New Job, Bob

So I have some big news… I got a new job! I officially accepted the offer last week and I started on Monday, so it was a pretty quick turnaround. And hence the no blogging this week, it’s been a bit crazy going from my life of leisure back to working full time. But good crazy! I am now a Senior Communications Specialist for a local hospital foundation (so I’m part of the hospital but the fundraising branch).

If you’ve followed my blog for a while you probably know that a few short months ago I was just raving on about how I was excited to be off from a 9-5 after my contract ended at Girl Guides. I mentioned that I was looking forward to freelancing and getting my own thing going, and how the last time I tried this out I didn’t give myself enough time to really give it a go before accepting a full-time position. A full time position that I didn’t even feel excited about.

Welp, I still don’t think I gave myself enough time to really write for myself and do all the things I wanted (stilllll haven’t started a podcast) to see if that could pan out. I also told myself that I wasn’t going to seriously look for anything until after the wedding. But then this position came up and it was such a good opportunity that I had to go for it. And this time feels different. I knew going into my last position that the role probably wasn’t going to be for me. I felt it when I applied, I felt it when I accepted, and I felt it on my first day all the way through to my last day. But I squashed those feelings and carried on anyway. THIS TIME I feel really excited and like I’ve found something that’s challenging and interesting, and also a great opportunity moving forward. It’s honestly the most excited I’ve been about a job in about, oh, five years.

The position is a one year contract covering a maternity leave — I know I have a lot of non-Canadian readers so I’d better explain — we get a full year (PAID!) maternity leave in Canada and you’re guaranteed your job when you come back. (Canada is awesome, I’ve never had a child but I can’t imagine only having a three month mat leave! That seems so crazy to me.) I’m assuming the woman I’m covering for (who is an old work friend of mine, I used to work in the same building as her when I worked at OFSAA!) is going to be coming back for her job and it’s possible I will be back to freelancing or whatever after this year is over. BUT you never know what can happen in a year. There could be room to move around within the organization, but even if not, it’s a senior role for a great company, so just the experience is great and who knows what doors it can open.

My first week has been really good so far but let me tell ya it’s a big change going from my leisurely schedule back to working full-time. When I was off I still tried to wake up every day between 7-7:30am, and I imposed a no-Netflix-before-4pm rule on myself so I could at least pretend to be productive. But still, the day was mine and I could do what I wanted. Usually I would go to the gym in the morning and then spend most of the rest of the day writing, usually on my couch in my leisure wear. Now I try to be at work by 7:30am, and I’m trying to fit Orangetheory in also (tomorrow I’m going to see if I can make myself take a 5:30am class). It’s a pretty big shift after weeks of doing my own thing. I felt exhausted by Tuesday. It is nice to be back into a routine again though. Which I am still figuring out, so bear with me!

So yep, new job! Just wanted to give you guys an update on that.

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My Updated Skincare Routine

I’ve had a couple of questions about my skincare routine since I mentioned it in my wedding makeup post. I’ve actually been meaning to do an update for about a year since my last post about skincare was almost two years ago!

Things have changed a bit product-wise, but actual routine wise things are pretty much the same.

In the AM: wash with water -> tone -> chemical exfoliation (Stridex, a BHA, every other day) -> moisturize -> sunscreen (even if I use a moisturizer with sunscreen I still add sunscreen if I’m going to be outside, just a moisturizer isn’t enough).

In the PM: remove makeup with baby oil (if wearing) -> wash with cleanser -> face oil -> eye cream if I remember -> lactic acid (I’ve been using Good Genes by Sunday Riley, an AHA – see below) -> moisturize.

Other than that I might throw in a sheet mask or something once a week.

Also, if you’re new to chemical exfoliation you can read more about it here. I find it’s more gentle for my skin than a scrub.

Okay, so, products.

The only one I still use that was in my last post is the baby oil if I do an oil cleanse (read about that here). I’ve switched my face wash and moisturizer to CereVe, the foaming facewash and the moisturizing cream (the one in the big tub). Both available at any drugstore. I felt indifferent to the Olay face wash and moisturizer so I thought I would switch them up. The people on Reddit Skincare Addiction rave about CereVe, it’s inexpensive, and it seems to work well for my skin. Plus they both last forever! I’mma likin’.

I got rid of the specific brand of vitamin C serum that I was using because I didn’t really notice a difference in my skin. I might try another one sometime, we’ll see.

For chemical exfoliation I switched to Stridex from St. Ives Exfoliating pads (not to be confused with the apricot scrub, don’t use that it’s bad for your skin!).

I find them to be fairly similar and interchangeable but St. Ives is discontinued so the Stridex is just easier to get. You can also find it at any drugstore. I’ve found using every other day works best for me, and I sometimes will cut one pad in half — one pad has a lot of product.

I’m using Thayer’s rose petal witch hazel toner, usually just in the morning, and I looooove it.

It’s alcohol-free and it makes my skin feel so smoothy-smooth. Honestly, I don’t even know what toner does but I enjoy using it so much I keep it up.

I’m not married to this sunscreen but I’ve been going for the Clinique Super City Block tinted sunscreen which I switched to last summer and use on top of my moisturizer.

I like it okay, but it’s not quite matte enough to be my favourite. If you have any face sunscreen recommendations I will take them!

I’m still not sold on eye cream. I think just moisturizer might be enough. But my friend sent me the Rodan + Fields Redefine eye cream a while ago so I’ve been using that when I remember to and I’ve been liking it well enough.

I don’t think I’ve noticed a HUGE difference but I guess I don’t really know what I’m looking for. I have a stubborn bag under just ONE eye (which honestly may be just how my eye is meant to be, I don’t know) and I’ve seen maybe a little improvement on that but nothing crazy. And as I said I haven’t been using it religiously. I did recently order it again though just to see if it’ll make a difference if I step it up (I think you’re supposed to use it daily both morning and night but that seems a little much to me).

Two new products that I have discovered and am absolutely loving are both from Sunday Riley — Luna Oil and Good Genes. They’re expensive so I don’t know if I’m going to be using them forever, but they come in a combo pack at Sephora for like $110 and they’re decently sized and both last a good few months (the Luna Oil a bit longer). I LOVE them both and feel like my face is just basking in luxury when I use them. I imagine it’s like putting the blood of baby unicorns on your face. I noticed a difference with both the very first night I tried them.

Luna I was wary of because it’s an oil and I thought it might make me more shiny (which I DO NOT NEED), but it didn’t at all. I use a couple of drops every night after I cleanse my face and it feels so good on my skin. It absorbs quickly, and in the morning my skin is brighter, more evenly toned and honestly my pores seem smaller. Also I should mention that it has a retinol complex in it so hurrah for anti-aging.

Good Genes I might use every other night as it’s a lactic acid (so I don’t use it on the same nights I use Stridex as it’s also a chemical exfoliator, an AHA while Stridex is a BHA). I noticed a difference right away on my skin’s texture with this. I think it makes my skin look smoother and plumper. I do experience a slight tingle when I use it but nothing irritating. I put this on about five minutes after the Luna Oil and I use a very small amount, maybe 1-1.5 pumps.

Luna Oil and good genes work really well together but if I had to pick a favourite of those two I think I’d say Luna Oil.

I have also heard really good things about Drunk Elephant products but haven’t tried any of those yet. I probably won’t switch up anything before the wedding in case my face turns into a giant hive or something, but I might experiment after that’s over.

If I’m feeling lazy at night (it happens) the least I will do is wash my face and moisturize.

Products that I’ve tried and didn’t like: Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Clay Cleanser. I just didn’t see a noticeable difference and it’s expensive so for me it’s not worth it, although it has great reviews. Also the Sunday Riley moisturizer called Tidal. It’s supposed to be a brightening cream but eh. I think it made me break out. I was good with just the Good Genes and the Luna until I introduced that. I had samples of both the Ceramic Slip and Tidal and now that I’ve tried them I don’t think I would buy them.

I’ve also heard people rave on about rosehip oil and how much they love it for their skin but I hated it. It just did not work for me. It made my face shiny again, and it made me break out. So that was a big no. It’s weird because I don’t even have breakouts often, and my skin is okay with other oils (like the Luna oil) but my skin just did not like the rosehip. And the Neutrogena Dry Touch sunscreen that I wrote about in my last post — I got it in my eyes and felt like I was going to go blind so I stopped using it after that. I didn’t really love it to begin with but thought it was okay.

I recently ordered the mineral peptides from Rodan + Fields — it hasn’t come yet so I’ll have to update you on that. But my friend who is a rep raves about it and I figure it’s a bit similar to the powder I use from Physician’s Formula (only the R+F peptides have sunscreen) so I might like it. We shall see! And speaking of R+F I really like their Essentials line of body sunscreen, best sunscreen I’ve ever used!

So that’s it! It sounds like a lot but honestly I’m pretty lazy when it comes to skin maintenance and neither routine takes very long. But if you’re looking for somewhere to start I think just cleanse -> moisturize -> sunscreen is a good place!

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Makeup Trials and Cosmic Birthday Bowling

Saturday was very exciting because I had my wedding makeup trial (for the Toronto wedding, Cuba we’re doing our own) and it was also my birthday party. We were going bowling so I was looking forward to seeing how my makeup would hold up in a sweaty bowling circumstance. I am SURE I’m going to be sweating in my wedding dress, especially with everyone staring at me, and I don’t want a face melt situation.

As attractive as that would be.

I feel like getting your makeup done by a professional is SUCH a TREAT and I’ve always loved how makeup artists bring out my features. I basically want to look like me only enhanced. I don’t want Evan to see me on our wedding day and be like “who is this stranger walking down the aisle towards me?” but, ideally I’d like to look better than usual.

My makeup artist Natalie (<- check her out, she is amazing and I’m not sure how I landed her) came over around noon and got to work on the ol’ face situation. I showed her an inspiration photo but it was just one I grabbed quickly and wasn’t in love with, and in hindsight it was maybe too glam for me. She did tone it down a bit though, and I was so happy with the final product. Here’s a before, no-makeup-just-moisturizer picture for reference.

And here’s an after.

Yowza, pretty big difference. Though the lashes were a bit out of control. Natalie even mentioned how ridiculous they were and promised to bring smaller ones the day of.

I liked the look of them with my eyes closed but when my eyes were open it was way too much. Otherwise I thought I looked pretty fab, but also sort of like I got shot in the face with a makeup gun…

…but I think that’s because I wear very minimal makeup usually. My day-to-day “look” consists of face powder (I use Physician’s Formula mineral powder), some blush, mascara and chapstick or lip gloss. If it’s a special occasion and I’m going out I’ll usually add eye shadow (always various shades of brown), some bronzer, maybe liquid liner and maaaaybe lipstick if I’m feeling saucy. So seeing myself with a full face of makeup felt weird and unnatural. I never do my brows either so that was a shock. But once I ripped those lashes off, I was really feeling it!

I probably should pluck my brows a bit under their natural line. Anyway, that look really grew on me once I stared at myself for a while and took selfies (Natalie instructed me to!). I think she did such a great job. I’ll take your feedback for sure! That’s what the trial is for. My feedback is, I loved my skin (she said on the day of she’d add a bit more bronzer), she absolutely slayed my eyes, although maybe I’d swap that black for a darker brown, I’m not sure on that one yet, and maybe one shade lighter on the brows? I’m not a pro with brows though so I don’t really know. I liked the lips and I think I’d go for that colour, although I’m going to search for a double-ended lipstick gloss that will last all day.

Everything aside from the lips lasted allll day and allll night and I got my friends to update me throughout the evening on what my makeup was doing. It was very helpful. I tend to get shiny (although now that I have a great skincare routine my shine has definitely lessened) but I never became an oil slick, even with bowling and tearing up the dance floor later, so that is a win!

Evan and I hung around the rest of the day (I even napped with that makeup) until it was time to head out to the pub where we were starting our night. There were about 18 of our friends in attendance and it was SO FUN to hang out there with everyone for a couple hours. Scarlett was even in attendance, enjoying her ice cream.

As one does.

Evan I guess decided that one cake wasn’t going to be enough for everyone so I ended up with two cakes!!!

Both magnificent. White chocolate in front and banana nut in the back. OMG they were both so good. Side story, for my first birthday that Evan and I were together we were going to a party at Dawn’s and Evan didn’t bring a cake, he just didn’t think of it. Which, fair enough. He told me later that Dawn said to him “Just for your information…it is always the boyfriend’s job to bring the cake.” So, after receiving that feedback he has never forgotten the cake. And he has always brought the most amazing cakes. This year was a highlight for sure.

We stayed at the pub for about two hours for dinner and drinks and then about 16 of us headed to the bowling alley for cosmic bowl! Or as we called it back in high school (and this is the same place we went to, YES the place where I asked the guy working the front counter who looked like James Vanderbeek for that donkey and his phone number) ROCK’N BOWL.

It was just as fun as I remembered, although we didn’t play with beer back in high school and I thought that would make me better but it strangely did not. It did make me care less about my score, though.

I wore my most fluorescent shirt for the occasion (because black lights) and Evan wore his most professional bowling shirt.

/poker shirt that I scored for him in Vegas for like 90% off (probably because it was so ugly that no one would wear it…but Evan likes!).

I’m just going to pause here and head off what I think is coming (because I posted this photo on social media and have a general sense of the comments). Yes, I have lost a bit of weight. Maybe about 5-10 pounds since September (I fluctuate up and down about 5 pounds daily so I don’t weigh myself that often because of this). I would attribute this mostly to OrangeTheory rearranging things (I’ve been going about four times a week lately and am definitely seeing results!). BUT please know that that is also just a good photo. I’m doing the skinny arm pose hard, the picture was taken from above which prevents double chinnage, half of my body is behind Evan’s sweet Vegas shirt, and I had my makeup professionally done. So, there’s an element of illusion here. Just wanted to mention that.

Anyway, it was a fun bowling time with all our friennnnnds.

See, the double chin has reappeared.

Even Scarlett played! We had two 10 pin lanes and one 5 pin so she could actually pick up the ball.

We had our lanes for an hour and a half and then the lights came on signalling that our time was up. My original plan was for Evan and I just to head back to Sherrie’s for a sleepover but we were all feeling the night, so Mark took Scarlett home and the rest of us headed to the Tartan (our favourite Oshawa pub) to keep the party going. We shut that place down and now being 34, I am pretty proud of that. I hope we can keep it up for another 10 years. Then we headed back to Sherrie’s and Will made his famous poutine, which I didn’t even get to eat because I needed to go to bed. Sad day.

It was a really fun night and it made me even more excited for the Cuba wedding because most of those people are coming. Shenanigans all around.

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Music Monday

I have been meaning to do a post about music I’m loving for about a year now. Lately I’ve found that I haven’t been listening to as much music as I’ve been doing OrangeTheory more than running and when I’m in the car I’ve mainly been listening to podcasts instead of my usual rocking out.

I do have a good playlist on the go right now though. Paula asked me over the weekend what music I’ve been listening to lately because she needed some new songs, which reminded me that I haven’t written about music in a while. So, I thought I’d post my current faves. Clicking on the links will take you to the song’s video on YouTube.

I’m also always on the hunt for new music so if you want to let me know your current faves I’m all for that!

10,000 Emerald Pools – B0RNS

2AM – Bear Hands

Blame – Bastille

Cake By The Ocean – DNCE

Cheap Thrills – Sia feat. Sean Paul

Death Of A Bachelor – Panic! At The Disco (thanks for reminding me of this one Paula!)

Don’t Let Me Down – The Chainsmokers ft. Daya

Fool’s Gold – Dagny ft. B0RNS

Gone – JR JR

Heathens – Twenty One Pilots

Heavydirtysoul – Twenty One Pilots

Human – Rag’n’Bone Man

Joy Rides – MUTEMATH

Kiss This – The Struts

Moaning Lisa Smile – Wolf Alice

My House – Flo Rida

Ride – Twenty One Pilots

She Burns – Foy Vance (really loving this one)

Tell Me – Bros (love the video for this one, but it’s in Toronto so I might be biased)

The Drugs – Mother Mother

Trip Switch – Nothing But Thieves

Waste A Moment – Kings Of Leon

Young & Unafraid – The Moth & The Flame

Your Love Could Start A War – The Unlikely Candidates

That’s it for now…but maybe Music Monday will become a new feature around here!

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We’ll All Float On OK

Last Wednesday was my birthday! March 1st! I was too busy with my California recaps to mention it I guess. I turned 34, so not like a crazy milestone or anything.

Funny story though, I was making the Facebook event group for my birthday party this weekend (we’re going cosmic bowling) and I wrote in it that I was turning the big 3-5. I remember writing it and thinking “damn girl, 35 is a big year!” I don’t know what happened but I genuinely forgot how old I was and assumed I was a year older than I actually am. About an hour later my friend Dawn commented “uh, did we skip a year? You’re turning 34.” HOLY MEATBALLS I AM. I’m still young!!!! Oh I was ecstatic to realize that I was a year younger than I thought. And I’m pretty sure a sign of getting old is forgetting your age…

Anyway, on my actual birthday Evan took me out for a surprise night. He made a reservation at my favourite pizza place in the city, Pizza Libretto on the Danforth. Yessssss.

Man I love that pizza. I’m sure there are better pizzas, probably even in the city, but there is just something about that one. I also really like their tiramisu, and that is saying something because I am not a tiramisu person at all. Theirs is so delicious though, more of a pudding than a dry cake.

Evan had another surprise activity planned afterwards and I tried unsuccessfully all through dinner to guess what it was. I had no idea and I didn’t come close to guessing. I don’t think I would ever in a million years got it. He made us a reservation at the H20 Float Spa.

A float pod, or also called a sensory-deprivation tank. I’ve heard about these and have been so intrigued. Evan and I have discussed in the past what an interesting experience it would be — but it’s expensive and not a luxury I would ever think to purchase for myself.

If you’re not familiar, basically for an hour you float in a dark pod filled with water that is exactly body temperature and has something like 1,000 pounds of epsom salt in it. I’ve never been so buoyant. I mean, I’m a good floater in general, I got that down, but even if you don’t know what you’re doing it would be impossible not to float in this water.

So, why would you do this? You can read all the details on the website, but basically it’s the most relaxing thing you’ll ever experience for your mind, your body, your emotions, your skin, and it has several other health benefits.

You have your own private (locked) room with your float pod and a shower filled with wonderfully smelling shampoo, conditioner and body wash, and they provide you with flip flops, ear plugs, body lotion, fluffy robes and towels as well. Evan packed me a bag with my bathing suit and some toiletries in it, which was thoughtful, but I just went naked for a true free and breezy experience.

You can listen to music (theirs or your own), relaxing sounds, or you can listen to nothing but your own breathing. I listened to ocean sounds and Evan listened to the jungle over in his pod room (I’m not sure if the jungle would be particularly relaxing for me). You can close your pod or keep it open if you don’t feel comfortable, and you can leave the lights in the room and in the pod on or turn them off. I turned off everything and closed the pod and I didn’t have any feelings of anxiety or anything. Once you’re in there for an hour an alarm goes off to let you know your time is up, and then you have 10 minutes to shower and stuff.

I loved it. It really was the most relaxed I’ve ever been. How often do you do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for an entire hour? It was weird, but it was wonderful. Once you’re in there for a few minutes you can’t even feel the water anymore so it really is like you’re just floating on nothing. I did have a hard time shutting my brain off though. I found that most of my thoughts were about what I should be thinking about. For at least the first half an hour my brain was just casting around for things to dwell on.

My thought process went like this: Should I think about my book? Should I think about what I’m doing with my life? Should I think about Evan? Should I think about wedding stuff? I need to write my wedding vows, should I think about those? Should I think about nothing? Should I think about my friends? Should I try to fall asleep? Should I think about my breathing? Should I get out and switch the music to Jack Johnson?

I only had an hour and felt I needed to have a deep revelation about something by the end of it, but because I couldn’t think about any one thing in particular, I didn’t. Or maybe I wouldn’t have anyway. For a while I just stared at the purple-ish spots my eyes made in the dark and thought about what kind of shapes those looked like.

The awesome thing is, I get to go again. Evan got a three pack so I have one float spa experience left. Next time I’m going to prepare for it. I’m gonna go in there armed with Jack Johnson and hopefully figure my life out and it’s going to be great!

Also I wanted to mention that my skin has never been so smooth! That salt water really did a body good. I still think it’s super expensive and probably not a luxury I would by for myself, but if you ever have the chance to try it, go for it.

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Happy or Hungry Eats the World: Scotland

I am on a mission to eat an authentic dish from every country in the world, right here in Toronto. You can find all past recaps here.

OH Ye’ll take the high road and I’ll take the low road,
And I’ll be in Scotland afooooooore ye!
But me and my true love will never meet again,
On the bonny, bonny banks o’ Loch Looooooomond

For some reason I’ve had that song in my head for like a month. I’ve been singing it to Evan and Tilly in my best Scottish accent (which is awful). They like it.

Anyway, last week the bloggers and lagers ate Scotland! Aye, we ate it good. I looked up the best place to eat Scottish food in Toronto and the overwhelming Google search result was the Caledonian, a pub on College Street, so that’s where we headed.

(source)

It’s all cute and Scottish in there.

Not only are they known for their authentic Scottish food, but also their whisky — they have over 200 different kinds! Their whisky menu was like a novel, it was crazy.

Now, obviously we could not drink all the whisky or we’d be right blootered, but we wanted to do a flight and the Whisky tour of Scotland seemed like a good place to start. It came with six different kinds, each a half ounce: Auchentoshan (12 year Lowland), Glenmorangie (1o year Highland), Glenfiddich (15 year Speyside), Highland Park (12 year Island), Longrow (10 year Campbeltown) and Ardbeg (10 year Islay). Perhaps those mean something to those of you who are whisky savvy, but they didn’t mean much to us.

I like a good whisky with coke or in a cocktail, but I’ve never ordered just whisky on its own. I’m not sure if its something I would make a habit of doing but I enjoyed our tasting. I could taste differences between the whiskies but I dinnae if I could elaborate on the flavour notes or anything. Some of them were definitely more strong than others, and one of them, I think the glenfiddich, was really smoky. This is a very helpful review, I know. I should have taken notes.

I also ordered a Tennents lager, I was excited it was on tap!

Onto the food. If you read my English food post you know I was a little iffy on haggis, Scotland’s national dish.

Traditionally it’s a savoury pudding with lamb heart, liver and lungs, minced with animal fat (suet), onion, oatmeal, stock, spices, etc. and boiled in the lamb’s stomach (though now apparently they use artificial casing), usually served with mashed turnips and potatoes (or neeps and tatties) and whisky. I cannae say it sounds the most appetizing (minus the neeps and tatties).

But, when in Scotland. We’d be a bunch of dunderheads if we didn’t try it.

We started with the Taste of Scotland appetizer with a Scotch egg, sausage rolls and haggis fritters.

It was pure dead barry (fantastic). I loved it all, especially that Scotch egg! If you want to try haggis but are a little weird about it, I feel like a haggis fritter is a good way to get your feet wet. I don’t think I’ve ever met a fritter I didn’t like. The haggis fritter was no exception.

Since I had warmed up to the haggis, for my main dish I just went for it. I ordered the Haggis, Neeps and Tatties, Scotland’s national dish of lamb, oats and spices served on a bed of turnip (neeps) and potato (tatties) mash.

Michelle ordered the same and Casey got the vegetarian haggis. I have to say that I really enjoyed that the haggis did not appear to have a casing. I was not creeped out by it at all and actually thoroughly enjoyed my dish. I ate every bite. It just tasted like a mellow lamb dish, but there’s also a warm and earthy dimension in there. Almost like a meatloaf I guess. My only wish was that there was a wee bit more gravy, but that’s a common wish for me.

I noticed that deep fried Mars bars was on the menu for dessert and I was sad because I wanted to order it, but I also wanted to eat an authentic Scottish dessert. GUESS WHAT. A quick Google search confirmed that deep fried Mars bars are in fact a Scottish dessert! (of course they are!) They originated as a novelty item at Scottish chip shops. So, I had an excuse to order it.

Anything in the name of research! Shovelled that right into the ol’ gob. I love a deep fried Mars bar and it’s been so long since my last one! Almost had to unbutton my breeks after that but it was so worth it.

And that’s Scotland!

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