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

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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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Terre Bleu Lavender Farm

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Back in the summer, my sister and I drove out to Terre Bleu Lavender Farm in Campbellville, Ontario after I had noticed a steady stream of stunning photos at the location popping up on my Instagram feed. A quick drive from Toronto, it was the perfect summer day trip and we had a lovely time exploring the fields and snapping photos. We arrived on the earlier side to avoid the crowds and were lucky to catch the farm on an unusually busy day for a Saturday.

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Terre Bleu Baby Lavender

There’s a $15 fee to enter the farm during peak season (June – August), which gives you access to a free guided tour and to the grounds. Upon entering, you’re greeted with a gift shop that sells lavender-infused gifts, including the baby lavender plants above. Other products on display included lavender oils, bath products, macarons, and even cheese! Definitely a cute spot to pick up some unique gifts for the lavender-lover in your life.

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One thing I’ll mention which I was not aware of prior to visiting – bees love lavender. Within the first 15 minutes of walking through the fields, I ended up getting stung in the backside (for the first time ever!) while trying to get a photo sitting in the grass. Luckily, one of the uses of lavender oil is treating bee stings, and the shop was more than happy to lend me some to treat my ouchie. The pain subsided within a day, but I’m definitely more wary of being stung after the experience!

Outfit details: Dress and western belt – Forever 21 / Espadrilles – Winners

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All in all, the experience was definitely worth it, bee stings and all. The farm was so breathtakingly beautiful, and I loved the luscious purple colour and fragrance of the fields. I seriously felt like I was on location shooting the cover of my breakout country album lol! In addition to the main field near the entrance, visitors could also follow a trail through a forest to an additional field, featuring the famous yellow door you might recognize from Insta.

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To end the day, I sampled one of the farm’s lavender ice cream cones. Not only was it one of the prettiest cones I’ve had, it was surprisingly yummy – not overly floral like you’d might expect. I’d definitely recommend making the trip to Terre Bleu next year, and I hope to return as well!

Fall Style with CF Eaton Centre

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It’s that time of year again! We’re breaking out the layers, leather jackets and booties and preparing for the short (but oh-so-sweet) fall weather in Toronto. I have to admit while I know this is a favourite time for fashion for many, I’ve always struggled to dress for this season. As soon as the temperatures drop you’ll typically find me in my sweats and Uggs, as much as I’m embarrassed to admit! I find it a bit of challenge to put together outfits that are cute, but also practical and weather appropriate.

So when CF Toronto Eaton Centre approached me to collaborate with them on their fall campaign, I thought it was the perfect time to step up my style for the new season. What better way to prep for fall than a visit to one of the city’s largest malls? I stopped by early on Saturday morning to beat the crowds and was invited to visit the property’s Fall Inspiration Station, which is running on weekends (Friday – Sunday) until September 17th.

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Fall Inspiration Station

The CF Inspiration Stations, which are running in all Cadillac Fairview shopping centres including CF Toronto Eaton Centre, are interactive installations that help shoppers freshen up their style for fall. Fall is a time for transformation – the leaves are changing, students head back to school, and closets are refreshed. To celebrate the change in seasons, CF is offering shoppers an adorable complimentary tote bag that can be personalized with one of six inspirational quotes that capture different intentions for the new season, from self-improvement to giving back to others.

The totes are screen printed on site, making them totally custom. After scrolling through the different designs available on the touch screen display provided, I settled on “Throw Kindness Like Confetti” as my personal motto for fall. I think this is a fitting phrase given the current state of some parts of the world, and it’s just an awesome, positive outlook to have on life.

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To complement the Inspiration Station, word art installations can be found around the mall until October 8th – the perfect photo opp to spread positivity with friends and family to mark the start of fall. What I love most about this installation are the super positive vibes it communicates! It put a smile on my face to see others snapping photos with the quotes, and to see the excitement of shoppers personalizing their own tote bags.

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My Fall Style Haul

I was also lucky enough to receive a CF Shop! card to help build my fall wardrobe, and picked up some key pieces that I know will be staples in my closet this fall:

Fall Style Haul

  1. Uniqlo Teddy Bear Coat

The teddy bear trend is definitely not over for me yet, and at only $50, this adorable coat from Uniqlo grabbed me immediately. Not only is the outside super soft and cozy, the inside is lined with fleece for that uber-comfy, warm feeling that automatically makes you want to fall asleep.

  1. Free People Denim Button Up*

I think sticking to some good, neutral basics is key to building a stylish, yet wearable fall wardrobe. This simple denim shirt by Free People checked all the boxes for me, and will be super easy to throw on with leggings or jeans for an easy, put together look. It has the perfect slouchy silhouette and looks super cute with the sleeves rolled up!

*Unfortunately I found this on clearance at The Bay, and it seems to be sold out everywhere online 😦

  1. Topshop Tote

I love seeing colour in my closet, so switching to more subdued tones in the fall is challenging for me. Adding a pop of colour with a handbag is a great way to add some personality to an outfit, and I loved the pretty blush tone of this bag.

  1. Zara Super Soft Coat

I’ve been desperately searching for a coat like this for years – a timeless grey coat with enough structure to look chic when dressed up, but comfortable enough to wear with casual outfits as well. This was another steal at only $70 from Zara.

  1. Steve Madden Chelsea Booties

I’ve finally found the perfect black leather booties! Every year I buy a new pair, hoping I’ll fall in love with them, but end up with pinched toes, the wrong heel height, or boots that fall apart with only a few wears. These were a bit pricier then I’m used to, but I think they’ll serve me well over the colder months.

This is the last weekend the Inspiration Stations will be running at CF properties across the country. Make sure you stop by to pick up your complimentary tote and to reflect on your personal goals (and closet goals) for the new season! Which fall staples are you planning to invest in this year? Let me know in the comments below.

My Must-Have Sleep Essentials

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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?

 

Spring Outfit Inspiration

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Spring has finally sprung in Toronto, and one of my favourite things about the warmer weather is the outfits! It’s finally time to break out the colour, pretty blouses, and to ditch the winter coat. Cherry blossom madness recently hit the city, with hoards of people flocking to High Park, Trinity Bellwoods and other popular spots to get a glimpse of the pretty petals. I did venture one weekend to High Park, but was disappointed to find that the blossoms hadn’t fully opened yet. I had heard that Robarts Library near the U of T had some stunning trees of their own, so decided to stop by – it definitely lived up to the hype!

The outfit I styled below is an easy spring look, incorporating two trends I’m currently loving: off the shoulder tops and frayed denim. My favourite thing about this blouse (besides the pretty colour) is the sleeves – they add a feminine boho vibe to the look, perfect for the spring!

Top – Forever 21 / Frayed Denim – Zara / Blush Slip-Ons – Target

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Sudio Sweden Regent Headphones

 

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I’ve never owned a pair of wireless headphones – but recently Sudio Sweden, a Swedish audio brand, reached out to me about reviewing one of their products. After browsing through their site, I immediately fell in love with their “Regent” style in white – a beautiful pair of wireless on-ear headphones featuring stylish gold accents and a sleek design.

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One of the things I love most about these headphones is how cute they are! The Regent features the ability to change out the headphone caps, and I just had to have the white marble style. Besides looking adorable, they also deliver on sound quality, providing crisp and clear audio for easy listening.

The main features of the headphones include:

  • 24+ hours of continuous playtime
  • Bluetooth compatibility
  • Built-in microphone and 3 button remote
  • Interchangeable caps to match your style

As someone who’s constantly traveling (whether commuting every day to and from work by subway, or flying out to visit friends in other cities), having the ability to listen to music in high quality is super important to me. While the headphones aren’t completely noise cancelling, they definitely do a great job of muffling background noise in comparison to the standard in-ear buds I’m used to. This is perfect for airplanes, noisy subways, and longer periods of time when you just want to get into your music and relax.

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Another great feature is the wireless design – I don’t have to deal with getting tangled up in wires, especially on crowded trains! This will also come in super handy if I eventually decide to upgrade to the iPhone 7. The headphones come with a charging cable, and once fully charged will last 24+ hours. For forgetful people like me, the headphones also come with an audio cable (just in case) that can be plugged into your device in the traditional way. I love the flexibility of this, and that I don’t have to worry if I forget to charge them the night before.

The only downside about the pair I selected is that I have to be careful about makeup/foundation stains on the pristine white ear pads – but it’s totally worth it for how adorable they look! I highly recommend Sudio if you’re looking to try a pair of wireless headphones and are also on the lookout for something stylish. If you’re not into the look of on-ear headphones, Sudio also offers a number of other earphone options.

Use my code “angelaxo” for 15% off your purchase!

 

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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