Better believe it’s butter!

I ran out of margarine, and basically kept an empty Becel container in the fridge.  In my head I could probably scrape a teaspoon out of the smears left in the container.  I kept forgetting to buy more every time I went to the grocery store.

I had a 454g/2 Cup brick of butter in the fridge.  I always have some on hand for baking.  Lets face it, nothing tastes like real butter.  It seems like a cruel joke that everything that tastes great, was full of fat, therefore bad for us.  Fat-free versions were dry and tasteless.  Now the internet is full of articles claiming the opposite idea of what most of us grew up with:  Margarine is now bad, and butter is better!  This just seems to make sense … the more natural and less processed something is, the easier it is for your body to process.  There were lessons learned with the “anal leakage” side effects of the synthetic fat, Olestra.

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This brings me to the latest post.  I have butter, but it doesn’t spread like margarine.  Trying to spread cold butter on toast, is like trying to spackle drywall compound on a wet, sponge.  So I did some googling and it appears everyone is looking for a similar food hack.  I found this site to be the most useful, but decided to modify it to require less elbow grease.  I chose Avocado oil because I find it has no taste or flavour as Olive oil.  It also happens to have a higher smoking point so I prefer using it for cooking, especially with my cast iron skillet.  You can buy it at Costco so you get a 1L bottle for about $10.50.

IMG_5609Instead of mashing the butter with a fork, I left it to sit on the counter to warm/soften up a bit.  I added 2/3 cup of avocado oil, 1 cup of butter cut into cubes into the 16 ounce Ninja Master Prep Pro container  I pulsed it and blended it till it looked like it liquefied.  I found it looked a little too runny with too much oil.  I blended another 1/4 cup of butter and found that it had that creamy texture I was looking for. IMG_5611 I mixed the rest of the brick of butter, with less than 2/3 cup of oil.  I scraped the butter out of the Ninja with a rubber spatula and spread it out in the old Becel container.  I popped it in the fridge to set and couldn’t wait to see if it would spread like margarine!

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Is this “healthier” than margarine?  I think in moderation, it’s about as healthy as all natural ice cream vs frozen yogurt.  Over time it’s a little better for you because it’s more natural and I know the ingredients I used in my blend.  Like everything, if you eat a tub, you will become a tub.

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Love leather, don’t want to BE leather

I LOOOVE leather accessories – handbags, shoes, jackets etc.  I’ve never understood sun worshipers who think they look better with tanned, leathery skin.  Perhaps back in the 80s but it’s 2014 people!  Haven’t people heard of skin cancer?  I was reading an article in this weekend’s paper “Full Exposure to Sunscreen“.  I can’t believe 1,050 Canadians are expected to DIE from melanoma THIS YEAR.

Lately I have been receiving a lot of compliments on my skin.  The RMT yesterday complimented me on having great skin – as he choked it with a gallon of oil.  In the past few months I’ve been asked for my I.D. when I asked to buy a lottery ticket.  They told me they couldn’t sell a lottery ticket to someone under 18 years old.  When they looked at my driver’s license and did the math they were shocked that I’m 37!  It gets a little embarrassing when you hold up a grocery store line, and then people are talking about your looks like you’re not even there.

Everyone keeps asking me what my secret is besides being Asian.  I really don’t think my heritage has much to do with it.  There are a lot of hard looking Asians out there.  It seems as if once they hit 60 – BAM!  Wrinkles come out and they all shrink by a foot.  Perhaps that’s just me.  But even Asians find it remarkable that I look at least 10 years younger than I actually am.  So there!  I would say the biggest contributing factor to my ageless skin is …. are you ready?  SUNSCREEN!  Didn’t see that coming right?  Anyway… Back in the 90s I recall tanning and tanning beds were huge.  Everyone wanted to be brown.  Especially around graduations, or some other event.  People thought it made them look better and they were going to do it at any cost.  I admit, I was one of them.  Only I was much cheaper about it.  Instead of paying hundreds of dollars to lie in a blue capsule, I would climb up on the flat roof of our house, coat myself in baby oil and spread out whenever the sun came out.  I was darker than anyone else at grad.  You couldn’t tell that I was wearing makeup I was so bloody dark.  Perhaps I’ll scan in a picture if I dare to unearth such horror.  Around that time I remember mom telling me about articles about how a young girl wanted to speed up the tanning process.  She didn’t heed the advice of tanning salons to go the maximum number of sessions per week.  She went to multiple salons and doing the maximum per salon, per week.  She was later diagnosed with advanced skin cancer with months to live.  She basically microwaved herself and internal organs.  No one can scare the hell out of you like mom does.

Once graduation was done, I was done with the sun.  I became obsessed with sunscreen.  Turns out sunscreen was not so big on me.  Vaseline lip therapy was one of my first skin irritants.  I thought it was benign, and assumed it was the deadly sun that created the blisters and itchy skin around my mouth.  I would apply more on for “protection”.  It took a while but I smartened up.  I would go into the drug store, try a dab of different sunscreens, and if I didn’t breakout, I would buy it.  You can thank me for why they put safety seals on now.  It turned out the only one I could tolerate was Oil of Olay with SPF 15 because it didn’t contain Oxy Benzone.  Even Coppertone for babies wasn’t baby enough for my skin.  Oil of Olay wasn’t cheap, but hey, it was the only armour I had against cooking myself like a slow rotisserie. So since the age of 18, I never left the house without applying it on my face at the very least. So, the brands that I pick up whenever I see them on sale are:

  • Oil of Olay – Walmart usually has good prices
  • Green Beaver – Health food stores.  Stock up on 20% off customer appreciation day at Kardish.
  • La Roche-Posay Ultra Fluid Lotion for the face is a great sunscreen and primer.  Not cheap, but you are paying for their research.  Wait till it goes on sale at the drug store.
  • La Roche-Posay Anthelios lotion is a little thicker and meant for spreading along the body.
  • Dr. Jart Premium BB cream for those looking for a one step process for SPF protection, a primer and coverage.  You can get this at Sephora when they have their 15-20% off days.  I had to get this when I was in the U.S.  I don’t think they stock any Dr. Jart products in Canada.  They’ll certainly ship it to you.

That’s it!  My secrets have been revealed!  Now cover yourselves and drink plenty of water.  You can stop the damage and time!  What’s good for you, is also good enough for your kids.  If you read the ingredients, it’s different packaging.  If I can use it without breaking out in rashes and blisters, your kids will be more than fine.

Hello Eyebrows!

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People have asked me where I go to get my “eyebrows done”.  I’m like,

“Huh?  My house, where else would I go?”

“What salon do you go to, to shape and wax your eyebrows?”

“I do them myself.  Why would I go out of my way to have someone pour hot wax on my face, then peel skin and hair off of it?”

Women flock to salons to pay for what might be defined as torture in the Geneva convention if it were conducted on men, while prisoners of war.  I would make a horrible advocate for aesthetics because I think it’s faster (include travel/wait time), and cheaper to perform these services myself.  The other benefit would be for you to get to understand your own face, and know what YOU like.  How are women supposed to feel confident about themselves if they rely on othle to make them “beautiful”.  If you can’t accept your own eyebrows, how can you accept the rest of yourself? I struggled with self-confidence for years.  I am my own worst critic when it comes to everything I do.  Part of my self discovery began with looking in the mirror and not liking what I saw.  I never liked my eyebrows.  When I was a teenager, I thought my eyebrows were too bushy.  When I was bored, I would sometimes pinch and pull out a batch of eyebrow hairs with my fingers.  I would pluck every visible hair from my eyelid with tweezers.  Fast forward 20 years and now I feel like my eyebrows are too thin and sparse.  Go figure.  It turns out I should have paid more attention to “shaping” my eyebrows.  If I had my time back, I would have trimmed my brows first, and tweezed second.  I found a great video about shaping your eyebrows by Katie, a makeup artist who I have grown to love.

As usual, I take advise and think of easier ways (for me) to accomplish the task since I do not have the steady hand or practice of a makeup artist.  As a beginner I prefer step-by-step instructions with pictures.  So this blog is more for my own personal preference than anyone else’s.  Things you’ll need:

  • Tape (the not so sticky kind that will pull your skin off
  • Eyeliner/brow pencil for drawing the stencil.
  • Eyelash/eyebrow comb.  I use Tweezerman’s eyelash comb.
  • Tweezers.  I prefer angled tweezers.  Whatever works.
  • If you don’t have all day to tweeze, use an eyebrow razor.
  • Cuticle scissors

IMG_0479   IMG_0481     Cuticle scissors have a curved tip so you can avoid accidentally stabbing and piercing your skin.  I happened to have one in a manicure set, but I never used it for it’s intended purpose.  You can get facial hair scissors if you don’t have cuticle scissors handy.

Step 1: Mark points for the start, arch and end of your brows with the tape as your guide from your nose.  Follow the corner of your nose, the inside corner of your eye, and draw a line with the pencil.  For the arch, trace the tape from the corner of your nose, to the outside of your pupil.  Your eyebrows should end from the corner of your nose, to the outside corner of your eye.  This may already be the case naturally.

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Step 2:  Connect the marks to create a stencil that is natural for YOUR face. IMG_0464IMG_0465 IMG_0467IMG_0466

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What you’re left with is this sexy looking template that will guide you through the hair removing process.  Don’t worry, you’ll only look like Frieda Kahlo temporarily.  I would advise doing this in private at first.  I use a Q-tip to clean up any smudges.

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They do make eyebrow stencils, but they’re more for applying powder.  I don’t see how applying a different glamorous or classy stencil depending on your mood would look good. If you have hair growing beyond the stencil, and what you have drawn in, wouldn’t that make you look like a clown?  We all have different shaped noses, eyes and faces.  By following Katie’s instructions, you will create eyebrows that suit YOUR stencil for YOUR face.

Step 3: Always trim before you pluck!  Take it from me, a real mother-plucker, if I could give my younger self some advise, it would be to put the tweezers down and watch Katie’s video!  With the eyelash comb, I push what’s left of my sparse eyebrows DOWN.  The hairs that fall below my stencil line, I trim to the line.

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Step 4: Now you can pluck outside of the lines.  I usually tweeze the rogue hairs above my eyelids, and in between my brows.  The baby hairs on the top of my brow I use the razor, and in between the brows for good measure.

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Step 5: Wash off your stencil and comb your hairs to the sides.  Marvel at your handy work.  If you have some pesky hairs that won’t stay put due to their new trim, try an eyebrow gel, or clear mascara.  I picked up Sonia Kashuk’s Brow Gel from Target when I was in the U.S. because it wasn’t expensive, and I also happened to have a coupon so it was a deal I couldn’t pass up.  When Target comes to Canada I have a feeling we won’t benefit from these coupons.  Sonia Kashuk‘s line of cosmetics and brushes are exclusive to Target, so I hope her stuff, along with E.L.F. products are part of the northern migration deal.

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Now, if you have been tweezer happy like, me and have sparse eyebrows you definitely need to fill them in.  In the hot sweaty and humid days I use Anastasia’s brow pen in Universal Light for blonde to light brown hair.  You’d think I would go for the Universal Dark for dark brown to black hair, BUT because my eyebrows are so thin and sparse I would have to go lighter to avoid looking like a freaky Frieda.  (Frieda was an artist so it was OK for her to have bold features.)  Sephora has testers giving you the luxury of trying before buying.

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In the drier months I use Anastasia’s brow powder duo in Ebony.  Knowing what I know now, you may as well save a few bucks and use a matte eye shadow that’s a few shades lighter than your natural hair colour.  What I paid for was the pretty, compact.  The mirror is barely big enough for your full eye.  This duo does allow me to customize the shade I need as my tan starts to fade from fall to winter.  I apply this powder after I moisturize my face so that the powder has a base to stick to.  I use the lighter shade at the beginning of my brow, and use the darker one to define the thinner line.  (Picture coming soon …)

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I have had this powder duo for about 2 years now and I have just begun to put a dent in it.  I do spritz it with some Beauty So Clean (cosmetic mist) to keep it clean-“er”.

The reason why I don’t have your typical plastic eyelash comb/eyebrow brush combo is because I ALWAYS manage to break the stupid tines off the eyelash comb.  It looks as dumb as someone who’s missing front teeth.  It looks so out of place with my other pretty brushes – I hate it.  When I found the folding, Tweezerman one with metal tines at Sally’s I HAD to have it.  I always had to keep the brush though cause I found that the stiff bristles helped to smudge and blend the powder in.  On a U.S. trip to the Premium Oulet Mall, I stopped into the Cosmetics Company Store.  It’s a store that I had passed by so many times because I never wore makeup.  I didn’t know how.  This time I went in with a purpose … for the perfect eyebrow brush.  The brow brush that I got from Sephora eyebrow brush was alright for applying the powder, but the bristles were too soft for my liking.  The cashier at the CCS asked me if I was looking for anything in particular.  She recommended Estée Lauder’s 12E Brow brush.

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She said she’s had it for a while, and the brushes are so stiff, it’ll last forever.  In my head I’m thinking, “Sure, tell me something I haven’t heard.  I’ll be the judge.”  I can’t remember exactly what I paid for it, but it was definitely under $20.  When she brought me towards the Estée Lauder section I thought she was gonna take me for a ride.  That was over a year ago and I admit that it IS my perfect brush and I have no intention of ever replacing.  It has firm bristles like an eyebrow brush so it does double duty as a power applicator, as well as combs the hair as I go.

Update:  I have tried brushing on some Castor Oil on my brows to try and increase hair production.  Crazy as it sounds, it actually works.  My brows have been filling in nicely, but I’m starting to look like Frieda so I’ll have to take some pics as evidence before I take my own grooming advice.

Note:  I am NOT being sponsored by any of the companies mentioned in this entire blog.  The products listed on this page were paid for by myself personally.  It is why I am a valued Sally’s Beauty Club and Sephora VIB member.

Washing my mouth out

Growing up, my mom always threatened to wash my mouth out with soap.  I personally don’t think I was ever a bad kid but I’m a little biased.  Being young and curious, I didn’t understand what the fuss was in this empty threat.  After watching the importance of brushing your teeth on Sesame street, I decided to kill two birds with one stone.  I went to the bathroom, rubbed my toothbrush on a bar of Ivory soap … yes, I washed my own mouth out with soap.  I taught myself a valuable lesson.  If you’re gonna wash your mouth out, it should be with something refreshing.

Fast forward 30 years … I have been using Listerine Zero and pretty content with it.  I was running out and wanted to pick up another vat from Costco.  Costco being Costco, stopped stocking items I like.  I checked out natural alternatives.  Tom’s of Maine makes good products but their mouthwash is $10 for a little bottle!  What the hell Tom?

I looked up mouthwash in my Reader’s Digest Homemade book for a recipe.  I wasn’t completely sold on what was in there.  Why would I use peroxide in my mouth?  Is it safe if some of it went down my throat?  Why would I use vodka for an antiseptic mouthwash?  What a waste of vodka or some other good alcohol!

There are a wide range of online recipes.  I decided to mix a combo of RD Homemade and online:

  • 1 cup/250mL of Distilled waterIMG_0149
  • 4 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of vegetable glycerin
  • 5 drops of tea tree oil
  • 5 drops of peppermint oil

I poured all these ingredients that I already have on hand into an empty Listerine bottle.  It’s a 250mL bottle that fits perfectly in my medicine cabinet so why not reuse?  Put the cap on and shake it up.

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Voila!  What I call Zero Listerine!  Again, it’s super salty on the taste buds but who cares?  You’re not swallowing it.  Take it from me, it’s a hell of a lot better than Ivory!  When you swish it around and spit it out, it leaves your mouth feeling quite refreshed.  Depending on where you find your ingredients, this won’t even cost you $0.50!  I can certainly get use to salty swishing for that price.

 

INGREDIENTUNIT COSTCOST/AMOUNT USED
4L Distilled Water$1.25$0.08
Baking Soda$1.00$0.04
Vegatable Glycerin$10.99$0.12
Tea Tree Oil$8.24$0.05
Peppermint Oil$8.00$0.05
TOTAL$0.34

New Year, Same Resolution

Back from Christmas break and two weeks of over indulging.  My clothes have been getting noticeably tighter and more uncomfortable.  Since I tend to hang my clothes dry I can’t blame my clothes for shrinking.  This leaves the only conclusion – I’m getting FAT!

Every year we all promise ourselves we are going to lose weight, eat better, and work out.  All too often people make promises to themselves, get overwhelmed and dive into a pie.  It’s ok to fall off the wagon and into a pie during the course of a year.  Don’t feel completely defeated.  Pick yourself up, wipe your face and try again.  Your resolution should be to Keep Trying.  Don’t quit trying!

Studies show that  if you wear a pedometer, you tend to walk a little more, take the stairs and at the end of the day, you’ve lost extra calories!  I highly recommend the Sportline Traq Pedometer from Running Room.  Unlike other pedometers I’ve had, this one is digital!  It doesn’t depend on you clipping it on your waist and specific orientation.  It can detect your motion even if it’s in your pocket or purse!  Of course you do have to measure your stride length, age, weight and the rest is automagic!  What surprised me after the first use was that it keeps track of the total time you move.  It’s disturbing to know that after an 8 hour day of working in an office, I walked only 1 hour total!  These are stats that motivate me to get off my butt more.  If you purchase this online, you can use ”JANFEB2013” to save 20% off your whole purchase until the end of February.  So if you don’t have the proper footwear, and apparel for running, add it all to the cart now!

I would also recommend getting a calorie counter app like MyFitnessPal.  It’s free, and has a huge database of foods.  If it isn’t listed in there, you can use the camera to scan the barcode and it automagically creates the entry with all the dirty details!  You can also put in recipes and have it break down the calorie count for a serving portion.   I’m a huge fan!  The one thing I don’t like is, no matter if you’re a man, woman, tall, short, young, old, the default calories it sets per day is 1200.  This can be dangerously low depending on the variables I mentioned.  I’d recommend speaking with your doctor before starting any program.  Since my doctor tells me I’m pretty darn healthy I tend to figure out how many calories I need from online calculators.  Based on this calculator, I change the 1200 calories to the number listed for ”If you reduce your current caloric intake to insert number here calories per day you will lose one pound per week without exercise.”

So far I’ve lost 1 pound.  Losing 1-2 pounds a weeks is a pretty healthy pace.  If I lose a more significant amount of weight, I’ll go back to the calculator and see how many calories I need and adjust accordingly.