Christmas Countdown: Beauty Gift Guide


Know a girl who can tell the difference between a kabuki and a stippling brush or owns a whole makeup store at home? Well we’ve rounded up five items that are bound to be on her wish list this season. To save one lucky reader from a trip to the mall, I’ve got a giveaway for one of the most favored beauty brands: MAC! See below for the great prize pack you can win and how to enter.

Benefit Countdown To Love advent calendar, $68
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Enjoy the thrill of opening up a little cardboard door to find a surprise. While you’re 7-year-old self may have enjoyed the small piece of chocolate, this limited edition calender is filled with must-have beauty goodies. Containing Benefit’s bestsellers including BADgal lash mascara and ultra plush lipgloss, everyday will be an exciting one. The calendar includes 24 mini beauty products and also a charm necklace, bracelet and barrette. It’s available at benefit or sephora stores.

Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment, $22.50



For lips that are ready for kissing under the mistletoe, this Sugar Lip Treatment from Fresh is a best-seller known for its nourishing and protective benefits that glides on easily and stay on. This isn’t your regular drugstore chapstick, and it’s a rewarding investment that keeps lips moisturized for up to 6 weeks. A personal favorite of mine, it also comes in different tints to add some subtle color to your lips!

Marc Jacobs Beauty Showstopper 7-Piece Holiday Set, $107
This is the first Christmas you’ll be able to give Marc Jacobs Beauty as a gift, the line having only been released earlier this year in August. This special holiday set gives you the best bang for your buck and the opportunity to get a taste of the different products. It’s a $261 value that comes with mascara, lipgloss, eyeliner, eyeshadow and the super chic Makeup bag. Good quality makeup for a great price!

Nicole by OPI Gumdrops nail lacquer, $7
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I’m not one for textured nail polish but these are beautiful. They are easy to apply and leave your nails looking dazzling. These give you the perfect chance to stray away from your usual colors and sparkle is perfect for the holiday season!

Vera Wang Pink Princess Eau de Parfum, $60


I’ve always been a fan of Vera Wang fragrances, but it’s Pink Princess that has won my heart with its girly smells that combines the scents of raspberry sorbet, pink hibiscus and fluffy marshmallow. Perfumes are always a great gift to give during the holidays and it’s a safe bet they receiver will love it.



Add a pop of color this holiday season with this MAC eye shadow, lip pencil and metallic pigment set!
Contest is open worldwide and no purchase is necessary. Enter below:
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Shopping Ettiquette 101

For retail employees, Thanksgiving and Christmas are not the most wonderful times of the year. As a sales associate who’s been folding clothes and cashing out items for the past four years of my life, I picture crowded malls, long lines, cranky customers and Hilary Duff’s version of “Last Christmas” playing 12 times in one day instead of the usual holiday cheer like chestnuts roasting by an open fire, jingle bells, and happiness. Now I’m pretty sure anyone who’s worked at the mall during this time can agree. If customers followed some simple rules that really are common courtesy, then maybe it can be a wonderful time for everyone. So I’ve put together a helpful and sarcastic (I’m not this mean people) list to help you shopaholics out.

1. Look, but try not to touch.

Sure, go ahead and unfold that graphic tee if you’re actually interested in purchasing it. But please, don’t walk down every aisle brushing your hand through clothes like you’re petting a row of puppies and unnecessarily making a mess. If you need a size, instead of pulling a pair of pants from the bottom as all others fly away, ask an associate to help you out. Also don’t try and use the “high reach poles” to get your own size from the rack (you need a license to handle that). It’s for your own safety, seriously.

2. Stay away from the table the employee is cleaning.
For the past hour that post-tornado of a table that once used to display nicely folded t-shirts stood untouched. Of course, as soon as a sales associate decides to tackle it and is one t-shirt away from achieving the impossible aka bringing the display back to its pristine shape, a swarm of customers come in like a pack of hungry bees.
Bottom line: If you see an employee working hard at cleaning something, don’t just come by and grab the item that they were about to fold out of their hand, or mess up the table right in front of them. Have the courtesy to at least try and pretend you’re not purposely trying to be the Tasmanian devil or ask them for the size you want.

3. If you drop something, pick it up.
Don’t think I didn’t see you knock over that sale sign with your giant suitcase purse, only to hear the sound of something crash behind you, look back, stare at the fallen object for a good five seconds, do a quick (and totally suspicious looking) scan making sure no one saw you and walk away. Seriously, just take the five seconds to bend down, pick up what you dropped and put it in it’s rightful place. Unless your clumsy self bumped over a mannequin, then run call a store employee over.

4. Find your manners and then use them.
Think of that old aunt you see every holiday that loves to pinch cheeks and say with a nasally voice, “Where’s your manners young lady/mister?” I’d recommend the golden rule of treating others the way you want to be treated but some people clearly like being a victim of Regina George. Say hello back to that overtly friendly employee greeting you at the front door, say thank you to the one who just climbed a really tall and scary ladder to get you your shoe size and say please when asking if you can have a fitting room. If you’re nice, I’ll definitely do my best to help you, but if you decide to get all Mean Girls on me then oops, I may or may not have charged you regular price for that belt that was secretly on sale.

5. Don’t ask for the employee discount if you’re not an employee.
This isn’t a car dealership where “everyone” gets the employee discount. This also isn’t a flea market or garage sale where you can bargain prices with me. I can’t and I definitely won’t give you 40% off just because you lean over the till and flash me a smile that tells me you haven’t been to the dentist in years. If you want to be cheap, I will gladly give you directions to the nearest dollar store.

6. Have your decisions made and your wallet ready when you reach the cash register.
Cashiers aren’t personal stylists who will spend hours with you deciding which color and size to get. The worst lines we hear sound something like this: “I don’t want this anymore, never mind I’ll get, wait can you get me a size small, actually I’ll take that medium, you know what I don’t want it, why’d you take that out I wanna get that.” If you haven’t made a final decision on what you do and do not want, get out of the line because you’re not only making the cashier upset but the dozen or so people lined up behind you. Also a great help would be having your method of payment out and ready, whether it’s cash, credit or debit. Am I the only one who hears the Jeopardy theme song playing while people take ten minutes to search through their purse to pull out a water bottle, makeup case, lotion bottle, pack of gum, teacup dog before actually finding their wallet?

So take a hint from some of these tips and help make this holiday season a jolly one for everyone!

Note: these are not the views of my employer, just mine, and every retail employee who suffers through the Black Friday/Christmas shopping season as well.


A self reflection on why writers write

While shopping for Christmas gifts this weekend I stumbled across a gift for myself:
642 Things To Write About by The San Francisco Writers’ Grotto

Its simple yellow notepad looking cover and the word “write” immediately jumped at me through the shelves of endless books at the store, its title vaguely familiar in the back of my head. I picked it up and without immediately turning to the back to read a synopsis that would give me a description of the seemingly obvious book, I went straight to the source, opening it up to a random page. It looked just like a test from one of my high school classes: a two to three sentence command with a dozen or so corresponding empty lines hungry for my response.

“Write two descriptions of yourself for an online dating service. First, be the kind of guy/girl who’d be taken home to meet the mother. Then, try a hot, sexy version.”

Your reaction is probably similar to what mine was. That was if you felt like it really read “Tell me the square root of 59 divided by 11 multiplied by 7934 plus 6 minus 98 divided by 486.” I’m a journalism student, there’s a reason I said goodbye to math at the very first chance I had in grade 11. Basically, I felt very much out of my comfort zone. Like, why are you asking me to do such a thing, I would never join an online dating site.

I immediately bought the book, and two more to serve as Christmas presents for some very talented writers who I feel would really appreciate something like this. Unlike my sister who was like “ew why are you buying that? That’s so stupid, what a waste of money!” Clearly, it’s a “writers thing”.

Anyways, while the book is such a great concept and I truly cannot wait to dive into it and “write a short story that is set in Detroit in 1956 in which a car floor mat plays a crucial role” it really got me thinking deeper.

You see, before I had my name published in print, interned at local magazines, interviewed celebrities and wrote articles and features about varying topics, before I even knew I wanted to be a writer and study journalism, I…wrote.
As a young child with way too much time on my hands, I found joy in writing. Starting from when I was around 9-years-old I wrote short fiction stories, diary entries, original songs, poems, and even created my own mini magazines.

I didn’t do it for an assignment, a portfolio piece, a paycheck or to see my name published in print, I did it because of pure pleasure and enjoyment. I think for a long time I forgot that that is exactly what being a writer is about. I’ve been so caught up with school and work and internships and focusing on the future. Whatever I’ve written during the past few years, ever since I made it a goal to apply and get into journalism school in grade 11, has been written with a purpose. An intent to get published, to get paid, to get my name printed and on a masthead and ultimately to get a job in the future.

Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy attending events and interviewing people in order to tell their stories to readers. But I really think writing is about being in the present and not worrying about the future. It’s about enjoying the feeling of putting your thoughts to paper, giving life to new worlds and characters, and creating something fresh and new.

Creative writing hasn’t just been a hobby of mine since I was 11-years-old, but a passion and all it took was this book 642 Things To Write About to remind me. With it’s “witty, outrageous, and thought-provoking writing prompts” I hope to rediscover my long lost love for writing and look forward to recounting “the time I peed my pants”.

This is not a sponsored post but thanks 642 Things To Write About and the San Fransisco Writers’ Grotto for creating such a beauty. I highly recommend it for any writers out there! I would also love to hear the reasons why you fellow bloggers/readers/writers out there write and what inspires you to do so in the comments below.


The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Red Carpet Premiere

The Canadian red carpet premiere of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was not your regular night at the movies. As soon as I walked into the Scotiabank Theatre in Toronto I found myself face to face with a fully uniformed peacekeeper who stood his ground, unmoving, as I gawked at what I was seeing. Ten seconds later it finally clued in that there were loud “boom” “boom” boom” sounds constantly playing over the loud chatter of excited Hunger Games fans. As I made my way up the stairs (which were of course lined with even more peacekeepers) I finally saw the source of the sounds: men dressed in “district” gear banging on bongos. It was definitely an experience in itself.

I was fortunate enough to snag a spot on the red carpet thanks to my amazing internship, with stars Jena Malone who plays Johanna Mason and Sam Clafin who takes on the role of Finnick Odair. Look below for the pictures I took on the red carpet!

As for the film itself, the critics are right, “The good news is that the new edition is a better crafted film than its predecessor.” I’ve been a fan of the books long before a film was announced, and to be honest the first film did not meet my standards. I thought the characters were well cast and Jennifer Lawrence needs to be my best friend, but overall the film felt like it had a Twilight-like feel to it. Which is in no way a good thing. With a completely new director for the sequel, Catching Fire blew away my expectations and I’m glad Francis Lawrence is here to stay for the remaining two movies. Expect a lot of action, adventure, more developments in the love triangle that involves Katniss, Peeta and Gale and of course a huge cliffhanger ending that’ll make you want to invent a time machine and fast forward to November 2014.






I would love to hear your thoughts/comments on Catching Fire! Let me know what you’re looking forward to seeing in the movie, or what you loved/hated!