cheap thrill | nivea in-shower body lotion

I do love me some high-end products, but there’s nothing quite like the (cheap) thrill of finding a winning product in the budget-friendly aisles of the drugstore or target. this in-shower lotion is definitely a winner for me. to be honest, when I ran across it the first time, it seemed gimmicky (there are only so many ways you can reinvent lotion, after all). but my skin was going through a major dry spell, and I figured that one more chance to lotion couldn’t hurt, so in the cart it went. I’m so glad I took a chance because it’s been great. I put it on after my regular body wash and let it sink in for the same amount of time it takes me to let my conditioner sink in. then I rinse it off right before I leave the shower.

keep in mind, this won’t take the place of regular lotion if you’re skin is really dry. what it does do is provide an extra layer of moisture that can then be built upon with other lotion products. I’ve been layering it with this, but on days when I’m lazy or running late, by itself it keeps me from being ashy, which is always appreciated. I love that it’s an in-shower product since I find that I’m less likely to skip it since it feels like it takes no extra time to do one more thing when I’m already in the shower doing everything else.

if, like me, you hate the feeling of putting lotion on when you’ve just stepped out of the shower (cold liquid against damp skin…ugh), then this product is worth a try.

5 x nude nail polish

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 9.21.09 AMone essie topless & barefoot | two dior nail glow

three nails inc. x vvb bamboo white (limited edition) | four orly dare to bare

five mac endless night (limited edition from 2012)

over the years and after a lot of trial & error, I’ve figured out how to rock nude nail polish without looking like I have mannequin hands. because of my skin tone & undertone, I have to find a “nude” that has a little bit of pink in it so that it doesn’t look too pale on my nails, and the added pink keeps things from being too chalky.

  • for the perfectly minimal nail, the dior nail glow is my jam.
  • for a sheer, translucent nude, mac endless night is my go-to.
  • for a solid nude, I switch between orly dare to bare, which leans a little more pinkand essie topless & barefoot, which is a true neutral nude on me (even if it looks very pink in the bottle, oddly enough).
  • when I want something a little more subtle & chic without being sheer, nails inc. x vvb bamboo white is the perfect soft, pink-white.

what are your go-to nudes?


things that made my week

the two things that made my week:

this movie


…for giving my guy & me a much needed break from a stressful week.


this book


…for making me literally laugh out loud (review coming soon).

this week has has been incredibly stressful at work, I haven’t been sleeping well, winter seems like it’s going to drag on forever, and everything is just ramping up. I am so glad it’s friday.

I’m hoping to catch up on some down time this weekend. I hope your weekend is lovely!

gym accessories

IMG_1671FRiEQ armband | nike training gloves | dove dry spray | old navy water bottle (try in stores)

when it comes to working out, every little source of motivation counts. I pack my gym bag the night before so that it’s ready to go in the morning, greatly reducing the chances that I lazy out of the day’s workout. I pick clothes and shoes that are not just appropriate to work out in, but also in colors & styles that make me want to put them on & work up a sweat. it seems a little silly, I know, but it works for me. another thing that I’ve found to help is getting accessories that, while not absolutely necessary, make working out that much more enjoyable.

first up, the all-important water bottle. I prefer  squeeze bottles or bottles with a straw for working out. this water bottle was from old navy. I love the pep talk, the easy-to-hold design of the lid, and the foldable straw. its design is similar to camelbaks but I prefer this bottle’s straw, which is made of sturdy, hard plastic.

this new dove dry spray deodorant is currently my jam. no more getting deodorant stains on my clothes, no more having to wait for it to dry before getting to put my clothes on. it dries instantly, and it’s so quick & easy to use. there are a couple of different scent/formulation options. I went with the sensitive skin one.

after I do a half hour or so of cardio, I head on over to do some weight training. for the longest time, I didn’t wear any training gloves, but then I started to get calluses on the palms of my hands, so I bought this nike pair. not only has it kept calluses at bay, it’s also helped me to grip the handles better.

and finally, on to my new favorite thing: this armband. I had an armband previously, but when I got my new phone, it no longer fit. I held off on purchasing a new one for a month because I didn’t want to buy another one (the old one was still going strong even though it was now the wrong size). after a month of awkwardly trying to find the best place to put my phone while lifting weights (under my bra strap, precariously balanced on my thigh, etc.), I threw in the towel & finally looked into finding one. I wanted something cheap but durable. after scrolling through numerous options on amazon, I stumbled upon this one from FRiEQ, which is rated 4.7 out of 5 stars by over 60 people. it comes with three pieces: a slim, snap-on jacket for the phone itself, an outer sleeve that the phone jacket fits into, & an adjustable velcro strap. I like how easy to access my phone is while still having it securely mounted. the bonus case is great on its own, too. in fact, I’ve been using it as a temporary case while waiting for the regular case I ordered to come in. I was really impressed by the quality. it’s not flimsy at all. all that for $10? it’s a steal!IMG_1676 IMG_1673 IMG_1675 IMG_1672

5 x…dream bags

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 4.18.22 PM

gucci soho disco bag | céline trio (in céline stores or try ebay) | mansur gavriel bucket bag

sophie hulme zip top bowling bag | fendi 2jours medium shopper

my 5 dream bags. by “dream bags” I mean: “bags I will purchase when I win the lottery and/or when I have saved up for years because they’re d*mn expensive”.

I like bags that are streamlined & simple. I don’t mind hardware but I want it to be used judiciously & with purpose. I prefer black (can’t you tell?) because it’s timeless, goes with everything, & doesn’t get dirty as quickly, but I also love a good taupe or grey and a classic red.

red is a tricky color for me – it has to be the right shade where it’s rich & attention-grabbing without going over the top. the red bag of my dreams is the soho disco crossbody from gucci. I’m usually not into logos, but I actually love how modern & graphic the gucci logo is, and on such a small bag, I think it actually looks more like a design than a monogram. plus the tassel…just a nod of whimsy & 70s freedom. the other crossbody on the list is the céline trio in black. it’s sleek & subtle, and the design is genius – it’s like 3 bags in one (which, for the price, it better be!).

for big bags, there are two that have made the cut: the sophie hulme bowling bag & the fendi 2jours tote. sophie hulme exploded on the scene last year with this bag, but it was the less popular bowling bag that caught my eye. I prefer its east/west design to the tote, and I love that it’s a no-frills bag except for the edgy metal plates near the handles. the 2jours tote is the exact opposite – it’s classic & prim through & through, which is usually a little too traditional for my taste, but something about the metal trim across the top, the hang tag, and its angular shape gives it enough of a modern touch that I absolutely love.

last but not least, the mansur gavriel bucket bag, aka the bag that sold out everywhere last year. this bag is perfect. it’s striking in its simplicity. I’ve debated back & forth between which color to pick (I’m torn between the brandy & the black), not to mention which lining to choose. my current favorite is the combination above: black exterior with a ballerina pink lining. priced at $495, this bag is by no means cheap but it is the most affordable of the 5 I’m dreaming about by a long shot. I’ve been saving up my pennies on the side since last year for this baby, possibly as a “congratulations for getting into nursing school” gift to myself this fall (cross fingers). I believe in sartorially pleasing carrots. wink.

what’s your dream bag?

good buys | wide-calf knee-high boots


if you’re a regular around these parts (thank you!), then you’ll know that I struggle to find knee-high boots to fit my wide calves. but, in November right around my birthday…I finally found a pair. then, when I was in Boston, I found another pair (in grey). I can’t tell you how incredibly giddy I was to finally end a years-long search for any knee-high boot that would fit.

I thought I’d give you guys the details in case you or someone you know is still searching high & low for your glass slipper, so to speak (for reference, my calves are about 18″ wide at their widest point). the only potential downside is that neither one of these is made of real leather, but having worn them for awhile now, I can say that the vegan leather & suede are pretty durable and I’m kind of glad they’re not real leather so I don’t have to worry about irrevocably damaging them in this snowy Chicago weather. I did purchase a backup pair of the black boots and also bought them in brown.


things that made my week | valentine’s day edition

this guy…

IMG_0318…for being my funny valentine

this week’s iteration of “things that made my week” comes from our valentine’s day dinner. we went to 312 Chicago, partly because it came highly recommended by a friend and partly because it’s really close to James’s office. we had a great time. there were no crowds, the service was friendly, and the food! the food was fantastic. we left stuffed to the brim. how was your valentine’s day?

happy weekend!

this buffala appetizer…

IMG_0321…for being insanely good

this caesar salad…

IMG_0323…for having a real anchovy

this seafood fusilli in arrabiata sauce…

IMG_0324…for reaffirming my belief that great pasta is always worth the extra workout

this peach sorbetto…

IMG_0326…for being the perfect end to an indulgent evening

current favorite nail polishes & products

IMG_0156if you follow me on instagram, you would have seen the picture above a couple of weeks back. I’ve been on a nail polish kick lately, and I’ve been really loving the products & colors I’ve been trying.

nails5last year, sephora came out with a new, revamped in-house nail polish line called formula x. I finally got around to trying out a couple of colors & the prepping system, which comes with a nail cleanser, a base coat, & a top coat plus a nail polish color of your choosing. I’ve found that all three steps work well for me. the cleanser helps to eliminate any lingering oils or products on my nails before I start polishing, the base coat works well in laying an adhesive foundation for the color to sit on, and the top coat is glossy & has kept my nails chip-free for 4-5 days on average, which is impressive for me since I’m hard on my hands. I do find that after a day or two, I have to apply a second coat of top coat to get back the shine, but that’s typical for me. I used to use seche vite regularly but I found that it shrunk horribly after first application, so I switched to dior‘s top coat, which is lovely but really only works best with the brand’s own polish. over other brands, it had some shrinking (but nowhere near as bad as with the seche vite).

I’ve tested out the formula x system with a lot of the brands I own, including essie, chanel, dior, butter london, opi, & nails inc., as well as with formula x colors, and while the system worked best with the formula x colors & dior, it played well enough with all of them. it’s a good “one top coat for all”. my one concern is that since it is on the thicker side, it might get harder to work with over time, like the seche vite, but I’ve used it regularly over the last 6 weeks, and it hasn’t gotten gloopy or hard to work with so so far, so good.

nails2nails1 as for actual nail polishes, I’ve stuck to neutrals on my tips and a pop of color on my toes. on my hands, I’ve rotated between dior‘s lady, orly‘s dare to bare, & nails inc. x vvb victoria beckham in bamboo white. lady is the loveliest soft pink I’ve ever come across. I have a hard time finding soft pinks that don’t look too ashy or just beige on my medium-dark skintone. this one is perfect (how I wish it wasn’t limited edition!). the most neutral on me is the orly, which is really subtle & incognito on my nails, giving just enough color to cover up my nail bed. bamboo white is not actually white on me – it leans ever so slightly to a powdery pink. this one I was pleasantly surprised by, because like with soft pinks, whites are a tricky color for me, if they’re too powdery, they end up looking too stark against my skin. this one is soft & elegant, which is just what I was looking for (I wore it here; for better swatches, see Sabrina’s post). it would be a great color for the office & other more conservative situations.

on my toes, I’ve gone the exact opposite & opted for color, switching between the nails inc. x vvb victoria beckham in judo red, the pair to bamboo white, and essie‘s splash of grenadine. judo red is a classic tomato red-orange that leans warm. it’s such a bold, brightening color. just like its mate, the formula was great & application was easy. spash of grenadine is not a color I usually go for, but it looked so cheery & springy in the bottle that I couldn’t resist giving it a try. it’s a really lovely pink/purple that applied well. I like that it’s bright without being neon, and I have nothing in my collection like it. I’ve loved seeing these two colors on my toes. they keep me believing that spring is on its way…even if it’s -8 in Chicago right now. -8!!!

hope you’re keeping warm! if you’re lucky enough to be someplace that’s actually warm, won’t you send some of that heat up to the great lakes?