All Posts Tagged ‘Summer

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sunday dinner: best of summer salad & avocado feta toasts.

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It’s that time of year, folks. The dog days of summer — that perfect time when the days are long and the sun is high and clouds are sparse. The summer in New York has been glorious, GLORIOUS I tell you, which is completely unexpected and I thank my lucky stars each and every day for such atypical temperatures. This is my kind of polar vortex, people.

This time of year also means that when I food shop, I’m spendin’ my dollahs at the farmer’s market, y’all. The farm stands are positively bursting with fresh produce around here, and it is divine. You haven’t really eaten a tomato until you’ve eaten a farmer’s market tomato in the month of August. Real talk.

If you’re doing it right, meals this time of year require little cooking (if any) and they should heavily feature fresh vegetables (mostly tomatoes, the tomatoes in these parts are unreal this time of year). And this little ditty fits the bill just perfectly. The salad is fresh and bright (the addition of parsley and mint to the salad greens takes it to another level, promise), and the toasts round out the meal with creamy and salty and a little crunch. Roasting lemons was new for me, but it added such a lovely citrus flavor to the salad and also provided a bit of crunch — a new age crouton, if you will. If I had a back patio, I’d be enjoying this with a bottle of wine, a little Glenn Miller Orchestra Pandora station, and a summer sunset. Sososo good.

You ready? OK, let’s do this.

Best of Summer Salad with Roasted Lemons & Avocado Feta Toasts

Best of Summer Salad (adapted from Bon Appetit)
1 carton mixed small tomatoes, halved
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
¼ cup fresh mint leaves, torn if large
1 cup arugula or other fresh salad greens
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Roasted Lemons
1 lemon, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced, seeds removed
1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Lemon Vinaigrette (adapted from Martha Stewart)
juice from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons white wine or champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon course salt
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
1/3 cup olive oil

Avocado & Feta Toasts (makes 4 toasts)
2 slices multigrain bread, cut on the diagonal
½ avocado, sliced
4 slices feta cheese, preferably bulgarian feta but french or greek will do
8 arugula leaves
olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

First things first. The lemons and the toasts are going to take the longest, so we need to get those going so we can focus on everything else. For the lemons, preheat the oven to 325 and at the same time, bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil on the stove. Once boiling, drop the lemon slices in the water and cook for two minutes. This takes the bitterness out of the lemons so when they roast, they’ll take on a sweet, citrus flavor. While the lemons are cooking, quickly chop the sage. Strain the lemons from the water and spread onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Toss thoroughly with the sage, sugar and olive oil, then season well with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes until dry and slightly browned.

Once the lemons are in the oven, grab another baking sheet and lay your toasts out in a single layer. Brush each toast with olive oil on both sides and season with salt and pepper. Place the toasts in the oven with the lemons and cook for approximately 15 minutes, or until the toasts are nicely brown and crisp.

While the lemons and toasts are in the oven, slice the tomatoes and onions and throw ’em in a big bowl with all of the greens (parsley, mint, arugula). Season veggies and greens with freshly ground salt and pepper and set aside.

Next, let’s make some vinaigrette. Now, you can totally use your favorite store bought dressing if you don’t want to go through the trouble of making your own, but the freshness of this vinaigrette is the perfect compliment to the veggies and greens, so I highly recommend taking the time. The easiest way to make the dressing is to combine the lemon juice, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper in a jar or lidded container and shake to combine until the sugar and salt are dissolved into the liquid. Then, add the olive oil and shake again until combined. Taste and adjust ingredients if necessary.

When the lemons are fully cooked, remove from oven and allow to cool for approximately 10 minutes. Once cool enough to touch, remove from baking sheet and add to the bowl with the veggies and greens.

Finally, just before the toasts come out of the oven, slice the avocado and feta and set aside.

Dress the salad with your preferred amount of lemon vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper.

Place one piece of feta and 1-2 slices of avocado on each toast, then top each toast with a few leaves of arugula. Drizzle each toast with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Serve toasts along side the salad, and don’t forget a big ol’ glass of wine (it’s summer, so rosé is the obvious choice). This meal is light but filling, the perfect celebration of summer’s best ingredients. Enjoy!

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sunday dessert: homemade peach crumble pie.

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I have this thing that happens to me every once in awhile. I’ll be going along, living life, doing my thing…and then, this wave will wash over me, stop me in my tracks…and I must bake. I absolutely must. I enjoy baking, but I don’t often have the time or the occasion to do so, but then this thing happens and I don’t need no reason, no rhyme. I just have to bake something or I won’t be satisfied.

Today was one of those days. My eyes snapped open at 6:30 AM this morning and all I could think about was peach pie. Which is super weird. But having known myself for 33 years now, I knew the only solution was to fulfill my baking needs. Plus, it’s the height of summer, the peaches are glorious this time of year, and who doesn’t want pie, you know, just laying around? Hands up emoji.

When it comes to pie, and peach pie specifically, I’ve been refining my skills for years now, so this recipe (which started from three different recipes) is something I’ve played with and tweaked and edited over the years, to where I’ve gotten it just right. Until I change something again. I’m a mystery. Stay with me.

If I’m being completely honest with you, dear reader, this pie is not an easy task. It’s both time and labor intensive, and I wouldn’t say that it’s a good place to start for a novice baker. However, I’ve always said that baking is more science than art, so if you follow the steps exactly, you should produce a pretty great result. But know what you’re getting into because this is an afternoon spent working hard in the kitchen.

OK, you ready? Let’s do this.

Homemade Peach Crumble Pie

You will need:

For the crust:

6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (¾ stick), cut into small pieces
¼ cup cold vegetable shortening, like Crisco
1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup ice water

For the filling:

3 ½ pounds peaches (about 6-8)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons minute tapioca, ground to a powder using a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle (or 3 tablespoons corn starch)

For the crumble:

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar
½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
½ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (¾ stick), cut into small pieces

Kitchen gadgets/materials/tools: pie dish, rolling pin, pastry cutter (you can use two forks as a substitute), mixing bowls — LOTS of mixing bowls

First things first, put on clothes you don’t mind getting dirty and an apron (or my personal baking accessory of choice, a kitchen towel stuck through the belt loop of my jeans). Baking is messy, y’all. Martha Stewart I am not.

Crust: 

Next, we turn our attention to the crust. Listen, you could totally punk out at this point and buy a pre-made crust and it would be fine and life would go on. But. If you’ve ever experienced the glorious deliciousness of a homemade pie crust, you know why this extra effort is worth it. And it is.

So, as you dive into prepping your crust, you should have one mantra in mind at all times — ‘keep ’em cold’. If there is any secret to a perfect, flaky homemade crust, it is that all the ingredients save the flour, sugar, and salt should be ICE cold. Butter, shortening, water. Keep ’em cold. All of them should be as cold as possible without being frozen (though I do keep my shortening in the freezer). Doing this will ensure a perfectly flaky crust, which is the only reason why we’re doing all of this, am I right?

First, take out your butter, cut it into small pieces, place it on a plate and put it back in the refrigerator while you prep your dry ingredients. In a large bowl, combine your flour, sugar and salt. Working quickly, add the butter and shortening, and with either a pastry cutter or two forks (don’t use your hands as it will warm the butter/shortening too much), mash the butter and shortening into the flour mixture until it resembles course sand. You should still have pea-sized pieces of butter — that’s OK — this is where the magic happens. Finally, add the ice water and quickly mix the ingredients together to form the dough, bringing it together in ball. Do not knead the dough, the point is to mix it enough that it stays together, but nothing more — again, you don’t want anything warming the dough too much. Wrap in plastic wrap or a ziploc bag and flatten into a disc. Place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Filling: 

While your dough is chilling in the fridge, it’s time to prep the filling. If you’re going to skin your peaches (which I do, I find that it leads to a better quality filling), put a large pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil. In a separate large bowl, prepare an ice bath for the peaches (basically a bunch of cold water and a bunch of ice). Cut a small X on the bottom point of each peach (opposite from the stem). When the water on the stove reaches a rolling boil, add as many peaches as can fit in the pot and poach for two minutes. When ready, move the poached peaches from the boiling water directly to the ice bath and let them sit for about one minute. Do this until all the peaches have been poached/bathed. Pull one peach at a time from the ice bath and starting at the X you cut earlier, pull the skins off the peaches. They should be very easy to remove at this point, for any pieces that don’t want to budge, you can always slice them off with a small knife. Once you’ve skinned all of your peaches, cut each in half, remove the pit, and slice into 1/4 inch thick slices and add to a large bowl. Add the lemon juice to the peaches and toss to coat.

In a small bowl (you’re basically going to use every bowl in your kitchen for this little ditty, sorry), combine the white and brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and tapioca, stirring with a fork until just blended. Pour the sugar mixture over the peaches and toss to coat. Set aside until ready to build the pie.

Crumble: 

Some people may be two-crust pie purists, but me, I’m a crumble believer. It adds such a different spin to a pie, and you get the best of both worlds — a buttery, flaky crust on the bottom, and a crunchy, sugary, salty, oat-y crumble on top. For me, there’s no better combination. YUM.

NOTE: If you’d rather a two-crust pie, find another blog. I kid, I kid. You’ll need to double the crust recipe above; follow the same directions below for a solid crust or take a look at this for a lattice crust.

To make the crumble, combine the flour, sugar, oats and salt in a medium bowl (again with the bowls) and set aside. Cut your butter into small pieces, then using your hands this time, work the butter cubes into the flour mixture to form the crumble. It should be mostly incorporated with some small pieces of butter still intact. Wash your hands, then cover crumble with plastic wrap and store in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.

Putting it all together: 

We’re nearing the finish line, kids. Now it’s about combining all of that magic you’ve just made in the kitchen into one delicious, magnificent pie.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Grab some flour and liberally coat your rolling pin and your counter top, cutting board or pastry stone (if you’re Mr. Fancy McFancy Pants). Take your dough from the fridge, unwrap, and place in the center of your floured board. Then, taking your floured rolling pin, press and roll your dough carefully a few times in one direction away from you. Turn your dough one quarter turn and repeat. Do this again and again until the dough is rolled into roughly a 12 inch circle. Add more flour as necessary to both the rolling pin and the dough to discourage sticking or tearing. Be patient with it and don’t rough up the dough. Remember, the idea is to work the dough as little as possible so the butter stays intact and the dough doesn’t get rubbery. Once you have your circle, fold the dough in half then in half again and carefully transfer to your pie dish. Unfold the dough and situate appropriately so it covers the whole thing; you’ll likely have dough hanging off the edges, that’s OK. Remove the excess dough with a sharp knife, fold over the edges, and pinch between two fingers to ‘crimp’ the dough. Do this all the way around the pie to create a pretty pattern.

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Next, take your filling and spoon into the center of the dish, including any juices from the bottom of the bowl. Spread evenly, ensuring there’s no areas with too many peaches or too much juice.

Grab your crumble from the fridge and sprinkle evenly over the top almost all the way to the crust. I like to leave a little ring of crumble-free area between the crust and the crumble for the peaches to bubble through as they cook in the oven.

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Place the pie in the center rack of your oven with a baking sheet placed on the rack directly below it (just in case, to catch any overflow). Cook for 20 minutes at 425 degrees, then reduce the temperature to 375 degrees and cook for an additional 35-40 minutes. The pie is done when the crust and crumble are golden brown and the peach filling is bubbling.

Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for at least two hours. I know. That seems like an impossible task. BUT. This time will allow the pie to set and for the tapioca to work its magic, so when you go to slice the pie, it won’t fall apart immediately. Trust the process, people. You can do it, I promise.

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When you’re ready to serve, I like to reheat each piece for 20-30 seconds in the microwave, then top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (I do not understand people who do not like their pie à la mode, I just don’t).

Swoon. Yell. Dance around your kitchen. Fall on the floor overwhelmed with emotion. It’s that good. It is summer all bundled up in one delicious package for you to savor in the late evening light. Eat up, kids.

 

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sunday dinner: ahi tuna poke.

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As Hawaii week comes to a close (although it will never really be over, will it), we must talk about the food. Oh, the food. It’s secretly/not so secretly the main reason I travel. I don’t feel I’m alone in this. My friends and family might give me the crazy eyes when I tell them I’m flying half way across the world to spend six days in Hawaii on a whim, but whatever, I’ll be the one drinking mai tais and eating fish caught fresh that day while watching a technicolor Hawaiian sunset, so who’s winning at life now?

The food we had in Hawaii was a fantastic mix of Asian cultures and local island favorites; we ate our way through China and Japan and Korea for days (all in one strip mall, in fact — yes, the BEST food in Hawaii is always found in a strip mall), and that’s not even covering the more traditional Hawaiian dishes like poi and kalua pork and lomi lomi salmon. I somehow escaped the islands without trying spam (which I really wanted to do!), but I made up for it by eating as many manapua I could get my hands on.

But. If we’re talking about the true hero of the trip, my absolutely favorite thing I consumed in my time in Hawaii, something I ate at nearly every meal, it’s poke. I could write an entire album of songs (probably even a multi-disc collection) about my love of poke. No, not the annoying, seemingly useless Facebook feature. I’m talkin’ Hawaiian poke (pronounced po-kay), and if you haven’t experienced this little Hawaiian gem, you’re not living life to the fullest, my friend.

A few things about poke for you to know. You must enjoy raw fish to enjoy poke. What is essentially the Hawaiian version of ceviche, poke’s main ingredients are typically raw fish (most popular is ahi tuna), soy sauce, some form of onion (spring, sweet, Maui or otherwise), and finely chopped macadamia or kukui nuts. Poke is usually served as an appetizer, or pu pu in Hawaiian, and it is deliciously addictive. Our first night in Hawaii I was invited to the house of my friend’s family for dinner. Pu pus came to the table and I casually swiped a piece of poke with my chopsticks and was so enticed by the salty, buttery, slightly sweet flavor I almost fell out of my chair. Picture me trying to be polite and gracious and charming while also trying to covertly shove as much poke in my mouth as possible. I’m sure I was the picture of manners; just call me charm school over here.

When I left Hawaii, I knew the first thing I wanted to attempt to make at home was poke, and tonight I have done just that. While searching out the ingredients will take a bit of effort (and unfortunately, there are a few things you just can’t get outside of Hawaii), actually putting it together is a breeze. The soy sauce does all the work for you, so all that’s required is a little chopping and you’re done. I’ve made some slight alterations based on my preferences (believe me, I tried about 500 different kinds of poke on your behalf, so consider me an expert in this field), but this is a pretty straightforward, ‘basic’ recipe. The flavors, however, are faaaaaar from basic.

OK, you ready? Let’s do this.

Hawaiian Ahi Poke (adapted from Hawai’i Magazine)

1 lb fresh ahi steaks, cut into cubed, bite-size pieces
¼ cup soy sauce (shoyu)
¼ cup chopped green onions (tops included)
¼ cup chopped sweet yellow onion (if you can get Maui onion, otherwise a nice Vidalia will do)
2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 jalapeño pepper, cored, seeded and diced (optional but highly recommended)
sea salt, to taste (if you use full sodium soy sauce, you won’t need this)
2 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

There’s really not much to say in terms of prep other than chop everything up according to the above, place in a large container (I used a large tupperware, but you can just as easily use a big mixing bowl) and refrigerate for at least two hours. I’d recommend serving this as an appetizer, or you could eat as a main course alongside an asian-inspired salad and some rice. No matter how you enjoy it, it will, for if only a fleeting moment, give you a feeling of island breezes and a slower way of life. I will long for it dearly, I will dream of it often and I will one day return.

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A few other foods I enjoyed greatly while bopping around Oahu are the following:

Malasadas (Portuguese donuts) from Leonard’s Bakery: pillowy soft, some rolled in cinnamon sugar, some filled with coconut cream or chocolate, some just a plain old delicious donut…no holes necessary. YUM.

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Korean food from Kim Chee II Restaurant (heck yeah, strip mall feast): sometimes after a long day in the sun, you just want an explosion of flavor in your mouth, and Korean delivers strongly in that category. From short ribs to mandu to bi bimbap, it’s all delicious, all the time over here.

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Kona coffee, literally anywhere: not much to say here other than it’s so good it’s made for ROYALTY.

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Hawaiian Plate Lunch and Slush Float at Rainbow Drive-in: think of it as a Hawaiian ‘meat and three’ (for those of you who have never been to the South, I don’t really know how to describe this to you other than it’s some good down home cookin’). You choose your meat — usually fried chicken, BBQ steak, fried fish, what have you — and it comes with a side of ‘mac salad’ and rice. You can reserve your gravy for your meat (as I did), or you can go crazy and put it on everything. Accompanying this is a magical concoction called a slush float, which is basically a 7-11 strawberry slushie that’s had a love child with an ice cream float. It’s sugary and sweet and oh so good, and it’s a perfect balance to the saltiness of the plate lunch. Listen, I never said eating in Hawaii was healthy. I did, however, say it was delicious.

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rock your friday: songs of summer.

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When one goes to the islands, one must have a soundtrack. Something easy and light — this is not the time for melancholy tunes; this is the time for pop-filled melodies with a beat that go well with a breeze and fruity cocktails. These are the songs that scream summer; they might be overplayed, yes, but would I be jazzed if they came on in the bar where I was enjoying a mai tai and watching another mind-blowing Hawaiian sunset? Definitely.

I speak from experience when I say that this little ditty is also suitable for rooftop pools and backyard BBQs and the morning subway commute. So grab that coconut rum, throw on a caftan and shake that tail feather. It’s summa summa summa-time.

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All cocktails should come with pineapple. Like, as a rule.

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makeup monday: beauty must-haves for your next vacation.

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Hey guys! It’s been a long time and I missed your faces. Summer is in full swing and that means I’ve been prioritizing outside time over inside time, and usually inside time is where the blog magic happens. But. I’m back! And it’s gonna be a good week.

Why, you ask? Because I just returned from a glorious visit to the islands, and by the islands, I mean Hawaii, and by glorious I mean it was the best. THE BEST. #thebest. And I want to talk about it forever and ever because it was pure magic. And I want to keep it fresh in my mind so I don’t forget the deliciousness that is the island life. So this week is Hawaii week over here on the old blog. From now until next Sunday, it’ll be all Aloha, all the time. Get ready. It’s gonna be great.

And to kick off this island extravaganza, we’re talkin’ travel beauty. Truth be told, my travel beauty routine isn’t much different than my summer beauty routine, in that I seek out products that are easy to use, good for the skin, and able to withstand the heat and humidity like champs. I do find, however, that travel beauty can be even a bit lazier than summer beauty (which is great!) because you don’t need to master that perfectly made up look; it’s more about blurring the edges and giving yourself that beachy glow (while also protecting your skin from the summer elements).

I also tend to seek out products that have multiple uses so 1) I don’t have to check a bag, and 2) I’m not that crazy lady at airport security who has like fifteen clear plastic bags full of toiletries instead of the allotted one bag (I’m still usually that crazy lady).

The following are the twenty things you’ll find in my travel beauty bag (I know twenty seems like a lot but that’s covering skin, hair and makeup…and yes, I count sunglasses as a beauty product…gotta protect those peepers!), all of which I’m able to fit (snugly) into one larger-sized cosmetic bag. These were lifesavers in Hawaii and kept me looking fresh, beachy but not too beachy (if you know what I mean), and kept my skin happy and protected in the strong island sun.

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From top left: 1) hair bands, goody ouchless hair elastics. 2) bronzer/blush/highlighter, urban decay naked flushed palette. 3) lip balm, this works turbo balm. 4) fragrance, elizabeth & james nirvana black rollerball. 5) sunglasses, tory burch t-print aviators. 6) argan oil, josie maran argan oil. 7) sea spray for hair, bumble & bumble surf spray. 8) eyeshadow, urban decay eyeshadow in toasted. 9) hair brush, conair travel hair brush. 10) waterproof mascara, maybelline big eyes waterproof mascara. 11) hairspray, nexxus travel size comb thru hairspray. 12) brow pencil, anastasia brow wiz in caramel. 13) eyeshadow primer, urban decay primer potion. 14) lipstick, nars lipstick in schiap. 15) clear nail polish, dior nail glow. 16) cc cream, clinique moisture surge cc cream spf 30. 17) cream blush, nars the multiple in portofino. 18) individual false eyelashes, ardell. 19) waterproof eyeliner, chanel stylo yeux waterproof. 20) bobby pins, goody.

1) hair bands: I get scolded regularly by my fashionista friends for perma-wearing a hair band around my wrist, but it is literally my worst nightmare to be caught without one just when I need one, and that goes doubly for when I travel. My travel hair style tends to be of the ‘pile it on top of my head variety’, especially in warmer climates, so hair bands at an arm’s reach (or wrist’s reach in my case) are mandatory.

2) bronzer/blush/highlighter: this might be on some people’s ‘maybe’ list for travel beauty, but I find a combo palette that includes bronzer, blush and a highlighter one of the easiest, low maintenance ways to add a little pretty to your travel beauty routine. During the day, a sweep of bronzer over the face (after a liberal application of sunscreen, of course) keeps you fresh; adding a little blush to the apples of the cheeks and a little highlighter to the tops of your cheek bones sets you up for an easy, breezy evening look. I love the Urban Decay palette pictured, but Nars and Neutrogena both have great options as well.

3) lip balm: whatever your preferred method of moisturizing your lips, please don’t forget it when you travel. And please don’t forget the importance of SPF if you’re headed to a sunny locale.

4) fragrance: this one might be a ‘nice to have’ but I always love a little spritz of something when I’m on vacation.

5) sunglasses: does this one really need explaining? Fashion accessory + protecting your eyes from the damaging effects of the sun = win.

6) argan and/or coconut oil: use it as a moisturizer, use it as a makeup remover, use it as a sunburn soother. It’s the multi-faceted-iest of the multi-faceted beauty products.

7) sea spray: when it comes to styling my curly mop while on vacay, this stuff is my jam. Spritz it all over and not only does it give me a perfect beachy wave, it helps to control frizz, which is a must in humid climates. Combine with a little hairspray for hold and you’re set to go.

8) eyeshadow: choose a neutral shade you love and you only need to bring one. When I’m on vacation, I’m not doing any fancy eye makeup, I’m probably not even applying it with a brush (fingers for the win). I wear one shade to give my eyes a little oomph and leave the rest at home.

9) hair brush: um, this one’s self explanatory. I hope.

10) waterproof mascara: I don’t wear anything else during the summer and the same goes for summer travel. It’s quick and easy to apply, it adds just the right amount of ‘look’, and the waterproof formula ensures I can take a dip in the ocean or pool and keep on truckin’ with my eye makeup intact.

11) hairspray: the best combatant of my mortal enemy, humidity. I spray it all over before I head out for the day, and by using a lighter hold formula, it keeps frizz at bay while not feeling super ‘crunchy’.

12) brow pencil: this is one of those prissy girly things I just can’t give up. No matter whether I’m going to work, to the club, or across the street to get coffee in my PJs, I still have to do my brows before I leave the house. The Anastasia Brow Wiz makes that a quick and easy task and keeps me looking groomed but natural all the day long.

13) eyeshadow primer: just because I’m only using one shade of eyeshadow while on vacation, doesn’t mean I want it melting off my face. Primer is the only way to ensure even the laziest of looks stay in it for the long haul.

14) lipstick: this is my second girly add to my travel bag. I don’t need to go into my serious, long term relationship with lipstick AGAIN. Suffice to say, no matter where I am in the world, there will be several lipstick options nearby at all times. For most people, a nice neutral or pretty pink shade will do the trick; for me, vacation is the perfect opportunity to rock a bold lip (and maybe for you too?).

15) clear nail polish: I usually try to work in a mani before I head out on vacation, but if I don’t have time, I’ll throw a bottle of clear polish in my bag to get me through. This way my nails are still shiny and pretty but I don’t have to worry about chips or smudges that you might get with brighter colors.

16) cc cream: for me this is the dream face product for vacation. It’s easy to apply, usually high in SPF, and it’s everything you need in one product so it cuts down the number of bottles you’re throwing in your cosmetic bag. I love the way Clinique’s CC cream mattifies my skin, gives me a hint of color, and doesn’t look too ‘made up’. The SPF 30 doesn’t hurt either.

17) cream blush: the easiest of the easy beauty products. Add a little pop of color to your cheeks and a touch of mascara and you’re ready to face the day. Add another layer and set with powder or a powder blush and you’re ready for a night out on the town.

18) individual false eyelashes: these are just FUN. If you have a special occasion dinner or activity during your trip, false lashes add a bit more definition to your look while still looking completely natural (vs a full strip of lashes which can sometimes look too overdone). If you’re not going to try new things while on vacation, when are you going to?

19) waterproof eyeliner: this probably also falls on the ‘nice to have’ list, but I think it’s a great option for a day-to-night transition. Add a little definition to the base of your eyelashes or go a little smokier and blend with your finger; either way the waterproof formula will ensure that your look stays in place (and it comes off easily with a little argan oil!).

20) bobby pins: for when you want to attempt a slightly fancier hairstyle than messy ponytail and/or topknot.

 

 

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makeup monday: the best drugstore makeup for summer.

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Let’s face it, makeup in the summertime can be a challenge. You’re trying to look your prettiest while also dealing with hundred degree temperatures and stifling humidity and constant transitions from the sweltering out of doors to the overly air conditioned indoors (that’s my life, at least, just living my truth). What this typically means is that I wear as little makeup as possible while still maintaining a polished look, so there’s less chance of my makeup ending up on the floor. Or my dress. Or my hands. Or my iced coffee.

Sometimes this also means I lean on my drugstore favorites this time of year, since I don’t feel as bad when I have to reapply my $7 lipstick a few times vs. wasting my $50 one (oh hey Tom Ford, heart you). So what do I grab from the drugstore aisle for that summertime look? Why, these goodies right here, of course, all with a less than $10 price tag.

Maybelline Color Tattoo Eye Shadow ($6.99)

When it comes to wearing eye shadow in the summer, I look for something that provides maximum impact (and maximum staying power) with minimum effort. With heat and humidity at play, your eyeshadow can quite easily slide right off your lids, which, let’s be honest, ain’t pretty. Nobody intends to look like ‘the morning after’ when they head out the door to start their day…but that’s a reality if you don’t use products that can hang in there for the long haul.

That’s why, for summer, I love cream eyeshadows. The Maybelline Color Tattoo eyeshadows, which admittedly bear a rather unsettling name, are amazing — they’re highly pigmented so a little goes a long way, they glide on smoothly, and they stick around all day and night with minimal touch ups (which also means you can wear them without primer). I love this for summer when I want my makeup to be minimal; I can apply with just my finger, and with a bit of blending, I’m ready to face the day.

Almay Wake Up Under Eye Concealer ($8.99)

If I was ever forced to choose only three beauty products to use for the rest of my life (oh, the horror!), concealer would be one of them (the other two would be mascara and lipstick…but that’s another blog post). There is no better way to look awake and refreshed than with a touch of under eye concealer. Whether it’s the morning after one too many summer cocktails or a sleepless night with a restless baby or it’s just morning…again…ugh; concealer packs the right punch to brighten up those peepers and erase that sleepless night. In the summertime, especially, it’s one of the best ways to pull off the ‘no makeup’ makeup look while still completely covering any unsightly bags or dark circles.

If I’m going to trade in my Touche Éclat for a more budget-friendly option (which, if I’m being honest, does not happen very often), I generally really like what Almay has to offer. They use the same brush applicator as high-end brands, and I find the product blends smoothly and matches my skin well. I also use this as a highlight under my brow bone and on the top of my cheek bone to add a little extra dimension to my look.

Nyx Rouge Cream Blush ($6.00)

Oh, cream blush, let me write you seventeen songs about why I love you. For a girl with dry skin, cream blush is just a dream. It goes on easily, it blends well, and it adds the perfect pop of color while not highlighting my dryness like a powdered blush would. I tend to use cream blushes year round because of this, but I find they really shine in the summer.

Nyx is a great option in this category because their highly pigmented cream blushes add great color and they stay put all day long. Easy to apply with just a finger, they also come in a range of shades to suit all skin tones (my favorites are Tickled and Rose Petal, I find them to be the most versatile). They’re the ticket to that dewy, fresh-faced look that works day or night.

Maybelline Volum’Express Falsies Big Eyes Waterproof Mascara ($9.49)

Longest mascara name everrrrrrrrr. Despite the mouthful, however, this mascara is my jam. It coats my paltry lashes easily and makes ’em big and lashy without clumping, and it’s also really, really black, which I love; I find it difficult to find mascara that is truly black from the drugstore aisles.The waterproof formula keeps everything in place, which is paramount in the summer with all the humidity and the sweating…nobody wants their mascara running down their face after five minutes on a sweltering subway platform. I also really like that it still uses a natural fiber wand — many brands have switched over to a plastic or silicone wand, and my very sensitive eyes do not enjoy them. This wand is soft and gentle but still applies the product precisely where I want it, and nowhere else.

If that weren’t enough, this mascara also includes a separate ‘baby wand’ perfect for your bottom lashes or the lashes in the inner corner of your eye, which is also great for adding a little extra oomph to your lashes without applying an entire new coat.

Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butter ($7.49)

For lip products in the summertime, I tend to go for things that provide as much moisturizing properties as they do pops of color. I also like products with a more sheer finish, as I feel they are more seasonally appropriate (I don’t completely abandon my full color lip, but they are mostly reserved for nighttime outings).

All of these desires are easily attained using my Revlon Lip Butters. They are the perfect blend of lip balm and lip gloss, with the pigmentation of a lipstick. So you get your color and your moisture and your shine all in one, and they come in approximately a bazillion colors (a scientific number…my favorites are Pink Truffle and Peach Parfait). Since they’re so cheap, I tend to keep one in every bag I own so they’re always close at hand. Given their sheer formula, they’re not going to stick it out through a meal or a session of heavy petting (my absolute favorite euphemism for kissing), but they’re low maintenance enough that you don’t even need a mirror to reapply.

So, what about you? What are your summertime drugstore go-tos that keep you looking fresh and pretty?

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makeup monday: stay fresh from head to toe.

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Ugh, humidity. My sworn enemy. It is the ruiner of things, period, the end — most noticeably any hairstyle and/or makeup look I try to pull off between the months of June and September. There is nothing that makes me feel more uncomfortable, and it leaves me looking like a flat, melted, sweaty mess. Which is why I’ve made it my life’s mission (one of many) to find products that will ward off the effects of humidity and keep me looking so fresh and so clean, clean. I have yet to find a product that keeps me from sweating uncontrollably on city subway platforms in the dead of July, but here’s hoping. Until then, these are my favorites for keeping me lookin’ fresh from head to toe.

Head: Oribe Imperméable Anti-Humidity Spray

6oribe-impermeable-anti-humidity-purse-spray-lgnAs a naturally curly-haired girl, the absolute most difficult thing to wrangle in the summertime is the mop atop my head. I love my hair, I really do, it’s soft and pretty and does what it’s told when it comes to styling, but when humidity shows up to the party, it turns into that girl who’s had too many jello shots and is now passed out on the couch while the party rages on — in simpler terms, a total train wreck.

The Oribe Anti-Humidity Spray is the best product I’ve found to stay the effects of humidity on my tresses. It keeps my ‘do in place, acting as both a hairspray and a smoothing agent. It’s not cheap, it goes for around $40 a bottle, but a little goes a long way, and for me, the price tag is worth it. Frizz be gone!

Face: Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer

hourglassIf there’s one step I absolutely do not skip in summer makeup application, it is the application of primer. This nifty little product is the best way to keep everything on your face in its proper place — it grabs on to your foundation or tinted moisturizer and keeps it from creasing or melting or wearing off, so you’ll look as fresh at 6pm as you do at 8am, all the while evening your skin tone and adding an extra layer of SPF.

My favorite primer of late is the Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer. It glides on beautifully and creates the perfect palette for your foundation. It almost has a powder-like finish, and I can’t even believe how fresh my foundation looks throughout the day. Minimal touch ups required — this, my friends, is a miracle product.

Need even more staying power? If you’re prepping for a formal event or a night out on the town, add a spritz of makeup setting spray once your makeup is fully applied to really lock in your look.

Body: Lush Silky Underwear Dusting Powder

LUSH-silky-underwear-lgI have a confession. I am a sweater. No, not a knitted garment often worn in cooler weather. I am a sweater, in that I sweat. A lot. It’s one of those things I hate most about my body, but it’s always been that way. I don’t understand those girls who can flit about in the summertime and look perfectly dewy and effortlessly cool; I’m the girl just next to them who has sweat stains on my t-shirt and a glistening upper lip. It’s gross, but it’s my truth. I’m glad I can talk about it here, dear readers. I’m hoping one or two of you out there feel me on this.

So, in an effort to counteract my overactive glands, I scoot, nay RUN, over to Lush the minute there’s a hint of humidity in the air, and I buy them out of their stock of Silky Underwear Dusting Powder. Truth be told, I kind of hate the name, but I looooove the effects of this miracle powder. I use this liberally in the summertime; a dash here and sprinkle there, both in the nooks and crannies that are sweat magnets (back of the knee sweat, anyone?) and on the rest of my body as a light moisturizer (one of its main ingredients is cocoa butter). It leaves your skin with a lovely jasmine scent, and it does a nice job of keeping you fresh and dry throughout the day. I keep a travel size in my bag so I can touch up during the day (or after a particularly sweaty subway ride).

The moral of the story: Nothing can completely mitigate the effects of a humid day, but hopefully with these products in your arsenal, you’ll look fresh and pretty even when you feel anything but.