Last Minute Shopping – Local (Hamilton, Ontario) Shops to Check off the Last Things on Your List!

Hey there,

Two weeks to go until Christmas (and also Hanukkah!) and I bet you’re still looking for that last little something that’s unique and perfect for that hard-to-shop-for person on your list — am I right!? Well, for my Hamiltonians (or GTA-ers), here are the best last-minute stops in the city to make sure you’ve checked off that list with some real awesome goods!

James Street Bookseller


Do I really need to talk about this store, again? Book lovers – or those buying for book lovers – rejoice! Here’s the perfect city stop to buy a really unique used book for that special someone on your list. Go in there without expectation and you’ll end up walking out with something really special and thoughtful for that hard-to-shop-for person on your list.

Pure Home Couture


My favourite little French shop, located on Locke street. They make their fragranced products in-house so you know you’re getting locally made, small batch, high-quality stuff! Their perfumes are so divine, their candles are the best you’ll find (PERIOD), and let’s not forget that they have such unique pieces of home decor and decorations available. Get something Parisian and beautiful smelling for a special lady (or man!) in your life!

Kaza Wood Furniture

Who doesn’t like that natural wood look? Whether you’re looking for a piece of furniture or a wooden accent to make a bathroom, kitchen, dining room or living room truly stand out, or to have that talking-piece at the dinner table, Marcus Melo’s pieces are perfect. All wood is sustainably sourced and you know you’re getting a product that has a lot of time and love put into it. Kaza Wood Furniture pieces can be found at James North General Store (even their sign is made by them!) or you can contact Marcus directly through @kazawoodfurniture!

Nelle Stelle


Located in the basement below Augusta Cafe, this local-artist general store has something for everyone on your list. Supporting Hamilton artists, as well as artists from the GTA, this store has jewellery, plants, pillows, candles… everything! A great one-stop shop for some unique pieces, in the city.


We all have those not-so-local products that we can’t help but love, only it’s a bit too late for shipping them over in time for Christmas… I can help you, in that department!


Love Obvious States literary designs? Find their products at  Indigo/Chapters (prints can be found here), or the Penguin Toronto (more can be found here!) store that just opened up!

Love Out of Print Clothing but can’t handle those expensive conversion rates and crazy shipping prices? Find some of their amazing sweaters, t-shirts, socks and totes at Girl on the Wing in Hamilton! While you’re there, check out some of their amazing feminist wares and truly unique vintage pieces!

I hope my suggestions help you find that perfect little something for the special someone on your Christmas list!

Happy shopping!


November Ipsy – Review & Comments

Hey there,

Last month I ordered my first – and only – Ipsy bag. Right off the bat you may be asking why I stopped my subscription. It was worth the money (it’s very cheap) for the surprise of products and the cute accessory, but I don’t see getting enough use out of it to make it worth it.

For $14.95 Canadian, including shipping (I believe? I don’t remember now…), Ipsy will deliver you a “tailor-made” bag of beauty products. I say “tailored” because that’s what they advertise, based on your hair colour, eye colour, and the preferences you list. But I got two products in my bag that I had emphasized in my profile that I would have no use for. So I’m not sure how honest that feature is.

Here’s what was inside:
– A cute makeup bag with “beauty constellations”
– Too Faced ‘Better Than Sex’ mascara
– When in Doubt Wing it Out eyeliner
– Brit Velvet Red Lipstick
– Pur-Lisse moisturizer
– Luxie brush

I’ve already tried everything, so here is my quick and easy low-down on the products:

  • The bag is a light, cheap quality but the design is awesome. I don’t know that it’s big enough for a lot of travel but it would make a really cute purse makeup bag.
  • The Too Faced mascara is awesome. It’s light, feathery, the brush is a bit ridiculous looking but there were no clumps and it glides on so smooth. I might have to make a full-sized purchase of this, eventually.
  • The Wing it Out eyeliner had a bit of a harder precision brush than I’m used to but it made for a crisper line on my wing (which is my go-to eye makeup, if I wear any at all). I really like the pigment. I’m a fan, but it’s not so good that I’d consider leaving other makeup companies behind for it.
  • The lipstick is AWESOME. This red totally matches my olive/light skin tone and I love the way it glides on SO smooth and becomes matte right away without drying out. It transfers a lot, though, and I still haven’t worn it all day, so I don’t know if it bleeds.
  • The moisturizer is nothing to rave about. I’ll stick with Kiehl’s, as I like the way it feels on my skin more.
  • The brush… I don’t know how to use brushes. I don’t even know the specific purpose of this specific brush! All I know is that it’s super smooth and put on my blush really nicely. (Is it even a blush brush!?) I’m more of a ‘use your fingers to apply minimal makeup’ kind of person, so this brush business is new to me.

Would I get Ipsy again? Sure! I love trying new products!
Was it worth the cost? Yes, if you keep in mind that these are deluxe samples but quality ones at that.
Overall, I would give this subscription pack a 7.5/10 – nothing mindblowing, worth the money, great products.

Do you subscribe to Ipsy? Let me know in the products below.


Perfume Samples – Collect, Experiment, Explore, Discover!

Hey there,

I love perfume samples!
Whenever I’m in a shop that gives you an option of what samples you want to try, I always go for the perfumes. And if there is an opportunity to get a deluxe sample, I’ll find a way to get that, too!

Recently, I made a Christmas purchase (don’t judge me – I start on presents, early) on and they were not only giving away a deluxe sample of a perfume they carry in store, but you also had the option of picking three other samples. As expected, I selected three other perfumes. None of that fancy face cream (Kiehl’s is my go-to anyway), no hair-transforming concoctions, just give me perfume, perfume, and more perfume.

I don’t have a signature scent. I used to when I was younger, but now my perfume collection is vast. I love to try new scents to see if I “bond” with them. That way, I know what direction to go when I’m looking to buy another perfume. The best way to see if a perfume is meant for you, is to wear it an entire day. Perfumes change with your body over time, and no scent smells the same on each person.

I’m going to take a moment to review the four perfumes that I received as samples!

My deluxe perfume sample was FLOWERBOMB by Victor Rolf. This perfume is reasonably priced in Sephora stores, and what I love about the deluxe sample is that it’s literally a miniature stylistic version of the original bottle. If you know me at all, you know that I love mini-things!

The first smell that hits your nose is a top note that’s rather musky. It comes out seeming to have a patchoulli scent but with what might be a jasmine undertone, which makes the musky-ness of the scent even more prominent. I have a hard time smelling the distinct flowers used in this perfume, and they didn’t even come through when wearing them.

This perfume was an award winner for Allure magazine, but I’ll be honest: it smells like an old grade one teacher. You all know that smell! I don’t think it smells sophisticated or chic,  it just smells heavy and old.

The next sample I’m going to review is TAINTED LOVE by Tokyo Milk’s Dark Femme Fatale Collection. The first smell that hits me is a top note of a vanilla that is softened by citrus! It’s got a smooth smell that is juxtaposed with a fresh scent, and it’s immensely unique. There are hints of tea in those middle notes, and the basenote is a musky sandalwood that only becomes prominent as you wear it.

This scent is very original, and if you are someone who likes a balance of fresh and sophisticated, something quite dramatic and something that definitely leaves a mark on whoever smells it, then I highly recommend it. Again, this wasn’t a scent that I would particularly wear, because it’s the flowered middle notes paired with musk that I never seem to enjoy. Also, heavy musk smells seem to cause my nose to get stuffy… riddle me this.

The next sample I received was BERGAMOTE SOLEIL by Atelier Cologne. I didn’t even know this company existed, so it was a pleasant find, since, as you may have guessed by the name, it’s a Parisian company! This perfume is on the “middle” side of cost, rather than low (anything under $100 is low), but it’s quite obvious why: this is a higher quality perfume and it’s obvious as you smell it.

This perfume is outstanding. The first smell that hits you are those “sunny” top notes of citrus – that powerful bergamot orange! It’s such a distict citrus note; almost like an orange and a lime combined. It’s so powerful in this perfume, and yet so soft and fresh.

The middle notes have hints of soft floral scents like lavender or jasmine, and while there is a slight hint at a musky basenote like a white amber, it’s so soft that this perfume keeps that “fresh” and “light” feeling throughout it’s wear on your skin. I absolutely adore this sample.

Last but not least is another sample from Atelier Cologne called POMELO PARADIS . I forgot to mention that this company also has a less expensive cologne option: a rollerball for about $30. I just find that rollerball perfumes, though convenient, finish rather quickly.

I picked, accidently, two citrus based samples. But those seem to be my favourite scents overall, and Pomelo Paradis is no exception. The top note that hits you immediately, and with such a force, is a smell I would compare to the rind of a grapefruit, which is, of course, pomelo! It’s so powerful and so beautiful, I can’t describe it. I can smell a light middle note of blackcurrant, and it seems like there are some hints at orange blossom in there. There is a pungent kick that will hit you sometimes, that seems to be of mint. And that base note is of course a musk of amber, but it’s so light, even as you wear it,  it never reaches a point of overpowering that beautiful pomelo top note. I loved this sample, as well.

Hopefully knowing a bit more about each of these samples might help you make decisions on what you should try. Do you have a particular smell that you’re always drawn to? What about one that you always stay away from? Let me know in the comments!


Exploring NYC Part 2 – Madison Ave – Where Fashion & Beauty Dreams Lie Around Every Corner!

Hey there,

Madison Avenue.
A street for fashion dreamers.
So you can imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon it!

My intentions were to head over to that area to visit the Laduree. If there is an opportunity for me to have a taste of Paris while I’m in another city, I will take it! In case you don’t know what Laduree is, it’s a French pastry shop and the only locations outside of Europe were here, with me, in New York City.

It’s got a real Marie Antoinette vibe to it, and it has the best macaroons in the world. Believe it or not, J and I decided that the macaroons we had at this Madison Avenue location were even better than Paris. The two best flavours we had were ‘The Blonde Salad’ – Chiara Ferragni’s signature flavour – and a black currant violet flavour. They were out of this freaking world! I can’t express in enough words what a “flavour explosion” these were, as soon as you bit into them. We also tried the Miss Peregrine flavour (limited time, New York locations only, I believe) but it was quite terrible.

If you’re unaware, I LOVE CHIARA FERRAGNI! She’s an Italian model and designer who is just out-of-this-world beautiful. When I saw on her Instagram that Laduree was creating  a limited edition box for her, I wept. I didn’t think it would be in my cards to add one of these macaroon boxes to my collection, because I had just come back from Paris – who knew when I would go back! I didn’t think that these editions would be available in New York! I’m so happy to add this box to my slowly growing (real slow – I’m at two) collection of Laduree boxes!

Now, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m an educator. There’s no big pay cheque that comes along with that career. And, as such, Madison Avenue was a pleasure for the eyes and that’s about as far as it went.

I was immensely envious of  those I saw shopping in stores like Chloe or Chanel. I spent most of my time wishing I was a lottery winner who had money to just fan myself with, as I entered these stores. I knew I wasn’t fooling anyone when I went into Chanel; no clerk walked up to me to ask me if I needed help (until I was in perfume; anyone can afford perfume!). It’s a mean thing to assume about an individual who has the potential to be a paying customer, but in my case, it was totally valid – haha!

Window shopping was enough. I loved to imagine myself with the collection of YSL perfume, the funky Prada bags of the season, and the cape coats in Chloe windows. It’s nice to dream. And I’m not known to be a dreamer for nothing!

If you were on Madison Avenue and were given the opportunity to buy ANYTHING you wanted, no questions asked, money was no issue, what store would you stroll into, and what would you buy? Let me know in the comments!


NYC Trip : Part 1 – Amazing and Exciting First Day, Exploring What the City has to Offer!

Hey there,

New York City. So often is it called the best city in the world. So frequently was I told how much I would love it. My brother also tried to tell me that I would forget about Paris with this visit. I’d like to mention, before I begin, that all the aforementioned rumors are, in fact, false.

Listen, New York City is really nice. And I’d be lying if I said I got to explore it all, because I definitely missed a lot of key visiting locations and need to go back again. But, best in the world? No way. Utterly amazing, so much so that I’ve fallen in love? No, also incorrect.

New York is a city like most American/Canadian cities. Okay, wait, that’s not totally true. New York City is significantly larger and more “happening” but along with that comes crowds and overwhelmingly busy neighbourhoods. There’s a lot of pushing,  a lot of homelessness, and a lot of in-your-face consumption. It’s a Western city; what did you expect?

But New York City also has Broadway, and that’s amazing! And it has some HUGE shopping destinations which are immensely impressive. And it has more history than a modern Canadian city has! Overall, I enjoyed the destinations I visited, the people were quite nice (majority of people thought we were New Yorkers and that was, in some way, an exciting compliment to me!), and the food was also very good. Those are three key aspects of a successful trip, in my opinion.

So, where should I begin with my sharing of my trip with you!? I’m going to break down my visit into key aspects/topics I’d like to make a focus for my blog, much like my Kiehl’s focus from yesterday (which I highly recommend reading). Let’s start with my hotel, my first day exploring the city, and Times Square…

I stayed at The Iroquois, thanks to the company I went to NYC to have a meeting with.

The Iroquois is beautiful, there is no doubt about that. Centrally located in Midtown Manhattan, it’s mere steps away from theatres, Times Square, and Restaurant Row (where fantastic restaurants line a gorgeous street). It’s safe, and it’s happening around The Iroquois. And we certainly felt too poor to be staying there (haha!)!
The service in this hotel is quite wonderful. The people working here don’t like to let their customers down and will go out of their way to assist. You can tell you’re in an expensive hotel when everyone around you is working to make your stay pleasurable.

But I would give it three stars.

And so, you may wonder why I’m giving it a three stars. It’s definitely not for lack of quality service but for some experiences that were weird and out of the hotel’s control.

It’s an old building, and, as such, the heating and cooling system is DAMN LOUD. If you are an individual who can’t sleep unless you have silence, you’re not going to enjoy your experience. When the heating turns on, it sounds like a freight train.

We also had two very strange experiences with the faucet in the shower. The first day we stayed and turned it on and a CHUNK of knotted hair flew out with the water! WHAT?! It was like something from a nightmare. This happened a SECOND time on our last day of stay. Same thing; chunk of knotted brown hair came from the FAUCET (not the drain!) with the stream of water! We told front desk and at this point already had payment approved for our room so we got a very deep apology and a bottle of wine and chocolates (there’s that amazing service, again).

We also had a situation where we scheduled a cleaning of our room with the front desk and we returned to an untouched room. Again, front desk were flabbergasted by this and gave us complimentary breakfast.

The classic building, the helpful staff and the location of the hotel make this a great place to stay, but the price gets questionable when you consider the aforementioned hotel building issues (and one-off cleaning concern). Granted, I didn’t pay for this hotel stay, but I was aware of what it went for, each night. ALSO! James Dean used to live in this building (when it was an apartment) so it kind of “ups” the coolness of the entire place — haha!

We arrived really late on Thursday night (delayed flight after delayed flight) but the following morning, I had a few moments to explore NYC on my own before my Uber came to pick me up for my meeting. My immediate experience of that walk to Times Square (only a block away, remember) was a negative one, as a construction worker said “hi” to me, with an immensely creepy look. Unwelcomed greetings; not a great start. But then as I walked into the crowd standing outside of Good Morning America by complete accident, I was back into the moment. I realized where I was. I was amazed by what surrounded me.

It was that night that I discovered the true wonder of Times Square. It’s so bright that it feels like day time, no matter how late the hour is upon which you wander the area. It’s really unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, but I’ve also never been to Japan (bucket-list destination #1!), which I imagine is quite similar.

New York City’s finest (NYPD) were everywhere, smiling at those who passed. Stores were begging me to come in (I loved the Disney store!). Street food beckoned me (endless pretzels, yes please!). It was a lot to take in, but it was amazing. Definitely a unique experience, one you’d only find in New York City.

After my morning meeting, J and I had the rest of the afternoon to explore the city. We started with lunch at 9nine, an Asian Fusion restaurant populated by business people on their lunch break, and it was, without question, the best meal of the trip. It was inexpensive but packed with amazing flavours and textures. It was a great start to the food experience that New York offers visitors.

I loved walking the side streets of New York. They were just like you see in the movies; fire escapes cascading down buildings, beautiful sets of stairs leading up to gorgeous, thick, old wooden doors, people sitting on balconies watching the streets below. It really had a cinematic feel no matter where you wandered. I liked this less busy side of New York City. It reminded me a lot of Toronto streets, but with unique, tiny shops I knew I wouldn’t find anywhere else.

We continued this trek to the southern tip of Central Park and sat down to take in the city from a new perspective. Unfortunately, due to feet in pain and not enough time (2 days aren’t enough for NYC), that’s all of Central Park that we got to experience. I didn’t even see Strawberry Fields! So I will definitely have to return to explore that park more thoroughly.

After a bit of mindless wandering, we ended up on Madison Avenue, a street populated with really high-end stores, and made pretty famous to non-New Yorkers by the show Mad Men. I’m going to save that dream-street for another blog post…

We decided to purchase tickets to see a show that night – we went to see Game Grumps. Now, if you don’t know who Game Grumps are, they’re a big “lets play” comedy team on YouTube, and J and I are huge fans! (A side of me you likely didn’t discover from this blog — I’m a HUGE nerd.) The tickets were so inexpensive, and we knew we wouldn’t come across another opportunity like this, to see them. It was a complete fluke that NYComicCon was happening in NYC at the same time we were there, and we were lucky to stumble across these tickets on StubHub. It was a great show!

After the show, we had a late night dinner at Becco, Lidia’s restaurant on Restaurant Row. For a slightly more up-scale restaurant, the food was really underwhelming. The flavour choice seemed to be pepper, and not much of anything else. Considering Lidia is a food Goddess to many Italians, this was a disappointment.

We didn’t have an opportunity to go back to Restaurant Row, but it was a really impressive street (W 46th) with so many gorgeous little spots to dine in.

Day one, dipping our toes into what NYC had to offer, was a lovely success. I found the organization of lines for the shows to be immensely chaotic (especially for a big city who has a large focus on theatre), as we had to literally WRAP AROUND AN ENTIRE BLOCK in order to get into the theatre to see Game Grumps. We waited for at least an hour and a half. And I’m not kidding when I say wrap around a block; we did a full circle around the entrance. It was insane.

Stay tuned to the next blog post, as I write about my favourite spots on Madison Avenue, and then continue to share my trip with you! Thanks for joining me on my trip 🙂

Have you ever seen a show in NYC? Let me know, in the comments below! And if you haven’t, what show appeals most, to you?