5 Fantastic Subscriptions That Are Totally Worth It

I’ll admit that, while I love nature, I’m a total city girl who loves the many amenities of urban living. Prior to this year the only kind of subscription I paid for was Netflix and for monthly issues of Elle Canada. The past year has been a revelation and I have discovered 5 game-changing subscription services that make everything from getting ready in the morning to cooking dinner, so much easier and more pleasurable. Whether you’re looking for convenience or a little bit of luxury, these services are sure to elevate your daily life. 

1 // My Stylish French Box

If you’re like me and go wild for all things french, then this lovely box of treasures is going to give you goosebumps. Sign up and every few months you will be sent a parcel filled with fashion, beauty, home decor and lifestyle items by gorgeous french designers from all over the country. It costs a pretty penny, but when you consider how many luxury gifts you get per box and how useful each item is, it’s totally worth it. You can even gift a box to a friend! If you want to live like the french, and who doesn’t, then this is the subscription service of your dreams.

2 // Naturebox

Healthy and yummy snacks delivered to your door? I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a dream come true to me! I don’t snack a ton during the day but I like to have a pick me up or two while I am work and after a workout to keep my energy levels high and my mood pleasant. Because hanger is a real thing my friends! Each snack is made without artificial flavours or ingredients and there are over 100 options. Go nuts – literally and figuratively (the salt and pepper cashews are delish).

3 // ScentBird

I’m a fragrance fanatic and so when I discovered Scentbird I was hooked. For only $14.95 a month they send you a small bottle of perfume so you can see if you love it and want a full-sized bottle. Each month you get to choose the perfume you want to be sent and they have options from some of the biggest brands and designers – think Dolce and Gabbana and Armani – as well as more obscure indie brands. For the cost of a sandwich and coffee, you’ll be sent high-end perfumes bottles. And these aren’t the tiny sample vials you are given along with a purchase at a department store. Each bottle comes with 8ml of fragrance and so if you spray modestly they can last ages! It really is the subscription service of my olfactory dreams. 

4 // Ipsy

I can honestly say that since I’ve started my subscription with Ipsy (early spring last year), I have rarely had to go out and buy makeup. When you sign up you fill out a profile that tells the company what your preferences, skin type and hair type are, and then each month a bag is sent to your door that is specially created with products to fit your tastes and beauty needs. I have to say, their system is effective because I very rarely get a product that I don’t like. They also send fabulous, high-end products from brands like Benefit, Tarte, Too Faced and Makeup Forever, as well as lesser known indie brands. Beauty fiends, sign up to discover new products and brands, and for the joy of getting a little bag filled with makeup every month. Oh, and did I mention that the bags are adorable? I have used Ipsy bags as clutches and wallets on more than one occasion. 

5 // Hello Fresh 

I can honestly say that I love cooking, and so the only real obstacle to me making a home-cooked meal at the end of the day is a lack of energy and ingredients. Hello Fresh delivers perfectly proportioned ingredients and recipes to your door so that you can make fancy-pants, delish dishes in no time at all and with practically zero cooking know-how. I wouldn’t use this service on a daily basis, but it’s perfect for lazy days or when you are hosting a dinner party and want to make a stellar impression with very little effort. It’s also a great way for beginners to improve their cooking skills!

Have you tried any of these subscription services? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

xoxo,

Alicia

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Falling For Fall | 6 Cozy Autumn Candles

I’m a scent-aholic and so one of my favorite things about fall is filling my home with cozy smelling candles inspired by the delicious aromas of autumn. Candles, and scents in general, can do wonders for creating a specific atmosphere and mood. For example, if I want to relax and unwind, I might light a candle scented with vanilla, woods or lavender. If I want to feel cozy and creative, I’ll light smokier scents with apple, tobacco, cinnamon or caramel. Whether it’s the perfume you wear or the candles you light, scent is such a personal, intimate thing and everyone has their own preferences and opinions on what makes a perfect fall candle. Some prefer sweet pumpkin spice latte scents, while others like candles that mimic the smells of nature – fallen leaves and dewy apple orchards. Whatever your preferences, I am positive that one of these delectable fall candles will tickle your fancy. Here’s to all of the warm and fuzzy feelings and delicious smells that fall brings!


1 // Bath and Body Works – Leaves

NOTES: Red Apple, Golden Nectar, Clove Spice

Leaves from Bath and Body Works is an autumn classic and is one of the candles that I repurchase year after year. It’s sweet and spicy but still fresh, reminiscent of a brisk but sunny fall day spent crunching through fallen leaves in a tranquil park. It’s utterly pleasant and a fail-safe crowd pleaser. I’ve yet to meet a soul that didn’t adore Leaves!


2 // Byredo – Treehouse

NOTES: Bamboo, Pimento, Hay, Labdanum, Myrrh, Leather

If you lean towards green, outdoorsy scents, you are sure to fall head over heels for this refreshing candle. It reminds me of fragrant pine needles, dew-laden grass and fallen leaves. Oh, and apparently it’s Taylor Swift’s favorite!


3 // Max Benjamin – Coffee and Cardamom

NOTES: Coffee, Cardamom, Patchouli, Rose and Vanilla

Is there anything more mouthwatering than the smell of hot coffee in the morning? Only if it’s laced with exotic cardamom, voluptuous rose and creamy vanilla. This sensual candle is exactly what I want to light when I want to cuddle up on the couch with my boyfriend. The definition of cozy.


4 // Nectar Republic – Autumn Pear

NOTES: Fresh Pear, Caramel, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Vanilla

If bakery-inspired scents are your jam, then look no further than this drool-worthy candle. With nuances of juicy pear and creamy caramel and cinnamon, it smells exactly like a poached pear tart. Light this bad boy and everyone will be wondering what delectable confection you’ve been baking.


5 // Frostbite Studios – Sherlock’s Study

NOTES: Pipe Tobacco, Cherrywood, Fresh Rain

Channel your inner recluse detective and enjoy the mysterious aromas of smokey pipe tobacco and cherrywood. A clean rain accord brings a slight freshness to the candle that reminds me of days spent in a musty study, reading with tea in front of a rain spattered window. It’s very unique and completely sets itself apart from other atypical fall scents.


6 // Often Wander – Apple, Ginger & Sandalwood

NOTES: Apple, Ginger and Sandalwood (obvs)

When it comes to fall scents, the smell of apple and ginger is a classic. This sweet and spicy combination reminds me of a juicy wedge of apple pie, but without all of the guilt and calories. It’s also made with clean-burning soy wax which lasts a lot longer than other waxes, so you can enjoy this delicious candle for ages and ages!

Do you have a favorite fall candle? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

xoxo,

Alicia

Five Hair Masks That Work Like A Charm

Even if you weren’t cursed, I mean blessed, with super dry curly hair like me, everyone can benefit from introducing a hair mask into their beauty routine. Especially in the summer when chlorine, saltwater and UV rays wreak havoc on your hair. There are tons of masks out there for all different hair types and needs. These four are my favorites and I can promise you, you actually will notice a difference after using them. Say bye to split-ends and hello to silky bunny hair.


1 // Christophe Robin – Regenerating Hair Mask with Rare Prickly Pear Seed Oil

Okay, I’ll be honest – what first attracted me to this line of hair products was the name. My boyfriend’s name is Chris but I always call him Christopher Robin (like the annoying girlfriend I am) and so my initial reason for trying this mask was pure novelty. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised to find that this deeply hydrating, deliciously scented mask left my parched, curly hair soft and shiny after just one use. Enriched with pure prickly pear seed oil, this rich formula quenches dry, frizzy strands and leaves it smelling lovely.

2 // Living Proof – Restore Mask Treatment

Even though I haven’t dyed my hair in six months, the bleach from my balayage has still left my hair more dry and brittle than it had ever been before. This rejuvenating mask is filled with hair nourishing butters and a unique OFPMA molecule which replenishes moisture levels in the hair and repairs damage. It is very rich so I don’t use it all the time, but when I want hydration like nothing else, this is my go-to.

3 // Amika – Nourishing Hair Mask

This yummy smelling mask is like an antioxidant-packed power smoothie for your hair. It’s chock full of brightening vitamin C, thanks to its main ingredient – Sea Buckthorn. Softening jojoba oil thoroughly  moisturizers strands, smoothing frizz and making your mane super shiny.

4 // Briogeo – Repair Deep Conditioning Mask

I received a sample of this mask in an Ipsy bag a while ago and I instantly fell in love. It has a really light, almost gel-like consistency but does wonders for damaged, brittle hair. A lot of the same nutrients your body requires to be healthy, your hair needs too! Give your tresses a huge dose of B vitamins, biotin, algae and vitamin C with this do-it-all hair holy grail.
5 // Garnier – Whole Blends Honey Treasures Repairing Mask
Although I don’t love the packaging of Garnier’s new ‘Whole Blends’ hair care line, I adore the products that I have tried so far, in particular this creamy, sweet as dessert hair mask. It’s packed full on honey, as well as one of my favorite super foods, royal jelly. I also love how low maintenance this is. Simply smooth is onto your hair after shampooing, wait a few minutes, and then rinse it out. Boom – effortless mermaid hair in a blink of an eye.

Have you tried any of these? What are your favorite masks? Let me know in the comments!

xoxo,

Alicia

Brand Spotlight | BaYou with Love

If you’ve read anything about actress Nikki Reed, you’ll know that she is a busy, busy lady with an awe-inspiring collection of job titles. Not only is she a successful actress and musician, but she is also a passionate conservationist and champion of animal rights. Now she can also add ‘designer’ to her list of occupations, as she has partnered with Morgan Bogle (the founder of Freedom of Animals) to launch the eco-chic lifestyle brand BaYou With Love.

So what kind of products can you find within the label? Pretty much everything from clothing and loungewear to beauty. Everything within the line is made out of environmentally friendly materials – think organic cotton, tencel, cupro, and recycled canvas. The clothes are also gorgeous, with loose, flowy silhouettes, muted colours, and subtle details. This chambray dress is my favorite and is just the kind of effortless piece I would want as my summer uniform. Natural clothes have a reputation for looking frumpy but that is SO not the case with this line. Every piece is beautiful with a laid back California feel. 

Just like the clothes, the beauty products are also lovingly crafted out of natural materials, such as olive oil, calendula, and plant-based essential oils. I am particularly intrigued by the BYL Multi-Purpose Skin Balm which can be used anywhere on your body that needs a little extra moisture and TLC. It’s vegan, biodegradable, and scented with soothing lavender. So basically it’s just the thing you want to slather on your body after a post-yoga shower!

Aside from the fact that all of the products are beautiful and high quality, one of my favorite things about BaYou With Love is its commitment to sustainability and USA production. Every single piece is made in the United States which helps to support local artisans and ethically run factories. From the health of the planet to the health of the people who wear these items, BaYou With Love is designed for people who are mindful about what they put on their bodies and how those decisions affect the planet. It is a beautiful line with beautiful values at its core. I’m inspired by its message and believe that brands that support independent artists, local production, and sustainable practices are so important and I hope that one day those kinds of brand values aren’t selling points, but that they are the norm. If you haven’t checked this new brand out yet, you are in for a treat! 

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1 // Chambray Dress

2 // Canvas Button Top

3 // Button Down Jumpsuit

4 // Wide Leg Pants

5 // Plant Oil Perfume

6 // Sustainable Tea Blanket

7 // BYL Multi-Purpose Skin Balm

8 // Pajama Petal Shorts

9 // Pajama Box Top

10 // Over Sized Backpack

All Photos via Bayou With Love

xoxo,

Alicia

dirty-martini-cocktail-how-to

The Dirtier The Better

I’ll admit it – I rarely go out drinking. I’m 23 but with the soul of a 95-year-old woman and nine times our of ten I would rather curl up with a cup of tea and Netflix or read a book in the bath. One Friday night I was legitimately knitting while watching Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone. Did you fall asleep yet? When I’m not being boring or indulging in one of my favorite geriatric activities, I do like to indulge in one (or four) drinks, some snacks, and the company of my boyfriend and/or friends. My tipple of choice? The dirty martini.

Now, not everyone likes the strong, briney flavor of a dirty martini. It took me a while to appreciate the dry, refreshing flavor of gin but now I love it and there are a lot of variations out there that play with different flavors (this one has notes of rose in it – something that totally seduces a flower child like me). The first time I made a dirty martini I couldn’t even finish it. Sure, there are only three ingredients, but the way it’s made, the quality of the sauce you use, and how cold the drink is makes ALL of the difference. Now, I make a pretty mean martini – sometimes I even prefer mine to those that are made in a bar or restaurant! Not to toot my own horn. Now if you aren’t into super sweet drinks, like gin, love olives, and can’t get enough sodium in your life, low and behold your new favorite cocktail. Here’s how to mix an awesome dirty martini that will make you feel like a female James Bond.

dirty-martini-ingredients

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 oz gin or vodka (I prefer gin but it’s really your call.)
  • A drizzle of dry vermouth
  • 1 oz of olive brine (I like my martini’s filthy so I add 1.5 or 2 oz sometimes)
  • 2-4 stuffed olives (If you can find them, blue cheese stuffed olives add some extra decadence and kick to an already salty dirty martini)

YOUR TOOLS

  • A chilled glass
  • An ice-filled shaker or a spoon for mixing
  • A spear for your olives

Traditionally martinis are made with gin, but vodka is a very popular substitute. I like both but gin is my favorite. The tree-like flavor of gin (derived from juniper berries) makes the cocktail a little more refreshing and lightens up the salty flavor of the olive brine. Dirty martinis can be ‘wet’ or ‘dry’ depending on how much vermouth you add. I am not a massive fan of vermouth and so I add just a drizzle and like to keep my martini’s on the dry side.

  1. How to mix them? Chill a glass by putting it in the freezer for ten minutes or by filling it with ice and then dumping it out. You can use a martini glass if you’re feeling fancy but we’re not that posh over here and I would drink a martini out of a mason jar if it was my only option.
  2. Next, put your ingredients into a shaker, shake it like Taylor Swift says, and then strain it into your glass. You can also pour the ingredients directly into your glass and stir to mix your drink. Some people believe that martinis should ONLY be stirred because shaking it ‘bruises’ the gin. Whatever that means. It’s your choice. A lot of bars use shakers but I don’t have one and my martinis always come out tasting great.
  3. Strain your mixed martini into your chilled glass and garnish with olives.
  4. Enjoy the salty deliciousness!

Do you have any favorite cocktail recipes? Do you have tips to make an even better dirty martini? Let me know in the comments! I am always down to up my martini game.

xoxo,

Alicia

Last Minute DIY Holiday Gifts

 

However much I may like to pride myself on my organizational skills in other aspects of my life, when it comes to gift shopping, I tend to be more of a “last minute dash to the shops, thirty minutes before I am actually supposed to give the gift” kind of girl. Every year I plan to plan ahead and every year I fail to do so. This lack of gift-buying direction coupled with the fact that I am a still a university student with a fairly modest budget, means that the holiday season, as warm, cozy and magical as it can be, also stresses me right out.

One method I have of sticking to my budget while minimizing my stress is to make my own gifts. When one thinks of home made gifts one might think of sticky glue, tacky crafts or misshapen, lumpy scarves. That being said, thanks to the wonders of Pinterest and all of the talented, crafty people out there, there are a ton of different ideas when it comes to making one’s own gifts for the holidays. I have chosen four DIY gift ideas that are very easy and quick to produce (if you had all of the time in the world to painstakingly crochet or craft something out of wood, you wouldn’t be reading this, would you?) but also luxurious and indulgent. From tasty, homemade pickles to a simple yet very personal initial pendant, here are a few gifts you can (cheaply) cross off your list.

Homemade Pickled Veggies

pickled vegetables

Photo Source | Averie Cooks

As a total pickle addict, it blows my mind that I have never before considered making my own. Using any vegetables you like (radishes, carrots, cauliflower, and green tomatoes are my favorite) you can customize each jar based on the recipients preference. Not only is this a easy gift to make (you likely have all of the necessary elements already in your kitchen) but they are absolutely delicious and are beautifully presented in a simple mason jar with a ribbon and sprig of lavender or rosemary.

Custom Wine and Cheese Basket

wine-basket-mr-gallery-x

Photo Source | myrecipes.com

When it comes to gift giving, one thing that I firmly believe it that gifts should be indulgent. When choosing something for another person, I always feel that it is best to pick something that they wouldn’t necessarily choose for themselves, and that they don’t necessarily need but that would bring them pleasure. And surely nothing brings more pleasure then the classic and ever-elegant combination of cheese and wine? Gift baskets are fun to make and are so personal because one can completely tailor the flavors and items to the preferences of the person. Choose a varied but complementary selection of cheeses and wines as the base of your basket. Other nice additions are biscotti, chocolate, gourmet crackers, olives, jams, nuts, and pickles.

Customized Oil Perfume

natural perfume

Photo Source | hellonatural.co

Perfume is one of the most personal gifts a person can give. Our sense of smell is more powerful than we know or pay homage to and is deeply intertwined with the part of our brain that stores memories. We all link certain smells with memories or people that mean a lot to us. Whether it is the smell of your mother’s perfume or boyfriend’s clothes, or the smell of rain on hot pavement in the summer, no other sense is capable of stirring up as much emotion as our sense of smell. With this in mind, create a custom oil perfume for your loved one with all of the smells that remind you of him or her, or that you know they love. Consider it an olfactory love poem. Using essential oils and a base oil such as jojoba oil, it is not only relatively simple and quick to make, but it is also all natural, meaning that it is more intimate (you can only smell the fragrance when you are hugging the person) and it isn’t as likely to cause a reaction for people who are sensitive to scent.

Initial Pendant

diynecklace

Photo Source | happyhourprojects.com

Jewelry is always a classic, relatively fail-proof gift to give. One doesn’t need to worry about fit or sizes (unless it is a ring) and nearly everyone likes jewelry. Jewelry is special, luxurious and meaningful. While not all of us have the skills to recreate the stunning pieces we might see at Tiffanys, with just a bit of chain and sterling silver letter beads (easy to find at bead or craft shops). One could also swap the silver chain and beads for a rose gold or copper hue, depending on the person’s taste. In this way, it is easy to create an ultra-personal, on-trend necklace that looks high-end but is easy on the wallet.

Hope you enjoyed these ideas. Do you have any holiday gift DIYs that you love and would like to share? I would love to read about them in the comments as I am always looking for new DIY projects. Happy holidays everyone!

xoxo,

Alicia

 

 

 

October Beauty Picks

OctoberBeautyPicks

I am always on the hunt for new beauty products and this month I found a few that I really love. From caffeinated eye creams and fruity peels that keep my complexion bright and radiant to a lipstick that makes me feel like Greta Garbo, here are my top five beauty picks for this October.

1. 100% Pure Organic Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream

I have always been a bit of a night owl. I am not a morning person and as far as I am concerned, any time before 11 am is ungodly. I come alive at night time and that comes with a price and that price comes in the form of dark circles and puffy eyes. I have always just resorted to using an industrial strength concealer to cover up my under eye bags and while I had considered using an eye cream, I had my doubts about their effectiveness. When I got this caffeinated eye cream in my October Birchbox, I was skeptical but introduced it into my night time and morning skin care ritual. While it did not provide immediate results, over the course of a few days I began to notice the discoloration around my eyes lighten and my eyes began to look brighter and more awake. With all natural, organic ingredients such as aloe, rosehip oil, coffee and green tea, this product is not only very effective but it is gentle and rich in antioxidants and nutrients for the skin.

2. Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel Sensitive

Of all of the steps in my skincare routine, I am particularly diligent about exfoliating. Exfoliating not only removes dead skin, oil, dirt and debris from the surface of your skin but it improves circulation and enhances the effectiveness of other products. Because my skin is so sensitive, I am careful about the scrubs and peels that I use. Mechanical scrubs (those that physically polish away dead skin) can be a bit harsh for my skin, making my complexion ruddy and dry. This gentle peel uses fruit enzymes, hydroxy acids and raw sugar cane to break down dead skin cells and oil. Its also very easy to use. I simply spread a thin layer over my face like a mask, allow it to dry for ten minutes and then wash off. It’s a great way to brighten up my complexion at the start of my day.

3. Harvey Prince Hello Body Cream

Its rare that I rave about a body cream but I truly cannot say enough good things about this sweetly scented moisturizer. Thick and luxurious, this rich cream is jam-packed with hydrating shea butter and olive,almond and coconut oil. Its uplifting citrus fragrance comes from naturally derived mandarin and lemon extracts and leaves my skin feeling supple and deeply hydrated. I keep a little tube of this in my purse at all times, especially as the weather gets cooler, to ward off chapped, wind-burnt skin.

4. Eyeko Black Magic Mascara 

I enjoy wearing makeup and it is rare that I leave my house without at least a touch on my face to keep myself looking polished, awake and fresh. Mascara, however is an absolute essential. I usually don’t stray from my favorite tube, every now and then I will test a different brand to see if I can find anything that can top it.  This gem from Eyeko has become another mainstay in my makeup bag. When it comes to a good mascara, its all about the brush. This thick curved wand lifts and coats every one of my eyelashes creating a thick fringe and wide eyed effect. Enriched with conditioning shea butter and keratin, the formula is flexible and doesn’t flake (my biggest pet peeve). Its also easy to wash off – a warm wash cloth and coconut oil does the trick. I like my mascara to give me both length and volume and this nourishing formula delivers on both.

5. Loreal Colour Riche Collection in Liya’s Red

A true lipstick junkie, there is nothing I love better than a classic red lip. Bold yet elegant, a ruby red pout evokes images of old Hollywood sirens and retro glamour. As I wear lipstick everyday, I need a formula that not only lasts, but also hydrates (flaky, red lips are not a good look). This creamy formula keeps my lips smooth and moisturized. While it doesn’t last all day, I only have to reapply a couple of times. Inspired by the stunning triple threat Liya Kebede (this powerhouse beauty wears many hats and works as a model, actress and designer), this rich, crimson hue emulates her elegant, almost regal style and beauty. While its a beautiful shade for evening, I wear it any time that I want to feel a little more glamorous.

xoxo,

Alicia