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Shower tip: Try Dry Brushing!

Dry brushing has changed my winter skin life, thanks to Joanna Vargas! So many benefits to just an easy step to add before you shower.

My Dry Brushing essentials

This method exfoliates, helps eliminate cellulite, improves elasticity, and stimulates your lymphatic system. Many naturopathic doctors even use dry brushing to help with bloating since massaging the lymph nodes helps the body shed excess water and toxins. One of the immediate effects, they say, is that it can even help improve digestion, kidney function. And all you need is a $5 brush from the store.

Before jumping in the shower, grab a coarse, dry bristle brush (like the one here) and starting with the feet, brush up on dry skin. Do the same with arms, always towards the heart. In the shower, use an exfoliating wash like Suave’s Sea Mineral Infusion Exfoliating Wash, and end with a lotion (I love their spray lotion since I’m always on the go and it’s faster). You’ll notice your skin is MUCH brighter right away, and so much smoother in two weeks. Try it and let me know what you think!

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Wooden inspirations + watch giveaway from Jord

I’m a minimalist when it comes to accessorizing. A few wood-based pieces, though, prove to sleek up a wardrobe (or your bathroom — recyclable toothbrush, anyone?):

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I was just recently introduced to a couple of brands. Woodzee has a feel-good ethos: through their Our World Program, they team up with organizations to help protect the environment, plant trees, save animals, and the world basically. When you check out, you have a choice of what continent you’d like to contribute to, and Woodzee will donate a portion of the profit to an non-profit organization. Their products are also made from renewable resources and can be sent back to them to be recycled or re-used.

Close up of Woodzee sunglasses

My minimal accessorizing makes me rely mostly on a statement watch to overcompensate. I was recently introduced to Jord watches, who specialize in making beautiful wooden watches, like this cherry wood/mother of pearl face watch from their Sidney series.

Jord Sidney watch

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8 Skin Saving Winter Warriors

We’re basically walking around in the Arctic here in NYC. I think my eardrum froze yesterday. It’s bad. I’ve been loading up on these moisturizers though, so although I’m partially deaf and afraid that even my soul is frozen, at least you can’t tell on my skin.

Winter time saviors


1) Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream, $15 – This is like a tall glass of water for your skin. Almost literally, though: this is a water-based gel that’s super lightweight and not sticky. Plus it has skin-plumping hyaluronic acid that gives moisture back to the skin. The olive extract helps protect the skin from moisture loss. It basically locks moisture in your skin. It’s a great first-thing-in-the-morning moisturizer.

2) Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream, $17 – I think I’ve sang my praises for this to all my friends by now. And I always say the same thing: the medicinal scent is not for everyone (I personally hate it) BUT. BUT. This is the best moisturizer I’ve found for my skin, hands-down. That’s why it’s always in my bag. Before flights, before bed, under my eyes, on my lips, elbows, everywhere. If my skin is ever acting up, I apply this before bed, and my skin is so much softer in the morning. It’s a thicker, gel-based cream that is a tad greasy, and glycerin-ey, but it hydrates my skin like no other.

3) Dove Quench Absolute Shampoo and Conditioner, $7 each – Sooo this is specially formulated for the curly haired — therefore not me, my hair is wavy — but that didn’t stop me from stealing a page from their book. The line is so nourishing for dried out locks, and it smells beautiful — like coconut and happiness.

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10 products you need for Valentine’s Day

Because better last minute than never :) . Instead of making a guide full of red lipsticks you can wear tomorrow (speaking of, this Tarte balm is so much muchier), I put together a round up of some of my favorite things for date night and beyond. Check em out:

A few of my favorite things

1) Fekkai Hair Fragrance Mist in Rose Fraiche, $19.99 – Fekkai is one a step ahead of the game in launching fragrance specifically for hair that not only adds a beautiful scent but also shine (and half the cost of a luxe perfume). The scent is influenced by their own Technician Color Care line. It has a light alcohol scent (not was I was hoping at first) but the notes blossom as it settles in. Also comes in Creme Vanillee with notes of vanilla, and sandalwood. ALSO comes in handy when this happens:

Best IG ever

2) So Susan Universal Blush, $27.99 – A co-worker of mine picked this up for me at a beauty sale and I didn’t recognize the brand, and that it would be the same ol’ bright blush. That is until I tried it, and this is so much more fun. It’s actually been my go-to lately since it’s so pigmented and gives off the prettiest pop of pink (thanks to its pink tinted kaolin clay) that also gives off a gorgeous (not sparkly) sheen. The color accentuates cheekbones and flattering on all skin tones (I can say it passed the medium skin-tone test). It’s also infused with skin loving ingredients like buriti, an Amazonian fruit rich in beta-carotene and essential fatty acids.

Without contacts, and with Define contacts (right side)

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Stonefire Naan recipes: Avocado-Tahini spread with veggies, Rosemary Brie flatbreads, & roasted pepper mint dip!

Veggie flatbreads and dips!

Wow, that was a mouthful. Literally though, as I’ll explain in just a minute :) . This weekend, my friend Shazeen and I went to town experimenting some fun ways you can dress up Stonefire’s delicious flatbreads, not to mention a fun dip to accompany their pita chips with.

Stonefire Naans line of breads and pita chips

Since my mom is the greatest and most innovative chef I know (seriously, she’s never shies away from veering off from the traditional ingredients to start new ones of her own), I asked her for her thoughts and she came up with the idea of trying an avocado-tahini spread and “make the toppings colorful.” Which was sage advice — the avocado-tahini spread tastes a little nutty, which complimented the toppings. The garlic in  Stoneware’s naan ended itself nicely to the finished product. We started off with that one idea but talking more, it blossomed into two,  and then three recipes which were as follows:

Stonefire naan veggie recipe



FRIED VEGGIES OVER AVOCADO TAHINI SPREAD SPREAD


Ingredients (enough for two Stonefire Naan)
:
1 pack of Stonefire garlic naan (comes with 2 naans)
SPREAD:
1 Avocado
2 tbs of Tahini
1/2 lime (or you can use lemon, which we wanted to do originally but only had lime at home)
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt

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Recipe: Beef burger with parmesan crisp, caramelized onions & mushrooms

I was recently inspired by having lunch at Umami Burger, whose namesake burger uses parmesan crisp, to make my own for when I grill burgers at home. I totally experimented with this and it turned out delicious and is pretty easy to make.

Parmesan crisp beef burger

Start by pre-heating the oven to 400 degrees, which you’ll use to make the parmesan crisp.

THE BURGER
:
I seasoned two 5.3 oz Honest Chops Short Rib Brisket Burgers with salt, pepper, thyme, and Italian seasoning, and grilled it using my T-Fal Opti Grill.


TOPPINGS
:
I heated up a tbsp of coconut oil over the stove, and cooked half a red onion (sliced). Remove and set aside, and then added sliced mushrooms and let that caramelize (you only need three sliced white mushrooms for two burgers). Afterwards I combined the onion and mushroom in one bowl and lightly sprinkled a little more pepper over the mixture.

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Green smoothie experiment using Del Monte Pure Earth Juice

This was an easy task to get me on board with: Make a recipe using Del Monte Fresh Juices which uses Del Monte Gold pineapples handpicked from farms in Costa Rica. We had pineapples and fresh fruit every single day during our stay in Costa Rica, so just hearing that made me miss the place.

Hence, it was with open arms I welcomed a package of new juices from Del Monte to get me back to making my breakfast smoothies. Usually I’ve been having just black coffee, but yesterday I started the day experimenting with a couple different ingredients which was a nice change in routine for me.
There are so many different kinds of concoctions you can come with using Del Monte’s juice as a base (it comes in pineapple-lime as I mentioned as well aspineapple-banana-coconut, pineapple-blueberry-blackberry, and 100% pineapple seen below!):

Del Monte Fresh Juice range

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Katy Perry’s Super Bowl XLIX Makeup Breakdown

It can’t be easy to do a makeup look for one of the biggest celebrities on one of the biggest night’s for sports, but Jake Bailey, Katy Perry’s makeup artist managed to make her look flawless. I got the inside scoop on all the products he used for her fierce performance. “I needed to create a strong look that would complement all of her outfits, as there was absolutely no time for a touch up in between the quick changes,” he said. “It’s the Super Bowl after all!”

CoverGirl makeup artist breaks down Katy Perry's makeup look for the Super Bowl Halftime Show


“I decided to go with a classic Katy look — elongated cat eyes, lots of mascara, super sparkly gold and silver glitter, and a bold red lip for glamour and showmanship. I wanted her to glow and sparkle for her big moment,” Bailey said. He created it in nine steps:

1. To create a sheer and flawless canvas I began by buffing a dime size amount of CoverGirl Outlast 3-in-1 Foundation in Natural Beige all over her face and neck.

2. For an elongated cat eye I used CoverGirl Perfect Point Plus Eyeliner in Black Onyx and painted a glitter adhesive just above the black liner and carefully placed a mix of gold and silver glitter on the adhesive with a tiny eyeliner brush for precision.

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Try this: Aztec Secret Clay Mask

In more than a few instances, I kept coming across Aztec Secret’s Indian Healing Clay Mask either in the stories I’ve had to edit or other bloggers’ recommendation. I was finally curious enough to go to Whole Foods and pick some up with some apple cider vinegar and try it myself.

Weekly DIY clay mask


The mask itself is a natural calcium bentonite green clay which helps detox and draw out impurities in the skin. When mixed with organic apple cider vinegar (I use this one from Brragg which is raw and unfiltered), it becomes even more powerful. The vinegar has a bunch of alpha hydroxy acids that help to remove dead skin cells to make your complexion more even (it’s great alone to help treat zits and age spots, and even add a ton of shine if used on hair alone).

The mask itself tingles a little and then tightens, and PS, smells DISGUSTING. I mix a teaspoon with a capful of ACV (the mixture should bubble a little), or until the consistency is a little more pastey. If it’s too watery, it won’t go on well, and will take forever to dry. If it’s too solid, it won’t spread well. After you wash it off (about 10 minutes), you might notice your skin a little pink which goes down after a few minutes (make sure you use a gentle moisturizer after! I use Philosophy Renewed Hope In A Jar). You might notice a few whiteheads too, which is just the toxins being extracted. I’m not sure how sensi-skin types would react to it since it isn’t the most gentle mask, but it is a nice pick-me-up for my combo skin that I use on the weekends or before big events so my makeup goes on smoother. Plus it’s really affordable — I got mine from Whole Foods for $8 (think the ACV was another $7) and a pound will last you for months and months.

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Dough Loco in East Harlem

After moving to my new ‘hood a few months ago, last weekend was the first time I actually explored some of the food in the area. I haven’t as much ordered from Seamless or even eaten out since my move, taking full advantage of a new cooking space situation. But the good thing of having friends who live near you and have already gotten the lay of the land is sometimes, they take you with. And so my friend Shazeen introduced me to Dough Loco, a small doughnut joint a hop and skip away from my apartment.

Dough Loco


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I’ve never really been a doughnut person, but as NYC imposes its likings upon you, as it had done to me with cupcakes previously, I can’t say I hate them either. And hate is also as far as it can go with Dough Loco. I guess I’m trying to overcome my denial and say, this place is awesome.

When we walked into the small space I was on the phone, so I didn’t pay full attention to all the flavors but quickly pointed to the Blueberry on Bluberry doughnut topped with little crunchies which Shazeen picked up for me, and got a Raspberry Siracha doughnut for herself. The doughnuts are made fresh, and who knew a combo like raspberry siracha would work, but it tastes exactly what it is, and it just does.

To go


Raspberry siracha and bluberry Dough Loco doughnuts


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