Wednesday, April 29, 2015

DON'T KNOW WHAT TO GET MOM? I GOT YOU.

Mothers Day Gift Guide

With Mother’s Day quickly approaching it can be tough to find the perfect present for your Mom.  It’s kind of a big deal, I mean this is the woman who gave birth to you after all.  But no pressure.  To make the gifting process as easy as possible I put together a rocking gift guide with items that any Mother would love.  May 10th will be here in no time so we better get shopping…   

First is this awesome Window Herb Garden made of reclaimed barn wood.  The kit comes with basil, dill, oregano, cilantro, thyme, and parsley seeds and compressed soil disks.  Any Mom with a green thumb would love this planter.  Next I wanted to feature an awesome book that has been gaining popularity, Eat Pretty: Nutrition for Beauty, Inside and Out by Jolene Hart.  The non-fiction text looks at the connection between what we put in our mouth and the condition of our skin and overall health.  Very interesting read.  Now an item for the Mom who loves luxury skincare is the Clarisonic Mia3 White Caudalie Set.  Accompanied by a full range of Caudalie products the Clarisonic is an amazing skincare tool she can use for years and this set is a great value.  And if Mom is in need of a new fragrance why not gift her with the fresh and floral See By Chloe Eau Fraiche parfum. Definitely a favorite scent of mine at the moment.  And speaking of scents what could be more luxurious than a Jo Malone candle?  These candles smell amazing and I love this one in Peony & Blush Suede, the perfect scent for spring.  And while were on the beauty bandwagon I feel like you can never go wrong with gifting someone a LUSH gift set.  Their products are all natural, smell amazing, and do wonders for the skin.  This ‘Love You Mom Gift Set’ includes a Yummy Mummy Shower Gel, Helping Hands Lotion, a Yummy Mummy Body Conditioner, and a Love You Mom Soap. 

My Mom visits the farmer’s market in Syracuse every Sunday and I feel like she would love this Market Tote from J.Crew.  It could also be used as a great beach bag and who doesn't love a versatile tote.  (For 40% off use code SALETHERAPY) And this Kate Spade Dainty Sparklers Bar Pendant gives me all the feels.  I love simplistic jewelry that is timeless and this gorgeous necklace will go with everything.  Now I love to give people gifts they normally wouldn’t buy themselves and I think good quality makeup brushes are a great example of that.  This Teddy Bear Brush Set from Too Faced comes with a multi-task face brush and four eye shadow brushes.  If you have not felt these brushes you need to, they are the softest brushes I have ever used and superb quality.  Have a sporty Mom?  A FitBit would be perfect.  A tool that serves as a watch, heart rate tracker, pedometer, and sleep monitor rolled into one.  What’s not to love.  Last but not least are a comfy pair of pajamas.  I feel like every year my Mom asks for pajamas (how many pajama sets do you need woman?!), but I like to please and this Jersey Pajama Set from Splendid is just dreamy.  I may also be picking up a set for myself, shhh.

Mother and Daughter
Here's a pic of me and my Mom just after I signed the lease on my new apartment in Tampa!

I hope you enjoyed this gift guide for Mother's day and you spot something that would be perfect for your Mom.  I also want to take a moment to acknowledge my own wonderful mother and thank her for everything she has done for me.  Thank you for always being there for me and supporting me in my endeavors.  This day is to celebrate you and I don't know what I would do without you in my life!  Happy early mother's day to all the wonderful mothers out there!!
xoxo Nicole

Monday, April 27, 2015

A BEAUTY FOR BROWN EYES.

Bobbi Brown Eyeshadow Cognac
Swatch Bobbi Brown Eyeshadow Cognac

Let me tell you about one of my favorite eye shadows for brown eyes.  It’s a real stunner.  Bobbi Brown’s Metallic Eye Shadow in ‘Cognac’ is a shimmering deep chocolate brown with red undertones that compliments my brown peepers perfectly, if I do say so myself.  Typically purple, green, and navy hues compliment brown eyes and this shadow falls somewhere in the purple family, but with enough brown undertones to give the effect of a wine colored brown/red bordering on burgundy.  It’s quite a unique shade and unlike anything I own in my collection.  The Bobbi Brown Metallic shadows provide a subtle shimmer that is never glittery and can be applied both wet and dry.  This shadow has a beautiful velvety texture that is highly pigmented and I barely have to tap my brush on the shadow to obtain rich color.  Thus if you invest in this shadow it will last you a very long time.  Probably forever.  Now I like to wear this on my lower lash line applied with a pencil brush or on the outer V of my top lid to add some depth to a smokey look.  I have found that if I try to apply it to the entire lid it can come off a little chalky, thus it’s better as an accent shadow or used as a liner in my opinion.   When paired with a primer this shadow has amazing wear on and lasts all day with little to no fading or creasing.  The metallic shadows are sold as single pans, but you could also pop them into your own custom palette that Bobbi Brown sells seperately.  Each shadow retails for $24.00 for 0.09oz of product.

Wearing Bobbi Brown Metallic Eyeshadow Cognac
As much as I wish sometimes I had gorgeous green or blue eyes, we all know we got to work with what we got.  And I feel like I’m always on the hunt for shadows that will bring out my big brown eyes.  I can’t recommend this Cognac shade enough and I feel like I hit the jackpot when I picked it up on a whim a couple months back.  if you have yet to try out Bobbi Brown’s eye shadows you are missing out.  She produces such high quality cosmetics and two of my other favorite shadows of hers are ‘Toast’ and ‘Camel’, both neutral mattes.  Now I know this post solely highlighted brown eyes, but I was thinking about doing a post highlighting what eye shadow and liner shades work best with different eye colors.  Is that something you would be interested in seeing?  Let me know in the comments below!  I hope you all had a wonderful weekend, and let’s try to get through this Monday together.  A cinnamon dolce latte from Starbucks is definitely calling my name…

Friday, April 24, 2015

I LIKED IT SO MUCH I BOUGHT THREE...

Garnier Fructis Dry Shampoo

In need of some oomph for fine, limp locks?  I got what you need. For this week's Friday Favorite I'm featuring a product that has been a staple in my haircare routine for years.  Let me introduce to you the Garnier Fructis Volume Extend Instant Bodifier Dry Shampoo for fine or flat hair.  It's like a texturizing spray and a dry shampoo rolled into one.  It's awesome.  And the best part?  It's only $5 a bottle!  Now where do I start with my love for this stuff.... Fruity and tropical scent? Check. Adds volume and texture? Check.  Absorbs oil without leaving a white residue in my hair? Check.  I've tried so many dry shampoos on the market; Suave, Herbal Essences, Batiste, Oscar Blandi, and trust me when I say this is the best of the best.  If you are looking for a product to give second day hair some oomph, absorb oils, and have hair on the finer side you will love this stuff.  Now do I feel like my hair looks like it’s freshly washed after using this stuff?  Well no, but I think that’s an unfair standard to hold any dry shampoo to.  For me, I try to wash my hair every other day because of everything we have heard about the damage of washing hair daily so on the days I don’t wash this is great for reviving and refreshing my locks.  I just spray on my roots and it gives great texture and volume that lasts throughout the day. There are only two down sides to this product.  First, it’s hard to find.  I haven't been able to find it at my local drugstores or Target recently and the only place I have been able to track it down has been Amazon.  (Hence me stocking up and buying three.  The obsession is real.)  The second drawback is that I do go through a bottle fairly quickly.  With every other day use I probably go through a bottle in two months or so.  Nevertheless I still think this dry shampoo is a rock star.

Garnier Fructis Dry Shampoo Review

I hope you guys enjoyed this week's Friday Favorite and will give this dry shampoo a try.  Isn't it the best when you find products at the drugstore you love and they work even better than their expensive counterparts?!  Maybe it's just me that gets this excited about this stuff.  But on a more personal note, I wanted to apologize for the lack of blog content this week.  My grandfather passed away last week and I had been spending time in New York with family.  Always a tough time losing a loved one, but it was great to be around my friends & family and back home in Syracuse.  For me, losing someone always serves as a reminder to live each day to the fullest and never take anything for granted.    Thanks so much for stopping by and I hope you all are having a wonderful week and have a fun filled weekend planned!  
xoxo Nicole

Saturday, April 18, 2015

STOP EVERYTHING, SEPHORA IS HAVING A SALE...

Sephora Sale Picks

There is nothing I love more than a sale.  And what’s the best kind of sale….well a Sephora sale of course!  My go-to retailer for all things makeup, hair, and skincare rarely has discounts so this is kind of a big deal.  I shared below what I plan on picking up and featured some of my favorite beauty items of the moment.  I also included all coupon codes so you can take full advantage.  Hope you enjoy!
  1. LIVING PROOF Perfect Hair Day 5-in-1 Styling Treatment - Described as "An oil-and silicone-free styling treatment that provides volume, smoothness, conditioning, strength, and polish in one easy step" this multi-tasker has been receiving quite the hype around the beauty community.  I can't wait to try it out, and at only $15 it won't break the bank either.  
  2. COVER FX Custom Cover Drops - Recently launched, this dropper bottle contains concentrated pigments that you can blend with any of your moisturizers, serums, oils, primers, or foundations to achieve your desired coverage.  At $44 this is a unique new product and definitely something I'm interested in trying out.  They also offer a very extensive color range to ensure anyone can find their perfect color match.  
  3. NAILS INC. (Victoria Beckham X Nails Inc.) in Bamboo White -  This nail lacquer is pricey at $25.00, but I have heard such good things about this collaboration that I have to try it out.  These nail polishes contain bamboo extract which help nails regain their natural shine, reduces nail ridges and imperfections, and promotes nail growth.  And this shade is just the perfect nude/white that will go with everythinggg.
  4. Beauty Blender - The original that started it all...  I have been using the Real Techniques Complexion sponge and I think it's time for me to step up my game.  Is the original Beauty Blender at $19.95 going to be everything I've dreamt of and more?  I sure hope so.
  5. Bobbi Brown Beach Fragrance - This fragrance is the epitome of summer.  Harnessing an intoxicating blend of jasmine, sea spray, and mandarin, this eau de parfum is what I live in during the summer months.  This 1.7oz bottle retails for $72.00, but if you're interested in trying it out at a lower price they also offer a $25.00 rollerball version.
  6. BareMinerals Faux Tan Body Sunless Body Tanner - I am in desperate need of some fake tanner this time of year.  I have heard great things about this product and am taking the plunge into the faux tanner realm.  This gradual sunless body tanner, at $26, claims it's easy to apply, won't leave your limbs looking streaky, and provides hydration to the skin with aloe vera.   
  7. Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette - Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders are high-tech, soft-focus finishing powders that aim to recreate the most exquisitely flattering types of light.   This pallete priced at $58.00, includes three of the coveted powders in Incandescent Light, Dim Light, and Radiant Light.  This palette is perfect because it has a shade that is ideal for an all over setting powder, a bronzy shade that can be used for subtle contouring, and a gorgeous highlight.  I'm ready for my close-up.
  8. Marc Jacobs Beauty Blacquer is Better Eye Defining Essentials - This set includes deluxe sizes of three of Marc Jacobs favorites: a Magic Marc'er Precision Pen Eyeliner in Blacquer, Highliner in Blacquer, and their O!Mega Lash Volumizing Mascara.  I have been wanting to try some more of Marc Jacobs beauty products and this gift set was just calling my name.  At only $32.00 it's a steal.
  9. NARS Satin Lip Pencil in Luxemborg - I have a confession to make, I'm a NARS lip pencil addict.  These $26 pencils are opaque, apply smoothly, and are never drying. I'm so excited to add Luxemborg to my collection because it's the perfect statement lip for spring.  It's a gorgeous bright pink/red stunner that could work with any skin tone.     
Coupon Codes:
Beauty Insiders 10% off use code BILOVE through Monday 4/20
VIBs 15% off use code VIBLOVE through Tuesday 4/21
VIB Rouge 15% off use code ROUGELOVE through Tuesday 4/21

I hope you guys enjoyed my picks and take advantage of this great sale!  It is so rare for Sephora to have a sale, so as you can see I plan on taking full advantage.  (And don't worry if you splurge your secret is safe with me.)  We all deserve to treat ourselves once in a while right??  Hope you are having a great weekend and as always thank you so much for stopping by!
xoxo Nicole

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

READY TO GET YOUR JUICE ON?

Green Juice Recipe

With bikini season around the corner what better time to get that health kick underway.  Whenever I feel like I have fallen off the wagon and been eating too much junk food I love to incorporate fresh juices into my diet as a way to get back on track.  They make me feel great, are a wonderful source of nutrients, and the glow they give your skin doesn't hurt either.  A couple years back I started to follow a mostly plant based diet and became very interested in juicing and all the health benefits that come with it (increased energy levels, detoxification, and improved digestion to name a few.)  So I took the plunge, bought myself a juicer, and have been juicing ever since.  Below is my go-to green juice recipe that I always come back to.  It's simple, delicious, and has ingredients that can easily be found at any grocery store.  I hope you enjoy and give it a try!

Breville Juicer
What I use:  The Breville BJE200XL Compact Juice Fountain 700-Watt Juice Extractor, retailing for $99.95.  I love this juicer and found it to be the highest quality juicer on the market for the price point.  I've had it for about four years and it has held up great.  It's a pain in the butt to clean, but honestly any juicer is going to be so I just deal with it.
Green Juice Recipe

Brazen Brunette Green Juice Recipe:
2-3 Stalks Kale
½ Lemon
½ Cucumber
2-3 Stalks Celery
½ Granny Smith Apple (cut in half again to fit through juicer)
Fresh grated Ginger (Buy a small hunk of fresh ginger in the produce session and when you get home immediately put and keep in your freezer.  It is so much easier to grate this way.)

(Quick Tip: I buy enough produce to make four juices for the week, (one every other day.)  This works out to be about two apples, a package of celery, a bunch of Kale, 2 lemons, and 2 of the biggest cucumbers I can fine.  I then wash and cut everything up and keep in a bag in the fridge so it’s ready to go in the morning.  This seriously makes everything a million times easier that it's prepared ahead of time!)

Green Juice Recipe

Directions:  Turn on your juicer and when you hear that whirr start gently pushing your produce through the juicer.  Once all your produce is juiced.  Grab your ginger and a microplane and grate some fresh ginger into your concoction.  Mix and Serve!  

Healthy Green Juice

Now it's recommended to consume your juice immediately after it's pressed and preferably on an empty stomach in the morning.  (This is so your body can absorb the nutrients easily without having to work on digesting any other food in your system.)  As soon as your juice hits air it immediately starts losing nutritional value.  (Dramatic sounding I know, but it's the truth!)  If you don't have the time to drink your juice right then or want to make a batch for the week your best bet is to get some mason jars with screw on tops to attain an airtight seal.  From the research I've done this is the best method for preserving the nutritional value of your fresh juices.  Also, many people wonder what is the difference between fresh juices and smoothies?  Which one is better?  Well I personally prefer fresh juices, but there are pros and cons to each.  When you use a juicer you are extracting the pulp from the juice and in turn removing all of the insoluble fiber.  Some may think, hey wait we need that fiber!  But without any fiber the body is able to absorb all those nutrients in the juice immediately without fiber slowing absorption rates down.  And if your goal is weight loss fresh juices tend to have fewer calories than smoothies.  But really you can't lose either way, because both methods provide a hefty serving of fruits & vegetables into our diet which can never hurt.  If you are interested in learning more about juicing there is a great documentary on Netflix called Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead where a man loses over 100 lbs., gets off most of his medications, and nurses himself back to health all by consuming nothing but fresh pressed juices for 60 days.  It's quite a story.  Ok, so enough of my rambling on the benefits of juicing, can you tell I'm a fan?  I hope you all are having a wonderful week and if you have any other questions or other great juicing recipes you want to share please let me know in the comments below!
xoxo Nicole

Monday, April 13, 2015

SPRING NAIL POLISH PICKS

Spring Nail Polish
From L to R: Butter London Teddy Girl, Essie Splash of Grenadine, Bitter London Fiver, Zoya Marley & Deborah Lippman Blue Orchid

Spring is one of my favorite times of year.  The birds are chirping, daffodils are blooming, and store shelves are lined with those irresistible pastel nail lacquers.  Oo I just can't get enough of those Easter egg shades!  So I am here today to provide you with some spring nail inspiration and share my favorite colors for the season.  I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and enjoy my picks!

  • Butter London Teddy Girl - This is seriously the perfect pale pink.  Described as a "pale retro bubblegum pink" this shade never looks chalky and goes on smooth for a classic finish.  Butter London lacquers are pricier at $15.oo a piece, but their quality and long lasting color justifies the price.  
  • Essie Splash of Grenadine - This is such a bright and fun color for spring.  Described as a "playful magenta pink," this Essie polish, retailing for $8.50, is always a conversation starter.  Every time I wear it people ask me what color is on my nails and the color is so different from anything else I have in my collection.
  • Butter London Fiver - Another Butter London fave, this "opaque mint green creme" is a gorgeous pale green.  I definitely prefer this over Essie's infamous "Mint Candy Apple" which has more blue undertones.
  • Zoya Marley - This Zoya polish, retailing for $9, can be described as a "light baby lavender touched with a hint of gray-silver and a subtle pearl finish."  It's the least opaque of the bunch, being on the sheerer side, but I love a good lilac for this time of year.  It always looks timeless on the nails.  
  • Deborah Lippman Blue Orchid - This is the most expensive nail polish I own.  It was rough to drop $18 on a nail lacquer, but I just couldn't resist this blossoming baby blue creme.  I first saw this shade gracing the nails of YouTuber and blogger Allison Anderson and knew I had to have it.  The color is stunning and the formula of this polish is incredible, the color goes on so opaque and lasts over a week on my nails without chipping. 

All of these shades are just so wearable and sweet, and definitely get me in that spring time mood. If you have any other nail colors you would recommend for this time of year please let me know in the comments below.  Thanks for stopping by and I hope you have a wonderful week!

Friday, April 10, 2015

YUP, WE'RE TALKING ABOUT DEODORANT TODAY.

Dove Clinical Protection Anti-Perspirant Deodorant

So as you can tell from the title of this post, we’re going there...we’re talking about deodorant.  Now usually a hygiene item wouldn’t be featured as a Friday Favorite, but this was just too good of a find not to share.  And don’t worry I’ll spare you the action shots.  Now back when I lived in New York it was basically a frozen tundra and I didn’t have the need for a clinical strength deodorant, but since I have moved to the sauna I know live in, aka Florida, I have had to step up my game.  Enter Dove’s Clinical Protection Anti-Perspirant Deodorant in the fragrance 'Cool Essentials'.  This stuff is the bomb, seriously.  It provides clinically proven clinical strength protection against wetness, delivers all-day freshness through odor-fighting technology, and soothes and conditions skin with Dove moisturizers.  This stuff is no joke.  It works so well at keeping my pits dry and smelling like a daisy.  (I want to promise I will never use the word “pits” on this blog again, but don’t hold me to that.)  It's also great for those of us who have sensitive skin in the underarm area because it doesn't contain aluminum chloride or alcohols which tend to cause skin irritation and discomfort.  I picked up this deodorant at Target, but I have seen it being sold pretty much at every drugstore for around $8.00.  (For a $2.00 off coupon click HERE, I got you girl.)  I strongly recommend trying the Dove Clinical Protection Anti-Perspirant deodorant if you find your regular deodorant just isn't doing it anymore. I see such a drastic difference in performance as compared to using my old school Secret deodorant.  And another perk is this goes on translucent and doesn't leave those pesky white marks on clothes, so annoying when that happens!  So it's safe to say I'm a convert and the Dove Clinical Protection Anti-Perspirant deodorant is going to be a daily staple from now on.  I hope you enjoyed this week's Friday Favorite and that you have lots of fun planned for this weekend!  I plan on relaxing, cleaning my apartment, and getting my taxes done by Monday.  I know, the glamorous life is rough.  Thank you so much for stopping by and leave me a comment letting me know some of products you have been loving lately!

Xoxo Nicole