What is LipSense?!

If you searched #LipSense on Instagram, I promise you, you’d be lost in a black hole of lipstick selfies and videos of how amazing this stuff is. Seriously, go try it right now and come back …

… Okay – welcome back! Are you sold yet? Erm, okay. The videos themselves almost sold me on their own but I had to try it myself. As I said in my last post about SeneGence and LipSense, this stuff is seriously as good as it looks on Instagram. And no, I’m not just saying that because I can sell it to you. I also wouldn’t sell a product I didn’t believe in. Goodbye lipstick bleeding or getting on your teeth. Goodbye reapplying every time you touch your lips together. Let me give you the quick rundown on the pros, then leave you with a hilarious video to watch. Promise you’ll read this and not skip right to the video *winky face*.

  • 36 Colours to Pick From – you heard me, ladies, there are lots of LipSense colour options and even more if you start mixing shades. Some of the amazing ladies on my team have started making dupes of some ‘best selling’ shades (like Whirl by MAC and some Kylie Lip Kits colours, to name a few). I promise there’s one for everyone (Bella looks great on everyone).
  • Long Lasting – it’s waterproof, smudge proof, kiss proof, smear proof, rub proof, budge proof … everything proof! It can last anywhere between 4 – 18 hours
  • Key Ingredients – no wax contents and provides a natural shield from the sun. It also contains tree peony root (calming effects) St. John’s wort (elevates moods and treats depression) linden (powerful antioxidant) and isodonis japonicus extract (soothe’s skin) … just to name a few

SeneGence as a company also has some great business philosophies, like:

  • No animal testing (yup, they test on people just like me and you)
  • No animal by-products
  • Use of naturally reoccurring natural ingredients
  • FDA approved ingredients
  • Made in ‘Pharmaceutical Grade’ manufacturing facilities
  • Made in the USA (Go, ‘murica’
  • Most products are Gluten and GMO free

If you want to talk to me more about the product, how it works, want to try it, think it’s a load of BS and want to prove me wrong (challenge accepted), comment below or contact me through my Facebook group!

AND NOW for the funny video I promised – enjoy!

Killer Ab Workout

I recently strained my foot during a workout (or at least, I think that’s when it happened) so I haven’t been able to follow my regular lower body Alexia Clark workouts lately. In exchange, I’ve been focusing a lot on my upper body (arms and shoulders). Great for improving my arms and shoulders but they’re really tired and need a break! So, I put together some of my favourite ab workouts from Alexia Clark and made my own ab circuit. I last posted my HIIT Skipping Workout, so I thought it was about time I shared this one. It’s all about abs, so I hope you’re ready! (PS: I’ve tried to link example videos for the exercises but whatever isn’t linked can be found on Alexia Clark’s Instagram)

Circuit 1
3 Rounds

Chest Press Leg Raise – 20 Reps
Flutter Kicks – 15 Reps (each leg)
Bench Crunches – 15 Reps (each leg)
Plank Weight Push – 10 Reps (each way)

Circuit 2
3 Rounds

Cable Squat Twist – 10 Reps (each way) 
Cable Wood Chop – 10 Reps (each way)
Cable Hinge Row – 10 Reps (each way)
Bent Over Reach Row – 10 Reps (each way)

Circuit 3
3 Rounds – 40 Seconds On, 20 Seconds Rest

Weighted V Ups – 40 Seconds
Weighted Russian Twists – 40 Seconds
Pull Over Alternating Leg Raises – 40 Seconds
Kettlebell Swings – 40 Seconds

Why I Decided To Join SeneGence

Multi-Level Marketing companies. MLMs. Pyramid Schemes. Scams. Network Marketing. Referral Marketing. Whatever you want to call them, I won’t sugarcoat and try to tell you that SeneGence isn’t one. Because let’s be real, it is. I joined a team of distributors and am part of her “1st downline” – if I have people join my team, they will be on my 1st downline and my upline’s 2nd downline. Yeah, it can get complicated.

There are lots of successful MLMs – Avon, Usana, Arbonne, Scentsy, Pampered Chef, Younique, just to name a few.

If you’ve been following my personal Facebook or Instagram accounts, you’ll know I’ve recently joined a SeneGence team and started promoting LipSense. I’m a lipstick girl – it’s my favourite makeup item! I’m always looking for a long wear, kiss proof, food proof, everything proof lipstick and finally found one that ticks all the boxes. THAT’S why I’m now a “SeneGence Distributor”. I love the product, I use it, and I wanted a nice discount for myself. Does it come with some added benefits? Sure, I guess.

 

I’ll say I never thought I’d be one to join a MLM so I want to explain why I did. (Sorry Jess if you’re reading this! She’s my ‘team leader’)

Here’s what I will do with SeneGence:

  • I will make an Instagram page + Facebook Group and a fun business name to promote what I’m doing (follow me @LipsInTheSix). This is completely free and the only thing it takes is my time. I can post when I want and don’t have to do anything else! Posting is simple.
  • I will update my Instagram + Facebook group page about the products
  • I will suggest and promote the product to friends and family if they ask about it or they want to know what I’m doing but won’t push people to buy it

Here’s what I don’t plan on doing:

  • I don’t plan to actively recruit people to my team. If I have friends and family that are interested in becoming a distributor and want to join my team, great. If not, also great! I didn’t join to start a downline.
  • I don’t plan on front loading on the stock. This is where certain MLMs can be a debt-inducing black hole. Some companies suggest you front load or buy a lot of stock before you have customers so you’re “ready to sell when they’re ready to buy” – while I get the concept, I’m not in this to make a ton of money so going far into the negative seems pointless. Shipping is fast in Canada and I have ways around front loading, such as weekly/monthly orders and only placing orders once I have payment
  • I won’t make this a business or my only source of income – this is great to fill my spare time, a little hobby project, and definitely helps me learn how to ‘grow a business using social media’ without investing a lot of capital into something. J and I would love to open a business one day and this is a great way to learn little things that work for a ‘new venture’

For right now, this is a great product that I personally love to use and the discount is a nice perk. Will it lead to more down the road? Who knows – I don’t think so but you can never be certain! Have you ever tried an MLM? What was your experience?

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A Balcony Oasis

J and I moved into our condo this past January and I couldn’t wait to spruce up the balcony. As soon as the weather was warm enough, I started planning how I was going to make our little 4’ x 10’ balcony a little oasis. Just because you live in a condo doesn’t mean that you can’t make those tiny balconies a miniature paradise. Keep reading for some tips to spruce up and maximize your outdoor space.

Light It Up
I want to say this is my favourite addition to our balcony, but I’m not sure that would be honest (since I love it all) but adding white lights makes a huge difference. They bring a great ambiance to the balcony and brighten it up more than you would think! I bought these lights from Ikea + strung them up with these nearly invisible command hooks (just make sure you get the all-weather or outdoor ones).

A Colourful Rug
Rugs aren’t just meant for indoors, guys. It’s so simple but I love these cotton rag rugs – they’re colourful, comfy for my feet, and each one is different! I tucked the rug under the chairs so that we can take our shoes off while we’re out there.

Compact (but comfortable) Furniture
Because there isn’t a lot of room on most condo balconies, the trick is to find compact and comfortable furniture. I snagged these wooden reclining chairs from IKEA and they are amazing. They’re really durable (stand up to being out in the rain all season and barely look dirty or worn!) and with the addition of these outdoor cushions (which are equally as durable to the elements), it is the perfect seat to relax + soak up the sun in.

Candles
We’re constantly burning candles in our house and being out on the balcony is no different. Although it doesn’t get super buggy out on our balcony yet (well, not yet anyways) citronella candles give off a nice lemony smell and keep the mosquitos away – double bonus. I love a good candle.

Tree Stump Table
Okay, I lied – this is my most prized balcony possession. I desperately wanted a tree stump tables for a long, long time and could never bite the bullet and spend $200 + dollars to buy one. Luckily, my dad had a friend who was cutting down some trees and saved me a stump to use as a side table, which saved me big bucks. The stump is rustic and a great side table between the stools.

Plants, Plants, Plants!
I have a mild obsession with plants. I can’t stop buying them and they’re making our balcony a little jungle oasis. My amazing dad built a tiered plant stand, which I stained to match our furniture, and it holds a ton of plants. I mix it up by using different potters of shapes and sizes and use a wide variety of plants. Some of my favourite additions have been our fig tree (I’ve never had a fig but can’t wait to try a homegrown one) and our mini orange tree. We’re also growing cherry tomatoes, which are like my little babies since I grew them from seeds. Plants bring life to the balcony and tie the whole oasis together. I get my plants from Crown Flora, Dynasty, and the little ‘bodegas’ in my neighbourhood.

Putting a little time and energy into your balcony can make it so enjoyable – I guarantee we wouldn’t ever want to be out there if we just had a couple of cheap plastic lawn chairs!

Money Management Tips

So, if you’ve been following along the past few weeks, you’ll know my ‘bad debt story’ and how I’ve worked on fixing it. Being better with money is something that I’m proud of. I try to share my experience with people so that they don’t have to go through the same stuff I did – please learn from my mistakes!! I know these tips aren’t groundbreaking but they’ve helped me out a lot.

Track Your Spending

I started tracking my spending before I made my budget. It helped me understand how much I was actually spending so I could make a realistic budget. I used an app called ‘Expense 5’, which was really eye-opening – tracking it in real time and being able to look at it at any time was a quick reality check. I’d look and think “wooooah, I’ve spent how much on snacks and Starbucks this week?” – I was quickly able to adjust. Without tracking my spending, I’d have no idea what’s going on.

Use Cash as Much as Possible

I used to watch a money show on TV and the debt counselor always told these people to use cash because it was easier to track. I do try to use cash as often as possible. I find that I am more conscious of my spending if I have to count out the money or I can see it dwindling down in my wallet (when you tap your debit card, you don’t even see your balance go down – is ignorance really bliss?).

Not Using Credit

If you struggle with debt and always being in the red, commit to not using credit. I don’t have credit cards because of my debt repayment program, but I can confidently say I haven’t missed them at all the past two years. I used credit like “free money”, which we all know it’s not. By eliminating credit cards, I get rid of that temptation of spending money I don’t have. I’m much more careful with big purchases now that I don’t use credit – I’m not as impulsive when I know the money is gone instantly.

Make a Realistic Budget

Ugh, if only I knew this when I first started out. Yeah, it’s nice to think you’re not going to spend any money on taxis all month, but let’s be real. Or it’s nice to think you can only eat out once a week, but is that really going to happen? Be realistic! If there are areas where you know you struggle or will have difficulty reducing your spending, is there somewhere else in your budget to cut the slack. This also is true with rent and living expenses. Is your budget realistic to your expenses and income? For example, I was budgeting to move out and realistically, my rent was $1,400 once I factored in utilities. However, I only budgeted $1,200. What was I thinking? Idiot, Nicole. Don’t be like that guys. If you make commission at your job (or have other variable forms of income), don’t factor that into your budget! Think of it like a bonus every month but budget to live without it. Leave wiggle room in your budget, too. If there’s an unexpected expense, you want to be able to afford it without going too far into the hole.

The Worlds Best Ribs Recipe

I wish I could take credit for this recipe, but I can’t. This came from Man Fuel Food Blog after a long and tiresome search for the best rib recipe ever. I’ve tried a lot of different recipes but none fit what I wanted – juicy, flavorful, fall-off-the-bone ribs. Most I tried were too dry or didn’t have enough flavor. I tried this recipe two years ago and couldn’t believe how amazing it was. To this day, J says they are “the best ribs I’ve ever eaten. Ever”. Honestly, I want to enter these in a rib fest competition – I’m positive they would win. Okay, my mouth is watering now and I’m dreaming of ribs.

What you need:

1 full rack of bone-in baby back ribs
2 tbsp of onion powder
2 tbsp of garlic powder
4 tbsp of brown sugar
2 tbsp of oil
1 tsp of cumin
1 tsp of salt
2 tsp of chili powder
2 tsp of smoked paprika
¼ tsp of black pepper
Your favorite BBQ sauce

What you do:

1. Start by cutting your ribs in half – it’s easier to rub them down and cook them later. Plus, the meat falls off the bones so it’s hard to divide post-oven.


2. This is optional – removing the silverskin on the bottom of the ribs. It’s connective tissue on the underside of the ribs and if you remove it, the ribs turn out a bit better. However, I’ve never done this on mine and they’re always perfect.

3. In a separate both you’ll make the dry rub – combine onion powder, garlic powder, brown sugar, smoked paprika, cumin, salt, pepper and chili powder.

4. Add the oil to the dry rub and mix really well with a spoon.

5. Apply the rub all over the top and bottom of the ribs.

6. Put the ribs in a large Ziploc bag and let them marinate at room temperature for 1 hour. You can marinate them overnight, just make sure they’re room temperature before they cook

7. Now preheat your oven to 250-260°F

8. Wrap each set of ribs in a piece of tinfoil, creating a pouch and sealing off all sides (this traps the flavor and steam in, making them juicy and delicious.

9. Put them on a baking sheet and cook them on the middle rack for 4 hours.

10. After 4 hours, take them out of the oven and carefully drain the liquid from the pouch (I do this by cutting a corner in the foil, tipping the pouch and letting it pour out.

11. Once the liquid is gone, open up the foil package and let the ribs breathe. They’ll look a bit dry or funny, but don’t worry – that’s supposed to happen.

12. Put your sauce on them and then throw them under the broiler for 3-4 minutes – watch them closely though because they could quickly become burned or overdone

These ribs are best eaten by two people – since they’re already cut into two parts and dividing them is near impossible with the meat literally sliding off the bones onto your plate. I love to serve them with garlic mashed potatoes and even use the drippings from the pouch to make a gravy or sauce.

REAL Toronto Money Hacks

This article popped up on my Facebook newsfeed the other day and it was written by Narcity and was titled along the lines of ‘Money Hacks for Living in Toronto’, which I thought was a super relevant and useful post. So, I clicked (click bait for real on this one) and skimmed through their ‘hacks’. To say I was disappointed would be a severe understatement. They had a few decent ones (few being maybe one), most were a stupid stretch, and the last one was absolutely ridiculous! Their final ‘hack’ for affordable living in Toronto was:

“Sign up for a TD Student Line of Credit”

ARE YOU JOKING ME?! ‘Hey guys, if you can’t afford to live in Toronto, just get a line of credit to help’. I cannot even BEGIN to explain why this is a terrible idea. If you’ve read my post on my debt story, you’ll know why this is TERRIBLE advice on Narcity’s part. I’m sure most people with some financial sense would know this is a bad idea but hey, I was uneducated with money at one point and would have definitely signed up for a line of credit. I think the worst part is that people know it’s a bad idea but do it anyways. So, I’m rounding up my Toronto Money Hacks. I promise you, none of them include going into debt to afford to live in Toronto.

Get a Roommate

Guys, I know it feels super lame to have a roommate but it is easily the best way to save money living in Toronto. You can split utilities and rent in half, plus you always have someone to hang out with. If you’re worried about someone getting in your way, find a roommate that runs on opposite schedules. The most important things I looked for was lifestyle match (if they partied a lot or always had friends over, we wouldn’t work well together) and cleanliness (who cares if their room is messy – as long as common areas are clean, I was ok). I also have found living with strangers is actually less stressful than friends. Yes, you have to screen more carefully and you could get a ‘bad one’ but there’s also no added pressure of ruining a friendship. If you guys don’t have similar interests, you can be like two ships passing in the night with no worries. If you live with a friend and it doesn’t work out, it can be downright awkward.

Ditch the Goodlife Membership

If your condo has a gym, use it! Don’t pay for that pricy Goodlife or Equinox membership when you have one you can use for free. If you aren’t blessed with a free gym, Toronto has lots of community centre gyms you can buy passes for that are a fraction of the cost of Goodlife. If you like classes but aren’t down with paying $20 a class, try ClassPass – which lets you try different classes in the city on a monthly fee that’s cheaper than joining all of the different gyms. I also used to do “new member” trial passes for two weeks just to get in some classes then would bounce to a new gym. There’s also a TON of fitness gurus on Instagram that post free workouts and a lot can be modified to be done at home with little equipment. Fit can be free, guys.

Ditch the ‘Big Box’ Grocery Stores

One of the best discoveries I had when J and I moved to our new neighbourhood was that there were some little ‘bodegas’ around that sold produce way cheaper than Sobeys and Grocery Gateway! It’s a bit more annoying to separate your grocery trips to two or three different stores (especially when you don’t drive!) but you can save a lot of money this way. I bought $15 worth of produce at our corner market, which would have been $35 at Sobeys! The quality is also much better, since I find they get stock more frequently. We use Grocery Gateway to deliver bulk items twice a month (which is cheaper than renting a Car2Go or a taxi) and I try to get the stuff we use a lot on sale (cat food, paper towel, toilet paper, etc.) and stock up when it is.

Instead of Taxis or Ubers, Use Car Sharing Programs

I use Car2Go, which is a car sharing program in Toronto. It’s super convenient – you can park in any approved legal spot (and even if you get a ticket, Car2Go pays for it), you can drop it off when you’re done using it (no returning to its pickup spot) and gas and insurance is all covered. The cars are rated per minute, so it starts at $.41/minute up to $.47/minute depending on the car you get (they have Smart Cars and Mercedes-Benz GLA/CLAs) and then rates change for the hour and for the day. If you need to jet home from the grocery store or are running out for a quick errand, often times it’s cheaper to do car share then taking a taxi!

Follow The Drink Specials

One of the best parts of being in the city is that there is always somewhere to go! This can get pricey though. So, whenever I’d get together with my girlfriend Emma (we were both always on a budget) we’d search for the best drink specials that night. There are drink specials every night at multiple bars so don’t feel like you need to hit up the most expensive place to get the best experience. Some of the best hidden gems also have great drink and food specials!