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:

Face

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.
Eyes


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.

Lipstick

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. 

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Late Exploration: Bite Discovery Set

It may seem kind of ridiculous to buy a holiday sampler set meant to introduce a makeup enthusiast to a brand when said makeup enthusiast is already a fan of the brand. But the Bite Discovery Set from the holiday 2016 sets was already a good deal when it came out, and became an even better deal when the price was dropped to $32. The set had two full-sized products (an Amuse Bouche lipstick and a Matte Crème lip pencil) and two minis (the Agave Lip Mask and the Line & Define Lip Primer). An Amuse Bouche in Canada is $30, so being interested in both of the full sizes made this an easy call. I snapped it up. 



Top Beetroot, bottom Léché

L-R: Léché, Beetroot

I've already talked about how I like both the Amuse Bouche and the Matte Crème formulas. One of the biggest selling points was the opportunity to get a Matte Crème lip pencil in a more every day kind of shade - I love Blood Orange, but it's decidedly bright and summery. Léché is described as a "dusty pale pink." Léché is a beautiful MLBB for me. It's long-wearing and comfortable and doesn't transfer too heavily onto my water bottle or coffee mug. These are very important things. 

Léché

The Amuse Bouche is Beetroot, which is described as "bold berry." Holy hell, is it ever. It's actually incredibly similar to Kir Royale (both swatched here), which is also bright and heavily pigmented. However, the Amuse Bouche formula stays on my inner lip for much longer than the the Luminous Crème, so I destashed Kir Royale once I compared them. 

Beetroot

The two new-to-me products were the most interesting, even if they aren't colour cosmetics: the Line & Define Primer and the Agave Lip Mask. The Agave Lip Mask is a crowd favourite, and a bunch of my makeup friends swear by it.


The Agave Lip Mask is thick, a bit sticky, and best for overnight treatment. And it worked...the first night. My lips were smooth and plump and flake-free. The second night, my lip shrivelled up and cracked and flaked like crazy. I stopped using the mask and let my lip heal. And then tried it again, just to see if it was the mask. It was. My lips hate continued use of the mask, which sucks. But at least I never cracked and wasted $30 on the Maple Agave Lip Mask to find this out.

I've never been into lip liner, but now that I have a job where I try to keep lipstick on my face for most of the day, I've been thinking that they might be a good idea. But of course, being cheap, I want one that I could use with a lot of colours. I had a Kae Q clear liner, but it recently went off and I finally chucked it. The Bite lip primer seemed like a good thing to try out. And it kind of is? But I think I'm going to end up with a few actual, coloured lip liners, anyway, because while the Bite lip primer did seem to increase the longevity of my lipsticks and give them something waxy to grab onto, it's minty. And using mint lip products in the winter time is a big old nope for me. Come on, Bite! You have to know better than this! I'll use the primer in the summer, but a full size is out of the question

I'm still glad I got the Discovery Set, even though the two things I really wanted to try fell flat. I got two full sized lipsticks for a steal and got to test out some other products in manageable sizes. Although now I have this semi useless tin.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Arcana Vanilla Craves Fireworks

The very last perfume purchase I made in 2016 was a fairly fitting one: Arcana Vanilla Craves Fireworks, a nice celebratory scent for the new year. I did a pretty good job of avoiding winter collections, but I still have the softest spot in my perfume-loving heart for Arcana and decided to get one of the scents that called to me the most. I already have plenty of scents that smell like Christmas trees and general festive things  (like Solstice Scents Winslow's and One Hand Washes the Other Stuffed Stockings). And actually, I do have plenty of scents that are New Year's themed, but I can't resist a champagne note in a perfume. I also hadn't tried any of the Vanilla Craves scents. So despite the fact that I really don't need any more perfume oil now or possibly ever, I ordered Vanilla Craves Fireworks.


The scent is described as "The scent of New Year's Eve. Rich black leather accord, incense-infused dark vanilla, and a splash of champagne." I'm not really big on leather notes as a rule - I don't often buy scents with leather in them. See my About page where I explicitly say I don't like leather notes. I always find leather notes to be much heavier than the scent of leather is in reality. I like the scent of a new leather bag or wallet or something, but I've yet to find a leather note that has the same soft, supple scent. 

However, my love of champagne and the fizziest of notes apparently trumps my dislike of leather. Is champagne my new favourite note? I mean, I refused to buy an apple scent that had rose in it and I dislike rose with about the same ferocity as I dislike leather...I'm going to set aside this possibly life-changing realization for the moment and focus on Vanilla Craves Fireworks.

It is pretty leather heavy. I can't get around that. The leather accord is dark, heavy, and dominant. On cold sniff from the bottle, it's dark leather and rich vanilla, with bright fizzy bubbles. The champagne seems almost at odds with the other parts of the scent. It's so bright and light and fun, while the other parts aren't.

Once on my skin, the vanilla almost totally vanishes. I get lots of black leather and champagne. As it sinks into my skin, the leather becomes mellower, and I think this where the vanilla went: smoothing out the leather. The leather that feels so harsh at the beginning of wear steps back some after an hour or so, and the scent becomes more balanced. The bite of the bubbles from the champagne is gone at this point, but it's still light and airy. This is the point where the scent became more harmonious to me, and made more sense. It's not even close to my usual preferences, but I really like it once it settles down on my skin. I've been wearing it a lot more than I expected after the first time I tried it out. 

The throw is low-moderate, sticking close by but not so close that you can't get a whiff now and again. The longevity is wonderful, lasting ten hours on my skin. There is something to be said for darker, heavier perfumes! Though longevity usually isn't a problem for me. 

Vanilla Craves Fireworks has been a happy surprise for me. So different from my usual fare, but then again, that seems to be the theme of 2017 so far, for me: stepping outside of my comfort zone and finding some happy surprises. 

Saturday, 11 March 2017

From the Archives: One Hand Washes the Other Indiependence Day 2013

Yay, the second installment of my perfume archive series! This is the second oldest scent that remains in my perfume collection (it's gone through a lot of editing over time), One Hand Washes the Other Indiependence Day 2013. I picked this one up in a July 4th sale at OHWTO, in 2013. What a surprise on the year! This was a limited edition, and only 20 bottles were ever made. I'm not totally sure why I wanted to pick up a scent that was a play on Independence Day, which is a holiday in a country I don't live in, but I suspect that it has to do with the description: "What's more American than apple pie? Apple spice cake! Well, maybe not but hey! Slices of red delicious and granny smith apples sammiched between layers of buttery spiced yellow cake!"



In the summer of 2013, I was newly graduated from university, had just moved in with my partner, was working as a general office minion at the university I was going to be attending in the fall for library school, and in the beginning of my indie perfume exploration. I was also hellbent on getting the perfect apple scent, a quest that's somewhat subsided since I got Arcana Apples Crave Apples, but I still keep an eye out for a good one. I was making a decent-sized order at OHWTO, in search of that magnificent apple, and with the sale discount, I calculated it was cheaper to toss another bottle of perfume in my order to hit the next discount tier or something than not. So I picked it up. And have loved it for three and a half years. 



Indiependence Day 2013 is one of those scents that I don't pick up very much, but when I do, I am reminded of how much I love it. It's a relatively simple scent concept, but it's so well-blended and has aged beautifully, to create a much richer scent. In the bottle, it smells like warm spices and cake, with a hint of fresh apple. On my skin, it's delicious fresh apples, tart and sweet, plus cake and a hint of spice to temper the sweetness. It's rich and delicious. I really like the fresh apple notes with the cake, rather than baked apple and cinnamon that you might expect. It's got great sillage and moderate throw, and I think both of these have gotten stronger with age, though not overwhelming.

This one has survived tons of perfume weeding, for all that I don't wear it enough, and I think it's because it remains an understated scent. It's beautiful and easy to wear and reliable, which is not exciting, but it is still great. It's a solid, trusty scent. 

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Jumping on the Bandwagon Late (Again): Liquid Lipsticks

I've been pretty vocal about how I don't like liquid lipsticks, and especially matte liquid lipsticks. But as their popularity marched on, I knew that I was going to crumble at some point and buy one. That moment came in January. I had tried @eyelined's Life's Entropy Lip Theory in Chaos back in December and loved the doefoot packaging and the comfort of the formula. I had tried the Lip Theories before, but none of the new ones with different finishes and not since they'd switched to doefoots (I think they're now on a newer doefoot container, but I picked an older Lip Theory from a stockist to buy, so whatever). I decided to give it a shot.

And then Wet n Wild had their Canadian shipping promotion, so @eyelined and I made an order. I'd been seeing the buzz for the new Liquid Catsuit liquid lipsticks, but they hadn't made it to Canada yet and we weren't sure if they were coming (Wet n Wild is kind of sporadic in their Canadian releases and they have a kind of weird, incomplete selection of their GC). I decided I'd get one Liquid Catsuit to try out - they're cheap, so I wouldn't feel bad if I hated it. 

The last two arrived in the form of a Sephora code. Remember how I said I was going to stop picking up mini lipsticks from codes or point perks because they're there? Yeah, that crumbled a bit. There was a code for two mini liquid lipsticks, Urban Decay's new liquid lipstick in Amulet, and Armani Beauty Ecstasy Lacquer in 402 Red to Go. I got them. I tried them. I did not learn my lesson from last time, and it remains to be seen if I'll learn it this time.



Because of the fortuitous timing of getting four liquid lipsticks at once (seriously, they all arrived in the mail the same day), I decided to wear and test them all during the same time period. And now review them all in the same post, making it all nice and tidy.

A few overall things I noted during my tests:

  • I much prefer the old style of liquid lipsticks - one that don't dry down matte
  • I still think matte liquid lipsticks are unflattering on most people, including me
  • I drink a lot of water and eat a lot of food at my desk at work (important because some of the testing was at work)
  • Mid-range brands coming out with liquid lipsticks at this point are way behind the curve and better be offering the moon because otherwise they're boring
  • My lips tend to feel like they're going to fall off my face after a day with matte liquid lipstick and I DO NOT like this
  • I prefer bullet lipsticks and I knew that before trying these. And yet, I still have my eye on a Sephora Cream Lip Stain because I am insane
L-R: Nudist Peach, Biohazard, Amulet, 402 Red to Go

Life's Entropy Lip Theory in Biohazard



Do you like matte liquid lipsticks? Is transfer a problem for you? Do you dislike metallic shifts veering on frosty? You should avoid Biohazard if so. Biohazard is not matte, it doesn't ever dry down, and the metallic sheen can definitely read as frosty in the right (unflattering fluorescent) lighting. But it's so pretty! 

It's described as "A pinky red with green shimmer." Personally, I think the shimmer reads more blue, and the pink is more mauve than red, but whatever. I bought it based on swatches I'd seen, rather than the description. It's a lightweight, non-drying formula. It isn't a matte liquid lipstick. There is some transfer throughout the day, but the base colour lasts a long time. The shimmer wears off first throughout the day, which is a nice change from most shimmery products I've tried: the shimmer tends to stick around much longer than the base colour, and you end up with disco ball lips when you reapply. 

This is probably, unsurprisingly, my favourite of my liquid lipsticks.

Wet n Wild MegaLast Liquid Catsuit Matte Lipstick in Nudist Peach



The hype for these is well-deserved, I think. The price point is excellent and the formula is excellent. Nudist Peach is one of the more finicky colours, but even so it's not tricky to apply. It goes on a little patchy, but is easily corrected while it's still wet. It takes a few minutes to dry down, but once it does, it's transfer proof. It's not comfortable, but it didn't totally suck the life out of my lips. I got about five hours of wear out of this before I had to touch up - there was some wear on my inner lip after my work morning of drinking loads of water and having a couple of snacks.

Nudist Peach is a lovely peach colour with not too much white in it. It's a really good spring or summer colour, I think. It's too light to be matching my boots and sweater right now. Matte liquid lips may not be my favourite, but I will wear this. Will I pick up another Liquid Catsuit? Maybe. One of the darker colours, if I do. 

Urban Decay Vice Liquid Lipstick in Amulet



This mini is a paltry 0.75ml, despite the hefty packaging. I posted on Instagram about hating Amulet in the regular Vice bullets. The same is true for Amulet in liquid form. Urban Decay is kind of late to the liquid lipstick game, since these were just launched, and I'm not sure what they offer to an already crowded selection of liquid lipsticks. They're mid-range, so unlike Wet n Wild, they don't have the price point going for them, and their formula isn't mind-blowing. It's perfectly fine. It dries down relatively quickly, it doesn't transfer, it holds up reasonably well to food and drink, and it's not super drying (though more drying than the Liquid Catsuits). I'm not really impressed.

Amulet is supposed to be a warm plum with a metallic finish, but it reads way, way, way more brown to me. And one that isn't flattering. The metallic finish looks dull in liquid lip form. Ehhh. I will say that despite the paltry amount of product in the mini tube, it's well made and luxurious - heavy like the Revolution lipstick tubes were.

Giorgio Armani Beauty Ecstasy Lacquer in 402 Red to Go



This mini is 1.5ml, so despite the small footprint of the tube, there's a good amount in there. This isn't a matte liquid lipstick either - it's got more of a velvety finish and never sets, somewhat similar to the Colourpop Ultra Satins, but not quite as gloopy. This red is striking - I love how it looks on me - but I think I want it in another one of Armani's liquid lips were I to pick one up, just because this feels a little too smeary for such a bold, colour. It is fairly comfortable, though. It does wear off in the middle after a few hours, especially when you're constantly guzzling water like me. The colour stains nicely, though, so it never looks too patchy as it wears. 

Am I a liquid lipstick convert? Nope. I was right in that they aren't my preferred format, but I can see some merits for them. The longevity is definitely a plus, though as an office-dwelling worker, I have the freedom to reapply my lipstick whenever it pleases me to do so, and I certainly take advantage of it. But for times when I can't whip out my compact and tube of lipstick, I might keep a couple of shades around. The Wet n Wild formula seems like a good candidate for that. Now they just have to make it to rural NB!

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Low Buy Report: February 2017

February was kind of a terrible month, but the nice thing about it is that it's short, and we survived. And for all of the awfulness of this particular February, a few really amazing things happened:

  • found out I'm going to be an aunt later this year! Inspiration to cut back on lipsticks and start shopping for tiny shoes and board books.
  • I finally got my driver's license. Inspiration to cut back on highlighters, because while I've proven you can live in my small, rural home without a car, it's kind of impractical long term.
  • I took the plunge and cut off all of my hair after thinking about it for a really long time. And I love it. Inspiration to...spend less on shampoo?

The bad thing that is beauty related is that I didn't heed my own words about spending less of my beauty budget in February, and so will have to be more mindful. The better thing is that I haven't bought a thing in three weeks. 

I also benefited from a well-timed gift card for Sephora, which I used to pick up the newest Becca highlighter. 

The same info as last month: Product prices are in CAD, with tax added as applicable (in my province, 15%). I've converted to CAD when needed. And a note on shipping: when I've purchased items with replacements, I haven't included the cost of shipping with the new 
item.



New Items


  • Fyrinnae liquid eyeliner in Sharp Enough ($8.44)
  • Arcana perfume oil in Fezziwig ($28.75)
  • Wet n Wild Liquid Catsuit Matte Lipstick in Nudist Peach ($6.55)
  • Wet n Wild Colour Icon Rainbow Highlighter ($7.98)
Total remaining in beauty budget at beginning of month: $234.45
Total purchased this month: $51.72
Total remaining in beauty budget now: $182.73

L-R: Rainbow highlighter, Sharp Enough, Nudist Peach

While I don't normally like liquid liners, I've been eyeing Fyrinnae's since they came out. The colours are stunning. So when it came time to make an order for some staples from Fyrinnae, I tossed Sharp Enough into my cart. It's such a beautiful metallic purple. I've only worn it a couple of times, and it seems to hold up well, but the brush that comes with it sucks. I'm probably going to have to use a separate liner brush to put it on, which sucks.

Arcana Fezziwig is described as "Spiced gingerbread, honey, treacle, raspberry ale, warm cardamom, sweet benzoin and aged vetiver." I've had my eye on it since it came back as a limited run this Christmas, and for some reason was feeling Christmassy long after it ended, so I ordered it when buying another staple (Villainess Whipped!) from Pretty Indulgent. It's a very warm, cozy scent. I was a little worried about the honey since honey always goes ridiculously powdery on me, but it's just nice and warm.

I went in with a friend (hi @eyelined) when Wet n Wild had free shipping to Canada when spending $40US. We wanted to scoop up some things not available in Canada, and get some Liquid Catsuits while they were still in their way here (now popping up in Canadian stores, yay!). While I typically don't like liquid lipsticks, there's been a ton of hype, and for less than $10, I'll play. As far as liquid lipsticks go, this one was decent. It didn't suck the life out of my lips, I like Nudist Peach on me, and so far I think it was a good impulse. The rainbow highlighter is totally a gimmick, from the rainbow highlighter craze last year, but I like it all the same. The rainbow part is only visible if you pack it on or finger swatch, as in this photo. Otherwise, it's just silvery shimmer once blended out on my face with a brush. Very pretty.

Replacements


  • Fyrinnae Powder Primer
  • Fyrinnae Finishing Powder
  • Villainess Whipped! in Krakatoa
These aren't all that exciting. I finally got through my lotion stash and picked up Krakatoa for the (hopefully) coming spring. I've tired of trying new lotions and plan to stick to the few I really like. Whipped! is great for not-winter. The powder primer is a staple in my routine, and I've decided to trade out my beloved Shiro finishing powder since I no longer need or want to be as matte as it makes me.

Gifts


  • Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed in Prismatic Amethyst

I was drawn to Prismatic Amethyst the moment I saw it. I have and love Colourpop Monster, which is a beautiful opalescent pink, but it's probably going to dry up pretty soon. Prismatic Amethyst is along similar lines, just a little cooler and ever so slightly purple. It doesn't make me think of an amethyst, really, but it is a beautiful highlight.

And that's it. That's how February came out. Onward to the idea of spring!

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Winter Essentials


I like to consider myself somewhat of an authority on winter. While Atlantic Canada is not as consistently cold as say, Winnipeg, it is pretty cold and also incredibly snowy. Maybe you read about our most recent deluge, and while 80cm in one go is somewhat unusual, a big snowfall is a common thing in the winter, and Atlantic Canadians are a hardy people who mostly get exercise in the winter because of all the shovelling they have to do. Unless you are me and half-ass it whenever possible. I figure once I get myself in the door, it's good enough. It's kind of amazing that Canada Post still delivers my mail, really.

But back to winter: it's snowy, it's dry, it's wet (because sometimes you have spontaneous thaws and everything gets all mucky and loads of water running everywhere), it's icy, it's never ending. For winter is the longest of all seasons, stealing from both fall and spring - and to be honest, spring in Atlantic Canada is ugly, cold, and miserable until the last 2-3 weeks of the season because of the recovery from winter. Because of all of this, most of my wardrobe, my makeup, my bath and body products, my recipes and basically everything I own and think about is geared toward winter. 

If you live in a place where there are well-defined seasons, you have little choice but to live your life with a seasonal spin. You have to swap things out when the weather changes. You have to have multiple coats and shoes/boots and different fabrics and different moisturizers and even different menus. I typically don't eat what I cook in the winter in the summer, for example, because of the wildly differing temperatures. 

This winter has been a return to the classic Atlantic Canadian winter after last year's incredibly mild winter, and in honour of the occasion, I've decided to talk about some of my very favourite winter things.


Heat Lamp

My parents bought me my heat lamp when I lived in the crappiest student apartment during undergrad. It mysteriously had no heat in the bedrooms, which my roommate and I of course discovered during a particularly brutal cold snap, well into our lease. We renewed for a second year because a) we're not smart; b) I challenge you to find not totally overpriced rentals in a university town where the student population (4500) almost equalled the town's population (5000); and c) we were across the street from campus which meant we were more likely to make it to our 8:15AM classes. And so my parents bought me a heat lamp so I could occasionally sit in my bedroom in the winter and not freeze to death.

Now that I live in real apartments with actual heat, I still find myself using the heat lamp because electric heat is expensive, but also because it provides a nice concentrated dose of heat. If you're cold a lot (like me), this is a much better way to warm up instead of cranking the heat.


Thick Moisturizer


Winter dries the hell out of my skin, plus my skin hasn't ever really adapted to moving back to New Brunswick, which is drier than the Nova Scotia homes of most of my adulthood. I was swayed to the hype of Haus of Gloi's pumpkin butter, which really is a thick, luxurious moisturizer that tends to keep me from feeling tight and flaky. I don't have overly dry skin even when suffering through winter, but I know that pumpkin butter is well-loved by even the driest of people.

I've also fallen in love with Mountain Madness Soap Co body butter. For all of its virtues, Haus of Gloi pumpkin butter does run on the greasy side and can take a while to sink in. The Mountain Madness body butter has a lovely thick texture and is equally luxurious, and much less greasy. It still take a few minutes to start sinking in, but I don't feel as slick while waiting.

Bonus shoutouts to my Lush Charity Pot lotion and Epically Epic solid lotion in Sprinkles for being excellent on-the-go blasts of moisture. For work, I've been using Sunsets and Seas hand and body lotion in Absence, but since that store is now closed, I'll be looking for an unscented alternative to keep in my desk. If you have any suggestions, let me know!


Tea

Wow, a librarian who drinks tea. How unexpected and novel! 

I also wear cardigans while engaging in this activity. If I had a cat, I'd be the perfect stereotype.

I do most of my tea drinking at work. I've been really enjoying Twinnings Irish Breakfast Tea lately, as well David's Tea Apple Cider tea. I take my tea with one sugar usually, though some mornings I'm more focused on throwing back the hot liquid because renovations in my library mean that I no longer have control of the thermostat and it's been cold in there.


Darker and Bolder Lipstick


I think my Instagram has made it pretty plain that I'm all about the brighter, more saturated colours this winter. Colourpop Let's Play has been getting a lot of wear, and Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Wine With Everything (Creme) has also been a favourite. They both are just so bright and striking and happy for this cold, grey time of year. 

I also shift noticeably to the darker colours in my collection, like NARS Audacious in Audrey and Limnit What Lies Beneath. Darker colours fit better with heavier fabrics and big coats and boots.


Ice cream


Stay with me on this one. I know it's counter-intuitive. But ice cream is better in the winter. It's less likely to melt all over your hand. Eating something cold while it's cold feels more harmonious. While I don't actually eat ice cream anymore because of my lactose-intolerance, I've fallen completely in love with So Delicious Cashew vegan ice cream - the Salted Caramel Cluster and the Dark Chocolate Truffle are amazing. Totally indistinguishable from dairy ice cream, and probably the most delicious ice creams I've eaten in ages.

I'm also partial to a nice banana soft serve. You know, the one where you stick a frozen banana and some other stuff (cocoa, peanut butter, dark chocolate, vanilla, whatever) in a food processor and blend until like soft serve ice cream.


Cozy perfumes



In addition to reaching for darker lipsticks, I also reach for heavier perfumes. Haus of Gloi Cozy Sweater is a classic winter scent, smelling like a warm sweater straight from the dryer. Solstice Scents Outpost is a winter stomp in the woods, and Arcana This Is Not Canada is a warm evergreen scent. 

I also reach for warm gourmands, like Solstice Scents Lemon Ginger Creams (gingerbread with lemon cream - pretty true to its name), Smelly Yeti Cinnamon Bun (a fresh from the over cinnamon bun), and Arcana Cat's Whiskers (eggnog, waffles, a dash of bacon and a bit of mint).


Giant winter outerwear


A post shared by Alison (@scentsandseaspray) on

This is from last year, but it still stands.


Last year, I bought a new winter coat: a giant Columbia parka that goes down to my knees. While there are loads of posts floating around the internet that earnestly inform you that you can look cute in winter outerwear, I'm here to tell you that's total bullshit. The minute they mention "peacoat," yeah, fuck off. No woolen peacoat has ever kept anyone warm. Bundle up, look like a brightly coloured blob, and be warm and dry. Yes, my Sorels are clunky and unattractive, but my feet are dry and I can change my shoes once I get inside. No one is looking at my winter outerwear because they too are trying to remain warm and dry.

I think all Canadian teenagers go through this phase where they firmly believe that they can decide what to wear in the winter and they don't look like idiots wearing a thin fall jacket, sneakers while the snow is up to their waists, and forgoing hats and mittens. I too went through this phase. I tried to dress stylishly, or at least as stylishly as any teenager in New Brunswick could in the mid to late 2000s. And then I realized I was being an idiot and started wearing enormous scarves and big down coats.


Blankets

I collect blankets. As I write this post, I am under a very soft, fuzzy grey one that my MIL gave me for Christmas 2015. In fact, it was used liberally in the background of photos for this post. I am sitting next to my coffee table, which is actually a chest filled with blankets of varying fabrics and weights, ready for all kinds of seasons. On my bed, I have a comforter, a pink fuzzy blanket I inherited from a friend who moved back to Bermuda post-university and no longer needed her stockpile of Canadian winter things, and a duvet. I love blankets. I use them all the time. 

And really, how can one get through winter without hunkering down under a blanket, opening up a bag of storm chips, and watching some Netflix or reading a new book? You can't.