Monday, December 23, 2013

Music Monday: Holidays!

Music Monday will be out for this week because of the holiday. See you all next week and Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Let's Get Personal: Simplified Winter Routine

As I mentioned before in my long and tedious face routine (you can see here and here) it was long and involved so many products! But now that the weather is colder, I've had to switch it up and I've finally gotten it down. It may not be only just be officially winter, but the weather has been no joke. We've already had snow twice up here! So here it is, with less products and less steps. :)

I use Basis Cleaner Clean face wash with my Clarisonic Mia using the Deep Pore brush. It cleans without stripping and no harsh ingredients. When I have dry spots and dead skin where I couldn't leave well enough alone, I use PIDA gel to get rid of them and smooth things out. My old faithful Clinique Clarifying Lotion 2 is my serious go to toner (even though in the 3 step program Clinique has it under exfoliate) and I will never change from this. Something about it just sets my skin right.

I've been using Mario Badescu Aloe Moisturizer. It was too heavy for the summer, but I am loving it for the winter. It is so moisturizing without being heavy or greasy. For the extra cold days, or when I know I will be outside for an extended period, I will put some argan oil on top to seal in the moisture and create a barrier. Currently I'm using Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil Light. It sinks right into my skin and doesn't interfere with my makeup.

I've been using Mario Badescu Drying Lotion overnight to treat stubborn acne bumps. It really helps to shrink them after a few days. It also helps with deep painful bumps that don't come to the surface right away. For the little ones that aren't as bothersome, I use Clean & Clear Persa-Gel to get those buggers.

And that's pretty much it. I don't use masks or the peels anymore. It's too time consuming and my skin isn't as oily to warrant doing it the way I did in the summer. Plus my skin seems to be getting along better with me now, so this simple routine does it. No extra steps or products necessary!

Told you I would get my routine in check! My skin's been behaving pretty well and I'm enjoying it.

- L

Friday, December 20, 2013

FIT Foodie Fridays


Nothing has changed. LOL #OperationSlimmaz has been postponed. ::sigh:: I will try again soon. BUT I did pre-register for two 5k marathons in the boroughs. So soon (hopefully) I can get moving. Winter and all this cold weather has been killing me. I know, no excuses, but I seem to be full of them at the moment. Oops.


Today's food and healthy recipe is from Latoyah at Sugar Pink Food from across the waters in the UK. Thank you Latoyah! It was lovely working with you!

I love my food and creating my recipes, but I wanted to create a dish that as equally delicious as it was healthy, and I came up with this.  The beauty of this dish is that you can add as many different vegetables as you like, giving you the opportunity to get your creative juices flowing! As well as being tasty and healthy, this is quick and very simple to make.

chicken noodle soup

You will need: 

900ml chicken or vegetable stock (or Miso soup mix)
2 Chicken Breasts
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
50g rice or wheat noodles
2 tbsp sweet corn, canned or frozen
Red cabbage, chopped
2-3 mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 spring onions, shredded
1 Red Onion, chopped
2 tsp soy sauce, plus extra for serving
mint or basil leaves to serve
Any other veg that you can think of

Pour the stock into a pan and add the chicken and garlic. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, partly cover and simmer for about 20 mins, until the chicken is tender and cooked all the way through. 

Remove the chicken to a board and shred using a couple of forks.

Return the chicken to the stock with the mushrooms, sweet corn, cabbage, onion, spring onions (and any of your added veg) and the soy sauce. Simmer for 10 mins until the veg is soft, then add the noodles and simmer until they are are also soft.

Serve in bowls and sprinkle your basil or mint on top and enjoy!

Thanks again to Latoyah for her guest post! And thanks to my readers. :)

Happy Holidays!
- L

Monday, December 16, 2013

Music Mondays: Best Albums of 2013

2013 was definitely a special year in the music industry. We saw icons return from hiatuses, new artists cement their place on our playlists, and also discovered new ways to experience music. Putting all of this aside, however, I decided that for this post I would list  the six best albums that I listened to this year. I should note that these albums are not in countdown fashion, I'll leave that to the Rolling Stones and the Billboards of the world. This list was made to show the readers which artists pushed the boundaries of their talents and surpassed everyone in their genre.

Let's begin.

The Weeknd - Kiss Land

First we have Kissland from Canadian crooner The Weeknd. In his previous albums (which can be found on the compilation Trilogy) The Weeknd (real name Abel Tesfaye) discussed his many exploits with drugs and sex. While those albums were amazing, I felt that he hit a rut by the time he released the third album in the compilation. Thankfully, Kiss Land proved me wrong. This album steers away from the drug and sex themes of his previous albums and instead gives us a more "traditional" R&B album that focuses on love, life on the road, and love lost because of life on the road. Simply put, The Weeknd is this generation's Maxwell.

Justin Timberlake - The 20/20 Experience (Part 1)

The uproar over the fact that this album wasn't nominated for neither Record of the Year, Album of the Year, or Song Of The Year for the 2014 Grammys should prove how good this album is. Simply put, the organizers of the 2014 Grammy Awards failed...badly. However, I digress.

I have been waiting for this album since Justin released FutureSex/LoveSounds in 2006. For a bit of perspective, I was still in college when that album was released. After that album, Justin set his sights on Hollywood and we all feared that this talented performer would never release another album. Fast forward to this year and Justin releases a cryptic video where he all but says that he will release an album. Needless to say, the expectations were very high for this album...and he delivered.

The 20/20 Experience is an album that you can listen to from front to back without skipping any song and you won't want to. The way one song seamlessly flows into another is a work of art. What Justin and his go to producer Timbaland created is nothing short of a masterpiece and you can be sure that this will be considered one of their best work.

Miley Cyrus - Bangerz

Surprised to see this album here? Believe me, I am too. I'm a firm believer that good music should get recognized as such, no matter who the artist is. In this case, that artist is Miley Cyrus. I think that the problem that Miley has is that her antics on stage distract people from her music. Think about it, when was the last time you had a conversation about Miley Cyrus where you didn't speak about her, but her music? 

It's such a shame that Miley's antics take away from the music because the music is so damn good! As implied, Bangerz  has several party songs  but the album really shines when Miley steps away from the party and lets her voice show. Such songs are Adore You, Wrecking Ball, and Rooting for my Baby.

Phoenix - Bankrupt!

You can file this under Forgotten Albums. Phoenix released Bankrupt! in April but apparently, nobody noticed. This isn't new territory for the french band, however. In 2009, the band had a semi hit with their single 1901 but despite this, the band isn't really well known in the states. Hopefully my writing will bring them more attention because they deserve as much attention as they can get.

Bankrupt! is an essential feel good album. Often times nearing the edge of experimental, Phoenix made an infectious album that you can't help but bob your head to. Before you know it, you'll catch yourself singing one of the songs long after you finish listening to the album. 

No song proves this more than Trying To Be Cool.


Daft Punk - Random Access Memories

If anyone wants to learn how to announce an album, they take a lesson from Daft Punk. After being out of the music scene for about 8 years (we won't count the score that the duo did for the Tron: Legacy film), Daft Punk returned to the music scene in 2013. How did they announce their comeback? With a 15 second commercial spot during Saturday Night Live. The commercial was simple. The words Daft Punk appear on screen while a guitar riff played underneath it. You then saw the now iconic helmets before the commercial suddenly ended. The effect that this 15 second ad had on people is unbelievable. Blogs began speculating on the album and online users took this 15 seconds ad and turned it into a 3 minute "song". I'm sure that Daft Punk were pleased with the reaction.

After releasing several more ads, Daft Punk released Random Access Memories in May. However, this was a different Daft Punk. Instead of giving us the electronic sounds that we have grown to expect from them, the duo through a curve ball and gave us an album that was more funk driven than anything they have ever done. Upon listening to Random Access Memories, you get the feeling that the duo is rebelling against the robotic EDM sound that is so popular in music today (how's that for ironic). In fact, when asked to comment on the album, Giorgio Moroder (who contributed on the album) said "still dance, still electronic, but they gave that human touch back"

Beyoncé - Beyoncé

I know what you're thinking. How can an album that was released three days ago already be considered one of the best albums released this year? The short answer is that this album (self titled Beyoncé) is just that damn good.

You have to understand that I'm not a Beyoncé fan. Don't get me wrong, I respect her. I acknowledge everything she's done, either solo or with Destiny's Child (every incarnation). I know she's a phenomenal performer. Despite all of that, I just never really connected with her music. However, this  past week I felt compelled to buy this album and I don't regret the purchase.

This album is twofold. First and foremost, it is about love. Self love, emotional love, sexual love and motherly love are all aspects that Beyoncé addresses. When she sings about these things you can almost feel the emotion in her voice. Secondly, and surprisingly, this album is about having a visual experience. Beyoncé calls this a visual album and with 17 music videos, it's hard to disagree. I'll say this, Beyoncè made us care about music videos in an age where music videos are damn near irrelevant. That's saying something.

The stand outs in the album are Haunted, Jealous, Superpower, Rocket, and the surprisingly sexual Partition. Partition will definitely have people talking negatively about her and Beyoncé, seeing this coming, put in this excerpt from a speech by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in the song ***Flawless

We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much...We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are.

How's that for addressing the naysayers?


So there you have it, these were my favorite albums of 2013. These were the albums that I spent most of the time either listening to, reading about, or analyzing. Now I turn it over to you reader, what was your favorite album(s) of 2013?


Monday, December 9, 2013

Music Monday - Akil

Special shoutout to the homie Akil for this edition of Music Mondays with a mini feature! I've always loved this track right here and it's on my playlist:

Don't forget to check his new stuff too.

- L

Monday, December 2, 2013

Music Monday: Christmas Time

For this post, I felt like shaking things up a bit. Instead of my usual "Forgotten Albums" theme, I will make this post about some of my favorite Christmas songs. My reason for doing this is twofold. One, it's the middle of Thanksgiving Weekend and I haven't had time to revisit old albums. Two, with December fast approaching, it just feels appropriate. Let's begin.

First we have Last Christmas by Wham. Truth be told, I never cared for this song until my brother pointed out how great this song is. Originally released in 1984 on the album Music From The Edge of Heaven, this song tells the story of a man who encounters an old love after a year of not seeing her.

Second, John Lennon's Happy XMas (War Is Over). This song has a special place in my heart because John Lennon is my favorite artist of all time. This song simply embodies what John Lennon was all about. It calls for an end of war while at the same time offering the skeptical question, "What have you done this past year."

Finally, we have A New York City Christmas. Released in 2004 by Rob Thomas, this song was a single without an album. The song was released at the height of the Iraq invasion and not surprisingly, it calls for "A prayer for peace on Earth within our time".

So there you have it, these are three of my favorite Christmas songs. My actual list of Christmas favorites is pretty extensive but these are the ones that stand out. So reader, tell me, what's your favorite Christmas song?