May 2016 Beauty & Lifestyle Favourites

You guys!!! Summer is nearly here! I'm super excited to say farewell to May and hello to June, which hopefully will consist of beautiful, sunny filled days by the pool or relaxing moments paddling on the water in my kayak. I can't wait to spend more of my time outdoors, enjoying the warmer weather! If the last week of roughly 30 degree weather is any indication of what's to come, I think we're in for a (HOT) treat.

Beauty Favourites:
Wet n Wild Photo Focus Setting Spray
Dedicating an entire post to one single product is a pretty good indication that I like it. I talk about this setting spray a little more in depth here, but to summarize...it's a really great drugstore option with a super fine mist that makes makeup last all day long. I dare even say it's better than the Mac Fix Plus!

Garnier SkinActive Micellar Water
I'm a massive fan of micellar waters! After long days or late nights when I'm super tired and feeling like a lazy blob it makes maintaining clean skin a breeze. A generous amount on a cotton pad removes makeup with minimal effort. Eyeliner and mascara dissolves quickly, without requiring any dramatic rubbing or tugging. This not only saves my lashes from being ripped out, it also prevents wrinkles! Our skin is very delicate - especially the eye area - and we want to avoid as much pulling as possible.

The Garnier SkinActive Micellar Water is oil, alcohol and fragrance free. It doesn't seem to dry out my skin and is a great option for removing dirt before a gym sesh (and wiping away sweat afterwards). I try to only cleanse my skin twice a day; once in the morning and once at night. Any more and my skin becomes irritated and dehydrated. But if I want to fit in a workout somewhere in between waking up and going to bed, I HAVE to take my makeup off. Micellar water is my solution! It's gentle and effective without striping my skin.

It's also pretty affordable (I recently picked up a brand new bottle on sale at Shoppers Drug Mart for just $6). Plus the bottle is a generous size and lasts a relatively long time.

Josie Maran Argan Cleansing Oil
Dev gained some bonus points when he bought this for me at Christmas. I have to give him credit for venturing into Sephora during the hectic shopping season. Brave man! I also have him to thank for introducing me to a new product...one that I absolutely love!

I've spoken about oil cleansers before, but basically they are meant to be massaged into dry skin to dissolve makeup, before being washed away with water. This one in particular is all natural, made with sunflower, grape seed oils and of course, argan oil, which is known to moisturize and prevent hyperpigmentation and inflammation. With very few organic ingredients - organic ones - it's a really great option for anyone with sensitive skin!

It's a thicker consistency than other brands I have tried, but does a really great job at removing my makeup quickly. Afterwards I'm left with clean and soft skin that's slightly hydrated and never tight. It also has a subtle grapefruit scent which my nose really likes.

Lifestyle Favourites:
Game of Thrones
It seems like the season just started, but somehow we're already waiting on episode seven. The series has been somewhat uneventful thus far (in my honest opinion) but I love seeing the character development and stories unfold. Dev assures me that episode nine is going to be the biggy, when something dramatic occurs. The show is known for being super ruthless and shocking, after all. I really can't wait to pick my jaw up off of the floor. Regardless, it's the one series that Dev and I watch religiously together and I really don't want it to end!

Ps. I'm shamelessly a Sansa fan and I think her time to shine is coming soon! Who's your favourite character?



A Trick To Curl Hair In A Jiffy

I can't exactly remember why I decided to try this hair trick one day - I must have seen it on Pinterest or in a video. Regardless, this is the fastest way I have ever curled my hair and it's something I do pretty regularly now when I need to get out the door in a jiffy.

First I gather all of my hair into a seriously high ponytail. Think Beyonce and a bit of the 90's mixed together, but accentuated even more. I basically bring the bundle as close to my forehead as possible. Trust me...baby hairs go haywire and it's not the prettiest updo, but it's a key step to creating these super quick beachy waves. 

Next I separate my hair into four sections and wrap each one around a curling wand. I hold each piece for a good 10 seconds before letting them fall away from the hot tool. 

I have pretty fine hair so this works well for me. Someone with thicker hair may find it easier to create 8-10 sections.  

Finally, I remove the hair elastic and give my head a good shake. I'll run my fingers through everything to make sure there are no kinks and the sections blend together.

The final look is quite natural and effortless. I personally really like the dishevelled, bed-head look and these curls are no where near perfect. I've also tried many sea salt sprays that never seem to do what they claim. This is seriously the easiest and fasted way to achieve a beach vibe - perfect for summer (which is less than a month away...YAY!!).

Have you tried this trick before? How did it work for you?



Empty Products - Hits and Misses Round 4

It's time once again to talk about my garbage! Boy, has it been a while since I've done a post like this.  Spoiler alert: each and every product mentioned today is a total hit in my book! Many I plan to repurchase in the near future, if I haven't already.

Covergirl Outlast Stay Luminous Foundation
Because I don't wear foundation on the regular, I've never had the chance to finish one before it had gone past its expiration date. Until now! For the last couple of weeks I've been desperately pumping and scraping at the bottle to get every last bit. Just look at how grimy the packaging has become.

I really liked the medium coverage and dewy finish the Stay Luminous Foundation gave my skin. It never looked cake-y and seemed to last all day. I will definitely be purchasing a new one.

This isn't quite empty  yet, but after having it in my stash for a little while, I think it's gone off. It's no longer a creamy consistency, but a little more like the water-y gunk that squirts from a mustard bottle if not shaken properly. Gross...I know. But I've tried shaking the crap out of this eye cream and it's still not the same as it was when I first received it in Birchbox. I don't want to take my chances, so it will be taking a trip to the trash bin. It was a nice de-puffing eye cream though. 

The Body Shop Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil
This is a really great, inexpensive oil cleanser! The calming, sleepytime tea-like fragrance is beautiful, especially when washing makeup off at night and gearing down for bed. It dissolves makeup instantly and rinses away with ease. Unlike many other oil cleansers I've tried, it doesn't leave any sticky residue and leaves my skin feeling soft and hydrated. I'm currently using a different oil-based cleanser (stay tuned to see it in my upcoming favourites post) but eventually I will repurchase this one.

My skin can never really decide which club it wants to join. I mean, are you in the dry society, the oily organization, the combination circle or the sensitive squad? Seriously...make up your mind!

I had been struggling to find a moisturizer to suit my changing skin needs for a short while. Some were causing me to break out, and others just didn't seem to hydrate enough. This moisturizer has come to my rescue! The gel consistency absorbs quickly, but is also cooling, which I believe helps to de-puff and awaken my complexion. It's fragrance free, which is perfect for days when my skin decides to be a little more reactive prone.

The Dramatically Different Gel has become a staple in my routine and I will most definitely be purchasing a full-size bottle.

Maybelline SuperStay Better Skin Concealer
It's not unusual to find a concealer (or two) in an empty's post. It's a product I use the most. Even on 'no-makeup' days, I like to cover the dark circles under my eyes and make myself look more awake. I didn't notice any major long-term results as far as the elimination of imperfections, like it promises to do. But it was a nice creamy consistency that blended easily under my eyes and stayed put for the most part.

Maybelline Fit Me Concealer
Hands down, this is my favourite concealer from the drugstore. OK, I take that back - it's actually tied with the Maybelline Instant Age Rewind. Do we see a trend here with this brand? They make damn good concealers! This one in particular, however, contains the perfect amount of pigment and is a thick (but not too thick) consistency, allowing for great coverage with a natural finish. 

My lashes just haven't been the same lately. Nothing quite compares to the length and curl this mascara achieves. I recently spotted an ad for a new formula containing fibres. I must hunt down this sister version - the Super Sizer Fibres Mascara, because I have a good feeling that it will be even better than the original.

I hope you enjoyed these mini product reviews! There are quite a few items in my makeup and skincare drawer that are nearly finished, so stay tuned for another one of these empty posts soon.

Ps. Have a great long weekend, my fellow Canadians! 



The Secret to Successful Eggplant Parmesan

Have ever tried to make eggplant parmesan at home? Does it often turn to mush? Don't feel bad - we've all been there. 

I have a trick. It's the secret to successful, crispy, delicious eggplant parmesan and today I'm sharing it with you!

First, slice your eggplant into 1/4" - 1/2" slices. Next, you're going to need a special and essential (but oh so basic) ingredient...SALT! Lay each slice flat and liberally sprinkle them with salt. This will extract much of the moisture, and at the same time, season the vegetables. 

I like to let them sit for about 20-30 minutes to ensure all excess liquids are drawn out. Once they've had time to sweat, I'll use paper towel to pat them dry. 

The assembly line I like to use consists of flour, egg and panko bread crumbs. Dev and I really like the flavour of lemon pepper added to the coating, but extra seasonings are totally a personal choice. 

The eggplant must be coated in flour first, before being dunked into the gooey egg mixture. Despite draining them of moisture, these veggies can still be quite slick. Without this step - commonly considered 'dredging' - the egg will slide right off. You want to ensure each slice is covered completely in these two binding agents before entering the breadcrumbs. To put it simply...no flour equals no egg, which equals zero crisp on the outside. Which also equals mega disappointment. 

I pan fry these in a little extra virgin olive oil, but coconut oil is an option as well if you're looking to be super healthy. I let them cook on a low temperature at first so they soften through the middle ever so slightly. Once they're just about ready for our hungry bellies, I like to kick up the heat and sear the outside to achieve a nice crunch. 

Speaking of healthy, I like to serve these on a portion of whole wheat spaghettini. For the record, spaghettini is wayyy better than regular old spaghetti. 

They're pictured here with a little basil pesto that I heated in a pan with some sautéed mushrooms and shallots. It may not be the most visually appealing dish - I realize it's missing some colour - but I promise it's delicious and nutritious! 

FYI: This salt trick can also be used for other water-dense vegetables including zucchini, cucumber and squash.   



Tropical Print Nails Inspired By H&M Romper

While shopping with my girlfriends at the Eaton Centre in Toronto a couple of weekends ago, I spotted someone in the change room wearing this romper from H&M. It was love at first sight, and the hunt was on. I knew I needed this piece in my life. We searched the massive, three-story department store high and low before I finally found one and it happened to be my size.  

I'm completely obsessed with the deep green colour and tropical print pattern. Unfortunately, the weather isn't quite warm enough to bear this much skin at the moment, so my new romper will have to hang out in my closet for a few more weeks. Deciding I couldn't wait this long to wear the interesting print, I was inspired to re-create it as a nail design. 

I didn't have a colour in my collection to match, so I mixed a dark teal and bright green nail polish to create a colour somewhere in between. Believe it or not, I also used white to paint the pattern, but once applied over the green base it naturally transformed into a vibrant yellow. It was not planned for the final look to be quite as neon, but I'll admit...I didn't hate it. 

I used a nail striper to copy shapes from the jumpsuit, and decided to make each nail slightly different. It took a steady hand, but in the end it was actually pretty easy. I sealed the deal with a matte top coat. 

One outfit resulted in a pretty bomb manicure - if I do say so myself. I think it's pretty awesome that inspiration can be drawn from the simplest of things in our everyday lives. I'm already curious to see where my imagination will take me next. 



April 2016 Beauty & Lifestyle Favourites

I don't really feel comfortable talking about something in a favourites feature if I don't absolutely, positively, 100% LOVE it. Therefore, today's post will only feature one beauty item and one lifestyle pick. Anything else that I used religiously or stumbled upon during April has already been mentioned in previous posts. To prevent repetition, I figured it would be best to keep it short and simple and talk about two things I really did enjoy during the past month.

Beauty Favourite:
Calgon Marshmallow Fragrance Body Mist
This is a total high school throwback for me! I'm pretty sure I owned every Calgon scent at one point. Hawaiian Ginger used to be my favourite (it smells like sunshine and lollipops), but Marshmallow could potentially take the lead. I have doused myself in this sweet, candy-scented mist nearly every day for the past few weeks. As with every body spray, the fragrance can disappear after just a couple of hours, which is why I like to keep it in my purse for re-application. It contains hints of vanilla and musk that can be quite tantalizing, yet subtle. I think it's perfect for both day and night-time wear.

Lifestyle Favourite:
Lauren In Real Life and hot for food
Do you remember Lauren Toyota from MTV and Much Music? Well now she works alongside her beau posting delicious vegan food recipes on YouTube and their blog, hot for food. Each week the two create beautiful meals that put a spin on traditional dishes. Lauren also has her own personal vlogging channel, sharing a variety of content. Recently I've been most intrigued by her 'WHAT I ATE IN A DAY' videos, through which she shares meal ideas and nutritional information. She always seems to whip up something interesting, makes use of leftovers and chooses ingredients that I've never heard of before. At the same time, she seems so natural and genuine in front of the camera. She's just a cool cat!

I'm not vegan, nor vegetarian, but I am certainly willing to test out each recipe and it has inspired me to choose healthier options.

Despite only containing a few items, I hope you enjoyed today's post! I can't wait to see what products I will discover (or re-discover) during the month of May.

Ps. I hope all of my momma readers have an amazing Mother's Day this weekend!