Pique Tea Crystals (How to Drink Tea in the 21st Century)…

Dear Readers,

I have an exciting discovery in the world of tea to share with you today!
276
Most of us lead very busy lives –we are constantly on the go, and rely on anything and everything that helps to simplify our lives.  This does not mean that we do not have an appreciation for the finer things, it simply means we must find the little pockets of time available to us in order to take a few moments and re-center ourselves.  Tea is one of the most popular ways to do just that; after all, to quote Ralph Waldo Emerson, “There is a great deal of poetry and fine sentiment in a chest of tea.”

As someone who cannot do without tea even in the summertime, I find there are many accessories that I have to tote around in order to be able to make that perfect cup wherever I happen to be.  Tea packets, a tea strainer, stirring stick, and a cup/travel mug all rattle around in the depths of my Longchamp tote bag.  What if the process of having tea could be simplified without sacrificing the quality and one’s appreciation for the ritual?  Tea bags, you say?  I have something neater.

Enter Pique Tea’s innovative tea crystals, a concept by tea-loving entrepreneur Simon Cheng, similar to water-flavouring crystals, but better.  With a special process, Pique Tea is able to extract the antioxidants and fresh flavor of whole leaf tea at optimal levels, and no sweetening is ever included.  These 100% natural and organic crystals completely dissolve in water and enable one to instantly enjoy an exceptional cup of tea, without compromising on flavour or quality.  You don’t even have to stir!

“Tea Crystals are the biggest innovation in tea since the invention of the teabag,” Simon says, and I am inclined to agree.

Watch my video to see this product in action:

Pique Tea Crystals are available for purchase or via subscription in five flavours: Sencha, Mint Sencha, Jasmine, Earl Grey, English Breakfast, or you can opt to try them all with a Variety Pack. (Starting at $7.98/month).  They also have a sleek canteen for sale –I love the lines of it.

Have I… Pique-ed your interest?  If so, satisfy your curiosity and your thirst by visiting: www.piquetea.com

(Please note that as of this writing, Pique Tea’s website does not offer shipping to Canada.  Yet.)

Making a Stink… About Poo-Pourri…

Dear readers,

Your MIA blogger is back in action, and what better way to get back into the swing of things than to talk about the basic human function of doing a No. 2?

Normally, this is a topic usually left out of civilised conversation, but I’m going to share with you a way to pretend that you never poo.  Or at least, if you do, fairy dust and unicorn wings are involved.

By now, if you watch Youtube videos, you most likely have come across this sassy advertisement:

Curiosity piqued?  Mine was!  The lovely Tiffany from Nail Polish Canada sent along a bottle of Poo-Pourri‘s ‘Poo La La  for me to test and review.

Miss Cathie Reviews - Poo-Pourri - Poo La La

Poo-Pouri claims to stop odours before they even start, and it works like so:  the essential oils create a protective barrier when sprayed onto the surface of the toilet water, and keeps everything trapped underneath the oily film of scented goodness.  However, the best part about Poo-Pouri is that it is completely natural.  I balked at first at the idea of spritzing potentially harmful ingredients and causing damage to our water system every time one has to go.  Thank goodness then, that Suzy (the founder) is just as crazy about being environmentally friendly as I am.  Rest assured, she guarantees that all Poo-pouri products are alcohol, aerosol, parabens, phthalates, formadlehyde, and synthetic fragrance free.  Yes, please, and thank you!

Let us first start off with the notes, which are a combination of my favourite flowers and plant/fruits:  peony + rose + citrus.  As promised, the fragrance of the blended essential oils is quite pleasing, but the strongest note is the citrus, which isn’t unpleasant –I do like a good citrus.  I just hoped that it would be more meadow than breakfast fruit, but that is most likely because I love the scent of peonies.  The scent did not give me a headache or seem artifical, as most commercial/synthetic fragrances do.

I have used this magical concoction quite a few times since I got it, and have even brought it to work; I love how it doesn’t mask, but contains the smell.  If your No. 2 doesn’t leave a strong scent to begin with, I’ve found that even one spritz can be more than enough if you use (and you should always use) the courtesy flush –i.e., flush as you go, don’t let it collect in the bowl!

As others have noted on Amazon, it’s hard to spray when you tip the bottle sideways completely.  My secret is to spray at a 45° angle; it works quite well!

In short, Poo-Pourri absolutely delivers.  It is practical, discreet, and cheeky –qualities a good ‘toilet accessory’ should possess.

To get your own Poo-Pourri, go and take a peek at Nail Polish Canada’s selection here!

I now leave you with this little limerick for Poo La La.

pooetry:
there once was a dame called Colette,
whose odor she’d rather forget.
she bid odor adieu,
by spritzing the loo,
au revoir to “eww” de toilette.

— Cathie

Disclaimer:  Although the product was gifted, this post features my honest opinions and I went out and bought deja poo with my own money.  Every opinion expressed herein is true and not influenced in any manner.

Miss Cathie Reviews [Beauty]: Feather & Bone Face Gems…

Alright, readers.  Time for a review — Feather & Bone’s Face Gems!  The amazing people behind this company kindly sent along a few samples for me to try, so I’m here to share my thoughts with the obligatory face shots that such products usually entail, so I do ask that you be kind.  😉

Feather and Bone Face Gems are face cleansers based on natural ingredients, and are meant to be an all-in-one skincare routine, cleanse, exfoliate, moisturise, all in one tiny tablet.  Sounds impressive right?
Note to tablet:  There’s a lot resting on your shoulders, little one.

Trying out my @feather.bone face gems this morning! Love it. #natural #face #beauty #Ayurveda #skincare

A photo posted by Cathie Maud (@cathiemaud) on

 

They come in these little ‘popsicle stick’ blister packages.  You pop the tablet out, mix a bit of water, and apply the paste in massaging motions to your face.  (Proper instructions will follow below!)  I’m not sure why the packaging is what it is, though.  It’s not like I would scoop the paste up with the packaging afterwards –that’s not very hygienic or gentle on the face!  I think it would be more environmentally friendly and make more sense for the one stick to simply hold, say, five tablets altogether, and you just pop what you need.  Packaging aside, I had fun mixing water with the tablet and turning it into a spreadable paste.  There was an element of mud-pie making there, definitely.  The echoes of my two-year-old self were glorying in squishing around the tablet until it turned into ‘dirt’, and I was applying the mixture onto my face with un-adult-like glee.  Who knew being natural could be so enjoyable… please tell me it’s not just me!

All gem-ified with @feather.bone! #naturalskincare #face #beauty #Ayurveda A photo posted by Cathie Maud (@cathiemaud) on

 

 My adult side resurfaced just before I applied the paste to my face.  I sniffed the paste delicately, because it needs to smell nice if it’s going on my face!  The face gem smelled slightly herbal, spicy, and earthy.  The ingredients are sandalwood (cleanser), Fuller’s earth (exfoliator), and starch (moisturiser)… simple, natural, and fresh-smelling.  It came off easily when I rinsed my face, and behold you see me in my post-face gem ‘glory’ below:

I noticed that my face seemed moisturised after rinsing — as if I had taken a few drops of argan oil and worked it into my skin –a very nice feeling.  I’m blessed in that my facial skin is smooth, but I did notice a slight improvement as well.  Overall, I felt clean and fresh afterwards.  So far, I believe it does exactly what it says it will!  Well done, Feather & Bone.  🙂

I think this concept and packaging would come incredibly handy if you were travelling and wanted to freshen up.  Especially when on a plane, what better way to pamper and revitalise your face after hours of canned air than to use one of these little beauties!  I can’t wait to see what else Feather & Bone come up with, and I definitely will be using the rest of my face gems.

***

Proper Instructions:

1: pop one tablet and place in the palm of your hand

2: using your hand add 5-10 drops of water as needed and apply pressure on tablet to break to form a paste

3: scoop paste from palm to massage/apply on full face and wash face

Feather & Bone is an inventive, fresh and unique personal care company.  We are dedicated to the creation of fresh product solutions.  Uniquely for YOU.  At Feather & Bone, our mantra is INDIVIDUALITY and AUTHENTICITY.

At Feather & Bone our goal and mission is for men and women to feel empowered by who they are as individuals and embrace their inner weirdness and authenticity.

Authenticity – it’s your inner core, your gravity, it’s the intangible and everything else is noise and constantly changing.  How you look from child to old age will change.  You change yourself through make-up and clothing to fit in, but in reality your inner core, values and authenticity are static.  Feather & Bone believes that the best way to fit in is to be you.

***

Reviews from customers:
“It was easy to dissolve with just a few drops of water in the palm of my hand.  It was odorless so that was good.  Skin felt soft after using.”

          – Sandy Cataldo, VP of Marketing & PD at Batallure

“It felt different. I got that clean feeling I don’t normally get with other face washes. My skin was glowing. It was easy to use.”

– Cheryl James, WholeBody manager at the Needham WF

“Feather & Bone Face Gems is by far one of the most amazing face wash brands I’ve ever tried. Great ingredients and immediate effect! I absolutely loved it!”

– Wad Taweel, Analyst at Palestine Investment Fund

“Feather & Bone Face Gems is certainly a revolutionary face wash. I had never experienced such a soft yet reviving feeling on my skin prior to using Face Gems Most importantly, I know that this great feeling on my skin will last the entire day. Women develop a strong loyalty towards products that change and improve little things in their routine, and this is what Face Gems is to me; it is such an easy-to-use product yet very different and exciting. This face wash is truly incomparable to anything that is currently on the market. Feather & Bone is the difference women have been waiting for.”

– Michele Lessard, Student

***

Find Feather & Bone across the web:

Facebook: Feather & Bone

Twitter: @feathernbone

Instagram: @feather.bone

Website: http://www.featherandboneco.com/

xoxo,

— Cathie

Miss Cathie Reviews: The Keurig 2.0…

Last December, I had the good fortune to be one of a number of Canadian Influensters who were chosen to receive a complimentary Keurig 2.0 brewing machine.  To say I was excited and grateful was an understatement!  😀
Keurig 2.0 Coffee MachineWhile unpacking it, I felt a bit overwhelmed –I had never used these ‘convenience machines’ before, and there seemed to be a dozen manuals to read, and I was beginning to wonder if it was going to be complicated to set-up and use.  I really needn’t have worried.

All you do is:

  • Plug brewer in.
  • Wash water ‘tank’.
  • Set tank in receptacle and fill with filtered water.
  • Turn machine on.
  • Let it preheat the water (takes around a minute).
  • Place desired coffee cup in chamber, snap lid down, and brew!

It was simple, easy, and quick.  The coffee flavours included were also quite good –my favourite being Timothy’s Breakfast Blend, and Van Houtte’s Vanilla Hazelnut.  With the included ‘Buy 2 boxes, get 2 free’ deal, I went on to purchase other flavours as well.  (Van Houtte’s Pecan Praline and Rasberry Chocolate are very good, in my opinion!)

I found that the coffee sometimes appeared to be a bit watery, and if you’re used to brewing fresh coffee all the time, you will notice a difference in flavour and taste, sadly.  However, for its purpose, which is a time-saving, get-out-and-go sort of machine, it performs incredibly well and for that, I am a fan.  🙂


The only real drawback that I have come across is that when you simply want hot water, the resulting cupful has the faint taste of coffee in it.  I thought that perhaps one ‘flush’ would do the trick, but after three tries, the flavour was still in the water.  I was not too happy as sometimes I just want to get some hot water quickly to make tea in the morning, and having an adulterated taste to it is not ideal.

Another con would perhaps be the cost of cups.  I don’t intend to guzzle coffee, so the cups I’ve bought will last a while, and I’ll only be replenishing my stock if any deals come my way.  But for those who drink on a daily basis, the cost of refills can get quite pricey, quite quickly.  Be warned, and watch your wallet.  😉

I do want to stress to Keurig users to please, please recycle your cups whenever possible.  The convenience of the machine does come with an environmental cost, so please do your part to minimise it.

All in all, I love my new machine.  Sometimes, even when you’re in a rush, you want to experience that European café experience.  Keurig 2.0 does that beautifully.

xoxo,

— Cathie

Panty by Post {A Review}…

I’ve mentioned Panty by Post before and shared a picture, but thought it was high time I did a proper review!  🙂

I heard of Panty by Post last year when I read the book My Little Paris.  The idea of having lingerie mailed to one’s doorstep seemed like a fun guilty pleasure, and I share founder Natalie Grunberg’s appreciation of the French passion for detail, quality and beauty in all things… even lingerie. I’ll be frank and say that at that point in time, that particular drawer of mine was quite sad, and I was eager to try new things –especially ones that come in pretty packets!  The excitement of getting something in the post as well as the promise to make the postman blush sealed the deal!  After my first mailing came, I truly fell in love and have been a faithful PBP customer since…

The details:  One panty is mailed monthly, and you can either buy singles, three packs, or subscribe for 3, 6, or 12 months.

Panty by Post - Cathie Maud
The new envelope –isn’t it like a love letter? ♥

What brands do they send along?  I’ve gotten Blush, Maaji, estivo, and Change.  They also carry Hanky Panky, (though I’ve not gotten one yet; I hope I do –it’s one of my favourite lingerie brands!) and JM for men.

Now for the July 2014 unveiling!

I think each customer gets a different panty, but I am not absolutely certain.  So here’s my personal selection: Panty by Post - July 2014 - Cathie MaudI love that their little gift(s) are always quality items, too.  Emi Jay is a particular favourite of mine and I have quite the collection of their hair ties.  This one makes the perfect spring/summer selection!  I do wish they would give out bonbons like they did a few months back.  Apparently, sweets are another guilty pleasure of mine!  😉

The panty is by Estivo, and is a nude, beribboned creation with lace detail –perfect for all those white and light-coloured summer dresses that we ladies love to sport in warmer weather!

In closing, I adore and recommend Panty by Post!  Not only will they make your postman blush, but they will most certainly add beauty and a certain je ne sais quois to your lingerie drawer.  I know I feel more French and fabulous when I open mine now!

xoxo,

Cathie

 

Summer Blues {An Essie Nail Polish Review}…

Quite a handful of weeks ago, Obsessed Look (thank you T!) asked me if I would be interested in reviewing two of the Essie nail polish colours from the Resort Fling 2014 collection.  Who would say no to seeing some pretty nail action, even if I’m truly terrible at applying a manicure to myself!  I enlisted the help of my big sister, who has prettier fingers than I’ve got and who also happens to wield the polish applicator like a wizard.  Without further ado, here are our thoughts on the matter.  🙂

First off, I picked the two blue shades, Find Me an Oasis and Under the Twilight.  The two are complementary shades of blue, and perfect to go with floating summer dresses or perhaps that dream seaside resort vacation?

Then we shook the bottles, and opened them.  We noticed it was a bit runnier than other polishes, and so we used the applicator to stir it up; not much change to report!  Sister had heard that this was usual for Essie (she tried their Ballet Slippers once) so we proceeded.  Essie’s formula is very thin so several coats are needed if you want a more opaque colour.  It also dries at a slower pace, and it was almost 10 minutes before my sister could type without using dainty movements.  😛
Essie Nail PolishAlso, because the polish was runnier, when we decided to spice things up with some chevron tips and buttons down the centre, it was very hard!  I think some scotch tape to keep the lines straight and catch the overflow would have worked well –if the base polish had already dried completely!  So please be kind with our attempts at nail art… we did the best we could.  🙂
Essie Polish - Summer BluesOur final thoughts?  Essie always has amazing, beautiful colours.  We do like the runny consistency because it means you can control the translucency/opaqueness of the colours.  However if you’re the type of girl who is on the go but still wants to have colourful nails with details, this may not be the bottle for you!  We think this would be perfect for a sleepover with girlfriends though, when you actually have time to sit, chat and let your nails dry thoroughly.

**Tips:  Perhaps you could try helping the drying process along with the aid of a fan, or ‘cheat’.  Use Essie for the base colour, and use a brand with a thicker consistency for the details.

ObsessedLook.com has other Essie collections (I like the 2013 Wedding Collection) and I am obssessed with the single bottles Peach Daiquiri and Leading Lady!  All Essie Polishes from ObsessedLook.com ship free within Canada, so if you are smitten with a few shades, I definitely recommend getting them!

We had so much fun trying them –you can’t beat some quality sister time!– and are still enjoying our pretty nails!

Jane Austen Pretties {A Sharing of, and Review}…

Hello!

It has been half an eon again since I last visited with tidings or something pretty to share, but here I am today to do just that.  🙂

I have been very busy with moving to Ottawa, settling in, and finding ways to make our new place a home.  I’ve learned how to install curtain rods and floating wood floors.  I’ve helped move a washing machine and dryer, picked curtains, furniture, a mattress… and last but not least, I’ll be helping to build a shed in the backyard.  All this accomplished in a pretty dress, of course.  😉

Anyway!  Whenever I have an hour to myself before bed, I can be found stoking and fanning the flames of my obsession with Jane Austen.  It all started when I was 15 and my mum told me that she was reading a book that was probably still too ‘mature’ for me.  Never one to back down from a challenge, (even if it isn’t one…) I snuck downstairs and read Pride and Prejudice in one sitting, falling in love in the process.  I’ve read all her books, even Mansfield Park, and am now brushing up on the movies.  There are a lot of versions, I tell you!  I’m trying to find the best of each to recommend to you!  ^_^

That being said, I also do a bit of fanciful trip planning to Bath and the Jane Austen Centre.  They do have an online gift shop, and it’s hard for me to resist as you can see here or if you search for Jane Austen on my blog… hehe.  I succumbed again recently, and indulged in a set of cookie cutters (Mr. Darcy and Jane Austen, which you can pretend is Elizabeth Bennett, to make a happy edible couple!), and a locket.
Jane Austen Centre Souvenirs - Cookie CuttersAren’t they splendid for making little afternoon tea sandwiches or cookies?!  I’m dying to use them once we’re all settled…  The metal is neither sturdy nor too flimsy, so be careful you don’t use a lot of force and bend them out of shape!
Jane Austen Centre Souvenirs - LocketThe locket is a beautiful little one and is made of sterling silver according to the description on the site.  It’s about the size of my little pinkie finger’s tip so be aware of that if you are in the market for something slightly larger.  I love how they personalise it with your name engraved and finish it off with a scroll detail.  (There are 3 details to choose from!)  I must mention that the locket was severely tarnished after two days’ wear –and no, I didn’t wear it while in the shower!  I’ve had other silver pieces, and none of them have tarnished after two days…  There is also what I fear to be a scratch caused by rubbing against the chain as I didn’t bump into anything at all.  This makes me wonder as to the quality of the silver, and the sturdiness of the locket.  The hinges have behaved exceptionally however, so that’s one good thing!  I’ll see if I can remove the tarnish with either toothpaste or baking soda and report back on the condition afterwards. I leave you with a picture of me wearing the locket for scaling purposes 🙂
Jane Austen Centre Souvenirs - Cathie Wearing Locket

Top:  LOFT linen shirred tee in Sailor Blue (2014)

Skort:  Ya Los Angeles ‘Darling’ bow skirted shorts (2013)

My overall impressions are that the cookie cutters are a must-have in the kitchen of any Austenite, and that the locket is a lovely piece, though a bit delicate and questionable in the quality of the silver.  Of course I would shop the Jane Austen Gift Shop again!  I have my eye on the ‘Litographs’ that they have brought in of Jane’s novels.  I only wish they had one of Catherine Morland from Northanger Abbey!
Pride & Prejudice - Litograph

 

Gentle reader, are you by any happy chance, a Jane Austen lover, too?

xoxo,

Cathie

A Very Girl-y (My) Perfume Collection + Reviews…

It’s said that perfume is a unique expression of personality, and of all the potions and elixirs in the beauty world, the realm of scent is my choice.  It is so much fun exploring the many different ways that notes can come together –I can, and have spent hours at the beauty counter, testing, dabbing and sniffing until my head reeled, and my nose stubbornly refused to cooperate any longer.

I decided that a post on my perfume collection (though small) was decidedly in order, and I hereby dedicate this to all other perfume mavens, as well as to the ladies at my local beauty counters for both their help and patience while I took my time choosing, as well as coming to the rescue with the coffee beans when I desperately needed it.

Nina by Nina Ricci [My first perfume, and thus I have a soft spot for it. 2008]

Nina had me at the bottle –I can’t resist its apple-shaped cuteness! I came across an ad for the perfume in 2006, while in the dentist’s waiting room, and it caught my fancy. Two years later, I had saved up enough to own a bottle, and immediately dubbed it my ‘signature’ scent.
With its fairytale mixture of floral-fruity notes, it’s bubbly and spontaneous. Starting off with a refreshing lemon and lime mixture at the top, it blooms into a blend of peony petals, moonflower, and vanilla-infused red toffee apple. It then finishes off with applewood and white cedar.
This is the only perfume where I can smell each and every note that is said to be in it, which makes me feel very much like a connoisseur of fragrances. (I wish!)

Because of the citrus notes, I think one can get away with wearing this perfume all year long (although in lighter doses during the summer!)… This perfume gives off a feeling of carefreeness and adventure. I think it would go well with a crisp little white dress, pretty ballet flats and wind-kissed hair.

Nina Fantasy

[Eau de toilette bought with my own pennies, March 2012]

Nina Fantasy is a springtime invitation to a sweet and delicate dream where fantasy meets reality. The top notes are bergamot, pear and mandarin essence. The heart notes are Bulgarian Rose, cherry blossom (love!!♥) and heliotrope. At the end, there is a delightful mixture of mate and brown sugar.
The perfume is as playful as the bottle. I think this is a very sparkly concoction, and while I would describe it as a candy-floral, it isn’t sickly sweet. (For reference, my skin and my nose seem to find Vera Wang ‘Princess’ sickly sweet.) Use this in the spring, when the days are still a little chilly. The brown sugar lends it warmth, which though delicate enough for the spring, is a bit too strong for the summer. This lovely scent reminds me of a walk in the woods when the wakening world is full of promise and joy.
I think silks and soft cashmere would pair well when wearing this.

Fleurs de Cerisier by L'Occitane

[March 2012.  Yes, I bought two perfumes in one month, shame on me!]

A fresh and floral fragrance that celebrates the beauty of the cherry blossoms during the first days of spring.

If I were to pick one flower to describe me, it would be the cherry blossom –all pink and cheery.  In my latest visit to L’Occitane, I immediately gravitated towards this bottle, and hoped that the scent would live up to my expectations!  (I find it absolutely horrid when a cherry blossom scent smells awful!)  It did not disappoint, and of all my fragrances, this is the lightest but it lasts the longest.  I am convinced there is some sort of fairy magic in this glass bottle of Parisian chic.  It is clean, and fresh, delicate and feminine, and I could never tire of wearing it.  In fact, I exercised ‘a lady’s right to change her mind’, and have made this my signature scent.  (Sorry, Nina!)  The label says the cherry blossom is ‘so rare and precious’, and it is exactly how I feel about this perfume.

This could be worn all year ’round, though I wonder if it might be too light during the winter months… I hope not!  I will post an update later this year.

Soft pink pastels and lacy, intricate clothes come to mind for this scent.  Keep it fresh with minimal fuss, and very delicate accessories –such as Swarovski crystals.

***

Although I am incredibly picky, I am always looking for new additions to my perfume collection… currently I have my eye on a few by Kenzo.  I can’t afford to splurge right now, but if I ever take the plunge… my dear readers shall be the first to know!  🙂

What’s your perfume collection like? Share yours with me in the comments section!

xoxo,

— Miss Cathie

P.S.  I hope you liked the photos in this post!  I challenged myself to use my iPhone to take the best pictures it and I possibly could.  With the help of a few special effects thanks to the MagicHour app (which I highly recommend!!) and Picasa, I managed to convey the prettiness of all the bottles involved.