Archive for November, 2013

There was a look posted on the QC Facebook page that featured a cut crease and an angled lower liner. I decided to recreate my own version of the eye using different colors to create a softer look. Here is the finished look…

Get the look! By MUA Brittany Hall

Follow along with this step by step tutorial:

Create a stunning cut crease and angled liner look

Step 1 – Start with a clean, primed eyelid. Apply a pink/gold shadow all over the lid.

Step 2 – Blend a dark brown shadow into the outer corner, softening into the crease.

Step 3 – Take a smaller tapered brush and drag the dark brown shadow in a fine line along your natural crease. Soften and blend up towards to brow. This is called a cut crease technique. What we have created today is a soft cut crease. To make your cut crease more pronounced draw a very dark distinct line through the crease with a smaller brush.

Step 4 – Deepen the outer corner by blending in a black shadow into the very outer edge.

Step 5 – Take a makeup wipe and carve a sharp, defined line out of the shadow.

Step 6 – Apply liquid liner to the upper lash line. Take a fine point liner brush and create a mirrored reflection of the liner on the upper lash line. Soften and blend down.

Step 7 – Take a white liquid liner and accentuate the two winged lines you have created by applying it between them, using outward strokes.

Step 8 – Apply mascara and lashes and there you have it!

Since I used a pinky gold shadow as my base I chose to finish the look with a soft pink lip and cheek. When wearing such a bold statement eye, you don’t want it to get lost among bright brush and a dark lip. I chose to make my eyes the focus by playing down the rest of my features. I highlighted my face using something with a gold undertone to complement the eye!

This dramatic look is still subtle

Hope this helped you guys out and you were able to recreate this look yourself!

Makeup Artist Brittany HallWritten by Brittany Hall
Makeup by Brittany
Visit Brittany on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest

Brittany Hall has established herself as a freelance makeup artist, with over five years experience in the industry. She’s also an established blogger – on “Makeup by Brittany”, she blogs about fashion, beauty, home decor, and makeup. She brings her flair to the QC blog with regular posts about her experience in the beauty biz.

November 28, 2013 12:00 am

Adventures in Southeast Asia

From bungee jumping into water to snorkeling among coral reefs, Southeast Asia has plenty to offer in the way of adventure.


Visiting the Islands of Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Ha Long is an incredible bay in northern Vietnam. The area is considered a natural wonder of the world and is made up of 1,969 individual islands. While some of the islands are inhabited by people others are free of human life. Tours between the various land masses of the archipelago are available in the area, allowing visitors to see this unique collection of islands on a boat cruise. Also available are cave visits and kayaking.


Bungee Jumping in Chiang Mai, Thailand

The city of Chiang Mai, in the north of Thailand, owes its historical significance to its location close to several major trade routes along the Ping river. Today, however, tourism is the region’s main business, with almost 2 million foreign holidaymakers a year visiting the area. One of the main attractions in Chiang Mai is the 50 metre high bungee jump. Surrounded by jungle, the vantage point from the jump offers visitors a very pleasant view, before they hurtle towards the ground from the purpose built platform. If the bungee jump alone is not exciting enough, a specially extended rope allows jumpers to plunge into the pond below.


Tubing in Vang Vieng, Laos

One of the most popular activities in the tourist hot spot of Vang Vieng, Laos, is tubing. Rumours, however, abound that the activity is no longer available in the area. These reports surfaced after a government crackdown following safety concerns, which resulted in the removal of the many of the more dangerous courses, but the activity remains prevalent, although drinking alcohol while participating is no longer permitted. Tubing generally involves careening around the Nam Song river in a tractor tire inner tube. For those not too keen on taking on the rapids, diving and swings are also available.

Scooter Hire (across the region)

Such is the devil may care attitude across Southeast Asia, even everyday activities can turn into an adventure. This is true with scooter hire. Hotels and travel agencies often have the vehicles available for rent and charge around $5 for 24 hours riding, with a little extra for optional insurance. A passport is normally request as a deposit, so it is important to make sure the venue is reputable. Once the red tape is out of the way, customers are free to enjoy their scooters out on the open road, as well as those less open routes in the inner cities.

Snorkelling in Krabi, Thailand

Krabi, on the west coast of southern Thailand, is home to picturesque beaches with areas of coral reef, underwater cave formations and marine life including leopard sharks, turtles and dolphins. There are plenty of companies in the area that offer the chance to swim amongst these natural features, with snorkeling and scuba diving available. For those completely unfamiliar with either activity, there are diving schools located near to the coast.

Andreas Ambarchian is a freelance journalist from England. He writes about a variety of subjects including travel, wildlife and sport. He wrote this article on behalf of Tucan Travel, specialists in adventure tours all over Southeast Asia.


November 25, 2013 9:58 am

10 Great Apps to Stay Organized

So many students struggle with organizing the work, study, and assignments that they have to do. Fortunately, the world of apps is here to help. There are all sorts of fantastic apps that work wonderfully for those completing assignments, studying, or doing exams. We’re going to take a look at some of the best ones out there to help you stay organized when studying online.

Apps to stay organized

1. Remember the Milk

The perfect app for those with a forgetful streak, and one that gets better and better. Remember the Milk is essentially an electronic to-do-list where you can write down important tasks and note dates and info without losing them. Clear, concise, and easy to use, it’s a real winner for students.

2. iHomework

Another fantastic app for those assignments, iHomework allows you to keep track of assignments and exams like many other apps, with the added bonus of tracking your grades. In addition, extracurricular activities can be added too and it’s easy to track hobbies and sports on the app.

3. Self-Control

Another great app for study as it allows you to block websites from your computer for a period of time. This means you can’t check your social networks or access the newspaper when you’re studying, easing distraction and making you more focused.

4. Maths Alarm Clock

This one is for sleepy students who have the great intention of getting up early to study, but never do. Instead of hitting snooze to turn it off, the app requires you to answer a problem on-screen before you can turn it off. It’s a great one for sleepy heads and one that also gets your mind working faster.

5. Oxford Dictionary

A free dictionary from the people who brought you that super thick book. It’s a great addition for all students no matter what you study and does exactly as it says on the tin.

6. DropBox

Probably the best of all the cloud document folders online, DropBox allows you to upload all your documents to one place. It’s easy to use, extremely useful for keeping your notes in one place and accessing them from anywhere, and it works with almost all devices we here at Uni Baggage can think of.

7. Sworkit

When doing exams, or stuck inside online for a long day, things can be quite draining. Sworkit is a simple app that allows you to organize your exercise for the week. You have no excuse not to get that heart pumping and endorphins flowing! This is very important if you study at home.

8. ExamTime

This app is fantastic, as it allows you to create everything you’ll need to study. From mind maps to quizzes, ExamTime is the all-you-need study buddy and allows you to create great resources you can use at home or on the go.

9. TED Talks

Looking for some inspiration? TED Talks has just that. It’s a great app filled with videos of fantastic talks from amazing people across the globe and in every industry possible. So if you’re studying with your chemistry, for example, find a video on here and put things into perspective.

10. Evernote Peek

Evernote is amazing by itself, but “Peek” adds even more to the app. It allows you to take notes with a pen, either spoken or drawn, and so is ideal for taking notes. The Peek option allows you to create quizzes with the notes you’ve taken if you’re on iPad and have a smart cover. It’s a great app that seems to go from strength to strength.

These ten great apps are a must have for students of the online and offline persuasion and make life so much easier throughout the year.

Guest blogger Cormac ReynoldsWritten by Cormac Reynolds

Cormac Reynolds is a writer and a lover of interesting and useful apps for education. He has written a number of articles on the subject and loves hill walking.


November 23, 2013 9:00 am

6 Best Places to Travel at Christmas

Sometimes it’s nice to escape the chaos of the holiday season. If that sentence just made you release a much-needed SIGH, then you might want to consider getting away from it all this December. But remember, just because you’re getting away does not mean you have to lose the Christmas spirit. In fact, you might find it in some of the cities we’ve chosen below! Read on for our picks of the best places to travel at Christmas.

1. Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Visit Amsterdam at Christmastime

The Netherlands is where our modern story of Santa Claus (or Sinterklaas) began, and its capital festively keeps the legend alive at this time of year. The city is sparkling with white lights, which reflect off its icy canals. If it gets cold enough you can lace up yourself and join in the skating party.

2. Lapland, Finland

Visit the reindeer in Lapland, Finland

When they wrote the song “Walking in a Winter Wonderland,” they may have been talking about Lapland. It is the unofficial home of Santa Claus, after all. Enjoy the snow-covered landscapes from a cozy reindeer-pulled sleigh, or take the scenic route with some cross-country skis. Visit Santa Claus Village or Santa Park (known as the Christmas capital of Europe!) for some Christmas-themed charm.

3. Munich, Germany

Visit Munich at Christmastime

You should probably just tour all of Germany during December, if you can. Its cities are some of the most festive in the world. In Munich, the city square of Marienplatz is bustling with two dozen Christmas markets, all surrounding a 100-foot Christmas tree. Every evening, the town hall features live holiday music. Ride a tram through the old city to enjoy some hot mulled wine and gingerbread.

4. Prague, Czech Republic

Visit Prague at Christmastime

If you’ve ever considered visiting Prague, Christmas is the time to go. The city almost turns back in time, especially in Wenceslas Square. Listen to choirs singing carols by candlelight, enjoy giant hams spit-roasting on the street and traditional Czech pastries, and browse hand-made ornaments and crafts in old wooden huts. You’ll even come upon a live nativity scene, complete with sheep, goats, and donkeys.

5. Zurich, Switzerland

Visit Zurich, Switzerland at Christmastime

Twelve thousand crystal lights, hot (Swiss!) chocolate, and a Christmas circus all make Zurich one of the best holiday cities in the world. Each year on December 19, children set candles afloat on the Limmat River. While you’re there, you can enjoy some world-class skiing and take in the breathtaking alpine landscapes.

6. New York City, New York

Visit New York at Christmastime

Christmas in New York – there’s not quite anything like it. Take in the world-famous Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center (30,000 lights!), take a carriage ride through Central Park, or go ice skating. This trip can be both romantic and exciting. If you’re looking for a spectacle, head to Radio City Music Hall for its Christmas Spectacular.

What are your holiday travel plans? Let us know in a comment!


November 21, 2013 10:21 am

How Much Is a Wedding DJ Worth?

Wedding DJ

We’ve all heard that familiar commercial come-on, “Now how much would you pay?”

A better question to ask a bride after a bargain-basement DJ ruined her wedding is, “How much would you have paid?”

When a bride tells us she found a cheaper DJ on Craigslist, or one of those directories that promise a hundred price quotes, we ask if we can follow up after her wedding and ask her to share her experience with her DJ. Those brides have been remarkably candid about what they paid for, and what they got.

Here are just a few of their comments:

  • “He showed up an hour late, and wearing a t-shirt and jeans to our formal wedding reception.”

  • “He must have ordered a dozen or more beers at the bar, and he appeared very drunk by the end of the night.”

  • “We were promised a specific DJ, but a total stranger showed up instead. He didn’t have our reception information, or the music we specifically requested.”

  • “He ignored our music request list and the requests by our guests, and played his favorite music instead.”

  • “He mispronounced several names while introducing the wedding party.”

  • “He played the music too loudly, and refused our repeated pleas to turn it down.”

  • “Our wedding venue refused to let the DJ perform because he didn’t have the required liability insurance; so we ended up with no DJ and no music.”

  • “He announced the Father-Daughter dance without checking to see that my father was in the room, then stopped the party for 5 minutes while we all searched for my dad.”

  • “He started our First Dance without checking to see that our photographer was in the room (he wasn’t); so we have no pictures of our First Dance.”

  • “He had the nerve to say: ‘What do you EXPECT for such a cheap price?’”

  • “We tried to reach him several times during the planning stage, but he took days or even weeks to respond.”

  • “I just assumed that all DJs were alike, and the cheapest one was the best value.”

So we asked those brides, “Knowing what you know now, would you have paid extra for a professional DJ instead of a cheap amateur?” The answer was a resounding “YES!” Not a single bride said, “No, our DJ did a horrible job, but we’re happy because we saved $300.”

Too many brides who choose their wedding vendors by price alone learn too late that there’s a reason the cheap ones are cheap: they simply don’t provide the level of service professionals provide.

So how do you avoid a DJ disaster?

Check out the DJ with the Better Business Bureau. If he’s not rated “A+” or “A” – or worse, if he’s not rated at all – RUN! If the BBB has never heard of him, it’s a big red flag that he’s not a legitimate wedding service provider.

Check for reviews on sites like Wedding Wire and Yelp. Bad DJs get bad reviews – or no reviews at all.

Take the time to actually meet with the DJ. Yes, it’s one more thing you have to do on top of a thousand other things as you plan your wedding, but you’ll feel a lot more confident knowing you’ve gotten to know the man who holds the fate of your reception in his hands.

You get only one chance to have a great wedding reception. Make it count. Do your homework. And don’t get cheap when it comes to your entertainment. It’s the one thing your guests will remember most. And they’ll remember whether you cared enough about them to hire a professional.

Jay Congdon is president of Fourth Estate Audio and a professional Chicago Wedding DJ since 1965.


November 19, 2013 12:00 am

4 Ways Makeup Affects Your Skin

The vast amount of time invested in our skin, from facials to pinning down the perfect cleansing regimen, can often be put at risk by the use of cosmetics. Makeup is a wonderful tool to enhance natural beauty and highlight your best features, but how can makeup work against you? We’ve all heard about the possible reactions our bodies can alert us to when using a new product, but what are some lesser-known ways that makeup affects your skin care?


1. Fights with your moisturizer – If not properly removed at the end of the day, old makeup lingers on the skin, clogs pores, and blocks the replenishment of your night time skin regiment. The skin repairs itself while you sleep, so why not give your dermis the best (and cleanest) possible palette to work with?

The Solution: Every evening, remove makeup with a cleanser that compliments your skin type and follow with your preferred moisturizer.

2. An allergic reaction to cosmetic ingredients, irritant contact dermatitis can come in two types according to Mayo Clinic: irritant contact dermatitis, the most common reaction which affects the skin’s most outer protective layer, and allergic contact dermatitis, when an “allergen triggers an immune reaction in your skin.” Complications resulting from contact dermatitis include neurodermatitis (lichen simplex chronicus), bacterial and fungal infections.

The Solution: Always check the product label for ingredients that have caused your skin to violently respond in the past. If possible, ask for a tester or a sample of the product. If you are still leery to start using a new product, try a “patch test” by applying the product to your wrist or curve of your elbow.

3. Bacterial infections – While there are no requirements made by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for cosmetic companies to provide expirations dates on their products, a good rule of thumb is to discard eye products (like mascara) after 3 months of use and foundation, 1 year. The wand of a mascara product is a breeding ground for bacteria. The FDA advises consumers to store cosmetics properly and avoid sharing with friends or family members. The use of saliva to moisten dry product immediately raises the risk of contaminating the product as bacteria from the mouth.

The Solution: Toss it if it’s old, dry, or dirty, don’t share your cosmetics, and store properly. It’s probably a good idea to clean your brushes and applicators too…

4. Just because it’s “organic” doesn’t mean it’s safer to use. “An ingredient’s source does not determine its safety,” states the FDA. “For example, many plants, whether or not they are organically grown, contain substances that may be toxic or allergenic.” Some plant and plant parts contain toxic properties that can cause severe allergic contact dermatitis (see #2).

The Solution: Take the same precautions you would use when using conventional cosmetics. Examine labels for ingredients that have burned you in the past and use the “patch test”.

Bottom line, if you have an adverse reaction to a cosmetic product, immediately discontinue use and seek the advice of a trusted skin care practitioner. Medical spas provide personal assessment and evaluation of their clients’ skin and determine a tailored skin care plan based on skin type and need. Anti-bacterial, detoxifying, and deep cleansing treatments are available in addition to skin-rejuvenation and laser therapy.

By removing your makeup at bedtime, properly caring for your products, and taking the necessary steps to educate yourself about ingredients, you will lessen the chance that your cosmetics will derail your skin’s health.

About the author: Elizabeth Rago is a freelance writer specializing in health, wellness, and women’s lifestyle content, working with yoga studios, chiropractors, mental health, wellness practitioners and Thrive Medical Spa in Chicago. Elizabeth writes the weekly column, The Circular Home for Chicago Shopping (an editorial partner of the Chicago Tribune) and is Senior Editor of All Things Girl, highlighting topics related to the modern domestic woman. She has been published in Mamalode Magazine, and  Connect with Elizabeth on Twitter, LinkedIn, Houzz, and Google+.


November 18, 2013 12:00 am

How to Achieve a Monochrome Look

In one of our recent Style Bytes with Ty from Ty Style Me, we received some great tips for wearing the monochrome trend without looking costume-y. We love the look because it’s so easy to dress up and down, and can work for so many body types and with so many different styles. Take a look!

Aside from the two looks shown in the video above there are other ways to use the monochrome trend to your advantage…

If you’re petite – when you dress in a few similar shades of the same color you present a more unified and vertical appearance. That’s just a fact. So if you’re on the petite side always try and keep the various pieces of your outfit within the same color family. Dark skinny jeans paired with a stark white blouse will visually cut your body in half, making your already short silhouette appear even shorter – not what you want at all. Instead, try pairing dark bottoms with dark tops (we love this ensemble), and vice versa.

If you are smaller and you want to try a more dramatic look like the ones showcased in Tylar’s video, opt for vertical stripes on either the top or bottom half of your body (like this). It will help add some length to your torso. This would not be a look for you! Bold, graphic patterns will overwhelm your figure, so keep it simple!

If you’re curvy – you can dress in monochrome to either emphasize or minimize your curves. To emphasize, go with horizontal stripes in any monochromatic color scheme. But as with petite figures, I’d stick to only wearing stripes or a pattern on one half of your body – if your shape gets lost you risk looking frumpy. To minimize your curves, go the opposite and keep your colors simple and in the same family. This is a great example.

Some people worry that monochromatic dressing will look a bit dull. While that can sometimes be the case, it can easily be avoided by purchasing pieces in interesting cuts and fabrics, and getting creative with accessories. Don’t be afraid to experiment and have fun it!

Have you been wearing the monochrome trend this fall? Share your thoughts, or even links to your favorite monochrome outfits, in the comments below! And don’t forget to check out Tylar’s other Style Bytes on our YouTube channel.


Thanksgiving is almost upon us and that means food, family, and…fabulous decor! What we love most about Thanksgiving decor is that it’s centered around the dinner table, which evokes feelings of love, warmth, and family. Read on for some of our favorite Thanksgiving decorating ideas!

Have fun with your Thanksgiving decor

The Decor

The best way to quickly change the ambiance of your home is to do the old switcheroo – swap out your light summer cushions and throws for heavier fabrics and darker shades. You’ll add an instant feeling of fall (as well as some warmer textiles to cozy up with!).

Next, add some fresh flowers to brighten things up. Stick to seasonal blooms like sunflowers or chrysanthemums. Take a walk in the fresh autumn air, clip some leaves and twigs along the way, and place them in earthy vases throughout your home. Fill any gaps on the walls or doors with a wreath – if you’re feeling creative, you can impress your friends and relatives with a simple DIY wreath.

The Table

Now that your guests have been wowed by your festive home decor, it’s time for the best part…Thanksgiving dinner! Here are a couple table setting ideas that will wow your guests almost as much as their turkey and stuffing.

Bring the outside in. A few simple touches from nature can easily keep the Thanksgiving vibe going. Think pine cones, birch, acorns, leaves, and wood. Not only are these items inexpensive (or free!), they really create a mood. Glue acorns to your napkin rings, or DIY a placement with some colorful leaves.

Choose deep hues. For your linens, we suggest a deep, saturated shade like plum or peacock blue. They make the table feel oh-so warm and look great against gold accents (like the candlesticks or mercury glass votives that you should definitely use as well).

The Centerpiece

You can go in a lot of different directions when it comes to your Thanksgiving centerpiece, but we’re suckers for the traditional “horn of plenty”. Arrange pumpkins, gourds, corn, pomegranates, flowers, and more so they seem to overflow from the table. This holiday is all about the harvest, after all, so don’t be afraid to celebrate that!

Play around with different heights to create some visual interest – you might need to add some tall candlesticks or pillar candles to get this look. Also for visual interest, add some items in different materials like porcelain, metal, or wood. Don’t be afraid to add your personality when creating your centerpiece! Consider painting your pumpkins to fit the color scheme. White, silver, and gold are popular choices, but you could also go with more modern colors like grey or mint green.


November 15, 2013 10:17 am

A Basic Guide to Wedding Day Prep


What to Skip, What to Schedule, and What to Do Today

You’ve been spending months planning for the big day. Once the wedding day arrives it’s necessary to make a list of everything that needs to be done on that day. The following discusses what to do on your special day, what needs to be scheduled for later, and what you need to skip altogether. Welcome to wedding day prep 101!

What Needs to be Scheduled

All honeymoon plans need to be gone over and confirmed. Make arrangements with the person who will pick up gifts from the reception and deliver them to your home. Where and when the gifts are to be delivered should be scheduled ahead of time. Schedule to have the wedding dress or any other attire that needs to be preserved or dry cleaned, and make sure you assign someone to return the tuxes.

What Needs to be Done on the Day of the Wedding

Get all bags packed and ready for the wedding night and the honeymoon. Make sure the rings and the marriage license are ready to go. Flowers need to be checked a few hours before the wedding to make sure they aren’t dehydrated. Depending on the schedule of the florist, flowers at the wedding and especially the reception may be sitting for several hours before the events start. Finally, make sure all shaving needs are taken care of. For men, a barber from The Art Of Shaving in NYC suggests shaving the day of the wedding, so you don’t have to worry about stubble later that day or on the start of your honeymoon. Make sure you pack your shaving prodcuts for the honeymoon to keep that clean-shaven look.

What to Skip

The number one thing to skip on the day of the wedding is basically anything new. Everything from new foods to new shampoo should not be tried on the day you want to look and feel your best. Having an upset stomach before walking down the aisle or trying to cover up breakouts after using a new skin product is just not worth the risk. Also, skip the disposable cameras. That trend pretty much went out when smartphones were invented.

Being organized and planning on the day of the wedding is just as important as all the planning that occurred in the previous months. Making a list and following through will go a long way to making your special day more enjoyable.