What I'm Loving From J.Crew Right Now + Life Lately/Motherhood Update

 Shirt - J.Crew | Jeans - Madewell (size down) | Shoes - Joie (similar here, here, here) | Bag - Street Level (similar here, here and here) | Sunglasses - Quay (similar here) | Necklace - Nashelle

These pictures couldn't be farther from the current weather situation here - there is snow everywhere! I wore this on a day when things were beginning to feel like spring and then BAM! Snow.  But the good news is we are getting closer and closer every day to open toed shoes and no coats. I picked up this striped top from J.Crew recently and always feel that they go through cycles. Sometimes I browse their selections and everything is awful and other times I love so many pieces. Sadly their sales are soooo frequent now so I will often hold off on buying something and wait a few more days or another week until there is a sitewide sale. It's a vicious cycle that so many retailers create but one that benefits all of us - yay!

I also figured I give you a quick update on life around here lately. Things are moving fast now that Miles has arrived and the days seem to all blend together sometimes!

1. My biggest struggle has been finding a routine that feels workable. Balancing working full-time on my blog/youtube channel, running errands, spending time with Miles, spending time with Stan, fitting in workouts, etc is definitely a challenge. We are so grateful to have my mom living with us so she is so instrumental in helping us balance it all. It's a team effort in our house and everyone pitches in which is how we always wanted it and why we decided to live together. But there are definitely some days where I feel like everything is running smoothly and others when I feel so scattered and can barely remember my own name.  

2. I have lost most of my pregnancy weight (I am guessing since I don't own a scale, but go based on how my clothing fits), but those last few pounds are the hardest. I have a few of my favorite jeans and dresses that don't quite fit so I'm hoping as my hormones begin to balance out more it will all finally come off. Though people tell you it takes time to lose all the weight and not worry about it, it can still be frustrating to not feel completely like yourself. 

3. I'm most excited for the next few months to begin enrolling Miles in fun classes and activities to help him socialize more and experience new things. There is a infant swimming class at the Y that I am looking into and also some classes at The Little Gym that would be age appropriate. He loves being out and about especially in loud, noisy places so I think he will really enjoy doing these activities.

4. So many people ask about Elmo (my black pug) after seeing him in my Insta-stories, and for those that have been following me for years know he is such a huge part of my life. He is now 9.5 so he moves much slower and has hip issues that are challenging, but is still his happy and loving self that he has always been. He loves being around Miles and often will just stand near him when he is playing or lay down in his room when I am getting Miles ready for bed. I'm anxious for Miles to interact with him more as he gets older but we know we have to monitor it because Elmo is much more fragile and delicate now. Either way, I am just so happy that they got to meet and develop any relationship regardless of how long it may last. Elmo has been one of the best things to ever happen to me and it was my dream for him to eventually be a part of my child's life. So it brings me such joy every day to see them together.

5. Miles' nursery is finally complete and we are taking pictures of it next week to share on the blog. I've tackled one room at a time in this house because I like the feeling of completing an entire space before moving on to another one. I think I will move on to my master bedroom next and finalize the rest of it since I only purchased a bed and side tables for the most part. Once that is done, I will finally move on to the downstairs portion of the home. 

6. Annnnd a quick mention about my hair and skin now that I am almost 5 months postpartum. I have noticed major hair shedding so I know I am moving into that whole fun stage. *insert sarcasm* To be honest, I have had hormonal imbalances in the past and the first place it manifests for me is in my hair and I begin to lose a ton. Since I have experienced that and know that it will eventually grow back, I am not alarmed at any postpartum shedding but it still is frustrating since my hair becomes harder to style and manage. As far as my skin goes, who the heck knows what is happening! Some days it's oily, some days it's dry - it changes all the time. I am trying my best to help things stabilize from a nutritional standpoint with different supplements and an overall balanced diet, but for the most part I am trying to be patient and wait it out. Again, not the easiest because after the stress of pregnancy and giving birth, you just want to feel your best and fluctuations in appearance (weight, hair, skin, etc) can be quite frustrating. Patience has never been my strong suit! LOL

I will also be sharing an update on all the things I am loving for Miles + his schedule since things change with him almost daily! Stay tuned for that coming in the next 2-3 weeks. :)

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Urban Decay Backtalk Palette Review with Swatches

Urban Decay recently released their Backtalk palette, a new rosy hued eye and cheek palette. Even though many of us probably have more makeup palettes than we could ever need, a new release will always be intriguing. From the initial packaging, this palette looked like a winner to me. And there is a removable mirror inside which I thought was a great added bonus.

As you can see from the closer images above, the texture for the shadows is a mix of shimmer and matte with a majority of the colors skewing to the redder/pinker/warmer side of the spectrum. However for me these are not wearable colors at all. I don't prefer red/pink shadows and even the paler shades in the palette were not enough to make up for it. 

The pigmentation was all over the place with this palette - some shimmer shades were smooth, some were very chunky and nearly impossible to get an even swatch, while the matte shades were heavily pigmented and rich. I applied 5-6 swatches of many of the lighter colors to get an even application and when I tested the palette on my eyes, I found there was a bit too much fallout and I couldn't get as smooth of a look as I would like. The cheek colors were not suitable for my skin tone and even when used with a light hand, they were still too dark for me. The highlighter shades were chunky and way too powdery making them very unflattering when on the cheekbones.

Overall this palette was a disappointment for me. The packaging is beautiful but the pigmentation is too inconsistent and the colors are not something that works with my skin tone nor would it be suitable for everyday wear. 
*pr samples included

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Q&A with My Brow Threading Specialist - Answering All Your Brow Questions!

 Shirt - Madewell (similar here) | Jeans - 7FAM | Boots - Sam Edelman (similar here and here) | Hat - Brixton | Bag - Proenza Schouler | Necklace - Wanderlust | Bracelets - Vita Fede and Miansai | Lips - MAC "Peachblossom"

Today's post is all about brows! I personally am very fastidious about my brows and their maintenance and get them threaded every 2.5 weeks like clockwork. A good brow shape can truly enhance a person's appearance, and I find it makes the biggest difference in how my face looks. I first began getting my brows shaped in college but was getting them waxed regularly which resulted in burned skin and too many hairs being removed. When I moved to NYC, one of the first things I looked for was a place to get my brows groomed. I read about a technique called threading and there was a salon right down the street from my apartment. From that first appointment, I was hooked. I loved the way threading made my brows look, how much less irritation I had after and how clean and precise of a shape I was able to get. Since then I have been getting my brows threaded, and even looked for a place to go while on vacation because I am crazy about always having them look their best. When I moved to our current home, I was lucky because my close girlfriend Rebecca Carrera owns her own beauty store and brow studio called Maven Beauty Bar that specializes in threading. She like myself is meticulous about brows and understands my need for maintaining them and having the best shape. 

I sat down with her recently and asked her to answer some questions I have received from readers over the years about brows, and specifically brow threading. And I also included pictures of how it looks when I get threaded (pic #1 and #2) and how best to guide your own brow shape. Typically the brows should be in line with the side of the nose, the arch should be in a diagonal with the center of the eye and the end of the brow should be in line with a diagonal line coming from the side of the nose. Refer to picture #3 above to see more detail. From a discomfort standpoint, I don't feel that it is any more painful than waxing was for me and I never have irritated skin afterwards which was always an issue for me with hot wax. In my personal experience, threading has changed my brows for the better and I will never go back to anything else. 

And now for my Q&A with Rebecca!

1. How do you find the perfect brow shape? You can measure according to what is symmetrical, but almost everyone has one good brow and one brow that does it's own thing. It's up to the artist to assess your brows for your unique face shape and make them as even as possible. 

2. What are the benefits of threading? Most importantly it's completely natural and there are no chemicals/no heat that can burn the skin. It's also incredibly precise! You can get a clean line and grab all the little peach fuzz hairs that waxing can leave behind, which is amazing especially for blondes!

3. If I have sensitive skin or am using Retin-A/strong exfoliants/just had a peel, can I get my brows threaded? Absolutely! It's the only form of hair removal that can be done while using Retin-A.

4. How do you find the right color to use to fill in the brow? We look at the root color of the hair on your head. It's the closest to your natural brow color.

5. What are some of your favorite brow products? Pomades like Ecobrow and Plume are my favorites. Used with a small angled brush you can create a thick defined look or soft feathery look, depending on how you apply it.

6. What is the difference between threading and waxing? Pro/cons? With waxing you can burn the skin chemically or with heat and you can remove hairs that you don't want to. You can't see what the wax is grabbing underneath the muslin strip. Threading is completely natural and anything we can do to limit chemicals in our life is a win. Also, the precision you get with threading is unmatched.

7. Any tips on how to get eyebrows to grow out if you have over plucked them? Take a Biotin supplement daily, my favorite is Be Biotin. And use an all natural brow and lash growth serum like Plume every night. I have had personal success with this and use Plume serum religiously.

8. How to manage long, coarse brows? Trimming long coarse brows is key. Allow a brow artist to trim them since it's very difficult to achieve an even look when you're looking at them in the mirror backwards and you're either right or left handed. One wrong snip and you'll be waiting weeks for them to grow back.

9. What brow shape and grooming tips should you follow as you get older? Thicker brows are more youthful looking, so be careful during your younger years not to over pluck. Also, filling them in with a brow color can really lift the eye area up and take 10 years off your face.

10. Do you recommend brow trimming at home to help keep them tidy? And if so, what are your tips to ensure it is done correctly? No, not at all. Please go see a professional. Use brow gel in between visits and leave trimming to the brow specialists.

If you have any additional questions that we didn't answer, feel free to leave a comment below and I will reach out to Rebecca with them! 

Photos by Paula Bartosiewicz.

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I Used a Jade Roller for the Past Few Months - Did I See a Difference?

Pajamas | Slippers | Jade Roller | Faux fur throw | All bedroom furniture linked here

I love trying new skincare products or devices, so I was intrigued to add a jade roller to my routine after hearing about how beneficial it is for the skin. I found an affordable one on Amazon and purchased it a few months ago. Since then I have been consistently jade rolling a few times a week if not every evening and wanted to share my thoughts. 

1. First, what is jade rolling supposed do for the skin? It is designed to help increase circulation, de-puff the eye area and face, increase elasticity and help to detoxify the skin. 

2. How do I use the jade roller? I roll it upwards and outwards along the contours of my face and neck - up my neck, along my jawline, along my cheekbones, across my forehead, and then I use the smaller roller for rolling under my eye in outward motions. I always roll upwards and outwards towards my hairline. I try to use gentle pressure and not roll too fast which makes it feel like a gentle massage. Some people like to keep it in the refrigerator for a cooling effect on the skin and to aid in reducing any puffiness. 

3. Do I jade roll over skincare or on bare skin? I used it both ways either after my skincare was complete or on bare skin after I had cleansed but before I began my serum/moisturizer steps.

4. How many times a week do I jade roll and for how long? I do it a few times a week if not every evening for 3-5 minutes.

5. Did I see any results and if so what were they? To be completely honest, the results were not hugely noticeable. In fact, on days that I would skip jade rolling there was no difference in my skin. Some people swear by the technique and while I think it is enjoyable and feels wonderful, it's a nice to have but not a must have for me. That being said, I still did see some results so I thought I would share what they were:
  • Reducing puffiness. Yes, yes and YES! If you struggle with puffy eyes or face, I saw an immediate difference when using. Especially under the eyes and around my cheeks things seemed much smoother, more taut and ultimately less swollen.
  • Smoothing out of the neck. I did not notice any change in fine lines or small wrinkles on my face, but my neck was a different story. While it wasn't huge, there was a gradual smoothing out of my neck area over the past few  months when using the roller. Probably less noticeable to others but I can see the difference. 
  • A slight calming of the complexion. I struggle with some redness around my nose, cheeks and forehead and I noticed a small reduction in that which made my skin look more even toned and less splotchy.
That's really it. My results were very minimal, but I did enjoy using it. When it came to reducing puffiness, it worked wonders. And I was pleased to see my neck looking a bit smoother, but I don't think it is a MUST for every one's skincare routine. My advice is if you are intrigued and want to give it a try, find an affordable roller (mine was very inexpensive but has held up nicely) and use it consistently to encourage results. This is not something you can use once a week or intermittently and expect to see much change. Many of you are skincare lovers like myself and we love to test out anything and everything that could help our skin even in the smallest way, so this was fun to add into my routine. However I didn't see enough results to make it a mandatory step every night but it's nice to reach for when I want to help with puffiness and reduce any swelling.

What is your experience with jade rolling and results do you see?

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Packaging That Looks Like Art: Chantecaille Philanthropy Blushes with Swatches

I audibly gasped when these Chantecaille Philanthropy blushes arrived at my house. They were included with some other things I ordered from Nordstrom, and when I finally unwrapped them the boxes alone blew me away. And then obviously the blushes themselves were an absolute sight to behold. The pictures online don't even do them justice - they are truly a work of art. I'm already a huge Chantecaille fan and have been for years, and love almost anything I try from the brand.
From left to right: Grace Sea Turtle, Bliss Butterfly and Laughter Coral
While obviously I want a product to perform well and look great on my skin, having it come in beautiful packaging makes the experience even better. I think brands are paying more and more attention to packaging and I'm glad because using beauty products should be an all encompassing pleasant experience from the packaging to the formula. And these blushes apply just as beautifully as they look.

The shimmer that is at the top of the blush is just an overspray and disappears with the first swipe. While they are not necessarily a shimmer finish, I wouldn't say they are completely matte. They have a slight luminous radiance that gives the cheeks a fresh glow without being shiny or glittery. And the colors are incredibly pigmented so use a light hand when applying. They can give a sheer wash of color when used delicately or can give a strong punch if applied with a heavy hand. Blending is a breeze as they move easily on the skin and the color stayed put all day. Your biggest challenge with these may be choosing a color because they are ALL beautiful and wearable for every day. If I had to pick one, my favorite would be Bliss Butterfly which is the perfect ballet pink and looks like my cheeks have a gentle healthy flush. I have worn it with various eye colors and it pairs well with almost any shade. 

If you are already a Chantecaille lover, picking up one of these is a necessity. If you are new to the brand, you will not be disappointed if these are your introduction to the brand. For more of my Chantecaille recommendations, scroll through the widget below.

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Old Favorites + The Best Fitting Button Down Blouse to Splurge On

Blouse - Equipment | Jeans - GRLFRND | Bag - Gucci | Shoes - Valentino (budget option here)

This is probably one of my favorite outfits I have worn in awhile. Mostly because both the blouse and jeans are two of the items I love most in my closet. Brands are constantly coming out with new releases, new collections for the season but I love to buy items that are brand staples. Like this star print blouse for example - Equipment puts out tons of prints every few months but this one in particular has been in the line for years. I purchased it a few years ago and it's still available. And these slim boyfriend jeans - I bought them back in 2016 and the style is still current today. I tend to try and find the items from a brand that are core pieces and invest in those because as you can see, they are still in very high demand. 

If you have never tried Equipment blouses, they are very pricey but some of the best fitting ones I've ever worn. They strike the perfect balance of drapey and slim, and I NEVER have an issue with them gaping at the bust area. I prefer the Slim Signature blouses because the fit is the most flattering. I have purchased other pieces from the line over the years, but the button down blouses are truly the best thing that they make. 

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