Thursday, September 30, 2010

Body shop, Nail Polish window-shopping and What's for Dinner

Since I had time to kill before a waxing appointment the other day, I did some beauty-related window-shopping. I stopped at the Chanel counter to admire the nail polishes - and swatched some favourites on my nails (excuse the sloppy application - I only did one coat - didn't think the Sales Associate would approve of me performing a mini-manicure at her station!). I still can't decide which shade to put on my wish list - current favourites are Rose Confidentiel, Jade Rose and Ming.
When I got home - I compared the Chanel Rose Insolent to my Rimmel English Rose. I wouldn't say that the Rimmel polish is a dupe for Rose Insolent - but they are definitely in the same colour family - though the Rose Insolent is pinker, while the Rimmel polish has watermelon undertones. The Rimmel polish is more opaque and applies like a dream - I'll definitely use it for my next manicure. It has one of those lovely wide brushes that make it easy to apply polish neatly.
After my appointment, I went to the Body Shop - I was curious to try their Vanilla Perfume after reading this post by Listen to Lena. Apparently men are irresistibly drawn to this particular scent. I'm happily married and not looking to attract any extra attention - but who doesn't want to smell as good as possible? I tried on the perfume oil - and loved it. It does NOT smell like baked goods - just has a softly sweet smell. My hubby likes it, my son says I smell yummy, and my daughter says I smell like a teddy bear (?!?) - what more could you ask for?
I also purchased a Body Shop Raspberry Born Lippy balm - I love the rosy, glossy colour and the super moisturizing effect - and it reminds me of my school days. I had some store credit at the health food store, so I picked up Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap in Rose. I need a new body wash, and was curious to try this brand after reading Tali's glowing reviews. I just finished my Fruits & Passion's Rose body wash - I didn't *love* it - so I look forward to trying this alternative.
Finally - here's a pic of what we had for dinner tonight: Beef Galbi and salad. Galbi is a Korean dish made with marinated ribs. I used ready-made marinade - all I had to do was wash the ribs, soak it in the sauce overnight, and grill it for 20 minutes. It tasted AMAZING - hubby loved it. I found it a bit heavy and fatty - but that didn't stop me from eating my portion. I would cook this again - but it is definitely a "once-in-a-while" treat.

Do you like the smell of Vanilla perfume? Which is your favourite Chanel polish? Have you ever tried Galbi? I'd love to read about it in the comments.

(By the way - just found out Body Shop is offering 50% off their fragrances this weekend - valid in US, Canada and Mexico - full details are here).

Monday, September 27, 2010

Inspiration Board and some Fall purchases

I've been feeling sluggish recently - perhaps it's due to the changing seasons. There is so much that I want to get done during the day - but I don't have the energy nor willpower. I remembered this article that I read recently - which suggests creating a collage of appealing pictures to help motivate you. This is what my inspiration board looks like (Click below for a larger image):
My images are mostly pictures of what I want my surroundings to look like - very feminine and tidy, with lots of pink and light blue. I basically want Martha Stewart to come and decorate my home! I enjoyed making my vision board - at the very least, it is something pleasant to stare at. And to be honest, I do feel more productive: when I look at it - I feel a surge of motivation to get up and beautify my surroundings.

On a side note, I really believe that using visual reminders can help you achieve your goals. As a junior  in college, I interned at a top Investment Bank. I desperately wanted to work there after graduation, so I cut out their logo and pasted it above my study table. Looking at it would motivate me to focus on my studies and transform myself into their ideal candidate. It worked - I was hired into their analyst program after graduating (but quit after 2 years - I needed my beauty sleep!)

To further cheer myself up - I treated myself to some frivolous shopping this weekend. Here's what I bought:
Comfy Navy Blue Sweatshirt - now that the temperatures are dropping, nothing is more satisfying than a soft sweatshirt to lounge around in.
Blue Floral Scarf - I've been admiring this every time I walk past Garage's window display - so I finally picked it up (despite already owning too many scarves!). I plan to wear this with a long-sleeved white t-shirt and dark wash jeans.
Floral Hairbands from Claire's Accessories - I definitely didn't need these - but I liked how the flowers sit close to my head. Would be great for wearing with my hair down or with a low ponytail - but I have to make sure that my other accessories are subtle - I don't want to look too frilly! (I'll be honest - hubby did ask why I was wearing a big brown flower on my head...but don't worry - I never take fashion advice from him!)
Grey and Yellow bangles from Bittersweet - I love these studded enamel bangles - grey is a huge favourite of mine for fall - and yellow always cheers me up.

Have you ever made an inspiration board?  I'd love to see (it can even be a collage of Internet images) - please link with a pic below! Have you bought any fall-inspired items?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

My Aldo Bags

It's that time of year again - when I start craving ANOTHER expensive far, I have my heart set on either a Balenciaga First or a Marc Jacobs Large Single. I don't know if/when I can justify getting either of them...but they are firmly on my dream wish list.

When I get these materialistic cravings, I try to focus on the things I already own. I previously posted about my designer handbag collection here (recently updated to include 3 more bags). Today I'm showing some of my inexpensive bags. I love Aldo bags because they are good quality, long lasting, light to carry and very reasonably priced. I baby my designer bags - use them on special occasions, never set them on the floor, etc. With these bags, they take a beating - and still look good. The synthetic material is easy to wipe clean (important when going out with kids in tow!) yet has a very good faux leather effect.

I first heard of Aldo bags in 2005. One of my work friends had a gorgeous chocolate leather bag - I thought it was a TOD'S bag. I was so surprised to hear that it was from Aldo. When I rushed there to purchase it (I opted for tan rather than chocolate brown) - it was on sale for £19. It's not very photogenic - but it's a great slouchy hobo style bag. This bag has been used and abused, but the stitching is as tight as ever (although the corners are a bit discoloured).
I also purchased this blue bag in 2005. I was drawn in by the boxy shape and beautiful colour. It doesn't really appeal to me at the moment, but I'm sure I'll fall in love with it again in the future. I remember this style was really popular when it came out - several of my friends bought it as well.
I bought this bag in Fall 2009 for around $35 (posted about it here). It's very roomy, and I think the grey shade is perfect for winter. I love the gold disc detailing and the pleated pocket. I plan on using it a lot this year as well.
Chanel inspired bags are everywhere - so many bags have leather/chain straps and quilted fabric (even the Marc Jacobs bag posted above). I bought this bag in July 2010 for $35 - I was drawn in by the blush coloured material. It's very versatile as it can be worn as a shoulder bag or cross-body. Despite the light fabric, there has been no discolouration, although some of the stitching has come loose. Luckily it's under the flap, so it's not really visible. (I do think quilted bags are a bit delicate - I bought a Jacob bag - and after using it for one day, a whole row of stitching came out! I returned it immediately!)

Have you ever shopped at Aldo?  Do you love designer bags? What's next on your bag wish list?

Disclaimer: All these bags were purchased by me. I am not affiliated with Aldo at all - I just love their bags!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Mascara Diaries

I like the look of thick, full lashes (who doesn't?) but I haven't found *the* perfect mascara yet, so I usually have 2-3 tubes on rotation at any given time. Here's a mini-review of the 3 mascaras I'm currently using. In the pictures below, I've applied one coat on uncurled lashes. Although I usually use eyeliner, I left it off in these photos, since it makes lashes look fuller - and I wanted to concentrate on the effects of these mascaras.

1. Covergirl Lashblast Volume in Very Black:
Formula: This has a very strong chemical smell. The product applies easily, but is not very buildable - and can leave your lashes looking spidery and clumpy.
Brush: The brush is nice and thick, with plastic bristles of varying sizes to capture all your lashes. I think the top bristles are too short - as I often poke my eye when trying to coat my inner lashes. Ouch!
Results: Very lengthening - almost gives a false lash effect, however it's not that volumizing. 
Removal: Comes off easily, don't usually lose any lashes.

2. Maybelline Full 'N Soft in Very Black
Formula: This has a very silky formula - you can apply multiple coats without clumping your lashes together.
Brush: Generic nylon mascara brush - nothing special, but easy to use. 
Results: This is more of a daytime/work-appropriate mascara. It adds soft definition and curl to your lashes, but doesn't provide significant lengthening or volumizing. 
Removal: Very easy to remove. One of the reasons I bought this mascara is because it's meant to minimize lash loss with its "Quick Dissolve System".

3. L'Oreal Extra Volume Collagen (waterproof) in Blackest Black:
Formula: Another strong-smelling mascara. Very thick formula - but applies easily and is moderately buildable. 
Brush:Nylon bristle brush with an indented middle - makes it easy to bring the brush close to your lash roots. 
Results: This was my Florida holiday mascara. It looked great in photos, lasted without smudging through humidity - and even stayed put after swimming. It adds length and definition to lashes, but I wish it would provide more volume.
Removal: I found this very difficult to remove completely - I always lose a couple of lashes trying to take off this product, and my lashes feel dry and brittle. After using it every day on my holiday, I felt that my lashes were thinner and some may have broken off.

THOUGHTS:  Of the three, my current favourite is Lashblast Volume. I really like the length it gives my lashes. The Full 'N Soft is a good daily mascara - especially for work. You can use it without worrying about damaging your lashes or looking over done. The Extra Volume Collagen is extremely effective as a holiday mascara, but I will save it for special occasions, as it is too harsh for frequent use.

WHAT'S NEXT: The next mascara on my list is L'Oreal Panoramic Curl - I've used it before and love the curved brush and thickening formula. I'm also curious to try the Collagen Lash in a non-waterproof version - as I'm sure it won't be as damaging to my lashes.

Which mascara is your favourite of the three? Do you have any mascara recommendations - especially volumizing ones?

DISCLAIMER:  I purchased these items myself and was not paid to review them.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

My Nailpolish Collection

Although I love the thrill of buying new products - I'm a minimalist at heart. I don't like owning more items than I can use - it makes me feel "cluttered". One way that I balance my shopping desires with my need for space is by designating a container for a particular item. I can only buy new products if there is space in the container - otherwise I have to use up or throw away an item before getting any more. My nail polish container is a toddler shoe box (it's super sturdy!). Right now I own 26 polishes - I think I have space for 3-4 more shades, but after that I'm going to have to finish a bottle before I purchase a new one!

TOPCOATS: Sally Hansen Diamond Shine, Seche Vite, Boots and Sephora
FRENCH MANICURE: Maybelline White & Pastel, Essie Mademoiselle, Nails Inc Pall Mall
BLUES & GREENS: Sephora Zouk, China Glaze For Audrey, Revlon Minted, JOE FRESH, Claire Dreamcatcher
PURPLES: Sally Hansen Plum's The Word, China Glaze Grape Juice, JOE FRESH
DARK REDS & PINKS: Sephora Pure Prune, Marks & Spencer Cranberry, Marks & Spencer Soft Plum, Sephora/OPI Set the Mood, Borghese La Strada Rose
PINKS: Revlon Steel Kisses, China Glaze Jetstream, Sally Hansen I Pink I Can, China Glaze Strawberry Fields, JOE FRESH
MY CURRENT COLLECTION: Photographing all my polishes helps me see what I keep accumulating (pinks and hot pinks) and what I lack (neutrals and browns). I definitely don't need to buy too many more greens or blues - while I like the shade in the bottle, it's not the most flattering for my skin tone. I'm not really happy with the China Glaze polishes I purchased (other than For Audrey). I bought these based on the painted nail samples at the store - but when I apply them they are too sheer, with visible nail lines showing through.

WHAT'S NEXT: I have Milani Dress Maker on its way, since my other Chanel Jade dupe (Claire Dreamcatcher) is nearly empty. I'm also looking for a maroon shimmer nail polish, as my M&S Cranberry is pretty clumpy (I tried saving it with nail polish thinner, but it didn't work). I really like OPI's Not So Bora-Bora-ing Pink - my sister had her pedicure done with this shade - and it's gorgeous, so I may pick that up as well. Finally, I want to buy a Chanel nail polish, to see if they really are as lovely as they're hyped up to be. I'm not sure which shade I'll get - so far I love Rose Insolent and Rose Confidentiel (view swatches here).

Do you own a lot of nail polishes? What's your favourite shade? Is there a particular colour family you're drawn to?


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