Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Got my tech on....

Choosing a new laptop took a lot of thought! Many people recommended MacBooks, but when I tested them out in person I just wasn't drawn to them. As I wandered around Best Buy the only laptop that called out to me was this one:
The Sony VAIO VPCEH25FDP. Yes, it's pink...I can't deny that I was mesmerised by the color! I also loved how lightweight it was, how big the screen was (15.5 inches - my Dell laptop had a 12 inch screen) and the full-size keyboard. Hubby is my own personal "geek squad" and he was happy with the technical specifications on this model.

We also upgraded my phone (finally!) to an iPhone 4s. Now I can take better photos on the go! I didn't know how much I'd been missing out - I love reading eBooks and watching Youtube videos on my phone. I don't think it's possible to be bored with an iPhone around!

I went Boxing day shopping for the first time in YEARS - and it was NOTHING SPECIAL - the bargains are not worth the crowds - online shopping is definitely the easier option. I tried on a couple of items at Old Navy:
Striped Boat Neck top - on sale for $9
Draped Sweater and Floral Top ($15)
I wasn't crazy about anything, so I only purchased the floral top.
Was also excited to see Express is finally here on a recent mall visit. I picked up this gorgeous cream ruffled top and pretty pearl and disc necklace.
I have SO much to catch up on, but I think I've written enough for today. It's SOOO good to be back!

By the way, I'm in need of new photo-editing software. I've previously owned and used Photoshop Elements - what would you guys recommend?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Design Project: Entrance Room

No new laptop yet - but I've found my camera memory card - yay! I'm writing from hubby's clunky desktop - but I'm not complaining, at least I can post!
Here is a picture I took of our Entrance room today. This room is the only one on this floor (we live in a 4 storey townhouse - I get lots of exercise going up and down the stairs LOL!). As it's the first room you see when you enter the house, I want it to look pretty. However, I have to balance this with the fact that a lot of our furniture is from when we were living in Manhattan (2-3 years ago). Since we're planning to move again (to a larger house within the next 4 years), I'd rather wait and invest in furniture that is suited to our future new house. So this room has some elements I can't change (the well-used microfiber sofas and HUGE Ikea BESTA storage). This room also houses hubby's computer (where I'm writing from today) hidden in an Ikea ALVE corner cabinet.
Since moving here I've purchased the coffee table and mirror (Ikea) and carpet (Style at Home's collabaration with Korhani). I've also hung up my mother's embroidery on the wall (above the wooden chair).  I'm not expecting perfection from this room - I just want to make the best of what I have. I'd love suggestions on how to spruce it up and make it more fancy.
  • There are 3 different wood colors in this room - I'm so tired of the Ikea Birch color, I couldn't bear to get more furniture in that shade. I didn't have any choice with the ALVE color, but since it's tucked in a corner, I hope it doesn't really stand out.
  • I'm not too happy with the cushion combination, but I can't seem to find appealing cushions anywhere.
  • I'd like to replace a wooden computer chair with a more decorative one.
  • Should I slip-cover the sofas? Is it worth it?
What colors or elements would you introduce into this room - I'd love any suggestions. Please link to any suitable photos - especially on Pinterest.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Teeny-tiny break

I've been longing to blog, but the tech powers are conspiring against me! For starters, I've lost my camera memory card and USB card reader...I still have my camera phone but the quality is very grainy. Then my Dell laptop of 5 years died last week! I've kidnapped hubby's iPad until we buy a new laptop....but it's not ideal for blogging on.

If anyone has any laptop suggestions, please comment below. I mainly use my laptop for web browsing, watching Youtube, blogging, some photoshop and Microsoft word and excel. I don't want a net book as I find their screens too small. I also don't think I want a MacBook.
Hopefully I'll be able to post by next week or the week after.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What to put on your E.L.F. shopping list

Despite my desire to keep my make-up collection small and high-end, I have a hard time resisting E.L.F. coupon codes. E.L.F. make-up is ridiculously cheap (mostly between $1 and $3, plus 50% off with coupon codes), yet there are a few stand-out items that even outperform department store make-up.

You have to be selective about what you buy - as there are a lot of duds too. I've put together a list of my favourite E.L.F. products, as well as few to avoid - hope this is helpful the next time they have a great coupon code. (Use cybermonday coupon 50WIDE for 50% off purchases over $25 - valid for another 16 hours)

My favourites:
-Gel eyeliner in Coffee ($3) + Studio angled eyeliner brush ($3)
After purchasing MAC's Dipdown fluidline, I can now compare the two products and say that ELF's Coffee gel eyeliner is as good, if not MORE pigmented than MAC's gel eyeliner - but MAC's cost at least 5 times more. The Studio angled brush makes it easy to appy gel liner, and is especially good for creating winged eyeliner looks.

-Studio flat-top powder brush ($3)
This brush is one of ELF's star products - it is used to stipple on liquid foundation for an airbrushed finish. It is very dense and applies foundation beautifully - however, some people (including myself) have had to super-glue the brush head back onto the handle as it is very wobbly and can fall off! Hopefully ELF have fixed the problem since there were many complaints about this.

-Studio Eyeshadow "c" brush ($3)
A super high-quality brush found in many beauty bloggers' make-up bags. The soft flat brush head makes it easy to apply a wash of color on the lid - I prefer this to my MAC 239.

-Essential Custom compact ($1)
This can be used to store depotted MAC eyeshadows: MAC's refillable palette costs $7 and doesn't even come with a mirror - I much prefer this. If you're feeling creative, you can customize the palette to hold a whole face-worth of product (here's my tutorial).

-Hollywood Eyelashes Kit ($3)
I purchased this for the eyelash applicator (looks like a large curved tweezer) - I may try the included eyelashes at some point, but so far I've been sticking to the dramatic lashes ($1) as they look more natural. If you're nervous about using false eyelashes and hate putting tweezers near your eyes - the eyelash applicator can help make the process easier. Don't use the enclosed eyelash glue (it's not strong enough) - purchase DUO glue instead.

-Mineral Eyeshadow Primer ($3)
A lot of people claim that this is a dupe for Urban Decay's Primer Potion. I've never tried the UD version, so I can't compare the two. This primer works really well for me - it increases the staying power and vibrancy of my eyeshadow and keeps it crease-free.

-Shine Eraser/ Blotting Sheets ($1)
I'm a huge fan of blotting my face - I usually don't need to reapply my mineral foundation as long as I blot my t-zone once or twice a day. These papers are better than the plasticky Clean & Clear ones, their quality reminds me of my Boscia Green Tea Blotting Linens. I keep the Boscia ones in my make-up bag, but stock up on these and stash them everywhere else (car dashboard, handbag etc.)


A lot of people purchase ELF cheek products because their packaging and shades are reminiscent of NARS. From my own purchases (warm bronzer, all over color stick) and reviews I've read online, their cheek products can be powdery and lacking in pigmentation - so I would stay away from them.

Currently Trying - Here are some products that I will be trying out for the first time - will update here if they're worth it or not.

- Mineral 4 piece Bamboo Travel Brush Set ($10)
Some days I have to apply my make-up on the go, so I'm putting together a mini full-face make-up kit to grab whenever I need it. These brushes are the perfect size and combination for my needs.

-Studio Stipple brush ($3)
 Have read really good reviews about this brush and am going to try it with my cream blushes.

-Make-up Mist and Set ($3)
 This spray is meant to blend and set your make-up, much like MAC's Studio Fix or Urban Decay's All-Nighter spray. It's meant to be more suitable for acne-prone skin than Studio Fix, so I thought I'd give it a try - especially since these sprays are meant to help mineral foundations look glowy rather than powdery.

-Daily Brush Cleaner ($3)
 Thought I'd keep this in my bathroom for those times when I have to clean a brush in a hurry but can't wait for them to dry.

-Nourishing Cuticle Pen and Cuticle Pusher ($1)

As I've mentioned before, I'm obsessed with keeping cuticles well-groomed. The cuticle oil pen seems promising - it contains avocado oil and almond oil, as well as a lot of vitamins. Am going to keep this in my handbag along with the cuticle pusher to try keep my nails in the best possible condition (especially in this dehydrating cold weather!).

My only other advice for shopping on ELF is to look up reviews on Makeup Alley - they can really help you decide which products are worth it. Also - wait for coupon codes so you only end up paying $.50 to $1.50 per item! (I used their cybermonday coupon 50WIDE, which is still valid for another 16 hours. For Canadian readers - only pay US shipping by using this tip.)

Have you purchased ELF make-up - please tell me your favorites in the comments below.

DISCLAIMER: I purchased all these products by myself and am not affiliated in any way with ELF.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I went to a Beauty Premiere!

Last night I attended the Marcelle/Annabelle Beauty Premiere held at the Thompson Rooftop Lounge in downtown Toronto. It was so exciting to be invited to such a glamorous event - friendly people, innovative make-up and a gorgeous location - everything was amazing!
The make-your-own-lipgloss counter was VERY popular. Everyone lined up to choose their favourite pigments and get a custom-made gloss. I had been craving a coral color with gold shimmer - it was so exciting to formulate EXACTLY what I wanted!
Along with cocktails and hors d'oeurves, we were served with trays of make-up - and could pick up whatever appealed to us. Here's what I brought home:
The "pick-it-yourself" concept was brilliant - people are more likely to try out new products if they come in shades that they already use. As you can tell, I stick to browns and neutrals - and didn't end up with anything brightly colored that I'd have to give away.
One of the products that I'm excited to try is their Smudge Paint gel eyeliner with a built-in brush! I ONLY use gel eyeliner (can't beat the lasting power) but it's not very portable, and it's a pain to have to wash the brush EVERY time I use it. With this product you don't have to wash the brush as often since it is stored in an air-tight container (similar to the ones for liquid eyeliners) so it won't dry out.
Many of the product developers and managers were on hand to discuss their new products. Here's Janine, the super-sweet product manager from Annabelle modelling the soon-to-be launched range of lipglosses (which contain Omega-6). Janine was also wearing purple glitter eyeliner - but made it look elegant rather than "teenage-clubber" - I didn't know it was possible! Now I wish I had picked up a brightly colored metallic liner to try.
As if the tray of beauty products wasn't enough - we also received goody bags as we left the event. At first glance - the bronze shimmer brick and lipgloss are completely up my alley. Am also excited to try the mascara (which claims to lengthen AND curl!) and am hopeful about the Vitamin C radiance gel (it's oil-free so fingers crossed it won't aggravate my skin). If any of these items pass my "received-for-free products test" (i.e. it's so good that I would repurchase it myself) I'll be sure to review them here.

Have you ever heard of or tried Annabelle/Marcelle products?

Monday, November 14, 2011

New Dresses and Flats (Old Navy and H&M)

I'm trying to get outfits ready for upcoming events (holiday parties, birthdays and blogger meet-ups). I'm still playing around with different combinations - it's tricky figuring out the right shoes and jewelry to wear! Here are some of my recent dress purchases:
H&M Lace Dress CAD$29.95
I have the same dress as Pippa Middleton! I didn't know that when I purchased it - but I think it's cool. In this picture I've paired it with black leggings and boots and my Balenciaga First bag (hello pretty bag!!!). I think my boots may be too chunky for this dress - I may wear it with black tights and my aldo ballet flats instead.
H&M Horse tunic $49.95
I'm still debating whether I should keep this dress/tunic or not. The print looks busy in pictures, but in person the combination of blush pink and rich navy is so pretty. If I were to keep it, I'd unbutton the top more, lower the belt and wear it with dark skinny jeans. I first saw this dress on Louise from Cosmetic Bee - check out how lovely it looks on her here.
Old Navy Tie-front Kimono Sleeve dress $39.94 (I got mine 25% off)
I like how conservative this dress is - it falls below the knee and has long sleeves - perfect for family get-togethers. I cut off the fabric belt (I hate tops and dresses that tie in the back!) and used a studded j.crew belt instead. I plan on wearing this with sheer hose and nude pumps (used to be a fashion no-no, but Kate Middleton's brought it back!)
Old Navy Nude Pointy Flats and Leopard Print Ballet Flats
If you haven't tried Old Navy shoes yet - I seriously recommend that you do - their flats are so unbelievably comfy - they feel like the softest bedroom slippers but look very chic. I've been wearing my metallic ballet flats non-stop - and I was eager to purchase more - I bought these 2 pairs for around $12 each with promos and discounts (they might be even cheaper now, although limited sizes are available). 

Have you been planning Holiday outfits? Do you have any styling suggestions for my 3 dresses - please comment below :-)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Lena is Awesomesauce

Last Friday I was invited to a beauty raffle held by the lovely Lena at Listen to Lena. As an in-demand blogger, she has accumulated far more make-up than she can ever review or use – so rather than letting all the amazing *new* products go to waste – she held a raffle and donated the funds to Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto.

It was a small event so it had a casual and friendly atmosphere. I finally got to meet Shauna from Kindergarten Confidential (her blog is a MUST read if you need healthy school lunch ideas) as well as her lovely sisters (and sisters-in-law). I also met some of Lena’s high school friends and THEIR sisters too – they were all SO sweet! After the raffle, there was lots of swapping and donating between us…so we all ended up VERY happy with what we won (and the Sick Kids Hospital is a cause that is close to my heart, so even if I hadn’t won anything, I would have still been happy!)
Here’s what I came home with:
Vasanti Gloss in Caribbean/ FACE atelier lipstick in Revenge/  Dalton lipstick in Shy/ Lancome L'Absolu Nu lipstick in Rose Subtil
Bodyshop Bronzer shade 03/ Marcelle blush in Timeless Charm/ Laura Mercier Perfecting Water/ L'Oreal Infallible eyeshadow in Eternal Black/ Skinn Fiber-Optic Mascara
Sephora by OPI in Only Gold for Me/ Mini-Seche Vite/ Magique Ongles Nail-drying drops
Sephora foldable hair brush/ Body Shop White Musk Libertine Spray/ Jennifer Aniston perfume/ Weleda Buckthorn Body oil/ Pink Sugar soap

-I'm really loving the Vasanti lipgloss. I had heard about Vasanti make-up before but I just thought that it was blogger hype (I'm a little cynical!). This lipgloss has changed my mind - it feels more luxurious and hydrating than any other lipgloss I've used. It's pigmented and glossy (like a Juicy tube) but without the stickiness. It adds a subtle yet noticeable flush of colour that lasts a long time.
-The Face Atelier lipstick provides the perfect ruby lipstain for fall.
-The Sephora glittery topcoat will be perfect for the holiday season.
-I was super-excited about the Jennifer Aniston perfume because I was actually planning on buying it from Sephora - the smell is so fresh and sweet!

So that's my mini-beauty haul - I feel very lucky :-) Thanks so much to Lena for holding this event (and feeding us such yummy food! I can't wait to serve the PC brownies at home!) And if any of the other attendees are reading this - I loved meeting you guys!

p.s. I'm trying to improve my blog photography and I found the MOST helpful and easy to understand post by Makeup Savvy. Click here to read it if you want to improve your blog photos.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Inspiration Board: Clothes and Make-Up

I'm a big believer in inspiration boards - I wrote about them previously here. I really believe that they magically (ok...maybe through some subconscious positive thinking mechanism) allow your wishes to materialize in your life. This is the article that inspired me to create a vision board - I highly recommend you read it!
This was the vision board I created last year...since then, we've purchased a house - and I see elements of my vision board in my house (like the colour scheme in the picture under the yellow flower, and the gorgeous window seat near the pink flower). Some of it is my own application of what I want in my house...but some of it is the universe providing me with what my heart was looking for (I know...this is starting to sound New-Agey, right?).

Well, recently I've been feeling uninspired clothing and make-up wise....so I decided to create a LookBook/Inspiration board. I wondered it this would be a shallow and teeny-bopper-like thing to do, but the truth is, when I feel good about the way I present myself - I'm a happier person - so that makes it a worthwhile project for me.
Here's what I came up with (click on pic above for a larger version)...lots of my favourite celebs - Halle Berry, Cameron Diaz, Eva Longoria, Mila Kunis and Rachel Bilson....and lots of my favourite looks - skinny  jeans, over-sized scarves and luxe handbags! Hopefully this board will keep me motivated to take care of myself (skincare, healthy eating and exercise) and provide me with inspiration for fall/winter dressing.

I'm very blessed with where I am in life (family, surroundings, friends) but I do also want to focus on finding some new life-goals - so I'm going to be working on a non-appearance related vision board next. If you're interested in creating a vision board - here are the basic steps (based on the Daily Mail article I linked above).

1) Get some magazines and flip through them - tearing out any images that appeal to you - don't overthink them - just rip them out!
2) Arrange them on a corkboard
3) Place it somewhere that you will look at everyday

I've also learned a lot more about the power of Vision Boards from the inspirational Milly at BeautyLogic. Read about some of her Vision board success stories here and here.

Do you believe in Vision Boards? Have you ever made one?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Style Crush: Cameron Diaz in denim

There's a lot to admire about Cameron Diaz - from her perfect beachy hair to her stunning red carpet dresses. But my favorite pictures of Cameron are of her day-to-day outfits - she personifies Californian chic. Her casual outfits are stunning - she always gets the proportions and textures just right. Rachel Zoe said Cameron was "the ultimate denim girl – it's what she feels the most herself in".
As much as I want to dress up - the truth is that I'm the most comfortable in jeans...so I've saved some of my favorite pictures of Cameron for future outfit inspiration. (Pic heavy post - all images are all from people.com)

Love the striped top and tan belt...as well as the white Chanel flap bag.
From 2007 - gorgeous white cardigan and green heels dress up faded jeans and a white tee.
 Cold weather wear - wool coats, skinny jeans and tall boots. Has inspired me to switch my puffy jacket for button down wool coats. Love the leather belt with the camel coat. Her navy coat is by Burberry.
Long chunky-knit sweaters and skinny jeans...perfect for the current fall weather. Definitely craving a thick sweater like the one in the first pic...seems so snuggly and warm.
Blazers dress up her usual white tee and denim combo. I've yet to find a blazer that doesn't feel "matronly" on me...but this inspires me to keep looking!
Travelling in style - while I don't think I would ever wear a Fedora...Cameron looks great in them. Love her coordinated Bottega Veneta bags and her delicate layered necklaces in the first pic.
She loves grey as much as I do. Doesn't she look stunning as a brunette? (pic from 2006)
Dressed-up Denim - adore her navy-blue and red Michael Kors blouse in the first pic and her red Bottega Veneta bag in the second pic. Her outfit with the white Chanel tweed jacket personifies understated elegance - with a pop of red on her lips and shoes!

Main elements of Cameron's casual style:
Neutral colours - lots of grey, black, camel and cream.
Not much jewelry - delicate gold pieces
Loves her white tees - the foundation in most of her outfits
Lots of skinny jeans and tall leather boots
Luxe handbags in classic styles - Chanel, Bottega Veneta

Who do you look to for casual inspiration?


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