Mini Easter Cheesecakes

Sweet and Delicious

Sweet and Delicious

I made these little gems to take to our family Easter Dinner today.  They’re a sweet treat and fairly quick to make if you need something to take somewhere.  They are modified slightly from a recipe I found on the Kraft Canada website.  Enjoy, and Happy Easter to everybody!

Ingredients (for 24 cheesecakes)

4 blocks cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 eggs

24 Golden Oreo cookies

1 tub of Cool Whip, thawed

food colouring

candy, chocolate or fruit to decorate

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a regular sized muffin tin, put in some pretty cupcake papers.  In the bottom of each one, place one Golden Oreo cookie.

In a large bowl, beat together cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until well blended.  Add eggs, one by one, blending after each one until just blended.

Pour or scoop (I use an ice cream scoop) batter into muffin cups evenly.

Bake for 20 minutes or until centres are almost set.  Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight.

To decorate, put a few drops of desired colour of food colouring into the cool whip and mix well.  Top chilled cakes as if you were frosting a cupcake.  Add decorations.  I used Mini Eggs and Peeps.  You could totally go wild with this using whatever you wanted.  Jellybeans would be great, mini creme eggs, or fresh fruit (preferably berries that aren’t cut so they aren’t as apt to bleed).  The possibilities are truly endless.

Store in the fridge until about a half hour before eating.

Hope you all have a fabulous Easter and enjoy the time with family and friends.

Until next time.

 

 

MAC Cleanse Oil – Tried, Tested and True

MAC Cleanse Off Oil

MAC Cleanse Off Oil

I have been using skin care for a very long time.  I can probably count on two hands and have fingers left over the number of times I have gone to bed without washing my face since I was 14 years old.  It doesn’t matter how late it is, how tired I am, how many cocktails I may have consumed, I still take the time to wash my face before bed.  ESPECIALLY if I’m wearing makeup.

So needless to say, I have tried several skin care products.  Some are keepers, some are definitely not.  When I find something that really works well for me, I tend to stick with it.  Sometimes something will come along with pretty packaging or some awesome claims.  I will get pulled in by this, but if the product itself is not worth using, it never takes me long to go back to my old faithfuls.  If you find a product that works good for you, it is worth its weight in gold.  Sometimes your skin changes though, either due to the seasons, aging, hormones or a million other reasons.  Sometimes it’s necessary to change it up a bit.

If I make a recommendation to you, I want to make sure that I am totally sure that it’s a good one.  At least for me.  That’s the thing with skin care, everyone is different, no two faces are exactly the same.  So what works well for me may not for you or vice versa.  My skin type is oily.  Like oily.  I get the odd blemish, especially hormonal, and often have to blot and/or powder throughout the day.

So the product that I want to recommend to you here is the MAC Cleanse Off Oil.  My love affair with MAC Cosmetics goes back a long way.  I have been a fan of their makeup for many years.  I had my makeup done for my wedding (almost 12 years ago) by MAC make up artists, and I had already been a fan for ages before that.  I love their range, I love the versatility of the colours.  I had never really used any of their skin care products before, until I heard of their Cleanse Off Oil.

This stuff is awesome.  I use it just to take off my eye makeup.  You could use it to take off your entire face, but as I do have very oily skin, I just use it on my eyes.  After removing the majority of my face makeup with a wipe, I put one pump of the oil in my hand and rub between my two hands on my fingers.  I gently in a circular motion, massage the oil into my dry eye area.  It breaks down waterproof mascara and liquid eyeliner like nobody’s business.  Once I look like a panda, I simply splash warm water on my face.  The oil turns into a milky cleanser which rinses off with all my makeup.  Once the water hits it, there is no oiliness at all, and it doesn’t leave a residue on the skin.

If you’re in the market for a great makeup remover, I highly recommend this product.  It retails for $36 at your nearest MAC Counter, Store or online.  At one pump a day, this stuff lasts forever.  I have used the bottle in the picture above every day for the last five months, and it’s not even half gone yet.

Have you tried this product?  Do you use it on a regular basis?  Love it?  Hate it?  Do you have any recommendations for removing eye makeup?  I’m always up for suggestions.

Hope you’re having a great day. 🙂

When the Tough Times Teach You a Lesson

The silver lining is there. Can you see it?

I went to a funeral yesterday.  My sister in law lost her Dad.  He was in his 86th year, and the last year or so had been a rough one for their family.  They have gone through a lot.  Hopefully they are at peace now knowing that he is now at peace, and they can move on remembering the best of times with him and keeping him alive in their hearts.

I also received news last week that a man that I have known since I was a little girl whom I have respected and admired for the better part of my life, has died.  I knew him through work, and didn’t see him very often anymore, but he was a wonderful man, and upon hearing that he passed away, I was quite saddened.  He was a younger man, in his 60’s I believe, with a wife, children and grandchildren.  He was probably on the brink of what would have been one of the best times of his life.  He and his wife likely would have travelled quite a bit, and I imagine his retirement years would have been very full and very blessed, had he not been taken so early.

Neither of these passings effected me directly.  There are a lot of other people who are suffering due to these losses, and though they have impacted me somewhat, my prayers are with the people that are truly grieving their father, husband, grandfather, etc.

Everything in life holds a lesson though, and I like to try to take something away from every experience.  Therefore, when things like this happen, they get me thinking.  These are two different situations, yet the ultimate outcome is the same:  there are two families out there that are grieving a loss right now.

I don’t think about death very much, though I will admit that since I had my son I have definitely considered it a lot more.  I think it’s natural when you have children to think about dying – hoping you stick around as long as possible so you don’t miss anything, making plans in case tragedy strikes and your child needs to be provided for, etc.

But it is in times like this, where you encounter loss that strikes a little closer to home, that you really realize that what they say: “you can be here one moment and gone the next” is totally true.  Some day, we’re not going to be here anymore.  When I look at it this way, it makes every minute precious.  It makes wasting time a horrible thing.  It makes me want to grab on to the people I love and squeeze them tight, so that there will never be a question of how much I love them.

I try to find the good and the positive in every situation.  Maybe a month from now, when I’m stressing about something that I can’t change, that I shouldn’t be stressing over, I’ll look back on this time and remember that I shouldn’t sweat the small stuff.  Maybe 3 months from now when it’s summer and my kid is driving me crazy because it’s summer and he is bored, I’ll remember this and instead of pulling my hair out, I’ll take a deep breath and remember he’s a kid, and he’s bored, and he just wants my attention.  Maybe when my Dad cooks something in my kitchen and leaves the stove a mess because he boiled something over, I’ll remember that I’m just lucky that a) someone is cooking me a meal and I don’t have to do it, and b) someday he won’t be here to cook for me and I’ll remember this wishing he was messing up my stove again.

Life is full of tough times.  Some times are worse than others.  Some people seem to have it worse than others.  I think the important thing to remember is when tough times happen, the best way we can deal with them is to look for the positive things.  I believe every cloud has a silver lining, and there is a lesson to be learned from everything life sends our way.

Until next time.

NARS Laguna Bronzer – Take it or Leave it?

NARS Laguna Bronzing Powder

NARS Laguna Bronzing Powder

No need to tell me.  I know I’m late to the party for this one.  To be perfectly honest, I’m a relatively new user to bronzer.  I have an olive skin tone, usually getting quite dark in the summer naturally.  I never really used bronzer before, except maybe in the summertime to darken up a foundation that was too light because of a tan.

So as I have now probably mentioned a million times, I have a newfound obsession with YouTube.  Since I have started watching beauty videos, I have discovered that bronzers aren’t just some powder that you brush everywhere to darken up your foundation.  They have several purposes.  They also have several applications.  A bit of bronzer on the temples adds definition and a lovely glow, a swipe just below the cheekbones help to contour your face and make them stand out.  A little bit below the bottom lip will help to make your lip appear more pouty.

Who knew?  So I thought I would experiment a little.  I had a bronzer in a MAC palette that I had barely touched.  I wanted to start off slow (read: cheap), so I picked up an NYC bronzer from the drugstore.  But the more I watched the videos, the more I realized that though the market was flooded with a ton of bronzers, there were a few that were definite favourites, and the one that caught my eye the most, was by NARS Cosmetics, in the shade Laguna.

I’m a newbie to NARS.  I have often stood in Sephora or at the counter drooling over the display, but I have never taken the plunge.  After all the positive reviews I have seen, this bronzer went to the top of my wish list, in a real hurry.  Joe and I were in Sephora the other day, and I finally picked it up.  I have had a few days to play with it, so I thought I would let you guys know what I thought.

This is a gorgeous bronzer.  Let’s take a minute to appreciate the beauty in the simplicity of NARS packaging.  It is so sleek and sexy.  The bronzer itself has a lovely smooth texture.  It is a very versatile colour, a brown tone with gold that would look gorgeous on most skin tones.  It’s not orange at all (thankfully).  There isn’t really a shimmer to it, it’s just a slight satin finish, which is nice, especially when contouring.  I am excited to use this in the summer, to help play up my natural tan.

This is definitely a high-end bronzer – it retails for $43 at Sephora.  There is a ton of product in the pan though, I have a feeling this is going to last me a very long time.

If you’re in the market for a versatile, luxurious bronzer, I would definitely recommend giving this a try.

Verdict:  Take it!  Yes please!

If you have tried this bronzer, I’d love to hear your comments.  Also suggestions for new products are also welcome. 🙂

Kelley Armstrong Photobombed Me

The one and only Kelley Armstrong during her Q&A

The one and only Kelley Armstrong during her Q&A

Well, not really.  Not intentionally, it just looked like a photobomb.  Sorta.  So it doesn’t count.  But whatever.  I’ll get to that.

Kelley Armstrong is one of my favourite authors.  I have reviewed some of her books on this blog here, here, and here.  I love her style of writing, I love her characters.  I have read almost all of her novels and novellas both for adults and young adults, and enjoyed each one.  The fact that she is from the London, Ontario area is very cool to me as well.

Naturally, when I heard from my bestest Jolene that Kelley Armstrong was going to be doing a book signing and a pre-release event for her latest book Sea of Shadows where you could meet her and have her sign the book for you 3 days before it comes out, I was in.  Especially when I found out that it was as close as Brampton, ON.  Okay, at first I thought it was in Burlington, not Brampton.  But that’s a long, not very interesting story that doesn’t really bring anything to this story, so I won’t expand on that.

So I got an e-mail from Jolene a few weeks ago, telling me that Kelley Armstrong was going to be in Brampton, because she knows that I like her books a lot.  I immediately asked her if she was free and wanted to meet me there.  A true testament to what an amazing friend she is: she didn’t hesitate to agree to drive over an hour to meet me and stand in line with me to wait for an author she has never read, and probably never will read, as it is a genre that she has no interest in.  I also called my good buddy Karen, who I have to credit with introducing me to Kelley’s books in the first place.  She was in too.  I don’t know if I mentioned this before, but I have awesome friends. 🙂

We had an awesome day, got to meet Kelley Armstrong (who is charming as all heck), and got to spend time with two of my dearest friends.  We had a lovely lunch, and we had a great time with lots of laughs.

If you’re into the supernatural at all, both adult fiction and YA, be sure to check out Kelley Armstrong’s books.  She has created an awesome world and characters you fall in love with.  Start with the 13 books in the Otherworld series.  Bitten is the first one.  That’s a good place to start.

Waiting in line

Waiting in line

Meeting a favourite

Meeting a favourite

Sadly, the only pic of Jolene from the day.  She was taking them all!

Sadly, the only pic of Jolene from the day. She was taking them all!

Doesn't it look like she photobombed me?  Maybe?  A little?

Doesn’t it look like she photobombed me? Maybe? A little?

Broadening the Focus – Beauty

One of life's little pleasures.

One of life’s little pleasures.

As I talked about in my last post, I am really going to try to add content to this blog more often.  I also mentioned that I was thinking about expanding the focus a little.  For anyone that reads this regularly – I’m sure there are one or two of you (Hi Mom!) – you know that this space has never been about just one thing.  It’s more of a reflection of who I am, with lots of emphasis on my likes (reading, cooking, my own opinion).

I mentioned a couple of posts ago, that I have a newfound obsession with YouTube.  This of course has been fueled by my obsession with beauty products.  Bath, body, face, hair, makeup – you name it, I am interested in it.  I love reading about it, watching videos about it, shopping for it, etc.  So I figured that if I was going to stay true to the nature of this blog, that maybe I should open it up a bit to that side of my personality as well.

I should probably get this part out of the way – I am by no means and don’t claim to be a beauty expert, just extremely interested in it, excited about it, and eager to learn more about it.  I love to watch YouTube “Monthly Favourites” videos where all the beauty bloggers and vloggers talk about the new things that they have discovered that month and what they are loving and recommending to their viewers.  I thought maybe I could do a little of that here.  I do not upload videos to YouTube (aside from a few silly ones) and have no plans to start.  I also have no plans to turn this into a “beauty blog.”  There are plenty of those out there written by people much more knowledgeable than me.  I guess I just thought that if the inspiration hit me, or if I tried a new product that I was loving, or re-discovered an old product, I could let you know about it.  Hopefully that appeals to you.  If it doesn’t, don’t worry, because next week there will likely be a recipe or a book review or an opinion piece.  Just as there are many different parts of my personality, there are many things to write about here.

To start I guess I’ll just mention the gorgeous eyeshadow palette in the picture above.  This is a pretty popular one, the Lorac Pro Palette.  It used to be available at Sephora, but no longer is.  It is hard to get your hands on in Canada unless you want to pay an arm and a leg for it.  I actually had my wonderful cousin that lives in Arizona buy it and ship it up for me.  If you live in the US, you can buy it at Ulta, or from Amazon.  It retails for $42 US, and I have wanted this beauty for a long time.  I was not at all disappointed.

This palette comes with 16 gorgeous shades – 8 matte shades in the top row, and 8 shimmery shades in the bottom row.  The shades range from white to black and stick mostly to the neutral tones, but there is a very nice blue, a purple, and a beautiful coppery shade, along with a couple gold/bronze toned ones.  The shadows are almost creamy in consistency, though they are definitely powder,  and they are nicely pigmented – a little goes a very long way.  If you are a beginner at makeup, or simply someone that wants to expand their collection, I would totally recommend this palette.  It really has everything you need to create several looks, from light and natural to dark and smoky.  This one for me was definitely worth the wait!

Hope you’re all having a great day and the sun is shining wherever you are!