The blanket scarf
the blanket scarf
the blanket scarf
by the sea
the blanket scarf
by the sea
The Seaside and the Soul
the blanket scarf

    When I visited the beach last weekend in Cornwall, I was pleasantly surprised by the weather! I was expecting icy wind and rain, but it was clear and calm with just a slight breath of wind off the sea. Perfect weather for strolling around on the sand snapping photos and connecting with friends. My blanket scarf was the perfect accessory to ward off the cool breeze coming in from the ocean. 
What I'm Wearing 
Scarf: Zara
Jumper: Primark 
Jeans: TopShop
Boots: Clarks

*Photos of me by Carmen 


The Seaside and the Soul
The Seaside and the Soul

    How does one describe the sea? The vastness, the power, the constant motion. It's an entity, never ceasing, hungrily reaching for the shore with every wave. From gentle swells lapping the sand, to surging crashes upon the rocks, always back and forth and back and forth, ever reaching, never ceasing.
     Faced with the immensity of this natural beast, my soul comes alive. The briny air brightens my eyes and brings colour to my cheeks. The salt coats my lips. The wind pulls at me, beckoning me closer. My footprints are memories, smoothed by the foamy waves curling over the sand. And as my eyes scan the horizon filled with nothing but shades of blue and grey, I am overwhelmed with my smallness, my insignificance in this grand creation. The sea cares nothing for me. It yearns for what it cannot have and would pull me under without hesitation, the current spiriting me away as it surges forward in another vain attempt to grasp the shore. 
     It's enough to bring me to my knees.
   But I stand there, in love with the moment my soul finds perspective on the endless horizon and hope in the persistence of the ever-moving sea.

The Seaside and the Soul



Outfit: the Cape
Outfit: the Cape
Outfit: the Cape
Outfit: the Cape
Outfit: the Cape

     Let's talk about this cape. I like to think that we were brought together by fate. Way back in 2013 I was thrift shop-hopping (it's a thing) with some friends in the cute little town of Ladysmith, on Vancouver Island. The wonderful thing about Ladysmith (and the majority of VI, come to think of it) is the large population of retirees. Where there are elderly people, there many a vintage treasure shall be found. Sounds kind of like a proverb. It's true, though.
     Anyways, back to the cape. I had been dreaming of finding the perfect cape for a few months prior to this shop-hop - all the better if it was vintage. We wandered into an eclectic second-hand/vintage shop chalk full of home wares, furniture, books, and all manner of vintage treasures. As we were perusing, a black and white pattern caught my eye. It was this cape, casually draped over the back of a chair, calling out to me with its adorable fabric-covered buttons and lovely little collar.
    I snatched it up, checking all over for a price, but there was no tag to be found. Heart beating unnecessarily fast, I took it up to the counter to ask if it was indeed for sale, and if it was, what the price might be. To my delight, the cape had just arrived in the shop and the lady hadn't even had a chance to put the price tag on it! To make things even better it was very much within my budget, and it fit like a glove. Needless to say, the cape became mine that day and I have loved it ever since.
    I would eventually love to add another cape to my closet, perhaps in a solid colour, but I don't want to make this black-and-white beauty too jealous, so I'll hold off on that for now.

What I'm Wearing
Hat: H&M
Cape: vintage
Striped top: H&M
Collared top: H&M
Faux leather skirt: Zara
Belt: vintage
Shoes: the Bay

*Photos by Carmen

Much love,



resolve [ri-zolv] noun; firmness of purpose or intent; determination
The first week of 2016 is almost behind us (hard to believe, I know!). Last year I didn't really set any resolutions. In January I remember deciding that I wanted to focus on reading more, so I started documenting the books I completed. I ended up reading over thirty books in 2015, so I suppose I was successful in my unofficial resolution, although I didn't really set a number, I just wanted to focus on reading 'more.' 

This time round, though, I spent a bit more time thinking about the year ahead and what I hope it will look like for me. I love the idea of summarizing the year with specific words, so that's what I did.

Here are my words for 2016:

simplify [sim-pluh-fahy] verb; to make less complex or complicated
This resolution began with feelings of discontent with my wardrobe. You know the story: all the clothes, nothing to wear. I found myself craving classic, quality pieces that I just haven't been investing in. I wouldn't call myself an impulse buyer but a super tight budget paired with absolutely no wardrobe planning equates a poorly thought out closet with little-to-no cohesion. From a style perspective, my tastes have been changing, as well (I like to think that my taste is getting more and more refined, but who knows), which has led to a desire for change. Simplicity.
I am finding this desire for simplicity spill over into other areas of my life, as well. From our home (why do we have so much stuff?!) to my schedule, I'm craving simplicity so I can set myself up for better focus and better enjoyment of the things that are important.
One of the first steps I'm taking in this simplifying process is clearing out my wardrobe and parting with the clothing I just don't wear anymore. I've decided to sell my gently-worn, pre-loved clothes on Instagram (@shop.carley.lee). I'll be posting the lot next week, so be sure to follow along if you're in the UK and fancy finding something new.

persevere [per-suh-veer] verb; to persist in anything undertaken; maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty; continue steadfastly
When I first moved to the UK just over a year ago, I really felt it was necessary to just sit back and allow things to happen. 'Don't push it,' I told myself. See where things go. That mindset crossed over into the whole of 2015, and it was a really great learning experience. I'm naturally a control-freak, so doing my best to step back and let go was a bit difficult, to say the least, but I learned the importance of perspective.
This year, 2016, I'm endeavoring to step up and step out. I'm ready to lean in and persist in the things that are most important, and I want to seek out experiences and opportunities that will push me to be the best version of myself.

be confident [kon-fi-duh nt] adjective; sure of oneself; bold
And of course, in order to persevere, in order to simplify, I will need to be confident in my decisions, my actions, and myself. The past twelve months I have struggled with my self-esteem, lack of confidence, self-doubt, identity... and I'm ready to take a step forward and away from those struggles. Easier said than done, but I fell that having identified and addressed those struggles I can now make a conscious effort to move forward with renewed strength and confidence.

I am really expectant for what 2016 has to bring, and I hope you are, too!

Much love,

Welcome to Life Style Story

Happy 2016!

     For those of you who are new here, welcome! To those of you who have hopped over from my old blog, welcome and thank you for sticking with me!
     So here we are, a brand new year and a brand new blog (the cliché hasn’t escaped me – I wonder how many other new blogs have been started this week).
     Technically this isn’t my first foray into the blogging world. My previous blog saw me through three years of life, including a move halfway across the world. After that, though, things started getting a bit stale. I tried changing the name to give me more freedom, but the space began to feel more restricting than freeing. I spent some time away from blogging to reflect on what was holding me back. Life got busy, though, and while I didn’t do as much reflecting as I hoped, I did come to the realization that I was craving significant change. A blank canvas. A fresh start.
     And that brings me here to Life Style Story – a name that hopefully encompasses the things I’m passionate about exploring and sharing here.
    To make things a bit more interesting during these first few weeks of building up posts, I have included some of my favourite posts from my previous blog that I feel fit this space. Feel free to peruse them at your leisure, should they interest you! If you're brand new, be sure to check out my 'about me' page. Questions? Put it down in the comment section or email me and I'll do my best to answer!

      This blog is first and foremost dedicated to creativity. More specifically, it’s dedicated to exploring creativity in life, in style, and in the stories you and I have to share with the world.

I do hope you find something worth coming back for.


A Place to Flourish

West Coast Wild

     From the moment we stepped foot in the UK, I have made a conscious effort to refer to Oxford as our home, and Canada as 'where we are from' or 'where I grew up.' This isn't because I wanted to distance myself from my roots, or cut myself off from my past - far from it! I'm proud to be Canadian, and incredibly grateful for the time I spent living there. I knew, however, that it would be mentally and emotionally difficult to continue referring to Canada as 'home' when we were in the process of building a new home in a new city. 
    That effort was put to the test when it came to our recent trip to Canada this summer. Many people referred to our trip as 'visiting home' or 'going home' and while we were there we received many comments like 'you must be so glad to be home' and 'what's it like being back home after all this time?' 
     It can be difficult to articulate the journey of leaving a childhood hometown and putting down roots in a new city. Of course, the concept of 'home' stretches much further than a physical location. It encompasses relationships, memories, experiences, and a whole myriad of other complex mental and emotional associations. 
     I will be honest, I was worried that when we traveled back to Canada I would have a hard time coming back to the UK. The week prior to our flight out of London I felt ill with excitement, willing time to slow down because I knew the sooner it arrived, the sooner it would pass by so quickly. I couldn't wait to see my family and friends, to be in such a familiar place, to see the mountains and be close to the ocean.
     It came as a surprise to me how much I was looking forward to coming home to Oxford. Of course I enjoyed every single second of our time in Canada, visiting dear friends and family and enjoying the picturesque West Coast; however our visit felt so surreal. It was a holiday from the everyday life we have been building here in the UK. 
     Coming home to Oxford meant coming home to a job, to Mark's studies, to a beautiful city that has stolen my heart with it's history and charm, and to blossoming friendships that I have come to cherish so deeply.
     One of the dictionary definitions of 'home' is a place where something flourishes. That couldn't be more true for me here in Oxford - there is so much here for us right now.
      Yes, a wild, untamed, fierce part of my heart will always be held and defined by the rugged west coast of Canada where I was raised and loved and encouraged to chase my dreams, but for this new season, Oxford is my home
      Oxford is where I have found a place to grow, to learn, to explore, to be challenged. To flourish. 

West Coast Wild

Outfit - Vintage Skirt & Polka Dot Blouse

Maybe I'm Crazy
Maybe I'm Crazy
Maybe I'm Crazy
Maybe I'm Crazy
Maybe I'm Crazy
Maybe I'm Crazy

     Taking outfit photos is a necessary evil when it comes to fashion/lifestyle blogging, if you ask me. I do love the editing process, and I don't mind so much other people taking my picture, but I still struggle with taking my own outfit photos. I feel like such a dork standing there with my tripod and remote taking pictures of myself. Confidence issues I guess.
     The other day I read and shared an article on my Facebook page about bloggers' awkward photoshoot moments. I definitely identified with more than one of the stories shared, and it brought me back to a particularly awkward moment when I was taking outfit photos: the moment my purse got stolen. 
     Yep. Friends, while the above outfit photos were being taken, a thief was at large! There I was, snapping away with my tripod and remote, my bag, jacket, and camera case in plain sight, only a few arm-lengths away from where I was standing, and someone snatched my purse when I wasn't looking. Awkward. 
     What makes it slightly worse for me is that it had taken me some time to gather up the courage to take outfit photos in a more public environment (albeit, a quiet public environment). This is a relatively quiet square in a friendly neighbourhood just down from one of my favourite pubs, not far at all from where I live, so I though it would be a great place to start. Ha!
     Only a handful of people passed by me during this time and I was so preoccupied with not looking silly that I didn't even notice someone riding by on a bicycle and swiping my things! I can only imagine what was going through his head when he saw me there. When I walked over to change my camera lens a little while later, my heart plummeted as I realized my handbag was gone, with my wallet, phone, keys, journal and e-reader in it. Dang. 
      To make matters worse, when I filed the police report I had to explain that I was taking photos when the theft occurred. I did mention that I had my tripod... but conveniently left out that the subject of my photos was me. I was mortified and utterly embarrassed. 
     The thing is, though, I kind of feel like I can take outfit photos anywhere now. Well, almost anywhere. I'll certainly go back to this location... I'll just make sure to keep my purse a bit closer to hand next time. 

     Cheers, friends!
This is a bit of a tongue-and-cheek version of the story now that I've had time to process it - you can read more about how I was feeling on the actual day HERE

 What I'm Wearing:
Blouse: H&M
Belt: vintage
Skirt: vintage (altered from dress)
Flats: Ardene 

Keeping Organized with the Weekly Times

Weekly Times
      One of the things I miss most about being in school is school supply shopping. That annual trip to collect the essentials, pick out matching binders and notebooks, and peruse the aisles for completely unnecessary bits and bobs was one of the best parts of the school year (if you ask me). There was something magical about starting fresh with a binder full of crisp lined paper, unmarked dividers, and a freshly sharpened pencil. 
     Even now I am still drawn to beautifully designed notebooks, beautiful greeting cards and fun labels, and my search still continues for the elusive perfect pen. 
     Yes, I do love stationary. However, every year I find myself in the same dilemma: finding the perfect planner. I admire people who can keep their schedules neatly recorded in their smartphones and keep on top of everything. I must physically write it all down and be able to look at everything that's happening during any given week. Thus, the search begins at the start of every year (ahem, the academic start to every year) for a planner where I can pen all my plans and keep organized. This year was no different. My calendar came to an end mid-September and I struck out in search of a new one. And search I did. At first I didn't have any specific idea of what I wanted, but as I visited stationary shop after stationary shop, my idea of the perfect planner got narrower and narrower. I just couldn't find anything I liked! Finally I gave up on the brick-and-mortar shops at my disposal. To the Internet I went. 
     I typed into Google 'academic planner UK' and perused my options. As fate would have it, Fox and Star came up on my search - a site filled with beautiful notebooks, planners, journals and labels that any stationary-lover would appreciate. I first had my eye on a stunning Rifle Paper Co. diary, but alas, it was not budget friendly. But then I found The Weekly Times and all my planner-dreams came true! Before I could blink it was in my shopping cart and on its way.
     I can't tell you how excited I was when it arrived. It took all my willpower not to tear open the packaging and start scribbling away all my plans that had been hastily written down on scraps of paper for lack of a proper place to put them.
     As you can see, I held back long enough to snap a few pictures of the lovely hand-written note from the folks at Fox and Star before the plastic came off and the planning began! 

     Have a beautiful day, friends! May your plans be plenty and your week be organized!


Hair - Bodacious Bob Tutorial

Bodacious Bob Tutorial

Bodacious Bob Tutorial
Bodacious Bob Tutorial
     What you'll need: 
  • Velcro rollers (various sizes)
  • Bobby pins
  • Hair dryer
  • Hair spray
  • Volumizing powder (optional)
  • Teasing comb 
Bodacious Bob Tutorial
  • Start with freshly washed hair, roughly blow-dried with mousse or some other holding product. Leave hair slightly damp (depending on how much time you have to let your rollers set)
  • Starting at the top front of your hair, take two sections and roll them away from your face. Secure each roller with a pin.
  • Roll two more sections on each side, rolling under. 
  • Continue until your whole head is rolled, being sure to roll under.
  • Carefully blow dry each roller, allowing the hair to heat up. 
  • Spray with hair spray.

Bodacious Bob Tutorial
  • Wait. Finish your makeup, take a couple selfies, read a book - get creative and find something to do while your hair cools down and finishes drying.
Bodacious Bob Tutorial
  • Carefully remove all the rollers 
  • Run your fingers through your hair to gently relax the curls
  • If you're happy with this look, feel free to stop here. If you want more volume, continue on...
Bodacious Bob Tutorial
  • Take a section of hair about an inch back from your hairline (or in my case, fringe), sprinkle a light dusting of volumizing powder and gently tease. 
  • Continue this until you reach the crown of your head. 
  • Repeat on the front section, doing one side at a time on either side of your part. 
  • Gently smooth out the top layer with the teasing comb.
  • Done!

Bodacious Bob Tutorial
Bodacious Bob Tutorial
Bodacious Bob Tutorial

     There you have it - a bouncy, bodacious bob with all the volume a girl could ask for! This is a fun way to style the ever-popular long bob, but works equally well with longer hair.
     Any questions? Let me know in the comments below!

     Have a beautiful day!

If you're curious, I'm wearing Clinique's 'chubby stick intense' in 04 heftiest hibiscus on my lips and it's my new favourite lip colour ever! Cheers to my sister who passed it along my way!