Sunday, November 30, 2014

Life Update and Reviews to Come Soon!

If you follow this blog a lot you would soon notice that all my posts happen within three days of each other: that is my schedule. It's strange but it's how I do things (mostly because numbers make more sense than days of the week). Unfortunately I haven't posted in about six days because life is crazy! While technically my finals week doesn't start until the 8th of December, I've been feeling a lot of pressure from my studies lately. All essays and such are coming do and all my excess energy is going towards that. I also did National Novel writing Month thus November which was great, but also very tiring, which is why many of my posts were either short and/or written a while ago. But, after the 10th of December I am free!!! or at least until early January. Since it is the holidays (Thanksgiving involved me either stressing over school or asleep) I'll try to cook more and post more; I'll also be getting some very nice make-up to review. The thing which I have bought so far and will be reviewing (hopefully) before Christmas are:
LORAC vintage vixen palette
NEST fragrance set
and what I will be reviewing after Christmas are:
Urban Decay Vice 3
Benefit Cheeky Sweet Spot
and possibly more!
Please check in between now and then and I will try to get a few things up in the meantime. Have a great Holiday, Finals Week, etc!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Review and Swatch: Ulta Salon Formula Nail Lacquer in Lav-ish


This nail polish is from the store brand Ulta. Lav-ish caught my eye immediately in the store. I love lavender colors in general (and even more in summer) and with its sparkle I thought it was perfect!
Lav-ish is a cool toned lavender with warm toned rose gold (or both pink and gold) micro glitter that almost seems like a shimmer or iridescence.
The brush on the polish is what I’d describe as a standard brush- not to big or too small without any unique shape. The polish is a good consistency too: the first coat was sheer (but not streaky) and the second coat provided good opacity. The formula isn’t too runny or goopy.

Overall, I am very pleased with the polish and will pick up another if I find another color I really like especially if they go on sale again. The normal price is normally $6 but they are often on sale for $2 or in 2 for $6 deals and so on.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Review and Swatch: Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in 660 Pat on the Black


The last time I was at my local Amelia’s Grocery Outlet they had a small selection of this line of nail polishes. The colors were mostly pastels, but this color was mixed in too. Since I really liked the color I decided to pick it up for 99 cents.
Pat on the Black is a dark, blackish, purple/burgundy color. Apparently it’s close to Linkin Park After Dark.
The brush of this formula had been compared to my favorite Wet n’ Wild Megalast nail polishes, and while it is also wide it is thinner and “splays” when pressed. The edges are also more rounded. Because of this splaying action, there is a tendency for it to hold polish and then have it run out when you press it to your nail; it’s kind of like how a fountain pen works. This caused me to get a seriously flooded cuticle; like almost flowing off my hand. So, the brush can be good if you are carful.
The formula of this color was not the best, in fact, it actually was pretty bad. I expect opacity from such a dark color, but this needed three coats and even then there were some patches. It also has a thick consistency, which could possibly be just because of the age of the polish. While it was unopened; I do not know how old or under what conditions it took to get this to the grocery outlet. Because of the goopy-ness of it, it took a long time to dry. I waited five minutes, but after applying the top coat (which I admit wasn’t the best top coat ever) which was a bit thick itself, chucks of the polish got ripped off of my nail. This polish also chipped very quickly so that plus the patchiness meant it only lasted less than 3 days on my nails.

Overall, the brush has promise, but this color doesn’t. Maybe it was the age of the product or something, but the color was too sheer and patchy for me and didn’t dry fast enough because of its thickness. I don’t see myself spending the $6-$7 on this line regular price in the drugstore.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Mini Bath and Body Work Haul and Review


Bath and Body Work was recently doing a promotion for their new Market line where, if you made any purchase, you could get a free mini mason jar candle and travel sized body care. For my purchase I bought Sweet Plum and Verbena PocketBac and received a Vanilla Chai candle and Apple and Lavender body lotion for free.
Sweet Plum and Verbena pocket antibacterial  ($1.75) is one ounce on antibacterial gel. It is a new scent for the fall. It has a sweet and bright fruity note on top without being too sweet. It also has a slight tartness to it which I enjoy.
Vanilla Chai mini mason Jar Candle ($4.50) smells exactly like a chai latte! It is part of their new range also.
Apple and Lavender travel body lotion ($5.00) contains 3.4 fl oz of product. When first applied it smells strongly of fresh granny smith apple, after it sets in a light floral notes come out.  This is also a new product.


While none of these are “extraordinary” they all have great scents and cute packaging. I’m so glad I was able to try these new products out with only a $1.75 purchase! I recommend picking these up if you got the offer and smelling some of the new scents. Some are great, some are quite strange (cayenne caramel!)  

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Review and Swatch: E.L.F. All over color stick in Pink Lemonade.


The e.l.f. all over color stick is meant for lips, cheeks, and eyelids. It is a very pigmented cream stored in a basic twist up tube. I find this works best on cheeks, but is also suitable for lips. I do not like this for eyelids because of the color and transferability.

Pink Lemonade is a bright medium pink with silver sheen or frost. It smells exactly like its namesake!
On the cheeks as a cream blush I like to apply it with my e.l.f. small stipple brush. It is very pigmented so a little goes a long way. You can sheer it out though with a lot of blending.
I don’t wear this on the lips very often because of the frost, but it is definitely wearable. It lasts about 3 hours on the lips. The package is the only real downside in that is it functional and sturdy but ugly. It comes in a fat, white, plastic tube with a clear lid. The tube and lid can get messy and it looks almost homemade; there is no logo.



Overall, for the $1 it costs, the all over color stick in pink lemonade is a highly pigmented, good smelling product. I recommend this for your cheeks or your lips if you like frost. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Recipe: Macarons Part 2


My second try when it comes to making the infamous macaron turned out better than the first but still didn’t come out perfect. Since I was able to find cheaper almond flour (Alpine Valley) I felt okay with using the last of my UK almond flour to make a bigger batch of macarons. I still didn’t try a Laduree recipe yet (I want to do that next time around) so I decided to try an adapted for of Entertaining with Beth on Youtube’s recipe. I wanted to make it chocolate with a chocolate ganache so I also used part of the recipe from http://www.chow.com/recipes/28339-french-chocolate-macarons-with-chocolate-ganache. Below I have copied Beth’s full recipe and instructions found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJ636Y8N6E8
RECIPE FOR BETH'S FOOLPROOF FRENCH MACARONS
Makes 24 completed sandwich cookies


INGREDIENTS
3 Egg Whites
¼ cup white sugar (50 g)
2 cups confectioners sugar (200 g)
1 cup almond flour (120 g) (SEE NOTE BELOW)
pinch of salt
¼ tsp cream of tartar (2 ml) * You can omit if needed, just may take a bit longer to reach stiff peaks but the recipe will still work)

NOTE: If you cannot find almond flour where you live, check out this great video from my new friend Dzung at Honeysuckle Catering and she'll show you a great easy way to make it yourself!
http://bit.ly/WZQ1fZ


RASPBERRY BUTTER CREAM
1/4 cup salted butter (60g)
3/4 cup powdered sugar (75 g)
1 cup (150 g) fresh raspberries, worked through a sieve to extract 3 tbsp of juice

METHOD:
Preheat oven to 300F degrees

Beat egg whites until foamy, then add salt, cream of tartar and white sugar for 8-10 mins. TIP: #1 eggwhites should be room temp. To create room temp eggs, submerge in warm water for 5 mins.

Whip until they form a peak that stands upright. Think Seattle Space needle.

Then add the food coloring. TIP#2 Color does fade as it cooks, so do a shade or two darker than you want them to be.

TIP#3 Sift almond flour, and powdered sugar. What remains will be the larger lumps of almond pieces. Just discard those, or use them to snack on :) You want a really fine powder mixture to create a smooth and pretty on top to your cookie.

Fold flour/sugar mixture into the egg white mixture. TIP#4 This is where all your hard work can really go wrong. Under mix and your macaroons will be lumpy and cracked when the bake with no feet, over mix and your macaroons will be flat and won't have feet, the mark of a well-made macaron. In my experience 65-75 turns of your spatula when folding is about the right amount of time. But again, it can be tricky, depends on how strong you are, Ha! So it can take a few tries to get it right. But when you do, the trumpets will blare and you will feel SO accomplished!

Transfer batter to a pastry bag.

Pipe out 1 inch rounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. 


TIP#5: tap the pan hard at least 2-3 times to release the air bubbles. This will prevent the tops of your macaroons from cracking.

TIP#6 Let them sit out for 20-30 mins, or up to an hour if you want. This will allow them time to dry out a bit before hitting the hot oven. They should be "tacky" to the touch, but not stick to your fingertips. This is another important step to assuring your macarons develop feet! When they dry out they can't spread out in the oven, and are forced to rise up. That's what creates the feet!

Bake for 20 mins. DO NOT UNDER BAKE, even if they look done! Otherwise they will stick to your tray.


Meanwhile mix the buttercream. Whip butter with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Slowly add sugar. Then place sieve on top of a bowl the same size. Work raspberries through the sieve with a spatula, pushing them through, mashing them around until you extract their juice. You want 3 tablespoons of juice.

Add juice to buttercream, and whip until combined. Transfer to a pastry bag, fitted with a small tip (about ¼ " in diameter)

Reverse cookie shells on their backs, and pipe a small mound of filling on one of them. Top with the other shell et Voila! 

If not eating right away, keep refrigerated.

The recipe from Chow.com is
For the macarons:
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup almond flour or almond meal
  • 3 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • Pinch cream of tartar
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
For the ganache filling:
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick), at room temperature and cut into cubes
So, now to what I did and my result: I followed Beth’s macaron recipe with the addition of three tablespoons of cocoa powder. I followed all her tips. My problem, though, is that I piped them out a bit too big (some came close to two inches) and then didn’t add more baking time so a few stuck. I also got some cracks on the tops, so I must have just slightly under mixed. I also piped them too close.
They also got a big wrinkly on top. A website I looked out said that could be because I didn’t let them rest long enough before putting them in the oven. I think this might be true because my second try didn’t get as wrinkled.

The macarons I made had feet and some height, but also a dense, chewy center. No hollow macarons for me! Overall, I think the shells turned out well. Next time I will try to mix just a little bit longer and let them sit for like 40 minutes before baking. I also will bake for 22-23 minutes if they get large.
As for the ganache, I measured a mixture of bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate chips into a bowl. I then microwaved the milk until bubbly, added it, let it sit a few minutes and then mixed. After it because constant I added the butter. I then refrigerated it for an hour, but it didn’t set. This recipe is on the edge of too much milk and butter. I’d advise using a little more chocolate or adding less milk/butter, or even no butter. The butter does help add fat if you are using milk instead of cream. To fix my runny ganache, I melted about 2 ounces of chocolate in my microwave, added some ganache to liquefy it more, and then poured that mixture into the rest of the ganache and mixed. Within a half hour it set. If it doesn’t set in an hour, add more chocolate!


In general these are tastier macarons than my last batch, smoother, and nicer looking. I also like the addition of the ganache. I wonder what recipe I will try next…. Any suggestions?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Review and swatch: bareMinerals bareSkin® Pure Brightening Serum Foundation



There have been quite a few very thing liquid-y foundations coming onto the market. One That I’ve been curious about since I first heard of it was the Bare Minerals serum foundation. This strange foundation is in a bottle that you shake and then apply drops to a special foundation brush. It supoosedly can cover you entire face with just a few drops. When I had a opportunity to go to Sephora I just had to try out a sample.

The shade range is decently big; 20 shades that go from very light to fairly deep. My only problem is there is a mixture of cool, neutral, and warm tones. These tones depend on the shades which get gradually darker. Thus, it was very hard for me to decide what shade I needed. The first neutral shade was #3: bare linen. While this looks really light on line and in person, when applied it is just one shade too dark.  I would really need shade #2, but since it is cool, I don’t think it will look right on my warm/neutral skin.

The formula itself though is fantastic! The little sample I got has enough for several applications and each time I was amazed by the coverage! The sales associate warned me that if I don’t use the drop system and the special brush it won’t work as well. I think that is just a gimmick; I used my Real Techniques expert face brush dipped in the foundation and buffed/stippled it in and it worked beautifully. The coverage is medium to full and very buildable. The finish is very skin like. It is not cakey at all. It wore fine on my face for a full day.


This foundation really astounded me in regards to the lightness of feel and the coverage. I might try out shade #2 to see if it works for me and if it does I will be seriously tempted to buy. This is the only high end foundation I’ve tried that actually might be worth the money. It is quite pricey though at $29 for only a standard ounce. I’ve also heard problems about it being messy due to having to shake the bottle? Spending $30 on foundation is a big chance for me, but if I can find a good shade it might just be worth it.


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Review: Tokyo Milk Bon Bon Lip Balm in Rose Water


Tokyo Milk’s website just made me fall in love with the brand even though all I’ve ever been to find at my local Sephora is their perfumes that didn’t amaze me (mostly because there wasn’t any scent that I loved). The website though offers much more than Sephora which only carries select parts of their Dark range. The actual “regular” Tokyo milk is actually a rococo playground.
The first thing that drew me in was their lip balms. I have been trying to find the dark lip balms for over a year, but none of my Sephoras carry them and the scent I want to try (absinthe) is online only. The Bon Bon balms though are exclusive (to my knowledge) to their website. They just looked so cute that I had to have either the rosewater or the candied violet. Luckily, I was able to find it on ebay for a good price. With shipping from Tokyomilk the lip balms are $17, but I got it on ebay for around $8.

The Bon Bon lip balm comes in a beautiful box featuring the brand’s label and glitter roses. The text looks antique and very cute. The inner flaps have their coat of arms again and a quote from Alfred, Lord Tennyson which is a nice touch. Inside you find the balm itself in a sturdy glass pot with a light plastic cap that looks like metal with the Tokyo Milk label. There is also a cute little paper pamphlet inside called “The art of Kissing” which list the details of a famous movie kiss and the ingredients of the balm.

The balm itself smells divine! The scent is strong, but not overwhelming; you can smell it faintly on your lips. It has no taste which is a bit disappointing. It it a bit difficult to apply since the opening of the pot is so small and the balm is so hard that you need many swipes of the finger to apply. It moisturized quite well once on. It is not super thick like Burt’s bees or thin like Vaseline, probably because both petroleum and beeswax are ingredients.

Overall, I really like this as a cute piece to put on my vanity and a fun thing to apply when I feel in the mood. It is not what I reach for when my lips are chapped though, it is a bit inconvenient to apply especially since I feel the need to keep the pot in its little box. This would be a great gift though to someone who loves cute, rococo things. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Review and Swatch: Covergirl Outlast All-Day lip color in 526 port pout



After buying the color Blossom of this same formula, and the $2 off coupon on any outlast product still available, I went in search of more discounted products of this lone. My local rite-aid, where I bought the initial lip color, only had the 75% sale for one week, and another store had completely wiped the shelves, and further more stores had these at full price. Since the products are being promoted in new Covergirl displays I do not believe the line is being discontinued, but I think they may be getting rid of some colors or revamping the formula. Since the color I got last time was light, I decided to go for a darker shade: Port Pout.


Port Pout is a very dark berry red. It is very nearly oxblood, but slightly darker and with a purple hue.
This formula must be applied in a specific way. Onto bare lips the liquid color is applied, you wait a few minutes without touching or rubbing your lips together until dry, and top with the clear balm. Unlike the color Blossom though, I do not think the color applied very evenly. It is a pretty liquid-y and thin formula and since the applicator is a doe foot, I find it hard to apply an even layer or make crisp edges around my lips. I ended up patting the color instead of swiping in some places and trying to clean the edges up with concealer. I think a brush applicator would be a lot better than the doe foot considering the quick setting time and staying power of this product.

As soon as the color sets it is hard to get off. A makeup remover meant for waterproof lipstick is necessary, not just a micellar water or makeup wipe. I’ve noticed though, if you leave it on as long as 8-10 hours it can come off with a wipe. It lasts a very long time though, under normal circumstances. I was able to eat two full meals and wear it for 10 hours without any transfer of the color or removal from my lips.


If you are looking for a very long lasting and non-transferable lip color the outlast line is where to look. As long as you are careful with application, the wear time is fantastic. I was able to find my color on sale for $4 at K-mart. This line normally retails around $10.