Friday Favorites | 1.15.16

The first full week of January proved to be more busy than I was expecting and I wasn’t able to get a Friday Favorites post up. So here’s my first one of 2016! The first full week back to work since the holidays was overwhelming with having to go back to business casual outfits, getting in my gym sessions during the busiest time of the year, and sending my brother off on his very own journey and road trip across the U.S. With all that behind me, I’ve finally had some time to use some new products I purchased over the holidays or received as gifts! Everything I’ve been loving this past week is makeup related, so sorry to anyone looking for fitness or lifestyle updates. Some times I go through phases when I’m loving all things makeup, and that’s been the case the past two weeks.


Sonia Kashuk Brightening PowderI had wanted to purchase the Laura Mercier Secret Brightening Powder for awhile, but I just couldn’t justify the price tag on a simple powder. The past few months I’ve been loving ELF High Definition Undereye Setting Powder, but I had watched a mini review of the  Sonia Kashuk powder on Jessica Braun’s YouTube channel.  Jessica said that the Laura Mercier powder wasn’t any better than the Sonia Kashuk powder, so naturally I went out and purchased it that very week. I’m always skeptical about using powder to set my under eye concealer because they always seem to crease on me. I’m happy to report that this powder sets my under eye concealer with no creasing. I use it along side my Urban Decay Naked Skin Concealer that I raved about in my December Favorites along with a few other favorite under eye concealers.sonia kashuk powder

And I’m also happy to report that the slight glitter in the powder doesn’t distract when it’s on the skin. For a long time I didn’t purchase the Laura Mercier powder because of the glitter in it, but it doesn’t seem to affect the appearance of the powder in person or pictures. A word of warning on this product, the label says to not use near the eye area, so if you have sensitive eyes maybe stay clear of this powder.

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Sonia Kashuk Grand Bazaar Matte Lipstick Crushed Berry (LE) I purchased this lip color right before Christmas and it was the perfect color for the holiday. I put it away right after the holiday since it’s not a very wearable color for work, but pulled it out for the weekend and I wish this was a permanent item in Sonia Kashuk’s line.

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This matte formula is extremely comfortable to wear – not drying at all, doesn’t move outside of my lip lines, and has full pigment. I do have to be careful when applying since it can tend to pill out up itself when layering or reapplying. Sadly, this was a limited edition product which is a total bummer because this is great matte lip product!

Makeup Geek Eye Shadows | I made my first Makeup Geek purchase shortly after Christmas as a gift to myself. I purchased eight eye shadows and a small Z Palette to customize the shadows. I purchased some of the more popular and recommended colors and two colors that I hadn’t heard much about. The first time I used these eye shadows, I’m not going to lie, I was surprised at how much powder kicked up from the pan. I also got fallout from Corrupt which is so pigmented it stains the skin. I pushed through it and really love the blendability of the shadows and their pigmentation. I was a bit unsure of Peach Smoothie since its very warm and has an orange color to it, but I like seeing it peek out in my crease as a transition shade. I’m also very careful about using Corrupt during the week when I’m doing my makeup quickly for work to minimize fallout.

Out of all the colors I purchased my favorites are Homecoming and Showtime. Homecoming is lighter taupe shade with a slight shimmer, great for every day wear and Showtime is a foiled eye shadow that is an amazing wine color – I’m really surprised that I like this shade so much since it’s so outside of my comfort zone. I posted a full review of these shadows earlier this week if you’d like to read more.

Makeup Forever Full Cover Extreme Clamouflage CreamI recently had a few breakouts that I needed cover, but I didn’t have a concealer that could do the job. I have countless concealers that I can use on my under eye area for concealing or highlighting, but nothing made for breakouts or dark spots. I knew I wanted to purchase either this Makeup Forever concealer or the Kat Von Dee Lock It concear so I went to Sephora and made it a point to get a color match before making such an investment. I went the Makeup Forever because the color match was better. IMG_0529 (2)This concealer has great coverage and a little bit goes a long way. It’s perfect for around my nose which tends to be red in the morning and it’s also working great on any breakouts. The concealer looks great over healing breakouts and doesn’t make it look dried out, do you know what I mean? I wear shade 7 for reference and I think it’ll work great even during the summer months. To apply it I use the Sigma F63 which is perfect for blending out a concealer of this consistency.

Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush Achiote Is it cheating to put all of  your new beauty items into one favorites post? Seriously though, I’m loving this blush! The Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour blushes are the some of the best and I want to keep adding them into my collection. On New Year’s Day Ulta was having a great deal on the Tarte blushes – Platinum members could get them for $14. Half off! I had to purchase some Clarisonic replacement heads anyway so I added this shade to my cart. I expected to love it, just like all the other shades own, and I do! Achiote is the perfect winter peach blush, which is the color I prefer on my skin. The natural, glowing blush colors tend not to show up o my skin color and most of the time I don’t wear pinks. Corals and peaches though look great on me! But those shades are usually reserved for spring and summer. This shade though it’s still in the peach family, is a muted color and works as a more natural looking flush during these winter months.

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At first I thought the color was going to be too similar to Blissful which I have owned for a while and love! While they’re similar, there’s a distinct difference between the two colors. Blissful is more coral, just the pop of color I gravitate towards in the spring and summer, while Achiote is a muted peach that is more subtle and that will work in the winter months. Even though this color will be great for the winter months, I can see myself loving it all year long.


I don’t really have a lot of other favorites this week in the fitness or lifestyle areas. I’ve been super motivated to get ready for the spring fitness routine and get back into eating healthy. I won’t start the spring fitness routine until the first full week of March and I’m planning on being on that routine for about 12 weeks. I’m making a whole plan all myself, with a two week, four day split routine along with the recipes that I’ll being choosing from during that time. It’ll be intense for me! I’ll be posting all about it so it can hopefully help someone else looking for something new.

Mexican Inspired Summer Meals

The past few weeks I’ve been super into Mexican inspired dishes for healthy summer dinners. I’ve never been one for Mexican food, but something about avocados and cilantro lately has tasted amazing. My go-to site for recipes, suprise, surprise is Pinterest. I’ve found quite a few good recipes that I’ve made for both Jake and I that have gone over very well.

The Cilantro Lime Shrimp Tacos has a lot of steps and because of the seafood, tends to cost the most, but it’s very delicious. This recipe would be great for a grill out as the recipe suggests, but we made ours in a saute pan and it turned out very tasty.  I would definitely suggest letting the shrimp marinate for a couple of hours and using large to jumbo shrimp since they shrink while cooking.

Quinoa is awesome for recipes as the main part of the dish or as a replacement for rice or other grains. I use it all the time for salads or to replace rice in fried rice or stir fry. I don’t usually like quinoa so much in warmer dishes, but this Quinoa Enchilada Casserole is amazing, even Jake was surprised and loved it. We omitted the corn from our version and didn’t as a lot of jalapeno. This would even be great as a taco filling or in eggs for a breakfast dish. A similar recipe to this was One Pan Mexican Quinoa. This version is instead made on the stove top as opposed to the oven, which is a little bit more forgiving during the warmer summer months. If you live in an apartment or house without central air, like me, then you’ll probably prefer the stove top version.

This week, I have a few leftover black beans and corn from a failed quinoa taco recipe, and  I’m thinking I’ll just fry them up in a saucepan with taco seasoning, cook up some minute rice, and make my own version of vegetarian tacos. I have a busy week coming up and I’ll be moving soon, so I’m trying to avoid buying a whole ton of groceries so using up these bits of leftovers is perfect. I’m definitely on the search for the perfect vegetarian taco recipes, preferably one I could make in my Crock Pot, so I’ll continue looking and trying out new recipes for summer!

Bronzers of Summer

For the longest time, I was not using bronzer. I was determined not to like bronzer because I’m so sick and tired of hearing about contouring, carving, and slimming. Since spring, and especially now that June is leading to warmer weather I’ve been warming up to using bronzer to do light contouring and adding some color around my face. I’ve found a technique and brush that I’m happy with and I have a few bronzer shades to recommend.

I have warm undertones and I’m naturally tan looking throughout the year. I don’t have a MAC shade to refer to, but my color match in the MAC Mineralize Skin Finish Natural is Medium-Dark, which shows up a bit dark on me in the dead of winter otherwise it matches me perfect. Because I have a bit of a warmer complexion, I do prefer warmer bronzers even for contouring. Both of my favorite bronzers at the moment, unfortunately, are limited edition, but I highly recommend both. The first bronzer is the Milani Bronzer XL All Over Glow Limited Edition Dolci, which is acutally a bronzer, highlight duo and I’ve never liked a bronzer as much as this one. The highlight works great as well for a subtle highlight so this was a perfect purchase for me. The bronzer is more on the neutral side, and comes across as a matte but the highlight is has a bit of sheen to it. I really love this for a subtle contour in my cheekbones with a fluffier brush, like a Sigma F40. I had been using a smaller contour brush for precise application, but I just don’t like that kind of look on me. I found this bronzer and the rest of the limited edition products in their summer line along the size of the regular Milani display in CVS.

The next bronzer I’m loving for summer is the Wet’n Wild Color Icon Bronzer Limited Edition Bare In Mind. Again, I found this on a side display in Walgreens however it was along a random aisle in the store, not near the beauty section. At first, I liked this for contouring but I do think the shade is a bit warm for that right now. Instead, I’m using it for warming up my complexion around the perimeters of my face and along my jaw and neck line. The packagings of this bronzer is a little of a rubbery texture, reminiscent of Nars packaging, but it stays way cleaner than Nars packaging.

My favorite brush for applying bronzer and contouring is my Sigma F40. Like I said, before I was using a smaller contour brush, like the Sigma F05, but because I hate the look of heavy and precise contouring, I stopped using that brush. I much prefer the fluffy brush for slight contouring but nothing too slimming. I’ve never liked bronzer so this is a new makeup experience for me. It’s kind of nice, since I wasn’t enjoying applying makeup or purchasing new products to play around with, so I’m very happy with these two products for summer!

Summer Plans

Plans for summer are finally starting to come together. Jake and I have been talking about summer plans since March, and for a while we weren’t sure everything we were planning was going to happen, but finally we have made plans and taken time off work for our adventures.

The first part of summer was a move at work. My work’s office made a big move a few weeks ago and I’m loving it. My commute has gone down 50 percent since we moved and I have a ton more time in the mornings and in the evenings to get to the gym, get to the grocery store, and all that jazz. My office is now super close to Jake’s workplace and we can have breakfast dates on the mornings he’s done with work and before I go into work. Love breakfast dates! Not to mention, I don’t have to fill up my car nearly as much as I used to. Perfect timing since the gas prices are rising for summer.

Next month we’re taking a short road trip up to Duluth for Grandma’s Marathon along with our friends. Funny though, we’re not running in the marathon. Only two of five of us going are participating in the marathon. I’m not sure I could ever run a marathon anyway, it’s just not my thing. I definitely run when it’s convenient more me, but I don’t love it. Any who, I haven’t been to Duluth in ten years, or more, so I’m pumped to spend a weekend in the beautiful city with a bunch of people I love. I’d love to spend time around the lake to just enjoy the view and take some awesome pictures. Not to mention, hit up some bars!

So we weren’t sure if this trip was going to happen, but Jake got the time off from work and we are officially planning a trip to San Francisco.  AHHH! I can’t believe it. I’m super excited. My dad and brother just went this past February and my dad can’t stop talking about it. Jake has been planning the majority of this trip and he’s doing pretty good on the events. Alcatraz, salsa dancing, hiking, and the beach! We booked the flights as soon as we could, but we’re still working on lodging and car rental. Traveling to California is very expensive, but we’ll probably get a time share. The car rental is what will be killer on the wallet out of all of this. I’m still on the search for alternatives ways of getting around while we’re visiting.

Then there’s of course, the big move! I’m moving out of my not-so-glamorous-anymore apartment into Jake’s house within the next two months. I’ve lived in my own apartment for almost two years now, and I really enjoy living alone and I think everyone should at some point. My liking for my apartment, however, has just gone down. I don’t love it anymore; nothing wrong with that. So to be clear, whether or not I was moving in with Jake, I would be moving out of my apartment. I’ve started packing up the things I don’t need or use on the daily, like my books, CDs (what are those!), and my winter clothes. I also need to go through most of my belongings and just through crap away. I alone have four sets of dishes, and Jake probably has another two. My old jewelry is just looking tacky and collecting dust on my dresser, and a lot my clothes just do not get the attention they should. Lots of donations will be happening.

Summer is bittersweet for me. I don’t love the heat, I never purposely go out tanning, and I can’t stand humidity. There’s something special about summer though that I love to just think about. Summer love. Summer plans. Summer music. I know everyone has their own summer soundtrack. That album that defines what they’re feeling and what they achieved during their summer. I hope everyone enjoys their unofficial beginning of summer this Memorial Day and is well on their way to make amazing summer plans.

My Curly Hair Routine

This post will be my current hair care routine and how I go about styling it. A little background on my hair, I have naturally curly 3B hair with low porosity. If that sounds like a lot a mumbo jumbo, you can check out this website for more information where you figure out how to classify your curly hair type, its porosity, and what products will work best in your hair for control. I’m a fan of letting my hair be natural, even if that means being a little frizzy. I don’t use any heat on my hair, not even a hair dryer, and I haven’t used a straightener on my hair in years. My hair is pretty healthy and it seems to get healthier each month. First of all, I do not follow the curly girl method. I want to put that out there as a disclaimer, because I know a lot of curlies looking for hair care routines are looking for CG methods. Sorry about it! I’ve tried the CG method in the past, but it just doesn’t do well with my hair. I went back to using products that just work on my hair and I don’t have any problems with build-up of silicones or shampoo drying out my hair hair. That brings me to my first step, cleansing. I co-wash often like most curlies, and I use the cult classic Suave Coconut Conditioner every time I get in the shower to condition. Then twice a week I’ve been using theCantu Shea Butter For Natural Hair Sulfate-Free Cleansing Cream Shampoo, 13.5 fl oz“> Cantu Shea Butter for Natural Hair Sulfate-Free Cleansing Cream Shampoo*, holy crap long name. Despite the name of this product, there are mild sulfates in this product, but I don’t think it’s as drying as other shampoos can be. I really love the smell and the consistency of this product and it works great to clean my scalp, which is what I need out of a shampoo, not necessarily to clean my hair. I run often during the week so I pretty much need to shampoo more than once a week. Next, I’ve been conditioning with the Suave Shea Butter and Almond conditioner*, which was in my April Empties. This conditioner isn’t ground breaking, but I did add this to my holy grail list because it performs wonderfully. Moisturizes, controls frizz, and detangles. I got a few bottles when they were on sale for $3 at CVS back in March and it should last me through to July. To detangle I just use a wide tooth comb while my hair has conditioner in it and then rinse. I wrap my hair up in a Turbie Twist while I dry off, moisturize, and prep my skin then I quickly comb through to get the last few tangles out. If I need I use a leave-in conditioner to help detangle, and right now I’m using the L’Oreal EverCreme Nourishing Leave-In Spray, which is OK but I really prefer the Healthy Sexy Hair Soy Tri-Wheat Leave In Conditioner. It’s a little pricey, but I love the consistency, scent, and it’s a little less heavy in my hair. To style I’ve been experimenting with new products and techniques, including plopping. Thanks to Reddit, I started plopping my hair with one of Jake’s tees I had in my apartment and I think I’m loving it. At first, I was leaving my hair in the tee for too long, but now I do it for about 20 to 25 minutes while I’m doing my makeup, then let my hair dry by air. As for products, my holy grail leave-in cream that I’ve been using for at least two years is the L’Oreal EverSleek Humidity Defying Leave-In Cream*, which I believe is being discontinued but I saw them at Target recently. I run this throughout my hair and it just smooths my hair down a bit. Some curlies may not like this if volume is your thing, but I prefer my hair to be pretty sleek so this is perfect. Then I’ve been using the Argan Magic Defining Curl Cream* and the Aussie Instant Freeze. I really like the Argan Magic, but I can already tell that the Aussie is going to be a holy grail for summer. It locks my hair in place and resists the humidity. It holds up pretty good for second day curls, but not so much as resisting humidity the second day. After plopping and letting my hair dry, I just wear it down. Sometime I pin my “bangs” back, but I’ve been loving it without pinning it, and a lot of people have been complimenting it. I hope this helps someone out there and you found some new products to try out. I definitely suggest trying out the Aussie Instant Freeze if you’re a curly looking for a new hold product.