Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thursday Thoughts #13 | Halloween

Happy Thinking Out Loud Thursday!

How is it every single year I think I'm not going to dress up for Halloween or that I have a costume in mind, and somehow a few days before I have a major crisis and have no idea what I'm doing? I just don't even know.

But it's that time of year again and Halloween is tomorrow (EEP) and roommate and I are doing some crazy last minute costume shopping this morning, since we both had a physiology midterm last night and haven't the spirit to tear ourselves away from our books for long enough to put costumes together.

In discussing all this last night, this video somehow came up, and it has some pretty funny moments...men in ladybug costumes, anyone?


But in all honesty, I'll probably end up throwing something simple together for the evening tomorrow, and then crawl back in bed when all my friends start hitting up the nightclubs because I'm a grandma like that and would much prefer a quiet, cozy night in over a loud, boozy one out, any day of the week. Plus I've been neglecting this blog just a wee more than I'd like to, so some catching up is in order.

I'm clearly living college life to its fullest, with my wild nights in with Netflix and hot chocolate...


Monday, October 27, 2014

High Street Retail Therapy

high street haul

Am I allowed to use the term "high street" if I'm not from the UK? No? Sounds good. It seems more inclusive than "drugstore" though, as the term seems to include more affordable clothing shops too.

Technicalities aside, I've been picking up a few basic bits and bobs over the past week or two as a little retail therapy after each of my midterms (it's a problem, I know), and I thought I would share them here!

Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm in 225 Sultry
I already raved about this and it has its very own blog post, so I'll keep it short. Let's just say that I have a new daily staple for the upcoming autumn/winter months.

Simple Revitalizing Eye Roll-On
I'm not sure I'm 100% sold on the somewhat watery formula, but the cool metal rollerball feels amazing under the eyes in the mornings to de-puff & refresh.

Simple Soothing Facial Toner

I've been using this nightly for a few days now and I can't say I've seen any astounding results yet, but the toner is light and refreshing, and doesn't leave any residue or anything, which is a plus. I also like that it has witch hazel to tone and tighten things up a bit.

Dove Refresh+Care Invigorating Dry Shampoo
I actually have yet to give this a go but picked it up on a whim while I was browsing at Target - I've seen mixed reviews, so we'll see how it goes down.

Forever 21 Nail Polish in Beige Oatmeal
I can't find this colour on the website, but it's a nude-y beige-y pink-y shade, and I needed something more neutral in my collection of wildly vibrant pinks, blues, and purples. I never quite outgrew that pink metallic polish phase...anyway, the colour went on nicely after two coats, and with a coat of Seche Vite on top, stayed chip-free for around four or five days - not bad for $3.80! And that brings me to...

Seche Vite
I'm pretty sure I'm the last blogger on the planet to own a bottle of this, mostly because I was still hanging on to my Essie No Chips Ahead top coat, but I saw this on sale a few weeks ago and snagged it. THIS STUFF IS INCREDIBLE. Hello glossy, perfect, chip-free nails...

H&M White Tee
I've been in the market for the perfect slouchy white tee for a while now, and I think I've found it! I love how loose and flowy this top is, it's the perfect length for either tucking in or leaving loose (or tucking in half and leaving the other loose for an effortlessly cool I-don't-care vibe) and the breast pocket adds just the right amount of detail. Love love love.

Forever 21 Black V-Neck Cardigan
Another basic I've been needing to pick up. Just a lightweight, universally wearable black cardigan for throwing on top of dresses or pairing with jeans for a casual day out.

Champion Reversible Leggings
The only pair of capri leggings I own right now are black & go just little transparent when I bend anything on my lower half - which is fine when I'm sweating it out with some HIIT or yoga in my bedroom, but not so great for going to the gym or yoga classes. When I saw these on sale at Target (mine are grey with a light blue band - I adore the colours) I snapped them up, and they've been holding up reasonably well since.

3 lb. Hand Weights
And finally, some pretty purple weights that I want to start incorporating into some quick at-home exercises I can do whenever the mood strikes me, in the comfort of my own bedroom. The colour is handy as the purple just makes me want to run over and pick them up whenever I spot them in the corner.

That's it for the high street haulin' I've been doing over the past few weeks! Have you been indulging in any retail therapy recently?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Life in Pictures #4 | Midterm Munchies

It's time for another Life in Pictures, where I share an incredibly random assortment of pictures from the past two weeks of my life, and leave the bulk of the explaining up to you guys!

This month I have the pleasure of co-hosting the link-up with Linda from Fit, Fed and Happy - so go ahead and add your own links, and be sure to check out what everyone else has been up to these past two weeks.

My university education, ladies & gentlemen.


Is it bad that I use shiny new things as motivation?

When it's midnight during midterm season after an extremely stressful day...

...the roommate & I do wild things.
An attempt to balance things out a bit.

You can never have enough university swag...right?

Just a casual Quidditch practice...

I fear for my life every time I go through here.

HI YES I NEED THIS NOW PLEASE THANKS.

And we all know I still can't get enough of the autumn foliage.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The "Backne" Solution



I've been through a few ups and many downs with the oh-so-lovely spots on my shoulder and upper back over the years. I don't know if it's just me, but I haven't found a whole ton of products out there targeted specifically for body acne, many of the ones that do exist haven't worked for me. Benzoyl peroxide has been one thing that's consistently cleared things up, but after staining a few too many pillowcases, bedsheets, and t-shirts, I decided not to go back to it.

Since then, I've tried things from home remedies to exfoliating pads to body washes, but nothing's really turned up the same results - until now. Back at the beginning of the summer I picked up the Murad Body Acne Wash and more recently the corresponding Murad Clarifying Body Spray, and it's high time I chatted about them.

The products are meant to be used together for maximal effect, but I was really unwilling to shell out $80 in one go, and decided to give the body wash a try on its own. I saw moderate results, but nothing that something like Neutrogena couldn't give me for a fraction of the price. About halfway through my tube of Murad body wash, I caved and ordered the matching body spray - and boy, did it ever make a difference. For the first time in over a year my back is more or less clear again, with the occasional bump or two, and it's just so much more comfortable for me not to have to constantly be worried or annoyed by the redness and tenderness going on back there.

The wash is a blue gel, and you can work it up to a good lather. I squeeze just a tiny dollop onto a long-handled loofa, and then gently scrub my entire back and shoulders, and my chest just for good measure. I use this every night in the shower, but only on the areas that tend to break out - I use a regular old shower gel everywhere else. The 8.5 oz tube actually lasts a good while when used daily, but sparingly - I've had it for around four months now, and still have maybe a quarter to a third of the product left, which makes it almost worth the price tag.

After stepping out of the shower, I give my entire upper back and shoulders a good spray with the clarifying body spray, which has some magical mystifying packaging that allows you to hold the bottle at whatever angle you want (including upside down!) to get into all of the normally hard-to-reach areas you need to. It has menthol, which gives a wonderful cooling sensation as it dries. Both products have salicylic acid for exfoliation and blemish control.

I do find that the spray is a bit tacky for a while afterwards, which is sometimes annoying as I have to keep my wet hair off my back and have to wait a while before I can put on a proper shirt. I also have no idea how long the spray will last, as the packaging is really strange in that you honestly have no way of telling how much product is left - the bottle is opaque, there's no removable lid or top, and when you shake it, you can't hear or feel any liquid inside. It's witchcraft. Despite this though, and the fact that like I said before, each of these products is around $40, I know I'll be repurchasing both when I run out. They do a good job and last a long while (the body wash, at least), and having struggled with the insecurities that come with "backne" for almost half of my life I'm honestly down for anything that will clear that up.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Perfect Daily Lip





Guys, I've found it...it being the perfect daytime dusky brownish-berry pink lip. Is that a good enough description for you? It comes in the form of the Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm in 225 Sultry, and it was love at first swatch. I love a bold lip and this colour is just deep enough to add some oomph, but isn't so bright or vampy that I get weird looks walking from class to class...and we all know I don't have enough of a social life to actually get the chance to sport a vampy lip on a night out very often. It's a great colour coming into the cooler months, and I really do think it would be flattering on most skin tones.

The fact that it's in crayon form also makes it ridiculously easy to apply, and to get lines as clean or lived-in as you'd like. Just line the lips with the tip, then go in with the side and fill the rest in. Once it goes on it's slightly sheeny (but just the way I like - not too shiny or glossy), and you can leave it like that if you want. I just take a tissue and gently blot it down so it really is matte, though, and it lasts all day. Even after eating and drinking and doing lord knows what else to my face and forgetting that I'm wearing lip colour at all, I return to the mirror after a day out and about and the colour is still right where I put it. As a general rule, touch-ups during the day are just too much of a hassle for me, and it's incredibly difficult to find a bathroom that actually has lighting that doesn't make you want to hide your face from the world for the rest of forever, so anything that actually stays on my face all day is A+ with me.

I love how it comfortable it is to wear, too. I find that a lot of matte lip products, and even just lipsticks in general, can be really drying on the lips - I can feel it throughout the day, as well as in the aftermath with chapped and dry lips. This glides on so smoothly though before setting in place for the day, and feels super hydrating. Again, when I'm wearing it, I tend to kind of just forget it's there rather than constantly thinking about and being aware of the fact that there's something sucking the moisture out of my lips, or being constantly wary of ending up with lipstick on my nose or some other inexplicable area. Don't laugh, it's happened...don't ask me how.

This will definitely be a day-to-day staple for me for the forseeable future - the colour, application, and formula just tick all the boxes for me.

What lip colours have you been running to daily this season?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Easy Eats | Veggie Quinoa

quinoa

I never really learned how to cook. I've been pampered by my parents all my life and never really had much of an interest or skill in food preparation beyond instant ramen and chocolate chip cookies. Even last year, when I moved to the other side of the country to start university away from home, I was taken care of with my meal plan.

Now that I'm in an apartment off-campus, though, I've needed to begin broadening my horizons. While eating instant ramen seven days a week is tempting, it's probably not that good for me (read: all the sodium and other crap in those little seasoning packets, while delicious, are absolutely awful health-wise), so I've dipped my toe into the adult world by trying out a few new recipes and wanted to share and document that adventure because hey, it's a big step into the real world for me! Also so that in a few months when my exam-frazzled brain is racking itself trying to think of things to eat, it'll have something to reference.

I'm not quite ready to work with meat yet (urrghhh does anyone like working with raw meat?) so that means that I've been looking for other sources of protein in my day-to-day diet, namely in the form of scrambled eggs and peanut butter. Not at the same time. Anyway, I was wandering aimlessly down the grocery store aisle a little while ago when I spotted a box of organic quinoa, and despite having no idea how to cook and otherwise season quinoa in the least, I thought it sounded protein-y and healthy so into the shopping bin it went. I should be a professional nutritionist.

After some hmm-ing and haw-ing and drawing a bit of inspiration from the back of the quinoa box, I finally threw some things together, and the end result was pretty tasty! I just used the vegetables I had available in my scarcely stocked fridge (#collegelyfe), so keep in mind that you can substitute or add whatever you'd like in that department.

quinoa

quinoa

quinoa

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For 3-4 servings, you'll need:

2 cups quinoa
2 sweet red peppers
4 green onion stalks
4 cups spinach (or just a few good handfuls)
2 tablespoons of some kind of oil - I used sunflower
Salt & pepper, and whatever you'd like for seasoning

1. Bring the water to a boil in a small pot. Add the quinoa, then cover the pot and turn the heat down to low. Let that simmer for 15 minutes.

2. While that's happening, heat up the oil in a frying pan, and chop up all your veggies. Turn the heat up to medium-high and stick the veggies in the frying pan. I've never actually fried spinach before so this may be painfully obvious to everyone else, but I swear it just disappears when it gets cooked so if you're using spinach, don't be intimidated by the spinach forest you have going on in your pan for the first few minutes. I totally was.

3. Make sure you give the veggies a little stir and toss every once in a while, and let them fry for about ten minutes.

4. Once the quinoa is done, it should be nice and fluffy and there shouldn't be any excess water in the pot. Dump the quinoa into the pan with the veggies, or dump quinoa + veggies into a bigger mixing bowl if you prefer. Give it all a good toss. Add salt and pepper, and whatever other seasoning you like.

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quinoa

And voila! Veggie quinoa, done. It's so super easy, which is really saying something coming from someone as challenged in the kitchen as I am, and was yummy and filling as well. The best part is that it makes 3-4 servings and you can just pop the leftovers in the fridge, which means that I have food (YAY) for the next few days. Great for midterm season, when I'm reluctant to budge from my desk for more than a few minutes at a time, and if you're cooking for other people as well.

I'm planning on having a few more easy eats up in the next little while as I learn my way around the kitchen so stay posted - and also let me know if you have any suggestions for quick and easy recipes I should try, or that you'd like me to post!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thursday Thoughts #12 | City Sunsets

Happy Thinking Out Loud Thursday!

I have a molecular biology lecture recording playing back at me as I write this. Let's pretend I'm being productive by multitasking.

The sunsets over the past little bit here in Montreal have been insanely gorgeous. I've been out on the tiny balcony of our 14th floor apartment pretty much every evening attempting to capture it - I'm pretty sure everyone in the surrounding apartments has come to know me by this point as the crazy sunset girl who never takes off her sweats.

city sunset

city sunset

city sunset

Our balcony faces east so you can't see the actual sun (boo) but you get the idea.

Like I said before, I've been living in my sweats lately. First of all because I picked up the coziest pair of McGill sweats last week and gotta rep the school while lounging around, and because I've been sat down frantically trying to cram information into my mind pretty much 24/7 for the past week or so, and have barely left the apartment. Some call me a social butterfly. Not.

I'm pretty sure my brain just switched off after my social psych midterm on Tuesday, and it desperately needs to turn back on to prep for bio on Monday.

I may have engaged in a little retail therapy yesterday. I got the guy at NARS counter to do my makeup because why not (also I now need (desperately want even more than I already did) the Sheer Glow Foundation), and got a lil sample of the Estée Lauder Perfectionist foundation to try out. I love hanging around all the counters at the Bay and just lusting after everything in sight...I have way too many high-end products on my wishlist so I settle for sampling things I want to try until I find something I love enough to invest in.

I'm slowly learning how to feed myself! I've pretty much been having apples + nut butter + cheese as a snack and as a meal multiple times a day because I'm too lazy slash cooking-challenged to do much better...but I made quinoa yesterday and it was actually pretty yummy. Go me.

Remember that time I complained about it being 30 degrees outside despite being autumn...yeah, we're going through another muggy heat wave. Only now instead of it being 30 degrees out and hot and sunny, it's 30 degrees out, cloudy, rainy, and humid. Lovely. It's at times like these that I miss the dry Calgary air.

I have the Self-Control app on my MacBook to control the mindless Facebook and Tumblr surfing I do when I don't want to study, but Blogger and Pinterest somehow conveniently manage to get through. It's problematic.

Buuut I'd better get back to the books regardless. I'll talk to y'all soon!