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Why not try a fragrance that evokes images of a tropical locale?

 Every year, Escada releases a limited edition fruity floral fragrance (heads up: if you need 2007’s Moon Sparkle, snap it up quickly before its gone). New for 2008 is Ocean Lounge. Featuring notes of lychee, plum, pear nectar, strawberry meringue, violet petal sorbet, mimosa blossom, jasmine, amber, sheer vanilla, and teak wood, it’s a fragrance that will mentally transport you to a beach where your day consists of sipping drinks poolside.

This new offering, to me, smells like strawberry bubble gum and fruit punch. Ocean Lounge is currently available at Nordstrom and will be launching at Sephora and other stores in January.

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For those of you who are old enough to remember waiting for the Smurfs to air on TV every weekend (and for those who watch it in reruns), Too Faced has a treat for you. Soon to be launching at a Sephora near you comes a collection of Smurf inspired limited edition goodies. I was so excited when I saw this super cute collection reminiscent of my childhood! It features an eye shadow quad, illuminating powder with the silhouette of Smurfette, two glitter eye liners (“Smurf You” – a lovely shade of royal blue, and “Feelin’ Smurfy” – a pretty and ethereal shade of white that picks up the color of anything underneath), and a lipgloss that is mood activated.

If the lip gloss sounds familiar, that’s because there is a similar version in the regular line. The limited edition Smurf packaging features Smurfette and it comes out of the tube in a shimmery shade of light blue. The gloss reacts with your body chemistry to turn your own personalized shade of pink. If you’re at all familiar with Smashbox O-Glow, the concept is similar.

MAC is soon to be releasing their Hello Kitty collection, but really, who needs Hello Kitty when it’s been done a million different times? I’ve seen the HK MAC stuff and I’m really unimpressed, plus the prices are just ridiculous. Smurf imaging is rarely done so this collection is a special treat that everyone should be snapping up ASAP before supplies are gone.

Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2008

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I’ve already had my holiday celebration last night since my family and I celebrate on Christmas Eve. The only thing on my list this year were slippers and I received 3 pairs. It’s pretty safe to say I won’t need slippers for a while.

I do not enjoy making Christmas lists. I much rather enjoy little (or big) surprise gifts that were hand picked by loved ones. Many of the gifts I’ve loved the most were not things that I asked for and meant a lot more then someone handing me a gift card. I try not to give gift cards and enjoy picking things out and wrapping them. What do I do when I have someone on my list who is hard to shop for? I try to find something. Even if it’s just a little thing to add to a package with the dreaded GC.

Some of my favorite gifts to give for those hard to shop for people who have everything and want nothing include:

  • Wine or other alcohol (for the known drinkers)
  • Gender neutral bath and body products that are unscented or lightly scented
  • Candles and/or candle holders
  • Cozy throws
  • Hand made jewelry
  • Tea or coffee
  • Stationary and pens
  • Fun books
  • Unusual kitchen gadgets

The news is reporting that tomorrow is supposed to be like a second Black Friday. I was hoping for the holiday chaos and crowds to be finished. While I completely understand that everyone wants the best bargains, especially this year, I do not condone how most people behave while holiday shopping. If you plan on being out tomorrow, please make sure you are well rested, in a good mood, and take your time shopping instead of being in a hurry.

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The bedroom redesign project that I started several months ago is nearly complete. I am contemplating repainting my blue accent wall because the color is a few shades off from what I expected. It was supposed to be a light aqua-blue and instead it was mixed as a light blue with no traces of aqua.  I am love, love, loving the shape wall applications (above) from designpublic.com and will probably purchase two sets, though I’m not certain which to choose. They come primed white and you can either leave them that way or paint them. Decisions, decisions.

New chair and Skyn Iceland

December 19, 2008

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I am excited because my new chair should be arriving any moment. According to UPS package tracker, it was in Oakland yesterday, which means it should be here TODAY!

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Skyn Iceland is hands down one of my favorite skin care lines. Right now, Sephora has the Fundamentals Kit at a fantastic price-only $70 for three full sized products (which basically equals getting one item free). The kit includes Glacial Face Wash, a fantastic cleanser for everyone, especially those with irritated, congested, or oily skin (I have all three). I use it with my Clarisonic brush and my skin feels super clean without being stripped, dry, or tight. The Antidote moisturizer helps to prevent redness, irritation, is light weight and oil free, features a mild cooling sensation and helps prevent breakouts. And the Iceland Relief eye cream is my number 1 all time favorite eye cream (I used to be loyal to Perricone’s Advanced Eye Area Therapy…but no more). It hydrates, de-puffs, helps with dark circles, and even helps with fine lines and wrinkles. It’s light weight and is great under concealer as a primer because it has subtle light reflecting properties. My skin has been misbehaving more this winter then in past years so I recently incorporated Skyn Iceland Pure Cloud Cream in my routine at night for a little more hydration and so far my skin feels better. No more irritation, redness or occasional dry patches.

Saturday I bought a GHD IV styling iron and it’s pretty much dreamy. I wanted the sleek limited edition Dark IV on the right below (that comes with a cute matching heat-resistant bag), however, my Sephora doesn’t carry many special sets . So I got the regular GHD IV. There’s no difference in performance of either.

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Some of my favorite key features of the GHD IV include :

  • Automatic shut-off if you leave the iron unused for 30 minutes. Also, automatic shut-off if it overheats.
  • A smart microchip that senses how much you’re using the iron and heats itself back up to prevent what I call cold-iron syndrome (after you’ve straightened half of your hair, you realize your iron has dropped in temperature and you have to wait for it to reheat until you finish the other half).
  • Heats up quickly. Seemingly faster then the speed of light!
  • Easily creates curls and waves.
  • Is less damaging to hair then other irons.
  • Leaves you with smooth, shiny, silky hair.

I timed myself and it took a total of 8 minutes to straighten my hair. With other irons it can take upwards of  30-45 minutes. I’d say the GHD was an investment well made.

Winter fave: knit shawls

December 12, 2008

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I’ve been eyeing these two lovely ivory shawls on etsy from Trendyknitting. The left is very similar to one I almost bought at a little boutique but I just couldn’t fork over $100 for something I’d only wear occasionally. These are also more then I’d want to pay (plus shipping) so for now I’ll just stick to admiring them. Another and more affordable option is this knit neck warmer from Urban Outfitters.

Perfecting the red lip

December 11, 2008

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I received the Stila Paint Your Pout Red talking lipstick palette last month and just tried it today. The talking palettes are great for someone who doesn’t know much about the art of makeup or needs a little help perfecting a red lip or smokey eye. The palette features a great range of colors, including cool red, true red, and warm red. An added bonus is the lip smoother. What’s the point in trying to perfect the red lip if you have chapped, dry, flaky lips?

Some of my favorite red lip tips that the palette doesn’t cover are:

  • Prep: Exfoliate lips with an exfoliant designed for the lip area (Philosophy, Benefit, and Tarte all make lip exfoliating treatments and Sephora makes a lip peel mask). On a budget? Mix a bit of sugar with olive oil and voila! Exfoliation and hydration in one.
  • Prime: For added insurance against fading and feathering, try a lip primer (I love Shiseido Benefiance Full Correction Lip Treatment.)
  • Define: I am a strong believer that every red lip needs a lip pencil. Try Makeup Forever Aqua Lip. They’re rich, creamy and glide right on with the added bonus of being drink proof and smudge proof.  Need something long lasting and a little more budget friendly? Sephora makes a long wearing liner that features a blending brush on the end. Whatever liner you use, be sure to blend the line so it’s not harsh and blend onto the entire lip. I’d also personally throw in a reverse liner (I like Duwop and Cargo) to ensure your beautiful red lip doesn’t feather.
  • Choosing your red: There are several different types and hues of red lipstick to pick from. I love the selection that Nars, Sephora, and Clinique have because they offer great color ranges in multiple finishes (matte, simi-matte, cream, shimmer,etc). I’m not one of those makeup artists who swear that those with cool undertones should stick with cool toned reds and warm should stick with warm. If you’re cool and like warm shades, go for it! Wear what you like and what looks good. That said, there are several sites that can direct you to the “proper” hue, just do a google search if you need more direction. That said, I do like blue-reds on almost everyone because they help to brighten teeth.
  • Fill: Using a lip brush will give you even coverage and allows you to control the color placement and depth. Make sure to blot (I love coffee filters for blotting since they don’t leave behind any fibers) and reapply another layer. Don’t want lipstick on your teeth? Try this trick to catch any left over lipstick: Make an “O” shape with your mouth, insert a clean finger, press lips to finger (still in the “O” shape) and pull finger out.
  • Complexion:  If you are bit on the naturally rosy side, please be sure to wear a good coverage foundation so as to not bring attention to any redness in the complexion. And please, please, please don’t skip foundation on your upper lip.
  • Remember: Red lips can be high maintenance. You’ll want to catch glimpses of yourself in mirrors from time to time to make sure your color hasn’t faded.
  • The easy way out: If you don’t have time for the steps above, a simple and long lasting red lip can be achieved by filling the entire lip in with Makeup Forever Aqua Lip pencil and slicking some balm over it. In my experience, it’s quick and touch-ups are minimal. Do also exfoliate your lips.

If you like the red look and want to be less fussy or want it to be a sheer “I just ate a Popsicle” red, why not try a lip stain paired with a sheer red gloss. Personal faves of mine include TheBalm Stainiac in Prom Queen, Benefit Benetint lip and cheek stain (FYI: you need to work quickly blending it in), Nars Lip Gloss in Bloodwork (lightly blotting or using a balm underneath will sheer out the color a bit),  Urban Decay XXX Shine gloss in Guys Heart Betsy (added bonus: it’s minty), and Nars Lip Lacquer in Diablo.

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I made this for a birthday a few months ago. I intend for the toggle closure to be worn asymmetrical in the front. I’m rather liking this style and plan on doing more. I also like the option to wear it with the closure in the back or even as a lariat.  

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I love CB I Hate Perfume and wish they came in candle form. I can’t justify adding these little darlings to my fragrance collection because they will never be used. Luckily, I have a friend who from time to time will surprise me with little samples from her own collection. The most recent were Eternal Return and Winter 1972. Eternal Return is definitely a favorite, although I have smelled similar from “ocean” scents in the past. This version is just a bit more dead on and much more poetic. Winter 1972 is also lovely. It’s clean without being soapy although it’s something I would rather use as a room spray since it turned on my skin. CB, or Christopher Brosius, is the creator of many of the best selling Demeter fragrances. He left the company about four years ago and created the “I hate Perfume” brand. Check out his thoughts on perfume and the rest of his site.

Organization equals sanity

December 8, 2008

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I try to live by “there’s a place for everything and everything in its place.” Lately I’ve been slacking a bit lot and had gotten behind thanks to a busy November. I’m usually super organized, although last month I found myself mindlessly stashing bagfuls of random items under my bed and had piles of laundry hiding in my closet. If I can’t keep my personal spaces tidy and organized at least I try to feignez-le  (my slightly off French translation for “fake it.”)

I feel the most stressed out when my personal space is in disarray. For me, stress and clutter go hand in hand.  Last week I decided enough was enough and my secret clutter would build up no more! After taking a quick trip to Ikea, I came home with the Antonius storage system (the pull out bins on the right in the above photo.) So far so good. I have labeled each “drawer” and plan on returning for more Antonius components soon and will devote it to organizing my beauty stash.

I also picked up inexpensive wooden hangers. They make such a difference in how organized and clean my closet looks. So now that I’m back on track and life continues as usual, I need to go shopping to fill said new hangers.

Here are a few of my tips to faking a clutter free space if it drives you insane or company is coming over:

  • Inexpensive boxes (preferably with a decorative print or added flair) will always be your friend. You can hide anything in them, stack them neatly in a closet, and get back to them later. I love these for paperwork I can’t file or shred immediately. Boxes also work great for pet and kid toys, things that build up on the counter, desk clutter, shoes, etc.
  • Do away with the open laundry basket and find one with a lid, especially if you have snoopy guests. Nobody will ever know it’s been building up for a while. If your significant other, spouse, or kids shares one with you, banish their smelly socks to the laundry pronto! There’s nothing worse then the tell-tale sign of smelly laundry to ruin the facade. Don’t have a washer/drier? Try zip-lock baggies. Gross, I know, so make sure to get them in the wash ASAP.
  • If your bed is high enough, buy a plastic box you can store underneath and hide things there. Nobody will ever know. Bonus points if you have a bed skirt.
  • Dust is often a dead give away that your space needs a little TLC. No time to dust? Only dust where people can see. This can easily be done quickly between television commercials, while you’re on the phone, after you pop dinner in the oven, etc.

These are only temporary solutions so make sure to complete the full task correctly when you finally get a moment to breathe. And maybe get a mani-pedi or take a relaxing bath as a reward.

Want to avoid having to feignez-le? My dear Papa (grandfather) always says, “Pick it up and put it away.”