Monday, April 3, 2017

Our trip to Paris day 1 and 2!

Let me preface this by saying that I love learning and seeing new things. I get excited about everything and experience things on a level bordering on "over passionate". I'm not sure that's a real thing, but I soak in everything I see and have wide open eyes and ears. I take in the sights, smells, tastes, history and the stories so I can better remember and experience what I'm seeing. :) Joie de vivre!

From the TOP:

The flight to Paris.

It was cute to think that an overnight flight would mean waking up refreshed in another country ready to party. Overnight flight really meant trying to force myself to sleep for 9 hours.

Got off the plan, ubered (cannot recommend Uber or Lyft enough) to the hotel in Le Marais. *cue starry eyed staring out the window for the entire drive* Uber driver was our worst "frenchman" experience. In all honesty, he may or may not have spoken English - I can tell you he didn't want to talk to us and I don't blame him. Do your thing, boo.

We stayed in the super interesting and modern Astotel 123 Sebastopol . It's movie themed hotel, which I wasn't sure about a modern hotel in Paris until we checked in. The facade fits right in with all the beautiful historic buildings, but the inside is fresh and hip. 

An amazing balcony for eating patisseries and people watching. Our balcony directly faced several apartment buildings (with images of french film celebs painted on their walls especially for hotel guests to gaze upon. crazy) and everyone had their windows wide open on the lovely day. So yeah, we peeping tom'd them. Duh. It was just like the movies. One dude had no pants on and was eating a pastry so ... obviously worth the stalking.

Day 1 in Paris:

I should put a pic of the Eiffel Tower here.

Feeling a bit jet lagged but also BEYOND pumped up to be in Paris, we kept it relatively simple and roamed around Le Marais a bit then decided to see the Eiffel Tower so we really felt like we were in Paris. We got our first croissant and pain au chocolate at the Eiffel Tower - perfectly apropos! We
figured out the Metro relatively quickly thanks to google maps. Getting around Paris became fun and about people watching and not intimidating in the slightest.

After feeling satisfied with my 200 photos of the Eiffel Tower, we decided to check out the Champs Élysées. it's mostly your standard chain shopping situation BUT - this includes the Sephora flagship which is clearly "the mothership". I mean, that store NEVER ENDS (single tear of appreciation). Tragically, the rest of Paris also decided it was the place to be, so it was a hot mess of humanity. No one speaks the same language so we all just bounced off of each other and swatched lipstick on our hands. I walked out of there with a bag of goodies, an empty wallet, and a grin as big as Notre Dame.

In the Champs Elysees district is the Arc De Triomphe. It was built as an homage to those who fought and died in the French Revolutionary war. It was cool to see, but almost seemed oddly out of place right next to the Mall of America... of Paris. I don't mean to under appreciate the history here, but jet lag is no joke and I was feeling it in my bones!

Walking miles and miles pays off when you begin to realize that EVERYTHING in Paris is full of history and beauty and detail and art.

don't close your eyes or you'll miss the beauty.
cobblestone streets and pigeons probably eating fries all day.

Crashed at 9p after a meal at place called Le Parisian - which sounds so touristy, but I assure you - it was the opposite of a tourist trap! I really felt like this was my first glimpse into how young Parisians live. A large table of 20 somethings (oh jeez, i'm old and I have no idea how old people are) were hanging out. People would wander up to their table, be loudly and joyously greeted and at some point, one of those people would fill my wine glass. I wasn't sure who it would be. Talk about laid back. Also, my favorite is creme brûlée and I ate it on the streets of Paris. (le sigh)

DAY 2, Paris!

Started off the day with a delicious breakfast in our hotel including cafe au lait, a random fruit and cheese "salad" (amazing), a huge chunk of brie, watery eggs (a universal hotel staple!), chicken sausage, and all the pastries and our first baguette! Apparently, eggs are only served at breakfast for tourists as eggs are reserved for lunch and dinner.

Palace De Versailles. This place is so interesting. Plan to wait in line for a long time just to step foot inside, but while you wait, you feast your eyes on the beauty that is Versailles. *travel tip* it was suggested to us to get the Rick Steves app and upload anything you might be interested in, preferably from your home wifi. He has walking tours and general fun information on every major European city. They even factor in lines so pop in your headphones and begin learning about everything in front of you. We didn't need to book a tour at Versailles thanks to Rick.

Decor to the hilt.

Palace De Versailles - hall of mirrors, Marie Antoinette, Napoleon, King Louis XVI, miles of gardens, you get it. It's amazing. Room after room filled with detailed decor from floor to ceiling. Only complaint is that it's SO crowded that sometimes it was tough to get a good look around each room. Fortunately, you can take a macaron (not macaroon, people) snack break and have a cafe au lait to gather up strength to fight the crowds once again.

Picked up a rock from the grounds and couldn't WAIT to give it to my history loving 6 year old. Napoleon could have walked on this rock! You could easily spend an entire day on the grounds alone, so allow plenty of time for Versailles on a beautiful day!

On to Montmartre which is a place we weren't sure we would have the time to visit. SO GLAD WE WENT. This is the exact vibe I look for in every city I visit. Artsy, slightly touristy, always a little questionable, heartbeat of every city. Montmartre is clearly a little more touristy than the usual artsy area as it leads directly to Sacre Coeur Basilica, but definitely worth seeing as it all leads UP UP UP.

France first - CREPES! Lemon sugar and a giant glass of wine. The crepes were thicker than ones I've had NOT in Paris, I can only assume my American crepes are stupid and wrong.

Sacre Coeur Basilica. After walking up 10,000,000 steps and slowly accepting my inevitable death, I caught my breath and was immediately targeted by the local con artists. I wore all black and a frown! I couldn't look anymore Parisian! Come to find out, they target everyone. He actually took my hand. These dudes are bold! NO. Don't touch me, bro. I firmly let him know I wasn't going down like that and he left me alone.
After questioning the validity of the miles on the treadmill back home - I finally made it up the stairs to an amazingly beautiful view of Paris. I have to say that this is one of my favorite experiences so far. A hundred year old church with deep history.

You can feel the holiness the moment you walk into Sacre Coeur even though tourists flood this beautiful church. It's moving and sacred and unless you are an idiot, you have a tremendous amount of respect the moment you step one foot inside. We happened to walk in during mass and it was truly beautiful. A holy place indeed.

Next up - dinner cruise on La Seine. It was an interesting experience, to say the least. They played lots of American music and I had no idea what I was looking at as no one told us anything and just expected us to follow the paper we were given - but guys... they also gave us LOTS of wine and champagne! It was confusing as every single thing out the window looks like a freaking 2,000,000 year old miracle. They spent a lot of time on the Statue De Liberte and played Alicia Keys "New York" on blast... which is hilarious and obviously catering to the Americans. I'll take it.

This is the first time I saw the Eiffel Tower at night and the amazing light show they have every hour after the sun sets. I will say that I had a "moment". Surreal. Magical. Tres belle.

oh hey there

Just couldn't bring ourselves to go to bed since the night was beautiful and La Seine is such an unforgettable area to walk. Walked a couple miles toward Notre Dame and holy frijoles. If you don't respect what you're seeing, you should reevaluate your life. Popped in my ear buds and let Rick Steves tell me what I was looking at. In other news, a giant Parisian rat ran past where I was sitting and marveling at the glory that is Notre Dame. What a cool life that rat has.

Day 2 in the books. Missing Paris already and I haven't even left yet.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Quick and Easy Beauty Tips!

I know you're busy. We all are. BUT.. here are a few quick and easy beauty tips to add to your routine to freshen up your look with almost no effort.

--Brighten your teeth with baking soda and peroxide
In 4th grade, I sat at the end of a hopscotch court (I had to google that, but wikipedia says it's a court). Needless to say, I have some fake teeth because hopscotch involves THROWING ROCKS. I thought I needed a whole new set of choppers to see teeth that didn't resemble corn on the cob after rocking (I'm sorry) these fake teeth for the last 20+ years. Instead of $2,000 - how about $2?

Try this: wet your toothbrush with a small amount of hydrogen peroxide, put a couple tablespoons of baking soda in a small bowl. Dip your damp toothbrush into the baking soda. GENTLY scrub your teeth in circular motions. Rinse your mouth with water, or follow with a regular brushing with toothpaste. 1x/week

--Deep condition your hair at night
My ends are DRY AS A BONE, Y'ALL. I've been bleaching and coloring and ombreing and balayaging my hair for years. To combat the ill effects, I've been known to slick on a little coconut oil on the ends, and tie my hair back into a loose braid. If you tend to have breakouts, you will want to keep the coconut oil to a minimum in case some transfers to your pillow case. If you have dry skin, get your groove on. You can even massage it into your scalp. Just make sure you have plenty of time to shampoo it all out the next morning before you have any planned activities (trust me).

--Try a silk pillowcase
Fine lines and wrinkles and split ends can be minimized by switching from your standard cotton pillow case to a silk pillowcase. The slickness of the fabric helps you to slide around a little better instead of gripping to the cotton, causing creasing and snagging hair and skin. There are so MANY options to choose from out there, from ones containing copper, to antibacterial pillowcases that are perfect for those of us who are more acne prone! This is a very popular trend right now and I don't think it's going anywhere anytime soon!

--Mix your sunscreen into your moisturizer OR your foundation
It doesn't seem like much, but it's summer time and the humidity is at 400% so your regular full foundation probably isn't happening anyway. YOU NEED (broad spectrum) SUNSCREEN EVERY DAY. I do NOT play about my skincare, and neither should you. You'll be running to us estheticians begging for help with your fine lines and sun spots and we'll be shaking our heads behind your backs. Just kidding. Sort of. Also, slap a little sunscreen on the tops of your hands and your décolleté. The sun hits there too and I don't need anyone asking for my "wisdom" due to my age spots quite yet.

--Try a Korean sheet mask!
These are just fun. I'm not seeing life changing results, but my skin definitely has a soft glow after using these and you get to send horrifying selfies to all your friends while you watch The Bachelorette, which is a very good use of your time...obviously. I'm into the Tony Moly brand masks because they are inexpensive and you can find ones with ridiculous patterns on them like a panda's face (please don't ask me why anyone would want this. I have no idea, but i want it). But, if you're more into high end, Dr. Jart has an incredible hydrating one that is chock full of fancy ingredients but still has the horrifying selfie factor that we all crave.

--Take your vitamins every day!!
You'll feel better and you'll look better. I mean stop it. It doesn't get any easier than this.

These are just a few little things I've been adding in to my routines and they are making a difference!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Product love: Cleansing Conditioner

We tend to neglect our scalps until something is wrong because we have been "conditioned" (Sorry, I couldn't resist) to the routine of shampoo at the root, condition the end.  I am a believer of this much of the time,but there are times when your scalp could use a little love.  Cue the cleansing conditioner.  This product is designed to condition and cleanse simultaneously - hence the name.  It will not strip your natural oils and leaves your hair and scalp clean and hydrated in one step. I started using this last winter when I went through a particularly unpleasant itchy scalp phase.  I thought I had lice about 10 times people.  It's enough to drive a person insane.  Anyway, I decided to try this and it neutralized my scalp issues and gave me peace of mind at the same time.  Priceless.

How to use a cleansing conditioner: Wet hair thoroughly.  My hair is super long, so I use about 10-12 pumps of product.  Mix in a little water. Apply half to the crown of your head and half to the underside of your head - directly to the scalp.  Massage in for a few minutes at the scalp - then work your way down to the ends. Let it absorb into your hair for a few more minutes, then rinse out!  Sounds like a pain but honestly, think about the shampoo twice then condition for 3 (or more) minutes routine you're used to!  Yep.

If you find that your ends need little more moisturizing, take half a pump and lightly massage into the ends as a leave in conditioner.   It's a 3in 1!  Use your standard shampoo and conditioning method approximately 1 to every 6 cleansing conditioners.

Side note: if you have been wanting to try Wen, but are not thrilled by the price point and negative attention they have been getting lately, try this.  It has all the benefits, none of the bad chemicals (free of sulphates, parabens, dyes, gluten, phthalates, propylene glycol and they do not test on animals!), and the price is fantastic. This is also great for any and all hair types and ethnicities.  That's tough to find!

Renpure Solutions Rosemary Mint Cleansing Conditioner -
You can buy it here or you can pick it up at your local Target.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Makeup Primers. Do you need one?

Some people love primer - others find it to be a waste of time.  As a foundation wearer, I personally love the results I get with a smooth primed face. I don't wear a foundation primer every day, but if I am going to be in pictures, if I have a long day and won't have time to look at myself in the mirror for 14 hours, or when my skin isn't looking particularly smooth and even, I will definitely be taking a moment to make this happen.

If you are an eye shadow wearer, eye primer is a necessity!  Here is why I have a love affair with both face and eye primers and why I highly recommend a primer - especially if you don't have  a.) perfect skin or  b.) are a human - You can usually fall into AT LEAST one of these categories.

Pros of foundation primer:
- foundation looks smoother
- foundation is less likely to settle into fine lines
- foundation lasts longer - which in turn helps everything applied after foundation to also last
- specific formulas can fill in fine lines and pores and give the look of a perfect complexion - with or without foundation over it.
 - excellent for color correction
- can add luminosity
- look for oil free formulas to help oily skin hang on to your makeup for hours longer
- many have additional health benefits such as Vitamins or an SPF

Cons of foundation primer:
- adds time to your makeup routine
- another layer of product on your face

Put a pea sized amount on your finger tips, then gently smooth across your entire face, including lightly on the under eye area. I use a flat kabuki brush to put it on in seconds all over.

Primers that fill pores.  These are good for all skin types.  Foundation or no.
Benefit POREfessional
This is the holy grail of smoothing primers.  Someone actually thought I was my daughter's big sister.  I give all the credit to a broad spectrum SPF and this primer.
- these primer formulas are great for anyone without perfectly smooth skin (isn't that everyone?).  Slight scarring, large pores, fine lines, any imperfections that leave skin with an uneven texture.  Put a pea sized amount on your finger tips, then gently smooth across your entire face, including lightly on the under eye area.

NYX Studio Perfect Primer in Clear
- an affordable basic option that smooths skin and sets the tone for the rest of your makeup.

 - This is your basic oil free primer. This can also be worn without foundation to smooth and help control shine.  I love all Smashbox primers (in general) for under foundation as well.

Color correction primers -
 - these are great if you're a little red or a little yellow and need a little nudge into the neutral zone.

- I love this one for under eye darkness.  This is a primer, not a concealer, but this helps with all color correction. When concealing undereye circles, always lean towards a concealer that has a touch of a peachy shade to it.  Because undereye circles tend to be purple or blue, the opposite color on the color wheel will help neutralize them!  That would be ORANGE!  It's crazy, but it works.  That's also why you see a trend right now of women using orange red lipsticks under their eyes then covering it with a skin tone concealer.  Works wonders. Just make sure you practice that at home before you step out into the world if you try this interesting technique.

MAC Prep + Prime Fix +
- Kind of a confusing product if you chat with the MAC people, but my experience is that I spritz my face a couple times in lieu of a typical creamy primer on days that I'm in a hurry or am feeling dry.  This is hydrating and refreshing and helps get your skin ready for what comes next.  I also like to apply this when my makeup is finished.  It especially helps if you've found yourself getting a little powder happy!  I especially love this in the summer.  Feels goooood.

If you are an eye shadow lover, you are doing yourself an injustice if you don't use a shadow primer!  

Pros of Shadow primer:
- remember when you spent 5-10 minutes putting on eyeshadow this morning?  a good primer will allow you to gaze upon your work hours and hours later.
- many have concealing qualities and can help cover any darkness or veins
- it will help your shadows to go on true to color.  See that color of shadow you picked out? Well forget about it! It doesn't look like that when you put it straight on your eyelid if you have any darkness or oiliness.
- many have anti aging benefits and vitamins - heck yes.

Cons of Shadow Primer:
- nothing.  It's amazing and you should go buy some right now.  :)

Put a tiny bit (teeny tiny bit) on the pad of your ring finger or on a small fluffy brush and apply all over your lid up to your brow.  If you choose a colorless primer, go ahead and drag it across your brows too as any brow product you apply after that will now have serious staying power.

- the price is RIGHT on this guy and it works!  it is colorless, so it will not conceal, but it works beautifully to help keep your shadow stay right where you put it!  I highly recommend this one!

MAC Paint Pot in Painterly
- the go to product to conceal and prime your lid.  Drag this up to the lid and around your tear duct and you're already looking like you got 10 hours of sleep.  Yes, please.

 Urban Decay Primer Potion
This is a classic shadow primer.  Good stuff and if you use it with Urban Decay's super pigmented shadows - holy moly.  So good.

I would recommend a face primer for those special occasions and anytime you wear makeup or eye shadow - definitely take an extra 10 seconds to put on a thin layer of shadow primer!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Peanut Butter Balls!

My kids are ALWAYS starving when they come home from school. It's hard to find the right snack that will stick to their ribs without making them too full for dinner or, filling their bellies with junk food.  These simple high protein treats have been just the perfect kid/mom pleaser. Even the kiddos can help!

Peanut Butter Balls
1/2 cup (7 Tbsp.) peanut butter (lightly spray your measuring cup with Pam for easy release)
1/2 cup honey (we do local raw honey to help with allergies!)
2 Tbsp powdered milk
1 cup toasted wheat germ - high in folic acid and vitamin a

I have heard some people say they like to roll their balls in different things like raisins, chocolate chips, coconut, crushed peanuts, cocoa powder, etc.  We like ours plain, but feel free to spice yours up!

Mix well.  I suggest using your hands at the end.  This is a good time to get your kiddos to help because everyone knows kids love messes. 

Then, take tablespoon sized scoops and roll into balls.  I like to use a cookie dough scoop so they will be even in size - just spray with Pam before scooping.  My kids like to roll out a couple snakes.  I don't care what you do...just have fun!  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  They will firm up and be tasty little energy bites that you can take to go or just eat while you run around outside and play!  Enjoy!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Game Changer

I've been a licensed skin care therapist/makeup artist since 2003 and I can't even begin to tell you how many products I have tried.  I wear a full face of makeup fairly regularly and am always looking for the least amount of steps that lead to the best results.  This leads me to the cleanser that I received in my Ipsy bag this month that has completely replaced my former cleanser.  This is huge.  Trust me.

Pur~lisse pur~delicate Gentle Soy Milk Cleanser and Makeup Remover  They tried to think of a long name for the cleanser, but they just decided to go with this.  I'm kidding.  It's 9 words! 
But seriously -  This. Stuff.  So good!  Despite the fact that it's a creamy consistency, it works for all skin types, including true sensitive skin.  In fact, it's even great for oily skin because cleansers with sulfates can strip your skin making your skin produce more oil as a defense mechanism.  Cruel irony.  I know and I'm sorry. 

This is a soap free gentle cleanser that will completely remove your makeup.  I have put it to the test with long wearing liquid eye liners and waterproof mascara.  Wash hands, then apply a nickel sized amount onto your face with your wet hands, gently massage across your face and even onto your eyes!  Rinse with a soft cloth (I like to use baby wash cloths), repeat.  Skin rinses clean with no residue and no trace of makeup.  Soft, clean and healthy skin. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Beauty Trends for 2015

2015 has brought gorgeous wearable beauty trends for every woman. This season is showing classic red and nude lips, glowing skin, plum shadows, and lashes lashes lashes.  Stiff, perfectly coiffed hair is no longer representing the on trend girl of this year.  Messy, coming-undone styles are the way to go!  And let's not forget those finger tips!  Negative space manicure's are always gorgeous and classy with a touch of edge that is still "office appropriate". 

Pairing a plum eye with a nude lip is a gorgeous way to show off those peepers.  If you feel your best asset is your pout, slick on a highly pigmented red.  Matte and semi-matte reds are not only beautiful on, but when you pick one with little to no shine, you don't have to worry about it moving around and going where it isn't supposed to. And talk about a POWER color!  As someone wise once said "Put on some red lipstick and live a little!". 

I hate even calling this a "trend" because glowing healthy skin isn't a phase.  It's imperative to looking your best and feeling your best all the time, at any age.  This starts with a customized at-home skincare routine and regular visits with your facialist.  When your skin is healthy, makeup accentuates that.  However, if you're feeling a little less than fabulous, but want to be radiant right now, try swiping on a powder luminizer on the top of your cheek bones and in the inner corners of your eyes.  Or, mix an illuminator from Nars into your foundation for more coverage or into your moisturizer for a more natural glow all over.

Letting your hair do it's natural thing is the way to go this spring.  The less you do to your hair, i.e. straightening, curling, blow drying, the better.  You can still tease your hair...a little.  Don't get crazy but, we're going for texture, and a touch of volume so go on then.  Tease.  Ok, that's enough.  If you're not a teaser - and some of us are not, thank you VERY much, I recommend a dry shampoo/volumizer/texturizer/surfspray or a combo of these to achieve the volume and texture you need to get the look you're going for.  Braids are very much still in, but this season we're keeping them really loose and sexy.  For us, "high maintenance" gals, this can sound a little daunting letting it go.  Just try it for a day.  You'll have that much more time for perfecting your manicure!

Let's discuss that manicure... I'm sorry but - it's time to leave those dated french mani/pedi's behind.  If you wore it on your wedding day/'s time to ditch it.  Gone, but never forgotten. :) Here are some perfectly respectable replacements until the french mani makes it's comeback.  Classic nude tones are making a comeback in a big way.  Cult faves, Essie Mademoiselle and OPI Bubble Bath even made cameos on the runways this spring.  Negative space manicures are so fresh and shouldn't be only reserved for the 25 and under crowd.  Try a swipe of a metallic silver or gold for this summer.  Gorgeous!

Here are some products The Makeup Bar recommends to be the beauty expert in your crowd!

For that perfect pout:


Glowing skin:
B. Kamins BB cream
Nars Illuminators in Laguna, Orgasm, and Copacabana
Kevyn Aucoin Celestial Powder in Candlelight
The Balm Mary, Betty, and Cindy Loumanizer

For perfectly tousled hair:
Bumble and Bumble City Swept, Surfspray, Infusion
Moroccan oil Dry Shampoo