Thursday, August 28, 2008

ModernGear Beauty: Shine on, sister

This is a confusing time of year for women - all the rules! No white after Labor Day. All the sales! But white pants are 50% off! To say nothing of make-up...fall calls for darker hues and more coverage but I just can't carry off bright red or dark burgundy lipstick very convincingly, and I am uncomfortable in layers of blush. So come fall, I end up trying but then feeling, and projecting, that I look like a 10-year-old wearing her mother's lipstick and cheek color.

Summer's sheers and shimmers are much more flattering to my pale complexion, and are infinitely easier to wear. The kids haven't gone back to school, there's still one more long weekend to come, and so these sparkly products shouldn't have to fade away just yet - and that's good because I'm just not ready to let go. The following were my go-to products for Summer '08, that I am still going to (and they can work for you brunettes and reds, too)...

If last summer was the year of Benefit Cosmetics High Beam ($24), a shimmery accent/complexion highlighter (which I still love),
then this is the year of Benefit Cosmetics Posietint ($28), which is pretty much what it says - a posie-coloured tint for cheeks and lips. It imparts a fresh, healthy tone and has been perfect for my lighter complexion, but I've also seen it work nicely on girlfriends with darker features.I've also been enjoying the $22 Smashbox O-Gloss Intuitive Lip Gloss. I bought it on a lark, because I thought the concept of a lip gloss with intuition sounded intriguing. Why decide between colors when it will do all the work for me?! I didn't think it would work or that I would like it - I actually bought it to try to debunk it for my dear readers but what do you know - I actually like the pink it brings out in my lips, very much...but I did decide to stay away from the Intuitive Cheek Color as it seemed to guess that the best color for my cheeks was, "Had Two Too Many Glass of Wine" pink...

I've also enjoyed the results of Prescriptives Illuminating Cream PotionTranslucent, $35.
The marketing information describes this product in pretty glowing terms: "The Magic: Instantly imparts an image of perfection." I don't know that I'd go quite that far, but I did enjoy how it seemed to hide imperfections nicely and even out my skin tone, with an overall brightening effect.

And the last in my arsenal of shine and shimmer products are Cargo EyeLighters.
Cargo EyeLighter White, $17
Cargo EyeLighter White

CARGO EyeLighter Pink, $17
Trust the smart people at Cargo to come up with a great product, and one I'll use for summers to come. You know that little tip of widening and brightening the eyes with white/bright at the corners and along the rims? This beauty - a double-ended highlighting pen - simplifies the process by not making you guess how to do it. One end of the EyeLighter is labeled Inner Corner and features a shimmering shadow , and the other, you guessed it, Outer Corner, with matte shadow. The product is dispensed automatically when you remove the cap from the EyeLighter pen, via a spring-loaded tip. No fuss, no muss.

That's also what I like about these products...use any one of them and people who haven't seen you for a while will notice a pretty, bright complexion and automatically assume think you've been summering in Monaco.
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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Moderngear Baby: The best bib you can get

Dr. Penelope Leach, psychologist and author of Your Baby and Child: From Birth to Age Five (Revised Edition), said that "Loving a baby is a circular business, a kind of feedback loop. The more you give the more you get and the more you get the more you feel like giving."

I think that almost the same thing can be said of feeding a baby, like, "Feeding a baby is a circular business, a kind of feedback loop. The more you give the more you get (on her shirt, your face, the wall, etc.)"...the second part of the quote is where this analogy sort of breaks down ("...and the more you get the more you feel like giving.")

Everyone likes to see a happy baby eat well, but for the mess. If it was just slightly easier to clean up, that would certainly help.

How about easier to clean up AND super stylish? It's almost too good to be true, but Mally Bibs fit the bill perfectly. Where to start...well, they're easy-to-clean, that's one feature that sets these adorable bibs apart from the others. Made of leather, they're good-as-new with a quick wipe-down or a run under the tap, so you don't have to throw the bib in the wash after every messy experience.
They're durable and won't fall apart after a few wearings and washings, reversible, and perhaps the best part is that they're comfortable for baby. The magnetic clasp at the neck is brilliant on three levels:

1. It won't get tangled in in baby's hair like velcro can.
2. The neck closing is adjustable.
3. The magnets mean you can hang the bib, when not in use, on your fridge door so you'll always know where it is when you need it.

This is one of the most brilliantly designed products I have ever discovered - one that I have known about since its inception a few years ago. All of Mally Bibs are now available in both baby and toddler size, and the only issue I would ever have is deciding on what design for the front! I guess you have to decide - is the baby you're buying this for a nature lover:

a flower child
a hipster
a guitar hero
a fireman
someone who eats his veggies
or a patriot?
Mally Bibs are a Canadian product, and can be found in stores across North American and into other parts of the world as well. Baby bibs are $32.95 and toddler bibs $38.95.

Go to to find out more about the company, and undertake the incredibly difficult task of deciding which one you'd like!
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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

ModernGear Food:Chocolate gets even better

Please sit down or hold on to something, because I am about to break some news. Chocolate has gotten better. I know - is improving on perfection even possible?

Imagine, if you will, something like, How chocolate. "But isn't all chocolate luxurious?", you ask. And no, my kitten, it isn't. Not if it's waxy, with impure ingredients and fillers. But you'll never know unless you taste the amazing alternative.

Enter stage right, Vosges Haute Chocolate.
It is for chocolate what haute couture (which is defined as fashionably elegant or high class fashion) is for clothing. This is chocolate that raises the bar so high that drugstore and gas station chocolate bars will never be able to reach it. Feast your eyes...
Ever the intrepid reporter, willing to sacrifice myself in the name of effective and authentic reportage, I dutifully dedicated myself and my partner-in-crime, one ModernGear TV Husband, to the chocolate tasting task.

We decided to test three Mini Exotic Candy bars so that we could pass on a full and complete review to our readers. The box directed us to "breathe...see, touch, smell, snap, bite, sense..." and that's exactly what we tried to do, even when instinct was telling us, "breathe...see, touch, smell, snarf down every last square and snort like a little piggy..."

We started out with the Barcelona Bar, deep chocolate with sea salt and roasted almonds.
On my notepad I wrote...
Hubby: Salty but good. (he's a man who doesn't mince his words)
Me: Salt and chocolate offer a nice juxtaposition.
Hubby: Do you know how to spell that?

Next we moved on to the interesting Macha Bar - deep milk chocolate with undertones of Japanese macha green tea. Hubby: I smell smoke.
Me: It's earthy.

We ended off the tasting extravaganza with Mo's Bacon Bar - deep milk chocolate with alder wood smoked salt, and applewood smoked bacon. Yes, you read that right, chocolate and bacon.
Hubby (after sniffing a piece): I don't like it. It smells like meat...and chocolate. (He still ate it though, so it can't have been all that offensive!)
Me: That might not be such a bad combo. (It was interesting, but I wouldn't necessarily have it again.)

The mini bars we tasted were .5 oz/15 grams for $2.50, and the larger bars are 3 oz/85 grams for $7.50. In addition to mind-blowing combinations, Vosges looks to specialize in presentation and packaging, and their Exotic Chocolate Bar Gifts would be perfect to give as a gift. The Exotic Candy Bar Box Set, $33, was featured in New York Magazine as "the perfect gift".
There are all sorts of fun gift sets like one for the yoga-lover and a Sensory Collection, and hang on to your hat - Vosges also has TRUFFLES, and TOFFEE AND CARAMEL! I dared not start trying those...

If you're at all environmentally-minded, you'll also be happy to note that Vosges has an impressive commitment to being green. Their facility and production processes have been approved as an organic manufacturing facility, their chocolate is produced using 100% renewable energy, and they have all sorts of improvements and changes in a far range from their offices to the packaging.

I got our tasters at Whole Foods - check for Vosges Chocolates at fine food stores and boutiques, or check their stores list for locations near you.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Moderngear Home: Bring a little excitement into your bedroom

Things getting a little boring in the old bedroom? Feeling a bit shabby and worn out? Time to really spice things up? Yup, I understand completely. It's time for new linens.

Whether you're looking to update your decor or you're getting ready to deck out a dorm room for yourself or for your kids (hey, readers of all ages are welcome here!), there are so many fun and inexpensive sheet sets, duvet covers and pillow cases available these days that now you can really start to have some fun in your bedroom.

I personally have been known to be all about the thread count when we're talking bed linens but I can consider changing my sheet snob status and admit that there's a possibility that like age, it's really nothing but a number. There's much more to picking a good sheet set than thread count, and fun coloured, or patterned sheets are an inexpensive way to update and add a touch of humour to your sure to slightly turn down the quilt, duvet or comforter on top to showcase the pattern. Here are some of my favourites, starting off with a tattoo-inspired set from Sin In Linen. LOVE the print!

The above Flash Ivory Queen sheet set is $119.99, duvet cover $120, and two standard pillowcases $29. I also really like the pin-up girl Joie de Viv print - Queen fitted sheet $45, flat sheet $40.

The Goa Sheet Set at Anthropologie (Plenty Home by Tracy Reese) is very Missoni-for-the-bed, $168 for a King-sized set.
And I am itching to try out Eileen Fisher's Washed Linen Bedding collection from Garnet Hill. I don't think there would be much better than sleeping on real, soft-to-the-touch linen.
Fitted sheet in Queen $145
Flat sheet in Queen $145
Pair of standard pillowcases $75

Even if you're happy with your sheet set, an easy way to spruce up where you sleep is with a new patterned duvet or comforter cover. You'd want to be sure to get either a complementary pattern to go with your sheets, or opt for plain sheets lest your ensemble get too busy.

I am really attracted to some of the wonderful prints in the linens at Anthropologie, like this Alhambra Quilt in berry, $198 for Queen size, and $58 for a euro-sized sham.
The Antique Chic Comforter Cover from would be a great statement piece in a bedroom - $68 for a Queen-sized.
I also really like their Victorian Comforter Cover, $68 for Queen-sized.
And IKEA duvet covers are a great and inexpensive way to add a little zest. At these prices you could have two and rotate them regularly. Come to think of it, this would be a great solution to the "Shoot, I forgot to put the duvet cover in the dryer" discovery I regularly make at 10pm on laundry day!
Alvine Skon $49.99
quilt cover and two pillowcases (full/queen)

Hedda Lov $49.99
quilt cover and two pillowcases (full/queen)
I'm also pretty partial to a classic hotel-look duvet, like this White and chocolate hotel comforter cover for $129.99.
And finally from Dwell Studio, my favourite of favourites, the whimsical Chinoiserie print. I covet this cover. When I dream at night, I dream I'm sleeping under it. $253 full/queen

You can find great new sheets at all sorts of stores with all sorts of price ranges, from Target and Walmart to Holt Renfrew, The Bay, Horchow and Neiman Marcus. The only suggestion I would make is that you're much better off with cotton for breathability and comfort throughout the night - I've never found polyester comfortable enough to give a good night's sleep.

Sweet dreams!
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