the post-holiday edit

1. Peppermint bark brownies
Peppermint bark is one of my favorite holiday eats. The combination of peppermint and chocolate is a match made in sweet-tooth heaven. This year I decided to bring my peppermint bark game to the next level and made peppermint bark brownies! They're very easy to make and were a huge hit with my family (although they do look like one of those pinterest gone wrong recipes.)

You start out by making your favorite brownie recipe; whether it be from a box, the internet, or your family's extra top secret cookbook is your choice. I personally love this recipe from saveur: Nick's supernatural brownies. Chocolatey, chewy, and with shiny tops-- what more could you want from your brownies?

To add the magical holiday peppermint bark touch, I melted 1/2 a cup of melted milk chocolate chips, slathered it on top of the brownies, and let it sit in the fridge for 15 minutes. For the final layer, I melted 1/2 a cup of melted white chocolate chips, mixed in 7 crushed candy canes, and spread it out over the top of the brownie + chocolate concoction.

Personally I think they're best served warm, so that the top layers of chocolate easily melt in your mouth.

2. COS sale
I have been so good this fall/ winter season and have resisted buying any and all the sweaters. It was hard, I was tempted, but I found a tiny shred of self control and held out. If it wasn't a natural fiber, it wasn't going to be welcomed into my closet... and most of the sweaters I liked in my price range were made out of polyester, acrylic, and the likes.

Now that the after Christmas sales have begun, I'm ready to enter the sweater buying business. Finally the luxurious COS sweaters that I have been eyeing over the past few months have gone on sale! Their sweaters are comparable to those by theory or vince, but at a much more affordable price (specially with the sale.)

long tie-waist cardigan, long high-neck jumper, chunky waffle-knit jumper 

3. Star Wars
Because I don't want to spill any spoilers, I'll just say that I surprisingly really, really, really liked the film! And this is coming from someone who had no great expectations from the movie whatsoever and quite frankly was sick of being deluged with the non-stop advertising.

So if you haven't gotten around to watching it yet, go go go!

4.  Foreo Luna Mini
If you saw my sephora VIB haul post earlier this month, you might have noticed that the majority of the products I picked up were skincare items. I've been on sort of a skincare kick this season and the newest addition to my routine is the foreo luna mini.

I don't want to sing too many praises for it as I've been only using it for a week, but so far I am a big fan. It's much gentler than my clarisonic and is effective in reducing the appearance of the stubborn sebaceous filaments on my nose. After I've been using it for a bit longer I will definitely be posting a full blown review here on la blog!

It's currently on sale for $99 at ulta and barney's while it's $139 at sephora and nordstrom.

5. Kamikaze by MØ
This is the current black sheep in my playlist which primarily consists of Christmas music. If the name MØ doesn't ring any bells, you might recognize her as the singer in Major Lazer's "Lean On." The video for "Kamikaze" is filled with all sorts of hipster nonsense, but the song is ridiculously catchy.

the procrastinator's Christmas guide: 6 gifts for anyone still on your list

Cause it wouldn't be the holiday season without at least one gift guide, right?

1. If you've never heard of adult coloring books before, I promise they're not as dirty as they sound. In actuality they're just coloring books with particularly intricate details, hence the "adult" in their name. I bought Johanna Basford's Enchanted Forest this past fall, and now coloring has become the perfect relaxation activity for me. You can check out more of amazon's best-selling adult coloring books here. And of course you're going to need some utensils to color in your masterpieces. My weapons of choice are watercolor pencils.

If you don't have amazon prime, you can also pick up Enchanted Forest at urban outfitters, barnes & noble, target, and papyrus.

2. Even though this winter hasn't been the coldest, at least not on the east coast, cold weather accessories are still a must. Pictured are an acne scarf, a polo beanie, and convertible gloves from Barney's.

3. Activity trackers seem to be all the rage these days. I snagged a fitbit charge HR during Black Friday and am so happy with my purchase! There are so many different options on the market that you can find one at virtually every price point. You can check out this article from PC mag to see the best-selling options of the year.

4. Between blasting the heat indoors and the dry weather outdoors, many of us suffer from dry hands. L' occitane has some of the best lux hand creams and this set features 3 different scents. For a more affordable option, there's this burt's bees set which features 2 hand creams, 1 cuticle cream, and a pair of gloves. You can pick one up at amazon, walgreens, target, or

5. According to The Atlantic's best food book roundup of 2015, The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science is perfect for anyone, despite their culinary skill level. The author is an MIT graduate and teaches readers about the sciencey side of cooking. For that reason alone this book has joined my personal Christmas wish list. And if your giftee (the unofficial term for gift receiver) isn't interested in cookbooks, there's always cocktail books. The Dead Rabbit's Drink Manual is co-authored by the masterminds behind the famous Dead Rabbit grocery & grog in downtown Manhattan.

6. This is the gift for the person who likes to sing in the shower... which means this is the gift for anybody and everybody. I know I'm guilty of precariously perching my phone on the top of the shower, right next to my towel, praying it isn't collateral damage in my usual scramble to rub hair products out of my eyes. Solution: waterproof bluetooth speakers! Amazon has a variety of options all here. Here are some other options that you can buy in store from kohl's, target, and best buy.

the triumph of the body-con skirt

If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, you might have noticed that I seldom wear fitted clothes. Maybe a pair of skinny jeans here or a tight top tucked into a flowy skirt there, but overall nothing too restricting.

Basically this skirt came out of left field. The thick, stretchy material reminds me of the lux skirts from T by Alexander Wang or Vince. Except this bad boy is from forever 21. I had tried my hand on their cheap, jersey body con skirts in my early college days but quickly learned they were not so kind to any sort of lumps or bumps... and I've got a lot of those (hellooo permanent food baby.) This skirt on the other hand? Totally kind on us lumpy folks. Oh and putting on some spanx helps too.

sweater: zara, skirt: forever 21booties: zara (similar), lipstick: nars audrey, sunglasses: ray-ban (on sale!)

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Sephora VIB haul + first impressions

Since I did a post last month on what I wanted to buy during the VIB sale, I thought I follow up with a post on what I actually did buy. Even though I spent so much time carefully researching what products I wanted to buy before the sale's start, all those thoughts flew out the window the minute I walked into Sephora. It's a kid walking into a candy store kinda feeling and I get overwhelmed by all the makeup and skincare and haircare options!

On a side note, this whole flat-laying thing is a lot harder than it looks. It takes time to strategically place items in a totally blasé unorganized manner. This was my 4th attempt at photographing this haul!

Bumble & Bumble straight blow dry: Technically I don't have a real first impression on this since I have yet to use it. But I do like the smell of the product-- it's kind of cologne-y. Also, the tube packaging gets a thumbs up from me. It's sanitary and easy to use.

Fresh soy face cleanser: The bottle for this cleanser says "for all skin types" and for once, that's actually true. I'm #blessed with sensitive, combination skin so I occasionally get dry patches on my cheeks and excess oil on my t-zone. This cleanser flawlessly deals with both those issues. The main reason I bought this face wash is because it can be used to remove eye makeup as well! I've used it to remove waterproof mascara and it does so without irritating my eyes.

First Aid Beauty facial radiance pads: These were a must have straight from Caroline Hirons's blog. The pads contain lactic and glycolic acid, two AHAs that work as chemical exfoliants to slough off the top layer of your skin. Plus, lactic acid helps hydrate your skin! So far I really like these. I have a lot of under the skin bumps on my cheeks and after using these I've noticed an improvement in them.

May Coop Raw Sauce: If you're like me you may be thinking "why the f*ck would I want to put something called 'raw sauce' on my face?" Icky name aside, this stuff is the bomb dot com. This essence instantly sinks into my skin and makes me feel all... plump. There's no residual stickiness that sometimes comes from applying anything of a hydrating nature. Hands down this was my best purchase of the entire sale. I could go on and on about how much I love this miracle in a bottle but I'll save that for a future more in-depth review post.

Clinique moisture surge extended thirst relief: Clinique's skincare line is consistently good, in my experience. In the past I've tried used their dramatically different moisturizing gel and loved it for my oilier, summer skin. This is like the beefed up big sister to that gel. While I don't think it lives up to its 24 hour claim (although I haven't tested this), it's still a perfect overnight moisturizer for me. It's very lightweight and easily absorbs into my skin. It also layers nicely under my SPF in the mornings.

Hourglass veil mineral primer: Hourglass's primer is easily one of the most hyped...but I'm not sure why. I've only used this a few times but so far I'm not "omg so amazed" by it. It's not bad, but it's also not mind blowingly awesome. When I first apply it, it casts a very noticeable white cast on my tan skin thanks to the spf. With some blending it disappears but not to the point that I would feel comfortable wearing this alone with some concealer sans foundation.

Sunday Riley power couple duo: Right off the bat I'll mention that I haven't given good genes a run yet. In the meanwhile I have introduced the Luna sleeping oil into my nightly routine. It's my first retinol product and I'm pleasantly surprised to say that it hasn't dried out my skin. It's actually pretty moisturizing thanks to all the oils. On the other hand, I can't say I've noticed any immediate differences in the few days I've been using it. All I can say is that I do have high hopes (mostly because of its absurd price tag.)

Sephora instant moisturizer: I've talked about this multiple times here (such as here and here). To sum it up, it's relatively cheap, it's oil free, and it's moisturizing. This is my 6th bottle of the year which is pretty telling.

bareMinerals complete coverage serum concealer in tan: I've avoided bareMinerals like the plague after buying one of their starter kits a few years ago and hating every single product. Thankfully Sabrina of the beauty lookbook's review convinced me otherwise. Usually under eye concealers don't work for me-- they crease, don't completely cover my veins, and look generally awful. The couple of times I've given this a whirl, it's managed to do a pretty good job of solving all those issues. I'm continuing to try it out to see if it truly deserves a stamp of approval or not.

Aaaand that's all. I really loved a lot of these products (there were a few others not included which I did not love and thus returned), and I plan on doing more in depth reviews on some of them in future posts. I'm working on a winter skincare series which hopefully will include quite a few of these goodies!

P.s. don't forget about Sephora's current customer loyalty promo! All beauty insiders/ VIBs received $15/ $20/ or $25 off $50 purchase coupons expiring on the 14th!

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Valentino Pre-Fall 2015

Valentino has a propensity for producing the dreamiest collections. And they do it over a dozen times a year. I'm not one to go gaga over princess dresses and delicate floral prints but even I can't escape the alluring whimsy of their clothes. While the spring and fall ready to wear runway shows get the attention they deserve, the other lines often fly under the radar (at least to us non fashion industry people.) Hands down one of my favorite collections of the year by any designer is Valentino's pre-fall collection.

The collection features a staggering 97 looks but the ones that caught my eye are of the dark floral or galaxy print variety. I mean, it doesn't get any dreamier than pictures of stars, does it?

All photos from miss moss. To see the entire collection, head on over to vogue.

On a housekeeping-type note, I've added a new section to my blog called "Shop the Sales" which you'll find housed in my navigation bar.

Every time I hear about a new sale that I know I want to shop, I have the urge to post about it because I'm sure there are others who want to shop it too! But if I caved every time I would end publishing short posts about 50 times a day cause it's the holiday season and it's sale-a-palooza all over the interwebs.

Instead I decided to dedicate a corner of my blog to feature all these sales and so "shop the sales" was born. The sales that are expiring soonest will be featured on the top of the page. I've also included links to some of the products I would want to buy/ have bought, as well as my number one top pick from that sale. I hope I can keep this going!

I would have to say the best sales I've featured there today are from loft, bare minerals, sigma, and tarte! Check them out here :D

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winter wear for grumpy days

I was really on a blogging roll there...and then Thanksgiving hit. The better part of last week was spent shopping, organizing, preparing, and cooking all in anticipation of the big holiday. Then this week came and I felt (and looked) like death warmed over thanks to a lovely cold coupled with a visit form my dearest Aunt Flo.

In my grumpiness, I really don't have any interest in doing anything or going anywhere. But when I do leave the comfort of my bed, I make sure to maximize comfiness. While on break from binge watching Jessica Jones on Netflix (Which I recommend watching! It's Marvel superhero goodness featuring badass female characters all in a film noir style.) I came up with this outfit of optimal winter coziness.

The oversized sweater is from COS and I am in love with it. I have bought a grand total of 0 sweaters this fall/ winter because I want to invest in 2 or 3 good quality ones. Such as this beauty from COS.

The shoes are some new (I think?) boots from UGG. I don't think I have seriously liked a pair of UGG boots since middle school when I bought my one and only pair. Buuut these Ugg "Cypress" boots are appealing in an "ugly cool" kind of way. Plus they're waterproof and fur lined and warm and cozy and totally belong on my Christmas wish list. While the price is steep, the one thing I can say for sure is that UGGs last. I bought my pair about 9 years ago and they're still going strong.

All in all this look essentially screams "I'm basic" and "I spend my days drinking Starbucks's peppermint mocha lattes." And that's fine by me because peppermint mocha lattes are delicious.

beanie + scarf + leather gloves: urban outfitters-- on sale for 30% off, sweater + leggings: cos, boots: ugg via nordstrom

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