Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Reduce Reuse Recycle: Fuzing Grocery Bags

Normally we use reusable bags...but, after our last big trip to the grocery store,
the kitchen cabinets have been under the attack of plastic shopping bag clutter.

Ahhh! There's too many! They're taking over!

Here's a fun project you can do to cut down on some of the scary mess this makes:

As always, feel free to email me your ideas/tips/tricks :)

~ Alyssa-Marie

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tip to spare: Making your own tinted moisturizer

   Of course most of us have our "beauty routines" down, & can figure out what we need to use depending on the time of year. One of my "go to" products is always tinted moisturizer...I'm a big fan of Jane Iredale's Dream Tint (tinted moisturizer), & frequently use it as a base instead of primer.

   One thing I have a hard time with, though, is that I can't always get my hands on this...& I try to keep a budget in mind, as much as I can, when it comes to this stuff. 
   As much as I hate to admit it, my collection of makeup has gotten to be pretty extensive. Now, when I say "extensive," I mean I have a 7-drawer Sterilite tower for (almost) all of it. In my pursuits as a freelance photographer, I learned a lot about hair & makeup...taking on the task of doing both for my clients, instead of hiring someone else to. Doing this gave me a lot of insight on different skin tones/types, hair techniques, & different ways to use products to make them "multi-purpose." In learning these tricks, I've learned a lot to advance my own routine.
   While it's been on the market for a decent chunk of time already, I recently tried out LorĂ©al's TrueMatch Foundation...& I'm a fan.
   Although I have to admit the initial "this shade looks like it works" turned into a "that's a little too dark on my face. By this time, I had already picked up 4 bottles of one shade & didn't have the time to go for a return/exchange. Finding one of my extra travel bottles (3oz), I poured all 4 bottles of the TrueMatch foundation in. Of course, the whole point isn't filling the's consolidating products into something easy for multi-use.
   So, realizing I'd like to simplify my makeup routine for summer (a.k.a. "I'd like to keep my makeup looking natural, not like my face is melting off."), of course I wanted to get a little more out of a tinted moisturizer than (very light) coverage. In order to do this, & not waste a slightly dark shade of foundation, I added a good amount of Soap & Glory's Touch & Glow (tinted moisturizer) to balance out the mixture.
   One great thing about this lotion is that there are micro bronzer beads in the bottle, so it's meant to be more of a basic tinted moisturizer. Mixing it with the foundation gives you a bit more coverage, & the mixture last a bit longer than the basic stuff. One thing that's great about the combination, too, is that mixing the bronzer beads in the foundation ends up giving you a more natural look than a single all-over color on your face. I mean, our faces are NOT one color all over (& there are fewer ways to look more "fake/make" than layering that stuff on - LOL.

   If you have any tips you'd like to share, send them to :

Hope you're having a great week!

- Alyssa Marie

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Blandi v. Suave : Dry Shampoo Review

   Having naturally curly hair, one of my "bff's" has always been my flat iron. Granted, it took quite a few years of trial & error to figure out what would keep humidity from mimicking hair like that of Ms. Diana Ross. Of course, the next battle would turn into finding products that wouldn't weigh my hair down (or have some ill effect & turn my hair into a grungy mess). Just thinking of the techniques I tried & the amount of time I spent on my hair through my teenage years makes me tired.

   Of course, in the years I'd spent fighting my natural texture, I put it through one hell of a ringer. Not knowing too much about hair health (aside the "old wives tales" passed down from my mother), I paid no attention to the fact that spending day-after-day washing/blow-drying/flat ironing wasn't good for my hair.
   Washing your hair too frequently meant stripping it of natural oils...& (ironically enough) washing your hair too frequently can even make your hair greasy! Shampooing removes sebum, the oil your scalp produces. When you shampoo daily your sebaceous glands produce oil at a higher rate, because they have to compensate for what's lost. Many dermatologists say that gradually reducing your shampoo use will slow the production rate of your sebum glands, which means your scalp will be less greasy. (By the way - some people even say frequent shampooing can cause hair loss!)

"Oh, you like? It's all natural, baby."
   These days, I've spent plenty of mornings waking up at my boyfriends place trying to pull myself together from what was in my purse. Whether it was a morning I had to head off to work or class, I wasn't always in a spot to grab a shower...& was always paranoid my hair would be some troubling wreck, unless it was already straightened. Discovering dry shampoo? One the best additions to my "bff" team.
   When it comes to differences in brands, I've tried to keep budget in mind...I mean, nothing wrong with wanting to save a little money here & there - right? Right. If I find a product that works well, & gives me the results I want, then I don't mind spending a little extra (within reason, of course) to have the reliability. The two brands I've become most familiar with (in the battle of dry shampoo) are Suave® & Oscar Blandi®. 

   Reading any of the Amazon reviews for this product, you can see that there is a clear draw down the middle when it comes to supporters of this product. When I came across it I was completely unfamiliar with any of those reviews, & only noticed the "as seen on NBC's Fashion Star" sticker calling out for my attention. Scanning the shelf for the price, the under $3 tag had me excited. Of course, I was a bit skeptical...but figured that if it turned out to be a cheap screwup, at least it'd still be cheap (& if it worked, then I'd hit the proverbial "mother load of luck").

   "If professionals on NBC use this product, & happily endorse it, then it has to work...right?"
             Ha! Big fat W-R-O-N-G.

   Not only did this product not live up to expectations (or it's promising promotions), it actually pulled a complete 180˚ on what it's supposed to do.
   The very first thing I noticed is that this isn't a product friendly to dark hair types....the spray is white. Normally I wouldn't care too much & would just combing it through (to work the product into my hair)....but when I tried doing this, I had a hard time running my comb through the area of hair (that had the product on it). And the white residue was still left, making it look like I'd had a wicked case of dandruff.
   After finally getting the white residue to go away (which took a round brush & a blow dryer, the complete opposite of "easy use"), my intention was to leave it in to see if it would "help" my hair at all. Barely half an hour later my hair was a dingy, greasy honestly looked as if I hadn't washed my hair in a month. (Just to note...while my hair is naturally curly, the only times I've ever had any issues with my hair getting like this have always been product related.)
At $2.97, this cheap product turned into a (fortunately) cheap lesson:
don't waste your money.

   Truth-be-told, this was the first dry shampoo product I was exposed to...&, considering it was pretty much "on a whim,"I'm really glad I found it. A few years ago, on a random trip to Sephora, I saw this on one of the shelves & thought it was worth a look...also, at the time, they weren't carrying a huge amount of dry shampoo options (& this one seemed pretty legit). I'm incredibly happy with this dry shampoo, & it's pretty easy to find at most beauty stores (& of course online). This spray lets me get through an extra day or two between washing my hair, & helps me retain volume without "grossing it up."
   Exactly as advertised, the spray leaves no reside...which is extremely important for dark hair. It doesn't cake on like hairspray, doesn't dry out your hair...& doesn't turn you from Lady Lovely Locks:
 to Old Greg:

   If you've had any experience with either of these brands/products, or any others, let me know what you think of them! Send your thoughts to

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Quick Note To Readers...

  I'm figuring out what I can do to make this site more enjoyable to all of you,
& learning new things in the process.
Here's a quick video to share my thoughts about it all with you....

Curious about the music?
Of course you are.

My wonderful boyfriend, Daniel, & his cool friend, Joe, are in a band.
The Instant

The song is "Vacuum" from their album "Cosmic Cage/Modern Shapes".

I'm incredibly fond of their music (& it's not just due to bias).
Seriously, check them out.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Coral & Blue French Manicure (w/Daisy Detail!)

Here's a fun little manicure idea that I tried recently...

Colors used:
~ "Coral Chic" from Ulta (found at any Ulta store)
"Blagger" from Butter London (found at Nordstrom, Dillard's, Sephora, & Ulta)
~ "Taxi Yellow Creme" from N.Y.C. (found at RiteAid, CVS, Walgreens, Meijer)
~ White Liner from Art Club/Forsythe Cosmetics (found at Family Dollar)

If you have any tips/tricks/thoughts you'd like to share, email me at:

Friday, May 11, 2012

(Accidentally) Remixing a Cookie Mix

*Video version of the following can be found at bottom of the post.*

   As much as I prefer baking things homemade ("from scratch"), I don't always have the time it takes to do so. Some days are just too busy to spend a chunk of time preparing everything, & it's always nice to keep a few "ready mixes" on hand for these occasions.
   Today was one of those busy days for me, getting ready for the weekend & baking for a graduation party I'm attending it was incredibly convenient to use a package of Betty Crocker's Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix. (I've used these before & have had a lot of luck with them.) Granted, a slight error (on my part) presented a need for some quick improv...but I'm pretty pleased with the results (& the lesson I was left with).
   As most recipes, there's a list of necessary ingredients on the back of the package...which is incredibly simple: 1 egg, & 1 stick of butter (softened).
   Of course, putting the concept of an "easy mix" in my mind meant that my full attention was not on mixing all of the ingredients as called for. "Softened" butter became "melted" butter...& "Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix" became "Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix" (the temperature of the melted butter melted some of the chocolate chips).  Realizing my error (which would've been kind of hard to miss), I baked the cookies anyway...only learning after they'd baked that it caused the dough to distribute differently. Initially questioning if I'd wasted a batch of cookies, I was determined to turn the lost bunch into something fun (& ok to serve). Scanning my cupboards for a working idea, I came across a bag of mini marshmallows...& that's when the brainstorm hit. 

Of course! Marshmallows!

   Taking the "mutant choco-cookies" & cutting them in half, I placed marshmallows on one of the sides. In order to make this easier, I cut the marshmallows in half (from the top, on the "O," not from the side) & pulled the marshmallows from the sides (in turn exposing the "mallow goop"). Doing this meant that the marshmallows stuck to the cookie portions. After that I placed the matching portions on top of the marshmallows, & put the cookie "sandwiches" on a regular dinner plate.

   These went into the microwave for 30 seconds (instead of the oven - in order to not burn the edges of the cookies), which was just enough to melt the marshmallows & seal the "sandwiches" shut. The final product - Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie Marshmallow sandwiches!

   To make sure your cookies (& other baked goods) don't stick to their containers, be sure to use a layer of wax paper or parchment paper between the container bottom & your baked goods. Reynolds® is a "frequent flier"in my kitchen (& craft room).

If you have a tip or recipe you'd like me to try, email them to me at

Looking forward to seeing your thoughts & tips!

- Alyssa Marie

To see all of this in video form (if you prefer), watch this..."(Accidentally) Remixing a Cookie Mix":