Friday, June 28, 2013

June Favorites

I had a nice introduction and everything, then I accidentally deleted this whole post ::headdesk:: Here are my June favorites, some of which I've already mentioned, a couple of which I have not. Enjoy! (I know I am.)

Jo Malone London English Pear and Freesia Room Spray I absolutely adore this room sized version of their cologne of the same name.  Lushly floral without being heavy, this scent also manages to be fruity without being cloying.  A couple of sprays and my room smells like and English garden in spring bloom.  Available online for $55.

Bumble and bumble. the Surf Set I know I just wrote about this last week, but this is definitely going to be my summer regime.  It makes my hair commit to full on curly glory, and the cult Surf Spray in this travel size is perfect for freshening up the look on the go. Available at Bluemercury, Sephora, and online for $28.

Voluspa Goji Tarocco Orange Mini Candle This is a persistent favorite, but I've gotten back into this petite perfection again while I'm working at my desk. This little trooper fills a good five foot diameter, perfect for when you want a little something without committing it to your whole living space. It smells sweet and tropical, but not fake, like a margarita from an airport bar, as many inexpensive candles do. Available at Anthropologie and online for $10.

Scratch Nail Wraps Though I must admit that Sea Ya Later was my favorite pattern, I'm still digging these nail wraps for a quick bit of nail art. The set in this picture are already on my fingers, ushering me toward my New Jersey adventure. Available online at for $12.

NARS Mini Lip Gloss Angelika From the Lose Yourself Gift Set I got during the NARS sale, this is the item I was least excited for, but it's turned out to be favorite of the bunch. It packs a nice little punch without looking overdone, and it goes perfectly with my burgeoning tan. Available from NARS in full size for $25.

Milani Baked Blush No. 5 Luminoso I finally gave in after watching six million Youtube videos from across the pond in which the vloggers go on and on about this US drugstore brand blush.  Since what was an ordeal for them is a five minute walk to CVS for me, I grabbed it with some ExtraCare Bucks.  Even after all the raves, I'm stunned at how awesome this product is. The perfect pinky peach to add a touch of color to summer skin, it applies so smoothly that it's hard to believe this is a drugstore powder. The packaging is unnecessarily bulky and it comes with a shitty little brush, but who cares when a blush this good and this inexpensive shows up? Not this girl. Available at CVS for $9.29

I hope you all have an excellent weekend and you'll be hearing from the East Coast on Monday!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Seeing Reds with Albeit Lipsticks

So, I've been in Anthropologie a million times this year, and I've been seeing these lipsticks every time.  Always attracted to the colors, it still didn't occur to me even once in all my swatching to do a quick google of the brand for reviews.  And when I finally gave in and purchased, it turns out they are Anthropologie's own lipstick line!

Top picture: Persimmon on the left, Vermillion
Bottom: Vermillion, Persimmon

Albeit by Anthropologie seems to have been released in the fall of last year and comes in eight shades, as far as I can gather. I've only seen the three carried in the store I frequent, these two plus a soft pink called Peony that I think has "my lips but better" potential, but the other colors available online look intriguing at the very least.

Persimmon is a rich red orange with a mostly matte finish.  In spite of the finish, these both have a pleasingly creamy texture with only a slight drying feeling going into the fourth hour of wear.  I think it makes a great pop of color this season, as everyone is loving orange, without going overboard for those who look a little off with neon orange makeup. ::points to self::

Vermillion definitely has perfect red potential, gracefully balancing between warm and cool undertones. It applies beautifully straight from the bullet, and is a true red that doesn't look vampy at all (I like to save those reds for more adventurous hours).

Throw in the classy retro gold casing and I think we've got ourselves some winners. I wouldn't be surprised to find myself reaching for these babies all year round.

Albeit by Anthropologie ($18) is available in select stores and online at

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Stranded in Chicago's Top Travel Tips!

It's the time of the year for vacations! With that in mind, and my impending trip, I thought I would share my top travel tips for everyone.  I've done a lot of back and forth between New Jersey and Chicago, with some other destinations scattered in for fun, so here's what I've learned!

1.) Make sure you pack your liquids in an easily accessible spot. If you're traveling with just a carry on, you'll have to pull these out before you go through security, and you'll thank yourself if you don't have to dig through your bag to get to them.

2.) Pack a healthy snack for the airport.  You don't want to get stuck buying overpriced snacks from Hudson News just because you were too lazy to throw some almonds and a granola bar in your bag.

3.) Assume your flight will be delayed and make peace with it. This is especially useful if you're traveling to or from a high volume airport, as weather all over the country can have an impact on your flight, not to mention all the other things that go wrong just because those are the kind of things that happen to you.

4.) Leave half an hour before you think you need to. That way, you won't get too stressed out if your cab is late, the train doesn't come on time, the security line is extra long, etc.

5.) Always pack twice as much underwear as you think you need. No one ever regretted having too many pairs of underwear.

What are some of your travel musts?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Getting Ready for the Coastal Surf

I have to say, as odd as some of the Essie names for polishes are, very rarely can they actually be called misnomers.  I am totally digging the Revlon Colorstay line, but have thus far struggled to remember the names, as they never seem representative of the color.  Here, we have Coastal Surf, which upon hearing the name I would assume to be some kind of pale green or blue, something reminiscent of whitecaps and waves crashing into my legs as I admire the dark North Atlantic of my home.

That aside, I do quite like this blue, it reminds me a bit of Essie's In the Cab-ana, but slightly darker.  This is a one coater, easy to apply with the wide brush, and it should have considerable lasting power, if the other colors I have in this formula are anything to go by.

I find myself wishing I had selected a more cheerful color last night, as the weather here is quite a drag right now. I'm getting the sadness I always feel right before I return to my beloved New Jersey, brought on, I assume, by my impatience to get there.

Any tips for surviving the ennui of a last work week before a relaxing return?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Strawberry Kiwi

Who doesn't like a tropical treat every now and again.

I am verrrrrrry impressed with the green color, Essie's The More the Merrier, from their 2013 Summer collection. A bright chartreuse creme, it's totally opaque in two coats, and in two days of wear isn't showing any tip wear at all.  This formula is definitely a winner, and I'm loving it so much as an accent color, I think I'm going to be brave and try it as a full mani.

The pink is Orly's Butterflies, which I happen to think is an incredibly stupid name.  But aside from that, I quite like it. It's a bit softer than it appears in the photos, but definitely has enough punch to be a true summer color.

Hope you're all having an excellent Monday! Let's all hope the Blackhawks kick some Bruin ass tonight!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Beachy Waves with Bumble and bumble.

I guess that's what it's supposed to be anyway.  I had always pushed aside the thought of using the Surf Spray as something better suited to ladies who lack volume and texture in their hair, both of which I have in abundance.  However, Bb. recently released Surf Foam Shampoo and Creme Conditioner, and I figured I would give all three a try in conjunction on account of the existence of this adorable travel-sized set.

Okay, I know I've barely had a chance to use them, but I think I might be in love.  However, as much as I love the piece-y look it gives relatively straight hair, I must tell you it does nothing of the sort for my hair.  In combination, though, this set makes my hair do something I haven't been able to coerce it too in six years.  Form.  Perfect.  Curls.  For the past few years, all it does when I let it dry naturally is be generally non-commital, with some really curly bits and some relatively straight frizzy bits just to piss me off (I assume).  But this made my hair do it's big, super curly thing that I miss so much, and I AM SO GLAD IT IS BACK. 

Admittedly, I can't wear my hair down that much once the temp soars above 75 degrees, but I'm not above going au naturel for an evening out now and again.  So ladies of the voluminous hair, give this shit a try.  I have not been disappointed.

Have you had any experience with the Bumble and bumble. Surf line?  Let me know what you think!

Bumble and bumble. The Surf Set ($28) is available at Bluemercury, Sephora, and online.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Coral on the Beach

The beach being my pale hands.  I decided to give the Revlon Colorstay formula a try because it was on sale 2 for $10, and I selected Marmalade, a slightly peachy orange that borders on coral.

I've had it on for a couple of days now, and it's wearing really well, with only mild tip wear.  If it looks a little janky in the picture, that's only because I raked my entire left hand again my external hard drive almost immediately after I finished painting my nails and was too lazy to take the polish off and redo them.

As colors go, I think it's nice, but it's not jumping out at me the way I hoped it would.  I would almost say it's kind of subtle, which sounds crazy in light of the fact that it's bright orange, but compared to some of my others, it just doesn't say, "I'M HERE, LOOK AT ME."

And I always like to be saying that.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Hold Steady and Stay Put

I'm a sucker for eyeliner. I know how I want it to look, but I can never quite achieve the compromise between ultra thin and impressively defined.  As a result, I'm always looking to try something new, to see if there is some product that can help me get the look I want with less effort. I've tried many a gel eyeliner, as my shaky hands make liquid liners a disaster waiting to happen, and though I do love Bobbi Brown's offering, when a Laura Mercier rep at my local Bluemercury asked if she could show me their cream liner, I said yes without hesitation.

Based on the location in which this photo was taken, I'm sure you can guess where it went from there.

Laura Mercier Cremé Eyeliner comes in six colors and I went out on a limb from my usual black and got it in Espresso (left) and Cobalt.  Why two, you ask?  The makeup artist sold me by layering a thin line of the blue over the dark brown, which made the color of my eyes pop like woah and kept me looking into mirrors (and windows and doors) for the rest of the day.

"The rest of the day?" you say. Yes, my little creepies, this waterproof formula does not move. In fact, though I would have liked very much to show you what it looks like on, I don't have a dedicated eye makeup remover (the horror!), which is the only thing that's going to get this stuff off your face.

The formula applied really smoothly, without the dragging you can get with some gel liners. I applied at home with my Bobbi Brown Ultra Fine Eyeliner Brush, but any super thin brush will do.

Laura Mercier Cremè Eyeliner ($22) is available online and at all Laura Mercier counters.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Summer Sunset

I wanted to give some new formulas a try, and I discovered that both Revlon and Orly were on sale at CVS the other day.  Here, I layered three coats of Revlon Brilliant Strength in Sunburst with one coat of Orly in Butterflies. The Revlon has a translucent jelly finish on its own, but takes absolutely forever to dry, so to wear it solo I would definitely do Seche Vite as a top coat so I could get on with the rest of my day.

With the Orly polish on top, which is also slightly translucent, it gives the impression of an intense summer sunset (or a tequila sunrise, however you choose to think of it).

I hope you're all having a wonderful Tuesday!

Monday, June 17, 2013

The View from Above

One of my favorite things about being in Chicago is that opportunities for stunning vistas abound.  Occasionally, I find myself in a position to see something exceptionally beautiful that costs me no money or effort.

I hope you have a lovely start to your week and can appreciate the nice weather we're having. Take your lunch outdoors! I think it would be invigorating.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Miscellany #7

Hello everybody!  It's been a beautiful couple of days here in Chicago, and I just couldn't resist sharing a few pictures with you.  The olive boulé is in the second picture is from the new weekly farmers' market being held at the auxiliary exit of the Southport el stop on Thursdays from 4pm-8pm throughout the summer.  I picked up some really scrumptious things, and I think it's worth checking out.  It's definitely on the smaller side, but there's a good variety, with everything from fresh vegetables to artisan cream puffs (yum!).  I think my favorite stall was the one selling tofu made from locally grown soybeans.  They had a delicious Fried Tofu Spicy Stir Fry that I will admit has already been consumed in it's entirety (with a little help from my friends).  I'm planning on taking a more leisurely look next Thursday, so expect a full report on the offerings.  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and that the weather lets you enjoy it immensely!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

NARS Insider Private Sale: Lose Yourself Gift Set

Rounding out the trio of goodies is a trio in and of itself, the Lose Yourself Gift Set.  It comes with a miniature lip gloss in Angelika, and a blush-bronzer duo palette containing Angelika blush and... Laguna bronzer!

I am so pleased to have gotten my greedy little mitts on some of this bronzer, as I've heard raves about it, but have been too afraid to take the plunge (especially considering I still have half a pan of my go to bronzer, Bobbi Brown in Golden Light).  Unfortunately, I have yet to try it on my face, as I've been going sans makeup in the wake of an unfortunate reaction to some waxing from the other day.  It's almost cleared up, though, thanks in no small part to Lush's Mask of Magnaminty (which I'll talk about later), so I should get to give Laguna a stab soon.  As you can see, it's a warm brown with very little orange in it, the texture is silky, and it seems to be quite buildable.

In terms of the Angelikas, the lip gloss looks especially fun for a quick dash of color.  I love a bright pink!  You can't tell from this picture, but it's got a very slight shimmer in it, as well, which is a must for summer, IMO.  The blush is a somewhat subdued version of the lip product, with pretty large bits of glitter in it, but I have yet to see how those stick around throughout the day.  I anticipate it as an excellent transitional blush between day and night, catching the soft summer sunset on the apples of my cheeks.  I think this set is a winner!  I'm even more pleased with it in person than I was when I saw it online.

I hope you are all having the most wonderful Thursday!  What do you think your go to lip product will be in the coming months?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

NARS Insider Private Sale: Enchanted

Here, we have a really lovely, totally illuminating cream blush that I snagged during the sale.

Called Enchanted I knew I had to have it.  In the palette, as you can see, it looks like a warm light peach, but on my skin it softens to a pale, barely there glow.  I wouldn't call this an impact player, but it does give my complexion a certain lightness that I'm really loving.  It definitely suits minimal makeup days where you want to look sophisticated without looking "done."  I really like NARS's cream blush formula, it stays put but moves around easily during application so you can get it exactly right.  In terms of lasting power, it's not top of the heap, I'd say 3-4 hours before a touch up is needed, but the buildup is nice and doesn't get cakey or anything.

With a tan, I think this is going to be a definite daytime summer player for me, edging out both NARS Penny Lane Cream Blush and Stila Convertible Color GerberaWhat do you use to get a simple, sophisticated look in the summer?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Summer White

As I was writing yesterday's post, I suddenly realized that it isn't really late spring anymore.  Having grown up at the beach, I tend not to think it's summer until I'm regularly sunning myself out on the sand.  With the realities of my life post-school, however, I think I'll have to define it differently here in Chicago so the whole darn season doesn't pass me by!

I don't usually wear white on my nails (at least, not since I gave my high school French manicure addiction), but I thought it would be a really clean look with Scratch Nail Wraps in Top O' the Mountain as an accent nail.  The white is Essie Blanc, which turned out better than usual with only two coats.

I hope you all have a lovely Tuesday!

Monday, June 10, 2013

NARS Insider Private Sale: Tzigane Lipstick

Bonjour, my friends!  Last week, I got an entirely too tempting email notifying me of the NARS Insider Private Sale.  The deals were just too good, and I picked up some several treats at a deep discount.  First up: Lipstick in Tzigane.  I would describe it as a sheer nude with a slight hint of pink.  I suspected it would be a my-lips-but-better shade, and I was proven correct, per usual.  The formula leaves a nice, even layer of color, but isn't too heavy for summer due to its translucence.  I find it extremely hydrating, with a wear time of about 3 hours before reapplication is needed. 
This one definitely won't make it through a meal, but I think that's okay in a casual lipstick.  With its moisturizing nature, reapplying is no big deal, and the shade means it's a quick job even sans mirror.

What do you think of NARS Tzigane, friends?  Did any of you have a chance to hit up the sale?  I'll be posting my other grabs this week, including a set that contains a cult favorite I've never tried.  Any guesses as to what it is?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Scratch Nail Wraps

A little while back, through a blog I read (The Dainty Squid), I found myself funding a Kickstarter campaign for Scratch, an LA-based company that produces nail wraps.  The Squid herself had designed three of them as a featured artist, and for some reason, I truly believed that these would be different and, more importantly, superior to the other similar products I've tried.

I received my chosen reward, all three Dainty Squid designs, and I was immediately impressed with the look of them in person.  Because I'm me, I simply couldn't wait to put them on.  It took a little effort to figure it out, but I persevered, and I am totally impressed with the texture.  This is the first product I've used that does a great job of imitating the texture of actual nail polish.  Even better, you can use a topcoat to seal these bad boys without damaging the wrap at all.  I decided to apply the design Sea Ya Later first, a cool geometric combination of blues.

I absolutely love the look! It totally emulates the look of a real mani, and the assortment of sizes of the wraps gave me a good fit for every nail. I feel it behooves me to mention that these are not intended to be like a gel manicure, but a real one, so if you nick your nail with a chef's knife while you're cooking, the result will be less than pleasing.

Of course, it was totally like me to wail in horror when I did so, leading my friend to believe I had severed a significant part of my finger.  What can I say?  I have a flair for the dramatic.  And lucky for me that nail needed a trim anyway, so it looks just as good as it should.

I'll update y'all on lasting power in a few days.  These designs are available at for a limited time, along with a few other cool looks, for $12 apiece.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Recipe: Tarragon and Chive Oil

Hello, friends! I apologize for my absence yesterday, I was feeling quite out of sorts and just couldn't get my act together.  But today I return!  And with a delicious recipe that will fancy up your kitchen stocks with very little effort.

Here, we have Tarragon and Chive Oil! Three ingredients is all it takes to make a delicious oil with with to dress a variety of foods (I intend to drizzle mine over some filet of sole, hence the tarragon, which goes just smashingly with white fish).  Really, you can use whatever herbs you like, so feel free to experiment based on what you think you'd like to use it on/with.

Tarragon and Chive Oil
Adapted from Bon Appétit Magazine

1 1/2 cups vegetable or olive oil (olive oil will impart a flavor of its own)
3 stalks worth of fresh tarragon leaves
1-2 bunches chives
Coffee filter


Combine oil and herbs in a food processor and process until herbs are finely chopped.

Transfer oil to a small saucepan and cook over medium-high heat for about three minutes.  Don't be afraid of the sizzling, that's good!

Place the coffee filter inside a strainer over a heat-proof vessel.  Slowly pour oil mixture through coffee filter, allowing it to drain slowly into the dish.  This might take a few minutes, but don't try to push the oil out of the herbs, as this may make the oil cloudy.

Allow oil to cool, seal in a container, and store in the refrigerator.  Should keep for about 1 week.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Review: Origins High-Potency Night-A-Mins

Over the past year, I've really tried to upgrade the caliber of my skincare.  As I sweat a great deal in the summer, there really is no makeup in the world that will stay on my face all day, so I figured the best solution would be to get my skin in tip-top shape.  That way, I wouldn't have to worry about wasting makeup as it invariably slides off my face throughout the day for the next three months, I could confidently go au naturale instead. There are so many reasons to do it anyway, from reducing the signs of aging to limiting sun damage, that I figured it must be the right path.

One of the pieces of this puzzle that I most struggled to find was a good night moisturizer.  I have a fear of putting anything too heavy on my face, but as I journeyed further into the world of good skin, I discovered that nighttime is the perfect time to slather up and soak in all that moisture.  Cue the most recent addition to my skincare routine:

Origins High-Potency Night-A-Mins Mineral-enriched Renewal Cream.  I have to say, I really am absolutely in love with this product.  This formula definitely falls into the "a little bit goes a long way" category (and yes, I did just type that to the tune of the Jessica Simpson gem of a song).  A quick swipe across the top of the pot is enough to get your whole face covered for the restorative night ahead.  Like many Origins products, the scent is absolutely lovely, just a subtle touch of oranges that brighten the experience immeasurably.  I awaken with my skin feeling plump and refreshed, more than ready to greet the day ahead.

For those of you who suffer from oily skin, this also comes in an oil-free formula, so don't automatically rule it out!  It's really done wonders for me, and, though I can't speak to the efficacy of the oil-free version personally, I haven't heard a negative peep about it anywhere.  This is definitely going to be a permanent fixture in my routine, and bonus points for how long this pot should last me!

Origins High-Potency Night-A-Mins ($39.50) available at Origins counters, Sephora, and online.