In progress: cooking.

I have never been one who enjoys cooking. Not even a little. I love the outcome (food!) and I dislike the prep, waiting, and cleanup. Growing up I was always lucky to have a wonderful and talented grandpa who could put things that you wouldn’t think went together and make a yummy meal of them. He was the king of food improv, and when he would use cookbooks, would often combine a few recipes if he didn’t think one would give him the outcome he wanted.

I like things to be fast and easy, and if it isn’t, I won’t bother making it. So I have been asking other people what they cook so I can feed myself like an actual adult.

So far I have found that I really like non-pasta pasta. Out of all of the interesting variations out there, I love brown rice pasta the best. I’ve been making my own sauce with (gasp) real tomatoes, and I bought a steamer so I can have steamed veggies, not frozen. Any batch of food that I make is bigger than just one meal so I’ve been freezing it (great idea from my cousin) and saving the rest for later.

I’ve also found this food blog,  Spoon Fork Bacon, with pretty easy ideas if I want to get fancy. I tried the  Baked Asparagus Fries recipe the other night and they were really good. I didn’t do a dipping sauce but  if I make these when I have guests I totally would.

I have always brought my lunch to work, except for the few and far between days when I don’t have time to grab a frozen din out of the freezer. I recently bought a cute lunch bag that came with different containers and have nixed the frozen dinners. I hate making my lunch but I like that I’m eating fresh lunches and I feel like I’m spending less on frozen items. Except for the veggies and fruits-I have to buy these once or twice a week because, well, they’re fresh and I have to buy in small batches.

So that’s my big achievement for the year so far. And it’s a pretty big one because I still have to force myself to spend the time to cook when I’d rather be doing something else.

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Men take note: rising temperatures and more humidity in summer can make your deep, rich, or bold winter fragrance smell more intense. If you love your current fragrance too much to change, consider skipping your regular eau de toilette or cologne for an aftershave, deoderant, shower gel, or body lotion in the same scent. Most brands produce these ancillary items to match their fragrances. Another option is to dillute your fragrance by spraying a bit into an unscented body lotion and applying to your body. You can also spray your fragrance into the air and step through the mist. If you do the latter, please take heed to spray only a little.

If you’re open to something  new, try switching to a cool, crisp fragrance during warmer months. You can often find similar versions of your winter fragrance that wear better when the murcury rises. Not sure where to start? Check out my suggestions below or hit up your local Nordstrom (I find their fragrance sales associates to be wonderful) or Sephora (look for or ask for a certified fragrance expert or peruse their Scentsa computer on your own).

Some of my faves for summer (or any time of the year because they are light) include:

1. Fresh Citron de Vigne, $18.50-$75; fresh.com and sephora.com: Founder Lev Glazman created this new and exciting fragrance inspired by sparkling notes of pinot noir. Its fresh and sensual notes of neroli, bitter orange, pinot noir accord, lemongrass, sandalwood, and amber make it optimal for everyday wear. I’m a huge fan of Fresh fragrances overall, and think that Lev, who is also a certified nose, has a very unique, fun, and sophisticated point of view in all of his creations.

2. Bvlgari Aqva Pour Homme, $55-$75; bergdorfgoodman.com, sephora.com: Inspired by the sea and mediterranean, this summer-esque fragrance is both fresh and soft while still masculine. It features only five notes, four of which are unique (mandarin, petit grain, santolina, posidonia, mineral amber).

3. Kenzo L’eauParKenzo Pour Homme, $54-$72; sephora.com: Subtle, fresh, and light, this remarkable fragrance from Kenzo embodies leisurely summer days. Notes include yuzu (one of my favorite notes), lotus leaf, aquatic mint, mandarin, and waterlily.

4. Burberry Touch for Men, $57 for 1 oz, burberry.com; While this fragrance has some spicy notes of white pepper and nutmeg, it’s rounded out by cooler notes of violet leaves, and mandarin tree leaves. This is a great option for guys who like a heavier fragrance during the winter months.

5. Burberry Classic for Men Summer Edition, $60 for 3.3 fl oz, sephora.com; One of my favorites for men, this fragrance is pleasantly surprising. The top notes of pineapple, citrus, and frozen mint are a fresh and unique blend. I love that this fragrance is rounded out by woody notes and tonka bean.

 When I’m laying at home sick in bed the last thing that crosses my mind is keeping up with my beauty routine. As of late, I’ve been feeling quite under the weather. The only thing I want to do is sleep, drink juice, sleep some more, and watch old movies. There are certain beauty items, however, that will sometimes sneak their day into my sick days and make me feel a little better or occupy my time, if only temporarily.

1. Sephora Collection Colorful Mini Nail buffers, $8 for pack of 3; Sephora.com: I am really bad at keeping my nails up. They get filed and trimmed a few times per month and maybe even a coat of clear polish or the occasional swipe of colored polish. Other than that, I keep my nails fairly low maintenance. I like to keep these mini buffers on hand for quick fixes (snagged nails, uneven nail bed). I also love whipping one out when I’m sick in bed and watching TV to pass the time.

2. Lush Honey Trap Lip Balm, $6.95; lush.com: I love this moisturizing balm for sick days because it’s not sticky, greasy,  absorbs quickly, and won’t end up on my pillow when I’m napping. Thanks to a blend of shea butter and oilve oil, the hydrating formula feels great on the lips without leaving residue. It also features honey, a natural humectant, to hold moisture in.

3. Caudalie Grape Water Mini, $8 for 1.6 oz; Sephora.com: If you follow this blog, you’ll know that one of my go-to “It” brands is Caudalie. I use and adore a lot of their products. I always have a mini Grape Water on hand for spritzing anytime I feel dry or need an instant boost. I love chilling one in the fridge to mist myself with when I’m running a fever. It feels lovely, cool, and I love that I’m giving my skin an antioxidant boost at the same time. *Also great for hot summer days.* 

4. Carol’s Daughter Body Aches Bath Salts, $18 for 16 oz; sephora.com: I love these bath salts for when I’m sick or after an intense workout (especially Jackie Warner’s workout DVD’s). Peppermint, sea salt, and epsom salt help to ease muscle aches, while lavender calms the senses. I’m not a fan of the little floating lavender bits in my tub so I used an old nylon or cheesecloth to filter the salts under running water. 

5. Fresh Rose Face Mask, $55; fresh.com: Another of my go-to brands is Fresh. I love the luxe formula’s and simple yet elegant packaging. I love the decadent rose mask because it helps to hydrate and sooth the delicate skin around my nose when I’m sick. Sometimes I will even leave a little on when I’m napping to protect the area. It’s calming effect is thanks to rose, cucumber, and aloe. If I need to make a brief appearance anywhere, say a visit to the doc or pharmacy, it’s a great quick fix for the mild facial puffiness I get when I’ve been laying down for a while. 

6. Josie Maran Argan Oil Moisturizing Stick, $22; sephora.com: Argan oil and vitamin E hydrate and nourish the skin in a quick and easy to apply stick formula. I love this handy tool for it’s multi-tasking abilities: as a quick body hydrator (elbows, cuticles, hands, feet, knees), a quick lip “balm,” around the nose,  to slick back any stray or flyaway hair and to hydrate the ends of my hair. It’s a great on the go beauty item and also fab for sick days when you don’t want to put in much effort. 

Some favorite movies to watch when I’m sick include: The Thin Man (any in the series, especially the orginal), North by Northwest, any Doris Day & Rock Hudson movies, Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

 I keep a small basket of items I use regularly in my nightstand. I also sometimes stash things in my basket that I know I should totally use but don’t as a reminder to actually use them.

1. The neighbor that lives behind me is notorious for having parties that last into the wee A.M. hours. And they don’t invite me! To be fair, we aren’t acquainted. Since I’m not in attendance at these parties and I need my beauty sleep, I always stock plenty of ear plugs in my nightstand. I also always travel with ear plugs. I usually get mine from Target and buy whatever’s the cheapest. You can even find them in fun colors. My current selection is a bag of grey ones that were around $5 for 20.

2. I love girly, fruity fragrances. When it comes to home scents, I prefer more masculine scents. My three favorite notes are amber, sandalwood, and vanilla. I’m currently down to my last few sprays of Diptyque John Galliano room spray. It’s described as having a burning wood note but smells more cuddly than like camping. $60 for 150ml at beautyhabit.com. My next spray is a generic spritzer from Target simply called Amber Vanilla.

3. I love lip balm! My daytime favorite is Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm with SPF 15 in natural mint. My bedtime fave is Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment. It has a calming, subtle lemon scent and smooth texture that sinks into my lips and doesn’t settle into my pillow slip. $22.50 at fresh.com.

4. I love the light fragrance that candles give off while unlit. Among my favorite scents (yet again) are sandalwood, vanilla, amber, and other woody fragrances. My selection du jour includes K. Hall Designs Sandalwood vegetable wax candle. I’ve also used their driftwood candle and it was just as fab. $25 at khalldesigns.com.

5. & 6. I constantly moisturize my hands. The only hand lotion I will use (unless I’m really desperate) is Caudalie Hand and Nail Cream. The ultra nourishing formula has a suble, uplifting scent and doesn’t leave your hands feeling greasy. $19 at Sephora or Caudalie.com. I spend so much time hydrating my hands that I often forget about my feet, so I keep Bliss Foot Patrol cream in my nightstand. It’s loaded with exfoliating alpha-hydroxy acids that help slough off dead skin while I sleep. $18 at Blissworld.com.

7. If I can swing it, I will sleep as late as I possibly can. On days where I can sleep in until the sun has risen, I need a sleep mask to block the flood of sunlight my bedroom gets in the morning. I prefer satin versions because they are soft and don’t leave creases on my face in the morning. This version is $8 at nicolejane.com. 

8. I sleep with my hair up because it drives me insane having my long hair down. I sleep kind of crazy and waking up because my hair is in my face is annoying. I always keep a stash of Goody elastics close at hand. I prefer the ouchless version because they are gentle on my hair.

Winter Splurge vs. Save

March 5, 2009

Splurge:

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1. Bvlgari Jasmine Noir, 1 oz $68, Sephora.com and Norstrom.com. With notes of Green Sap, Gardenia Petals, Sambac Jasmine Absolute, Satiny Almond, Precious Wood, Licorice, and Tonka Bean Absolute, this deep, sultry fragrance will liven up a dreary winter days (and nights).

2. Makeup Forever Faux Lashes #109, $15, sephora.com. Put a little flirt in your wink with fluttery faux lashes. Tip: make sure to let the glue dry for 30 seconds before applying. This will help the lash grip better to your lid and prevent it from sliding off.

3. Fresh Winter Picnic Eye Palette, $48, sephora.com. With icy hues of  lavender, white pearl, khaki taupe, deep chocolate shimmer, muted blue, and pink shimmer, this palette includes all of the colors you’ll need to create sheer to dramatic looks in one palette.

4. Make Her Think Swallow Ring, $380.00, makeherthink.com. This whimsical sparrow ring features oxidized sterling silver with .20ct pave rough white diamonds and a textured feather band.

5. Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15, $22.50, fresh.com and Sephora.com. This lip balm is a daily indulgent treat and  feels divine. Real sugar imparts a sweet scent and acts as a natural humectant to hydrate parched winter lips. Oils, antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and vitamins are blended in to protect your lips from the elements and keep them glowing and healthy.

 

Save:

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1. The Body Shop Shimmer Cubes Palette #15, $22, thebodyshop.com. With two blue hues, one shimmering white, and one shimmering grey, you can create looks that range from simple, colorful, and smoky. Also, check out the new Shimmer Cubes 18 Palette, which features lighter shades.

2. Laila Rowe Metal Flower Ring, $2.50, lailarowe.com. A great way to wear trends of the season is to pick up cheap and chic jewels and accessories from Laila Rowe. You can look up to date without dropping a bundle.

3. Sephora Flirt-It Lash Duo, $8, Sephora.com. These are some of my favorite lashes because you get a half strip, great for accentuating the outer corner of your eye, and a full strip that makes for a super flirty wink. Tip: apply the full strip, then layer the half strip on the outer corner for a full flutter.

4. Sephora Tropical Jasmine Collection, $6-$16, Sephora.com. If you want the sultry scent of jasmine without breaking the bank, try anything from this collection or layer products for an indulgent fragrance experience. With notes of Jasmine, Coconut, Sandalwood, Tahitian Vanilla and White Amber, you’re sure to turn heads.

5. Victoria’s Secret Pink Tinted Lip Balm, $7, victoriassecret.com, “Love” (a rich pink) is currently the only shade available. Lightly tinted, this lip conditioner packs a punch of moisture to keep lips looking healthy throughout the day.

Pre-Spring Beauty

February 12, 2009

springbelle

As all of the major cosmetics lines debut the new trends for Spring 2009, I won’t forget about my old tried and true standbys. They are things that I simply could not live without and work for most everyone.

1. Opi’s Strawberry Margarita nail polish is my perfect pink. I usually sport clear polish and this is my go to when I need a little color. It’s also a great pedicure shade year round.

2. Korres lip butter in Pomegranate gives a lovely hint of coral to the lips while hydrating. I’ve tried it on several skin tones and it looks fab on just about everyone. I also love it under a sheer peach lip gloss.

3. In the mood for a sweet, fresh, soft candle? Look no further then Fresh’s Sugar Lychee scented candle. This scent also features the fragrance of lotus and grapefruit. Yum!

4. Nars Multiple in Orgasm gives you a fresh peachy-pink glow in one swipe. You can use it on your cheeks, eyes, and lips for a quick monochromatic look in seconds. It has just enough shimmer to make you look dewy, not glittery. Take caution: a little goes a long way and don’t forget to blend.

5. Stila’s eyeshadow duo in Lilly is a great way to transition your fall/winter shadows into spring. Both shadows are sheer and look great mixed with browns. I especially love the peach color paired with simple black liner and a lightly defined crease.

6. One of my favorite blushes to brighten dull winter complexions is LORAC’s Cheek Stamp in Hibiscus. The innovative packaging features a pan of the sheer pink blush on one end and a “stamp” sponge on the other end. It’s designed to press the stamp directly on the cheek and blend with a brush or fingers. My favorite application trick is to take a fan brush and lightly dust over the apples of your cheeks. The product lasts a long time, too. I’ve had mine for nearly two years and with almost daily use am just hitting the bottom of the pan.

Fresh

February 10, 2009

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I love the brand Fresh! They have a few new products out and I also indulged in an older one.

The new Soy Face Cream is for all skin types and packs a punch. Vitamins A, C, and E are infused as well as tea, rose water, soy proteins and jojoba seed oil. The result equals a moisturizer that’s light weight and also leaves your skin looking glowy and smooth.

The first day I tried the new Rose FreshFace Primer my skin was a little irritated. It seemed to calm my skin down a bit, thanks to anti-inflammatory ingredients. After the third day of use, my skin felt better and as I passed by a mirror, noticed my makeup still looked great after work. All in all, this is one of the better primers I’ve used.

I’ve also been sniffing my newest bath time acquisition, SugarBath Lychee Bath Cubes, every chance I get. They are lightly scented and slightly fizz under running water. I’d save these for an occasional bath since they’re fairly pricey for what they are and the scent doesn’t linger on your skin after your bath.

Fresh

November 6, 2008

Fresh is one of the many brands that I just adore and I always love trying anything and everything from the brand. Started by husband and wife team Lev Glazman and Alina Roytberg in the early 90’s, the line embodies technology, quality and luxury. Lev is also a certified nose and took years creating their Cannabis Santal fragrance. Today I will be giving reviews of Sake Bath, Rice Dry Oil, Sugar Lychee Shower gel and Lotion, and the new Strawberry Flowers fragrance. If you are ever in San Francisco, check out the Fresh Boutique on Sutter Street (in the Financial District between Stockton and Kearny). You can also find locations near you on the site under store locator.

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Sake Bath, 13.5 oz, $80: Sake Bath’s claim to fame is that it features 50% pure sake to detoxify, relax muscles, soften skin and increase circulation. I definitely felt relaxed and warm. You do need to use very hot water and a lot of product (at least a shot glass worth for an average size bathtub) to see any benefits and it’s not meant for use by pregnant women or those with heart conditions. Is it worth $80? Probably not, although I wouldn’t mind receiving it as a gift.

Rice Dry Oil, 3.4 oz, $48: Relaxes mind and body and is quickly absorbed. Smells wonderful, almost reminiscent of the Sake fragrance. Feels luxurious and leaves skin feeling silky without being slippery or sticky. For me it was a bit irritating to use because of the pour spout-I either poured way too much or too little into my hands. While it’s a great product, the price tag is a bit steep for something I would use up so frequently.

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Sugar Lychee Bath and Shower Gel, 10 oz, $28: Some bath and shower gels can leave my skin feeling dry and tight. This one feels and smells heavenly. It features sugar cane extract (sugar is a natural humectant so it draws moisture to the skin), it also has shea butter to further hydrate. I would buy this over and over I love it so much. A little goes a long way so it lasts through shower after shower.

Sugar Lychee Body Lotion, 10 oz, $28: light in scent and texture, this is my post shower bed time body lotion because it soaks into the skin without feeling greasy. The scent is calming and light enough that it doesn’t give me a headache. Definitely a must try in this and other scents.

Strawberry Flowers Fragrance, Sephora exclusive, 1 oz EDP, $38: Features notes of Mandarin, Yuzu, White peach, Mountain Strawberries, Freesia, Orange Blossom, Osmanthus, Orris, Musk, White woods. This fragrance is a soft floral and very pretty. Would make a nice gift for a fragrance aficionado, Fresh lover, or someone who wants a light fragrance suitable for daytime wear. Please note that this doesn’t and isn’t supposed to smell just like strawberries as there are several other notes that balance it out.