11.28.2013

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.

11.27.2013

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


11.25.2013

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?


11.21.2013

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!

11.20.2013

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


Ingredients:
  • 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

Instructions:

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.


11.18.2013

Covergirl Clean Whipped Creme Foundation + Base Review


Covergirl Clean Whipped Creme Foundation + Base

I'm sure many of you have seen the Covergirl Whipped Creme Foundation hit the shelves of your local drugstores. Now, they're launching the clean line that includes a base. Bzzagent invited me to join this program and I was excited to give it a go. Covergirl touts that this foundation is breathable, matte and great for sensitive skin, so it won't clog pores. You will find this for $6.99-$8.79 at most mass retailers. 

Covergirl Clean Whipped Creme Foundation + Base / 342 Natural Beige

This foundation is available in 10 shades. I chose 342, Natural Beige. The online swatches are much different than the in person effect, so I recommend making your selection in store. Since I am still tanned from vacation, this shade worked well to match my neck skin tone. During the winter months, though, it will be far to dark. I also noticed it oxidizes slightly darker than the package shade, so I would also suggest buying a tad bit lighter than your ushe.

Covergirl Clean Whipped Creme Foundation + Base Before & After

Overall, I was very happy with the results. The foundation is extremely light and smooth feeling. It absolutely feels like whipped cream on the face. I love how it melds with the skin to give you a natural glow. 

The formula also includes a base. Unfortunately, I cannot get through a whole day without oil breakdown. Therefore, I do combine with with a primer. 

The overall finish is matte. The coverage is absolutely buildable. I would call the coverage medium. As you can see in my before, I have a nasty breakout. While a dabbing my ring finger, with a bit of the foundation, in problem areas I can easily cover spots. The foundation also evens out skin tone. I find that it's best applied by dipping in your finger, dabbing on the forehead, cheeks and chin then use a stippling brush or beautyblender to blend into the skin. 

Now, for the downside. As you may have seen, a few months back, I finally got my acne under control. My skin had been looking clean and clear-that was until I started using this with a new Pixi Primer. I'm not sure which did it (it's pretty unlikely it's the primer because I have used their primers before with no problems) but I'm 99% certain it was this. My before photo is the breakout I'm suffering after using this product. Needless to say, while I absolutely love the results, I'm pretty angry with the breakout. I have been trying to recover from it for at least a week now. Covergirl claims this is great for sensitive/acne prone skin but it absolutely wasn't for mine. I had an awfully similar experience when I used Revlon's Nearly Naked, which makes similar claims to Covergirl.

If you love light foundations with buildable coverage, I think you will will be happy with this foundation. However, if you easily breakout, I would steer clear of this formula.

Disclosure: Product was provided through Bzzagent for review consideration. All opinions are my own.

11.12.2013

Meditation: Why I Love it and How You Can Get Started

image courtesy of chaiwat / freedigitalphotos.net

I have discussed in previous posts that I meditate nearly everyday. There was a period of time, this year, where I fell off the bandwagon and I felt it heavily. Things were out of balance and I felt depression creeping back. I was jumpstarted by the 21 Day Meditation Challenge from Deepak Chopra and Oprah this summer. Well, I'm thrilled to report that it's back for fall!

The challenge began Monday but you can access each meditation for up to 5 days after. The best part is that registration and participation is completely free. The practice begins with Oprah introducing the day's topic. Deepak then speaks some wisdom and then it's straight into the meditation. The practice lasts about 20 minutes. If you would like to sign up, go to the Chopra Center Meditation website, here.

But really, why am I sharing this with you all? Because I believe in the power of meditation for overcoming life's woes. I have seen transformation in myself, my clients and family from practicing even 5 minutes of meditation daily. For me, it provides me with balance, direction and I am able to tap into my inner wisdom. Yes, I know this sounds wonky but I get the best answers about my life from meditation. Besides that, meditation is truly a way to treat yourself. We spend most of our day with thoughts rolling through our head and rarely shut them down. Meditation is a way to escape the thoughts. On days where my brain feels like it's on overdrive, I sit and do a 2-5 minute practice and I instantly feel refreshed. 

Whether you are new or a long time meditator, I think starting the 21 Day Meditation Challenge is a fantastic experience for anyone. 

If you would like to start out smaller (read: shorter time period) I cannot recommend calm.com enough. They have 2 minute to 30 minute meditations (plus there's an app!).

I hope some of you join me!

11.11.2013

BH Cosmetics 10 Color Professional Blush Palette

BH Cosmetics 10 Color Professional Blush Palette

BH Cosmetics is a company I have seen pop up in the blogosphere as of late and that is why I was excited when they reached out to me. They carry their products completely online and at drugstore price points. For the past few weeks I have been testing their 10 Color Professional Blush Palette. In the palette, you receive 10 blush shades that are ample in size (at least half dollar size) with matte and shimmer shades. Some can be used for contouring, too. The shades range from light pinks to fuchsias. The palette runs $16.95 but is currently on sale for $11.95.

I have recently begun my expansion into blushes. I used to wear none at all. This summer, I picked up a fan brush and learned, when applied correctly, how much blush perks up the skin. I specifically chose this palette due to the wide range of shades. These were options I was missing in my collection.


When I first opened the palette, I was surprised by the amount of product. I went to go in for swatches and noticed, on my fingertips, they were extremely pigmented. When I attempted to transfer to my hand, their was little left to be desired.


My first impressions were poor but I still decided to give them a chance. Well, I was proved completely wrong. 

Once I used a proper blush brush, the pigments transferred to my cheeks quite easily and true to color. Each shade was completely buildable and stayed throughout the day (with a proper primer). I am undoubtedly impressed by the blushes and am thrilled to have rounded out my stockpile. With the array of shades and portability, this palette is the perfect addition to any collection.

Disclosure: Product sent by the company or PR for review consideration. All opinions are my own.


11.08.2013

Busy Girl Nails Fall Challenge: Brown

It's the last week of #BusyGirlNails! The final installment is dark brown. I thought it would be difficult to find a deep brown shade but luckily I found this $1 polish, from Broadway Nails, at Dollar General. I found that, in the sun, the red tones speak loudly. In the shade, it's definitely brown. I decided to incorporate some other fall colors and added a watercolor accent.

Fall Watercolor Nails

Broadway Nails in Chocoholic

I want to send a big thank you to @Mirandasmakeup@drinkcitra@Fiercemakeupandnails and @Marijonails for co-hosting Busy Girl Nails with me. You all are amazing artists and I loved working with you this season!

I also want to shoutout to some of my favorite nail art looks from this challenge: 

Antique Gold from @lovestrucklacquer
Pink from @beefette
Oxblood from @lacqueredlady
Orange from @sarae525
Brown from @mynailpolishonline

Thanks to everyone who participated this fall! Lookout for a winter edition, coming soon!

11.06.2013

Books I Finished and What I'm Reading Now

I identify as an avid reader. Through college and the time after, I took a little break. Now, I'm back into devouring books. The library has become my favorite place to visit and I joined a book club.

I love to see what other people are reading and I thought it would be fun to share the books I have finished and what I'm working on now with y'all. 

Books I finished in October (since I was on vacation at the beginning of the month I was able to get through a lot!)


The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls: This was our October book club pick. I had read this years ago but forgot how amazing Jeannette's story truly is. Walls grew up in a family whose beliefs were out of the norm. They lived all over the country waining between beautiful establishments to shacks in impoverished mining communities. They went from fat with their fill of food to nearly starving. As the children became adults, the parents chose to be homeless. Jeanette shares her trials, tribulations and quite moving moments growing up in the family. My book club struggled with praise and distain of the parents. Never the less, you will not be disappointed in reading this book.

The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls: Since I loved The Glass Castle, I picked up Walls' new novel. Unfortunately, this was a bit of a snoozefest. I believe this book is better suited for a teen audience. The plot sounds interesting but in writing it was a bit predictable. Two young women become abandoned by their mother and make the treck across country to stay with their uncle. They get wrapped up in working with the town's richest man who ends up taking advantage of the girls. In the end, the family prevails and becomes intact once more. 

The Law of Divine Compensation by Marianne Williamson: This book took me about a year to read. I had it downloaded into my Nook app and kept forgetting about it. When I ran out of books on vacation, I resumed this one and finished it up. Williamson is known from being a follower and teacher of A Course in Miracles (ACIM). She writes from the ACIM perspective on career and money and how to attract more of both to your life. If you are into metaphysical teachings, you will gain a lot from this book.

In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving by Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy: I was quite torn between dislike and praise of this book. This is our November book club pick. I believe the Tuohy's came to speak where I live and some of the attendees were inspired to read. Basically, they write about their perspective on giving fully of ones wealth, time and love. While some of the book reflects that (and I really appreciate what they had to offer)-the book really ended up being more about their childhood, how they raised their family and The Blindside (and how much different their reality was from the movie!). Where the praise came in is that it honestly made me look at how I give and where I can offer more.  

What I'm reading now (I'm known to read up to 5 books at the same time!)

The Lazy Couponer by James Chase: I have been couponing for a couple of years now. I usually stockpile for a few months and don't coupon again for a year or two. Since I'm working on my couponing posts, I wanted to make sure I have all my tips down. That is why I picked up this book. I am certainly a lazy couponer so whatever extra tips this author may have, I'm ready for!

The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren: I have been working on this book for much longer than the 40 days that it should take. The book is tied closely to the author's Christian roots and discusses out purpose in life, based on God's perspective. The book is broken down into 40 lessons, one for each day. I was reading it faithfully before vacation but after, I fell off the bandwagon. I am only a few days away from finishing. 

The Conditions of Love by Dale Kushner: I picked up this read because it was sitting out in the open in the library. I definitely judged the book by it's cover when I picked it up. When I read the jacket, I was intrigued. It covers the main character, Eunice's, stages of love. Young love, spiritual love and erotic love. Currently, I am in her childhood stage. The author is quite descriptive and leaves you wanting more page by page.

Fourbears: Myths of Forgiveness by Sammy Rangle: I went to a training and this author was the speaker. I was so inspired by his story and his acts of forgiveness that I had to pick up the book. Sammy was raised in an abusive home and grew up to be a so-called troublemaker himself. Through time, though, he healed and became a social worker. Now he works with people teaching the power of forgiveness.

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith: This is our December book club pick. I was intrigued by the fact that this book was actually written by J.K. Rowling. Apparently, she wanted to write freely without the constraints of what her current name holds. The book is a mystery about the murder of a famous model. So far, the book is very artfully written. I cannot wait to finish it and figure out who-done-it!

11.04.2013

Batiste Dry Shampoo in Cool and Crisp Fresh Review

Batiste Dry Shampoo in Cool and Crisp Fresh
PR Sample

If y'all saw my How I Stopped Washing My Fine Hair vid, you know I have become a big fan of dry shampoo. Particularly, Pssst!. I have tried dozens of dry shampoos with no luck. Pssst! was my first success story.

When Batiste reached out to me to dry out their version, I was a bit hesitant based on my other dry shampoo experiences. Lucky for me, Batiste was just as successful on my fine hair as my favorite brand. 

Batiste can be found at most drugstores and runs about $7.99 per can. Batiste has a vast array of types to choose from including shampoos with a hint of color! I tested out their Cool and Crisp Fresh. The brand claims their dry shampoos are perfect for in between washes and will "banish oil and boost volume."

From first use, I noticed I could get away with using far less product than with Pssst!. A few quick blasts at my roots, a little bit of working in and I'm good to go. Batiste sopped up the oils, gave me another day to not wash and provided a bit of volume. My head felt clean throughout the day and there was no white residue left behind. 

The scent is quite perfume-y. This did not bother me but for scent sensitive gals, this might be a bit heavy for you. For my hair, it took away the dingy unclean scent and revived my locks for another day.

What is your favorite dry shampoo?

Disclosure: Product sent by the company for review consideration. All opinions are my own.

11.01.2013

Low Calorie Breakfast Burrito


I am on a journey to lose 10 pounds (thanks newlywedom!). In order to achieve this goal, I have cut my calories. For me, it has been difficult to stay within a certain calorie count so I have been scouring the internet for low calorie options. 

I quickly discovered that some of my "normal" breakfast choices were high in calories, low in protein and not sustaining me. I have since switched my breakfast to selections with more protein and less calories. Now, I am much more satisfied in the AM. 

During my breakfast change-ups I started making these breakfast burritos that are only about 130 calories each!! Obviously this will be dependent on the products you use but I believe any breakfast you can get for under 200 calories is a winner. They are also packed with protein from eggs and ham. The best part are that the possibilities are endless because the staple ingredient, egg whites, can be combined with many other ingredients (veggies anyone?).

Your ingredients:


Small flour tortillas, liquid egg whites, a sprinkle of cheese, ham sandwich slices and salt and pepper (my husband likes to add a bit of hot sauce to his).

I'm a big fan of the Fit and Active "brand" at Aldi. I have found many low calorie and healthy options through them. Plus, it's dirt cheap.

The steps:

I begin by softening the tortillas by wrapping them in a damp paper towel and zapping them in the micro for 10 seconds.

I then scramble up the egg whites. Two tablespoons will do the trick. I also add a bit of salt and pepper during this stage.


I then layer two slices of ham down the middle of the tortilla.


Plop the eggs on top and sprinkle a bit of cheese.


And voila! A low calorie, healthy and homemade breakfast treat!