April 2017 - Sensible Stylista

My $10 Bustier Dress + The Cutest Macarons at Ketsourine

I don't usually like sifting through the clearance racks at F21, but every once in a while, I muster up the patience to fight through and stumble upon a gem.  This $30 dress was on sale for $10 so I scooped it up immediately.  I love bustier-anything so this was a no-brainer in my book!  It's obviously super easy to dress up, but I wanted to wear it casually so I paired it with my fave plaid top and sky-high platform wedges.  A huge thanks to the wonderful Steeze Media for capturing these images! 
Here's a shot of my dress sans top!  Everything here (other than my dress obviously) has been featured on SS before.  I'm the sensible stylista, so I'm all about mixing and matching.  Not all of us have the $$$$ to purchase new stuffs every day so it's important to know how to style various looks with pieces you already own.  In fact, I refuse to buy something if I can't think of at least 3-4 ways to wear it because it'll end up chilling in my closet and gathering dust.  Do you guys have any shopping rules or restrictions?  If yes, what are they?
Shop today's OOTD:
All smiles because life is beautiful, and I'm a giant nerd!  As I'm sure you all know from instastories, I spent a week in frisco with the bf.  He was such a trooper, driving me to all my meetings and helping me take photos of everything.  I'm a lucky girl for sure!  Long distance has been a challenge, but things are SO good.  We had a tough time in the beginning, but we powered through and everything's pretty much perfect now.  When things are right, you just know, and distance seriously means nothing when feelings are strong like this.
ANYWHO, I'm getting off topic - let's tackle noms!  I've wanted to check out Ketsourine Macarons for months now, and I FINALLY got to visit.  I was supposed to come last time, but I was here with Stitch Fix and my schedule was cray so I didn't get to - I'm SO glad things worked out this time around because their store is just as dreamy in real life as it is on instagram.  I remember seeing pictures and thinking, "hm, it can't really be that fab"...BUT IT IS! Everything's on point for reals - the decor's classy + elegant, and the macarons are to die for delish.
A huge thanks to KM for being so kind and welcoming.  There are two cookie sizes available: classic & grande. Classic costs $2.25 and grande's $3.25 a pop.  Classic flavors include pistachio, lemon, raspberry, espresso, strawberry, chocolate, and caramel.  Their signatures are as follows: pecan maple praline, thai tea latte, guava rose, early grey, and more!  
In addition to yum macarons, they sell a ton of nomtastic drinks like teas, coffee, and boba!  Here's a shot of the caramel boba my bf and I tried - we got it with whipped cream and sprinkles for funsies. For those of you interested, they also carry macaron ice creams ($5) so make sure you guys give 'em a try!  I wanted to sample their pistachio flavor, but I was already stuffed from inhaling cookies so I decided to pass.  Oh well, I guess that means I'll just have to come back next time...as if I needed a reason to, ha.
My FAVE yums from my visit though? Their adorable character macaroons.  Omg, I can't even handle how cute they were.  They had a BUNCH of different ones including Pusheen, Pikachu and Jigglypuff.  I seriously spent a good 5 minutes fawning over them through the glass, ha.  
See how excited I am? I couldn't even bring myself to eat them, ha.  I held onto my Pikachu for a good half hour before devouring him - hashtag sorry not sorry buddy!  If you live in the bay area or are visiting, you HAVE to go and try their noms.  Everything tastes just as good as it looks!
Anywho, that's it for today guys!  I hope you enjoyed my latest post.  I'm thinking about starting a new series on here or perhaps on youtube (???) chronicling my weekly adventures!  I compiled and shared a "101 in 1001 days" a while back, but I was really bad about it.  I wrote my bucket list out, but that was the extent of it all, ha.  So, I thought I'd hold myself accountable by possibly vlogging? What do you guys think - is that something you'd be interested in? Let me know by commenting below.
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Applying Mascara Perfectly: Tips and Tricks

I was asked to participate in the #WalgreensMascaraDay campaign, sponsored by Revlon® at Walgreens.  Although I've been compensated, all opinions are my own.  

In honor of Revlon® Mascara Day on April 30, I've partnered up with Walgreens for my latest post. For today's blast, I'll be sharing my tips and tricks on how to apply mascara like a boss.  I'm currently obsessed with Revlon® everything so I'll be centering today's article around 5 of their mascaras: Revlon Dramatic Definition™ Mascara, Revlon Ultimate All-In-One™ Mascara, Revlon Volume + Length™ Magnified Mascara, Super Length™ Mascara, and Revlon Ultra Volume™ Mascara.
Before I get into my tips, I'd like to tell you a bit about each product so let's get to it.  We're going to start with the Revlon Dramatic Definition™ Mascara - this smooth, flexible product coats lashes for clump-free separation - use it for bold lashes that impress!  To use, simply place brush at the base of your lashes and pull through - the tapered tip helps you reach lashes in your inner corner and lower lash line. The Revlon Ultimate All-In-One™Mascara is totally innovative because it delivers 5 lash-transforming benefits: volume, length, definition, lift, and intense color.  The applicator's unique because the mini oval shape is designed to reach each and every lash.  
Revlon Super Length™ Mascara gives you, well, super length.  It's luscious formula glides on easily and builds quickly for a beautiful, extended lash look.  The brush stretches to deliver plush length, while the tip tapers to coat even the smallest of lashes!  Revlon Ultra Volume™ Mascara conditions while plumping, containing both short and long bristles to comb lashes and eliminate clumps. Andddd last but not least, Revlon Ultra + Length Magnified™ Mascara - this high shine black fiber formula provides serious volume and strength.  It has a Revlon Magnifying Lash Brush that's designed to anchor formula to lashes for intense volume!  
Each one works super well so don't ask me for the "best one."  I'm going to tell you right now that it all just depends on the look you're going for.  Now, without further ado, let's get to today's main event:  mascara application.  Firstly, always use primer.  Yes, you could skip this step and rely on falsies, but primers provide a base coat for your mascara and enhance your natural lashes - trust me, they'll up your makeup game tenfold.  Second, mix and match mascaras.  I don't know about you guys, but I'm all about personalization!  Don't be afraid to create your own mascara cocktail - my fave formula is Revlon Super Length™ Mascara + Revlon Ultra Volume™ Mascara.  What can I say? I'm a proud mascara mixologist! Now, if you're worried about clumping when layering, don't because it's an easy fix.  Take a toothpick and simply separate your lashes one by one.
A few extra things to keep in mind:  do NOT pump the wand in and out excessively because it won't do you any good - you're just going to dry it out faster by pushing air into the tube.  And remember to wipe off your brush before application to avoid clumps.  Also, if you're looking for killer volume, coat BOTH sides of your lashes.  Oh, and eyelash curlers are your best friends!  Hold it in place for a good 5 seconds to get optimal curl.
Looking to up your eyelash game?  Head on over to your local Walgreens stat - they're hooking you up with a special BOGO 50% off Revlon® Mascara deal for Mascara Day on April 30. 

Photos shot by Dennis Christians.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Revlon. The opinions and text are all mine.

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Remix: The Asymmetrical Mesh Top

I don't know if you guys remember, but a few weeks ago, I featured an asymmetrical mesh top from ASOS on here. I was really excited about it because it was one of the more "risque" pieces I'd purchased in my lifetime, ha. Anywho, I've been thinking about different ways to wear it, and thought, "why not dress it up for a fun night out with frands?"  In the initial post, I styled it with high waisted jeans and distressed boots for a casual, everyday vibe!  I wanted to do something a little different for my latest so I decided to pair it with a bandage skirt and velvet heels.
There's just something about bandage skirts!  I seriously can't get enough of them - IMO, they ooze sexy all day, err day.  I picked this baby up a LONG time ago at Marshalls for a fraction of the price wayyyy back- and when I say "way back," I mean WAY back, think 10+ years - and I still wear it fairly often.  For those of you wondering, the brand is BCBG.
Other fabulous bandage skirts that slay:
Jared caught me texting my bf, ha!  After work, the man-friend and I hit up Halal Guys to get noms. I was working outside all day so I was hangry and cold - chicken and rice seriously never tasted so good! As usual, I got mine with a ridiculous amount of hot sauce.  The workers there always give me sh*t because they're afraid I'm going to pass out and die from the spiciness, ha.  We usually only get platters, but we decided to try their fries this time around, and damn, it was a good decision.  They came out piping hot and were all sorts of yum.  Before heading home, we hit up Trader Joe's to get a few bottles of their delish $3 wine + snacks. 
 Other mesh pieces that'll impress like whoa:
Skirt:  BCBG (similar splurge) || Top:  ASOS || Shoes:  Nine West (similar)
Photos shot by the wonderful Jared Wolfe.
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Getting Medieval Up In Here: Medieval Times with the BF

Thanks to Visit Baltimore, I finally got to check out Medieval Times with the bf.  I live near the castle in Arundel Mills, MD so it was super convenient.  I had heard a lot about the experience from friends so I was pumped to enjoy the food + show.  So imma break it all down for y'all: you purchase your tickets via phone or internet and then pick 'em up at the call window before the show.  We reserved tics to the 7:30 viewing on Saturday and got there around 7:10ish.  The rep on the phone recommended that we get there around 6:30 for pre-show festivities and seats (it's all first-come, first-served), but it ended up being fine!  We sat in the very back, but we could still see everything clearly, andddd we liked the fact we could exit quickly. ha.
Everyone's in character and people get really into it!  There are six different "teams," and you're sorted accordingly so you can cheer for your knight.  As you can see, the bf and I were seated in the blue section.  I was beyond impressed with the setup - the arena was HUGE!  We were pretty hangry at that point so we anxiously awaited noms.
On that note, let's take a look at their 4-course menu!  We started with a yummy tomato bisque - it was nice and hot, served with a slice of buttery garlic bread.  Then we got giant piece of roasted chicken (breast and thigh) for our main with corn-on-the-cob and half of a herb-basted potato as sides.  Dessert was a piece of lemony pound cake.  I'm not a huge fan of lemony stuffs, but this was surprisingly moist so I had quite a bit of it.  Overall, the food was quite good, but it was cooked with a LOT of butter so yeah - the corn was like 70% corn and 30% butter, haha.

Now, since everything's set in "medieval times," no one got silverware.  If you're not a fan of eating with your hands, just talk to your waiter.  He or she will probably tease you about it, but they'll get you some plastic utensils STAT!  BF and I didn't end up getting coffee because we left a little early - I assume they served peeps towards the end - but we got two servings of dranks.  You have a choice between sweet tea and pepsi.  I don't drink either so I asked my waiter for diet pepsi, which they carried.  FYI, they also carry vegetarian options - just let them know before dinner service starts!
The show itself wasn't THE most incredible thing I've ever seen, but it was still a really good time. Big ups to the falcon segment though - the bird soared all around the arena, which was by far my favorite part!  Regardless, I had a lot of fun supporting my team throughout the jousts and duels, even though the fights were kind of corny.
Do I recommend the experience? If you're going with friends and family, for sure.  And a HUGE yes, if you have little kids with you.  We saw SO many munchkins enjoying their time there! There were tons of birthdays going on + hoards of peeps from the military & local colleges there to blow off some steam. 
All the knights lining up to greet the crowd! They all jousted first on horse before engaging in hand-to-hand combat (as pictured above).  
They have 8 other locations (Atlanta, Buena Park Cali, Dallas, Myrtle Beach, Orlando, Lyndhurst, Chicago, and Toronto), and there are various ticket packages to choose from.  For those of you interested, group rates are available.  The whole show lasts for 2 hours, and tickets are $59.95 a pop for adults and $36.95 for children under 12.  
A huge thanks to Visit Baltimore & Medieval Times for hosting us.
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Tearing up Phoenix: Part 2

Alright guys, it's time for part 2 of my Phoenix recap - if you missed segment one and want to catch up, clicky here.  Now, it's been a while, but if I remember correctly the aforementioned post ended with me, Mel and Diana passing out at Hotel Valley Ho after a long but very fun day.  We were all exhausted, but we woke up hella early anyways because we wanted to take photos around our suite and eat breakfast before hitting up Usery Mountain Regional Park.  

We ordered a TON of room service and shot a kickass flat lay in bed!  In case you're wondering, we got a fruit smoothie, a yogurt parfait, a vat of coffee, Belgian waffles, red velvet waffles, and a mushroom omelette with toast and taters.  I'm not gonna lie, by the time we shot everything the noms were straight up cold...but luckily still delicious.  We were laughing our asses off while styling this shot (see it on insta here) because we tied Diana's camera to the chandelier to get the best angle possible.  Hashtag creative blogger solutions.  

After scarfing down brekkie, we changed quickly and checked out.  Tai from Boss Transportation was waiting for us out front to take us to Usery.  Anddddd let's just take a time out to talk about Tai for a quick sec.  If you're in AZ and need a ride, hit him up STAT.  He epitomizes professionalism and is cool as hell - he'll get you wherever you need to go on time all day, every day with max comfort. You'll seriously feel like an a-lister riding in the back of his whip.

Anywho, it took us about 20-30 minutes to get to Usery, and I was amped during the entire drive.  I'm a huge fan of hiking, and I had no doubt the views would be ridiculously amazing so I was pumped. Usery Park's located on the valley's east side and takes in 3,648 acres set at the western end of the Goldfield Mountains.  We hiked Wind Cave trail and ended up 2,840 feet off the ground (!!!) It took us a bit longer than expected and we ended up being hella late, but it was worth every minute because the view was spectacular up top!  

Here's a shot of us resting in the wind "cave" - I say "cave" because it's more of a scar-like depression in the rock.  Definitely worth checking out regardless!  Pro tip aka common sense tip: don't go around flipping random rocks and stay on the main trail.  This is the desert after all, and you don't want to piss off the critters (rattlesnakes, tarantulas, scorpions, etc.) that live there.  It's honestly fine, and I don't want to scare anyone, but it's better to be safe than sorry, right? I didn't see anything other than a cute chipmunk and hummingbird, but one of the guides told us she saw a snake on the main path a while back so just be attentive...and smart.
After our hike, Tai drove us to Queen Creek Olive Mill for a tour + tasting.  We got there and were greeted by the most beautiful spread of tapenades, sandwiches, charcuterie, and sweets.  I wasn't super hungry (shocking I know) so I decided to just chill and munch on a cupcake while chatting with my new blogger friends.  They were raving about the food so I'm assuming it was delish - I'm actually kind of bummed that I passed on noms now, but I guess that just means I'll have to go back.  

Diana and I finished quickly so we decided to explore.  We walked inside and sampled rows of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  I can't even begin to tell you guys how good everything tasted.  I would've TOTALLY purchased several bottles to go, but I didn't have space inside my suitcase so I had to pass - such a bummer. Their cheese stuffed olives and gelato though? So much yasssss.
The different bruschettas that were waiting for us: Caprese with roasted garlic olive oil, fresh mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, basil, and robus EVOO.  Honey mascarphone, grapes, fig balsamic reduction, and balanced EVOO.  Then a pear one that I can't remember? I think it was seasonal!
Delish cupcakes that were to die for good.
Then we went off to our second lunch, ha.  I was SUPER excited to go to Agritopia because I saw that we were eating at Joe's Farm Grill - it was featured on Guy Fieri's show, "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives."  After studying the menu for a solid 15 minutes, I decided to get two dishes that were featured on the show:  the Fontina Burger (made with roasted red pepper, grilled mushrooms, field greens, farm-made pecan pesto, and imported fontina cheese) and Onion Rings (hand-breaded in rosemary-dill panko).

I enjoyed the burger's flavor profile, but for me, the star of the show was def. the onion rings.  They were crispy morsels of perfection, and I just couldn't get enough.  Oh, and did I mention that Agritopia sells same-day harvested produce at The Farm Stand (in their community) in addition to providing fresh ingredients for the diner?  Oh hell yes.
My noms - my presh noms.
After eating aka experiencing mad food coma, Tai escorted us to The Scott Resort where we checked in.  Once again, we were blown away by the facilities, and they made us feel super welcome with cute gift bags!  Mel and I had spa treatments scheduled at 3:30 so we unpacked quickly and power-walked to Jurlique.  She chose to get a resurfacing enzyme facial, while I got a Vichy Nirvana massage (as did Diana).  

This may have quite possibly been one of the best experiences I've ever had, like, in my life. My therapist gave me a medium pressure full body massage while immersing my bod under their vichy shower, and I seriously felt like I was melting...and I mean that in the best way possible.  I came out totally relaxed, but wished it was 90 minutes long instead of 60, ha.  I'd honestly go back to Phoenix just to get pampered at Jurlique again.
Post-spa chilling in my Amiclubwear shoot!
...splashing water because I'm hella playful...
A huge thanks to Brooklyn Hat Company & Lipton PR for sending me this adorable hat!  I wore it EVERY day in AZ because I thought it was the cutest. I still can't get over how adorbs the design is - it has little pom poms (!!!!) See a shot of it here on my instagram.  
Anywho, after chillaxing and shooting pics, we rushed back to our room to get ready for happy hour + a fab culinary reception hosted by The Scott's culinary team.  They hired a new chef recently so they were super excited for us to taste their food - they're apparently revamping the menu and also renovating the resort throughout 2017.  After tasting their noms, I'm kind of sad I didn't get to try their actual dinner menu.  The food and cocktails were so on point!  The girls and I totally "mmmmm-ed" out loud as we sampled everything.  After chatting with the manager for a bit, we ubered to SumoMaya for dinner...

...and died from multiple foodgasms.  Who knew Phoenix was foodie heaven? I've seriously had some of the most amazing food I've ever had in my LIFE in AZ.  SumoMaya's a Mexican/Asian fusion restaurant featuring delish tapas that'll leave you ridiculously satisfied.  We got two different kinds of sangria (rose + red) to start and browsed the menu leisurely before deciding on the following: Spinach + Bacon Salad, the Lobster Mango Roll, Rainbow Ceviche, Rock Shrimp Tempura, Korean Beef Tacos, Pescado Dorado Tacos, Seared Scallops, and Mexican Street Corn.  

The grub was out of this world. If heaven was a food, it'd probably taste like SumoMaya.  As many of you know, I don't eat fish so I skipped the Ceviche and Fish tacos, but everything else was game.  The spinach + bacon salad came with baby spinach, warm bacon, togarashi, walnuts, raisins, asian pear, and pickled egg topped with a champagne vinaigrette.  Everything was fresh, and the flavors complemented each other beautifully.

The roll featured main lobster, crab, mango, okinawa, potato and piquillo chimichurri - super flavorful so no soy sauce necessary IMO.  The korean tacos were seasoned with yakiniku sauce and served with pickled veggies + kimchee - def. one of my faves from the night!  Althoughhhh, it's a tough call between them and the seared scallops.  The latter was seared perfectly and served in a citrus coconut plantain sauce + smoked bacon fufu.  I mean, I can't even. I'm still salivating at the thought of it all.  And the mexican street corn? Made with cotija, spicy mayo and lime, it was a total party in my mouth.  We ended the meal on an extra high note with different kinds of mochi ice cream + chocolate cake & caramel gelato.  
With our bellies full of food, Mel and I concluded that we desperately needed to work out so we powered through Tabata Strength (from the Insanity Max 30 workout) to burn calories before passing out.  Fast forward to day 4: we woke up bright and early again to check out the Desert Botanical Garden.  We had the option of sleeping in, but why do that when there's more to see?  

Tai picked us up and we got our browse on for a good 1.5 hours.  The garden was HUGE (140 acres to be exact) so we only got to see a small portion of it, but everything we saw looked gorg.  Some impressive stats for you guys, it houses 50k+ plants and averages 633k+ visitors yearly.  For those of you interested in visiting, tickets are $24.95 per adult, $12.95 for kids age 3-17, and free for members and children under 3.
Afterwards, we met up with everyone at Phoenix Public Market Cafe for breakfast.  I ordered a latte and a housemade juice ($6.50) to start - it was called the Hulk, and it had spinach, kale, cucumber, apple, parsley, lemon, and celery.  For my entree, I wanted something healthy so I went with their Quinoa Bowl, served with poached eggs, market vegetables (sourced directly from the adjacent farmer's market), quinoa, and pesto ($10.25).  
Management also brought out a platter of housemade pastries for us to share, and it was all super nom.  See that flaky goodness that's topped with strawberry frosting? That's their obscenely tasty homemade pop-tart.  I was half tempted to purchase a few to go, but I resisted my urges (self control FTW).  
Anddd that's a wrap guys!  I hope you enjoyed reading all about my trip to Phoenix.  If you're looking for a fab place to vacation, definitely consider AZ.  The food is phenomenal, the attractions are really interesting, and the scenery is absolutely gorgeous.  As always, if you have any questions or concerns, shoot me a message! I'm here for you all.  Before I leave, I want to thank Visit Phoenix for hosting me and my beautiful frands.  A special thanks to Trish Lanteigne for making it all possible.
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Gone with the Wind...Literally

It was SO ridiculously windy out when Julian (aka Steeze Media) and I took these shots.  It was GREAT for photos and all, but I totally got sick afterwards because it was fuh-reezing.  I love shooting formal gowns because they're fun to play with, anddd I realized I never featured this piece so I figured better late than never.  I've had this dress for YEARS now so it's been through a lot - think graduations, important performances, and nerve-racking auditions.
Like most all of my dresses, I scooped this number up at BCBG.  Their gowns are always on point! They're pricy, but they ooze quality and their designs are second to none.  Man, I'm still pissed that closed all of their brick & mortar factory outlets, ugh.  I guess I'll be hitting up ASOS more often than I already do, ha.
I'm a huge fan of pastel gowns, but I feel like red looks best on stage.  There's just something about the color - it makes me feel powerful, confident, and sexy!  Anywho, I'm curious to hear what you guys think from an audience's perspective.  Are there specific shades that you prefer? If yes, why do you think that is?
 Shot by the fabulous Steeze Media.
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