Nicole’s Favourite Things: August 2018

The thing about writing an old-school blog for ten years (TEN YEARS, PEOPLE) is that I receive a lot of pitches from people who have clearly never read my blog. This is to be expected; PR people aren’t exactly scouring through archives to find the perfect fit for a perfect product – who has the time for that? Their job is just to Hail Mary emails, and hope someone catches it. Despite never having done a sponsored or guest post on this blog, I receive pitches for both every day, and usually they are so ridiculous that I do not even respond. However, a pitch I received a few weeks ago was something beyond ridiculous.

Hello, Nicole, it started, We would love for you to do a product review or giveaway on your website!

The product in question was a kit that would help me conceive sooner. This kit, the pitch said, is an all-in-one, natural, proven solution for mommies-to-be conceive sooner and easier than ever before! 

I would also receive bonus gifts: 20 early results pregnancy tests and 20 one-step ovulation steps.

Jesus, take the wheel.

I was more surprised to get that pitch than I was when someone asked if I’d like to try their new brand of beef jerky. I’m sure that PR person is just trying to do her job, and who knows, maybe she thought I had a Sarah and Abraham situation going here, rather than a trying-to-multiply-loaves-for-my-ever-hungry-teenagers.

On that note…it’s time for Nicole’s Favourite Things! As always, I have received nothing for free and I’m certainly not being paid for this; anything I write about is just something I love and I want to share with you.

Nicole’s Favourite Things – August

This Sweater

The end of August is, most definitely, fall. In fact, all of August feels a little bit that way to me; I can feel a tiny chill in the air on warm days, and I definitely feel cold in the mornings. By now I have taken my boots out of the closet and am starting to layer my clothes yet again.

I bought this sweater years ago – maybe five or six years ago? – from Lululemon and I do not wear it very often because a) it’s cream, and b) those adorable drapey bits really get in the way of day-to-day life. However, it’s perfect for a chilly morning at the zoo, which is where this photo was taken. It layers nicely, but is very light, so I only wear it in not-yet-winter months. Years ago I wore this to the playground for school pickup, but I was wearing a coat over top. A friend came up to me to quietly whisper that I had toilet paper hanging out of my pants, which ended the era of wearing this sweater underneath a coat. In any case, I love it but wear it seldom, because there are very few months in Calgary that I do not wear a coat.


Why, why, why has no one ever told me about primer? I was in Shopper’s the other day buying some of my favourite Smashbox BB Cream, because there was a special PC Optimum points bonus on beauty products and let me tell you, I couldn’t pass it up. The salesgirl gave me a sample of Smashbox Primer, and after some lengthy discussion with her – what is primer, why would I use it? – I bought some to try. See also: PC Optimum bonus points.

I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that it was a revelation. It’s a whole new world, people.

So here’s the thing: primer is used to “smooth and blur” but also to help your makeup last longer. Now, I don’t know how “smooth and blurred” I am – it’s not like I’m walking around in soft-focus like Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca, or even just an Instagram filter – but I can tell you that it does help makeup last. I put it to the test last week when I took the kids and their friends to the local amusement park. Five hours outside in the smoky sunshine? With an extra layer of sunscreen? Here’s the before, completely unfiltered, taken just after applying makeup, at about 8:00 am:

And here’s the after, taken at about 3:00 pm.

Frankly, that’s pretty amazing. I usually retouch my makeup a couple of times a day, but for the sake of an honest review I did not, and I also don’t think I really had to.


I get pedicures once or twice a year, and the place I go to uses SpaRitual polish. I’ve been purchasing the Soulful colour for my toes for years; I do my own pedicures normally, going to the spa is a treat I save for Mother’s Day, and maybe just before a beach vacation. I like to have my feet looking nice because they are on display daily. I’m sure no one is really looking at my feet when I teach, but I liken it to wearing nice underwear; no one else might know, but I do.

I don’t know why I’ve been buying the fancy polish for my toes and substandard drugstore polish for my fingernails, but here we are. A few weeks ago it occurred to me that the SpaRitual polish lasts forever, barely chips, and looks great, so why do I only use it for pedicures? Particularly when I have trouble finding the perfect polish in a drugstore? When I was at the spa for a wax, I had a long and detailed conversation with the esthetician about my fingernails and their propensity for chipping, peeling, and splitting. I ended up buying SpaRitual in Idyllic, which I thought was a nice complement to Soulful, along with the special top coat. It is, in my mind, the perfect neutral polish, which is something I legitimately search for and spend time thinking about.

Ignoring my bony, old-lady hands, don’t my nails look nice? I was a serial nail biter until I was about 23 and had my first professional job. The secret, for me, to keep from biting my nails is to always have a nice polish on them. SpaRitual is longer-lasting than most polishes, plus it’s vegan!

Special shout-out to my friend Amy and her beautiful mala bracelets. Check out her Etsy shop!


Save me your speeches about zoos, I took the kids to see the pandas at the zoo and you guys, look:


If there is anything cuter than a big fat panda, I do not know what is. Oh, wait.

Who’s a good doggy?


  1. I too was a serial nail biter for decades (as was my husband; our daughter, whose nails are already bitten to the quick [shudder] has no hope, does she?) and to this day I cannot keep polish on my nails. I think I replaced nail biting with “pick all the nail polish off your nails” and that habit lingers. So I covet your lovely nail polish and the toenail polish, too.

    The bit about the toilet paper hanging out of your coat has me giggling. Poor misunderstood sweater!

  2. We’re still in the hot and miserably sticky part of summer here, but I know from experience that relief is (at most) two weeks away. That helps. I even turned the A/C off today not because it’s a temperature at which reasonable people do that, but because we are misers.

    I’ve never once had a pitch like that, so I guess they’re paying just enough attention to know which blogs review products and which don’t.

  3. Favorite part: “It is, in my mind, the perfect neutral polish, which is something I legitimately search for and spend time thinking about.”

  4. Sandra Bell says

    Nicole I just loved reading this. 🙂 MacKenzie had just told me about the primer the other day so now with your recommendations I am off to get some.
    Thanks my friend.

  5. I had seen primer but thought nothing of it because I had no idea what it did and frankly couldn’t see adding another step to my morning getting presentable for work routine but now that I’ve seen your pics I’m going to get some. My makeup is mostly a lost cause by 2-3 pm and yet I work until 5 and take kids to various sports where I socialize about three nights a week with other adults until 6:30 – this primer thing sounds like just what I need!

  6. That sweater is heart-achingly beautiful on you. I won’t even be able to wear sleeves until the end of September, and I am envious. I get the twice-a-year pedicure too, but I can’t wear any polish on my fingernails – it makes me feel like they’re suffocating. I have some primer, but I’ve never used it. Sigh.

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