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Wintery Holiday Nail Look – Neutral and Frosty Glitter!

This is a great nail look for winter and the holidays. It’s neutral with a little frosty bling, so honestly, you could even wear it year round. I’ve been sporting this look quite a bit this winter season. It looks really impressive, gets a lot of compliments, and it’s surprisingly easy. Watch the video above to learn how to do it!

(I’m using CND Shellac Nail Polishes, which are a gel hybrid polish. This is a specialty nail polish that I don’t recommend unless you’re willing to put the time into learning how to properly apply it. It’s also more costly than regular nail polish (plus you have to use a UV light to cure each coat of polish), so you have to be willing to put down a little money in the beginning too. If you’re willing to put the time and money into it, then I DO recommend these polishes. 90% of the time, I’m wearing Shellac over normal nail polish. As much as I can be a girly girl, I’m pretty tough on my hands, so normal polish chips way too easily. With Shellac, I can rock a beautiful manicure without chipping for 2-3 weeks!)

  1. Apply a base coat.
  2. Apply two coats of neutral color polish.
  3. Let the second color coat try enough so that it’s not wet, but so it is a little tacky to the touch.
  4. Using a precise makeup brush or paint brush, apply loose glitter to the tips of each nail.
  5. Using your finger, wipe away any glitter from the skin, and press your finger onto the glittery tips of each nail to lift off any excess glitter (so we don’t gunk up our top coat polish brush with glitter!).
  6. Apply at least two coats of top coat (loose glitter has a tendency to poke through one layer of polish, so two will really seal it in and make the nails nice and smooth).

Here are the products I used, as well as some alternate polishes if you’re not using CND Shellac.

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  1. CND Shellac Base Coat – $13
  2. CND Shellac Bare Chemise Color Coat – $18
  3. CND Shellac Top Coat – $13
  4. Supernail Loose Glitter in Silver Rush – $5
  5. OPI Natural Nail Base Coat – $7
  6. OPI Barre My Soul Color Coat – $8
  7. OPI Top Coat – $9
  8. Tropical Shine Cushion Pink Nail File (Fine) – $1
  9. Beauty Secrets Coarse 100 Grit Black Nail File – $1
  10. Napoleon Perdis Small Eye Brush – $20
  11. Sephora Collection Cuticle Pusher – $14
  12. Revlon Cuticle Trimmer – $4
  13. Tweezerman Nail Clipper Set – $9
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How To Make Homemade Banana Ice Cream (Quick, Easy, & Delicious!)

As you guys know, I’m doing a 90-day fitness challenge right now, which means lots of healthy eating and lots of working out. And less trips to get ice cream and fro yo. BOO. But I’ve figured out a little trick to be able to have delicious homemade ice cream – and it’s HEALTHY.

Here’s what you do:

  • As far as service size, I use one banana per person.
  • Choose bananas that are on the riper side for the best flavor.
  • Cut the banana into uniform chunks.
  • Arrange the sliced chunks evenly on a freezer-safe plate.
  • Freeze the bananas for about 2-3 hours.
  • Put the frozen banana chunks into a food processor and chop until the consistency is nice and smooth.
  • Serve and enjoy!

You can also add peanut butter, cocoa power, or cinnamon (or anything else really!) to the bananas while chopping them up to jazz up the flavor more. Once you’re done, you can top it with chocolate syrup, nuts, whipped cream – you name it!

(Another quick tidbit…potassium – there’s lots of it in bananas – is really good for sore muscles, so not only is this ice cream HEALTHY, but it’s good for your tired muscles! Another bonus!)

My 15 Minute Makeup Routine

I wanted to share my go-to 15-minute makeup routine. This isn’t my “barefaced minimalist” makeup or my “full-face going out” or “photoshoot” makeup, but it’s my go-to face when I have a lunch meeting, happy hour with friends, and most other activities.

Here are the steps:

  1. Start with a clean, moisturized face. I clean my face with Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser using my Clarisonic Mia 2. I use Burt’s Bees Tomato Toner, and then I moisturize with Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15.
  2. For foundation, I mix together Tarte Amazonian clay BB tinted moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 20 Sunscreen (shade medium) with L’Oreal Paris True Match Super Blendable Makeup (shade nude beige – W3) and apply it using a large stippling brush, like the Sigma F80 – Flat Kabuki brush.
  3. After applying foundation to my whole face and neck, I touch up any blemishes that are still visible by applying more True Match with my Bare Escentuals Maximum Coverage Concealer Brush. I then use my BeautyBlender to blend it in completely.
  4. Next I take care of my eyelashes, by first separating them with my fingernail and then curling them with my Revlon Cushion Grip Lash Curler. I really prefer eyelash curlers with springs as you have more control over the pressure you apply to your lashes while curling. It’s important to apply and loosen pressure when curling, rather than holding firm the whole time. “Pumping” the curler like this will prevent you from leaving a crease in your eyelashes.
  5. I stick with two main mascaras: Maybelline Great Lash Waterproof Mascara, Very Black and Benefit They’re Real Mascara. Unless I’m in a rush, or really want to wear minimal makeup, I do my mascara the same way…very messy! I get it EVERYWHERE to make sure I get each and every single eyelash from base to tip.
  6. Once I’ve made a mess with mascara, I clean it up using some Q-tips and Vaseline 100% Pure Petroleum Jelly. (Super weird pro-tip: I swirl the Q-Tip in my mouth before getting vaseline on it to tame any fuzzies…trust me, it makes a difference! I only use vaseline on one end of the Q-Tip and then do another wipe after just with the wet end to clean up any excess vaseline.)
  7.  Next, I use my Bare Escentuals Maximum Coverage Concealer Brush to apply some foundation using my Bobbi Brown Foundation Stick under my eye and on my eyelids to brighten up my eyes.
  8. Now I use a large, soft powder brush, like Bare Escentuals Handy Buki Brush, to lightly apply Benefit Hoola Bronzing Powder all over my face, neck, and chest.
  9. Next I do some basic contouring using an angled powder brush, like Sigma F40 – Large Angled Contour brush, and Hoola. I apply the Hoola in the hollows of my cheeks at a diagonal line extending to my hairline. I also apply some near my temples, under my chin and jawline, and on the sides of my nose.
  10. I blend the Hoola in with a soft powder brush, like the Sigma F50 Duo Fibre brush. Blend, blend, blend!
  11. Now I apply Benefit Cosmetics CORALista Blush in a diagonal line from the apples of my cheeks up to my hairline using the angled brushed I used to contour. I also put a touch of the blush on the tip of my nose and bottom of my chin.
  12. I have very thick, dark eyebrows, so I rarely do anything to them. On a typical day, I just brush them with some Maybelline Great Lash Clear Mascara for Brows and Lashes to make sure everything’s under control. I always wipe most of the gel off on the edge of the container before putting in my brows – a little goes a long way!
  13. For eyeshadow, I use my Bare Escentuals Full Tapered Shadow Brush to apply a light, neutral shadow to my lids. This is not the exact shadow I’m using, but it’s really similar: REVLON Colorstay 16 Hour Eye Shadow Quad. Next I use Bare Escentuals Tapered Shadow Brush (a smaller brush than the one I just used) to apply Hoola to the crease of my eyes. Rather than wearing eyeliner, I apply a little Hoola to my lower lash line to warm up my eyes. I use a brush like this Sigma E65 – Small Angle brush.
  14. Now for some highlighting. I apply Maybelline New York Dream Lumi Touch Highlighting Concealer to my brow bones, underneath my eyes, down the center of my nose, above my cupid’s bow, and at the center of my chin. I blend with my concealer brush and then blend further with my BeautyBlender.
  15. I set my makeup with Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder using the Laura Mercier Velour Puff. I apply the powder to any areas I want to highlight or any areas that might be prone to get oily, like under my eyes, my forehead, my nose, and my chin. It’s important to press the powder onto your face, not wipe it.
  16. And LAST step…I curl my eyelashes one last time and apply a second coat of mascara.

It seems like A TON of work, but once you get the process down, it really doesn’t take too long. Let me know if you have any questions!

Weekly Uncut Blog: World Cup Final!

 

Last weekend, Germany won the World Cup Final against Argentina. It was a really good game, going into extra time, with Germany securing the win with an amazing goal by Mario Goetze. Honestly, his shot was GORGEOUS. The game was competitive, and fun to watch, but it would have been really nice to see an Argentine (specifically a Messi) goal and a bit more high stakes game-play. But like I said, very good game. Did you guys watch the World Cup? How about the Final?

Also, if you’re interested in any of the outfit items in my video, here are a few! Unfortunately, I bought some of these things a little while ago, so they’re not longer available, but I’ve posted similar ones below.
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How To Curl Your Hair With A Straightener / Flat Iron

I use my flat iron to curl my hair all the time. Not only does it create luscious curls, but there are a few other good reasons to use your flat iron to get amazing curls…

  1. If you only have a flat iron, that’s all you need. No need to go spend money on other hot tools.
  2. If you’re packing for a trip and have limited space in your bag, throw that straightener in there. You’ll be able to straighten and curl using one tool.
  3. The curls you get with each tool — curling iron, styling wand, tapered wand — will all be different!
  4. The curls you create with your flat iron will last. I tend to have stubborn hair when it comes to holding a curl, yet the curls I do with my straightener always last longer than those done with a curling iron.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. Brush or comb. (I brush my hair with a large, wooden paddle brush and use a wide comb after the shower and to part my hair.)
  2. Clips or hair ties. (I use chunky clips and mini clips)
  3. Straightener. (I use a CHI Ceramic Flat Iron and I LOVE it! I’ve had it for quite a few years now and it still works perfectly. I’d highly recommend it — it’s worth the price.)

Watch the video above for the full tutorial or take a peek at the photos below! Thanks!

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GHEE & BROWN RICE / QUINOA PASTA (#JuneBlogADay #8)

Two things I’m digging lately, ghee and Trader Joe’s brown rice and quinoa fusilli pasta. photo5

1. Ghee.

I’m pretty new to using ghee and have been thrilled to find out that there are a bunch of health and cooking benefits. Basically, ghee is clarified butter, and is made by simmering butter and then separating the liquid part from the chunky party (yes, very technical description) — the liquid part will solidify once cooled, and that’s the ghee! (I smell a future DIY project….). Ghee is often used in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine, but can also be used as a replacement for butter or oil.

First impression…tastes a lot like butter, but with a consistency very similar to coconut oil. I used it on top of my pasta tonight with a pinch of salt and some parmesan cheese.

Here are just a few of the great things about ghee:photo6

  • It has a high smoke point (482* F), which means you can cook and fry with it at high temperatures and it will not break down or burn.
  • It does not spoil easily, so it doesn’t really require much refrigeration, if any.
  • Apparently, when ghee is made, the milk solids are separated (that’s the chunky part I mentioned above) and removed, so people who are lactose intolerant can usually have ghee with no issue.
  • Ghee is super nutritious: high in Vitamins A, D, and E, a rich source of K2 and CLA.
  • It’s rich in fatty acids, which are a good source of energy. It also has butyric acid, which aids in digestion and decreasing inflammation in the body.

If you know me, you’ll know I LOVE butter (a friend has even endorsed me for “Butter” on LinkedIn…it’s that serious. But more on that later…), and ghee is kind of butter 2.0. I will never give up the real thing, but ghee is a great (healthful!) addition to my cooking. Order yourself some Ghee: Trader Joe’s Clarified Butter (Ghee), 8oz.

2. Trader Joe’s Organic Brown Rice and Quinoa Fusilli Pasta. (Order here!)

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I’m Italian. I was also an athlete my whole life, which means I used to eat pasta ALL THE TIME…dinner, microwaved for breakfast the next morning, you name it. And being a young, spry lil thing that ran my butt off in soccer practice and other sports nearly every night, it didn’t matter one bit how much pasta I consumed when I was younger. Nowadays, not so much. Today, pasta is more of a treat. I try to eat clean 80-90% of the time, and pasta does not factor into that clean eating plan. The grains I usually eat are brown rice and quinoa. So, you can imagine how THRILLED I was to discover quinoa and brown rice PASTA at TJ’s. And I kid you not, the only ingredients are brown rice and quinoa, and guess what, those count as clean eating! I honestly feel like I’m cheating each time I eat it — it really tastes like the real thing.

First impression…It completely satisfies any pasta cravings I ever have. It’s so good! Now, if you know your pasta, you’ll notice that it’s not EXACTLY the same as the real thing…with normal pasta, it’s smooth and your teeth cut through it easily. The brown rice and quinoa pasta is “stickier” and the tiniest bit chewy, but man, for an imposter, it does the job.

Ultimately, if you’re trying to eat healthy but absolutely needing to get your pasta fix, try this stuff out. Plus, it’s organic!

Tonight, I added a touch of ghee to my boiling water instead of olive oil, and then put a little bit on the finished pasta. YUM.

Dinner at AOC (#JUNEBLOGADAY Post #2)

 

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On Sunday night, we went to AOC in Los Angeles for dinner to celebrate Charlie’s sister’s birthday! I’m pretty sure we ate one of everything off the menu. And it was INCREDIBLE.

Here’s some of what we ate (apologies for the photo quality — most of the time we ate them up as soon as they hit the table so snapping pics was tricky!)…

Cocktails

The “Oxaca Sour” – la penca mezcal, angostura, lemon, vanilla & egg white

Appetizers, Small Bites, & Main Courses

3 cheese plate

Bacon-wrapped dates

Marinated olives

Brioche, prosciutto, gruyère & egg flatbread

Grilled peaches, ricotta & pistachio aillade salad*

Curried cauliflower*

Spanish fried chicken*

Hanger steak with gorgonzola butter & shallot rings

Half roasted chicken

Baby broccoli with garlic & chili*

Desserts

 Vanilla pot de crème with spanish chocolate & marcona almonds

Butterscotch pot de crème with fleur de sel & salted cashew cookies*

Chocolate torta with coffee cream*

Medjool dates

Candied almonds & hazelnuts

Assorted house-made chocolates

Mini s’mores bites*

* = SUPER FAVORITE (let’s be real though, I loved everything!)

June Blogging Challenge! #juneblogaday

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I’m doing a June blogging challenge with two of my friends (Madeleine and Jess) in which we plan to blog each day. It’s June 2nd (well, technically June 3rd because it’s past midnight) and this is my first post…so I’m off to a great start…

We’re currently reading through 99U’s book Manage Your Day-to-Daywhich is all about establishing routines that help you maximize your focus and reach your creative potential. The book is a collection of essays from some pretty smart (and successful) people, like Seth Godin, Gretchen Rubin, Stefan Sagmeister, and many more. So far, I’ve found it to be incredibly insightful (I highly recommend it!).

In one of the first chapters, the various authors emphasize consistency when it comes to your creative practice. Don’t wait for creativity to strike you in order to do your creative work. Build a routine for it. Do it consistently, pure and simple. Over time, it will improve. Over time, it will get easier. Over time, you will achieve a lot. This basic idea of cultivating a consistent creative practice resonated strongly with each of us, and thus, the DAILY June blogging challenge was born.

…now I gotta go write day two’s post.

…and probably day three while I’m at it.

CONSISTENCY.

Charlie’s Surprise Birthday Party aka It’s A TRAP! aka How I Unknowingly Planned My Own Engagement

On February 22, 2014, Charlie asked me to marry him.

I said yes. Duh.

The end.

JK…it’s a good story. Keep reading.

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Charlie’s birthday is in the end of February, and in January, his sister, Z, asked me if I had anything special planned. At that point, I didn’t. She suggested we throw him a surprise party. I thought that was a GREAT idea. As we talked more about specifics, she threw out the idea of karaoke. I was in.

There were only two places in town that would be doing karaoke the night we had in mind. We decided to go with Old Town Tavern. The place is an utter dive (more on that later). I’d never been there, but they have a very popular “college night” on Wednesdays that I’d heard good things about, and their karaoke started at 7pm instead of 10pm, so they were the clear choice (Yes, I realize that makes me sound 100 years old…10pm, LATE?!? I’m too busy lately and thus really coveting my sleep and often go to bed earlier on the weekends than the weeknights, so yeah, early-bird special coming right up over here.)

As January and February went by, things began coming together nicely. We had friends coming from both Santa Barbara and Los Angeles (and some from San Diego!). At one point, Z asked if I was going to invite my parents. I hadn’t planned on it and didn’t really think it was that big a party for them to make the 6-hour drive to attend, but I figured I might as well give them a heads up. My Dad said he’d be there. Cool! My Mom would be in Hawaii with friends, but decided to change her flight to return a day early to make the party. Even cooler! Z later told me that their Dad was going to fly down (from Oregon) for the party too. WAY COOL!

As this was all happening, there were a few times, where in the back of my mind, I would think to myself, “Ya know, I know Charlie’s planning on proposing some time this year, and he’s pretty dang sneaky…I wouldn’t put it past him to somehow be behind all of this.” I thought it was a possibility, but I didn’t think that was actually what was happening. At that point, we hadn’t gone ring shopping together (a step in the process I really emphasized was important…I’m a bit particular…), so while it would be a good trick, I didn’t think this would be the big night. I’d remind myself, “We’re doing a nice thing for Charlie. It’s not all about ME.” Riiiiiiight.

The week of the party, I was so focused on making sure everything went right…reminding friends, buying birthday decorations, you name it. The day of, I was In. The. Zone. Coordinating with the people coming into town to make sure there weren’t any run-ins and on my phone more than normal (which is already a lot) — everything was going as planned. And I was pretty sure Charlie had NO IDEA.

I told Charlie we were doing something “special” but not too fancy that night to celebrate his birthday, that we’d be going to a place I’d never been before, where there’d be food and fun stuff to do. He kept guessing that we were going bowling (good guess) or to Chuck E. Cheese (joke guess). Charlie drove, while I kept giving play-by-play updates to Z and my Dad, who had both been there for over an hour setting up and organizing everyone for the surprise. (Sadly, my Mom’s flight from Hawaii was cancelled, so she didn’t end up making it after all 😦 boo.)

We got out of the car and made our way to one of the dive-iest bars either of us has ever been to — no joke. As we walked up, we were, uh, serenaded by a middle-aged woman’s rendition of Katy Perry’s “California Gurls.” We went through the doors, and a crowd of about 45 people shouted “SURPRISE!!!” (including the homeless-y folks at the bar, all equipped with the noisemakers and hats I bought the night before). Charlie was SO SURPRISED. I’m standing next to him, just BEAMING. “We did it!” I thought, “We nailed this surprise party! BOO YAH.”

Z jumped on stage and began leading everyone in singing “Happy Birthday.” When that was done, she told Charlie and me to get up on stage. I thought that was a little random for me to get up there, it wasn’t my birthday after all, but I went up too. I said thanks to everyone for coming, blah blah, and then passed the mic to Charlie. He said “Oh my gosh, this is such a surprise! I didn’t know I had this many friends! And you’re all so good looking! …In keeping with the theme of surprises, I have a surprise too.” (Quick cut to my brain at this time…I honestly didn’t think anything fishy was going on…I thought he was just going to make some silly Charlie joke, like “Lauren’s pregnant!” Something like that.) He turns to me and says, “Lauren…” gets down on one knee, “Will you marry me!?” and holds out a black box containing a — HOLY CRAP!!! — GORGEOUS ring.

I FREAKED. Somehow, I hadn’t seen that coming AT ALL. My hands immediately went up over my mouth, and I kept looking out at the crowd and then back at Charlie, not fully comprehending what was happening. I honestly felt like every emotion had slammed into my face at once — like I was going to cry, scream, laugh, everything…through my face. I nodded frantically, Charlie said, “Is that a yes?” I squeaked out a “Yes!” in the mic, Charlie gave me the ring box, he stood up, and then we hugged. Yes, you heard that right…he gave me the box. Haha. I took it and said, “Put it on me!” Charlie: “Yeah! Put it on!” Me: “No, YOU put it on ME!” Charlie: “Yeah! Put it on!” So, I just put it on myself when we hugged again.

I got down from the stage and was bum-rushed — “Congratulations!!!”, pictures with friends, pictures of me with the ring, people wanting to see the ring, people giving me drinks, hugs, some people asking if I had a date (UHM, REALLY!? It JUST happened!)…It was surreal. I seriously feel like I blacked out from emotional overload — in the best way possible. The rest of the night, we did karaoke, danced, ate cake, and had a blast.

And that’s how it all went down. We got engaged at Old Town Tavern — a dive if there ever was one — and it was perfect. I love that so many of our friends and family were able to be there. I love that I was so utterly caught of guard. I love that how it all happened is just so “us.” I loved everything about it.