“Anything is possible with coffee and lashes”- unknown but smart person

Not unlike when Ross and Rachel were “on a break” in the third season of Friends, my lash extensions and I parted ways last week after I decided it was time for a “break”.  I hesitated to post about this topic in light of appearing vain, but my eyelash extensions were way harder to break up with than I had anticipated (I knew I would miss them, I just had no idea how much).

A24A734C-844E-4719-8610-0E3880BAC472
Look at that fan!

I have had extensions on for almost 2.5 years. I had them on and off years ago but this last round began with going to Vegas for a bachelorette party and I just kept going with them. They were long, fluffy and they made me look both awake and “done” with zero effort. When I had no time, all I had to do was brush them, slap on a little under-eye concealer and I was out the door. They drew attention to my eyes and gave me a much needed zap of confidence, so much so that I didn’t mind paying to have them filled every 3-4 weeks.

C4082E36-EB8D-4452-A150-A7220FBAB889
No makeup, un-washed and un-brushed hair (aka a rats nest!) but amazing lashes !

1773B27D-2967-4D11-99BB-227F2D5461C5

I think part of the reason I was hooked was because they were just so darn good. Not too long, not too full and they didn’t look artificial like many lash extensions tend to (some lashes boarder on tacky, mine never did). My long-time friend and aesthetician is a true artist when it comes to lashes, she is fussy with her technique; ensuring safe application that protects the condition of your own lashes while giving you a natural enhancement you just can’t help but adore (Bonus; she is the kindest, cutest and loveliest human being, follow her on Instagram- ‘stellalashlover’- to see her incredible work that goes well beyond lashes). FYI- If your lashes are applied with proper technique, they should just fall out with the natural progression and shed with your own lashes. If they aren’t applied with proper technique, they may be too heavy or have too much glue and can cause your own lashes to become brittle or to fall out prematurely which can damage your lashes for a long-ass time. A LONG-ASS TIME (that is super long in “Mich-time”).

So, now that I have talked about why lash extensions were the best (aka- confidence, pretty eyes with no effort, looking awake on virtually zero minutes of sleep), lets talk about why I decided to take a break. I honestly didn’t have one giant reason. I found I was shedding lashes more than I used to and this is likely related to my own lash cycle not the extensions. I thought it was a little frivolous and that I could try to roll without them to save a little cash and honestly, I just needed a break from them. Stella was super supportive through this decision, she wiped them clean and gave me a lash lift- to add a little curl and height to my own natural lashes.

CE40B7E4-748D-4657-AA66-9B496E98AA2A
Above- Post lash removal with zero makeup. Below -my eyes after the lift with no mascara/makeup (made a very big difference).

I will be honest, when I had them taken off I felt a lot less cute and a whole lot more bald. I was shocked at the change. I have always had healthy lashes and an abundance of them, but they have never been super long.  As lashes fall out naturally, the longest ones go first- so many of my longest lashes fell out with the extensions leaving me looking a little extra bald. Luckily, because Stella is the best, my lashes had no damage and were in tip-top condition. The lift made a big difference and once I applied mascara, I felt a whole lot less bald, but still significantly less cute and glam than with my extensions- but all of that was to be expected.

I bought a fabulous mascara by Benefit (Bad-Gal BANG) one that seems like the perfect mix between my old go-to (MAC Zoom-FAST – which doesn’t exist anymore) for it’s wetness (I LOVE wet mascara), my second fave which was the Too-Faced ‘Better Than Sex‘ mascara and my third fave which was the Benefit ‘They’re Real‘ mascara. This new one is wet, has a rubber applicator with a TON of bristles, it stays in place and it both darkens and lengthens without leaving you looking like a raccoon/spider hybrid. Win-win. I also bought a lash serum called Eye Envy that has excellent reviews with what seems like none of the side effects that some of the other highly reccomended lash serums seem to have. I found a new eye-liner by NYX that is possibly even better than the Kat Von D one I had been using for years. I messaged Keiko Lynn on insta and asked her what her #1 eyeliner is (her liner is perfection in all her posts). She wrote me back (!!!!) and she suggested the Matte Liquid NYX liner and said her second fave was the Kat Von D one I already loved.  After taking it for a test spin, I 100% agree with her and it is half the price! Thanks Keiko, you are adorable.

It has been a week without extensions and so far, it’s not that bad. The worst part of not having extensions is taking off mascara (that stuff is a real bitch). Will I get extensions back eventually? Yep, that is very likely but for now,  I am taking a break and seeing what that serum can do! Any questions, feel free to comment on here or send me a message on Instagram.

** all pics of extensions and lifts are taken by @stellalashlover and the ones post lash lift have NO mascara or serum, all natural baby!

xo

-m

“Son of a Nutcracker!!”- Buddy The Elf

I know, I am terrible. I have been the worst kind of amature blogger (the kind that doesn’t blog often enough). Now that all of that is out if the way, I thought we could have a little catch up over coffee. I am drinking a giant one at the moment, so grab a cuppa and settle in (or just skim the pics haha, your call). Since I blogged last…

  1. I survived another semester of grad school while working full time. I am happy to report that I am half done and I haven’t died yet!
  2. My Christmas wish came true; we can land the new helicopters on the roof at both of the hospitals in the city. For those of you that don’t know (I don’t think I really talk shop on here), I am currently working as an air medical transport nurse. For the last 18 months we have not been able to land on the raised helipads in the city, adding close to 15 minutes to our often time sensitive transport calls in the maritimes. This is probably the highlight of the year because it is so much better for our patients!DSC_0087
  3. I am still obsessed with The Ordinary skin care products and have become equally as obsessed with dermaplaning my skin. This is when a trained professional/skin care guru uses a sharp surgical blade to exfoliate your skin and remove all of the fine “peach fuzz” from your face.  This not only helps your skin care regime absorb better but it also encourages cellular turn over/ regeneration. Dermaplaning can help with scaring/ hyper-pigmentation, not to mention it results in an incredibly smooth makeup application. You can have this procedure done every six weeks or so and NO, your hair won’t grow back darker or thicker (but if you have a significant mount of dark hair you may find the re-growth more noticeable) . Don’t believe me? Read this Refinery 29 article and do a little research before going under the blade.orig
  4. I am trying to start a new holiday tradition of having a few girls over to make holiday centrepieces. It is a super easy way to get some people together for an afternoon chat, some mulled wine or cider and then everyone gets to leave with something beautiful for their holiday table. Anyone can do it, even if they have zero crafty bones in their bodies and they are shockingly inexpensive. All you need is a little flower pot or water tight tin (I picked these up at Ikea and they were perfect), some flower oasis (the green sponge they sell at the dollar store), some seasonal branches (pine, holly, spruce, cedar, magnolia) and some sparkling picks or ornaments. Then you simply trim down some sprigs and branches and stick them into your oasis until you have a full centrepiece that just needs a little sparkle to make the table shine! Water them as necessary and they will last well into the new year! They make the perfect hostess gift!centercenterpeicecenterpiece
  5. I limited my Christmas baking this year. I am trying to cut back on refined sugar, plus there is always an abundance of sweets and treats both at work and at home over the holiday season. I made a single batch of whipped short bread for my grandmother this year and I accidentally added almond extract instead of vanilla (seriously, why is almond now in a brown bottle too?!). This turned into a very happy accident, as they tasted even more special with the sweet almond aroma. In the future I am going to continue to skip the vanilla and opt for almond everything! Find my simple, melt-in-your-mouth recipie hereblog 5DSC_0128blogblog 3
  6. As many of you know, I have ordered my glasses online for close to 10 years. I have tried many different companies but I seem to have the best luck and the best service with Clearly Contacts. They have a fantastic selection, have incredible sales and they stand behind their product. If you don’t like them, they will ship them back for free and give you your money back!! My new favourite line is called Main and Central and these glasses  are not only my all time fav, but the ones I keep getting compliments on!

Finally, I thought I would share the ultimate recipe for mulled wine. For those of you who have never had it, mulled wine is a hot beverage consisting of wine (usually red), spices, citrus, sugar and maybe a liquor. There are a million ways to make it and people have literally been enjoying it since the 1300’s. Charles Dickens was a big fan and many different cultures and countries have their own version that is a traditional beverage enjoyed in the winter and throughout the holiday season. It tastes like Christmas in a mug! I have tried many recipes but the one below is my favourite and it can be made in the slow cooker! Happy holidays!

-mcider 1cider 2cider 8cider 4cider 5cider 7cider 3

Spiced Mulled Wine (slow cooker style, you can easily double it!)

  • 1 750ml bottle of red wine (this doesn’t need to be expensive, just full bodied and not too sweet. It is the perfect way to use up gifted wine you otherwise wouldn’t enjoy or homemade wine).
  • 2 cups of apple cider (you can also use OJ, but trust me, spiced apple cider elevate this!).
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced
  • 5 or 6 whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 cardamom pods (if you can find them, I didn’t have any).
  • 2 whole star anise
  • optional 1/4 cup of brandy

Add wine, cider, honey, orange zest, and orange juice to a good sized slow cooker. Stir to combine. Add the cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, and star anise. Cook on low until warm, 30 minutes to 1 hour, slow cooker dependant. Stir in the brandy and once fully hot, switch to keep warm and ladle into mugs or pretty tea cups. Garnish with orange slices and cinnamon sticks !

“Good to the last drop.”- Maxwell House Coffee, 1956

I have a confession to make. I was once a product whore. Yes, it is an ugly term but it is a term that describes me perfectly while I was in my early 20’s. I was consistently inconsistent, rarely finishing a product let alone buying it again. I was always in the search of the next best thing. There are pros and cons to this behaviour. If you are flexible, running out of your favourite coffee on a Sunday morning doesn’t ruin your day.  It may however, mean that your skin is less consistent and you aren’t guaranteed to enjoy your glass of red wine at the end of a hard day. Don’t get me wrong, I still try new things all of the time but over the years I have collected an arsenal of products that I buy again and again. I guess you could call them my ride or die products that I sometimes even stock-pile in advance as to not risk running out. Here are a few of them. Some are expensive, some are not but all of them are equally well loved.

The Ordinary’s Buffet Serum (find it here)

This is a multi-technology peptide serum full of heavy hitting vitamins and peptides that my skin just eats up. This only serum I have used to the very last drop. It is affordable and my skin has never looked better. I may or may not have two bottles stogged away in my linen closet (which is excessive as it took me more than six months to go through one).

orig

The Ordinary’s Natural Moisturizing Factors (find it here)

I have used dozens of moisturizers in the past at varying price points and this is the first one I have ever re-purchased more than once. It is thick, a little goes a long way but it isn’t heavy and it doesn’t clog my pores. It is 100% unscented and now comes in 100 ml bottles. Did I mention it is ridiculously affordable?!

Make Up Forever Water Blend Foundation (find it here)

This foundation is slightly on the more expensive side but it has lasted me over six months. It comes in 19 colours and is so light and dewy it is hard to tell there is anything on my face. I spent years wearing tinted moisturizers because I love the natural look and this gives me the perfect amount of build-able coverage while keeping my skin dewy and fresh. If you are looking for full coverage foundation, this is not the product for you, you may want to try thisthis or for an affordable full cover, this.

Make-Up-For-Ever-Water-Blend-628

MAC Modesty Cremesheen Lipstick (find it here)

I have been wearing this shade for years. I just finished off my 6th tube and for good reason, it is the perfect muted, everyday pink. It is super neutral, goes on smoothly and has just a hint of mauve which makes your teeth look extra white!

Rimmel Kate Moss Lipstick in 08 (find it here)

This colour looks great on EVERYONE. It is less than $7, super creamy and smells like old fashioned lipstick. I buy this for everyone and suggest it to anyone who wants to take lipstick for a spin but is overwhelmed or afraid of a bold lip. It is a little punchier than the MAC one above but still pretty neutral!

Nuknuuk Slippers from Costco (find them here)

I am just working in my third pair. I am extremely hard on footwear and these beautiful slippers last me two years before they need replacing. They are made of sheepskin and are lined with thick, cushiony sherpa. They are so luxe and come in at less than $30.

joy_harvest_1

Bed Head Urban Antidotes shampoo/conditioner/mask (find them here)

I have used Bed Head shampoo for close to ten years. It keeps my hair super shiny, residue free and manageable. I have tried many shampoo/conditioner combos from both the salon and drugs stores over the years and nothing compares to these products. Best of all, they smell AMAZING. You only need a small amount, a litre lasts me a year and you can always find it at Winners or on sale at salons. I only started using the mask in the last year as I am getting my hair cut a lot less frequently now that I have grown it out. This mask prevents and repairs the split ends that I get from using hot tools.

900d0ca899466079abcd12d09330b9db--tigi-hair-products-head-s.jpg

Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay (find it here)

Don’t let the price or the packaging fool you, this mask is the bomb. I found it after watching Mindy Kaling using it on her instagram page. You mix it with apple cider vinegar, apply it to your face, let it dry and then it wash off. This mask leaves my skin so soft and the jar will likely last me ten years.

Saje Yoga Mat Spray (find it here)

This stuff is antibacterial, smells amazing and is useful for so much more than just your yoga mat. Sure, I spray this stuff on my yoga mat like you are supposed to, but I also spray it in my shoes and in my suitcase after travelling. It is seriously good.

FullSizeRender-3.jpgBath and Body Works Eucalyptus Mint Hand Soap (find it here)

This stuff smells crisp, fresh and clean. I stock up on it when it is on sale and people always comment on how much the love the smell of the soap in my bathroom. What can I say, I am a people pleaser.

815QnPj4hHL._SL1500_

And because wine is the best here are three bottles of big, beautiful reds that I keep coming back to again and again!

Urceus, Primitivo

Primitivo_Di_Manduria_Urceus.jpg

Las Heramanas, Monastrell

grd13890.jpg

Dominio De Heredia,  Rioja

129285

 

 

 

“Amass a collection of things you love..”-M.Briand

A couple of weeks ago, my little home was “featured” on a new Instagram account called Halifax Living Space. The account spotlights the interiors of apartments, houses and homes in general of Haligonians and each feature shows very different interior design concepts and interior design tastes.

Participating in the account got me thinking about how far my little “close-to-retirement-aged-house” has come over the past five years. Buying an older home is not for the faint of heart. Old homes can come with equally old plumbing, plaster walls, small/awkward room sizes and little-to-no storage. They can come with layers of chipping paint, scary basements and windows that are painted shut. On the flip side, older homes can come with the kind of character that is difficult to replicate. Solid wood trim, retro built ins and walls that have witnessed years of love and life.

IMG_7768DSC_0417DSC_0421IMG_7674IMG_7659IMG_7662IMG_7663

When I bought my house, I knew there was a lot of work ahead of me. I knew it needed an oil tank and gallons of paint. I knew the windows needed replacing, the floors needed refinishing and I knew that I would have to pick away at things over the years. I also knew that it would be a process and that there would always be another project waiting in the wings. I realized that new furniture would have to wait, that kitchen reno’s likely wouldn’t happen for a decade and that I was going to have to get creative. What I didn’t realize was how expensive renovations can be and the importance of learning a few handy skills to make your space livable while remaining affordable.

DSC_0445DSC_0460DSC_0455DSC_0457DSC_0433

Over the years I have replaced the roof, the oil tank, exterior doors and thirteen (!!) windows. I have re-painted every surface at least once and many are going on their second or third paint “face-lifts” because paint it cheap and can transform anything quite dramatically. I have had the floors refinished, I have slowly replaced some furniture, upgraded light fixtures and I have thrifted endless amounts of DIY decor. Yet, there is still so much to do!

IMG_6573

My renovation list for the near future includes kitchen flooring , shiplap in the bathroom and a new vanity (but for now my retro one is getting it’s third “paint-lift”). I still have light fixtures to install and more paint for the bathroom walls waiting in my basement for a day where I have a little spare time. Eventually, I would love to tear down the wall between the kitchen and dining room and reimagine the whole thing into a more practical, storage savvy place that makes better use of the small footprint. I just need another five years and some extra shifts at work.

My advice to people who are struggling to find a style, to renovate on a budget or to pair down an existing collection into key pieces would be to amass a collection of things you love. Peices that are authentic to you regardless of style, price or vintage. What will result is a home that reflects you. A home that tells your story!

-m

 

“Espresso is the miracle of chemistry in a cup”- Andrea Illy

If you know anything about me, you know that I love coffee. It is the best part of my day (is that a little sad?), a great coffee shop is the first thing I look for when I travel and I do not discriminate when it comes to the type. Drip, press, espresso, pour-over, they are all a wonderful, aromatic experience to me.

In August I was gifted a Nespresso for my birthday and even though I wanted to test one out for ages, I had my reservations at first. I didn’t love that it uses pods that create unnecessary waste and I doubted that it would make that great of espresso. I kind of assumed it was along the lines of a Keurig (which really doesn’t make great coffee).

DSC_0345.jpg

Boy was I wrong. This little machine is the bee’s knees. The espresso is piping hot with a beautiful, rich crema on top. It is exceptionally flavourful and short of having a Nuova Simoelli machine and cute barista living in my kitchen next to it, the Nespresso can’t be beat. Americanos, lattes, macchiatos and cappuccinos, this little machine has my back and it only takes 25 seconds to heat up! Don’t even get me started on the frother. It makes perfectly frothed, hot milk in 60 seconds (all with just the push of a button)! Both the nespresso and frother have incredibly small footprints which is perfect for my tiny kitchen. The pods are fully recycled by Nespresso and you can get reusable pods for your own ground beans. This little miracle has quickly moved to the very top of my favourite things list and in my opinion, is totally worth every penny. You can find the one I am LOVING here.

Since we are talking coffee, my favourite beans of all time are roasted here in Halifax at Java Blend. I am obsessed with the Thirty Eight Espresso, it is amazing drip and even better by french press. Check them out next time you are in the city or order some here.

…and since we are still talking coffee we may as well discuss my favourite mugs. I am VERY picky. I always test drive mugs before I purchase them because there are few things worse than an uncomfortable mug (right up there with uncomfortable underwear). My very favourite mugs of all time are made on Prince Edward Island. They come from Village Pottery and are works of art. These mugs are so lovely that I tend to give them as wedding gifts. They are hand-made and come in so many shapes and glazes that there is something for everyone. Check out how beautiful they are below. You can find the Village Pottery on Instagram and on their website here.

DSC_0292DSC_0298

“Autumn…the year’s last, loveliest smile.”- W.C. Bryant

I am spending my day off studying, drinking coffee and cleaning up my gardens if the coffee gives me enough energy to do so. My flowers and herbs have all begun to go to seed and I have noticed pumpkins and fall mums inching their way onto the doorsteps and porches of neighbouring homes. The first day of fall is tomorrow and it is my very favourite season.


Last week my mother hosted a couple of her girlfriends for a “wreath making and wine drinking afternoon”. My mom is exceptionally crafty and after looking at what she created (while enjoying wine) I was inspired to make my own fall wreath. Fall wreaths can be a lot. I always scout them out at Home Sense and Michaels but can never find one that I like. Personally, I am into simple wreaths. Wreathes without giant bows, that are small and understated. My door is bright enough and easily crosses the “too much” line so I picked a small grapevine wreath, some eucalyptus and a sprig of white berries at Michaels (all half off). I also grabbed a bag of little acorns and pinecones from the dollar store (I should have bought a couple bags because they are really cute!). Using some wire cutters and my hot glue gun I simply arranged my decorations where I wanted them and glued them down. That was it. So simple and cost less than $15 dollars including the glue!
DSC_0311DSC_0301DSC_0320

If you have never whipped up your own wreath, they are exceptionally easy. Pick a wreath, grapevines are really easy to work with and super inexpensive. Pick up some flowers, berries, bells, sparkly springs or whatever you love that suits your season. Snip them, arrange them and glue them (hot glue gun works very well). That is it! You can add bows and ribbons, you can use sea shells from the beach, star fish, dried flowers and even pom-poms. Many of the decorations can be bought at the dollar store. It makes for an inexpensive project that anyone can do. One that is best enjoyed with a group of friends and a splash of wine.

-m

 

“If eating cake is wrong, I don’t want to be right.”- Lorelai Gilmore

It is hard to beat a really good cake. Whether you are celebrating a milestone such as a birthday or you are just having a no-good-very-bad-day,  a slice of really delicious cake has the ability to make your bad day a little less awful and can take a celebration and elevate it to a party. Cakes have been used in this manner for centuries and as the science behind baking improved as well as the availability of baking ingredients, they went from what was basically sweetened bread to the cakes we know today.  Initially used in religious ceremonies dating back to ancient Egypt, cakes really began to be prominent fixture at many celebrations over the past 300 years. Now a days, it seems we look for almost any excuse for a cake. Getting your braces off? Better pick up a cake! Your best friend’s divorce is finalized? Perfect opportunity to bake a cake! The dog finally peed outside consistently? A cake only makes sense!

DSC_0250

Anyway I am not here to discuss the history of cakes (although it is seemingly extensive), I am here to talk about how easy baking a cake can be. People are intimidated by cakes but honestly, it is easier than putting together Ikea furniture. You just have to have a decent recipe, you have to follow it correctly and it helps to use fresh, quality ingredients. If your baking powder is ancient, your cake may not rise. If your cocoa powder is old and of poor quality, your cake may not be quite as rich as you hoped. In all honesty, the hardest part of baking a cake is frosting it. Making the frosting is easy, but getting it on there and to look like you didn’t apply it with your hands while wearing old woollen mittens is the most difficult part. Luckily, rustic is in these days when it comes to baked goods and everyone loves a sheet cake with a thick layer of frosting slapped on haphazardly. It is hard to screw up something made with sugar, butter and eggs. Even if it looks like it was baked by a three year old while they were blindfolded, it will taste good and when it comes to cake, taste is ultimately what matters.

DSC_0253

DSC_0240DSC_0246.jpg

I am going to share a basically fool proof chocolate cake recipe that uses the addition of sour cream and espresso powder to help create a moist and tender cake with an elevated degree of chocolatey goodness. I am also going to share a recipe for swiss meringue butter cream. Yes, it sounds a little scary and most definitely a little intimidating but if you have a hand mixer or stand mixer, you can’t screw it up. It’s light, not too sweet and this frosting holds its shape/height beautifully. Even when un-fridgerated for long periods of time, even in the summer. It is one of the best frostings I have ever made and I keep coming back to it again and again. It is the only frosting I truly trust for big events such as weddings! When you add espresso powder and good quality vanilla, you may have the best frosting in the world.

Happy baking all. Have faith in yourself, the science of baking and your oven. You will likely wish you baked a cake sooner and you may even start looking for excuses to bake one again and again.

-m

IMG_7055

Very Chocolatey, Chocolate Cake (adapted from Baking A Moment )

You will need:

  • 1.5 c white sugar
  • 1 c all purpose flour
  • 1/2 c of cake flour (or all purpose if you don’t have cake)
  • 1c unsweetened cocoa powder (Costco has some great high quality cocoa)
  • 2 Tbs of espresso powder
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1c softened butter, cut into cubes
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1c sour cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Preheat your oven to 325. Butter and flour three 8 inch cake pans (you can use a sheet pan likely, just adjust baking time accordingly) and line bottom with parchment paper.

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and mix with a whisk to incorporate them and to get rid of the lumps! Add butter and mix on low until butter and dry ingredients are the texture of damp sand. Add eggs one at a time and once they are fully incorporated add the sour cream and vanilla. Beat on med speed for 2 minutes and then divide batter between pans. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely, then frost or glaze as desired!

Swiss Meringue Butter Cream

The recipe I love best (and I have tried several) is adapted from Martha Stewart. Find it here. Tips….

  • Don’t get any yolks in the egg whites, they will never form stiff peaks if you do…
  • Use beaters- hand held or stand mixer. I think this would almost be impossible by hand unless you are a professional arm wrestler.
  • Make sure your butter is room temperature.
  • If it looks like it is curdling when you add the butter just keep going. It will come together I promise.
  • If you want to make it espresso flavoured, add 2 TBS of espresso powder (not instant coffee) when you add the vanilla. I always use this one when I bake.