Wednesday, February 15, 2012

January Favorites

Happy Valentine's Day!  I attempted to make red velvet pancakes in heart shapes but it was an epic fail.  My stove turned into a red sea of burnt batter.  So I spent most of my morning cleaning up my kitchen.   My sweet daughter made me 2 kinds of homemade fudge and my husband came home with even more chocolate.  Umm...are they trying to fatten me up?  My husband made it a point to tell me that I have another gift but apparently it hasn't come in the mail yet.  Hmm...wonder what it could be?

Anyway, here's what I've been loving this past month:

1.  Mac Fix+

My skin tends to get very dry during the winter.  I love to spray Fix+ all over my face when I'm done with my makeup.  It helps rehydrate my skin and also refreshes my makeup.  In the summertime, I usually only spray this as my setting spray, but in the winter I spray it on my face all throughout the day to help my skin stay nice and hydrated.  This is one of those products that is a staple in my makeup regimen.

2.  Blueberry Craisins

Why haven't I tried these before?  I usually get the cherry craisins, but I decided to try something new and grabbed the blueberry ones this time.  The taste reminds me of the fruit snacks I used to eat as a kid.  Only these are healthy.  These are great snacks to have on the go since they're packaged in a ziplock pouch.  I used to carry the cherry ones in my purse all the time when I used to have to drive around doing work errands.  If you're looking for a healthy snack and have a sweet tooth as well, I highly recommend these.

3.  Philosophy Gingerbread Girl Bubble Bath and Shower Gel

I absolutely love this scent!  It doesn't smell like gingerbread to me though...I can't really explain the smell.  I do smell ginger in it, but an almost citrusy smell in the background.  I need to get my hands on the lotion too because the smell disappears almost instantly.  I'm hoping layering the lotion with this shower gel will help the fragrance linger longer.  I'm not a big bath person, simply because taking a shower is so much quicker, but in our new house we have a jacuzzi tub and I just can't resist.  The bath smells so good when I add this.  My daughter has been using up my supply because she loves using the tub too.  I know this is a seasonal product so I hope I'll still be able to find this somewhere and stock up.

Well that's it for favorites for this month.  I'm going to be visiting family and friends back home in Illinois next week and I can't wait to do a lot of eating and even more shopping!  (^_^)

Ciao bellas!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The BEST Red Velvet Cake

I was craving one of my favorite desserts - red velvet cake and decided to go on a hunt for the best recipe I could find.  After looking through numerous sites and reading tons of reviews I thought I found a really good one to try...and then I came across  I don't know exactly what it was about Monique's recipe that made me want to try it above all the others, but I am sure glad I did!  This was the BEST red velvet cake I've ever had!  And trust me...I've tried many.  Whenever I see red velvet cake on a menu I HAVE to try it and when the big cupcake fad came around I was trying every red velvet cupcake I could find.  This recipe yielded the most moist and just the right amount of chocolate flavored cake.  I consider myself an amateur baker so when this cake turned out as fabulous as it did I was so proud of myself!  What I'm most happy about is that I don't have to go anywhere to get my favorite red velvet cake.  It's no further than my kitchen!  This is great because although living in Italy means access to the most delicious food, sometimes I get cravings for things I just can't get here.  My favorite red velvet cupcake used to be from Molly's Bakery in Chicago, but now thanks to Monique I can make it myself whenever I want!  Yay!  *happy dance*  But now that I think about it...this might actually be dangerous...I might end up packin on some pounds!  Eek!  Oh and because I loved the red velvet cake recipe so much I decided to also try Monique's Fried Chicken and Baked Macaroni and Cheese recipes.  OMG...let's just say I'll be frequenting her site regularly.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

December Favorites

Happy New Year!  Did you make any resolutions?  Are you sticking to them?  I personally don't do resolutions.  I just think that if you decide you need to change something about yourself you shouldn't wait until the new year to do it.  But hey, that's just me.  If you have made any resolutions I do hope you haven't given up yet!  Well on to the favorites...

1. Marc by Marc Jacobs Marci Gold Watch

This was my Christmas gift from my husband.  If I'm being completely honest, I was disappointed when I opened my gift.  I even asked if I could exchange it.  I know, I know, ungrateful bitch right?  I totally felt like Rachel on Friends.  But wait!  Hear me out.  I obviously changed my mind about it because it's on my favorites list.  You see, I had been eyeing the Michael Kors chronograph watch for a while.  I really like the men's inspired style watches and this was definitely not it.  So I thought I would exchange it for one.  It sat in it's box for a few days and one day when I was getting ready I decided to put it on.  I layered it with a few bracelets and to my surprise I actually really liked how it looked!  I liked that the band was thick and the face was big just like the men's style watches, but the rounded face gave a feminine feel to it.  So see, not so ungrateful after all!  LOL

2.  Macadamia Nut Oil Deep Repair Masque

The last time I got my hair done, the stylist was shocked at how dry my hair was.  She kept saying, "Gosh, your hair is REALLY dry!"  I knew my hair was dry from color damage but it must've been really bad for her to keep reminding me.  I knew the culprit was the water here.  There's a lot of calcium in the water so we drink bottled water and I even cook with it too.  Showering with bottled water is not an option, so I bought a filtered shower head.  I also bought the Macadamia Nut Oil Deep Repair Masque that I've been hearing rave reviews about.   The reviews were right!  Upon the first use my hair was noticeably softer and silkier.  I've been using it twice a week and my hair has never looked healthier!  This will definitely be a product I will be repurchasing.

3.  Komplement Multi-use hanger

Since it's winter, I've been sporting my scarves which are all stuffed into a bin.  I wanted a way to have them organized and easily accessible and this was the perfect solution.  Now they're easy to find and honestly when they're displayed like this I am more likely to wear them more often.  When they were in a bin I would forget about the ones that sat at the bottom of the stack. 

That's it for December favorites!  Thanks for reading!


Thursday, December 15, 2011

November Favorites

I know it's the middle of December and I'm just now posting my November favorites, but I figure better late than never right?  So here they are:

1.  Pure Integrity Candles

I love to light candles in my house and Yankee Candles have been a favorite for a while....until now.  I went on a search for candles that had strong scents that filled up the whole house and preferably soy ones too.  I heard they were better to burn than wax because they were non-toxic.  Did you know wax candles produce carcinogens when burned? thanks!  My allergies have also been acting up like crazy here and soy candles are less likely to trigger them so I was glad to hear that.  I decided to try out Pure Integrity and ordered a 16oz. Vanilla Almond.  It says on their website that the scent strength is very strong and fills large areas.  It look a little over 1 week to receive it, which is pretty good for shipping to an FPO address.  It can take 4 weeks for some things I order to arrive, so I was pleasantly surprised when it came so soon.  I immediately lit my candle to see how strong the fragrance would be.  It filled up the whole apartment!  I lit it in my kitchen and I could smell it all the way in my bedroom.  I am really impressed with Pure Integrity candles.  I will definitely be ordering more very soon.  They also have great customer service.  I had a problem checking out because they didn't have an option for FPO addresses and they got back to me really quickly which I really appreciate. 

2.  Magnetic Nail Polish

I first saw magnetic nail polish on the Sephora website where they have a video tutorial on it.  I immediately added it to my cart excited to try it out.  Unfortunately, Sephora doesn't ship to FPO addresses so I was kinda bummed not to be able to buy it.  I found out magnetic nail polish has been out in Europe for a while, so I decided to go out and try to find some.  I was happy to find all different kinds in a cosmetic store at our local mall.  They had so many more shades than the Sephora website.  I decided to buy a purple one and I got a teal one for my one of my best friends who's a beauty product junkie like me.  So how it works is you're supposed to put a thick layer of it on your nail and then immediately put the magnet on top 3mm above your nail and wait 5 seconds for the magnetic effect.  I personally think it looks so cool!  The only problem I had with it is controlling how close to put the magnet.  I was so worried I wasn't putting it close enough that a few times I got too close and actually hit my nail having to redo it.  Another cool thing about the one that I got is that you can do 4 different designs with the magnet that it comes with.  I don't think you can do that with the one being sold on Sephora.  Here's a picture of the magnetic effect:

3.  Bauble Bar

I have to admit as far as accessories go, I usually just get inexpensive brands like H&M and Forever 21, but I recently discovered Bauble Bar which offers fashion jewelry at very reasonable prices.  They've been featured in magazines and carry pieces that celebrities wear too.   They introduce new collections every week so there's always a wide variety of pieces to choose from.  You even get $10 off your first order once you sign up for an account.  I found a necklace and bracelet that I wanted and were both less than $30.  When I received it in the mail, the jewelry was packaged in a box with their logo on it and upon opening there was a handwritten thank you card and each piece was packaged in cute little pouches.  My first impressions?  I love the quality of their jewelry.  They're very well constructed and don't feel cheap.  I will definitely be buying more pieces from them in the future.  

I love handwritten notes!
How adorable are these love birds?!
Wouldn't this look great stacked with a gold watch?

Well that's it for November favorites.  I better get finished with my Christmas shopping.  I don't know why I always think I have so much time to shop and then I end up scrambling last minute.  I really hope everything I ordered online comes in on time!  

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sushi spot in Naples

I was craving sushi one day and decided to go on a hunt for a good place to get some here in Naples.  So I began with a Google search looking for Japanese restaurants and the ones with good reviews were all in downtown Naples.  We decided to try a place called Nero.  It is located right by the water with a beautiful view of the city.  We got there right around sunset and the weather was so nice we decided to sit outside.  Italians usually eat dinner later in the evening so it wasn't busy at all when we were seated.

I think my eyes were hungrier than my stomach because I ordered ceviche and a spicy salmon roll and ended up too full to finish it all.  I have to admit I was worried about eating sushi in Italy.  I didn't have very high expectations but I was pleasantly surprised with the food at Nero.  I really enjoyed everything.  Fresh ingredients and beautifully put together.  My daughter ordered some yakisoba and that was really good too.  The only downside was that it's pretty pricey.  For our family of three we spent a little over $100.  Looks like we won't be eating there too often.  I'm glad we got to try it out though.  I think I need to learn how to make rolls at home instead!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

September Favorites

I know, I know, I have totally been M.I.A. for a couple months.  I went back home to Illinois for a month and the trip going back and forth was such a pain because we decided to do Space-A which basically means we fly on standby.  I really can't complain because the flights were free, but it took us 3 days to get home and 3 days to get back.  It gets frustrating dragging all your luggage back and forth from hotels after not getting called and sitting at the airport for hours. Anyway, after getting back, I was really missing my family and friends.  After having all the comforts of home I really didn't want to leave.  So I honestly didn't have the motivation to do any posts.  Well no more sulking and time to start being productive.  So here are my September favorites:

1.  PMD Personal Microderm

I heard about this from a couple of my favorite youtube beauty gurus (DulceCandy87 and JLovesMac1).  I have always wanted to get microdermabrasion done and I also worked at a dermatology office where I personally saw the amazing results on patients that did multiple treatments.  Unfortunately, I was always busy working that I never got a chance to actually get it done myself.  So when I heard about this, I was intrigued.  I could do it in the comfort of my own home and won't have to pay the price of regular microdermabrasions which tend to run $100 and up.  I was browsing their website when I was home in August and casually mentioned to my mom that I wanted one (hinting for her to buy it for me ;) ).  To my surprise, she says she has one and that I could have it!  Whaaaaatttt?!?!?  Shut the front door!  I was so excited!  My mom heard about this when it first came out and she jumped on it because she thought it was going to get rid of the sun spots on her face.  She's had these brown spots for years and has been on a constant hunt for a miracle product to get rid of them.  It didn't really help her sun spots so she stuck this in a drawer and it's just been sitting there. 

I have used this twice now and am really loving the results.  My skin is so much smoother and pores are less visible.  I think this is a great alternative to getting professional microderms.  I think it is very easy to use, but if you decide to get one I highly recommend watching the instructional dvd carefully as you could easily hurt yourself with it if used incorrectly.  I can't wait to see what my skin will look like after continued use of the personal microderm.

2.  Pur Minerals 4-in-1-Pressed-Mineral-Makeup-Foundation-With-SPF-15

I was looking for a new mineral foundation and on a trip to Ulta decided to give this a try.  I normally wear liquid foundations but they sometimes feel heavy on my face so I figured this would feel lighter and application was so much easier as well.  I have to say, I really like the finish of this powder.  It has great coverage and it matches my skin really nicely.  I have sensitive skin too and this hasn't caused any breakouts or clogged pores.  This was the perfect mineral foundation for the summer and I know we're in the fall season now, but it's still pretty hot here in Italy and this held up really well on our recent trip to Venice where the temperature reached 97 degrees.  Post on the Venice trip coming soon!

I absolutely love these boots that I bought another pair in the taupe color.  They're the perfect transition boot from summer to fall.  I have to admit the first time I wore these my feet were hurting after a day of shopping.  I think I just needed to break them in though because they're comfortable now.  These boots are only $30 too.  Similar styles are going for $100+ on other websites. 

Ok, well those are my September favorites.  I can't believe fall is already here.  Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner.  I love the holiday season!  Can't wait for all the yummy food! (^_^)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Capua Ampitheater

One of the many benefits of living in Naples, Italy is that there is so much to explore and see in our surrounding area.  We visited the Capua Ampitheater which is supposed to only be approximately a 30 minute drive from where we live, but the GPS decided to take us somewhere else.  Luckily, we were in the vicinity and saw signs along the way.  One of the reasons I wanted to see this amphitheater is because I watched the Spartacus series and wanted to see where he fought and where he began his revolt.  In looking for directions I also learned that this amphitheater is the second largest (Rome's Coliseum being the largest).  The entrance fee to get in was only 2.50 euro and we were able to find great parking right in front of the entrance. 

One of the many passage ways underground

Pretending to be a spectator (^_^)
We went on a perfect day when there was almost no one around.  We were able to go all around the grounds of the amphiteater, which we couldn't do when we visited the Coliseum in Rome.  We were only allowed to see specific sections.  I think the most interesting part was to get to go underground to see the subterranean passage ways.  I still can't believe that I get to see this stuff!  Getting to see ruins from ancient history blows my mind.  I feel so lucky to be fortunate enough to live here.  If you ever get to come to visit the Naples area this is a great piece of history to come and see.  It was a good day trip and we finished it off with a scrumptious dinner at a local restaurant that serves their food fresh from their farm where the actual restaurant is located.  I'll make a separate post on that later.  Hope you enjoyed the photos!  Ciao for now!


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