Sunday, April 29, 2012

April 2012 Wrap Up


The monthly wrap up posts usually start off with something along the lines of "the month flew by" but this April was one of the slowest, longest months. On the school end, I couldn't wait for April to be over because summer break is just a few weeks away. But besides the mundane hours spent I school, April was quite enjoyable. For spring break I went  with some childhood friends to visit our other childhood friends who live in Philadelphia. The weather was glorious that weekend!

I didn't have a group picture of all of us but this will do. I've known these ladies for almost my whole life and I see them about once a week. Although none of us are actually related, we refer to each other as cousins so that confuses a lot of people. I used to spend much more time with them but as I get older and pursue more career oriented activities I don't have much free time. 

When we go to Philadelphia we always go shopping in one of the malls because they have quite a selection of large malls. One of my high school teachers referred to the consumer-driven society that America has become as the "malling of America". 

I only found a few blouses that I liked that were worth the money from Forever21. The first blouse was $10 and the other two were about $13. I would have paid probably $25 for these if I had found them at Zara so these were good finds. 

My attempts to eat healthier have all but gone out the window and I need more determination to change my lifestyle for the better. But hey, you only live once and a little treat from DQ couldn't hurt too much. After all, we don't have DQ in New York and I rarely spend money on dessert. 

One of my cousins is a crazy couponer and I had to snap a picture of her stash. She has coupons for EVERYTHING. I don't think she uses most of these but I thought this was quite amusing since she's quite a bit younger than me.

We (mostly my cousins because I didn't help all that much) made Oreo cupcakes which looked really nice but were very, very hard. We probably added too much flour or something. They were still edible though. 

My boyfriend and I were looking for a new ramen place to try as we haven't been to a ramen restaurant in awhile. I found a place called Zutto in Tribeca that seemed to have very good reviews. For an appetizer we ordered the Pork Belly Steamed Buns which were sweet and savory. But for the price, I would much rather head to Flushing and grab a Peking Duck Steamed Bun for only a $1.

My boyfriend ordered the Chicken Paitan Ramen which was very flavorful and the seaweed was very dominating in the dish. I only had a small bite of this so I can't really give my thoughts on it but the boy finished every last sip so I think he liked it.

I opted for the Tonkotsu Hokkaido Classic Ramen which was incredibly salty. The noodles were very average and I could not drink much of the soup because it was too salty for my taste. The most disappointing aspect of Zutto's ramen was the pork chashu because the slices were thin and very fatty. In the other places I have been, the pork is usually more generous and there is less fat. I think my favorite ramen place still is Ippudo near St. Marks. 

After the lackluster ramen dinner, we walked aimlessly through Tribeca until we ended up near the water. Despite being in Manhattan almost everyday there are many places in the city I have never visited. Tribeca is quickly becoming one of my favorite neighborhoods to wander in. There are great people watching opportunities and the general atmosphere is reminiscent of a smaller, cozier city.

We watched the sun set from the spot next to the water. I think this was my first time seeing the sun set in the city.... Note to self: I need to get out more. 

I rarely eat out on school days because I can't afford to. City food is incredibly expensive and it's probably a lot heathier for me to bring my own food. But bringing my own food often leads to eating alone and for the sake of having a conversation over lunch, I went with some friends to check out this burger joint that I pass by daily.

Schnippers is located just a block away from Shake Shack so the comparisons between the two are endless. Both are very similar in terms of price and offerings. I think Schnippers has a larger menu but the main difference between the two is that Schnippers has indoor seating.

I ordered the classic burger which contains arugula and very thick bacon as well as the usual beef patty and cheese. I usually detest arugula but it surprised me in this burger by adding a more refined taste to the burger. Sadly the beef let me down in this burger as it was not very flavorful at all. I much prefer Shake Shack's Shack Stack burger. The Schnippers burger was not very filling but the small Vanilla Malt I ordered compensated for that. I think the next time I grab a burger I will try a veggie burger as I have never tried one. Unfortunately just reading the ingredients of a veggie burger, I have to admit I have never liked the sound of what was inside. It just doesn't seem very tasty.... When I try one, I'll let you guys know how I feel about it.

As you know if you saw my March Wrap Up, I jumped on the iPhone bandwagon and I have been loving Instagram as expected. Honestly I can edit my photos on Photoshop to mimic Instagram effects but it's just so much easier to take a photo, add a filter, and post it instantly. I also finally created a Twitter after years of holding off on making one. I realized that to succeed in the industry I want to go into, I have to embrace social networking and my outlook on the situation has changed. Connect with technology but don't let it control you.

In the photo above I am wearing the polka dot blouse I picked up in Philadelphia. I have been semi-obsessed with collars lately and the polka dots are just too cute! 

I picked up lunch at a new chain specializing in salads and was quite disappointed. Chop't is popping up all over New York City and their concept seems to be allowing you to choose from their house recipes or you can make your own salad. Instead of combining pre-chopped ingredients, they take whole pieces of veggies and toppings and chop it all together.... I was just hungry and I needed lunch that day so I'm not all too enticed by their concept. It seems a bit far flung and I nearly paid $10 for this bowl. I will say they give you a very large portion but they are skimpy with the chicken.

The beauty of having a camera on my phone is that I can take little snapshots of random bits whenever and where ever. I found this hilarious sign posted on every tree box around Gramercy Park.

My boyfriend wanted to watch this movie so I went with him expecting an amazing horror movie given the overwhelming positive response. I have come to the conclusion that I cannot watch horror movies in movie theaters because I spend most of the movie hiding behind my hands.... I love watching scary movies at home where I can't protect myself with numerous pillows but there's just something about sitting in the movie theater that I can't handle. The movie was quite strange and I was surprised to see many hilarious parts interwoven throughout the film. If you love horror and you've seen many horror films, this is probably a good one to add to the list. If you don't like gore like me then you can skip this.

I got to see Fun. perform live which was... well, fun. See what I did there? The lead singer's speaking voice is exactly like his singing voice which was pretty cool. The band gave a very energetic performance and they did "Carry On" especially well.

So that wraps up most of the highlights of April. What were your favorite (and least favorite) experiences in the past month?

Friday, April 27, 2012

March and April 2012 Empties

Another round of empties and very old products that have past their prime are going into the recycling and trash! Let's get on with the reviews!

Pond's Wet Cleansing Towelettes - I received a sample pack of these with my Target Beauty Bag and brought them with me when I went to Philadelphia for a weekend. I prefer using a cleansing oil to remove my face makeup but sometimes if I'm wearing only powder and blush, I'll opt for a makeup removing wipe out of ease. I was not impressed by these wipes as the cloth was not plush enough for my liking and the fragrance was not pleasant. It does smell like tea but in a slightly sickening way but that's just my scent preference. I would not recommend these nor purchase the full size.

La Roche Posay Toleriane - I have sung praises for this moisturizer enough times for you to know that I adore this product. When I was using this my skin felt and looked the best it has in months. When I am looking for a moisturizer, I will definitely repurchase this or one of the other moisturizers from the Toleriane line. Read my full review if you want more details about this moisturizer.

Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion - I finished a full sized version of this in my last empties post and talked about it a bit there. I don't think I realized how poor this worked on my skin until after I switched to Toleriane. Halfway through the sample tube of Clinique's moisturizer I ended up using the rest on my hands and body just to use it all up. This does not sink into my skin well and while it is moisturizing, it doesn't come close to Toleriane in terms of improving my skintone.

Philosophy Hope Oil Free SPF 30 - The fact that I couldn't even fully finish this sample shows how much I disliked this product. This sample was part of last year's Sephora Sun Safety Kit and it is probably my least favorite sunscreen of all time. The scent was clearly that of a typical sunscreen and it lingered longer than other sunscreens. The moisturizer took a long time to absorb into my skin and it made my skin itch. I think something in this formula makes my skin reactive which may be a personal problem. Usually when I do not like a moisturizer I will use it up on my hands but this couldn't even be used for that. It left a greasy film on my skin that was just plain uncomfortable. I highly DO NOT recommend this. My favorite sunscreen is still Shiseido's Ultimate Sun Protection Cream.

Up&Up Maximum Strength Acne Medication - This 10% benzoyl peroxide acne treatment worked well for the price. If you're on a budget, this will reduce the severity of breakouts within a few days. Even though there is a high concentration of benzoyl peroxide, my skin did not become dry or irritated despite constant use. This could vary from person to person though. I want to say I would repurchase this because it worked and it's inexpensive but the beauty junkie in me has a million and one acne treatments that I want to try before I repurchase this.

Origins Incredible Spreadable Scrub - Aside from the cute name, this is a very good scrub. This scrub contains sugar, salt, and a blend of oils so it not only exfoliates but moisturizes as well. This made my skin very smooth and nourished but a huge con was that it always left a greasy film in my bathtub. For this reason I can not justify purchasing the full size.

Mac Face and Body Foundation - It took me quite a few weeks to finish my little sample of this foundation. For some reason foundation samples always last me forever. I really like this foundation and will probably purchase the full size in the future. Check out my full review to learn more about it and to see a demo of how I apply it to my skin.

Rimmel Lasting Finish 16 Hour Foundation - This is a discontinued foundation and actually the first foundation I ever bought. The coverage is medium to full and I often mixed this with a moisturizer to prevent this from looking too cakey. This was a decent foundation for the price but I did not manage to finish it up as I only used this when it suits my skin tone (usually in the winter). I whipped this out a few weeks ago and it seemed to have broken me out so I think it might have gone bad. I think I used up about 80% of it so I got my money's worth for it.

Loreal Voluminous Mascara - I tried this after hearing a lot of rave reviews about it. Unfortunately it didn't do much for my lashes but clump them together and weigh them down. When I first opened the tube the formula was very wet but it performed a bit better after it had dried up a bit. Still, this is not a mascara I would repurchase.

Cargo Better Than Waterproof Mascara - I did not care much for this mascara because it was hard to remove and it didn't hold a curl the way other mascaras do. I ultimately had to bin this because the stopper became attached to the wand and with nothing to scrape off the excess mascara from the brush, this was pretty much impossible to use. Packaging fail for a pretty unremarkable product makes this a definite no buy.

Revlon Super Lustrous Lipgloss in Pink Pursuit - This was one of the first lipglosses I ever bought and while the color is beautiful in the tube, it looks very strange on my lips. I can't quite put my finger on it but this gloss just looks unflattering on me. Also, the gloss started to separate so it was about time for it to get binned. The Super Lustrous lipglosses have SPF15 and all the newer glosses have expiration dates printed on the packaging if you look close enough.

Check out the video below to see the products up close and to hear more of my thoughts on them!

That's it for all my empties from the past two months. I have a few products that are on their last leg that I can't wait to review in my next empties post! What have you finished lately?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

C. Booth's Walnut Scrub: Gets the Job Done Without Breaking the Bank

Just a heads up for anyone who's interested, my Ulta haul video is uploaded and you can watch it HERE. I did swatches of all the NYX blushes I picked up and gave mini reviews of everything I bought in the video so check that out if you want to see what the products look like up close.

I finished my body scrub over a month ago and with shorts and tank weather fast approaching I needed a new scrub ASAP. I was in search of a budget body scrub and with Ulta's 20% off offer, I picked up a giant bottle of c. Booth's Walnut Shell Body Scrub and Cleanser for only $4.80. Even without a discount, the $6 price tag makes this scrub incredibly affordable. 

C. Booth markets itself as a natural company but a closer look at the ingredients show that there are several chemicals and additives with super long names. The last two ingredients are preservatives so if you are going preservative free, this is not for you. Although sodium laureth sulfate is the second ingredient in the scrub, the scrub feels nothing like liquid soap and does not foam at all. The formulation feels more like a very light, almost airy cream. I try to stay as far away from dimethicone in my face products but I thought it couldn't do a whole lot of harm (not that it does the skin any good though) on my body. 

The fragrance smells like some sort of coconut cake or dessert which I actually quite like. I typically do not like sweet scents but this appeals to me for some reason. If you don't like fragrance or you prefer more mature scents, you might not like this. After rinsing, the fragrance does not linger though.

The scrub has a good amount of scrubby particles to make my skin feel exfoliated without being too harsh. The formula rinses away easily and does not leave any residue on my skin nor the tub. You may chuckle that not leaving a slippery residue in the tub is important is paramount but I am a total clutz and I have fallen in the shower on more than one occasion. I use this scrub two to three times a week to slough away any dead skin cells.

For the price this is scrub does what a body scrub should do and it is pleasant to use. If you're on a budget and you want a no-frills body scrub then you might want to look into this. If you are looking for a purely natural scrub or one with more moisturizing benefits, this probably won't make the cut.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Blogger Appreciation Award

Thank you so much to the awesome Christine from Starry Eyed Beauty* who awarded me with the Blogger Appreciation Award! I really enjoy doing these tags and seeing other bloggers' responses because it shows us the person behind the blog.

The Rules:
1. Thank the person who gave you the award with their blog link on your post. 
2. Answer the following 4 questions. 
3. Award the Blogger Appreciation Award to as many others as you'd like. 
4. Let the blogger know you've just awarded them. 
 The Questions: 
How long have you been blogging?
Come this September my blog will be two years old! It really only feels like I started blogging a week ago though! 
What are 1-2 reasons you started blogging?
I first started blogging because I enjoy talking about beauty. In real life I don't have many friends who are interested in the beauty or fashion communities so they don't understand what I do. I don't have people to talk to about new product launches and nobody seems to understand how there are an endless number of taupe shadows that I can justify owning. Blogging is a creative outlet where I take photos of everything and I write everything (not including very rare guest posts).
What type of blogs do you like to follow/read?
Most of the blogs I follow are beauty or fashion related but I like it when my favorite bloggers include bits of their real lives in their blogs. I have a bunch of food and cooking blogs bookmarked but I don't follow them religiously. 
What is one thing you would like to improve on as a blogger on your blog?
I would like to show more face of the days although I wear neutrals 95% of the time so that might get boring. I also want to show more "real life" swatches like blushes on my cheeks and lipstick on my lips rather than to swatch everything on the back of my hand only.

I Award (in alphabetical order):
BeautyRedefined by Pang
Lavenderlilac Dream
Tracy's Beauty Blogsphere

These are just some of the blogs that I frequently read and all the bloggers are extremely nice so I highly recommend you head over to their blogs!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

NYX Rouge Creams: Bargain Cream Blush!

After much success with my first cream blush venture, Illamasqua's Cream Blush in Rude, I wanted to get my hands on other cream blushes to compare. After all, Illamasqua's version costs $24 which is a pretty penny. I had my eyes on the NYX cream blushes after seeing many positive reviews and I managed to pick up two shades for only $3.36 each when Ulta had 40% off NYX products and an extra 20% off the entire purchase. So at less than one sixth of the price of Illamasqua's blush, does the NYX cream blush deserve the praise it's been given in the beauty community?

The full line up of NYX Rouge Cream Blushes include 12 shades which is a decent number. Ulta only had a few to choose from at the time of the sale so I chose Tea Rose and Rose Petal. The blushes weigh .12 ounces or 3.5 grams which is a bit less than Illamasqua's version which contains .14 ounces and 4 grams. Ounce for ounce NYX is definitely a more affordable alternative to higher end cream blushes. Illamasqua's cream blushes are $171.34 per ounce, Mac's cremeblend blushes are $105.26 per ounce. If you buy the NYX cream blushes at their retail cost of $5.50 the price for one ounce would be $45.83. At the price I paid, the NYX cream blushes only cost $28 per ounce.

Tea Rose and Rose Petal look very similar in person but to a beauty enthusiast there is a noticeable difference between the two shades. Tea Rose is a warm brown beige with slight hints of pink whereas Rose Petal is a warm pink shade. Both are lovely neutral shades that would work on light to medium skin tones. I am not sure how well these would show up on darker complexions.

Only the slightest dab into the pan yields concentrated color payoff which is great for cream blushes since you do not want a lot of product sitting on your cheeks. The consistency of these blushes is very comparable to the Illamasqua version and I found them a breeze to blend into the cheeks using a blush brush. I have a tutorial HERE on how I apply cream blush if you're interested. My favorite thing about cream blush is the natural look of it once blended out and these look undetectable on my skin. The NYX blushes leave a semi dewy sheen on my skin but they do not feel oily or heavy. 

The one drawback to these is that they fade in around five or six (see below) hours on me whereas I have had the Illamasqua blush last the entire day on my skin with less fading. You could combat this issue by setting the cream blush with a powder but ultimately I wear cream blush in place of a powder so I wish these could last on their own.

For the price, NYX Rouge Cream Blushes are amazing because they come in a variety of shades and offer very nice pigmentation. If you are new to cream blushes and you have a tight budget, I highly recommend these. If you already have a substantial collection of cream blushes and you expect your blush to last all day long, you probably won't be missing these. For the price I can't complain about the lackluster staying power and the next time I spot a good sale I will definitely be picking up more shades! Have you tried these blushes? What are your favorite cream blushes?

**UPDATE June 1, 2012** After testing these out a bit more, I am happy to report that I was able to get these to last on my face for about eight hours which is decent. I really cannot find fault with these blushes and love them even more than I originally did!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ulta Haul: NYX, Real Techniques, and c. Booth!

I guess I was being too optimistic when I thought I could curb my beauty spending with only monthly Birchboxes. I placed my first Ulta order when NYX was having a 40% off sale and there was an additional 20% discount code for the entire order. I also convinced myself I needed a body scrub so I added some inexpensive body care products by c. Booth to my cart. I had been wanting to try the Real Techniques brushes by Samantha Chapman from Pixiwoo since they debuted so in the cart they went as well.  

Despite not sticking to my ban I think I snagged all of these items for a great price. I've used almost all the items as so far I'm loving everything! Separate reviews for all these products will be posted in the upcoming weeks so stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Natural Wonders Birchbox: April 2012

My second Birchbox arrived a few days ago but I to be honest I've been a bit preoccupied and haven't had a chance to blog about this until now. This month Birchbox went with a environmental theme so of course all the wrappings and fixing were green. 

This month's box came with a variety of products including a few skincare goodies, some tea packets, and a perfume sample. I have yet to try the moisturizer, exfoliating cleanser, or lipbalm out but I am very excited to! Last month I did not receive any skincare products in my box so April's box is a nice balance. 

I used one of the tea sachets the other day and the fragrance was a lovely floral scent but not one I enjoy drinking. The Willa moisturizer looks interesting as the consistency is very runny. It looks like it will be a great lightweight moisturizer for my oily skin in the summer. Alima Pure is a brand I was interesting in trying out so this tinted lipbalm seems promising. The perfume sample is well... a perfume sample. The fragrance isn't amazing nor is it appalling so in the perfume sample stash it goes. One of my few complaints is that the exfoliant sample is very small but I guess it will be good to tote along for short trips. I'll be testing out these products soon so I'll update you guys if anything's spectacular and a must purchase or if anything's horrible and a definite no-go.

Last month's Birchbox was a better value but this month was filled with a few pleasant surprises as well. Next month's box is going to be Gossip Girl themed and although I have never watched an episode of the show I'm excited! If you subscribe to Birchbox, what did you get this month?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Last One On Board: Instagram!

After months of seeing my favorite bloggers posting photos via Instagram I knew exactly what my first app download was going to be! As you might have seen in my March wrap up I got my first smart phone after years of being frugal and technologically minimalistic. Instagram is definitely going to be one of my favorite apps!

Feel free to follow me at angelicbetrayal and let me know who your favorite Instagram-ers are!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Shades of Gray && a Dainty Braid

Some of you might have seen this post before but the Blogger app is ridiculously bad and I somehow deleted the whole post by accident.... I'll just try to quickly rewrite what I wrote the first time to the best of my ability.

Zara shirt, Miss Sixty jacket, F21 scarf, Gap shorts, H&M tights, Dolce Vita boots, American Eagle Purse

For my short trip to Philadelphia last weekend I somehow managed to pack mostly gray clothing. What can I say? I love my neutrals. My outfit definitely clashed with the beautiful weather but it was quite chilly so I'm glad I brought my faux leather jacket with me.  

I am horribly boring with my hair and I only have the skills to do simply pony tails and t op knots. My younger cousin is quite good at doing hair so I asked her to braid my hair and this was what she ended up doing. My hair is on its way to becoming long again so I am super excited to be able to curl it again. Short hair was fuss free but sometimes boring and I never had any inspiration to be creative with it. I'm hoping to learn how to do different types of braids and hairstyles soon. Please let me know what your favorite hair styles are and feel free to link me to hair tutorials!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Weekend Travel Makeup Picks

Looking through someone else's makeup bag (especially during travel) is always a thrill. I love seeing how many products I can name off the top of my head and it's always a chance to discover something I've never heard of before.

Here's a little gander at what I brought with me (sans skincare essentials) last weekend during a short visit to Philly! For the face I packed my trusty Lancome Effacernes concealer, Mac Face and Body foundation, and Bare Minerals Mineral Veil. For the cheeks, Benefit's Powda Wowza is perfect for travel as it contains Hoola, Coralista, and Bella Bamba (the blushes are so shimmery I can forgo the highlighter!). For the eyes I toted along a mini UDPP, a Pixi eyeshadow palette filled with a dozen neutral shades (matte shadows doubled as brow powders!), Rimmel's Smokey Brun eyeshadow quad, Buxom's Insider eyeliner in Chocolate Citrine, Buxom mascara, and of course my handy dandy Koji eyelash curler. For the lips I brought obligatory go-with-everything nude lip colors in the form of Korres' Lip Butter in Jasmine and Revlon's Colorburst Lip Butter in Creme Brulee. I also threw in my favorite Cargo lipgloss in Morocco for good measure.

I only packed a powder brush, a blush brush, an angled bronzer brush, a Mac 239 shader brush, two crease brushes (one being Mac's 217!), an eyeliner brush, and an eyebrow comb. I put all my brushes in a ziplock baggie which fit perfectly into my makeup pouch with all my other little goodies.

I think I did well in packing as I got good use out of everything I brought (I could have gotten along fine with only one crease brush though). Do you tend to over or under pack for travel?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Flash Review & Demo: Mac's Face & Body Foundation

Mac's face and body foundation is one of those makeup products that people love or hate. I personally love it. I put off trying a Mac foundation for a long time because I have heard horror stories of breakouts and some of my favorite beauty bloggers didn't like how face and body apparently didn't set on their skin. But my curiosity got the best of me and during my last foray into a Mac store I asked for a sample of the infamous foundation. The makeup artist matched me to the shade C2 and I was excited to test out my new foundation!

Despite having oily (more combination during the cooler months but still oily throughout the day) and acne prone skin with lots of acne scars, I prefer a light to medium coverage base with a lightweight feel. I really do not enjoy having the heavy feeling of foundation or even tinted moisturizer on my skin as it makes me feel too made up and by the end of the day I look and feel greasy.

Face and body is a runny formula which is easily blended into the skin using bare fingers. It imparts a natural looking sheen to the skin without looking oily and I really love how healthy my skin looks with it on. Some have said that their skin felt very wet and tacky after applying this foundation but I felt no such sensation. I find that it is best to work this into the skin in sections using circular blending motions. After a few seconds of circular blending the foundation seems to take on a thicker consistency as it melds into the skin. I usually set this with Bare Minerals Mineral Veil which keeps it lasting all day long although I do blot once or twice to keep the oilies away. One time I even wore this foundation without powder for an entire day just to see how it would hold up. At the end of that day my t-zone was an oil slick (yuck, I know) but my foundation was still on and not slipping and sliding everywhere as I had anticipated.

I have heard some people say that this foundation offers no coverage whatsoever. I beg to disagree. Even though this will not cover up hyper pigmentation and acne scars or marks, it is not meant to.That is what my concealer is for. I usually apply concealer to my major problem areas and then blend face and body over my entire face to achieve a more even complexion. I would rather have a few spots show than to cake on thick, uncomfortable foundation. But that is just my preference.

The full size of this foundation costs $33 but you get a whopping 120ml which is four times more than the typical 30ml of other foundations. I intend on purchasing a bottle next year as this seems to be a lovely foundation for me in the winter. In the summer I tend to go quite tan and I probably won't like the dewy look as much in the heat.

Check out the video below to hear more about what I think of this foundation and to see a demo of how face and body looks over my bare skin!

Many people love this and many people hate this so I can't really say what any person in particular might think of this. Your best bet to see if you like this would be to go to a Mac store or counter (apparently this is only sold in freestanding stores) and ask for a sample. Sometimes reading reviews can only get you so far because everyone is different. A lot of people tend to prefer MakeUp Forever's face and body foundation but I actually didn't like that foundation at all. Have you tried Mac face and body foundation? What do you think of it?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Gold Glitter Polish Done Right

This is a very overdue post on Essie's As Gold As It Gets polish that I received in last month's Birchbox. As gold as it gets is part of the Luxeffects limited edition collection so your best bet would be to browse online for this shade. Like Shine of the Times, As Gold As It Gets has irregular flakie bits of glitter in a clear base to give your mani a little kick. I prefer wearing flakie polishes layered over a dark base and a dark brown goes really well with As Gold As It Gets because it brings out the golden flecks.

As Gold As It Gets is a nice polish to have and I found that the formula was less thick than Shine of the Times. Removal was as difficult as any other glitter polish which makes me not want to wear it too often. If you love glitter and flakie polishes, then this will probably be great for you!

P.S. I hate posting pictures of manicures when I've messed up around the edges! But I thought this would be better than nothing.... My manicure habits have been quite sporadic lately so my hands aren't as steady as they used to be :(

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Fail-Proof Casual Outfit

Club Monaco blazer, Express sweater, Gap tank, American Eagle denim, Vince Camuto boots, Urban Outfitters bag

Looking presentable isn't rocket science and whenever I'm feeling uninspired by prints or frilly frocks, a cozy sweater, blazer, denim, and riding boots kind of outfit is always appropriate. All of these pieces are my fashion staples as they can be mixed and matched in endless combinations to satisfy all occasions.

What are some of your go-to fashion staples?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Recent Favorites // April 2012

So far my beauty buying ban has been going well and it's been over a month since my last beauty related purchase (not including Birchbox of course!). Whenever I go on makeup buying bans I tend to shop my stash and find products I used to enjoy or sometimes never even really tried. Lately these few products have been sitting firmly atop my vanity and getting lots of love.

Mac Face and Body Foundation - I have both good and bad things about this foundation and I really wanted to try it on myself because I love a sheer, natural looking foundation and this seemed to fit the bill. I requested a sample at Mac and the makeup artist matched me to the shade C2 which is spot on. This foundation is one of the most natural, foolproof bases I have yet to try and I really enjoy using it to even out my skin tone. I will be doing a full review (with a demo!) on this soon so I don't want to go too in depth at the moment.

Bare Minerals Mineral Veil - This tiny sample was part of the Sephora Sun Safety Kit last year and when I first tried using it in the midst of summer on my tan skin, it gave me a ghostly cast. Fast forward a few months and I have been using this daily to set my makeup as it looks great on fairer skin tones. Despite the tiny jar this has lasted me months since I only need a tiny bit to set my whole face. I find that this looks lovely over moisturized skin with no foundation because it seems to blur imperfections and minimize shine without over mattifying.

Too Faced Blush - Apologies for bringing up a limited edition product with no name but I had to do it. I talked about this a bit in my My Top 5 Blushes post but it didn't make the top 5 simply because it is limited edition. This bright pink with gold shimmers livens up my face brilliantly and imparts a glow from within. The lasting power is great and the pigmentation is amazing so I probably won't have to look for a replacement anytime soon. Unfortunately the clunky packaging has taken it's toll on the product and the poor blush is easily shattered.

Maybelline Pink Please Lipstick + Mac Fashion Whim Cremesheen Glass - This combination is the perfect creamy baby pink lip. Pink Please was extremely popular a few years back but nobody seems to talk about it anymore. I picked it up during the hype but it looked too pink and garish by itself. Fashion Whim is too nude by itself and tends to make me look like a zombie when worn alone. The two products together balance each other out amazingly!

Josie Maran Argan Oil - This mini was part of the Sephora In The Glow set and I did not start using it until recently. This is supposed to be a multipurpose oil which can be used for the face, hair and body. At first I tried using this on my face as a moisturizer but it really did not make a difference in my skin and I preferred using my traditional creams better. Then one day I spontaneously decided to smooth it into my hair after towel drying. Doing this every time after I wash my hair (every other day) has really made a difference in my hair. It is noticeably less coarse and more manageable. My hair also feels cleaner and less oily during the second day after washing as opposed to when I used no product in my hair. I only use two tiny drops of this each time and the small .17 ounce bottle is sure to last me into summer! The .5 ounce bottle only costs $14 so this product really doesn't break the bank.

Kerastase Elixir Ultime - I received this in my Birchbox last month and have been using it the same way that I use the Josie Maran oil. I choose this or the Josie Maran oil to use on my hair and both seem to have the same effect so I felt like I should include both in this post. The thing about this that makes it less appealing than Josie Maran's Argan Oil is that this contains silicones and other additives whereas Josie Maran's formula is pure argan oil. The Kerastase treatment is also heavily perfumed which can be quite irritating. If you purchased the full size, it would be a whopping $54 for 4.2 ounces. Yes, per ounce Josie Maran's Argan Oil is about double the price of Kerastase's Elixir Ultime but it would take me years to use up 4.2 ounces and by then the product would have probably expired. If you don't mind having silicones and other additives in addition to perfume in your hair oils then this might be something you want to look into.

Check out the video below to see the products a little better!

What are some of your current favorite products?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

March 2012 Wrap Up

If I were to describe the past month in one word, it would have to be change. The mild winter has gone and spring is certainly welcome in my books. We actually had a few days with temperatures in the 70s but this past week it's been back to 50 degree days.

Midway through the month I left my part time job as a sales associate mainly because I felt that I should be using my time more effectively in terms of pursuing my actual hobbies and goals. I had been with the company for eight months and it was fun while it lasted with a few hiccups here and there. Above you can see how damaged my  nails get after a weekend of non stop folding. The worst part of being in retail was definitely having to stand all day long. There were many nights where I limped home because my feet hurt from standing for too long. Nonetheless I met a lot of wonderful people and improved my social skills. Not to mention I can fold clothes pretty darn well despite never really folding anything before this.

I go to school for around 20 hours a week, my internship for about 12 hours a week, and when I used to work it usually averaged at 20 hours a week. This meant in an average week I would work for over 50 hours not including my daily commute which averages to about 14 hours a week. As soon as I left my job and had some free time I organized my vanity area which was looking like a hot mess. I actually changed up the set up by moving around somethings because I needed some sort of visual change. This is the area where I get ready every morning and it makes me feel a lot more relaxed when everything is neat and clean. The rest of my makeup collection is in another part of my room that always stays organized and tidy since I'm not always rummaging through it.

I also went ahead and organized the bin the bin that holds most of my warm weather shorts, skirts, and sweaters I do not hang up. I used to hate folding clothes but now it kind of calms me down and relaxes me.... Or maybe it's just that organizing in general helps me feel more calm because mess tends to bother me.

I was quite excited for The Hunger Games movie when I first heard about it many months ago since I read all of the books last summer. Unfortunately the movie has been constantly linked to Twilight which I have to say I am not a fan of at all. I debated over whether I should watch The Hunger Games and as you can see, I obviously did. The movie was okay but nothing special. I think you could enjoy it if you never read the books and don't care to learn more about the characters. Die hard fans of the book would probably be disappointed because a lot of details were cut out probably to keep the movie within it's more than 2 hour run time.

I put off jumping on the smart phone bandwagon for a long time. In fact, I can be quite old fashioned and I refuse to become attached to the internet and technology 24/7. Cost is also a big factor of my lack of upgrades as monthly expenses can add up! My current phone is one of those free phones that I only use to call and text (I didn't even get texting until the end of the senior year in high school). But in the last few months I realized that I needed a smart phone because I would definitely be at a disadvantage in the communications world if I had no idea how to use a phone.... So I got an iPhone. I'm not as excited as most people probably are when they get one because this is not a toy but a tool. Who knows, maybe it will grow on me. At the moment it's still in it's dainty little box because I'm waiting for the case I ordered to arrive. I hate scratches so I'm perfectly fine using my dingy free phone until my shiny new cover comes in the mail!

At my internship I got the chance to set up, assist, and break down the set of a photo shoot for a certain boy band from across the pond. The photographer, assistant editor, my fellow intern and I created this backdrop which turned out to be really cool. Before we had to take down the backdrop my friend (the other intern) and I took turns snapping pictures of each other in front of the set. It just so happened that I overslept majorly that day (which NEVER happens I swear!) and did not have time to put in contacts or slap on any makeup which explains my scrubby appearance. The members of the boy band who will not be named were all very polite and each member took the time to introduce themselves while giving us handshakes. From my experience the up and coming artists tend to be more friendly to the "nobodies" like the interns whereas the established artists seem to look right through you. Of course there are exceptions but like I said, this is what I have encountered. I also stayed to watch the boy band sing afterward and I was pleasantly surprised by their amazing vocals. I tend to associate Western boybands with pretty faces and lack of actual talent but these guys really proved me wrong.

Onto the food highlights of the month! What monthly wrap up post would be complete without food pictures? I usually try to write my wrapups in chronological order to take you through the month as I experienced it but this time I wanted to try something a bit different. I think I prefer the old way as opposed to this miscellaneous then food format.

Anyways.... I try to visit my boyfriend at his college once a semester and every time I go I have to eat the red velvet cake that they sell at the California Pizza Kitchen on campus. This cake is perfect because it has just the right amount of sweetness and the icing is not overly sweet either. As a commuter student, I don't really have a typical college experience so when I visit I like to pretend that I'm a student at the school. I walk around in sweat pants and a hoodie (something I would never where to my actual school) and eat the overpriced food that most students have to settle for. The school, like most away schools, is in a relatively suburban area so it is a nice contrast to the usual hustle and bustle that I am acquainted with.

Clyde Frazier, former member of the New York Knicks and current commentator for the team, recently opened up a restaurant in the city. Through a family friend connection I was able to go check out the restaurant before it officially opened. The restaurant features exotic prints throughout its decor from the menus to the fur lined walls which is representative of Frazier's unique fashion sense. The restaurant is very spacious, featuring a very large bar area as well as a free throw room where guests can shoot some hoops.

Our group consisted of 12 people so we ordered almost everything on the menu (although I did not photograph everything) and I got to try a variety of the food. Overall, the appetizers were mostly a miss for me but the entrees made up for the meal.

The dishes were a mix of typical American favorites such as hamburgers and steak as well as many dishes with Asian elements. Pictured above is the calamari salad which was not what I had in mind when we were ordering. I always assumed that calamari was fried but in this case it was not and hardly detectable amongst the vegetables.

I found the shu-mai amusing but I do not recommend getting this appetizer as it is downright gimmicky. If you want to eat dimsum go to Flushing to get better food for a much lower price. Honestly I can't remember how most of the appetizers tasted which attests to the lackluster flavor of the dishes.

The mini pizza topped with chorizo and avacado was one of the better appetizers that I tried. This makes a great finger food for a group whilst waiting for your main courses. Many of the foods here tend to be children friendly which is good for young basketball fans.

I chose the seafood skewers for my entree and the tuna and shrimp were very flavorful and filling. The two skewers were generously loaded with thick cuts of seafood and the sauce was light yet flavorful. I actually had trouble finishing this dish but I did a lot of dish swapping so I could try other entrees as well.

My cousin opted for the cheeseburger which came quite rare. I took a few nibbles from her burger and I have not tasted a better burger bun than this one. The bread was soft without being mushy and had an aromatic taste to it. I feel like I say it at least once in every wrap up that I love carbs and this bun was heaven! Other entree items ranged from mushroom pasta to curry with rice so there is quite a bit of variety to choose from.

The manager of the restaurant was gushing over the dessert menu so of course I had to try something. All of their ice creams are home made and I chose the most unique flavor on the menu, lavender. The texture of the ice cream was very smooth, rich and decadent but the flavor reminded me too much of something I would shower with. It is a very unique taste but with every bite I felt like I was eating a bar of soap. If you love lavender and think it would taste really good, you should check this out.

I joined a few old friends for lunch at Shorty's, a Philly Cheesesteak eatery that ships in fresh hoagies from Philly daily. I love a good cheesesteak so I was excited to try this place out as the Yelp reviews were mostly positive.

I chose the Steak Special which includes broccoli rabe with provolone cheese. I found the bread to be a bit on the mushy side probably because the sandwich was wrapped in paper. I prefer my cheesesteak hoagies to be a bit on the crusty side so this was a disappointment. The broccoli rabe was a tad bland and overall I expected more flavor.

I stole a few Italian Fries from my friend and these were packed with flavor albeit a little heavy on the salt. These were a guilty treat but beware if you're trying to watch your sodium intake!

My friends and I were tired of eating at the same few restaurants in Flushing so we decided to check out a relatively new place called 101 Taiwanese. It is located where the Fire Ice Hot Pot restaurant used to be. I had somewhat high hopes for this place because I usually like Taiwanese food but I was somewhat disappointed.

We ordered two oyster pancakes as appetizers and we were all expecting something... different. Their oyster pancake was very goo-y and jello like. The oyster pancakes I have had before were a bit more firm and savory.

I almost forgot to take a photo of the cashew shrimp because it was the first thing to arrive and I was too busy eating to remember before half the plate was gone. This dish was quite good and the shrimps were the perfect size. I really like eating dishes like this with rice.

Sanbei Chicken (or three cup chicken) seems to be a favorite for many people so we ordered a bowl to try. I only ate one piece of chicken mainly because I was too lazy to pick out the bones. Overall it was a good dish but nothing unlike anything I eat elsewhere.

Lastly we had the seafood casserole which I did not know meant a soup with noodles. I really liked this hot soup to end the meal. Overall the food at 101 Taiwanese was nothing remarkable and I have other favorite eateries in Flushing.

After our "meh" dinner at 101 Taiwanese, we decided to take an impromptu trip to Brooklyn. I almost never go to Brooklyn because it's a long trip by public transportation but most of my friends have licenses now and they like to practice their driving skills. So thirty minutes later we had arrived in Brooklyn from Flushing (it probably would have taken me 2 hours by subway) at a little dessert shop called Kulu. It's a very trendy place which serves traditional Chinese sweet dessert soups (I have no idea how to describe it in English but if you're Chinese you probably know what I mean) as well as their own special concoctions. My friend and I shared one of the fruit bowl ones which comes with fresh fruit, a dollop of vanilla ice cream, a blend of fruity cold liquid, and lots of pearl bubbles. At $6 a bowl this stuff is not something I would eat on a normal basis but it was quite good. The ice cream paired surprisingly well with the sweet, cold liquid. If you're around 8th Ave Brooklyn Chinatown this would be a great place to get a refreshing dessert.

When in doubt my mom cooks salmon for dinner because it's something I always enjoy eating and it's relatively easy to cook. Here the salmon is paired with some quinoa cooked with carrots and herbs. I still prefer good ole' white rice over quinoa but quinoa is certainly a lot better than brown rice. Quinoa has a funny texture which reminds me of caviar and the flavor is very nutty.

So that's about all the semi-interesting things that I've done and eaten for the past month. Mostly my months revolve around things that I'd rather not go into depth about such as school and stress but that's a given for almost everyone. What were the highlights of your March?