February 24, 2014

Foundation Brushes 101

Complexion Brushes


Do you ever look at all the brushes out there that say they're made for foundation or concealer and start getting a little sweaty under the pits? Don't feel bad...it happens to everyone. It's easy to understand why it can be so daunting when you have liquid foundation, cream foundation, powder foundation, mineral foundation, BB cream, cake foundation....and the list just KEEPS GROWING!! Well if choosing the correct foundation type for your skin is not confusing enough, then you have to figure out which damn brush or tool to use to apply it! I'm going to begin our lesson with some of my favorite brushes and what they're good for. When we're finished with today's lesson, I will do a separate post on which type of foundation is best for your skin type. Pay attention! This may be what you need to take your foundation game from amateur to professional!

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1 | I talk about this brush a lot. Wanna know why? Because it rocks my socks off. I was introduced to this brush when I worked for Nordstrom and I'm so happy about it. It is perfect (which explains the name). This brush is designed to be used with all formulations (liquid, cream or powder) but it is my FAVORITE to use for fuller coverage liquid and cream foundations. It has very tightly packed bristles that are just ever-so-slightly tapered so you can get in all the nooks and crannies. To use: "stipple" product onto the face and use short strokes to blend it in. Sometimes I use small circular strokes and then stipple extra product over the top to get more coverage. Because the surface area of this brush is so small, it is perfect for concentrating product in smaller areas to get maximum coverage (i.e. inner cheeks, around nose, etc).
2 | This brush is a beautiful way to apply liquid foundations and BB creams for when you want a very sheer application. The bristles are so heavenly and light and they glide across the face so delicately. To use: hold this brush handle toward the end (furthest away from bristles) so you get a very light hand. Dab your product onto face where you need coverage and then use this brush to swirl into the skin with a feather-light touch. I use this brush trying never to "press" too hard into the skin but letting it just glide across the face without disturbing the bristles very much if at all. This brush can also be used to apply a very light application of powder to set your foundation. Just make sure you don't use it for liquid foundation first or else the bristles will get grimey and won't deposit the powder correctly. If you use it as a powder brush, use it for just that or else you'll have to wash it AND dry it before you apply powder.

3 | This angled foundation brush is perfect for liquid foundation and is sooooo great for working around the contours of the face. So easy to get right under the eyes and around the nose. Because the bristles are made out of synthetic Taklon, you get the smoothest, almost "airbrushed" finish. This brush is a killer deal at $8 and I love how the bottoms of the Real Techniques brushes are flat so you can stand them up on your counter! You can also find these brushes at Ulta. To use: dab foundation onto skin starting at the center of your face (where the most coverage is usually needed: nose, cheeks, forehead, chin) and blend out towards the outer face and jawline. Make sure to blend down past your jaw so it doesn't look like your face and neck were separated at birth. 
4 | Alright mineral makeup wearers! I haven't forgotten about you! This brush is perfect for applying loose and pressed mineral makeup as well as powder foundations. It's plump and densely packed which are vital components for mineral foundations and powders, but its dome shaped top makes it easy to get your desired coverage (as opposed to using a flat-top brush which can sometimes give too heavy of an application). This brush will still give a full-coverage if needed, just keep building your layers until you get the coverage you need. To use: dab brush directly into powder, tap off any excess into lid (so you don't waste it) and apply in very small circular motions starting at the center of face. This brush will also work to apply your finishing powder or bronzer.

5 | You may be looking at this brush and be thinking "um...Colleen....that's an eyeshadow blending brush, you ninny"...but bear with me! Most people don't need to apply powder all over their face! I know....mind blown, right? Powder is meant to "set" or "finish" your foundation to make sure it lasts and has a flawless finish. More often than not, the only places that need powder are the places that get greasy. Enter this beautiful blending brush. Make sure it has natural hair bristles and not synthetic. PERFECT for applying loose or pressed powder under the eyes to set undereye concealer, around the nose, inner cheeks and between the eyebrows on the forehead. You can make sure to get the perfect amount and lightest touch as to not disturb your foundation and the best part is you don't end up with the dreaded "cakey powder face" look. Blech. To use: lightly dip brush into loose powder, or sweep it across pressed powder, and apply it to nose, around nose, inner cheeks, chin and between the brows.
6 | I'm going to be talking about two different concealer brushes. The first is this angled camouflage concealer brush meant to cover up imperfections and blemishes. The tapered tip makes it ideal for covering the tiniest of dots, spots, scars and marks. To use: gently tap brush into concealer and lightly "dab" onto the offending mark in question. Use the tiny brush tip to gently blend out the surrounding area and set with finishing powder using the above brush from #5.
7 | I loooooooooove this concealer brush. This bad boy is meant for larger areas that need extra coverage like the undereye area and around the nose and mouth. The very cool thing about this brush is it can be used with liquid, cream OR powder concealer. It is the perfect combination of firm and soft and gives the best coverage ever. To use: dip brush into concealer (powder), drag across (cream) or apply concealer to skin using your clean finger (liquid) and use brush to gently blend into skin. For the undereye area, use the flat side of the brush to really pat down the product before you blend it out. Note: NEVER APPLY A LIQUID OR CREAM CONCEALER OR FOUNDATION OVER POWDERED SKIN. If you are a mineral powder foundation wearer, just make sure you apply your concealer first. If you use a powder concealer (like Bare Minerals) that is the only time it is okay to apply concealer over the top of a powder foundation. Period. End of story.
8 | And last but certainly not least, is the Beauty Blender sponge. This little egg-shaped wonder wears many hats and I've said it before and will say it again: THERE IS NO DUPE FOR THE ORIGINAL. Trust me, I've tried them all. Don't waste your money on the imposters, just get the original. This sponge is most commonly used to apply liquid and cream foundations (it's my fave to use with my Revlon Colorstay foundation) but here's where it's multi-tasking duties come into play....it can be used to apply and blend out concealer (using the small pointy end) and also can be used to apply powder if you like a fuller coverage setting powder. To use: run the sponge under luke-warm water giving it a few squeezes to completely dampen it. Squeeze out all the excess water. The sponge should double in size. For foundation: dot foundation all over face and use the fat end of the sponge to stipple and "press" foundation all over the face. Do not sweep and drag the sponge across face. For powder: dip the bottom, fat end into loose powder (or drag across pressed) and press into skin wherever coverage is needed. 
Lastly, I want to take a moment to discuss properly cleaning your brushes. It is so important for your skin health as well as the longevity of your brushes. I clean my brushes once a week, however, if I'm doing makeup on clients or other people, I wash them after EVERY application. Non negotiable. I make sure to wash them at night before bed so that they can dry overnight and be fresh and ready in the morning. Properly cleaning your brushes removes makeup (duh), dead skin, dirt, bacteria and yucky oils. There are M A N Y different types of brush cleaners out there and some even accompany certain brands of brushes. One of my favorite tutorials on how to clean your brushes like a pro is right here, check it out.

Make sure to stay tuned for my next post where I will be covering different foundation types and what types of skin they're best for!


February 19, 2014

Chia Oat Energy Bars {Recipe}



I woke up this morning with a weird craving for some kind of chewy oatmeal bar. A healthy one. So after I got the Bebe situated and fed, I took to the kitchen to start mixing and experimenting. I knew I wanted oats, chia seeds and coconut oil to be included so I just kind of started adding from there and I have to say...these puppies turned out DELISH. They are egg free, dairy free and free of both refined sugar and refined flour. Anytime I want to make a recipe "clean" I typically replace butter with coconut oil, all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour (or whole wheat pastry flour), refined or brown sugar gets replaced with either raw honey or 100% grade A maple syrup and if I want to cut out the egg, I use a chia egg.

I like having things like this on hand so that I can grab them and go, especially if I know I'll be out and about running errands. They keep me from binge-eating scones from Starbucks while I'm on the road. There's nothing more depressing than getting in the car later on and finding a bunch of pastry crumbs on the driver's seat...at least if these bars leave crumbs, they'll just be a reminder that your ass remained disciplined that day.

If you aren't yet familiar with chia seeds, GET ACQUAINTED. Seriously. These little seeds are jam-packed with healthy benefits. Here's a nifty little article that gives you a rundown of why you should be getting jiggy with chia seeds: click me, baby!

After I ate 2 of these bars, I decided I could have probably cut down on the honey added (I used 1/2 cup, but if you don't have much of a sweet tooth, you could cut down to 1/4 cup). Other than that, there's not much else I'd change about this recipe. Here's what I did (recipe below photo)...


Ingredients:
2 c. old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 c. whole wheat flour (I buy mine in bulk at Fred Meyer or Winco)
1/2 c. chia seeds (I buy the Nutiva organic brand from Costco, but you can buy in bulk as well)
1/2 c. unsweetened coconut (optional)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 c. 100% grade A maple syrup
1/2 c. raw honey (you can cut down to 1/4 cup if desired)
1/4 c. molasses
1 tsp vanilla
3 TBS coconut oil, melted (I get the Nutiva organic brand from Costco)
1/2 tsp salt

Directions:
Combine all dry ingredients and mix well in a large bowl, set aside. Melt coconut oil in a separate bowl and whisk in remaining wet ingredients (maple syrup, honey, molasses). Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix well with a wooden spoon. Pour into a greased 9x13 inch dish. I pressed it all down to make it very compact by spraying the back of a spatula with oil (so it wouldn't stick). Bake at 350 degrees for 16-18 minutes. Let bars cool COMPLETELY before cutting into 2x4 squares (or whatever shape blows your skirt up). Voila! Enjoy!



February 17, 2014

Calling all Glasses Wearers!


The other day, when I was packing up allllll the crapola into the car in order to take the Bebe out and about, I dropped my beloved glasses on the garage floor and then proceeded to step on them. Like a bumbling idiot. After I yelled out a bunch of not-so-very-choice words, I picked them up, cradled them in my hands and carried them inside. Obviously I was irritated that I broke my glasses, but I was more annoyed that I was going to have to go through the process of replacing them. I have a love/hate relationship with the eye doctor's office. I have always been fortunate enough to have insurance that covers prescription glasses, however, I still manage to end up walking out of there $300 out of pocket and in the hole. How the hell does that happen?! I think in my specific case, the sales people see that my pupils are dilated to the size of pancakes and think "Hey! Let's show her the designer frames! Since she can't see a damn thing right now, she won't be able to make out the price on the tag!" And you know what? They're right *quietly sobs to self*

I'm going to let you in on a little secret. You can get quality prescription glasses online IF you have your current prescription. The very cool thing is, you can get your prescription from an optometrist in your network for very little money (sometimes, nothing). Contact your insurance company to see which doctors in your area accept your insurance and then make an appointment for an eye exam. Once you provide them with your insurance information and have completed your exam, let them know you do not want to shop for frames, but that you would just like a copy of your prescription (sometimes it helps to let them know this on the phone when you're making your appointment). If you have insurance, usually you just have to pay a co-payment (depending on your insurance) sometimes 100% of the exam cost is covered. If you do not have insurance, eye exams usually cost anywhere between $50 and $100 (or more) depending on where you get your exam. Call around to get the best price, just make sure it is a reputable doctor. This is definitely an example of "you get what you pay for".

Since I have my current prescription, I hopped online just to see if it was something I could do. Imagine my surprise when I discovered a few different websites that let you enter your prescription and then shop for glasses right in the comfort of your own home! Here's exactly what I did:

I chose Coastal.com for a few reasons. They had an incredible selection of frames (including designer frames), their prices were great, they do a "try before you buy" deal to make sure you're happy with your lenses and frames AND they were running a GET YOUR FIRST PAIR FREE offer! I mean.....hellllllll yeah! The "first pair free" deal is on select frames, but I was easily able to choose a pair that qualified and I thought, well if they arrive and I don't like them, I'll just send them back within the 30 days! Luckily, when they arrived (in under 5 days) I was MORE than happy with them! I also chose a second pair that was on sale for $50 that I could use as a backup pair. This is such a great option for folks who don't have insurance or just don't want the pressure of dealing with the pushy sales people at LensCrafters (or wherever.....) If you click the above link (here it is again) it will take you to their main page, then at the very top of their main page, right next to all of their social media icons (right above the Coastal logo) you will see "GET YOUR FIRST PAIR FREE". Once you click that, it will take you to all the frames that are included in the offer. You can then narrow down your search on the left hand side so you don't have to wade through a bunch of frames you'd never wear. I like the nerdy-chic look so I always choose "plastic", "wayfarer" and some type of tortoise shell color. The pair I'm wearing pictured above is called "Joseph Marc 4111" in color "Black Tortoise". The other pair I ordered is called Love L746 in "Brown Tort". The other totally fun part is you can upload a picture of yourself (great excuse to snap a selfie) and then virtually try on any pair you want! Here's the pic I uploaded (on the left) and then an example of how accurate their virtual try-on function is:

Make sure you use code: FIRSTPAIRFREE at checkout! It will ask you for all your prescription information, here's what mine looks like (below) just to get an idea of what you're looking for. If you know anything about eyes, don't make fun of how blind I am. I pretty much wear coke bottle glasses. DEAL WITH IT. Anyhoo, they'll have you enter all your info into little drop down boxes (totally idiot proof). Hope this helps or at least gives you another shopping option! Let me know in the comments section if you have any questions!

     Eye                  SPH            CYL          AXIS           PD
OD (Right)          -1.00          -2.00          100            63

OS (Left)            -1.25          -2.25           80
February 9, 2014

20 Beauty Finds Under $3!

20 Beauty Finds Under $3

Sometimes I like to wander around in drugstores. It doesn't happen often (especially now that I have a toddler in tow most of the time) but when I have time to myself to really dink around, I love discovering hidden gems within all the aisles. Over the years, I have found MANY duds, however, I have stumbled upon quite a few amazing things that are effective and thrifty! Here are my top 20 items that I seem to always be replenishing.

1 | NYX Cosmetics Loose Pearl Eyeshadow (NYX.com $3) If you haven't worked with loose pigments, the possibilities are endless. NYX has 30 shades in their collection and the color payoff is UH-mazing for $3! These are most commonly used on the eyes, but you can use them on the cheeks, as highlighters or you can even mix them into clear lipgloss to make your own shade! I've even added pigments over the top of freshly applied lipstick to get a "tailor-made" color and texture. Play around with them! My favorite colors are: "Mink", "Space", "Penny", "Fantasy" and "Charcoal".
2 | I will say some of the e.l.f. Studio Brushes are absolutely great for under $3. I will also say that the brushes e.l.f. makes that have white handles are GARBAGE as well as the brightly colored "Gem" collection. Just stick with the all black "Studio" brushes from their line. These are the ones I have specifically worked with and I gotta say, for the price, these guys aren't too shabby! The Complexion brush, the Angled Foundation brush, the Powder brush, the Small Angled brush, and the Mascara & Shadow Shield. Would I recommend replacing your higher quality makeup brushes with these ones? Absolutely not. However, these are incredible brushes for travel, or if you keep an emergency makeup kit (see #7) in your car for touch ups.
3 | I love love love the Wet n Wild matte lipsticks! They're like, $2 at my local drugstore which means I have just about every color. If you buy them in-store, the shade range is pretty impressive (greater selection than online). They are a bit more drying than a higher quality matte lipstick, so I just make sure to exfoliate really well beforehand and to put a good lip balm on before I apply. For the price, it's a great way to experiment with a matte color you may not be too sure about. My all time favorite is called "Cherry Bomb".
4 | e.l.f. Tone Correcting Powder Palette. For $3, this is a great setting powder. I use all the colors swirled together, but if you have areas that need specific correction, (ex. red areas = apply green powder, purple circles under eyes = apply yellow powder, sallow areas = apply blueish powder, dull areas = apply pink powder) you can apply them individually if needed. Pretty light, sheer coverage and it's surprisingly milled pretty finely for the price. You can also pick these up at Target.
5 | This e.l.f. Studio Contouring Blush and Bronzer is a dupe for NARS Blush/Bronzer Duo. Here's the diff: it's not as highly pigmented and doesn't last quite as long. That being said, the bronzer part of the e.l.f. palette is worth the $3 itself. The blush is very pretty but very light and doesn't have the best staying power. This is a great little cheapy duo for learning how to contour or if you just need a pretty, shimmery blush and bronzer.
6 | I've been buying Wet n Wild Glassy Gloss for what seems like forever. These are yummy-tasting, inexpensive and not goopy at all. Very pretty sheer wash of color with a little shimmer.
7 | YOU GUYS. These little Essence nail polishes are SO great! They're only $1.99 and they have that awesome rounded brush that makes it super simple to "wriggle" it down nice and close to your cuticle. I have a few colors of this stuff and it seriously lasts as long as my Deborah Lippmann polishes which cost like, 8x the amount! My fave shade is called "Oh My Glitter" which is the prettiest lilac purple. You can find these at Ulta or if you have Fred Meyer stores in your area, the Essence display in the cosmetics section is to DIE for.
8 | I am a sucker for individual flare eyelashes! They take a bit of practice, but in my humble opinion, I think they are way easier to apply than strip lashes. You can use these guys to fill in "sparse" areas of your lashes OR you can apply a ton of them to get really dramatic looking, full lashes without the obvious "I'm wearing falsies!!" look. Ardell makes really great inexpensive ones and I never feel badly about throwing them away after each use because they are so cheap. I use DUO eyelash adhesive with them....it's the best.
9 | I looooove grabbing travel sizes of hair products. There's something so nice about having salon-quality hair products when you're traveling. Redken's All Soft Heavy Cream Super Treatment has been a long-time favorite of mine, and they make a little mini size that you can stash in your travel bag when you need some deep conditioning.
10 | Okay, I think this one is more nostalgic than anything. But Wet n Wild MegaSlicks Lip Gloss is the bomb! It's SUPER shiny and really conditioning and doesn't feel thick on the lips. I love "Strawberry Ice" and "Mauve-jave Dessert" and will continue buying them until they are discontinued.
11 | Covergirl Eye Enhancers in "Tapestry Taupe" is a must-have. It's a perfect all-over lid color and the pigment is really nice for the price. "Champagne" is also a beautiful highlighter for under the brow area.
12 | This stuff is the TRUTH! e.l.f. Makeup Lock & Seal. Seriously, if you've ever wanted to lock-in your eyeliner or intensify your eyeshadow, this stuff will get the job done. I mostly use it to seal my liquid eyeliner in place, but you can actually mix a drop of it with loose pigment (see #1) to make a budge-proof creaseless shadow. Benefit used to make one called SHE LAC that I was obsessed with, but it's been discontinued (why does that always happen?!) This one isn't quite as magical, but for $3, it's pretty darn close.
13 | I always stash Yes to Cucumbers facial cleansing towelettes in my gym bag, nightstand, travel kit, etc. for quick makeup removal. They smell like (you guessed it) cucumbers, they're really calming to the skin and they do a decent job at removing eye makeup.
14 | Almay Makeup Remover Pads (travel size). These really do such an amazing job. Even at removing waterproof eye makeup. They're hypo-allergenic, dermatologist and ophthalmologist tested and safe for contact lens wearers. I like oil free for everyday use, but the moisturizing formula is great for removing waterproof mascara.
15 | I talk about these little orbs constantly on my blog. They're my FAVE. Eos Smooth Lip Balm Sphere. I have them in every single flavor. My husband thinks they look absolutely ridiculous and laughs at me every time I apply it in front of him. But they're super smooth and they have shea butter and jojoba oil in them which I LOVE. I've seen multi-packs of these at Costco, so if you see them, pick one up!
16 | I couldn't believe these little suckers were only $1.99! I seriously grab one every time I go to the drugstore. Same brand as the above lip balm, Eos makes these hand lotions in a cute little ergonomically correct container! I like the cucumber one. It absorbs really fast so if I'm in the car, I can apply it and my hands don't slip all over my steering wheel! Safety first!
17 | I have been a fan of Neutrogena facial cleansing bars ever since junior high. They W O R K. I usually use the original formula because I love the clean scent, but they make a fragrance free bar that's great for sensitive skin and an acne-prone bar that has a bit of salicylic acid in it. A lot of times you can find multi-packs of these that make them around $2 a bar. Score!
18 | A must-have for every makeup bag. You never know when you're going to need to fix an eye makeup flub or clean up a funky lip liner snaffu. I love that these double sided swabs come in a hard case so they don't get all grimey and germ infested.
19 | I was sooo excited when I discovered Swisspers made organic cotton cosmetic rounds! Call me a geek, but they are so much better! They use really high quality "virgin staple fiber", it's grown purely on organic farms, and they are NOTICEABLY softer. I think these ones are more absorbent, too.
20 | Maybelline Expert Wear Twin Brow & Eye Pencils. These have been around FOREVER. They are incredible brow pencils and I always have them on hand. The red pencils are kind of iconic and they come in a two-pack. Such a killer deal.

So if you find yourself wandering the aisles of your drugstore, give these bad boys a try! For under $3, you don't have much to lose!

February 3, 2014

What to Give Your Gal for Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day - Lady Edition


Although this adorable collage above looks like it's intended for women, it's a cheat sheet for the guys. Feel free to print it off and leave it front-and-center on the refrigerator or tucked into his pillow case. If he doesn't get the hint after that, well....you're on your own, sister.

Seriously, guys: PUT DOWN THE SKIMPY (and scratchy) LINGERIE and PAY ATTENTION. It's not that we don't appreciate getting pretty "under-pinnings" but there is a fine art to selecting quality lingerie items that we'll actually wear more than once (you know exactly what I'm talking about) and thoughtful gifts she can actually use will take you much further in the long run. Here's what we got...

1 | There is nothing more romantic than a guy coming home with a big, beautiful dress box with a big bow on it. Here is a scene (skip to 3:30 in) from Sex and the City where Carrie is surprised with a beautiful pink dress she found in Vogue and mentioned to her boyfriend. Well, HE REMEMBERED and bought it for her. Something about your man picking out a great dress that he knows you'll love and he'd love to see you in is just so dreamy and old-fashioned. It just seems like something Don Draper would do! If it makes you break out in a cold sweat just thinking of dress shopping FOR your lady, get her a gift card to Rent the Runway. Trust me on this, she will think you're the coolest guy ever. It's kind of like Netflix for designer dresses. Tell her to pick out a dress online and as soon as it arrives, you'll take her to her favorite restaurant (don't make her tell you what it is...you should know what it is and already have the reservation made). I promise you will be the talk of the town if you pull this one off.
2 | Makeup! If you show up with a wrapped box with the Urban Decay 'Naked3' eyeshadow palette in it, she will squeal with excitement. Every woman wants this palette. It's new, it's amazing, it's in-demand and she will most definitely brag to her girlfriends that her man picked it out for her. Plus, it kind of looks like a little box of chocolates filled with beautiful rose-gold shadows in it. Flattering for anyone! Keeping with the makeup topic, these Urban Decay 'Naked' Lipglosses just came out a few weeks ago and they are incredible. Colors "Liar", "Nooner" and "Naked" are really universally-flattering shades Pick one out to go with her eyeshadow palette and she'll be thrilled!
3 | A pretty, crystal ring holder to go on her nightstand. This Kate Spade one is SO cute and has very faint polka dots on it! Bonus points if you find her a cool ring to go on it! She will adore the thoughtfulness! 
4 | A leather wristlet. This Valentine's-esque one by Coach is perfect for the upcoming holiday! These little guys are perfect for those times she's going out with the girls and just wants to carry her ID, debit card, lipgloss and her phone. How cool would it be if you got her this and tucked a little voucher inside that says "Good for 1 night out with your girlfriends on me"....um...I can almost guarantee a trip to first base if you do this one.
5 | If you like getting your gal pajamas for Valentine's Day, this cute sleep shirt would be a fun departure from the trusty flannel ones! I have a ton of these. They're incredibly comfy and they come in a bunch of colors and prints. They're $35 each OR you can pick out 2 for $49.50! My favorite is this "Let's Sleep In" one.
6 | Jewelry. Hear me out, guys. You don't have to drop thousands of dollars on jewelry. There are some really amazing, quality pieces out there for much less and they will get SO much more wear than a pair of diamond studs that she's too nervous to wear other than for special occasions. It doesn't have to be pink (I was trying to stick with the Valentine theme for the collage). Find something in her favorite color (a watch with a green face, a pair of earrings in her favorite shade of blue, a ring with her favorite color stone in the middle...you get the picture). If she happens to like pink here are the links for the amazing pink and rose gold Marc by Marc Jacobs watch above, the BEAUTIFUL Kendra Scott oval drop earrings (which also come in just about every color you could ever imagine) and the simple but classic gold Kate Spade "Love" cuff bracelet (I want this). 
7 | If it's just not Valentine's Day unless you buy your Sweetie some sweets (see what I did there?) why not try something different and get her a box of French Macaroons? Trust me, she will TOTALLY love opening this. You can either choose the pre-selected box of flavors or you can create your own and choose from flavors like "Creme Brulee", "Chocolate Passionfruit", "Lychee Rose" and "Pumpkin Cinnamon" (there are 30 FLAVORS to choose from!) If she's a classic chocolate-lover (really, who isn't?) then this box of artsy-fartsy looking chocolates will totally surprise her! With flavors like "Roasted Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar" and "Blood Orange", this box of chocolates will impress the pantaloons right off her body. You are VERY welcome for that one.
8 | Got yourself a "do-gooder"? Grab her a pair of TOMS and feel good knowing you also provided a pair of shoes to a child in need (tell her about it if she's unfamiliar with how TOMS work!) The above pair is brand new for Spring and my favorite right now. They are called the Pink Space-Dyed Women's Classics.
9 | A meaningful necklace. I looooooove these necklaces. The one to the left is called the "Together Forever" necklace and has 2 inter-connected circles made from 14kt gold and sterling silver, respectively. The one to the right is called the "You Are My Sunshine" necklace and has a combo of silver, gold and rose gold charms. It needs to be noted that if you order either of these necklaces, the packaging that they do is INSANELY ADORABLE. Translation: you won't have to gift wrap because the boxes are so damn cute you won't want to cover them up.
10 | For as long as I can remember, my dad has always bought my mom new perfume for Valentine's Day or Christmas. They've been married over 30 years. Now, I'm not saying that buying your lady perfume will guarantee a lifetime of happiness, but I will say that it is one of those romantic gestures that goes a long way. I think it's absolutely adorable. Here's the tricky part...perfume is very personal. So, if you know your gal has a favorite, stick with that one. Sometimes certain perfumes will come out with different variations on popular scents. For example, Coach makes "Poppy" which is one of their best-sellers (and what I currently wear) , so they introduced "Poppy Flower", "Poppy Freesia Blossom" and "Poppy Citrine Blossom" to add variety. Find out if her favorite scent has a related "sister scent" by doing some research online or asking a sales associate. If she doesn't wear a particular perfume and you want to surprise her, I put two of my all time favorites above if you are totally clueless. They are very different from each other. The Calvin Klein "Euphoria" to the left is warm, sexy and sophisticated. The Chanel "Coco Mademoiselle" is very feminine and light, almost sweet and fruity but still has a luxuriousness to it. Little side note if you were ever wondering: if something says "Parfum" it means it's more highly concentrated (stronger) and a little bit goes a long way which is usually why it is more expensive. If it says "Eau de Toilette" it means it is a lighter scent or a lighter version of a "parfum" and much more subtle.

There you have it. 10 ideas to get the wheels spinning. If all else fails, thoughtfulness goes a long way. You don't have to spend a million dollars, but for Pete's sake...do NOT go on a tirade about how Valentine's Day is a made up holiday, created by greeting card companies to make money. I guarantee she will tune you out and then make a mental note to "have a headache" later on.

What to Give Your Guy for Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day - Man Edition

Sometimes it's hard to come up with gift ideas for your guy for Valentine's Day. Call it unfair, but it just seems like a holiday geared towards the lady-folk (hey, no complains from this side of the computer). I found some really fun and quirky things that any guy would like and they sure as hell beat opening a pair of silk, lip-printed boxers.

1 | I'm kind of proud of myself for this idea so if you use it....you're welcome. If your guy loves Porterhouse steaks as much as my old man, then this would be SUCH a great idea. If you have a local butcher, I recommend visiting them in person and hand-selecting your items (great way to support your local farmers)...however, if that's not an option for you, Dean & Deluca does two 20oz, USDA choice grade angus beef, wet-aged, 1in thick Porterhouse steaks that are shipped "Next Day" to ensure freshness. It's one-side New York strip and one-side tender filet mignon. And I DON'T want to know what you offered to do to get him to let you have the 2nd steak. 
2 | Maple Bacon Chapstick. Picture this: your man is hanging out with a friend, he reaches for some chapstick because his "lips hurt real bad" and his buddy looks at him like he's wearing a pink dress. All he has to do is utter the words "Maple. Bacon. Flavored." Manhood restored. Crisis = averted.
3 | Got a beer lover on your hands? Maybe he can get some beer on his. Beer soap, that is. This stuff is scented like pumpkin lager. Cheers!
4 | It wouldn't be Valentine's Day without red, right? This red and navy plaid button-down shirt is the perfect blend of comfy and stylish and the price is just right.
5 | Every time I make a pun at home, my husband looks at me like he wants to push me over. This pillow is funny to me. If you have a guy who appreciates a good pun, this "I Wheelie Like You" pillow is perfect.
6| If your man-piece has trouble expressing himself in words, make it easy on the poor bastard and give him this rotating Valentine stamp. With phrases like "I Want You", "Let's Make Out" and "Not Gonna Happen" (amongst others) there is a line for every mood!
7 | These Sukat Makkaralla ("socks rolled down") tumblers look slouchy, relaxed and cool. Perfect to sip his favorite Scotch from.
8 | Don't laugh. When my brother and I were little kids, we used to borrow the neighbor's tandem bike and ride around the neighborhood. I rarely let him be in the front, because, well, I like control. This one looks sporty and fun and would be such a cool way for two dorky kids two lovebirds to get around town. With a 5 out of 5 star rating on Amazon, it's a great deal for under $300! Nothing says "romance" like 2 healthy, pumping hearts!
9 | Ready to toss out your guy's nasty-ass, chewed up sneakers? If you do, make sure you replace them with these Paul Rodriguez 7 sneakers by Nike. Then maybe you won't have to hear him complain like a little beeyotch for 2 weeks after he can't find his beloved old ones.
10 | This shirt. THIS SHIRT. This thing speaks for itself. This is one of those t-shirts I would have to administer brute force to remove from my husband's body because he would try to wear it every. single. day.

There ya go! Hopefully you can get at least one idea from this list! And fret not, my pets. I have put together an even better (in my humble opinion) list of ideas for you to print off and leave out for your man so he doesn't end up buying you ridiculously cheesy lingerie that you'll never wear as long as you're alive.

Xoxo!
February 2, 2014

Lazy Girl Beauty | Tips on Looking Great in Under 10 Minutes

We've ALL been there. Those mornings we hit the snooze button a record amount of time overslept because something was obviously defective with our cell phone alarm, right?? Why is it that those are the times our hair is at its greasiest, our skin is less-than-dewy, our under eye circles are black as tar and we have nothing to wear? It's like the entire universe is hell bent on screwing us as hard as it can. Let me share with you some tricks I've acquired over the years. These simple and helpful little nuggets will get you out the door looking polished and put-together. Like you woke up on time, ate a balanced breakfast, did a morning workout, took a leisurely shower and primped and preened before heading out for your day. When in reality, you stayed up too late the night before binge-watching Breaking Bad and drinking wine and just HAD to have that extra 10 minutes (okay, 40 minutes) of sleep. Hopefully these tips will save you enough time to roll through the Starbucks drive-thru to get yourself a quad grande skinny vanilla latte to set your mind right.

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1. Makeup removing wipes. If you have 2 working hands, use one to brush your teeth, and the other to run a pre-moistened facial cleansing wipe like this (Simple Cleansing Facial Wipes) all over your mug. Remove that grease from your face while removing the grime from your teeth. Boom. Look at you multi-tasking!


2. Slap on a CC cream to entire face and blend down to your neck (this one is my all time favorite: Pur Minerals CC Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 40) it includes moisturizer, brightener, concealer and SPF in ONE PRODUCT. It's a little bit spendier than the drugstore versions, but this one is legit. It is light and creamy, yet offers incredible coverage and brightens the entire face. You may find that after you apply this, you don't even need extra concealer. I have yet to find a CC cream that I feel this strongly about.

3. I have 2 words for you that will change your life: Dry Shampoo. Serrrrrrriously, ladies. If you don't have this stuff stashed all over the place, YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG....and by "it" I mean "life". Not only does it soak up all the greasies, but it removes that "dirty hair smell" and the added bonus is, it adds incredible volume to lackluster strands. There are some really great dry shampoos and there are some terrible ones (notably bad: TreSemme and Oscar Blandi). Luckily for you, I have tried just about every single one out there and these are my all time favorites. Take a look at our home girl Cameron here...then venture down below for my picks.


Kenra Platinum Dry Shampoo Refresh & Revive (works great and smells like Dole Pineapple Whip)
Batiste Dry Shampoo Original Clean (a classic that works great for under $10 and comes in different colors and scents)
Dove Style+Care Refresh Dry Shampoo (thrifty gals rejoice! This is a KILLER dry shampoo for under $5!! It really does work incredibly well and it smells fresh but not overpowering). Kind of hard to track this one down online but you can most likely find it in person at your local drugstore.
Klorane Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk (I love love love this dry shampoo. It smells clean, doesn't leave a residue and the oat milk is calming to the scalp so you don't get the "itchies".)

4. Double and triple-duty beauty products. What I mean by this is, anything you can use on more than one area of your face so that you don't have 30 different products to worry about slapping on your mug. Blush that doubles as lip stain. A foundation stick that can also be used as concealer. Mascara and shadow in one tube...you get the picture. Less products to rifle around looking for in the morning = precious time saved. Here are a few of my steady-eddies that have saved me more than once under pressure.
Bobbi Brown Bobbi Brown Foundation Stick (above) apply straight out of the tube onto trouble spots (forehead, nose chin and inner cheeks) and then use your clean fingers to blend out. Apply an extra layer under eyes and "set" with a finely milled powder.
Lipstick Queen Oxymoron Lip & Cheek Color - Color - Honest Politician (above) use your fingers to apply to apples of cheeks, lips and eyelids for a pretty "flushed" glow.
Smashbox Brow Tech To Go Taupe (above) one of the best brow pencils around. This one kicks ass because it also has a brow gel on the other end to brush wiley brows into submission.


e.l.f. Eyeliner and Shadow Stick (above) I really dig the brown/basic color. It has a chocolate brown liner one one end and a really pretty champagne shadow on the other end. Use one end, flip it over and use the other!

5. Have a "go-to" hair style mastered that you can do with your eyes closed. Have long, flowing locks? Master the art of the chignon or the messy side braid. Tailored bob? Try tucking one side behind your ear with a chic bobby pin. Pixie cut? Wear it sleek and polished à la Twiggy or intentionally messy like Jennifer Lawrence with a good, matte finish pomade. I made you lovelies a little collage of some of my favorite hairstyles right now. Give 'em a gander...

6. K-I-S-S which stands for: Keep it simple, stupid. This of course is in reference to your outfit. Now is not the time to try to master the art of mixing patterns like you saw Sarah Jessica Parker doing so effortlessly last week. Keep your pieces classic and if all else fails, stick with all black (or other dark pieces). They look tailored and sharp as opposed to sloppy and thrown together (like brights and patterns sometimes look when they aren't chosen carefully). If you MUST add a pop of color, toss on ONE piece of statement jewelry and then, seriously, call it good. Check out places like Zara, H&M, Gap and Banana Republic for pieces that are classic, well-made and tailored. It's always best to start with a solid base (your outfit) and add-on from there with pieces like this...




7. Last but certainly not least, always have a "stash" in your car's glove compartment. This emergency kit should include: deodorant, disposable toothbrushes (I LOOOOOVE those little Colgate Wisp thingys that have a brush on one end and a little pick on the other and there's toothpaste IN the brush so there's no need for water!) <-- that one should be a total last resort as there is NO substitute for brushing your teeth. Also, BB or CC cream, some hair elastics and bobby pins (or a sock bun kit), a tube of mini mascara and a pretty lipgloss. It's kind of like insta-beauty, MacGyver style.



 
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