Chocolate Covered Strawberry French Toast

On holiday mornings, I love to make a special breakfast. Last Christmastime, I found Nutella French Toast on Pinterest and could not resist making it. I incorporated my own way of preparing and it has made our Christmas breakfast the past two years. I wanted to share it before New Years, in case you want to bring in 2014 with some yum!

This recipe was loosely adapted from The Kitchen Life of a Navy Wife.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry French Toast
Yields: 2 servings

Cooking spray or butter
4 Egg yolks
1/3 cup of milk
1 tsp vanilla
4 slices of bread
1/2 cup strawberries, sliced
Chocolate spread, such as Nutella
Powdered Sugar for garnishing

Blast your pan with cooking spray and heat it up over a low-medium heat. Combine the egg yolks, milk and vanilla. Beat with a fork.

Dip your bread into the egg mixture and cook on each side until golden brown.

Allow toast to cool slightly, then liberally coat each slice with your chocolate spread. Place the strawberry slices on top of the chocolate spread, then close the sandwich up.

Garnish with strawberries and/or powdered sugar, if you like!

xo, arielle


AG Hair Cosmetics High and Dry Volume Spray Review

AG Hair Cosmetics High and Dry Volume Spray

AG Hair Cosmetics reached out to me with a new product, AG Hair Cosmetics High and Dry Volume Spray. I'm a big fan of anything that will add volume to my lifeless hair, so I was looking forward to trying to out. 

In the press release, AG Hair Cosmetics explains,

"The high-grip invisible spray gives natural life, and a matte, textured finished, creating that covetable lived-in look."

Here's what the can has to say:

AG Hair Cosmetics High and Dry Volume Spray

At first, I mistakenly thought this was a hairspray and used it all over my hair (silly me!). That is most certainly not the case. This product is meant to be sprayed directly onto your roots to give you lift.

I used the product on wash and dry shampoo days both. I found that on the days that I did not wash my hair, this boosted the efficacy of my dry shampoo. The scent is quite strong but fresh.

When I sprayed the product into my roots, without teasing, it gave me absolutely no volume. Once I teased and sprayed it in, I was able to get great lift. Unfortunately, these results did not last very long (and hour or two at most). 

I have very, very fine flat hair that takes a lot work to get lift (see my video on how I do it here). This is not a product that makes a regular appearance in my routine, due to it not aiding in my volumizing process. I think if your hair is slightly thicker than mine, or tends to hold shape, this product will work better for you.

I do appreciate that AG Hair Cosmetics is cruelty free, that they are involved in Women Leading Change (they build a school a year in Africa) and this does not contain parabens. Any company who gives back it an A+ in my book.

AG Hair Cosmetics High and Dry Volume Spray will be available starting January 1, 2014 for $24 per can. Their products are available in professional salons and at Ulta stores.

Disclosure: Product was sent by the company or the company’s PR group. All opinions are my own. For my full disclosure, click here.

I'm linking up with Lipgloss & Crayons + Still Being Molly for Monday Funday.

xo, arielle


Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream Review

Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream

In the past few weeks, I had the fortune of working with Neutrogena to test out their Norwegian Formula Hand Cream. 

My husband's grandma is an avid user of this hand cream, so I had already heard great things about it. Then, when I posted it on Instagram, several people said it was a fav of their's! Needless to say, I was looking forward to trying it out.

Once my fingers were freshly manicured, I put this stuff to a seven day challenge. When I started, my cuticles were in pretty rough shape from the winter weather. I was hoping, if anything, this would help with that. 

Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream

The packaging touts that "just a dab heals dry skin." The bottle also explains that it can be used on multiple areas (even the face!). The info card I received with the product also states, "its glycerin-rich formula combats cracking and peeling while moisturizing dry cuticles and improving the look and feel of hands." It also stated, "it's time to wave goodbye to dry hands and chipped nails." 

I tested this product everyday for seven days. I normally put a regular body lotion on my hands before I leave for work because my skin is fairly dry. Each winter, though, my cuticles get very dry and peel (yuck!). 

I only used a dab, as the product encourages, and I must say that's all it really takes. The viscosity of this formula will allow for very small amounts to be placed on the skin and cover your hands entirely. I also massaged it into my cuticles daily. The formula absorbed into my hands quickly and did not feel greasy. 

I noticed, immediately, that my hands felt soft and silky. Within a few days, my hands were feeling soft, even without application of the cream. By day 7, my cuticles were in much better shape (no more peeling!). 

After my 7 days #NTG7DayChallenge

There are two downsides, though. I wish this product lasted through hand washings. At mid-day I did have to reapply. They don't make the claim that it's waterproof but it would be a nice addition. Secondly, on the info card, I took the "it's time to wave goodbye to dry hands and chipped nails" to mean that it would keep my polish from chipping. That certainly was not the case and I did have to repaint mid-week. These two are just me being nit-picky but it was a bit bothersome.

Overall, I'm very impressed with the formula of Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream. It repaired my cuticles and left my hands feeling very moisturized. Plus, with the tiny amount of product needed, it's going to last me a looooong time. At $3-4 a tube, it's very well priced. This will be my go-to hand bag hand cream and when it runs dry, I will be picking up a new tube.

Disclosure: Product was sent by the company or the company’s PR group. All opinions are my own. For my full disclosure, click here.


Essential Makeup Brushes for Any Collection

I was inspired by a subscriber to share with you all the brushes that I think are absolutely essential to your collection. If you're on a budget, these are the brushes you need!

I prefer Sigma but I also think Crown Brush, EcoTools and ELF have some decent options.

beautyblender type sponge 
Stippling Foundation Brush
Large Powder Brush
Angled Brush
Fan Brush

Tapered Blending Brush
Crease Brush
Shading Brush
Pencil Brush
Fine Angled Eye Liner Brush

If you want to go for the gold I highly recommend the Sigma Basic Eye and Face kits.
*these are both affiliate links which can result in compensation to me if you make a purchase

All products mentioned in this video were purchased by me.


Books I Finished: November - Today

The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren: I mentioned in my last book post I was only days away from finishing this one. The book is tied closely to the author's Christian roots and discusses our purpose in life, based on God's perspective. The book is broken down into 40 lessons, one for each day. This book lead me to re-evaluate my spiritual life and got me back into church. It also made me seriously consider where my purpose in my career lies. For those two things, I am very thankful I began reading it. I have been recommending this to all of my spiritual friends and clients.

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling): This was our December book club pick. The book is very well written and kept me turning the pages. A famous model flings from her penthouse apartment and falls to her death. The death is ruled a suicide. However, her brother will not rest with this conclusion. He hires a private investigator who is able to conquer the truth of who-done-it. Throughout the book I thought I knew who had committed the crime but was shocked at the concluding chapters. This book was a bit reminiscent of the Gillian Flynn books I read this Summer. If you're a fan of her work, I believe you will enjoy this selection as well. 

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins: On Thanksgiving, we went to see Catching Fire. When it ended, I could not bear to not know what happened next. Mockingjay is the final book in the Hunger Games trilogy. My library only had the audio version available, so I listened to it on the drive home and the week that followed. First of all, the narrator's voice is very annoying. Beyond that, the book is amazing. I hear the movie is going to be split into two parts. There are some shockers between Katniss and Peetah, that I'm not going to talk about. I recommend reading it before part one hits the theaters next year!

The Pursuit of Happiness: 21 Spiritual Rules to Success by Jennifer O'Neill: Every so often, I find a free Kindle book that catches my eye. This was one I had downloaded that had been sitting in my library for several months. Since I ran out of reads over Thanksgiving, I gave this one a go. It's very short and to the point. I enjoyed some of the author's perspectives on happiness but I would love to have seen some elaboration on points. She made things seem a little too simple. As someone who works in the field of trying to help people find their happiness, I know some of us cannot take such simple advice and need concrete steps. 

Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type by Paul Tieger & Barbara Barron-Tieger: I have been going through a what's my purpose? sort of crisis for a few months. I'm still not 100% sure on my direction but this book did help clear up a lot of things for me. The book is based on the Myers-Briggs personality testing. I breaks it down quite a bit more than I have seen from articles in the past. It pinpoints strengths and weaknesses of your personality type and where you fit in the work world. I highly recommend this with anyone struggling in their career. By the way, I'm INFJ.

There were three books I just could not bring myself to finish. I tried but did not conquer. All of them became insufferable, so I returned them.

Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes: The book is written like a text book. I wanted to expand my knowledge on the topic but it was too snooze-ville for me.

The Conditions of Love by Dale Kushner: I had to renew this book 3 times. That right there says there was a problem. I can usually devour a book in 2 weeks. As the story progressed, it became lackluster.

Live the Life You Love in 10 Easy Step-by-Step Lessons by Barbara Sher: Great concept I just disagree with 90% of what she had to say.

I'm also pumped because on Black Friday I scored an Amazon Kindle Fire HD. I finally stopped reading e-books on my iPhone! If your library loans out e-books, I highly recommend getting the Overdrive app. 


Sonia Kashuk Textured Rose Palette: Possible Alternative for Urban Decay Naked 3?

A few weeks ago, I shared my Urban Decay Naked 1 and 2 comparison. In that post, I talked about the uncertainty about making the plunge for Naked 3.

As the posts have been rolling out, I have noticed many purchasers mention they have nothing like it in the their collection (i.e. the rose gold tones). I thought I was in the same boat. I was digging through my collection and I happened upon a palette (one I had completely forgot about) that Sonia Kashuk had sent me this summer. Immediately, I knew I had something that could serve as a replacement to Naked 3. I bring you Sonia Kashuk Monochrome Eye Quad in Textured Rosé.

Sonia Kashuk Monochrome Eye Quad in Textured Rosé

These palettes are available at Target for $13.69-$14. Don't let the photo on the Target website fool you, it looks nothing like that (they really need to update it!). The quad includes 4 rose toned shades with one matte, two shimmers and one frosted shade. 

The shades are highly pigmented, blendable and last through the day with a proper primer. The shadows themselves are buttery. If you have a heavy hand, there can be a bit of fallout. Overall, the shadows are consistent with Urban Decay's quality.

Sonia Kashuk Monochrome Eye Quad in Textured Rosé

Sonia Kashuk Monochrome Eye Quad in Textured Rosé Swatches

While I saw many swatch posts, this one from Hairspray and Highheels was when I knew my palette was close enough that I wasn't going to need Naked 3.

Photo published with permission from Ange of Hairspray and Highheels

With all of the Naked 3 posts I have seen, I noticed there are only 4-5 rose toned shades. All the other included shades, I already have some variation of in the other Naked palettes. The Sonia Kashuk Texture Rosé is a fantastic option to fill in the rose tones you may be missing and at a fraction of the cost. Plus, the quality is on point with other high end brands. Now that I have this alternative, I will not be purchasing Naked 3. 

Disclosure: Product was sent by the company or the company’s PR group. All opinions are my own. For my full disclosure, click here.


Pinned It and Did It: An Easy Work Outfit

Today, I'm linking up with Style Journey for Pinned It & Did It! I love this link-up because I use Pinterest all of the time for inspro.
HK Style Journey

I wish I could find the person who created this outfit (I scoured the internet!) so I could give her a great big hug. She helped me add a very easy ensemble to my work repertoire. 

original pin here

A bonus: most of this outfit was thrifted and everything was already in my closet when I pinned the photo!

Can't wait to see your other Pinned It & Did It! I'm also linking up with The Pleated Poppy for What I Wore.


Pixi Conceal, Correct and Brighten Products Review

Recently, Pixi launched some products that are meant to correct, conceal and brighten. I was fortunate enough to be sent the 3 to test for myself. Today, I'm going to be sharing my thoughts on each.

Pixi Crayon Combo in Wide Awake

This is a dual ended chubby pencil that includes a side to brighten and lighten. The brighten side is a peachy matte shade that I use on my waterline. I look wide awake when I do this. The lighten is still peachy but with shimmer. This end can also be used in the inner rim, however I love to use it as a highlight. I have been using it to highlight under my brow bone, in the tear duct and on my cheeks, cupids bow and nose. It works beautifully under foundation. According to the website, these also include caffeine, to stimulate, and chamomile to soothe. The crayons retail for $18 and also come in Super Natural and Soft Smoky.

Pixi Eye Bright Kit

As you all know, I am a big fan of Pixi Correction Concealer (see my review here) so I was hoping this would be just as marvelous. This pot includes two concealing shades, a correcting shade and a highlight. All of the products are creamy and emollient. The concealer does a decent job on under eye circles but it's not up to par with Correction Concealer. It's just average. The green based corrector works well on blemishes and off colored eye lids. The highlight does it's intended purpose but it's lackluster in longevity. This quad is $18.

Pixi Redness Reducing Primer

This green color primer is meant to cancel out red tones in the skin. I suffer from Rudolph nose, so I have been on the lookout for a product to wipe out this problem. The green blends into the skin and does do some correcting. I noticed that both my nose and blemishes were not nearly as rosy. Once my foundation was applied, the redness was nearly erradicated. Unfortunately, results did not last through the day. I also had some oil breakthrough that other, albeit cheaper, primers do well at preventing. I was happy with the correction in the beginning but I would have preferred to see it make it an entire work day. The ingredients include Aloe Vera, Vitamin A and Vitamin E to help out the skin. This primer will run you $28.

Overall, I would certainly pick up the Crayon Combo again. I'm interested in the other versions since they are primarily used as shadow and liner. I would love to the see the Redness Reducing Primer last longer. If it did, it would be holy grail status in my book. The Eye Bright Kit is the one product of the bunch I would not see myself purchasing in the future.

Disclosure: Products were sent by the company or the company’s PR group. All opinions are my own. For my full disclosure, click here.


Bringing Back the Orange Sweater

You probably saw this orange sweater in a previous post of mine. I love it. It's from Forever 21 and has been extremely versatile. 

Do you ever have those days where you think damn, I did a good job putting this outfit together? That was this day for me. For once, I didn't use Pinterest to figure it out and did it all on my own. I was feeling good. 

I love the combo of burnt orange with this yellow tee. I feel like the leopard belt helped bring it all together!


Holiday Gift Guide: Top 10 Jewelry Pieces from Anjolee

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

With the holidays coming up, I know many of us ladies will receive some extra special gifts in the form of gemstones and diamonds. Personally, I have been a big fan sapphire ever since the movie Titanic (dang you heart of the ocean!) and anything vintage with milgrain detail. 

I have put together a gift guide to share with your special someone. This list includes five budget options and five splurges from the online jewelry retailer, Anjolee. Anjolee will allow you to choose metal type and stone size. They also allow for customization!

Circled Gemstone Diamond Stud Earrings / Three Stone Oval Gemstone Anniversary Ring / Perfect Three Diamond Anniversary Ring / Four Prong Princess Cut Gemstone Stud Earrings / Day to Night Diamond and Gem Drop Necklace / Flower Design Diamond Eternity Band / Vintage Quad Square Diamond Bracelet / Oval Diamonds Drop Pendant / Double Row Inside Out Diamond Hoop Earrings Small /  Classic 4-Prong Tennis Bracelet 

My favorite of the group is a toss up between the Perfect Three Diamond Anniversary Ring or the Diamond Tennis Bracelets.

What jewelry piece are you craving most this holiday season?

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Anjolee and I received monetary compensation for writing this post. All opinions are my own. For my full disclosure, click here.


Happy Thanksgiving

A while back, I wrote this post about gratitude and I still stand by it. I know Thanksgiving is a time when we express our gratitude but truly it should be voiced year 'round. I hope you all consider your blessings, not only today, but each day.

I wish all of you a safe, blessed and love filled Thanksgiving. I'm very thankful to be spending this time with my family.


Makeup Starter Kit for less than $40

You've seen the $20 makeup challenge. While I love the concept, I have noticed that many people are using cruddy products. This made me think, what is the least expensive face I could do with the best products in my collection? I was able to do a $40 with this list of awesome products:

NYC Smooth Skin Perfecting Primer
Wet n Wild Coverall Cream Foundation
Rimmel Stay Matte Powder
ELF Contouring Blush & Bronzer
Wet n Wild Coloricon in Walking on Eggshells
NYX HD Eye Shadow Base
Sonia Kashuk Tinted Brow Gel
Wet n Wild Gel Liner
NYC Sky Rise Mascara
ELF Luscious Liquid Lipstick


Why it Took Me So Long to Buy Naked 2 + Comparison to Naked 1

When the blogosphere was abuzz at the Urban Decay Naked 2 launch, I was hesitant to take the plunge. Hesitant enough that I waited until this summer (when I had a coupon and a gift card) to make the purchase. Now with Naked 3 launching, I'm in the same boat. I know I will definitely wait until it is in store before I make my decsion. I mean, really, how different are all of these from one another?

That is the reason it took me so long to make the Naked 2 purchase. Every time I saw the swatches online or compared in store, I thought they were far too similar to justify purchasing. When I finally did buy, I found that there were some colors that were quite similar.

With Naked 2 I discovered at least 5 out of the 12 were near repeats of Naked 1. I have seen some bloggers say Naked 1 is more cool while Naked 2 is warm and I do not 100% agree. There are some gold tones, but there are also silvery shades with hints of plum. Naked 2 has several shimmery shades. Pigmentation, durability and packaging are all stellar.

If you are not making the purchase due to the similarity I think you're making the right choice. NYX has some nice alternatives that are close enough you won't even miss it.

Here is Naked 2:

Naked 2 compared to Naked 1:

Colors that are similar:

Virgin / Bootycall
Smog / Snakebite
Toasted / YDK
Hustle / Busted
Half Baked (not pictured but it is in each palette)

I found that the Naked 2 shades were slightly darker versions of Naked 1's.

Bottom line is that I am happy I picked it up, since I am such a beauty fiend. I reach for Naked 1 more often only due to having more work friendly selections. I think it is great to have so many neutral shades at your fingertips but I do not think it is necessary to spend over $100 to get them. If you are someone who prefers neutral looks and needs more brown in your collection, go for Naked 1. If you want to get out of the box, add some shimmer and plums then go for Naked 2. If you're a true beauty junky like me, I'm sure you already have both and are on the wait list for Naked 3.

If you have both, did you think Naked 2 was all that different?


Pinned It & Did It: Comfy Fall

Today, I'm linking up with Style Journey for Pinned It & Did It. I have been meaning to link up for a while because lord knows how much inspiration I take from Pinterest.

Today's outfit was inspired by Hello, Gorgeous. She has an amazing fashion blog. You all really need to stop by!

Photo left re-blogged with permission from Yasi of Hello, Gorgeous
see the original pin here

I have worn this combo twice. Once, as seen above, with jeggings and another time with dark crop pants to make it more work friendly. I forgot, on this day, to add my wrist accessories!

I love to turn to Pinterest for fashion inspiration. While I don't have the exact pieces, it gives me great ideas on how to pull an outfit together. Can't wait to see what the other Pinned It & Did It folks did!


Linguine with Mushrooms

Last week, we celebrated my husband's birthday. He has a few absolute favorite dishes I make. This is one of them! He claims I only make it once a year (which is probably true) but he begs for it all of the time! I adapted the recipe from a random TJ Maxx cookbook I found.

The best part, this is very low on the labor intensive scale. Plus, the ingredients are quite easy to come by.

Linguine with Mushrooms

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 12 oz mushrooms, sliced (I usually use crimini or whatever is in store)
  • 12 oz linguine
  • 1 1/4 cups of sour cream
  • 5 oz grated parmesan 
  • salt and pepper


Bring a pot of water to a boil. While the water is boiling, sauté your garlic and onion in the butter on low-medium heat for about 5 minutes. Then, add the mushrooms. Let them cook together for about 10 minutes. I promise you want to take your time with this to let the flavors infuse. While the simmering is happening, boil your linguine.

When the mushrooms are done, turn your heat to low. Add the sour cream and stir. Then add your parm. Toss in your salt and pepper to taste.

Drain your linguine and add it to the sauce. And voila! Your ah-mazing meal is complete.