Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Nail Strengthener Homemade Essential Oil Blend

I have always had pretty strong nails. The would grow pretty long and then I would cut them because they were too long (not because they were breaking).  Since I have been painting my nails A LOT lately, my nails are breaking, peeling, brittle, and definitely not as strong as they use to be.

Last night I looked up an essential oil recipe in The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy by Valerie Ann Worwood.  I found a nail strengthening recipe which looked good, but I wanted to add more oils and substitute one of the ones they had listed.  My recipe is based loosely off of the one posted the book.

Here's what I ended up concocting:

2 teaspoons of *Burt's Bees Mama Bee Nourishing Body Oil (you can also just use almond oil, avocado oil, or grapeseed oil)
5 drops of organic Jojoba oil
8 drops organic Lemon essential oil
3 drops Lavender essential oil (they changed packaging since I purchased this)
2 drops organic Rosemary Verbenone essential oil
2 drops organic Cypress essential oil
1 drop peppermint essential oil

I just mixed all of the ingredients together in a clean baby food jar.  Ive been rubbing it on my nails for the past few days and it seems to be making my nails softer; they aren't as brittle.

*The ingredients in the Mama Bee Oil-  sweet almond oil, lemon peel oil, wheat germ oil, tocopherol, rosemary leaf extract, soybean oil, canola oil.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Swiss Chard in a Wine Sauce

2 TBSP Soy-free Earth Balance
1 TBSP organic olive oil
1 TBSP finely chopped garlic
1/2 sweet yellow onion, chopped
1 bunch of swiss chard, stems and center ribs cut out, and chopped together, leaves coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 can of organic white cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 TBSP nutritional yeast
pinch of Celtic sea salt
pinch of black pepper

Melt the Earth Balance with the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the garlic and onion, cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add the swiss chard stems, cannellini beans, and the white wine- Simmer until the stems begin to soften, about 4 or 5 minutes. Stir in chard leaves and cook until wilted. Take off heat and stir in nutritional yeast, salt & pepper.  Best if served warm.

My recipe is based off of a recipe I found on called "Sauteed Swiss Chard with Parmesan Cheese". I have changed a few ingredients and added a few as well.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Tarte Aqualillies Palette

I'm going to be traveling a little bit this summer and wanted to have an all-in-one palette (shadows, blush, bronzer, and highlighter).  This spring/summer-time palette is awesome! Lots of neutrals, which I love, and everything is waterproof.  This palette is formulated without parabens, mineral oil, phthalates, triclosan, sodium lauryl sulfate, synthetic fragrances.

The Tarte Aqualillies palette is sold out online at the sites that used to carry it (ULTA, Sephora, Tarte). It's a limited edition item. But if you check your local ULTA or Sephora, they may have one or two left.  I have been wanting this palette and it was only by chance that I scooped one up; I was in the store at the right time (someone had placed it on hold weeks ago but had not picked it up or paid for it, so the crew member at Sephora put the palette back on the shelf only a few hours before I purchased it)!

The cost of the palette is $38.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Sprouted Mung Beans

Mung beans are easy to sprout and delicious!  I love adding them to fresh salads or just eat them as a snack by themselves.

I use Bob's Red Mill Mung Beans. I rinse them well, put them in a bowl, and then cover them with water to let them soak.  I like to add quite a bit of water so that the beans have room to expand and not get dried out (I don't want them above the water).  I let them soak overnight (12 hours) and then place them in a sprouting bag/nut milk bag. I dampen the bag by rinsing with water. I hang the bag on a kitchen cabinet knob with a towel beneath it to catch dripping water.  That area of my kitchen gets good air flow and supposably that is good for sprouting. Keeping the bag damp helps the beans sprout, so I rinse the bag about every 6 hours, and then once before I go to sleep. I do this for 24-30 hours and voila! Ready to eat sprouted mung beans! I think the baby sprouted mung beans taste the best. If I sprout them for more than two days, I think they start to have a bitter taste. I store them in the refrigerator in a glass container. They usually stay fresh for a few days.

 Below is a picture of the beans when I've just rinsed them and placed them in water:

Monday, June 17, 2013

Sephora Microsmooth Blush Duo Mangobeam

I had a particular look in mind when I went to Sephora (a few months ago) to find a blush. I tried Kat Von D, NARS, and Benefit blushes but they didn't quite capture the color I was looking for. A crew member at Sephora recommended this blush; when I looked at it I thought it was too pink. I swatched it, then tried some on, and ended up purchasing it because it was exactly what I wanted!

Sephora's Microsmooth Blush Duo is really smooth and long lasting.  Another thing I really like about this blush is that there are two colors. You can swirl them together like in the pictures I've posted below, or use them individually.  If I don't want to wear a shimmery blush I can just use the right side.

The color, Mangobeam, is gorgeous!  I think it may be my favorite blush at the moment.  I've tested/swatched a few of the other colors (Fuchsia Flushed & Tea Rose Tickle) but I like Mangobeam the best.

Here is a picture of a swatch in natural, outdoor lighting:

I'm wearing Mangobeam in the picture below:

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Veggie Sushi

My husband L-O-V-E-S sushi.  So I make this vegetarian/vegan alternative for him every once in a while.  There are a lot of steps involved but he loves it so much, so I think it's worth it! Rolling up the nori wasn't too difficult either, once I got the hang of it.

3 - 4 cups of cooked brown rice (or sushi rice)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 TBSP sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
6- 8 nori sheets

Roasted asparagus (I roasted them on a pan with a little balsamic vinegar & oil)
2 medium sized carrots, peeled, and cut match stick style
1 avocado, sliced

While rice is cooking, in a separate pan, warm up vinegar, sugar, and salt. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and take off of heat; let it cool. After rice is done cooking and still warm, place in a glass container and spread out evenly. With a wooden spoon or rice paddle, slice through the rice to separate the grains. Slowly pour the vinegar mixture over the rice and fan the rice while slicing through it. Fan until rice is cool. Set aside and cover with a damp cloth. Keep at room temperature.

Place a sheet of nori on a clean kitchen towel. Have a small bowl of warm water right near you. Fill nori sheet with rice and veggies, but leave 1/2 inch on both the top and bottom edges. Roll up the nori using the towel or your hands, whichever is easiest for you. Wet the exposed edge of the nori sheet with your fingers using the water from the small bowl. Seal the wet edge to the roll (see image below).

Using a sharp knife, cut the sushi into 6 - 7 pieces.
Repeat with other nori sheets.

Enjoy with wasabi, organic soy sauce, and pickled ginger!

Refrigerating the sushi can make the Nori fall apart and the rice get hard. Nom on it while it's fresh!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

My Spring Garden

My neighbors are generous and have allowed me to have a small garden plot on their lot (they have direct sunlight!) I try to plant organic/heirloom varieties as much as possible (I think about 80%- 90% of my garden is from organic seed or plants).

This year I've planted :
Malabar Spinach
Spinach  (sadly going to seed)
Four different types of Lettuce
Five different types of Tomatoes
Cinnamon Basil
Sweet Onions
Sugar Snap Peas

Above photo: Athan is munching on some sugar snap peas!

I also have a garden plot about 2/3 the size of this one at my house; it's pretty humble. We don't get more than 6 hours of sunlight so the plants there don't grow as full/beautiful.  In that plot I am currently growing parsley, lettuce, beets, spinach, and kale.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Blue Gray Tri-Kolor Waicon Contacts

Here is a link to my YouTube review-  I wear them during the video and do some close up shots :)

I ordered some gray contacts online from First Vision Direct. This company is amazing! I was a bit concerned about working with a company that was over seas, but their customer service is excellent.  Before I ordered anything I emailed them several times with questions and they promptly answered within 12-24 hours each time (I think weekends took a little longer but that is to be expected!)  First Vision Direct's customer service is helpful, friendly, and informative.  They are based in UK and Cyprus and include all their information on their contact us page (actual address, phone number, and email support). It makes me feel good that they are responsive and detail oriented. The shipping cost is reasonable as well ($7.50 USD). Lastly, they have a good return policy and allow for refunds if the contacts are defective/damaged (some other companies just issue in store credits).

After about 5-6 emails back and forth with First Vision Direct, I placed my order.  In the comments section, at checkout, I mentioned to them that I am a blogger and told them I would be happy to review a pair of contacts and they included a blue gray pair of Waicons gratis.

I do have a prescription for color contacts with the same base curve/diameter as the Waicons.  First Vision Direct is an international company so they do not require a prescription, if you are interested in trying them.  I do think it's a good idea to see an optometrist first. My optometrist wasn't concerned when I mentioned to him I was interested in a different brand with the same base curve/diameter as the contacts he fit me for.  If you don't need eye correction but want a fun way to change your look, I recommend these contacts as well.

The Waicons are the most comfortable color contacts I've tried.  They drift a tiny bit on me (but they are way more comfortable than Freshlook Color Blends or Acuvue 2 Colors).  First Vision Direct also sells Freshlooks, but I prefer the Waicons.

The really nice thing about the blue gray color is that they look really cool from a few feet back. The color really pops.

Overall:  I really think colored contacts are a fun way to create a new look. I feel like it really makes my face look different. I love my brown eyes a lot, but it's so fun to change things up!  I've read that it's a popular trend among Arab celebrities to wear gray, blue gray, or blue contacts. I thought I would give it a try too. The striking color definitely makes a more dramatic/stunning look.

The current promo code on First Vision Direct's website is EXTRA15 - it takes $15 off an order of $135 or more and gives you free shipping to boot.  If you want to order from them and get the promo, just type it in at check out.

Although I didn't order a 6 pack of contacts, First Vision Direct allows customers to order three different colors (three sets of contact). I think this is a really cool way to try out 3 different colors and it's cheaper than buying each pair individually too.

Anyways, I hope you have enjoyed this post and please check out the pictures below.  I haven't enhanced or altered the photos in any way (except for cropping).  Some images are with flash and some, without. I intentionally did not fix red eye in the flash photos. I know there are a lot of pictures; I wanted to give you a good idea of what these contacts look like with different lighting and with different makeup on.

Here's what my eyes look like without colored contacts in.

The photo above is a picture of Athan and I in front of a large window in our home. There is no flash on this photo.

My eyes are usually very similar to my friend Nana's (I purposefully did not remove the red eye in these photos- I wanted you to see the difference. Even from further away you can still see the blue-gray iris on my eye and the brown on Nana's eye. The pupil is less red with the contacts as well).

Note: My husband's eyes are naturally very light blue (sky blue).  I can really see how the contacts have a grey look to them in the picture of John & I together (side-by-side comparison).

Below is a photo of Lebanese singer Haifa Wehbe with a pair on (I believe these are the plain gray color.)

Please let me know what you think in the comments section below! Thanks everyone!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Bite Beauty Lipstick Musk

After my disastrous experience with Revlon Super Lustrous Lipcolor I've been trying to find brands that are moisturizing and won't hurt my lips.  I came across the brand Bite Beauty at Sephora. There was a huge sale last week and I bought a set of 5 mini lipsticks for $20. The color I am reviewing today is musk. It is a pretty pink brown, moisturizing, and doesn't cause any irritation.  What I LOVE about Bite is that they formulate their lipsticks without parabens, sulfates, synthetic fragrances, synthetic dyes, petrochemicals, phthalates, GMOs or triclosan. 

Please let me know if you are interested and I will show the whole mini set, swatches, and the adorable case they came in.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Help Tornado Survivors- Moore, OK

Ever since the massive tornado in Moore, OK, I have been thinking/praying for the people of that area. I posted in some online communities I'm a part of, to see if anyone knew about a place I could send personal care items (shampoo, soap, conditioner, toothpaste, body wash, deodorant, makeup, etc).  Eventually someone responded with this blog

I really like EmilyNoel83 (I have watched MANY of her YouTube videos) and was so glad that she was able to find a trustworthy distribution site. I agree with Emily, having some personal grooming items might be the least of their concerns, but having those items available for free might be helpful so that they can deal with more important matters.

The Address:

First Baptist Church of Moore
Tornado Relief Donation
301 NE 27th St.
Moore, OK 73160

Monday, June 3, 2013

Rimmel Moisture Renew - Pink Chic

I mentioned a few posts back that I have eased up a little bit with all natural products when it comes to makeup items & facial skincare. I am still using all natural shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotion, and cleaning supplies.  I just wanted to open up some doors to new products because some of the all natural products were not giving me the results I wanted when it came to makeup (some were even giving me reactions).

I have sensitive lips and had a terrible experience with Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick. It literally ate my lips off and caused them to be really sore for days. I was really shy about trying another drugstore lip product, but after some research and reading many reviews online, I went out and bought Rimmel's Moisture Renew Lipstick in Pink Chic.

I have worn this several times with no reaction what so ever. It's pigmented and has a slight floral scent to it (with a small hint of a baby powder smell) The color is a light/medium pink with a cool tone to it. The packaging is simple but the added crown on the top adds some points to the cuteness factor.

I make sure to wear this with a lip balm (I use Badger Cocoa Lip Balm) every time because my lips dry out quickly.

The photo above of my lips is pretty true to the color. This picture was taken outside to try to capture the color most accurately.

Below is a picture of the color inside-