Wish I Said It Wednesday: Being Grateful



There are times in life when we forget all the things we have to be grateful for.  Lately, I’ve been looking at everything from a negative standpoint – nothing seems good enough and everyone annoys me.  Being the polite lady that I am, these negative feelings have been bubbling under the surface and I tend to only let them out when in the company of people I am very close to.  Maybe you can relate?

I am making an honest effort to be more positive and part of that is being grateful for the wonderful things in my life – good health, supportive partner, fantastic friends and a stable paycheck.  When you look at it that way, I’m pretty freakin’ blessed!

Besides all those great things, I am truly grateful for all the support I have received for Lady In Charge! It is amazing to see how much readership has grown over this past year and along with friends on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram, you all have made my year so far with your loyal following.  From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!!!

On that note, I am taking a bit of a break, but I won’t go far. You might remember that I am also in school part-time, and I am now in the home stretch with two projects and a final exam left.  I promise to be back very soon but in the meantime, stay in touch with me on the “interwebs” and let me know what you are up to!

Lady In Charge, Signature

Why I Love St. Patrick’s Day (And All Things Irish!)


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Happy St. Patrick’s Day! This is one of my favourite holidays of the year and I am always excited to celebrate it.  Not because of green beer (yuck!) or chocolate gold coins (as delicious as they are) or an excuse to get together at an Irish pub (because who really needs one?), but because I quite literally should have been born Irish.  Sounds very strange coming from a Canadian lady with Indian roots, I know.  But let me explain.

St. Patrick's Day, celebrate

A small view into my trip to Ireland and Northern Ireland. From top left: castle at the site of the Blarney Stone (yes, I kissed it!); visit to one of 10 natural wonders of the world: the Giant’s Causeway; perched on the cliffs of the western coast of Ireland and the picturesque Gaelic village of Dingle.

First of all, I have an Irish first name:  Maureen. I’ve heard various stories from my mom about why she chose this name for me, but mostly I think she thought the name was pretty and thus I became Maureen.  Coincidence that I have an Irish name and I love all things Irish now?  I don’t think so…

Second, I had a string of very lucky St. Patrick’s Days in a row a few years back that made me think something about this holiday had to be magical.  Like being gifted tickets to a hockey game that night from random strangers that ended up being the tickets that my friend’s uncle had originally promised us.  Spending an epic day and night in New York City watching the biggest St. Patty’s Day parade in the world and meeting a bunch of real Irish people at a bar.  Something fun and/or special always seems to happen to me on this day.

Last, I went on an AMAZING exchange to Ireland and Northern Ireland that for many reasons I was never supposed to go on.  I found out about the exchange randomly and on the encouragement of an acquaintance literally faxed in my application at 5:59 pm when the deadline was 6pm.  I became inexplicably ill for months during the selection process but somehow managed to show up to all 3 interviews and beat out 20 plus people for a spot on the exchange.  Sadly, I was picked as an “alternate” to go on the trip and only guaranteed a spot to go to Korea on the next exchange instead.  When that decision was made, I seriously considered quitting the process all together but something in me said to put aside my pride and hope that some twist of fate would allow me to go on the trip to Ireland and Northern Ireland.  Well, fate (or was it the luck of the Irish?) intervened a few weeks later.  I was given a spot on the team and spent 30 days exploring some of the most magical places I have ever been.

So now that you are convinced that I should have been born Irish, why should you care about St. Patrick’s Day?  Well, because it is a chance to celebrate bit of magic during an otherwise boring time of year.  Spring isn’t fully here yet, Christmas and New Year’s days are in distant memory – so why not toast to the Irish?  Though St. Patrick’s Day has its root in religion, modern-day celebrations are about appreciating a beautiful country with wonderful people.

The Irish are some of the warmest and welcoming people I have met, but they are more than just their reputation for being friendly.  Whether from Ireland or Northern Ireland, the Irish enjoy what they have and don’t fuss about small things like being 5 minutes late because they know there are much more important things in life.  Compared to the breakneck speed at which most North Americans go about life, it was refreshing to experience a culture that values family and friends more than having the best/being the best/doing the best all the freaking time.  I came back from the trip looking at life with new, green-coloured glasses.  What I perceived to be important (getting ahead in my career, collecting material possessions, etc) was actually of little value to me in the long run.  Family, friends and knowing that life is what you make of it – this is what I focus on now.

So, whether your choice of drink today is Guinness or Jameson (or both!), I hope you raise a glass to celebrate the beauty of all things Irish, most importantly the Irish spirit.

Irish Proverb, St. Patrick's Day, Quote

Beauty Bar: Ladi Avokanto



Ladi Avokanto, ReviewNow before you go thinking that this blog has changed languages, let me clarify.  Ladi Avokanto is an avocado and olive oil made by Sponge Skincare, a brand inspired by the Greek ancestry of its creators, hence the Greek name.  Greece is not only a beautiful place with amazing culture to explore, it is also the home of numerous natural skincare treatments using everything from oils to yoghurt to natural extracts like rose and jasmine.  Aegean inspired skincare products are having a moment in the spotlight right now with brands like Korres and Sponge popularizing Greek skincare remedies.

I stumbled upon Ladi Avokanto after doing some research on facial oils, which are also having a moment it the spotlight right now.  Facial oils have amazing benefits – using natural ingredients to hydrate the skin but also trap in moisture to keep your skin hydrated for longer.  After reading some reviews on the Sephora site, it was clear to me that this was going to be a great product to try on my already oily and acne prone skin.  Avocado oil is known for its anti-aging properties – it penetrates deeply into the skin to hydrate and boost collagen production.  It also has a ton of Vitamin A which is a natural alternative to Retinol, a known ingredient in many skincare products that increases cell turnover and renewal.  Olive oil is an oil that is the most structurally similar to our skin itself, therefore is a great moisturizer to help restore skin.  With that combination, Ladi Avokanto seemed like the perfect product to try as my first step into the world of facial oils.

Yet, weeks after it arrived in my mailbox, I still had not opened the bottle.  Why?  Well, after years of being told the only way to keep my skin clear of imperfections was to remove all traces of oil, applying oil to my face seemed counterintuitive.  However, the total opposite is true.  Using products to remove oils from the skin only makes our bodies produce more oil to keep skin hydrated, thus resulting in shiny skin and even more acne.  Knowing all this , it was still difficult for me to open up that bottle and rub some Ladi Avokanto oil on my skin…but I did it!

Facial oils are best applied on damp skin before you apply any serums or moisturizers, so I started out by using Ladi Avokanto right after washing my face.  The first thing I noticed was the smell – it had a sweet yet fresh smell from the plant extracts added to the oil that was intoxicating but not overpowering.  The oil itself went on my skin smoothly and didn’t feel greasy on my face.  It absorbed with very little effort and didn’t leave a sheen as I thought it might.  My skin felt moisturized and healthy, not loaded with product.  Even though they say to apply your serum after using a facial oil actually helps it work better (because the oil opens up pores for better absorption), I found my skin was moisturized enough to use just Ladi Avokanto before bed with my normal eye cream.

After a few weeks of using Ladi Avokanto, I am pleasantly surprised by how light yet effective this product is.  I adore the smell and how easily it is applied, not to mention all the benefits of the ingredients in it.  The only drawback is that if you are using an exfoliant (like Bliss Incredi-Peel), applying this oil within the first 30 minutes creates friction and rubs off skin.  Not a huge deal, but just a warning to take some time after you exfoliate before applying this oil.

I strongly encourage you to try this oil or another facial oil that fits your skin type.  There are so many out on the market now – just remember to choose one with the most natural ingredients and free of mineral oils which can actually dehydrate skin.

Spring 2014 Fashion Must Have: Light Wash Denim


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With spring literally around the corner, it’s time to talk about what we are going to wear ladies!  While coloured denim has become a mainstay in many women’s wardrobes, the hottest trend for Spring 2014 is light wash denim, a look that has been worn by celebrities for some time (proof: jean queen Jessica Alba), but is only now translating into the mass market.

From skinny jeans to boyfriend jeans to jean dresses, everything is coming up light blue it seems this spring!  Personally I am eyeing a pair of light wash boyfriend style jeans (think looser fit in the legs overall but still a tapered look) to wear with a crisp white tee for my spring uniform.  Blank Denim seems to be getting lots of buzz in the fashion world right now, and at a price point under $100, they are a steal for a celebrity loved brand.  Mainstay brands like Old Navy and the Gap are also offering multiple styles of light wash denim.

Light Wash Denim, Spring Trends

(from left): Gap 1969 Sexy Boyfriend JeansBlank Denim The Galaxy JeansOld Navy The Rockstar Distressed Skinny Jeans

Not a jeans and tee-shirt kind of lady?  Try a light wash denim dress in a flattering A-line cut or timeless light blue chambray shirt.  While darker denim shoes might seem tacky, a printed wedge or sneaker in light denim is a great option for spring and summer.  Denim bags are also popping up – I like the Fossil “Erin” satchel in light blue/grey denim for a unique twist on this trend.  It’s a great size and a classic shape that would pair well with both casual and dressier outfits.

Light Wash Denim, Spring Trends

Dress: Modcloth, Shoes: Toms, Shirt: Scotch and Soda, Bag: Fossil

Domestic Goddess: Five Easy Ways to Be a Great Hostess


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How to be a Great HostessI have a love-hate relationship with being a hostess.  I love to have people around me laughing and having a great time, but also feel immense pressure to create the perfect atmosphere to encourage this.  There is no better feeling than the one of satisfaction when people leave an event you hosted having enjoyed themselves, but the preparation and planning can be can be very stressful.

There are numerous little tricks and tips to being a great hostess, but these are the ones I have found to work time and time again whether I am hosting a New Year’s Eve Party or having a couple of friends over for dinner. Take the time to make things special, but don’t kill yourself in the process.  Remember, your loved ones are coming to see you, not to be wowed by Martha Stewart-style macron trees and chocolate fountains.

1.  Divide and conquer.  Whether co-hosting with a spouse or friend, make a list of what needs to get done and delegate as appropriate.  Doing it all yourself will not make you a hero to your guests, it will just make you a cranky host.  Besides, your fella is much more up to date on the best gluten-free beers than you are, so why not let him make the trip to the liquor store to stock up?

2. Keep areas visible to your guests clean and forget about the rest.  Unless you are hosting a house-warming, your guests will not been in every room of your home, so there is no need to obsessively clean every nook and cranny.  Focus on having a clean entryway, guest bathroom and entertaining area.  The rest can wait.

3.  Flowers and candles make every occasion a little more special.  Whether you light some basic IKEA tea-lights or your new favourite candle (mine can be found here), adding candlelight to a room is a great way to set a relaxed yet festive mood. Similarly, flowers add colour and life to a room and you don’t need to go all out with elaborate arrangements.  A simple vase or two at strategic places (dinner table, end tables, mantles) will be enough.  Tip: Make sure to set flowers and candles in places where they can’t be knocked over!

4.  Be clear with guests on what to bring.  I once hosted a party where a guest not only came 1 hour early (major faux pas!)  but also brought plates full of appetizers that I had no room for.  It was a sweet gesture but food was wasted and there is nothing worse than that.  Looking back, I should have been much more clear on what I needed that guest to bring and what I had already taken care of.  On the other hand, we all have that one friend who seems to eat and drink the most but never brings anything to share.  Assign this person to bring something specific – i.e. a bottle of red wine, pie from their favorite bakery for dessert – and hope that they don’t “forget”!

5. Have everything ready before guests arrive.  There is nothing worse than running around for cups, a bottle opener or serving platters when your guests have arrived.  You want to be able to relax and enjoy your time with them, not feel like a butler.  Configure your set up and put out any non-food items the night before.  On the day of, do all your food prep and cooking beforehand as much as you can.  For anything that needs to be cooked last-minute, have everything you need set up and ready to go.  This will reduce the time you spend away from your guests, and hopefully increase the time you spend having fun with them.

This is what has worked for me, but what are your favorite tips for being a hostess?  Would love to hear what you do to make a special night for your guests that you get to enjoy too!

Beauty 101: How to Apply Highlighter


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How to Apply HighlighterThe more I learn about makeup, the less I feel I know about how to use it.  Sure, I can apply liquid eyeliner like a pro and my tightlining skills are improving, but there are a lot of products out there that I have yet to learn how to apply properly.  Highlighter is one of those products.  I regularly swipe highlighter on my brow bone (Benefit’s Watt’s Up is my favourite) but I would love to use it on other parts of my face as I know it is one of those products that if applied properly creates a natural, youthful glow.

Highlighter can be applied on the brow bone, but also on the forehead, cheeks and down the centre of the nose, according to this handy illustration:

Seems simple enough, right?  The trick is to make sure that you don’t look like a disco ball by using a soft touch with the highlighter you choose.  Start with a little bit, then layer on a bit more until you achieve the desired effect which should a natural glow.  A cream highlighter will be the easiest to apply and you can use your fingers to do this after you apply foundation, but before you apply powder.   If you prefer to use a powder, highlight after the powder stage.  For some further tips on how to apply a powder highlighter, check out this quick tutorial from The Makeup Chair.


***Disclaimer: I am now fully obsessed with Sineady Cady, especially her accent from the lovely city of Cork, Ireland and expect you will be too after watching a few of her videos.

Friday Inspiration: Mindfulness


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Inspiration, Mindfulness, Meditation, Mindful MediationI work at a very large global corporation, which from time to time has its perks (besides a stable source of income, I suppose). One of those perks is being invited to interesting networking events and workshops.  A recent workshop I attended was on meditation, a practice that I have always seen as very disciplined and requiring supreme focus.  What I learned is that meditation is more about letting your mind be free so it can come back to a place of calm on its own and really has nothing to with restricting your thinking.

For a type A personality like me, learning how to live a more peaceful existence is a necessity in the crazy world we live in.  Though I have not been practicing meditation, I have been doing some research on mindful meditation and the concept of mindfulness:

Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.

Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.

(source: Greater Good)

The more I have read about mindfulness (the best article I have found is from the Greater Good), the more I realize that this might be way to bring peace and order to my thoughts.  Like you, I am often running in all different directions and so is my brain.  Though I am not sure about meditation, I am very intrigued by the concept of living life in a state of full awareness of my feelings and processing my thoughts completely before reacting to a situation.   It’s a simple idea, but a bit of inspiration to hopefully send you into the weekend in a more peaceful state of mind.

Currently Coveting: Colorblock Bags


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It feels very strange to say this, but I have been on a self-imposed shopping ban…and I am actually sticking to it!  In fact, I have not shopped since Black Friday 2013, which if you know me, is a long time for me to go without buying some sort of shoes, clothes or purses.  Window shopping and keeping up with the trends is something I am allowed to do because it’s free and satisfies that itch I feel from time to time when I want to shop.  It’s also a good way to plan what to buy when I am ready to shop.

All that “research” has me day-dreaming about adding a new bag to my collection.  Part of me wants to be smart about it and stick to a classic shaped bag in a neutral colour but the other part of me thinks it would be much more fun to buy a colourful or printed bag.  I have noticed the colorblocking trend has moved from clothing over to handbags and with all the options out there, a colorblocked bag is definitely on my wish list now.

Colorblock bags, Marc Jacobs, Kate Spade, Tory Burch, River Island, ASOS

From top left:  ASOS Cambridge Satchel, Ann Taylor Belted Foldover BagValentino Rockstud Fluo Shoulder BagMiss Selfridge ClutchDiane von Furstenberg Eva ToteASOS Crossbody bag with Snakeskin, COACH Large ClutchableTory Burch Robinson Colorblock Bucket BagMARC by Marc Jacobs Sheltered Island Crossbody BagVince Camuto “Billy” Satchel

Favorite Find: Thymes Frasier Fir Candle


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There is something luxurious about lighting a candle.  Maybe it’s because the light and scent of a candle instantly warm up any room, or maybe it’s because most of us look a little sexier in candlelight (hint, hint!).  In any case, I’ve been all about lighting candles lately and I’ve found that quality matters a lot when it comes to buying them.  Poor quality candles burn less evenly and can be heavily scented, overpowering a room and even causing irritation to one’s eyes and nose.  This doesn’t exactly create the feeling of warmth and luxury that you should feel when you light a candle.

Though I can’t bring myself to invest in cult favourite Dipytyque yet, I recently discovered a now “favourite find” candle at a price that better suits my budget.  Thymes Frasier Fir Candle truly is like nothing I have smelled before, but somehow is familiar and inviting.  When I burn this candle, I envision myself wandering through the forest on a fall day picking wildflowers.  Strange but true.  Every time I have burned this candle with guests over, they too have been woo-ed by its earthy yet alluring scent.  The mix of Siberian fir needles, cedar wood, sandalwood and floral musk must be magic.

Thymes Frasier Fir Candle, Review

Lucky for you, this candle is available all over the place so you can try it and see what I mean.  I found it at my favourite local spa, but you can use Thymes’ handy store locator to find the nearest place to you to to pick one up.  Try it and let me know what you think of it!

How to Wear Radiant Orchid


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Purple has always been my favourite colour.  Though I wear it significantly less than I wear other colours (hello, black), there is something that makes me gravitate towards any shade of purple, whether lilac, lavender or indigo.  So, when Pantone announced their Colour of the Year 2014 as Radiant Orchid, I was pretty excited.  It is a vivid mix of purple, pink and fuchsia –  a colour that is bold and forces you to take notice of it, yet somehow is still warm and inviting.

Though it is a beautiful colour complimentary on any skin tone, you can go overboard with Radiant Orchid and run the risk of looking like a monochromatic mess as model Coco Rocha does below.  In fact, wear too much of one non-neutral colour in your outfit and you risk looking like Queen Elizabeth or similar grandmother-like lady who lunches.  A definite don’t!

Pantone Colour of the Year 2014, Radiant Orchid, Coco Rocha

If you are mixing in a true colour like Radiant Orchid into your wardrobe, it’s best to include it in one feature piece and keep everything else about your outfit neutral.  For example, Amy Adams chose a floral print tea-length dress in shades of Radiant Orchid for a pre-Oscar luncheon.  She complimented the dress with neutral accessories and make-up, avoiding any risk of looking like a lady who lunches.

Pantone Colour of the Year 2014, Radiant Orchid, Amy Adams

Mixing in pieces in Pantone’s Colour of the Year is always a fun way to pep up your wardrobe for the season.  My favourite of the pieces I curated below is the Butter London Nail Lacquer in Molly Coddled.  It’s a beautiful spin on Radiant Orchid that would compliment any skin tone and work for any occasion.

Pantone Colour of the Year 2014, Radiant Orchid

(from top left) Wildfox SunglassesRiver Island Peacock Box ClutchManolo Blahnik Ianc Cutout PumpChinti and Parker SweaterButter London Nail Lacquer in Molly CoddledLydia Courteille Rose Gold Multi-stone EarringsMarc Jacobs Style Eye-Con No. 7Issa Royal Engagement Wrap DressVera Wang Lovestruck Floral Rush