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Le Moulin De Provence

Another day, another cafe.
It’s over 10 degrees celsius here in Ottawa so you know what that means:
It’s summer-time bois!

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I dared myself to get out more this summer instead of just marinating in my bed all day. I do web development, SEO work and a bit of freelance writing to pay the bills, thus, all I need is a computer to get shit done. Because of this predicament, there really isn’t anything stopping me from just staying indoors all the time and working from home.

Going out for coffee at a cute cafe and knowing I will be able to snap a few dope pics for the ‘gram or for the blog is certainly an effective motivator to get me to actually go outside like a normal human being.

Le Moulin De Provence

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Managed to snap a cheeky pic of a small part of the cafe while no one was around! I really dig the sleek black-on-white aesthetic.

One of my favourite cafes in Ottawa is called: Le Moulin De Provence. They have a spot in the Byward market, but the location that I always go to is on Metcalfe and Queen. It’s quite a ways away from where I live but the walk down Metcalfe is a pretty nice and relaxing one.

Le Moulin De Provence is a cute and contemporary cafe and eatery that offers French baked goods, sandwiches and desserts!

I’ve been making some bomb-ass (*Italian hand gestures*) SPAGET lately and I’ve been loving getting some baguettes here to go with it!

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Lots of space to study or chill

The interior design is really chic and the venue is really open and welcoming. The floor-to-ceiling windows and high ceilings really brighten the space up and the black on white with splashes of red and the occasional wood decor elements really give off those contemporary VIBES.

All in all, it’s a really nice space to work in, and because there are so many tables and so much space there is always a place to sit.

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Wow. Aesthetic

I’ve been going here for a while now, and likewise, I’ve gotten a chance to try a lot of things from their menu. Despite having tried out a lot of their really tasty desserts, I know I have only but sampled a FRACTION of what they have to offer seeing as their menu and selection is so vast. A few of my favourites are:

  • Their butter tarts (OOF)
  • THE. ALMOND. CROISSANT. OMG
  • Their mille feuille is pretty spot on
  • The Croque Monsieur
    (grilled ham & cheese sandwich with cheese on top as shown in the pics below)
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Une Corque Monsieur! Oui oui tres délicieux!

As someone that has been blessed with the opportunity to have spent some time living in France and indulging in delicious breads and sweet treats from a multitude of French patisseries and boulangeries, I can attest to the authenticity and deliciousness of La Moulin De Provence’s baked goods!

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Iced coffee & an almond croissant!

The coffee here is also super tasty. They use Happy Goat Coffee Company‘s small-batch roasted coffee beans, so if you’re an Ottawa local you’ll definitely recognize that brand! Gotta love places that support local businesses!

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Tried an affogato for the first time! It tasted really lovely and sweet with the ice cream in it but the bitterness of the pure espresso sent CHILLS down my spine and I literally shuddered in public and looked like a complete idiot pls help.

I also tried an affogato here for the first time recently and OMG I’ve been missing out! For those of you that don’t know, an affogato is basically a shot of espresso with a scoop of ice cream in it. I think I’m going to start making these at home now! ;p

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Cheers mate

If you ever check this place out I HIGHLY recommend the almond croissant – it is so incredibly tasty! Even if you aren’t from here and if you’ve never had one – change that real quick sis!

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If you check the place out – GET. THE. ALMOND. CROISSANT.

Super great place. Super rad space. If you are in the area, be sure to check the place out – treat yourself with some macaroons or grab a coffee and stay a while!

La Moulin De Provence is really quite out of the way from a lot of residential areas as it is situated right by Parliament Hill and the business sector of downtown Ottawa, but it’s still personally worth the hike for me!

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*moans*

Socials:

Website: http://moulindeprovencekd.ca/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/le_moulin_de_provence_kd/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lemoulindeprovencekd/

 

Things I Tried In…May

Allow me to beat you to the punch: “May”?? Girl, you best be accumulating your list of products for JUNE‘s “Things I’ve Tried” post given the DATE and TIME of this post.

I know, I know, please forgive me ;p

In my defense, I’ve been fairly busy these past few weeks. I’ve been looking for a new apartment and if you have ever gone through that process before you might know just how gruelling that can be, especially if you are looking for a place in a city like Ottawa, where listings come and go quicker than the time it takes me to finish a Venti iced coffee with milk. Plus, I’ve also spent the last few days watching E3 coverage all day ;p

Alas, I’ve finally secured myself a place to move in a couple months, and E3 is dying down, so now that I don’t have to fret about that too much, I can get back to posting on schedule again!

This month I tried out a few products all across the makeup and skincare spectrum, and as always, I’ve compiled some of my thoughts about them below!

For the full, in-depth review of some products I’ve tried in May, click below:

VICHY NORMADERM Hydrating Aquagel

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Vichy Normaderm Ant

I remember when I lived in the countryside of France for a month in the 11th grade, I’d occasionally pop into the local “pharmacie” (where they sold all their drug-store brand skincare, since the nearest Sephora was 2 hours away by bullet-train) to pick up shit for my horrific acne at the time. I remember always going into the pharmacie with high hopes that perhaps THIS time, the random fancy-lookin’ french product that I would buy would actually have a substantial effect on my embarrassing acne outbreak (turns out all that french fromage I was eating really did me dirty and absolutely destroyed my complexion). But every time, I’d always end up 30 euros poorer with a product that did fuck-all for my skin. Yet I’d always go back and try again with another product to no avail. It was like I had an impulse to simply forget all of the misfortune that these skincare products were bringing me because I was so desperate to just find a cure for my breakouts (turns out, the cure resided in the fact that I was eating too much cheese. Figures).

Why do I bother sharing this tale? Because I feel like even though I am not in France anymore and the local Sephora is just a 10-minute bus-ride away, I STILL occasionally relapse and buy the same kinds of French skincare products that they sold in France at Shoppers Drugmart. The fact that a lot of my favourite influencers rave about these products endlessly certainly doesn’t help my case.

But all of the expensive French products that I’ve bought from Shoppers Drugmart have been absolutely disappointing (except the “Kloraine” dry shampoo – I swear by that product, but then again, it’s not supposed to be for your skin ;p ).

This anti-acne gel from Vichy is no exception. I bought it a while back when my acne was flaring up a bit but didn’t really start using it until recently. And I have to say, it has done absolutely NOTHING for my acne. If anything, I’ve noticed that when I use this product over-night, my acne doesn’t repair and diminish itself as nicely as it does when I DON’T use this product. HMMMMMmmmm……

It leaves a sticky residue on my face that doesn’t ever really dry up. It makes me cringe whenever I go to sleep with this treatment on because of how it sticks to my pillows and how horribly shiny my face looks. It doesn’t work very nicely under makeup either.

Of course, everyone’s skin is different, but MAN I’ve just has such awful luck with brands like “Vichy” and “Avene”. I feel like French skincare is just not optimal for people with oily and incredibly acne-prone skin like myself I suppose…No matter how much I WANT these products to work for me, they never do.

The Face Shop Jeju Volcanic Lava Pore Scrub Foam

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The Face Shop Jeju Volcanic Lava Cleanser

I’ve actually used this product before, and re-purchased it because it worked nicely and it was fairly inexpensive. I switch up my cleansing routine fairly regularly because I find that works best with my skin. By “switching-up”, I don’t mean buying a new cleanser every second Monday, but rather cycling through a variety of tried and true cleansers that I know work well for me in a manner that best addresses my current skincare needs.

So for example, my skin was looking pretty dull recently, so I reached out for this cleanser that I hadn’t used for a while for its exfoliating properties. There are a bunch of tiny little particles in this wash that gently exfoliate your skin. In terms of cleansing, this doesn’t do a good job with makeup removal, but rather it just gives your skin a nice thorough clean. One of my biggest problems with it, however, is the fact that after washing your face with water, your skin feels really sticky and not very lubricated. Ugh, I know, I cringed too, but hear me out.

After rinsing this off, when you massage your wet palms into your face to remove all of the residues, it feels as if your hands are dragging across your face in a very rough manner because the skin on your face isn’t holding onto the moisture of the water very well. This not only makes for a very unpleasant feeling, but I can’t imagine your hands dragging that hard against your skin to be a particularly good idea for people with sensitive or acne-prone skin like myself. For that reason, it’s best that this face wash is used in the shower because that way your hands will also be cleaner than they would be if you just gave your face a quick wash in the sink, and the water from the showerhead can rinse off all of the soapy residue – so no hands are needed!

It is a great exfoliator though! It lathers up nicely and it isn’t too rough of a formulation for my skin either which is a plus! As always, I will use this every one in a while when my skin is looking and feeling dull.

Miniso Pomegranate Face Mask

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A random Japanese face mask

I swiped this from the Miniso (a Japanese dollar store kinda thing) when I visited my parents after I finished my exams a while back. Not going to lie, the random “CLEAN & VITALITY” motif kinda sketched me out, as with the “mask sheet” instead of “sheet mask”, but I played it up to the fact that the slogans and marketing for some Asian products just get lost in translation sometimes ;p

All in all, it was a decent sheet mask I suppose. It smelled nice, and it felt soothing on the skin. Did it cure my acne, my social anxiety and my addiction to caffeine? No. Did it contribute to my overall skincare health and reinforce my efforts to keep my acne at bay? Perhaps. It’s always hard to tell with these sheet masks since they are a one-use deal. Seeing as it was like, less than 2 dollars, I would still likely buy this again!

Anastasia Beverly Hills Liquid Lipstick in “Craft”

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Anastasia Beverly Hills Liquid Lipstick in “Craft”

I’ve always been a big fan of deep purple/red hues for my lips. Admittedly, they aren’t the most “en trend” shade, nor does it happen to correspond with a lot of my clothes, but for some reason, I always gravitate towards this lipstick shade. Even when I think I’ve found a nice colour of lipstick that ISN’T this shade, I’ll return home from Sephora and then realize that it looks exactly like all the other lip products I already own :’) Whoops

Anyways, I’ve never actually used a lip product from ABH before, so I was pretty hyped to try this out. Previous to this, my favourite liquid lipstick line was from Kat Von D, but despite those lipsticks staying on my lips ALL DAY, they also dried my lips up like crazy. Granted, I don’t wear lipstick often, but when I do, I wear Kat Von D lipsticks. In the past two years of wearing almost exclusively Kat Von D, I’ve gotten 5 or 6 serious sores right on the inside of my lips. Like, crazy painful ones that blister up and get huge and look like white sponges of absolute nastiness. They are awful, and I do blame the fact that these lipsticks just dry the LIFE out of my lips, even when I make sure to hydrate throughout the day. It’s honestly too bad because I LOVE their colour selection and they stay on all day.

Well, lo and behold, I think Kat Von D’s wig has been SNATCHED from ABH. I was surprised by how creamy the formulation was, and how smoothly it applied. The formulation is incredibly pigmented and the colour is very radiant and beautiful. My only qualm with this liquid lipstick is that it doesn’t have the longevity of Kat Von D’s lipsticks, but at the very least it has not completely obliterated my lip, so that’s a loss I’m willing to take if it means I don’t get any more of those godawful sores. Plus, it just feels a lot lighter on my lips, and it doesn’t feel crusty at all the way some more intense lip products may feel. I would highly recommend this line of lip products, and I am definitely going to be purchasing more!

Black OPI Nailpolish (Never Have Too Mani Friends)

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OPI Nail Polish in “Never Have Too Mani Friends”

Ok but how cute is the hello kitty motif? I grabbed this at a “Winners” a while back and I really used it a lot in May. OPI is my favourite nail polish brand because of how quick the formulation dries, and how pigmented their shades are. I only wish they had the shade selection that Essie has, and then it would be a dream product.

I don’t have much else to say besides the fact that I’ve been rocking some basic black nail polish on the days when I feel extra edgY ;p It’s a solid polish, and since I bought it from Winners it was like 6 dollars tops.

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That’s all for May, I suppose you will hear from me soon enough to showcase my “Thing’s I’ve tried in June” 😉 Hope you all have been staying cool and hydrated during these nasty, humid Summer days ahaha.

 

Equator Coffee at the NAC

You already know that I like to go out to cafes to do my freelance work whenever I can instead of the alternative: staying at home all day in bed on my computer like the subjects of the “relatable” student-life-has-given-me-crippling-depression-pls-help memes.

Today on the menu: A super rad cafe in an art center near parliament!

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Equator Coffee at the NAC

A really neat place that has been nice to work at has been the National Art Centre (NAC) of Ottawa. Shoutout to the Ottawa Instagram bloggers that I follow that have posted pics in this place because I had no idea that the NAC was such a spacious building with plenty of beautiful and modern areas to lounge and work in!

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I wish I grabbed a seat over there. The views were way more urban and city-scape like, which would have been rad to grab a pic of for the ‘gram. Instead, I was facing the park and the “Canadian Tomb of the Unknown Soldier” area, where some random disheveled looking man stared me down for a solid 20 minutes through the window.

The NAC also recently opened up an Equator Coffee cafe, which I found out through this Narcity article. Check it out for yourself to see how gorgeous the views of the city and parliament are from the coffee shop alone!

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Cool coffee cup, except I don’t know why these cafes keep giving me to-go cups like boi do you see the laptop in my bag? I’m not carrying this hunk of plastic around for shits and giggles mate pls, I intend to sticking around for a bit aight?

I didn’t take too many shots of the outside views simply because it *flips hair* didn’t really fit with my A E S T H E T I C, but I did take some pics of the inside of the cafe space (of course).

I know that Equator Coffee has a few shops around Ottawa (one in Westboro and one in Almonte), but I’ve never actually gotten a chance to check them out simply because they are quite a ways away from where I live.

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Cool (coffee) beans

Equator Coffee Roasters is a local roastery based in Ottawa that has been roasting and delivering coffee every week. Of all the local coffees that I’ve tried, I would say that Equator coffee ranks highly on the list.

I’ll definitely be sure to do a complete ranking or at least a compilation of my absolute favourite cafes around Ottawa in the coming months. But first, I need more data! 😉

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nception

While the pics of this cafe suggests that it was relatively quiet, it was actually incredibly busy when I first arrived and for a majority of the time that I was there.

The cafe is definitely not the quietest spot in the NAC to study or work, but I don’t personally mind the ambiance when I’m doing procedural coding tasks. If I was doing something that required a little more thinking, like writing (oooo sicc burn to all those programmers out there that hate liberal arts majors ;p) I would probably move to a quieter spot, and fortunately, there are plenty to pick!

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Up close and personal

If you are in the area or you fancy a walk down Elgin or through Downtown Ottawa to find a nice place to work that has all of life’s absolutely vital amenities (i.e washrooms, AC, food, and coffee) then I’d recommend checking out the Equator Coffee Roasters cafe in the NAC!

At the very least I’m POSITIVE you will find some dope Instagram pic opportunities ;p

 

I Spray-Painted My Nails | Milk Makeup Spray Nail Polish Review

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When I was home for a bit after exams, my friends and I made a quick stop at the Marshalls’ in the mall to see if we could find anything of particular interest. Lo and behold, I found a couple Milk Makeup products that caught my eye (I’ll be doing a Milk Makeup Haul & Review later), one of which was a nail polish in the form of a spray paint.

Yeah, even the lady at the counter gave me a weird look and questioned my mental integrity. Ok, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but, honestly, she may as well have.

Her: [looks at the nail spray, points, and judges me judily] Does that thing really work?

Me: I have no idea [awkward laugh] It looks kinda gimmicky, but I thought hey, why not? 

Milk Makeup Spray Nail + Nail Stencil

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Milk Makeup Spray Nail Polish

Long story short – I kind of expected these results, and I also kinda didn’t. Wow, how helpful, so informative, best blogger 2018.

The directions (as inscribed on the back of the package) read as follows:

  • Apply base coat to clean, dry nails and let dry for 5 minutes
  • Shake can well and hold vertically 8 inches from hand
  • Spray evenly across all fingertips in a sweeping motion, coating nails and surrounding area
  • Repeat for more coverage if needed.
  • Allow nails to dry for 2 minutes, then apply top coat
  • Allow finished manicure to dry for 5 minutes
  • Wash hands with soap and warm water to remove excess polish from skin
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The package came with a nifty little stencil. I’d imagine this would be cool to use if you were going to spray this stuff over an existing manicure.

The directions were easy enough to follow. Since I couldn’t find my usual top coat, and couldn’t be arsed to go and look for it, I settled for using this Millionails “nail treatment” by Essie, which I’m sure serves as a suitable substitute.

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I used this millionails treatment by Essie for my bottom coat, and a china glaze no chip top coat

Sure enough, I waited 5 minutes and then walked over to my sink where I would be performing… the procedure. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

I SHOOK the can well and ngl, I felt kinda like a badass to hear that satisfying, iconic spray can rattle, only instead of tagging a wall, I was spraying my crusty ass nails :’). I held the can about 8 inches (give or take) away from my fingers and then pressed down on the nozzle.

I tried to do what was advised in the instructions and spray in a “sweeping motion”, but the second I squeezed the nozzle and the silver spray shot out I was too shook to remember what the fuck I was supposed to be doing. The spray went EVERYWHERE, and it felt extremely cold on my fingers (and not in a good or refreshing way, but a CHEMICALLY WRONG, ALERT ALERT THIS IS A MISTAKE way).

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Crusty

I really didn’t like the sensation at all, but I buckled down and sprayed the rest of my nails to make sure I had a nice even coat on all of them.

It also left a mess in my sink. I quickly tried to scrub away at the silver crust that was left in the basin with warm water and soap but I didn’t manage to grab all of it. Good thing I bought some nail polish remover the other day; I didn’t think I’d have to end up using it to rid my sink of sparkly silver polish :’)

Next time, I will definitely place my hands on a disposable piece of paper or parchment or something before spraying this again. Or, you know, fully commit to it and just spray-paint my entire sink silver while I’m at it.

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Rip my sink

As instructed, I waited for about two minutes, and then applied my favourite China Glaze top coat to my nails. The instructions say that after five minutes you should wash your hands, but after five minutes had passed I lightly tapped my nails to see if they had dried and they still felt pretty tacky, so I actually waited for another 2 minutes.

Finally, after my nails were feeling dry, I went to wash my hands. I will say, there is no need to be ginger and cautious when washing the excess polish from your skin – I did so at first before quickly realizing that the polish on my nails was solid and not going anywhere. In fact, in order to remove most of the excess polish, I had to scrub my hands pretty rigorously.

I scrubbed at my hands in very much the same manner as the time I washed my hands AFTER I was made to clean the employee’s toilet that hadn’t been properly cleaned in 3 years at my old workplace: vigorously, and for a solid 10 minutes.

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Not bad, not bad. Honestly, about the same quality manicure as if I were to hand-paint my nails :’)

Alas, even after all that scrubbing, I didn’t manage to grab all of the excess polish; there are still a few slivers around the edges of my nails, but it more or less looks pretty great.

Update: after I showered, there are even less pieces of nail polish on my skin, and the manicure looks even more solid than it did before.

Honestly, I’m pretty impressed with this product. Despite the quirky method of application and the mess it made in my sink, it’s a pretty solid nail polish.

While I’m not a big fan of the feeling that the spray left on my fingers, the product itself actually dried up really quickly. One of the biggest problems that I have with nail polish is the wait-time because I really don’t have a half hour or more to spare for my nails to dry.

I’ve ruined my manicure too many times to count simply because I hadn’t waited long enough for the polish to dry, or I painted my nails with too thick of a coat. This spray application not only dramatically minimized the weight time, but the formulation seems strong and durable.

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I grabbed this at Marshalls for a discounted price of $7.99 (the regular price is around $12 CAD).  Even at the non-discounted price, I may actually buy this kind of product again. Silver isn’t exactly my go-to shade, but if I ever see a cute spray-on nail polish colour from Milk Makeup, or any other brand for that matter, I don’t think I’ll necessarily rule it out on account of the quirky format that it comes in.

Have you ever tried a kind of spray-on nail polish? Do you have a preferred brand, or do you know of a brand that dries super quickly so I don’t keep ruining my manicures? :’)

I recall that Sally Hansen had (has?) a kind of “super dry” nail polish line or something, but the colour selection never impressed me and the polish itself always seemed to flake off my nails after just a day. I love me some OPI and Essie, don’t get me wrong, but I really need to get my hands on something that is fast-drying and DOESN’T ruin my sink ≧◡≦

 

 

Mario Badescu SkinCare Review

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Mario Badescu Skincare Favourites

I was in Anthropologie the day after I got paid (I know, bold move) and surprisingly enough I didn’t buy absolutely everything that I laid my eyes on. I did, however, grab a couple skincare related goodies to try to get a head start on keeping my skin under control before the summer weather challenges its integrity.

I grabbed this nifty little Mario Badescu Skincare Favourites box called “Best of Badescu“, that contains four of the brands’ best sellers and fan favourites. I’ve had my eye on a few of the products so I figured I may as well grab them in a value box and give them a try.

 

Mario Badescu Drying Lotion

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Mario Badescu Drying Lotion – A gift to humanity. Pro tip: DO NOT shake this. The solution is supposed to be suspended like this.

Let’s start off with the star player. I’ve been hearing about this drying lotion for ages now. It’s won plenty of notable beauty awards for its alleged ability to “dry up pesky pimples overnight”.

I’ve actually used this kind of odd, “suspension” product before, where you dip a q-tip into the bottle to scrape up some of the pinky, clay-like substance at the bottom and then apply it to your acne. Consequently, I’ve actually never had much luck with this kind of product. I’d just smear the clay on my spots the night before only to find them to be the exact same shape and size the morning after.

With all that being said, I expected the same kind of results with this product, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that this wasn’t the case! I use this product once a day (when I go out) and twice whenever I stay to work at home, and I must say, it really does get rid of your pimples substantially in about 24 hours. There is often still a small little mark left afterward where the pimple used to be, but the bump that had been there previously is most certainly deflated. I would 100% definitely repurchase this item – I feel like it will earn a permanent spot in my anti-acne regime.

This drying lotion contains Salicylic Acid, Sulfur, and Calamine (all great anti-acne agents) and is recommended for all skin types! I only worry that I’m going to use this RIGHT up as I use up a LOT of it every time thanks to the abundance of spots on my face. I feel like there is a meme for that.

 

Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs, and Rosewater

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Mario Badescu Facial Spray – a pretty decent product altogether. I like that there is a lot of product in here that can last quite a while

At this rate, it won’t be long until I have more facial sprays than I do perfumes :’)

This product smells and feels amazing on my skin, just like the other spray toners that I’ve been trying. Likewise, I don’t notice any particularly notable differences in my skin when I use this, other than the fact that my skin hasn’t succumbed to dryness and it still feels pretty nice despite all of the drying products I use on it to tackle my acne… so…maybe this toner (like all the others) is to thank for that? Who knows mate. Either way, it’s a fun item to use and incorporate into my skincare routine (and I’m a fan of the ingredient), but I won’t necessarily go out of my way to re-purchase this.

 

Mario Badescu Seaweed Night Cream

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Mario Badescu Seaweed Night Cream – this stuff feels incredibly bizarre, but surprisingly it isn’t very sticky at all, and it is very moisturizing!

Don’t let the janky appearance throw you off. This stuff looks and feels pretty odd; I don’t think I’ve ever used a moisturizer with such an odd consistency. Nevertheless, it actually feels pretty luxurious on the skin.

MarioBadescuMoisturizer

The consistency is sticky to the touch, but it melts seamlessly into your skin when you apply it and doesn’t leave any kind of sticky residue whatsoever. Unlike other heavily-moisturizing lotions, this doesn’t feel like it’s clogging my pores, and I haven’t noticed an increase in acne from using it. I’m not sure if I would repurchase this just because I haven’t had particularly noteworthy results from its use, but I will definitely enjoy using this up.

 

Mario Badescu Enzyme Cleansing Gel

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Long story short. This shit sucks. Well like, it sucked for me, it may be a completely different story for you ;p

I feel very torn over this product. Part of me really loves how it smells and how it leaves my skin feeling AFTER I use it, but part of me absolutely hates how it feels like WHEN I use it. Even when I apply a generous portion of this on my hand and rub it on my face as I’m washing it, this product doesn’t foam up at all. I feel like it melts with the water and just disappears without it really getting into my skin and working its cleansing magic.

A few moments after I wash my face with this, my skin tingles and feels very cool and clean, creating this illusion that I’ve actually washed my face well. BUT, after a few days of exclusively using this gel, I noticed a considerable amount of acne and clogged pores on my skin. And I’m not talking about my regular hormone-induced cysts, but rather acne with giant whiteheads and blackheads and dirty looking pores that typically result from a poor hygienic routine. Turns out – the gel was barely doing anything to clean my skin at all, which is just so incredibly bizarre.

I’m guessing that given the fact that this cleansing gel is marketed for “all” skin types, that it just isn’t ideal for my particular skin concern. I need something creamy that lathers up well or something with exfoliating beads that can thoroughly cleanse my oily skin, not some light lotion that disappears instantly in water and leaves me dragging my bare hands across my face. This product certainly isn’t for me so I won’t be repurchasing it or anything else like it. If you have fairly decent skin, however, this may be right up your alley as it does feel very refreshing and it does leave a nice scent on your skin afterward.

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For 50 some dollars, this value deal is an absolute steal. I’m glad I was able to try out four different products from Mario Badescu, and I think that I will certainly continue to explore the brand. Next time I make a purchase, however, I’m going to try out more of their anti-acne products, and not just their “all skin types” ones.

Have you ever tried anything from Mario Badescu? If so, what? I’d love to hear so that I can have some suggestions before I buy something from them again! ^_^

Acne Hacks | Get Rid of Acne on a Budget

AcneHacks

So, there isn’t going to be a “Things I’ve Tried In….” post this month (I know, Wow, I broke the streak already) simply because I didn’t really get a chance to do any shopping these past few weeks in light of exam season. Please forgib.

However, I thought I’d do something different and stray away from my usual blog format to instead share a little compilation of cosmetic & beauty related tips and tricks. Hey, maybe I’ll even make this a lil’ segment on the blog who knows.

That being said, I thought I’d share some cheap and budget-friendly ways to get rid of acne. Disclaimer: I am NOT a dermatologist (ya girl could barely get a passing grade in o-chem sis), so do be sure to understand that these are well-known tricks that have happened to work for me, so take my advice with a grain of salt.

Everyone has different skin types and skin concerns, so do keep this in mind while reading my tips for getting rid of acne. I can attest to the effectiveness of all of these, as these are things that I’ve been doing that have truly helped control my acne and keep my skin smooth and healthy-looking. While my skin isn’t quite at a point where it is acne-free, I know for a fact that these tricks have ALWAYS helped calm my breakouts.

Also, seeing as I’ve dealt with acne for a big chunk of my life (since I was a pre-teen), I’ve done an extensive amount of research on all the causes and remedies for acne throughout the years. I’ve incorporated my vast knowledge (lmao) on the subject into a couple of the points below, so if you are wondering where I am getting all of this info from, don’t worry, I’m not pulling this all out of my ass, I’ve learned these things from countless videos, testimonials, stories, and personal experiences.

Hopefully, I can pass on my wisdom and teach you a thing or two and maybe even help you out by giving you a few pointers on things that have been proven to help with acne, and that have really helped me throughout this tumultuous skincare journey!

 

5 TIPS ON HOW TO GET RID OF ACNE ON A BUDGET

1) Drink Water
Price: Free

Yes, you are going to have to pee a lot but it’s worth it

stayhydrated
listen to papa franku

Y’all have no excuse for this one. If you are reading this, you are more than likely from a developed country with running water so PLEASE take advantage of your situation and #stayhydrated.

Aside from the countless (and obvious) health benefits that drinking enough water provides, there is also a clear correlation between how much water you drink and how nice your skin looks. While staying hydrated isn’t a cure-all for acne or a guarantor for nice skin, drinking plenty of water can certainly keep your skin moisturized and reduce the frequency of the formation of acne for people with oily skin.

To speak in layman’s terms, my general understanding is that if you don’t drink enough water, toxins in your body will not be properly flushed out by your kidneys and liver. These toxins can get trapped within your skin without proper hydration and result in acne.

Furthermore, drinking lots of water moisturizes your skin and subsequently helps combat the production of oil. The less oil your skin produces, the lesser your chances of getting a clogged pore and therefore, a pimple.

So if you are a poor university student like me, or are on a tight budget and can’t afford to buy no 80 dollar Glamglow glitter mask like Ansel Elgort then I highly recommend this vegan, gluten-free, all-natural non-gmo alternative ;p

glamglowmask
Looking good

If you are stubborn like me and can’t be bothered to crack down and regulate your water intake – make the process more exciting and efficient! Carry around a dope waterbottle that can act as an accessory and be brought with you anywhere so you can stay hydrated wherever you go. Make a refreshing cucumber-water or lemon/lime-water concoction and live your best life. Heck, buy the damn fiji water or “boxed water” and take a pic of it for the ‘gram and then DRINK IT if that’s what it takes.

When I started to pay more attention to my water intake and make greater efforts to make sure I carried my water bottle around, I noticed a DRAMATIC difference in the quality of my skin and the frequency of my acne.

I am reminded of this every year when the scorching hot heat typical of an Ottawa summer practically forces me to drink gallons of water just to cool off. Every summer when the temperature hits record highs my skin ALWAYS looks amazing just because of all of the water that I drink during this time. Now if only I could be that diligent all year long :’)

 

2) DON’T Touch Your Face
Price: Also Free

Don’t do it

GetRidOfAcne
While my skin is NO WHERE near clear, this is fortunately about as bad as it gets, which is SIGNIFICANTLY clearer than how it looked for most of my adolesence.

What was the nastiest thing you ever grabbed with your hands?

On second thought, don’t answer that.

Point being, our hands naturally come into contact with a lot of surfaces that aren’t always the cleanest. From oily phone screens to the doors of dank toilet stalls – it isn’t uncommon for us to touch a multitude of dirty objects and surfaces throughout the day.

I don’t think it’ll take much convincing on my part to tell you that you really don’t want all of the germs and oils that are on your fingers from touching said things to be transferred to your skin. That hardly ever ends well.

Moreover, try to make a conscious effort to not lean on your hand in class or pick at your skin with dirty, unwashed hands to minimize the frequency of anything coming in contact with your skin. To learn more and understand more of the science behind this, check out this informative but understandable Huffington post article on the matter.

 

3) Keep your hair out of your face
Price: The cost of a headband and a ponytail

ponytailThis tip fits well with the last one. You just generally don’t want ANYTHING touching your skin as the oil and dirt from said surfaces can really irritate your skin and clog your pores.

If you are like me and you require an arsenal of hair products to defrizz and style your hair, then keep in mind that all of that hair product really shouldn’t be anywhere near your skin if you can help it.

When you are out, try not to wear your hair in a way that presses against your skin. I know I always have to keep this in mind whenever I wear a scarf that my hair can get caught in, or a jacket with a collar that presses my hair into my skin (another tip: keep those things clean by washing them regularly).

When you feel like calling it a night and have taken all of your makeup off and/or are ready to hit the hay, do yourself a solid and keep your hair back and out of your face so that no residual oils and products transfer onto your skin while you sleep and your skin regenerates and replenishes itself. A cute headband from anthropology and my favourite scrunchie gets the job done.

Granted, I look pretty silly with my bangs pushed up and my hair slicked back and away from my face, but that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make if it means my skin stays clear. Priorities ladies, priorities.

 

4) ALOE f**ing VERA
Price: Get it cheap at your local grocery store.
Don’t pay more than $20 dollars

The nectar of the gods

AloeVeraForAcne
Aloe Vera is literally the cure for all of life’s ailments

If you can only afford to purchase one anti-acne product (besides face wash, of course, that is the MOST important thing), then I highly recommend that you grab a bottle of aloe vera. Depending on how much you want to use or have laying around at a time, you can certainly buy a bottle for less than 10 dollars at Walmart or wholefoods (I recommend the lily of the desert brand since it’s 100 percent pure aloe vera with no other additives).

I recommend slathering on a thick layer of aloe vera all over your face at least half an hour before you plan to sleep so that it has a chance to dry on your skin.

I prefer using aloe vera (and aloe-vera-based products) over all other products simply because of the effects that it has on skin in general. Aloe vera isn’t going to dry your skin up and get rid of a pimple overnight, but it WILL drastically reduce swelling and redness all the while providing ample moisture to your skin.

Sometimes, beating the shit out of your acne (and likewise, skin) isn’t always the answer. Attacking your acne with super-drying products may prove to be effective in the short run by making your acne crust off and disappear quickly (gross, I know, I’m sorry), but in the long run, you could be dealing with dry skin, hyperpigmentation, dark spots and uneven skin tone issues with prolonged usage.

What’s the point of eradicating one skin problem if the process is going to provoke another? Aloe vera is a very safe way to tackle your acne problems while keeping your skin looking and feeling great! I can’t recommend it enough.

#notspons (wish it was thooo)

 

5) Stay away from greasy foods
Price: Your happiness and well-being

rip

HeadQuarters Cafe Ottawa
If your skin is like mine in the sense that it tends to react to the kinds of foods that you eat, y’all best lay off that fried shit

The whole “does food have an impact on your skin” debate has been contemplated for ages, and from my understanding, the overwhelming conclusion is simply: we don’t really know.

While there is research that both supports and debunks this age-old myth, I personally have found that food DOES have an impact on my skin. In particular, I’ve found that whenever I consume a lot of dairy products or starchy and fried foods my acne always flares up.

I really took note of this when I spent a month in France and pretty much ONLY ate le fromage and le cheesy pasta the entire time I was there. My acne was the WORST it had ever been there – I had huge cysts and a horrific skin texture because of how severe my breakout was.

Likewise, whenever I make an effort to eat healthier and avoid dairy, my skin thanks me by behaving. But again, that’s just me – it could be a completely different story for yall.

 

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That’s all for now. Maybe you learned something. Maybe you didn’t. But hey, if you are struggling with acne like me, maybe try one of these out and see if it works for you! But remember, even if nothing seems to work for you or if your struggle with acne has been particularly tough on you – that your skin is beautiful no matter what. On that note, I’ll leave you with a really dope sentiment that one of my fav youtubers posted today on her Instagram:
acnehacks

NIU BODY Review

Howdy.

Wow it feels like it’s been a hot MINUTE since I’ve had the time to really compose a piece for my blog. What can I say; I was caught in the midst of exam season. My priorities were as scrambled as my answers to the overly elaborate and existential questions that my English profs were posing for my final assignments.

“Discuss time, as well, as a measure of the success of art. Illustrate the scope of this generalized theme in its several manifestations, and characterize the moods the poet associates with destiny and mutability as they connect to the poetic present”. BRuH.

My skin tends to flare up and misbehave whenever I get stressed out, and the creeping deadlines and final papers of the term can really trigger my acne. So, it comes as no surprise that my skin decided to act like a temperamental piece of shit right as I plowed through the rest of the semester’s work.

While pimples were popping up on my face faster than I could memorize all of the poets for my ENGL1000 exam, I was able to eradicate these annoying spots at an equally fast speed thanks to a few naturaly based products that I have been testing out by the brand NIU BODY.

NIU BODY PRODUCTS

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Behold, the smol collection of products from NIU BODY that I have been trying out these past few weeks!

NIU BODY’s products are all 100 percent vegan and made in small batches in Toronto Canada (woot, represent)!! They use a variety of naturally-sourced ingredients that have been proven to accommodate plenty of skincare-related needs. You know I’m a science nut, and this brand definitely gets my anti-pseudoscience nod of approval! While a lot of brands like to throw around buzzwords to appease and persuade the millennial masses, NIU BODY actually uses exclusively natural ingredients that are well-known remedies for skincare issues (i.e: aloe vera, coconut oil, witch hazel etc).

Plus, the packaging comes in the cutest recyclable containers ever! I don’t see myself throwing these out, even once I’ve finished them, seeing as they are of good quality and they look super cute. I’ll probably use the spray bottles as travel-sized containers to store the contents of my bigger setting sprays, the oil bottle as a way to store facewash and/or body wash, and the mask container as a small jewelry jar!

To learn more about their products and company ethics, click here!

DETOX GREEN CLAY MASK 15.00 USD

NIU BODY
I think I’ve found my new favourite clay mask…

My 30 dollar PLUS Sephora-brand masks are QUAKING. This mask is a godsend – every aspect of it works perfectly for my particular skin concerns.

The application is such a soothing process – I add a half of a tablespoon of the powdered mask mixture into a small cup or saucer and then add a few drops of water, aloe vera gel, OR toner to the mix (depending on how adventurous I’m feeling). I make sure to add enough liquid that the powdered mask mixture turns into a thick, viscous form, but not so much that it gets completely diluted and far too liquidy in nature. I then take a flat (and clean!) foundation brush and spread this stuff all over my face. From mixing the “ingredients” to painting the cooling substance on my face – the entire application process is just so appreciated in light of all of the stress that accompanies exam season.

Aside from the relaxing application process, the formula also works wonders. It isn’t a very harsh mask, so my skin doesn’t feel dry and “cracky” (lmao) afterward, but it’s intense enough that it really clears all the gunk from my pores and leaves my skin very clean. I also like that the mask is super easy to wash off. A damp towel or a quick splash of water will remove the mask with ease, thus reducing the amount of drag that a towel or your fingers would require. Less drag = less skin irritation = less skin problems!

NIU BODYmask
One small scoop of this mixed with a few drops of your preferred toning substance and voila – a match made in heaven for your problematic skin!

After completely covering my face and part of my neck with the mask, I like to wait for around 15 minutes before I wash it off. With regular usage (about 2 – 3 times a week) I’ve noticed a dramatic difference in the quality of my skin. My bigger, hormonal cysts are drastically reduced in size and my skin just looks noticeably clearer.

I feel like I’m getting top of the line, luxury results yet I only have to pay a fraction of the price! 11/10 would recommend.

 

TONING MISTS 14.00USD

After using up the rest of my Jurlique toning spray, I knew that I just had to try out some more of these kinds of toners. I’ve got my eye on that Caudelie Beauty Elixer spray, and likewise, the PRICE TAG that comes with it. Miss me with that boujee shit man.

Fortunately, both of the sprays from NIU BODY that I tried out are very affordable and I have been 100% impressed with the results of their usage. I got one called “Awake”, which I use in the morning, prior to commencing my makeup routine, and also one called “Calm”, which I use at night prior to commencing my night-time skincare routine.

NIU BODYspray
I’m LOVING both of NIU Body’s toning mists! Ingredients like witch hazel and aloe vera make my skin very happy!

There are no rules to these products, I’m sure you could definitely live that edgy life and use “Calm” in the morning and “Awake” right as you are about to fall asleep just to shake things up a bit.

The two of these sprays have very similar ingredients, save for the scents. They both have aloe vera and witch hazel, which help reduce inflammation and combat blemishes (and I can attest to the effectiveness of these products). The only difference between the “Calm” lavender toning spray and the “Awake” rose tonight mist is really the ingredients that give them different scents (rosehip extract and rose floral water in the “Awake” variant and lavender floral water in the “Calm” variant).

I’d also like to commend NIU BODY for creating top quality, durable spray nozzles. I’ve been buying mac fix + and urban decay setting sprays (amongst others) for ages now and the nozzles always crap out on me and either squirt product out in a very thin, concentrated stream or stop working and spraying anything altogether. The nozzles on these products spray an evenly-spread-out fine mist, which makes application a dream! One spray in the middle of your face and one on each side is plenty enough to do the trick.

With cult-favourite skincare ingredients, aesthetic AF packaging and a durable design, NIU BODY clearly knows what’s up.

 

OILY SKIN MAKEUP REMOVER OIL 14.00USD

Lastly, I grabbed a makeup remover oil that is supposed to be ideal for oily skin (they also have a combo skin and dry skin variant). I am ALL ABOUT the ingredients in this oil, but I’m not completely sold on the packaging.

Because it’s stored in a bottle, it really isn’t ideal to just pour some oil into your hands and then start scrubbing your face. That can get really messy, real quick (kinda like the quality of my writing when I’m pumping out a 12-page essay in 24 hours rip). The application instructions suggest pouring some oil into a cotton pad and then using that to remove your makeup, but I also found this to be problematic. Seeing as the oil is very thick, it really soaks into the cotton pad and doesn’t spread around my face very efficiently (the way Bioderma does, for example). I also used this to remove my eye makeup once and it left a very thick film in my eyeball that continued to irritate me even when I had washed it vigorously with water.

NIUBODYoil
This one just didn’t quite work for me. I really wish it came with a pump to make application easier!

Even when avoiding my eye area in future trials, I just found that the entire cotton pad + oil method really wasn’t working out for me as I was having to really drag that thing all over my skin to get any of my foundation to come off, which is not only frustrating, but that kind of contact on my skin really tends to irritate it.

I would have preferred to gently massage the oil into my face with slightly-wet fingers so as to make the substance glide around with more ease – only thing is the product doesn’t come out of a pump. I’d have to grab the bottle with my greasy hands and pour a little bit at a time and all that is just really problematic. (I tried using just my hands and the act of pouring oil into my hands and then rubbing it on my face, and then grabbing a bit more oil was just sloppy and messy).

While I think NIU BODY has a potentially great product on their hands, I think they need to either re-work the packaging to accommodate the viscosity of the oil (adding a pump could be one way to fix this, a lot of the Korean oils that I use and my favourite Boscia makeup remover oil come in this format) OR, they could find a way to make the formulation less viscous so that it could be better used with a cotton pad.

 

In Conclusion…

All in all, from using all of these products in unison I’ve been able to keep my skin concerns at bay. My skin has always responded very positively to natural products, and these are no exception. While I’ll probably pass on repurchasing the oil, I’ll undoubtedly be repurchasing the facemask and at least one of the facial mists. If you are looking for natural-based and effective products that address a wide range of skincare needs and don’t break the bank I’d highly recommend checking NUI BODY out! I’m so happy I stumbled upon them!

 

Ichiban Bakery | Ottawa

Many a time have I passed by Ichiban Bakery‘s iconic window on Bank Street, filled to the brim with baked goods and pastries just beckoning for me to step inside and eat my bodyweight in French and Japanese tarts. So, the other day I finally made a point to check the place out and I’m so glad I did! I think I’ll be able to add this cute little spot in the heart of the Glebe to my list of favourite bakeries in Ottawa!

Ichiban Bakery is a family-run business that has been serving both Japanese and French baked goods for 16 years! You can find them in the Glebe, right in between 4th and 5th ave.

IchibanBakery Ottawa
Ichiban always has these baked goods on display. Don’t worry, you won’t be eating any of these ahaha ;p The pastries and breads that they sell are always freshly baked!

So, Ben and I popped in for a quick bite and coffee before heading to one of my last classes for the semester (cheers to that bois).

The place is actually a lot smaller than I had envisioned it, but it had a really cozy and warm aesthetic to it. Right as we walked in the lady behind the counter pointed out a couple of her favourite baked goods behind the large display case and explained that everything was homemade and baked fresh that morning!

IchibanOttawaBakery
Look at this fine assortment of GOODS. They have traditional sweet French pastries like Almond croissants and pain du chocolat, as well as some more savory goods!
Ichiban Bakery Ottawa
AH!!! You almost made me drop my CROISSANT!!!
IchibanBakeryGlebe
*drools*

While it was tempted to try one of everything that she suggested, I HAD to try out their iconic “Japanese Cream Cheese Tart” – it’s what Ichiban Bakery is well known for!

You can check out their entire menu here!

The tart was creamy and delicious! The dough was a bit hard to rip apart with just a fork, but I expected as much. I feel like cream cheese tarts are aesthetic AF and then you start digging into it with your fork and it gets all mushy and just completely falls apart (oh wow, kinda like me during exam season).

Ichiban Bakery
I grabbed a latte and Ichiban Bakery’s famous “Japanese Cream Cheese Tart”. SUuuper tasty.
IchibanBakeryOttawa
Also, kind of embarrassing but, I saw on Ichiban’s Instagram that they have black and red coffee cups and plates so I said a little prayer to the aesthetic gods in hopes that I would get a black cup seeing as that colour would fit much better in accordance with my blog and Instagram theme. Lo and behold, the kind lady behind the counter brought us our drinks and I let out a gasp of relief and sighed: “Oh mY goD they have GrEeN cUpS” right as she set the cups down in front of me. I couldn’t even contain my excitement over the COLOUR of a CUP, what the fuck is wrong with me :’)

The coffee was pretty superb too. I’m going to have to do a comprehensive review of all the coffee around Ottawa at some point lmao, but for the time being, I’m not too sure where exactly the coffee at Ichiban would fall on my scale. I’d say that the best coffee I’ve had has been at like, Headquarters or Black Squirrel or Little Victories, but Ichiban’s latte definitely kicks Starbucks and any other commercial producer’s ass. You just can’t beat a really nice latte made with love, ya know?

IchibanOttawa
Here is the view of one side of the cafe, where you will find the bakery counter. We went around the end of the day so as you can see, a lot of their stock (especially the baked breads) had since cleared out. On the other side of the cafe is where guests can grab a seat.

Speaking of love, the service was really kind! The lady was totally cool about me being obnoxious and taking pics of the cafe and it was really kind of her to tell us about the different kinds of baked goods behind the counter.

When we went, the place was pretty dead, save for a few clusters of old ladies getting together for some TEA (if ya know what I mean) ;p

IchibanBakery
I absolutely loved the ceiling fixtures of this place (but hey, what’s new), especially in contrast with the brick wall! Nice one Ichiban Bakery!

But I don’t get the impression that this place gets super packed on the regular or anything, so if you are in the ‘hood I’d recommend this place if you are looking for a neat cafe to study in! Plus, the fact that Ichiban Bakery has French AND Japanese baked goods gives me LIFE. My TWO favourite kinds of cuisines! And of course, this place gets a nod of approval from an aesthetic snob like me – the interior design is cute, with dope ceiling fixtures and cute wall art!

You can count on me going back to Ichiban Bakery to try out their matcha pastries and pick up a baguette for dinner ;p

Socials:
Website: http://www.ichibanbakery.ca/index.html
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ichibanbakeryottawa/?ref=br_rs
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ichibanbakeryottawa/

Oat Couture Cafe Ottawa + Soft Opening Event

The other day I attended the soft opening for Oat Couture, a new cafe and hangout spot in Ottawa that specializes in unique Oatmeal combinations (and other assorted baked goods – including oat doggy treats, how cute)!!

Not going to lie, it was pretty cool to be amongst the first people in the city to check the place out and attend the neat promotional event that they had going on. Even being able to say that “I attended a soft opening” makes me feel like I’m an accredited blogger or something, as opposed to a student who points her camera at things and pretends she knows what she’s doing.

Side note:  wow, as I’m writing this I’m realizing how exhausted I am from writing non-stop for my final essays. I wrote “goddy” instead of doggy, and “blooger” instead of blogger…exam szn amirite??

OatCouture
Check out those dope hanging chairs! A perfect spot to hangout!

Surprise surprise, I’m not actually a big fan of oatmeal. I feel like this is going to be some kind of sustained meme on my blog, where I constantly refer to the fact that I lowkey have PTSD from exclusively eating certain kinds of foods in my childhood that were either poorly prepared or simply eaten waaay too often for me to ever possibly enjoy again, and that the AMAZING cafes and restaurants around Ottawa are going to slowly cure me of my fear of certain foods one blog post at a time :’)

So, needless to say, the oatmeal samples that I got to try out at the cafe made me come around to the possibility of actually enjoying oatmeal (save for one sample, you’ll see).

OatCoutureCafeOttawa
The interior is really quite nice! Here is a rare shot that I managed to take during the soft opening of an almost-empty area. The entire hour or so that we were there, the place was jam-packed! The free-oatmeal idea was a great one to say the least.
OatCouture Ottawa
Omg ghosts! 😉

At the soft opening, so long as you purchased a coffee and hung around in the restaurant (either in an actual seat, on the hanging wicker chairs by the front window, or by just awkwardly standing around in the middle of the small cafe) you were eligible to receive a free sample of oatmeal from a variety of different oatmeal flavours and combinations that were to be made permanent staples of Oat Couture’s menu. Fortunately, we managed to grab a seat…right next to an ignorant old lady that was loudly proclaiming her distaste for how damn expensive the place was and how minorities are ruining America. Little did she know that there was a lil’ Mexican kid (moi) sitting right next to her trying not to roll her eyes too dramatically while stealing the bacon bits from a lil’ Asian kid’s oatmeal. Ugh, minorities, amirite?

OatCoutureOatmealCafe
Rad lightbulbs dude
OatCoutureOttawa
My apologies for the unclear pic, but if you zoom in and squint your eyes enough you just might be able to make out some of the stuff on the menu ;p

FOOD:

I don’t think I could have ever even dreamed about some of the oatmeal bowl samples that I had that day. I’ll give you a brief rundown of the samples that I tried out:

Name: “Hangover”
Ingredients: Apple, aged cheddar cheese, caramelized onion, lemon juice, bacon and a light drizzle of maple syrup
Impressions: Absolutely delicious, but like all things, it could have used more bacon. 5 stars.

Name: “Kyoto”
Ingredients: Sticky beef brisket, shiitake, pineapple, peanuts and coriander
Impressions: The beef brisket was the star of the show. Who would have thought to put something like that on oatmeal? Would have given this 5 stars but they put cilantro, aka the devil’s lettuce on it, so I’m only going to give it a 4.

Name: “Pumpkin”
Ingredients: Shortbread, caramel, whipped cream, orange zest, and cinnamon
Impressions: As a pumpkin-pie fan, I was very appeased to have these flavours in my oatmeal. Solid 5 starts, and possibly my favourite sample.

Name: “Eden”
Ingredients: Rosemary poached pear, fig, pecan, blue emirate cheese
Impressions: Why tf is blue cheese so nasty? 3 stars.

Oat Couture Cafe Ottawa
Here was my free sample of the “Pumpkin” oatmeal bowl – probably my favourite one of the lot!
Oat Couture Ottawa
…aaand my least favourite. It was honestly super tasty, aside from the cheese. But if you are a fan of blue cheese, then I’m sure you would love this ;p

Oh yeah, and our coffees were also good. They actually get their coffee sourced from Little Victories, a dope cafe that I wrote a blog post about that you should totally check out if you haven’t already. As always, I grabbed my preferred latte while ben ordered a black coffee LIKE AN ANIMAL.

Decor:

As far as trendy Ottawa cafes go, this one is right up there with the top contenders. The place has an abundance of plants, an exposed brick wall, aesthetic looking lighting fixtures, fuzzy pillows by every seat and some iconic hanging wicker chairs. It’s a super aesthetically pleasing venue, the only downfall being that if you aren’t situated right by the front of the cafe, by the windows, you will find it to be rather dark, as the place really doesn’t allow for a lot of natural light to get through (which can be a bit of a pain when you are looking to take pics for the ‘gram since the lighting is all off).

Oat Couture
Exposed brick and geometric lighting fixtures makes for a very aesthetic venue
OatCoutureCafe
As you’d expect, the place was packed! Who wouldn’t want free bacon and beef brisket oatmeal?

Aside from that super nit-picky criticism, I really have to hand it to the Oat couture staff for nailing those cozy and comforting cafe vibes. I look forward to returning and trying out some local coffee and super rad oatmeal combos.

OatCouture
Here is a clearer pic of the sweet swinging chair feature by the cafe’s entrance – taken from Oat Couture’s Instagram.
Oat Couture Cafe
The garbage and recycling area, oo la la 😛

 

I’d like to give a mini shout out to Amanda Jeysing for posting about Oat Couture’s soft opening event on her story! If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t have known about the event and would have missed out on a rad blogging opportunity! Be sure to check out her Instagram if you live in Ottawa and want to know where all the good food is at, or if, like me, you just like looking at pictures of food ;p

Also, my pic that I took of Oat Couture Cafe got featured in Narcity Ottawa’s “Best of Ottawa” article: This Dreamy Cafe Is Ottawa’s Newest Gem! Check it out for more cool pics of Oat Couture!

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Oat Couture Cafe’s Socials:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/oatcouturecafe/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/oatcouturecafe/
Website: http://oatcouturecafe.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Radiance Vox Box | Influenster

FlawlessByFriday
Flawless By Friday Eye Mask

Flawless By Friday Eye Mask

This month I was very fortunate to receive a free bundle of cosmetics, courtesy of Influenster, in the form of a Radiance VoxBox. To find out more about what Influenster is, click here! Otherwise, let’s jump right into my review of these products!

First and foremost, I received a complimentary “Flawless By Friday” eye mask! Each package comes with two slimy under-eye patches (one of which I dropped of course). The brand is Korean (woot for Korean skincare!) and the products are advertised as being sulfate and cruelty-free, which is a definite plus!

As far as application goes, I first stuck these suckers in the fridge so that they would have an extra cooling effect upon being put on my face. I then applied the mini eye masks to my under eye area and left them on for about 15 minutes (as the packaging suggests). After around 15 minutes (or roughly one Jenna Marbles youtube video) I removed them and then patted the remaining serum into my skin.

So did these make me look Flawless In 15? Well, no, because my acne is still all here, my lip is still crooked from the time I got a serious infection from the chicken parmigiana at East Side Marios and the greasy state of my hair reminds me of the fact that I haven’t actually taken a shower in an embarrassingly long time because the maintenance crew in our apartment building still haven’t gotten their shit together on account of the fact that the water coming out of our taps is BRIGHT BROWN.

But they did make my under eye area look less puffy and swollen from the effects of putting in extra hours to study and finish up my final papers, so I’ll give them that. 😉

All in all, a decent eye mask.

Revlon Kiss Balm
Revlon Kiss Balm

Revlon Kiss Sugar Scrub + Balm Duo

I also received this lip duo from Revlon for free. Unfortunately, I found it to be mediocre at best, which was really quite disappointing considering the fact that I find Revlon’s lip products to usually be pretty solid. The packaging kind of reminds me of children’s makeup which is not really an aesthetic that I’m down for, plus when you apply these, you get product all down the sides of the package.

But packaging aside, what is way more important is the actual product, yet even I wasn’t too impressed with that.

The scrub left my lips feeling sticky instead of moisturized. I also found that the actual balm itself made my lips look and feel pretty tacky as well. The combination of both of these lip products just left my lips looking glossy and oily instead of naturally nourished. I can completely understand that some people might totally dig this kind of look, but that kind of shiny and wet and unpigmented lip vibe is just not one that works in harmony with the rest of my matte makeup ensemble. The lip products also smell and taste so harshly of chemicals that they actually give me a mild headache upon application…sooo I think it’s fair to say that this duo gets a “no” from me.

BeingBySanctuarySpa
Being By Sanctuary Spa Shower Burst

Being By Sanctuary Spa Hibiscus & Coconut Water Shower Burst

I WANT to like this product, I really do. When you squeeze the nozzle of this unique shower gel, a concentrated stream of fluff comes out and then gradually inflates into a much larger, softer, cotton-candy-like cloud. The texture of this shower burst is so creamy and smooth and satisfying to smear around, but the smell. The SMELL.

It smells like a black licorice factory and I am NOT digging that. I don’t understand how these guys thought that this product smelled at all like the tropical scents advertised on the packaging. Hibiscus is one of my favourite scents (and tastes for that matter – hibiscus tea aka ‘Jugo de Jamaica” is a Latin American fav), and I can assure you that this smelled like nothing of the sort.

I know that a lot of other ladies that were lucky enough to be given these complimentary boxes received differently scented body bursts (such as ones of a “cloudberry and lycee” or “salted caramel & macadamia” variety), so don’t take my review too seriously, as perhaps the scents of those variants truly did live up to what was advertised on their packaging. But honestly, the strong chemical scent of this product was just too overpowering for me to actually enjoy.

Clean And Clear
Clean And Clear Exfoliating Scrub

Clean & Clear Acne Triple Clear Exfoliating Scrub

This honestly couldn’t have come at a better time. In combination with a couple other awesome anti-acne products that I’ve been trying out recently, I’ve finally been able to put a stop to the raging breakouts that I’ve been experiencing this month. It’s tricky when you have acne-prone skin and have to constantly worry about the different things in your daily life that make your acne flare up, such as different products, or stress or food or hormones or the temperature, man the list goes on and on. To make matters worse, different skincare products and different ingredients treat breakouts better or worse depending on what is being used and what kind of acne breakout you are experiencing.

So who knows why the hell my acne decided to party it UP on my face this month, but I DO know that this exfoliating face wash did an excellent job eliminating those pimply bois.

I like to use this right as I wake up because the gentle exfoliants in the formula really help wake me up and feel fresh. I also like to use exfoliating products in general (this one included) in the shower so that the hot water and steam can open up all my pores and I can use the exfoliating face wash to remove all the crap that is in there.

After only 2 weeks of using this, I have noticed a major difference in my skin, and I look forward to continuing to use this liberally with all of my other skincare products. Seeing as this is a pretty inexpensive product, I’ll probably repurchase it as well!

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That’s everything that I received from my Radiance Voxbox! If you are a blogger of any kind, I strongly urge you to check out Influenster and sign up to see if you can qualify to get any free boxes of goodies from them in the future!

Cheers!

Things I’ve Tried In … March

 

March has been a very exciting month for me in the sense that I was so lucky as to receive some very neat blogging opportunities. I got my first PR box ever (from Naturally Vain, check out the post I did here), and I was given my first ever “VoxBox” from Influenster (the corresponding post will be up in a few days)!

Because I was given all of these free goodies to try out, I didn’t end up having to purchase that many other products myself (aaaand instead spent all of that money on food. Rip)!

I won’t bother repeating myself and showcasing the products that have entire posts dedicated to themselves, so I’ll just leave ya with the links:

Love Beauty + Planet Shampoo & Conditioner

Naturally Vain Products

Halo Top Ice Cream

So, let’s get right into it! Keep reading for some dramatic and unnecessarily lengthy commentary on the NEW things that I have been trying out this month!

Marc Jacobs Beauty Lamé Noir Ultra-Glittering Mascara

Before you crucify me or question my rationality over the notion that I am constantly complaining about being poor yet here I am using Marc Jacobs mascara, hear me out – this was given to me as a gift. In fact, I had completely forgotten that I even owned this mascara, otherwise, I would have been using it this whole time :’)

The first time I tried this mascara out I was SHOOK. Feelings of overwhelming joy and dark despair rushed over me at the same instance and I just didn’t know what to do with myself. I was elated because this was the best mascara that I have ever used in my entire life…yet at the same time, I was super bummed out because I knew that there was no way in hell that I could ever afford to repurchase this mascara every three or four months. I’m not THAT boujee.

But as I said, this is seriously the best mascara I’ve ever used – it adds length to my lashes while making them look nice and thicc, the formula doesn’t clump up, and the wand is shaped in a way that can expertly reach all my lashes. I only stabbed my eye with the wand once this month and I would say that the pain of having the mascara ink in my eye wavered around a 6, which is not bad considering that most other mascaras tend to score in the high 8-9s.

I will enjoy this mascara until the bitter end ❤

MarcJacobs
Marc Jacobs Beauty Lamé Noir Ultra-Glittering Mascara

Josie Maran Argan Oil + Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Pomade

Both of these products are actually my holy grails, BUT, the *new* thing that I’ve been trying this month is mixing them together! I swear by my ABH brow pomade – it’s pretty inexpensive and it’s a wonderful brow product. HOWEVER, I find that this product can dry up really quickly and become difficult to work with after a month or two of using it. So when I saw a makeup tutorial on Instagram the other day where the makeup artist splashed a drop of facial oil into her pot of pomade and stirred it around before applying it on her brows I was deceased. Why have I NEVER thought of this before???

By mixing the oil into the pomade, the formula reverts back to a state that is very similar to when you first open a fresh new package – airy, fluffy and soft, instead of the dried out cat-shit-like consistency that it attains after being used for a while.

I have to say, mixing oil with brow pomade is revolutionary. It has not only made the application process so much more smooth, but my brows look much softer and natural. Now I can actually use up this entire pot of product instead of throwing it away after I’ve only used half of it on account of the dry, unusable texture. Because the oil doesn’t leave the pomade very quickly, I’ve only had to add one drop of oil to my pot this entire month. It has kept the texture perfect this entire time! Bless ❤

Josie Maran Argan Oil
Brow Pomade + Facial Oil = A revolutionary discovery

Skin Care

Aloe Sheet Mask(s)

I’ve been using quite a lot of aloe vera products in light of some really horrid breakouts that I’ve been having. Most of the aloe vera products that I’ve been using this month I’ve talked about already in previous posts so I won’t bring them up again, but the pic below is of a brand that I haven’t tried yet. I got this in Marzia’s subscription box a while back and have only recently just used it, and I must say, I was pretty impressed. If I ever see this brand on the shelves anywhere I’ll be sure to repurchase it.

This mask has helped bring back nourishment and moisture to my parched skin because of all of the harsh anti-acne products that I’ve been using this month, and it has also helped minimize the look of my breakout. Usually, the rate at which my pimples diminish is at an equilibrium with the rate of which new pimples pop up on my skin. However, these past few weeks the balance in the force has shifted and I just haven’t been able to contain my breakout. If the anti-acne products I’ve received for free don’t do the job, I may have to start dropping some serious cash on a solution or finally consult a dermatologist…let’s hope it doesn’t get to that :’)

Sheet Mask
One of the many aloe vera sheet masks that were deploid this month

Yes To Cucumbers Makeup Wipes

I really want to like this brand but man I’ve always had bad luck with them. To be fair, I haven’t tried very many “yes to” products, but the skincare products I HAVE used from them have made me break out, and the makeup wipes that I’ve tried from them have always been super dry! I remember one time I got a big pack of “yes to tomatoes” makeup wipes and when I opened them later that evening they were COMPLETELY dry! The wipes had bound together to form a hard, lopsided brick, it was a complete waste of my money (and these bois are pricey).

So when I decided to give these a shot, I played it smart and got a small pack…sure enough – the wipes were pretty dry. They weren’t completely dry mind you, but as I rubbed the wipe on my face after having worn makeup all day I felt like I was dragging a lightly-wetted cloth on my face. It wasn’t really taking any makeup off, so I really had to go at it and scrub it all off with what felt like very dry fabric. As someone with acne and sensitive skin, that sensation makes me cringe so much that I get goosebumps.

The wipes also barely took any of my eye makeup off, so it was an all-around fail. Since I did end up buying such a small pack, I may use it for travel purposes so I don’t have to bring my big ass pack of 30 wipes with me, but I won’t look forward to using these again, that’s for sure.

Yes To Cucumbers
Yes To Cucumbers? More like….NO…THANKS

Bath

Garnier Whole Blends Repairing Shampoo + Conditioner

When I bought the Love Beauty & Planet shampoo and conditioner I also grabbed what looked to be a potential dupe – this pair from Garnier. Like the former brand, these products are made with natural extracts and are paraben free! The packaging is also made with 30% post-consumer recycled waste (not 100% like Love Beauty & Planet, but that’s still better than nothing), and it is produced in a facility that has actively reduced its waste and water consumption per unit by around 50%. These are some solid statistics for an affordable drug-store brand, not to mention that the actual product has been working just fine by nourishing my hair and keeping it looking fab even after I destroy it with my styling tools ;p

Ben has also been using this shampoo and conditioner for his hair (because why not!? honey is a pretty universal scent right? Smells better than that old spice shit imo), and has agreed to provide some guest commentary. Please give it up for my very first guest blogger! Take it away Ben, tell us what you thought about these products.

Ben: “….it works well”

Sara: “…it?!?… Thats not gramatically…. UGH…………..
…………….do you want to add anything else? :’) “

Ben: “……. no that’s ok 🙂 “

Thanks Ben. How insightful.

Garnier
Garnier Whole Blends Shampoo – a solid, natural, and environmentally conscious alternative to that Love Beauty & Planet stuff!

ETC

Anthropologie Wild Honeysuckle Candle

I’ve been using this candle exclusively this past month. The fine scent of wildflowers is perfect for the change of the season. This candle also does a great job at leaving my entire apartment smelling wonderful – not in a manner that is intoxicating or overbearing, but just enough to leave the whole place with a soft, pleasant aroma.

I don’t think I’ve ever come across a candle from Anthropologie that I haven’t liked or whose smell I couldn’t handle. Plus, all of their candle designs are super cute. Of course, like all nice things in this world, they are pretty expensive, so if you are looking to grab an aesthetically pleasing and pleasantly smelling candle from Anthro, I’d suggest going when they have a 20 or 25 percent off sale (which is fairly often – especially if you are an AnthroPerks member).

Anthropologie
One of my favourite Anthropologie candles!

 

 

 

Naturally Vain Review | PR Goodies!

Not too long ago, a representative from Naturally Vain reached out to me on Instagram to see if I’d be interested in representing their brand by becoming a Brand Ambassador. Coincidentally, I received this message as I was soaking in the bath after having used a Naturally Vain bath bomb and their bath salts, I. Kid. You. Not! It’s like the stars completely aligned for me or something!!

By being a brand representative, I was also sent some samples of new products to try out and review for you guys! This is my first time ever receiving a PR package, so as you can imagine, I’m pretty stoked to have been given such an opportunity! On the flip side, however, I should be clear in saying that while these items were given to me for free, I will always aim to have my opinions and reviews on them be 100% honest, as that is a value that I greatly respect when it comes to influencers in the beauty community.

To check out my previous review on Naturally Vain that talks a little more about the company as a whole, it’s ethics, and the other neato products that they offer, check out my previous Naturally Vaun Haul + Review post!

Without further ado, let’s delve into this review!

(Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. Also, if you click on a link that leads you to a product’s page and you don’t see an image or description it is because the item is NEW and has yet to have all of its info added to the website. You can still successfully add it to your cart and buy it if you wish!)

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Naturally Vain Refreshing Shower Gel

Naturally Vain
Naturally Vain’s “Refreshing” Shower Gel – with eucalyptus!

I’ve been liking this shower gel quite a lot, as it always leaves me feeling nice and….you guessed it…

r e f r e s h e d

The strong notes of eucalyptus in this shower gel also bring about a strong sensation of nostalgia. Being half-Mexican and growing up in a household with a Latina mother, I was no stranger to the scent of eucalyptus as all Latina mothers strictly believe that Vicks VapoRub can cure you of anything. Have a chest cold? Rub some *latina accent* “Veecks” on it. Got a stuffy nose? Snort some “Veecks“. Boy troubles? VEECKS.

With that all being said, it may come as no surprise to you that I subsequently associate the feeling of being sick with the scent of Vicks, and therefore, eucalyptus. However, I’ve been managing to get over that and it’s really nice to be able to smell this scent and not actually be ill. If you haven’t ever smelt eucalyptus before, it has a very distinct, herbal and medicinal scent to it. This isn’t your typical, overly saturated, headache-inducing, sugary scented body wash, so I could see how this isn’t necessarily everyone’s cup of tea, but as someone that enjoys more naturally based scents and products, I’ve personally been digging it. Naturally Vain also offers a bunch of other scented body washes anyways so you can pick one that is more up your alley. 

Formulation-wise, this lathers very nicely without even needing a loofah or a scrubbie, and it leaves my skin feeling very fresh and clean! If you are looking for a vegan, natural, and affordable body wash I’d highly recommend the ones at Naturally Vain.

(As of right now, when I am writing this, the eucalyptus-scented “refreshing” variant is not currently up on the website yet. They do, however, have a rosemary one!)

Naturally Vain “Nourish” Face Cream

Naturally Vain Ottawa
Naturally Vain’s “Nourish” Face Cream. Very thick and moisturizing, but not so great for wearing under makeup.

This face cream is quite possibly one of the THICCEST creams I’ve ever used in my life. I tend to use my products very cautiously and sparingly, so when I lightly dipped my finger into this container for the first time and then proceeded to spread the small amount that I had collected onto my face I was shocked to see it barely spread before melting into my skin completely. Thus, I’ve had to get over my timid method of application and really dig in to get enough product to cover my entire face.

The formulation feels like a creamy butter, which is oddly satisfying and very soothing when I spread it around my face and neck. However, because this product is so thick, I actually worried it might clog my pores. I don’t think it has really been doing that (though it has been hard to tell since I’ve been breaking out pretty badly lately, but that could be for a plethora of reasons), and it has been super moisturizing! I do have some minor qualms with it though…

Because the formulation is so thick, I find that this moisturizer isn’t ideal for when you are going to be applying makeup on top of your skin. I’ve found that when I’ve used this, my makeup breaks up quicker and in a more noticeable manner throughout the day. However. this may just be because of my particular foundation.

Different foundations and powders work better or worse with different skin products; it’s all about striking the right balance between them all and finding an assortment of products that all layer on top of one another in the most ideal manner. That aside, it’s generally a rule of thumb to avoid super thick skin products when putting your makeup on as they are more likely to break your foundation apart throughout the day and are therefore better left for your night time skincare routine. Thus, I’d pass on this product when it comes to applying your daily makeup.

Naturally Vain
The formula is very thick and creamy – like butter!

This product also leaves my face feeling a bit sticky when I first apply it so I wouldn’t suggest applying this RIGHT before bed, as any kind of debris from your pillows or what have you could effectively stick to your face, and you wouldn’t want that. Give this product about 30 minutes to be sufficiently absorbed or apply another topical product (like aloe vera gel, or any other overnight-treatment) to encourage the layers underneath to dry and settle.

All in all, this is a very thick and moisturizing face cream, but I’ve found that I’ve had to make some minor compromises when utilizing it in both my morning and nighttime skincare routines.

 

Naturally Vain Lip Polish – Bubble Gum Flavor

NaturallyVain
Naturally Vain Lip Polish. This is one of the best lip scrubs that I have ever tried. Plus, it’s only $5!

I’ve tried a whole bunch of different lip polish products from both the drugstore and Sephora alike, and I’ve been constantly let down by how ineffective these products are – especially the ones I’ve paid 20 or 30 + dollars for. I have to say, for 5 dollars, this lip polish is pretty solid.

In my opinion, a good lip polish should always:

  • Effectively scrub away the dead and dry skin cells on your lips to make them feel fresh and prep them for any lip products
  • Moisturize your lips without leaving an overly thick or oily film on them
  • Bonus: smell & taste hella gud

I’d say that this lip polish definitely meets the first two requirements, which are undoubtedly the most important when it comes to a good lip scrub. Its formula is SUPER moisturizing, even possibly a tad on the oily side, but it does sit well on your lips. The small grains in the product help to slough off unwanted skin cells so that your lips look plush and feel moisturized. I only wish that this lip scrub had a more defined scent/taste to it, and perhaps tasted or smelled as vibrantly as it looks. But that’s alright. I’ll get over it *sobs*

NaturallyVainOttawa
I only wish this tasted as brilliantly as this looks!

As I briefly mentioned before, the container that I got was a bit oily, as the oil tends to collect itself around the sides of the jar whenever I open it, thus spreading itself on my fingers and the rest of the container when I don’t really want it to. I think if this product wasn’t filled right to the brim of its packaging, this could ensure that the oil doesn’t flow out and grease up the entire container. Aside from this minor packaging malfunction, I’d say that this product is a complete steal!

 

Naturally Vain Lemongrass Solid Bubble Bath

NaturallyVain Ottawa
Naturally Vain Solid Bubble Bath in “Lemongrass”. Smells amazing!

Right when I opened the PR package that Naturally Vain sent me, I was blown away by the strong and invigorating scent of lemongrass that immediately dissipated throughout the room. This solid bubble bath has a really lovely, refreshing and strong scent, and if you put your nose right up to it and inhale as hard as you can it will actually completely clear your mind (don’t ask me why I was doing that, please enjoy this product responsibly). It’s like a painless alternative to how it feels like to eat wasabi.

Odd descriptions of the scent aside, this worked very well in the bath. I kind of wish I had only used up half of it at a time to get the most use out of this, especially because I think I definitely could have gotten away with only using half. It made the bath water very creamy and it smelled very strongly of lemongrass of course. I usually like to light a candle as I’m soaking in the bath, but I found that I didn’t need to because this solid bubble bath smelled strong enough! 😀

To activate the bubble bath, I wet it and then crushed some of it under the running tap water and whisked the water in the tub to stir up some bubbles. I then crumbled the rest of it in the bath water. While it wasn’t as pleasing to watch as a dissolving bath bomb, I think the strong scent of this formulation was what leveled the playing field.

It also didn’t stain my bathtub at all! Hoorah!

NaturallyVainProducts
The aftermath. I dropped my book in here as I tried to read it. Press “F” to pay your respects.

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All in all, I was very impressed with these products, much like how I’ve always been impressed with the products that I have bought and tried from Naturally Vain previously. I truly think they are a great brand that utilizes vegan and naturally sourced ingredients, all the while refraining from the more common, gimmicky branding practices of today’s leading natural cosmetic companies.

Naturally Vain Sale:
For a limited time, they are having 20% off their ENTIRE WEBSITE! Check them out and use the code: “20off” to save on your purchases today!

What’s The Big Deal With Halo Top Ice Cream

Hi, my name is Sara, and I am NOT…. a professional food critic, so please take what I say with a grain of salt (?pun? ?intended?)

Halo Top Ice Cream
Halo Top Ice Cream in “Cookies and Cream”. Don’t let that packaging fool ya – its 90 calories for 125ml, not for the whole damn PINT ya silly geese ;p

These past few weeks my Instagram feed has been BLOWING UP with pics of these iconic, aesthetically designed tubs of ice cream that claim to have a ridiculously low caloric value. A whole tub of Halo Top has as many calories as a single serving of other popular ice creams, like Ben & Jerry’s or Haagen-Dazs. I was skeptical but curious, so I figured I had to try out some Halo Top Ice Cream for myself and see what all the rage was about.

Lemme tell ya, getting this stuff wasn’t easy. The Metro in the Glebe is the closest grocery store to me that has it, and they kept selling out before I got a chance to grab anything. Finally, after a week of popping into the ice cream aisle and after Metro finally issued a “4 halo top ice creams per person sweaty k thx xxoxo” note, I managed to acquire some of this revolutionary ice cream for myself!

Halo Top Ice Cream
Halo Top Ice Cream in “Vanilla” – tasted like your classic vanilla ice cream, you can’t go wrong with a flavour like that!

Halo Top Ice Cream Ingredients: Air

Right off the bat, when you pick one of these suckers up, the first thing you notice is just how damn LIGHT these pints are. I could probably whip one at Ben’s head and it wouldn’t hurt much more than if I had thrown a pillow (ok, that may be a slight exaggeration, but you get the idea).

And that led me to a grand discovery: that Halo Top’s secret, the one that allows them to make ice cream with so little calories, is that their special ingredient is…..air. :’)

Air! And last time I checked, air is organic (CHEMISTRY! *gets triggered*), gluten-free, vegan, non-GMO and has a grand total of 0 CALORIES baby! Since Halo Top has so much air whipped into it, it weighs LESS than your average pint of ice cream, and therefore, has less sustenance in it, so OF COURSE, it is going to have less calories, – you are eating less ice cream!

HaloTop
The texture of Halo Top ice cream is really light because of all of the air that is whipped into the formulation. Thus, you aren’t really ingesting a whole lot of grams of ice cream…

You can even tell that air is one of the main ingredients when you open the tub and start to dig in. The texture resembles that of a thicc, frozen mousse instead of that of ice cream, which I personally don’t mind, but don’t take it from me – I don’t have much of a sweet tooth so I’m really not all that picky about these kinds of things. I did notice, however, that after I opened the pint, stuck it in the fridge for later and then re-opened it, that the texture had changed! It wasn’t as smooth as it had been before, which I found to be kind of curious – probably because all of the air dissipated when I first ate it.

Also, because there is so much air in this ice cream, I have found that it melts really quickly. It also bubbles up as all of the air is released :’) Which, of course, also alters the texture.

Halo Top
Halo Top Ice Cream In “Cookies And Cream” – melted very quickly! Look at all the little holes and pockets on the surface – those were created from bubbles of air bursting! Kind of an odd thing to witness happen on your ice cream :’)

Artificial Sweetener In Halo Top Ice Cream

Halo Top also uses artificial sweeteners instead of sugar to cut down the calories in their products. The scientist in me always cringes whenever I hear this kind of shit. My advice? Take a second to look into the kinds of ingredients that go into your foods, especially ones that companies like to push on you and preach about their supposed health benefits – most of the time these companies take advantage of the fact that the general public doesn’t know much about chemistry and metabolism so they tend to stretch the truth or omit other relevant health effects. Check out this article on Erythirol, for example, a sugar-substitute that Halo Top uses. I’m not saying you should listen to me instead of Halo Top, but I think so many of us like to jump on the idea that because a company is using a “_____-alternative” , it MUST be good for us, when in reality it’s more often that these “alternatives” end up being just as bad or even worse than whatever they are supposed to be alternatives for, and companies really shouldn’t be charging us more for this notion.

Halo Top Ice Cream Taste

Taste-wise, both flavours were pretty great! The vanilla one tasted just like vanilla (surprise surprise) while I found that the “cookies and cream” one had a unique flavour. It wasn’t really like a Hershey’s “cookies and cream” bar, what with the heavy cream and oreos kind of taste… I’d say it tasted more like frozen almond milk with a *light dusting* of graham crackers. I mean, I still thought it was tasty, but it certainly did NOT taste like your hallmark cookies and cream variant of ice cream. From what I’ve seen on the internet and on Instagram, it looks like a lot of people noticed that their ice creams didn’t really taste like the flavours that they were supposed to be. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, I’m sure some variants still tasted fine, but it is a bit odd for a company to advertise that their product tastes like something when they clearly don’t.

HaloTopIceCream
Guilt Free – sure, you didn’t consume a lot of calories, congrats, but you MIGHT feel a bit guilty of paying twice as much for half as much sustenance… But hey, whatever floats your boat!

Final Thoughts

Despite not entirely feeling and tasting like your typical ice cream treat (I suppose that’s why it says “frozen treat” on the packaging instead…) I personally enjoyed these! What sets me off the most, however, is the fact that I’m having to pay so much money (7 dollars a pint) to effectively get HALF as much ice cream as I should (grams wise). The whole “90 calories per 125ml” concept is gimmicky in nature and the fact that their branding propagates this “go ahead, eat the whole pint” mentality that is not only destructive in nature for those struggling with eating disorders, but also encourages you to eat the whole thing so you can buy more pints and give them more money…is just a bit too immoral for me lmfao.

So will I be buying this stuff again? Likely not, because I don’t have the kind of budget to pay so much for so little actual ice cream, but I’ll enjoy the rest of these two pints for sure! If I’m going to drop the big bucks on ice cream I BETTER be getting some fat ass MFing chocolate brownie Ben & Jerrys ok?? Or I could support local business and grab some exotic Asian ice cream at Moo Shu Ice Cream instead! Don’t get me wrong, Halo Top Ice Cream is a genius idea and brilliant invention for an era of millennials that buy shit just because of the packaging (whoops…guilty!) and count calories over dollars spent. But even I have my standards when it comes to millennial branding, and I’d say that this is where I draw the line.

Black Squirrel Books & Espresso Bar | & Menu

Black Squirrel Books is a cute little used bookstore and cafe located in Old Ottawa South. It’s super close to Carleton’s campus (about a 10-15 minute walk) so it’s the perfect spot to hang out before class and study over some coffee while taking in the down-to-earth vibes of the place. There HAS to be a correlation between how effectively you study and how a e s t h e t i c your study venue is right? Either way, this certainly beats studying on campus, and it’s pretty quiet too!

 

BlackSquirrelBooks
Black Squirrel Books

Being the true Canadian that I am, I opted for an iced coffee despite the fact that it was cold asf and snowing yesterday. I was actually pretty disappointed to see that my coffee wasn’t served in a mason jar the way I’ve seen it served on their Instagram, but I was even MORE disappointed over the fact that I even got disappointed for such a minute reason in the first place. I’m being consumed by millennial culture, help.

As always, Ben just got a black coffee. L A M E

Black Squirrel Ottawa
They carry a lot of donuts from local Ottawa vendors!

Both my coffee and donut were really good (when would they ever NOT be???), 11/10 would recommend.

BlackSquirrelCafe
A pic of the cafe portion of Black Squirrel.

The workspace tends to air on the crowded side, but we also showed up at a peak time (around 2pm). You can’t see it in the pictures because the coffee grinders are in the way, but if you gravitate towards where the bookshelves are in the back, there are more tables and subsequent spaces to study.

Black Squirrel Cafe
Past the cafe part of the place are the used books!

Aside from being a study and hangout space, this venue is also a used bookstore. Ben and I have gotten a bunch of our books from here. We’ve been to a couple used bookstores around town and I’d say that Black Squirrel Books has the most reasonable prices (that we’ve seen anyways). They also have a lot of modern and popular books like “milk & honey” and “flux” and all that tumblr shit here if you are into all that stuff. Man, how the FUCC does “milk and honey” have a 4.2 on goodreads WHILST ma boi Shakespeare over here rocking a measly 3.7 for “Romeo & Juliet” eh? Maybe the English-Lit snob in me rearing its ugly head when I say this but I just find that that is a GROSS injustice in the realm of literature. But I’ll save that unpopular opinion rant for a rainy day.

BlackSquirrelBooks

Black Squirrel Ottawa
Black Squirrel

The one decked-out flower wall is the coolest decorative feature of the place in my opinion. It was put together by Leah Gibson, a really talented florist in the Ottawa area (check out more of her work here)!

Black Squirrel Ottawa
This dried plant wall is my fav feature of the cafe

Black Squirrel Menu

Here is a lil’ peak at their drinks menu! They have a HUGE assortment of teas and coffees, as well as beers and wines in case you want to get turnt while studying for finals. Jk, don’t do that shit, these beverages are probably for more refined folks or people attending Black Squirrel’s late-night live events and performances.

Not like our poor asses could afford a 40 dollar bottle of red anyways.

BlackSquirrelMenu
Black Squirrel Menu – Coffees and teas and such
Black Squirrel Menu
Black Squirrel Menu – not coffees and teas ;p

Much like all local Ottawa venues, this place sources their roasted coffee from Ottawa, their beers ciders and spirits are from Ontario and their sodas from Quebec.

Their Local Suppliers:

  • Nona’s Bakery
  • Strawberry Blonde (vegan & gluten free)
  • Life of Pie
  • Buttercream Bakery
  • Doughbaby Doughnuts

Their Local Roasteries:

  • Blue Barn
  • Cloud Forest
  • Little Victories Coffee

All in all the Black Squirrel is a super cute venue to check out, whether you are looking to study for a bit, grab a couple used books or hang out and eat local artisan goods with friends.

Love Beauty & Planet | REVIEW

Love Beauty And Planet
Love Beauty And Planet

I ran out of my conditioner the other day so I went to shoppers drug mart to look for a new one. Turns out, my regular conditioner was not on sale (tragic, I know) while this NEW line of shampoos/conditioners were! I’ve heard so many good things about the newly-released brand “Love Beauty and Planet” so I figured I’d give them a try!

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I’ve always tried to make it a habit of mine to be aware of the products that I use. Specifically, I find that the ethics and mission statements of the brands, companies, and manufacturers that I buy things from, as well as the ingredients that go into those very things, are important factors that matter a lot to me when I decide to use certain products. I may not be living a zero-waste and vegan lifestyle, but I try my best to remain conscious of the material objects that I utilize and the impacts that their usage has on the rest of the world.

That’s how I was able to justify the $12 CAN price tag ($10 on sale!) on each of these bottles (I’m more of a 3 dollar shampoo, 30 dollar leave-in product kind of gal to be completely honest with you).

Love Beauty & Planet Shampoo
Coconut Oil & Yland-Ylang Conditioner!

Love Beauty and Planet is a new company that creates vegan, plant-based products that are packaged in 100% recycled plastic (that’s why their bottles are all slightly tinted!). Likewise, the bottles are also 100% recyclable!

The essential oils and extracts that go into their products are ethically sourced in ways that safeguard the environment while promoting good production practices. Plus, they don’t test on animals! While I personally support the notion of animal-testing that has been approved by an ethics board to further the medical and scientific frontier, I find that testing on animals for cosmetic purposes is completely unnecessary, and I’m honestly pretty surprised to hear that cosmetic companies still resort to these nonessential measures.

Their shampoo and conditioner line is paraben, silicone and dye-free! The pair that I got is of the “coconut oil and ylang ylang” variety, which is supposed to be their duo for dry and d a m a g e d (aka me) hair.

Love Beauty and Planet
Coconut Oil & Yland-Ylang Shampoo!

Good ethics aside, the shampoo and conditioner certainly perform to the standards that you would find in a similar price bracket. Plus, they smell heavenly! For me, that’s always a bonus, seeing as I can usually condition and replenish my hair with my holy grail leave-in hair treatments anyways, but the SMELL that these products leave is undoubtedly one of the best features.

Seeing as it is Love Beauty And Planet‘s objective to minimize their consumers’ ecological footprint, it comes as no surprise to hear that their products are “fast-rinse”, meaning you don’t need to wait very long in the shower for the conditioner to absorb into your hair before you can wash it off! I can attest to the validity of this claim, as I only waited for about a minute (instead of my usual 2 or 3) while I washed my face and body before finally washing the conditioner off, and it still accomplished everything a conditioner should!

Shorter shower times mean more time in your day for other important activities, and less water wasted, so it’s essentially a win-win situation!

I even made a point to not add anything else to my hair after I showered, and my hair was smooth and nourished with just the shampoo and conditioner alone, no leave-in-treatments required!

All in all, I’m very impressed with this new line, and will definitely be looking into their other products, like their body washes and body butters!

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For more information, check out their website, and their other socials:

Website: https://www.lovebeautyandplanet.com/ca/en/home.html
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LoveBeautyandPlanet/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lovebeautyandplanet/

 

 

Arlington Five

Yesterday I stopped by Arlington 5 with Ben before class to grab my essential second cup of coffee so that I could ensure that my eyes would stay open during my evening classes (WHOMSTever thought it was a good idea to have 6-9pm classes was grossly half-witted). If you haven’t checked this cute and cozy cafe yet I highly recommend that you do! The atmosphere is super snug without being overly crowded, and there are tons of cute accents throughout the shop that truly liven it up – from adorable little succulents to the unique drawings and paintings of local Ottawa talent.

Arlington Five
ArlingtonFive

Arlington Five is right next door to the widely-loved brunch spot: “Wilf & Adas”, and it’s actually run by the same people! While waiting for a table to open up at Wilf & Adas (because that place is ALWAYS bustling), you can actually put your name on the waitlist and then wait next door at Arlington 5 and order your drinks. When you get the text message that your table is ready next door, you are even allowed to bring your cups and plates right over to the restaurant! It’s a really nifty idea if you ask me, since customers can get started on their drinks and wait in a cozy cafe while their table for brunch opens up!

Arlington Five Cafe
Cappuccino & drip coffee! The usual!

I wasn’t particularly hungry, and I also knew that if I ate anything before taking the OC Transpo to campus I would likely throw up. I swear to god those drivers HAVE to be driving THAT BADLY on purpose. The fact that the plethora of cracks and mounds on the old streets in the Glebe resemble the terrain of a small mountainous region doesn’t help. So, I stuck with my usual cappuccino while Ben got a ham sandwich and a drip coffee.

Arlington Five Ottawa
A sandwich of the “Ham & Cheese” variety

If you read my 50 facts about me post you know that I have a vehement distaste for sandwiches, but, like Eleanor Roosevelt said: “do one thing every day that scares you” right? Thus, I stole a bite of Ben’s sandwich and it was pretty solid. A little too heavy-handed on the mayo for me, but still super tasty altogether.

Arlington Five Ottawa
Digging these cozy vibes ~

Arlington Five is a pretty affordable little hangout spot as well, definitely student-budget friendly! The two coffees and the sandwich came to a total of 20 dollars, plus if you order the drip coffee you get free refills!

Arlington Five Ottawa
Windowsill goals. I need more succulents in my life :’)

It so cool to live so close to so many of these nifty little cafes to spend a couple hours in before going to class. If you are from Ottawa and you happen to read this, I’d love to know where YOUR favourite coffee shops around town are! I’m always looking for more cute places to visit!

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HeadQuarters Ottawa [HQ OTTAWA]

Headquarters
Headquarters

HeadQuarters is a new cafe in the ByWard Market area with stellar vibes, DELICIOUS bites to eat, and super inviting service. HQ also doubles as a hair salon so you can watch the stylists work their magic through the glass-median that divides the two sections of the shop whilst sipping your almond-milk latte and taking pics of the marble tables, artisanal baked goods and the various succulents throughout the venue. Keep reading to hear my first impressions of HQ Ottawa and check out their menu below!!

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I knew yesterday was going to be a good day by the way the warm sun invited itself through the windows of our apartment. I knew by the way that the old senile man on the bus down to Rideau made a point in jutting his frail arm out to all the unsuspecting passengers’ faces and gracing them with his middle finger without breaking a sweat…and then proceeding to refuse the Bus driver’s demands that he kindly leave the bus given the fact that “The Rideau Centre” is indeed the last stop (bless his heart). Point being, I was already getting some pretty great vibes yesterday, and every aspect of my brunch at Headquarters really solidified those notions.

HeadQuarters had lovely service. I tend to prefer service that is outgoing and interactive enough that it’s useful and enjoyable since, on the contrary, I have a vehement distaste for service that gets over-the-top and likewise annoying. There is nothing worse than a happy-go-lucky waiter that hovers over your table every 5 minutes to ask you how you are liking those chicken wings. They are fine Arnold, thanks for asking for the THIRTEENTH time, and yes, I KNOW, I’ve decided to eat an appetizer as an entrée OK? Quit JUDGING ME!! Also, is it just me, or do you ever notice that waiters always come at the WORST times to check up on your table, like when you have a mouth full of food or while you are in the MIDDLE of telling a riveting story and then you lose your train of thought in order to say “yeah the food’s fucking great, Patricia“.

Speaking of “train of thought”, mine has evidently derailed. Whoops.
Let’s get back to HeadQuarters. There are two kinds of service on opposite poles of the spectrum: laid-back V.S high strung. Headquarters is undoubtedly the former, and I’m sure the leading reason behind this attitude stems from the fact that the employees seem to really love their jobs. That would explain why their service and interactions with you as a customer are so seamless and inviting – because they are genuine, not forced!

HQ Cafe
Almond Milk Latte for me and an Americano for ma boi

The venue is very spacious and it looks lovely! There MUST have been another blogger or social influencer of sorts there at the same time as I because there was this guy who was standing for about an hour in various locations throughout the store trying to NAIL the perfect Instagram pic. It was a combination of his unwavering dedication and the venue’s many aesthetically pleasing layouts that made his coffee go cold no doubt. But seriously, along with that great service, the interior design of this place is on-point!

HeadQuarters Cafe
An aesthetically-pleasing brunch spread

And lastly, let us talk about the FOOD. I follow a lot of Ottawa bloggers in the area that have already paid a visit to HQ, and most of them have ordered the classic: “Avocado On Toast”. I fulfilled my millennial calling by following suit, and ordering some avocado toast for myself, while Ben had a “Bacon, Prosciutto and Ham Sandwich” made with local and naturally cured meats.

HeadQuarters Cafe Ottawa
Headquarter’s “Avocado On Toast”. A millennial’s dream

I had two choices of bread to have the avocado spread on, “White Sourdough” or a wholegrain variety called “Crazy Loaf”, which is what I ended up getting (one of the employees who heard my order said that that loaf was his favourite). Ben had way more options of bread for his sandwich so I couldn’t keep track of them all, but he ended up getting a rosemary and herb variety of bun.

HeadQuartersOttawa
Best Avocado Toast I’ve ever had. 10/10 would recommend

My avocado toast consisted of the usual suspects: avocado on some “crazy loaf” toast, as well as a Panko flash fried poached egg on a bed of fresh arugula!

HeadQuarters Ottawa Cafe
Check out that yolk action

Look at this GOODNESS!!

HQ Cafe Ottawa
*SCREAM*

Below is a pic of Ben’s Sandwich. I had a few bites and it was delicious! He was really contemplating getting an avocado toast for himself because he’s a big fan of eggs with toast (more than he is avocado on toast ahaha) and all things panko-fried, but he’s an even bigger fan of sandwiches that are damn good.

HeadQuarters Cafe Food
Ben’s Sandwich!

Aside from these more hearty foods, there is also an assortment of breads and pastries (including the breads that were used in our dishes) that you can order in the store that come from “Art-Is-In Bakery“, a Parisian-inspired local Ottawa gastro-pub bakery that exports it’s baked goods across Ottawa. Judging from the tags on Instagram, it looks like their “Kronuts” are a fav!

HQOttawa
I’m ready to go back for seconds now

I highly recommend this place for all of the aspects that is has to offer! I look forward to trying out all the other items on the menu in due time!

dividerHeadquarter’s Menu:

Headquarters Menu
Headquarters Menu

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Check out Headquarters’ socials below:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hqottawa/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hqottawa/
Website: http://hqottawa.com/