Friday, January 30, 2015

Superbowl - Buffalo Dip


This gooey, cheesey, delicious  dip is what I always bring  to Superbowl parties as it's always a crowd pleaser! In the past I've used Morning Star Farms chik'n strips or Quorn chik'n cutlets but neither brand makes those anymore, so I've listed some alternatives below. Whatever imitation meat you pick up, just make sure it's not breaded. However it's not really necessary to the recipe, just gives the dish some more protein. Trust me you'll want to try this unique, melted, spicy delicious dip! You can double the recipe for more.

Ingredients:
  • 1 package of vegetarian chick'n strips (either Lightlife Smart Strips Chick'n style or Morning Star Grillers Chik'n Veggie patties cut into strips) 
  • 8oz packages of reduced fat cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup reduced fat ranch salad dressing
  • 1/3 cup Frank's hot sauce
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup blue cheese dressing
  • 1 celery stalk
  • fresh cilantro
  • 1 tomato

Directions:



  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  • Heat olive oil in large skillet. Stir in celery; cook until soft. Mix in the cream cheese, blue cheese dressing, and ranch dressing. Cook and stir until smooth and creamy. Stir in the shredded chicken and hot sauce. Spoon mixture into an 8x8 baking dish. Sprinkle with the shredded cheese.
  • Bake in preheated oven until golden and bubbly, about 30 minutes.
  • Top with diced tomato and cilantro.




  • Wednesday, January 28, 2015

    How to stop makeup FLASHBACK

    Has this ever happened to you? Makeup that didn't photograph well showcasing obvious under eye concealer. Well it's happened to me and looks like I'm in good company, looking I put my makeup on in the dark. lol 
    This phenomenon is called a "flashback" and it happens when light  flashes back off of your face making your face look lighter than you body because of reflective formulas in your makeup. Your  makeup looks perfect in natural lighting so you're horrified to see how you look once the flash hit you. The two photos below were taken the same day, makeup was not refreshed because I have an aversion to doing so and always make sure to set it right the first time around, hence I tend to have a heavy hand applying makeup. I can go to work with my whole face done in the morning and still look exactly the same for happy hour. I will only drink out of straws during the day to not mess up my lipstick. lol I know the the lipstick looks different in the pics but I always wear the same shade and had not eaten prior to these pics and actually stopped carrying my lipstick in my purse because I never remember to reapply so I thought why do I keep carrying it out? lol So I don't know how the different in the pics other than lighting.
    I'm addicted to watching makeup how to videos on youtube and it seems like everyone is wearing false lashes which I think look fabulous on the right person. I used to wear lashes for special occasions like NYE but I guess I stopped because my natural lashes are pretty long and with the advent of women wearing lashes daily I feel its cheapened the look of special occasion lashes. I absolutely love the way KimK's lashes look so I thought I'd give it another try. I bought some human hair eyes lashes for $12 (one pair), don't judge but hey I wanted the best on the market! lol I feel false lashes look best with full face makeup so I started wearing under eye concealer which is not really my thing because I feel right now I'm lucky enough not to have an under eye problem. But I thought I'd use it to get a more uniform look. In the daylight it looked just fine but with flash, holy moly look at the half white moon affect under my eyes!

    The ingredient to look out for is your concealer/foundation/powder is titanium dioxide/mica, but only when they are active ingredients (meaning in high concentrations). So I looked up the ingredients for all of my concealers, interesting enough that many brands do not list it on their website, and sure enough everything I own has it. So the trick is to cover your concealer with powder that does not contain that ingredient. Mineral makeup does not contain it. MAC Mineralize Skin Finish Natural is a good option.

    But if your makeup containers SPF that is made up of Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Oxide particles, these are pure white and they certainly show up like that on camera. if you're thinking you'll be able to get away with using your everyday moisturizer packed with SPF underneath your makeup without it showing through; think again. Skip HD. Remember that HD (high definition) makeup doesn't mean you'll photograph well. Some HD products photograph beautifully in flash photography but we must remember that HD makeup is designed for on film makeup (think TV Shows, Movies, Etc) not necessarily flash photography. Most HD makeup contains silica which can photograph white so it’s best to skip HD makeup just to be safe. 

    This is probably something you never thought of, but it's now a priority to me to make sure my makeup looks flawless and photograph well when I go out at night.

    Monday, January 26, 2015

    Winter Reading List



    The theme for these books are books that are being turned into movies in 2015.


    Serena (P.S.) - Ron Rash

    The novel is set in the mountains of North Carolina in 1929 during the Great Depression with the young timber baron Pemberton and his new wife Serena set forth to create a timber empire. She prefers pants instead of dresses and demands to be treated as an equal to the men. As the female heroine of the book she can be described as brutal, ruthless, uncompromising, beautiful, cruel, power hungry, ruthless, greedy and a revengeful character.

    Each chapter is narrated by a different character, one being Rachel Harmon, a young girl who was pregnant by George Pemberton before Serena came into his life. Both Serena and George immediately made clear to Rachel that neither she nor her son Jacob will ever get anything from them. The Pembertons  remove anyone from their path that bothers them, by death. 
    The author paints a vivid picture of the hardships of the lumber camp with so many trees falling on workers.  The chapters written by the lumberjack employees were hardest to read especially with the local dialects and not being able to remember which character is which since none of them had been given any distinct personalities.  

    The book had a slow start for me,  but it quickly become my nightly read before I went to sleep. The writing is beautiful as if he was writing poetry in the beauty of the descriptions. If you like dark  novels where almost nothing good happens this is the book for you. The movie comes out March 27 and you can watch the trailer here

    The Light Between Oceans - M.L. Stedman
    I absolutely loved this book! I finished it in 4 days! The vivid descriptions in this book describe things like blue starfish and how a lighthouse works. The complex, rich characters are developed very nicely and I thought it was a great story that the author told very well. Steven Spielberg is turning this New York Times bestseller into a movie this fall. 

    The book centers around Tom Sherbourne who returns from WWII to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, an isolated island. The supply boat comes once a season and Tom's allowed to return to shore every 3 years. Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.
    Tom, who keeps meticulous records and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel insists the baby is a "gift from God," and against Tom's judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them. My favorite quotes from the book are:
    "You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day."
    "I've learned the hard way that to have any kind of a future you've got to give up hope of ever changing your past."


    Zookeepers Wife - Diane Ackerman
    When Germany invaded Poland, Stuka bombers devastated Warsaw—and the city's zoo along with it. With most of their animals dead, zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski began smuggling Jews into empty cages. Another dozen "guests" hid inside the Zabinskis' villa, emerging after dark for dinner, socializing, and, during rare moments of calm, piano concerts. Jan, active in the Polish resistance, kept ammunition buried in the elephant enclosure and stashed explosives in the animal hospital. Meanwhile, Antonina kept her unusual household afloat, caring for both its human and its animal inhabitants—otters, a badger, hyena pups, lynxes. This book is not a novel, it's a book based on Antonina's diary with other historical facts of what it was like to live in Warsaw during WWII. 






    Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - Ransom Riggs only $4 on amazon 
    As a kid, Jacob formed a special bond with his grandfather over his bizarre tales and photos of levitating girls and invisible boys. Now at 16, he is reeling from the old man's unexpected death. Then Jacob is given a mysterious letter that propels him on a journey to the remote Welsh island where his grandfather grew up. There, he finds the children from the photographs--alive and well--despite the islanders’ assertion that all were killed decades ago. As Jacob begins to unravel more about his grandfather’s childhood, he suspects he is being trailed by a monster only he can see. A haunting and out-of-the-ordinary read, debut author Ransom Rigg’s first-person narration is convincing and absorbing, and every detail he draws our eye to is deftly woven into an unforgettable whole. Interspersed with photos throughout, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is a truly atmospheric novel with plot twists, turns, and surprises that will delight readers of any age. 




    Dark Places - Gillian Flynn  only $3 on amazon and #8 book on the top sellers list. This thriller is from the author of Gone Girl and tells the story of Libby Day, whose mother and sisters were murdered at the family's farmhouse when she was only 7. Her testimony sent her older brother, Ben, to prison for life, and 25 years later, Libby decides to meet with the Kill Club, a group of crime enthusiasts who investigate the case and force her to rethink what really happened. This is a dark, twisted book that you shouldn't in the dark.








    Brooklyn - Colm Tóibín
    Eilis Lacey has come of age in small-town Ireland in the years following World War Two. Though skilled at bookkeeping, she cannot find a job in the miserable Irish economy. When an Irish priest from Brooklyn to sponsor Eilis in America -- to live and work in a Brooklyn neighborhood "just like Ireland" -- she decides she must go, leaving her fragile mother and her charismatic sister behind. 

    Eilis finds work in a department store on Fulton Street, and when she least expects it, finds love. Tony, a blond Italian from a big family, slowly wins her over with patient charm. He takes Eilis to Coney Island and Ebbets Field, and home to dinner in the two-room apartment he shares with his brothers and parents. He talks of having children who are Dodgers fans. But just as Eilis begins to fall in love with Tony, devastating news from Ireland threatens the promise of her future. 





      

    Friday, January 23, 2015

    Innovative Products




    Keysocks $12
    These no show socks are an awesome alternative to footies that always slide off your feet.  Now you can wear socks with your favorite flats or heels without having to adjust every five minutes.
    They use a revolutionary process that converts coffee residue into an eco-friendly, soft fiber. How cool is that?!

    They cut-out at the top of the foot so you still get that no sock look yet at the same time keeps your leg warm during this season. The only thing I didn't like about it is that there's a blue cross on the back on it so if your pants aren't super long, it will be seen. I bought my pair off of amazon.



    Bluapple Ethylene Gas Absorber- 2 Apples 2 Bluapples $10
    I put these in my crisper drawer which had a bell pepper in it. It kept my bell pepper fresh for weeks! I eat them regularly and find that they don't last that long in the fridge so I'm really impressed with this product. Like your Brita filter these last for 3 months then you switch out the absorber refills to prolong the freshness of the storage life of your fruits and vegetables. You can find them at Bed, Bath and Beyond, it's half the price than on amazon.

    Crazy Creek Chair $15
    It's a revolutionary lightweight, portable chair with back support that holds its shape and you can use for outdoor concerts where you're sitting in the grass, football games, or canoes. Basically anywhere you go where you'll be sitting and need a light portable chair that provides back support. I love my chair! 

    Sephora just released their Spring Favorites boxes. It's a collection of their top selling products at a fraction of the price. These limited edition boxes are a real steal and they sell out. 

    Beauty Closet $99 ($298 value) which includes some of my favorites: Anastasia Beverly Hills Mini Clear Brow Gel, BareMinerals Mini READY Touch Up Veil, Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil, Ole Henriksen truth serum collagen booster (which I reviewed here) to name a few.

    The Great Cleanse $46 ($126 value)
    It was created to let you try all the newness and innovation in cleansing by offering some of the very best products. Featuring makeup removing cleansers, cleansing water formulas, cleansing oils and powders, and an exfoliating Konjac Cleansing Sponge (which I reviewed here), this set includes all your essentials to perfectly clean, refreshed, and hydrated skin. 


    Shoes to Shiraz | Two Teens and their Mama | A Lovely Little Wardrobe | R Squared 
    Confessions of a Frumpy Mommy | Family Love Inspiration Education  
    The Mishaps and Mayhem of Solitary Life | The Blondissima Positively Learning | Quilty Joy Joy
     Daily Style Finds | Sheila's Potpourri | Puppies and Pretties She thought She could Foxy's Domestic Side | Once Upon a Time & Happily Ever After | Sprinkled Just Right



                                     

    Wednesday, January 21, 2015

    MAC Cosmetics haul!


    I haven't bought MAC makeup in awhile as the last thing I bought was the Rihanna collection. I've given up sunless tanning to not clog my skin so I needed to refill my basics in lighter colors, so this is what happened. I was at the MAC counter and an hour later I found the right products and colors for me after some trial and error. Here's what I got:

    Mineralize Foundation/Loose $32 in Light Plus
    I'm not a foundation kind of person, I like to see my skin especially since my skin is clear. But I wanted something to give my skin a more finished appearance when I do my evening makeup looks. I also wanted something without mica in it so I can set my undereye concealer with. This foundation gives sheer to medium natural looking coverage.  Loose powders tend to contain less oils than the pressed ones so it's good for oily skin. What makes mineral makeup different from traditional makeup is what's left out of the ingredients including preservatives, parabens, mineral oil, and fragrance so it's good for sensitive skin. Although some companies do cheat with the label so you still need to read all the ingredients.  The cons for this product is that as a  loose powder it's messy to use and thus not portable, but again since I will only use this at night there's no need to reapply. I apply this with a big, fluffy kabuki brush.

    Pro Longwear Concealer $20 in NW25 (it looks much darker in the container than it applies)
    This provides a medium to full coverage with a matte finish and lasts 12 hours. It dispenses through a pump which I think gives out too much for your under eyes. To prevent it from creasing, first I prep my eyes with MAC's eye cream to moisturize the skin, then I apply the concealer with the 286 brush. Then I do a second application for buildable coverage. Next I set it with loose powder. I picked this color instead of a more yellow tone one because pinks neutralize blue areas on your face such as dark circles.

    Brush 286 $32
    I picked out a new MAC brush and I should say that all my brushes are MAC and have lasted over 10 years now. Ask any makeup artist, brushes are your most important investment. I use this brush to apply my concealer  instead of my fingers which allows for more product to stay on and get evenly blended.

    Prep + Prime Natural Radiance $41 in radiant pink
    I finished my old bottle of the regular Prep + Prime and when I went to get a new one I discovered they changed the formula. This goes on top of your moisturizer, blots away excess oil and improves the application of powder on top to help set your makeup. It gives your skin a dewy and glowy look. Tip: after you put on your moisturizer, dab some Finishing Powder  on your oily spots before you apply this primer.

    Prep + Prime Lip $16
    Better than chapstick which you have to keep applying because it actually works against you. I don't know how my lipsticks would go on my dry lips if I didn't have this. This winter regular lip balms just haven't been doing the job for me. It definitely prolongs the wear of my lipstick.


    Monday, January 19, 2015

    Matcha Green Tea Face Mask


    I hope you've been enjoying your 3-day weekend, my was filled with yoga, birthday parties and brunches. A long weekend is the perfect time to do a face mask. Matcha powder is loaded with antioxidants to nourish your skin and protect against sun damage and it is also gently cooling and anti-inflammatory. I make banana smoothies with it, drink green tea lattes and now my love of matcha continues with this rejuvenating mask. Matcha basically means finely grounded green tea leaves, you can tell the quality of your matcha by how radiantly emerald green it is. I bought this high quality matcha powder from amazon for $22.

    You can make this mask by simply adding water to the powder, but you can take it to the next level by adding one or any of these ingredients: virgin coconut oil, raw honey, aloe vera juice, baking soda and jojoba oil. You can expect this mask to smell amazing!

    Coconut oil is an anti-inflammatory too, it's a great moisturizer, and it has natural anti-bacterial properties that will help keep your skin clear and fight aging. Honey, jojoba oil and aloe vera juice are all amazing natural moisturizers for your skin. Baking soda is a natural skin scrub that will exfoliate your skin when you remove the mask. The matcha will stimulate your dead skin cells and fight bacteria (if you're prone to breakouts).

    Ingredients:
    • ¼ tsp Matcha Green Tea Powder
    • 1 TB of baking soda
    • 1 tsp of virgin coconut oil

    Directions:
    Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl and apply to your skin. Leave on for 15 minutes and remove with a warm washcloth and water. Follow up with a moisturizer.



    Friday, January 16, 2015

    Why I Joined a Book Club


    I'm a voracious reader (as evident by my book posts), often borrowing more books from the library than I can read in a 3 week time. I get most of my reading done either in bed or on the stationary bike at the gym during my lunch break (gotta do something since I bring my lunch to work and it's too cold to go outside).

    I had always enjoyed Oprah's book club selections back in the day when she would select a new book for her viewers to read and discuss each month. I have a friend in a book club who says that it's in name only because no one actually reads the book when they show up and the books selected are cheesey. But I've been part of lifegroups at church where we discuss a personal development book for a semester such as The 12 Traits of the Greats, so I thought I should explore some local book clubs to see if it might be a good fit for me.

    I joined 3 book clubs, not that I plan to read their monthly selection, but just so I have a rotation to pick from. These book clubs have exposed me to books I wouldn't have normally read and made me aware of popular books. Being in a book club has encouraged me to read more regularly (because of the deadlines), and if you think about it reading is an inexpensive hobby that also increases your vocabulary. I've also benefited in spending time with interesting people that I might develop friendships with. Plus some books need to be discussed so it's fun to chat which in turn sharpens my public speaking and communication skills. 

    I went to my first two book clubs in the past week where we met in restaurants and these were the selections:

    The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene Brown

    Brown is  a leading expert and researcher on shame, authenticity, and belonging, and shares ten guideposts on the power of Wholehearted living—a way of engaging with the world from a place of worthiness.

    My key takeaways from this book are that:
    Perfection is not self-improvement. Perfectionism is, at its core, about trying to earn approval and acceptance. We adopt this dangerous and debilitating belief system: I am what I accomplish and how well I accomplish. Perfectionism is other people focused – what will they think?

    The greatest challenge for most of us is believing that we are worthy now, right this minute. Worthiness doesn't have prerequisites. ie. I’ll be worthy when I lose twenty pounds. Overcoming self-doubt is all about believing we’re enough and letting go of what the world says we’re supposed to be and supposed to call ourselves.

     Brown said that "every person she interviewed who described living a joyful life actively practiced gratitude and attributed their joyfulness to their gratitude practice. Happiness is tied to circumstance and joyfulness is tied to spirit and gratitude."

    She also said that "we spend most of the hours and the days of our lives complaining or worrying about what we don't have enough of:  exercise, work, profit, power, weekends, of course we don’t have enough money ever. We're a nation hungry for more joy: Because we’re starving from a lack of gratitude." Brown explains that the things we were working toward (more money, bigger house, acquisitions) do nothing in terms of making our life fuller.  Often people attempt to live their lives backwards: they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so that they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be happy, and nothing you can buy can bring you that.


    "Comparison is the thief of happiness." – Laura Williams
    "Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are" – Marianne Williamson

    Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
    It was only $3 for the kindle version on amazon, reason why, it's a New York Times bestseller and will be released as a movie in August. I have to say the cover does not do the book justice, I would have passed on it by how boring the cover is but the book is a beautiful story. I truly got invested in the characters and learned some touching, heartbreaking lessons. I finished it in 3 days because I couldn't put it down. This was one of those books that I wish could wipe from mind so I could have the pleasure of reading it again for the first time. 

    The book takes place in the British countryside with Lou, a small town girl caught between dead-end jobs and Will, a high-profile, successful man who becomes wheelchair bound following an accident. Will has decided his life is not worth living until Lou is hired for six months to be his new caretaker. They are two people who wouldn't have met and who didn't like each other at first. But Lou was determined to prove to Will that life is worth living as they embark on a series of adventures together while Will shows Lou that her life is too boring and encourages her to chase her ambitions and not settle. Neither of them realize how much they are going to change the other. The writing was amazing, the characters are real and the emotions the book makes you go through are incredibly moving. Here's my favorite quote from the book:





    Yes Please by Amy Poehler 
    This is the next selection for one of my book clubs and I just got the book from the library which has lots of color photos. The book was just published 2 months ago by the SNL alum with a  collection of interesting stories, jokes, and advice from the funny girl. On Amazon's top 100 books its #6.  Number 7 is a book I recommended that's now a movie - Wild.



    Monday, January 12, 2015

    Golden Globes Viewing Party

    Award season and my birthday both arrived at the same time so last night I made my apt the best viewing party in town! But first let me recap my birthday weekend in pictures.

    pear martini

    I went snowtubing days after our first snowfall of the year. While it was freezing, it was like being in a real life snow globe, just so pretty with snow all around!




    One of my favorite birthday gifts is this luxurious silk eyemask, both functional and fabulous and perfect for when I'm jetsetting. In the spirit of gifting, I wanted to share this awesome nail polish offer from Zoya. You get 6 nail polish colors for $15! Check out my peacock nails. As I grow a year older I wanted to share some good wisdom I learned from this article.

    Sunday I had some friends over to sip Chandon as we watched the red carpet fashion at my Golden Globes Viewing Party.

    I love throwing theme parties and for the Golden Globes my inspiration was gold and sparkly. What’s a party without champagne? I had the champagne flowing with these Limited Edition chic winter white Chandon bottles printed with the phrases "The Party Starts Here," "Pour on the Fun" and "I Am the After Party." I served all white jelly beans in three flavors, can you guess which ones? I like the Golden Globes because it's not as formal and stuffy as the Oscars and it's the only show stars can drink at, in fact a few stars got on a stage with their glass of wine. While normally the show is light and fun this year it was a bit political with everything going on around the world, with a  few stars mentioning Paris. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hosted for the 3rd time and were hilarious. Oprah and Prince made surprise appearances. I served some A-list appetizers including a gorgonzola pear flatbread. I had a blast just chatting it up with friends while watching the show. Here are my favorite looks from the night:

    Kelsey Grammar's daughter (top right) was the girl on stage who helped stars walk off, officially known as Ms Golden Globe. I knew something was up with her by her amazing dress and ease touching celebs. Her gown is described as princess-chic  in blush with gold beading.  She said she selected reliable footware that she practiced in so she wouldn't' fall down on stage.

    Lupita Nyongo dress got mixed reviews amongst my friends but I loved the purple ombre and loved the risks this dress took. Her purple eyeshadow and toned arms both compliments this dazzling gown. Seems like Naomi Watts is always wearing yellow, but I loved her snake necklace. I really enjoyed the book and movie Wild and appreciated that Reese bought as her date to the Golden Globes the author of the book with her.

    Kevin Hart
    The color isn't great in this pic, but Amy wore a radiant blue necklace.


    I thought it cute how some of the start drank directly from champagne bottles with with a tiny cup attached to it. Then during the show some stars brought their glass on stage with them. lol What I appreciate about the Golden Globes is that it tells me what TV shows are worth watching as I don't watch much TV. It was nice to see George Clooney in attendance with his wife. I was also surprised at how small the auditorium was and that the stars were sitting around dinner tables. Kevin Spacey won for best actor in House of Cards.  The movie Boyhood was the biggest winner, it's a movie filmed over 12 years so that the boys in the film could grow! I definitely want to see Amy Adams film Big Eyes now. I was expecting Poland's "Ida" film to win Best Foreign Film, but it lost. 

    ps I changed my blog header, do you like?





    Wednesday, January 7, 2015

    Winter Skin Savers


    In an effort to take better care of my skin I've had four facials this year with microdermabrasion. I feel an esthetician can be a wealth of information and this winter I was told I needed to start using a serum because I have dry skin. Now I've always had oily skin never dry, but skin changes with age and with the seasons. Between the cold weather outside and indoor heating, your skin can become dry in the wintertime, which is why it’s so important to have a humidifier at home to help prevent dry skin and hair. The humidifier will keep your skin hydrated and restore some of the moisture in the air. And you need to change your skincare routine from season to season just like you do your wardrobe because your skin has different needs.

    This winter my goal has been to highlight my natural beauty by transforming my skin to give it a nice glow. I don’t have any major complaints with my skin, I’m at an in-between age where acne no longer is my treatment focus and wrinkles and fine lines haven’t shown up yet. I've heard of skin serums a million times, but I never actually knew what they did until last month. Serums infuse the skin with a higher concentration of active ingredients that penetrate deeper layers of skin. Moisturizers only hydrate the top layer of the skin and if you moisturize once a day during summers then you should be moisturizing twice a day during winters. Additionally exfoliating your skin is a great way to get rid of all the dead cells allowing your moisturizer to penetrate better. I can tell how dry the air is outside by how much my lips crack which makes it extra difficult to achieve radiant skin. If you want an amazing lip scrub to polish away the dead skin, here's a natural one I use.

    Serums tend to be on the pricey side, but if you’d like a diy cost effective way to turn your lightweight moisturizer into a hydrating winter moisturizer, just add a few drops of 100% pure vegetable glycerin to it (I already add it to my hair) which pulls water from the air into your skin. Obviously the best way to preserve your skin is from the inside by eating nutritious food  with healthy fats (avocados and omega-3s) and staying out of the sun.  Your skin uses omega-3s to produce its own moisturizing oils, you can find it in the form of flaxseed oil or a vitamin. Be sure you're taking your Vitamin D.  It's essential to its role of absorbing calcium for bone health, it's essential for the immune system and improves insulin sensitivity, mood, and muscular strength. Additionally don’t forget to drink your daily water  in the winter time to hydrate your skin. Plus a positive, happy spirit takes years off your face.
    I’m somewhat of a skincare freak and love researching what’s the newest and greatest product out there. My research brought me to Ole Henriksen’s Truth Serum,  which you can find on Sephora's best sellers short list. I bought the Unwrap Your Radiance Collection which I thought would be a great way to try out a new line at a fraction of the price. The six-piece collection is valued at $108 but sold for $48. The kit comes with a 0.5oz truth serum that I can tell will last me a long time.

    I've been using the Ole Henriksen line for a little over a month and I've seen immediate results! I have combination skin, with occasional hormonal breakouts on my chin. I've always struggled with having tiny flesh colored bumps on my forehead that never went away no matter what I did and now it’s almost completely gone. Using these products have made a huge difference in how my skin looks.

    Here is a review of each of the products:

    Truth Serum is an antioxidant-rich brightening and nourishing serum enriched with vitamin C. It's a lightweight gel, not oily at all. This is the first serum I've ever used and now has become a daily staple in my routine. It leaves my skin feeling so silky and smooth. My mother has been using vitamin C on her face for years and she has beautiful skin. Vitamin C does wonders for your skin, it helps boost collagen production and also provides antioxidants.The serum absorbs very quickly but it is definitely not moisturizing, so I follow it up with Ole's moisturizer. The serum has honestly resurfaced and re-energized my skin!  A 1oz bottle costs $48 so yes it’s quite pricey, but for the results I've seen it's worth it!
    Invigorating night treatment
    An AHA gel that seals in essential vitamins and minerals for deeply nourished skin. It supports natural cell turnover by exfoliating the skin and improves the appearance skin resulting in a beautiful, radiant complexion. It tingles a bit when you first put it on, but I love it because it makes my skin glow. You must use this with a moisturizer.

    Youth Activating Oil
    Made of 100% rose hips seed oil which is the latest 'hot' ingredient in skin care products. It’s a natural source of vitamins A, C,  E,  and essential fatty acids all known as healthy skin promoters. I find it to leave my skin a bit greasy so I will only use it all over my face in the evening. As I said I was experiencing a dry skin area on my forehead due to the winter season, and one dab there during the day make my flakes disappear! This wouldn't work so well underneath makeup. It makes my skin super soft and glowing so if you’re  hesitant to put an oil on your skin, think again.

    There’s a mini collection of these products if you’d like to give it a try for just $22. 


    2016 Updated post on Winter Skin Care

    Monday, January 5, 2015

    Book Review: “Made to Crave” by Lysa TerKeurst


    If you're tired of tucking your muffin top into the waist of your pants, this book is for you. Made to Crave is a New York Times best-seller and a ‘faith-based weight loss’ book however it's not a diet book as it only suggests you find a healthy eating plan that's right for you. Getting healthy isn't just about losing weight because its not just limited to adjusting our diet and hoping for good physical results. It's about re-calibrating our souls so that we want to change - spiritually, physically, and mentally.

    Lysa said that "being overweight is an outside indication that internal changes are needed for my body to function properly and for me to feel well. Overstuffing ourselves with food or drinking until we get drunk or getting wrapped up in the affections of an adulterous relationship are all desperate attempts to silence the cries of a hungry soul. Emptiness has a way of demanding to be filled. And when I couldn't figure out how to fill what my heart was lacking, my stomach was more than willing to offer a few suggestions. Food became a comfort. Whether we are talking about food, wine, sex, shopping, or anything else with which we try to fill ourselves, nothing in this world can ever fill us like God's portion." In short she says that your body's size is not tied to your happiness. Whatever you're missing now, you will still miss it once skinny.

    Here are a few more favorite quotes of mine from the book:

    "A whole lifetime could be spent making excuses, giving in, feeling guilty, resolving to do better, mentally beating myself up for not sticking to my resolve, feeling like a failure, and then resigning myself to the fact that things can't change. And I don't want to spend a lifetime in this cycle.I realize that I am made for more than the vicious cycle of being rules by food. I am made for more. I am made for victory.  One day of victory tasted better than any of that food I'd given up ever could."

    "Incomplete people are desperate for others to notice their diet progress, I reached the conclusion that incomplete people are a trigger that make me want to eat. They are complicated and sensitive and messy in their reactions. They have the potential to drain my resolve and make me grumpy. Don't get comfortable with your victim status."

    "Everything is permissible - but not everything is beneficial (1 Corinthians 10:23) I could have that brownie or those chips, but they wouldn't benefit me in any way. Use that thought to empower you to make a beneficial choice. I'm in a season of sacrificing sugar. Food can fill our stomachs but never our souls. Possessions can fill our houses but never our hearts. Pity parties require high calorie snacks. They only leave behind deeper emptiness."

    "When you think it's unfair someone else is skinny and can eat whatever they want, remember being little doesn't make a person any more happy, they just have other struggles."

    Lysa was on the Today show this morning, click out this short video.

    Saturday, January 3, 2015

    Cold Weather Workout



    I decided I wouldn't let the cold weather stop me from lacing up my sneakers and going out for a run. On a sunny day with 55 degrees temperatures  I took my first ever winter outdoor run. I also thought it would be a great excuse to soak up some rare sunshine in the winter and get some much needed Vitamin D. That was the first time I've ever run outside in the cold so I bundled up with a hat and layers, none of which I needed and I ended up running in a t-shirt to the shocked faces of many people dressed warmly. Running in the cold did make me cough a lot, even long after returning home. I learned that even though my body was hot I think I should wear a neck gaiter next time to keep the cool air off my neck. My fleece jacket was too warm for me, I will just stick with a light long sleeved shirt layered a short sleeve shirt. Did you know you can buy a warm hat with a hole in it for your ponytail? I present the coolest invention ever - toque. Here's an interesting article that says that running in the cold burns slightly more calories because shriving increases your metabolic rate.

    If you look at my last winter gym fashion post you'll see a  gorgeous blue jacket that is being sold by Nike for $250. I hesitated purchasing because of the color (not my favorite purple) and how incredibly thin it is. So I'm waiting for some reviews to hit their site of how fabulous the fabric technology is worth the ticket price. Then I was surprised to see that Target and Old Navy sell the same style quilted jacket for $35-45. Even though I want to be open to buying cheaper workout clothes, the reason I time and time again end up not purchasing anything is the lack of colors. I've never worn a black coat because I love bright colors! I went ice-skating with a couple friends recently and one of the girls got separated from us. So we stood on the ice looking for us only to realize that almost everyone had a black coat on so it was hard to find her. I feel that especially in the gloomy winter, I can't wear dreary colors. But for those who love their all black outfits, wanted to share these cute affordable pieces. I do plan on getting those fake leather panel workout pants, probably unpractical but oh well! lol


    Thursday, January 1, 2015

    an Attitude of Gratitude


    I hope everyone had a wonderful New Year's Eve celebration! I wore this mustard yellow tulle dress which I thought stood out in a sea of black dresses. My New Year's resolutions are to practice gratitude and live more intentionally and whole-hearted. Practicing gratitude is not new to me (and I've talked about it on this blog) but I want to do it more often. Expressing gratitude is about appreciating all the things that made you happy and grateful for during the day. By keeping this practice in writing you can reflect back it on other days whenever you are having a bad day. When you do this you are celebrating your present and blocking negative emotions. Grateful people are more stress-resilient and have a stronger self-worth. So I'm using the Gratitude 365 app to keep track of things I'm grateful for. The thing I love about this app is that it allows you to include pictures and I'm a very visual person so this is perfect for me! I unfortunately wasn't using this daily like the example here, sometimes just once a month, so I want to be more mindful of using it. I should start by saying  that I'm incredibly grateful that my office is closed from Christmas to New Years Day, that break was really nice to have. 


    These are the goals I've set for myself this year. I wanted to write them all here so I can actually hold myself accountable.

    1. Weekly gratitude practice - There's always something to be thankful in your life, you just have to find it. I've found that my relationships with people have been key to my happiness.

    2. Declutter - I have a little clutter problem at home which only stresses me out to see the mess. I'm going to work harder on keeping my home decluttered.

    3. Buy Less - I need to be more mindful of clothes shopping and the stylebook app has really helped curb that as well as following tips from Nicky Hilton. I've made this resolution many times before because it is ridiculously tough to stick to. I once made a resolution not to buy any hair products for one year because I was overstocked in shampoo bottles and I surprised myself by going for 18 months without buying a hair product. I know this will take a good deal of effort and soul-searching but I'm going to try really hard at being more mindful of how I spend my money and avoid impulse buys. I understand my value is not found in my possessions.

    4. Take care of my body - I hurt my back in November to the point that I had an excruciating week where I could barely move. Then I wasn't able to exercise for 2 months because I could still feel a tightness in there. But after some chiropractor visits, acupuncture, yoga and a massage, I finally feel really to start exercising again. I actually love working out and the way it makes me feel so it's something I've been eagerly waiting to get back into.

    5. Don't ruminate on things that bother me. The more you dwell on something the worse it gets. I want to focus on what's good, not what's wrong. This goes back to the gratitude journal to help me develop positive thoughts all the time by being grateful for what I do have.

    6. Smile at strangers - I know it's a strange to have up here but it's something I think is important in being nice to others. I know when people smile at me I always think it's a nice gesture and brings a little joy to my day. Here's to a year of bold moves!

    7. I'm turning off notifications to a certain website I visit, the stuff I get notified on create an urgency that really isn't.

    8. Finish my photobooks for my vacations last year by end of January.

    9. Read 35 books this year, last year I read 26 books.

    10. Join a Book Club. I read a statistic that said that reading could lower stress levels up to 68% and was shown to be a more calming activity than listening to music.

    I found an awesome list of New Year’s Resolutions Every Person Should Actually Make my favorites include:
    • Turn your phone off at dinner (don't leave it face up on the table in restaurants)
    • Don’t check your Instagram feed when you’re with friends 

    For those of you with financial resolutions you must use Mint. Every Friday I get an email telling me how much I spent that week, with a pie chart by categories so I know if I spent too much on clothing.

    I think the most important thing with goals are to make them specific. By creating goals with end dates on them you will see your resolutions in a clear, concise way. Success is all about doing the right actions consistently, so with a to do list you will accomplish more on a daily basis leading you to your ultimate goal. To keep yourself accountable to achieve your goal I recommend either a vision board, a secret pinterest board, or try out the free app Bloom to increase your productivity, keep you motivated and inspired.





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