Candid Camera: Halloween

10.31.2012


Time: 6.39pm on Halloween night.
Place: home, sitting on the floor criss-cross applesauce.  
Wearing: Madewell sweater, black leggings, red lipstick.  And snowman socks...
Eating: freshly roasted pumpkin seeds from a freshly carved pumpkin.  
Drinking: the last bit of a grande soy mocha.  
Feeling: the good-kind-of-sore that comes after the gym and before the bad-kind-of-sore sets in.
Hearing: the doorbell ring every so often and kiddos (mis)pronouncing "trick-or-treat."
Loving: the little girl dressed as a ladybug who just came to the door!
Watching: nightly news / Halloween episode of The Office.
Wanting: this Great Gatsby sweatshirt, in typical English nerd fashion.
Anticipating: more trick-or-treaters.  Co-hosting another blog hop in just a few hours!  And Christmastime... blame it on the socks.  

PS: Don't forget to join the Followers to Friends blog hop below!

Dior Hydra Life BB Creme

10.29.2012




My mom received an order from Sephora and kindly gifted me her extra free samples.  One of these was the Dior Hydra Life BB Creme SPF 30 - PA+++.  As someone who doesn't like wearing a full face of foundation every day, I am attracted to BB creams because they promise to even out your complexion without feeling heavy.  They're my preferred alternative to Laura Mercier's tinted moisturizer, which gives a natural finish but leaves my face slightly too shiny to go without powder.  (And when "less is more" is your getting-ready goal, who wants an extra step in the routine?)  Here's what I thought about Dior's venture into BB cream.

Dior describes their BB cream as "moisturizing," "protective," "complexion-enhancing," and "even-toning."  In other words, nothing radically different than what other BB creams claim to offer.  The product provides UVA/UVB protection of SPF 30.  It also contains several exotic ingredients, which are probably gimmicky but also hilarious, including "Three Plant Extracts derived from the Dior Gardens": "Jisten from Uzbekistan," "Black Rose from France," and "Centella from Madagascar."  (Turns out that the Dior Gardens actually exist... to my knowledge, however, black roses do not.)  

The consistency of this BB cream is perfect.  I use just a small amount (about the amount shown in the photo) on top of my regular moisturizer, and it offers light all-over coverage.  The finish is dewy but not shiny, and I don't need to use a powder on top.

The con?

I am generally not a fan of one-size-fits-all products, despite their growing popularity.  Just as one size of panties will not fit every woman's derriere equally well, one color of BB cream will not suit all skin tones.  Dior's BB cream comes in one color only; this means that even if you like the consistency, the product might not work for you.

This BB cream is deeper and more orangey than many other BB creams out there.  The first time I used it, I immediately jumped to the conclusion that it would never match my own rather fair skin tone.  But because the coverage is light, the product when blended over your entire face is actually not as pigmented as it suggests straight from the tube.  Right now, it is an acceptable match, if slightly too dark, for my skin.  But it will be impossible to pull off when I lose my last bit of tan in the winter.  And at $56 for a full size (1.7 oz) tube on Sephora, I think I'll pass.  However, I've heard that Dior released a lighter BB cream in their "Diorsnow" line, which I would like to sample next!

Have you tried BB cream?

Favorite Hand Creams

10.27.2012

From left: Laura Mercier Creme De Pistache Hand Creme; Burt's Bees Almond Milk Beeswax Hand Cream; L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream; Crabtree & Evelyn "La Source" Hand Therapy; Jo Malone Vitamin E Nourishing Treatment




Two posts in a day... I am clearly bored ensconced in blogging.  Actually, I'm catching a cold so I'm just listening to the rain under the covers, bothering chatting with hubby, drinking chai and eating mini Snickers.  While typing away I thought of something that would add to my comfort: a dollop of hand cream!   I am down to my very last tube, which is the yummy Laura Mercier one pictured above, so I'm rationing it out and shopping for something new.  When I think back on all the hand creams I've gone through over my life (a lot), these are some of my favorites.  These are, of course, the more luxurious ones; Nivea is one of my favorite drugstore alternatives.  Laura Mercier's hand cream smells like pistachio gelato.  The Burt's Bees and L'Occitane ones have a more earthy and "natural" scent.  Crabtree & Evelyn is a brand that doesn't receive much attention, but my mom shared her "La Source" with me and I maybe just maybe stole the rest (ssh).  And Jo Malone makes an intensive repair cream that is as impressive as her perfumes.  The last two smell the most like something you'd find in a spa.  But putting smells into words is tough... try them out yourselves when you get a chance!  

What's your favorite hand cream?  Tell me about it below!  I appreciate each and every one of your recommendations :)  

Word Play: Faux Pas

"Faux pas?  Not me."  (Image via, text added by moi.)


Faux Pas: in French, this phrase literally means "false step" or "misstep."  It can refer to a trip or stumble, but in English, it designates a social blunder or gaffe, an inappropriate action that causes embarrassment.  It's one of those words whose singular and plural forms are spelled the same but pronounced differently: the singular is "foh paw" and the plural, also spelled faux pas, is "foh pawz."  What you say or do can lead to faux pas.  So can what you wear.  Broken dress codes, improper attire and unwitting wardrobe malfunctions most often result in fashion faux pas.

Have you ever committed a fashion faux pas?  I have.  To name a couple...
Halloween sometime in the 90s: I dressed as a cat.  Not a black cat like the normal kids, but a white Siamese cat.  Thus, white spandex.  Luckily, at that age, you're forgiven.
But more recently: on a windy day in England... yep, you know where this is going.  I walked across town in a short dress to hand in an essay at university (and this time I skipped spandex).  There was the relief of finishing the essay, followed by the shock of a Marilyn Monroe moment in front of a tourist group.  They probably had cameras.  Oopsies.

But there are also times when what could be a faux pas is instead worn with such confidence that it becomes something bold and covetable.  The woman in the Chanel advert is very inappropriate.  But even in stilettos, she doesn't look like she'll miss a step.  Her attitude wards off the "faux pas" label entirely.  (For a more comic example, think Regina George, cutout shirt, Mean Girls.)  Fashion has its fantasies, and fashion has its flaws.  But one good thing about fashion and its "what are you looking at!" mentality is that it constantly blurs the lines between faux pas and "ooh la la."  When your expectations are challenged or subverted, you realize that "wrong" and "right" aren't always black and white.  

Of course, sometimes no amount of strutting your stuff is going to save you from embarrassment.  So for the best recovery ever from a fashion faux pas, refer to the following scene from Legally Blonde.  

Skin Therapy: Caudalie S.O.S. Serum

10.26.2012




After salvaging the last traces from my mini tube of this product, which I mentioned in my skincare edit here, I decided to purchase the full size.  Caudalie Vinosource S.O.S. Thirst Quenching Serum: it does what it says.  As the weather gets colder and artificial heating becomes unavoidable, even oily skin types can start experiencing symptoms of dryness.  When I started using this serum, my skin was flakey and uncomfortable; now it is more balanced and dewy.  The product contains grape water, which moisturizes and calms your skin, and antioxidant grape seed polyphenols, which protect your skin from free radicals.  But arguably its best ingredient is hyaluronic acid.  Hyaluronic acid can absorb up to 1000 times its weight in water; for this reason, it helps the upper layers of your skin retain hydration and boosts the impact of whatever moisturizer you use with it.  Hyaluronic acid occurs naturally in the skin, but production decreases with age, so it's important to replenish it.  

I use this under my moisturizer both morning and night.  The consistency is suitable for all skin types, but people with oily skin might especially appreciate the watery, non-greasy feel that distinguishes this serum from certain others.  I also like the hygienic pump dispenser and the glass bottle, which is not so practical for traveling but looks luxurious on the counter.  

Caudalie, a French skincare brand, falls in the mid-range of price points.  At $46 (£26) on feelunique.com for a 30ml bottle, this serum isn't cheap, but a little goes a long way.  And my fussy, sensitive skin appreciates it a lot.

I wanted to show you how a pump of the serum looks on the back of my hand.  But let's just say the photo didn't look quite right.  (Get your mind out of the gutter!)  So instead, I leave you with a prettier picture.  After all, my love affair with Caudalie started in the City of Light! 



Music etc.

10.25.2012

YES PLEASE {via}


Today is the day I finally do another Coffee Talk post... and this week's questions are particularly good.  I hope you enjoy reading (and listening and watching), and don't forget to check out Natalie's blog to find out more about Coffee Talk and see what other bloggers have to share!

1.  What is in your playlist?
A lot of things in constant, chaotic rotation... this is what happens when you put my entire iTunes library on shuffle:
1.  Beck, "Black Tambourine"
2.  Fabrizio De Andre, "Se Ti Tagliassero A Pezzetti"
3.  Lana Del Ray, "National Anthem" (obsessed with the whole Born To Die album)
4.  Calvin Harris (feat. Florence Welch), "Sweet Nothing"
5.  The Pretenders, "Brass In Pocket"
6.  Radiohead, "Just"
7.  Norwegian Recycling, "Stars Come Out"
8.  Ryan Leslie, "Quicksand"
9.  The Black Keys, "Howlin' For You"
10.  TV On the Radio, "Red Dress"
11.  Snoop Dogg and Kid Cudi, "That Tree" (The Soundmen Remix)
12.  Iron And Wine, "Fever Dream"
13.  Gotye, "Save Me" (love)
14.  Jovanotti, "Come Musica"
15.  Chairlift, "Bruises"
16.  The Strokes, "Last Nite"
17.  Scissor Sisters, "Might Tell You Tonight"
18.  Snow Patrol, "Just Say Yes"
19.  Chromatics, "Into The Black"
20.  U2, "Moment of Surrender"
21.  Henry Mancini, "Piano and Strings"
22.  Cat Power, "Ruin"
23.  Toploader, "Dancing In The Moonlight"
24.  Adele, "Make You Feel My Love"
25.  Enrique Iglesias, "Finally Found You" (haha)
... et cetera, et cetera, et cetera...

2.  What is the funniest YouTube video you always go to when you need a laugh?
It's called "slow loris with a tiny umbrella."  Watch it... all two minutes of it.  It saved me during exams this past year.  I also love "Maru the Cat."  Or anything with Dwight Schrute from The Office.  


3.  Favorite song in the whole wide world that you never get sick of and that is always on repeat?  
Hard to say.  I frequently get obsessed with songs and listen to them over and over again.  Then I put them away and ignore them.  And then, best of all, I rediscover them and remember how good they are.  

4.  Do you have any embarrassing songs/singers/bands that you like?
I would have said Disney songs, but one day in the not-too-distant past my neighbors overheard me singing "A Whole New World" from my bedroom, and since then I am pretty shameless when it comes to my taste in music.  

5.  What's one song that always makes you cry?
Tom Waits, "I Hope That I Don't Fall In Love With You."  This one requires an explanation.  I first discovered Tom Waits when I took a contemporary dance class and our teacher had us choreograph a dance to one of his songs.  It was one of the strangest songs I'd ever heard.  So I started researching his music, and before long I was hooked.  Waits' music is not what most people would call "feel good" music.  But it brought me comfort during a rough period in my life.  I can't guarantee you'll like Tom Waits the first time you hear him (or ever).  This song is from one of his early albums Closing Time (1973).  Since then, his style has evolved dramatically, weaving together countless genres in experimental ways.  One album, Alice, was made in collaboration with a theater production of a play by the same name, based on Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.  Waits was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011.  His voice can be growly, abrasive, "so bad it's good," but his lyrics are indisputably incredible.  This song is bittersweet (more sweet than bitter).


6.  What song have you heard recently that you can't seem to get out of your head?
Gangnam Style... what else?  ;)

October Wish List

10.24.2012

1. bareMinerals foundation  2. Dior "Diorific - Le Grand Bal" Lipstick in Diorling  3. Laura Mercier Almond Coconut Milk Hand Creme  4. Asics GEL-Blurr 33 2.0  5. Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner  6. Deborah Lippmann Ridge Filler Base Coat


None of these products are necessities (though I could probably convince myself otherwise).  (1) This bareMinerals foundation used to be the only foundation I ever used.  I've been suffering from sensitive skin lately and I'm tempted to revisit this product.  (2) Then there is the ultimate eye-catching extravagance, Dior's "Diorific - Le Grand Bal" Lipstick in Diorling.  The limited edition line is a bit self-celebratory, perhaps, but this color looks like the perfect deep red shade in YSL-esque packaging.  You can feast your eyes upon the whole line here.  (3) I received the Laura Mercier Creme de Pistache hand creme (and the matching eau de toilette) as a gift earlier this year and I'm rationing the last drops; the Almond Coconut Milk version is also delicious.  (4) Not the most glamorous choice of footwear, but I have started going to the gym recently because it is too cold to run around outside, and when my current running shoes give out I might just replace them with a neon pink pair.  I have worn Asics for years; out of all the brands I've tried, Asics are the only athletic shoes so comfortable that I don't even have to break them in.  (5) This liquid liner by Stila is another product I used to have and love.  Since then I drifted away from liquid eyeliner, but for a more dramatic statement in autumn/winter it would be perfect.  (6) Ever since Garance Doré raved about her ridge filler discovery here and here, I've been lusting after it.  

What is on your wish list?

AVEDA Stress-Fix Concentrate

10.22.2012

Whenever someone says "stress reliever," my ears perk up a little.  I'm always curious about the latest products, techniques and lifestyle choices targeting stress reduction.  Eliminating stress entirely isn't a realistic option for most of us, but little things inserted into our daily lives can help us manage stress.  Here's one I've been trying recently.  It's called Stress-Fix Concentrate, a "stress-relieving aroma" by AVEDA.  I'm not very familiar with AVEDA, although I know the brand has a fairly good reputation in haircare.  When I went into one of their stores with my mom recently, I stumbled upon this tiny rollerball of herbal-smelling golden liquid.  When I tried it (along with a complementary hand massage... amazing), I discovered that it really does have a calming effect.  


The 7ml rollerball contains an olive-oil based concoction with essences of lavender, lavandin and clary sage.  Here's what you do: roll the product gently onto your wrists, rub your wrists together, bring them close to your face and inhale deeply.  The directions say to "glide over pulse points," but the friendly lady who helped us out said that applying it to the wrists works best.  It does have a strong herbal smell, which I find potent in a good way, but it could be too strong for some people, so I would recommend trying it before purchasing just in case.  I find the smell very soothing, and although a couple of whiffs isn't going to cure stress, it provides a great excuse to take 5-10 minutes in the middle of the day (or before going to sleep) and clear your mind.  It retails for $22, and a little goes a long way.  It's perfect to keep on your nightstand or toss into your handbag to use at work or on the go.  You can check it out on AVEDA's website (US link/UK link).  

So now, aromatherapy is becoming a habitual way for me to unwind.  Burning a scented candle and then using this product before heading to sleep melts the stress away.  (Any guesses as to which candle I used from the photo above?)

Have you tried aromatherapy for reducing stress?  

Word Play: F(r)iends

10.20.2012



Friend or Fiend?  The difference of a single letter signifies a world of difference in meaning.  We all know what a friend is, and hopefully we all practice what friends do on a daily basis.  Defining "fiend," on the other hand, is a bit more complicated.

"Fiend" comes from a Middle/Old English word meaning a demon, devil, or someone very evil.  You don't want a fiend as a friend.  Eva gets this, as demonstrated in the righthand picture above, which deserves a caption like: "Do not disturb, or furry little friend will become furry little fiend."

Or maybe you do want a fiendish friend, in another sense of the word.  A "fiend" can also mean someone devoted to or obsessed with a certain endeavor.  It can imply that the person is extremely talented in this endeavor.  E.g. "Blogging fiend."  (Anyone out there fit this description?)

A fiend can also be an addict.  These fiends are generally to be avoided.  But while we all know that addiction isn't usually a good thing, there are times when we just can't help ourselves.  Eva and I are both cookie fiends.  Say the word, we're there.  Unfortunately, I like chocolate chip; she prefers the bone variety.

via // via


Friends?  Fiends?  
What about "frenemies"?
Your thoughts below!  

Rethinking Orzo

10.19.2012

I was born with a love of pasta in all its forms, except for one kind I avoided at all costs.  Orzo: oh no, this bland, mushy food was not for me.  Or so I thought until I ordered a dish that came with a side of orzo at a restaurant in Paris.  One bite and all my pasta prejudices were shattered.  I made it my mission to figure out how to cook orzo well at home.  For my first attempt, I used this quick and easy recipe for orzo with sausage, peppers and tomatoes (any other Giada fans out there??).  It was a success, with plenty of leftovers.  This recipe serves at least six people (maybe five really hungry people) when accompanied with a side of salad and fresh bread.  The key to making good orzo is to cook it al dente.  Orzo looks like rice but is actually pasta, and because each piece is small and thin, it is easy to overcook.  Check it often and stop cooking it as soon as it becomes soft enough to chew; this takes about 7-8 minutes.  Keep in mind that it will continue to soften slightly after you strain the water, especially if you keep it in the pot until serving.  I used Aidells Portobello Mushroom sausage, which is pre-cooked; I just sliced it and heated it with the sautéed veggies.  If you're vegetarian, you could use a meat substitute or mushrooms!  

PS: Just wanted to remind you to check out my giveaway and enter if you'd like a chance to win!

The Think Pink Tag!

10.18.2012

As you might know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  I was tagged by Rachel from Blush and Brunch to do the "Think Pink" tag to raise awareness about breast cancer.  Thank you Rachel for creating a tag with such a worthy cause!  I'm no expert on the disease, but now is a perfect time to take a few minutes to learn more about it.  ALL women should know about the importance of early detection.  For the sake of your own health, go read this article by the American Cancer Society about what you can do to take care of yourself and save lives.   Then spread the word!

The Tag: Here are the rules for this tag.  1) Pick out your favorite pink food, makeup, fashion and random item.  2) Spread the message about breast cancer to a female friend/family in your life.  3)  Write a blog post to raise awareness.  4)  Tag at least 3 people to do the same!  

(1) via  (2) via  (3) via  (4) via
My Picks: Fashion: I don't wear pink often, but doesn't this scarf look cozy?  |  Food: Pink macaronss'il vous plaît.  |  Makeup: This YSL glossy lip stain in Fuchsia Dore is my favorite lip color.  |  Random: Do you remember that scene in Sleeping Beauty when the fairies argue over the color of Aurora's dress?  "Make it pink!  Make it blue!"  

This month, let's make it pink!  I tag...

Stephanie at Heart Soul Inspiration
Natalie at OHEMGEE
Kate at Yakatey Yak
Jayne at Cosmetic Proof
and you!

Blush and Brunch

Sugar + Sweet Beauty Giveaway [CLOSED]

10.17.2012

via
I've been reading about sugar, which doesn't have a very sweet reputation these days.  There are good reasons for this.  For instance, an editorial by Mark Bittman recently published in the NY Times suggests that diets high in processed, sugary foods and drinks might be linked to Alzheimer's, which scientists are starting to refer to as "Type 3 diabetes."  Helping your body and mind stay strong is a good reason to be conscientious about what you eat.  The solution, however, is not to replace real sugar with fake stuff.  In a previous post, I mentioned that I avoid artificial sweeteners.  Here's why: aspartame, the sweetener in most diet sodas, is FDA approved and contains zero calories, but certain studies indicate rather convincingly that it is neurotoxic.  When ingested, aspartame breaks down into three components: phenylalanine, aspartic acid and methanol.  There is such a thing as methanol-poisoning; methanol is said to metabolize into formaldehyde once in the body.  Other studies have linked aspartame to an increased risk of leukemia and cancer.  In my opinion, no calorie-cutting is worth these dangerous side effects.  If that's not enough to dissuade you, studies such as this one link diet soda to weight gain. 

Still with me?  Take a deep breath and don't beat yourself up for your use/abuse of sweeteners, real or fake.  While my personal choice to avoid fake sugar might be too extreme for you, as far as real sugar goes I believe that a little is not going to harm you!  I love sweet treats, and I indulge in them regularly, but I make sure to balance them with wholesome meals.  Have you heard of the 80/20 rule?  80% nutritious food, 20% what you please -- follow it as much as you can, and chances are you won't have to worry.  The physical and the mental are closely connected, so be smart and be good to yourself.  This simple philosophy influences my ideas on beauty, health and food as well as my choices as a consumer, all of which constitute a large part of my blog.  

Now for the fun stuff: I recently hit 100 followers on my blog, and as a little way of saying thank you for reading and supporting Ellalogy, I am having my very first giveaway.  The giveaway is sugar-themed!  One lucky reader will win two sweet beauty products:

Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15 (original)
Deborah Lippmann Mirrored Chrome Nail Lacquer in "Sugar Daddy"

The Fresh lip treatment is one of my favorite lip balms ever.  It contains blackcurrant oil, vitamins, antioxidants, and sugar (of course!), which acts as a humectant (basically, this means that sugar helps the active ingredients penetrate your skin).  You can check out the description on Sephora here.  The Deborah Lippmann nail polish is gorgeous.  The color is described as "champagne lilac," and it actually changes from a pastel purple to gold shimmer depending on how the light catches it!  Deborah Lippmann polishes contain no toluene, formaldehyde, DBP or camphor.  

To enter this giveaway, all you have to do is follow this blog on GFC (if you haven't already) and leave a comment below telling me your favorite sweet treat and your email address so I can contact you if you win!  (If you don't feel comfortable leaving your email, that's okay, but if you win and I have no way of contacting you directly, you'll have to watch this blog and get in touch with me!)  I will pick a winner using random.org.  This giveaway is open internationally and will end at 12:00am PST on November 1st, when the winner will be chosen.  Good luck, sweeties!

WINNER
Thank you all for entering the giveaway!  I have selected a winner on random.org, and the winner is... Emily from Newlywed Moments!  Congratulations to Emily, and stay tuned for more giveaways in the future!  

Skincare Edit: October

10.15.2012


When it comes to skincare, I strive to be a creature of habit.  Although I love trying new things, my skin is shocked by too much experimentation.  I used to be guilty of switching from one thing to another and abandoning unfinished bottles of products, but now I've learned to buy with caution and use up the last drop of the old before delving into the new.  This is one of the reasons I don't write many posts on products.  But when I do, it means I've found something worth talking about.

I have combination skin that is fairly sensitive, especially to changes in climate and humidity.  Artificial heating during the winter leaves my skin dehydrated and prone to eczema.  After moving to the US earlier this month with a dwindling skincare stash, I quickly discovered my leftover summer products weren't making the cut.  Mama-Bear came to the rescue and gave me a couple of products to try.  When I added them to the products I already had, I found a great regime featuring a brand that has always enticed me: Caudalie.

Word Play: Extravagance

10.13.2012

EXTRAVAGANCE (n.): 1. lacking restraint in spending money or using resources.  2. exceeding what is reasonable or appropriate. (OED)  This word comes from two Latin words: extra, which means "outside," and vagari, which means "to wander."  So when you indulge in an extravagance, you are "wandering outside" of something.  The question is, what?

Some extravagances cause you to wander outside of your budget, while others offer excuses to wander outside of your schedule.  Some wander outside of normalcy.  But can't other extravagances be normal?  Take baths, for instance.  Extravagant is the only way to describe steeping in rose-scented, skin-softening froth.  But bath-time can also be normal, an hour every few days devoted to letting stress melt away.  When an extravagance becomes a routine affair, is it less extravagant?

Extravagances tend to wander outside the boundaries of reason and need.  This is why you might have a hard time explaining your extravagances to others.  ("No, I'm not hungry.  But yes, I still want dessert.")  You've heard the phrase "necessary extravagance," but in the grand scheme of things, an extravagance can't be necessary.

However, in my opinion, a justification isn't necessary for every extravagance.  If you are responsible and balanced and (most importantly) kind, you can be a little unreasonable every now and again.  Besides, I like to wander.

What are your extravagances?  What do they "wander outside" of?

* * *
A brief note to my readers... I'm a word nerd.  I love playing with words and knowing where they come from.  (Did you know that Dr. Seuss invented the word "nerd"?)  I especially enjoy combining the verbal and the visual.  This is the very first post in what I hope will be a series of weekly posts called "Word Play."  In these posts, I will combine words and images in a variety of ways.  That's the only guideline, so each week should bring something different.  I'm hoping it will be a fun, creative and informal way to incorporate some of the images from my life into reflections on language.  Responses/reactions to these posts are encouraged.  Enjoy!  

Secret Starbucks

10.11.2012

I'm going to let you in on a naughty little Starbucks secret.  It's called a pumpkin spice chai tea latte.  Well technically, it's not called anything because it's not on the menu; if I could name it, I'd call it "pumpkin pie chai."  I understand if you are rolling your eyes right now.  I'm not one for complicated coffee-shop orders, and when the barista at my local Starbucks suggested this concoction, I was not amused.  But I tried it, and now I find myself writing about and photographing a Starbucks drink.  I don't like my drink too sweet, so here's what I order: a tall soy chai tea latte with just one pump of chai and one pump of pumpkin spice.  (Even Eva is curious!)


Let me know if you have any favorite fall-time drinks.  On a related note, it's time for another Coffee Talk with Natalie Blair!  My answers are below.  Don't forget to check out her blog and link up!

Almond Milk Crepes

10.09.2012

Firstly, thank you so much to everyone who participated in the blog hop yesterday, and to my newest readers: welcome!  I have yet to visit all of your blogs, but I'll be sure to stop by soon!  Today's post is about a little discovery that happened in my kitchen last weekend.  I decided on a whim to make crepes, but after measuring out the flour, sugar and salt, I realized I didn't have enough milk.  My solution?  I substituted almond milk and ended up with a delicious new (and slightly healthier) take on a classic recipe: almond milk crepes!


Almond milk is made from crushed almonds.  You can purchase it sweetened or unsweetened, plain or flavored.  For this recipe, I used unsweetened almond milk.  Unlike dairy milk, almond milk is free from lactose and cholesterol.  Unsweetened almond milk is also significantly lower in calories than cow's milk.  I was skeptical about using almond milk in the crepe batter, but when I tasted the first crepe hot from the pan, I was converted.  To learn how to make these simple treats, keep reading!

Pictures from Paris

10.06.2012

Earlier this week, I spent a bit of time in Paris.

View from the Trocadero
Now I'm about 6000 miles away.  Why oh why can't we just teleport?  
To deal with withdrawal symptoms, I've been eating copious amounts of baguettes with brie and going through the photos I took during my time in Paris last week and this past August.  Below are some selections.  This little feast for your eyes is probably best complemented by a croissant and a strong espresso... enjoy and bonne journée!

Fluffy Distraction + Laine Blogger Award

I'm going to get to the point of this post in a second, but first let me introduce you to a certain someone who is sitting by my side.


This is Eva, the family fluff-ball.  She is a Cavachon (Bichon Frise + Cavalier King Charles Spaniel).  Her life consists of two states: hyperactivity and extreme laziness.  I suspect that this is one of the reasons we're such good pals.  She is also talented in being hilarious.  I could probably write an entire blog filled with the amusing things she does.  I'll spare you that, but you're guaranteed to see more of her in future posts!

MOVING ON...

A little while back I was nominated for the Laine Blogger Award by Kate from Yakatey Yak, who was so sweet to think of me!  You should check out her blog, which is always a fun read!


The Rules:
Tag the blogger who awarded you.
Answer the 5 questions below.
Award the Laine Blogger Award to 5 of your favorite bloggers.

Keep reading for the questions, my answers and my nominations!

Spa for Jet-Lag?

10.05.2012

Today I decided that a mini-spa would be a good cure for jet-lag.  I'm back in the USA (and back on my blog) after a whirlwind trip to Paris and 24 hours of traveling (with 120 pounds of luggage)!  I miss Paris so much, and I'll be writing an in-depth post about my time there after I recover from the trip.  Given the time difference from Paris to the west coast, I've essentially switched sleeping and waking times!  But there are some consolations at home, such as a stop at Whole Foods followed by an at-home pampering session.  If you don't already know, Whole Foods is a chain of supermarkets focused on natural and organic foods.  Unfortunately Whole Foods only exists in the US, Canada and the UK, but if you have the opportunity to shop at one, I highly recommend checking out the beauty section -- they maintain high standards when choosing their products and have a great selection of skincare, body care, hair care and makeup that meet these standards (for instance, they stock plant-based and naturally derived products free of chemical preservatives and other nasties).  You can read more about their philosophies here.

Here's what spa time involved:
- AuraCacia pure aromatherapy Soothing Organic Milk & Oat Bath
- earthscience olive & avocado deep conditioning masque for hair
- Giovanni Root 66 Max Volume Shampoo
- ShiKai moisturizing shower gel (coconut)
- Canus Goat's Milk Soap (lilac, almond and honey, lavender)

And some edible treats:
- Theo Chocolate (Dark and Light Salted Almond... my favorite chocolate!)
- Tea forte cherry marzipan green tea (this smells amazing, tastes good, and promises "corrective repair" for your skin)
- Envirokidz Koala Crisp (too cute to resist!... it's basically "healthier" Cocoa Krispies.  I pair it with almond milk.)

There were two main excuses for purchasing new bath products: 1) I had to replace the things I left behind in Paris due to baggage restrictions, and 2) I have been suffering from extremely sensitive skin, so I've picked things that are soothing and simple.  There is no excuse for the chocolate goodies, other than the fact that I am a shameless chocoholic.  I'll keep you posted on how these products work as I use them up!

Beauty On Board

10.01.2012

Hello everyone!  I've just returned to Paris after an overnight flight from the Caribbean.  Going from 100° F to a near-freezing Paris at sunrise was a harsh reminder that it's already the beginning of October!  I was starving when we arrived, so I indulged in a classic French breakfast of pain au chocolat dipped in milk and caught up with family friends.  Now I've just awoken from a massive nap (thanks jet lag... I usually never nap!) and I'm snuggled up under the covers looking like a 90s child in leggings and a sweatshirt.  Before I unpack, I thought I'd show you what was in my carry-on beauty bag as well as share a few of my travel tips.  I've become increasingly low-maintenance these days, so although I bring a bag full of makeup and toiletries in my carry-on, most of it goes untouched in the plane.  However, as far as beauty products go, I don't need much more than the contents of this bag for most trips, so it gives you a sense of what I consider the necessities.

Inside my bag: Nivea Double Effect 24h "violent senses" deodorant // Clarins Eye Contour Balm // Lush Tea Tree Water // Nivea Smooth Nourishing hand cream // Shu Uemura eyelash curler // Caudalie Vinosource Moisturizing Sorbet // Two Faced Shadow Insurance // Maybelline The Falsies mascara // Bobbi Brown and Make Up Forever eyeliners // Tweezerman mini tweezers // Nivea Soothe and Protect SPF15 lip balm // Origins Super Spot Remover // Dior "Creme de Rose" Smoothing Plumping lip balm // Collection 2000 Lasting Perfection Concealer // Dr. Jart BB Cream // Bourjois Healthy Mix Concealer // Stila Smudge Pot in Kitten // Clarins Instant Natural Lip Perfector // Ecotools smudger brush // hand sanitizer

 

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