My Hair Essentials

Clockwise from left: Boar bristle brush / John Frieda Sheer Blonde Shampoo / Tresemme Heat Tamer Spray / Suave Professionals Dry Shampoo / Lucky Girl Hair Ties / Garnier Fructis Leave-in Conditioner / Garnier Fructis Sleek and Shine Oil Treatment
I thought I would share my hair and beauty essentials with you all (with the beauty essentials post coming later). We all have a routine and beauty regimen but sharing our go-to products is always fun, especially if you are in the market for a new product.

1. First, let's start with the basics. A boar bristle brush is crucial to maintain healthy hair and is much kinder on your strands than those plastic bristles which rip and tear at the hair. I bought one at Ulta years ago and I love it, the only trick I haven't figured out yet is how to properly clean it (I did once and it smelled God awful)

2. I get my hair highlighted and I spend a lot of money doing it. If you are like me and have color treated hair, then investing in shampoo and conditioner (like this John Frieda Sheer Blonde) is best to maintain those highlights in between salon visits. I have tried many different brands that varied in prices from $5-$30, but this is a decent middle ground one that gave me good results. 

3.  My hairstylist gave me the suggestion of getting a thermal heat spray to use before I blow dryed or straightened my hair. Since I use heat tools a lot and they can be damaging to your hair, a quick spray of this Tresemme Heat Tamer Spray will ease your hair into the high heat of these tools. I use it every time and have seen a difference in the quality of my hair!

4. My favorite hair product has got to be dry shampoo. I have tried a handful of different brands and I bought this Suave Professionals Dry Shampoo only because my regular brand was out at Target! I took a risk and I am so glad! At less than $3, it is even better than Psssst, Tressemme or Bumble&Bumble.  It has a nice citrus smell as well, and I can go probably an extra day without washing compared to other brands; it's that good.

5. These ribbon-like hair ties are the new "it" hair accessory. I got some around Christmas time and they are slowly replacing my traditional ties. They come in fun colors and designs, look cute on your wrist and are gentle on your hair (no creases or breakage). You can find them at Ulta, Target or Etsy. 

6. I have read time and time again that leave-in conditioner is the most important thing to do for your hair on a regular basis. I got lazy for a while and wasn't applying it before blowdrying, but now I am making sure to do it every time! I have very thick hair and the day after a leave-in treatment, it feels soft, healthy and re-born!

7. So I have joined the Moroccan Oil train just like everyone else. For a while it seemed there was just the $40 treatment available, so like a good business student, I waited until more brands created their own versions and I bought it on the cheap. This Garnier Fructis version is around $6 at Ulta. I have no complaints so far, but for full satisfaction, the "sleek and shine" comes through the next day, after my hair has fully dried and the oil is absorbed.

What are your ultimate hair essentials? Any products I should try? Look out next week for my ultimate beauty essentials!

Quick Shrimp Gumbo

Mmmmm. This gumbo has become a staple in our house. I discovered it in a great cookbook and we make it multiple times during the cold months. The most time consuming part of this recipe is all the chopping of the vegetables, but you can easily do that the night before to save precious time. Other than chopping, this recipe is easy as pie. For the sausage I like browning it so there's a little crisp around the edges. We also recommend fresh uncooked shrimp as opposed to cooked frozen shrimp. They work fine in the recipe, but the flavor is so much better with the uncooked shrimp. We noticed the gumbo has a consistency of a chunky soup (as it should), but if refrigerated and eaten the next day, the liquid is absorbed and it becomes almost a jambalaya. Still delicious, and paired with french bread and a lemon slice, it's the perfect winter meal. 

Quick Shrimp Gumbo:

1 cup finely chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp canola oil
1/2 lb cooked kielbasa or Polish sausage, cut into 1/4 in slices
1 1/2 cups chopped green pepper   
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp hot pepper sauce (ie: Tabasco)  
3/4 lb uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined 
1/2 cup uncooked instant rice (ie: Minute Rice)
Lemon slices to garnish 

In a large saucepan, saute onion and garlic in oil for 2 minutes or until crisp-tender. Stir in sausage; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until sausage begins to brown. Add green pepper; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until crisp-tender. Stir in the tomatoes, broth, seasonings and hot pepper sauce. Bring to a boil. 

Cook, uncovered, for 2 minutes or until heated through. Stir in shrimp. Cook 3-4 minutes longer or until shrimp turn pink. Stir in rice. Remove from heat. 

Cover and let stand for 5 minutes or until rice is tender. Discard bay leaf. Serve with lemon slices if desired. Yield: 4 servings.  


Fab Find of the Week: Riding Boots

One of my brothers got me a Forever 21 gift card for Christmas (how did he know?) and I browsed the website recently and came across these amazing black buckled riding boots. 
I love my boots in fall/winter and since Forever 21 was having a sale, I took a risk. (Forever 21's policy on sale items makes them FINAL sale, so unless you are in the store, it's a risk to purchase!) I was glad I made the risk because I love these boots! They look super nice, and I love all the buckle details. I sprayed the faux leather with some rain protectant and wore them the next chance I got. The only complaint I have about them is the tight fit. If you have large calves these will not work for you, which means the only thing I can wear them with are leggings or tight skinny jeans. For the amazing deal I got, they are so worth it! 

The 50% sale online at Forever 21 is going on until 1/21. 

Golden Globes Fashion

I know I am a few days behind in posting this, and by now you are probably on Golden Globe fashion overload. But I am committed to posting all the fashion from all the big shows, so sorry about yet another post about the Golden Globes. And unlike the People's Choice where everyone was a bit dull, so many stars looked great on Sunday! I really had to edit my choices down. Here are a sample of my best, worst, and a little something extra. :)

 These ladies looked stunning, and for all different reasons. I would tweak a few things on each, but I have serious dress envy for all six of these gals! Thumbs up! 
 Blush tones took over the red carpet this year, and that's why it made my honorable mentions list. All 4 of these ladies looked elegant and tasteful, but since they clearly weren't originals, I couldn't put them in the top category. 
 This is my least favorite part. These six picked some God-awful dresses for one of the most glamorous nights, and I can't forgive them for it!
Ben and Jen win couple of the night. Jennifer looked STUNNING (no one else had a dress like that) and Ben had a great night winning for best director and best picture. His acceptance speeches were so sweet too. Love them!

People's Choice Awards Red Carpet

Yay! Awards Season is officially in full force. Last night was the People's Choice Awards, the grown up version of the MTV Awards (in my mind). The Red Carpet was a bore to tell you the truth, and I wanted to put virtually everyone in the "worst" category, but I managed to narrow it down. It was hard work. 

The Best:
Of course I'm going to start off the list with my favorite girl, Emma Watson. She's been into this geometric phase lately, she wore a similar bold print at the MTV Movie Awards last year. I put Emma on the list mainly because she stood out. Everyone else was in solid prints, and Emma made a statement in her futuristic frock. 
Let's get this straight right now. I don't care for Lea Michelle in the slightest. Which is why putting her in my "best" category makes me squirm, but I just have to! This Elie Saab dress is amaze! Elie Saab is the epitome of elegance, and this girly pink color is so cute. I even like her matchy-matchy shoes. I would just change the hairstyle. Maybe a messy bun, a sleek pony, or a fish tail braid? 
Casey Wilson from SNL on the "best dressed" list? Yep. I love this bright blue with her hair color and skin tone, and the details along the bust and waist. It's not just a plain blue dress, and I bet in person it looks more expensive than in photographs. I like how simple it is but very pretty.
 Honorable Mentions:
I hate doing this. I really do. Jennifer Lawrence is reaching Emma Watson status in my world. I love her. I also want to be her best friend. I think she's fab. On the other hand, this dress just isn't up to par, yet. I like her shoes, the cute slit, the black sparkle, a long sleeve on a shorter dress, but the gold/sheer/v-neck top is a mess. If this was edited down a bit it could have been great. Fingers crossed for the Golden Globes. 
I can't help it, I love my color! Chloe Grace Moretz works the neon trend in a fun yellow lace dress. For her age I think the choice is spot on. However, I think she missed the mark on hairstyle and shoe choice. Because of the high neck on the dress, I would have preferred to see her hair out of her face. As for the shoes, black makes the look to "bumble-bee", and I don't particularly like the style of the shoe either. 

The Worst:
Yikes. Satin. I hate satin. This looks like a wedding dress that shrunk in the dryer. An ugly wedding dress none the less. Her pose is awkward too. I don't really have anything else to say. Yuck.
If you held your hand over the bust of this dress, then over the waist/bottom you would see the issue I have with this dress. There are two different dresses here! And they do not belong together. I imagine the top dress as a huge Oscars like dress with a long train and the bottom as a tight fitting sexy number. Not to mention that turquoise clutch isn't helping the situation. But I'm just splitting hairs here. 

Let's hope that Sunday's Golden Globes is a more daunting task, I'd rather have more "best dressed" to sort through! I'm so excited for the show, and even more so than Tina and Amy are hosting! Look for my picks later next week. 

It's Back: The Bachelor

Everyone's favorite reality show is back, not The Biggest Loser. No. The Bachelor. Because watching 25 crazy women in one house compete over one guy as they go on over-the-top dates in order to win his heart, and most importantly, the rose is way more rewarding. Whew. 

If you watched the last Bachelorette, then you know Emily dumped our now Bachelor Sean Lowe in the final 3. I think it's safe to say it was the biggest mistake of her life! (Her loss, our gain, right?) ABC took what seems like FOREVER to announce who would be the new Bachelor, but let's just say America is happy with their choice. Roberto who? 

Let's get to the exciting stuff, the crazy  beautifully poised girls who were chosen to compete for Sean's heart  rose. Obviously I don't remember all of these girls names, in fact I remember them by their level of craziness and their choice in evening wear. Let's just say there was a lot of questionable outfit choices and too much free booze provided. 

I remember when ABC released pictures of the girls, I thought Diana was my favorite just purely based off the snipet I got from her promo shot and info. Turns out she's one of the oldest contestants (if not oldest) and with 2 kids! There is also an Ashley-Greene look-alike, a stunning blonde with one arm, an OCD "professional organizer", an annoying model, and a former Bachelor girl. For a more in depth analysis on the episode and mini profiles on the girls, check out fellow blogger Jen Frase's recap here .

I always look forward to Monday nights. According to the season preview, there is a lot of tears, kissing and one girl who is a plague among the group (think Courtney and Vienna). I won't do a recap each week, only on the important episodes. :) Happy watching!

3 Events for 2013

Usually around this time of the year we start our resolutions we made the month before. But instead of listing some resolutions I may not be too keen about, I want to explore some of the events in 2013 I am looking forward to. It's about looking on the bright side, right? 
1.  Going to Europe. I have been planning a trip to visit my friend Laura in England for quite some time (how about 2 years?!) and come May 2013 I hope to cross the pond and travel through England, France and wherever else we land. I hope our plans work out and the plan follows through. I have been saving my pennies and after the rough end of the year I've had, this would be an amazing gift. 
 2. Getting, and loving a new job. I have been searching for a new job for about 2 months now,  and enough applications sent in that I had to make a spreadsheet! Even though I'm not sure where the future will take Alex and I later in our careers, in the mean time, I want to have a job that I love coming to every day. Is that too hard to ask? I spent 6 months last year hoping mine would get better or the people would change, and it never did. Since we spend more time at work than any other place (so it seems) we better like going there! I refuse to end up in a bad situation again. :) 
3. Turning 25 I can't believe I will be 25 this year! I hate to compare myself to other people my age (I know it's not healthy) but I feel like I am behind in the game! So many people have traveled the world, started amazing jobs, moved to new cities and sometimes I feel like I am stuck. I know that's not the case and things will be worth it when the time comes. I am so excited for the future and I can't wait for what it brings for careers, traveling, family and relocating! 

What big events do you have going on this year?