27 February 2015

Have a lovely weekend.

March is around the corner, which means Spring should be here soon! I'm 100% on board with swapping my Winter layers with lighter, brighter things!  What are you up to this weekend? We don't have anything in particular on tap, but I can't wait!


A round-up of things happening around the web:

You can rent a village in Hungary.

How to enjoy the cold.

Pack a lemon.

Expect the unexpected.

Well, this is awkward.

These look delicious.

A good reason to return to Japan.

School lunches across the globe.

I love Gigi.

Sushi towels.

Where to hide during a zombie apocalypse.


26 February 2015

Laura Geller + Birchbox Master Class

I've dabbled into the world of Laura Geller in the form of gift with purchase, but hadn't had a proper introduction to the brand until a few weeks ago. Birchbox hosted a master class for a limited number of bloggers in their SoHo brick and mortar shop.

While demonstrating a full-face natural look, the artist from Laura Geller detailed the twenty-plus year history of the brand. The two show stopper products (in my humble opinion) are the baked cosmetic line and the Spackle primers.

Primers are something that only came into my beauty regime in the past five or six years. I tend to gravitate to textures which blend easily and perform beautifully with powder -and- liquid foundations. According to the Laura Geller, Spackle spearheaded the primer industry. The formula is enhanced with Centella Asiatica, aloe and white tea to protect your skin while retaining moisture. 

The baked cosmetics are crafted from several pigments and baked over a twenty-four hour period in Italy. The variation in the pigments allows for seamless blending, soft shimmer or matte effects and the ability to contour and highlight from the same pan.

After the master class, I was ushered into a seat for a beauty touch-up. To which I requested something to make me appear luminous (it had been a long day, in many conference rooms). While the pigment was brushed over my features, a woman approached me and introduced herself as Laura. I nearly jumped into her arms with enthusiasm. She hugged me, hung up my coat when it fell from my lap and asked me about my history with her brand.

Laura is incredibly warm, genuine and committed to empowering women with beauty and education. I tend to commit to brands whose philosophy is anchored in connecting with consumers and giving back a greater need. Laura has been honored for by City of Hope for her her support of multiple cancer-focused charities.



Each blogger received a well-lipsticked tote and a Complexion Favorites deluxe sample kit ($20 value/with purchase). The kit features a travel sized brush, Spackle primer and a Baked Balance and Brighten Complexion face powder in the hue Medium.

My take-away:

Spackle under makeup primer ($30/2 oz)

I've been in the market for a new primer (I confess that I have mostly been working with samples from my previous role a beauty-focused company) and decided to snag one from of the limited quality available in the shop.  In a word: heavenly. Spackle spreads evenly, dries quickly and secures makeup smoothly into place. When I reach my last drop, I'm going to repurchase the blend which features SPF. Interim, I ensure to use a moisturizer with sun protection.

Baked Balance-N-Brighten Color Correcting foundation in Fair ($33/0.32oz)

I couldn't resist indulging in the full-sized face powder in Fair.  I'm impressed with the diversity of this pan. I love the varied pigments and felt that coupled with the deluxe sample of the Medium powder, I could achieve a balanced look with subtle highlight and contour. A light application delivers an even toned appearance which is genuinely silky. To boot, the ingredients feature the same anti-aging ingredients in the Spackle primer.

20 February 2015

Have a toasty warm weekend.

What are you up to this weekend? I'm planning to find fun things to do that involve being toasty warm. New York reached a record low temperature today. When I woke up, I checked my phone and it said 0. I slipped on my Under Armor Cool Wear Base 3.0 leggings (the ones I wear on the slopes in Vermont), chunky over the knee socks and snow boots. I bundled up Pilgrim and we set out into the chill. He was impressively (desperately?) efficient. It felt like win. We dashed back inside to make eggs, bacon & tea for breakfast.


A round-up of things happening around the web:

The Meatball Shop now delivers. My cup runneth over.

Niagra Falls is frozen.

Kickstarter is a strange, beautiful thing.

Kim Jong Un's hair.

Haruki Murakami has an advice column.

Can you pair the dog to the owner?

Upgrade your office look with these shoes.

A French beauty staple for supple skin.

Charred Cauliflower Quesadillas.

Lately, I cannot live without this.

This is huge, Pinterest.

How to wear ankle booties.

Toast chart.

The secret train platform below the Waldorf Astoria.


Fifty Shades of Grey + Makeup Forever

Ahead of the Valentines Day premier of Fifty Shades of Grey, Sephora hosted free mini-makeovers with Makeup Forever's exclusively designed Give into Me collection.

The Give into Me collection  is priced at $79 (retail value of $179) an features:

- 4 x 0.08 Artist Shadow palette in I-514, ME-612, S-556, I-625 
- 0.03 oz Graphic eyeliner 
- 0.16 oz Smoky Extravagant mascara 
- 0.12 oz Rouge Artist Natural lipstick in N4 
- 0.09 oz Lab Shine lip gloss in D14 
- Exclusive keepsake box 

 I jumped on the bandwagon, requesting the "Empowered" eye look. The makeup artist applied all four shades to my lids (the dominate colors being the darker grey all over the lid and the highlighter on my brow bones).  She vamped up my under eye with the Graphic liner and finished with the Smoky Extravagant mascara. The shadows are stunning, long lasting and the perfect marriage of neutral and smoke. The eyeliner applies as a liquid and dries rapidly. I have to admit it felt a bit itchy throughout the day. After meeting a friend for lunch, I dashed home to remove it. 

Rover Heart NYC Blogger Event

Seattle-headquartered Rover descended upon New York last week to host an intimate blogger event at Loews Regency Hotel in Midtown Manhattan. If you're not familiar with Rover, the platform connects fellow dog lovers (and other critters) to arrange care while they're traveling.

The service is customizable to every teeny tiny neurotic desire or need for your pup. Ear drops twice daily? Sleep under the covers with you? Three trips to the park daily? Daily proof of life photos with the newspaper? No problem. You can also specify if you'd like the sitter to stay in your home (background checks are done on all sitters that go in-home) or to have your fur kid go to their home. If hosts are pup parents themselves, meet & greets can be arranged to ensure all pups are copacetic with each other.

Hosts range from dog lovers that cannot have a pup in their current situation to those seeking to supplement income and even full-time sitters that make six figures annually.  Hosts set their own rates (a percentage is paid to Rover) which includes 24/7 emergency assistance and insurance.

I'm planning to become a host and possibly warming up to the idea of implementing Rover as part of of my care plan for Pilgrim when we travel.  At present,  we either take him with us or fly my father or mother out to New York to stay in our apartment. For longer trips, it gets a little more tricky. While I was in Asia, my father came for the first leg, my girlfriend flew in for the middle leg (with her Pug in tote) and my mother looked after him for the third leg of the trip. I know. It's a bit much. But the little guy is less stressed and frantic when we return and he's been in the comfort of his home. 


The fun stuff:

While enjoying glasses of champagne and nibbling on crab cakes, deviled eggs with caviar and mini lemon meringue pies, I chatted up fellow pup parent bloggers and teamed up with a handful to take on a loud game of dog-themed jeopardy. Each winning answer earned us raffle tickets. Gift cards to Bloomingdales and Bliss, a diamond necklace and local chocolates were among the prizes.

I won the gift card for Bliss spa! #jazzhands

We took home adorable "sleepover" gift bags with goodies for our pups and a few treats for the hosts. Pilgrim approved.

13 February 2015

Have lovely long weekend.

Happy Friday the 13th & Valentines weekend! It's been a lovely, chilly and productive week for me! And hopefully for you too. I'm not entirely sure what my weekend beholds (it's a surprise), but I'm excited to embrace it. In preparation, I hit-up Sephora for mini makeover with Makeup Forever's Fifty Shades of Grey collection and put the Veuve rose on ice.


A round-up of things happening around the web:

Turn your instagram photos into temporary tattoos.

Five facts about real estate in New York & San Francisco. 

North Korean slogans.

School lunches around the world. 

I'd like these ahead of my trip to Austin this Spring.

Love quotes: because it's that kind of weekend.

Quiz: What dog is best for you based on your go-to drink. I got a Pit Bull.

These look delicious!

On the past of the LES.

Romantic photos of couples kissing will pepper the walls of the subway stations tomorrow.


Birchbox + Manna Kadar Cosmetics

Birchbox teamed up with Manna Kadar to host a brand discovery event for the Birchbloggers community. We settled in with DIY bubbly cocktails, mini cupcakes from Prohibition Bakery and swapping of social media handles. 


After building a line of cosmetic shops (and deciding to sell them), Manna was hungry to build a cosmetic line with nourishing and long lasting properties. Although  Sheer Glo is arguably the ingenue of her brand, the products extend to lips, face, eyes and skin care.

Manna transformed the model into a #Mannababe  with an eye and lip look from her Star Gazing palette and Lip Locked gloss line.  The products apply with an understated, yet steadily deepening pigmentation. Manna's execution was playful, seemingly not calculated. In other words, this is a product line designed for a girl in a rush. A girl that loves to sleep in, hit the gym and only has a few minutes to get ready for work.

Manna is a true hustler. She mentioned that she arrived at the SoHo venue straight from the airport and hadn't touched her make-up since dashing to the airport from her LA home. Do the math. We're talking 10 hours between the cars, airplane and New York.  Her products were built for women like herself.  Her flawless appearance coupled with her humble nature is a powerful combination in any industry.

Cheers with Manna, A Sequin Love Affair (left) and myself (right).

The goody bag:

I spent about a month with the products before coming to this post. I wanted to get a genuine feel for performance on marathon days, windy days and slush falling from the sky days.

Star Gazing contains five neutral shades in gold, brown and rose. The high shimmer formula applies subtly, but increases pigmentation with a second swipe (above swatches are two layers of product). If you're a matte lover, this may not be your thing, but who doesn't love a little sparkle in life? Of all the combinations available on Manna's site, this is absolutely the palette  I would have chosen to invest in.

Sheer Glo ($29)
The deluxe sample we received will likely last me about 3-4 months (maybe longer). A teeny tiny amount goes far. I love blending a small dab above my cheekbones, Cupid's bow and below my brows.

Do you ever feel like every mascara claims to add tremendous volume and length? The thing is, Manna's Intense Lash actually does. In a big way.  With a 2-3 coats, lashes are as full as modest false lashes. 
Pro tip: Apply Manna's Lash Primer  to conditions lashes. The primer can also be worn alone when you go to bed as a sleeping mask for your lashes.

(From top: All of Me,  Lucky, Manna Babe)

Each blogger chose their color. I gravitated to Manna Babe, a vibrant fuchsia with subtle sparkle (bottom swatch). The formula is ridiculous. Moisturizing and long-lasting, it feels like velvet on your lips. I've fallen into a deep love with this product and purchased two more as part of an ipsy promotion.

07 February 2015

Have a cozy weekend!

Can we discuss how chilly New York felt this morning? After walking Pilgrim, I packed up my bag and headed to Financier to get a few things done and could not feel my thighs by the time I reached the Cedar location (four minutes later). I'm planning to warm-up this weekend with some sweaty yoga sessions and heading to Cha An with a gal pal for hot tea and small plates.


A round-up of things happening around the web:

Swimming with sharks.

Beauty pick of the week.

Two ingredient sandwiches.

Stunning aerial photos of NYC after dark.

A French girl's trick to getting dressed.

I have this thing with floors.

The Swedish way of saying yes.

Add these to your bucket list.

History brought to color.

Respect the elephant.

This is the best way to reheat pizza.

My steep rent increases explained.

A legacy is coming to the end.


06 February 2015

Recap: Korea

Korea has been on my bucket list for some time. My curiosity extends to daily google alerts, loyalty to the Korean bodega in my neighborhood, coveting date nights at Korean BBQ joints in Midtown and an allegiance to K Beauty products.

Our time was limited, but we managed to visit the DMZ, an amazing local market in Incheon and Jeju Island.

Propaganda houses in North Korea from the DMZ.

We joined a DMZ  tour (in parallel, I was reading The Orphan Master's Son and highly recommend it), as it seemed to be the only route to visit the Zone. Upon arrival at the entry, we were instructed to dig out our passports out and hide any cameras or phones ahead of military inspection. 

The soldier turned us away, with the explanation that our manifesto said that we had 41 people, but that there were only 40 on the bus. The tour guide patiently waited for the soldier to disembark and then explained to us that we would leave, edit the manifesto and return, "Military doesn't have a brain. They are brainwashed. It will work." And it did. We were in.

After being forced to put our cameras in locked boxes, we boarded a trolly which took us deep, deep underground. We wore helmets, which seemed silly, until I began bonking my head every 15-30 seconds, albeit crouched down while moving through the wayward  3rd Tunnel. I managed to sneak a few photos with my iPhone (view them here and here). 

Oddly, exploring the catacombs in Paris amongst over 1 million skeletons is quite a bit more pleasant than this experience. The tight, uneven surfaces, coupled with the low and inconsistent ceilings was incredibly awkward. The mind boggles when considering the process of digging these portals for several kilometers.


Women serving fresh octopus on a Jeju Island Beach.

Jeju Island was our final destination in Korea. Sleepy, yet vibrant, the volcanic archipelago quickly became one of my favorite places on Earth. Our first stop was the beach to see a Yongduam Rock which claims to be shaped like head of a dragon. I didn't really see it(!), and found myself more intrigued by the women selling fresh octopus on the beach. For generations, the Lady Divers have made a living by putting on vintage-style wet suits and hunting for octopus (we saw one surface!).


Impressions Snapshot

Although focused, there was a sense of curiosity and playfulness laced in each person I interacted with. From the DMZ tour guide (who poked fun of Kim Jong Un's morbid obesity) to the street vendors hustling oranges and beauty counter attendants. Albeit an understated and polite delivery, it was present and I loved it.

There was definitely a contrasting demeanor when the subject of reunification was mentioned.  You'd see eyes lower, as if digging in some melancholy space. It's a difficult feeling to place, but it was troubling and hopeful in one swoop.

More: See images of the Dorasan Railroad built in 2000 to travel from Seoul to Pyongang and beyond to London.

Korean women have impeccable style. The younger generation has taken a cut from the traditional Chosun's structured drape with  over sized coats and  sweaters  which billow out at the waist. Shops were abundant and popular.

The beauty scene: gasp. It's no secret why Korea women literally glow. Although I was limited it smaller markets in my travels, there were endless boutiques with more skin care products than I could imagine (they dwarfed Sephora!). I tried to be modest, but eventually came to terms with my need to splurge on the masks, sleeping packs, BB cream and a gorgeous apricot eye shadow (and some things for my gal pal that was taking care of my Pug back in NYC).

Tip: If you can't make it to Korea, a friend of mine recommended Memebox, which has a decent selection of similar K Beauty products.

On the food:
I'm a nibbler. A small plate aficionado. When I dine, I suggest sharing a handful of appetizers, which quickly secured my adoration for Korean Banchan. Along side the fish dish and octopus we ordered at one restaurant, the waiter laid out a dozen or so small, healthy plates of pickled veggies, seafood and rice.

 The seafood was impossibly fresh and delicious. Due to the language barrier, we accidentally ordered much more soju than we realized. As it turned out, it was a blessing in disguise. We needed it to build up the courage to try the shredded octopus, which was fresher than anticipated:

Chewy and marinated in sesame oil, the one tentacle I managed to get down (while wondering if it would be offensive to ask the chef to steam it) grabbed at my chopsticks and...the inside of my cheek. I could feel it crawling up my throat for the rest of the night.

Now enjoy South Korean girls reacting to American snacks:

05 February 2015

One Hundred Years of Beauty in One Minute

I can barely entertain the idea of doing more with my hair than massaging a drop of oil (Caudalie Divine Oil Ornament 15ml and Bio-Ionic Agave Healing Oil Treatment, 4.0 fl. oz. are my go-to brands) and add a few sprays of Oribe Dry Texturing Hair Spray, 8.5 Ounce at my roots for a tousle of sexy volume. I suppose this is effectively shown to be quite normal according to the styling in the 2010 portion of the video, no? I definitely spent quite a bit of time with my straightener  in college during the 2000s. The transformations by by decade are mesmerizing. View the original cuts herehere, respectively.