Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Top 10 Beautifying Essentials For Your Trip To Maui, Hawaii!

Aloha My Lovely Shine and Sparklers,

Those who follow my Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook know (look in the side bar if you are interested in looking or even *gasp* following me), I have recently taken a vacation to Maui, Hawaii!  I wanted to give you a quick glace at my vacation if you didn't get to see it on social media.  I also wanted to give you my top 10 Beautifying Essentials I realized I wish someone had stressed to me before I went!  Unfortunately I didn't get to fly first class (like I did in this United Airlines First Class Review post).  But I still loveeeeeed my trip.

First, here are a few awesome pictures from my Maui Trip:

Top 10 Beautifying Essentials to bring to Maui, Hawaii:
Reminder: Make sure any large liquids or aerosol containers are in your checked luggage! Don't want to have TSA take your beauty essentials away from you!  Also, a lot of these tips work no matter what your gender is, so I'm adding to my list of "For Him" posts.

  1. Water Proof Sunscreen.  By far my #1!  Buy it on sale at home and bring it with you.  Hawaii knows that if you will pay more for sunscreen there so they make the prices higher than I know I want to pay.   Bring your own is economical and necessary to prevent skin damage from the sun.  Vacation is no fun with sun burns.  I suggest going higher in SPF than you normally go, since there is so much sun in Hawaii.
  2. Lip Balm with SPF.  Your lips burn can burn just like the rest of your skin.  And honestly, you want to be relaxing and playing in the water.  Not worrying if your lipstick is smudging.  If you really need some color, get a tinted lip balm with SPF of apply a lip stain before your normal SPF lip balm. It's Maui, no need to dark vampy lipsticks here.
  3. Very Waterproof eyeliner.  Mascara and eyeshadows probably aren't going to stand up to all day on the beach and in the pool.  But I have been quite successful with the eye liners I detail in my Best Long Wearing Eyeliner for Monolids/Hooded Eyes post.  These barely budged after all day lounging in the chlorinated pool.  Waterslide and all! And nothing helps me feel more confidant in my bikini than a little eye liner. 
  4. Swimsuit(s).  I want to mention this because I believe no matter who you are, what size, color, gender, or alien race you are--you should be free to enjoy the water on vacation!  No sitting on the sidelines in your normal clothes because you don't want people to see you. You are amazing and beautiful just the way you are! Nobody is perfect and like every other non-perfect person at the beach/pool, you should enjoy your beach vacation.  Swim away in whatever swimwear you desire little Shine and Sparklers.  It's your vacation, you'll do what you want!  I do suggest bringing more than one, since it takes longer for them to dry in the humidity. Nothing grosser than putting on a damp swim suit in the morning...
  5. Sun glasses. Again with the sun protection, I know.  But really, you want to be able to read your book or look at things without hissing like a vampire caught in the sun.  It's really sunny folks.  I'm not kidding.
  6. Hair Ties.  If you have long hair, you will really want these to keep your hair from becoming knotted and tangled in the pool.  For medium-long hair, pony tails and if you can do braids/buns work great.  If you have really long hair like me, buns and braids are a must! 
  7. Deep Conditioning Hair Masque: All that time in the sun and water can really stress out your hair.  I highly suggest bringing along your favorite deep conditioning hair masque.  It will make life much nicer for your hair.
  8. One "Going Out" Outfit: Ok, so not something tight and clubbing-style like you would in Vegas, but maybe a casual pair of heels and a nice flowing dress or skirt top combination.  Just in case you decide to go to a nice Luau or upscale dinner.  Nothing in Maui is super over the top, but it's nice to have an option that isn't a bikini and shorts if you know what I mean.  
  9. Nail Polish Refresh Kit: If you are addicted to having your nails colored (like yours truly) bringing the tools to refresh your nails is a must.  All the water will chip your nails faster than a knife fight in a phone booth.  I suggest keeping it really simple with just a nail file, nail polish remover pads (like these pads from E.L.F*), and the polish.  I normally preach about the benefits of base coat and top coat (like in my "How to Get Salon Perfect Nails at Home" post), but for a refresh in the middle of your vacation, you don't want to be spending all that time.  Also, the humidity means nail polish dries much slower. 
  10. Intention to Unplug:  My last essential is NOT bringing your media everywhere!  Unplug for the day, everything can wait until you get back to your hotel room at least!  The day of surfing, swimming, and lounging don't need to be bothered by a constant barrage of media from life back home. Really take this time to escape, relax, and center yourself.  If you are on the vacation with others, enjoy your time with them in the moment.  Don't worry about if the rest of the world knows you are enjoying the moment.  Why do you think I missed a blog post *GASP*.    If you HAVE to bring your phone with you to take pictures, I really suggest putting it in airplane mode, to encourage you to avoid the addition to social media and really concentrate on the lovely vacation you are having.

I hope this "Top 10" list helped you out!  I thought it was kind of fun.  Generally speaking I get a bit annoyed with blogs that are always making "Top -insert arbitrary number here-" lists as a way to get people to click on things.  But I thought it might be a fun format for this post.  

Let me know in the comments or other social media if you also get annoyed with the whole "Top 24 Thing-a-ma-bobs For Picking A Wombat-Puppy Hybrid Pet or Your Nose" internet article trend.  And as always,

Shine & Sparkle!

*I am not paid or contacted by any of the companies mentioned in this post.  These are my honest feelings and opinions.  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

DIY To Make Your Lotion More Moisturizing!

Hi Shine and Sparkle Readers,

Thank you so much for tuning into this week's quick tip!  Do you have a lotion for your body or face that you wish would hydrate your skin more?  Did you buy a lotion that just doesn't seem to do much?  Here is my life changing tip to get the most benefit out of your lotions/moisturizers:

Add A Few Drops Of Your Favorite Pure Oil!
Depending on the dryness and how large an area you want to moisturize, experiment with adding a few drops of oil to your lotions.  This also works with hair serums! The most important thing is to make sure the oil has preferably only one ingredient--oil. Organic and fragrance free are best.  However, if you can't find certain oils fragrance free or organic, this will still work.

Also, start with only 1-2 drops of oil and see how you like the results.  You may want to add more or less depending on you skin type and condition.

Quick Warning:  If you plan to use make-up over your moisturizer, you might want to skip this tip because oils break down make-up.  This could lead to your make-up easily smudging or reacting strangely.

Suggested Oils:

  • Argan Oil (My favorite!)
  • Coconut Oil (My second favorite!)
  • Olive Oil
  • Almond Oil
  • Avocado Oil
  • Vitamin E Oil (This is often vitamin E suspended in soybean oil, so it's not my first choice, but it does work).
Hooray! Now you have a little tip on how to quickly make your skin that much more moisturized.

As Always,

Shine & Sparkle!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Thank You Shine and Sparkle Report Supporters!

Hi Shine and Sparkle Report Readers!

My GoFundMe fund raiser to promote the blog period has ended and I consider it a great success!  We collectively raised enough to have a short Facebook advertising campaign!  I will update you on how that goes soon!

It really means so much to me to have people who love and support this project of mine.  Your love, support, and readership mean so much to me.  Even if you were not able to donate, I still appreciate every single one of you!  There are a lot of exclamation points in this post, but I think they help express my gratitude and appreciation!

That being said, I promised a special thank you post for all those who (wanted to be listed) that donated to the campaign.  Those who donated enough for gifts should look forward to them arriving in the mail soon.

Thank you again!

P.S, Those who noted that I missed my Wednesday post last week, never fear, back to your regularly scheduled programming this week.

Shine & Sparkle!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Quinoa/Corn Pasta Healthy Stove Top Mac n' Cheese

Hi Shine and Sparkle Report Readers!

Today I have a super awesome and really healthy recipe I have adapted to make me feel much less guilty about one of my favorite foods.  Mac n' Cheese! Those of you who follow me on facebook/instagram/twitter will have seen these pictures before this recipe was up.  Oh, now you want to follow me on other social media? Go right ahead!

Quick Note: Quinoa/Corn Pasta (I use Ancient Harvest Elbows)* is great and won't leave you missing regular pasta at all!  Just make sure to only cook it for about 5 minutes (not the 6-8 recommended) or else your meal will be mush.

The "extras" in this picture of my Mac n' Cheese that is copyright of myself are all natural nitrate and preservative free ham and organic frozen peas.  If you'd like to use this image, please ask first.  Thanks!

Quinoa/Corn Pasta Healthy Stove Top Mac n' Cheese

1 pound Quinoa/Corn Pasta---This will be 2 boxes if you get the Ancient Harvest Elbows.
1 1/2 cups Unsweetened Plain Almond Milk---I use this because the Almond Breeze's Original Unsweetened Almond Milk, is only 30 calories a cup!
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour---I have not tried to substitute this, it's only 2 tbs.
2-3 cups Lite Cheese (shredded)---I suggest getting block lite sharp cheese in block form and shred it yourself.  The additives in shredded lite cheese are not so great.  Also, sharp cheese will pack more flavor for less cheese. My favorite is "Lite Celtic Sharp Cheddar" from Trader Joes.
1/4 teaspoon powdered mustard
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon of Pepper
Suggestion of Extras (cook before adding): ham, peas, broccoli, bacon, cayenne pepper for spice...anything!

1. Make Pasta--Prepare the pasta according to directions on box (only 5 minutes if using Ancient Harvest Elbows). When the pasta is done cooking, set it aside. Mini-Tip: It will not seem done at all.  Alternative pastas are very sensitive to heat, and the residual heat will finish cooking the pasta when you are making the sauce. 

2. Make Cheese Sauce--Begin by warming 1 cup of the milk in the saucepan over medium heat. Whisk the remaining 1/2 cup of milk and the flour until there are no lumps (NO LUMPS IS KEY!) When you start to see steam rising from the warming milk, whisk in the milk-and-flour mixture. Continue whisking gently until the milk thickens (about 3 minutes).

3. Add the Cheese--Turn the heat down to low (or completely off if you are using an electric stove) and begin mixing handfuls of cheese into the thickened milk. Stir in the salt, pepper, and mustard. Stir until all the cheese has melted. Adjust the seasonings to your taste buds.

4. Combine the Pasta, Extras, and Cheese Sauce: Combine the pasta, extras, and the cheese sauce. Stir until everything is well combined.

I hoped you enjoyed this easy and healthy comfort food recipe! Feel free to leave any comments or questions below.  I'll impart any useful cooking tips you might need!

Shine & Sparkle!

*I am not paid or contacted by any of the companies mentioned in this post.  These are my honest feelings and opinions. Also, I'm not a professional chef, just a cooking enthusiast!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ulta Beauty Haul and Mini Reviews!

Yo what's up Shine and Sparkle Report Readers?

So I love to see what other people decide to spend their money on when it comes to beauty stuff.  I also like the mini-reviews that tend to go with the hauls. So since I know I like it, I thought you might as well.  Without further ado, lets get started!


Repurchases (I obviously LOVE them since I'm repurchasing right?):

-The Balm Cosmetics Enroot "Moisturize My Hair" Shampoo*  (see post on this product here)
-Bastiste Dry Shampoo in "Wild" and "Blush" Scents were buy one get one 50% off, had to get 2 right? (see post on this product here)
-Paul Mitchel Tea Tree Shampoo and Conditioner "Special/Tingle" version.  I had the "Lemon Sage Thickening" version before.  I also love this one for more problematic scalp issue.
-Ulta Exfoliating Cotton Rounds are by far my favorite cotton rounds.  I only need one to take off all my eye make-up.  I also use them to apply my toner.  They have exfoliating side and regular side, depending on on how you are feeling that day.  They also stand up to being wet very well and do not shed bits of cotton all over your face. Hooray!
-Simple Cleansing/Make-up Removing Wipes are really nice.  They do not sting my eyes and are good on light make-up days or to cleanse my face when I'm being really lazy.  Since they were on major sale with the Simple "Radiance" Cleansing/Make-up Removing Wipes for Sensitive Skin, I got those too.  However, I have not had a chance to try them yet.  Considering how gentle the regular ones are, I'm interested if the "sensitive skin" ones are just as good or sacrifice effectiveness.

New Products (I just can't resist trying something new!):

-Maybelline "Pumped Up Colossal" Mascara in Water Proof is just ok.  I get waterproof mascara for my upper lashes because it typically holds are curl better than non-waterproof versions.  However, this was a bit disappointing because it did not hold a curl very well.  The volume from this mascara was ok, but nothing compared to Maybelline's "The Rocket Volume" Mascara.  If you are not as concerned with holding a curl and want a more natural volume look, I suggest this.  But I probably will not repurchase and will stick to "The Rocket Volume".
-Maybelline "The Colossal" Mascara in Water Proof.  I'm waiting for some of my other mascara to dry-up or need replacing to try this one.  But since I love "The Rocket Volume" so much, it's going to be a tall order for this mascara to live up to.  Let me know in the comments if you want me to do a mascara post in the comments!
-Essence "Get Big" Mascara got great reviews online and only cost $3.  I had to try it.  I think it is ok.  It is good for those who want to have a very subtle and natural look.  Gives lashes a little oomph, does not clump at all and is very smooth/does not smudge.  Not quite enough drama for my puny lashes, but people who naturally have more lashes or just want to darken their existing lashes should definitely check this out!
-NYX Cream Stick Blush in "Water Lilly" is a beautiful deep mauve pink.  For the summer I wanted a longer lasting blush that can stand up to some heat and complement my tanner skin.  This was perfect! Not greasy and easy to blend out.  I have used this by blending with my fingers and applying with a stippling brush.  Both worked great!  Setting this cream stick blush with a powder blush over it makes my blush last twice as long.  I'm a huge fan of these and will be getting more colors.  $6 well spent!

I hope you enjoyed this new type of review post.  I know I've introduced some new ways of reviewing (like my Product Empties Series of posts).  Let me know if you like them!

As always,
Shine & Sparkle!

*I am not paid or contacted by any of the companies mentioned in this post.  These are my honest feelings and opinions.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Healthy Green Breakfast Smoothie Recipe

Rise and Shine & Sparkle Dear Readers!  (get it?)

I have been on a bit of a clean eating binge.  One of the big changes I have made is making myself eating breakfast before I go to work.  Considering that I like to sleep in until the very last possible second, my adult life has rarely involved getting food in my tummy before arriving at work.  I have been able to successfully change this thanks to my “Shine and Sparkle Green Breakfast Smoothie”.  I find that doing this really jump starts my metabolism and energy for the day.  This single serve smoothie is also fast to make.  I can add all the ingredients to my Magic Bullet* the night before, then just blend for 30 seconds in the morning.  I like to make it pretty liquid in viscosity (just slightly thicker than an Odwalla type juice).  This really helps me chug all the nutrition I need in the morning in less than 2 minutes and also has the benefit of hydrating my body. 

The smoothie is packed with vitamins, protein, and even has some whole grains to make it a really great and well rounded breakfast.  And trust me, it tastes like tropical heaven.  Don’t let the green color scare you!

The Shine and Sparkle Green Breakfast Smoothie Recipe:

1 cup Fresh Spinach
½ cup Non-fat Plain Greek or European Style Yogurt
¼ cup fresh or frozen banana (using frozen fruit gives it a nice texture in my opinion, but both work)
¼ cup fresh or frozen pineapple
¼ cup unsweetened vanilla or plain almond milk
¼ cup of classic rolled oats
Water (about ½ a cup is what I like, but more or less determines how thick the smoothie is).

1) Add ingredients to blender.  If storing overnight in a magic bullet cup, make sure the wet ingredients and oats are at the bottom of the cup. Then add the fruit and spinach on top.  This prevents the spinach from wilting and lets the oats absorb some of the liquid over night and get soft and easier to blend.  If making right away, just throw everything in a blender.

2) Blend.

3) Drink.

So simple right?  I’m very happy with this smoothie.  The oats provide a nutty taste, extra fiber, long lasting whole grain energy, and keep you from getting hungry before morning snack/lunch time.  The spinach and fruits provide great vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and a great sweet taste.  The yogurt provides dairy calcium, probiotics, and protein.  When combined with almond milk, there is a lovely creamy element to the smoothie.  Winning!  The smoothie is also low in calories, so makes it a good option for those concerned about weight.  

Bonus:  Good nutrition not only keeps your body healthy, but it also helps promote beautiful hair, skin, and nails. Incorporating this kind of nutrition packed breakfast might just help improve your overall quality of life. 

Let me know if you try it, have suggestions of other yummy smoothies!

As Always,

Shine & Sparkle!

*I am not paid or contacted by any of the companies mentioned in this post.  These are my honest feelings and opinions.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Special Go-Fund Me Post

Hi Shine and Sparkle Report Readers!

I wanted to write a special post about my current Go-Fund Me campaign to Help Promote The Shine and Sparkle Report!

In April 2012, I started writing my first post on the Shine and Sparkle Report.  It has been an amazing experience so far.  I have gone from just a few friends coming through my blog, to people from around the world!  I started with one humble report a month to posting every Wednesday.  I have also received some amazing opportunities to review products.  I am so honored to have been accepted into the "Her Campus Blogger Network", where I connect with other beauty bloggers and continue to grow my audience.

I have embraced social media with a presence on Instagram, Twitter, Bloglovin', and Google+.  I even have business cards which I hand out like candy.  All of this has been working to build my viewership steadily every month.  In the almost 2.5 years of blogging, the site has seen a increase in monthly viewership every month.

After almost 2.5 years, I thought I'd take things to the next level and try and promote my blog by running an advertising Campaign.

This would be done through Facebook's paid advertising program.  Facebook allows me to promote my blog as well as my blog's facebook page.  My ideal scenario is to run a maximum-reach ad campaign (for both the facebook page as well as the blog) for 30 days.

If fully funded, this ad campaign can potentially draw:
1) A total of 540-1170 new clicks on my blog
2) A total of 540-2130 new "likes" on my facebook page

If over funded, this ad campaign can go on for more than 30 days!

The hope is that with the increase exposure, I can generate a larger repeat viewership and influence of my blog.

I thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for donating!

Shine & Sparkle!