Kala Wearable Art: Scarves That Change The Look Of An Outfit

Kala Wearable Art Scarf
Kala Wearable Art Scarf in Silk/Modal

I consider myself to be a conservative dresser: classic, simple, easy style. One of the best ways to dress up a plain outfit is to reach for a scarf. I have quite a collection of fashion scarves that I tend to wear with plain t-shirts, sweaters, and blazers. And, yes, they’re mainly in blues and browns!

Recently, I had the chance to sit down with the designer and owner of Kala Wearable Art, a Canadian-based company that makes beautiful, hand-crafted scarves using premium quality natural fibers. After seeing the extensive collection of Kala scarves, it didn’t take me long to consider stepping outside of my comfort zone in terms of color and design.

The word ‘kala’ comes from the Hindi language and refers to the performing arts. Designed in Canada and manufactured in India of fine fabrics like cashmere from India, silk from China, and wool from Australia, Kala scarves are indeed works of art.

The designer finds inspiration from nature, travel, outings such as a visit to a butterfly conservatory, and from observing the colors and tones people wear. After the designs are conceived, they’re digitally captured and prepared for the artisans in India. The designer then travels to India to decide on the best fabrics on which to place her designs.

Some scarves are screen printed, some are digitally printed, and some are hand painted — the latter ensuring that each scarf is a one-of-a-kind piece. Some scarves are tie-died and some use similar techniques like batik and shiburi. Others are adorned with French lace or Swarovski crystals. Only high end fabrics are used such as lightweight cashmere, wool, silk/modal blends, silk/wool combinations, and linen. Each hand-painted scarf is therefore a unique piece of art on a luxury fabric.

When I went to look at the wide collection of scarves, I had a hard time choosing my favorites from all of the beautiful design and fabric combinations. The one thing I learned was to step outside of my comfort zone in terms of color and pattern.

Kala Wearable Art Scarf
Kala Wearable Art Scarf

Naturally, I gravitated towards a blue ombre scarf in navy, black, and blue. I liked that there were a bunch of colors in this silk/wool scarf and that it added a touch of elegance to a plain wool sweater.

Kala Wearable Art Scarf
Kala Wearable Art Scarf in Silk/Wool

Then I looked at a light blue, net-like print on a cream background which I also loved. The fabric, 20% silk and 80% modal, is very soft to the touch and has an airy feel making it easy to loosely style around the neck. The flowy fabric also lends itself to a simple draping around the neck, with the scarf cascading down past the jacket or top you’re wearing.

Kala Wearable Art Scarf in Silk/Modal
Kala Wearable Art Scarf in Silk/Modal
Kala Wearable Art Scarf
Kala Wearable Art Scarf in Silk/Modal

Kala Wearable Art ScarfKala Wearable Art ScarfThe designer also made this pattern in a yellow and cream combination. Because I wear lots of navy, the yellow was the perfect complement. It felt great to wear a pop of unexpected color against a classic navy leather jacket. Swapping in different scarves changed the mood of a classic jeans and leather jacket outfit.

What I loved the most about these luxury scarves is the quality of the fabrics and their unique designs. Look for these scarves in high-end boutiques in the US and Canada and follow along on both my Instagram and Kala’s Instagram, for more inspiration.

Kala Wearable Art Scarf
Kala Wearable Art Scarf in Silk/Modal

Kala Wearable Art ScarfKala Wearable Art ScarfKala Wearable Art ScarfKala Wearable Art ScarfKala Wearable Art ScarfI’ll be writing another post soon on monochromatic layering with a linen scarf, so stay tuned.

How do you use fashion scarves to change the look of an outfit?

This post was created in partnership with Kala Wearable Art; all opinions are my own.

[Jacket: Michael Kors; Sweater: Banana Republic; Shoes: Stuart Weitzman]

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The Structured Spring Cardigan

Structured Cardigan by Autumn CashmereIt’s that time of year when you don’t know what to wear: spring. We get bits and pieces of spring in between cold and rainy days, when the weather doesn’t know what to do. But, in Toronto, when spring actually comes, it typically lasts all of 3-4 weeks in a row.

If you’re like me, your closet is set up for one season or another. In the Fall, I put away my warm weather clothing in the basement. Because I’m always cold, my winter clothing consists of lightweight, long-sleeved t-shirts and a sweater or blazer. For six months of the year, I have to wear two long-sleeved layers of clothing, including some kind of wool top. So, when it’s those in-between temps like we’re having now, I find myself turning to thin wool sweaters or thick cotton sweaters.

Structured Cardigan by Autumn CashmereThat’s where the cardigan in this post comes in. It’s a thick-knit cotton cardigan so it has some structure and weight and acts as a blazer-like top, giving the outfit a smart casual look. It’s perfect for wearing now. It might be hard to tell in the photos, but it’s all navy, except for the black 2-inch detailing around the neck, sleeves, and placket. The two-toned knit makes it easy to pair the cardigan with jeans, navy, or black pants.

Structured Cardigan by Autumn CashmereStructured Cardigan by Autumn CashmereStructured Cardigan by Autumn CashmereI’m wearing this with an oxford faux wrap tie top. It’s a ‘faux’ wrap in that the ties in the front are just for decoration. They’re sewn into the side seams of the shirt and you tie them in the front. Otherwise, the shirt is a full button-down under the ties. You may have seen this faux wrap style on other items of clothing this past winter, like sewn into sweaters or dresses. And, you’ll see it in summer clothing as well. It’s kind of a fun detail.

Structured Cardigan by Autumn CashmereAs the weather warms up, I know I’ll be wearing this cardigan with t-shirts and tank tops. I can’t wait!

What do you reach for this time of year as the weather gets warmer?

(Cardigan: Autumn Cashmere; Faux-wrap top: H&M)

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Rice Krispies Treats With Froot Loops

Rice Krispies Treats
Rice Krispies Treats With Froot Loops

There are a few treats that remind me of my childhood, and Rice Krispies Treats is one of them. When I was a kid, I went to school on a trimester system. That means we went to school for 12 weeks at a time, then had a 5 week ‘intersession’ period.

During one intersession, I took a baking class. I was 9 or 10 years old. That class is what started me on my lifelong baking adventure. My mom’s an amazing baker (and cook and entertainer…) and I used to watch her bake all the time. But, at the intersession class, I was the one baking and creating – on my own!

The first item we made was Rice Krispies Treats. They’re simple and fun. With all the sweet and bran-type cereals that followed Rice Krispies, I must admit that I don’t often choose Rice Krispies as my breakfast cereal. This means I usually buy a box of Rice Krispies, just to make the Treats. They’re so easy and quick to make, and everyone loves them. They’re the perfect snack for school or travel, too.

Rice Krispies TreatsOne day, I was talking to a friend on the phone, and I must’ve been making Rice Krispies Treats. She asked if I had ever made them with Froot Loops. No, I hadn’t, but I love my treats super sweet, so I had to try her recipe.  All I had to do was substitute in some Froot Loops for some of the Rice Krispies! That’s all.

Have you ever tried that? Ever since my friend told me about these substitutions, I’ve never made plain Rice Krispies Treats. I think I’ve even made them with Cap’n Crunch cereal. The variations are endless…

Rice Krispies TreatsHere’s the link to the original Rice Krispies Treats recipe.

And, here’s the recipe, adjusted for Froot Loops:

Rice Krispies Treats With Froot Loops

1/4 c butter or margarine
5 cups mini marshmallows (or 40 regular ones)
4 cups Rice Krispies
2 cups Froot Loops

  • In a large saucepan, melt the butter over low heat
  • Add the marshmallows and stir until melted
  • Remove from heat and add in the cereal, stirring until coated
  • Press into a 9 by 13 inch buttered pan
  • Cool and cut into bars

BTW, in Canada, these Treats seem to be called ‘Squares’! I didn’t really know that until I did some research for this post.

Tip: When you’re making these, spread the mixture in the pan as best you can with a spatula or spoon. Wait a few minutes, then use a clean spatual to spread and smooth them out. The mixture is less sticky if you wait 3-4 minutes.

Rice Krispies TreatsRice Krispies TreatsRice Krispies TreatsLet me know if you like your Rice Krispies Treats plain or with a mixture of cereals.

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Wax Coated Pants Perfect For Spring

Wax coated pantsIt’s technically spring in North America, but the temperatures outside tell me we’ve got a few more weeks to go before we can wear short-sleeved clothing without a jacket. In the interim, a blazer and wax coated pants are the perfect pairing for this weather.

This navy blazer is a classic. It’s from J. Crew and it’s their ‘Schoolboy’ blazer, now available as their ‘Rhodes‘ blazer. It’s wool, lined, has gold buttons, and can be dressed up or down. I love that it’s wool because it keeps me warm on cool spring days – yet it’s not bulky. I also love that it’s a petite size, so no alterations were necessary. The sleeve and jacket length were just right.

These wax coated pants, though, are one of my go-to wardrobe items, especially in changing weather. They’re Canadian-made by a Montreal-based, socially conscious company called I Love Tyler Madison. I think the best part about these pants is that they’re pull-on, with no zippers or buttons. The founders of this company love that these pants work for many body types and I agree with them. I’ve seen them on others and they look great.

I’ve styled the pants with an untucked oxford shirt under my favorite blazer for a casual yet chic look. Adding pearls makes the outfit that much dressier, as do high-heeled boots. You could remove the pearls, add a scarf, and wear casual boots or flats for a less formal look. You could also take the look to a very casual level by wearing a t-shirt and sneakers.

Although these pants remind me of leather pants, they’re really not comparable. They’re made of rayon and a hint of stretch that is wax coated. It’s a lot easier to wear them without worrying about being too careful. They also come in a cropped version and lighter colors, just in time for the warmer weather.

So, what do you think? Have you worn wax coated pants? I’d love to know what you think.

Happy Spring!

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Always With Love

It’s Valentine’s Day and last year I wrote a post (link here) about why I’m okay with Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day is as good a day as any to talk about love because every day is a good day to talk about love. But, what is love, really? It’s lots of things and it’s about describing how you feel about lots of things. It’s about falling in love with a person or your first-born child. It’s about loving something inanimate like your first home. It’s about forgiving people and accepting them for who they are, and that, to me, is the most important part.

The title of this post comes from my Dad, who, since I’ve become a parent, has repeated to me: ‘always with love’. By this, he refers to how I parent, discipline, guide, and teach my kids things. It’s so hard to be patient, to forgive the things your kids say to you or about you. It’s so hard to punish or tell a child you don’t approve of what they’re doing, nicely. But, that’s what you have to do, and, to do it properly, you have to do it with love.

‘Always with love’ means that you don’t speak until you’ve figured out the nicest, most constructive way to say something. As someone who’s extroverted and talks a lot, my mouth talks way faster than my brain thinks sometimes. And, that’s not good when you’re a parent who wants to have the best impact in the little time you have to say something, especially when we’re talking about teens. One of my dear friends has taught me one magical phrase that works really well. She recommends starting a sentence with ‘I wonder…’ This is such a great way to start a sentence because it’s not judgmental, accusatory, or demanding. I love it and I try to use it as much as I can. It’s also a kinder way to get a conversation started, and fits perfectly with the ‘always with love’ approach. It’s just a softer way to start a conversation.

I’ve been parenting for a while now and I’m still learning. But, the greatest ‘a-ha’ moment for me has come recently when I realized that the best thing I can do is to show someone that I love them. That sounds so obvious, but, like I said, when you’re parenting, you sometimes think being tough is the way to go and sometimes that concept comes at the expense of love because you think the two can’t go together. They can, it’s about how you approach things, your attitude, and the end goal, which is to have a close, loving relationship with someone.

So, I leave you with excerpts from one of my favorite Bible passages, from Corinthians, that my Dad chose for our wedding. I’m sure this is the basis for his phrase ‘always with love’ and I’m glad he’s always reminding me about it:

‘Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing…Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.’

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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A Winter For Chelsea Boots

It’s been a relatively mild winter in Toronto this year, which means it’s been an interesting season for wearing winter boots.

If you don’t live in a very cold and snowy climate, then you might not understand that one usually has an assortment of winter boots. For example, you have your ‘snow’ boots, which are higher, warmer, waterproof, and come with a tread sole. You need snow boots for when it’s snowing, when you’re shovelling snow, and when you have to walk on the snow-covered sidewalks, streets, or ravine paths.

But, when it’s cold and dry and the sidewalks aren’t snow-covered, your boot options are practically endless. Translation: you can wear fashion boots! This means the boot can have a smooth sole, be made out of suede or leather, and be as impractical as you want. This is where my obsession for Chelsea boots comes in.

The Chelsea boot is an ankle high boot with elastic side panels, as well as a tab on the back of the boot for easy wear. According to Wikipedia, Chelsea boots were patented by Queen Victoria’s shoemaker in 1851, and meant to be a practical shoe. The boots became known as Chelsea boots in the 1950s and 60s when they were popular in the Chelsea part of London. The Beatles and many rock stars have worn them.

Over the years, I’ve owned a few pairs of Chelsea boots, especially as rain boots. The elastic side panels make it easy to put the boots on and off and the ankle height means they’re easy to wear with pants or jeans. This year, I bought two pairs of everyday Chelsea boots, with a thick, tread sole. They’re the same style because I fell in love with the boots and asked the store to make me another pair in another color. Yup, that happened.

The Chelsea boots in these photos are comfortable and so easy to slip on and off. They’re sleek and form-fitting. They have a wing-tip detail as well as a patent, smooth, and suede leather mix. I love the thick sole because I feel secure in the mild winter weather, even when it snows. They’re almost the only boots I’ve been wearing these days.

Chelsea boots come in all kinds of heel heights, materials, colors, soles, and styles. The popular Blundstones are a sturdy, casual style. Other than with jeans, the more ‘casual chic’ and dressier Chelsea boots can be worn with suits, skirts, and dresses. I’m usually in denim, so I go for the casual look most days.

Here are a few examples of the wide variety of Chelsea boots that you can wear all year round.

Let me know what you think of Chelsea boots, and, fingers crossed, I hope I haven’t jinxed our mild-ish winter!

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Floral Dressing In The Middle Of Winter

It’s the middle of winter in the northern hemisphere, and, in Toronto, it’s been an interesting one. One week, it’s below zero, and the next two weeks it’s mild, rainy, and cloudy. I’m not one to complain about warmer temps in the winter, so I’m good. One of the ways to enjoy the winter months is to surround yourself with beautiful things, like flowers!

The pants in this post are so much fun because they’re winter pants with sedate flower patterns, giving one a little pick-me-up this time of year. Every time I’ve worn these pants, I get unsolicited compliments. That’s my favorite kind of compliment!

Floral designs on clothing are usually associated with warmer weather, but they don’t have to be. The fall and winter runways and stores showcased florals everywhere. And, they’re a big trend for spring.

These poly-knit stretch trouser pants are black, with navy and burgundy flowers and dark mustard accents. If you know me, you know I don’t wear black much at all, but the navy in these pants made it easy. That’s because I already own navy accessories, handbags, and shoes!  To keep things light, I chose a grey sweater and added a navy handbag and boots.  With the pants being the center of attention, it’s easy to find a top because a plain colored sweater or blouse would match. Pretty simple.

What do you think? Do you like and wear floral pieces in the winter?

I’ve linked a few items here, in case you’d like to try the trend:

(pants: Cambio; handbag: Banana Republic; boots: Paul Smith)

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The Chevrolet Volt And The Perks Of Going Electric

Do you have an electric or hybrid car? Have you ever thought about owning an electric car? My family doesn’t own one, but after recently test driving the Chevrolet Volt, I’m wondering why it’s taken me so long to seriously think about the perks of owning an electric car.

We’re in a car industry revolution now, like it or not. The rules of the game in vehicle technology and how we think about transportation in general have changed significantly over the last few years.

Not only do we have connected cars, but automated or self-driving cars are here, with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers forecasting 75% of cars on the road will be automated by 2040. And, electric cars are becoming easier and more economical to own, in part due to advances in clean energy, increased battery life, and wider availability of charging stations in buildings and malls.

Given all of these exciting advancements, my husband and I were definitely interested in test-driving the latest Chevrolet Volt at Hogan Chevrolet, in Scarborough, Ontario.

Hogan Chevrolet, Scarborough, Ontario. Photo by SweetLifeStyle.ca
Hogan Chevrolet, Scarborough, Ontario
Photo by SweetLifeStyle.ca

About The Chevrolet Volt

The award-winning Volt, although technically a hybrid, runs on an electric motor and gets additional energy it needs from the gas-powered generator (detailed specs here).

We test drove the Volt Premier which operates with elements of automated technology such as Side Blind Zone Alert with Lane Change Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Lane Keep Assist. These are fancy ways of saying that the car’s technology is scanning the area for potential accidents, which made us feel safer. We actually liked the red lights in the side mirrors checking our blind spot and helping us switch lanes safely.

Driving and Pricing the Chevrolet Volt

Although our drive was on a typical snowy Canadian day, we felt it was ideal for testing the Volt’s performance.

The first thing we noticed is that the Volt’s beautiful blue color added to its compact, sleek look. When we got in, we felt like we were in a sports car because the car was somewhat low to the ground. With the engine on, the Volt is very quiet and you wonder if it’s running. The dashboard is actually a screen with very cool graphics, like a top-down view of the electric motor, and information about which energy source is being used to run the car. I could see myself wanting to keep the energy source electric at all times!

Photo by SweetLifeStyle.ca
Photo by SweetLifeStyle.ca

In terms of acceleration, the Chevy Volt was responsive, fast, and performed like a gas-powered car. You could’t tell it was an electric car, even at over 100 kms/hr on the highway!

The Volt took corners comfortably and we were impressed with how quickly and smoothly the brakes reacted on the snowy road surfaces. The car handled well and we felt in control, especially given the wet weather. Our very patient and knowledgeable salesman, Paul, explained that part of the appeal of the Volt is the regenerative braking which recharges the battery as you brake.

The interior of the car felt roomy, especially in front. The back seats are okay but only seat two people comfortably because the middle seat requires the third person to straddle the battery cover. I was very impressed with how spacious the trunk is and the two back seats fold down for more room.

The Volt Premier has an MSRP of C$42,490. With government incentives, the price is closer to $34,000 – higher than the average compact car. Our salesman told us that the cost to run the Volt on electric charge is about $30 a month. So, there are big savings. We currently spend about $3500 a year on gas, 10 times more than the electric running cost. You must factor this in when making a decision to purchase an electric car!

The Chevrolet Volt Customer

The Volt is a bought car. Buyers have done their homework and thought about their driving and charging needs carefully.  You need an outlet to charge the battery, so you need to live in a house or an equipped building. You also need to consider your daily driving needs. If you want to keep your drive electric, your daily round trip should be kept to 85 kms unless you’re headed to a place with a charging station.

What about a long trip or getting your Volt from one local electric driving area to another? With a total range of 672 kms, you could, under ideal driving conditions, take the Volt between Toronto and Montreal, without recharging, thanks to the gas-powered generator. That’s amazing. Purely electric cars just don’t have that range yet.

The best part of our test drive came at the end of our visit when a customer who already owned two Volts came over to tell us how much he and his daughter loved them. By the way, I just want to say here that we got the impression that customers were like family at Hogan because everyone seemed so friendly and wanted to talk! Anyway, this gentleman especially liked the low charging costs as well as the fewer gas station visits. He also drove his car regularly to the cottage, explaining that, even if the gas powered generator kicked in on the way to the cottage, once he reached his destination and charger, local trips would be back to electric power.

Owning a Chevy Volt gave this customer pride of being part of an  environmentally conscious community. There’s a non-profit organization called Plug ‘N Drive that helps customers set up their charging station at home and educates the public about the electric car industry. And, resources like the PlugShare app locate nearby charging stations.

The Bottom Line on the Chevrolet Volt

After this test drive, would I buy an electric car? Absolutely. The no-compromise handling, advanced features, and quiet operation of the Volt make it very attractive. An electric car would suit our needs as we are city drivers, 99% of the time.

The best part about owning an electric car, other than the $3200 I would save on gas, is being part of an environmentally savvy group of like-minded people who are proud to add new meaning to the concept of driving responsibly.

Our Chevrolet Volt test drive opened our eyes and mind to a new way of looking at transportation in general, and electric cars in particular. These are exciting times for the car industry, and I think we’ve only scratched the surface in terms of options, savings, and social responsibility!

This post was created in partnership with the friendly staff and customers at Hogan Chevrolet, but, as always, all opinions are my own. (Photos are taken from chevrolet.ca unless otherwise indicated.)

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Why Joe Fresh Is One of My Favorite Stores

I thought I’d write a quick post on Joe Fresh, a clothing retail store founded in 2006 in Canada. If you’re not familiar with Joe, let me place it for you. Joe Fresh stores are smaller than H&M and Uniqlo, but generally in the same price range and offerings, with Joe showing more collections per season.

I’ve been a bit obsessed with Joe lately because I scored a few great deals over the holidays and every time I wear them, I get lots of compliments.

So, I guess you could say that it’s convenient that there’s a Joe Fresh within a few kilometres of my house! A lot of the stores are located within or right next to Loblaw’s grocery stores in Ontario. This means you could be shopping for food when you come across the Joe Fresh section of the store, say, somewhere between the laundry detergent and canned goods. You take a peek at the seasonal clothing and you end up buying a new t-shirt for about $10. This isn’t a big purchase, doesn’t need a lot of thought, and doesn’t come with much guilt.

And, that’s the idea behind Joe Fresh: treat yourself to something fun, fashionable, and affordable!  Since its inception, Joe Fresh has grown to over 350 Canadian stores, plus a store in New York City, some in Mexico, and some in the Gulf states.

This past holiday season, I ended up buying a 100% cashmere crewneck pullover that was half price. I had first seen the sweater on Miranda Kerr, who was featured in Elle Canada magazine, as Joe Fresh’s face for the 2016 fall and holiday campaigns. When I went in to the store on Black Friday, the sales had begun and I got sucked in to looking around, not that it takes much to keep me in the store! Continue reading

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New Year’s Resolutions, Goals, or Both?

Happy New Year to all of my readers!

How do you feel about a new year? How do you feel about making New Year’s Resolutions? If you made any last year, did you keep them? Do you set New Year’s Goals as well?

To quickly answer these questions: I find new years and new beginnings to be generally exciting and hopeful. I’m okay with making some New Year’s Resolutions and managed to keep most of mine from 2016. As for New Year’s Goals, I think they’re as important as resolutions. When I asked my family if they thought there was a difference, we all agreed that resolutions are more like daily habits we want to work on while goals are longer term items we work towards that can be measured and tracked. (If you want to read more about setting goals, you can check out this link to the Mind Tools website.)

As I look back on 2016, I would say that I had a great year, for which I feel lucky given the many terrorist attacks and tragedies we saw. I traveled more than ever, which is a big deal for me as I overcame a lot of anxiety over traveling by plane. I caught up with more family and friends than ever, and I’m so happy about being in touch with them more regularly, thanks to social media and long distance conversations over the phone or WhatsApp. And, I got to spend time blogging, connecting with new people, and learning a lot about freelance writing.

I wrote about the resolutions I made for 2016 in a post you can read here. The 5 New Year’s Resolutions I set were:

  • Get more sleep
  • Be more forgiving
  • Be more positive
  • Waste less food
  • Eat more fruits

Continue reading

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