About Meghan Brown

Meghan is inanutshell’s contributor who has a lot of different interests and a strong (and humorous) opinion. As a Martha Stewart wanna-be, you can expect lots of delicious recipes, DIY projects and organization tips from her. A lover of pop culture and anything buzzworthy, you can count on her to write about things that she's currently obsessing over and provide colour commentary on a variety of topics. Bad Habit: Reformed (still working on it) Nail Biter/ Favourite Food: Mashed Potatoes / Favourite Restaurant: El Camino / Wine of Choice: Riesling / Favorite Song: Don’t Stop Believing / Favourite Music Genre: Everything, but rap & hip hop have my heart / Favorite Movie: It’s A Wonderful Life / Favorite TV Series: Grey’s Anatomy or Friends/ Favourite Sport: Hockey / Favourite Team: Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators / Blackberry or iPhone: iPhone / Favorite Book: Lolita /

Announcing the Winner of The Body Shop’s Tea Tree Contest!

After going through many entries received over the past week, we are pleased to announce that Brittany Goving is the winner of our latest giveaway sponsored by The Body Shop! We’re so excited for you to try out the full Tea Tree product line pictured below! Please look for our message to arrange the delivery of your prize!

We’d like to once again thank The Body Shop Canada for sponsoring a wonderful contest that lets us spoil our readers! We’d also like to thank our readers and everyone who took the time to enter the contest – we wish that everyone could win!

Don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to stay in the loop with our most recent posts and contests! And once again, thanks to all for your continued support of inanutshell.

CONTEST: Win $100 from The Body Shop! **CONTEST CLOSED**

UPDATE: The winner of this contest has been chosen! Thank you to all who entered. http://inanutshell.ca/2012/09/27/announcing-the-winner-of-the-body-shops-tea-tree-contest/

Last month, in collaboration with The Body Shop, inanutshell was pleased to run an awesome contest for $100 in Cruelty-Free Make-Up. Our winner, Sheralee Huot, was sent a beautiful basket courtesy of The Body Shop, just for commenting on the post and engaging with us using social media.

We’re back at it again, and this time, we’re focusing on skin care! Reduce the size of large, congested pores and get make-up ready, matte skin with The Body Shop’s new Tea Tree Pore Minimizer. Inanutshell is offering you a chance to win a Community Fair Trade Tea Tree prize pack from The Body Shop, valued at more than $100! 

When I worked for The Body Shop years ago, their Tea Tree line was one of the best skin care lines that available. Fast forward 6 years, and it’s only gotten better. Personally, tea tree oil has saved my skin on more than one occasion, a miracle worker when dealing with acne break-outs and pesky pimples.

So, want to win this awesome prize pack? 

This time around, we’re asking you to get connected with The Body Shop Canada using social media! Either like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter, and send us the link showing that you’ve done it. You can send us the link by commenting on this post or sending us an e-mail at inanutshellca@gmail.com.

(And, while you’re at it, you might as well like US and follow US on both sites too!)

Contest entries will be accepted until Sunday September 23, 2012. Good luck!!

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries

Over the weekend, I was seriously channeling my domesticated side. Not only did I complete some “Pinterest Projects” that I have had flagged for a while, but I also spent some time in the kitchen trying out a few new recipes. By far, the best creation from the weekend were Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries.

New York Style Cheesecake has been a baked good that I’ve always wanted to perfect, but have been nervous to attempt. One of my all-time favourite desserts, I know that it can be a finicky recipe and it will definitely take some practice. For now, these miniature versions are a more than suitable substitute!

What you’ll need:

-Large strawberries (I used 2 pints)
-1 container of cream cheese (I used the low fat variety)
-3-4 tbsp. of Icing Sugar
-1 tsp. of Vanilla

Directions:

1. Cut the tops of strawberries and core the middles. Set aside.
2. Mix together softened Cream Cheese, Icing Sugar and Vanilla. Beat until smooth.

3. Put stuffing mixture into a ziplock bag and cut the tip off to create a piping tool.
4. Squeeze a dollop of the stuffing into each strawberry.
5. Dip the top of each strawberry in Graham Cracker Crumble.

In a nutshell, these stuffed strawberries were definitely a hit when I brought them to my bookclub on Sunday evening. A cute and simple dessert that tastes like a little bite of heaven!

Fall back into Resolutions

Well folks, it is officially September. While summer is still technically with us for two more weeks, I always find that once the September long weekend passes and school starts back up, the carefree summer attitude often fades quickly away. Instead of mourning the season, I for one, always look to September and Fall as a chance to make a fresh start. Besides, it seems silly to wait another four months just to make a resolution, doesn’t it?

Re-organize your Finances

Remember back at the start of the year when you were geared up to get your finances in check, stop throwing your cash away and start saving? Ya, me too. Wasn’t that a fun thought? Seriously though, if you’ve fallen off the wagon when it comes to moula, now is the time to get back on track. While it’s hard enough to accept that summer is fleeting, keep in mind that the holiday season is approaching. While it can be tempting to go “back-to-school shopping” even if you’ve graduated or indulge in a Spiced-Pumpkin Latte at Starbucks every day, don’t sink yourself now! Besides, how nice would it be to enter 2013 with a little nest egg?

Leave piggy in tact!

Re-organize your Closet

As we leave summer behind, we also leave behind the need for barely-there shirts, skirts and shorts. Take the time to go through your closet and bring forward those staple sweaters and jeans that have been taking a back burner during the blazing heat. Check to see what still fits, what’s still in fashion and take whatever is no longer up your alley to your local Value Village or Salvation Army. Then, once you’ve cleaned shop, take these tips from Kaylee to help you transition between the seasons with ease!

Get back to the Gym!

Summer can present us with a ton of opportunities to exercise outdoors. Summer can also present us with a ton of opportunities to laze around instead of working out. Since dieting and getting fit are the most common New Year’s Resolutions, why not get started now? If you’ve taken a bit of a gym-hiatus this summer, September offers the opportunity to get back into a regular routine. It’s never too early to start developing healthy habits. And just think, by the time January 1st rolls around you’ll be that much closer to your fitness goals!

Tackle a Bucket List

While summer presents countless opportunities to try new things, fall does that too! If you haven’t touched the bucket list you made in January, dust that bad boy off and start checking things off! Don’t count out the adventures that can still be had, just because the weather is a tad cooler. Throw on a jacket and some boots and find your latest adventure. Consult Catherine’s Fall-Bucket List here for some great ideas!

Midday Musings

Not too long ago, Kaylee introduced us to the idea of midday musings, a quick pick me up for your day filled with interesting things floating around the web that have caught our eyes. Behold, another installation of midday musings, in a nutshell…

Samsung’s 5 Cent Hoax 

CEO’s of Samsung & Apple. Laughing on the outside, plotting on the inside.

Yesterday, a hilarious story hit the internet involving Apple and Samsung, two high-tech giants who are currently dominating the technological world. The story is as followed: Apple won its current copywright case against Samsung and was awarded 1.05 BILLION dollars. The story alleged that Samsung delivered its debt by sending truckloads upon truckloads of nickels to Apple’s headquarters, as the payment was able to be made any way in which Samsung sees fit. As much as it pains me to say this, the story isn’t true. I loved this petty-payment hoax, because let’s face it – Apple can stand to be taken down a notch or two. And millions of nickels would certainly do it.

Invasion of Chalkboard Paint

A long time ago, I had a friend paint an entire wall in her bedroom with chalkboard paint, that we were obsessed with drawing on. At the time, it was the coolest. thing. ever. Fast forward 7 years and chalkboard paint has taken over the world. DIY crafts involving this unique paint are everywhere and I have to say that I’m enjoying the trend. I don’t know if I’d take it as far as the kitchen pictured below did, but small touches are really cute. What is your favourite use of this unique paint?

Princess on a Budget

A while back, Christian Louboutin revealed his re-imagining of the Cinderella Slipper; a haute-couture shoe lover and Disney fan’s dream. While the design was released, no price tag was, leading news outlets around the world to speculate at the high cost of the designer’s fantasy shoe.

In keeping with the Cinderella/Disney princess trend, this week, Designer Shoe Warehouse (DSW) launched their own line of Cinderella-inspired shoes. With their designs ranging in price from approximately $60-$90 USD, they are making it a bit more affordable to walk in a princess’ shoes. Cinderella came from humble means before meeting Prince Charming, after all.

Royal Salute, Indeed

Speaking of Royalty, real-life Prince Harry got himself into some hot water in the media after playing strip pool with some friends while spending a relaxing party weekend in Vegas. Harry was photographed in the buff, cupping his royal jewels in the company of an unknown (also naked) female companion. Media speculated that this incident could have a negative impact on his service in the Air Force as an Apache Helicopter Pilot. Enter thousands of Harry supporters (including military members) who embraced Harry’s nakedness and joined the Facebook group, “Support Prince Harry with a Naked Salute.” Many have uploaded photos of themselves, sans clothing, saluting the Prince in a sign of solidarity. Awesome.

**images courtesy of Google & Pinterest.

Happy Birthday Kaylee!

Today, one of our own is celebrating her 24th Birthday! Kaylee is not only a fantastic writer and our fashion guru, but also is one of the main reasons that inanutshell has been so successful over the past year and a half. Her input behind the scenes, whether it be organizing our meetings and taking care of all the technical details, shows how well-rounded this talented gal really is. Over the past year, we’ve watched Kaylee’s life change drastically; moving to a new city and starting a new career in a demanding field in which we’ve already seen her succeed. The wonderful thing about Kaylee is that she always handles the twists and turns of life with such grace, it often makes us wonder how she’s doing it so effortlessly. She is also a loyal and loving friend who we can always count on and she never misses a chance to spend time with those that she loves, even if it means spending most of her weekends commuting between Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa. As the last member to join our close-knit little group, we’re so thankful that the fates (and a shot of tequila) would bring us Kaylee’s friendship, a gift that will forever be unmatched. Happy Birthday!

This weekend, Kaylee’s man & large circle of friends in Toronto are throwing her a huge soirée to celebrate her 24th. While distance and circumstance might not allow all of the nuts to celebrate together this year, if we could throw her the perfect party, here’s what we’d do…

On the OUTFIT, Jess says…

Although this will come as absolutely no surprise to anyone – Kaylee’s fashion sense is exquisite. Without ever looking ostentatious or heavily premeditated, our dear fashionista exudes natural style in every kind of outfit; her own unique flavour of bohemian chic that doesn’t discriminate from either a colourful floral print or elegant black dress with timeless accessories. Whether wearing distressed jeans, leather sandals and a slouchy t-shirt underneath earthy gems and classic Ray Bans around the city or pairing a simple skirt and shirt combination with a statement necklace, wavy hair tucked up above green-rimmed eyelids and a pair of fierce heels for Saturday night cocktails – she always looks effortless, perfectly feminine, and stunning. Kaylee certainly fields the “What kind of thing are you wearing tonight?” question the most from her friends – and her typical breezy answer, before rocking a show stopping number?  “Not sure! Haven’t thought about it yet.”

(1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)

On the FOOD, Kate says…

Although Kaylee is our fashion forward and style savvy nut, she is also an experienced diner who appreciates great food and wine. Being raised by two beautiful, culturally aware people, Kaylee was one of those children who never shied away from an exotic meal and those early culinary experiences have led her to become a woman who enjoys the finer side of dining (sprinkled with a dash of the esoteric). She is always on  the hunt for the up and coming dining spots and in a short time of living in the big smoke, she quickly gained a handle on the pulse of the Toronto food scene. Any birthday menu for our lovely birthday girl must include a round of oysters served with lemon and horse radish: one of Kaylee’s dinnertime favourites. Followed by something nutritious yet hearty, like a quinoa, ground beef lettuce roll (beef larb) and polished off with a prime veal and risotto main course. Of course a little something sweet, like truffles and premium scotch liqueur, is the perfect way to send our precious birthday girl on her way with a full tum and smile on face.

On the DRINKS, Meghan says…

If you’ve ever visited Kaylee’s home in Montreal, you’d know that upon arrival, you’d be swiftly guided into the kitchen and handed a drink. While she may be inhabitting a different city, her love for a good cocktail hasn’t changed. One of her favourites is the Caesar, without too much spice. While this girl may be wild in some ways (aka impromptu Beyoncé performances in the middle of a party), when it comes to caesars, it’s mild all the way. With dinner, wine is a must! Not one to enjoy anything too fruity, Kaylee usually turns to a rich Chardonnay to accompany her meal, much like J. Lohr’s delicious variety, one that was always on hand during various celebrations in Montreal. For later on, Kaylee would definitely switch to a classic coctail: vodka soda, with a slice of lime. And, even though she “secretly” hates it, a good old fashioned shot of tequila is mandatory at this Birthday bash. While it may send her over the edge, I’d still pick Patron; a classy tequila for a classy girl!

On the MUSIC, Cat says…

You won’t find Kaylee gyrating to trance music or being the first in line to buy tickets for a dub step concert. No, you’ll find her secretly putting on her favourite Beyoncé song, standing on a chair, in the middle of a bustling party and singing out strong soulful lyrics, with just as much sass as the diva she idolizes. Or maybe, you’ll see her commandeering a night out, grabbing a mic, her main squeeze and everyone’s attention with a rousing karaoke routine to The Hip’s Bobcaygeon or The Dixie Chicks’ Traveling Soldier. While cruising in the car, it’s more mellow tunes she’ll groove to, from leading ladies like Norah Jones or Florence and the Machine. But, perhaps her most poignant music moments are when she tears up listening to her talented (and soon to be famous) best friend belt out lyrics from a Broadway musical. Or having her shoulder slumped around her seven besties screaming old Spice Girls jams, for old time’s sake. Or standing on the table tops of her family home, leading the pack in old Grease and Dirty Dancing favourites. Yes, her taste is eclectic, her style is impeccable and her ear is well tuned, but it’s her heart that forms the beat to the soundtrack of her wonderful life.

 

Celebrating Kaylee’s Birthday in 2010, with her girls from MTL & Ottawa <3

Colours of Communication

I was recently fortunate enough to take part in a training program through my work which focused on the various styles of communication and types of communicators. My colleagues and I were asked to fill out a questionnaire, that generated colour coordinated profiles based on your responses. Each colour was representative of a different type of person, including those who were detail oriented vs. goal oriented vs. emotionally driven …and the list goes on. The four colours that were introduced represented the four types of people that we generally interact with, whether it be at work or in our personal lives.

At the beginning of the day, we discussed the various colours and identified positive and negative attributes for each. We also looked at where conflicts could arise between colours and their specific communication styles.

This isn’t working.

In a series of activities, we were first asked to choose the colours that best represented our way of interacting and communicating. Next, we were given ‘coloured’ attributes and asked to distribute them to our colleagues. Finally, we were given the results of a quiz that we answered in advance, which identified which colours we strongly identified with and what style of person/communicator we were.

I have to say that there were vast differences between how I originally perceived myself and how my answers reflected my true ‘colours’. Furthermore, the way that my colleagues perceived me were different from how I thought I came across, leading me to reflect on both my successes and areas where I have room to improve.

Where do you think you fall?

The biggest lesson that I learned was that we have to stop focusing solely on our own way of communicating and interacting and embrace and adapt to the communication style of our counterparts. Whether this is with our superiors and colleagues in the office, with our family members or with our significant others – it’s not all about us. While I may be the type to assert my ideas or opinions, that type of outgoing communication may overwhelm or alienate the person I’m speaking with. If this type of interaction is continuous, I may (unknowingly) cause a riff in the relationship.

Additionally, it’s important to remember that while someone’s approaches may be vastly different from our own, that does not make them less valuable. As young adults who are slowly forging our way into the working world and building and maintaining relationships in our personal lives, it’s important to keep valuable lessons like these in mind. What I learned is that the different types of people, and their corresponding communication styles, bring a different, and necessary, element to our interactions. After all, how boring would the world be if we were all the same?

Interested in learning about yourself? Take this short quiz!
(While not the same as the in-depth program I was a part of, it highlights four different styles of communication and breaks down their pro’s and con’s!)

Announcing the Winner of The Body Shop’s Cruelty-Free Make-Up Contest

We are pleased to announce that Sheralee Huot was drawn as the winner of our contest for $100 of  The Body Shop’s new cruelty-free make-up line! Congratulations! We’re so excited for you to fall in love with these gorgeous products! Please check your e-mail to arrange the delivery of your prize!

We’re Jealous! Enjoy!

We’d like to thank The Body Shop Canada for coming out with a beautiful range of cruelty-free products and sponsoring this contest. We’d also like to thank everyone who entered our contest by commenting on our posts and interacting with us on Facebook and Twitter! We hope that you enjoy our contests and we’re looking forward to bringing you more in the future. Besides, Movember is just around the corner…

Until next time nuts, thank you for your participation & continued support of inanutshell!

CONTEST: Win $100 in Make-Up from The Body Shop! **CONTEST CLOSED**

Lily Cole: The new face behind The Body Shop’s Cruelty-Free Campaign.

UPDATE: The winner has been chosen! Thank you to all who entered!http://inanutshell.ca/2012/08/10/announcing-the-winner-of-the-body-shops-cruelty-free-make-up-contest/

This summer, go cruelty-free with Lily Cole and The Body Shop! inanutshell, in collaboration with The Body Shop are thrilled to offer you the chance to win an amazing gift basket valued at more than $100, filled with the new, limited edition make-up range: Cruelty Free Make-Up, launched in collaboration with Lily Cole.

Celebrating The Body Shop Against Animal Testing ethos, Cruelty Free Make-Up contains no animal products and hasn’t ever been tested on animals. With ultra-expressive colours, shimmering looks and super soft giant puffs for perfect application every time, being cruelty-free has never been so glamorous! For more information on the products, please visit: www.thebodyshop.ca. We nuts couldn’t be more excited for one of our lucky readers to try out these gorgeous products!

The Giveaway Package will include: Pearl Radiance Primer, Liquid Eyeliner, Puff on Radiance, Shimmer Cubes, 1 Lip & Cheek Dome & 2 Mini Hi-Shine Lip Glosses.

To enter our fabulous contest: leave a comment below with your name and e-mail address so that we can contact you!

Want to up your chances? Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter! For every Facebook post that you tag us in and for every tweet you send our way, an additional entry will be made in your name!

Contest entries will be accepted from Thursday August 2nd – Thursday August 9th. Good luck nuts!

Beauty on a Budget

Alright readers, I’m just going to throw this out there – being on a budget is NOT fun. Whether you’re paying back student loans, starting out at a new job with a tiny salary or trying to save for your first home (or all of the above!), being in your twenties is a time where money matters. For women, cosmetics and beauty products can be so frustrating; not only are they huge money-suckers, but half the time you feel like they don’t give you the results that you anticipated. I’ve put together a list of some great products that are inexpensive and will cover most elements of your beauty regime – in fact, you can purchase everything on this list for under $100!

1. Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse Foundation ($14.99)
Used by multiple nuts, Maybelline’s Dream Matte Mousse Foundation is creamy and leaves a nice matte finish on your skin.

2. Physician’s Formula Shimmer Strips ($19.99)
These shimmer strips are great because they are multi-purpose. Use each shade individually as eye-shadows and then use them together for a great, shimmery bronzer or blush

3. MAC Fluid Line ($18)
This gel is by far the best and longest lasting eye-liner I’ve ever used. Once you get used to applying it with a thin-angled brush, it will change your life. Perfect for creating a dramatic cat eye or a simple every-day look, this eye-liner is great on both upper and lower lids and is definitely a staple of mine. (Plus, it doesn’t smudge constantly like some pencils do!)

4. L’Oreal Voluminous Carbon Black Mascara ($10.49)
This mascara is a fan-favourite. Kate mentioned it in the past and I have since converted to it after trying it once. Use one sweep for a simple look or load it on for dramatic lashes.

5. Rimmel Vinyl Lip Gloss ($6.49)
One of inanutshell’s #1 supporters, Kelly, went on a quest for lip gloss and after trying multiple expensive brands, decided to give this a shot. After trying it over the weekend, we’re glad she did – it’s awesome and a great value!

6. Treseme Volumizing Dry Shampoo ($5.49)
I’ve blogged about dry shampoos in the past and at the time I wasn’t impressed. But, after trying Tresseme’s Volumizing Dry Shampoo, I can say that it’s now a staple in my beauty regime. Not only useful if you sleep in and have to skip a full wash, but also a great tool for creating a bit more volume if your hair falls flat.

7. Mini Body Shop Almond Hand & Nail Cream ($10)
This hand cream has been a staple in my purse/home/office for as long as I can remember. A light moisturizer with a sweet fragrance, this product not only targets dry hands, but moisturizes your nails as well! The mini size is perfect for taking on the go.

8. Essie ‘Fiji’ Nail Polish ($10.99)
It’s no secret that we nuts LOVE Essie nail polish. And now, you can get the look that Emily Maynard rocked all season as The Bachelorette by sporting the shade ‘Fiji’. It’s a light pink that’s great for everyday because it goes well with just about anything!

And there you have it nuts, some great bargains that will keep you looking great on a budget. Happy shopping & happy saving!