Celebrating Lunar New Year: Traditions, Outfits, & Gift Ideas

Chinese New Year V2

With Lunar New Year just around the corner, I’ve teamed up with CF Markville Mall to share some of my favourite ways to celebrate, as well as my personal connection to the holiday! As a second generation Chinese-Canadian (born and raised in Canada by my English-speaking parents), I was never fully immersed in Chinese culture growing up. Unlike most of the other Chinese kids I knew, I never learned to speak or write Chinese, and definitely identified as “Canadian” more than anything else.

Despite this, I could always count on my grandmother to keep some Chinese traditions alive for our family – Lunar New Year included. This was one time in the year where I felt truly connected to my Chinese culture: happily dressing up in red, having dinner with family, and exchanging lucky red pockets and candies. Lunar New Year marks the beginning of spring for many in various Asian cultures, and is all about bringing good luck and good fortune for the coming year. The multi-day long festival is based on the Chinese lunar calendar, and will begin this year on February 16th – the Year of the Dog.

My Lunar New Year Traditions

To celebrate, my family usually gets together on Lunar New Year’s Eve at my grandmother’s house for a traditional home cooked meal. This typically includes fish and dumplings, which signify prosperity. My grandma happens to be quite a superstitious lady, and I’ve adopted these Lunar New Year traditions over the years from her:

  • Wear red and gold to symbolize good fortune
  • Don’t sweep, clean or wash your hair on New Years Day, or you’ll sweep and wash away your good luck and fortune for the year!
  • Mandarin oranges are a food that brings good fortune – having the stem and leaves attached also represents long life

Lucky red pockets containing money are also given during Lunar New Year, typically from adults and married couples to the children in the family.

What I’m Wearing for Lunar New Year

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As I mentioned, red is a colour that symbolizes good luck in Chinese culture. Wearing a new outfit is also a popular tradition, as it represents the start of a new year (and a great excuse to go shopping!). I headed to CF Markville Mall to pick up a new lucky red outfit, and stumbled on this gorgeous dress from Zara.

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I’m actually not one to have a lot of bright red in my wardrobe (despite its popularity in fashion as of late) and opted for a darker burgundy shade for my outfit. I love the pretty ruffle details, as well as the touch of gold in the embroidered flowers – a colour that’s also considered to bring good luck.

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To add a pop of true red, I used a bright red polish and matte red lippie to finish the look.

My Lunar New Year Outfit and Gift Guide

Lunar New Year Gift Guide

  1. Aritzia Vivienne Dress in Lillooet

I love the simplicity of this little slip dress, and the bright, crimson colour. Pair it with a leather moto jacket, or over a t-shirt for an effortlessly cool vibe.

  1. Forever 21 Beaded Tassel Drop Earrings

These earrings definitely make a statement and are an easy way to instantly dress up any look. I love that the red tassels almost mimic the look of the decorative tassels on traditional Chinese lanterns.

  1. Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Beso

My all-time favourite red lippie, which I’m wearing it in the photos above. It’s a bold, flattering shade of red that works well on any skin tone – and the cool undertone makes teeth look super white.

  1. Essie Nail Polish in Ole Caliente

This is the nail polish equivalent to the lipstick above – a bold and flattering true red. I don’t usually rock a red polish, but when I do, it’s this one! Make sure to finish with a topcoat for a chip-free shine.

  1. Pandora Chinese New Year Charms

Pandora has released an entire collection in celebration of Lunar New Year, which includes these adorable Lantern, Ingot, and Lion Dance charms. I’m obsessed!

  1. Aldo Stessy Gold Pumps

I love the almost mirrored finish of these super-reflective gold heels! The pretty metallic hue is the perfect way to add a prosperous pop to your Lunar New Year look (or to any outfit!).

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If you’re looking for a fun way to celebrate (or you’re inspired to shop for any of these items), CF Markville will be holding a Lunar New Year celebration on Sunday, February 17th that will include exciting performances, live music, and a traditional lion dance!

I’m also holding a giveaway on my Instagram to help you celebrate – head to my page to enter for your chance to win a $500 Roots gift card + three Pandora charms! I’ll be at the mall on the 17th checking out all the festivities myself. Happy Lunar New Year and hope to see you there!

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2017 Year in Review

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Happy New Year! I can’t believe we’re officially into 2018 – the last bit of 2017 seemed to fly by, and we’re already halfway through January. I’m sorry I’ve been missing from the blog for the past little bit… balancing my full time job, blogging, Instagram and the holidays got a bit overwhelming for me in December. I decided to take some time off to really focus on spending time with family and friends, as well as to unplug for a bit to get back into a healthy and focused mind-set for the new year. With that in mind, I thought reflecting back on all the accomplishments, challenges, and fun I had in 2017 would be a perfect place to jump back in!

If I was to describe last year in one word, I would have to admit that “hectic” is the first thing that comes to mind. I spent a lot of time learning how to juggle my work (professional and personal) with my life – and while I’ve definitely started to get the hang of it, there’s still lots of room for improvement. 2018 will be all about balance for me: finding ways to be more motivated, efficient, and to make time to stand back and take care of myself when things start to get overwhelming. Although 2017 was a struggle at times, I also had some amazing experiences and made memories I’ll hold onto for years to come.

Here’s a quick recap of what I got up to in 2017:

I kicked work into overdrive

Apart from my full time job (I work in Digital Marketing for a print company in Toronto), I really focused on growing my Instagram last year! Thanks to the support of my awesome followers, I was lucky enough to be given many more opportunities in 2017 to work with some of my favourite brands, create content, and attend events I used to dream of being invited to. I would consider myself to be a quiet, more introverted person, so this really helped to bring me outside my comfort zone, to meet new people, and to even make a few new friends.

My best friend sent me to Coachella (!)

Coachella

As I’m sure many of you know, Lauren (aka LaurDIY) is someone I hold near and dear to my heart, and since going long distance with our friendship we haven’t been able to see each other as often. She surprised me in April by offering to bring me along with her to Coachella, and I nearly died of excitement. We took amazing Instas, celebrity spotted, tanned while eating avo toast by the pool, and spent some much needed quality time together. This was such a special and once in a lifetime opportunity that I’ll never forget, and will always be grateful for.

Celebrated my champagne birthday

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I turned 24 on August 24th last year, something that people refer to as your “champagne” birthday. I’m hoping this means 2018 will be my year (fingers crossed!), and I had a great time celebrating with my family and my closest friends. I’m reaching the age where getting older is starting to scare me more than excite me, but I know I still have a few years to figure out what I’m doing. Your 20’s are supposed to be some of the best years of your life, right? 

My boyfriend moved home

As some of you might know, my boyfriend and I were long distance for two years while he attended school in London, UK, after having been together since 2011. This was a huge change for us and definitely a challenge at times, but we found a way to make it work. I was SO happy to have him finally move home to Toronto in September, and have been treasuring every bit of face time we’ve had since then. Skype dates are great and all, but having him around to give me hugs IRL has been incomparable.

I travelled more

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2017 was the year for quick getaways! I *finally* was able to take a day trip to Tobermory, Ontario in the summertime (a place I’ve been dying to visit for years), and also went to visit my boyfriend while he was away for work in the summer in Scottsdale, Arizona. Scottsdale wasn’t a place that had ever been on my radar, but I actually loved it, even in the 40-degree heat! In the fall, my bf and I also spent a weekend in Montreal, which I think will be our new annual tradition.

Ended the year off right in Cuba

Cuba

If I could pick a way to spend the last week of every year, I would spend it on a beach, in a tropical location, with unlimited food and drinks! This is exactly how I ended 2017, with a trip to Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba. This was only my second all-inclusive vacation, and I had never travelled to Cuba before. The weather was amazing, the beach was stunning, and we didn’t end up having wifi, which was a blessing in disguise. Stay tuned for a full recap of the trip soon on the blog!

As for my goals for 2018, my blog and my Instagram are a huge source of joy and creativity in my life right now, and I would love to see that part of my life continue to grow this year. Part of that includes engaging more with all of you, showing more of my personality online, and getting to know you better. Whether that’s through comments and messages, Insta stories, or through video – I’m determined to find more ways to connect in an engaging and meaningful way.

My Must-Have Sleep Essentials

Pyjama Style

Sleeping is at the top of the list of my favourite activities – and I’m sure I’m not the only one! Lately this is even more the case with my uber-comfy Bloom mattress from Sleep Country. Whether I’m having an afternoon siesta, snacking and watching Netflix in bed, or even working from home, my bed definitely plays a central role in my day to day. One of the best parts of lounging in bed? Doing it in a pair of adorable PJs!

I’m a firm believer that even if you won’t be making a public appearance, you should be dressing in things that make you happy. Pyjamas exist first and foremost for your own enjoyment, and are the perfect outfit to express your personality. I’m more of a comfort over style kind of gal when it comes to sleepwear (no lacy slips for me please!), but I think it’s relatively easy to find a happy medium between comfy and cute.

I’ve rounded up a list of some of my favourite pyjama styles, as well as my must-have sleep essentials! Check them out below:

Classic Pyjamas:

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A classic striped PJ set is an absolute must for feeling put together, even when you’re just lounging around. These are my “going out” pyjamas – aka the ones I’ll bring to a sleepover with friends or to a PJ party. I love a set with short sleeves for warmer months, and a set with long sleeves (or even better, in flannel) for the winter.

Pictured: Pink Stripe – Forever 21, Blue Stripe – Victoria Secret

Fun Pyjamas:

Quirky-Pajamas

These are my everyday, go-to style of PJs. I love a fun print, bright colour, or clever graphic! Pyjamas are meant to be fun, and I love the touch of childish whimsy a graphic set adds to your life. Forever 21 usually has really affordable and cute styles available online – just make sure to scoop them up when you see them, as they sell out quickly.

Pictured: Citrus PJs – Forever 21, Cactus PJs – Forever 21

My Must-Have Sleep Accessories:

Sleep-Essentials

1. A Comfortable Robe

For some extra warmth and and a ton of added coziness, I love snuggling up in an fuzzy robe (bonus points if there’s a hood). Robes are also great to wrap up in after showers or when you need to leave your covers to hit the fridge for extra snacks.

Pictured: Victoria Secret Cozy Hooded Short Robe

2. Fuzzy Slippers

Fuzzy slippers serve double duty by keeping your feet both warm and clean. I love all the fun designs that have come out in stores recently, from unicorns to hamburgers, to these adorable Koala slippers!

Pictured: Forever 21 Koala Slippers

3. A Lovable Stuffie!

My kryptonite: stuffed animals. I can’t sleep without snuggling up to a stuffie, and this adorable one is marketed as a “pillow” – making it slightly more socially acceptable.

Pictured: Forever 21 Lil Angel Pillow

4. A Good Sleep Mask

Sleep masks are so underrated! I have trouble sleeping if the room isn’t completely dark, so these come in handy. Sleep masks are especially useful if you live in a downtown area with bright lights or want to sleep in past when the sun comes up.

Pictured: Aerie Day Off Sleep Mask

5. Cozy Socks

A great pair of cable knit slipper socks is another awesome footwear option to keep your tootsies warm, especially through the colder seasons. I love designs that include the anti-slip silicone dots on the bottom, to make sure you don’t slide or fall on tile or hardwood floors.

Pictured: Indigo Cable Knit Slipper Socks

Let me know in the comments below what you can’t sleep without! Are you a classic PJ or a fun, graphic tee kind of person?

 

Bedroom Décor Ideas: Cozy Corner Finds Under $30

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I’m super excited to announce that I’ve partnered with Sleep Country Canada for the launch of their Bloom mattress – a new “mattress-in-a-box” product that’s delivered to your door and blooms in only 15 seconds! As an advocate of all things convenient, I love the idea of a mattress that’s easy to set up, can fit into tight spaces (like up a flight of stairs or in the trunk of your car), and is super comfy to boot. You can view a video of me setting up my own mattress here.

To celebrate the launch, I’ll be doing a series of blog posts over the next few months highlighting different ways to decorate your bedroom, from the affordable cozy corner finds listed in this post, to simple DIYs you can use to spice up your space. I personally like to change up my decor quite frequently, so I love finding affordable ways to add a personal touch that won’t be hard to switch out over time.

All of the items in the photos below were under $30, including the pieces I used to serve as my bedside table! Keep scrolling to see more, and for a list of the products featured:

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Cozy Corner Finds

1. BEKVÄM Step Stool, IKEA ($19.99)

This step stool poses as the perfect faux bedside table – the steps serve as shelves, and for $20, it’s super affordable and low commitment. I had already had the stool in the birch coloured wood lying around the house, but actually would have preferred the white wood that’s currently available online.

2. VÄNSKAPLIG Cushion, IKEA ($9.99)

One of the easiest ways to personalize a space is to add accent pillows or cushions in fun shades and patterns. I love a great pop of colour and couldn’t resist this adorable heart shaped cushion I picked up at IKEA.

3. String Lights

A classic Pinterest bedroom staple! Any shape, size or style of string lights will instantly add a dreamy, cozy vibe to your corner. I just used a standard string of white Christmas lights that I already had on hand to dress up my area.

4. Mason Jar

There’s something about a mason jar that just has awesome aesthetic appeal. You can find them new for next to nothing at your local dollar store, or you can hunt for vintage jars (often tinged a pretty blue colour) at the flea market like I did. Use them as a vase for flowers, or fill them with fairy lights for a swoon-worthy nightlight.

5. Succulents

I love succulents! I actually scored the artificial one I used in the photos above from the Dollar Spot at Target, but you can find tons of cute options online for cheap. Whether plastic or the real deal, these little guys breathe life into your decor and provide a much needed dose of greenery.

6. Wooden Crate

This was the other piece that acted as a furnishing element of my setup. Wooden crates are super inexpensive at your local craft store and add a rustic chic touch to your design.

7. Faux Fur Throw

An easy way to make your cozy corner super comfy? Incorporating your favourite throws and blankets. Storing them beside your bed makes them easy to access while also prettying up the space. The one I featured is actually a faux fur rug that I like to keep clean and out of the way for flatlay backdrops!

8. My Cinema Lightbox Mini, Indigo ($29.50)

I’m totally loving the lightbox trend, and this mini model is only $30 at Indigo. Besides adding an awesome retro feel to your bedroom, the best part is that you can customize the message to say anything you’d like.

9. SMYCKA Artificial Leaf, IKEA ($9.99)

Another affordable way to add some greenery into your space, this artificial palm leaf is a great statement piece that will totally make you feel like you’re relaxing in a tropical destination.

10. Photos

Photos instantly personalize your bedroom, and surrounding yourself with pictures of the memories and people you love can really help build a positive environment. I’m a sucker for these little instant photos and the look of the classic Polaroid frame.

11. Your favourite coffee table books

Coffee table books serve double duty – practical to read, but also super pretty to look at! If you have a collection of your favourite books, your cozy corner is the perfect place to display them. I’ve been loving “Capture Your Style” by Aimee Song.

I’m really looking forward to continuing to decorate my space over the next few months, and hope you’ll be able to find some inspiration for your own bedrooms throughout the process! If you liked any of these ideas or have your own cozy corner favourites, let me know in the comment section below.

 

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Denim Day x GUESS

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Today is Denim Day: an international movement that began in LA in 1999 to raise awareness and end sexual violence. The campaign was originally started after a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court, where a rape conviction was overturned because the court felt that since the victim was wearing tight jeans, she must have helped her rapist remove her jeans, thereby implying consent.

Peace Over Violence started the Denim Day campaign to acknowledge and stand up to the sexual violence that happen globally each day – and to support survivors worldwide. In 2014, GUESS made Denim Day its first social cause marketing campaign, spreading the word about this issue to a worldwide audience. The tagline of the Denim Day campaign is powerful: “there is no excuse and never an invitation to rape”.

I’ve partnered with GUESS to contribute to this campaign by making a social statement with my fashion statement. Wearing denim has become a symbol of protest against destructive attitudes attached to sexual violence and its cause. Today I wear denim with a purpose – to stand in solidarity with those who have been affected by sexual violence.

Discussing sexual violence, domestic violence, and child abuse is often taboo, particularly with mine, and the younger generation. I think it’s important to open up a conversation to help those who may be suffering in silence or may not feel like they can come forward (anyone watching 13 Reasons Why?). I’m happy to be using my voice to shed light on this tough and important issue.

When I shot this outfit, I felt the beautiful blooms on the cherry blossom trees were the perfect fit to represent hope for a future. Spring signifies a fresh start, and also serves as a beautiful metaphor for the recovery and rebirth of those who survive sexual violence with the love and support of others.

See my Denim Day look below:

Denim Jacket – Guess / T-shirt – Wilfred Free, Aritzia / Jeans – J Brand / Shoes – Shellys

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2016 Year in Review

2016-review

2016 was a big year for me – I wasn’t feeling my best at the start of the year, which led to a few changes that I think really helped me with my personal growth. When the beginning of a new year draws closer and I start to think about my goals for the coming year, I always find myself hoping for the same results: to be more confident in myself and to take more risks. I think I made some major strides this year on that front, which I’m proud of! I was also able to travel to a few awesome places, started a new adventure (hello angelachauxo.com!), all while working my full time job.

Here’s a recap of the major highlights of my 2016:

I focused on getting in shape (somewhat)

I’m probably the least athletic person I know – I’ve never been into sports, never cared for exercise, and have an unhealthy obsession with food to boot. My low point at the beginning of the year is actually what motivated me to take little steps towards a healthier lifestyle. I needed something to strive towards and to keep me preoccupied, so I started being conscious of what I ate and exercising regularly, and was able to lose 10lbs over the course of a few months!

Visited the most magical place on Earth

disneyworld

I visited my favourite place on the planet in March – Disney World in Orlando, FL. My family visited Disney World almost every summer of my childhood, but I will never get tired of eating Mickey ice cream bars and watching the “Wishes” fireworks at night from Main Street USA.

Chopped my hair off!

My long hair had always been my security blanket – I never trusted anyone to touch it and would only get it cut every 1-2 years. But when spring rolled around, I had a sudden urge to make a drastic change and decided to cut 12 inches off in favour of a lob. I don’t regret my decision and I’ve probably saved hundreds of hours in hair washing, drying and styling time.

Went camping for the first time

sandbanks

In addition to being the least athletic person I know, I’ve also had a lack of certain life experiences including going to the cottage and camping. I was able to check the latter of my list in 2016 with a two day trip to Sandbanks, ON. I survived sleeping in a tent and totally recommend visiting this beautiful part of Ontario – the beaches are stunning and the water is crystal clear!

Had a year full of weddings

It was a year for weddings! I took a quick trip to San Fran in June for my cousin’s wedding, and also attended another cousin’s wedding in Toronto earlier in May. In the fall one of my coworkers was married, and the year rounded out with my eldest sister tying the knot in an intimate ceremony at City Hall!

Visited beautiful Barcelona, Spain

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This may have been my favourite trip of the year – my boyfriend and I ended the summer with a trip to Barcelona. This was such a beautiful city and the perfect mix of historic European culture and picturesque beaches. You can read my Barcelona travel guide here.

Started my blog!

This is one of my favourite accomplishments of 2016 – finally taking the plunge and starting my blog. I was also able to work with some awesome brands (hi Tim Hortons!) on my Instagram channel throughout the year, which really gave me the push I needed to start this site and share more of my life with you.

Finished the year with a trip to London, UK

london

My boyfriend and I have been officially long distance since September, as he’s finishing a year of school in the UK. I took the opportunity to visit him in December and got an insider’s look at the bustling city! The holidays are such a beautiful time to visit London, with beautiful twinkling lights lining every street you pass. I’ll be posting my guide to visiting London soon!

Overall, 2016 was a great year and I’m so excited to see what 2017 brings.

 

 

 

Last Minute Holiday Gifts for Her

The holidays are here, which means crowded malls and a last minute rush to pick up the perfect gift! To make your life a bit easier, I’ve rounded up my picks for the perfect gifts for her this season:

Under $50:

Diptyque Candle ($45)

diptique-candle

A Diptyque candle is an essential for any girl who loves to pamper herself! They not only fill the room with a beautiful scent, but also add an extra classy touch as a home décor piece. Baies (rose & black current) is a popular scent that’s sure to please.

S’well Water Bottle (17 oz. $50)

swell-bottle

This brand of stylish stainless steel water bottles has become popular over the past couple of years, and for good reason. It promises to keep drinks cold for 24 hours, and hot for 12 hours, while eliminating the need for environmentally harmful plastic water bottles. I love the cute palm leaf pattern on this design!

Alex & Ani Bracelet ($34)

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Alex & Ani makes affordable, simple jewelry with a wide variety of designs to suit any girl’s personal style. Known best for their adjustable charm bracelets (featuring different symbols, each with their own meaning), you can select a design that will hold relevance to your loved one’s own life and style.

2017 Agenda ($20)

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What better way to start the New Year than with an adorable agenda? Help your loved one stay organized and plan their goals for 2017 with this stylish yet functional gift. I love the agendas from ban.do because of their fun designs (stickers included!), plus the coil bound format lays flat when open for easy writing.

Striped Scarf ($30)

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Keep your girl warm for the winter with a cozy blanket scarf! Zara offers affordable options for a wide variety of scarves available in different styles, patterns and colours. This striped design is classic and chic, and the neutral colours will go with everything.

Cute Cacti or Succulents ($30)

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Plants are a great gift, as they can last for years if properly cared for. Cacti or succulents are extremely low maintenance and look so cute placed on a desk or bookshelf. Wild North Flowers in Toronto offers variations in concrete planters made by Your Pal, Al and are accented with gold!

Under $100

Fujifilm Instax Mini ($100, currently on sale for $80)

instax-mini

The perfect gift for someone who loves to take photos, the Instax Mini is a modern take on the polaroid camera, creating wallet sized instant prints! The camera is available in a number of different pastel hues, which you can pair with different film designs.

Aromatherapy Diffuser ($75)

diffuser

A diffuser is another gift for the girl who loves to treat herself, but can also have added health benefits! Diffusing essential oils can keep you feeling great, while also making the house smell like a spa. Saje Wellness offers several different diffuser designs, as well as essential oils. This gold version doubles as a cool, decorative accent.

Victoria Secret Flannel PJ Set ($75, currently on sale for $55)

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A classic for the winter time, a Victoria Secret pyjama set is all a girl needs to have the perfect day relaxing in bed. Flannel is warm and cozy for colder weather, and the matching eye mash is an adorable bonus.