Monday, December 15, 2014

My Favorite Books of 2014

So I thought today's post would be something a little different. 2014 is the year I rediscovered my love of reading, and I am kicking myself for not having picked up a book in years. As a result, my Goodreads to-read list is dangerously approaching 80. (!!!).

I didn't even come close to achieving my goal of reading 35 books in the year, but at least it's an improvement from 0-1 books from 2010-2013!! So far in 2014, I've read exactly 20 books, which I have to say, makes me quite proud.

When I absolutely love a book, I literally can't put it down, and when I finish it, I can't stop thinking about it for days afterwards. I want to stress as much as possible that this is an OPINION post (key word there!), so you have every right to fully agree or disagree with me on this. In fact, this would make the discussion even more interesting! So here is my list:

The Ones I Absolutely Loved:
1. Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty: This book begins by telling you that a parent has died at a school function, but they keep you guessing the whole time who it is. I couldn't put it down because I just couldn't go to sleep until I found out what had happened. This is by far the most un-put-downable" book I read in 2014. Her books remind me a little of Jodi Picoult, my favorite author a few years ago, but I definitely enjoy Moriarty's style a whole lot more.

2. Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell: The paradox with this book is that it moved me so much, that it completely paralyzed me on the couch for a while when I finished it. The emotions felt incredibly real to me, so it impacted me deeply, and I know I sound so melodramatic here but it's totally true.

3. If I Stay, by Gayle Forman: This book is the very definition of heartbreak. I don't know what else to say about it.

4. Where She Went, by Gayle Forman: Again, I don't know what it is about heartbreaking books that attracts me so much, but this sequel of "If I Stay" is equally as emotional and gut-wrenching as the first, and left me thinking about it for days afterwards.

5. Bossypants, by Tina Fey: Because everything Tina Fey does is brilliant, and her book is no exception. Very enjoyable and funny throughout, one of the best light reads of the year for me. I needed it after the Gayle Forman books.

6. The Husband's Secret, by Liane Moriarty: Although I liked "Big Little Lies" better, I was still glued to the pages of this book, unable to look away and completely shocked by how a single action that occurred years ago can come back and change so many lives forever.

7. Yes Please, by Amy Poehler: I talked about this book in my November Lifestyle Favorites post. It was a great book that shows how wonderfully sincere and honest Amy Poehler is. She writes like she lives: freely, without apologizing and owning up to her mistakes. I loved every page, reading it mostly in the morning, which made the start of my day so much better.
8. The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green: another beautifully written, heartbreaking story that I couldn't pull away from. It was one of the first books I read this year and it made me want to keep devouring lots more.

The "Just-meh" books:
1. Dear Daughter, by Elizabeth Little: This is supposed to be a sort of crime thriller, Gone Girl-style book. While it did keep me very interested in the storyline, and I really developed a liking for the protagonist, it wasn't a book that I just couldn't wait to finish, and soon after I did, I never thought about it again.

2. The Signature of All Things, by Elizabeth Gilbert: First I have to admit that I dived right into this book as soon as I saw who wrote it (the author of "Eat, Pray, Love") without even bothering to find out anything about it. Then I read it and realized it was a historical fiction novel, which isn't one of my favorite genres, and that, together with the fact that my expectations were so high because of the author, made it a little disappointing for me. Regardless, it's a beautifully written book, extremely well researched, so for those of you who love historical fiction, you'll probably actually really love this one.

3. Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter: the storyline was cute and I did enjoy it, but my thought after finishing it was that the characters lacked some depth, and it is just kind of a forgettable story.

4. Just One Day, by Gayle Forman: again, I think my lack of love for this book is more due to my having read Forman's "If I Stay" previously. And also after finishing it, I just couldn't help but think that this book was very "been there, done that", so it was nothing new that blew me away.

5. We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart: Everyone had raved so much about this book and its "twist", that I thought it would be something much more shocking and nerve-wracking. Instead it was just a bit "meh", and I really really hated the protagonist. I simply cannot stand books that center on the theme of "I'm so beautiful and rich, but I swear to you my life is so very, very hard!". Ugh!!! And to top it off, the book centered mostly on this message than on the actual plot of the story!

And the one I just couldn't stand:
1. The Beginning of Everything, by Robyn Schneider: I listened to the audio version of the book, and I don't know if it was the way it was read, but I hated pretty much all the characters from the very beginning. A prom king kind of popular boy suddenly realizes he wants to change his life and hang out with more "real" people? please! I don't buy it for a second. Plus this book was way too long for the plot: something that could have been written in 100 pages, took over 300, which just made it unbearable. I couldn't wait to finish it, and not in the good way!

If you have made it this far, kudos to you! What were your favorite books this year? Did I perhaps convince you to read any of these?
Love you bunches!

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

November Lifestyle Favorites

Yesterday I shared my beauty favorites, and today I am sharing all the other stuff that I loved during the month of November. Let's get cracking, shall we?

Bath & Body Works Harvest Gathering 3-Wick Candle
I am and forever will be faithful to BBW candles. Just ask my husband, who is more than happy to tell everyone that I have an obsession bordering on worrisome. I got a bunch of their winter candles in November, but this one happened to be my favorite. It feels homey and cozy, and fills the whole room. And those leaves hanging from the lid add such a cute little touch to it, too.

Bath & Body Works Winter Candy Apple Mason Jar Candle
I keep this one in our bathroom, and unlike the candle above, this one is a lot sweeter and fruitier. I love the little mason jar it comes in and it is more than enough to fill our bathroom.

Rosebud String Lights from Urban Outfitters
These rose bud fairy lights caught my eye instantly in the store. They are cute and delicate, and I think they will add personality to any room.

Whatever You Are Be A Good One Book
This book is simply stunning. I bought it more for the illustrations than for the quotes, but the quotes are also very thought-provoking and beautiful. I read a few pages every few days and always left feeling motivated and happier. It is most definitely one of the most beautiful books I own.

Yes Please, by Amy Poehler
When I started to read it, I thought it would be a lot like Tina Fey's "Bossypants". However, Amy, despite having a very similar sense of comedy to Tina's (and having worked alongside her for many years), manages to steer her book in a very different direction. I absolutely love how she writes exactly what she wants to write, is not afraid to sound controversial or dive into touchy subjects, and even gives you unsolicited (awesome!) advice shamelessly. You just have to love her for it. If I was a fan of hers before, I am now crushing big time (not creepy at all!) and want her to be my bestie stat (17 year age gap and all!).

Swiss Miss Milk Chocolate Hot Cocoa
Yummy yummy yum yum. What else can I say? This has been the winning hot drink of the month by far.

Urban Outfitters Hat
When I got this, my husband had to laugh and said I looked like a nana. I in turn informed him that he has no sense of fashion (pretentious? me?), and I rocked the hat all month long. I specially love how it looks with a cute dress, heels, and sunnies, but for the colder months, a cool pair of jeans, booties and a printed tee complete the look perfectly as well.

"Do Your Best" Mug from Anthropologie
I mean, come on! This is the cutest little teacup, polka-dotted inside and with a cute typographic design on the outside, very me.

Brandy Melville Ring
This is a very cute, delicate ring that I have been wearing a ton this month. I got it on my trip to NYC and I love the touch of flirtiness of the little flower.

Black Express Heels
If I am being completely honest, this aren't the most comfortable shoes to walk in, as your foot is positioned at a very strange (read, steep) angle. If I am being even more honest, I couldn't care less, because they are seriously S T U N N I N G. And yes, sexy, I'm not gonna lie. In my book that equals worth it, worth it, worth it!!! That sound you just heard was half the population of the world gasping (how dare I be so vain!?) but I can't deny that I love the feeling a beautiful pair of heels gives me: I love how they look with jeans, as well as a dress, and they make any outfit look so much more sophisticated and finished.

Please do share what you loved this month in the comments below!
Love you bunches!

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

November Beauty Favorites

November was a wonderful, wonderful month beauty-wise for me. I know that sounds cocky, but I was just very lucky to have tried some incredible products this month, and I can't wait to tell you about them.

- OMG this!!!!  It's the girliest, most "bubblegumm-y" scent I have ever seen in a shower gel, but man it smells good!  This is part of LUSH's Christmas line, and it is a favorite every single year. This is my first time trying it and I am hooked. If you like more earthy, herbal or "serious" scents though, stay clear of this one.

Yet another LUSH shower gel from the Christmas line! I am not really crazy over their regular shower gels, but these two I am all over. Too bad they are limited edition! Rose Jam smells exactly like their super famous Ro's Argan Body Conditioner, which I have been obsessed with for years and just can't live without. Pairing the two of them in the shower is nothing short of orgasmic, I tell ya. And yes, I do get a tad over-excited about shower gels, so let's move on.

This is my very first Formula X nail polish, and I am so pleasantly surprised. For some reason I just never thought of trying them, but I can say that I'm a convert now. I got this deep red (almost burgundy) color, which I think is perfect for the season (or really, any time of the year). It is office appropriate and so has enough edge for a night out. Also,the formulation of these polishes is wonderful: creamy and moisturizing, but with serious lasting power, which is the winning combo when it comes to nails.

Wow, that's twice that the O word comes up in this post... But this time is all on NARS and their marketing department (a blush called deep throat, really!!??). Regardless of this blush's erm, unusual name, it is one of the most coveted blushes in the beauty world. I had never tried it until this month, and I love the dewy finish it leaves on my skin and it's very flattering peach hue. I can see why everyone is obsessed with it and can't believe it took me this long to try it out.

Bath and Body Works Fresh Sparkling Snow Hand Cream
This hand cream is so thick and moisturizing that it makes it perfect for the drier months. It has shea butter and vitamin E, which lock in the moisture, and a wonderful citrusy scent that reminds you of a park in the early hours of the morning. (That's the best way I can think to describe it...!).

I had been eyeing this pretty much since it came out last year and was an instant hit. This month I finally got my little hands on it and I've been wearing it nonstop since. The colors are gorgeous, the pigmentation is amazing and it literally lasts all day on me. It is definitely on the expensive side of things at $59, but I get so much use out of it that it makes it so worth it.

See By Chloe Perfume
I had heard many great reviews about this perfume, and I'm glad I caved in and bought it. It is very feminine, kind of a mix between floral and fruity, which I think makes it unique and delicious. And I mean, look at that stunning bottle! So classy!

I got this scent in the rollerball because I wanted to try it out before purchasing the bigger sizes, and now I'm convinced that I need it in my life. This is one sexy little perfume, not too girly, not too fruity, and I think it's perfect for day- or nighttime.

Yet another product that has been a cult for years and I'm only trying now. It is a very black black (??), and very precise too, perfect for those of us who are just a tad clumsy. I usually go for liquid or gel eyeliner when I'm going to draw a wing and leave the pencils for my tightline, but this one is so smooth you can achieve a flawless cat eye with it too. 

Like I mentioned in my post yesterday, looking after your cuticles is essential, since they are the ones that make or break your manicure. I had been looking for a good oil to give them a little more TLC, so this month I purchased this one by O.P.I., which made all the difference in my nails, and they are very thankful for it.

LUSH Snow Fairy Sparkle Massage Bar

Fair warning: this one is messy, messy, messy. This little bar kind of melts in your hands as you apply it, leaving a pinky tint all over them. As soon as I apply I go wash my hands and it comes right off, so no biggie there. It smells exactly like the Snow Fairy shower gel, so of course I had to get it. It is so very moisturizing, and I kid you not, it smelled as strongly at 6pm when I left work as it did at 8am when I applied it. Divine!

This is my go to when I am feeling sleepy and lazy in the mornings. The uplifting Apple fragrance leaves me feeling awake and so nice and clean. It provides a mild exfoliation and great lather, and leaves my skin smooth, soft and subtly scented. This is a limited edition product, part of their Holiday line.

The cranberry would have to be my favorite of the Body Shop holiday scent trio. It is probably one of their sweeter scents (as opposed to their fruity or nutty ones), and the scent lingers for hours. And of course, there is no competing with the Body Shop Body Butters, they are one of the most moisturizing, nourishing ones in the market and I always make sure I have a good stock around.

And again we have another Holiday product from The Body Shop. If you aren't such a fan of smelling like a sweet berry all day, then you might love this one instead. The vanilla is still sweet, but more subtly so, and equally as moisturizing as their other body butters.

If you enjoyed this post, stop by tomorrow to check out my non-beauty (let's call them "lifestyle") favorites, I'm so excited about those!!
What beauty goodies have you been loving this month?

Love you bunches!

Monday, December 1, 2014

How to Winterize Your Nails: A Post by JULEP

Unless you have been living under a rock, you've heard of Julep. This brand first started as a nail parlor in 2007, and has now expanded into a company that releases over 300 new products per year (!!!). Aside from their top-quality polishes (which you can find in a ton of places including Sephora and Nordstrom!), one of the most amazing things about this company is their Powered by Girlfriends program. Through it, they donate a portion of their proceeds to organizations that support and empower women. How awesome is that!? And let's not forget about Julep Maven, which are fully customizable subscription boxes delivered right to your door every month!!

This awesome company contacted me shortly asking if I was interested in sharing with my readers their tips on how to keep your nails in top condition for the winter season. These cold months demand a lot more TLC for our nails, as the dry air might cause them to peel and become brittle, and it's also a breeding ground for the dreaded hangnails!
No worries though, just follow these simple steps by Julep (with some additional ones by me) and your nails will breeze past the season unscathed:

If there is one thing that really impacts the condition of your nails is the cuticles. Unkempt cuticles can really break a flawless mani, so if you are going to remove them, make sure you are doing it properly (cutting your skin when doing so is the easiest way to get an infection! ouch!). If you are not great at cutting them, I suggest you go to a manicurist or simply apply a cuticle softener (like the one pictured) and push them downwards gently so they aren't noticeable.

In doing your mani, stay well away from any polishes that contain Toluene, Dibutyl Phthalate, and Formaldehyde, which are actually referred to as the "toxic trio". (Good news: Julep nail polishes are free from all three! woop woop!).

When your mani is finished, I strongly recommend you use a cuticle oil that will nourish and strengthen your nails. Or you can opt for a cuticle serum like the one in the picture, designed to do the same. Ideally, use it two to three times a week for best results.

Make sure that in the winter months you switch your hand cream for something a little heavier that will provide extra hydration to your hands and lock in the moisture. To see which one I am loving at the moment, make sure you come back tomorrow to see my November favorites.
Keep one in your purse, your desk, and your nightstand so you can apply whenever needed. If the air is too dry where you live, also make sure you don't leave the house without some good mittens to keep your hands nice, warm and protected.

Finally, make sure you are drinking plenty of water to hydrate your nails from within. It makes a world of difference.

Multitasker tip: if you don't have a cuticle oil available, your lip balm will do the trick aswell!

If you are in need of some inspiration for what colors to rock this holiday season, make sure to check out Julep's incredible color selection here. (You might even find one with the same name as you! I am so in love with the Veronica shade!).

I hope you have enjoyed these tips and if you have your own, please do leave them in the comments to share with me and the other readers!
Love you bunches!

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Friday, November 28, 2014

My Haircare Routine

I have to admit. The part of my body that I neglect the most is my hair. It doesn't come close to getting the kind of attention my skin, my arms or my eyes get. It's not on purpose, I just never had too much trouble with it so I kind of always focused on something else.

However, I do have a haircare routine. Simple, but still a routine that keeps it mostly happy. I have a minimalistic approach because my hair tends to be weighed down so easily. So here's what I do:

Keeping it clean
Shampoo and conditioner are naturally the two products that impact your hair the most. It took me a really, really long time to understand my hair and find the right combination of products for it. Boy, my hair was a complete mess up until four or five years ago. It was really flaky and dull, and the shampoo and conditioner I was using didn't help at all. I then learned that my hair responds best to moisturizing, nutritious shampoos, but goes bonkers with oily or overly clarifying ones.

With the LUSH Cynthia Sylvia Stout Shampoo, all the flakes are gone and as a nice added bonus my hair is super shiny. It contains actual stout, which apparently my hair is head over heels with. The scent is definitely a love-it or hate-it kind of scent, and luckily I'm in the love it bandwagon. The American Cream Conditioner, on the other hand, has an intoxicating vanilla and strawberry scent that lingers for hours. It isn't overly heavy nor light, just right in the middle, and leaves my hair soft and manageable.

Once a week though (usually during the weekend), I like using a clarifying shampoo. The one I'm currently loving is also from LUSH (a bit of a LUSH addict, huh?), and it's the I Love Juicy shampoo. This one is like putting a fruit cocktail in your hair: it is full of pineapple, mango and kiwi which leave hair squeaky clean. I don't use it too often because my hair would have a fit if I did, but once a week is the perfect balance to get rid of all the gunk and residue that has accumulated.

In the mornings
When I am rushing to get out of the house in the morning and don't want to deal with my hair, I take a dollop of the Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Styling Treatment and comb it through my hair, focusing mostly on the ends. It is a great multitasker (a.k.a. no-fuss timesaver!), and my hair remains controlled. It creates a good amount of volume without all the frizz, and it also works as a leave-in conditioner. It is a must-have in the stash of any woman with no time to worry about the state of her hair. I use it about three times a week and it definitely gives my hair that extra oomph.
Oh, and I also use this when I heat-style my hair, as it has heat protectants, too!

Hair Masks
Around once a week, I use the Yves Rocher Moroccan Clay Mask. It is very conditioning thanks to all the argan oil, and leaves my hair soft and shiny. I use it mostly at night when I am showering after a run, leave it on for five minutes, rinse off, and I find that my hair wakes up the next day nice and smooth.

When I'm feeling fancy
For the special occasions, I head straight for my BumbleAndBumble Thickening Creme Contour. This is a very light paste that you melt in your hands, comb through your hair, and it gives it gorgeous volume and subtle texture. It is for use on dry hair, so after heat-styling or air drying, simply apply a dollop of it and build your hair to the exact shape you want. Mine is so very straight that it refuses to hold a style for too long, so this is a godsend.

And for those days...
Then there are the days when I take out my BumbleAndBumble Surf Spray. It is salt-infused, giving you those much-too-coveted laid back beachy waves. There is something very sexy about spraying your hair with this guy, with all the volume and attitude it provides. I specially love it when I want to pull the whole "oh, I just woke up like this" thing off.

What are your must-have haircare products? I'd love to hear your best recommendations!
Love you bunches!

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

"Lauren Conrad Beauty" Book Review

First of all, a HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all my American friends out there! I hope today each one of you, American or not, have something in your lives to be thankful for. I know I do, and it's important to always remember that.

So I recently read Lauren Conrad Beauty, and thought it would be fitting to do a review of the book since this is, well, a beauty blog! If you have considered reading it, or even if you had never heard of it before but are now intrigued, keed reading...

What I liked...
When I think of Lauren Conrad I think of fashion before beauty. However, I can't deny that I do admire her beauty skills, and more specifically, her moderation and laid-back approach to it. She never seems to be too overdone or over the top. Her overall look sort of has that "girl next door" feel to it, and I love that. The book is full of little tips and tricks and tutorials on how to achieve precisely a very subtle makeup look. I love people (or in this case, books) that tell you that you don't need an extreme amount of makeup to look good. In fact, you don't need any makeup to look good, you just need a really kick-ass attitude and a ton of confidence, and the makeup is just an accessory that you enjoy using. That is the overall message of this book and I couldn't agree with it more.

The book is divided in different sections: hair; nails; face, etc., which I find very useful because you can easily go straight to the area that interests you more, and read the rest later.

What I didn't like...
For most of the book I got the feeling that the tutorials and tips were a little too much on the "safe" side. Yes, her every day makeup tutorials are super useful and of course, it's the one we will go for the most in our daily lives. But I would have liked to see some more tutorials that took more risks, were a little more fun and gave her overall look some edge. You don't always want to be looking so sober and neutral, right? I don't know about you, but for some special nights I do want to leave my comfort zone a little bit, try something I haven't tried before and experiment, even if that means bad news sometimes. And this book just didn't really do that, but I do appreciate that she stayed true to herself and shared what she likes the most.

The bottom line... 
Lauren Conrad Beauty is a light, enjoyable read. Nothing ground-breaking, but also not a waste of time. That being said, I would recommend it for those of you who are only starting to experiment with makeup and skincare. I probably would have enjoyed it a lot more had I read it three years ago, but at this point I was expecting something more, something with more substance. Therefore, I give it a rating of 3.5 out of 5, so don't be afraid to give it a go if you are looking for a beauty book to read.
You can get it on Amazon for $12.40 (hardcover) or on your Kindle app for $11.78.

Love you bunches!

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Beauty Hero Of The Week v.1

Beauty junkies (like me) are always going through different products, finding "can't-live-without" type items all the time. And it is not uncommon that we will use literally every day for a whole week or month and then sort of get bored of them or move onto another new, shiny product that makes us forget about it. For that reason I decided to create this little series called Beauty Hero of the Week, to give some praise to that one thing that stood out for me over the course of that week, fortnight, whatever.

The first product to receive such honor is the LUSH New Charity Pot Body Lotion. I had tried the previous version of the Charity Pot lotion before but was never a huge fan of the scent, it was just a little too "herbal" smelling for me. But LUSH recently changed the formulation and introduced a beautiful, yet subtle, floral scent to it. I won't lie, I love my lotions and shower gels to smell as girly as possible, so I was pretty happy with this new scent. It is still far from smelling like roses or strawberries, but it is still girly and sophisticated. This is the one I go to when I want my perfume to really shine, since it's scent is so mild that it won't compete with it (what's the opposite of overpowering? that's what this scent is..!).

Another big bonus for me is the fact that, like many of LUSH's body lotions, this one is very moisturizing and hydrating without leaving your skin greasy, and it is even gentle enough for those with sensitive skin.

Last but not least, let's not forget that the purchase of this body lotion is actually going towards helping a grassroots charity. On the lid it tells you a little bit about which particular charity you are benefiting by purchasing it. How many lotions can claim that much, huh!?  Not gonna lie, it does feel good that my product hoarding tendencies do end up benefiting someone in need, you can even go on the LUSH webpage and see how many charities have been helped by people like us buying Charity Pot. Now I have a great argument for when my husband starts rolling his eyes whenever he sees me eyeing the LUSH webpage...

Love you bunches!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Week Of Pampering Treats

Everyone deserves to pamper themselves. One is simply a better person after a well-deserved treat, no?

I have picked a little something for every day of the week, each non-time-consuming and non-expensive. Come back to this whenever you are having one of those weeks, or really, whenever you simply feel like it!

Let's get cracking, then!

Oh, Monday Monday Monday... you little deliverer of the mean reds*, you!
Well, let's face it: nothing beats starting the week with a nice, long, relaxing bath. What you'll need: some bathing salts or essential oils; your favorite wine; and a nice magazine or book. A pretty much free me-time that is so worth it and leaves you all set for a long week ahead.
*major brownie points for you if you got that reference!  ;)

Our hands are hard workers, and they too deserve some loving! This concoction takes literally five minutes to make, and you can use stuff you already have in your cupboard: mix two parts brown or raw sugar with one part honey and one part hand lotion, and rub a dub dub all over your hands. Leave on for a couple of minutes and then rinse off, and your hands will be like silk mittens (and smell delicious too!).

Yesterday we treated hands to a mini homemade spa. Today is the turn for the tootsies. Pour some hot water into a big bowl, grab a pumice stone and rub off the dryness and roughness. Add your favorite hand lotion to the water to make it nice and hydrating. Leave your feet in there for as long as you wish, but at least for 15 minutes. Feeling extra fancy? substitute the lotion for a bath bomb, which will not only moisturize your feet too, but add fun colors and effects to the water. Talk about enjoying the simple things in life!

Even15 minutes of this after a long day makes all the difference!

A face mask will get rid of all the gunk that has been accumulating on your face over the week, and as a bonus, it will leave you feeling baby-soft and relaxed. You can get excellent, budget-friendly masks anywhere (I love Montagne Jeunesse ones, at $1.99! and LUSH fresh face masks at $6.95!), but you can also concoct your own one at home: since my skin has some issues with breakouts and oiliness, a really good one for me is combining 2tbsp honey with 1tsp cinnamon and 1tsp nutmeg, which is antibacterial, moisturizing and cleansing. For other skin concerns, there are a myriad other recipes on the Internet that use stuff you already have. Fifteen minutes later, your face will show no signs of the week's events.

The workweek has finally come to an end, and you are getting ready for the weekend. Make sure your hair is prepared too with a super quick hair mask. All you need is to whisk together coconut oil and an egg white. The coconut oil delivers huge amounts of moisture to dry and brittle hair, and the egg white will add shine to dull hair. Best results are achieved if you sleep with it on, but if you can't, leave it on for thirty minutes and then shampoo and condition as usual and you are ready for the dance floor!

You spent less than 30 minutes on yourself every day, but by the end of the week you will see the incredible effect this has not only on your body but also on your mood and energy levels. Make sure to regularly spend time on pampering yourself, you've earned it!
Love you bunches!

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Autumn Layering with Modcloth!

Hi there, lovely people of the internet!

So I was away last week, in the lovely (amazing, wonderful, beautiful, gorgeous, lustworthy -and I can go on-) city of New York. But I am back now, back to the usual business.

Fall was in full swing in New York and at times it felt a lot more like winter, and you know what that means: layers, layers, layers. And if there's a city that knows how to do them in style, it is most definitely NYC. So I jumped at the chance when Modcloth asked if I was interested in creating a post about layering in these chilly Autumn months.

If Modcloth is known for something, is for making clothes that look wonderfully retro but chic and modern at the same time, and that is simply a winning combination. And that is the theme I had in mind when I put this outfit together:

My favorite version of layering is one that involves something flowy and something structured, lending a very sophisticated touch to the overall look, which is why I paired the beautiful Love Ballad Tunic, which is girly and fun, with the Corner Coffee Shop Cardigan. As soon as I saw this number, it made me think of an Audrey Hepburn movie: it is elegant but simple, and I love the touch that the three buttons and stand-up collar bring to it. Underneath, simply wear a cute undershirt like the Poet to be True Top, and you are set.
I also opted for some slim jeans to complement the tunic, and these 50-inspired Better Shake Up Pants instantly caught my eye. Of course, I had to add a little hat to finish off the retro look, and isn't this Train and Simple number adorable? So very, very chic! Finally, for shoes some booties were the way to go and my favorite ones for this outfit are the What May Come Booties, which are every bit as elegant as the rest of the elements. The whole look is feminine, timeless and versatile, all key elements when I'm getting dressed.

I stuck to a very neutral palette of black, tan and brown, all of which complement each other very well and are perfect for the colder seasons. They can easily be dressed up or down, and are appropriate for a variety of occasions. It's actually kind of hard not to look put together with this color palette, as it screams sophistication and confidence, and I have to say, these colors are slowly taking over my closet.

I would love to know what you think of this outfit I put together, and do tell which colors have you been wearing the most as the days become shorter? And if you loved the cardi I showed here, make sure you check out the whole collection here, where you can find one to suit every style and wallet! :)
Love you bunches!

(As a little side note, you should know that Modcloth is currently having a 25% off sale on tops, bottoms and lots of other goodies, so make sure you snatch some warm and cozy sweaters up. This is also a great way to get a head start on your Christmas shopping, you early bird: if there's any woman at all in your life, you'll find something for her here!). 

This is a sponsored post by Modcloth. I am not affiliated to the company, and all opinions are my own.

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Monday, November 10, 2014

Product Empties


I don't know what it is about "empties" blog posts and YouTube videos that is so addicting to read/watch... But my guess is that it probably has something to do with the fact that someone has finished a full product and can now provide a thorough opinion on them. For that purpose, I collected, over a couple of months all the products I finished, and now that I have a little collection here's what made it into the bag:

This product is pretty similar to the super hyped-about Bioderma Sensibio H2O. It's a very gentle cleanser, perfect for sensitive skin. I generally used it after makeup removing wipes, since they can sometimes be irritating on my face, and this soothed it wonderfully and left it completely clean. A definite repurchase for me.

Macadamia Moisturizing Rinse
This was a very nice conditioner, I could tell that it was very moisturizing and hydrating. Nothing that blew my mind or anything, but pretty good overall.

LUSH American Cream Conditioner
Absolutely loved the smell of this conditioner. And it lingers, too! A lightweight, moisturizing conditioner that I will probably repurchase.

Carolina Herrera CH L'Eau
I will struggle to find another perfume as feminine as this one, without being too sweet. It was my staple perfume for most of 2014, and I can't wait to get my hands on a new one.

LUSH Cynthia Sylvia Stout Shampoo
Suffice to say that I will never, ever, ever be without this shampoo. It keeps my dry, brittle hair nice and moisturizing and I have never had a happier, flake-free scalp.

Dior Creme de Rose Lip Balm
I am so devastated to have finished this. It is my most favorite lip balm ever, hydrating, plumping, and it has the most deliciously addictive scent.

Soap & Glory Clean On Me Shower Gel
One of the girliest scents I have encountered in a shower gel, which is always a plus for me. Not only does it leave my skin beautifully perfumed, but silky smooth too!

Bath & Body Works Brown Sugar & Fig Body Lotion
I loved the smell of this thing! It was warm and cozy, and very moisturizing.

The Body Shop Dreams Unlimited Sun Fresh EDT
I had this for nearly two years, and loved it. It does remind me of a lot of other scents, so it is nothing original, but it's nonetheless so good. The lasting power was ok too.

NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Ginger
I probably won't repurchase this concealer. It provides very good coverage and has a nice texture, but it just creased like crazy on me, and that's not something I'm particularly fond of.

Maybelline Illegal Length Fiber Extensions Mascara
The name of this mascara doesn't lie: it is very lengthening and defining. It doesn't add a ton of volume, but just enough. It is perfect for both the day and the night, because your lashes look long and amazing, without being too over the top.

Elizabeth And James Nirvana White Perfume
What I loved most about this is that it isn't your typical, mainstream scent. It is very different to what I'm used to, while still being sophisticated and feminine. I finished it super quickly because I wore it so often.

MAC Studio Fix Powder Foundation in NC42
If you are not much of a fan of liquid foundation, this is the one for you for it provides great coverage.

Alba Botanica AcneDote Face & Body Scrub
The perfect mix of gentle but effective exfoliation. Plus, a little goes a long way so this big tube lasted me for ages (seriously, over eight months, using it two to three times a week!). For the results (and price!), this became a definite repurchase.

OGX Renewing Argan Oil of Morocco Shampoo
Out of all these products, this is by far the most disappointing one. I love argan oil, but my hair really, really didn't. It made my already sensitive scalp super flaky. This would probably work instead for someone with a healthy scalp and dry, brittle ends.

If you have used any of these products, I would love to hear what you thought of them down in the comments.
Love you bunches!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Five Beauty Lessons I Learned From Food Shows

How ironic is it that I am literally the biggest fan of food shows such as Top Chef and Cupcake Wars, and can barely make scrambled eggs?  (Don't answer!). Really, it's funny, but there are few shows on T.V. I enjoy more than those two, and believe it or not, I have learned a beauty thing or two (actually, five!) from them:

1. Less is more
On Top Chef and basically every single food competition, the chefs arrange their plates beautifully, but in the simplest of ways. You never see an overstuffed plate on those shows. This rule is paramount for beauty also: too much of anything never looks appealing. I.e. too much foundation will look cakey; or statement lips plus statement eyes is too over the top. Choose a main feature on your face, and work the rest accordingly, keeping it simple.

2. The tools on hand make all the difference
Have you seen those challenges on cooking reality shows where the chefs are required to cook with only a couple of tools/pots? They always freak out and have to use all their creative thinking to be able to produce something of quality. In beauty this is no different: you might have beautiful ingredients (i.e. makeup) but if you don't have the right tools, you won't go very far with them. A good set of brushes, an excellent eyelash curler and even the right nail file will make the makeup you already own go much further.

3. Something unexpected is always more eye-catching
No one would ever watch Top Chef, or any food reality show for that matter, if the contestants always cooked the same dishes over and over. In each challenge, the chefs are forced to use all their creativity and imagination to take some ordinary ingredients and turn them into something spectacular. This might not be feasible for every day when it comes to doing your makeup (we wouldn't get anything done!) but it is fun and a nice change to spice up your look once in a while. Maybe once a week or once a month, or even once a year, try something you've never done before: a double eyeliner look; a shade of lipstick you haven't dared to wear; a beehive hairdo. Getting out of your comfort zone and experimenting with different things is a good thing. At worst, you'll need to use a couple of makeup removing wipes, but at best you've found a new look that suits you wonderfully!

3. A pop of color changes the whole look
Contestant chefs always seem to have this rule down pat. Even when their plates use fairly neutral ingredients, they manage to add just that little detail that brings their whole dish to live: a little edible flower in a gorgeous red hue; a sprig of purple lavender; the brightest cherry tomatoes, you name it. When it comes to beauty, I am a big fan of this too: I love my color. Even for work, I try to incorporate a little brightness into my look. I'll be wearing a beige shirt with navy pants, and I might add a cute bright bracelet; or I'll put on a beautiful red necklace if I am wearing black and white.
This is technically more of a "fashion" rather than "beauty" lesson, but a helpful one nonetheless.

5. You don't have to be the most beautiful dish to be the most delicious
This is perhaps the most important lesson: there are countless times on Top Chef and similar shows were the chefs present the most incredibly beautiful dishes but they turn out to miss the mark and disappoint. Even though these dishes charm the judges at first, once they dive in they realize that they are bland, under-seasoned or overcooked. Make sure you are not one of these dishes: your beautiful, striking looks will mean nothing in the end if you are completely devoid of substance and flavor.
Love you bunches!

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Tips For Work Makeup

The corporate environment can easily become too serious and boring, and with the rushes of daily life, the easiest thing to do is to fall into a makeup rut. But where's the fun in that? I for one find it quite enjoyable that, while rushing to get out of the house, I get about 15 minutes to myself to look nice for work.
If you happen to work at an office, and are tired of looking the same all the time, you can follow these simple tips:

1. For eyeshadow, keep it matte and neutral
A little eyeshadow can look very nice, and as a bonus, it makes your eyes look more awake (perfect to disguise that you went to bed at 2 am). You don't have to do anything too elaborate, just make sure that you stick to neutral tones, such as a nice champagne, beige or peach (which work well with almost any outfit), and that they are in a matte finish so you don't look ready to hit the happy hour at 9 am.

2. You don't have to put on full-coverage makeup
If you tend to lean towards the no-makeup makeup trend, or if you don't like putting on a ton of makeup every day, then you can opt for a tinted moisturizer instead. This not only will provide light coverage, so your face looks more even-toned, but it also has the added bonus of combining two products in one, saving you some time.

3. Save the bold lips for the night
A much better option for the workplace would be a cute lipgloss in coral, peach, pink or nude. They are all low-maintenance colors, and perfect for daytime. However, I must admit that I have broken this rule a couple of times with a red or a berry lipstick, because frankly, a nice classic red CAN sometimes seem more professional for some occasions, but for everyday wear stick to the colors above.

4. Mascara will never be out of place
Mascara just has a way of making you look a lot more "finished". A subtle coat of mascara that brings out your eyes and eyelashes will always work wonders for your overall look.

5. However, overusing eyeliner might
Applying a thick, black coat of eyeliner might look sexy as hell for a night out and make a big statement. However, that is most definitely not what we are looking for when going to work. If you want your eyes to pop and look bigger, tightline them instead: with your pencil, gently lift your eyelashes and glide the pencil all over your waterline, covering the gaps between each eyelash. The effect this creates is a lot less dramatic than a regular winged eyeliner, but still gives your eyes that extra something.

6. Finally...
Yes, it is a very common occurrence to find ourselves with five (or less) minutes to spare before we have to head out the door. Make sure you have a contingency plan for those days:
1. First, moisturize and even out your skin with a tinted moisturizer or BB cream.
2. Apply some concealer under your eyes to disguise any bags or darkness and on any spots or imperfections you wish to cover.
3. Apply some blush on the apples of your cheeks.
4. Put on a base eyeshadow, and then a coat of mascara.
5. Grab some lipgloss, which is faster to apply and requires less precision than a lipstick.

Don't be afraid to explore and go out of your comfort zone. As long as you always have "moderation" in mind when doing your makeup, you will be fine.
Love you bunches!

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

How To Start Building Your Makeup Stash On a Low Budget

Three years ago, when I started developing a makeup obsession that has only grown with time, I was far from having unlimited funds to finance that obsession. I was a university student with a new baby, so "money for makeup" really didn't make it onto my monthly budget. Then, to top it all off, my little makeup bag got lost with everything I owned inside. So I pretty much only owned a translucent powder, a blush and a mascara and perhaps a lipstick or two. If you are anything like I was, then I will show you here a few strategies to start building a beginners makeup kit without having to break the bank.

First off, like any other time when we don't want to spend a ton of cash, the most important thing is to know where to splurge and where to save. Since I am covering the most commonly used/raved about makeup items, this is going to be a pretty long post, so you can read it all (yay you!) or you can just skip to the item/s that interest you.
Without further ado, here is a comprehensive list of makeup items:

It is true that primers will make your makeup stay on for longer. However, I don't think they are a must-have, specially if you aren't on a very high budget. I will even be brutally honest and confess that when I am on a big rush (ehem, every other day), this is the product I skip.

This is to me the most important item in a makeup bag. It basically makes or breaks your look. A good foundation will give you a flawless complexion, blur the little imperfections, and make your finished look stand out, while a bad one will appear blotchy after a while. If you find one you love, you really don't need any more, just stick to that one and it will do (don't tell the beauty bloggers who hoard foundations like a dime a dozen).

Also, there is no need to splurge to find your perfect one. Sure, high end brands like YSL, Chanel, Dior etc. can make you feel really lush and fancy and wonderful, but there are many other drugstore brands out there that make outstanding ones too. It is all a matter of finding one of the many great ones out there for less than 20 USD.


This is one of those items that really depends on personal preference and skin type, and you can also find them at several price points. Again, you only need to buy one.

People with problematic skin might go for a concealer that delivers very high coverage, and for this I do recommend a good brand, as it it will cover more than a cheaper one and is also less likely to crease on your face. If your skin usually behaves well (you lucky dog!), you can go for a more budget-friendly version.

Setting Powder:
This is definitely an item to save on. Drugstore brands like Revlon and Rimmel sell excellent versions of powders for very little money. In my personal experience, there isn't a huge difference between high end powders and drugstore ones, just find one you like and you're good to go.

I'm just gonna say it. If you are only starting out with makeup and don't have unlimited funds, then (gasp!) there's really no harm on skipping bronzer or highlighter. Sure, they can really glam up your look, and from time to time a little contouring works wonders to complete your look, but it is by no means an essential (double gasp!).


To be brutally honest, I mostly stay well away from drugstore blushes. I have always found that they just don't have the same pigmentation and staying power as more expensive ones. Also, I find the application of high end blushes to be more even and they blend more seamlessly than the cheaper ones. Most of my favorite ones are on the 20-30 USD range, so if you can afford that, I suggest you do.

Also, if you can, this is the item to get more than one of. Since there are so very many options to go for, having two or more different blushes allows you to subtly alter your look (stopping you from falling into a makeup rut) and it also ensures you can use a season-appropriate one.

Eyeshadow Primer:
Nope, you don't necessarily need to buy one when you are starting to build your stash. Yes, this does make your eyeshadow last slightly longer and yes, it might feel kind of nice to apply, but this really isn't a must-item and instead you could be using that money towards a nicer blush or eyeshadow palette. The only case in which I would say that it's worth buying it from the get-go is if you have extremely oily eyelids and can't keep eyeshadow on longer than ten minutes.


All you really need is two good mascaras. One that gives you a natural look, sort of "oh, I woke up like this, thankyouverymuch" while still helping your eyes stand out. This mascara is great for daytime, to go to work and for those days when you don't want to look like you have a ton of makeup on. Then you also need one that will give your look that extra OOMPH and create a "falsies" effect. You can be all "yea, they are real, that's right" (or something less lame than that!).

My opinion on how much to spend on mascara has shifted in the last year or so: I used to only buy drugstore mascaras because I didn't see the point of spending big money on one, until I bought a few higher-end mascaras this year. I realized that they do hold a curl better, last longer and are smoother to apply so there's no risk of mascara goop anywhere. Still, there are several drugstore mascaras that are very lengthening and defining and perform beautifully, so when money is an issue definitely go for one of those. The best drugstore ones I have found are: Maybelline Illegal Length Fiber Extensions Mascara  ($8.99); CoverGirl LashBlast Bombshell Mascara ($8.54); and the Maybelline Volum'Express The Rocket Mascara ($5.99).

I have come to realize that spending slightly more on eyeshadow ensures better pigmentation and color payoff, as well as longer staying power. However, I do have one exception: the Maybelline Color Tattoo range starts at $4.19 and they perform just as well (if not better) than much more expensive ones. They also come in a huge variety of colors, so you can easily take your pick of two or three basic colors and you are set. Another great option for buying eyeshadow is to get your hands on a good palette that contains a few basics, so that you can create several looks out of just one item. There are great ones out there starting at $15, like this Stila Eyeshadow Trio ($18) or the Smashbox Full Exposure Travel Palette ($22), which is simply stunning and so versatile.

Don't spend your hard-earned money on expensive eyeliner: there really are a ton of great ones out there for you to buy at very reasonable prices. Some of the most raved-about are the Rimmel ScandalEyes Kohl Eyeliner ($4,49) and the CoverGirl Bombshell Intensity Eyeliner ($6.64).

Eyebrow Pencil:
I am of two minds when it comes to eyebrow pencils and gels. If you have very sparse, light or unruly eyebrows, then definitely get your hands on a good eyebrow pencil that will fill in the gaps or that will tame all those little misbehaving hairs. After all, eyebrows are crucial to your finished look, some makeup artists arguing that they are the most important feature as they frame your face and can make someone look much younger or older depending on how they are kept. Brands like Anastasia and Hourglass both have much raved-about versions, but they cost big bucks, so when money is an issue, brands like Milani and NYX have much more affordable options. Alternatively, use an eyeshadow in the same shade as your eyebrows, which has pretty much the same effect as a product specifically designed for eyebrows.

If you are one of the lucky ones with gorgeous, full eyebrows, I think you can make do with a little spoolie brush just to tame little flyaways, and make sure you keep their shape by plucking them regularly.

A little beauty trick if you don't have a lot of experience with gels and pencils: use a cheap, clear mascara like this one from Maybelline to tame your eyebrows and keep them in place all day.

In general, having a lipstick for each season is a good rule of thumb. That means a girly pink or rose lipstick for spring; a bright red or orange for the summer; a deep plum or berry for fall and a pretty nude for winter. With these you can easily create several looks so that you don't always look the same, and you are basically covered for any type of event too. Like with foundations, having a luxe lipstick feels wonderful but it's completely unnecessary with a market inundated with all kinds of excellent lipsticks at all price ranges. Almost every drugstore brand will carry a great version or two, with good color payoff and staying power; it is just a matter of going out there and doing some research until you find them. You really don't need to spend more than $10 USD on a lipstick to achieve good results. And while you are at it, add a lipgloss or two for those days when you don't feel like doing a full face of makeup (NYX does some of my favorites and they don't cost more than $5 USD!).

I hope this has been a helpful guide for those of you that are starting out with cosmetics and want to be smart about it. If you liked this post, don't forget to subscribe!  :)
Love you bunches!

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Monday, November 3, 2014

Refocus and Reset

So I have really lost track of how many times I have said this... but I am a firm believer that when things just aren't working for you, you MUST refocus and restart (not surprising that I have moved cities -even countries!- five times in the last two years).

The same thing goes for this blog: the moment that you are not feeling proud of your work, or that it stops bringing you joy, is the time to stop. Sometimes it's not necessary to fully quit, but to take time to get things back on track. I want to produce content that I would enjoy reading myself, content that doesn't feel like a chore to write, or that feels like a "filler-post". So that's why I took over three months away from the blog, changed cities, adapted, got to a place where I am feeling happy and confident, and finally decided that I am ready to get at it again. I can't promise that I will post every single day, but when I do, rest assured that it will be something I enjoyed creating. And I want to reiterate that, while this blog will remain mostly beauty-focused, I will be occasionally posting about other topics too, (fashion, diy, books...) just to keep things fresh and original. And I also want to explain that I am by no means an expert on beauty, just a (very) passionate hobbyist.

Without further ado, I re-welcome you to A Bunch of Radness. Sit back, pour yourself a cuppa, and enjoy. I have a bunch of brand-new posts brewing for you, so make sure to keep your eyes peeled and come back here tomorrow!
Love you bunches!

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Decorating My New House v.1: My Perfect Vanity

Okay, so I know I have been super inconsistent in my posting the last couple of weeks.. but this time I do have a legitimate excuse: I moved! not only houses, but cities, too. And jobs. And I am so very, very excited because I am now living by the sea, in a city I absolutely adore, where many of my very best friends live. However, moving can be such a pain! Packing everything up, arranging movers, unpacking everything again and arranging it... it can get a bit overwhelming at times (and it did!). So instead of letting myself be swamped by a huge to-do list, I decided to focus on the best part: decorating my house from scratch!

Being the beauty hoarder that I am, the first thing I wanted to sort out was my vanity. At my old place I didn't have the room to set a space just for me, where I could keep all my products organized and nicely stored, so when I started house-hunting I specifically looked for a space where I could arrange a gorgeous vanity to fit my needs. My needs being:

1. Sufficient room for all my beauty products.
2. Lots and lots of light (have you ever done your makeup in the dark, only to realize you resemble a drag queen once you have left the house!? not me, definitely not, never, no sir!).
3. Vintage inspired, yet not grandma-y, to match the vibe of the rest of our house.

When I was contacted by One Kings Lane, I was delighted to see that they had a ton of awesome stuff in a huge variety of styles and price ranges, and I let myself go wild looking for all the things I need to create my own perfect vanity. Fun, fun, fun! If you are wanting to update your own vanity, or add some nice touches to the one you already have, you will almost certainly find something there to fit your own style and budget. After some browsing around, here is what I ended up loving the most for my new space:

1. Vevey Oversized Mirror: In my opinion, the best way to start designing your vanity is with your mirror. A huge statement mirror will set the tone for the rest of the vanity, and you can then keep decorating around it. My favorite one from their site is this wooden one. I love the shape and color, which give it a vintage feel, but the wood counteracts its effect so it doesn't look outdated. And of course, by being oversized (29" x 45") it doesn't need a lot more to make a statement. And it brings in lots of light, too. Basically, it ticks all the boxes for me. For even more inspiration on how to make the most out of your mirror, I found this great list of 7 Ways to Work Magic with a Mirror. It is well worth a read!

2. Roland Table Lamp: I am in love with the texture of this lamp. I think it adds personality to it, while the white cotton shade keeps it sleek and clean. It also pairs perfectly with the mirror! Can you tell by now that I love things that have a lot of contrast to them? I find them so much more interesting!

3. Trellis Frame: I like the elegant feel of keeping my vanity light and neutral with some gold accents, but I still think it's fun and fresh to add a pop of color. My choice is this too-cute frame in teal, perfect to keep a picture of my boys right beside me when I'm doing my makeup. I love it a lot.

4. Apothecary bottles with gold accents: I love the old-school vibe of apothecary bottles, but sometimes they might be a little too old looking for my taste. But then I saw this chevron one and the polka-dotted one and they were exactly what I wanted to complete my vanity! Again, they are super contrasty: old bottles with modern golden accents? yes, please! I'm thinking I will put some fresh flowers in it because I love that it's kind of unexpected, not to mention fancy and sophisticated, no?

I am really happy about these four choices, I think they fit my personality and the rest of my house to a t, and I am super excited to have such a nice space to get ready every day. What about you? Do you also have a nice little haven all of your own in your home? I would love to hear about it!

This post was created as part of the "Reflect Your Style" campaign, together with One Kings Lane. 
All opinions expressed here are my own.

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