Thursday, September 29, 2011

One Sweep Eyeshadow: TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE??

The product: L'Oreal Studio Secrets Professional "One Sweep Eyeshadow"

The concept: Three shades of contrasting eyeshadow and a one sweep brush for application to create an easy, simple, fuss-free eyeshadow look! It’s basically a single contrasting shadow look in a single compact sans the need of major skills for application. I think L’Oreal had in mind that this would appeal to a market that isn’t quite sure of proper application but still wanting a fabulous eyeshadow look. Granted, not everyone can blend well, apply eyeshadow, and create an overall fantastic eye look (I know I can’t) and the idea behind this was to make it happen with as little fuss and application know how as possible.

How does it work? Pretty simple. L’Oreal provides you with a large curved sponge applicator. The sponge is designed in a way that it’s supposed to mimic the curve of your lid and eye area. You simply swipe the applicator onto all three shadows (upwards for your left eye and downwards for your right) and proceed to swipe the applicator over your eye. Presto! This basically applies the shadow shades in the appropriate areas. The light shade is supposed to blend towards the top of your crease and highlight the area, where as the middle shade is supposed to shade your lid, and the last, darker shade is supposed to act as a liner for definition.

The verdict: My first reaction when I saw it on the shelf - simply brilliant. Unfortunately the end result is a total fail. Don't waste your money on this gimmick. The applicator is just far too big. One size does not fit all. Everyone's eye shape and size is different therefore there's no way you can get the shading effect they claim it gives. While the colors are decent, they don't have much pigment so you'll find yourself sweeping over your eye several times. But when sweeping that huge cheap sponge over your eye it starts at the inner corner of your eye and then fades out to the outer. Which then cakes on the color in the inner corner leaving you looked like you got kicked in the face. I personally prefer darker on the OUTER and lighter towards the inner. Essentially for the applicator to work correctly, you have to wash the sponge after every use. No thanks.

Parting words: Save your money. And remember that if something seems too good to be true, it usually is!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

DEAL ALERT: Bumble & Bumble

Thanks to post-pregnancy hormones, my hair is a hot mess. It's falling out in clumps and is so limp and lifeless. In desperation I reached out to my sister-in-law, Leigh Dawson, a fantastic hairdresser at Gene Juarez in downtown Seattle (plug - go see her!) and she recommended I try Bumble and Bumble's "Surf Spray" to add some volume. During my frantic quest to track down a salon that carried Bumble and Bumble before my trips, I spotted - to my surprise - that Target is now selling Bumble and Bumble products. I know this isn’t exactly hot off the press news but after talking to some girlfriends this was news to them.

While I didn't find the Surf Spray in stores (yes, it's sold online), I did spot a BUY ONE, GET ONE FREE deal on Bumble and Bumble's Seaweed Shampoo and Conditioner, Creme de Coco Shampoo and Conditioner and their popular, go-to Styling Creme. Unfortunately I could only find these 2-packs in stores but it's not like you won't be there this week right!?!? Just make sure you check the expiration date before filling your cart.

Bumble and Bumble makes a great product. Your hair can thank me later. :)

Monday, September 26, 2011

If you do ONE thing this week...

CARVE OUT SOME TIME BEFORE BEDTIME & READ A BOOK TO YOUR CHILD. (And make it part of the everyday routine!)

Your child is never too young or too old to be read to. It seems to me that reading 15 minutes before bed is the one thing that gets cut out of the bedtime routine. In my opinion, there's nothing better than that precious cuddle time. Put on the pj's and get cozy away from distraction and noise. Translation: Take your phone out of your pocket and go in another room away from your computer. Build this time up with your child as your "special" time. Pick books that relate to whatever your child is into these days and they're guaranteed not to resist. And keep in mind, that although they may pick the same book to read night after night and it might be boring to you, it is doing your child a world of good. Eventually your child will memorize the text and be able to "read" it to you. When this happens, they are learning about language structure, building confidence and it adds new words to their growing vocabulary.

If you've got an older child that already knows how to read, it doesn't mean you're off the hook with the routine bedtime story. Dr. Burkins, co-author of "Preventing Misguided Reading" and founder or claims that "a young reader benefits from listening to stories just as much as before." Even if your child plays it off that reading isn't 'cool' or books are boring, you are still the parent - aka; the one in control. Burkins goes on to say that reading aloud to them "helps with vocabulary, sentence structure, and comprehension." Plus they'll enjoy the more interesting and developed plots in the longer books that they can't read on their own yet. To keep your child engaged, take turn reading paragraphs. They will follow along better and you'll be able to encourage their progress. If you're reading along with your child as opposed to reading to him, just remember to take it slow. Resist rushing your child to take on a book bigger than their reading level. You might set an expectation that is frustrating to your child. You want to set a pace that makes your child ask for more rather than wearing them out.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Before I make your mouth water, I wanted to apologize for my inconsistent blogging efforts. I've been on a whirlwind travel adventure for the past 2 months to some fantastic places (Australia and Thailand to name just a few) and to be honest, blogging hasn't even crossed my mind.

But because I was feeling guilty, here's a Sweet Sunday post coming at you all the way from Bangkok (where it's actually my Monday)...

This is the perfect fall dessert and one you're going to want to make now so you can easily whip it up over the Thanksgiving holiday! This dessert has a few steps but it's really simple to make. A doctored up store bought yellow cake mix with toasted pecans or walnuts is used for both the crust and topping to give it a nice texture and flavor. And sandwiched between the two, is a layer of creamy pumpkin filling that has a nice balance of sweet and spicy.

This dessert is a cross between pumpkin pie and a pumpkin bar. The buttery, caky topping makes this dessert stand out. It can be served plain or dressed up with ice cream or whipping cream. A fall delight whose leftovers go extremely well with a nice cup of coffee the next morning!

Inspired by Slight Detour

Box of Yellow cake mix
1 1/2 sticks of butter
5 eggs
1 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans (your choice)
1 large can of Pumpkin
1/2 cup brown super
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
2 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt


After reserving and setting aside, 1 cup of cake mix, add 1 melted stick of butter or margarine, 1 beaten egg, and ½ cup of chopped nuts to the remaining cake mix.
Mix well and spread mixture in a 9x13 greased baking pan.

In large bowl, mix together: 1 large can of pumpkin, 4 beaten eggs, ½ cup of brown sugar, ½ cup sugar, 2/3 cup of Evaporated milk, 2 ½ tsp of cinnamon, 1 tsp of nutmeg, ¼ tsp salt. Spread the filling over the crust.

In separate bowl, mix together until crumbly: the reserved 1 cup of cake mix, ½ cup sugar, ½ cup of nuts, ½ stick of softened butter or margarine.
Crumble the topping over the filling.

Bake @ 350 for 50-60 minutes. Cool and serve with whipped cream or ice cream on top.

I hope this ends your weekend on a sweet note! xo

Monday, September 12, 2011

If you do ONE thing this week...


Now I know money is tight as it is but I can almost guarantee that you're spending money here and there that you don't need to. Brew your own pot of coffee at home. Forego the 'Value Meal' that sets you back $6.00 and pack your own lunch. Paint your own nails instead of going to the nail salon. (That's $20 right there!) Buy a bottle of wine from the grocery store instead of hitting up your after work Happy Hour spot. Meet your girlfriend for a walk instead of coffee. Use up the beauty products in your cabinet before rushing out to buy brand new. Buy generic, not name-brand. Don't give into buying the overpriced goodies at the concession stands at sporting events.

If you can get in the habit of doing this on a regular basis, you'll be amazed at how much the un-necessary items add up. And how much more money you'll have to spend on things you do need! If you're like me and need to visibly see your work pay off, put the money in a piggy bank and watch it grow. This shouldn't be too tough - it's $5 bucks Monday thru Friday. If you can do this, you'll save an extra $100 per month. Doesn't seem like much but it all adds up!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

DEAL ALERT: Nordstrom

Did you hear that Nordstrom is now offering FREE online shipping and FREE returns all the time for orders of any size? Loveth! As if Nordstrom wasn't already the leader in making your shopping experience as easy as possible.

It used to be that the free shipping minimum was on $200 or more. While usually too steep for my one or two TBD shirts, I did find their in-store pickup option extremely convenient. But since having two kids, it's hard to find the time to swing by customer service to pick it up. Hence why I'm loving this great news that I had to share with you!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Digi-DO's & Digi-DONT'S

Is it just me or does it seem like everyone carries their cell phone with them everywhere? The one that gets me the most is taking it to the bathroom. Or what about the email chirps or text message dings that have become the background music during family dinner? I'll admit - I am guilty of having my cell on me most of the time. Ok all the time. But I'm trying to get better about being more "out of touch" especially when spending time with my kids.

While intentionally not browsing on my phone while waiting in the Doctor's office, I came across an article in Parenting magazine that was oh so fitting.

Technology has created a world of both wonder and worry for the modern family. I'll never forget when I got my first email account. In college. I felt like I was a character on the Jetsons. Sadly now email is almost a thing of the past. And what about doing research in the Encyclopedia? Man, I am really dating myself. But it's true. Snail mail. Going to the library to check out a book. Handwriting a paper. All things of the past. The average family household now has a whopping 23 tech devices. 59% of kids have witnessed their parents using a mobile device while driving. Children under 5 are more likely to be able to play a computer game than tie their shoes. And no that doesn't make your kid smarter.

Parents need to know what it means to be a good digital role model. Some people are better than others at knowing when and where to draw the line, while other's need to set boundaries. Do you really want your child moving at the speed of 4G? Regardless, I think we all could benefit from this simple checklist of Digi-do's and Digi-don'ts that should be applied in this powerful, plugged-in, pixelated world we live in;

1) All devices should be treated equal: It used to be that screen time meant TV time. But now that the average family has nearly two dozen screens under one roof, they must be treated the same. "Whether it's playing with an app on an iPad, watching a movie on TV, or playing a computer game, they are equally engrossing to kids," claims Parenting magazine. However, they state that if a device is being used for an activity that's productive or educational, or fosters family interactivity - such as reading an Ebook together - that shouldn't count against screen time.

2) Monkey see, monkey touch, swipe and drag: Nine out of ten Americans have seen people misuse technology. Translation: We are all offenders. Consider these two statistics from Intel's "2011 State of Mobile Etiquette" study: 46% of kids have seen mom or dad use the phone during dinner, and 49% don't see anything wrong with it. If the kids witness you doing it, they will assume it's approved behavior. Hmmm. Valid point. Parents need to set an example as good digital citizens. That means no texting while driving (not even at red lights which I myself need to get better at), or it's safe to assume your kids will follow suit when it's their turn behind the wheel.

3) Make eye contact, not iContact: While doing research for her book "Alone Together; Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other," Turkle met kids who complained about their parents being disconnected. "They talked about moms who bring their phones to bedtime, or coming out of school and the parents making a hand gesture instead of eye contact because they're finishing an email." One I see all the time - a parent pushing their kid on the swing with one hand and looking at the phone with the other. The result? Kids are disconnecting as well. It's sad when you see kids having trouble making eye contact. Sadly kids would rather send an email, text or Facebook than talk face to face with teachers, coaches and parents. The result? Social skills are vanishing. The answer: Make and maintain connection, without pit-stopping for a tech interlude.

4) Establish electronic curfews: Creating "blackouts" encourages families to do things together and forces kids to get creative with their free time. With preschoolers, unplugging the power strip from the wall and claiming a "power failure" is an easy way to do it. For older kids, a more foolproof option is "BreakTime," an app from myi (, a service that lets users customize their household's Internet usage. BreakTime allows families to put the Internet on hold for a length of time on any device (mobile phones, computers, gaming systems, tablets) that receives connection.

I encourage you to set some boundaries both for yourself and your kids. I think it's important to get a handle on this because there is no going back. Our kids need to know that YouTube isn't the answer to everything.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

If you do ONE thing this week...


So I know many of you have heard of Pinterest. And most of you, if you've spent any time on the website, have become "Pinterested" aka OBSESSED. After my mother-in-law emailed last week asking if I'd seen this awesome new site, I realized not everyone is wasting away their free time glued to the "pinboards" of fabulous ideas and motivation. Although I haven't become an addicted "Pinner," I do believe Pinterest is the most productive and efficient way to organize images from the web to create virtual bookmarking. What people use to store on their internet favorites and in folders on their hard drive or cuts outs in a binder, can now just be “pinned” to their pinboards for easy categorization and at-a-glance inspiration. How (p)interesting right?!?

Wondering what the heck Pinterest is?

According to the Pinterest website:

"Think of Pinterest as a virtual pinboard — a place where you can create and share collections of things you love and “follow” collections created by people with great taste" in any category you choose; travel, kids, DIY & crafts, Prints & posters, Apparel, Home & furniture. Planning a wedding? Redecorating your home? Basically anything that catches your eye online from dream dresses to to clever design finds, can be stored by a simple click of the "pin it" button.

Pinterest has been called the best social media site since Facebook or Twitter. Although still in it’s infancy, honored Pinterest at one of the Top 50 (social media) websites of 2011. Interestingly, the basic idea behind Pinterest has been tried before by start-ups that didn't make much of a mark. This time it looks like it's taken off based on the buzz I see on Facebook and amongst girlfriends. Need a little Pinterest tutorial?

Step 1: Request an invite

Pinterest has taken a unique approach to get people interested in the site – you have to be invited to participate. You can request an invitation right on the site, but be warned that it takes a long time before you will get one. You are better off to ask a friend who is already on Pinterest to send you one. You can even ask for Pinterest invites via Twitter and Facebook - usually someone is always willing to help out. What a genius marketing strategy. Requiring people to secure an invite, is a great way to spread the word about the site!

Step 2: Set up an account

The first thing you will want to do is to setup your account. You can sign in using your existing Twitter or Facebook account. The benefit of using one of those social media accounts to sign in, is that you can find people on Pinterest that you already interact with on those other sites. You also can log in to Pinterest using the email and password you establish when setting up your account.

When signing up, you will be prompted to create some boards. Pinterest suggests a few basic boards with titles. I suggest accepting those and editing them later on. (See step #4) If you want to edit them at this point, just go ahead and change the names to topics you think you might like to file inspiration under.

Step 3: Find friends to follow

Your Pinterest experience will be completely shaped by who you follow. You will see “pins” from the people you choose to follow and so they will create the content of the site. It is important to have a few inspirational and safe friends to follow to get you started. Then you can refine your own interests as you explore and become more comfortable. You can use Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo, or Gmail to help you find people you might already know.

You can follow all of someone’s boards, or just pick a one or a few to follow. You can also unfollow a person or certain boards at any time. Once you have a few friends to follow, look around their pinboards and see if you can find anyone else who looks familiar or interesting. You can always unfollow them later on. You can click on who I follow or who follows me to find some fun people.

Step 4: Create boards

It’s time to create your own pinboards and start pinning (see step #5). Some people chose not to repin anything and just use Pinterest to follow others. That is perfectly fine, but it’s even more enjoyable when you get involved. You can “like” pins which is liking adding them to a “favorites” file. If you “repin” them, you will want to sort the pins into boards. After browsing through a few pinboards from friends, you will probably have a pretty good idea of what topics you want to focus on. You can always rename and rearrange your pinboards so don’t worry too much about getting them “just right."

Step 5: Start Pinning

Now you are ready to start pinning! The easiest thing to do on Pinterest is to “repin” something that is already there. As you are browsing on Pinterest, you will find the image of photos on a wall that you want to repin to your own boards. Hover over the picture with your mouse and the option will appear to either “repin” or “like” it. If you choose “repin," it will prompt you to categorize it to one of your boards. Just choose Gallery Walls and click on repin. You can also automatically share this pin on twitter or facebook by using the buttons at the bottom.

What if you want to pin something you find on another website? You can go to “add a pin” and then enter the url and description. Or the easiest way is to just add the bookmarklet by dragging the “pin it” link to your brower toolbar. As strictly a "looky-loo" right now, this is where Pinterest gets outside of my expertise. If you want to know more, check out the help section on the Pinterest site or ask an active pinning friend.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

LABOR DAY MENU: Steak & Potato Kabobs

Wondering what to slap on the BBQ this Labor Day weekend? Fret no more. This Southwestern recipe from is a light twist on a normally heavy meal. They are great for larger groups because you can stretch the meat without feeling like you are skimping. Serve with corn on the cob and you've got yourself a fantastic low calorie meal.

~Steak & Potato Kabobs with Creamy Cilantro Sauce~

Serves: 4
Total Time: 40 minutes

8 - 10-12 inch skewers
1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves, minced
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar, or cider vinegar
2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chile powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
8 new or baby red potatoes
1 1/4 pounds strip steak, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
2 poblano peppers , or 1 large green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large sweet onion, cut into 1-inch chunks

1) Combine cilantro, vinegar, sour cream, garlic, chile powder, cumin and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
2) Preheat grill to high.
3) Place potatoes in a microwave-safe container. Cover and microwave on High until just tender when pierced with a fork, 3 to 3 1/2 minutes.
4) Toss the potatoes, steak and pepper pieces with oil and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl.
5) Thread the potatoes, steak, peppers and onion chunks onto 8 skewers.
6) Grill, turning once or twice, until the steak reaches desired doneness, about 6 minutes for medium. Serve the kabobs with the reserved sauce.

Nutrition Profile:
Diabetes appropriate Low calorie Low carbohydrate Low sodium High potassium High Protein Gluten free

Nutrition Per serving: 271 calories; 9 g fat (3 g sat,4 g mono); 65 mg cholesterol; 17 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 30 g protein; 2 g fiber; 368 mg sodium; 786 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C & Zinc (35% daily value), Potassium (22% dv), Iron (15% dv).