Sunday, May 31, 2015

A Day in Ottawa

Good morning, dear readers!

Yesterday I went into Ottawa with my sister and father.  My sister and I had planned on going to a few stores downtown for about a week or so, and my father kindly offered to drive us (thank you so much dad, I know how much of a pain in the butt it is!!).

With anxiety, doing everyday things can be a lot tougher.  The night/morning before I couldn't sleep because a mix of anxiety and excitement (I don't get out as much XD I also have trouble sleeping the night before Christmas, and my birthday.  I can get REALLY excited about things!).

First off, we went to Sushi Kanata, and got their all you can eat lunch.  Every single time I've eaten there, their food has been excellent.  Yesterday was no exception.

I had the tempura shrimp and sweet potato, some crunchy spicy salmon rolls that were melt-in-your-mouth fresh, and some sesame dessert ball-things.  OH!  I just realised that I still have a fortune cookie in my purse! :D SCORE! (Edit: not anymore, I just ate it.)

After that we went to Bubblicity tea shop on Somerset, which is now named Dumpling Bowl (they started serving dumplings too after more competition for bubble tea popped up).  I got the taro sherbet and my sister got the mango slush.







I don't know who the artist is, but they have a bunch of paintings from someone that I really like.  I remember these from when I lived in Ottawa, and they brought back nice memories :D.  I especially like this one :


They changed their decor after the company makeover, and the interior is as lovely and calming as ever.

From there we went to World of Tea, an amazing tea shop on Bank St. with a wide selection and a very beautiful store.  The lady who was working there was the absolute sweetest!!  I believe she is one of the two owners.  She was incredibly helpful, obviously passionate about teas, and very knowledgeable.  She is such a lovely person!

I came in particularly for their matcha, as I've been wanting to get matcha for a loooong long time (and it's finally available in Ottawa!!).  They carry 5 different kinds: organic, culinary grade, chiyomukashi, hatsumukashi, and kyomukashi.

Sadly they were waiting on a shipment from Kyoto, and what they had left over was sold that very morning before I got there.  The lady felt really bad about it, but I should have called ahead before arriving there, and it wasn't her fault.  She offered me a 5% discount on matcha for when I come back (which is saying a lot, as it doesn't really go on sale).

I picked up a few more teas while I was there: a houjicha karigane and genmaicha for myself, and a flowering tea for my sister.





I picked up some matcha essentials while I was there:

A chasen:



And a really lovely chawan, which was surprisingly budget friendly:



I would have loved to go back there right after they get their shipment in, but it is downtown and I don't drive, I live outside of the city, and the busses where I am are pretty terrible.  Aside from that, it is very hard for me to go places that far often due to my anxiety disorders (especially if I have to go by myself).  I really hope that in the next few months I can manage to get back down there, as I would love to give them more business.  If you love teas and are in the area, I highly recommend it!! :D

As I really wanted to try some matcha, I ended up picking up some from David's Tea in the Rideau Center.  I would have preferred trying the ones that World of Tea offered, but as it will probably be months before I can go downtown again, I settled on the ceremonial matcha at David's.  They offer three different kinds (not including the ones infused with other flavours, like the vanilla matcha): grand cru matcha, matcha matsu, and ceremonial matcha.  There was a definite visual difference between the grades, and I went with the brightest and most vivid one they had.



I was originally a bit leery of trying it, as David's Tea is chain store, and I wondered at the quality of this as a lot of places are hopping onto the matcha train (with widely varying qualities in the matcha they offer).  However, so far I am really impressed!  David's Tea sources their matcha from Nishio, and while I haven't tasted it yet (and I am in no way at all a matcha connoisseur!), the colour and fragrance are absolutely enthralling.  It's hard for me to describe the scent of green tea, as I find it is the only thing I've smelled that has that exact fragrance.  But this is an intense, creamy, beautiful green tea, and I am looking forward to tasting it.



I do wish that they had smaller cannisters, so there would be less air getting at it.  Oh well, what can you do?

Here you can see the difference in quality between David's Ceremonial Matcha and a powdered green tea bought years ago:


(Please excuse the bit of lower-quality tea that got onto the matcha on the right.)

The David's Tea matcha is beautiful!!

After that, we popped into Lush (which was very conveniently beside the David's Tea!), and I picked up a few things for my sister, my friend, and I.


I picked up several things that I never reviewed before, so I'm looking forward to that.

All in all we were out for about 5 hours, and I am so happy that the three of us could spend the day together and go to all those places (and eat all that delicious food!).  I'm also very happy that I was able to sell three paintings earlier this month that allowed me to have money to go out today.

I hope you have a wonderful day, and thank you for stopping by my blog! :D

-Ashley


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Lush Sugar Scrub Review


Good evening, dear readers! :D

Today I have a review of Lush's Sugar Scrub body scrub.

This retails for $6.25 Can. for 100 grams.




"Stimulating ginger and fennel sugar scrub
Our solid Sugar Scrub is tough on cellulite and unwanted bumps, but kind on your skin. It’s no nonsense attitude doesn’t waste any time getting down to business; sweetly exfoliating with Fair Trade sugar and stimulating circulation with fennel and ginger. It’s not all rough stuff though; calming lavender has a balancing effect and encourages healthier skin. Get yourself wet in the bath or shower (but don’t let the bar get under the running water). Scrub, scrub, scrub and rinse away! You’ll be left with smoother, cleaner and radiant skin. Water you waiting for? Get scrubbing!" - Lush.ca



Ingredients: Granulated Fair Trade Sugar Sodium Bicarbonate Cream of Tartar (Potassium bitartrate) Sodium Laureth Sulfate Fresh Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) Fennel Oil (Foeniculum vulgare) Lavender Oil (Lavandula augustifolia) Fresh Ginger Root (Zingiber officinalis) Lauryl Betaine *Limonene ,*Linalool Fragrance Chlorophyllin . *Occurs naturally in essential oils



I read that it's best to break up the scrub and use only as much as you need, as opposed to trying to rub the entire scrub on you in solid form.  Once water hits the scrub it starts to dissolve, so depending on how much water got on it, using it in one big piece may make it last for only one go.  By breaking it up you have more control over how much you use, and can make this scrub last for several rounds.

I tried hitting it repeatedly with a sturdy butter knife, and tried to chip away at it, but barely anything happened as it was as hard as rock.  It was also around 4 a.m., so I couldn't do anything too loud in the house (like hit it with a hammer!), so I went out front with the scrub in two sandwich bags, and thwacked it repeatedly on the cement front step. XD That worked pretty well!

I put the scrub into an empty Blousey container I had, then used a thick spoon to break up the remaining chunks a bit more.




To use it, I grabbed a couple of the larger pieces, put them in the palm of my hand, and dribbled water over them.  I crushed them with my fingers until they melted down into a green paste, then I rubbed that on my skin.  I tried using a chunk of it straight on my skin, and that is NOT a good idea D:.  It was too hard and scraped rather roughly, and it was very unpleasant.

It does foam up a little bit, as SLS is an ingredient.  Nothing too foamy, and it is funny smearing greenish stuff on your arms and legs.  XD

The scent is quite lovely, and I'm guessing it is the fennel that I am smelling, although I am not as familiar with that herb, and so cannot be 100% sure.  It does scent the skin a little bit, but the fragrance stays very close to the skin.

Afterwards my skin was definitely smoother, but I attribute a lot of that to the softening ingredients than to the actual scrubbing.  As it starts to melt, the scrubbiness starts going away, so I couldn't scrub with it for too long.  I'm sure it would have done more had I used more chunks, but that's just something to keep in mind.  Work fast, and you should be okay! :D

Would I purchase it again?  Probably not, as I prefer having something that really moisturizes my skin as well, like the Buffy body bar.  I could just put moisturizer on afterwards, but I've been spoiled by the other products Lush carries.  >:D

The scrub does what it says it will do, but not as effectively as other scrubs I have tried.  I suggest the Buffy bar.  However, if you want a Lush scrub that doesn't leave a rather noticeable layer of oils and butters on your skin, then this is worth a try!

What are some of your favourite scrubs?

Have a wonderful day! :D

-Ash

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Lush Shine So Bright Split End Treatment Review

Good morning, lovelies!

Today I have a review of Lush's Shine So Bright Split End Treatment.


(My tin is a bit beat up, as I have thrown it into various purses and bags to carry it around with me, so below is a better looking photo from Lush.ca)



This retails for $9.95 Can. for 10 grams.

"Mend those ends

We've concocted a beautiful balm to prevent split ends and help hair shine so bright. Extra virgin coconut and olive oils, shea butter and fresh free range eggs nourish and improve the tensile strength of hair to prevent and mend split ends. It works wonderfully as a finishing product as well, taming fly-aways and keeping hair in place for a flawless look. Add to that an orange flower, grapefruit, neroli and rosewood perfume and you won't want to leave home without this!" - Lush.ca
Ingredients: Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (Cocos nucifera) , Shea Butter (Butyrospermum parkii) , Candelilla Wax (Euphorbia cerifera) , Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Olea europaea) , Fragrance , Neroli Oil (Citrus Aurantium amara) , Grapefruit Oil (Citrus paradisi) , Rosewood Oil (Aniba rosaeodora) , Fresh Free Range Eggs ,Gardenia Extract (Gardenia jasminoides) ,Hydroxycitronellal , Geraniol , *Citral , *Farnesol ,*Limonene , *Benzyl Benzoate , *Linalool



Although it says it "mends" split ends, you can't really do that, you just cut them off to make them go away.  But if you are like me and don't cut your hair as often as you should because you can't bear to see it being snipped away, chances are you have split ends that need dealing with.  I've seen some weiiiird split ends in my day, all from my own head.  Sure, there is the traditional "split into two at the bottom" split end, but then there is this:

Not just one split, but multiple.  Or whatever was going on on the left in the image above... I'm not even sure.  I had to show my sister that hair, because it was so ridiculous.

So, although I take a pair of scissors now and then and hunt the split ends, many remain, and are in dire need of help.  (Although my hair is brown now, there were big chunks of hair that were bleached multiple times, and the frailty of those hairs is becoming more and more obvious as time passes.)

This is where Shine So Bright comes in handy.

It leaves a coating on your hair to help smooth down those pesky shafts, and I believe that by doing so, it would help prevent the splits from getting worse.  You can tell when you have bad split ends and you brush your hair and it tangles even easier than it normally would from those tiny fibers wrapping around other hairs.  Which only makes them worse.  So a nice coating of SSB is pretty helpful.



You could definitely use different things for the same purpose and it would probably work just as well, but with this, you get a perfect sized tin to carry it around, and the perfume alone is worth the purchase.



The scent is amaaaazing!!  It smells like Happy Happy Joy Joy conditioner and Sea Spray hair mist, which have a glorious neroli and orange flower perfume.

Here is a before and after:


I kinda had to place my hair a bit for the second photo, since I just threw it forward for the first after brushing my hair and I wanted it to be similar.  

I warmed some product on my fingers, then placed it on my tips and some further up the hair, as my hair is very uneven and I have some parts that are a lot shorter than other parts.

Aside from mending split ends (because you really can't, unless Shine So Bright is magic), SSB helps to smooth down flyaways and it does add shine.  It also perfumes the hair in a subtle but pleasant way for a little while afterwards.  It's hard to flatten out a split end when the split isn't at the end, but I think this will protect the hair a bit better to help prevent fraying. 

I am happy with my purchase and would get it again.  It smells so darn good, and it's so handy to keep around for toning down hair crazy.

Have you tried Shine So Bright?  

Take care and have a wonderful day! :D

-Ash


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Lush Items That Didn't Work For Me

Good morning, dear readers!

Over the past couple years there were several Lush products that I tried and that I found didn't work so well with me, whether it was because of my sensitive skin, or because of some other reason.

Instead of making separate posts for each of these (I do that sometimes), I figured I'd clump these ones into one post.  :D  That way I can get my reviews out, and add them to my Lush list and tab up near the top of my blog.  Also, they will be rather quick reviews, as I will mainly point out what went wrong for me.

For every one Lush product that I didn't like as much, there are a bunch that I lurve, and this company continues to impress me over and over again.

Everyone is different, and how I react to something isn't necessarily how you'll react to it.  Plenty of people love and have no issues at all with these products.  Please don't think that I am saying that these are bad products, because I am not.  They just didn't work for me personally.

Okie dokie, with that out of the way, here we goooo:

Lush Celestial facial moisturizer.

$24.95 Can. for 45 grams.



"Divine blend for sensitive skin
Redness. Stinging. Irritation. Sound familiar? Having sensitive skin can be incredibly frustrating (even painful!), which is why we invented our most gentle moisturizer, Celestial. With its creamy cocoa butter base, Celestial effectively moisturizes without irritating ingredients like citrus oils or alcohol. We blend vanilla water, to help the skin retain its moisture, with hydrating almond milk and fresh dove orchid extract to keep delicate skin in soft, glowing condition. Celestial also doubles as a fantastically softening night cream for all skin types." - Lush.ca
Ingredients: Vanilla Water (Vanilla planifolia) , Almond Oil (Prunus dulcis) , Almond Milk (Prunus dulcis) , Glycerine , Fair Trade Organic Cocoa Butter (Theobroma Cacao) ,Fragrance , Fresh Dove Orchid Extract (Dendrobium) ,Cetearyl Alcohol , Stearic Acid , *Anise Alcohol ,Triethanolamine , Methylparaben , Propylparaben

Made for dry and/or sensitive faces, this sadly broke me out.  But that doesn't surprise me, as almost everything breaks me out.  My skin is just like that.  :(  I really felt fancy too with using the dove orchid extract on my face.  I love the name of this moisturizer, and the short, attractive ingredient list.  But my skin didn't.

Lush Imperialis facial moisturizer:

$24.95 Can. for 45 grams.



"Perfectly balancing lavender cream
If you’re not sure which moisturizer is for you, we recommend starting here. Imperialis is a finely crafted moisturizer that works with most skin types to ease and soothe irritations. Made with lavender infusion to balance the skin's sebum production, the lavender encourages dry skin to produce more natural oils and discourages oily skin from overdoing it. Orange blossom water brightens up dull looking areas and leaves you smelling gorgeous all day long." - Lush.ca
Ingredients: Lavender Flower Infusion (Lavandula angustifolia) ,Mullein Leaf Infusion (Verbascum thapsus) , Orange Blossom Water (Citrus dulcis) , Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Olea europaea) , Stearic Acid , Shea Butter (Butyrospermum parkii) , Fair Trade Cocoa Butter (Theobroma cacao) , Glycerine , Cetearyl Alcohol ,Orange Flower Absolute (Citrus Aurantium amara) ,Tiger Lily Extract (Lilium Tigrinum) , St. Johns Wort Extract (Hypericum perforatum) , Elderflower Extract (Sambucus nigra) , Sweet Violet Extract (Viola odorata), Sunflower Petal Extract (Helianthus annuus) , Alkanet Extract (Alkanna tinctoria) , Triethanolamine ,Methylparaben , Fragrance , Propylparaben
Aimed to be suitable for most skin types.  Except for mine.  This one broke me out too.  :(  Why skin, whyyyyy?

Ultrabland facial cleanser:

$16.95 Can. for 45 grams, or $29.95 for 100 grams.




"Non-irritating beeswax cleanser
A hugely popular cult product, Ultrabland is a thick, rich emulsion of essential oils, honey and beeswax to take off any make up or residue that has built up on your face throughout the day. Unlike most make up removers, Ultrabland leaves your skin feeling soft and nourished, thanks to soothing rosewater and iris flower extract. Suitable for all skin types, Ultrabland is a classic LUSH cleanser coveted by staff and customers alike for it’s effectiveness. Not so bland after all, is it?" - Lush.ca
Ingredients: Almond Oil (Prunus dulcis) , Rose Water (Rosa centifolia) , Beeswax (Cera alba) , Honey (Mel) , Fresh Iris Extract (Iris florentina) , Glycerine , Rose Absolute (Rosa damascena) , Tincture of Benzoin (Styrax benzoin) , Methylparaben , Propylparaben

Great for melting away makeup, not so great at keeping my skin blemish free.  This broke me out as well.  Maybe I have a ph problem?  Maybe the beeswax clogged my skin?  I don't know.  

Figs and Leaves soap:

$7.60 Can. for 100 grams.




"Fruity, exfoliating figgy scrubby soap
Sophisticated, and subtly sexy, our Figs and Leaves soap is understated in appearance and effect. Modestly draped in grape leaves, and demurely creamy beige in color; it's the scent of this soap that draws you in: alluring orange blossom and juicy figs, with an undertone of eastern exoticism. Figs are incredibly nutritious and good for your body, and their scrubby brown seeds exfoliate and really get to work getting you clean. Wonderfully suited for irritated and sensitive skin, organic aloe vera is calming and gentle. Seductive, nutritious, scrubby, and soothing – what are you waiting for?" - Lush.ca
Ingredients: Water (Aqua) , Rapeseed Oil (Brassica napus) , Fig Decoction (Ficus carica) , Glycerine , Coconut Oil (Cocos nucifera) , Aloe Vera Extract (Aloe barbadensis) , Fragrance , Ylang Ylang Oil (Cananga odorata) , Orange Flower Absolute (Citrus Aurantium amara) , Organic Aloe Vera Gel (Aloe barbadensis) ,Sodium Chloride , Titanium Dioxide , Sodium Hydroxide , EDTA , Tetrasodium Etidronate , *Benzyl Benzoate , Lilial , *Linalool , Vine Leaf (Vitis Vinifera)
When I purchased this in store, I loved the scent.  I love the whole idea behind it.  Figs and leaves...so decadent, and fancy sounding.  :D  I don't know if I smelled it too many times on the way home, but by the time I got there, I actually managed to get sick of the smell, and I really didn't like it anymore!  Maybe it smelled different to me in the store with all the other Lush products scenting the air.  I ended up giving it to my sister, and it became one of her favourite products.  Then it turned out that after a while this was really drying on both her, and my skin! :(
$6.40 Can. for 100 grams:

"Lusciously fruity, supremely creamy soap
Revel in Sultana’s majesty, and have a wash with the royalty of soaps. It looks like a fancy Italian dessert; a giant nougat cake topped with succulent currants and apricots. Smooth a slice of our soft decadent soap all over your body for a creamy lather and the most dazzling bergamot and olibanum scent. Your skin will be delighted and you’ll be left softer and smelling like a fancy candy shop with a touch of fruity sweetness. If you weren’t invited to the wedding, at least you can brush shoulders with royalty in the shower." - Lush.ca
Ingredients: Water (Aqua) , Propylene Glycol , Rapeseed Oil ,Coconut Oil (Brassica napus; Cocos nucifera) ,Sodium Hydroxide , Fragrance , Dried Apricots (Prunus armeniaca) , Dried Currants (Ribes Nigrum) ,Titanium Dioxide , Glycerine , Dried Cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon) , Olibanum Oil (Boswella Carterii) , Bergamot Oil (Citrus Aurantium bergamia) ,Sodium Chloride , EDTA , Tetrasodium Etidronate
Another case of "liked the scent in the store, not so much by itself".  Nice and creamy, but I ended up disliking the fragrance, and gave it to my sister.
$7.95 for 100 grams.

"Seriously citrusy and scrubby suds
Sandstone is seriously scrubby; it’s the strongest, scrubbiest soap we make. Loved by men and women alike, it was inspired by babes on the beaches of Brazil who mix sand with tanning oil to make their backsides smooth as silk. The layer of sand will exfoliate your body as you wash to leave you with soft, touchable skin. For once, getting sand all over your bits is a good thing! Coriander and gardenia oils tone and brighten, and your skin will be seductively scented with citrus notes of a tropical cocktail. Have yourself a shower vacation." - Lush.ca
Ingredients: Water (Aqua) , Sand , Glycerine , Rapeseed Oil ,Coconut Oil (Brassica napus; Cocos nucifera) ,Sodium Hydroxide , Sodium Stearate , Fragrance ,Litsea Cubeba Oil , Coriander Oil (Coriandrum sativum), Sodium Chloride , Gardenia Extract (Gardenia jasminoides) , EDTA , Tetrasodium Etidronate , *Citral, *Geraniol , *Limonene , *Linalool , Hydroxycitronellal
This definitely does what it says it will do!  And it will do it with a delicious lemony fragrance.  My skin is waaaay too sensitive for it though, so I used the rest of it on my feet, which was lovely! :D
$7.95 Can. for 100 grams.

"Invigorating seaweed and lime soap
Splish, splash it’s time to take a bath with our best-selling soap inspired by the sea. Sea Vegetable is made with skin softening seaweed, one of our favorite ingredients, with a crust of stimulating sea salt to give your body a good scrub down. In addition to cleansing your skin, salt also helps to soften and hydrate. Float away with the reviving scents of lime, lavender and seaweed. Instantly relaxing, your senses will be transported to groves of citrus trees and vibrant flowers. The best part? Your skin will be revived, brightened, and clean." - Lush.ca
Ingredients: Propylene Glycol , Water (Aqua) , Rapeseed Oil; Coconut Oil (Brassica napus; Cocos nucifera) , Coarse Sea Salt (Sodium Chloride) , Sodium Stearate ,Sodium Lauryl Sulfate , Sodium Hydroxide , Arame Seaweed (Eisenia arborea) , Lime Oil (Citrus aurantifolia) , Lavender Oil (Lavandula augustifolia) ,Seaweed Absolute (Fucus vesiculosus) , Glycerine ,Sodium Chloride , EDTA , Tetrasodium Etidronate ,*Citral , *Geraniol , *Limonene , *Linalool , Fragrance ,Blue 1 , Yellow 5
This soap looks so lovely!!  Such a gorgeous colour, and it has a pleasant fragrance.  The salty top was too scratchy for me though, and I prefer more moisturizing soaps.  No go for me, but my sister liked it :D.

"Creamy dove orchid cleanser
Like Dolly says, 9 to 5 is quite the way to make a living. It can take its toll on the skin and leave you looking worn out. Our inventors created this one a long time ago and named it 'Orchid Oil Cleanser.' Our customers had been crying out for a liquid cleanser, so we decided to bring (the newly renamed) 9 to 5 to the LUSH shelves. This gentle cleanser is made with almond oil, dove orchids and everlasting flower absolute to remove your leftover make up, dirt and grime at the end of a long work day." - Lush.ca
Ingredients: Water (Aqua) , Almond Oil (Prunus dulcis) , Stearic Acid , Fresh Dove Orchid Extract (Dendrobium) ,Everlasting Flower Absolute (Helichrysum Italicum) ,Ylang Ylang Oil (Cananga odorata) , Triethanolamine ,Cetearyl Alcohol , Fragrance , Methylparaben ,Propylparaben
Uuugh that ingredient list!! *hearts*.  Again with the dove orchid.  And everlasting flower.  Add ylang ylang?  Fancy!  Sadly, my skin broke out.  Come to think of it, I tried several of those products that caused me to break out in a short time frame (if I remember correctly), so maybe my skin was just overloaded with new things?
So there we go, several things that didn't work as hoped on my skin.  Have you tried any of these?  If so, I hope that they worked well for you! :D
Have a fantastic day!
-Ash

Products I'm Really Enjoying Right Now

Good afternoon, dear readers! Today's post is about some of products that I've been enjoying lately!  Swatches (where applicable) ...