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Wednesday, 31 May 2017

LBH May Monthly Favourites: Bordertown, Shetland and The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors Moisturizer

It is time for another Monthly Favourites!  Yet again, I have been binge watching shows on Netflix.  The thing about Netflix is that it is so vast that it is a crap shoot what you might come across.  In my thirst for Scandi Noir, I stumbled upon "Bordertown" (also known as "Sorjonen"), a Finnish crime drama.

The central character, Kari Sorjonen, reminds me of "The Bridge's" Saga Noren or even Sherlock Holmes, in that he has more than a few quirky personality traits that tend to rub the people around him the wrong way.  The difference here is that, rather than the usual trope of the antisocial, eccentric but brilliant detective, he has a wife and daughter so is actually able to have functioning personal relationships.  I must admit that a big draw of this show is the Finnish landscape which should be given its own credit as a supporting cast member.
Another crime drama I have been binge watching is the BBC's Shetland.

Who knew that there could be so much crime on an island?  I found Season 1 to be a bit of a slog.  I am glad I stuck with it as I feel that the writers and actors hit their stride by Season 3 and were feeling a lot more comfortable with the characters and the storyline(s).  And again, the island scenery is breathtaking.
Lastly, I repurchased The Ordinary's Natural Moisturizing Factors plus HA moisturizer which is always a good sign.  I am not sure if it is because I know that it is so affordable so I am quite generous with its application or if the 30 ml in the tube just doesn't go very far but I used up my first tube in 2 weeks. 

And that's it!  Join me on June 1st as I kick off 30 Days of Wellness, a challenge to try to achieve a better state of wellbeing through achievable, actionable steps.  I am feeling really nervous about it and am wondering if I have set myself an unrealistic goal.  I think I am going to need a lot of virtual handholding!

This is not a sponsored post. Some links are affiliate links.

Monday, 29 May 2017

LBH Weekly Roundup: Nars Larger Than Life Long Wear Eyeliner, H & M Light and Shade Contour Duo

With the blindness of youth, I never envisaged the day when I would need to worry about fine lines, hooded eyes or the depressing effects of gravity.  It didn't happen overnight (or perhaps it seemed like it did) but I noticed that my favourite eye pencil wasn't performing like it used to.  There was constant smudging and I would look like a raccoon at the end of the day.  Glumly, it dawned on me that it wasn't the fault of the pencil but the fact that my eyelids were losing their battle against time and gravity.  Enter the Nars Larger Than Life Long-Wear Eyeliner.

It is supposed to last for 12 hours, be smudge proof and even comes with its own tiny sharpener.  I had assumed that the sharpener was located inside the cap but it is actually at the end of the pencil.  I got the shade Rue Saint Honore which is a deep metallic blue.  I have been wearing it every day for the past week and I will say that there was a learning curve.  Because it is supposedly smudge proof, you have to apply it quickly before it sets.  After it sets, it is almost impossible to build it up without having bits flake off.  It isn't very creamy and I find that it tends to catch and pull on the skin.  In terms of being smudge proof, tiny crumbs do fall off during the day and there is a small amount of smudging but not to the point where I am getting raccoon eyes.  I find that it is best used for tightlining and for subtle definition.  I tried doing a cat eye but didn't have an easy time doing the tail as I just couldn't layer the strokes.  I will continue to use it but am going to keep my eye out for a replacement.  Have you tried the Nars eyeliner?
I went into H & M, eager to use my clothing donation coupons (see my previous post).  I haven't stepped into an H & M in years and now I know why.  The blaring music, miles of inventory and the long lineup at the fitting rooms was really overwhelming.  Desperately, I kept going round and round the store looking for something to buy.  Truly, I felt like I meandering through the seventh circle of Hell.  Finally, as I was ready to give up, I stumbled across their cosmetics section.  Hallelujah!  I didn't know they had a beauty line and was pleased and relieved to pick up their Light and Shade Contour Duo.

I know contouring is all the rage but, until now, it is something that I have never tried.  Thankfully, it comes with an instruction pamphlet, perfect for us newbies.  The compact comes in 3 shades, Light, Medium and Deep.  I chose Medium because I like the highlighter which is pink toned whereas the highlighter in the Light compact is a frosty white.  The compact is a lightweight plastic and so doesn't have the satisfying heft of a more expensive brand.  However, this is H & M, home of fast fashion so the flimsy packaging is to be expected.  At $12.99 CAD, I figured I could try contouring and not have it hurt my wallet.  It is a cream formula so it is easy to blend and build.  I have been using a light hand as I don't want to end up with a scary Kabuki mask.  Are you a fan of contouring?  Any tips or suggestions for this neophyte?

I am going to kick off a 30 Day Wellness Challenge on June 1.  Please join me as I challenge myself to do one small thing a day to improve my overall wellness!
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Thursday, 25 May 2017

H & M Clothes Donation Recycling Campaign #closetheloop

I was so pleased to see posters at my local mall announcing H & M's clothing donation campaign.  I figured it was a good incentive for me to declutter my closet.  Starting on the 23rd of May and running until the 28th, you can drop off a bag of clothing in any condition and receive a $10 H & M voucher or coupon.  Brilliant!  So far, I have dropped off 2 bags.  The first bag was easy and the second bag was a little harder.  It's been pouring rain for hours today so I didn't make another donation. Also, it has gotten progressively harder to put together another bag.  After hours of staring at my closet, putting something on the donate pile, changing my mind and taking it off, I needed a break.  I do think it is important to make decluttering fun and not overwhelming, so I called a halt when I felt myself getting really bogged down.  A word of warning here.  I made the mistake of making my first donation at the bin located inside the H & M store.  I had asked an employee where the bins were and was directed to a small bin beside the cash register.  There was a pile of forms for a giveaway and I assumed that the giveaway was the only incentive on offer to make a donation.  The 2 employees at the cash didn't give me any vouchers or attempted to tell me about the vouchers.  Then, I went out into the mall and, much to my chagrin, there was a huge booth manned by attendants giving out coupons for donations!  I asked one of the attendants why coupons weren't being given out in the store but the only explanation I was given was that she wasn't "technically" an H & M employee so couldn't answer my question and that possibly the "real" employees didn't know about the H & M campaign (???).  If you would like a coupon, make sure you make your donation at a drop-off point that is actually giving out the coupons.  All that aside, quite unwittingly, I am well on my way to using Marie Kondo's method of decluttering my closet espoused in her book, "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up," which involves going through every single item in your closet and making a decision on it.  And that, surely, is a good thing.

This is not a sponsored post.  Some links are affiliate links.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

LBH Weekly Roundup: Shiseido Full Lash and Brow Serum, Banana Republic Merino Cardigan

Time for another Weekly Roundup!  I am not sure if it was because of my protracted love affair with waterproof mascara or age but my eyelashes, which were always skimpy, one day decided to run up the white flag of surrender.  There are a couple of well known lash enhancement serums on the market but the cost is prohibitive.  I did try Gosh's lash serum but, every time I applied it, it stung and burned.  I tried to put up with the burning but each time, I would cave and wash it off.  So I never did see any benefit from it.  This week I picked up Shiseido's Full Lash and Brow Serum.

What I like about Shiseido's Serum is that the applicator is in the form of a soft doe foot instead of a spoolie.  This means that it is easy to apply to the lash line.  The formula doesn't sting and burn me.  It is too early to report on any results right now.  I have heard that it can take up to 6 to 8 weeks so I will let you know then.
I also picked up a new merino wool cardigan from Banana Republic.

via bananarepublic.ca

It was on sale for 40% off, yay!  I got it in the colour "Citron" which is a very unusual almost fluoro yellow with a distinctive green undertone to it.  I do love a punchy statement colour for adding some pizzazz to my wardrobe and, when I saw this particular colour,  I couldn't get it out of my head.  I love cardigans for their layering capability, don't you?  After at least 5 days of mulling it over, I pulled the trigger and now I am obsessed with it.  Of course there are lots of other colours and the last time I checked, the sale was still on so take a peek if you are so inclined.
It's Victoria Day Long Weekend here in Canada.  I hope you had a lovely weekend!

This is not a sponsored post.  Some links are affiliate links.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Getting My Hair Cut By A Student At The Aveda Institute

I am addicted to getting my hair cut by a student.  Yes, a student!  For years, I went to a very expensive salon.  Initially, I was paying $45.00 then it slowly crept up towards $75.00, then $95.00, then $120.00.  Now with taxes and a hefty tip, I was looking at a $150.00 haircut and, pretty soon, I knew it would be closing in on $200.00.  I don't colour my hair or have it permed or straightened.  It is a simple trim. I know that, in certain places and circles, a $200.00 haircut is nothing.  But, for me, I noticed that I was beginning to dread booking my appointment.  It wasn't just the money but I would go in expecting to come out with a revolutionary haircut worthy of all those dollars and, despite constantly asking my stylist for suggestions, I always came out looking like me, with the exact same hairstyle that was now 1.5 inches shorter.  So, I let my hair grow and grow until one day I couldn't stand it anymore and typed in "cheap haircuts" into Google. And it came up with Aveda Institute.

It turns out that it is a feeder school for my very expensive salon.  What?!  You can book an appointment with an Institute, Academy, Advanced Graduate, or Educator Level stylist and the prices reflect the stylist's level of expertise.  Usually I request an Institute Level stylist who is still a student.  The cost?  Under $30.00. This includes a blissful head, neck and shoulder massage and an offer of coffee or tea.  It is quite amusing that you can get such a bargain at a place that is located just a stone's throw away from the financial district. So far, I have had amazing haircuts and haircuts that were average but I have never had a haircut that was horrendous.  Be prepared for the haircut to take a long time.  Depending on the student's skill level, it can take anywhere from 2 to 3 hours as they are supervised and have to constantly check in with their educator.  The trade off is that this means peace of mind for the customer as there is almost no likelihood that you will come out looking like you had a run-in with a  lawnmower.

Looking back now, I do wish that I had known of this option much, much sooner.  But as with everything in life, it required a turning point in mindset.  I grew up enduring years of bad home haircuts.  From the time I was young, it was drummed into me that I had horrible hair.  It was slightly wavy, like my father's, and, boy, was my hair hated for that reason.  I grew up convinced that, if I so much as set foot in a salon, the hairdresser would take one look and faint away in horror.  When I finally was old enough to earn my own money and venture into a salon, it was a relief to find a stylist who did a decent job with my hair and didn't look at me or my poor hair like I was the spawn of the devil.  I should stop and say here, that aside from a tendency to get frizzy during humid summer months, there is nothing untoward about my hair or anything remotely suggesting that I have DNA derived from supernatural beings, aliens or similar.  At least I hope not. Even when the cost kept creeping up, I stuck with her, too afraid to look elsewhere.  I know this sounds ridiculous but isn't it true that all those deeply buried anxieties are ridiculous when dredged up to the light of day?  Getting to the root of the negative livestreaming in my head helped spur me to make a change.  It is highly unlikely I will ever go back to the land of $100 plus haircuts as I can think of many, many other things I would rather spend my money on.  Now when I pay for my student haircut, I feel truly happy that I got my money's worth for that service and that the student acquired valuable on-the-job experience.  To me, it is an even, value for value exchange.  Now, I am not saying that an expensive haircut is inherently bad.  There is something to be said for going into a swanky salon with delicious perfumed air and bowls of fresh flowers.  I had a cordial relationship with my old stylist so that wasn't an issue.  But I was going for the wrong reasons.  I was letting fear dictate my actions and leaving feeling dissatisfied.  So the takeaway from this story is that, by letting go of an old fear, something beneficial and positive came out of it.  Have you ever had your hair cut by a student?  Let me know in the comments!

This is not a sponsored post.  
I will be embarking on a 30 Day Wellness Challenge starting in June.  I am definitely going to need an internet running buddy, maybe even an entire team of running buddies to drag me over the finish line.  So this is a call for help.  Watch this space and stay tuned for that!

Sunday, 14 May 2017

LBH Weekly Roundup: Starbucks Frappuccino Happy Hour, The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors Moisturizer

Oh bliss, Sbx brought back the Frappuccino Happy Hour for a limited time.  Frappuccinos were half price which saw me dutifully trotting over to get my fix of my favourite frappuccino, the Strawberries and Cream with whipped cream on top, of course.

Surprisingly and delightfully, there is no coffee or tea, for that matter, in the Strawberries and Cream frap at all.  The best way that I can describe it is that it is like a creamy, upmarket strawberry milkshake.  Monsieur is very relieved that Happy Hour has come to an end.  There is nothing more likely to put a dent in one's enjoyment of a delicious treat than to have one's significant other bleating continuously in one's face about one's other significant other (repetitive alliteration here!) aka "The Hideous Muffin Top."  The only way to silence the bleating is to slurp vociferously through the stainless steel straw. Haha! Hands up if your SO also has the temerity to engage in the same annoying behaviour.  Never mind.  Me, my Strawberries and Cream Frappuccino and the Red Rocket passing by.  A perfect afternoon in Toronto, thank you very much.

I have had a few pesky dry patches appear on my face recently.  I think this is due to my enthusiastic application of Ole Henriksen's Invigorating Night Transformation Gel which has exfoliating properties.  I was in need of a straightforward moisturizer and picked up The Ordinary's Natural Moisturizing Factors with HA Moisturizer. 

When I say it is a straightforward moisturizer, I mean just that.  It is a simple moisturizer that does only one thing, which is hydrate.  There are no anti-aging benefits, smoothing out of skin tone, spf or similar.  But for the price, $5.80 CAD, it can't be beat.  There is no fragrance and it absorbs quickly and easily.  It is recommended that serums be layered with it for extra hydration and if you want to customize your skincare regimen for a more complex formulation.  The website has some advice on how to mix and match their one-note products for those customers who do not possess a PhD in chemistry, which let's face it, most of us don't.  I have been layering the moisturizer with Ole Henriksen's Truth Serum but have been eyeballing The Ordinary's Buffet Serum as a replacement once I run out of Truth Serum.  So far, I am pleased with The Ordinary's moisturizer.  It hasn't made me breakout and it doesn't have the eyewatering laboratory smell that Indeed Labs' Fillume has.   Have you tried The Ordinary's moisturizer?  And if yes, how is it working for you?

This is not a sponsored post.  Some links are affiliate links.
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Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Mother's Day Gift Guide 2017

As has become increasingly more common these days, I come from a blended family.  This means that I have a mother and a stepmother to contend with when Mother's Day rolls around.  Eek!  Pretending that I am Switzerland, neutral territory, doesn't work.  Believe me, I have tried.  Having not one but two maternal figures to placate means that oftentimes, I end up completely out of ideas.  If you tend to come up empty as well, here is a mini gift guide to help you out.
I thought I'd start with the "traditional" categories of Mother's Day gifts and try to extract some fairy magic out of them.  Fragrance is one of these categories.  You can't go wrong with Chanel No 5, a classic that has stood the test of time.

Source Image

I am willing to bet that anything that bears the famous double "C" logo will win over the heart of any grande dame in your life but let's not get ahead of ourselves.
The next traditional category is a bouquet of flowers.  But let's face it, while a bunch of flowers will always hit the mark, they fade and eventually get tossed out.  So why not up the ante by giving a green wall?

Source Image
I am obsessed with Urbio's genius green wall.  The pockets come in different sizes and adhere to the wall plate via magnets.  This means that they can be easily moved around to create personalized arrangements.
And the last traditional category is chocolates.  I have to give a shout out to Canadian chocolatier, Purdys Chocolates.

via www.purdys.com

They are best known for their Sweet Georgia Browns which treads that mouthwatering balance between the saltiness of the pecans and the sweet creaminess of chocolate and caramel but, in my book, their Hedgehogs with their luscious hazelnut gianduja filling comes a close second.  I hope this gift guide has given some ideas.  If you have any suggestions to add to the list, please comment away!
Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there!

This is not a sponsored post.  Some links are affiliate links.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

LBH Weekly Roundup: Soap Pump Dispenser, Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment Perfecting Wand, Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Cream Hydrating Moisturizer

Ever since my favourite lip balm by Ombrelle was discontinued, I have been on a quest for a replacement.  I decided to give Fresh's Sugar Lip Treatment Perfecting Wand a go mainly because of the applicator.

via sephora.ca
It has these tiny silicone nodules studding the applicator which gently buff the lips as one is applying the treatment.  Possibly I was overenthusiastic in applying it but I ended up putting on a thick layer that had the consistency and texture of contact cement.  I tried dabbing off the excess with my fingers which was a mistake as I could not, for the life of me, wash it off my hands.  It was so viscous that, much like trying to rub off superglue, the situation just got worse.  I will say that the sensation of rubbing those tiny nodules over my lips was oddly relaxing, akin to using a miniature Foreo.  And props for the pleasant sugary smell and the fact that my lips felt smooth and hydrated the next day.  However, I think the search continues as I am too afraid to use the stuff any more.
Another thing that I have been lacking lately is a liquid soap pump dispenser.  Over and over, my soap dispenser would clog up and, no matter what I did, clogged it remained.  This means that it gets binned which is a waste as it is only the pump that has stopped working.  Then I had the brainwave of fitting a generic pump to a vintage mason jar.  I am obsessed with vintage mason jars.

It is such a thrill to repurpose a vintage treasure and be able to use and enjoy it several times a day.  The mason jar holds a large amount of liquid soap so I am not constantly having to refill it.  And should the pump clog up one day, I can just fit another generic pump to the jar.  I had been using a Nalgene travel bottle to hold liquid soap for months as I puzzled over a solution.  Of course, I had to show off my brilliant life hack to Monsieur who hadn't noticed any change to the bathroom counter lineup and wasn't likely to any time soon.  Hands up if, like me, you are a hockey widow.  
Perhaps I should rename this post "Weekly Oddities" instead of the "Weekly Roundup" as the following moisturizer is to me an oddity much like the Fresh Lip Treatment.  I am not overly fond of heavily scented skincare and Peter Thomas Roth's Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Cream Hydrating Moisturizer is oil free, alcohol free and fragrance free.  

via sephora.ca

It has a light, milky consistency and this moisturizer would suit oily and/or sensitive skin types.  It is available as a serum as well.  I enjoyed using it but I just could not get past the over-the-top, hyperbolic description which reads in part "Drench your skin with a liquid cloud of pure endless hydration drawn right from the atmosphere.  This concentrated 30% Hyaluronic Acid cream transforms atmospheric vapor into fresh pure water from the clouds, providing your skin with a continuous burst of intense hydration that lasts up to 72 hours..."  What are the people at Peter Thomas Roth saying?!??  Any cream that can draw vapor from 35,000 feet up in the air straight to my thirsty epidermis is a magic show well worth watching.  All the time I was slathering this stuff on my face, I couldn't help the sneaking suspicion that such smoke and mirror descriptives could only mean that I could get a similar dupe at 1% of the cost somewhere else.  This is reverse psychology at its best.
And now it's back to being a hockey widow...

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Friday, 5 May 2017

Why I Don't Stockpile

I should change the title to "I used to stockpile then it made me crazy so I stopped."  There was a time when I became fascinated with extreme couponing and stockpiling and tried my hand at it.  I thought I was helping the family budget by creating a stockpile.  The problem was that coupons aren't that easy to come by in Canada and the majority of stores don't allow coupon stacking.  I tried and tried to download online coupons and, no matter what, each time my computer would freeze and crash.  A lot of my free time was spent scanning the weekly flyers.  My anxiety levels began to rise as I compared my miserable stockpile to photos of gargantuan stockpiles that resembled a Costco warehouse.  But as I looked at the enormous stockpiles of extreme couponers, I noticed that many of these couponers were a touch, shall we say, OCD about their hoards.  If they used a product from their stockpile and left a space on the shelf, this triggered a frenzy to fill that space with more.  It didn't matter that they had enough to last them the next 10 years.  The fact of the matter is that I live in a small home with limited storage space.  I was never going to achieve a stockpile large enough to fill a warehouse because my home doesn't have that storage capacity.  One time I bought a huge bag of rice and there it sat on the dining room floor for months because I had nowhere to put it.  It was such a relief when we finally finished it off.   It is weird to think of a staple food such as rice as clutter but that is precisely what it became, sitting in the dining room, annoying us every time we needed to vacuum, silently reminding me of the error in judgment I had made.  There are several grocery stores within a few blocks of my home and many convenience stores.  The likelihood of a shortage of any necessity is nil.  There is always a sale on a necessity somewhere and, if I run out, it is easy enough to get it.  So eventually, I stopped.  Now, if I happen to see a good sale on something that we use regularly such as toothpaste, I will buy a couple, one to replace the tube that is running out and one as backup, but no more than that.  I still peruse the flyers but only to see if there is a sale on something that I know is running low.  The only time I consider having a very small stockpile is if I know a very busy period is coming up and I think that it would alleviate stress to have extra on hand.  If you have a large family that goes through groceries like wildfire or if you live in a remote location, then I can see the value in having a stockpile.  But for me and my situation, it wasn't worth the anxiety and seemed to be the antithesis of slow living. Do you stockpile and why?  Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Tips For Successful Thrift Store Clothes Shopping: Hilary Radley Quilted Jacket

My love affair with the colour green has been pushed to the forefront lately.  It might have to do with the fact that, after a long dreary winter, I yearn for the sight of delicate grassy tips and unfurling leafy fronds.  If I can't see green in Nature then I look for it in clothes.  Imagine my delight in picking up this preloved Hilary Radley quilted jacket.  It is in my favourite colour of green and is perfect for Spring's changeable weather.  This is my first Hilary Radley jacket.  It is a well respected brand and readily available at department stores and online.  I have had a lot of hits and misses with thrift store shopping.  I admit that, initially, I fell into the trap of buying secondhand because it was so cheap and not necessarily because it was a great fit.  I ended up accumulating a lot of duds that cluttered up my closet.  So here are some tips that I would like to share with you garnered from my forays into thrifting.

1) Check for any type of damage such as holes or stains.  If there are stains, it is quite likely that it was donated because the original owner couldn't remove them.  So look at the stain and ask yourself whether you want to invest your time, effort and money into trying to remove it.  Look for holes, rips or tears and see whether or not they are easily repairable.  A loose button or dropped hem can be easily repaired.  A tear right in the middle of the garment, not so much.

2) Check the fabric, care instructions and construction.  I tend to avoid fabric that requires dry cleaning but you might not care about that.  Is the fabric good quality?  What about the construction?  Is it well sewn?  Garments that have a lot of darts, tailoring and embellishments drives up the labour costs and the eventual original retail price.

3)  Try it on.  Does it fit you?
4)  Is it a style that you like and that flatters you?  Admittedly, you will see a lot of "vintage" styles at the thrift store (this is a nice way of saying "outdated") mixed in with flash of the moment trendy styles.  Keep an eye out for classic styles that don't date.  That said, thrift shopping is a great way to partake in a trendy style without the retail guilt.

If the garment ticks all the boxes, you have found yourself a thrift score!  Now, race to the cash register and enjoy your find!

Do you have any tips you would like to share?

This is not a sponsored post.  

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