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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Review: Bite Beauty Luminous Créme Lipstick

I’ve wanted to try several Bite Beauty products for a while and finally—with the help of a Sephora coupon—I purchased my first tube of their lipstick.

Bite Beauty is a company based in Toronto and their products are available in Sephora stores. They’ve got a range of lip products, including lipsticks, lip primer, lipstick pencils, lip tints, liquid lacquers, lip plumping oil, lip scrubs and butters and lip glosses. One of the best things about the brand is that the products are made from natural ingredients like antioxidants and organic oils that are good for you. 

It was hard to decide which product to try first, but I opted for a tube of their Luminous Créme Lipstick in the color Salut (described as nude almond). It’s the perfect color for a day look, totally appropriate for work and can be used as complement for evening makeup that’s heavy on the eyes.

This lipstick is incredibly creamy, goes on smoothly and feels really nourishing. It won’t dry out your lips like some lip products tend to do. The product is advertised as long-lasting, but I found this to be a little bit lacking. The lipstick comes off pretty easily while eating or drinking.

The downside is the price—$28 for one tube. Other Bite Beauty products range from $15 – $28 for individual products and more than that for sets. But, from my experience with the brand so far it’s totally worth. I’m really looking forward to trying the wide range of colors and other lip product formulas.

Have you tried Bite Beauty yet? What do you think of the brand?

Monday, April 29, 2013

Amanda's April Birchbox Review

My April Birchbox was pretty good! I got a wide variety of products this month and got to try some brands out that I had been wanting to try. Here's a look at what I got this month along with my reviews:

1. Skin&Co Bagnodoccia Body Gel
According to the Birchbox Breakdown: Our shower had very little in common with sunny Sicily until we tried these delightful body washes. Lightly scented with zesty ingredients sourced from Italy, Skin&Co Roma’s gels work into a rich lather that purifies skin with moisturizing olive oil and plant extracts aplenty.

My Review: I really liked the way this shower gel smelled and felt on my skin. It wasn't overpowering at all and made me feel really clean and my skin was so smooth after using. I would definitely consider purchasing this product! 

According to the Birchbox Breakdown: Think your hair doesn’t grow fast enough? The real problem could be breakage, which is caused by heat styling, overbrushing, and even aging. Give your strands back their youthful luster with this silky serum. It strengthens from the inside out, resulting in healthier, younger looking hair in just one week.

My Review: This hair elixir smelled fantastic. My hair did have a little more body and shine the second time I used it. I'm really happy with the hair repair oil that I'm already using so I most likely won't purchase the full size, but it was nice to try out a different brand. 

According to the Birchbox Breakdown: When it comes to aging gracefully, it’s all about the eyes. This clinically-proven, award-winning concentrate provides a proverbial hat trick of benefits: it reduces the appearance of wrinkles, diminishes dark under-eye circles, and keeps puffiness in check.

My Review: After about 2 straight weeks of use I've started to see some minimal results. It hasn't been anything dramatic, but I have yet to find a eye cream that has amazing instant results. I have started to see some wrinkles around my eyes and I think using a product like this would be great for maintenance and keeping my skin more youthful looking. I'm still searching for my miracle product but will consider purchasing a full sized product to see how it worked with prolonged use. 

According to the Birchbox Breakdown: When it comes to shine, there’s a thin line between a dewy, radiant complexion and looking like you moonlight as an auto-mechanic. To stay onthis side of an oil spill, we rely on Youngblood’s Anti-Shine Mattifier. The balm-like formula keeps oil in check all day long while upping your makeup’s staying power. The translucent hue seamlessly blends in with all skin tones and leaves behind a satiny finish.

My Review: My skin is on the dry side so this mattifier didn't do much for me. It felt and looked like a chapstick consistency so it didn't seem like it would help that much with oil. However, I put it on my t-zone and it didn't make my skin feel oily at all. I never get oily skin so I won't be purchasing this product. 

According to the Birchbox Breakdown: We’ve heard the buzz about natural products, but most lack the lush scents and silky textures we crave. Not so with this Swiss brand’s new collection of nourishing body lotions. Made with all-natural fruit extracts, the lightweight formula is loaded with rejuvenating ingredients that boost elasticity and protect skin against environmental aggressors.

My Review: Not a fan. Sorry, but this lotion was not great at all. I received three small samples of this product in different scents and I didn't like any of them. I didn't think the lotion did a great job of moisturizing my skin and the smell was so overpowering. I would not purchase this! 

Overall I'm happy with the products I was able to try. There are some more brands I can cross of my list of ones to try! 

Did you get a April Birchbox? Have you tried any of the products listed above?

Friday, April 26, 2013

Review: Anastasia Brow Gel

I recently picked up Anastasia Brow Gel from Sephora. It’s a sample size that came with a cute mini pair of tweezers. 

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized how important brows are to my overall look. I’ve spent more time shaping them and usually fill them in or at least use a clear gel to set them each morning. To do so I’ve been using CoverGirl’s clear mascara. It’s something that’s cheap and available at most drugstores. It’s been working for me, but I didn’t know how much better a product could work!

Anastasia Brow Gel is a clear gel that comes in a tube with a mascara-like wand. To use, just brush your brow hairs upward then outward. I have been very happy with the results. The gel goes on very smooth and dries quickly. In addition to that, it won’t leave any noticeable color behind. I’ve noticed with my CoverGirl gel that it sometimes leaves white residue if too much product is applied in one area. The brow gel holds my brows in place and they will NOT move. The product leaves my brows a little stiff, but they look great. The gel is easily removed with face wash or eye makeup remover.

I purchased the trial size of this product for $10. Sephora’s trial-size section is a must for any beauty product lovers who aren’t willing to commit to the prices for full-size versions. The full size Anastasia Brow Gel is available for $29. A little steep, but definitely worth it if you have thicker brows (like mine). Anastasia Brow Gel is also available five different tints if you need some extra filling in.

What products do you use to groom your brows?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Easy Mexican Tostada Recipe

After working 8 hours and commuting a little over 2 hours each day, the last thing I have energy for at the end of the day is cooking an elaborate meal. We try to eat at home Monday-Thursday and I like to incorporate easy and healthy meals into our rotation. These Mexican tostadas are super easy to make and can be customized to your liking. We hope you enjoy them!

What you'll need:
6 corn tortillas
1 can refried beans (I used refried black beans with jalapenos from Trader Joe's)
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup cheddar cheese
Optional toppings: sour cream, green onions, cilantro, lettuce, avocado, tomatoes, hot sauce, etc.

What to do: 
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees 
2. Using a basting brush and olive oil, lightly coat both sides of your tortillas 
3. Place your coated tortillas on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and bake for 10 minutes 
4. Use your can of refried beans to evenly coat your six tortillas 
5. Sprinkle your cheese evenly over the tortillas and bake for an additional 5 minutes 
6. Let cool slightly and top with your favorite toppings. We used fresh tomatoes, sour cream and hot sauce last night. I love adding green onions and cilantro too! 

See - told you it was easy! This meal takes less than 20 minutes to make and cleanup is easy too. My kind of weeknight meal :)

Do you have any easy dinner recipes you love? Share them in the comments! 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Fashion: Tips for Bargain Shopping

I recently discovered the BEST bargain shopping location ever. Sadly, it's all the way in Arizona (for those of you who live there RUN to Last Chance). When Jay and I were visiting my mom and step-dad she took us to her new favorite place to score a major deal. I was in awe of all of the super low prices however, it wasn't easy to find things I wanted to buy. Here's the thing, when you go to a bargain store, you're usually hunting through racks of clothes and shoes and you might walk away with an item or two if you're lucky. You need to have lot of patience and time but trust me, it's well worth it! 

I usually ask myself if there is anything missing from my wardrobe or if there is anything I've been wanting to add to my collection. During this visit, I wanted some new dresses for the summer and my honeymoon so I went to that section first. I found a ton of dresses to try on (including a wedding dress!) and was excited about the possible options I had. 

Make sure to check ALL of the racks. Even the ones that say they are for a specific size. I found most of my favorite items on the wrong rack! If I didn't take the time to look, I would have never found these great items. A lot of shoppers will find something, walk away from the rack it actually belongs on and for one reason or another put it back. However, they usually put it in the wrong place -- so make sure to check all of the racks! 

It's so worth your time and energy to dig. I found four amazing dresses that cost $12.97 each! I would have never been able to buy these full price at the department store and I couldn't be happier with the ones I found. The black dress on the bottom was previously a contender as a bridesmaids dress (in coral). It was around $150 and we decided to go with different ones. I can't believe I found the exact dress in black for so cheap! And even though the wedding dress that I found would have only been $60, it didn't seem worth it to ship, get altered and cleaned to only wear a few hours during my reception. My original dress is beautiful on its own. :) 

See -- told you it was worth it! Some of my other favorite bargain stores for fashion and beauty products are TJ Maxx, Ross, Marshalls and of course outlet stores. 

Do you like bargain shopping? Do you have any other favorite stores or tips to share? Leave them in the comments! 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Dairy Alternatives and Low-Fat Dairy Products - What to Watch Out For

I recently found out some disturbing news about a "natural" ingredient that is added to a lot of low-fat dairy products and dairy alternatives - Carrageenan. According to this article, carrageenan is a seaweed-derived ingredient used to create a better texture in low-fat dairy products and dairy alternatives like soymilk. It is also often found in things like chocolate milk, sour cream, creamers, yogurt, ice cream and juices. Carrageenan helps keep different ingredients in suspension so they don't separate, eliminating the need to shake the product before consuming.

My sister is a nurse and when she heard about carrageenan and how harmful it was she shared the information with me and my mom since she knows we both use some dairy alternative products. She informed us that carrageenan creates inflammation in the body and can lead to a lot of medical issues including inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis and arteriosclerosis. Inflammation also fuels other life-threatening diseases, including cancer.

I don't know about you, but I would rather take the time to shake or stir my product up than to have this harmful ingredient added in. It goes to show that checking labels is super important. If you don't know what something is or if your ingredient list is a mile long, it might be best to find something else to eat or drink. 

I typically use almond milk in my protein shakes, cereal, oatmeal, etc. so I was very worried that the Trader Joe's brand I was using had this ingredient in it. Luckily, this brand is one of the safe ones. Make sure to check your labels! Even if you're consuming a regular dairy product, this ingredient could be still used to prevent separation. Make sure to double check. 

Another major thing to watch out for in low-fat and dairy alternative products is the amount of added sugar. I'm always on the lookout for how much sugar is added into my food and drinks but it's sometimes easy to forget, especially when a food or drink is being advertised as healthy. Make sure to do your research and keep yourself educated on what you're putting into your body. 

Do you use any dairy alternative or low-fat dairy products? Have you checked your labels lately?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Swimsuit Season is Coming!

I don’t know about you guys, but I LOVE summer. When everyone is complaining about the humidity and 95 degree temperatures, I am soaking it in and enjoying every minute. The weather has been just plain ugly this spring. We’ve had two or three nice days, but other than that it’s been chilly, cloudy and rainy. 

I’m currently out of town visiting family and the trip couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve been ready for heat and sun since last fall. I’ve been really looking forward to summer and recently bought a new bikini that I can’t wait to wear. 

My go-to sources for swimsuits have been places like Old Navy or Target—where you don’t have to spend a crazy amount of money. I’ve always liked what I purchased, but wanted to do a little upgrade. This year I decided to invest a little more in a swimsuit and purchased a bikini from Victoria’s Secret. I’ve never purchased a swimsuit from VS, but am really excited about what I got:

There are a few reasons I like and chose this swimsuit:

  • The bottom piece is extremely comfortable! It doesn’t feel revealing like some bikini bottoms do.
  • The top didn’t come in small, medium or large. It was available by bra size so you’re sure to get something that fits you really well.
  • With the top, I’ve got the option for it to be strapless or I can add straps that tie around my neck.
  • Mix and match! This is the first time I’ve chosen a different colored top and bottom. I love the combo. There are tons of other color options on VS and they’ve got several other options for the style of the tops and bottoms. I also tried on pink/black and pink/teal as a combo.
Here’s hoping the rain stays away and I can wear my suit to the beach for the first time! Do you have your swimsuit picked out for this summer?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Spring Cleaning Tips

I am someone who absolutely can’t stand clutter and messes. But even with how cautious I am about how much stuff I bring into my home, it always turns out that once or twice a year I find things that I want to get rid of. This past weekend I did just that—took a few hours to do some spring cleaning. Not only did I collect things to get rid of, I did some deep cleaning to areas of my home that I don’t get to weekly.  

Here’s a quick guide to things to consider cleaning, tossing or donating:

  • Throw out expired cleaning products.
  • Clean your dishwasher. I recently discovered Finish dishwasher cleaner. Open it up, stick it in your dishwasher and run a cycle. You’d be surprised how much gunk builds up and how will this little package can help eliminate it. 
  • Throw out expired hair products, sunscreen, lotions, etc. 
  • Go through your makeup collection and get rid of expired items or those you never use.
  • Deep clean tiles and grout.
  • Take a few minutes to wipe down your washer and dryer, including crevices.
  • Use a vacuum attachment to vacuum around your washer and dryer and in between. You’d be surprised how much dust accumulates.  
  • I have a bunch of linens that I don’t use. This includes placemats, cloth napkins and pillowcases. If possible, I plan to donate them. If not, I might try to find a way to repurpose these items or give them to someone I know before just tossing.
Living room
  • Remove couch cushions and vacuum/clean inside the couch.
  • Clean blinds or window treatments. 
  • Find clothes, purses and shoes to donate—if you haven’t worn or used it in over a year you probably won’t again. It’s incredibly hard to part with these items, but it’s all in the name of de-cluttering!
  • Unfortunately, my garage is being used to house a bunch of my dad’s items. Otherwise I’d make it a point to sweep out the garage and wash the floor. 
  • Dust areas of your house that you may not regularly get to (e.g., tops of pictures or wall hangings, door frames or top of cabinets).
  • Take time to organize your junk drawer. Everyone has one—just organize it. My junk drawer is located in my kitchen and it’s been home to an array of tools, papers, keys, knick-knacks, Tylenol, etc. It now only contains a few tools that will help me around the house.
  • Vacuum places you don’t regularly get to—under couches, beds and furniture. You can even use an attachment to clean walls, ceilings and corners. 
  • I collected a bunch of books I have laying around the house and plan to donate them. If a book has special meaning to you or is something you reference often, don’t get rid of it. I’m planning to keep books I used for grad school or ones that I received as gifts. Everything else can go.
  • I had a bunch of board games in the closet in my guest bedroom. Why? I never play them. I went through to make sure all the pieces were intact and I plan to donate the games.
This list is by no means complete—it’s just a list of things I did last weekend or things I plan to do very soon. What are your spring cleaning rituals?  

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Beauty: Smashbox Photo Finish Hydrating Foundation Primer Review

As much as I claim I'm a beauty junky I have to admit I am a complete fool. I wasn't using a foundation primer until very recently. I can't believe what a dramatic difference it has made in the appearance and condition of my skin. Prior to using primer my makeup would last fairly well but it wasn't outstanding. I also suffer from dry skin and would notice it would start to flake as soon as I applied my foundation -- not a good look.
I had read amazing reviews about the Smashbox Photo Finish Hydrating Foundation Primer but couldn't justify spending that much money on something that went under my makeup. How big of a difference would it even make? When I got a 20% off anything coupon in the mail for Ulta I knew I had to give it a shot. If I hated it, Ulta has an amazing return policy and I could just get my money back. What was the harm?
Well I'm so glad I decided to try it out. Not only has my makeup lasted a LOT longer since I started using it but I've had to use a lot less makeup too! It smooths out my skin, fills in my fine lines and gives my dry skin some extra hydration so it doesn't flake up.
I thought that the blue tint of the primer would show up on my skin but it is completely invisible. I can’t tell you how many compliments I’ve received on my skin since I started using this product.
I’m now convinced that foundation primer is a beauty must! Please do yourself a big favor and grab yourself a bottle to try – you’ll be so happy you did!
Have you tried this foundation primer before? What other beauty products can you not live without?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

What to Wear to a Bridal/Baby Shower

Summer is typically known as wedding season. And that definitely rings true on our end because Amanda is getting married in June! In preparation for the big day, she’s had two bridal showers. I thought it’d be fun to share my thoughts on some cute dresses to wear to any kind of shower. 

Me, Amanda and our lovely friend Nicole
My dress: Draped Jersey Dress, The Limited, $79.90 (50% off)

I saw this dress on a mannequin and had to have it—especially when I saw it was on sale for 50% off. This dress is really comfortable and has a darling keyhole back. And, I think the color is perfect for spring. I paired this dress with blush/nude colored pumps.

Ponte Knit Sheath Dress, Express, $69.90 (30% off)

Okay, I cheated with this dress a little. I found it at 30% off and had a $25 gift card so I got it for super cheap. My favorite thing about this dress is the color. As the temperature rises (or rises and falls, then falls even more like this year!) I love breaking out clothes that are brightly colored. In addition to that, this dress is extremely comfortable. I paired this dress with cobalt blue pumps for some extra color.

Before I purchased these dresses, I tried on others at a few different stores. Here are a couple I considered:

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Strapless Cotton Floral Dress, White House Black Market, $170

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Chic Lilac Sheath, White House Black Market, $160

I really liked both of these dresses, but the price really held me back. I’m usually not into floral prints, but decided to give the cotton dress a try. It fit nicely and the pattern wasn’t overwhelming. The lilac dress fit like a DREAM. It seemed like it was made for my body. But, lilac isn’t usually a color I wear from head-to-toe and decided against it. In any case, these are two great possibilities to wear to a bridal shower. 

Will you be attending any bridal or baby showers this summer? What do you plan to wear? 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Beauty: Save Tons of Money Instantly!

Want to save up to hundreds of dollars a year? I've recently discovered a little trick that may save you a ton of money.
I was running out of my BB cream and thought I might be able to get a day more out of my product even though I couldn't squeeze any more out of the tube. I figured it wouldn't hurt anything if I cut the bottle open to see if a little more could be used. To my amazement there was a TON of product left. We're talking at least 2 weeks worth of product (I don't use a ton on my face so this amount will last me a while).
I was happy but then got a little upset -- I had been throwing out a ton of product in the past without even trying this easy trick to get more out of the packaging. How much would that even add up to? I know companies need to make money, but creating packaging that allows a ton of product to be trapped inside is such a waste.
I cut the very top off of the tube and scraped what I could reach out into a small clean jar I had laying around. After all of that product was out, I cut the bottle again further down so I could get even more out. I still can't believe how much would have been tossed if I didn't open the tube.
Think about it -- there are tons of things I use in liquid form that comes in packaging like that. Shampoo, conditioner, lotion, tons of makeup products, etc. If you did that every single time you could be saving hundreds of dollars a year. It's worth the effort if you ask me!

Have you ever cut open your beauty products to get more out of them? Do you have any other money saving tips to share? We'd love to hear all about it!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Adrianne's Current Workout: Part Four

Over the past week I’ve written about the chest/shoulder, bicep/back and tricep/forearm exercises I currently perform as part of my weight lifting routine. It’s time for part four—legs! Out of all the exercises I do, legs are definitely the most challenging for me. I feel like I’ve been improving my strength, but I have a long way to get to where I want to be.

Quads rotation
  • Squats
  • Leg press
  • Horizontal leg press
  • Squat machine
  • Hack squats
  • Lunges

  • Hamstring curls
  • Hyperextension machine
  • Stiff-legged deadlifts

  • Seated calf raises
  • Squat machine calf raises
  • Horizontal leg press calf extensions

In addition to these exercises, there are a few forms of cardio that I try to do on a regular basis that help work my legs—running, elliptical machine and stair climber. I don’t work out my legs as often as I’d like, but I’m hoping to make this a bigger part of my routine over the next few weeks. 

Share with us—what exercises do you perform to keep your legs in shape? 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Beauty: Arbonne RE9 Advanced 6 Step Anti-Aging Line & Makeup Primer Review

An old friend of mine who is an Arbonne Independent Consultant recently reached out to me to see if I would be interested in trying out some product samples to review on the blog. Heck yes! She sent me some sample of the RE9 Advanced 6 step anti-aging line as well as the Makeup Primer. I was not compensated for my review and all opinions of the products are my own.

A little about the company taken directly for
At Arbonne, beauty begins with premium botanical ingredients, innovative scientific discovery, and an unwavering commitment to pure, safe and beneficial products. Arbonne creates personal care and wellness products that preserve and enhance the skin, body and mind for an integrative approach to beauty. Working closely with scientists around the world and our Arbonne Institute of Research and Development (AIRD®) facility in Switzerland, we continually explore and develop scientifically advanced, botanically based proprietary formulas that meet our exacting standards for quality, safety and sustainability.

The products are great for all skin types because they work to balance your PH. Due to how concentrated Arbonne products are you only need to use a very small amount (about the size of a tic tac). This means that the products will last about 4-6 months if you're using them twice a day. So, if you're experiencing some sticker shock by looking at the prices for some of their products, think again -- you're actually spending less than most high-end brands due to how long they will last you!

Another major bonus about the Arbonne line is that the products are formulated in Switzerland where there are very strict laws about what can go into products. They ban about 1100 different ingredients compared to the 11 in the US. The products are vegan certified and are not tested on animals.

The verdict? I LOVED THIS STUFF. After only a day of using the RE9 Advanced line I could really see the difference in my skin and my fine lines under my eyes and on my forehead were already reduced. I couldn't believe it worked that quickly for me! The samples lasted me a lot longer than I expected (about 2 1/2 weeks) due to how concentrated the formula is. I was worried that the 6 steps would get annoying, but honestly because of the great results I was getting, I didn't even notice. What's a few extra minutes to have great skin? I have combination skin (mostly dry though) so it's really hard to find products that work well for me. I was skeptical that these would be the same way but was thrilled to see how well they worked on my skin.

I am currently using the Smashbox Photo Finish Hydrating Foundation Primer (review to come soon!) so the Arbonne makeup primer didn't totally knock my socks off like the RE9 Advanced line did, but it still worked great! It made my makeup smooth and it was so much easier to blend it into my skin. It made my makeup last super long too - which is always a good thing after a long day of work ;)

I highly recommend trying Arbonne products out for yourself. Everyone's skin is different but with the vast amount of product lines the company offers, I'm sure you'll find one that will work for you! Contact Kelly via her Facebook page: to try samples of Arbonne products and to get more information.

Have you tried the Arbonne line yet? Check it out for yourself and let us know what you think!