Wednesday, September 17, 2014

001 book challenge

Over a year ago I challenged myself to read more often. At first I wanted to read the TIME 100 top novel list, but I changed it to picking whatever books that fit my mood to be more realistic. I've been pretty slow in this challenge, but as long as I'm reading something I'm fine with my pace. Here are the books I've managed to read:

Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout: This is an all fluff, no substance teen novel about a human girl that befriends her incognito alien neighbors. She also falls for the bad boy brother alien. If you are in the mood for quick entertainment and don't mind some cringe worthy descriptions, this is for you. I enjoyed it but got bored continuing the series because it felt repetitive.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell: I liked this novel. It's a sweet romance story with characters that aren't your typical main protagonists. I didn't care much for how the book's ending, but let me know what you think about it if you've read it. I enjoy Rainbow's style of writing... so much that I read another book by her (below)

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell: My coworker was reading this and I noticed it was also by Rainbow so I borrowed it to knock out. It has an interesting story line about a man who has a job reading through flagged content emails at a corporate office for security reasons. He begins reading flagged emails between two girl friends and ends up falling for the personality of one of them. I liked this book more than Eleanor & Park. Again, I enjoyed Rainbow's style of writing and feel we share the same humor. I laughed quite a bit at a few parts.

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver: A teenage girl that's part of the most popular clique in her high school gets in a car accident and ends up living the same day before the accident over and over again. The main character irritated me quite a bit but I was still able to get into the story. I know a lot of people didn't like the ending of this but I thought it was the most appropriate one.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: I finally got around to reading this popular book. I've been meaning to ever since it started making headlines. This is one of those books you absolutely can't discuss without giving away spoilers which is a shame because I had a LOT to discuss about after reading it and no one to talk to haha. I'm very very intrigued on how the upcoming movie version will carry the story out!

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead: A quick read if you are in the mood for supernatural YA. Another book where the main character was a bit overbearing but I liked the overall world and setup. I would like to finish out the series eventually. The writing isn't the best but it still has some entertainment merit.

I don't know if you picked up on it, but I've been on a YA kick. Any suggestions on what to read next is always appreciated. I was able to get some great suggestions on twitter that I made note of, so thank you to those that helped me out!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

003 thoughts of the week

1. My sister and I purchased a Groupon deal for 20 Crossfit classes. When I go I'll let you guys know if I make it out alive. I don't consider myself to be technically "fit" so I'm absolutely petrified.

2. J.K. Rowling wrote a short story on our beloved characters in the perspective of Rita Skeeter in the future and it is amazing. Albeit, a humongous tease that leaves me wanting more insight into the adults lives of HP, but I know that it should be left to our imaginations as to not taint the series. But seriously, Luna in a robe made of flags?! My heart.

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3. Lazy Sundays mean Netflix binging. My recent pick was Parenthood. I have watched this show before but I tapered off and stopped. I felt like watching emotional TV and Parenthood always fills that void. Those damn Bravermans. I'm still early in the series so no spoilers!

4. This past weekend I tried out Rosie's Bulhao Pato Clams and it did not disappoint. It was insanely tasty. A recipe worth saving and trying for sure.

5. What do we think about Bill Gates backing microchip birth control? Honestly a microchip in my body freaks me out (I, Robot anyone?) so I'm firmly passing on this in the future. Can't deny it is a little bit neat though.

6. I watched "The Cider House Rules" the other day. It was a nice film and Charlize Theron is a beautiful goddess...BUT it was very hard for me to concentrate on emotional scenes because the soundtrack is also used in the Pure Michigan commercials. TAINTED.

7. Am I the only one that thinks Jason Segel is looking mighty dashing? View pictures of him at the premiere of his newest movie and decide for yourself. Yes to scruff!

8. Have you guys seen the Sia Chandelier music video? How about Jimmy Kimmel's take?

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That wig though

9. This woman tried Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop Diet and documented it. It is hilarious and a must read for a good chuckle. I like clean eating but I'm not sure I can do Gwyneth level eating.

10. These J Brand Coated jeans are on sale and I would 100% purchase them if they had my size. I have been lusting after their coated jeans for quite some time but I'm only willing to stomach the price at a generously discounted price.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

lengthy skincare chat

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I have had a few thoughts about a few skincare items I have been using as of lately that I wanted to share. I've hit a nice little groove of good skin days for the past few weeks and I believe it is due to my routine so here is what I have discovered.

LA-ROCHE POSAY TOLERIANE FOAMING CLEANSER
Yes, yes if you are a Caroline Hirons reader, foaming cleansers are the devil and all that. I like CH, she gives great skincare advice and insight to the naive but I also am a firm believer in something she has said herself: if something works for you, by all means keep using it. That is how I feel about certain foaming cleansers. Balms and oils are wonderful and all, but nothing gets all the crap off my face quite like a gentle yet thorough foaming cleanser. I picked this La-Roche Posay item up after reading about it so many times on Sandra's blog and I quite agree with her, this is a kick ass cleanser. It is gentle yet cleanses well without over drying. It requires the SMALLEST amount to get a nice rich foam and lather. That always impresses me. It reminds me a lot of Clarins Gentle Foaming Cleanser, one of my favorite cleansers I have ever used (I miss it too, I probably will get it after I use this guy up). The only difference is the Clarins smells fresher and cleaner. This La-Roche Posay version doesn't really have much of a scent to it. I think this would be best for combo to oily skin as it will balance out your skin nicely. I think normal to dry types will find this too stripping.

CLARINS LOTUS OIL
I know, I did a review on this already and I mentioned it in my night time skincare routine post but I wanted to say one more thing about this: I think this works best ONLY on problem areas and not all over. At least for me. I traveled away over July 4th and I left this behind. My oily areas stroke back with an oily vengeance but my chin area, which has been super prone to hormonal cystic breakouts, was clear as day. I came back from my trip and started using this up again and my chin started getting clogged up and hormonal again. It might just be a coincidence but I've been experimenting by applying this only to my oily areas and skipping out on my normal patches. I have noticed significant clearing up on my chin. Just something to keep in mind and something I found interesting.

PETER THOMAS ROTH MAX COMPLEXION PADS
Speaking of my chin area, let me go into more detail. I haven't had to really deal with bad breakouts in a long time ever since I did the Accutane deal back in high school. Yes I got a few bumps and spots here and there during the hormonal times of the month but nothing that I couldn't zap away with some La-Roche Posay Effaclar Duo. But the past couple months my chin area has been a nightmare! Small bumps, hormonal cystic acne, you name it. It was very frustrating as my normal remedy of Effaclar Duo had no effect on them.

I bought these pads to chemically exfoliate my face at night and to also clear up pesky spots. This worked very well for me. It cleared up my chin in no time. However, it is a VERY strong formula! It took some time for my skin to acclimate. The first time I used it, my skin was in bad shape and quite vulnerable. I swiped a pad over my chin and went to bed. The next day all the spots were dried up and gone, BUT, it left my skin so dry! It was peeling and quite unattractive. I had to rescue my chin with some Avene Soothing Moisture Mask to repair the damage. If you do want to try these out and have sensitive skin, I would be very, very cautious. My skin is used to it now so now it clears breakouts in a breeze without leaving peeling skin behind but I took baby steps to get there. I also cut the pads in half to extend the life of the product. I find half of a pad is more than enough to cover my face.

BOTTOM LINE
Quite a lengthy chat! In summary: La Roche Posay Foaming cleanser is kick ass and recommended for combo to oily skin. Very great at balancing and will last you a while. Very similar to Clarins Gentle Foaming Cleanser. Clarins Lotus Oil is best for application on only your oily areas, if you have hormonal patches try to skip those parts as I believe it exacerbates the problem. The Peter Thoomas Roth Pads are really great at clearing up stubborn breakouts but are quite strong so if your skin is prone to peeling I wouldn't risk it unless you are desperate. Phew. Any skincare bits you have been enjoying lately?

Monday, July 14, 2014

current blush rotation: brights

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For me this summer has been all about obnoxiously bright blushes. If you have been a reader of mine for a while, you know I am a huge fan of outrageously pigmented blushes. Yes, they do require some extra time and tenderness when it comes to application, but to me the extra effort is 100% worth it for the effect and longevity. I have been completely uninterested in subtle blush hues and instead very much obsessed with my bright choices. My current blush rotation:

NARS DESIRE
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Surprise, surprise NARS Desire makes the rotation cut. I've professed my love for this blush for ages on my blog so I'll try to keep it short and sweet; a shocking, bright pink that always manages to flatter my warm skin tone no matter the season. Can turn a bit ruddy on some skin tones so it isn't for everyone but I always recommend people to try it on. A staple shade for me.

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Desire in action. MAC Angel on the lips.

CARGO LAGUNA
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Laguna is an extremely underrated blush that NO ONE ever talks about. This is unfortunate as I love this shade. I would say it makes my top ten favorite blushes (a list/post I am scared to do because it will make me confront my blush problem). It looks like a cheeto orange shade in the pan but on the cheeks it sheers out to the most lovely peach shade. This is coming from a gal who has a hard time working peach blushes.

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Laguna in action. Burberry Copper Lip Mist on the lips.

NARS EXHIBIT A
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Lovers of Exhibit A would describe it as cherry tomato red while the more mean spirited might go as far to call this "clown cheeks red". This shade is another favorite of mine. I think this is the scariest blush to look at in the pan which is quite contrary to how it looks on the face. Really great for minimal makeup looks as a light dusting on the cheek bones gives the most natural flush possible.

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Exhibit A in action. NARS Dolce Vita on the lips.

MILANI BELLA ROSA
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If I'm being honest I would have to say that lately Bella Rosa has been my most reached for blush out of all my bright choices. I find myself saying, "Kelly, you really should show some love to your other blushes today" and then next thing I know, I'm reaching for this little pot five days in a row. Such a drugstore gem that shouldn't be overlooked. There are more pictures of this HERE when I gave it its own post.

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Bella Rosa in action. Revlon Pink Pop gloss on the lips.

SWATCHES
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NARS Exhibit A, CARGO Laguna, Milani Bella Rosa, NARS Desire

All shades are matte, which is something I prefer with such strong colors. I use a NARS Yachiyo for application. I have mixed feelings about this brush. It applies pigmented blushes so wonderfully since the tapered shape and flexible handle helps with precise control BUT it sheds on my face like crazy. It is also expensive. If I could turn back time I wouldn't have purchased this due to the shedding. When it reaches the end of its life I plan to invest in the Hakuhodo version.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

012 items used up

HAIR/BODY CARE
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Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Bar Soap
I liked this and I mainly bought the bar version to see if it would last longer than its liquid counterpart. It didn't so I will be sticking with the liquid versions of the soaps from now on. Still, this was nice and worked the same. Liquid is just easier to handle.

Dove Purely Pampering Shea Butter Body Wash
This made my skin feel nice and hydrated but it was a drag to use because I didn't like the scent at all. It got boring to use. Wouldn't repurchase.

Organix Kukui Oil Conditioner
I think I have told you all before that I have some kind of sickness when it comes to the Organix line. I don't particularly like any of the lines but whenever a new one comes out I have the need to try them out. I didn't care for this one. I think it made my hair fall out more than normal.

Pantene Smooth and Sleek Conditioner
I have never been a fan of Pantene. It just does nothing for my hair. Pass.

SKINCARE
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Clarasonic Deep Pore Brush Head
I'm not sure if I can really tell the difference between all the brush heads if I am being honest. Right now I have a "normal" brush head on my device and it feels the same as this "deep pore" one. Maybe I need to use them side by side to tell hah.

Neutrogena Oil Free Eye Makeup Remover
My favorite drugstore eye makeup remover by far. Perhaps even favorite one overall? Everything else just doesn't take all the mascara and kohl liner I wear and this stuff does. It does leave a slightly oily residue behind but it doesn't bother me since I wash my face right after removal.

Kiehl's Clarity Activating Toner
I talked about this in my night time skincare routine. I finally finished it and good riddance! I didn't think this was a life changing product. In fact I don't think it did a thing for my skin. I don't recommend it.

Thayer's Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner
This is becoming a staple product in my routine. I already have repurchased a new bottle. It is soothing, non-drying, and slightly hydrating. It doesn't clog up my skin but rather refreshes it. It's very affordable too. You can find it in health stores like Vitamin Shoppe and GNC if you were wondering.

CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion
HG forever and ever.

Pai Camellia and Rose Cleanser
I really enjoyed this and turned to it a lot when my skin needed some TLC. It has a short shelf life though so I probably won't get it again until fall/winter time when my skin needs the extra dose of hydration and soothing care.

Sibu Balancing Cleanser
I did a review on this and feel the same still: it's a good balancing cleanser that is affordable. I would repurchase in the future.

MAKEUP
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L'Oreal Voluminous Original
Just seeing this empty tube is making me miss it. This is one of my favorite mascaras ever. Yes it is very wet when you first open it, but once you let it thicken up a bit after a few days it is so good. I'm talking noticeable volume in one coat good. It will always be a mascara I turn to.

Revlon Pink Ice Gloss
I worked so hard to use this up! It felt like such a victory using up the last possible amount of product. This was a nice color, perhaps too much sparkle for my taste though. I don't think I care too much for the formula of these. They don't wear very long and they leave the dreaded lip ring.

L'Oreal Lineur Intense
My favorite liquid liner I have tried so far. I have repurchased countless tubes of this. It applies precisely, lasts long, and it is a rich black.

Revlon Nearly Naked in Shell
I did a review on this product as well. I loved the finish and look of this on my skin but it did not last on my oily skin. If you have normal to dry skin this would be a good option for a natural looking foundation.

MISC BEAUTY
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Seche Vite Top Coat
I like this because it works well but there are two complaints I have: 1. it thickens up and it hard to use with time 2. it shrinks on the nails over time which you can visibly notice. I did buy the Restore to remedy the first issue but I don't want to have to have to revive it every time I want to use it, you know? I think I am done buying this top coat for a while.

OPI RapidDry Top Coat
This didn't work as well as the Seche Vite but it also didn't dry up quickly. Still, I won't be repurchasing.

LORAC selfTANtalizer
I really enjoy this. It gives instant dark results, comes with a mitten, and it also leaves your skin subtle sparkly when in the sun which I think is a nice effect. It isn't orange and it leaves a nice cupcake scent behind at first. It does, however, still have the dreaded fake bake scent. I have found if you mix this with a scented moisturizer that the scent is covered up so that is how I have been using it. Would repurchase and already have!

Friday, May 30, 2014

002 thoughts of the week

1. For memorial weekend I went home to visit my parents. To help pass the time, my older sister played old performances on blast and it made me feel extremely nostalgic. I mean, listen to the harmonization in THIS and the greatness that is THIS. They just don't do entertainment right anymore *grandma grumble.

2. I had no idea who Iggy Azalea was last week but I came across Jimmy Kimmel's translation for old people video which made me laugh and also firmly cemented the rapper's name in my brain. Now I feel like she's everywhere I turn and I just wasn't paying attention before. I previously hated Fancy, now it is embarrassingly a guilty pleasure.

3. I almost gave up on The Originals because I really can not stand Hayley (the worst) but I heard the finale was good so I forced myself to catch up. And it was worth it because the finale was really great. I might have cried. That damn wooden toy scene, ugh.

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All the tears...

4. NastyGal was having a 50% off already marked down items so picked out a few things. I've never shopped at the site before so we shall see how it goes. The things I am most excited about are THIS sparkly thing and my very first maxi dress.

5. Did you guys see The Lonely Island's When Will the Bass Drop video?! If you are a fan of EDM you will 100% understand and laugh forever like I did. If not, you probably won't think it's funny. Andy Samberg's face could convince you otherwise though.

6. My recently watched Netflix movie is Dogtooth. I picked it because an internet list told me it was compelling. Holy hell this movie was fucked up. I didn't understand what was going on at all but it did make me think for a couple days after I watched it. I don't know if I necessarily recommend it because it is a strange, strange movie with no concrete resolution or explanation.

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just to give you a preview of the strangeness

7. Emma Watson's face. Her makeup is always something to be mesmerized by.

8. Chrissy Teigen answered some questions on her twitter for Cosmo and she mentioned one of her favorite beauty tricks is using LORAC self tanner mixed with moisturizer. I was intrigued so I bought it during Beauty.com's 20% F&F sale and tried it out. In short, I love it. Mixing this product is such a genius idea since 1. you extend the product usage without significantly decreasing the integrity of the tanner 2. it kills off that God awful self tanner smell. Maybe I'll do a full review on this when I get more use out of it.

9. My parents are donating a king sized bed to me in a couple weeks and I am so excited. I'm also overwhelmed with the choices of bedding there are as I have no idea what kind of look I want. I need bedroom inspiration.

10. The weather has been so gorgeous lately that I am so antsy to get out and do some outdoor activities. Just a few things on my list: kayaking, canoeing, visiting a fish hatchery, picking strawberries. Bring it on summer 2014.

please don't let my summer become this haha.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

007 what I'm eating/fitness routine

As a fellow foodie, I am always fascinated by what other people choose to consume and what recipes others find worth sharing. I'm that person who does NOT find it annoying when when people post pictures of their meal, I truly enjoy creeping on their chow. If you feel the same way, these posts are for you. It's time for another installment of what I've been eating. I also wanted to briefly cover my fitness routine for some insight.

BREAKFAST

When I wake up I am rarely ever hungry and I hate forcing myself to eat any type of meal. I try to stick to something light to get some nutrition in my body since I do my workouts in the morning. Working out on an empty stomach is no bueno for me, I get light headed and feel nauseous when I do so. I usually opt for a protein shake, something I REALLY had to adjust to. I used to be very sensitive to the taste of the protein powder and despised it but now I can't even taste it.

If you feel the same way about protein, I suggest gradually adding protein powder to your shakes. For example, when I first started out I started with only half a scoop. I continued this for about two weeks and then moved on to 3/4 of a scoop and so on and so forth. Also, bananas are your best friends. They cover up the protein taste and thicken up the shake. For my shakes I add a mix of almond milk and water, a heaping scoop of mint chocolate protein powder, half of a very ripe frozen banana, ground flax seed, wheat germ, psyllium husk, and a little pro-biotic powder. Flax seed and wheat germ should be easy to find at health stores or places like Vitamin Shoppe or GNC if you want convenience but if you want more bang for your buck suggest looking for a bulk retailer online. Psyllium husk can be found anywhere, I get mine at Walmart for cheap. It looks like THIS.

As for actual food, to be honest I rarely eat in the mornings. Like I said, my body is still processing being up so the last thing I want to do is to eat. If I am up for a while and don't have places to be, I will eat steel cut oatmeal that has been soaked in almond milk overnight. I'll add honey, cinnamon, and some walnuts to make it tasty. This is the only way I will eat oatmeal! I hated oatmeal before I did this combination. There is also my favorite snack of greek yogurt with fruit, honey, and some kind of granola.

LUNCH

Lunch is when I first start feeling hungry. I bulk up on vegetables, incorporate a lean meat or seafood to feel fully satisfied, and I always like to finish off with some kind of fruit. Any salad with chicken is a common choice with me. Lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and feta with balsamic is my go to and fail safe choice. Sometimes I'll switch it up and bulk up on vegetables a different way, such as shrimp ceviche. Soups I'll do now and again, pictured here is Ina Garten's roasted tomato basil which I highly recommend trying out. I'll also meet up with friends for lunch and do pho. Sandwiches I'll do on occasion depending on my mood and how quick I want to throw something together. Pictured is a turkey bacon BLT I made up (wheat bread, red onion, tomato, turkey bacon, avocado to replace mayo) which I extremely enjoy. I thought I was going to hate turkey bacon but it has the same flavor as bacon! It does not have the satisfying crumbly fat texture though.

DINNER

Dinner I stick to the same philosophy of bulking up on vegetables and having some kind of lean meat. I am also a firm advocate of carbs as I feel like they give me energy and keep me full longer. My favorites are sweet potato, quinoa, and brown rice. I tried out THIS recipe for a creamy avocado spaghetti squash dish which is pictured in the middle and I would not recommend it. It just made me want to eat guacamole and I don't think it complimented the squash well. I won't strictly stick to healthy choices, if I crave pasta I'll whip up the classic one pot pasta or if I feel like white rice I'll make it and eat it with a stir fry or boiled meat and vegetable dish.

INDULGENCES

My body is to the point where if I go overboard with anything unhealthy I feel sick which is surprising to me since I never thought I would get on that level. Even so, weekends I tend to indulge and not hold back on anything within reason. I drink beer, I try out restaurants in my area, etc.

FITNESS

This is about a 4.5 month time gap. I started out the first two months doing 1 hour gym sessions but I found that was too hard on my body and I was constantly sore/in pain so the last two months I switched to 30-45 minute workouts. I run and do weights about 4-5 times a week. My current workout starts off with a 15 minute run which usually ends up being 1.5-2 miles depending on my mood. After that warm up I do weights, I switch off between arms and legs every other day. I just use the weight machines provided at my gym.

I'm not a health expert and everyone is different but this is what has been working for me. I do have a pretty decent metabolism, which I am very thankful for, so keep that in mind. I think what helped me most was jump-starting my physical activity as I was never, EVER, EVER physically active before. Getting my ass up and around was a tremendous lifestyle change. Diet of course is a big factor but I don't like focusing on it and I don't like depriving myself since food brings me great joy. I still eat chips, pizza, burgers, pork belly etc just not as often as I used to. I would say I also eat less than I did before which was very hard for me in the beginning but my body adjusted with time. Had a few hangry moments in the beginning!

I also think shakes or some kind of supplement is a defining factor in my change as I don't believe the food we have access to has the proper and full nutritional value our bodies need. I don't see the protein shakes as meal replacements, I see them as a boost in covering all the nutrient holes I have in my diet.

If you have any questions about anything, feel free to ask. I'm pretty open about everything so don't be shy!