Dinner SOS!

Roasting is a delicious way to enjoy a warm, comforting meal without spending too much time prepping or cleaning up. Just throw everything together in one pan, put it in the oven, and go!

Roasted Lamb Shoulder with Lemoney Greek Potatoes is always a crowd pleaser in our house. The only problem with this dish : there never seems to be enough potatoes! Crispy and roasted on the outside, tender on the inside and packed with lemon. These potatoes will help you cope with the long, Toronto winter. I promise.

Making The Perfect Chocolate Cupcake

For years I have scoured cookbooks, the internet, folklore and everywhere in between in search of the perfect chocolate cake base. Something light, fluffy, moist and dangerously chocolatey.

One day, I was in my usual Mad Scientist mood and created the most incredible dark chocolate cake that I had ever tried.

Intensely dark, ultra moist and a soft crumb. This was the perfect chocolate cupcake.

Now, I am sharing my secret catering recipe with you.

Enjoy.

Leave your caramel sauce in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving. It will set up giving you a smooth, rich, dense topping that can be spooned on top of your cupcakes. Try this as a cake filling, as well!

 

Hydration Therapy

f0d70aaf41828df7e7334375dad51cdc3d1578163c6cc961c490f9adc0cb5d71January can be one of the most depressing (and drying!) months. The once beautiful sunny sky takes on a permanent grey hue, the wind chill manages to cut through even the warmest winter layers, and you have to look at your scaly lizard hands day after day. If the lack of Vitamin D has not changed your mood, suffering from dry, itchy skin will quickly put you down.

It is important to take preventative action to help avoid winter dryness altogether! Here are my three steps to keep your hair, skin, and nails healthy all season long!

  1. TREAT DRYNESS FROM THE INSIDE OUT: NUTRITION!
    • Incorporate lots of healthy fats into your diet and you will see the difference in your hair and skin. Olive oil and avocado oil are rich in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants (substances that prevent or delay cell damage – read: keep you looking and feeling young!), while coconut oil is rich in saturated fats (specifically Medium Chain Triglycerides) and is quickly metabolized by the liver where it is used for energy.
    • Coconut Oil is a healthy, all natural product that can be used to nourish your body from the inside out.

      Coconut Oil is a healthy, all natural product that can be used to nourish your body from the inside out.

    • On the inside, the presence of healthy oils in your diet helps with energy expenditure, and burning fat by making you feel fuller for longer.
    • On the outside, healthy oils increase the moisture and lipid content of skin and hair to protect against damage. Over time, you will notice your skin texture become more smooth and hydrated, hair will become stronger and shinier, and nails may become stronger and healthier looking.
    • Other healthy oils to try – flax seed oil, omega three or fish oil (available as a supplement), hemp oil, hazelnut oil, grape seed oil, almond oil… Take a walk through your local health food store to discover more healthy and delicious oils to incorporate into your diet! Different oils have different flavours and uses in the kitchen, so go ahead and experiment!
    • Vitamin E is an excellent supplement that promotes skin healing.

      Vitamin E is an excellent supplement that promotes skin healing.

    • Pro tip: Vitamin E is a great supplement to add to your daily regimen. It promotes skin healing and can be applied to scars topically, ingested orally, or both. I have used it for years to help heal scars for acne, stitches, and cuts. Vitamin E is a light oil that absorbs quickly into the skin so it can be applied heavily as an evening reparative “mask,” or lightly for day time on problem areas. Note: it does not cure acne, but it helps heal scars that blemishes leave behind.
    • Pro tip: Vitamin D is another great supplement during long, dark, and cold winter months. A synthetic version of the vitamin synthesized in our skin by sunlight, Vitamin D helps restore wakefulness, eliminate the “winter blues,” promote bone health, and fight infection.

2. EXFOLIATE!

  • Exfoliating your skin should be done all year round – in the summer time it helps remove dry skin and increases the longevity of summer tans, and in the winter it slowly sloughs off dead skin that can feel itchy, uncomfortable, and tight.
  • Clinique Sparkle Skin Body Exfoliator buffs away dry skin for all skin types.

    Clinique Sparkle Skin Body Exfoliator buffs away dry skin for all skin types (Sephora.com).

    Exfoliating can be done with mildly abrasive compounds – some products contain items like ground fruit kernels or sugar – or liquid astringents like apple cider vinegar. When trying a new exfoliating product, natural or otherwise, test the product on a small patch of skin to make sure you do not have a reaction.

  • Choose the strength of the product based on the skin you are exfoliating. For instance: use the mildest exfoliator on your face (for very sensitive skin, try a gentle cleanser on a soft wash cloth and gently buff skin in circular motions). A more substantial exfoliator can be used for your body, and the strongest can be used on elbows, knees, palms and feet. It is important not to exfoliate too frequently – either once a day or once every two days is more than enough. Excessive exfoliation may cause redness, further dryness, and excessive oil production that may bring acne.

3. NOURISH YOUR SKIN

  • Once you have removed all your dry skin, lock in moisture with a thick application of moisturizer or body oil.
  • If you are looking for an extra thick moisturizer, try slathering on some coconut oil. It smells great, absorbs quickly, and is 100% all natural. What could be better? Depending on your skin type, coconut oil may even work as an evening facial moisturizer (it has the same pH as our skin and typically does not cause breakouts).

With these three simple steps – adding healthy, rich oils to your diet, exfoliating dry skin, and nourishing your body – you will never have to deal with dry winter skin again!

Do you have any tried and true remedies to winter dryness or products that you cannot live without? Tell us about them!

Bold for the Holidays

Keep your holiday makeup simple with big brows and bold lips.

Keep your holiday makeup simple with big brows and bold lips.

My favourite Holiday makeup style is simple and fuss-free, but makes a bold statement. Focus on Bold Brows and Lips for a simple Holiday look that will take you from morning to night.

Get the Look:

  • Bold brows
  • Bright lipstick
  • Natural Face: Concealer, Powder, Mascara, Blush
  1. FACE The focal points are larger than life brows and bright, bold lips. The look is quite dramatic, so keep the rest of your face neutral. Hide dark circles and blemishes with an easily blendable concealer, setting with translucent powder for extra staying power. Apply black mascara and a nude blush to for a “no makeup makeup look.”
    • My all-time favourite concealer is NARS Creamy Radiant Concealer. A small dab goes a long way with this product.
    • PRO TIP: pat the colour onto your skin using your fourth finger. The warmth will help distribute the product and your finger can cover hard to reach spots.
    • Try using a matte blush without shimmer. Matted out skin looks very modern, especially when paired with a matte lip. Try Lancome Blush Subtil for a natural, sheer wash of matte colour.
    •  

      Lancome Blush Subtil provides sheer, buildable, natural looking colour.

      Lancome Blush Subtil provides sheer, buildable, natural looking colour.

  2. BROWS When building your makeup colour collection, start with products with multiple uses. Use neutral, matte eyeshadows that can be used for eye brows, crease shadow, eye liner, and even contouring.
    • I prefer to use shadows instead of pencils to fill in brows. It gives a more natural feathered look that mimics hair more than pencil, which can sometimes look harsh. Use an angled brush for precise application.
    • Similar to “overdrawing” lips for a more full effect, follow along with the natural size and shape of your brows. Again, this is to maintain a more natural look. If you are in the process of growing out your brows, lightly filling in sparse areas with shadow can ease the transition.
    • Choosing a colour for your brows depends on the type of look you prefer, and how much space you are trying to fill in. I use a charcoal brown shade that lightly fills spaces which, for my already dense brows, looks more natural. If I use a chestnut shade that is closer to my hair colour, I find my brows look too dark and dramatic.
    • I typically use a slightly darker shade for blondes and fair haired clients to help define their brows, and a slightly lighter shade for people with dark brown or chestnut brows. If I am building out their brows, however, the colour should more closely match their brows. It is important to play with your brows to find a look that suits you. The colour and shape of your eyebrows will frame your face, so practice and take your time.
    • One of the best palette’s for experimenting is Becca’s Ombre Nudes Eye Palette. There is also a separate palette with red undertones. These shadows allow you to play with different looks and stay in place all day.
    • PRO TIP: after filling in brows with shadow, pencil, or wax, always brush hair in the direction of hair growth (up, and to the side). This will give brows a more natural appearance. If you do not have an eyebrow comb, use a clean, dry toothbrush.
    • Becca's Ombre Nudes Eye Palette is the perfect start to any colour collection.

      Becca’s Ombre Nudes Eye Palette is the perfect start to any colour collection.

       

       

  3. LIPS Preparing your lips is the most important part of bold lip colours. Always remember to exfoliate + moisturize, and prime for the perfect pout.
    • Exfoliating + moisturizing should be done regularly – at least 3 to 4 times per week – especially in cooler temperatures. Incorporate lip care into something you already do for grooming or personal hygiene. For instance, every time I brush my teeth, I take a few seconds at the end to lightly brush my lips with my toothbrush. Afterwards, I apply a thick coat of Rosebud Salve. By caring for my lips a little bit everyday, I no longer have problems with extremely dry lips from the changing seasons.
    •  Priming your lips is important for the longevity of the lipstick and will keep colour in place.
      • A lip pencil is one way to prime lips: Using a nude colour, or for more vivid colours, a lip pencil that closely matches your lipstick, carefully line and fill lips before applying a coat of lipstick.

        Sephora Collection  Universal Lip Liner is a clear pencil applied outside the lips. It creates a barrier that keeps lipstick in place without feathering or migrating.

        Sephora Collection Universal Lip Liner is a clear pencil applied outside the lips. It creates a barrier that keeps lipstick in place without feathering or migrating.

      • My preferred lip liner is a multipurpose clear liner that can be worn with any colour of lipstick. The Sephora Collection Universal Lip Liner is applied just outside the natural contour of the lips and prevents the colour from migrating. It maintain a sharp line around lips, even with the darkest shades of lipstick.
    • Be precise when applying bright lipstick colours. Use a lip brush to achieve clean, sharp lines with your bold lip colours. Apply thin coats of lipstick until the colour becomes just opaque.
    • PRO TIP: use your finger nail or a cotton swab to clean lipstick smudges. A clean lip brush with concealer can help clean up messy edges.
    • PRO TIP: bright, matte lips is a great modern look. Skip the gloss, and find a matte or satin finished lipstick. Using less product will also help keep lipstick in place, without smudging.

Keep your makeup simple this holiday. Bold Brows and Lips can take you from morning to night with nothing more than powder and lipstick touch ups in between.

What look will you be sporting this Holiday season?

 

Review: Drybar Hair Dryer

I launched my YouTube channel a few weeks ago with an “unwrapping” video of Drybar’s “Peace on Earth Good Hair to All!” hair dryer kit. The kit was definitely a splurge, but I was hoping it would perform better than my ancient Conair dryer.

I have a lot of fine, long hair, and if I do not blow dry it completely  during the colder months, it either looks flat immediately or gives me a headache (neither of which is a good option).

Unfortunately, the Drybar Buttercup Hair Dryer did not seem much better than my ancient dryer. Although the dryer was light, had a good grip in hand, and was a little quieter than what I am used to, it did not seem to make much difference with drying time.

The kit included two products – Hot Toddy heat protectant and Triple Sec styling spray. Hot Toddy seemed fine – like any other heat protectant, and I did not notice a difference with the Triple Sec. If anything, it made my hair stick together in sections – giving a messier second day look to freshly blow dried hair – and made my blow out look slightly unkempt.

The large hair clips included with the set had many pieces on them that caught on my long, straight hair, and required extra time to untangle.

I actually liked the Drybar Round Brush more than expected. I remember buying a wooden round brush more than a decade ago to replicate a voluminous salon blow out. In real life, however, there is rarely time to do a full blow out and using a round brush on hair that is longer than shoulder length takes too much time and effort. It has sat in my drawer ever since.

The quality of the plastic bristles on the Drybar Round Brush seemed quite cheap, but it actually pulled through the hair nicely. Like the dryer, it had a good grip and felt lightweight in hand. The bristles held the hair well, in my opinion, and seemed to allow good tension for drying. The difficulty, however, is blow drying longer hair with a round brush. I have always had this problem, so perhaps it is an issue with technique, but it was not practical for me. I usually prefer to blow dry my hair upside down, starting at the roots, and then dry it with a large paddle brush – flattening pieces between the brush and the dryer.

In the end, the kit had some good things – the feeling and weight of the dryer, the length of the cord, the large barrel round brush for those who know how to use one, and the Hot Toddy heat protectant cream. Those benefits were not enough to justify the price of the kit, especially since drying time was roughly the same as my older hair dryer.

I sadly returned the Drybar kit and am still on the lookout for a better hair dryer. Do you have any recommendations for me?

 

Holiday Gifts from Better than Yia Yia’s

HUGE thank you to better than yia yia’s for the beautiful (and delicious!) Gingerbread Cookies and Baklava. I have been gifting plates to clients and friends this past week and the reaction has been tremendous.

So good. So addictive. So festive!

The baklava is flaky and nutty, with the subtle sweetness of honey. It is not too sweet or dripping in syrup like most Greek pastries from the store. Large pieces of almonds, walnuts, and pistachios are wrapped in the delicate spice of cinnamon, complimented by the buttery pastry. I challenge you to limit yourself to one piece.

The Gingerbread Friends are the perfect type of gingerbread cookie – soft and chewy, and filled with festive holiday spices, they taste just like the holidays. Again, they are not too sweet and have a perfect texture. Almost like a cookie mixed with a cake – dense with a good chew. For the gingerbread lovers on your list, there is nothing better.

Check out better than yia yia’s website and their holiday menu here. Best of all, you can make any of their sweets into a beautiful gift platter! Beautifully wrapped and even topped with a bow.

Better than Yia Yia's Festive Gingerbread Friends are even better to eat than to admire. Soft, chewy, and full of holiday spice, they are a must for everyone on your list!

Join Me on YouTube

After years of wanting to start a YouTube channel, I finally found the confidence to do so.

The channel will showcase everything to make your days a little more glamorous. Look forward to product reviews, tips and tricks, and expert makeup applications.

Is there a look that you want to learn or a product that you would like to see on the channel?

Holiday Cheer and Festive Deals

Red cups are out, which means that the Holidays – and Sephora’s infamous promotions – are right around the corner.

Every year, Sephora offers limited edition goodies with special holiday packaging, value bundles,   collaborations, and even custom colours just for the holidays. For those obsessed with beauty  products, narrowing down your wish list to a reasonable amount can be nearly impossible.

Fortunately/Unfortunately, Sephora sends holiday promotions to BI’s (normal shoppers), VIB’s (spending $350 in a calendar year – a little crazy about cosmetics), and VIB Rouge members (spending $1000 in a calendar year – those beyond obsessed and virtually pore-less).

VIB Rouge members have a head start on their holiday shopping with 20% off from November 6 – 9, and have already scooped up some amazing products.

The Drybar Tress Press Digital Styling Iron ($189) has sold out, as has the Bite Beauty Discovery Set ($60 for three full sized lip products, three minis, five makeup wipes, and a mirror…what?!).

 

Drybar Tress Press available at Sephora ($189).

Drybar Tress Press available at Sephora ($189).

Bite Beauty Discovery Set exclusively available at Sephora ($59).

Bite Beauty Discovery Set exclusively available at Sephora ($59).

There are still plenty of beautiful gifts and indulgences available. Among my favourites are the drink-inspired limited edition, online only lipstick shades by Bite Beauty. Bite quickly became one of my favourite brands with their commitment to natural ingredients, unapologetically rich pigments, and moisturizing formulas.

Bite Luminous Creme Lipsticks in Limited Edition Shades: Kir Royale, Mimosa and Bellini on Sephora.com ($28 each).

Bite Luminous Creme Lipsticks in Limited Edition Shades: Kir Royale, Mimosa and Bellini on Sephora.com ($28 each).

Nothing gets you into the Holiday spirit more than holding a red cup while shopping…even if you are shopping for yourself…online…in your pyjamas.

What is on your wish list?

Beauty from the Inside: Meet Clean Workout

I am excited to announce a new partnership with the incredibly talented Clean Workout Personal Training group.

Led by my brother Justin, Clean Workout trainers create unique training circuits in your home that will strengthen, lengthen and tone your muscles. They combine interval training, strength training and yoga for an unparalleled workout.

To get you ready for your wedding, we are offering a 10% discount on makeup services and personal training packages when bundled together.

Please contact myself or Justin at Clean Workout for any questions and to book your appointments.

Deanna: 416.543.7885 | deanna.dickins@me.com

Justin: 416.844.7885 | justindickins@gmail.com

Clean Workout Website

 

C’est L’Halloween

Halloween is around the corner! Your costume is ready, your plans are made, but what about your makeup? Makeup is the finishing touch to transform you into a gruesome ghoul or the prettiest princess.

Book your Halloween makeup now!

Below is a little nostalgic tune to get you into the spirit… Hey!

C’est L’Halloween

C'est L'Halloween - time to party like it's 1995

C’est L’Halloween – time to party like it’s 1995

Shop Local

No matter where I am, I try to support local businesses as much as possible.  To celebrate these budding entrepreneurs, I have added a new menu to deannadickins.com highlighting some of my favourite hidden gems. Here are my go-to local businesses for Food, Fitness, and Art in Toronto.

Whether you are looking for a caterer to transport you to the Mediterranean, an on-location personal trainer to help you work off the baklava, or some custom artwork to liven up your home, these local business owners will help you. They have my personal guarantee since they are my mom, Joanne, and brother, Justin.

Food and Art: Joanne Dickins, better than yia yia’s

Exploring the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles.

Exploring the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles with my mom/tour guide/personal chef, Joanne.

A trained artist, Joanne is best known for her large acrylic paintings, and her 25 year career as a makeup artist and teacher for film and television. Her cooking style is richly influenced by her Greek heritage and includes modern interpretations of classic dishes and flavours. Whether you are in the mood for a feast for the eyes, or a feast for your belly, she can help!

Check out Joanne’s plethora of Greek goodies and canvas works on her website (http://betterthanyiayias.com) and items for purchase on Etsy.com (https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/JosGalleryandCafe).

Fitness: Justin Dickins, Clean Workout

With my trainer, Justin, and Mud Hero race partner.

With my trainer, Justin, and Mud Hero race partner.

After indulging in Joanne’s delicious baked goods, Justin will give you a workout to remember. With a background in Kinesiology, he is a CanFit Pro certified personal trainer with additional certifications in Yoga and Zumba fitness.

His workouts include everything from high intensity interval training, yoga, strength training and cardio, and are customized for clients of all ages and fitness levels. Justin spends a lot of time doing restorative therapy exercises with clients suffering from chronic pain and illnesses, and is always researching more ways to improve their quality of life.

Available for individual and group training sessions. More information available at http://cleanworkout.com