Post-Summer Thoughts

September 1st happened today. It is bittersweet. I love summer. I enjoy the heat, the adventures, long weekends, bbq’s with friends, and tanned boys. Summer makes me feel like I’m somewhat care-free and have no schedule to adhere to. While I sometimes enjoy that, I tend to crave routine.

I have so many goals or things that I want to accomplish this fall/winter. Probably because September seems more like the beginning of a new year than January does. And who sticks to their NYE resolutions anyway?

I would love to take a few classes to learn how to cook better, or maybe learn how to sew and knit fun things. I want to join a sports league, go to the gym everyday and make healthy meals. I would love to be more invovled in my church, read meaningful books, and volunteer.

Are you tired thinking about all those things? I am.

I have so many ideas floating around in my head! Did I mention I also want to discover YouTube fame and wear purple lipstick everyday?

Amy is moving in with me this month and we have been so excited discussing all the new things we want to get after. I hope we can laugh along the way when things don’t really go the way we’ve envisioned in our heads. Life is too unpredictable to take every little detail so seriously.

I want encourage you to find something that makes you smile and get after it this season. It could turn out to be the worst idea or you’ll find something that inspires you for a long time.

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Just some of my thoughts this Labour Day.

xo

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

For the love of: Podcasts

I rack up about 2500km’s a month driving, which is a lot of time spent in my ‘mango tango’ vehicle.  I know most of you don’t have the same type of mileage, but summer usually brings a few roadtrips.  Whether you are with friends or had to do the drive alone, a podcast is an amazing way to pass the time.  I will admit it isn’t for everyone. However, I thought I’d share my top podcasts I listen to every week and you can give them a try the next time you want to kill some time!

1) This American Life – 60 mins

TAL This is one of the most popular podcasts on iTunes and for good reason. Every week the host Ira Glass presents a different theme of the week and brings stories on that theme (quoting from his tagline). That’s why I love it! I have been brought to tears, laughed, and said “this is a dumb episode”, but it’s always a podcast I like sharing with friends on long trips!

2) Freakonomics Radio – 30-45 mins

freakonomics If you have heard of Freakonomics the book or read any in their series, you know you will love this!  I find it so fascinating to learn about the “hidden side of everything” and have my perspective on things challenged. This is the type of podcast I can listen to over and over again and get something new out of every time.

3) Planet Money – 15-20 mins

 Want to feel smart? Want to pretend you have an opinion on random world issues? This one’s for you! I hesitated to post this one because I feel like I’m letting people in on my secret. For example, when the euro was tanking and causing huge issues in Europe, I became obsessed with episodes talking about countries like Greece and how crazy things were getting. I swear they present these issues in a very interesting and humorous way. Just check it out, like the episode titled “Why LeBron James is Underpaid”.

Enjoy!

xo

 

The Red Lip

The red lip is perfect any time of the year. In summer, bold lips are the easiest way to take your daytime look into night. The problem is that they can be messy!! You don’t want to be checking your lipstick every five minutes, which is why I normally stay far away from it when going on a date, or out for a work event. Usually at those types of events no one is going to tell you you have red teeth or that your red lips match your now red chin.  I’ve also found lipstick on the top of my forehead? Who knows..

I have tried many different techniques in order to avoid such scenarios best I can and thought I’d share what I’ve learned.

For these lips, I am really into a matte finish and love this red hue on my olive skin type, I’m using Kate Moss Rimmel Matte lipstick in ‘111’ and the waterproof Sephora retractable lip liner in ‘Red’.

Find it here: http://www.walmart.com/ip/Rimmel-Lasting-Finish-by-Kate-Matte-Collection-Lipstick-111/23848212 and http://www.sephora.com/retractable-waterproof-lip-liner-P257801?skuId=1324920

Step 1: Lipliner is insanely important for bold lips! This particular one is waterproof and prevents the bleeding of the colour outside of your lips. I don’t have an obvious cupids bow, so I always draw an “x” to help a girl out.
Step 2: Outline your entire lip with the liner. It may look a bit funny, but try little strokes so you don’t completely draw it everywhere. Another thing you can do is take your liner outside your lip line a little bit to create a poutier pout (technical term…).
Step 3: Important step! Fill in most of your lips with the lip liner since this is a great base for your lipstick. Then put on your first coat of lipstick.
**TRICK TIME: take a tissue and blot your lips now. This will increase the wear of your red lips a lot longer!!

Step 4: Add your top coat and voila!

The other red I love:
MAC ‘Red’ Satin Finish
http://www.maccosmetics.com/product/shaded/168/310/Products/Lips/Lipstick/Lipstick/index.tmpl

Hope you enjoyed and since I’m now a Sephora “VIB” member I may start posting more reviews on products or tips on what products are worth putting into your collection.
LOVE
xox

Wanderlust

Wanderlust: A strong desire for or impulse to wander or travel and explore the world; to discover one’s very existence.

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Those that know me know travel is one of the most important things in my life. Whether it is a weekend getaway or a backpacking adventure half way around the world – I live to plan trips! Beyond visiting other places, one of my life long dreams is to live abroad. AND.NOW.IT.IS.HAPPENING.

Yes, it’s true! I have recently been offered a job in la belle Paris and I moving there in September. Of course, I am delighted to live in the land of croissants, berets and macaroons, but as I get closer to the departure date…certain realities are starting to set in.

Will I make friends? Is this a mistake? Do I even like French people? Is this the right decision for me and my fiancé? WHAT IF I GET FAT FROM EATING TOO MUCH CHEESE? Anxiety attacks are happening left, right and centre.

Everyone tells me this is normal. However, the optimist in me wants to soak up every little bit of this adventure. So while I go through this experience, I have made a few promises to myself:

Remember that intuition is key: All of the best decisions in my life have not necessarily been rational. Follow your gut and everything will fall into place. Trust the process.
Remain grateful: Every experience I have, good or bad, makes me a stronger person. Love and cherish your support system – always, always, always.
YOLO: Yes, I know this term is cheesy and overused but I think the message is great. You owe it to yourself to respond to any call that excites your spirit. You. Only. Live. Once.

And, to conclude, I will share some of the best advice I received from my fellow shebetties: If it is both terrifying and amazing, then you should definitely pursue it. Indeed.

I will keep you posted on this adventure of mine. Stay inspired, my friends!

xo Erin

The Public Washroom Fear

Having to go to the bathroom is generally annoying, time consuming and not easily ignored. This is especially the worst when your body decides it’s go-time and you find yourself outside of your home, office or ‘safe space’ and searching for a bathroom.  For me, I’m used to it.  Weird? Sure, but when your job requires you to make your car an office, you have little option but to search for an acceptable solution.

Now, I’m sure you are asking yourself why am I writing about this topic…Well, recently I’ve been blown away by how many of my friends find it socially unacceptable to use a bathroom where they did not: pay, purchase a beverage or bag of chips, stay in a hotel room, apologize prefusley, or promise their first born. Is this a Canadian ‘we are too polite’ thing? Or is it a case of me not understanding that I’m consistently comittiing faux pas?

 

When I find myself in this situation with my friends, it typically gets decided, “Let’s just stop at a gas station.” Really, people? We all know that is something NONE of us want to do, yet we feel in desperate times it’s the best step up before peeing behind a bush with our other friends sheilding us from a free public show.

I suggest going to other places and my friends look at me like I’ve suggested they go to a random person’s house and ask if they can use their kitchen to make a snack to satisfy their hunger. So, being the crazy girl I am, I march into a a non-gas station and they carefully watch me until I give the signal that the barista didn’t shame me into buying a frappe and we got the clear.

Here is my list of PUBLIC BATHROOM TIPS for people who are trying to build up courage and simply ask the question; “Can I use your washroom?” and not die of shame.

1) Never use gas station bathrooms. It’s seriously not worth it. Unless you enjoy horror movies and want to experience a scene from one.

2) Walmart vs. Superstore.  If you are near a shopping district, always choose Walmart washrooms. If it is tough for you knowing you are committing a scandal of ‘peeing without paying’, please remember it’s too much of a zoo in there for anyone to notice that’s your sole mission. 

*Special tip* Every Walmart has washrooms in the front and back. NEVER go in the front, that’s where everyone parties! Go to the one in the back. I promise it’s worth the trek.

3) Hotel lobbies. This is the best for roadtrips! Clean and always available. My girlfriends don’t believe this is an acceptable option since we didn’t pay $100 to stay at the Super 8.  But, I break them down and make them let me ask because I’m embarressing awesome.

4) Starbucks. Anywhere in the world! Let’s be serious. I have spent enough money in Canada to earn a right to use their washrooms at any location in the world. EVEN IF THEY HAVE A CODE ON THE DOOR. This does not deter me, rather I see it as an exciting challenge *note, I’m usually alone in thinking this*

In summary, to date, NO ONE has ever said to me: “Excuse me miss, did you not read the sign? You must buy a $5 fancy coffee to go to the bathroom only to have to go again shortly after you left because you bought a fancy coffee and it’s a diaretic.”

Let me know if you have any tips!

Happy Travels xox Amanda

 

Playa Del Carmen – Eats

This past week I had an opportunity to head to the beautiful Fairmont Mayakoba in Playa del Carmen for a quick getaway. What better way to see your friends from Vancouver than meeting in Cancun??
What made it extra special was celebrating my friend Stephanie’s 27th bday. I knew we had to do something a little different, so we found this VERY cool restaurant right in the city.
What did we do before google, trip advisor and yelp? Please tell me.

Alux Restaurant, Playa del Carmen

If you want an experience outside of your resort one night for dinner, I’d highly recommend taking a cab to this place. It had high ratings on every site I checked and it did not disappoint!

Essentially, it is fine dining in a natural cavern. At first we assumed we were just paying for the atmosphere, but then we had food served to us. It was extremely delicious and we all enjoyed our meals!

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Alux1

Alux1

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Check out this photo! Order a Spanish coffee “on fire”.  So cool.

Tough posting on my almost dead iPad, but hope you enjoyed a taste of Mexico with me!

xo

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Summer Lovin’

Being new-ish to Calgary from Vancouver, I knew I was walking into a colder climate and a much longer winter. I try my best to embrace it, but I blame my mild weather upbringing on not being able to adjust that smoothly. Not that it was all horrible, because it was pretty easy to pick an outfit all winter: black boots, leggings and a large jacket.

To get in the summer mood, I wanted to talk about some things I’m most excited for! I also think I really love lists…so just amuse me and let me know what you are most pumped for!!

1)      Tanned skin. Not just for me because, let’s be real, we don’t swoon over tall, “dark” and handsome for no reason.

2)      Sangria on the Patio. I adore the question us girls ask each other every time, “should we just get a pitcher?”

3)      Stampede. This is my second year. Last year we contemplated wearing go-pro cameras on our hats…glad that didn’t pan out.

4)      Hiking and exploring. Lake Louise, Waterton, drives to Vancouver and many other places I want to go. Open to suggestions!!

5)      Long weekends at the cabin. Lakes, boats, summer games, and meeting new friends. WHAT MORE COULD YOU WANT?!

Love xox

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For the love of: Mascara

As I was putting this post together I constantly kept thinking how weird it is that we paint eyelashes in black most days of the week?
With makeup being a new hobby, I’m always curious how high end compares to makeup from the drug store. I love browsing Sephora and talking to the girls there…mainly so I can geek out about products. I wanted to see if any high end mascara could top my favorite $12 L’Oreal Telescopic.
So I conducted the ultimate experiment and used my face to demonstrate.

First up: Lancome Hypnose Drama mascara $32
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In doing my extensive research (I asked 3 Sephora employees?) I discovered this mascara has been Lancome’s best seller for many years. This is specific for creating and building volume in the lashes. Lemme say, it can definitely build volume…but it is not user friendly: Exhibit A:

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Maybe I just suck at putting on mascara (c’est possible)? It was tough to use I got a nice little clump I had to brush through with another wand and it got all over my eyelid.
Verdict? I returned it. I don’t need stumpy, clumpy lashes.

Next contender: Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara $31
This was the other suggestion that I not only heard from the Sephora crew, but have been seeing it in YouTube tutorials lately. And who doesn’t like a racy name? I was intrigued.
Exhibit B:
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THE CLAIM IS TRUE! Man, I love this mascara!! User-friendly and it makes my lashes truly feathery, full and gives them length. The first photo is when I applied just ONE application and the last photo is putting on the absurd amount I prefer.

I hope you found this somewhat informative and if you have a favourite mascara you can’t live without…let me know!
LOVE xo
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