Tuesday, September 2, 2014

August FOTM: Smashbox Camera Ready BB {Guest Post}

As it turns out, there are too many foundations to try and too little time! My friend Erin, who blogs over at The Law School Transplant, has been raving about the Smashbox Camera Ready BB all summer.  When I realized I wouldn't get to test it out as a Foundation of the Month, I asked her to do a guest post since it sounds like EXACTLY the kind of product I'm looking for (and, thankfully, she obliged).

Walk this way to check out Erin's (glowing) review of Smashbox Camera Ready BB!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

July FOTM: Dr. Jart

My quest for the "perfect" foundation continues! In case you missed it, I'm searching for a great medium+ coverage foundation that will hold up in the Southern humidity - particularly on my oily chin - without breaking me out, but it can't be too fussy to apply & has to come in under $40.  I'm not asking for much, right?

Over the summer I've been focusing on BB & CC Creams and allowing them a layer of BareMinerals on top to achieve the medium- to full-coverage I'm after.

($33 for 1.5 fl. oz.)

Arguably, this is the BB that started it all.  Originated in Korea for patients post-cosmetic surgery, it was designed to nourish as well as conceal (the Beauty Mama says it's improved her skin over time, too!)  The Dr. Jart is free of parabens and sulfates, and is supposed to be great on acne-prone skin (that's me!).  I've been dying to try this one for ages (this was on my original FOTM list back in January)!

My Day 1 discovery says it all: I didn't need mineral foundation on top!!!

Ok, I'll back up.  Dr. Jart dispenses easily from a pump tube (or squeeze tube if you've been lucky enough to find the 0.66 oz size for $18).  It applies easily with fingers, provided that you do it in stages.  What do I mean by that? The cream begins to thicken up and set pretty quickly, so unlike the em CC that you could put a whole face-worth in your hand and apply like lotion, I usually dispensed and applied 2-3 smaller amounts.  Because of the way it sets, I usually had to dig out a blending sponge to clean things up around my eyebrows and hairline, but even then it was only a five-second detour. 

But once it sets, oh my goodness, how gorgeous! The slightly yellow undertones cancelled out all the redness and completely hid the spots on my skin.  It set without settling, leaving me looking poreless and wrinkle-free.  

Overall grade: A.  I mean, really, who could ask for more? I was sad to move on when August 1st came and I'm eager to stock my makeup bag with a full size bottle.  The only drawback I can imagine is that it only comes in a single shade.  Having a Snow White complexion pays off here, as I had no trouble matching, but if the product doesn't magically color match as well as it claims, it could be a problem for women with darker skin.

Monday, July 14, 2014

On Being Paleo In the South {Broccoli Salad Recipe}

There's no point in mincing words: eating healthy in the South is difficult, regardless of how you define "healthy". When I moved to Georgia in 2001, I was a vegetarian and was shocked to discover that the seemingly safe-to-my-lifestyle "veggie plate" was comprised almost entirely of veggies which had been cooked with some kind of animal fat!

I find myself in a similar conundrum lately as I settle in to a Paleo lifestyle.  This time, it isn't the animal fat that bothers me, though.  Rather, it is the hidden carbs (must we bread everything?), incessant sweetening (you've heard of Sweet Tea, right?), and cheesy-creaminess of a huge majority of traditional Southern dishes.  Couple that with the inescapable family clan dynamic that still exists (it's like peer pressure, only worse), and it's starts to feel impossible to navigate the food table at the innumerable barbecues, holiday celebrations, and family reunions.

Enter my summer savoir: broccoli salad.  Broccoli salad is one of Daddy M's favorite traditional dishes.  I developed his perfect broccoli salad in time for his 30th birthday party and it has become my go-to take-along to every summer gathering we host or attend (usually I get conned into making a second batch to hide in the fridge for Daddy M to snack on during the following week because we never, ever bring home leftovers).  My challenge at Fourth of July was creating a Paleo version to match the popularity of the original.

Thankfully, this was already a no-grain, no dairy recipe.  I substituted homemade Paleo mayo for the traditional Kraft mayo in the original recipe and palm sugar to replace the refined sugar.  I served both versions (labeled) side-by-side on the Fourth and the resounding verdict was that they tasted exactly the same! Victory!

Broccoli salad is a great accompaniment to hot dogs or hamburgers on the grill or, as I discovered with some precious leftovers, chicken thighs (the ones in the photo are the amazing Honey Mustard Thighs from The Paleo Kitchen cookbook, as shared on Nom Nom Paleo).  A few forkfuls are also delightful with a boiled egg for breakfast on the fly.


  • 1 cup Paleo mayo
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
  • Scant 1/4 cup palm sugar
  • 1 head of broccoli or even better, 1 bag of broccoli florets, trimmed to bite-sized pieces
  • 8 pieces of bacon, cooked crispy and chopped 
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup green onions (white and green parts), chopped - this usually works out to be two whole green onions
  • 1/4 cup pecan pieces, chopped (it honestly doesn't matter if they're toasted - being in the dressing will soften them again; if you're desperate for crunchy pecans, use toasted and add just before serving)

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together mayo, vinegar and sugar.  Stir in the broccoli and toss to coat. Gently stir in bacon, raisins, onions and pecans.  Yep, it's that easy.

This is best made the night before or first thing in the morning if you will be serving in the afternoon or evening to give the flavors a chance to get to know each other before you devour them.  You will want to give the whole salad a good stir again just before serving - because the palm sugar doesn't dissolve in the mayo as well as the white sugar, the dressing remains a little runny and tends to settle at the bottom.

What's your go-to summer recipe for gatherings?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Book Review: The Perfume Collector

I love to read.  You probably can't tell from any of my recent posts (I think the last time I mentioned a book was my review of Lean In last September), but its true.  This doesn't mean I haven't read anything since then.  But very few books survived the hundred page rule, especially because I've been pretty wiped out tired lately.

However, within the last month I took a sabbatical from my (two) book clubs and gave myself license to read any old thing I wanted! (Gasp!)

The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro was the first thing that caught my eye at Target after announcing my sabbatical, and I gleefully breezed through it in under a week! (Although I bought it in paperback, at the time I hit publish on this review, the Kindle version of The Perfume Collector was only $1.99 on Amazon!)

Tessaro weaves the story of Grace, a London socialite in the 1950's who receives an unexpected inheritance and sets off to discover the identity of her mysterious benefactor.  Her search takes her to Paris, and vicariously to New York City in the 1920s, as she learns her benefactor, Eva's story and how it ties in with her own (albeit somewhat predictably in the end).

Throughout the novel, scent and sensory memory play a significant role.  Different cultural approaches to the role of perfume also feature without derailing the story with a heavy philosophical discussion.  For example, a Russian perfumer whose work Eve inspires scoffs at the growing Anglo-American idea of having a signature scent, preferring instead an arsenal of varied fragrances to suit different moods.

(Are you a signature-scent wearer, or do you go with your mood? I'm a signature-scent gal myself - I've worn Burberry Classic since 1999.)

This was the perfect summer read for a history- and culture-loving girly girl who wants an adventurous European vacation but won't get one anytime soon!  Tessaro's descriptions of stylish Paris and sparkling Cannes supplied plenty of daydream fodder.

Highly recommended classy chick lit!

Disclosure: this post contains an Amazon affiliate link.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Paleoversery Favorites

Six months ago yesterday, on almost a whim, I started my first Whole 30.  In some ways, I can't believe it's been half a year already since I "went Paleo": I still feel like a newbie on a lot of days.  But the changes in food choices - not just the eliminations but the increase of nutrient dense foods - have admittedly worked their way into habits and I've never felt better.

So in honor of my 6 month Paleoversery, I'm sharing some of my Paleo favorites (so far):
Favorite Breakfast: Danielle Walker's Smoky Sweet Potato Hash.  This is so easy to make, so delicious, and so filling!  It also stores well and reheats in seconds.  If you don't like heat first thing in the morning, try substituting cinnamon for the chili powder and paprika for the cayenne (this is Mouse's preferred variation).
Favorite Lunch: Chicken or Tuna Salad of almost any kind, but especially my Buffalo Chicken Salad or this Sweet Potato Tuna Salad from Eating Bird Food (made with Paleo mayo in place of hummus)
(I wanted to include a favorite dinner but I've honestly loved everything I've made and can't pick.  My Paleo Pinterest boards will give you an idea of some of the wonderful dinners I've made.) 
Pot-Luck Winner: Garlic Cauliflower "Mashed Potatoes" by Nom Nom Paleo.  If I were still a California girl, I may never have tried this recipe.  But marrying Daddy M over a dozen years ago forced me to rethink the food I bring to gatherings.  The basic rules in the South are that if it can't be served in a 9x13 it is probably not worth having, and lots of butter and/or cheese is required.  I took this to Easter with the fam and it was a huge hit! (Trick: if you're going to double or triple the batch like I did, save yourself some time and $$ and use frozen cauliflower - 1 bag = about 1 head.)
Surprise Favorite: Michelle Tam's Stir Fried Kale with Bacon.  I mean, everything is better with bacon, so this should not have been a surprise.  But I was not a major kale fan (and neither was the family) until I tried this recipe.  Now I always have to plan on sharing! (And, yes, that's leftovers with an egg for breakfast in the photo. I sometimes wake up craving kale, if you can believe that!)
Favorite Website: There are so many great ones out there (and I'm still discovering new ones daily!) that I didn't actually start buying cookbooks until a month ago.  Going by most-used, my favorites would have to be Nom Nom Paleo and Against All Grain.
I'm always up for trying something new - what are your Paleo favorites?