Monday, 20 April 2015

Essentials for Living Abroad

Finding a cat who will help you pack is essential to the moving process =^..^=
This (unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your opinion) is not a deep or profound post about how to deal with homesickness or culture shock or any of the other various issues that often plague expats or those living abroad. Rather, this is a frivolous and lighthearted post based on my experience(s) of living thousands of miles away from my 'home'.

So, whether you are a university student who is going to be spending a semester overseas or you are taking the plunge into the full-fledged expat life, here are a few small pieces of advice that will hopefully make your transition easier:

Buy an eBook Reader:
Whether you buy a kindle, a nook, or one of the myriad other eBook readers on the market, pick up one of these bad boys before you depart. Even if you aren't a prolific reader. Especially when you are settling into a new place and trying to create a new social circle, you'll most likely spend a fair amount of time on your own. And reading can be an amazing way to fill your time...but if you live somewhere that doesn't have books in your native language, you might be out of luck (and, in my experience, even if they have books in your language, they may be exorbitantly priced). Thanks to the beauty of modern technology, however, you can get around this problem by downloading an eBook literally at the click of a button.

Download What's App and/or Viber; Become best friends with Skype:
What's App and Viber are both free apps that will let you text your friends and family, no matter where you--or they--are located, as long as you have access to 3G or wifi. Being able to text with my friends throughout the day helps mitigate the FOMO that I often feel, especially when I know they are all able to see each other on a weekly--if not daily--basis. By now, most everyone is familiar with Skype but in case you aren't, it is also free and will let you message/call/video chat with anyone who also has a skype account. If your internet is shaky (which mine often is) this can sometimes be frustrated, but it's worth it for those moment when the connection is good and I can spend hours catching up with my mum!

Do Your Best to Find Out What You Will or Won't Be Able to Buy in Your New Home:
The beauty of google is that you might be able to find out much of this information with a simple search. But if that doesn't prove fruitful, hop on facebook and join some expat groups that are based in your new locale. Obviously, if you are moving to a developed country (e.g., anywhere in Western Europe, Australia, Canada, etc.) you will most likely be able to find anything you want and more. But if you're heading to the developing world, you might want to check what will be available and pack accordingly. For instance, I never even thought about whether or not I would be able to buy coffee and a French Press where I am now. But I live in a 'coffee culture' where everyone drinks at least 4 macchiatos a day, but always in a café with others. So I struggled to find either of those two items and had to resort to having a friend who was coming to visit me bring them. It's the little things, you know?

Even If You Don't Use Facebook, Join FB for the Groups
Even if you are hugely averse to facebook, in my experience it is one of the best ways to find information about where you've moved to. Whether the groups you join are populated by locals or other expats, they are often an unparalleled source of information, whether it is on the best restaurants to try, what events are taking place at the weekend, or the cheapest way to reach Timbuktu by bus. You don't need to become an awkward facebook oversharer--just join the groups and utilize the info accordingly.

Download a VPN
Now, as a lawyer, I would never recommend you do anything such as download a VPN to stream content that would otherwise be blocked in your given locale.....but if nothing else but a binge-watching session on Netflix will do, a VPN will be your best friend. I'm no expert (although *cough* a friend would recommend using TunnelBear) but a quick google search of reputable/reliable VPNs will get you set.

Buy plug adapters and converters before you leave
"Oh, it's fine. I'll just pick some up when I get there." Famous last words as your laptop and iphone battery are rapidly depleting. Picking up socket adapters (these change the shape of the plug) and/or converters (these change the voltage) before you leave will save you lots of hassle. You'll land knowing that you have ways to plug in your electronic devices and thus retain contact with the outside world. And you won't have to wander through the streets of a new city in search of adapters.

Now, this last one is primarily for those who are moving from a developed country to a developing one: Stop Complaining and Don't Constantly Compare Your New Country to Your Old One
There is little that irks me as much as this. Of course we all get homesick and grumpy when in a new place, especially after the tenth power cut in 3 weeks. But those of us who make an active choice to move to a foreign country need to mainly just suck it up in those moments. Yes, your new home is not exactly the same as where you were born or grew up. But that's probably why you chose to move there. So, my advice is to appreciate the quirks of your new home and to take advantage of what it has to offer. There must be something that appeals to you or you wouldn't be there (food? a great job opportunity? ability to learn a new language or culture? cheap travel? beautiful scenery? etc.) Just remember that and enjoy!

Monday, 13 April 2015

Sephora Beauty Insider Sale

I'm sure by now everyone and their cat has heard about Sephora's Beauty Insider Sale, which started this past Sunday for VIB Rouges. From now until April 21st, those with VIB Rouge status will be able to get 15% off of all purchases, either online or in store. VIBs can access the sale--also at a 15% discount--starting April 16th and ending April 21st. Everyone else with Beauty Insider status (it's free to register, so you can do so at any time in order to access the discount) can get 10% off from April 17th-April 20th.

Even though Sephora will be offering a better discount (20%) later this year, I decided to go a bit hog wild during this sale.  The sale launched at midnight PST, and since I am 9 hours ahead of that, I was able to do a fair amount of online shopping at a decent hour on a Sunday morning! In case you are in need of suggestions for what to pick up in the sale, I have ordered almost everything in the picture above, including:

Row 1 Left to Right

  • Bite Beauty Butter Cream Lipstick in Pecan: I have had such a hard time selecting which colour to choose first from this range. My expectations are high as people seem to love these!
  • Koh Gen Do Pure Cotton: Searching for a replacement for my Shiseido Face Cottons from a cruelty free brand. These are slightly more expensive, but we'll see how they perform.
  • Laura Mercier Paint Wash Liquid Lip Color in Nude Rose: Like the Bite lipstick, I've heard such good things about these Paint Washes and have struggled to settle on just one shade!
  • Clarisonic Deep Pore Replacement Brush Head Twin Pack: Perhaps the most boring purchase--the obligatory refill. 
  • Stila Eyes are the Window Palette in Soul: I need another nude palette like I need a hole in the head, but this one looks so pretty!
Row 2 Left to Right
  • REN AHA Concentrate: I love REN as a brand and have wanted to try this out for ages!
  • Tata Harper Purifying Cleanser: Caroline Hirons sings the praises of this product (and of the entire Tata Harper range). That is all I need to know. 
  • Marc Jacobs Highliner Gel Eye Crayon in Brown(Out): I'm thisclose to using up a deluxe sample of this I got from Sephora. Beautiful colour and stellar lasting power. My new favourite eyeliner.
  • Sunday Riley Good Genes Treatment: I worked through a few deluxe samples of this and have been needing an exfoliating serum to replace Le Jour de Chanel in my daily routine.
  • NARS Satin Lip Pencil in Rikugien: Continuing the trend of being sucked in by Sephora's deluxe samples (well done marketing team!) I loved this colour from the 2015 Birthday Gift. It's just a shame the sample Sephora gave out was so small.
  • Anastasia Brow Wiz in Dark Brown: I've been using the Anastasia Dipbrow Pomade for a while, but I feel like it will be too heavy in the summer. So, I've reverted back to the Brow Wiz, which I used to use + love.
Row 3 Left to Right
  • Laura Mercier Eye Art Artist's Palette: This is a repromote of the 2013 holiday palette. The colours look gorgeous and given its limited edition nature, I'm surprised this hasn't sold out yet!
  • Nude Skincare Omega Cleansing Jelly*: Asterisk to indicate that in full disclosure, I haven't yet purchased this and I'm now on the fence. Gummy raves about it, but since it doesn't seem to be effective in removing heavy duty eyemakeup, I might give it a pass. Still undecided.
  • NARS Narsissist Dual Intensity Eyeshadow Palette*: I've also been going back and forth on this palette. On the one hand, I would probably only use 3 of the shades regularly. But on the other hand, it is limited edition and pretty. Decisions, decisions.
  • Dry Bar Triple Sec 3-in-1: I'm hoping this can fill the void of the Bumble & Bumble Dryspun Finish in my life. I adore the Dryspun Finish, but B&B isn't a cruelty free brand whereas Dry Bar is. So keep your fingers crossed!

And for the love of god, if Sephora ever decides to actually stock the Surratt Beauty Relevée Eyelash Curler, rather than just list it as 'coming soon', I am going to pounce on that so quick Sephora won't know what hit them! It seems that the Surratt items in general have been very popular and have been going out of stock already. Fingers crossed that they restock soon!

I also think I will pick up another couple of things before the end of the sale (like the Victoria Beckham nailpolish duo for Nails Inc) but in the meantime, I of course demand to know what--if anything--you are all picking up during the sale! Let me know in the comments.

I'm sure many of these products will work their way into a review on my blog in the coming weeks and months, so to keep up-to-date follow me on BloglovinInstagram, and Twitter to follow me!

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Spring Beauty Edit

One week ago it was snowing, but I am more than pleased to report that it reached a balmy and beautiful 20° (70°ish Farenheit) yesterday! To celebrate, I spent a few hours in the sunshine and indulged in a bit of gelato. I also dug out these 6 products that are perfect for the spring weather! I don't hugely follow seasonal trends with my makeup, but like most I favour a fresh and dewy look in the spring. And all of these items do just that! So, if you are looking to revamp your look for spring, I suggest digging through your stash to see if you have any of these (or placing an order during Sephora's current Chic Week sale).

NARS Duo Eyeshadow in Alhambra: Described as a 'metallic rose mist/golden champagne' duo, these shadows impart a refined shimmer to the lids (avoiding the chunky glitter that plague some of NARS's other shadows, like Silk Road). The shades work beautifully together for a fresh daytime look. Available at Sephora for $35.

Dior Fluid Stick in 373 Rieuse: When the Dior Fluid Sticks were released last year (or was it in 2013?), everyone seemed to be raving about how wonderful the formula and shades were! Recently I haven't heard many people speaking about them, so the buzz seems to have faded. Nonetheless, the Fluid Sticks offer a great pigmented formula that is easy to wear and comfortable on the lips. Rieuse is my top pick for spring--it is a warm pink with a hint of coral. It's one of the few corals I feel like I can actually pull off, so if you face similar struggles give this one a look. Available at Sephora for $35.

Bourjois CC Cream: I've never been a fan of tinted moisturizers (nor BB/CC/DD creams for that matter) but when the weather is warm and I'm having a good skin day I do look for something with lighter coverage. The Bourjois CC Cream is easy to apply, provides just enough coverage, and is reasonably priced. The shade range is quite limited, but if you have a match, it's a good one! Plus I find that over a primer it lasts all day even on my super oily skin. I ordered mine from ASOS for $18.

Shiseido Luminizing Satin Face Color in PK304 Carnation: I never understand why Shiseido is so constantly overlooked by bloggers and beauty obsessives, alike. I recognize that it's not the most exciting brand on the planet, but products like this one are simply stunning. This blush applies like a dream (and that is coming from a woman who increasingly detests powder blushes). And it truly does impart a luminous finish to the skin without containing any visible glitter/sparkles/shimmer/etc. I'm not sure how the luminosity is achieved (magic, surely) but if you want gorgeous pink cheeks, this is the blush you should look at! Available at Sephora for $30.

Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in 62 Monte Carlo: The Rouge Coco Shine formula isn't everyone's favourite, but I was inspired to pick up this shade after seeing Lily Pebbles wear it in one of her videos. Monte Carlo is a warm watermelon pinky-red and it has become a go-to lipstick that I can throw in my bag and use for touch ups throughout the day when I want a colour that will liven up my complexion, but is still subtle and natural looking. Available at Macy's for $36.

Daniel Sandler Watercolour Blush in Cherub: If I had to choose only 1 product from this list as my absolute favourite, it would hands down be this one. I've raved about it before but I couldn't include a spring makeup list without it! Cherub is probably the most foolproof blush I own (don't let the liquid formula put you off...use one drop and a stippling brush, and you're good to go). It blends in so effortlessly with the skin and lasts all. day. long. You need this in your life. Trust me. Available at FeelUnique for around $20 (and check RetailMeNot for the discount codes that FeelUnique frequently offers).

What products can you not live without in the spring? Let me know below! And head to BloglovinInstagram, and Twitter to follow me!

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Where I've Been + What I've Been Doing

I instagramed this the other day as a clue of where I moved to...
it's the most famous landmark in my current city's been over 7 months since I put up a new blogpost. In my defense, during that 7 months I moved to a new continent, started a new job, and have managed to visit 7 different countries. I've always viewed my blog as a creative outlet (and an excuse to buy things) and I had good intentions of continuing to post regularly in my new home. But as I live in a developing country where it is difficult--if not impossible--to get ahold of cosmetics, skincare, or even fashion and accessories. Plus, I needed a break from my own consumerism.

One of many ski trips I've taken this year
Thus, I put blogging on hold and focused on using up the products that I brought with me, rather than always feeling the need to buy the latest release. It was much easier than I had anticipated, aided by the fact that I largely avoided reading blogs and watching youtube videos. I used up a lot of products, discovered things I couldn't live without, and focused on other areas of my life. The past few months have also really reinforced a fact that I've always known to be true, but had a hard time committing to: spending your time and money on experiences, rather than things, will make you much happier. In recent months I've been skiing more times than I would care to admit, I've been hiking in some beautiful locations, I've gotten lost while hiking (although, according to my dude "we weren't lost--I always knew where north was"), I've been training for a half marathon, I've adopted another kitten, and I've met some amazing people that are not only fun to dine and drink with, but are intelligent, witty, supportive, and fun.

My most recent kitten addition (he is no longer this tiny, unfortunately):
Special Agent Rabbie Marmalade Scrufflebum, aka Little Bear
But with all of that said, I am a materialistic makeup and beauty lover at heart. And I have missed the process of writing my insignificant and trivial blogposts, which are a delightful alternative to the serious and frustrating professional work I engage with on a daily basis. So, with many spring sales looming, I've placed some beauty, clothing, and accessories orders--and I'm eagerly plotting my cart for the upcoming Sephora Chic Week sale. But the eternal question looms: "If you buy something, but don't blog/tweet/instagram about it, did you really buy it?"
Some (but embarrassingly not all) of my planned haulage during the upcoming Sephora sale
Thus, I'm also gearing up to get back into the swing of blogging. But since I am still trying to be less materialistic/consumer-y and focus more on living and enjoying life, I plan on broadening the scope of this here little blog. Perhaps I'll talk more about the travelling that I'm doing, or other lifestyle things. Who knows?! But whatever I end up doing, I hope it's more consistent and that it remains interesting/enjoyable.

So, for those who have read my blog in the past: hello again! And for those who may be stumbling over here for the first time: welcome! And head over to BloglovinInstagram, and Twitter to follow me!