Monday, April 21, 2014

The Best Anti-Aging Products for Day (a.k.a The 3 Products I Actually Use On My Own Skin)

From top: Skinceuticals Phloretin CF Gel; Elure Advanced Brightening Lotion; Olay Regenerist Regenerating Lotion SPF 50

Simply by nature of what I do, I end up switching beauty products a lot. Part of working in beauty is trying new things, so even if you find something you love, you end up cheating on it with some other hot new thing. There are exceptions to this though, especially with skin-care. 

Although I will always try new beauty products, once I find something that works for my skin--or that I'm particularly excited about--I can end up being loyal to it for quite awhile. Here are three products that I'm totally committed to. I use them every single morning--and don't plan to stray any time soon.

Skinceuticals Phloretin CF Gel - I edited a big magazine story recently all about the basic skin-care ingredients every woman should be using in her anti-aging regimen (the summary: antioxidants, retinol, brighteners, and sunscreen). Antioxidants are part of that group because they act as a shield during the day when you're exposed to the full-scale assault from things like UV rays and smog, helping to protect your skin from damaging, wrinkle-causing free radicals. I've used Skinceuticals antioxidants for years now and this one is my current favorite. I've always been really impressed with the science that goes into Skinceuticals products and I also love that this is a gel. I find it really easy to spread the gel over my skin, plus, top antioxidant researchers always recommend using serums or gels for antioxidants, versus lotions or creams. (Antioxidants are notoriously unstable, and these delivery systems tend to be more potent and more easily absorbed, experts say.)

Elure Advanced Brightening Lotion - This is the newest addition to my regimen. Here's why it made the cut: Over the past year or so, it has seemed like every other dermatologist I have interviewed has been recommending this product. Seriously. After I heard it mentioned for what must have been the tenth time, I decided there had to be something to it. It is a two-step system (you apply a lotion and then follow with a second "activator" lotion) that claims to reduce discoloration and even out skin tone. I don't have huge pigmentation issues, but I do have a few spots that I'd love to see disappear. I've been using it for about a month now, and while it obviously hasn't (yet!) totally erased my spots, my skin is noticeably brighter and clearer overall. I'm excited to keep using it and see what it does after another month or two.

Olay Regenerist Regenerating Lotion SPF 50 - I've been using this one for years. Years. Here's the thing: I have access to (literally) the fanciest, most expensive creams in the world for free, and this is what I use. I really love it. It's incredibly light--moisturizes effectively but doesn't feel at all greasy or heavy--and it's got a very high SPF, which is super important to me. Also, I have sensitive, breakout-prone skin, and I've never had a problem with it in that way, and that is key.

So, that's the trio that I slather on every morning, without fail. :) Do you guys have an anti-aging regimen that you stick to or any favorite skin-care products? If so, please tell me in the comments below--I'd love to hear what you love!

And if you have any questions about my morning skin-care regimen, feel free to ask me below. And let me know if you'd be interested in hearing about my nighttime routine. (That one's a bit more complicated!) 

Friday, April 18, 2014

11 Cool Things You Should Click Today

These gorgeous DIY (!) metallic Easter eggs were created by Miss Renaissance (tutorial here)

This week I worked a bunch, hit a few fun events, squeezed in a couple of Pilates sessions, and got very little sleep thanks to this guy. Now, today I'm heading to a SoulCycle class with my husband (his first!) and then prepping for Easter festivities. (We're having friends over for brunch and an egg hunt tomorrow!) 

Hope you all have a great holiday, if you're celebrating. Here, a few fun things to check out between bites of Cadbury eggs and pastel M&Ms. Enjoy!

• How much Easter candy you get for 100 calories. (Spoiler alert: It ain't much.)

• Just bought these pretty sandals. (How great are those dainty gold stars?) Now if only this endless winter would just end already, so that I can wear them.

• Putting PAAS to shame, check out these fashion-inspired Easter eggs. Especially love that Chanel one.

• I cannot stop staring at this amazing One Kings Lane makeover of photographer Gray Malin's outdoor space. The colors! The striped umbrella! The sectional! I want to go to there. Or, better yet, recreate it in my own backyard. Stay tuned...

• Great piece: There Is No Right Way to Have a Baby.  

• This slideshow of stars and their stunt doubles is so good. (And it reminded me of this hilarious star/stunt-double Tom Cruise/Ben Stiller parody from back in the day.)

• Apparently there's a shortage of Frozen merchandise in, basically, the entire world. And parents are going completely insane because of it. (Thank gawd that I threw this party before that happened!)

• On the slim chance you haven't yet seen this guy fail at Wheel of Fortune in the most truly humiliating way(s), then you must watch it. It's beyond cringeworthy, but hilarious. I just wish he wasn't representing my alma mater!

• Um, how gorgeous is this shot of Claudia?

• I want to wear this.

• I want to eat this. (Ok, and this.)

• I want to do this with my hair.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Best Rainy-Day Activity Ever: Hiho Batik

First step: Choosing the type of clothing to work with. They asked if she wanted to make a t-shirt and my girly girl answered: "I'm going to make a dress."

Next step: choosing a design 

We went with a fairy. Sorry--a princess fairy.

Here's where the magic happens: I'm sitting at a light table tracing the design onto the dress using a tool that dispenses hot wax. It was actually kind of meditative. And fun!

And now we're painting! Since my grown-up hand is steadier than her four-year-old one, she would choose the colors, then I would sponge on the dye. But notice her hand placement. As she can see, she was "helping."

The finished design!

On me: Sweater, J. Crew; necklace, J. Crew (also love this one); jeans, Rag & Bone. On her: T-shirt, Gap (on sale!); skirt, Old Navy; leggings, Old Navy.
The finished product! They dyed the dress after we left and mailed it to us. (She chose the purple color, obviously.) I, and my little model (note that Blue Steel there!), love the results. (Sunglasses, Gymboree.)
I am always looking for fun things to do with the kids (and, let's be honest, always looking for cute new clothes), so when Hiho Batik invited us to come make an item of clothing in their store, I was totally excited. As was my daughter, who recently announced that she wants to be a fashion designer when she grows up. We couldn't get to Park Slope, Brooklyn fast enough.

Once we got there on that rainy afternoon, she got right to work looking through the racks of clothes. I had long known that Hiho Batik sells loads of cute clothing both in their store and online (for kids and adults), but what I had only recently learned was that they'll teach you to batik a one-of-a-kind item right there in the store. (Simplified definition of batik: It's the process of creating designs on cloth with hot, dye-resistant wax and then dyeing the rest of the item a single color.)

After she selected to work with a dress (of course), we headed back to the studio-half of the store and got down to business. There are a million different designs to choose from--or you can design your own. You can even bring or send in your child's artwork and they'll copy it onto a piece. (I definitely want to come back and do that in the future.) But since my daughter is just now starting to draw (and the results are basically scribbles), we opted to choose one of the pre-made designs. We went with a fairy princess (shocker) and also added her name. 

Then, we moved over to a light table, where I traced the design onto a plain white dress and then traced on top of that with a little tool filled with hot wax. The wax forms a barrier against the dye, so that it keeps the outline white during the dyeing process. (Note: Having just turned four, it turns out she was a little too young for most of the actual doing in this process--well, if we wanted to end up with a design that resembled anything remotely fairy-like...and avoid being burned with hot wax. But she loved watching and still totally felt like she was still a part of it. Even very-slightly older kids, or those with a steadier hand, would be fine.) 

Next, we moved on to the coloring phase. She chose the colors and I dabbed them onto the fabric with a sponge brush. (She kept her hand placed over mine and "helped.") And then we were done! Hiho Batik dyes the main color of your item over the next few days (you choose the color), and then it's available for pick-up around a week later. 

We truly had so much fun. Our visit took less than an hour, so she was totally into it the whole time, and it was nice to create a kid's art project that we'll actually use. (I mean, the construction paper with cotton balls and leaves glued onto it is lovely and all, but I mean...) Hiho Batik also does kid's parties--how fun would that be? And, honestly, I'm even considering going back to create a t-shirt of my own. Probably won't have a  fairy on it though.

Have you guys ever done batik? And if you were going to batik something, what type of design would you create?

Disclaimer: Hiho Batik invited us to check out the store for a complimentary batik session, but we received no compensation for the post. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

How to Throw a Cool Frozen Party

The birthday girl (Sources: Anna costume available here); plastic icicles via Amazon
Our living room dressed up for the party. My brother--who works in the lighting industry--rigged up the blue lights. Gave the room a very cool, chilly feel, huh?

My parents made these adorable foam head pieces for the (kid) guests. We got the idea for them here.

I set out little bowls of powdered sugar donuts, mini chocolate chips, and dried apricots (that I had cut into carrot-like shapes), so that kids could "build a snowman." (Idea was inspired by the post here.)


My mom made this cake--even the blue candy "ice" shards!) Isn't it awesome? Fun facts: The inside is actually blue, and the Frozen figures are toys. Find them here. (We got the idea from this pin.) Snowflake tablecloth via Amazon.
When it was time for dessert, each kid got a cupcake (from Sweet in Hoboken, NJ) topped with a cute little 3D snowman topper (via Amazon), and--my piece de resistance--snowman milk bottles that I made myself inspired by this pin. Sources: plastic milk bottles from Amazon, wire ribbon from Amazon (hint: ribbon with wire in it makes it easier to form a scarf-like shape), straws from GlitterDaisyShop; top hats were printables via Pink Peppermint Prints)
"Anna," "Elsa," and the birthday girl (The characters are from Bella Princess. My daughter totally loved them, and--once they finally arrived!--they were great with her. Before they left, she invited them back for a "playdate.")

Mom and the birthday girl's little bro I considered dressing him in a snowman costume, but came (halfway) to my senses and put him in jeans and a snowman tee shirt instead. On me: Sweater, J.Crew; necklace, J.Crew (old); jeans, Rag & Bone.
The favors: Frozen Little Golden Book (via Amazon); bubble bath snowball (via SunKidGifts on Etsy); Frozen stickers; blue and silver candy (you can buy colored M&Ms in bulk--or be a masochist like me and buy some jumbo bags of Easter M&Ms and then hand-separate the baby blues and lavenders); personalized "Thanks snow much!" labels (via Offspring Trends on Etsy). Everything was tied up with snowflake ribbon (via Amazon).

While my work/social media/blog life typically revolves around beauty and fashion, I have another side. And that is a side that loves throwing parties. Specifically, I love me a theme party. Give me a theme (and a few hours on Pinterest) and I can go a little crazy. (Some might say a little overboard?) So when my daughter decided she wanted a Frozen party for her fourth birthday, I went to town. And since the prep for it pretty much consumed my life for weeks (!), I can't let the moment pass without sharing it here. If you have your own little Elsa/Anna/Olaf fan at home, here are a few things that worked for our party and might help you with yours. And if you don't, well...the photos are cute, right?

1) Get creative when searching for wintery stuff. If you have a kid with a November, December, or January birthday, you're going to be golden since that's when all the Christmas decorations are going to be available in full force. With a March birthday, I was a bit more limited, but there was still a ton out there. I got almost everything on Amazon and Etsy, and had the best luck when I searched for terms like snowflake, frozen, snowman, or winter wonderland. Most things weren't specifically official Frozen merchandise, but who cares? (I prefer that. Generic snowflake and wintery items will make your party look cooler, less cookie-cutter.)

2) Create a wintery playlist. We made one with songs from the Frozen soundtrack, as well as a few tunes with a "cold" theme, so that it was a good mix of kid music and stuff that wouldn't drive adults crazy. Besides the Frozen music, our playlist included songs like Cold as Ice, Ice Ice Baby, Hazy Shade of Winter, Cold-Hearted--you get the picture.

3) Name your food. We served Ice Krispie Treats, Frosty Cupcakes, Not-So-Frozen Pizza Muffins, Trolls in a Blanket, Reindeer Fingers, and so on. (Thank you, thank you. I'll be here all night...) Another fun touch: We cut styrofoam balls in half to form "snowball" placecard holders and stuck the labels in those.

4) Drag out your Christmas decorations. Anything that's more silvery/icy-colored (and less red/green blatant Christmas-y) will work. I hung blue and white glass snowmen from my chandelier and sconces, put white faux trees and a silver star tree topper on the mantle, wrapped a crystal-y garland around the banister, and so on.

5) Plan some Frozen games. We had booked "Elsa" and "Anna" to come to lead a show, but they got stuck in traffic and were over an hour late. (Eek.) Luckily we had a few Frozen-themed activities to pass the time. Kids could build a snowman donut, play pin the nose on Olaf, or paint snowflake designs on black construction paper (FYI, equal parts epsom salts and water creates a crystallized snowflake effect when it dries. I got that idea here.) But the biggest hit? This Indoor Snowball Fight set. The squishy balls look--and feel--very similar to (non-cold) snow, and since they're balls that you're actually allowed to throw in the house (and at each other) the kids went completely nuts for them. 

6) Stay cool. The day before 40-plus people show up to your house for the Frozen party that you have been planning for two months, your kid will inevitably tell you that she actually wants a My Little Pony party. In this situation, try not to lose it. To borrow a phrase from Elsa (and, well, Adele Nazeem), let it go. Or better yet, drink some wine. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

8 Cool Things You Need to See Today

via Pinterest

This week was a busy one at work, so I don't know about you, but I'm ready for a little down time. My long weekend is shaping up to be a busy one though. Today I'm taking the day to venture out to Brooklyn for a fun outing with my daughter. (More on that here soon!) Then, Saturday and Sunday, I'm going to be spending time with friends old and new, hanging out with the kids (cross your fingers  that the weather will be nice enough that we can actually step out of the house), getting my tax stuff in order (ugh), and squeezing in a barre class

In the meantime, here are a few fun things that made me smile/laugh/think this week. Enjoy!

• The most honest YouTube beauty tutorial you've ever seen. And quite possibly the funniest.

• This beautiful, amazing, perfect bag is haunting me. Waaaannnnt. Itttt.

• Have any of you guys seen (or tried?) this Sony lens that attaches to your smartphone to basically turn it into a DSLR? I'm dying to check it out! If it works, it will seriously be a gamechanger for me. My "good camera" is awesome, but lugging it around feels like a kettlebell workout.

• Loved this DIY for a sparkly gold confetti table runner. So pretty and festive!

• Ilana's hilarious, touching, and downright dramatic account of trying to track down her daughter's lost lovie really spoke to me. Partly because it was really well-written (Mommyshorts has fast become one of my very favorite blogs), and partly because my daughter has a lovie, too. Its name is Bunny and I am not exaggerating when I tell you that I literally live in near-constant fear of Bunny getting lost. #parenting

• I had one of Bouchon Bakery's fancy-schmancy "Oreos" yesterday, and they were heaven. Heaven. I found the recipe online (score!) and really want to try making them.

• They say everyone has a doppelganger somewhere in the world. This photographer proved it. (Crazy that these people are strangers, right??)

• Pinned this vintage photo of Cindy Crawford (my all-time favorite model) this week--she's just too amazing. Fun fact: Back in the day, I dressed up like Cindy and reenacted her Pepsi commercial for my high school talent competition, and did an oral report on her for 10th grade English class. #stalker?

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Pretty Prints & Cool Manicure Hacks

Dress, Zara (similar here and here); sunglasses, Dolce & Gabbana (very similar here!); skull necklace, Pamela Love (on sale!); bag, Alexander McQueen (similar here and here); shoes, Christian Louboutin (crazy similar--and way cheaper!--here); tights, Express; wrist band; FitBit Flex; gold rings, Catbird; nails, Essie polish in Merino Cool topped with Sally Hansen Salon Effects French Mani in Gold Cabaret
Well, the weather sucks here in NYC again, so allow me for just a minute to go back in time to an afternoon a few weeks ago when it was actually warm not freezing enough to venture outside without ten layers of insulation. This outfit has been one of my go-to's this season: baggy plaid dress, black booties, and superwarm fleece-y tights from Express (seriously, have you tried these things? Awesome and definitely a polar-vortex necessity). 

This clutch was a gift (I love the stained-glass print for many reasons, not least of which because my dad is a stained-glass artist), and at first I wondered how I'd wear it. But I kind of love it with the busyness of the dress; a bit of clashing in the best way, no? 

And finally, the nails. Here's the truth: I came up with them out of desperation. I had had this base color (Essie's Merino Cool) for several days and it was totally chipped. I didn't have time for a full manicure before this shoot, so I grabbed a pack of Sally Hansen French Mani tips (they're basically nail lacquer strips for just the very tips of your nails). I slapped them on to hide my chips, and voila: no one's the wiser about the wretchedness happening underneath. Well, until I just blabbed my secret. Oops.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Never Thought I'd Be So Happy to Wear Rain Boots


On me: Trench, Hunter (old; similar--great deal!--here); jeans, AG Adriano Goldschmied; tee, Chance (similar in green here); boots, c/o Joules (on major sale!); lip gloss, Maybelline New York Color Elixir in Caramel Infused. On her: Trench, Gap; jeans, Old Navy; boots, c/o Joules. Photos by Jennifer Casson.

I don't know about you, but out of necessity, I have practically been living in snowboots so far in 2014. (I mean, I love you furry Sorels, but I am so ready to quit you at this point.) So it's nice to remember a few weeks back, when my daughter and I took advantage of a non-#snowpocalypse day to bust out some new rain boots. They're from Joules, a U.K. brand that recently came to the U.S., and how cute are they? I love the red bow on my high-shine navy pair (kind of adds a bit of happiness on a gloomy day, no?), and she's all over her pink polka dots. That Saturday, we threw them on with some almost-matching trench coats (she wanted one like mommy!), and spent a carefree afternoon jumping into every puddle in our neighborhood.

Do you have a pair of rain boots you love? And are you ready to go postal on your snow boots at this point, too, or am I alone in my snow rage?