Valentine’s Day Gift Guide | For Him

valenbloghimAnd I’m back with a Valentine’s Day Gift Guide for Him! I hope you enjoyed yesterday’s guide, and if you did, here’s a good list for those who need a little help for the opposite gender.

  1. Handmade 15-Inch Leather Messenger Bag, $109 – A sophisticated, vintage-looking messenger bag for the leather lover
  2. Native Union CLIC Wood iPhone 6 Case, $40 – A wooden inlay brings a natural element to this handcrafted Native Union iPhone case
  3. Kryptonite KryptoLok, $38.99 – A high security lock for the bike lover
  4. Converse Jack Purcell Split Tongue Jack Sneakers, $90 – These sneakers get an upgrade with a nubuck upper and smooth leather trim
  5. Baxter of California Pocket Comb, $16 – A pocket-sized comb handcrafted of polished, tortoiseshell-print acetate
  6. Tea Tree Beard Oil, $25 – An oil blend for those who prefer crisp and clean scents that uses peppermint and vanilla oils to help tame the power of the tea tree
  7. Jawbone UP, $48 – A sleep and activity tracker to help gauge your movements for a healthier lifestyle
  8. H&M Hooded Jacket, $29.95 – A hooded sweatshirt jacket with contrasting yoke, quite stylish
  9. Reclaimed Circut Board Money Clip, $18 – Upcylced and repurposed for the geeky, eco-concious man in your life
  10. Highland Green Ribbed Socks, $12.50 – Who doesn’t need a nice pair of socks?
  11. Michael Kors ‘Gage’ Chronograph Leather Strap Watch, $225 – An investment piece with a classic look
  12. Philosykos Eau de Parfum, $140 – A luxurious woody scent with fig leaves and white cedar
  13. Malin + Goetz Essentials Travel Kit, $30 – A colour-coded set of miniature bottles with two products each for his face, body and hair
  14. Bamboo Charcoal Facial Soap, $10 – Activated Bamboo Charcoal draws out impurities and toxins which is perfect for oily/congested skin while also being very gentle
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Valentine’s Day Gift Guide | For Her

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Valentine’s Day is coming up fast and if you’re struggling to find your love (or yourself, or even your BFFs! Galentine’s Day is a thing, you know.) I’ve got a list of great buys with a price point for everyone. A Valentine’s Day gift guide for him is coming up tomorrow – so be sure to check back!

  1. Stella by Stella McCartney Eau de Parfum Travel Spray, $22 – A fragrance based on the contrast between the fresh, soft rose and the dark, sensual amber
  2. Aromatherapy Associates Ultimate Bath Jewels, $93 – An indulgent gift for the bath lover
  3. The Kiss Lip Scrub by Lush Cosmetics, $9.95 – A perfect way to prep lips for an extended smooch session
  4. Hourglass Opague Rouge Liquid Lipstick Mini in Canvas, $10 – A luxurious mini liquid lipstick, great for hiding in a clutch
  5. Art of Instruction Botanical Journals, $12.95 – Lovely vintage looking journals to keep handy for list making
  6. The New York Times: 36 Hours 125 Weekends in Europe, $39.99 – Dream weekends with practical itineraries for someone with a case of wanderlust
  7.  KeepCup 12-Ounce Brew Glass Reusable Coffee Cup, $24 – Perfectly sized cup for an on the go coffee or tea (usually tea for me)
  8. Hario Chaor 4-Cup Tea Maker, $59.95 – A high-tech Japenese tea maker that brews both loose leaf and tea bags for the ultimate tea lover
  9. Moon & Lola I Woke Up Like This Coffee Mug, $28 – A perfect gift for that flawless person (or Beyonce fanatic) in your life
  10. Wildflowers Boxes from West Elm, $79 – A home for all those pretty baubles she wears
  11. Foiled Heart Sweatshirt, $49.95 – Who doesn’t want to be comfy and cute?
  12. Half Circle Studs by tiro tiro, $75 – Modern and minimal, so pretty
  13. Prince Charming Shower Gel by Lush Cosmetics, $9.95 – 29.95 – An intoxicating fruity perfume, skin-softening oils and a gentle touch
  14. Cashmere Matte Essie Nail Polish in Coat Couture (found in most drugstores), $8.50  – A deep purple shimmer over compelling greige tops off any look with an air of mystery

Thoughts on Target’s New Plus Size Line, AVA & VIV

If you have been around the plus sized fashion community in the last few years, you’ll know that Target has received a lot of backlash lately due to its poor plus size style range and its lack of availability in their stores. Plus sized folks started voicing their displeasure on social media. It’s been a frustrating experience because I find as a plus size woman that it is imperative to be able to try on clothes before purchasing them. And only if I am familiar with a brand and how their sizing works on my body do I really feel comfortable ordering clothes online. I’m sure that is something people of all sizes like to do.

So why are plus sized women not given the chance by stores like Target and Old Navy? Instead we are banished to the realms of online shopping, hoping that they will fit, or be doomed to participate in the process of shipping back unwanted or ill-fitting clothes. However, after the previously mentioned backlash, Target has decided to step up its game and bring out a new plus-sized range called AVA & VIV, which will be available online starting February 22 and being offered in-stores  starting mid-February. I should also mention that Target is offering plus sizes in their new collaboration with Lily Pulitzer x Target that will be launching in the Spring, but only online for plus sizes.

Target has offered an exclusive look at all the new pieces at Refinery29, so be sure to check them all out there. I have selected a few of the pieces I’ll be most interested when the items hit the stores in February, take a look below. Additional thoughts on the line will also be below.

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I’m really looking forward to these four pieces. I really enjoy structured jackets and I love classic black and white stripes (priced at $27.99). The printed shirt looks great but I’ll have to see how it lays on my body before purchasing.

Jeans! I really like the jeans. Fingers crossed they fit well and flatter my figure. The shorts I’ll be trying on but I’m not entirely sold on how well they will look on my legs.

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This wrap skirt (priced at $24.99) might be my favorite item coming out. I think it will sit beautifully and it will be fun to pair with bright tops like the ones above (coral blouse, $22.99).

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The other pair of jeans (priced at $29.99) I’m excited to give a go. Target has really tried to keep the pricing low, which is something I really appreciate because as a plus size woman I’m usually spending anywhere between $60-$90 for a pair of ‘just okay’ jeans.

I’ve yet to find an chambray shirt (coming in at $24.99) that I like well enough to buy. Might this be the one? Here’s hoping! Basic tees (only $10) are a must but this is not something new at Target and have been among their plus size offering for a long time now.

So I have just a few thoughts on the new Target line. I’ll be honest — I’m not bowled over by the items. It appears to all be very similar to items that I have seen at Target before. I was expecting a bit more ‘oomph!’ from the range. I feel that Target should have come out with a bang in order to make up for this past mishaps and after tarnishing their relationship with us consumers.

However, I think they will do well with this line but in the future I hope they take more chances. I appreciate that the line will offer lower prices on basic items that need to be in my wardrobe but I won’t be making any full outfits out of AVA & VIV.

What are your thoughts? Are you happy with the new line?

Marc Jacobs’ Little Black Box

A few months ago I picked up the Marc Jacobs The Sky-Liner Seven Piece Petite Highliner Collection ($45available at Sephora) because I had received a deluxe sample of the liner in Brown(out) and I was quite impressed with it. I had been on the hunt for an eyeliner that I could use on my tight line without smudging or transferring and the sample was working out really well for me!

As I was searching for the full size in both brown and black I found the petite set. I was excited about that because I don’t usually go through my eyeliner very quickly, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to try out some other colors. Gotta love those pops of color, right?

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The packaging is to die for! But that’s to be expected from Marc Jacobs. Sleek, modern and timeless.

So how did the liners fair in the long run? The liners come in a Gel-like formula, very creamy and pigmented — super easy to smudge out, if that’s the look you want. But once the product sets, it is set! I think that makes the eyeliners so versatile.  With the exception of the black, they all come with a bit of a metallic sheen to them. Some may not like that but it’s something that I really like.

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I still love Brown(out) the most for tight lining. I found that Blacquer was a bit too creamy at times but workable. I use it the most at the base of my lashes and then smudge it out a little. The other colors are just really fun to play with! I really like Sunset (golden bronze shimmer) when I’m working with warm toned shadows.

One downside? The black was almost a bit too creamy and I had difficulty with the product wanting to break off of the packaging. I have to use a gentle hand when applying. However, I did not have this issue with any of the other colors.

Have you tried the Marc Jacobs Highliners? If not, what are some of your favorite liners? 

Swatches below!

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Perfect Palette: Work Edition

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Do you work 40 hours a week at an office job like me? Do you struggle in the morning looking at all your eyeshadow options, perhaps it’s overwhelming? (It certainly is for me. I have quite the collection, and I can really only see it growing.) Or maybe you’re someone that prefers to have only a handful of go-to beauty products to keep things simplified. Well, regardless of your situation, the Too Faced Natural Eyes Palette is a must for any makeup lover.

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Seriously. As you can see from my well-loved palette above, I use this sucker almost everyday. I just find it so work appropriate and you can do so much with it. A neutral matte eye, a more rosy colored satin eye shadow look, or you can gold it up and really smoke out each trio for an evening look on the go.

I would say on first application to just use a light hand. These shadows really go a long way and last a long time. As you can see with my palette, I use it almost every day  and there’s barely a dent in the shadows.

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I cannot say enough good things about this palette. The price is right (just $36!) and the shadows themselves are perfection – soft, great pigmentation, and smooth upon application. They also blend so easily that it’s rather hard to mess up! Might I also say that this palette is perfect for travel? It’s compact and the matte shadows can double up as a way to fill in your brows.

Swatches below!

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Friday Five & a #Selfie

I hope your work (or school) week is winding down nicely and thank God it’s Friday, right? I wanted to share with you some of the things I found on the internet this week that I thought was interesting, awesome and/or inspiring.

  • A favorite beauty blogger & Youtuber of mine, Anna from Vivianna Does Makeup, was featured today on Into the Gloss’ #ITGTopShelfie, take a look here!
  • Remember the two gay dads that took a photo last year doing their daughters’s hair in the morning? Well….now they have a Nikon commercial. And it is AWESOME. I love when major brands & companies do campaigns like this.
  • Cora from VintageorTacky did an insanely stunning and unique Acid Green & Burgundy makeup look. I can’t wait to try to emulate this look from Cora’s tutorial.
  • One of the best Plus Sized blogger & vloggers out there, Sarah Rae aka RavingsbyRae, has started this awesome body positive series called #DearFatGirl and her most recent video was a favorite of mine so far and really hit home for me.
  • Are any of you going to miss Parks & Rec as much as I will when it airs its finale this Spring? SO SAD. Well here’s an awesome Reddit thread where fans explain why they’ll miss the feminism of Parks & Rec.

And now for a little story!

I was spacing out a bit this morning while getting ready for work and I was not paying attention to the time,  so as I was walking out my front gate to catch the train this morning I saw it was whizzing right by me! Whomp whomp, I missed my train and I was going to be late. 

I decided that as long as I still had another 10 minutes to wait for the next train, why not take a selfie? I was feeling pretty confident with my makeup application for the day and one of my New Years resolutions was trying to become more comfortable with taking photos of myself, because duh, I was starting a blog and that would be important.

So here’s the result of missing my train and having a mini photoshoot. All bundled up because brrr, it’s cold outside!

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NARS Audacious Lipsticks

What can I say about these lipsticks that hasn’t already been said? Not much, that’s for sure! But I had to throw my own praises in with the rest. These pricey (yikes $32!) lipsticks are one hundred and ten percent worth the money.

NARS has hit it out of the park with these lipsticks.

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As you can see, I went with three very different shades. I don’t have the money (nor the time) to purchase and wear the full range of shades. I mulled over each and every color for several weeks to decide which shades I should get.

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I knew I wanted a classic red so I set my sights on Marlene. It’s described as a brick red with a satin finish and a warm undertone. It leans slightly more towards the orange side of red. I liked the vintage-y vibe I was getting from it and I knew the warm undertone would work well with my pale, warm undertone skin.

Janet was the first shade I picked up! I wanted something bold that would be make me feel excited, and Janet is right up that alley. She’s a fuchsia with a pearl finish and cool undertones. I love wearing this shade with a neutral eye and basic black outfit. It really stands out.

Everyone needs a nude, everyday kinda shade, right? That’s where Anna fit right in. I wanted something I could wear on a regular basis at my day job and something that would match most looks. Anna is a pinky nude with a semi-matte finish and a neutral undertone. Simply gorgeous and probably my favorite of the trio.

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Have you picked up any of the NARS Audacious Lipsticks? What shades are your favorite?

Swatches are below the cut!

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FIRST IMPRESSION: Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush Palette

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Ahh, such a beauty, right? I had been eyeing this stunning palette for several months now. I kept putting it in my shopping cart and then taking it back out. I finally bit the bullet last week when I stopped in Sephora to pick up another item.

This is what Sephora.com has to say about the palette:

Evoke a luminous glow with this soft-focus cheek palette. Hourglass has fused Ambient Lighting Powder, its cutting-edge collection of finishing powders, with an array of vivid cheek colors, creating a hybrid product that is unique, contemporary, and revolutionary. Infused with Photoluminescent Technology to create depth and dimension, this blush does not fall flat and is lightweight, amplifying the colors to a multidimensional level, and leaving the entire complexion with an otherworldly glow.

I have been using the palette for just over a week now and I’m a little disappointed at this point. Let me explain though! I simply expected a bit more out the blush if I’m being completely honest. It does offer a subtle glow but the pigmentation is lacking a little bit which may be due to the intentional soft-focus formula. Pigmentation happens to be an important feature for me when it comes to blushes.

However! I do think this is the kind of product that will grow on me and I will end up head over heels in love with it. I have very fair skin so typically I have to use a light hand with my blushes because color shows up very easily on my cheeks. I did have to go back for two or three more swirls with my blush brush with this product than I normally do.

Favorite color so far, you ask? Hands down Luminous Flush (champagne rose) is MY color! I tend towards the rosier shades anyways – it’s just what looks best with my skin tone. Today while doing my makeup I mixed Luminous Flush with Incandescent Electra (cool peach), which is the limited edition blush that only comes in this palette, and it turned out beautifully. But again, the pigmentation left a little to be desired for me. I look forward to using Mood Exposure (soft plum) more with some darker looks, perhaps with a smokey eye? I think that’s where the subtly of the blush will shine best.

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The packaging is spectacular and of course, it should be!

Overall, I think the blushes are natural looking and sit beautifully on the cheeks — they are also long wearing, lasting 6-8 hours on me while fading softly throughout the work day. I do think the product was hyped up more than it should have been but I do find that they are worth the money and I would buy again.

Have you picked up this blush palette? If so, what are your thoughts?