Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 - the year for me

2014 was an interesting year for me.  I hit a lot of highs and lows; in some ways it was the best year of  my life, and in other ways, the worst. But in the end, one this is clear.  I made this year about me.  While I've never been one to really worry about other peoples' opinions, I finally shook off other peoples' influences over me and I focused on myself.  I focused on what I wanted to do, who I wanted to be, and didn't let anything or anyone get in my way.  I know I said this about last year, but this year was a year of huge personal growth for me.

I started off the year not so great, then it got bad - mostly with the exhaustion that finishing college and simultaneously being in graduate school left behind, before I finally stepped back and focused on myself for a few months before starting again. Spring semester was one of the most mentally trying few months of my life; I was pushed to the limit mentally and emotionally.  I nearly thought I wouldn't be able to finish the semester and I also had more mental breakdowns that anyone should have over a three month period. Thanks to sleepless nights, endless papers, my senior thesis, and far more than a normal person should juggle.  I actually remember when my last paper was handed in, my friends dragged me out for celebratory drinks, and I had approximately one glass of wine before I crashed and nearly fell asleep on the way back home. Yeah, that was interesting.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Adventures in baking: Christmas Stollen edition

I hope you all had a great Christmas!  This whole week has been a glorious week of relaxing, TV watching, and sleeping (following a not-so-fun beginning of the week where I suddenly got sick).  I didn't even workout until finally getting the strength to go for a short walk/jog this afternoon.

Baking cookies is easy enough for me, but bread....well bread is something I do less often.   Yet that didn't stop me from doing some Christmas baking because my family all loves any bread-related food...leading me to tackle a Christmas Stollen recipe.  

Keep reading for the recipe!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Empties: December 2014 Edition

I have a confession: these empties have been building up for a long time.  Some of these products are from August or September, and I have just honestly been too lazy to talk about them.  But a perk of being lazy is that I now have lots of empties (including makeup) to show....

Sunday, December 21, 2014

FOTD with some new items! Josie Maran Coconut Watercolor Cheek Gelee

 In the middle of all my essay writing and studying, it is only natural that I would do a little.....okay, a lot of hauling to tide me over.  Unfortunately, as busy as I was, I didn't actually get to wear any of what I bought until this week, making this a very fun week of trying and wearing new products.  It 
has resulted in me wearing possibly every new product I have at once, but at least now my mornings are a little more exciting!

Today, I will be featuring the Josie Maran Coconut Watercolor Cheek Gelee in Berry Bliss, a deep wine shade that lightly stains the cheeks for an all day wear.  I've had my eye on this product for months now, and I'm so glad I was finally able to pick it up during the sales this year.

I was looking something to make me look flushed, and Berry Bliss looked like the best shade, although some of the other shades looked gorgeous as well.

It looks pretty scary in the pan, but swatched and on the cheeks it is a sheer and natural looking berry shade.  I think even very fair skintones would be able to pull this off because it is so sheer upon first pass, but it is definitely buildable.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Mama Rouge - An exciting new arrival to Georgetown

After a long and torturous break from blogging (thank you, school and your endless papers..), I'm excited to report back on a great new restaurant in DC. There are a lot of good places to eat, but to be completely honest, none of it really excites me.  I never think of Georgetown as the first place to go to when I want some really good food.

Mama Rouge, however, which just opened two months ago, definitely excites me.  It just opened two months ago on the Waterfront Harbour, replacing Bangkok Joe.  The owners are also the previous owners of Bangkok Joe, which can only mean a good thing.  Mama Rouge features a fusion of Southeast Asian and French cuisine, so think bahn mi's inside croissant buns and curry mussels served with a fresh baguette.  Yeah, that sounds good.

Photo from because I am a bad blogger and forgot to take one...

After making some reservations with OpenTable, a couple of friends and I went to celebrate the end of finals and the beginning of our holiday seasons.  

As I glanced over the menu and tried to choose a reasonable amount of food to order, I made a few quick observations: 

1. There are lots of options - from chicken to bahn mi to noodle to barbeque-esque dishes, there are a lot of options for whatever you're in the mood for. And the good thing about this range is...
2. There is pricing to fit every budget - as a graduate student, and also a recent college student, finding a good meal for cheap in DC can be difficult.  Thankfully, Mama Rouge has items ranging from $10-$30, with some of the cheaper menu items being their bahn mi's and noodle dishes.  This makes it easy to find some unique dishes without racking up a huge bill! Definitely a plus in my book.

Upon finally deciding on some items, we decided to start with some Chicken Lettuce Wraps and the Pork Belly Bao Buns.  Unfortunately, I seem to have deleted some of the pictures I took, but I was definitely impressed with both of them.  The chicken lettuce wraps were perhaps a little bit less unique than some of the other dishes, but it was a light dish to start our meals with.  The pork belly buns were as usual, one of my favorites.  Anything with pork belly is a win for me, and this take on a Chinese classic.  

For my entree, I ordered the Bean thread noodles, which came with chicken, cilantro, basil, and a delicious sauce with a heavy dose of chiles.  It was definitely a spicy dish, but with me, the spicier it is, the better!  This is also one of those dishes that doesn't look too spectacular, but the blend of flavors is delicious.

Another dish my friend ordered with the Spicy herb chicken, which was a delicious mix of chicken, chimichurri, sriracha, and the most tender chicken I've had in awhile.

I'm already eyeing this dish for the next time I go....

Finally for dessert, I finished off with some Creme Brule, which was absolutely amazing.  It was light, creamy, while still being decadent.  It was the perfect end to my meal!

The only dish we were slightly unsatisfied with was my friend's Crepe Suzette.  Although the flavors alone were delicious,  the Suzette sauce seemed to overwhelm the texture and flavor of the crepe, making the crepe seem like it was drowning in the sauce.  The amount of sauce probably could have been halved while still remaining true to the Crepe Suzette recipe, so we wouldn't order that again.

All in all, I (and my friends) were very impressed with the experience. Although Mama Rouge is fairly new, the food was good and unique, with enough options for any mood, and the concept is done well for the most part.  Southeastern cuisine already blends many flavors, but the addition of French techniques is something I don't see very often here in DC.

Would I go back? Absolutely.  I'm going to have to revisit this again and try some more menu items to officially declare it in my top list of restaurants, but it has a solid menu.  Unfortunately, due to my gluten sensitivities, I won't be able to try out their croissant bahn mi's, which has received a lot of praise.  However, the plethora of rice-noodle and rice based dishes means I can still try a lot of items on the menu!  I imagine that with some more tweaking and a few months extra time, this place can become truly spectacular!

For more information, check out the Mama Rouge website.
To make reservations, try out OpenTable.  
(They're also great to manage all your other reservations!)

3000 K Street Northwest, 
Washington, DC 20007
Phone: (202) 333-4422

Have any of you tried Mama Rouge?  What do you think?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Well hello there....

Long time, no see!  I hope that all of you in the US had a great Thanksgiving full of food, family, and relaxation!  Despite my best intentions to keep up with all my food and beauty shenaniganing, school and work have taken over.  After Black Friday/Cyber Monday/Cyber Week and all the holiday deals that have been going on, I have been in shopping heaven, but my wallet has been slightly unhappy!  

We're reaching the final stretch and my frenzy of paper writing will be over in just a little over week, and then I can finally focus on what I love writing about best....all things beauty and food.

I've tried for weeks and weeks every month to get up a favorites post because I have been trying out so many new products, but alas, I have written with no success, so just hang in there!

For now, here's a little teaser of what I've been doing as a study break...

Hazelnut shortbread cookies.

Definitely not healthy; definitely not gluten-free; but most definitely made my family happy.  My baking addiction continues, even if I'm not eating it.  But don't worry, I snuck in a couple (unsuccessful) GF versions myself ;)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

For the Hummus Addicted: Sabra Hummus House in Washington, DC

Bringing you all a quick post about a must-go-to restaurant only available for a couple more weeks!  Having a packed schedule from day-night leaves me with little time to sit down and blog, but I had to get this up so you can all enjoy it while there's time.

I love hummus.  It's dangerous to put me near a tub of hummus because I will try to eat it with every meal.  With eggs, vegetables, bread, name it.  Imagine my excitement when I heard that Sabra was opening up a pop-up restaurant in DC!  It basically meant that I had to go and check it out.

I quickly arranged to meet at the Sabra Hummus House with a friend to indulge in a hummus centered meal.
My first impressions - the people are really friendly.  If I hadn't read beforehand that you absolutely do not need to tip, I would have thought they were competing for some serious tips. All the waitresses were incredibly accommodating and helped make the environment relaxing.  As I was waiting for my friend, one of the hostesses asked me for her name and actually stood outside until she came in. Even though it's a really small space, making it easy for the staff to be attentive, this extra step really impressed me.

The decor is also really nice. Although unfortunately my phone died before I was even in the restaurant,so I couldn't get any pictures.  But there's a nice earthy, homey feel to the restaurant with incense and candles burning throughout.

Although there aren't too many options for food, all of it sounded amazing.  The only concern I had is that they didn't have many gluten-free options.  However, I wasn't really in a position to complain because hummus is usually eaten with pita anyway...I'm sure I could have asked for vegetables instead of pita in all of the dishes, but I decided to opt for the one hummus dish that was already served with vegetables. I figured since I was in a hummus-themed restaurant, it was only fair that pita would be the standard accompaniment.  However, I was still extremely satisfied in eating my vegetables with the spreads and dips.  The vegetables were so fresh, and complemented the hummus perfectly. I know that the chef tried to source as many things locally as possible, and my vegetables were part of that. In fact, I knew they were serious about freshness when I saw actual fresh vegetables are part of the decor.

I think I would definitely go back just to try out everything else on the menu. There isn't a huge selection, and I wonder if that would change if Sabra House became an actual restuarant.  However, what's available now offers a fresh and healthy meal!

If you are interested, get down to Georgetown ASAP!
They are only open until October 26!

For more information, check out their website!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Catrice: Mini Reviews and Swatches

 Aaah,Catrice.  One of my favorite drugstore brands.  Every time I travel to Europe, I am always eager to check out their collections.  They are always changing up their core collection - good if you want to try different things, but bad if you really like a product because you have no idea how long they'll be around for.

I already have a good selection of eyeshadows and nail polishes from Catrice, and I've been a fan of their products since the beginning.  For only 2,75, their eyeshadows have consistent quality.  The mattes are pigmented and buttery smooth, and they always manage to come up with unique colors.  I can safely say that some of my favorite eyeshadows are from Catrice!

Their nail polishes are also always on pointe. They have a fantastic selection of colors, both shimmery and matte, and I love their formulas. The nail polishes are conistently pigmented, opaque, and last for a long time - around a week - with my standard Seche Vite base and top coat.

I also really like the lipsticks from Catrice, although a lot of the shades aren't quite my style.  I have one MMLB-ish shade, but that's about as extensive as my lip collection from them goes.  This time, I found a couple more shades that I wanted to try, but I didn't actually go crazy for once.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Restaurants in DC - Oyamel

It seems that even though I love to eat my way through DC, I rarely ever actually post about it. I think it's because most of the time, I am just so excited by the food that I start eating it before I actually take photos.  Food blogger faux pas, I know......

Except I'm hoping to make a fresh start and start blogging my food adventures.  Although I try not to eat out too often,  there are days when I just want to try something completely different that I know I have no ability to make.   And when the occasion to go to an Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull concert came around, I knew that it was one of those times I wanted to go out of my way to try a new restaurant I've always wanted to try that isn't just a neighborhood favorite.

Enter Oyamel.

I had heard about Oyamel from so many people, along with the other restaurants that the Chef, Chef José Andrés owns.  Although we had originally planned on going to Proof, we changed our minds at the last minute and decided on something a little more whimsical and Spanish/Central/South American themed to get us in the spirit of the concert.  Cue me looking through Open Table to find a restaurant within the Penn Quarter area near the Verizon Center that wouldn't be completely packed..and I stumbled upon Oyamel.

A little side note here, OpenTable has been pretty useful for me in trying to figure out what restaurant to go to, especially when I just search for a time that I can go to and the area that I'm going to be in.  It takes the trouble of calling around different restaurants trying to find one that will work for me.  And by going through OpenTable, I have compiled a verrrry long list of more restaurants that I want to try out.  This is a pretty well known tip by now, but still, I'm realizing more and more how useful they are.

Right from the front door, it is easy to see that a lot of thought went into the design of the restaurant.  There are monarch butterfly designs scattered throughout the restaurant, and the orange/red paint gives off a great vibe.  According to their website, Oyamel is named for the fig trees that monarch butterflies take refuge in during their migration. I have to admit, the butterflies weren't something I expected out of a Mexican restaurant, but after being in there for awhile, I can tell that it definitely fits with the whimsical theme of the restaurant.

Oyamel kind of uses a tapas style, antitjitos, small plates philosophy, which is always fun for me.  It gives me the opportunity to try out multiple things at once.  They have all sorts of dishes, as well as a great selection of tacos.    But, does anyone else get overwhelmed by menus whenever they go to a restaurant?  I love eating, but I am also so indecisive. Thankfully, Oyamel has a large menu, but I was able to pick out the top things that I wanted to try pretty quickly.  

While we waited for our orders, we munched on chips and salsa and  enjoyed some drinks.  I'm usually a beer person, but they have quite an impressive list of cocktails that I would love to try out.  

One quick note in here, and probably important for many of you - I was really impressed with their service.  We had made a note before we started ordering that we had to make it to a concert later that night so we made sure that all the food we ordered would come out fairly quickly.  Everything came out quickly, even when our waiter said it would probably take about 10 minutes, and all the servers were so friendly to us.  The chicken mole we ordered came out just a few minutes after receiving our chips, which worked just fine for me because I was starving by that point.

Chicken Mole, by the way, is one of those dishes I always order whenever I'm in a Mexican restaurant.  The complexity of the sauce means that I haven't even attempted making it myself yet, but the mix of poblano, chile, and chocolate is the most amazing combination of spicy, bitter, and sweet.It came with a generous side of herbed rice, which was also incredible. It was flagrant and flavorful, but not too strong to compete with the mole sauce.  I could probably eat this everyday....

To keep with the "quick and light" theme, we ordered two tacos each.  Again, I think they might just be a tad expensive, but I think the flavors made it worth it.  I ordered the "Tinga poblana con puerco" - Pork with chorizo, lettuce, and avocado.  Anything with chorizo, pork, and avocado is a win in my book, but the real standout was the "Pancita de puerco al pasto," or also known as pork belly, with some pineapples thrown in there as well.  Pork belly is one of my favorite foods to eat, no matter how decadent it is, and the pineapple was a really great addition to cut through the fat of the pork belly.

Total satisfaction in the form of tacos.

Although we didn't have the time to eat through a full meal,  the little samplings we ordered left me wanting more. While I've eaten at quite a few restaurants in DC, not too many of them will stand out enough to have me thinking about it for days after.  DC is certainly in no shortage of restaurants, but I think what ultimately sold me was the overall environment of the restaurant.  I just felt relaxed, and like I could have fun.  This time around, the decor played a pretty role in my experience in the restaurant.  That along with the easy going servers who were attentive to our requests, and the great food that came out makes me want to go back...and soon.  I think next time I'm there, some "must eats" are their tacos with grasshopper, the "Chapulines," and their Papas al mole - potato fries with mole sauce...although I honestly would happily eat anything on their menu!

Who can resist a picture in front of some butterflies?

Next time you're in the mood for some fun Mexican, and you're not looking for a restaurant to overstuff you with food, check out Oyamel.

And make reservations with OpenTable because they get pretty busy.

Oyamel Website
Make a reservation with OpenTable 

401 7th Street NW, Washington DC  
(Penn Quarter; Gallery Place)

Got any other favorite restaurants in DC?  Let me know because I'm always up for eating....and make sure you stay tuned for more restaurant reviews in the future!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Empties: Summer Edition compiled

Every time I tried to write this post, it seems that I've gotten distracted and quickly moved on to more exciting posts.  Not that talking about empties isn't exciting, but when I'm running around to different countries and have shiny new products to play with...well, THAT's exciting.

Because I kept delaying this, the empties that I had started to slowly pile up.  And instead of slowly surrounding myself with empty products, I took pictures of them in installments.  All of this comprises empties from about April through August....and there's a lot so let's get started!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Exploring Art Deco: Eyeshadows, Blush, and FOTD

I first heard about Art Deco a few years ago before I knew anything about German makeup and have been trying to get my hands on it ever since.  For some reason, I really love the idea of being able to build my own palette, and Art Deco has plenty of options for doing so with their assortment of blushes and eyeshadows.

The first time I was in Germany, I picked up a couple of eyeshadows, which I love dearly, but I've found some real winners this time in the collection as well.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

August 2014 Favorites

While I'm sitting over here slightly depressed that the end of August marks the unofficial end of summer for me, I am at least excited about the amount of new products I have been able to play with ever since coming back home.  Although I love the simplicity of having just a few products to choose from when I put on my makeup,  being back with my normal selection is exciting all the same.

But even though I switched it up almost every day, there were still a few products that I tended to reach for often, and products that I just completely fell in love with.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Quinoa salad - the lemon chickpea edition (Gluten-free, vegan possible)

I told you all that this summer would be the summer of quinoa salads, and although there was a little bit of a hiatus with all my traveling, I'm not quite done with them yet.  With corn coming in season, it's all I can think about eating.  There's nothing like the taste of fresh sweet corn mixed in with...well, just about anything I have in my fridge.

For the latest installment in my quinoa salad saga, I wanted to make a fresh, minty salad that would be filling and easy to eat.  This is another one of those salads that I make for the week and come home and eat after a busy day when the last thing I want to do is cook.

What I like about this salad is that I can eat it hot or cold, and it mixes well with so many things.  You could throw in some spinach in here for more greens, or some chicken for even more protein.  

My inspiration for this recipe came from, but as usual, I added my own twists to it.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Catrice Metallure Luminizing Bronzer - Rosy Gold Gallore

Although I'm in no short supply of highlighters, I can't seem to resist a good highlighter when I see one.  During a little foray through the aisles in the German drugstore, I stopped in my tracks at the new Catrice display with some beautiful metallic eyeshadows, nail polishes, lipsticks....and this beauty.

Rose Gold Perfection.

This was one of those products that I knew was going to be mine, even as I tried to convince myself out of buying it.  I was able to pass on the rest of the collection, but a "luminizing bronzer" light enough as a highlighter on my skin is actually something new to my collection.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Berlin: the cafe edition

As I’m sitting reunited with my favorite café in DC, it seems fitting to reminisce and talk about my favorite cafés in Berlin.  There is no shortage of cafes in Berlin, that much should be obvious.  Whether you are looking for a cozy cafe to curl up in and read a book or a busy cafe to get you working, Berlin has it.  I have to say, there are far too many cafes for me to visit...I mean there are too many cafes on my street for me to even visit in just a few weeks.

When I visit cafes, I have to admit that I make a lot of my judgments based off the atmosphere and not necessarily just the coffee.  Don't get me wrong, I will not enjoy my time if I receive a lukewarm coffee or badly made espresso, but I'm not claiming to be a coffee connoisseur. I want my coffee to be strong, but I'm not at the level of being able to detect different notes in my coffee...yet.  But if you want that anyway, Berlin is also the place to go for good coffee.

However, the places I'm including in this post are the cafes I have frequented; they are tried and true favorites for me to get my coffee fix and also sit down to do a little bit of work. There are some famous coffee places in Berlin, including The Barn, Bonanza Coffee Heroes, Double Eye, and Sankt Oberholz among many many others, but some of these a little more unknown.  It can be easy to become overwhelmed by the abundance of cafes and restaurants in Berlin, so I hope this helps some of you out who are looking for some different options.

The first café was essentially right around the corner from my apartment, making it easy for me to pop over and grab some coffee and catch up on my emails.  It had the qualities of an ideal café for me – good coffee, nice people, a cozy environment, and fast Wi-fi…which unfortunately can be harder to find in Berlin than most people think.  It was also in my favorite district of the city Schöneberg, a quiet historical area in the center of Berlin.  By historical area, I mean that it was the cultural center of Berlin during the Weimar Period, aka one of my favorite historical periods.

Leberstraße 21, 10829 Berlin
S-bahn Julius Leber Brücke or S-bahn Südkreuz 
The first time I visited Mokalola was through the recommendation of someone I knew.  She encouraged us to find out what the name of the café meant.  It turns out that it was named as a nod to its location in Schöneberg, and especially after Marlene Dietrich, born near the cafe in Schöneberg and ultimate femme fatale. One of her most famous roles was as Lola in The Blue Angel, making Mokalola an adorable name for the café.

photo from flickr because I forget to take pictures....

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Travel Makeup for Long Trips - packing the essentials

What do I do when I have to pack for a 5 week trip with only a 55L backpack and a smaller regular sized backpack?  Pack the essentials, make sure everything is absolutely fool-proof, and use as many space saving solutions as possible. 

For my first packing post, I thought I would show you how I packed my makeup, and how I managed to pare everything down to the bare essentials (sort of) for a 5 week trip.  Except for my lip products...because when I keep my eyes simple I need to have options with my lip products. I'm quite proud of everything else that I packed, as now that I'm back from the trip I can safely say that I used everything, but wasn't lacking anything!

The trick for me was packing as many travel sized/samples of products as possible for me.  I basically amassed everything I could find in a travel size and brought them with me.  This includes travel size brushes, and *shudder*..using sponge-tip applicators as my eye brushes!

How it all fit in my two makeup bags, complete with foundation spills.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Berlin: some sightseeing

Although I managed to do a lot of sightseeing my first time around in Berlin, there was still so much more I hadn't seen.  I didn't actually go to a lot of the museums or typical sightseeing sites, but I did manage to get out a couple days and face the crowds of people downtown to explore everything Berlin has to offer.  

In terms of history and culture, Berlin is a fantastic city.  For a history nerd like me, I never get tired of the museums and memorials.  While Berlin has had somewhat of a dark history, I credit them for trying to come to terms with it.  I view it as a way to incorporate the past into the present, a part of a permanent reconstruction of Berlin.  In this way, Berlin will never be "finished."  It is constantly evolving, seamlessly weaving the new in with the old, because there is no strong distinction between an "old" city of historical buildings and a new city of business and fancy architecture.  It is all placed together, and part of what makes Berlin so special.

Berlin Wall Memorial at Bernauerstrasse


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

On Being Back in Berlin

Berlin.  The original destination for this entire trip.  The city I’ve endlessly talked about the entire year, waiting for the moment I could finally be back in the city that so effortlessly defined me and even more than that, was me.  

Lots of people have asked me, “Why German?” or even better, “Why Berlin?”  And to tell you the truth, I have no idea.  Part of it was because I wasn’t really interested in learning Spanish, French, or Latin in school, but part of me was also puzzled when I started learning German and fell completely in love.  It was one of those gut instincts that I knew I was doing the right thing and making the right decisions.

As for Berlin?  Call it weird, but I always knew I would come here.  It was another one of those feelings that I knew I would love it.  Before coming here the first time, I always wondered if I had built up this fantasy image of Berlin in my head; that I was looking for something I wouldn’t be able to find, especially in a city (or country) I had never visited.  Upon my arrival in Berlin for the first time last year, I knew that wasn’t going to be the case at all. Never have I had the sensation that everything was sinking into place the same way I felt when I was settling into Berlin.  

I admit, I had some trepidations about coming back the second time around.  Although I knew I loved it the first time, I keep hearing how people seem to find things different the next time visit, and end up realizing they don’t love it as much as they did before.  I always had a good instinct about Berlin, but I couldn’t help but be afraid that the same thing would happen to me – that I would realize my love for Berlin was just an infatuation and not really the city I was looking for my entire life.  It turns out that I should just trust my instincts because I seem to love it even more the second time around.  
From the quiet to buzzing and alive; from the cafes to the craziest clubs, Berlin has it all.  It’s a city for everyone, but at the same time while at the same time takes some getting used  to.  It’s not a city that jumps out in its beauty or glamor or friendliness in the same way other cities like New York, Paris, or London attracts people, but spend a little bit of time here and you realize the city is buzzing.  It starts early in the morning, from the fresh bread and fruit at the markets to the coffee in the afternoon, and lasting long into the night at the bars and clubs around the city…taking you all the way to the first morning light when you finally stumble home and then do it all over after a couple hours of sleep.  What strikes me is the ability for anyone to fit in – and how everyone seems to mesh together.

Berlin is a really hard city for me to capture in photographs.  To me, there is no way to really adequately show the city in photos as nothing correctly shows the life and beauty of the city.  Those moments are almost too intimate - as if I'm intruding on peoples' personal lives by snapping a photograph on the Ubahn or the way a man walks his dog down the street, quietly whistling for it to follow along or the way two friends chat in a cafe.  It's these little moments that make me cherish the city, and also the moments that I don't capture on camera.  But I tried anyway.

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Hauling Begins: Barcelona and shopping in Spain

In case you haven't noticed, I've been in Spain recently.  In case you also haven't noticed, I like to shop.  So when I combine the two together, surely some magic has to happen.

I actually wasn't planning on buying too much, but of course things never go as planned.  While wandering through all these streets, I came upon so many nice stores and found some unexpected items that I absolutely love.

The first, and probably most treasured purchase of this trip was this black bag from a small boutique in Barcelona.  It was pretty much love at first sight with the large slouchy, but also slightly structured shape, and brown handles.  And although it is not real leather, it is still a soft buttery material.  I have been looking for a new tote bag for awhile, but did not expect to find it while I was in Barcelona at all, so I'm pretty happy with this purchase...but that's not even the best part.

It's actually three bags.  Yep.  There's a smaller bag inside that can be used as a shoulder bag (and also has become an essential for me), and there's also an even smaller wristlet/coin purse.  All for 40 Euros.  There was no way I wasn't buying this.

I'm really impressed with the quality, and I can fit my laptop (14'') plus everything I else I need for the day and I usually still have tons of space left.  I have been using it like crazy since it's really the only bag I have right now.  

This is just the beginning.  Read after the jump for more shopping!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Paris, the second time around.

Oh, Paris, you iconic city.  You're known as the city of lights and the city for romance; the city every girl dreams of visiting.  The city of beautiful architecture, art, history, food, fashion, and of course - the Eiffel Tower.  It holds a certain magic that keeps millions of people coming, and then coming back over the years.  

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Hot Off the Shelves: Kiko Daring Game Collection and Queen of Hearts Eyeshadow Palette (review and tutorial)

Stumbling into another Kiko store, I picked up some of the remaining items that I wanted to buy before going back to the states (which I'll be compiling a huge post for soon!), I was about to check out before I realized that I missed an entirely new display in the store. 

It seemed to be completely new, as the testers looked barely touched, and I can't even find it online on the website yet, but everything was gorgeous.   I had to exercise restraint not to buy everything in the collection.  Although I didn't take pictures of the display (oops), it seemed to be designed after a deck of cards.  Everything was card (aka rectangular) shaped in a white pearly packaging with an image of a suit on the front. The image is metallic and reflects light beautifully.  I believe that all the palettes have a different color, as well!  Kiko always impresses me with its packaging - I love standard black packaging, and I'm sure that that's the reason I'm so drawn to Kiko in the first place, but their limited edition packaging is always so unique and well thought out that they deserve extra points for that, too.

Although I've been saving all my recently acquired items for a master post later on, I wanted to try this out and let you all know to be on the lookout for this in your Kiko stores.  It wasn't too hard for me to walk away from the blush palettes since I could think of a dupe I already had for most of the shades but oh lord the eyeshadow palettes.  There were three that looked equally gorgeous, but I made myself choose just one.  It wasn't hard.  It was the neutral one. 

To be fair, it reminds me of the MAC  x Pedro Lourenco nude quad that I lusted after, but decided not to buy.  This quad had the same rosy neutral shades, but for much less money.  I could see myself using this one to death, especially as fall rolls around.

Even the outer packaging of this is gorgeous!  I think I'll definitely be saving the box of this one.

Most of the items in the collection (bronzer, blush, and eyeshadow palettes) were 14,90.

Read after the jump for my thoughts, swatches, and a full face look!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

A Weekend in Frankfurt

Although Spain was where I did most of my vacationing and traveling before going back to Berlin, I did a quick little stop in Frankfurt for a weekend to visit a friend. Known as "Mainhattan" because of its skyline and business, it's not the typical "tourist" destination, but it is a beautiful city all the same.  The last time I was here, it was smack in the middle of winter and absolutely freezing.  I didn't properly enjoy the city because being outside for more than 5 minutes was painful, but the warmer weather this time meant that I could walk around outside and actually enjoy it. 

Part of what makes Frankfurt so beautiful is the Main River.  Walking along the river right in the middle of the city or across the bridges really gives a stunning view with the skyscrapers on one side, and the old city on the other side. 

The weekend that I was there, Frankfurt was just getting over some bad weather, but the sunshine peaking through added to the beautiful views on the Main. 

Here are some highlights from the weekend!
Not pictured are photos from the night of the World Cup Final....being there right in the middle of celebrations was absolutely crazy, but I got so excited that I forgot to take photos....womp.

Can't resist Currywurst.  Ever.

While we were at this market in Hauptwache, I also tried out an amazing Apfelwein-Rosé.  I can't find a picture of it, although I swore I took one, but if you go to Frankfurt, be sure to try this out!