Monday, October 31, 2011

My New Favorite Beauty Product!

Okay, I admit it.  I am a snob ~ when it comes to mascara, anyway.  How I wish that I could be happy with Maybelline Great Lash and spend $5 every few months on a tube of mascara.  But I'm just not that girl.  I love, love, love mascara, and I'm constantly on a quest to find the world's greatest.  That quest often leads me to department store beauty counters and Sephora {aka The Promised Land}.

For a long time, my go-to in the lash department was Lancome Definicils.  I would probably still like it it if I went back to it ~ it makes your lash loooooong.  However, after a few years I wanted a mascara with more of a volumizing effect ~ my ultimate goal is long, thick, black, fake-lash-looking lashes.  If I could wear false eyelashes every day and get away with it, I would be the happiest girl in the world.  But that takes time and skills that I don't possess, so instead I search for the perfect mascara.  {Plus, I would probably look ridiculous}.

After I moved on from my beloved Definicils mascara, I tried a lot of different products ~ a sample-size of Chanel Inimitable {which I liked a lot, but it's more lengthening than volumizing}; Benefit's Bad Gal Lash {wasn't crazy about it}; Dior Diorshow {LOVE!} and Dior Diorshow Iconic {didn't love so much}; among others.  When I heard about Benefit's new mascara, They're Real!, I just had to give it a try.  From Sephora's website...

What it is:
A jet-black mascara that lengthens, curls, volumizes, lifts, and separates lashes for a spectacular "out-to-here" look.   

What it does:
This mascara features an exclusive brush specially designed to maximize the performance of the long-wearing, glossy formula revealing lashes you never knew you had! Staggered bristles grab close to the root, boosting length and volume beyond belief. The precision bristles on the custom-domed tip lift, define, and curl even your tiniest lashes. The end result is luxurious, silky lashes that won't smudge, clump, or dry out.

Research results:
-94% saw dramatic length and volume*
-90% saw base-to-tip curl*
-94% saw visible lift*
-100% saw long-wearing results*
-*Results observed in a consumer panel survey

I've been using this mascara for a couple months now, and I love it!  It has a plastic brush, which not everybody likes, but I haven't felt that it gives me sub-par results.  With this particular brush, you swipe on mascara like you normally would {holding the brush horizontally and wiggling it a bit as you sweep it root to tip}, but what really helps give your lashes that "false lash" effect is the bristles on the rounded tip.  You sweep those, bit by bit, through your lashes so they can grab onto all the little lashes the regular brush misses.  I curl my lashes, do two coats {brush then tip, brush then tip}, comb with a metal lash comb, and I'm all set!

I will probably never stop searching for the Worlds' Best Mascara ~ but for the time being, I've found a favorite!

Stay beautiful, darlings!


Friday, October 28, 2011

Online Petco Savings {And Happy Birthday Niko!}

For those of you with furry family members {or feathered, finned, scaled, etc}, shop online at for a 15% savings on your entire purchase this weekend ~ no coupon code needed!  {See their website for exclusions}.

At our house, we'll be celebrating our Yorkipoo Niko's sixth birthday on Sunday!  What a smart and well-behaved {most of the time} boy he is!  And so patient with Mom's picture-taking and puppy-dressing!  He actually likes wearing clothes ~ all I have to say is "Niko, let's get dressed!" and he runs over, sits at my feet and waits to don that days wardrobe selection.  Oh yes ~ I am that dog-owner! ;)  {In my defense, Niko was 2 months old and weighed about 3 pounds when we got him in January 2006.  He had no fat to keep him warm, so we had to snuggle him up in cozy sweatshirts!  Yeah, that's my defense...}

So Happy, Happy Birthday to my darling boy Niko!  Mama loves you!  {Perhaps a little too much}

Are your four-legged family members dressing up for Halloween this year?


Spiders and Ghosts and Tombstones, Oh My!

How adorable are these Scary Spiderweb Cupcakes from Betty Crocker?  Adorable, and just creepy enough!  Make these super easy, super festive cupcakes for your Halloween party this weekend!

1 box Betty Crocker SuperMoist devil's food cake mix
   {water, vegetable oil, and eggs called for on cake mix box}
1 container Betty Crocker Rich & Creamy vanilla frosting
3 drops red food color
4-5 drops yellow food color
1 tube {0.68 oz} Betty Crocker black decorating gel
48 large black gumdrops

Heat oven to 350 degrees {325 for dark or nonstick pans}.  Make and cool cupcakes as directed on box for 24 cupcakes.

Tint frosting with red and yellow food colors to make orange frosting.  Spread frosting over tops of cupcakes.

Squeeze circles of decorating gel on each cupcake; pull knife through gel from center outward to make web.  To make each spider, roll out 1 gumdrop and cut out 8 strips for legs; place another gumdrop on top.  Place spider on cupcake.  Store loosely covered.

Yields 24 cupcakes.

Other Betty Crocker Halloween Treats

Tombstone Cupcakes

Owl and Spider Cupcakes {although I don't know what owls have to do with Halloween...}

Friendly Ghost Cupcakes

Trick-or-Treat Brownie Cupcakes

Enjoy all the yummy treats this weekend brings you!



Thursday, October 27, 2011

Design Inspiration: Celebrity Nurseries

Just because we don't all have celebrity-sized bank accounts doesn't mean we can't have homes that look like a million bucks.  I routinely tear out pictures of rooms I like from magazines to save in an inspiration binder for when I actually have a house.  {Well, in theory I save them in a binder ~ in reality, I save them in a pile somewhere, and I have a binder still in the Target bag from when I bought it}.  Sometimes the pictures I save feature celeb homes, and sometimes they're just pictures I come across in a Women's Day-type magazine.  The pictures may feature a piece of furniture I adore, a color scheme I'd like to copy, or a whole room set-up that I could draw inspiration from.  I like to think about how I'd design every room in my future house, but one of my favorite groups of pictures to save are the baby nurseries.

Baby nurseries of the rich and famous can range from over-the-top and opulent to simple and serene.  Most of them have at least a few elements you could duplicate in your own house.

Luxe fabrics, grown-up worthy color palates, and decadent details

The nursery where Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon's twins lay their little heads is actually not as extravagant as I would have expected from the diva, although I'm sure she selected the finest fabrics and furniture that money can buy.  Save for the chandelier and the almost life-sized giraffe, the room is actually kind of understated {by Mariah Carey standards, anyway} ~ creamy neutrals, sage greens, and baby pinks complete the whole color scheme.

Rascal Flatts singer Jay DeMarcus and wife Allison also decorated their daughter's nursery in beautiful neutrals ~ creams, tans, golds, and pinky-beiges.  Although the two crystal chandeliers and what appear to be crushed velvet golden-hued drapes might be a bit over-the-top, I do love the intricate, vintage-y carvings on baby Madeline's crib.

Anything goes ~ whimsical themes, bright colors, and special touches that no one else has

Back in 2008, Christina Aguilera took an eclectic approach to decorating baby Max's room ~ video game-style mural on the wall, lots of teddy bears, and an enormous "Man in the Moon" fixture {which was actually featured on stage during her tour the year before}.  Most of us can't ~ or won't ~ get our hands on a 10-foot scowling moon for baby's room, but the darling round white crib is definitely worth considering.

When Manny Ramirez played for the Red Sox, he decked out his son's room in their Boston condo with {what else} full-on baseball decor.  A hand-painted mural of Fenway Park under the lights ~ complete with a scoreboard, cheering fans in the stands, a twinkling dark blue sky, and the famous Citgo sign ~ covered the walls and ceiling.  A baseball-themed boys' room?  Perfect!

Soft colors, comfortable furniture, child-friendly decor

Marcia Cross's twin daughters' nursery has a spa-like vibe to it, doesn't it?  Dusty purple walls + clean white furniture and detailing = a calming environment to bond in with your baby {with comfortable matching armchairs to slump in during those 3 a.m. feedings and all night scream-a-thons}.

The nursery Jessica Alba pulled together for new baby Haven is bright and breezy, with sporadic pops of color {note the multi-colored staggered picture frames and bright-blue bookshelves}.  With a sturdy woven area rug and decor that isn't too matchy-matchy, baby Haven's room could easily belong to any kid in the neighborhood.

The last two pictures show Brooke Burke's shabby chic nursery for daughter Heaven Rain.  A classic pink-and-white palette, wood-beamed ceiling, plush daybed for mom to rest in and Heaven to grow into, and plenty of country-chic details make this simple design scheme simply fabulous.

My Favorite
 A little bit of this and a little bit of that become a stunning, personalized space

As if Ali Landry, former beauty queen, wasn't perfect enough ~ she also created an amazing, enviable room for her baby girl Estela.  The room featured is actually Estela's playroom, but the plush, pretty decor could easily be used in a nursery.  Using pinks and yellows, stripes and florals, Ali makes the room flow by keeping everything in the same color family.  Overstuffed armchairs and comfy-looking pillows make the space inviting, and personal touches {framed original Barbie sketches; baby dresses worn by Ali and Estela hanging on the wall} personalize it.  Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.

And there you have it ~ a range of nurseries for the Hollywood set that run the gamut from completely classic to out-of-this-world.  While you and I may or may not be able to afford the exact furniture, linens, and interior designers that the stars can, with some creativity and resourcefulness, you can create the room of your dreams!  Pull inspiration from everywhere around you to create color palettes, themes and personal touches that make the room yours.


{photo credits:;;;;;;;;;}

An Autumn Day in Salem

I have wanted to visit Salem, Massachusetts in October for close to a decade now.  Salem, of course, was the location of the infamous Salem Witch Trails in 1692.  During that time, 19 men and women were accused of witchcraft and hanged ~ beginning with Bridget Bishop.  Additionally, Giles Corey was "pressed" to death over a period of two days, with stones being piled higher and higher on his chest; he had refused to enter a plea and thus could not be formally tried as a witch {and hanged}, so they used this method to try to force him into giving in and entering a plea.  He never pled guilt or innocence, even while being subjected to this torture.  The only words he uttered during this time?  "More weight".  {Hey, look at that ~ I actually learned something on my guided tour!}

In what would today a be a gross violation of the judicial process {and at that time still should have been considered morally wrong}, these men and women were accused and convicted mostly using spectral evidence.  "Spectral" kind of sounds like "speculation", and has pretty much the same meaning.  Concrete evidence was not a requirement for these accusations of witchcraft to be taken seriously ~ just someone saying they "knew" that the person was a witch was enough {sometimes, because it came to them in a vision or a dream}.  Obviously, this "evidence" would never fly in a court of law today, but it was good enough for a Puritan town immensely fearful of witchcraft and the Devil, and because of that almost two dozen innocent people were killed in Salem over 300 years ago.

Okay, had enough of a history lesson for today?  :)  Now you know the background of why Salem is associated with witches, and in turn, Halloween; and, why I've wanted to visit Salem during the Halloween season for so long.  The town goes all out for Halloween, with haunted houses, ghost tours, witch museums, and more.  Of course it's all sort of kitschy and touristy, but that's part of the fun of it!

So finally, finally, finally my pumpkin {aww...} and I headed up to Salem this past weekend.  I couldn't have asked for more perfect fall weather for a Halloweeny trip ~ a bit overcast, but cool, brisk air, with multicolored leaves on the trees and the ground.  I had checked out some Salem tourism sites {like Haunted Happenings} beforehand, but I didn't book any specific tours ~ we figured we would walk around and see where the day took us.  Our parking garage attendant handed us a guide booklet when we pulled into the garage, and you could also pick one up at the Salem Visitor's Center ~ it includes a map with all the local attractions marked on it.

Our first stop in Salem was the Salem Wax Museum.  For $8 each, we spent about 15-20 minutes on a self-guided tour through the small, two-room museum.  Plaques at each wax figure explained who you were looking at and what their story was ~ we "met" most of those accused in the witch trails, as well as prominent political and business figures of the time.  I am glad we checked it out, but I don't think I would feel the need to go again ~ it is very small, and I think once you've seen the amazing, lifelike celebrity wax figures that Madame Tussaud's wax museums put out, any other wax museum pales in comparison.

Next, we walked up Derby Street several blocks to The House of the Seven Gables.  This seaside home was the setting for one of Nathaniel Hawthorne's most notable works, The House of the Seven Gables.  Adult admission was $12.50 each and included a guided group tour of the house, as well as self-guided exploration of the other features of the property {including the house where Nathaniel Hawthorne lived during his childhood, which was moved to this location from where it was originally situated elsewhere in Salem}.  The guided tour shared information about the home's previous owners {including three generations of the Turner family and a sea captain by the name of Ingersoll}, and points out elements in the house that readers would recognize from Hawthorne's book.  We also learned a bit about Caroline Emmerton, who bought the property in the early 1900s and turned it into the museum we have today.  The tour was very thorough and interesting; we learned which sections of the house were completely original, which were added on by different generations of the Turner family, and which features were added during Caroline Emmerton's restoration of the property.  I probably wouldn't feel the need to tour The House of the Seven Gables again for myself, but I wouldn't hesitate to join a friend who wanted to visit it ~ it was interesting, beautiful, and informative.

After our Seven Gables tour, we headed back into the downtown Salem area.  Dusk was falling over the town and it seemed like the perfect time to look into doing a walking ghost tour.  There are so many to choose from, and of course every company proclaims themselves to be the "best tour in Salem!".  I had read that the Salem's 13 Ghosts tour was led by "zombies", which sounded just like the type of silly, spooky fun I was looking for.  I was a bit disappointed with this tour, though.  There wasn't anything wrong with it, but I felt more like I was on a history tour than a ghost tour.  I had already learned so many historical facts at the wax museum and the Seven Gables house ~ what I wanted for a nighttime walking tour were ghost stories.  I don't want a tour that's going to make it hard for me to sleep at night, but a little chill up my spine would be great ~ it's Halloween!  The only two "legend has it", supernatural-type tidbits I picked up on this tour ~ that almost every Salem town sheriff has allegedly reported waking to the feeling of something "pressing" on their chest {remember our friend Giles Corey?} and has died from a heart attack or heart condition; and that in the area where Bridget Bishop's house and apple orchards were {where a bar is now situated}, people sometimes detect the distinct scent of apples when there are no apples around.  That's what I want to find out on my ghost tours ~ eerie coincidences, supernatural happenings, ghost sightings.  The 13 Ghosts tour didn't have enough of those, and I would find a different tour group next time.

 We finished up our night in Salem with dinner at New England Soup Factory.  I wasn't even aware that there was a New England Soup Factory in Salem until I looked at my guide map, and it made my day!  I used to visit the New England Soup Factory in Brookline, MA  frequently when I was in college.  I would almost always get the lobster newburg, and that's what I ordered this weekend.  It tasted just as delicious as it did the last time I ate it almost seven years ago.

I was glad to wind up my evening in Salem on a slightly spooky note.  On the ghost tour, our zombie guide had mentioned that when a supernatural presence is near, sometimes people have issues with their electronics.  Look what happened when I was trying to snap a picture of the New England Soup Factory sign after leaving the restaurant...

Coincidence?  Or the ghost of Giles Corey or Bridget Bishop saying hello?  Hmmm.....

Happy Haunting!


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Great Discount Shopping Site for the Whole Family

So by now we're all familiar with Groupon, right?  Groupon offers daily deals, via email and their website, and if a predetermined number of people want to buy the deal, they all get to purchase said deal at a fantastic price.  Do you use some of the other "daily deal" websites, though?  There are a ton of "invitation-only" sites that offer hugely discounted deals daily, like Groupon ~ but unlike Groupon, you aren't depending on a group of strangers to want to buy the same deal before you can purchase it too.  With these sites, if a deal is up, it's yours to purchase ~ and they offer anything from women's and men's clothing and accessories to travel packages around the world.  My favorite of these 'discount' sites is Rue La La.

Signing up for a Rue La La account is free, and once you sign up you have access to all their ever-changing deals and discounts.  Every deal has an expiration date {it's usually a few days}, and when you're signed in on the site you can preview what deals are on deck for the next few days {so you know when to sign back in and buy something fab, natch!}.  Rue La La sets up their deals in "boutiques" ~ for example, a Calvin Klein boutique or a Pottery Barn boutique {neither of which are listed right now ~ just an example}.  Instead of offering a particular style of pants, or a certain lamp or end table, for sale, there are a number of items in each boutique to choose from.  Their boutiques showcase big-name designers; as such, sometimes the deals are still a bit pricey.  A lot of times, though, they're absolute steals!  {Affordable Christmas shopping for the whole family, anyone?  I think yes!}

Want some examples of what Rue La La has to offer?  No problem!  Here we go...

From top:  Gemma Grey Python silk top for $49.90 {reg $135}; Hype "Lyn" jade dot print silk blouse for $59.90 {reg $132}; Casadei heels {on left ~ Satin Peep-Toe Pump for $329.90, reg $850}

From top:  Briggs & Riley "Verb" expandable rolling case for $159.90 {reg $329}; Cullen Black wool-cashmere crewneck sweater for $69.90 {reg $175}; Peter Millar Alpine vest for $49.90 {reg $149.50}.

From top: Canvas to Art custom sepia canvas for $49.90 - $119.90 {reg $74 - $205}; Company C "Fairfield" duvet and sham for $39.90 - $119.90 (reg $80 - $425}; Vera Wang "Love Knots" wine glass for $19.90 {reg $42.50}; Bartholomew Park Winery 3-bottle mixed set for $69.90 {reg $108}.

Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa 3-night or 7-night packages for one or two people for $1,799 - $8,949 {reg $2,785 - $12,230}

LittleMissMatched pink and purple mod trench for $39.90 {reg $72}; Pickles "Mac" 3-piece dinner set for $19.90 {reg $34.99}

Whew!  And those were just some of the deals available right this minute on Rue La La.  Remember, new deals pop up daily and they're only available for a limited time, so the merchandise may be completely different when you get a chance to look them up.  As you can see though, they have a wide range of products available, in a very wide price range. 

Interested in checking out Rue La La or signing up?  Click here!

Have fun browsing, girls!


{photo credits:  all}

Trend Spotting: Slippers

What could be more convenient than those rare moments when fashion and comfort combine?  Not much, especially when it comes to footwear!  Lucky for all of us, and our aching feet, slippers have now gone mainstream.  You can fancy them up with skirts, dresses, and dressy shorts; or go casual-chic in a pair of skinnies {jeans, khakis, or even leather pants, a la Elizabeth Olsen} that hit at or just above the ankle.

You can check out Who What Wear {they pulled together the "Accessory Report" above}, but if you're not prepared to spend upwards of $100 {and up to $2195!} for a pair that they suggest, you may want to try the more wallet-friendly pairs I found, below.

 At Charlotte Russe, my favorite store for cheap, trendy shoes, you can get these velvet leopard-print flats for just $22.50!

I found this adorable multicolor Rocket Dog pair on sale at Macy's for $31.50.

And last but not least ~ DSW carries Crown Vintage's Sinful flat in both black and leopard-print for $39.95.

Have fun shoe shopping, dolls!


{photo credits:;;;}

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

New Calphalon Waffle Maker

New at Williams-Sonoma ~ Calphalon's Classic Round Waffle Maker!  With a MSRP of $100.00, Williams-Sonoma has it listed at $69.95!  Click here to check it out.  From the website:
Bake waffles to perfection with Calphalon’s high-tech, simple-to-use waffler. Simply pour in batter, choose your desired level of doneness and let the waffler work its magic. No need to peek – the indicator light lets you know when your crispy-tender treats are ready.
 Just in time for those cozy holiday breakfasts!  Yum!


Monday, October 24, 2011

Spooky Snack -- Butterfinger Eyeballs!

Looking for a yummy, unique Halloweeny sweet to serve up at your Halloween party or treat your coworkers to?  Check out these fun and funky Butterfinger Eyeballs {recipe courtesy of my dear friend Kaydee, via Razzle Dazzle Recipes}.

Butterfinger Eyeballs

Wax paper
1 cup creamy peanut butter {not all-natural}
2 Tbsp butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 Nestle Butterfinger candy bar, chopped
2 cups Nestle Tollhouse Premier White Morsels
3 Tbsp vegetable shortening
2 packages Butterfinger BB's candies
1 small tube red decorator icing
Wooden pick or skewer for dipping

Line two baking sheets with wax paper.

Beat peanut butter and butter in a large mixing bowl until creamy.  Beat in powdered sugar until mixture holds together and is moistened.   Stir in chopped Butterfinger.  Shape into 1-inch "eyeballs".  Place on baking sheets.  Freeze for 1 hour.

Melt morsels and shortening in a large, uncovered microwave-safe bowl on MEDIUM-HIGH power for 1 minute and 30 seconds; STIR.  Morsels may retain some of their original shape.  If necessary, microwave at additional 10- to 15-second intervals, stirring until just melted.  Remove one baking sheet of frozen "eyeballs" from freezer {keep other sheet in freezer until ready to use}.

Dip one "eyeball" into melted morsel mixture using a wooden pick or skewer.  Shake off excess and return to baking sheet.  Gently press one Butterfinger BB on top of "eyeball" to make a "pupil".  Repeat procedure with remaining "eyeballs" on baking sheet.  Refrigerate until coating is set.  Repeat with remaining sheet of "eyeballs" and coating.  You may find it necessary to reheat morsel mixture before dipping second batch.  Before serving, pipe decorator icing around eyeballs to create bloodshot markings.  Store in covered container in refrigerator.  Best served cold.


{photo credit:  Kaydee}

Say it with a Free E-Card

You know those times you want to drop a note to someone to say "Congratulations!", "Happy Birthday!", or "I'm So Glad We're Friends!"?  Or those times you want to send someone a message just to make them smile?  Or those times you're bored out of your mind at work and want to kill time on silly websites ~ and then maybe share with someone so they can kill time while they're bored at work too?  Enter {among other excellent time-killing sites} the world of free E-Cards.

I've used someecards for a year or so now, and I just discovered Bluntcard today.  Sarcasm is the name of the game on these sites, which is why they're right up my alley.  Someecards is a more extensive site, but both offer e-cards in a wide variety of categories ~ birthdays; jobs; current events; relationships; friendships; apologies; and almost every holiday imaginable {actually, probably literally every holiday imaginable}.  Someecards also has sports; babies; get well; graduation; music and movies; and more ~ plus, they have an E-Invite section.

Both sites have cards that contain some saucy language {Bluntcard seemed to have more}, so if you're easily offended you may want to beware.  Someecards and Bluntcard both have the option of emailing your E-cards, or sharing them via Facebook, Twitter, and various image-sharing sites.

Overall I prefer someecards ~ they have a much wider selection and their cards are funnier in general.  I did find some that made me crack a smile on Bluntcards too though {like the two I posted here}.  

So whether you're looking to kill time, or send a message to that special someone {who speaks the languages of sarcasm and humor, preferably fluently}, or if you're just looking to kill some time and get a chuckle yourself, give these E-Card sites a try.  I usually send them "just because".  Life's short ~ sometimes, you just need to be silly.

Hope these made you smile!