Wednesday, September 14

Sunglasses From Clearly (P.S. They're fit for royalty!)

For years, I've purchased sunglasses with single-digit price tags. Why pay more when I may just lose them, right? The problem is, it's pretty rare for me to lose my sunglasses. Much more often they break or, could quality be a factor?

That said, I'm certainly not in a position to pay hundreds and hundreds of dollars for designer sunglasses. I need a happy medium!

Enter Clearly.  While they also offer contact lenses and prescription eyewear, thanks to the joy of LASIK I don't need those anymore! I was, however, very interested in their affordable selection of designer sunglasses, including Christian Siriano, Nina Ricci, Marc by Marc Jacob, Oakley, Ray-Ban, John Galliano and more!

I was thrilled when Clearly offered to send me two pairs of sunglasses to try out...especially because they carry the exact same pair worn by Kate, Duchess of Cambridge. (You may have read about my interest in the RepliKate trend a few weeks ago.)

Their website is easy to navigate and is very informative: I actually learned sunglasses have specific measurements (something I had never realized when buying eight dollar pairs!) and one pair I ordered ended up being a bit wide on my face (I still loved the look, but the arms didn't sit as snugly as I would have liked) so it's important to check out the measurements of the sunglasses which are listed with the product description, especially when ordering online when you don't have the chance to try them on.

My sunglasses shipped really quickly, arriving one day apart, and even the packaging was appealing (plus, they came with attractive, sturdy cases...never included with my cheapies!):

Now, what I chose!

Derek Cardigan 7014, part of Clearly's in-house designer line (as a teacher, I thought the little multiplication and division signs were particularly apropos).

Next: the Ray-Ban Folding Wayfarer Classic in Tortoise,,,as often worn by the Duchess of Cambridge (formerly Kate Middleton) herself!

No, that's not me, silly! That's the other Kate.

This one is me!

I've been extremely happy with the quality of the products, and now that I have both black and tortoise, maybe I'll never have to buy another pair of sunglasses again! (Okay, that might be stretching it.) Check out Clearly for your own eyewear needs!

Disclosure: I was provided with two pairs of sunglasses by Clearly for review purposes. Opinions are, as always, my own.

Wednesday, September 7

Shop Lands' End - Great RepliKates, School Uniforms and More!

I will admit it: I am a Lands' End newbie...but I have learned quickly!

Launched in 1963 as a mail-order operation for yachting gear‚ the business filled about 15 orders on a good day. Now they carry a huge variety of clothing for women, men and kids. Lands' End runs the range from casual to dressier wear, plus active and swimwear, in addition to uniform pieces for students...and the list goes on! Plus, they are famous for their unconditional return policy (customer satisfaction is a big deal to them). And yes, my Canuck friends...they do ship to Canada!

I came across Lands' End when I started paying close attention to the Replikate movement...women who like to follow and copy the fashion of Kate, Duchess of Cambridge. While it can be fun (if one can afford it) to own the exact same items as the Duchess, most often Replikaters hunt for similar yet more cost-effective fashions, and Lands' End certainly fits the bill!

I was excited when Lands' End sent me two items to try out (shipping was very fast, btw), so I could see the quality for myself.

First, I was looking for a navy pleated skirt, similar to Kate's Orla Kiely shown below (approx. $256 Canadian).

Lands' End sent me this great Replikate, the Girls Solid Pleated Skirt, which is actually from the school uniform collection (shopping trick: if something isn't available in an adult size, try a larger size from the children's section - the adjustable waistband is helpful, too!) The price? Under 40 bucks!

I look forward to wearing it to school in a traditional outfit (maybe with a button-up and nice navy blazer) but it can also be worn in more unexpected ways, like with a graphic tee or print sweater.

(Tip: if your pleated skirt gets wrinkled, just use the bathroom-shower-steam trick. 15 minutes of hot steam and my pleats fell perfectly.)

If you need to purchase neutral school uniform pieces for your child (sometimes I wish that was the case for my girls!), definitely check out Lands' End.

Next on my back-to-school shopping list was a pair of low-heeled black boots. I love wearing boots in the fall and winter, especially with skirts and dresses, and since I'm going to be teaching Kindergarten, a super high heel was off the list. I turned to Kate's Middleton style and loved the Stuart Weitzman HalfNHalf stretch riders she has been seen wearing...but didn't love the $400 price. 

But guess what? Lands' End carries a super-similar pair: suede at the front, stretch panel at the back, block a regular price of $162! (Watch for sales - I've seen the price even lower than that!)

But guess what? Lands' End carries a super-similar pair called the School Uniform Women's Stretch Suede Tall Boots: suede at the front, stretch panel at the back, block a regular price of $162! (Watch for sales - I've seen the price even lower than that!)

These boots are soooo comfortable, and I know they will be my go-tos for least until it's time to pull out the sandals again!

Now, I don't usually get much sympathy for the following problem I have, but I trust you to be kind, so here goes: I have skinny calves, and therefore tall boots don't fit snugly enough for me. The stretch panel on these boots is really forgiving for those with fuller calves, but since I'm planning to wear them over tights, I want them to be really snug. My local cobbler nipped them in for me, at a total cost of $25, which is fantastic, considering how often I'm going to be sporting goes with everything, right?

Next on my Lands' End list is stocking up on swimsuits for the girls. They wore theirs out this summer (several each - which is a reflection on what a great pool summer it was), and since there are huge discounts on the website, now's a great time to buy!

Thanks to Lands' End for letting me try out their products. I will definitely be turning to this site again, if not for more Replikates then for the vast array of other attractive, quality clothing they have to offer. Thank goodness they moved past yachting gear! (Though if Kate and I do become best friends, I may need some of that, too...)

Disclosure: The above items were provided for review purposes. Opinions are, as always, my own.

Saturday, September 3

Dear Fellow Teachers: A Back-to-School Letter

This blog post began as a September pep talk for myself. Partway through, I realized I could tweak a few pronouns, broaden the focus slightly and possibly help to get other teachers geared up for the exciting new beginning that's quickly approaching. Hope it helps!


Dear Fellow Teachers,

There's no better way to start this letter than to remind you that you are amazing. As far as I am concerned, teaching is a vocation that can't be denied or escaped...and even if you aren't religious, I still believe that God has called all of us to take on this incredible job.

But wait a second: before you pour so much energy into your students (for me, every year seems to literally bring blood, sweat and tears), take a look inward for a moment. Check your own health, both physical and mental. You can only do this job well if you're at full strength, so make that a priority. While you're at it, check your extended health plan. I use every single penny allocated to massage, and I am absolutely positive it makes me better at my job.

You do this work in large part because of your love for children, but remember to extend your compassion to parents. Some may not support schooling because they never saw that modeled in their homes. Some may have a confrontational communication style because that is what they saw modeled. Be kind and understanding while making it clear you deserve to be treated calmly and with respect.

Continue to earn that respect. Arrive and leave at professional times, dress in a professional manner that suits your teaching environment. Watch your social media presence. There is a small but vocal portion of the population who will take any opportunity to teacher-bash. Don't read the comments, and if you put yourself through that torture, don't engage. Better for us to continue to prove the critics wrong, every day.

If you have children of your own, don't get sucked into the guilty-working-parent-quicksand. Make sure that, big picture, your family is your highest priority, and understand it doesn't mean that minute-to-minute they are your highest priority. This is hardest when children are really little and so physically demanding (been there, done that), but if you're confident in your caregiving decisions, don't feel guilty about spending your weekdays focused on 30 of other people's children (or, if you're like me, spending time awake at 3 am worrying about 30 of other people's children). I remember hiring a babysitter so I could spend an entire weekend writing report cards, and I won't apologize for that. My girls loved their's a win/win. (Or, as we always joke in our house, a Winn/Winn.) It's fantastic for any parent to model a work ethic and passion for their chosen profession.

That said, sometimes you have to unplug... or recharge.....whichever of those seemingly contradictory metaphors works for you. The school work will always be there (really, there is absolutely always something you *could* be doing) so at some point you have to leave it, or put it away. You will be a better teacher if you have other interests and hobbies, if you're physically active, if you read for pleasure and not just professional materials. Soak up your time with family (even if it's just on the couch...okay, maybe that's more for me) and friends. Teaching is a huge part of our identities, but don't allow it to push out everything else that makes you whole.

Prioritize. While test scores or other measurements of success may be on the back of your mind, make sure your overarching goals aren't quantifiable: I know I want my students to come to school feeling safe, cared for, and eager to learn. We will take it from there, one bit at a time.

Find the joy, as there is so much of it to be found. When you're experiencing the opposite of joy (you will have your own word for this and some can't be printed here) share with someone you trust, and then let. it. go. (Says the queen of never. letting. it. go. I told you this was a pep talk for me, too.)

In conclusion: Remember, you are amazing. Oh, did I already say that? It bears repeating. You are so extremely fortunate to have the privilege of molding young lives. But guess what? Those kids are also lucky beyond measure to have you. God bless them, and all of us and we embark on another adventure.

We've got this, everyone.

Thursday, September 1

Kate's Favourite Things - September 2016


None of my usual suspense/thrillers for you this month - I branched out!

After You by JoJo Moyes (an excellent sequel to the bestseller Me Before You; this one didn't pull at my heartstrings quite as much, but it was fun to revisit characters that I knew and loved from the first book)

Sushi For Beginners by Marian Keyes (I was in the mood for something Irish, and since Keyes does not like the term "chick lit" I won't use it - but now you've got the idea!)

This Charming Man by Marian Keyes (a bit long at 676 pages but I love her work)

When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman (award-winning fiction, just pay attention to time lapses - there were moments that I was confused)

The Choices We Make by Karma Brown (I loved the first book by my Twitter friend Karma, Come Away With Me - read it if you haven't - and her second novel about a woman being a pregnancy surrogate for a friend is just as compelling)

The Rainbow Comes and Goes by Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt (fascinating to learn about Vanderbilt's upbringing, and I should have been more impressed by her famous romantic partners, except she's in her 90s now which means I have never heard of most of them! Sinatra, yes, but not most of the others)


It was all about family movies this month:

Nine Lives I love Jennifer Garner, and the movie kept the girls and me entertained.

Pete's Dragon A lot of great messages to discuss in this one, and the CGI animation was really well done.


Need a makeup artist? Try Lacey West Makeup! I was in a video for a special project this month (I'm still not allowed to tell!) and Lacey did a fantastic job on my makeup!

My favourite mail delivery this month *might* have been this selection of notebooks an datebooks from Hallmark. It makes me happy just to look at the photo!

Some of my posts this month were particularly popular, so I'm going to lump them in with my "favourite things" as well!

My New Eyebrows: Microblading from Permanent Beauty by Kalyna (this post has so many views that I started to think I should switch to beauty blogging!)

Kate and the RepliKate Trend (following the style of the Duchess of Cambridge; I have a few upcoming posts on this as well, since I've purchased or received several more RepliKates since this first post!)

Kindergarten Advice From Teachers and Parents

oh yes, and I was back on THE SOCIAL with Back-to-School Tips and Tricks

And there you have it - my favourite things! I have a sneaking suspicion that I won't be reading many books or watching many movies in September, but we'll see when next month's edition brings!