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Gifts Your Man Will Actually Use

Tired of buying presents for your man, only to find them tucked away in a box a few months later? It’s sad but true that even the most carefully bought gifts can fall short if they aren’t useable and practical.

Unlike us women, who love things just for being gorgeous looking (flowers, for instance!), men tend to like things that they can get some use out of!

So, show that you understand this by making the next gift you buy him fit that criterion. Need some inspiration to get you started? Here are a few ideas.

A Fashionable Pair Of Shoes

What is more practical that a pair of shoes? The only challenge here is getting the right ones! Start off by looking at what he already has in his collection. While you might be tempted to get him something different, he has bought the styles he already owns for a reason- he likes them. So, instead of getting him a pair of loafers when he loves trainers, get him trainers! You can still make the unique and different. Get him the same brand, but in a different color, for example. Or get him a new brand that he hasn’t tried yet, but does similar styles of shoes. Or, get him an upgraded version of what he always wears. So, if he likes him pumps and sneakers, how about a pair of stylish Vans?

A Car Seat Warmer

Boys love their toys, and what toy do they love more than their car!? Show that you’ve noticed how much he loves his by getting him a practical accessory. If he doesn’t have seats that warm up, how about a car seat warmer? They’re a lot more affordable than you might think, and are simply powered by the cigarette lighter port. Get the nicest material your budget can afford.

A Well-Designed Wallet

The longer we live, the more cards we all seem to collect! Whether it’s coffee shop loyalty cards, bank cards or photo identification, both genders have to carry a lot around with them. So, gift him a wallet. However, make sure it is a well-designed one. If it doesn’t have enough pockets for all of his cards, he won’t use it. Be careful of the size too. Unlike women, who tend to keep their wallets in their bags, men tend to keep them in their back pockets. So you’ll want one that will fit comfortably in his pocket. Go for leather so it will last.

A Monogrammed Phone Case

There is one item that he takes with him everywhere, right? His phone! Help him protect his phone from inevitable drops with a phone case. Have it monogrammed for a sophisticated, personalized feel. If he already has a phone case he is happy with, get an often used work-accessory monogrammed instead. This could be a leather-bound notebook or a laptop case. Whatever you pick, just make sure it is something he uses daily, not weekly or monthly. This way, you know he’ll always be reaching for it, and always be appreciating your gesture.

wrapped presents
photo credit: Liz West

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My first and last experience with N’Rage Hair Dye

Disclosure: I purchased these products.

For the last six years I have been coloring my hair all sorts of non-traditional, non-subtle, and most definitely unnatural colors – most often, some shade of fuchsia. My typical go-to color is Manic Panic’s Hot Hot Pink. As has been customary for me for the past couple of years, I hit up Sally Beauty Supply in late March on the prowl for a lighter spring/summer shade – because navy blue and dark turquoise just don’t seem to jive with my skin tone during the warmer months of the year.

Only this time, I didn’t immediately pick up a tub of Hot Hot Pink. Instead, I took Dan’s advice and went outside the box – I wistfully stared at Manic Panic’s empty display for Pretty Flamingo, then moved on to an equally promising color: N’Rage’s Neon Red. True to its name, the dye inside the transparent bottle was a very vibrant red with a distinctive neon hue – think stop sign red.

Like I always do prior to changing colors, I first shampooed my hair several times with clarifying shampoo in order to rid it of as much old dye as possible. Then, Dan and I got to work with bleach – 45-strength developer mixed with blue-tinted lightening powder at a 1:1 ratio. In went the bleach, and after 45 minutes my hair, with the exception of some of the older, repeatedly-dyed bits in the back and bottom, had lightened to a lovely butter shade of yellow.

Now, application time: Dan slathered up my freshly bleached and rinsed (just rinsed free of bleach – no shampooing or conditioning just yet) hair with about half of the bottle of N’Rage’s Neon Red. We clipped my hair on top of my head, I then covered my hair with a hair turban towel (I was sent one of these as part of a product review package, and I’m so glad I held onto it – this thing is insanely awesome for keeping dyed hair tightly and comfortably covered!), and went on with my day.

30 hours later, I showered and thoroughly rinsed my hair of all excess dye, deep-conditioned it, and then made a beeline for the bathroom mirror to check the results. Imagine my horror and confusion at what I was looking at: hair the distinct shade of orange fucking juice. Say what? I did everything right: stripped hair with multiple shampooing with clarifying shampoo, bleached with a strong developer (my hair is resistant to lightening and always requires the ultra-strong stuff – no measly 10 or 20 developer is going to do it!), and then went right to coloring before using any conditioning products. But more importantly, how does thick, concentrated dye that is clearly stop sign red in appearance end up not coloring hair past orange juice orange?!

_DSC1240

I was annoyed, but too busy to head back to Sally Beauty Supply to pick up the tried, true, and now brand I’m fiercely loyal to in order to fix the mess, Manic Panic. Instead, I plunged headlong into work and family stuff, and then I tried to die via an ulcer perforation for the third time.

Round Two with the other half of the bottle of N’Rage’s Neon Red commenced last weekend – about three weeks after the initial orange juice colored hair disaster. Round Two only fared slightly better, bringing my hair from OJ orange/yellow to neon road cone orange.

Jenn

That right there ended my short-lived relationship with N’Rage. Back to Manic Panic I went. Pretty Flamingo was still out of stock, so I made do with Hot Hot Pink and Red Passion, and created a 1:3 ratio (1/3 Hot Hot Pink with 2/3 Red Passion) to get the perfect reddish-pink that, I hoped, would work well with my existing road cone orange hair to give me a bright neon flamingo pink finish. Interjection here to note that on its own, Red Passion is pretty meh – it has a somewhat watery consistency, with a distinct lack of heavy color concentration that I’ve come to expect from Manic Panic colors. Alyssa had very subtle results with it on her hair, and she started off with a buttery yellow bleached color which should have, in theory/experience with Manic Panic, resulted in a gorgeously vibrant red. Instead, the red gave her hair more of a red tint than anything else – so this is not a red I’d recommend using on its own for anything other than subtle tinting.

It took three colors and three dye sessions, but I finally got the color I wanted! God bless Manic Panic, and Dan for very patiently coloring my hair for a third time in as many weeks:

Jenn

Jenn

Jenn

So there you have it. Zero stars for N’Rage, and 4.5 stars for Manic Panic (0.5 star loss for the bland and disappointing Red Passion as compared to other MP colors).

Do you use Manic Panic? If not, do you have another demi/semi brand you swear by?

Rating: ★★★★½


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5 spring maintenance tips for your home

Home ownership isn’t without its pleasures, but it also isn’t without its pains. Part of responsible homeownership is taking proper care of your investment. And with the changing of seasons from winter to spring, you’ll ideally be doing more than switching out curtains and throw pillows. Just as there is plenty to be done to the interior of your home, there is also plenty to attend to out of doors – and I don’t mean your lawn and gardens, either. I’m talking about the actual exterior of your home. Read on for five easy-to-execute tips to help you do some much-needed spring cleaning to the exterior surfaces of your home.

1. De-grime your windows.

Windows let plenty of light in, but if you don’t take the time to scrub winter’s grime off of them, you’ll be losing out on valuable sunlight that helps with vitamin D levels and even perking you up in the morning. Tackle exterior glass surfaces with warm, soapy water, and a gentle, non-abrasive brush. Screens should also be removed, and sprayed down with the hose in order to remove accumulated dust and dirt.

2. Check your roof.

spring cleaning tip - investigate roof shingles for damage While the majority of today’s roofs are comprised of materials that are both energy-efficient and long-lasting, it’s still a good idea to visually examine yours at least twice a year for loose shingles, holes, and/or the presence of built-up leaves, branches, or wildlife residue (such as birds’ nesting materials). Loose shingles can lead to leaks, holes are a no-brainer in the damage they can cause, and the build-up of natural materials such as leaves and sticks can lead to damage later on. If you notice damage to your roof, don’t attempt to make repairs yourself unless you have some knowledge in that area of home repair. It’s best to contact professional roofers in Halifax or your local area for quotes and expert repair services. Don’t worry – roofers are happy to help you determine the best course of action for your individual roof’s needs, as well as how to go about submitting a claim to your insurance company, if applicable.

3. Secure your trim.

Trim doesn’t just loosen from interior doors and window frames – it can loosen from exterior frames, too. Arm yourself with a screw driver and a spare set of screws and systematically check all of the wood trim around doors, windows, and railings.

4. Clean out your vents.

Check bathroom and kitchen vents, and if you have a chimney, be sure to check that too. Snow and ice are notorious for clogging up vents, and clogged vents pose a serious fire hazard – not to mention they result in inefficient heating, cooling, and humidity ventilation.

5. Clean up outdoor debris that is against the side of your house.

Those leaves, lawn clippings, and random branches and weeds that collect against the sides of your home aren’t just unsightly – they also increase the risk of your home developing leaks or other structural damage due to trapped moisture. Rake away these areas on a monthly or even weekly basis to ensure a home that isn’t just clean, but free of foundation damage due to moisture.


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Expert Work From Home Financial Advice

Working from home is great – permanent lie-ins, anyone?! That being said, it can be quite hard to account for every little financial expenditure that would otherwise be handled by your employer. And there’s more than you’d expect!

So, if you work from home and are self-employed, look no further. The following post will run down the very financial advice you need for a secure, healthy, stable career.

1. Keep accurate accounts!!

Balancing The Account By Hand
photo credit: Ken Teegardin

 

I cannot stress this enough. How else will you prove to mortgage providers and mobile phone providers that you can keep up with monthly payments? Answer: there is no other way. You have to use every tool at your disposal to ensure your accounts stay accurate, from the day you start working to the day you retire.

You could take a look at a source like vertex42.com to browse Excel spreadsheet templates. When you open up Excel, I’d recommend you create a ‘master’ sheet, a ‘yearly totals’ sheet and a sheet for each week. Then, create columns for date, gross income, net income (subtract things like PayPal fees) and notes. Use a formula that will add up your gross, net and total fees, to display your totals in the ‘year’ sheet. Voila!

Just because you need it, don’t jump at the first offer

best deal sign
photo credit: Pixabay

 

Being self-employed and working from home has its perks, sure. Instant access to coffee being one of them. However, where the job gets tough is when you have to pay for every little expense yourself.

You have to fork out for life insurance, a pension and sort your own taxes. Most of these things will normally be handled by an employer, which makes your life a lot, lot easier. If you have to do this yourself, it can be tempting to just jump at the first offer you see. Don’t! You can always scroll through hundreds of different deals at websites much like Gocompare.com. Stay patient, and you’ll find a cheaper deal eventually.

Have a separate bank account for your taxes

piggy bank
photo credit: Pixabay

 

Dripping your tax money into a bank account each week ensures that come tax return time, you have that cash. Even better; if you open a savings account with the same provider as your current account, the money is transferred instantly. Plus, this allows your tax money to gain a bit of interest over the year. You could have a little financial treat come tax time!

Pick a rate – and stick with it

Day 12. Working from home.
photo credit: David Mulder

 

At the end of the day, this is your job. You have bills to pay, and mouths to feed. And Netflix to watch. In all seriousness, you have to be sure that your working rate is enough to cover every expense you have. Don’t be afraid to ask for more money from a client if what they offer isn’t enough. Why should you suffer for a job well done?! Know what you need to charge in order to live, and stick with that amount.


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SWATCHES & REVIEW: Wet ‘n Wild MegaGlo Illuminating Powder

Disclosure: I purchased this product.

If you’ve known me for any length of time, then you’ll know I’m a glutton for anything sparkly or shimmery. The more glitter and glam, the merrier! Lately I’ve been hearing a lot about skin highlighters, which I found personally to be kind of funny because it really is true that much of fashion and beauty is recycled every X amount of years. I say this because in 2001 and 2002 skin illuminators were all the rage – Revlon Skinlights, anyone? (I do still have a few of those products, by the way!) So now skin illumination is back, but in an effort to seem original and trendy the new term is highlight. Whatever. The result — a shimmery, slightly dewy finish — is still the same.

Wet 'n Wild MegaGlo Illuminating Powder palette - Catwalk Pink

While in Walgreen’s the other day Wet ‘n Wild’s MegaGlo Illuminating Powder in Catwalk Pink caught my eye. At $4.99 it was just too good to pass up, and so that pretty little quad palette came home with me. Wet ‘n Wild describes the MegaGlo Illuminating Powder palette and recommended use as follows:

Let’s get glowing! This compact of 4 sparkly, illuminating shades can be worn alone or over makeup to create an iridescent shimmer on your face, neck, chest, and body. – See more at: http://www.wetnwildbeauty.com/face/highlight-contour/megaglo-illuminating-powder.html#sthash.qr5cTRVz.dpuf

I’ve used it a few times since (including the day of purchase, because I’m like a kid in a candy store when it comes to my impatience to dig into new goodies), and so here are my thoughts and some swatches / in-action shots for you to peruse:

Wet 'n Wild MegaGlo Illuminating Powder
untouched palette

Wet 'n Wild MegaGlo Illuminating Powder
after one swipe – it’s nice to see the shimmer is all throughout the product, and not just on the top layer (I hate when companies pull that stunt!)

Wet 'n Wild MegaGlo Illuminating Powder
arm swatches LtoR: gold, pale pink, brownish-pink, deeper gold

Overall I’m pleased with this pretty palette. Many lower-end cosmetic brands have this nasty habit of giving the top layer of a cosmetic product — usually an eye shadow or blush — a glittery or shimmery finish, while leaving the rest of the product completely matte or cream in comparison. I braced for this, and was pleasantly surprised to find that thus far — after five uses of each color, anyway — the shimmers and hues remain true all throughout. Wet ‘n Wild also wasn’t lying about the iridescent shimmer – just the barest sweep of product against my cheekbones, clavicles, or cleavage leaves behind a beautifully subtle yet light-reflecting, eye-catching shimmer. Obviously you can layer on the color for a more bold shimmer. The shades themselves are also great to work with – subtle enough that just one thin layer (I have been using a broad blush brush for application) gives a hint of color. I’ve experimented with using lighter shades above my cheekbones and the two darker shades below to create a shimmery contour, and the results are great – not overdone, but definitely visible.

Wet 'n Wild MegaGlo Illuminating Powder
apologies for the awful nightstand lighting – still, you can see just how shimmery the powder is (shade used: light gold)

Wet 'n Wild MegaGlo Illuminating Powder

Wet 'n Wild MegaGlo Illuminating Powder

Wet 'n Wild MegaGlo Illuminating Powder

Wet 'n Wild MegaGlo Illuminating Powder

Wet 'n Wild MegaGlo Illuminating Powder

Interestingly, some of the reviews left on Wet ‘n Wild’s product page suggest that the product is both hard to get out of the palette, and a disappointment in terms of a shimmery, illuminating finish. I completely disagree with these reviews, and upon further research (Google Images, Amazon, eBay), it looks as though these reviews are based on an earlier version of the palette, which used a thicker compact with higher sides, and presumably a different finish for the powders. I have the newer version (flat, black-colored palette with sides no higher than the powders themselves), and this is the one I recommend you try to find. Flush sides = no problems accessing any of the four shades from any angle, with any tool.

So far May’s weather has been cold and rainy (I’m wearing a sweater hoodie as I type this!), so I’m looking forward to sunnier days when this palette will really give me a great glimmery finish.

Do you own this palette? If so, what are your thoughts? If not, do you plan on purchasing it?


Filed under Product Reviews