Friday Five: Don't Go There

Friday, June 23, 2017
This week's Friday Five:
  1. Where were you forbidden (or too frightened) to go when you were growing up, and why? Even as kids, my brother and I knew better than to go to really dangerous places by ourselves (like the ghetto, where we could be mugged or kidnapped). So we weren't necessarily forbidden to go anywhere because my parents knew we had common sense, but I've always been too scared to go into dark, dense forests. When I was really young, it was because I was scared of bugs and animals attacking me (actually, this still holds true), and then after I watched It when I was 10, it was because I thought an evil clown would find me and eat me in there, and then after I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone when I was 11, it was because I thought Voldemort would find me in there. Either way, I had no business going into a dark forest, and I still don't to this day.

    My parents did, however, forbid me from going to concerts on school nights until I was in Grade 11. I remember being so pissed that they wouldn't let me go to a Thursday show at The Opera House when I was in Grade 10 because it was on a week night. I remember being so melodramatic about it, too, like, "They'll never come back here again! You're ruining my life!" Of course, I did end up seeing them five or six times, and met them twice. So, yeah. Teenagers.

  2. What's the naughtiest thing you've done in the past couple of years? Honestly, not a lot. Maybe download a movie illegally? I'm pretty low-key and boring these days. I got that reckless, impulsive, devil-may-care attitude out of my system in my mid-20s. My late 20s to now is just about being responsible because, you know, adulting.

  3. Under what circumstances have you gone into a place you knew you weren't supposed to enter? When I was in middle school, I may have snuck into another movie theatre to watch a second movie after only paying for one. Obviously, I was a badass.

  4. Which aisle in your supermarket do you just about never go down? The one with pet food. Because I don't have pets. And also the one with baby supplies. Because I don't have babies.

  5. Not counting traffic situations, when did you last willfully disobey something you read on a sign? Smoking by a non-smoking sign. But I do this all the time, because there are non-smoking signs pretty much everywhere these days.

MAC Proud to Be Canadian: Proud to Be Canadian Lipstick

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Today, MAC will be launching their Canada-exclusive collection, Proud to Be Canadian: "MAC celebrates its birthplace, embracing 150 years of nationhood with a specially packaged lipstick in truest red. From a homegrown start in a Toronto salon in 1984, to sharing fearless artistry in over 150 countries around the world, MAC is proud to be Canadian." This collection features a total of three new and limited edition commemorative products: a lipstick, a tote bag, and a makeup pouch. The lipstick comes in regular black packaging but with a special edition card sleeve inspired by the Canadian flag. Each lipstick contains a total of 3 grams of product, and retails for $21. This collection will be available at all MAC Stores and partnered locations across Canada. Due to its limited nature, Proud to Be Canadian is not applicable as a free product in the Back to MAC program.

Proud to Be Canadian

Proud to Be Canadian

Proud to Be Canadian is a medium neutral brightened true red in a Matte finish. This is a new and limited edition shade. It has a soft, creamy texture, and goes on smoothly and evenly. It has high pigmentation and opaque colour pay-off. It is lighter and slightly warmer than Russian Red, slightly warmer than Ruby Woo, warmer and more matte than MAC Red, lighter and more matte than Mulling Spices, slightly more muted and less matte than Feels So Grand, and lighter and cooler than Fashion Legacy.

As both a Canadian and a MAC collector, I absolutely love that MAC came out with a collection to celebrate our country's 150th birthday — and MAC's own heritage. Believe it or not, a lot of people don't know that MAC was born in Toronto (on the corner of Carlton and Parliament) in 1984 and has since become the biggest Canadian cosmetics brand in the world. Granted, they were acquired by Estée Lauder in the late '90s to extend the distribution of their products globally, but all new formulations are still created and tested in MAC's Canadian labs and the majority of MAC products — including all your favourite lipsticks — are produced in Canada (in fact, the two factories are located just 30 minutes away from Toronto's downtown core). And if there is one thing that MAC is known for, it's lipstick. Not just any lipstick, but red lipstick. They created Russian Red for Madonna for her Blond Ambition Tour in 1990; Ruby Woo is their best-selling lipstick of all time with four being sold every minute. Suffice it to say, they've perfected red lipstick. Proud to Be Canadian, literally the same colour as the red on the Canadian flag, is truly neutral and universally flattering on fair to deep dark skintones — the perfect colour to wear to celebrate Canada's 150th birthday.

Pick-Ups & Deliveries: Haul No. 66

Tuesday, June 20, 2017
As you may know, I went to NYC last month. Remember the days when us Canadians could spend so freely south of the border because our dollars were on par (or close to it) and American retail prices were so much lower? Well, those days are long gone. Since the Canadian dollar is so low right now, it wasn't really worth shopping down there (especially when so many brands have opened up shop in Canada now), but I did pick up a few things that I got a corporate discount on or things that are hard to find here.

Le Labo Bergamote 22 Eau de Parfum (50 ml)

We have a Le Labo store here in Toronto, but I never go downtown to shop (I really only go down there for concerts, food, or IMATS) so I figured I would check out the boutique in Nolita while we were in NYC. If you've never heard of Le Labo, they are a niche fragrance brand from NYC that focuses on hand-blended formulations. And if you've ever looked them up, you'll know that their fragrances don't come cheap. I get a corporate discount but even then, they cost a pretty penny, so I really had to figure out if any of them were worth it for me to invest in. A lot of their scents are way too strong for me so I vetoed a lot of them before narrowing it down to two: Neroli 36 and Bergamote 22. I sprayed one on each of my wrists and walked around with them for an hour to see if I liked they way they smelled after they settled. We even went into Bloomingdale's to smell more some perfumes to see if there were better options (I wanted to check out Jo Malone's Basil & Neroli), but it was a unanimous decision after that: Bergamote 22 was the winner. I was looking for something that still had a fresh citrus note to it, but a little more well-rounded and less sweet than what I typically go for. Bergamote 22 starts off with juicy notes of grapefruit and bergamot and softens into a musky, woodsy scent with whiffs of vetiver and cedar; a truly unisex fragrance that's perfect for summer. The coolest part about Le Labo? Every perfume is made to order (they mix it right in front of you) so you're ensured a fresh bottle every time, and comes with a customized label so you know exactly who it's for.

Violet Voss Matte About You Eyeshadow Palette

The Ordinary High-Spreadability Fluid Primer and Skindinavia The Makeup Finishing Spray for Bridal

While we were in Soho, we stopped by Ricky's so I could take a little gander. I love Ricky's because they carry a ton of lesser known and indie brands that I can only find online on American sites (which means I have to pay the conversation rate, shipping fees, and sometimes duties as well). When I saw that they were carrying Violet Voss, I immediately snagged the Matte About You Eyeshadow Palette, which I had been contemplating getting for the last couple months. I originally wanted the Ride or Die, too, but they were sold out of it (which was really for the better, because I totally did not need a $75 neutral palette, no matter how damn pretty it is). I saw that they were carrying Skindinavia, too, so I snatched up a bottle of The Makeup Finishing Spray for Bridal. My friend Sam, a freelance makeup artist who does a ton of weddings and editorials, told me that this was her holy grail setting spray. She gets hers at IMATS every year, but I haven't had luck finding it in stores here, so when I saw it at Ricky's, I snatched one up. If Skindinavia sounds familiar, it's because they make all of Urban Decay's setting sprays. But none of UD's setting sprays (De-Slick or All Nighter) actually keep my makeup on longer nor matte. But I sprayed this one (it has to be the Bridal version, not the regular one) on top of my makeup during a heatwave while we were in NYC, and my makeup did not budge until I took it off at night. Even my friend Ronsee commented that it was miraculous that my makeup didn't look "melty."

On that note, y'all know that I spend my life finding my holy grail foundation primer. Most recently, I thought I had found it in Deciem's Hylamide Matte 12. It's definitely thicker than I like in a primer, but it kept me matte longer than other primers and made my skin look smoother than a baby's bottom. As I was getting ready to pay, I saw that Ricky's was carrying The Ordinary, which is another brand under the Deciem umbrella (and is actually Canadian!). I was immediately intrigued by a product called High-Spreadability Fluid Primer, described as "a lightweight serum-like formula that increases the spreadability of subsequent complexion makeup to help avoid the unnatural and uneven accumulation of pigments especially around the eyes and on dry skin." And guess how much it is? $7.90. Yeah, I thought it was a misprint. I mean, if it ended up sucking, at least I didn't pay a lot for it, you know? But it ended up being one of the best impulse purchases, ever. I typically don't like primers that have that slick, velvety silicone kind of feel, but this one is ultra lightweight so it doesn't feel like anything on my skin, and it doesn't leave any residue or ball up on top of my moisturizer. It looks flawless under both my liquid concealer and my powder foundation and the best part? It makes my makeup look fresh for over 10 hours. Even my friend Ronsee commented that my makeup looked smoother and "less heavy" even after a whole day of walking around NYC in a heatwave. I didn't start looking oily until six hours in, which is a miracle in itself because I usually have to blot within half that time. Now, I use this primer in conjunction with the Skindinavia spray, and even my colleagues — all of them makeup artists — ask me, "How does your makeup look so perfect after a whole day of work?"

Origins Modern Friction and Make a Difference Plus+

Nature Republic AQUA Super Aqua Max Watery Essence and Fresh Watery Cream

Nature Republic Shea Butter and Apple Mango Hand Creams

Nature Republic Lime and Grapefruit Mini Hand Creams

Because I have the tendency to stock up on a lot skincare all at once, I like to get products that I can use all year round. We were walking through Grand Central and I decided to stop by the Origins store to see if there was anything exciting since I get a corporate discount there, too (there are no Origins stores in Toronto, so I never get to take advantage of it). Nothing new caught my eye, but I did pick up a tube of Modern Friction Nature's Gentle Dermabrasion (I haven't used it in a few years and have decided it's time to go back to it because I've always had great results) and a jar of their Make a Difference Plus+ Rejuvenating Treatment that I love as a night cream in warm weather or as a day cream in cold weather (and it smells like watermelons!). A couple days later, during a walk through Koreatown, a store called Nature Republic caught my eye. Despite Korean beauty brands getting really big here (The Face Shop, Laneige, Tony Moly, Holika Holika, etc.), I had never heard of Nature Republic, so I decided to go in and check it out. They were having a 30% off promotion on select skincare, so I ended up getting a bottle of Super Aqua Max Watery Essence and a jar of Super Aqua Max Fresh Watery Cream. Both are designed to give hydration to oily skin, so I thought they would be good as my day time skincare routine for summer. They were also having a hand cream sale (Buy 1, Get 1 Free) so I ended up getting two full size tubes in Shea Butter and Apple Mango, as well as two mini tubes in Lime and Grapefruit, because you know I go through hand cream like water. And in cute packaging as well? Just sell me everything.

Rituals Foaming Shower Gel in The Ritual of Sakura, The Ritual of Dao, and Express Your Soul

You might have noticed by now that sales are my kryptonite. I stopped by Rituals during one of our afternoon strolls because I hear a lot about the brand through UK YouTubers and we don't have it in Canada. I saw that their best-selling Shower Foams were on promotion for $10 each from $15, so I decided to check them out. Don't know if anyone remembers this, but Bath & Body Works used to carry a very similar product many, many years ago, and I was obsessed with it. They come out of the cans like shaving gel and they foam up like crazy, and they are freaking awesome. Anyway, I spent like, 15 minutes washing my hands with every single scent (and made Ronsee smell every single one, too, because I am that person) and finally ended up picking three: The Ritual of Sakura which has a rice milk and cherry blossom scent, The Ritual of Dao which has a white lotus and yi yi ren scent, and the limited edition Express Your Soul which has a verbena and petitgrain scent. I just wish Rituals would open up a store here because there are about 87 other things I wanna try. (Actually, it's probably better that they're not here.)

MAC Fruity Juicy Oh My, Passion! Pearlmatte Face Powder

MAC Fruity Juicy Eyeshadow x 6 Palettes in Oh My Banana, Love in the Glades, and Fruit a La La

MAC Fruity Juicy Lipstick in Calm Heat, Shy Girl, Love at First Bite, and Sí, Sí, Me!

MAC Fruity Juicy Prep + Prime Coconut Fix+

MAC Steve J & Yoni P Sugar or Syrup Powder Blush; Touch Me Baby Eyeshadow Duo; Midnight Fever Dazzleshadow Duo; and Lipstick in Spotlight Me, A Killing Smile, and Yoni Crush

Of course, MAC came out with their huge summer launch last month. I didn't care for the bronzers, glosses, Lustre Drops, or brushes, but I did buy the Pearlmatte Face Powder, the three eyeshadow palettes (reviews: Oh My Banana, Love in the Glades, and Fruit a La La), all four lipsticks, and luckily, the Coconut Fix+ (that sold out within a few hours). After their incredibly underwhelming spring collection, Work It Out (of which I did not buy a single item — a first for me in the 10 years I've been collecting MAC), I was pleasantly surprised and very pleased with Fruity Juicy, from the packaging to the colour scheme to the textures. As Fruity Juicy is the main focus for MAC right now, they didn't really come out with any other collections until the very limited launch of their collaboration with Korean designers, Steve J & Yoni P, which I just thought was too cute to resist. I ended up grabbing six limited edition items from the collection: the Sugar or Syrup Powder Blush, both the Touch Me Baby eyeshadow duo and the Midnight Fever Dazzleshadow duo, and the lipsticks. Now I'm waiting for the fall collections with bated breath.

NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Ginger, Urban Decay Perversion Mascara (x 2), and Fresh Sugar Lychee Eau de Parfum (30 ml)

I ran out of some staple products so I got my friend Chelsea to snag me some from Sephora for me, including my favourite NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer, two tubes of Urban Decay Perversion Mascara, and a small bottle of Fresh Sugar Lychee Eau de Parfum. Not that exciting, but you know, holy grails are holy grails.

La Mer Blue Heart Crème de la Mer and La Mer The Illuminating Eye Gel

Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II (x 2)

Estée Lauder Clear Difference Oil Control/Mattifying Hydrating Gel and NightWear Plus Anti-Oxidant Night Detox Creme

Finally, I went to an exclusive private Estée Lauder Companies warehouse sale last week. I have gone to many ELC warehouse sales in the past (they are invitation-only, but ELC sends out a lot of invites that people can give to their family and friends, so it seems like a public sale) but they usually don't have anything that exciting (they usually repeat products at every sale), and the discounts don't get higher than 50% off. But the one I went to, despite having less variety, had much more luxury products at significantly higher discounts. And it was far less busy because it was so private. It was there that I found La Mer, the most "boujee" of all skincare brands. They had their limited edition 100 ml Blue Heart Crème de la Mer The Moisturizing Cream for $100 from $585. I had never even thought of trying La Mer because their prices are so exorbitant, and I'm not saying that $100 is cheap, but for 100 ml of product?! That's less than every other moisturizer in the prestige cosmetics category. I didn't think twice about snagging one up (and others didn't either, because I saw dozens of people putting two in their shopping bags). I also snatched up La Mer's The Illuminating Eye Gel for $45 from $180, two massive 100 ml bottles of Estée Lauder's Advanced Night Repair for $25 each from $200, a jar of Estée Lauder's Clear Difference Oil Control/Mattifying Hydrating Gel for $10 from $58, and a jar of Estée Lauder's NightWear Plus Ant-Oxidant Night Detox Creme for $15 from $65. Um, yeah, I spent $220 and saved over $1,000, and there was no tax because every dollar was being donated to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. I think this might be the best sale I have ever encountered.

Makeup and Beauty Blog: Monday Poll, Vol. 480

Monday, June 19, 2017
This week's Monday Poll:
  1. What do you have on your lips right now? MAC's Steve J & Yoni P Lipstick in A Killing Smile with Pro Longwear Lip Pencil in Trust in Red. I was in the mood for something bright today since the weather has been so gloomy lately.

  2. Something you'd like to accomplish this week? All the laundry, including bedding. I hate washing bedding because it's so fucking tedious, so I try to get away with just washing the pillow cases and sheets, but it's been way too long since I last washed everything (duvet cover, mattress cover, etc.) and it's getting gross. It's also made me re-think how much bedding one really needs...

  3. Create or destroy? I'm all about creating.

  4. How's your pedicure looking right now? Still looking pretty decent, actually. I painted Essie's Mint Candy Apple on my toes a few weeks ago, and despite being a bit grown out, they haven't chipped even a little.

  5. Something you recently learned about yourself? Everything I hated as a child, I love now as an adult.

Sunday Video Love: Animals

Sunday, June 18, 2017

I've been following Alex & Sierra since they were on The X Factor, and while their debut album didn't really resonate with me, I've been addicted to their latest EP, As Seen on TV. I gotta say, since becoming independent, they sound better than ever, getting far more creative sonically on their covers and lyrically on their originals. They've grown into a sound that is moodier, more haunting, more passionate; they've matured as true artists rather than just another manufactured pop group. It's really too bad that they don't get more attention now that they're off the show because they're such talented musicians. Can't wait to see what they come up with next.

Saturday Nine: As Long As We Got Each Other (1986)

Saturday, June 17, 2017
This week's Saturday Nine:

  1. This is the theme from the 1980s sitcom, Growing Pains. Alan Thicke played Dr. Jason Seaver, one of TVs popular dads. Who is your favourite TV dad? Keith Mars from Veronica Mars.

  2. Joanna Kearns, who played Jason's wife, reports that she teased her costar by calling him, "Al," a nickname he hated. Is there someone in your life that you enjoy needling? My friend Chelsea. She does or says such ridiculous things sometimes that it's hard not to mock her constantly.

  3. For most of the series, the Seaver children each represented a "type." The oldest, Mike, was the trouble maker. The daughter, Carol, was the brainiac. Young Ben could be very high maintenance. Which of the Seaver kids were you most like when you were growing up? Probably Carol. I wasn't really a trouble maker when I was a kid. I was actually pretty introverted up until high school. I just liked art and music and kinda kept to myself.

  4. In the song, BJ Thomas sings about being "the luckiest dreamer who never quit dreaming." If you could have any dream come true this Saturday, what would you wish for? To somehow win, find, or inherit millions of dollars so I could travel the world, own a home, open up my own makeup studio or start a makeup line, and make sure my family is set for life.

  5. When he mans the grill, Sam's father proudly wears the "Kiss the Chef" she gave him for Father's Day years ago. Tell us about a gift you gave someone that was a hit. I bought my friend Ronsee a Jack Spade card holder last year for his birthday 'cause he lost his wallet years ago and never replaced it. He's used it everyday since I gave it to him.

  6. Sam's dad takes his grilling very seriously and jealously guards his special marinade recipe. Do you have a secret you haven't even shared with family members? No, 'cause that would mean that I actually cook.

  7. He recommends using a grill basket when barbecuing vegetables so you don't have to worry about them falling through the grill. Share one of your culinary tips with us. Butter the bread for sandwiches. It always tastes better.

  8. Sam's father hates it when she swears. What's the last curse word you used? Probably "fuck."

  9. Sam's father satisfies his afternoon sugar craving with an almost endless stream of Butter Rum Lifesavers. When you crave a snack, do you usually want something sweet or salty? Salty. The only time I really care for sweets is after a salty meal.

Friday Five: Questions Created Very Quickly Late Friday Morning

Friday, June 16, 2017
This week's Friday Five:
  1. What are you reading? Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare. I might like The Dark Artifices series more than The Mortal Instruments. The main character/protagonist is far less annoying. In general, this series is more mature and way sexier.

  2. What are you listening to? I've been rotating two albums this week. The first one is Rise Against's Wolves. I've been getting into them again since going to the Deftones and Rise Against concert on Sunday. I haven't really listened to their music in over a decade (I lost interest in them after The Sufferer & the Witness), but I've been enjoying Wolves for when I want a fast, head-banging, aggressive record (like when I'm driving). It's sonically predictable and those who liked Rise Against circa 2006 will find that they don't sound that different over a decade later, but it's ultimately a satisfyingly catchy punk rock record.

    The second album is Lorde's Melodrama, a gorgeously moody pop record. There are fun, dancey songs with experimental hooks and unexpected lyrics that flow beautifully together, and intimate, haunting tracks that paint the most vivid scenes of heartbreak and loneliness. It's a brilliant, dynamic, well-rounded follow-up to Pure Heroine that proves Lorde is playing in the big leagues now.

  3. Anything amusing or strange happen to you recently? Not particularly. At least, nothing worth noting.

  4. What's cookin'? Pasta with pesto, spinach, Italian meatballs, and three different kinds of cheeses.

  5. What was your contribution to your most recent potluck? The last potluck I went to was a Christmas dinner at my aunt's house a couple years ago. We don't really contribute individually, but as family units. I think we brought a massive platter of sushi. (This is how non-religious Asians do Christmas, apparently.)

Thursday Threes: Vol. 7

Thursday, June 15, 2017
The last 3 things I ate:
  • Steamed pork soup dumplings (xiao long bao), pan-fried pork dumplings, pan-fried green onion pancakes, and sliced rice cake soup with shredded pork and pickled cabbage at Ding Tai Fung
  • An excessive amount of sliced beef, beef ribs, pork belly, and shrimp at Gyubee Japanese BBQ
  • Two Melona bars in mango and strawberry for dessert

The last 3 things I did:
  • Had dinner at Gyubee Japanese BBQ
  • Went to the mall to buy some stuff from Bath & Body Works
  • Went to a private Estée Lauder Companies warehouse sale

The last 3 purchases I made:

The last 3 things I watched:

  • Wonder Woman — I went in without any expectations and without reading any reviews or seeing any ratings. And I was blown away. Honestly, it's probably the best superhero movie I've ever seen and definitely my favourite superhero origin story. Absolutely stunning visuals, amazing plot (I actually didn't know a lot about Wonder Woman, and I was fascinated to learn that Greek mythology plays such a big role in her story), well-directed, well-written, and surprisingly well-acted. I didn't know who Gal Gadot was, but I'm so glad they cast her (as it turns out, she's quite bad ass in real life, too). She's phenomenal as Wonder Woman and I'm surprised that it took her this long to get a lead role. Also, she is fit AF.
  • iZombie — I'm kind of obsessed with Blaine. David Anders is so, so good in antagonist roles (e.g. Sark in Alias, Adam Monroe in Heroes, John Gilbert in The Vampire Diaries, Frankenstein/Dr. Whale on Once Upon a Time).
  • Riverdale Holy, plot twist! Can't believe we have to wait until October for Season 2. Arrrggghhhh. 

The last 3 songs I played:
  • Rise Against - Far From Perfect
  • Foo Fighters - Run
  • Incubus - State of the Art

The last 3 apps I used on my phone:
  • Instagram
  • RBC Mobile
  • Music

3 makeup items I used on my face today:

3 things that are sitting closest to me right now (aside from my iPhone):

3 things I'm currently wearing:
  • A grey TNA long-sleeve V-neck tee 
  • A pair of black Drape Pants from Uniqlo
  • A pair of slippers from Uniqlo

3 things I want to accomplish today:
  • Paint my nails because it's been two weeks and they are atrocious
  • Finally organize all the makeup that's been accumulating on my desktop
  • Get my ETR 407 billing account in order and get a new transponder