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Gift Ideas


Mother’s Day Beauty Gift Guide

April 28, 2016

Mother’s Day is less than two weeks away which is just around the corner and I started my gift search a bit early this year. Shopping for gifts for my mom is one of the most challenging things ever because she usually says she has everything she wants. To this day she would rather have me make her a nice card rather than buy her something (she still has almost all the little drawings, paintings and clay sculptures I made when I was in grade school!). Gifting a basket of little beauty goodies has always worked in the past – she loves OPI nail polishes and anything new for lips is always fun to try out for her. I’ve teamed up with Ulta Beauty to create a Mother’s Day Gift Guide for both my mom and my mother in-law. They are on opposite sides of the color spectrum for skin tone, my mom has fair skin, dark hair and prefers cool tones. My mother-in-law has medium-tan skin, blonde hair and I’ve always seen her wear warm tones. Both are classic beauties in their own unique way – I thought my picking items for both based on different undertones it might also help give you ideas of what to gift to your mom!

I stopped by my local Ulta last week to check out the new launches and promotions going on. There are a lot of new beauty items that were released, but I usually discover something new everytime I visit the store. Right now they have a Spring Bag Gift with $40 Fragance Purchase which is a large tote and small zip pouch. Buying fragrance as a gift can be a bit tricky but the one scent I find that is a hit with everyone I know (at every age) is Philosophy Amazing Grace because it’s such a fresh and clean uplifting scent. Tote featured in this post is the Blue Gift With Fragrance Purchase Option, there are three colors to choose from:

For Mother’s Day gifting ideas, Ulta has four gift categories by personality type including On Trend Mom, Natural Mom, On the Go Mom and Classic Mom. I feel like both of my moms could fit in a few of the categories – they both have a hybrid of classic or on-the-go personality.

First I picked up a few classics that I personally really like I thought would be great for them to try out. I bought 2x of each of these shown below, one for each mom.

The Lancome Eau Fraîche Douceur Micellar Cleansing Water is a classic gentle but effective cleansing water good for a double cleanse or for quick makeup removal on days you are short on time. I like that it comes in a fairly large size and has a well-designed pump dispenser. Smashbox Photofinish Primer Water is something I discovered recently which doubles as a makeup priming spray to hydrate the skin or set makeup after application. It comes in a mini travel size which I think has enough to give it a thorough test drive. I think it’s a great multi-tasking product suitable for multiple skin types. I like to use it both ways as suggested and it’s a great face refresher.

For the face/cheeks Ulta has the Best of Becca Radiance Set which includes trial-sized minis of their best sellers for a natural luminous glow. The set is a steal at $32.50 and has Mineral blush in Flower Child, Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed in Opal, Shimmering Skin Perfector Spotlight Wand in Moonstone and a small Backlight Priming Filter. (I almost want to keep this one for myself! How cute is the backlight primer!) 

For eyes, I think deep plum tones look amazing as a liner no matter what skin tone or eye color you have. It’s softer than black, not quite as boring as brown, but still conservative enough to wear for everyday. The Urban Decay Naked 24/7 Glide-On Eyeliner in Darkside/Blackheart has two shades of deep plum, each side has a different shimmer effect but nothing crazy.

For brows, the Anastasia Brow Wiz is one of the most highly rated brow pencils. I recently bought Medium Brown and find it really easy to use. There’s a handy shade guide in store and online to help you decide what color to try based on hair color. I bought Taupe for my mother-in-law and Medium Brown for my mom.

For beauty picks for my mother-in-law I picked out warm tones. She has blonde hair and tan skin and I’ve always seen her in neutral to warm tones. I think my husband’s mother is really one of the coolest people I know and lucky to have a mother-in-law like her. Anyone who has twins (and twin boys at that) deserves a medal. I don’t think raising two boys at the same time is something I could ever handle – and she did a great job. Since these items are going to be gifts I wasn’t able to swatch anything. I do have reviews coming of the Becca Luminous Blushes though so stay tuned for a review in an upcoming post.

Shown below is the Tarte Tartlette 2 In Bloom Amazonian Clay Palette which has the most glorious combination of mattes, shimmers, neutral and warm shades. I swatched this one in store and each color has an ultra smooth texture. It has 9 matte shades and 3 shimmers which makes gives it a little sparkle but makes it still conservative enough for a classic beauty. It’s so gorgeous I am going to have to go back and buy one for myself.

Becca launched new Shimmering Skin Perfector Luminous Blushes which are amazing in color and have serious pigment! Shown below is Snapdragon (pink) and Tigerlily (peach). These are literally what dreams are made of. They give the skin a luminous glow with a pretty flush of color. For those concerned about shimmer – they are on the shimmery side but are not overly frosted.

For nails OPI Bubble Bath is a neutral classic you can’t go wrong with. For the lips Tarte has new Double Duty products called The Lip Sculptor Double Ended Lipstick and Gloss – perfect for on-the-go. Below are two rosy shades in Voltage and Sass. I swatched these on my hand in store and the lipsticks were extemely soft and creamy.


Up next are some cool tone beauty picks for my mom. She loves mauves and plums and brighter pinks for the lips. For eyes she likes to keep things simple but does like to add a bit of color. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her wear shimmer eyeshadow so I picked up the Tarte Tartelette Amazonian Clay Matte Palette for her. It also has ultra smooth shadows in a wide range of color options which seem to be neutral-cool. All of the colors are shades she would wear. For that matter I think they are shades I would wear too. For quick reference – I think these colors would suit a number of skin tones and under tones but she has fair skin, pink undertones, dark hair and dark eyes.

For cheeks she likes pinks and mauves that are soft but add life to the complexion. When I was younger she would always tell me I needed more color and dab some of her lipstick on my cheeks as a bit of a stain. Urban Decay Afterglow Powder Blush in Fetish is a soft mauve plum pink without any shimmer while Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Blush in Camelia has a luminous glow which is more pink and brightening.

For the nails I picked up OPI California Raspberry which is a bright shimmering fuchsia and for the lips also from the Double Duty line, I picked up the Tarte The Lip Sculptor Double Ended Lipstick and Gloss in VIP and Renegade.

If you’re searching for some beauty gifts for Mother’s Day I hope you this roundup gave you a few ideas! There are a lot of options to pick from in skincare, makeup, hair care, fragrance and beauty tools – many of which are budget friendly. These days there are so many brands to pick from at Ulta Beauty including Anastasia, Buxom, Benefit, OPI, Lancome, Becca, Tarte and Essie etc. Everytime I go in store I find I discover something new.

I shopped for my mom and mother-in-law but found a few items I think I’m going to have to pick up for myself in the next week, mainly one or both of the Tarte Eyeshadow Palettes. If you’ve tried them what did you think? Do you have any gifts planned for Mother’s Day this year? Would love to hear your ideas or plans whether it’s beauty or non-beauty related!

If you’re a mom – do you have anything on your wishlist for Mother’s Day?

Created in partnership with Ulta Beauty. Many thanks to the team for sponsoring this post. As always all opinions my own.


Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

January 27, 2016
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I’m still in new year mode mentally but it’s already almost February! Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. I’ve rounded up some Valentine’s Day gift inspiration whether you’re looking for something to hint for, treat yourself with or gift to girl friends. I’m a sucker for pink sunglasses and there are quite a few to choose from right now. J.Crew just launched a sunglass shop and I love the imagery on their site!

Charlotte Tilbury just launched two new lipsticks that are exclusive to her site called Between the Sheets and Kiss Chase. I just ordered them and can’t wait to see them in person. They look so feminine and girly.

For spring Diptyque launched the Rosaviola candle and it’s to die for. How cute is the pink?! It comes in two sizes and unfortunately the small one has been so popular it has sold out almost everywhere (I couldn’t find it anywhere in stores near me). You can still find some online at Space NK (at least as of this morning). Full review soon.

If you have a sweet tooth and need a quick pick-me-up, Sugarfina has some of their best selling candies in the prettiest pink packaging for Valentine’s Day. You can’t go wrong with any of them. My top three favorites are the Strawberries, Peach Bellinis and Champagne Gummies. (Not shown above, but they also have some cute items for Chinese New Year!)
Hope you enjoy the roundup of some other ideas. I have this bag on my wishlist in the mini size. I told myself I would not buy anymore small bags because this one is just so pretty. We’ll see how long I can resist.
What’s on your Valentine’s Day wish list?

Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

February 2, 2015
I’ve rounded up a few gift ideas for Valentine’s Day with the theme of treat yourself. Here are some gift recommendations I have ranging from affordable pick-me-ups to more splurgy items.

For those with a sweet-tooth Williams-Sonoma (1) has the cutest Sour Gummy Hearts and these cute pink, red and white Malt Balls.

If you’re looking to get organized, these Weekly Desk Pads (2) by Rifle Paper Co. have been a lifesaver for me. I use them constantly and they are immensely helpful in planning out my weeks. These cute 2015 6-inch Pocket Journals from Gigi New York + With Love From Kat (3) are now 50% off (I just ordered one).

For the lips, Fresh has a new limited-edition Sugar Rosé Extreme Lip Treatment (4). The packaging is covered with a red rose pattern and I’m a huge sucker for well-designed packaging. For a more affordable lip treatment, the Sephora Collection Super Smoothing Lip Butter (6) is always calling my name when I see it in store. One of my friends really loves it. I’m tempted to pick this one up myself. If you’re willing to splurge, hands down go for the By Terry Baume de Rose Set (review here).

For the home, you can’t go wrong with a luxury candle. Diptyque Baies (5) is a splurge but once you try a Diptyque candle, you won’t want to burn anything else.

Net-A-Porter has a limited-edition Valentine’s Day Kit (7) that is quite amazing. It contains nine different luxury hair, skin and makeup sampler sized beauty items. I was lucky to receive one as a gift from Net-A-Porter, a more detailed review to follow soon.

For the hands, a new scented hand cream can do wonders for your skin and mood. L’Occitane’s Delightful Rose (8) is a classic with pretty pink packaging. If you’re looking for something that doubles as a hand and body moisturizer, the Aerin Rose Hand & Body Cream is a sweet rose that I really like.

Essie Nail Polishes (9) are raved about constantly by my readers. I recently decided to give the line another try and am smitten with the opaque colors. (If you have a favorite please let me know!)

If you’re a fan of the Elizabeth and James Nirvana line, there are new Nirvana Black (10) and Nirvana White value gift sets that have a body lotion, roller ball and Eau de Parfum spray.

Last but not least, if you’re looking to go a bit bolder, the MAC Viva Glam Miley Cyrus Lipglass (11) is fun and glitzy. If you can’t do micro sparkles but are looking for a good hot pink, check out the Chanel Crazy Fuschia Glossimer (reviewed here).

Some more gift ideas below:


Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

May 5, 2014

Mother’s Day is just around the corner and if you’re like me, you have a mother who already has everything she wants, rarely thinks about herself because she is always thinking about those she loves around her, and usually says “you don’t have to get me anything, how about just make me a nice card?” Each year I try to find something special she can incorporate into her wardrobe or home as a gesture to show how much I appreciate everything she does. If you’re in need for some gift ideas, here are a options I hope will help with some gift inspiration. From top left, clockwise:
  • These colorful Ombré ($38, Nordstrom) and Flower Bud Print ($59.50, J.Crew) scarves are perfect for spring and will go well with spring-to-summer crisp white blouses or tees
  • J.Crew has some really fun and chic-looking Textured Summer Straw Hats ($34.50) perfect for the upcoming warm weather days
  • Kate Spade has these delightful Basket Pave Studs ($68, comes in gold, silver or pink) that are classic and add a bit of glamour
  • J.Crew has a variety of cute Ceramic Trays ($19.50 each) can add a lovely accent to her dressing table for her jewelry (other affordable options at Pottery Barn)
  • Esteé Lauder has a lovely Modern Muse Fragrance Set ($85), there’s also a Gift With Purchase at Nordstrom going on now (this is almost a no-brainer/no-fail option since almost every mother I know is a loyal Esteé Lauder fan)
  • Tory Burch has a number of chic sandal options, according to my local store, one of their best sellers is the the Cameron Patent Thong Sandals ($150)
  • Jo Malone Peony Blush Candle ($65) is a luxurious option that you can pair with a nice bouquet of flowers
  • L’Occitane has a Delightful Hands ($28) hand cream trio that makes a nice add-on that won’t break the bank, this one has the Classic Shea, Cherry Blossom and Velvety Rose
  • Gigi New York has a creative way of packaging their gift cards in a chic printed card holder
  • Tatcha has a great set with their Okasan Mother’s Day Set ($135), it’s a steal that contains one Deep Hydration Lifting Mask, Camellia Gold Lip Balm, Camellia Beauty Oil, Japanese candy from Kyoto (I gifted this to my mother early, but it’s so awesome I want one for myself), check out their contest they are running on Facebook
What have you found for Mother’s Day this year? Do you have any traditions? Be sure to check each shop’s shipping policies and deadlines, most are offering rush shipping options but with certain cut-off dates.

For fun, check out this really cute video (and maybe send this via e-mail to your mom) from Great Thing of the Day: Is This the #WorldsToughestJob? – I guarantee it will make you smile!


Valentine’s Day Splurge Ideas

February 5, 2014

Some Valentine’s Day gift idea inspiration whether you are looking for a splurge for yourself or a gift for others. Some options for those who like soft pinks or dramatic reds, plus a few universally appealing items to suit all ages.
  1. YSL Rose Scabiosa La Laque Couture (review here)
  2. Diptyque Eau Rose Hand Cream
  3. Aerin Rose Balm in Pretty (I want one of each shade, these feel so amazing on the lips)
  4. MAC Extra Dimension Skinfinish in Fairly Precious (review here)
  5. By Terry Rose Balm Coffret – 10th Anniversary Limited Edition
  6. Bobbi Brown Baby Pink Lip Gloss (review here)
  7. Tom Ford Lip Color Sheer in Incorrigible for those who like a strong vivid pink (swatches here)
  8. Tatcha Kissu Valentine’s Kit (Gold Camellia Nourishing Lip Balm + one bag of Tatcha sweets)
  9. MAC Viva Glam Rihanna Lip Glass such a gorgeous sheer hot pink
  10. Tory Burch Lipstick Case
  11. Tom Ford Indiscretion Nail Polish
  12. Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in Fiction a stunning natural but semi-bright red/plum
  13. YSL Rouge Pablo La Laque Couture (swatches here)