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Posted on Feb 11, 2014 in Dear Diary, Fashion | 6 comments

Beauty Products I’m Digging

You know, there really are a lot of things I’ve missed about blogging. Reconnecting with my fantastic readers, sure. Having the accountability to stay (relatively) on track with my health, obviously. The catharsis that comes with whining nonstop baring my soul on the interwebs, naturally. And, of course, we can’t forget the whole thing where blogging totally feeds my maniacally huge ego — and let’s face it, the fact that I’ve been writing about myself consistently for the past 3.5 years is a pretty good indication that my ego wasn’t really all that small to begin with, hahaha.

Aaaanywho, since I’m back on the regular blogging bandwagon, I once again have the opportunity to operate under the assumption that you guys actually care what I think, and so I thought it might be fun to update my list of beauty products that I’m currently vibing on!

After many years of devoted Urban Decay 24/7 eyeliner pencil usage, I have to admit that I am almost 100% a liquid liner girl now. I currently alternate between three, depending on the day, what look I’m going for, and how late I’m already running.


Left to right: Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liner in Jet Black, Eyeko Skinny Liquid Liner in Black, Urban Decay’s 24/7 Waterproof Liquid Liner in Perversion

First we have Stila. This is a fantastic, marker-style liquid liner with a very fine tip. This is what I use on any average day, as the pigment isn’t SUPER black (so mess ups are a little easier to fix) and it’s easy to maneuver. As mentioned, the brush tip is quite fine so it’s also super easy to get a very thin line using this product, which I never bother doing because my eyes are weird and Whasian and if my liner isn’t a certain thickness I might as well not be wearing any at all, haha.

In the middle is Eyeko, which I have in several colors. Somewhat ironically, given its name (“Skinny Liquid Liner”), this actually gives me the thickest line. Therefore, it’s what I go for when I’m just looking for some fast liner action. Zip-zip straight across each eyelid and, voila! I probably wouldn’t recommend this liner for someone who likes a really thin line though, because I find that very difficult to achieve with this product.

Finally, we have Urban Decay, which is wand style. For the uninitiated, using wand-style liquid liner is basically like playing through Halo in Legendary mode — it’s hard, yo! The pigment of this liner is amazing (it has almost like a sheen to it when it dries, so it really pops on top of my eyeshadow) but application takes like twice as much time and 10 times as much effort to get it A) straight and B) semi-even on both eyes.

I’ve also moved on from my previous obsession with Covergirl’s Lashblast Luxe mascara (the one with the sparkles in it) and am now toooootally into Covergirl’s Flamed Out Mascara… and while I may or may not have only heard about this product initially because it’s part of Covergirl’s Catching Fire collection, it really has become my legit mascara of choice. I love the brush, even for my tiny, super straight lashes, the formula is thick but doesn’t clump AT ALL, and best of all? OKAY FINE, yes, I love the fact that it is even loosely Hunger Games-related, but that isn’t what I was going to say. I was going to say that the best part is that it’s Covergirl so it’s totally inexpensive. Duh.

Next up is a makeup product that I have been having a LOT of fun experimenting with this year: liquid lipstick! Especially in bright, bold colors. I’ve always been partial to a nice red lip, but I had no idea what I was missing by staying away having other fun colors surround my piehole!


Left to right: Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Beso and Carina, Sephora Collection Cream Lip Stain in Forever Fuschia and Cute Pink

Back in March, when some of my Yelp coworkers came and gathered for a regional conference here in DC, I found myself awkwardly staring at my coworker Rachel’s amazing lip color — it was bright, bold, vibrant, and despite the many meals we all shared together, it never budged! Not wanting to totally creep her out in person, I waited until after we all dispersed back to our various locations before emailing her and demanding an explanation for her magical lip color. And so I am forever grateful to her for introducing me to Stila liquid lipstick.

The staying power is seriously impressive — I’ve made it through entire wedding reception dinners without ever needing to reapply! They do have a matte finish (how else are they supposed to stay in place?) so just be aware of that if you tend to have very try lips. You can of course apply gloss or balm on top, but then it comes off much faster. Beso and Carina are the colors I’m wearing in the photos above.

At $22 a pop, though, and knowing that bright lipsticks are very much still an “experimental” thing, I was looking for a more cost-effective way for me to play. So I also picked up a couple of Sephora Collection lip stains. They are currently priced at $13 (pretty sure they were $12 when I bought mine though!) and offer a nice collection of colors in both mattes and shimmers. Admittedly the quality isn’t quiiiite the same as the Stila ones (they don’t stay nearly as long), but they have good pigment and aren’t too drying.

Since I’ve already talked about what dry shampoo products I like, let’s move right onto skiiiiin. I am still — yes, still! — shopping around for the perfect facial cleanser and moisturizer (luckily, Birchbox helps out with this product hunt a lot), but at least I’ve got a pretty good handle on the body lotion part of things!


Left to right: St. Ive’s Naturally Indulgent Body Lotion, Fresh Brown Sugar Hand Cream, O’Keeffe’s for Healthy Feet

I used to be obsessed with this Caldrea lotion that I once received a sample of in a Birchbox loooong ago. I loved it so much that I bought an 8 oz. bottle for $22… and then promptly went through the entire thing in like 3 weeks. Which I should have known ahead of time, really. I mean, I have a LOT of real estate to cover here! #moretolove

Rather than driving myself into debt for the sake of freaking body lotion, I realized that while, yes, the lotion itself was very nice, what I really was obsessed with was its coconut & fig leaf scent. After much trial and testing, which included one lotion that made me smell like I was actually MADE out of coconut and one lotion that smelled so weird that I had to immediately wash it off in the shower, I finally found an amazing smelling, epically affordable lotion replacement, made by none other than St. Ive’s (yep, the apricot scrub people!).

St. Ive’s Naturally Indulgent Body Lotion has the fantastic scent of Coconut Milk and Orchid Extract (well, I’m not actually sure how accurate-smelling the scents are, but I do know it smells good!), is creamy and thick but absorbs quickly, and goes for like $4 for a huuuuuge pump-top bottle! Win-win-win.

Being so economical with my body lotion lets me be a little more indulgent in other ways, including with my haaaand cream. I’ve mentioned the fact that I get this terrible dry skin affliction every winter where my hands and feet get incredibly dry and flaky and eventually erupt into painful bumps (sorry for the visual, haha), so it’s actually pretty necessary for me to have a variety of lotions and treatments to ward off this particular winter woe as long as possible. My hand cream of choice is part of the Fresh Brown Sugar collection, and it smells divine — like lemon and sugar and happiness. It’s expensive, but since I only use it for my hands, it lasts forever. The same 2.5 oz bottle has lasted me almost a year!

As for my tootsies, I recently discovered O’Keefe’s foot cream and it has seriously — no joke — changed my life. It comes in a little container and almost has the consistency of solid coconut oil at first (so it’s not really a cream, per se), but it does amazing things to heal my broked out, busted up feet. It’s totally odorless and I picked it up for like $6 or $7 on Amazon.

Well, whaddya know, I was right! That was fun! I’ll cut myself off for now since I’m sure I hit the tl;dr limit like 1000 words ago, but hopefully the above list will prove helpful or interesting to at least a few of you! Obviously there is an even bigger array of products that I use on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis currently splayed out on my vanity, so if you’re ever curious about anything else not mentioned — BB creams, highlighter, perfume, conditioner, or even toothpaste (spoiler alert: it’s Colgate Optic White) — feel free to ask!

And I know I’ve asked it before, but I’ll ask it again: what is your current go-to or must-have beauty product?

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Posted on Jan 29, 2014 in Dear Diary, Fashion | 19 comments

Caring for Brightly Colored Hair

Since I made the decision to turn my hair into a kaleidoscope (and since I’m pretty sure I’m never going back, hehe), I thought it might be informative to go through the process of what it’s like to achieve and then maintain my color. Because, unlike my weight loss, this is something I’ve actually had quite a bit of success at maintaining. Ba-doom ching!

So, first things first. In order to actually achieve the vibrant purple that I’ve come to love and adore (as well as the various streaks of pink and blue and whatnot that were in my hair before I went ALL in), as most of you can probably guess, I had to bleach my hair.

Bleaching Hair Collage

Btw, the guy drinking Fireball in the background is Linh from Be Scene Hair Studio in Bethesda, and he is the BEST.

My hair is naturally a very dark brown, so bleaching does take some time, but I am pretty lucky in that color also lifts fairly well from my hair. It’s not the most fun process (strong bleach can cause some irritation to your scalp) but, well, you see the results! And once my hair is bleached, it’s like an open book, ready to be written…

Purple Round 1 Collage

…in GORGEOUS PURPLE INK! I went with a darker, blue-ish purple the first time (although it actually looks darker in the photos above than it was IRL) and I absolutely loooooved it. I was determined to make it last as long and as vibrantly as possible, so I took all of Linh & his assistants’ tips on how to preserve my color to heart. Here is basically what it comes down to:

1. Wash your hair as infrequently as possible.

For me, this pretty much meant twice a week, which you’d think would leave me gross and greasy more (I used to be a daily hair washer!), but I was surprised at how quickly my hair adapted. My hair is BONE straight, so it used to show its greasiness really easily, but I think it “helped” that bleaching did leave my hair drier than it initially was. So, in turn, it does take longer to look greased up now, plus your scalp and your hair really DOES adapt after a while of not washing every day — but I know the transition period is tough for some people to take. The longest I’ve managed to make it between washes thus far is exactly one week: Saturday to Saturday. Take it from me, dry shampoo is the best friend you’ll ever have!

2. Rinse and wash your hair in the coldest water you can handle.

Unfortunately, this does suck pretty much all of the joy out of washing your hair, because it becomes a task instead of just a routine part of your shower. My strategy is to start the shower cold, rinse my hair really quickly, and then turn the water to warm and keep my hair out of the stream while I shampoo it. Then I turn the knob back to cold to rinse out the shampoo, and warm it up again while I’m conditioning. I do the rest of my shower business while I’m letting the conditioner set, then finally turn it back to cold for the final rinse. It’s a bit of a dance, but it’s worked out pretty well for me so far! On days that I’m not washing my hair, I just tie it in a big top knot and it stays pretty much out of the way while I shower.

3. Use purple shampoo and conditioner.

Purple shampoo is actually formulated for people with blonde hair to help maintain silver/ashy tones (instead of golden/warm), but the purple pigment obviously works well if you hair is, you know, purple. (I use Clairol Shimmer Lights.) I use the purple conditioner on my entire head (yes, including my roots), and then also put additional (regular) conditioner on my ends.

Armed with that strategy, I managed to maintain my violet locks for almost two months!

Purple Fade Collage

I did experience a little bit of fade with every wash, of course, and while fortunately my hair actually faded quite prettily (I think!), it ultimately ended up like this:

Faded Purple Collage

Which, to me, meant time for a refresh! So back to Linh I went, asking for a bit of a warmer purple this time around. It bears nothing that he did NOT re-bleach my entire head, just my roots that had grown in. And so, on January 14th, I walked back out of the salon like this:

Purple Round 2 Collage

I’ve only washed my hair twice since (hahaha, I can actually feel how icked out some of you are at the thought of that) and, as evidenced by the following pictures taken last week and at my Yelp event last night, not too much has changed since… other than the fact that it looks like a different color in every photo I take. Which, let’s be honest, I kind of love anyway:

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Now, since I brought up dry shampoos and how essential they are for maintaining color — not just bright colors, either! If you color your hair at all and want to maintain it, you should definitely NOT be washing it every day — I figured I’d give you the skinny on the ones I’ve tried so far:

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Left to right: Not Your Mother’s Clean Freak Shampoo, Batiste Dry Shampoo in Wild, Kevin Murphy Fresh Hair.

I picked up Not Your Mother’s at CVS for like $8, and ordered the Batiste and Kevin Murphy on Amazon for ~$9 and $32 respectively. I don’t really recommend Not Your Mother’s as I don’t feel like it gave me the same kind of clean that the other two did.

Batiste, on the other hand, is a FANTASTIC option for around the same price — it really zaps the oil out of my roots. Downside: it is SUPER powdery and leaves all that white crap in your hair that you have to brush out, and if you have dark hair sometimes that stuff can leave you looking a little gray. I’m not wild about the “Wild” scent though (heh), admittedly.

I found out about Kevin Murphy products from a blog post I stumbled upon and ended up sucking up the stickershock to give it a try. It is a really quality product which I think is particularly great for brunettes or people with a darker color, since it does not leave the same powdery residue that the other two do. And it does a fantastic job, too, with a more subtle scent than Batiste. But obviously, all of that stuff comes with a price, so it’s up to you if it’s worth giving a shot.

Between the three, I will probably get Batiste again until I end up going dark again, though I will definitely be trying out a different scent next time.

But there you have it! My journey to luscious purple locks and the way I keep it bright and cheery. Now just to decide what shade to go next time… I really want to try a light, pastel purple but I’m not sure what re-bleaching my bleached hair would do… hmm.

How often do you wash your hair? Do you color your locks? Any particular products you’re loving?

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Posted on Jan 27, 2014 in Fashion, Food | 10 comments

Snapshots & Stitch Fixes

Happy Monday, friendos! I hope you all had wonderful weekends, the lot of you. Sean and I continued our 2-year anniversary celebration this past weekend, so it was pretty fab… though, as you can probably guess, involved a liiiiittle more foodstuffs than I probably should have indulged in. Thank goodness my weigh-ins are on Fridays now, eh? Hahaha.

Anyway, in the spirit of always being honest and transparent with you guys (plus the fact that I’m a weirdo and I love seeing what other people are eating), I figured I’d share a few snapshots of some of the things I’ve been eating recently. I promise it’s not all from dining out, too! I even have a couple of recipes to share with you guys this week, so there.

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Whipped up a glorious batch of my (and Katniss’s) favorite Lamb Stew with Dried Plums — although evidently the Polar Vortex made it so that there was no good lamb at the grocery store, so I used beef instead. Still delicious!

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Played a game of pantry roulette and ended up creating a hot steaming bowl of deliciousness that included farfalle pasta, bacon, peas, and amazing mushrooms with a super light cream sauce just to bind it together. I know you all probably read the word “cream” and your collective buttcheeks all tightened, but I promise that it was still a very diet-appropriate dish. Recipe to come soon!

Tuskies Collage

A iPhone pic collage of some of the amazingness that we experienced at Tuscarora Mill, where Sean took me for our anniversary dinnah. It’s in Leesburg and it is DEFINITELY worth the drive. You can peep my review on Yelp if you want deets about everything we ate (spoiler alert, it was a lot more than what is shown, hahaha), but that on the right there is a truffled goat cheese ravioli with mushrooms and pulled short ribs. I KNOW. I had never been so excited to eat leftovers the next day IN MY ENTIRE LIFE.

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And, finally, last night my friend Reema came over and we whipped up a recipe from my homegirl Cassie’s AMAZING new cookbook: Beer & Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese. It really was just as delicious as it sounds, and even Sean got on board with the hidden butternut squash in the sauce. Mm-mmm, good. I’ll post more deets about the recipe (and Cassie’s cookbook!) soon!

So, lots of good eats (though in retrospect, I realize that there is a lot of pasta pictured. I promise I’ve been eating, like, vegetables and salads and stuff, too, hahahaha.) over the past few days, and even better ones to come!

So, in addition to all the deliciousness, time with friends, and anniversary celebration stuffs, I also had another fun addition to last week: I received my first Stitch Fix! Those of you who are already familiar with Stitch Fix are probably sick of hearing about it, and honestly, I kinda was too. But just before the holidays I had a chat with my friend Rachel about how much she was enjoying it, and I finally gave in and figured I’d give it a try. And when they hit it RIGHT OUTTA THE PARK with my very first box, I knew I had to share it with you all!

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So, for the uninitiated, Stich Fix is like a mail-order personal shopping service. You set up a style profile and you can do one-time or monthly recurring “Fixes” (same price either way, $20, which is applied to the cost of the clothing if you end up wanting to keep anything) and they send you five items that they think you’d like! I was skeptical as to how personalized it would really be, but they let you link to things like your Twitter, your Pinterest fashion board (if you have one), and I even put my blog address in the extra field at the bottom. And when I received my box, and it came with a personal note explaining all of the items, AND it also pointed to my love of polka dots which they would only have known if they really HAD checked out my Twitter and blog and whatnot, I knew this was pretty legit.

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Of course, it helped that the totally knocked it out of the park! I received a dress, two cardigans, a shirt, and an infinity scarf. Every single item is absolutely my style, and has details that I looooove. The dress has a light polka dot pattern and has that vintage-ish silhouette that I love, the blue cardi has polka dot detailing on the pockets and down the button closure area, the red cardigan has a light butterfly cut-out print and AWESOME buttons — each button is different! — and the infinity scarf is a bright, fun orange and THEY PUT A BIRD ON IT. Many birds, in fact.

The striped shirt was the only item where, before trying it on, I was kind of meh about, but once I did put it on, I LOVED it. It’s actually really flattering, incredibly soft, and super comfortable. Horizontal stripes! Who knew?!

I ended up feeling the most iffy about the red cardigan after trying everything on, just because from a distance there was nothing too special about it. But because Stitch Fix offers a 25% discount if you end up purchasing all five items, it was essentially free — the cardigan cost less than the amount I ended up saving from the discount! Plus, it ended up being way cute when styled with the dress instead of on its own — I ended up wearing the combo to Tuscarora Mill for our anniversary dinner!

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Speaking of pricing, you can set your price points for all the various categories of stuff they offer. So in that way, you can totally emphasize the clothing items that are most important to you. For example, for jewelry and accessories, which I don’t particularly care about, I put “As cheap as possible,” but for dresses and outerwear, I said I was comfortable with paying over $100 for those. Now, it just happened that every single item in my first box was between 28 and 48 dollars (yes, even the dress! I ended up paying just over $100 for all five items with the discount and the $20 styling fee I already paid going towards the total), so this was like a double-win in that arena.

ANYWAY. Enough talk about Stitch Fix and my latest obsession. I promise that this is not a paid promotion or a sponsored post or anything like that — they’re not paying me to say these things! (Though, as a disclaimer, the “Stitch Fix” hyperlink above is my referral link for the site.) I was just REALLY impressed with this service, especially because I was admittedly worried that I was too big to fit anything they offer. Which, now that I bring that up, is probably the only real problem with it, because the biggest size they offer on their style profile is 14… and, let’s be honest, that is deeeefinitely pushing it for me right now. So it bodes well for my continued weight loss efforts, but it was kind of a crapshoot whether I’d be able to fit everything they sent this time around. Thankfully it did all fit… but still. Broaden your sizing horizons and you will be utterly perfect, Stitch Fix!

OKAY. Sorry, sorry, enough chatter for now. Hope you’re all having utterly tolerable Mondays, and I’ll see you on the flip side!

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Posted on Jun 10, 2013 in Dear Diary, Fashion | 18 comments

Think Pink

Soooooo, this weekend, I kinda did something… drastic.

See, with my new job, I no longer work in a government contracting office. Which means I realized that I no longer really have any need to conform to the standards of business-professional dress on a daily basis.

So… I changed my hair.

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Surprise!

Which, actually, if any of you remember the blonde pixie cut incident of 2011, this really shouldn’t come as a surprise. My hair is actually so naturally dark that it took two separate rounds of bleaching to achieve a light enough color to be able to go all nutso pink on.

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Which means I spent a full day looking like a semi-Asian version of X-Men’s Rogue or Archie Comics’ Alexandra Cabot before being able to do this thing in full. (And even after the second treatment, my hair still isn’t anything quite like that super cool white-blonde – it’s just yellah.)

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Still, all’s well that ends well! I feel punky and pinky and I’m not gonna lie, I kind of love it. Plus, everyone knows bright colors fade out pretty quick, so I can re-color my bangs and the few chunks underneath with different colors! Kinda fun, no?

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Some people probably think I’m crazy for A) doing this myself or B) doing it at all, but I have ALWAYS been of the opinion that if you’re gonna change your appearance, it might as well be your hair. After all, if it’s truly terrible, at least you know that it’ll grow back out eventually!

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Are you devil-may-care with your hair like me, or more cautious with your tresses?

I always loveloveLOVE the episodes of America’s Next Top Model when there’s at least one girl who is bawling over the thought of getting her locks chopped off. If Tyra Banks wanted to shave my hair into a purple mohawk cause she thinks it’d look fierce, I would hand her the razor myself! ;)

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Posted on May 17, 2013 in Dear Diary, Fashion, Food | 4 comments

Under the Moon

Haaaappy Friday! I’m still recovering from the emotional trauma that was back-to-backing the Vampire Diaries season finale (WHAT THE WHAT?!) and The Office SERIES finale (all the sads), so I thought I’d post something light and fun today. It’s aaaaalmost like a Fashion Friday post, except instead of me awkwardly posing for you all, all the fashion you’ll see in today’s post is still firmly on their hangers.

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Last night I had the opportunity to attend an event at the South Moon Under store in Merrifield’s new Mosaic District. If you’re local and haven’t been to Mosaic yet, by the way, you need to get there STAT. It’s awesome — every week I feel like there’s some new hip trendy something-or-other opening up. Someone give me a floppity jillion dollars so I can afford an apartment there, k?

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The event was a special Rebecca Minkoff trunk show being hosted by the Real Housewives of Northern Virginia blog.

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Alas, I didn’t win any of the exclusive Rebecca Minkoff handbags they were giving away, but I did get to look at pretty clothes, nosh on some snacks, and hobnob with some local fashion bloggers, so that was fun! Bloggers also got a little swag bag at the end, which was a super nice touch.

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And, of course, because I am physically incapable of walking away from a sale (they were offering everything in the store 20% off during the event), I did end up making a couple purchases of my own.

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I debated for a long time between the lion head earrings and the elephant earrings, before ultimately deciding to get my elephant on. They’re so cute! I also picked up a pair of sassy combat boots that will be making an appearance before long, at which point you can tell me if I’m pulling them off at all… or if I’m just deluding myself, hahaha.

A fun night! I feel like this weekend is going to end up being very well-rounded, actually. Last night I got my dose of fashion and whatnot, and tonight I’m shooting photos for a classical concert series. Look at me, so cultured! Now, if I can just squeeze in some time to see the new Star Trek movie, I’ll have it made in the shade.

Have a great weekend!

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