Recent Beauty Favorites

Friday, January 22, 2016

Hey dolls! It's been a while since I've shared some of my recent beauty favorites and I figured it was about time I dish on some of my latest beauty loves. These aren't necessarily brand new products, but they are new to me, and I've pretty much fallen in love with each and every one of them. Somehow they've made their way into my beauty routine, and I'll tell you exactly why I love them and how I use them. 

Before I get to the products, I wanted to let you know that this post is not sponsored in any way, but it does contain affiliate links, which means that if you happen to purchase said item through the link, I get compensation for it (a very, very small percentage). I've also included regular links to the brand websites too, but in cases where the item can be found cheaper somewhere else (like on Amazon) I let you know and linked you to the better deal (where I purchased it from). I'm just sharing a good deal when I see one!

Not Your Mother's Clean Freak Refreshing Dry Shampoo | $5.99

As a naturally curly-haired woman who never wears her natural curl, dry shampoo is like my #1 hair must-have. I only wash my hair every 3-4 days, which allows me to smooth it with my blow dryer only twice a week and keeps it from getting overly fried. It also leaves me with some crazy greasy hair by the end of day 2. I've tried just about every dry shampoo on the market and this is the one I tend to buy the most. It's pretty cheap and you get a pretty good sized bottle (some drug store aerosols are tiny!) and it smells great. Plus, it's not as noticeably white and chalky as some others. I have dark roots, so if I go a little overboard it can tend to look a little grey. To avoid this, I shake the can, hold it about 8-10 inches away from my hair and spray all over my roots, hairline, and any greasy-looking areas that need some help. Then I let it sit for a minute or two, flip my head over, and use my fingertips and palms to rub the product in and diffuse any remaining white powder. Some dry shampoos are pretty heavily fragranced, but this one is light and refreshing, and not too overpowering.

John Frieda Root Blur | 18.99 {$14.99 on Amazon}

I've been looking for an affordable product like this forever now, and I'm so glad John Frieda finally created this product that's available in drug stores. It's a pigmented mineral powder and brush set that used to blend away roots in between color jobs. Whether you have grey, dark roots, or light roots, this product can help camouflage any obvious roots you have. I don't know about you, but my hair grows pretty quickly. I have these super light, golden blonde roots that start to show about a week or two after I get my roots touched up, and then I'm stuck staring at those little blondies until I'm ready to refresh my color again. I use the Chestnut to Espresso color, and the combination of both colors lightly brushed on my part and around my hairline works perfectly, allowing me to stretch out the weeks in between root touch ups. It comes in 4 colors, and hopefully, they'll create a few more (especially for the red heads!) Tip: if it's a dry shampoo day, I use that first and finish with the root powder. 

Hey Honey Open Your Eyes eye contour lifting cream | $28

I was recently introduced to this product through my January Ipsy Glam Bag and I'm so glad I got a chance to try it. I have a lot of different eye creams that all promise to do different things, and most of them don't deliver. My main problem is puffiness under my eyes, and I'm also concerned with the little fine lines I'm started to get (hello, 31). Another problem I have is finding an eye cream that I can use in the morning that won't cake up underneath my eye makeup- most are too thick or goopy. This eye cream truly does work to reduce the puffiness and tightens the skin under my eyes in the morning without leaving me with little balled up bits of greasy cream under my concealer. $28 is a bit of a splurge, but my eyes are totally worth it and this product totally delivers. When my little tube from Ipsy runs out I'll definitely be ordering a full sized tube!

E.L.F. Instant Lift Brow Pencil | $2

I've been trying to go for more of a natural look with my brows lately, which is super hard to do with sparse brows and after years of drawing them on with a pretty heavy hand. I love this waxy pencil and the brow brush on the end. I use the brush first to tame my brows, then use the pencil to lightly draw short, quick lines, mimicking tiny eyebrow hairs. If I get it too dark, I use the brush to gently comb the brows again and to lighten and soften the penciled areas. It took a bit of practice, but after a couple of days I fell in love and now prefer this pencil over my usual brow stuff. The only downside is that I've only been able to find this pencil online, so next time I'm ordering like 5 at a time. The color I use is Neutral Brown and one pencil lasted me about 2 months.

E.L.F. Hydrating Under Eye Primer | $3

This hydrating under eye primer is infused with Vitamin C & E, shea, green tea, aloe, and ginko biloba to condition the skin. I love how lightweight and sheer it is, making it moisturizing without pilling underneath concealer. It really keeps your makeup from settling into fine lines and gives my under eye concealer major staying power.

Well, there you go- five of my recent beauty favorites. Have you used or heard of any of these? Let me know in the comment section- I love hearing about new beauty products and why I need to be using them!

Don't forget to enter this giveaway too! 

Kid-friendly turkey & cheese "sushi"

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

My kids work really hard all day at school. Like, really hard. I know because their teachers tell me so at every parent-teacher conference every semester since they've started school. They get all As and Bs and have near perfect attendance, which makes them superstars in my eyes! When I send them off in the morning, usually in a groggy haze myself, I often forget just how much energy it must take for them to get through the day. They insist on eating breakfast at school (they're on safety patrol, AKA crossing guards, so they get there super early). Sometimes all they eat is a quick bowl of cereal for breakfast before rushing off for safety patrol duties. Surely, by lunchtime, they're starving. Even after they've wolfed down their lunches at school, they come home at 3:30 ravenously starving and telling me about their crazy day. Before they start rummaging through the cupboards for some cookies or chips, I like to have a healthy snack option ready for them to fill them up and ensure they won't be snacking until dinnertime. This one is fun, healthy, and provides essential vitamins and minerals for my growing kiddos. 

  • tortillas (flour, wheat, spinach- it's up to you)
  • cream cheese
  • sliced turkey
  • carrots, thinly sliced
  • baby spinach
  • optional veggies: avocado, cucumber, bell peppers, etc)

Spread a thin layer of cream cheese over the tortilla. Lay spinach leaves in a small heap in the middle of the tortilla from edge to edge. Lay turkey on top of spinach, add carrots, and top with any remaining veggies of your choosing. Roll up tightly. Slice into "sushi" pieces and serve with fresh fruit and a glass of Nesquik chocolate milk.

These cute little "sushi" rolls are so much more fun that plain ol' sandwiches any day. I love to inspire my kids to be creative whenever possible and nurture their creative personalities! Life is so much more fun that way. And I can feel good about treating them to chocolate milk when it's made with Nesquik Chocolate Powder. It provides 7 essential vitamins and minerals with 45% less sugar than other chocolate milk. That includes 8 grams of protein to support growth and development, calcium for strong bones and teeth, and potassium to support active muscles. Plus, Nesquik proudly contains no artificial colors or sweeteners, which makes it a welcome addition to our breakfasts and after school snacks. It's a chocolatey treat I can feel good about serving to my kids!

Seriously, these little sushi bites are so good I even make them for myself sometimes.

What is your children's favorite after school snack? Don't forget the Nesquik!
Need more healthy food ideas? Check out this Pinterest board.

One Pot Spaghetti- Sunday comfort food made easy!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Around these parts, Sunday is family day- the one day where we're supposed to slow down and spend time with each other. Weekdays can get pretty hectic with school, homework, after-school activities, errands, chores, and a husband who works late most nights. On Sundays though, we get up, go to church, and get the entire day together, all five of us. It's also the one day where I know we'll all be gathered around the table eating dinner at the same time. After a crazy week, I look forward to slowing down on Sundays and spending time together, and I don't want to waste my precious family time stuck in the kitchen all day.

One of our favorite Sunday dinners is spaghetti. Everyone loves spaghetti, right? It's a comfort food and a crowd-pleaser. Well, I fell in love with this One Pot Spaghetti recipe (introduced to me by my food blogger BFF, Sarah, a couple of years ago), and it's become a family favorite in my house! The name says it all- it uses only one pot, which means it's super easy, and the flavor is incredible. I love that the noodles are cooked right in the spaghetti sauce and really soak in that saucy goodness. Because it's quick, easy, comforting, and delicious, it's perfect for Sunday dinners and it's a great way to get your whole family gathered around the dinner table together.

  • 1 lb. ground beef (or sausage, if you prefer)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 14 oz chicken broth (canned or homemade)
  • 1 jar Ragu pasta sauce  (any variety)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 8 oz. spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


In a large pot, brown the ground beef (I prefer to use lean, organic beef so there's no need to drain the grease). Add the onion and garlic and cook for another minute or two. Pour in the Ragu pasta sauce (our favorite is the Chunky Tomato, Garlic, & Onion), the chicken broth, and water, and bring to a boil. Break the spaghetti into pieces, then stir into the sauce. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 17-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure the noodles don't stick together. When the pasta is al dente, stir in the Parmesan cheese. Serve, and enjoy! Be sure to make enough for leftovers- it's even better the 2nd day.

Ragu pasta sauces are perfect for making this deliciously simple comfort food! The founder of Ragu, Assunta Cantisano, was an immigrant and a single mom. The process of making the sauce stems from her own family recipe and the sauce standards Assunta demanded were passed down from generation to generation since 1937. Ragu is made with farm-grown ingredients and uses no artificial flavors or high fructose corn syrup either, which I love- it's definitely my family's favorite. The affordable price makes it my favorite too.

What are some of your favorite pasta dishes and comfort foods?

Life lately- and a very exciting announcement!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Hey lovelies!

It's been hot minute since I've posted any personal blog posts, so forgive me for that. Life has been a little crazy, especially around the holidays, and I got wrapped up in the craziness that is Christmas with 3 kids and a large extended family. I sure do love the holidays, but sometimes as a blogger, I'm much happier when they are over! There's just so much to do and not enough time to do it all. I hope you've been catching up with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, because I try to post regular updates on there as much as I can, in addition to sharing blog posts, promotions and giveaways. Make sure to follow me on those networks- I love interacting with people and I've made some fun internet friendships with quite a few of my amazing readers. The power of social media is pretty awesome! Anyway, here's a little of what we've been up to lately:

I finally dug deep and got myself out of my crafting rut and made a few special gifts for Christmas. I hadn't really used my crafting room at all since we moved in September, but about a week before Christmas I finally got the itch to make some last minute gifts and they turned out really cute!

My kids got crafty over Christmas break too and had a "door decorating contest" (something their classes did at school) and they had so much fun with it. Lily's was a Frozen theme, of course, and Ayden's was Star Wars because he's absolutely obsessed with Star Wars now after seeing the new movie. They are so crafty and creative and came up with the ideas all on their own. I didn't even know what they were doing until they showed me the finished product.

Harper was absolutely spoiled this Christmas! It was the first time where she could actually open presents herself, and once we showed her how to rip the wrapping paper there was no stopping her. She's been enjoying her new car and is already texting while driving.

We finally got some snow after a pretty mild fall. My kids are in heaven! My back hasn't been though, after all of the shoveling we've been doing. Because we live so close to the school, we have a lot of kids walking in front of our house in the mornings and afternoons, so I always try to have the sidewalks cleared for them. Thankfully, one of my neighbors walked over with his snow blower and cleared the sidewalk for us after a significant snowstorm. I need to get one for myself- it took him 90 seconds while it took me about 45 minutes with a shovel.

2015 came to an end in a really sad way for me with the passing of my grandmother, whom we had just visited back in June. The news was shocking and so sad, and I only mentioned it once or twice when it happened. I just haven't been ready to talk about  it and it's still so personal that I don't want to say too much. My grandma was truly the matriarch of our family. She had 6 children and my extended family is huge and spread out through southern California. I had to hop on a plane the day after Christmas to be with the rest of my family in California for her memorial. I flew with my parents and left my husband and children behind- it was just too expensive for us all to go, but I needed to be there. While we were all grieving and heartbroken, the trip itself was good and I'm so glad that I was able to attend. I got to reconnect with some family members I hadn't seen in probably a decade, as well as some dear family friends who hadn't seen me since I was a teenager. Because I was there by myself, I wasn't performing my regular mom duties and I was able to be fully immersed in this family time and help support everyone as we all came together to remember my beautiful grandmother. I still can't believe she's really gone and that I'll never hear her sweet voice or kiss her soft cheek again. I'm so thankful for our visit in June. Before that, it had been 7 years since I'd been back to see her, and I would have never forgiven myself if I hadn't gone to see her before she died. I will cherish those memories, the conversations we had, and the photos we took forever. She was laid to rest an absolutely gorgeous military cemetery overlooking the ocean in San Diego. Rest in peace, Grandma Walker.

In light of that sadness, I have some happier news. Unbeknownst to me at the time, while I was away for the funeral, a tiny miracle was occurring. I'm pregnant! Yes, baby #4 will be arriving sometime at the end of summer 2016. There's been a lot of baby talk this last year and we knew we wanted to try for another baby in 2016, but I didn't think it would happen so quickly. We've got a 3 1/2 year age gap between my first two, and then an almost 7-year gap between #2 & #3, so I did not expect to get pregnant when Harper was only 17 months old. She will be just a little over 2 years old when this baby comes along, and I'm a little nervous to have a toddler and a newborn at the same time. I've never had two in diapers! I know I can do this though...WE can do this. My husband is a great help and we are over the moon excited to be expanding our family again. Children are such a blessing! You can watch my reveal to the kids here! It's so adorably cute and heart-warming to see their genuine reactions.

These are a few screenshots from the video:

Now, excuse me while I go trade in my car for a minivan.

Don't forget to enter this giveaway!

Gelish MINI Kung Fu Panda 2016 collection {swatches + giveaway}

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Helllllllo 2016! 

As my first blog post of the new year, I figured it was quite fitting to start with some swatches from my new favorite gel polish collection from my favorite gel polish brand, Gelish MINI. I was given a PR sample for the Kung Fu Panda 2016 collection back in November but figured I'd wait until the hustle and bustle of the holidays were over with to share it with everyone. I didn't want these babies to be overlooked! They are just too gorgeous to get buried in all of those holiday blog posts.

Become a polished warrior as fast as lightening! In conjunction with DreamWorks Animation's release of Kung Fu Panda 3, Morgan Taylor and Gelish MINI introduce the Kung Fu Panda Collection. Find your favorite feminine hue amongst their six flirty colors to welcome Mei Mei- the fearless and fun-loving, ribbon-dancing panda. 

In true Gelish form, these luscious gel polishes apply like a dream and provide awesome coverage with just 2 coats. All 6 colors went on smoothly and looked perfect when cured! Let's take a closer look at these gorgeous colors! 

It's Gonna Be Mei is a lovely frosted pink pearl. I wasn't completely sold on this color until I tried it on. The pearlescent shimmer gives it almost a hint of rose gold, which is so hot right now. Because of the frosted finish you'll want to make sure to apply this in long, even strokes to get an even finish. 

Kung Fu-chsia is a bright fuchsia pearl. This is probably my favorite from the Kung Fu Panda collection because I love bright hot pinks, and this one doesn't disappoint. I love the shimmer! 

Tigress Knows Best is a hot red creme. I'm a little over anything red right now, what with Christmas just getting over and after wearing a lot of red from the Red Matters collection. This one is very similar to a lot of other Gelish MINI colors, but if you need a fun, bright red, this is a fun and fresh choice! 

Po-riwinkle is a light periwinkle creme. This is another new favorite! Sometimes I can't quite tell if it's blue or purple, and it's so unique to the Gelish line. The shimmer is very soft and subtle too. Love, love, love!

Warriors Don't Wine is a deep plum creme. This polish was just a little thicker than the others but still provided good coverage without getting clumpy. It's beautiful! 

Extra Plum Sauce is a bold amethyst pearl. Another new and unique blue/purple to the Gelish line! This one is so fun and bright and shimmery, frosted finish adds a little bit of pop to it. 

I'm so in love with this collection. I've already worn Kung Fu-chsia twice and Po-riwinkle once, and I also did my mom's nails with each of those colors. Can you tell they are our new favorites?!

Here's one of my favorite color combinations:

The Kung Fu Panda 2016 collection from Gelish MINI will be available for a limited time beginning in January, and Kung Fu Panda 3 will hit theaters on January 29th. You can find them and the rest of the Gelish MINI line at Sally Beauty Supply for $13.99 each. You can also order the entire Kung Fu Panda collection here!
One lucky Lulu & Sweet Pea reader is going to win 3 bottles of polish from this collection!

Please refer to the terms and conditions.
Open to US residents only.
Must be 18 to enter.
No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law.
Only the first entry is mandatory.

Never tried gel nails? I've got a ton of tutorials for you! My DIY Gel Nails post is a great place to start. I walk you through the entire process, step by step, and I include a lot of pictures and I'm a stickler for detail. It's a long one...but I promise: read the tutorial from start to finish and you'll end up with an amazing gel manicure. Once you've got that down you can move on to some of my other tutorials and you'll soon be a pro.

This post contains affiliate links. I was given these products free of charge from Gelish MINI for reviewing purposes. All opinions are, as always, my own.
Powered by Blogger.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Theme Designed By Hello Manhattan

Your copyright

Melissa Swenson and Lulu & Sweet Pea