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Friday, 28 February 2014

There is Nothing Better Than Retail Therapy with Best Friends and Good Makeup

On Sunday, I went on a much needed trip downtown for some retail therapy and an afternoon with one of my best friends, and fellow blogger, Shannon Boyce. If you've heard her name before, it's likely that you read my blog, “Making a Branch Out” blog post. Shannon is the founder of "the creation of beauty is art". Also, if you've ever found yourself on Butler Way, you may have read some of her articles there. Come August, I will have known her 10 years. Ten years of awesome friendship, even if we haven't been able to see each other as often as we'd like. Here's to another 10 years, Shannon!

We met up around noon, and went uptown for an appointment Shannon had made with a beauty salon on Yonge between Eglinton and Lawrence. The salon had invited her to a free makeup session for her blog. After a cup of Chai tea, and enduring a very pink bathroom, we made our way to my favourite mall in the city, the Eaton Centre. There, a visit to HMV, Indigo and Sephora resulted in the items you see below:

The fruits of my labour

My Harry Potter movie collection is now, finally, complete, and I'm only one album away from owning all four of Dean Brody's Cds. I am currently in the third chapter of Bitten and thoroughly enjoying it. I am hooked on the television show (which is filmed in part in my hometown of Toronto, as well as a town called Hespeler just outside of Cambridge), and I've heard that the show differs quite a bit from the book. I am curious to see just what has been changed and what has remained the same. I am enjoying the show, I'm sure I am going to enjoy the rest of the book, too.

Sephora brought me the most joy (and the most pain to my pocketbook). I went in after Clinique's All About Shadow 8-Pan Palette in Neutral Territory and Urban Decay's Triple Threat Travel Pencil Set, Smokey Matte Edition. Well... I ended up leaving with three things besides. While in the checkout line, I picked up Sephora's Lips in Bloom and Sephora's Waterproof Eye Makeup remover. And, at the checkout, the cashier told me I had enough points to redeem for a free item. I chose Clinique's, Superprimer Universal Face Primer.

My makeup purchases

I have never used a face primer before, so I was eager to find out just how it would work. I was also excited to try the Clinique palette, since I a) love the brand; and b) love playing around with neutral colours to see just what I can do with them. Yesterday, I finally had the chance to use the primer and the palette. The primer is a white, almost lotion type cream, which I just blended in to my skin with my fingers. I wasn't really sure what to expect, but as I have been with most Clinique products, I was impressed. It didn't leave my skin oily, and my face felt a bit moisturized as well. The moisturized part is a huge plus, because I have dry skin, which is most dry after I've had a shower (I know, figure that one out!). The primer helped my loose powder foundation (also from Clinique) cling to my skin better, and gave it a more natural look. Methinks I will be going back to Sephora in the near future to purchase a normal sized tube of the primer. The one thing I love most about Clinique's eye shadows is they don't crease after only a few hours of wearing them. After about 6-7 hours of wear, I notice some crease, which is more than fine for me, but I don't want my eye shadow to crease after only 4 hours of wear, as I've experienced with other brands. Well, with the primer, the eye shadow stayed in place all day. After eleven hours of wear, I only just began to notice some creasing. Yup, I'll be buying more of this.

Next came the palette I was so excited to try. As with the foundation, I used the primer first, and then took a few seconds to figure out just what colours I was going to use. The palette has eight different colours, and with eight different neutrals, the looks I can create with this are endless. For work, I chose the colours second and fourth from the left, and the last two on the right. The lightest shade, I used on my brow bone. I was originally going to use the fourth one in as my lid shade, but I ended up using the second one in from the right instead. The fourth one in ended up being what I used on my inner corner. The darkest shade I used in my crease and along my upper and lower lash lines.

Clinique Palette with the primer.

The Urban Decay eyeliners.

I also had a chance to use one of the three Urban Decay eye pencils. I used the black shade, Perversion along with the shadow I'd already used on my lash lines. The shadow simply softened the eyeliner. Now, I stay away from any form of liquid eyeliner, because I don't have a steady enough hand for it, and I prefer to apply my eyeliner in short strokes and then connect them all together. It's just easier for me to control. This pencil eyeliner just glides on, no fuss, no mess. It dries super quickly, which is awesome because then I avoid the dreaded transfer of eyeliner from my lash line to the crease of my eyes. It just isn't (normally) a good look. Also, the liner lasts all day. By the end of eleven hours of wear, it was still in place, albeit a touch messy. And when I say a touch, I mean it had moved only slightly. I can definitely wear this work into play. I am looking forward to trying the other two liners that came with the one I used yesterday. There is a dark navy Sabbath and a deep grey, Smoke. I can't wait to try those two as well.

Despite the rave reviews of the last three, there are a couple that missed their mark. I'm on the fence about is the Sephora <i>Lips in Bloom</i> set. 

Sephora Lips in Bloom Collection
L-R: Glossy Orange, Glossy Pale Pink, Glossy Pink.

Sephora Lips in Bloom swatches.
L-R: Glossy Pale Pink, Glossy Orange, Glossy Pink.

The colours themselves are very light, sheer and perfect for spring. (I even like the Glossy Orange shade.) I don't always expect much out of my lip colour; however, I like my lip colour to, at the very least, last the duration of a 4 hour shift at work. Unfortunately, this one didn't. Around the latter part of 2 hours, I could feel the colour had started to wear. My Cover Girl Naturluxe Gloss Balm lasts longer than this one does. Now, I wasn't expecting this to last all day; it's a gloss more than it is a lipstick, but I was expecting it to last a bit longer than it did. But, all is not lost. I am a fan of layering my lip colour, so, I may find use for these after all; as a layering colour rather than a lip colour on its own.

I was also a little unimpressed with the Sephora Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover. Maybe I didn't use enough of it, but I didn't see any real benefit using this over a facial cleansing cloth to remove my makeup. The makeup remover did an okay job at removing the eye shadow, and breaking down the mascara a bit, but it left the eyeliner in place. I also ended up having to wipe my cheeks afterwards due to the run off. When I remember to, I usually remove my makeup with an Equate Facial Cleansing Cloth. I ended up using the cloth to cleanup what the remover left behind. While, I always manage to get some soap in my eyes, the cloth seems to remove my waterproof mascara better than the Sephora remover. The remover also left my eyes feeling a bit greasy. I want to like this product, so I am going to give it the benefit of doubt and give it a couple more chances before calling a final verdict, but I doubt I will buy this again.

Here was the finished product:

The finished product.
Primer: Clinique Superprimer Face Primer - Universal Face Primer
Foundation: Clinique Blended Face Powder in Transparency Neutral.
Eye Shadow: Clinique All About Shadow 8-Pan PaletteEyeliner: Urban Decay Triple Threat Pencil Set Smokey Matte Edition in PerversionBlush: Revlon Powder Blush in Soft Spoken PinkLips: Sephora Lips in Bloom in Glossy Pale Pink.

My next Clinique purchase will be one from their Redness Solutions lines, as redness is something I battle with on a regular basis. When I do pick that up, you'll hear about it here!

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Roll That Barrel Out - A Night with Dean Brody

On Christmas Eve, my mom and I received tickets to see Dean Brody at the General Motors (GM) Centre in Oshawa. Dean Brody is one of my favourite Country artists. Oh, and he's a good ole Canadian boy.

February 7th came quickly, and saw my mom and I at my aunt and uncle's for dinner with my uncle's sister-in-law, who had won tickets to the show from the Toronto area's only Country music radio station, KX96. Upon dinner's end, we made our way to the GM centre, home of the Oshawa Generals, Oshawa's hockey team. My uncle sat with his sister-in-law, while my aunt sat with my mom and me. The seat that would have been my uncle's became a spot to put my coat and purse, and allowed me extra room to groove and enjoy the show. And wave frantically, trying unsuccessfully, to get my friend, Shannon to see me.

Shortly before 8:00, Jerry Archer and Carolyn Ellis from KX96's morning show, greeted the crowd and introduced the opening act, The Voice Season 3 winner, Cassadee Pope.

She came on stage around 8:00, and performed a half-hour set that included her single, Wasting All These Tears, and a cover of Shania Twain's "That Don't Impress Me Much". She was a crowd pleaser, and enjoyable to watch.

Cassadee Pope entertaining us.

At 9:00, the arena went dark, and the crowd went wild. The show started with a short video that featured a CGI alien who was trying to get Dean to where he needed to be. After being sent to Italy, London, Moscow, the arctic and the middle of nowhere, Dean Brody "arrived" on stage and opened up with his latest hit single, Crop Circles. He followed it up with one his first singles, People Know You by Your First Name, and one of his latest tunes, “Dirt”. One of the only four songs I did not know, Four Wheel Drive was next, followed by one of my favourite moments of the entire show. Wildflower was the next song in the set. During this song, I took a moment to listen to the audience. Every person in the audience was singing along. It was a beautiful moment to watch the audience and hear every voice singing along.

Give it up for Dean Brody!

The second song I did not know came next. It was a beautiful tune off of his latest album, Crop Circles, called Marianne. Marianne was then followed by one of my favourites of his, Roll That Barrel Out. It's a song that just makes you wish you were somewhere in the Caribbean singing along to an old Harry Belafonte tune. The third song I hadn't yet heard followed Roll That Barrel Out. Back In Style is a lovely song about wishing a bygone era was back in style. I have a similar sentiment quite frequently. I have many days when I think I was born in the wrong era.

Bob Marley is one of my ultimate favourite songs by Dean Brody, and I was elated to hear him perform it. It brings back a time when my own grandmother introduced me to the music she listened to, and the artists she loved growing up. Artists like, Theresa Brewer, Danny Kaye, Andy Williams and Nat King Cole; artists I still adore listening to to this day.

Dean followed that song with the appropriately placed Bob Marley song, One Love. I'm pretty sure we all know what happens when that song is played. I doubt any further description is needed here. Dean's latest single, Bounty followed, along with an introduction to his band. The band introductions led into a couple of tunes that brought a bygone era to light. People used to have kitchen parties, where guests would bring instruments and have what we would call a jam session. One person would have a banjo, another would have a fiddle, and grandma would grab a pair of spoons and the house would be filled with music. People would sing along, others would dance, and this would all take place in the kitchen. Dean performed the fourth and final song I did not know, Mountain Man. We were then taken back to his second album, Trail In Life with a tune called Little Yellow Blanket.

The "Kitchen Band"

Then, Dean told us a bit about his family. His sister works in the veterinary services, and his brother works for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). He told us that his brother had invited him on a ride along, and about the respect he had for those who were in the forces, whether it be in the Police Services, the RCMP or the Armed Forces. On the ride along, he realized his brother was doing this so he didn't have to, and he couldn't imagine what he would do if his brother was ever called away. I have a cousin in the armed forces, and one of my ex-boyfriends has been trying to join for a long time. Both of these men have children, and they are in the forces so their children don't have to be. As Dean's story continued, I very quickly realized what it was leading up to. This was an introduction to my favourite of Dean's songs, Brothers. If anyone has (or had) family in the Armed Forces, this song tugs hard at the heartstrings. The number of lighters and cellphone lights I watched sway back and forth was countless.

Dean closed his main set with a tune that quickly became an anthem of sorts for him, Dirt Road Scholar and a tune he recorded with Great Big Sea, It's Friday. He picked a good night to play that last one; February 7th was a Friday. Upon the end of It's Friday, he left the stage, but I've been to enough concerts to know that this was not the end of the show. He returned about thirty seconds later to play the title track from his Trail in Life album. It was another of those songs where I had to sit back and listen to the audience sing along.

Dean in his Team Canada jersey.

The last song of the night began with Dean putting on a Team Canada jersey. I couldn't contain my happiness for the final song of the night. Canadian Girls is, along with Brothers, my favourite Dean Brody tune. It is a song that makes me proud to be a Canadian girl. The first lines of the song describe me to a T: “She grew up watching hockey with her daddy on Saturday nights. He taught her how to tie her skates.” When I was a kid, Saturday night was Hockey night in our house, and my dad and I always watched the game. Make that, he watched, and I listened to him yell at the players through the TV. But, over the years, I have found that I do the exact same thing he does. It may be that my dad was a hockey player himself. He played at Malvern Arena for various inner-city teams as a goalie. Hockey is in my blood. There is another line in the song that always seems to make me teary: “She'd give her life for the red and white.” Damn right I would. I am Canadian and proud of it. It's where I was born, it's where I was raised, and it's very likely where I will die.

The flag I am proud of.

I am very thankful for those tickets at Christmas. They were my way into a very entertaining concert. After the show, I met up with Shannon for a quick hello before meting back with my mom, aunt and uncle, and my uncle's sister-in-law. After a brief post-concert gathering at my aunt and uncle's, my mom and I headed to Markham Station to join the karaoke DJ and his wife for a late-night meal.

The next time Dean Brody comes to town, you can expect me to be in the audience.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Working Out is Working Out

On the last day of January of this year, I went with a friend to her gym, and signed up for a membership. I got an all-gym membership, so I'm not tied to one, single gym. The reason I chose the all-gym membership is because my friends are at one gym, and I'm not exactly close to it; however, there is another gym a 5 minute walk up the street from me. So, with the all-gym membership, I can workout with my friends, and I can also go to the one near me if I wish to. Plus, if I'm travelling within Canada and I want to get a workout in, I can.

Now, I have a bad habit of failing to finish what I start, but so far, I have been sticking to it. I usually go Tuesdays and Thursdays with two of my girlfriends unless work and/or extenuating circumstances prevent it. (I missed Tuesday due to work, and I missed last Thursday due to putting Misty down.) Not only have I been sticking to it, I've been enjoying it. I'm often bummed when I miss out on a workout due to work. But, I try to make up for my missed workouts by taking the stairs instead of the elevator and walking up the escalator instead of just riding it. I may only be taking those stairs up one floor, but it's something, and I feel good when I get to the floor I need. All in all, working out has been working out for me.

My next goal is to change my eating habits. I love food. I love going to buffets and eating all I can (without being sick), and I adore Dim Sum. I love trying new foods (within my reasoning), and have been able to try something new at Dim Sum and at buffets. However, despite this love of food, the rate at which I consume said food does need to be changed. This will be a gradual change, but it will be a change nonetheless. I want to eat healthier than I do. This is something I have been trying to do for a while. I avoid eating at McDonald's; I give in to the chain perhaps once every month or two. I have begun having veggies and dip (actually Ranch salad dressing) or toast as a snack instead of potato chips at night. But, food is still a love of mine, and though I feel like I'm making the right choices, it will take a while to completely get the hang of things.

Above all of this, there is one major thing I have noticed since I started working out. I feel better. I feel like I've accomplished something at the end of each workout, even if only lasts half an hour or I don't last as long as I wanted to on one particular machine. Stairs aren't so daunting anymore (unless I'm super fatigued), and I often enjoy taking them. There a workout on days I don't get a workout. But I feel better in general. I feel better about myself, and therefore, I plan on treating myself better. Treating myself to an ice cream, treating myself to a new shirt, treating myself to some makeup I've been looking at for months. I also plan on putting the previous paragraph into action. I plan on treating my body better than I have in the past.

My body, mind and spirit have suffered in the past, but no longer. They all deserve to be treated well. And that's exactly what I am going to do. Working out really is working out.

Friday, 14 February 2014

It's so Hard to Say Goodbye

Yesterday evening, I said goodbye to my best friend of 17 years.

On November 10th, 1996, I went to my aunt's in Etobicoke to receive an early Christmas present. When I got there, this tiny grey and white kitten sleeping on my uncle's chest. He immediately handed her to me, and I sat down on the couch with her on my chest. I sat there, watching her sleep, thinking about how sweet she looked and how big her ears were. We sat there for quite awhile, and I took that time to come up with a name for this tiny, seven weeks old kitten. The grey which covered her back, and the majority of her left front leg and half of her right back leg, was very light and reminded me of a misty morning. Thus, her name became Misty.

Shortly after we got her. Notice the big ears?
The ears are due to her lineage; her father was Siamese.

She came home in a box on my lap, pawing at my fingers all the way. When we took her inside the apartment, my mom put Misty inside her coat to keep her warm. Once inside, we showed her where her litter box was, and where her food and water dishes were, and then let her explore her new home.

Over the next few weeks, we got to know just who she was. Independent, expressive, playful, a little messy, and very caring. Had she have bred, she would have made an excellent mother. She mothered me almost right from day one. I can't count how many times I would hear her climbing up my bed's comforter (because she was too small to jump onto the beds), and then feel her walk around me to sit on my pillow. Then, she would proceed to lick my forehead and face. Kitty-bathes came to be something that soothed me, something I looked forward to receiving.

As she grew, not only did she grow into her ears, she became set in her ways, and she became my best friend. We used to chase each other up and down the hall in a game of tag. We used to have an upholstered rocking chair where the living room met the hallway, and she would launch herself off the back of it, and then proceed to chase me down the hall. Then, the tables would turn, and I would chase her back out to the living room. This game of tag would go on for 20 minutes or more, or until one of us tuckered out. (It was usually me.) Every time I yelled “Ow!”, she came running to see what was the matter. When I was sick or injured, she never left my side. She'd often get under the covers with me, or sleep on my pillow. She would lick my forehead if I made so much as a groan.
Lounging in the chair she used to launch herself from.

Perched on top of the shower doors in the bathroom.

Over the course of the last seventeen years, we took care of each other in the ways we knew how. I'd take care of her by giving her food, cleaning her litter box and giving her lots of love. She would take care of me by giving me baths and by simply keeping me company. She was my confidante, my baby, my best friend.
Hello there, pretty kitty.

Just hanging out.

I was with her in her final moments, and cradled her in my arms as she slipped away. After seventeen years of loyalty, it was only right that I be with her when she needed me most; just as she had done for me.

I know she has been reunited with my dad, and the two are enjoying each others' company again. She will live on the photos that were taken of her, and the good times we had will remain in my memory.

I love you, Misty; always have, always will.