HAUL: Target Canada is Closing & I Almost Feel Guilty

From L-R: Sonia Kashuk Perfecting Luminous Foundation, NYX Butter Gloss, Sonia Kashuk Liquid Line Precision Marker, Sonia Kashuk Chic Luminosity Bronzer/Blush Duo, Sonia Kashuk Undetectable Creme Bronzer, Pixi by Petra Eye Bright Kit, Pixi by Petra Shea Butter Lip Balm, Sonia Kashuk Brightening Powder, Sonia Kashuk Chic Luminosity Highlighter Stick, Sonia Kashuk Primer Base
Target didn't last very long in Canada. To be honest, I knew they wouldn't. The stores were much smaller than their US counterparts, the product selection was so-so, and on top of that, the shelves were always half-empty. Their sales were great, when you could find the items, but otherwise their prices couldn't compare to the other big box stores they had to compete with. Perhaps if they stuck it out, worked on their supply and logistics issues, and started building their own retail spaces, rather than relying on converted Zellers locations, they may have survived. Unfortunately, we will never know.

Most cosmetics lovers will lament the disappearance of the Sonia Kashuk and Pixi by Petra brands. Another confession? I've never tried them. At least not before today, the day my local Targets shut their doors for the last time, and priced everything at 80-90% off. I couldn't justify paying over $15 for drugstore makeup, regardless of their cult status and rave reviews.

I paid $38, including taxes, for all of the items pictured above. If anyone is interested in any of these products, I encourage you to run, not walk, to a Target that hasn't already shut it's doors, since they'll all be gone as of this Sunday (April 12th). Most of the stores I visited (a total of 3) were empty, but had an abundance of Sonia Kashuk products. There may not be much variety, but what they do have, they have a lot of.


My Wishlist: Sephora Chic Week

Sephora Makeup Wish List

The Sephora Chic Week sale starts April 12th for VIB Rouge, the 16th for VIB, and the 17th for regular Beauty Insiders. I've slowly been adding items to my Loves on their website in anticipation. 15% off may not seem like much, but at Sephora, any little bit helps. I've been hoarding mt gift cards from Christmas and my birthday for this specific reason. I figured I'd share my wish list and follow up later on with what I actually ended up scoring.

Highlighters and illuminators are my #1 makeup obsession. I want to branch out and try a selection of brands and products with different functions, so this is the category with the most items on my wishlist:
  • Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Opal to mix with my foundation.
  • NARS The Multiple in Orgasm for a shimmery cheek blush.
  • Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette as all over finishing powders.
  • Laura Mercier Secret Brightening Powder to set and brighten the area under my eyes.

I've never been a huge eyeshadow palette person, but recently I've noticed that more and more of them are ending up my fantasy carts. Sometimes I like to go onto websites, fill carts with items I want, and then never check out. I find it relaxing. I've never been one for the matte nude shadows that seem to dominate the best sellers lists, and instead was drawn to these three palettes because of their mix of colours and brilliant finishes:
  • Kat Von D Innerstellar Eyeshadow Palette
  • Kat Von D Chrysalis Eyeshadow Palette
  • Too Faced Country Palette 

Along with my obsession with highlighters comes one for a variety of other face products as well. I've found my holy grail foundation in Urban Decay's Naked Skin, but still have had no luck finding a great under eye concealer that feels light and doesn't crease. Also, since Makeup Forever discontinued their HD Primer, it's been one disappointment after another for me. After reading a bunch of reviews online, I've decided to add these items to my "try" list:
  • NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer
  • Makeup Forever Step 1 Skin Equalizer Smoothing Primer

And finally, the sole lip product on my wish list ended up being the Too Faced Melted Liquified Long Wear Lipstick in Melted Sugar. After my recent lipstick splurge, there really wasn't much left I really wanted to try except this.


March 2015: The Empties

Bioderma Sensibio H20: I'm going to be doing my empties in order from best to worst this month, and this product makes it to the top of my list. I swear, if there is a better makeup remover/cleanser out there, I haven't found it. It seems to work for all skin types, since when I was oily in the summer and fall, it didn't break me out, and when I was super flaky this winter, it didn't dry me out further. I used to use the Sensibio to remove my makeup only before my actual cleanser, but now I use this as my primary face wash. I can't gush enough about it. All of the issues I've had with other products, whether they be cream, wipes, or liquid like this one, are absent. There is no stinging in the eyes, residue on the skin, or leftover product. All that Bioderma Sensibio H20 makes me feel, is clean. The only deterrent is the price. I've gone through about 4 of the 100ml bottles because at about $6.95 a pop, they don't break the bank, but I figured, if this was going to be my primary face product, I'd better invest the $26 and buy the biggest bottle offered. I'm hoping it will last me a quarter of a year at least! 

Julep Acetone Free Conditioning Nail Polish Remover

Julep Conditioning Nail Polish Remover: This is my #1 go-to nail polish remover. It will honestly take anything off my nails without effort or fuss, even glitter. I used to hate wearing glitter polish, only because it was so difficult to remove. Now? I have no fear and glitter manicures have become my favourite nail look to rock. It doesn't dry out my nails or sting or stink like other brands do, but it does leave my nails feeling a bit greasy. I have to give my hands a good wash and dry before attempting to apply anything else, even Julep's own Oxygen Nail Treatment. It won't adhere properly otherwise. The biggest downfall of the Julep Conditioning Nail Polish Remover is the price. You only get 4oz. for $10USD, and that's if you already have the pump, otherwise it goes up to $14. I always wait until it's available in a kit or Julep decides to discount it drastically. Even this month's Secret Store price of $17.99 for a pump bottle and refill couldn't entice me to repurchase.

Julep Freedom Polymer Top Coat

Julep Freedom Polymer Top Coat: The company's claims of this top coat drying in 5 minutes are true. Not even Seche Vite works are quickly when I've got more than 2 coats on my nails. It's amazing when you want to do your nails, but not sit around and wait for them to dry before you can do things like go to the bathroom. Julep has the cost of this as $18USD, but unlike their polish remover, this top coat is always on sale. I don't think I've paid more than $6 for it. I do have two major issues with this though. The biggest problem that I have with the Freedom Polymer Top Coat is that it chips after about 2 days of wear. I can never keep a manicure for longer. At first, I thought it was just me being rough on my nails, but a few days ago I started using a different Julep top coat and all of a sudden I could get a good 4 days out of a mani. Because I was changing my polish and using the product up every other day, I only noticed the second problem towards the end of this bottle's life. The formula completely changed on me and became a clear sludge. Sure, it's always been a bit goopy, but it applied well, and the brush didn't glue itself to my nails if I took a bit of time to try and smooth it out.

This month has been pretty light on the empties for me, mostly because I've pared down my skincare routine. Also, it's dance competition season and all the free time I have has been spent trying to source the most cost effective necessities like tights, shoes, and costume accessories. I just can't bring myself to pay $24.99 for a plastic garment bag. Who do these people think they are??!!?


Lip Obsessed: My Quick & Dirty ColourPop Lippie Review

ColourPop Lippie Stix
L-R: ColourPop Lippie Stix in Bitchette, Lumiere, Dalia, Leather, Creature, and Brink
ColourPop Lippie Stix Swatches
L-R: ColourPop Lippie Stix Swatches in Bitchette, Lumiere, Dalia, Leather, Creature, and Brink
ColourPop Lippie Pencils
L-R: ColourPop Lippie Pencils in Lumiere, Dalia, Leather, Creature, Brink, Brills, and Wet
ColourPop Lippie Pencil Swatches
L-R: ColourPop Lippie Pencil Swatches in Dalia, Leather, Creature, Brills, and Wet (Lumiere and Brink swatches can be found in my previous ColourPop review)

 I stated in my previous review that I hated my ColourPop Lippie Pencils. That was a lie. I hated that they didn't give me my desired nude lip. I enjoy the colours in my birthday haul immensely. My favourite by far is Wet, but that's because it pairs nicely with a lot of the hyped 'greige' lipsticks currently on the market. The formula is creamy, and if applied all over well hydrated and exfoliated lips, beats the look and lasting power of almost every other matte lipstick I've tried. I wore Leather once on drier lips and it was a disaster. The colour settled into all my fine lines and made my mouth look like a shriveled up prune. Not an attractive look for anyone.

My opinion on the Lippie Stix is much different. All the shades I purchased were matte, and all of the them had a very waxy texture. It felt like I was using a crayon rather than a lipstick. The finishes aren't true mattes, and they do have a sheen to them. They're very pretty, but in the end, I couldn't get over the sensation of these on my mouth. I've only worn them for short periods of time so I can't really comment on their staying power or colour transfer. They do come off easily though, and don't leave a stain behind like the NYX lippies did. My final thought on these: Dalia and Creature are basically the same shade, with Dalia just pulling a bit more brown. It's hardly noticeable. I don't know why I thought I needed both.

BONUS Super Shock Shadows & Cheek Swatches: 
ColourPop Super Shock Eyes & Cheeks


Lip Obsessed: NYX

NYX Lippies
L-R: Macaron Lippie in Lavender, Wicked Lippies in Betrayal, Power, and Wrath, Matte Lipstick in Aria, Soft Matte Lip Cream in Transylvania, and Lip Liner in Nectar (free gift)
A few months ago I decided to purge all my old makeup. What was left was pretty pathetic. Because of the holidays and my birthday, I was able to replenish my stash guilt free. Once everything started trickling in, I began to realize I have an unhealthy obsession with lip products.

There is no way I would get around to trying all of them without the excuse of having to swatch them for the blog. Hence, my latest series in posts: Lip Obsessed. Up first is a brand I have heard great things about, but had limited experience with, NYX.

I was unsure which of their lip products I would like best so I ended up purchasing a few different types via their website. They offer 25% off for first time customers who sign up for email updates. The Canadian/US exchange rate is pretty poop right now, so the code made me feel much less guilty for splurging on items I wasn't sure I'd even like. Not that I would consider NYX a splurge, with most of their lip products coming in at a reasonable $6. I also got a free lip liner with my order. Score!

I spent a week test driving these beauties and my thoughts on all of them are below:

NYX Swatches
L-R: Transylvania, Aria, Nectar, Wrath, Betrayal, Power, and Lavender
Soft Matte Lip Cream in Transylvania: First off, the texture of this is more like a mousse than a cream. It's also pretty dry. I'm not sure whether I just received an old product, or if this is how the actual texture is. The color is beautiful, but super patchy, and so I needed to layer it on. The actual color didn't last for very long after eating and drinking and it looked like the total product transferred on to everything my lips touched, but it did leave a stain for quite a while.

Matte Lipstick in Aria: I am obsessed with this lipstick. At first I thought that the colour would be much too pink for me, but it ended up matching well with my natural lips. Even though it's a matte lipstick, the texture is quite creamy and not drying at all. The pigmentation is also on point; it only took one swipe to get the full colour. Again though, I couldn't remove it completely at the end of the day, with either makeup wipes or vaseline.

Lip Liner in Nectar: I was hoping I could match this with either Wrath or Power, but it doesn't seem to go with either. It's much too peachy for me personally, but it's pretty nonetheless. Even though there appears to be some glitter in the formula, the texture isn't gritty at all. It goes on smooth and and feels lush on the lips. When I removed this from my lips, it came off completely, but it seemed to want to stick to my arm when I did my swatches. What the heck is NYX using in the formulas of their products?

Wicked Lippies in Wrath, Betrayal, and Power: All of the Wiked Lippies went on true to colour. I was able to layer these to get my desired opacity, and none of them gave an uneven application. Wrath and Power were my favourite since they suited me better, but Betrayal found a good home in the little girl's "Tickle Trunk" (Does anyone else miss Mr. Dressup? That was some quality children's programming right there). They each lasted a few hours before I had to reapply, but there was some serious transfer with Betrayal and my lips had a purple tint long after I removed the lipstick.

Macaron Lippie in Lavender: Why I thought this colour would suit me is a mystery. I looked so horrid, I only managed to leave this on for about an hour, so I can't comment on it's staying power. What I can say is that formula is horrible. It was like swiping wax on my lips. I barely got any product on, and I couldn't even layer it to increase the colour payoff because each new swipe would just remove the product that was previously applied. No matter what I did, I even tried using a lip brush, I could not get full coverage. Not even the Tickle Trunk wanted Lavender, and so it's now at the bottom of my trash bin.

L-R: Transylvania, Aria, Nectar, and Betrayal
The tints left of my lips were much darker than in the photo above, but I also didn't put them through as much of a cleaning process. I removed most of the swatches with one swipe of my Bioderma H20 micellar water, but the ones that remained made it through a vaseline rub and some serious anti-bacterial soap action. They finally came off in the shower with some sea salt exfoliation.


February Empties.. The Moisturizing Month

February Empties

Not only is February the shortest month of the year, but it's usually the coldest here as well. Because of that, the only products I managed to get through were ones that I thought would provide me with some heavy duty moisture.

Kiehl's Superbly Smoothing Argan Hair Pak: Winter plus heat styling have turned my hair into a hot, brittle mess this year. I went on a hunt for the perfect hair mask to combat whatever the heck is happening up there. Unfortunately, most of my hair 'miracle' workers from Memebox turned out to be duds, aside from the ones I went through last month. I was so desperate that I went to Kiehl's and paid the $35 for an 8oz. jar of this stuff. I blame all the positive reviewers at MakeupAlley. Aside from all of the raves on performance, the one downside everyone listed, and I will confirm, is that it stinks. It's not going to make your hair smell nice and pretty like a lot of other argan/coconut based oil treatments. To be honest, I used to wash my hair with apple cider vinegar and condition it with olive oil so, to me, anything beats coming out of the shower smelling like a salad.

enesti Apple & Honey Shea Butter Hand Cream: Memebox Special #53: My Honey Box had some real gems; however, this hand cream wasn't one of them. So what if it smelled spectacular and I wanted to eat my hands every time I put it on? It didn't really do anything else for me. After the smell wore off, it appeared as if the moisturizing effects did as well. To be honest, I considered tossing this hand cream a few times before I had finished it, but the scent kept sucking me back in. Perhaps Julep has spoiled me for all other hand care, because I probably would have loved this had I not tried my Maven products first. I mean, it didn't feel greasy, but it didn't automatically give my hands a healthy look or make them baby soft as soon as it absorbed either. Often Korean drugstore and low-end skincare outperform their much higher priced Western competitors, but in this case, the $5 value given by Memebox for the cream seems pretty accurate.

The Face Shop Lovely Me:Ex BeBe Lip Essence: As I've mentioned before in my November Empties post, this is my holy grail lip product. The only reason I haven't used more of them this winter is because I've been trying to use up the million or so other balms, treatments, glosses, and butters that came in some of my monthly subscriptions. So far, this one has them all beat. I can't get through more than half of something else before returning to my Bebe Lip Essence. If The Face Shop ever discontinued it, I'm convinced my lips would just shrivel up and die.

insobeau Super Yellow Intense Renew Essence: Now that I'm a bit more familiar with the Korean skincare regime, I can confidently say, this product is not an essence in the traditional sense. Most of the essences I've tried have been much thinner. The consistency of the insobeau product is more like a lotion or an emulsion. I'm not complaining. I've never had dry skin, but for some reason, my face decided this winter it would throw me a curve ball. I had to cut out a lot of products, like most of my toners and serums since they dried me out. If I didn't have this 'essence' on hand I would have had to go out and emergency buy even more Western skincare than I did. It still functioned well amid my Bioderma cleansers and toners, while providing sufficient moisture to the greasier parts of my face. While using it I was able to only spot treat my dry patches, so I wouldn't break out the areas that were retaining their moisture. I wish I had a backup because I'm really going to miss it. I can't find it anywhere online. I'm hoping someone is hoarding it and will put it up for trade soon so I can make it through the rest of the season!

Julep Hand and Cuticle Stick: I have a confession to make. I bite my nails. That's not the horrid part. You know that skin around your nails that usually gets dry and hard during the frigid winters because you refuse to wear gloves? I used to bite that too. Notice I said 'used to'. I consider Julep's Hand and Cuticle Stick my little saviour. Not only is it super moisturizing without being greasy, so the skin stays soft and supple, but in the event it does get a little chapped, the balm tastes NASTY. That's incentive not to bite right there. It also makes my hands look less shriveled and worked in after a long day of steering wheel gripping, snow shoveling, and driveway salting (all done without gloves). Thank you, Julep, for you peptide, shea butter, and vitamin infused wonder! Even after all the praise though, I would never pay the $22USD that Julep 'charges' for the product. I've always waited until they put one of their hand care kits on sale to get more bang for my buck. I usually pay about $20 for 5 products versus full price for 1. In desperate times I've also been known to check out every coupon site on the web (retailmenot.com is my fave!), since Julep always seems to have a few out at a time.

Disclaimer: My camera is still on the fritz, so I had to use stock images from manufacturer and retailer websites. Also, some of the links are affiliate links.


Dancing On A Dime: Buy in Bulk

Although we haven't been given our makeup colors or shoe and tight options, there are still ways I am able to prepare for the upcoming competitions. I like to make sure my kit is fully stocked with all of the dance necessities long before I have to throw it in Rac n Roll and run. Right now I'm trying to compile everything I need for hair and body, and spend as little as possible while doing so.

 Fashion Tape from You're Lookin' Good!: This was the supplier I was planning on using for my Competition Box. Seriously, their prices cannot be beat, especially if you're stocking up. They start at $1.39 USD for both 3M 1522 and Red Liner Sensi-Tak (the stronger hold option). There are also shipping costs involved, which start at $10 USD, but by placing a group order with other parents and dancers, and even factoring in the currency exchange, one could pay as little as $2.25 CAD a roll. Forget the $12 that Shoppers Drug Mart charges for the same product, and the $8 that the Capezio Bunheads line charges for pre-cut strips; try heading to your local wig shoppe or check out hairtape.com for some serious savings. It's the same tape!

Hair Nets from Uline: I suppose I'm lucky because the little girl's hair is quite an average color. I can buy any brown hair net for her buns, and they're likely to match. Right now I'm testing out a box of nylon ones I purchased from Uline. Sure, they're meant for food sanitation, but they feel and look the same as the Bunheads ones I get from Discount Dance Supply. Gone are the days of paying $4 for a pack of 3 nets, which will last approximately one wear before they get caught on pins, rip, and have to be tossed out. I paid $22 CAD for a pack of 144 nets. This is another buy in bulk purchase since Uline's site only allows you to buy a minimum of 3 boxes at a time. That's over 400 hair nets. I don't think any dancer could go through that many in a comp season. I did manage to get my hands on one box by calling in instead of ordering online, and being close to their Canadian facility so I could pick up in person. Obviously, this option isn't available to everyone. What I do suggest is checking out a local restaurant supply store or Cash & Carry for a similar product. The cost would mostly likely work out to about about $0.25 a net, rather than the $1 each being paid to dance suppliers.

P.S.: My camera is broken, so I apologize for the crummy images. I would love if someone could recommend a digital camera that works well for blog photography.


Changing course ...

Dancing On A Dime

I've been thinking about changing the purpose of this blog for a while now, mostly because of time constraints. Now that competition season is upon us, it is becoming harder and harder to find the time needed to research supply vendors, comparison shop, product test, and compile kits. While I'm able to do it for the parents who request my assistance at our studio, I don't think I could ever keep up on my own if I wanted to expand my rearch.

Ultimately, I began this journey in order to help parents of child performers save money on activities that are becoming more and more expensive. I would rather be a helpful resource for my peers than a business catering to customers.

From now on, my dance supply posts will be more of a series and will include vendor information, price comparisons, and tips/tricks on how to save some cash. 

Beauty Paragraph Break


The Empties of January 2015

Aside from two products, January has been the month of K-beauty item testing. I went on a huge Memebox binge in October and November, and because of the sloooow shipping from Korea, I didn't get most of them until December. The result is that I am now drowning in Korean cosmetics, and have been using them exclusively in order to test out what works best for my skin.

Julep Oxygen Smoothing Base Coat

Julep Oxygen Smoothing Base Coat: I discovered the Julep Maven subscription last summer and have loved everything I've received from them since then. This base coat is no exception. I learned early on that this base coat shouldn't be used with just any polish. It's quite thick and opaque, and works best under glitters. For those who adore glitter nail polish, this base coat is a miracle worker. I used to use white glue before applying anything with sparkles so that I could just peel it off in one coat, and not sit there fussing with each nail for ten minutes. This Julep product works almost the same way, except you can use regular polish remover. It has the added benefit of allowing oxygen to permeate the nails, so that they don't turn yellow. It retails on their website for $18 (nuts), but there is always a way to get Julep products cheaper. I usually wait for the items to appear in their Savvy Deals section, Secret Store, or as an add-on option to my monthly box. A ton of coupon codes are also floating around the internet on blogs and coupon websites like RetailMeNot. There is no reason anyone should be paying retail prices for Julep.

Make Up Forever HD Primer

Make Up Forever HD Primer: I have a confession to make. When I want to wear a full face of makeup, I use two primers. Underneath Benefit's POREfessional, I like to use Make Up Forever's HD Primer in Neutral. Up until a few months ago, I was obsessed with it and would have probably refused to use anything else to prime my face. Then I woke up and realized I was using $70 worth of makeup before applying my actual makeup. But that's a story for another day. If I'm spending $40 on a product, it better perform exceptionally well, and this does. I find that the MUF primer does a better job than the POREfessional at blurring fine lines and wrinkles, and doesn't leave my face feeling greasy or cake-y. It settles in nicely, and creates the perfect canvas for applying makeup. I'm hoping to find a hidden gem in my k-beauty pile or great drugstore dupe before I break down and just buy this again.

Purederm Tea-Tree Pore Freshener

Purederm Tea-Tree Pore Freshener: This did nothing for me. I think it may have actually made me break out, even though tea tree is supposed to be good at controlling oil and reducing 'troubles' (read: acne). It left a weird film on my face, like it never got fully absorbed by my skin. Most k-beauty aficionados are Purederm fangirls, but this toner was enough to turn me off the brand completely.

Skinfood Egg White Pore Meringue Foam

Skinfood Egg White Pore Meringue Foam: I hated this foaming cleanser until I learned how to use it properly. It actually made it into the trash can a month ago, until my niece came to visit and saw it and wanted to try it out. Gross, I know. I'm glad she fished it out though, because it ended up being a really great working face wash. The trick is to use it after an oil cleanser (it's called double cleansing) and to not leave it on the face for too long, because it is way too harsh on its own. Even the oiliest face would be at risk of drying out and flaking if this was used improperly on a regular basis. Once I wash off my facial oil, I do a quick cleanse with the foam to get rid of the residue, and it ends up leaving my face feeling the perfect kind of clean.

Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Liquid Nose Pack: I purchased this product on its own from TesterKorea because it was on sale. I need to use something to unclog my pores and this seemed like a good bet. It's liquid, so you can apply it to any part of your face with large pores. My issue was that I could never get the correct coverage. If I spread it too thick, it would never dry, and washing it off was a huge mess. Plus, my pores were still clogged. If I spread it too thin, it didn't grip on to the gunk properly, and peeling it off was a huge mess. Again, the pores were still clogged. I gave it five good tries until I gave up and tossed it. Goodbye $4.

Solucion 9 Aztec Therapy Shampoo: I need more of this shampoo, stat! I'm so sad I only received the tester in my Hair Salon Memebox and not the full size that they had sent out previously. It's a tiny tube, but lasted me a week because it cleansed my hair so well. I only needed to lather and rinse once. Forget the repeat. My scalp is also perpetually dry in the winter and the shampoo didn't exacerbate the issue like most of the others I've used before and after it. If anyone knows where I can get a bottle, please let me know!

La'dor Perfect Hair Filler: I also really liked the La'dor hair mask I received in the Hair Salon Memebox.  It left my hair shiny and feeling super soft, but also strong. I noticed I didn't suffer as much hair breakage during the styling process as I usually do. My hair still looked healthy after basically frying it with a flat iron. Yay for Korean hair care! The biggest downside of this hair treatment is that you need to mix it, 1 part solution to 1 part water, so you need to remember to have something on hand in the shower or bath to do that in.

Note: Memebox has notified it's international customers that they will no longer be shipping to countries outside of Korea, China, and the USA. For anyone who is k-beauty curious, I recommend heading over to the blog Fanserviced-b for reviews on a lot of great products and information on where to buy them.


A Small Break From Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

Keep Calm and Dance Parent On

Now that dance is back in session, and full-throttle at that, I find that I have less and less time for myself. When you're carting around a child to activities almost 7 days a week, your evening is no longer your own. Sure, after homework is done, everyone is washed up, read to, and tucked in bed, I might have an hour or so to pay attention to my PVR before I pass out myself. Otherwise, the only free time that I have is at the studio while the little girl is in class, or at the library while she's being tutored, or at the gym while she's working on walk-overs.

There aren't many activities available to parents who choose not to, or are unable to leave for those few hours of dance a day. In my case, I live too far from the studio to make going back and forth an option. Also, I try not to leave for the mall or any other store, because I'm technically already spending money. Sure, chatting with the other parents is an option, some of them have become great friends. The best part about great friends though, is that you don't have to spend every second talking to them. You can catch up, have a laugh, sip your coffee, and then just relax. How to relax is the issue. It's not like you can break out the spa tools and give yourself a mani/pedi. So, how can a parent spend quality 'me' time at the studio?

1. Catch up on work: My least favourite option. This totally defeats the purpose of 'me' time. I get that some people are always on the clock, but if this is the only break you're going to get that day, just take it!

2. Knit/Crochet: This is the best artistic endeavor I've come across. You need minimal space for supplies and movement, and most people find it incredibly relaxing. There is always a feeling of accomplishment after because there's visible progress in an hour or two, and most of what you make can be useful (especially in Canadian winters). It also has the upside of being a quiet activity. Really, any hobby along these lines will do. Perhaps you can take up needlepoint?

3: Become a Netflix junkie: My choice activity for a while, but it only works if the studio gives their guests access to wi-fi. This may be the only way you have time to enjoy a film. This does require the purchase of costly device though - iPad, laptop, smartphone, and don't forget the headphones!

4. Planning: Bring a notebook. It may seem like this is also being done for other people, but honestly, it alleviates a lot of the work load from the coming days/evenings. Budgeting, meal planning, vacation itineraries - these are all valuable endeavors that will save you time and stress. You will actually create more free space in your day for yourself by taking this up.

5. Reading: I've been a voracious reader since before I could remember. I will read anything really, but found myself lacking any time to. This is obviously my choice studio activity. Sometimes it gets a bit loud, but along with getting to check a book off you're 'must-read' list, there is also the benefit of improved concentration and focus. I couldn't sit still during activities until I started bringing a book with me to all of them.

I'd love to know how other people spend their time during activities. Maybe there is something totally awesome I'm missing out on!


December Empties (only a week late!)

Hair+ Velvet Nutri-Injection

HAIR+ Velvet Nutri-Injection:
My niece got this in her Memebox #70 Thumb's Up! Bloggers' Picks box a while back. She has no interested in anything Memebox sends her besides cutesy makeup and therefore, it ended up in my stash. Memebox claims the value of this little tube is somewhere around $5. I'm pretty wary about trying new things in my hair because I haven't had much luck in the treatment/leave-in department in a while. This little baby changed all that. I applied the treatment after towel drying and then blasted my hair with a blow-dryer. It felt baby soft, but not weighed down or greasy, even after being subjected to about 10 minutes of hot air on the highest setting. I got about three uses out of the tiny tube, even though Memebox claims it's one time use. My hair is also pretty long, so if I can stretch it that far, this could possibly last someone with shorter hair about 2 weeks. A+ HAIR+.

HolikaHolika Baby Silky Foot Mask Sheet

 HolikaHolika Baby Silky Foot Mask Sheet: Another Memebox item, this time from #77 Foot Therapy. I love foot peeling masks and prefer to use those, so this sat around for a while. I'm not sure if I left it alone for too long, but the essence was almost completely dried up when I actually decided to put my feet inside the mask booties. Because of that, the treatment basically did nothing for my feet. Even if it the product was all there, I feel like I could have gotten a better result by using foot cream, putting on some socks, and then going about my regular business. They're not worth the discomfort of keeping them on, even if the cost is only $3.

Tonymoly Panda's Dream Eye Patch

Tonymoly Panda's Dream Eye Patch: I used about 8 of these last month. They came in really handy when I was running out of eye cream. There is so much essence in these packages, that even if the eye masks are one time use, the remainder can be stored and used at another time. They also work way better on my fine lines and brightening up my dark circles than any eye cream or treatment I used before them and better than the one I'm currently using. I really need to invest in another economy pack from BeautynetKorea. You get 10 sets for $7, which is a pretty sweet deal. I'm pretty sure they're $2 a pair at Pacific Mall.

SecretKey Color Recipe The PINK Cream

SecretKey Color Recipe The PINK Cream: Hands down, this is the best cream for fine lines and wrinkles that Memebox has sent so far. I wouldn't have even known about this beauty if my niece hadn't tossed me her extra Thumb's Up! Bloggers' Picks products. At first, I wasn't really happy with the texture of the cream because it felt like the gel and cream capsules were leaving a sticky film on my face. That did go away after a little bit though, and it ended up plumping up the lines in my forehead, while leaving my face looking matte and fresh. That's no small feat considering I suffer from a constantly shiny t-zone and resting b*tch face (those anger lines are always there!). I've got about 6 or 7 more face creams to use up before I can justify purchasing another tub, but when I do get around to buying it, it won't be from Memebox. They feel that they can charge $34 for this. BeautynetKorea will sell it and ship it to me for $11.

Harvey Prince Hello Body Cream

Harvey Prince Hello Body Cream: Ugh. Just thinking about this cream makes me nauseous. I received the sample size in my first Birchbox and I was pretty pleased. It's winter. One can never have enough body/hand cream during Canadian winter. Then I opened it. This cream REEKS. It's supposed to be infused with the 'best selling' Harvey Prince Hello perfume, but they added way way way too much. I wasn't even able to discern whether the product did a good job at moisturizing because as soon as I applied it after my shower, I had to jump back in and wash it off. I have nothing against fragranced creams, but this is more of a cream-style perfume, and the scent was not appealing to me at all.

amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo  

amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo: Obsessed!!! When I got this in my Birchbox I actually jumped for joy, because I had just finished another sample package of this that my hairdresser had given me. I've tried so many different kinds of dry shampoo, and none of them have worked this well for me. Batiste looked like it was stripping the colour from my hair, LUSH No Drought made my scalp itchy, and TRESemme was just all-around caca. I have black hair, and the amika blends well, adds volume, and smells pretty. As soon as I finished this, I bought the full size from the Birchbox website. All of the items they feature in their boxes have free shipping for the month, plus they give you points for product reviews, which can be applied to purchases from their store. I had 200 points, so the 5.3 oz can cost me a total of $6.50 CDN. YAY Birchbox!


ColourPop Holiday Haul

Colourpop Haul

I am not a makeup junkie. My skincare routine is as elaborate as possible to ensure that I don't have to spend hours on makeup. Usually I just slap on a layer of Benefit's Porefessional, some concealer under my eyes and a layer of mascara and I'm good to go. Unfortunately, this doesn't work for the holidays. One is expected to look better than the everyday at parties and other outings.

I did a massive makeup purge earlier in the fall, so I was basically left with nothing to put on my face in December. After securing the basics, I started researching online for the cheapest, but most attractive makeup items to complete my holiday looks. Enter ColourPop. At $5 per shadow, lip liner, and lip stick, how can you go wrong? After putting enough items in your shopping cart, the $14.95 international shipping fee seems almost reasonable.

ColourPop Frida Lumiere Brink Swatches

I decided to purchase the Lip Pencils rather than the Lippie Stix because one of the constant opinions expressed in the online reviews is that the matte Lippie Stix have more of a satin finish. Regardless, I ended up hating these, but that's my own fault. I keep trying to pull off the perfect nude lip and failing. My natural lip colour is almost an exact match to Lumiere, so that was a wash. Brink and Frida made my lips look barely a shade darker and lighter. They're beautiful, just not on me. Maybe I'll take the hint, slap on some lip chap and call it a day on the neutrals. Or maybe I'll forget all about my failure and go back and buy the Brink/Frida/Lumiere Lippie Stix and fool myself into thinking I'll get a different result.

ColourPop Down With Decorum Swatches

My shopping cart originally had every metallic shade that ColourPop offered, but I managed to reign myself in and just purchase their metallic holiday set, Down With Decorum. Most of their holiday sets are contain limited edition products, but I chose this one because Game Face, Liberty, and Mooning are part of their standard collection and I could repurchase them when I ran out. I love love LOVE these shadows. Even Glitterati, which is significantly less pigmented than the others. ColourPop recommends applying these with your finger to get the best coverage, but I am way too heavy-handed for that. The first time I tried the shadows using my fingers, I ended up looking like I smeared mud all over my eyelid. I now use a stiff shadow brush and achieve the same pigmentation by layering the product. I'm officially obsessed!

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