Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 - Reflections on Goals & Resolutions

Every year around this time I like to do a little reflection on the past year.  Look at the goals I set for myself...see how far I've far I still want to go.  Overall, this has been a very good year!  My wedding business has grown exponentially in the past 3 years.  First year I did 20 weddings, last year I did 48 weddings and this year I finished out the year w/ 72 weddings!

And again like last year I pretty much doubled my income!  This is amazing for me and it's allowed me to do a lot of things this year that I'd only dreamed of.  Now again, not to say I'm rolling in the money..but I did okay, and I lived okay this year.  I still of course want to continue to grow next year but I'm also realistic and know there is no way I'll see that sort of growth again.

So let's take a look back at my goals from last year and how I did:

1. Travel More - I did travel this year...took me almost the entire year to do it but I did at least get one really good trip in lol!  I'm not going to lie, it's hard to justify taking time of work and worrying about the jobs I might be missing out on but I also have to take a break sometime and just enjoy life!  So in Nov. I went to India for a two week tour...which in turn turned into a 3 week tour!  I figure almost 2 years w/out a vacation I can take an extra week lol.  And the business didn't complete fall to bits or anything like that lol.  I of course wasn't able to keep up w/ things the way I would have liked but I didn't really miss that much work so it was okay.  Plus the trip was a life changing adventure so no matter what it was worth it!

2. Learn Moderation in Living - I think this one is definitely more of a life goal than a yearly goal...b/c I still need to work on this one lol.  I think I did better this year for sure but one this is for sure the word "moderation" was definitely not in my vocabulary in India or over Christmas lol.

3. Grow My Business EVEN MORE - As I mentioned above I definitely did this one.  Going from 48 weddings to just over 70 was a huge growth.  I did more commercial work as well and even had a few cool gigs - def. I highlight was seeing my work on Billboards across Toronto for the Orville Redenbacher campaign.

4. MORE Self Promotion - Yeah I definitely did some good work on this front.  I was definitely very proactive about getting reviews and pics from past brides for promotional materials.  I built an EVEN better wedding website! Got connected w/ some cool companies for product reviews, did some guest posts on other blogs and even had my work featured a couple of times on Style Me Pretty...but again can always improve ;)

6.  Debt & Savings - This is one goal I DEFINITELY am proud to say I achieved!  I paid of my Line of Credit - $20 000 in just over 10 mths!  This is probably one of my biggest accomplishments EVER!  There was a point where I'm not going to lie I NEVER saw that thing going away but I kept working and working and putting ALL the money I could onto that thing until it was gone!  Savings...I've definitely worked on that one too...I actually have money in the account.  Plus I was able to save enough to send myself on that 3 wk vacation to India.  My credit card is always paid in full.  Still have a bit of student loan but that's not bad.  Still do need to start saving for the investments and stuff.

7. Read More! - Yep definitely been doing that!  Even read two books over my vacation.  Feels good to be reading again.  I probably still could work on keeping up-to-date w/ current events around the I will admit gossip sites are an addiction of mine but not necessarily that informative about the REAL world around us lol.

There are some other goals I achieved for myself this year that I didn't necessarily have set at the beginning of last year.

I started looking after myself a bit better.  Went to the dentist for the first time in over 4 yrs...EEK...happy to say though still no cavities :)  I must be blessed w/ good genetics for teeth!  Got new glasses.  Started to see a massage therapist...with my job comes a lot of back problems and I need to stay on top of that stuff!  Even finally made an appt. for a dermatologist...although I had to re-schedule it for Jan. b/c my original appt. happened to fall during my extra week in India.

Plus one thing I've really jumped into full force in just the past mth is working on my HOME...and making it a HOME!  I'm not going to lie I have trouble w/ decorating and home stuff...I've moved around A LOT in my life and therefore never really done much decorating.  The thought of it actually stresses me out...but this year I decided to invest in me and my home!  Before I was always making excuses that I could spend the money on more important things but w/ the debt paid off I thought now was time.

I love my apt. and in Apr. I'll have been here 2 yrs...time to actually make it feel like a home lol!  With the help of a friend I built a Home Studio to host my trials at...this is very exciting and it looks so professional!  I also redid the layout of my living room.  Bought a new desk and made a new office space to go along w/ my new studio!  Bought a rug as the old one was looking a little rough lol!  Plus I've added a lot of storage elements to my apt!  I want to de-clutter EVERYTHING!  I hate clutter and I want things to look as clean and professional as possible!  I feel like de-cluttering my living space will help to de-clutter my life!

So overall it's been a good year and I've done a lot of good stuff!  Next post I'll write about my Goals for 2013...and boy do I have some lol!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Appfinity AppDrive Unboxing Gone Wrong

Thought I'd share w/ you a cute web commercial I worked on a couple of mths ago w/ RUNE Entertainment Inc!  It's a clever take on the the "unboxing videos" that are so popular on YouTube.  I'm not going to lie...I didn't even know what an "unboxing video" was until this commercial.  My YouTube knowledge is limited to Makeup & Hair tutorials and reviews pretty much lol!

Anyway, here's the video...wait for the end (it's the best part ;) )

Friday, December 28, 2012

Engagement Season - Here's Some More Of My Past Brides!

So it's THAT time of year again!  The time when EVERYONE seems to get engaged!  And therefore EVERYONE starts planning their wedding!  If this year is anything like last year then I'm going to start to get booked up VERY quickly...and I think it will be b/c I'll be honest I'm already starting to heavily book into next year..some Saturdays I already have TWO weddings booked on the SAME day!

So Toronto/GTA brides...if you're reading this and you're thinking "Man, I'd LOVE to have Jessica do my hair and makeup for MY wedding" then you better get on it!  I'm always shocked how many brides try to book an artist last minute!  If you really want someone it's NEVER too early to book them trust me!

So as to be expected for this time of year it is definitely quieter for weddings but that isn't to say there aren't ANY weddings.  In fact even during the "off-season" I usually book 3-4 weddings a mth.  This is also the time of year when I get to do a lot of  "catch up" work like collect pics from brides, update my site, organize my receipts for tax time :S etc.

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about how to get pics from brides and let me tell you - I have been following my own advice and it's DEFINITELY paying off!  In the past few weeks I've received pics from 6 brides!  Plus, a lot of them have even been kind enough to write me a review...always good for business!

So without further adieu I thought I'd share w/ you my latest collection of beautiful brides!

Some more beautiful work from Mango Studios.  Mariam's wedding was extra special b/c I had worked w/ her from the beginning on everything from her engagement photos, to her trial and then her wedding day!

I did all the bridesmaid's makeup...Candace French-Goodman did the hair!

Final touches on the bride's makeup!  Photos courtesy of Just Klik

It's a wedding day miracle...I'm actually smiling during a picture...I normally look so serious lol!

I really loved the way Mary's hair turned out on her wedding day.  We did it a bit more undone and textured than the trial and it was gorgeous!

I did ALL the bridesmaid's hair on this one...they did their own makeup.

Hair & Makeup - Photos courtesy of MKG Photography

So pretty and so sweet!  I love her smile!

One of the few weddings where I ONLY did Makeup - photos courtesy of Jamieson Dean Photography
Love pics like this when I can see how clean and tight my eyeliner was ;)

Stacey was VERY particular about her brows..I'm actually really proud that she allowed me to do them and I got them the way SHE likes (as a picky eyebrow girl I understand how hard this can be)!

Another wedding where I did Makeup Only - Photos courtesy of  Heaven Meets Earth Photography
Monique was such a stunning bride!  Monique told me after the wedding even her Hair & Makeup artist cousin asked who did the makeup b/c she was so impressed ;)
Monique and her Sisters!

I did both Jaclyn's Hair & Makeup - Sometimes I swear I have the MOST Beautiful Brides! Photos courtesy of Courtney and Graham @ Precious Photography

I did the bridemaid's makeup - Blake Arsenault did their hair

So as you can see I've DEFINITELY been keeping myself busy ;)

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Back in late Summer/early Fall I got a visit from my long time photographer friend Todd Anthony Tyler.  It was great to see him again esp. since he had just wrapped filming the first season of Asia's Next Top Model where he is head photographer and judge for the competition!  He was here visiting some family and came to the city one day to do a very casual shoot.

The shoot was very basic and fact it was shot on my back deck, in my patio doorway and even on my roof!  The whole concept was just Asian beauty.  The idea is that Todd might at some point put together a book w/ a collection of his work showcasing all different types of Asian beauty since there are so many and it's such a diverse concept across the continent of Asia.

We were lucky enough to get two models that day and here are the pics from the shoot w/ Gail from Spot 6.  Very simple and clean except for a very dark lip.  One of the pics was even featured in an article Todd had published in an Asian photography magazine :)

Photographers just LOVE their B&W ;)

For a new model Gail is really great at connecting w/ the camera!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Silky, Smooth and Beautiful Hair - Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil Review

A few weeks ago I was sent Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil to try out for myself.  Now that I'm back from India I thought I should get back to business and start reviewing again!  So normally, I do my reviews based on using the product on myself...couldn't really do that for this one.  Although the product has a lot of uses it's biggest use is to tame frizz in curly hair and make hair smooth and silk during blowouts.  Being that my hair is about the opposite of frizz and naturally as smooth, straight and silky as one can get I knew I had to bring in the reinforcements on this one - my friends!

So I contacted my friend Vicki who jumped at the opportunity to get a free blowout and test the product w/ me...I mean what frizzy, curly haired girl doesn't want a blowout lol!  It ended up being the perfect day for my experiment.  Slightly rainy, she had washed her hair that morning and under my direction put no product in it so the frizz was in full effect!

Before - Front

Before - Back

I started by wetting her hair, then I added a small amount of the Josie Maran Oil to the hair focusing on the ends which are the driest part of her hair.  Right away I noticed it had a very nice fragrance...not strong but very relaxing like an essential oil you might smell during a massage..there is no added fragrance so I guess the smell is all natural...I like!  Another thing I noticed was that it wasn't heavy or overly greasy...which is actually good for someone like Vicki b/c even though her hair is frizzy it's actually quite fine and light...therefore I didn't want to weigh it down or coat it in too much oil.

After the product was in her hair I started section by section blow drying her hair straight using a big round brush.  As I worked my way through her hair I was really liking what I was seeing.  The hair was smooth and straight and even the roots were blowing out super well!  Once I finished I put a tiny drop more between my palms just to smooth away flyaways at the roots and Voila...beautiful, gorgeous, straight, smooth hair!

After - Look How Smooth The Roots Are!

After- Back

After that I was having fun playing hairdresser so I decided to curl her hair again using my straightening iron.  I mean if I'm using a Josie Maran hair product I gotta give the girl some sexy Victoria Secret Hair right ;) The curls turned out fabulous and smooth and they held nice to know the product didn't weigh her hair down in anyway or make it hard to work w/ afterward!  I shook out her hair a bit and it was still gorgeous curls!

Smooth Curls

 Smooth Curls - Back

This all happened on Monday, I saw Vicki last night for her one woman show Dairy-Free Love that's currently showing at Winchester Kitchen & Bar in Toronto (btw go check it out...great show and great food).  Anyone who knows about this or has seen the promo pics I worked on w/ Vicki for the show knows she has to put her hair into a beehive every night.  After the show miraculously enough she took out her beehive and her hair was still gorgeous, smooth and totally wearable!  B/c her hair is so naturally dry she actually only washes it once a if I go more than two days my hair is an oil slick lol!

So definitely a Must Have product for those girls that need some taming of the frizz!  But I should also mention it's not just for hair!  It also makes a great moisturizer and cuticle cream (man I need that right now) and apparently it's great for ppl w/ acne, stretch marks, eczema and psoriasis!  Sounds like a wonder product to me!  The Josie Maran version is also 100% organic and natural.  It's cruelty free, paraben free, vegan and the packaging is recyclable!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Long Over Due Blog Post - Back from India!

Hey All!  I know it's been FOREVER (well a mth) and my apologies for that...won't happen again.  I'm back from India and ready to start blogging up a storm just in time for Christmas...have so many blog posts lined up it's exciting!  I got back from India a week ago but needed a little time to get things back in order w/ home and the business before I started attacking the blog again.  I would have blogged while in India but wifi was unreliable at best and unavailable at worst...and I only took my iPhone...hard to blog from an iPhone.

So I'll give you all a brief update about my time in India...can't talk about it all b/c that would literally take me another week to write lol!  Let's just say it was an amazing and life changing sort of trip where I met an amazing group of ppl that I will NEVER forget!  So amazing in fact I couldn't leave after 2 weeks!  I didn't have any huge obligations back home so I decided why not stay an extra week and take in more of the wonderful experiences that India has to offer (I mean after 2 yrs w/out a vacation I think I deserved an extra week lol).  One of the perks of being self employed...if I want to stay an extra week guess what I stay an extra week!

As I mentioned before I was traveling w/ a tour company called G Adventures which is Canadian based but oddly enough I was not only the only Canadian on my tour but also the only person from North America.  It was definitely an eclectic group of ppl from all over world and spanning decades in age.  Really great ppl though and we all had great chemistry and a fabulous doubt in part due to our amazing tour guide Zahid (Zee)...seriously couldn't have asked for a better guide to show us the wonders, beauty and adventure that is India.

Before I went I actually was on the G Adventures Forum called The Watering Hole look for others on my tour...couldn't find any until about a week before when I actually found a fellow companion Ole from Norway.  I joked w/ him that he had decided to do a little male version Eat, Love, Pray trip...he quit his job, sold his condo and now he's traveling for a year! We chatted for a bit online and then added each other to Facebook so we could "stalk" each other a bit more lol.  It was nice to know before I left that I was going to have at least one person there that I "knew" beforehand.

Just arriving in Delhi I knew I was in for a HUGE change!  I thought I was use to crazy driving having lived in Shanghai for 8 mths but I can honestly say w/out hesitation the Chinese have NOTHING on the Indians when it comes to CRAZY driving...let's just say lanes, blinkers, street signs have no use in India...all you need is a horn and death wish and you're probably good to drive in India lol!

So the adventure started in Delhi but I left there almost as quickly as I arrived...which was fine for me as I can honestly say it was probably my least fav city we visited..but that might in part of had something to do w/ the bit of culture shock and the 24 hrs of traveling prior to Delhi lol.

Agra and the Taj Mahal what can you say...of course it was breath taking and just seeing it was an experience of a life time!  After that we went to Jaipur (The Pink City) again full of gorgeous sites, palaces, forts and a Monkey Temple!  This is also where I got to experience my first real taste of a Bollywood movie in the movie theatre.

After Jaipur we went on to Pushkar, which is an amazing and interesting place on its own - it's completely vegetarian and alcohol free!  But it was esp. exciting b/c we happened to be traveling through it during the Annual Camel Festival which just happens to be Pushkar's biggest event bringing hundreds of thousands of ppl to the normally sleepy city of Pushkar every year.

A really sort of "interesting" experience I had in Pushkar was I actually competed in a Bridal Beauty was aimed at tourists and we got a chance to dress up as Indian Brides w/ all the clothes, jewelry and makeup of an authentic Indian bride!  I figured I'd gotten enough brides ready over the past couple of years might be fun to try it out being an Indian bride for a much more over the top can that get!  It was an experience I'll give you that...and just as chaotic and crazy as pretty much EVERY Indian wedding I've ever worked lol!  I actually experienced the chaos w/ a couple of my fellow tour companions - Ally and Sophie.  Being the control free I am I did my own makeup...and b/c of my exceptional winged eyeliner skills I was actually put in charge of doing about 8 other girls eyeliner as well lol! Unfortunately, I didn't win but it was an "interesting" experience nonetheless lol!

Pushkar was an amazing place b/c it's where I got to go on a Camel Safari...not the most comfortable of rides but definitely an experience.  There is an idea in Indian art that the Camel symbolizes Love b/c if you can love a camel you can love anything...I kind of understand that now ;).

After Pushkar we went on to Udaipur which will always hold a special place in my heart not necessarily for the activities that we did but more for the experiences I had and the relationships that were bonded over a beautiful sunrise on a rooftop on magical night/morning.  I'll admit though it was also the place where I experienced my worst

Traveling by jeep we left Udaipur behind and moved onto Ranakpur...this jeep ride was probably one of my fav. modes of transportation.  It was just a really fun playing DJ w/ my iPhone, which for some reason we learned is exponentially louder then anyone else's...good thing I have good music taste where ANYONE can pretty much find something like lol.

My least fav. mode of transportation had to have been the overnight train to Mumbai.  I'm no stranger to overnight trains as I took them when I was traveling in Thailand but this was nothing like the Thailand train.  They were bunkers of three and I had the unfortunate luck of being in the middle bunk...which IMO was the worst...and it was just not a good sleep...maybe I'm getting old or something but man my back just can't take that shit anymore lol!  Whatever like everything else good and bad in India it was an authentic experience and that's what I was after.

One of the big reasons I picked this tour was b/c it was a basic tour...I felt like I'd get a "real" India experience that frills or fanciness here!  Let's just say I'm now a PRO at the squatting toilets in ANY circumstance or condition, I really learned to love and appreciate hot water and I probably smelled really bad for a lot of the trip b/c no matter how much I tried...hand washing in a sink is not the same as washing clothes in a washing  machine lol!  Plus as I mentioned before we traveled in ALL modes of transportation - plane, train, tuk tuk, camel, jeep, cab, rickshaw, bus! NOT my music normally but in that city, w/ these ppl and those conditions it all felt right!  A few of us stayed right till the end and Zee showed us some real late night Mumbai action w/ some street food bought from an illegal late night restaurant and we also visited a beach which we found out afterwards was against the law at the time of night/morning...Zee may have had some words w/ a cop...
So back to Mumbai...if I'm to compare Mumbai to Delhi I'd definitely say I preferred the vibe of Mumbai A LOT more...I'll be honest this might in part of had something to do w/ the fact that I wasn't culture shocked or jet lagged (although I don't really get jet lag..I'm pretty amazing that way) but the overall feel just felt better.  I liked the culture more and it just seemed less dirty (this is a relative term of course) and the cars didn't seem to beep quite as much...which is always nice.  We only had one night in Mumbai but boy did we make the most of it - there was dinner, drinks, dancing, lipstick moments, street food and some illegal beach entries!  Started the night w/ dinner at the famous Leopolds...which ANYONE who has read Shantaram (I'm currently reading it btw...bought a black market copy in Mumbai in fact...seems appropriate lol) knows is a must see place..just for the experience or to say you've been there!  After dinner it was off to a true Mumbai nightclub experience at Blue Frog where we drank and danced to trance music LATE into the
After that it was onto Goa, which was actually the last time in the two week tour of the trip I had planned!  It was crazy how many places we had visited and sites we had seen but also how quickly time had passed!  A few of the group were actually staying on for a third week w/ another tour which was heading further south into the Kerala region and I knew I couldn't cut my journey yet.  So w/ some MAJOR airline drama, a lot of hours of trying and the wonderful help of a G Adventures flight representative back in Canada I was able to change my flight w/ literally less than 24 hrs left in the trip.  Seriously, I can't give enough props to the ppl at G Adventures not only for their tour but also for their amazing customer service!

After some sad goodbyes it was off to Kochi w/ the remaining 5 ppl on the of them being my "first" G Adventures friend Ole...kind of a neat full circle thing you know.  What was different in this next week was they were all part of a tour and technically I was just tagging along and following them lol.  So basically I just booked a room in all the same hotels and homestays they did but I had to find my own modes of transportation b/c they had a private bus taking them around.  If I was doing this my first wk in India I think I might have been a bit overwhelmed but after two weeks I felt I was up for the challenge and it was exciting and new so I liked that!  I figured out train schedules and buses all my own (well maybe I had a little help ;) ) and even managed to arrive at all the places w/out and real hiccups...pretty impressive indeed!

The South was a much more relaxed adventure w/ a lot less scheduled activities and cities to visit which was kind of nice given the hectic pace of the first tour.  Some of my fav. meals on the whole trip were actually had during this last week.  Special shout out to Green Palm Homestay in Alleppey which was run by a wonderful and warm family and literally had the best food of the entire trip...home cooked meals at it's finest!  That's one thing I haven't really touched on much yet...the food!  Fortunately, I NEVER got sick the entire trip...I was expecting it but it never happened!  Unforutnately, I literally put on at least 10 I'm not pull on cargos capris were tight by the end of the trip.  But you know that's all part of the experience and after awhile you go fuck it and eat some more b/c it's vacation and that's what vacation is for!  Did a couple of amazing cooking classes on the trip as well - one in Udaipur and one in Periyar (one of the stops in my third week).  While it's nice to have a salad again I'll admit I did LOVE all that garlic naan at EVERY meal lol!

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and that end was in Varkala, a beach resort area where we mostly just sunbathed, swam and indulged in fresh seafood!  After Varkala I took a train w/ Ole back to Kochi and although it was uncomfortable, hot and sweaty it was the perfect way to end the trip and experience the warmth and hospitality I had grown to know throughout my entire time in India.  At least it was nice to end the trip w/ the first person I met on the trip, Ole but some goodbyes are definitely harder than others...

And some flights are definitely harder than others...major delays on the way home and w/ the inclusion of the train ride from Varkala to Kochi I traveled for 48 hrs...ughh I needed a vacation after that!  But I wouldn't give up ANY of it...even the overnight train and gross disgusting washrooms b/c it made all the experiences that much more real and exciting!

Good Bye India...You definitely will have a place in my heart forever...

Here's a few more pics of my Adventure...wish I could share more w/ you but there are literally hundreds!

It's cliche but had to do it lol!

Myself, My Roomate Beci and Ole on one of our MANY tuk tuk adventures!

Monkey Temple

Chai before Henna w/ the Girls!

You can't tell but I'm on a camel

Cooking Class

They are probably much better at hand washing clothes than me that's for sure lol!

Much needed coffee after a long, late night!

Coconut Water - Nature's Gatorade...and a good hangover cure ;)

Puppies in Ranakpur!

Leopolds - The boys rocking out a bit at the beg. of the night!

Illegal Beaching at the end of the night in Mumbai

Canoe ride to Green Palm Homestay in Alleppey

Group Shot - Such a Great Picture!

Train Ride

Now back to your regularly scheduled Makeup & Beauty Blogging Business!