The Happiness Project: Joy

I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas. I love it but also it majorly stresses me out. I feel so much pressure to make it perfect and to enjoy it. The money aspect always stresses me out and I usually choose to make Christmas gifts late enough that I’m scrambling to finish on time. 

Then there’s the family aspect. I love my family, I really do but they can also be a bit… Much. I’m from a small town in the interior of BC and things are certainly different there than they are here in Vancouver. I get annoyed with small-town life and none of them seem to understand why I love the city so much. I love visiting my family but it’s also exhausting. So many people and so much going on. I always know that I’m thoroughly exhausted by the end of the holiday season, so I wanted to make it a nice and relaxing month with a lot of things that bring me joy. 

My month was filled with Christmas activities. I kicked it all off by decorating my apartment and my rats’ cage with all my decorations. I treated myself to two advent calendars this year. One from Lindt now that I can eat chocolate again, and a tea calendar from David’s tea. We had our annual craft exchange at the caffe I hang out at. I crocheted a friend a blanket for it, and even though I was a little disappointed that I ran out of time and couldn’t make it as long as I wanted it to be, it still turned out pretty well. My girlfriend and I went to Glow, which is a Christmas light display, and even though it was disappointing, it was a lot of fun. She also surprised me with tickets to go see my first Cirque de Soleil show, which was absolutely amazing. I went to my first work Christmas party. It wasn’t for my own work but a friend invited me to go with them and it was great. It helped that the food was free and that there was a lot of wine involved. My friends and I also held our annual bad Netflix Christmas movie and gin night. Another tradition I did this year was Sistermas. Andrea, my self-proclaimed sister, and I spent the last couple of Christmases together but this year since we were both going home to our families, we decided to have it earlier in the month. I stayed over after Gin night and we went for brunch the next morning before doing some Christmas shopping and going back to Andrea’s for cat cuddles and some Christmas movies. The following weekend was the annual Christmas party with the nerds at the caffe. As per usual we all ate too much food, were forced to watch the worst Christmas short film known to mankind (if you feel like being tortured like we were, go check out “Treevenge”, but honestly, don’t do it), and had a super fun white elephant gift exchange. The last Christmas event I did before going home to my hometown was going to the Burnaby Heritage Museum with another friend. I’d never been and it was so much fun to go with her since she used to volunteer there and told me so much information about it. Naturally, I did celebrate Christmas with my family once I got to my home town, but really all my Christmas activities happened while I was still in Vancouver. 

It wasn’t just holiday activities that brought me joy this month. I tried to find joy in all the little things. Self-care was a huge deal for me this month. I made a self-care advent calendar and didn’t follow it every day but followed it as much as I could. I also continued reading a lot and finished out the year with a total of 140 books read in 2019. Along with reading, writing and podcasting were other things that not only brought me joy in December but brought me joy in 2019 in general. Between this blog, my writing for WWEST, and my writing for Sartorial Geek, I published 31 blog posts. I also launched my own podcast with my co-host Andrea, and we published 16 episodes. 

The last thing that brought me a lot of joy this month was Star Wars. Everyone who knows me knows how much I love everything to do with Star Wars, so between the new movie and The Mandalorian (I love you Baby Yoda!) I was in my own nerdy heaven. I have a couple more posts on the go about Star Wars, so I’m not going to say any more about it here, but it certainly brought me a lot of joy.

I ended the month spending New Year’s Eve with my girlfriend and a friend watching movies from our childhood and eating too much junk food. Not the wild party that’s expected, but I preferred this so much more. 2019 was a year full of challenges, but also a lot of joy. Join me next month for “power”.

Self-Care Advent Calendar

This time of year can make it hard to remember to take care of yourself. So in the spirit of the holidays, I have made a self-care advent calendar for December. Feel free to alter any of the activities if you need to, and remember to take care of yourself.

1. Make a list of holiday activities you want to do

2. Make your favourite seasonal clothes easy to find

3. Drink your favourite tea before bed

4. Make a list of things you’re grateful for

5. Turn off your phone for the evening

6. Meditate before bed

7. Have delicious brunch

8. Spend time with friends

9. Do something you love

10. Go for a walk

11. Take half an hour for yourself

12. Go to bed early and read

13. Meet up with a friend for hot chocolate

14. Write about your day

15. Do a holiday activity with someone

16. Do yoga

17. Have a bath

18. Reward yourself with a treat for being awesome

19. Walk or drive around your neighbourhood and look at the lights

20. Eat a good breakfast

21. Read a book by the fireplace

22. Take a long shower

23. Watch a holiday movie

24. Give a gift to someone

Happy holidays!

The Happiness Project: Solo

I’ve never been a person who’s had problems doing things alone. When I lived with my parents I would go to the movies by myself every week. I don’t mind going to eat by myself or go sit in a coffee shop and write. So I thought this month was going to be a breeze. I went into it with a plan. Both my best friend and my girlfriend were going on vacation at the same time and I thought that would be a great opportunity to take myself on some nice dates. I’d go to the movies, out for dinner, stuff along those lines. 

Then November came around… With Christmas coming around, funds are a little low, not to mention time. I’ve been spending a lot of time working on Christmas gifts and all my money on the rest of them. So dates by myself weren’t exactly going to happen. 

Then there was the other factor. For anyone who listens to my podcast, you’ve probably heard my episode on Favourite People. I’m not going to sum it up here (but I recommend you go listen to that episode if you want to learn more). Anyways, Andrea is my favourite person and I was really struggling with the idea of her going away for a week and a half. Everyone else was so excited and happy for her, and I was too, but underlying it all was an overwhelming sense of panic and abandonment. Yes, I’m aware it was only a week and a half. I know most people would think I’m being completely unreasonable, but it was a big deal to me. I was talking to another woman with BPD beforehand and she completely got it. 

Anyways, before Andrea left she made sure to remind me that there are other people who love me and that I should leave the house every once in a while. I like to think I succeeded. I went to my friend’s Caffe one night, went to a show with one friend, out for coffee with one, for lunch with one, and I even hung out with a few friends to watch a movie. And yes, I did end up taking myself out for dinner one night too. I also let someone help me when I was having a really hard day. She came over and really lifted my spirit. It’s hard for me to admit when I need help, so I’m really proud of myself for admitting that. 

I’ve really been working on expanding my support system. Reaching out to more people, taking on a lot more myself. It’s hard but therapy, DBT, and CBT are working wonders.

I thought this month was going to be about me doing things by myself, but it wasn’t at all. It ended up being about doing things without Andrea and also accepting help. The theme of the month may have been solo but even my childhood hero Han Solo needed help sometimes. He had Luke and Leia and I have my friends too. Now, I don’t need validation for doing this. I needed to do it for myself. 

Join me next month for joy. Yes, an appropriate theme for December, I’m aware. 

Cult Classics vs Dupes: Part Three – Blush and Highlighter

This was the shortest category, but that didn’t make it any less fun. I’m not much of a blush person but I do love a good highlighter.

I tested NARS Orgasm vs. Milani Luminoso.

There is no doubt that Orgasm is gorgeous. It’s beautifully subtle and has a lovely shimmer to it. It costs $40cdn.

Luminoso is also lovely. It’s far more pigmented than Orgasm so it had to be applied with a light touch. It’s also matte. It costs $11.49cdn.

Orgasm vs. Luminoso

Winner: While I loved Orgasm, Luminoso wins simply for being a great product with a great price.

Winner: Milani Luminoso

I love highlighters! I tested Jeffree Star Skin Frost in Peach Goddess against AOA Wonder Baked Highlighter in Cupcake.

Skin Frost was so creamy and pigmented even though it’s a powder. It was long lasting as well. It costs $38cdn

Wonder Baked Highlighter was a surprisingly good product for the price. It didn’t apply as easily though. It costs $1.36cdn

Skin Frost vs. Wonder Baked Highlighter

I wanted to be able to pick AOA but Skin Frost was just so nice.

Winner: Jeffree Star Skin Frost in Peach Goddess

Highlighter 2
I tested Benefit High Beam against NYX Born to Glow Liquid Illuminator in Sunbeam.

High Beam was kind of underwhelming. I expected it to be more blinding but instead, it was rather subtle. Not a bad highlighter though. It costs $24cdn.

Born to Glow was very similar to High Beam. Didn’t last quite as long but looked the same. It costs $11cdn.

High Beam vs. Born to Glow

They were so similar that I really had to go by price and NYX is half the cost.

Winner: NYX Born to Glow Liquid Illuminator in Sunbeam

Join me next time for my last of this series, where I compare my favourite makeup: lipstick!

Cult Classics vs Dupes: Part Two – Eyes

Eyes had the most products but it was also the most fun. I love eyeliner and eyeshadow and it was super fun to test them against each other. 

Brows 1
The first brow test I did was a brow pencil. I tried Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz against NYX Micro brow pencil.

ABH Brow Wiz was really fun because I don’t own it/didn’t buy it so I may have used the tester in Sephora so I could test it out for this blog post. I felt kind of anxious about it, but isn’t that what testers are for anyways? I really liked the product. It lasted a long time and looked really natural. Brow Wiz costs $28cdn. 

NYX Micro Brow pencil was another product I didn’t own before I started this blog series. I was on vacation and I ran out of brow product and I didn’t want to buy something expensive since I had more at home, but I needed something so I figured this was the perfect opportunity to test out NYX Micro Brow. Now, the drug store I was at only had a small selection so the one I got ended up being slightly too light for me. It was still okay though. It didn’t stay as long as I would have liked but it did look fairly natural. Micro Brow costs $12cdn.

Brow Wiz vs. Micro Pencil

I wonder if I had have had the right shade of NYX Micro Brow if I would have picked it, but with the two products I tried, I just preferred Brow Wiz. It lasted longer and looked great. Micro Brow is a good cheaper alternative though.

Winner: Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz

Brows 2
The second brow product I tested was brow pomade. I used Benefit KaBrow and ELF Lock On Liner and Brow Cream.

Benefit has always been my go-to brow products because they look natural and are long-lasting and KaBrow is no exception. It costs $32cdn.

I only had ELF pomade in my apartment to apply stubble for cosplays, and now I know why i don’t use it as an actual brow product. It was goopy to apply, looked awful even though it was my colour and rubbed off easily. However, it only costs $5.26.

KaBrow vs. Lock On Liner and Brow Cream

Benefit was the clear winner here. A lot of the tests were hard to pick a winner but this one was the clear choice. 

Winner: Benefit KaBrow

Eye Primer
I tested the extremely popular Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion against ELF Shadow Lock Eyelid Primer.

Eyeshadow Primer Potion is a classic for a reason. It goes on smoothly and makes eyeshadow last all day. It costs $32cdn.

Shadow Lock wasn’t as smooth as Primer Potion was. It was harder to apply shadow over it and I found that it had more of a colour to it than Primer Potion did. However, it’s a decent product for $3.95cdn. 

Eyeshadow Primer Potion vs. Shadow Lock Eyelid Primer
Eyeshadow Primer Potion vs. Shadow Lock Eyelid Primer under eyeshadow

Both were great products but you just can’t beat the staying power of the Eyeshadow Primer Potion.

Winner: Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion

I tested the Urban Decay Naked Palette against the Ellen Tracy Nudity Pallete (even if it is probably closer to the Naked 3 Palette, a lot of the shades are still very similar).

Naked goes on smooth and is highly pigmented and long-lasting. It is truly a beautiful palette, but unfortunately, Urban Decay no longer sells it. It used to sell for $68cdn.

The Ellen Tracy Palette is also lovely and is a great dupe for a great price. It isn’t as pigmented and doesn’t last as long but it’s only $14.99cdn.

Naked vs. Nudity

For its beautiful pigment and how long it lasts I must say that I prefer Naked.

Winner: Urban Decay Naked

Eyeliner 1
For the first set of eyeliners, I tested Kat Von D Tattoo Liner vs. NYX Epic Ink Liner.

Tattoo Liner lives up to the hype. It went on smoothly and stayed on all day even though it definitely rained the day I wore it, and let’s be honest, I probably ended up crying at some point too. It costs $26.50cdn.

Epic Ink had been my go-to eyeliner for a long time until I noticed it had started bleeding all over my eyelid whenever I wore it. It is a more pigmented black than Tattoo Liner is, and it stays pretty well once on, but the bleeding is a huge downfall. It costs $12cdn.

Tattoo Liner vs. Epic Ink

I didn’t even want to try Tattoo Liner because I am morally against Kat Von D, but begrudgingly I have to admit that it is the better product.

Winner: Kat Von D Tattoo Liner

Eyeliner 2
For the second battle of the eyeliners I tested Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil against Rimmel Scandaleyes Kohl Kajal Eyeliner.

27/7 Glide-On Pencil stays on well but I found that it wasn’t that easy to apply. It costs $29.50cdn.

Kohl Kajal is a more intense black. It doesn’t last as long but it’s easier to apply. It costs $13.99cdn.

24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil vs. Kohl Kajal Eyeliner

I wasn’t in love with either one of these eyeliners but because it was easier to use and much cheaper, I must say I preferred the Rimmel one.

Winner: Rimmel Scandaleyes Kohl Kajal Eyeliner

For the last test of the eye products (and the dupe test that started this entire blog idea) I tested Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara against L’Oreal Lash Paradise Mascara.

Better Than Sex is not only fun to say, but it’s also a great mascara. It makes your lashes super long and beautiful. It costs $32cdn.

Lash Paradise, while not as fun to say, is also a great mascara. It doesn’t make your lashes quite as long as Better Than Sex does, but it still works great. It costs $10.96cdn.

Better Than Sex vs. Lash Paradise

Both were great, but since you’re supposed to replace your mascara every three months, Lash Paradise might be the better choice.

Winner: L’Oreal Lash Paradise

Join me next time for blush and highlighters!