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Beauty, Lifestyle, Finance

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How to Earn and Use Travel Points

18/07/2018
Hello everyone, welcome back to my blog. Today's post was inspired by intl_peach who wrote up a fantastic blog post about how she travels using points, so I decided that I would write one up with my experiences because I've booked a fair number of trips and flights using points. Keep reading below for my tips!

Research 
There are so many different types of credit cards that you can buy and use- there are always promotions and new cards coming out. You can choose one from your bank, or you can expand out to other banks as well. They'll usually have a one year free/extra bonus points when you sign up, so I highly recommend that you look into your options, and don't be afraid to have more than one card at a time.

Think of all of the things that you're signed up for and the discounts that you can get, from food to furniture to travel to cars. You can almost always find a way to make it cheaper/get extra points. A quick google search can also help out with promos. For example, double the points when you book with Expedia if you're an Aeroplan collector. A $350 hotel reservation got me 700 points, cha-ching.

Not Just for Flights
Sometimes you don't have enough points, other times you'd rather not take a flight, or maybe you'd rather save the points for later, but there are other uses for points other than just flying. I've used my points for car rentals, insurance, gift cards, a hair straightener and a kettle.

The main thing would be to use your credit card for everything, no matter how small BUT be very careful to pay it all off. I know that there are some people that can't control themselves when they have a credit card and see it as free money so if that's you then it's not worth it to take that risk. 

Credit Card Roulette
This phrase was coined by a colleague of mine and it's something that I do, although do take caution with it. Essentially, tons of credit card companies offer great bonuses (one year free, free points) when you sign up with them, so I'll use the card for a year or two before switching to another card with its own set of perks. Note, this will affect your credit score so do take caution with it, but for me it's well worth it seeing as I don't have a mortgage (and probably won't have one for a few years... thank you Toronto housing market).

So how many flights have I redeemed to date? I've already redeemed 5 shorthaul flights (if not 7? I truly can't remember) and a 4 day car rental. Not too shabby seeing as that easily could cost me $800+, and flights tend to be an expensive aspect of travelling so this helps to minimize your expenditures (or use that money to splurge on something else).

Do you guys have any tips about how to earn travel points? I just used up all of my points, so I'm looking into getting a new card soon- the CIBC Aventura card peaks my interest as of right now.

xx Diana


Why It's Important to Take Time Off

14/07/2018
In today's day and age, busy is a word that's thrown around like 'wanna go for coffee' 3 minutes into stepping foot into the office on a Monday. It's a word that's equated with success, the busier you are, the more successful you are. I'm sure that everyone can agree that it's not true and yet we all say it.


*Not my photo*

I for one, used to work a job that left me really busy, no matter how much time I put into it, I could never get ahead (or even stay afloat). Now that I've changed positions into one that isn't sales related, I'm no longer busy and I'm 100% ok with that. Sometimes I feel as if I'm lazy when I say it, but I realize that it's just society's voice in my head.

With that in mind, even though my life isn't go-go-go, I still took a break off of my blog. I went to Chicago and since I got back, I haven't been on my blog, my Instagram updates have been minimal and my time at the gym has been borderline non-existant. So yeah, you can say that I've been chillen.

As I'm writing this, it's one of the hottest weekends that Toronto has had in years, and after a shit ton of chillen, I'm excited to get back on the horse! I have a drive to get back to working on my blog and instagram, and I'm looking forward to getting my butt in a pilates or spin class. It's so easy to take a back seat to working towards your goals and just drinking wine and watching Ru Paul's Drag Race, but after a while you start to crave doing shit.

With that said, taking time off refreshes you, it gives you the energy to restart doing things because you like them, instead of just doing stuff for the sake of doing it.

Be it that you go on a vacation or don't, or that you just shut down your phone for a few days, it'll allow you to reset your mind so that you can come back to those things with a new perspective and drive. If you're one of the many individuals who work on their blog on the side of their regular job, it's important to have drive, energy and creativity, especially seeing as your regular job can easily drain you of that.

xx Diana

What to Eat, Drink, See and Do in Chicago

23/06/2018
Hello everyone, if you follow me on IG (shameless plug- @thedianaediton) then you would have seen that I went to Chicago for 4 days a few weeks ago. I've been to Chicago before and my first ever blog post was about Chicago, so here's an updated version of it!

Firstly, getting to Chicago is easy- you can drive (about 10 hours) or take a flight from either Pearson or Billy Bishop, and land at either Midway or O'Hare airport. Whatever you choose, there are tons of options available to get to the windy city.


     
For brunch, hit up Wildberry right next to Millenium Park but be warned- there will be a wait. We waited an hour to get there on a Saturday but it is 100x worth it. I went there during my last Chicago trip and am so happy that we went back. It's not expensive, there are tons of options for food, it really fills you up (no one was hungry until 8pm, and we ate at noon) and it's delicious. I know that I will continue to come back to this brunch spot every time I visit Chicago.

Deep Dish Pizza
Essentially there are two main spots for the DDP (heheh, get it?)- Lou Malnati's or Giordano's. I ate at Lou's both times, but truthfully, I'm sure I wouldn't have minded one way or another. Deep dish pizza has a great crispy crust and is loaded with cheese and whatever other toppings you add on, you eat it with a fork and knife and it's way heartier and filling than thin crust pizza.

DRINKS

Very stereo-typical Chicago place, overlooking Millenium park where you can go for food or drinks and sip them on the standing patio. A great vibe and it's located on the roof of the Chicago Sports Club, a great place to venture within and see how it plays homage to old time 1920s (30s? 40s?) Chicago. This is where you'll get gram worthy pics.

I went here last time with my sister and loved it- it's a speakeasy so it's super hidden, you wouldn't know that there's anything there except for the fact that there's a line up outside of just a plain building. It's not so much a dinner place, rather just a drinks place and it's extremely dark, so pictures aren't a possibility. It's located in Wicker Park which is slightly north than downtown, but still well worth the trek over, either via uber/lyft or transit (there's a subway stop right in front of the bar!)
This speakeasy specializes in original and fancy drinks and it's a very secluded and private place to bring your date too.

Situated right smack in the middle of the city, a rooftop bar that overlooks the river and is right in the middle of the high rises so that you're a part of the architecture. It is a small patio so be prepared to be slightly squished, and as such, I wouldn't necessarily recommend you coming here for food- rather just a drink and the view. The reviews on Yelp are horrendous 

We didn't end up going to The Signature Room as the craziest fog came into the city, but this is yet another roof top bar however this one is situated slightly further back in the city, so you get more of a view as opposed to London House, where you're right in the middle of the city and with the most perfect view of the river flowing in the middle.

TO SEE AND DO

Millenium Park
Great for a stroll so that you can see the ever famous and iconic Bean, and Buckingham fountain which is so beautiful!

Navy Pier
Keep your walk going and hit up Navy Pier where they have Saturday night fireworks (what we wanted to view from the Signature Room Bar before it was cancelled) but you can hit up the ferris wheel (expensive, but it gives you a great view of the city) and potentially a gram pic or two. I did this when I went to Chicago the last time, but wouldn't pay for it again.

Chicago Cultural Centre
The centre is located right by Millenium Park and they offer free tours (not even any tips at the end), so if you enjoy history and learning about a place, this was well worth it. The centre also includes the largest Tiffany's glass dome and OMG it is insanely beautiful. We stayed there for about an hour, just taking in the beauty of it.

Within the centre, you're also able to do free walking tours with guides (again, no fees or tips at all!) and although we didn't end up doing this, we spoke with one of the volunteers who was so friendly and said that the tours are based on what the attendees want, so if you have any recommendations the guides can cater to you- amazing.

Jazz Music
The city is the founding place of jazz, so you're sure to find some great live music. We were lucky enough to be there during the jazz festival and strolled along listening to some music. On the last day, we decided to go to a jazz bar and were recommended one (I'm sorry, I can't remember the name now!) but there was a $15 cover. NAH MAN. We said, so we entered another bar with live jazz and it was INCREDIBLE and free. The singer made jokes, and did jazz variations of No Scrubs, Lollipop (yes, the one with Lil Wayne!) and some other pop songs and classic songs. Well worth the one drink I bought there.

Have you guys ever been to Chicago? I highly recommend it and am totally down to go back! It's a city that has a lot of similarities to Toronto, but the people are much nicer and the transit is much better.

Until next time

xx Diana

How to Pack for a Trip with a Carry On Suitcase

06/06/2018
Hello my lovelies, this post is being uploaded as I'm on my way to Chicago- the land of deep dish pizza (the best kind IMO), the bean, and the founding spot for house music. My first blog post that I ever did was a travel post about Chicago, so I'm excited to revisit the city in the summer and with a new perspective, so stay tuned for a travel guide that will come out next week. 

For today's post I'll be writing about what to pack for a trip in just a carry on suitcase. There are so many benefits to not checking luggage... no extra fees, no chance of loosing your luggage, no line ups, and not having to wait for it once you exit the plane. With a carry on luggage, it's one less thing that you have to think of, it speeds up your time both coming and leaving the airport and once you pack with just a carry on, you'll wonder why you ever needed something larger. 

Here are some tips and tricks that I've amassed over the years of carry on luggage life (including beach trips, ski trips, city trips and 3 weeks in Germany).

Plan Ahead
Know what you're doing, where you're going, what the weather is like and what your favourite/comfiest clothes are. Don't throw a bunch of stuff into your suitcase without thinking about it first. I know everyone likes to think "I'll take this justtt in case" but I can guarantee you that you won't end up wearing the majority of those pieces- you'll stick with the same stuff that you wear when you're at home. How many days/nights will you be travelling and how many outfits do you need? Remember- you don't need a different outfit every day, you can wear the same thing multiple times and you won't be a fashion faux-pas.

Functional Pieces
Classic colours and pieces that you can mix and match together that will allow for you to take your outfits from day to night, inside to outside and warm to cold and what will allow you to pack lighter. Shoes that you can wear that won't give you blisters, dresses are a two-for-one (also super easy to dress up/down) and you can never go wrong with some skinny jeans (assuming that it's not super hot)

Extra Room
Although it might be tempting to fill up your suitcase all the way to the brim, always keep extra room in case you buy something (which is always for me when I go on vacation). A tip that I try to do is to bring something that I want to throw out, wear it and then throw it out during the trip. This gives me more room and forces me to look into what I own and what is past it's due date. Whenever I travel I try to pack ahead of time (I'm not one of those psycho paths who waits until the last minute) because I will continually decrease the amount of clothes that I have because I can use logic to realize what I'll actually use vs. what I think I'll use.

Decant Liquids
One of the worst parts, actually the only bad part about carry on luggage, is the liquid limit. Everything has to be less than 100ml which is brutal if you love beauty as much as I do. In this case, decant your larger liquids into smaller bottles, or if you have any small sample products, bring them with you on your trip. This does stop you from buying any full size products while on your trip, but as a result, it does mean that you're not increasing the weight of your bag for your liquids.

Wear your Heaviest Clothes to the Airport
This not only includes shoes (wear your sneakers in the summer and boots in the winter), but also your jeans and any sweaters or light jackets. I always bring a big scarf with me because airports/airplanes are cold afff and I really don't understand the people who wear heels/sandals/shorts (like wtf shorts?) on a plane.

There we have it, my tips for how to pack with just a carry on. Let me know your thoughts and if you think it's doable or if you're 100% a check in bag kinda gal. I'd much rather save the money/spend it on food and drinks.

See you next time kiddos (+/- a few pounds)

xx Diana

Best Places for a Picnic in Toronto

03/06/2018
Hello everyone, welcome back to my blog. Seeing as the temperature is starting to warm up in the city, it's time to start exploring and heading outdoors. Summer is great in the city, everyone comes alive, there's so much to do, so many patios, events, and concerts. With that in mind, there's nothing quite like hanging out with your friends and having a drink or two outside on the grass. Keep reading for some great places to hit up with your friends!



High Park
Located right off the subway, slightly west of the city, a huge park that includes a small pond (lake?), a tennis court, playgrounds and in the summer, they also have Shakspeare shows during the entire summer. I highly recommend checking the shows out, it's a recommended donation of $20 and they put on two shows a summer, rotating shows every other day. You can go to the park and have a picnic before hitting up the show. This is perfect for a date night or with your friends, especially seeing as it's all outside so you can enjoy the weather.

Sunnyside Beach
If you keep walking south from High Park, you'll hit Sunnyside beach. Although a small beach there's also a number of small cafes and restaurants along the beach as well as a huge outdoor swimming pool. If there's a heat warning in the city then this pool is one of the ones that is open until 11pm for swimming and it's glorious. I highly recommend going swimming late in the evening if the weather permits it.

Trinity Bellwoods Park
Located in the middle of the city, it's easy to get to with a lot of stores, cafes, restaurants and coffee shops right around the corner. A lot of people will hit up Ihalo Crunch Ice Cream or La Diperie which is right across the street. Somehow, I've never actually hung out here other than walking through it a few times. Maybe that'll change sometime this summer? * hint hint, nudge nudge to my friends*

Centre Island
This one does require a boat to get too so make sure that you plan for a full day because waiting for the boat can take up a fair bit of time. You have great views of the city, a number of beaches, you can make a picnic, go swimming, rent bikes (or bring your bikes on the ferry) and enjoy the time away from the city (even though you're still in the city, just over the pond slightly).

Woodbine Beach
The OG place for all Torontonians, if you're hitting up the beach then this is the place to go. It's huge with a bike path, outdoor pool and decent swimming conditions (as good as it can get at least). The sand is really nice and there are tons of volleyball nets.

Of course, all of this is weather permitting. Let me know your favourite places for a picnic, and I'll see you on Wednesday for my next blog post.

xx Diana

Common Sunscreen Mistakes

30/05/2018
Hello everyone, welcome back to my blog. Now that summer is coming I decided to write a post dedicated to sunscreen. I love sunscreen and I wear it all year round. Yes you heard me correctly, all year. It always surprises me as to how anti-sunscreen so many people are even though they're well aware that the sun causes burns, skin damage, cancer and premature skin wrinkling and yet they still continue to be out and about in the sun with little to no sun protection.

As someone who is very light and burns easily, I've learned to embrace the sunscreen and I have no shame in my game. Here are some common problems that people have with sunscreen that stops them from having the protection that they want and need. 

With that in mind keep reading below to learn about some common sunscreen mistakes!




Not Applying Enough
Do you know how much sunscreen you actually need to put on your hands and body? More than you think! The amount varies, I've seen between a nickel to a quarter size for the face- or between 1/4 to 1/2 a teaspoon. For the body, a standard shot glass amount is what I've been hearing. Make sure to rub it in fully and cover your entire body, don't forget the back of your hands, your feet, ears, back of your knees, and by the straps of your bikinis.

Not Reapplying
Putting on sunscreen is not a 'set it and forget it' type of thing. You need to reapply throughout the day- even if you're not doing anything, but especially if you're swimming or sweating. If you're in a hot place or even if you're just chillen outside or at a music festival, it's well worth it to reapply. Bring a mini bottle of sunscreen with you and just top it off a few times during the day.

You Rely on Makeup that Includes SPF
We've all been there- 'it's ok, my foundation/moisturizer/concealer etc has sunscreen in it'. Yes, but does it have enough of it? Referencing one of my previous points about not applying enough sunscreen, this one falls into the same category. Although it might be giving you some protection- it's not enough. You need your own stand alone sunscreen- no matter how oily you think it makes you.

You only use it when it's Summer
Summer, winter, fall, spring, cloudy, rainy, indoors, outdoors, New York, Guatemala, Tokyo or London, all day everyday, any time any place (ok maybe not when you're sleeping) but in general, sunscreen should be applied every.single. morning. Do I necessarily always do it? No- when I'm working from home and not leaving the house then I might not. But in general- yes… all the time. It's said that the amount of sun exposure that you get in a year is equivalent to laying out in the sun for an entire week. Slather up kiddo.

Forgetting about your Hands, Neck and Chest
Bring that puppy all the way down your body to include these three often overlooked parts. Although everyone focuses on their face, it's important to bring your skincare and sunscreen to these additional parts of your body. You don't want to have a 30 year old face but 60 year old neck. These three parts of the body are where you can really see a woman's age.

Hopefully this list will help for you guys to protect your skin, especially seeing as the hot summer heat is coming soon.

Stay tuned for a spin-off on this post about how to pick the right sunscreen for you.

Do you guys use sunscreen every day? If so, which one's your favourite brand?

Xx Diana

Self Care on a Budget

27/05/2018
Good morning everyone (afternoon, evening, mid-day etc), in today's day and age, everyone always talks about 'treat yo'self' and 'self-care Sunday', and I totally agree with all of that. But every time some talks about self care, it includes spa dates, massages, expensive face masks, brunches with wine and shopping dates. With that in mind, here are some tips and tricks for you to treat yourself, without breaking the bank.

I take self care as taking time out for yourself, no matter which way it is. Doing all of these expensive things are an easy way to treat yourself, but it doesn't necessarily have to come with an expensive cost. Keep reading below for my thoughts about how you can do self care on a budget.



Workout
Although a lot of time working out means going to studios, spin classes, pilates etc etc, and with that it means potentially commuting and paying $20+ for a class, but working out can be as simple as going for a long walk, a bike ride, or doing some at home yoga. That after workout high is where it's attt, and it'll help for you to have a great rest of the day.

Take a Bath
Some people don't like baths because they think it's gross to lay in a tub filled with hot water of sweat, dirt and dead skin cells. Those people are wrong, you don't need that negativity in your life. Although it's nice to fill up the tub with fancy soaps and oils, using natural products like oatmeal, yogurt and milk (can't confirm, I haven't tried any of these options), or you can even just take some of your body wash and through it in there so that you can get some bubbles. Add in a sugar scrub, shave, and some lotion, and you're golden. Either sit back and relax, you can also light some candles, watch netflix and/or drink wine.

Do your Nails
Like any woman, I love when I get my hands and feet done, but it does cost a pretty penny, so there's nothing wrong with doing it yourself. Getting your nails done is at a price point that it's so easy to do, and yet it can add up easily and you can do almost as good of a job at a tiny tiny fraction of the cost. Doing it after the bath will make you feel like a million bucks.

Clean your House
Probably not the best way to treat yourself, but after you're done you'll be happy that you did it. It helps when you have some good music on and when you're drinking some rosé. Ok while reading this over it seems pretty stupid, but it's really all about what you make it.

There we are, some tips and tricks to do your self care without breaking the bank.
Let me know your thoughts down below.

xx Diana