Thursday, October 09, 2014

Be Bold. Be Brave. Be Beautiful. Be Aware. B! Inspired {Breast Cancer Awareness Month}

I started talking about breast cancer awareness month a bit over two years ago when my friends over at Estée Lauder and some of their sub companies sent me some lovely products which were in support of the much-needed campaign.

At the time I wrote that first post and review in 2012, I only knew one person battling breast cancer -- my cousin's Mother-in-Law. Last year's post and review of other brands trending in the same vein, was a happier one for me because all was quiet on that front -- she had survived her breast cancer in the most poetic way possible. And no new diagnoses by friends or family.

But this year rings in a different tone. I thought I'd be able to write this post with jovial reviews of another year of beauty companies offering their proceeds of certain lush items to the fighting cause. But I'm not. In the last 3 months, two friends, both in their mid-30s were diagnosed with breast cancer -- one in stage 2; the other in stage 3. The former decided to have them both removed -- a bold and brave move I can't even wrap my emotional mind around. The former had to relocate to Miami to be with her parents as she undergoes chemo and eventual mastectomy.

But a 3rd case was most devastating and brought new meaning to this cause for me personally. A college friend buried her sister this past Monday after losing her fight to breast cancer. I didn't know my friend's sister, but I'm crushed for her. I can't imagine her pain. Her pain in knowing that her sister will no longer laugh with her but also that her sister was taken from her by a disease so ruthless but not powerful. That her nieces will rely on their auntie to help them develop into young women who will one day understand the perils of cancer.

And so I'm brining you these goodies this year with new intention --- and that's to encourage you to go beyond the pretty; beyond the lovely colors; the awesome effect of wearing them. It's to look at the organizations and the efforts to help eradicate the deadly disease. A really ugly one that's not fair and does not discriminate.

These few items, among others, are committed to the cause and are donating proceeds to various foundations, mostly the Susan G. Komen.

Clinique has come out again with their Dramatically Different Moisturizing+ Lotion. I started last year's breast cancer awareness bottle and am almost done, so perfect timing for another one! Love it, clearly. It's my first-thing-in-the-morning moisturizer.  Estée Lauder has partnered up with Elizabeth Hurley to fight breast cancer with a Dream Pink Collection faux leather pouch with two super cute mini lacquers and a lipstick. Love the colors once I painted my mom's nails. She looks all sassy in the 'Berry Hot' pink. 20% of proceeds from the $30 ticket price go to the SGKF.

“This limited-edition pink shade of gloss is our promise to never stop working towards finding a cure for a disease that affects so many women in our lives.”                                                     - Davis Factor, Smashbox Founder and Celebrity Photographer 

And finally, I'm loving on what I think is going to be my fall go-to lip gloss when I don't want to wear makeup. I'm a huge fan of Smashbox eyeliners but this shimmery 'Be Legendary' gloss looks like something I can get used stocking up. I've not tried it, but a sweet, sweet friend jellied me up telling me it's super sweet -- "non-sticky, nice shimmer without too glossy and lasts just long enough." I'll get one more myself and let you know how great it is!

Bobbi Brown's got some stuff; so does Joe Malone -- my fave every day perfumier. And so does Jergens.... a great lotion I like traveling with. Can't tell you how it is or if their Breast Cancer Awareness edition is formulated differently, but they've got something in support of, and that's worth looking into.

We can all do our part by supporting our favorite brands and picking up a prod or two that will benefit  education and research.

Be bold. Be beautiful. But be aware. 

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Friday, October 03, 2014

Perfectly-Sized Travel Essentials for Fall {Update}

Fall is here! Yes! That means our amazing wardrobe is finally allowed to come out for wonderful showcasing. The boots, scarves, the hats -- oh! the hats -- tights, and coats. So much to get excited about. For me fall also means an intense travel schedule. I've already done quite a bit this year but my major, more exciting trips are yet to come. 

I'm finally planning and pining down my dates for Europe, but first, I'm stopping in St. Thomas and Jamaica later this month! In my constant research and need to have some of the latest essentials to make my travel more convenient (and chic!), I came across these few that I'm certain will make my 9 day trip a comfy one. 


A bag this size can double as a weekender but also a great carry-on for taking all the things you need on flight... I'm a huge advocate for taking one change of clothes... one great, but casual look, just in case your checked luggage doesn't make it on time. Oh yeah, that's happened to me several times, most inconveniently in Paris.

This super-fresh bag by Aerin has enough space to pack gear for 3 days of light staples. I'm seeing it with me at the beaches of the Caribbean at the end of this month... and then again as my "purse" for my Euro trip -- for the magazines, makeup bag, over ear heads, etc.. I'll still take carry-on suit case. That's for what didn't fit in checked luggage!


We all have different needs, but there are basics we take on each trip, right? I have my go-to toiletry bag but I switch it out depending on where I'm going and for how long. Considering this particular trip which is a bit longer than my usual press trips but shorter than a proper vacation, these'll do the job of keeping me in tact.

Lumene Bright Now Vitamin C Beaty Drops. These little capsules for reviving the face are perfect for chucking in the bag and taking with you. After you've washed your face with the brush, apply this wild arctic cloudberry super-packed capsule  They're made for 28 day regiment so just remember to pull them out of your bag once you're home. I'm on day 6 so I'll come back let you know bright and smoother my face really is. For now, I love the simplicity of it.

You'd think I'd get more sleep on vacation or the press trips I take, but not so much. On the go, go, go keep me tired most times. And looking it, too, the next day. So I love taking an eye illuminator wherever I go. I use on at home, but my new Erno Laszlo luminous eye complex (gel) is the best thing to happen to my eyes, yet. It's perfectly sized for travel and actually brightens my eyes when I'm most exhausted. I did have to try it for a god 3 weeks to see a good difference. But it does the trick.

EOS chapstick. Admit it. These are super cute. I have 4 and rotate tops and bottoms, depending on my mood. They're the most playful way of keeping your lips hydrated. A bit bulky, I think, but I just love them. And clearly, so does J.Lo. Did you see a pink one in her 'Booty' video. Oh. wow.

I've become such a germaphobe over the last 3 years, I'm actually a bit concerned. I wash my hands every time I enter and leave a place and more OCD is wiping down everything, especially on a plane.  As such, I have all kinds of cleansing wipes on me at all times. Been trying out these GUD by Burt's Bees ones and I love. Different scents will keep you guiltless while you wipe your hands clean of the guck you didn't know you touched on that restaurant chair. I'm telling you! It's bad. These come in so handy when I want to wipe down anything.

Clarisonic facial brush. Where has this been my whole adult life?! No, seriously? This little thing here is joy to my skin. After days of beating my face in the sun (mostly in Mexico when I go) and the elements of busy cities, the new Mia 2 electronic brush strips away all the dirt, guck, and impurities that cause break outs and an aged look. After 3 uses, I'm in love. And it comes with a travel case to protect both the bristles and the brush. It's my new best beauty friend. Go grab yourself one and take anytime, anywhere.

L'Occitane Roll-on Relaxant. This beats any kind of sleeping pill. The stress of traveling always requires some mental down time before starting the next day; even if you're on vacation. Apply a bit of this lavender-infused oil on your wrist or decollatage at night (or throughout the day) and you'll be sweetly dreaming. I like pairing it with a candle (love traveling with one) as I do my nightly meditation. It smells amazing and puts you in a calm place. And its size allows you to carry anywhere, not just when traveling.

Sun Bum Shorties SPF. Never leave home without SPF. Ever. It should be your best friend. No matter the time of year. No matter your skin type or complexion. Yes darker skins have much more melanin to protect against sun damage, but for everyone else, it's critical a proper amount of lotion is used. These cute little bottles were made with us travelers in mind. They do the job... protect from sun rays but still allow a tan. I'm all about that tan! But I'm more about protecting my skin... it's already super sensitive. SPF 15 for non-beach trips. SPF 50 for Mexico.

Artistry Ideal Radiance SPF 50+ Sunscreen
. I swear by this little white thing. This is now my 3rd little bottle from their 3rd line of batty (full review of the new Ideal Radiance line coming). But these itty bitty 1 oz. bottles of glory are it. I literally apply to my face and neck every morning. And it stays in my travel bag. This is permanent.

Shaving cream... not really an essential but if you're into using cream and gels for shaving, these are perfect for traveling. This little duo by Shaveworks 'Get Smooth' comes with the cream which is super duper creamy and pearly and the cooling gel reduces the redness. My SIL gets in-grown hair so I'm can't wait to give it to her.

Earphones. Really. Who travels without earphones? I love talking to my flight neighbor, you know the person sitting next to you that has a story to tell -- but when I want to work or sleep, pulling out earphones is the all-tell sign "please do not disturb." For long distance, I like over the ear heads, but for quick flights and shorter trips, ear plug types are great. Loving on these new Sol Republic two-towned JAX pair. I go through earphones like socks... they get lost but I'm determined to keep these close to me. And I love they don't tangle so I can use them while running. A bit pricey for $150 at RadioShack, especially since they don't come with a case, but the sound quality beats the 'Beats by Dre' I rocked all last year. And good sound is key!

So many other essentials I could list, but since I'm literally trying out stuff for these amazing upcoming trips, these are some fun new finds for fall. Even for overnight fishing trips, which I love taking, these make sense.

Share! What are your travel essentials? What new prods are you loving on?


Chic Travel Essentials, Anytime, Anywhere 
Chic Holiday Travel
Chic Essentials for travel in 24 hours!

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

What's in my Purse {and Yours?}

The fabulous bag in NY a few weeks ago for the Today show appearance. Via my IG.

I already know I carry too much. I'm the quintessential bag lady. I have a bag for everything. Literally. As much as I've tried in true earnest to scale down, it just doesn't happen. I'm not talking about just scaling back on the number of bags I own, but also the number of bags I have in my main bag. 

I swear I have a good reason, though. Travel! With all the traveling I do, I have to carry a big carry-all which fits everything I may need for a day's work. The trouble of switching bags when I'm back and forth is too much so I end up with the same bag for a while. 

And this fabulous blue one has been it this summer. My lovely prized possession for everything. It's become my home away from home. It fits everything! Can't you tell!?! ¡Todo! Demasiado! Too much acclaim, I first showed it off here

But I have a method to this madness. It's all organized, you see. 

A black makeup bag featured in this post, holds all of my daily (and short travel trips) makeup. I've wavered from these prods few times. I've edited them down to ensure I have something for any occasion. Glosses are must so I've been hooked on L'Oreal's new 'orange tempo', Artistry Beauty's, one by Smashbox you can't see cuz it's in the bag, a nude one from Aerin's new fall collection and a bright pink crayon by NYC in 'bathroom blush'. What you can't see in the bag are my matte lipsticks. My EL pure envy and Laura Mercier 'caviar.' Those are my go-tos. 

And then mascara (I alternate between L'Oreal's butterfly, Smashbox and Lancome's oscillation) and my two must-have eyeliners by Smashbox (have you tried them!??! Heavenly! especially that French Navy). I'm finally getting used to and love the idea of not leaving home without eye correctors... a long day will do it to you! Shiseido's sheer eye zone corrector is my pal these days. Keeps me looking super vibrant when I'm really yawning inside. 

Lip balm, powder, blush, and a few more lipstick options. It's a lot! 

That black bag is literally splitting at the seams.

But then there's the blue smaller catch-all bag which is for my essentials: floss, hand sanitizer, Neosporin, tweezers, nail polish -- I'm notorious for doing my nails on my way to church and Lancome's grayish color is perfect for any fete -- hand lotion -- loving on that L'Occitane Vitora Regia tube -- and the Les Couvent des Minimis Gardner's Hand Health (I keep that in a real small exterior pocket for quick access). And a super cute fresh breath spray saying 'Hello!' -- you know... garlic fries or lots of espresso will do it to you. My vintage pill box stays there, too, for those pounding headaches that just creep up on me.

I don't move about without that little blue bag. It has spare battery for my iPhone... and cables of course. A charger for the car in case I end up in someone else's ride... that happens a lot, you know. A threading kit is essential (scoop them up at your next hotel stay!) for those wardrobe malfunctions. A sharpie! Who knows what for! And I always carry a simple barrette and two-three sample bottles of Jo Malone perfume. Again, you never where you'll end up! 

Oh, and the tea is just because. I restock after every trip. Some hotels don't have teas in the room and I like drinking a cup before I got to bed. 

Everything else just gets thrown in the bag! The iPad, the iPhone, hair emollient, mini SPF moisturizer (Artistry makes the best travel size everything  I can take anywhere and it actually works. I always carry a journal with me.  I find inspiration in just about anything I see, anyone I talk to, or even during a quiet moment at the stop light. I have to pen my thoughts. They could turn into something big! I just need a fabulous pen to match! Any suggestions? This is my latest journal find and I'm totally in love with it. It's so me. It speaks my mind when I don't have words.

And my latest addition to the big blue bag? A lovely beaded bag I'm using as my wallet... so much more chic than a traditional wallet with lots of slits in it! 

So, that's it! In a nutshell (or not!) that's what's in my bag! 

Okay your turn! What's in your bag? 

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

From NY to Miami to the Keys and Back! It’s a Travel Life…#SummerBliss

View from my room in the Keys via my Instagram
Sunset yatch ride in Florida Keys 
Ride and view to Sunset Key Westin 
John Koons art installation at 30 Rock
Coconut trees in Miami
Swinging tire for the kids!
Cancun was in the mix earlier this year, too. I went down there in May to attend their food and wine festival, which was wonderfully replete with food from all over the world. Wines galore, desserts to make you gasp and fantastic beach weather. It was the best 5 days of being disconnected. Kind of.

But I had to postpone my other travel plans for later in the Spring and early Summer, most which were out of the country, because of some awesome work that came up. And most of that work involved travel…still does.

With summer in full swing, I went to The Florida Keys which proved to be an insanely sultry 5 days of sunset beach dinners starting in Isla Morada and a perfeculy sexy al fresco lunch at Little Palm Island --  Cuban fusion food, gourmet ceviche and key lime pies to die for. It was all so perfect. But the kicker was our final night dinner at The Westin Hotel Sunset Key. Take a look at this view as weboarded the yatch ferry that took us over to the remote island... and tell me if not everything! So dreamy. So romantic. So summer!

And just when I thought my summer travel was coming to sad halt, I got an invitation to NY to do this. I was only there 30 hours but was able to snap some fun pictures of John Koons art installation at Rock Center --- where art, news, history, and entertainment collide.

Though I flew up, I drove back with my parents to make their trip easier. And, my oh my. What was supposed to be simple 3.5-hour drive back to DC, turned into a grueling, musty 6 hr traffic jam with a single stop for café. And as it would go, my iPhone crashed on all social media sites because of the love I was getting for that special visit. You can read about it here. And this is where my friends at OnStar would have come in handy! Most of GM's 2015 portfolio comes equipped with 4g LTE connectivity, which would have subsided my face-planting frustration with not being able to connect to FB and Twitter. Or better yet, asking one of their super-efficient virtual operators how to get out of the hot mess we were in.

And so now that I’m in Miami hanging with my brother, for the second time in 2 weeks, I’m taking in as much as I can of what’s left this summer! There’s so much to do! The beach, some canoeing, some jet skiing, and camping! No matter what I’m doing, it’s great to be able to share my haps with you via social media. And though it’s nice to get away from the madness of life, you know our friends like to see what we’re up to! If you have OnStar, you can enjoy your break but not leave your friends in the dark! Let them live vicariously through your fabulous jaunts!

I’m not done traveling yet, though! I’m now in Mexico where I’ll really be able to enjoy some sun while chilling on the beach under an umbrella, rocking a big fabulous hat and sipping on piña coladas.

And for certain, before summer’s out, becuse we only have 9 days left,  I’m headed to Harper’s Ferry, WV. It’s the easiest road trip ever; 2 hours; great white water rafting, fishing, some camping, thrift shopping and always a good history lesson. The views from the mountains are spectacular and bring tremendous peace. I can’t wait! That’ll be about the only road trip I take this summer.

Join in the fun with OnStar this remainder of summer! Share your road trip pics from wherever you are! Anyone of their cars has the technology and you can easily tease your fam and friends back home! Show them that perfect 11-pound fish you caught! Or that perfcct tan line you’re working on! Tag your pics #WhereintheUSA and @OnStar on Instagram for a chance to be featured on their site. They're loving how we're all spending our summer by catching pics with the tag. People nationwide are doing it up! 

I’ll show you my road trip ventures if you show me yours! For now, these are some the views I've enjoyed this summer so far; from Miami, to the Keys, to Manhattan and back. Now through the weekend, it's Playa del Carmen!

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This blog post is part of a paid SocialMoms and Mott's blogging program. The opinions and stories are true and my very own, always. Keeping it real!  
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Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Getting TV Ready

(Eyebrow tinting at Wink Brow Bar -- all natural, vegetable dye)

(The super chic, quoted wall at Wink Brow Bar)

Last segment's makeup selection via my Instagram
There's a method to getting camera ready. As much as I'd like to think the approach is the same every time, I just can't seem to stick to the same method. What I do before I get to the Green Room, if there's one avail, depends on the amount of sleep I got, how much water (or coffee) I've had, and how my skin woke up feeling --- in a happy, bright mood or a dull, "let's beat this" affect. I wish it more more often the former than the latter but, hey a girl can't have it all! 

But I'm always prepared! You already know I tend to overpack.... whether it's shoes (don't ever get to half of them) or makeup, I'm always overloaded with extra stuff. You know, just in case things change up last minute... or in the event there's no Green Room... those times aren't so fun, but I gotta make it work. And so over the years, I've learned really well how to do my makeup and over the last 2 years, refined my look to be camera ready... a whole other kind of application. 

There's lighting to consider. A lot of movement, especially when I'm taping several segments back-to-back for later airing...and of course the look for what I'm talking about. If for fashion, I like an edgier look. If I'm cooking, I like a sexy but natural look. Ultimately, it really depends on how I'm feeling. 

But there are some basics. Like priming. And falsies. And great lip color. And in my case, coloring-in my ultra thin eyebrows. Ugh, the worst thin things ever. That's another story, but I have to color them in a bit to get a fuller but natural look. 

On my 1st Today show segment, I was invited by the super sleek Wink Brow Bar in the Village for an eyebrow tinting. That went super-well and we ended up adding eyelash clusters. The tinting was great but didn't stay on as long as they said, which should have been at least 3 weeks. Mine lasted more like 5 days. But the vegetarian dye was nice and had a great hue. Love the difference it made. It as extremely natural looking but definitely made them look thicker and fuller than they really are. The clusters were the best I've ever had applied but they also fell out after one day when they should have lasted at least one week. 

I won't say a complete fail since they definitely augmented my look the next morning for live TV but not sure how effective the tinting really is. 

And then of course I have the night before ritual which is about 3 glasses of water, washing, cleansing, and applying Orico London Superico Face Oil. Best.stuff.ever. And some of my beauty friends in NY dropped off a lovely good bag filled with goodies to help me prep. I was all over the Lumene Bright Now for my eyes, which I struggle a bit with b/c of lack of sleep -- every hard-working woman's pet peeve. 

But for the day of, I put so much more into it... Green Room or not!

It goes like this:

Moisturize: Love washing with a simple Neutregena grapefruit acne cleanser... especially when it's that time of the month. Been swearing by that for about 6 years now. I move on to toning and moisturizing. I love a variety of moisturizes I'm using these days. For perky eyes, I stick to lotion, cremes that focus stricly on the yes. For vibrancy, Lumene 'Bright Now' and Erno Lazlo eye creams. I use the Erno one at night and the Lumene in the morning. The combo works well! I finish with a few misty sprays of Caudile Beauty Elixir -- the travel size, of course. It's perfection.

Prime: This is key for TV. It equalizes your face and allows your makeup to apply evenly and be more stable. I used Lancome's La Base primer which feels like silk! Love that stuff. And then like the best beauty find ever, I apply L'Oreal's Miracle Blur. That stuff there! It's like airbrush for your face in real life. It's amazing. It mattes the face without matting the face, if you know what I mean. And finally, I finish off with Smashbox's Photo Finish. It has as similar affect as the Miracle Blur, but it's not as matted and has a lovely light colored bronzy and metallic finish which illuminates beautifully. I try not to use it for every day, but it's sooooo good!

Conceal: This is the fun part. L'Oreal's True Match Crayon has been my obsession since they came out. I go through them in about two weeks. I use it everywhere: under eye, blemishes, neck, etc... it does the magic trick of evening out discoloration. And it's not cake. I've put on about 10 girlfriends on this God-sent product.

Foundation: Since I don't always trust MUAs in Green Rooms can really get my complexion right, especially if I'm having a month of brown spots, I start my makeup myself and let them touchup and finish with their really good stuff. I use a few foundations, but L'Oreal's True Match foundation is the This is liquid goodness. I used that for just about any time I'm wearing makeup. Shiseido and Laura Mercier have great foundations I use, too.

Eyes: Actually, this is my most fun part ever. I travel with one eye palette only, mostly Estée Lauder Bronze Goddess from last summer which is still a charm for me and a two year old Bobbi Brown one.... they're magic. I dibble and dabble in newer ones I have, but not unit I've completely figured out how their blend worlds, I go with what I know well. I still use single colors in little pots. Eyeliner go-to is either Bobbi Brown Khol versions, Smashbox  3D liner in French Navy or Artistry Beauty's metallic.... my absolute favorite. And for mascara, a woman's best beauty friend, Smashbox's Full Exposure is naaaaasty good! Try it out, ladies. It's everything in mascara. But I apply that after faslies! And I've recently been loving on Lancome's Hypnose wand. It's super light and gives great texture. Finally, I finish with a touch up under my eyes again... Lancome's liquid concealer pen is great. It's small enough to take anywhere.

Powder: Lancome's pressed powders are good. Super light... probably the lightest I've ever used but it does the job... A really good job.

Blush: I've been using Artistry Beauty's coral blush from last season. But it's so pretty and the round gold compact makes it great. It have lovely shimmer but not too much which could interfere with studio lighting. I also use my good old faithful MAC but I'm not sure of the color.

Highlighter: I have several highlighters I used depending on how badly I need it! his last appearance, I told the nicest one I've worked with yet, to hook up my upper cheekbone, chin and forehead. If I do myself, Urban Decay's Naked Illuminated powder and Laura Mercier illuminizing bronzers give that last touch of "I'm ready!"

Lips: I let the MUAs do this part, but sometimes I like arriviting on set fully done... And if so, I always have a good stash of glosses and lipsticks. My go-tos are Laura Mercier 'Peony' (this entire summer), Artistry Beauty lip glosses, like Plum Glaze, NYC color crayons, and Estée Lauder pure envy matted sticks. Matte lips with a simple dip in the glitz jar is key!

And that's how it goes! I love doing my own makeup but sometimes a girl needs those amazing MUA hands' tools an tricks to finish it all off. God bless them!

Stay tuned for my look on the last Today show segment where the gorgeous Jennifer Lopez and I hung out.
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