Easy Bruschetta Dinner

Our apartment is tiny, obviously. We live in NYC. That said, having the oven on at all makes in the indoor temperature skyrocket. In the warmer months, we really appreciate a no-heat dinner. We attempted our own spin on bruschetta recently and I have a feeling it’s going to become our go-to dinner over the summer!

It’s incredibly easy – no heat, no measuring, and no rules except to find the freshest ingredients available to you.

We use:

Organic beefsteak tomatoes, a small white or yellow or red onion, whichever happens to be closest, 3 to 5 (ok closer to 5) cloves of garlic, fresh basil leaves, dried oregano, pepper, olive oil, and red wine vinegar.

Most recently we had some fresh mozzarella so we threw that in, too.

Here’s the secret ingredient: Fleur de Sel.

Literally just chop everything to your desired size, put it all in a bowl, and stir. Serve on toast or baguette or toasted baguette. You can make as little or as much as you like.

The best part? If you have any leftover, it makes amazing omelet filling or scrambled egg topping for your breakfast the next day!

What are your favorite no heat meals?

15. April 2014 by alina
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DIY Custom Coverage Foundation

One of the perks of working at Birchbox, aside from a free subscription, is that we occasionally get brands and makeup artists coming into the office to teach master classes.

Recently, Shirley Pinkson from W3LL PEOPLE was in the office teaching us how to do a “no make-up” make-up look. She had some great tips but the one that really stuck with me was how to create your own custom coverage foundation.

All you need is a dab of beauty balm, like the One Love Organics Skin Savior Waterless Beauty Balm, and your favorite mineral powder makeup. Shirley used the W3LL PEOPLE Altruist Satin Mineral Foundation.

You can take a bit of the balm, enough to cover the pad of your index finger, and dip it straight into the powder. Any product that comes in contact with the balm will stick to it, so you don’t have to worry about ending up with bit of beauty balm in your powder. Then you can blend it on the back of your hand, adjust the amount of powder if you want more coverage, and apply. Whatever balm is left on your fingers you can dip back into the powder to create a heavier coverage blend to use as concealer.

I tried it out this morning, but changed up the formula a bit and added a drop of the MAC Strobe Liquid to create more of a glow-y dewy finish. I found the beauty balm to be quite emollient, even when applied sparingly, so I finished with a thin layer of transparent powder, just to prevent it from slipping around. You could probably use the same powder foundation very sparingly to set if you want a bit more coverage. And the verdict?

Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 4.08.55 PM

I love it! You can add more or less pigment to alter the finish from a full coverage foundation to a simple tinted moisturizer. The beauty balm is super hydrating but the thin layer and the added powder pigment prevent your face from becoming too much of an oil slick. I think this would be a great idea for traveling because the balm can double as an all over moisturizer and triple as a makeup remover and cleanser. You also don’t need to worry about matching a concealer to foundation because the powder is the same shade, just a different amount of coverage. Also if you tan a bit, just add some mineral bronzer to the powder before you blend and you’re good to go! So much simpler than carrying around a dozen different products.

Have you tried creating a custom foundation at home? Will you try this recipe? This beauty balm is genius! (And it smells amazing and citrus-y)!

11. April 2014 by alina
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Pastel Makeup – Birchbox

Back again doing tutorials for Birchbox! Short and to the point this time. Check it out below!


P.S. I love that W3LL PEOPLE Color Stick and their Bio-Extreme mascara is AMAZING. I got a preview of it pre-launch and it’s not only a great natural mascara, it’s a great mascara period. I’m obsessed and haven’t been using anything else on my lashes since I got it about a month ago. Which is saying something huge coming from me!

10. April 2014 by alina
Categories: Beauty | 2 comments

Weekly Beauty

There are a few products that aren’t meant to be used every day. Some of these I use more frequently than a weekly basis, but generally this is the routine I’ve been sticking to recently.

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 10.03.34 AMMonday – The GLAMGLOW Brightmud Eye Treatment is a great way to start the week. I smear it on while I make my coffee or do my hair and wipe it off with a tissue before doing my makeup. It’s really refreshing and brightening and makes Monday mornings a little more glamorous. Bonus points for looking like you spent the whole weekend sleeping instead of staying up all night binge watching True Detective.

Tuesday – I self-tan on Tuesdays. My first attempt this season was on a Tuesday, and since fake tanning on top of fake tan can look… fake… I wait a week in between to let it fade. This St. Tropez Self Tan Luxe Dry Oil is amazing. It’s so easy to apply and looks incredibly natural. It absorbs quickly and doesn’t require tons of rubbing in. It also has a bit of a shimmery bronzer in it to help tell where and how much you’ve applied. The scent is citrusy when applied but it does fade into that self-tan smell throughout the day (I weirdly happen to love that smell).

Wednesday – At this point in the week my hair is almost completely lifeless. I try to avoid washing it whenever possible and by midweek it’s looking a bit scraggly. The Bumble and Bumble Pret-a-Powder helps with that. It has an incredible fragrance, is easy to apply (I just part my hair, shake a bit on the roots, and then work it in with my fingers) and makes hair look perfectly textured and somewhat clean. I also use this on actually clean hair to give it a bit of grip and volume at the roots. Highly recommend this tiny bottle that lasts forever and is super travel friendly since it’s not in an aerosol can like many other dry shampoos.

Thursday – Thursday always ends up being the day where you accidentally end up going out after work. Why is that?! I never expect it, but I frequently end up grabbing a drink or two after leaving the office. To keep my makeup looking fresh well into the evening, I trust the NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base. It’s literally the best on the market for keeping your eye makeup from creasing, smearing, fading, all of the things you don’t want to happen when your 8 hour day ends up being closer to 12.

Friday – On days where you intentionally stay out late and drink slightly more than is recommended, it’s really easy to go to bed without washing your face. And by Friday, after a whole weeks worth of work, I am exhausted. I know it’s not ideal, but I’ll frequently turn to the Yes To Cucumbers Facial Towelettes to at least get my makeup off before tumbling face first into my pillow. These are soothing, effective, and affordable. What more do you need?!

Saturday and Sunday – Ah, the weekend. A time for sleeping in, pampering, and generally doing things you don’t have time for during the week. Like full body scrubs, deep hair masks, and cooking elaborate meals. Or cooking meals at all. Or just ordering sushi from Seamless. Whatever. I’m obsessed with the Lush Ocean Salt scrub. It has such a fresh scent and leave skin unimaginably soft and smooth and moisturized. I’m on my third tub! I hate repurchasing products because I love trying new things even if what I was using was perfectly satisfactory, but this stuff is incredible. Along the same vein, the Macadamia Natural Oil Deep Repair Mask is a multiple purchased product as well. I used to use it as a daily conditioner, but love it as a weekly treatment as well. The scent is a little less than sophisticated but it honestly feels so good to use that I don’t even care.

What does your weekly beauty routine look like? Do you have specific products you use every week? Let me know!



09. April 2014 by alina
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Going Blonde

So strange, I know. If you’d ever suggested to me I should go lighter with my hair, I probably would have laughed. But It was time for a change and I didn’t want to lose much length so color it was!

A little over a year ago I had probably the worst highlight experience of my life. They were streaky and chunky and orange and terrible. I hated it so much that about three weeks later I went out and bought a box of “Dark Cool Espresso Brown” hair dye and covered it up. Every couple or months or so I would be convinced I saw those damn highlights peeking through and would buy another box of dye. It was fine, my hair was incredibly dark, and that suited me just fine.

But onwards and upwards. A friend of mine from work always has AMAZING color, so I asked for her colorist’s information and made an appointment. I saw Flores at Arrojo (of Nick Arrojo/What Not To Wear fame) and it was incredible. The space was clean and well laid out and they were super accommodating. I’d made an appointment just for single process color (silly me) so they were able to shift and juggle things around to make enough time for me to have everything done.

Here’s the original color I was going for:

IMG_1791Flores was super nice and explained how going from my box dyed super dark color to Kim K’s not quite natural blonde would take a couple different steps. Going all at once would probably destroy my hair and wind up looking not so nice. We decided it would be better to break it up more in order to keep it looking pretty at each step of the way instead of trying to push it too much and leave me with undesirable color for a 4-6 week stint.

So here’s what I started with:

IMG_1781Here’s what I looked like during (my friend Lisa said I could just keep the plastic and stick with the Lady Gaga look):



And here’s the final-for-now result!

IMG_1787Please please please ignore my dopey selfie face!

I’m super happy with the results. I’m going back in a few weeks for stage 2 on my hair journey. I’m excited to change it up with my makeup and clothing and see how it compliments the new shade. I also still catch glimpses of myself in passing mirrors and get startled. Who is that?!

What do you think of my new hue? Have you ever drastically changed your hair color?




11. February 2014 by alina
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The PLJ – Perfect Leather Jacket

When I first moved to New York, I bought the most amazing white leather jacket. It was incredibly soft, incredibly versatile, and incredibly on sale. I would name it one of my top 5 favorite articles of clothing ever owned. EVER OWNED.

Unfortunately, it was destroyed in a tragic and kind of gross way. I don’t want to get into it, mostly because I’m still upset about it and it really is gross and I’ve been looking for a replacement ever since.

This weekend, I was doing some window shopping and decided to pop into Intermix just to see what was there. Big mistake.

I found the world’s second most perfect leather jacket. Almost as soft, almost as versatile, and almost as made for me as the original. Unfortunately, it wasn’t nearly as wallet friendly.

PROD_HANA_651This IRO Intermix Exclusive is in the color “Pink Rose” which is an amazing pale pink, almost lavender that makes it undeniably perfect for spring AND fall, and you could probably get away with it in summer and winter too. It’s not too fussy with its pockets and zippers (you know how moto jackets can get with all the crazy hardware) and is just the right length. It can dress up a pair of jeans and dress down a little black dress. I’m honestly smitten.

Too bad it’s $1,250.

Maybe one day, you shall be mine, little pink jacket!

Until then I’ll try to be satisfied simply by blogging you.


27. January 2014 by alina
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Top 13 of 2013

Yep, it’s been a while since we said goodbye to 2013, but these were my favorite products of the year anyway.

Screen Shot 2014-01-23 at 3.39.50 PM


Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer – I wear shade SX09 in this magical magical stuff. It’s a highly pigmented foundation/concealer that can be sheered out to nothing or built up to completely opaque. It makes your skin look perfect, but still like skin. I’m hooked.

Seche Vite Quick Dry Top Coat - For those occasions when you want your nails to look perfectly shiny with practically no drying time. Which should be every occasion, if you ask me.

Tom Ford Lipstick – The ultimate luxury lipstick. Cherry Lush is the perfect glam, slightly glossy, all day lasting, universally flattering red.

Hourglass Arch Brow Sculpting Pencil – This angled brow pencil is my go to for fast and perfect brows. I use the shade dark brunette to fill in and shape my brows when I’m in a hurry. I’m usually in a hurry.

Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray – I’ve mentioned before that if you have hair, you should pick up this product. Yes, it’s expensive, and yes, you go through it quickly, but there’s nothing like it on the market. It smells amazing and works on clean hair, dirty hair, long hair, short hair, and just makes your style perfect, whatever style it is.

Laura Mercier Artist Palette for Eyes, specifically the shade Fresco – I wanted to include the single of this eyeshadow, since I’ve had it and used it and loved it way longer than this palette, but couldn’t find a good picture of it. It’s the perfect warm, matte, nude/brown for blending, shading, etc. The palette is great in general, but that’s by far my most reached for shade from it.

Suki Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser - Smells like lemons, gently exfoliates, creates a luxe foam, leaves skin soft. My friend accidentally tasted it and said it tasted good too. All around win.

By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra Primer and Powder – These two products, before and after foundation, ensure smooth, plump skin, and foundation that lasts all day. 

Nuxe Reve de Miel Hand and Nail Cream - Smells amazing, hydrates deeply, doesn’t feel greasy. I’ve gone through 3 tubes I love it that much. It lives on my desk and saves my hands from the drying evils of office bathroom hand soap.

Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder in Medium - The perfect universal contour powder. This stuff gives me cheekbones. It’s also super blendable, buildable, and natural looking. I will never be without it.

Kiehl’s Powerful Strength Line Reducing Concentrate – Ok, yes, I was 24 for most of 2013, but this stuff doesn’t only fight wrinkles, it also hydrates and refines skin. It’s the perfect under-makeup moisturizer with an amazing texture. I’ve gone through two of them!

Lush Shoot for the Stars Bath Bomb - I only recently discovered Lush bath bombs because I only recently had a bath tub. They’re awesome. This one smells like their Honey I Washed the Kids soap and turns your regular bathwater a super soft beautiful blue. It’s also incredibly fun to watch it fizz.


Laura Mercier Creme Eyeliner in Noir - The easiest to apply, fastest drying, longest lasting cream/gel eyeliner I’ve found. It’s also super inky black and works great to tightline. I’m dying to pick up more colors, especially that cobalt blue!

If you liked this post, make sure you check out Daisy and Lisa’s bests of 2013 too!

23. January 2014 by alina
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Cinderella on Broadway

A few weeks ago, I went to Cinderella on Broadway with my mom, one of my best childhood friends (and bridesmaids!) and her mom. It was amazing.

I basically grew up watching the 1960s TV version, as did my mom. The broadway musical was a bit different: longer, updated, etc, but still completely wonderful. I thought I’d give it the same blog treatment as The Book of Mormon and Peter and the Starcatcher. Here it goes!





First, the costuming for the show is amazing. So many magical dresses that change right before your eyes! The peplum was a big theme as it allowed for mysterious fabrics and strategic layering. I’ve replicated the look with a pretty pinkish purple, also found throughout the show!

Also, since this is your modern Cinderella, she obviously can’t turn down a pair of leather trousers. She just won’t believe in sensible rules! I’m such a sucker for this look. This pair is from J Crew Collection. And while glass shoes may be nice in theory, this lucite pair from Stuart Weitzman might be a bit more forgiving to walk in with plenty of sparkle.

You don’t have to travel in a pumpkin, but this orange hued statement necklace from ASOS will brighten up any look. It’s possible.

If you’re going to stay out until midnight, you’ll need a lipgloss that lasts. Stila’s Stay-All-Day Vinyl Lipgloss will last longer than it takes to say the name of it. Also holds up to modest kissing. Smudged lip colors are so ten minutes ago.

And finally, after a late night, you’ll probably have some dark circles to hide. Don’t want to go trying on shoes looking like a raccoon! Reach for Bobbi Browns corrector in Bisque to perfect your under eyes so you, a plain country bumpkin, can find a prince to join in marriage, and four white mice are easily turned to horses!

Note: I don’t actually think that your under-eye circles will have any impact on whether or not you marry a prince. Also note, if you are not familiar with R&H’s Cinderella this post may or may not make very little sense.

14. January 2014 by alina
Categories: Beauty, Entertainment, Fashion | Leave a comment

Video Tutorial: Gunmetal Eyeshadow

I was lucky enough to get to do a video tutorial for Birchbox featuring the new Costal Scents Revealed Palette.


Check out how to get the look:



This palette is a dupe for the Urban Decay Naked 1/Naked 2, for a MUCH more reasonable price. This palette goes for about $20 while picking up both Nakeds will set you back over $100!


What do you think of this eyeshadow look?

14. January 2014 by alina
Categories: Uncategorized | 1 comment

Powder Eyeshadows for Brown Eyes

I have very dark hair and very dark eyes. Both brown. There are certain colors that I think really work with my coloring, and over the years I’ve managed to pick up various shades of them. These colors obviously won’t work for everyone, but they’re the ones I reach for almost any time I’m going to wear eyeshadow. I pair them with browns and beiges so they don’t look too overpowering, but they can be built up for a really bold look for a night out. A few of these are a bit scary, but especially for the fall and winter holidays, they’re very wearable!


photo 3

Direct natural lightphoto 2 Artificial bathroom light

Clinique Black Honey Eyeshadow – This is my most recent addition. It’s a beautiful reddish blackened purple. Black Honey is Clinique’s trademark shade (similar to Stila’s Kitten) in that they have a whole range of products in the color. I’ve tried the superbalm, almost lipstick, and now the eyeshadow and I’m constantly pleased with the color. This one adds a bit of depth and sparkle to eyes when applied and blended all over the lid.

Laura Mercier Illuminating Eye Shadow in Fire Glow – A lot of people look at this shade in the pan and think “no way!” It’s a copper-y orange and very unique. I like to place it right on the center of the lid to give a bit of a glow.

Clarins Eye Shadow Single in Gold Leaf – The formula here is SO nice and smooth and pigmented. It was almost too easy to swatch. I’d describe it as a true dark gold. I’m pretty sure this shade is discountinued since it’s not on the Clarins website, but they might have it at counters and I found it on Amazon.

The next three are from MAC – Antiqued which is permanent, Crimson Tryst, and Love’s Lure, which are limited edition and part of the Nudes and Metallics collection. Antiqued is really similar to Black Honey. A big lighter and redder. Crimson Tryst is more purple while Love’s Lure is much redder. I have to be pretty careful applying these as they’re super pigmented and bright, but they give a warm, bright look to my brown eyes.

Finally, Illamasqua Eyeshadow in Vintage. This is from the Neutral Palette. It’s an old, dirty gold, which does not sound appealing but looks a lot prettier than it sounds. It’s perfect paired with a red lip for a holiday party. The palette also contains light, medium, and dark neutral shades which makes it a perfect day-to-night palette for your makeup bag.



21. November 2013 by alina
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