Wednesday, 28 January 2015

TV Shows I've Been Watching

It's been awhile everyone! I actually went away on vacation to Disney World (hence lack of presence on the blog and Instagram)! I do plan on doing a pretty detailed post of our travels and adventures at Disney World soon. But in the meantime I thought I would share with you this post on TV shows I've been watching!

I've been watching some new TV shows as well as finishing some seasons on others. I thought I would share what those are and write a mini review on what I think so far.

I've been watching this for a few months but I can finally say that I am all caught up! I really like Suits because of all its cutthroat action. It's also very interesting to learn about the inner workings of the corporate law world. Essentially, if you haven't watch this show yet, it's about a character named Mike who claims he is a law school graduate from Harvard, when he never went to law school. He ends up working for one of the biggest law firms in New York City. However, his lie catches up to him and presents him with many obstacles along the way. I also enjoy all of the swanky wardrobe pieces that the female actors wear. My favourite characters are Louis, Mike, Harvey and Donna.

How To Get Away With Murder
I'm a definite lover of the show Scandal by Shonda Rhimes. After all the hype of How To Get Away With Murder, I had to watch it! Plus its made by the same producer, so I knew it would be good and boy it did not disappoint! There is only half of season one that has shown so far but it has definitely been good! It's full of twists, unexpected turns and moments where you're saying 'what just happened....". I'm looking forward to it starting again at the end of January.

Downton Abbey
Since I watched all of the TV shows on my list, I had to find something new to watch. I've heard great things about Downtown Abbey and thought I would give it a shot. I don't normally watch shows dating back to the 1900s but I do like this era. I've only watched until the end of season two and there are a total of five seasons. It's really good! I didn't think there was so much drama during this time period! I like the overall feel of the show, the era, the characters, the clothing, the way of life they lived. It's so interesting and I've learned a lot! My favourite character is the Countess.

What are your favourite TV shows? What would you recommend?


Tuesday, 13 January 2015

How To Get Away With Budgeting!

That's right - how to get away with budgeting! (Clearly I've been watching way too much How To get Away With Murder). Budgeting is always a topic that can be hard to talk about, especially at the beginning of the year after the holidays. If your goal this year is to either save up to go on vacation, plan for emergencies down the road, stay on top of your finances, or just have a little bit of money for treating yourself, then this is the post for you. By all means, I am not an expert on this topic. However, I hope that what I have learned myself can assist you in achieving your financial goals as well!

1.Track Your Spending
You've probably heard it so many times, but it's true! It is so important to keep track of your spending to see where your money is going. Without these trends, you don't really have an indication of what you're really spending or saving. Tracking itself sounds like a difficult task for sure, but there are so many apps out there that will help make the process a lot easier. I personally like to use You Need A Budget  (YNAB). It does have a slight cost, but it's a one time fee for life! You can also start a free trial as well before purchasing, just to feel it out. Another tool that you can use is a spreadsheet, which is what I did before using YNAB. When budgeting be sure to include categories according to your situation (ie. phone bill, water bill, food, gas, entertainment etc...Include items that are expenses but also categories that require you to save. This could include vacation, rainy day, car maintenance etc..). However you decide to track your spending and whatever tools you choose to use, just get it done! Even if it means spending 5 minutes everyday to update your spreadsheet, it's a good habit to build - it will cause less stress, keep you on track and probably make you sleep better. Some apps allow you to scan receipts or to enter in the information through your phone. Get creative!

2. Estimate All Of Your Expenses Ahead of Time
I know you've probably heard this from other people, but estimate all of your expenses well ahead of time. It's the beginning of the year and you can take some time to think about what your weekly, monthly and yearly expenses are. Write down everything from bills, insurance, RSP's, car payments, mortgage, rent, etc. and incorporate this into your budget categories as mentioned above. Once you get into the habit of tracking your spending and expenses, you will be able to estimate your expenses well ahead of time and plan for them accordingly. Don't be too tough on yourself. If you forget to estimate it, just roll with the punches! Sometimes, we can't predict the unexpected.

For example, if your car insurance comes out once a year, you know that you will have time beforehand to save up. Take the total amount of your car insurance ($1200) and divide it by the number of months you have to save (8 months). This amount tells you how much you should be saving each month towards that expense ($150). You can create a specific category in your budget specifically for car insurance and add $150 to that category every month. Or if your mortgage comes out bi-weekly, you know that with every paycheck you must allocate that amount to your mortgage.

3. Estimate What Unexpected Expenses Might Occur For The Year
Make a list of expenses that occur out of nowhere! Car and home maintenance, weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, vacation, an unexpected road trip, clothing splurge and home decor are just a few examples that happen to me. The easiest way for me to save up for these specific expenses is by having a bank account for each major unexpected expense. I then transfer money into each of these accounts every paycheck. Even if it's $5 or $50, every dollar you allocate to those accounts will help you in the long run. For example, start saving for Christmas from now! I did this last year and for once, Christmas didn't break the bank! It might be easier to set this up as an automatic transfer into different bank accounts if this helps. Some examples of what I do include the following.

I'm always busy with social obligations like birthdays, anniversaries, wedding I have an Occasions account that I always put money into. When that time comes, I have the money to spend rather than saying "Oh here goes another $200..."

I don't know about you, but I get these shopping urges where I want to buy something new for my wardrobe. It could be shoes, a dress, a jacket-- whatever it is, I can afford it by putting money away into a clothing category. Especially if you are in a profession that demands you dress professionally, clothing can be expensive. This is one way to off set this.

I also like to buy new things for the house - who doesn't! It can become an expensive hobby and your spending can get out of hand very fast. Instead, I put money away every pay check and save up for an item I really want. Once I have enough saved, I don't feel guilty about spending!

4. Needs Versus Want
How much you spend really does come down to needs versus wants. Things like food, gas, rent, a mortgage and your bills are things you MUST accommodate for in your budget. If there's a new lipstick you want, but the budget can't accommodate, push it until you get paid next or the next month's budget. Don't give into impulse buying. Think about it for a few days. If it's still on your mind, then buy it. Just be sure to make room for it in your budget. Don't spend any money that you don't have.

5. Put Money Into Random Categories Like a Miscellaneous Category
Always put some money away for random things, like that lotto ticket, a gooey slice of pizza, or your favourite chocolate bar. If you have $5 or $20 put away for miscellaneous items, you won't have to try to scrounge up money or pull from another important category.

6. Save!
Save, save, save! Save whatever amount you can every paycheck, every month. Even if's $100 or $500 every month, it's something. You never know when a rainy day can start showering.

7. Use Credit Cards Like Cash
Easier said than done but don't put something on your credit card that you don't have the money for. Don't risk being charged those extremely high interest rates. It's not worth it. In fact I got into the habit very early on but paying off my credit card as soon as I make a purchase so my balance is always zero. Once you get into the habit you will start to really think about what you put on your credit card and you'll get so used to seeing a zero balance, that any other number won't sit well with you.

8. Get a Credit Card Where You Can Collect Points and Redeem
There are some really good credit card reward programs. I have a credit card that collects travel points. Due to this, I put all of my expenses through my credit card to collect as much points as possible. Since I've had this credit card, I've redeemed close to $2000 in travel in about two years. That's pretty awesome if you ask me! If travel isn't your thing there are a lot of other reward programs in movies, gas, groceries. Get something that you know you will benefit from.

9. Fun Money!
This is something my co-worker mentioned to me last year. Basically, you save $2 a day every day of the year and put it into a bank account. At the end of the year you have all this money to spend on yourself! My husband and I did this last year and loved it! We're definitely going to keep going with it this year! Instead of buying a chocolate bar at the vending machine or an afternoon coffee, save $2 and add it to your fun money account! Saving $2 a day is not a hard thing to commit to, in the grand scheme of things.

10. Give It Some Time
When trying out new financial habits, give it some time. You may not see the benefit in a month or 5 months. It may take a year to fully develop your habit and learn what works and what doesn't work for you. After a year of seriously committing to tracking all of my spending, I think have a better handle on my expenses. Nothing has changed over the year. I still bring home the same amount and I still have the same expenses, but I feel as if I have more money in the bank.

I hope this was helpful! If you would like me to expand on a particular point or do another post on other aspects of budgeting, please let me know below.

Do you have any budgeting tips?


Saturday, 10 January 2015

Green Juice Recipe

Hope your first full week of 2015 is going well! I think many of us are just trying to get back into routine and trying to keep our new year's resolutions on track! I got a few I'm trying to stay on top of as well. One good habit I developed over 2014 was making my own green juice and drinking it frequently. I think the main reason for this was just to be healthy and feel healthy. I was truly inspired by Judy and Benji over at It's Judys Life on YouTube (one of my favourite vlogging families of all time!). So I decided to give it a try!

Every since I've started drinking green juice I've seen some huge improvements. The biggest one is that my skin feels and looks so much healthier! It's really rare for me to have a major break out or to have reoccurring pimples on my face. I think the second biggest thing for me is that my hair doesn't fall out as often anymore (not sure if this has anything to do with green juice). I also feel that on the days that I skip my green juice, my body misses it. It's almost like it craves it! Overall, it has made me feel and look a lot healthier.

You really can't go wrong with this juice as you are consuming a variety of different fruits and vegetables along with nutrients and vitamins. It's really convenient to be drinking a glass of green juice and consuming your recommended amount of vitamins per day than to eat about 10 different serving of fruit and vegetables to get the same effect - at least in my opinion!

Here's how I make mine!

I almost always include the same ingredients into my green juice recipe - spinach, cucumber, grapes, pineapple (or pineapple juice), banana, apple and kiwi. On the odd occasion I will include lemon or sometimes parsley.

Cut and wash everything - then throw it into a blender! I don't have a BlendTec (but wish I did) so I make sure to cut the fruit and vegetable into a smaller size to blend easier. I got this one from my local department store. They`re pretty easy to find.

I also include about 2 glasses of water to make it more thin and liquidy (if that`s a word!). I don`t like my green juice thick.

Then blend, blend & BLEND!

Once it`s done, I pour it into mason jars for storage. My husband and I like like to make a batch every few days and store them in mason jars. Mason jars help to keep the green juice fresh, its easy storage and very convenient to take anywhere - no excuses as to why you didn't drink it! The maximum amount of time you should be storing your green juice for is about 48 hours. Go over that limit and it won't taste good and start to rot.

And you`re done! Easy- peasy! Definitely try this out and I guarantee you will have no regrets! It`s an easy and small way to stay healthy and fit for the new year!

Do you make green juice? If so, what ingredients do you use?


Wednesday, 7 January 2015

December Favourites!

It's that time of month again for... December favourites! I have to say that December was truly a great month - with festivities, the holidays, and new years! All I want to do is re-live December all over again!!! For this month, I have a variety of items. Here we go!

I bought this St. Ives body wash about a month ago and finally got to use it! Let me tell you... it smells like heaven! This scent is Pink Lemon and Mandarin Orange and it's amazing! It smells and feels like I'm in the tropical rainforest when I use this in the shower (which is good for me during the cold winter months here in Canada). I want to try out their other scents for body wash as well. I also included the St. Ives body lotion in my November favourites. Love their products!

The Bath and Body Works Aromatherapy body lotion in Eucalyptus Spearmint is to die for! I've been using this particular lotion and scent for a very long time. I ran out of it a few months ago and recently Bath and Body Works had a sale where all Aromatherapy products were 50% off. Of course I bought this! Believe it or not, it does have a very calming and relaxing feel to it.

I don't think one is a surprise to you if you follow me on Instagram. I was in the need of a new foundation for oily skin and this does not disappoint! I took Ingrid Nilsen's and EssieButton's recommendations on this one, as they are dedicated users of this product. I'm really happy about this purchase and love it! It goes on smoothly with a flawless finish and is very long lasting. A definite try!

I have to admit that I am no expert when it comes to the wing-liner look. I try my best and despite trying it so many times, I can still never get it perfect! Anyone else out there feel my pain? I got the Kat Von D Tattoo Liner as a sample when I ordered some makeup products at Sephora. I love it! The tip is probably the finest tip I've ever seen for liquid eye liner. It's also not a hard tip - I would say that it feels like a paint brush. This is useful as you can have more control with your streaks and make very precise lines. It's a definite keeper for a wing-liner! I will also be purchasing a full product size of this when this one is done.

I recently took a picture on Instagram with my latest book splurge - Blog Inc by Joy from Oh Joy! I saw this book as part of a gift guide for Christmas and totally had to get my hands on it! That weekend, I made a trip to Chapters and got it! No regrets whatsover. This is a great book to explain what Blogging and the Blogging industry is all about. For me, I neither have any previous experience blogging, nor am I am expert in the field, so I can use all the advice and words of wisdom I can get about blogging. This has helped tremendously and it is very well written. The book is chock full of practical advice with real life examples and inspiration from successful bloggers in various fields. 

Growing up, board games were such an essential part of just being a kid and having a good time! My husband and I have recently rediscovered our love for board games and just had to get these two classics for the holidays. We literally spent time playing Scrabble and Yahtzee while watching movies. I must add that we can get pretty competitive too! We're definitely going to be growing our board game collection to enjoy together and with friends and family. We're thinking about getting 'Clue' next. Thoughts?

Holiday Items
Since it's my December favourites, it just wouldn't be complete without my favourite holiday items! I have to say that I really enjoyed the Bath and Body Works candles in 'Holiday' and 'Merry Cookie' scents. They smell so good! The best part is that I still have a lot of candle left to burn for next year!

That's a wrap for my December favourites! What were some of your December favourites?


Monday, 5 January 2015

Boxing Day/After Christmas Shopping Haul

Here in Canada, our biggest shopping day of the year is Boxing Day - the day after Christmas! There are big sales, literally everywhere! It's definitely a good day to save up for if you are looking to purchase a bigger item. We needed a mattress for our spare bedroom and got an amazing deal on this day! And since we were out buying a mattress, we also ventured to the mall to see what else we could get (why not!).

Aside from Boxing Day, there were also some year end sales where I happened to pick up a few extra things. Some things were on my wishlist for a long time and some items I simply needed.

Here's what I got!

Bath and Body Works shower gel - they had their semi-annual sale on with amazing deals! Not sure if it's still on....

Bath and Body Works body lotion for the hubby!

I was in desperate need of sweat pants! I got three of them at Ardene's for about $11.00 each as they had a 50% off Boxing Day sale. I didn't get an opportunity to take a picture of the third one but I got a dark grey colour. I love these pants and could live in them if I had the chance!

I got tights and socks from Ardene's, as I also needed those.

Sally Hansen sparkly nail polish! If you follow me on Instagram you'll know that I've been really liking these! The silver glitter is called "Snow Globe" and the bluish glitter is called "Cherry on Top". I wanted some glitter for my nails, as I didn't have any in my collection.

I got these tall, over-the-knee black boots from Aldo. The style is called Tasha. I love them!

Of course, the Holiday shopping season would not be complete without some of these makeup goodies! I got the Tarte blush in 'Blushing Bride'. It shows up as a pink colour in the picture but it has more of a purple tint to it. I was watching Essie Button's video on the Best Beauty products for 2014 and she recommended the Revlon Colourburst lip balm. I got 'Sultry'. I also picked up a red lip liner as I recently lost mine and cannot find it anywhere! We all know how crucial it is to use a red lip liner when wearing red lipstick. I haven't tried the Annabelle brand before, so I hope it doesn't disappoint!

That's it! Comment below if you would like me to do a review on any of these products. I will probably do a review on the makeup items for sure.

Did you buy anything over the holiday season for yourself? Let me know below!


Saturday, 3 January 2015

Movie Review: Into The Woods

Title: Into The Woods
Director: Rob Marshall
Actors: Anna Kendrick, Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp,
James Corden and lots of other actors!
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis: A baker and his wife struggle to conceive a kid when their neighbor, the evil witch, discloses that she has placed on a curse on the baker's father and himself to have their family tree become barren (i.e. never have kids). However, the baker and his wife can undo the spell by finding a series of objects specified by the witch. They must bring her these objects by the blue moon. While finding these objects, the baker and his wife encounter Cinderella, Jack (from Jack and the Bean Stalk), Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood and a few others. Eventually, the plot thickens when all of their lives end up being intertwined deep in the woods. 

My Favourite Part: I really enjoyed the concept and storytelling of bringing several different fairy tale characters together! I don`t know if there are other movies like this. However, there is a TV series, "Once Upon A Time," where are all of the major Disney princess characters are together in the plot. I think this makes the movie very unique.

I was blown away by the costumes and makeup in this movie! It was simply outstanding! Meryl Streep's and Johnny Depp's costumes and makeup were my favourite! I'll be very surprised to see what nominations and awards this movies grabs at the upcoming award season.

Lessons Learned: Fairy tales are typically made to end with the traditional "happily ever after." However, in non-fairy tale life there are always ups and downs. We must accept that everything is not always going to be perfect. There will be happy times and there will be sad times and we need to accept our feelings at these times - even in fairy tales.

Would I Recommend It?: A must see if you like Disney and fairy tales! For me, I grew up on Disney movies and fairy tales. There was no doubt that I had to see this!

My only criticism is that I didn't like how the movie ended.....I don't want to give away any hints or clues on here. However, let me know if you like the ending in the comments below.


Friday, 2 January 2015

What I Got For Christmas 2014

Happy Friday everyone! TGIF and also the first Friday of the 2015, so make it count! I thought it would be neat to share some items that I got for Christmas. I figured that if there is a strong interest in some items, I would be more than happy to do a review and let you know about my thoughts on that item.

I'm at an age now where I don't receive nearly as many gifts as I did growing up. And this is fine! I would prefer it this way, as Christmas is not all about the gifts. It's about the time spent with family and friends. My husband and I still buy gifts for each other. Usually we make a list on each other's phone of things we want. From there we will get each other the things off of our lists and a few fun things for our stockings (We are kids at heart!).

This is what my husband surprised me with in my stocking! I felt like a kid again on Christmas morning! P.S. he also added some things that weren't on my list (Bonus points!).

I got a mini pack of Starbuck's Christmas Blend coffee (I love me my morning coffee :), Starbucks gift card, Lush bath bomb, Lush massage bar in Percup, Hershey Kisses and Reese's Mini Peanut Butter Cups!

Aside from my stocking he got me this awesome hat and scarf, which I really wanted as I didn't have one. He got the hat from Old Navy and the scarf from H&M.

Every year, we have a tradition where we make sure to buy each other a Page-A-Day calendar for our desks at work. Something fun and cool to enjoy at the office! This year he got me this Inspire based calendar which I can't wait to use when I get back to work on Monday.

This one I have to say I'm most excited about! It's a 4-in-1 camera for my Samsung S5! The Samsung S5 takes amazing pictures for a cell phone, but I really want to try and increase the quality of my pictures on the blog for 2015. At this moment, this is the most economical way to do so. I am looking into getting a professional camera later on, but this will do for now. I haven't really used any of the lens or equipment as of yet. If anyone wants me to do a review on this, let me know and I can definitely share my thoughts.

I got this beautiful candle holder from my cousins! Not sure where I will put this yet...

I got these wine glasses from my in-laws which I was very much in need for! I love when gifts are useful and practical!

They also got us this really cute ornament for the Christmas tree! What I really love about this ornament is that it says 2014 on it, so we can always look back and remember when we got the ornament and the memories attached to the year 2014.

I got this box of chocolate from my friend at work, who knows that I LOVE Turtles chocolate!

I LOVE this shirt! I got it from my parents and sisters! It's from Express and funny enough, I've been spying on this shirt all year! They made a good choice!

Before Christmas, all of the cousins organized a Secret Santa and I got this necklace from my Secret Santa. Totally my style and I can't wait to add this to my outfit!

I love all of my gifts and will definitely be enjoying them as we start the new year!

Did you get something off of your wish list for the holidays?


Thursday, 1 January 2015

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone! Can you believe it's 2015?!?!?!!! I hope you spent your News Year`s eve and New Year`s day well!

We didn't have any extravagant plans this year. Our New Year's eve was very low key and quiet. My husband and I went over to my parent's house. We had a whole bunch of appetizers,  a large spread for dinner, mimosas and yummy dessert!

To keep ourselves pre-occupied before the ball drop in New York's Time Square, we decided to challenge ourselves to complete a 1000 piece puzzle before midnight! This is when we started:

This is where we stopped! We didn't complete it by midnight....

Everyone ended up ditching the puzzle to watch the New Year's Eve performances at Time Square. We even ended up playing a round of Scrabble! My husband ended up winning!

Our New Year's day has been quiet as well. We got up and watched about three episodes of 'How To Get Away With Murder' (yup, this is the next TV series I started and it is so good!). My husband has been setting up an IKEA bed frame for a mattress we bought on Boxing Day, and we'll probably end up trying to tackle the 1000 piece puzzle again and maybe a watch a movie or some more 'How To Get Away With Murder'!

I do want to take some time in the next few days to seriously think about my blogging goals for the future. I have some things I'd like to accomplish in the near future as well as some long-term ones. At the beginning of 2014, I would have never guessed that I would have finally started a blog, something which I've always dreamed about. But one day, this feeling came occurred to me and I had to start one! I'm so glad I did and I haven't regretted the idea since!

I want to take this opportunity to thank EVERYONE who pushed me consistently into starting a blog. Without your words of encouragement or support, I don't think I would have had that extra 'push' to get started. I also want to thank all of my dedicated readers and supporters. I really want to take this blog somewhere and go above and beyond what I want to achieve! Lastly, I have to thank my biggest supporter and critic in the universe, my husband! I couldn't and can't do this without you! You are my everything!

I'm really looking forward to 2015 and all of the joys and wonders that will come along with it!

How did you spend your New Year's Eve? Do you have any traditions?