Thursday, January 24, 2013

Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf


While I love chocolately desserts, once in a while I’m in the mood for something more refreshing and a bit tangy. This lemon poppy seed loaf has been my favourite chocolate free dessert lately. It is very flavourful and so easy to make. I have made it twice this month already and it seems to disappear quickly.



1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup lemon yogurt (I used Yoplait’s Lemon Meringue Parfait)
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp lemon zest (or the zest from 1 lemon)
1 tbsp poppy seeds

3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (or the juice from 1 lemon)

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees
2. Coat an 8.5 x 4.5 inch pan with cooking spray
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt
4. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, yogurt, sugar, oil, vanilla, lemon zest, and poppy seeds
5. Gradually add the flour mixture into the egg mixture, stirring until just incorporated
6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 55 minutes or until golden brown
7. While the bread is baking, prepare the glaze by combining the powdered sugar and lemon  juice in a small bowl. Stir until smooth.
8. Once the bread is done baking, remove from oven and let it cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring it to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes
9. While the bread is still warm on the cooling rack, spoon the glaze over top

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

NOTD: Zoya Erika

Zoya describes Erika as a work appropriate soft pink with a shimmery twist. I believe that this is the ideal description for Erika as it is the flecks of gold shimmer running through this polish that make it stand out in the very large sea of pastel pink polishes.

I was very impressed with the texture of the shimmer particles. They are incredibly fine, and make me want to call them “micro flakies”. Even with just one coat of polish, the glitters remain smooth and do not alter the texture or feel of the polish. As you can see from the photo, the polish is very saturated with the shimmer particles. In most shimmery polishes, the shimmer is usually only visible when the light hits it. That is not the case for Erika; the shimmers are easy to see in any light. This type of shimmer also appears in some of the other polishes that were released with Erika in the Chit Chat Collection (Summer 2008).

Erika’s base is a milky baby pink shade that is surprisingly very opaque. Judging from the colour in the bottle, I assumed that it would take at least 3-4 coats for this polish to show up on the nails. The Zoya site gives it a 4/5 on the opacity scale. I think that maybe a 3 or 3.5/5 would be more appropriate because it did take two coats for Erika to be completely opaque.

That said, I had to apply a third coat because this polish didn’t apply as evenly as my other polishes from Zoya. After two coats, it appeared streaky and uneven in some spots. For the most part, the problem was resolved with a third coat.

In addition to the pretty gleam that the shimmer emits, Erika is a shiny polish in general. In the photos below I am not wearing any top coat and there is still an obvious glassy shine. In spite of this, I recommend using a top coat because, in my experiences, this polish does not seem to wear as long as other Zoyas (it started to chip within 3 days).

Overall, If you love pastel pinks and are looking for something a bit unique, Erika just may be the shade for you. It’s a beautiful colour worth trying if you aren’t afraid of a few streaks. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Peppermint Chocolate Rice Krispie Squares

As soon as the New Year began, I started to miss the family time, festive decorations, and delicious desserts that go along with the holidays. I thought that a peppermint chocolate dessert would be just what I needed to bring back some of that holiday spirit.

Hope you enjoy!


2 tbsp and 1 tsp butter
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
4 cups Cocoa Krispies
2 cups marshmallows
1/2 cup Andes Peppermint Crunch (or chop 12 Andes Peppermint Crunch bars into small pieces)

1. Melt the butter in a saucepan.
2. Add in marshmallows.
3. Once marshmallows are melted, remove from heat and stir in the peppermint extract.
4. Add in the Cocoa Krispies and mix well.
5. Press into a 9x9 inch pan.
6. Sprinkle with peppermint crunch and lightly press down.
7. Cool before cutting.

Friday, January 18, 2013

January SeasonsBox (Unboxing & Review)

Today, I’m very excited to have the opportunity to tell you about a new subscription box. Unlike the other “deluxe sample” boxes, SeasonsBox sends 3-5 luxurious full sized seasonal must-have products.
Each month’s box is completely different and includes environmentally conscious products for your home, body, and spirit. It’s called a SeasonsBox because each box is tailored to one season or a seasonal holiday (I can’t wait to see if they have something in store for Valentine’s Day!).
The January box features products from Thailand and the United States that evoke feelings of warmth and comfort to banish the winter blues. Everything came in a cardboard box that was thoughtfully wrapped with a chocolate brown ribbon.
The first item is this comfy cozy hand-woven scarf from Kitira Boutique . Not only is this scarf a winter fashion accessory, it’s also made of 100% cotton and hand dyed with natural products. Also, as you will see in the photo of the scarf below and the photos that follow, each individual item is carefully wrapped with environmentally friendly materials.

The next item came at a perfect time as I have been very interested in home decor for the past few months. This hand-poured Bamboo Bliss cathedral candle from Vance Kitira smells delicious and has a classy look that will warm up any home. 

My skin gets very dry in the winter so I was very happy to receive this jar of Whispering Willow Whipped Shea Butter. This product is hand crafted from organic, raw and unrefined shea, and contains vitamins and fatty acids that naturally heal dry skin, burns, sores, and scars. My favourite part is the scent—it smells like a peppermint candy cane!

Next is an item that made the entire box smell like a delicious tea shop. Unearth Malee Thai Herbal Steam Bath Tea is made from certified organic herbs that can be used to alleviate headaches, sinus congestion, stress, muscle tension, and skin conditions. You can even plant the envelope since it is laced with flower seeds.

The last item, Perfumessence Organic “Breathe” Shower Bath Bomb, is a bonus that was sent in January boxes. It relieves winter congestion with 100% organic ingredients like eucalyptus, lavender and rosemary. Bonus products are sent each month.

Overall, I am incredibly impressed with the January SeasonsBox. I have no negative comments and I love the concept of a monthly box that delivers a variety of products.
Subscription rates begin at $29.95 which seems like a lot but, as you can see from the January items, you get what you pay for. My guess is that the scarf alone is valued at over $30 so I think that this month’s box pays for itself.
Did you receive a SeasonsBox this month? What are your thoughts on it?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

NOTD: Zoya Kennedy


When Zoya’s Feel collection (Winter 2011) first came out, I told myself that I didn’t need it. After all, I already had lots of creamy pastel shades.

This collection features pigmented neutrals that look opaque after only a coat or two. Each time I saw swatches of the polishes, I admired their smooth creamy colours and shiny finishes. The blues, greys, and nudes were pretty but one shade, Kennedy, was my favourite of the group.

In most photos, it looked like the typical pastel pink shade with maybe a hint of pink. I debated whether I needed another polish like this and eventually forgot about Kennedy as new collections were released. 

Recently, I purchased some Zoya polishes and remembered to add Kennedy to my shopping basket. I’m really glad that I did as this shade offers so much more than I expected.

Kennedy is not just a pastel pink. Zoya describes it as a “pale, french beige cream”, but, on my nails, it looks like a creamy mocha latte with a splash of lilac. The pictures in this post really do the colour justice and show the unique shade of this polish. It looks great against my cool toned skin and doesn’t pull any red or ruddy tones.

Zoya gives Kennedy a rating of 5/5 for opacity, and accurately so. After two coats, this polish was perfectly opaque. I added a third coat for the photos but it was not necessary. Despite being a bit thick like all Zoya polishes, Kennedy applied very smoothly and did not streak. It also dried quickly and lasted for six days without chipping.

While Kennedy is marketed as a “winter neutral,” I have no doubts that it will be a perfect shade to wear year round.

Monday, January 14, 2013

January Topbox

In December, Topbox contacted its members to let them know that the Privé Box will be introduced in 2013 and it will showcase a selection of products from one featured brand. All Topbox members were granted priority access to this box and were promised to receive their first Privé Box this January.
After reading this email, and even after receiving the box, I’m still a bit confused about the concept of this new box. Is Privé Box a spinoff of Topbox? Can members subscribe to both? Will Privé Box eventually replace Topbox?  
I’m always wary of brand specific boxes because I have found that usually if I do not like one product from a brand, I will dislike others as well. That said, I was excited to receive the January Privé Box because Topbox said that it would contain products from one of the world's most iconic beauty brands.
When it showed up in my mailbox, I was a bit disappointed to see that it was printed with a Clinique label. I have never been a fan on Clinique products and would never think of this brand as iconic, let alone one of the most iconic beauty brands worldwide.
I received four products, three of which were skincare items. After filling out many of the Topbox surveys I had hoped that they would stop sending me skincare samples because my skin is usually way too sensitive for what they are sending and I have no intention of changing my skincare routine. The makeup item was a small eye shadow duo featuring two universally flattering shades. I’m hoping that if I receive a Privé Box next month it will feature a more exciting brand.

For those of you who do not know what Topbox is, it is a service similar to Loose Button, Glymm, Birchbox, Glossybox, etc., which offers monthly boxes of deluxe size product samples. Topbox currently offers its services across Canada. For more information check out

What did you get from Topbox this month?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Winter Nail Trend: Matte Nails

I love to experiment with different nail polish textures, especially during the colder months when I’m wearing darker shades.
Lately I have been really into matte nails and wanted to share a few photos with you.
This first set of photos features the chocolate matte shade (#13) from
I like this colour because it is more of a mauve brown rather than a true brown and it has a hint of shimmer to prevent the polish from looking flat. It’s also much less expensive than matte polishes from higher end brands and you can save 10% when you purchase it using the coupon code BEAUTY4K31.

This next shade is actually Monica from Zoya (my new favourite Zoya polish) with a coat of bornprettystore’s Super Matte Surface Oil on top.
If you have ever used Monica you will know that it is a super glossy polish even without a topcoat. I love how the surface oil instantly dulls down that shiny finish to create a new look that is chic and on trend for winter.

*this is NOT a sponsored post or video. I was sent the product to try but I am not being compensated for the post  and all opinions expressed are honest and are my own. the coupon code was provided by the company for my readers to use--I do not receive any compensation if the code is used*