Monday, 5 August 2019

July No Spend Challenge: Results

Hello lovely readers! I hope everyone had a fabulous month of July. It really flew by for me! I'm back to report on how my first ever no spend-challenge went. I started off strong, but did end up spending a lot on fast food for the second half of the month... I'll have to try harder to be good next time!
I began the month with a strong resolve, and actually cancelled one of my beauty subscription boxes to save some money. My friend invited me to go get a pedicure, and after initially saying yes, I changed my mind and declined her offer. Why spend $40.00 on a pedicure when I can do one myself at home for free? I was doing great until mid-month... that's when some unfortunate events happened that caused me to spend money. I turned on the wrong burner on the stove. I had left a burner cover and a pot warmer on that burner, and they made a lot of scary black smoke as they burned. There were no actual flames, but the amount of smoke freaked me out so I used my fire extinguisher to put it out. Therefore, I had to buy a new fire extinguisher...Which counts as essential, but it was not exactly in the budget! Simon also dropped our glass French press, and it cracked. I bought a new stainless steel one (clumsy fiance proof!). It was a great deal on Amazon, but also, not in the budget.

Near the end of the month, something really exciting happened regarding Square Lemon: we secured a new location! The end of the month was spent working hard to get our new building polished up and ready for our grand opening on August 3. I was very busy going to our new building every evening after work, and grabbed fast food on the way there with my friend Steph. We definitely enable each other with fast food... Dairy Queen and Little Caesar's are some of our top guilty pleasures!

All in all I'm proud of myself for my willpower at the beginning of the month (cancelling a makeup subscription is kind of a big deal to a beauty blogger!). Next time I do a no-spend challenge, I'll have to be more organized so I avoid grabbing so much fast food. You never know how busy life will get, so if I have a bunch of pre-made frozen meals ready to go, it will save me a few bucks.

Thanks for reading! xo

Saturday, 15 June 2019

July No Spend Challenge

Hello lovelies! I decided to try a no spend challenge for the month of July. Lately I've been finding myself tempted by clothing sales, and I'm also guilty of treating myself to coffees when I can simply make one at home. I have some credit card debt I'd like to pay off by the end of the year, and I'd also like to build my emergency fund. A no spend challenge will definitely help with those goals.

I'm not sure that I'll be able to go a WHOLE MONTH without spending anything, but by tracking my spending each day, it will make me much more aware. I'll think twice about stopping at Starbucks on the way home! Let's see how many no-spend days I can manage to accomplish.

What tricks do you use to save money? Have you ever done a no spend challenge before? Let me know how it went! I'll be updating you at the end of July with how I did.

Wish me luck! xo

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Welcome June! Life Update

Hello lovely readers! How is everyone? Can you believe it's already June? Half of 2019 is done! I wanted to give you a little life update. So far this year, a lot of amazing opportunities have blossomed for me and I'm so thankful. I'm making 2019 a year of growth and accomplishments!

The first thing I'd like to mention is Square Lemon. If you follow me on my other social media channels, you might have heard me mention it. In March, after a few casual meetings, me and four other awesome ladies founded Square Lemon, an artistic non-profit aimed at celebrating local artists, makers and crafters in Ottawa. We organize craft markets, workshops, as well as private events. It's been a lot of work, but so fun! Square Lemon has really pushed me out of my comfort zone. Melanie from 1 year ago would have been far too shy to pursue this kind of venture. I'm thrilled with everything we've accomplished so far! Check out our website if you want to learn more here.
The second thing I'm excited to announce is that after 12 years of procrastinating, I finally went and got my driver's license! I put it off for so long because my fear of failure held me back. As a child, I used to have nightmares that I'd be alone in a car sitting in the front passenger's seat. Suddenly the car would start and I'd panic not knowing what to do! I let a silly childhood fear hold me back from even trying to get my license... so this year I decided that I'm not letting insecurities hold me back any longer. After studying on and off since April, I passed my G1 exam on June 1. I've signed up for a beginner's driving course in July. I'm very positive about it, but if ever it goes horribly wrong and I decide driving really isn't for me, at least I'll be able to say I tried!
You might have also seen via my other social media channels that I got engaged to Simon at the end of April! We've been dating for a total of 11 years, and as all long term relationships go, we went through our share of ups and downs. In December, we had a heart to heart and decided that it would make our relationship that much more special to actually tie the knot. Simon didn't wait too long to surprise me with his proposal! He look me for a nice stroll downtown and popped the question. Afterwards, we had dinner at a lovely fine-dinning restaurant, Beckta. We've slowly been looking at wedding venues, and are aiming for a small, cozy wedding in September 2020. I will be writing some wedding inspired blog posts in the near future, so stay tuned.

I just turned 29 on Sunday and spent the weekend relaxing in Quebec City with my best girlfriends. Looking back to the Melanie of 1 year ago, I'm proud to say I'm now a much more confident and zen version of myself.

Thanks for reading friends. Here's to many more accomplishments! xo

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Avon Crave Lip Gloss: Review and Swatches

Hello lovely readers! I've been meaning to get this review up for weeks... better late than never, right?

When I saw the new Avon Crave Lip Glosses in the catalog a few months ago, they really caught my eye. They have seriously ADORABLE packaging! Each tube contains 0.3 fl oz so they are small. I'm actually okay with that, because I feel like I will actually finish them up! They are the perfect size to pop into my purse (and my desk drawer at work). The formula is a tiny bit sticky, but that's lip gloss for you. The colors show up pretty opaque on the swatches because I put on a big glob. On my lips, the result is a more subtle wash of color with incredible shine and shimmers. What really sets these lip glosses apart for me is their decadent scent. They are just so fun! I picked up French Toast, Peach Bellini and Birthday Cake out of the 12 flavors available. I almost picked up Pumpkin Latte (because, duh, pumpkin lattes are life), but decided to try French Toast instead since I thought it was quite an original flavor. It ended up being my favorite out of the three. The color is just stunning!

The Avon Crave Lip Gloss is definitely a hit in my book! What's been your fave lip gloss lately? Thanks for stopping by! xo

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Eyeko London Lash Alert Mascara

Hello lovelies, and happy Sunday. I received a trial size of the Eyeko London Lash Alert mascara in my February Ipsy bag. I'm always very stocked to receive mascaras. I love to try new ones, and how cute is the concept of mascara in a tube?
The Eyeko London Lash Alert mascara contains caffeine and fibers, so it really gave my lashes a lift. Anything involving caffeine is a yes in my book! The curved brush works great to curl the lashes during the application process, by pressing the brush at their base. This is a tip I got from the card that came with the Ipsy bag. It's a great idea I never thought about! The trial size I received contains 2 ml of product. The full size mascara contains 8 ml and retails for $26.00 USD, so it qualifies as a high-end mascara. I usually stick to drugstore brands, but I would consider shelling out the extra cash for this one just because it's a really unique concept!

What is your go-to mascara? Thanks for reading! xo

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Trip to Cayo Santa María, Cuba

Hello lovely friends! I just arrived home yesterday evening from my first ever trip outside of Canada. Simon and I went to Meliá las Dunas, a gorgeous all-inclusive resort in Cayo Santa María, Cuba. It was Simon's first time leaving Canada, too. We chose Cuba for our first trip since we heard it was safe, and very beautiful. We had a SPECTACULAR time. It was a much needed peaceful break from our busy lives. The wifi in Cuba isn't very good, and I did not get a data plan with my phone so it was a nice break from social media as well. Sometimes it's good to completely disconnect!

Cayo Santa María is an island separated mainland Cuba. Here you can faintly see El Pedraplén, the highway across the Atlantic ocean that connects Cayo Santa María to the mainland. It is 57.3 km long and really fun to travel across! 

 The beach was beyond beautiful. We have some nice beaches in Ontario, but nothing beats the ocean.
 We stayed in building 71 of the resort. I really liked the way Meliá las Dunas is set out. There are two separate sections, one for adults only, and the other for families. There are multiple small buildings each containing two dozen rooms, so you don't feel like everyone is all crowded together. The hotel is pretty quiet as well, definitely not a "spring-break party" type of resort, which we really did not want. 

 We got a bit tanned and a bit sunburned... oops! 
 The resort has a separate pool for adults only, connected to a bar. There are bar stools under the water!
 Cuban cola-this stuff is really good! It contains much less sugar than colas in Canada.
 This is my favorite photo from the trip. I was so excited to see palm trees in person. I took this photo at dusk, and something about it is so dreamy.
 Cubans know good coffee! Their cappuccinos were awesome.
 We went on an excursion to Remedios, a colonial town located close to the northern coast of the mainland. This town has 2 churches located in it's main square. Here is the Igesia Mayor of San Juan Bautista which is known for it's gold altars in the next photo.

 Here is some detailing from the ceiling, made of mahogany wood.
 Here is the parque Martí in the central square. The Igesia Mayor of San Juan Bautista is on the left, mostly hidden by trees.
 The bust of Jose Martí, a national hero.
 A stray doggo in the park. The strays are fed by locals so it's not as bad as it sounds.
 Above is the second church in the Remedios central square: Iglesia del Buen Viaje. According to a legend, some travelers brought a statue of the Virgin they found at sea to a black man living at a house where the church is currently located. The man gave the Virgin to the church the next day, but somehow the Virgin kept coming back to the man's house by itself. The people in the town decided to build a second church on the location of the man's house because of this.
Remedios even has it's own Statue of Liberty! 
On the left you can see a bicitaxi. Because Remidios is a 16th century town, many roads are too narrow for cars to pass. Bicycles and horses must be used to get around. We had a ride on a bicitaxi and it was quite fun. 
Here is a street we passed during our bicitaxi ride.

We weren't the bravest and spent most of our time on the resort except for our short excursion to Remedios. In the future, we would love to visit more towns to get a more cultural experience. The Cubans are some of the friendliest people ever, and that's coming from a Canadian ;)

Where are you traveling to next? Thanks for reading! xo

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Yes Oh Yas Beauty Subcription: First Impressions

Hello lovelies! I recently signed up for Yes Oh Yas, a monthly beauty subscription. It includes 3-7 full size (!) products, valued over $70. Yes Oh Yas costs $14.99 a month, plus $9.50 shipping to Canada. Shipping to the US is cheaper, at $3.99. The products come in a pretty holographic silver bubble envelope, with extra bubble wrap to protect the more fragile items. I want to share my first impressions on the February 2019 package with you. Here are the products I received:
 From top, clockwise:
-Beauty Creations Emerald Eyeshadow Palette
-Bang Beauty Lip Crayon in Dangerous
-JCat Cosmetics Wholly Addiction Eyeliner in Bronze Shimmer
-Kokie Cosmetics Velvet Smooth Eyeliner in 526 Eggplant
-Inmo Concealer Brush
 -Inmo Angled Brush
-Inmo Crease Brush
Here is the card that came with the February package. I love keeping these cards!

Above are swatches of both the eyeliners and the lip crayon.
Here are some swatches from the Emerald Palette. I love the shimmery shades.
Here is a look I created using the Beauty Creations Emerald Eyeshadow Palette, the JCat Cosmetics Wholly Addiction Bronze Shimmer Eyeliner, and the Bang Beauty Dangerous Lip Crayon

I'd like to start by saying that brushes are a great item to receive in a beauty subscription. I can never get enough brushes! I used all three of the Inmo brushes to create the above look, and they did an excellent job. I especially love the Crease Brush. It's perfect for applying darker eyeshadow to the inner corners of my eyes. The Beauty Creations Emerald Palette has a huge mirror, and the lovely colors remind me fall. The Kokie Cosmetics Velvet Smooth Eyeliner in 526 Eggplant is true to it's name: it is very velvety! The JCat Cosmetics Wholly Addiction Eyeliner in Bronze Shimmer is also very smooth, and the lovely bronze color is something I can wear on a daily basis. I'm not normally a fan of lip crayons, but the Bang Beauty Dangerous Lip Crayon is so fun to wear. It glides on so nicely. I'm just not sure if the red color suits me.

My February package only arrived on March 7. However, I'm very pleased with the products I received. The wait was worth it! Overall I'm very happy I signed up for Yes Oh Yas. If you are interested in signing-up yourself, please click here.

What is your favorite product to receive in a beauty subscription? Thank you for reading! xo

*Disclaimer: I am a brand ambassador of Yes Oh Yas. If you sign-up using the above link, I will receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you.

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Yes To Tomatoes Charcoal Mask

Hello lovely readers and happy March 2019! I'm very pleased that we have arrived in March. Spring is on the way, and my holiday to Cuba is fast approaching. I wanted to share my thoughts on the Yes To Tomatoes Detoxifying Charcoal Mud Mask. This was the first Yes To product I've ever used. I've heard many great things about Yes To, and I'm always a fan of charcoal skin care products. When the adorable packaging of this mask caught my eye, I decided to give it a go.
The mask has a lovely woodsy scent that makes me feel like I'm at a spa... seriously, I would re-purchase this mask for the scent alone! The mask has a thick, creamy consistency, and felt cool on my face when it was first applied. It contains salicylic acid as well as charcoal, so it works great for those pesky breakout days around my time of the month. Once the mask had dried (after about 10 minutes), my skin was left feeling very tight. The mask washed off easily and the final result was fresh, baby soft skin. 

Have you ever tried this mask or any other Yes To products? What were your thoughts? Thanks for stopping by! xo

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

7 Years of Blogging

Hello lovely readers! Today is my blog's 7th blogiversary! I made a banana blueberry chocolate cake to celebrate. It was my first time using my bundt pan, and the cake came out super moist.

I figure that my blogiversary is a perfect time to give you a little life update. In last year's blogiversary post, I mentioned that I was taking a break from YouTube. I actually started posting videos again since October 2018. I definitely needed a break, but I'm happy to be making videos again. You can check out my channel here if you're interested.

2019 has been really exciting so far. Simon and I finally got around to getting our passports, and we have a trip to Cuba coming up in the spring! It will be my first time on a plane, and my first time leaving the country. I've been doing a lot of shopping for my trip, including some fun swimsuits and a really flashy suitcase (I want to be able to find it quickly at the airport). I will be doing a trip haul on my YouTube channel soon!

I also purchased a driver's handbook so I can begin the process of getting my driver's licence. I never bothered with it before because it's not really necessary to own a car the city I live in. I get around just fine with public transportation. To be honest, as a child I use to have nightmares of being in a car alone, and the car suddenly starting by itself... and I would wake up panicked! Some of my friends have been bugging me about getting my license for a long time, "just in case" I would need it. Simon has his full licence, but we don't have a car yet since it's bad for the environment, and gas and parking are super expensive. I thought about it a lot and it's true that it would be good to have my licence. You never know. I'm going to at least give it a try! I'm still planning on taking public transportation even if we do get a car in the future, since I'm cheap ;)

As far as my blog goes, I'm hoping to continue posting FOREVER!! Haha, we'll see. I'm still enjoying it for the time being :) I will have a post with photos from my trip, so keep an eye out for that.

Here's to 7 years!! Thanks for reading! xo

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Dove Derma + Care Scalp Anti Dandruff Shampoo

Hi loves! I have a problem with dry hair and dandruff in the winter months. My scalp was itchy and very flaky last winter, and I was able to fix the problem with an intensive hair mask treatment. Since the beginning of January this year, my itchiness and dandruff has unfortunately come back. I wanted to try something other than the Head and Shoulders anti dandruff shampoo, since I found it wasn't really working for me anymore (hence the hair mask treatment). After a quick Google search I learned about the new Dove Derma + Care Scalp Anti Dandruff Shampoo. I have tried a few Dove hair products in the past and I've been very pleased with them (the Dove dry shampoo is awesome!), so I figured their anti dandruff shampoo should be good as well. Let me tell you, it made a world of difference after only 1 use!
I used this shampoo for the first time two weeks ago, and I was really impressed by how quickly it worked. The bottle says to leave the shampoo on for 'several minutes'. I decided to leave it on for a full 25 minutes while I soaked in the tub, just to let it really penetrate my scalp. I then rinsed it out and used a regular conditioner I had. My scalp was immediately relived, and I had ZERO visible dandruff the next day! My hair was left feeling soft, smooth, and smelling very fresh. Since then, I've been using this shampoo every other time I wash my hair, alternating with a regular Dove shampoo. The Dove Derma + Care Scalp Anti Dandruff Shampoo will be my go-to shampoo for winter from now on!

What are you favorite anti dandruff shampoos/treatments? Thanks for reading! xo

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Love Beauty and Planet Murumuru Butter & Rose 2 Minute Magic Masque

Hello lovelies! I'm excited to be writing my first post of the year! I wanted to share my thoughts on the Love Beauty and Planet Murumuru Butter & Rose 2 Minute Magic Masque. I've been experimenting with different hair colors and venturing into bleaching my hair at home since last fall (I went half blonde in October, and I'm currently strawberry blonde!). Needless to say, my hair has suffered a bit of damage, especially my ends. In November, I picked up the Love Beauty and Planet Murumuru Butter & Rose Masque at Walmart on a whim after seeing an advertisement for the brand in a magazine. I can't say that the cute packaging didn't suck me in as well! This little packet has already given me 4 uses, and I think I can probably get 2 more from it. The masque has a rose scent, but it's not heavy or overwhelming like some rose scents are. The fragrance is actually quite refreshing and light, and lasts in my hair until my next hair wash (I usually wash it every other day). Other than the amazing fragrance, this masque also leaves my hair feeling much softer and healthier looking. I really like its smooth and creamy consistency. It's super easy to apply, versus other hair masques I've tried which were much thicker.
The Love Beauty and Planet brand is committed to producing less waste, and uses 100% recycled plastic for their packaging. Their products are vegan and cruelty free as well! I will definitely purchase this masque again and I would like to try more products from the brand.

Thanks for stopping by! xo