The Basics: Brushes

Makeup brushes can be pretty important when using various products. It may seem minor, but once I started buying them I was hooked.  Did you know you can buy a luxury powder brush for $70!? I used to find that really insane, but now it’s what my dreams are made of…
Where to start!?

I would suggest you need the following brushes to start:

-Flat shader brush –> This is to apply eyeshadow over your entire lid

-Crease brush –> I have probably 5 of these and always on the lookout for more. They are big and fluffy and meant to blend colour into your crease

-Foundation Brush –> I will write an entire post on this. But I like using a brush waay better than slapping it on my face…unless I’m in a rush of course. TIP: most makeup sponges absorb too much of the product!

-Blush & Bronzer brush –> Essential. I like spending a little extra money on these brushes because it feels like a treat when they are high quality.

Where can I buy brushes?!

Walmart/London Drugs –> These places carry my absolute favourite line of brushes. The line feels very high end, but don’t cost half your life and it’s called Real Techniques. They are created by makeup artist sisters who have a very helpful YouTube channel to give you amazing makeup tips. TIP! Check Winners for these brushes! I have bought a few from there for an amazing price.

Another line is Eco Tools. They have some great eye shadow brushes to make applying very easy and affordable.

Sephora –> The first nice brushes I ever got were a gift from my mom and I still use them. To get the best value, I recommend buying a set to start. Or if you have some already, Sephora also has a range of single brushes. A great thing is that they offer lower end and higher end varities. Remember…if the product turns out to be terrible, you can return it!

http://realtechniques.com/

Check out the link and get familiar with different brushes!

Happy shopping xo

 

 

Advertisements

Belly Laughs

belly laughWe’ve all had them at one time, and they are probably one of the best feelings in the world. The dictionary describes it as “deep hearty laugh”. Today I had a belly laugh so loud that my coworker even commented saying she has never heard me laugh so hard. After that, I realized I probably haven’t laughed like that in quite some time, and it felt good! Life can get pretty crazy or stressful with so many things pulling us in various directions that we rarely stop to really appreciate the little things like a belly laugh with a close friend. I often find myself running from one place to the next with my calendar often being double or even tripled booked – ridiculous I know. The result is always the same, one way ticket to burnout ville and me. For a lot of people though it’s more than just needing to recharge their batteries.

Today a comedian that we all knew and love died at the age of 63 of an apparent suicide. Articles online are reporting that Robin Williams had been suffering of depression. Over the past few years I have seen an increase in campaigns such Bell Let’s Talk which hopes to build mental health awareness, and alleviate some of the stigma. Depressionhurts.ca says “1 in 10 Canadians will experience an episode of major depressive disorder (the diagnosis given to those suffering from depression) during their lifetime”. This is one statistic I didn’t know until today, 1 in 10 is a staggering number and means many people close to us or even us could experience depression at some point in our lives. It’s unfortunate that it takes a tragedy or something bad to happen to get us talking about something that is so prevalent. I am neither a doctor, nor a psychologist but I am going to start focusing on my own mental health, do my research, watch for signs and be there in case any of my friends or family needs a set of ears. I am not naïve enough to suggest a simple belly laugh is the cure, but I do know that when I’m down and feeling beat up it helps me. This isn’t my typical post but I wrote this in effort to contribute to the conversation.

If you want to learn more about depression here are a couple links to get you starts:

Bell Let’s Talk

Depressionhurts.ca

Canadian Mental Health Association

Hugs

AmysSignature

 

Summer Salads

I am so lucky to be able to escape to my parent’s cabin on Shuswap lake in BC during the summer months. Although it takes about six hours of driving to get to, once I am there it feels like my own little peaceful oasis (although the water sports can get a bit intense…).

IMG_4099

My family and I all live in different cities, so it’s such a blessing to be able to all come together for a week or two at the cabin and spend some quality time together with the most gorgeous backdrop.

20140801_162108

I think one of my favorite parts about being at the lake is getting to cook up some fabulous summer meals with my mom. This last trip we grilled some killer pork tenderloin on the BBQ and even made some deep-fried chicken wings one night in my dad’s favorite toy – the turkey deepfryer.

One thing I am usually in charge of in the kitchen is the side dish or the salad, and some people may say this is the crappy job…but I disagree! I like to keep it interesting and surprise people with some creative and tasty dishes that have a summer vibe to them.

Check out these two awesome summer salads that are perfect for a dinner on the deck or as an item to bring to an outdoor BBQ potluck.

XOX

BrennaSignature

Greek Quinoa Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half or 1 cup chopped, seeded, tomato
  • 1 small cucumber, chopped

    I threw some black olives on the top because I LOVEE olives :)

    I threw some black olives on the top because I LOVE olives 🙂

  • feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh oregano
  • 10 cups mixed greens

Balsamic Dressing Ingredients: 

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh oregano
  • pinch sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • pinch of salt

In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken broth to a boil and add the quinoa. Give it a stir, put a lid on it, then turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 15 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed. Allow to cool until room temperature.

To make the dressing, just measure everything into a jam jar, put a lid on it, and give it a good shake. Set aside.   Meanwhile, chop your tomatoes, cucumber, and onion, then toss them in a bowl with a little bit of your dressing. Toss with the cooled quinoa and some feta cheese.   In a salad bowl, layer the greens, and then the quinoa mixture. Top with a little more feta and then sprinkle over some fresh oregano. Drizzle the rest of the dressing over the top.

Recipe from YMC

Chickpea Bean Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (500 mL) chopped green beans
  • 1 can (19 oz/540 ml) chickpeas
  • 1 can (19 oz/540 ml) black beans
  • 1 sweet red pepper, diced
  • 1 cup (250 mL) corn kernels
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) chopped fresh coriander

Chili Lime Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) grated lime rind
  • 3 tbsp (45 mL) lime juice
  • 1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) chili powder
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt

In saucepan of boiling salted water, cook green beans until tender-crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain and chill in cold water; drain and set aside.

Drain and rinse chickpeas and black beans; drain well and place in large bowl. Add red pepper, corn and onions; set aside.

Chili Lime Dressing: Whisk together oil, lime rind and juice, chili powder, sugar and salt ; pour over beans and toss to coat. (Make-ahead: Cover and refrigerate salad and beans separately for up to 24 hours.)

Add green beans and coriander; toss.

Recipe from Canadian Living.

 

A taste of Spain: Ox & Angela

One of the best experiences in my life was spending six weeks in different areas of Spain. The people I encountered and culture I witnessed were beyond what I ever expected.  I was especially impressed by how they use lunch and dinner as a way to create community.  Rarely did I go out for dinner with a large group and be done in less than 3-4 hours. People don’t rush to order their meal, rather multiple people order small plates throughout the night to keep the options lighter and the conversation flowing. It was a refreshing experience.

I am always on the hunt for a great tapas restaurant. I’ve been obsessed with that style of meal ever since my European travels. My good friend was the one to introduce me to Ox and Angela here in Calgary.  I thought it was too good to be true that my new city had not only a tapas menu, but a dedicated Spanish menu! I was in heaven.

I have waited to go there again and had the luxury of taking my sister who came to visit me. It was the perfect atmosphere to catch up and enjoy every bite of food.

We heavily relied on our lovely server to lead us through some of the best dishes on the menu.  We also used him for an amazing wine recommendation.

Pan con tomate with fried goat cheese

Pan con tomate with fried goat cheese

We knew we needed fried goat cheese in our lives (fried cheese is a no brainer) and as much as we were confident we could eat it by itself, we were told to get an order of the pan con tomate to accompany it.
This combo is perfect for sharing with up to four people. Luckily it was only my sister and I so we could each have two toasts. The goat cheese flavour was not too overpowering, so if you aren’t normally a fan I would encourage you to step out and give this a try. I’m still dreaming about it.

We then moved onto the pan-friend mushrooms on toasted bread, poached egg, and truffle. It was a flavour experience to say the least. You cannot miss out on this. We tried our best to eat it slowly, but no luck!

 

Next up, the spicy merguez lamb sausage sauteed with apricot, sherry and mustard. We did not grab a shot of this one since the picture could not do it justice. It had a good kick to it, but it was best paired with a little bit of the apriocot with each bite.

 

Of course we made room for dessert.  This was a dark chocolate salted almond torte. It was rich, but the dark chocolate was the perfect balance of sweetness that we needed to end this delicious meal.

 

El Porron - The Spanish Wine Pitcher

El Porron – The Spanish Wine Pitcher

 

I can’t leave out the wine. From his recommendation, we ordered the Borie de Maurel Esprit d’Automne. I could have butchered that name, but I’m hoping you’ll be able to find a way to order this smooth red wine.

The coolest part is how they serve it in the Spanish version of a decanter! Our server explained it is used a lot at festivals or gatherings where caring is sharing!

 

Do yourself a favour and check out Ox & Angela.  Perfect for a first date, small gathering, or a unique food experience.

http://www.oxandangela.com/

Love xox

 

 

 

 

On top of the world – Hiking in Alberta

It is no secret that I enjoy escaping the city to go hiking, which makes sense since I’m blessed to live near the Rocky Mountains. Hiking is probably one of my favorite summer activities, nothing beats spending a day in the fresh air, hiking to a spectacular view only to enjoy lunch and cold beer. I remember how intimidated I was my first hike; I didn’t know where to start or really what all I needed to carry with me. Like anything hiking is one of those things that gets easier with time and experience. The more you do and the more people you talk to the more tips and tricks you’ll pick up along the way. Living in Calgary we have a lot of trail options that it’s sometimes hard to decide which one to do. I tend to go off recommendations from other hiking enthusiasts, or check Trail Peak. I decided to put together a small list of hikes I’ve done to get you started.

20140804-152843-55723085.jpg

Grassi Lakes

Grassi Lakes – This hike is beautiful! It is family friendly and good for all fitness levels. We wandered off the path a little bit so we could get closer to the waterfall which was worth it. On a nice day, you will probably see some rock climbers.
Directions: From downtown Canmore. Take the route to the Nordic Center and follow the signs to the Grassi Lake parking lot where you will meet up directly with the trail head

Heart Mountain – I tried this one for the first time this past weekend. There are a couple variations to this hike. Heart Creek Trail; which a super easy family friendly hike good for all fitness levels. As you enter the 20140804-152927-55767517.jpgtrail head you’ll walk until you come to a sign then make a right towards Heart Creek Trail. The trail ends at a small waterfall where you can sit and relax. This trail is busy. We made it to the waterfall in no time and realized we went the wrong way and back tracked to the sign where the trail splits and went left to Heart Mountain. This one was not for the faint of heart. Lots of loose rock and with a fairly difficult scramble. Overall it was a great workout with a good view, so I’d do it again especially since it’s so close to Calgary.

Directions: take the Exit 105 for Lac des Arc. From Calgary, take exit 105 then turn left, go over highway, turn on gravel road that leads to parking lot. From Canmore take exit 105 & turn right onto gravel road into parking lot. Now you even have washrooms. It’s recommended NOT to park on the side of the highway as many people have been ticketed.


Ha Ling Peak
– This was my very first hike! It has an amazing view, and is definitely worth the effort. It’s pretty steep, and feels like a continuous incline with very little flat spots. The last bit to the summit is a scramble, and is a little scary when you come down as there is a lot of loose shale. Once you make the summit, there are quite a few nooks with outstanding views of Canmore which makes the grind completely worth it.

Directions: Drive to Canmore Alberta. Drive up highway #742, the Smith-Dorrien-Spray Lakes Trail towards the Canmore Nordic Centre. Continue past the turn-off for the Nordic Centre, keeping to the left. Continue on the gravel and park in the Goat Creek Parking Lot

 

Crypt 1

Entering the cave at Crypt

Crypt – My favorite hike to date, it blew my mind and lived up to expectations. We headed to Waterton for a camping weekend with the sole purpose of doing this hike. This hike has everything you could ask for in a hike – several waterfalls, a beautiful lake, cave and scaling a cliff. I am not going to lie I found the cave and scaling the cliff to be a little scary. Doesn’t help that I am terrified of heights, but there was no way I was going to let my fear keep me from reaching Crypt Lake. You access the trail head by taking a ferry, round trip tickets are $20. There are two ferries that run daily. This is a full day hike so be prepared, the day we went was quite warm and we ran out of water on our way down, which is never good. Definitely pack a bathing suit, we didn’t know that you could swim and were surprised to see everyone else seem to have gotten that memo and were jumping in to cool off.

Directions: From Calgary take highway south 2 to Fort MacLeod (183 km/115 mi.). From Fort MacLeod, go West on Highway 3 (50 km/31 mi.). Head south through Pincher Creek on Highway 6 (56 km/35 mi.).

A couple things you should check prior to heading out:

  • Weather conditions; you’ll want to make sure you pack plenty of water for warm weather especially if the trail is exposed to a lot of sunlight. Layering your clothes is never a bad idea, the weather can change quickly and you want to be prepared.
  • Trail report; it is a good idea to check the trail report for a couple reasons. Post 2012 flood some of the trails are still damaged or being worked on. You’ll also find wildlife warnings and potential trail closures due active wildlife activity in the area (bears & cougars). It’s not a bad idea to pack bear spray.
  • What you take up, take down with you. Do not leave your trash!

Have fun & be safe out there
Crypt 2

AmysSignature

 

 

Unique Wedding Gift Ideas

If you are a late twenty-something chances are you are spending your summer at wedding after wedding. Watching your friends say “I do” is a blast but can sometimes be repetitive, especially in the gift giving department (envelope full of money anyone?). While you don’t want to be THAT person who goes rogue and completely misses the mark in terms of the gift, there is something to be said about going the extra mile to give a thoughtful present. Here are some fun, out-of-the-box ideas for wedding presents this summer:

Airline Gift Certificate: Who doesn’t love the gift of travel? Help your friends out on their next trip (honeymoon or otherwise) by giving them a gift certificate for a vacation. Your friends will appreciate having that money around the next time they want to plan a getaway!

Night out on their honeymoon: If you know the couple has booked their honeymoon, why not plan the ultimate night out for them? Keep it as a surprise until the night of and treat them to a night on the town completely paid for and worry free!

Chip in for a wedding extravagance: If you know the bride and groom REALLY want that ultra pricey photographer or that awesome DJ, why not get a group together to help pay for it? They will get exactly what they want without feeling like they are going over their wedding budget.

“Homemade” Gifts: If you feel like money is the way to go, give a little something small that is extra special and personal. Etsy has tons of creative ideas and items you can purchase for very little!

If all else fails, you know that you can get them that Vitamix on their registry! That works too 🙂

Enjoy wedding season! I know I will!

1277

Lots of love,

ErinSignature

Koi: Funky & Delicious

At one point in my life I equated healthy food with less than delicious food, and use to be so perplexed on how someone could possibly be full without a mound of potatoes or ample servings of bread with their dinner. Obviously I couldn’t have been further from the truth. This journey from eating whatever I feel like, whenever I feel like, to being a bit more conscious about what I eat has been a long and challenging one. By no means am I a clean eater and will probably never be and for me I think that is ok. Growing up I played a lot of competitive sports so between that and being blessed with a fairly good metabolism I could crush burgers, garlic fingers and ice cream without much thought. Now, the more I get into multi sports and endurance racing I’ve been trying to change my set and look at what I eat as fuel. Which can make eating out tricky especially when you love going for dinner with friends as much as I do. Luckily I’ve found a couple places in Calgary that offer nutritious guilt free menu’s.  

I first stumbled on Koi about two years ago, and have been going back regularly ever since. Koi is a funky gem along 1st SW. Supporting the Calgary Arts scene in a big way. They offer local artist their wall space to exhibit their work. Looking to shake up date night? This spot is perfect, as they offer a variety of off the beaten path entertainment, check their schedule for more details.

 

Buddha Burger with Yam Wedges

Buddha Burger with Yam Wedges

While all the above is sweet it’s the food that keeps me going back. The menu is filled with Asian-fusion dishes that blend the culinary flavors of China, Korea, and Japan. Many items offer the option of Vegetarian, Vegan or Gluten Free. My latest kick is the Buddha Burger. If you would have asked me two-five years ago that I’d be drooling for at veggie burger I would have probably laughed in your face, but this handmade black bean patty with caramelized onions, beets, spinach and peashoots is out of this world. I dip it in the sauce that comes with the yam wedges which sends this dish right into flavor town. If your mouth is watering I suggest checking it out during happy hour where you save on bowls or during ‘Vegelicious Monday’ where you save $2 on vegetarian / vegan entrées.

Happy Eating!

AmysSignature

The Basics: Eyeliner

First off, I do not claim to be an expert. I do claim to be somewhat obsessive with learning about makeup. One of my favourite things is to play around with different eye shadow and create various shadow/liner combos.

Make up is funny because from a young age we women are told we need to start using 3 things: mascara, blush/bronzer, and eyeliner. I remember my feeble attempts in highschool trying to put on eyeliner. Like, I’m supposed to just put black around my eyes and call it a day?? Cool. Lemme just do that and hope for the best.

As the years have gone on, I’ve tried many different techniques, formulas and strategies to get that black rimmed look, but not look like I drew two circles around the outside of my eyeballs. Why you ask? When done right, it can completely finish a look, create fuller looking lashes and be the only thing you need paired with mascara.

Okay, enough talk. Let’s look at our options…

1) Gel pencil   2) Liquid Liner    3) Gel Liner   4) Shadow

pencilliquidgellinereyeshadow

What did I use?

Pencil: Covergirl Liquiline Blast in Black (under$10)

Liquid: NYC Liquid Eyeliner in Black (under $5!)

Gel Liner: L’Oreal Infallible in Blackest Black (over $10)

Eye Shawdow: Urban Decay Naked 2 Pallet using “Blackout” shade ($60+)

Tip time–> I don’t have overly big eyes. When applying eyeliner, I try my best to have a very thin line in the inner corner and work my way out having the thickest towards the end. This helps to keep the eye more open. *Disclaimer* may have done crappy job at showcasing that.

What/why?!

–> Pencil is the easiest to smudge into your lash line in a hurry. I would not use a pencil to outline an intense eyeshadow look since it might not be dramatic enough. I like to draw the line, smudge it out with a brush, add mascara, and run out that door!

–>Liquid Liner takes practice, but can provide multiple different looks.  I love the precise line you can achieve and dramatic effect. This is a perfect pairing to complete a dark smokey eye.  Don’t be afraid to give this is a try and use this to create a nice flick to elongate your eye.

–> Gel Liner is my personal FAVE. I like the brush that the L’Oreal brand provides. This glides on easily over eyeshadow and leaves an intense black outline. I find it is a little more forgiving than liquid since the formula is thicker and you can build it up.

–>Eye Shadow is great for a softer look. Paired with some mascara or as an accent to a more natural look makes this a great transition from a day event to a night event.

Since I was having so much fun painting my eyes, I decided to try a more dramatic “cat eye” look!

cateye  TIP! Keep your eye open, look straight into the mirror, and start your line from the corner of your bottom lashes. Then start your next line at the top of your lashes, connect it up to the line and fill it in. Something fun to try!

Questions? I still have some, but feel free to ask with me!

Love! xo

Strength Series: Easy Booty Exercises

Happy Monday!!

For this strength series post, I’ve decided to focus on one of the most important and most commonly forgotten about body parts in our workouts. Not only do we all want to have those nice round, perky derierres, but the glutes are extremely important to keep strong to aid in back support and help with proper technique while performing other excercises as well.

For those of us that sit on our glutes all day at a desk, it is especially important for us to take the time to give this muscle group the extra attention it deserves! and it doesn’t have to be difficult or take a long period of time to achieve results.

1_hd

These simple and effective excercises can be done almost anywhere and are perfect for a lower intensity workout or as an addition to a cardio day. Feel free to add in handweights while executing the squats or the glute bridge for more of a challenge.

  • Donkey Kick – 15 reps each side (on all fours, lift one bent leg up and push your heel towards the sky, then bring back to 90 degrees for one rep)
  • Fire Hydrant – 15 reps each side (on all fours, lift one bent leg to 90 degrees and turn knee out to the side – think dog peeing on a fire hydrant)
  • Glute Bridge – 3 sets of 10 (lying on your back with knees bent and heels on the floor, lift you glutes off the ground as high as you can while having your shoulders on the ground. lower to just above the ground, and repeat for one rep)
  • Chair Kick – 10 reps each side (Hold onto the back of a chair and lift one leg out straight behind you as high as possible then lower without placing back on the ground, and repeat)
  • Squat Pulse – 3 sets of 10-15 (with legs just slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, get into a low 90 degree squat and pulse it out for 10-15 reps)
  • Squat Kick – 3 sets of 10 each side (bend into a 90 degree squat, then as you return to standing, kick one leg out to the side, and repeat)

Again for better decriptions of the different exercises,  look them up on bodybuilding.com, and also check out some of their other killer workouts!

Xox
Brenna

Healthy…Dessert?!

I know, I know. Healthy and dessert are two words that NEVER go hand in hand. When it comes to eating, I am a firm believer of balance. You can have your cake and eat your quinoa too. In fact, cake, cookies, chocolate…basically anything sweet…are my weaknesses.

So, I wanted to share with everyone a blog I am currently OBSESSED with: Chocolate Covered Katie.

This amazing girl dreams up the MOST delicious and…wait for it…HEALTHY recipes in the game. Trust me, you will still get your sweet fix with these healthy options.

I highly recommend you check her out. And while you’re at it, try the Cookie Dough Brownies. You won’t regret it.

Cookie-Dough-Bars

Happy Friday, my loves!

XO Erin