Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Some more malling....

I had some major gift-shopping to do - so I spent a lot of time at the mall today. And as usual - I ended up buying for myself too - I can't help it! First I went to the Coach store and returned the mini-skinny (coin purse) that I got at the outlet - and paid extra for this one pictured below. The outlet one was a great deal - and function-wise is the exact same design. But I much prefer the colour and material of this one - it's all leather instead of coated canvas.

I also special ordered my dream bag (mentioned in my previous post) - the rose-coloured small Sabrina. Apparently it's a 4-6 week wait - eek! But the advantage of ordering it through the store is that you don't have to pay extra for shipping or customs.

I stopped by the health store and picked up organic Whey Protein Smoothie powder. I'll be blending it with ice water and frozen fruits. I'm hoping that the extra protein will boost my hair growth, while also helping me lose weight. Will update here if I see some results!

I also picked up these earrings from Aldo. I don't usually wear big dangly earrings - but I really like how these look on me. It was love at first sight - I ended up putting them on right after I paid for them.

I saw some VERY cute sandals at Payless - but I DIDN'T BUY THEM! I thought I'd wait until their BOGO events (Buy 1 get 1 half off). The black pair are jelly sandals - and are sooo comfy. The orchid pair looks really sweet - and will go with my Rose Sabrina bag...hope the BOGO event comes soon - and that they still have these in stock!



And that's the end of my second virtual shopping post. Hope you enjoyed it!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Coach purchases

We spent the weekend in the Niagara Falls area - and since we were close by - I HAD to check out the Coach outlet. It was quite an exhausting experience - there was a huge line to get in, crowds inside, and an even longer line for the tills. I was hoping to find 1) my dream Coach bag (a leather Sabrina) 2) cute little leather goods - wristlets and coin purses 3) some gifts.

This is what I ended up purchasing: a blue mini-skinny (coin purse), 3 wristlets (2 of them are gifts), a cosmetic pouch (gift), and a silk skinny scarf. I like the wristlets - especially the lavender one. I like the shape of my mini-skinny, but am not a big fan of the print or the white lining. I adore my floral scarf - will have to find a good use for it!
Here's a stock picture of my dream bag: The Sabrina has been discontinued, although there are a few left that you can order directly from the Coach head office.

This bag style has been replaced by the Audrey - which has different handles and a boxier shape. At the outlet, they had a Copper coloured Audrey (below is a stock pic of it), which I walked around with for a while. I considered getting it - but I thought - it's better to pay full-price for something I love rather than settle for a great deal.

Have you been to any good outlets recently? Would you rather pay up for a dream item, or would you go for a similar item that was cheaper?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

IN and OUT

I thought it would be fun to do a quick post with some of my current likes and dislikes:
IN and OUT
IN:

-NYX Jumbo lip pencil in Soft Fuschia- The colour is amazing - it's the perfect nude for my pigmented lips (though I wouldn't call the colour fuschia- more of a brownish pink). The formula is rich, creamy and non-drying. Am already planning my next NYX order.
-Burts Bees Radiance Facial Cleanser - I switched to this from the Burts Bees Orange Essence Facial Cleanser - what a change for the better. The formula is light with a pleasant smell, foams slightly and leaves my skin VERY clean and moist. It removes ALL my blush and mineral make-up and leaves no residue behind.
-MAC 187 SE brush - This seems to be everybody's favourite MAC brush - and now I know why. I use it to apply blush and highlighter - it makes my cheeks looking naturally flushed and slightly airbrushed. I bought the small size (from a brush set), but will definitely buy the full size soon.
Out:
-8-10 lbs - I'm having a hard time shifting the last 8-10 lbs of baby weight. I need to change my eating habits and add 1 more weekly workout to my schedule. I just want it to go away magically - it's much easier to maintain weight than lose it. Oh well - thank goodness for Spanx!
-MAC Studio finish SPF35 concealer - I'm finding it hard to use this to cover up blemishes - it ends up looking cakey. Also, I've read that MAC foundations and bases can irritate blemish-prone skin creating a cycle: covering up spots -> causing new ones to form -> leading you to need even more make-up. Have been using mineral make-up instead - so far so good.
-My Hair - I've started taking hair vitamins containing Biotin and am continuing to use Castor Oil twice a week. Both of these are wreaking havoc on my skin - Biotin can trigger breakouts, while the Castor Oil sometimes trickles down to my face - despite keeping my hair in a bun and using a hairband. I'm working through it - hoping that my skin will get used to the changes, and I'll be rewarded with thick hair - it just hasn't happened yet :-(

What are some of your current likes and dislikes? Have you used any of the products I mentioned - what did you think of them.

Disclaimer: I purchased all of the products mentioned, and was not paid to review them.

Friday, March 19, 2010

New Clothes!

I went shopping for spring/summer clothes yesterday. I couldn't help it - the weather was so nice and warm - and I had a coupon for 30% off at Old Navy (this works at Banana Republic and GAP in Canada too - details here). I like shopping at Old Navy. I can always find something to suit me - their clothes are cheap and cheerful but they often last a long time - especially their linen items. I'm trying to be more mindful about what I buy - thinking in terms of outfits and occasions, instead of just picking something up because it's cute!

I picked up two "Elbow Cardigans" in black and brown ($17.15). I was really excited to see these, as I can pair them with any sleeveless top for a more modest look. In this first pic, I'm wearing it with an Old Navy maxi-dress, in the second it's with a "Vee-Lace Cami" ($8.75).



This white top is a light cotton tunic with pleated detail. It was already on sale, so after the discount it was only $6.98. I will definitely get a lot of wear out of this top - it's so comfortable and classy. I love wearing white/cream in the summer - it is easy to accessorise and pairs well with denim.

Here's another white top ($11.90) - this time made of linen - will be so light on the skin when the weather turns warm. I love the ruffled sleeves and ribbon-tie detail - very delicate and feminine.

Here's my last purchase from Old Navy - a summer scarf with purple flowers ($5.59) - the material is so unbelievably soft! Scarves are a weakness of mine - I'll have to do another post showing all the ones I have. It's such an easy way to add colour to a basic outfit.

*All prices are in CAD $, before tax and after 30% discount. I know in the US, Old Navy items are *MUCH* cheaper.

I also purchased this item from H&M ($29.95). The style and design remind me of tunics I've seen at Juicy Couture. I'm trying to purchase more pink and peach tops as I think it suits my colouring. I might pair this top with my white linen trousers.

That's it. Hope you liked "virtual shopping" with me! Have you started your summer clothes shopping yet? What are you looking to buy?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Review: Burts Bees Serums

Nearly all my facial skincare products are from Burts Bees - including my cleanser, toner, moisturiser and blemish stick. I like using their products because I want to have youthful looking skin - but I also want to minimise my absorption of potentially harmful chemicals.

In this post I'll be discussing their skin serums - as I've now tried out all 3 serums in their range.
Description:
a) Repair Serum (99.94% natural) - Helps reduce lines and wrinkles, Antioxidants repair sun and environmental damage. Helps achieve healthy skin with Rosehip Seed oil, Green Tea Extract, Borage and Evening Primrose oils.
b) Naturally Ageless Intensive Repairing Serum (100% natural) - Antioxidants to fight skin damage, Oils to strengthen moisture barrier and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Includes Pomegranate extract, Borage and Evening Primrose oils.
c) Radiance Serum (99.86% natural) - Nourishes and moisturises for radiant and even-toned skin using royal jelly, licorice root extract and glycerin, nutrients including vitamins A, C, D and K, minerals and 17 amino acids.
Price: The Repair (1 oz) and Radiance (0.45 oz) serums are $18 USD, the Ageless (0.5 oz) serum is $25 USD (on the Burts Bees website.) I've paid more for my serums as I purchased them in Canada (from Walmart, Shoppers drug mart and Well.ca.)
Packaging: The serums come in small glass bottles - which can be hard to travel with. I place mine in mini-ziploc bags and carry them in a cushioned toiletry bag. The Repair serum comes in a vial-like tube - you can shake out drops of serum as you need it. The other 2 come with glass droppers built into the lid - this makes it easy to use only as much product as you need.
How to use it: These are meant to be used as a spot treatment on target areas - you place a small amount on your eyes, lips, forehead and wrinkles. I use them as a night moisturiser AND eye cream I put 3-4 drops on my hand and massage it all over my face, and then I pat 1 drop around my eye area. Each bottle lasts me around 3-4 months.
My experience: Across the board, these do a great job at moisturising my skin and they don't break me out - even though 2 of them are oil-based, and I have oily, blemish-prone skin. They are light enough to use in the summer, but show their true strength in winter. I managed to survive the whole season without any dry patches or "tight" feeling skin.
My favourite is the Ageless serum - it makes my skin feel moist and plump. I find the Repair serum a little too thick - almost like cooking oil. The Radiance serum is a too "dry" for me - it doesn't glide as easily across the skin. This is because it is glycerin based and doesn't contain the natural oils that the other 2 serums do.
Would I buy them again:
a) Repair serum - I will keep a bottle on hand to use once in a while in the winter.
b) Ageless serum - yes, without a doubt - it's my favourite one and suits my skin the best.
c) Radiance serum - no, it is does not do anything special to my skin. However,
if you are cautious about using oil-based products, this serum would be a good alternative as it has natural anti-ageing ingredients without the oil-base.
Final thoughts: I know that Burts Bees products don't work for all skin types - several of my friends can't understand my love for the brand, as the products break them out. So although this product may work for me, it may not work for you. However, if you've been thinking about trying their products, I hope that my review helps you make your decision.

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

Footnote: I love reading the ingredient list of Burts Bees products and seeing natural items rather than unpronounceable chemicals. Here are the contents of the serums:
a)
Full ingredients: rosa canina (rosehip) seed oil, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, lavandula angustifolia (lavender) oil, tocopheryl acetate, oenothera biennis (evening primrose) oil, borago officinalis (borage) seed oil, triticum vulgare (wheat) germ oil, corylus americana (hazelnut) seed oil, citrus aurantium dulcis (orange/neroli) flower oil, rosa damascena (rose) flower oil, calendula officinalis flower extract, camellia sinensis (green tea) leaf extract, beta-carotene, tocopherol, ascorbyl palmitate, retinyl palmitate
b) Full ingredients: Rosa canina (rose hip) seed oil, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, borago officinalis (borage) seed oil, corylus avellana (hazel) seed oil, oenothera biennis (evening primrose) oil, tritium vulgare (wheat) germ oil, calendula officinalis (calendula) flower extract, camelia sinensis (green tea) leaf extract, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, citrus aurantium amara (bitter orange) oil, rosa damascena (bulgarian rose) flower oil, punica granatum (pomegranate) oil, tocopherol, glycine soja (soybean) oil, vegetable oil, beta carotene
c) Full ingredients: Water, glycerin, alcohol denat., royal jelly, glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice) root extract, glucose, xanthan gum, phenoxyethanol, sodium chloride, glucose oxidase, lactoperoxidase, caramel

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Nicole Richie's Eyeliner Look and NOTD

Nicole Richie is one of my favourite celeb style inspirations (previously wrote about her here). One of her signature make-up looks is winged eyeliner with peachy/bronze cheeks and nude lips. It looks so simple yet stunning on her!

I'm still a novice at applying winged eyeliner. Despite all my best efforts, my eyeliner often ends up looking more like checkmarks than wings. So I was happy to find a tutorial on YouTube by Kandee the Make-Up Artist showing how to copy Nicole Richie's eye make-up. You can see the video here.

Two important tips I learned from the video were:
1) To get the shape of the wing to look good, follow the angle of your lower lash line and extend it outwards (I tried to illustrate this in the second pic using green dots). This tip also ensures that the wing shape on each eye matches the other.
2) Really thicken the liner in the outer corner of your eye. It looks unnatural at first, but once the whole line is drawn in, it balances out beautifully.
I also found it helpful to first draw the shape out in eye pencil, and then trace over it with my gel eyeliner (another tip I picked up from YouTube - first posted about here).
Watch Kandee's video and let me know if it helped you as well! I really liked the way my liner turned out - it looked natural and stayed on all day. I will definitely be trying this more often.

Also - here's a quick Nail of the Day (NOTD). It's a Sephora brand nailpolish in Zouk. I chose this tiny bottle because I was drawn to the metallic turquoise colour, but knew that I wouldn't want to wear it that often. It's quite vivid and bright - I don't think I really like it on my finger nails - but I'll definitely wear it on my toes this summer. The formula is a bit thick and streaky (I already have 2 chips and I just put it on this morning!) - so I guess it's just as well that I only want to wear it on my feet!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What's for Dinner

I made "Penne a la Betsy" for dinner last week. I got the recipe from the Pioneer Woman's website (link here). I love the PW's cooking blog. She features simple food with step-by-step photo instructions. The ingredients are usually butter-rich - but as a once-a-week treat (especially for a growing family) they are a sure-fire hit.

The ingredients are really simple:
  • ¾ pounds Penne Pasta
  • 1 pound Shrimp
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 whole Onion (small)
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • ½ cups White Wine (or To Taste) (I substituted Chicken broth)
  • 1 can Tomato Sauce (8 Oz)
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • Fresh Parsley, to taste (I used dried)
  • Fresh Basil - To Taste (I used dried)
  • Salt To Taste
  • Pepper To Taste
This dish would be great to serve at a dinner party - as it is simple to make, but really yummy. This also tastes gorgeous re-heated the next day. And as an added plus - my toddlers *loved* it - it makes my heart happy when they demolish what I cook for them.

Here's PW's pic of her finished dish - it looks a lot more appetising than mine - especially with the fresh herbs!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

My Bag Collection (part 1)

For some reason, I've been spending a lot of time looking for a new leather bag - even though I just got one on Valentine's Day! Sometimes the desire to accumulate overtakes common sense - and you end up with more items than you can use. So I thought - I'm going to spend some time appreciating the bags I have...instead of looking for the next new thing!
This post will feature my designer bags. I'll add names/info about these bags as I find out more. I also own A LOT of Nine West, Aldo and UK high street bags. I'll post about those another day - and I'll also make a post with a wishlist of bags I hope to own one day.
Oh - and in case you're wondering, I've put a coke can in each picture - so that there is a consistent reference of size.

COACH
This is my first Coach bag - purchased in 2008 from the Woodbury Common outlet in NY. I love the brown colour, the small shape and how the signature fabric is tone-on-tone. (Name: Bleecker Signature Small Flap Hobo Purse in Brown #11441)


This Coach bag was purchased on another Woodbury Common trip - also in 2008. Again - the Coach signature fabric is tone-on-tone, so it is very subtle. I love the combination of chocolate brown and dark blue on this bag. (Name: Signature East/West Duffle Shoulder Bag)


I posted about this bag recently - it was my 2010 Valentine's Day present - MUCH BETTER than flowers any day! The leather is so soft. I love how this bag has different shades of pink. I read that the shape of this bag is reminiscent of the Chanel Jumbo flap bag - I think the silhouette is very timeless and elegant. (Name: Kristin Colourblock Shoulder Flap in Pink # 14221)


This bag was a special order - I got it in April 2010. It's a great everyday bag - it can be worn several different ways and holds a lot of stuff. (Name: Small Sabrina in Rose #12937) (UPDATED)
 I picked this wristlet up at the Coach outlet in July 2010 - with the reductions and coupons it came to around $31. I think the poppy line is geared towards teenagers - but I loved the pink and beige colour combination. This wristlet has come in very handy for when I'm running errands with my kids. It's very light and holds all my essentials. (Name: Poppy Wristlet) (UPDATED)

KATE SPADE
This was another outlet find from my July 2010 trip. I don't own any light coloured bags, so I thought this would be a good classic to add to my collection. I must admit - I have yet to find an occasion to use it. (UPDATED)


GUCCI
This is my first Gucci bag - I purchased it at the Gucci store in London in 2003 or 2004. It's one of their classic styles - and I had wanted it for ages. Looking at it now - I'm not as in love with it. I find the logo print very obvious. I'm hoping that I'll fall in love with it again in a couple of years.


I purchased this bag in 2005. It's a black bucket bag. It's the perfect size and shape for shopping - has enough space for a bottle of water along with all your other stuff!


I purchased this bag in 2006 at Selfridge's in London. It is one of my most favourite bags. It has a very chic shape, and holds a lot. I first saw this bag on my colleague in 2005, and I appreciated how durable and stylish it was - I was so happy when I got one of my own (luckily we weren't working together anymore - so no clashing!)


HERMES
I got this bag in 2002 after I left my first job in finance. My colleagues gave me a pink Hermes Chants du Henne scarf as a leaving gift. While I loved the colour of the scarf, I didn't think I'd wear it that much, so I went to the Hermes store and exchanged it for this Fourre-Tout bag. I sometimes wish I kept the scarf - as I don't use this bag that much either! This bag has been discontinued by Hermes, although it was a popular seller while it lasted. (Name: Hermes Fourre-Tout PM Canvas Tote in Quetsche)


LOUIS VUITTON
I got this Speedy 25 in 2009 at Holt Renfrew. There was some boring paperwork that hubby had been putting off - and I offered to do it in exchange for this bag. I'd like to think he would have gotten it for me anyway - but I like feeling that I "earned" this bag - so I don't feel any guilt about getting it! I love how "chubby" this bag is - I purchased a bag insert for it - so that it keeps its shape all the time. (Name: Speedy 25 in Monogram Canvas)


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Braided hairstyles and Sephora Headband

I love the look of mini-braids in hairstyles. The braid takes a simple style and makes it fun by adding interest and texture to your hair. You don't need to use a lot of styling products, and the finished look is delicate and feminine. Below are some pics of celebs wearing braided hairstyles:
Rachel Bilson with 2 delicate braids pulled off her face:

Jennifer Aniston with a french braid at the 2009 Oscars:

Braided hair is a staple of Lauren Conrad's red carpet look.



I love french braiding my hair like a hairband, and either having the rest of my hair free or in a bun. Here's a pic of me from last summer with a french braid.

I found an AMAZING item at Sephora which I love using for a quick and neat braided hairstyle. It's called the Thick Braidie Headband and is $10USD. It uses synthetic hair braided into a hairband. There are 5 shades available - I got the black one.

Most headbands either give me a headache or slip off my head - but this is very comfortable and the texture of hair-on-hair makes it stay in place. Here's a pic of me wearing it. It blends right in! (Disclaimer: I purchased this product myself and wasn't paid to review it.)

I've heard that their are similar products available at stores like Claire's and ASOS. (Below is an old pic from the ASOS website of a similar item)

It is definitely worth checking out and seeing if it works for you - a great solution for a boring hair day!
Do you like wearing braids in your hair?

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