A Book Devoured: Half Way Home by Huge Howey

Just J A Book Devoured: Half Way Home by Huge Howey

I purchased this e-book as it was so cheap - $2 cheap, so I thought, how can you go wrong? I was also hankering for some honest-to-good sci-fi and this book delivers. Taking place in a distant future, super-intelligent computers called Colony pilot huge ships carrying everything a planet needs to be colonized: machines, materials to build shelter and equipment, and embryos of animals and humans.

Porter is one of those humans, his embryo activated and grown 15 years before reaching his new home. Floating within his liquid incubation cell, he is trained and educated by Colony in his designated profession (psychologist) and on what his purpose in life is: to produce profit for the faraway humans who sent him and 500 others out here.

At least, that was the idea. Suddenly, Porter is woken up. He is surrounded by smoke, flames and the smell of burning flesh. Colony has crash landed. Now, they're on their own.

Half Way Home starts off with a really interesting premise, kinda like a futuristic Lord of the Flies and while I thought this was a good read (again, $2!) I can't say this was an amazing book. For one thing, it feels too short and you're cut off just as things start to get really interesting. Actually, this book feels like the first part of a mini-series and it reads very much like a movie. That being said, I found it hard to put down and raced through to the end. This book is a good weekend read, if nothing else!

Purchase Half Way Home via Amazon.

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The Body Shop Colour Crush nail polish collection: swatches part 1

I'm so excited to share with you today part 1 of my giant swatch fest with the new Colour Crush nail polish collection from The Body Shop. Launched just this Fall, this is a totally new category for TBS and boy is it exciting!

Featuring 24 shades, these polishes come in a range reds, pinks, blues, purples, greys and greens so there's something in here for everyone. The ‘4 free-from’ formula does not contain Dibutyl Phthalate, Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin, and Camphor, and is also vegan!

The brushes are of a medium width, which kinda sucks as even me with my teeny nails prefer a wider brush, but the colours apply easily and consistently. The packaging of these polishes is pretty no-nonsense as well and retail for $6 each, which I think is right on the money for TBS' price point. After 3 days wear, chipping started to appear, which is about average for me. I'd still recommend purchasing these polishes despite that simply because they come in a range of fun colours and they dry really fast. I am a very impatient person when it comes to nail polish, so long drying times torture me, but these dried super quick. Lately I've been watching my way through the Avatar: The Last Airbender series and these nails didn't even take me one episode to do!

Now, onto the fun part - the swatches!

Just J - The Body Shop Colour Crush nail polish collection: swatches part 1

Just J - The Body Shop Colour Crush nail polish collection: swatches part 1

Please excuse the shitty phone pics as I didn't have time this weekend to take proper photos! All swatches are done with 2 coats. Here I am wearing:

  • Crimson Kiss - a BEAUTIFUL blood red that actually looks a lot richer and deeper in person. It's my favourite shade of the collection so far!
  • The Body Shop Green - is a deep forest green that looks brighter in photos but almost like a green-black in person. You could probably get away with just 1 coat of this one, but for consistency in swatching I did 2 coats.
  • Mint Cream - is a lovely spring time color. More blue-mint than green-mint, this color reminds me more of a lighter robin's egg blue. This color would be great for a bride's "something blue"!
  • Crazy for Blue - I thought I would love this color more as it looks so vibrant and sapphire-y in the bottle, but on my hand it seems a bit muted in tone. 
  • Hemp Over Heels - this is getting way out of my comfort zone with this type of pea green, but it actually didn't look too bad on me! Hemp Over Heels is probably best for someone of the pale and blond variety.
Join me next week for more swatches and be sure to check it out yourself in stores!

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Eccotique Spa launches new "Dual Exfoliation" facial

As a beauty blogger, you can be sure that I love giving my skin a good pampering when I can so I jumped at the chance to try out the new Dual Exfoliation facial service at Eccotique Metrotown a couple weeks ago.

Just J: Eccotique Dual Exfoliation spa at Metropolis at Metrotown

This new service just launched at all Eccotique locations in Vancouver and involves an intensive 45 minute exfoliating workout for your skin. With the changing seasons running havoc on me, this seemed like just the trick to reset my skin for winter.

The Dual Exfoliation facial uses 9 different products and involves both chemical and physical exfoliants, as well as a soothing mask accompanied by a cold stone massage.

If you're unfamiliar with the differences between a chemical and physical exfoliant, a physical exfoliant is what you're probably used to seeing. While a physical exfoliant uses natural or synthetic granules to scrub away dirt and dead skin cells, a chemical exfoliant opts to use the power of acids, like apple or lactic acid, to dissolve away impurities. Chemical exfoliators are generally gentler and usually come in a mask form.

The products used in this new Eccotique facial are:
  • *Aveda Enbrightenment Cleanser - removes dirt and improves skin clarity
  • *Aveda Enbrightenment Toner - a correcting toner that also exfoliates with salicylic acid, evens out skin tone and treats pigmentation
  • *Aveda Tourmaline Refiner - a bamboo scrub that stimulates skin for higher cell turnover and sloughs away dead skin cells
  • *Aveda Outer Peace Acne Relief Pads - gently exfoliates with salicylic acid
  • *Aveda Outer Peace Cooling Masque - eliminates redness with natural alfalfa 
  • Aveda Plant Peel - a chemical exfoliant containing natural plant acids
  • Salt and water packs - reset the mineral balance in your skin and soften it
  • Aveda Enbrightenment Serum
  • Aveda Enbrightenment Cream
  • Green Science Lifting Eye Cream
* indicate products available for purchase

Having come straight from work, I relished an hour to chill with a lovely facial massage. Located right behind the Metrotown food court, I was surprised by how quiet and contemplative the spa area was as.

Just J: Eccotique Dual Exfoliation spa at Metropolis at Metrotown 

Eccotique's products are all based on natural ingredients so you can be sure that your face is getting quality treatment. After a long work week, nothing felt better than getting a hot towel pressed onto your face and to have someone massage away the tension. My esthetician also used aromatherapy at the beginning and end of my treatment to relax me even further. The whole process was mostly pleasant and I think I even dozed off at times!

Despite being uber relaxing and knowing the quality of the products, I can't say I am thrilled with the results of my facial. I hate to say this, but this might be due to my esthetician. Usually when I've gotten facials, the first step is the removal of all makeup, but she left my eye makeup on totally intact and was very brief with cleansing my face before putting on the first scrub. Also, despite my expressing concerns about over-exfoliating my skin, she didn't ask me how I felt throughout the process or talk me through the products as I've had done with other spas. 

I wasn't also a fan of the way the facial switches between heating and cooling products. The cooling mask is nice, but I did not like the cold stone massage. I was actually shivering despite the thick blanket on top of me throughout the facial from the combination of cold products and the cool room.

After the facial was complete, I was disappointed as my skin didn't feel as refined and polished as Sheila had experienced or as soft and glowing as I'd experienced elsewhere. A few days later my skin started to react a bit as well, with breakouts on my chin and jawline. 

Overall my results were so-so, but I would still recommend checking this service out at the Eccotique in Richmond Centre. Spa services are very dependent upon the service, so hopefully my experience was just an isolated one!

Just J: Eccotique Dual Exfoliation spa at Metropolis at Metrotown

Just J: Eccotique Dual Exfoliation spa at Metropolis at Metrotown

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Guest post: Halloween nail art by Chantal's Corner

Hi everyone,

I'm Chantal from Chantal's Corner and I'm happy to be a guest for J this month as part of the Canadian Beauty Bloggers' monthly guest posts. This month's theme is Halloween so I wanted to do some fun nail art. I decided to do various faces, but only the eyes (and a few noses). I like to keep it easy.

I had to use quite a few products, but I tried to re-use colours as much as I could.

My middle finger is a mummy and I tried to make it "dirty" by mixing some brown and white polish to make some lines, but it came out very light and the camera barely picked it up. I still like it. :-)

Are you doing some Halloween nail art this year?

Thank you for reading!

Thank you Chantal for the adorable nail art! Don't forget this is the last day as well to enter my Obiqo Skincare giveaway!

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YSL Touche Éclat Rose Gold review

Just J: YSL Touche Éclat Rose Gold review

There are only a few products that are truly iconic in the beauty world: Chanel No. 5 perfume, Guerlain meteorites, DiorShow mascara and of course the Touche Éclat highlighter pen by Yves Saint Laurent.

Heralded for years as the HG of YSL fans the world over, this legendary product is renowned for its magical properties. Before the current market saturation of highlighting and contouring products, there was the Touche Éclat. Now, YSL has debuted a new generation of this favored product: the Touche Éclat Rose Gold.

The Product
As part of the new YSL Beauté: Lumière Passion collection, the Touche Éclat Rose Gold is the same great product, but with a new rose-tinged look. The entire Lumière Passion collection celebrates Laurent's love of pink and how it is 
"the colour of femininity, the colour of both a shy blush and passionate exuberance - pink is fresh, youthful, and joyous. It brings cheer and radiance to every complexion" - Lloyd Simmonds, Creative Director Make-up YSL Beauté 
The pink tones within this highlighter pen contain shimmer to brighten skin and also help to neutralize sallowness to reveal a youthful glow.

Price & Packaging
You can purchase  the Touche Éclat Rose Gold via Sephora, but only if you're a VIB Rouge member for $72. I'm not sure why the restriction as I think otherwise this would just sell out super fast. Like the original, the Touche Éclat Rose Gold is a sleek click-pen with a brush applicator.

Just J: YSL Touche Éclat Rose Gold review

To be honest, while I appreciate the slimness of the pen and its gorgeous gold sheen, I'm not a fan of this type of pen applicator. Inevitably, the brush gets gunky with product, which isn't the most hygenic. Also, you have to click like 3-5 times to get any product out and when it does come out, it is not distributed evenly on the brush. I don't put the blame for this upon YSL as this is a common deficiency amongst the pen applicators I've used. Finally, last gripe about the packaging is that the shininess of the tube makes this prone to fingerprints, which I vigorously rubbed off for these photos!

How to Wear
Contained within my media package for this product, was a handy how-to sheet detailing two ways to wear the Touche Éclat Rose Gold.

For an instant anti-fatigue effect during the day, apply Touche Éclat Rose Gold to:
  • the inner corners of eyes
  • underneath the eyes to cover dark circles
  • upper eyelids
  • sides of the nose
  • along smile lines
To create an illuminating glow at night, apply Touche Éclat Rose Gold to:
  • brow bone
  • upper cheekbones
  • bridge of the nose
  • all around your lips

I tried wearing the Touche Éclat Rose Gold both ways described above and I have to say, well, maybe I was swayed by the hype. I was picturing Arwen level luminosity and the Touche Éclat Rose Gold didn't quite live up to it. Yes, it does have a lovely pink sheen to it that is quite flattering on my skin... and yes, it blends really well and you only need a teeny bit to get any effect... but it is also rather glittery and slippery to apply! 

Maybe we're all so used now to the subtle shimmers of the Hourglass palettes, but I found the Touche Éclat Rose Gold to be very sparkly and therefore not as sophisticated as I had imagined. YSL is a brand that I would associate to women 25+ and this level of glitter does not fit with that image. The glitter also kinda accentuates your pores, which is another reason why this may not be friendly to older women.

Just J: YSL Touche Éclat Rose Gold review
Should be all about that base, not the sparkles
Left: blended
Right: unblended

In terms of application, I would recommend applying the Touche Éclat Rose Gold before your blush or other face products. Normally I like to apply my highlighter last so that I can pinpoint just where I need it, but the Touche Éclat Rose Gold doesn't play very well with others. This is especially the case with powder blushes where it just washes away all color. That being said, the Touche Éclat Rose Gold does look really beautiful with my Cargo Swimmables blush in Ibiza if applied very sparingly. 

Final verdict
Ditch - I really really really wanted to love this product. It's such a classic that I'm thrilled to have in my collection, but for the price and results, I think there could be better options out there.

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Halloween look: Wyldstyle from The Lego Movie

It's exactly 10 days to Halloween! Do you have your costume yet? If you're like me, probably not. I'm a huge procrastinator and the pressure of being creative usually overwhelms me into inaction. This year though I'm actually semi-prepared thanks to the CBB guest post topic for October: Halloween looks. This was the perfect opportunity to force myself to figure out a costume and a fun makeup look.

I've done a zombie makeup look before, but I didn't like the fact that I had to buy fake blood and special makeup to create it as I didn't have a lot of white and black makeup at the time. For this year, I knew I wanted to create a look that I could do with the makeup I had on hand. After a lot of searching around, I found my inspiration: Wyldstyle from The Lego Movie:

And here is the finished look I came up with:

Just J Halloween look: Wyldstyle from The Lego Movie

Just J Halloween look: Wyldstyle from The Lego Movie

Just J Halloween look: Wyldstyle from The Lego Movie

To see how I created this look and the products I used, head on over to Exquisitely Chic for the tutorial!

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Obiqo Skincare: Radiant Day Cream and Smoothing Eye Cream review and giveaway

Just J: Obiqo Skincare: Radiant Day Cream and Smoothing Eye Cream review and giveaway

New Zealand has always been on my travel bucket list because of its beautiful landscapes, exotic wildlife and abundance of adventurous activities! Plus I'm a big LOTR fan so of course I'd want to visit Middle Earth! Unfortunately, a ticket to NZ is not in the cards for awhile yet as I'm currently house and wedding poor, but I can get a piece of that New Zealand freshness care of Obiqo Skincare.

Obiqo Skincare is a line of face and body products focused around the restorative and purifying aspects of the New Zealand ocean. Combining the powers of sea kelp, European marine extracts, and the anti-aging French sea lavender, each Obiqo product will restore, repair and rejuvenate your skin.

Another thing that makes Obiqo unique is its commitment to naturally sourced ingredients. The sea kelp Obiqo uses is Ecklonia Radiate and is harvested only from kelp that washes ashore and their organic sea lavender is certified 100% natural by ECOCERT.

The Products
Obiqo was kind enough to send me two products to review: the Radiant Day Cream and the Smoothing Eye Cream.

The Radiant Day Cream is a light, yet deeply hydrating moisturizer that has been enriched with sea kelp, sea lavender and various New Zealand plant extracts to help prep your skin for the day.

The Smoothing Eye Cream is a silky soft cream that provides a hit of hydration and anti-aging extracts to reduce fine lines and brighten tired eyes.

The Guts
The Radiant Day Cream's top ingredients include:

  • Capric triglyceride - an emollient derived from coconut oil and glycerin that helps repair skin and prevent moisture loss
  • Sweet almond oil - an emollient that also helps naturally prevent acne by cleansing pores
  • Glycerin - a moisturizer
  • Glycerol stearate - a naturally derived ingredient that provides a slippery feel to the product
Besides the above, this cream also contains algae extract (emollient), hydrolized collagen, hydrolized elastin (both anti-aging), sea lavender (anti-aging), kiwi fruit extract (antioxidant), and Pohutukawa extract (toning and moisturizing). I love it when products actually follow through on their claims - this cream is packed with natural antioxidants!

The Smoothing Eye Cream's top ingredients include:
  • Capric triglyceride
  • Glycerin
  • Sweet almond oil
  • Glycerol stearate
Surprisingly the eye cream contains the exact same main ingredients as the moisturizer! It also contains algae extract (emollient), hydrolized collagen, hydrolized elastin (both anti-aging), sea lavender (anti-aging), cucumber, kiwi fruit extract (antioxidant), evening primrose oil (emollient) and macadamia nut oil (moisturizing, anti-aging). 

Overall there is not much difference in the ingredients between these two products except some variance in natural extracts. 

Price & Packaging
The Radiant Day Cream retails for $29.99 on Amazon for a 50 mL bottle. For all its luxurious ingredients and branding, the packaging is pretty cheap on this one. It's a simple pump bottle, but for some reason, is really slippery to hold. I dropped this a couple times just onto my bathroom counter and the lid cracked easily. As well, the pump is a bit hard to control so that you either get a big gloop of product or hardly any at all.

The Smoothing Eye Cream retails for $29.99 on Amazon as well for 30 mL. This is quite honestly the largest eye cream jar I've ever had! Maybe the round shape is kinda deceiving as most eye creams come in a tube format, but I'll admit that I'm fooled. The packaging for the Smoothing Eye Cream totally makes me feel like I'm really getting value for my money! One thing to note though -  if you're not a fan of jar creams you'll be disappointed as this one doesn't come with a plastic applicator.

As per usual, I tried out these products dutifully for 4 weeks. Both feel light, absorb quickly and leave my skin feeling plump and hydrated.

The Radiant Day Cream is a perfect daytime moisturizer. It absorbs quickly and a little goes a long way. One little pump is enough to cover my entire face and it spreads readily. If you have oily skin, you may find this a little too rich for you, but for my normal-dry skin, it was perfect. I actually think this would make a good night cream as well with all its anti-aging properties; just apply it a little heavier and you're good to go!

The Smoothing Eye Cream is a little trickier to apply. As it's rather slick, it spreads a lot and takes awhile to absorb. The jar format also makes it really easy to over-apply, no matter how lightly I dabbed my finger. My eye area did feel really soft and moist after using this cream. I'd definitely keep using it as a night eye cream, but as for daytime use, I'm not so sure. It didn't keep my lines away, although I found that on my makeup free days, it fared better. 

Oddly enough, I actually feel like this cream is more like an overall moisturizer than an exclusive to the eye product. I've even tried smoothing it over my forehead to target my dry lines there and it works pretty well that way too! This cream would be great if you're a really low maintenance person or travelling as an all-in-one night treatment.

Final Verdict
Buy - both products are affordable, contain awesome ingredients and could work for a variety of uses and not just what is says on the label.

Now for the fun part! I am giving away both of these products to one lucky reader to try! Just fill out the entries below. Sorry, this contest is open to Canadian residents only. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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A Book Devoured: The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

The Ghost Bride is a story of a young girl named Li Lan who finds herself haunted by the ghost of a spoiled merchant's son in her hometown of Malacca, Malaysia. Even worse, her father, a heavily in debt opium addict, is considering a marriage proposal from the ghost's parents who wish for her to become their son's "ghost bride". Li Lan of course finds the idea repugnant, but as the dreams become more intense, and the pressure on her father grows, Li Lan despairs of ever escaping her ghostly suitor. In desperation, Li Lan decides to take matters into her own hands and what unfolds next is a series of events that takes her down a path of family scandals, affairs, murder and into the afterlife itself.

I was pretty surprised to see the twists and turns of this story as it morphs from something I thought would be more reminiscent of an Amy Tan novel into a full-on ghost story with Li Lan stumbling onto a plot of corruption among the Judges of Hell. If you grew up in a more traditional Chinese household, then the creatures, rituals and characters in this book will feel pretty familiar. The book also borrows heavily from ideas of reincarnation and of cause and effect. Actions from generations past are relived repeatedly in the spirit world. Old hurts, untamed ambitions and simmering resentments tangle together in an underworld that is as eerily convoluted and bureaucratic as the real world. Li Lan starts out as a dreamy young girl, but learns quickly to rely upon her wits and determination as she struggles to reclaim her life from ghosts and to escape the spirit world.

I found this book to be very entertaining and imaginative, although when I tried to explain the plot to Mr. Artist later, he proclaimed it to be "ridiculous." Part romance, historical drama and fantasy, I think there's enough of all three to keep anyone guessing. The ending in particular took me for a bit of a surprise... but that's all I'm going to say about that! One thing's for sure, I will definitely keep an eye out for the next Yangsze Choo novel!

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Guerlain Blanc de Perle preview at Holt Renfrew Vancouver

Guerlain. Even the name sounds glamourous. I was so very excited to attend the first Guerlain beauty event in Vancouver recently alongside a few of my blogger friends at this very small, intimate event. Taking place at Holt Renfrew, I immediately felt under-dressed as I had come straight from work and I'm pretty sure even the Guerlain products were chicer looking than me at that moment!

Our hosts for the evening included representatives from Guerlain flown all the way in from Paris to introduce us to the brand's illustrious history. There was also a very special guest for the night as well - Dr. Frederic BonteDirector of LVMH research for Guerlain Paris.

For those unfamiliar with Guerlain, here is a quick primer. Founded in France in 1828, Guerlain is known for their luxurious packaging and unique ingredients sourced from nature. As one of the oldest perfumerie houses Guerlain is known for their iconic fragrances and for innovation in the industry, such as:
  • producing the first modern moisturizing cream
  • being one of the first to market and sell lipstick
  • pioneering the first whitening products with the original Blanc de Perle line
  • opening the world's first spa in 1939

Just J: Guerlain Blanc de Perle preview at Holt Renfrew Vancouver
I wonder how these compare to Joe Malone or Diptyque?

The focus of the evening was not however just on the past, but on Guerlain's very modern research into hyperpigmentation and the causes for dark spots due to aging and sun damage. Turns out, that dark spots are a byproduct of our skin's natural sun protection process gone awry. Normally, melanin in our skin diffuses throughout the epidermis evenly, but sometimes, and more frequently as we age, the melanin gets stuck together and coalesces into a spot. Products like the Blanc de Perle line help prevent that process from occurring and lessen the effects of existing dark spots within 1 month of use. 

Debuting soon in Canada, the Blanc de Perle line includes an essence, serum, mask, night and day targeted spot treatments and a variety of sun-protecting bases with up to SPF 40. I got a chance to play around with some of the products at hand and I have to say they feel amazing! I put a single drop of the Advanced White P.E.A.R.L Drop Essence on my hand (likely worth $20 right there) and my skin felt so smooth, hydrated and I swear more luminous already! Sadly, I didn't get any samples of this or the other Blanc de Perle products in my swag bag, so I won't be able to speak to its magical properties, but I'm definitely considering purchasing one in future!

If you are interesting in trying out any of Guerlain's amazing products, just visit your local Holt Renfrew or other high-end department store.

Just J: Guerlain Blanc de Perle preview at Holt Renfrew Vancouver

Just J: Guerlain Blanc de Perle preview at Holt Renfrew Vancouver

Just J: Guerlain Blanc de Perle preview at Holt Renfrew Vancouver

Just J: Guerlain Blanc de Perle preview at Holt Renfrew Vancouver

Just J: Guerlain Blanc de Perle preview at Holt Renfrew Vancouver
Me and Dr. Bonte.
Photo: Gerry

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FOTD: Candlelit dinner eyes with the Urban Decay Naked 1 Basics

You, that special someone, a bottle of wine and some oh-so-flattering candlelight. What is it about flames that just make everyone look so soft, luminous and instantly better looking? It's better than an Ambient powder except that one is obviously more portable. After much internal hand-wringing, I took the plunge and satisfied my matte shadow palette lust with the classic Naked 1 Basics. A smaller, capsule collection of the original Naked 1, I thought this was a nice complement to my growing neutral palette arsenal.

While candlelit dinner eyes implies Date Night, this look could really be worn on any night. Even one without candlelight, but I think it sounds better to relegate this to candlelight only don't you think? Certainly gratifying was the reaction to this look by my dinner companions was "there's something different about you - did you get new contacts?" NO IT'S JUST MY EXPERT SHADOW SKILLZ.

Just J - FOTD: Candlelit dinner eyes with the Urban Decay Naked 1 Basics

To create this look, I used entirely Naked 1 Basics colors for my eyes, but the shades here are such classics that you could easily find comparable colours in other brands. I'm partial to the Naked series because of their excellent pigmentation, blendability and wear. Just be warned that there is fall out, so always tap your brushes before application. Now onwards to the look!

Just J - FOTD: Candlelit dinner eyes with the Urban Decay Naked 1 Basics

To create just follow these steps:
  1. Prime your eyes with your favourite eye primer
  2. Apply Venus across lids, concentrating on highlighting your browbone and the inner corner of the eyes. This brightens your look and widens close-set eyes.
  3. Apply Foxy with a wide brush over lid to just under the browbone.
  4. With a smaller wide brush, take a good amount of Faint and apply to your crease. Your crease is the area that folds in when you open your eyes, so you want to take the color along that line, as if you're drawing a thick line across it. Then apply some more color just on the other corners as above. This will look really obvious as you haven't blended yet. For Asians with monolids, don't follow these instructions but do more of a gradient from the outer third of the lid to the middle; I've kinda done that here as I have hooded Asian lids.
  5. Now it's time to blend! Take Naked 2 and starting from the middle of your lids, use the color to smudge everything together so that there are no harsh lines.Continue using Naked 2 and alternate with bits of Foxy until the colors are blended.
  6. With a tapered brush or eyeliner brush, apply Naked 2 along the lower lashline and then Faint along the outer third of lower lash line
  7. With the same brush take Crave or a black eyeliner pencil and use it to line the outer third of your top and bottom lashlines.
  8. Apply 2 coats of your favourite mascara.
  9. Fill in your brows a bit heavier than normal so that they balance out your strong eyes.
  10. Take a rosy blush (I'm using Makeup Forever HD cream blush in 310) to add color to your cheeks. Without any blush, you could look washed out.
  11. Apply a pinky gloss, or if you want to be bold, a raspberry lip stain (I'd recommend Annabelle TwistUp lipstick pencil in Royale!)

And here's the final look:

Just J - FOTD: Candlelit dinner eyes with the Urban Decay Naked 1 Basics

Just J - FOTD: Candlelit dinner eyes with the Urban Decay Naked 1 Basics

I hope you enjoyed this FOTD breakdown! I've been having some fun thinking of these types of looks, so if you have any requests, just let me know!

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How to make homemade xiao long bao

Haha fooled you - did you really I would know how to make this? Well, if I were to try, then this recipe seems like a great tutorial to learn from. Now I know the secret of how they get the soup into the dumplings!! Seriously though, these are one of my favourite types of Chinese dumplings: delicious, juicy and super flavourful. I could eat a whole tray of these myself if that was socially acceptable.

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September beauty favourites

Just J: September beauty favourites

Can you believe it's October already?! September was the month that felt like it never was as it went by so quickly. My new job has been keeping me pretty busy as has wedding research. I've been venue hunting and putting together ideas for the look and feel for my wedding and I think I have a fairly solid vision now of what I want everything to look like! It's now basically a year from when we plan to get married and I feel like I've been planning this event for awhile already yet the only thing we've actually booked is our photographer! Mr. Artist and I are still hunting for that perfect venue. Getting close, but I don't want to give anything away until it's real!

At least I can freely share my beauty opinions with you all. Here are some of my favourites for this past month:

1. Cargo Cosmetics Essential Palette in Dark Neutral - this is an oldie but goodie in my shadow collection. I've been really into matte shadows lately and a cool, smokey brown eye paired with a bright lip is everything I'm about at the moment. These shadows blend beautifully, last all day and can do everything from a barely there, to full on drama. Worth every penny.

2. L'Occitane Control Styling Prep Cream - this leave-in conditioning cream smells amazing and leaves my hair feeling silky soft. This cream contains an intoxicating mix of jojoba oil, almond oil, lavender and rosemary. View full review.

3. The Body Shop Morroccan Wild Argan Oil body lotion and solid oil lip treatment - alongside my hair, my skin and lips have been feeling super soft as well thanks to these products c/o The Body Shop. These were my first argan oil products and I'm pretty pleased by the results! View full review.

4. EcoTools Large powder brush - this was an impulse buy after much research into affordable powder brushes to replace my old Sephora one. I'd been all geared up to purchase the Real Techniques powder brush, but on a whim I decided to purchase this one. As Ecotools believes in cruelty-free products, all their brushes are made of synthetic hairs and recycled materials. The bristles on this brush are silky smooth and soft so even though they're synthetic, I don't feel as if I'm missing out on a thing. This brush just glides over my skin and delivers a light, natural finish. Plus, it's under $10!

5. The Body Shop Vitamin E Moisture cream - lately my skin has been acting up by turning all greasy during the day while also being dehydrated. The result? Breakouts! I think this could be due to my use of products that clogged my pores. Since I've been using this travel sized bottle of the TBS Vitamin E cream as my night cream, my skin has miraculously balanced back out. This cream hydrates my skin, doesn't feel sticky, and most importantly, lets my skin breathe. I'm definitely going out and buying a bigger jar!

What were your beauty favourites last month?

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A Book Devoured: The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley

Just J: A Book Devoured: The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley

I'm not really sure if this series by bestselling Canadian author Alan Bradley is a YA series or not, but regardless it's a worthy read. I wouldn't call myself a huge "mystery novel" lover, but I think everyone enjoys a good mystery once in awhile and this story of a precocious 11 year old is pretty entertaining.

Taking place in small town England, the story follows Flavia de Luce, a lonely girl with an obsession for chemistry who happens to live in a village that has a higher murder rate than most. When a visiting celebrity puppeteer is suddenly electrocuted, de Luce jumps onto the case, using her chemistry knowledge and astute observational skills to unravel the whodunit. The story gets really good as it is revealed that the puppeteer is not just anyone, but someone who has deep ties with others in the village. Things gets murkier and murkier as the murder begins to involve secret grow ops, affairs, ex-POWs (the series takes place just after WWII) and the hanging suicide of a young boy.

Being a fan of Nancy Drew books as a child, this series was right up my alley and de Luce as a protagonist is like a cross of Nancy and Pippi Longstocking. She is spunky, irreverent and has a streak of maliciousness that only 11-year-olds can still get away with. As a spunky kid myself, I can relate.

I believe The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag is the second in the Flavia de Luce series, but you don't need to have read the first one to follow along as each book is pretty self-contained. The first novel in the series, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is also a worth checking out! Just be careful if you're like me and read on the bus because these books will surely make you miss your stop.

Buy via Amazon for $14.40

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Tag: Behind the blog

Whenever I discover a new blog, I always go read the About pages. The personality of the blogger and how much I can relate to them is as big, if not bigger, a factor in my choosing to follow them as the quality of their reviews or photos or style. What makes a blog a blog, and maybe I'm just old fashioned this way, is the writer and why I would follow them over a professional style site. So needless to say, I enjoy reading tag posts where the blogger answers questions about themselves.

Recently I read a really fun and interesting on a new blog I've been reading lately, Glitter Diaries. If you haven't heard of this lovely girl, then go check her out! Last week she answered these questions and I was inspired by her post to take a stab at answering them myself. I hope you enjoy it!

1) Be honest: What time do you wake up and what's a typical breakfast?
Hmm depends. On weekdays I wake up just after 7am which is about as late as possible for me to still get to work on time. I typically will eat a toasted bagel with honey, or kaya (a delicious coconut-based spread from Singapore), with some instant milk tea. Instant milk tea is the shizz because it doesn't give me a stomach ache like coffee does and it's much stronger than plain tea.

Image: i am a food blog

On weekends, I typically wake up sometime in the afternoon because I like to stay up really late playing games or watching movies. Then breakfast often becomes a "linner" or lunch/dinner!

2) Do you have a day job? If so, what do you do? How do you find the balance between blogging and work? What are the pros and cons? – If blogging your full-time gig, please explain how that came to be.
I work full-time in the technology industry as a Product Manager. It's the type of job that usually makes people nod but they have no idea what it is. A Product Manager is the person who manages the strategy for a product, like a mobile app or website, and does market research to figure out what features should go into it. So like that change yet again to Facebook's privacy features? Probably a Product Manager had a hand in that!

Working a 9-5 job can be difficult to balance with blogging, but I think the key is to always keep a focus on what made you want to blog in the first place. Blogging for me is a passion that allows me to do one of my favourite things (writing) with one of my biggest interests (fashion and beauty) and so long as I can keep focused on writing what I want to write and when I want to write it, then balance is easy. It's when you put to much pressure on yourself to "get big" and to grow your blog that the fun dies.

3) Where did you grow up (what city/town, do you have siblings, can you share any stories about your upbringing)? And where do you currently reside?
I'm a born and raised West Coast girl and grew up in a city on Vancouver Island. It's a beautiful place to visit and to grow up in, even though I recall feeling very bored most of the time.

Like Kelly of Glitter Diaries, I've always loved writing. I even have a tiny bunny-shaped notebook from when I was 7 and it was my first diary where I would write about my day and make up stories about animals going on grand adventures. I had a very vivid imagination growing up and could conjure up an imaginary world anywhere I went. My favourite game was to pretend I was a teeny tiny person and could hide in blades of grass or live under a rock just like one of my favourite books, The Rats of Nimh.

I probably fantasized about being a mouse more than is healthy

4) Outline your average, typical day. Be as transparent as possible.

  • 7:00 am: wake-up and hit the snooze button
  • 7:30 am: actually get up
  • 8:00 am: race through breakfast while checking my email
  • 8:20 am: take the bus to work
  • 9:00-6:00pm: work
  • 6:10 pm: transit back home
  • 7:00 pm: walk the dog and workout
  • 8:45 pm: eat dinner
  • 9:00 pm: relax, read blogs, do wedding related stuff
  • 11:30 pm: shower and head to bed 

5) What's your dream job/career? How are you working towards that?
Pro blogger? Actually I think it would be amazing to be a movie or restaurant critic. To get paid just to share my opinion seems like a dream job to me!

6) What would be your dream dinner-party guest-list? Explain why you chose each person.
This is a tough one because I don't know whether it includes dead people! I will assume it doesn't just to narrow it down a bit. I'd say my dream dinner party would be cooked and hosted by Gordon Ramsay, and include Steven Colbert for his wit, Chris Evans for me to stare at, and Emma Stone because she seems really awesome to hang out with.

7) What's one thing you'd like to start, one thing you'd like to stop, and one thing you'd like to continue.
I'd like to start travelling more and trying new things. I'd like to stop worrying about what other people think. I'd like to continue maintaining my current workout routine with T25 as it's really helping my body feel healthier and stronger!

8) What's your current obsession?
My current obsession seems to be collecting neutral eye shadow palettes. In fact, I've been thinking of doing a post on it because then that might convince me to stop buying them!

9) Link to 5 websites/blog you can't go a week without?

  1. Bloglovin because how else will I keep up to date on all my favourite blogs?
  2. Hootsuite because I'm all about the Twitter
  3. Facebook because that's where the CBB forums are!
  4. Jezebel for everything insightful and hilarious
  5. Gmail because let's face it, checking my email is my other obsession

10) Tag and mention 1 blogger who you'd like to partake in this feature.
I don't want to force anyone to do this, but if you do feel inspired to write your own post, let me know and I will add a link to it at the bottom of this post!

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The Body Shop Moisture White Shiso line review

Just J: The Body Shop Moisture White Shiso line review

This post is going to be a long one folks because I've got all the deets on the ENTIRE Body Shop Moisture White Shiso line. Launched recently by The Body Shop, the Moisture Shiso line aims to give you luminous, clear and glowing skin with the power of shiso.

You may recognize shiso if you've ever gone to a Japanese restaurant as it's a popular herb used in sushi preparation and condiments. For your skin however, it acts as a prevention aid that blocks the production of melanin, that nasty culprit that both protects your skin and gives you freckles and age spots.

TBS has harnessed the power of this common herb and incorporated it into a moisturizer, cleanser, serum, BB cream and spot treatment. Whitening products are huge in Asia and becoming more popular in the west, but finding ones that work are pretty tricky. I had big hopes for this line as it's affordable and TBS is known for their use of natural and ethically sourced ingredients.

Without further ado then, let's get right to it!

FOTD: Mossy bronze eyes

Last week the weather took a sharp turn into fall territory with days of rain and overcast skies. With weather like that, I decided to do this smoky daytime look inspired by the wet green branches of the trees outside my house.

Just J: FOTD: Mossy bronze eyes

To create this look, you'll need:
First, I primed my lids and then used the pink shade of the Tartantastique all over my lid as a base. Then, using a wide brush, I gently swiped the dark green shade across my lid, concentrating the color along my lash and just above my crease. Since I have Asian eyes, dramatic shadow in my crease rarely works for me, so I generally go for a gradient or wide swathe of color as above. 

Next, take a clean brush and blend the green shadow upwards to soften out any lines and keep the look from being too dark. Then, taking a small crease brush, pick up some of that metallic brown and fan it along the outer third of your lid. The effect you should get is a little shimmery and a nice mix of colors that comes out as a bit army green. If you want to up the shimmer even more, take a gold shadow and dot it lightly in the center of your lids. Brush the outer third of your bottom lash line with both shadows, blending them together and voila, you're done! 

Since this is a fairly strong look, I wouldn't recommend adding eyeliner and just go for 1 coat of mascara. Also, make sure to fill in your brows to balance the look. 

Just J: FOTD: Mossy bronze eyes

Just J: FOTD: Mossy bronze eyes

Would you try this makeup look?

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