Friday, November 29, 2013

FIT Foodie Friday (Kinda)

Hi guys I know I've been slacking off big time, but I'm trying!


I've been eating pretty crappy lately, especially this weekend for Thanksgiving. But I have also been eating less. So win win there? I have been more busy at work with ongoing projects and deadlines, so I've been distracted. Distraction means less mindless snacking at work and eating just to eat. But I also haven't had much of an appetite. It comes and goes.


I quit my gym. Sad, I know. It was a nice gym too, but the price per month was killing me. I'm trying to save up for a new apartment and I had to cut costs. I was barely going anyway. So I made the cut, and I don't miss it. BUT I'm considering signing up for a couple of 5ks in the NYC area. I was so bummed I missed Color Me Rad this summer, I've made up my mind to do it this year. Along with a couple other ones. Maybe I can attempt a 13.1 while I'm at it. Nah let me not fool myself. I'll do the 5ks to start and see where it takes me. I for sure need to get my act together. Besides the fact that the Mister comments on it all the time, I'm disappointed in myself. Why am I struggling to put my (tall) UGGS on?!? Ummm nope. Nipping this in the bud right now. There is plenty I can do at home with better time management and motivation.

Sorry for letting you all down! I am getting back on my game. #OperationSlimmaz is in effect.

- L

Monday, November 25, 2013

Music Monday: Mark Ronson-Version

What is there that can be said about Mark Ronson that hasn't already been said? The English as well as newer artists such as Bruno Mars, Adele, Amy Winehouse  and Christina Aguilera (all of which can be argued will be considered legends some day). The fact that he is sought out by artists of such caliber speaks to the kind of producer that Mark Ronson is. 

However, Mark doesn't only make music for other artists. Ever so often, he takes time to release his own album. The first was Here Comes The Fuzz, which was released in 2003. It would take Mark four years to release his follow up album. The criminally underrated Version.

Released in 2007, Version is a cover album that features three original songs. You have to understand, I'm extremely selective when it comes to cover songs. I've heard many terrible cover songs that do not do any justice to the original. This is why I was hesitant with Mark's album. An entire album dedicated to covers? Scary stuff.

Thankfully, my fears were set aside upon listening to the first track, God Put A Smile On Your Face.

A brass filled cover of Coldplay's 2003 song, Mark Ronson's version set the tone for the entire album. I have a soft spot for the brass filled jazz of the 1950's so Version was right up my alley. Mark chose the right vocalists for the right song when putting this album together, giving modern songs a jazzy feel. From The Smith's Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before to Britney Spears' Toxic, Mark was able to take all of these songs and give them new life. None however, depicts this as well as track number 5, Valerie.

Originally by the indie rock band The Zutons, the cover that Mark Ronson put together for the late, great Amy Winehouse feels like an entirely different song. Check it out for yourself.

So tell me reader, is there a cover version that you love? A cover version that you hate? Sound off on the comments!


Monday, November 18, 2013

Music Monday

It's just one of those days where I listen to some old school tings...

Monday, November 11, 2013

Music Mondays: Robin Thicke "Love After War"

If your only knowledge of Robin Thicke is from his controversial yet massive hit Blurred Lines, you can be forgiven for believing that this is the only kind of music he makes. The truth is that Robin spent years out of the mainstream eye writing hits for artists such as Jordan Knight, Marc Anthony and Christina Aguilera.  After writing for other artists, Robin released his first album, A Beautiful World in 2003. While not a massive hit, it would produce a song that would give Robin his first taste at solo success. The song is When I Get You Alone. 

After this semi-hit Robin went back to the studio and reinvented himself. The result would the aptly named The Evolution of Robin Thicke. Evolution would be the album that would bring Robin to the mainstream with hits such as Lost Without U, Can U Believe and Wanna Love You Girl. 

After Evolution, Robin continued his hit parade with his follow up albums. However, one album seems to be lost in the pack. This album is 2011's Love After War

Unlike his most recent effort Blurred Lines (which he has gone on record to say is his least personal album), Love After War follows in the tradition of pure, unadulterated R&B that made his previous albums classics. Written around the theme of couples who make up after an argument, Robin explores what it takes to make a relationship work. This theme can be heard most on the tracks We A Family, I Don't Know How It Feels Like To Be U, and of course, Love After War.

In closing, I hope that this post has helped the reader see that Robin Thicke is much more than just Blurred Lines. Yes, it's his biggest hit to date, but it is far from his best and Love After War shows how great of an artist he is. So tell me, what are your thoughts on Robin Thicke?


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Let's Get Personal: The Routine Part 2

Welcome back and thanks for sticking with me on this long journey that is my face routine. If you missed the backstory or part 1, you can check them here and here. I really will cut down on my routine and simplify it more in a few months. Holidays are coming up and I can't afford to spend any excess money. It's all about the budget! Plus we're looking forward to moving soon, so any little bit I can cut out to save a few bucks I will do away with. Moving on, let's get to it.

Ok so I use a variety of oils. Again, I had to do trial and error to find the ones that worked the best for me. The only ones that worked really well were argan oil and maracuja oil. Maracuja oil is passion fruit oil that is high in nutrients and skin goodies, similar to most of the other oils out there. I use either one after the Dr. Gross peel, usually after my acne treatment. They both sink in and absorb really well (moderation is key as it is with everything) and in the morning my skin is gorgeous. Currently the only maracuja oil I can find is from Tarte and it is pricey, but worth it in my opinion. I usually alternate between maracuja and argan oil to stretch it out.

As much as I wanted it to work out, jojoba oil didn't help my skin when I used it as a moisturizer, so I use it with Jamaican black castor oil in a 1:3 ratio for OCM (Oil Cleansing Method) and sometimes add a few drops of rose hip seed oil for an extra burst of vitamin C. I thought it was crazy at first using oils to wash my face, but after I read this XOvain article on OCM and tried it, I have to say it works. Like dissolves like, so the oils and dirt of the day come right off without stripping your skin of all moisture. Also using OCM melts makeup off my face like nothing else, even waterproof mascara. I don't OCM daily because it is time consuming and I don't have enough wash cloths to keep up. I do it when I have a lot of heavy makeup on (eyes, lips and face) or when I want to really open up my pores and get a deep, deep cleaning. The hot wash cloth is good to let more pores open up and release some of the gunk before I rinse in cold water to close them up. It's therapeutic to massage with the oils and they release an inner glow without being harsh. Take it easy with the castor oil and play around to get your ratios right. Castor oil can over dry your skin, depending on skin type. 

During the summer it was so humid, I didn't want to put anything on my face. While the oils worked great at night, during the day when I was out and about, they weren't cutting it. I went back to the drawing board and came up with rose water + glycerin for a home made moisturizer. I figured why not. Rose water makes a pretty good setting spray for my makeup and it smells so amazing. I played around with different combinations before settling on 1 part glycerin to 4 parts rose water to get the right consistency for me. Too much glycerin made my face sticky, but too little wasn't moisturizing enough. Once I got the combination down, I was in heaven! It absorbed in so well and kept my skin hydrated without making me greasy or being heavy on the skin. I loved it! But now with the weather getting cooler, and my skin getting drier, my rose water + glycerin isn't cutting it anymore, so I have been using traditional moisturizers. I alternate between Mario Badescu's Aloe Moisturizer with SPF 15 and Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing gel. It depends on how dry my skin is, but I am finding the Clinique to be a little too greasy lately. I guess I have to play around more with my routine for the colder months, now that I have it down for the summer. 

Clean and Clear Advantage Acne Spot Treatment has been saving me for some time. I do see a difference in the size of bumps and redness when I use it regularly. For really bad breakout days, I use it 2x daily - once in the morning and once at night. It doesn't burn my skin or make my face redder, and I feel it working almost immediately. I've also learned through trial and error that only the name brand version works. Though the store brands of this product may be cheaper, I can say that they are not as effective. Most of the time I'm all for cheaper instead of name brands, but with this product, there is a difference.

You can never have too many. I love mixing the different types of clay with ACV. The Moroccan red clay was too strong for me when used solo. My skin was red and tight for a few hours. The Aztec Indian Healing clay is green clay and alone it works well, but I mix a tiny bit of red in there and boom. Perfection. It really brings everything to the surface. And sure the ACV is smelly, but it mixes with the clay more evenly than water - no chunks. Just be sure to use plastic or glass bowls/utensils because metal will interact with the clay and you don't want that.

The Queen Helene Mint Julep mask has green clay in it, and is great for leaving on pesky spots over night. Bumps either dry up and disappear or come to a head and then disappear. It's also great for when I want to cut some time and just smear on the mask without worrying about measuring and mixing things. It was actually the first mask I was introduced to years ago, but never bothered to keep up with until my recent journey.

The Origins Clear Improvement activated charcoal mask is pretty good too, but it stung too badly for me to use on an everyday or more frequent basis. It's similar to the sensation I get with an all red clay mask where I can only leave it on for about 2-3 minutes before I'm running to wash it off. On the off chance I decided to leave it on longer, the charcoal mask doesn't leave me red or sting for as long as the red clay does. I have read on the internet that you can buy activated charcoal capsules/powder and just make your own mask, so I may try that and see if it's less harsh than the Origins version. 

And this ladies and gents, concludes my routine! Yes I'm terrible with the amount of products I use. Because quite frankly, it shouldn't take so many products to get the results I want. But I'm going to make the changes slowly. I don't want another freak out after everything I've worked so hard for. Because being able to walk out of the house confidently without makeup has been amazing :) Now it's to keep it up where the work comes in.

Hope this was helpful to you.

- L


Monday, November 4, 2013

Music Monday-Kings Of Leon: Come Around Sundown

Kings of Leon have been around for a while. Forming in 1999, the Followill boys have come a long way from the southern rock sound that defined their early years. While the band was able to find success overseas using this formula, it wasn't until the release of their fourth album, Only by the Night, that the band was finally able to break in the United States. Peaking at number 4 on the Billboard Charts, Only by the Night spawned several hit singles which include Sex on Fire, Notion, and of course the album's biggest hit, Use Somebody.

With the success that was Only by the Night, one would assume that the follow-up album will definitely be a massive hit. And while that is true for the rest of the world, we here in America seem to be missing out once again. Come Around Sundown managed to reach Platinum status in every country that it was released in except for America, where it reached Gold.

In short, Come Around Sundown is exactly what it was meant to be. The Followill boys intended to make an album with a southern summer feel and they delivered. Songs like Radioactive and Back Down South give the listener a longing for those lazy summer days, whether you're originally from the South or not. To me, this is an example of a great album. You can be sitting in your apartment in New York City where the current temperature is 37 degrees but this album will transport you to warm summer day where you are gathered with your friends for a cookout. That's what great albums do. Unfortunately, it seems that we here in America haven't learned to appreciate this fact.

Note: Kings of Leon have announced the Mechanical Bull 2014 Tour. If you are interested in attending, please purchase your tickets here.