Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Book Devoured: Review of Consider the Fork by Bee Wilson

Just J reviews: Consider the Fork by Bee Wilson

Sorry, again another food history book! I think I really need to take a hiatus on this genre as you can only take so many food books. Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat tackles food history from a different standpoint from my previous foodies reads, Cooked and A History of the World in 6 Glasses. Instead of contemplating history through the lens of particular cooking and drinking styles, Consider the Fork posits the effect of how food and culture and irreversibly intertwined and that affect on the technology of how we eat.

Whether it be the documentation of how the shape of spoons followed the rise and fall of British monarchy or how chopstick culture is so vastly different from fork culture, this book is interesting, but also kinda dull. One can only find examinations about how refrigeration got started and why a butter knife is so useless interesting for so long. This book probably needs to be about 300 pages shorter - not a good sign. To be perfectly honest, I think this book would be better served as an hour long TV special as visuals are pretty integral to understanding the evolution of food implements and seeing how kitchen design reflects the society of its time. Hopefully someone at the Food Network reads this and takes heed as I think that channel could really use less Guy Fieri and more food culture.

If you've read this book, what did you think of it?

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Buy or Ditch: The Body Shop Olive Beautifying Oil review

Just J: The Body Shop Olive Beautifying Oil review

Whether for cleansing, or moisturizing, or both, oils are the hot topic of the beauty world right now. These once maligned products are now revered as protectors of moisture and dissolvers of pesky long-wearing and waterproof makeup. The only tricky thing? Finding the right oil for your needs! Many are overpriced marketing gimmicks, while others can be too heavy and smelly for everyday use.

The Product
The Body Shop has tried to fill the market desire for gentle, light facial oils with their Olive Beautifying Oil. TBS has been in the oil business a long time and I fondly remember using their amazing Manoi oil years ago, so you know you can trust their stuff. The Olive Beautifying oil is a multi-purpose oil that you can use for the face, hair and body. You can use this oil as a skin moisturizer, or to fix split ends, and for those rough patches like elbows and knees.

Besides containing all natural ingredients that are good for your skin, this product is also good for society. The marula oil in this product is ethically sourced from the Eudafano Women's Co-operative in Namibia, which helps over 1750 women become self-sufficient.

The Guts
The primary ingredients in this product are:

  • Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride: an emollient that's gentle enough for even sensitve skin types. Derived from coconut oil.
  • Dicaprylyl Carbonate: another moisturizing type ingredient.
  • Fragrance
  • Sclerocarya Birrea seed oil: aka marula oil that has been used as a skin softener for generations in its native Africa.

Other key ingredients in this product are olive oil, almond oil and macadamia nut oil. Lastly, I have to point out how awesome the TBS website is as it not only lists out each ingredient, but also translates what they actually are for!

Price & Packaging
A 100 mL bottle will cost you $15. I actually got this one on sale for $8, but even at full price, this product gives you fantastic value. I use this primarily for my face and you need very little to cover your face in a light coating of oil. The actual packaging itself is pretty horrible as it's really hard to control the amount poured out of the bottle at once, so I transferred about a third of it to an old washed out bottle of Kiehls Midnight Recovery! Since the Midnight Recovery has an eye-dropper, I found that a much easier way to control the amount I wanted to use. Yay for product recycling!

My favourite thing about this oil is its light, floral scent. I was a little skeptical at first because olive based products don't smell very nice, but the dominant scent is actually a little fruity and floral, with a bit of a deeper vanilla base from the almond oil is my guess.

I use a large drop on each cheek and forehead and another one to fill in the gaps between on my face. This oil is very light and absorbs quickly, but I still would caution using this for daytime. Instead, I used this in place of a night serum and layered my regular night cream on top. The end result was waking up each morning with amazingly soft and plump skin. While this routine worked for my normal-dry skin, I would recommend that those with oilier skin try just using this oil by itself at first until you know how much your skin can handle.

The Verdict

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Meet Lise Watier spokeswoman Jessica Kruger at Coquitlam Centre April 17

This Thursday, London Drugs and Lise Watier are hosting a special makeover and meet & greet event with Lise Watier Something Sweet spokeswoman, Jessica Kruger. Something Sweet is the name of Lise Watier's fragrance for young, positive women and Kruger totally embodies the brand.

This special 21-year-old from Coquitlam has shown herself to be a role model already at her young age. When she was 15, Jessica fainted and fell from a ladder while painting a house. She became paralyzed as a result of cracking four vertebrae in her neck. However, Jessica has never let her disability affect her life. She is the youngest female rugby player in Canada and she has become an inspirational speaker on behalf of Worksafe BC and the Rick Hansen Foundation.

Whether you go simply for the makeup or just to feel inspired by Jessica's words, this is an event you don't want to miss!

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Canadian Beauty Blogger Montagne Jeunesse Mask Off Challenge: Manuka Honey Peel-off

Just J: Canadian Beauty Bloggers review the Montagne Jeunesse Manuka Honey peel-off masque

For 5 weeks, I and my fellow CBB members will be reviewing 5 different masks from the Montagne Jeunesse face mask line. Montagne Jeunesse is a maker of natural, eco-friendly skincare products out of the UK. Each mask comes in an individual paper packet and retails for around $2. You can find their products at Walmart and Loblaws in Canada and in various UK drug stores.

For week 1 of the challenge, we reviewed the deep cleaning, self-heating chocolate mask. To be honest, I wasn't impressed as I didn't see any noticeable effect and I actually broke out after! I rarely get any zits of any kind, so I'm positive it was due to the mask; thus I was a little nervous for this week's mask, the Manuka Honey peel-off

The Product
The Manuka Honey peel-off mask is a deep-cleansing, antibacterial mask designed to remove dirt, oil and pore clogging impurities that cause blemishes - perfect timimg for me! It is designed for oily and combination skin.

The Guts
The primary ingredients in this mask are:
  • Purified water
  • Polyvinyl alcohol - a binder that provides texture
  • PVP - another common binding agent. This is derived from petroleum, so if you're trying to avoid those, be forewarned. Although there are ample warning online against this ingredient, it only seems harmful if inhaled, which I doubt you're going to do here
  • Parfum - fragrance
It's a little concerning that the "star" ingredients here (honey, caramel, aloe vera juice, chamomile, vanilla and jasmine) don't come until mid-way in the list, but I guess that's not unreasonable since this is a self-peeling mask and the first ingredients are used to create that peeling ability.

Texture & Aroma
If you had told me this was made from pure honey, I would believe you. Not only is this mask honey colored, but it smells a lot like, and feels just like, honey! There is also a strong jasmine scent to this mask that I disliked. I would have preferred the more natural scent of honey, but the jasmine here was overpowering and kinda artificial to me.

Since the mask is so sticky, you have limited time to apply it to your face before it begins hardening. I would recommend squeezing all of the mask onto your hand, rubbing your hands together and quickly smearing it all over your face. However, this approach has its complications as well.

To use, you're supposed to leave this mask on for 15-20 minutes, then peel off to reveal your renewed, radiant skin. Unlike, the self-heating mask, I felt this one was far more sensory inducing. There was a slight cooling sensation that was quite pleasant and you can literally feel this mask tightening onto your skin like shrink wrap. Do not try to move or give any expression while wearing this mask as it will get increasingly difficult as time wears on - this must be what it feels like to have extreme Botox!

Just J: review of the Montagne Jeunesse manuka honey peel-off mask
I can still move my face!!

When the time is up, simply peel off. Yeah right. There is nothing simple about taking off a peel-off mask and I was immediately reminded of why I'd never used one since I was a teen. This mask is a pain in the ASS to remove! I got a few good strips off my cheeks, but for my nose I basically had to scratch away to get anything and my forehead... oh god. My forehead was the worst to remove. It seemed that in my haste to get the mask on, I had managed to catch every single baby hair along my hairline and my eyebrows as well. Let's just say, I plucked my brows and deep cleansed my face at the same time that night. After another agonizing 20 minutes, I finally got it all off. Although annoying, I would say it wasn't the mask's fault for being so tricky; that's just the nature of peel-off masks. Next time, I think I would try to be more careful where I applied it and to go over my face with a thicker layer so it's easier to pull off.

The end result though made all the work worth it. This mask left my face feeling super soft and clean. It cleared up my zits right away and my skin was left smooth and even. My face even smelled like honey! This mask was waaay better than the chocolate. If I could make one change to this mask at all, I would recommend that it be tinted darker so you can tell how much is left on your face. Since the mask and my skin are similar shades, I could only tell where it was on my face through touch.

Final verdict

Next week, the CBB will be reviewing the MJ "oil" mask line!

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Friday, April 11, 2014

UK trip recap!

A full week after returning from the UK, I finally feel like I've gotten over my jet lag and have caught up on my laundry, housecleaning and unpacking. Although my trip was primarily for work, it was also a great experience for me to visit a new country! Beware: this post is likely to be image heavy.

For most of the week, I was staying outside Oxford, a charming little city known of course for its abundance of old colleges. While I didn't get to do too much sight-seeing here, I would love to come back and visit again. Oxford is full of charming old buildings and cobblestone alleys. Plus, I was very surprised by the variety of ethnic restaurants available! Polish, French, Chinese, Thai, Indian, Lebanese - you name it, Oxford seems to have it. During my visit, I checked out 2 local restaurants:

Pasta at Jamie Oliver's restaurant, Jamie's Italian
Pasta at Jamie Oliver's restaurant

The first was Jamie's Italian. I'm a huge fan of TV chef Jamie Oliver, so of course I had to try this! The restaurant itself was quite cute with lots of homespun touches like herbs hanging from the ceiling and wooden furnishings. Above is my shell pasta with prosciutto, peas and fresh mint in a cream sauce; it was delicious, but nothing spectacular. As well, the service was super slow, so I'm not sure I'd come here again.

My next outing in Oxford was a little more successful. I found the Cote Brasserie randomly while wandering around the city center. Since I was dining alone, I wanted an intimate place to catch a quiet meal where I wouldn't be surrounded by rowdy diners. Cote fit the bill and I was very pleased with the result, this beautiful roasted sea bass with fennel and a slightly cream champagne beurre sauce with tomatoes. While the side veg was awfully salty and unpalatable, the sea bass was perfect with crispy skin and moist meat. I even enjoyed the fennel, which I usually don't!

Roasted seabass at Cote Brasserie

The dessert though is something that cannot be missed. Marked as a house specialty, the creme caramel is a seductive mound of creamy custard, fresh vanilla bean and dark caramel. The creme even sits in a little pool of fresh cream and caramel and I literally wanted to pick this up and lick the bowl to get it all.

Delicious creme caramel at cote Brasserie

Besides eating my face off, I also managed to do a little beauty shopping thanks to Boots Pharmacy! Of course I couldn't miss this opportunity to try some brands that we don't get in Canada:

UK drugstore beauty haul
Drugstore haul

After my week in Oxford, I opted to spend a weekend in London. The weather was amazing and totally atypical from what I had heard of London. It was sunny and warm at 20 degrees with a light breeze - perfect walking weather for strolling through London's famous Portabello Market.

Known as a haven for antique hunters, foodies and fashion lovers, Portabello is a treasure trove for unique finds. There is so much jewelry and silverware everywhere that it's a little hard to focus!

Teapots at Portabello Market
Teapots at Portabello Market

Delicious waffles at a stand in Portabello
Delicious waffles at a stand in Portabello

Dog face rugs at Portabello market
Not sure what you are supposed to do with these?

London haul part 1: goodies from Portabello market, a leather wristlet, and verbena hand cream from a Notting Hill boutique

The next day, I visited the British Museum where I totally geeked out all morning ogling ancient sculpture and artifacts from Egypt, China, Japan and Korea.

Outside the British Musuem
Outside the British Musuem

Cleopatra's mummy
Cleopatra's mummy

Hand crafted ceramic flowers in the Korea exhibit at the British Museum
Hand crafted ceramic flowers in the Korea exhibit

Ancient Japanese makeup kit - the kabuki brush looks quite similar to today's!
Ancient Japanese makeup kit - the kabuki brush looks quite similar to today's!

Japanese laquered jewelry box
Japanese laquered jewelry box

Jewelry likely worn by noblewomen in ancient China
Jewelry likely worn by noblewomen in ancient China

After the museum, I walked over to Covent Garden, a popular chic shopping and open market area. Here is where you can find everything from local artisans, to pie shops, tea shops, high street shops like Zara and designers like Dior. Sadly, I restrained myself from buying too much as the exchange rate was killing me, but even just to window shop is quite fun.

British Museum and Covent Garden haul

And that's a recap of my UK trip!

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

1 item, 3 ways: How to wear a pleated summer dress

This spring, bright, fresh colors and pleated everything are big trends. A classic, button-down pleated dress should be a staple in every closet as it is perennially stylish and easy to wear year-round. I'm a huge fan of this vibrant emerald Propaganda Yumi dress from Vancouver label, PLEN+Y and it's easy to see why:

How to wear this pleated summer dress

Made of a polyester and silk/chiffon blend, this dress gives you that wonderfully fluttery feeling that you want in spring, while still providing the ease of wash-and-go polyester.

So what are some ways you can incorporate this lovely dress into your life?

Look #1: Office ready

How to wear a pleated summer dress: office appropriate colors
Coach Bleecker Zippy wallet, $108 / Nine West Docile flats, $120 / PLEN+Y Monk & Lou Rory cocoon blazer, $209 / Olive + Piper Lilac Dome earrings, $8

Office wear doesn't have to be boring! Bring a little color into work with this fresh combo of green, cornflower yellow and lilac. Ground these springy colors with a basic black blazer and chic, but conservative flats.

Look #2: School ready

How to wear a pleated summer dress: quirky and whimsical touches for school
PLEN+Y Monk & Lou Armor cropped pullover, $69 / ModCloth Only a Pastry pin, $11.99 / Olivia Burton Mink Hummingbird watch, $151.88 / Steve Madden Nonstp bootie, $115.54 / Herschel Supply Co. City backpack, $49.99

This dress also works seamlessly for the classroom too! Layering things over the top or bottom of a dress instantly doubles its versatility. Cropped sweaters make for perfect layering pieces over dresses and this comfy Monk & Lou sweater is a prime example. Pair with equally whimsical and earthy touches to create a sweet, brainy-girl-got-style look.

Look #3: Bar ready

How to wear a pleated summer dress: black and leather take this dress to night
Danier Georgia lamb leather jacket, $299 / Zara leather bucket bag, $129 / Zara leather wide heel sandal, $59.90

This look is simple. Take this dress to your favourite concert bar or pub by adding black everything. Finish the look off with sexy, piecy waves, smokey eye-shadow and red lips (MAC Ruby Woo is a great choice!)

What do you think of these 3 looks?

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Buy or Ditch: Marcelle DD Cream Daily Defense

Buy or Ditch: Marcelle DD Cream Daily Defense

BB, CC, DD... what's with all the letters? WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?! Well, with the exception of minor differences, not a hell of a lot to be honest. After my initial love for BB creams, I've come around to the fact that this letter craze is 80% marketing gimmick and 20% legit. That being said, I'm still a fan of using these multi-tasking products for their ability to provide moisture, SPF and coverage all in one.

The Product
The Marcelle DD cream is part of Marcelle's line of letter-ized skin makeup products and has a 10 item long benefits list: This product claims to:

  • tighten pores
  • improve skin texture
  • even and smooth out the look of skin
  • promote skin renewal process
  • control shine
  • provide long-term hydration
  • protect skin from environmental stressors
  • prevent signs of aging
  • sooth and calm dry skin
  • brightening
Most of this translates to "make skin look good". Beyond that, this cream, like many Marcelle products, is also hypoallergenic, paraben-free, oil-free, fragrance-free and non-comedogenic.

The Guts
The top ingredients in this DD cream are:

  • Aqua/water
  • Cyclopentasiloxane - a common silicone derived product that gives this product a silky, spreadable texture
  • Octyldodecanol - mostly a structural ingredient, but also an emollient (keeps moisture in). Some studies have found that this ingredient can cause skin irritation
  • Glycerin - run of the mill moisturizer
This cream also contain aloe vera, camellia extract and oxtinoxate (sunscreen ingredient).

Price & Packaging
This product will cost you $26.95 for a 30 mL bottle. I've been using this product daily all winter and haven't seemed to have gotten even close to finishing!

While the size of the bottle is great, the packaging otherwise is terrible. The bottle is opaque, so you can't see how much product you have left; this is rather tragic as it also uses a pump system and you all know how much I despise pumps! The pump on this DD is especially horrific. Either you have to do multiple half pumps to get enough product out to cover your face, or you get one humongous squirt if you do a full pump and have tons left over. There is no winning. Opt for the half pump.

With all the silicones in this product, you would expect it to have a very silky texture, but I actually found this cream to be rather thick and viscous compared to a liquid foundation. It does however blend nicely and provides excellent medium coverage that truly evens out all my redness and decently conceals my freckles. I just layer this on, finish with some pressed powder and I'm good to go!

Buy or Ditch: Marcelle DD Cream Daily Defense

Buy or Ditch: Marcelle DD Cream Daily Defense

This DD does contain moisturizing ingredients, but I found that I needed to layer my regular day cream underneath this in order to prevent dryness. If you have oily skin or live in a humid climate, then you might be okay going solo on this.

The major downside with this DD is that it only comes in 2 shades: light-medium and medium-dark. I'm not quite sure which shade I am using (I received this in a gift bag and it doesn't seem to say the shade on the bottle), but I'm guessing that I'm a medium-dark, which makes this DD really unusable for anyone who has a darker than NC25 skin tone. Pretty poor of Marcelle to be so exclusive with their skin tone options! DD/BB and their ilk do tend to be more limited for whatever reason in terms of shades, but this is getting almost insulting.

Overall though, this DD provides great coverage, decent SPF and wears well all day.

The Verdict

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