Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Fresh Paint: Essie's "Chinchilly"




I'm in a grey phase. & I figure I should give it one last go before the pastels & neons of spring & summer come along. Essie's "Chinchilly" is my favorite grey, & I played with texture by laying on L'Oreal's "Matte Velvet" top coat & adding Essie's "Set in Stones" for some sparkle on an accent nail.

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Isopure JavaPro Caramel

 
Found my new favorite protein! Isopure in general is my favorite, but JavaPro Caramel has to be the best flavor I've tried so far. It tastes just like an iced coffee, without all of the junk. You don't even have to chug it down in fear of a weird aftertaste. It tastes great with just water, but I'm sure it would be delicious with milk if you like a creamier consistency. There's 20g of protein per serving with a caffeine boost.
 
 
I like to drink it the morning after a big workout for recovery, not necessarily immediately after a strength training workout. My only gripe with it is that it's like a bag of chips - big bag filled with 50% air! You don't get much product, but it's still the same price point depending on weight.
 

Javapro comes in popular coffee shop flavors: Caramel, Espresso, Mocha, French Vanilla, Hazelnut & Latte. I believe it retails for around $40 for a 1.5 lb bag. I bought mine for a discounted price at my gym, but there are other places to get this for less than $30. TIP: Vitamin Shoppe always has discounted prices! Give them your email, and they'll send you some really useful coupons :)



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Friday, February 14, 2014

Fresh Paint: Revlon's Perfumerie "Pink Pineapple"

 
 
Happy Valentine's Day! It's been a while since my last Fresh Paint post, probably because this is the first time I've painted my nails all year! I had to slap something on, and to be a little festive, I chose a baby pink for Valentine's Day. I would have loved to ham it up with some glitter, but just didn't have the time. Womp womp.
 
Revlon's Perfumerie Collection is uber adorable, and the polishes are actually scented when dried! This one definitely smells like pineapple, but mixed with the chemical nail polish scent, it's a bit sickening so don't over do the sniffing.
 
I love the color, but the formula was just not cutting it for me. It's pretty sheer, so it took 3 coats to get the true color. It also applies streaky and uneven, so your best bet is to let the first coat dry completely before adding another. To be honest, I would have liked to put on a fourth coat, but then my nails would have been super chunky and thick with polish. For this particular color, you'd be better off with Essie's Fiji or Butter London's Teddy Girl; better formula and requires less coats.

 
I may try some other colors from the line, simply because I'm a sucker for their packaging, and I'm interested to see what other scents they have!
 
 
 

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Salted Caramel & Guava French Macarons


Valentine's Day is tomorrow, but there is still time before you have to resort to drugstore stuffed  animals or overpriced candy! French Macarons may seem intimidating to make, but with a little effort, they can make a great homemade gift.

Before you get started, take note of these tips. Macarons are very finnicky, so be sure to give your cookies the best chance possible!

TIP #1 - EGGS: Use room temperature egg whites. Want to bring refrigerated eggs to room temperature fast? Put them in a bowl of warm water, and they will come to temperature in a few minutes. Also, be meticulous when separating the whites from the yolks. Any trace of yolk can prevent your meringue from forming correctly.

TIP #2 - SIFTING: Always sift your dry ingredients. Almond flour will most likely have large chunks that can make the tops of your macarons look rough and pebbly. After sifting, you can take all the larger pieces and put them into a food processor to grind them down finer.

TIP #3 - HUMIDITY: Don't plan on baking macarons in high humidity (like on a rainy day) because it makes the process twice as long! After piping the batter, it needs to rest in order to dry out and harden. If they are not able to dry out properly, they will not be able to rise and set with the signature macaron "feet".

TIP #4 - KITCHEN TOOLS: For best results, use a kitchen scale to weigh your ingredients as opposed to relying on volume measurements. If you have a fancy digital scale, great, but it's not necessary. I use the Polder Kitchen Scale, under $6 at Bed Bath and Beyond.  Use durable baking sheets. If you use cheap, thin baking sheets, they will most likely warp in the heat of the oven and cause your macarons to be lopsided. An oven thermometer is crucial! A 10 degree difference can be the fine line between success and failure. Also, parchment paper is a MUST. Do not use a greased baking sheet. Any added fats will ruin your macarons. If you have a silpat (silicone baking mat) all the better.

TIP #5 - AIR BUBBLES: Here's where it gets confusing. You want to beat your egg whites to almost stiff peaks, but when folding in the dry ingredients, you want to deflate the batter to the point where it flows, some people say like "lava". Too much air in the batter will result in the ever frustrating hollow shells. After you pipe the batter onto the baking sheet, rap the pan against the counter a few times to release any remaining air bubbles. You can use a toothpick to pop any that you see on the surface.

TIP #6 - MATURATION: If you over cook your macarons, don't fret. Macarons are best eaten after 24-72 hours to give them time to "mature". A crispy shell will absorb some humidity from inside of the cookie, causing it to soften after a few days. If your filling is not very liquid, like buttercream, you can brush the bottom of the shells with milk or jam to help with the maturation process.

Okay, now that I've scared you with everything that could go wrong, let's make some macarons!

Ingredients:

Yields about 24 macarons

Macaron Shells
120 g almond flour
200 g powdered sugar
100 g egg whites
35 g granulated sugar
red/yellow gel food coloring

Guava Buttercream
60 g (4 tbsp) room temperature butter
128 g (1 cup) powdered sugar
16 g (2 tbsp) guava paste
splash of milk, if needed

Caramel/Dulce de Leche
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Instructions:

1. For Salted Caramel Macarons, start with this dulce de leche caramel filling first since it will take the longest (you can also do this a day or two ahead of time). Bring a small pot of water up to boil. Place the whole can of sweetened condensed milk in the boiling water and cook for 2.5-3 hours. The longer this cooks, the thicker the caramel will be. When time is up, cool in the fridge for at least 1.5 hours. Open up the can, and the caramel should be golden brown. Spoon into a piping bag to fill macaron shells.

2. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Farenheit.

3. Beat egg whites for a few seconds until frothy. Add granulated sugar, and beat to glossy, soft peaks. Add gel food coloring, 1 drop of yellow for salted caramel shells (pale yellow), 2 drops of red for guava shells (light pink).

4. Sift dry ingredients. Gently fold into egg mixture 1/3 at a time. Continue folding until all ingredients are combined, and the batter resembles "lava" or a thick cake batter consistency.

5. Fill a piping bag with a round tip with batter. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, pipe macaron rounds about 1.5 inches in diameter, leaving a small gap between each one. They should flatten and smooth out on their own.

6. Rap the sheet flat against the counter to release any air bubbles. Add any decorations/garnishes now. (For the Salted Caramel Macarons, I sprinkled some coarse pink himalayan salt and a few edible hearts). Let sit to dry out at least 20-40 minutes, or until the macarons are firm to the touch and are not tacky.


7. Bake on middle rack for 12-15 minutes. Keep a close eye, but do not open and close the oven door excessively. When time is up, remove from oven and cool completely before removing shells from the sheet. A successful macaron shell will have a smooth top with ruffled "feet" at the bottom.


8. For Guava Buttercream, beat room temperature butter in a bowl until smooth and pale. Add powdered sugar and guava paste, and mix until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add a splash of milk. If the mixture is too thin, add more powdered sugar. Place into a piping bag to fill macaron shells.

9. Pair up same sized shells and pipe a dollop of filling directly onto the middle leaving a small border. Put the top shell on and push down until the filling comes just to the edge of the macaron.



10. Enjoy!






I made a big batch of these for friends, and they loved them! They make for great gifts, click HERE for instructions on how to make an origami box. I used an old Vogue magazine for the bright colors & patterns :)

My next recipe will be Fruity Pebble Macarons, so stay tuned! Let me know how yours turn out :)

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

L'Oreal Visible Lift Color Lift Blush in Rose Gold Lift



My current obsession is a blush from L'Oreal's Visible Lift Color Lift Blush line in Rose Gold Lift. I know, it's a mouthfull, lift, lift, LIFT! Apparently there's a little bit of a buzz about this product since it launched earlier this month, but I've actually seen Judy of ItsJudyTime mention the same product last summer. Maybe it's just a relaunch with new colors?



Anywho, I picked one up this month just to try it out for the first time. One of my all time favorite blushes is Nars' "Orgasm", and this rose gold color looked like an affordable substitute. I've also heard that the formula is almost identical to Maybelline's Dream Bouncy Blushes, which is more cream/gel-like. I didn't even realize L'Oreal's blush was a creamy, mousse-like formula until my brush failed at picking up the product, and I finally used my fingers to apply. It doesn't mention that it is a cream/mousse anywhere on the packaging. After playing around with it, I found that the best way to apply is picking up the product with your fingers, apply to the cheeks, and then blend in with a blush brush.

I love the finish - easy to blend and sets like a powder. It does have contouring properties in the way the product hits the light. The gold shimmers highlight, but the warm pink undertones give the face depth, depending on how the light hits it.

There are six colors in the collection, including cool pinks, peachy corals, and deep berry. Some reviews I've read have noted that "Rose Gold Lift" and "Peach Gold Lift" are very similar, so one or the other would be good for your collection. I'm definitely eyeing the "Berry Lift" for the colder, darker seasons.

The only negative thing I would say is that I notice the product pulling away from the edges of the pan, most likely because it's a "cream", so overtime the product may shrink and dry up. Overall, I'm in love with it!
 
 
 
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Monday, January 6, 2014

2014 New Year's Resolutions

Well, hello there strangers! HAPPY NEW YEAR! It's been a while, but I'm slowly easing back into reality now that the holidays have come & gone. Now that everyone's lives have hit refresh, let's talk resolutions!

Spread positivity. I've never been malicious when poking fun at celebrities or people in my life, but it's not the kindest thing to do for a little amusement. I feel like now that I'm in the second half of my twenties, it's time to take focus away from gossip & judgement. Not saying that it's okay when you're younger, but the bigger picture comes with maturity. I believe that what you put out into the universe ultimately comes back to you, so I'd like to spread some positivity & empowerment, especially to women because I feel like women judge other women the most for no apparent reason! So go on girl, wear whatever you wanna wear as long as you feel great! Ladies, let's not stare each other down in public & talk ish when you know damn well that her booty looks amazing. Give that booty props! & let's respect each other & not steal someone else's man!

Unplug more often. In this society, everyone has access to you at all times of the day & night, via phone, computer, social media, you name it! I feel like I'm so busy trying to capture a moment to save for later that I miss the moment entirely. I want to take more time to "de-screen", leave all electronics at home & just enjoy what's around me.

Eat cleaner. Most people want to exercise more in the beginning of the year. I train pretty consistently throughout the year, but my weakness is what I eat. I try to make healthy choices daily, but when I allow myself to indulge, I really do indulge! For instance, I found some delicious Christmas Yogurt Pretzels at my local Sprouts & bought 1/4 lb to start. I loved it so much that I went back & bought a full pound, & I'm pretty sure they were gone within a week! So the moral of the story, portion control!

I kept my list short because I wanted to keep it realistic & hopefully attainable! In addition, let's challenge ourselves to make smaller goals throughout the year. Have a wonderful & prosperous year, & let me know your resolutions :)


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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

12 Days of Dance at 3 BE3TS Dance Studio


 
For all my movers & shakers in Southern California, 3 BE3TS Dance Studio in San Diego has launched a month long event called 12 Days of Dance! They are halfway through the classes (so sorry for the late notice!) but there is still plenty of time to catch a Master Class with some of the most talented dance instructors in the area! The line up is full of elite all-stars, including dancers from Culture Shock, Urban FX, Breed, GRV, and a little show called America's Best Dance Crew!
 
Speaking of celebrating DANCE all month long, 3 BE3TS supports DANCEMBER, backed by Judy & Benji of itsJudysLife‎ on YouTube! They dance in their daily vlogs to raise money to support the March of Dimes, a charity benefitting the health of newborn babies & new mothers. Visit their fundraising page HERE for more information. You can become a supporter by spreading the word, and you can even become a fundraiser by joining the campaign and raising money for the cause.
 
They offer dance styles to suit everyone's taste - Modern, Contemporary, Ballet, Jazz, & my personal favorite, Hip Hop! Not much of a dancer? They encourage all ages and experience levels to come take class! Even when 12 Days of Dance is over, 3 BE3TS Dance Studio continues to offer a variety of dance classes all year long.

HOT TIP: Keep an eye out for 3BE3TS on INSTAGRAM because rumor has it that next week they will be holding an Instagram contest to win an exclusive t-shirt & an ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP to 3 BE3TS Dance Studio!

Check them out!

 
 


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