Saturday, 22 April 2017

Collection Inventory: Blushes, 2017

Clementine posted the blush section of her collection inventory this week, which in addition to being gorgeous and envy-inducing, reminded me that I haven't posted anything in my collection inventory series in two months. Ooops. So following in her footsteps, I present my blush collection.

I underwent a huge blush overhaul in the last few months. It was on the verge of happening for a while prior to me sitting down and getting rid of most of them, mainly because I was frustrated with my loose powder blushes and had stopped using them. Indies have come a long way blush-wise since I started buying loose powder blushes - they were ridiculously pigmented and borderline unusable for me, since they were so finicky. Now they tend to be sheerer, buildable, and easy to blend. But last year, I picked up MAC Mineralize Skinfinish in Star Wonder from a blog sale, and started using it all the time. I realized I hated using loose powders for blush, and much preferred baked or pressed. So I yanked out the remaining loose blushes that I had this winter and finally passed them on. I wasn't going to use them, and it was time to stop pretending. 

That left me with three blushes. Since then I've bumped that number to five, which I am happy to sit at for now, especially since I have three liquid/cream products. I didn't include all of my multiuse items, just the one(s) that I actually use as a blush. For example, I don't regularly use my Bite multistick or my Ere Perez cheek and lip tint as blushes, but I do use my Ere Perez Clever Carrot Cheek & Lip Balm in Happy as a blush, as well as a lip product. 

I've linked reviews where I've written them. Each swatch picture includes a blended out swatch and heavy swipe to see the colour more readily.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Mood Exposure

Sephora describes this as a "soft plum." These blushes have been hyped to death in the beautysphere, but Mood Exposure isn't really on many people's radar. And I guess it's because it's the least interesting of them but damn if it isn't versatile. This goes with everything for me. I will bring it as my only blush and be perfectly happy with it. It's finely milled and easy to blend and adds a beautiful glowy colour to your cheeks, but mainly it's a makeup chameleon for me, and so earns the title of my very favourite blush.

MAC Mineralize Skinfinish in Star Wonder

Star Wonder is described as "plummy pink with multi-dimensional pearl." I picked up mine from a blog sale, but the internet tells me this is from the Heavenly Creatures collection. Cool. Anyway, it's a plum-pink with gold shimmer. It's very pretty, and tends to read more plum on my face. I fully expect to be using this pan as blush when I die, because it will last forever. It's pretty nice - the shimmer is very fine, so you never end up looking like you dipped your face into a disco ball. It's generally glowy and very flattering on me, and while I don't wear it every day anymore, I did for almost a year. So that's a high recommendation, if you ever come across it.

Josie Maran Coconut Watercolour Cheek Gelee in Pink Escape

I picked this up on a whim in December, and I'm so glad I did. This is the mini size (and you can see I've almost hit pan on it), which I decided would be more prudent to see if I actually would use this. I do. A lot. Pink Escape is described as "cool toned pink." It goes on fairly intense and bright, but sinks into the skin really well and gives a natural, luminous flush. Once I get through this pot, I'll be getting a full size for sure. 

Ere Perez Clever Carrot Cheek & Lip Balm in Happy

Original review here.

I just reviewed this, so I'm not going into great detail here, but I'm still completely in love with this. It gives me the perfect in-from-the-cold flush, and it's easy to work with. Lovely.

Glossier Cloud Paint in Beam

Auxiliary Beauty very generously offered to get me a Cloud Paint with her Glossier store credit and shipped it up to me. Probably because all of my comments on her Glossier posts basically end up being "Glossier why don't you want my money." I'll expand my my many feelings about Glossier and this blush in a review to come, but suffice it to say that my first Glossier product is a hit. I really enjoy the texture and wear of Beam, and it's a beautiful colour.

I'm pretty happy with this blush collection. All of them are obviously different colours, including on my face, and I have something to work with most colours I'd wear on my lips. Five is the perfect number.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

New-to-me brands: Ere Perez Cosmetics

I stumbled across Ere Perez Cosmetics...somewhere online. I think I originally read about them at The Zombie Said, but forgot about them for a while until I stumbled across them on a list of indie/natural/obscure/check-out-these-brands-you've-never-heard-of-and-90%-of-them-you'll-never-hear-about-again lists. I decided to find their website, and see what they had to offer - the sleek packaging appealed to me, and while I really don't value natural cosmetics, multi-use products are apparently my new obsession (see that Bite multistick I still haven't reviewed), and Ere Perez has a number of versatile products. I decided to get the Beautiful Beetroot Cheek & Lip Tint in Joy and the Clever Carrot Cheek & Lip Balm in Happy.

Wow, that's a lot of positivity in shade names. 

Super positive names and my skepticism about the virtues of natural versus synthetic aside, I opened the envelope they arrived in with excitement. I ordered them directly from Ere Perez, which is in Australia. They arrived in less than two weeks, had shipped promptly once ordered, and were well packaged and secure for their journey here. I decided to just go ahead and order from Ere Perez directly instead of trying to find a closer stockist for a few reasons: AUD is roughly the same value as CAD so I'm not being killed by the exchange rate; even Amazon 2-Day shipping usually takes 3 days to get here so it was going to take a while anyway; and going through the company directly means I got to have a direct taste of their website and ordering process. Both of which were perfectly fine and I didn't have to talk to anybody, which is the epitome of the shopping experience I like. 

Happy blended out, Happy, Joy

The Beautiful Beetroot Cheek & Lip Tint in Joy is described as "Beautiful beetroot cheek tint – a natural stain for long-lasting cherry red colour. With rosehip extract and organic beetroot pigments, it quickly creates flushed-looking, rosy cheeks and that touch of colour to brighten your skin. A little JOY goes a long way, so use sparingly for softer colour or apply freely for strong intense red if desired. Roll-on, easy to use and waterproof. One of our most popular products because everyone needs a little fun in their lives. Enjoy!"

The colour of this stain is stunning. I love the warmth it gives my face, the longevity is wonderful, and it reminded me how I used to love lip/cheek tints. I used to be all about Benetint - it was the only blush I wore for probably 2-3 years - and the old Body Shop lip/cheek tints. That said, I have no intention of ever using Joy as a cheek tint for a few reasons.

  1. It is SO pigmented. Benetint was hard enough to blend out wet and doesn't have the same level of intensity at all. I will end up with red splotches on my face.
  2. I bought it expressly knowing that I wasn't going to ever use it as a blush.
  3. The packaging. 
I love Joy, I've worn it at least once a week since I got it in the beginning of March, it stands up to my snacking and water drinking even when topped with a clear lip balm, which does cause it to transfer a little. But I am not a fan of the rollerball packaging. It's the same size as a 10ml perfume rollerball. Since I like to wear Joy at its most intense most of the time, I try to apply directly from the rollerball for the most intense colour, and the rollerball is not really precise. I end up using a finger to tidy up, since I don't have any brushes I'd like to stain red right now, and then my finger is red (it comes off, but takes a little work). So yeah. I love Joy but I also dislike it. The rollerball isn't enough to put me off of using the tint, but it's more finicky because of the rollerball than I would like. I expect a certain amount of work for a liquid stain to be even, just maybe not that much work. It's not something I can quickly apply and go. 

It takes a few seconds to full dry down, and then it's basically good for the day, unless you eat something oily, and even then, you could probably keep going, albeit with less intensity.

On the other hand, the Clever Carrot Cheek & Lip Balm in Happy comes in much friendlier packaging. It's described as "Clever crimson cream blush for your cheeks. Harness the natural goodness of carrots and add vibrant colour without the fuss of brushes or applicators. Easy, fuss-free coverage that keeps skin soft and hydrated. Simply dip your finger in and smooth over cheeks. Great for the beach, gym, office or active lifestyle. Small enough to fit in your pocket or wallet, this brilliant little accessory is for girls on the go! Can also be used on lips."

Happy as blush.

I've been dreaming about a great red blush for a while now, and now that I've pared my blushes down to the ones I really, really love, I have the room to have one or two colours like this. Happy looks really natural on me, even though it's a crimson. To wear as blush, I touch my finger to the pan and that's more than enough to blend out on my cheek. It's easy to blend. It doesn't quite last all day - it's definitely faded after lunch and would need a quick touch up if I had somewhere to go after supper (spoiler: I don't, usually). 

Happy as a balm.

On my lips, it's a lovely tinted balm and does stain my lips slightly. It's a much more natural look, even built up, than Joy. I find it great on both cheeks and lips, which is definitely not always the case with multitasking products. The little compact it comes in is adorable and sleek, closes firmly, and lets me see the colour easily. A+ on this one, Ere Perez. Though I'd find it bulky and awkward to stuff in my wallet. I do wish it had a mirror on the inside of the compact, though, because that would really add to the image they're selling with this.

I'm pleased with Ere Perez, even though the rollerball grinds my gears ever so slightly. I have an idea of some other things I'd like to try, but since most of them are cream products, I'm holding off for now. I've suddenly found myself interested in cream/liquid face products, but am trying to really resist exploring this too much because of the relatively low shelf-life. I think one in, one out will be the best plan of action here.

I've been really cautious about trying new brands lately, or even brands that I've not heard much about before and I'm glad this went well. 

And because I probably won't (but never say never) post again this week, happy Easter! I bought chocolate for work, presumably for my users, but I think it's actually becoming just for me, since I grab one every single time I pass the bowl by. Which has been a lot more than usual since I put it out. Hmmmm.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

On the go in rural New Brunswick: What's in my bag?

About two years ago, I posted what I carried in my purse because I love these kinds of revelations, and the best way to encourage people to let me virtually rifle through their bags is to share my own. But since I've shared mine, I've undergone a huge life transition, gotten tired of carrying the same bag all the time (the Roots bag in my first post has been quietly returned to the closet for now, after three and a half years of solid use) and gotten a new one, and have somewhat refined what I carry, since I now do different things and go different places, and don't quite keep my life on my back. Which I never shared anyway. But now, I have an office and a desk, and for the most part what is strictly work stays at work. Except you know, right now, because I dragged my work laptop home to do some work on a research project and ended up witnessing our Skype for Business upgrade. My life can be a basket of thrills. 

But anyway. My purse. I leave my work stuff in my office when I leave at the end of the day, and keep a drawer filled with miscellaneous personal stuff (hairbrush, sunscreen, hand lotion, hand sanitizer, concealer, yogurt covered dried cranberries), but occasionally I go places other than work and home, and I need to have some things with me. I've also been into flatlays lately, as observed on Instagram, and this is just a continuation of that.

I've bounced between a few different sizes of bag since I decided I wanted to branch out. My partner bought me a medium-sized black bag from Danier Leather, shortly before they liquidated. I bought a small crossbody bag from Roots during their Black Friday/Cyber Monday/we're-in-Canada-but-want-to-get-a-slice-of-this-shopping-holiday sale. But after Christmas, I decided I wanted a larger bag, and turned to the Small Grace Bag from Roots. The exact colour and leather of my bag isn't available anymore - I managed to find one they had marked down for clearance and then took advantage of an extra 20% off, so I paid about $175 all-in (15% HST too) and I love a good bargain almost as much as I love looking at the contents of people's bags, or a bright lipstick, or an apple perfume.

One of the drawbacks of this bag is that there aren't many pockets. A couple of slip pockets and a zipped pouch are the total of interior pockets, so things tend to swim around in there. Not really my preference, so I try to minimize the number of small things that might end up on the bottom, impossible to find. The upside of this is that the bag has light interior fabric, so I can see things more easily, and it fits a ton of stuff. Including that waterbottle. 

I probably carry more than I should or really need to most of the time, but I like to be prepared, and I also do usually use the bulk of the items on any given day, so whatever extra I carry doesn't make me feel too bad. I am prone to carrying sentimental things, like the last letter my grandfather wrote to me before he died (not in these pictures because I keep it in a battered Ziploc now. I've carried it in every bag, every day for the last 11 years) but I try to keep those to a minimum.

The goods:
  • purse hook: this is a portable hook that I can use to hang my bag off of...well, anything to keep it off the ground. It's pretty handy.
  • Owl case with headphones: I used to carry the crappy headphones that came with my iPhone in my bag, but ended up leaving those at work in case I needed earbuds there. I stuffed my favourite Sony earbuds in this case my mother in law gave me. 
  • reusable grocery bag: I used to live behind a grocery store that didn't have bags. You had to bring your own. I got used to carrying reusable bags on me at all times, just in case. I also don't like using plastic bags, so I keep this on me to avoid it. Also now it labels me as that weird come from away (which I am not, thankyouverymuch) who is probably a hippie.
  • Moleskine Cahier notebook: good for random doodles and paper on the go.
  • Handkerchief: I bought this at a lace shop in Brussels, when we were there in September. My partner suggested I should probably carry one, and he's right: I am one of those people who start sweating the second it gets over 20C, and having something on hand to blot my face is pretty helpful. Though, let's face it, I haven't been using it a ton the last several months.
  • Space pen: for writing in all environments!
  • pill bottle: this has both Tylenol and Lactaid. Even though I work in a hospital, Tylenol isn't exactly lying around, so I keep my own just in case. Lactaid is for the surprise dairy, like when we have cake and ice cream at work. Which we seem to have an awful lot. No complaints.
  • Random coins: one of these is from Château de Modave, when we were there in September, and the other is from Efteling, when I was in the Netherlands in 2008. I just like to carry these memories with me. Both are happy ones, and remind me of great places I've been.
  • work ID badge: With some blurring of the vital details. It's been fun walking around with a picture of me on my chest that has a radically different hairstyle. It's also an access card, so I need it to get into my library every morning.
  • bus pass: self-explanatory. The bus passes here are comically cheap and I could probably make a fake one myself - I don't, because they aren't that pricey and I more than get my money's worth out of them. 
  • iPhone: I've had my iPhone SE for about a year and still miss my BlackBerry Q10 like crazy. But I do really like this case I recently bought from Oberon Design.
  • Makeup bag: More on this later. I got this bag from lazydoll on Etsy.
  • Wallet: Also from Roots, also purchased during Black Friday/Cyber Monday. It's cute and I like the tassel zipper pull maybe a little too much.
  • Kindle Paperwhite: I dropped my phone on my beloved Kindle Keyboard over the summer and shattered the screen. Still, five and a half years is a good run for any electronic these days. Prime Day occured about a month after the fateful moment, and I ordered a new Kindle at a massive discount. Worth it. My partner had offered me his Kindle as a replacement, but it became pretty clear that he wanted it back even though he said he didn't. Then he tried to angle for the Paperwhite. Go figure.
  • Office key: to open my office, duh. It also opens the library door, but it's more fun to just use my ID on the access panel. I still think it's so cool that I have an office, even though my new office is smaller than my old one. It feels like mine a lot more, though, probably because I'm the first one to occupy this one.
  • Keys: Also library cards. And a Sex on the Beach recipe, because you never know when you need to make a cocktail. Or you have a lot of Bermudian friends and one of them gave you this keychain.
  • Moleskine planner: I have two planner. One is my work planner and it stays at work. This is my personal one, which is kind of a hybrid planner-journal. I write down things I need to do, grocery lists, and appointments, but I also keep track of my daily lipstick and perfume, write down things that happened that day, and keep track of interesting things that strike me.
  • sunglasses and sleeve: I am one of Those People who wear sunglasses even when it's overcast.
  • S'well waterbottle: I'm a princess about cold water and this keeps my water cold all day. Totally worth the ruinous price I paid for it at a local boutique.
And because this is a beauty blog, the contents of my makeup bag: 

  • Lush Charity Pot: this is scented, so I don't use it at work and opt for my desk unscented lotions, but out and about is fine. This is a good lotion. Very moisturizing.
  • Sephora Disney Ariel compact mirror: I love this thing. It's so luxurious, and after four years of use, isn't battered to death.
  • Farmacy Honey Savior All-in-One Skin Repair Salve with Echinacea GreenEnvy Honey: that name. This was a Sephora points perk I grabbed a while ago. This is a nice salve. I use it on dry patches that need some extra love when I'm out and about.
  • nail clippers: these are infant nail clippers, because I have small hands with small nails and finally gave up on trying to use adult-sized clippers.
  • Lush tinted balm in The Kiss: I keep two tinted balms in my purse these days - sometimes I don't feel like reapplying my lipstick of the day or it doesn't look right once I leave my house but still want some colour. This is a sheer, shimmery pink for more muted looks.
  • Pixi tinted balm in Scarlet Sorbet: this one is much more pigmented, being a bright red. For when I still need a bolder lip colour.
  • Refresh False Tears: I keep saline, false tears, and rewetting drops in my desk at work, but also keep false tears on me just in case. I had non-invasive eye surgery in 2011 and 2012, and one of the lasting side-effects has been dry eye. Since I wear mini-scleral contact lenses, which are rigid, I don't need my eyes to be as hydrated as a soft lens wearer, but I occasionally need the boost. Plus having something to flush my eyes is always good.
  • Perfume of the day, if I'm not going to work: I wore Solstice Scents Lemon Ginger Cream today, so it's the placeholder. I'm good at unpacking my bag every night, so things don't build up.
  • HelloWaffle WaffleBalm in Belgian Waffles: I love this lip balm. It smells like maple syrup, and it's plush and comfortable.
  • Lip colour of the day: today I wore Ere Perez Clever Carrot Cheek & Lip Balm in Happy.
L-R: Pixi Scarlet Sorbet, Lush The Kiss

And that's it. Sometimes I try to jam snacks in there, or shoes. I carry my lunch in a mini Sobeys insulated bag, since they're like $2.50 and I never feel bad about chucking one once they fall apart because I usually get a couple of years out of them,which is about the same as a regular lunchbag. I sometimes carry gum, but usually that lives in my desk at work. Occasionally I stuff a camera in there too. My mother remains baffled at how much I love bags, since she doesn't carry one, but oh well. 

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Low Buy Report: March 2017

Full confession: I cheated this month and redeemed a bunch of credit card points/Air Miles/Shoppers Optimum points to get stuff. I did spend a lot of it on replacements and skincare, both of which are not being counted in my budget, but is the use of points to buy a bunch of stuff in the spirit of my low buy? Yes...and no. Yes, because using points to reduce cost is certainly something I can get behind, since reducing the money that I spend on beauty is a good thing. No, because I'm trying to reduce consumption and getting stuff, even for free, is still consumption. Someone somewhere paid for it. This low buy has been going better than I thought, but I don't think it's going as well as I hoped. The latter half of the month, however, I've been directing my consumer energies to actually getting things that I need, like work clothes, because I should probably get rid of the black pants that I wore during my previous career as a retail peon, since they're a little ragged at this point. But I think I'm still not where I need to be in my mindset, so it's time for some deeper soul searching.

That I will report on at the end of April. But for now, here's the results of the month. 

New items

  • Fyrinnae perfume oil samples: Bering Sea, Salish Sea, Ananás, Sucre Brûlé (and free sample Vale of Temple)
Fyrinnae opened their perfume division in March, and I had to grab some samples. I'm a long-time fan of their cosmetics, and I'm curious to test these out. They only arrived yesterday, so I don't have a good sense of them yet, but I liked Sucre Brûlé. Very true to description and realistic.

Total remaining in beauty budget at beginning of month: $182.73
Total purchased this month: $27.00
Total remaining in beauty budget now: $155.73


  • Lush Breath of Fresh Air toner
  • Garnier Fructis Style De-Constructed Pixie Play Extra Strong Hold Crafting Cream
  • Skyn Iceland Pure Cloud Cream
  • Vaseline Lip Therapy in Cocoa Butter 
  • Nuxe Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm Rêve de Miel
Some of these are kind of replacements: my papaw ointment isn't cutting it anymore for a nighttime lip balm, so I decided to get two: the Vaseline, because I quite like it in general from the other times I've used a tin/tub, and the Nuxe balm, because everyone in the blogosphere seems to use it and I had Optimum points. I'm impressed so far, though it's only been a few days. At least my lips haven't fallen off, like with the Bite Agave lip mask.

The Skyn Iceland Pure Cloud Cream is also a replacement: I had a jar in the fall, finished it, and replaced it with Arctic Hydrating Balm. Now that it's spring, I'm looking for a lighter cream and the Cloud Cream should work well for this time of year. 

Lush Breath of Fresh Air is because I wanted something to spray on my face, pretty much. I use it sparingly so far. It'll probably be in heavier rotation once summer hits. 

And finally, the Garnier cream is to add some texture to my hair. All of the hair products I have are better for when I have long, wavy hair, which is not at all what I'm rocking these days.


  • Lush lip gloss in The Kiss
  • Covergirl Katy Kat Eye Mascara in Perry Blue
  • Covergirl So Lashy! blastPRO mascara in Extreme Black
  • Lush lip scrub in Chocolate
  • Batiste Dry Shampoo in Divine Dark
I picked up The Kiss as a replacement for the tinted balm I kept in my purse (Hurraw Black Cherry), which I somehow lost at work. It hasn't turned up in the move, so I think it's gone forever. I don't typically buy two mascaras at once, but Jean Coutu was having a sale, and I wanted to try both. So Lashy is pretty great so far, but Perry Blue is kind of a disappointment. It's not a very flattering blue on me, and while I expected it to be subtle, it's kind of a dull colour. Still fun to wear, though. I like bouncing between a typical black mascara and a coloured one.

After several months of using Lush's lip scrub in Popcorn, I just can't use it anymore. I hate the taste. I made it about halfway through the jar before pitching it. Chocolate tastes like a Terry's Chocolate Orange, which is much more palatable. And similarly, I picked up the Batiste dry shampoo in Divine Dark, because I have the original and hate the white cast. 

Points purchases

  • NYX Vivid Brights Liquid Eyeliner in Vivid Blossom
  • Lush bath bomb in Chick 'N' Mix
  • Ere Perez Beautiful Beetroot Cheek & Lip Tint in Joy
  • Ere Perez Clever Carrot Cheek & Lip Balm in Happy
Some of these were outright redemption, others were picked up with Visa gift cards purchased with points. Which are rad, and I'm not even being paid to say that (no one would try to pay me to say something, I assure you). I've used up the Chick 'N' Mix bomb, which was nice. It's kind of pricey, but is three pieces, so three baths. 

I'm still experimenting with Vivid Blossom, but it is really pretty and easy enough to control. The brush tip is decently fine. 

Ere Perez is a brand I came across by chance, based in Australia. They drew me in with their sleek packaging and multiuse products. I really like both items I picked up - the lip and cheek tint is a great colour for me, and the lip and cheek balm is versatile and blendable. I'll do a review of these later. 

L-R: Ere Perez Beautiful Beetroot Cheek & Lip Tint in Joy,  Ere Perez Clever Carrot Cheek & Lip Balm in Happy, Lush lip gloss in The Kiss, NYX Vivid Brights Liquid Eyeliner in Vivid Blossom

I'm really pleased with my purchases this month - the only impulse was the NYX liner - but...I'm just over halfway through my beauty budget for the year, and only one quarter of the way through the year. Yikes. Soul searching for sure in April.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

2017 Reads: January - March

After documenting all the books I read in 2015, I said I was going to try to do something different with blogging about the books I read in 2016 and then basically never wrote about any of the few books I read in 2016. I've been trying to rebuild my love of reading again: after finally figuring out a balance in grad school, I graduated, moved into the workforce, and now have to figure out how to balance my leisure reading with work reading, which includes not only stuff I read for professional development purposes, but the many many many article abstracts that I screen each week while doing literature searches. Usually when I get home from work, I'm tapped out. I do not want to read any books. I barely want to open my laptop and read my personal emails. I squeeze in some reading during my half-hour lunch break every day, but otherwise, it hasn't really been happening. But I decided to consciously change that this year. I'm still not as prolific as I once was, but I'm easing back into it. And so to help me keep track of the books I've read, I'm going to post these quarterly book updates of all the new books I've read. Sometimes I like to reread books, particularly as my before bed book (if I manage to do that at all), but I'm trying to focus on books I haven't read and getting through the book backlog I've acquired. 

I'm not setting myself any goals, other than to write these quarterly posts. I feel like I'm barely reading anything at all, but I know that's a skewed perspective. So this will help me figure out where I am.

I'm also posting today because I'm not going to finish a new book by tomorrow.

Jessica Jones: Alias vols 1-4 - Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos

I've been dying to read Alias since grade 11 or 12, when my English teacher mentioned it as one of his favourite Marvel series. He spoke a bit about the origins of Jessica Jones, and the darker, grittier tone of her story. I wanted to know more - I've never been huge into comics, despite taking a course on comics (titled Narrative, Genre, and the Superhero. I think it's officially listed on my transcript as Science Fiction and Fantasy...which is wrong, but whatever. It was an amazing class). I love art and I love the idea of comics, but I tend to find them visually stressful. I also don't really like dual monitors for the same reason.

But that was almost eight years ago. I've been looking for it on and off for most of those eight years, but it proved impossible to find. It was out of print for a while, and then any used copies were roughly a billion dollars. I came close once, finding volumes 2, 3, and 4 of Alias on the clearance shelf at a local game store, but they didn't have volume 1 and after checking a handful of vendors online to see if I could track down volume 1 for a not-ruinous price, I was unsuccessful, and had to leave them behind. But then Netflix created a new series, Jessica Jones, and suddenly Alias became much easier to find. Over Christmas, my partner and I went to his favourite comic/game store several times, and I picked up volumes 3 and 4 of Alias. I ordered volumes 1 and 2 on Amazon as soon as we got home. 

I was drawn to Alias because of the aggressive rejection that Jessica makes of being a superhero, having given up that mantle, but still being stuck in it, because she can't toss off her powers or her relationships with other mutants. It's a sad story, and Jessica is a hot mess, but she's still compelling and gritty and strong, despite how her life has turned out. I'm excited to watch the Netflix series now.

Wild - Cheryl Strayed

I set out to read this after watching the Gilmore Girls revival, since it comes up in that, and I was pretty hazy on the reference. I managed to gather the context from the plot, but still, I decided to read the book to really get it. This is a memoir: Cheryl Strayed hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in the 1990s and this is about her hike and everything that brought her to the PCT. For someone who never wants to actually do one of these hikes - my long distance travel dream is to drive across Canada - I like reading memoirs about hiking. I enjoyed Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods, for example. Wild fills the same kind of interest. Going out into the woods to find myself is not something I've ever felt the need to do, especially since I live in one of the most wooded areas in Canada, but I can understand the need to do that. Nature is transformative. Wild is interesting and reflective. Strayed doesn't shy away from talking about all of the negative parts of herself, and how she ended up on the PCT. And she's pretty clear about the fact that she was inexperienced and unprepared. And I like that. It was a good read. 

The part that struck me the most was the burning of the books - not because I think it's sacrilege to get rid of printed material; I had a dumpster in the back of my library while reading this that reveals the ease with which I weed - but because it was a literal shedding of words and memories and the weight of the books. It's an act that works as a measure of healing.

Hag-Seed - Margaret Atwood

This is part of the Hogarth Shakespeare series of retellings of Shakespeare plays. Hag-Seed is based around The Tempest. It's about the staging of a production of The Tempest in a prison as part of an education program. It's also about the revenge that a disgraced director seeks on those who wronged him, and the layers of The Tempest in the book are quite interesting - the play being staged by the prisoners, and the way that the director's life parallels The Tempest in many ways. It starts off a bit slow and quite a lot tragic, but I was quietly drawn in. Not my favourite Atwood, but I still liked it.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Jack Thorne

Well, that's two hours of my life I'll never get back. I know, plays are meant to be seen and not read, but me spending $18 to preorder from Amazon was way more realistic than me going to London to watch it. And I think part of me knew, well before I spoiled myself, that Cursed Child was not going to be good, since it took me six months to get around to reading it. It was mediocre as fuck. Seriously the only way I can describe it - it wasn't as bad as I thought it might be after I read a summary of it, but it definitely wasn't great. The premise was flimsy and the dialogue was weak. It didn't ruin Harry Potter for me, but I do regret reading because I could have done literally anything else.

Extreme Vinyl Cafe and Vinyl Cafe Turns the Page - Stuart McLean

These are two different collections of short stories, but I paired them together because they're both about the same thing. For those unfamiliar with The Vinyl Cafe, it was a weekly show on CBC Radio. I have many memories of my father turning on the radio at noon sharp, telling all of us to shut up, and we would listen to The Vinyl Cafe. It was a music and story show, featuring little-known Canadian musicians, a story exchange from listeners, and the best of all, a few stories told by Stuart McLean. A lot of them centred around the fictional family of Dave and his wife Morley, and their kids Stephanie and Sam, who lived in Toronto. And it included their friends and their neighbourhood and various adventures and usually, their mishaps. The Vinyl Cafe also happens to be the name of Dave's record shop. 

If there's one thing I could point to as true Canadiana, it would be The Vinyl Cafe. It was the first radio show I remember listening to (and possibly the last, since I'm not much of a radio person). It's charming and comforting and Stuart McLean was delightfully folksy. The Vinyl Cafe stories are funny and relatable and sometimes sad in that wistful, nostalgic way.

Stuart McLean died on February 15, 2017. And of all the celebrity deaths in the last year and some change, this is the one where I stopped and cried over it. And then I pulled myself together to hunt up some CDs and the written collections of short stories. I snagged these two on Kindle, since most of the CDs and print books are out of stock and backordered on (but of course). I finished both of these collections in one sitting, and heard Stuart's voice in my head while I paged through the stories. I laughed. I cried. 

Thank you, Stuart.

Company Town - Madeline Ashby

This is one of this year's Canada Reads books. I love Canada Reads, mostly because it's such a great way to discover Canadian books. I generally read a lot of CanLit anyway, but Canada Reads helps me flush out my list. Company Town is the first one that I've read from this year's contenders. It's got a few huge pluses for me: it's set on a city-sized oil rig off the coast of Newfoundland so it's set in a part of the world I know and it's about a world in which a family company owns a town and essentially controls everything. Being a New Brunswicker and therefore living in the land of Irving (more on that later), this is vitally interesting to me. It's also a dystopian murder mystery. Which is cool. Overall, it was enjoyable, though the world-building felt weak to me at times.

Irving vs. Irving: Canada's Feuding Billionaires and the Stories They Won't Tell - Jacques Poitras

I know I said I wasn't going to document rereads, but I'm making an exception here. I read this book first in 2014, when it came out and I asked my brothers to get it for me for Christmas. Since then it was rereleased with a new afterward, and I wanted to read that too. I also feel like Irving vs. Irving is a little more relevant to my life again, because I've moved back to New Brunswick. Not familiar with the Irvings? This should get you started. New Brunswick is a company province, and the Irvings own us. They even own almost all of our newspapers. I shared this satire piece a while ago, which discusses Irving closing up New Brunswick and laying off the entire population...which is funny but also darkly true. Irving vs. Irving gives a good overview of the family and company structure, the slow breakdown of the family unity, and the conflict of interest that having the family that is often the biggest story of the province controlling the news media (this is less of an issue in the internet age but it's still pretty damn scary). I found it fascinating the first time I read it, but as I wasn't living in NB at the time and had no idea that in less than a year, I'd be home again, I feel I missed some of the finer points. It was certainly much darker to me this time. 

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

From the Archives: Solstice Scents Estate Vanilla

I'm jumping way ahead in my perfume archive here, and heading straight for one of my very favourite (and most expensive) scents, Solstice Scents Estate Vanilla. I reviewed this one in October 2015, when I had been testing a sample sprayer of it for some weeks. However, my sample came to an end after using most of it up and the bottle shattering in my hand one time (I think that the EdP sample bottles have been changed, based on the pictures on Solstice Scents' website). Some months later, the 60ml bottles were finally for international sale at The Rhinestone Housewife, and I made my order. It took approximately forever to get here, being stuck in transit, but it made it here, albeit after a hefty customs charge because the limit for importing to Canada is actually $20 and you can be nailed for anything over that. So not only was it already pricey because of the $85 pricetag, currency conversion, and shipping, it was even more expensive than that I originally thought. But was it worth it?

Yeah, I think so. Estate Vanilla remains one of the most exquisite vanillas I've ever smelled, and it is such a fine, elegant scent that I had to have it. I've been saving to buy a bottle ever since it was released, though for once bought the sample to make sure I was right. Officially described as "Raw Vanilla Pods, Vanilla Infused Sugar, Cream & Vanilla Extract. Our Rich House Vanilla," Estate Vanilla is a rich, layered vanilla, sweet and creamy, with a hint of the boozy purity of vanilla extract. I don't normally like alcohol-based scents, because of the ever-present alcohol scent, but this one burns off that prominent alcohol-scent pretty quickly - plus the boozy note in the scent helps temper the scent from the base.

I don't really have any memories of this one. I wore it on the day of my partner's sister's wedding, because it was a far more suited to a wedding, even a fun casual one, than most of my other scents. And personality. And entire wardrobe. I'm a pretty informal person. Estate Vanilla, I feel, is not really a scent for my past, but one for my future. I can see it being a go-to for any and all formal occasions. It does really cling to my clothes, though, so it might end up being a scent for all occasions. We'll see. 

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Declutter All the Things

I've mentioned the department renovations I've been dealing with at work on here and on Instagram, and part of that involved me moving offices, from the old librarian office to a new one constructed in the library space. The problem with this is that I had to pack up my entire office, move it to a temporary space, and then into a new office (which is mostly done now, thankfully). "But Alison," you say, "You had only been in that job for a year when you had to move. How much could you have in your office?" 

And to that I say, yes, you're right. I didn't have all that much stuff in there. It was all the stuff I inherited from the previous librarians, and in particular, the original librarian. She retired in 2010, and while my predecessors did delve into the pile of things she left behind, there was still an incredible amount of stuff in my office, because she was very old-school and saved. literally. every. single. thing. I was able to piece together the first 15 years of the library by copies of emails and invoices. I read everything to make sure I wasn't tossing anything useful. And while lots of it was interesting and informative, most of it was useless here in 2017. I think I saved two files after hours of sorting through papers and files and even plastic overwraps from journals that disintegrated all over me because you're not supposed to keep them for 15 years (I think I actually screamed in frustration. It looked like I'd murdered a plastic bag). I think I threw out three-quarters of all of the stuff in my old office, and still have useless things I need to pitch (I labour under the delusion that I will read some of the books on my office bookshelf that I've saved from weeding. In twenty years, some poor new librarian will be cursing the air blue with my name, probably after she stubs her toe on the same ridiculously large desk).

All of this is a roundabout way to say that I've been very cognizant of stuff lately (by lately I mean, the last four months). And how I have so much of it, or am dealing with other people's. If anything, dealing with the material aspects of my work has probably cured me of hoarding anything ever again. Which is probably why, after I ran out of space in my recycling bins at work, I came home and started in on my own stuff. My kitchen, my closet, my shoes, my personal documents, even my hard drive. I took a look at my perfume, but I did a good pass through there a couple of months ago and haven't added much to it since. And then finally, I set in on my makeup. 

A lot of the makeup I decluttered are things that I liked. Things that I reviewed favourably, or things that I enjoyed immensely. But a lot of them are things that I bought before I started transitioning to being a working professional and my aesthetic has changed a lot over the last couple of years. Some of them were loved, but I now have items that are better or I have other items which already filled that purpose.

I decided to get rid of a lot of the lipsticks I had originally decided to pan, mostly because I put them on my pan list because I wasn't enjoying them anymore, but that wasn't inspiring me to use them. I just wanted them gone. I'll pass some of these to friends or finally get my ass in gear and sell some on Reddit or maybe even have a blog sale (we'll see. I have low motivation when it comes to doing things in the early spring. It's so blah). I've also continued to whittle down my eyeshadow collection and just admit that I really don't wear any, and when I do, I usually go to one of two palettes or my Fyrinnae singles. Accept reality, self. The eyeshadow-heavy collection of old is almost no more. 

I also wasn't systematic in how I picked these things. I tend to open the drawer I keep my makeup in, take a look at it and pick out the things that I haven't reached for in a while. If I'm unsure, I might swatch or try on the product again to see why I haven't been using it. I might play with the packaging if there's something about it I don't like or remember not being fond of it (like wobbly case, loose hinges, weak magnets). 

The results, featuring some quick swatches in the late afternoon sun:


Top: Colourpop Monster, Shiro White Chocolate Frog, Shiro The Last Unicorn, Blackbird Pumpkin Pie
Bottom: HelloWaffle Jelly Bean. HelloWaffle Awoke At Dawn, HelloWaffle Wings of a Fly, Blackbird Kitten Kiss

A mix of highlighters and blushes here:
  • Colourpop Monster: I still love the shift of this one, but it's crossed over to dried out.
  • Shiro White Chocolate Frog: This is a little too intense for my preferred style of highlight, and pure white highlighters are not my thing anymore - too boring.
  • Shiro The Last Unicorn: Same as White Chocolate Frog, this one is too intense. It is a gorgeous blue-purple shimmer, but I never reach for it.
  • Blackbird Pumpkin Pie: A friend bought me this blush, and it's beautiful. Lovely colour, easy to blend, slight glow. But she had such an awful experience buying from Blackbird (went way over TAT, had to email to get it) that I think of that every time I wear it, which sucks. I'm also not into loose powder blushes anymore. They're too finicky. 

L-R: Blackbird Kitten Kiss, Blackbird Pumpkin Pie, HelloWaffle Jelly Bean, HelloWaffle Awoke at Dawn, HelloWaffle Wings of a Fly, Shiro The Last Unicorn, Shiro White Chocolate Frog, Colourpop Monster

  • HelloWaffle Jelly Bean: When I got into highlighters, I snapped up way too many pinky highlighters. This is one of them.
  • HelloWaffle Awoke at Dawn: Gorgeous rose gold, but it's a touch too warm for me.
  • HelloWaffle Wings of a Fly: Same thing as Jelly Bean. Sooooo many pinky highlighters.
  • Blackbird Kitten Kiss: Same thing as Pumpkin Pie. Shame, because I really liked this one. I thought about pressing it, but I don't love it that much.

This is my palette of pressed indie shadows. I don't ever reach for any of them. I might take out the four Baroque shadoes, because I've at least used them in the last several months, but everything else hasn't been touched in ages. I've been seriously considering getting rid of the remainder of my eyeshadows and creating a custom palette to fill my needs perfectly when I do want to wear shadow. Saying good-bye to most or all of these is the start to that.


L-R: Bite Mauvember 2016, Bite Mauvember, MAC Viva Glam VI, MAC Stone, Limnit What Lies Beneath, Colourpop Peacocky, Urban Decay Amulet, Rituel de Fille Love-Ache
  • Bite Mauvember 2016: This one was a redder mauve, so I thought it would be a better fit on my face than Mauvember, from 2015. It still looks off to me, no matter what I do, so out it goes.
  • Bite Mauvember: I was going to pan this, but I can't make it look good. It clashes with my undertones majorly.
  • MAC Viva Glam VI: A shimmery brown plum, I liked it once and continue to like it in theory, but feel like it's not as flattering as it could be.
  • MAC Stone: An unusual taupe, it's interesting, but looks dreadful on me. It sucks all the colour out of my face.
L-R: Bite Mauvember 2016, Bite Mauvember, MAC Viva Glam VI, MAC Stone, Limnit What Lies Beneath, Colourpop Peacocky, Urban Decay Amulet, Rituel de Fille Love-Ache
  • Limnit What Lies Beneath: I know I wrote about this a few weeks ago as a great winter colour (and it is) but I forgot to cap my tube properly the last time I used it and now it's stiff, dry, and draggy. May it rest in peace.
  • Colourpop Peacocky: This is a sheer Lippie Stix that I was going to pan, since it has a tendency to leave behind an obnoxious pink stain. As it turns out, I don't like dealing with the stain.
  • Urban Decay Amulet: A mini I got from a Sephora code, the colour sucks and the formula is both unremarkable and not my favourite.
  • Rituel de Fille Love-Ache: One of the Enchanted Lip Sheers, I thought this would be a lovely lip tint. It is, once you manage to get it on. It's also stiff and draggy. I'm not trying to make it work anymore.

A good chunk of stuff is now moved out. I've reduced my storage, so I don't have a bunch of room that might tempt me into filling it back up. It feels good! I still think Marie Kondo's spark of joy decluttering nonsense is ridiculous, but when it comes to beauty, she has a point.