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SEPHORA PLAY FEBRUARY' 17 - REVIEW


Spring is here and its time to cue to everything Blush. The February edition of the Sephora Play Box, seemed to be a harbinger of the upcoming days of Blush. Sephora Play is a monthly Beauty Subscription service. Priced at $10, it includes a set of 5 beauty , skincare and fragrance samples, all chosen around a monthly theme.  The blush bag for the month of February was the best bag so far. It scream Spring in every way. The boxes can sometimes be hit or miss with the products. SO without much further ado, lets get started with the contents for February. 

The theme for the month of February was "The Soft Side" which featured products highlighting feminine hues and a softer side, in makeup and skin care. 

I want to begin with the Lipstick sample, as I am a self confessed lip junkie. Its the first time, that I received a NARS Lip product in the box. NARS Velvet Lip Glide in Bound is  a dusty rose liquid lipstick, which doesn't dry super matte. It dries semi matte. The color reminded me of a lighter version of MAC Mehr, though the Nars product isnt as highly pigmented . Although I liked the formula, and I love dusty rose lipstricks, this shade was kinda lost on my skin tone. I know nudes are not supposed to stand out like concealer lips, but this didnt wow me, as much as I thought it would.


I have naturally bee stung (looking lips ), so I dont need a lip plumper. But if Sephora has sent one along the way, why not try it. Too Faced Lip Injection Glossy in Milkshake, is a sheer tinted gloss, which uses a botanical-infused formula to visibly plump lips. It also claims to hydrate and soften the lips over time. It can be used along the edges of the lips, to plump then, and layers well under other lipstick. Its got a light shimmer, which gives off a subtle sheen, if used on its own.


I use waterproof mascara on a daily basis. Every other mascara sample, that I receive in subscription boxes, is not a waterproof one. Why is that always ? Sephora Collection Lashcraft Length and Volume Mascara, has a unique paddle shaped wand. It claims that the first coat builds the length and the second coat gives it volume. I mean, my Maybelline Falsies(waterproof) Mascara gives a better output for length and volume, and is priced lesser . The paddle shaped wand, though is nice. I only wish it came in a waterproof version. It claims also that you dont need make up remover, to remove it, just warm water would do. Then my question is , what if it starts to rains and I am wearing this mascara? March showers are famous , right.

Talking of skin care, this bag, had a unique moisturizer, Clinique Pep-Start Hydroblur Mositurizer . Not only can it used as a moisturizer, but it works good as a primer and can also be used over make up. Yes , you read that right. I was a bit confused when I heard that. The idea is to give your make up a natural or a dewy look. It does have a unique texture, but honestly, I am a bit wary of products which make too many claims. I have dry skin, and like a moisturizer which does it job.


The Origins GinZing Eye cream is a cult favorite amongst beauty lovers across the world. But i had not tried it personally. So when i came across the sample of Origins GinZing Refreshing Eye Cream, I was excited. Its a luminous eye cream for starters. Something I had never heard of. Maybe I am a bit late on the wagon, of makeup and skin care blended together. I know I should use eye cream more often, along with my Retinol routine. Since this eye cream has a slight shimmer factor, it can also be used as a subtle highlighter, or as an instant pick me up.


Last but not least, is the fragrance sample. Marc Jacobs Divine Decadance, is earthy and woody, with top notes of champagne extract, orange blossom, bergamot.  It layers well with other fragrances.


SHOP THE BOX :

FREEZING MOO IS THE COOLEST NEW ICE CREAM PARLOR IN KC


I scream , you scream, we all scream for Ice Cream. Since we are officially in Spring, I thoughts its time to bring forth the Ice Cream updates. I have two lip smacking Ice Cream posts lined up for all of you. Lets begin with something close to home. FREEZING MOO is the new Ice Cream sensation which has hit Kansas City. It opened its doors in December 2016, and has been an instant hit with the locals. We had been there with our daughter, and we all had such a great time.

Whats so unique about a new ice cream place? There's once in almost every alternate strip mall across town. What if it tell you, that its ice cream, without preservatives, which has not been lying in the freezer section of a grocery store, for the last six months. Freezing Moo brings a popular concept from Thai street food - Rolled Ice Cream.


You pick out a flavor and a serving vessel ( a waffle bowl or a paper bowl). Me and my husband had picked out Whole Lotta Latte (Coffee, Caramel,Cookies) and our daughter picked out Cookie Monster(Oreo Cookies, Chocolate Sauce ). Then when your name is called out, you head to one of the four windows, in front of a freezing station. A Master Ice Cream maker gets to work on your creation. Fruits or cookies are mashed and chopped  first. Then fresh milk, and cane sugar is poured into the mixture, and the Cream starts mixing it all up, and smoothing it out on the cold plate. Then comes the art of rolling the freshly made ice cream in to swoon worthy curls. Topped with toppings of your choice , you are ready to dig in.

From the lines leading up to the counter and the constant buzz in Social Media, you can guess how popular this new ice cream joint has become among locals. I have seen people braving the cold Midwestern Winter, to have a bowl of freshly made rolled ice cream.

 Its a fun joint, if I may say. The walls are covered with  Post It notes from patrons, who have been there . And not to forget the famous wall of Selfies. Yes you heard that right. The owners of Freezing Moo , encourage you to take a selfie while you enjoy your ice cream. They have a Wifi printer , which prints out copies of your selfies. And there's sticky tape on hand. So you stick a print of your selfie with the ice cream, on the walls. That was such a nice touch.

Coming to the ice cream and its taste . How different was it from regular ice cream? I would say, there was a marked difference, and no ,I  am not being a part of the hype, when I say so. I loved those curls. I am surely going back there. Though I must add, wish they had smaller serving sizes for children. Or maybe Me and my daughter are going to share a bowl. 

TROLLS "HAIR UP" SPRINKLES BIRTHDAY CAKE FOR MY 4 YEAR OLD




"Trolls ", seems to be the favorite word  in our household , since Fall. So its not strange, when we asked our daughter, what she wanted as the theme of her birthday, you might have guessed it. For those of you, who are not aware, "Troll" was an animation feature film which had released last Fall. It became an isntant hit among for not only the tsory line, but also its songs, and its strong female lead - Poppy. The Trolls were known for their colorful hair among other things, and the many tricks they could do with their hair. The film also featured a song, called " Hair Up" .

The Internet , especially Pinterest is full of inspiration for a Trolls themed Birthday cake. Elaborate tiers, gum paste figurines, its all there. I have done fondant cakes for Riona. They look great in a party . But fondant is almost like edible play dough, and no one likes the taste of it. This time around, I didnt want to do a fondant cake. It had to be Buttercream, as I know my daughter likes that.

How do I decorate? My mind was blibking in trying to think of a cake, which would please a 4 year old. I knew I wanted colors in there. The Rainbow plays an important part in the Trolls folklore. So I wanted to incorporate rainbow colors in it. So I baked two Funfetti Cakes, frosted them with vanilla buttercream. Then I covered the sides with Rainbow Sprinkles. I piped buttercream icing, to resemble the "Hair Up" of the Trolls. Rii loves M&Ms and I wanted to incorporate them into the design. I put in M&Ms in the VIBGYOR sequence of the iced buttercream troll hair. Then I sprinkled some more rainbow sprinkles in the center of the cake to finish it off.

My 4 year old loved the cake.

TROLLS "HAIR UP " SPRINKLES BIRTHDAY CAKE : 

Ingredients :
Funfetti Cake Mix : 1 packet
Vanilla Butter Cream Icing : White
Butter CReam Icing : Black : for writing
Vegetable Oil : 1/2 cup
Eggs : 3
Water : 1 cup
Butter : for greasing baking pans

Disposable Piping Bags
Wilton Tip - 12 and coupling
Offset Spatula
Wilton turntable

Procedure:
Pre-heat oven to 350F. Follow package instructions to bake the cakes. I used two 6inch spring form round pans, which I had greased with butter, and placed on a sheet tray. Once the cakes are out of the oven for 10 minutes, use an offset spatula, to go along the sides of the pan to release the cake.


Let the cake cool for at least 5 to 6 hours, before you start decorating.


Use a sharp serrated knife to level the cake.


Prepare your cake board , or cake stand. Place a dollop of frosting, in the middle, and place your first layer of cake. This prevents the cake from sliding and falling off.

Frost a thin layer of icing on top of the cake. Then place your second layer, on top of it. But turn the cake upside down, to put the bottom up. That way, you get a flat top for your cake. Frost a thin layer of frosting. This is your crumb coat. Let it chill for two hours in the refrigerator.




Take a large sheet tray and cover it with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Place a large boil, upside down. Then place your cake board ,with your cake on top if it. Make sure its steady.  Pour sprinkles on your hand, and keep pressing along the sides of the cake.


I filled in a disposable piping bag with vanilla buttercream icing and fitted it with Wilton 12 tip and coupling. I piped in the trolls hair look alike icing.


I filled in the center of the cake with more sprinkles. Then I added M&Ms along the piped Trolls hair. Added in some Daisy candles . I used Black ButterCream Icing and piped in " Happy Birthday " on the cake board.

We were all set to party with our Queen !





RIONA'S 3rd BIRTHDAY IN DISNEYLAND - VLOG

My Daughter is all set to celebrate her 4th Birthday in a few hours. Another year flew by in the wink of an eye. Sometimes, when you look back at photos and videos, it seems like it was just yesterday. As I scramble to get everything, I thought of sharing snippets from her last Birthday. Its no secret that Riona loves Minnie Mouse and everything Disney. And as every year her birthday coincides with Spring Break, so Daddy and Mommy surprised her with a trip to Disneyland. There's only one thing, which she loves as much as she loves all things Disney, and thats the beach. This weekened getaway packed both. Riona spent her Birthday, enjoying Breakfast with Minnie Mouse and Friends, getting her quote of Princesses , and not to mention loads of rides.

Join us , as we celebrate her 3rd Birthday !


Cant believe in a few hours , she will be 4.


Music Courtesy : http://www.bensound.com 

CUBAN BREAKFAST AT LAS OLAS CAFE, MIAMI


There are Cuban Sandwiches and there are Cuban Sandwiches at the Las Olas Cafe in South Beach Miami. As I have mentioned in many previous posts before that my Husband is a master at planning trips. His itineraries have been copied by friends and strangers alike. I get so many emails, from people, who have benefited from his travel plans, or recommendations, which they came across my Blog. It was an equally awesome experience with his picks on Cuban cuisine. If you have seen our Florida Travel Vlog, then you had seen what a great time we had at Las Olas Cafe, in South Beach Miami.  



It was a hole in the wall cafe, with a few tables along the side walk and some tables inside. Nothing fancy, yet you could not miss the aroma, of fresh food wafting through the air. Its a cash only establishment, so make sure you stop by at the Hotel's ATM before you head out for breakfast. The servers largely speak Spanish. From neighborhood locals to touristy hipsters, there were every kind of food lover, who dug into their breakfast, with a smile on their lips. Our Hotel, was in the Art Deco district, and a short walk to the Las Olas Cafe. A large Cuban Breakfast was on the cards, before we hit the sun and surf .

We ordered a round of Croqueta de Jamon (Ham Croqueta) to start off our Cuban culinary journey. You can guess from the smile on our daughter's face, how good they were. Minced ham, packed with a light dusting of spices,and crunch, and a perfect biteful. It reminded me of the Croquettes, which are very popular in Bengali cuisine, as an evening snack.


Me and my Husband are both Coffe lovers. I fact, I am sipping into my Americano, as I type this. We had heard of authentic Cuban Coffee but had not tried it. But when it came to ordering Coffee, from their menu, we were a tad bit confused. There were quite a few to choose from. So we approached the lady at the till, and she recommended we order a round of Cortadito . It came in a 4oz serving and my coffee loving soiul ws in heaven. It was a unique mix of bitter and sweet. Being a shot, it was more concentrated than your regular Americano or Espresso.


Last but not the least, was piece de resistance - Cubano(Lechon Asado, mojo y cebolla) . Cuban Sandwich (Roasted Pork, Ham, mustard, pickle , swiss cheese and mustard) .


Our daughter had mentioned that she was full, after the round of Ham Croquettes. So we ordered a round of Cubanos, as they are popularly own. Its one of the most popular breakfasts in Miami, and how could we not follow the tradition.

The portions were big. No, no, they were huge. I mean, what was my husband thinking when he ordered us a sandwich each. We were full, by the time we had finished 1/4th of our sandwiches. When it comes to the taste, I must tell you, that it was so worth it. We were in sandwich heaven. We had had some great Cuban Sandwiches earlier, from many a food trucks, in our travels across. But this Cuban Sandwich set the bar of Cuban sandwiches pretty high.

The food had come in to go bags, so we packed up our leftovers, and headed to the beach. After some frolicking in the waves, we were munching our leftover sandwiches. The only thing we missed as we munched on, was another helping of that awesome Cuban Coffee. 

GETTING READY FOR FASHION WEEK


Fashion Week is almost here,and I thought of doing something different this year. Usually I write about my Fashion Week experiences after I have covered them. This year, I thought of putting together, what I usually do to get ready for a week of fashion extravaganza.

I have been covering several International Fashion Weeks, for more than a decade. Perks of being a Journalist. Now that I am a Mom to a toddler, and a freelance journalist and blogger, time is always not my best friend, if its not planned well.  Kansas City Fashion Week, is all set for its 11th Season and I am proud and humbled to be there as Official Media. If you want to read about my previous experiences at KCFW, then click Here

THINGS TO DO : 
Its a week of Fashion. Lets face facts. With my current lifestyle, and its demands, I cannot be there every one of the 7 days, as I earlier could. So I spend extra time in going through the schedules and designer lineups. That gives me a better understanding of which days I would like to attend. Then its time to RSVP and let the organizers know of the dates, you are interested in. They can accordingly have you on their list of attendees for the day .

Fashion Week is undoubtedly a huge networking event. You get to meet designers, models, industry professionals, PRs . So make sure you have your Business Cards Printed and your Networking Game Ready. Follow up on any leads you might have got at Fashion Week, or else you would have just wasted your time and everyone else's .

I like to network with local photographers or other Bloggers, so that we can do Outfit Photos for every day that I am planning to attend. If its another Blogger, we will do each other's outfit photos, having met a few hours before the shows start.

Arrange for a Baby Sitter or have your husband or partner balance his schedule, so that you are guilt free, in covering the shows.

Time to plan out your outfits. While there's no such said rule that you have to have a certain dress code, everyone wants to stand out in fashion Week. If yo attended that shows last season, try and think, which of the runway trends, you could translate to your current style. Let your creativity speak for itself in your outfit choices.

Then the time comes for the days of the actual shows or events. Get some rest or if you are like me, then you need to do what I do. I load up on my caffeine and my concealer. Being a Mom does have its perks, but also means that dark circles and lack of sleep are a common aspect of your life.

Once at the shows, first of all make sure , you are enjoying doing what you are doing. Time for trend spotting, loads of networking, a drink or two with your favorite girls and loads more.

THINGS I NEED : 
1. DSLR Camera , extra set of batteries, and my Phone.
2. A large handbag, as I pack too many things.
3. A showy clutch or smaller handbag, for your Outfit pictures.
4. My Flat Shoes, as I am no longer a high heels person, and the walk to the parking lot in fancy shoes, is not a good idea. Another reason why I need a large handbag is that it allows me to stuff in comfy flats.
5. Makeup (in case I need to touch up)
6. Business Cards
7. Notebook and pen, as I like to take notes sometimes on trends on the runway, or if I do a quick Designer Interview

and

7. Last but not the least, a positive self and a big smile.

Stay tuned to the Blog for the upcoming season of Kansas City Fashion Week, as I carry on with my coverage.











MAC HAUL - STOCKING UP ON FAVORITES


A MAC Haul happened over the past weekend. Who doesn't love a haul ? I know I do . I had been running low on a few of my MAC favorites and also some Lipsticks. But for this haul, I decided to concentrate on the basics. I used to be a more frequent customer at MAC. The frequency of my shopping stops at slowed down, and there's a very unique reason for it. No, I don't have any issues with any of the products neither with the brand as a whole. MAC has recently started with a Rewards Program. Finally. I know , I know, it was long due, and a collective Amen went up, when you heard of it , right. I am a sucker for Rewards if you didnt know already. SO when my favorite brand started it, I knew I had to be a part of it. Then why was I not shopping, when now, I could even be earning points for my purchases? Surprise Surprise ! The MAC Rewards Program only works at the MAC Pro Stores and Online. It does not work on your purchases at the MAC Counters at your local department stores. That was the only problem. I stay south of downtown, where the MAC Pro Store is located, in my city , at least. What I have close to me , are the MAC Counters at Nordstrom, Dillards and Macy's . I used to frequent these counters like nobody's business, but since the purchases made at these counters don't add up to the rewards, I decided to wait, to go the Pro Store. And the calendar aligned with the a Brunch date and good weather, and I was shopping away, at my favorite cosmetic store.

The ladies and gents at the MAC Store at the Country Club Plaza, KC MO, are a friendly bunch. I know , many people can get intimidated by MAC employees, and many haven't had the best of experiences. But the people at this store, know their job well.

I was running low on my basics, as I had mentioned earlier . And whenever you are planning to pick up Foundation or Concealer, even if you know your shade , like the back of your hand, its always a good idea to get color matched. Our skin tone changes a few times a year. So I got color matched again. Looks like, we were still in the same shades, which I knew of. Looks like the sun protection in my Florida vacation had worked pretty well. If you wanted to read more about Foundation and Concealers, then click HERE


I have a warm undertone, but my complexion is on the lighter side. Sometimes its difficult to get a match, in some brands, but somehow, my luck has always worked with MAC. I have used a variety of MAC Foundations over the years, but my all time favorite is MAC Face and Body Foundation. Its a cult classic and there's a reason why it is. I am in the shade C2 in Winter and C3 when I am very tanned in Summer. Please dont be confused by MAC's classfication of shades. "C" in C2 refers to Warm(rather than W) . MAC Face and Body is a water based foundation. It has buildable coverage , and can go anywhere from a light to a full coverage. If you want a heavier coverage with this foundation, then try rubbing it between your fingers, and then applying. It emulsifies the foundation and gives a heavier coverage. I was taught this trick by a MAC Pro Artist many years back. I use a flat foundation brush to apply it, and then blend it with a damp Beauty Blender. The best part of this foundation is that , it doesn't have SPF, which makes it ideal for photographs. No Flashbacks whatsoever. No wonder its a favorite for both Weddings and the Runway. A must have in your foundation stash. I have dry skin, and this foundation does not cling to my dry patches, and gives off a satin finish. Its available in two sizes at all MAC stores and counters.


The second favorite I stocked up on , is the MAC Prolongwear Foundation. This is the holy grails of concealers. I am a Mom to a toddler and I am a journalist. So practically my sleep hours are crazy, to say the least. I use this concealer under my eyes, along the bridge of my nose, around my nostrils, and on my cupid's bow. With Foundations, you always need an exact color match, but if you are using a concealer for dark circles, or under eyes, then you will need to go two shades lighter, and preferably in a different undertone, for color correction. As I earlier explained MAC's weird Classification fo shades, NW20(my shade), is actually a cool toned concealer. Yes, the W, stands for Cool, in Mac's classification. Its just the opposite. This product is pretty thick, and a little goes a long way. 1 pump is more than enough for dark circles, nose, and cupid's bow. This product will not crease on you and will stay for crazy hours. This also doesnt have SPF so there's no chance of any flashback in photos.

Last but not the least, I was running low on my eyeliner. My favorite MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack. I have been using it for years, and cant think of anything else ,when it comes to eyeliners. If you want to read a DETAILED REVIEW, then Click HERE . If you want to learn , How to Master Gel Liner, then Click Here.

SHOP MY FAVORITES :