November 30, 2012

How to remove Shellac (and not your nail)

Once I discovered CND Shellac polish, I knew there was no turning back. As someone who washes the clay and paint of her hands about 30 times a day, regular nail polish would rarely last me until lunch hour. 

The first time I had shellac applied I was at a salon for my friend's wedding. My nails were very short at the time and I didn't think a french manicure was possible. This new salon didn't carry shellac in any colours, so I opted for a clear shellac and they painted regular nail polish on top. 

As the shellac grew out, the nail polish chipped off and I spent two more week applying various colours of polish on top. Since my nails were so strong the colour would last for at least a week and the only downfall was the awkward, thick grow-out line forming in front of my cuticle. Eventually, I knew the gig was up and I would have to remove the shellac. I tried to peel it off, but it wouldn't budge so I decided to splurge on a second shellac manicure and to have the esthetician remove it for me. 

At Lovely Nails, I washed carefully as the lady soaked a cotton ball in acetone, wrapped it around each of my fingers and covered them individually in tinfoil. It looks pretty silly and you will look slightly like an alien, but it seems to do the trick. After about 5 minutes she removed the tinfoil, and using a metal cuticle pusher she scraped the shellac off of my nails into tiny pieces, then sanded away any stubborn pieces. The entire process was at least 15 minutes and made my little stop in an hour long affair, but Shellac is was worth it. 
Sanding Block

At home I tried the tinfoil trick, but once my left hand was done, I wasn't coordinated enough to use my left hand covered in foil to cover my right hand. I didn't have the time to wait up to 10 minutes a hand before removing the foil either. Fortunately, a friend was coming over and I had her cover my right hand for me, but this isn't always the case!

I much prefer the dipping method. This blog gives a great step by step of how to remove the Shellac, except I prefer a metal pusher over a wooden. The trick is to use pure acetone and not using nail polish remover. I was able to find acetone at Walmart and Shoppers Drug Mart, or you can go industrial and get a large jug of it at Canadian Tire in the automotive section. I even file down the top of the shellac before I dip by fingers into the acetone, just to help with the removal down the center. Then I finish everything off with the sanding block to make sure that my nails are smooth again. 

I went to my Mom's last week to help her remove her shellac. My Dad had brought up a bottle of what he thought was pure acetone. There was definitely some acetone in it as well as several other chemicals (including turpentine) that made my Mom's skin burn. Turns out it was paint thinner. I highly discourage you from using this!!! Pure acetone only! It will dry out your skin, but that's about it. 

Whatever you do, don't be tempted to pick off the Shellac (or to use paint thinner). I have sadly removed many  layers of my precious nails in the process and do not wish this upon anyone!

Don't bother spending an extra $10 every time you want to get your Shellac removed. Even if you're still going into the salon to have your shellac applied you can save yourself a lot of money by removing it by yourself before you go in. Then go to Starbucks and spend all the money you saved on an overpriced Latte! Delicious!

Things you need to remove Shellac:

1. 100% Pure Acetone ($3)
2. A good nail file ($1-2 at Sally's)
3. A sanding block in medium/course ($1-2 at Sally's)
4. A glass bowl, or teacup you're never going to put food in again
5. Cuticle Pusher ($5-25 at most pharmacys)

For how to apply your own Shellac click here

November 28, 2012

The Perfect Black Tight

Sadly when I saw the snow on the ground this week, I knew it was officially the end of bare leg season. Each year I try to stretch out the viewing period of my pale legs as long as possible, but there always comes a day when its just simply inappropriate to have my bare knees poking out. 

I've always been extremely picky about socks and tights, and I still am. I can remember sitting with my Mother in our family room before Saturday ballet class crying as she put my pink ballet tights on. I really, really hated them but would wear them to class as long as I could get them off as soon as I got home. There was nothing worse than having to go to the hockey rink wearing a snow suit and ballet tights. I still get goose bumps when I think about it. 

There was a very awkward stage of my childhood when I refused to wear tighst anywhere but ballet class which meant that my Mom couldn't put me into cute little dresses during the winter months. It came to me wearing a bright purple, crushed velvet pant suit with a "bubble leg". They were not quite an MC Hammer pant since they had much more volume down around the ankle. I also had a pair of the pants in black which I would wear with a white top with gold polka dots. These outfits were my only chance of attending Christmas dinner "tight free" and it was not a pretty sight. 

When I was in Grade 7, I was invited to a ballet at the Canadian History Museum (formerly the Canadian Museum of Civilization) with a ballet friend of mine and her Mother. I threw on my crushed velvet suit and eagerly followed along. During the intermission my friend was complimented by our ballet teacher on her cute little outfit which consisted of brown ankle boots, with pink socks, brown tights, a tweed skirt and a little sweater. I'll admit even now that the outfit was flawless. I stood there so ashamed of my pantsuit and vowed to never wear it again!!

Around the same time a new type of ballet tight had just come on the market, The Mondor 310. These microfiber tights where soft, thin, comfortable and didn't itch my skin like the other ones I'd been wearing. The second I put them on it felt like I was wearing a second skin. Not only did I not hate wearing tights to ballet anymore, but I was willing to wear the tights elsewhere, even to a a holiday event. 

Fortunately the tights came in ballet pink, "jazz class" beige,  and "special event" black. I could buy them fully footed, or with a hole in the bottom to sneak my foot out of when my blisters required tending. I used to have a weird thing where I only liked tights once they'd be worn a couple of times, but with the 310's, the fresher they came out of the dryer the better!

Slowly, I built up a stock of about 8 pairs of the Mondor 310's. Unfortunately they were about 15 dollars a pair so my Mom wasn't too eager to give me money every time one got a hole in the toe. Practically every single pair I owed had a toe that was sewn up, but it didn't matter, they were perfect to me. I still own several pairs of ballet tights and I haven't danced since I was 18. My friend Lauren still has her black 310's from high school. These things last!

Now as an adult I am still very picky about my tights. I refuse to wear any kind of nylon or pantyhose and always will. I can handle a fashion tight for short periods of time, but after a while that sagging crotch drives me bonkers.  

Over the years the 310 tights have gotten even better with a knitted waistband, 3D technology to support the leg (and crotch) and they never seem to get any runs. They've even come out they a fish net tight which is bound to be flawless. I always buy mine at Malabar's in Ottawa but any dance or figure skating store will carry them. 

Do your self a favour this holiday season and buy yourself some black Mondor tights. Not only will you be in fashion, but your legs will look long and lean. The days will be long, especially when a work day becomes a holiday party so buy a pair of good black tights where the crotch will stay in place, the waistband will reach your bra and your legs will never, ever feel the slightest itch. You deserve it!

November 23, 2012

Rid Yourself of Blisters Forever!

Blisters and my toes go together like Spencer and Heidi. I can't remember one without the other and they are really a pain in the ass. 

As a dancer growing up, my feet were often being squished into new tap shoes and pointe shoes. I am sure you've all seen what can happen to a ballerina's feet after a couple of hours in a pointe shoe from movies like Centre Stage and Black Swan. The foot gets sweaty, it cannot breathe, its rubbing back and forth, back and forth and then BAM! There is a nice big blister exactly where you need to put the shoe the next day. 

I actually seemed to get the worst blisters from a new pair of tap shoes during summer school. My feet would be used to relaxing in a flip flop all summer long and were now being confined into a tight space without any hosiery (which I immaturely refused to wear), in 25 degree weather. It was a recipe for disaster. I do not need to go into detail of how I used to continue to dance each day on these dying feet, but the damage was done. I know had blister scars that would plague me for the rest of my adult life. 

What's a blister scar? Well I have nice big bumps on my toes and on the back of my heel which are the first part of the foot that a new shoe attacks. I cannot even begin to count the numbers of blisters I have incurred when trying to break in a new shoe, and wearing an old shoe again after a long absence. I was starting to think I was the only one. 

Recently on a trip to the Bay I spotted a great pair of faux suede black pumps. I love the way a suede shoe looks with a pair of black tights. Its seamless really. I tried on my size, and although they were a smidgen tight I figured that they would stretch out just a little. They were a great deal, so I paid up and wore them to school the next day. 

What came next? A right toe blister. I used a trick that my Mom had taught me to try and solve the problem. I took a broom, and put the toe of my shoe into its handle. Next I pushed the shoe down as far as I could into the handle to try to stretch out the toe area as much as possible to give my piggies a little more room. 

A few days later I tried the shoe again and the same problem and blister persisted. No matter what I did, this shoe was going to blister my right foot. I could have told this exact same story for the flats I bought later that summer. 

After complaining to my Mom about my problem, she told me something that I had never quite realized before. The broom trick only worked with LEATHER shoes, not synthetic fabrics. Only leathers (ie animal skins) can stretch out under warm conditions and create a perfect mold of your foot. Once the shoe has set, it will never give you a blister again because it won't rub on your toes bumps, it will gently surround them. 

Was real leather the simple solution I had never considered?

Since that fateful day, I have gone out a re-purchased a pair of real suede black pumps (they still look awesome with tights). I have no had one blister from these shoes and I have worn with with and without hosiery. Of course, real leather is more expensive, but isn't it better to have a pair of comfortable shoes you'll wear over and over again instead of a pair you cringe at every time you see them in your closet? Leather also lasts a long time and can be repaired. I bought a pair of black leather high heel boots in London, England over 6 years ago. I've had the heel re-tipped and the sole replaced, but those buggers will not quit! They are just as comfortable now as they ever were and I couldn't picture a sweater dress without 

So what are you waiting for? Keep your toes and heels the break that they need. I know cheap shoes are tempting, but are they worth the blisters?

November 19, 2012

What Kind of Bobby Pin Are You Using?

Did you even know there were different types of bobby pins? Or as the British say "kirby grips"? The bobby pins got their name in the 1920's when they were used to keep the bobbed hair styles in place. Now we use them to pull back bangs, keep an up-d0 in place to secure those little baby fly-aways. 

I love this blog, Hairdo How-to and how it really breaks down what makes a good bobby pin. Who knew it could be so complicated?

I was recently complimenting a co-worker of mine Erin, on her great big bun. She is always looking for a new way to wear her hair, which I really admire. She mentioned that she liked the bun, but that little pieces keep falling out. I asked her what kind of bobby pin she was using and she took out one of the typical flat bobby pins like this:
These pins are great for securing hair, but not for a big bun. What she really needed was a hairpin like this:
Hairpins are not very common, but once you start using them, you'll wonder how you ever lived with out them! Instead of just pushing in a bobby pin (wavy side down of course), the hairpin collects a larger amount of hair and tucks them under the bun. Ask any former ballet dancer and I am sure they have a collection of these pins in all corners of their bathroom drawers. 

Fortunately, I keep a little zipper pouch in my wallet with bobby pins, hairpins, elastics and clips for such emergencies. I gave Erin a hairpin, tucked it into the bottom of her bun and the escaping hairs were re-joined with their peers. I gave her an extra hairpin for good measure and sent her on her way. 

This is an awesome tutorial of how to use a hairpin properly.

Hairpins are available in any pharmacy and usually come in a little plastic box. Why not make a little hair emergency kit of your own? You never know what madness Mother Nature can throw at you during the day!

November 16, 2012

Happy Birthday Lauren!

A little shout today to one of Amelia's Girlfriends Lauren on her 28th Birthday!!

We first started sharing tips, trick and life stories the summer of 2003 when we were both unemployed and took to tanning in my parent's backyard for hours on end each day. This is when life was simple, and we had the darkest tans of anyone in Barrhaven (sorry Lindz!).

Since then our friendship has flourished and Lauren has always been there with a new trick of the trade, a hair problem, and lots of relationship advice. I'll never forget when she called me every single morning for a month after a break-up. What a friend. 

Love you Lauren! Have an another amazing weekend!!!

The Bubba Adventure

All I  wanted was a Bubba mug for my trip to Cuba last March.

I was over at St. Pius high school for the day, and got out at 2:30pm. Loving the warm weather, I decided I would swing by the Walmart on Baseline Road to pick one up. I found the travel mug aisle, but there was nothing of the Bubba brand. I picked up a random 400mL travel mug and started to walk around hoping that I would find something bigger or more Bubba like. There were none. I did get some spray sunscreen and sewing needles though #score.

1.5 L Bubba
I texted my girlfriends Meaghan and Rochelle about where they got their Bubbas the year before and Meaghan recommended Canadian Tire. I then went to Canadian Tire on Carling since I was picking up the seating chart for Rochelle's wedding nearby. After trying to go up the escalator the wrong way, I made my way upstairs and found the travel mug aisle. They had only the huge 1.5L (52oz) jugs, or the little 20 oz ones. I wanted the 34 oz one! (side note: Bubba makes about 10 different sizes of travel mugs)

The big ones were only in black as well and I wanted something prettier to match my beach outfits. I thought about it for 10 minutes: Did I really need a mug this big? How much would it weigh when full? Would it fit in my new beach bag? I decided I would continue my search for the 34oz Bubba and to try the other Canadian Tire in Hull. 

I braved the rush hour traffic, took a detour when Eddy street was block and arrived at Canadian Tire by 3:45pm. I had really wasted a lot of time at Walmart.  I found the travel mug aisle, and again, only the 52oz and 20oz mugs. This time there were purple mugs, so I figured I go for the big one.

At this point I shared my dilemma through text with Erik; was a 52oz Bubba just too big for Cuba?  He went online to check what's going on and to see if 34oz Bubbas even existed anymore.

In the mean time, Rochelle responded that I should check at Walmart and that she needs one too. My phone rings, its Erik! The 34oz Bubbas are on sale at Canadian Tire #scoreagain! They are not available at the Carling, or Bells Corner locations, but there should be some in Hull. I search again, and only the big ones which were a ridiculous $20.

34 oz Bubba = Just right
I grab a sales man, he grabs a flyer, and he says that they are not on sale. I go to the flyer thing at the front of the store and show him that they are. He says that those ones are in the the automotive section in aisle 8. I say "Thank you", and go to aisle 8. There are 2, 34oz Bubba's left on sale for $6.72, and one is in purple!!! #winning.

I swoop them up, happily pay my $20 bill, and share my good news with Erik, Rochelle and Meaghan. Unfortunately, the other Bubba was black, but I promised not to charge her for it. 

Two hours later, I finally arrive at home.  As soon as I got in I put together the seating chart and start packing. At this point I remember how much I love ALL of my summer dresses. The bubba goes straight into my suitcase!

Erik was going to be working late, so I curled up and finish the Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's nest. I start writing this note of my journey then Erik says he is coming home, I suggest McDonalds and he says it coupon season! WooHoo!

Cuba here we come! (Note to the reader: Read Is Your Passport Expired? For what happened next..)

November 14, 2012

Is Your Passport Expired? No? Then Book with

As the weather begins to chill, I am already dreaming about walking down a warm beach down south. Last year my trip down south started out a little rough. My boyfriend Erik and I booked a really cheap trip to Cayo Largo, Cuba from Sunday to Sunday during the March Break. We woke up Sunday morning, recovered one of our cars from the night before, and proceeded to pack in the one hour we had left before we had to drive to Montreal to catch our flight later than night. 

Just as we were about to walk out the door, Erik opened up both of our passports to make sure that he had the correct ones, and not our old expired passports. He opened mine and asked, "Where is your new passport?", to which I replied, "That is my new passport". 
He promptly let me know that my passport has expired two months before. 

My immediate reaction was to cry and scream repeatedly "What do I do?!". After a few calls to the travel agent we discovered that there were only flights to our resort on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and if I didn't get on the flight that night, then I would have to wait until the following Friday (therefore spending only two nights in Cuba). I couldn't get on the flight that night. Eeek!

Erik and I made the quick decision for him to drive to Montreal and grab the flight, and I would do everything I could the next day to get a passport and try to join him in a night or two. We didn't know how much this oversight was going to cost me, and figured it was better to only have to buy one new ticket instead of two. 

Erik's loving, caring and thoughtful parents took me in in his absence, drove me to Costco to get my passport picture, called friends to get more information about flights, gave me lots of wine, and finally a bed to sleep in that night at their house. The next morning (Monday), we got up and drove straight to the passport office. They issued me a passport in about 15 minutes (what what!), and from there I booked a flight to Havana, Cuba. We knew there was a flight to Cayo Largo Island, but not with any major airline and nothing we could book it over the phone with a credit card. 

I arrived in Havana late Monday night and tried my best to find some kind of confirmation on a flight to Cayo Largo, but all I got was a tip that there MAY be spaces on a plane at another airport the next morning at 7am. Erik's Mom Cindy booked me into a hotel in Havana for the night, so I ventured into a cab, and with no more cell phone reception travelled in the pitch black into the streets of Havana. Well, I saw the streets from the cab at least while the Beatles played over the radio. It felt like I was filming a scene for a movie. A very lonely, scary scene. 

The next morning I awoke at 4am, called a cab and headed for this mysterious airport. Upon arrival there was a huge line-up from a tour group, so I butted to the front and in frantic Spanish attempted to buy myself a ticket. They said they had space, and to my excitement40 hrs after I was supposed to leave, I was only a 45 minute flight away! There was just one catch. They only accepted cash (hence why we couldn't book over the phone), and I was 20 CUC (Cuban convertible pesos) short! I could have cried, well I actually did cry. Then this amazing Spanish woman stepped up and traded me $20 Canadian for 20 CUC.  I cried some more, shook her hand, and thanked her over and over again. I am still soooo grateful to this wonderful stranger. 

I boarded the plane, and finally relaxed for the first time in two days. When I arrived at the island, I had no cash, but a van was waiting for me, and when we pulled up to the resort Erik was sitting on the front steps of the hotel. It was the most beautiful sight I've ever seen. 

In the end, the two extra flights and a night of accommodations in Havana cost more than the entire initial trip. The only redeeming factor in all of this, is that the initial trip was super cheap and that I still got a good tan. I also had a sweet, purple Bubba with me (stayed tuned for the Bubba Adventure on Friday). 

What I learned:
1. Always check the expiring date on your passport when you book your trip
2. When booking an All Inclusive, book a hotel that has flights every day of the week. If something should happen, you can make it out there any day you choose.
3. Get an emergency passport where they actually print the passports. 
4. Book your vacations through is the only good site I have ever found for booking an All Inclusive. Once you pick your departure destination, all of the other information is laid out on a grid. You can search by month if you have a specific time in mind, or you can search by destination to see when you can get the lowest price. Every location can be divided into weeks, then by hotel. It is so easy to search and to compare prices. It also has a link to tripadvisor so that you can get the real story on the resorts. 

I'm already in the process of booking for this year, and know my passport is good until 2017!

November 12, 2012

It's a Bird? It's a Plane? It's Tweezerman!

My high school daily routine consisted of waking up, and before my shower I would sit on the counter and tweeze my eyebrows looking into the medicine cabinet mirror. I would also leave the little hairs I removed on the frame of the mirror which totally disgusted my three brothers. I am not proud of this now. After school, and definitely before bed, I would hop back on to the counter to see what was going on and if I could tweeze anything else. Tweezing became totally engraved in to my way of life. 

At the end of high school, I bought a dark brown powder to use to fill in my eyebrows a little more (or when a supporting hair had accidentally been removed). The powder came with a stiff brush and a pair of mini-tweezers. These little tweezers were awesome! I was able to tweeze out hairs I'd never dreamed of tweezing before. The only problem was that they were so small, that I was often misplacing them and had difficulty finding them even in my own make-up bag. They did the trick though, and I never left town without them. 

Years passed, and while reading a trashy magazine, I saw an ad for Tweezerman professional tweezers. I didn'teven know there was such a thing as professional. The next time I was in Shoppers Drug Mart, I took a look and sure enough they sold them. They run about $25/pair, but knowing how much time and energy I spent on tweezing I figured that it was a good investment. Tweezerman sells many different style of tweezers, but I settled on the standard slanted tip pair in bright pink. I got home and went to try them right away. 

These are the Cadillac of tweezers. There wasn't a hair, no matter how short, that I couldn't remove with these guys. They were sharp, and strong and had a tight grip that no one could escape from. I was in tweezing heaven. 

My mother knows how much I love tweezing, and during one of her shopping adventures she found a tweezer carrying case, with the most powerful magnifying mirror I had ever seen. I had had magnified mirrors in the past, but this one trumped all of them, plus it keep my tweezers in a safe, easy to find case. I truely believe that I now have the best tweezer system in the world.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that my darling Tweezermans just weren't doing the trick. I'm not sure then it started, but I wasn't even able to pull out some of the longer, easy to reach hairs. They would just slip through the cracks! I bit the bullets, and went to buy a second pair of Tweezermans. I settled on a bright red pair, brought them home, and again was amazed by their ability to tackle even the shortest hairs. I was disappointed that I had to buy a new expensive pair after only a couple of years though.

That's when I saw it. On the new packaging, it advertised that Tweezermans were good for life, and they offered free sharpening! All I had to do what go to their webpage, fill out a form, print it off and send them my used tweezers. I received an email when my tweezers arrived at their warehouse, and a second email when they were being shipped back to my loving arms. Who knew? Now I have not only one, but two pairs of these amazing tools. 

I haven't decided exactly where to keep my extra pair, but f you ever get a sliver, I think you know who to see. 

November 9, 2012

My Tweezing Obsession

My obsession with my eyebrows began in 7th Grade. I was riding on the school bus back, and the girl in the seat in front of me was telling us how her mother tweezed her eyebrows for her. She rambled on for the duration of the ride telling us every single detail of her tweezing experience. She told us how her eyebrows now framed her eyes better and that she looked for feminine. I knew immediately that this was something that I needed to get in on.

I knew my own Mother had tweezers in her make-up bag, so after dinner I snuck into bathroom and took them. I also took a little mirror and headed into my bedroom to clean up my brows a little. The first problem was that I couldn't figure out how to use the tweezers. I knew what hairs that I wanted to grab, but the tweezers just couldn't seem to get them off of my face. I knew not to let this obstacle get in my way, so I casually went back to the bathroom and grabbed a pair of nail scissors. I am still not entirely sure how I managed to do this, but I twisted the scissors in a way that I was able to grab the hairs without cutting them off at the root. There were a few casualties along the way, but after a good hour, I managed to successfully "tweeze" off most of my natural eyebrows. 

Satisfied with the job, I put everything away and joined my Mother in her bedroom while she watched t.v. It took her about 5 seconds to realize what I had done. I will never forget her gasping and asking me, "Ohh no, what have you done?!" I'll admit now that I zealously over-tweezed and gave myself what one would consider a Pamela Anderson brow. I can't even imagine what my friends at school thought, but maybe they were jealous as well and went home and over-tweezed their eyebrows too?

Really, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I didn't do any research, I didn't know where an eyebrow should start or end, or what shape would look best on my face. I just went for it and took one for the team. Bad idea! I could have really used a guide like this

I stuck with the scissor technique for sometime, until my Mom caught on and bought me some tweezers of my own. They were just the standard Revlon pharmacy brand, but they did the trick. The annoying thing about my eyebrows is that the hairs are dark brown and are very thick. An individual hair can support the entire width of the brow in places and its removal could leave a gaping hole, or shortened the overall length. 

It also means that the hairs growing in are dark and obvious. I became obsessed with monitoring the re-growth of my hair and would often tweeze several times a day. There is nothing more frustrating than seeing a hair, and not being able to remove it. I would wait a few hours and hope that it grew enough so that I would be able to remove it later in the day. Seriously, obsessed.

For the next couple of years my eyebrows remained painfully thin. I remember being on vacation in P.E.I. and my Dad telling me that I should grow them out a little more. When did my Dad ever comment on my eyebrow width? I'll admit now that he was 100% right, but I just wasn't ready to make the change at the time. Think of it as someone telling you that you and your boyfriend are not meant to be together. Eventually you will figure it out for yourself, but in the mean time you just want everyone else to mind their own business. 

My eyebrows and I had a very personal relationship. 

Stay tuned Monday for Part 2: It's a Bird? It's a Plane? It's Tweezerman!!

November 7, 2012

Those Easy, Breezy, Lauren's Every Day Waves!

One afternoon I was searching online for an avocado mask recipe to put on my hair to cure some dry ends. My girlfriend Alyssa told me that she used to make one with avocado and olive oil when she lived in Africa, and that it made her hair really soft. 

During my research I came across another blog called the Beauty Department. I must have spent a good hour going through the different entries, looking at the brilliant pictures and I finally ended up on their youtube page. 

There was a video called Lauren's Every Day Waves. If you don't know who Lauren is, she's LC from Laguna Beach, or Lauren from The Hills. I used to watch the Hills before Lauren left the show, and I will admit, I always wondered how she got those loose waves in her hair. I'll also add  that the last season of the Hills was so fake I couldn't stand it, and there wasn't enough Spidi madness going on to make it worth my while. The show was in its prime when LC yelled over and over again at Heidi in the club, "You know what you did!!". I'm still even sure I even knew what she did, but moving on...

Back in 2008, I would always curl the ends of my hair with a big curling iron, but they never looked like Lauren's. I would look more like a 18-year-old prom-queen on a good day, or an 8 year-old beauty-queen on a bad day. The curls never quite framed by face right, and went in all of the wrong directions. Why was this so hard to do?!

Up until three weeks ago, I had given up on the waves, and was just curling out my ends with the round brush on blow-dry days. After watching this simple 1:37 video, I ran straight for the bedroom, turned on my curling iron and about 8 minutes later had the look I've been trying to achieve for years!!! I already had a big curling iron, so I didn't need any curling wand or extra tools. I just didn't know the right location to start the curls from, or that a good run of the brush through at the end was essential. It was that simple.

The next day one of my fav student's said my hair looked pretty. At dinner that week Avocado Alyssa said she liked my waves. At dinner on Saturday another girlfriend asked how I got my look. It was really working. I had every day waves and people were noticing!

I was at a conference earlier this week, and a professional photographer was talking candid pictures throughout the day. When my picture went up on the big screen, I loved the way my hair looked. Let me tell you this is a huge revelation. I have always thought my hair looked decent when I walked out the door, but I was always let down when I saw it later in a picture. It just never had the look I was going for. Now that I know what I am doing I am addicted. I don't know if I can ever leave my ends natural again. 

I never did end up doing that avocado mask, but I did buy some Aragan Oil to rub into the ends of my hair. But, that's a story for another day...

November 5, 2012

Is There a Perfect Lipstick?

It's been a very busy weekend celebrating my darling boyfriend, Erik' birthday and I'm now in Toronto presenting a project for work, so I just thought I'd share this small story today. Happy Birthday Erik!!!

I used to love music videos. I would sit in my family room and watch Much Music religiously. I would tape the music videos that I liked onto a VHS tape and watch them over and over again with my friends. I would learn the dances from Backstreet Boys videos, and swoon over how cute Nick looked. My girlfriends and I used to pretend to be the singers from 98 Degrees, and battle over who would play Nick Lachey. I can even remember the first time I saw Britney Spears' "Baby, One More Time" video on a Friday before ballet class. 

I loved the Friday night countdown because I knew they would be playing all of the new videos, and I was guaranteed to be able to tape them. 

Do you remember the music video by Brandy and Monica for the "Boy Is Mine"? I was captivated by how amazing their lipstick was. Brandy's would shift from gold blends, to mauves. Monica from neutral to burgundy. The lipstick was seamless and really quite spellbinding. The song was pretty good too. Recently  Erik and I added this song on a playlist on Grooveshark and I've been thinking about their lip ever since. Not only did they find two beautiful girls to sing together, but they both have the fullest lips in the world. Really, they are a make-up artist's dream!

I've been wearing Clinique's Long Last Glosswear SPF 15 in Bonfire for the past two years. It goes on sticky, lasts a long time and really reflects light. The best part is that I can buy it at the Bay, Shoppers, or Sephora. It is far from the perfect blending of make-up artist, but it does the trick on a Monday morning in the office. I've tried stains before, lipsticks, pencils and plain glosses. Nothing every seems to last all day without feeling like dry clay on my lips. Is there is a perfect lipstick? Did Brandy and Monica have this figured out back in 1998? Will something ever beat my glosswear? Will Obama get re-elected this Tuesday?
Only time will tell...

November 2, 2012

The Blow-dryer Diaries: Part 2

Where did I leave off? I was in my last year of university and had just started using a new red, Revlon blow-dryer. I also would supplement my blow-drys with some big curls in a 1 1/2 inch curling iron. When I went to Space Camp in 2008 (a story for another post) my nickname was Barbie. I was finally getting the look that I wanted. 

Enter January 2009. I was in Toronto visiting my friend Lindsay again in her new apartment. This is the very same Lindsay that originally told me that I needed to get a stronger blow-dryer four years earlier. Normally when I go away for a weekend, I arrange my hair washing during the week so that I do not need to do any blow-drying while I am out of town. I just pack my dry shampoo, and I know I can be ready in under 20 minutes. This particular weekend I wasn't properly organized and needed to complete a full Saturday hair washing (I also hadn't discovered dry shampoo yet). Lindsay graciously offered me the use of her blow-dryer and I proceeded to make her apartment into a sweat-box for the following 25 minutes. Remember how hot that apartment was, Linds? Wait, only 25 minutes? I had just shaved 10 minutes off of my previous best time with my Revlon!! How was this blow-dryer so good? Lindsay had done it again!

What was the difference you ask? Well, when using a round brush I dry my hair in sections. With a really hot blow-dryer each section of hair dries faster, and I was able to move on to the next piece with unsurpassed speed. I loved the blow-dry so much from that day, that I have used a picture from that party in all of my online profiles. I'm sure all of my friends are familiar with this picture. 

My friend Lauren also had a similar story when she would visit our friend Phyllis. Phyllis' blow-dryer just seemed to do a better job in less time then her own blow-dryer at home. Lauren told me that the wattage really made a big difference. This time I didn't mess around. I went to Sally Beauty supplies and picked up an IQ blow-dryer for $80. The price seemed steep at the time, but I knew what 18750W could do! 

I started sharing my story with anyone who would listen. I just couldn't get over how fast I was able to dry my hair. It's hard to believe that I once went to bed with soaking wet hair and would just hope for the best in the morning. Don't get me wrong, my blow-drys were still far from perfect, but I could get ready for work on the days I washed my hair in about an hour. This was life changing to someone who loves to sleep. 

My IQ and I had three good years together until it blew out during a trip to Cuba. In its replacement I bought a light-weight Tool Science dryer also from Sally's. I have to say that I didn't realize how heavy my dryer was until I used this new one. Wow! What a difference on my weak, weak arms in the morning. 

I'll finish this story with a funny little tale. This past January I was back in Toronto visiting Lindsay for another birthday celebration (10 birthdays together now!). I didn't even think to pack my blow-dryer since I knew she would have the best of the best. Well I sadly mistaken. Linds, I am sorry to throw you under the bus here, but the blow-dryer was terrible! It took me over an hour to dry my hair and we were starving for brunch by the time I was done. When we got together in August she was still using this same weak blow-dryer, and has promised me that she will buy a better one. I'm still waiting for that email and am hoping this post will remind you how good you used to have it. 

There is no time like the present. If there is only one tip that you ever take from Amelia, please let this be the one!!! Don't get stuck under that hot hair for any longer than half an hour. Life is for living, not for blow-drying.