Holiday Beauty Ideas

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Most of us are too busy worrying about what parties we’re attending, gifts for our family and friends, the perfect decorations and food around the holidays, and we tend to neglect ourselves.  I’ve rounded up some of my favourite party-season hair and beauty ideas to help you feel and look your best!  One less thing to worry about, yay!  Xo

  1. Smokey eyes:  A dramatic, bronze/black smokey eye is sure to catch everyone’s attention!  I like winging out the eyeshadow at the outer corners of my eyes and lining my waterline with a black kohl pencil for a more edgy look.

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2.  Rolled-up updo:  If you’re wearing a strapless dress, consider rolling up your hair for an elegant evening look.  I really like the retro and futuristic feel of this style!

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3.  Highlighter:  One of my favourite beauty tips is to highlight the inner corners of my eyes.  It really brightens up tired eyes!  The key is to use a metallic shade that’s close to your complexion.  Since my complexion is fair/olive, I use a champagne/gold colour (or just mix the two together).

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4.  Lashes, lashes, lashes!:  They can be a pain to put on, but I can’t resist the look of these spidery, full lashes.  For special occasions, I first curl my lashes, apply two coats of mascara from roots to tips and then glue some falsies at the outer corners of my eyes.  I use both individuals and half lashes.

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5.  Blackberry stained lips:  Not a look for the faint of heart, but it is divine!  Apply an intense mulled-wine colour on your lips to make a bold statement and stand out from the crowd.  I prefer matte lipsticks because as they fade, it softens to a beautiful stain.

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The Evolution of Smooth

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If there’s one thing us ladies have in common, it seems to be this:  We’re always on the hunt for the perfect lip balm.  One that is rich in emollients (they boast Vitamin E, shea butter and jojoba oil) and that keeps our lips smooth and protected, especially during the winter months.  My current favourite lip balms are EOS (Evolution of Smooth).  Not only to they moisturize my lips, but they’re virtually impossible to lose because of their round, egg-like shape.  They’re also addictive and I just might have one in every colour…oops!

They come in yummy flavours, too!  For the holiday season, EOS released a limited edition 3-pack containing Sweet Mint (blue one), Pomegranate Raspberry (red one) and Vanilla Bean (white one).  The Sweet Mint and Strawberry Sorbet are my favourites!  For days when I need the extra protection, I like putting Vaseline on top of the EOS balms.  I find it helps lock in moisture and ensures I don’t have to reapply the lip balm as often.  Also great as a base for lipstick.

The new 3-pack makes a great gift for Secret Santa, as a stocking stuffer or a little add-on to an existing gift- and they’re affordable!!!  Beauty on a budget?  Count me in!

Here a few of the other colours/flavours they offer:

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Sweet Mint, Lemon Drop, Summer Fruit, Pomegranate Raspberry, Strawberry Sorbet, HoneySuckle HoneyDew, Passion Fruit & Blueberry Potion

I use these balms whenever I can- in the morning, after I shower, before applying my makeup, before bed etc.  I especially like applying them before bed because I wake up with super smooth lips!

Additional info:

  • 100% natural flavour
  • Smoothes on clear
  • Petrolatum & paraben free
  • Gluten free
  • Phthalate free
  • Not tested on animals

Mincemeat Delight

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For those who are unfamiliar, this English dessert is a mixture of chopped dried fruit and distilled spirits and spices.  It dates back to the 16th century, where it was originally made with meat.  For my family, Christmas isn’t complete without the traditional mini mincemeat tarts/pies for dessert.  Here is a great, simple recipe for you to try this holiday season:

You will need:

  • 350g all purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 225g butter
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • Cold water as needed
  • 1 jar of mincemeat (if you wish to make from scratch, follow this recipe: http://britishfood.about.com/od/christmas/r/mincemeat.htm )
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 12-cup muffin tin

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How to:

  • Preheat oven to 400 F
  • Place flour, butter and salt into a large, clean bowl
  • Rub the butter into the flour with fingers until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs, working as quickly as you can to prevent the dough from getting warm
  • Add the egg to mixture and stir using a cold knife
  • Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for min. 15 minutes, up to 30 minutes
  • On work surface, dust a little flour and roll out 2/3 of pastry to 1/8″/3mm thick
  • Cut circles to line the cups of your tin,  Fill pastry lined tins 2/3 full with mincemeat
  • Roll out remaining pasty to the same thickness and cut smaller circles to fit as lids on the tarts
  • Dampen edges of the tart bases with cold water and press the lids on.  Make a small hole in the surface of each pie with a small sharp knife to allow the steam to escape
  • Bake in oven for 20 mins or until golden brown
  • Remove from oven.  Cool.  ENJOY!

A Little More Sweetness

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With my gruelling school work, it’s been a while since I’ve really gotten a chance to cook anything for myself, let alone photograph and prepare a post.  Recently, my mum shared a great recipe for making macarons (yes, those delicious French treats Marie Antoinette indulged in).  While there are endless flavours and colours that can be created, the raspberry colour jumped at me.  Caught your attention?  Keep reading if you want to learn how to make these delectable treats!

You will need: (filling)

  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp powdered pectin
  • 3 cups raspberries
  • 1/2 lemon

You will need: (macaron shells)

  • 300g ground almonds
  • 300g powdered sugar
  • 110 aged egg whites
  • 4.5g pink, fuchsia or rose food colouring
  • 300g granulated sugar
  • 75g mineral water
  • 110g aged egg whites

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How to:

  • Start by making the jam. In a medium sauce pan, macerate raspberries with a potato masher. Alternatively, process in a food processor or blend in a blender and then heat up over medium heat. In a separate bowl, whisk together sugar and pectin and then add it to the raspberries. Squeeze in lemon juice for some tang and then allow to boil for two minutes. Strain the seeds out if desire, and then allow to cool in a bowl with plastic wrap pressed against the surface of the bowl until cooled
  • Process powdered sugar and ground almonds in a stand mixer and sift into a large bowl.  Combine the other 110g of aged egg whites with the food colouring and add to the sifted almond flour and powered sugar
  • In a sauce pan, combine water and sugar and bring it to a boil. In a stand mixer, start beating your egg whites on low speed. When your syrup reaches 115 C, turn the mixer to medium (6 on a kitchen aid) and whisk. When your syrup reaches 118 C, remove from heat immediately, increase the speed to medium high (or 8) and pour the syrup down the side of your mixing bowl bowl. Keep whisking until your mixing bowl is warm to the touch
  • Pour merengue over the mixture from 2nd step.  Gently fold.
  • Pipe circles of macaron batter on parchment paper 3/4 of an inch apart.  Rap baking sheets against counter, rotate by 90 degrees and wrap again.
  • Preheat oven to 325 F and let macarons rest on the counter for at least 30 minutes.  Bake for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, remove from oven.
  • Cool on wire rack and fill when cooled completely.
  • ENJOY :)

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Holiday Sweetness Pt.1 <3

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‘Tis the season to indulge…and indulge some more!  My next few posts will be dedicated to my favourite, easy to follow holiday recipes that won’t break the bank!

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Cream Cheese + brownie?  PERFECT COMBO!!!!  I first discovered this recipe in the Good Housekeeping Desserts book.  Super easy to make, especially if you use a store-bought brownie mix.  I love the marbled pattern, too!

You will need:

  • Packaged chocolate fudge brownie mix and required ingredients
  • 1 pckg cream cheese (8 oz)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

How to:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 325 F and grease a 9×13 baking pan thoroughly
  • Prepare brownie batter as per package instructions
  • Combine the cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla extract; blend on medium speed with electric mixer
  • Pour 2/3rd of the brownie batter into the baking pan and smooth all over the bottom of the pan. Dot with large spoonfuls of the cream cheese mixture on top. Spoon the remaining brownie batter in between. Run a fork or knife through them in a swirl pattern to create a marbled effect (as displayed in the photo below)
  • Bake for 28-30 minutes
  • Cool completely and enjoy!

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Note:  Unlike your conventional brownies, this dessert will not keep at room temperature because of the cream cheese

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Such pretty swirls, right?  If you are a serious cheesecake lover, there is an alternative recipe made by adding a generous layer of cheesecake batter on top of the brownie batter.  If following the alternative recipe, remember to double the cream cheese mix.  Easy to make and great for the holidays!

Holiday Gift Guide #tistheseason

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Time for my annual gift guide- all at varying price points.  I think all of the items would make great gifts, but for those who have a stricter budget or who simply want to give more personalized presents, I’ve rounded up some of my all-time favourite goodies! Hopefully you’ll find some inspiration for friends, family and yourself!

Clockwise from top left:

  1. Stephen&Co Curved bar necklace. $10
  2. Bobbi Brown Makeup Manual. $14
  3. Philosophy Shower Gel/Bubble Bath in “French vanilla bean”. $10
  4. Kate Spade gold leather wallet. $178
  5. Essie nail polish in “Golds”. $8.50
  6. Real Techniques Expert Face Brush. $9
  7. Tart gift set. $15
  8. Clarisonic Mia1. $139
  9. iPad Mini. $419
  10. Smashbox Masterclass palette 2. $59
  11. Sigma Essential Kit. $120
  12. The Body Shop Hands & Nails set in “rose” scent. $12

My top picks:

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Bobbi Brown Makeup Manual.  One of the best makeup books/manuals for any makeup lover, in my opinion.  Most women agree it’s important to gain some knowledge regarding how to properly use different products and tools, and especially the importance of proper skincare.  I believe this book does a great job of covering these topics and offers plenty of pro tips for beginners and anyone wanting to explore the makeup realm.

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Clarisonic Mia1.  A great tool in aiding in a proper skincare regime!  This is definitely an investment piece.  Appropriate for men and women ages 17-45.

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Kate Spade Wallet.  I think everyone should invest in a well-made and durable wallet.  A good quality wallet can last several years and is what most people consider a daily essential.  In my opinion, worth investing in.

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iPad Mini.  The highest priced of all the gifts idea I’ve gathered, but I truly believe in the practicality of them.  Perfect for students, businessmen and women or your tech savvy friend/boyfriend/girlfriend/husband or wife!  Great for listening to music, sending e-mails, taking notes, browsing and of course endless entertainment via the Apps!

Happy shopping, everyone!  :)

Healthy Living: Yoga/Pilates & healthy, delicious smoothies

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With the pressure of studying for my finals, the craziness of the upcoming holidays and the year-end busyness, I’ve been exploring ways to de-stress and focus on confidence building.

During my research, I discovered a Yoga & Pilates studio whose mission is “to provide a healing and safe space, which supports the evolution of mind, body and spirit through the practice of yoga & pilates.” Yoga and Pilates is designed for anyone searching for a peaceful retreat within the body and aims to assist you in tapping into your quiet, inner space through movement and mediation- aka super relaxing!

I decided to try a few different classes at the studio.  Thankfully, the sessions gave me the retreat I needed and helped me to channel that quiet space and inner harmony. Upon my return home, I was inspired to do more research on yoga positions that aim to release anxiety and boost confidence. Needless to say, my search for stress relief and confidence building yoga/pilates practices has been as very successful.

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Yoga position: “Downward facing dog”

Staying hydrated before, during and after any exercise is imperative for the body to maintain its temperature, remove waste and lubricate joints.  Water is especially essential for optimal health.  Under the “healthy living/lifestyle” umbrella, comes proper nutrition.  Eating clean, drinking enough water and getting the adequate amount of sleep at night (7-8 hours) are key in overall wellness and health.  Here are a few of my go-to healthy smoothie recipes, which are fun and easy to make:

Note:  When I don’t feel like using water, I add either almond milk, cold green tea or coconut water to my shakes- yum!

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Blueberry chocolate smoothie

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Detoxifying green smoothie

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Tamara Mellon: In My Shoes

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Tamara Mellon’s new book, In My Shoes, couldn’t be more appropriate and fitting for the memoir.  In My Shoe’s gives a candid account of Mellon’s troublesome teenage years to her hard-working days of co-founding the highly recognized brand, Jimmy Choo.

Although Mellon reigns as queen in the fashion industry, her path to royalty has certainly not been easy.  Sadly, Mellon’s childhood was tortured with abuse from her alcoholic mother.  The memoir reveals Mellon’s struggle with drugs as a teenager, which later led to her spending her high school years at a popular rehab facilitation centre. Though her childhood was far from blissful, Mellon doesn’t dwell on her tragic past. Rather, she explains how her less than idyllic youth helped her become a strong, ambitious businesswoman.  Even after Mellon paved her way in the fashion world, becoming the Chief Creative Officer and co-founder of Jimmy Choo, her life still was quite rocky.

In My Shoes gives a realistic portrayal of what it takes to thrive and succeed at the helm of the fashion world.  The memoir also provides an intimate glimpse at Mellon and Choo’s tumultuous relationship.  Her intent is to lightly expose the gilded image of the fashion industry. In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, she stated she penned this book because she “thought no one could really believe what was going on behind the scenes while I was building that brand.”

In My Shoes demonstrates the trials Mellon faced before she finally sold her shares in 2011 for a reported US $135 million. After reading about Mellon’s hardships and struggles, you will more than likely think again about trading shoes with the woman who owns approximately 3,000 pairs.

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