Thursday, December 18, 2014

Burn Notice: Holiday Candle Favorites

While I love candles in the fall, my absolute favorite time of year to burn them is during the Holidays. They add that special finishing touch of ambiance to a room that really gets me in the Holiday Spirit. Here's a roundup of my seasonal favorites:

Bath & Body Works Holly Jolly Christmas - B&BW describes this scent as "a festive blend of bright mandarin, red pomegranate and fresh balsam." Its a woodsy scent, like a men's cologne mixed with pine trees. The citrus notes lighten it up and soften the fragrance making smell perfect for the Holidays. The packaging couldn't get any cuter either.

Bath & Body Works Pumpkin Gingerbread - If you're like me and aren't ready to say goodbye to all things Pumpkin once December rolls around, this candle is for you. Hey, they are still serving the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks so I figure, its ok! B&BW describes the scent as "just-baked gingerbread, golden vanilla and fresh creamy pumpkin." Its very savory smelling. The strongest notes are gingerbread and molasses but there is a background hint of pumpkin spice which mellows it out a bit and makes it unique.

Bath & Body Works Fresh Balsam - As the name suggests, this is a fresh pine scented candle. It smells just like a Christmas Tree, like if you somehow stuffed an entire tree into a tiny jar. With that being said, it's the perfect amount of pine scent that isn't too overwhelming. We have a natural tree that smells amazing but this just gives it an extra kick. I haven't had one of the mason jar candles before and this is just so cute. The one wick doesn't burn down as evenly as B&BW's three wick candles but I've been burning it a lot this month and its only about a quarter of the way down, so it's a slow burn. This is one I can see myself repurchasing year after year.

Yankee Candle Christmas Cookie - Yankee describes this candle as "buttery rich, vanilla scented, holiday sugar cookies." This is an oldie but a goodie. I've bought this candle again and again. Its one of those quintessential holiday scents that really get me in the Holiday spirit. As the name intents, it smells like fresh baked cookies. Its a warm and sweet scent that wafts throughout the house, just like fresh baked cookies. This one can get dangerous because it just makes me crave Holiday sweets and I end up baking. I blame the candle!

Bath & Body Works Marshmallow Fireside - This one is actually part of B&BW's fall line but I like burning it during the holidays. The scent is pretty unique, its a mixture of sweet marshmallows, smokey campfire and a slight hint of woodsy cologne. Its one of those truly calming scents. I love to burn this in the evening after getting home from work to wind down.

A lit candle is that perfect homey finishing touch to a room during the holidays. There's nothing like lighting a candle, turning off the lights and settling down to watch a Christmas movie. Do you burn candles during the holidays? What are your favorite scents?

Friday, December 12, 2014

A New York Minute

Last weekend we visited our friends, Lindsay & Bart, who live in NYC. We drove up early Saturday morning and stayed the weekend with them at their apartment on Roosevelt Island. Unfortunately, it wasn't the sunny weather we were hoping for. It poured down rain all day Saturday but we didn't let that stop us.

First order of business was to venture out and look for show tickets for that night. We stopped by a few box offices and checked out the TKTS booth but unfortunately we couldn't find any of the shows we wanted to see at the time and price point we were looking for. Even though it was raining, we still had fun walking around the theater district. The photo above is inside the Studio 54 Theater where Cabaret is playing. It was cool taking a peek inside what was once the famous Disco.

A high point on my list was going to Rockefeller Center to see the giant Christmas Tree! There were a million people around with umbrellas so I couldn't get a great picture but the tree is still as spectacular as I remember it, even in the rain.

Later on we headed back out for the night's activities. Bloomingdale's just looked so pretty and I had to stop and take a picture. I'm pretty sure this is the one from the movie Serendipity. 

We headed to the East Village for dinner and a comedy show. Janeane Garofalo was the headliner at EastVille Comedy Club. Her set was not quite what I was expecting. It was crazy and all over the place but really kooky and funny at the same time. One things for sure, shes still got that 90's sarcasm going for her. She was chatty and engaged with the audience and it seemed like a lot of her comedy was off the cuff. Mike was excited because at one point during the show she came out in the audience and put her hand on his shoulder, Celebrity moment! There were four other acts that followed, all hysterical. Judah Friedlander was also supposed to perform but never came out so we were a little bummed about that.

The next morning we went to the cutest place for breakfast called Alice's Tea Cup. It was all Alice in Wonderland themed with Tea and Scones. It was funny because I ended up getting coffee and their coffee comes in a giant mug. A far cry from the dainty little teacups at the table but it was much appreciated! The food was amazing too. I had Pumpkin Pancakes and Mike had Eggs Benedict on a Scone, yummy!

After Breakfast we walked back to the tram. Its was so funny to see Christmas Trees being sold on the side of the road at a Florist shop.

In what seemed like a blink of an eye it was Sunday afternoon and time to head home. It was a quick weekend, but so worth it to see NYC at Christmas and spend time with some great friends.

Friday, December 5, 2014

November Beauty Favorites

So its December, how the heck did did that happen? It seems like I blinked and Fall was over. The last favorites post I did was back in September that went over my favorite summer products. Although I had originally thought I'd be doing these posts once a month, that clearly didn't happen. More realistically I plan on posting these sporadically when I feel I have a group of stand out products to recommend and talk about.

Here's what made the list this month:

MAC Mystical Lipstick - This was part of the Alluring Aquatics collection that came out over the summer. MAC describes the color as a mid-tone creamy rose with a creamsheen finish. This has been my go-to, don't have to think about it, shade all month. Its a neutral color that goes nicely with every look. I think its more of a fall/winter color than a summer color since its a bit darker in tone. It is creamy and comfortable to wear. 

NARS One Night Stand Cheek Palette -Sorry, another limited edition product. I promise the rest are not! This came out with last year's Holiday Guy Bourdin collection. I remember I bought it during the 2013 VIB sale. I was obsessed when I first got this but then I kind of forgot about it until recently. This is perfect for traveling. I toss this in my makeup bag and I'm covered for face color. It has four blush shades, a bronzer and a highlight. The standout of the palette is the highlight shade, Devotee. Its the prettiest pink-beige color with a frost finish. Perfect for the Holidays. NARS comes out with one of these palettes every year for the Holidays. I think this year's palette, which is very similar, may still be available. Its called Virtual Domination.

NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base - This is the holy grail of eyeshadow primers. If you have oily eyelids, this stuff is for you. My eyeshadow typically looks good for the first few hours after I apply it then it starts to crease. Not with this! My eye makeup lasts and looks fresh all day. I had received a sample of this a while back and was immediately wowed but I just couldn't justify purchasing the full size since I have so many free-with-purchase travel size primers from various brands. I'd been getting really frustrated lately with my eyeshadow not holding up all day, so when this year's VIB sale rolled around I finally broke down and ordered this. It is so worth it.

L'Oreal Amber Rush Infallible Eyeshadow - This is a beautiful rose gold color with a metallic finish that can be worn wet or dry. The consistency of the Infallible Eyeshadows is unique - its like a cross between a loose and pressed pigment. You get the color payoff and blendability of a loose pigment with out the mess. Win, win! This shade in particular is one of those magical shades you can use for a one shadow look. It looks great on the lid and in the crease. It gives a multidimensional effect that makes it look like you are wearing more than one color. If I do want a more definition in the crease I'll just add a bit of bronzer and I'm good to go.

Mario Badesco Facial Spray - This is described as a refreshing and hydrating facial mist that is a pick me up for dehydrated, tight and uncomfortable skin. I use this as my toner. Its hydrating and moisturizing to my skin and leaves it feeling fresh. The small is amazing, like fresh Roses. I've heard that you can use this as a makeup setting spray but I haven't tried it for that.

By Terry Baume de Rose - I received this as a sample from Beautylish. I haven't been able to put it down since I got it. This brand is fairly new to the US and supposedly has a cult following in France. I can see why. This stuff is amazing. So thick and creamy and smells like a bouquet of fresh roses. I apply this before bed and it makes my lips so soft and feel amazing when I get up. I don't know if I'll purchase a full size one because the price is just out of control. We'll see how much I miss it when its all gone!

Urban Decay Naked Skin Ultra Definition Finishing Powder - This is a finely milled loose powder with a natural satin finish. The word silk comes to mind. Since it is so fine, it never looks cakey and it blends into the skin seamlessly Another great thing about this powder is its ability to blur imperfections. It does a great job of minimizing pores and giving my skin a smooth appearance. The only thing I don't love about this is that the opening is a bit small. I use a massive powder brush to apply so it doesn't fit in all the way. But this stuff is amazing so I make do!

Clearly I'm loving everything rose colored and scented this month. What have you been loving lately?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Living Room Reveal

I'm so excited to finally share one of the most loved spaces of our home, our living room. Its actually our living room/dining room combo. Living in a 1950's Cape-Style house you sometimes have to get creative with your space. We don't have a separate dining room and the way our kitchen is set up there is no place to put a table so we've combined the space with our living room.

Here's the dining room side:

We have our table and chairs along with our hutch set up in the corner of the room to delineate a dining area. The table and chairs was actually the set I used growing up. When my parents moved last year they asked if we wanted it. We had a larger rectangular table in this area previously that went with the Hutch but it was just a little large for the space so I was happy to downsize to a smaller table. I think it still goes nicely with the hutch. It does have a leaf so we can open it up and add more chairs if we have guests over.

Before I get ahead of myself here's what the paint in here looked like before..

Eek! I was debating even posting a before picture because its so awful. I snapped this picture just before we started to paint. The worst part of it is that this green was self-inflicted, we painted the room this color if you can believe it! I will say that it always photographed awful. I swear it wasn't this intense in person, but it was still pretty bad.

When we moved into our house (almost 7 years ago, wow!) this was one of the first home projects we did. The room was originally painted a dusty green and the trim was painted brown (The previous owners painted ALL the trim in our house weird colors like brown, maroon, gray...not sure what they were thinking..) Anyways, I actually liked the wall color but there were a lot of holes from where the previous owners had things hanging so we decided to re-paint.

Being paint novices, and living in a time before pinterest, we just picked a paint chip, swatched a small area and went for it. About halfway through the project I could tell we'd made a mistake. What looked good in a small swatch wasn't translating well for a whole room. We finished the project anyways and I've been not-so-crazy about it ever since. Whats worse is that the paint continues down the front hallway and up our stairwell. It took such a long time to paint the first time that we just decided to live with it for a while rather than do all that work again.

Finally last spring I finally convinced Mike to help me re-paint. Coming off that crazy green, I knew I wanted something neutral this time around. The new color is Benjamin Moore Clay Beige. Its a warm gray-beige. It looks more gray or more beige depending on the lighting in the room. Its a really beautiful, neutral color.

Its crazy how much a new coat of paint can change the feel of the room. It is so light and bright now!

One of the best things about painting with a neutral color is that it leaves you with so many options for decor. I decided on blue as an accent color and worked to add pops of color back into the room. One of the first ways I did this was through throw pillows. We've had the quatrefoil print rug for a few years and I wanted to get some fun throw pillows to compliment it. I chose to mix trellis and ikat patterns that are all very different but I think together they somehow make sense. I've been loving mixing patterns lately.

Besides throw pillows I added some more pops of color through fresh flowers, candles and coffee table books. Its those finishing touches that made the room feel complete.

We've been working on this space little by little since we painted last spring. Its definitely "lived in". Its not perfect with a lot of mix-matched furniture but I think it the pieces oddly work together. I've had so much fun revamping this space. Its not the biggest space, but it's cozy and we've made it work for us. We've come a long way since the green monster! Hope you enjoyed this peek into our living room/dining room!


Curtains: Target
Monogram Pillow: Sew Gracious on Etsy
Patterned Pillows: Say it with Pillows on Etsy
Candles: Anthropologie
Coffee Table Books: Amazon
Tray: Home Goods
Rug: Target
Frames: Crate & Barrel
Table Runner: Ikea
Coasters: Anthropologie
Fish Bowl Vase: Home Goods
Bud Vase: Crate & Barrel

Friday, November 21, 2014

IT Cosmetics Brushes for ULTA Review

It Cosmetics has come out with three new brush collections that are available exclusively at Ulta. There are three different collections: Airbrush Essentials, Live Beauty Fully and Velvet Luxe. They are all about delivering a high quality brush that leave a flawless finish. Here are the three I chose:

Live Beauty Fully All Over Powder Brush #211 - This is a jumbo-sized fluffy round brush. I use it for applying setting powder by lightly buffing my T-zone, inner cheeks and jawline. The bristles don't grab too much product when I dip it into a pressed powder which helps create a flawless finish. With its buttery soft bristles, you truly feel pampered when using this brush. This was the priciest of the three brushes, retailing for $40. It takes some of the sting away knowing that with every brush purchased from the Live Beauty Fully line, IT donates a brush to the Look Good, Feel Better foundation, a charity that supports women living with cancer.

Velvet Luxe LBD Foundation Brush #302 - This is part of the Velvet Luxe Blurring Collection. As the name intends, this line is very fancy. The brush handle has a soft-touch grip (think Nars packaging) and is ergonomically correct.  Each brush even comes with a velvet pouch. The brush features a medium domed brush head designed to blend foundation evenly across your face. It reminds me of a more luxurious version of the Real Techniques expert face brush. The blend is seamless and I don't have any problems with streaking as I do with the expert face brush. The brush head is also a bit larger. The brush itself is made up of dense micro-fine anti-microbial optical blurring hair. The bristles seem to soak up hardly any product which means I'm wasting less foundation.

Velvet Luxe Plush Blush Brush #316 - This is a custom cut angled brush that is designed to softly blend blush into your skin for a natural flushed complexion. I was looking for a synthetic version of my beloved Sigma F40. Although I do like this brush, I find that the extreme softness of the bristles are actually a hindrance in this case. My usual method of applying blush is I dust it onto the apples of my cheeks and then go back in and blend it out with the same brush without any additional product. This gives me a natural and uplifted finish. The bristles on this brush are just too soft to do this and I find myself having to go back in with a Kabuki to fully blend my blush.

There are over 60 brushes in the three lines so these are just the tip of the iceberg. Have you tried any of the new IT Brushes?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Burn Notice: My Favorite Fall Candles

I love all things decorating and home decor. While I like things to look put together and pretty, I also want our home to be cozy. That's why I always look to candles to add the perfect finishing touch to a room. The season that I find myself burning candles the most is in the fall. Here's a roundup of my seasonal favorites:

Yankee Candle Spiced Pumpkin - Yankee describes this scent as "pumpkins baked in simmering spices of clove, nutmeg and sweetened with cinnamon and brown sugar". To me this scent is heavy on the spice, light on the pumpkin. The spicy notes makes this a nice transitional candle as we approach the holidays. It really makes me think of Thanksgiving and Pumpkin Pie, which might be why I really love burning this in the kitchen. It has a great throw that permeates throughout the whole house.

Beanpod Chai Tea - As fall rolls around I start to crave Tea and Chai Tea is my absolute favorite. So when I saw this candle I knew I had to take it home. It has a nutty scent with notes of Ginger and a twist of citrus and vanilla, a lovely mild scent.

Bath & Body Works Leaves - It was this candle that started my love affair with Bath & Body Works candles. I grew up using their soaps and lotions but really hadn't been into the store in a few years. I had no idea they even sold candles. I had heard rave reviews on this candle so I finally went into the store to check it out. I was astonished with all the amazing candles they had to offer and I've been a convert ever since! B&BW describes this scent as a blend of golden nectar, red apple and spiced berries. It is the most classic fall scent that reminds me of an apple pie. As with all the B&BW candles, the burn is flawless. It burns evenly all the way down to the last drop.

Bath & Body Works Autumn - B&BW describes this candle as blending the scents of dark pomegranate, red delicious apple and juicy fig. It reminds me of a less spicy version of the Leaves candle, it is a more pure apple scent. This one has the prettiest packing of the bunch with the embossed gold leaves. The lid is topped with two decorative leaves that make it extra special.

Bath & Body Works Sweater Weather - B&BW describes this candle as a blend of eucalyptus, juniper berry and fresh sage. This is the strongest scent of the bunch. I'll admit that it took some getting used to but now I love it. The scent is hard to describe. The word that comes to mind is crisp. It is a very cozy scent that freshens the whole house. Theres almost has a hint of musk in there, like a nice nice men's cologne. This has the best throw out of the five. It makes the whole house smell like a crisp autumn breeze. If you aren't into the pumpkin and apple fall scents, this ones for you.

Have you indulged in any seasonal candles this fall?