Tuesday, May 31, 2016

new in: kylie cosmetics - dolce k

Excited? Me? Absolutely. This has been a very long time coming. Anyone who knows me is well aware of my Kardashian obsession. I love the family, love the show, love their style. That love extends to the Jenner sisters as well. Over the last couple of years...Kylie has become a serious style icon. Oh, and she has nabbed headlines for her plumped pout. That inspired the reality starlet to create her very own line of lip products. Since their release, the Kylie Lip Kits have been selling out over and over again. Honestly? I never thought that I would get my hands on one. Thankfully, I did. It took twenty minutes of hitting refresh and another ten waiting for my order to process. But....finally....finally....Dolce K was ordered.

It arrived late last week. And my excitement level went through the roof. I could not wait to open up the box and start swatching. Everything about the packaging was perfect. It came in an ultra glam cardboard box (white with a black drip pattern down the side) with the words KYLIE printed inside. Then there was a cute little card with a pre-printed note from Kylie Jenner. And of course, the Kylie Lip Kit in Dolce K. The actual lip kit box came wrapped in foam to prevent any damage. So smart! I loved the attention to detail with the packaging. It really made this purchase feel special.

Inside the Kylie Lip Kit was the Dolce K Lip Liner and Matte Liquid Lipstick. Again, the packaging was fantastic. It was super luxurious. The lip liner is fairly standard but had a beautiful silver Kylie signature printed along the side. The liquid lipstick had that gorgeous drip effect coming off of the cap and the Kylie signature. These are both super pretty and definitely need to be displayed!

So....how did the products actually hold up? Did they live up to the hype? Were they worth the money? Yes. Yes. Yes. I was blown away by this lip kit. The colour itself is gorgeous (though Dolce K is pretty dark for me....I wanted something that was super Kardashian inspired). The quality is amazing (the lip liner is buttery smooth and the liquid lipstick is ultra pigmented). It even smells good! (I actually made my husband smell the lipstick. He says it smells like berry yogurt.)

The best thing about the Kylie Lip Kit? How long it lasts. No joke, this stuff did not budge. I kissed my husband, did a cardio workout, drank water, ate food, and went about my day. It didn't transfer or come off at all. I was seriously shocked. It felt amazing to know my lipstick looked good - without having to touch up. Overall, I was so beyond impressed with this product. Everything from the packaging to the quality blew me away.

Have you tried anything from Kylie Cosmetics?

xo Shannon

Sunday, May 29, 2016

when all else fails...choose a smokey eye.

Editing Note: Since Milani chose to contribute to a campaign that involved the harassment and bullying of a domestic violence survivor, I no longer support the brand and do not recommend their products. Spend your money wisely and look elsewhere. 

I was hesitant. My eyes locked onto an eyeshadow palette from Milani. On one hand.....my eyeshadow collection was jam-packed. On the other hand...I had never tried an eyeshadow from Milani before. Needless to say, my curiosity got the better of me. The Everyday Eyes 03 Smoky Essentials palette by Milani came home with me that day. There was something about the combination of colours that appealed to me. As well as the combination of finishes. Want to find out how this drugstore eyeshadow palette worked out? Keep reading. This is my take on the product.

The Packaging: First up? The packaging. When it comes to packaging....drugstore brands usually skimp out. Especially compared to higher end brands. Despite the fact that the palette packaging is plastic, it still looks luxurious. Milani is great at delivering on that end. The gold colour, the simplicity, and the brush (which is not just a sponge tip applicator but an actual double ended brush. That double ended brush is amazing, by the way!) make this palette look far more expensive than it actually is.

The Colours: Now for the good stuff. There were a couple of other Milani eyeshadow palettes on the shelf. One with neutral tones and one with purple tones. Yet for whatever reason, this blue toned palette nabbed my attention. One thing I really enjoy? The mixture of colours and finishes. There is a soft beige shade (matte), a light brown (matte), a dark grey (shimmer), a black shade (matte), a vibrant silver (shimmer), and a navy (pearl finish).

The colours themselves are just beautiful. I love how simply you can create a dramatic smokey eye look - in a number of different ways. There is enough variety between light and dark that you do not need to pull in outside shadows. That makes this palette fantastic, in my opinion. I hate when an eyeshadow palette does not have the proper shadows needed to create a finished look. This one had variety of colours and finishes. I absolutely loved that attention to detail.

The Quality: The colour selection was impressive to me. Equally impressive? The quality of these eyeshadows. They are very soft and velvety to the touch. They also pack a lot of punch. Literally every single shadow in this palette is highly pigmented. You don't need to do a lot to create a gorgeous makeup look. I certainly have my favourite shades (like that matte brown and the bold silver) but they all work quite well. Very impressed with that. Below is a picture of the makeup look I created using this Milani eyeshadow palette. As you can see, I focused heavily on the matte shades and that navy colour. Next time? I really want to play with that silver shade.

Overall Impressions: It's true. I was hesitant to pick up this Milani eyeshadow set. Now? I am so glad that I did. It is something I have been reaching for often. I am obsessed with the mix of matte and shimmery shades. And that colour pay off that cannot be ignored. This is a fantastic set that can be used to create many different looks. For me? It was a total winner.

Have you tried this eyeshadow palette? What is your favourite Milani product?

xo Shannon

Thursday, May 26, 2016

review: jay manuel beauty

I can’t quite explain it. The feeling I get right before I try out a new makeup brand. It’s similar to that butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling there is before testing out a new product. But bigger. More intense. There is an anticipation and joy like unlike anything else. I guess that is why I love makeup so much. It’s the thrill of the hunt. You never know when you will find a product that takes your breath away.

Knowing this….you can imagine my excitement trying out items from Jay Manuel Beauty. For the first time. Not only was this a new brand to me, but a brand from someone whose work I already admire. Not only was I giddy with excitement but I was a little nervous too. What if I didn’t like it? What if these products didn’t live up to my expectations? Were only okay? There was a part of me that desperately wanted these Jay Manuel products to be fantastic. To knock my socks off.

So, did they? Thankfully, they did. (It would be been a major disappointment if they hadn’t, to be honest!) I had already fallen in love with the sleek packaging. And I wanted desperately for the makeup to meet that standard. High expectations? Sure. But hey – nothing wrong with that. Why settle in life? Each one of these items - the eyeshadow quad, the powder foundation, the eyeliner pencil, and the lipstick - had its good points. Stunning colours, wonderful texture, and luxury.

Jay Manuel Beauty met my admittedly high expectations. It has been exciting to test out a bit of the line and see which products stand out. Want to see them in action? Find out how each one fared? Then check out my latest YouTube video for the creation of beauty is art. This is my Jay Manual Beauty demo + review....

Have you tried anything from Jay Manuel Beauty?

xo Shannon 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

you're never too old to be young.

Yes....another Walt Disney World post! This is part two of my vacation recap. The first post was all about our first three days in Orlando. They were spent at Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. Each day was loaded with fun, excitement, and wonder. The kind of experience that you can only have at Disney. (It really is a magical place.) Next? We spent the rest of our vacation at the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. Here are some of the highlights!

Day Four: The Magic Kingdom

This is the moment that my Disney trip truly felt like a Disney trip. As much as I love all of the other parks (and I do....an awful lot...) there is something about the Magic Kingdom. It just feels like Disney. The music, the atmosphere, the excitement. It is so special. Honestly, if I could just stay there forever, I would be totally content. This day? Was probably the best day I have ever had in Disney. Ever. We were there for a total of thirteen hours and we had a blast. We went on a ton of rides, got a zillion Fast Passes, ate tons of delicious food, went shopping, saw fireworks, and even stayed for the Celebrate The Magic show. It was phenomenal! The whole castle is projected with videos and images from classic Disney movies. My husband and I were in total awe. It was one of the highlights of the entire vacation. 

Every moment of the day was special. But one of the best? When my husband chose an Oswald pin for me. Though I have been to Disney parks a handful of times....I have never been a pin collector. But in the welcome bag my mom had sent to us? There was a pin trader starting kit. Oh boy. I went nuts! Suddenly my obsession was all Disney pins all the time. I wound up getting ten by the end of the trip. Oops. Thankfully my husband was super sweet and spoiled me with lots of cute Disney pins. (Some of them can be seen in the picture above.)

Day Five: Hollywood Studios

The next day, it was back to Hollywood Studios. This day was kind of bittersweet. Why? It was getting close to the end of our vacation. And our last day in Hollywood Studios. This thought stayed with me for much of the day. I found myself feeling sad....and desperately trying to hold on to every moment. Overall, the day was wonderful. We went there in the early afternoon. Since the day before had been so long we needed a chance to rest and recover. So we had a fantastic breakfast at the hotel before heading out. When we got there? We met Olaf. Okay, so I am a little obsessed with Olaf. And freaked out like a small child while meeting him. Above you can see the picture we got with him! So fun! I love that you can always be a kid in Disney. 

After that, there were more rides (I think we went on Rock n Rollercoaster four times), the Beauty and the Beast Live show, dinner at the Sci Fi Diner (you sit in drive in cars under the stars!), and then Fantasmic. The latter was pretty disappointing. Mostly because we had Fast Passes for it. But wound up sitting at the very back. Apparently, having a Fast Pass just meant that you got in. Not that you got a decent seat. What a waste. I was super disappointed because we couldn't see much of anything. Sigh sigh sigh. That was really the only negative thing about our Disney experience. The day ended on a good note, though. We took a bus back to a nearby resort instead of our own. Then had a little adventure walk around Disney. It was fun! 

Day Six: The Magic Kingdom

The last day. This was super upsetting for me. I wanted to stay! It felt like the vacation had just started then suddenly it was time to think about going home. Despite this....we had a ton of fun on our last day. We went on a lot of rides, did last minute shopping, and even had a character lunch at the Crystal Palace. Expensive? Yes. But we got to meet Piglet, Tigger, and Eeyore. Very exciting. We spend a lot of time in Fantasy Land this time which was great. That meant Disney Princesses and classic rides. Yes! The best part of the day? When my husband shoo-ed me out of a store. He made me wait outside and then picked out a special Disney pin for me. (It was Minnie Mouse with crystals all over it. So so perfect.) 

We went on Space Mountain and Peter Pan and a lot of other amazing rides. It was all rides all the time. Just the way we like it. I started getting upset as the sun went down because I knew that it was all coming to a close. But my husband was sweet and kept cheering me up. How did it all end? We watched the Electrical Parade. It was really awesome. Then we did some shopping on Main Street and went back to the hotel. After that, it was time to pack, try to stay awake, and head to the airport. At 2am. Plus side? I slept the whole way home. 

So! That was it. My Walt Disney World trip had come to a close. I wish so much there was a way to go back and do it all again. Because it was incredible, special, and exactly what I needed. 

xo Shannon

Sunday, May 22, 2016

a dream is a wish your heart makes.

It feels good to look back. To go through photos and recall special memories. My trip to Walt Disney World might be over....but the experience has certainly stayed with me. There are times when I find myself thinking of something that happened, something we did, or even something we ate. It was a perfect vacation from start to finish. The only thing that wasn't perfect was that the vacation ended. Always disappointing when you are sent back to reality. You know, working, responsibilities, and a mountain of dishes. I much prefer the Disney life!

A lot happened during our stay. Which is why there is going to be a part one and a part two. The first part (this post!) will be about our first three days. During that time, we went to Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. I am a huge Disney fanatic....so needless to say? I love all of the parks. My all-time favourite is Magic Kingdom. But each one has a special place in my heart.

Day One: Epcot

We had a very early flight into Orlando. This was planned. Why? That was we could spend as much time as possible in a park on our first day. Since we would only have a half day to spend (we got to the resort at about 11:30 and to the park by 12:30 or so) we chose to do Epcot. This is a fun place to visit but there is a lot less to see. Especially since we spent a full day there on our honeymoon last year. This time? The flower and garden festival was going on. So we were lucky enough to see all of the gorgeous topiaries and butterflies. It was awesome! Then we went on some rides (like Test Track, Nemo, and Figment) before stopping off to meet someone very special. Baymax! I was super excited about this. My husband thought it was funny that I was freaking out about meeting Baymax but....it was really cool. The costume was puffy and full of air. Neat! 

After that, we toured the world showcases. (The hubby bought tons of tea in the England section.) Then we went back to the hotel to rest up for the next day. When we got there? There was a welcome bag waiting on the bed. It was SO exciting. My mom had arranged to have a welcome bag delivered to our room! It was full of goodies: Mickey Mouse bag, camera bag, autograph book, pen, Mickey bars, pretzels, pin trading set, fireworks glasses, and a Hidden Mickey book. It made the day feel extra special. 

Day Two: Hollywood Studios

The next day was a little more exciting for me. Hollywood Studios! I have always loved it here. Ever since I was a child....I loved seeing the behind the scenes stuff. Learning how movies and TV shows are made. It was endlessly fascinating. Today? Hollywood Studios is a little bit different. Many of my favourite aspects are gone (like the Backlot Tour and the animation studio) thanks to Star Wars. But my husband was happy about all of the new Star Wars themed additions. So there was that. 

Our first day there was filled with quite a bit of Star Wars - like the ride, the live show, taking pictures with Storm Troopers, the launch bay section, the store.....you get my point. Other than that? We went on a lot of great rides. Like Tower of Terror, Rock n Rollercoaster, and the Muppet 3D ride. All things that I love! We also got great seats for the Indiana Jones show. All in all, it was a fun day full of rides, rides, and more rides. Not a bad way to get the vacation going. 

Day Three: Animal Kingdom

I love Animal Kingdom. A lot. Which is why it was a little disappointing the last time my husband and I visited. It was so hot and we wound up leaving early. Sigh. Not this time! The weather was wonderful and we had a fantastic day. We got to see a ton of beautiful animals, go on awesome rides (like Expedition Everest), pet some super cute goats, and take a safari ride (where we were THIS CLOSE to a giraffe). It was such a wonderful and happy experience. We had a lot of fun. 

Since this park closes a little earlier than the rest....we wound up back at the hotel earlier in the day. We went for a swim and then got dressed up to visit Disney Springs. (Formally Downtown Disney.) It was packed there. Getting around was a total nightmare because of all the people. That made it really tricky to do any real shopping. But I still managed to find a few gifts for family back home! Then we went to our favourite place in the area: Splitsville. It is a restaurant with a bowling alley inside. We didn't go bowling, sadly. But we did eat some fantastic food. And lots of it. 

There you have it! Our first three days in Walt Disney World. My next post will be all about the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. Until then!

Have you ever been to Disney World? What is your favourite ride?

xo Shannon

Thursday, May 19, 2016

moments of clarity.

We all have moments of clarity. This was mine.

Staring at a half-completed to do list....my thoughts were scattered. My mind unfocused. I was desperately unhappy. The problem? There was so much to get done. And there was always so much to get done. The worst part? The pay off just wasn't happening. My career just wasn't happening.

I never skipped school. I worked hard to get good grades. I went to University and earned my Honours BA. I took part in an internship. I wrote freelance articles. Five years later? I have written for over thirty online publications. I have applied for hundreds of writing jobs. I have tweaked my resume. I have worked off my butt off to make my dream a reality. It still isn't.

Should I give up completely? Should I let go of that illusive dream job and start a new career? One that pays the bills. One that will make everyone else happy. It is a tempting thought. One I have considered over and over again. But then I had this moment of clarity. A moment of honesty. I don't want to give up. Despite it all (the poor payment, the late nights, and the aggravation)....I don't regret fighting for my dream. It was always worth the risk. Today, there is something inside of me saying, keep going. Push forward.

I believe I was meant to be a writer. In some way at least. Maybe writing won't be my career. Maybe it will. Whatever happens? It will always be my passion. My dream. My heart. And that realization? That was my moment of clarity. That is the moment I will hold onto when things seem impossible or out of reach.

My apologies that this post is a little abnormal for my blog. This was simply a moment I needed to capture.

xo Shannon

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

elegance is the only beauty that never fades.

In my opinion? There should always be something to look forward to. A get together with friends, a special date night, a vacation, a concert....something. There is a good reason for this. It gives you a spring in your step. A happy thought in the middle of a bad day. A smile. Having an event to look forward to adds light to every moment leading up to it. Me personally? I like to plan out my hair, makeup, and outfit. Over and over again. I allow the upcoming event to inspire my style. This builds anticipation and allows me to get creative. It is a win-win. 

There are a couple of upcoming events on my calendar. The first is a concert. My mom and I will be heading to a casino to see Donny and Marie. Again. It seems we have managed to see them (together or solo) quite a few times this past year. Always a good thing! With that in mind....I have created an outfit inspired by the evening. I am hoping to wear something similar to this set. A cute denim dress, my favourite pearl earrings, cream accessories, and a sophisticated lipstick shade. Take a look at the inspiration outfit below and let me know what you think! Is it spring concert worthy? 

Getting dressed up for a concert is always fun. It gives you the chance to get super glam or change up your look in a new and exciting way. For Donny and Marie? I am going for cute and classic. Fingers crossed it looks as good as that OOTD set! 

Speaking of outfits of the day....I recently filmed a short video for the creation of beauty is art. YouTube channel. It is a Spring #OOTD that I wore out for dinner with my husband and a couple of friends. The look is pretty simple but has a gorgeous pop of floral print. (Because you can never go wrong with floral print during spring!) Take a look at the video - and be sure to like, comment, and subscribe! 

Spring style is magical. Especially when you have an event to look forward to! At the moment, I am counting down the days until the Donny and Marie concert. Fingers crossed my spring style will stand out for the right reasons. 

What do you think of this outfit? What would you wear to a spring concert?

xo Shannon

Saturday, May 14, 2016

sick? how to make yourself feel better.

There is good news and bad news. The good news? I was healthy and happy for my entire Walt Disney World vacation. The bad news? An hour before our flight home....my throat started to hurt. My head was pounding. My nose was stuffed. That's right. Just as I was getting ready to head home from my totally amazing vacation, my body decided it was going to be sick. As of now? I am struggling to stay awake, get through the work day, and finish my to do lists. Talk about frustrating.

With that in mind? I decided to focus today's post on a few uplifting ideas. There are plenty of posts on how to get better physically. You know, take vitamins, drink water, and get plenty of sleep. But what about emotionally? Mentally? That is what this post is all about. Here are some super effective ways to make yourself feel better. Whether you have a cold, are feeling under the weather, or just need a little pick me up.

Treat Yourself To a Nice Warm Shower. Sometimes, a nice warm shower can go a long way. It can give you a mental break, relax your muscles, and temporarily relieve you of cold symptoms. Plus it gives you the chance to pamper yourself. Use a lovely scented body wash, apply a leave in hair conditioner, and belt out your favourite song. By the time you leave? You will feel a whole lot better.

Stretch It Out Every Now and Again. Never underestimate the power of stretching. A few simple stretches (of your arms, legs, or even a yoga pose) can do an awful lot of good. It gets the blood pumping, helps you feel loose and relaxed, and gives you an added boost of energy. This is the perfect pick-me-up!

Watch Something Funny on TV. When I am sick or feeling down? There is nothing a good laugh can't fix. That is why I like to put on familiar episodes of funny TV shows. Things like The Big Bang Theory, Friends, Seinfeld, The Office, or The Muppets makes me laugh, smile, and forget about my troubles. At least for a little while.

Indulge With Something You Enjoy. Most of the time we try to make good choices. To find balance and do what is right. Sometimes? You just need to indulge a little. This is especially true when you are sick or feeling out of sorts. Take this opportunity to cheer yourself up. Pick up a magazine on your way home from work. Bake your favourite chocolate chip cookies. Spend some time soaking in a warm bubble bath. Just do something that makes you feel good!

There you go. A few ways to make yourself feel better. I will definitely be following my own advice here! Hopefully this cold will subside quickly. Until then....

xo Shannon

Thursday, May 12, 2016

home is where you hang your heart.

I'm back! After a wonderful week of sunshine, Mickey Mouse ears, and relaxation....my husband and I have returned home. As much as I love travel? I struggle with this part. The coming home part. It is always a bit of an adjustment. Suddenly all the things you  have been ignoring? Well, they cannot be ignored. There are unanswered emails, assignments, missed phone calls, social media notifications, and of course, responsibilities at work. Phew. If only I could stay in Disney forever.

The next couple of days will be spent trying to catch up on things. Seeing family. Unpacking my over stuffed suitcase. Posting photos. Catching up on blogging and commenting. Needless to say...it will be pretty busy. I am hoping there will be an opportunity to get some shut eye as well. The Disney trip was action packed from start to finish. As incredible as it was? I am totally exhausted.

My apologies that this post is short and sweet. (Like I said....exhausted!) I just wanted to let you all know that I am back from Orlando. So, expect to see me commenting and posting in the days to come. Please let me know what you have been up to in the last week. I would love to get caught up and hear some of your stories.

xo Shannon

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

dreams are forever.

Travel. It is a huge part of my life. Though many places are still on my bucket list...I have been lucky enough to visit some truly spectacular spots. My all time favourite? Walt Disney World. It really is the happiest place on earth. There is something so special about it. The atmosphere is positive. The park is downright magical. And there are a million things to see and do. (Especially for a Disney fanatic.) But the best part? Everyone there is happy, excited, and grateful. Soon? I will be too.

My husband and I originally planned to visit Boston this summer. Turns out? That was going to be pretty expensive. So we started looking into other options. We almost chose Universal Studios. Due to the cost, it was going to be a quick three day adventure. Until.....we discovered it would cost the same amount of money to visit Disney for an entire week. (Spring specials! Yay!) And well, I love Disney. A lot. We went there last summer on our honeymoon and it was a total dream come true. So in the end, we chose a fun-filled week at the happiest place on earth.

I am excited. Really excited. Even as I write this, my stomach has butterflies. I cannot wait to step foot on Disney soil. Today's post is just a quick life update. And an explanation. For the next week or so this blog will be pretty quiet. Instead of swatching and reviewing....I will be busy wearing my Minnie Mouse ears and eating Mickey ice cream bars. Not to worry. I will be back posting shortly after we return home. Until then!

Do you have any travel plans? Have you ever visited Walt Disney World?

xo Shannon

Monday, May 2, 2016

review: hard candy eyeshadow collection

Eyeshadow palettes are tricky. Especially at the drugstore. They always lure you in with hopes of high pigmentation and an affordable price tag. But half the time? Those same eyeshadow palettes are lackluster. Either the pigmentation is off, the formula is chalky, or the packaging is flimsy. Not so with the Hard Candy Top Ten Eyeshadow Collection. Their set, Pinking Of You, was everything I hoped it would be. Ready to find out why this eyeshadow palette impressed? Take a look at the palette below......

As you can see, there is a nice range of shades included here. Some lighter, some smokier, and a few pink-peach tones. This is something I really appreciate from an eyeshadow palette. I like when there are light, mid-tone, and darker colours included. That way I can create a wide range of makeup looks using one single palette. Super convenient for travel or when you are on the go. The texture of the shades is consistent throughout the palette (something else I really appreciate. Too often drugstore eyeshadow palettes include one or two pigmented shades with the rest chalky and barely there). Each shadow gives off a good amount of colour. They look exactly as they do in the pan on the eyes. Another bonus. 

While Hard Candy does have a few matte palettes, this particular palette is all about shimmer. All of the shadows are quite shimmery. In fact? There are a few in here that border on glittery if you really pack them onto the lid. The packaging on this palette is another positive. While it is simple black plastic - as most drugstore palettes tend to be - there is a really lovely detail on the front. It is covered in pink and black lace fabric. That was such a nice touch. Plus it looks super pretty in my makeup collection. Always a good thing! 

Recently I pulled this palette out of my eyeshadow drawer to get creative. It had been far too long! The look I created was smokey, glittery, and just a little dramatic. I used that deep brown shade in the crease, the peachy toned shadow all over the lid, and patted on lots and lots of that white shimmer for an added pop. The rest of my makeup was fairly simple. A nude blush and neutral lip. The eyes were definitely the star of this look. Here it is....

Makeup doesn't have to be expensive to be good. Hard Candy has proven that time and time again. To me, at least! They are by far one of my favourite drugstore brands. As for drugstore eyeshadow palettes? This is proof enough that they can (and should) exceed your expectations. 

Speaking of Hard Candy.....be sure to check out the creation of beauty is art. YouTube channel to see my latest Hard Candy haul! 

Have you tried this palette? What is your favourite Hard Candy item?

xo Shannon