Does everyone already know about baggu? They sell bags of all types, but are especially known for their nylon reusable grocery-type bags. They’re super strong (can hold up to 50 lbs!), and they come in beautiful colours and adorable patterns. Best of all, they come in a little pouch so they’re super easy to carry with you.

I received this one as a Hannukah gift and I can’t get over how handy it is. So often I find myself out and about and I pop in a store and think “darn, I forgot to bring a bag!” and then I remember I have my baggu in my purse and the day is saved.

p.s. Do you wash your grocery bags?

February Birchbox

Here’s what I got in my last and final Birchbox:

  • Harvey Prince Hello Shampoo and Conditioner. I haven’t tried these yet, but they have that same strong cologne-y scent that the hand lotion from the December box had. I’m sure they’ll work fine; I’ve never been wowed by a shampoo and conditioner.
  • Cynthia Rowley Beauty Creamy Lip Stain – Heartthrob. I’ve been searching for the perfect red lip colour for my fair yellow-undertoned skin, and I think this might be it. It’s a gorgeous tomatoey colour in a really comfortable formula. It’s a bit sheer, but can be built up quite easily. Doesn’t really stain the lips, but lasts a good amount of time if you’re not eating or drinking.
  • theBalm cosmetics Cindy-Lou Manizer. A beautiful pink highlight in the cutest packaging.
  • derma e Anti-Wrinkle Vitamin A Glycolic Scrub. Haven’t used this yet as I’m still using the scrub from the December box, but I’m sure it’ll be just another facial scrub.
Swatches of the Cynthia Rowley lip stain and theBalm highlighter.

Swatches of the Cynthia Rowley lip stain and theBalm highlighter.

Overall thoughts on Birchbox

It was fun getting a little surprise in the mail every month, but subscription services like this are to try new products and brands and in only three months, there was a lot of duplicates. In three boxes I got:

  • 2 hand creams
  • 2 facial scrubs
  • 2 lip tints (and 1 lipstick)
  • 3 products from Harvey Prince
  • 2 products from theBalm
  • 2 products from Cynthia Rowley

This just isn’t enough variety. I will not be continuing my subscription.

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To Watch: Broad City

Are you watching Broad City yet? It’s a newish Comedy Central show that follows friend Abbi and Ilana, two twentysomethings in New York City. It’s sort of like Girls, but sloppier and way way more crass, and unlike the characters in Dunham’s show who are pretty terrible friends to each other, Abbi and Ilana are truly soulmates who support each other and never sell each other out.

You watching anything good lately?

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And Now Back to Regularly Scheduled Programming: Suntegrity Tinted Moisturizer

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Sunscreen and some sort of foundation or concealer are products I use almost daily so I’ve had my eye on this Suntegrity tinted moisturizer for a while. This is basically an all-natural tinted SPF that gets good reviews and would turn two of my everyday products into one.

I was reluctant to shell out the moola to get a full-sized tube in case I was disappointed. Then, I discovered that I could buy a sample from Clementine Fields so I tacked one on to a recent order.

The sample is a generous size, but when I first opened it, all that came out was water. Eventually I got to the product itself and, unfortunately, the shade is not right. I got the “light” shade and on me it comes off a tad orange and I end up looking like I have a tan. I can get away with wearing it, but feel a bit self-conscious so I have not worn it outside of the house. What I can say is that it blended out nicely and definitely evened out my skin tone (though that could have been the too-dark shade). However, I can’t really speak to its staying power or effectiveness.

Maybe I’ll try out the fair shade at some point, but for now, my quest for a two-in-one product continues…

Michael Green

I had a post planned today, but I’m writing this instead. This morning, I heard that Michael Green had died. Michael was a important member of the Calgary theatre community. He was a founding member of One Yellow Rabbit, a daring, alternative, subversive theatre company that has been pushing the envelope for decades.

You probably don’t know this, but I was involved in theatre for a long time: I took drama and playwrighting classes in high school, did an undergraduate degree in theatre, stage managed, had a couple of my own plays produced, and participated in theatre in numerous other ways.

In high school, I took a playwrighting class and as a group we went to see a play called Doing Leonard Cohen. This play started with Michael Green fully naked on stage warning the audience about the obscenities in the play we were about to watch while the other cast members dressed him. They play took various Leonard Cohen lyrics and stories and weaved them into a show that was poetry and performance and movement and it was a revelation to 16-year-old me who had never seen anything like it. It totally changed what I thought theatre was and could be.

Many years later, I worked for a Calgary paper and interviewed Michael about a show. I was nervous because he was such an important figure, but he was so kind and interesting and confident. I also had a short-lived stint working the bar at his theatre and got to know him and his kindness a bit better as I served him drinks night after night.

Michael died in a car crash that also killed four other people. So often you hear about these rural highway tragedies and hardly give them a second thought. It’s all I can think about today.  And it’s a good reminder to not take life for granted because any second it can be taken away. Rest in Peace, Michael.

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(Mis)Adventures in Food Blogging Part 2

Let’s talk about kale for a bit, shall we? I know, I know, it’s so trendy, and you likely already have a strong opinion of it that falls into the love or hate category. I was in the latter for a long time, my sole experience of kale being some very bitter, crumbly kale chips. Then one night, I went to my sister-in-law’s and had this kale salad. I had no idea you could eat kale raw and this salad was a total revelation.

My food photography is getting better, though wait until you see the other picture to congratulate me....

My food photography is getting better, though wait until you see the other picture to congratulate me….

If you don’t want to watch the seven minute video, it pretty much boils down to this. Wash and dry kale. Cut kale into ribbons and put in a bowl. Add olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and then massage that kale. This is where the magic happens. The kale loses serious volume here, transforming from its tough nearly inedible state to something that still has a good chew, but is much softer and more digestable. Add chopped red pepper, kalamata olives, and pine nuts and you’re done.

This salad is a perfect accompaniment to those carb-heavy, cheesy meals that seem to be a staple of winter time. Another bonus? Because kale is so dense, even when dressed, this salad keeps super well in the fridge. We like making a big batch and then eating it throughout the week.

This is the only picture I have of the finished product, taken in my car, as I scarfed this down between work and my Tuesday evening class.

This is the only picture I have of the finished product, taken in my car, as I scarfed this down between work and my Tuesday evening class.

Are you a lover or hater of kale?

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The Week We Had to Boil Our Water, I Ate On a Frozen River, and I Was in the Newspaper

Holy smokes, have things been busy lately. Last week, we had to boil our water for two days due to E coli. I couldn’t get Starbucks and Oscar couldn’t drink from the tap, but other than that, it wasn’t too bad.

Last Wednesday, Kevin and I went to Raw: Almond, the pop-up restaurant on the frozen river. A chef from Montreal’s Joe Beef was cooking and there was SO MUCH MEAT. I wish I took more pictures, but here is one dish we had – a soft poached egg in consume jelly.

And last weekend I was in the newspaper for their weekly “On the Night Table” series. The book I talked about has seen a steep increase in the number of holds placed on it at the library!

Hope your last week and a bit was good! Did you get up to anything exciting?

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January Update and February Intentions

My January intentions:

Exercise (at least) six times. Success! With the milder weather, I even managed to run outside a couple of times and I realized how much I miss it.

Don’t buy anything unnecessary. I did so-so with this one, buying a Groupon that I couldn’t pass up, paying for my MBSR course (and parking), and paying for a few other small things. My credit card bill will be $0 this month, so let’s consider this one mostly a success. Can’t wait to buy myself a pair of pants next month.

Eat more vegetables and less carbs. Success. I made an effort to chop up veggies to bring with lunches and found that carb-free breakfasts are really easy. Instead of peanut butter on toast, I’d have a banana and peanut butter. Instead of granola and yogourt, I’d have yogourt and a banana.

February Intentions

Exercise (at least) seven times. I struggled getting six workouts in to last month, so I’m hesitant to make a goal of exercising twice a week. This intention gives me one week to slack off a bit.

Drink more water. I’m rarely thirsty and can go a whole day without drinking water and not notice. I’ve made efforts in the past to drink more water and have really noticed a difference in my skin. This month, it’s going to be all water, all the time.

Journal once a week. I used to be really into journalling and I have half a dozen or so journals chronicling many many years of my life. The last few years, I’ve really slowed down on the journalling front, but I’m determined to bring it back into my life.

Work on my posture. I recently had a massage and was told my spine is a bit curved and my chest is super tight from being hunched over all the time. I don’t want to end up a hunchback, so this month, I’m going to make a conscious effort to sit with a straight back and do stretches that will help improve my posture.

January Birchbox

  • Beauty Protector Protect & Treat Hair Mask. I haven’t tried this out yet, but it has a really great smell (and a pretty pink colour). From the looks of it, it’s just going to be a deep-conditioning treatment.
  • ModelCo Party Proof Lipstick. A matte lipstick in a pinky-nude shade. The formula of this is really good – it goes on smooth, does not dry out the lips, and lasts a long time, but I’m not too crazy about the shade.
  • Folle de Joie eau de parfum. This scent is supposed to smell like “mandarin, rose, and sandalwood”. It’s a little too old ladyish for me.
  • Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre. The packaging for this says it is a “moisturizing cream, milky make-up remover, repairing mask, after shave cream, [and] baby care product”. I tried it as a moisturizer and it’s fine. It’s nice and light and absorbs well, but I prefer my face moisturizers to have SPF.
  • TOCCA Creama da Mano. A lotion in a wonderful grapefruit and cucumber scent.

I’m not as impressed with this box as I was with last month. I’d like to see more makeup and skincare rather than hair and body products, and I just got a lotion sample last month, do I really need another one? We’ll see what February brings…

Graphic Novels

I’ve been reading a lot of graphic novels lately. From left to right:

  • Ant Colony by Michael DeForge. The only one of the above that I haven’t yet read, though the husband enjoyed it.
  • Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoet. A dark fairytale.
  • How to Be Happy by Eleanor Davis. A bunch of bizarre and wonderful short stories and vignettes.
  • The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil by Stephen Collins. Beautifully drawn black-and-grey story about exactly what you would think.

Do you read graphic novels?


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