The Red Bow: Newer + Simpler

Fashion & Beauty, Giveaways, Products and Brands

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I love pretty things and this love brought me into contact with The Red Bow almost two years ago. Since then I’ve written about them several times, shopped on the website on numerous occasions, and even teamed up with them to host a giveaway or two. The mastermind behind The Red Bow is Karen Viray : a smart, passionate, kick-ass woman who has been a source of inspiration time and time again.

I connected with her recently to talk about Th Red Bow. When I asked her what her favourite pretty things are she replied: It is really difficult to choose but I love pretty books, desserts and wallpaper. On The Red Bow, I’d have to say our new macaron-shaped mini boxes. They are honestly so pretty and real looking, I love just having them on my desk or on my vanity. They are actual macaron-size and can hold small things like earrings or breath mints (or Advil, if you’re like me and keep them at your desk – it’s definitely a way prettier way of storing them lol).

When I heard that The Red Bow was getting a facelift and a complete relaunch my excitement was taken to the next level. When I asked Karen why she decided to change things around she told me that since she wants to keep The Red Bow a small business, she thought it would be best to make it as uncomplicated as possible. Simplifying the website and narrowing down the products to better reflect who she is will not only give her time to connect with her customers in a personal way, but it will also help her manage life/work and everything else in a more sane and (healthy?) way. It also gives her the time she needs to keep up her hand-written notes and personal wrapping for her customers.

That, that right there is why I’ve continued to be a huge fan of The Red Bow AND Karen. She says, I see The Red Bow as more of a community, rather than just another dime-a-dozen online shoppe selling similar things as everyone else. I want to grow the trb community with more online engagement, collaborations, blog content, local events and charity outreach.

The store will include three simple sections: PRETTY ACCESSORIES (statement pieces, old favourites, and new goodies), PRETTY BEAUTY (yummy fragrances and the very best Korean beauty products), and PRETTY HOME (art prints, stationery, journals, and even home decor accessories). I have earrings, a clutch, a bracelet, notebooks, art prints, and an iPhone case from The Red Bow and cannot wait to see all of the new products they have in stock. Karen is super excited to share some NEW favourite things with her customers too. Karen divulges that she’s MOST excited about the pretty beauty section, since beauty, make-up and skin care have always been an obsession hers. The newest products that the red bow will be carrying is a small selection of my favourite, and a few cult favourite, beauty products from Asia, she says. I for one cannot wait to get my hands on some of these products!

As for the future of The Red Bow, Karen says; I definitely look forward to seeing how it will transform in the next 5 years. Small businesses grow, just as the people behind them grow as well.  It’s a creative synergy. I couldn’t agree more! I was given a sneak peek of the new site – which will officially launch on June 1st, 2015 – and was blown away by the sheer beauty of it. Everything Karen set out to accomplish with the relaunch has been brought into fruition and I cannot wait for other lovers of pretty things to check it out!

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

An ode to mothers + @Gelaskins Giveaway

Bursting the Bubble, Family Time, Giveaways, Products and Brands, Toronto Adventures
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An ode to my mother
*clears throat*
my mother is pretty and sweet and strong
she can give you a look to ensure you do no wrong
she wiped my butt when i was a little wee one
and let me sleep in her bed when i broke up with my love
 
most days i’m like her and it scares us both
bossy and stubborn with OCD, but i love her the most
she looks out for me and worries something fierce
when i do something stupid it brings her to tears
 
she sometimes forgets that i’m all growed up 
i sometimes forget that she knows i’m naive 
she sometimes forgets that i listen to her
i sometimes forget that i am who i am because of she
 

So that definitely wasn’t my BEST attempt at poetry but you get the idea. I love my Mum and Mums everywhere. My friends at Gelaskins love Mums too which is why we’ve partnered up for another $50 Gift Code at Gelaskins.com for you OR for you to use as a gift for your Mum! Good luck! Xo

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

 
 

ecojot: my lover

Giveaways, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Products and Brands

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In the journal I do not just express myself more openly than I could to any person; I create myself.

The journal is a vehicle for my sense of selfhood. It represents me as emotionally and spiritually independent. Therefore (alas) it does not simply record my actual, daily life but rather — in many cases — offers an alternative to it.

— Susan Sontag 

Everyone uses their journal/diary/notebook for something different. Some jot notes, some make lists, some draw, and some record their thoughts. My journal goes everywhere with me: I keep all of my thoughts, my feelings, and inspiration on hand, or close by. I’m not big on making notes or lists on my phone, I hate using apps to draw pictures, and I detest writing straight on my computer — I need to write everything out by hand first. As such I am always on the lookout for a great notebook. Something affordable, lined, cute, and inspiring. I’ve purchased ecojot notebooks at Chapters in the past and received one as a gift from Casie when we went to the AGO. Not only do they carry super cute journals (my favourite have famous quotes on them) BUT they have eco-friendly paper AND they are a company with a cause.

bc087_BCorp_Ecojot_AdThanks to their GIVE Program, which launched in 2010,  ecojot has “donated over 250,000 workbooks and 44,000 pens to children in Haiti, Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, Poland, Honduras, Niger, St. Lucia, Granada, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and many more”. With a portion of ecojot’s sales their mission to give children the proper tools to learn has been successful, and that is something I can stand behind.

I’ve partnered with ecojot to give away a $20 gift card to one of my readers! To enter, follow ecjot on Instagram then head over to my Instagram, give me a follow and LIKE and comment on the photo of my latest ecojot notebook purchase (below)!

Contest runs from right nowww to February 23rd at 9 A.M.

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P.S. ecojot is working on something super amazing called ecojot connect. It’ll be available in March(ish) and I cannot wait until it does! Think notebook meets tech meets awesomeness of all sorts. It’s super convenient and it’ll bring your notes/thoughts/drawings right to the palm of your hand.

ecojotconnectMarch_Jan14-1

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

Disclosure: I contacted ecojot because I am seriously in love with their notebooks. In exchange for a post I received the opportunity to give away a $20 gift card and a $40 gift card for myself to use at ecojot. The notebook pictured in this post and on my Instagram was purchased by me with my own money.

All photos were taken from the ecojot website, except for the one I took. 

ecojot: the lover of writers (well, this writer).

Giveaways, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Products and Brands

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In the journal I do not just express myself more openly than I could to any person; I create myself.

The journal is a vehicle for my sense of selfhood. It represents me as emotionally and spiritually independent. Therefore (alas) it does not simply record my actual, daily life but rather — in many cases — offers an alternative to it.

— Susan Sontag 

Everyone uses their journal/diary/notebook for something different. Some jot notes, some make lists, some draw, and some record their thoughts. My journal goes everywhere with me: I keep all of my thoughts, my feelings, and inspiration on hand, or close by. I’m not big on making notes or lists on my phone, I hate using apps to draw pictures, and I detest writing straight on my computer — I need to write everything out by hand first. As such I am always on the lookout for a great notebook. Something affordable, lined, cute, and inspiring. I’ve purchased ecojot notebooks at Chapters in the past and received one as a gift from Casie when we went to the AGO. Not only do they carry super cute journals (my favourite have famous quotes on them) BUT they have eco-friendly paper AND they are a company with a cause.

bc087_BCorp_Ecojot_AdThanks to their GIVE Program, which launched in 2010,  ecojot has “donated over 250,000 workbooks and 44,000 pens to children in Haiti, Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, Poland, Honduras, Niger, St. Lucia, Granada, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and many more”. With a portion of ecojot’s sales their mission to give children the proper tools to learn has been successful, and that is something I can stand behind.

All that being said, I’ve partnered with ecojot to give away a $20 gift card to one of my readers! To enter is head over to my Instagram, give me a follow and LIKE the photo of my latest ecojot notebook purchase! Contest runs from right nowww to February 23rd at 9 A.M.

P.S. ecojot is working on something super amazing called ecojot connect. It’ll be available in March(ish) and I cannot wait until it does! Think notebook meets tech meets awesomeness of all sorts. It’s super convenient and it’ll bring your notes/thoughts/drawings right to the palm of your hand.

ecojotconnectMarch_Jan14-1

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

Disclosure: I contacted ecojot because I am seriously in love with their notebooks. In exchange for a post I received the opportunity to give away a $20 gift card and a $40 gift card for myself to use at ecojot. The notebook pictured in this post and on my Instagram was purchased by me with my own money.

All photos were taken from the ecojot website, except for the one I took. 

Wake [Book Review]

Book Reviews, Giveaways, Just for Fun

Blog Header- Wake by AnnaHope

Wake: 1) Emerge or cause to emerge from sleep 2) Ritual for the dead 3) Consequence or aftermath.

Hettie, a dance instructress at the Palais, lives at home with her mother and her brother, mute and lost after his return from the war. One night, at work, she meets a wealthy, educated man and has reason to think he is as smitten with her as she is with him. Still there is something distracted about him, something she cannot reach…Evelyn works at the Pensions Exchange through which thousands of men have claimed benefits from wounds or debilitating distress. Embittered by her own loss, more and more estranged from her posh parents, she looks for solace in her adored brother who has not been the same since he returned from the front…Ada is beset by visions of her son on every street, convinced he is still alive. Helpless, her loving husband of 25 years has withdrawn from her. Then one day a young man appears at her door with notions to peddle, like hundreds of out of work veterans. But when he shows signs of being seriously disturbed-she recognizes the symptoms of “shell shock”-and utters the name of her son she is jolted to the core…

The lives of these three women are braided together, their stories gathering tremendous power as the ties that bind them become clear, and the body of the unknown soldier moves closer and closer to its final resting place.

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I am absolutely thrilled to be part of Random House’s blog tour for Wake by Anna Hope. As a huge fan of historical fiction I couldn’t say no to such an interesting debut novel!

I read this novel in two days, unable to keep the manuscript version of it out of my paws. The story goes back and forth between Ava, Evelyn, and Hettie, all grieving for someone, all stuck in a sleep-like trance, barely there, barely living. I found myself transfixed by Hettie and this mysterious man James, my heart ached for Ava and Evelyn and the losses they both suffered. All I wanted for them was to wake up and find peace, to make their own peace. As the story progressed and I learned more about how all three women are connected, I felt my anxiety grow. The way that Anna Hope intertwines the lives of these three women is remarkable and entrancing. Her characters (and their pain) is so raw that you can’t help but feel attached and responsible for them — and I’m not just talking about the three main women in the novel either. Flashbacks to fighting in the war, the horrible things that war made the men do, the life altering injuries they suffered, the nerves and shell-shock that they go through rocks you to your core.

What I like so much about Wake is the way that Anna Hope shows you both sides of the war, it wakes you up to its harsh realities. This warm and fluid novel leaves you breathless to the very last sentence… and FYI, the last sentence…it kind of rocks.

“I’ll remember you, he thinks, and as the gun carriage, with its coffin and its dented helmet pass him by, he closes his eyes.

Nothing will bring them back. Not the words of comfortable men. Not the words of politicians. Or the platitudes of paid poets.”
― Anna HopeWake: A Novel

Interested in what the other bloggers had to say about it? Click here, here, here, and here.

Then leave a comment below to enter to win a copy of WAKE from Random House of Canada!

Contest closes on February 16th!

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

Disclosure: I received a copy of Wake from Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review. 

Photo Credit and Synopsis: Random House of Canada

Quote from: Goodreads

@PenguinCanada’s Daily December Delights!

Book Reviews, Giveaways, Just for Fun, Products and Brands, Toronto Adventures

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I’m super excited to be part of Penguin Canada’s Daily December Delightswhere YOU (an avid reader and awesome individual) will be introduced to a different book every day of the month! Not only that but you can enter to win a copy of these books every day! There’s also a chance to win a $750 Library from Penguin — talk about a Happy Holiday! Myself and many other wonderful bloggers will be reviewing the featured books to help you narrow down which title is perfect for you!

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Get ready to Rock and Roll READ!

We’re already on day THREE!

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

@PenguinCanada's Daily December Delights!

Book Reviews, Giveaways, Just for Fun, Products and Brands, Toronto Adventures

BloggerBadge_Penguin

I’m super excited to be part of Penguin Canada’s Daily December Delightswhere YOU (an avid reader and awesome individual) will be introduced to a different book every day of the month! Not only that but you can enter to win a copy of these books every day! There’s also a chance to win a $750 Library from Penguin — talk about a Happy Holiday! Myself and many other wonderful bloggers will be reviewing the featured books to help you narrow down which title is perfect for you!

holiday-right-banner

Get ready to Rock and Roll READ!

We’re already on day THREE!

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

Trend Trunk Mystery Gift Cards… for you!

Fashion & Beauty, Giveaways, Just for Fun, Toronto Adventures

I’ve recently discovered an incredible website for the fashion-forward gal! It’s called Trend Trunk and they’re a company based out of Oakville who just so happened to appear on Dragon’s Den on November 6th. So, what is Trend Trunk?

Screen Shot 2013-11-27 at 7.49.53 AMTrend Trunk is a social marketplace where you can buy, sell, and donate amazing new and pre-loved fashion in a fun and simple way.  Their aim is to inspire and collaborate with the fashion-minded and budget-conscious community in a trustworthy environment. They believe that one person’s lonely wardrobe is another’s true love! If you’ve got items you’re not in love with anymore, you can ‘cash in your closet’ and use those funds to shop a users’ closet whose style you love, donate those funds to your favourite charity, or get the funds deposited directly into your bank account.

Trend Trunk aims to help you:

  1. Make money by cashing in your closet of all those stylish and fashionable items you have tucked away
  2. Save money by shopping fellow members’ closets full of brand new to pre-loved styles they love
  3. And look good doing it!

The best part about this website? They take care of all the nitty-gritty for you. THEY manage the payment and shipping, so you don’t have to. A seller receives a prepaid / preaddressed shipping label in their email when a sale is made. Simply print, pack, and ship. So there’s no need to meet up with someone in a darkened alleyway to sell your clothes or have someone haggle you to lower the price (unlike other websites). You avoid all of those creepy situations and can sell your clothes, shoes, and accessories from the comfort of your home. AND if you want to feel good and look good at the same time, they’ve combined fashion and fundraising through their Closets & Causes program which allows you to donate up to 100% of your net sale proceeds to any charity in Canada.  Plus, you’ll receive a tax receipt for the donated value—so it’s a win-win. Click here to find out more about the selling and shopping process.

Screen Shot 2013-11-27 at 7.51.09 AMI already have my own account set up and a lust list that just keeps growing. But enough about me. How about something for YOU? I’ve partnered up with Trend Trunk for a fabulous giveaway. Here’s how it works: click the photo below or right HERE.

Screen Shot 2013-11-28 at 4.37.43 PMThen enter your email address and could receive a gift card up to $250 to use on TREND TRUNK! Every card has a value ranging from $5, $10, $25, $50 and $250. Don’t forget to read the fine print and let me know what you buy!

Happy Holidays!

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

Jonathan Adler Boutique [GIVEAWAY With @Papyrus_Online]

Giveaways, Just for Fun, Products and Brands, Toronto Adventures

You don’t have to know my well to understand that I prefer pen and paper to my cell phone, laptop, etc etc. I like being organized, I like writing down important dates or plans, I like highlighting, and I LOVE agendas. So, I approached my favourite stationery store and we’ve partnered up to get you all ready for the next school year, or simply, to get your life a little more organized!

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Phone covers, key chains, travel mugs… oh my! The Jonathan Adler boutique showcases a diverse offering of fun gifts with geometric patterns, groovy hues and modern appeal. These handpicked nifty gifties include an assortment of items for home, office or on-the-go. With a variety of Jonathan Adler gifts to choose from, why not add a little colour to your everyday?

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So, obviously I want all of the bright and wonderful products shown above but first and foremost, this blogger needs an agenda. I’m the kind of gal who likes to keep track of blog posts that are due, keep tabs on my appointments or fun events coming up, and I’ve had an agenda every year since JK (or shortly thereafter). I received this bright and beautiful Jonathan Adler 17 month agenda yesterday and literally felt giddy at the prospect of penciling things in! Best of all, I was sent a second agenda to giveaway right here on My Pen, My Voice (hence this post’s title).

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To enter you must:

TWEET : I want to start organizing my life with a Jonathan Adler Agenda from @VanessaGrillone and @Papyrus_Online

OR simply LIKE my photo on INSTAGRAM of the JA Agenda I’m giving away!

** Open to Canadian entrants only — winner will be chosen at random on August 19th, 2013**

___

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

The Red Bow Shoppe [GIVEAWAY]

Fashion & Beauty, Giveaways, Products and Brands

Photo from The Red Bow ShoppeI love discovering new brands that have something unique to offer to their customers. I am a fanatic for dainty jewelry, versatile accessories, handbags, and notebooks, so when my cousin told me about The Red Bow Shoppe, I knew I had to check it out. The Red Bow is an online shoppe inspired by Hello Kitty and the Iconic ‘Red Bow’ for fashionable, grown-up Hello Kitty fans with luxe taste. Each piece is chosen by Karen (the owner) herself, where she hopes each customer will find a little everyday luxury to add to their style. I browsed their website and quickly fell in love with a few pieces…

I got in touch with Karen and we’ve teamed up to provide my readers and followers with a wonderful giveaway. As summer is just around the corner WE want to know what your summer plans/dreams/memories are. What can you win? A Red Ibiza Notebook — to keep track of all your summer adventures and a Red Bow Besties Bracelet.

To enter you must follow @theredbowshoppe on Twitter and like their Facebook Page

THEN

 TWEET or INSTAGRAM a picture that represents your Summer Dreams and give us a little explanation too.

Be sure to include @redbowshoppe and @VanessaGrillone in your Tweets/Instagram Pictures as well as the hashtag #RedBowSummer

 The contest is NOW OPEN — the last day to enter is June 26th at which time a winner will be chosen!

Best of LUCK!

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

** This contest is open to Canadian entrants only **