MaskerAide Virgin #sheetmaskselfie INCLUDED

Fashion & Beauty

When it comes to taking care of my face, my daily routine is simple:

  1. wash face with water in the morning + moisturize with no-name cream
  2. wash face with Dove soap in the evening + moisturize with no-name cream

Seriously. That’s it. I tend to spend more time primping my nails than taking care of my face. The reason: the more I put on my face, the worse it looks. I have very sensitive skin that breaks out easily. I can’t use harsh-smelling lotions or face wash and I refuse to wear foundation or powders. That being said, sometimes my face is in need of some serious TLC.

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Karen Viray is the wonderful woman who sent me four MaskerAide sheet masks – All Nighter, Weather Warrior, Beauty Restore, and Pre Party Prep. I’ve wanted to try them our for a long time (#sheetmaskselfies have plugged up my newsfeeds for months) and I don’t think Karen realizes just how perfect her timing was!

After trying all four sheet masks I am happy to announce that I didn’t break out at all! My skin is a little more radiant and insanely smooth; it even looks hydrated! **EVEN THE FIANCE NOTICED*** MaskerAide sheet masks are easy to use, super gentle, and give you an excuse to close your eyes, blast a Sam Hunt playlist on Youtube, and just unwind. We seem to forget how important it is to have these little moments to ourselves. I promise that twenty minutes with a MaskerAide sheet mask will leave you feeling rejuvenated both facially and emotionally.

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

**Photo from the MaskerAide website**

5 Simple Rules [on trb blog]

Just for Fun, Products and Brands

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You may not be seeing posts as often as you’re used to on My Pen, My Voice, but that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped writing. I’ve started contributing to The Red Bow Blog and my first post went up yesterday!  Check it out here and stay tuned for another short story in Passion8 Mag, as well as, some new posts right here on My Pen, My Voice.

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo 

The Red Bow: Newer + Simpler

Fashion & Beauty, Giveaways, Products and Brands

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I love pretty things and this love brought me into contact with The Red Bow almost two years ago. Since then I’ve written about them several times, shopped on the website on numerous occasions, and even teamed up with them to host a giveaway or two. The mastermind behind The Red Bow is Karen Viray : a smart, passionate, kick-ass woman who has been a source of inspiration time and time again.

I connected with her recently to talk about Th Red Bow. When I asked her what her favourite pretty things are she replied: It is really difficult to choose but I love pretty books, desserts and wallpaper. On The Red Bow, I’d have to say our new macaron-shaped mini boxes. They are honestly so pretty and real looking, I love just having them on my desk or on my vanity. They are actual macaron-size and can hold small things like earrings or breath mints (or Advil, if you’re like me and keep them at your desk – it’s definitely a way prettier way of storing them lol).

When I heard that The Red Bow was getting a facelift and a complete relaunch my excitement was taken to the next level. When I asked Karen why she decided to change things around she told me that since she wants to keep The Red Bow a small business, she thought it would be best to make it as uncomplicated as possible. Simplifying the website and narrowing down the products to better reflect who she is will not only give her time to connect with her customers in a personal way, but it will also help her manage life/work and everything else in a more sane and (healthy?) way. It also gives her the time she needs to keep up her hand-written notes and personal wrapping for her customers.

That, that right there is why I’ve continued to be a huge fan of The Red Bow AND Karen. She says, I see The Red Bow as more of a community, rather than just another dime-a-dozen online shoppe selling similar things as everyone else. I want to grow the trb community with more online engagement, collaborations, blog content, local events and charity outreach.

The store will include three simple sections: PRETTY ACCESSORIES (statement pieces, old favourites, and new goodies), PRETTY BEAUTY (yummy fragrances and the very best Korean beauty products), and PRETTY HOME (art prints, stationery, journals, and even home decor accessories). I have earrings, a clutch, a bracelet, notebooks, art prints, and an iPhone case from The Red Bow and cannot wait to see all of the new products they have in stock. Karen is super excited to share some NEW favourite things with her customers too. Karen divulges that she’s MOST excited about the pretty beauty section, since beauty, make-up and skin care have always been an obsession hers. The newest products that the red bow will be carrying is a small selection of my favourite, and a few cult favourite, beauty products from Asia, she says. I for one cannot wait to get my hands on some of these products!

As for the future of The Red Bow, Karen says; I definitely look forward to seeing how it will transform in the next 5 years. Small businesses grow, just as the people behind them grow as well.  It’s a creative synergy. I couldn’t agree more! I was given a sneak peek of the new site – which will officially launch on June 1st, 2015 – and was blown away by the sheer beauty of it. Everything Karen set out to accomplish with the relaunch has been brought into fruition and I cannot wait for other lovers of pretty things to check it out!

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

The Rise of Self-Love

Bursting the Bubble, Lifestyle/Personal, Products and Brands

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I received a press-release recently about Triumph’s Beauty-Full collection. I don’t purchase underwear or lingerie all that often, so this press release fell short for me in actually purchasing anything from Triumph. What didn’t get lost on me was the fact that sometime in the last year or so, the definition of beauty has changed from being thin to being in love with your skin.

I love how little I hear about wanting to be skinny, about losing weight. I love that it’s more about being healthy and eating the right food. I love that there are women out there like the owners of The Store On Queen who emulate health, confidence, and beauty regardless of weight or size. I love that celebrities like Kelly Clarkson, Demi Lovato, Pink, Selena Gomez, Lady Gaga, and Lena Dunham are dismissing body-shamers and spreading love, light, and self-worth.

I love that my generation and the younger generation (from what my narrow little brown eyes have seen) have snubbed the notion that being thin is equivalent to being beautiful. I love going to the mall and seeing young women of all shapes and sizes trying on clothes and walking around with their heads held high. I know that there are tonnes of wicked and sad things going on in the world, but I also know that good things will only happen if we build ourselves up rather than cut ourselves down.

“To lose confidence in one’s body is to lose confidence in oneself.”  ― Simone de Beauvoir

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

*Photo from: Lotus Leaf*

Signs and All the Jazz

Bursting the Bubble, Lifestyle/Personal

I believe in all kinds of magic, in dreams coming true, in luck, and hard work. BUT I’ve very rarely looked for or believed in signs. I’ve had trust my gut when making decisions but I’ve never sought out signs from the universe to lend some help. On Friday, for the first time in a very long time I felt as though the universe was trying to tell me something. On the way to and from work, a giant white plastic bag flew into my windshield, getting stuck momentarily before I regained sight of the road in front of me. Also on the way to work I nearly got hit by a transport truck who was making a left hand turn (thank goodness I sped up at the last moment).

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That was the moment I realized that life was trying to tell me something. It was literally trying to hit me in the face. Telling me to wake up and see the good in life. Telling me to stop letting nerves dictate my life and to go with the flow. Telling me to pay attention and make time for what I love to do. Telling me that life is so so short and it doesn’t make sense to spend a single moment dreading failure or even making plans.

Life is life and I have the capacity to handle anything that comes my way. I have a dream big enough to give me courage, a brain smart enough to give me strength, and a heart full enough to not only guide me, but to ensure that I have just the right amount of love and laughter in my life.

I’ll take that as a really great sign…

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

When Petals Fall

Lifestyle/Personal

From Flowers For website

Can you recall the exact moment you saw a flower petal fall? I do. I was sitting at the dining room table, writing away as the sun spilled onto my page. I heard it before I saw it, a tiny crack that demanded my peripheries to pay attention. It fell with a slow determined grace, as if it chose that moment to fall. By the time I turned my head, it was already bathing beautifully in the sunlight. As I looked at it I was thankful for the gentle reminder that there is a certain elegance to falling (or failing). For it creates vast opportunities for growth, change, and thoughts anew.

“What is so marvelous about living today is that it is possible to extend, like a flower, spreading petals in all directions.”
Carolyn Kizer

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

 

Pai Skincare [Product Review]

Fashion & Beauty, Products and Brands
From the Pai Skincare Website

From the Pai Skincare Website

I very rarely post beauty product reviews on my blog simply because I don’t try them out very often. I have super sensitive skin and tend to break-out when I try anything new. When I was sent a press release for Pai Skincare I thought I’d give them a try. Why? Well, their slogan is We Understand Sensitive Skin, and I’m a sucker for a good slogan.

Pai Skincare is a line based out of London and has officially landed in Canada. Their products are certified organic by the UK Soil Association. Their products are synthetic-free and made with ingredients proven to sooth the skin. They ensure that their products are free from irritating chemicals and alcohol. If that’s not enough to entice you to give Pai a try, check out what the CEO and creator has to say:

“Having suffered with extremely reactive skin, I know exactly what it needs and how it can make you feel,” said Sarah Brown, CEO and creator, Pai Skincare. “Pai is about products that you can not only trust, but really love to use. And thanks to the high quality, super-soothing ingredients, they’ll help you fall back in love with your skin too.”

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I was sent Pai’s Geranium & Thistle Rebalancing Day Cream, Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser, Muslin Face Cloth, and Echium & Argan Gentle Eye Cream. The cream and cleanser have a lovely scent to them, both natural and light. The camellia and rose really shine through and sooth you inside and out! Normally it only takes a few uses for me to break-out after trying out a new product, but I’ve been using the day cream and cleanser for almost a week and find my skin to be softer, blemish free, and more radiant than ever before. I have yet to try out the eye cream but I can’t see it being anything less than magical.

To learn more about Pai check out the links below!

Website:      PaiSkincare.com
Twitter:        @PaiSkincare
Facebook:    PaiSkincare
Instagram:   @PaiSkincare

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

The Illuminations [Book Review]

Book Reviews
From the Penguin Random House Canada Website

From the Penguin Random House Canada Website

 Standing one evening at the window of her house by the sea, Anne Quirk sees a rabbit disappearing in the snow. Nobody remembers her now, but this elderly woman was in her youth an artistic pioneer, a creator of groundbreaking documentary photographs. Her beloved grandson, Luke, now a captain in the British army is on a tour of duty in Afghanistan. When his mission goes horribly wrong, he ultimately comes face to face with questions of loyalty and moral responsibility that will continue to haunt him. Once Luke returns home to Scotland, Anne’s secret story begins to emerge, along with his, and they set out for an old guest house in Blackpool where she once kept a room. There they witness the annual illuminations–the dazzling artificial lights that brighten the seaside resort town as the season turns to winter. (From the Penguin Random House Canada Website)

Imagine a novel about everything. A novel about the past, the present, the future. About time and how quickly it can pass by. A novel about the fine line between love, loss, and hope beyond help. A novel about family and the secrets we harbor to protect ourselves and one another.

“He wanted to help her picture things and put her story together, for him and for her… He wanted to establish her good times.” (247)

I can’t begin to explain what The Illuminations made me feel while I was reading it — a book about everything makes you feel everything. I felt confused and saddened by Anne’s state of mind, but mystified by the stories that she would tell when her mind allowed her to remember. I felt annoyed by Maureen’s need to help a perfect stranger, pitying herself rather than helping her family or letting them into her life. I was tickled by the relationship between Anne and her grandson Luke, what she taught him about life and photography is pure gold. Before the family secrets began to unravel I was less than impressed with Anne’s daughter Alice, but that changed near the end of the novel. And Harry, Anne’s one true love, he was a mystery to me throughout the novel. I’m not quite sure if he deserved Anne but their relationship just goes to show you how powerful hope, faith, and love can be.

The Illuminations is about all of that and so much more. Author Andrew O’Hagan masterfully exposes the secrets to living. He delves into the idea that every life is extraordinary and that everyday things can in fact be wonderful works of art. This is the kind of novel that will have you thinking about your own story, your past, and your goals for the future. The Illuminations will guide its reader into the brightness of the world, if only they dare to open their eyes.

“You’ve got to live a life proportionate to your nature,’ she said. ‘You’ve got to find out what that means and then stick to it.'” (97)

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

* The Illuminations comes out February 17th, 2015

* Disclosure: I received an ARC of The Illuminations from Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review.

Oh Sunday, I love you!

Lifestyle/Personal, Products and Brands

On Sunday, the sun shone through the blinds onto the kitchen counter and illuminated our quiet breakfast of toast, coffee, and our latest reads (a book for me and the CNN app on Alex’s phone). Alex looked at me and asked if I wanted to go out. We had no plan, no rhyme or reason to leave the house, but we did anyway. The sunshine filled us with excitement and warmth as we drove down to Of Things Past, a consignment store off of Dufferin. Since the purchase of our condo I can’t help but look anywhere and everywhere for future decor inspiration.

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From decorative chandeliers to dinnerware and gorgeous sofas, Of Things Past has one-of-a-kind pieces that will really make your house stand out. I fell in love with a desk or two and promised myself to head back there when we start buying furniture. Next we went over to Yorkdale and spend some time window-shopping and chatting. I fell in love with a new (to me) store — Anthropologie. I adore their home decor and their clothing. Their stationery and journals are adorable, their aprons are so sweet, and their dinnerware is gorgeous! As we sat down and had lunch at Joey’s (which was delicious), I couldn’t get my mind off of that store and the goodies I could treat myself to!

I have to admit that the best part of my day wasn’t the delicious meal or cappuccino pictured above, it was spending the day with my boyfriend. He has this way of making me focus on the now rather than the unknown future. He always makes me smile and never forgets to tell me that I’m beautiful. He constantly reminds me that it’s the little things matter.

Wishing you a lovely week!

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

 

 

 

Eating Alone

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

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On Saturday after work I had a hankering for a Big Mac, and a hankering fuelled by hunger is one that must be taken care of. So, on the way to my boyfriend’s house I stopped at the McDonald’s and ordered myself a Big Mac. I paid the $8.00, which I made in tips the night prior, grabbed my tray and sat down alone to eat my meal. As I slowly savoured my french fries, allowing the tremendous amount of salt to cut my tongue, I wondered why I don’t go out by myself more often. As I gorged on my meal I people-watched and made up my own conversations based on their hand movements and facial expressions. I let my eyes wander and my mind create (that is my business after all). I even thought about what other people might think about me — Wow she looks hungry – is she even breathing between bites? She looks sad, maybe she just got dumped. Maybe she got stood up. Maybe she’s in rush. 

It’s an interesting feeling when you’re able to put your phone away and be left alone with your thoughts. To watch the world go on around you as you sit perfectly still. To marinate in your own thoughts, fears, and worries and really connect with them. As of late I feel like everyone is walking around in a frozen cloud of thoughts, unable to forget them, to control them, or really sift through them and figure things out. After lunch I felt a new air of confidence about the future, the present, and taking chances.

From Pinterest

From Pinterest

 HAVE A CHALLENGING, CREATIVE, AND WONDERFUL MONDAY!

Love always,
Vanessa XX