How many cheap umbrellas have I tossed into the garbage in my lifetime? LOTS. Pretty parasols have made a comeback and now The Brelli has made them both beautiful and functional.
My heart goes out to all the families affected by the wild fires in Fort McMurray. On special days like Mother’s Day, a time for love and family, so many people are experiencing absolute devastation. Their homes and neighbourhoods destroyed and they have lost everything. I know that safety is always the number one priority and obviously lives are way more important than tangible items. But I don’t think we should disregard how important some things are to us too. How do you put a value on those sentimental objects?
It got me thinking about the contents of my home. If my home was on fire, and I could save one thing, what would it be? What’s something that no amount of money could replace? After only a moment’s thought I decided it would be a letter from my mother…
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY! Love always, xoxo
For the past year, I’ve been wanting to share a personal story. So here is goes: I am Canadian and my Mom, Nancy, was American. Growing up, we took frequent trips to visit her family in Texas. We had good times filled with warm weather, tons of Mexican food, church visits and shopping. Each time, she always brought me to her favourite store: James Avery Jewelry. I’ve been wearing one of their simple silver crosses for the past 18 years.
I wanted to share a little bit of the history from their website:
“Then craftsman James Avery opened his garage workshop back in 1954, he established a standard of doing all things well. A tradition continued today, the iconic Avery style is achieved through meaningful design and skilled craftsmanship. Careful consideration and attention to detail goes into everything we create. Our jewelry is made to last and be enjoyed by you for years to come.”
Or in my case, generations to come. When my Mom passed away last February at the young age of 57, my family and I headed to Texas to say goodbye and collect some of her things. My mom’s husband showed up to the church with a James Avery bag, full of their signature orange boxes and jewelry. I knew that she loved James Avery but I had no idea how much. And now these rings and necklaces belong to my brothers and I. They are the most precious things that I have to remember her by and they have now become family heirlooms that we will one day pass on.
A couple years before she died, she sent me a charm bracelet in the mail from James Avery with three charms. She included a letter and a catalogue explaining that she wanted me to start my own bracelet but that “it was a work in progress”. When I returned to Texas last year, I drove to one of their stores and made a decision that although she started this bracelet for me, I wanted to finish it as a tribute to us and the things that we both loved: music, books, ladybugs and of course, Texas. It was something that we made together in life and in death.
Through my photos, James Avery miraculously found me on Instagram and after sharing my story, I struck up a friendship with someone special from their company. She was gracious enough to feature the photo of my charm bracelet in their new Valentine’s Love catalogue. When I received mine in the mail last week, I cried when I saw it. My Mom would have thought it was just so neat that our favourite jeweller recognized us.
I wanted to feature a couple of new pieces from the catalogue. The script initial rings in “x” and in “o” and the Flowing “Love” Hook-on bracelet… the perfect pieces for Valentine’s Day. Their new line dedicated to Love is just so meaningful, whether is signifies the love of a spouse, parent, or child, it resonates with everyone. My mom always ended her letters in “Love always, Mom xoxo” so these sterling silver pieces are just another little daily reminder of her.
Valentine’s Day has a new meaning for me, as it was the very last time I ever spoke to my Mom. If you’re looking for something timeless and special to add to your jewellery collection please got to: www.jamesavery.com
“Be bold, be bold, and everywhere be bold.” -Herbert Spencer
I used to be a little bit of a lipstick snob. I love bold colours but I would only buy the expensive department store brands because the colours were always so rich looking. But, I have to say that in the past year, “drug store” make-up lines like Maybelline, Revlon, Rimmel, Covergirl and L’Oreal have really stepped up and made some beautiful, affordable colours that look anything but cheap.
The number one question that I get asked on Instagram, is “What lip colour are you wearing?”. So I figured it was time to round up my favourites and share them with you.
First, some tips on wearing a bold lip colour:
1. You need lip liner to make that perfect, pouty lip. The great thing about lip liner is that you if you buy a couple different ones (one red, one pink, one berry) then you can match them to those colour spectrums. They don’t need to be exact!
2. Choose matte! If you want colour that pops and lasts, then choose one from a matte collection. It’s easy to layer on gloss overtop if you want that wet look.
3. Own it!!! So many people tell me that they purchased a lip colour that looked great in the store but then they got it home and thought it looked terrible on them. A little secret: it doesn’t!!! You have to have the confidence to wear it! Try this: Wear the new colour for ONE day. Choose a weekend when you are staying home or doing errands. If you aren’t used to wearing lipstick then it can be a big change. Get used to looking in the mirror with it on. By the end of the day, then decide whether it can stay or go.
To help you grab some great shades, I’ve made a handy list for you:
My new favourite!!! The ColorBlur allows you to add a lot or a little colour with the use of it’s blending tip. The colours are vibrant and bold. Shades to try: Partner in Crimson (red), Fast and Fuchsia (pink, worn in photo), Plum Please (berry, worn in photo above). Although they have so many fabulous colours, you can’t really go wrong here.
Revlon Color Burst
Love these matte colours from Revlon. They have a hint of vanilla/mint scent and they are so easy to apply. Shades to try: Elusive (pink), (poppy red, worn in photo), Fiery (new, plum).
Hard Candy All Matted Up
A new line from Hard Candy. This red and pink matte colour is beautiful! Unfortunately, this is the only good colour that they offer in the line but it’s a great price and worth buying.
There’s no better time of year than summer to try a new lip colour!
Merry Christmas friends! I hope you all had some quality family time during these past few days. I’ve been so fortunate to spend it with my family here in Calgary this year. It’s always hard missing my husband and I’s extended families in Ontario but it’s just so hard to travel during the busiest time of year with two little kids.
A little tradition that we started last year was to spend two nights at the Fairmont Banff Springs right before Christmas. It is a magical wonderland during the winter in Banff, Alberta, Canada, but “Christmas at the Castle” is extra special. The hotel is filled with decorated Evergreens, giant gingerbread houses, a Santa’s workshop, and even nightly bedtime stories.
Our kids spend a couple of days swimming in their outdoor, heated pool and my husband and I spend a couple of days relaxing. Getting away from the city can be just what you need to unwind.; leaving the daily stresses of work, schedules and household chores!
If you want to enjoy the snow, there is an outdoor skating rink, tobogganing hill, and cross-country skiing trails, all surrounded by the majestic Rocky Mountains. Just don’t forget to bring your warmest gear as the temperature dips well below freezing during the day! Shop my picks for warm winter outerwear in the links above.
What are your favourite family traditions during the holidays?
Love, Kiki Davies
I absolutely love family photos. Every fall, I round up the gang and despite complaining, arrange to have our family life captured in a moment. It’s always a bit of a race against time here in Calgary. The leaves change colour quickly with the cooler weather, giving you a small window of two to three weeks before they fall to the ground. This year I chose Kaley Hayward Photography: an awesome local Calgarian photographer that I will definitely use again next year! I love how bright and natural our photos turned out. She also caught some beautiful candid moments.
I love yearly photos for a few reasons:
1. If you do this in the same season, you will have a great snapshot of how everyone has grown in a year’s time.
2. It makes for beautiful photos to use to decorate your home.
3. Use these photos for your Holiday cards and photo gifts to family members. Check out Shutterfly for great options!
1. If you have young kids, do a mini-session! This was our first time doing an official mini-session this year and it was perfect! These sessions usually have a 20-30 minute time frame and it’s just enough time to get some great shots before your children run out of patience. It is also much cheaper than a full photography session.
2. Choose 3 colours for your colour scheme. For our photos this year, I chose navy blue, forest green and cream. Whatever you choose, try and get at least one neutral colour in there as it is easier to match. One bright colour is great too (think red!). I ALWAYS go to Joe Fresh for family photo coordination. This time of year, their stores are filled with cozy sweaters, plaid flannels and cute jeans… in my opinion the perfect combinations. It’s easy to coordinate and everyone will look casual without looking too dressed up. Jeans are always a great option for everyone!
3. Get your photos outside. The natural lighting and beautiful backgrounds are exactly what you want. A cloudy day is actually better than a sunny one for outdoor photos! No shadowed faces or squinty eyes to worry about.
4. Pick a prop! I wanted to have a few fun, matchy-matchy toque photos for our Christmas card. I went with Cooper Toques in cream, blue and sky blue for my boys and a Ryan Beanie in charcoal for my hubby. I love how cute it turned out! Check out my Etsy Shop to order some for your family or email me: email@example.com
5. A couple little tricks for the mommas: wavy hair looks better than straight, make your smile stand-out with a darker shade of lipstick, and a little extra make-up will still look quite natural on camera.
If you’re looking for my outfit details, shop them on my previous post.
Now say cheese!
Love, Kiki www.harpers-hats.com
My short and sweet travel guide on how to see the best sights of Italy in 10 days.
I am a mother with 2 young kids so my husband and I rarely get to take a trip together. We love traveling but getting away for an extended length of time can be really tough. We’ve always wanted to see Italy so for our 5 year wedding anniversary, we decided to do it. I must admit, I am a crazy planner when it comes to traveling somewhere. I have a phobia of showing up to a new place and missing out on something because I failed to know about it. So for Italy, I spent hours in front of the computer researching Trip Advisor and flipping through my Fodors guide book trying to plan the best trip in a short amount of time. With so many places to go and things to see, Italy can be a bucket list trip.
Here is our 10 day Italian itinerary with overnight stops in Venice, Florence, Cinque Terre, Siena and Rome with a pit-stop in Pisa. Don’t forget about other cities like Milan, Naples and the Amalfi Coast. It’s just so hard to choose!
A few tips:
*On a short time frame, stay in the heart of the cities. Don’t waste time commuting in everyday to see the major attractions.
*Get good maps and ask for directions! Especially if you are driving.
*Fly to Venice and work your way down or to Rome and work your way up.
*On the first Sunday of every month, Italy offers free admission to all museums.
*If you can purchase your admissions tickets ahead of time it may save you a lot of waiting!
Venice is my absolute favourite city in Italy. We started our journey here and I don’t think you could pick a more unique and romantic place to stay. You will love getting lost in a maze of walkways and bridges as every time you turn a corner, you are greeted with a new sight.
*Basilica di San Marco
*a Gondola Ride
*Strolling through the neighbourhoods of San Marco and Dosoduro
*Pizza lunch at Antico Forno
Florence is easily the cultural centre of art history in Italy. Get here in a couple hours by taking a high speed train from Venice to Florence. The city is easily accessible by walking or biking and it’s easy to cover a lot of ground in one day. The Duomo is the heart of the city and an absolutely magnificent sight. Climb the windy stone staircase to the top if you aren’t too claustrophobic!
*Galleria dell’Accademia (home of Michelangelo’s David)
*Piazza della Signoria
*Gelato at Grom
My husband and I decided to rent a car for 4 days to visit the Italian Riveria towns of Cinque Terre and then the Chianti Wine region town called Siena. Rental cars can easily be reserved ahead online. Although driving can be confusing, if you get a good map and directions ahead of time, this is a wonderful way to explore Italy.
You cannot beat the culture and beauty of Cinque Terre. I could have stayed much longer exploring these 5 coastal villages. Monterosso Al Mare is the larger town and offers more in the way of dining and lodging but all towns are worth thoroughly exploring.
Pisa can be a pit-stop. We stopped here while driving from Cinque Terre to Siena. We found free street parking and spent an hour touring around the grassy piazza of the Leaning Tour of Pisa. It is a beautiful plaza that is worth a stop.
The Tuscany wine region is most easily accessible by car. I would highly recommend seeing this region by this mode of transportation as it is wonderful to have a bit of open freedom after touring some of the larger cities. Siena is a beautiful walled medieval city with fantastic surrounding views. If you don’t want to stay in town, I would suggest booking a villa in the countryside. If you’re looking for a different option than Siena, try the town of San Gimignano.
After spending our first day walking and sight seeing in Siena, we spent our second day touring around the Tuscan Chianti region in our rental car. This was the perfect way to relax and go at our own pace. Take your time lunching and wine tasting along your drive between Castellina , Radda and Gaiole in Chianti.
*Piazza Del Campo
*Duomo and Cripta
*Castello di Brolio (castle tour and wine tasting)
*La Prosciuterria – the most delicious meat and cheese boards from local produce.
*Ice Cream in the town of Castellina in Chianti
*Hotel Athena (the above photo of the countryside is the view from our room and they include parking!)
Rome may be a little overwhelming after 8 full days of traveling. There is enough to do and see to fill your days here. The long lines and flocks of tourists may seem daunting but everything you see will be worth it, especially St. Peter’s Basilica.
After returning our car to Florence we took another high-speed train to Rome. Rome is one of the only Italian cities that has a subway system so use it when your legs need a rest. It also can connect you to the airport which is super convenient. There are “hop-on hop-off” bus tours too that take you to all the main attractions. This is a good option when traveling in those hot summer months.
*St. Peter’s Basilica
*The Vatican Museums including the Sistine Chapel
*Trattoria il Tettarello (we ate here both nights we loved it so much, best pizza ever!)
Whether you are blessed with more time in Italy or less, choose an itinerary that suits your needs. We definitely tried to cram as much as we could into our ten days but I didn’t want to miss any of the spectacular sights in these six cities (see, it’s my phobia!). It’s true I felt pretty exhausted on our journey home but my soul felt full.