July 13, 2014

Ten of my favourite beauty cheapies under $10

There are many folks the world over who love makeup and beauty products with a fiery passion and who will spend no small sum on them annually. While I share their ardent love of said items, I am not typically the kind to splash out a great deal of money on my beauty staples. Don't get me wrong, I always like quality and appreciate the higher end brands out there immensely - and should anyone want to gift me a product from one of those lines, I will treasure it until the very last drop or swipe - but much like I've heard my friend Brittany from Va Voom Vintage say on her blog over the years, typically, I'd rather spend my the bulk of my "appearance related" budget on clothing, not makeup or beauty products.

Of course there are exceptions to this statement. Case in point, all three of the selections that I discussed in this post about my current favourite lipsticks last January are department store brands, and I use Clinique moisturizer and eye shadow as part of my daily routine, but I balance out these more costly purchases by turning to a number of drugstore brand items as well.

As I chatted about in 2012's My Skin Care Routine Revealed post, and have mentioned here at other times as well, I have very sensitive skin, so that always factors into any cosmetic or beauty choices that I make. Fortunately, unlike with lotions, soaps, fragrances, and laundry products, I tend to have fairly good luck on that front when it comes to makeup. Such isn't always the case however, and I have had some terrible allergic/sensitive skin reactions over the years (on that front, Garnier and Rimmel London's offerings have been two of the biggest offenders for me; I won't buy anything from either brand any more), but at present my skin is happy with all of the items highlighted in this post.

In many instances, I've used markedly similar offerings from pricier brands over the years and have, in every case, found these products to be comparable - or better - in quality than their pricier peers, which is why these particular beauty items made it into today's post.

No matter what your budget and how you choose to spend it, it never hurts to save money where you can, especially if a considerably less costly product can deliver the same kinds of results as a one which a much higher sticker cost. In the spirit of beauty bargain lovers everywhere, I've kept all of the entries on this list to less than $10.00 Canadian (based on the lowest prices I've been able to pay for them here in British Columbia). Depending on where you live in the world, these items may cost a bit more or even a little less, but most should still be very economical options, if they're available in your country.

In addition, all of these products are ones that I not only use on a regular (in some cases, daily) basis, but are options that work fabulously as part of your vintage beauty and makeup routine. (Please note that the prices provided are an average of what I have paid for these items, before taxes, commonly at chains like Walmart or London Drugs, over the past twelve months. They are not exact prices from one specific shop/online source and may differ from what stores in your part of Canada, or the world, retail them for.)

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Maybelline Great Lash Mascara - average price $6.99:
A worldwide best seller for decades now, this is, hands down, my favourite mascara of all time and indeed, the overwhelming majority of the time, the only mascara I use. I prefer either Blackest Black or Black Brown, just depending on what colour eye makeup I'm sporting that day, and aside from the the fact that it has tremendous staying power, separates and defines my lashes like nothing else, and is wallet friend, I adore this mascara because it still used a traditional spoolie brush, instead of a rubber/plastic/silicon one, which I find do not work well for my lashes in the slightest.

Badger Balm Unscented Lip Balm Stick - average price $3.99: I love Badger Balm's products and have yet to try one that troubled my sensitive skin. This is no doubt because they're (to quote Badger Balm's official site) made from 100% natural ingredients obtained through wild harvest, fair trade, or organic practices, and most are USDA Certified Organic. Plus most, if not all (I'm not certain), are gluten-free. I've been using the Unscented Lip Balm for a few years now, both on it's own and also as a light gloss atop matte lipstick and really find it helps my permanently parched lips stay better moisturized the whole year 'round.

Joe Fresh Black Liquid Eyeliner - average price $7.00: Aside from the fact that you can't (or at least, I can't) get mind blowingly thin lines with this, I can't fault Joe Fresh's Black Liquid Eyeliner in any way. It's been my go to choice for achieving my beloved vintage cat's eye look for numerous years now, a tube lasts me for months, the colour is rich and really stays put, and it can be found from coast to coast across Canada at stores that carry the Joe Fresh cosmetics line. If you've been looking for a budget-friendly black liquid liner, this is it for sure.

Dove Beauty Bar Sensitive Skin - average price $4.00 (for two bars): Throughout my entire life, soap (very much including things like dish and laundry detergent) has been one of the beauty products that has most troubled my sensitive skin. Thankfully my soap salvation arrived back when I was a teenager in the form of Dove's Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar, which I not only use as soap, but as my “shaving cream” year after year without the slightest bit of irritation in the world.

NYC Grand Central Station Quick Dry Clear Nail Polish - average price: $2.49: While this clear polish certainly works well as such, and I frequently wear it on its own (I have brittle nails and find that keeping polish on them helps to strength them and reduce breakage considerable), I've actually hit upon the fact that this quick dry polish makes for a stellar top coat that helps speed of the drying time of every single polish, from a wide array of drug store and department store brands alike, that I've tried it with. In fact, it works better in this regard then products targeted as quick dry top coats from other brands that I've experimented with. If you've been looking for a really budget friendly way to speed up your nail polish drying time, this is it!

Almay Oil-Free Makeup Eraser Sticks - average price $6.00: These babies are staple on many a budget beauty product list and for good reason. They're super useful, can be taken with you anywhere, and really do the job - plus they're seriously handy to have around when you're trying to get the flick on your cat eye liner just right! If you live in Canada and can't find them in your area, Well.ca currently stocks them for $5.99, which is comparable to what I usually pay in person.

Ban Unscented Deodorant - average price $4.00: For years I went from one brand of deodorant (including several organic/all natural ones purchased at health food stores) to another, constantly finding that after a few days (or sometimes even one application), they would trouble my sensitive skin to no end (even dye and perfume-free varieties). Then a few years ago, probably about six or seven now, I hit on Ban Unscented and finally found a deodorant that I can wear most of the time. I say "most of the time" because if I apply it for too many days in row, usually more than four or five, I do still sometimes run into issues, but they pale compare to those from any other brand of deodorant or antiperspirant I've tried and as, thankfully, I'm not a big sweater usually. I don't need to wear it every day, so the skin on my underarms is usually a very happy camper regardless of if I've got this one or not. I find that it goes on sale at various grocery stores sometimes at deeply discounted rates and just stocked up on three sticks last spring for all of $1.79 each, if memory serves me right, when they did at Save On Foods.

Tom's of Maine Baking Soda Cleansing Mouthwash - average price $9.00: My sensitive skin extends to the inside of my mouth, so alcohol based mouth washes are out for me. It took me sometime to find one that both alcohol-free and gluten-free (gluten is not a common mouth wash ingredient, but I do always prefer it when a brand clearly states a product is GF, as Tom's of Maine does with this mouthwash), but I did just that with this one and thoroughly love it. I find it to be effective, very pleasant tasting (I've been using Tom's of Maine's toothpastes for several years now, so I was already familiar with what their mint flavours were like and I think that made me enjoy the taste here all the more), and that despite its somewhat small size (for the price), a bottle will last me for at least three months even when used every day. (If you're having a hard time finding it in Canada, I've been able to do so at the Choices Market chain of health food stores here in B.C., and suspect, though cannot say for sure, that Nature's Fair and Whole Foods may carry it as well.)

Annabelle Lip Liners - average price $3.00 (I just paid this each for two at Walmart a couple of months ago): Annabelle Cosmetics is a budget-friendly Canadian makeup line that I flat out love. Not only are most of their products hypo-allergenic and gluten-free (interestingly, this point used to be mentioned on their website, but I can't find it there anymore; nevertheless, I'm ultra gluten sensitive due to my celiac disease and have not yet, thankfully, had any problems with the products I've used from them), they're also easy to find, very affordable, good quality, and available in a number of really wearable colours that partner well, I find, with the lipsticks and glosses I frequently use from other brands such as MAC and Clinique.

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Cover Girl Eye Enhancers 1-Kit Shadows - average price $5.00: While there is merit to multi-colour eye shadow palettes for sure, especially if the hues coordinate and can be used to create a cohesive Smokey eye, I generally prefer to buy my shadows one shade at the time and for years I've been turning to Cover Girl's Eye Enhancers 1-Kit Shadows on that front. They're available in a fairly large range of shades, includes some really lovely neutrals, last for ages, deliver a good wash of pigment, don't "flake" too much, and are quite easy to find at most any drugstore or supermarket with a beauty section. In particular, I'm quite fond of the French Vanilla, Snow Blossom, Patina and Shimmering Onyx shades in this range.

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In putting together this list, I came up with easily double the number of items shown here today, so a second edition might just have to pop up at some point. Though Canada does not have quite the same range of beauty products available to those in the US (and perhaps the UK - though there I'm not sure if it's as much a matter of different brands or a larger overall number of available items), we are fortunate to have a good many, with more hitting the shelves (online and off) every year.

I tend to be very devoted to my beauty and cosmetics products and rarely switch once I've hit on one that I really like, especially when its as well priced as these, so chances are I'll continue to use most, or all, of these items for as long as their respective manufactures keep producing them and stores continue to retail them for such reasonable rates.

Are you a fan of any of the lovely items listed here today yourself? What are some of your favourite vintage appropriate (or otherwise) beauty cheapies? Loyal to my faves as I am, and while, yes, I may not splash out a ton on makeup every month, beauty loving girly-girl that I am, I'm always keen to discover new brands and products, so by all means share away!

July 11, 2014

Under the sea vintage fashion fun

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{Whether your hair is as long as a mermaid’s or considerably shorter, there isn't a head around that wouldn't look sensational with this elegantly gorgeous handmade seashell and starfish comb nestled against it. $35.00 from Be Something New.}

{If ever there was an aptly named scent to wear to the beach or anyplace during the summer, this lovely bottle of Mermaid Kiss handmade perfume is it. $9.25 for a 15ml bottle from Butter Toki.}

{If you're not in the mood for a full on ocean inspired look, or if you want to jazz your mermaid-worthy outfit up even further, why not pick up these beautiful vintage lucite clip-on earrings featuring oodles of cute little seashells and metallic confetti? $18.00 from SoCal Jewelry Box.}

{Aren't these handmade capiz shell, starfish, and Swarovski crystal earrings absolutely breathtaking? I could see them working wonders with everything from vintage tropical print playsuits to a flowing, breezy white dress for a relaxed beach wedding. Swoon!!! $25.00 from Lovelorn Siren.}

{Vintage frocks really don't come any more shimmery, alluring, or gorgeous than this stunning 1960s metallic blue tinsel wiggle dress. Love. Epically. Fits up to a 36" bust/28" waist. $125.00 from (fellow B.C. Etsian) True Value Vintage.}

{Whether they're the real deal plucked from the sea or the sort created on land in factory, there's no denying the truly timeless appeal of pearl jewelry. This strikingly beautiful 1940s hand knotted faux pearl necklace features a 23.5 inch strand of solid, good quality glass pearls in a beguilingly lovely shade of rose gold meets brown gold meets champagne that would look especially incredible against summertime tanned skin. $28.00 from Chronically Vintage on Etsy.}

{Every time I go to the Vancouver Aquarium (as we did on our recent travels to that fine city), I spend a good long while gazing at the resident mighty fire hued Giant Pacific Octopus. There is, to my mind, something both scary and appealing awesome about these powerful eight-armed aquatic creatures and its easy to see why they've long held court over much of the ocean floor. Far from frightening, this wonderful block of handmade vegan soap featuring one of these hefty octopi is just the ticket to get your skin looking, if you'll forgive a relevant maritime pun, shipshape in no time! $9.00 for a 4 ounce bar of soap from The Charming Frog.}

{Raffia and summertime go together like tropical drinks and the beach. Lightweight, breathable, and comfy, it's a classic natural material that makes for the ideal warm weather shoe and these great 1960s woven raffia flats are no exception. Fits a ladies size 6.5 foot. $25.00 from Luckiest Duck 1.}

{Today's final item entry isn't for your wardrobe, but instead for your walls! I discovered these fabulous hand painted underwater themed vintage reproduction chalkware sets a few months ago and have been thoroughly smitten ever since. They look the kitschy mid-century part to a tee, are very reasonably priced, and just as cute as cute can possibly be! $40.00 for a three-piece set of chalkware mermaids from HilltopCast.}

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Before I delve further into today's post, I want to take a moment to thank absolutely everyone who has showered me with happy 30th birthday wishes this week. Yesterday was fun filled, beautiful, inspiring and bursting with all those special elements that one hopes for when the anniversary of their birth rolls around. My celebrate was truly made all the more sweet and memorable thanks to your splendidly lovely wishes. Thank you, one and all!

I'm not the only thing getting older these days. I recently read that 2014 is the 25th anniversary of Disney's endlessly classic take on The Little Mermaid and it stopped me right in my tracks. No way! I thought to myself, feeling like I could remember watching it, on VHS, naturally, for the first time as though it were yesterday. And yet, it only took a couple more seconds of hopping down memory lane to realize that, by Jove, yes, it really had been that long, because I can clearly recall having a Little Mermaid theme for either my sixth or seventh birthday.

As a child, growing up in a very dysfunctional, oppressive, challenging home setting, I instantly felt like I could relate to Ariel and her desire to break away from her tyrannical father's rule and discover a world of her own where she could finally experience the freedom she deeply, powerfully longed for. Though I wasn't born with a tail and I never forgot what the word "burn" was, I found so many parallels between her life and my own plight that Ariel became something of a personal mascot and certainly a major source of inspiration for me all through my early childhood years.

{A copy of the exact same Disney Little Mermaid poster that hung on my bedroom wall for a few years of my youth, reminding and quietly helping to encourage me each time I looked at it to explore my own proverbial "shore above" and to take my freedom into my own hands. Image source.}

Much like Disney's most famous mermaid, I too eventually found both my freedom and my wonderful prince charming. I developed my own legs of a different sort and taught myself how to stand on them, even in the face of the harshest adversities. While I'm certainly no longer a child anymore, I still love Ariel and her delightful cast of underwater friends all the same and can sing, to this day, all of the songs in that movie by heart.

Inspired by my passion for and personal relationship with this film, in the midst of one of (if not "the", depending on whereabouts you live) hottest months of the year, I knew that I wanted this month's edition of Vintage Fashionista Friday to have a charmingly fantastic mermaid theme to it.

July, the sea, cool waters and the joy that imagining a world in which mermaids really did exist makes for a seriously appealing combination and one that will continue appeal to me whether I'm five, thirty, fifty or a hundred years old! :)


Hurry, my dears, and take advantage of the awesome 25% off sale that is still underway on everything in my Etsy shop. The sale ends tomorrow and is the only one I have planned for the summer, so now is the time to save big! 

July 9, 2014

Thoughts on who I am as I turn 30

Outfit details

1950s nylon (chiffon) scarf: Gift from a dear online friend ♥
White plastic rose stud earrings: Claire's
Navy blue knit shrug: Sears
1980s does 1950s blue and purple floral print dress: Mr. Idaho’s Vintage 
Pine green skinny belt: eBay
Green vintage Prystal bangle bracelet: Last year’s annual Rutland Antiques & Collectibles show
All other bangles: Assorted sources
Vintage purple purse: Yard sale find
Nude seamed nude stockings: eBay
Navy blue faux patent leather pumps: Payless
Lip colour: Clinique Raspberry Glace
Nail Colour: Essie Lilacism

Photography by Tony Cangiano

The internet can can be, and is, a blank canvas of sorts, a medium the likes of which the world had never quite seen prior to its invention and subsequent large scale adoption from the 1990s onward. What started out as an unsettled, unknown barren wilderness is now a city so crowded it makes places like Hong Kong, Mumbai and New York seem like quaint, quiet little villages nestled in some far off woods.

Online, unless somebody is already famous in the real world, and even then to some extent, one can if they so desire, create whatever sort of persona they desire. Not of course, that we all do such. Many strive to be as much like themselves online as they are off, but by the very nature of the fact that our interactions on the web are not the same as those had face-to-face with others in our daily lives, we often end up only sharing or intentionally divulging certain aspects of the whole, much more rounded and/or interesting person that we are.

The truth is incredibly important to me and I've never knowingly or intentionally misrepresented who I am online, but like most people, I value my privacy and as much I am working diligently at getting better at sharing more about myself, there are certain things that I will likely never say or share in the public sphere.

However, the longer the blog, the more I find myself thinking about how there are certain sides to me that I feel rarely, if ever come out in my writing here, as well as certain facts that I've reached a point where I no longer feel like I must hold them fiercely close to my chest, shielding them from the world.

In my daily life, I am - humbly - a very funny person. I crack jokes, make puns, delight in world play, and have a wicked sense of humour. Many people over the years have described me as the funniest woman they've ever known, and yet, oddly or interestingly, depending on how you opt to look at it, my personal brand of humour rarely shines through too brightly in my vintage related writing, perhaps because I'm not penning posts about topics that are inherently funny. I like to slip in a good pun or witty remark every now and then, but that's about the extent of it for the most part here (though every now and then I do love to write an intentionally humour post, such as this year's The real truth behind 15 Canadian stereotypes or 2009's look at Five items I would always/never wear).

Following in the same vein, I also love watching TV shows like Family Guy, American Dad, The Simpsons, The Daily Show, Peep Show (from the UK), How I Meet Your Mother, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Tosh.0, Impractical Jokers, and World's Dumbest. And while we're on the subject of TV, I've never sat through a full episode of any soap opera, am rarely a fan of talk shows, can't stand "real housewives" type of reality shows (which are anything but, in true reality), have a voracious passion for dramas and 80s and 90s sitcoms and have seen every single episode of Sex in the City.

Some people set out, when they begin blogging, making Youtube videos, growing a following on Instagram, or what have you, to craft and shape a specific type of persona. This is not something I did in the slightest, as I believe in sharing the real me with the world, but again, sometimes by the very nature of the web and its complex relationship with privacy, we don't end up letting people see all our good sides, or certain traits that we might not be too fond of end up being magnified in ways we never expected.

For example, I love to write at length on various topics and to be very thorough (there's no such things as being too thorough in most cases, in my books), partner that with the fact that my speech is sometimes for akin to that of Charles Dickens than Gnarls Barkley and it can become all too easy for some people to perhaps view me as being pretentious, or arguably worse, a know-it-all. Good grief! Nothing could be further than from the truth. I loath pretentiousness, which was a trait in a certain family member that I could not stand as a child and swore I would never embody it when I grew up. Much like Socrates and Plato, I know one thing: that I know nothing.

Of course that isn't literally the case, but the sentiment certainly rings true and is something that all lovers of knowledge should ascribe to because there is no shortage of topics to learn and expand our body of knowhow on throughout the - in the greater scheme of all of time - very short time we're fortunate enough to be on this planet.

I am incredibly shy, and yet, at times I can be so brazenly bold that when I later look back at certain actions, I can scarcely believe that I myself carried them out. I am a homebody who also loves to travel, with a wicked sense of wanderlust. I love to sell, always have, always will (so it was only natural that I'd open an Etsy shop one day, as I did this year). I have a complex relationship with money and was, at one point in my life, a stress spender (though thankfully, with help that I will always be truly grateful for from my husband, this is no longer something I frequently find myself in recent years), but have always been great at saving, too, and making sure my true financial priorities were taken care of first and foremost.

And speaking of stress, I am the polar opposite of a stress eater, in fact, I have a hard time swallowing a single bite if I feel consumed by stress, worry, guilt, grief, sadness, or any other strong negative emotion.

Like all of us, I am a product of my past, my present and my dreams about tomorrow. As I sit here this morning on the cusp of my 30th birthday tomorrow, a very substantial part of me feels like I could write for hours about things you don't know about me or which I've only touched on vaguely in the course of my blog's life so far. I want to share more and grow more as a person, both two things that I've been actively working on ever since the rather life altering and affirming experience that our trip to Calgary last September turned out to be for me (a point that I talked about at length in this post).

I am not the same person I was a decade ago on this very same morning. Not by a long shot. Some elements are the same of course, but a billion things have changed. From certain priorities to various hopes. I have far more wrinkles, but way less of my real hair (not sure what I'm talking about there? See this post). I've grown stronger and weaker in different ways. My health, a true shambles since I first became chronically ill at the age of just 18, is, and will - baring major medical breakthroughs - always be a train wreck and constant source of stress and problems, but it doesn't have a complete hold on me. I've learned to make a life for myself in spite of it and to use the lessons it has taught me to become a better, braver, wiser person.

If I could go back in time and speak to myself on the last day of when I was 19, I am sure there are encyclopedia volumes of information that I would tell my young self, but I don't think, if I could do the last decade over again, that I would ultimately want to. I fought those fights, cried those tears, rejoiced in those smiles, won those victories, and learned those lessons once and that is more than enough. The path wasn't always perfect, but it was my road, and I walked it as best I could in the moment, with the tools and love and ingrained sense of hope that I had right then, right there, when I needed it.
There were times in the last decade where it didn't look like I'd make it through to my thirties because of my health, but thankfully, miraculously even, I am still here. Sorry, chronic illnesses (and certain doctors who don't begin to deserve the degrees they hold), I'm still here. This ol' body of mine hasn't won quite yet and I have no plans of letting it do so any time soon.

I left home - a world filled with horrible dysfunction, abuse, sickening lies, manipulation, and endless problems at the tender age of 16, and instantly began making a life for myself from that moment onward (a topic that I'm going to be delving into a bit more in my next post on Friday). I have never given up or given in to people or things that tried to change me. I'd had more than my fair share of that as a child. I grew up far too early and in ways no one should ever have to. I've known poverty and hardship, hunger and the most brutal and vile sides of human nature. I have also never lost my inner child, the glee that I find in cute things, animals, and dressing in feminine styles.

My soft spoken-ness and typically very gentle nature often makes people think that they can walk all over me, but what they don't know is that this seemingly quiet and unassuming kitten has claws (and knows how to use them!). I always know when someone is trying to play me and they'll quickly learn, they aren't about to get away with it on my watch. I have an almost crippling fear of confrontation when it comes to myself, yet I am fiercely protective of those I love and will fight to the death for my dearest and dearest, no matter who I have to go up against.

So much has changed over the past decade. At times it feels like I have lived a lifetime in the span of each of those years. So many were fraught with uncertainty and challenges that at first seemed insurmountable, but which were ultimately tackled or at at least woven in the tapestry of the bigger picture and able to be dealt with in various ways. There were great, sometimes even amazing, points as well and the older I get, the more I not only like, but love who I have, and who I continue to, become.

I have my quirks and my shortcomings, my flaws and my failures, we all do, but I don't let them rule or worry me - for the most part at least - nearly as much as they did ten, seven, five or even two years ago. I am wiser, but still have much to learn and will always continue to do so. The good of the last decade will carry on with me into the next, the bad I've buried in the past. It is not worthy of my time or anguish any longer. I have a new day to experience, a new chapter to begin, and new set of challenges ahead of me.

There will always be elements of who I am that you may not fully know, but I hope that in this post and many more to come, I will show you further sides of who this vintage loving, resilient, bookworm, history buff, happily married, proud pet parent, chronic illness fighting, determined, optimistically realistic, joke cracking, gluten-free, travel adoring, shy, spirited, creative, passion Canadian woman is as I embark on, and embrace, my thirties.

Buckle up and keep the camera at hand, I can already tell it's going to be on heck of an exciting ride - and I wouldn't want it any other way.