Zoya Aria Review - Oldie but Goodie

When I was buying the color lock system at my local Trade Secrets, I fished out a bottle of Zoya Aria out of the back of the display.  It was looking rather sad, with a layer of dust on it.  But the color and shimmer had potential, so I bought it.  It's a purply pink, with a foil-like glitter in it.  It's glittery and bright and fun, but yet different from the glitter bombs that are so popular these days.  Call me boring, but I don't want my nails look like I glued crystals all over them, or like I bedazzled them.  This is a much more understated glitter.

It applied really smoothly.  Two coats gave me good non-streaky opaque coverage.

This is the 4th day of this manicure, and there is absolutely no tip wear or chipping.  Hail to the color lock system!
You can see that the shimmer is clear with just a bit of a pinky/purply tone in the right light - like foil.  Here is a closeup of the shimmer.
So if you're digging through some oldie but goodie Zoya polishes in the corner of your beauty supply, and you run across a dusty bottle of Zoya Aria, get it.  It's a really nice color.  Totally underrated.


Random From A to Z - Armani to Zoya

I got an awesome call yesterday - from the Chanel counter.  I was there about 2 weeks ago, and happened to ask the girl about Particuliere nail polish.  She told me that they've been sold out for ages and people have even been stealing their testers, so she couldn't even show me what it looked like.  The counter did have a waiting list for it, because apparently they still get some shipped to them once in a while.  So she put me on the waiting list and I waited...and waited...and waited...and then got the call!!  Woo hoo!!!

I love the color!  It's about the color of dirt - but in a good way.  I'm super excited!  I will be swatching this one as soon as I put it on my nails.  Right now I'm sporting a sparkly Zoya color.  More on that tomorrow.

Of course the Chanel counter just happened to be next to the Armani counter, so I HAD to play with the new Armani Blushing Fabric.  It's a blush in a tube.  I tested the hot pink one (shimmering apricot pink) on my hand, and I wasn't impressed.  It was a silicone-y feeling gel - the pigmentation was allright, but nothing great.  The color was actually really nice and I can see it being very glowy, without making you look like a clown, when applied to the cheek.  BUT this thing had GLITTER in it.  Not shimmer like Benefit Moon Beam, but chunkier glitter.  That's lovely for a day at the beach, but forget wearing this one to the office.  I always associated Armani with classy and timeless, and the glitter found in this does not qualify.  This was definitely a FAIL.
I have been test driving the Zoya color lock system since I told you about it last week, and I'm not just impressed by this product, I'm THRILLED!  My manicure lasted a whole week - 7 full days!  For test purposes,  did not reapply top coat a couple of days into the manicure, which I think would have made it last longer. I could have left it on my nails longer as well, but once I see any chipping, I start picking on my polish.  But 7 full days of playing with dogs, cooking, baking, cleaning, typing, etc -that's amazing!

Here are the pictures.  The polish I had on was Zoya Maya, a summery bright color.

This is what my polish looked like after 6 days.  Please excuse the cuticles - they're in desperate need of manicure attention at this point.  Though you can see some tip wear, there is absolutely no chipping.  Sweet!  The index finger has a strange reflection on the tip that's making it look like a chip, but there is no chip there, just some minimal tip wear.  This is a more accurate picture of the color than the one below.

Here is a picture of the polish just before I took it off. This is day 7.  First, you can see the bed sheet marks on my ring finger - this is the slow drying time I was talking about in my last post.  Also you can really see the tip wear on the middle finger and the ring finger. There is some chipping at the tip of the middle finger (top of the picture). 

Now, in all fairness to Zoya, this finger is always the problem child - a heavy door slammed on it when I was younger, and now it has a ridge on the side with the chip.  That area is more flexible weaker, and my polish always chips there (usually after 1-2 days).

Again, pardon the 'pre manicure' cuticles. 

I'm really excited about the Zoya color lock system.  It was not cheap, but if my manicures are to last at least a week, then it was well worth the price.  I'm on my second manicure with 'the system' and so far so good!  I'll take pics of this one tomorrow, when the light is better.

I'm also looking for some more summery colors of polish.  I have been wearing a lot of dark colors on my nails all Fall and Winter.  Now it's time for a bit of a fresher change.  What are your favorite summer shades?


What We Did This Weekend

I challenged you all to get outside with your furry ones, or just to go outside. Here's what we did.

We spent most of Saturday in the forest.  It was a lovely sunny day, and we had a great time chasing squirrels.

On Sunday morning I went to the book store.  I scored a bunch of beach read potentials on mega sale.  I can't wait to read them and will be reviewing them just in time for flip flop season.

And I discovered Modern Dog magazine!!!

Then I scored some new goodies at the drug store.  I will test drive these and let you know what I think in separate reviews, so stay tuned.

And also got the NYX Catwalk palette in Champagne and Caviar.  Love.

We spent Sunday afternoon at the dog park with the creek.  The water is pretty low right now, and it was a bit chilly and overcast.

So instead of swimming and playing in the water, we ran around on the grass and wrestled.

Good times!

What did you do this weekend?


My First Blog Award!!!

I had a good but busy weekend.  I spent some time shopping, reading, watching movies, and of course, playing outside with the puppies.  I will share a bunch of photos and details with you tomorrow.

I also received my first ever blog award from Sara at C'est la Vie. I love her and her blog, so check her out, become a follower, and give her some comment love!

The Rules

1. Thank the person who nominated me
2. Copy the award and place it on my blog
3. Link to the person who nominated me
4. Nominate 10 bloggers
5. Post links to the 10 blogs I nominate

Sara - you are the sweetest.  I love your blog, and swapping comments with you!  I can't wait to hear about all of your travel adventures!  Thank you!

I pass this award to the following lovely peeps.  I love your blogs, and read them regularly.  So keep on keepin' on!

Chef Snowhite at Finding Joy in My Kitchen
Jennifer at Crazy Shenanigans
Kelly at Pinksealight
Lauren at Life with a Lab
Lollipop at Lollipop Loves...
Trcia at Endurance Isn't Only Physical

Check these blogs out - they're awesome.  You won't be disappointed!


Get Outside with your Furry Friends

It's spring out there.  The weather is perfect for being outdoors.  I love taking my dogs to the forest or to the dog park.  It's such a nice time to relax and focus my energy on them.  They love it and I love watching them play and frolic outside.  Nothing de-stresses and relaxes me more. We go everyday, rain or shine. Our time outside keeps me sane.  It keeps my girls sane too.

Sadly, not all the dogs we know get daily walks or excercise. 

So Amelia, Kitty and I challenge you to get out with your dog this weekend. 

And if you don't have a dog, that's ok.  Take your friend's dog.  Or take your kids or your significant other (we hear they need regular excercise too).

Take them to the dog park...

Or on a stroll in the city...

Or let them frolic on a beach and catch some waves...
(Aren't my girls AH-DORABLE???)

Or take them with you on your next run...

Or on a play date in the park...

And while you're out there, leave everything else behind.  No cell phones, no computers, no planning work meetings or house cleaning schedules.  This is YOUR time.  Take the time to enjoy it.  Live in the moment like your dogs do.

And remember...

We hear the above applies to kids and husbands too!

Also, Millie, Kitty and I would love to hear what you did!  We might get some good ideas, and we LUUUVE new adventures!


Shoe of the Moment - Mario Batali Crocs

I know...Crocs are UGLY.  It's true.  I admit it.  But they're also comfy, and waterproof, and washable.  That makes them practical. And if you're going to wear ugly shoes, you may as well get them in the CRAZIEST color you can get your hands on.  I heart orange crocs - especially this Bistro style by Mario Batali.

I got these for walking the dogs as I got sick of trashin my shoes in mud, or wet grass, or creeks, or anything else we encounter at the dog park.  I especially love these when I'm walking the girls at the dog park near the creek.  These have traction on the bottom - intended to be non-slip in the kitchen.  This sole helps on the slick rocks when we're playing near the water.  Also, the soles are higher in the back than my other crocs, which is great in mud and wet grass.  And the best part - these are perfectly washable - I just throw them in our washing machine.

What shoes do you wear when you don't want to trash your good shoes?


My Quest for Long Lasting Nail Polish - Zoya

I have been using Nailtek Foundation Xtra as a base coat and Seche Vite fast drying top coat.  This combo worked really well for me for months, and now all of a sudden it's peeling like crazy.  I think the primary reason for the peeling is that my Nailtek Foundation is old and got all thick and yucky, so I added some of the Nailtek Exted thinner drops.  I have had to do that a couple of times now, and I think that affected the properties of the base coat.  However, I'm having a hard time finding a replacement, as I have yet to find a Nailtek retailer in Canada.  So I went to the Trade Secrets near me to look for something that would make my nail polish last.  I left there $50+ poorer, and with a handful of products from Zoya.

I tried the Zoya color lock system last night.  I can see why people like these products, but they are not without faults. First I cleanded, filed and buffed my nails.  I then used a cuticle softener/remover to get rid of any dry cuticles.  Then I washed my hands thoroughly with soap and water, dried them, and went over them with polish remover to get them ready for the base coat.  The base coat is also a nair strengthener, which is great.  It went on smooth.  No problems there.  Then came the color, followed by the top coat.  The top coat bubbled a little, but nothing major (I read somewhere that some people had problems with bubbling).  I then waited a few minutes and applied the drying drops.  These have a strage feel to them, and the application is not precise so I got them all over my fingers.  Kind of sucky because it's not like I could wash my hands while my polish was wet.  So I wiped my fingers a bit, and then I waited.

And I waited....

And waited...

I'm used to Seche Vite, so I felt like I was waiting FOREVER for my nail polish to dry.  It didn't stay wet exactly, but it was somewhat tacky and 'not quite dry' feeling.  After about 2 and 1/2 hours I was pretty confident that my polish was dry.  I went to bed, and to my great annoyance, I woke up this morning with crease marks on EVERY SINGLE NAIL!  Ugh!

I am impressed with how thin my polish is on my nails - with my previous system, the polish layers were much thicker.  I also liked the way the Zoya polish applied to the base.  There is no chipping or peeling so far, which is great.  If it wasn't for the superlong drying time and those damn crease marks, I would be one happy woman today!  I will keep test driving the Zoya Color Lock System, and I'll let you all know how it works out. 

I do have to say that Zoya makes some of my favorite colors of nail polish.  I am currently wearing Maya.  I didn't have time to swatch this one for you yet, but here is a pic from the Zoya website for now.
What products do you use to make your polish last?


Recipe: Italian Wedding Soup

I made Italian Wedding Soup today.  I've never made it before.  I can't believe how much better this soup is when it is homemade!

It's pretty easy to do as well.  The most consuming part is making all those bite sized meatballs.  But those meatballs are also the best part of this recipe - they were melt in your mouth deliciousness!

I morphed several recipes and this is what I came up with:

1/4 lb pork stew meat - ground
1/4 lb beef stew meat - ground
1/4 lb veal stew meat - ground
1 slice whole wheat bread
1/2 C parmesan cheese - finely grated
4T  whole milk
4T bread crumbs (I used panko because that's all I had)
2 eggs
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3T basil, dry
2t oregano, dry
2t marjoram, dry
salt and pepper

Grind the stew meat.  At the end, add the bread slice to the grinder to push out the remainder of the meat out of the machine.  Add all other ingredients to the meat.  Mix well.  Roll into bite sized meat balls.

Here are the meatballs all lined up and ready for the pot.

8C chicken broth
1 bay leaf
2T basil, dry
meatballs from recipe above
100g acini de pepe pasta
6C spinach, rough chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Bring chicken broth (homemade is best) to a boil with bay leaf and basil.  Add raw meatballs to boiling water.  Bring to a boil and allow to cook until meatballs float (approx 3 minutes).  Add pasta, stir and boil until pasta is tender (approx 10 min). Add spinach and bring to a boil.  Season and serve.  Top individual bowls with shaved parmesan.

Buon appetito!


Makeup - Detective Kate Beckett - Castle

I love Castle.  And I especially love the makeup worn by the lead character, Detective Kate Beckett, played by Stana Katic.  According to the lead makeup artist, Debbie Zoller (who also worked on Mad Men), it's important that Katic looks like a New York cop.  The look has to be classy, simple, and effortless.  Mission accomplished!

According to Zoller, it's all about great skin, with help from both skin care and makeup.  Apparently they use a lot of La Mer products on set.  Yeah.  Right.  Clearly their skin care budget is much bigger than mine.  And who says that more expensive is necessarily better anyway?  As for Beckett's perfect neutral/tawny lip (see 2nd picture) - Zoller first applies Laura Mercier HydraTint SPF 15 lip balm in Bronze Tint ($20), and then tops it with Bobbi Brown Creamy Lip Color in ''Honeysuckle'' ($22).  I'll definitely be copying the lips.  Definitely.

Whose makeup do you admire?  And PLEASE don't say Kim Kardashian - her makeup is copied more than Jennifer Anniston's hair on Friends - both over-rated in my opinion.


At the Movies - Clash of the Titans

Went to the movies last night.  We went to see Clash of the Titans partly because the movie we went to see was sold out, and partly because my brother in law gave it such a rave review.   And he was right, this was a great action adventure flick. 

In the movie, the gods on Olympus need the energy from worship by humans.  So a major conflict arises when people stop worshipping the gods and assert their independence.  Hades takes the opportunity to try to overthrow Zeus by declaring war on the people.  It is up to Perseus, a demi-god, to lead a quest into foreign worlds to stop Hades from taking over and destroying humanity.

This movie was packed with action scenes, and a story that kept me engaged throughtout.  Not to mention the delicious eye candy!  I definitely recommend seeing this one on the big screen.  Two thumbs up for Clash of the Titans - a good choice for a date. 


Friday Show 'N Tell

Ok peeps, bring and brag time again!  Show us what you've been blogging about this week. 

I will be doing these once a week, so that we can all share our ideas and our blogs with eachother.  I LOVE checking out everyone's blogs!

So post a link to a single post (feel free to add more than one link) from your blog that you posted within the last 7 days, and then check out what everyone else has been up to - and don't forget to share some comment love!  Also, add the Friday Show 'N Tell Button (grab it from the sidebar) to the post you featued so that others can join the fun!  I put in a couple of my posts to get us started.


Biotin Supplements for Healthier Hair and Nails

My nails have been terrible lately.  In addition,my skin has been more sensitive than usual.  As such, I have decided to try Biotin supplementation.  Biotin is a B vitamin that is involved in the metabolism of sugars, fats, and proteins.  It is also recommended for improving the overall health of skin, hair, and nails.  In order to be effective at improving hair, skin and nails, a large dose of biotin is required.  So I am taking 5,000mcg/day.

I will keep you updated on how well/or not well this is working.

Has anyone tried taking Biotin for hair and nail health? How long did you take it before you saw any improvements? What dose did you take?


Staying Hydrated this Summer

Water makes up a large part of our body mass and is required for proper function.  But how much  water do we need to drink every day?  According to the Mayo Clinic, there are three basic approaches to estimating our daily needs.  If we calculate our water needs based on the amount of fluid we lose every day, in which case we should take in about 2L of water daily.  According to dietary recommendations, women should take in about 2.2L, and men should be drinking 3L daily.  The most popular approach, and one with the least scientific evidence, is to drink 8X8oz of fluid (about 1.9L).   Which ever approach you prefer, it is important to compensate for environmental conditions and activity level.  And the best test, is to just look at your pee - it should be clear or very pale yellow.  Incidentally, some olympic athletes are given a color strip to indicate their level of hydration by the color of their pee.

Does that mean that you need to carry water with you wherever you go?  Not necessarily.  Take water with you if you are spending extended periods of time in a hot or dry environment.  Also, bring water if you are going to be active (this includes everything from hiking to shopping).  When you are working out, especially for prolonged periods of time (such as hiking or biking), then take in small amounts of water regularly to keep your water output (sweating, etc) equal intake, and your hydration level steady. 

I like to spend time outside in the summer, so I have many different bottles and hydration systems. 

My favorite water bottle to take to the office or to the park is the Klean Kanteen.  I prefer the stainless steel to aluminum because aluminum leeches into the water and is toxic at high enough levels.  Though aluminum bottles (such as Sigg) are coated on the inside, the coating can be scratched or worn down.  
I also like Nalgene containers.  If I am dehydrated and want to keep a better eye on my water intake, then the gradient on the side of the Nalgene water bottle is very helpful.  Further, the big Nalgene water bottle holds a full 1L.  I like the wide mouth bottles because they fit onto most water purifiers, so I can take them camping.  It's also easier to add ice into a wide mouth bottle, and they're much easier to clean.  The wide mouth bottles are a little harder to drink from.  I usually just leave a bendy straw in the bottle and use it when I'm drinking. 
I also really like the Camelbak water bottle, which to me is like an adult sippy cup - it's impossibe to spill water all over yourself and your desk.  So if you're a clutz like me, then this is definitely a winner.  The only problem with this bottle is that the cap is difficult to clean thoroughly, so I use mine only for water. It is also important to note that when buying plastic water bottles, you should look for ones that are BPA (Bisphenol A) free.    
No matter what water bottle you choose, make sure you keep it clean.  I use my bottles for water only, and hand wash them, since the dishwasher tends to degrade them.  I have special bottles for sugary liquids, such as my morning shakes and gatorade - these get extra cleaning.  Also, don't drink any water that has been sitting for too long, as bacteria does grow in water.  As for water sources, I think tap water is fine.  Plus it contains the flouride we need to keep our teeth healthy.  Recent studies have shown an increase in tooth decay due to the lack of flouride in bottled water.  If you don't like the taste of your tap water, just boil the water (will get rid of the chlorine), and then store in the fridge. 

And yes, all of my water bottles are pink - hence the girly tomboy title!

I also really like my hydration packs.  I use these for hiking and biking.  It's easy to sip water regularly when there is a tube three inches from your mouth that you can drink from.  My favorite hydration pack is the Dakine Nomad, which has special straps for my bike helmet (great for commuting) and knee/shin pads (which I carry for when the trail unexpectedly turns nasty).  I like hydration packs that have some storage, for a long sleeve shirt, a bike repair kit, and trail mix or even lunch.  I appreciate the Nomad's front pocket with an organization panel useful for a pocket knife, flashlight, and other bits and bobs I take with me into the woods.  This pack even has a padded pocket for my camera.  The pack holds a 3L resevoir.

I also have a Camelbak MULE, which I also really like.   I think Camelbak makes the best water resevoirs.  The MULE also holds 3L of water, and has enough compartments and straps to fit all of the extras that I bring with me.  I like that the Camelbak has a waist strap, which is nice for hiking.
Both Camelbak and Dakine make women specific hydration packs which are shorter (for shorter torsos) and are designed for narrower shoulders.  As a tall (5'10'') ex-competitive swimmer with broad shoulders, the male specific packs fit me better.  But if you have narrower shoulders, then definitely look at the women specific packs.  Go by fit first and foremost.  If your hydration pack fits properly, you won't even notice you're wearing it - until you take it off after a long bike ride and there is a huge sweat stain on your shirt in the shape of your pack.  Yes, that's experience talking.

Avoid putting sugary liquids (such as gatorade) into the hydration pack resevoir, as it is somewhat challenging to clean.  Always rinse the resevoir after use, and hang up open so that it dries.  In the summer when I'm using my hydration system regularly, I just keep the resevoir in the freezer to avoid anything growing in it. Camelbak makes cleaning brushes that clean both the resevoir and the tube, which is very useful.  Although once you get stuff growing in your resevoir, which I have, it's very difficult to get rid of permanently. 

For extra long days or extreme heat, consider electrolyte replacement.  I really like the Camelbak Elixir tablets, which have a bit of flavor but do not have any sugar.  I have used these in my hydration packs and they're fine - no problems with any kind of growth or yuckiness.  And I do like the taste.  When I lived in Arizona and mountain biked in the desert, these made a huge difference!  They're not cheap, but they're definitely worth it.
And if you're enjoying the great outdoors with your doggies, don't forget to keep them hydrated also.  You can teach your doggies to drink out of your hydration pack by squirting water into their mouth.  You can also carry a bottle specifically for them.  My favorite is the H2O4K9.  Just like you, it's better to give your doggies smaller sips of water more often.

So enjoy enjoy the outdoors this summer, and stay hydrated!


Head to Head: Brow Gels

I have been using Anastasia's brow gel for a while now.  I picked up a brow kit, and the brow gel was included.  I never considered brow gel before, but since I have somewhat unruly brows, it was love at first swipe.  Unfortunately, the Anastasia stuff is quite pricey, so I decided to try the Great Lash clear mascara from Mabelline.

At first, I was skeptical of the Great Lash, because it did not seem as thick as the Anastasia stuff.  It didn't leave my brows just a little crunchy either, like the Anastasia, which I thought meant that it wasn't working as well.  However, after a month of daily use I can tell you that I am a convert!  The Great Lash holds my brows in place all day (even when that day includes a nap), and still leaves them soft to the touch.  Wicked awesome.

However, I still like the Anastasia packaging better.
As you can see, the Anastasia brush (bottom) is much fuller than the Great Lash (top).  The full brush does a better job of combing through the brows with only a few sweeps.  Also, I am not a fan of the fact that the Great Lash wand is white and the packaging clear.  As you can see from the pic, the wand gets stained by my brow pencil fairy quickly, which transfers into the gel.  I am sure that the Anastasia gel also got stained, but I was thankful that I didn't have to look at it. 

However, the packaging is not enough to make me switch back to the Anastasia brow gel.  Especially when I consider the almost $15 price difference.


Haul: Happy Birthday to Me!

My birthday is tomorrow! So I decided to stop by the mall to pick up my sephora gift. I like it better than the lip glosses from last year - which I found sticky. You get a mini mascara, a shimmery white eye shadow, and a patinum green eye liner (which is gorgeous!).

The shadow swatch is on top and the liner is on the bottom.  The best description of the liner is 'warm platinum'. 

I'm also going to attempt 'mannequin hands' with Sephora by OPI's Nonfat Soy Half Caff. 

Here is a pic of it next to Tickle My Francey by OPI. I would say that Nonfat is a less grey nude than Francey, and I think it may also be more sheer.

I also got some really delicious smelling foaming soap from Fruits and Passion.  They had a deal where the soap and a big refill jug were both $24 - not bad.  I got grapefruit guava. Delish. 


Weekend in the Woods with the Doggies

My mom and I spent some time in the forest with the Doggies this weekend.  The dogs had a great time running around the woods chasing squirrels and rabbits.  And it was so nice and warm that they actually got hot and had to take a little break on a patch of cool sand they found.

Here are the girls having a rest and a breather. Kitty is in the front and Millie is in the back.
Several strategies were employed to maxmize cooling.  Amelia decided to roll around in the dirt.

Kitty, on the other hand, stretched her legs behind her to cool her belly.

However, no one was as hot as Ernie (my parents' dog).  Not only is he black, but he also has a super thick coat complete with a downy undercoat.  You can see that he spent a good amount of time rolling around in the cool dirt as well.

Our semi-new H204K9 water bottle was stolen at the dog park yesterday - it was on the picnic table while we were playing fetch and when I turned around after a couple of throws it was gone.  Really people?  Really?  We're stealing water bottles now?  So if the JERK who took our doggie water bottle is reading this - YOU SUCK! 

Rant over - WHEW!

Other than the slight doggie dehydration (rectified with a big bowl of water at the car), we had a super duper time!  I love hiking.  But I love hiking with the dogs a 100 times more!

What did you do this weekend?

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