Monday, March 21, 2016

Vegan Vanilla Mug Muffin

Greetings Sparklers,

Sorry I have not updated in a while.  But I recently got a sponsored offer to review Country Crock Buttery Spread*.  I'm usually a natural product kind of gal, but when life throws you free buttery spread, you might as well check it out right?   Compared to margarine *health-nut crowd boos loudly* this buttery spread has a smaller ingredient list and boasts being:

  • Gluten Free
  • 0g Trans Fat
  • No Partially Hydrogenated Oils
  • No Cholesterol 

I personally verified all the ingredients and I am also pleased to tell you that this product is vegan and  therefore also great for those who are lactose intolerant!  I was pretty impressed with the texture and rich buttery taste.  If you can't eat regular butter for some reason, this is a pretty great alternative!  With only 45 calories per tablespoon in the extra calcium/vitamin D version (like the one I got) it is pretty diet friendly as well.  It also comes in Original, Churn-style, or Light.  Also, at less than $4 ($3 on sale!) for 45oz, this is a very economic buttery option for those trying to save their pennies.

I couldn't leave you with a review of buttery spread without a recipe so here is one of my favorite quick and microwave friendly desserts!

Vegan Vanilla Mug Muffin:


  • 4 Tablespoons flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • ½ Tablespoon Country Crock Buttery Spread
  • 4 Tablespoons vanilla almond or soy milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • Add ins (optional): Chocolate chips, berries, nuts, etc.


  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Pour into greased mug (at least 16 oz mug to prevent overflow).
  3. Sprinkle a few optional add-ins on top of the the mix.
  4. Microwave on high for 1 minute 30 seconds (or 90 seconds) depending on the power of your microwave.

Hope you enjoyed this post!

Shine & Sparkle! 

*Hopefully it is obvious by the whole introduction to this post, but this is actually a sponsored post (so excited)! I received these products to review complementary from the company that produced them.  However, I have not received any additional monetary compensation other than the opportunity to try them and give you my honest thoughts.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

I'm Engaged!

Hi Sparklers!

Long time no chat.  I'm sorry that I haven't had time to update you all in a while, but here I am with a quick update about how I just got engaged!!!!! Sorry (not sorry) about all the exclamation marks.

So really quickly,  if you are completely uninterested in any post-able thoughts/updates I have on the wedding process feel free to just not read any of the Ms. (future Mrs.) Sparkles posts.

Future Mr. Sparkles just proposed Saturday so I'm still in glowing-mode and trying not to stress about the upcoming year of planning this thing.  But I'm pretty organized so I'm feeling good about it.  One resource I've been really loving is my "A Practical Wedding Planner" which was written by the amazing blogger of the blog A Practical Wedding: Blog.  If you are planning a wedding I highly recommend it.

That is my big announcement and all I have for now.  But hopefully more to come!

Shine & Sparkle!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

How to Dry Nail Polish Faster

Hi Sparklers!

I wanted to give you a quick tip this week that isn't about the Shine & Sparkle Report Jewelry Store!

For this quick tip I wanted to give you my 3 top tips for making each layer of nail polish dry faster. O previously did a post on how to give yourself a a salon-perfect manicure and other nail posts.

#1: Dip Nails in Ice-Cold Water:

Get a bowl of ice-cold water (no ice in it please, it will bump your nail polish!).  Dip your fingertips in it for about 30 seconds-1 minute (don't leave it in too long, you don't want it to hurt!).  Let your nails air dry. By the time the water dries, so will that layer of nail polish!

#2: Fan/Hair Dryer:

If water doesn't sound like your style, you can use a fan or hair dryer to increase air flow around the nail polish to dry it faster.  Just make sure the air is cold not hot!  Hot air will cause bubbling and will actually slow down the drying process.

#3: Nail Drying Spray/Drops:

While this seems like a great option, it really isn't as "instant" as they say it is.  I would still try and use tip #1 or #2 in between coats then spray after your top coat to seal in your nail polish because it will make nails sticky.  Hold the can about 5 in. away and spray the entire nail for 3 seconds (Make sure you don't hold the can too close, it will make your fingers freeze).  You are still going to have to sit for 10-15 mins to fully dry.  I would still be careful trying to do things like get dressed or do a lot right after the top is dry because the polish can still slide since the layers below are not as dry.  Overall, I like the Demert Nail Enamel Dryer* because it is inexpensive and effective.  Nail drying oil drops are essentially the same as spray, however it leaves your nails oily afterwards and applying drops of oil on your nails is a lot messier than a spray.  I personally prefer the spray, but feel free to use drops.  I've used O.P.I Drip Dry and found it acceptable as well.

I hope this quick tip helped you out!  Thank you so much for reading!

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 30, 2015

Chole + Isabel: Shine & Sparkle Glam Collection

Hi Sparklers!

Today I want to give you my first review to introduce you to one of the collections of jewelry I have curated for you Sparklers in the Shine & Sparkle Report Jewelry Store*!

I will be doing a series of posts about the collections of jewelry I've created, as well as from time-to-time introducing you to new collections or my favorite pieces.

As you can probably see from the title of this post, today, I'm going to be focusing on my favorite collection for obvious reasons-- Shine & Sparkle Glam!

This collection was inspired by my love of shiny and sparkly things (if this blog is any indication).  I was inspired by this blog to create this collection of jewelry that has lots of bling and a bit of a vintage-Hollywood feel.  I wanted these pieces to scream "Susan Sparkles".  I tried to put the things featured here at the top of the boutique, but you can easily use the "Search" boxes to see other color selections if you type in the name of a piece! Though I love all the pieces I picked for this collection, I'll highlight some of my personal favorites below:

If you are looking for a timeless and elegant piece of bling, this is one of my favorites.  I love it in this peach, champagne, and coral color combination with the antique plating--but it also comes in other great color combinations like Plum, Topaz, and Lavender as well as Teal .   These pieces have a wonderful high quality weight to them an exceptional detailing.  I love that this necklace has a little c+i bird at the end of the chain.  The bird even has a crystal for an eye.  Talk about detail!
  • antique rhodium-plated
  • nickel-free plating
  • 18" approx. length + 2" extender
  • lobster clasp
  • peach + champagne glass, coral resin

If you are looking for something more mid-range in price but still awesomely glam, this is on of my go-to pieces. It also feels luxurious to wear and can fit any personality.  I like that this can easily add a bit of sparkle to a day-time look and fit seamlessly into a full evening outfit--it's also fun to stack with other bracelets!  While I'm into the classic all silver look, this bracelet is also available plated in antique brass  or with blush glass crystals. Of course you can get matching earrings ($28) and matching necklace ($58) if you are into having a complete set of things.  These are easily found in the Shine & Sparkle Glam Collection in my store.
  • shiny rhodium-plated
  • nickel-free plating
  • 6.75" - 7.75" approx. length
  • toggle closure
  • clear glass

If you have less than $25 USD to spend on high-quality and Shine & Sparkle Report approved jewelry pieces, never fear! There are tons of earrings and rings that meet your needs.  However, I think one of the coolest items below $25 in the Shine & Sparkle Glam collection are these Celestial Frost Hair Pins.  These are perfect for going out this winter to see the Nutcracker.  You can also use them to spice up your usual hair styles with virtually no effort.  Pin back your bangs with these and your pony-tail is immediately super sparkle-tastic.  I love the art deco feel to these, it just screams glam!
  • antique rhodium-plated
  • nickel-free plating
  • 2" hair pins
  • light peach, crytsal AB + clear crystal

 I hope you enjoyed a bit more reporting on my Shine & Sparkle Glam Jewelry Collection!  Hopefully, you will like this series and think about adding some of these great pieces of sparkle to your own collections.  And don't worry, there will be plenty of your regularly scheduled blogging will be happening.  

As Always,
Shine & Sparkle

*The pictures from this blog post are from the Chloe + Isabel website.  I am compensated a percentage for each piece of jewelry sold.  However, I truly believe in these products and would never suggest you get something that I'm not 100% satisfied with myself--read more about my involvement with c+i here.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Chloe + Isabel: The Shine and Sparkle Report Jewelry Store Grand Opening

Hi Sparklers!

I'm SO SO SO excited to be announcing that The Shine & Sparkle Report is growing up and getting it's own Jewelry Store!  So excited that I'm posting for this week early.

If you don't want to hear me ramble about how much I love the quality and price points of the collections I hand picked for you Sparklers, Click the image below:

So how does The Shine & Sparkle Report Jewelry Store work?

Basically, I'm a merchandiser for Chloe + Isabel (c+i).  I have hand selected collections of amazing jewelry for you in my boutique.  When you purchase fashion jewelry pieces, I get a small portion of the profits to help further this blog!  For example, right now I'm featuring the following collections:

Shine & Sparkle Glam (my personal favorite!)

Sculpted Essentials

Vintage Inspired

c+i Best Sellers

Why am I so passionate about representing jewelry by Chloe + Isabel?

You know Ms. Sparkles, I never would put my name on anything I don't fully love and support!  I have received 14 sample pieces and I can tell you that this is hands-down, some of the most beautiful and high quality fashion jewelry I have ever owned.  I love that these pieces are finely-detailed and affordable!  Also, this jewelry is unique to c+i, so you won't be wearing the same thing as anyone else.
  • Each piece is hand-designed in the NYC studio (and produced at the same location that does jewelry for Neiman Marcus and other top designers), 
  • Each piece has incredible detail--branded with signature c+i closures (a little bird with crystal eye), and packaged in keepsake pouches.
  • All of jewelry is hypoallergenic, nickel-free, and lead safe (this is a Ms. Sparkles MUST!  I'm very allergic to earrings that are not surgical steel.  Luckily, all earrings from c+i are surgical steel and safe for me!)
  • Each piece has a lifetime replacement (if stones/crystals fall out, clasps break, etc) and 30-day money back guarantee.
  • From timeless to fashion-driven, pieces start at just $18!  
Because c+i take out the middle man and sell directly through merchandisers like me, the prices for very high quality fashion jewelry can be kept really low.  Most jewelry from c+i is made with high quality metals (like gold or silver), real crystals or semi-precious stones, and has gone through a rigorous quality control process.  Seriously, they throw and drop the pieces and man-handle them to make sure each pieces is durable as well as beautiful.

 I also just love that all the pieces are modern and perfect to fit any style.  From super intricate glam necklaces to simple birthstone stud earrings, there is something for everyone.  There is even a charm bracelet collection for all you charm lovers!

So enough rambling on about how excited I am to be representing and bringing Chole+Isabel jewelry to you.  I think you need to click the banner below and do some online shopping!

As Always,

Shine & Sparkle!

Quick Disclaimer: Unfortunately c+i can only ship domestically in the United States right now.  But I'll let you know as soon as this changes...I want all my international Sparklers to have a chance to get their hands on this stuff!

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Best Moisturizer/Sunscreen Combination Products

Hi Sunshine Sparklers!

It is bright and sunny in Northern California during our September Summer.  I am also realizing lately that I'm going on 30 years old and I'm going to have to step up my sun protection game in order to fight signs of aging.  So today I want to talk about my top 2 daily moisturizers that also have SPF (Sun Protection Factor--how many of you knew that SPF mean't this?)

Depending on how much sun I'm going to see that day, I choose one of these 2 moisturizer/sunscreen products when I do my skin care routine in the morning.

I will say that Supergoop* is better for when my skin is feeling extra dry.  Otherwise, I like to add a quick layer of powder to reduce the dewy look a bit.  If you like glowing dewy skin, this is the sunscreen for you.

Sorry this post is so quick and late.  Longer report-style posts coming soon!

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 26, 2015

Make-Up 101: Smokey Eye Make-Up Tutorial

Hi Shine and Sparkle Report Readers!

I recently did this blue smokey eye make-up look below and posted it on my instagram (which forwards to my facebook and twitter feeds--shameless hint to follow me on social media).

I actually got a few comments on this and thought that for this weeks post, I'd let you know what products I used to get this look (with little mini reviews of the products).  It's also a general report on how to get a smokey eye look.  Lots of people are trying out the blue smokey eye since the overrated Kim Kardashian wore it in a recent post.  However, feel free to be creative with your colors!

Here is a great eyeshadow diagram from* (so you know what I'm talking about in the instructions I give.  I also like that she has monolids (like me!) so it is easy to compare to my make up look.  Check out her post for all the basics to apply eyeshadow like a pro! is the source for this picture. If this credit isn't good enough, I'll gladly take it down! But it's just so useful to not reinvent the wheel on my blog when great blogger have done it before me...#amitoolazy?

Step-By-Step Blue Smokey Eye:

  1. Base of eyeshadow primer all over my eye area (up to the brow and even below my eye.  I like  Urban Decay Anti-Aging Primer Potion.  I love this stuff.  It's a bit pricey at $24 but it works great and I can't deny that I'm sucked in by the idea of not needing an eye cream on heavy eyeshadow days because of this product.  Killing two birds with one stone.  Hurzah.
  2. Covered my whole upper eye area with a wash of white eyeshadow (up to the brow) to make sure everything applies smoothly for the following steps.  I used Make Up Geek shadow in "White Lies" but any matte white shadow you like is fine.  
  3. Water proof dark blue eyeliner on the lid.  I used this as an additional base to make sure my shadow stayed exactly where I wanted it and to maximize the pigmentation on the lid.  I used the Marcelle Mini Waterproof Liner in "Blue Lagoon" because I got it in my BirchBox.  But again, any navy blue, waterproof liner will work great.
  4. Set with navy blue matte eye shadow.  More insurance that this bold eye look doesn't turn into a blue raccoon eyes/looking like you got punched in the face.  I use a blue powder eye shadow to set this.  I didn't want to spend a whole ton of money on blue matte shadow so I used a cheap one I had that I don't think is made anymore because I can't find it on google.  But you get the idea.
  5. Blend black matte eye shadow into the outer-v and crease.  This is a bit tricky.  It takes some practice to learn your eye shape and how to best blend the outer-v and crease to look right.  Start with less product and build up.  I used Make Up Geek shadow in "Corrupt".
  6. Used Highlight to highlight inner corner, tear duct, brow bone, and further blend the black.  To do this I used Make Up Geek shadow in "Shimma Shimma".
  7. Slightly Winged Liner on Upper and Lower Lash Line.  I used my all time favorite long wearing liquid liner for monolids by Clio (post here!).
  8. Blue eyeliner in the waterline.  I used the same liner as in Step 3 to line my water line.
  9. Curl Lashes. I might do a post on this in the future.  For right now, this is already a long post!
  10. Mascara.  I have a post on this! Phew!
  11. Done. 
The great thing about this Make-Up 101 post is that you can be as creative as you'd like with colors!  Have fun and experiment with this way of getting a smokey eye.  Hope you found this post interesting 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.