May 29, 2013

The Magic Eraser Really is Magic

When I was in my third year of university, I moved into a house with 5 other girls. I grew up living with three brothers, so I had high hopes about how a pack of girls would take care of a house. 

I have a very clear memory of what the bathtub looked like upon my arrival. It was black, stained and in general just plain disgusting! My Mom, the cleaner, immediately drove down to the A & P and bought a bottle of bleach. (I've also seen her do this at cottages we've rented). After a short soaking, the black spots went away, and now there was only some mildew to remove. But how to remove the mildew??

This answer wouldn't come for several years. One night a friend of my roommates was over and she was telling us how she cleans her tub with Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. The only experience I had had with these in the past was trying to get some scuff marks off of my friends wall in her apartment and taking off most of the paint instead. I thought they were a waster of time. Boy was I wrong!

I bought a 2-pack of Magic Erasers and went to town on my tub. I still believe in a light spraying of bleach to remove any life growing in the tub, but once I rinse it off, I get in there with the eraser. 

I find the best way to use the eraser is to get right into the tub or to throw your body over side and clean from your knees. For a treat, I like to clean it right before I need to jump in for a shower. There is nothing more rewarding than a super clean tub during a Saturday afternoon shower!

Depending on the state of your tub, you should see very obvious results as the Magic Eraser rips off the mildew. I use it in rows starting at the back of the tub, then do a light scrubbing of the walls. If you're never used this before you will be shocked by how much will come off of your tub. Its actually a tad disturbing!

The Magic Eraser will slowly disintegrate with use. I use the "pocket" magic erasers that break off to clean up the sink and any toothpaste stains that build up. It is also amazing in the fridge, on cupboards, coffee tables, and light switches. I've tried the specialty brands that Mr. Clean sells, but I don't find that they are any better than the original. Stick with the cheapest ones you can find, and then stock up when they are on sale!

Treat yourself this weekend to a fresh, mildew free shower. Your body and your allergies will thank you!

March 24, 2013

The Best Socks for People Who Hate Socks

I have always been very particular about what materials I would allow on my feet in legs. For a refresher about my experience with ballet tights click here

Finding a great pair of comfortable socks has been a life long battle. My first memory of trying to make my socks scratch my legs the less began on the reading carpet in Grade 3. Our teacher Mrs. Bolton used to read us stories from her wooden rocking while we all sat on the carpet. I used to play with the suede on her pumps and somehow during this time myself and the other girls started rolling down our socks. Picture knee high socks being carefully rolled down to create a large roll at the tops of our ankles. This was my solution to create what I would now call ankle socks. We would spend a lot of time and effort rolling them down and afterwords the roll would be so large that it would prevent our  jeans sweatpants from reaching our shoes. I might add that this was also the time in my life that I started wearing Hawaiian shirts to school on Wednesdays. 

Anyways, the point that I am getting at is that I hated socks creeping up my shins, and even more so if they were so tight they created a line in my calf. I also hated scratchy polyester socks that made me feet sweat. Unfortunately at 10 years old I didn't know this is why I didn't like my socks, and I just assumed all socks were made equal. Boy was I wrong! (this is also why I didn't eat pizza until I was 19 since I thought all pizza tasted like the cheesy, greasy stuff my parents ordered every Friday night.)

I've struggled to buy comfortable socks that look good but also do not restrict my raging calf muscles. I currently have one pair of striped socks from Simons in Montreal that meet this requirement and I started handwashing them at night so that I could re-wear them the next day. I was avoiding every other sock I owned. I will also add that almost every pair of socks I own have been a gift from my Mother. It's not her fault though...I never took the time to tell her my sock issues.

Recently, I got to the point where I hated all of socks so much that I just stopped wearing them all together. I would declare in the mornings, "I HATE ALL OF MY SOCKS!!" then throw my bare foot into a leather boot. This new style generally worked for me. I am lucky that I am not someone with "foot odor"(or at least I don't think that I do).

Unfortunately, if I went anywhere where I had to remove my shoes in public, such as the doctors or dentist office, I would be stuck walking barefoot on freezing cold floors or getting salt and gravel over my precious peeps. The 'no sock' solution wasn't ideal. I needed to find socks I wanted to wear!!

One night this past winter I hit up the mall trying to find the perfect pair of black pants (which I am still searching for) and found myself in the Gap looking at socks. I knew I needed to make this purchase count! These were my prerequistes for purchasing new socks:

1. Did they look nice on the foot section? (who cares about the ankle part, no one sees it anyways)

2. Were they made from cotton? (polyester would not do...too scratchy)

3. Was there the left-over threads from the design pattern on the inside of the sock? (If so, then no...this gets caught on my toenails and again feels scratchy)

4. How tight was the top of the sock? 

I've made the mistake of ignoring one of the four criteria on prior purchases, then I get home, try them on, hate them, and immediately need to give them away. It's a major waste of money but great for my Mom. 

On this particular day I spotted something I never knew existed. There was a black ankle sports sock! It was 1. plain black, 2. cotton, 3. had no threads inside and 4. only hit my ankle! I had been wearing my white sports socks as a treat on days that I knew no one would see my socks and I needed a little extra warmth. These new black socks would allow me to wear them in public and every day my feet would get treated with nice tight arch support. 

I bought a couple of pairs and loved them so much that I soon found myself doing the same thing that I did with my striped socks. I was saving them for important days, and washing them in the sink to have them the next day again. While at the new Joe Fresh store, I discovered something amazing...three pairs of black sports ankle socks for $6!!!!
I bought two packs and I haven't turned back since.

I currently have 9 pairs of socks which I love, and I can easily go back and buy more if I really want them. Everyday I enjoying selecting my socks and never feel like I am settling for something that I am going to want to rip off my feet by 2pm. Stop the sock at my ankle saves my calf from ever being restricted, and again that nice tight arch feels so good all day long. Why didn't I discover these sooner!?!!

(P.S. I ate two pogos while writing this post)

January 4, 2013

Got a Problem? Argan Oil Will Fix It!

I haven't always had dry skin and I do not remember when it started, but it did start, and it really sucks in the winter! My first memory of my face cracking in the winter was my first year of university in Kingston, Ontario. I had a class on the other side of campus and in order to get there we had to walk across the rugby field while blistering winds raged upon us from Lake Ontario. That ten minute walk in January seemed like the longest walk I'd ever taken in my life. My skin would burn, but toes and fingers would freeze, and the sweatpants I was wearing would turn to ice. I wasn't cut out for this type of lifestyle. 

For Hair ONLY
Fast forward 10 years (ahh I can't believe its been 10 years!), and our Canadian winter begins yet again. I cannot get over how dry my face immediately becomes at this time of year, and even after applying moisturizer twice a day. My skin still begs for something more. Something natural, something that will actually delve into my pores and moisturize the shit out of my skin. This product is Argan Oil

Oil you say? I can't put oil on my skin! Oh yes you can! When we were teenagers we developed this idea that oil caused pimples and therefore, we would need to strip our skin of all oils in order to avoid our white and red little friends. Well now that I am older, (and hopefully a little wiser) I've learned that this is not the case! Our skin needs oil to stay moisturized, and stripping all of the oils away from our skin will only make our bodies produce even more oils to counter-balance what was washed away with our Noxema. 

I started by applying One 'n Only Argan Oil Treatment to my hair after I had seen several posts of its benefits from other blogs. It did a really good job at smoothing out my ends, and defining my layers. I knew that it had lots of other chemicals in it besides the oil, but it was only $10 so I thought it was worth a try. 

The following week I was at work, and some students had set up a booth and were selling fair trade African products. I spotted a little bottle of oil called 100% Pure Argan Oil, and purchased it for $20. I figured that a product with no chemicals in it what so ever would be better for my hair in the long run that one with lots of chemicals. I was pleasantly surprised when the label said, "argan oil is rich in antioxidants and fatty acids, which aid in softening dry skin and protecting it against dryness, cracking and roughness". 

The company the students were selling was a brand called Aghsane who export Argan and other oils directly from Africa. I had never even thought to apply an oil to my dry face, but desperate times, call for desperate measures! I wasn't quite sure what would happen if I slathered pure oil all over my skin, but after a few classes of wine with friends, we all figured we'd give it a go. It was the best risk I've ever taken. 

My skin has never felt better. After a shower I apply a small squirt of oil onto my palm, and smooth it all over my face. It absorbs in very easily, and keeps my skin smooth and moist all day. I've even stopped using my regular moisturizer, but will have to combine the two once spring hits and I need some SPF coverage again. Or I can try this great product which combines my love of Argan oil with SPF 40!

These are a few of the AMAZING things Argan Oil can be used for:
1. Skin Moisturizer
2. Hair Conditioner
3. Anti-Ageing (reduces fine lines and wrinkles)
4. Natural Healer and Protector (scars)
5. Clears up Acne, eczemarosaceapsoriasis
6. Softens cuticles
7. Safe for Babies and stretchmarks!

Make sure you read the label: Not all oils are made the same. In order to feel safe putting Argan Oil on your skin,  especially your face, you must ensure that it is 100% pure Argan Oil. There are many Moroccan oils sold in beauty supply stores which can be great for your hair, but are full of other chemicals and may only have argon oil as their last ingredient. Trust me, you do not want this on your skin. If the price seems to good to be true, then it probably is. Stick to the pure products!

The best part about Argan oil is that you will be applying no chemicals, including parabens, sulfates or dyes to your skin or hair.  The bad part is that it can be tricky to find Pure Oil at a decent price. I found this Essences of Argan Oil on for only $15, but this bottle of Josie Maran Oil from Sephora is $38. However, you only need to apply a small drop a day, so a 2oz bottle should last up to a year.

I've had so many friends telling me that I need to share the benefits of Argan oil so here it is! Spread the word, nourish your skin and don't be afraid of a little oil!

December 29, 2012

My Favorite Jeggings

I first commented of my love of the Bay in The Bay: How I Love Thee. After a visit yesterday to my favourite department store, my love has been yet again re-affirmed. 

I had made a "contract" with myself back in October that I would not buy any new clothes until Christmas time. While shopping for Christmas gifts I purposely avoided all of my favourite shops so that I could not be tempted, and I am pleased to report that I was successful! Yesterday I finally decided that I needed to visit the Bay. I took 2 hrs washing my hair, shaving my legs, applying my make-up and picking out an outfit that would be easy to change in and out of, while still be light-weight. There is nothing worse than shopping while having to carry about a heavy coat, or having a fussy shirt that takes 5 minutes to put back on. 

I left for Les Promenades de l'Outaouais around 2pm, and was in the store 15 minutes later. I was really going for one item. New Jessica Simpson jeggings. I was introduced to these jeggings back in 2010, and after hundreds of wearings, mine had become a little thin and faded in the knee area. They were currently on sale for only $39.99 so I decided to get a second pair.

I went straight for the Jessica Simpson section upon my arrival. They had lots of dark rinse jeggings, some black ones, and tons of Forever Skinny jeans. They had my size in everything, and I thought for a change I would try the jeans as well. I grabbed about 6 different styles and sizes, and headed to the change room. I was pleasantly surprised that the Forever Skinny jeans fit even better than the jeggings, and I needed them one size smaller!! #score. The only real differences between the two are that the jeggings are tighter, have a slightly smaller ankle width, and have no fading on them. 

I took the leap of faith, and traded in my favourite pants for something new. I wore them last night, and although they are a little shorter, they fit my hips better. They also have lot less spandex in them so I am hoping that they don't stretch out too much. 

If you don't have a pair of either I highly recommend them because of their higher, curved waist. This is amazing for the following reasons:

1. When you bend over at work you're not showing off your crack to anyone
2. No muffin top
3. No gap between my back and the pants, therefore no need to wear a belt
4. You are never pulling up your pants. They are already in the right spot
5. They are sexy and make your legs look super long. 
Forever Skinny Jean in Abyss

I struggled in university trying to find a pair of jeans that fit both my hips and my waist. I would avoid jean shopping like the plaque and never found a pair that didn't feel like they were pulling the skin off of my hips. In my late twenties I have finally found jeans that fit comfortably. I love them so much, that my Twitter profile picture is a pair of Jessica Simpson Jeggings! 

If I've convinced you at all, run to your closest Bay store or the and get some Jessica Simpson jeggings or Forever Skinny jeans while they are hot and up to $30 cheaper. Your thighs will thank you. 

December 20, 2012

Online Dating: How to Select the Perfect Picture

With the colder weather and the holiday season approaching, there comes an increase of online dating profiles. Everyone is looking for someone to cuddle up with on a cold winter night, and for someone to bring to those amazing chalet parties. 

First impressions online are key, therefore your profile picture is a very important fixture of your profile; It is the #1 factor in having your profile selected. Every picture you post should be well thought out. 
You should have at least three pictures on your profile, but no more than five or six. Leave some things for your actually meeting. 

Picture #1: A close-up of your whole face. Try to find a good picture of yourself smiling and making eye contact with the viewer, then crop out everything else. For woman, a webcam shot photo is more successful than the average straight-on shot, but I only buy this for the under 25 scene. 

 Picture #2: A full body shot. It's important for who ever you are dating to know what they are getting in to. If you have big hips or long spider legs then show them off. There is nothing worse than you date being disappointed by their first visual impression. Be honest and upfront.

Picture #3 (-#5 if necessary): Wild card. Any other picture of you doing something you like, or with a different hair style. If you switch between straight and curly hair, have a picture of each on your profile. Again, honesty is what you're going for. 

  • Avoid having the arm or side of the face of your previous lover in your shots. This is a turn off for everyone involved.
  • Don't post pictures from 10, 5 years ago or even 3 years ago.
  • Movember stache pics are a questionable choice (unless you looked amazing!)
  • If you've only ever travelled once in your life, posting all your pictures from this trip paints an incorrect picture of your life. 
  • Be diverse with your selections. 
  • Blurry pictures are not going to help your cause
The Huffington Post's tip for successful profile pics is an interesting read as well. For both genders the top contexts are 1. Doing something interesting 2. Posing with an animal, and 3. A travel photo.

Whatever you do not post pictures where you are:
  • Posing in a sexual nature, or with little clothing. This sends out the wrong idea to other serious daters. Slight cleavage will give you an edge though. 

  • You are obviously under the influence, or where it's not clear who you are in the picture. Look a little bit responsible.

  • Taking the picture in your mirror. Show some effort and be less creepy. Yikes! 

  • Okay maybe not this much effort!

Take some time over the holidays and search for some great pictures on your hard drive. If there is nothing good in sight, take advantage of holiday parties and get togethers to have someone take a picture for you. Look Better Online has some great additional tips and resources to take a profile picture for you. 

Don't throw away a good first impression!

December 17, 2012

How To Have The Perfect Nap

I've never been a good sleeper on the move. Each year my parents and three brothers would pack into our station wagon and head off for a two day car ride to P.E.I. I was often crammed in the backseat of our Safari wagon between a car seat, the door and a seat belt that slowly constricted into my stomach. These are not my favourite memories of my childhood. Ideally, if I had been able to sleep in a moving car, I could have bypassed hours of our trip in a soft slumber. If only!

This problem has haunted me for life. Every plane ride, train ride and car ride I've ever taken has ended with me wishing I could just close my eyes and sleep off the duration of trip. I was never entirely sure why I wasn't capable of sleeping on the go, but since my Mother also didn't sleep in the car I've assumed it was genetics. 

Last year, my friend Sarah told me that she never goes to bed without wearing an eye mask. The thought of totally blacking out the world seemed a little intense to me, and I didn't like the idea of having something touching my eye lashes as I slept. Never-the-less, I added an eye mask to my Christmas list and my Mom bought me one which read, "Sleep-In Beauty" on it. I thought the line was pretty perfect considering that my favourite Disney movie as a child was Sleeping Beauty. The mask was meant for me!

Within one use, I knew what she was talking about. I'll be totally frank: Everyone needs a sleeping mask. Night-to-night I don't always use it, but the second I want to have a good sleep-in on the weekend, I have my mask on. It's amazing how not having any direct light on your closed eyes can be so soothing and make sleeping during the day or late morning feel like it's the middle of the night. 

When you go sleep at someone's house, you never know what the blind situation will be or whether you'll be sleeping in a sunroom or living room. With my eye mask it doesn't matter! I can throw it on, and even if the sun starts shining in at 6 a.m. I can blissfully sleep unaware in the dark cave under the mask. It's also perfect if your partner wants to read or watch t.v. after you've gone to bed. Lights out = sleepy time!

I prefer a very light, silk eye mask lined with fleece which can apparently be purchased at the Dollar Store (who knew!) over an official vinyl travel mask from Walmart. There are many fancy kinds of masks that look like padded bras as well. These are for people who really hate the feeling of anything on their eyes, but seem a tad intense for me. 

With my new mask I was able to sleep almost the entire flight from Montreal to Rome (with the help of some Gravol). This was a HUGE obstacle for me to overcome. I am now usually the driver on long car rides, but there is no doubt in my mind that blocking out the sunshine, and curling up in the backseat would do the trick for me. 

The holidays are soon to be here, and with it comes lots of eating and drinking, visiting with relatives and sleeping too little. Do yourself a favour and treat yourself to an eye mask for the holidays. It doesn't matter where you are sleeping, or what time a day, you'll be able to have a restful sleep with your eye mask on!

December 13, 2012

I'm Not Really A Waitress but Red Baroness

When I was in my final year of high school, all we girls seemed to talk about was our Grad Trip to Acapulco and Prom 2002. I had set my eyes on a red dress made by Jessica McClintock. I printed the picture off from their website, taped it to the fridge and prayed I would find something similar. I didn't know where they sold her dresses, so I figured it was a very long shot that I would find the dress in Canada.  You can imagine my surprise, when my Mom and I spotted the dress in Melanie Lyne. The dress fit almost perfectly, and although it was borderline short on my 5'9" frame, we bought it anyways. I loved that dress so much that I actually slept in it that night, then wore the top of it to brunch the next day. It still hangs in my Mom's basement and I've been known to try it on from time to time. 

What I didn't know was that that dress would set the tone for my nail polish choices for the next 10 years!!

Once I had the dress, I went to Trade Secrets and did my best to pick out a nail polish that matched the dress. I settled with the OPI polish, I'm Not Really a Waitress. It was a rich red with a little bit of a shimmer in it. It was a classic colour. I painted my toes that morning sitting on the counter in my bathroom and never looked back. 

For the next 5 years, I think it was the only colour I wore on my toes. Since then, I've mixed it up in the summer, but in the winter you'll only find my favourite red on my toes. I will confess that I've never lasted more than a day, since my Prom, where I haven't had polish on my toes. It's an addiction. I can't even remember what my toenails even looked like in their natural state and I find it looks odd when I see other people's bare toe nails. A problem, I know. 

You can imagine my excitement when I discovered last month that CND shellac is making my favourite OPI colour in shellac form!!! They call their version Red Baroness, and it is fabulous! I can now paint my fingers nails with my favourite colour and have chip free nails for up to 2 weeks. The universe just sometimes has a way of being amazing. 

With the Christmas season approaching do yourself a favour and get a bottle of either colour. Your Christmas Party self will thank you! 

You know what, I am thinking maybe I can break out the top of my Prom dress for the Christmas season this year, thoughts?