Friday, November 4, 2016

Saying Thank You




With all of the events leading up to our wedding, I have had a lot of opportunity to write thank you notes recently. With more than one shower and a bachelorette party, we have received so many generous gifts, and we of course wanted to extend our gratitude. This has led me to realize that I have a bit of an obsession with thank you notes and stationery. There are so many cute options out there, and there is something about book and stationery stores that could keep me browsing for hours on end.

I have found that events surrounding a wedding have a bit more of a generous timeline. You still want to keep it within a month or so, but you have a little extra time.
What is your opinion on thank you notes? Where do you like to shop for them? Any particular favourites? I'm always looking to add more to the ones I have on hand!

I had never really sent a thank you note until I went on a summer mission that required asking for financial support. I sent a thank you to everyone who supported me, either financially or those who committed to supporting me through prayer. I've honed my skills a little bit and feel little less awkward writing down my thanks now, so I thought I'd share a bit here!

What to Say
I actually really like to focus on something other than the gift first. If the gift was given at or in relation to an event, thank them for attending, or if they weren’t able to attend, still mention how lovely the event was and that you wish they could have been there (nicely – don’t make them feel bad for not being there!).

Of course there are some instances where you’re really just thanking them for the gift (or service), in that case go straight to thanking them for the gift/service but then add in something else about your relationship. You could tell them how you appreciate their friendship, say you would like to get together soon, let them know you'll send an update soon, or mention that you hope you can return the favour in the near future.

When mentioning the gift, there are a few ways to go about it. You can be a little more general and just say thank you for their gift or you can actually name the item. If there were multiple items, I find it is best to keep it general. In the case of monetary gifts, I always keep it general and refer to it as their “generous gift.” For gifts that are things, I like to mention how we’ll use it or what I’m excited for about it. If it was a service, I like to mention how it helped us out, and if it was a monetary gift, I like to mention what we’re thinking of putting it towards or how it will help us in a slightly more specific way.

Timing
First of all, being prompt is best. For birthday, anniversary, special events, or random gifts, I would say that writing and sending your thank you within a week is the timeline I like to stick to. However, you can gauge the situation best. There isn’t actually a rule here, so you can choose! Just think about if you were on the receiving end, when would you like to receive it?

Weddings are also a little different, there is a larger socially acceptable time period for a thank you card. This may have something to do with the sheer volume of thank yous usually coming after a wedding, and also the whole settling into life as a newly married couple, maybe even coming back from a honeymoon too. Even still, some websites say that as long as you get the thank you out within the next year you’re good, but I’d say that’s still pushing it. Stick to as soon as you can after the wedding, and try not to exceed three or four months.

Other Tips
- Spell names correctly
- Keep your audience in mind (maybe save that funny and slightly vulgar thank you card for someone other than your conservative aunt).
- Sometimes it’s even sweet to include a picture of the gift being used (a toy for your child, an outfit for your dog, flowers in a vase).
- Even if you don’t like the gift, send a thank you! And don’t let your opinion of the gift show in your thank you (no one likes rudeness in the form of passive aggressive thank yous).
- Don’t OVER thank. There is such a thing as overkill and you don't want to get caught in a revolving thank you door.

Other Ways of Saying Thank You
Sometimes a thank you card might be a bit of an overkill (see above), or the person you’re wanting to thank doesn’t have a permanent address. Whatever the reason, sometimes you just don’t want to send a thank you card, but you still want your gratitude to be known. You can send a text, an e-mail, give the person a call, or set up a coffee date where you treat… Thank you cards are not the be-all-end-all, they’re just a nice gesture! And on that note, not everyone feels the same way as you, so if someone else doesn’t say thank you in any way, try your best not to take offense – more likely than not it just didn’t cross their mind. (It is best to assume innocence).

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Letting Yourself Slow Down

My favourite way to slow down and relax: a lovely scented bath.

I wrote this post back at the beginning of October, saved it as a draft with the intention of choosing a photo for it, and then never came back to it. Instead of scrapping it, here you go!
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So, we've been back from Ottawa for a little while now. I had all of these ideas of posting all about what we did while we were there, possibly multiple posts, because it would just be that interesting. But then when we came back I had a couple of days at work and then I got sick, really really sick. A fever of almost 103 degrees Fahrenheit sick. And it just wasn't fun.

The day after I became ill, my bridesmaids threw me a bridal shower, which I toughed out because I didn't want to have to cancel the morning of. It was absolutely beautiful and they did a wonderful job, but I was switching between sweating and chills and could barely lift my own gifts into my lap. So, needless to say, I don't really have any pictures to share of that day. I will say, though, that I am absolutely overwhelmed by the love and support shown to me by all the women that attended. Their generosity was equally overwhelming and I do not deserve to be showered in so many gifts!

I spent the next week essentially in bed. And then, this past weekend, we had two weddings to attend in Regina. One was my cousin's wedding and the other was for two of our friends. I did makeup for our friends' wedding, and it worked out that we were able to attend both weddings, because the receptions were literally across the street from each other. So we wedding hopped! We of course spent the most time at my cousin's wedding, because family is wonderful and we wouldn't want to miss out on that experience at all, but it was so nice that we could join for some of our friends' celebration as well.

I probably could have just done a little recap here without mentioning that I was ill, but I felt it necessary to mention. I have had quite a bit on my plate the last couple of months. We had a wedding to attend out of province at the end of August. Work was absolutely crazy at the end of August, and only slowed down slightly at the beginning of September before we were off to Ottawa for my cousin's wedding. Then came my bridal shower, and then two weddings in the same day (one of which I was technically working at, and up at 6:30am for). Yesterday was two months until our wedding, and while all the absolutely necessary things are all in place, there are so many little things that still have to be dealt with. I knew I was heading in to a busy season, but I really didn't prepare myself for it. I was actually quite aware that something was going to have to give, but I really had no clue where to make a cut. My body decided to make that decision for me. As much as taking a week off from life can somewhat suck when you have to get back into it again, it was exactly what I needed.

I am a big fan of taking the necessary time to make sure you are in a good place before pouring yourself out into all of the important things. Sometimes it's easier said than done, though. And right now I am just trying to remind myself to slow down. It's okay if I don't do much beyond wedding stuff for the next two months. It's not to say that life will magically become much less hectic once we are married, but it will change. It will be a new season and we can make other priorities.

Slowing down for me means being ok with spending an evening at home even though I would love to see some friends I haven't seen in awhile. Right now it means choosing 2 or 3 things to accomplish outside of work in a given week, and being happy with myself for that, instead of pushing for 5 or 6. It means letting go of projects or tasks that don't add value or that are just not necessary at this time.
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It was great coming back and reading this almost a whole month later. We are now a month away from our wedding, work isn't slowing down, we're looking for a place to live, and we're still finishing up some details for the wedding. I keep having to remind myself daily to slow down and let myself be. Rest is important, and usually more so when you don't feel you have the time for it.

What is your favourite way to take some time for relaxation? Lately I've been enjoying stealing a bit of time for a bath. You can't really get stuff done from the bath tub, and that's a good thing.

Monday, September 5, 2016

August Beauty Favourites



I tend to use these products all. the. time. so they aren't just August favourites, they are my all time beauty favourites. I'll do my best to be back next month with some new products to share.

Garnier Micellar All-in-1 Cleansing Water
I really, really like micellar waters, and this one is in my top two, along with the wonderful Marcelle 3-in-1 Micellar Solution. This one is great! It takes off all makeup, waterproof included, does not sting, is not scented, and does not leave a residue on the skin. Let me know if you would like an in-depth review of the different micellar waters I have tried out - I have tried many!

This is my go-to for days that I do not want to wash my hair, but am still styling my hair down. It keeps the oil at bay, isn't too chalky (as long as you use it right), and the scent is pleasing but doesn't linger all day.

My favourite everyday foundation. This is great for oily combination skin as it doesn't get greasy looking and it sets really nicely. Also, SPF is a great addition for everyday.

This is almost identical to the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz, but for a fraction of the price. I like that you don't have to sharpen it and also how thin the pencil is.

I have used this paint pot as an eyeshadow primer for quite a few years now. I've tried a few others, but I never end up liking them nearly as much. I really like how thick this one is and how it evens out your eyelid. Sometimes I use just this, set with a bit of translucent powder.

This toner is my absolute favourite right now. It is perfectly calming, while still actually toning and smoothing your skin. I really like the dōTERRA essential oils, so I tried out some of the skin care and only this product really struck a chord with me. If you're interested in trying it out please let me know, I am a Wellness Advocate with dōTERRA and can help you place your order.

I used to really like the Urban Decay All Nighter Long-Lasting Makeup Setting Spray, and it's still pretty great, but this is a wonderful substitution (and it's less expensive). 

I use this as a primer in my t-zone. It's not super fantastic or anything, but it definitely helps with fighting the late-day shine. I have found I can go about 2 hours longer before having to powder my t-zone when I have this on versus when I am using nothing or a different primer.  

These brushes are pretty much all fantastic. This is the one that I have been using for blush pretty much everyday, or at least when I am using quite a pink blush (as you can see in the photo).

You may have heard about the Ben Nye Banana powder, which is great... for the right skin tone. If you're a little more fair or a little more pink undertoned like me, try out this rose hued beauty instead. You'll love it!

Super moisturizing, and super tasty smelling. This is my favourite lip balm to put on at night, under lipstick, over lipstick to help with a drying colour, or any other time you can think of. It's great. 

Another product that I have been using for many years, this highlighter is great. It's a champagne colour which is lovely on so many skintones and it lasts forever. I've bought quite a few over the years, but they definitely last a long time.

In my opinion, the BEST concealer out there. It covers without being too thick and it doesn't crease. It's fantastic, and there are quite a few shades to choose from.

I got this deluxe sample size as a point perk while shopping online at Sephora, but I didn't think I would like it nearly as much as I do. I haven't tried all the matte liquid lipstick formulas out there, but this is definitely my favourite formula so far. It's matte without being drying and I really like the sort of minty scent!

This palette is my favourite for everyday. I used to really like the first Naked Basics Palette, but I find this one has more usable shades for everyday (all six versus just 4 for me from the first palette). They're both awesome, though!

This is a lovely, my lips but better colour. It's great for everyday but also pulls off the nude look when doing something intense on the eyes. 

What were your favourite beauty items in August?!

Disclaimer: This post contains some affiliate links. Thank you for supporting brands that support this blog!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Ottawa Recommendations?





We are heading to Ottawa in September for my cousin's wedding and we are so excited! I have been there a couple times, but only for a few short days and always with a purpose that filled all of my time. So, with that being said, I would love to hear your recommendations for places we must go! I am more looking for restaurants, pubs, coffee shops, and bakeries, but all suggestions for what to do/see/eat are welcome! You can comment here, send me an e-mail (sarah.sweetspontaneity@gmail.com), tweet me, or let me know on Instagram!


P.S. The photo above is from my first trip to Ottawa in October 2013. You can't really tell, but all those people behind me? They're dressed as zombies. My first visit to Parliament was made all that much more interesting by the Zombie Walk that I had absolutely no idea was going to take place until I was walking out of the building and down the steps and saw all of these terrifying people coming towards me. Thankfully I don't watch many zombie movies or shows, or else I would have been terrified!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Finding the Adventure in Day-to-day Life

A photo I snapped while practicing mindfulness as I wandered around London, England.

If you know me well, you know I am one of those people with a case of wanderlust that I just cannot seem to satisfy or shake. I dream of far off places and days spent in different cultures. However, my lifestyle for the past few years has not been very accommodating when it comes to travel and I have found myself mostly Saskatchewan bound. This is not without joy, though. I have chosen to not make a priority of travel at this time, and I am not sitting here feeling trapped in my surroundings, aching to go – even though that would have been me about five years ago.

With less traveling I have really come to love where I live, and while I still wouldn’t call myself a homebody, I do enjoy being here. I have found that not knowing where my next adventure will lead me or when it will happen has helped me to find the adventure in my day-to-day life.  Surprisingly enough, I chose that as my blog tagline long before I think I actually knew what it meant. It wasn’t until recently that I started enjoying the beautiful melody of the birds chirping in the fresh morning air, or the softly fragranced breeze while walking near a garden.

Something that has kept crossing my mind lately is to be more intentional about these moments. To really be aware of the beauty surrounding me, instead of yearning for someplace else. One of my favourite things about being in Rome is wandering the streets early in the morning, before many people are up and about; the dewy air starting to dissipate with the sunshine sneaking between buildings as it continues to rise and awaken the city with it. Everything is fresh, everything is quiet, and, most importantly, I notice all of this. I cannot tell you the number of times I have been walking to work in the morning with a very similar situation going on around me, only to quickly pass it all and get in to the building that I work in. Lately, though, I have noticed the birds, I have noticed the rising sun, I have noticed the fresh, sweetly scented air, and you know what? It is amazing! The peace and calm that the 30 seconds of being mindful brings to me is worth so much I cannot even compare. Yes, being in Rome or another far-off place is wonderful and beautiful and it is extremely important to be mindful there too, but imagine how happy I would be if I allowed myself to have that same mindset everyday, all day while at home? It brings me so much joy just imagining the possibility!

What is something in your everyday that you find extremely beautiful or that reaches a special place in your heart, but you tend to take for granted? Have you ever intentionally practiced this kind of mindfulness, or is this how you have always lived? (Teach me your ways!) Please share a moment like this – big or small, I would really appreciate hearing about it!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Recent Beauty Buys (Makeup Haul: Sephora & Shoppers Drug Mart)

So, for the last couple of years I have been doing pretty good about using up beauty products that I have on hand instead of purchasing new, but every now and then I slip up and a bunch of products find their way into my possession. This is one of those times. I mainly stocked up on items that needed replacing, but there are a few things in here that were just because I wanted them.

Sephora
First up, Sephora. This all started because I received an e-mail about a promotion where online orders could get three deluxe Fresh samples. This is why I never open those e-mails. They work.



I actually only bought two items: a new NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Vanilla and the Nails Inc. Nailpure Nail Polish in London Court.

Then I used 100 points to get the Tarte Tarteist Creamy Matte Lip Paint in Nude.

The three Fresh deluxe samples I chose were the Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask, the Seaberry Moisturizing Face Oil, and the Sugar Nourishing Lip Balm Advanced Therapy.

Finally, I was supposed to get five free samples, but it seems the Sephora Collection Mud Mask Purifying & Mattifying didn't make it into my box. The four samples that did make their way to me are Mandarine Glaciale by Atelier Cologne, Black Opium by Yves Saint Laurent, Benefit's Goof Proof Brow Pencil Easy Shape & Fill,  and Bumble and Bumble's Surf Foam Wash Shampoo and Surf Creme Rinse Conditioner.

Shoppers Drug Mart
Next, Shoppers Drug Mart. There was a 20x Your Points event if you spent $75 or more on beauty products and I had a bunch of items that had run out or were about to. So these are mainly repurchases of favourite/everyday items. Also, I really like the Shoppers Optimum points system, and generally try to take advantage of these events.



Items I picked up (all available at Shoppers Drug Mart, but also linked for convenience):
Rimmel London Stay Matte Pressed Powder in Transparent
COLAB Dry Shampoo in New York 
Vichy Pureté Thermale One Step Cleansing Micellar Solution 3 in 1
NYX Micro Brow Pencil in Taupe
NYX Dewy Finish Setting Spray
NYX Matte Finish Setting Spray
Covergirl Outlast Stay Fabulous 3-in-1 Foundation in 810 Classic Ivory
Batiste Dry Shampoo in Blush

Have you tried any of these items? What have you picked up recently?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Marcelle Makeup and Skincare Haul

I won an Instagram contest hosted by London Drugs and Marcelle and this is what I got! I was super excited when they DM'd me letting me know I had won, and it was super nice heading to my nearest London Drugs (which I frequent often) to pick up my prize. I used to work in the beauty department there (many years ago) and my manager, Sherri, is still there and we had a nice catch up.



All of these products are Marcelle products, because it was a Marcelle giveaway. My absolute favourite micellar water is from Marcelle, and it's actually the only thing I have really tried from Marcelle (I was surprised when I realized this!) Receiving a full bottle was a prize enough itself, so all these other products are a bonus and I cannot wait to give them a try!

Included in the giveaway prize (London Drugs linked when possible):
Volum'Xtension Magnetic Mascara
Xtension Plus Mascara
Ultimate Fringe Effect Mascara
Kohl Eyeliner - Black
Make-up Removing Cleansing Cloths
Gentle Makeup Remover for Sensitive Eyes
3 in 1 Micellar Solution
Moisture Lotion
BB Cream Beauty Balm in Light to Medium
BB Cream Matte in Light to Medium
CC Cream SPF 35 in Light to Medium

Have you tried any of these? Any favourites? Anyone else like the micellar water as much as I do?! Would you like to see reviews of any of these products?

Monday, July 4, 2016

Living Life Lately

So, it looks like I didn't post anything in June. I guess that's what happens when you're busy living life!

I have been up to a lot in the past month, and this last week especially!

We had our engagement party, which turned out to be a great evening, complete with some DIY projects like this tassel garland.



I did makeup for a couple weddings, and attended a few as well.




I bought many succulents for our wedding centrepieces, I repotted a couple succulents and cacti, and I prepped the small terracotta pots for our centrepieces.







In this last week, I did graduation makeup and hair for one of my dance students and attended her graduation in Hepburn, SK.



On Wednesday, Dan I attended the free screening of The Wizard of Oz at the Bessborough Gardens to celebrate 30 years of the Sasktel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival. The weather was absolutely beautiful and we had a fantastic time!



Then, on Thursday morning, I was off to Gravelbourg, SK to get ready to celebrate my best friend's wedding. The weekend went by so fast, but it was absolutely beautiful. Friday was Canada Day, but we were so focused on the prep for the wedding that we didn't do much celebrating with the red and white. The rehearsal dinner was a tasty barbecue, though, which is very Canada Day-esque.

Tann put so much thought and work into every little moment and detail, and not bit of that was lost in the total effect of the day. She was the most beautiful bride I have ever seen, and I definitely had trouble keeping my eyes dry. I cannot wait to have her stand beside me in December as my matron of honour.

We even started the wedding day with a mimosa bar courtesy of yours truly while we got ready.



After a fantasticly fun night of celebrating and dancing, we all pitched in to take down the decorations at the town rink, and then Dan and I were off to head home.


How was your weekend? What have you been up to lately? Did you do anything for Canada Day/are you doing anything for the Fourth of July?

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Homemade Bubble Bath with Essential Oils

I thought I would share a super simple recipe for homemade bubble bath that I have been using recently. Most bubble baths available in the store are full of harsh chemicals that are simply not good for you. There are many benefits to making your own products at home, the main one being that you can control what ingredients you come into contact with and filter out any chemicals you're not okay with.



Ingredients/Supplies
Container(s) to put your bubble bath in - I got mine at Dollarama!
2 parts vegetable glycerin
4 parts castile soap
4 parts distilled water
1 part almond oil (optional)
Essential oil(s) of your choice for scent - make sure they are meant to be used on skin, they're not all equal! (optional - I used lavender)

Directions
It's as simple as combining the ingredients, gently stirring, then moving in to your container. If you are using essential oils, please make sure you use a glass or metal container, as plastics and essential oils should not mix. Also, make sure the essential oils you choose are safe to use on your skin - not all are made the same, and some are only meant to be used as a candle alternative.

In the directions I stuck with a ratio, rather than actual measurements, because it doesn't have to be exact. If you want a jumping off point, the first time I made this I did 1/4 cup vegetable glycerin, 1/2 cup castille soap, 1/2 cup distilled water, 1/8 cup almond oil, and 20 drops essential oil; this yielded about two of the bottles I pictured.



That's it! When you go to use your bubble bath, gently roll the container to help disperse the ingredients, as it will settle a bit when left to sit. Don't shake vigorously, though; it will get super bubbly!

Have you ever made your own bubble bath? Would you add or remove anything? What scent would you like to try?

P.S. If you would like to know what essential oils I like to use, or if you have any questions, please send me an email to sarah.sweetspontaneity@gmail.com!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting brands that support Sweet Spontaneity!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Jon Bryant at the Bassment with special guest Kristan Couture


Definitely not the best quality photo, but pretty great for an iPhone in the Bassment!

Last night Daniel and I went to the Bassment to see Jon Bryant perform. We went to see him last time he was in Saskatoon because Daniel's sister had invited us, and we were so glad she did! Since we enjoyed it so much last time, we definitely wanted to go again.

We really enjoyed both performances. It was particularly neat to see Kristan Couture open the show, because I knew her a little when we were young girls.

Jon Bryant gives off an easygoing feel while on stage, and comes across as very personable. His maritime roots (Halifax, NS) show in both his music and his demeanor, which is what I am pretty sure I am really drawn to. He reminds me of when I lived in Halifax and the people I met would bring me to house concerts and jam sessions in old yoga studios. At one point he even came out into the audience and then, when he finished the song, rolled with it and hung out with the crowd for a bit during the next song. Simply put, he's super chill.

Have you ever seen Jon Bryant perform? Do you like his music? What was the last live performance you went to?

Please note: I am not a music critic, and I am definitely not musically trained. I am just sharing about something I experienced.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

May Long





This past weekend was a long weekend in Canada, with Monday being Victoria Day, celebrating the birthday of the late Queen Victoria.

My weekend was pretty relaxed, which was great. My fiancé (still feels weird to call him that!) and I drove out to Bruno, SK for the Commissioning Mass and celebration at St. Therese Institute on Saturday. Daniel's sister was in the program these past nine months, so lots of his family came out to celebrate with her.

I have visited St. Therese quite a few times over the past few years. The first time ever was for a retreat with Catholic Christian Outreach in the fall of 2011. I went to school prior to this in Muenster, SK for my first year of university and it is super close to Bruno, but I had never visited before! Then my next few visits were to see Amanda while she attended the program two years in a row. And, most recently, Daniel and I made a trip up to see his sister in Bruno before heading to St. Pete's for a visit.





On Sunday my cousin Kathleen came in to visit and before she left on Monday, I took her to City Perks. If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that it's one of my favourite coffee shops in Saskatoon, but Kathleen and I hadn't ever visited together before.

And that's it! It was super relaxing, which was definitely needed. On to the short work week ahead!

How was your weekend? Did you do anything exciting?! :)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Sephora VIB Sale Haul



This is a little late, but I still wanted to share what I got from Sephora during the VIB Sale. I am really trying to use up my makeup, rather than adding more, but there were a few things that I consider staples that needed replenishing.



Makeup Forever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation
Phew! That's a long name. I actually haven't used this foundation in over a year, since I have been using up foundations I have on hand and have found others that I really like, but I recommended it to two friends that I will be doing wedding day makeup for, so I decided to order some for myself again. I bought two shades, one which is for those two friends (they have similar skin tones) and one that I thought was perfect for me, but it turns out I'm actually not the palest ever when it comes to this foundation - who would have thought?! I was already planning on mixing the two to get the perfect colour for my friends, so that's what I've been doing for myself too. I like it a lot, but I'm not sure if it's actually a favourite.



NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer
This is my absolute favourite concealer. I typically have two shades on hand: Chantilly and Vanilla (the two lightest shades). Chantilly is my winter colour/perfect for undereye highlighting and Vanilla is my skin tone matching shade. Since we're heading in to the warmer months, I only picked up Vanilla this time around. It's always so satisfying to me to have a newly opened product - it's such a big shift going from scraping the sides of the container (only to have to dip in a couple times) to having a brand-new, super full tube.



Bobbi Brown Hydrating Eye Cream
I have to admit something. I have really been off my eye cream game lately. I have been a huge fan of eye cream since I was 18 or so. I generally have 2 or 3 different ones on the go at a time. They're fun to try, and they're that little bit of luxury in your everyday routine. However, I have really been trying to actually use the beauty items I have on hand as well as save my money for a few different goals. I guess that turned in to me finishing up my last eye cream and not replacing it? I don't even know when it actually happened, all I know is that it's been a few months or more. It was fine for the first little bit, but lately I have definitely noticed my eye area being more dry, concealer not applying as well as it should/usually does, and the fine lines have been really prominent. Once I made the connection I knew I needed this eye cream to help get me back on track. Within a few applications I was already seeing a difference in hydration and now, a couple weeks in, I already feel back to my usual smooth, healthy, and hydrated place.

Did you get anything from the Sephora Beauty Insider, VIB, or VIB Rouge Sale? What items are your essentials to stock up on when this sale comes around? Please let me know in the comments!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Pre-Wedding Events - To Gift, or Not to Gift?

I'm continuing on from my recent post about Bachelorette Party Gift Ideas and bringing you an overview of gift-giving for pre-wedding events. I hope to hear about your experiences in the comments!



There are many pre-wedding events these days; I have heard of engagement parties, wedding socials, combined stag and does, separate stags and stagettes (or bachelorette parties), wedding showers, and a quick Google search turned up even more festivities. How does one decide which events to bring a gift to? And what is an appropriate gift for each event?

The short answer is, it's completely up to you! The bride and groom are honoured by your support and attendance, and expect nothing more. That being said, if you desire to give the couple a gift (or multiple gifts for different events), what is appropriate?

Each geographic area and social group has a slightly different set of guidelines when it comes to gift-giving at these pre-wedding events. If you are truly at a loss, you could ask someone in your social circle what they think, or you could do a Google search including your particular area.

I am from the province of Saskatchewan in Canada, and I have found some generalities that usually ring true, but there are still some slight differences that I will try to note.

Engagement Party
The engagement parties that I have attended have usually been pretty low-key; it's an excuse for everyone to get together for a good, prairie party, and gifts are generally not given. Close friends and family have sometimes been known to bring a card which can be accompanied by marriage advice or preparation books, a bottle of wine, or something small to help the party along (think a cheese board, food for the party, a specialty liqueur, etc.)

Wedding Social / Stag and Doe
To be honest, I had never heard of these until some of my friends and family from Manitoba and Ontario were getting engaged and married. This just isn't really a Saskatchewan thing. However, from what I've been able to gather, these events serve as a fundraiser for the wedding where both the bride and groom attend with their friends and family. Guests purchase tickets to attend and there are fun activities at the event such as casino games, carnival games, 50/50 draws, a cash bar, and more. These activities vary based on the provincial licensing board (which may explain why Saskatchewan doesn't really have these events). This event often (but not always!) takes the place of both the engagement party and the next event I'm going to talk about, the bridal shower.

Bridal Shower
The bridal shower was once a pretty big deal around here, but in more modern times it is sometimes skipped in the pre-wedding festivities. Traditionally, this event was hosted by the bridesmaids and/or the mothers of the bride and groom for the bride, and a very wide and general invitation was sent out to women of the community (the older ladies from church and the little girls once babysat by the bride included), whether invited to the wedding or not. The gifts for this event were typically purchased off of the registry, or were simple/small things that are often overlooked but quite necessary to help a home function (lots of tea towels and wooden spoons!). These days, houses are often well-equipped by the time a wedding happens, so gifts of this nature are not as necessary and sometimes the event does not happen altogether. I have still attended quite a few bridal showers, but they have usually been for brides that have not lived with their fiancé before marriage. Even if the couple has not created and filled a home together, they often have their own household items to combine, so the gift giving has still changed. Gifts directed more towards the bride are extremely common, like aprons, beauty products, spa gift certificates, date night packages, hobby sets, etc. Sometimes the person organizing the bridal shower will give ideas for gifts, if you wish to bring one, or else it is appropriate to ask them if nothing is shared directly.

Stag & Stagette/Bachelorette Party
These are the parties for the groom and the bride where the other is typically not invited. Seen as a "last wild night" for the soon to be married, these parties come in all shapes and sizes. Gifts are rare for the male parties, but the stagette (or bachelorette party) sometimes has a gift-giving component. If there are gifts at the bachelorette party, it is typically lingerie for the bride, or something in that vein. If this is something the group does, there is usually mention of it by the bridal party or the person organizing the event. They will typically share the brides sizes and mention what her tastes are. This party is usually for the younger women, and those closer to the bride - but sometimes the mother of the bride, the mother of the groom, and other important, mature women are included (which might affect what type of gifts are received lol). Check out my post on Bachelorette Party Gift Ideas to help you decide on a gift!

That's my experience with pre-wedding festivities and gift-giving! How about you, what are your experiences? Are there any pre-wedding events that are typical for your area that I didn't mention? Topics such as this fascinate me, so I would love to hear what your areas and groups of friends do!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

We Are Engaged!


Daniel and I are engaged! He completely surprised me and I wouldn't have it any other way.

We had talked about marriage, and we knew that was where we were heading, but I had no idea about the timing. When Daniel asked me to marry him after Mass and Adoration on Holy Thursday, I was completely surprised and said "Yes, of course!" We tried our best to properly observe the solemnity of Good Friday, while still rejoicing and telling our family. With this in mind, we held off telling our close friends until Easter Sunday (okay, maybe a few were on Saturday!) when we could properly rejoice and celebrate.

We're still in the early stages of planning, but are looking at a December 2016 wedding. If any of you have planned a winter wedding, please share your tips!

I have mentioned Dan in the past, though not by name, but, for the most part, I kept him off the blog. He's not really that into social media and it just made sense. It will likely stay that way going forward, but he gave me the go-ahead to announce our engagement here :).

We are super excited to take this big step together!

P.S. I did not mean to time this post so well with other wedding-related posts! (Bachelorette Party Gift Ideas yesterday, and Pre-Wedding Events - To Gift, or Not to Gift? tomorrow) I have quite a few very close friends getting married in the next few months, so that was the inspiration for those posts. Kind of fun how it worked out!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Bachelorette Party Gift Ideas

A lot of my friends are getting engaged and married these days, and with these engagements comes all the fun pre-wedding festivities! One such party is the bachelorette party (or stagette, in some places). Around here, gifts of lingerie or other similar items are sometimes given to the bride at her bachelorette party, so, I thought I would round up a few fun gift ideas!



Lingerie
If the bride is the type of person that would want lingerie, then this is a great time to gift it. You'll want to make sure the bachelorette party is the appropriate event to do so, though, so if you're close enough with the bride you can ask her directly, or you can ask the people organizing the bachelorette party. The people planning the bachelorette party will probably share the brides sizes with the guests if lingerie would be a welcomed gift, but, if not, it is acceptable to ask the bride or her bridesmaids what sizes you should purchase. If you're uncomfortable asking for sizes, you can go with one of the other ideas :)

Where to buy: Local lingerie stores are great, but I prefer to shop online for these gifts to ensure my gift is unique (there are only so many options at Victoria's Secret and La Senza!) Not all lingerie is able to be returned, for health reasons, but be sure to get a gift receipt where possible.

I recently purchased some lingerie for a couple of my soon-to-be-married girlfriends from Adore Me, and I had a great experience. The only problem was that I had so much trouble choosing! There are so many lovely options. Adore Me is actually hosting a giveaway right now until April 15, and the photo above is my entry! You can find more inspiration for your entry on the Adore Me Instagram page.

Couple Time Gifts
I wasn't sure about what to title this section, but I mean things like massage oils, bubble bath, candles, and relationship books.  You could even make up a fun gift basket with a few items in it!

Where to buy: These items are pretty universal, but go with brands you know the bride likes, and, if scented, go with scents the bride likes also. If going with books, make sure they come highly recommended!

Non-Sexy Gifts
Mother of the bride? Or of the groom? Have you known the bride since birth? You might feel more comfortable giving the bride something a little less "bachelorette party" and that's totally fine! You could gift the bride a cookbook, relationship books, an apron, classy and beautfiul pajamas, or anything really! Gifts aren't always necessary, but if you still want to join in you can give something more along the lines of a bridal shower gift.

Where to buy: This is another category that can be found just about anywhere!

Party Gifts
A fun veil to wear during the bachelorette party, a "future Mrs." sash, a special cup to drink out of for the night, a garter, shot glasses, a tiara, pins, light up "diamond" rings, etc. Something to make the party fun and the bride stand out! Just proceed with caution and assess the bride's personality - she might want to keep it ultra classy or might not mind getting a little silly, if you know what I mean.

Where to buy: I have seen these items at dollar stores, Michaels, Walmart, party supply stores, and online. If you plan enough in advance you can even get customized items!

Wedding Day Getting Ready Items
Matching pajama sets for the bridal party, a beautiful robe to get ready in, a sleep mask to help with beauty sleep the night before the wedding. The bachelorette party is leading up to the big day, so your gift can go beyond the party!

Where to buy: These items can be bought at department stores, lingerie stores, and online.

Do you bring a gift when you attend a bachelorette party? Have you ordered anything from Adore Me before?




Please note: This post is not sponsored, but Adore Me did reach out to me to share about their giveaway. All opinions are my own.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Lush Bath Haul


I have gone a little bit crazy lately with purchasing Lush bath products. Working downtown and close to the mall where Lush is located is definitely a major factor in this, but I'm not complaining. I've been a fan of Lush for quite a while, but I haven't purchased many bath bombs before. My bathroom doesn't have a bath tub, and while there is one in the house, I just didn't make the effort to take many baths before. That, however, has changed. After watching one way too many Lush hauls/raves on YouTube I ended up throwing caution to the wind the last couple of times I was browsing through the store on my lunch break, and here's what I got.



Butterball Bath Bomb - "Beautiful butter cream hydration for dry skin"
This bath bomb is my favourite, and one of the ones that I have, in fact, tried many times before - I first tried it in the form of Butterbear at Christmastime :). I love how the cocoa butter leaves your skin feeling super hydrated after you get out of the tub! (I like this one so much I bought more than one!)

Twilight Bath Bomb - "Peaceful lavender bathing under the stars"
I really like the deep, rich, calming scent of this bath bomb. I also really like the pink colour!

Sex Bomb Bath Bomb - "Brazen jasmine flirts with your senses"
So, I'm really not a fan of companies using the word "sex," or sexual innuendos, in the names of their products. I just find it unnecessary, not creative, and somewhat crass, which leads me to usually not invest in products with names that fit this bill. However, when I do buy products with names such as this, they are so fantastic that I am able to let their marketing mishap slide (Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara is another that I hate the name, but really like the product). This bath bomb has such an amazing scent that I just couldn't pass it up. Also, the scents used in this bath bomb are known aphrodisiacs, so I can't hold the naming choice against them too much.

Floating Island Bath Melt - "Creamy lemon and sandalwood luxury"
I haven't tried this one yet, but I am excited to! I really like the scent (sandalwood is one of my favourites), and I have heard great things about the melts.

Dragon's Egg Bath Bomb - "Citrus sherbet-scented firecracker"
This scent is so great - citrus is super up-lifting and invigorating, so I am looking forward to using this one in a mid-day bath. This one is also full of fun surprises while it fizzes!

Avobath Bath Bomb - "Skin softening lemongrass and avocado soaker"
Lemongrass is great for sore muscles, while also having a zesty, citrus scent. This is another bath bomb that's great for the morning or mid-day, but I wouldn't recommend it for night time - you'll be too wired!

Even with these other bath bombs, Butterball is still my favourite. What's yours? Do you like any other Lush products? Can't wait to hear your opinions!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

City Perks - Saskatoon, SK



City Perks has been around for quite a while; I remember walking past when I was in ninth grade thinking how cute it was and wishing I was sophisticated enough to have coffee dates at a place like that (it was a whimsical and very adult prospect for my thirteen-year-old mind). After that, I remember sitting in City Perks many times while in university. I was usually reading, sometimes I was studying or doing homework, but I was always just so happy to be there - it's one of those places that brings about those lovely feelings of peace and contentment. Around that time, however, it was quite often very busy - I wasn't the only person in Saskatoon who had fallen in love with this place - so there were times I would arrive only to find there was no seat for me that day.

Then came the renovations. When I first heard of them my heart dropped a little, thinking the magic of the place would be lost, but I was so wrong. City Perks was updated to allow for more catch ups, study sessions, coffee dates, family outings, first dates, and so much more to take place all at once. They maximized the square footage and added in some beautifully unique touches to the décor, all without losing the essence of what it already was.

Now City Perks has expanded to a second location, which I still haven't had the opportunity to visit yet, located in Ens Toyota in the C.N. Industrial area (just bordering Stonebridge), in the south part of Saskatoon.

Another thing to mention about City Perks is their amazing food, especially their dessert - I don't always let myself add a treat to my order, but I am definitely always tempted!

Have you visited City Perks before? What is your fondest memory of the place?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Book Review: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith



I go in and out of reading phases - you know, where you read like crazy for awhile and then it takes over 6 months to finish a book, even a good one. Overall, I would say I am a reader, but one of the last books I finished was one of those 6 month books, yet it was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith was utterly fantastic. My heart connected early on with the main character, Francie Nolan. Throughout the novel, the way she looks at the world, how words form within her, and how she connects to others all really spoke to me. I also really liked how faith, doubt, and the existence of God were woven throughout, but wasn't the focus of the novel.

This story takes place in the early 1900s in Brooklyn, NY. The Nolan family is poor, but getting by. The novel follows Francie, the oldest child of Johnny and Katie Nolan, throughout her childhood and early adolescence. We see their family struggles, the love in their family, and what everyday life in Brooklyn at the time was like.

I honestly laughed out loud and cried at different times. It was a fantastic read. I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads.

Have you read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn? If so, do you have any recommendations for books I may like that are similar? As it turns out, there is a film based on this novel that I would really like to watch - if you have watched it please let me know what you thought!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Urban Decay Naked2 Basics Palette

I am a huge fan of the Urban Decay Naked line of cosmetics. I have the Naked2, Naked3, and Naked Basics palettes (and have had all the others in my virtual shopping cart at least once before... #moderation). I honestly use each palette at least twice a week, and I have hit pan on 3 colours in the Naked Basics palette, with serious dents in the other colours. It was when I had actually used every last bit of the shade Naked2 from the Naked Basics palette that I finally let myself pick up this new addition to my addiction. (Side note: I really wish Urban Decay would sell Naked2 as a single shadow. I probably would have bought it 3 times over already.)

When this palette first came out, I wasn't too sure if I would really like it. I find I go quite neutral in my neutrals (? - that's a thing, really), but if I lean one way or the other it is ever-so-slightly warm. So, I was thinking that I should just pick up the original Naked Basics palette again. But, upon closer inspection, I made the decision to try this new one. I found with the original Naked Basics palette that I didn't use much of Venus (soft, off-white demi-matte) or Crave (deepest, darkest brown/black matte), so I essentially only had 4 working colours of the 6. I tapped my brush into those two every now and then (Venus more than Crave), but they're not showing much use even still. The Naked2 Basics palette, however, has 6 usable shades for me. The lightest shade isn't so light, and the darkest shade isn't so dark.  I anticipate using the four middle shades most, but I think I will get a bit more use out of the two end ones than the corresponding ones in the original Naked Basics palette. The only thing I will say is that the original Naked Basics palette caters a little more to people with extremely fair skin (#gingerproblems) - the colours allow for a barely there natural eye if you want it, whereas the slightly darker shades in the Naked2 Basics make it a bit more noticeable that you're wearing eyeshadow. Non-translucent friends needn't worry about this, though :).



Ok, now on to quality. These shadows are up to par with the standard of the Urban Decay shadows in their other palettes (I haven't tried many of their singles, so I can't really speak to them yet). Urban Decay really does a good job of their mattes. These shades are all buttery, blendable, and perfectly pigmented. I wouldn't change a thing!

Something that I learned when checking out the info on Sephora when writing this post is that the Naked Basics palette was created to coordinate with the Naked palette and the Naked2 Basics palette was created to coordinate with the Naked2 palette. Makes so much sense, yet I didn't know it until now. I mean, I've been using my Naked Basics palette with my Naked2 and Naked3 for a long time, and I think it works great with them, but I'm excited to try out the Naked2 Basics with my Naked2 to see if it's that much better. Kinda cool!

Have you tried out the Naked2 Basics palette? What did you think? Have you tried any of the other Urban Decay Naked products? I'd really like to hear your opinions!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Valentine's Day 2016



This weekend was amazingly relaxing! Most of Saskatchewan is off today as a statutory holiday for Family Day, but my workplace, being federal, does not recognize it (we get Easter Monday instead!). I don't mind, though. The streets of downtown Saskatoon were eerily quiet on my drive to work, and walking from my car to work was so beautiful. It was quite warm this morning, so warm that the birds were out chirping, which is one of my favourite things. I walked slowly in to work, breathing the refreshing, crisp (but not too cold!) air while enjoying their tune. Also, free parking downtown on a work day? I'll take it! (Side note: it has since begun to snow A LOT, but it's still quite pretty).

As I'm sure we are all aware, yesterday was Valentine's Day. My boyfriend and I celebrated by going for dinner at 2nd Ave Grill and then curling up on the couch to drink wine while watching some White Collar on Netflix. The meal was super tasty and we are so absolutely wrapped up in White Collar.

He also surprised me with those beautiful flowers above, isn't the bouquet unique? I love it.

How was your Valentine's Day?! Have you been to 2nd Ave Grill before? Have you watched White Collar? (No spoilers, please! We're not done yet.)

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Citizen Cafe & Bakery - Saskatoon, SK

I recently visited Citizen Cafe & Bakery with my friend Jackie. I have been here quite a few times before, but it seems I haven't shared it on the blog. To be honest, this is one of my most favourite places in Saskatoon, so that's actually quite surprising.

Jackie and I have been friends since our first year of university when our rooms were right next to each other and we learned that we share a love for dance. Even though we live in the same city again, we don't get to see each other as much as we would like, so this was a much needed catch up lunch :).

Citizen Cafe has an amazing menu - I always have trouble choosing what I want to order. They even have a great selection of gluten free and vegan options. Aside from their great coffee, food, and treats, they also offer a warm, inviting atmosphere that happily caters to children and families.

I definitely recommend visiting Citizen Cafe if you're ever in the area!



Have you been to Citizen Cafe before? What's your favourite thing to order? I really like the homemade Oreo - so delicious!

Friday, January 29, 2016

5 Ways to a Great Day


Some days are better than others, that's an inevitable fact. But, you have the power to take control of your day and make it better. Sometimes only a little better, and sometimes a whole lot better! Keep reading to learn my five favourite ways to make my day that much better.

1. Go Outside
Getting some fresh air and (hopefully) sunshine does wonders for your mind and, therefore, your day. Now, I live in a climate where the air hurts my face for at least 5 (usually 6 or 7) months of the year, so that's easier said than done. Even if you have to bundle up like crazy or carry an umbrella while wearing a raincoat and rain boots, take some time out of your day to get outside, you'll thank yourself when you do.

2. Limit Screen Time
This is kind of difficult if your job involves screen use, like so many jobs these days do, but it's still possible! Even if some of your post-work duties require screens, some ways you can limit your screen time are: get outside (see above), read a book, create a rule that you put away all screens a certain amount of time before bed, and plan activities with others that don't involve screens.

3. Try Something New
The whole "do one thing a day that scares you" saying is so true! Step outside of your comfort zone. Stretch yourself and see the growth that follows. This can be as small as trying a food that you have previously avoided or something as huge as going sky diving for the first time. What you choose is up to you, and you'll love it.

4. Relax and Refocus
Take the time in your day to step back from everything going on and look internally. Breathe in and breathe out, focusing on your breath and your body the whole time. Think about each of your muscles and squeeze then release them. Stretch a little and maybe even do a lap. You'll come back to your task at hand refreshed and renewed and it will be so much easier to focus.

5. Pray
I've left my most important tip to the end. Pray daily to center yourself and reconnect with God. Nurture your relationship with Him and you'll be so much stronger to take on any challenges that come your way, and all the good things become that much sweeter too.

What are your favourite ways to make your day great? Are you going to try any of these tips?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

In With a Whisper


At the end of 2015 I had all of these grand ideas about what 2016 would look like, one of which was regular blog posts with inspiring content. I have clearly missed the mark on this one, yet I don't really feel all that off about it. Instead of starting 2016 off with a bang, crossing off to-do lists and filling my time, I've started off with something softer, more of a whisper. New Years Eve and the days surrounding it were spent with my boyfriend and his family, and it was so relaxing. That feeling has moved forward into 2016 and, honestly, I couldn't be more happy about it.

I am usually one for making the most of my time, filling it with seeing people I love or doing things I want to do, but lately I have let myself make my time completely free. I'm still seeing the people I love and doing the things I want to do, but less of it. And it is definitely in a less structured way. Instead of planning to get up and get going at 8 on Saturday, I have been letting myself lounge however long I would like. Instead of getting right to writing the moment I get home from work, I have been letting myself sink into my pillows while watching some Netflix. Instead of planning something for every evening of the week, I have left my schedule extremely open and free. And it is wonderful.

There is definitely a place for the schedules and the plans and the moving and the going - and, believe me, I generally thrive off of that stuff - but that's not my season right now. My season right now is rest. I have been realizing more and more that I will never be at this point in my life again. One day I won't be thinking just for me, and my schedule will not be only my own. That is a beautiful, wonderful thing, but I'm happy to take advantage while it's still just me :)

I hope 2016 has been off to a wonderful start for each and every one of you - any highlights so far?!
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