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Monday, December 31, 2012

Health: How To Detox After The Holidays

If you're like me, you let your normal eating and workout habits relax a bit during the holidays. With the hectic schedule, good food and abundance of sweets around it's hard not to stray a bit. 

Worrying about what you ate and the workouts you didn't do doesn't help you at all -- in fact it can add a lot of unnecessary stress causing you to gain even more weight. The key is to indulge a bit and then get right back on track once the holidays are over. Here are a few tips on how to detox:

1. Don't make an unrealistic goal or New Years Resolution you know you can't and wont keep. Instead focus on small attainable goals such as doing some form of physical activity 3-4 times a week, adding more fruits and veggies into your diet, limiting sweets to a few treats a week, etc. This way you won't be beating yourself up at the end of February when you've already blew that crazy goal you set. 

2. Get back to basics. Remember how good you were eating before the holidays? How about the set workout dates you had on your calendar? Get back to that. Don't restrict yourself too much or a binge will likely follow. Instead, follow your healthy clean eating habits from before and slowly wean off of bigger portions, heavy foods and sweets. Slowly work up to your fitness routine by adding a little more weight each time you hit the gym or 10 more minutes of cardio. You'll be amazed at how good you'll feel once you're back on track. 

3. The little things really add up. Sitting on the couch? Grab a pair of hand weights and do mini exercises during commercial breaks. You'd be amazed what 5 minutes at a time can slowly do to your body. It's good to get the blood flowing and you'll likely be less motivated to snack on unhealthy eats while watching TV. 

4. Feel hungrier after your holiday binging? Drink a big glass of water and wait 5 minutes. Sometimes you're really just thirsty and need some H2O instead of food. If you still feel hungry, grab a healthy snack and eat slowly. This will help your stomach signal you when you're full so you don't overeat. 

5. Most importantly, don't beat yourself up. The holidays are meant to indulge a little and you'll be back on track in no time. 

What tips do you have to get back on track after the holidays? Do you let yourself indulge or stick to your normal eating and exercise routine? 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Beauty Review: Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-on Eye Pencils

I was so spoiled this Christmas. Some of my favorite gifts were ones I didn't even think of -- thank you again friends and family, I truly am so lucky. My future mother-in-law reads this blog and knows how much I love testing new makeup products and reviewing them for you. She totally spoiled me again this year and got me a ton of makeup, face and body products for me to try. Today I'm reviewing the Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-on Eye Pencils

I was so excited to see that there were five colors in the package and that they were all so different than what I currently own. Perversion (very black), Ransom (bright purple), Woodstock (hot pink), Radium (bright blue), Junkie (green). I've been wanting to try out some bolder looks and these eyeliners are perfect! 

I love that they are long wear and waterproof. They really stay put -- even with my watery eyes from my contacts. After putting swatches of the colors on my arm it look some serious scrubbing to get them off (especially Perversion) a good sign for how long lasting these colors are!

They all went on so smooth and glided over my eyelids. Some other brands of pencil eyeliners tend to break up or skip over the eyelid leaving breaks in the color. This was not an issue at all with this product and it went on so smooth without tugging on my eyelids at all. 

I am a big fan of these eyeliners and am so excited to continue to try out new looks with them. 

Have you tried these eyeliners before? Are there any other waterproof liners you love? 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Adrianne’s December Birchbox

Can you believe we’re nearing the end of the year? My final Birchbox of the year had a few good surprises and one BIG disappointment for me. Read on to see what I thought: 

1. theBalm® cosmetics Mary-Lou Manizer 

2. amika Obliphica Nourishing Mask 

3. Chuao Chocolatier Assorted ChocoPod 

4. Aerie Shimmer Fragrance 

5. Lashem Measurable Difference Lash Gel Serum 

1. theBalm® cosmetics Mary-Lou Manizer: This honey-colored luminzer is made with light-reflecting silica particles to provide a soft shimmery glow on the face. As soon as I tried this luminzer, I loved it. The color is great and I think it would work on any skin tone. 

Left: blended, Right: not blended

One of the best things about this product is its versatility—it can be used to highlight the cheeks, inner corners of the eyes or brow bones. If you’d like to go even further, you can dust a little on the bridge of your nose or cupid’s bow, or just wear it as an eyeshadow. If you’re looking for a subtle way to highlight your fact, definitely check this one out.

2. amika Obliphica Nourishing Mask: Does your hair suffer from split ends or breakage? You are definitely going to want to check out this nourishing mask. The conditioner is made from vitamins and omega acids and is free from parabens and sulfates. It can either be used as an everyday conditioner or weekly deep conditioning treatment. Use it like you would any other conditioner—work it in to your hair, concentrating on the ends, and leave it in anywhere from two to five minutes. Then thoroughly rinse with lukewarm water.

My hair felt noticeably more soft and smooth after using the conditioner. I would definitely recommend trying this one out if you’ve got dry, damaged hair or if you regularly color.

3. Chuao Chocolatier Assorted ChocoPod: I’m always a little confused when Birchbox includes some kind of edible treat, but I did enjoy this sample. This treat is sold in a box of seven. I think it’d be impossible to eat just one at a time.

4. Aerie Shimmer Fragrance: I’m already a big fan of Aerie’s loungewear and underwear, but I’ve never tried any of the brand’s fragrances. I was pleasantly surprised—the fragrance is a subtle blend of floral scents and vanilla. I would definitely pick this perfume up, especially for the low price tag.

5. Lashem Measurable Difference Lash Gel Serum: This lash serum, according to the Birchbox website, was designed to be different from others. It contains all-natural ingredients like green tea, cucumber, goji berry and grape-seed extracts to help fortify lashes and keep them healthy. The product can also be used to help grow brow hairs.

I’ve always been skeptical about lash serums and have been wary about trying them. I’m happy with the length and thickness of my lashes. In addition, I’ve heard things about lash serums—that they can irritate the skin around the eyes or even change your eye’s pigmentation. That’s scary stuff. I didn’t try this sample right away for these reasons, but figured I should try it at least once.

I’m sorry to say that I was right about this product. I did just as the product said—before bed one night, I removed all my makeup and didn’t apply any creams near my eyelid and lashes. I applied a very thin layer of the serum along my top lash line. When I woke up in the morning, my eyelids hurt and my eyes were extremely red and sore. My eyes remained this way the entire next day. I assume to see any benefit from the product that you’d need to continue using it, but after my experience I’m done trying out lash serums. I would strongly recommend talking to your doctor before trying a lash serum.

Have you tried out any products recently that you either had a bad reaction to or just hated? Tell us in the comments!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Amanda's December Birchbox

I hope you all enjoyed your holiday festivities! I'm in full detox mode from all the fun I had over the past few days. 

When I received my December Birchbox I was happy to see bigger samples and another theBalm product. I loved the last product I received from the brand and was very happy to get another sample. What I got this month: 

1. theBalm cosmetics Hot Mama Shadow and Blush All-in-One

According to the Birchbox Breakdown: We’ve never been satisfied with basic blushes. Too often, they look amazing in the compact but leave behind flat streaks of color. Not so with this peachy pink powder, which has a subtle infusion of golden shimmer to give off a 3-D effect. It also works as a shadow and highlighter, letting you achieve pinup-worthy results with just one product. And did we mention that the cute mirror compact will look right at home in your purse?

My Review: I love this blush. I've been using it every day since I received it and am thrilled with the product. The color is perfect -- a light peach color that's perfect for my skin tone. It stays on all day and I never have to reapply. I've once again been impressed by this brand.

2. 12 Benefits Instant Healthy Hair Treatment 

According to the Birchbox Breakdown: The hair experts over at 12 Benefits™ tell us that healthy hair gets its strength and shine from a combination of natural proteins and lipids (who knew?). When you subject your hair to too much chemical processing or heat styling, it tends to lose these precious compounds. Thankfully, this leave-in conditioning mist delivers a host of benefits to dry, parched hair—from boosting the vibrancy of your existing color to preventing future damage.

My Review: I liked this hair treatment but wasn't totally blown away. I was really impressed with the size of the sample. My hair felt smooth and silky after using it. I do like that the product uses natural proteins and lipids instead of tons of chemicals. However, I've used better hair treatments so I will not be purchasing it once my sample runs out. 

3. Emily's Chocolates Chocolate Covered Fortune Cookies 

According to the Birchbox Breakdown: Everyone knows that the best part of Chinese takeout is the fortune cookies, so it’s about time these treats received the royal treatment. Seasonal flavors (think peppermint and gingerbread) as well as classic vanilla get a coating of milk, white, and dark chocolate for a sinfully good update to the original.

My Review: I think this is a cute twist to the original. I unfortunately couldn't try the product out but the packaging was very cute. 6 cookies come in the full size container (which is a cute Chinese food takeout box). This would be a cute gift to give to a neighbor or friend. 

4. Sampar Ultra Hydrating Fluid 

According to the Birchbox Breakdown: Unless you’re still in high school, it’s never too soon to start an anti-aging regimen. Already on top of it? Kudos. If not, well, let’s start with the basics: a fantastic moisturizer that goes beyond hydration. Sampar’s Ultra Hydrating Fluid keeps skin supple with marathon moisture, while also replenishing skin with protective antioxidants and fatty acids. We love the formula’s lightweight, fast-absorbing feel.

My Review: This was another larger sample that I was excited to try. I've been really noticing the fine lines in my skin as I've been getting older. I haven't noticed a big difference in my skin since beginning using it but usually these products take time. 

5. Fresh Citron de Vigne Rollerball 

According to the Birchbox Breakdown: Every time we walk by fresh’s chic Soho outpost a bit south of our offices, we can’t help stepping inside. Beyond the adorable window displays, the subtle scent of bright lemons and irresistible champagne draws us in without fail. Inspired by France’s Champagne vineyards, the bubbly mix comes courtesy of fresh’s own Citron de Vigne fragrance. Thankfully, the experts at fresh wised up and bottled the scent for their happy customers to take home (otherwise, we were considering moving in).

My Review: I really liked the light fresh scent of this product. It wasn't overpowering at all and was just the right amount of scent. It would be a great everyday product to wear if you're looking for a more natural smell. I really was impressed with the size of the sample and am happy I have a lot left to wear.

What do you think of what I got in this Birchbox? We hope you all are enjoying your holidays! 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Holidays: Side Dish Recipe

For Christmas Eve this year, I was supposed to head over to my cousin’s house. Unfortunately, she came down with the flu and plans were canceled. Instead of completely canceling the festivities, I’ve been thrown into hosting duties! 

I’m going to be making a fairly traditional dinner, including ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, mac and cheese, peas and carrots, stuffing, cornbread muffins, pie, and more. If you’re looking for a little last minute inspiration for your holiday dinner, here’s a recipe I’ll be making:

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

What you’ll need:
  • 2 pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 4 peeled garlic cloves
  • 5 tablespoons of milk
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • Butter, to taste (optional)
  • Sour cream, to taste (optional)

How to do it:
  1. In a large saucepan, boil enough water to cover the potatoes, garlic and salt. Totally up to you if you want to leave the skin on the potatoes.
  2. Cook the potatoes, garlic and salt until the potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and drain.
  4. Beat the mashed potatoes and garlic with an electric mixer on low speed.
  5. Add the olive oil.
  6. Slowly beat in the milk.
  7. Optional: add a bit of butter and/or sour cream to make the potatoes creamier. Top with traditional gravy or make the potatoes even more decadent by adding shredded cheese.

If you’re on your own to cook dinner for your family (like I am), don’t try to do everything yourself! Pick a few dishes that you will make from scratch and then decide on the ones that could be bought or are pre-made so they can be popped in the oven. And, it’s pretty standard to ask your family to help contribute by bringing a side or dessert.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Beauty Review: Smashbox High Definition Healthy FX Foundation SPF 15

Adrianne and I had a fun makeup night last week to try out possible looks for my wedding. She had an amazing setup of tons of makeup for me to try -- I was in heaven!

She had told me about the Smashbox HD foundation before but I still had not given it a try. Luckily we're the same shade (the lightest they offer - 0 fair) so I was able to try it out. The verdict? I don't know what I was waiting for. This foundation is fantastic. So fantastic that I went a few days later to get a bottle of my own.

It's an oil-free, weightless, liquid foundation that's packed with anti aging, revitalizing, and firming ingredients. It gives a great finish so that you look great on film and in photos. Perfect for my wedding!

The foundation covers extremely well but doesn't feel caked on like a lot of other full coverage foundations. It feels like my Smashbox BB cream that I'm obsessed with but provides some more coverage for the winter months and special occasions. I'm hooked.
It's a little pricey at $39 a bottle but I can tell it will last a long time. I don't need as much as I typically would with other foundations.

If you haven't tried this foundation out yet I highly recommend it. It's well worth the price!

Do you have any other HD foundations you've tried and love? We'd love to hear about it!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Review: Remington Ionic Protective Hot Rollers

I'm always looking for new ways to add volume to my hair. One way that I love is adding hot rollers to my hair. I own two sets of hot rollers that I'm not crazy about. The rollers are either too big, the clips don't hold or they just don't work.

I recently purchased the Remington Ionic Protective Hot Roller set. The set comes with 20 rollers in three different sizes with clips. The three different size rollers are color-coded with the various clips. Each roller is coated in velvet to help prevent damage to hair. The rollers come with "cool touch" ends that are designed not to burn fingers. 

Overall I am happy with the results. Here's the good stuff:
  • Three different sized rollers
  • Rollers heat up quickly
  • Leaves great looking curls
  • Provides lots of volume for hair
  • Velvet rollers don't damage hair
  • Rollers are lightweight
My favorite thing is how lightweight the rollers are. Because I have thin and fine hair, heavy rollers don't stay in my hair and the weight tends to make them sag--then the curls don't come out nicely. I had no trouble with that.

The rollers also heat up very quickly--within three minutes. The rollers come in three different sizes to accommodate various hair lengths. I love this since I have some shorter layers on the back of my head that won't wind up in larger rollers.

Some might argue that velvet rollers don't get as hot as a curling or flat iron would and therefore don't produce great curls, but it certainly does feel like the velvet protects my hair from the heat. But, the first time I tried the roller set I was amazed at how great the curls looked after removing the rollers. My hair was bouncy and full of volume and stayed that way nearly the entire day. There's nothing worse than clamping down on your hair with a metal curling iron and hearing a little sizzling sound because the iron is too hot! I try to do a lot to protect my hair, and velvet rollers seem like the way to go for me.

And, the not-so-good stuff:
  • The rollers get too hot to handle
  • Clips can fall out of your hair
Remington claims that the rollers have "cool touch" ends, which are supposed to stay at a safe temperature while you roll them in your hair. This just isn't the case. The end of the roller that sits on the base gets extremely hot--so much so that I felt like I burned my fingertips. I would definitely recommend using a pair of heat safe gloves with this set.

Aside from how hot the rollers get, I'm not terribly impressed with the clips that are provided. They are made of plastic, but they don't expand or contract to provide a snug fit around the roller. They don't leave creases in your hair like some clips do, which is good, but they also don't hold securely unless you put a certain amount of hair around the roller. If you don't wind enough hair in the roller, it's going to fall out.

Have you tried the Remington Ionic Protective Hot Roller set? What's your favorite roller set?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Queso Blanco Recipe

So I know we like to promote health on this blog but sometimes an amazing recipe comes along that is too good not to share. I've been making this queso blanco for most parties and events lately and it's always a big hit. Who doesn't like cheese? And don't get me started on tortilla chips, I could eat my body weight in them easily. I just whipped up a batch last night for my company holiday party potluck and I'm planning on bringing another batch to a party this weekend. It's very easy to make and very hard to mess up -- my kind of recipe!
What you'll need:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup chopped white onion
1 large diced jalapeno with the seeds and stem removed
16 ounces white American cheese, shredded or cubed
4 ounces Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
3/4 cup cream or half-and-half
1 (10 oz.) can Rotel
1-2 roma tomatoes, seeds removed and diced
1 small bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
What to do:
Heat the oil in a saute pan. Cook the onion and pepper until softened and reduce heat to medium-low. Add the cheeses and 1/2 cup of the cream. Stir until mostly melted. Add the can of diced tomatoes and green chilies, the diced tomatoes, cilantro, and additional cream a little at a time until you reach desired consistency.
Tips: I had to buy the white American cheese at the deli counter and then cut it up into cubes. I couldn't find it anywhere else! Also, leave some of the jalapeno seeds in and add a little more white onion if you want a kick. I bring it over in a crock pot and let guests enjoy it all evening.

Do you have any recipe favorites you bring to parties? We'd love to hear them! Let us know if you make this and how it turns out.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Review: Skinnygirl™ Plumping Lip Gloss

Did you know that the Skinnygirl™ brand has a whole line of face and body products? Neither did I! That is, until Amanda gave me one of the Skinnygirl™ Plumping Lip Glosses.

The glosses come in five shades: Ruby Red, Pink Sorbet, Peach, Nude Sparkle and Orchid Pink. The gloss promises smoother and fuller lips. It contains soy bean seed extract, intended to moisturize and hydrate lips, and capsicum fruit extract, intended to help plump lips. 

I tested out the pink sorbet color and was very impressed. The color is a lovely shade of pink—it’s not too bright and does a great job of enhancing my natural lip color. The gloss is fairly thick, but doesn’t feel that way on your lips. It’s also not too sticky. Here’s how the color looks on me:

Though I loved the gloss, I didn’t really see any plumping effects. I noticed that any fine lines on my lips were smoothed, though I believe that was due to the moisture in the gloss.

If you’re looking for a nice high-shine gloss, I would definitely recommend purchasing. However, if your goal is to find something that plumps your lips, keep looking. 

In addition to the gloss, the Skinnygirl™ Face and Body line offers other products, including:
  • For lips: lip scrub, tinted and shimmer balms and lip shines
  • For body: firming cream, body wash, lotion, detox mask, body scrub and body shimmer
  • For face: masks, face scrub, line filler and tinted moisturizer
  • For moms: body oil, leg cream, foot oil and body butter

One other bonus about the Skinnygirl™ line is that none of the products are tested on animals. Check out the line here.

After trying the lip gloss, I’m looking forward to getting my hands on some of the other products from this line to test them out. Have you tried the Skinnygirl™ line? What did you think?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Review: Philosophy: Always be Your Best Kit

I've always been a fan of Philosophy products. They are high quality and you get what you pay for. I found this Always Be Your Best kit at TJMaxx and couldn't pass it up. It included the Purity Made Simple cleanser, Eye Hope, Hope in a Jar mosturizer and the Microdelivery Triple-Acid Brightening Peel.

The Purity cleanser is amazing. My face feels so clean and soft and it removes all of my makeup. My skin is on the dry side (especially in the winter) and this cleanser does not dry me out at all. The scent is light and not overpowering. 

I've been noticing more and more under eye wrinkles lately and really wanted a good product to help fix this issue. So far Eye Hope has been a great product. I haven't seen any dramatic results yet, but I can tell my eye area is much more hydrated and I haven't noticed the wrinkles quite as much. I will report back after some continued use.

The Hope in a Jar moisturizer is my favorite product from this collection. It smells great and REALLY hydrates my dry skin without making my face feel greasy. I've seen an overall improvement in the look and feel of my skin since using this product. 

I haven't tried the Microdelivery Triple-Acid Brightening Peels yet due to how dry my skin currently is. I don't want to risk drying it out even more so I'm going to hold off reviewing these until the spring. I will do a full review once I've given them a try though.

Have you tried any of these products? Are there any other skin products you swear by?

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Perfect DIY Co-worker Gift

Each year around this time, my workplace gears up for the holidays. There’s a company holiday party, department parties and co-worker gift exchanging. Typically within my department, each person gives something to everyone. Since it gets pricey to buy gifts for everyone, this year I’ve decided to go the DIY route.

This year my co-workers are getting chocolate cupcakes with peppermint frosting! And of course, I had to add some holiday decorations. I purchased the supplies, including sprinkles, decorations, liners and cupcake boxes (each holds four cupcakes) at Michael’s. I also attached a hand written note to each box. For under $20, I am able to give homemade treats to 11 of my co-workers! 

Here are some pictures from my fun night of baking:

Got any great DIY gift ideas? Share in the comments!