Splurge Of The Month

olivia-palermo-salvatore-ferragamo-liconacollection-custom-vara-varina-1My thoughts on kitten heels were as follows: never wear them! That is until I came across these Salvatore Ferragamo Vara heels. My weakness for shoes with bows blossomed when I saw these. The style of these shoes look like something that Jackie O would be rocking; sophistication coupled with style. To top it off, not only are you able to design your own shoe by picking out the material, color and hardware but you can also get your initials engraved on the sole of it. Talk about custom made! I would love to wear these to work with skirts and dresses that cut above the knee as well as with ankle-length pants. As much as I love my stilettos, sometimes you just want to be both stylish and comfortable!

263268_613672818644079_1617495024_nMy personally designed shoe would look like the ones in this picture; bisque colored shoe with an optic white bow and heel and glove hardware. They make a neutral outfit look so beautiful and feminine but at the same time would fit right in with a bold-colored one as well. For a price of $550, this would definitely have to be a splurge of the month for me! How would you design your shoe?

Advertisements

20 Minute At-Home Workout

I have been stepping up my work-out routine and eating healthier these last few months because my goal is to get some abs before the end of the summer. Something that I started doing a few weeks ago was stopped eating carbs after 1pm or 2 pm and stopped eating anything at all after 7pm or 8pm. Sometimes, if I am feeling extra hungry between the hours after dinner and before bedtime, I will snack on a few almonds to curb any cravings. But, Friday night is always my cheat day and I enjoy every minute of it!

In addition to eating healthier, I try to do some sort of work out about 4-5 times a week. Three days a week I take an outdoor boot camp class and the other two days I do something on my own. That includes hiking, biking, walking around the city (3-5 miles) or a quick 20 minute at home exercise to get my heart racing a bit. Below is an example of an exercise that I may do first thing in the morning between my boot camp days:                                                                                                                                                                      10 burpees, 10 squats, 10 double crunches
9 burpees, 9 squats, 9 double crunches
burpees8 squats8 double crunches
burpees, 7 squats, 7 double crunches
burpees, 6 squats, 6 double crunches
5 burpees, 5 squats, 5 double crunches
4 burpees, squats, 4 double crunches
3 burpees, 3 squats, 3 double crunches
2 burpees, 2 squats, 2 double crunches
1 burpees, 1 squats, 1 double crunches
                                                                                                                                                  I will usually keep the burpees but will often alternate the other two exercises with jumping squates, sit-ups, regular crunches, side crunches, etc. When doing these exercises, try to only take small breaks in between each rep if needed for water. Get exercising!

Toothpick Jean

When it comes to denim jeans I am more of a ‘splurger’ than a ‘saver,’ primarily because it is an item of clothing that I wear most often and keep in my closet for a long period of time. Having said that, I never pay full price for them. Last summer this changed when I was introduced to J. Crew’s toothpick jean and instantly fell in love. The fit, cut and color of the jean blinded me into paying full price for them. To this day, I still consider them to be one of my favorite pair of jeans and one of my best purchases.

45843_WD8367_mThis weekend, during my ‘no-shopping phase,’ I happened to wonder into a J. Crew store and, by force of the saleswomen and my friend, I purchased another pair of toothpick jeans (these), but this time in a pattern; a trend that I am loving right now! Because of the insane sale in the store, I ended up getting the jeans for under $50! Just like with the previous pair, I made sure to purchase them two sizes smaller than my actual size as they do run a bit big and stretch a little. There were easily 2-3 other colors and washes that I wanted to purchase, but decided to save those for another day (during my ‘yes shopping phase.’) I cannot wait to rock my new jeans with a chambray shirt and a pair of heels or oxfords.

Josie Maran Argan Tinted Moisturizer

s1506658-main-LheroI’ve written about my love for Josie Maran products before (here), so I was very excited when she came out with an Argon Tinted Moisturizer. I have been a devoted user of Laura Mercier’s tinted moisturizer (post on it here) for years but am always looking for something newer and better. The minute I purchased the Josie Maran tinted moisturizer, I ran home to try it. Sad to say, I was not pleased with the results. I tried applying it with a damp beauty blender but the result was a heavy, almost tacky and sticky mess. The product did not blend into my skin and left it looking dry and cakey. I immediately washed my face of the product and applied my tried and true Laura Mercier. A few days later, I decided to give the Josie Maran product another try but this time applied it with a kabuki brush hoping that it will blend the product in better. Unfortunately, I got the same exact result as I did with the beauty blender.

After reading reviews, it looks like this product may work better on oily skin, but my skin was not having it. I guess I am back on the hunt for something better than Laura Mercier!

Laser Hair Removal

I had been wanting to start the laser hair removal process for a number of years but was nervous about the side effects and high cost. About two years ago I was finally convinced by my co-workers to start the process. I ended up going to two different places for my laser treatments depending on where I found the best deals and reviews. Now that I am done with my treatments, I can comfortably discuss my results and conclusions.

Alma_Harmony_XL_Laser_Machine__37077_zoomI had a few sections of my body, including my thighs, done at an office that used the Alma XL (by Harmony) 810 nanometers (red wave length) machine. I had purchased the recommended six sessions for each of my body parts and made appointments every 6-8 weeks as recommended. The pain with this machine was mostly very low to non-existent and felt like I was getting a warm ultrasound.  After completing all of my sessions, I was not pleased with my results as my hair was growing back just as thick, dark and fast as it was prior to the sessions. After complaining to the salon, they agreed to give me a few complimentary sessions for my thighs to figure out why I was not getting any results. With the complimentary sessions, the specialists increased the power on the machine and went over each section on my thighs multiple times. With this intensity, I finally started seeing some results. Now that I am done with the complimentary sessions, I can say that my results are better than they were before, but not great. This machine was obviously not strong enough for me.

Candela_GentleMax_Laser__11882_zoomI decided to get my lower legs done with the Gentle MAX dual wavelength 755 nm Alexandrite at another location. This machine was painful; so painful that I had the specialist stop every few seconds to give me a break from the pain. It felt like a million rubber bands hitting my skin at the same time. I once again purchased the recommended six sessions for my lower legs and made appointments every 6-8 weeks. After I was done with all the sessions, the reduction in hair growth was noticeable and the results were significantly better than with the other machine. Today, about a year later, I still have to shave my legs but not as frequently as I had to in the past and the hair grows in lighter and thinner than it did before the treatments. I do plan on purchasing additional sessions for my lower legs so that I can get even better results. I believe that this machine is one of the most effective laser machines out there and I definitely recommend it over the previous machine.

If you are interested in getting laser hair removal done, make sure you do plenty of research on both the salon and the machines they use and ask lots of questions!

This vs That

s1395292-main-LheroI purchased the Yves Saint Lauren Rouge Pur Couture Vernis À Lèvres Glossy Stain (in 17 Encre Rose) back in the fall after trying it on in a local department store and being amazed by its staying power, pigmentation and moisture. My biggest pet peeve is having to constantly reapply my lip product when I am out at an event. This lip product has the best of both worlds: it glides on like a gloss but stays on like a lip stain. When first applying the lip color, it feels extremely lightweight and the final color does not come out until it fully melts into your lips (which I love!) Even better, it stays on your lips hours after applying it and is not sticky at all. To give my lips even more shine, I will sometimes add a coat of sheer pink gloss over top of it ( I use this.) I give this product an A+!

300A few months ago, L’Oreal came out with a lip product very similar to the YSL one; the L’Oreal Colour Riche Caresse Wet Shine Stain. Although I am not usually a big fan of drugstore lip products (again because of their lack of staying power), I decided to give this lip product a try as YSL and L’Oreal are the same company. When first applying the lip product, it feels as lightweight as the YSL product but a lot stickier. Luckily, after a few seconds, the stickiness goes away. This product is definitely not as pigmented or as long lasting as the YSL one and looks to me more like a tinted gloss than a stain. Lastly, it does dry out my lips a bit and needs a coat of chapstick once the color wears off. I give this product a C+/B-.

Final Judgement:  I cannot say enough great things about the YSL lip product and believe that it is worth the $34 price tag. I know that when I put on the YSL glossy stain, I do not need to worry about constantly reapplying it. With the L’Oreal shine stain you cannot expect much from it with a price tag of $9.99. This is a product that I would only wear casually during the day when I am not looking  to have much color on my lips and will not mind reapplying it frequently.

Calorie Conscious Chocolate Cake

Just like my grandfather, I am not fully satisfied with my meal unless I have something sweet afterwards. For this reason, I am always looking for calorie conscious dessert recipes. Below is a recipe for a chocolate cake given to me by my mom (thanks mom!) This is the perfect dessert to enjoy after a meal because it is not too sweet and not too heavy. To make it even lighter, I substitute almond milk with regular milk to make it a dairy-free dessert. You will also notice that the recipe calls for apple sauce in place of oil; my favorite substitution in everything I bake! To top it off, I added some powdered sugar and a strawberry garnish. Trust me when I tell you that this dessert will be gone in a day!

Bon Appétit!

photo

Ingredients:                                                                                                                           3/4 cup sugar                                                                                                                          1 egg                                                                                                                                        1 cup flour                                                                                                                              1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder                                                                                  1/2 teaspoon baking soda                                                                                                   1/4 teaspoon baking powder                                                                                               1/4 teaspoon salt                                                                                                                     1 cup milk (or almond milk)                                                                                                  1/3 cup apple sauce

Directions                                                                                                                          Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray spring-form pan (or any other similar baking pan) with nonstick cooking spray.

In a small bowl, beat the sugar and egg at high speed with an electric mixer until fully combined.

In a medium bowl, mix the milk and apple sauce until combined.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Gradually add the other two mixtures from the small and medium bowls into the large mixture. Mix together until smooth.

Pour the mixture into the spring-form pan and bake for 30 minutes (check to make sure it is fully baked by dipping a toothpick in the center of the cake. If the toothpick comes out clean, it is ready to enjoy!)