Monthly Archives: March 2010

Warm up with a Summer Salad

In an attempt to go through all of my produce before I leave on vacation (I hate wasting food!), I decided to make a big Summer Salad to keep for dinner all week. The beautiful thing about a “Summer Salad” is that there are no rules, your salad, your recipe. Similar to a Tabouleh salad, I always like to start with whole wheat cous cous to add substance, then add in a brightly colored mix of vegetables… or in this case all of the produce in my fridge, and finish with a light home-made balsamic dressing. Low in calories and high in resourcefulness, it’s perfect for a laidback dinner with the girls or as  side for a summer dinner soiree.

Here’s what I used:

1.5 c Cous Cous (dry)

2 large tomatoes ( I like to use a combo of cherry tomatoes and beefsteak)

1/2 of a red onion

1/4 head of purple cabbage

1/2 a bell pepper

7-8 asparagus spears (quickly sauteed with garlic)

2 c soybeans (steamed)

Add the cous cous to boiling water, remove from heat and stir until thick. Add to large salad bowl with chopped tomatoes, onions, cabbage, asparagus, pepper and soybeans. Dress to taste with about a cup each of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, plus garlic salt, sea salt, cracked pepper and parsley.

Note: The cous cous will soak up the liquid ingredients like a sponge so I like to add the oil and vinegar continuously while I add the veggies.

It only took about 15 minutes to prepare and the roomies loved it so much that my dinner-for the week turned into a dinner-for-8! Next time I’d love to add avocado and maybe some seeds or nuts, but this one definitely hit the spot! What would you add to your own Summer Salad?

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Give me liberty, or give me… a Target giftcard.

I know that I technically need to find my first apartment before I start decorating it, but that’s technically not very fun. So I’ve been on the hunt for great furniture and accessories and to no surprise, Le’Targe has once again stolen my heart with a great guest designer line. I knew the Liberty of London for Target line would be filled with adorable pieces for wardrobe and home, but would you just look at this pastry tier?  Floral and delightfully cheeky, I just might have to design my whole apartment around it…

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Spring Has Sprung

H&M’s Spring ’10 Garden Party Collection launches this week and I couldn’t be more devastated to be without a local H&M! One peek at the look book and I already have my eye on three adorable garden frocks as potential… dare I say it, graduation dresses(!). Plus, as if I weren’t smitten enough already, every piece is constructed from organic, recycled or waste materials. Talk about bringing green to the garden! Looks like I’ll be sending mom on a shopping run back in Chicago…

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Tip of the day: Aspirin, not just for zapping headaches!

With mid-terms in full swing, packing on the brain and graduation looming only a few short weeks away, I’d say “stressed” is an understatement. For some people stress shows in their energy level or even their appetite but if you’re anything like me, it shows on your face. Now as a 21 year old, I can say that the days of acne are pretty far behind me (thankfully!), so I no longer have stockpiles of spot treatments at my disposal. Luckily, there’s a simple homemade remedy that works as well as any skin care counter cream I’ve tried… and the best part is, it’s sitting right in your medicine cabinet:  Aspirin! That’s right, painkillers like aspirin or ibuprofen are also anti-inflammatories, used to reduce swelling. That means that applying it topically to a persistent pimple will reduce swelling and redness, without drying out your skin.

How to use: Simply boil water and crush up a few tabs of aspirin to make a paste. Apply the paste to the blemish and let it dry. Voila! Your pesky pimple will be visibly smaller and the redness will subside without irritating the area from squeezing. Plus, unlike the pimple creams of our formative high school years, you won’t dry out your skin leaving a crackly mess underneath your concealer! This works great for those extra-annoying pressure-pimples too… ouch!

**If you’re short on time, you can simply run the pill underneath hot water and rub with your fingers to release its paste-y contents.

Now, if only eliminating the causes of my stress was as easy as getting rid of its effects. What are your favorite blemish beating remedies?

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Sin City Survival Tip Cinco!!

Happy Tuesday everyone! Sorry it’s been so long since my last post (whoever said the second semester of your senior year in college should be easy, was misinformed).  Anyways, I’m back and ready with my fifth Sin City Survival Tip. With my trip to Las Vegas only 6 days away, it’s time to start thinking about what to pack. Suit case space is limited real estate as it is, but now with airlines charging up to $50 per checked bag, packing smart isn’t just a skill but a recessionista travel necessity!

For me, the biggest space-sucker in my suitcase always ends up being beauty products. Not only do you have to fit the usual lot of oddly shaped lotion bottles, giant hairspray canisters etc. But  when you add sunscreens, tanning oils and after-suns, it can get a little out of control. With this predicament in mind, I bring you

Tip #5: Products, what to pack and what to pitch! My packing rule is to stick to multi-use products and try to limit around 2 products per part, i.e. hair, face and body.

First, decide on two or three non-negotiables. For me these are:

Rusk Being Sexy Hairspray: Runway staple and the best hairspray for hot conditions that I have EVER used. Used at the Cynthia Rowley show in ’09 and my own Vegas trip in August, it has UV filters to protect from the sun, fights frizz and even adds shine!

Big Sexy Shampoo: When the heat is on, and it will be in Vegas (!), volume is always an issue for my hair. Big Sexy Shampoo guarantees that even if my root pump falters, I’ll never have helmet head.

Redken Straight Balm: Slick through your hair from about ear-height to ends before you blow dry to tame your mane all day… no matter the weather.

Secondly, when it comes to skin and suncare, keep it compact and kill 2 birds with 1 product.

SPF is not an option ladies. The “worn leather handbag” look doesn’t work for anyone’s skin type so take care of your face! However, packing skin care and sun care can get bulky. So the trick is finding one product for face and one for body that takes care of both.

For the face, I love  Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Sun Block. With SPF up to 85 (!) and its non-comedogenic formula, this fab product is sensitive enough to use as a moisturizer and strong enough to protect your delicate complexion. But, the best part about this block… the dry-touch technology keeps it matte and dry to the touch all day which means you won’t look greasy and your makeup won’t run! Apply in the morning underneath your makeup like a traditional moisturizer, then throw in in your pool bag and your good to go.

When it comes to body, there are multiple factors to consider. If you’re as pale as I am this spring, you’ll probably be getting a spray tan before your getaway; and everyone knows that even the best spray tans can turn into a flakey mess without proper maintenance. My lovely roommate and airbrush goddess Meredith, recommends a combination of moisturizer and self tanner. Burning will also jeopardize your golden glow and cause you to peel faster so again, SPF is a must! To solve this issue I turn to two products:

Jergens Natural Glow in Medium to Dark will take care of your body lotion and self tanner in one convenient bottle. You never have to worry about streaking and its suitcase-friendly bottle isn’t too big to travel with.

Hawaiian Tropic Tanning Oil with SPF 15 is a staple that I have used for years. When traveling to a dry destination like Las Vegas, your skin will dry out in no time while sunbathing. Tanning oils are super moisturizing and will safeguard your spray tan from the drying air and chlorine. With its convenient spray nozzle, you can reapply your SPF all day without getting your hands greasy and the sexy sheen will leave you looking like a bronze goddess.

With all of these great skin/sun care combos, you’ve already turned 5 big bottles into 3 convenient ones.

Size-down your essentials.

My personal goal is to fit my skin/sun care plus all of my essentials in one gallon sized zip-loc bag. To do this, I buy travel sized versions of whatever I can. Sure it’s a few extra dollars but checking an extra bag or going over on your luggage weight limit is way more expensive. For most people, essentials include: toothpaste, deodorant, body wash, shampoo etc. Most of these already come in travel sizes, however you can purchase empty bottles for as little as $0.50 to fill with your own faves. Another space and time saving tip is to pick up a pack of face cleansing cloths. You can fold these into even the smallest of toiletry bags, plus they practically cut wash time in half (which you’ll appreciate when your nights end at 6 am).

Pick one extra… make it good. Limit yourself to one non-essential product and make it worth it!

My ultimate, all time favorite extra is Michael Kors Leg Shine To Go. One glide of this miracle-stick over your legs, knees and ankles, and your bare legs will look sleek, luscious and runway ready. Not to mention, it matches my Michael Kors fragrance!

There you have it, 7 products to complete your beauty, skin, tanning and SPF regimen on vacation. Not quite rocket science, but definitely a space saving feat in my book!

Tune in tomorrow for my tips on how to do a full night out from dinner to dancing without breaking the bank! xoxo SS

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Jeggings… and on the cheap!

I interrupt this series of Vegas travel tips to…. gloat : ) Just a little. I don’t know if you are familiar with the new “Jegging” trend and if you aren’t, I highly suggest you try a pair. As comfortable as leggings, with a denim finish, they are perfect to transition into summer with a cute tunic or oversized tank. Practically every over-priced denim line has jumped on board and jeggings are EVERYWHERE.

Well, while I was busy shopping for things I don’t need online yesterday, I stumbled across this pair from 7For All Mankind:Super cute of course, until I saw the price tag: $189.00 Holy overpriced.  Now before you go running out to break the bank on a pair of denim leggings, get this… About 2 weeks ago my friend and one of my favorite bloggers, Danielle, dragged me into our local Kohls, insisting that I would find some great”steal” items. After about an hour of sifting through poly-blend, I was getting pretty disappointed, until I found these: Denim leggings courtesy of Vera Wang’s line for Kohls, Simply Vera.

Here, shown in black, they come in ankle or cropped lengths- I took home my very own pair of ankle length in classic denim blue. But the best part, I got them for a cool $24. (Cue victory dance!) So there you have it, remember not to buy jeggings for the brand name, and never judge a store by its poly-blend.

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Sin City Survival Tip 4!

Alright here’s my fourth Sin City Survival tip, comin’ at ya!

Tip 4: Transitional pool ensembles, the most important outfit you pack!

What is a transitional pool ensemble you may ask? Well if you’ve been reading my earlier tips, you’ll notice that I mention having a coverup and heels on the ready for any afternoon activities– this outfit is your “transitional pool ensemble.” In Vegas there is lots to do at any time of day or night. So you have to be prepared to go straight from the pool to lunch, or even on your hotel lobby crawl (check out tip #3 if you missed this). And since it’s Las Vegas you’ve got to look good. So find a great light weight tunic or dress that you can toss on over your swimsuit and a comfortable pair of poolside heels to stomp the strip in. Since these shoes might be in and out of water and definitely baking in the sun, I wouldn’t invest too much in them.

My daytime pool side ensemble starts with my swimsuit:

A classic, vintage-inspired one piece girl myself, my suit of choice is an adorable Donna Karan shirred black strapless one piece that just screams pin-up. I couldn’t find a pic of the exact suit but it looks very similar to this fabulous Juicy Couture number, if it was black.

I picked up this adorable Ralph Lauren Tunic in coral (here in turquoise) for a steal at Macy’s in August. It’s light weight, just long enough to pass as a day dress …well in Vegas anyways, and the perfect punch of color to spice up my classic black suit.

Now for the shoes. I try to follow a rule in my wardrobe that for every “real” piece in an outfit, you should have one “steal” piece. In my pool side outfit, my pumps are the steal. Okay, I’ll admit it, “hi my name is Samantha and I buy shoes at Target”. (…hiii Samantha). But in all seriousness, not only is Le Targe a great place to find cute shoes for a steal, I wouldn’t recommend spending a ton of money on shoes that are going end up covered in chlorine and tanning oil anyways! I found an almost exact replica of these Donna Karan stunners by none other than Xhilaration (!) at Target about a year ago. The best part? DK’s version will run you $499.00 (Zappos.com) and I got my “steal” version for a cool $20. Gotta love Le Targe. Note: You’ll be wearing these shoes for long periods of time and pool decks are pretty slick so comfort and traction are KEY. Platform sandals like these are perfect because they’re easier to walk in than a sky-high stiletto heel and usually make for a more comfortable shoe.

And finally, the key to creating a pool side outfit that can transition to day wear… the ACCESSORIES. It’s amazing how adding a simple necklace to your outfit can take a cover up from swim wear to an adorable summer day dress. My two transitional accessories are a wide brimmed hat from Nine West ($50) and a long liquid silver necklace from Forever 21 ($9)… see, one real and one steal! I highly suggest packing a great sun hat no matter where you’re headed for Spring Break. It keeps you cool, looks completely glam and will protect your delicate face from the harsh sun! …don’t worry, you’ll get my SPF lecture later.

So there it is, the keys to creating the perfect transitional pool outfit! Check back tomorrow for my ideas on products, what to pack and what to pitch. Spoiler alert, Michael Kors Leg Shine is my god.  xoxo- Samantha


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