Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Reader Question Answered: Favorite Indie Polishes

Our next reader question comes from the lovely Julie.
"If you could only keep three indie brand nail polishes in your stash what would they be?"

This is a really tough question; it's like having 369 children and trying to pick your favorite. Haha, no, but really I do love my indies and it wasn't easy to pick a few that I couldn't live without.
My most favorite polish finish is holo; I just love how brilliantly they sparkle. If I had to pick one holo it would be Cupcake Polish's Water You Doing? It checks all the boxes; a smooth one coater, one of my favorite colors and absolutely gorgeous!
This stunner is currently available on Cupcake's website for $13 if you would like to make it yours.

My next choice is a colorful multichrome finish as I'm obsessed with all things multichrome. Pop Polish's Slick Like That. Another great formula and oh so shifty! Available on Etsy for $12.

My favorites list wouldn't be complete without a gorgeous transforming polish topper. Toppers, or polishes meant to be worn over other polishes,  come in many different types but always add pizazz to any manicure. One of my favorite toppers is opalescent. This is Emily De Molly's All The Feelings. Here it is worn over a purple polish. Currently available on their site for the bargain price of $9.

Do any of these polishes catch your eye? Do you have any favorite indie polishes?
Would you like to see your question answered? Please share it in the comments below!

Monday, June 26, 2017

NOTD: Cupcake & Polka Dots

2 coats of Cupcake Berry Good Looking with dots of OPI Super Cute in Pink, Lucky Lavender and Model City Glisten.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Clothing Haul: Lularoe

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Lularoe or any of it's consultants. All opinions expressed are my own and all clothing shown was purchased by me.

Perhaps you've seen some crazy printed leggings or comfy dresses popping up in your Facebook adds or inundating Instagram and Twitter. Chances are these whimsical clothing items are from the wildly popular brand Lularoe.

If you have had your head ostriched in the sand and have no idea what I'm talking about, Lularoe (LLR) is a four year old brand started by a Mormon entrepreneur looking to provide modest, comfortable, stylish clothing that "empowers" women. For more on the history of the company and how to shop for LLR products, check out this handy dandy BuzzFeed  article.

Lularoe has been on my peripheries for several months now but being the perennial bargain shopper (aka cheapskate) I wasn't interested in paying $25 for a pair of leggings when I could pick some up for $5 at Walmart.

But the more I started to see about Lularoe the more it intrigued me. They aren't just leggings; they offer over a dozen different styles including dresses, skirts, tops, cardigans and vests, as well as several mini me items for the kiddos. The even have a couple of t-shirt styles geared towards men. What really interested me about LLR is I thought the styles were very cute and similar to a lot of what I already wear, such as fit & flare dresses and drapey tops, but in the widest array of colors and prints you could imagine. Admittedly, some of them are ugly or downright laughable (there was the instance of one of their blouses called the Irma infamously becoming known as the "Turdma" due to an unfortunate looking pine cone print.) My addictive heart also skipped a beat when I learned the brand has an intense cult following and a huge online community. When I throw myself into a hobby; i.e. wax, bath & body, nail polish, etc. I love to wallow in it for hours on end and discuss the product with others who are just as obsessed with it as I am. 

I soon realized I discovered Lularoe at a rather tumultuous time though, because the brand isn't all rainbows and unicorns anymore; there are starting to become as many haters as there are diehard koolaid drinkers; and many customers and even brand consultants are defecting. This is due in large part to the company seeming to go downhill in recent months, both in how they treat their consultants and customers, and in product quality. You need only Google Lularoe to see that right up there with the pictures of colorful outfits are also testimonials from disgruntled sales people going out of business because of policy changes and shabby treatment from LLR, and angry customers wondering why their leggings are "ripping like wet toilet paper," and their clothes are fading and pilling like crazy. From what I gather the general consensus is that items from the first couple years ago seem to be of much better quality than the recent collections. It's such a shame to see that a company that rose to great popularity so quickly seems to have stopped giving a crap about all the small business owners and customers that got it there.

With this in mind but still wanting to try the cute and comfy looking clothes but not support the greedy company, I have only been buying LLR products from Facebook groups dedicated to help the consultants that are going out of business (GOOB) and need to liquidate the inventory that they already paid for. It's a win win because I get a great discount on this otherwise pricey brand and the poor consultants recoup some of their investment. I also bought a few items on Ebay from people reselling their LLR, but you will never see me paying $25 for leggings or $65 for a dress at someone's at home "pop up party."
Here is the Lularoe pricing guide and you can see that the items have quite a bit of mark up. I like to try to pay wholesale in the GOOB groups or less on Ebay.

But regardless of what you think of the LLR brand, here's the fun part: wearing and styling the clothes! Are they ugly? I guess it's subjective but I'm pretty happy with the pieces I've received, so far I have 3 pairs of leggings in various prints (they do make solids too but are considered more rare "unicorn" items,) and a cute polka dot "Cassie" pencil skirt.
I just wore my first Lularoe leggings outfit today and I have to say they really ARE that comfortable. Very soft yet breathable with a high non-elastic waistband that doesn't roll down or dig in and cause muffin top. They are more comfortable than all my other leggings and I have quite a few pairs. No problems with holes or pilling to report yet.
I thought I was crazy for buying leggings in the middle of the summer but I saw a pin on Pinterest about how you can pull them up and fold them over to make capri leggings so I thought I'd give it a try. 


They are surprisingly comfortable in today's 103° heat, probably even more so than capri pants because you don't have an uncomfortable button and zipper waistband. I didn't sweat excessively either.
I like how I can still incorporate bold printed leggings in with my regular wardrobe since I have a lot of solid color dresses and tops.

So far I have the 3 leggings and a Cassie skirt, along with an Irma top, Nicole dress,  maxi skirt and Azure skirt in the mail! Comfiest addiction ever, lol. But I fear I will soon have to curb my LLR shopping or risk going broke, even at the discount prices!

Fortunately the pieces I've bought are very versatile and I look forward to showing you all the outfits incorporating Lularoe that I come up with!

Have you ever tried or are you interested in trying Lularoe clothes? If you think they have nothing for you, look up the different styles; I dare you! They are a size inclusive brand ranging from XXS to 3XL and I've seen ladies of all ages and walks of life rocking LLR. Just do a little research first to make sure you're getting a decent quality item at a fair price.


Saturday, June 24, 2017

NOTD: Pineapple Nail Art

I'm still hating the heat but I do love me some bright summer colors and pineapple nail art.
I've adapted to doing manis earlier in the day which is not my favorite because I'm not much of a morning person. The sacrifices we make for our art, haha.
Fortunately no more heat casualties since I temporarily rehomed my polishes.
Also glad temps will be in the 90's next week instead of 105-110.

Anyway, I love this mani and it makes me happy! The polishes are all wonderful smooth formulas. Gold is Zoya Tomoko, coral is NWP Watermelon Bubblegum, blue is OPI Sailing & Nailing It, Yellow is SC Bananappeal, green is OPI I'm Soooo Swamped. The nail art was really easy to do, I just painted on diagonal stripes in a hash mark pattern with an art brush and added a little green at the top for the pineapple leaves.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Product Review: L'oreal Paris Micellar Cleansing Water


Disclaimer: I received this product for free from BzzAgent in exchange for an honest review.

I've been hearing a lot about micellar cleansing waters over the past couple of years, so when I was offered to test it in a  Bzz campaign, I was interested.

L'oreal's brand of micellar come in three types, All skin types, normal to dry skin, and normal to oily skin. I opted to try the 
normal to dry formula. Per instructions I dripped a little on a cotton pad and swiped it all over my face, starting with the eye area. It did a respectable job of removing eye makeup and general face oils and grime from the day. There was plenty of yucky stuff on the cotton ball.
It left my face feeling dewy an lightly moisturized, but not too oily which was nice. I usually wash my face before showering so I just rinsed my face with water as normal and applied moisturizer afterwards.

It is a good makeup remover, but not quite the miracle product it is touted to be. As a full face cleanser, I wouldn't use it to replace my creamy and scrubby face products as I prefer their deep cleaning power.

Four out of Five stars. I would recommend it if you're looking for a good, quick makeup remover.

Have you ever tried a micellar cleansing water? Did you like it?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

NOTD: Screw Summer

I put on ILNP Spring Bouquet early this morning while it was still cool enough. I'm wearing it as a screw you to the first official day of summer. That's what I think of your heat wave, lol! 

The polish is very pretty, 2 coats. You can see the blue/green shift indoors but in direct sunlight it looks pretty similar to Rosewater.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Summer Hiatus


Guys... the extremely hot weather of late has been ruining my favorite hobbies. I am having a lot of trouble painting my nails because the polish thickens and becomes goopy in the heat and then bubbles if fans or air conditioning blow on it.
I can really only enjoy wax in the early morning hours because I can't smell it at all during the heat of the day. I also can't really burn candles because my fans keep blowing them out. 
It's even causing my DVR recorder to overheat and fail to record some of my favorite shows. Basically the weather is all bad right now and will be so intermittently for the next 4 months or so.
All of this makes me sad because not only am I bored and hot, but I may have to put some of my favorite posts, mainly wax reviews and NOTD's on hiatus for the summer. When the weather dips below 100°f I may still be able to share some with you, but they will be less frequent. I don't want to review or share posts about anything that is less than my best effort. If I can't properly smell the wax or paint with the polish I can't rightly review it.
Don't worry, I won't be MIA altogether. I will still be posting about other things, and in fact I have some summer fashion posts I'm excited to share with you. But I may not have enough things to discuss to have a new post every day.
It bums me out because I have been on such a blogging roll the last couple of months and was really enjoying writing daily. Please don't abandon me altogether; I will be back to regularly scheduled programming eventually.

Sweatily yours- Amanda 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Recent Wax Reviews

Hayden Rowe Rocket Pop: a sweet summer scent. Definitely reminds me of cherry and blue raspberry slushees, yum! Fairly strong throw for about 8 hours. Overall grade: A. Would repurchase.

Kitty's Konfections Trina's Twist- fruit loops & cheesecake. A great fruity cereal blend with an extra sweet cream cheese frosting note. Moderate throw for about 6-7 hours. Overall grade: B+. Cannot repurchase.

The Scented Squirrel Kalidescope Eyes- vanilla sandalwood, patchouli and blood orange. Sometimes blood orange and patchouli can be to strong for me but I like this blend a lot. All the notes are present but the vanilla sandalwood really mellows it out. Fairly strong throw for about 10 hours. Overall grade: A. Would repurchase.

Starry Skies Tea & Cakes- a traditional  tea and cakes blend; rich and delicious. Moderate throw for about 6-7 hours. Overall grade: B+. Would repurchase.

The Scented Squirrel Grandma Shreve's Blackberry Cobbler- a yummy and realistic blackberry bakery blend. Moderate throw for about 6 hours. Overall grade: B. Might repurchase.

Rainbow Melts Cookie Heaven- gourmet sugar cookies, Danish butter cookies and vanilla butter fudge. This is one of the most rich and complex vanilla scents I've smelled. All the different vanillas really give it extra pizazz. So yummy. Fairly strong to moderate throw for about 8 hours. Overall grade: A. Would repurchase.

The Scented Squirrel Morning Macaroon: lightly sweet macaroon cookies and latte. A yummy smelling blend for sure. Moderate to light throw for about 6-7 hours. Overall grade: B. Might repurchase.

Handmade Prim Cinnamon Berry Hotcakes- cinnamon bakery and blueberry notes on cold sniff. I don't know if it's because this was an older tart or the warmer weather, but this had very little throw. Overall grade: D. Wouldn't repurchase.

Cider Lane Pumpkin Crunch Cake: smells delicious on cold; both the cider and pumpkin notes were present. Again I think the hot weather affected the throw on this one. Moderate to light throw for about 6-7 hours. Overall grade: B. Would try again.

DW Home Vanilla Bean Woodwick candle- smelled amazing on cold, a rich and delicious vanilla, not ordinary or artificial at all. Somewhat lighter throw when lit, but it still provided pleasant vanilla whiffs. Can't wait to try it again in the fall. It burned well, not a loud crackling sound, but had an even wax pool and strong flame. Overall grade: B. Would repurchase.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

NOTD: Fairy Flowers & Guilded Rose

2 coats of Pretty Beautiful Unlimited Fairy Flowers, a nice dusty rose pink with subtle shimmer. Accent nail of Mabelline Gilded Rose, which I love!

Reader Question Answered: Favorite Cuisine & Recipes

Here's a great food related question from my friend Alyssa.
"What's your favorite type of cuisine?"

When it comes to delicious food I rarely discriminate! Good food makes every occasion more enjoyable and I have yet to find an ethnic cuisine or style of cooking I don't like. I find foods made with fresh ingredients, a dash of seasoning and a lot of love always taste wonderful. I was labeled as a "picky eater " as a child and even by my husband as a young adult because with a few exceptions I have never cared for most heavily processed or canned foods. Hamburger Helper? Bleh. Can't do it. Hot dogs? I find the boiled ones disgusting; the only way I can tolerate them is smokey, grilled to a crisp and hot off the bbq smothered in toppings. Kraft macaroni? So weird and rubbery to me.

My biggest pet peeve with food is texture. If something has an odd texture it won't be going in my mouth. I especially hate gelatinous, squishy type things. Jello is fine, but tapioca pudding? Heck no. Boba tea? Forget it! 

Although I do love to try new foods, you won't see me eating anything too crazy. For example I absolutely will not be partaking in the Philippino delicacy Balut (duck embryo) when I visit the Philippines this fall. I don't care how culturally important it is; if a food has the potential to make me gag or puke I'm not doing it. I also refuse to eat anything with the head still attached. The eyes especially bother me, I don't want my dinner staring back at me. I could eat a slice of pork off a whole roast pig for example, but if someone set the head down in front of me, I would not be digging my fork in. Same goes for organ meats and entrails. Nope. I appreciate tasty foods and cultural differences, but I have my limits.

Now onto the wide variety of foods I do enjoy!
One of my favorite types of meals from childhood which is very popular in our area and is frequently served by both my parents and in-laws is BBQ. Ribs, tri-tip, chicken and the occasional freshly caught trout or bass were the most comfortable, smothered in secret sauces that were never quite the same each time but were always delicious. My dad liked to observe the "3 B's" when grilling: beer, butter, and bbq sauce. These were usually complimented by hearty sides such as baked or mashed potatoes, fresh veggies and garlic bread or rolls. Country cooking at its finest!

My childhood was rather sheltered and I didn't have the opportunity to try very many ethic foods until after I was married, so late teens/early twenties. I will tell you though; once I realized what a wide scope of delicious foods was out there, I fell in love! There is not a type of cooking that I've tasted so far that I don't like. Here are some of my favorite restaurants and dishes:

Mexican: California offers some of the best Mexican food outside of Mexico and there is delicious fare to be had on almost every street corner. Aside from the surprisingly delicious tacos and burritos from local taco trucks, these are a couple of my favorite sit down Mexican restaurants.

J&R Tacos, Merced, CA
Their El Pastor tacos are to die for! Slow roasted pork shredded right in front of you, served with onions, cilantro and fresh pineapple.
They also serve my most favorite version of the sweet and spicy hispanic rice drink, horchata.
Their enchiladas are also noteworthy; your choice of red or green sauce, served with the classic Spanish rice and refried beans.

El Jardin, Columbia, CA and Mariposa, CA
I have visited two locations of this restaurant; I understand it's a regional chain, and the dishes I had were to die for! I was very impressed with their crispy tortilla chips still warm from the fryer and flavorful salsa. They also make a mean margarita, but the real star was their scrumptious shrimp enchiladas! My mouth waters just thinking about it.

Thai:
Thai Cuisine II, Merced, CA
This is a restaurant we return to again and again. My favorite dish is their butterfly shrimp, tender prawns in a delicious peanut sauce with lemongrass, green onions and other savory greens on a bed of lettuce. The flavors are out of this world! My husband loves the pho, a hearty soup broth with rice noodles, veggies and your choice of almost any meat you could imagine.

Bankok Thai, Merced, CA.
My area has no shortage of good Thai restaurants and this one might be my most favorite. Oddly enough I don't have very many good pictures of it. Another delicious shrimp and veggie dish (I sense a theme here), along with my favorite appetizer, chicken satay with peanut dipping sauce and cucumber salad, and the delicious Thai iced tea I have to order at every Thai restaurant I visit.

New Thai Cuisine, Merced, CA
Formerly known as The Rice Bowl and still recognized for the unique bowl shaped building facade, this is one of those off the beaten path, hole in the wall type of places that offers some culinary gems. I really enjoyed their barbecued chicken dish as well as their fresh spring rolls.

Japanese and Chinese:

King's Asian Cuisine, Merced, CA
This fabulous restaurant and bar offers traditional Japanese and Chinese dishes and never fails to impress me. My go to's are their King Roll, similar to a California roll but with the additions of tempura shrimp on the inside and a drizzle of chipotle sauce on top. It can't be beat!

Sushi Cuisine, Merced, CA
I love to go here for their bento box lunch specials. My favorite is the tempura shrimp and veggies with teriyaki chicken, rice, salad and a California roll. It's a steal of a meal at only $8.95! The food is fresh and delicious and the service is quick and courteous too.

Greek and Mediterranean:
Opa Greek Restaurant, Los Gatos, CA
This goes down in one of my top 5 favorite meals of all time. I had this flavorful lamb gyro stuffed with tender lamb, grilled veggies and dipping sauce with Greek garlic and feta fries. My hubby had incredible grilled lamb and veggie kabobs. I can't describe how good this was! We also had some mojitos and a baklava type dessert.

Gyros and More, Turlock, CA
More scrumptious lamb gyros and delicious hand battered onion rings!

Mediterranean Grill, Modesto, CA
A few years ago for my husband's birthday we got a gift certificate to this fancy restaurant and celebrated with the most amazing lamb chops, pesto penne and mixed grilled veggies. Another one for my top five favorite meals.

Indian:

Turmeric Indian Cuisine, Merced, CA
This is a fabulous homestyle Indian food restaurant, probably the best I've ever had. I love several different dishes here, but my favorites are probably the lamb biriayni and shrimp tiki masala. Pictured here are the grilled tandoori shrimp skewers and their heavenly naan bread, as well as one of my husband's favorite, saag, which looks awful but tastes great.

Taste of Little India, Merced, CA
One of my first Indian food experiences. Their curry chicken is quite good, and the naan of course. They also have a good lunch buffet for under $10.

Italian and Seafood:

Five Ten Bistro, Merced, CA
A higer end eatery with lots of gourmet Italian dishes. I've only eaten there once for lunch, but I look forward to returning. I had a delicious chicken penne pasta dishes and cranberry blue cheese salad.

Italian and Seafood:

1850, Mariposa, CA
Another one for the top 5 favorite meals; I can't recommend this restaurant enough! Hubby and I dined here for our 7th anniversary and I long to return. It has beautiful rustic chic decor, a romantic atmosphere and phenomenal dishes with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. I had this delicious pasta dish smothered in bleu cheese and perfectly grilled steak. My hubby had a honey apple glazed chutney pork chop that was also delicious.

The Fish Hopper, Monterey, CA
We went here for our 8th anniversary and it was so perfect! We got a romantic candlelit table by the water. The lobster tail and scallops with mixed veggies in a cream sauce was good, but the desserts were the real standout! Creme Brûlée dusted with powdered sugar and strawberries, and a decadent and beautiful Ghiridelli chocolate mousse cup, both of which where complimentary! The watermelon margarita was fabulous too.

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, NV
When we visited Vegas last spring we had so much good food, but I have to say my favorite was the "Gambler's Special" at the Hard Rock's Lucky Seven restaurant. I had read online that you could get this steak and shrimp meal for only $7.77 and sure enough all you have to do is sign up for their free players club card and request this dish. Everything was cooked perfectly; this is the best inexpensive meal I've ever had! We also enjoyed sharing this neat sticky toffee pudding for dessert.

Stagnaro Bros. Santa Cruz, Ca
Some of the best meals are the simplest. Lately whenever we visit the Santa Cruz Pier hubby and I like to split a clam chowder bread bowl and an order of fried shrimp and fries while sitting and looking at the water. Sooo satisfying. Then we usually play Pokémon Go to walk off the extra calories from all the fried goodness. It's such a nice day outing.

Ideal Bar and Grill, Santa Cruz, CA
If we want a fancier dinner after a day at the beach, you can't go wrong with Ideal Bar and Grill. Their lobster and surf & turf are both excellent, as well as the "Steak Santa Cruz," buried in shrimp, artichoke hearts, mushrooms and whole roasted garlic!

Outback Steakhouse, Yakima, WA
I haven't included many chain restaurants on this list, but this meal was too delicious not to mention. It was back during our trucking days, a rare opportunity to get really delicious food after all the bad truck stop fare. It was also one of the most expensive meals we've ever had, but so worth it!
We don't usually get appetizers, but you can't pass on the Bloomin' Onion! The crispy onion goodness and spicy chipotle dipping sauce will blow your mind. Hubby had an amazing grilled mahi and I had the surf & turf. To die for!

Pizza:

The Pie (formerly known as Pie In The Sky), Mi Wuk, CA
My all time favorite pizza place evokes the fondest childhood memories of stopping to eat here every year on the way to summer camp. I have returned a few times as an adult and although the restaurant has undergone an ownership and name change, their fabulous pizzas remain. They have the perfect balance of puffiness and crispiness in their crust and the freshest ingredients!

Pizza My Heart, Santa Cruz, CA
Whenever we visit the beach towns of Santa Cruz or Monterey, Pizza My Heart is always the go to spot for a quick and tasty lunch. This small chain boasts delicious pizzas lovingly handmade by surfers and hipsters, plus it has a catchy name. You can always get a t shirt and a big slice for only $7, or if you're after a full pie I highly recommend the Big Sur. It has 40 whole cloves of roasted garlic!

Burgers:
The Lumber Yard, Don Pedro, CA
I'm actually not a huge burger person; whenever I get fast food I usually order a chicken option. But there's a huge difference between that and this masterpiece of perfectly grilled beefy goodness smothered in melted swiss and onions on a ciabatta bun. These are so humongous that I can usually only eat half in one sitting. Their hand battered onion rings are also noteworthy.

In-N-Out Burger, west coast chain
I wouldn't be a true native Californian if I didn't worship at the altar of In-N-Out with rabid abandon. Seriously, this is the only fast food burger I love; it's the only quick, super inexpensive meal that always satisfies a craving and is never disappointing. They make their patties and chop their veggies and fries in house, so everything is always fresh, delicious and perfectly cooked. Plus the customer service is way better than most fast food places; the employees don't seem like they want to stab out their own eyeballs while working. For those of you haters and skeptics from other states, yes I've tried Five Guys, Whataburge, etc. and no, it doesn't even come close.

Well, here you have a rather extensive list of some of my favorite restaurants and types of cuisine. 
Have you been to any of these before?
What are some of your favorite restaurants and dishes?

Check back soon for my next reader question! "What are your favorite tried and true recipes?"