Wednesday, January 30, 2013

January Favorites: Skin Care, Makeup and Hair Care

I can't wrap my head around the fact that Feb. 1st is on Friday. It honestly feels like January has just begun and our Christmas decorations were put away last week [well... that one is actually true] sighhh - I guess January has come and gone, and it's been part of a cold winter, that's for sure! We got a few days of -20C temperatures, but with wind chill, it felt like -40C. 

The cold winds definitely affected my skin because it became so, so dry. My hands did as well, and they are still in the recovery process. I neglected my skin and it got worse, to the point that liquid foundation just would not work [we all know that look] and thus, January became skin repair month! I purchased a new, gentler cleanser, various exfoliators [I tried out some natural recipes, too], and switched up my moisturizer, as well as drinking millions of milliliters of h2o - the good stuff. Some products didn't work, while many others worked wonders and remain in my winter cosmetic routine for the time being. Here are some reasons why these products passed the test, and a few of my other current favorite products:

Biotherm 'Biosource Biosensitive - Dermo Neutral Cleanser Gentle Milk': My skin has always been on the sensitive side, and using a harsh chemical cleanser was not helping whatsoever, thus I purchased a new, gentler cleanser for my skin. Biotherm's website says this cleanser is perfect for fragile skin and it repairs itself with the help of phyto-omegas 6 and 3, dermo-balancing ingredients and the equivalent of 5000 liters of thermal water concentrated in the cleanser. Daily application helped my skin levels of flaking, tightness and redness drastically decrease. It also has a neutral/spa-like scent - refreshing!

Macadamia Natural Oil: After only using the nourishing leave in cream only 3 times, I noticed a difference in the silkiness and strength in my hair. It smells delicious and it can be easily combed through with a wide tooth comb especially when your hair is full of knots and tangles. I like how the sample packages have enough product in them for you to use on two separate occasions.

MAC lipstick in the shade 'Brave Red': This one was a big purchase for me, because I've never been brave enough to pull off red lipstick, but I finally made my move. 'Brave Girl' is a creamsheen lipstick, with a creamy texture and a bit of gloss but it is not too sheer nor too bright. I would describe it as a cranberry/blood red. If you're looking for that Marilyn Monroe/Gwen Stefani bold red lip, this one probably isn't the best choice. However, if your a beginner to red lips, give Brave Red a try.

LUSH 'Dark Angels' Cleanser: Dark Angels is a deep cleansing charcoal scrub. Sounds intense, right? Once applied to the face, it becomes a gentle, nourishing scrub great for all skin types (especially oily skin), leaving a moisturized and soft texture behind. LUSH says, "it's a velvety cleanser, sprinkled with black sugar and powdered charcoal to gently exfoliate and cleanse away excess oils. We added antimicrobial rhassoul mud and vitamin-rich cold pressed organic avocado oil to soften, moisturize and nourish skin, as well as sandalwood and rosewood oils to soothe." Dark Angels has become a winter essential for my skin.

eos lip balm in 'Sweet Mint' : Did you know eos stands for evolution of smooth? With that kind of a name, you have high hopes for a truly smooth lip chap and this one definitely stays true to the name. It contains special ingredients such as Vitamin E, shea butter and jojoba oil that all aid in soothing dryness.The mint flavor is refreshing and not overpowering, and most importantly, it's cured my chapped lips! It's also 95% organic, paraben and petrolatum free.

Benefit's 'Hoola' Bronzer: In having fair skin, I've become critical of many bronzers on the market and there are plenty out there that simply do not flatter pale skin. Hoola is great because it is pigmented, so you don't need a little amount for one use. After tapping off the excess powder and brushing it onto my cheeks, forehead and the sides of my nose, it created a healthy, sun kissed, contoured look that brought my pale face to life in January. Another bonus is that Hoola does not have any added shimmer, aiding in the natural glow look.

Q: What are your January favorites, or winter skincare essentials?

Monday, January 28, 2013

All Dressed Up

 top: forever 21 // blazer: boutique in poland // jeans: forever 21
boots: urban behavior // necklace: sirens

If I'm given the choice to dress up, or dress down, I definitely dress down. Throw me a baggy, over sized shirt, skinny jeans and an over sized scarf and we can call it a day - especially when I'm attending classes. When the rare occasion comes around and I'm required to dress up, sometimes it's nice and refreshing to feel presentable and grown up. 

Looking back, I don't remember wearing this blazer out of the house, despite owning it for a year and a half.  I bought it from a boutique in Poland on my 2011 family vacation, but it's been hanging in my closet collecting dust because the fit just doesn't feel right. I've debated on getting it tailored, but I've also been looking at some blazers from Aritzia. I know they're good quality there, and the fit is exceptional... but the price is quite up there, too. What do you think - is a blazer a good investment piece? My other blazer [seen here] is a better fit and it has a softer feel to it which helps justify the price.

Q: Would you invest in a good quality blazer? What are your top investment pieces? 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday Finds 5

[an instagram shot of my breakfast a week ago
> eggs/toast/cucs/roasted tomato - delicious!]

Good morning! If you're like me you're always tried in the morning, no matter how many hours of sleep you manage to get. Instead of coffee, maybe I'll start having apples for an early morning energy boost - are apples better than coffee?

How gorgeous is this new navy Michael Kors bag? It comes in lime green and royal blue, too. I'll have one in every color - please and thank you!

There are so many different frosting recipes out there, but have you ever tried using avocado in you frosting? I bet you wouldn't think it was pictured above on the chocolate cupcakes either! This recipe makes them vegan and perhaps you won't feel as guilty eating it straight off of the spoon? I'm the kind of girl that says, "there's vegetables in this, guys!" Not that adventurous? Banana bourbon cupcakes are definitely up your alley!

On that banana note, I can't wait to try this honey banana walnut smoothie! Some days I eat 2 or 3 bananas a day... it's so bad my mom stopped buying them as often.

If you're a fan of denim, you're going to love the Canadian Tuxedo - I know I sure do!

Valentine's Day is a few weeks away, and there is still plenty of time to create cute DIY crafts. These newspaper hearts are simple to make, yet still adorable. Not all things related to Valentine's Day have to be pink or red!

There are certain artworks out there that really captivate you and inspire you to start painting again. Nick Knight's artwork is the perfect example of inspiring artwork to me. Take something beautiful, florals, put a unique, slightly destructive spin on them and they still look beautiful - I love that.

I'm sure we've all taken advantage of Sephora's vast collection of samples around the store - I know I sure have. Learn how to get ready FOR FREE at Sephora with these tips! It's a funny read if you need a laugh today!

A few days ago I heard something on TV that caught my attention. Researchers say this time of the year people are most sad. I mean it makes sense - holiday bills, failed resolutions, etc. If you're feeling like you're catching a bit of that winter sadness, maybe you should take a tip from this article and take care of yourself. It sounds simple, but we really can't help others be happy unless we truly are happy ourselves. Tips 2, 7 and 8 are my favorites. 

And I'll leave you off on a sweet note today with... peanut butter s'mores! ohhh yeah. Jumbo marshmallow + chcocolate + oreos sounds pretty good, but add in a heaping drop of peanut butter and you've got heaven in a few bites. S'more are messy, but if they weren't they wouldn't be s'mores, right? Yesterday was national peanut butter day [who comes up with these things??] so you should make these to celebrate - better late than never!

Q: What's been inspiring you this week?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

And the Color of 2013 is ...

At the end of 2012, Pantone announced the color of 2013: EMERALD! I have to say, I'm quite pleased with the choice because it is similar to turquoise, and turquoise is my favorite color [followed my mustard yellow, eggplant purple and dark grey... and then a handful more]! Turquoise is more of a cousin to blue, while emerald is a rich, dark shade of green. When I think of emerald, I think of a sophisticated color, one that is energizing, yet relaxed and balanced.

When I looked at the preview of this post, I noticed that my new layout was based around a shade of green - not emerald, but olive green. It's safe to say that I'm starting to become a fan of green! Whenever I find something inspiring, I like to put a collage together and that's what I did on my Tuesday afternoon [pictured above]. Also, I found a few more related emerald fashion picks/inspirations. Here are some of my favorite finds:

Make a statement with a bold pop of color with a tailored jacket, while the rest is neutral. 

I love all of these shades together.

If you want to add a subtle touch of emerald, stick to one accessory like the model above on the right has done. Can I pleeeeease have her Balenciaga bag?

Erdem's Pre-Fall 2013 looks feature many gorgeous emerald pieces. Erdem's focus on this collection was 'simple silhouettes whose impact was dramatically concentrated on texture and color'. Angliase lace paired with emerald gives off a sophisticated and ladylike vibe. 

Create a calendar with paint chips in emerald/green shades from the store!
[I'm actually thinking of doing this one for a simple DIY project]

Q: How would you incorporate Emerald into your 2013 wardrobe? I'm on the hunt for a tailored emerald jacket, as well as some emerald pointed toe flats for the spring time!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Stripes and Snow

Happy Monday! I hope you all had a great weekend and stayed warm. We're having pretty cold temps (duh, it's winter in Canada), but I managed to pull myself out of my cozy bed and take some outdoor outfit pictures. I tend to feel shy taking outfit pictures in public, although in the privacy of my backyard isn't really considered a public place... however, I'm trying to get more out of my comfort zone by taking more pictures in new environments. Next step... asking someone to take them for me! 

If there is any color I've been wearing a lot this season, it's got to be black [yes I know its not technically a color - shhh]. Black always matches my winter jacket that I'm basically living in, and it's simple to pull off. My striped top was purchased two summers ago in a Zara shop in Poland, and it definitely reminds me of a bumble bee! In order to avoid being compared to an insect, I added a pop of a color with a darker shade of red on my lips and my dad's socks from Roots. I'm loving the look of mid-calf socks with combat boots this season, and I'm seeing it a lot around campus, too. 

I have been playing around with my layout once again and I think I've found one that I think is here to stay [I probably say that every time]! Currently, I'm loving olive green so I based my theme around that color, adding it into my header and font colors. My 'about' page has also been updated, and I also created a bloglovin' page if you would like to follow me on that!

top: zara // jeggings: american eagle // socks: roots // boots: steve madden

Q: What do you think of my new layout? 
Do you have any big plans for the week?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

What's in my Purse + a Video!

One of my 2013 resolutions was to start making youtube videos, and after many takes of filming and hours of inexperienced editing, I've finally released my first video! I decided to do a 'what's in my purse' video since they are quite popular on youtube. The sun was setting quickly, so I didn't film in the best of lighting, but hey - live and learn. I've got a long ways to go if I want to upgrade my video making skills, but this is a start!

For more information on the bag, check out the Moop website.

Q: Let me know what you think, and what are your handbag daily essentials?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Meringue Cookies

Congratulations! You've made it into the third week of January in one piece and I think you deserve a treat! 

If I had to describe a meringue cookie in two words, the words 'crispy pillow' first come to my mind. Meringues have a crisp outer shell, that encompasses a delicate, fluffy melt-in-your-mouth cookie. They're not rich like shortbread, or boring like an oatmeal cookie [in my humble opinion], but they're sweet enough to be classified as a treat, and having two or three will definitely not weigh you down.

So, how do you make meringue cookies? It's rather simple and only takes 4 ingredients...

3 egg whites
1 + 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

A few simple steps:
Preheat your oven to 250F or 120C. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet.
Place 3 egg whites in a stainless steel bowl. Add salt and beat until stiff peaks are formed.
Beating constantly, gradually add the sugar and vanilla. Do not over beat the batter.
Drop tablespoons of the meringue batter into the prepared cookie sheet.
Bake for 60 minutes. 

I decided to spice the meringues up by adding a few drops of red food coloring and a teaspoon of peppermint extract. If you're adding coloring of flavors into the batter, I recommend you fold the ingredients in, rather than with a hand mixer, because the meringues will lose their volume and flatten once placed on the cookie sheet. 

To get the swirl effect, I used a decorative icing bag with an icing tip in the bottom corner. Then I placed a big spoonful of pink batter on one side of the bag, and vanilla on the other side. Once you start piping in circles, you get a pretty swirl pattern. It will take a few practice meringues - as you can see, my left column was a little weak, but my second one was much better.

3 different varieties - vanilla meringues dusted with almond chocolate, pink peppermint meringues and plain vanilla. I imagine a sweet, yellow lemon meringue would be delicious! 

Q: What's your favorite cookie?

Next recipe experiment for me... macaroons! They have a similar shell to the meringue cookies, but macaroons have ganache or filling in the center... now those are heavenly. 


Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Winter Warmth

Scarf: Urban Outfitters ~ Jumper: Zara ~ Belt: American Apparel ~ Pants: Dynamite
Moccasins: Aerie ~ Rings: Forever 21 and Garage Clothing ~ Nail Polish: 'Skyfall' by OPI

The beginning of this week marked the start of a new semester at University. New classes, new faces and a new schedule! In addition to my new school schedule, I also took the time to set a blog schedule! I've decided that Monday and Wednesday will be my best days to post, with the occasional 'Friday Finds' post, which are my favorite from other bloggers because they combine links to interesting articles/sites/posts/etc. that you discover throughout the week. 

Ottawa weather has been quite chilly since the Christmas holidays - usually under 0 degrees Celsius, but hey, I'm a born and raised Canadian girl, and I'm used to it. Therefore,  I've been living in over sized scarves and knit jumpers. I bought this navy one from Zara early in September and waited a few months to wear it without getting too hot. If you've seen a few of my recent outfit posts, you probably recognize these pants [here and here], and I think it's safe to say I'm obsessed with them. Navy and burgundy are two or my favorite shades to pair together, especially for winter fashion. I've also been obsessing with my neutral, crochet, fringe scarf from Urban Outfitters that was purchased online on a Black Friday deal, and I've been loving it this winter because it goes with everything!

These Christmas lights aren't coming down anytime soon.

Stay warm and have a lovely day! 

Sunday, January 06, 2013

New Year, New You - Making Goals

We're almost a week into 2013, but if I've always been a firm believer in setting goals no matter what day it happens to be - not just January the 1st. It would make more sense to call these resolutions, but I always feel negativity towards setting resolutions because I feel like many people associate it with failure. "I'm going to exercise everyday and not spend a single dime on fast food!" And before you know it... it's your third day of laying on your couch ordering takeout... or is that just me? Either way, I have some goals to share today! These goals were inspired by a youtube video I watched [here]. Nikki focuses on resolutions on making her happier in January. I think it's evident that most resolutions are made to reach one goal - happiness. I found myself in a rut towards the second half of 2012, and there really is no way out unless you're committed to changing yourself and the way you see the world and yourself. Remember, you can't control your circumstances, but you can control how you react to them.

To be a little bit more organized, I split my goals up into categories, and broke those categories down into smaller goals, eventually leading up to the big goal. This way, you start small and you aren't immediately setting yourself up for failure.   

"The reason that eating well can make you feel happy, is because when your body's nutritional needs are met, you're not as likely to feel as down. A lot of times people can feel sad, or moody or groggy because of the food their ingesting" - Your body is a true reflection of your health, and I've definitely been noticing how true that statement is as I've seen how my body has grown over the past few years. 

  • Register for one run this year
  • Drink fresh juice at least 5x/week, eventually every morning
  • Start doing workout videos again (10 min. daily for January)
  • Get my abs back by developing a steady ab routine and working on my posture
  • Get back to my comfortable weight pre-holiday season with healthier choices

Keep your environment clean and happy.

  • Take 10 minutes each night to clean/organize anything in my room
  • Hang up my clothes immediately after they're washed (this is a tough one)
  • Makeover my bedroom (this might have to wait until summertime)
  • Massive sweep/organization/clean up of my room (in progress!!)

  • BLOG MORE! I always put this one on the side. I'm starting with 2 blog posts each week (I made a schedule!!) and the occasional Friday post
  • Find a blog layout that I actually like and want to stick with
  • *Possibly* find a new job in the summer - possibly because I like my job, I'm just a bit bored after working there for 2.5 years
  • School - stay on top of things. I have 5 classes and I need to get my GPA up. I also need to figure out if I want to stay in my program after this semester - there is a lot to think about
  • Start doing artistic things again - painting, drawing, sketching - you name it
  • BAKE MORE! guys, I love baking, I just always put it aside and do other unproductive things instead. I'm taking a cake decorating class in March, so that should be fun!
  • Film youtube videos!! I've wanted to start this for a few years.. after I deleted my last channel a few years ago. If I kept that channel, I know I would have reached a huge subscriber base by now (I'm not saying that in a conceited way - youtube has grown so much). First step.. buy a video camera, because my DSLR doesn't film very well (it stops filming after too much movement)

  • Read the bible from start to finish, reading each night before bed, and reflect on it each night
  • Stop sweating the small stuff and stop thinking/analyzing everything SO much 

So there we have it. Quite a work heavy post, but I'm glad I broke everything down into categories so I can start by focusing on the smaller stuff, eventually achieving the 'bigger picture' goals. Kudos to you if you read to this point!

Food for thought:

"Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today.” - Benjamin Franklin
"Remember that happiness is a way of travel, not a destination.” - Roy Goodman
"It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.” - Vince Lombardi

Q: What are your thoughts on resolutions/goals? Did you make any this year?