January Budget Check-In

2015-Budget-Plan-Jan

I am a little late on this one, but it has been a crazy week.

For January, we decided to buy only what we needed and get a better idea of how much to spend.  We tried to limit ourselves to one grocery shop per week (usually I visit several so I can look for coupons, but end up with more of those random purchases).  We were a little hampered by the fact that our flyers were only delivered once in January.  While I can view them online, I find you miss items that you find when going through the paper copies.  Sometimes they show one item but the description lists others, this is smaller on the e-copies so they are often missed.

We meal planned once we made a list of what was on sale for the week and used up a fair amount of our stockpiled food, but spent less than $65 per week on grocery shops and another $15 during the week picking up milk/bread.  We still ate out twice and grabbed some coffees (tea for me) and occasional food on the go.  I got a bagel in the morning a few times when I was running late for work, he is terrible for coffee and a donut but we cut our overall spending on food/drinks in half.  We spent just $500 for the month on shopping/food expenses, including dinner out and cat food/litter (they have expensive tastes) and I had $40 cash left in my wallet.

Our regular expenses did not change much, a little less on travel since gas prices are down and we went out less.  We spent a lot less on entertainment since we didn’t go out other than dinner twice, no movies etc.  We cancelled our newspaper subscription (less about saving money more about their service) and did not renew our three magazine subscriptions.

We did not buy much that had cash-back (made $12 in cashback rebates from the various apps) and actually used few coupons.  I did a $87 Shoppers Drug Mart shop and earned enough points back using my personalized coupons to spend $55 at bonus redemption.  Plus I got 100 bonus Air Miles from a Staples order I made for work because my boss doesn’t have an Air Miles card.

I slacked on my goal to get back into Swagbucks and Superpoints making enough to redeem for $5 on Swagbucks and enough for a $10 Amazon gift card (but I am saving for the new Tim Hortons rewards which cost more points but we will use it).  Still extra money is extra money.  I also got $5 in Air Miles Cash as a bonus for transferring my Sobeys points to my Air Miles card before they make the switch.

I won some makeup and a blender from contests/twitter parties and received lots of the items I won in December (that Campbell’s food hamper was amazing, I found my new favourite cookies).

My goal to stay out of the mall actually worked!  I have also resisted trips to Target to check out liquidation deals, partly because I know prices will drop lower and partly because I need to wean myself off Target shopping before they close.

I am fairly sure we can spend less than $500 a month but it works for us, we don’t feel constricted at that amount and there are some things we just don’t want to cut back on.  As more coupons come available, we will likely spend much less too as we use them too.  I do want to maximize swagbucks etc, I can click while doing other things, I just haven’t bothered.  Overall, I am happy with how January went.  It is typically a miserable month where I am more likely to shop than go out because of the weather so it was good to cut that spending too.

Are you still on track with your budgeting goals?

Refresh Your Makeup Bag For $35 – That Stuff Expires You Know!

Refresh Your Make Up Bag For $35 with Essence

A friend recently decided she is ready to start dating again after the breakup of her marriage last year.  She has a date coming up and wanted some help refreshing her makeup – something she rarely wore while married.  She said she was on a budget and could afford $50 to refresh her makeup bag and she had the basics just needed a refresh.  So off we went in search of her makeup bag, which we found in her daughter’s room and I am pretty sure her daughter has got more use out of the makeup than she ever did.

As we went through looking at each to see if they were usable and matched to decide what we needed to buy, she mentioned that she wore some of them on her first date with her ex-husband – seven years ago!  While I will admit to keeping makeup past the recommended expiry times, years too long is too much for me.

Makeup Expiry Times

  • Liquid Foundation or Concealer — 6 to 12 months (less if it is a pot you stick your fingers in, you increase the chance of spreading bacteria so look for a pump style or tube)
  • Powder foundation – Up to 2 years
  • Cream Blush or Eyeshadow — 6 to 12 months
  • Powder Blush and Eyeshadow — 1 year
  • Mascara — 3-6 months (throw it out if you get an eye infection)
  • Liquid Eyeliner — 6 months or less (throw it out if you get an eye infection)
  • Eyeliner and Lipliner Pencils — Up to 2 years (again throw them out if you get an eye infection or coldsore)
  • Lipstick — 1 year (again with the coldsore)

Yes, most makeup should be thrown out within a year of opening!  She agreed to let me throw it all – but reminded me of her budget for replacing it all.  Not an easy feat, so off we went to Shoppers Drug Mart in search of two things clearance and an Essence display.  The first store was a bust, they had neither but we hit the jackpot on the second.

We picked up a Covergirl foundation on clearance at Target for just $4.84 and a pale pink Sinful Colors nail polish for just $1.99 – will go with anything and sheer enough that she isn’t freaking out because kids and nail polish do not go together according to her.  Shoppers Drug Mart had Covergirl pressed powder for $3.99 (I picked one up for myself at that price).  We were a little over $12 with taxes at that point and she needed everything else but the price of makeup adds up!  So, on to the Essence rack for everything else!

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We picked up the All About Nude eye shadow palette for just $4.99 – and colours she will actually use!  I <3 Stage eye shadow base/primer ($3.49) because she gets makeup caked in the crease of her eye.  Lash Mania waterproof mascara ($4.99) because she is low maintenance and and doesn’t want raccoon eyes on her first date!  Finally two Stays No Matter What thick eye pencils/shadow ($2.99 ea) in a dark green and brown to darken the look of the eye shadow palette should she go for a smokey eye (working on that) and a regular old kajal pencil ($1.49) if she doesn’t.

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Then the basics in nude colours, a lip liner ($1.49), Barely There lipstick ($2.99) and a XXXL shine lipgloss ($2.49) plus a nice pink blush ($2.99).  We were just under $35 including taxes on the rest of the makeup and she had change left from her $50 which we spent on a new makeup bag from Dollarama and I treated her to a bottle of perfume using my Optimum points.

You can’t guarantee the prices on the clearance items, and personally I go for a higher end foundation (mostly because most drug store ones don’t match my pink toned skin, why are they so yellow?) but you can refresh the basics for cheap with Essence and not cry when it comes to the makeup bag cleanup at the end of the year.

The Essence of Affordability: Four Nail Polishes For $10?

I was planning a beauty stock up shop this past weekend when I saw that Shoppers Drug Mart was offering 20x Optimum points, but decided to stock up on some Essence when they sent me a weekly coupon for an extra 20x points on Essence nail polishes.  Essence nail polishes are already super affordable at $2-3 each but with 40x Optimum points, they are crazy cheap.

If you haven’t tried Essence polishes, do not be put off by the price tag, it does not mean that they are your typical cheap polish that chips quickly.  Essence have somehow managed an affordable brand that maintains the quality of higher priced brands.

Essence Nail Polish: Me & My Lover Sparkle Sand Effect Swatches

Essence Sparkle Sand Me & My Lover

I am not the hugest fan of red polish, but Essence’s Me & My Lover is one of my favourites – even over some of the expensive polishes I own.  I keep a bottle in my desk at work in case I need a polish change.  At only $1.99, it is super affordable and great quality.  I can usually wear it for 2-3 days before removing it (which is probably as long as I wear a single colour anyway).

Me & My Lover is a Sparkle Sand textured polish, but is priced the same as their regular polishes.  It is a beautiful pink leaning tomato red with a gold sparkle that doesn’t overpower the red.  As you can see, the colour varies by lighting.  It appears very red in the shade but the pink, as well as gold glitter,  shows in brighter light.

While there is no top coat in my pictures to show the texture, this looks absolutely amazing with top coat, and really brings out the gold.  The texture is rough but not overly bumpy and a regular top coat will even out the surface if you are one of those people who can’t stand not having smooth nails.

Essence Nail Polish Jean Sugar Effect Blue-Jeaned Swatches

Essence Jean Sugar Blue-Jeaned

Another one of my favourites that I was buying a replacement bottle.  Essence’s Jean Sugar in Blue-Jeaned is more of an effect polish than textured but it is not completely smooth.  You may want a top coat which I think takes away from the denim like finish so I just deal with the slightly rough finish.  This has a dark blue denim base with gold and silver microglitter that while not overly sparkly, gives it that denim look with a girly twist.

The best thing about Essence’s Blue-Jeaned?  You can get away with one coat!  I typically use two to give it a deeper look, but if you are in a rush, a thick coat dries pretty quickly and looks great.

Blue-Jeaned is one of their effect/texture coats so priced at $2.99 – very affordable compared to other denim like polishes.

Essence Nail Polish Girls Night Out Swatches

Essence Colour & Go Girls Night Out

While the shades above have been around for a while and are twwo of my favourites, I also picked up Girls Night Out, one of their newer Colour & Go shades priced at $1.99.  This shade has a pink shimmer included that while obvious in the bottle, is barely noticeable on the nail unless in bright light but gives it a beautiful shine.

This one goes on a little streaky, so aim not to do too many brush strokes.  Luckily, it includes their amazing fat little flat brush (seriously $10 polishes could learn a thing or two from Essence’s brushes) so you can cover the nail easily without too many brush strokes.  This came out as a fall/winter shade for 2014 but is more of a summer shade in my opinion.

This took three coats for full coverage, unusual for Essence where two is definitely the standard.  Even at three, it was not completely opaque as you can tell from the picture taken in brighter light and it appears lighter in colour in bright light too.  More Barbie pink compared to the darker jewel tone it looked when I applied it so I wasn’t the biggest fan but then I own very few Barbie type pink polishes anyway.

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Essence Polka Dot Effect Laser Beam

I was super excited for this one, I love effect coats and Essence rarely disappoints.  Essence Laser Beam has a silver glitter base with a touch of blue/green and a chunky  blue-black polka dot.

It looks like there are loads of polka dots in the bottle, so I expected to get lots of dots with a swipe of the brush, but sadly I had to go finishing with a dotter to get enough dots.  Applying the polish using the brush gets you maybe three per nail and they are not evenly spaced, plus layering moves them around too much (you can see some spots on the close up where I put polka dots on the nail but they moved when I added another layer).

It does need a top coat, the polka dots are chunky, but it is beautiful if you are willing to add more polka dots manually with a dotter (and they pick up easily).  The images are without topcoat to show how much texture is in the bottle and using CND Thistle Thicket as a base coat.

I love the polish as it shows in the bottle, just wish I cold make it look the same on the nail.  Without using another polish as a base, the glitter was not enough to wear as a regular polish for me.  This one is just $2.99 so worth the extra minute adding extra polka dots.  If you don’t have a dotting tool, Essence sells one right beside the effect polishes!

The frugalista in me wants you to know that all four of these polishes came to under $10 before taxes and if I redeem the Optimum points earned on them at a bonus redemption at the highest level, the points are worth over $7!

Essence polishes are sold at Shoppers Drug Mart.  See the Essence nail collection here.

OPI Fifty Shades of Grey Swatches

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I was excited to get my hands on this OPI collection.  Grey polishes are some of my favourite and having a collection dedicated to them is just pure heaven especially with the mix of silver, red and sparkle thrown in. With the movie coming out soon, they are pushing Fifty Shades of Grey.  The mall had posters for the movie, the nail polish set at the cash at the beauty salon and the books up front at Chapters.  You just’t can’t get away from it.

In fairness to the review, I bought the mini set and the brushes in mini bottles are known for being harder to deal with so some of my application issues may not happen with the full size bottles.

OPI-fifty-shades-of-grey-my-silk-tieOPI Fifty Shades of Grey: My Silk Tie

This silky, gleaming silver has got me all tied up. 

I have only just got around to reading the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy (for the 2015 reading challenge) so the theme was fresh in my mind when trying the polish and I  imagined the tie to be darker, a steel type silver rather than this bright mirror silver.  That being said, it is a nice colour, kinda metallic/chrome/foil all rolled into one.  The formula on My Silk Tie is finicky.   Brush strokes and bare patches.  Adding a third coat once the second was completely dry helped with the patches but you can see the brush strokes.

Trying again, I used thicker coats and dropped the polish on the nail close but not at the cuticle and pushed it down to get better coverage. It is a pity I didn’t get this one before Christmas, I would have used it a lot in place of my regular silver but  I rarely wear silver at other times of the year

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OOPI-fifty-shades-of-grey-dark-side-of-the-moodPI Fifty Shades of Grey: Dark Side of the Mood

This brooding, stormy charcoal is dangerously gorgeous.  

I love the colour of Dark Side of the Mood but the application was horrible.  As I mentioned, this may be partly due to the brush included with the mini bottle but it was patchy, watery and moved all over the nail.  Certainly not what I have come to expect from OPI polishes.

The trick to this one is thick coats and as few brush strokes as possible to get a shiny finish with a deep dark colour.  This isn’t quite black, but it is close – a deep dark grey – almost black – with a navy undertone.  You really can’t describe it better that OPI did on the packaging.  Once you get the application right, it is beautiful on, so don’t give up after the first coat!

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OPI-fifty-shades-of-grey-romantically-involvedOPI Fifty Shades of Grey: Romantically Involved

I’m in a deep relationship with this luscious creme red.  

Red polishes and I do not get along great.  The pink tone in my skin often leaves me looking like a lobster when the red is picked up.  This is one of the few exceptions and one of the better formulations in OPI’s Fifty Shades of Grey collection.

The picture is without topcoat, and you can see how shiny the polish is and how deep the colour is with only two coats. It is definitely more of a sophisticated red than a bright red but still pops.  Of the collection, this is the only one I could see myself buying a full size bottle separately from the minis I already picked up.

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OPI-fifty-shades-of-grey-embrace-the-gray OPI Fifty Shades of Grey: Embrace The Gray

Let this chic, moody gray creme become one with you.  

Why oh why change the spelling to gray?  Yes I know it is American but stick with the Fifty shades of Grey theme?  It would have made sense, no?

The formula on Embrace The Gray was better than the others, full coverage in two thick coats.  It is your perfect darker – but not too dark – grey that will go with almost anything.  There is a clear blue tone to this polish and it appears lighter/darker according to the light.

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OPI-fifty-shades-of-grey-shine-for-meOPI Fifty Shades of Grey: Shine For Me

This shimmering silver with subtle blue sparkle really turns me on!

This polish is buildable, but it is better as an effect coat/accent nail.  It took three thick coats for full coverage building the polish and two thin ones when using it as a top coat over Cement the Deal or My Silk Tie.

It is textured with full coverage but evens out well with top coat, not quite liquid sand bumpy, just not smooth.  The blue is more obvious when used on top of a polish, when building it for ful coverage, the silver takes over.

I can see myself using this a fair bit, but on accent nails/as a top coat so the mini will be enough but I definitely recommend it.

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OPI-fifty-shades-of-grey-cement-the-dealOPI Fifty Shades of Grey: Cement The Deal

I’d sign anything to get my hands on this stony, cool gray.

Again with the gray?  Why not keep the spelling consistent OPI?  This is my kinda grey, cool toned, doesn’t make my skin look too red.  It has your typical OPI formula of coverage in two coats and was easier to apply than some of the other other greys in the collection.

It appears much lighter and cooler in bright sunlight (should start my swatches earlier in the day, and before the snow hits) and will definitely be one I will wear again.  It looks great with Shine on Me layered on top for an accent nail or and glitter pop when Shine on Me is used on all nails too.

So who is going to see the movie?

Oh Target, I Will Miss You

Target-I-will-miss-you

While I don’t disagree that Target has its problems in Canada, I will really miss it.  I was excited when I heard Target was coming to Canada, I never expected it to be just like the US stores and know that Canadian wages, transportation costs, taxes and other issues mean that few stores will have the same prices as their US counterparts.

When Target announced their preview stores, I trekked out to Milton to check it out.  Yes some of the prices were higher than I would pay, but I am a couponer and price-matcher.  To be fair, it will take a lot to impress me with your stores.  At the time, I didn’t think I would grow to love Target as much as I do.  While I am brand loyal to decent products, I am a fickle shopper.  It doesn’t take much to send me into the arms of another store who has better prices or treats me better – exactly why I kept going back to Target.

They price-matched and they didn’t look at me like I had two heads when I used a coupon, instead they offered me store coupons to stack with them. Their staff said hello, they didn’t tell me “oh yeah we have more in the back, but it is behind some stuff and I can’t be bothered” like the staff member in another big box store.  They didn’t have what I want?  They would call a local store or offer me a similar product at the sale price of the one I wanted.

I grew to love their customer service.  You walk in the store and the Starbucks just calls to you. You get a tea latte and enjoy wandering the aisles for new decor, beauty items or just bargains.  Most stores, I am in and out, I get it over and done with.  Target made me enjoy shopping there (although I do remember thinking they could be too helpful when someone asked if I needed help getting a bag of cat treats off the shelf).

Target is too expensive?  Target have amazing bargains.  Threshold deep pocket ultra soft sheets.  They fit my mattress, they wash well.  They are better than the really expensive sheets I bought after giving up on cheaper ones.  My Nate Berkus comforter is pure love.  It was cheaper than a Threshold one when bought on clearance.  I paid $30 for a Nate Berkus king comforter that is in great shape still – I doubt any other $30 comforter could say the same.

I will miss the huge selection of elf and NYX makeup – so affordable and without the worry of import costs from buying direct.  Oh and the clearance deals in the beauty section.  I thought Target would be around longer, I should have bought more of the 70% off makeup and nail polish.  Some of my best bargains in 2014 came from Target.  My hair dryer and straightener at 70% off – just $18 for the two.  My bottles of Nexxus at $5 for large bottles of shampoo and conditioner in a gift set!  Pots and pans – so many kitchen accessories and all the pretty decor.  The hours I spent walking the aisles looking for those little red stickers.  Oh and anything Threshold – why is it that their store brand can be such good quality.  Sure, it is pricier than Walmart’s own brands but it lasts and generally it is prettier, and pretty is always good right?

Most of the Target locations near me are near Walmart, Canadian Tire and grocery stores so it is hard to know what will replace them, but my shopping habits will not be the same.  I can’t see any of the stores earning back my loyalty enough to make me shop there as much as I have shopped at Target.

Some of the things I think could have helped Target

  • Better stock and a website that lists stock so you don’t have to check all of them to find items in stock.
  • Better information on prices, people seem to think that they are expensive but many items were always cheaper at Target and they had a great price-match policy if they didn’t have it at the best price.
  • Starting out slower, it seems it was too much too soon for them.

Target, sorry it didn’t work out with the others, but I will miss you.

PC Green Twice As Absorbent Clumping Cat Litter Review

PC® GREEN™ Twice as Absorbent Clumping Cat Litter

I love my cats, but I hate (like hate, hate, HATE) cleaning their litter boxes.  The ammonia mixed with clay smell of regular cat litter is just disgusting and they kick it everywhere.  Try walking barefoot to the bathroom over those little stones in the middle of the night!

We started to buy World’s Best Cat Litter, healthier for us, healthier for them and a renewable source that doesn’t hurt when you step on it.  When it first came out, it was hard to find and meant a trip to a specialty pet store.  No big deal, the local shelter always has cats there for me to swoon over while shopping, but it was also fairly expensive.  It is now sold everywhere and is a little cheaper, but still about $18 for a 6.8kg bag which I have to lug home.

For a while, it disappeared off the shelves and we went in search of something similar.  We knew the cats did not like the newspaper or wheat litters as we had tried them before, so wanted something similar to World’s Best.  We found it at Fortinos (it is a Loblaws store in Hamilton, where we are not lucky enough to have actual Loblaws stores or a Real Canadian SuperCentre.  Hey, maybe RCSS could open in one of the Target stores that are closing!

PC Green Twice as Absorbent Clumping Cat Litter comes in easy to carry 3.2kg bags and are usually on sale for about $5.50 (although the regular price is $7.99 which sends me to Target to get World’s Best).  Instead of clay, PC Green cat litter uses pesticide free corncobs – none of the dust – none of the health problems associated with the dust cloud from clay litters!  Even better, they have not tried to mask the smell of cat urine with lavender or anything else that just should not be in cat litter, it just smells a little like being near a farm – but not as “farmy” as World’s Best’s regular cat litter.

PC Green Cat Litter Pile Right

While I wouldn’t say that the litter is soft, walking on it doesn’t hurt, so I no longer hear expletives from him in the middle of the night as he walks across litter they have kicked out of the box.  Since it is lighter than clay, like most alternative litters, it does track a little more but easily cleaned up (plus Izzy is fussy and usually paws it into a pile for me anyway).

While those who are used to paying for clay will cringe at paying this much for cat litter, the good thing is that is lasts much longer than clay based litters.

PC Green Cat Litter - Bag InstructionsYou simply scoop daily and top up the litter box every few days to replace the litter you have used.   Even with multiple cats, a bag lasts each box 10 days.  Since we are in an apartment, I like to empty and clean them more often than if they were out of the way so you could use it for longer if you have less cats and/or have your boxes tucked in the corner of the basement or somewhere not near your nose.  We use large boxes (think Sterilite totes) rather than actual litter boxes since one of our cats has an issue with missing the box and a bag fills the box, so if you use regular small boxes, it would probably be enough for two or regular top ups.

While I won’t subject you to a picture of a ball of pee in cat litter, this stuff really is absorbent and clumps well.  With some of the “alternative” litters we have used, we ended up with a big sticky mess (especially with wheat based litters) and ended up throwing out the litter early – and in one case even the litter box with it.  The clumps do not easily break apart when scooped either, so you are left with fresh litter and not little balls of used litter that smell but the scoop can’t pick up.

Having to lug it up the stairs, I love the smaller bags without the bigger price point and that I can grab it while I buy my groceries and not make a special trip.  Although PC Plus needs to send me offers for it instead of the clay litter I am avoiding buying!

Buy PC Green Twice As Absorbent Clumping Cat Litter

Available at most Loblaws banner stores (No Frills, RCSS, SuperStore, Maxi etc) at $5-8 per 3.2kg bag

Get more details and read customer reviews here

Ten Things I Hate About Commuting

Ten Things I Hate About Commuting

I actually don’t mind my commute that much, I get on at the first station and get off at the last one, so it is rare I do not not get a seat, unless really late coming home and it is time for me to read and listen to music.  For the most part, I am in my own world.  Coworkers have mentioned saying hello to me only to be completely ignored.  That being said, there are some things that annoy me about commuting – so here is my rant!

Non-Commuters

1. I know, I know, everyone has somewhere to be. But if you are going to get on a Toronto bound rush hour train with luggage, shopping carts or that bike that is banned at that time anyway, don’t whine at me that the train is standing room only – welcome to the daily hell of commuting, we don’t feel sorry for you on the way to shop or even worse, the airport!  I will happily give my seat up for a pregnant woman, elderly people or someone who needs it because of a disability but doesn’t want to use the accessible car.  Your luggage however does not rate a seat, you are already taking standing space from someone with your bags.

commuting taking two seats2. While I am on the subject of bags, please remove them from the seats and let people sit down!  Did you pay for that extra seat for your purse (or even worse, the feet you have up on the seat opposite you)?  That person who wants to sit down paid for a ticket, so move it and let them sit.  It is an hour long train ride for most of us, no one wants to stand.   Oh and you just don’t need your legs to be open that much either, you don’t deserve a seat and a half while the person next to you squeezes into half a seat just because you are a guy!

3. Talking about personal space reminds me, if you stand in my personal space at the Timmies line or at the ticket line, I will “accidentally” step backwards, stepping on your foot and elbowing you in the stomach.  It is a huge station, we may be crammed in next to each other on the train but in the station, lots of room around me.

Some hygiene please!

commuting smelly4. Ok, coming home or on a hot summer day, you may be sweaty and gross but when you are in a nice suit in the morning, there is no excuse.  Take a shower, use some deodorant and wash your clothes!  I know you have limited time, we are out the door before 7am and home after 7pm, such is commuting, but that smell cannot be helping your career as well as our senses. Oh and please cover your mouth/nose when coughing and sneezing.  The rest of us want to stay healthy enough to work and are locked in this tin can with your germs flying around.

commuting work sleep

It isn’t all about you

commuting walking against crowd5. From the annoying people who feel the need to walk down the middle of the stairs (instead of beside someone so we all get down quicker) or walk towards oncoming people – people seem to think it is all about them.  I am really sorry that we are walking in the opposite direction to you, but we all have somewhere to get to, maybe you can walk like all of the other busy commuters and we all get to where we are going faster.  Oh and why can you not open the door in front of you instead of cutting in front of me because this door is being held open.  Will opening a door kill you?

6. That emergency strip? It is for emergencies, not because you missed your stop!  Those doors you broke because you were late for the train and running as it was closing the doors are now stuck open and we are all leaving late while the poor Go Transit worker stands in the cold trying to fix them.  There are trains at least every 20 minutes at rush hour, either leave earlier or wait for the next one (yes, I am looking at you Mr. Oakville train rider who runs for the train EVERY MORNING).

The Quiet Zone

7. While I don’t sit in the quiet zone, mostly because I like the few seconds of fresh air at stops from sitting near the door, I get it, you want some peace and quiet to sleep or work or whatever.  Do you really need to start an argument we can hear downstairs because someone’s phone beeped though?  I swear it is quieter outside of the quiet zone because we are not all complaining that the quiet zone isn’t quiet enough.

8. That being said, I do not want to hear your whole phone call, I don’t need to hear that xyz had an affair, your drug deal, or your banking details (thanks for your credit card info and date of birth by the way, you likely just had your identity stolen, although given you have $33k in credit card debt, they may not bother).

commuting delays9. The delays.  Seriously GO, you do this every single day.  Your weather related delays on the train mean nothing to me when I am standing in the cold waiting to pay you a ridiculous amount to get me to work.  So, maybe the first train is delayed because of a track or switch issue, but we can all see the other 3 tracks, maybe use one of them?  Or when it leaves the first station late due to unforeseen circumstances, like the driver being late getting on the train with his Timmies.

10. The overly cheerful “Thank you for choosing Go Transit, we hope you had a pleasant trip” when we get in 40 minutes late!  In all fairness, working on a Go Train must suck, the deal with a lot of complaints (some of them about the stuff above that they can do nothing about, just like the CSR can do nothing about the switch delay), but don’t expect us to be happy about it either.

So there it is, the ten (kinda) things I hate about commuting.

The Body Shop Vitamin E Sink-In Moisture Mask Review

the-body-shop-vitamin-e-sink-in-moisture-mask

As  have mentioned before, my skin has been suffering with the cold windy weather we have seen recently.  I got this Vitamin E Sink In Moisture Mask in my advent calendar from The Body Shop so thought I would try it out.

The Body Shop Vitamin E Sink-In Moisture Mask – The Claims

Sink some antioxidant Vitamin E into your skin. Bring skin back to optimum moisture level with this intensely hydrating mask.

The Body Shop Vitamin E Sink-In Moisture Mask – My Experience

the-body-shop-vitamin-e-sink-in-moisture-mask consistencyThe lotion type consistency of the Vitamin E mask is a little strange.  I am use to clay or peel off gel masks where this is just like a moisturizing lotion that you leave on for ten minutes before wiping off with tissue – no rinsing needed. Vitamin E is one of the most powerful antioxidant vitamins you can put on your face so I was looking forward to healthier skin after using it despite the consistency.

This vitamin E mask has a gel type cream consistency and lightness. It is not oily and it did not feel overly greasy on the skin. It is a pale pink colour (perfect for spa days) and has the regular scent of other The Body Shop Vitamin E products.

After using, you are meant to blend it into the skin then tissue off the excess.  I found that I got a lot of build up if I do that, so I have been rinsed the mask off instead.  It did not seem like the usual exfoliated skin build up, it was smaller and broke apart easily under your fingers, just dried cream I guess.  Other reviews on The Body Shop’s website say they have left it on all night then rinsed it off in the morning and found that it gave better results than just leaving it on for ten minutes as directed.

My skin did feel soft the day after using it, but it was not long lasting compared to other masks.

Buy The Body Shop Vitamin E Sink-In Moisture Mask

Available at all The Body Shop stores. $2 for a one time use sachet or $22 for 100ml.  The 100ml is a much better option in terms of value (enough for 16 uses based on the size of the single use, but there is some waste in single use so maybe as many as 20 uses),

As with all The Body Shop products, you can use coupons online or wait for their 40% off skin care sale to buy it for less.

Full information or order online here

 

[re]fresh Fruit Acid Gel Skin Peel Review

refresh skin peel

 

As I have mentioned, my skin has been looking dull lately and my freckles are showing, so when I was offered the chance to try out a fruit based exfoliating gel peel, I jumped at the chance.

[re]fresh Skin Therapy Fruit Acid Peel – The Claims

Fruit Acid 15% Gel Peel is a professional-grade exfoliator made from of Glycolic, Lactic, Kojic, and Pyruvic Acid.

  • Erases fine lines, dark spots and improves skin’s texture and tone while revealing noticeably smoother, healthier skin
  • Skin is noticeable brighter and complexion is more even-toned after first application
  • Shrinks pores and balances oil production across combination skin

I will admit that I was a little worried trying a peel at home.  At a spa with someone who knows what they are doing, no problem, but at home – nightmares of burnt skin, redness and peeling.  This wasn’t helped by the packaging’s note to leave the gel peel on for 1-3 minutes depending on tolerance!

refreshI decided to try some on my hand to make sure that it did not burn, leaving it on for two minutes and no issues.  This peel, unlike ones I have had at a salon really is a gel – a thin gel but stays put.  You use the included dropper to measure out the amount you want and just use your fingers to apply to dry skin after cleansing.  The dropper is great as you don’t waste product on applicators so you get more value for money.  Once on the skin, it is just like having a wet face, not too sticky but doesn’t run either.

Unlike my hand, I did get some redness on my face and could feel a slight tingle after 90 seconds so I washed it off.  It is great that you do not need a neutralizing agent for this peel, you just rinse it well with water.  I didn’t notice much in the way of skin sloughing off with [re]fresh’s fruit peel but my skin feel tighter and looked brighter afterwards and the redness went away after about half an hour.  It claims to shrink pores, mine looked big when I first rinsed the peel off, but after moisturizing, they were definitely less noticeable and skin around my eyes and lips plumped up helping with fine lines.

refresh peel dropperAfter my second use, I noticed a much bigger difference.  I left it on longer despite the tingle and redness knowing that there was no lasting effects from the first peel. I could feel the skin that peeled off when I rinsed.  At first, my skin looked worse after this peel.  It was amazing how many deeply blocked pores I had which were now on the surface of the skin and leaving it on for longer, I had more redness.  However, my pores were open and it was easy to unblock the pores using a Biore strip.  After a treatment of Argan Oil serum and night cream, my skin looked so much smoother, brighter and hardly any noticeable pores.

As far as oil protection, after using [re]fresh’s fruit peel the second time, I wore makeup all day without having to deal with an oily t-zone in the afternoon.  My makeup sat on my skin better with my primer not having to work as hard to fill lines and pores and just sat as a base like it should.  I honestly did not expect to see a difference in such a short time (I did my peels just a few days apart) so was pleasantly surprised at the results.  There was no noticeable impact on my freckles, in fact with brighter skin they were more noticeable, but “cuter” according to my friends.

If you are a beginner to peels, I would definitely recommend [re]fresh gel peels, they are fairly gentle on the skin, the gel consistency makes them super easy to apply and versatile enough that you can add on layers of it if you are experienced and want more of an impact.  It is also affordable, less than the price of a peel at a decent salon for a bottle.

Buy [re]fresh Skin Therapy Skin Peels

You can buy direct from [re]fresh Skin Therapy here or on Amazon.ca (note they do ship from the US)

The fruit peel is around $35 but a coupon offer pops up on various pages of their website and is a little more on Amazon.  Shipping is $6.50 to Canada or free when you spend $55.  This item ships free from Amazon.

Follow [re]fresh Skin Therapy: twitter | facebook | pinterest | google+

 

This product was provided free of charge for testing purposes. All opinions are my own.

Learn About Breast Cancer & Breast Health & Get 500 Optimum Points

breast cancer

I have several close family members who have or had breast cancer so am careful about self exams and screening, despite a lower risk at my age.

The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and Shoppers Drug Mart WOMEN have teamed up to share information about breast health and you can earn 500 Optimum points just for taking their breast health plan survey (just a couple of minutes of your time, you learn important facts and 500 Optimum points towards your next redemption).

Would it surprise you to know that 1/3 of breast cancers could be prevented by living well?  Here are some of the other helpful tips shared by the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation:

  • Just 5–10% of breast cancers are linked to family history. Most breast cancers are due to a combination of other factors – including things you can change in your lifestyle (this makes me feel so much better, my own doctor is big about the increased chance due to close family members having cancer)
  • Most women are at average risk for breast cancer – only 1-2% are considered to be at “high risk”. Those with 2 or more immediate family members with breast cancer, repeated chest radiation before the age of 30, or a known BRCA 1 or 2 genetic mutation in their family, should talk to their health care provider.
  • Although younger woman do develop breast cancer, getting older is one of the biggest contributing factors. Living well and regular screening are your best defences against breast cancer.  If you are under 40, your chances of breast cancer with a good lifestyle is just 0.4% but jumps up to 3.2% in your 60s.
  • Regular physical activity helps reduce your risk of breast cancer. A healthier body weight is key. And the benefits of being active begin as soon as you start, no matter how old you are (so you know that resolution to get active/fit/healthy? Keep going!)
  • It’s beneficial to be breast aware. Even though some breast changes are normal, other changes are not. Know how your breasts normally look and feel, so that any unusual changes can be discussed with a health care provider.
  • Regular screening can find earlier signs of breast cancer – including tumours that are too small to feel. In most cases, finding the disease earlier offers more effective treatment options and a better chance of survival.
  • There is no clear evidence that eating “super foods” – or any one type of food – can help prevent breast cancer. However, maintaining a healthier body weight by eating a variety of foods and smaller portions is a great way to reduce your risk.
  • A glass of red wine may be good for the heart, but no amount of alcohol is good for your breasts. It’s not the type of alcohol that increases your risk of breast cancer, but how much you drink and how often (there goes that drink I was going to have with dinner).
  • Both smoking and second-hand smoke have been linked to breast cancer. Quitting can be hard but two days without a cigarette can leave your body nicotine-free.
  • Taking synthetic hormones like those found in combined birth control pills or combined hormone replacement therapies (with estrogen and progesterone) can increase your risk for breast cancer.
  • Exposure to chemicals in our environment and in everyday products we use at home may increase our risk of breast cancer. Put your health first and choose simpler options when it comes to food, make-up and personal care products.

Click here to get your Breast Health Plan and 500 Shoppers Drug Mart Optimum Points (ends February 6th and points are awarded on Match 16th)

To get your points, click the collect your 500 Shoppers Optimum points image on the breast health plan shown below and enter your Optimum number

breast cancer click here