Thursday, May 31, 2012

Meet My New French Friends

Introducing my new amis: Mademoiselle Bioderma, Madame La Roche-Posay & Monsieur Avene:
My acne-prone skin is acting up again - so I'm back on antibiotics (Minocyclin + Tactuo/Epiduo) BUT while I let the medicine work its magic, I thought I'd help the process along with some highly-recommended products. My skin is very sensitive to any change in products - even testing a moisturizer or switching shampoos can lead to a break out - but French pharmaceutical products are renowned for their efficacy (many dermatologists recommend them) so after much research on Makeup Alley, I decided to try these 3 products:

BIODERMA Sebium Foaming Gel - My major problem is clogged pores - both whiteheads and pimples (I hardly ever get blackheads thanks to the Clarisonic). This face wash claims to reduce the sebum secretion which causes the clogged pores. I like that it contains acne-fighting ingredients like zinc and copper - while leaving out salicylic acid (doesn't work on my skin - plus, Tactuo already contains Benzyl Peroxide).

La Roche-Posay CICAPLAST - One of the many products recommended by Lisa Eldridge in her famous acne-covering make-up video - she uses it as a primer. This is suitable for super-sensitive skin (designed for use after chemical peels) and acts as a protective barrier while providing an even surface for your make-up to adhere to. I need it because my blemishes always flake up under concealer - this makes everything look much smoother.

 AVENE Eau Thermale - I've used Evian spray to set my make-up in the past - but I would get small spots if I sprayed it on my bare skin. Because of different mineral compositions, I find Avene works better for me. I chose this as I read that it can be sprayed on after applying acne medicine to counteract any stinging/dryness. I use it morning and night before I apply my moisturizer. I feel that it adds a glow to my skin and will hopefully help my blemishes heal faster.

So far, my skin has not had an adverse reaction to these products (which is quite a feat!), but it is too early to determine whether they provide any positive effects. I will continue using this trio and will update here with my results. I'm also working on a post on my quest for the best mineral make-up for my acne-prone skin (here's a spoiler - it's not Bare Minerals LOL!)

Have you used any French skincare products?

p.s. I've also purchased other products mentioned in Lisa Eldridge's Acne video (the Vichy Dermablend Foundation, Cream Stick and Setting Powder) and am very happy with them! I use mineral make-up for everyday and save the Cicaplast + Vichy/Dermablend combination for when I need my skin to look flawless.

p.p.s. See what other French Pharmacy products Lisa Eldridge recommends here (can you tell I'm a huge fan?):

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

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What I've Been Reading: May 2012

Question of the month (from Andi): What's your favorite holiday and why?

My favorite holiday was in 2005. Hubby and I traveled to Sorrento in Naples, Italy for our 3rd wedding anniversary. This photo was taken on a day trip to Capri. There were so many things I loved about this trip - the beautiful and bright weather, the vibrant landscape, the gorgeous Italian food (iced coffees, fresh pasta), the amazing leather handbags (of course!) - and SO MUCH HISTORY (I'm a HUGE history buff). Capri was so glamorous (could see why Jackie O loved it) and we visited Vesuvius and Pompeii - places I'd only read about and never imagined I'd be walking through! Would LOVE to go back there someday!
Jackie O in Capri - Image Source: All the Best Blog

  • Beautygirl24 - Noelle wore denim shorts for the first time this year. See how she has worn them in the past, and how she wears them now.
  • Ella Pretty - Ella's been decorating - come and take a house tour!
  • Lilly's Style - Lilly's wearing a colorful lace skirt from H&M.
  • Saltwater Dreams - Andi learned a new technique for creating a flawless foundation finish, check out the easy steps here!
  • Schnelle Couture - Danielle is brightening things up this summer with her new favorite color- yellow.
  • Sequins and Stilettos - Skylette is playing with the colorblock trend with a silk top and a navy skirt.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Marc Jacobs Quilted Single Bag

The Marc Jacobs Quilted Single bags have been on my wishlist for quite a while (I posted about the large version back in 2010). While I still adore the look of the Marc Jacobs Large Single, I don't really need another shoulder bag at the moment.
Marc Jacobs Large Single - Isn't this bag beautiful?
What I do desperately need is a crossbody bag! It's funny because I think a lot of moms go directly from a diaper bag to a crossbody bag. Although the strap alters the lines of your clothes and isn't the most flattering - nothing beats having your hands free to attend to your little ones (and they definitely need a LOT of attention!).
bad quality crossbody bag
I previously purchased this bag but it wasn't of the best quality (the inner tubing poked through the lining!) and I had to return it. Since I'd be using this bag daily (for the school run) I decided to invest in my dream bag instead. I got the Marc Jacobs Quilted Black Small Single bag in Black leather. It's pretty small - the dimensions are 7.5"W X 6"H X 2"D with a 22" strap drop - but I think the small size is good, as I REALLY need to pare down what I carry with me.

Image Source here
I'm already very impressed by the durability and quality of this bag - I especially love the double stitching detail. And while I plan on using this as an everyday bag, this also works as an elegant evening clutch if you tuck the shoulder chain inside - multi-purpose!
With my pink H&M shirt and Garage white skinny jeans

Updated with a clearer picture: Top: Express, Jeans: GAP, Heels: Target, Bag: Marc Jacobs, Necklace: F21 (similar)

Since I'm sharing new purchases, I thought I'd show my hot pink H&M necklace and colorblock t-shirt from Garage... a love for neon pink has somehow snuck up on me!

Do you use cross-body bags? Which is your favorite?

Liked this post? Read my other bag reviews here!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Decor Update - house tour!

We've been in our home for 10 months now - and it's slowly coming along. Here's a quick update on our different projects.
 Entrance room (previous post here):
-I think this room is pretty much done - I just need a couple more cushion covers (to put on the white cushions.) I've purchased 2 on etsy, and am just looking for one more (would love something like this).

TV room:
-We used a KARLSTAD loveseat and 2 chaise lounges to create a super-sized seating area. We're quite pleased with it as it's super-comfortable and very spacious. The dark brown leather and quilting keep it looking neat despite heavy usage.
-This room majorly needs some wall art, but I can't decide whether I want one big image or several smaller pieces. I'm considering a Parisian-inspired theme - keeping it feminine to counter-act the dark leather. After purchasing the wall art, I'll have a better idea what I want to do with regards to the cushions. I think I may need some fuzzy off-white cushions or knit-button ones.
-In keeping with the Parisian theme, I'm thinking of replacing the light fixture with a simple chandelier - sparkly but not garish or too ornate.
 -We'll also need to replace the TV stand - we currently have a floor-to-ceiling unit with lots of storage - but visually, it would be good to scale it down. I'll take my time with this since I'll have to figure out where to relocate some of the storage space (especially the kids medicine chest - will probably  move it over to a kitchen cabinet).

Dining area:
-We recently purchased this sideboard from Ikea - It's the STORNAS buffet. We used to have a bench in this area, but it was always covered with school papers and kids coloring supplies. I've now dedicated one cabinet to all the kids supplies, and the other to my paperwork. I plan on getting some baskets for the open middle section, to make it look neater.
-The tin tubs and faux-lemons were purchased on a recent trip to Winners - I find the pops of yellow are so cheerful and uplifting!

Master bedroom (previously posted about here):
- I purchased table lamps and flowers for each bedside table. The lamps are from Winners and the faux-flowers are from Loblaws.
- I think I've FINALLY figured out what to do with this room - I want to get all the furniture painted off-white. While I love the blue wall-color, I found that the contrast with the dark brown furniture was bringing me down. Painting the furniture white will make my room feel light and airy while also solving the mis-matched bed frame problem.
Old pic of my bedroom (before bedside lamps and flowers)
- From the pictures below you can see the impact of dark furniture versus white. While the dark looks elegant and formal, I prefer the light and airy vibe of the white.
Image Source: Decorpad here and here

- I know I'm super-late to the "Keep Calm" bandwagon - but I don't care - the print really appeals to me - so I had to get this aqua one for the room divider (between the TV room and playroom)

-Organize pantry
-Re-organize my walk-in closet
-Get furniture and plants for patio
-Finishing touches on guest room (posted about previously here).

What's on your house to-do list?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What's and recipes

It's been a while since I posted a "What's for Dinner" post - but as the weather gets warmer, I'm finding myself with more energy and an increased desire to try out new recipes.
Wholewheat Spaghetti and Chicken Meatballs
I was inspired to make this surprisingly light meal after seeing a Turkey Meatball recipe posted on The Honeybee. I combined her instructions with a recipe from the Barefoot Contessa - here's what I did:
2 lbs mince chicken
1 cup wholewheat bread crumbs (or less)
1 minced onion
1 egg (beaten)
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp garlic powder
-Combine ingredients in a bowl. Form 2 inch meatballs (made 40 meatballs)
-Fry in 1/4 inch oil for 10 minutes on medium heat
-Place on paper towels to absorb excess oil.
-Cook 20 meatballs with 1 jar of White Linen Pasta sauce for 45 minutes.
-Freeze the remaining meatballs for an easy dinner another night (just combine frozen meatballs with another jar of pasta sauce and heat for 45 minutes).

I think this will be a weekly dinner in our house - hubby and the kids loved it - and it's light and healthy enough for me - especially when combined with wholewheat spaghetti, zucchini pasta or spaghetti squash.

The lovely weather also put me in the mood to make Apple Pie - I'd never made it before but I'd always wanted to try. I read up on different recipes and just experimented with the ingredients I had on hand.

Easy Apple Pie
2-3 peeled and thinly sliced apples
lemon zest
1 TB lemon juice
4 TB sugar
2 TB flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
pinch allspice
Eggwash (1 beaten egg thinned out with milk or water)
1/2 package Tenderflake puff pastry (already had this, otherwise I probably would have bought their ready made pie shells)
1 tsp brown sugar
-Combine filling ingredients and refrigerate for half an hour
-Roll crust out - here's a good tutorial on working with puff pastry
-Line pie dish with crust, add filling
-Roll out leftover pastry dough, cut into slices and criss-cross for a lattice pattern
-Brush with egg wash, sprinkle 1 tsp sugar on lattice and crimp edges of pie with a fork
-bake for 1/2 hour at 200 C (400 F)

This recipe turned out really well BUT the bottom was soft instead of crispy (when I cut the pie into slices, I broiled it upside down to harden the crust before serving). I'm going to work on my pie crust recipe (maybe pre-bake it before filling it) - but the filling and lattice topping was a success, so I'm pretty happy with my first attempt.

While we're on the subject of food - here's a pic of my Mother's Day dessert: Cheesecake Factory mini-cheesecakes and cupcakes - aren't they adorable? The whole family enjoyed digging in:

By the way - check out my guest post on Sequins & Stilettos - I wrote about statement necklaces, gingham shirts and coloured skinnies.

Have you tried any new recipes lately? Please share below - I'm definitely in the mood for trying new things. I've turned off CAPTCHA on my comments, as some readers were having a hard time commenting - so hopefully it should be easy now!

Monday, May 14, 2012

200 Follower Giveaway Winner!

Thank to everyone who entered my giveaway! The winner is:

Please check your inbox Ali - I've emailed you!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Retail Therapy (H&M, Winners & OPI)

It's been a hectic couple of weeks and I've spent a lot of time cooped up indoors - so I was more than ready for some alone time at the mall this weekend - and some much needed retail therapy. I only had a couple of hours to myself - but I was able to get a lot done.

First stop was H&M (which has ridiculous queues on the weekend - both for the dressing room and cashier). There was a pink-checked shirt I'd been eyeing for months - but never had the opportunity to try on. I had seen a similar one at J.Crew but I liked the H&M version better.

It would look better with a belt but I wasn't wearing one today. It was $24.95 - and it came home with me.
I also purchased this crisp white button-down - it's a classic and a steal at $24.95.
This pinkish-beige wrap also came home with me - I can never resist pinkish beige - it's my favorite color! I'd wear it with a looser camisole: price: $34 or $39. Want to see what didn't make the cut?
This lace top - although I love white cotton in the summer, I feel like the style made me look frumpy.
This sequined sweater - I was DESPERATELY searching for a top like this over winter break - it would have been so lovely for holiday parties. If they had this in my size (I tried on a medium but I'm usually a small) I would definitely have picked this up.
-I was in dire need of new bras, so I went to Victoria's Secret - it's a good thing I got measured there - I'm usually a 34B, but at VS I was a 32C. Everything looked MUCH better after I tried on the right size (I'm not sure if my bra size has changed or if VS sizes things differently than my regular lingerie retailer). This is the bra I got - now that I know my size and style, I'm going to wait for a good promo to pick up some more - at $50+ they're pricey!
-The pink-beige purse was $4.95 at H&M, I'm going to use it for loyalty cards and gift cards  (so my regular wallet doesn't get too heavy).
-After seeing OPI's Mod About You everywhere I looked (blogs and Youtube) I decided it was a sign that I needed my own bottle.
-The rest of the items are from Winners - OPI nailpolish remover ($9 instead of $20) OPI Femme de Cirque Minis ($7 instead of $16), hand scrub treatment with gloves and handbutter, Pedi-scrub foot sponges and heavy duty pedicure tools.
While I was out shopping, I kept running into this gorgeously stylish woman - she was wearing light pink skinnies, a camel sweater and a brown leather jacket - I was thisclose to taking a photo of her for my blog - or at least asking her where she bought her clothes - but I was so rushed I didn't really have the time to stop and chat. Do you ever stop and ask people where they bought something?

By the way - don't forget to enter my 200 follower giveaway here!!!

Friday, May 4, 2012

200 Follower Giveaway - CLOSED

While I was on holiday, I picked up this pashmina-type shawl for a blog giveaway.  As I've reached 200+ followers - it's the perfect time for a contest! One of the best part of blogging is interacting with my readers - and I want to thank each and every person that has taken the time to read, comment & follow my blog - I love you guys!

I bought this shawl near the Bangladesh/Burma-Myanmar border - so I'm not too sure which country it's from. It's a reversible shawl with burnt orange on one side and greyish purple on the other. I think it's the perfect accessory to brighten up a casual outfit - and it's great to travel with as well - it folds up really small, yet is warm enough to use as a wrap on the plane. I own several similar pieces - they really are very versatile.

This giveaway is open internationally to people who follow through Google Friend Connect or like my Facebook page (dear BLOGLOVIN readers - I LOVE all 35 of you, but I have no way of knowing who you are - please like me on facebook to enter?)

1) Leave me a comment telling me how you follow me & your username (GFC or Facebook). If you follow me on both, you get 2 entries! Please post your email address so I can contact you if you win.

2) Optional for 1 extra entry - ask me any question you want. I'll try consolidate them on a future FAQ post...can't promise I'll answer them all though!

3) Optional for 1 extra entry - tweet this and post the link to your tweet in the comments (instructions here)

The contest ends a week from today at midnight EDT (May 11, 2012). I will go through the list and use to pick a winner - GOOD LUCK!


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