Saturday, December 3, 2011

Gift Guide for Guys

Ah! I keep falling so behind on my blogging! I've got finals coming up, so as soon as those are over I think I'll have a lot more time.

Since I seriously contemplated being a personal shopper for a while after college, I pride myself on my ability to choose a good gift. As part of my holiday series here on my blog, I'm going to start off with what to get the guy (dad, brother, cousin, boyfriend/husband, friend, etc) in your life.

1. The Art of Shaving Proglide Power Shave Set ($150). If you're not familiar with The Art of Shaving products, make yourself familiar with them. These top of the line shaving and skin care products for men are truly a fabulous gift for any business professional in your life.  (photo cred:

2. Echo Smartpen Livescribe ($99 for 2GB). Brother in med school? Husband works as a lawyer? Get them this! This gift doesn't have to be gender specific, either, any girl I know would be happy to receive one of these. This pen is a very unique device! It functions as an audio recorder, and also automatically records your written notes. Later, when you choose to go back to your notes, simply tap on a word (for example: "piriformis" if you were studying anatomy) and your pen will immediately skip to the part of the lecture you recorded where that word was mentioned. Aside from that amazing attribute, it also has a language translator, a piano option, and numerous other characteristics. This pen is ideal for a student, but would also be great for any working professionals who want to record meetings, affidavits, transcribe interviews, anything! (photo cred:

3. Lululemon Menswear. Anyone who knows me knows how obsessed I am with Lululemon. Their workout attire is nothing short of perfection - it hugs every curve and sucks in the areas you may not want on display.  While their women's collection is extensive, their men's stuff is finally starting to catch up. Great workout shirts, boxer briefs, jackets and accessories. If any of the men in your life are fitness junkies, this is an excellent gift for them. Another awesome thing about Lulu? Their shipping is ALWAYS free. (photo cred: I honestly cannot say enough good things about this company - quality items, friendly and helpful staff, free shipping for online purchases? Doesn't get any better than that!

4. Beer Brewing Classes. Prices will vary on this type of gift, based on the seriousness of the beer brewing. If the guy in your life loves a great microbrew or local beer, this is an awesome gift for him! Many breweries offer brewing classes that allow your guy to learn the basics of what goes into a proper brew. Plus it helps that they offer beer tastings along the way. Purchase a class for him and one of his friends, or for the two of you if you're someone who enjoys the drink as well. (photo cred:

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Outfit of the Day: Thanksgiving!

I've never been a huge fan of Thanksgiving until this year. Something about working full time makes you crave any vacation you get. And since I'm in scrubs five days a week, getting dressed up on days off is a lot more fun. Without further ado, here's my outfit today!

Here's my outfit in full and I'll break each piece down for you. I know it's blurry. This is what I get for asking my fiancé to take a picture of me - guys just do NOT get it. We soon got into an argument over his lack of knowledge on how to take pictures of shoes...seen next.

Some people aren't fans of tights with open toe shoes, I don't mind it all that much, especially if the tights are really opaque. I also think it looks fun with colored tights, but that's just me. These are some seriously uncomfortable Steve Madden booties I bought a few years ago. I never wear them because of how uncomfortable they are. I seriously can't stand in them for more than a minute or two, and eventually lose all circulation in my toes. But, and you have to agree, they looked cute with my outfit. I also love the bows on the sides - they make ankles look tiny and add a very feminine flare.

This photo isn't quite as good because I took it myself. This was, of course, after the argument on how the fiancé couldn't take good pictures of shoes. This wasn't the skirt I had planned to wear, but I was forced into it because the one I had originally purchased yesterday didn't fit me at all. Literally, I zipped it up and it fell right off of me - I think it was a factory issue or was mislabeled. I do love this skirt, though, the slightly worn tribal-esque pattern is very fun and I'm a huge fan of that sort of dusty lavender/mauve color. The elastic waist band makes it easy to wear up high or with a top tucked in or out. I got this skirt in the Brass Plum section of Nordstrom's earlier this year.

This is one of my favorite tops ever. Ella Moss makes some incredible clothes - soft materials, girly and casual designs, everything she makes is lovely. I wear this top anytime I want to be comfy but chic. The lace panels on the shoulders is really delicate and pretty and the shirt itself is made from the softest material ever. I wore it for some of the engagement photos we took this summer.

Ahhh the jewels. My favorite part of any outfit. These are my Lisa Taubes chain link necklaces, sold here. I have them in varying lengths in both rose gold and silver, which I generally wear together because I quite like mixed metals. These necklaces are so delicate and sweet and dress up any outfit. 

And my second favorite part - the nail color! It's been so dreary out lately that I thought a fun, bright color would really cheer me up. This is Essie's Turquoise and Caicos, a milky turquoise shade. Since I have to have a glitter nail, I threw on OPI's Silver Shatter on the ring finger for a little sparkle. This isn't an every day color, at least not for me, but it sure is fun every once in a while!

What were your outfits this Thanksgiving?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cooking with J.

Anyone that reads that title who knows me in person is probably laughing aloud. I've never been known to cook, I just never liked it. Since moving, and since getting engaged, I've really risen to the occasion and dived right in to cooking and I truly love it! It's something I've become really passionate about.

Anyway, I was looking through random blogs and found some awesome recipes I decided to make the other night for my super hot test subject that I call a fiancé.

The first one was from a great Fitness/Health blog I read regularly called Kath Eats Real Food. This girl is an awesome fitness inspiration and often has really cool recipes on her site. I was really struck by the Beer-Braised Cabbage recipe, as I'm an avid cabbage lovaaa. The recipe is available in the link and is super easy to make! Not to mention, the act of making a reduction sauce makes you feel like a pro chef by the time you're finished.

I followed that up with one of my fave Twitter gal's, Sharon Vaknin (@Sharonvak)'s, truly awesome salmon recipe dubbed Sharon's Soylicious Salmon. I subbed tombo, because I've never been a huge fan of salmon, but her recipe is incredible! Here is the link, you guys. Plus, it's SO much more fun to watch someone cooking on a YouTube video instead of just reading the instructions on a website.

Though I wouldn't make the two together again since the flavor profile was just too similar for my taste, these dishes are INCREDIBLE on their own. The salmon has a great tangy flavor and cooked wonderfully under the broiler. The cabbage recipe was delicious, but I would've cooked the garlic a lot less time, as mine ended up with a slightly charred taste. Needless to say, the fiancé was tremendously pleased with the meal. Happy cooking, guys!

Bad Girl! Bad Beauty Habits You May or May Not Be Aware Of...

Has it really been four days since my last post? Ugh, I'm not doing so good of a job keeping up with this blog!

Today's post is on bad beauty habits. We're all guilty of some of these and really, there's an infinite list. Some I'm not aware of and may never become aware of, and some that make me cringe when I see an offender. Here are my top BAD beauty habits, you bad girls, you.

1. Sleeping with your makeup on. This is the cringe-worthy offense. I literally cannot fall asleep without taking my makeup off. I'll lie there in bed thinking about the thick coating of chemicals on my face that is seeping into my poor, unsuspecting pores until I jump up and run straight to the sink. Please always take your makeup off before bed, otherwise you're leaving dirt, grease, and pore-clogging chemicals on your pillow for future use - not to mention the oils you secrete while you sleep just help push all that junk deep into your skin to cause acne and blackheads. GROSS.

2. Not moisturizing. I have some friends I have to beg to wear moisturizer. You may not think you need it, but you do. Moisturizer should ALWAYS be applied before wearing any makeup and after each time that you wash your face. Do your research and find a good one for your skin - even if you have oily skin you still need a good moisturizer. I used to be a product snob, and then I realized that a $20 Olay cream does the same thing as a $180 skin lightener/moisturizer that I used for a year or so (granted, I only feel this way about certain products). If you have oily skin, stick with a lighter moisturizer - Clinique makes some awesome ones. If you have dry skin, you're lucky because you can use practically any heavier (aka majority) moisturizer. I'm tired of typing the word moisturizer, so we're going to move on.

3. Rubbing your eyes. I am SO guilty of this one. I suffer from allergies on a regular basis and my eyes get puffy, itchy and watery, so I'm constantly rubbing my eyes to relieve the itchy feeling. Also, I rub my eyes when I first wake up in the morning, like most people. This is SO bad for your delicate, under-eye skin! I don't know if your mothers told you, but mine always let me know to not pull anywhere near the under-eye region, so as not to create premature wrinkles (roll your eyes all you want, they are coming for you, and they are coming soon). So let's hold each other accountable and just not rub our eyes!

4. 70s Blush/Bronzer. We have this horrible idea in our heads that people need to truly see our blush. It's not supposed to be this way! And trust me, I am a repeat offender on too much blush and bronzer. I still do it a lot for photos, as many flashes wash you out. But on a daily basis, you want to keep the blush light. This may sound like cliche advice, but nothing makes you look older or more dated than a huge swipe of bronze/pink/red from your apples of your cheeks to your hairline. Gross!

5. Touching Your Face. Don't do it! Think of all the stuff your hands come into contact with!! Gross!

Okay, so those are my biggest ones, some of which I am struggling with these days. So avoid these! And help me avoid these, too.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Product rave (?): Boscia Luminizing Black Mask

I haven't had a Manicure Monday post in a while. That makes me sad! Before I get into this post, I'll share my current nail color with you. No pic, but if you're into greys go buy Essie's Master Plan. As my friend Tess says, it is the perfect grey! She texted me to tell me about it the other day so I ran and got my bottle out of my stash. It's a really perfect fall/autumn color. Am I supposed to capitalize those? I never know.

Boscia is a skin care line found at Sephora, which advertises themselves as "preservative-free". I'd heard people rave about their Makeup to Breakup Cleansing Oil, but could never bring myself to try it because I have a hard time buying something with the word "oil" in it, as I already have oily skin. When a SA at Sephora tried to sell me on this Luminizing Black Mask, I just said, "Oh...thanks, I'm okay..." and walked off, scoffing that I'd never spend $34 on a mask that wasn't done by my esthetician. Incidentally, a girl who's YouTube videos I watch, purchased it nearly the same day and made a video on it and how amazing it was.

I relented and purchased it. I have this shopping problem, if you haven't noticed, where half the time I don't even care what I buy as long as I walk out of the store with something. This happened to be a purchase that made me happy long afterward. The mask was a little scary at first, as it is opaque black and warns you not to put it anywhere near the delicate under eye area, or the eyebrow area as it will damage the skin/rip all your hairs out.

(Photo cred:

After it's on, you let it dry about 20 minutes, or until it feels tight. You may want to do this on a date where your family/significant other is not home, as the sight of you will be scary and the mask is so tight that you can't move your mouth to reassure your family members that is, indeed, you. It is especially scary at night.

This is where it gets weird. I've never really used at-home masks before, until recently, and this one requires you to peel it off. While I imagine they are trying to make you believe (and maybe it works, who knows) that you are peeling off impurities that have stuck to the mask, it is also rather painful. If you have any hairs at all on your face, and we all do so don't even try to lie and say you don't, you can rest assured that they will come off. So if you think about it, you get a complementary waxing with your purchase of this mask. Albeit a painful, slow waxing.

This may sound like a slightly negative review up until now. The thing that got me with this product was that it actually does work. Your skin looks amazingly luminous after just one use. My favorite way to use it is to wear it for a while before going out, then do your regular makeup routine and your skin will look great all night.

At $34 a pop this mask is rather expensive, and I'd honestly say to skip it and go with something else - or put that money towards a legitimate facial. It has great results, but the road to get there may not be all that worth it.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

PDX Restaurant Raves: Swagat Indian Cuisine

My fiance and I (and my whole family, for that matter) are huge fans of Southern Asian cuisine. When looking for a good Indian place up here, we hadn't made much headway. A random craving for chicken tikka masala last night left me searching high and low for the best Indian place in PDX.

We ended up at Swagat's, a tucked away restaurant on Lovejoy St. in the Alphabet District. We were seated right away at a little table in the dining room and ordered beverages. My fiance is a fan of beer, while I love to try house martinis and went with the Rose Petal. Like it's name, it was a flowery, refreshing drink with crushed mint. We decided to skip appetizers and order the Thali dinners - a lunch special-esque deal...just for dinner. For $14-16, you get your entree, rice, raita, several sides of vegetables, soup, fresh naan and a dessert. Since I'm vegetarian, I went with the vegetable version of chicken tikka masala - a mix of nine different vegetables in a sweet, slightly spiced curry while my handsome date went with the chicken makhani - pieces of chicken cooked in a buttery curry sauce.

The Thali dinners were an awesome amount of food for the price, but I think in the future we'll stick with one Thali dinner and one entree a la carte. Otherwise it's just an insane amount of food - but does make for great leftovers!

Prices overall were really great, so if you're in the area, definitely eat at Swagat! They have an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet for around $9, as well!

Friday, November 11, 2011

It's Payday! A weekend shopping haul.

I rarely purchase myself frivolous items these days. I've got more important things to pay for, now that I'm out on my own. But since I've been working a ton lately and clocking some overtime, I was ready to get myself a few things as a treat.

First stop? Nordstrom. I've been dying to try Laura Mercier's tinted moisturizer. I've purchased her lip stains and lip glace's, but have never tried her face makeup. During the day, I like more simple makeup, so I had a sales associate color match me and was instantly hooked. I chose the color Porcelain, of course, their lightest shade because I'm whiiiiiiite, and loved the light and non-greasy coverage. It looked like I was wearing no makeup, but in the best way possible. They make an oil-free version as well, though I went with the original formula since my face has been quite dry since the weather changed.

(Photo cred:; Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer SPF20, $42)

While I was there, and because the sales girl looked like Kristen Wiig and I wanted her to like me, I asked her to show me these awesome Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick-esque products called Mosaic  Shimmer Blocs. The cool thing about these is that you can use the four shades for eyes or cheeks. They have four different mosaics, with four different shades in each ranging from pinks to bronzes. Just a light swipe on the cheeks made for a great natural, dewey looking sheen.
(Photo cred:; Laura Mercier Mosaic Shimmer Block, Pink Mosaic, $38)

Next I scooted over to Sephora, another favorite shop, and browsed until I found some things that caught my eye.

I've always loved Marc Jacobs perfumes, and one of his scents, Daisy, is a truly standout fragrance. I've wanted it for a while, and after smelling it on one of my amazing friends a while ago, it's always been in the back of my mind. If you haven't smelled this, I suggest you try it! It's young, it's floral, and it's super sexy.
(Photo cred:; Marc Jacobs Daisy, 3.4fl oz, $78)

While at Sephora, I also bought a few other things that really weren't worth mentioning - a nondescript blush brush, setting spray, etc. 

However, if you happen to have any suggestions of things to check out, let me know! I'm in a purchasing mood.

I'm such a Lush!

I only recently discovered Lush. I happened to visit a shopping area in Anaheim, CA with my fiance a while back and wandered in to browse. Needless to say, I was hooked right away by their products. Does anyone remember the Skinmarket? I adored that place in junior high, and was devastated when it closed, and Lush is practically the same thing!

This awesome shop offers handmade soaps, bath bombs. shower jellies, face masks, and hair products. I've always been a big bath person (I get it, it's not for everyone), so this place is like heaven!

As I write this, I'm currently wearing their Oatifix Fresh Face Mask - a delicious-smelling, soothing blend of oatmeal and mashed bananas made for people with dry and flaky skin. A tub of this will run you around $6.95 and can get you at least 8-10 uses! The only downfall is the expiration dates - because of the promised freshness, the face masks are only good for around two weeks.

Lush's bath bombs and bath melts are in categories all themselves. I've never used anything as fun as these! The bath bombs, as the name would inspire, are compacted bath salts that fizz once they hit the hot water. Try the Sex Bomb for a floraly, jasmine-scented bath but beware any of the bombs with glitter in them. You will NEVER get it off of you, or your clothes, or your bedding, or your carpet. The previously mentioned, bath melts are a small bar of various scents and textures and colors that is designed to melt ever-so-slowly into your bath water to leave a relaxing or invigorating scent - depending on what you're into.

Instead of having me just blab on and on about these awesome products, go check one out or visit their website, here! This is an incredibly affordable and fun way to pamper yourselves. Sorry I said pamper.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Black Swan - a DIY costume for under $20

I've never been a DIY'er, I'd rather pay the extra $$ to have it done for me. This year for Halloween I decided, and my budget decided, that I should scale it down and create my own costume. I knew, since I saw the movie, that I wanted to be Natalie Portman's character in Black Swan.

While my costume wasn't exact, it was pretty damn close....and pretty damn cheap. I paid $14.99 at a costume store for the black tutu and $2.99 for the little tiara. Other than that I paired black tights, some lululemon shorts underneath the tutu, a cami from Express and some ballet flats.

The makeup was a lot more detailed up close but this is what I ended up with!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

My Top Four Fragrances Of All Time (so far...)

I've been thinking about fragrances a lot lately...this happens to me when I'm running low on perfume - which rarely actually happens because I generally have 10+ bottles in my armoire. Some people have their signature fragrances, or their one bottle - and I'm just not one of those may be be rooted in an inability to make up my mind, or simply the fact that I'm noncommittal. So without further ado, here are my favorite perfumes of all time!

1.  The original Juicy Couture perfume. Released in 2006 (or 2007, not quite sure), I snatched this perfume up the second it hit stores. While I love all of the Juicy fragrances, you just can't beat the original one, a mandarin-based scent. I get compliments every time I wear it, a tell-tale sign you made a good choice. (Photo cred:

2. Balenciaga. It was a long time coming for this design house to release a fragrance, and they didn't disappoint. Though, like the original Vera Wang scent, it can be deemed "mature", there's just something about the scent of violets that I can't walk away from. Everything from the bottle to the box was meticulously designed and executed. Though I only wear it for special occasions, Balenciaga is the one fragrance I display in my bathroom or on an end table. So beautiful! (Photo cred:

3. Hermes eau de Marveilles. This perfume never fails me. My dear friend Andi purchased it at an Hermes sample sale in NYC a few years back and I couldn't stop thinking about it after I smelled it on her. When we visited Europe in 2009, I made sure one of my first stops in Paris was at Hermes. Since then, I've purchased a bottle for my mom for Christmas, and had strangers on the street and random co-workers stop me to ask what I was wearing. A very light, citrusy fragrance that reminds me of clean laundry (expensive clean laundry). (Photo cred:

4. I've always loved gardenia, and Marc Jacobs original scent is no exception. A staple for me since 2005, I can't say enough good things about this perfume. Feminine, light, great lasting power, elegant...I just love this perfume. Makes for a great every day scent. (Photo cred:

What are your favorite perfumes?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sushi and the City

(Photo cred:

If you're ever looking for great sushi in Portland, go to Masu! Now, this is not for the "hole-in-the-wall-I-strictly-eat-sashimi" type, so if that's you don't bother reading further. Located on the second floor with large bay windows, Masu has a distinct chic city-loft feel. 

A great thing about Portland is that the city really capitalizes on the whole Happy Hour thing, which makes it easy for people to have a nice meal at a decent price. My fiance and I visited there on a Sunday night for their Happy Hour special. The decor was minimalistic and modern, centered around a sushi bar and a larger main bar in the middle of the restaurant. We were seated at a quiet table near one of the windows, which had a really lovely view. 

(Photo cred:

We ordered several basic rolls from the Happy Hour menu, including salmon and vegetable rolls, as well as a starter course of pickled vegetables (with drool-worthy house-made kimchi!) and a Dungeness crab sunomono salad. I'm a sucker for the specialty rolls, though, so I knew I needed to try the "Death By Sushi" roll that's described on their menu as "salmon, unagi, crab, avocado and cream cheese rolled and fried then topped with masago, green onion, fantasy and eel sauce". The very light crisp from the fryer offered an incredible crunch, and who doesn't love cream cheese? It was one of the best rolls I've had!

We then ordered a seasonal specialty and general restaurant favorite, the fried tofu and grilled fig in a delicious ponzu-esque broth. The tofu was fried to perfection - combined in a bite with the fig was a truly delicious experience, and by far the star dish of the evening.

If you ever get a chance, make sure to try this place! Delicious food, great ambiance and reasonable prices (especially during Happy Hour).

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Product Rave: Clarisonic Mia

(Photo cred:

After wanting one for years, I finally took the plunge and bought a Clarisonic Mia. For those of you who aren't aware, oscillating face cleansing brushes are quite the fad lately and many brands (Olay, Neutrogena, etc) have come out with their own. To my knowledge, Clarisonic remains one of the leading brands in this field, even at the stiff price.

Clarisonic offers several types and sizes of brushes, but the travel-capable, cordless Mia seemed the most efficient for me. Clarisonic promises that their product "cleanses 6x better than with your hands alone" and that it "prepares skin for better absorption of creams, serums and moisturizers".

After a little over a week of using it twice per day, I do notice my skin is much smoother and softer.  My makeup comes off a lot better, too. I'll be excited to see how it works in the long run! When you purchase it, it comes with a sample size of the Clarisonic brand of face wash, but I just use my regular cleanser with it.

Bottom line: Buy it if you have the extra cash ($149) and are curious, otherwise there are plenty of other options that are easier on the wallet.

Monday, October 17, 2011


I can't believe I've neglected my blog baby for this long! I swore I'd do better this time. I've been really busy at work, plus I started a weekend class and on top of all of that, I went home for about five days at the beginning of October. It was amazing to see my family and my adorable fur child, plus I got to go to my BFF's engagement party!

Considering my BFF happens to be extremely stylish as well, I'll post this picture showing what we wore that night.

On Ashley (left): Urban Outfitters Lace-Top Dress, on me (right): Nordstrom dress, from Brass Plum section, can't seem to find it anywhere on the website) 

Ashley wore minimal jewelry due to the high neckline and the detail of the dress -- besides, girl's gotta show off her amazing diamond ring! I wore a simple Sonya Renee labradorite pendant from my favorite jewelry website, The Current Custom, and some awesome earrings I got at a jewelry party ages ago. Ashley has amazing decorating and party planning skills and seriously needs to open up her own business.

I've been on a bit of a dress kick lately, as that seems to be the area of my closet I have neglected lately. So while I was home I went over to Anthropologie with my mom and snagged a few things, one of them being this amazing dress:

(Photo cred:, Unconditional Osier dress, $168)

I love the design and detail of the dress, and let's be honest, it was made for redheads. I can't wait to wear this with opaque black tights and some pretty heels I've stowed away in my closet. So fall appropriate and SO cute.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Manicure Monday!

I've aptly titled these my "My Little Pony nails" because that's exactly what they remind me of! So here we have two coats of Essie's Ladylike (from their new Fall collection) and a single coat of OPI's Teenage Dream (from the Katy Perry collection, a universal favorite). I love this combination right now. As a girl it's not too hard to love things that sparkle, ya know? And I love how the camera picked up the glitter in the polish here - so fun!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Arm Party 9.24.11

Stacking your jewelry is one of the easiest ways to accessorize an outfit. I tend to stack bracelets and watches as opposed to necklaces because I can't stand when a necklace gets tangled.

Here's what I'm wearing out and about today: my favorite Michael Kors rose gold watch, and four of my David Smallcombe cuff bracelets (two silver and two gold). I love mixing metals, and I surprisingly really liked the rose gold mixed with regular gold.

Generally when I stack jewelry I leave my other gems to a minimum so I'm wearing a simple Tiffany & Co bracelet on my right arm and a delicate necklace.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Manicure Monday!

Here's what we've got on the nails this week:

Essie's Demure Vixen. I bought this color at random about a year ago, tried it once and wasn't thrilled. Yesterday I was searching for a color to use from my ridiculous collection of nail lacquer and stumbled across this, so I decided to give it another shot. I'm really glad I did, because I love it! The mauvey pink looks great with fair skin and the mild pink duochrome adds a nice touch in certain lights. Essie polishes have a really smooth, wonderful formula that is so easy to apply. 

The color is subtle enough to wear daily, and looks chic when dressed up with a cute outfit and accessories. Loving this polish right now!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Seeing Red (and a few other colors): Fall's Brightly Colored Denim

I remember a few years ago, colored jeans were a big hit. We saw reality "starlets" and a few brave fashion forward girls sporting bright yellow or red jeans but the trend never really caught on, and before we knew it we were on to bigger and better things.

This time around, I'm pretty excited about the prospect of a colored jean. I'm partial to the red, personally, but I think the seafoam greens and the marigolds are going to look amazing on the right person.

J.Brand makes a fab pair of ankle length ones in their 811 style, a classic skinny. They come in a variety of colors and will run you around $170, depending where you shop.

(Photo cred:

While the J.Brands are cute, I'm REALLY loving this borderline salmon-colored pair from a brand called Pilcro, carried at Anthropologie.

(Photo cred:

This new denim trend is a great way to mix up your wardrobe for Fall and give you an opportunity to play with different color palettes and tops. I know I'll be heading out this weekend to Anthropologie to grab myself a pair of the aforementioned jeans. 

The Pages I Turn(ed) - September 2011

(Photo cred: Google Images of The Hunger Games)

I've never been one for the "young adult" genre. At 24, I feel like reading books about teenagers is a little weird (except Harry Potter, of course), but when I saw my fiance's friend reading the book The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, it piqued my interest. I had worked at a bookstore for a while, and always had people asking me, "Do you have The Hunger Games?" or "Is The Hunger Games back in stock?".

I purchased the first book last month, and I'll be honest, it took me a little while to get into it. After the first few chapters, the story REALLY takes off and I was hooked. The story follows Katniss, a teenage girl living in a time when the fictitious country of Panem has been split into thirteen districts -- each district exporting some sort of good to the Capitol. The story takes place after District Thirteen began a rebellion that ended poorly for the rebels, and caused the Capitol to take on an all-consuming "1984-esque" power over the people. As punishment for the rebellion, each year a  female and male child between 12 and 18 is selected to take part in the Hunger Games, a veritable fight to the death, where only one winner survives.

The Hunger Games is the first in a trilogy, and each book is better than the next. The final book, Mockingjay, has an ending that sparked some anger in fans of the series, and I myself wasn't thrilled with it. I say definitely read it if you've got some spare time; Collins weaves a gripping story. The Hunger Games has been made into a film that just wrapped a few days ago, though short previews are already bouncing around YouTube.

I haven't decided what I'm reading next month just yet, but I have a few more days to figure it out, I gladly welcome any suggestions!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

MAC Attack: MAC Me Over Fall 2011 collection

If you're makeup obsessed like me, you probably have to keep a close eye on your MAC addiction (or maybe you don't, and power to you!). They're constantly releasing new collections, and it can get pretty expensive. For a while it was getting so bad that I would think of ways to get the day off, or skip lunch with a friend, in order to make sure I could get THE lipstick(s) or THE eyeshadow(s) that I needed to have or my life couldn't go on.

I've since put my addiction under control and have not bought any new MAC item for over a year now! So I felt, today, that I deserved a little break from break from MAC, ya know?

I've perused the MAC Me Over collection a few times, and have ooh'ed and ahh'ed over the berry lipsticks, the cool greys and olives of the eyeshadows, so I sort of knew what I wanted when I breezed into Nordstrom.

I nabbed an eyeshadow quad called Lady Grey, a beautiful palette of a pink/nude, a shimmery purple, a heather grey, and a grey/olive shade. I'm rarely able to focus on my makeup during the week because of my job, not to mention you look a little ridic in full-blown makeup while wearing scrubs, so I was excited that I had the time and a reason (date night) to fix my face.

And since no look is complete without a nice lip, I purchased their lipglass in Good Times, a mauvey-pink (leaning more towards pink) that reminds me of a mix between their ever-popular Oyster Girl and a limited edition from FOREVER ago called Nymph.

(This photo is a little enhanced with Instagram because the color was just NOT coming up otherwise. It's a much more muted color in person)

Anyway, I just love this collection and may have to return to purchase a few of their paint pots and lipsticks I eyed on my way out. This is one of their larger collections that I've seen, so there's really something for everyone!

P.S. how cute is my new phone case?!

This is a NEARLY IDENTICAL replica of the MR DANNIJO (a collab of DANNIJO, a billiant jewelry line, and Man Repeller - she's awesome) Mus iPhone 4 case that sells for $98 on their website. I got mine for $38 in the Nordstrom accessories area. The real thing is always better, but since I'm on a budget these days, this one will do for now!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Jewel Jam: Lulu Frost for J.Crew

In fashion, everyone has their one sub-category that they gravitate towards. Mine happens to be jewelry. While browsing shops online, I found these amazing bangles from the Lulu Frost for J.Crew collection. Lulu Frost is a jewelry brand based out of NYC that started in 2004. I'd never heard of it before seeing this collection on J.Crew's website, but it piqued my interest and after some more research, I'd say I'm definitely a fan!

Statement pieces are something I think every girl needs in her wardrobe - whether it's a bangle, necklace, ring, whatever your style is! These bracelets, starting at $45, are a great way to introduce some color into your wardrobe (color-blocked bangles, anyone?), while keeping it chic and sophisticated (which J.Crew always does!)

Here's my two favorites, below:

(Photo cred: turquoise stone bangle, $68)

(Photo cred: wide Deco bangle, $118

I love the variety in width, color and price. It makes pairing a few, or wearing just one super cute!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Missoni for Target: Hit or Miss?

What did you all think of the Missoni for Target line? It launched today and apparently crashed the website more than once and was sold out most places before noon.

I have to say, I've never been a huge Missoni fan as is, and the items I saw from the collection didn't impress me too much. Maybe it was their zigzag pattern, and maybe it was their color palettes. Or maybe it's just sour grapes that I didn't get anything from it!

Either way, I may stop by tomorrow and see if I can pick up their one item that DID catch my eye -- the throw. There's a Target on my way to work that's out in the boonies and I may have a chance of scoring their cute blanket there. 

Did anybody get anything cool?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Fashion Friday

In lieu of NY Fashion Week, here are a few of my favorite fashion sites to go to! - this site is wonderful for catching up on the latest runway shows. They post pictures of all the looks, plus have tons of other great features on their website. Can't say enough how much I love this site!

Who What Wear - I discovered these girls a while ago and LOVE what they do! I purchased their new book What To Wear, Where and it has tons of great ideas on how to put together outfits. Their "Look of the Day" segment is where I get some of my favorite style ideas.

Refinery29 - Any stylish girl I know loves Refinery29. Their website is similar to WWW, as it discusses trends and such, but this one goes area specific (NYC, San Fran, LA, etc.). They've got a lot of great slideshows on the cutest tights to wear for fall, or the best summer dresses to find on sale right now.

Gilt - I joined Gilt back when it was invite-only (I heard this I correct?) after being introduced by a particularly stylish friend on my newspaper staff in college. If you've been living under a rock for the last few years, Gilt is a discounted high-fashion sale site. Certain designers are featured on given dates and items are offered at a greatly discounted price. It's online, so the only downside is you may not know the correct size to order. I've purchased some GREAT jewelry from their jewelry sales (think Chan Luu, CC Skye, House of Harlow 1960).

Friday, September 2, 2011

Review: Benefit "They're Real!" mascara

Makeup is always something I've adored, starting with blue eyeshadow when I was twelve. My mom never wore much makeup while I was growing up, so I didn't have anyone to really teach me the foundations. Left to my own devices, I, admittedly, made many a faux pas in my journey, but after a few years I had mastered the contours of my own face.

As a beauty junkie, I LOVE to try new products. Last month I ran into Sephora to grab a new tube of mascara and left with Benefit's new mascara, called "They're Real!". The salesgirl assured me it was even superior to the holy grail that is BadGal lash (a cult favorite). Today was my first time using it, and let me just say....I really love it!

(Photo cred:

Off to the review!

I'm always a sucker for the extra cute packaging that Benefit is known for, and this mascara bottle is no exception. The wand, another important factor while choosing a mascara, is one I am partial to as well. If you've ever used Cover Girl's Lash Blast mascara, the wand for this one is very similar. Sparse-looking bristles. The sparseness is actually a good thing, because it allows for more precise coating (and also makes getting those baby lashes toward your inner eye a piece of cake!). The box instructs you to hold VERTICALLY for separating and curling and HORIZONTALLY to achieve max volume.

(My fave mascara trick: hold the wand horizontally at the very base of your lashes and shimmy it back and forth while slowwwwly drawing it up your lashes. It never fails to make lashes look amazing after nearly one coat.)

They're Real! is available wherever Benefit is sold (Sephora, Macy's, etc) and is a permanent part of their collection. A bottle will run you $22.

Bottom Line: Buy! I have a feeling this will become a permanent part of MY collection as well.

Look at the length! Those are almost cheek-grazing lashes!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Fab Fitness On A Budget

Yesterday's post got me thinking...exercise is really expensive. Now, I know it doesn't have to be, I know that running outside is free. Push-ups are free. Sit-ups don't cost a dime. I get that. But for people who need the extra motivation of a fitness class, or who prefer equipment like treadmills, ellipticals, etc., it can get pretty expensive.

I recently moved out on my own. Living at home, my expenses were minimal and I made good money at my job so I was able to afford a gym membership. Since leaving the nest, I've had to cut costs and make tough decisions (i.e. which do I want more, Netflix or LA Fitness? Netflix, of course).

Here are a few of my secrets to staying fit while on a budget:

1. Take advantage of first-time client deals and discounts! This may be a no-brainer to the fiscally-responsible, but it was a new thing for me. After accepting I can't afford a monthly yoga membership or a commitment to a full-time gym, I shopped around for the activities I DID want to try, and asked about trial classes or first-time client discounts. The Barre3 class I took? 3 classes for $30 as a first-timer, otherwise classes run $20/per and $199/month for unlimited. Many places will offer a free trial class, or at least highly discounted. Just shop around.

2. Speaking of Netflix. If you're an exercise DVD person, Netflix has TONS of fitness dvds on their Instant Watch option. Select a yoga video or pilates and get started.

3. Tone It Up! The lovely ladies of Tone It Up, Karena and Katrina, changed my life. As certified nutritionists, they sell their meal plan for about $150. BUT, they offer YouTube videos that show full-body or area-specific workouts that you can do at home, on a break, or at the beach. They do "challenge" segments that are COMPLETELY free. You sign up and get an email sharing a calendar they created for you that shows what to do for the entire month. They also email special things to cut out of your diet during challenge months, new workout videos they have posted, and healthy recipes to get you excited about exercise and eating healthy. Their Bikini Challenge is what introduced me to them, and got me on a great path. They are starting a new Fall Challenge soon that includes give-aways. So check them out, here!

So there you have it, a few ideas to keep your body guessing and not slipping into the same old routine, while still not breaking the bank.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


(Photo cred: Google Images Barre 3)

Well, like I promised, I'd update you guys on my Barre3 experience. The dance studio was beautiful and the instructor, Darcy, was extremely welcoming. She walked me through the process of a typical barre class to let me know what to expect.

No amount of explanation could've prepared me for this class. I've NEVER in my life taken a class that was so difficult, while not sweating at all! We started with light cardio, side lunges, etc. then moved to the barre where we did stretches and more leg work. Half an hour in, my legs were shaking so badly I almost couldn't stand!

Most studios have different barre heights. I accidentally chose the medium height, not realizing there was a difference. I have the shortest legs in the world so next time I'll be sticking with the short barre.

The more flexible you are, the easier the barre stretching will be for you (obviously?). I'm about as flexible as a steel rod, so...that part was really difficult for me. You finish up with squats, ballet leg positioning plus pulsing, and pilates-esque mat work.

I felt completely exhausted afterwards and am now sitting on my couch at home, and probably won't leave here the rest of the day! I'll update tomorrow on my soreness level, but if you guys are looking for a solid workout class, shop around for a good deal at a local studio near to you. A lot of places have first-time client intro prices, and Groupon/Living Social sometimes has vouchers for these types of places, as they tend to be pretty expensive.

UPDATE 9/1/11: I am EXTREMELY sore today! But I already can't wait to go back!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A veritable Black Swan

Attempting Pure Barre tomorrow morning! Believe me, I'll be updating you guys as soon as I get home.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Menu Monday!

In lieu of my alliteration (and also because I lack a new manicure) I had going with Manicure Monday, today we find ourselves at Menu Monday. I was actually going to save this for another day to try to do some other snazzy alliteration, but we'll just go with it for today.

My friend Anna and I have a weekly Monday lunch date, a Mondate if you will. We've been trying out some fun restaurants all over the city and today we tried Pambiche, a delicious Cuban place on Glisan. As I'm on a budget, we stuck with their two o-clock happy hour menu. The great thing about my city is that tons of the incredible restaurants offer a really legit happy hour that tends to focus more on the food than the drinks.

The brightly painted building that houses Pambiche is tough to miss, and the inside is just as colorful. A delicious-looking dessert window greets you as you walk in filled with tres leches cake, a guava cheesecake, and an array of chocolate desserts.

Anna and I ordered the Pinosa, a mix of fresh pineapple juice and sparkling wine. Anything with pineapple juice is a-okay with me, and this was no exception. We decided to get a few plates to share and went with the Yuca con Mojo, a fried cassava root served with garlic creole mojo. The root had the exact texture and consistency of a french fry and the garlic sauce it was served with was amazing! I poured it on all the rest of my food. We also got the basic Frijoles Negros, black beans and rice, and a potato and cheese empanada. All of our food was full of flavor and very filling. And for getting out of there just under $20? Can't beat that.

I will definitely be going back to try their regular dinner menu in the future.

(The yummy Pinosa!)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Vegetarian Tuscan Soup recipe!

Everyone, foodie or not, likes a little Olive Garden once in a while. It's easy to like - creamy, salty and sometimes fried comfort food. While I gave up their entree's a while ago, I am quite addicted to their Zuppa Toscana soup -- a delicious cream-based soup with potato, kale, and Italian sausage.

Being vegetarian off and on throughout the years (currently it's on, and has stuck for longer than ever), this soup was always my weakness. A friend of mine passed this recipe along to me, and though it may not be Olive Garden's exact recipe, it tastes IDENTICAL.

I'll post the actual recipe as sent to me at the end, but will now post my entirely vegetarian recipe of this delicious dish!

What you'll need:

- 5 vegetarian chicken bouillon cubes. I got mine at a local market called New Seasons, which is similar to Whole Foods. Most fine grocery stores should carry it
-1/4 head of kale, washed and chopped as desired, stalks removed
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 10 cups water
- 1 lb. veggie sausage/ground beef
- 1 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
- 3 large cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 large onion, diced OR 2 medium sized shallots (I prefer the latter)
- 1 lb. slived Russet potatoes, or 3 large potatoes

What to do:

1. Start by mincing and dicing your shallot/onion and your garlic. Sautee these in a large pot until the onion/shallot become soft. Onions take a teeny bit longer than shallots to cook, in my experience at least.

2. Add the vegetarian "chicken" bouillon and the water and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the sliced potatoes and cook until soft. I found this took about 20-25 minutes on a medium heat

4. While you're doing this, cook your vegetarian meat you will be using. Honestly, this recipe doesn't really need it and is hearty enough without it, but if you're so inclined, brown the veggie meat/sausage in a separate pan with the red pepper flakes. Set aside.

5. Stir the heavy cream into the water/bouillon/garlic/shallot mix.

6. Finally stir in veggie meat and toss in your chopped kale.

Give it a good stir and allow it to heat for a few minutes, serve and enjoy!

It turned out wonderful and I can't wait to make it again! This particular recipe makes 6-8 servings, so I had PLENTY of leftovers.

As promised, here is the non-vegetarian version. Click here.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Crunchy Kale Salad - a recipe post

After having a few particularly delicious kale salads at various restaurants, I was dying to try one of my own. I posted on Facebook that if any of my friends knew of some great kale recipes, they should send them my way.

My friend Brianna recommnded her mom's kale salad recipe, and after looking it over I made some minor tweaks to fit my tastebuds and was off to the store!

What you'll need: kale (I went with Trader Joe's already chopped and cleaned kale), red pepper flakes (all I had on hand was my South African Smoke spice/rub which did the job just fine), cayenne pepper, olive oil, one whole lemon, and two cloves of garlic (or more - depending on what you like!)

1. You'll want to start with your desired amount of kale. I used about a third of the 10 oz bag that I purchased and that was satisfactory for two people. I was informed prior to making this that it's important to thoroughly wash your kale before consumption as it can contain parasites. Since I bought it from a reputable establishment and there were no known recalls or problems with kale at the time, I just washed it quickly in my colander. Also, the kale I had purchased was a pre-cut and pre-rinsed one.

2. It's important to cut the stiff spines off the kale. There are spines on almost every piece you will see, the the ones that require chopping will be very apparent. So chop off the large, stiff stalks and chop your kale into 1-1.5 in. strips. I just kind of went over the kale with my knife a few times and it made it into satisfactory sized pieces.

3. Chop your garlic. I minced two cloves and tossed them in a bowl on top of the kale like so:

4. Slice and juice your lemon. I love fresh-squeezed lemon in a salad dressing! Delicious.

5. Add olive oil to thoroughly coat the salad. You can honestly add as much or as little as you want, just make sure each leaf is coated. I free poured it until it felt right.

6. Not pictured: 1/2 tsp. of red pepper flakes and a few dashes of cayenne pepper. The pepper flakes I currently owned did not have nearly enough heat for my taste, hence the cayenne. 

7. Also not pictured: a handful of parmesan cheese. This really binds the dressing and coats the salad with delicious flavor. You can do shredded, but I had the kind that says it's grated but it's really like a powder. I added a small handful of that and it worked wonders with the rest of the ingredients.

Now, you can stop there if you're so inclined. But at another friends suggestion, I added some sliced avocado. The combination of the crunchy kale and the creamy avocado really made the salad a big hit for me.

8. We sliced up half of an avocado and mixed it in with the salad.

9. Give the salad a THOROUGH stir/toss/mix, whichever you do. Sprinkle with a small amount of salt to taste and voila!

Enjoy! Check back later for more recipes! I'll be doing a few more things with kale over the next few days!