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Sunday, 30 April 2017

LBH April Monthly Favourites: L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream, ELF HD Lifting Concealer vs Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer Review

The warm weather arrived, disappeared, arrived then disappeared again.  The upside of the changeable weather meant that I could put off showing my pale, dry legs.  I am not sure if it is the long Canadian winter or the fact that the air in my building is extremely drying but the skin on my legs get really flaky.  I know that the L'Occitane 20% Shea Butter Hand Cream is supposed to be for the hands but it is so deliriously creamy and unctuous that, to me, it is the gold standard for tackling any dry area on the body.

So I was very pleased to receive a L"Occitane giveaway that contained a travel sized tube of the hand cream.  Included was a little pot of L'Occitane Light Comforting Cream with 5% shea butter which I am keen to try out.  I love the pink tweed bag that they came in as it will come in handy for corralling little things in my handbag.  Monsieur surprised me with a full size tube of the hand cream even though I had received one in my stocking this past Christmas.  He knew I had been having a rough time of it lately and also knows how obsessed I am with this cream.  The 150 ml tube will last me an entire year so it really is good value for the money.  I think I am all set for the next couple of years!
My Nars concealer was running low so I picked up an e.l.f HD Lifting Concealer.  I was curious to compare a high end concealer with a drugstore brand.  It might be a bit like comparing apples to oranges but the e.l.f concealer is so affordable that I wanted to give it a whirl.

I got the e.l.f. concealer in the shade "Fair" which is comparable o the Nars Light 2 Vanilla.  It has Vitamin C, green tea and mulberry in it.  I found that the e.l.f. concealer had a lot more slip with an almost oily feel to it.  It takes a while to dry down to a dewy finish as a result.  The benefit to that is that, if you have fine wrinkles in the undereye area, it is less likely to settle into the lines and to crease.  I would say that it is medium coverage as compared to the Nars which is full coverage.  It is buildable, however, if you want full coverage.  The Nars concealer has a more powdery, thick consistency and dries down to a velvet, matte finish.  One of the issues I had with the e.l.f. concealer was that there were only two shades available, Fair and Light.  The Fair has pink tones while the Light has orange tones to it.  I suppose that for the price, the limited selection is to be expected.  So, if you want a wider selection of shades then Nars is the better bet for you.  I wanted to point out that in the photo above, the Nars concealer pictured is the travel sized version.  I wouldn't want you to have a heart attack, thinking that it is such a tiny tube for the cost!  Both wore well over the course of a day.  Yesterday, I had the e.l.f. on for at least 16 hours and it still looked fine.  When all is said and done, I guess picking one over the other is dependent on factors like budget, whether you want a good colour match or have a preference over the texture and finish.  Have you tried any other e.l.f. products?  Do you have any recommendations?

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Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Decluttering and Clear Surfaces

As I continue to stoically and steadfastly declutter and organize my home, one thing I have discovered that really helps to keep me motivated is to have at least one clear surface in the home.  The above is what I see when I walk through the door.  For some reason, seeing that surface with nothing on it except what is necessary puts me in a good mood.  Even if every other surface in the home is covered in junk, knowing that I have managed to keep one surface clear keeps me motivated to continue on my decluttering journey.  Baby steps, people, baby steps.  If you are struggling to maintain some sort of order amidst the chaos in your home, try keeping at least one surface clear.  Let me know if this tip is working for you!

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Sunday, 23 April 2017

LBH Weekly Roundup: Harvest Snaps, J Crew Eyelet Shirt, Ole Henricksen

Ahhhh, Spring is coming in strong!  Somehow, the warmer weather puts me in mind of eating mindfully.  It is difficult to move past the Easter chocolate extravaganza and snacking has always been my downfall.  Luckily, I discovered these Harvest Snaps and have been obsessed ever since.

They are baked, low salt, whole pea pods and remind me of the green pea version of corn puffs.  Somehow, I expected them to be crispy and crunchy but they are feather-like in weight and texture.  They come in lots of other flavours like Wasabi Ranch and you can even get Lentil Snaps in Tomato Basil.  The problem is that I could easily finish an entire bag in one sitting as they are so light and airy which rather defeats the purpose of healthy snacking.
The advent of warmer weather has meant that I have been feeling very hot and smothered in my winter tops. I picked up this J Crew eyelet shirt this past week.  I have tried being thrifty by checking out the thrift stores but it isn't as easy for me these days to engage in multiple trips hunting for the right top that will suit my needs.  When I saw this shirt, the last one in my size at my local J Crew, I figured it was meant to be.

via J Crew

It buttons up the front which means I can put it on without too much struggle, is loose fitting so disguises the omnipresent muffin top and the slightly billowing sleeves take care of the batwings. 
And lastly, Sephora had an Insider Sale this past Friday.  Did you get anything?  More to the point, did you dare set foot into a store?  It was pandemonium at my local Sephora.  I was quite sad when I finished off my Ole Henricksen skincare kit and was very pleased to see he had brought out another small kit.

I am kicking myself that I didn't pick up more but my brain tends to freeze when confronted with hordes of manic shoppers.
Are you enjoying warm weather, wherever you are?

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Sunday, 16 April 2017

LBH Weekly Roundup: Shopping At Marshalls, Roots Tote Bag

Happy Easter!  Spring has finally sprung and the weekend has been wonderfully sunny.  Can you believe that just a short while ago we had a day of constant snowfall?  The warmer weather reminded me that I was in dire need of a new pair of sandals.  My current pair are completely thrashed.  I don't have a lot of luck thrifting shoes.  They are either a poor fit or don't fulfill my needs (hello blisters!).  I tried and tried and then finally realized that I was just going in circles wasting time, energy and transportation costs.  And in the meantime, my poor feet were suffering.  Instead of living a simpler life, I was complicating it and generating a lot of stress and frustration. So, I decided to drop into Marshalls for the first time.  It is a US based offprice department store, quite similar to Winners.  I wonder if they are sister companies as the price stickers are almost identical.  Usually, I avoid such places as the miles of jumbled up racks and I find having to dig for a fashion bargain to be quite offputting  But this time, it was a quick and easy experience. If I go in with a specific shopping list and stick to it, then it is painless and enjoyable.  Strange how I don't mind hunting the racks at a thrift store but dislike the experience in a retail setting.  I suppose that, when I do shop retail, and yes, in my book, an offprice department store still counts as retail, then I want it to be a proper retail experience.  My trip was a success as I scored this pair of sandals.  

They have a comfy shock absorbing rubber sole but the gold and silver beads on the stretchy elastic band give them a bit of bing and lift them up from old lady walking shoe territory.  And you know what?  I felt such a feeling of gratitude and appreciation when I brought home this one pair of sandals that I really needed.  And that to me, is the essence of intentional spending.
Speaking of thrifting attempts,  here is one attempt that paid off in spades.  I scored a preloved Roots tote bag this past week.  If you grew up in Canada, you may recall when monogrammed Roots bags were all the rage.  Oh, how I wanted one!  But I was a poor university student at the time and could only lust from afar.  Imagine my delight when I spotted this vintage beauty.

Look at that shell pink "C"!  It was meant to be.  It has lots of interior side pockets (I do love a pocket) and is the size, not too cumbersome nor too impractically small.   
So bring on Spring!  I am ready.

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Thursday, 13 April 2017

Being Emotionally Ready For Decluttering

I have tried many, many methods of decluttering espoused by various "experts". Discarding one item a day, playing my version of the minimizing game where you discard one item on the first day, then two on the second day and so on.  And while they all have their merits,  a lot of these organizing and decluttering experts assume that, by the time you discover their method(s), you are ready to jump right into decluttering and that, once done, you never have to do it again.  They don't really cover the emotional springboard required before the whirlwind of decluttering commences.  Based on my own experience,  I have found that I have to be emotionally ready to do it.  Declutter my childhood teddy bear?  No way!  To be honest, I have gotten rid of a couple things that I regret parting with.  At the time, I felt like I "had" to get rid of it as it was taking up space and wasn't being used.  But I loved it and thought it lovely.  I think I fell into the trap of playing a numbers game and worried that, if I didn't constantly declutter, I was being a bad declutterer and that, at any minute, the declutter/minimalism police was going to show up at my door.  Afterwards, I felt a simmering resentment inside of me and, for a long time, thought about what I had discarded (hoarders, stop reading if this is causing you palpitations!).  No, I wasn't prostrate with grief and lived to tell the tale but, looking back, I know now that the only person I am accountable to in my decluttering efforts is myself (and to some degree, the people I live with).  If I want to keep my childhood teddy bear, I will!  And placing it in a tree in a forest, as some suggest, or placing a bag over its head doesn't really alleviate the sadness if you feel you are being forced to do it.  In fact, if you do have a strong emotional attachment to something, being forced to do something you don't want to do, can make you cling on even more.  So, I think that before starting your decluttering efforts, ask yourself if you are truly ready?
Once you have completed your decluttering campaign, you may think that you never have to do it again.  Wrong!  Unless you are a hardcore minimalist, life changes and you change.  One day, you might look at that thing that you looked at a million times and thought you could never part with and suddenly decide that its usefulness is over and you are ready to part with it.  And that's fine.  You haven't failed.  Our homes should move and flow with our lives and be a true reflection of it.  
Are you in the midst of Spring Cleaning?  Any suggestions to make the process easier?

Monday, 10 April 2017

LBH Weekly Roundup: Straw Brushes and Under Cabinet Wire Drawers

In my neverending quest to streamline my life, I have converted to using a stainless steel travel mug and straw.  To be honest, I bought the mug because I just wanted the straw.  I think I switched over after I saw a video about a giant sea turtle that had a plastic straw stuck up one nostril.  The poor thing kept sneezing.  For some reason, the sneezing, which sounded just like a baby with a bad cold, and the giant dinner plate eyes really got to me.  I have been very good about taking my stainless steel paraphernalia with me wherever I go even though it is heavy and cumbersome.

The only problem that remained was "How to clean the straw?"  Gone are the days when I would sip on a plastic straw and then blindly throw it in the trash, not worrying about cleanup.  Thankfully, I got my hands on the world's longest and thinnest brush.  You can get similar brushes here.
Also, in my neverending quest to organize and streamline, I think I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel in taming the horror that is the cabinet under the kitchen sink.  I finally realized that a lot of the problem lay in the fact that there are no shelves or drawers in there so everything gets thrown on top of each other.  Some sort of elevation was needed so I put in a set of wire mesh drawers.

image source via Amazon.ca

The cleaners get stacked up top.  I love the fact that the drawers slide forward allowing for ease and efficiency of movement and more importantly, no drilling or hammering required!  If you have any organizing tips, please share!

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Thursday, 6 April 2017

LBH Frugal Life Hacks 1.0: Coralling Clutter, Repurposing Containers and Dollar Store Finds

When my health took a nosedive, it was months of struggle before I admitted to myself that I had to take stock of my home and my life and start changing things that weren't working for me anymore.  I think that, as a whole, we often become numb to those little things that annoy and aggravate us.  For example, the clutter and mess under the kitchen sink was a continuing source of embarassment for me.  I have been very good about taking reusable tote bags with me wherever I go so the amount of plastic bags entering my home has been greatly reduced but there was a time when a vortex of grocery plastic bags  would explode forth whenever the cabinet door was opened.  Various cleaners would be tossed on top which would fall down below the heap, never to be found again.  I couldn't rummage around like I used to and had to think of thrifty ways to arrange the morass to allow for ease and efficiency of movement.

Enter Command Strips to the rescue!  I found a caddy at Dollarama (Canada's version of the Dollar Store) which was meant for holding soap on a shower wall, took off the two suction cups on the back and stuck on a Command Strip.  The caddy holds a roll of garbage bags and twist ties and is affixed to the back side of the door.  I love Command Strips as you can MacGyver so many things with them.  The caddy was only about a dollar so is an extremely affordable organizing solution.  Elevating organizational tools helps to relieve clutter and ensures easy access for me.
Another Dollarama find was a car socket charger.  What did we do in the days before a GPS in our smartphone?  However, I have found that using the GPS drains the battery very quickly.  Name brand car chargers can be quite pricey and I can't tell you how many I have bought that just stopped working.  So, I was very pleased to find this little gadget that actually works.  It was only $4.00.  I have my smartphone charging the entire time that I am using the GPS so the battery is never drained when I arrive at my destination.  Just remember to unplug it when the car is not running otherwise it could drain your car battery.

Easter is around the corner and maybe you will be lucky enough to be given a box of Ferrero Rocher chocolates.  After you have gobbled down the contents, it is really easy to remove the label and you will be left with a clear box that can be repurposed many different ways.

As you see, I have filled it with cotton swabs, balls and pads. It makes a lovely, minimal Muji style toiletries container for no added cost.  I have reused spray bottles that once held all-purpose cleaners for my homemade vinegar and water cleaner and am always on the lookout for containers that can be repurposed.  A caveat to this is to use your common sense.  If the container once held a toxic or caustic substance then I would be wary about reusing it.  Do you repurpose containers?  Do you have any frugal tips to share?

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Sunday, 2 April 2017

LBH Weekly Roundup: March Favourites Trainspotting T2, ELF Brushes, PNY Power Pack

Haha, see what I did?  I am folding a Monthly Favourite into a Weekly Roundup!  Yes, I am a badass that way which leads me neatly into my first fave, Trainspotting 2 or T2.

Image Source via imdb.com

All I can say is, "Thank God, it's not shite."  I have included it in the March Favourites because it opened in Canada the weekend of March 17.  I was celebrating a birthday that weekend and it seemed fateful  to see T2.  I remember watching the first "Trainspotting" and being completely and utterly gobsmacked by the giddy hedonism, the sheer ferocity of it all.  Living in my quiet, conservative lakeside town,  I wanted to be part of the wave of Cool Britannia that was cresting over the world so very, very desperately.  20 years on and I, like Renton, Sick Boy and Spud, and probably a lot of other Gen X'ers, am feeling left behind and squeezed out by the Millennials.  Weirdly, this movie affirmed my growing feelings of ennui and discontent.  Bring on the Gen X'ers!  We've still got something to say.
Next fave and on a completely different note are e.l.f brushes.  I had been struggling with crappy makeup brushes (the freebies that come in gwp sets) for what felt like an ice age.  They were prickly, shed like a Himalayan cat and made even the best blush look patchy.  Thank goodness for e.l.f brushes.  They are wonderfully soft, no shedding yet and best of all, the price point just can't be beat.  I paid around $3.99 CAD each at Rexall Pharmacy.

Last fave is the PNY Power Pack.  

via amazon.ca

This little gadget has already saved me numerous times.  It is surprisingly lightweight but most of all, what I like about it is that it has built in cables, one for an iphone and one for a smartphone.  No more dangling cables that inevitably get lost.  And that's it for this month!

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