Review: Women Talking - Miriam Toews

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“When our men have used us up so that we look sixty when we’re thirty and our wombs have literally dropped out of our bodies onto our spotless kitchen floors, finished, they turn to our daughters.”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Fiction, Feminism, Contemporary, Cultural (Fiction)

Reading Challenge: 1 out of 35

Goodreads Synopsis —

One evening, eight Mennonite women climb into a hay loft to conduct a secret meeting. For the past two years, each of these women, and more than a hundred other girls in their colony, has been repeatedly violated in the night by demons coming to punish them for their sins. Now that the women have learned they were in fact drugged and attacked by a group of men from their own community, they are determined to protect themselves and their daughters from future harm.

While the men of the colony are off in the city, attempting to raise enough money to bail out the rapists and bring them home, these women—all illiterate, without any knowledge of the world outside their community and unable even to speak the language of the country they live in—have very little time to make a choice: Should they stay in the only world they’ve ever known or should they dare to escape?

Based on real events and told through the “minutes” of the women’s all-female symposium, Toews’s masterful novel uses wry, politically engaged humour to relate this tale of women claiming their own power to decide.

My Thoughts —

1. Do nothing. 2. Stay and fight. 3. Leave. Which one do they choose?

Wow. Just, wow. I have so many thoughts about this novel. There literally aren’t enough words. Or, maybe, just not the right words, to describe it perfectly.

While this is a fictional novel, it’s definitely important to note that the plot was based on the very real events that happened in Bolivia in the 2000s. What happened to these women - the fictional ones and the real ones - is absolutely horrific and appalling. But their bravery in the aftermath of these events is completely incredible.

It was absolutely shocking to me how strong the women in this story were. Not that I don’t think women are strong enough to deal with tough situations, but that I could not even fathom how I could be able to handle the situation if it were me. The women were terrified, of course, but were concerned more about their families, their children, and their loved ones than themselves. It was also horrifying to me, first of all, how they were conditioned to think that they deserved nothing better than the lives they were living, and second of all, they were faced with the dilemma of staying put in the most horrific conditions possible or leave but have no knowledge of the world outside their community. They were uneducated, unable to fend for themselves, and couldn’t even speak the language of their country. Just the thought of it all makes me shudder.

I can’t even begin to say how deeply this book affected me. I had honestly no idea how hard this book was going to hit me. Although, going off the description, I knew it was going to be a difficult read. I will say that a lot of the content, particularly the descriptions of the rape, is extremely difficult to get through. If you’re somebody who finds it painful to It’s awful to think how some of the women thought they had no choice but to obey the men of their community - the same men who have drugged and raped them and their daughters - because they have no options or even education. My heart ached for them and for the women who went through the real experience years ago.

If you’ve been on the fence about getting this book, here’s your sign: go buy it. It’s well worth the read and will definitely get your mind running. It’s interesting (and scary) to try to put yourself in their shoes while you read. What would you do if it were you in their place?

Felicia x

2018 Favourites

Hello everybody!!

As we’ve recently entered a new year, I thought that now would be the perfect time to look back on the last one and reflect on some of my favourite things from 2018! Although in the grand scheme of things 2018 wasn’t my favourite year, it was a really great year for entertainment and beauty products for me. I discovered a bunch of new things that I absolutely love which I can’t wait to share with all of you.

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BOOKS

1) “The Alice Network” by Kate Quinn - This book was crazy good!! I didn’t know I needed a book about female war spies until I read this book and it only left me longing for more. [FULL REVIEW]

2) “Beartown” by Fredrik Backman - As this was the last book I read in 2018, I don’t have a full review up for it yet. But trust me when I say that this book is FANTASTIC. In fact, it may just be the best book I read in the whole year. [FULL REVIEW]

3) “My Lady Jane” by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows - I was a bit iffy about this one, but I ended up absolutely adoring it. It was a completely fictional retelling of the history of Lady Jane Grey, the Nine Days’ Queen. The fantasy elements were both tasteful and hilariously impractical at the same time. [FULL REVIEW]

4) “Under Rose-Tainted Skies” by Louise Gornall - Prior to reading this, I’d never come across a book that I connected to in regards to mental illness. But this one captured anxiety, and mental illness in general, in such a relatable and comforting way. I saw a lot of both my teenage and adult self in the main character, Norah. I really hope that other teens can read this novel and feel like they aren’t alone in the world! [FULL REVIEW]

5) “Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell - I loooove Rainbow Rowell, and Fangirl perhaps only reinforced my love for her writing. This is easily my favourite of Rowell’s novels. I love how she represented fandoms and also encouraged aspiring authors to write fan fiction, as it’s such a great creative outlet! [FULL REVIEW]

6) “All We Ever Wanted” by Emily Giffin - Woww this book was insane. It took on such a powerful, contemporary issue. I really hadn’t expected to be as impacted by this novel as I was after reading it!! [FULL REVIEW]

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TV SHOWS

1) The Crown - Technically not a 2018 TV show, but this is one I binged - and loved - this year! I tried to watch The Crown for the first time in 2016 but never really got into it. When I tried to watch it again this year, I absolutely fell for it. Can’t wait for the new season to come out this year!

2) This Is Us - I feel like a lot of people can agree with me on this one. This Is Us seems like it’s stolen everyone’s hearts these past few years. It’s honestly such a heartwarming family drama - and we all know how I feel about family dramas!!

3) Big Little Lies - Again, this one didn’t come out in 2018. I read the book last year around the time that the show came out but I don’t have HBO so I had to wait for it to come out on dvd. FINALLY I got to watch this in the summer and oh my god I loved it so much!!!

FILMS

1) Love Simon - Is it possible for a movie to simultaneously warm and break your heart?? Cause this one sure had that effect on me. Personally I think this movie was long overdue, but I really hope that now this one’s come out, it’ll pave way for more LGBTQ films in the future!

2) Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again - I’ve literally waited ten years for another Mamma Mia film and I’m sooo happy that it finally came out. This movie was everything I wanted - comedy, amazing music, strong female characters, and a fabulous storyline!

3) Bohemian Rhapsody - Ohhh my gosh. I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of a film about Freddie Mercury, and Bohemian Rhapsody surely did not disappoint. Rami Malek did such an excellent job as Freddie, I was truly blown away!

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MUSIC

1) Hamilton - Many of you probably already know that I’m 100% obsessed with the musical, Hamilton. Like OBSESSED. And have been for like three years. But this year, my obsession only strengthened because I found out that the musical is coming to Toronto in 2019!! So exciting!!

2) Shawn Mendes - Shawn Mendes released his third album this past May and I loved it. He’s one of my favourite artists, everything he puts out immediately grips my heart. I just love him. I think my favourite song on this album has to be Lost in Japan. Sooooo good. Can’t wait to see him live in concert this year!

3) 70s Music (Fleetwood Mac) - This past year, I got very into 70s music. I’m into old music as it is, but before I primarily stuck to 80s, 90s, and country music from the 60s (weird I know). But aside from my already steadfast love of Queen and ABBA, I decided to broaden my horizons a bit this year and got really into Fleetwood Mac, Elton John and Dolly Parton - all of whom I liked before, but now I totally love!!

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BEAUTY

1) E.l.f. Cosmetics Eyebrow Duo Kit - This has been one of my favourite beauty products for quite a few years, but I always have to mention it anyway. Considering how much I use eyebrow products, I can’t justify buying really expensive ones. But this is definitely the best drugstore brand eyebrow product I’ve come across!

2) Rimmel London Wonder Lash Mascara - I’ve been straight up obsessed with this mascara since I picked it up on a whim during the summer. It makes my lashes soooo bloody long and thick oh my goodness. I think the argan oil infusion really does a lot to help.

3) Too Faced Peach Blur Translucent Smoothing Finishing Powder - I was gifted this for Christmas last year and absolutely loved it.

4) Too Faced Just Peachy Mattes Palette - I picked this up this summer and am completely in love with it. I’ve been very into orange-y shades in 2018 (and into 2019 as well), so this was completely perfect for me!!

5) Colourpop Lippie Stix - The Colourpop lippie stix have basically been my go-to for lip colour in 2018. I love these so so so much. They’re perfect, long-lasting matte lipsticks and they come in soo many different gorgeous shades. The majority of the ones I have are dark reds or mauves lol.

What were your favourites of 2018?

Felicia x

Review: Beartown - Fredrik Backman

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“Everyone has a thousand wishes before a tragedy, but just one afterward.”

My Rating: ★★★★★

Genre(s): Fiction, Contemporary

Reading Challenge: 37 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.

My Thoughts —

It’s not very often that I give a book a 5-star review. I’m the type of person who can be a tad too generous with throwing around 5-stars, even if a book doesn’t fully deserve it, so I try to be a bit more critical and put more thought into my ratings these days. That being said, Beartown deserved every point on each and every one of these five stars - and more.

It’s pretty funny, in hindsight, how much I loved this book because when I bought it, I had the wrong idea about what it’s about. Like completely wrong. I thought it was just a feel-good novel about a small town that rallies together to help their local hockey team with the championship game. Yes, there’s a hockey team. Yes, they’re from a small town, that does support them fully. But that’s where the similarities end. There’s so much more of a complex storyline to this book that I couldn’t even begin to describe without giving away all the suspenseful bits that made it so enjoyable to read.

The writing is what initially gripped me. Fredrik Backman knows what he’s doing, that’s for certain. The first few pages completely engulfed me in intrigue and excitement. I wanted to know what would happen. I wanted to devour this book in a day. Unfortunately, it took me a month to read because of finals and Christmas events. I was constantly itching to get back to reading this novel. Apparently, it wasn’t even originally written in English. That just blows me away. Not a lot of novels translate well, but this one definitely did.

Honestly, if I were to only recommend one book that I read in 2018, it would be Beartown.

Have you read Beartown? Did you love it as much as I did?

Felicia x

Christmas 2018 Travel Diary: A Practically Perfect Day

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Hello friends!

Today I’m talking about one of my favourite days of the trip, and that is the day that we saw Mary Poppins Returns!! I’ve been dying to see this film ever since I heard it was being made and it’s been absolute agony waiting so long to see it. But finally, the day came along (thank god).

We went down to Disney Springs to see Mary Poppins Returns at the AMC Dine-In Theatre. The Dine-In Theatre is my absolute fave way to see films, as you get super comfy reclining seats and you can order dinner, desserts and/or sweets, which you can put on the table in front of you. Sooo comfortable and relaxing. If you live in the Orlando area or you’ve got a couple extra days on your next Disney vacation, I’d highly recommend seeing a film there!! For the film, I ordered the chicken quesadillas which were the HARDEST thing to eat in the dark lmao did not think that one through. But it did come with tortilla chips which were nice to snack on!

As for Mary Poppins Returns, I loved it!!! It was so visually beautiful and really reminiscent of the old Disney films. I thought Emily Blunt was a fabulous Mary Poppins, although she was no Julie Andrews obviously but I didn’t go into it expecting her to be which helped!! And, of course, Lin-Manuel Miranda, my love, my light, was fantastic!!! The choreography and music was absolutely phenomenal, and the whole thing warmed my heart entirely!

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After the movie, the fun wasn’t over!! We headed right on over to the Marketplace on the opposite side of Disney Springs to walk the Christmas Tree Trail! This is one of our Christmas traditions that we absolutely had to fit in before leaving Orlando. Before we headed into the trail, I had to stop at Starbucks and grab a Peppermint Mocha Frappucino to really get into the festive spirit (duh).

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We’ve been walking the tree trail ever since it was created three years ago and it’s honestly grown so much since the very first year. There are dozens of beautiful trees themed to different Disney films. Of course, I won’t overfill my post with pictures of the trees but I have included some of my favourites, including the gorgeous Haunted Mansion tree they added this year!! In the trail, they had a stand where you could buy cotton candy that tastes like candy cane or gingerbread which is crazy, and they also had the beloved Disney snoap and Christmas tunes throughout!! Soooo much fun.

I’d absolutely recommend checking out the Christmas Tree Trail on your next Christmas vacation - it is so much fun!!

Felicia x

Christmas 2018 Travel Diary: Bright Lights in Hollywoodland

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Welcome back!! Today’s post is going to be pretty long and very photo heavy, so get cozy!

There’s something so aesthetically pleasing to me about Hollywood Studios. Although it may not be my favourite park, I can definitely appreciate the overall theming of the park, especially the front entrance. I could stand on Hollywood Boulevard for hours and just take a million pictures to be honest. So for me, half the fun of visiting Hollywood Studios during the holidays is capturing every inch of beautiful decor throughout the park!

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We happened to accidentally time our arrival at the park perfectly with the March of the First Order (this was partially due to the fact that my Magicband, as usual, refused to cooperate at park entry and we spent about 10 minutes sorting that out lol). It was pretty cool as we got to stand right at the start of Hollywood Boulevard and get a great view of Captain Phasma leading the Stormtroopers down the street towards the stage!!

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My dad had a Fastpass right off the bat for Tower of Terror which is something I absolutely do not ride haha so while he did that, the remainder of our group spent some time checking out the shops and, of course, taking more pictures of the park duh. I’m just in complete awe of how beautiful this park is you guys!!!

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I think that the holiday decor additions that they’ve made at Hollywood Studios in the past few years have been really great! Especially around Echo Lake. The tree in the middle of the lake, the floating ornaments, and Gertie’s adorable Santa hat really add a special something to the park!! We also got in our first viewing of the Sunset Seasons Greetings show on Sunset Boulevard, which premiered only last year. We wanted to see it last year but ended up missing it because the weather was absolutely rotten lol. Fortunately, this year was much, much warmer! Sunset Seasons Greetings is a projection show off of Tower of Terror. It’s pretty short but super cute and runs intermittently throughout the night.

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One of the things I was most excited for at Hollywood Studios was the holiday additions to the new Toy Story Land!! As you probably know already, Toy Story Land opened this past summer (which you can read about here). When I heard there was going to be a Christmas overlay to the area, I was soo excited to see what they were going to cook up. Although we only got to ride Toy Story Mania, which is the only ride without any special additions (lol), we did get to see all the extremely cute decorations - JUST LOOK AT REX’S ANTLERS AWEE!!! They also added a Christmas themed soundtrack to the Aliens Swirling Saucers ride and a cute little jingle noise to the Slinky Dog Dash as it rolls by which I thought was an extremely adorable effect.

Lastly, we stayed in the park to see Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!, which is the nightly holiday fireworks show. It was a really cute show, but I couldn’t get any pictures as you have to be extremely close to the Chinese Theatre to see the full effect of the fireworks, which we were not. Regardless, it was a fun time! I was a bit annoyed though because I had my heart set on having a coffee during the show but Starbucks was closed!! Apparently Starbucks closed along with the park at 8pm and the show wasn’t until 8:30pm… No clue why they would close the park half an hour before the fireworks lol but it was pretty disappointing!!

All in all, it was a super fun day at Hollywood Studios! Check back in soon for my next post of the trip! :)

Felicia x

Christmas 2018 Travel Diary: Travelling the World Showcase

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By now, I’m sure you guys know how much I love Epcot. If not, here’s the gist: I love Epcot with my whole heart, I want to live there forever, there’s no greater sight than that beautiful ball lit up at night. Got it? Cool.

Last year, due to my anxiety, I wasn’t able to make it to Epcot (cue tears) but thankfully this year I’m feeling better than ever which meant is was Epcot time for me!!!

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We were extremely lucky as we managed to get fairly last minute reservations at Les Chefs de France, my fav restaurant in Epcot (maybe even in all of Walt Disney World??). So as soon as we walked through the park gates, we hightailed it on over to the restaurant and we were very quickly seated. Obviously, I ordered the Boeuf Bourguignon which is the tastiest meal. And I even got to see my fav waiter who served my boyfriend and I when we went in August!! If you’re ever dining at Les Chefs de France and you’re served by Kevin, you’re in for a treat - he’s the sweetest EVER.

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After dinner, we went on one of my fav rides, Frozen Ever After, and then took a stroll around the World Showcase to see all the beautiful holiday decorations. Epcot is so interesting during the Festival of the Holidays, their special holiday celebration where each country pavilion showcases their own cultural way of celebrating! Each pavilion is decorated so beautifully for the season, it’s such a sight to take in! I highly recommend strolling around and peeking into every pavilion - you won’t regret it.

After we walked the entire pavilion, we - of course - went to Mouse Gears, one of the best Disney shops. And then grabbed a Starbucks for the journey home. I actually managed to grab a Peppermint Mocha Frappucino, which I’d never had before but I’ve tried when my boyfriend has ordered. I LOVED it. So festive and delicious! I wish the holidays weren’t over so I could have another haha.

See you in a couple days for the next day of my travel diary!

Felicia x

Christmas 2018 Travel Diary: Celebrating in the Magic Kingdom

Welcome back, my darlings!

If you haven’t already read my first travel diary post, give that a read here first!

I truly believe that the most magical place to be at Christmas time is the Magic Kingdom. Everything is just so enchanting there during the holidays! Not a single piece of Main Street isn’t adorned with beautiful wreaths or garland, and there’s just a really homey feeling in Town Square. If I could live on Main Street throughout the month of December, I’d be the happiest gal out there!

So, it goes without saying that my favourite day of our Christmas trip is always the day that we go to check out the Magic Kingdom festivities!

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The very first thing we did when we arrived at the park was, of course, take in the beautiful sights. I got a million pictures of all the decorations, but I think my favourite is of the Fire Station! Everything is so beautiful at Christmas, I wish they could keep the decorations up year-round (except for at Halloween time, of course). We also took a little dip into the Main Street Emporium shop. They have sooo many new items in stock and I wanted to buy it all!! My dad ended up buying me the Mickey’s 90th Birthday ears which was extremely exciting because I didn’t expect them to still be available.

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Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime parade has always held a very special place in my heart and I’m so grateful that we got to see it this year!! There have been a couple years that we’ve had to miss it, so I made sure that we specifically planned to be at the park in time to see it go by this year. The parade is so fun and cute. My absolute favourite part is when the toy soldiers march by. I don’t know what it is, but I’ve just always loved seeing them go by in formation! It’s just so cool to me. And I especially love seeing Belle dressed up in her gorgeous Christmas dress! There’s not a year that goes by that I don’t wish I had that dress haha

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“meet me under the mistletoe” shirt - shopdisney (old); christmas ears - shopdisney

During Christmas time, the parks can get extremely busy. It’s one of the busiest times to visit, along with July 4th and Thanksgiving. For someone with anxiety, that can mean it gets pretty hectic, especially when waiting in queues upwards of 120 mins. So I prefer to just stroll around the Magic Kingdom, take my time in letting it all soak in, instead of rushing from ride to ride. We did get a couple of Fastpasses, including ones for Big Thunder Mountain and Haunted Mansion - two of my faves and pretty impressive scores considering their popularity! But aside from that, we just wandered and took in the sights. Personally, I found that much better than doing all the rides. As I have an annual pass, I can come at any time of the year and do rides. But during Christmas time, I’d prefer to see the decorations and relax.

If you haven’t ever been on Jungle Cruise during the holidays, then definitely add it to your bucket list because it is SO FUN! I already love Jungle Cruise enough on its own… But add a Christmas overlay to the ride and my love can only grow! The “Jingle Cruise” overlay adds a ton of festive decorations throughout the ride, as well as a bunch of Christmas-themed jokes told to you by the beloved Skippers. This classic ride is a must-do for me during the holiday season, so I always make sure to grab a Fastpass for this one as the queue can get quite long during the holidays (as do most ride queues during this time!).

Last, but certainly not least, we obviously had to see the Frozen Holiday Wish, where Elsa lights up Cinderella’s Castle with her magic ice powers!! The Dream Lights are the most beautiful thing in the park during the holidays. I’m always in awe whenever I see the castle lit up in shades of blue, pink, and white, no matter how many times I’ve seen it before. The show itself is also extremely cute, especially if you’re a Frozen fan like myself!

We decided to head out of the park shortly after the show (as my boyfriend was battling a cold) so it was the perfect way to end the perfect day!

Thanks so much for reading!

Felicia x

2019 Goals

Hello my friends… Happy New Year! Welcome to 2019. The last year of the decade. I can hardly believe that it’s nearly the 2020s. It even looks wrong to type.

Last year, I wrote up a post about the things that I wanted to accomplish in 2018; goals that I was going to try my best to stick to as the year went on. I’ve never liked the term “New Year’s Resolutions” because I feel like it’s so heavy with negative connotations. Most times, we hold ourselves to extremely unrealistic resolutions and when we aren’t successful, we end up feeling so down on ourselves. But I do like the idea of setting goals and trying to achieve them. Goals are more flexible than resolutions, in that resolutions feel more like something you have to be working on every single day, whereas goals are more long-term.

So, without further ado, here are my 2019 goals!

Read 35 Books

Sooo this past year, I set myself a goal of reading 50 books… Unfortunately, I didn’t make it. Not even close haha. I ended up reading about 37 books - which is still a lot, don’t get me wrong!! I definitely learned a lot about time management this year. And with my anxiety so bad at certain points throughout the year, I often lost my drive to pick up a book and read. But this year will definitely be better, in that sense. Instead of holding myself to another unattainable goal, I’m going to try to read 35 books in 2019.

Do More Things That Scare Me

At the start of 2018, my anxiety held me back from doing a lot. In fact, for the past 6 years, it’s been holding me back. But by the end of the year, I finally started to get control over my life again. Now that I have more confidence and less anxiety, I definitely want to try to push myself to do more things that scare me, things that I usually avoided doing because of my anxiety. One of those things is going back on a cruise. The last cruise I went on a few years back was horrible because of my anxiety, but we have another one booked this year and I’m excited to step out of my comfort zone!

Be More Outspoken - In Life and Online

A side effect of my anxiety, one that has really bothered me for a long time, is the fact that my shyness causes me to censor everything I say. I’m always afraid of going against the grain, or opposing someone else’s thoughts, so I tend to just agree with other people or not speak out about my thoughts/opinions just to keep the peace. Which is so unhealthy and just downright annoying. In the New Year, I definitely want to make a change in that. I’d love to be more open, not only in the “real world” but online as well.

Self-Care, Self-Care, Self-Care

It took me about 19 years to realize that self-care is important. And I know that sounds ridiculous, but think about it. How often do you put yourself first? I spent years and years putting people before me, at the expense of my own self-health. This past year, I really started to focus on myself. Being healthier, taking care of my skin, making decisions that weren’t only benefitting people around me. There’s a million small things you can do to improve your own self-health! I’m definitely going to make a conscious effort to continue to care for myself in 2019.

Start Vlogging

This is something I tell myself that I’m going to do every. single. year. And I never do it. But this year, I’ve decided, is different. Before, I stopped myself from branching out into the Youtube world with vlogs because my mind and anxiety always acted against me. It’s hard to put yourself out on the Internet like that. Blogging is different; I know how to write and it’s comfortable. But I can’t forget my 2nd goal: stepping out of my comfort zone! I’m going to be doing a ton of exciting things this year and I’d love to share them all with my followers through a different format than just written posts.

~ What are your 2019 goals? ~

Felicia x

2018: A Year in Review

Can you believe that it’s almost 2019?! We’re just hours away by now and it’s completely blowing my mind. It will never not be weird to me how we an go from being in one year to being in the next in just the blink of an eye. Crazy stuff!!

For my last post of 2018, I thought I’d finish off with a review of my favourite memories of 2018! A lot has happened this past year… In some ways, it’s been simultaneously a not-so-great and a great year. But no matter what, I think it’s always good to look back on the past year and see what you’ve accomplished!

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JANUARY

Happy New Year!! We started our year off with a bit of a blip, as we had a near-crisis where we thought that there was a gas leak in our house/garage. We called the fire dept and stood outside for over an hour, just to find out it was a false alarm! Shortly afterwards was one of my favourite memories of 2018 however, as it was when I got my first car!! I’m sure you’ve heard this all before, but in case you haven’t, it’s a used grey Kia Soul which I call Maggie (obvs, after Maggie Smith).

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FEBRUARY

In late January/early February, my mum and I snuck away for a ~super secret~ girls trip to Orlando. At the time, no one outside my family knew that I wasn’t in uni so we kept it very discreet. Our trip was soo much fun and it was really cool seeing the Festival of the Arts at Epcot, as I’d never seen that before!! Also in February, Steven turned 20 which was really really exciting!

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MARCH

Please look at this adorable picture of my pup sleeping in front of a fireplace omg. March was spent putting major work into my blog as this was around the time that I decided I wanted to take blogging more seriously. I was looking into different hosts, weighing out my options, and was starting to delve into social media more! This was also the month that my boyfriend bought his very first car!

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APRIL

April, things were starting to warm up (slowly, but surely). My boyfriend and I headed to our uni for an end of year celebration with our really good friends, who I hadn’t seen in ages because I hadn’t been in school. It was such a great time - albeit a tad freezing!! (This is such a bad photo I KNOW)

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MAY

As school was over for my boyfriend in late April and we had a month to spare before I left for Florida, we decided to spend some time exploring the south-western area of Ontario where my town is. We visited Ancaster, Port Dover, and Niagara-on-the-Lake. It was so much fun and I absolutely recommend acting like a tourist in your own town because you won’t know what you’re missing until you do!

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JUNE

June is when my family and I left for our summer trip to Orlando. Although I was still having a hard time with my anxiety in the summer, June was a lot of fun and we got to do quite a few things. My mum celebrated her birthday at the end of the month and we all had dinner at Be Our Guest to celebrate!

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JULY

The month started off with a road trip down to Orlando with my mum. I’ve never been huge on long-haul drives but we did get to go through Tennessee which is my fav state and it was as beautiful as ever! We also celebrated my dad’s birthday and my boyfriend came down to visit - I was so happy to see him, and the four of us go to see my beloved Sam Smith in concert (he was incredible, that man’s got TALENT).

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AUGUST

In August, my boyfriend, parents, and I went on a staycation to Walt Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter! We had such an amazing time and for the first time in a while, my anxiety was actually at a manageable level so that made the whole trip that much more enjoyable. I also celebrated my 20th birthday in Disney! You can read all about that vacation here.

SEPTEMBER

September marked one of the momentous events of the year: my big return to university. I was so nervous to go back to school, but luckily the transition went quite smoothly! If you haven’t heard about my decision to take a year off university, you can read about that here. My boyfriend and I also celebrated our five-year anniversary, for which he gifted me a beautiful Belle promise ring!

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OCTOBER

October brought one of my favourite of our annual traditions and that is our trip to Disney where we do the Food & Wine Festival and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party!! These are two of my all-time favourite events in Disney World and I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to spend them with my boyfriend these last few years. This year, we dressed up as Mary Poppins and Bert in honour of Mary Poppins Returns coming out this year!

NOVEMBER

November signalled the beginning of stressful/busy times. Fortunately, at the end of the month, we did get to do some of our favourite Christmas traditions like our town’s Light Up Night (which Steven sadly wasn’t able to attend) and Santa Claus Parade. Mostly, we spent the month preparing for the upcoming exam season which was especially stressful for me this year as a) it was the first time I’d be writing exams since spring 2017 and b) it was my first time studying for exams whilst living with my boyfriend, which makes for a very different study atmosphere.

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DECEMBER

December has been the busiest month of all this year. We made a few trips out to Mississauga to visit Steven’s family, hosted my family’s annual Christmas party, wrote exams (I had two; Steven had four), and tried to keep ourselves sane with the mix of school pressure and upcoming holiday season. It was also the most triumphant month for my anxiety as I was told by my therapist that we would start cutting back on my appointments and I also did a number of anxiety-inducing things that went really really well!!

This year, ultimately, started off really crappy, but ended up turning into a really successful second-half of the year. Although I had a rough time, I proved to myself that with a bit of help I could overcome all my struggles and actually find what I wanted from life and how to get it, which was so so important. Hopefully, next year will all around be a better year than 2018 and I’m really looking forward to seeing what it has in store for me!

Felicia x

Christmas 2018 Travel Diary: Resort Hopping & Disney Springs

Hello friends! Merry belated Christmas.

If you haven’t been following along with my Instagram stories (shameless plug rn, follow me at @bookishbrunettegal) then you may not know that I’m currently away in Orlando on my annual Christmas family vacation! Our Christmas vacation is one of my favourite trips of the year. It’s full of festivities, and magic, and beautiful lights! So, I thought I’d bring you all along with me on my trip with some travel diaries! Starting off with our very first day on the trip, December 26.

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Our vacation was set in motion by one of my favourite new traditions, the Boxing Day brunch. For the past two years, we’ve had brunch on our first day at the Grand Floridian Cafe, which you probably know is my favourite brunch on Disney World property. This year, we got to sit out on the patio which probably because of how massively packed the restaurant was. Our reservation was at noon but still there were plenty of people waiting to be seated. Having our meal outside was sooo nice. The weather was absolutely lovely and we had such an amazing time. As usual, I ordered the traditional eggs benedict with a cup of coffee and it was delicious!!

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After brunch, we embarked on another one of our beloved Christmas traditions: the monorail resort hop. On Boxing Day, we love to go around to all the monorail resorts and check out their Christmas decorations, starting at the Grand Floridian. I already adore the Grand Floridian. But I love it even more at Christmas time. The decorations are so beautiful and delicate. They have a number of Christmas trees, including their massive showstopper on the main floor of the lobby, and of course, their famous Gingerbread House. This year, I actually remembered to buy a gingerbread shingle which you can actually buy at the counter inside the Gingerbread House. Unfortunately though, the line at the Grand Floridian was huge so I got my shingle at the Contemporary Resort later on in the hop - which is a good tip for anyone who doesn’t want to wait in a massive queue!

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Our next stop on the monorail journey was the Contemporary Resort. The Contemporary, unfortunately, isn’t a huge stop for decorations because of the monorail track through the middle of the resort. There is a huge tree outside of the resort by the road, but you basically have to stand in traffic to see it. So that’s not really an option. They do, however, have a really cute gingerbread set-up based on the Cinderella characters in the lobby. This is where you can buy a bunch of festive treats, like the gingerbread shingle!! Definitely a good alternative to the Grand Floridian shop in my opinion. You can also go through the number of gift shops at the Contemporary while you’re there which is always a fun time!

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Lastly on our resort hop was the Polynesian Resort! I loooove the Polynesian. It’s so pretty and tropical, and like the Grand Floridian, has a ton of trees of different sizes throughout the lobby. Idk I just think the Polynesian looks extremely cute dressed up in her Christmas decor!! My mum also loves visiting the Polynesian because it means rooting about the gift shops for Lilo merchandise. Why is it that there’s always Stitch merch but never Lilo?! So disrespectful. A neat fact about the Polynesian is that it is one of the places on WDW property that sells Dole Whip!! If you’ve ever waited in line for Dole Whip in Magic Kingdom, you know how long it can take as so many people are always queued up at Aloha Isle. But at the Polynesian, there’s usually a minimal line! Just pop on over to the Pineapple Lanai. Enjoy your treat!!

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After we finished our grand tour of the monorail resorts, we headed on over to Disney Springs for a little bit of shopping. As I hadn’t been to the parks since October, I missed the opening of the new reimagined World of Disney shop so I was extremely excited to check that out! What did you guys think of the new World of Disney? Personally, I miss the old character-heavy design, but I think that the renovation has made it a lot more roomy and open, which makes it a lot more manageable during the heavy season (like Christmas time!). Luckily, I found the Christmas spirit jersey there which I was sooo happy about because I hadn’t seen it anywhere on our resort hop. We popped into a few other shops, namely Zara and my absolute fav, Uniqlo where I bought the most beautiful, cozy sweater EVER!!

Afterwards, we went home and ordered some pizza. It had been a long day, especially after a pretty gruesome travel on Christmas Day. So, that’s all for our first day! I’ll pop back in soon to share our other adventures in another travel diary post!

What did you guys get up to on Boxing Day?

Felicia x

Blogmas 2018 Day Fifteen: My Favourite Vlogmas YouTubers

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Hello friends, welcome back!

I find that Youtube is a great place to really get into the festive spirit this time of year. So many Youtubers take part in Vlogmas (the Youtube equivalent of Blogmas) or just post holiday-themed videos throughout the month of December. As I’ve likely mentioned before, I like to watch Youtube videos while I’m getting ready in the morning and lately, it’s been really lovely to put on a Christmassy video instead. As this season rolled around, a lot of the Youtubers I regularly watch have switched into Vlogmas but I’ve also been introduced to new Youtubers as well because of their Vlogmas posts which is very cool!! So today I thought I’d share with you guys who and what I’ve been watching this past month.

AbigailsCupofTea [x]

I’ve only very recently discovered Abigail’s videos but I’m so glad that I did! She is honestly just a ray of sunshine and you can’t not be put in a good mood by watching her videos. In her most recent videos, she’s visited Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World and I’ve loved watching her vlogs, seeing her really take in the parks. She’s a huge Harry Potter fan (and a Hufflepuff, like me!) and you can tell that she genuinely loves the magic of the world!!

AcaciaCutie [x]

I’ve been following Acacia for a couple years now, since before she got pregnant with her first daughter, Brinley. Her family is so cute and so sweet. This year, they’re doing a Blogmas called “Kersmas” because their last name is Kersey (adorable, right??) Their videos are very casual and often have to do with family life or relationships. Acacia is also incredible at home decorating. Her husband renovated a trailer which they now live in and it’s honestly beautiful, so def check out their interior design videos!!

TheTimTracker [x]

I absolutely love Tim Tracker’s videos!!! His videos are primarily about Walt Disney World, Universal Studios Orlando and other fun things in the central Florida area. I love watching his videos for the latest scoop on new rides, attractions or merch at the theme parks when I can’t be there to experience it for myself. Him and his wife are so dorky but in a really funny and cute way, I love watching them so much! Lately, they’ve been focusing on Christmas and winter themed attractions which has been especially cool to watch during the holiday season!

Zoella [x]

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Zoella, the Youtuber who originally introduced me to the concept of both Blogmas and Vlogmas!! I’ve been watching her Vlogmas videos for years and years now, and they’re always a good time. I love to see her beautiful house all decorated, as she’s a really talented interior decorator. She also throws beautiful Christmas parties which are incredible to see!!

What’s your favourite Vlogmas YouTuber?

Felicia x

To view a list of all my Blogmas posts, click here.

Blogmas 2018 Day Fourteen: My Favourite Holiday Red Lipsticks

Hi darlings!

Christmas is the perfect time for a red lip. In fact, is wearing any other shade of lipstick at Christmas even acceptable?? JK but no seriously, red lips are iconic during this time of the year. Red is one of my favourite colours so I take full advantage of sporting red lips during this season. I own about a dozen different* shades of red (* my boyfriend will tell you they’re all the same shade but they’re not *eye roll*). But today, I’m sharing with you guys four of my ultimate favourite shades and luckily, they are all drugstore brand/inexpensive! Us cheap gals need to stick together and help each other out, am I right??

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Revlon Ultra HD Matte LipColor in Love

This first one has been a staple in my makeup collection since probably my senior year of high school. It’s what I like to call a “fruity” red aka it’s a brighter, more fun shade of red than some of the others in my repertoire. It does give off a bit of a shine, so it’s not fully matte as they claim. And it’s a liquid lipstick which gives it a bonus point in my books however it is one that needs to be blotted a lot once applied as it produces a ton of excess product and is quite transferable. Something to be mindful of. Regardless of that, it stays put for quite some time and I think you could easily get through a night with only one or two freshen-ups. The nice thing is that it’s not at all drying, so if you apply a couple layers, it won’t make your lips disgusting (we’ve all been there…)

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ColourPop Lippie Stix in Love Life

I only purchased this lipstick this year but I absolutely knew almost right away that it would become a Christmas season favourite for me. I’m a huge fan of Colourpop’s lipsticks - both liquid and not - and these lippie stixs are wonderful. They’re so easy to apply and it’s hard to make a mess, as the product doesn’t easily smudge during application. Love Life is a beautiful matte lipstick which is described by the website as a “brownish brick red” which I think completely does it justice. I will say, when I was applying this the other night, a piece of it did fall off while I was pressing it (gently) to my lip soooo that was a bummer. Be very careful with this one!!

E.l.f. Cosmetics Matte Lip Colour in Wine

This is a very similar product to the ColourPop Lippie Stix… In fact, now that I’ve got a good look at both, the packaging looks eerily similar… Anyway, it’s the same concept as the Lippie Stix with a twist-up (plus there’s a hidden sharpener at the bottom of the tube!). In comparison to the Lippie Stix, however, this one is quite drying so I apply it sparingly and try not to reapply as often. It’s a full-coverage matte (do you think I have a type?) and it’s really a gorgeous maroon colour. I think of all of these, this shade suits my skin tone best. It’s really really lovely and SO inexpensive. I think it was about $3 or $4..

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NYX Liquid Suede in Kitten Heels

This will always and forever be my FAVOURITE red lipstick. This is actually my second tube because I completely misplaced my first one… Oops. I remember when the NYX store opened up in Mississauga and I dragged my bf out to the mall to grab my first ever tube of this lipstick in this shade, because every girl was talking about it, and it was completely sold out. For good reason, too. This is a sort-of-matte lipstick. I say sort of because it is very glossy when you first apply it but if you blot it a LOT, it comes out to a much thinner layer that’s still full coverage and quite matte. That’s the way I wear it because I really hate glossy slimy lipstick. It’s such a beautiful bright red shade and festive AF in my opinion!!

What’s your all-time fav holiday red lipstick?

Felicia x

To view a list of all my Blogmas posts, click here.

Blogmas 2018 Day Thirteen: Our Disney Christmas Tree

It’s probably no surprise to any of you that my favourite of our Christmas trees is the Disney tree. How could it not be?! We’ve spent so many years slowly building up the collection of Disney ornaments and last year, for the first time ever, we gave our Disney love a special place in our home. So today I thought I’d just chat a bit about our Disney tree, how we got all our ornaments, how we decorate the tree, etc. etc.

So our Disney tree is a regular sized, probably 7’ tall fake Christmas tree (for future ref, all our trees are fake! we’ve never had a real one!). At least 90% of the ornaments on our tree came from the parks at Walt Disney World and a few came from the Disney store which we just collected over the years. Like, I’m talking some of those date back to the very early 2000s.

Our Christmas topper and tree skirt are both from (I believe) the Disney store. They were from last year’s line of Christmas decorations and we absolutely love them both! Unfortunately, the topper - which has a battery pack to control the lights inside the decoration - is very dimly lit so you can hardly tell that it’s lit up sometimes. But other than that, it’s an extremely cute decoration!

We have a ton of different ornaments on our tree. Like, a ton. I think we might have started collecting ornaments back in 2012 or 2013, when we first started visiting the parks during the holidays. Before, they just went on our regular Christmas tree (at the time, we only had the one). Obviously, since the ornaments can fill their very own tree, you can probably tell that we’ve collected way more in the past couple years than we had ever intended to!!

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We have all four park ornaments (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios) as well as the WDW main gates ornament. Fortunately, we picked them all up last year before they changed them!! I’m not a huge fan of the new park ornaments AT ALL. For Disney ornaments, they look quite cheaply made in my opinion and just don’t go with the look of the rest of our tree. The old ones, which we have, are quite sturdy and multi-dimensional which is really really nice.

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Of course, I’ve also got ornaments for all my favourite Disney characters!! I’ve got quite a few ornaments of Belle, the other Beauty & the Beast characters, Rapunzel, Peter Pan, Princess Anna, and Olaf. I also very recently was gifted a Mary Poppins Jolly Holiday ornament (with the penguins!!!) from my boyfriend’s parents which is BEAUTIFUL and I am so so grateful to them for that!! Also, fun fact: in the Jolly Holiday scene, the penguins say my name to Bert!!! So, that scene is very near and dear to my heart, obviously.

We also have a couple ornaments dedicated to our beloved defunct Disney World attractions. As you may know, the last couple years have lost us quite a few long-standing Disney attractions and traditions such as Wishes and the Great Movie Ride - which are some of my favourites. Now I have the ornaments to commemorate those wonderful memories forever!!

If you’re thinking of building your own Disney Christmas tree, it’s not so difficult! Granted, it is quite expensive. Each ornament costs about $20 but sometimes much more, depending on how intricate or special the ornament is. However, Disney will often have sales like BOGO on their ornaments throughout the year, so make sure you look out for and take advantage of those! If you want to get your ornaments from the parks, you can absolutely do that!! I believe they have a Christmas shop in every Disney World park (maybe not Animal Kingdom… not too sure on that one) and one at Disney Springs as well. My favourite Christmas shop however is at Magic Kingdom, in the Liberty Square land. It’s sosososo cute and has a ton of ornament and decoration options. During other holidays, it will also have decor and merch for those (i.e. Halloween) so check that out! And you can also get ornaments personalized there for an additional price, which is pretty cool!!

Honestly, I think that having a Disney tree is just the perfect way to bring some of the magic home. Plus, collecting the ornaments throughout the year has become a really fun activity for my family to do together. And every year, we get so sentimental unwrapping all our ornaments to decorate the tree which is really fun!

Do you have any Disney ornaments or a Disney tree yourself?

Felicia x

To view a list of all my Blogmas posts, click here.

Blogmas 2018 Day Twelve: Festive Makeup Look

Hello my friends!

For any beauty lover, Christmas is one of the best seasons for experimenting with makeup looks!! If you know me already, I tend to stay on the safe side of the makeup spectrum - all earthy tones and neutrals, all the time. But I do love me a good shimmery shadow every now and then. So Christmas - being the sparkliest season - is one of my favourite times of the year!!

Today I thought that I’d share with you guys my festive Christmas makeup look, which is the makeup I wore to my family & friends Christmas party and will likely wear to my family dinners/celebrations as well. I hope you guys enjoy and get some inspo for your own holiday beauty looks!

Rimmel London Lasting Finish 25H Foundation

To start my makeup look, I use a Beauty Blender to apply the Rimmel London Lasting Finish 25H Foundation. This one’s a bit too light for my skin, but with powder and a good blend, luckily I can make it work haha. This is a great full coverage foundation and the perfect base for a full makeup look like this one.

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Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Concealer

The past few months, I’ve been switching up my concealer a lot but my recent go-to has been this Instant Age Rewind under-eye concealer. It really highlights my under-eye area and hides any bags (which I’ve certainly got a lot of, seeing as it’s exam season!!). I’ll also use this to highlight other areas of my face!

E.l.f. Cosmetics Eyebrow Kit

For my eyebrows, I used - as usual - the cream side of the Elf Cosmetics Eyebrow Kit in “Medium.” This is my go-to eyebrow kit and I am so so sad that I’ve already hit pan, but luckily this is a really inexpensive product so I don’t have to worry about it too much. I very rarely touch the power side of this kit at all, which you can see lol. Instead I just dip an angled brush into the cream and slowly build it up in my brows to create a perfectly bold brow. Then I use the spoolie end of the brush to disperse the product and make it look more natural!

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Tarte Clay Play Face Shaping Palette

To start off my eyeshadow, I used a mixture of the colours “Journey” and “Ember” from the Clay Play Face Shaping Palette. I love the natural but beautiful shades of this palette, and it’s really lovely how they can be used for so many different purposes. I blend these two shades together into my crease to create a neutral but smokey affect to my makeup look.

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Too Faced Natural Love Palette

For a sparkly touch to my festive eye look, I blended the gold shades “Honey Pot” and “Fairy Tale” from the Natural Love palette together to create the ultimate shimmery shadow. It’s an intense gold my friends. If you want to attempt this but don’t have a steady hand, I’d recommend doing your foundation after eyeshadow, as it can create a bit of a sparkly mess. Once it’s on, you can easily wipe any excess away so it comes out more subtle (which is what I prefer - if you want a big-bang sparkle, then go for it girl!!)

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Too Faced Sweet Peach Palette

You probably know by now that one of my favourite eyeshadow palettes of all time is none other than the fabulous Too Faced Sweet Peach palette. Ugh it’s complete heaven. For this look, I only used the shimmery cream shade “Nectar,” which I used to highlight my brow bone. I really like how this looks under my eyebrows, it gives them a nice pop and I think it just completes the look!!

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Revlon Colorstay Liquid Liner

This is perhaps my favourite liquid eyeliner of all time!! Liquid liner is sooo difficult to work with honestly. But this one makes it a bit less of a hassle. It’s the perfect shade of black - I like the blackest black shade for my liner. It’s really easy to handle and doesn’t come off too quickly at all. For this look, I just gave myself a bit of a cat-eye liner.

Smashbox Step-By-Step Contour Kit

I’ve been using this contour kit for ages now on my more dramatic makeup looks and I love it!! I use the contour shade (the pan on the far left) and blend that in under my cheekbones to make them stand out!

L’Oreal True Match Blush

This is one of my favourite blushes! It’s so subtle but so pretty. I like my blush to just give me a bit of colour to my cheeks, but not be too overpowering, and this does exactly what I want it to do! I just pop a bit of this onto the apples of my cheeks ~as you do~ and voila!

Too Faced Peach Blur Translucent Smoothing Finishing Powder

I’ve raved about how much I love this bad boy for about a year now and here I am, raving about it once again. It’s so lovely on the skin!! I use it after my contour and blush to smooth out any harsh lines and just give a more natural look to my face makeup.

Maybelline FaceStudio Master Chrome Metallic Highlighter

I love love love love this highlighter!! One of the best drugstore highlighters I’ve yet to come across. I just pop this onto my cheekbones, my chin, my cupid’s bow and the tip of my nose. Blend it in a bit. And then I’m shimmery all night long. I’ve been using the shade Molten Gold for about 4 months now and I think that I’ll go back to the store and grab the Rose Gold one sometime soon because I love it that much.

~ Final Product ~

And this is what it all comes out to!! A very natural, but festive and shimmery look! It’s hard to see in the lighting the highlighter haha but I swear it’s there ;) It’s a really wearable look for the Christmas season!!

What’s your go-to festive makeup look?

Felicia x

To view a list of all my Blogmas posts, click here.

Blogmas 2018 Day Eleven: Tips for Exam Prep During the Holidays

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I think perhaps one of the cruellest things that they do in uni is scheduling the final exam period during the Christmas holidays. How am I supposed to focus on studying when I’ve got Christmas goodies to bake and things to decorate and presents to buy?! It’s really been a challenge during my couple years of uni thus far. Like most people, I already find it difficult enough to study for exams in the first place. I have a really tough time getting myself to hunker down and focus when I could be doing so many other things!! But in the December exam period, it’s nearly downright impossible for me to be motivated to study.

This year, exams are particularly stressful as my only two formal exams are scheduled for the 19th and 20th of December… Literally the last two days of the exam period. W H Y. How is anyone meant to focus on Jane Austen when it’s so close to Christmas?!

Fortunately, I’ve come up with a few tips and tricks for getting myself motivated whilst all the Christmas excitement and I thought I’d share them all with you, so you guys don’t have to suffer either!

~PLAN AHEAD~

There’s nothing worse than getting caught a couple of days before your exam with nothing prepared and no sense of what you’re getting yourself into to. A few weeks before your exam, start to mentally set out a schedule or a plan for what you what you’d like to accomplish, and on what timeline. This way, you can hold yourself to studying better and not get as easily distracted from your goal.

~SET ASIDE TIME EVERY DAY~

I know how easy it is to say “it’s cool, I’ll just do some studying later this week” and how quickly that turns into “oh shit, my exam is in two days and I haven’t even looked at my notes.” Trust me. We’ve all been there. And with all the Christmas festivities to get wrapped up into at this time of the year, it’s even easier to procrastinate studying. Getting an hour or two in of studying for each subject every day is a really easy way to stay up-to-date with your revision while still getting time to do all the fun stuff. And as you get closer to your exam, start increasing your daily studying by an hour. It does wonders, honestly.

~FESTIVE ENCOURAGEMENT~

Yeah, that’s right. I’m about to tell you to bribe yourself to do work. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do, am I right? If the only way that you can get yourself to revise your History notes is by tempting yourself with a Christmas film once you’ve finished, then do it. No judgment here. Once you’ve done your studying, does it really matter how you got there? Not really. Just matters that you’ve done it. Sometimes I’ll tell myself that if I finish my revision, I’ll treat myself to a Starbucks Holiday drink. And guess what? It motivates the hell outta me.

~DAMAGE CONTROL~

If you’ve just spent the past two days decorating your house or going out to do some Christmas shopping, and you know that you’ve neglected your school work, then you’ve gotta go right back to studying. Immediately. Don’t let yourself fall into the trap! It’s so easy to get wrapped up in constantly having fun during the holidays. I know how tempting it can be, but honestly, Christmas will still be there when you’ve finished your exams.

~DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP~

This was a lesson that took me years to learn on my own so here I am, passing this onto you now: please ask for help if you need it. I always use to think that I had to figure things out on my own and suffer in silence. But taking a year off of school made me realize that that’s absolutely not the case whatsoever. There are so many people out there who are more than happy to lend a hand if you need it. If you’re feeling stressed during the holidays, talk to a friend, or a family member, or a counsellor at your school. And if you need help studying, reach out to a classmate or a friend. I’m the kind of person who usually needs to be tested on the information in order to fully understand it. If you’re that kind of person as well, don’t be afraid to ask someone to help you! Honestly, you’ll feel so much better getting that assistance that you need and it’ll drastically improve your grade overall.

What really helps you focus during the holidays?

Felicia x

To view a list of my other Blogmas posts, click here.


Blogmas 2018 Day Ten: How I Decorate For Christmas

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Decorating in the Tarantino house is a huge part of Christmas. We don’t take it lightly whatsoever.

I truly believe that Christmas doesn’t begin until the decorations are up. And, luckily for me, we put the decorations up quite early in the season (Aka November 1st haha). I just think the house looks so much lovelier with festive decor around. When January comes around and we take everything down, the house looks so bare and sad for awhile!

When we moved into our new house last year, we realized just how much space we had for Christmas decorating. I think I mentioned this last year, but our last house - although it was a tad bigger - was hard to decorate because it had small rooms and everything was quite closed off. Our new house is more open-concept than the last, so there’s a lot more room for decorations! Every year, we add a little bit more to our decorations!

We have a whopping total of three Christmas trees, believe it or not. Our first tree is up in the front room of our house, where we have a really large window looking out into our court. Since it’s on display, this is more of a decorative tree than a functional or personal tree. We decided to go with a white tree because I always thought they were so stylish and cool, and it looks lovely with all the multi-coloured gold, silver, and rose gold ornaments!

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Our second tree is in the family room of our house and it’s our “family tree.” It’s a display of all of the ornaments we’ve collected over the years, the ones that mean something to us. Each of my family members - my mum, my dad, me, my grandfather, my grandma, and my boyfriend - have an ornament with our names on them. One of my personal fav ornaments on this tree was actually one I bought this past year. It’s a turquoise ornament with tap shoes that says I Love Tap on it. I’ve been looking for a Tap ornament for about 13 years, since I started taking lessons when I was 7. I FINALLY came across one on my visit to Niagara-on-the-Lake in the spring and was sooo happy!!

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Lastly, but perhaps best of all, is our Disney tree!! Yes, you read that right. We have a tree completely decked out in Disney ornaments. About 99% of these came from the Parks, but there were a few that we owned prior to starting this tree that were just from the Disney Store. It’s got ornaments for each WDW park, our favourite characters, our beloved lost attractions (RIP Wishes & Great Movie Ride), and just some cute reminders of our favourite place! I love the one that looks like a Minnie bauble as a Rockette - it’s made to look like the decorations in the storefronts at Hollywood Studios, which I absolutely love!

For years and years, I’ve been helping my mum put together her Christmas village which is one of our family’s long-standing traditions. We’ve had these little North Pole houses and shops from Kirkland for probably as long as I’ve been alive, if not longer. Last year, we added on a little bridge decoration which we found at Michaels. It reminded us a lot of our town’s 100-year-old bridge so we thought we’d add it in to commemorate our first Christmas in town! Although it’s often a pain to put together (the little people just won’t stand straight!!!) I think it always comes out looking so so cute.

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Finally, we’ve got our little mantle set-up. In our last house, our fireplace mantle was more of a ledge than anything else. It held some photo frames and at Christmas, maybe a little ornament, but not much else. This one is bloody massive!! So much potential. The main piece is this Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas sign from Michaels which I just had to have as soon as I saw it.

What’s your favourite Christmas decoration in your house?

Felicia x

To view a list of all my Blogmas posts, click here.

Blogmas 2018 Day Nine: Winter Skincare Routine

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Winter can be real nasty when it comes to skin.

That dry, frigid air just loves to suck every ounce of moisture out of your skin until you’re all dry and flaky and gross. Blegh. I hate it.

When it comes to skincare, my routine changes up a bit during this season to reflect the beast that is Canadian winter. I try to keep my routine light and moisturizing, as opposed to using products that will dry out my skin even more. Today I thought I’d run through my routine with you guys, to give you an idea of the process I typically go through to keep my skin refreshed throughout the bitter cold months!

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My morning and nighttime routines are very similar, aside from the fact that in the night, I have to go through the process of removing my makeup.

In the morning, I start off with washing my face with the La Roche-Posay Toleraine Purifying Cleanser. It’s a gentle, light cleanser that doesn’t dry out my skin or strip my skin of its natural oils, which is really nice. It’s also got a very light scent to it that’s not very overpowering but is still refreshing. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to produce this particular product anymore (booooo) but I’m sure the other Toleraine products are just as nice! Once I’ve washed my face, I’ll use my Lush Eau Roma Toner. I absolutely love Lush products as they’re natural and I feel like you can find a product for any type of skin concern. This is a rosewater toner made specifically for mature, sensitive or dry skin, so it’s perfect for this season. I’ll spritz it a couple times over my face and then remove the excess with a cotton pad. Finally, I’ll moisturize my face with my Olay Active Hydrating Face Moisturizer. This has a lovely scent and is soooo moisturizing!! Whenever I put it on, I can feel the life coming back to my skin to be honest. Once I’ve rubbed this into my face and neck, I’m ready to go!

In the night, I basically follow the same process, but with an additional step for makeup removing and a couple different products. To start, I remove my eye makeup with the Neutrogena Oil-Free Makeup Remover. I just pop a bit of this onto a cotton pad and wipe off my eye makeup, including my mascara. This is actually quite gentle which was surprising to me when I started using it - as a long time ago, when I first started makeup, I used a similar product that really irritated my eyes. It does a really great job of removing mascara as well, which is always tricky business. Once I’ve got all my eye makeup off, I’ll start on my face. To remove my makeup and cleanse my skin, I’ll do a double-cleanse to get all the gunk out. For this, I use the Soap & Glory Peaches and Clean Deep Cleansing Milk. I LOVE this cleanser!!! It’s so so gentle and refreshing, plus it has a wonderful scent. I've read a few reviews before on this product and they’re mixed on whether it removes makeup or not - I think it really has to do with how much/how heavy your makeup is. For someone who’s makeup use is on the lighter side, it works perfectly. Again, that’s not including my eye makeup. Once I’ve cleansed my face twice, I move onto toner. In the night, I use my Thayers Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner. I’m sure y’all have heard about this before as it’s one of the most raved about toners out there, second only to the Mario Badescu one. I only use this at nighttime during the colder months as I feel like it’s a bit more heavy-duty than my Lush toner, so I’d rather not have to go out in the blistering cold after applying it. I just a squirt a teeny bit of this onto a cotton pad and wipe it over my face. Finally, I finish off with Bio-Oil. I think I’ve probably talked about Bio-Oil on my blog about a thousand times already. Essentially, it’s a vitamin-rich scar and stretch mark oil. It works magic as a skincare product, especially if you - like myself - have some acne or acne scarring. It’s honestly almost eradicated my acne scars.

Every now and then, I’ll do a face mask to fully cleanse my skin and unclog my pores. My favourite face mask product is the Origins Out of Trouble 10-Minute Mask. It’s an absolute god send. My skin is left feeling so clean and refreshed after I use it. I really recommend this if you’re looking for a really deep-cleansing face mask.

And that’s it! What is your go-to skincare product in the winter?

Felicia x

To view a list of all my Blogmas posts, click here.

Blogmas 2018 Day Eight: 10 Stocking Stuffer Ideas

Ahhh the Christmas stocking. What a magical but complex creature.

Stockings are one of my favourite Christmas traditions. My parents have made a stocking for me every Christmas for my entire life and I try to take part in the tradition now as well. While stockings are super exciting, they can also be quite tricky to shop for. Sometimes you just don’t know what sort of thing you should pop in there. But thankfully, after years of stocking experience, I’ve got a few ideas tucked away that might just help you start - or continue - your own stocking tradition this year!

BODY LOTION

Honestly, who doesn’t love a deliciously scented body lotion?! Personally, I carry body lotion with me everywhere to use on my hands when I’m out and about. Throughout the winter, especially if you live in a bitterly cold place like I do, body lotion is an essential. Why not give your friend or family member a body lotion with a lovely festive scent?

Twisted Peppermint // Champagne Toast

BATH BOMBS

You can really never go wrong with a Christmas bath bomb from Lush, in my opinion. I think that one of the great excitements of the season is Lush releasing their Christmas line. If you’re looking for a small gift for someone who loves baths & being cozy, a bath bomb is totally the way to go.

Cheery Christmas // Santa Bomb Bomb

CHRISTMAS SOCKS

Christmas socks might just be the cutest tacky thing ever!!! If you know anything about me, you’ll know I’m very much for the whole tacky Christmas thing and printed socks are p e r f e c t. Once I’ve got my Christmas socks on, it’s ~festive time~. Share the Christmas love with your friends!!

Christmas Socks

MAKEUP SETS

Makeup sets are the perfect stocking stuffer idea as they give you the most bang for your buck. Personally, I think that e.l.f. does the best makeup sets, especially if you’re someone on a strict budget for Christmas shopping (like myself). You can find a lot of really cool gifts sets on their website for $10 or under that make the perfect addition to any stocking!

Matte Lip Colour Set / Eyeshadow Duo Set

ORNAMENT

A really nice gift to put in a stocking is an ornament. I think it’s great because you can get a small ornament that’ll fit perfectly into the stocking and then on Christmas morning, the person receiving it can put it right on the tree! I’ve received ornaments a few times over past Christmases and I think they’re a lovely present to open.

Book Ornament / Mini Mug Ornament

DECALS

I’ve come to really love decals since I got my first car earlier this year. I think they’re the perfect way to personalize anything, from your car to your phone or your laptop. There are so many options out there, with decals of any sort of tv show, film or band that you could think of! And on the bonus side, they come quite cheap so you won’t be breaking the bank by buying one for a stocking. A lot of people make them and sell them online so it’s really easy and accessible to buy them!

RedBubble / Etsy

CANDLES

Candles are the best. Hands down. I absolutely love them and I’m sure loads of other people do as well (judging how busy Bath & Body Works is on a regular basis).

SWEETS

I’m sure everyone can agree that a little sweet treat in their stocking is a lovely surprise! If the person that you’re shopping for has a favourite candy or chocolate, then go ahead and buy them a piece, and put it in their stocking. It’ll be a great gift to open up and snack on come Christmas morning! For me, my favourite candies are always the Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark and Terry’s Chocolate Orange. Yummm..

GIFT CARDS

Why are people so against gifting or receiving gift cards these days? While I think there is certainly a group of people who just purchase generic gift cards so they don’t have to think of a gift idea (that’s tacky), I think that gift cards on the whole are a great gift! If you know your friend or family member loves to shop at a particular store, pop a gift card into their stocking so they can go on a mini-shopping spree! Unless they’re vehemently against gift cards, I feel this is a great way to go!

Do you have any stocking stuffer ideas?

Felicia x

To view a list of all my Blogmas posts, click here.

Blogmas 2018 Day Seven: Christmas Playlist

Hello everyone! Welcome back.

Today is possibly one of my favourite Blogmas posts - my Christmas playlist.

I love Christmas music, but that wasn’t always the case. When I was a teenager, I wasn’t huge on Christmas music. I basically only liked Michael Buble’s album and that was all. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to broaden my horizons and open myself up to the genre a lot more. So my playlist has grown quite a bit over the past couple years. I have a good mix of classics, pop, slower tunes… A lot of the big Christmas tunes have landed on this playlist over the years.

Also please check out this super cool 1949 Bing Crosby record that was passed onto me from my grandma!!! It’s gorgeous and I’m in love.

I’ve added a widget of my Spotify playlist for you guys, and I’ve also included a track list which has some of my favourite Christmas songs in case you want to make your own version! I hope this gets you guys into the Christmas spirit!

Happy listening!

Felicia x

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Blogmas 2018 Day Six: Things I Love About the Holidays

I think it probably goes without saying that Christmas is my favourite holiday. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved the excitement of Christmas. And not even just of Christmas morning - but also of the month or so leading up to Christmas. Everything changes at Christmas time, like entering a completely different universe. Today, I thought I’d talk about a few of my favourite things related to the Christmas season. Since I could go on and on about this for probably the rest of December, I’m going to limit myself to just 5 of my favourite things.

DECORATING THE HOUSE

Christmas decorations are quite possibly one of the main things about Christmas that I love, for two reasons. First off, I love Christmas decorations because I just love to look at them. Ever since my family moved into our new house, we’ve been gifted with more spaces that are available for decorating. One of my favourite places is the front window, which is massive and looks out onto my court so when we put up our Christmas tree, you can see the lights through the window at nighttime and it’s absolutely magical. I love Christmas trees, villages, stockings, candles, garland, lights - oh I love me some Christmas lights. But the other thing I love about decorations is actually decorating. My family has always taken decorating very seriously and we consider it a family task. Since my boyfriend moved in a couple years ago, he’s become a part of the tradition which makes it even more exciting! Together we trim the trees with Christmas music and a glass of wine and have a ton of laughs. It’s so much fun and possibly one of the best traditions of the season.

SPENDING TIME WITH FAMILY

For many people, Christmas entails seeing their extended family (which can be either a good thing or a bad thing, depending!). For me, however, I don’t really have a close extended family, so Christmas is mainly for myself and my parents. We’re already a close-knit group but at Christmas time, we make sure to put our work or school or just generally busy lives aside to focus on spending time together and enjoying the season, whether that means trimming the tree or watching a Christmas film together. The Christmas season is extremely busy for everyone, especially because it means final exam season for me again now that I’m back in uni. But we have a very strict schedule of traditions that we make sure to stick to so that we don’t forget to put the stress aside and just enjoy Christmas together as a family!

SEEING FRIENDS

This is actually one of my new favourite things about Christmas! Last year, my family hosted our very first Christmas party. Our last house was actually bigger than our current home but it was more closed off where this new one is open-concept. So we’ve got a lot more space available for hosting parties. Since we live so far from a lot of our friends now, it’s nice that we get to invite everyone over to celebrate the holidays with! I always love introducing my friends to each other and having them all together as it’s so lovely to see everyone I care about getting to know one another!

BUYING GIFTS FOR LOVED ONES

This one’s sort of a double-edged sword for me. I love buying gifts for my loved ones, but I also find it incredibly stressful as I’m the sort of person that agonizes for weeks whether a gift is good enough or not. However at the end of the day, I love the joy of finding the perfect gift for my friends, family or my bf. And there’s really nothing I love more than watching them open up their gifts on Christmas. It’s so lovely to see someone get excited over their gift!!

FESTIVE SWEETS AND TREATS

There are so many Christmas treats that I absolutely love. My mum has always been really into baking, so she gets really into the Christmas baking spirit when December rolls around. The past couple years I’ve started to help her out and learn a few of her ~secret~ recipes! I love baking gingerbread cookies so so so much as they are my fav Christmas baked goods. But I also like other special treats such as Starbucks holiday drinks (esp the Caramel Brulee Latte!!!). I’m also really big on chocolate in the holiday season, particularly the Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark and on Christmas, I always get a Gerry’s chocolate orange from my parents :)

What are your favourite things about Christmas?

Felicia x

To view a list of all my Blogmas posts, click here.