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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?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

In, Out & On the Fence

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This past week has been filled with coughs, sore throats and flu fatigue...not fun at all! I thought I'd do a quick post today on some of the products I've been loving and others not so much...

IN:
Revlon Super Lustrous Lipgloss in Coral Reef (CAD$8.99) - I'd seen this product on a lot of blogs and videos, and I picked it up last week when I needed a little cheering up. I'm so glad I did, this gloss is not just "good for a drugstore product" - it is AMAZING - even better than a lot of my MAC lipglosses! The color is flattering and long-lasting, the formula is soft and moisturising and the packaging is elegant and of good quality. Another raved about shade in this line is Peach Petal - a soft milky pink gloss.
The Body Shop Mango Body Butter (CAD$6 for 50ml) - I used to use this ALL the time in university. While the texture has changed (it was more vaseline-like and moisturising before) the scent is still the same and as long-lasting as ever - I really look forward to moisturising after my shower now!
Spectro Jel for Blemish-prone skin (CAD$ 8.99 for 200ml) - After an unfortunate experience with Cetaphil (see below) I've turned to this cleanser. My dermatologist has recommended this in the past - but I've avoided it because of it's unpleasant smell and texture. It works so well that I've looked past these 2 flaws - it gently yet thouroughly cleans my skin and leaves it feeling soft and moisturised. In addition, its free of fragrance (pretty obvious since it stinks LOL!), dyes, sodium lauryl sulphate, parabens and lanolin - always a benefit!
Burts Bees Super Shiny Grapefruit & Sugar Beet conditioner (CAD$9.99 for 350ml) - Although Burts Bees facial products no longer suit my skin, I'm still a huge fan of their hair and bodycare. This conditioner smells lovely and really does make my hair "super shiny". Additionally, it's sulphate free and 98.2% natural! I alternate between this and Aveda's Dry Remedy conditioner.


OUT:
Got2b Dry Shampoo (CAD$6.99) - I purchased this while grocery shopping as I had run out of my Batiste dry shampoo. I'd heard good things about other products in this brand, so I thought this would be good - but it's not. The effects wear off within an hour and I'm left with sticky feeling hair. I'm definitely stocking up on Oscar Blandi and Batiste dry shampoos from now on.
Cetaphil Oily Skin Cleanser (CAD$11.99 for 250ml) - I purchased this without reading the ingredient list because I trusted Cetaphil as a gentle and non-irritating brand. However, after using it for a week I started getting bumpy painful spots on my skin. Since this was the only "new" item in my skincare regimen I took a closer look at it - and found CASTOR OIL on its list of ingredients! Even when my skin could tolerate oils (like rosehip and jojoba) castor oil would ALWAYS break me out - so why would Cetaphil put this in a cleanser for SENSITIVE and OILY skin? Makes no sense to me...luckily I was able to return it to my drugstore and picked up the SpectroJel instead. By the way - I still highly recommend the Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bar (the one that looks like a bar of soap). (EDIT to avoid confusion: The regular Cetaphil cleanser doesn't contain Castor oil, I'm talking about the "oily skin" version)
Revlon Grow Luscious Plumping Mascara (CAD$9.49) - Although I love my Maybelline Falsies mascara, it can be a bit too dramatic for daily use. I picked this up because it is meant to condition your lashes - which would a great quality for something you apply everyday. Revlon are not known for their mascaras - and this mascara is as disappointing as their others. The formula is clumpy and smudgy and the super-long natural bristle brush does nothing for application. I can't comment on the conditioning properties because I've switched back to Falsies until I find a better "casual" mascara.

ON THE FENCE:
Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-hour blush (CAD$33) -  These blushes are SO highly thought of in the online beauty community - but I'm having a hard time with mine. For one, the application is iffy - it either appears blotchy or too pigmented - regardless of the brush I use. Secondly, I'm DEFINITELY not getting 12-hours of wear out of it...even 4 hours is a stretch. Most of my other blushes are as long-lasting if not more than this. I want to love this and will still be trying it out, but I think these blushes are over-hyped. I have Amused and already tried and returned Blissful - so I don't think that I have a faulty blush - unless somehow I ended up with 2 lemons!


What products have you felt were over-hyped? Do you have any good casual mascara recommendations?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Shopping, Highlights and a Guest Post

I don't know why I'm so obsessed with flats since it's already boot-weather! I guess there is always a time and place for comfy ballet flats...I picked up these 2 pairs this weekend:
The Old Navy metallic flats are ridiculously soft - they feel like bedroom slippers when you put them on - and for $20, they're even cheaper than Payless shoes (and they're of better quality).
I love the classic black and nude combination of my Aldo shoes - I've been wanting a pair like this for a while - especially after seeing how lovely Lilly's flats look with her different outfits:
Source: Lilly's Style
Speaking of Lilly - since she's on holiday at the moment (lucky girl!) I wrote a guest-post for her blog - please come check it out here. I wrote about 5 classic clothing items every blogger seems to have or want...and I linked to some mid-range and affordable alternatives.
Now back to my shopping - I bought this merino wool infinity scarf from GAP. I'm always drawn to charcoal grey items - although I'm not sure it's the best colour to choose, since it's so drab and can draw colour away from your face...but I can't help it, I love this scarf!
I repurchased my HG moisturiser and face wash from Shoppers Drug Mart, and also picked up two Tweezerman items: tiny purple tweezers (they're SO adorable!) and a metal lash comb. I've never owned a lash comb before - and this one's a bit scary because it's so sharp...but they're supposed to be great when you're using clumpy mascaras, so I'm going to give them a (careful!) try. My Falsies mascara is fantastic and non-clumpy, but I've been trying out Revlon Grow Luscious mascara for everyday use - and it ALWAYS clumps up!
Jessica Alba looks so gorgeous in this picture - and I love her highlights. They are a lighter brown but are not brassy or bleached out. I've been in a hair slump, and I kind of want to get highlights now (though not as light as Jessica)...but I'm not sure if I should - my hair doesn't take well to "lifting" and often ends up too light - even if I go to a good salon and use all the products they recommend.
 Here's some examples of previous highlights...looking at the 2006 pictures makes me so angry - the colourist was SOOOO bad - she gave me such ugly CHUNKY highlights! I never want to have hair like that again.
What do you guys think - should I get highlights? How can I avoid ending up with white stripey hair?

Monday, October 3, 2011

I went to a conference about blogging!

--> I was fortunate enough to win a ticket on Listen to Lena's blog for the ShesConnected Conference held last week in downtown Toronto. The purpose of the event was to connect brands with Digital women. Since blogging is the new media, top brands want to ensure that they are in touch with influential bloggers (in the same way that they have connected with print media in the past).


The event was sponsored by many well-known brands including Ford, Toshiba, Pepsico, Quaker and Town Shoes (full list of sponsors here). The event allowed bloggers to network with the brands while also featuring talks on topics relevant to blogging (such as What is a Blogger worth? and Rate Cards, Guidelines, & Disclosure).

On a personal level, the event was SO much fun. I walked into a room full of people that I had never met before and found everyone to be warm, friendly and welcoming. The highlight of the event was meeting Listen to Lena, Faces by Farah, GlitterGeek and Spiced Beauty. I follow their blogs – and they were as lovely in person as they are on their blogs. In addition, many of the brands had come up with generous “swag bags” for us while also planning fun events (such as singing karaoke!). I felt so lucky to be chosen to attend this event.

On a blogging level, this event left me with a LOT to think about.  I’m still not sure where I stand with regards to “sponsored blogging” – both as a blog reader and a blog writer. Blogging takes time and effort – and it is only fair that bloggers are compensated for this. Sponsorship provides bloggers with the time and incentive to post more (which also benefits the readers by providing them with more content to read). However, there is nothing worse than feeling like you’re reading an “advertorial”. As a reader, you worry about objectivity: some bloggers may not want to offend their sponsors and could minimize their criticism about a product. They may also (through loyalty) be afraid to feature competitors product. (At the conference, one “brand” speaker mentioned that she sometimes felt “cheated on” when a blog she works with features a competitor.)

On the other hand, in favour of “sponsored blogging”, brands have been sending products to magazine writers for ages, so it's a natural extension for them to send them to blog writers as well (not necessarily in exchange for a favourable review – but just so that the blog writer knows that the product exists). Also, there is more transparency in blog writing – most bloggers clearly note when they have been sent products (especially in the US, where this is mandated under FTC regulations).

And there are many cases where blogging and sponsor relationships grow organically - you don’t feel that the blog writer’s integrity has been compromised yet it still reflects favourably on the featured brand. For example, one of my favourite bloggers: Jean from ExtraPetite is taking part in a JCPenney MNG for MANGO promo where she dresses in certain themes and features one item of MNG clothing while also incorporating existing wardrobe pieces. She clearly indicates her thoughts on the sponsors clothing (i.e. petite sizing limitations) yet her posts are beneficial both to her blog and the sponsor while providing interesting content for her reader (a WIN-WIN-WIN situation!).
Source: Extra Petite Blog - MNG London Style Challenge
Since blogging is the new media, the rulebook is still being written. The ShesConnected conference provided an important forum to discuss brand/digital women issues. Over time, I'm sure that brands and bloggers will jointly develop relationships that can benefit brands, bloggers AND their readers.

What are your thoughts on brands working with bloggers? Have you gone to any blogger meet-ups?

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