February 27, 2015

Review: Benefit Cosmetics Roller Lash Mascara

Image via Benefit Cosmetics
In January I received a mystery mascara from PopSugar-- no brand name, nondescript tube, no clue what mascara it was-- but I was game to try it. I had a hunch as to what the mascara was and those suspicions were confirmed when it was revealed that the mystery mascara was Benefit Cosmetic's Roller Lash Mascara, which is now available to purchase!

Benefit's mascaras can be hit or miss for me. I absolutely love BadGAL Lash Mascara-- I am all about big brushes that provide tons of volume. I had high hopes for They're Real! Mascara but found that the formula was too wet for my liking, not to mention the scary fail I had with the mascara. 

 I'm happy to report that I haven't had any fails with this mascara and I actually really like it! I like that the Roller Lash formula is dryer than They're Real! Mascara and the curved brush curls lashes all while providing lash volume and definition. The unique "hook and roll" brush works to give lashes an eye-opening lift and curl.

I apply by positioning the curved side down, like an upside down smile, then "rolling" it up my lashes wiggling it back and forth to help increase volume. I find that this mascara helps the curl stay put throughout the day and also lifts the lashes to open my eyes.  

While this may not be the absolute number one mascara for me and I won't be throwing out my lash curler just yet, it is a good mascara and I have been very pleased with the formula and its wear. Will you be trying out this new mascara?

*I was provided a sample of Roller Lash Mascara by PopSugar on behalf of Benefit Cosmetics, however opinions expressed are solely my own. No monetary compensation was provided for this review; this post does contain affiliate links

February 26, 2015

OOTD: February Florals

Do you ever have those days where you feel out of sorts? That’s how I felt earlier this week—I woke up feeling fine Monday morning but by midday just felt blah and not totally with it, not sick but not great. I ended up climbing in to bed super early to get some rest. Tuesday was a little better but I felt like my brain wasn’t totally working right. I hope I’m not getting sick :/

Or maybe I just need a vacation. Even just a weekend where I can lay out by the pool or on the beach sipping fruity drinks and just relaxing, wearing this pretty floral kimono I picked up several weeks ago.  How cute would this look over a swim suit?!? Kimonos like this look pretty much cute with anything—dresses, jeans (which I’m actually wearing here, none of those pics made the cut though), shorts, skirts, lingerie, seriously,  A N Y T H I N G. Enough rambling for now, enjoy your almost-Friday!

* Love jewelry? Become a Shine Insider with Rocksbox! Sign up using my code amandaxoxo1 and your first month is FREE! Plus, you'll get $10 each month to spend towards any pieces you purchase :)

February 24, 2015

Good HUES-Day: Closet Staples

1. Chambray Shirt:  One of my most favorite trends from the past couple of years is chambray. Dressed down or up, it's surprising how versatile these tops can actually be. Need some styling ideas? One of my favorite blogs, Style Elixir, is an absolute master at styling chambray. 

2. Striped Tee Shirt: This is just one of those classic, must-haves that even as a tee, always manages to look classy and stylish. 

3. Camel Trenchcoat: Living in Southern California I sadly don't have much use for a trenchcoat. You can bet though if I lived somewhere colder one of these babies would be hanging in my closet. They're classic and classy, perfect to throw over jeans, a dress, or work outfit.

4. Leopard: If you're looking to add more leopard to your closet, accessories are the perfect way to ease into the trend. You can rock leopard with a cute scarf such as the one above, a clutch, or even a cute pair of leopard print heels, such as the ones I wore here.

5. Fitted Jeans: I wear jeans most days of the week- even my black pants I wear to work are denim. Shhh... Seriously though, find a pair of jeans you love and if it's the perfect fit, pick up the same style in several different washes-- dark, light, black, even grey.

6. Skater Skirt: I am still on the skater skirt train and I'm not planning to jump off anytime soon. This is such a cute style that looks great on pretty much everyone. Seriously, I think even my boyfriend and his hairy legs would look cute in a skater skirt. Well, not really.

7. Hat: Until I started wearing hats a couple years ago, I never truly understood how they can totally change an outfit... and make it so much better! I love having a variety to choose from- fedoras, panama style and even floppy hats. The perfect accessory to instantly take an outfit from drab to fab.

8. Black Heels: For those of us in warmer parts of the country we're lucky enough to be able to wear open-toed shoes most of the year. I'm in love with these heels (so in love that I bought two pairs!)-- another classic that can be worn with a variety of pieces including jeans. Love!

What are some of your closet staples?

February 23, 2015

5 Ways to Beat the Mundays

Image via Rayi Christian Wicaksono

The word itself sounds so... blah. After a fun weekend getting back into the swing of things can be difficult. Luckily, I love my job so for me Mondays aren’t so bad, but some days it can be hard just to get out of my nice, comfy warm bed and get my week started. Here’s my 5 tips on how to beat those Monday blues:

1. Get to bed at a decent time Sunday night: I’m usually in bed at night by 10:30 pretty much every night— this way I can feel refreshed and take my time in the morning. If you can, try to get in the habit of getting up even 30 minutes earlier to give yourself some extra “you” time—sip your coffee, read your favorite blogs, take your time on your makeup, make breakfast, etc. You won’t feel so tired and rushed trying to get out the door.

2. Make a to-do list for the week: Writing down everything I need to do for the week ahead makes it so much easier to complete tasks, whether it’s for work or personal. At work, I’ll create my to-do list for Monday on the Friday before. This way, when I get to the office I know what I need to work on to conquer the day.

3. Keep Monday mornings open: Keep your Monday schedule light—if you can help it, don’t pack in any morning meetings, presentations or conference calls. Give yourself some time to catch up and get your week scheduled. Monday’s can be stressful enough just trying to get out of bed—don’t make it any harder.

4. Plan for something fun for the week: I usually pack a lunch but my co-workers and I have a standing lunch date on Thursdays— it gives us all something to look forward to! Can’t wait that long? Plan a Monday or Tuesday lunch outing with co-workers, Wednesday Happy Hour, or Monday a.m. donuts.

5. When you look good, you feel good: You have the entire weekend to plan a cute outfit for Monday, use that to your advantage!

How do you beat a case of the Mundays? Enjoy your week!

February 22, 2015

Award-Worthy G.H. Cretors Organic Popcorn

GH Cretors

Like many people, one of my favorite snacks while watching a movie is popcorn. I typically go for freshly popped or even the microwave variety but stayed away from pre-popped bag popcorn. After trying G.H. Cretors Organic Popped Corn though I realized how wrong I was.

I was lucky to receive bags of the Organic Simply Salted and Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil popped corn to try out and I am happy to report that I was very impressed. Out of the bag, the popcorn tasted light and fresh, as if I had just popped it myself (without the burned ones too, ew!). My favorite is the Simply Salted-- it had just the right amount of salt and I even added some sprinkles for a salty, sweet snack. Unlike other bagged popcorns filled with preservatives and mystery ingredients, Simply Salted contains only three ingredients: Organic Popcorn, Organic Sunflower Oil and Sea Salt. 

This evening, I'm looking forward to parking myself with a big bowl of G.H. Cretors Organic Popped Corn to watch the Oscars. I'm not sure who my votes go to yet but I do know who gets the award for best popcorn ;)

PS- Get the awesome printable Oscars ballot shown above here

*I was provided the popped corn to review by G.H. Cretors, however opinions expressed are solely my own. No monetary compensation was provided for this review.

February 19, 2015

Get the Look: Donna Karan at NYFW

I’ve been taking some peeks at all the looks coming off the NYFW shows this week and I have to say that the beauty looks at Donna Karan ruled the runway, most especially (and this kills me to say) Kendall Jenner (she’s technically NOT a Kardashian, right??). Everything from the glowing skin and minimal makeup with rosy cheeks & lips to the sleek straight side-parts was perfect. In fact, I was so inspired by this look that I had to recreate it today!

1.       This entire runway look focuses on glowing, dewy skin. I got this look by first prepping the skin by using a rich, creamy moisturizer; right now I am loving Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream and argan oil. To get that glowing-from-within perfected looking skin, I used a lightweight foundation that provides a glowing sheen- not shine or shimmer- such as Physicians Formula Nude Wear Touch of Glow Foundation. If you need a little extra help (no shame!) use a concealer to cover any blemishes or under eye circles.

2.       To get those naturally rosy, just-pinched cheeks, use a cream blush such as Stila Convertible Color in Rose or Peony. The cream blush will blend nicely and easily on the foundation and looks more natural; it’s not as heavy as a powder blush and it’s easy to build on the color for the desired look. Oh, and I can’t believe I am saying this but skip the highlighter for this look.

3.       For eyes, keep it simple by using a nude matte shadow that is close to your natural skin tone and gently sweep across lids. I’m obsessed with the light matte nude shade Walk of Shame in the Urban Decay Naked Basics Palette! No dramatic liner here, just a soft application of brown pencil liner, such as Rimmel London SpecialEyes Eye Liner Pencil in Rich Brown, on the upper lids.

4.       As for mascara, it doesn’t look like the models are wearing any but let’s be real, I’m no model. I applied a super light coat of Benefit Cosmetics Roller Lash Mascara (available 2/27!) to top and bottom lashes to help open my eyes.

5.       Finish off the look with a matte, rosy pout. I opted to just use a liner to fill in my entire lips and then blotted. Opt for a brick-red rosy shade such as Charlotte Tilbury ‘Lip Cheat’ Lip Liner in Savage Rose. A simple yet flirty look-- you are now runway ready!

February 17, 2015

Good HUES-Day: Petal Pink & Dusty Rose

Maybe it was the recent Valentine's weekend or maybe just because I am obsessed with all things pink but I totally have pink on the brain. Above are a few pretty petal pink and dusty rose lovelies I have my eye on.

...and yes, I have two pairs of sunglasses because they're both just so darn cute. You can never have too many pairs of sunnies!

February 16, 2015

Bloggers Who Budget: Leopard

Leopard is the new black, right?  I picked up these leopard-print heels from Target last year and they have since become a staple. I usually wear them to the office, adding a little edge and pop to everyday work attire and can easily transition from work to evening.

These are a great dupe of J.Crew's Stella Pumps, but the best part? They are under $20! If you don't have a pair of leopard-print heels I highly recommend you pick up a pair during your next Target shopping trip!

Tell me, are you a fan of leopard print?

February 13, 2015

Recipe: Vanilla Macarons with Chocolate Ganache

Can you believe I only first had a macaron a couple years ago? Seriously, I'm pretty sure I was living under a rock, but now I am obsessed. The perfect macaron has a crispy shell with a moist, chewy inside and a decadent creamy filling.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Luckily, I came across a simple recipe for macarons so I can get my fix anytime.

When it comes to making macarons, there are two absolutes: First and foremost is patience. Patience is a MUST when it comes to making macarons-- take your time. Second is a kitchen scale. This recipe isn't measured in cups, it's measured in grams. You should be able to find kitchen scales relatively inexpensively. I think I found mine at a dollar store.

The recipe isn't difficult to follow but it does take some technique, which I'm getting better at. I was a bit hasty with this last batch and they didn't come out as good as my first, but they were still yummy and in the end that's what matters! This weekend, put your baking skills to the test and make this delectable treat for your honey... or for yourself :P

Vanilla Macarons (adapted from The Baker Chick)
110g Ground Almond Flour
200g Confectioners Sugar
100g (3) Egg Whites
1/4 tsp. Vanilla Extract
50g Sugar

Chocolate Ganache
4 oz. Chocolate, finely chopped (I used 3 oz. Dark Chocolate and 1 oz. milk chocolate because that's what I had on hand. I recommend bittersweet, but you can go with whatever chocolate you fancy!)
1/2 cup Cream
2 tbsp. Butter, softened

Combine almond flour and confectioners sugar in food processor and pulse until mixed. Sift this dry mixture into a bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites using a mixer, or a whisk if you want a good arm workout, until stiff peaks form. You'll know when you have stiff peaks when you can lift a beater or whisk and the peaks stand straight up. Kind of like the 'There's Something About Mary' hair scene... remember that?? Add the vanilla extract and granulated sugar to the egg whites and beat until it turns glossy.

Gently fold the almond flour and powdered sugar mixture into the egg whites mixture until incorporated and mixed, however do not overmix. The batter should be light and airy. Put mixture into pastry bag with a large round tip. then pipe 1/2"-1" rounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet. Tip: Do yourself a favor and get a silicone baking sheet-- these are amazing! Be sure to leave space between each round and let the sheet sit out for about an hour so they can develop a shell. Trust me, let them sit out. If you put them in the oven immediately, the shells will crack.

Preheat oven to 300* and bake for 12 minutes. After removing from the oven, let the macarons cool completely and then remove from the baking sheet. When you are ready to fill, match up with halves close in size.

To make the chocolate ganache, heat cream in saucepan in stove over medium heat until it boils. Pour into a bowl over chopped chocolate and gently stir to melt the chocolate. Add in butter until and stir to combine. Chill in the refrigerator until thick, about 30 minutes. Put into pastry bag or plastic bag to pipe onto cookies, snipping end of bag about 1/2-inch from the bottom.

Squeeze  ganache into center of flat half of macaron, top with another macaron and squeeze very gently. Ganache should not ooze out (hey, it happens!). For best results, refrigerate macarons 24 hours before serving. If you can wait that long!

I'll leave you with a funny story: I had everything set up to take pictures of my macarons for this post-- my photo light box, my cute glittery hearts, had the macarons arranged perfectly
....and then catzilla happened:

 Happy Valentine's Day!

February 12, 2015

Head Over Heels

Chic Sweats

Kohls Outfit

Kohls Style

House of Harlow 1960

Yes, those are sweats. Not your average saggy bottom sweats though, this pair is fitted, comfy and yes, I have even worn them to work. I've been meaning to post them for months now since buying them at Kohl's, which is one of my favorite places to shop. This past weekend I came across this cute graphic tee and thought it would be perfect for a Valentine's Day-inspired outfit. With sweats.

Linking Up With: Thursday Favorites,  Throwback Thursday,  Look What I GotWhat I Wore To Work#WIWTSpotlight WeeklyTreat Yo Self ThursdayA Labour of FashionThe Style Files, Favorite Fashion FridayFriday's Fab FavoritesCasual Friday, Let It ShineStyle To InspireManic MondayWatch What I'm Wearing Mix It MondayStyle Sessions, Trend SpinConfident TwosdayTremendous TuesdayRandom Wednesday,  Tucker Up I Feel Pretty,  What I Wore, Life & Style

February 9, 2015

Finding Your Signature Scent

Finding perfect perfume

Let’s talk about “the one.” No, not your soul mate but your signature scent! With so many fine fragrance options available, it can be quite overwhelming and even hard to pin down that fragrance that is just right. While interning in New York several years ago, we took a "field trip" to Firmenich to learn how fragrances are developed and while attending FIDM, I took a fragrance class and learned about the make up of fragrances and even got to design my own! Here’s a few tips for finding the perfect perfume:

1. First, know the difference between fragrance strengths:
                Parfum: The strongest of all fragrances made up of 15 to 40 percent fragrance oil
                Eau de Parfum: Made up of 10 to 15 percent fragrance oils, heaviest of Eaus. What most people consider "perfume"
                Eau de Toilette: Lighter than an Eau de Parfum, but heavier than Eau de Cologne; about 3 to 15 perfect fragrance oil
                Eau de Cologne: Made up of 2 to 5 percent fragrance oil, this is the least concentrated of the Eaus
                Body Spray: Most diluted scent, with just 1 to 2 percent fragrance oil; very light scents

2. When shopping for fragrance, go bare! You want to smell the scents without the interference from other perfumes, scented lotions or sprays. Before spraying on yourself though, first sniff the bottle and then use those handy fragrance blotters to test the ones you really like. Keep the blotter with you and walk around the store for some time before smelling it again because…

3. You’ll need to keep in mind that fragrances develop over time—what it smelled like when you first put it on is not what it’s going to smell like an hour later, even half-an-hour later.
Fragrances have three levels: top notes which you smell when you first spritz a fragrance- these usually last 10-15 minutes; the heart (middle) notes make up the majority of the fragrance and last about 30 minutes; and base notes last the longest creating fragrance depth and are not detected for about 30 minutes after you first apply. Let it linger.

4. Know what types of scents you like and choose based on fragrance families:
                Floral: Romantic, flowers, roses (Ralph Lauren Romance)
                Oriental: Vanilla, warm, amber, musk, spices (cinnamon, clove, etc.), mysterious (Prada Amber Eau de Parfum)
Fruity: Apples, oranges, grapefruits, peach, pears (Escada Born in Paradise)
                Chypre: Earthy, mossy, musky, bergamot (Dior Miss Dior)
Green: Fresh, grass, cool (DKNY Delicious)
Citrus: Lemon, orange, fresh (Chloe L’Eau de Chloe Eau de Toilette)
Fougere: Herbaceous, oak, moss, mainly mens fragrances (Tom Ford Violet Blonde)
Oceanic: Salty, clean, fresh, slightly citrus-y (Davidoff Cool Water For Women)
Woody: Pine, Sandalwood, cedar—very earthy and musky (Jo Malone Wild Fig & Casis)
Gourmand: Dessert, chocolate, vanilla, caramel, honey, sweet smelling (Thierry Mugler Angel)
Vetiver: Peppery, dusty, earthy and lemony (Guerlain Vetiver)

5. Samples are your BFF! Most department stores and even Sephora gives out fragrance samples. This way, you can wear the scent for a few days to see if you REALLY love it and how it reacts with your own body chemistry. If your co-worker exclaims “You smell SO good!” then it’s safe to say you’ve found a winner.      
Fragrance is a personal thing and depends on your taste, your style and what you like. You might even want to change up your fragrance depending on the season, opting for warmer, muskier scents in the winter and cool, fresh scents in the summer. Don’t worry if it takes you a long time to find “the one,” it’s out there!

As for myself, I go for soft, feminine florals, oriental scents (I guess you could say florientals!), and chypres. 

Here are some of my personal top picks:
Fragrance 101

One final tip—with fragrance there certainly can be too much of a good thing. Go easy on the spritzing! Even if you can’t necessarily smell it on yourself trust me, the rest of us can. No need to bathe in it ;)

Tell me, what are your favorite fragrances?

February 5, 2015

#OOTD: January Favorites

Is it me or did January fly by? It feels like Christmas was just a week or so ago! While I didn't have an amazingly eventful January, I did have some outfit favorites. Here's what I wore this past month:

1. Pretty in Pink: Blush Sweater
 Sweater: H&M (similar style) | Jeans: Paige Denim | Handbag: Tory Burch | Scarf: Kohls | Booties: Shoedazzle (similar) | Ring: Forever21 (in store)
 2. Mixed Prints
 Sweater: Forever 21 | Shorts: Brandy Melville for PacSun | Booties: Sole Society | Necklace: House of Harlow 1960 via Rocksbox | Bangle: Margaret Elizabeth via Rocksbox

3. Bloggers Who Budget: Stripes and Denim
Striped Sweater: Forever 21 | Jeans: DKNY via Century21 | Floppy Hat: H&M | Booties: Steve Madden (similar style) | Watch: La Mer

4. Mod-tastic in Cobalt
Dress: Sherry Lou Studio | Crossbody Bag: Sherry Lou Studio | Booties: Steve Madden (similar) | Necklace: Sole Society | Bracelet: Stella & Dot | Rings: Forever21

Which outfit was your favorite for January?

February 4, 2015

$400 Target GIVEWAY

I have teamed up with some AMAZING bloggers to give away a $400- yes as in four-zero-zero!- Target gift card. See the entry details below-- good luck!

Prize: $400 Target Gift Card
Giveaway organized by: Oh My Gosh Beck!
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter daily. Giveaway ends 3/4 and is open worldwide. Winner will be notified via email.

Are you a blogger who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your blog? Click here to find out how you can join a totally awesome group of bloggers!

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