Weekly Photo Challenge – Angular

transit in the morning

I didn’t own a car until my mid-twenties.  As a young adult I had lived in Europe where transit was more than sufficient.  When I moved to Canada I thought I could continue relying on transit to meet my needs; I quickly learned that while this was possible, it was not enjoyable.  I would have to leave my house hours before work in order to arrive on time and often the roads were too snowy for the bus to even get up the hill to my house.  As you can see from this photo of the angular bus interior, not a lot of of other people relied on transit as their main source of transportation.  After about ten months of using transit I bought a car, which I have been driving happily to and from work every day since!

Mealtime Monday: Colca Canyon Trekking Food

colca canyon soup

I promised my thousands of Instagram followers* that I would show what kind of food vegetarians could expect to eat during a two-day Colca Canyon trek.  On the first day, our early breakfast was scrambled eggs and fresh white bread with jam.  We then trekked for about four hours before stopping for lunch.  The vegetarian lunch option is shown above.  It was a simple broth-based vegetable soup, also served with fresh bread.  I believe that tea was free, but I opted for a bottle of Coke (best decision ever!).  After hiking for a few more hours we stopped for the night.  Dinner was pasta with a simple tomato sauce, and I think I had a beer or two as well (probably not the best decision ever!).  The following morning we trekked up the canyon on empty stomachs, then had a similar breakfast of eggs, bread and coffee in a village at the top.  Overall, the meals were pretty good as far as trekking food goes, and they did seem to provide the right hit of carbs to keep me energized without feeling weighed down.

* Possibly a slight exaggeration.

WPC: Achieving the Colca Canyon Challenge

colca canyon peru

The theme of this week’s photo challenge is achievement.  At the moment, I feel like my most significant achievement is being within a few months of completing my masters degree, which I have been doing while also working full-time.  However, nobody wants to see a photo of the APA Style Guide, so I went with this photo from Peru’s Colca Canyon.  I took my coursework on the road with me last summer and traveled around Peru for three weeks.  When I was in Arequipa I learned about the two-day treks through the nearby Colca Canyon, and thought it would be nice to get outside of the city.  The trek ended up being more challenging than I, or the other hikers, had expected, and while several girls in my tour group opted to take a donkey back to the top of of the canyon on Day Two, I braved the pitch-black trails at 5:00 am and walked all the way to the top.  I celebrated my achievement with a bag of Chips Ahoy cookies and two months of exercise-induced asthma.

What is your favorite travel achievement?  Share it in the comments!

Holiday Gifts for Beautiful Travelers

The weather outside is frightful (-20 degrees!) and the drive to the mall on icy roads is anything but delightful.  Still, I braved the bad weather and headed to my nearest mega-mall, where I spent zero dollars and even got a free Starbucks coffee (thanks to the man who paid it forward by leaving hundreds of dollars on a gift card for the customers who came after him!).  I just wasn’t in the shopping mood today, and thought that perhaps instead of shopping for myself I could help you guys find the perfect holiday gifts for travelers and holiday gifts for girls who love beauty, so if you’re shopping for someone who loves travel and/or beauty, consider these gift ideas!

An Ipsy Subscription

ipsy april 2014

Ipsy is my current favorite subscription beauty program.  Each month they send me a customized beauty bag filled with four or five sample products (check out what I received in September and August).  These little samples help me identify the products that I love (and hate!), and are absolutely perfect for tossing into my backpack when I go traveling.  Ipsy subscriptions would also make a great gift for a young woman who is just beginning to learn about beauty.  Of course, you can buy a subscription for yourself or gift one to a friend.  For more information, or to sign up, click visit Ipsy.

A Year of Wanderlust

1001 places calendar

The 1001 Places to See Before You Die calendar has been a staple on my wall for years (this month’s destination is Utah, USA!).  The calendar is available in a beautiful wall-hanging format with a photo for every day of the month, or a desktop page-a-day format with even more beautiful images.  This is the perfect gift for anyone who has expressed interest in planning a trip to visit somewhere new, as well as anyone who loves to travel but will probably spend 2015 closer to home for professional, personal or financial reasons.  (This is probably not a good gift for someone in ill health, for obvious reasons…)

A Camera with GPS

tallinn shopping

Where in the world did I take that photo?  If it weren’t for my camera’s built in GPS, I would probably have no idea.  I used to come home from holidays with thousands of photos and no idea where each was from, but now a simple click of a button allows me to plot each and every photo on the map, oftentimes to within a meter or two of the exact place I was standing.  I am a die-hard Canon camera fan and would recommend the PowerShot SX280 for classic camera lovers, or a model like the D30 for those who might want to take their camera underwater.  Remember that when GPS is turned on it can drain the camera’s battery quickly, so it might be nice to toss in spare battery too (and remind the giftee to turn off the GPS before bed each night!).

Hostel Essentials

hostel dorm room

Every beautiful backpacker needs a microfiber towel for those morning when they have little time between the shower and the train (or plane, or boat, or bus…).  It’s also essential to have a cable lock and combination lock; the former will secure your pack to the luggage storage area on a train or in a hostel, while the latter will keep your laptop, wallet and passport securely in the provided lockers.

An Inspiring Travel Book

From linguistics to alcohol abuse, happiness-hunting to following in the footsteps of dictators, there is an inspiring travel story for every reader on your list.  Click through for a list of my favorites.

Travel-Sized Beauty Favorites


While Ipsy is a great way to test out all sort of new products, if you know there is a brand that someone loves, why not gift them an entire travel set from that line, so that they can take their favorites with them wherever they go?  This kit from Nuxe is one of my favorites, but I also love this eco-friendly kit from Burt’s Bees and the Happy Travels set from Philosophy.

A Dream Come True

Via Faisal Photography / Flickr

If you’ve got more money than you know what to do with, send some my way!  After you’ve sent some my way, then you can splurge on an amazing travel experience.  How about a Round the World plane ticket with Star Alliance?  Or a six-month cruise around the world?

Are you a beautiful traveler?  What would you love to receive this holiday season? 

WPC: Minimalist in Parque Salazar, Miraflores

parque salazar lima

A grey day in Lima, Peru.  A few blocks from El Parque del Amor, with its gigantic sculpture of embracing lovers.  This minimalist statue is most unexpected, but most appreciated.  Who needs kisses when you’ve got concrete?

Empties – October 2014


And that’s what happens when you forget that you set your camera’s ISO set to 3200 a few nights earlier, then take a photo in the bright afternoon sun!  Fortunately it’s just an empties post and not a once in a lifetime photo opportunity…

With no further ado, here’s what went into the trash in October.

  • Olay Regenerist Microsculpting Cream.  I got this on sale for $9.99.  At that price point it’s a great moisturizer for day and night use.
  • Maybelline Baby Lips in Quenched.  One of my many Baby Lips.
  • L’Oreal EverCreme Intense Nourishing Conditioner.  I always use up conditioner before its partner shampoo.  I literally have four almost-empty shampoo bottles in my shower.
  • Clinique foundation.  I don’t know the line; they don’t make it anymore.  It takes me years to use up a bottle of foundation.
  • Etude House Vitamin Complex sheet mask.  This one wasn’t my favorite; I used it after a night of heavy drinking and didn’t find that gave my skin the glow that some other masks offer.
  • Facelle “Intimate” Wash.  I bought this in Poland, I think, because the heavily-scented body wash I’d packed on a backpacking trip was causing irritation to my “sensitive” skin.  Now, I tend to carry a little bottle of ultra-gentle, unscented body wash when I travel.
  • Jason Purifying Tea Tree body wash.  It fights post-workout breakouts.
  • A decant of Signorina Eleganza perfume.
  • A sample of Makeup Artists’ Choice Gly-Luronic serum.  A great serum that I will definitely repurchase as a full-sized product.
  • Neutrogena Face Wash.  So glad to be done with this one.
  • A travel-sized Dove antiperspirant.  Not my fave scent.
  • A sample of Reem Acra perfume.  Liked this one a lot.
  • A sample of H2O Plus shampoo.  Nothing special.
  • Live Clean Fresh Face Clay Mask.  I didn’t use this one up in time, causing the consistency to change and the clay to stop absorbing anything.
  • Body Shop Tea Tree Oil.  I grab this when it’s on sale, either in store or through the website.

WPC: Descent at the Soldek Muzeum

soldek muzeum gdansk

Just looking at this makes my knees shake a little (which is saying a lot, considering I’m currently reclining on my sofa in my PJs).  In the spirit of this week’s photo challenge, looking at descent, I thought I’d share this photo taken on board the Soldek, a “ship-museum” docked in the harbour in Gdansk, Poland.  Does anyone else think the Soldek Muzeum could be a safety hazard?

Mealtime Monday: One of Everything, Please

chimera krakow

“I’ll have one of those, one of those, one of those, one of those, one of those, one of those and one of those please,” I said.  “Okay, and one of those.  And maybe one of those, too.  Fine, and one of those.”

That’s how it goes at the Chimera salad bar in Krakow.  While there is a proper, vegetarian-friendly restaurant in the lower level of this historic building, the real gem is the upstairs salad bar.  You pay by the number of dishes you want to try (I think there are six or seven on the plate above?) and then point to the different items along the thirty-metre long encased salad bar so that the staff can dish them up onto your plate.  There was also a selection of drinks; kvass is on the menu, as are celery milkshakes.  To top it all off you get to enjoy your meal in a beautiful, enclosed garden patio with lush greenery all around.

WPC: Sailing in Paracas Peru

birds on a boat paracas peru

The prompt for this week’s photo challenge asks you to create cover art for the publication (real, potential or completely imaginary) of your choice.  Sometimes I think I could write a pretty decent travel memoir about all of the bumps along the roads I’ve traveled.  When I’m traveling things rarely go right for me the first time around.  Instead, it takes a few tries, and turns into a pretty good story, to get things right.  Here’s one of my favorite shots from a recent trip to Peru in which everything that could possibly have gone wrong did go wrong.  I spent a few days waiting in Paracas for the seas to open so I could go out and see the birds.  If I hadn’t been stuck, however, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to explore the small town and the nearby nature reserve, both of which turned out to be lovely.   If I do end up writing a memoir it will have to feature a cover photo of one of those serendipitous, “bad luck turned good” moments, like this one.

Unboxing: Look Fantastic, Ipsy and Topbox October 2014

This month I received more beauty boxes than I knew what to do with.  They all arrived within a week of one another, necessitating a major re-organization of my guest room (also known as my beauty product sample storage room).  Since there’s so much stuff I’m not going to break it down by price or photograph everything; instead I’ll just share the entire box in the order it was received.


The first box to hit my mailbox this month was the LookFantastic October box, which shipped all the way across the Atlantic from the UK to my home in Canada.  This box cost £15, including international shipping, and arrived quite quickly.  The box contained:

  • L’Oreal Professional Pro-Keratin Refill shampoo and conditioner samples (travel sized)
  • KMS Free Shape Quick Blow Dry Spray, which I reviewed back in May and said I would buy if I saw on sale (no need to buy it now!)
  • Balance Me Facial Expression Filler
  • Gatineau Collagen Expert Smoothing Cream
  • Korres Citrus shower gel
  • Edit!  I forgot that I also received a This Works linen spray that promotes sleep.  I forgot about it because I’ve had it by my bed and have been using it every night since it arrived!

Overall I was happy with the box and have used all three of the hair products already.  I will probably consider buying the November box when it goes on sale on November 1st; hopefully it has fewer anti-aging products and maybe a color cosmetic or two.


Next to arrive, a few days later, was my Ipsy bag for October 2014.  I knew what I would be getting because my Glam Room went live at the beginning of the month.  I received:

  • Jesse’s Girl Mineralized Baked Powder Shadow.  I don’t wear a lot of shimmery shadow so I swapped this with a friend who received a skincare product in her bag.
  • ECRU New York BB Cream for Hair.  Ipsy thinks I have dry hair, apparently.  This is the third hydrating hair product I’ve received from them recently.
  • Figs & Rouge hand cream in Rose Berry.  I prefer unscented creams that don’t clash with my perfume, so will probably donate this to a local shelter.


  • City Color Be Matte lipstick in Cappuccino.  Shown above with the Jesse’s Girl shadow.  This will be great for Kylie Jenner-esque, 90s-inspired lips.  It looks a little smudged in the tube but is sealed properly so I’m not worried.
  • Skyn Iceland Mini Glacial Cleansing Wipes.  I love cleansing wipes for travel and I love Skyn Iceland, so these are a major win!


The last to arrive this month was Topbox.  This was the cheapest box of all ($12 CAD compared to Ipsy at $15 USD).  However, it was also the least impressive.

  • Vichy Purete Thermale Foaming Cleansing Water.  I’ll use it.
  • Cargo Eye Shadow Primer.  Not something I really need in my life.
  • Prestige Makeup Eraser Pen.  WTF?
  • Lise Watier Duo Serum sample.  My mom was visiting recently and gave me a few handfuls of these samples; I don’t know where she got them but they’re clearly giving this stuff away as fast as they can.

I’ve got thirty days to put a dent in some of these products before next month’s subscriptions start pouring in!  Did you get any of these boxes?  What products did you receive?