Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Fashion challenge: Go sporty-chic this Spring with Lacoste

When you think of Lacoste, what comes to mind? If you think tennis, crocodiles and the Hamptons, then you're not alone. That's just what I was thinking as I walked into the Lacoste boutique in downtown Vancouver a couple weeks ago. Why was I there? I was being asked to stretch my style boundaries as I was chosen to participate in the Lacoste challenge as hosted by the Vancouver Beauty & Lifestyle Bloggers network. My task? To take Lacoste's new Matchpoint collection and make it my own.

For their SS 2014 collection, entitled the Matchpoint & Maritime collection, Lacoste put their cultured finger on the pulse of fashion's obsession with sportswear. Merging sporty classics with urban style, the resulting pieces are vibrant, body-conscious and dare I say, a little edgy? Whatever your style, there's a little something for everyone in this collection, from Lacoste's classic polos and tennis skirts, to loose cotton pants and office-ready silk blouses.

My style is a mix of downtown chic crossed with hipster-granny, so I was intrigued by the thought of taking a classic Lacoste piece and mixing it up in a trendier way. Surprisingly, the answers to my entire outfit were from Lacoste itself thanks to a beautiful jacquard sweater. My eyes were immediately drawn to this sweater as its bright rainbow of colors and loose fit totally epitomized my style. I decided to pair it with a crisp white tennis skirt as a nod to Lacoste's roots. Paired with my favourite English Laundry sunnies, a delicate gold chain necklace and some cute Aldo flats, I was ready for dancing among the flowers.

Just J: Go sporty chic with the Lacoste Matchpoint SS 2014 collection

Just J: Go sporty chic with the Lacoste Matchpoint SS 2014 collection

Just J: Go sporty chic with the Lacoste Matchpoint SS 2014 collection

Just J: Go sporty chic with the Lacoste Matchpoint SS 2014 collection

Just J: Go sporty chic with the Lacoste Matchpoint SS 2014 collection
All photos by Mr. Artist

 Want to see more? Check out the entire collection online or view it fresh off the runway in the video below:



Thank you to Lacoste and the challenge organizers for choosing me to participate. I had a fabulous time choosing this outfit and gaining a new appreciation for the brand.

If you like the outfit I chose, I would really really appreciate if you could vote for my look as your favourite in the Lacoste Challenge!

To send your vote, simply go to the Maddy Loves Facebook page and give your “like” or comment on my outfit. By voting, you'll also be entered to win a special Lacoste prize!

A huge thanks and virtual hug for voting for me!



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Monday, April 21, 2014

Canadian Beauty Blogger Montagne Jeunesse Mask Off Challenge: Nut Oil

Just J: Montagne Jeunesse Nut Oil with Baobab oil and Marula nut oil review

It`s week 3 of the CBB Montagne Jeunesse mask off challenge and this week the girls of the CBB are reviewing the Nut Oil masque from drugstore beauty brand, Montagne Jeunesse. If you`re just joining along with this series, each week, 17 of us are blogging about the same masque and comparing reviews so that you can see how each one reacts to our different skin types. Follow along with our reviews on Twitter and Instagram via #CBBMJMaskOff and let us know what you think!

The Product
The Nut Oil masque is a lovely combination of moisturizing Baobab and deep-cleansing Marula oil. Both oils are derived from nuts sourced from Africa and have been used for generations by locals. Unlike the chocolate and Manuka honey masques I reviewed previously, this one is formulated for all skin types.

The Guts
The primary ingredients in this masque are:

  • Kaolin clay - the minerals in this clay are said to help reduce inflammation and to suck out oil and dirt. A great deep-cleansing ingredient.
  • Bentonite - another natural clay, this negatively charged clay works similarly to Kaolin clay and draws out impurities from the skin
  • Glycerin - moisturizer
  • Shea butter - super moisturizer!
So far so good - all the primary ingredients are actively doing what this masque claims to do. Other interesting ingredients are sea salt (cleanser), Baobab oil, Marula nut seed oil, and aloe vera juice (moisturizing, reduces inflammation). I'm not sure how much of Baobab and Marula ones needs in a masque to be effective, but to me, I think the kaolin and shea butter are probably doing more of the work than these "star" ingredients!


Aroma and texture
Since all the MJ masques come in the same paper packet and are all priced the same (~$2 from Walmart, Loblaws, and online), I will be concentrating instead on the aroma and texture of this masque.

Unlike the previous two, the Nut Oil masque had a very light, pleasant smell. It reminded me especially of fresh avocados, although over reviewers have noted that it smells similar to macadamia nuts.

If you've used clay masks before then there won't be any surprises here. The masque is thick, creamy and spread easily over my face in a thick layer. I could probably have stretched this out into 2 applications, but I didn't have an extra jar handy so I had to throw the leftovers away.

Effectiveness
This mask is designed to be left on for 15-20 minutes and then rinsed away, which is perfect timing for a shower! I prefer to use my masques in the shower as the steam opens your pores and helps your masque really get rid of all the gunk in there. I found this masque easy to rinse away and it didn't leave any residue.
Just J: Montagne Jeunesse Nut Oil with Baobab oil and Marula nut oil review

Hands down, this is absolutely my favourite masque so far in the series. It left my face feeling refreshed, cleansed and tighter, but without dryness. My skin felt super soft and smooth to the touch as if I'd just moisturized and the effect lasted till the next morning.

Final verdict
Buy.






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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!

Effectiveness
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
Buy



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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.

Effectiveness
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
Buy!

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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