At the base of any good skincare routine is a solid cleanser. After all, you need your skin to be squeaky clean so all of your lotions and potions can work their magic. When I got this new cleanser in the mail, I couldn’t wait to try it out. Exuviance was kind enough to send me their Purifying Cleansing Gel to review, and while I did get it for free, you know that my reviews will always be honest. Let’s dive in and see what it’s all about.
About the Product
The Exuviance purifying cleansing gel is an anti-aging face cleanser with Alpha (AHA) and Polyhydroxy Acids (PHA). The acids offer chemical exfoliation and help clarify the skin. The gel is soap-free which is gentle and prevents the skin from drying out. Conditioners soothe the skin and help improve the skin’s texture. It’s also allergy and dermatologist tested (in case that’s important to you).
Basically,this cleanser foams up to wash away makeup, impurities, and surface oils without stripping the skin or altering skin’s natural moisture balance and is suitable for all skin types .
The second edition of my Too Faced holiday 2016 review (I also reviewed the Grande Hotel Cafe set) is the Merry Macaroons palette. This is an Ulta exclusive and retails for $39. Of all of Too Faced’s holiday palette releases, Merry Macarons is hands down my favorite.
The packaging of the entire line is stunning, featuring a Christmas in NYC theme. All of the palettes feature packaging decked with beautiful pastel pinks, purples, and mint, and is accented with gold foil. Merry Macarons takes place ice skating next to a pretty famous tree in NYC, only this one is made of colorful macarons. Next to our skater is a deluxe mini of Too Faced’s best-selling Better Than Sex mascara.
The 12 eyeshadows ( 0.03 oz each) are an excellent balance of mattes and shimmers in a mostly neutral color range (aka my perfect palette), save a purple shade. I’ve had to resist using this palette in order to focus on using the other palettes from the line to review for the blog.
Coconut: Matte beige
Champagne Rose: Champagne Rose gold shimmer
Praline: Gold shimmer
Dulce de Leche: Matte milk chocolate brown
Mint Chocolate: Matte, cool, dark mauve
Honey Lavender: Lavender purple shimmer
Banana Cream: Dark brown shimmer
Tiramisu: Deep peach nude
Violet Cassis- Bright purple with shimmer
Almond Mocha- Dark chocolate brown, satin
Chocolate Raspberry- Maroon shimmer
Cookies and Cream- Matte black with silver micro glitter
As I said, the Merry Macarons palette is my favorite of all the Too Faced holiday releases this year. I find that the quality of these shadows is somehow better than the quality of the shadows in the other two sets. Seeing how this is the least expensive set of the 3, that is both a positive (for those wanting to buy only one of the sets) and a negative (for those that spent more money and got poorer quality). Granted, this is just my personal opinion, but it is an opinion formulated after using all 3 sets pretty thoroughly.
Like the other Too Faced sets, Merry Macaroons is scented (vanilla), but like my statement in the Grande Hotel Cafe review, don’t let the scent be a big selling point for you, as it isn’t very strong to begin with, and it fades over time. The real stars in Merry Macaroons are the shadows themselves. I love the neutral shades and the variety of finishes this palette offers. It’s very easy to create many looks suitable for every day with this palette.
I always use an eyeshadow primer before applying shadows, and I find the longevity of the shadows in the Merry Macarons palette reasonably substantial. These shadows are also soft and blendable. While some shades are powdery, none of them are dry. Overall, I really have been enjoying this palette, and it’s something I’ve been reaching for frequently since it’s arrival.
I’m a sucker for the holidays in pretty much any way, shape, and form, and the holiday releases from my favorite beauty brands are most definitely my weakest spot. Since I wasn’t overly impressed with Too Faced’s releases from holiday 2015, I swore I wasn’t going to get hooked this year..and then I saw the holiday collection. Christmas in New York is like a dream to me, and with the stunning shades and adorable packaging, I quickly broke my vow. I knew the collection had to be mine. I ended up buying all 3 eyeshadow sets, as I couldn’t decide on one. Today, we’re taking a look at the Grande Hotel 3 palette set.
The Too Faced Grande Hotel is a collection of 3 individual eyeshadow palettes (Eggnog Latte, Peppermint Mocha, and Gingerbread Cookie) that can be given as gifts (there’s even a To/From label on the back of each one) or can be kept as a set and includes a deluxe mini of Better Than Sex Mascara.
First, let’s talk about the packaging. Grande Hotel Cafe comes in a gorgeous box that’s shaped like a hotel you’d find in the heart of NYC. When you remove the roof and open the doors you see the stunning interior decorated with Christmas trees (complete with famous Too Faced products underneath them) and you’re clearly meant to be sitting at the hotel’s coffee bar, where you would order one of the holiday beverages the palettes are named after. It’s genius packaging, and I’m not going to lie, the packaging definitely helped sell me the products. Read more…
While I don’t have enough space, cash, or desire to throw a giant Halloween bash, I love celebrating seasons and holidays, and Halloween is no exception. I have a few decorations out, some spooky treats in the kitchen, and some of the latest Halloween goodies from Erin Condren in my office. Only EC could make Halloween fun and functional.
For those of you that don’t know, my all time favorite musical is Wicked. Wicked centers around Elphaba (more commonly known as the Wicked Witch of the West) and Glinda from the Wizard of Oz starting before the events that we know from the movie. It’s brilliantly written, the music is incredible, and I’ve been hooked for years. To say I’m obsessed is putting it lightly. When I lived at my parent’s house, I color matched my bedroom to the musical’s poster. My college senior recital was titled “Defying Gravity,” and I even got a lime green Ford Fiesta before it was cool (ok..it might not ever be cool, but there are definitely a lot more of them around now) because it was the perfect shade of “Elphaba green.” See? Obsessed!
When I saw one of the Halloween releases from Erin Condren had Wicked written on it, I knew I had to have the collection, so I picked up a few (okay..all) of the “Wicked Fun” items EC offered to give my office a little bit of a Halloween flair.
My Life Planners both got makeovers to stay current with the holiday, and while my blog planner is sporting last year’s October cover, my personal planner is sporting the new “Wicked Fun” cover in my favorite wicked colors: Elphaba green (aka to the rest of the world as lime green) and good old black.
I have been obsessed with the bound journals that EC released this year, so when I saw “Wicked fun” was offered as a journal cover as well, it went into the cart in the same custom colors as my ECLP cover. This journal proudly bears a quote from my favorite song in the musical, “Defying Gravity.” Not only does the journal make me smile, but it’s great for writing down my ideas for various Halloween festivities.
While my planners and notebooks rarely leave the office, the EC Halloween offerings can be used in other parts of the holiday too.
For some baked goods to serve at a party (or just to myself and the Mister), I had my sister (who is the baker at Deanna’s Delights) make and frost some yummy, festive cupcakes for my acrylic tray. While many people don’t necessarily think of purple as a Halloween color, I find it goes perfectly with my “Wicked Fun” acrylic tray insert from EC. I customized the colors so they felt a little more “Wicked the musical” and less wicked witch with the giant wart on her nose, and the purple and orange treats matched perfectly.
Holiday Tip: Add a few drops of food dye to your frosting or cake batter for an extra festive feel. You can give something as simple as boxed cake and canned frosting that extra special flare.
EC also has a gift label for every occasion, and Halloween is no exception. I decided on some with the bats to complete my Halloween collection, and they’re perfect for labeling the cookies I’d love to give to friends for the holiday. All you need is a clear plastic bag and delicious treats to put in them. Ta da! A cute, personal Halloween treat.
As with most EC products, the personalization and customization of their products is practically limitless, and Halloween is no exception. If you want to get your hands on these wicked fun goodies before they fly away, you should head to the site and order soon. First-time customers can rel=”nofollow” sign up using this link and get a coupon for $10 off their order.
What are some of your Halloween party or home decor tips?
*I was sent these products in collaboration with Erin Condren, but all opinions are my own. Using my referral link also grants me $10 credit to EC. Thanks for supporting my obsession and my blog*
It’s October! There’s a chill in the air, it’s officially acceptable to enjoy pumpkin spice everything, and sweaters are a wardrobe staple again. It’s my favorite time of year (except for the non-stop clouds and rain that we’ve had for a week now..that really needs to go away).
I’ll be honest: September was a really rough month. Out of all of the September goals I set for myself, I managed to achieve a whopping 1..ONE!! The goal I managed to achieve was to get my CMT story out there for the world to hear, and I did. The video is on my YouTube channel and has gotten a great response, so I’m thrilled about that. Everything else on that September goals list…well, I’d rather not talk about that..
But alas, it is a new month, which means it’s time for new goals (or if I’m honest, repeat goals with the intention of achieving them), so here we go! Read more…
Your repairman has his truck full of tools, a teacher has supplies, and even Batman has his utility belt. Everyone has some sort of toolkit so they can do their job to the best of their ability. Losing weight is no different. In order to successfully lose weight, it really helps to have a toolkit (or a utility belt, if you want to go the superhero route) to help you get the most out of your weight loss efforts. While everyone’s toolkit will look a little bit different based on personal preferences, I thought I’d share my tools with you to give you a basic guideline to help you create a toolkit of your very own. Some of my tools are actual physical items while others are more mental or non-tangible, but I find both categories to be equally important as I go along my journey to the healthiest me I can be.
I am never without a water bottle, and if for some reason I am, I promise I’m not happy about it. At any given time I have 2 “active” water bottles; one with a straw for while I’m at home, as I find I drink more water when it’s through a straw and one that is more secure for when I’m on the go. Hydration is so important, both for health and for weight loss, so I always have a water bottle nearby to encourage me to get my daily requirement of H2O.
A Food Scale
No matter which plan you use to lose weight, odds are it involves portioning your food in some way. I find this easiest when I’m using an electronic food scale. When meal time comes around, I just put the plate on the scale and can measure each meal component separately (hit the “zero” button to start fresh) and easily so I know exactly how many Smart Points (or calories) I put on my plate. I find there is a lot less room for error measuring the weight og your food rather than cups or tablespoons.
Whether you join Weight Watchers, Beach Body, you use My Fitness Pal, or you decide to just count calories on your own, you need to have some sort of plan when it comes to losing weight. You can’t just say “I’m going to lose weight” and have it magically happen (I wish!). You know there are going to be lifestyle changes and maybe even a sacrifice or two in order to see changes in your body, and to achieve that successfully, odds are you have some desired method to get there. That’s also known as a plan. Get one.
Sleep is another one of those life essentials, but it’s something that many of us take for granted or forget to place importance on. Have you ever noticed what happens to your food intake on a day that you don’t get enough sleep? It’s very likely that your day is played out in one of two scenarios. 1: You stick to your diet plan all day (good for you!), but you spend the day drowsy, grumpy, and likely overcaffeinated but still unable to perform to the best of your ability. Scenario 2: You are likely making poor food choices because you’re using food to not only satiate hunger but to gain extra energy to make up for the lack of sleep. Guess what type of foods we usually reach for.. sugary and fatty quick jolts of energy that last until the next time we can put something in our mouths to refuel. This is not helping your diet at all. Getting a quality night’s sleep as often as possible will help you stay away from impulse eating due to hunger. Get those Zzzzs to lose the lbs.
A Food Journal
I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. Studies have shown that people who write down what they eat will consume 30% fewer calories than people who don’t. Whether you use an app like Weight Watchers or My Fitness Pal or you decide to use the tried and true notebook and pen, use something to keep track of your food intake. This helps me to see what I’ve eaten, or more importantly, what I can still eat and remain on track.
A Goal (or several small goals)
Goals help keep me motivated. I typically set large goals (to get back to my goal weight) supported and broken up by smaller goals (to drink 100oz of water daily or to reach 12,500 steps) to help me stay on track. When we reach a goal we get to enjoy the positive feeling of accomplishing something, so smaller goals are great for giving us little things to accomplish while we work toward the bigger goal.
What is your “why?” In other words, why do you want to lose weight? Is it so you can run around and play with your children, so you look better and feel more confident naked? Maybe you just want to fit back into your favorite pair of jeans. Having a “why” is not the same as having a goal. Your “why” is the motivation behind your goals. It’s the big picture and the reason you got inspired to set your goal to lose weight in the first place. Once you’ve established your “why” take the time to embrace it. Leave yourself little motivational reminders that constantly inspire you to make the better food choice or to go for an extra walk. The “why” is the root of everything. If you haven’t figured out what it is yet, take the time to do that now.
A stash of go-to snacks
Once you’ve figured out your plan of action, it’s incredibly important to find your favorite foods in that plan. I have a stash of go to Weight Watchers friendly foods and snacks that are easily available should hunger strike in between meals. Having diet friendly snack options around is an easy way to save you from yourself at a time when willpower won’t necessarily be at its strongest.
An Activity Tracker
I love my Fitbit. It turns every single day into a goal and a game. Every day I compete with myself to make it to my daily step goal, but if I want to take the game to the next level, FitBit allows me to compete with friends. There have definitely been days where I’ve been pushed harder simply because I was in a race to get more steps than a friend of mine. All competitive games aside, an activity tracker is a great way for you to get more accurate insight on how much activity you’re actually getting on a daily basis. I’m willing to bet a pretty high percentage of people greatly overestimate how much activity they’re getting on a daily basis. Whether FitBit is your tracker of choice or you prefer another brand, I highly suggest investing in an activity tracker to help you take your weight loss efforts to the next level.
A selection of easy to make recipes
Just like being prepared for a snack attack is important, it’s also important to have a few easy, diet-friendly recipes that you enjoy enough to make regularly. When you have simple recipes to pick from it’s less of a hassle to make dinner at the end of a long day when your desire might be to run to the nearest fast food restaurant to grab dinner because the thought of making it is exhausting. In my house, we often eat basic chicken with quinoa and veggies on the weekend and I will often spend a few hours in the kitchen chopping all sorts of veggies and meat to meal prep for the entire week. Then, when dinner time for one comes around, all I have to do is turn on the oven and pull out one of my pre-made meals out of the fridge. Easy and healthy.
I am a very reward driven person. If I’m told I can earn something awesome for finishing a task, I’m much more likely to do it. I love applying this principle to losing weight. If I’ve had a good week where I stay on track and hit the gym regularly, I might treat myself to an at-home spa night. If I’ve lost 5 lbs, it’s probably time for a pedicure. 10 lbs = a new pair of cute pants. See what I’m getting at? It’s a little bit easier for me to think twice about the late night snack attack or skipping the gym when I know that new lipstick I’ve been dying to try is on the line. While the rewards themselves can look different for everyone, a rewards system is a nice way to treat yourself for a job well done.
Those are some of my favorite items in my weight loss tool kit. Becuase everyone’s journey is unique, everyone will have a slightly different tool kit. What is important is you find the set of tools that work best for you. A good tool kit is like an awesome sidekick. You might succeed without it, but it will be a heck of a lot easier to get the job done with the extra help.
What kind of items are in your weight loss tool kit?
With the weather cooling down I start to appreciate hot beverages even more than normal. Along with my hot coffee, there’s tea, apple cider, and of course, hot cocoa. The perfect addition to hot cocoa is obviously fluffy, delicious marshmallows.
Why am I telling you this in mid-September? I’m glad you asked!
I want to tell you about a Kickstarter that went live today by a local to me (Chicagoland) marshmallow company, XO Marshmallow. I happen to know one of the two lovely ladies that runs XO Marshmallow (Lindzi from The Trendy Sparrow), so I jumped at the chance to get a sneak peek at their latest creation and give it a try. Meet XO Marshmallow’s latest creation: the Monut!
The monut is XO Marshmallow’s delicious recipe transformed into a doughnut shape. Now, some of you may be asking “why do I want a marshmallow shaped like a doughnut?” Well, it just so happens that the size of these monuts happen to fit perfectly inside a mug, which means you can take your hot cocoa and marshmallows to a whole new level.
Since I didn’t have any hot cocoa laying around to have with my new treat, I decided to make some decaf coffee (my new thing if I want coffee in the afternoon. All in the effort to get better sleep.), although if you wanted an extra shot of sweetness in your morning cup, I say go for it. I made the coffee, added some chocolate salted caramel creamer (yum!) and put the cocoa dusted marshmallow monut on top. After a few minutes, it started to melt and the result was an amazingly delicious cup of afternoon coffee. It also gave me a very Instagram-worthy photo. 🙂
I ate the vanilla one on its own to get a true sense of what XO Marshmallows tasted like, and I was quite pleased. They were soft and delicious; not overly sweet, but they had a great flavor. I was quite impressed and immediately wished I had more flavors to try.
While this is their latest creation, XO Marshmellow has some awesome designer sounding flavors of their regular marshmallows too, such as salted caramel (which I really need to try), Kaluha coffee, matcha, honey lavender, and more.
Seriously, how amazing do all of those sound? Boozy champagne is perfect for a girl’s night out (or in!), and there’s even a beer flavored one, which would make a really interesting and unique gift for any beer lover in your life
XO Marshmallows are egg free, gluten free, dairy free (except salted caramel), and contain no high fructose! The ladies choose only the finest local ingredients to include in their marshmallow making, so it’s will truly be a gourmet experience. What a treat!
As I mentioned, today they launched their Kickstarter to help fund not only their Monut but their desire to become bigger and better. Lindzi and Kat are looking to get a bigger kitchen space as well as upgraded packaging, and equipment to help send XO Marshmallow to the next level, and you can help. Head over to their Kickstarter campaign and consider backing their project. They’ve got some great rewards for backing XO Marshmallow, which include Monuts and their original marshmallows in whatever flavor you want. I know that’s the route I’m going to go, as I’m now dying to try some other flavors and I can support these amazing lady bosses at the same time. It’s a win-win all around.
What flavor of XO Marshmallow would you be most interested in trying?
I was sent my monuts, but only after I expressed interest in helping these ladies get the word out. There should be more spreading the love and the word, don’t you think?
September is here! It’s the end of summer and the start of the fall season which means cooler weather, sweatshirts, and pumpkin spice everything. While I’m sad to see summer go (I know we technically have until the end of the month), I’m excited for the fall season to begin.
Break through my weight loss plateau: Sadly this was a no go. While I’m close, and haven’t gained above the plateau, I technically I still haven’t busted through it. We’ll be adding this to the list of September’s goals.
Establish a better nighttime routine: I’ve gotten really good at getting ready for bed and even getting in bed at a reasonable hour, so I’ll consider this a win, but of course things like routines are always changing and improving. Even though I’ve gotten good at the routine, that doesn’t mean my body cooperates and lets me sleep… that’s a whole different situation.
Read 3 books: I finished 2. Not too shabby.
Start blogging daily: I’d say I’m 80% there. I don’t post daily (not yet anyway), but I sat down and did something for the blog or channel most days. Still working on this one.
Break through my weight loss plateau
Rolling this one over from last month. It’s pretty self explanatory.
Read 2 books
Because clearly 3 was a little too ambitious. Granted, if I applied myself to a little more reading and a little less evening tv or poking at a game, I could do it, but still…baby steps.
Find and buy a standing desk
I don’t necessarily want a whole new desk, but I want a computer stand or something that I can put on top of my desk or a table that allows me to stand for a bit while I work. I told my husband this, and he’s 100% on board because he wants one too. It’s really difficult to be a blogger who should be sitting at a computer working and someone trying to lose weight who should be active and moving all the time, so this would be a great happy medium.
Establish an official work schedule
I am very good at procrastination. When I don’t have anywhere that I need to be at a certain time, it’s very easy for me to get distracted by social media, or a youtube video, or whatever, mainly because it ultimately doesn’t effect me much…except it really does. This month I want to work on my daily schedule, and establish more of a routine in my work, working out, and housewifing duties day to day. If I know that I have to have my butt in the chair to work by 10am (workout done, showered, etc), then I have to figure out what has to happen to get me there. This has been an ongoing battle, but back to school season really helps me put a fresh label on things, so September means its time to buckle down.
Put out my video on my CMT story
Fun fact: September is CMT awareness month. While I’ve talked about it on my blog, I have only mentioned and briefly described it on my channel, and I really feel compelled to dedicate a whole video to my life experience with the disease, as well as talking a little bit about what life is actually like with CMT. It’s a video where I will literally expose my weaknesses and show people what’s normally well hidden on camera, but as the biggest disease that no one knows about (1 in 2500 people have it), I feel like this video needs to happen.
Make a pumpkin cake
It’s September. It’s time to whip out the canned pumpkin and make a yummy, moist pumpkin cake. Don’t worry, this will happen closer to the end of the month when fall actually starts.
What are some of your goals for September? Do you feel like September is a fresh start month (kind of like new years) like I do?
Guys, tomorrow it’s September! Can you even believe it?? This month I have a few favorites I’ve been dying to share with you.
Urban Decay Naked Basics Palettes: I rediscovered both of my Urban Decay Naked Basics palettes and fell in love all over again. The matte (and two subtle shimmers) shades in the palettes are great for everyday wear. I found that when I didn’t really want to do my eyes, but want to have the no makeup look going on, creating an eye look with the shades in these palettes made my eyes look amazing without looking “done up.” I’m very pleased that I decided to dig these out of my drawers and I know I’ll be getting a lot more use out of them. The Naked Basics 2 is more cool toned than the original Naked Basics palette, but they’re both outstanding additions to any collection.
Bare Minerals Pro Powder Foundation: I wanted a new quick and easy foundation that (much like the eyeshadow) efficiently gave some coverage to flaws without making me look like I had a mask of face makeup on, and this new foundation by Bare Minerals did the trick. I did buy the brush that was released with this foundation. It’s a nice retractable brush that’s densely packed for better coverage. Do you need it? No, but I like that it’s covered so I can easily throw it in my purse.
Bare Minerals Gen Nude Products- I have a new lip obsession, and it’s the Bare Minerals Gen Nude Line. They have 3 different formulas, and I’m obsessed with them all. The product I’m loving least of this trio is the matte liquid lipstick, and it’s simply because I am not convinced that my lips can use matte liquid lipsticks, period. After trying quite a few formulas, this Gen Nude formula is light, smooth, and doesn’t feel the least bit drying. There is minimal transfer after it dries, and it’s comfortable to wear. Bonus: it smells amazing! Like a chocolate pudding pack I used to put in school lunches. My only issue is that I feel like it settles into my lines and defines them more, but I’ve had that issue with every single liquid matte lip I’ve tried, and it’s not nearly as bad compared to others.
The Gen Nude Radiant Lipsticks are absolutely divine. They go on buttery smooth, feel amazing, and have great shade options(medium coverage), and a glossy finish. I would reach for this product when I wanted to hydrate my lips, not just put on a dose of color. I love love LOVE these lipsticks. Read more…
It’s always a happy day when my Sephora Play! box comes in the mail. I didn’t do any posting about it last month, but I discovered a few new things that I love thanks to that box, so I figured why not start telling people whats in the subscription? Since I canceled my Birchbox subscription last month, my Sephora box is currently the only beauty subscription I currently have.
Each month Sephora has a theme, and August’s theme was “The Eye Openers.” As one who currently struggles with things like under eye circles and puffiness, I was anxious to see what was inside my box. Here’s what I found:
I am a huge fan of the MUFE Artist Shadows. They’re smooth, buttery, and blendable, so I was super excited to see this beautiful pink granite shade in my box. I was a little less excited when I discovered it was a shade I already had in my MUF Artist Palette Vol 1. Either way, it’s a beautiful color.