The Downtown Dreamer: November 2013

Friday, November 29, 2013

The First Snowfall

A few days ago, I woke up to a layer of snow outside . Anyone who knows me knows how much I hate the cold. But there's something special about the first snowfall that makes me forget all about my disdain for winter. It's so calming and lovely.

So with the -9 weather that morning I did the only logical thing anyone would do, I threw on a ridiculously festive sequin skirt, red lipstick, and then ventured outside to take pictures.

Outfit Details - Cardigan: H&M, Skirt: Zara (old, smiliar), Boots: Payless Shoes, Bracelet: Self-made, Ring: Forever 21 (I think?), Beret: Winners

The hilarious and beautiful Joanna from ModaMama inspired me to finally wear this skirt. Every week, Joanna holds a "Rule Breaker" challenge . Last week it was mixing leopard and plaid, this week she challenged her readers to wear sequins during the day.

I gladly accepted the challenge .

Good thing too! This skirt has been hanging in my closet for the past 3 years. It was one of those things that I absolutely loved in the store, but when I brought it home, all of a sudden it didn't fit right and I didn't like the style . I tried to wear it countless times, but I just wasn't convinced by anything I paired it with. That is, until today.

Luckily, I've got this terrible habit of not throwing anything away. Or else, I would've gotten rid of this beauty a long time ago. Hoarding - 1, Cleaning - 0.

Till Next Time,

Friday, November 22, 2013

Food Friday: Creamy Pumpkin Pasta with Sage

My favourite food by far is pasta. I'm pretty sure I could eat pasta for breakfast, lunch and dinner. That's how much I love it. If it wasn't so deliciously carb filled, I think I could live off of it forever.

Another thing I love is pumpkin. I've had a mild pumpkin obsession over the last few weeks (read: years). Every Fall, I make a conscious effort to overuse pumpkin until I'm sick of it. That way I don't miss it during the Winter and Summer months. Weird, right?

The other day I was on Pinterest and saw the most gorgeous picture of a pumpkin pasta dish.
My first thought was, "Whaaaat?" For this pumpkin and pasta obsessed girl, I was elated. I had never thought of combining pumpkin in a pasta dish. I used to think that pumpkin was only good in pies and baked goods, but boy was I wrong!

The picture made my mouth water, but as fate would have it, there wasn't a recipe attached...just a beautiful picture to tease my tastebuds. So, I went in search of the perfect recipe. I wanted something that was both flavourful and creamy, but not heavy. It also had to be easy to make. Here's what I found.

Adapted from Chef Chloe

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1½ cups pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups almond milk
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons maple syrup
3 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
8-10 Sage leaves(extra for garnish)
Penne Pasta (you decide how much you want)

For the Pasta: Bring salted water to a boil, add pasta & cook until desired doneness. Drain and return to pot.

Next, make the Pumpkin Cream Sauce :
First, heat olive oil in a large pan. Add onions and saute until soft. Then, add garlic and sage leaves. Sauté for a few minutes. Remove from heat. Allow it to cool before putting it in the blender or food processor.

In a blender, add the onion/sage mixture, pumpkin, tomato paste, milk, nutmeg, maple syrup, salt & pepper and cayenne pepper. Blend until smooth, stopping a few times to scrape down the sides.
I had to improvise during this step as the sauce was a little too chunky for my liking. So, feel free to add additional pumpkin, tomato puree or milk to suit your tastes.

When the sauce is done, return it to a pot or pan to heat it up. Next, add pasta, plate and serve !
Don't forget to garnish with fresh sage.

*Note: This recipe makes a lot of sauce. You'll have leftovers for at least a week.

The best part of doing a food post/photo shoot is that I get to eat whatever I make once I'm done. And, you better believe that I ate this WHOLE plate. Then sopped up the extra sauce with bread. I couldn't let any of it go to waste...I think I might have a problem.

What's your favourite seasonal food or meal?

Till Next Time,

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

{Recap} Spark Sessions: A Fashion & Beauty Blogging Conference

This weekend I had the opportunity to attend a two-day Fashion and Beauty Blogger conference called "SPARK Sessions". I first heard about this conference back in the summer, and I knew I had to attend. When I purchased my ticket, the organizers had not yet released the schedule or list of speakers, but I knew it would be a worthwhile experience.

The idea for the conference was developed by Marissa Anwar from Chic Darling, and with the help of seven other amazing and influential bloggers, they came up with an informative, relevant and fun conference. The topics ranged from how to brand your blog and build a media kit to how to turn your blog into a business. Aside from the great panels, I had the opportunity to network with some other wonderful bloggers and PR Professionals. Essentially, it was a blogger's dream...especially for this newbie.

Day one discussed the foundations of blogging. From developing your brand, utilizing SEO, networking and building a media kit. It covered the basics that every blogger needs to know in order to make the most of their blog. The day ended with an after party/clothing swap, including drinks from Fresita and Bio Seaweed Gel manicures.

The Business of Blogging Panel with (L-R) Nicole Wilson, Alexander Liang, and Jessica Desjardins

The highlight of the conference for me was the opening keynote address by Jeanne Beker. When I was younger, I always watched Jeanne Beker host and report on Fashion Television, so it was truly a pleasure to hear her speak. She spoke about her life, career and experience in the fashion industry.

During her speech, she said one thing in specific that really resonated with me. She said that women often tell her, "I want your job!" and her honest reply was, "Get your own!" In fact, I once tweeted her and said the very same thing, "I want your job/life". Although her reaction was shocking, it was justified. It's so easy to covet someone else's life or career because they appear glamorous on the outside, but the truth is, we don't know what's happening “behind the scenes”. We need to find satisfaction in our own lives, and in doing so, we are able to forge our own unique paths that we wouldn’t wish to trade with anyone (I'll admit, I'm still working on this).

The PR Perspective with (L-R) Anum Khan, Cheryl Willberg, Kelsey Cole, and Valerie Stachurski

Day two was another information rich day and it built on the sessions from the first day. The panels discussed how to take great photos, turning your blog into a business, the PR perspective, and how to get published.

The conference ended with a closing keynote by the queen of gossip herself, Elaine Lui (aka Lainey Gossip). Her Q&A was blunt and refreshing. You gotta love her brazen in your face personality. She had the room laughing with some of her outrageous comments.

Conference attendees also had the pleasure of testing out the new Almay Shadow Softies. The eyeshadow comes in a variety of colours and is soft and pillowy to the touch. The great thing about this product is that you can layer it to achieve the desired colour intensity you want. A couple of swipes will give you a subdued look, but add a few more swipes and you get a colour that really pops. Almay's make up artist Jacquie Hutchinson was also on hand to dish out tips and tricks. She was hilarious and so sweet! I loved getting my make up done by her.

When I left on Sunday, I was beaming. It was great to be surrounded by like-minded people who are striving to create something beautiful (figuratively and literally). I felt so creatively refreshed and motivated. There's no greater feeling than being inspired to continue doing what you love. On that note, I've got lots of ideas and blog posts coming your way soon.

The amazing goodies & gift bag from SPARK Sessions

What inspires you?

Till Next Time,

Friday, November 15, 2013

Blue Suede Shoes

Outfit Details - Blazer: H&M, Dress: Dynamite (still available in store, similar), Shoes: Forever 21 (similar), Bracelet: Gift

When I was eight years old, my aunt bought me my first pair of high heels. They were the cutest black Maryjanes with a teeny tiny chunky heel. I adored them! That is, until my mom "accidentally" threw them out. My little fashionist heart broke in a billion pieces. It was definitely a sad day, but luckily I recovered, and years later I found these beautiful blue suede heels. But, I'm pretty sure those little Maryjanes were the ones that started my shoe obsession.

This outfit combines all my favourite things - a sweater dress, beautiful heels and leather!
This dress fits like a glove and it's surprisingly comfortable. The material is soft and flattering to any figure. Though, since it's pretty form fitting, I paired it with a leather sleeved blazer...another favourite of mine, which I'm sure you'll be seeing a lot more of on the blog.

Till Next Time,

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Fall Fair Fun

I don't think I've mentioned this enough, but I LOVE the Fall season.
The changing colours of the leaves, chunky scarves & light jackets and the cool crisp air.
You know that early October part of it, not so much the November weather.

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of going to a local Fall Fair. It was pure love! From the carnival rides, the fattening fried foods and the tractor pulls (yes, that's a thing!), it was so much fun.
There's something truly special about this season.

I had this outfit picked out even before deciding to go to the fair. I don't know why but, for some reason, plaid & military green just scream Fall to me.

When I bought this jacket back in the Spring, it was love at first sight. And lucky for me, it goes with everything! I think I've worn it way too much over the past few months, so it's almost good thing that we're taking a break from each other.

Outfit Details - Jacket: Old Navy, Shirt: Hollister, Pants: Sirens, Shoes: Payless, Bracelets: Gifts, Ring: Aldo

What's your favourite thing about Fall?

Till Next Time,