Marketplace: Back to School Favourites

Back to school season is the busiest for me. While I know many of my readers – and bloggers who I follow – have been getting their kiddies ready for the season, I’ve been busy on the other end of the school life. I work at the university, I teach, and I take courses, too. I have to get myself ready – not just for my professor life, but also for my student life. And this all means that September is the start of everything. These last couple of weeks have been very hectic as I’ve been adapting to my new routine, trying to remember my schedule, and figuring out when to do all the other stuff in my life – friends, family, chores – during the week.

To help me stay organized, here are four of my must-haves for school and work.

1. Agenda

I used to buy whatever agenda seemed cute and affordable. For the last couple of years though, I’ve opted for the Moleskine agenda that has the calendar on one side and a notes page on the other. I absolutely adore this set-up. It’s two notebooks in one for me. I’ve gotten rid of my “ideas/to do lists/things to remember” notebook, and simply carry around one sweet Moleskine. I have yet to find a white agenda version, so I’ve opted for red for the second year in a row.

Moleskine agenda

2. Binders

While I’m fairly tech-savvy, I am traditional when it comes to reading materials and taking notes for my MBA classes. As in – I read off of printed paper, and I write notes on paper, too. The way that my MBA courses are set up this term, I am finding it best to gather my readings and notes in binders.

white binder

3. Water Bottle

I am trying (again) to cut down on coffee and tea consumption. My water intake has always been really good, but it gets even easier when I have a water bottle on my desk. This one from bkr is rock ‘n roll cool!

water bottle

4. Tote bag

I normally carry my Timbuk2 El Rio backpack to/from school/work every day, but I sometimes have to alternate my backpack with a tote depending on what my day holds. I have several Longchamp Le Pliage totes, so it’s easy enough to grab one and go.

tote bag




Two for Tuesday: Backpacks

Happy back to school day/week! I do love back to school season because it feels like it’s a fresh start. Sure, this time of year can be anxious for many what with new routines and end of summer vacation, but hopefully after this week, the stress will disappear.

In honour of the season, here are two white backpacks from brands that I know the university crowd supports!

daypack, $44.99 USD, Herschel

backpack, $36 USD, Jansport

Marketplace: Timbuk2

Okay – so we all know I love school. I have been a student for all of my life (yes, it’s true), and when I have actually taken a pause from¬†wearing a student hat, I have¬†been a teacher and professor. Education is my thing (in addition to design, of course) and back-to-school season¬†is one of my favourite seasons. Yes, I’m that kind of person.

When I started MBA classes in September, I soon realized that I needed a backpack. While carrying a¬†cute canvas tote was okay, I realized that it wasn’t so great for my back¬†once it was stuffed with my text, notebook, laptop, lunch,¬†etc. On top of that, I also carried a separate purse. Anyway, I started my search¬†for a¬†good quality backpack in the fall. I looked at backpacks in a variety of stores, but nothing really caught my attention. Maybe I was too used to purse shopping! These were my backpack requirements:¬†comfortable, sleek, roomy, not bulky, reliable, well-made, lightweight, affordable, and¬†a bit out of the ordinary. When Jeff told me about his positive experience with San Francisco-based Timbuk2¬†bags, I¬†added this company to my research list (thanks, Jeff).

Timbuk2¬†specializes in bags that are put to major tests (i.e., cycling and hiking) and its collection include¬†messenger bags, backpacks, and computer-safe bags. I¬†liked the¬†selection of sizes,¬†styles, and colours, but what I especially appreciated from the Timbuk2 website was the demonstration videos¬†of each bag.¬†Since I¬†couldn’t¬†see a bag in person, watching these videos helped me¬†better¬†understand each backpack’s size and features.

I was set to order theEl Rio Laptop backpack in black because¬†I like that it’s simple, has a lot of¬†pockets, and has a sweet interior lining. That’s good design, I tell you! Here it is in white:


El Rio laptop backpack, $99

I have used my El Rio for a week now, and it has served me very well! It is¬†very comfortable, very lightweight, well-made, and well-designed. This backpack¬†has several useful good-sized pockets¬†on its¬†exterior and interior, and I have managed to make use of them all (chapstick pocket, phone pocket, paperwork¬†pocket, notebook pocket, etc.). The large interior compartment easily fits my laptop, textbook, notebook, other notebook, lunch, water bottle, and a pair of shoes. It has changed how I walk to work – I’m sure I’m faster now!

The size of the El Rio is a good one for someone like me, but there were other ones that could serve more active purposes:


Especial Medio Cycling laptop backpack, $179


Especial Raider backpack, $79


Especial Tres Cycling backpack, $209


Terracycle showdown laptop backpack, $99

Timbuk2’s collection¬†includes more than backpacks, and there’s even a custom option that allows you to design a bag with your choice of colours and patterns.


Scrunchie yoga mat tote bag, $89

express shoulder bag timbuk2

Express shoulder bag, $59


custom swig laptop backpack, $129


custom envelope tablet sleeve, $39

I also like that there’s a size guide as easy to follow as the one below.¬†These kinds of details in online shops really help to visualize the product in real life, don’t you think?


I¬†have had “buy backpack” on my to do list for months now, and I’m thrilled to say that¬†I have now crossed this item off! Yay!

Many thanks to Defne and Timbuk2 for generously offering to send me the El Rio. So far, so good!

20 Below: To Do List Notepad by Garance Doré

I love back to school season! Of course I’m sad to see summer end, but I love the energy and excitement¬†of September’s early days.

I’m heading back to back to school¬†(I’ve never really left, actually), and¬†one of the most essential things I have to have is my daily/weekly to do lists. I like to set attainable goals for my day/week, and if I don’t write down¬†tasks and reminders, I’ll completely forget about them.



Garance Doré notepad, $5 (on sale at Chapters Indigo)

Isn’t this a classy notepad?¬†That Garance Dor√© has got some style!

Marketplace: Back to School Essentials

I have spent more time in school than out of school, so please believe me when I tell you that these are some of the¬†most essential back-to-school items. Pretty much any age group would make good use of these items, I’d say.



1. Water bottle. I have a¬†few reusable water bottles that I bring to school/work¬†every day. A lot of¬†university campuses now have good drinking fountains and water-filling stations, so there’s no excuse not to drink water all day long to stay hydrated.

2. Reusable lunch box/bag. I always pack a lunch because I get bored of university cafeterias and the quick grab-and-go meals at Starbucks or elsewhere are too expensive and high in calories.

3. A pencil case.¬†I carry my pens and pencils in¬†a small case so that they’re easy to find and won’t make a mess in my purse/tote/backpack.

4. Backpack. Speaking of backpacks, I don’t actually have one yet. I’m still looking for one that is lightweight and comfortable. I’m going to start this school year with my lightweight and washable¬†HBC¬†striped tote.

5. Pens and pencils. Although I love my computer, I take a lot of my notes by hand. Pens and pencils are a must. I always have a Sharpie or two nearby as well. Highlighters, on the other hand, I rarely use. Last year, I was given some Palomino pencils and I still make good use of them, They look so darn good!

6. Notebooks. Did you notice the plural? Yes, I¬†stay organized by using a variety of notebooks. Each¬†notebook has a job – work, home renos, school, etc. Most of my notebooks are Jordi Labanda¬†or¬†Moleskine, but I’m open to using basically anything that is cute and has nice paper (they are often black or white, but not always). I prefer lined notebooks, but¬†I¬†think unlined notebooks are great for¬†people who want to really spread out over the pages. My writing is nowhere near neat, so¬†I need the lines to help keep me steady.

7. An apple. Okay, the CB2 apple above is just for decor. But, still. It’s traditional. Eat one. Draw one. Take an Instagram picture of one. Bring one to a teacher.

8. Laptop and protective sleeve. I think I would be lost without my laptop. I keep mine protected in a basic MEC sleeve, but I really have my eye on this one from

These are the basic back-to-school necessities. A computer, phone, coffee mug, earplugs, library card, file folders, binders, etc. are additional items that come in handy and help me stay organized and focused.

Who is ready to learn something new this school year?

Details of items available at Polyvore.