Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year: Midnight Skies

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas: Holly Accent

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The 3 V's of Capitol Hill: Victrola

Hello Readers! I’m still in Seattle and enjoying every minute of it! Aside from shopping and sight seeing downtown, my Dad and I decided to explore a new neighbourhood called Capitol Hill today. A few days ago, our tour guide from the Coffee Crawl suggested the 3 best cafes in this neighbourhood - Vita, Vivace and Victrola. Unfortunately we only had time to try one so we picked Victrola Coffee Roasters!

Let me start by telling you a bit about the café. Victrola was named after the very popular phonograph of the 1920’s. The name was chosen to embrace the liveliness, exuberance and fun of the Jazz era. When I think of the 20’s, I think not only of prohibition, flappers and speakeasies, but also of excess. Victrola’s atmosphere transported me back to the vintage jazz era, especially because it was located right in an old 1920’s auto row building!

Victrola first opened in 2000 and only 3 years later began roasting their own coffee as well! Not only do they service delicious coffee, but they also host events with local artists, display art pieces and offer complementary weekly coffee cuppings (sampling). I had a cappuccino which was topped with beautiful coffee art. My dad, who is not a coffee drinker, enjoyed an orange soda and we both shared a piece of coffee cake! It was such a nice place to just relax and spend some quality father-daughter time!

Next time I’m in Seattle I’ll have to come back and try Vita and Vivace. Bye for now and Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Seattle's Famous Coffee Crawl

Seattle is to coffee as Alaska is to snow. For this reason, I signed up for an award winning walking tour called The Coffee Crawl hosted by a company called “Seattle By Foot”. After countless cups of coffee at 5 amazing stops through downtown and historic Seattle, I felt more knowledgeable, cultured and of course absolutely wired!

1.    Caffe Ladro

Our first stop was Caffe Ladro, a cute little coffee shop that is Italian for “The Coffee Thief”. Here we learned about the origins of the coffee bean and tried an Ethiopian blend. We drank a pour over coffee in an aero press. This new brewing method produced a very light roast and clean brew. I was amazed at how much the coffee looked like tea. I knew it was very high quality because the coffee was naturally sweet and had no bitter after taste. I usually load my coffee up with cream and sugar but I loved this blend exactly how it was.

2.   Caffé D’arte

Our next stop was an Italian coffee shop called Caffé D’arte. Here we started with a very balanced roast, which had a name that translated to “meaning of life”. I really enjoyed it just the way it was. The second blend we tried was a darker roast called Velletri, a smokey blend commonly used in lattés. I had to put cream in this cup because it was a little bolder than I’m used to. The last blend we tried was called Capri. This lighter blend was my absolute favourite. The barista used this blend to make a latté and demonstrated some coffee art for us.

3.   Trabant Coffee & Chai

I absolutely loved our stop at Trabant. This was the first time I tried coffee brewed by a clover machine. This method is basically the opposite of a French press. First you pour the coffee into the filter on top of the machine, and it vacuums in the coffee, creating a unique and absolutely delicious blend. We had an Ethiopian blend called Barboya, which was very light and fruity. The barista told us that the coffee tastes different each time when it’s made in a clover machine. She also said “making coffee is a balance between science and art”. Our second drink at Trabant was a seasonal specialty called a Freddy Quimby. This was apple cider steam with maya tea spiced chai. It tasted like autumn in a cup!

4.   Intrigue Chocolate Co.

Next we made our way to a chocolate house in Pioneer Square for a coffee and chocolate pairing. We met the owner of Intrigue who is a botanist, and he served us at least 8 different flavours of truffles with a studio blend cold coffee (different from iced coffee) made in a Toddy. Some of the truffle flavours we tried included basil, cranberry, and pineapple. Two of my favourites were the juniper berry – a very Christmassy flavour – and the Jamaican truffle, which was made with nutmeg, vanilla, honey and chili. I loved how every flavour told a story. Between each different flavour we sipped our cold coffee to cleanse our palates. It also worked in reverse, every time we took a sip of coffee between truffle tasting, we found something new in the coffee!

5.    Caffé Umbria

Our last stop was in the Historic Pioner Square at Umbria. At this point I could feel the caffeine buzz but I was having so much fun that I didn’t want to stop! We each had a ‘Gusto Crema’ blend espresso. This specific blend is served at the Ritz in florida and The Bellagio in Las Vegas. I could tell that the quality was very high as soon as I took my first sip. Although I would chose a latté or Americano over an espresso, I still appreciated this particular blend. It was darker and had more of a kick but was also had some smoky undertones. I really enjoyed the atmosphere at this stop. The baristas brought us macarons, which was just the cherry on the top of the icing!

After the tour officially ended, I got some more coffee recommendations from my amazing tour guide and then went to lunch with my new coffee tasting buddy. What an awesome day! I would recommend this tour to anyone visiting Seattle!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Oh Christmas Tree!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Original Starbucks

I’m writing to you from Seattle - The Emerald City! Fortunately, I was able to accompany my dad on a business trip here and I’m quickly learning how incredible this city is! Seattle is home to many famous people (including bands) and is filled with history and culture. More importantly, Seattle has a long history of coffee culture and is home to the original Starbucks!

In 1971 the first Starbucks store opened in Seattle’s historic Pike Place Market. The name was inspired by Moby Dick and the logo (a seductive siren) evoked the romance of high seas and the seafaring tradition of the early coffee traders. Howard Shultz, the CEO, President and Chairman of Starbucks, joined the company in 1982 and proceeded to explore Italy to research Italian Coffee Bars. He looked for a way to bring the traditional Italian coffee experience to America.

The original location is right inside the Pike Place Market and has maintained it’s original décor and atmosphere. The sign outside is in old lettering and the inside is really small, with no seating! There is always a lineup out the door that consists of either tourists browsing the collectables, or regulars zipping in and out for their daily coffee. The original siren logo is brown and white and advertises coffee, tea and spices. It can be seen both outside and inside the store.

Although the original location was fun to visit, my favourite Starbucks store in Seattle was located on 1st and Pine Street, just steps away from the Pike Place Market. This store opened in 2009 and everything about the design, from the lighting and hardwood to the furniture was so unique. This location had more of a ‘living room’ atmosphere than any other Starbucks I have ever visited. It is the first LEED Gold Certified Store, which means the store made from recyclable materials.

Notable elements include:

  • The leather on bar’s outer facing was scrap obtained from shoe and automobile factories.
  • The walnut used in the tables, doors and bar top was salvaged from a nearby farm.
  • The signage on the bar uses recycled slate from a local high school.
  • The community table is twice reused; it was previously located at a Seattle restaurant and before that, in a home.
  • The restroom partitions are made from recycled laundry detergent bottles.
  • The wall tapestry is made of repurposed burlap coffee bags from a local roasting plant. 

Today Starbucks has more than 18,000 stores and operates in over 60 countries. It is the premier roaster and retailer of specialty coffee in the world. It’s fun to see how locations can differ across the world or even within the same city! What never changes is the sense of community and the connection you feel every time you enter a Starbucks. From a small, narrow store in Seattle to an internationally recognized brand, Starbucks has grown to be such a successful business.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Winter Wonderland

Monday, December 2, 2013

Candy Cane Accent

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Finding Your Fragrance Family

A few weeks ago I wrote about searching for a scent. The hunt can take a few shorts hours, days, weeks or sometimes even years. It’s really helpful to know what kind of fragrance you prefer and in order to do that this list by the Beauty Department can help you identify your favourite fragrance families. This is really helpful when you walk into a perfumery and want to talk to someone.

Originally Published on The Beauty Department

Monday, November 25, 2013

Blue Tip and Glitter

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Chai Thé Lounge

Exams are quickly sneaking up on us! Sometimes it’s important to change our study locations to best absorb all the information we’re trying to cram into our brains. Montreal is filled with cafés to study at but this week I want to talk about one of my favourites – Salon de Thé: Chaï Thé Lounge.

I’ve visited Chai already many times and there’s always something new to try on their menu. The tea selection includes a variety of green teas, black teas and herbal teas and is served in a colourful teapot with a matching teacup. A few of the flavours I’ve tried include Apple Spice, Spicy Chai, Bora Mango, Coconut, Mint Chocolate and one of my personal favourites - the Holiday Blend. As a bonus, they can turn any flavour of tea into a latté by steaming milk and adding a bit of sugar or sweetener. Although their specialty is tea, they also serve a variety of other warm drinks like hot chocolate (with different flavours), cappuccinos, mochas and espresso. Their cold drink menu is also quite extensive but I’ll save that for another week!

Not only does Chai serve some of the most delicious teas, they also have a large selection of desserts such as cupcakes, cookies, biscotti and my favourite, macarons! Their desserts are a perfect study snack or can even be packaged to go and given as a gift. Chai also sell accessories like teapots, tea infusers and travel mugs, which would also make great gifts for others (or yourself). My favourite gift to give though is a pack of 6 macarons with a tin of tea. You can choose any flavour of tea to be packaged in either a 50g, 100g, or 150g gorgeous tin which makes a great hostess gift.

In addition to its convenient location (Parc and Milton), Chai is currently offering extended hours during exam time so take advantage of this! A huge bonus is that the owner of Chai is also the owner of El Mundo, a café next door that services delicious soups and sandwiches. If you get hungry while studying you can order from the El Mundo menu and have it brought right to your table at Chai. Who wouldn’t want to go study there?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Dotted Accent Nail

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Great Scent Search

Finding a fragrance that’s right for you can be a rather overwhelming process – especially if you walk into a department store and multiple sales people start attacking you with bottles. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you get the most out of scent shopping.

1.    Try to go to a perfumery that specializes in helping you find the right scent. Search your area for a perfumery of apothecary and if you can’t find one then opt for the nearest department store. It’s worth searching for one because the people who work in a perfumery or apothecary tend to be very passionate about what they do. You want that when you invest in an expensive bottle of bliss! I go to Etiket in Montreal. Usually whoever is working there will ask you some questions about what you typically find yourself attracted to (if you don’t know they’ll help you figure it out!) and then they’ll walk you through variations in that fragrance family.

2.   Be Open! Some commonly used notes in perfumes come loaded with assumptions (old ladies wear roses, hippies wear patchouli, musk is dirty). Perfume is a complex and subtle art. One material used in one way will not even slightly resemble the same material used in another composition. Forget what you think you know and let yourself get lost in the smell.

3.   Use the little paper tabs that are provided. It is of course important to spray a perfume on your skin, but until you find one you’re really excited about and potentially want to purchase, you should only spray the tabs. When you spray the perfume on the tabs, avoid making contact with your nose. The scent will stay on your skin as you’re smelling every other fragrance.

4.   Don’t smell coffee beans, smell yourself! The best way to neutralize your nose is to smell your own care skin. It sounds silly but I usually smell my elbow or my shoulder because I don’t wear perfume there. It works a lot better than coffee beans because the beans confuse my nose!

5.    Lean about different notes. Everybody’s chemistry is a little different so you can’t make a general statement about top, middle and base notes. Typically, the top note is the first thing you smell when you spray or dab perfume on the skin. It lasts about 5-15 short minutes so enjoy it! Next you’ll get the middle of “heart” notes, which last about 30-45 minutes. Base notes give a fragrance its depth.

Of course, everyone’s tastes and preferences are different so I encourage you to be really patient and open-minded when scent shopping. I’ve learned that fragrances are a really important accessory. They leave a lasting impression on people you meet and can also evoke memories. My scent search was so fun at Etiket and it’s not over yet! I always love trying new fragrances and even try to change them up by season. I hope your search is as fun as mine is. Good luck!

Originally Posted on The Beauty Department

Monday, November 11, 2013

Movember Pastels

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Le Magasin Général du Vieux Montreal

Montreal is a gorgeous city filled with young professionals, students and of course visitors. One of my favourite things to do here is to host family and friends that come to Montreal for a visit. It’s a great chance for me to explore more of the city, find hidden gems and sites, and of course spend time with those I care about!

My most recent visitor was my cousin, S. Together we toured the McGill campus, went shopping, hit the town and of course explored all the beautiful sites of Old Port. While we were in Old Port we stumbled across a cute store right by the water called Le Magasin Général du Vieux Montréal on Rue de la Commune. This market had gorgeous trinkets and treasures that included but were not limited to jewelry, home decorations and unique gifts.


In the back of the store we found a little café-like bistro that served everything from hors d’oeuvres, wine, soups, sandwiches, desserts and of course coffee! All of their food was homemade and seasonal! We started with bruschetta as an appetizer and then I ordered a chai latté and S ordered a glass of warm milk with butterscotch flavouring. It was the perfect afternoon snack to tie us over until dinner, and our drinks warmed us up after the chilly walk through Old Port.

Although Le Magasin du Vieux Montréal opened in 2010 the bistro only opened in 2013. The bistro is a beautiful yet small space with exposed brick and a grand piano in the corner giving it a very cozy and rustic feel. It was filled with couples, friends and families all stopping in for a snack after their shopping. It’s never too early to start thinking about Christmas shopping and this boutique is definitely a good place to check for those family members who are harder to pick gifts for! Le Magasin du Vieux Montréal has everything you could possibly be looking for!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Black and Silver Glitter Base Line

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Rancé II: Le Vainqueur

Last week I wrote about Eugénie – my favourite women’s fragrance in the Rancé collection. This week I explored the men’s fragrances at Etiket in pursuit of some gift ideas. I was drawn to the men’s fragrances especially in Rancé’s Imperial Collection. My pick is Le Vainqueur, a gorgeous yet strong scent.

This fragrance was created in 1805 by François Rancé himself. It was crafted as a dedication to Napoleon in his success. This woodsy scent is perfectly balanced with citrus and floral notes to create a fresh, Mediterranean fragrance.

Head Notes: Grapefruit, Bergamot, Ginger, Melon, Watermelon, Italian Mandarin

Heart Notes: Lavender, Geranium, Lily of the Valley, Nutmeg, Calabrian Jasmine

Base Notes: Sandalwood, Vetiver, Florentine Iris, Leather, Ambergris, Musk

 Le Vainqueur is a fragrance about success. It is full of spirit and confidence – a perfect choice for a businessman. The gorgeous obelisk bottle captures victory itself.  Similar to the other Rancé perfumes, Le Vainqueur has a long life and changes once the notes open. Discover Rancé at here.

The spirit of all Rancé perfumes reflect tradition, innovation and naturalness.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Special: Cleopatra's Hieroglyphics

Monday, October 28, 2013

Matte Top Coat: Superhero Blue

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Rancé: Eugénie

The origin of perfume can be traced all the way back to the 1600s, when it was first created for the French Royals. Marie Antoinette could not stand the smell of other people, so she would spray scents on her gloves and smell them when she found herself in a large crowd of unpleasant smelling people.

The Rancé family became famous for being one of the first in France to produce perfumed gloves for the French Aristocracy in Grasse. In 1975, François Rancé turned his focus entirely to perfumery and he quickly became Napoleon’s favourite perfumer. During his time, he created personalized scents for the Empereur such as “Le Vainqueur”, “Triomphe” and “L’Eau de Austerliz” which are still in production today. In honour of Josephine Bonaparte he created “l’Impératrice”.

My favourite women’s fragrance in the Imperial Collection is Eugénie – a scent named after the Empress Eugénie who won over France and the whole of Europe with her charm, her smile, and her elegance.

Head notes: Blackcurrent, Lily of the Valley, Mandarin, White Flowers, Ylang-ylang, Bergamot, Melon and Passion Fruit

Heart Notes: Neroli, Rose Absolute, Peach, Violet Leaves, Grasse Jasmine, Magnolia

Base Notes: Florentine Iris, Sandalwood, Oak Musk, Ambergris, Vanilla, Vetiver

This fragrance is very feminine and subtle although it changes throughout the day, which I find very complex yet amazing. My favourite part is after the opening as the middle and base notes take over. Initially I didn’t like the scent on me, but as the day continued Eugénie turned into a very tasteful floral scent. This powerful scent lasted all day and I could still smell it as I got ready for bed at the end of the night. Patience is key when trying this perfume!

The spirit of all Rancé perfumes reflect tradition, innovation and naturalness.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Classic French Manicure

Sunday, October 20, 2013


My friend suggested a new café called Résonance in the Mile End area and after a quick google search I was sold! This laid back café opened last September. Its specialties include a wide selection of vegan breakfast and lunch foods such as gluten-free muffins, soups, sandwiches and chili. The menu also includes a variety of tea flavours and coffee all clearly displayed on a chalkboard menu.

I wanted to order something seasonal on this gorgeous fall day so I asked the barista for a suggestion. He made me an amazing Roobois Latté. It was perfectly sweetened with just the right amount of foam on top and the best part was that it was caffeine free!

Résonance was filled with students doing homework and couples catching up on some good books – it was tricky finding a seat on a Sunday afternoon! I loved the location and the laid back atmosphere. Every night Résonance hosts a different jazz musician and opens up their menu to include drinks. If breakfast and lunch isn’t your thing then I’d suggest coming in the evening for a drink and some live music. I know I will definitely be back to experience Résonance at night!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving: Maroon and Gold

Sunday, October 13, 2013

What's the Difference Between Eau de Parfum and Eau de Toilette?

Eau de Parfum and Eau de Toilette are two terms that perfume makers use to denote the concentration and strength of a fragrance. The scent from perfumes comes from fragrance oils, which are then dissolved in alcohol or water (or sometimes both). The concentrates are determined by how much fragrance oil to alcohol/water content is contained within the bottle.

Eau de Parfums (EDP) contain between 12% and 18% perfume oil. On application, the top notes are released, but amazingly, over 20-30% of the fragrance with remain noticeable up to 18/24 hours later. If you want a fragrance that lasts, this is the type of formulation to buy. It is best to apply Eau de Parfum where the blood beats the closest to the skin – pulse points, wrists, collarbone, décoletté, throat, inner thighs, and around the ankles.

Tip: Avoid applying an Eau de Parfum behind the ears, as there are glands there which can affect the settling of the scent.

Eau de Toilettes (EDT) contain the same ingredients as Eau de Parfums, but the fragrance level is lower. The perfume oil content is between 8% to 10%. Eau de Toilettes have a lighter scent that does not last as long, they were originally designed as refreshing body splashes to help people wake up, as part of their morning toilette.

Colognes are traditionally a more masculine product, although this is changing and they are now widely used by women. Colognes are similar in composition to Eau de Parfums and Eau de Toilettes have a fragrance level between 8% and 10%.

While there are generally agreed upon concentrations, some perfume houses will sometimes adjust the amounts of fragrance oils for certain notes in their EDT and EDP versions, causing the two concentrations to smell different instead of just stronger or weaker.

In addition to this there is sometimes confusion surrounding Colognes vs. Perfumes. Most think that cologne is a word used to refer to men’s fragrances but sometimes Cologne can be used in reference to Eau de Cologne concentration and these fragrance can be unisex. For example, Atelier Cologne’s Cologne Absolue Collection has very highly concentrated formulas with distinctive and long-lasting sillage. Sillage is a French word, meaning wake (of a ship) or trail and refers to the scent you leave behind as you move around. Fragrances which are said to have “good sillage” means that they linger around the person wearing them. The amount sillage depends on the quality and type of fragrance as well as your own body chemistry and where you place the scent.

When purchasing your next fragrance, keep in mind that generally speaking, the more expensive the fragrance, the greater percentage of fragrance oils and the longer lasting the scent. Whether you choose to wear an EDT, EDP or Cologne is merely a matter of taste and desired concentration.

Originally Published On: The Etiket Insider