Monday, March 20, 2017

When Your Kid Makes A YouTube Beauty Video

My daughter is what you could call a YouTube Superfan. She started by watching videos of kids (and adults!) opening toys or "surprise eggs." Soon she had moved on to tweens giving tours of their rooms, performing beauty tutorials, pranking each other, or playing Roblux (yes, she likes to watch videos of kids playing video games). 

She has been asking to do her own videos--and start her own YouTube channel--forever, and this weekend, we finally relented. There's just one video up right now, but it's pretty funny, if I do say so myself.

For the video, I gave her three fancy beauty products (she hadn't seen any of them before), and then she opened them on camera, tried them on, and gave her honest opinions. And, boy, does she have opinions! 

I know I'm biased, but she was really kind of a natural on camera! She definitely needs to learn to be a little "tighter" with her delivery (it gets rambling at times)--or I need to learn to properly edit--but it's really cute. And funny!

Please give it a view, and--if you want to make her day, give it a "like" or a comment. And if you want to make her year, you can subscribe to her "Sadie Sass" channel, so you'll get a notification when she uploads a new video.

Just think: You--and I--can say we knew her when. :)

So, what did you think? Do I have a YouTube star in the making?

Friday, March 10, 2017

18 Cool Things You Need to Click On Today

This week, man. It started with my son taking a nosedive at the park and getting this shiner. (He's fine!) And ever since--unrelated to my son's smoky eye--I've just been a big time stressball. Not only do I have a major deadline for a huge, complicated story rapidly approaching, I've also been planning my daughter's seventh birthday party, which takes place tomorrow (eek!). 

So, I'm stopping here briefly to drop some links and say hi (hi!), then I'll head back to stalking sources for my story and furiously prepping favors for the par-tay.

Whatever you're up to this weekend, I hope you'll make it a good one! Here's some fun stuff to check out in the meantime.

• This Banana Republic dress is so pretty. I love the '20s vibe of the silhouette and it looks so flattering, right? And right now you can get 50% off (score!) with code BRFAMILY.

• This striped Anthro dress is just so cheery and fun.

• And this rainbow dress (for the kiddos!) is absolutely adorable. (Get 30% off with code JOY30.)

• Are you watching Big Little Lies on HBO? Please say you're watching it. It is SO. FREAKING GOOD. The acting is incredible (it's a career performance for Reese Witherspoon, for sure), the homes are insanely gorgeous (major real-estate porn), and the story itself is funny and captivating. And if you haven't read the book, I highly recommend that as well. (It's a quick, really fun read, so tear through that first if you haven't started watching the series yet.)

• Tory Burch one-pieces are my absolute favorite bathing suits. (They're not cheap, but they are really great quality, super flattering, and so cute!) This green one is next on my list.

• There was a fun beauty chat with Laura Dern in the New York Times recently. She raved about this Chanel lip crayon in Rose Violine, so now I'm dying to try it! (I'm not necessarily a die hard Laura Dern fan, but I love any lipcolor that's "your lips but better," any good lip crayon, and of course, anything Chanel.)

• Loved these hacks for getting the Anthropologie home look for less. (This patterned door knob DIY is particularly amazing.)

• If you need a good cry, here you go. A dying woman tells you why you should marry her husband after she's gone.

Random NYC real-estate news: So, there's this little cottage on top of a building in the Village that you can see from the street that I've always been obsessed with. Well, it's now available for rent! Only problem: Someone is going to need to give me the $19,000 every single month for rent. (Ugh.)

• Love this column from Dear Polly called "Am I Pretty?" Especially loved this section: "Our culture demands that women make an effort to look good, and then it demeans us for doing so. We’re either slobs or we’re high-maintenance girly girls. We are letting it all go as we age or we’re sad cougars chasing our youth." Sad but oh so true.

• In the moment, many of us have struggled with whether we should give money to panhandlers. (Will it just encourage them? Will they buy beer instead of food?) I know I have. That's why I loved this simple advice from the Pope (!) about what to do in these situations.

• Amber Rose's beauty routine was fun to read. She dyes her hair every four days!

• Why you shouldn't get your daughter's ears pierced at the mall. (FYI, I kind of love this, but my daughter never would have gone for it. We got hers pierced at Claire's in, yes, the mall.)

• This video of a baby moving in mom's belly is craaaazy.

And in case you missed it, I...

• Confessed about my own post-partum hair thinning.

• Revealed the four best drugstore mascaras.

• Shared pictures from our (kid-free!) vacation in St. Lucia.

• Cried my way through my daughter turning seven years old.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

My Baby is 7 Years Old Today

Posing on her birthday morning. (And how about that '90s-esque outfit complete with choker?!)

Seven years ago.
My daughter turns seven years old today. Seven. Wow. It seems...old, right? As my friend Andrea, who is also the mother of a seven year old, said: "Seven seems like a real person."

And a real person, she definitely is. My seven year old loves clothes (as anyone who follows me on Instagram knows). She loves playing Roblox on her iPad. She loves watching cooking shows, particularly when they involve kids. (This is where she learned about the "raspberry coulis" she insisted on adding to my homemade boxed birthday cake last month.) For her birthday this year, my seven year old is getting slightly more mature gifts like a purse, a pair of earrings, and an emoji pillow, whereas in years past, the presents were all toys. My seven year old even has newly pierced ears! 

It's official: My little girl is growing up. She can read. She can successfully sleep over at a friend's house. She can even talk back to me! (Yep. It's not all roses. She often tells me I'm the "worst mom in the world"--usually in response to some barbaric offense I've committed like not letting her have a second Kit Kat for dessert or asking her to put her shoes on.)

But my seven year old is also still my baby. She still calls me mommy or mama. She wants to snuggle with me if we're watching TV. She wants me to walk her to school--and into her classroom--every morning. She tells me she wants to look like me when she grows up. She wants me to lay down with her every night while she falls asleep. And even though I always have a million things to do after tucking her in, I lay down with her. Partly because she usually falls asleep within minutes, and partly because I know these days won't last forever. There will come a time--sooner rather than later, I fear--when she won't want me to be there while she falls asleep. It will be "get out of my room, mom!" while she texts boys under the covers. 

Oh god. 

But until that day comes (will it be 16? 14? earlier??), I'll enjoy the in-between goodness that is her seventh year when she's certainly not a baby girl, but not really a big one either.

Sadie, I love everything about you so much. You're the best "real person" I know. Happy birthday.

(a.k.a. Mommy. a.k.a. The Meanest Mom In The World)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

My Hair Is Thinning--Yes, Really!

In partnership with Aveda

My hair has always been my thing. As far back as I can remember, it has always been thick and full. And during pregnancy, it was even fuller! But as any mom can tell you, the lush, estrogen-fueled hair you enjoy during those nine months doesn't last forever. The cruel reality is that, at some point after giving birth, it falls out. Mine sure did. After having my daughter, my hair did eventually back to its normal level of thickness. But then I had kid #2. And things...changed. Around three and a half years ago--right around the time I stopped breastfeeding my son--my hair was suddenly noticeably different, and much, much thinner.

My part has grown way wider, there's an obvious thinning patch behind my left temple, my ponytail is much, much skinnier than it used to be, and every time I wash my hair, scary clumps collect in the drain. (I've actually had hairstylists ask, "Oh my gosh--are you okay?" as they stand there holding a fistful of my hair in their hand.) Don't believe me? This is my hair in 2011 (R.I.P., sniff sniff), and the photos above are my hair now. 

Now, do I still have thick hair? Yes. Obviously. I'm not bald, I know that. I started with very thick hair, so I still have relatively thick hair. But it is much, much less thick. It's nowhere near what it used to be, and I want to stop the thinning in its tracks. Like, yesterday.

So, I recently visited my dermatologist and primary care doctor to see if it was anything to worry about, medically. And's not. It's just an unfortunate, normal, natural side effect of having kids and getting older. (Yay?) 

But that doesn't mean I'm going to take it! So, recently, for the first time in my life, I started researching shampoos, conditioners, and treatments that would add bulk to my hair and maybe even help encourage new growth.

As a longtime beauty editor and writer, I've seen it all and knew there were a lot of crappy products out there. I didn't want something gimmick-y. I also didn't want anything super chemical-y or medicinal. I wanted something with natural ingredients that still had top-notch technology and research behind it. And it actually had to be pleasant to use.

So I was thrilled when Aveda approached me to partner with them and try out their Invati system. I had been hearing good things about it and was intrigued. I've been a fan of Aveda since high school, and from my beauty-editor life, I know they have amazing ingredients and really know their stuff. (Plus, does anything smell better than Aveda hair products? That would be NOPE.) I looked into the Invati line a little more and knew I wanted to give it a try.

So, I'm trying it! Here's the deal: There’s three products in the system: the Exfoliating Shampoo, which contains salicylic acid to remove pore-clogging sebum and product residue; the Thickening Conditioner, with arginine to help prevent breakage, guar and rapeseed to help thicken, and Densiplex, an Ayurvedic blend of herbs (think tumeric, gingseng) that energizes the scalp when massaged in; and the Scalp Revitalizer, which is a leave-in scalp-stimulating product with that same Ayuveric blend, plus vitamin E. (Note: There are two options for the conditioner: the Thickening Conditioner, and the one I’m using, the Thickening Intensive Conditioner, which is super rich and feels more like a masque than a traditional conditioner, which I love.)
All photos by Raquel Bianca Photography
I just started trying them and can already report that the instant effects are the real deal: My hair was noticeably thicker the very first time I used the products. I’m now excited to see the effects over time!

In fact, I’ll be coming back soon with a full report after using it for a few weeks. And in the meantime, if you’d like to test it along with me, here's your chance: I've partnered with Aveda to give away five full sets of all three products, valued at $123. Enter via the Rafflecopter widget below and good luck!

Thank you to Aveda for sponsoring this post.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, February 27, 2017

The 4 Best Mascaras You Can Buy at the Drugstore

As someone who has not paid for her own mascara in nearly 15 years (I know, right? Perks of being a beauty editor/writer...), please listen to me when I tell you: Drugstore mascaras are the very best. It's true! I'm not saying there aren't amazing expensive mascaras out there (there are!), but I can use literally anything I want and I always, always come back to the cheap stuff. These are the four I love best.

{from left}

1. L'Oreal Paris Voluminous Feline Mascara - This is my current favorite that I wear nearly every single day. I'm a longtime fan of the original L'Oreal Voluminous, but now I'm super into this one. It leaves my lashes long and fat (but not crazy-voluminous--perfect for every day) and also gently curled. Very sexy and flirty. LOVE.

2. Rimmel Wonderlash Mascara - I once tested about ten bajillion mascaras for a "best new mascaras" story at Brides. (I literally wore two different formulas--one on each eye--for weeks on end.) This was my absolute favorite at the time and definitely still ranks high for me. It's actually kind of similar to the Voluminous Feline. It's volume plus length that's very buildable, and it also leaves your lashes very defined with no clumps whatsoever.

3. CoverGirl LashBlast Volume Waterproof Mascara - It's very, very hard to find a good waterproof mascara, but I always come back to this one. It won't leave your lashes crunchy and it really lasts. 

4. Maybelline New York Volum' Express The Collossal Washable Mascara - Love this when I want tons of volume. (It's a great date-night/night-out mascara.) You can swipe on coat after coat and it never gets clumpy. So good!

Have you guys tried any of these? And do you have a drugstore favorite that's not on this list but should be? Tell me below! 

And if you want to read more about mascaras (because, really, WHO DOESN'T?!), check out these great pieces on mascaras for sensitive eyes, lengthening mascarasred-carpet mascaras, and mascara kits.


Friday, February 24, 2017

Our (Kid-Free!) Vacation In St. Lucia

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that my husband and I recently took a vacation to St. Lucia. It was a short one, just Thursday to Sunday. But it was without kids. So, you know, it was actually a vacation! (Unlike this one.)

My parents came to stay with the kids, and the night before we left, I gave them rapid fire instructions about how to take care of them in our absence. That's the moment when you forget that your parents raised three kids and probably don't need the level of detail you're providing ("Make sure they pee before they go to bed!"). It's also when you realize just how nuts your kids are. There were instructions like: "So, for breakfast, they can have mini bagels with butter, but make sure you can see the globs of butter!! Even if it has a ton of butter, if it all melts, they won't believe you that's it's there." Or "Nate is going to ask for a 'Spider-Man Story' before he goes to bed. This can be a story about anything though--it doesn't have to be superhero-related. But one of the characters in the story must be named Spider-Man." 

And the next morning we were off! St. Lucia is about a three hour flight and you can fly direct, which is key with a short vacation. We stayed at Ladera, which is an incredible resort where all the rooms have only three walls! One side is completely open to face the ocean, the lush valley, and the dramatic piton mountains before it. It's fancy rustic and kind of feels vaguely like camping (well, at least the only kind of camping I would ever do). 

And once we were there, what did we as two parents all alone without kids or a care in the world do? Yep, you guessed it. NOTHING. Seriously. We laid around the room all day the first two days. Swam in the pool, read, napped. And it was glorious! The third and final day we finally ventured down to see the ocean. We went to Sugar Beach, an adorable little spot nestled between two pitons. It feels hidden and secret and it's just beautiful.

But enough about the beaches and the pool. I need to tell you about the food. Specifically, THE BREAD OIL. Since Ladera is very small, there is only one restaurant on the property, and since we were too lazy to venture off the resort, that's where we ate every meal. This wasn't a problem, because 1) They change the menus every day, so we didn't get bored. And 2) All meals included this unbelievably delicious condiment they call "bread oil." And it's life-changing. 

I asked what was in it and they said "olive oil and spices," which is a nice way of saying "We're not giving you our secret recipe, lady." But it was seriously crack. (If crack tastes like a heavenly smooth-salsa/balsamic-vinegar-ish concoction. Does it? I wouldn't know.) I dipped bread in it like crazy and even put it on my scrambled eggs in the morning. (So. Good.) They won't divulge the recipe, but they will sell you a huge, fresh-scooped jar of it if you ask at the gift shop. Problem is, we didn't check luggage since it was such a short trip, so I couldn't bring the bread oil back. And the regret I have been feeling ever since is real, you guys. If anyone goes to Ladera, I will pay you to smuggle me back some bread oil. AND I AM NOT KIDDING. (And if you know anyone at Ladera and can get me the recipe, I will give you the biggest bag of beauty products you've ever seen!)

Then, Sunday evening, after three days in paradise, we came back. My kids were still awake when we got home, so we were able to see them before they went to sleep. And they had had a great time, too! (Perhaps too great of a time. My parents baked cookies with them, took them on adventures, and did lots of craft projects, so now they are expecting more of that from us!) We wrestled them into pajamas, argued over teeth brushing, and then I told an epic Spider-Man story. The vacation was officially over.

Our next trip is next month and we're bringing the kids. We're heading to Disney World for a week. That should be just as relaxing, right? (Eek.)

So, tell me: What was the best long-weekend vacation you guys have gone on? I need ideas for our next adults-only trip! (Which will probably be in like five years, but still.)

(Oh! This post and my vacation were in no way sponsored. I mean, I  WISH! But alas...)

Friday, February 10, 2017

13 Cool Ways To Make Nordstrom Great Again

pink cardigan // gray bag // yellow cardigan // gloves // sunscreen // bracelet // black bag // sunglasses // nail polish // necklace // self-tanner // boots // sweatshirt

Lately, for some reason, I've really felt like Nordstrom. I mean, gee, I don't know why, but for the last few days, I've just really been wanting to spend SO MUCH MONEY there. 

If you, too, have a sudden hankering to Make Nordstrom Great Again, I've picked out a few fun things that I have my eye on and that I think you might like, too.

Now, if the idea of spending money at the failing, fake-news Nordstrom totally offends you, may I suggest holding your nose while you check out the items below or just click here to see the Ivanka Trump products Nordstrom still carries. There are currently a whopping two of them. And they're both on major sale. 

Happy hate shopping!

{top row}

Halogen Long Cardigan - This pretty, paper-thin $68 cardigan is the kind of thing I'd throw on with a white tee and skinny jeans and just live in. Bonus: The planet is getting warmer and we're doing nothing about that for the next four years, so pretty soon, this light cardigan will be able to double as your winter coat!

Rebecca Minkoff Regan Satchel - They may have named this bag The Regan, but I like to call it "The Melania." Sure, it plagarizes Balenciaga's cult-favorite City bag (one of my all-time favorites!), but it's sooo pretty that you kind of don't even care. (BTW, it's also about $1,500 less than the Balenciaga version!)

J.Crew for Nordstrom Jackie Embellished Cardigan - This bright yellow, sequined starburst cardigan is just so darn sunny and happy. I smile just looking at it! And we could all use a dose of happy right now, amiright?

UGG Tech gloves - These chic leather-and-shearling gloves are specially engineered to work with touchscreen devices. That means, when you slip them onto your tiny hands, you'll still be free to email your senators--or grab 'em by the ballot.

Supergoop Everyday Sunscreen SPF 50 - I tried this sunscreen for the first time on my recent vacation and fell in love. It's incredibly light--probably the best, most appealing texture I've ever found in a sunscreen--and it has a beautiful, fig-y scent. It's also practical. With health care being rolled back, the last thing you need is to get skin cancer--and daily sunscreen use is the #1 thing you can do to protect yourself. (And that is not an alternative fact.)

{middle row}

MantraBand Rose-Gold Cuff - This $35 bracelet is so delicate and pretty and it reads "She believed she could, so she did." I'll be wearing it until they come out with one that says "Nevertheless, she persisted."

BP Faux Leather Crossbody Bag - I'm so into crossbody bags right now! They hold the key stuff you need, but are tiny, streamlined, and cute. They're the perfect thing for those times you need a non-bulky bag whether that's for brunch, errands, or a day of protesting. (Also, this one is only $35!)

Perverse Sugar Sunglasses - Blush-pink sunnies! That are adorable! And only $40! SO. MUCH. WINNING.

{bottom row}

Christian Louboutin Loubichrome Mini Nail Color - After they repeal the Affordable Care Act, you'll be getting a FAT tax cut, so definitely use that opportunity to indulge in some Louboutin heels! Oh, what's that? You're not part of the 1 percent? Oof. You in danger, girl. Better stick to this $30 Louboutin nail polish then. All of the glamour, none of debt.

Argento Vivo Gothic Initial Necklace - This is such a cool, subversive take on the intital necklace trend. I'd love the "a" for myself. And they're under $50, so they make the perfect gift for a mom, a BFF, or an Easy D.

Lancome Flash Bronzer Self Tanner for Legs - Some self-tanners make the wearer look way too orange. Sad! But that won't be a problem with this one, which happens to be my all-time fave. The tinted gel goes on easy and streak-free and the resulting, non-Cheeto color is tawny and perfectly natural-looking. 

Sperry Saltwater Duck Boots - Think of these as a two-for-one: First, they're the most adorable duck boots ever. And second, if you buy your duck boots at Nordstrom, you won't be buying them at L.L. Bean, which means you're boycotting them at the same time you're supporting Nordstrom. Big league!

Rebecca Minkoff California sweatshirt - The beach. The palm trees. The rumors of secession. Despite its alleged scandal of 3 million illegal liberal ghosts running the joint, California just sounds really, really good right now, doesn't it?

I hope you liked my little tongue-in-cheek guide. If you were offended, I do apologize. (But I thought we were supposed to be the snowflakes!)

So, what was your favorite item here? Do tell me below! Don't worry: It's a safe space.