Saturday, March 24, 2012

Laura Mercier Smoky Effects Set


This morning I was at the mall and one of my usual stops is the Nordstrom cosmetic department (no surprise, right?). Over the last few years it has become a little embarrassing, as when I walk in most the sales associates know me by name! Today I was there on a mission to pick up one item: a Laura Mercier metallic creme shadow in Burnished Copper, but this little "Smoky Effects" set behind the counter caught my eye. I love Caviar Sticks and the shade included in this set, Golden, is one I don't already have, and I figured I could use the little creme eye brush to go along with my new metallic creme shadow. Yes, folks, these are the little ways I like to convince myself I "need" something that I really don't need. But I digress...

The "Smoky Effects" set includes a full-size Caviar Stick in the shade Golden, a travel-size eye brush, and a mini Lip Glace (2.8g/0.1oz) in the shade Bare Pink. It retails for $39.50 (Caviar Sticks alone are priced at $24). I checked Sephora and Laura Mercier's website and did not see a Golden Caviar Stick listed, so I believe this shade may currently be exclusive to Nordstrom. 

    

Bare Pink is a lovely milky petal pink shade. It is fairly sheer and would be nice to accompany a stronger eye look. Because I'm so pale, using this shade alone washes me out, so I'll probably try this over a darker or brighter lip pencil like NARS Velvet Matte. (See more photos and swatches of this shade at The Beauty Look Book.) 


Golden is a dark sandy gold that calls to mind the color of a field of wheat. As you can see in the swatch below, when blended out it is not overly shimmery. Golden is the type of shade that can stand all on its own, but would also make a nice base underneath powder shadows. Caviar Sticks are similar to MAC's Shadesticks but they seem to have a softer texture that allows for easier blending, yet still sets to a smudge-proof finish once dry.


Below is Golden applied on lid and and smudged into the crease with some dark brown eyeliner and black mascara. It's fairly subtle and is a nice neutral that will complement a brighter lip, like a rosy pink or fuchsia.  

  

I'm a fan of Laura Mercier's pull-apart lip brush and this little eye brush has similar tapered bristles, but is wider and comes to more of a sharp point. Its small size makes it perfect to throw in your makeup bag and take on trips. It comes with a clear plastic cover, but I wish it had a metal cap like L.M.'s pull-apart brushes. 


  

  


  
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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day with Zoya's Apple

Hi guys, hope you are all enjoying your weekend! I've got my green on for St. Patrick's Day, with Zoya's Apple, a pretty grass green with lots of golden yellow sparkles. It's super metallic and eye catching, especially in sunlight! It starts out quite sheer but looks great with two coats, or go for three if you want no visible nail line. I suppose it would have been fitting to photograph Apple next to some actual green apples, but I picked up some lemons and limes at the grocery store this morning, so lemons and limes it is! Also got some Irish soda bread (recipe below) to go with a traditional Irish dinner of corned beef, cabbage and potatoes.  










In indoor lighting above and below
   



Irish Soda Bread recipe 


I like it best warm out of the oven with some butter! You can substitute raisins for the currants.

Ingredients

4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for currants
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 cup dried currants

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. 
  • Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour. 
  • With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, and orange zest together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the currants with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into the dough. It will be very wet. 
  • Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound. 
  • Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Lancome Vernis in Love


I thought now would be a good time to share swatches of Lancome's Vernis in Love ($15) polishes in case they are helpful to any Nordstrom shoppers taking advantage of the triple points promotion on purchases made with Nordstrom debit or credit cards (March 14-18). 

These polishes are currently exclusive to Nordstrom stores and Nordstrom.com, but can also be found at the Lancome website. They were released recently along with the new Rouge in Love lipsticks. There are sixteen shades offered, as well as a clear top coat. All shades are swatched below, except for 147M Rouge Valentine, a brick red, which would be lovely for autumn but seems a little out of place next to all the new bright spring shades that are catching my eye at the moment. All are creme formulas except for #300M Rose Plumetis. If you are looking for a shade in-store it's helpful to know the number as the actual name is not listed on the bottle. The colors offered range from classic and conservative to trendy and slightly edgy. I will say there is nothing groundbreaking here, but overall it is a solid collection of beautifully wearable shades that should suit a variety of tastes. 

I haven't worn these for an extended period yet, but have tested them on my fingers and all seemed to cover well in two coats without any streaking or other issues. I also purchased the clear top coat, #010M Cristal Quartz, and really like it so far. It is not pictured below, but comes in the exact same bottle as the other colored polishes. It is crystal clear and gives a nice, glossy finish that rivals Poshe and Seche Vite. At $15, I'm not sure if it is worth the splurge since there are so many other great top coats available at lower price points. Normally I would have skipped it, but lately I've been on a mission to find a "holy grail" top coat and have been trying out a few different brands. 

Lancome has come up with a unique classification system for this collection. Each shade falls into one of three categories: Jolis Matins (M) "fresh shades for daytime wear," Boudoir Time (B) "pop shades for cocktail hour," or Tonight is My Night (N) "intense shades for magical nights." So, I guess what Lancome is trying to tell me here is that I should go for an "N" shade if I want to get "lucky" on my next date... ;)

My favorite shades are Gris AngoraViolette CoquetteRose BoudoirRouge in LoveJolie Rosalie and Madame Tulipe. I love Gris Angora because it is definitely a gray but has a touch of lavender which makes it softer and prettier than a simple concrete gray. I recommend viewing The RAEviewer's video review which features this shade. If you would like to see comparisons for a particular color below please let me know and I'll do my best to find similar shades in my collection. 

  

  1. 270N Chocolat Mordoré - very dark, smoky chocolate brown
  2. 350M Rose Thé - brownish-rose 
  3. 240M Beige Dentelle - cafe au lait / caramel 
  4. 300M Rose Plumetis - opaque, pale blush pink with subtle frost
  5. 311M Jolie Rosalie - bright carnation pink 
  6. 343B Rose Pitimini - medium rosey pink
  7. 112B Rouge In Love - bright orange-red 
  8. 154M Miss Coquelicot - medium classic red
  9. 179M Madame Tulipe - dark bordeaux red 
  10. 473N Rouge Réglisse - deep vampy wine 
  11. 441N Midnight Rose - dark purple 
  12. 375B Rose Boudoir - raspberry pink / dark fuchsia 
  13. 419B Violette Coquette - dark lavender with magenta tones
  14. 407N Gris Angora - soft gray with blueish-lavender tones 
  15. 585N Noir Caviar - very dark charcoal grey (Note: box says Noir Caviar - Lancome & Nordstrom websites say Noir Angora)








Above is a comparison for size. OPI's bottle contains 15 ml and Lancome's has less than half the product, at only 6 ml. (OPI shade shown is Did You 'Ear About Van Gogh?)

Below are a few more views in sunlight: 
  





Do you have any favorites? 

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Sunday, March 4, 2012

Estee Lauder Mad Men Collection


After an extended hiatus, the much anticipated new season of the AMC tv series Mad Men is scheduled to premiere with a 2-hour episode on March 25th. I'm looking forward to seeing what this season has in store for Don and Betty Draper, Peggy, Joan, and the rest! To mark the occasion Estee Lauder has launched a two-piece, limited edition, collection that includes a compact creme rouge, Evening Rose ($40), and lipstick in Cherry ($25), in packaging inspired by that of the 1960s. 

If you're not familiar with the show, here are just a few glimpses of some of the main characters. Visit AMCTV.com for more. 

Don (Jon Hamm) and Betty Draper (January Jones). Photo by Carin Baer. Source: AMCTV.com

         Joan Holloway (Christina Hendricks). Photo by Carin Baer. Source: AMCTV.com 

          Peggy Olsen (Elisabeth Moss). Photo by Carin Baer. Source: AMCTV.com


I like the thought that went into the box design. It really does have a vintage feel. 
  
    


Creme rouge in Evening Rose is a well-pigmented neutral rosy pink, with just a touch of shimmer (the shimmer is not really noticeable on the cheeks). It provides a lot of color with very little product. I think this shade would make a lovely lipstick as well (although I'm not sure whether it's suitable for use on the lips, I'm going to give it a try!) The texture is creamy, but doesn't have a lot of slip so takes a bit of blending for even coverage, similar to Bobbi's Brown's cream blush. I used fingertips but a brush might give better results.



Cherry lipstick is a vibrant blue-based (fuchsia) cherry shade. It reminds me of Revlon's classic nail and lip shade Cherries in the Snow. The vintage-inspired tube is smaller than what we're used to--it's on the verge of being miniature-sized. Personally, I like the size and think there is plenty enough product, but at $25, you may be a bit disappointed if you were expecting a full-size lipstick. Happily, it does not have any strong perfume scent. It has a bit of sheerness to it, which allows the color to be built up to your preference. The finish is not matte and does have a slight bit of shine. You can either go high drama by layering it to opaqueness or dab it on and blot for a more casual pink stain. I wore it full strength in the photos below to give you an idea of the color, but I can see getting more use out of this by applying it lightly and topping it with a light gold or champagne to tone it down for daytime wear.  




Above compared to Estee Lauder's larger, standard tube size. 



Above compared to a standard, full-sized MAC lipstick. 

I also  purchased a nail lacquer in Pure Red ($19). It's not part of the Mad Men collection, but I was attracted to it, as it looked like a very simple and classic primary red. I don't think you can go wrong with shades like this!
     




Swatch on the left is Cherry lipstick; in the center is Evening Rose rouge blended out and on the right is Evening Rose applied heavily, straight from the compact. 
  


    


My quickie attempt at a 60's outfit and hair. Yeah... I think we can all agree I'm no January Jones, but it was fun trying to recreate the 60's-style maquillage. I used Evening Rose rouge on cheeks and Cherry lipstick on lips (no lip liner). Blouse is from Banana Republic, 2010 or 2011. 



I thought this post would be a good opportunity to share a few photos of my parents, who actually came of age in the 1960's "Mad Men" era. 


Here's my mom, circa 1961, getting ready for the prom, my proud grandma smiling in the background.


Here's my mom again, a couple of years later, now a single working woman in her early twenties, circa 1963. Note high-maintenance hair was the norm! Hmm...that's an interesting sofa there... 


Fast forward a few more years, to 1966. Here is my dad in the forefront (it looks like he's just tossed something up in the air) and in the background, in the pink suit, is mom. Note the narrow ties on the men.  


Above is my dad, far right. Loving the aviator sunglasses on these young gents!


And here's my father again (center), the victim of some mischievous comrades!


Ah, young love... mom and dad here, before us kids came along... guess that's why they look so carefree! 


My dad in Don Draper-esque beige fedora and skinny tie.  



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