Monday, December 29, 2014

BEAUTY: December Favorites

How is it Christmas is already over??

We had a nice quiet Christmas as the hubs and I both had to go back to work the following day.

I wandered into Sephora awhile back, not really looking for anything in particular so the sales guy asked what product I don't have a lot of.

I thought about it for a second and realized something. 

I don't have a full-sized lip gloss.

Seriously. I hoard eyeshadow but every single lip product I had was a sample.

He tried out Smashbox's lip lacquer in Flamingo which I initially thought was way to much- I gravitate toward nude lips and bold eyes so the hot pink scared me off initially. He told me to look in the mirror a couple minutes later and when I did it was like a whole product! It was still hot pink but the brightness factor cooled down a lot. I've actually started going a little quieter on the eyes so I can wear this color. And hey, that's less time in front of the mirror in the morning! 

I had a sample of Buxom's lip polish and fell in love the first time I used it. The colors are fabulous and it provided a 
cooling/plumping effect. I could stockpile these babies! Sophia looks great on my olive toned skin.

I heard about First Aid Beauty from Kate over at the Small Things Blog and discovered their face cleanser. I use it every night in the shower with a konjac sponge. Even though I take my makeup off beforehand, you I can still see makeup on the sponge that's how deep this cleanser gets, but it's still gentle enough for everyday use. 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

FOOD: "Inside the Test Kitchen" Review

The first meal I ever "made" the hubs was a frozen burrito. I stuck it in the oven at the same time I turned it on and "cooked" it for the recommended amount of time. Of course during most of that time the oven was still preheating so when he cut into the was still frozen.

I've gotten much better at cooking since then (I now refuse to even buy frozen burritos - I make my own!) but I'm still very much a student. I can follow recipes with the best of them but when it comes to the why behind the directions, there's a lot I don't know. 

Which is why I was so excited to pick up a copy of Tyler Florence's "Inside the Test Kitchen" at the library. It does a great job at explaining the science of what happens in the kitchen so you're not only able to ace the enclosed recipes, but apply the same principles to recipes of your own.

Some of the provided recipes do require tools I don't even have but the majority are ones most home chefs can easily do. The directions are really easy to understand and some of the tips will blow your mind. I almost felt like whipping out a pen and pad of paper to take notes!

Bottom line: I'm probably going to end up buying this book, it's that good.

Monday, December 22, 2014

HOME: Decorating the Living Room for Christmas

Mine (similar), Tino's, Jason's

I have a confession to make. I'm starting to OD on Christmas songs.  Don't get me wrong, I still jam out to Nsync and Mariah with the rest of them. 


I started listening to my Christmas playlist the day after Thanksgiving while decorating the house-our first Christmas as homeowners! 

I may have gone  little bit crazy. But it's allowed right?

I have decided I'm going to start collecting nutcrackers. Wait until you see the one I put in the loft. 

The last two years I have made a garland for all the Christmas cards we receive. Just punch a hole in the corner of a card and string it on a ribbon, knotting it around the hole so the cards don't slide back and forth. 

And I just love poinsettias. Although apparently they don't survive very well outside in the middle of winter. Trust me on this one.

Our tree looked pretty sad there for a little while. It doesn't look anywhere near as lonely now! Though I do still have my eyes open for a nice tree topper. I want something more modern looking than an angel or a star...but I'm not quite sure what that leaves. But I'm willing to wait until I find something I love.

BEAUTY: December Maven Box

I love the holidays. I mean who doesn’t? 

Anything peppermint mocha, red velvet, and sparkly.


The hubs does an oh-so-flattering imitation of me, “Ooh shiny!” (Think the dog from the movie Up! with “squirrel!”). But it’s true. Everything this time of year is shiny-Christmas lights, wrapping paper, candy. 

And nail polish. Gold? Check. Silver? Check. Shimmery red? Check.

Needless to say, I was super excited when Julep released their December “The Countdown” collection. I chose the “Bombshell” box which included colors Paula (Persian blue with gold microshimmer) and Soleil (lustrous rose gold chrome) as well as the new Orbital Eye shadow, which I chose in Airglow (champagne with rose gold pearlescence). 

I added on the nail decals, Nell (blushing holographic full-coverage glitter-looks great combined with Soleil!), and Silk Effect top coat.

I LOVE the nail colors this month. I have used ALL of them at least once. While I don’t normally think blue for the holidays, the touch of microshimmer really makes it look festive.

And we all know about my rose gold obsession. Looove Soleil and Nell, especially worn together.

Now let’s talk about the eye shadow. I was hesitant at first because I am well-stocked in the eye shadow department. However due to it fitting in the rose gold family, I was willing to give it a shot.

I love Julep. I hate this eye shadow.

It is SHIMMERY. Not even Shimmery with capital S-in full caps. I’m only 25 but I feel waaay too old to wear this eye shadow-it looks like I’m going out to the club! And while the glitter is prominent, I feel like the color payoff is not-at least on my olive skin tone, it looks just like an overly-glittered version of my skin. I like shimmery eye shadow, but this one is just not for me.  It went in the trash.

The silk top coat I do like-while I feel like it doesn’t have the lasting power of their Freedom Polymer Top Coat or Oxygen Top Coat; it gives your nail color a cool effect.

Overall-LOVE the nail polish, HATE the eye shadow.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

FOOD: Mexican Pozole

I'm currently obsessed with the TV show Cristela. Other than the fact it is the FIRST prime time TV show featuring a Latino family, I love it because it's FUNNY. 

It's also completely relatable. Making tamales all night around the kitchen table? Yes. Worshipping Selena? Yes.

Anyway it has me completely reverting to my definition of comfort food. Chicken noodle soup? Nah, I want pozole. 

The flavors of this soup are incredible. Tomato, chili powder, lime juice. It was easy and quick enough to make after work and it's perfect for dreary Washington winters. I made it with these muffins and the hubs immediately requested I make both again ASAP. 

Mexican Pozole 

  • Canola oil 
  • 1 lb. pork loin, cubed
  • 1c. chopped onion 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 c. chicken broth 
  • 14.5 oz. enchilada sauce (I love this)
  • 1 4.5 oz. can chopped green chiles 
  • 1 TBSP chili powder 
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp oregano 
  • 1/2 tsp paprika 
  • 1 15.5 oz. can hominy
  • Juice of a fresh lime, to taste
  • Cilantro, for garnish 

Heat oil in large pot on medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and cubed pork and cook until onion is clear. Stir in broth, enchilada sauce, chiles, and spices.  Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 40 minutes. Add hominy. Cover and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in lime juice and top with cilantro. 

Adapted from The Spice Kit Recipes

Sunday, December 7, 2014

BEAUTY: GlossyBox Review

Normally I subscribe to the age-old adage, "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."

That being said, this is a consumer review blog.

I was SO excited to learn about GlossyBox. Similar to Birchbox which I have subscribed to in the past, it is slightly more expensive but the products tend to be higher end and they even throw in a full sized product now and then. 

If only I had encountered other reviews before I plunked down $60 for a three month subscription. 

This post was written directly with you guys in mind in the hope of preventing you from wasting your hard earned money. 

I ordered and paid for my subscription on November 13. I received an automatic email shortly afterwards verifying my purchase. 

That is the last I have heard. It has been close to a month. 

So what is a beauty product hoarder to do? I reached out to customer service on their Facebook page as well as sent multiple emails to their customer service department (phone lines were closed.)

A few hours later I received a comment on my Facebook post requesting I send them a private message via Facebook with my order information so they can investigate. 

Ok, great. Maybe with it being the holiday season this was a fluke so I proceeded as requested. 

Three days later and I have yet to receive a response. To recap, it has been a month, they have $60 of mine, I have nothing to show for it despite my best efforts. It's clear they only commented on my Facebook post to make it look like they were rectifying the situation to the public. (I have since come across TONS of other negative reviews revolving around the same issue on their Facebook page.)

I have cancelled my subscription and am in the process of filing a dispute with my credit card company to try to get my money back. 

FINAL VERDICT: Don't waste your money, this is a scam. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014


A compilation of my #NOTDs (nail of the day) on instagram so far. I usually only post pics if I've done some sort of nail art.

Jamberry, no longer available 

Julep Vicki with Jamberry accent, no longer available 

Julep Anisa and Diamond Theory. Free handed chevron design using the Plie Wand (my first time!)

Julep Brielle 

Added white chevron decals

Julep Shari with chevron accent in Bonnie

Can you tell I like chevron? ;) 

LIFE: Surviving the First Year of Marriage

I never really understood it when someone who's been married for a long time remarks that they love their spouse even more now than they did on their wedding day.

But now the hubs and I have been married for over a year and I completely get it. I'm going to be real with you guys-marriage is work.

We were engaged for almost two years- we paid for the majority of our wedding ourselves and dammit, I wanted a nice one! We also seem to be in the habit of accomplishing multiple milestones at once- we got engaged the day before the hubs moved to Florida to start a new job. We got married two weeks after moving to Washington for work and bought a house just a couple of months later.

Realistically I knew life wasn't going to just be a fairytale after saying "I do", but I don't think either of us anticipated how stressful the first year of marriage would be. He was adjusting to new responsibilities at work and I was (and still am) in a job I don't love.

Looking back, I think how useful it would have been if someone had told me the following. 

1. Marriage changes nothing 
The hubs and I had lived together for over a year before getting married. I do not regret this in the slightest- we had time to adjust to living with another person and what responsibilities that entailed. We had a budget worked out. There were zero surprises when we came back from our honeymoon. The downside? I feel like we didn't have that spark and romance of newlyweds.  The issues we had before walking down the aisle were still present. 

My suggestion? Figure out what works for you, whether that's waiting to move in together or not. But don't expect a happily ever after just because you said "I do".

2.Have the money talk before the wedding 
The year and a half we were engaged we lived extremely poor. It's not that we didn't have money- we both had steady, full-time, decently paying jobs. Unfortunately about two weeks after we got engaged,  my dad lost his job. We very quickly went from my parents paying for our wedding to being on the hook for the majority of costs ourselves. Because of this, I took a job that was absolutely miserable but well paying and deposited half of each paycheck into savings for the wedding. While this accomplished our goal of not charging anything for the wedding  (we even had some leftover!), we didn't talk about what would happen afterwards. 

I'm still in the same job. We moved across the country for work where the cost of living is practically double. We bought a house. While the new location and house make me extremely happy, I'm still trying to accomplish my goal of going back to school for my Master's and getting out of this job I have zero passion for.

So talk about your goals and dreams. Do you want to go back to school? When do you want to buy a house? Do you want to stay in one place for the rest of your life? Make a time line of when you want milestones to happen. Should anything change, call a timeout and talk it over.

3. Don't base your relationship off of others'
The majority of my group of friends all got married in the same year. All of them (except us) now have babies. It is so hard to not be jealous of them. I have to keep in mind that financially (and biologically) now simply isn't the right time for us. 

Do whatever is right for your marriage. Just because everyone else is doing one thing doesn't mean that is what is right for you.

4. Be a team
Even now that we're married there are times I feel alone. Whether it's due to work schedules or simply something that's on my mind that isn't even on his radar, it still happens. And that's my fault. COMMUNICATE. He doesn't gain mind reading powers once he becomes your husband. 

The same goes for communicating with others. In-laws take advantage of your Mr. Nice Guy husband? Tell him. I remember one time the hubs' family asked him for a favor and he said he would ask me and get back to them. I was PISSED. Even though I was dead set against him doing this favor, guess what it would look like if he turned around and told them no after talking to me.

So find ways to communicate with each other as well as others that strengthen your bond as a team rather than acting like two opposing players.

5. Go on dates 
Sometimes we are a stereotypical married couple. PJ's on as soon as we get home from work, watching TV on the couch all night. And we love it.

But you still need to take time and look good for each other and GO OUT. Even if it's just to your local coffee shop to talk or to the theater to see the latest Hunger Games movie. It makes the other person feel appreciated as a partner and it's just fun!

So those are my top five tips for surviving the first year of marriage. Please don't think it sounds bleak and ominous - I absolutely love my husband and we've had an incredible year. We live in a place we LOVE (regardless of cost of living), have an amazing house I love working on projects for, and have an amazing puppy who is our fur baby. We've been to San Diego and Mexico and love exploring nearby Seattle. But marriage, like anything, takes work to be successful. I'm so blessed to have a husband who is willing to put in the work with me.

Monday, November 24, 2014

LIFE: Family Pictures

This is the hubs' and my third year sending out Christmas cards together. Since it's our first Christmas with Tino we decided to take some pictures with the pup!

We enlisted the help of our neighbor Amber at Farfalle Photography and she did an incredible job!

Tino was such the willing model!

We had fun doing some throwback wedding poses! We had our first anniversary the week before we took pictures. 

Scenery wise, we did pictures at Castle Park in Lakewood which had all kinds of beautiful spots.

I am seriously obsessed with this picture^. 

So happy we had a gorgeous day to work with and avoided the rain!


Just for fun, here's a look at Christmas cards past and a sneak peak of this year's.

Can't get enough Shutterfly!

BEAUTY: November Favorites

Guys, it's almost Thanksgiving. When the heck did that happen??

The hubs and I are hosting our first ever "Friendsgiving". Neither of our families are able to make the trip out west so we're having two other couples over who are nomads like we are! I am super excited but also a touch nervous because it is our first time hosting a grown up dinner party!

This month has been a bit crazy due to mandatory overtime at work (me) and joining the National Guard (hubs). As a result I felt I deserved a bit of a treat and bought this bad boy.

Isn't it pretty? I am a little embarrassed that's it's my third Hamilton but hey, when you find something you love, stick with it! (Right honey?)

I also decided to branch out a little and invested in a new curling iron; I had been using a $30 Conair from Target...Which did the job but at end of the day, my curls looked less beachy and more afro-like. I LOVE Amika's Switch Kit Starter Set. The barrel is removable and multiple other options are available, from Glam Goddess to Beach Bombshell. I haven't bought any of the other barrels yet because the one included is exactly what I need. My curls look great all day with minimum fuss in the morning! 

Ever since I started using primers I have been on the hunt for a good under eye one; I feel like most eye primers are meant for eyeshadow rather than concealer. I received this one from Smashbox as a sample and fell in love at the end of the day when I looked in the mirror and saw how NOT creased my under eye concealer was. The formula is moisturizing and the pinkish tint also helps correct under eye shadows. 

I had been using Sonia Kashuk brushes for my eye makeup...and they do the trick. Really if you don't want to spend too much money on eye brushes, they are great. But ever since I bought Too Faced's Kabuki brush, they just felt rough on my skin. But have you seen the prices of some of the makeup brushes at Sephora? There are some for over $50! While I'm more willing to splurge on a brush that I use on my whole face, I'm less likely to do so for brushes just for my eyes. I snagged this and this handy set at Target and am super impressed! They feel just as soft as the Too Faced brushes for a fraction of the price. Are they of the same quality? Probably not but they do the job and feel softer on my skin than the Sonia Kashuk ones.

What are you guys up to for Thanksgiving? 

Friday, November 21, 2014

BEAUTY: Top Must-have Winter Beauty Products

When we lived in Central Illinois,  I had good skin but my allergies were slowly murdering me. When we lived in Florida, my skin was an oily mess and my allergies were slowly murdering me. Now that we live in Washington, my allergies are doing great but my skin is a dried out mess.

I know,  I know. The stereotype of Washington is that it is constantly raining. And while that may be true (at least this time of the year), the air here is DRY.

After we had been here a few weeks,  my skin started getting ashy (and then oily to compensate), my scalp started flaking, and my hair started getting brittle. And oh yeah, we were newlyweds. Cute huh?

Now that we've been here a year, I've compiled a list of my favorite products that help me combat the dry winter air here in the mountains. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

BEAUTY: Top Holiday Gift Sets

I am a sucker for gift sets of any variety. Three types of popcorn in one tin? Yes. Cosmetics are no different. You know how both Ulta and Sephora have shelves full of gift sets as soon as you walk in the store? Yeah that's specifically targeted to snag people like me.

And it works. I think part of me thinks I am getting such a great deal with sets like these-who knows if that's actually true or not. But these sets really are great ways to experiment with brands and products you haven't tried before.  I'd like to be able to say that I grab them to give away as gifts...that's not the case.

The first set I picked up this season was Josie Maran Winter Dreams Argan Color Collection. I couldn't tell you why this one caught my eye since I had never tried any of their products before but it did and I am so glad! Once the travel sized version of the mascara runs out I will be buying it! The rose gold eyeshadow was featured on a previous post and is such a pretty color. I have been using the oil on my cuticles every night and have been noticing results. The illuminizor was a nice surprise with just the right amount of shimmer.  The blush is the only thing I'm not crazy about but I think that's simply because I'm not a fan of cream blush.

Tarte has become this month’s beauty line obsession. Their Special Edition 5-piece Artistry Brush Set has gotten rave reviews and my fingers are crossed I unwrap it Christmas morning.

I snagged the  Bon Voyage Collector Set during the 20% off sale Sephora had for VIB/Rouge members. It FINALLY arrived yesterday and so far I love it! The eyeshadows are true to color with minimum fallout and there are so MANY. I'm also a fan of the lip gloss and cheek stain (available in this set only) which I used as a highlighter. And really, how cute is the case?

I still love Too Faced and their La Belle Carousel is just so festive. As much as I love their line, I would buy this just for the packaging alone.

I feel like I never actually set out to buy lip products- everything I use generally comes in a set. If the color doesn't work for me, I toss it out.  That being said, Sephora's Give Me Some Lip looks like it comes with shades that would work on just about every skin tone and I would love to play around with brands whose lip products I haven't come across before.

I found the Butter London Steampunk Ball Set when I was checking out the new Ulta here. The colors are great for the season and after Julep, they are my second favorite nail brand.

What sets are you guys fans of?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Thank you.

I've been fortunate to have two extraordinary men in my life.

My grandfather passed away several years ago.  He was buried with full military honors after a lifetime of service with the Army. I still remember visiting the local army base with him as a child. 

My husband spent six years in the Marines. 

After several years as a civilian, he will be enlisting in the National Guard to continue his service to our country. 

To all who have served, thank you. You are my heroes.

Happy Birthday USMC!

On today's date in 1775, the United States Marine Corps was founded in Philly. They've been rocking their dress blues ever since! 

In honor of their 239th birthday, here are a few of my favorite USMC memes, some funny, some "aww" worthy, and some tear worthy. Enjoy.