31 May, 2015

DIY At Home Brunch on a Budget

Brunch, hosting, events, graduation

Brunch, hosting, events, graduation

I may or may not have consumed 3 bagels throughout the duration of this day...
Who doesn't love brunch?  Mimosas, tons of carbs, fresh fruit, eggs, you name it.  Brunch is hands down the perfect meal -- What better to celebrate a special occasion?

My sister recently graduated from high school and wanted to do something nice to celebrate this exciting time in her life.  We decided to host an at home brunch for our family and friends to do something different and stay within a budget.  We all seriously enjoy going out for brunch, but taking 15+ people out adds up really, really quickly.

Brunch, hosting, events, graduation

All of our decorations were purchased at Party City, and we went with red white and blue to rep my sister's college in the fall.  You can find really cute, inexpensive plates, cups, and serving items, and they'll last you for a while even once your event is said and done!  We picked up some gorgeous red and white roses which looked great in the kitchen.

Roses, Red, White, Brunch, hosting, events, graduation

Brunch, hosting, events, graduation

Party City, Brunch, hosting, events, graduation

Brunch, hosting, events, graduation

We ordered the majority of the food from a local grocery store and made what we could at home.  This way, we saved a few bucks, had fun cooking in the kitchen, used what we already had in the house, and minimized cleanup.

We opted for a variety of bagels (and creamcheese, of course), an egg dish, tuna & chicken salads, and a kale salad.  We made pancake muffins (so delicious), yogurt parfaits, and fruit salad at home.  And of course, what's brunch without handfuls of champagne?

You'll find that this is where you can really save some money -- Just go to the store and buy ingredients to make some simple dishes at home, and go for dishes that are easy to make in large amounts.  We bought some large containers of yogurt (Siggi'svanilla is our favorite), a few bags of granola, and some fresh fruit to create the parfaits.  We used small mason jars for Target (around $15 for 12 jars) to create a pretty cute display.

Brunch, hosting, events, graduation

Mimosas, champagne, Brunch, hosting, events, graduation

Tip:  If you are making any recipes for the first time, give them a trial run before the actual date of your event.  If you think you'll need to double the recipe for a dish or are unsure of measurements, save yourself the headache and try it all out in advance.  I screwed this up a bit by running out of pancake batter when I was making a large number of muffins -- Luckily I figured out how to improvise and no one was left pancake-less.

If you don't already have champagne glasses (I know I didn't have more than a few when I was in college), don't break the bank.  You can find some glasses, plates, and silverware at the Dollar Store that will do the job.  Don't knock them till you try them -- Seriously, no one will know they were 1-2 dollars.

Hosting brunch at home is the perfect opportunity to host your family and friends, save some money, and just relax and celebrate!  What are some of your best tips for at-home hosting?  I still have lots of learning to do, so let me know!

29 May, 2015

Red Apple Lipstick

Every time I say the name of this lipstick, I can't help but sing the Rascal Flatts song..."Well I miss Mayberry, sitting on the porch drinking ice cold cherry coke...".  I'm not the biggest country fan, but that's what my brain thinks when I grab this lipstick.  But I am a Texan, so I'm glad I have at least something to show for it.  Plus, Red Apple Lipstick is a Texas-based company, so I think it's perfectly appropriate!

Red Apple Lipstick, Mayberry, Lipstick

I first saw this lipstick on Alexis on YouTube and had to have it -- It looked like the perfect MLBB (my lips but better) shade, and I can never get enough of those.  I noticed she had on the most gorgeous lip color in a ton of videos, and she filled me in on Red Apple.

Red Apple Lipstick, Lipstick

Red Apple Beauty, Lipstick, Kylie Jenner Lip

I spoke to the team at Red Apple (who are fellow Houstonians) and was able to get my hands on Mayberry very quickly!  The company gluten-free, and the products are extremely moisturizing with the perfect sheen.  The packaging is a beautiful, simple and classic black tube, and the formulation is just gorgeous.  I'm usually not a big lipstick wearer -- Most dry my lips out, and I find that lots can make me look a little overdone.

Mayberry can be a sheer, natural berry color if applied lightly, and when applied heavier, it is a beautiful, rich berry-toned neutral.  Even the boyfriend approves this color, and he hates lipstick!

Red Apple Lipstick Mayberry
Sheer wash of Mayberry
Red Apple Lipstick Mayberry

Red Apple Lipstick Mayberry, MAC, Velvet Teddy, Vintage Pink, Rimmel
Mayberry swatched next to MAC Velvet Teddy and Rimmel Vintage Pink
You can see how much mauve Mayberry has -- Velvet Teddy is much more nude/neutral, and Rimmel Vintage Pink is more purple/pink.

Mayberry's perfect for any look -- I've been using it lightly for an everyday, light summery look, but I have no doubt that come Fall (am I the only person that's already excited for boot season?), I'll be wearing it as my go-to deeper neutral lipstick.

Red Apple will also send you a coupon if you sign up for emails so you can save a couple bucks, which is something I always look for when shopping online.

Shop Red Apple Lipstick here, and check out Mayberry here.

24 May, 2015

Makeup Organization Feat. Muji Acrylic Storage

Muji, Makeup, Acrylic, Storage

I may be a bit of a hoarder when it comes to makeup.  I keep things that I rarely use because it reminds me of a certain time, it looks pretty, or because I just need to keep it for whatever reason.

Muji, Makeup, Acrylic, Storage

Makeup, Storage, Muji, Acrylic

Muji, Acrylic, Storage, Makeup

I've changed my makeup organization a handful of times -- Which is inevitable with a growing collection.  The past few months, I haven't had the space to store all of my makeup, and it's left me with a desk covered in powders, loose eyeshadows, eyelash curlers, you name it.  I was tired of having no free space on my desk and knew it was time for an upgrade.  My current organization isn't perfect, and I still need to get a few more Muji drawers -- For now, I've continued using a smaller acrylic-like set of drawers, which I picked up from TJ Maxx.

I have seen the Muji drawers featured all over the Internet.  Most acrylic drawers are over-priced, but once I found out that Muji wouldn't break the bank, I decided to go ahead and pick up some drawers.  I opted for the 5-drawer ($27.95) and the Stackable 1 Drawer ($12.75).  The drawers were affordable, look gorgeous for storage, and fit most of my mess.  They are large enough to not need to stack items, and they have a variety of sizes to choose from to best accommodate your collection.

One of my favorite drawers -- Highlighters and illuminators.  I keep all of them in a larger drawer (Laura Mercier Indiscretion, The Balm Mary Lou Manizer, Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Opal, Mac Soft and Gentle MSF, Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed in Opal, Clinique Chubby Sculpting Stick, Hourglass Sculpting Duo)

Muji, Makeup, Storage, Highlight, Acrylic, Becca, MAC, The Balm, Mary Loumanizer

Makeup, Storage, Organization, Acrylic, Bobbi Brown, Maybelline, Nars Powder, Bahama Mama, Bronzer, Milani
Blush Drawer (what I could fit) - Mac Dainty, Stila Cream Blush, Hourglass Dim Light, RMS Promise Lip-2-Cheek, Benefit Dallas, Mac Harmony, Mac Warm Soul (favorite), Milani Baked Blush)

Muji, Acrylic, Storage, Makeup, Blush, Benefit Dallas, Mac Harmony, Warm Soul, Dainty

Concealer and a couple blushes that wouldn't fit in the blush drawer -- LA Pro Conceal, Maybelline Fit Me, Rimmel Match Perfection, Mac Pro Longwear, NYX HD Conealer, MAC Pro Concealer Palette in Medium, NYX Baked Blush, Milani Blush in Tea Rose)

Concealer, Storage, Acrylic, Muji, Makeup, Milani, NYX HD, Mac Pro, Maybelline

I put all of my brow products in the small, single acrylic drawer -- Mostly Anastasia Beverly Hills with a few other favorites - (Anastasia Beverly Hills Dip Brow in Blonde + Chocolate, Makeup Forever Aqua Brow, Anastasia Beverly Hills Clear brow gel, Brow Wiz in Taupe + Dark Brown + Soft Brown, Anastasia Brow Powder Duo in Ebony, Sigma Brow Powder in Medium, NYX Brow Gel in Brunette)

Eyebrows, Anastasia Beverly Hills, Storage, Acrylic, Muji, Brow Pomeade, Aqua Brow, Brow Wiz, Sigma

I put all of my lipliners and a few lipsticks in my TJ Maxx Drawer for now.

Storage, Acrylic, Lipliner, Makeup, MAC, Gerard Cosmetics, Loreal, Red Apple Lipstick

The drawer attached to my desk - I put extra powders, foundations, and larger products that wouldn't fit in the drawers.  I don't use these products as often, but I like to have them on-hand).

Storage, Makeup, Cover FX, Hourglass, Blush, Powder

I put all of my setting sprays and larger setting powders off to the side.  Acrylic Lipstick Organizer from TJ Maxx.

Mario Badescu, MAC, Fix Plus, Laura Mercier, Ben Nye Banana Powder, Urban Decay

I am planning on ordering the Large 2-drawer to fit my foundations and primers -- I already ran out of room here, and one more set of drawers should do the trick.  The 5-drawer and single that I ordered are not tall enough to fit larger foundation-sized bottles, which is why I have them placed on top of the acrylic drawers for now.

Muji, Acrylic, Makeup, Storage, primer, foundation, concealer, blush, bronzer, powder, setting spray

I love these drawers and recommend them to anyone looking for a beautiful, clean set of storage.  I'll definitely be ordering more, and I'll do an updated organization post once everything is in its final home!

You can buy the Muji drawers that I purchased and other acrylic organizers here!

21 May, 2015

Favorite Mascaras

Am I the only one that has spent years searching for the perfect, go-to mascara?  Mascara is usually the first makeup-ey item girls start wearing, and it is just an endless search from then on.  My first mascara was Maybelline Great Lash (I'm sure I'm not the only one).  From there, I've been high and low: From Maybelline, Jordana Loreal, Benefit, Lancome, you name it.  I've tried it.

I have fairly long lashes naturally, but a good mascara makes all the difference on really playing them up and opening my eyes.  You'll notice a trend here -- I have a special place in my heart for Loreal mascaras and drugstore mascara.  Yes, there are some fantastic high-end mascaras on the market, but when I can find an amazing one at the drugstore, why wouldn't I stick to it?  To be honest, I think i like these drugstore mascaras better than the more expensive ones I've tried!

Lashes, Mascara, Brows, Eyebrows, Anastasia Beverly Hills
Natural lashes without mascara - Brows: Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz in Soft Brown + NYX Brow Gel (Yes, I need to get my brows done!)

Lashes, brows, eyebrows, mascara, loreal, anastasia beverly hills, green eyes
Before & After lashes: Wearing Loreal Telescopic

Here's a lowdown on my all-time favorites and go-tos.

Loreal Telescopic (Current Favorite)
I am constantly asked if I'm wearing false lashes when I'm wearing this mascara.  This is a lengthening mascara and will give you instant length.  1 coat of this mascara and you're good to go -- Don't over do it though, because it will start to get a bit clumpy.  I grab this mascara when I want quick, super long lashes.  It does the job in seconds for me, and it is easy to remove as well.

Loreal, Mascara, Lashes

The wand is very thin, and the bristles are pretty small.  At a glance, it doesn't look very promising, but trust me - Brush over your lashes one time and you'll be amazed.

Loreal, Mascara, Lashes

Maybelline Lash Sensational
Still fairly new on the market, this mascara is hands-down amazing.  It has a slightly curved brush, and it really curls, plumps, and lengthens your lashes.  It is very buildable, and it makes your lashes look very thick and black.  It has a pretty instant effect and lasts all day.  The only con for me is that it's hard to remove!

Loreal Voluminous
I used this mascara throughout high school and college.  I couldn't get away from it, even if I tried!  This mascara gives you volume and length, and you can build up coats without it looking clumpy.  This also goes on very easily, and the brush is perfect - Not too big, not too small, just right.

Loreal Voluminous Butterfly
...This mascara.  I don't have enough good things to say.  Length, volume, and a fluttery lash effect, just like the packaging claims.  I have turned so many of my friends onto it, and they all have reported back with only good things to say.  The brush is slightly more curved than other Loreal mascaras and a little harder in texture, but I love the effect that it gives.  The curl lasts all day, and it seriously looks like you have a set of falsies on.

Maybelline Pumped Up
The most natural effect out of all my favorites -- This has a very soft brush and just lightly coats the lashes.  My lashes look light and fluttery with this, but it isn't one that I grab when I'm looking to get a serious WOW with my lashes.

Mascara Wish List:
YSL Faux Cils Babydoll - I've read thousands of amazing reviews on this.  If I were to pick a high-end mascara to try, it would have to be this one!  But for $30.00, can it really put my other favs to shame?

Have you tried any of these?  Do you love drugstore mascaras as much as I do?  Let me know your favorites!


14 May, 2015

"Slutty" Brownies

If you don't already know about these, I'm not too sure we can be friends.  Are you living under a rock, or are you just not a ridiculous, uncontrollable chocolate lover like myself?  No worries, you're filled in now, and you'll never look at brownies the same.

brownies, chocolate, oreos, cookies

I remember when I first found out about Slutty Brownies on Rosie, The Londoner's, blog.  I was scrolling through slowly, deeply gazing into the gooey brownie and chocolate chip cookie's soul.  I immediately screen-shotted the recipe and went to the store.  From that day on, my friends and I bake these almost every time we get together.  They are a staple, and we can each inhale about three of them...

The best part: They're SO simple.  All you need is chocolate chip cookie dough, Oreos (I recommend double-stuffed), and brownie mix.

Get your brownie mix ready, and pre-heat your oven according to the brownie's directions.  Place your cookie dough at the bottom of your sprayed pan (or you can use parchment paper), pile on your Oreos, and pour your brownie mix on top.

cookie dough, chocolate chip, chocolate, cookies, brownies

oreos, chocolate chip, cookies, brownies

brownies, slutty brownies, the londoner, chocolate, chocolate chips

Bake according to the brownies required time (usually 40-45 minutes), remove the chocolatey goodness from the oven, and let them cool.  I repeat: LET THEM COOL.  Do not be an impatient, hangry beast and cut into these immediately.  You want them to be soft and gooey, but cutting into them first thing will make a mess, and to be honest, they taste better after a couple of hours, or even the following day!  Be patient!

And that's it.  The perfect three-layered, easy dessert that you'll never want to be without.

Have you made these yet?  Are they your favorite?  Let me know!

brownies, slutty brownies, chocolate chip, cookie dough, cookies, baking


12 May, 2015

8 Tips To Be Your Happiest Self

Managing your time can be difficult as a young adult fresh in the working world.  You find less time for your friends, yourself, and your laundry starts piling out of the hamper.  I've come to find that I am my happiest and most content when focusing on 3 things: my social (and love) life, my career, and my fitness.  Here are my Top 8 (Myspace flashback anyone?) tips to be your happiest self while tackling your daily life:
  1. Stay busy!
    When I graduated from college, I found myself with a lot of free time...too much free time.  At first, I was excited at the endless days of sleeping in, watching movies and YouTube videos until 2AM, and basking in the sun after a long workout.  These things are great, but there comes a point where you need to have some purpose.  I'm a very driven person, and I found myself becoming less and less motivated the more these days went on.  If you're a student, just graduated, or an adult still trying to figure things out (who isn't), STAY BUSY!  As most students are, I was looking for a job post-grad, but I wasn't putting all of my effort into the job search.  Put your energy into finding a job, amp up your resume, find others with common interests, and get out there and network.  The time to relax and sleep in is meant to be enjoyed - don't make it a lazy lifestyle.
  2. Know who your good friends are, and keep them close.
    Keep in touch with your best friends.  The older we get, the more spread out we become.  Jobs, different schedules, and life takeover, and that's ok.  Always make sure to make time for your friends, whether it's a weekend lunch, night out, or even just a phone call.  You'll feel better knowing that you are both there for each other and making the effort to keep in touch!
  3. Say "yes!" 
    No, I'm not hopping on the Bud Light bandwagon here.  But if an opportunity presents itself and you're interested, say yes!  If you're nervous and anxious, definitely say yes.  Be uncomfortable.  Let yourself come out of your comfort zone and branch out.  Try new things, meet new people, and say yes!  Of course, if you know an opportunity or offer is potentially dangerous or detrimental to your happiness, say no.  But don't miss out on great opportunites because you're afraid, uncomfortable, or too comfortable in your daily routine.  If you get the opportunity to travel, GO.  Make the most out of your trips and opportunities.

    Travel,flight,la,los angeles
  4. Exercise
    At least 30 minutes 3 times a week -- bare minimum.  If you're already into fitness and health, get off your butt at least 5 days a week.  Break a sweat.  Join a gym, a team, take on a yoga class, or go on a walk/run outdoors.  I find that when I take too many days away from exercise, I get very irritable and well, b*tchy.  No one likes an irritable b*tch.  When I start to feel out of whack, I think about what I have (or haven't) been doing, and it's usally a quick fix of a workout.  You'll feel so much better both inside and out, and you'll sleep better at night too.
  5. Take time for yourself
    No matter how busy you become, always remember to take time for yourself.  Go to lunch by yourself, go on a walk by yourself, or just take a long shower to be alone with your thoughts.  We become so consumed in work sometimes, and coming home after a long day often entails a list of errands and to-do lists.  Remember to take a breather and make time for yourself and your sanity!

    Madison Square Park,NYC,New York, Chelsea, Union Square
  6. Work hard
    Success doesn't fall in your lap.  Growth, promotions, raises, etc. are only achieved through some hard work.  Especially as a young adult, get out there and show what you are worth!  Motivate yourself at work and at home, and try to be your best self.  Know that putting in hard work now will pay off in the future.  You'll feel more successful just by giving something your best.
  7. Break out of your routine
    I'm a creature of habit.  I wake up early to have my coffee, eat breakfast, and do the crossword puzzle in the Houston Chronicle (yes, I'm a granny).  I usually leave work aruond the same time, go to the same gym, and have a very monotonous routine most of the time.  Day in and day out, this is great.  I love routines.  But after a while, I'll become antsy and irritable.  Breaking out of your routine and switching things up gives you something to look forward to and keeps you on your toes.  Plan a fun night out with your girlfriends, go on a short roadtrip, or buy tickets to that concert you really want to go to.
  8. Unplug
    This is by far one of my favorite and most important tips.  Get off of your phone and your computer.  Don't tuck it under your legs while you're eating dinner - Put it in the other room or turn it off.  Some of us spend ALL day on our computer, our phones, and constantly submerged in technology and communication.  We're getting live updates of what others are doing, and we can spend the entire day staring at a screen.  Give yourself at least an hour a day to completely unplug.  My rule is that when I'm eating dinner with my family, we all leave our phones on the counter, the other room, or turn them off.  Enjoy your face-to-face time with others, or just enjoy some silent time by yourself!
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