Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Beauty Favorites

I originally wasn't going to do one of these, but I figured that didn't comply too well with my "blog more" resolution for the new year so I decided, why not! These are my favorite products of 2013. Some of them are more recent, but I've been using many of them year-long. I use these products daily and I'm impressed with their quality over and over.

Mac Soft & Gentle: I honestly wasn't too sure about this product in the beginning. I didn't notice a difference when I used it, but now I've come to love it. The effect is very subtle, making it perfect for everyday use as a cheek highlighter.

Maybelline Super Stay 10 Stain Gloss: These stain glosses have to be my favorite lip product of the year. I think they're so easy to apply. They're long lasting, and they stay put throughout the day - no need to worry about smudging.

Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow in RSVP: I picked this up on Boxing Day last year and I could not be happier with it. It's the perfect base for virtually any eyeshadow look, and it's so easy to blend on. It really is creaseless too!

L'Oreal Studio Perfecting Base: I picked this up because I ran out of my Stila primer, and I have to say, this does a better job. It smooths out your skin like none other, and it has that soft silicone finish. For the price, you really can't go wrong with this.

Essie "Bouncer It's Me": I have to admit, the formulation of this polish is atrocious BUT luckily I'm a very patient person, and 3 coats is no big deal to me. The color is so vibrant and stunning that I can see past the terrible formula. I've worn this multiple times this year because I'm constantly drawn to it.

Models Own "Luis Lemon": This has, hands down, been my favorite polish of 2013. I was really hesitant to buy it, but I'm so glad I did. I think nails are generally a more understated part of someone's "look", so a little pop of neon isn't as scary as I thought it would be... In fact, it's fun and interesting. Love this polish.

Essie "Bahama Mama": Is it cheating if I included this in last year's favorites? Oh well. This polish has been a recurring favorite as I've worn it many times this year. The color and formulation are just unbeatable.

These two brushes have been part of my makeup routine throughout the entire year. I use the angled end of the Sephora brush for bronzer, and the Real Techniques brush for blush. They're really the perfect duo!

That concludes my 2013 beauty favorites! What have been your favorite products this year?

Monday, December 30, 2013

Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014

I was looking through my Instagram earlier and thought a year-end post was in order!

Some highlights of 2013:
  • Going to DisneyWorld with my mom and cousins
  • Doing the walk to fund Arthritis research with my family
  • Signing up at the gym and losing 15 pounds
  • Having a fun and relaxing summer at home
  • Getting an A+ in my media production class (for 2 consecutive semesters!)
  • Going ziplining with my friends in the fall
  • Seeing my brother succeed in school
  • Getting a new job in a children's library
  • Expanding the list of meals I can cook
  • Moving to our new home
Things to look forward to in 2014:
  • Starting a new internship in the Winter semester
  • Being a bridesmaid in my cousin's wedding
  • Designing and decorating my new room
  • Continuing going to the gym and eating better
  • Blogging more often with better quality content
Overall, I'm really pleased with how 2013 turned out and I'm excited for 2014. Wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas & Boxing Day Haul 2013

Hey everyone! Happy belated Christmas to all those who celebrate :) I hope you all had a great holiday.  I thought I'd mix in my Boxing Day purchases with my Christmas gifts considering most of what I got was purchased with gift cards haha.

My friends and I always do a gift exchange over the holidays, and this year I received a little Occitane gift set containing all the products on the left of the photo above. Included were mini versions of their Almond Shower Oil (which I've been wanting to try for so long!), Jasmin & Bergamote body milk, Pivoine Flora shower gel, two different sizes of their hand cream, Lavender bubble bath, Anti-aging "Immortelle" cream, and Extra gentle soap.

I also got the Soap & Glory Sugar Crush scrub and body butter which smells SO GOOD. The scent is sweet lime. Can't wait to start using them.

My dad got me a new hair straightener which I didn't really need but appreciate anyway. My current one is starting to get a little crusty and this one looks really high-tech, so I'm happy with it.

My little brother got me two Bath & Body Works candles, Cinnamon & Clove Buds, and Eucalyptus Mint.

My mom got me the amazing red YSL lipstick that I've been wanting. I know it's redundant, but it must be said: THE PACKAGING is incredible. My dad got me a MAC giftcard so I picked up "Instigator" from their new Punk Couture collection along with Night Moth lip liner. It's insanely dark but I love it.

I also got a new Sephora Formula X nail polish in "Boom". It has baby blue flecks that cluster when you apply the nail polish. It seems really cool so I'll try it out soon and post a review.

On Boxing Day I picked up the Laura Mercier Artist Eyes palette. I knew I needed this palette after seeing it on Makeup and Beauty Blog. She mentions that the eyeshadows are easy to over-blend, but I don't foresee that being a problem. I thought the look she created was phenomenal. I also got two of the Makeup Forever Aqua Eyes eyeshadow sticks which were on offer 2 for $12.

My mom also got me the Diptyque Noisetier candle. It's a very crisp spa-like scent, perfect for when you're taking a bath I think :)

My cousin got me this awesome red beanie that I've been wearing every day since Christmas so far. I haven't worn a hat in so long that I forgot how cozy they are. I also got many gift cards including ones for The Bay, Sephora and Mac.

Not pictures above are this amazing oversize knit sweater from Top Shop that I got for 50% off on Boxing Day, as well as a Boogie Board that my mom thought would be cute to get me.

That's it! I'm really pleased with my gifts and am so thankful for all of them. Happy holidays!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas Wishlist 2013: Non-Beauty

Hey everyone! I thought I'd whip up a part 2 of my Christmas list to give you all some ideas for gifts to buy family/friends. Enjoy!

Canon DSLR: To be honest, I don't care which version, as long as it shoots in 1080p. I also don't care if it's secondhand. I just really want a nice DSLR for blogging and school purposes.

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones: This exact model is kinda pricey, but I love the way it looks with the brown padding. This could also be a good gift for a man you need to buy for. But really, any noise cancelling headphones work. Just don't buy me Beats because I'm not Justin Bieber.

Jockery mini Portable iPhone charger: Anyone who has an iPhone (or phone that uses a USB charger) could find this handy. This one is relatively small and lightweight, and is good for a full charge. Super useful.

Macbook Pro decal: There are some really beautiful and inexpensive Macbook decals on Etsy. I chose this one because it would compliment by blue Incase quite nicely. My second choice are these Mickey Mouse hands, so cute!

Photojojo Lens Set: This is kind of geeky, but these Photojojo external iPhone lenses look soo nice. Perfect for any Instagram-obsessed person in your life!

Minecraft: Sometimes the 12 year-old boy in me emerges and I feel the need to play something like Minecraft. Unfortunately I feel like a big nerd paying $26.95 for a computer game so I've never hit "purchase"! Please, Santa?

Ikea wooden hangers: I intend on doing a full closet overhaul in my new room, and the first step are these wooden hangers from Ikea. Eight hangers for $5.99 is the cheapest I've seen them. Also I feel like anyone who uses wooden hangers really has their life together... Or is that just me?

Reclaimed wood tray: I'm obsessed with anything wooden (see above), and these reclaimed wood trays are just calling my name. I would probably use them as shelving instead of trays. For $16.41 on Etsy they seem really affordable too!

Neom or Diptyque candle: I think it's time to expand my candle collection beyond Bath & Body Works. A luxury candle for Christmas would be amazing. They sell these at Holt Renfrew, but I'm not sure which scent I'd want, so a gift card works too ;)

Simple silver ring: I've been wearing my high school grad ring for four years now and it's really time I upgrade. Nothing too fancy - something simple that won't tarnish works. I love the braid detail on this one.

Prescription Ray Ban sunglasses: I'd rather not be blinded when I'm driving so a pair of prescription sunglasses has become incredibly necessary.

Contacts: It's not that I don't love my glasses, but sometimes I'd like to have the option of wearing contacts - like to the gym, nights out, etc.

Crest Whitestrips: The last time I got my teeth whitened was at the end of high school and I feel like I need a refresher. These "gentle" Crest Whitestrips should to the trick.

Spa gift card: I don't care where, I don't care how expensive or inexpensive, I just really need a massage and a pedicure. Santa, help a girl out.

Topshop/The Bay gift card: So TopShop recently opened near my house and I've been meaning to check it out. A gift card would be lovely!

Sephora/Mac gift card: You can never go wrong with new makeup, as you might have guessed from part 1 of my wishlist.

And that's it! Hope you got some ideas :)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Holiday Goodie Bag Giveaway WINNER

Hey everyone! It's the 1st of December which means it's time to announce my giveaway winner!

I first wanted to thank everyone who entered. I know the concept of the surprise goodie bag can be a hit or miss, but I'm really pleased with the turnout. To those of you who started following Abundance of Erica because of the giveaway: I hope you stick around! I'm trying to expand by blog all the time and will surely have another giveaway in the future.

And the winner is... Jin S.!

Congratulations Jin! I will be emailing you shortly in order to find out your shipping address :) And thanks again to all those who participated.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Cyber Monday at Sigma

Hey everyone! I'm in the middle of exam-time craziness AND moving craziness, so blogging will be infrequent for the next month. BUT I'm definitely going to post the second half of my Christmas wishlist! This time it'll include non-beauty goodness :)

For now I just wanted to share some information about the Sigma Cyber Monday sale happening on December 2nd. They're offering 20% select items using the code CM2013. Here's a list of what your savings might look like (the sale prices are in brackets)!

Brush Care
My personal recommendations are the E11 or E17 - a good liner brush will seriously make you love gel liner, E47 - a really precise shadow brush can help add extra dimension to your eye makeup, P82 - the density of this brush would be perfect for cream shadow or bases, and the Mrs. Bunny Essential Kit - if you're new to makeup and building your brush collection, this is a great addition!

All the links in this post are affiliate links! You don't have to use them if you don't want to, but feel free - there is no extra charge/it does not change your order. Happy shopping!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Christmas Wishlist 2013: Beauty

I'll just go ahead and say it: I have an irrationally long Christmas list this year. We can just regard this list as a compilation of things I wanted to buy this year but was too poor to afford. Here it goes!

The eyeshadow palette I bought for myself this year is the Urban Decay Vice Palette, but I've also been lusting after Urban Decay Naked3, the Lorac Pro Palette, and the Laura Mercier Artist Eyes Palette. All neutral, but all extra lovely.

My blush pick for this year's list is Mac "Gingerly" because I've been searching for that perfect orange-coral shade. My concealer/foundation pick is the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer. My highlighter pick is the Hourglass "Ambient Light" Palette - because all the online reviews have successfully convinced me that I need this.

I've singlehandedly decided that I need a YSL lipstick in my life, so I'm going for a classic red called "Red Muse". My MAC lipstick pick for this list is "Fixed on Drama", a rich wine retromatte. For good measure, I'm throwing in the elf lip exfoliator, because why not?

For the sheer fact that I've never owned a "high-end" mascara that wasn't a sample, I've included: Benefit "They're Real" (all-time best mascara that I have like 3 used samples of), Tarte "Lights, Camera, Flashes", and Clinique "Bottom Lash" mascara, simply because "bottom lash mascara" seems like a superfluous purchase, but works great as a gift.

Ideally I would like one of every type of the Sephora Formula X nail polishes, but I've included "Boom" for list purposes. Zoya "Payton" looks sooo nice. Want. I'm in need of a good matte top coat so I've chosen the OPI one.

FINALLY, Pharmaprix has begun to stock the Sugar Crush line of Soap & Glory products, so naturally I'm after the Body Buttercream and the Body Scrub. Lush "Lovely Jubblies" (a "breast firming cream"...lol) has been on my wishlist for forever, so it's about time I get my hands on it.

Every year I like to refresh my brush collection in some way or another, so this year I'm asking for the MAC 138 which I'll use for highlighter, the Real Techniques eyeshadow brush set, and the Sigma E65 which I'll use for gel liner.

And, surprise, this is not the end of my list! I'll have a part 2 coming up which will feature my non-beauty items :)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Essie Nail Strips in "Love To Love You"

Hey everyone! I got these Essie nail strips at the L'Oreal sale on Sunday and just couldn't wait to try them on. Here's what I think!

I'm not yet very good at applying these things (bumpy edges, ugh), but I love the way they look! You can't really read the writing, but they still make for a very cool manicure. The kit comes with a little nail file to help you shave off the excess bits!

I sealed these in with a top coat but for some reason it didn't stick and ended up peeling off in the end. The size selection is alright, but could be better - I have small nails and found myself running out of strips that were small enough. My only suggestion is to apply these slowly and carefully - rough edges will get caught in places they shouldn't, like in my dog's fur when I'm petting him (sorry Einstein).

I definitely suggest picking these up if you find them on sale. They're too expensive at regular price.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Fall/Winter L'Oreal Sale & Marcelle Sale Haul

Hey everyone! Looks like I accidentally did a bit (read: a lot) of shopping... Oops! Doing hauls of the L'Oreal sale is always a good idea because people who've never been before can get an idea of what they might expect. I also went to the Marcelle/Annabelle sale this time which was fabulous. Everything was extremely reduced in price, even moreso than the L'Oreal sale!

Despite the 45-minute wait to get in, the L'Oreal sale proved to be quite fruitful. Having the knowledge of what I did/did not use from the previous sale really helped me decide what to choose. My only complaint is the sheer mass of people that were present at this sale... If you're intimidated by crowds, maybe opt not to go on a weekend.

The best part of the L'Oreal sale this year, hands down, was the Essie section. The nail polishes were reduced to $4.75 each, whereas they were $6 previous years. They cost, on average, $9 at Canadian drugstores. They also had nail wraps at $4.75, which was great, because I've been wanting to try them for a while but it just never seemed worth it in-store. They also had a deal where you could buy 5 and get one free, which I definitely made use of. I got two nail polishes: "Stylenomics" and "Fishnet Stockings", and three slick stick nail wrap kits: "Love to love you", "Glam it on", and "Show me your stuff".

I also got the L'Oreal Go 360 Clean facial cleanser, two new Maybelline Super Stay 10 Stain Glosses in "Refreshing Red" and "Cool Coral", and this amazing little perfume kit from Kiehl's that cost $25.

From the Marcelle sale I got a pack of four Annabelle glitter eyeliners ($1.50!), 2 for $5 Marcelle makeup wipes, the Annabelle Custom Look Kohl Kit containing 4 eyeliners for hazel eyes ($4), a Marcelle blush in "Blossom", two Marcelle Hydra-C Foundations, an Annabelle concealer set, Annabelle lip pencil in "Concord", Annabelle eyeliner in "Honey", Annabelle liquid liner, and Annabelle "Le Big Show" mascara.

All of the makeup at the Marcelle sale was $2.25, with the exception of the items noted above (in brackets). I was so happy they had the Hydra-C foundation because it's discontinued, but it was (and remains) one of the best drugstore foundations I've ever tried.

I hope this haul was helpful to those who are debating attending these sales! Overall I spent $75 at the L'Oreal sale (a good chunk of that - $25 - is attributed to the Kiehl's perfume set), and $35 at the Marcelle sale. If you can only attend one I definitely recommend the Marcelle sale. They have great quality products and the location isn't as tight/packed as the L'Oreal sale.

PS. I also might have picked up a few more items for my holiday giveaway! Don't forget to enter! :)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

OPI "Germanicure"

Hey everyone! As promised, I'll be posting NOTDs whenever I try out a new polish from the Take Ten  10pc set from OPI. The polish that took my fancy today is "Germanicure". In my previous post I had mentioned that it went on a little sheer and streaky, but my outlook has definitely changed.

I used about three coats (which is what I tend to do for every nail polish regardless of opacity) and what resulted was this gorgeous brown-red metallic shade. I thought it might have a purple tinge to it sometimes, but nope, Germanicure is more on the reddish-brown side of the spectrum.

Application was smooth, the only difficulties (if any) can be attributed to the short brush of the mini size bottle. I think this is an amazing fall shade and even though it's getting colder and more winter-y here, I'll probably wear it again at least a couple times throughout the next season.

Is anyone inspired to go pick up the Take Ten set?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

CoverGirl Flamed Out Mascara REVIEW

CoverGirl Flamed Out is not what I tend to prefer in a mascara. I like liquidier formulas, this is not that. I like skinnier wands, this does not have that. Alas, I picked this mascara up without reading reviews or looking at pictures and what I was left with was an extra-thick mascara with a fat wand a waxy formula... I didn't expect to, but I actually really, really like it.

If you want something long-lasting, but not waterproof, this is your pick. The formulation is waxy which allows it to withstand the test of time. I've worn this for hours straight (like, 10-12 hour-days) and it's really durable - no flaking or transferring. It also enables your lashes to hold their curl. At the end of the day, removal is fuss-free.

The product is meant to "fan out" your lashes (hence, "Flamed Out") and I think it achieves that quite nicely. If you look at the second eye photo, you can see what I mean. The mascara clearly separated and lengthened each lash.

I only put on 1-2 coats daily, but if you're someone who likes a clumpier look, 3-4 coats would be good for you. I personally find my lashes too long and sparse to achieve the spider-y look in picture #3, but if you have a thick, short lashes you can definitely pull it off.

I've seen mixed reviews of this mascara, but I think it's silly to dismiss it quickly. If you put a little effort into the application and work your way into each lash, you can achieve a really pretty effect!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

OPI Take Ten 10pc Mini Set: Swatches & First Impressions

Hey everyone! So if you've seen my last Nail Polish Canada wishlist, you will know that I've been lusting after this set... And yes, I caved and bought it. It was just too good to pass up! I also went real fancy and ordered a nail wheel to swatch everything on, but I'll still post NOTDs as usual.

The set comes with 10 mini formats of popular OPI shades, including Pirouette My Whistle, Alpine Snow, Bubble Bath, Tickle My France-y, You Don't Know Jacques, Cajun Shrimp, Big Apple Red, German-icure, Malaga Wine, and Lincoln Park After Dark. The cost of the set is CAD$30.

You can separate the neutrals from the reds and have two really great stocking stuffers for Christmas. I think the intention behind this set is to present these polishes as testers. The idea is definitely to go out and buy full-sized versions of your favorites. The reason I say this is because the mini handle and brush are not the most comfortable. It's difficult to be precise with them, and some of these need many coats, meaning they will finish up quickly. That said, I personally like the idea of trying out some of the most popular OPI polishes without having to commit to a full size.

Click this photo to enlarge.
Pirouette My Whistle: I definitely suggest enlarging the above photo to get a good look at this one. It's a clear base with silver glitter and a few chunky white pieces throughout. Maybe it's the mini-ness of the polish, but you definitely have to fish for the white glitters if you want them, which is my only criticism. I think this will be really nice atop of Alpine Snow in the Winter months.

Alpine Snow: I can definitely see why this is a classic favorite for nail artists. It's a thick white polish that goes on opaque and is easy to smooth out. It's not dull-looking like some white polishes - I can detect a slight shimmer, which is definitely appreciated because it brings the white to life quite nicely. I foresee this being a contender to my favorite white polish, Julep "Kate".

Bubble Bath: Bubble Bath is a sheer nude-pink shade that takes about 3-4 coats to become opaque. This is one that, if you end up loving, will need to buy a full size asap because it will run out quickly. I've used it once, and my mom has also used it once, and it's already more than half empty. I can see why this shade is so beloved, though, because it's a very complimentary color if you have a light skintone.

Tickle My France-y: This pinky brown nude is one of the polishes that I am more iffy about. The formulation is a little more transparent than I'd like. The swatch you see above is three coats. I'm sure on an actual nail the application will be smoother. This would look amazing on you if you have a deeper complexion.

You Don't Know Jacques: This taupe brown shade is one of the most popular OPI polishes. I'm personally struggling to figure out why because it's a little on the sheer side, and the color is a bit dull for me. Maybe once I actually put it on I'll find out why! Crossing my fingers on that one.

Cajun Shrimp: Cajun Shrimp is a bright coral-red shade that's going to look great in the spring and summer. I had intended on buying Models Own "Hedonist" for the longest time, but I feel like this one might satisfy my need for a bright coral!

Big Apple Red: Believe it or not, I didn't have a rich red creme in my collection prior to buying this set. The application on this is amazing - it has its own way of smoothing itself out and is opaque in just two coats. If you're looking for that quintessential winter red, this is your pick.

German-icure: The only metallic in the collection, German-icure is a red-purple-brown cross. It was the one that I was most looking forward to, but when I swatched it, it was a little more sheer than I'd hoped. Maybe when I wear it my outlook will change. It's still a very beautiful shade.

Malaga Wine: This dark red shade will be amazing when it starts to get cold. For some reason dark reds are really comforting and cozy when the weather starts to change. This is also one of the polishes that applies really nicely. Two coats is all you'll need!

Lincoln Park After Dark: Another infamous OPI shade, Lincoln Park After Dark is an extra-dark plum colour. Personally, I would have loved this polish if it was one shade lighter. Two coats is not enough, but three coats makes it so dark it's almost black. It's still a gorgeous alternative to boring black, but the color gets lost when you apply too many coats.

What do you think? Is this set worth it?

Friday, November 1, 2013

Holiday Goodie Bag GIVEAWAY [CLOSED]

Hey everyone! I've been wanting to do a surprise goodie bag type of giveaway for a while, and I thought now would be a good time since the holidays are beginning to roll 'round! The concept is simple: I won't be telling you what goodies will be added to the bag, but I will tell you the brand. You will only find out what exactly you've won when the prize arrives at your door!

I know it's a little early for holiday giveaways, but I wanted everyone to get a chance to enter and I also wanted the prize to be delivered in-time for Christmas in case the winner celebrates it!


As of yet, the goodie bag will include the following brands: Benefit, Covergirl, Burts Bees, L'Oreal, Maybelline, Essie, OPI, Tarte, Julep, Ardell and Annabelle. The items from these brands have already been purchased, so they are finalized! I will update here and on Twitter in case more brands are added (highlighted in yellow). I will also throw in some bonuses that I may not even list here!


1) Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY
2) Must be 18+ years of age or have your parent's permission to enter
3) Must fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter
4) Must be willing to provide a shipping address if won
5) The winner will announced in a separate blog post and will be emailed
6) You are only eligible to win if you have not won a previous giveaway on Abundance of Erica
7) If the winner does not respond to my email within 48 hours, another winner will be contacted
8) All prizes will be shipped in pristine condition (none have been removed from their original packaging), but I cannot be held responsible for damages that occur in transit
9) Entering via accounts dedicated solely to giveaways will be eliminated.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck & happy entering!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

I'm not one to dress up and go crazy on Halloween. I don't like it much. But Halloween nail art is always an exception!

I got this idea from MissJenFABULOUS on Youtube. She has really great seasonal (and all-around) nail art tutorials. Check her out if you haven't already!

What are you up to this Halloween?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

October Favorites 2013

Hey everyone! I feel like I haven't done a "favorites" post in a while so an October one is definitely due. I'm personally excited to get on with November and then December, because it means Christmas is coming up!

Autumn Day candle by Bath & Body Works: This has got to be one of my favorites (if not most favorite) scents from Bath & Body Works. It's sweet and fresh and fills up the room instantly. It's also a universally enjoyed scent so it makes for a great gift!

Carmex lip balm: My lips have been crazy chapped lately because it's been reaaaaal cold here, so Carmex is a must for me. EOS has nothing on Carmex lol.

OPI "Bubble Bath": I recently got ahold of the Top Ten OPI minis set, and I'm going to dedicate a whole post to it as soon as my nail wheel gets in (why yes, I did order a nail wheel). My favorite so far is Bubble Bath. Even though it's pretty sheer, it's the perfect nude for my skin tone.

Maybelline Super Stay 10 Stain Gloss in "Ruby Indulgence": I made an entire post about this product so check it out HERE!

Smashbox "Vivid Violet": I've had this lipstick for quite a while now and every fall I like to bring it back to life for at least a couple days throughout the season. It's a daring color - pure purple - so it's not for every day, but it compliments my skin tone really nicely and finishes off an outfit quite well. You can see a swatch HERE.

Revlon "Lash Potion" mascara: Admittedly, this mascara is a pain to remove because it's super waterproof, but it does wonders for your lashes. It lengthens and adds volume without getting clumpy and gross. Definitely pick it up!

NARS "Sin" blush: I got this as a birthday gift back in February and have been wearing it a ton lately. It's SO pigmented that you only need a little to get a nice flush of color. It shows up less purple than how it appears in the pan - on my cheeks it becomes a deep pink shade. Very pretty.

Miley Cyrus' "Bangerz": So. I think Miley is really problematic (in terms of her persona/media influence), but this is a GREAT pop album. Some of my favorites are FU, 4x4, and #getitright. If you automatically rejected it but are generally a pop music fan, please give it a shot, you might be surprised!

Lorde's "Pure Heroine": Totally on the opposite side of the pop spectrum, Pure Heroine has also been a new favorite this month. At first I thought all the songs sounded the same but I came to really enjoy it. My favorites are Royals, Team, and White Teeth Teens.

Switched At Birth: If you're looking for a new TV show to start on Netflix, seriously consider Switched At Birth. I usually dismiss ABC Family shows since most of them are a bust (*cough* Secret Life *cough* Pretty Little Liars), but this one is fantastic. It's about two teens who were switched at birth and get reconnected. One of them is deaf, which adds a super interesting dimension to the show. I'm excited for the next season!

Now You See Me: Great movie. Great cast. Ending leaves a little to be desired but the storyline is so unique that I didn't mind.

What were your favorites this month?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

7 Deadly Sins TAG

Hey everyone! I haven't done a tag in a while and I don't have any other posts planned so I thought I'd give this one a go. I found it on Jess' blog Coffee and Cosmetics, and I know it's a popular one but in case you haven't done it yet, feel free to grab it :)

1. Greed: What is your most inexpensive beauty product? What is your most expensive beauty product?

My most inexpensive beauty product is anything that I bought from Elf. I have their studio brush line and one of their gel liners, and both are great value for money. Their products are only a couple bucks and really do the job. They're nothing fancy but if you'd like to save some money on basics, Elf is a good option! Their online website is particularly easy to navigate, and shipping doesn't cost an arm & a leg.

My most expensive beauty product (that I bought with my own money, i.e. not gifted) has to be my Vice 2 palette. I don't tend to splurge on single items - I'd rather save up some money and buy an array of things. Although the Urban Decay palettes are quite expensive, I think they are SO worth it. The quality, originality, and durability are incomparable.

2. Wrath: What beauty product do you have a love/hate relationship with? What product has been the hardest to get?

At the moment I'm having a love/hate relationship with the Rimmel Wake Me Up foundation. It's an illuminating, anti-aging foundation, which is lovely in theory, but the problem is that it's chock-full of shimmer. I still can't decide if that's an issue for me or not! It was fine in the summer with a nice tan, but it seems silly to have a glowy face in the winter. Looks like I'll have to move on from it during the time being.

Living in Canada, I'm pretty lucky when it comes to beauty products being available for me. We have Sephora and Mac, and Bioderma is sold at my nearest drug store. I think the only products that posed some difficulty for me were my Real Techniques brushes. It took forever and a half for them to become available at Walmart here, and I could never seem to find them on trips to the States. Of course, UK brands are difficult to get.

3. Gluttony: What are your most delicious beauty products?

Well since I don't tend to eat my beauty products this is a bit of an odd question... However, some products smell so good they could almost be edible. Two of my favorite-smelling lip glosses are from Buxom and NYX. I'm definitely a sucker for sweet scents as opposed to more perfume-y scents like Chanel.

4. Sloth: What beauty product do you neglect due to laziness?

I definitely neglect using concealer. I feel like foundation does the bulk of the work when it comes to covering up, and I don't feel like my under-eye circles are that noticeable. I also neglect powdering sometimes - and more often than not I regret it at some point throughout the day! Oops.

5. Pride: What beauty product gives you the most self-confidence?

The beauty product that gives me the most self-confidence is eyeshadow. On days that I actually put the effort into applying it, I feel instantly rejuvenated haha. Knowing that I put in the extra work in making my "look" complete makes all the difference. I'm no expert when it comes to applying eyeshadow but when it turns out looking great, I feel super accomplished haha.

6. Lust: What attributes do you find most attractive in the opposite sex?

I find this question a little irrelevant so I'm going to replace it with "Which product/brand do you find has the most physically attractive packaging?" 

Even though I'm still gushing over the packaging of my new Vice 2 palette, my answer for this question is very easy: NARS. The sleek packaging and the rubber-y texture gets me every time! I even love the extra kerning on the letters and the curved edges. I contemplate buying NARS products if only for the packaging... To have a big NARS palette one day is my dream - totally wish I'd gotten my hands on Danmari when I had the chance!

7. Envy: What product would you most like to receive as a gift?

At the moment I am dying for a YSL lipstick. I can never justify the price in-store but if someone loved me enough to buy me one as a gift... I would be so so so happy! The packaging and quality looks incredible. I would definitely buy a red color making it feel even fancier :)

I tag: Hannah from Hips Like Cinderella

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Urban Decay Vice 2: Swatches & First Impressions

On Monday I finally got my hands on the beautiful Vice 2 palette from Urban Decay. I stupidly did not order the first Vice palette when it came out last year, so I wasn't going to make the same mistake twice!

It's no secret that I have issues with Sephora, so I unsurprisingly did not order this from their website. The Urban Decay site was having their annual friends & family sale, and although they don't ship to Canada, my friend Emily had it shipped to a relative of hers in Florida who then brought it back for me. Throughout this entire process, I saved $25 on this palette. Instead of paying around $78 Canadian, it cost me $53. I just can't get over how much we're ripped off here in Canada! Sephora hikes up their prices so much, it drives me nuts. Even though it's sometimes unavoidable, I try my best not to give Sephora my business.

Now that I've ranted, let's get on to the palette itself. The packaging is absolutely stunning. I really love the design on the front of the palette, and while I'm usually not crazy about bedazzled makeup products, I think it works nicely here. On the inside, there is a huge mirror on top which is very practical, and on the bottom you have your shadows.

For some reason X-Rated got really washed out in this photograph - it's actually a matte baby pink (see swatch below)

I think this is a really awesome array of shades. I love the mix of colorful and neutral shadows - it makes this a very versatile palette. The only thing I wish is that there were more matte colors, like that  super electric blue from the first Vice palette. The only matte color we get in Vice 2 is "X-Rated", a slightly underwhelming matte baby pink.

Early standouts for me are Shellshock, Damaged, Voodoo, Betrayal, Ambush and Rewind, my favorite definitely being Damaged. Urban Decay makes a killer emerald green. Betrayal is this amazing blue-purple duochrome, reminiscent of Mac's Stars 'N' Rockets, only more pigmented and smoother.

Some disappointments are Madness, Strike, Stash and Habit - all have very minimal pigmentation. Strike is like the sad version of Half Baked, while Habit is so chalky it barely shows up on the skin. Another slightly annoying thing about this palette is that there are three versions of a black-based shadow with blue glitter/shimmer (Lovesick, Prank and Poison). I'm not sure this was entirely necessary.

Overall I think this palette will be great for occasions. I foresee navy smokey eyes, green and purple accents, rose gold lids... There possibilites are endless!

What do you think about Vice 2? Liking the look so far?

PS. Abundance of Erica now offers advertising! For more info click HERE :)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Butternut Squash Soup for the Student's Soul

Hey everyone! I haven't posted a recipe for quite some time now (because frankly I'm not the best role model when it comes to cooking)... That said, I came across this super easy recipe for butternut squash soup that even I couldn't mess up, so I thought it would be a shame not to share it!

Butternut squash soup is definitely one of my favorite fall food items (right next to pumpkin pie), and I look forward to having some every year. It's great to portion off and freeze, that way you can defrost and eat it whenever you're craving a hot meal. It's a really warm and comforting pick-me-up, especially when you're smack in the middle of midterms!

- A butternut squash (cubed)
- Half a shallot (diced)
- A clove of garlic (minced)
- 1 tsp. of olive oil
- Water (3-4 cups)
- Half a beef bouillon cube (or chicken or veg)
- 1/4 tsp. of salt
- Crack of pepper
- Pinch of thyme
- Pinch of paprika (to your taste)

First you'll need to peel and cube the butternut squash, which is definitely the most strenuous/time-consuming part. Try doing it as-is, but if it's too difficult, cut the squash in half and pop it in the oven for a bit. This will soften it, making it easier to peel, and will also reduce cooking time afterwards.

When your squash is peeled and cubed, put it aside and move on to preparing the broth. Dice your shallot and mince your garlic, then add it into your pot with the olive oil. Wait until the shallot & garlic brown up a bit, and don't forget to stir. Meanwhile, grab 3 or 4 cups of water (depending on how thick or how liquidy you like it). Add half a bouillon cube to the water, as well as your salt and pepper. Add in the pinch of thyme as well. Fresh thyme is best but dried works too.

Once the garlic & shallot are ready, add the water mixture to the pot. Wait for the bouillon to dissolve, then add your squash. Let it simmer with the lid on for 30 minutes.

When the soup is ready, put it into a blender or use one of these fancy immersion blenders like I did haha. Once that's done, you can add paprika if you'd like. I think paprika enhances the flavor really well but if you're sensitive to spicy foods you can leave it out. Add more salt if you feel like it's necessary. If you find it too thick, you can add some more water as well.

That's it! Serve and add garnish with some extra paprika or thyme if you want. Overall this recipe is super easy and it's great for leftovers throughout the week. Enjoy :)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Models Own "Luis Lemon"

Hey everyone! I know this may not be the colour to expect when you think of "fall nails", but when I saw this on sale at NailPolishCanada, I just couldn't resist. I'm thinking of it as my fall nail polish palate cleanser.

"Luis Lemon" is a vibrant highlighter yellow color. It's a little sheer on its own, but a white base coat will really make it pop. The polish applies thick yet smooth, and is overall a pleasure to work with. I'm quite impressed with the quality considering most neon polishes tend to be streaky. I only needed one coat over the white to get the shade in the photo above.

This is my first Models Own nail polish and I'm excited to try out some more. "Luis Lemon" is a winner for me!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Fall Lip Love: Maybelline Super Stay 10 Stain Gloss in Ruby Induglence

Hey everyone! Last year I posted some of my fall/winter lip picks, but this year I have one product that's been better than all the rest. And it's from the drug store. Ladies, the Maybelline Super Stay 10 Stain Gloss in Ruby Indulgence is your only fall lip necessity.

The colour is this amazing, unmistakable crimson red that veers closer to berry than orange. The application is great. It has a blood cell applicator (I don't know if that's a correct term haha) that makes it easy to shape the cupid's bow. You can flip it over and fix up the edges with the sharp tip to get that perfect finish. It lasts quite long and only really needs to be reapplied after eating or something. Another part about this product that I love is the scent. It smells like Kool Aid or some other tangy juice. It's great!

I've had two opportunities as of yet to rock a darker fall lip and this product has been my choice both times. The shiny (but not sticky) finish makes it super easy to wear and reapply throughout the night.

Here's an example of me wearing it on a night out. Matches my top and red eyes perfectly ;) Hahaha.

Nail Polish Canada Wishlist #2

Ahhhhhhh I haven't posted in so long! Can you tell it's midterm season? Well, it's also holiday season for nail polishes and makeup companies... Which means new releases!!! Most of my favorite nail polish brands have already released Winter and Holiday collection so I thought I'd put together a new Nail Polish Canada Wishlist. I've done one of these once before (click here to see it), and as you know, Nail Polish Canada is the place to buy nail polish. They have every possible brand and helloooo free shipping.

First up is Color Club's "The Uptown"... I mean, do you see that gorgeous shimmer? Ugh, and that duochrome. It just looks so cool and all the reviews and swatches I've seen are great.

Next is Essie's "Sable Collar". It looks a little boring in the bottles but from the swatches I've seen, it has this really awesome metallic sheen on the nails. I don't have anything like it so it would be amazing to own.

Models Own "Hedonist" is the only polish featured in my last wish list that I still do not own. Need to get my hands on it ASAP before they get rid of it!

Next up is Essie's "Warm and Toasty Turtleneck". If you already have a light purple creme I wouldn't recommend this because it's probably similar to what you already own. BUT, I don't have any nail polish this color surprisingly, so I'm really eyeing it!

Generally I have mixed feelings about Butter London since they are pricey ($17) and their hit rate for me is 50% (I have two Butter Londons - love one, dislike the other), but "Giddy Kipper" is one I can't resist. All the swatches make it look so edgy and crisp and lovely.

This 5-piece dotting tool set is only $9.95 and really, it's only a matter of time I shell out for me. It's been sitting in my wish list for so long and I want to get into nail art more!

To my surprise, Nail Polish Canada now sells TheBalm products! So cool! The prices are exactly the same as anything you'll find in-store, and with NPC's rewards system and free shipping, it would be silly not to purchase the "Mary Lou-Manizer" there.

And finally, the creme de la creme: OPI's "Take Ten" Mini set. This set basically contains mini versions of the greatest OPI shades ever, including Pirouette My Whiste, Alpine Snow, Bubble Bath, Tickle My France-y, You Don't Know Jacques!, Cajun Shrimp, Big Apple Red, German-icure, Malaga Wine and Lincoln Park After Dark. And the best part: it's only $30! Hallelujah!

Voila! My second ever Nail Polish Canada Wishlist. Anything you've been after?