Friday, November 21, 2014

thoughts of the week

1. My cousin showed me this Reddit feed of horrifying implications in the Harry Potter universe and it kept me entertained for HOURS. My personal favorite discussion is when the relationship of Hagrid's parents comes up. DELETUS FETUS omg.

2. Speaking of HP, I bought the Dumbledore's Office candle from the Frostbeard shop on Etsy as a Christmas gift to my little sister. I wanted to try out more scents (Slytherin and Winterfell look promising) but perhaps another time.

3. This makes for a good conversation with friends. I tested my co-worker and sister and it was interesting to see how much different their opinions were.

4. I'm bringing up Taylor Swift. I bought her newest album and have listened to it so many times I'm not sure what my play count is. It's a fun album, I enjoy her pop sound. My favorite song is Wildest Dreams at the moment.

5. How neat is this moss graffiti tutorial? If I had a brick wall I would definitely try it out.

image source

6. I have always been a firm no-Christmas-anything-until-after-Thanksgiving type of person but for some reason I have gotten the holiday spirit so early this year. My apartment has already been decorated with lights and garland. Christmas music has even been playing. No regrets.

7. Into the Abyss and The Act of Killing are my Netflix films I recommend watching. Into the Abyss takes a look at a death row inmate and his accomplice and the repercussions of their crimes. The Act of Killing follows around the most prominent Indonesian gangsters who explain how they have killed their countless victims. Both documentaries really made question human emotions since the main focus of both films deal with apathetic people and how they deal with their demons.

image source

8. Winter is upon us here in the Midwest which means my poor hands have been zapped of all moisture and painfully dry. Any recommendations for the best unscented, heavy duty hand cremes? I say unscented as I work in a lab environment and no strong scents are allowed. Perhaps something simple from Neutrogena or Eucerin?

9. Pitch Perfect 2 trailer. YES.

10. Dining etiquette around the world.

Friday, November 7, 2014

battle of the exfoliation pads

Toning is something I have really come to love in my skincare routine. If you have kept up with my skincare routines in the past, you know I like having two types of toners on hand: one that is moisturizing in the morning and one that is exfoliating for night time. I had finished up a container of Peter Thomas Roth Max Correction Pads and wanted to try something new so I ended up replacing them with First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads. So how do they compare?

Both are at similar price points with PTR being a bit more expensive than FAB ($30 versus $36). They both contain the same amount of pads (60) which are housed in screw top containers. They also have the same type of pad texturing, with one side being smooth and its reverse having a bumpy pattern.

PTR is the stronger of the two as it took about a week for my skin to acclimate to its effect and I have pretty resilient skin. It also has a high alcohol content, with it being the second highest ingredient listed. The Peter Thomas Roth Max Correction Pads have 10% glycolic acid and 1/2% salicylic acid as their exfoliants. The pads have a scent that is sweet and fruity. They are very saturated in that the pads are soaking wet. I felt one pad was a waste and too much for my whole face so I cut them in half and used half a pad for my whole face.

FAB is very mild but effective. My skin had no reactions and didn't need to adjust. They have a more "green" approach with their formula and do not contain any alcohol. The First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads have lactic and glycolic acid for their exfoliants. The scent is not very nice, it reminds me a bit of not so pleasant liquid multivitamin my mother used to make me ingest as a child. The pads aren't very saturated and are drier than the PTR. I need to use the full pad to cover my whole face, cutting them in half was not an option.

I like both of these offerings. I think Peter Thomas Roth is focusing more on acne and pore minimizing concerns whereas First Aid Beauty is zoning in on resurfacing the skin to attack scarring and hyperpigmentation. If I had to pick one, I think I would go for First Aid Beauty's take. They are milder yet surprisingly very effective. I noticed a difference with both pads but I felt like the First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads gave me quicker, noticeable results and kept large blemishes away the best. The Peter Thomas Roth Max Correction Pads are a good product; I still saw improvement just at a slower pace. The only things I felt the PTR pads did better FAB were the scent and the saturation of the pads. PTR gave me more bang for my buck as I was able to double the amount I had by cutting the pads in half. I am unable to do this trick with the FAB pads as they have just the right amount of liquid in one pad for your face.

I wouldn't recommend Peter Thomas Roth Max Correction Pads to the sensitive the name implies they are at a max state formula wise so some stinging and dryness is expected in the beginning until your skin gets around to its effect. I skipped every other day using them until my skin could handle it. I didn't have to do this for First Aid Beauty's Radiance Pads. These would be better suited for sensitive skin types that still want some exfoliation in their lives.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

NOLA 2014

Back in September my sister, cousin and I took an impromptu trip to New Orleans. We all had never been plus we had heard the city had renowned food spots, booze happy streets, and a rich history that the residents took pride in. I mostly took pictures with my iPhone as tugging around a DSLR around became tiresome and there was so much to soak in, but here is what I have to share about my time there.

The place we stayed at was Hotel Villa Convento which I highly recommend. It was within walking distance of a lot of areas we planned to see and the staff was really helpful and accommodating. The room we stayed in was really clean and nice at a really affordable price.

We were told we had to try the Hand Grenade drink at Tropical Isle. It apparently is considered a dangerous drink as people will consume a lot of it without noticing it contains a lot of alcohol since it has no lingering after taste. I can vouch for the latter, but we practiced self control and didn't order many.

I loved the old buildings with their intricate wrought iron balconies with bushy greenery to spruce up the scene. And almost all the shutters around were painted in fun colors. Such a nice sight to see.

How could we turn down something listed as The Seafood Tower on a menu? Impossible. We picked that out at Pier 424 Seafood Market which felt a little "chain-like" so it definitely isn't a must try if you are in town. We also tried out Imperial Woodpecker Snoballs which was refreshing and not too shabby to look at. But again, not necessarily a MUST TRY unless you are a huge shaved ice fan.

I definitely recommend checking out Carousel Bar; it revolves as you sit! It was very neat. It spins slowly so you don't really notice it until you've been chatting up for a while and suddenly you are on the other side of the room. We had our first Sazeracs here, wowza that's a strong drink. If you like stiff drinks be sure to try it out. I personally needed to chase every sip with some water.

French Market was a couple streets away from our hotel so we stopped by to check it out. It was fun to see all the different seasonings, sauces, and other fares they had to offer. We walked away with some Cajun spices to take home.

Royal Street had a lot of street entertainment during the day. It also is the location of Cafe Beignet. We had some beignets and a muffaletta for the first time. The beignets were okay, I'm not a huge fan of the massive amount of powdered sugar. I did enjoy the muffaletta, though I have a sneaking suspicion that if you don't like olives (I love olives) you won't enjoy this NOLA sandwich. We didn't bother making it to the infamous Cafe du Monde this trip since we had our fill of fried dough.

So far, New Orleans has had the freshest seafood I have ever tried. The shrimp were always succulent, huge, and sweet. The bottom picture is Mr. B's Barbeque Shrimp at Mr. B's Bistro and it is by far the best shrimp I have ever had the pleasure of eating in my life. I was skeptical as this dish was heavily raved about in my food research but the hype is so real you guys.

A few thoughts on NOLA:

+ The weather is the strangest thing. It is hot and humid but it would also be stormy and rainy randomly for brief periods before clearing up and being sunny like nothing happened. And I thought the Midwest had wonky weather!
+ Everywhere you go there is ice cold AC blasting even if their doors/windows were open. I think they do this to entice you inside their business as the heat was pretty intense.
+ We didn't get to visit a lot of areas that I wanted to make it to. I definitely plan to go back to visit the Garden District, check out some jazz clubs, and to get a tour of the cemeteries.
+ If you are a seafood fan, make sure you plan to visit during NOLA's crawfish season. I didn't even know crawfish season was a thing, but it is and we missed it and were very bummed.
+ Bourbon street was not really our scene at night time. It would have been when I was in college, but I'm a bit of a grandma these days and it felt too "frat like" for my taste. We visited all the Bourbon street places during the day when we had most of the place to ourselves.

Friday, October 10, 2014

thoughts of the week

1. I tried out this tasty quinoa thai chicken recipe recently and have logged it away as something to make again.

2. I recently booked a trip to Mexico for early December. It will be my first time visiting the country and I can't wait. I'll be staying in Playa del Carmen so if you have been, let me know of anything to check out!

3. It has been over 2 months since my sister and I have started Crossfit and we really love it. It somehow makes us feel sore after every class even though the movements don't seem all that intense at first. I give credit to our awesome trainer; he always knows our limits and when we are ready to move up a level while never making us feel intimidated or overwhelmed. I highly recommend it if you are in a workout rut. A little warning though, it can be rough on your body. I currently have callused hands and bruised up thighs from all the gymnastic and bar bell work.

4. Vampire Diaries premiered last week! Finally, I basically wait my whole life for this show to be airing. What did you guys think of the premiere? I loved it and have really high hopes for this season to surpass the disaster that was season 5.

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Elena's poor desperation :(

5. How trippy is this cake? I mean who thinks up of this stuff? Geniuses, that's who.

6. Fall is hitting me at full force causing me to pull out some of my favorite fall blushes. NARS Sin and Mounia come to mind. Why did NARS discontinue Mounia? It is such a delightful shade.

7. JK Rowling always knows how to stir up HP fans with her cryptic tweets. I didn't get my hopes up that it had anything to do with HP but it was a nice to dream a little...

8. I kept seeing people talk about the film "What Maisie Knew" which is based off a book. I watched it recently on Netflix and I wasn't really moved by it. Though I do think the character lead was a fantastic little actress. Whoever was the stylist for her in the movie should get an award. All her outfits were so awesome.

9. I'm running low on my Clarins lotus facial oil and PTR exfoliating pads so I thought I'd switch it up by trying out Dr. Hauschka Clarifying Day Oil and First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads. Once I break them open and give them some love, I'll be sure to do comparison posts.

10. Key and Peele hilariously depict how texts can completely be taken out of context.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

013 items used up

This round of items used up features a couple impressive shiny pans and key staples that you can obviously tell I rely on due to the multiples. Documenting empties is always an interesting thing to me; I notice which products have firm places in my routine.

Regis Moisture Shampoo: Hair, always my least favorite topic. I rarely buy the same hair care twice in a row and I prefer huge pump bottles so I don't have to worry about it running out any time soon. I really have no favorites, but this Regis Shampoo is an exception. It smells clean, lathers up well with little product, and is sulfate free. I usually can only find this in Walmart hair salons believe it or not.

V05 Ocean Refresh Conditioner: I use this on no shampoo days as well as for shaving. It is dirt cheap and effective, albeit watery so if you are looking for a rich conditioner this is not it. I don't particularly revere this scent but I couldn't find my favorite one (Tea Therapy Calming Chamomile) so this one had to do.

B&BW Hawaii Passion Fruit Kiss: This was a free item after using some voucher I got in the mail. I have no thoughts on it. It was pleasant enough to use up but I wouldn't rush out and get a full sized bottle.

TBS Satsume Body Butter: I have been using this for years and will always repurchase it. Not greasy, the scent lingers for hours, moisturizes well and sinks in quickly. All I could ask for in a body moisturizer. I've lost count on how many times I have repurchased.

B&BW Berry Vanilla: An old scent that I stocked up on years ago. I think this might be the final bottle. Thank goodness. I enjoyed it initially but it is one of those types of scents that after using countless bottles of it, it became very tiresome.

Caress Passionate Spell: Currently my choice of body wash. If you have followed me for some time, you know that Caress is my usual brand pick for body wash. Inexpensive, doesn't leave my skin squeaky clean (a feeling I hate), and the scents they come out with are interesting.

Shu Uemura Anti-Oxi Refining Oil: I stocked up on cleansing oils from Shu last year during black friday. I ended up picking the pink bottle, Porefinist, and this one to see if they were any different. This is thicker than its pink counterpart, a feature I don't care much for. Shu still makes the best cleansing oils I have tried so far, but I think I will stick with Porefinist from now on.

Boscia Cleansing Oil: A good cleansing oil to try out if you are new to the game. It has more natural ingredients if that is something you are concerned about. It also has a thicker feel to it making it take a few more splashes to the face to completely get off.

Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip: The best non foaming cleanser I have used so far. It is gentle but still felt like it gave added benefits to my skin. It is quite expensive though, which holds me off from immediately purchasing it again.

LUSH Grease Lightening: Some people really love to use this as a spot treatment. I did not like using it this way. I used it on the oiliest spots on my face and it really helped keep the grease away. I would repurchase.

Neutrogena Eye Makeup Remover: My favorite eye makeup remover, as you probably could tell. I buy a few bottles at a time and dump them into an empty Bioderma pump bottle. This won't be for everyone as it leaves a slightly oily feel behind, but I double cleanse after so it really makes no difference to me. It is the only remover I have tried so far that completely takes off all the mascara and kohl liner I use.

Blistex Lip Medex: Staple night time lip soother. I should probably stop mentioning it on the blog now as it has made countless appearances...

Giorgio Armani ETK liner: My favorite kohl liner I have ever used, though the most expensive. I would repurchase but I'm determined to use up my current fistful of liners I already own from other brands first.

YSL Teint Resist: A discontinued item which is a damn shame. Every time I used this I felt I had a good makeup day. It had the perfect finish (satin), lasted throughout my day, controlled most of my shine, and gave the perfect coverage for my tastes. Very sad indeed this is gone for good.

MAC MSF Natural: A repeat purchase. I enjoy this powder, it doesn't have the best lasting power but I always enjoyed wearing it.

Stila Bronzer: I have had this bronzer since the dawn of time and I feel SO PROUD that I freaking finished it. I even smashed up the side sticking pieces at the end and used the powder. I liked this but it leans a bit orange so I think a majority of people would want to avoid it. It was matte and easy to apply though so I had no complaints using it up.

Proof of my pan work. Rejoice, ya'll.

Friday, September 19, 2014

current makeup rotation

On top of my makeup storage desk, I keep a little scalloped vanity tray (from Urban Outfitters a while back) full of my daily makeup items. I do this not only for aesthetics, but also so I am able to routinely pluck out a few items from my collection to actually give some love to. I have found this trick has made me use up products much faster and consistently. It also allows me to fully appreciate and have a complete formed opinion on what I'm using on a weekly, sometimes monthly, basis. Here is what I currently have piled inside:

I am switching between Revlon Coral Reef and Pink Pop glosses, depending on the type of blush I chose to wear that day. These used to just sit and sit in my makeup drawer untouched. I think I ignored these for so long because I felt the colors were too bright and not appropriate for daily use. I found a way to remedy that though: I apply a dab along the middle of my bottom lip and then use my pointer finger to pat what I placed on my lips all over to dilute the color. It is much more sheer and wearable this way.

For foundation I have been wearing a thin layer of Revlon ColorStay. I randomly picked this up due to nostalgia as this was my foundation of choice in high school. I was happy to see that I still enjoy this foundation. It has great longevity and a natural looking finish. It also is easy to control the coverage due to its high pigmentation. It is quite thick though so its pour-the-product-out-of-the-bottle design is a failure on Revlon's part.

To cover blemishes I am still using my trusty Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage concealer. For under my eyes I have been using Maybelline Age Rewind in the corrector shade. I think almost everyone enjoys this product and for good reason; it is cheap and effective. As for highlighter, I have been diligently using MAC Hush Cream Color Base. I adore this product and would repurchase it. It feels like the gift that keeps on giving, I have had this little pot forever and still haven't finished it.

I have been setting my face with NARS Light Reflecting Pressed Powder. I like this powder very much. It blurs out my pores well and adds a nice satin finish to my skin. For bronzer I have been using theBalm Betty-Lou Manizer. I recently finished up a bronzer and was going to treat myself to a luxurious replacement as a reward but then I decided I really should use up what I have. I don't mind Betty. It isn't matte so if overdone it can make the skin have too much of a sheen. I stick to applying sparingly and it works just fine. I have swatches of it in THIS post.

As for blush, I'm greedy and need at least two different options if I want to stick to a routine. Currently I have been in the mood for softer colors. CARGO The Big Easy is, like its name implies, extremely easy to wear. This is one of those shades you can just swirl, brush on, and get out the door. I love it for a very natural cheek. If I want something still soft but more noticeable, I go for Estee Lauder Peach Nuance. This is a discontinued item which is unfortunate since it is a very wonderful shade. I have a hard time making peaches work on me as they tend to make my skin look dirty, but this one works very well due to the blend of colors I can customize.

Neutrals mattes are all I have been wearing lately. I have been sticking to a very natural eye. I first apply MAC Groundwork all over my lid and then I blend in some of the mid brown shade in the Smashbox Filter trio into my crease and all along my lower lash line. If I feel like really emphasizing my eyes I'll fluff in some of the darker brown shade into my outer V. The MAC quad I have had forever and I pull out if I want to add some more dimension. The shades I have inside are some of my staples: Brule, Cork, Brun, and Tempting.

If you follow me on Twitter you might remember me complaining about L'Oreal Butterfly mascara. I initially did not care for this mascara at all. I thought it wasn't dramatic enough and did nothing for my lashes. I actually really like it now! I should have known I would eventually come around since like every other L'Oreal mascara I have tried, they get better the longer they are open and used. This isn't the best for volume but it is noticeably great at fanning out and elongating my lashes. For liner I have been adopting a very relaxed attitude about how I apply it. I first put Urban Decay Zero on my upper waterline. I hate Zero, which I have been over before, but using it on the upper water line has been proving to be a great way to use it up. I then pencil in Whiskey along the middle to outer corners of my upper lid, which I smudge and fade into my lid with my finger.

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!