Monthly Archives: May 2013

Easy Breezy Blowout

Around this time last year, the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, was all over the magazines.  And for good reason.  She is an icon of modern elegance, poise, and class, with an approachable nature that endears her to most people.  And she’s a princess now, meaning she is the fairytale come to life of a common girl capturing the heart of a prince, and achieving her happy ending.  It was like a new British invasion, everyone wanted her wardrobe!  Her shoes!  Her wedding details!  Her honeymoon!  And of course – her hair.  Kate’s classic bouncy blowout became all the rage.  Sooo pretty!

I’m not Kate, but I can show you how to do a basic blowout.  Now, I realize hers has nicely curled ends, but I have naturally curly hair, so when I do a blowout, I want it straight and sleek all the way through, but without losing all the volume.Start with wet/damp hair.  Detangle using a wide-toothed comb.

Work a small amount of smoothing product into your hair.  I personally like Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine Express Blow Dry Milk, available at any drugstore.  It has keratin, the natural substance that makes up your hair, and I’ve found it significantly reduces my drying time and sleekness, while also protecting my strands.Now, blow dry hair in 2 sections.  Sweep up the top half of your hair, and dry the bottom half well, pointing the nozzle down.

Next, flip the top half over your face and blow dry that way, this will create nice volume at the crown.

Once hair is mostly dry, flip to how it should sit for blowdrying finishing touches. (Tip: lift the top layer and gently blow dry the strands down, this will smooth down the varying lengths and tame a good part of the frizzies without using extra product)

To finish the style, run ends and top layer of hair through a straightening iron.

Use a small amount of finishing shine product, especially near roots and on ends, to give hair extra gloss and sleekness. My favourite is Satinique’s Brilliant Polish, because it’s very light and non-greasy.

And that’s it!  For a girl like me, with a lot of thick crazy curly hair, it takes me about 15 minutes start to finish, 20 if I’m being fussy and want to get it just perfect.  This is a great everyday polished look, also works great for a situation like a job interview or meeting, since it looks sleek and professional.

Do you have quick, pretty hairstyles you like to do?  Let me know in the comments!

(Photo of Kate Middleton from Radiant Salon at http://radiantsalon.co.uk/blog/?p=3109)
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Yummy Breakfast Crescent Wreath

Hello, lovely readers!

I’ve got another treat for you!  A yummy filling breakfast recipe that’s perfect for a lazy weekend morning, or a brunch.  I love trying new recipes (mainly from Pinterest) and then sharing the good ones with you.  I know it’s good when I like it, but the ultimate test for me is simple – would my hubby like it repeated?  And the answer for this one was a resounding yes.

The original recipe can be found here,

It’s a great breakfast to throw together, since it’s easy to have everything on hand already.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of Pillsbury Crescent dough (makes 8 crescents)
  • 5 large eggs, scrambled
  • 1 cup (100g) shredded cheese of choice (I like sharp cheddar or tex mex)
  • 8 slices cooked bacon (hello Maple Leaf ReadyCrisp!)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Lay out your crescents in a circle, pointed tips facing out, like this.
  3. Place a strip of bacon on each crescent.
  4. Sprinkle 1/2 of the cheese on the circle part.
  5. Add eggs and remaining cheese on the circle.
  6. Fold over crescents into centre, it’s okay if there are gaps in between them.
  7. Bake for about 15 minutes.
  8. Once cooled, slice them up, it’s like a bacon breakfast sandwich in a crescent.  Mmmmm….

And there you have it!  I really like this recipe because it’s very easy and quick to throw together, but still looks impressive, and feels more elegant than simply making scrambled eggs for about the same amount of effort.

Happy cooking!

Light Cake Mix Goodies

This recipe is one of my secret weapons to staying (or getting) slim.

I originally found it via Hungry Girl’s emails (basically the guilt-free guide to deliciousness). It’s a great recipe for baked goods that are moist and delicious, and seriously slashes calories and fat. And? It only calls for two ingredients. Yes, TWO. What more could a girl ask for.

So the basic recipe is this!

Ingredients

  • 1 box cake mix of choice (devil’s food, chocolate, spice, red velvet, etc.)
  • 15oz (425g) canned pureed pure pumpkin

Directions

Mix the two, spoon mixture into muffin pan, or make them into cookies and bake.

Bake at 400 for 20 minutes. I prefer 350 cause I still like them a bit doughy.

…. and done. Usually, this comes out to about 181 calories per muffin/cookie if you make a dozen. Last time I used butter pecan cake mix, and made 15 pieces, so 145 calories each for just that, but then I mixed in some hazelnuts.

Also, here in Canada, I haven’t often seen 425g cans of pumpkin, so I buy a big can that clocks in at about 790g, use half for one batch of baking, and then freeze the other half for a later batch. It works perfectly.

Obviously, this recipe is just begging to be played with. I’ve used lots of different mixes, mixed in nuts to give it some crunch, or chocolate chips, filled them with truffles and then frosted them. I really like them, because I can’t eat a lot right when I get up, so they make a perfect mid-morning snack after a light breakfast, and go great with coffee! Everything goes great with coffee. Below is a picture of the aforementioned butter pecan with hazelnuts, as well as a red velvet cupcake made this way topped with homemade light cream cheese frosting…mmm…


Give it a whirl! Two ingredients, directions so easy you could do it in your sleep… and delicious, without all the excess calories. Now, I’m off for my mid-afternoon snack of a muffin… nom nom nom 🙂

(Original idea for this recipe from Hungry Girl at http://www.hungry-girl.com/show/surprises-shockers-and-swaps-yum-yum-brownie-muffins-recipe )

Black Patent Leather Heels

I have a pair of shoes. They are black patent leather. I’m not a big shoe fanatic, but these are special shoes. And this is their story.

If shoes could be friends, these are my oldest and among my dearest. We met 9 years ago, in a thrift store. I was young, the tender age of 13, and was looking for the perfect accessories to complete my Grade 8 graduation outfit. With my mother, we had found the dress, a sparkling red one-shoulder sheath. Now the shoes.

As I sifted through the racks at that dusty old shop, I had doubts I would find anything. And then I saw a gleam, the promising gleam of classic black patent leather. I picked them up. They were real leather, and the name on the insole was Charles Jourdan. Turning them over, I saw they were made in France. I looked at them quizzically and thought, “these just might work.” They were a classic almond-toe pump, and the heels were nearly 4 inches tall. I stepped into them gingerly, and they fit as if they were mine from the start. The soft leather formed itself to me, and I was instantly able to walk in them, no pain, no wobbling. In just a few minutes, and for only $10, they were mine.

When that night came, the shoes performed wonderfully. They carried me gracefully up on the stage, to accept my diploma and awards, and they supported me as I danced the night away. And ever since then, those shoes have been with me. I’ve had the taps replaced more times than I know, had them re-soled, and added some cushy insoles once in a while. But they still fit just as perfectly as that first time, and the heel is that perfect height to make me feel lovely and empowered but not topple as I walk – or dance! They are my classic comfortable meeting shoes, my interview shoes, my trying-on-a-new dress shoes, my dancing shoes, my office shoes, my wedding guest shoes. They are timeless classics with a gleaming shine, and they’ve scaled tile, grass, and concrete with perfect poise. It’s been nine years, and they fit me even better than when we first met. These shoes, they’re not just any pair of pumps. They were the first shoes that made me feel like a woman, like a lady. They’ve got my back.

Do you have any clothes or accessories that you just know you can always rely on, and they’ll be just right?

Easy Spring Pad Thai

I’ll be sharing one of my signature recipes today. This one is a hit, especially when we have guests. I think it might be because Pad Thai is kind of a special treat for most, an exotic dish best savoured via takeout with mysterious ingredients that create wonderful flavours. It’s also deliciously light and flavourful for spring!

This recipe, which I customized, is really easy and tends towards more recognizable ingredients (because as much as I love Pad Thai, I am not keeping fish sauce). I’m also not big on tofu, so I left it out. I guess you could call this “western-ized” Pad Thai.

The original recipe that I based it on is here, but I made some adjustments. I use most of the substitutions (white vinegar, soy sauce), as well as changed the measurements to my own liking. That recipe is below.

Fresh & Easy Spring Pad Thai (serves 4)
1 package Thai rice noodles, cooked & drained
2 precooked chicken breasts, chopped
3 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 shallot, minced (I sometimes omitted or used onion)
6 cloves minced garlic
8 tsp soy sauce
4 tbsp white vinegar
3 tbsp sugar
2 eggs
ground pepper
2 cups fresh bean sprouts
2 cups fresh chives, chopped (I usually eyeball this based on the package)
1 lime
4 tbsp crushed roasted peanuts

Good prep makes this dish super easy. I usually start with cooking the noodles. Be sure to rinse them as well as drain, or they will stick together. Also, have your chicken ready to go.

And finally, I like to mix the sauce ahead of time. One more quick tip: as you’re going along, if it seems the sauce is drying up, feel free to add a bit more vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar (or just water) into the pan as you go.

Sauce: Mix together soy sauce, white vinegar, and sugar. Set aside.

Heat a wok (I just use a large frying pan) on high, and pour in the vegetable oil.
Add the shallot and garlic, stir until they start to brown.
Add the noodles to the pan, and stir to coat.
Pour in sauce, stir. Push the noodles off to one side, making room for the eggs.
Crack the eggs into the pan and scramble. Mix the cooked eggs into the noodles.
Sprinkle pepper over the entire pan. Add about ⅔ of the bean sprouts and half the chives, mix well.
Pour into your serving dish, sprinkle with a bit more pepper, and top with peanuts, the remaining bean sprouts and chives.
Serve with lime wedges and extra peanuts on the side.

As you can see, it’s pretty easy to throw together, and makes an impressive dish, which serves 4-6 easily, since we always end up with extra. I find it perfect for a lunch or dinner, and it tastes delicious as leftovers (I’m salivating right now just thinking about it). Here’s a picture of the finished product.

Have you tried it? Thoughts? Care to share your spring recipes?

Product Review – Artistry Enchanted Garden Collection

I haven’t done a product review in a while, but this new makeup has become my go-to this spring.  It’s super easy to use, lasts all day, and looks great!

Okay, confession time – I take almost no risks when it comes to my makeup.  Seriously, 90% of the time I’m wearing one of two subtle everyday smokey eye looks (either purple/pink or black/grey), simple pink blush, mascara, and a sheer gloss.  Barely ever do I venture into other colours, colourful eyeliners, swirly face powders, or anything like that (and when I do, hubby says he likes my “usual” look better), which I know is a little odd for a blogger that writes a fair bit about beauty.  But this time, I decided to venture out of my comfort zone, and it was so worth it!

I’ve always wanted to try liquid or cream eyeshadow, it seemed like such a cool concept, and I secretly hoped maybe it would last longer on my eyes?  And maybe not crease?  So when I saw that Artistry’s Spring Limited Edition had ready-made sets of liquid eyeshadow, I was intrigued.  When I saw the promo video mention that the collection was inspired by Monet’s “Waterlilies”, I was excited (one of my favourite painters).  And when I saw the gorgeous packaging, I was sold!

The blushes really drew me in.  The compacts are oh-so-pretty, and the pink one is exactly the shade I wear, but with a hint of sparkle (shiny!).  The peach one drew me as well, because I didn’t really wear peach before, but the shade looked like a spitting image of NARS’ Orgasm blush, which I know is a cult favourite and is supposed to look good on everyone.  Both feel so silky and luxurious to put on, and I love the way they look on me.  The colour also lasts all day, which I really like.  A caveat though – they go on quite intense, so you only need a little on your brush.  Believe me, the first time I tried them I kind of looked like one of those china dolls with two very clearly visible pink circles on my cheeks, not cute.  So just a little on the brush, and blend blend blend happily.

And now the eyeshadows.  I looove these.  They are the easiest eyeshadows I have ever used.  Just shake it up, dot on the colour, blend with fingertips, done.  They have a nice soft shimmer, dry fast, and last on my lids ALL DAY.  I’ve been using these every day for about a month now, and they seem to last a long time too, so bonus!  Here are some pictures of me wearing both sets.

This is the warm set, peach blush, and the eyeshadow in buttery yellow, violet, and copperish.

And this one is the cool set, with pink blush, and eyeshadow trio of gold, mauve, and blue.

To give them a try, you can buy them here for a limited time.  The prices are $28.60 for the blush, and $61.20 for the eyeshadow trio before tax.

What are some of your spring beauty updates?

(Photo of makeup set from Artistry US Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/artistryus )