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9 | mason jar x party favors
Why not try mason jar party favours?  Your guests will adore taking home a unique sewing kit or a batch of pre-measured cookie mix.  For the sewing kit, add padding + fabric to the lid to make an instant pin cushion—hot glue the fabric underneath leaving space around the edge of the rim.  If opting for the cookie mix, don’t forget to include instructions on how to bake the cookies.
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8 | mason jar x vases and terrariums
Skip regular vases and use multiple mason jars to display fresh flowers.  Take it a step further and try mason jar herb gardens or terrariums!
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7 | mason jar x serving options
Mason jars are excellent for setting out straws or separating cutlery for your guests to take.  They are also perfect for serving accompaniments and look even better with the attachment of a simple tag labelling the type of sauce, dressing or dip.
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6 | mason jar x salad in a jar
Mason jar salads are not only a unique way to shake things up (sorry, it was too hard not to say it!), but they are very convenient and can be prepared up to 5 days in advance.  Either keep the dressing separate, or layer the ingredients in such a way that those at the bottom won’t get soggy while marinating in the dressing.
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5 | mason jar x chandeliers
One of the more complicated ways of decorating with mason jars, these chandeliers are perfect for the DIY pro.  They provide a unique mix of rustic pieces in a contemporary design that is guaranteed to be a conversation piece.
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4 | mason jar x cocktail shaker
A DIY version be made by either (1) finding a cocktail shaker lid with the same circumference as the mason jar lid; or (2) punching holes in the top of one lid—swapping it out for an unpunched lid when shaking.  Easier still, pick up a readymade one at West Elm for a little over $30 CDN.
3 | mason jar x dessert in a jar
Dessert? Amazing.  In a mason jar? Even better.  Perfectly portion almost any dessert into individual servings by preparing them directly inside mason jars.  Two of my Vancouver favourites are the lemon pot de crème in Fable Kitchen on W. 4th Ave and the nanaimo bar in a jar at Oakwood Canadian Bistro on W. Broadway.
2 | mason jar x table centerpieces
Get creative and fill mason jars of all shapes + sizes with an assortment of candles.  Floating candles on water add an elegant touch and using tea lights turns any jar into an instant hurricane lantern for patios + outdoor events.
1 | mason jar x magic bullet
This one tops my list because who knew that almost every blender can be turned into an instant magic bullet?  Amazing, right?  The glass rim of a mason jar is the same size as almost all blender jugs, which means you probably already own single-serve blender that is not only more powerful than a magic bullet, but also has an unlimited supply of cute and trendy cups!  Try it out for a margarita night or a unique brunch-time build-your-own-smoothie bar!
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BONUS x chalk board paint
Using chalk board paint is a pretty and versatile way to label mason jars.  I recommend usingPebeo Porcelaine 150 China Paint in Chalkboard Black, which once baked will make the painted section microwave-safe and dishwasher-safe.
So pick up a pack (I got a set of 12 at Canadian Tire for $7.99) and try incorporating some of these cheap and chic ideas into your next party or event.  At 66¢ per piece, you really can’t go wrong!
Keep in mind, this trend can walk a fine line between trendy and tacky.  You’re aiming for simple and charming, not “I’m a college student and these jars are all we have in our kitchen”, so make sure to take the extra effort to decorate and add little touches to make everything seem put together!  Remember, it’s all in the details…
With Love,
Veronique♥
What do you think about the current Mason jar trend – Like it? Love it? Hate it? Do you know of any other fun uses for Mason jars or have any noteworthy jar-recipes? Share them below!
[Disclaimer:  This is not a sponsored post.  These opinions are my own and are in no way indicative of the opinions or positions of any of the companies mentioned.]