Be right back!

Please bear with me as I go on a short hiatus while I move to my new house!  I can hardly wait as the last few days have involved me tearing my place upside-down and now I'm feeling claustrophobic with my floor space being taken up with boxes and garbage bags.  It's amazing how much stuff you accumulate in a couple of years.  Apparently my family thinks I need enough plates for a full-sized family as I've found multiple unpacked boxes and bags containing extra dishes, cheese plates, something called a "dip cooler" and a flower pot that doubles as a "slow cooker" yet has no lid.  Does anyone know where one may donate kitchenware?

In the meantime while I am offline and occupied, please enjoy some picks from my blog archive:

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Buy or Ditch: Bio-Oil review

The Product
I believe I've blogged about Bio-oil years ago on my old blog which is no longer online, so I feel justified in posting again about this product.  Bio-oil is a skincare product designed to minimize and eliminate stretch marks and scars.  It also claims to even out skin tone and to be used as a deep moisturizing treatment for super dry or aging skin.  For today's post I'll only be commenting on its scar healing abilities.

The Guts
Bio-oil contains a plethora of botanical oils and vitamins.  Each of these taken alone are not uncommon in many moisturizing products, but I guess what Bio-oil is trying to sell us is that all of them combined together and with the addition of their proprietary PurCellin oil, will work better than other products out there.

Key ingredients include:

  • vitamin E (a classic scar reducer) and A
  • Calendula, lavender, rosemary, sunflower and chamomile oils
  • mineral oil

Price & Packaging
This product is very well priced at $15 for a 60 mL bottle. I've had mine for literally forever and have barely scratched the surface, but I imagine after prolonged daily use and depending on how much you are applying, you could eventually work your way through this.  Since I've only used this product on scars, I haven't had to use much.

The packaging is as you can see, a straightforward bottle with a hole in the top.  Simply turn it over and product will come out, which is also the annoying thing about this bottle.  I think this product could really use a better dispenser like an eye dropper system.  Oils are very, well, oily and if you're not careful, you will spill this one all over your hands. Proceed with caution!

I've read a lot of reviews about this product, some good, some bad and I think you have to understand one key fact if you're going to use this product.  Bio-oil is a preventative product.  It will not heal old scars.  I've tried using this oil on my old stretch marks and scars to little effect, but I've had an entirely different experience when I've used this on new scars.

Case in point: last week and a half ago, I burned myself quite badly on the forearm with some cooking oil.  I'll spare you the details of what it looked like (just google "2nd degree burn blisters" if you're a sadist), but my arm had 3 flesh-toned bubbles rising out of itself.  Yes.  Apparently, these bubbles were filled with "healing fluids" to blanket the newly formed skin inside.  All I could do was wait it out and after a few days, they miraculously subsided as my body absorbed itself back into itself, leaving dark scarred patches.

Since the first day my bubbles appeared, I decided to apply Bio-oil 3 times a day, everyday.  I was quite religious about it and applied a penny-sized amount to each scar.  To apply the oil, you should use clean fingers and a gentle massaging motion until the oil is mostly absorbed.  If you take the time to do this, then the rest of the oil will absorb quite readily and you won't have to worry about the oil stains some reviewers have claimed to have.  I sleep with a white duvet and have had no stains at all.

A week later of this regime and I'm pleased to say that my scars now look like this:

Pretty amazing right!

The Verdict
Cheap and effective - if you use it properly - this healing oil will work wonders!

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Summer 2013 essentials

The perfect capsule wardrobe for the summer of 2013: a cropped sweater paired with denim cut-offs or over dresses, a beautiful chiffon dress for dates and weddings, a fun printed blazer for work and play, anything-but-boring metallic flats and a wear everywhere relaxed fit tee. 

This summer I'm feeling strong colors and splashy prints and textures.  It's all about mixing and experimenting this year, so take a girly dress and throw a leather jacket over it, or mix up prints and colors with abandon.  Just remember to anchor yourself with some versatile basics for those days when you just want to throw on a tee and flip-flops before heading to the surf.

  1. TopShop Petite Textured Grunge Jumper, $47
  2. TopShop Chiffon Bodice Skater dress, $187
  3. Zara Printed Cropped Blazer, $119
  4. Zara Metallic Ballerina, $99.90
  5. Conversation Pieces Kicking Around Shabby Tee #2,

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Dream home inspirations

Now that we're getting closer to our move-in date, my nights have been filled with dreams of how to decorate my first home. Unlike all the rented apartments I've lived in, this new house will be the first place that I've had utter control over.  Oh yeah, and I guess Mr. Artist gets some veto power too.

Thank god for Pinterest as I've become obsessed with pinning inspirational decor images and useful DIY tips.  Here are some of the latest looks I'm mulling over from my Pinterest:

The basis, or foundation if you will, of my decor will be this palette of greys.  After living in all stark white homes all my life, I've had a dream of living somewhere with more color.  Unfortunately, Mr. Artist wasn't quite as onboard with the technicolor dream-coat train as me, so I opted instead for these soothing greys.  I think in the end, he made the right call; grey is such a relaxing and versatile color to serve as a blank canvas for any style.  I want our home to be our refuge and somewhere we can rest ourselves after the stresses of work and this palette will do just the trick.

I loooove this kitchen. Absolutely looove it.  The combination of robin egg, white and shiny grey countertops and steel appliances paired with the rich wood floors just all come together in a look that's modern and relaxing.  Minus those horrible stools and that light fixture and this kitchen is just an airy paradise.

On the other hand though, there's something about this darker kitchen that really draws my eye.  I love cozy homes with a cheery amount of clutter and this kitchen has that perfect balance of order and clutter.  A home without clutter is not a home in my opinion and I want a kitchen I can wear ratty Asian-mom slippers in.  I love the deep country style double sink and the butcher-block like counters.  The blinds are a nice touch as well, offering function along with no-fuss style.

For the living room though, I want a mix of comfort and elegance.  The living room is where you host your guests, but it also has to host your family.  I think this living room above is almost at my ideal look with its soft grey walls and splashes of color.  I'm not sure that I'd want yellow as my accent tone, but it's definitely inspiring to see how color is being used in this room. 

When choosing living room decor, I also always have to imagine whether our dog would fit with it.  Anything with fancy embellishments or easily scratched material is a no-go. Couches and chairs have to be sturdy and rugs need to be hair resistant.  Has anyone else ever had to design their furnishings around a pet?

Finally, the funnest thing to shop for when it comes to home decor, are the interest pieces.  Just as in a good outfit, it's the accessories that really make an outfit shine and show off your personality.  I'm really drawn lately to displays made up of similar, but different, pieces like this group of glass vases and re-purposed bottles.  I love the organic feel that the glass, water and branches bring together.  Just sprinkle in a couple tea lights and this look would easily look fantastic in the evening as well!

I hope you've enjoyed my home inspirations!  If you know of any good home decor pinners I should follow, please let me know in the comments!

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Get ready for Summer with Almay Cosmetics!

Last week I was lucky enough to be invited as Sheila's +1 to the exclusive Almay Summer makeup preview, which was held at a charming tea house tucked away in the heart of downtown.  Situated in a Victorian-era house and surrounded by gorgeous Prince Albert teacups, colorful macarons, warm crumpets and delicate smoked salmon sandwiches, I felt like I was surrounded in a giddy cloud of girliness.

As always, the wonderful ladies of Almay know how to host an amazing party and the entire store was split into various stations with attentive hosts eager to tell you about the various products arranged on each table.  There are a ton of new products coming out to Almay this season, from an amazing CC cream, to a rainbow of gorgeous lip colors, shadows, liners and mascaras.  Like every Almay product, they are all formulated for sensitive skin and designed with the modern, no-fuss woman in mind.

Here are a couple of items I'm super eager to try:

These new Color + Care liquid lip balms are part gloss, part moisturizing lip balm.  Available in 9 shades, these glosses contain hydrating avocado oil and vitamin E. Both Sheila and I tried on the purple-ish shade (second from the right) and found it looked natural and very different on each of our lips - on Sheila, it was a natural but better, color, while on me, the purple showed up much more in a mauve-pink tone.

Although not exactly new, Almay's Intense i-color shadows are perennial favourites with their specially customized palettes designed to make your eye color pop.  I've always wondered why brown eye palettes always had purples as I'm much more of a brown shadow fan, but after seeing the Almay MUA work her magic on Sheila with the purples, I'm convinced to try purple for daytime again!

Other highlights from the preview include:

  • Intense i-color voluminizing mascara - this mascara contains eye-brightening crystals to brighten and awaken tired eyes
  • Intense i-color defining liner - similar to the mascara, this liner contains ice crystal pearls and a built-in line smudger on one end.  I've tried out this black liner already and I love it!  The sparkles are subtle and really do make your eyes look a teeny bit brighter compared to matte black
  • Smart Shade powder bronzer - available in 3 shades, these bronzers contain multiple shades in one to provide a more natural glow
  • Smart Shade CC cream - I'm SUPER excited to try this one.  This cream works as a primer, color corrector, tightens pore, diminishes fine lines and promotes a smoother complexion with salicylic acid
Be sure to check out all these products in your local drugstore this summer!

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Girls night out with eShakti

With the warmer weather finally arriving, women everywhere are shucking off their leggings, boots and sweaters for light, springy dresses filled with color, volume and pattern.  I've been eagerly awaiting some decent weather so I could wear out my new spring dress c/o online clothing store, eShakti.

If you like vintage, florals, or retailers like ModCloth, then you will love eShakti's wide selection of dresses, blouses, skirts, and wedding wear - all at very affordable prices.  The really special thing about this online store though is that you can customize each purchase any way you want!  

I've never bought custom-made clothing before, let alone bought custom-made clothing online, so when I was offered the chance to try out the eShakti service, I wasn't sure what to expect.  After perusing the spring dress section, I finally settled on a green number with a braided waist and A-line skirt.  

Once I selected the dress, I was shown the various options I could choose to customize my purchase:

Besides the dress length (I chose knee-length) and neckline (I chose the wide scoop), you can also select whether you want your dress to have pockets, which of course I did! I LOVED how all the options allow you to really make each dress your own, so that even if you and a friend bought the same one, you could make each really unique to you.  Shipping was a breeze with the dress arriving within 2 short weeks all the way from India no less, and the dress quality is a durable, soft cotton.  The color was also true to the photos as was the sizing.

Now to the night out.  My dress was a perfect mix of fancy and casual, which was ideal for a Friday night out eating and strolling the shops with girlfriends.  On this particular night, we had some wonderful Japanese ramen at Santouka.  If you ever come to have ramen in Vancouver, then a stop at Santouka is a must - the special pork here literally melts in your mouth and the food is beautifully presented, which is difficult for what essentially is wet noodles in soup.

Photos by me

After all that salty goodness, we were all craving something sweet, so we finished it off with warm Japanese-style crepes and outfit photos!

Thank you Sheila for the photos!

So what are you waiting for? Go check out eShakti now! Plus, they are having a buy 3 get 1 free sale!

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Getting my banjo on with Mumford & Sons

Although I would never call myself a music nerd, I have to confess that there's just something about music that really really captures my heart, in yes, a completely cheesy way.   I tend to go through phases of brief madness where I will listen to a single band, album, or even song repeatedly until like a bad fever, it subsides and I am free again.

The latest object of my obsession? UK band, Mumford & Sons, a quartet of folksy Englishman fond of waistcoats and I imagine, expensive whiskies.  Mumford & Sons is a mix of bluegrass, folk and catchy pop hooks blended with alt-rock influences.  And best part of all? The excessive use of banjo.

For whatever reason this twangy, hillbilly instrument instantly transports me into a sepia-hued vista of nostalgia and is the clincher for why I've fallen in love with this band. Maybe it's because the combination of gritty vocals, earnest lyrics and soaring banjo makes every Mumford & Sons song remind me of long summer grass,  pine trees and hazy twilight evenings spent stumbling in the semi-darkness with friends, or whatever boy I was with at the moment.  Maybe it's because music like this reminds me of growing up in a small(ish) town where days spanned centuries, beer was cheap and tasted like ass, but conversations were meandering and filled with talk of being anywhere but here.

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Must have: Mel x Forever 21 Jelly Sandals

Last week while reading one of my favourite blogs, I spotted the extremely cute new jelly sandal collection at Forever 21! In a collaboration with Brazilian sandal brand Mel, this capsule collection of 5 offers shoppers a rainbow of fun, jelly goodness and of course all at Forever 21's awesome price point.  If you never wore jellies as a kid (shockingly), don't be worried about whether these will be comfortable and unscented.  Jellies are not Crocs.  According to commenters, Mel jellies are super comfortable and very breathable so your feet won't sweat, even after a day of walking!  Plus, they are 100% recyclable so if they do make your feet stink, you can just chuck them guilt-free!

Check out all the jelly fabulousness online and here are my favourites below:

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