Monthly Archives

November 2015

Life, Lifestyle, Misc

10 Things You Can Do On Sundays To Have A Productive Week

November 29, 2015

10 Things You Can Do On Sundays To Have A Productive Week

Thanksgiving break is almost over and for most of us, that means it will be back to school/work tomorrow! As much as I want to take it easy today, next week is going to be a busy week for me, so here are some advice on things to do this Sunday to have a productive week ahead!

  1. Make a cup of coffee/tea/hot chocolate and create a list of things you need to get done this week. This list can be organized by level of urgency, tasks by day of the week, or whatever method is most effective for you.
  2. Review and update your calendar for the week. By having a fresh memory of meetings, classes, lessons, appointments, etc, you will have a good idea of how much free time you will have to complete your list of tasks. If you have to, block time on your calendar to prevent others from scheduling meetings during that time.
  3. Clean your home/work space and take out the trash. There’s nothing worse than starting the week with a messy house. This can cause unnecessary stress at the end of a long day; meantime, a clean space can help you stay refreshed and motivated.
  4. Wash your sheets and clothes. I love the feeling of sleeping on clean sheets and having clean clothes for the week!
  5. Check the weather and plan out what you will wear. Incorporate your calendar–for example you may need to dress up for a presentation one day or need to pack gym clothes another day.
  6. For my bloggers friends, photograph pictures in advance! Set up and prep can take forever, so I usually like to photograph a couple weeks of blog posts all in one day. This is also to avoid any unexpected challenges that may come up, for example bad weather or not having enough natural light. That picture above? I made my husband take it a month ago because I had planned to do this post after Thanksgiving!
  7. Plan out what to eat for breakfast/lunch/dinner that week and go grocery shopping. Making this list enables a speedy shopping trip, enforces you to purchase only what you need, and helps to prevent forgetting an ingredient.
  8. Catch up on emails so you can start the week with a clean inbox. Some people don’t like to check emails on the weekends in case new projects/work come up, but I personally like to be prepared, even if this means deleting a bunch of junk mail that came in. I don’t like starting Mondays with a bunch of unread emails.
  9. Call family/friends/love ones just to say hi (and to avoid getting too many calls during the week).
  10. Have some “me” time. Take some time toward the end of the night with a little pampering session so you will feel refreshed and ready to conquer the week ahead!

By taking advantage of Sundays, it can be a great way to jumpstart the week and to reduce stress! Hope you’ve found this helpful. Now go get things done!

Life, Lifestyle

2015 Holiday Gift Guide for Him and Her

November 25, 2015

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the United States and Friday is Black Friday, one of the biggest shopping days of the year! My brother and I used to line up early in the morning to go Black Friday shopping. I still remember the long lines at Best Buy and Circuit City. It was rough shopping on Black Friday in Minnesota, where the temperature usually dropped below freezing. Nowadays, retails are making it easier to shop by having the same deals online vs in-store so I would much rather do my shopping online. Most people will begin their Christmas shopping this week, so I wanted to post a holiday guide for him and her. My suggestions are mostly beauty and fashion since that’s the focus of this blog. I also have some of my favorite online retailers below with coupon codes and will add to the list.

2015 holiday gift guide for him and her

Gift Ideas for Her:

  • Sephora Favorites Beauty Unmasked – Great products to cleanse, detox, boost, hydrate, and brighten. These are wonderful products to incorporate into a pampering session. This would also make a great stocking stuffer.
  • Hourglass Ambient Lighting – A palette that includes blushes, powder, bronzer, and highlighter. Great product for someone who is new to makeup or is looking to get great value out of a smaller palette to try first before purchasing these at the full size.
  • NEST Fragrance “Pumpkin Chai” Reed Diffuser – These diffusers are a great alternative to candles and will keep the house scented all day. It is also a great decor item.
  • BP Plaid Poncho – Super comfortable for the winter! Definitely a must have this season.
  • Club Monaco Textured Hat – I especially love the one in cream/grey. This hat will keep your head warm while looking stylish. Use coupon code EXTRATHIRTY for additional 30% off.
  • Knee-High Boots – I love the minimal look of this pair and it will go with so many outfits. You can wear it over jeans or with a dress.
  • Olivia Palermo Necklace on BaubleBar – Olivia is a fashion icon and I love some of the pieces she created as a “guest bartender” on BaubleBar. These pieces are great for a New Years Eve party. Join the mailing list to receive 20% off coupon.

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Gift Ideas for Him:

  • The Art of Shaving Kit  Four step kit containing pre-shave oil, shaving cream, after-shave balm, and shaving brush.
  • Herschel Duffle Bag – Perfect weekender bag or gym bag. It has a separate shoe section so that it won’t get any other items dirty.
  • Bonobos Sport Shirt – A great every day shirt. Can wear it by itself or under a sweater/blazer.
  • Everlane Belt – A classic belt made of 100% Italian leather.
  • Foot Cardigan Subscription – For the sock lover in your life! I saw this on Shark Tank recently and thought it was interesting. It’s also affordable at $9 a month.

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Online Deals:

  • Ann Taylor – 50% off entire purchase with code CELEBRATE
  • Anthropologie – 25% off entire purchase with code SHOPTOIT
  • ASOS – Up to 60% off casual before 11/26, 30% off Cyber Monday with code BLESSED
  • Banana Republic – Half off sweaters and 40% off rest of purchase with code BRFRIDAY
  • Club Monaco – 30% off sale items and 40% off clearance with code EXTRATHIRTY
  • Cole Haan – 30% off entire purchase on Black Friday & Cyber Monday
  • GAP – 50% off entire purchase with code EARLY
  • JCrew – 30% off regular priced item and 40% off sale items with code HOLIDAY
  • Madewell – 25% off entire purchase with code CALMDOWN
  • Rebecca Minkoff – 25% off entire purchase + essie nail polish (Cyber Monday only)
  • Shopbop – Spend $250+ save 15%, spend $500+ save 20%, spend $1,000+ save 25% with code GOBIG15
  • Tory Burch – Spend $250, receive 30% off with code THANKS
  • True Religion – 40% off entire purchase from Nov 26-Dec 1

I would love to hear what’s on your wishlist or what you’re getting for someone special in your life! Hope you all have a safe and wonderful holiday season!

Beauty, Makeup, Skincare

How to Save Money on Beauty Products

November 19, 2015

how to save money on beauty products

If you don’t normally purchase drugstore branded beauty products, but instead shop for makeup and skincare at stores such as Sephora, Nordstrom, and Macy’s, you will quickly realize how expensive beauty products are! One can easily reach VIB and VIB Rouge level at Sephora in no time. I shop for beauty products often, and these are some tricks and advice on how to save money on beauty products without switching to cheaper brands.

Ask for Samples:
Most retailers are more than happy to provide samples. This is a great way to ensure satisfaction with the product before purchase. For example, I recently asked for a sample of the Hourglass Immaculate Liquid Foundation. I did not want to spend $55 on a 1 oz foundation without trying it first. The beauty consultant gave me two samples because there was not an exact color match using the Sephora Color IQ technology. When I tried the samples at home, both shades worked on me and the samples lasted me over two weeks! Don’t abuse this by asking for too many samples. I only did this to make sure it is worth the price. During the two week trial, I was able to see how well the products held up throughout the day and a couple classmates even asked me what foundation I was wearing.

Bundles/Sets:
Sometimes a lot of money can be saved when purchased as a bundle or as part of a set. For example, the Sephora Favorite Superstars is a multi-branded set containing some of the most popular makeup products. It costs $75 but is valued at $205 and many items are full size! Bundles and sets are also a great way to try new items. I love the Sephora Favorites sets because they are carefully curated with the top rated products so chances are you will like the items. One of my friends is starting to care more about makeup and skincare, but it’d be costly to start her collection by purchasing individual items, so she purchased several of the Sephora Favorites. Here are the sets she purchased at amazing value! They would make great gifts too.

sephora favorites kits

Sales:
High end makeup and skincare hardly ever go on sale, but there are a couple annual sales I look forward to every year!! Sephora has a Spring and Fall sale every year for reward members at the VIB and VIB Rouge levels. I maintain a wishlist specifically for this sale with favorite items I wish to restock and expensive items I have been wanting to try. This year VIB and VIB Rouge members received 20% off ALL items in the store during a certain timeframe in November. When I received my card in the mail, I invited my close girlfriends out for a Sephora+Lunch date and we had so much fun! With Thanksgiving approaching, there will be many Black Friday deals. Sephora will have a bunch of curated deals but they will go fast, so take a nap after 3 plates of turkey, set your alarm, and wake up for the sale! Another favorite sale is the Nordstrom Anniversary sale during the summer. This past summer they had amazing bundles from La Mer, Glamglow, Bobbi Brown, MAC, Charlotte Tilbury, NARS, Clarisonic, Kiehl’s, Trish McEvoy, etc!! And lastly, many brands have its own website and has Friends and Family sales throughout the year. Typically these are 20-25% off but you need to be on the mailing list to know about it. I’m sure the dates are the same every year, but I don’t pay close enough attention to know the dates of these sales. I remember getting Friends and Family sale emails from Origins, Bobbi Brown, Clinique, and Ole Henriksen recently.

Flash Sales:
Websites such as Hautelook and Gilt have beauty flash sales that changes weekly. Right now they are featuring the brands Laura Geller, T3, Burberry fragrances, Cosmo Skin Solutions, Dr. Copeland Skin Care, and La Roche Posay. In the past I’ve seen Stila, Mario Badescu, Laura Mercier, and several other favorite brands on there.

Recycle Products for Free Products:
MAC, Lush, and Kiehl’s have recycling programs where you can bring in a certain number of full-sized empty products for a free product such as a lipstick, mask, or travel sized item.

Subscription Boxes:
I have mentioned GlossyboxBirchbox, and Memebox a couple of times on this blog now. There are numerous other ones out in the market. They typically cost $10 and up, each box contains 4-6 items, and some items may even be full size. This is a great way to discover new brands at a great value!

Join Rewards Program:
If you’re going to purchase expensive beauty products, you might as well earn points for them. Ulta, Sephora, Nordstrom and many other retailers have rewards program and you can redeem points for products or store vouchers. Unfortunately for me, I am a points hoarder so I never want to redeem! I have thousands of Sephora points saved and has only redeemed once for the Living Proof travel set. I am waiting for something BIG!

Ebates:
Quite a few YouTubers mentioned Ebates so I decided to try it out. Basically it is an online shopping mall that links you to thousands of retailers. By using the links directly on Ebates, you will earn a small cash back. For example, right now it offers a 4% cash back at Sephora.com and 6% cash back at Macys.com. These are very small cash backs, but does add up quickly and is super easy to use. I have received $50 back already, and that’s almost enough to purchase another Hourglass foundation!

Hope you found this post helpful. Please share with me your money saving tricks so we can feed our beauty addiction!

Beauty, Nails

Favorite Fall Nails

November 14, 2015

Nails Inc Uptown Essie In Stitches Dior Diorette 988

Over the summer, I was wearing lots of bright nail colors, but this fall I have been wearing more neutrals and darker shades. It’s interesting to see how the change in season changes people’s preference in nail colors. I miss those bright pastel colors from the summer, but it would just be odd wearing some of the colors now, especially since Chicago is getting so cold, dark, and gloomy. Here are the three colors I have been wearing again and again this fall!

I received Nails Inc. Uptown in my September 2015 Glossybox. This is a beautiful dusty pink. It is highly pigmented and thick, so only one coat was needed. It lasted almost a week with no chips. This is a safe color to wear to interviews and coffee chats during recruiting season because it almost blends in with the skin.

essie In Stitches is one of my top 5 nail polishes. The picture doesn’t do it justice so I’d recommend you go out and get this! When I have this on, sometimes I stare at my nails for minutes because I get so mesmerized by the gorgeous color. The quality is so-so. Essie nail polishes are more known for the lovely colors than quality. It will last a week if a quality top coat is applied.

Dior Diorette 988 is my first luxury nail polish purchase. I’ve always wondered if luxury branded nail polishes are actually worth the money. It’s hard to describe the shade of 988 because it looks different under various light settings. It mostly looks plum, berry, or purple to me, but one of my friends said it is red and another said dark pink, so who knows! The formula is supposed to mimic the gel effect with a smooth and shiny finish. This is highly pigmented and does not cause any streaks. In the beginning I was not used to the large, long applicator. Due to the size, I was scared that I will make mistakes, but it was actually pleasantly easy and I was able to color my nails much faster than my other nail polishes. I expected this to last longer than my other polishes, but it was on par. I had a couple chips within a week. Overall, I am extremely pleased by the color and the applicator, but I’m not sure if this is worth the price. It is fine to splurge every now and then, but I purchase new shades every season, so this wouldn’t be affordable! Therefore, I probably won’t be purchasing a luxury nail polish for a while and I will be using up every last drop of this one!

What are some of your favorite fall nail colors? I am especially interested to hear if you’ve tried a luxury nail polish brand and what you think of them. Do you think it’s worth the price?

Nails Inc Uptown Essie In Stitches Dior Diorette 988

Beauty, Hair, Skincare

October Discoveries

November 8, 2015

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I cannot believe it is already November!! Time is flying by and soon the holiday season will be here. Retailers are already coming out with lots of new sale promotions and exclusive holiday collections. I need to get my holiday shopping list going soon!

For those new to my blog, every month I talk about new product discoveries instead of monthly favorites. It’s because my favorites do not change often, and this forces me to try new products. I try to use the products for the entire month so that I’m able to provide a fair review. Here are the new products I tried the month of October!

The Unilever Simple Skincare line is very popular. It is designed for sensitive skin and the majority of its products use no harsh chemicals and have more kind-to-skin nutrients. I’ve seen many blog posts on the micellar water, so I decided to purchase it along with two other products from the Simple Skincare line. The Simple Cleansing Micellar Water contains a blend of multi-vitamins, and it is a gentle cleanser that cleanses, removes makeup and hydrates. At first I was skeptical because I did not believe micellar water could remove makeup. Well, it actually does a pretty good job! At night, I usually remove makeup with this product first, and then I follow with a gentle foaming cleanser to make sure everything is removed. In the morning I use this product exclusively since my face is already makeup free. I follow with the Simple Soothing Facial Toner, which is alcohol free, does not dry the face, and contains pro-vitamin b5. I finish with the Simple Nourishing 24HR Day/Night Cream. It is gentle and nourishing, and contains multi-vitamins. While this cream may be used for day and night, I only use it at night because I prefer a moisturizer with SPF during the day. Overall I am pleased with the Simple Skincare line because of the clean ingredient deck, affordable price, and quality product for my sensitive skin.

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I also tried some hair products from HASK. These products were sent to me from the brand, but all opinions are my own. HASK is a collection of hair care products featuring exotic oils from around the world. The products I tried contain argan oil, which strengthens and restores, and is targeted for dry hair. They are free of sulfates, parabens, phthalates, artificial colors, alcohol, and gluten. The shampoo has a citrus scent and lathers nicely. The conditioner does a great job of softening and detangling my hair. I’ve also used the healing shine hair treatment and it’s very effective but I am not a fan of the packaging. I have to pour the product on my hand and I usually get too much product out. I have noticed a difference with my hair after using these products because it’s softer and shinier. I love that it contains argan oil, which is an ingredient I’ve always used on my face but never on my hair. This brand is now sold on Ulta.com at very affordable prices, so I’d highly recommend you try it out if you’re looking for something to help with dry, damaged hair.

Beauty, Makeup

Fall Lip Obsessions

November 2, 2015

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Ever since I did a post over the summer about my Lip Essentials, I have been trying out tons of new lip products. It’s now my favorite beauty product to purchase since it can be worn on minimal-makeup days or it can help pull an entire look together. I love to experiment with lips and no tutorials are needed! I still use many of the products discussed on my Lip Essentials post, such as the Sara Happ Lip Scrub, Bite Beauty Matte Lip Crayon, and Vaseline Lip Therapy, but I want to highlight some of my new favorites that I have been wearing again and again this fall!

Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask – Since the weather is getting cooler and dryer, I have been looking for moisturizing lip products. This lip mask is a soothing, leave-on lip mask that replenishes moisture in lips. Some key ingredients are organic agave nectar, jojoba oil, vanilla CO2 extract, and antioxidant trans-resveratrol. I only use this at night because it is glossy and sticky so I cannot easily apply lipstick over it. When I wake up in the morning, my lips look super moist and healthy! The one thing I don’t like about this is the packaging because I have to squeeze really hard to get the product out. Other than that, I would highly recommend this product!!

Burt’s Bees Lip Crayon Niagara Overlook – I purchased this from Target a couple weeks ago and it has become one of my most reached for products. This is a beautiful rosy pink, moisturizing, easy-to-apply lip crayon. It is not super pigmented, but gives you just the right amount of color. It is 100% natural made with shea butter, kendi oil and jojoba oil.

LOC Vibrant Matte Lip Crayon First Kiss – One of my favorite YouTubers is Tati Westbrook and when I watched her video about the launch of this new line for Birchbox, I got super teary eyed during the video and couldn’t wait to purchase her lip crayon in the shade First Kiss. This is a light pink/nude shade that is perfect for a minimal makeup or no makeup look. It blends in with my face yet it still makes me look polished. It feels very buttery and smooth, and it is easy to re-apply throughout the day.

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MAC Amplified Lipstick Cosmo – Holy moly is this lipstick pigmented and high quality! I only need to apply it once and the color stays the whole day. It is very similar to the YSL Rouge Volupte in shade 23 (another favorite!), but way less glossy. The amplified version is a cream finish, which is perfect because it has just the right amount of shine and guides right on.

Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick Lovesick – I have been hearing about these lipsticks for a while, but held off on the purchase until recently because the shades I want are always out of stock. Seriously half the shades have been out of stock on Sephora for months! I finally decided to purchase this shade in Lovesick (now out of stock!), which is a beautiful mauve purple. This is a long wearing matte lipstick and the color stays on all day (even after eating and drinking). I love the formulation and I would recommend you purchase any shade!

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Josie Maran Argan Infinity Lip and Cheek Creamy Oil Boundless Berry – I am a big fan of Josie Maran because of the 100% pure argan oil and has been slowly trying out her other products. This product is a tinted lip treatment that starts as a cream and melts into an oil texture. The color is intensifying and rich–a little goes a long way! I usually just dab a little bit on my finger and tap it across my lips. One thing I don’t like about this is the application. I wouldn’t recommend applying it on your lips directly–you’ll have to squeeze products on your finger but that can get messy too. This product works on the cheeks as well, but boundless berry isn’t the best shade for the cheeks. It is way too red and pigmented, even if I only apply a couple of taps and spread the products. If it is too red on my cheeks for my skin tone, it’ll be too red for anyone with a lighter skin tone. It is a wonderful lip product though!

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I hope you enjoyed this review. Let me know what are some of your favorite lip products! I love trying out new ones 🙂