Friday, February 28, 2014

February 2014 Dior Secret Diva Unboxing

The Secret Diva subscription service provides you with 12 Secret Admirer boxes, one for each month of the year in 2014. This service is intended to be gifted to a loved one (hence, Secret Admirer), but I just bought it for myself. Products can range from skin care to cosmetics to fragrances. Dior is expensive and this subscription is no exception. The auction priced the 2014 Secret Diva subscription at $600. You are not guaranteed a value in each box, but judging from some of the 2013 unboxings from likesthelook, there are a number of months where the value of the product exceeds the monthly "price" - in any event, 100% of the proceeds go to charity so I view the price tag as a donation and I am not too concerned about the value in each box.

The Dior Secret Diva box is supposed to arrive on (or before) the eighth of every month, since 8 was Christian Dior's favourite number. Once again, it arrived a few days ahead of schedule! This box was shipped via UPS and it contained a letter informing me that I have a secret admirer, hehe. There was one full size product included in this month's box. It was packaged beautifully in a "luxe couture gift box" and tied with a ribbon. The box is really thick and heavy duty... photos don't do it justice. I am definitely going to re-use the boxes for storage or gift giving.

My second Dior Secret Diva box contained the Backstage Eye Prime, which is a "Long-Wear & Smoothing Eye Primer." I haven't tried this product yet, but if it's anywhere near as good as the Pore Refiner I received last month, I will be in love!

The letter I received in the box notes the following:

This new eye primer has a weightless, creamy texture that glides onto the skin creating the perfect base for the eyelid. It instantly helps to smooth the eyelid and prep the lid by evening the complexion. This universal shade not only extends the wear of your eyeshadow, it also keeps the color even, prevents creasing and helps eyeshadow colors to appear more intense and true.

All of the products I've received so far (including the nail polishes from my Polished Diva subscription) are from the 2014 Spring Trianon collection. I love that I am getting current products, some being limited edition. This is a really fun way to try out new products I wouldn't typically think to purchase for myself.

For more information about this and the Polished Diva subscription, please click here!

Click here to see all my Polished Diva boxes
Click here to see all my Secret Diva boxes

February 2014 Dior Polished Diva Unboxing

Polished Diva is a Dior nail polish of the month club that runs for a full calendar year. The auction priced the 2014 Polished Diva subscription at $250 and there were 15 subscriptions available for purchase. The box must ship well in advance of the first of each month... I received the February box on January 29! It shipped via FedEx and the box is rather large considering there was only a letter, a small gift bag, and a nail polish inside.

Similar to January, this month's nail polish is part of the 2014 Spring Look Collection: Trianon. I received 187 Perlé, which is another limited edition shade. I was surprised to find this is a matte topcoat with iridescent shimmer that becomes a gorgeous lavender in certain lighting - it's beautiful and unique. I was very happy with this month's Polished Diva box! :)

Here is a not-so-good swatch photo. The polish is much more stunning in real life.

(I'm wearing Julep Alaina & Dior Perlé)

For more information about this and the Secret Diva subscription, please click here!

Click here to see all my Polished Diva boxes
Click here to see all my Secret Diva boxes

Friday, February 21, 2014

How to Dye a Leather Bag featuring Balenciaga Pompon

Last weekend, I dyed my beloved Balenciaga Pompon (2009 Agneau Leather). The original colour was Granny (a beautiful yellowish green - just like a granny smith apple), and while I loved the colour when I bought it, I used the bag a lot and it became quite stained. Around a year ago, I got the idea in my head that perhaps I should dye it black. I did a ton of research and went through a lengthy pros & cons process before making my decision.

  • Black bags get more use in my wardrobe and I wear them in all 4 seasons. Granny is more of a seasonal colour and I found I only wore mine in the spring/summer or on vacation.
  • I've been contemplating purchasing a Pompon in Black or Anthracite because I love the style. Dyeing the bag would satisfy my urge to make a purchase, even if only temporarily.
  • I didn't want to pay big $ to restore the colour and then sell the bag. Not only because it is a significant time and financial investment, but also because this Pompon was my very first Balenciaga and I did not want to sell it.
  • It is risky to change the colour of a Balenciaga. The bags are expensive and I wasn't sure how the colour would hold up.
Since this can be quite a scary decision, I definitely recommend doing some research before embarking on a similar dye DIY. Below are links to a couple of resources I found very helpful when deciding whether to dye my bag:
When I was 99% sure I wanted to dye the bag, I ordered the dye kits on ebay and continued to think about it while I waited for my package to arrive. Finally, on Family Day weekend, I decided to take the plunge!

The entire process took me 3 days with drying time and actual work time was probably around 6 hours (around 2 hours per day).

Here is what you need:
  • A large workspace - a tiled floor works well
  • Bedsheets, garbage bags, paper, or puppy pee pads to cover the workspace
  • One Tarrago Color Dye Self-Shine Kit (contains instructions, 25ml preparer, 25ml dye, small sponge, and small brush)
  • One Fiebing's Leather Dye Kit (contains 118ml dye and cotton dauber) - this is a penetrating dye but it doesn't say that anywhere on the packaging
  • Waterproof gloves
  • Mildly abrasive scrubber sponge
  • Small foam brush
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton swabs or a small concealer/makeup brush you no longer use
  • Old washcloth
The basic steps are outlined below:

Step 1 - Prep the leather by using the "Preparer" included in the Tarrago kit. Work the product into the leather by buffing it in with a mildly abrasive sponge.

Step 2 - Apply a thin coat of the Fiebing's Penetrating Leather Dye right after preparing the leather (do not wait for the leather to dry). Use a small foam brush to apply the dye to large areas and the dauber to apply the dye to nooks & crannies. When the bag is somewhat dry to the touch, apply a second coat. Let dry for 24 hours.

Optional - Once your bag is dry to the touch, weigh your bag down with books and hang it up to stretch out the leather.

Step 3 - Apply a thin layer of the Self-Shine Dye included in the Tarrago kit. Work the product into the leather with a sponge in a circular motion. Use a small foam brush to apply the dye to large areas and the small brush included in the Tarrago kit for the nooks & crannies. Wait a few hours and apply a second coat. Touch up the bag with the small brush as needed.

Step 4 - Clean off any hardware with some rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs (or a small concealer brush, which I highly recommend).

That's it! I purchased 2 of each of the dye kits but I only needed 1 of each. I am going to keep the rest in case I have to do touch ups... or perhaps I will dye another bag down the road!

Overall, this was a relatively easy (albeit time consuming) process. I love the way my bag turned out and I am so happy I decided to dye it! The leather is not stiff or sticky or dry and I think it has retained the characteristic Balenciaga smooshiness. I plan to use this bag a lot and I am also planning to take it with me on vacation in March/April. If you have any questions on how the dye job is holding up, please feel free to ask and I will provide an update. :)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Travel Tuesday . Big Island . January 2013

Hubs and I went to one of our favourite travel destinations in January 2013. It was our 4th trip to Hawaii but our first time on the Big Island. Things were very hectic leading up to the trip... as a result, I forgot to pack my DSLR battery charger and a memory card for my point-and-shoot. Grrrr, I feel quite discombobulated when I don't have a camera on hand, but rather than panic, I decided to just use my iPhone instead. It was liberating and I think I actually enjoyed the trip even more because I wasn't as focussed on taking photos.

Hubs and I adore Hawaii and I think the Big Island may be my favourite (we've also been to Oahu and Maui)... there is so much variety in terms of climate and things to do. It's a very laid back island and it's huge so there are often very few people around. We rented a car for our 2 week trip and travelled literally all around the island. While I loved Kona (hot and sunny), the Volcano (cold and barren), South Point (windy and dusty), Hilo (rainy and lush), and Waipio (gorgeous and sacred) also have special places in my heart. We chose perfect accommodations and I wouldn't hesitate to do this exact itinerary again.

For this Travel Tuesday post, I decided to do a collage-a-day (or thereabouts), using a mix of photos from my iPhone and hubs' point-and-shoot camera. :)

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. In transit. // 7. 8. 9. Our huge room at Silver Oaks Ranch... the owner gave us a papaya, a dozen farm fresh eggs, and a box of chocolate covered macadamia nuts.

1. 2. Making breakfast... I love having breakfast at "home" when we're on vacation. // 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Hiking through lava fields to the beach. // 8. 9. Dinner in Waikoloa.

1. Sausage, eggs, and garlic toast. // 2. 3. Goats at the ranch. // 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park. // 9. Dinner at Quinn's Almost by the Sea.

1. 2. 3. Missing Lulu & Truffle. // 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Watching U.S. Air Force training runs on Makole'a beach aka our private black sand beach for the day. // 9. Shopping.

1. Another windy day at Ka Lae, the southernmost point of the U.S. // 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Hiking to Papakōlea Green Sand Beach. // 8. 9. Sunset at Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park.

1. Fresh bananas from Rick at Silver Oaks Ranch! // 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Hiking across beaches and through lava fields to the beautiful golden freshwater ponds of Keawaiki. // 8. Hubs wanted to make another sign for Lulu & Truffle. // 9. Relaxing in our private hot tub.

1. Found this little guy in our kitchen. // 2. Drove across the island via Saddle Road to Volcano Village. // 3. 4. Our first look at Kilauea Crater in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. // 5. Thai food for dinner. // 6. Back to Volcanoes National Park after sunset. // 7. Loved having our own little cottage to come home to!

1. 2. 3. Kīlauea Iki Trail. // 4. The silence was deafening on the road to Holei Sea Arch. // 5. 6. 7. Where the road ends and the lava begins. // 8. Tea nook at the Volcano Teapot Cottage.

1. 2. 3. 4. Punalu'u Black Sand Beach Park. // 5. 6. Such a cute little cottage. // 7. 8. Looking into Kilauea crater at night.

1. 2. 3. Breakfast at the cottage. // 4. Checking in at Island Goode's just outside Hilo. // 5. An amazing breakfast the next day courtesy of Island Goode's! // 6. 7. Exploring Hilo. // 8. 9. Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo & Gardens.

1. Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo & Gardens, continued. // 2. 3. 4. 5. We fell in love with Einstein the cockatoo. // 6. A quick saimin dinner. // 7. Scenic drive back to our B&B.

1. Such a quaint bed in the Hilo Bay Room. // 2. Another delicious breakfast spread. // 3. 4. Relaxing outside the room. // 5. 6. Meeting the animals on the farm. // 7. Welcome pupus at our next B&B - avocado and cacao nibs (YUM!). // 8. The view from our little studio at Waipio Rim B&B.

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Hiking to Waipio Valley. // 7. 8. 9. Dinner at Blanes Drive Inn.

1. 2. 3. 6. Breakfast on our private lanai. // 4. 5. Dottie and Sam. // 7. 8. Driving back to the sunny Kona coast to catch our flight. // 9. Enroute to Toronto.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

January 2014 Empties

A great start to the year in terms of empties! I feel so motivated to get through my products. :)

* = Disliked the product - would not repurchase
** = Liked the product - might or might not repurchase
*** = Loved the product - would repurchase

1. Tresemme Tres Two Freeze Hold Hairspray
Source: Purchased by me
Thoughts: This is my favourite hairspray; however, since it is not cruelty free, I'll be looking for a new favourite. I have one more canister of this.
Rating: ***
Cruelty Free: No (Source: PETA - see results for Alberto-Culver)

2. Aveda Rosemary Mint Shampoo
Source: Hotel sample
Thoughts: I'm not a fan of this shampoo - it smells a little medicinal and I find it drying. My hubby really likes it though.
Rating: **
Cruelty Free: Yes but parent company Estee Lauder is not (Source: PETA)

3. Damana Shampoo with Extracts of Juniper
Source: Hotel sample
Thoughts: This shampoo was alright but nothing special. Again, my hubby likes this one.
Rating: **
Cruelty Free: Yes (Source: Damana website)

4. Ella Baché Shampoo
Source: Hotel sample (Japan)
Thoughts: I loved this shampoo! It was gentle yet effective and the suds were super soft. It smells nice too.
Rating: ***
Cruelty Free: Unknown

5. Silk Elements Luxury Moisturizing Conditioner
Source: Swap with Pebbles
Thoughts: I enjoyed trying this product, but it didn't do much for my hair.
Rating: **
Cruelty Free: Unknown

6. Global Goddess Shine Coconut Amla Revitalizing Hair Treatment
Source: November 2012 Beauty Box 5
Thoughts: This made my hair SO oily... I have a feeling I used too much. I think I have another packet of this so I will try it again and perhaps my rating will change.
Rating: *
Cruelty Free: Unknown

7. Michaels Mini Soap
Source: Swap with Sarah
Thoughts: This soap was really cute and it smelled nice... otherwise, it was nothing too exciting.
Rating: **
Cruelty Free: Unknown

8. Dot & Lil Winter Tangerine and Mint Soap
Source: Purchased by me
Thoughts: This is one of my favourite soap brands but I am probably going to stay away from mint soap as I find it too tingly. The scent was amazing though and it was non-drying.
Rating: **
Cruelty Free: Yes (Source: the owner!)

9. Olay Body Bar Soap
Source: Purchased by me
Thoughts: I'm not sure which type of bar soap we have but I like it. It's very creamy and smells nice. The shape of the soap is quite ergonomic and fits my hand nicely!
Rating: **
Cruelty Free: No (Source: PETA)

10. Bambu Earth Salt Glow Sugar Cookie Body Polish
Source: February 2013 SeasonsBox
Thoughts: I loved the scent of this! Unfortunately, since it's a salt scrub, it really stung when I got it in cuts I didn't even know I had... so I avoided using it. Eventually, I used it as a bath salt so I could get through it. I love the jar so I'll be washing it out and re-using it in my home.
Rating: **
Cruelty Free: Yes (Source: Bambu Earth website)

11. Tree Hut Shea Sugar Body Scrub in Coconut Lime
Source: February 2013 Beauty Box 5
Thoughts: This product is amazing!! It is gentle yet exfoliating and it smells divine. Maria bought me a huge container of this in our swap so I have lots more to enjoy! :)
Rating: ***
Cruelty Free: Yes (Source: Tree Hut website)

12. Organic Apothecary Sinus Blend Shower Tablets
Source: November 2013 SeasonsBox
Thoughts: This is supposed to smell like eucalyptus but it didn't smell like anything whatsoever. I was surprised since the tablets are well reviewed on Etsy. Maybe these were old.
Rating: *
Cruelty Free: Unknown

13. Crabtree & Evelyn Rosewater Body Lotion
Source: Gift from my sisters
Thoughts: Such a wonderful product! The scent is lovely (not artificial or cloying) and the lotion is light yet moisturizing. I loved using this product.
Rating: ***
Cruelty Free: Yes (Source: PETA)

14. Mr. Pumice Purple Pumi Bar
Source: Swap with Pebbles
Thoughts: This is the best pumice bar I've ever tried. I find a lot of pumice bars either hurt or don't do anything to take off dead skin so I rarely use them... this one is very abrasive yet oddly gentle.
Rating: ***

15. Korres Wild Rose 24-Hour Moisturizing and Brightening Cream
Source: Sephora sample?
Thoughts: I thought I would really like this cream but it was a little sticky on my skin. I'm going to check to see if I have another sample of this so I can try it again.
Rating: **
Cruelty Free: No (Source: Paula's Choice)

16. The Body Shop Aloe Soothing Day Cream
Source: Purchased by me
Thoughts: I really really like this cream - I prefer to use it at night because I find it a little too heavy for day use. I store it in the fridge so it's very cooling and soothing when I put it on at night before bed. This is probably the perfect summer night cream for me... in the winter, I prefer something a little heavier so I paired it with a facial oil.
Rating: ***
Cruelty Free: Yes but parent company L'Oreal is not (Source: PETA)

17. Bioderma Hydrabio Serum
Source: Sephora sample?
Thoughts: I liked the texture of this serum - it was very creamy and soft. The sample was tiny (I only got 1-2 uses out of it) so I couldn't really tell if it did anything for my skin.
Rating: **
Cruelty Free: No (Source: Paula's Choice)

18. Neutrogena Men Triple Protect Face Lotion with SPF 20
Source: Free sample
Thoughts: I didn't try this product but my hubby finished it and dropped it into my empties bag. I thought it smelled alright and he liked the product.
Rating: **
Cruelty Free: No (Source: Paula's Choice)

19. Nivea Gentle Toner
Source: Purchased by me
Thoughts: This used to be my favourite toner and I still love it; however, I am switching to a fragrance free and cruelty free alternative.
Rating: ***
Cruelty Free: No (Source: Paula's Choice)

20. Pelle Beauty Stellar Multitasking Facial Oil
Source: 2013 Beauty Board
Thoughts: I love this product - it does wonders for my skin and has so many uses. I use it as a base before I apply clay masks and I also apply it every night before I go to bed. It contains a mix of various oils and I really like the scent. It is very lightweight, fast absorbing, and non-greasy.
Rating: ***
Cruelty Free: Yes (Source: Pelle Beauty website)

21. Airelle Facial Serum
Source: July 2013 Beauty Box 5
Thoughts: I enjoyed trying this product but it didn't do anything for my skin.
Rating: **
Cruelty Free: Yes (Source: Airelle website)

22. My Beauty Diary 10th Anniversary Limited Edition Deep Hydrating Mask
Source: Purchased by me
Thoughts: Love this mask! The scent was wonderful and I found it really hydrating.
Rating: ***
Cruelty Free: Unknown

23. My Beauty Diary 10th Anniversary Limited Edition Intensive Brightening Mask
Source: Purchased by me
Thoughts: I liked this mask but I preferred the LE deep hydrating mask.
Rating: **
Cruelty Free: Unknown

24. My Beauty Diary Black Pearl Mask
Source: Purchased by me
Thoughts: This was a free mask that was included in the 2 boxes of LE masks I purchased. I thought this mask was alright but I preferred the LE deep hydrating mask.
Rating: **
Cruelty Free: Unknown

25. Kosé Cleansing Sheet Type
Source: Hotel sample (Japan)
Thoughts: These are cleansing cloths that I used as body wipes. I've had them since 2009 (oh dear) but they were still very moist! There were two wipes in the packet and despite not being resealable, the second wipe did not dry out after 1-2 days. I liked these.
Rating: **
Cruelty Free: Unknown

26. Cotton Rounds from Target
Source: Purchased by me
Thoughts: Not too much to say about these - they were alright.
Rating: **
Cruelty Free: Unknown

27. NARS Pro-Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base
Source: Sephora sample
Thoughts: I thought this primer was good but it was a little bit more sticky than the UD primer potion. As a result, I found it a little more difficult to blend out my eyeshadow.
Rating: **
Cruelty Free: Yes but parent company Shiseido is not (Source: Paula's Choice)

28. Lancome Hypnose Star Mascara
Source: Sephora sample
Thoughts: This mascara was alright... I prefer the Hypnose Drama version.
Rating: **
Cruelty Free: No (Source: Paula's Choice)

29. Victoria's Secret Endless Love Fragrance Mist
Source: Gift from one of my sisters
Thoughts: I liked applying this scent right before bed.
Rating: **
Cruelty Free: Yes (Source: Paula's Choice)

30. Mont Blanc StarWalker
Source: Purchased by my hubby
Thoughts: This is another product my hubby popped into my empties bag! I guess he likes participating in my monthly empties... although he doesn't want to be in the videos hehe. He liked this scent a lot when he first got it, but by the time he was done the bottle, he was just ok about it. I think this scent is ok - it's quite different from scents that he normally wears.
Rating: **
Cruelty Free: Unknown

31. David's Tea Copabanana
Source: Free sample
Thoughts: This tastes very strongly of coconut, which I don't mind, but it also contains artificial flavours. :(
Rating: **

32. David's Tea Mom's Apple Pie
Source: Free sample
Thoughts: I found this green tea extremely bitter, even though I only steeped it for 2 minutes. I did not like this tea.
Rating: *

33. David's Tea Kenyan Tinderet
Source: Purchased by me
Thoughts: One of my favourite black teas!
Rating: ***

34. Lupicia Honey & Pear
Source: Purchased by me
Thoughts: I thought this tea was alright. It's a roasted green tea, which was nice, but I wanted a little more pear flavour.
Rating: **

35. Premium Soy Mason Jar Candle in Sugar Cookie
Source: December 2013 SeasonsBox
Thoughts: I had mixed feelings about this candle. I liked the scent, the throw was amazing, and the mason jar is adorable; however, the wick burns really dirty even though I trim it every time I burn the candle. It smokes up a storm when I blow it out.
Rating: **

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Late Night Mani

I like to do my nails right before I go to bed. Being the night owl that I am, that meant doing my nails at 4am last night. My technique (and cuticles!) still need a lot of work, but dare I say, I'm starting to think nail art is kinda fun.

(Julep Georgia & Julep Jane)

Friday, February 7, 2014

2014 Goals Update - January

1. Beauty - be more thoughtful about purchases
- Annual goal: reduce spend on beauty and skincare products by 50% in 2014 (vs 2013)
- Annual goal: purchase only cruelty free beauty, skincare, and household products
- Biweekly/weekly goals: to be set throughout the year

UPDATE: I'm doing very well with this! Going the cruelty free route has been a little confusing so I'm still trying to read and learn as much as I can.
- I didn't purchase any beauty products in January and I have no urge to add anything to my collection.
- I've only purchased cruelty free toiletries (shampoo, toothpaste, etc.) and household products (soaps, cleaning products, etc.).

2. Home - continue to organize and declutter
In order to focus more attention on organization, I am increasing my budget for home spend this year. I plan to use the additional budget room for organization, whether it be buying more storage solutions, switching out our furniture, etc.
- Annual goal: none
- Biweekly/weekly goals: to be set throughout the year

UPDATE: I started off strong but I've been lagging due to other commitments and general all around laziness. Here are some things I've done this month:
- I gave away a bunch of clothing/shoes and I'm continuing to put aside items I no longer wear.
- I'm planning a series of de-stash giveaways - the first one being my Valentine's Day giveaway.
- I'm going to be dyeing one of my bags to get more wear out of it (eeks!).
- I'm contemplating consigning a pair of boots I've never worn.
- I've started swatching my nail polishes - I think I've done around 40 to 50 so far, but I've barely scratched the surface.

3. Financial - continue to save money
- Annual goal: meet my annual savings goal
- Biweekly/weekly goals: none

UPDATE: January isn't really a good time for me to save, but I transferred a lot of money into my TFSA and RRSP so that was definitely an accomplishment.

4. Petite Pear Style - create more synergy among PPS channels
I am really good at keeping up with my YouTube channel, but my blog and other social media channels are often neglected. For this goal, I'd like to work on creating more of a brand and synergy around PPS.
- Annual goal: none
- Biweekly/weekly goals: to be set throughout the year

UPDATE: I've made a little bit of progress with this goal; however, I've still been neglecting my blog and social media channels. It's hard to keep up... do you find it difficult or maybe it's just me?
- I created a banner for my YT channel.
- I'm starting to think about what I want to do for my YT channel trailer.

5. Photography - focus on personal projects
- Annual goal: photo-a-day project of Hubs and me
- Annual goal: take annual family portraits for (1) Hubs and me with our pets, (2) my side of the family, (3) Hubs' side of the family
- Biweekly/weekly goals: none

UPDATE: I'm doing well with this goal!
- We took our annual family portrait of Hubs and me with our pets on New Year's Day.
- I only missed 2 days in January for my 365 project. :)

I'm going to try to do monthly blog updates this year, with "try" being the operative word. How are you doing with your 2014 goals so far?

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