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Night-time Face Regimen

I have always been blessed with fairly cooperative skin . I have also been blessed with an aesthetician sisterūüôā But now that I’m in my 30s (how did THAT happen?!), I realize it’s crucial to be on top of my game. While I do mix up my products depending on season, and to allow for any new additions, I have found a clutch night-time regimen that has gotten me through this winter that I’d like to share with you now! In order of application…

‚ÄčPeter Thomas Roth ‚Äč‚Äč‚ÄčAnti-Aging Cleansing Gel¬†¬†— ¬†I bought this after reading maaany reviews on anti-aging cleansers. I have been using it for about a year now so clearly my researched paid off!¬†It’s a gentle formula safe for everyday use for all but the most sensitive of skin. I don’t find it to be drying or leave a film either, which are the two deal breakers for me. The bottle is a little pricey for a cleanser, but it’s a big one and you only need a little bit, so it lasts ages.

Thayers Alcohol-free ‚ÄčRose Petal ‚ÄčWitch Hazel with Aloe Vera¬†— I forget how I first heard of this product, but I’m a fan. I was never big on using toners, but my pores are noticeably smaller since using it. It’s alcohol free and has aloe added, so there’s no drying out with this product either unlike many toners. The faint rose smell is the icing on the cake! It also comes in other scents if rose isn’t your thing.

‚ÄčApoterra ‚ÄčNight Regenerative Balm with Prickly Pear + Vitamin C¬†(c/o) — “This balm combines luxurious plant oils and extracts with vitamin C to fight free radicals, boost collagen production, and to provide deep hydration. Apply at night and wake up with a rejuvenated and clarified complexion.” So.much.yes. Beautifully packaged and marked by batch number, you open up this beauty to a slightly earthy scent that lets you know it’s made with real deal ingredients. In fact, Apoterra means “derived from the earth”. A little balm goes a long way and it absorbs very well into my skin. I credit using it nightly with avoiding the dreaded dry/red nose and upper lip when I ¬†was sick. Bonus: it’s a woman owned company with sustainable practices crafting their products right in NYC. No turning back!

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Intensive Lip Balm¬†(c/o) — I love my¬†lip products, so my lips need TLC. Like most people, I use lip balm on the regular, but I’d never used one of this caliber. My lips drink it in and even look fuller after applying. As a result, I’ve had less flakiness. Bonus:¬†the woman owned Newton, MA (!) based company makes allergy tested products that are free of parabens.

Ahava Dermud Intensive Hand Cream¬†— I actually use this one all.day.long this time of year. I know, I know, a $28 hand cream, get outta here. But you only need a little and it soaks into my poor dry winter hands immediately. Even after washing my hands, all of it doesn’t wash off. I’ve tried cheaper alternatives, but they didn’t cut it. You won’t be sorry if you splurge!

What are your go-to products? Do you change them based on season and/or whim?

**Full Disclosure: I received products marked “c/o” free of charge, but all opinions are my own. Anything you’ll ever see represented on A Sequined Life is something I have used and genuinely recommend without reservation. Your trust is something I value!**

Chicken, Veggie & Quinoa Bake

We all have go-to recipes. Not only does it make dinner easier, but it also allows you to modify and make it your own over time. One of my favorite recipes evolved out of a (what else?) Pinterest recipe for a pasta bake. The original recipe is delicious, but leaned too heavily on pasta for my liking. First, I cut back on the pasta and upped the veggies. Then I finally perfected (in my humble opinion :)) when I eliminated the pasta all together for quinoa. Basically every ingredient can be used ‘to taste’ so this is a loose recipe. I wanted to share with you and highly encourage you to make it your own and report back. After all, there’s always room for improvement!

Ingredients:
  • Cooked chicken (I prefer shredded)
  • Cooked quinoa¬†(or pasta), drained
  • Chive cream cheese, one package (room temp)
  • Canned tomatoes (I use one that includes chiles too since I love a kick!), one can
  • Spinach
  • Zucchini¬†and/or summer squash, cut up
  • Peppers (any color), cut up
  • Minced garlic, red pepper flakes, whatever herbs and spices you desire!
  • ‚ÄčShredded cheese‚Äč

Preheat oven to 250. In a bowl, combine all ingredients except shredded cheese. Mix well. Ideally the quinoa/pasta is still warm enough to finish softening the cream cheese. Pour mixture into a pan, generously sprinkle with cheese and cover with tinfoil. Bake for a half hour. If needed, remove tinfoil and bake another 15 min to cook off some of the liquid and/or finish melting the cheese. Will depend on your oven and preference. I serve hot with ground pepper. Makes fabulous leftovers as wellūüôā

Let me know if you try it out! I’m sparing you a picture on this post, as I’m not adept at food pics… yet.
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DIY Cold Brew Coffee

I love coffee and, like any hardy New Englander, I drink it iced year round. While I know I’ll never stopping buying coffee out entirely, there’s certainly room to cut back. With that in mind, I have been saying I wanted to try making my own cold brew. So when I saw that Atlas Coffee Club was looking to work with Boston Bloggers, I knew it was sign to put my money where my mouth is…finally.

Atlas Coffee Club “sources premium single origin coffee from farms around the world and pays well above market prices for the beans, helping to ensure ethically sustainable farming practices and the highest quality coffee year after year”.¬†¬†I am making a conscious effort to be more aware of what I consume, where it comes from, how it’s made and supporting businesses that are operating above board so I was happy to have the opportunity to work with them. It also fits into one of my favorite categories of things– ¬†a monthly subscription service (individual bags are for sale too).

Based on my preferences, I went with Ethiopia, which arrived already ground. However, if you prefer to grind your own, whole beans are available as well. Either way, your coffee is roasted the same week you receive it, with the roasted date right on the package. It was cool that it came with a card explaining more about where my coffee came from, something I rarely thought about in the past, sadly.

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I loosely followed this recipe to make my cold brew, since a friend had used it and told me it was easy. And it was! You’ll need:

Pour your bag of ground coffee in first, top with cold water and put it in the fridge for a minimum of 8 hours. You can adjust the coffee/water ratio to your personal preference. I used less water than the recipe calls for because I wanted it to be stronger. I figured I could always add water to it afterwards, like you would a concentrate, if necessary.

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I let my cold brew steep for just shy of 24 hours, then I covered my fine mesh strainer with a piece of cheesecloth (remember– you want to keep those grounds out hence using both) and hoped for the best. It went well! None of the grounds got through and I had plenty of strong, cold brew to keep in the fridge. Keep in mind that this undertaking is going to be slightly messy, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I was fearing.

Now you’re ready to enjoy! Cover and refrigerate the remainder.

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I had mine with just cream, my go-to¬†king cubes¬†and an umbrella straw (because life is short). It was delicious! ¬†The strength, freshness and quality all showed. I’d be interested to try this same technique with a different blend next time. To compare, but also to see if I can find my perfect coffee to water ratio.

Do you make coffee at home, buy it out, or both? Have you ever tried making cold brew before?

Disclosure: Atlas Coffee Club provided me with a complimentary bag of coffee of my choosing for my review. Using it to make a cold brew and all other opinions expressed are my own. 

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Galentine’s Day Guide

Although I have my funny valentine (A), I also have many galentines. The women who bring as much love and support as a partner and whom I cherish dearly.


“They” say to write about what you know. With that in mind, my Valentine’s Day guide¬†is comprised of ideas for the ladies. Fittingly, these companies are all owned/partially owned by women.
 
Everything listed¬†I have used myself (and in some cases, bought as gifts) guilt-free, as the companies below all find ways to give back and are based out of the US. So for all your galentines (and/or yourself– you’re worth it!),¬†here are my suggestions:
 
K-Deer leggings— Kristine Deer is a friend of a friend, and although we’ve never met, I’m a huge fan of her and her NJ-based¬†company. Her leggings are out of this world comfortable, do not budge one bit– for real–¬†and come in the most amazingly fun patterns. Her signature stripe patterns, which recently were copied by Athleta (who has since removed them¬†from their site and stores), are named after women she¬†admires to give back and bring awareness to specific charities tied to said women. As if that wasn’t reason enough to support this small business, the class and grace with which the company weathered¬†the situation¬†was inspiring. I am not sure I would have kept my head cool in that situation, but K.Deer did. Join her mailing list or follow along on social media to find out about promotions and new pattern releases. I promise you will not regret buying a pair of these!
 
Colour Pop lippies— Thanks to Courtney Kerr, I was made aware of this extremely affordable¬†LA-based company last summer. I cannot get enough of their lippies and recently bought a blush as well. I used to be a Nars lip pencil devotee, but now I get can the same pigmentation and long lasting wear for a fraction of the price… which just means I buy moreūüôā For real though, you won’t believe the quality you’re getting for the price point. You’re also supporting a US company¬†who doesn’t test on animals¬†so it’s a win-win. Plus, proceeds from their Puppy Love shadow ¬†go towards rescuing animals. Join their mailing list for $5 off your first order and enjoy free shipping on orders $30+.
 
May Designs planners— I don’t remember how I was first made aware of May Designs, but¬†I am on my 4th eco-friendly planner so it’s safe to say it’s been awhile. I prefer to keep¬†it old school and write down my plans. Completely¬†customizable, small yet durable enough to survive my purse, these cheery books come with all sorts of¬†options for inside as well– calendar, meal planner, wedding planner, baby diary etc. I now have several friends and my mum hooked on these. Follow them on social media or join their mailing list (20% off your first order) for fairly regular promotions. There’s even one going on now through 2/1!¬†
 
True Moringa lavender facial oil— I was given the opportunity to test out a sample (size pictured– full size is 1oz)¬†of¬†True Moringa’s products and I picked the lavender facial oil. I’m a fan! I love using¬†oil in the winter and I’m a sucker for anything lavender so it seemed like a no-brainer. If you’re scared, don’t be. As long as¬†you’re using pure oils, it will not make you break out and can actually prevent your skin from becoming too oily.¬†The Boston-based company is ethical and sustainable, working directly¬†with 700 farmers in Ghana to better their lives, so you can feel confident that the top quality (paraben free, sulfate free, vegan) product you’re receiving is also doing a lot of good for a lot of people. Their affordable product line also includes hair care and body care. Give them a follow!
 
What’s on your Galentine’s Day list? Let me know about other companies I should check out!
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FLy Away to St. Pete

In mid-December, A and I took a long weekend jaunt down to Florida with my family in Massachusetts to see my sister and her family. Not only was it nice to get out of dodge for a few days, it was great to be able to attend their 10th annual Christmas party at their beautiful home. While they live outside of Tampa, A and I stayed in St. Petersburg for a night when we first arrived. I had only been through there briefly and he had never been, so it was fun to scope out a new scene together.
 
For a song, we stayed at the Ponce de Leon, a boutique hotel that was no frills, but very cute and clean with a comfortable bed and a central location. The first night, we ate (outside! bliss!) at Ceviche where we split a bunch of delicious tapas and a pitcher of cava sangria. Despite A having had sangria with me before, he never realized it also had booze added to the wine, so he was surprised when it hit him (which I found hilarious). After dinner, we walked down to the waterfront and all along Beach Drive, a ritzy street filled with a lot of restaurants, bars, shopping and pricy high-rises all decked out for the holidays. Unfortunately, we all know the struggle of capturing lights with a camera, so none of my shots quite did it justice. We ended the night at Try Wine, a wine shop that also offers the ability to pull your own pours from 88 different bottles! You put a credit card on file, they give you what looks like a hotel room key and you choose between three sizes of pours (pricing varies depending on the bottle and the sample size). We had a blast and once we found the wine we liked best, each got a full sized glass and sat down to enjoy it. We were still full from dinner, but they also offered cheese and charcuterie boards plus some other bites if you were so inclined.

 

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The next morning before leaving the hotel, we got brunch at The Mill which opened in 2015 and was named best new restaurant– in the state! Let me tell ya– it was a well deserved distinction! We shared apple fritters with a cinnamon Greek yogurt dipping sauce to start. They were a taste of heaven, but we had to take most of them to go so we could eat our meals. I ordered steak and eggs au poivre. Oh. Wow. Everything from the steak to the zucchini fritters was top notch… and believe me, I finished it all. From brunch, we walked a bit to grab a coffee¬†at Brew D Licious, a spot that also brought us for a stroll down Central Ave, which had a wonderful artsy vibe. I really make a point¬†not¬†to¬†visit chains on vacation (unless they’re unique to the area) and I’m so glad I got to try their smooth (yet strong!) iced coffee.

 

 
We made one last pit stop on our drive back to St. Pete Beach, which was so lovely. The white sand! The clear blue water! We just soaked up some sun and put our feet in the water watching boats go by and fisherman use nets off a pier. A is an avid boater and fisherman himself, so I think his only regret was watching vs doingūüôā

 

 
I’m very glad we took¬†a little¬†time out of a¬†wonderful¬†family weekend to make some memories and see a new city as a couple. I certainly hope to go back!

Boston Burger Company

**Boston Burger Company¬†was¬†sweet enough to host me last week. I am a huge Davis Square goer and had been meaning to¬†stop in¬†for a long time, but hadn’t had the chance. While¬†our food¬†was comped, all opinions expressed are my own. Thank you so much for having me in, guys! **
 
As the size of my thighs will attest, I LOVE food. I’m thinking about my next meal while eating my current meal. I am unapologetic about both of these things¬†:)¬†While I don’t generally eat a ton of red meat, when I want a burger, I WANT A BURGER. With cheese. And toppings. And fries. And I want it served with a delicious beverage. Well, all of my burger wishes were granted during this Tuesday night dinner. I’m an adventurous eater and since I was given this lovely opportunity to check out Boston Burger Co, I decided I would try something I¬†wouldn’t find anywhere else¬†which was the Vermonster [“sauteed granny smith apples and red onion, bacon, maple mayo, cheddar”]. Oh, wow, was I glad I did! The combo of flavors was unique, but played off each other very well. I guess it should be a no-brainer, since many of the flavors are found in breakfast offerings, but if you’re still hesitant to try them via a burger, don’t be. My dinner companion (my BFF) had the Buffalo Burger [“buffalo sauce, crumbled blue cheese, diced celery, boney’s special sauce”] which was out of this world as well. I am a¬†buffalo and blue cheese snob¬†and they clearly took both seriously. If neither of these sound up your alley, there is tons to choose from on their large menu which includes more than just burgers and fries.¬†We already discussed bringing the guys back with us¬†since we know they’ll be fans too. Next time, I’m going for The Sophie [“prosciutto, goat cheese, candied walnuts, fig jam, arugula tossed with lemon vinaigrette and drizzled with a balsamic reduction”]. Or maybe The King [“peanut butter, bacon, fried bananas dusted in cinnamon and sugar]. Or…

 

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Alongside our tasty main courses, we tried the garlic parmesan fries.¬†The word “fries” is¬†really an understatement though, as they were generously cut¬†wedges of potato¬†working the perfect crispy on the outside-melt in your mouth on the inside balance.

 

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To wet our whistle, we ordered cranberry margaritas. YUM! Definitely recommend. If you’re¬†more of a¬†burger and beer type, they got you covered on that front too.
Sorry the picture quality on this post isn’t the best! I was having a hard time with my camera and the lighting . Don’t let that deter you in the least though, this place is delicious and fabulous!

 

 

I visited the¬†location¬†at 37 Davis Square in Somerville¬†(there are¬†two other locations in Cambridge and Boston). Among other accolades, Boston Burger Co¬†has been featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives”, “The Phantom Gourmet”, and won Rachael Ray’s Battle of the Best Burger.

Sweet 16

Happy 2016!
 
While I (clearly) still dabbled in social media, it was nice to take some time over the holidays to not be so thoroughly invested in it. I had a blast with family and friends, ate and drank more than I should and essentially lived in my jam jams. During December, my roommate and I also hosted 3 gatherings at our house, so it was the usual December mixture of simultaneously running around and vegging.
 
But now it’s January, the weather has been pretty good to us, the days are getting longer again¬†and I’m ready to get back to the (posting) grind.
 
While I don’t do huge sweeping resolutions, it is a nice time to take stock of your life, make sure things are in order, and try to better yourself in however small of a way. Although personally, despite¬†the years removed from¬†being a student,¬†September and the “back to school” feeling tends¬†to motivate me even more than New Years. Does anyone else feel the same way?
 
I’m looking forward to a fun and blessed year ahead. For the first time since 2005(!), I have no weddings on the docket. While I LOVE being in and attending weddings to support my friends (and dance), it will be a welcome change of pace to have more time off and funds freed up to do some traveling. Two friends are in Honolulu and after 9(!) years, I am trying to get back out there this year. We’re also booking our girls’ beach weekend again for June and I’d like to make it to see a few other friends and family scattered across the¬†country as well. I’m also majorly overdue for a Eurotrip. With all of that in mind, I am going to try and continue last year’s resolution to spend more money on activities and experiences and less money on material things. I’m a sucker for a good shopping trip, so it’s not always easy, but I do think it’s worth trying.
 
What say you?