Friday, January 30, 2015

January 2015 Beauty Box Five

January 2015 Beauty Box Five
The January 2015 Beauty Box Five* features products to help us keep our minds open to fresh possibilities in the New Year. The products are meant to encourage us feel confident enough to greet new opportunities while putting our best face forward. If you are unfamiliar with Beauty Box Five, it is a subscription service that sends its members five cosmetic samples each month. The service is open to those in Canada and the USA, and subscriptions start at $12 per month. The best part is that shipping is free!
The brands that Beauty Box Five works with are also very impressive (see them all HERE).
Now let’s talk about the January items…
January 2015 Beauty Box Five 2
1. Sally Hansen Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips | Retail: $9.99 - I’ve always loved nail strips. They are easy to apply and don’t require any drying time. These ones are meant to last 10 days, and they can be easily removed with regular nail polish remover. I received them in the pattern Misbehaved, a light gold base with a black fishnet design. I’ll save these for a night out.
2. Ultraflesh The Gold Standard Mascara in Blackout | Retail: $21 for 0.27 oz (sample is 0.08 oz) - While I’m very happy with my Bare Escentuals Buxom Lash Mascara (and rarely have any desire to try new mascaras), this mascara really caught my eye with its shiny gold tube. The product claims to provide dramatic, thicker lashes, so I’m looking forward to trying it. 
3. Coastal Scents Eye Shadow | Retail $1.95 - $24.95 - I’ve always loved the combination of bronzy shadows with a hint of mint. This little sample shadow quad features very pretty colours that will be my beauty inspiration for spring and summer. 
January 2015 Beauty Box Five 1
4. Garnier Fructis Daily Care Fortifying Shampoo | Retail: $3.99 for 13 oz (sample contains 1.7 oz) - Garnier products always smell deliciously fruity. I used to use them often as a child but stopped when I started dying my hair in my teenage years. Now I only use sulphate free shampoo. I will pass this on to someone who doesn’t have colour treated hair. 
5. Softsoap Nutri Serums Vitamin E Body Wash | Retail: $15 for 15 oz (sample contains 1.7 oz) - When I first opened this month’s BB5, I was drawn to the shimmery pink and gold beads in this body wash. The beads are filled with Vitamin E and Omegas 3 and 6 for long lasting hydration. I’m really looking forward to trying this. It’s almost too pretty to use. 
Overall, I am very happy with the January 2015 box from Beauty Box Five. The nail strips and body wash are very exciting, and the items in the box cost more than the monthly subscription fee. I’m looking forward to next month’s box and can’t wait to see what Beauty Box Five has in store for February. Could it be Valentine’s Day themed?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Victorian Lace Nail Look

OPI Play The Peonies Nail Look

OPI Play the Peonies Nail Look 2

OPI Play the Peonies Nail Look 3

I love the true elegance of black lace on a light background. Since this beautiful combination is embraced in the fashion world, I wanted to create a version of it for the beauty world with this nail look.

This design has a Victorian feel and is very easy to create. The shimmery light purple base is one of my favourite polishes from OPI called Play the Peonies. For the design, I used the Elegant Lace Glitter Nail Stickers* from Born Pretty Store. They cost less than $1 and you can save 10% site wide using the code BEAUTY4K31.

This look is very romantic and would be perfect for a Valentine’s Day date or a wedding. Not to mention, it’s very quick and practically fool-proof.

Do you like this design? Where would you wear it?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Holographic Ombre Nail Look

Purple Holographic Ombre Nail Look
Purple Holographic Ombre Nail Look 2
Here is a look that I created using three of my favourite purples from Zoya: Marley, Malia, and Pinta.
I created the look by painting on a base of the lightest colour (Marley) and then using a makeup sponge to dab on layers of Malia and Pinta. To finish off the look, I added a coat of OPI DS Shimmer, a holographic polish.
To see a tutorial of this look, click here or on the photos above.
What do you think of this holographic nail look? Would you wear it in the winter?

Homemade Chocolate Truffles

Homemade Chocolate Truffles

With Valentine’s Day in a few weeks, it’s the perfect time for a chocolate recipe. These truffles are very easy to make and can be customized for any event. The chocolates in the photos above were decorated with blue chocolate for a Tiffany & Co. themed engagement party. The ones below were decorated with teal and red for a bridal shower. Read on to see just how easy it is to make your own chocolate truffles. It only takes a few ingredients.

Homemade Chocolate Truffles 1

Recipe

Ingredients:
1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened
16 oreo cookies
2 cups chocolate chips
toppings of your choice

Directions: 
1. Place cookies in a food processor and pulse until chopped finely.
2. Add cream cheese to the food processor, pulsing until smooth. Place cookie/cream cheese mixture in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
3. Roll the cookie/cream cheese mixture into small balls, and place them on a pastil wrap lined cookie sheet. Place the balls in the freezer for 30 minutes.
4. Melt the chocolate in the microwave. Heat for ten seconds at a time, stirring after each heating until completely melted. Don’t overcook the chocolate or it will become thick and difficult to work with.
5. Remove the cookie balls from the freezer and drop each one into the melted chocolate, using a spoon to help coat them. Place each truffle back on the cookie sheet and add toppings (sprinkles, candies, mini chocolate chips, shredded coconut, chopped nuts, etc.) before the chocolate sets. Place the truffles in the freezer for another 30 minutes. Store in the freezer or in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Review: Jewelmint Isle Bloom Earrings


It’s been a while since I posted a Jewelmint review. None of the items had sparked my interest for a while until I saw the Isle Bloom Earrings. I have a weakness for earrings, especially sparkly ones in unique colours. Luckily, I found these on sale since Jewelmint’s shipping rates to Canada seem a bit high at $10. With the sale, the earrings were the same price as the shipping.
The earrings look very similar to the photo on the Jewelmint site. The little stones in the floral earrings look a bit more vibrant on the site and the round earrings appear to be a lighter shade of blue. The earrings are very pretty in person. They are noticeable but not gaudy. The floral earrings are a bit smaller than the Audrey earrings which are very popular on the Jewelmint site. I think the blue shades would look pretty with any skin tone or hair colour, so these earrings are quite versatile.
One disappointment was the backs that came with the floral earrings. While these earrings are in no way heavy and are lighter than the Audrey earrings, the tiny backs that came with them give the earrings no support or balance and cause them to tilt downward. I will need to find some more supportive backs before I can wear the floral earrings in this set.

The backs are fine for the round blue studs which are very light and comfortable to wear. With their royal blue finish, they are a unique take on the standard pearl earring. I like that they are flat on the back so that the earrings sit flat to the ear and don’t look too large.

Overall, I am happy with this Jewelmint purchase and will wear these earrings often. Have you tried these earrings? What are your thoughts on them?
Check out my other Jewelmint reviews:
Lovely Audrey Earrings / Opera Pearl Necklace / Guilded Silver Bangle

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Dazzling Cheetah Print Nail Art

Cheetah Print Nail Art

I don’t usually like to wear anything with an animal print pattern (clothes, shoes, etc.), and I absolutely refuse to wear anything with fur. However, since animal print is very popular during fall and winter, I decided to try a cruelty free cheetah print nail look.

I created this look using Zoya Richelle nail polish, my Konad stamping nail art kit, and a bit of sparkle. I think this look would be very nice for a fancy event or a night out.

To see a tutorial on this look, click here or on the photo above. 

Would you wear this cheetah print nail look?

Hello Kitty Nail Art

Hello Kitty Nail Art 2
Hello Kitty Nail Art 4
Yesterday, I posted a Cat Inspired Nail Look that I created a while ago and forgot to add to my blog. I have since found a few other nail looks from the past that I would like to share. The first one is this Hello Kitty Nail Look.
I created this look using a dotting tool and a nail art stamping image plate. To see a tutorial on this look, click here or on the photos above.
What do you think of this nail design?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Easy Lemon Shrimp Linguini



I could eat pasta every day. Some weeks, I do. It’s easy to make and there are so many different combinations. My most recent favourite is this Lemon Shrimp Linguini. It takes very little prep time and can be made even on those nights when everyone gets home late and there’s not much time to prepare dinner.

Recipe

Ingredients:
1/2 of a 454g box of uncooked linguini
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 of a 340g package of frozen, cooked salad shrimp, thawed
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
grated parmesan cheese for serving

Directions:
1. Cook linguini according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
2. Melt butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add garlic, shrimp, and red pepper flakes. Stir occasionally for two minutes.
3. Add chicken stock and lemon juice to the shrimp mixture. Bring to a simmer and stir occasionally for two minutes. Stir in pasta and parsley. Mix until combined and pasta is coated in the sauce.
4. Serve with parmesan cheese.
Adapted from Damn Delicious

Cat Inspired Nail Art

cat nails, cat nail art
While looking through the Writing Beauty photo archives, I discovered a nail look that I created long ago but never posted on my blog. As a cat lover, this is one of my favourite nail art creations.
The base colour is Essie’s Mint Candy Apple. I created the cat and paw print designs by hand using a black nail art pen. To see a tutorial on this look. click here or on the photo above.
Would you wear this cat-inspired nail look?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

January 2015 Bowzer Box (Review + Discount Code)

 

I have a special post for you today. It’s not beauty related, but it’s inspired by a topic that is very important to me: pets. Although I like to think of myself as a cat lady, I love all pets and have a dog of my own. I like to see my pets happy and enjoying life, so I was very excited when presented with the opportunity to try Bowzer Box, a Canadian subscription service that delivers dog products monthly. Items range from full size toys and wheat free treats to samples and coupons from dog-friendly brands. Bowzer Box chooses items to include that are healthy and safe for dogs. Most come from Canada and the USA.

What I really love about Bowzer Box is that 10% of its profits go to animals in need. The donations are for all different types of animals, not just dogs. This is very close to my heart as I have adopted pets from shelters, so I have had the chance to see how pets waiting for forever homes live and how they are in need of any extra resources available.  I like that purchasing a Bowzer Box not only provides your dog with a fun monthly treat, but it also helps brighten another animal’s day.

The boxes are customized based on the size of your dog. I chose the large box because my dog is over 50 pounds. Plans begin as low as $23 and you can sign up for a 1 month, 3 month, or 6 month plan. *You can also save 10% with the code DOGS10.*

The January 2015 large dog box features products that encourage your dog to get out of bed and enjoy the morning.

The first item is a Blueberry Crunch Bar from Snicky Snaks (Illinois, USA). This all natural organic bar, wrapped in recycled packaging, contains USDA certified ingredients. My dog was given this as a Sunday breakfast treat. He really enjoyed it and asked for more when he was finished. Retail: $4. 

 

Next is a Pro Bloom Instant Goat’s Milk probiotic supplement from The Honest Kitchen (San Diego, CA). It contains digestive enzymes and is ideal for general immune support at the gut level. Since he was a puppy, our dog has always had digestive issues. Next time he isn’t feeling well, I will try this out to see if it helps. I like how it works for cats as well. Retail: $2.

There’s nothing that my dog loves more than treats. These chewy Banana Strawberry Yogurt Drops from Smoochers (Milwaukee, WI) are wheat, corn, and soy free, which is perfect for a dog like mine who is prone to allergies. He loves these treats and looks forward to them as a reward for allowing his paws to be wiped after coming in from outside and being gentle with the kitties. Retail: $10.

Also on my dog’s list of favourites is chewy snacks like this Chicken and Bacon Strip from Tucker’s (Wisconsin, USA). My dog’s ideal afternoon involves going for a walk and then lounging on his pillow in front of the television while chewing on a meaty treat. This one, made with USA/Canadian chicken breast kept him happy and occupied. Retail: $3.

In this house, we take oral hygiene very seriously and that includes our pets’ teeth too. While we brush our dog’s teeth about once a week with an enzymatic toothpaste, we like to give him dental chews in between brushings to keep his teeth extra clean. He really enjoyed this Dental Chew from Whimzees (Holland, NL). Made with all natural ingredients, its vegetable-based texture removes plaque and tartar with chewing. Retail: $4-5. 

This last item, a Canvas Newspaper toy from Ethical Pet (Bloomfield, NJ), was my dog’s favourite product in this month’s box. Before I could even have a look inside the box, he pushed his head in and pulled out this toy. It makes a crinkly noise when squeezed and there’s also a squeaker inside. I had to negotiate with him to get it back so that I could take a picture for this post. Aside from the fact that my dog loves this toy, I’m very impressed with it because of how well made it is. The seams are very sturdy (my dog has been playing with it for a few days and still hasn’t ruined it) and the realistic, yet dog-themed, newspaper article print is cute and entertaining.

Overall, My dog and I are very impressed with the January 2015 large dog Bowzer Box. We enjoyed the unique assortment of products that are safe and healthy for dogs. There are very few pet stores where we live, so it was nice to receive different products that we don’t see everyday. It was very exciting for my dog.

If you are interested in trying Bowzer Box, click here to sign up. You can also use the discount code DOGS10 for 10% off.   

Does your dog receive Bowzer Box? What are his/her thoughts on this month’s box?

*Although this complimentary box was sent for review purposes, all opinions expressed are honest and are my own. This post contains referral links.*

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

GIVEAWAY: Stila Love At First Blush Palette

Giveaway: Stila Love at First Blush Palette

I purchased this Stila Love At First Blush palette a while ago and just never got around to using it, so I wanted to give it away to someone who will. I thought right now would be the perfect time since Valentine’s Day is just around the corner.

You can enter by filling out the Rafflecopter form below.

Good Luck!

****This giveaway is open internationally and will close on February 4, 2015 at 11:59 PM****

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, January 19, 2015

Sephora Haul + Mini Reviews

Sephora Haul
I’m on the search for a hand cream that will actually hydrate and protect my hands during the dry winter months. I’ve tried many products over the years and still haven’t found a miracle hand care product. After trying out what the drugstore has to offer, I ventured to Sephora’s website and ordered a few products that I’ve been curious about. I’ve included mini reviews below on the ones I have tried so far.
(clockwise from left to right)
1. Jack Black Industrial Strength Hand Healer – This is a sample tube that I got using the promo code YOURGIFT. I may consider purchasing the full size version of this hand cream in the future because it really is amazing. It leaves my hands feeling hydrated and protected without any greasiness. The smell is a bit medicinal but it fades quickly. Even though the full size tube is a bit pricey, I think it would last a long time since a little goes a long way with this product.
2. Tocca Beauty Crema da Mano Hand Cream in Cleopatra – I decided to try out this product because it had good reviews on the Sephora site and it was only $10. It has a pleasant clean citrus scent, but I have not tried the product yet since I’m still working on the Jack Black sample.
3. Sephora Collection Bunette in Brown – This is the second bunette that I have ordered. The first time I ordered one I was sent the blonde version instead. I tried it anyway and was so impressed. I have very fine, medium-length hair with layers. I could never get the donut bun makers to work and gave up on wearing my hair in buns until a friend with a similar hair type suggested that I try a bunette. Even with the blonde version there was no bunette showing and it was so easy to use (it worked on one try unlike the donut!). It lasted all day and I only needed one hair pin to hold everything together. With the donut, I needed about 10. I ordered a bunette in brown this time around just in case Sephora discontinues them at some point. If you have hair like mine and have trouble making buns, I recommend trying this out; they are only $5 right now!
4. First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream – This is a repurchase for me. I mentioned this product in my Skin Care Routine post. Basically, I use it as a neck cream to hydrate and to calm eczema and irritation. I have been using it for almost a year and the skin on my neck is now flawless. Before I started using it, I wore scarves indoors because I was embarrassed by the blotchy red inflammation on my neck. Needless to say, I recommend this if you are still searching for something to keep eczema under control.
5. Lavanila The Healthy Deodorant – I ordered the travel size version of this product in the Pure Vanilla scent. I have been using it for a couple weeks. Since it’s winter, I can’t really tell how well it will work during the hot summer months. So far, I think it works well and I like that it is free of harsh chemicals.
6. L'Occitane The Secret To Beautiful Hands Ornament – I have been wanting to try out this company’s hand care products, so I ordered this item from the holiday line because it was less expensive than ordering a tube from the regular line containing the same amount of product (1 oz.). I will try this out once I have finished my Jack Black sample.
7. Living Proof Prime Style Extender – This is one of the three free samples that I received with my order. I have not tried it yet but I really like other products from the Living Proof line, especially the Perfect Hair Day shampoo and conditioner.
8. Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush in Fearless – I chose this sample because I love the Tarte blushes and use them daily. This shade gives my pale skin the most beautiful, delicate pink flush. It is very pigmented though so I have to be careful with it.
9. Stella McCartney Stella Fragrance – I had trouble choosing a third sample so I opted for this one to give to my mom since she likes fragrance samples. This fragrance contains notes of rose, peony flower, mandarin, rose absolute, and amber.
Have you tried any of these products? What are your thoughts on them? What is the best hand care product that you have tried?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Best Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Best oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

Recently, I came across my grandma’s recipe box and found all the handwritten recipe cards that she used to follow when making some of our favourite desserts. I decided to honour her by trying to recreate some of her recipes. 

The first recipe I pulled out of the box was her oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe. I have eaten so many of these cookies over the years and I never get tired of them. They are so rich, satisfying, and easy to make. My version turned out very similar to hers despite the fact that her recipe cards are not detailed and require a bit of research and guessing. I doubt she even used the cards while baking and just kept them in case any of us wanted to make her recipes in the future. I’m glad she did!

Recipe

Ingredients:
3/4 cup butter or margarine, melted and cooled (I used butter)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (I use a combination of regular size and mini chocolate chips)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Using a mixer on medium speed, cream together the first six ingredients until light and creamy.
3. In a small bowl, mix flour and baking soda. Add to the wet ingredients and beat on low speed until just combined.
4. Stir in oats and chocolate chips. 
5. Place tablespoons of dough on a greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet about two inches apart. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the edges turn a light golden brown. Do not over bake.
6. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for two minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
Makes approximately 36-40 cookies.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Nail Art: Winter Floral Nails



Florals in the winter? Why not! After all, nature’s in style year round; it just shows its beauty in different shades of colour when the weather gets cold.

I was inspired to create this look after realizing that Julep’s polish in Erin wasn’t the shade that I expected it to be. It didn’t really complement my skin tone, so I decided to transform it into something more wearable by adding a white floral overlay.

For the base of this look, I applied two coats of Julep Erin. Next, I used Konad’s White Special polish to stamp on a floral design from the image plate m65. It’s been quite some time since I last created stamping nail art. I’ve been so busy that I usually just paint my nails a solid colour. Creating this nail look reminded me of how much I miss adding designs to my nails.

I was very impressed with this nail look and felt more comfortable wearing the Julep polish after adding a flower design. The combination of the grey and white gave the look a very vintage wintry feel that was cozy yet chic.

What are your thoughts on this nail look? Would you wear floral patterns on your nails in the winter?

Monday, January 5, 2015

Nail Look: Sweet Winter Frost


Some winters I get into a dark polish rut and spend months wearing polishes in shades of deep plum and rich berry. While these colours are very pretty and festive, sometimes it’s nice to honour the season by drawing inspiration from aspects of nature, like snow!
Sometimes I find white nail polishes a bit difficult to work with so I added a little twist to this snow-inspired nail look and used a light pink instead. I wore this iridescent nail look over the winter holidays and received many compliments. I created the look by creating a base with two coats of Butter London’s Teddy Girl, one of my favourite opaque pink crème polishes. Once Teddy Girl was completely dry, I used a makeup sponge to dab a light layer of Essie’s Shine of the Times on the lower half of my nail. This flaky glitter is very subtle, so I was still able to wear this polish to work.
Not only is this look great for the winter, it’s also a nice year-round wedding look for a bride, wedding party member, or a guest.
What do you think of this pink snow-inspired nail look? Is it something you would wear in the winter?

NOTD: Julep Erin

I received Julep Erin in the September 2014 Julep Maven Boho Glam box. It’s described by Julep as an oyster grey crème. I chose this specific box because, on the Julep site, this shade appeared to be a light grey with lilac undertones. In person, Erin is actually very greenish.

To be honest, I would not have purchased this colour had I known that it was not the colour I was expecting. While very pretty, it’s just not a great colour to complement my skin tone because it tends to highlight the veins in my hands which normally are not very noticeable. If you have very pale, cool-toned skin, this shade may not be the one for you.

That said, I did enjoy how this creamy grey polish applied very smoothly and was opaque in two coats. It also dried fairly quickly to a very shiny finish. I like how the shade is modern and chic for fall and winter.

Overall, while I may not reach for this colour often, I think that it could be the perfect everyday shade for those with darker or warmer skintones.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

December 2014 Beauty Box Five


The December 2014 Beauty Box Five features products to help us feel relaxed and refreshed during this busy time of year. The products are meant to encourage us to take a few minutes to pamper ourselves and maintain a bright complexion all December long. If you are unfamiliar with Beauty Box Five, it is a subscription service that sends its members five cosmetic samples each month. The service is open to those in Canada and the USA, and subscriptions start at $12 per month. The best part is that shipping is free!
The brands that Beauty Box Five works with are also very impressive (see them all HERE).
Now let’s talk about the December items…

1. Lucky Brand Lucky Number 6 | Retail: $15.99-$60.00 – This first sample is a fragrance featuring notes of lotus, tiger lily, cashmere woods, and jasmine. While I normally prefer sweet scents over florals, I really like this scent. It’s not a strong overpowering floral but more of a light, sweeter floral that’s perfect for winter.
2. Absolute! New York Nail Polish Remover Pads | Retail:  $2.99 for 32 Pads – I love these mini nail polish remover pads. They are perfect for travel and have a fresh lemon scent. This is a full size product.
3. Nanacoco Nail Polish | Retail: $3.95 for 0.5 fl oz – The shade that I received of this glitter polish is called Beatbox and it’s from Nanacoco’s Sprinkle of Color line. This is a full size bottle. I will be saving this pretty glitter for an upcoming giveaway that will feature multiple glitter polishes. Look out for that post if you are interested in winning glitter polishes!

4. Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Moisturizer | Retail: $65 for $1.7 oz – Although this is my least favourite item in this month’s box, that’s only because I have very sensitive skin and am not usually interested in trying new skincare products. That said, this product does sound wonderful with its organic, antioxidant-rich plant and fruit oils formula that helps reduce wrinkles, combat sun damage, and hydrate skin. I will pass this on to my mom.
5. Jaqua Bath & Body Rose Bouquet Facial Mist | Retail: $16.50 for 15 ml – I think this is my favourite product in this month’s box. I use rose water on my face daily after showering to hydrate and calm redness. I’m looking forward to trying this brand’s version of rose water. As an added bonus, this is a full size product!
Overall, I am very happy with the December 2014 box from Beauty Box Five. In fact, it may be the most impressive box that I have received this year. The three full size products more than pay for the box and I will get a lot of use out of the majority of the items. I’m looking forward to next month’s box and can’t wait to see what Beauty Box Five has in store for 2015!
*Although the products mentioned in this post were sent for review purposes, all opinions expressed are honest and are my own*