It’s the most wonderful time of the year – the long-awaited Sephora VIB sale. Sephora only does these sales two times a year so it’s wise to get while the gettin’ is good.

After attempting to clean out my makeup storage just last week (and promptly giving up after 20 minutes), I tried to be a little more judicious this year than usual. Here are my very carefully chosen top picks from the Sephora VIB sale.

1. Tarte Tartelette Toasted Eyeshadow Palette
TARTE Tartelette Toasted Eyeshadow Palette

I need another warm-toned eyeshadow palette like I need a hole in the head but I couldn’t resist this one. I already own and love the Tartelette Original and Tartelette in Bloom palettes so I know I love the formulas. The colors in this one are perfect for this time of year and sort of remind me of my favorite shades from the Urban Decay Naked Heat Palette which has been a favorite of mine for the last few months.

2. Ouai Texturizing Hairspray
Ouai Texturizing Hairspray

I got a mini sample of this last time I went to Sephora just to test it out. I’m usually pretty devoted to my Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray but it’s soooo expensive and I used up my last spritz over a month ago. I really like how this Ouai one has a fresh minty scent and I decided to give it a go for the upcoming holiday season.

3. Kat Von D Liquid Lipstick in Bow  Arrow and Lolita II

Kat Von D Liquid Lipstick

Lolita II

Okay, so you guys know I’m obsessed with the shade “Sanctuary” from Kat Von D.  It’s a great autumnal, 90s cool-toned brown. But what I really fell in love with was the formula of these babies. I actually thought I wasn’t a liquid lipstick person until I found these. (I had to return the Anastasia ones because they were so difficult to apply and dried up on my lips.) So I decided to pick up two more neutral shades, Bow N Arrow is a best-seller and Lolita II. I own the original Lolita in the now-discontinued Studded Kiss formula and love the shade. This slightly tawnier version seemed perfect for an everyday winter lip color.

4. First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Instant Oatmeal Mask
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Instant Oatmeal Mask

With cooler weather comes dryer, more irritated skin. I saw that this mask was given 5 stars on Beautypedia so I decided to give it a go. I would have loved to buy a ton of new skincare products but I’m still on a bit of a skincare detox (check out my how-to) and I wanted to keep it simple for awhile. Yay, sensitive skin.

5. Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Mysterious Red

Mysterious Red

Mysterious Red

I love a matte lip. I really wanted to get a new matte red for the holidays (the unofficial red lip season) and it seemed like a lot of the lipstick formulas at Sephora had some sort of shine to them. I used to love, and I mean, LOVE the Nars Cruella lip pencil from this line so when I realized that there was a red shade in that same formula that I hadn’t tried yet, I knew I had to have it. I love the name (so mysterious) and the color itself was described as a “crimson” on Sephora’s website. While I plan to break out my rediscovered and much beloved “Cruella” this year, I’m pretty stoked to test out a new shade of this super matte formula.

That’s all, folks! Very restrained for me…

Anyone else partaking in the Sephora VIB Sale this year? Let me know what you bought below!

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As my brother-in-law would say, “I’ve got that wintertime, wintertime fatness…” Tis the season for eating and I love crackin’ out the ole’ crock pot for some feel-good fall flavors. Here are some recipes for fall that I can’t wait to make over the next few months.

1. Crock Pot BBQ Chicken (for sliders, tacos or lettuce wraps)

Crock Pot BBQ Chicken

This is as easy as it gets. I make some variation of this recipe every month or so. It certainly satisfies year-round but is especially comforting this time of year. Take your favorite BBQ sauce, throw in some boneless, skinless chicken breasts with some chopped onions, salt, pepper and garlic salt and you’ve got yourself a meal, my friends. I love to have it on Hawaiian sweet rolls or you can have it in a lettuce wrap if you’re trying to be healthy.

I always look for recipes that can be re-constituted as leftovers throughout the week and this is definitely one of them. You can easily turn this into zesty tacos or a spicy grilled cheese so you don’t get bored while you’re working through the leftovers.

2. Brown Butter Garlic Carrots – Rasa Malaysia 

Brown Butter Garlic Honey Roasted Carrots

So this is definitely more of a side, but I brought a similar dish to Thanksgiving at my family’s last year and it was a hit. These look easy enough to make so I can’t wait to test this recipe out next. It would be great paired with any of the recipes in this list which shows its versatility.

3. Butternut Squash Macaroni & Cheese – Jessica Gavin

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

Butternut squash, sharp cheddar, classic elbow macaroni and panko bread crumbs make this twist on a classic a winner. I haven’t tried making this yet but it looks easy enough to attempt on a weeknight and I love Mac and Cheese enough to want all the leftovers for myself.

4. French Onion Soup – Tyler Florence 

French Onion Soup

This one is an old favorite of mine. It can take awhile to make so it’s probably more of a Sunday night meal for me but the leftovers get better and better as that rosemary steeps, so it’s well worth your time. Hot, herbacious, comforting and enough leftovers to last a week. What more do you want?

5. Apple & Gouda Grilled Cheese – Domestic Superhero

Apple and Gouda Grilled Cheese

I love apples. I love gouda. I LOVE grilled cheese. This looks so easy to make and so delicious for an easy weeknight dinner. I plan on having this with some tomato soup for dipping and a side of those weirdly addictive Trader Joe’s White Truffle Potato Chips. Treat yo’self.

6. Roasted Sweet Potato with Chickpeas, Feta & Cilantro – The Wiegands

Roasted Sweet Potato with Chickpeas, Feta and Cilantro

How insane is this pic? The second I found this on Pinterest, I knew I had to make it. Most of my family is now vegetarian so I think this could be the perfect dish to make at our next get-together.

7. Spicy White Cheddar Beer Cheese Soup – A Flavor Journal

Spicy White Cheddar Beer Cheese Soup

Okay, so I’m not even going to try and pretend that this is remotely healthy. But I friggin love beer cheese soup and this one looks like a must-try. The next time a cheese craving hits, I’m making this.

8. Thai Butternut Squash Red Curry – Little Spice Jar

Mmmm…curry is perfect for a cold winter night and this recipe utilizes all the flavors of the season with butternut squash and warm, flavorful spices. Served over some jasmine or basmati rice, I think this would be a perfectly satisfying vegetarian supper!

9. The Best Healthy Turkey Chili – Ambitious Kitchen

This is another one of those recipes that looks easy enough to make on a Sunday but versatile enough to be enjoyed throughout the week – on sliders, tacos and of course, as classic chili.

10. Slow Cooker Apple Crisp – The Kitchn

I love apple crisp (with ice cream) and this one couldn’t be easier. Toss the ingredients in a crockpot and 3 hours later, you’re good to go. Plus, that paper towel trick to catch the steam and keep things crispy is SO genius.

What are your favorite seasonal recipes for fall and winter? Comment below and link to the recipe if you can! Sharing is caring. 🙂

Oh, Halloween. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

Other than Christmas, Halloween is probably my favorite holiday of the year. And unlike Christmas, it’s a zero-stress, zero-hype holiday. In fact, most years I just end up staying in and snuggling up for a favorite Halloween movie with tons of candy (Reeses and Kit-Kats FTW).

It seems like a lot of people think Halloween movies and they think Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday the 13th. And while those classic slasher films definitely have their place, I like movies that take me back to my childhood. Back when Halloween meant trick-or-treating and free candy (because we had no way of going out and getting candy ourselves) and it was totally admissible to get a ton of candy and eat to our hearts’ content.

1. Hocus Pocus
Hocus Pocus
You can’t look at any list of Halloween movies without seeing this one on there. It’s such a classic – funny, spooky, great storyline. My family watches it every year and I admit that I sometimes watch it multiple times throughout the season.

2. The Nightmare Before Christmas

You can’t make a list of Halloween movies without at least one Tim Burton film and this one is a classic. In my opinion, The Nightmare Before Christmas is 50% Halloween movie and 50% Christmas movie.   The claymation gives me all the nostalgic feels and the music is soooo good.

3. The Worst Witch
The Worst Witch
Okay, so Netflix tried to re-make this and I can’t speak to that series since I haven’t seen it, but the original – oh my god. It’s so cringey to watch Tim Curry be a love interest but it’s so wonderful and 80s that you just have to watch it. It’s like the original Hogwarts.

4. Halloweentown
Halloweentown
Okay, so this is another super cheesy movie that was originally made for TV and aired on the Disney channel. However, if you can get past the cheesiness, it’s actually a really great storyline. 

5. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
You just have to admire Linus’s Halloween Spirit and adherence to his belief in the great pumpkin. A man of principle, Linus sets an example for us all this Halloween.

 

What are your favorite Halloween movies? I plan on watching all 5 of these SEVERAL times over the next week. I know, I have problems. Happy Halloween peeps!

Fall is just getting started here in Virginia but I’ve been loving a few products and fashion pieces so much over the last few weeks, that I thought it’d be worth sharing.

1. Alpha Skincare 14% Serum
Alpha Skincare 14% Serum
Paula says you shouldn’t use glycolic acids of over 10% on a daily basis but despite that, she gave this product a raving review – and so do I. I used it every other day for a week, (after doing my 10 day skin detox), and my skin has transformed. Also, it’s worth noting – I’m no stranger to glycolic acid. I use the Paula’s Choice 8% gel on a semi-regular basis and this stuff DEFINITELY took things up a notch.

2. Kat Von D Liquid Lipstick in Sanctuary
Kat Von D Lipstick in Sanctuary
I never thought I was a liquid lipstick person. I tried the one from Lime Crime and several from Anastasia and they just weren’t for me. That is, until, I picked up the Kat Von D one. The applicator is very firm but also pretty small so it’s easy to get a precise lip look with just one coat. I have 4 shades so far but I’ve been loving this spooky one for fall. It’s sort of a grey-ish taupe but it’s oddly flattering on my fair skin.

3. Short A-Line Skirts
Ya know when you discover a type of clothing that works for your body type and then you just start buying them in bulk? Yeah. That happened.

Short a-line skirts with buttons or zippers, in denim or suede, embroidered or basic – I can wear them without tights and some sandals or flats for warmer days, or with tights and ankle boots for cooler days. Something about how it nips in at the waist and then flares outward over my lower tummy (ie., my danger zone) is just so flattering. If you have a similar shape to me, and have a small high waist but tend to bloat in your lower tummy area, this style might work for you too.

4. Harry Potter
This is more of a lifetime favorite – but this time of year I love to break out these movies and books and just dive back into that world of magic. It makes me feel like a kid again and gives me all the nostalgic feels. FYI, I’m in Ravenclaw. Luna Lovegood FTW. What house are you?

Morning Walks

Looking serious but feeling lighthearted on a breezy morning stroll.

5. Morning Walks

As the weather gets cooler, but not TOO cool, I like to take advantage of it by doing nice little saunters outside in the woods behind my apartment. There’s a little trail and it’s the perfect distance (about 15-25 minutes there and back) depending on how fast I walk and how much time I have. I’m not gonna lie – sometimes I’m lazy and I definitely don’t do it every day. But when I do (mostly on the weekends), I find that it just does WONDERS for my mood. Sometimes I listen to music but usually I just walk in silence and listen to the wind in the trees. It’s a great way to be alone with my thoughts, and start my day off on the right foot.

6. Nest Indigo Perfume

Nest Indigo Perfume
I’ve had this one for a year but hadn’t worn it much over the Spring and Summer. I recently started wearing it again and I forgot how much I loved it. I’m a big fan of the Nest fragrances in general – they’re all so unique and the packaging is beyond gorg. Sephora describes it as warm, aromatic and mysterious with notes of Moroccan tea, kashmir wood, cardamom and wild fig. Seriously, perfect for fall.

7 & 8 Eyeshadow Palettes (because I couldn’t decide and they’re similar) – Urban Decay Heat and Marc Jacobs Scandalust 
Urban Decay Naked Heat and Marc Jacobs Scandalust

Both of these palettes are amazing quality and contain perfect shades for fall – lots of warm burgandies, plums, warm pinks and browns. The Urban Decay one has more shades and was oddly a summer release, despite the fact that the shades are so perfect for fall. I purchased the Marc Jacobs one more recently as a birthday present to myself and I’ve been enjoying switching between the two.

9. Trader Joe’s White Truffle Potato Chips
Trader Joes Organic White Truffle Potato Chips

I thought it couldn’t get any better than the honey butter potato chips – but I was wrong. These chips taste so amazing. If you don’t like the flavor of mushrooms, you might not like these. But they’re so herby and greasy – it’s the perfect thing to snack on while you watch all your fav. Halloween movies.

10. Celestial Cinnamon Apple Spice Tea

Celestial Cinnamon Apple Spice Tea
This stuff basically tastes like apple cider. It’s zero calories and feels like such a treat anytime of day.

If you’re a beauty junkie like me, you get it. Testing out new products is what makes me want to wake up in the morning. But alas, even with the best skincare, all those new treatments can take a toll. Not to mention, all the normal stuff we put our skin through on a daily basis – from stress and hormones to diet and lack of sleep, your physical (and mental) health shows itself on your skin. Right there – for everyone to see.

I’ve been through a lot of phases with my skin – it’s usually very dry in the winter but oilier in the summer. This past summer, my skin was oilier than it’s ever been. No matter what I used, my skin was greasy and red with pesky pimples along my neck and jawline.

It had me thinking – when was my skin at its best? And the answer is, obviously, when I was using barely anything. So I decided to pare my routine waaay down and stop the vicious cycle of over-dying my skin with harsh acne treatments and then over-moisturizing it with creams and moisturizers that were way too heavy for my oily skin.

And the verdict? It’s been working for me so far. So I thought I’d document my rules for a skincare detox both for my own records and for anyone else whose skin is going through a rough time.

Skincare Detox

 

The 10 Day Skincare Detox

  1. Take a break.
    When your skin has a breakout, it’s tough to resist the urge to run to the nearest 24-hour drugstore and stock up on every harsh, acne-fighting product they sell. But in reality, a lot of those products may be doing your skin more harm than good. The BEST thing you can do is to truly do nothing. LESS IS MORE.Take your usual routine down several notches and stick to just those products that you KNOW work for you. If you don’t know what works for you, you can’t go wrong with a gentle cleanser like this one from CeraVe. Only use moisturizer if you have to (if your skin feels tight after cleansing), and for the love of god, keep your hands off your face.
  2. Keep it clean.
    This one seems obvious but I wanted to make a point of saying that, while taking a step back from all the crazy treatments and serums and scrubs, it’s still important to wash your face twice a day. Keep your hair off your face, or if you cant, be careful of your haircare products, (yes, you CAN break out from your haircare). If you want to play it really safe, change your pillowcases 2-3 times a week.
  3. Drink more water.
    Flush the acne out. Drink as much water as you possibly can. Avoid alcohol and limit your caffeine intake. I’m a coffee addict so I get how hard that can be sometimes but there’s really no reason to be drinking more than 2 cups a day if you’re getting proper sleep, which brings me to my next point…
  4. Sleep!
    It can be hard to unplug, but lack of sleep can really affect your skin. A few sleepless nights combined with poor diet can be enough to make you break out. Set a timer on your phone to remind you when it’s time to start winding down to ensure that you’re getting at least 8 hours every night.
  5. Let your skin breathe.
    This is the hardest one for me to follow – but if you truly want to detox your skin, you should avoid foundation. A lot of foundations can clog pores (even if it says it doesn’t) and in general, it’s just not good for your skin to wear a heavy foundation every day. If you can’t go totally bare-faced, you’re probably safer with a foundation powder like MAC Studio Fix Powder or my personal favorite, Kat Von D Lock It Foundation Powder. Then, wash that baby off as soon as you get home.
  6. Don’t. Pick.
    Even when there’s a spot that’s just BEGGING to be popped (you know the ones), it’s just going to make them even more irritated and inflamed. Picking at your zits only makes them worse. If you find yourself tempted, spot conceal during the day and put a spot treatment or oil absorbing mask (like this one) on when you get home.
  7. Check the ingredients. Do your research.
    From the very first breakout, check the ingredients on your products. You may be using something that’s irritating your skin. It’s tough to make sense of it so I use sites like Beautypedia for product reviews and Paula’s Choice Ingredient Dictionary to determine whether or not an ingredient might be breaking me out.Some people may have allergies that affect their skin. For example, I have a soy allergy that means I shouldn’t eat anything with soy. But that ALSO means that any products with soybean in them, like so many of Aveeno’s, make my skin itch.If you are breakout prone, keep in mind that any product that you leave on your skin (ie, not cleansers) that have a thick, creamy or really moisturizing texture is more likely to break you out than one that is lightweight or gel.
  8. Slowly start introducing new products back into your routine – one at a time. 
    Find products with short ingredient lists and good reviews and start integrating them into your routine ONE AT A TIME. If you start using multiple products at once and get a breakout, you’ll have no idea what the culprit is. Now that you’ve done your detox, you’ll know what your skin’s baseline is. Give a new product at least a week before you decide to make it a regular. If you start breaking out within that time, most stores have 30 day return policies. If everything seems to be going okay, then you can introduce another product and so on.

And that’s it! My skin is a little bit on the sensitive side so I find that these rules have really worked for me. Remember peeps: when pimples attack, dial it back. 😉

What works for you when your skin is having a freak-out?