A Love Affair x Body Shop Body Butters

Since I was a kid, I’ve had an on-again/off-again love affair with The Body Shop.  The love part being that their products smell yummy enough to eat—at 13, I jokingly convinced my friend that their mango body butter was edible (he was not impressed haha).  The hate part stemming from the fact that paying $20 per tub seems outrageous to a 13-year-old, and also because I shifted away from wanting to smell like a fruit and began to prefer more complex fragrances.

In my last post, I debated the merits of switching over to all natural beauty products.  While fully making the switch is not for me, I think that it is important to incorporate more all natural (or at least naturally based products) into my routine, as long as there is no sacrifice in effectiveness.  Lucky for me, I came to that conclusion the same day that I walked by a huge sale at The Body Shop!

Body Shop Love Affair

Out of sheer curiosity, I slathered a bit of mango body butter on the back of my hand and was instantly sold.  It has a light, clean scent that is very natural and quite different from the artificial and overly sweet fruit scents often found in other products.  The body butter is a rich, heavy cream that absorbs nicely, feels incredibly luxurious and most importantly, is not as greasy as I originally remembered it being.  The Body Shop apparently changed their formula in the years that I deigned to enter their stores, and now that I think of it, I remember their original formula as being more of a translucent, regular yellow salve as opposed to the current opaque, pale yellow cream.  While I’m sure some people hate the change, I personally adore the new, less greasy formula.

Suffering from perpetually dry skin, you should know that I take an obsession with moisturizing to a whole new level.  Not only does slathering on a good moisturizer have to happen immediately after stepping out of the shower, but the last thing I do before going to bed is lotion my hands and feet.  I’ve gone as far as using very moisturizing but horribly inconvenient products such as Vaseline Petroleum Jelly (so difficult to spread!) and even virgin coconut oil (so greasy!) all over.  As weird as this may sound, I’m kind of a lotion snob, which makes it all the more surprising that I’m so impressed with this body butter.  The scents are delicious and long lasting, but are never overpowering.  Although these body butters are not dirt cheap, they don’t break the bank either (Laura Mercier Soufflé Body Crème, I’m looking at you!).  Most importantly , they are one of the few products I’ve found that doesn’t leave oil stains everywhere and isn’t impossible to apply, while still managing to give me noticeably softer and suppler skin.

Body Shop Body Butter Haul

Here are the goodies that I walked out of the sale with… (and yes, there is probably enough body butter here to moisturize a small family for a year!)

Mango Body Butter

Mango Body Butter (Large Size) – I was looking for a fresh scent to use over the summer and this was my favourite of all the fruity ones.  The mango body butter captures the smell of a fresh mango without being artificial or overly sweet.  The scent is very noticeable at first, but not overpoweringly so, and is more fragrant when applied than it is in the tub.  Although it fades slightly throughout the day, it definitely lasts longer than many other body butters I’ve tried.  It’s a simple and sweet scent that can play well with other fragrances if you wish to layer it with another perfume or body spray.

Shea Body Butter

Shea Body Butter (Large Size) – The sale was just too good that I couldn’t resist getting another big one.  On sale for $15 each, both this and the mango were double the size, but $5 cheaper than the regular body butter tubs.  My workplace is “scent-safe” (we aren’t allowed to wear scented products to protect those with fragrance allergies), and this one seemed the least offensive while still managing to smell delicious.  It’s a very warm scent with some milder floral notes that will be lovely to use once summer is over and I either retire or finish my mango butter.  Shea butter is known for its cell regeneration and healing properties as well as the moisturizing and calming effect it has on skin.  This body butter formula features community trade shea butter and is thicker and less wet (more along the lines of a salve) than its mango counterpart.  Despite the product’s stiffer texture, it’s still as easy to apply and quickly absorbs into your skin without leaving behind a greasy residue.

Macadamia Duo Body Butter

Macadamia Body Butter Duo – I love the ying yang swirl packaging and the way the tub is sectioned off into product for normal or dry skin areas.  To be frank, I wasn’t too sold on this one because the dry skin butter was a little too thick—even thicker than that of the shea body butter—but since it was on sale for only $5, I couldn’t resist.  Upon using it, however, I was pleased to find that it spreads and absorbs surprisingly easy with little to no greasy residue (macadamia nut oil is touted for not being too greasy).  The regular sized tub will be perfect to keep on my desk at work and once I finish it up, the split container will be great for taking longer trips as I often like to swap out scents according to my mood.  Some customers have commented that the corners of the ying yang container make it difficult to get the last bit of product out and also that the ratio of product should have been more along the lines of 75% body butter and 25% salve.  Neither of these issues bothers me too much since I don’t mind using a knife to get into the corners, and i’m more likely to use one side all over depending on the weather outside rather than each side for specific dry/normal body parts.  The scent is creamy and natural without being too earthy or  musky, and is probably the mildest of all the scents I purchased.

Sweet Lemon Body Butter

Sweet Lemon Body Butter (Travel Size) – I’m not usually a fan of citrus scents, but this one pulls it off quite nicely.  Rather than being overly tart, I find that it is nicely balanced and more along the lines of a sweet and creamy lemon scent.  This is probably my least favourite of the body butter scents, but it was the only travel sized scent on sale.  The container is the perfect size for carrying around with you or for weekend trips away, and the bright yellow makes it very easy to spot at the bottom of your handbag!

So would I recommend these?  Absolutely!  I can’t seem to get enough of these body butters because they smell delicious, are easily applied and absorbed, and most importantly, they work better than any product I’ve come across in a while!  I adore that they are a more natural—although not completely natural—beauty product, which works perfectly with my new goal of trying to incorporate more of these types of products into my routine.  I won’t make any promises that The Body Shop body butters are the only ones I’ll use from now on as the scent range is quite limited, but this is a fantastic product that will be a staple in this lotion addict’s beauty cupboard.

What is your favourite Body Shop Body Butter scent?  What do you think about the new formula? Love it? Hate it? 

With Love,
Veronique♥

 

[Disclosure:  I purchased these items on my own and did not receive any compensation for this post.  These are my opinions and are in no way indicative of the positions or opinions of the companies mentioned.  Thanks for your support! ♥]

All Natural Beauty x Is it worth the switch?

all natural

For one reason or another, I’ve never seen much appeal in using all natural beauty products.  I love experimenting with this and that, but what matters most is whether or not I see results.  If I love a product that just so happens to be all natural, then that’s FANTASTIC, but I’ve never sought them out specifically for that reason.

In my experience, I’ve found that natural products are often more expensive, have a shorter shelf life (they often lack preservatives) and rarely result in dramatic improvements performance-wise when compared to their regular counterparts.  Between mashing an avocado to use as a hair mask or using an avocado based deep conditioner that has been specifically formulated to penetrate your hair shaft, I’ll take the more effective—albeit less natural—one every time.  While the reasoning behind switching to all natural products makes complete sense from a health perspective, I’ve always figured that it probably isn’t that worth it if I’m still willing to chow down on a McDonalds burger.

Avocado Hair Mask

Re-examining the Benefits

In a recent attempt to find a miracle cure for the bags luggage that has made a permanent home under my eyes, a little digging revealed that they might be excess fatty tissue.  While fat in the eye area is normal and helps to support the eye, the puffiness of my eye bags seemed excessive.  Regardless of how much sleep I get or how long I place cold compresses on them, they never fully go away (especially when I smile)!

I came across a few articles that indicated that the fat in this area—as well as the stubborn exercise/diet-resistant fat everywhere else—may be so difficult to shed because of the chemicals we consume daily and… wait for it… the “nasties” that are being absorbed into our skin through beauty products!  That got my attention.

These nasties, as they referred to in the beauty industry, are supposedly also to blame for a lot of the skin ailments people are experiencing nowadays.  While the extent of that particular statement may be questionable, the David Suzuki Foundation took a look at the “Dirty Dozen“—a list of the 12 most often used chemicals in cosmetics and their effects when absorbed into our body.  According to the article, almost 80% of products contain one of these dozen toxic chemicals, which can include carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, hormone disruptors, plasticizers, degreasers and surfactants.   Okay, so that got a little too depressing a little too fast (I actually had to stop reading articles because it made me want to purge every less than organic product I owned) but it did shed a new whole light on my natural vs. not natural product dilemma.

I have come to the conclusion that for me personally, it IS important to make a more conscious effort to use natural products regardless of the extra cost—but NOT at the expense of seeing results.  The good news is that although natural beauty products aren’t new, the resurgence of their popularity means that cosmetic companies have been forced to step up their game and create all natural products that are better and more effective than ever before.  There are also a few product lines that I’m also very interested in exploring further such as Ren Skin Care (found in Sephora), Michael Todd True Organics (bloggers have been raving about this), and of course, the always creative Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics.

michael todd

Here are a few quick tips for purchasing natural beauty products:

♥ Be diligent about reading reviews!

The trend towards greener cosmetics means that a lot of new products that have come out aren’t tried, tested and true.  This should go unsaid, but I want to emphasize the importance on doing a little digging on new products to find out if they really work, if they smell funny, expire quickly, etc.  Avoid making the same mistakes as other consumers by reading up on what they have to say about each product.  A quick Google search of “[product] review” is all you need.

♥ Be aware of GREENWASHING!

If you’re going to go all natural then it’s important to do your homework because cosmetic companies have been heavily accused of greenwashing (claiming to be more natural or organic than they really are)!  If you’re simply working more all natural or naturally based products into your routine, then this step isn’t as critical, but is still something you should be aware of, especially if it’s the “natural” aspect that you’re paying premium prices for.

♥ Swap out when possible

Swapping products out is easiest with those where results aren’t as important—for example, swap out your heavily fragranced Bath and Body Works shower gel for a more natural one from The Body Shop.  Also, try to swap out some of the products that are the worst for you, like shampoos containing sulfates (sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) or sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES)).  I’ve used both of L’Oreal’s sulfate-free EverPure and EverCreme lines, which are easily found in drugstores and grew in popularity during the Brazilian Keratin Treatment trend as the sulfates in ordinary shampoos washed away the treatment’s smoothing effects.

♥ Purchase in smaller quantities + refrigerate when possible

This rule mostly refers to Lush products, because although I absolutely adore many of their items, I’m often put off by the extremely short shelf life (resulting from the lack of preservatives).  As a result, I always try to buy the smallest amount of product and keep items in the refrigerator whenever possible.  A week or so before a product’s expiration date, I separate the products into single uses and stick everything into the freezer, taking out only what I need for a week at a time.  I’ve heard that this is not recommended by the staff, but personally, I’d rather use the rest of the product up with lower expectations than toss something away that could still have some potential benefit.  I’m also more likely to keep purchasing from the store if I actually use up their products, rather than consider shopping there to be a waste of money by throwing half away each time.

Note: Whether or not you should freeze items will vary from product to product (e.g., freeze a face scrub or a cleanser but not the fresh face masks since freezing will kill the enzymes in certain ingredients)

lush-cosmetics-office

So even if going all natural isn’t for you, try working a few more natural products into your routine—it’s definitely not an all or nothing thing as I had previously thought.  There’s absolutely no harm in doing so, with a world of benefits to be gained if you’re able to find some good ones.  Don’t discount beauty products or makeup for being less effective just because they’re all natural.  There has been a dramatic increase in the quality and effectiveness of natural products in response to the growing market for this trend!

What are some natural beauty products that you have fallen in love with?  Are there any that you’ve tried that are absolutely terrible?  Share your recommendations below!

With Love,
Veronique♥

 

[Disclosure:  I purchased these items on my own and did not receive any compensation for this post.  These are my opinions and are in no way indicative of the positions or opinions of the companies mentioned.  Thanks for your support! ♥]

Sunday Funday.

Willow Stream Spa Sunday

It’s been a rough week, but I think this more than makes up for it…  This is possibly the most perfect place to relax and get some work done 🙂

 

What are you up to on this lovely sunday?

 

With love from Vancouver,
Veronique♥

 

 

 

I heart blogging.

Here are some reasons why I have fallen in love with blogging and some of the reasons why you or your business should get into it too (or join the community!):

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♥ IT PUSHES YOU – For most people, blogging is something new and exciting that brings them outside of their comfort zone.  Since blogs are completely public, they push you to keep working harder and doing better.  Although it was kind of scary at first, nothing is more satisfying!

♥ IMMERSE YOURSELF IN THE INDUSTRY – Find likeminded people, find INSPIRATION.  Become part of the community and you could make connections that couldn’t have been achieved any other way.

♥ BECOME AN EXPERT – From both a business and personal standpoint, delving into different topics enough to write a full post about it forces you to dig deeper and take a more active approach in whatever you’re working on.  It also gives you the perfect platform to showcase what you have done and what you could do.

♥ IT’S NEVER BORING – Your blog is your blog. Whether it be your personal blogmor a blog for your business, it can grow, adapt or evolve into whatever you want or need it to be…

♥ IT GIVES YOU AN EXCUSE TO DO WHAT YOU LOVE – Blogging gives me a creative outlet and forces me me set aside time to do things that make me happy—a passion project, if you will.  But most of all, I now have a legitimate excuse to buy/try/do anything and everything related to beauty, fashion and/or lifestyle… I mean, it’s all in the name of research right?!

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So give it a shot!  If you are willing to put in some time and effort (as much or as little as you want!) you may find yourself as addicted to it as I am!  And if blogging really isn’t your thing, then just keep browsing or maybe contribute and be part of the community.  There are blogs out there for everything under the sun and some of them are truly fantastic… all you need to do is comment, like, subscribe and be inspired!

With love,

Veronique♥

I’d love to hear what some of your favourite blogs are to follow!  Share them below ♥

Using Social Media Tracking Tools to Find Reviews on Products & Services

Research Before You Buy

If you’re anything like me, you like to do research on what you’re buying before whipping out your credit card.  Maybe I’m alone in this, or maybe this is the result of perfectionist tendencies combining with a shopaholic nature, but with the amount of information on the internet nowadays it seems almost silly not to.

Product reviews are generally quite easy to find (the average star rating and number of ratings on Amazon is usually a good place to start), but the same thing is sometimes difficult to say for reviews about services.  Yelp has recently been under a lot of fire regarding review filtering and supposedly using review manipulation to convince companies to purchase account upgrades.  Google Places, on the other hand, is conveniently integrated with Google’s search and map services, but the recent 2010 launch means that its database of reviews is still relatively sparse.

Social Media as a Source of Information

As the social media industry has flourished, people everywhere now have numerous ways to post their every action, thought or feeling.  It would make sense then that these posts provide an unending source of the public’s experience with almost every product and service imaginable.  However, unlike articles and forums, posts on social media platforms can sometimes be difficult to search through—for example, on Twitter, only the first 30 characters as well as your username that count the most for SEO (search engine optimization)—and the number of different platforms makes the manual compilation and comparison of these reviews very time consuming.

Enter the easy-to-use tracking website Social Mention.

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Social Mention: Good in Theory, Poor Execution

To demonstrate my experience with Social Mention, I’m going to use the example of finding a company for cheap, online invitation printing.  A quick Google Search brings up a company called Vistaprint which when typed into Social Mention instantly reveals all mentions of the company across multiple social media platforms, along with a simple analysis of these mentions:

vistaprint

thought that I had hit the review jackpot with Social Mention since what makes it stand out from other tracking tools is its ability to automatically calculate a sentiment ratio (the number of generally positive mentions compared to  generally negative ones) for each search.  The website also allows you to filter the mentions according to whether it is deemed to be “positive”, “neutral” or “negative”.

The results above indicate a sentiment ratio of 9:1 for Vistaprint across multiple social media platforms, which should indicate that most customer experience with the company are generally positive.  To my surprise,  filtering the results to only the negative mentions showed that some of these mentions were not negative at all—the “negative” result below is actually a YouTube video posted by Vistaprint itself to advertise one of its services!

Screen Shot 2013-06-23 at 5.03.30 PM

Looking into this a little further, I found that a large number of the mentions of Vistaprint were incorrectly categorized, so much so that the sentiment analysis is practically useless!  It seems so surprising that a company would keep something up and running that is so blatantly flawed.  Wouldn’t it be easier to remove the sentiment option until the problem is resolved or put a disclaimer that filtering may not be completely accurate?  Oh well, apparently they aren’t too worried about how this may affect the perception of their company and product.

Actual Opinions About Vistaprint

Disappointed by my findings on Social Mention, I visited Vistaprint’s Facebook page to see what people were REALLY saying about the company.  Below are the 10 most recent posts to their timeline.

As can be expected, some mentions expressed neutral sentimentality:

FB Comment Neutral
FB Comment Neutral 2

Other expressed negative sentimentality—multiple posts criticize the quality of the product being sold, with the majority of the negative posts, discussing the company’s poor customer service and lack of problem resolution.

FB Comment Negative 2

FB Comment Negative AD

FB Comment Negative

FB Comment Angry

However, despite these complaints, many Facebook users also had positive things to say about Vistaprint.  In the posts below, customers voiced how pleased they were with final product and fast shipping times.

 FB Comment Positives

FB Comment Positive

So Can Social Media Be Used To Find Customer Reviews?

In short, yes.  The information is there and the ease with which people can post their opinions means that this database will undoubtedly grow.  However, it looks like the technology used in social media tracking is still unable to analyze this information automatically and with some degree of accuracy.

Social media is still a relatively new industry and as the demand for this type of analysis grows, the necessary technology will be developed.  In the mean time, searching through social media posts for customer opinions or reviews can still prove to be a very valuable tool—one that could save you a lot of time, money and headache as a consumer!

Have you come across any tracking tools that have been able to achieve what Social Mention was aiming to do?

With Love,
Veronique♥

[Disclosure:  I did not receive any compensation for this post.  These are my opinions and are in no way indicative of the positions or opinions of the companies mentioned.  Thanks for your support! ♥]

Book Candy x Crazy Rich Asians + Revenge Wears Prada

For a while now I’ve been on the hunt for another good book, but nothing has jumped out at me as of late.  My threshold for sad things is usually maxed out with movies and TV (I actually cried after the Game of Thrones “the Red Wedding” episode!!), so I tend to gravitate towards books that are lighter and happier in nature.  Sadly, I think I’ve finally hit the point where I’ve finished all the must-read chick-lit focused on the younger set and a lot of the genre’s recent offerings sound terribly bland. 

 
I walked into Chapters today for another quick lunch-break browse and walked out feeling like it was Christmas in July (or in this case June)!  I found not one, but two books that screamed “READ ME!”, which is great news for the quilted, black Kobo that has been relegated to the bottom of my nightstand drawer. 
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I grabbed the first book off the shelf solely for the glittery gold cover and shocking pink title—“CRAZY RICH ASIANS” by Kevin Kwan.  Even if you weren’t interested in reading it, the book cover is so great that it would be worth purchasing, if only to display on a bookshelf or side table (seriously, it’s fabulous and the picture simply doesn’t do it justice!).  Here are a little about it from the publisher and a few reviews I came across:
 
Crazy Rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season.
 
“Crazy Rich Asians is an unputdownably funny, original, modern novel. An outrageous satire of the Asian squillionaire set, this book is like a Chinese Dallas meets Pride and Prejudice. The combination of gold homewares, couture, private jets, absurd social rules and snobbery is utterly hilarious. I actually couldn’t put this book down to eat or to watch Downtown Abbey.”
—Plum Sykes, bestselling author of Bergdorf Blondes
 
“Crazy Rich Asians is like Dynasty on steroids with more private jets, bigger houses, and a lot more money. It is the very definition of a beach read. I finished it over a weekend and by the end was longing to see the ridiculously extravagant and over-the-top world that Mr. Kwan had created…. I predict this will be the 50 Shades of Grey of this summer.”
—Michael Carl, VanityFair.com
 
Yes, the title and cover art are what piqued my interest (the book could have seriously been about anything!), but a peek inside to discover that it was a tongue-in-cheek story about the outrageous and über-wealthy Asian set had me completely and 100% sold.  And yes, these people really do exist!  Think of whatever you consider to be wealthy and multiply it by a billion à la Rich Kids of Instagram—where one learns to drive on a Phantom and buys 6 Birkins because it’s a Tuesday. 
 
Having grown up in North America, I can relate to the culture shock of travelling back to Asia for vacations.  While the endless gossip, the obsession with family and reputation and the nonchalant manner in which they publicly point out that you’ve gained weight (despite the fact that you are only a size 2) seem almost normal to me now, I can’t wait to see Kwan’s take on the whole situation.  The current Good Reads rating (think of it as IMDB for books), shows an average of 3.88/5 (from 168 ratings) which is very promising, and I tend to trust these types of websites more than I do the never less-than-raving reviews printed on the book cover or website. 
 
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The second book needs much less of an introduction.  The second I saw it on the shelf, my eyes widened and I grabbed it in the MINE MINE MINE kind of way that is usually reserved only for sample sales.  The man to my left in a helmet and bicycle shorts definitely looked perplexed, but I didn’t care because in my hands was the much-anticipated sequel to Lauren Weisberger’s the Devil Wears PradaRevenge Wears Prada: The Devil Returns.  I absolutely loved the first book and the movie starring Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway is still possibly my favourite movie of all time.  Admittedly, I did read the book eons before watching the movie, so it wasn’t spoiled by the usual disappointment of when a movie doesn’t quite live up to what your imagination has concocted.  Here’s a little bit about the book from the publisher:      
 
Almost a decade has passed since Andy Sachs quit the job “a million girls would die for” working for Miranda Priestly at Runway magazine-a dream that turned out to be a nightmare. Andy and Emily, her former nemesis and co-assistant, have since joined forces to start a highend bridal magazine. The Plunge has quickly become required reading for the young and stylish. Now they get to call all the shots: Andy writes and travels to her heart’s content; Emily plans parties and secures advertising like a seasoned pro. Even better, Andy has met the love of her life. Max Harrison, scion of a storied media family, is confident, successful, and drop-dead gorgeous. Their wedding will be splashed across all the society pages as their friends and family gather to toast the glowing couple. Andy Sachs is on top of the world. But karma’s a bitch. The morning of her wedding, Andy can’t shake the past. And when she discovers a secret letter with crushing implications, her wedding-day jitters turn to cold dread. Andy realizes that nothing-not her husband, nor her beloved career-is as it seems. She never suspected that her efforts to build a bright new life would lead her back to the darkness she barely escaped ten years ago-and directly into the path of the devil herself…
I was very disappointed to see that the current Good Reads rating was not nearly as complimentary for this book—it pulled in a measly 2.83/5 (from 731 ratings).  Nevertheless, this book will still remain on my reading list, since I liked some of Lauren Weisberger’s other novels and I loved the first one too much to completely ignore its sequel.  At least I can go into it with low expectations and the knowledge that this is nothing more than a fun read that I can always put down and come back to later on.  Plus, it would be nice to know what eventually happened to Andy Sachs, and maybe Hollywood will make magic happen and create a sequel that is way better than the book! (Yes? Maybe? Probably not, but oh well.  Fingers crossed!)
 
So, those are the two books that I’ll be reading next.  Yes, I know I’m such a geek but I’m so, so excited to sink my teeth into both of them!  I may also do a quick post once I finish to let you know what I thought. 
 
I’d love to hear what you have to say, so if you’ve read either of them let me know what you think!  Or if you have any other recommendations feel free to leave them below! 
 
 
With love,
Veronique ♥
 
 
P.S.  Here are some links, if you want to pick a copy up for yourself!
♥ Crazy, Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (released June 11, 2013) | Amazon or Chapters
♥ Revenge Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger (released June 04, 2013) | Amazon or Chapters (**Originally $29.99, the hardcover is currently on sale at Chapters for $16.99!)
 
 
 
[Disclaimer:  This is not a sponsored post.  These opinions are my own and are in no way indicative of the opinions or positions of any of the companies mentioned.]

What I’m Loving at the Moment x Soko – I’ll Kill Her (Hannes Fischer Remix)

Who would have thought that bitter, cheated on ex-girlfriend could ever sound so chic?

I can’t seem to get enough of this song! It’s just so perfectly french and despite what it’s about, it makes you happy just listening to it.  This remix pulls off being catchy while still managing to be laid back and is one song that will definitely be on my playlist all summer!

With love,

Veronique♥

“Happy Father’s Day!” from Charlie Sheen?

I came across this press release about the most unique father’s day gift under $5 and couldn’t help but laugh.  It’s a little bit of ridiculous, mixed in with a whole lot of ingenious—but I’d say that a “Happy Father’s Day” call from Charlie Sheen definitely beats out a greeting card!

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If you’re looking for a Father’s Day present for the dad who has everything, or simply or wanting to tell someone “Happy Birthday” or “Get Well Soon”, check out CelebCalls.  This online company lets you to send a personalized phone call from a celebrity of your choice for $3.99, about the cost of a greeting card.  The calls are fully personalized with their name and some content of your choosing.  I took a look at their celebrity roster and was actually quite surprised at some of the people on there—they had Charlie Sheen, Snoop Dogg, Hilary Duff, Mike Tyson, Kendall and Kylie Jenner and quite a few professional athletes.

For holidays like this, I prefer to give gifts that are a little more personal and sentimental, but it really all depends on what kind of things your dad likes and your relationship with him.  I’m the type of person that takes a lot of time and effort trying to find the perfect gift for people so I don’t know if I would give this as my ONLY gift to my dad, but I would, however, consider this next year as a gag gift or as a little add-on in place of a card.  I think it’s a really unique idea for any occasion and is definitely way more memorable than a greeting card!

I don’t know about you, but if I was sick a ”Get Well Soon” call from Snoop Dogg would definitely make me feel better!

With love,

Veronique ♥

What did you get your dad this Father’s Day?  

[Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and I am in no way affiliated with the company mentioned.  These ideas are my own and are in no way indicative of the opinions or positons of CelebCalls…or Charlie Sheen]

Tutorial x How I Refill My Espresso Pods / Capsules

Check out Part 1 of this post | How to Guide x Coffee Pairing

Whenever I make espresso, I use my Starbucks Verismo 585 machine.  I don’t really like drip coffee, so when I was deciding what pod/capsule coffee machine I wanted, it was important for me to get one that had the ability to make espresso.  I still wanted to be able to make drip coffee for my guests, but this machine is perfect for making me a quick americano each morning!

While I do appreciate the amount of time it saves me over using a standard espresso machine or stopping by the nearest coffee shop, the main drawback to these pod/capsule systems is that each serving is still quite expensive (a single shot will set you back about $1.00 CDN before tax).  Additionally, the Starbucks Verismo limits you to only Starbucks blends, and unless you take the time to take the used capsules apart and compost the grounds inside them, they’re an environmental disaster!

Check out my tutorial showing how I am able to refill my espresso capsules–save money, have more variety and be green!

With Love,

Veronique♥

Do you know how to refill the espresso pods for any other pod/capsule coffee machines? 

[Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.  These opinions are my own and are in no way indicative of the opinions or positions of any of the companies mentioned.]

How to Guide x Coffee Pairing

Check out the full article by Rebecca Furtado—“Picking the Right Coffee for Your Dinner Party” that spurred my interest in coffee pairing!

 

 

Coffee pairing seems like such an obvious notion for foodies and caffeine addicts alike, yet somehow it is so rarely discussed despite the ludicrous rate at which we consume coffee.  After delving into the topic further, I did some research and have summarized my findings into a few key points for all of you:
 

 

(Think of this as the coffee version of my Perfect Wine Pairing guide)
 

 

| The Language of Coffee |
 

 

Aroma  x  the scent of the bean when water is passed through it during the brewing process (different than fragrance, which is released when the coffee is roasted then ground)
 

 

Acidity  x  a measure of the dryness felt in the sides and back of your tongue, giving coffee its brightness or snap
 

 

Body  x  how the coffee feels in your mouth – those with a lot of body feel heavier and thicker than those with little body which feel waterier
 

 

The combination of the three above are what give the coffee its flavour and determine the overall effect the brew has on the taste buds of the drinker.
 

 

| The Main Coffee Regions |
 

 

According to Furtado, the base flavour of the coffee is determined by the location that coffee is grown with “different soil and moisture levels in the growing process determin[ing] different flavours inherent in the coffee”.  The three main regions of coffee production are Latin America, Africa/Arabia and the Asia-Pacific region, with each area producing a different bean with a specific flavour profile.
 

 

LATIN AMERICANThin body, nutty flavour, moderate aroma, most do not leave an aftertaste in your mouth.  Known for being well-balanced with bright, tangy notes.
 

 

Body x Light to Medium
Acidity x Medium to High
 

 

Best served with light foods + desserts—rich foods such as cheesecakes or rich mousses may result in the coffee tasting excessively watery.
Compliments nutty flavoured breads and muffins.  Noted to go well with chocolate. 
 

 

AFRICAN + ARABIAN | Bold + hearty aroma, leaves a lingeringaftertaste.  African beans tend to have a citrus flavour with floral notes and Arabian beans tend to have berry/wine-likecharacteristics that sometimes have spice and cocoa notes.
 

 

Body x Medium to Full
Acidity x Medium
 

 

Makes an excellent iced coffee as it does not taste watered down when it encounters ice. Best served with deserts that have a light pastry crust, especially those featuring berries or citrus fruits.
 

 

ASIAN-PACIFIC | Heaviest body, rich + intensely flavoured bean.  They have robust, earthy characteristics that often have floral or herbal notes to them. 
 

 

Body x Full
Acidity x Low
 

 

Goes well with any type of breakfast bread or any dishes featuring cinnamon, caramel, maple or toffee.  It also pairs well with meals where hearty meat dishes are served.
 

 

 
 
| Entertaining with Espresso |
 

 

So whether you’re hosting a brunch with lattes or a dinner party with after dinner coffee or espresso martinis, serving espresso to your guests is a nice little treat.  One of my favourite desserts is affogato which is made by pouring a shot of espresso directly over a scoop of vanilla bean Haagen Dazs.
 

 

[image from cocoakiss]
 

 

 
 

 

With Love,
 

 

Veronique♥
 
 

 

What are some of your experiences with entertaining with espresso? Do you know of any good espresso-based recipes?  Share them below!
 
 

 

[Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.  These opinions are my own and are in no way indicative of the opinions or positions of any of the companies mentioned.]