July 30, 2015

GIVEAWAY: Win a Festival Survival Kit! {CLOSED}

This post was sponsored by Johnson & Johnson Inc.

Here in BC, festival season is well underway, what with the Pemberton Music Festival that just passed and the Squamish Valley Music Festival happening next week. Since camping and being outdoors is all part of fun, it's important to be fully prepared so you can spend your time enjoying the entertainment rather than worrying unnecessarily. That's where this Festival Survival Kit comes in!

If you're attending an outdoor event or music festival, you probably already bring along items like AVEENO® sunscreen and waterproof bandages from BAND-AID® Brand. However, there are lots of other products that can enhance your experience by keeping you clean, refreshed, and protected throughout the day(s). For example, LISTERINE® Pocket Paks when you want to prolong your enjoyment of the music instead of trying to find somewhere to brush your teeth, or BENADRYL® Itch Stick for relief from mosquito bites.

Thanks to Johnson & Johnson Inc., I'm excited to be able to offer one Festival Survival Kit (worth over $200) to a lucky reader. The winner will receive:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Contest is open to Canadian residents, excluding Quebec. Must be 18 or older to enter. Winner will be chosen at random. The winner will be required to provide their contact information, sign a release, answer 3 questions related to Johnson & Johnson Inc. products, and answer a mathematical skill-testing question in order to receive their prize.

July 27, 2015

Turquoise Wall

My Chanel Mini Flap has been getting a lot of use lately (see here and here), so I wanted to give some love to the bag that will forever hold a special place in my heart: my Chanel M/L Classic Flap. Recognizing how dramatic this sounds given the fact that we're talking about purses here, I'm sure some of my fellow purse addicts will understand. Aside from my bike, it really is one of my most prized material possessions.

Top: Wilfred (Aritzia) / Jeans: Frame Denim (here)
Shoes: Bloch (here) / Bag: Chanel

July 24, 2015

Scent Trunk

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Will, the CEO of a small Canadian start-up called Scent Trunk, to see if I'd like to try out their custom curated monthly fragrance box. I have been trying to make a habit of wearing perfume on a regular basis so I was excited to see what Will and his team have come up with.

For $18 USD/month, each subscriber will receive 3 fragrance samples that have been specially selected based on a personalized scent profile (when you sign up, you fill out a survey that helps determine your likes and dislikes). Scent Trunk specializes exclusively in niche and indie fragrances so what you receive will likely be something completely new and different that you've never heard of. I love this idea because it means the likelihood of someone else on the street wearing the same scent as me is very low.

In my box, I received the following three fragrances: Ballets Rouges by Olympic Orchids, Pink Peony by Note Fragrances, and Ciel Woman by Amouage. I have never heard of any of these perfume companies before but Scent Trunk includes some handy note cards to go along with each fragrance that set out full descriptions, including the various notes, what time of day is recommended for wearing, longevity, and sillage.

I really like all three of the fragrance samples I received, particulary Pink Peony and Ciel Woman. They are both light and floral with a bit of freshness. Ballets Rouges is not something I would normally go for since it's a vintage-style rose perfume with oakmoss elements, but I am glad I got to try it out because I never would have otherwise.

If you're a fragrance lover, Scent Trunk is a fun way to experiment and if you end up liking what you're sent, there's always the option of purchasing a full-size bottle from their online shop. Plus, once you subscribe, you'll also receive lots of interesting information on fragrance through the company's Scent School e-mails. I especially love the FAQs, which have taught me quite a few things I didn't know. For example, the "spray and walk through" method was created in 1971 by the Estée Lauder Company when they released the Super Perfume Aromatics Elixir by Clinique. That perfume had longevity and sillage ratings of 5 (out of 5), but most fragrances are much weaker. In order to avoid wasting product, it is therefore recommended to spray directly onto your "hotspots". The more you know, right?

July 21, 2015

Day to Night with Charlotte Tilbury's "The Glamour Muse" Look

After watching numerous British beauty bloggers and vloggers rave about Charlotte Tilbury, I could not be more excited for the brand's recent launch here in Canada (exclusively at Holt Renfrew). A world-famous makeup artist with over 20 years of experience in the industry, Charlotte Tilbury's makeup line offers us beauty addicts a range of innovative products with amazing pigmentation and great packaging. I seriously want everything.

At the heart of the makeup collection are 10 signature looks, and I was lucky enough to be sent The Glamour Muse set to play with. Inspired by the 1970s disco era and icons like Jerry Hall and Diane Von Furstenburg, this look is super glam with a wearable daytime look that can be amped up for a night on the town.

This look is obviously named after the Luxury Palette in Glamour Muse, a colour-coded eyeshadow palette that contains 4 shades. The lightest shade is intended to "Prime", the second lightest shade is to "Enhance", the deep purple is the "Pop" and the taupe is used to "Smoke." These shadows are really nicely pigmented and apply like a dream.

In addition to the palette, Charlotte has curated a number of other products from her line to go with it. These include the Rock 'N' Kohl Iconic Liquid Eyeliner Pencil in Barbarella Brown, Full Fat Lashes Mascara in Glossy Black, and the Cheek to Chic Swish & Pop Blusher in Love Glow.

For daytime, The Glamour Muse uses only 3 of the eyeshadows from the palette (the purple is saved for adding the "Pop" obviously). It's fairly neutral, right up my alley in terms of everyday makeup, and I would absolutely wear this to work. 

I especially love the Lip Cheat Re-Shape & Re-Size Lip Liner in Pillow Talk, which is a great MLBB colour, topped with Lip Lustre Lip Lacquer in Candy Darling. This gloss somehow manages to be super shiny but not sticky at all.

For night, only a few small additions are necessary. Using my fingers, as per Charlotte's instructions, I added a wash of the purple shadow all over my lids. Next time, however, I think I will use a brush and pack it on since I really hate using fingers to apply eyeshadow.

I then added some more liner and an extra coat of the Full Fat Lashes, before finishing off with the K.I.S.S.I.N.G. Fallen From The Lipstick Tree in Velvet Underground. Ordinarily, I don't wear deep fuschia pinks like this but I find I always get compliments when I do (examples here and here)... so maybe this is something I need to wear more often?

If you want to get this look yourself (or any of the 9 others), Charlotte has helpfully filmed a series of Youtube tutorials showing you exactly what to do. I followed along to create the FOTDs in this post and found her instructions incredibly easy to understand.

Charlotte Tilbury can be found in Canada exclusively at Holt Renfrew in Toronto and Vancouver or online.

July 19, 2015

Vacationing in Vienna

After spamming you all with Budapest posts (here, here, here, and here), I figured I should probably move onto recapping the final stop from last month's vacay -- Vienna. At less than 3 hours away by train from Budapest, it was an easy decision to tack a short visit onto the end of my trip.

With less than two days in the city, and because I love cycling, I opted for a morning bike tour around the Ringstraße (Ring Road). This ended up being a great way to get some exercise and see all the main attractions, including the Hofburg Imperial Palace, Karlskirche, the statue of Mozart in the Burggarten, and the Staatsoper.

We also ventured outside of the Ringstraße for a short ride along the Danube to Hundertwasserhaus, an expressionist apartment house co-designed by the Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser.

For those who are interested in learning more about the lives of royals, the Schönbrunn Palace is located a short train ride away from the city centre. It's a seriously impressive palatial complex, complete with gardens, pavilions, and sculptures.

Lastly, a visit to the Hotel Sacher was on my to-do list in order to try their Sacher-Torte. Apparently dubbed the most famous chocolate cake in the world, the Sacher-Torte is a dense chocolate cake with a thin layer of apricot jam and covered in dark chocolate icing. Personally I prefer more moist, fluffy cakes but it was still quite good.

And that's it -- my 2015 Eurotrip recaps are now complete. Coupled with my California trip in April (also here and here), I'm sadly almost all maxed out on vacation days for the year. However, I really can't complain... I've been to some super fun places!

July 16, 2015

Pride Nails

You may remember that I sported these rainbow skittles nails a few years back to attend Pride Parade (I really can't say "no" to a good themed mani). Now this year, thanks to Pride Nails, I'll be able to save precious nail painting time while also supporting the Vancouver Pride Society.

White Nail Polish: AVON Iceberg White / Rings: House of Hudson (c/o)

Designed in collaboration with Incoco, proceeds of these 100% real nail polish strips go back to the Vancouver Pride Society, a non-profit organization that brings together the LGBTQ community and its friends and allies through local events like East Side Pride, the Sunset Beach Festival, and of course, the world-famous Vancouver Pride Parade. Through the sale of Pride Nails, the Vancouver Pride Society hopes to raise over $20,000 for the Pride Legacy Fund, which provides scholarships and support for the youth in our communities.

2015 has obviously been a historic year with respect to marriage equality, given the recent same-sex marriage referendum in Ireland and the U.S. Supreme Court decision on gay marriage. I'm so glad other countries are finally taking steps towards greater equality in this regard, although we still have a long way to go in terms of LGBTQ rights generally. I know it may not be much, but every little show of support helps.

Find Pride Nails in stores (only if you're in Vancouver) or online.

July 13, 2015

Like A Cat

I've been doing quite a bit of experimentation with sunglasses recently, from different styles to materials, and it's been especially easy thanks to e-tailers like Polette Eyewear. Last Fall, you may remember I tried out some of their round frames and this summer I've been wearing the Duffin Sunglasses. Admittedly, these are more unconventional than I'm used to, given their cat-like shape, but that's all part of the fun. Plus, they are lightweight and the gold complements summer tanned skin perfectly.

P.S. The lovely people at Polette are offering one of my readers a pair of sunglasses of their choice. Scroll down for all the details on how to enter the giveaway!

Crop Top: Wilfred Free (Aritzia) (in different colours) / Skirt: Topshop (similar)
Sandals: Gravitypope / Bag: Chanel / Sunglasses: Polette (c/o)

... Want to win a pair of Polette sunglasses for yourself? 

All you have to do is follow Polette on Instagram and Twitter, and like them on Facebook. Then leave a comment here with a link to the sunglasses you'd pick from the Polette website if you win. Winner will be drawn randomly. Giveaway ends July 23.


July 10, 2015

Budapest: Thermal Baths, Cafes, and Ruin Pubs

As a follow-up to this post, which focused more on the city and architecture in Budapest, I wanted to share a few of my favourite activities and places from my recent vacation. There is seriously so much to do and it's all pretty inexpensive, especially compared to other countries like those in Western Europe.

At the top of my to-do list was visiting the thermal baths. Budapest has been referred to as the "City of Baths" and I wanted to pack as many spa days into my trip as I could (#treatyoself). Our first was at the Széchenyi Thermal Baths, which features 18 indoor and outdoor pools. Naturally, we had to spring for the upgrade package which granted us entrance to the Pálmaház with its hammocks and complimentary fresh fruit plates.

The Gellért Baths are located in the Hotel Gellért on the Buda side of the Danube. Another famous bath complex, it's smaller than Széchenyi but known for its beautiful Art Nouveau style.

Being from Vancouver, where coffee addictions run rampant, it was nice to find that cafe culture was prevalent throughout the city and there were many to pick from. The more "hipster" include Massolit Books & Café and Café Csiga, where I had the most delicious coffee and breakfast.

We also paid a visit to Lotz Terem, a hidden gem of a cafe located in the ALEXANDRA Bookstore. Isn't the ceiling absolutely stunning?

I didn't do any shopping in Budapest aside from gifts and souvenirs (shocking, I know). However, we did check out some lovely vintage stores, like Ludovika Shop.

And, of course, a visit to Budapest could not have gone by without a sampling of their amazing nightlife. Ruin pubs are located in abandoned apartment buildings, factories, and department stores, and are outfitted with rejected furniture, crazy artwork, and other cool knickknacks. Many feature multiple rooms and are open till 6 a.m. I feel like I'm far beyond the typical clubbing age now but this was seriously the most fun I've had partying... maybe ever.

The pictures below are from Instant, a multi-room labyrinth of a club that had DJs spinning tracks in different themed rooms. So fun. We also checked out Szimpla Kert, the city's first ruin pub, and 360 Bar which is not a ruin pub but an outdoor bar located on the roof of a highrise building giving a crazy view of the city.

That's it for my Budapest vacation re-cap (can I just go back already?), but I will have one more travel diary coming up soon from my short stay in Vienna!

July 8, 2015

İznik-inspired Tulip Print

Told you I was obsessed with matching top/short co-ordinates! I love the tulip print on this set, which appears to be inspired by the patterns on İznik pottery, Turkish wares that were very popular in the 16th century.

I wore this outfit on the first of my two visits to Buda Castle. I posted some other pictures from Buda Castle in this Budapest vacation re-cap, but as you can see, the grounds also offer a stunning view of Pest across the Danube from the various lookout points.

Top and Shorts: Zara / Sandals: Fly London (in different colours)
Bag: Longchamp (here) / Sunglasses: Ray-Ban (here)

July 5, 2015

Sunscreen Showdown

Okay, this isn't really a "showdown" as much as it is a run-down of the sunscreens I've been using lately. Vancouver has been having a bit of a heatwave (understatement), and I have naturally been spending a ton of time at the beach. But even when I'm not at the beach, I have still been slathering on the sunscreen. I read an article in a British magazine while on vacation about all these girls who got melanoma despite taking precautions and it kind of freaked me out. Since I have been a bit more lax about it in the past, this summer I am taking my sun protection VERY seriously.

I was gifted a bunch of sunscreens from Avène a few months ago and took them with me on my recent European adventures. The Avène Très Haute Protection SPF 50+ (white tube) is a mineral sunscreen that is specially formulated for the most sensitive of skin types. Mineral sunscreens provide the best tolerance as they don't penetrate the skin, and this particular one is also paraben-free and water resistant. I put the water resistance to the test while enjoying the outdoor thermal baths in Budapest and was pleased to find the water beading off my skin. However, the formula is very thick and because it doesn't absorb, it kind of sits on the surface of your skin. As such, I would recommend this more for paler girls because it leaves a white cast which looks weird if you're more tan like I currently am. I have since switched over to the Avène Haute Protection SPF 50+ (orange tube) which has a much lighter formula that does not leave me with a visible white cast. It's also paraben-free and water resistant, and I especially like the spray bottle which makes for easy application.

On days when I want something a little lighter and more tropical, I have been turning to my Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration SPF 30. I've been using this brand on/off for years and I usually always return to it because I love the scent and the moisturizing crème ribbons. This particular bottle is travel-size which I love because I can just throw it in my bag or purse and it takes up next to no room.

In terms of face sunscreens, I've been rotating a few different ones. First, my HG Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Water-Light SPF 60 which I reviewed ages ago (check that post for my thoughts since they still hold true). I was recently sent a bottle of the La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Fluid SPF 60 and actually find it quite similar to the Neutrogena. The formula is a milky fluid that is light, absorbs easily and makes a great base for makeup. Plus, it's paraben-free, fragrance-free, and water resistant, so basically all the good stuff you want in a face sunscreen.

I have also been experimenting with SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50. I have reviewed another SkinCeuticals product before and was impressed so it's no surprise that I really like this one too. Although it has the usual sunscreen features like being paraben-free and water resistant, what's most interesting to me is the fact that it's tinted. It reminds me a lot of a BB cream so I've been wearing it on "no makeup" days (quotes because let's be real, there's always some makeup), but it can also be worn under foundation to achieve a super even and radiant complexion. This sunscreen is also formulated with artemia salina, a plankton extract, to increase skin's defenses and resistance to UV and heat stress. Not sure if my skin has actually been building up its defenses but I do like the idea of it.

July 2, 2015

Budapest: City and Architecture

Budapest has been on my bucket list for a few years and having now been, I cannot recommend it enough. In fact, it's definitely on my list of the top 5 favourite cities I've ever visited (and I've travelled a lot). There was so much to do and see that I found myself wishing I could stay longer but even still, I think we managed to pack a good mix of sightseeing and activities into our time there.

Since there are so many photos, I've decided to split my vacation re-cap into different parts. This first part will focus more on the city itself and all of the gorgeous architecture. Seriously, how beautiful is this place?

(First view from atop Gellert Hill, second from atop Buda Castle)

Numerous bridges cross the Danube, connecting the hilly Buda with the flatter and more bustling Pest. Perhaps the most iconic is the Széchenyi Chain Bridge with its guardian lions on one end, but I also loved the Liberty Bridge.

On the Buda side, one of the most popular attractions is Buda Castle. This historical castle and palace complex is huge and we spent hours roaming the grounds. We also had to take a ride on the Castle Hill Funicular, which seems to have served as inspiration for the one in "The Grand Budapest Hotel."

Budapest has an incredibly rich history being the second capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and as you can imagine, is home to a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. I personally loved admiring all the historical buildings, of which there are many. Just a few, for example: the Hungarian Parliament Building, Dohány Street Synagogue, and St. Stephen's Basilica.

There are, of course, spots of nature for people to enjoy as well. We spent some time roaming around the City Park, which I mentioned in this post, and also paid a visit to Margaret Island. This small island is located in the middle of the Danube and accessible by bridge. We decided to rent this hilarious mini peddle car which we rode around the island, stopping to check out the ruins and gardens along the way.

Unfortunately I was unable to include all the sights in this post (it would be so long and take a million years to load). Stay tuned for my next re-cap where I'll share some of the other things I got up to -- think eats, drinks, and other fun!

P.S. Although I spent 5 days in London before I headed to Budapest, I will not be doing a re-cap since I did one a few years ago (check it out here if you're interested). To be honest, most of my time in London was spent visiting family anyway, but I did manage to catch a showing of The Book of Mormon and viewed the absolutely breathtaking Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty Exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum. If you get a chance to see Savage Beauty, you absolutely must go.

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