Monthly Archives: December 2011

Book Review: Pure + Simple – A Holistic Guide to Natural Beauty by Kristen Ma

As I mentioned in previous posts, I have recently read the above mentioned book. I needed to educate myself more on skin care and I spotted this book at my local Pure and Simple Spa. Another skin care book I have reviewed is The Skin Type Solution by Dr. Leslie Baumann.

As you may know, I am not new to skincare regiments and lingo. I’ve been suffering from acne since grade 7, and have gone through my fair share (and then some), of dermatologists, estheticians, beauty products and prescription medicines. But I am always open to learn more about anything, and due to my vanity, I am especially interested in learning about skin care.

I wanted to read Kristen’s book, but I did not want to plunk down the $30 to buy the book. A quick search on my local library system showed there were a number of copies available. 🙂

Onto my review.

Chapter 1: What is Natural Skincare?

Ma talks about what is natural skincare and stresses the importance of reading labels to truly determine the natural content amount. She also talks about various reasons to go natural with our skin care, including: absorption of chemicals, social responsibility and being more aware of our bodies.

Chapter 2: Skin Basics

Ma introduces us to the functions of the skin, as well as the skin’s structure. She talks about skin classification vs skin conditions.

Skin classifications are what is typically used to describe the skin, such as the following:

  • Dry skin
  • Normal skin
  • Oily skin
  • Combination skin

Skin conditions describe the condition of the skin and can vary with environment and other factors. They are as follows:

  • Dehydrated skin
  • Sensitive skin
  • Unbalanced skin
  • Problem skin

Chapter 3: Ayurveda

Ma believes that Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine are very important to achieving beautiful skin as these are more holistic treatments and focus on preventative manners.

Ma goes into a bit of history regarding Ayurveda and introduces the Three Doshas: Kapha, Pitta and Vata. There is also a Ayurveda questionnaire at the back to determine your individual dosha.

Chapter 4: Our Bodies Tell us So Much

Here, Ma introduces two face maps: Ayurveda and the parts of the face, and the Chinese Face Map.

The Ayurveda face map is broken into 3 parts. The forehead is the Vatta region. The cheeks and nose is the Pitta region. And lastly, the lower cheeks, jaws, lips and chin are the Kapha region. Blemishes or inflammation in each of these face regions indicate an imbalance related to a separate cause or region of the body.

The Chinese face map is more comprehensive and shows different areas of the face relating to specific organs. For instance, under-eye circles indicate weak kidneys and frown lines between the eye brows indicate an overworked liver and spleen.

Chapters 5 – 12: Various topics on how to protect and care for your skin

These chapters include the following topics and are pretty self explanatory:

Chapter 5: Ingredients to avoid. (Mainly petrolatum/ paraffinium liquidum and sodium laurel sulfates.)

Chapter 6: The importance of calming down.

Chapter 7: Glow

Chapter 8: Protect yourself (Use sunscreen, preferably a physical sunblock as opposed to a chemical sun screen.)

Chapter 9: Be Gentle (Do not use abrasive or harsh chemicals on your skin.)

Chapter 10: Decongest (Basically, a combination of natural chemical exfoiliants and physical extractions via facials)

Chapter 11: Beauty 911

Chapter 12: Skincare 101


I thought that Ma’s book was an easy and quick read. Ma touches a lot of good points about how our perspective of beauty has changed and her thoughts of natural vs “man made” beauty. She gives some background to approaching beauty in a more holistic manner, which I am huge fan of.

I think the book reads more as a magazine article than a reference book, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was reading marketing material. I learned some new things, but overall, I wasn’t overly impressed and didn’t find it as informing as I had hoped.

I hope you don’t take this review the wrong way, as it is strictly a review on the book itself – I am a huge fan of Pure and Simple spa and their products (as you will find out from my holy grail items). But this book…

I found Ma’s discussion of Ayurveda wishy-washy and I didn’t get much out of it. For me, there was a lack of information and connection between the general introduction and the explanation. Even though I found Chapter 5 – 12 had some helpful information, but I felt a lot of the information overlapped, and could have been presented more cohesively.

If you are looking for a quick and light read on natural skin care, this might be the book for you, but if you are looking for more information intensive read on skin care, I’d recommend Baumann’s book over this one.

Side note: I am a (pretty) loyal client at Pure + Simple (P&S) spas, and with the amount of P&S toiletries in my vanity, you’d think there was a mini P&S spa in my apartment. I am a huge fan of P&S products. But I wasn’t overly impressed with the book and didn’t find it as informing as I had hoped.

Have you read Kristen Ma’s Pure + Simple? What are your thoughts on the book or on natural skin care products and holistic skin treatments?



Filed under Book Review, Health

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Winter Solstice, andHappy New Year

I wish everyone a safe and merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, happy winter solstice and a Happy New Year! 🙂


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Reminder: Grown-up Christmas Giveaway

Hello, everyone!

This is the last reminder of my giveaway which ends December 25th at midnight!

You can win these two lovely and very useful finance books. I understand that money might be tight this month.  You do not have to give to charity to enter my giveaway – that just gives you additional entries. 🙂

I will match all your donations by 50% up to $250 with a donation of my own to Toronto’s Sick Kids Hospital.

Mandatory entries:

Leave a comment of your grown-up Christmas List and fill in the form.

Additional entries:

Give to charity and tell me the amount; follow me via RSS feeder, email subscription, Twitter and tweet about this.or write a blog post about this giveaway.

Good luck, everyone! 🙂

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Filed under Admin

Link Love (powered by Tin Tin and the Holidays)

It’s December 23rd, and you know what that means?  The biggest shopping day in Canada!

And you know what my plans are today?  I’m going in for half day of work, then I’m going to watch Tintin (perhaps by myself), and then go for a nice dinner with BF before we break away for the holidays.

There have been so many great posts around the blogosphere lately, this is only a small sample of my favourites!

Wishing all my readers a very happy and safe holiday no matter what your plans are.  Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah.  Happy Winter Solstice.

See everyone in the new year! 🙂

Holiday Related

  • The Holiday Spirit on Budget and Helping others by Blonde on  a Budget.  Cait shares a tradition where her and her friend walk dogs from the local shelter on Christmas and throughout the year.  She is such a sweet heart!
  • Fabulously Broke had my favourite gift guide!  Is she reading my mind?  If you are looking for last minute gift ideas, check it out.
  • Money Rabbit is having a mall-free Christmas for the second year, where she either makes something or bakes something for her loved ones.
  • Andrea at So Over Debt is Over the Holidays.  I share many of her sentiments (being a scrooge myself), and forgot to link back to her when my post published!


  • Krystal has quit her job and is moving to Europe!!  I really admire Krystal’s approach to not only cutting down her expenses, buying a house and her side gigs and couldn’t be more happy for this new step in her life!
  • Fabulously Broke explores why women refuse to marry down.  Lots of great discussion on that post!  For me, what it boils down to is that I want a partner to share my life experiences  with.
  • Financial Uproar shares his views on why women refuse to marry down and calls women out on their double standard.
  • Financial Samurai wonders why a certain woman he met at a bar is rich, intelligent and still single. Are her expectations too high?  Or does she just have too high of an opinion of herself?
  • Married with Luggage has a post telling us to stop apologizing for taking up space.  I didn’t even realize how many times I apologized until I started to pay more attention to myself.  It was an eye-opener!

Fashion and Beauty

  • Jen at From Head to Toe reviews the Revlon Lip Butters and I was convinced!  I grabbed “peach parfair” at my local drugstore and I LOVE it!!  I am now waiting eagerly for it to go on sale.
  • Jen from She Bloggs shares what’s in her cabinet.  I am so nosy and love seeing what’s in other people’s purse/cabinet/make-up stash.  I totally agree with her on the Vaseline and I use it every night 🙂
  • Look for Less features a black and brown ensemble inspired by Pinterst that is perfect for this cold weather.  I love neutrals and love this outfit.
  • I even prefer the Look for Less version of the jersey wrap dress.  I prefer the drapier and less frumpier look – and it costs less!
  • Katherine from Feather Factor gets an email from a reader looking to buy a Chanel bag.  I was tempted to comment, but was afraid I’d just sound clueless and not write something helpful.  The truth is, I cannot fathom coughing up $4,000 for a bag.  Am I weird??


Hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday.  Don’t forget my giveaway ends December 25th at midnight! 🙂



Filed under Link Love

Confession: I’m Kinda a Scrooge…

(Image via)

I’ve been seeing so many great holiday gifts guides around the blogosphere, but I can’t help but cringe at the thought of stepping foot in a mall (or even a strip plaza, or any store, really).   As you know from my post here, I don’t exchange/give gifts to even the closest of my friends.  And we’re all okay with that!

Why I don’t like Gift Exchanges

I really dread the thought of pushing through crowds and fighting for the remnants of a sale to get a gift.  And also, I am not organized enough to shop ahead of the holiday season. So, I really don’t want to burden my friends with having to fight crowds and sift through stuff, just to get me a gift.

How much should I spend?  What if they spent so much on me and I only spent $20 for them?  Would they really like this? Really?

If I see something I think one of my dear friends will love, I will just gift it to them.  No reason to wait for Christmas.

We are all (mostly) Adults

I really think that Christmas gifts are for kids.  As a kid, I really looked forward to getting gifts at Christmas since I couldn’t really buy my own gifts (we got gifts from my relatives – my parents didn’t really get my sisters and I gifts).  But as an adult, I can buy my own gifts and exactly what I want, and my friends can buy their own gifts and get exactly what they want.

And even though gift cards are nice, sometimes, it’s just nicer to just to the restaurant together, or to just go shopping together and buy what we want to buy for ourselves!

Crazy Consumerism

I think our society has taken the consumerism part of Christmas and made it into something that will solve all our problems.  The message of “give the perfect gift and you will be the best friend/spouse/daughter/mother/employer/etc. ever!” is pretty much the message of every commercial I’ve seen or heard.

Don’t get me wrong, I like shopping, sometimes.

But Christmas isn’t about sales, it’s about something much, much more than that.

Non-religious Short Rant

I’m not a religious person, but when I was little, I really looked forward to singing Christmas carols in the gymnasium every year.  You know, there a teacher plays the piano and the lyrics are on a projector screen?  I loved those and I wasn’t Christian.

I know that a lot of public school don’t allow that any more, and I find it very sad.  It’s like it’s not okay to sing about Christmas, but it’s OK to use the word Christmas/Holiday and smear it all over sales. le sigh. /rant

I am Already so Rich 🙂

I have a wonderful and supportive family, whom I recently had a chance to spend 2 weeks away with.  It really was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

I have a really awesome boyfriend who is caring, loving, honest, so incredibly supportive and he makes really great salad dressing! 🙂

I have great girlfriends who keep me grounded and keep me sane.  We have been through so much together.  They never judge me and always have my best interests at heart.

I have a safe and clean place to call home with great land lords who take care of me like I was their grand daughter.  And the rent is also ah-mazing! 🙂


So, even though I’m kinda a Scrooge, I still can’t help but get exciting about the holidays.  I love the crisp air, the fluffy snow, the beautiful decor and lights, the coziness of a fireplace, and a cup of hot chocolate after a morning shoveling the snow.  It just feels like home 🙂

Are you a scrooge?  What are your thoughts on the holiday?  What are some of your traditions?


PS.  Enter my Grown-up Christmas wish Giveaway for a chance to win Gail’s book and support a charity!!


Filed under Uncategorized

My Holy Grail Beauty Items

(Image Source)

As I mentioned in my previous posts, I have struggled with my skin for much of this year.  I’ve tried both going to see estheticians and dermatologist. Then, after 6 long months, I finally found a skin regime that worked for me.

These are my “holy grail” items that I always have come to love and have a permanent home in my washroom vanity.

Spectro Jel

This gentle (and very inexpensive) cleanser has stuck with me through thick and thin.  It’s nothing fancy; it doesn’t have a perfume scent and it doesn’t foam, but it cleans my skin gently without stripping it.

I bought a 900mL bottle from Costco for $16.99

DIY Make-up Remover

I always double cleanse.  That means I remove my makeup first, and then cleanse my face with a cleanser.  I’ve tried other store brand make-up removers and I  prefer making my own.  It’s inexpensive and super gentle.

In a 100mL bottle, I mix one squirt of baby oil with 2 squirts of baby shampoo, then fill the rest of the bottle up with water.  Shake.  A bottle usually lasts me a month.

Martina Gerbert Black Mud Lotion

I use this lotion as a night cream and I LOVE it.  It’s light scent makes me feel like I just came back from a spa, and my face is always so supple and moisterized the next morning.  Plus, it’s meant for more oily and acne prone skin (like mine!).

It’s a bit pricer at $65 for a 100mL bottle.  I usually try to get in on sale from Pure and Simple for 15 – 20% off specials.

Pure & Simple Algea Serum

I use the serum at night for an extra boost of moisture to my skin.  Keeping my skin moisturized is key to keeping it healthy.  I put this on my face after cleansing while it’s still a little damp. It’s super light and is absorbed so easily by my skin. Then I layer on the Differin Gel (acne medication) and black mud lotion.  This is the most inexpensive serum in the Pure and Simple line, and it works great for me.

This serum is fairly reasonable at approximately $43 for 100mL.

Neo Strata 8% Glycolic Acid Toner with 2% Clindamycin Phosphate & Differin XP Gel

These are both prescription medication prescribed by my dermatologist.  I use the Differin Gel at night over my serum, and under neath my black mud lotion.  It treats my acne and prevents new ones from forming.  I use the glyolic acid toner in the morning, and it helps with exfoiliating my skin.

My health benefits cover 80% of the cost so this is more affordable to me.  Approx. full cost is $80 for the Differin Gel and $45 for the Neo Strata.

Cover FX Matte Primer

My face can get really oily, so this primer really helps my make-up last longer.  I usually apply a small amount in my t-zone only.  This primer is pretty pricey for ~$40 for 30mL, and I never see this brand on sale.

Cover FX Natural Foundation

This foundation is medium coverage and I use it as a spot concealer instead of an all-over foundation.  It doesn’t irritate my skin and gives me great coverage, which can be layered on.

There is also a great shade selection to match your skin colour.  Also a bit on the pricey side for ~$40 for 30mL, but since I use it as a concealer, it’s fairly reasonable.

MAC Blotting Powder

I have been using this since forever and I always go back to this.  It’s a translucent powder that does a great job absorbing oil.  I like to keep it in my purse for touch ups during the day.  It doesn’t clog my pores and does a great job setting my concealer.  It’s a bit pricey at $30 for a compact that lasts me 3 – 4 months.

Sour Cream and Honey mask

I don’t make this mask enough, but I LOVE it.  My skin is always so radiant after using this mask.  It’s inexpensive, as a tub of sour cream will last me close to a month and I use it to cook with, as well.

The sour cream contains lactic acid and the honey fights bacteria and soothes my skin.

Kiss my Face Shampoo

I am trying to use products that are better for my body, and one of the things I’ve done is cut out sulfates and parabens from the things I use everyday.  Kiss my face is a paraben and sulfate free shampoo.

I love it because it is gentle and cleanses my hair without stripping it.  It’s also got a lovely light scent that is not overwhelming.  It’s more expensive than most drugstore brand shampoos, but well worth it. I buy the 1L tub for $16 from my local health food store.

Baking Soda deep clean rinse

I’ve been training my hair for a while now to be washed every other day.  But sometimes, the oil builds up in my hair, so I use this rinse to clean out build up and residue.

Mix a teaspoon of baking soda with 50mL of water and just work it into your scalp after your shampoo, then rinse away.  Works every time.  Just make sure you condition afterwards.


I find that when I get enough sleep, and consistently go to bed at the same time every night, my skin always looks healthier and feels better.  I like to get at least 8 hours a night and I usually retire to bed around 10:00 – 10:30 and wake up at 7:00am.  I like to sleep a lot 😉

What are some of your holy grail items that keep you feeling and looking your best?


PS.  Enter my Grown-up Christmas wish Giveaway for a chance to win Gail’s book and support a charity!!


Filed under Personal

Hong Kong Trip Expenses

I mentioned briefly that I was recently on vacation in Hong Kong.  My family and I spent 2 weeks in Hong Kong.  Hong Kong is a pretty small place and to spend 2 weeks there might be a bit much, but we really enjoyed our time there.

When I travel, I really enjoy staying in one place and really get know the area and culture. Even though, seeing attractions can be fun, in moderation, I really enjoy just “pretending” to be a local when I travel – I try to eat what locals eat, travel the way locals do (i.e., public transit), and people watch.

Being the PF blogger of the family (at least, I think I am…), I tallied up my expenses and am getting ready to take that amount out of my “travel fund”.

Air fare – $1,313.83

We bought out tickets back in July when there was a 15% promotion.  I learned from a friend there was a September Seat Sale where tickets were selling for around $1,100 – $1,200 that next time, I will know to wait for.

Accommodations – $368.56

I rented an apartment through Wimdu for the duration of 13 days we stayed.  This worked out well, since hotels averaged $85 – $100 per night per room and we would need 2 rooms for my family. Our apartment was in the heart of Hong Kong and super convenient and accessible to transit, restaurants and of course, shopping.

Full review of my experience booking accommodations with Wimdu coming up!

Shopping – $1,190

This includes a tailored 3-peice suit and skirt, I got custom made at Sam’s (famous Hong Kong tailor) for $640.  I also bought a pair of glasses as it was cheaper to buy them in Hong Kong than to buy a pair in Canada and go through my medical benefits.  I also went a little crazy at Sasa – a make-up chain in Hong Kong that is seriously like Sephora on crack.

I will do a separate shopping post on the clothes and make-up I bought complete with photographs 🙂

Food – $132.22

I can understand why Hong Kong people can be such food snobs.  The food there is so cheap and so good!

Mostly, we went out to eat because our apartment did not have a full kitchen, but we did buy take-out to eat at home several times.

I finally tried stinky tofu.  It like a deep fried spongy tofu, but it doesn’t stink when you eat it.  The smell comes from the cooking process.  So, I will definitely eat stinky tofu, again, but I will not be standing in line for it.

Transportation – $106.10

Public transportation is great in Hong Kong – seriously one of the greatest transit systems in the world.  It is clean, efficient and affordable.

We bought a tourist pass when we arrived at the airport.  It provides transportation via the Airport express to and from the airport.  It also provides unlimited travel on the subway for the first 3 days and a booklet of coupons to tourist attractions.

We also took trams, buses, ferries and the occasional taxi.  I love the options of public transit 🙂  My favourite mode of transportation is riding the tram and the Star ferry – I love the views!

Attractions – $62.50

I usually see a few attractions when I travel, but I don’t have to always see all the sites.  It’s just not my favourite thing to do.

In Hong Kong, we went to see the Big Buddha, Lantau Island and Ocean Park.  I’m not a huge fan of amusement parks, but I really wanted to see the pandas!

Total Hong Kong Trip Damage – $3,173.21

Overall, I am pretty happy and relieved that I was able to keep it around $3,000.  I was really afraid that accommodations was going to be through the roof, since we were spending so long in a pretty expensive city.

In fact, if I didn’t go a bit crazy in the shopping department, I would have kept it under $3,000.

So there you have it!


Filed under Budget, Travel

Financial Bucket List

(Image via)

I’m a bit late to the game, but I wanted to share some items in my Financial Bucket List for a chance to win $500 from Krystal’s giveaway!

On My Financial Bucket List

  1. Have $100,000 in long term savings (includes both RRSP, TFSA and other investments) by the time I turn 30.
  2. Continue to contribute to my travel fund and keep it topped up at $3,000 to $5,000.
  3. Go in for a Laser Eye Surgery consultation and then save the cash to pay for it ~$5,000 (estimate).
  4. Look into having a side hustle to supplement my full-time gig.
  5. Early retirement Attain financial freedom by the time I am 45 – 55.  I used to think I wanted to retire early, but now, I think that I just want to have the freedom to do what I want – whether it be traveling, working or gardening.

What’s on your financial bucket list?

Psst!  Enter my Grown-up Christmas Wish Giveaway !  Bonus: I will also match your donations to charity 🙂


Filed under Uncategorized

Welcome back, dearest Canon SD1100 IS

My camera went missing sometime between May and July of this year and for the life of me, I couldn’t find her anywhere!

Since I bounce between my apartment, BF’s apartment and my parents’, I just figured it was at one or another location.  It wasn’t until I searched each location before my east coast vacation with BF, that I realized it was missing.:(

I reluctantly gave up the search after I checked all 3 locations thrice.  No to mention I felt absolutely silly losing my camera.  Then, I decided to rotate my mattress on a whim, and there is was – stuck between my mattress and box spring.  It must have fallen in and gotten stuck!

So, I thought that I’d share some of the things that were on my camera.  These are the things that I find picture worthy.  There is a trend, here.  Enjoy 🙂

PS.  The gallery feature on WordPress is pretty neat! 🙂

What’s on your camera?  What do you like to take pictures of?



Filed under Random

My Grown-up Christmas Wish Giveaway – Closed

This contest is now closed.  Thanks to all who entered, I’ve been away from the computer during the holiday, but will announce the winner shortly!

(Image source)

My family has never been big on gift giving and it was never a tradition in my house to exchange gifts with my sisters and parents. As my sisters, my cousins and I got older, we all moved away for school. Christmas holidays became the only time of the year when we would all be free and at home so we could catch up.

My Grown-up Christmas Wish

As I drove home from work this week, I heard “My Grown up Christmas List” on the radio and I started to tear up a little as I realized how truly blessed I am.  For my family, my friends, BF, my health, my country, my opportunities, my blog, my job.

This Christmas and holiday season, all I want is to be able to spend time with my family, my friends and of course, BF.  That’s my grown up Christmas wish.  No gifts, no fancy parties, no shopping – just having a simple dinner, talking, laughing and spending time with the important people in my life.

Sadly, not everyone in this world or even in my community is this blessed.  Sadly, not everyone will be able to have a merry holiday this year, for any number of reasons, which I may never fathom.


I really wanted to do a giveaway as we approach the holiday, not only to thank you, my wonderful readers, for your support this year – but to also encourage us all to think about those who are less fortunate.

I’m giving away two personal finance books:

  • The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley
  • Never Too Late: Take Control of Your Retirement and Future by Gail Vaz-Oxlade.

I will also be matching 50% of your holiday donations to any charity with a donation of my own to the Sick Kids Hospital up to a maximum of $250.   I count “holiday” donation, as any donation in the month of December.

Your donation can be to any charity, just let me know how much it is. Any amount, no matter how small can make a difference, and I will match 50% until I reach $250.

This giveaway is open to Canadian and international readers 🙂 and ends December 25, 2011 at 12:00am EST.

You can enter my giveaway (up to 10 entries) by doing the following and filling out the form below:

  • Comment below and share your grown up Christmas/Hanukkah/holiday wish and fill in the form (mandatory, 1 entry)
  • Complete a holiday donation to any charity  in December and let me know (+5 entries)
  • Follow me via RSS feeder (+1 entry)
  • Subscribe to my blog via e-mail (+1 entry)
  • Spread the word.
    • Follow me on Twitter and tweet the following:
      I just entered for a chance to win the grown-up Christmas wish giveaway via @fab_frugirl (+1 entry)
    • Write a blog post about this on your blog (+1 entry)


  • You must fill in the form.  Simply commenting will not yield an entry and you will be disqualified.
  • You cannot create a blog for the purposes of an extra entry.  It must be on an existing blog, otherwise, that entry will not count.
  • This giveaway is not sponsored in any way – all me.  I do not make any money off this blog, and I will be purchasing the books from Amazon and paying for shipping with my own hard earned cash.
  • I do give to charity throughout the year, but I choose to keep that confidential and not share the amount in my monthly budget recaps.
  • This is my first giveaway, so please bear with me as I work out any kinks. Thanks 🙂


Filed under Giveaway