Monday, February 29, 2016

in love with: Valentina

There is something special about jewellery. The right piece does so much more than add interest to an ordinary outfit. It makes you feel something. Suddenly? Your self confidence rises. You walk a little taller. You feel stronger. Bolder. Happier. It might not make sense on paper....but accessories are powerful. This is something I believe in wholeheartedly. There are certain items in my collection that make me feel that way. One of them? Comes from Valentina. 

This is an online store that does so much more than sell jewellery. Their pieces give you that larger-than-life feeling. That I-can-do-anything attitude. Best of all? They give back. Valentina specializes in unique charm bracelets. Each one is beautiful, easy to wear, and effortlessly glamorous. That's not all. These pieces also benefit different charities. 10% of the proceeds are donated. (To charities like the WWF, Fauna and Flora, RSPB, Woodland Trust, and the Marine Conservation.) That makes each bracelet both gorgeous and giving.

Recently I received a stunning charm bracelet from the company. Honestly? It was love at first sight. While browsing through the different designs on their website...there were a number of pieces that stood out to me. Some had stunning colours. Some with delicate charms. Some with more unique charms. But each bracelet had something special about it. I wasn't sure which one to choose. Then I saw it. Icecap. It took my breath away. Not only gave me this indescribable feeling in the pit of my stomach. That to me is the sign of good match. When an accessory doesn't just look pretty. It speaks to you. Icecap spoke to me.

There was something about the colours. The intricate details on the charms. The elegance. Combined? They created the most beautiful charm bracelet I had ever seen. Then when I saw that a portion of the proceeds would be donated to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds? I knew this was the bracelet for me. So you can imagine how eagerly I waited for it to arrive. Then it did. And it exceeded any expectations I might have had. 

It came in a textured white box. There was black velvet on the inside and each piece was wrapped individually. (A fun note: all of their outer packaging is 100% bio-degradable. They sim to support their causes through donations and their business practices. Needless to say....impressed.) First there was the oh-so-beautiful Icecap charm bracelet. It was everything I hoped it would be and more. The bracelet was sturdy, made from high-quality materials, and absolutely gorgeous! Each charm was so detailed and intricate. It truly feels like a special piece of jewellery. And I love the way I feel whenever I put it on. Which quite frankly, is often. I will make any excuse to incorporate this bracelet into my outfit. 

Then there were these unexpected extras. Valentina sent along a silver plated necklace chain, a silver plated cuff, and a beautiful selection of charms. That meant not only could I enjoy the stunning Icecap bracelet....but I had the opportunity to customize a necklace or cuff. It was such a treat! As you can see from the photo above, I decided to make my own cuff. And I love the way it turned out. It looks beautiful - and it is the perfect add on to any outfit. The chain itself is gorgeous as well. I plan to wear it by adding on a few of those beautiful charms, 

Overall, I am so so happy with my experience. Valentina is outstanding. Both in terms of design and quality. They really went the extra mile to deliver an incredible product. Plus they give back! What could be better than that? I am so happy with these gorgeous pieces. They are versatile, glamorous, and make me feel amazing. 

Want to see the bracelet in action? I incorporated it into a recent date night outfit....and posted it on my YouTube channel.

For more information - or to check out their amazing selection - be sure to visit the Valentina website:

What do you think of these pieces? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

xo Shannon

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

for me? jewellery is a way of keeping memories alive.

Jewelley has been on my mind a lot lately. Probably because my friend and I are determined to wear different pieces in our collection. To branch out from the norm. To get a little more creative. The reasoning behind this is pretty simple. Despite all of the jewellery in our collections....we wear the same pieces over and over again. This is something I am very guilty of. There are so many items stored and stacked in my jewellery holder. Yet in a pinch? I reach for the same things time and time again. There is nothing wrong with having favourites. Nothing at all. But there is something limiting about ignoring fantastic accessories out of habit. 

Over the last little while I have done a pretty good job of branching out. Changing up my earrings. Adding on a bracelet. Reaching for a different purse. After all...what is the point of having so many amazing pieces if I never bother to wear them? So yes. That resolution has been going pretty well so far. And honestly? It has actually been fun to challenge myself a little. I feel like I am slowly getting out of my fashion rut. (The winter months are the worst for this. I cannot wait for it to be warm so I can start having fun with my clothing again! It has been all sweaters all the time lately.) 

Which is why I didn't feel too guilty about purchasing some new accessories. My mom and I were doing a bit of shopping before an appointment. And we managed to score some fantastic deals. It is always nice when that happens! Since accessories are at the forefront of my mind as of late....I thought this would be the perfect excuse to show you these new pieces. 

The first is from Bella Jack. As you can see from the picture above? These earrings are glittering gold stars. They are the behind-the-ear style....which is super pretty and on trend. Always nice! I have been loving these lately. I wore them to the movies and out running errands with my husband. There is just something about them. They are just fun, cute, and easy to wear. They add a little glitz to an outfit without making it too sophisticated or over the top. Definitely a great pair of earrings for daytime or a casual get together. 

Next up? One of my favourite pieces in my jewellery collection. Period. This was a bit of a splurge was love at first sight. Sometimes? A piece of jewellery just takes your breath away. When that happens there is no denying it. You simply have to take the plunge. That is exactly what I did with this Michael Kors bracelet. It is beyond adorable. Gold in colour and oh-so-cute. The design looks like a belt! It even has a working buckle. The concept was so fun. I could not resist! What I really love about this piece? Even though it is a little still looks super elegant. It has this wonderful blend of whimsy and elegance. I cannot stop wearing it. 

These are some of the newest pieces in my collection. Ones I have fallen head over heels with. They make this jewellery challenge a whole lot easier. The only downside? I might wind up reaching for these over and over again! 

What are your favourite pieces of jewellery? Have you ever been in an accessories rut?

xo Shannon

Monday, February 22, 2016

anniversary: one year on YouTube

It amazes me. Just one year ago it all started. My YouTube journey, that is. I was absolutely terrified. I remember sitting poised and ready to go....wondering. Would anyone watch? Would anyone care? Can I actually do this? A year later and my YouTube channel still exists. Despite my fears. Not only does it exist? It has become my own little creative outlet. My little piece of the world. I love watching it grow. Tying it into my blog posts. And even filming.

These days? There is something special to me about the recording process. Sometimes it goes well. Other times it feels laborious and difficult. But there is this indescribable feeling when it all comes together. This sense of pride and accomplishment. It is unlike anything else I have done. And that feeling? It is something I am still getting used to. Even after a year. Who knows? Maybe I never will.

One thing I do know.....I have come a long way. I decided to re-watch that first YouTube video and my gosh. It was far from perfect. Then I compared it to my later videos. It was like night and day. I am so much more comfortable on camera. And my editing is slowly (very slowly) getting better. My goal at the moment is to continue to grow. To get even better on camera. To up my editing skills. To make my lighting amazing. To push myself creatively.

Fingers crossed.

My YouTube channel has certainly come a long way. And I can't help but feel proud as I celebrate my one year anniversary. So, I leave you with this. My latest YouTube video for the creation of beauty is art. It is all about marking this incredible milestone.

Thank you all so much for your support. Your kind words. Your encouragement. It means so much to me. If you haven't already? Please take a peek at my channel and let me know what you think!

xo Shannon

Friday, February 19, 2016

looking back is always beautiful.

Holidays are special. They give the world this beautiful glimmer of joy and happiness. Even in the middle of winter. Valentine's Day, for instance. Though most of us were stuck dealing with the winter all seemed to melt away. For a day at least. Now that it has come and gone? It is time to look back, reflect, and smile. That is the great thing about holidays. Even after they are over - you can remember the special moments. Which is exactly what I am doing today. Finally I have a chance to pause and look back. Work is on hold. Responsibilities can wait. This is my moment to remember the magic and wonder that was Valentine's Day.

It started off badly. The day before Valentine's Day, I messed up my back. I was in so much pain that I could not bend or stand up straight without being in pain. It felt like one wrong move and the whole thing would go out. This made me a little nervous. Would I be better in time for the big celebration? No. My back was just as messed up on the actual day. Despite this, I pushed through. I decided to do things in small bits. Since my husband was at work for most of the day....I was able to get groceries. Lie down with a heating pad. Bake cookies. Lie down with a heating pad. It went on and on that way. Yet somehow everything got done in time.

As I have mentioned before, my husband does not "believe" in Valentine's Day. Which....I get his reasoning. But I am never one to miss out on a good holiday! So, I decorated, gave him some small gifts, made dinner, and baked. I don't mind doing this. He does so much on a day-to-day basis that it feels good to treat him every now and then. Even though he doesn't do Valentine's Day? He ended up giving me some candy, a Betsey Johnson perfume, and ordering me Audrey Hepburn movies online. Not on Valentine's Day. Just because. So that was nice. It all went pretty well. A laid back evening....with heart shaped cookies.

What did you do for Valentine's Day this year?

xo Shannon

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

current favourites: skin care

There is a lot on my to do list. An awful lot. Someone said to me recently: you want to do too many things. Like that was bad. It's true. There are a lot of things that I want to do. Accomplish. Achieve. And I have a lot of interests. Like writing, music, makeup, fashion, beauty.....along with a few other noteworthy hobbies. Perhaps this is why much of my time is accounted for. I have to work very hard to make time for the things that I want to do. Sometimes? There isn't enough hours in the day. But I suppose I would rather have too many interests than too few.

One thing on my to do list? To take better care of my skin. While my love of makeup seems to occupy much of my time....the essentials often slip through the cracks. Skin care for instance. These days? I am lucky if I manage to take off my makeup before bed. Let alone apply nighttime moisturizers, eye creams, and all the rest. But - this is something I am working on. Having a morning and evening routine. (And actually sticking to it!) Over the last several weeks this has been getting easier. Sure, there are some days when I fall back into old habits and wake up with a serious case of raccoon eyes. But there are also days when I take good care of my skin.

Skin care is on my mind. Which is why I wanted to show you all a few of my current favourites. These products have been improving my skin...and helping me stick to a regular routine. Who knows? Maybe they can do the same for you. There is a little bit of everything here. Moisturizers, night creams, eye creams, BB creams, and even a tone corrector. Phew! Take a look. Be sure to let me know which ones you  have tried and if they work for you.

These are a few of my current favourites for skin care. I have been doing my best to use them (almost) every day....and there is definitely a difference. My skin is smoother and more hydrated. That is a great thing. Especially since the winter weather has been all over the place this year!

What do you think of these products? Have you tried any of them?

xo Shannon

Monday, February 15, 2016

makeup is my art.

There is this big misconception. That the more you spend on makeup...the better it will be. This is something I used to believe. I thought just because a product was sold at Sephora it was superior to the items in the drugstore. Sometimes? This happens to be true. Other times? Not at all. There have been a lot of drugstore buys that have taken my breath away. There have been high-end shopping trips that have knocked my socks off. And vice versa. Certain high-end items have only been so so for me. Even though they cost double or triple the price of the drugstore alternative. Nothing is more frustrating. That is why I am a huge advocate of affordable makeup. As much as I adore pricier brands (like Too Faced, Urban Decay, and NARS) ....there are some fantastic alternatives.

One of them? Mariposa. Believe it or not, I have picked up a few of their products from the dollar store. Massive blush palettes that are crazy pigmented. Lipsticks that are vibrant and easy to wear. And now an eyeshadow set that is pigmented and oh-so-pretty. The eyeshadow set (pictured above) cost a mere two dollars. And it is amazing. It has a gorgeous blend of neutrals and metallic shades. Perfect to create a smokey eye look or something dramatic for evening. This has definitely been getting a lot of use lately! I love the combination of shades. There are lighter ones for blending, mid-tones, and deeper shades. That makes it super versatile. Which is something I tend to look for. 

Typically I ask myself a few key questions. At least when it comes to an eyeshadow set or shadow palette. They are: Can it travel well? Will I need supplementary shades? How many looks can I create with the set? When it comes to the Mariposa is compact. That makes it great for travel or to throw into your purse. As for supplementary shades....I do not feel the need to bring in outside shadows or palettes to come up with a complete look. Always a good thing. And then there is the number of looks you can create with it. I have personally tried about three. However there are certainly more that you can make. That is the benefit of having those lighter shades thrown in there as well. More looks. More versatility. Thank goodness for that.

This little eyeshadow set has been a must have in my life lately. It is quick and easy to use, the colours are super pigmented, and the formula is soft and smooth. Love! Here is a peek at a makeup look I created using a few of the shades. They were mainly the green, the two browns, and the white. Take a look and let me know what you think....

Great makeup doesn't have to be expensive. It can come from a high-end shop, the drugstore, or even the dollar store. With quality products and a little creativity....creating the perfect look? Simple. Fun. Exciting. The Mariposa line has impressed me over and over again. It is a serious makeup steal.

What do you think of this look? Have you tried this brand before?

xo Shannon

Saturday, February 13, 2016

happy valentine's day.

Romance is on my mind. Perhaps this is because it is February. The month of love, passion, and all things romantic. Being a fan of holidays....Valentine's Day always makes me smile. In the past? My parents would spoil me with cards, flowers, and candy hearts. Now? Things are different. This will be my first Valentine's Day not living at home. That means no cards, flowers, or candy hearts. Truth be told, it makes me a little sad. My mom always goes over the top for holidays. That means in addition to all of the little gifts, she would bake a heart shaped cake, and we would watch a girly movie. I will really miss that this year. Especially since my husband is (and has always been) anti-Valentine's Day. He says he would rather do little things for no reason. And he does do plenty of little things. But me? I love all of the fuss that the holiday brings.

That is why I created my own tradition. Instead of my husband buying me gifts and chocolates on the 14th....I do things for him. It's nothing crazy. Just a card, a small gift, and some cinnamon hearts. Then I cook dinner and dessert (which is rare as cooking is really note my forte) and we watch a movie together on the couch. It is a pretty good compromise, I think. It makes me feel good to spoil him a little. Since he does so much for me on a day-to-day basis. Already I am gearing up for tomorrow. It will be our first Valentine's Day as husband and wife. So, I hope to make it special.

It's hard to believe Valentine's Day is tomorrow. It seems like time is going faster and faster lately. Does anybody else feel this way? Here is hoping that the holiday will give us all an excuse to stop, slow down, and appreciate the little moments that life has to offer. Searching for some seasonal inspiration? Today I wanted to share a few of my favourite holiday pictures with you....

Tomorrow is the big day. A day full of love, romance, and wonder. Whether you are attached or single, I hope that you all have a fabulous day. Be sure to eat lots of chocolate and celebrate all of the beauty life has to offer. And don't forget to spread the love! Compliment a stranger, message an old friend, or smile at someone in the elevator.

What do you have planned for Valentine's Day? Do you have any traditions?

xo Shannon

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

love is our true destiny.

It is almost time! Not quite...but....Valentine's Day is on the way. Shoppers are in a tizzy making sure there is enough chocolate and candy on hand for the big day. That the chick flicks are ready to go. And the perfect outfit is planned from head to toe. This year I am not doing a whole lot for the holiday. Minus cooking dinner for my husband. Despite this, I have my hair, outfit, and makeup all picked out. I can't help it! Any excuse to get glam. Especially at the moment. The winter months are usually full of baggy sweaters, sweat pants, and lounging around in the apartment. So I will make the most of this chance to dress up. At least a little. 

Valentine's Day fashion can be a lot of things. It can be casual, girly, glamorous, sophisticated....and everything in between. That gives you a lot of options. What I love to do? Play with colour (pink and red are always a good idea) and print (heart shaped everything or even cute Cupid arrows). Which is what inspired the outfit below. It is my idea V-Day look. A simple red dress. A cute heart shaped accessory. A pair of glamorous heels. What more do you need? It is romantic, flirty, and fun. 

Like I said....Valentine's Day fashion can be a lot of things. This is just one example of a holiday inspired look. Want a few more ideas? Check out my latest YouTube video for the creation of beauty is art. It features three different outfits. Perfect for a night out or a night in! Take a look....

It is coming up quick. Valentine's Day is almost here. I cannot wait for it. The kindness, the romance, and of course, the fashion. What a wonderful way to celebrate.

What will you wear on Valentine's Day? Which outfit do you like best?

xo Shannon

Saturday, February 6, 2016

if you're sad....add more lipstick.

It is no secret. I love makeup....a lot. Over the years, it has gone from a part time hobby to a full blown obsession. There is nothing I love more than creating a new look or testing out different products. Those moments tend to be blissfully happy. For some people, the process of getting ready is grueling. Annoying even. For me? Getting ready is exciting. That moment of looking through your eyeshadow palettes, your eyeliners, and lipstick shades until inspiration strikes. Ahh, it makes me giddy just to think of it now.

Most recently? Inspiration hit while digging through my lipstick collection. I came across a couple of the Revlon ColorBurst lip crayons. There are a number of different shades in my collection already. But a while back these were being sold in a duo. Two for the price of one. How could a makeup junkie resist? Despite buying them several months ago....I am only reaching for them now. Perhaps it is because Valentine's Day is coming up. My makeup looks have been far more romantic than usual. Over the last few weeks, it has been shimmery neutrals on the eyes and rosy pink lips. Speaking of rosy pink lips.....

The duo included the Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm in Showy (a super feminine rose-pink) and the Revlon ColorBurst Lacquer Balm in Flirtatious (a stunning glossy berry toned shade). Both shades knocked my socks off. The matte shade is pretty and easy to wear. Perfect for a date night. Actually, it is most likely the lipstick I will be wearing on Valentine's Day. I just love how comfortable it is on the lips, the level of pigmentation, and of course, the romantic colour, Then there is the lacquer balm. This was my first time trying out any of the lacquer balms from Revlon, so I was a little unsure. Turns out? I had no reason to be unsure. The formula was just as comfortable as the matte version. Creamy, easy to apply, and oh so glossy.

Between the two? It is hard to pick a favourite. Each one performs wonderfully and looks effortlessly beautiful. Both of these shades will come in handy this month. Here is at a makeup look I put together recently. It features the Too Faced Chocolate Bon Bons Palette, the Revlon blush in Nearly Nude, and the Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm in Showy. Take a look - and be sure to let me know what you think of the end result.

There is nothing like a great lipstick. In my opinion? Revlon has outdone themselves with their ColorBurst line. Both the matte and lacquer formulas perform well, have great longevity, and are ultra comfortable on the lips. The latter is very important to me. I cannot be bothered with high maintenance lip products that are drying or irritating. Comfort is key.

What do you think of these lip colours? Have you tried the Revlon ColorBurst crayons?

xo Shannon

Thursday, February 4, 2016

new in: my very first NYX haul

NYX. This brand has been on my radar for years. Every beauty blogger, YouTuber, and makeup enthusiast I admire has spoken highly of their products. Over and over again. So, you can imagine my dismay that none of it was available in my country. Until now. NYX recently opened a store and has branched out to drugstores throughout Canada. All I can say about the move? Thank goodness.

I remember when I heard the news. My husband was driving me home from work. He had just finished his shift at the drugstore he works at. When he mentioned that they were re-doing the makeup configuration in the store. I asked why. Then he told me. To make room for NYX. We literally went to the store an hour later. And then again the next day. It was overwhelming. To watch video reviews and see tutorials using these products over and over again...and then to see them stacked in front of you? Well, it was a makeup dream come true.

There was a ton to choose from. Far more than I could justify or afford. So I started small. Ish. It came to about $150 in total. More than I planned to spend. But in no way did I regret it. As you can see from the picture above, I stuck to mostly lip products. This is because I hear amazing things about their lip products. I had to find out for myself! But I also picked up a few other odds and ends. Just to dip my toes in the water. Honestly? It will be hard for me to resist going back for more. I will do my very best, though. Promise!

So.....what did I buy? The NYX Strobe of Genuis Illuminating Palette, the Butter Gloss in Vanilla Cream Pie, the Butter Lipsticks in Razzle, Fizzies, and Candy Buttons, the NYX Liquid Suede Cream Lipsticks in Vintage, Sway, and Stone Fox, the NYX High Definition Blush in Taupe, the Prismatic Shadow in Jaded, and the Vivid Brights Liquid Liner in Vivid Blossom. Phew! It was definitely an exciting buying experience.

Overall I am love-love-loving these products so far. Some have stood out to me more than others. (Like the Stone Fox Suede lipstick and the Vivid Brights liner. Amazing!) But you can expect proper reviews and tutorials in the weeks to come. There you have it! My very first NYX haul. What an exciting concept. It will take a while for the novelty to wear off. Until then....I will be head over heels for my new NYX items.

What are your favourite NYX products?

xo Shannon

Monday, February 1, 2016

you fill up my senses like a night in the forest.

True inspiration is rare these days. Not to say my life is not wonderful or fulfilling. It is. But there was a time in my youth when inspiration fueled me on a daily basis. Music was my everything. It filled me up in ways I cannot express adequately. An album. A song. A lyric. They all spoke to me so deeply. They made me feel. While I still listen to music obsessively....that sensation of being totally immersed in it? So overwhelmed, passionate, and yes, inspired? It doesn't come around much anymore. Recently, it did. In a big way.

I grew up listening to John Denver. My initial introduction was through his Christmas album with The Muppets. My parents would play that record every single holiday. Eventually we had listened to it so many times that the record was in pretty rough shape. So we moved to cassette. Then CD. And then my iPod. The moment I realized that I was a true John Denver fan? When I found myself skipping songs that featured The Muppets. I simply preferred to hear John's beautiful voice and earnest lyrics.

This year? I listened to John Denver's Christmas CDs over and over. Just like I always do. But post-holiday, I listened to the rest of his records as well. Watched his live DVDs. Documentaries about his life. Every song, every word, and every moment inspired me. And suddenly, the beauty of the world came into sharp focus. The perfection of small moments. Of true hearts. Of kindness.

I have turned to his music like I would turn to a friend. The truth? John Denver feels like home to me. So, today I wanted to share a very special outfit of the day. It is not a glitzy gown or a trendy layered look. But it is inspired. This is my OOTD featuring my beloved Rocky Mountain High t-shirt.

It feels good to be inspired. To smile for no reason at all. To feel connected to the universe. And I have the power of music to thank for that.

What do you think of this OOTD? What inspires you?

xo Shannon