Adventures in depotting makeup

I consider myself a fairly low-maintenance gal when it comes to makeup. I keep my makeup choices muted or neutral, usually opting for an enhanced, polished fresh face with the occasional smokey eye thrown in for a night out. Over the years, I’ve amassed a small collection of makeup palettes because they are a no-brainer way to pair complementary colors and also great to travel with. The downside is that I’ve eschewed buying single shadows, and when it comes time to get ready at home, I become overwhelmed by the choices and fall back to the same palette.

I have only recently heard of depotting makeup and thought it might be a great option for me to be able to see at a glance most of the shadows I own. I’m also on a de-cluttering kick and the thought of getting rid of all those sized palettes was so appealing. After a ton of research and some failed DIY, I’m sharing my tips and tricks below.

* You will need: A box cutter (I tried using a small kitchen knife, and after breaking the tip of my J. Henckels paring knife, decided a box cutter was a better choice), rubbing alcohol, a dropper (last used to administer oral meds to the pup), empty palettes, patience.

* Deciding what to depot: I wish I had taken some before pics of all my palettes. I had a few Clinique palettes (acquired during Clinique bonus time), two Laura Mercier palettes, a Benefit palette, a Bobbi Brown palette, and a Nars palette. The only one I hesitated to depot was my Nars 15th anniversary Love palette, but ended up doing so towards the end of my depotting frenzy. I did NOT depot my Urban Decay Naked palette or Laura Mercier Master Toolbox, because I preferred to keep those colors together.

* Doing the deed: There are countless Youtube videos explaining how to depot MAC shadows, but curiously, I found few on Nars and none on any other makeup brands. So I basically figured it out on my own. Several sources will tell you to use some heat source (like a flat iron, hairdryer, or oven) in order to melt the glue holding the pans to the plastic palette portions. Frankly, the thought of breathing in plastic fumes terrified me, so I opted for the alcohol route. No, that doesn’t involve enjoying a cocktail while making a night of depotting (although this may have occurred at some point over this two-weekend project). First, I used the blade of a box cutter to see if the pan would easily pop out on its own (a few did, since they had very little glue attached). If the pan did not easily come out, I used the dropper to drop rubbing alcohol around the perimeter of each pan. After a few minutes and using the box cutter, I carefully wedged the blade between the pan and pot (there is usually an open space on one side or corner that you can get into) and used leverage to slowly pop it out. In most cases, this worked well, and I was able to remove leftover glue by generously placing a few drops of alcohol on the underside of each pan, and scraping off the leftover glue after a few minutes. A few of my shadows cracked even after removing them gently, so I followed this general repair tutorial and it seemed to work well. Laura Mercier palettes were the easiest to depot. Nars was a bit more difficult, and Clinique and Benefit was the most difficult (they use a TON of glue and a few of my pans got bent or cracked upon removal).

* Organizing your pans: Once I had depotted most of the makeup from the palettes, I had to organize the pans. I turned to Z Palettes for a few relatively cheap empty palettes. The bottom of each palette is magnetized, and most metal makeup pans will automatically stick. I still need to purchase some magnet paper for the few pant that did not stick at all. I ordered my empty palettes from beauty.com with a discount code, and through double cashback on ebates. I’m pretty happy with them so far…love that you can see through the clear top and although they are cardboard, the construction is sturdy and the size is great.

* Travel: I had originally wanted to retain my empty Nars palette as a travel option to house my pots, going so far as to buy magnet paint for the interior. Alas, none of my pots will stick to the bottom, and I am stuck with a full jar of magnet paint! I am hoping that some magnet paper will fix this, but if not, I plan to buy a Unii Palette for travel. I did buy a small size Z Palette for weekend trips, which you see in the picture collage…you can also see a sample of what I might take with me on a weekend trip (Nars Powder Foundation, Laura Mercier blush, Clinique shadows, Bobbi Brown lipstick). For the bigger Unii palette, I would probably store a few travel-sized Laura Mercier brushes right inside the palette.

I consolidated my depotted pans in 3 large-sized Z palettes. In the pic collage, you can see that the top left palette contains my neutral shadows (browns & greys), the top right palette contains my pink and purplish shadows and lip products, and the bottom palette contains my blushes, bronzers, and Nars powder foundation. This arrangement has already simplified my makeup application, and I know it will be perfect for travel!

Long Island (North Fork) Wine Tour

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The North Fork of Long Island has developed a fairly extensive network of wineries and vineyards over the last decade or so. Our first encounter with Long Island’s wine country was to attend a wedding held at Bedell Cellars, a lovely winery tucked away in Cutchogue. We were amazed at how peaceful and beautiful it was up in that area, so when a friend moved to Long Island for grad school, we figured it was the perfect opportunity to organize a day of wine tasting for 3 couples. A few tips and our schedule for the day:

*Transportation:  Obviously driving around was not an option for any of us, so we opted for a car service. We only started planning about a week beforehand in June (summers are generally busy on the North Fork), and had some difficulty reserving a driver. We ended up booking with All Star Limo at a reasonable rate that cost each couple around $200. The cost was billed on an hourly basis, with a minimum of 5 hours, and they were a pleasure to work with. Our contact was super responsive and helpful in suggesting winery stops and making our reservations, and our driver was polite and pleasant. Some companies will charge a flat rate for the day, others charge by the hour, so it helps to get a few quotes if you are planning in advance.

*Choosing the wineries: Yelp is your best friend when it comes to picking which wineries to visit. We also had a few recommendations from friends. Most of the wineries will require a reservation if you are arriving in a limo or bus, so it makes sense to do a bit of legwork and map out your itinerary. The LI-based limo companies have ‘events’/’wine tour’ coordinators who can make your reservations. Some wineries are quiet and laidback, while others have…I kid you not…DJs and tents set up for wine-fueled debauchery. It definitely helps to read the reviews and find the places that you would most enjoy. You should also plan on visiting no more than 3-4 wineries, which will allow enough time to relax at each stop and pace yourselves.  All wineries charge for tastings, and you may want to plan to split a bottle with your group to enjoy at each stop or with your lunch.

*The wine: First off, you should be under no delusions that you’ll be sipping Napa-caliber vino. That being said, there are better choices than others. Again, the Yelp reviews really helped us narrow down our picks, and going in with an open mind and palate was key.

*Picnic lunch: We had packed a picnic lunch to enjoy at our second stop, where we knew outside food was allowed. If the weather cooperates, you could even bring picnic blankets and spread out right in front of the vineyards. We ate: a variety of cheese and crackers, a roasted edamame salad, antipasto chicken sandwiches, grilled veggie & hummus wraps, mixed fruit, Dulce de Leche blondies (adapted from this recipe), and cocoa brownies.

*Our Itinerary for the Day: Since one couple lives out in Huntington, four of us traveled from Penn Station to Huntington via LIRR. The car and driver arrived early in Huntington, and from there, it was about 1 hour to our first stop. In the future, we may just opt to ride out further on the LIRR in order to save time on the car service. In fact, some companies will only do pickups close to the North Fork.

We planned to visit Macari Vineyards at 11pm, Laurel Lake at 12pm, and Pindar Vineyards at 2pm. Macari was our best stop in terms of wine quality…we especially liked the Early Wine and the Rose. We visited Macari’s smaller and newer second location, which was intimate and quiet. In contrast, our second stop at Laurel Lake felt like a party. The crowds were large, with many bachelorette parties and large groups around us. There was some live entertainment as well. We were less than impressed with any of the wine choices, and chose to pack it up early to spend the rest of our day at Pindar. Pindar was lovely…large enough for our group that had become a bit *ahem* boisterous by that time. We chose to eat in the large covered gazebo behind the main house, overlooking the vineyard.

We had dinner on the main street back in Huntington before stumbling onto the LIRR to head home. Overall, we had a fun day that was fairly seamless from start to finish. If you are looking for a full-day activity for a small group, or even a weekend getaway (there are tons of small inns and B&Bs in the North Fork, and the Tanger Outlets), the North Fork would be a great choice!

Summer makeup 2012

I left off giving you my new and improved skincare regimen for spring/summer 2012. It’s only logical that I follow with my summer makeup! I hesitate to say routine or regimen here, since I don’t regularly wear makeup, but these products together give me a fresh look that’s polished, but not too ‘made up.’ Also, I don’t usually wear all of the products at once, unless it’s for a night out. Usually, I’ll just go with the base, a bit of spot concealing, blush + bronzer, brows, and a random lip gloss or balm.

The product list:

The breakdown:

  1. Base:  I mainly bought the Nars Tinted Moisturizer because I needed a darker shade to mix in with my currently too-light bases. For the record, I fall squarely between Cuba and St. Moritz. Depending on my coverage needs for the day, I’ll mix Cuba with a variety of other bases. So, going from light, sheer coverage to more full coverage, I’ll mix the Nars TM with: Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisturizer, Tarte TM in Agent 14, Laura Mercier Oil-Free TM in Almond, or Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation in 6.5. *Sidenote: I like applying my colored bases with the Sephora Stippling Brush (at home) or a flat-top retractable Kabuki brush (for travel).
  2. Concealer: Thanks to my skin finally clearing up, I find I need minimal concealer on top of my base. I picked up Revlon’s PhotoReady Concealer, which is creamy and perfect for underneath the eye.
  3. Bronzer: I’ve got medium-dark skin, so I thought I never really had a use for bronzer. Then I found Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Bronzing Powder, which is a shade or two deeper than my own skin and matte. It’s wonderful and gives my skin dimension and a sun-kissed look. I lightly dust it on my forehead, beneath the cheekbones, and underneath the neck.
  4. Blush: I finally mastered how to use the Nars Multiple in G-Spot, which is that it’s really only good for cheek color and maybe a lip stain in a pinch. It’s a dusty rose flecked with very fine gold – super subtle. I pick some up on my finger, and apply it in light circles over the apples of my cheeks, blending up. It’s very buildable, just remember to use a light touch!
  5. Eyes: I’ve gone back to the Maybelline Full n’Soft mascara in Very Black that I used throughout most of college. Never clumps, builds volume without much length, never flakes or irritates my eyes while wearing contacts. As for color, for daytime or a very casual evening, I’ve discovered Milani Shadow Eyez in Champagne Toast. Ridiculous spelling aside, this stuff is magical for giving you a bright and awake look. I always use a bit of primer before applying (Laura Mercier’s face primer). Dot it on near the lashline and quickly blend all over the eyelid with your finger. For a deeper look, Maybelline’s Color Tattoo Eye Shadow in Bad to the Bronze is wonderful, no primer needed. I apply both shadows with my ring finger.
  6. Brows: My left eyebrow has been wonky since I first discovered the wonders of a tweezer for my thick brows. Those clear gels or hairspray on a clean brush never quite worked. The Anastasia Brow Fix pencil is as close a solution as I’ve ever found. I dab a bit directly on my brows and brush straight up with a clean brow brush.
  7. Finishing Powder: I feel strange even calling this Tarte smooth operator powder a finishing powder, because I often dust it on when I am sans-makeup. It gives a wonderful finish to your face after makeup, but is also great for absorbing oil and freshening up. I apply with a mini kabuki brush from EcoTools.
  8. Lips: If it’s not plain old Rosebud Salve, it’s either NYX lip gloss in Beige or my new favorite bright color, J Crew’s Poppy King lipstick. If you can find it, hoard it, because I’m not sure it’s being made anymore. It’s a coral-red color that is so buildable and wonderful for my dark, yellow-based skin. I’ve applied this as a stain with my fingers, as a full-on opaque color straight from the tube, or layered underneath a clear gloss, and every single time I get compliments. Short of finding this in-store, I’ve read that Revlon”s Lip Butter in Candy Apple is a close dupe.

Summer skincare 2012

In the last few months, I’ve overhauled my entire skincare regimen and thought my experience might help others. I started to notice small hard bumps on my cheeks and other random acne, and after a visit with a new dermatologist, discovered I had developed milia (tiny non-inflamed bumps that form from dead skin cells). The rich Estee Lauder and Clarins moisturizers I had been dutifully slathering across my face and neck were, in fact, too rich for my (in the words of my derm) “non-mature, young skin” (bless her)!

I’ve been on this new regimen for 2 months now and have noticed a substantial difference. My skin is much clearer, and the milia are starting to slowly subside (as an aside, there are only 2 ways to deal with milia – letting them clear up over time or letting a derm break the surface and suction the crap out for several hundred bucks). The dark spots on my cheeks are fading and I am starting to feel glowy and confident about leaving the house sans-makeup again.

Here is the complete product list, followed by a breakdown of reviews:

  1. Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cleanser: This is a wonderful, basic cleanser that is creamy, yet gentle and effective. A little goes a long way…all you need is a dime-size amount to create a nice lather. One tube will last many months.
  2. Vivite Daily Facial Cleanser: This was given to me by the derm, and it is powerful stuff (15% glycolic acid). I found that using it twice a day was too drying, and my face felt too sensitive when I would use it at night along with the acne medication. It is a very creamy cleanser (almost lotion-like), so I mix it with the Kiehl’s to get that lather I love and a squeaky clean (but not dry, never dry) feeling.
  3. Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser: I raved about it here. It’s basic, easily found, cheap, and works amazingly well at removing makeup (esp. when used with a Clarisonic).
  4. Clarisonic: I have been using this about 3 times a week over the summer, and it’s done wonders for keeping my skin glowy and flake-free as it adapts to the Ziana. I find that in the warmer months, my skin can handle more frequent uses.
  5. Salma Hayek Walnut Facial Scrub: I use this scrub all over my face about 1-2 times per week. Even though my skin is delicate and sensitive, it can handle this scrub, and I credit this and the Clarisonic with helping exfoliate away my milia. It’s only available at CVS, but you can always find coupons! I find this especially useful when I plan to wear makeup for a day or night out…it helps everything glide on and look dewy in a non-oily way.
  6. Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture for Sensitive Skin: I bought this on a whim, fed up with spending $40+ on department store moisturizers that I hated but was too lazy to return. This has never irritated my skin and is nicely, but not overly, moisturizing. It might not be enough for the winter months, but so far, it’s great.
  7. Cerave cream: Another one I’ve raved about, and the only rec that stuck from my past derm. This is gentle, yet heavy, so I tend to just dab it on dry spots after the Ziana. For travel, I store a bit in an old Clinique sample eye cream jar, and use it for nighttime moisture as well as an eye cream.
  8. Clinique Repairwear Intensive Eye Cream: Reviewed here and so happy with it still. The first and only eye cream to have never irritated my skin. Hooray!
  9. Neutrogena Ultra-Sheer Daily Liquid Sunblock: No matter the season, a sunblock alone is never enough moisture for my skin. I’ve found that combing a few drops of this with the Oil-Free moisturizer creates the perfect base for summer, and my skin has neither burned nor gotten much darker since I’ve been using this combination. The bottle is teeny, yet holds a good amount and seals shut nicely, making it perfect for travel or a day at the beach.
  10. Ziana: This replaced my beloved Differin. It’s tretinoin (a touch stronger than Differin) plus Clindamycin (antibacterial). My skin transitioned quite well, and after 2 months, I’ve had noticeable skin clearing and fading of scars and dark marks. It was a pain to obtain this through my insurance, so hopefully others might have better luck.

That’s my skincare in a nutshell! Funny that as a I get older, I find myself going back to the tried-and-true drugstore brands for most of my skincare needs. Up next – my summer makeup!

Pizza date in Brooklyn

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Husband happened to be home one weekday (just before our vacation to Bermuda, which I must blog about soon) and we decided to finally have dinner at Lucali’s, which is a short walk from our apartment. While people may rave about the pizza at Grimaldi’s, we’ve never bothered to brave the lines, and I’ve heard that it doesn’t hold a candle to Lucali’s. Being the East Coast born and bred pizza lover I am, I was super excited to try what many call the best pizza in Brooklyn. 

We arrived just after opening, at 6pm (we had a very early flight the next morning) and though we were seated right away, the place quickly filled up. It is quite small, with half of the interior taken by the brick oven and pizza station. There is no menu – they only do pizzas (one size) and calzones (small and large), and the range of toppings changes daily. It’s BYOB, but there is a ‘corkage’ fee (even if you bring beer). As for the pizza – I am not exaggerating when I say it’s in the top 3 pies I’ve ever eaten in my life. It’s that good. The sauce tastes fresh – of slightly sweet tomatoes. The crust is thin, but crunchy and supportive of the toppings. We chose mushrooms and onions, and everything was sliced thin and cooked perfectly, with the onions almost caramelized in the cheese. The owner came around to us twice for a quick chat and to check up on us. 

If you can, I suggest visiting on a weekday, as I’m sure the wait will be ridiculously long on weekends (or you can put your name down and have drinks at one of the nearby bars). The wait, however, is worth it for the amazing pizza and friendly, neighborhood feel of the place. 

If you have room, make your final stop the Farmacy (a few block north on Henry Street). Sit at the bar and split a chocolate egg cream and toffee sundae. You may have to rolled home, but what a great way to end the evening!

Slipper-style loafers

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I’ll be the first to admit that when I spotted slipper-style loafers around the city, I didn’t care for them, preferring the more dainty look of a classic ballet flat. But then I came across these Cole Haan Air Morgan slippers, and I’m kind of obsessed. I love the Nike Air technology embedded into Cole Haan shoes – I have a pair of pumps and a pair of ballet flats that I could easily wear for hours. The Air Morgans come in fun bright colors, perfect for spring/summer, and have a slightly more feminine cut than other similar styles I’ve seen. I’m totally digging the pink or the blue, both of which have fun contrasting trims. 

Cole Haan Air Morgan Ballet Slipper ($168)

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recipe: somewhat skinny slow cooker pulled pork

Let’s be honest – a pulled pork recipe with even the best intentions isn’t completely ‘skinny.’ But this recipe is not among the worst, and is so easy that even a non-cook can do it. I’ve made this a few times and it lasts me through the week…I enjoy pulled pork on salads, between bread, or stuffed into pitas. It literally takes 15-20 minutes of prep time, and 8 hours of cook time in the slow cooker. And it’s a cheap meal…I recently paid $12 for a 3-lb pork loin, which gave me about 6 different meals!

Pulled pork recipe adapted from Skinny Chef:

Ingredients:  *Cooking Spray, *3-5 lb. pork loin, *Kosher salt, *1 T olive oil, *2 large sweet onions (thinly sliced), *2 cloves garlic (crushed), *12-oz. beer (I used Amstel Light), *1 bay leaf, 1 14-oz bottle BBQ sauce (I love TJ’s Kansas City-style sauce), *1/4 t ground cloves

Directions: (1) Cut pork loin if necessary so it will fit completely in the slow cooker. I have a 5-quart Cuisinart. Salt both sides. Pre-heat a skillet over high heat and brown each side of the pork for about 5-6 minutes per side. Transfer pork to slow cooker. (2) Lower heat to medium-low and add olive oil and sliced onions. Cook until they begin to soften and lightly brown, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Transfer onions and garlic to slow cooker. (3) Pour half the beer into the skillet and scrape the bottom. Pour into slow cooker and also add remaining ingredients into slow cooker. (4) Cover and cook 8 hours on low. (5) When finished, remove pork from slow cooker and scrape off extra fat from surface. Discard fat. Using 2 forks, pull meat apart. Remove onions from the slow cooker mixture – they will be brown and sweet and lovely. Layer pulled pork with onions in a food container. I like to add a few spoonfuls of the leftover liquid from the slow cooker to the pork and discard the rest.

*I guesstimate this at about 6 WW P+ per 1/2 to 3/4 cup. That’s a conservative estimate…don’t forget to add 1 P+ for each tablespoon of BBQ sauce!

review: Bumble & Bumble Tonic Lotion

Bumble & Bumble Tonic Lotion 8 oz. $20

I’ve only known apartment living for most of my adult life and while being sandwiched between neighbors has its advantages, the toll that radiant heating has on my skin in the winter is not one of them. Every year it gets worse, as I get older, and this year I added ‘itchy, flaky scalp’ to the growing list of beauty woes. I wash my hair about 4 times per week, which is probably 2-3 more times than I should, but I just can’t forgo a good shower after a spin class or interval run at the gym.

I’ve used the Target dupe of Neutrogena’s T-Gel shampoo for years to keep my scalp clean and nourished, but it’s too drying to use regularly. So when I read about this B&B Tonic Lotion in a magazine, I was immediately intrigued, since the main ingredient is tea tree oil, which I suspected would be perfect for my scalp.

B&B sells this product as a post-shower treatment, to nourish, detangle, and prep hair for other products before styling. It can even be used as a leave-in conditioner. For me, it’s all wrong on dry hair…turning it greasy and flat. Where it shines is on soaking wet hair. After I towel dry, I spray this fairly liberally close to my root, lifting my hair all around as I do, and follow with a gentle comb-through using a wide-tooth comb.

It tingles and feels invigorating, but the best part is that it really helps control the itchiness and flaking! My hair seems to take other products better as well – especially when I heat style. I’ve been using it for a few weeks now and it’s still very full, telling me one bottle should last quite some time. I don’t love a lot of B&B hair products, but this is definitely one that will have a permanent place in the bathroom!

how to: serve a relaxing brunch for 4

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My parents decided fairly last-minute that they were going to stop by for Saturday brunch last weekend. They aren’t usually the type to do this (no secret where I get my anal-retentive need to plan in advance), and certainly not the types to relinquish control of the cooking to me.

I did a bit of quick research, and came up with a game plan. SmittenKitchen has a pretty great overview for how to prepare and serve brunch without stressing, so I worked from that. My parents are fairly healthy eaters, and keep their sugar intake pretty low. I wanted to have a hearty main dish, whole-wheat, not-too-sweet baked goods, and finish with yogurt/granola/fruit bowls. I prepped most of the dishes the night before, and gave myself about 2 hours before their arrival to finish up (this included having coffee while waiting for things to heat up in the oven, very low stress). Alas, I forgot to take any pics, so the original website pics (and a stand-in for home fries) will have to do.

The Menu (I’m linking up to the recipes, and noting my changes/substitutions)

(1) Spinach & Cheese Strata –> [Used a multigrain baguette from TJ's. Subbed half the eggs for EggBeaters, and used skim milk. Added 15 minutes to the overall baking time.]

(2) Whole Wheat Muffins –> [Used 1.5 cups spelt flour, 0.5 cups all-purpose. Subbed 1 cup lowfat buttermilk in place of sour cream. Served with homemade Cinnamon Honey Butter made using Earth Balance.] Arrange on tray.

(3) Banana Bread Scones –> [Used 2 cups white whole wheat flour, 0.5 cups spelt flour. Subbed 0.5 cup lowfat buttermilk for yogurt. Added the optional walnuts.] Arrange on tray with muffins.

(4) Oven-Roasted Home Fries (my own recipe) –> Small dice 1 bag of potatoes (I think I bought Yukon Gold from TJs). Sprinkle liberally with salt and grill seasoning (or simply salt + pepper). Toss with about 3-4 T olive oil. Spread evenly onto baking sheet, cook at 375-400 degrees for 45-60 minutes, occasionally tossing.

(5) Olive Oil Granola –> [Subbed 1 cup chopped almonds for coconut chips. This recipe is very forgiving, as long as you stick with the proportions of add-ins and the spice/sugar/oil combination. It's wonderful with dried cranberries, cherries, or golden raisins.] Store and serve from mason jars.

(7) Beverages –> Cappuccinos (made using my stovetop Moka pot), Orange Juice, Freshly brewed coffee

The Timing:

The great thing about an egg strata is that you must make it the day before you plan to serve. I made this on Friday afternoon in a 1.5 quart baking dish, and stored it covered in the fridge. Also made the banana scones on Friday evening – shaped them on a silpat-lined baking sheet, flash froze, cut into 9 pieces, covered with plastic wrap and stored in freezer. I made the granola on Friday afternoon as well.

On Saturday morning, our coffee pot was set to brew a massive pot of coffee as soon as the alarm went off. First, I took out the strata to let it sit on the kitchen counter for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, I prepped and baked the muffins. Once these were done, I started cooking the strata. Meanwhile, I diced the potatoes and arranged them on a baking sheet. I popped these into the oven before the strata was done, and continued baking them through the scones (which went in after the strata was finished). There was a bit of planning beforehand to negotiate the cooking times and various temperatures, but luckily, everything (even the muffins and scones) was very forgiving regarding cooking time and temp.

I asked my parents to bring diced fruit (they always make the best assortment), and they arrived just as the scones were finished. This would be a great brunch for a small group, and is hearty enough to stand up to the addition of booze (mimosas or bloody marys). Everything was a big hit and the morning was a success! I was glad that I was able to make a great meal for my parents while they relaxed and enjoyed the morning at our apartment.

review: Loreal Nail Polish

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I spotted these Loreal polishes at my CVS, they were doing a BOGO deal, so I grabbed a few. I’ve been curious about these…I know that Essie is owned by Loreal and wondered if the quality of polish would match that of Essie. I bought Now You Sea Me (a sea blue), After Hours (a rich, non-shimmery cobalt blue), and I Will (an opaque white).

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I’ve only tried Now You Sea Me, and will update as I try the others. As a disclaimer, I love Essie polishes (vs. OPI). I like that the formula isn’t too thick and the small brush is great for my small hands. I find OPI to be hard to control. So, I’m comparing the Loreal polish to Essie. The formula is decent. I did 2 coats of medium thickness to achieve opacity. The formula did get a little streaky on the 2nd coat, but nothing that couldn’t be covered by a topcoat. The brush is very similar to Essie’s – small and easy to maneuver. As for the color, I love it! It’s an aquamarine with a touch of green. While it’s a bit loud for my hands, it will make a fabulous toe color come spring/summer.

I can’t yet speak to the wearability, as it’s only been one day so far. I used Essie’s First Base base coat, and finished with a thick coat of Sally Hansen Insta-Dri topcoat (since I’ve been using it with the Essie basecoat, I really love it…no chips for days and dry to the touch in one minute).

I would recommend picking these up with a coupon. The colors aren’t groundbreaking, and the polishes aren’t the cheapest, but they do have some pretty options. I am most excited to try I Will, which reminds me of painting nails with highlighter back in middle school. I have yet to find a truly opaque white polish that is non-streaky, so I’m hoping this will work out!

Update: Now You Sea Me lasted a week with no chips…quite amazing for a drugstore polish! I currently have on After Hours – a wonderfully-deep blue that reminds me of OPI’s Russian Navy (but with no shimmer). It went on opaque in 2 medium coats, and is still chip free 4 days later. The formula is more of a gel than Now You Sea Me (which is more of a cream). My cuticles are horribly ragged, so no pics…you’ll have to trust me on this one!

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