Monday, July 23, 2012

Easy being green

This past Saturday, my boyfriend and I abandoned all efforts to eat healthily by treating ourselves to some Mexican food, margaritas (note the plural), and some pretty epic frozen yogurt creations. Looking back at that night, I'm definitely glad I wore that skirt - not only because it's absolutely stunning, but... it has an elastic waistband :) 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

An important to-do

So it's getting late here and I'm winding down for the night. Besides the nightly pampering routine, this also entails looking at where I need to be and what I need to do the next day. This ritual, in all its preparatory glory, was what made me post tonight instead of going to bed earlier than my borderline-narcoleptic tendencies would prefer (not really, but you know what I mean).

What, you may ask, was more important than my beauty sleep? The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale!

Yep... I actually had a calendar reminder that it starts tomorrow. For the next 17 days, select items from Nordstrom's Fall collection will be on sale for their debut in the stores. That is plenty of time to check out the goods, but I usually take an early peek at the online catalog, see what items I want besides my annual hanky panky restock, and get to the store before things are no longer available.

Last year, I took advantage of this sale to revamp my cold weather clothing for my third winter in DC but never actually had to use any of those purchases because of my move to Florida (sigh, living the hard life). This year, I'm looking for more timeless basics that I can use any time of the year and know I would have to buy at some point anyway. Skinny jeans, light sweaters, and maybe some brown flat riding boots will be on my scope out list.

And now that the event has a prominent place on tomorrow's list of to-dos, I can sleep soundly :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

You didn't know you wanted... These Emi-Jay Hair Ties

Tomorrow marks the end of my first week with my new job - the end of a whirlwind 7 days. I have honestly loved it so much that it just seemed like a continuation of the vacation I took recently. One of the reasons the last week has gone by so quickly is that a lot of my time working is actually spent going to various exercise classes and meeting the local community's incredible fitness instructors.

Somehow, when I went to Pure Barre last week, I forgot a hair tie. And considering the fact that I'm definitely not one of those girls who just has perfect hair before, during, and after a workout, I was desperate enough to ask the front desk for a rubber band (ouch, I know). Luckily, the Pure Barre employee pointed out their stash of super cute Emi-Jay hair ties for sale. After picking the jaguar collection shown above, trying it out through a pretty invigorating class, and actually having dent-less hair when I took the hair tie out, I was hooked.

These hair ties not only make as much of a statement as any other accessory would, but they're also made out of a stretchy material that won't leave traces of a pony tail after you take them out. When you are using them, their thicker bands give your pony tail much more bounce than your run-of-the-mill goodie ouchless hair tie. Speaking of that type of hair tie, I know they are less expensive, but with the Emi-Jays, you don't have to increase the number of times you wrap it around your hair each new time you wear it. Their elasticity stays the way you bought it.

If the jaguar collection isn't exactly your style, they have quite a few different colors and prints to choose from. Now that I know about the Emi-Jay site, those five hair ties definitely won't be my last purchase. I'm loving the neon collection and may just have to sport the Go USA collection while the Olympics are happening.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Lotions and Potions: beautyblender® blendercleanser

Ahhh, Monday. I have to admit that this is the only Monday morning I can remember that I was actually excited to get going in the morning. Today was day three of my new job (details soon!), and I was ready for the week ahead. I had groceries to make green smoothies for breakfast, hazelnut coffee to replace a frenzied starbucks run, and a lunch bag full of healthy goodies for throughout the day. My new Sunday routine really smoothed out a typically groggy and chaotic Monday morning.

Another part of my Sunday routine besides grocery shopping and getting to bed early is cleaning my makeup brushes. As a habit I picked up during the epic skin battle I told you about in this post, cleaning my brushes is a critical part of keeping any blemishes in check - especially after a few days of traveling. That's why I am so happy that Birchbox introduced me to the beautyblender® blender cleanser.

Although this cleanser was originally meant to be used with the beauty blender, it is perfect for any makeup application tool. Radiating a slight lavender scent, it removes any impurities from your brushes like oil or bacteria (you know, those pesky starters of an acne riot). The formula is soy-based, so it is a natural moisturizer for your brushes and doesn't have any artificial dyes or potential irritants.

At $17.95 per 6oz bottle, it is on the pricier end of the brush cleanser shopping spectrum, but I'd rather take good care of my brushes than spend another $50 on each new one!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


The past few days, my boyfriend and I have been staying with his family at a magnificent lake house in South Carolina - the vacation I mentioned in this post while I was daydreaming about a Tory Burch weekend bag.

These days, however, reality is much sweeter than day dreams. We're inundated by stunning views, savoring tasty meals, and oblivious of the hours passing, simply grateful for the quality time.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Quinoa Curry

Before I started practicing yoga, I had never tried Indian food. Takeout Thai menus tempted me to dabble in the red, green, and panang curries, but the closest I got to trying real Indian food was garlic naan in the Trader Joe's frozen food isle.

Now that my yoga teacher training program is halfway complete, India's culture and history isn't as foreign to me. And considering food is a pretty dominant aspect of my cultural perception of any country, I decided to go to the grocery store, buy some curry powder, and experiment in the kitchen.

The final recipe turned out to be fast, inexpensive, and well rounded - perfect for a mid-week meal when I want to make something that will last two nights.

For this recipe, you'll need:

1 1/2 cups quinoa, pre-rinsed
3 cups vegetable broth
2 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp for each pan used
A mixture of your favorite veggies, diced
(I used one large zucchini, two yellow squash, and one medium yellow onion)
2 Tbsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp curry powder
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 16oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

This will make enough for 5 full servings (or two dinners for two people and a bonus leftover lunch!)

1. Pre-cut, measure, and rinse all the ingredients above

2. Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven on med

3. Add the onion and garlic, sauté for ~3 minutes

4. Add the zucchini and squash, sauté another ~3 minutes

5. Add the quinoa, sauté for ~1 minute

6. Add the vegetable broth, curry powder, and chili powder, bring to a boil

7. Once the mixture is boiling, lower the heat and cover. Cook until all the broth is absorbed (~10-15 minutes)

8. Heat the olive oil in a separate pan and add the garbanzo beans. Sauté until crispy

9. Fold the garbanzo beans into the quinoa mixture after all the broth is absorbed, and voilà!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Fourth of July frolicking

Yesterday was pretty low key for my boyfriend and me, especially since the weather apparently wasn't aware of our plans outside. The sky did clear up later in the evening just in time for dinner and then fireworks on the beach. I decided to wear this tribal print cutout dress instead of other patriotic outfits, namely because I'm not sure how long those trends are going to last and I hadn't worn it yet :)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day!! For those of you not in the U.S., I hope you're having a very happy July 4th as well :)

As you know from my "Monumental Moments" post, I was fortunate enough to work on Capitol Hill for 2 years. During that time, one of the Members of Congress was nice enough to bring me and a few others along on an exclusive tour of the Capitol Dome - and it was absolutely breathtaking. The picture above was taken on the outside of the highest standing point of the Dome, overlooking the Supreme Court.

I know, I know... the outfit was a bit plain, but nothing I wore could have taken attention away from the view behind me. I'll be posting my red, white, and blue outfit tomorrow - in the meantime, have a blissful, bright, and safe day celebrating!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Lotions and Potions: Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil

I recently went to Sephora for some green eyeliner - the Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in "Covet" to be exact. They were sold out of that color, so instead of patiently waiting for an online order to be shipped or for that store to restock, I decided to call an audible and get another shade I had been craving. Since that day, my hazel eyes have been complemented perfectly by the sparkly eggplant hue, "Crash".

Fast Forward to yesterday and I see the "Covet" Urban Decay Pencil at Sephora in stock. Not only was I pleasantly reminded of a product I've been wanting to try, but -wait for it- I got the eye pencil in a shade I wanted even more for free (kind of)!! And you can too (kind of)!

It turns out that one of the Beauty Insider 100 point perks right now is a deluxe sample of the Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in "Junkie" - a new deep, sparkly green color that isn't even sold at Sephora yet. I totally threw all efforts to save up Beauty Insider points to the (perfume-filled) wind and got 2 of them.

These waterproof eye pencils, in short, are perfect. Their color is amazingly vibrant, they can smudge if you want them to, and they. stay. put. It isn't a battle to take the color off with the appropriate makeup removing gear, but you definitely won't have to worry about the green shade making your eyes look like the Hulk hasn't gotten any sleep.

I've gone through my fair share of different types of eyeliner pencils and I will have to be thoroughly convinced to buy another brand. Urban Decay offers everything you could want in an eyeliner pencil in any color you could want as well. They're a bit pricey at $19.00 each for the full-size pencil, but this 100-point perk is the perfect way to try them out if you're not sold quite yet.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Monday blues (and pinks)

Mondays are always full of bittersweet feelings for me. The weekend is over, but the memories of a rejuvenating and playful two days are still so fresh. Last weekend, my boyfriend and I started a new show on Netflix, ate leftovers, and shared a bottle (or two) of wine on our balcony. So today, to wake up from a mild hibernation, we went out for dinner and reveled in more time near the beach.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Monday!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Monumental Moments

All of the attention on Washington, DC lately has stimulated me to reflect on my own time and experience working and living on Capitol Hill. The U.S. Capitol building became symbolic of my time there when, as a young summer intern, I would look up at the Statue of Freedom every day on my walk from the metro to the House Office Buildings and think to myself, "I'll be back." No, no... I didn't think that with a Terminator-esque accent, rather with the confidence any late college student tries to muster when looking beyond graduation.

It turned out that I was fortunate enough to return to Capitol Hill, with that same statue leaving a permanent mark on what my idea of future promise looks like. So when I decided to expand my perception of opportunity and success by moving to Florida, I knew an image of the Capitol building and the Statue of Freedom would continue to inspire in me that intern-like feeling.

Eastern Market in the Southeast part of the District was the perfect place to look for personally significant prints that I was looking for. The artist of these paintings came to the U.S. after the Georgia-Russia conflict of 2008 and has just of an emotional commitment to the Capitol as I do.

These seasonal prints express the energy of time passing and through that, spark a kind of carpe diem (seize the day) disposition. It's the artwork that has sentiment and a story behind it that means the most to me and truly makes my apartment a home.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

You didn't know you wanted... homemade stationery

A personal note sent through the mail is quite possibly one of the most genuine ways to show someone that they're appreciated. I actually mail a little hello every week in addition to whatever birthday or holiday cards I write. So when I saw some blank stock cards, a glitter set, and glue pen at T.J. Maxx for only $7, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to make my handwritten "texts" even more sincere.

To make these, you simply use the glue pen to transcribe your message as you would a normal pen and then pour the glitter on the glue surface before it dries. I removed the excess glitter by hanging the card over a piece of scrap paper and funneling it back into the glitter container. When sending the note in the mail, place a note card in between the glitter and the inside of the envelope to protect your handy work :)

What's your favorite kind of stationery? Do you ever send notes through the mail just because?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Six Spice Shrimp

Kimberly Snyder's Beauty Detox Solution has had a substantial impact on my meal planning since I read it... twice. One major change that even my hamburger and steak lover of a boyfriend has embraced because of this book is that we try to only eat meat once or twice a week. For a difference source of protein, we incorporate a lot of seafood into our dinners and this six spice shrimp is one of our favorites - it doesn't hurt that it's one of the easiest, too!

There are two ways that you could prepare this shrimp: one which makes them a little crispier and the other, as you'll see below, gives you softer shrimp that I like to have if I'm planning on reheating leftovers for dinner the next night as well.

For this recipe you'll need:

1lb Peeled and de-veined shrimp, rinsed and completely dry
1 Tbsp Sugar
1 Tbsp Paprika
1/2 Tsp Salt
1/2 Tsp Garlic powder
1/2 Tsp Ground red pepper
1/2 Tsp Ground thyme
1 or 2 Tbsp Olive oil, depending on version
1/2 Bag of baby spinach

To prepare:

- Rinse the shrimp and pat dry

- Mix together six spices in bowl

- For the crispier version, add 1 Tbsp olive oil to the spice mixture and fold in shrimp. Add shrimp to large pan for sautéing

- For the softer version, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in the sauté pan on medium heat. Add the shrimp to the pan first, cook for ~1 minute, then mix in the spices to cover the shrimp

 - For both versions, sauté the shrimp until opaque and serve over a bed of raw spinach when done.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Lotions and Potions: Shea Terra Authentic African Black Soap

A little over a year ago, my skin decided to mutiny. My jawline and cheeks were on a mission to sabotage any picture that I wanted to take or big event that I wanted to attend. I literally tried everything. After seeing multiple dermatologists, racking up a ridiculous amount of Sephora Beauty Insider points, and getting three chemical peels, I finally found Shea Terra. I have been looking for acne solutions for so long that, quite frankly, I don't remember how I discovered this sublime bar of soap. All I know is that I'm glad I did.

This soap is a 100% natural solution for firmer, blemish free skin. I personally follow the instructions on the Shea Terra website and lather the soap on my face and leave it on as a mask for a few minutes before rinsing and lathering my face again. It is honestly worth the time. Even after one use of this soap, my skin improved. It tightens my pores and really goes to work on any existing blemishes while preventing new ones. I bought a cute soap holder like this one from anthropologie to give the soap bar a permanent position on my sink's counter top.

Last but not least, this bar of soap is only $8.00! I was even able to beat that incredible price with an online coupon.

Are there any face washes out there that you've fallen in love with?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Debby (not a) Downer

While Tropical Storm Debby looms out in the Gulf, I've been trying to make the most of the day stuck inside instead of on the beach. Naturally, my time on the couch has led to a lot of online shopping (and maybe a youtube video or two...)

It turns out this Debby isn't so much of a downer, because I found this gem of a tote bag from none other than one of my favorite designers, Tory Burch! I had originally been looking at the 'Robinson' weekend bag for an upcoming trip to South Carolina, but unfortunately at $850, that one is going to have to stay in my dreams for a while. This canvas tote, however, will not only be perfect for a weekend away or a day on a boat, but I also plan on taking full advantage of the fold-and-zip-into-a-super-cute-leather-pouch feature. I'll be keeping it in my work bag for those days I stop at the grocery store (or Sephora, who are we kidding) and don't want to waste a plastic bag.

The best part is that all profits from buying a universally classic tote go to economically supporting women and their families at home here in the United States through the Tory Burch Foundation. Honestly, what is there not to love?!