beauty

best of beauty 2018

It’s that time of the year again! This past year was especially important in terms of skincare and makeup routines. Since I was pregnant, I wasn’t sure which products might break me out so I stuck with a very simple routine, didn’t really try anything new, and was happy to see that my skin balanced itself out and I thankfully did not break out. Pregnancy hormones actually evened out my skin and I am still breakout free. These are all products I swear by and would recommend to anyone to try!

Best in Skincare:

best makeup remover LANCÔME Miel-En-Mousse Foaming Cleansing Makeup Remover with Acacia Honey

best facial scrub– CAUDALIE Deep Cleansing Exfoliator

best facial moisturizer– KIEHL’S SINCE 1851 Ultra Facial Cream

best facial sunscreen– MD solar sciences   

best anti aging product- Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II

best facial oil-KIEHL’S SINCE 1851Midnight Recovery Concentrate

best facial mask – KIEHL’S SINCE 1851Turmeric & Cranberry Seed Energizing Radiance Mask

best eye cream– FRESH Rose Hydrating Eye Gel Cream

best facial mist- Fresh antioxidant facial mist

Best in Makeup:

best lipstick –NARS Powermatte Lip Pigment in American Woman 

best lip gloss – Mac Lipglass in Best Teddy

best lip balmNivea kiss  of milk and honey

best blush- Nars Orgasm 

best eye shadow paletteTARTE Tarteist™ PRO to go Amazonian Clay Palette

best eyelinerMac modern twist kajal liner 

best mascaraLancome Hypnose 

best concealerNARS Radiant Creamy Concealer

best tinted moisturizer: NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30

best foundation– BOBBI BROWN Skin Foundation SPF 15

best makeup brushes- real techniques

Best in Hair:

best shampoo and conditionerTresemme Keratin Smooth shampoo and conditioner 

 favorite body products:

Favorite shower gel: Aveeno Skin Relief Nourishing Body Wash, Coconut

Favorite shower oil: L’Occitane Almond Shower Oil

Favorite body cream: Shea Butter Ultra Rich Body Cream and a recent favorite AERIN Beauty Rose Hand & Body Cream

Favorite hand cream: Almond Delicious Hands and Roses et Reines Hand & Nail Cream

Best fragrance: 

CHANEL COCO MADEMOISELLE Eau de Parfum

What are your beauty favorites? What has made a significant difference in your skincare or makeup routine? Please let me know in the comments!

 

Sincerely,

Surleen

Uncategorized

cream of mushroom soup

I recently had an afternoon to myself and went to this spot for lunch. I ordered the mushroom soup followed by a cappuccino. I thoroughly enjoyed every bite and every sip of my meal. I love this place because not only do their pastries extremely well, but the savory options are delicious! I also find that though they have a few different locations throughout the city, the quality and service is consistently great.

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lunch for one at Maison Kayser

I was so inspired by the soup I had that I couldn’t stop talking about it to my husband, who then suggested that I try to recreate it! I found a recipe which seemed like it would give me a very similar result. I could not be happier with how this turned out. It has lots of flavor (and very little cream). In fact, I used half and half instead!

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dinner for two at home 

Ingredients:

1-1/2 lb of Wild Mushrooms

1 Onion, chopped

3 Cloves of Garlic, diced

3-1/2 cups of vegetable Stock

1/4 cup of half and half

2 Tbsp of Flour
Few Sprigs of Fresh Thyme or 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
Splash of Marsala
3 Tbsp of Unsalted Butter
2 Tbsp of Freshly Chopped Parsley
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Preparation:

    • 1) Add the butter in a large pot and preheat it over medium-high heat, add the butter and allow it to melt.
    • 2) Add the mushrooms, onions and garlic and cook for 7 minutes or so or until the veggies begin to cook down and develop some good color.
    • 3) Meanwhile, bring one cup of water to a boil and add it to a small bowl along with the dried porcini, set aside and allow them to steep for about 5 minutes, remove from the liquid and give them a good chop, set aside.
    • 4) Add the flour to the mushrooms and stir in for 30 seconds, deglaze with the sherry (or omit it completely) add the chicken stock, chopped porcini, porcini “stock” (minus the very last tablespoon from the bottom of the bowl) and thyme, bring to a boil, turn the heat down to low and simmer the soup for about 45 minutes.
    • 5) Remove the thyme stems, add half of the soup to a blender and puree until smooth, add it back in the large pot with the remaining soup, add the cream, season with salt and pepper to taste and simmer for just a minute.
             6) Stir in the fresh parsley when you’re ready to serve!

Notes- Do not skip blending half of the soup- it makes the soup velvety smooth and the unblended portion of the soup gives it lots of great texture.

The chopped parsley at the very end is a must as it adds the freshness which this soup needs, otherwise the flavor is a bit too rich

I served this alongside some toasted crusty French bread, but some croutons would be very nice here as well. My soup at the restaurant was served with croutons and some bread on the side (like I said, they just do it right).

What is your all time favorite soup?

Sincerely,

Surleen
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food

pumpkin walnut black bean chili

Let’s hear it for Soup Season!!!! Yayyy!!! Nothing says comfort in a bowl like piping hot chili on a cold day. When I saw that this recipe had pumpkin and walnut, I never would have thought it would work- but trust me, this chili is amazing!! The most unexpected ingredient for me here is the walnuts, they add a nice crunch and texture. The longer this cooks in the slow cooker, the better it gets! Go ahead and try this chili the next time you want a hearty bowl of deliciousness- it’s super easy to make.

recipe adapted from pinch of yum 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 28-ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • half an onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups walnuts, chopped
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 can of corn
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoons taco seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 6 cups water or broth (refill the tomato can about 2x)
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 14 oz cans black beans
  • 1-2 diced carrots

Add at the end:

  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

HOW TO MAKE

To Start: Place all the chili ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on low for 3-5 hours or until your chilli has reached desired consistency. I checked mine a few times in between and cooked for around 4 hours. The carrots took the longest to soften.

To Finish: Stir in the  walnuts. Serve with avocado, lime wedges, cilantro, tortilla chips, rice, cornbread… whatever you like with your chili!

Note- You can use whatever veggies you like, for example, celery, red or green peppers. Also you can substitute the black beans for chickpeas, kidney beans or cannellini beans or even use a combination!

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What is your favorite Fall dish?
Sincerely, 
Surleen 
lifestyle

newborn essentials

As a first time mama (to a human baby) I wasn’t sure what we would need for Baby’s arrival and what we’d actually use once she was here. These are the items we use every day and they’ve made our lives a lot easier as parents of a newborn. Most of these were on the baby registry but some we purchased later on, based on her needs. We’ve been using these nonstop for the past several weeks and love them!

Here is a list of my newborn must haves:

peanut changing pad 

swaddle sleep sack 

multi purpose burp cloths 

water wipes 

Dr. Browns bottles 

tub 

boppy pillow

muslin blankets

onesie shirts 

milk snob 

dodo babies bibs

Target clothing

bottle drying rack  

memory book 

milestone blocks 

 

Sincerely, 

Surleen 

 

 

 

good reads

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

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This book caught me by surprise. I started reading it towards the end of my pregnancy and continued reading it the first week we brought baby home. I wasn’t really into it at the beginning but the vulnerability of the protagonist is something that I connected with.   I also enjoyed how each chapter has been set in a different location, based on where his travels take him, from Paris to India to the Sahara desert,  I enjoyed the plot as well, which for me it wasn’t until finishing the book that it is simply a love story. I highly recommend this if you’re looking for something on the lighter side and you can’t commit to a long read. I think this book will always have a special place in my heart because it will always remind me of those first few nights at home with Baby.

What are you currently reading?

 

Sincerely, 

Surleen 

beauty · food · good reads · lifestyle

five ways to take care of yourself- my self care routine

As a (very) new mama, I find it’s even more important to carve out some time each day to take care of myself. Here are some things that I’ve been doing to get in some me time and do the things that I enjoy, now that our daughter is here. Honestly though there are some days when I would rather just stare at her all day and take photos and videos!

  1. I  love making myself an iced coffee every morning, or an iced espresso mixed with a protein shake. I really enjoy starting my day this way and will usually check my emails and write out a plan for the day.
  2. Once I get out of the shower in the mornings I like to use either the bare minerals complexion rescue or the nars velvet matte. I just use a small amount, especially when I know I’m not going out. Each of these has an SPF so it’s the only product I need to use on my face. One step and I’m good to go for the day.
  3. I started going back to the gym for a light workout each morning. I am not there for long and haven’t been doing anything intense yet, but it feels great to move and have that time to myself at the gym.
  4. I love to read so much and can’t imagine not doing that now. So every evening, I give myself a few minutes, even if I only get to read a few pages at a time. I’m currently in the middle of Less by Andrew Sean Greer.
  5. Once in a while I like to do a little pampering, whether it’s a face mask at home or going out to get a manicure pedicure. I think having some time to pamper yourself just helps you to feel more like yourself. I’m currently loving this face mask by Fresh and this nail color by essie.

 

 

good reads

book haul

We recently  found ourselves at one of my favorite bookstores, The Corner Bookstore on the Upper East Side. They have a unique selection, always have great recommendations and a wonderful children’s book selection. Here is what we picked up for ourselves and of course a few for the little one on way! I don’t think it’s possible for us to walk into a bookstore and leave empty handed…there’s nothing like a new book!

My picks:

Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

free food for millionaires by Min Jin Lee

His picks:

why buildings stand up by Mario Salvadori

the arab of the future by Riad Sattouf

For little peanut:

the carrot seed by Ruth Krauss and Crockett Johnson

the night gardener by Terry Fan and Eric Fan

ocean meets sky by Terry Fan and Eric Fan

 

What are you currently reading?

Sincerely,

Surleen

 

 

good reads

the nest by Cynthia D’aprix Sweeney

I had purchased this book from the bookstore after having seen it on so many bestsellers lists and was excited to pick it up. Before I start reading a book I usually like to read some reviews on Amazon. To my surprise, this book had nearly 3000 reviews and the ones that were most recent were pretty much all negative. Some even went as far as saying that this was the worst book they had ever read. Needless to say, I was influenced by the reviews and decided to return the book. I found myself at Barnes and Noble a few days later, receipt in hand all set to get this book off my hands. A friend of mine asked why I was returning it and I told her all about the horrific reviews. She then suggested I read the first page or so before letting go of the book. Well that’s exactly what I did and guess what? I was hooked from the first sentence!

Lesson learned, I won’t go by the reviews anymore. If the synopsis sounds interesting and if the first page or two grab my attention, or if the author is someone whose work I enjoy, I’m going to give the book a fair chance.

I highly recommend this book for its character and plot development, unpredicabtility and the fact that it’s set in New York. I find many of the characters relatable and realistic. Overall the book was a pleasure to read. If you like books like Freedom by Jonathan Franzen and Modern Lovers by Emma Straub, I am pretty confident you should add this one to your TBR list.

 

Sincerely,

Surleen

food

no bake peanut butter bars

There is nothing more delicious than the combination of peanut butter and chocolate and there’s nothing better than not having to turn on the oven on a hot summer day! I hope you give these no bake peanut butter bars a try. They have become a staple in our fridge during the summer months. They are perfect to take along to a bbq or picnic!

recipe courtesy: the pioneer woman 

Ingredients

Filling:
  • 2 sticks salted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 1 cup chunky peanut butter 
  • 2 cups powdered sugar 
  • One 12-ounce box vanilla wafers
  • One 12-ounce bag mini semisweet chocolate chips (I use regular sized if I can’t find the minis)
Frosting:
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter 
  • 1/2 cup chopped peanuts 

Method:

For the topping: Using a double boiler or a microwave, melt the chocolate chips and creamy peanut butter. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes while you make the bars.

For the bars: Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan with some butter. Using a stand or electric hand mixer, mix together the butter and chunky peanut butter until smooth. Stir in the powdered sugar a cup at a time.

Add the vanilla wafers to a food processor and process until they are in crumbs. Then add the crumbs and mini chocolate chips to the peanut butter mixture and mix until just combined. Spread it evenly into the buttered pan and set aside.

Pour the topping over the base. Spread it out evenly and sprinkle over the chopped peanuts. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, then cut into 20 bars.

Keep refrigerated, as the bars and chocolate will soften at room temperature.

 

Enjoy!

Sincerely,

Surleen

 

lifestyle

erin condren planner

As a planner addict, I love getting my hands on the newest planners out there so it comes as no surprise that I had to get the new Erin Condren life planner! I’ve been using Erin Condren planners for years now, both the life planners as well as the teacher planner. I really enjoy the customizable options, the variety of layouts to choose from, and not to mention how pretty they are! This time I decided to go with a vertical layout in the life planner and added the baby tracker petite planner since we have a little one on the way:)

I love that this planner starts in July 2018 because my current planner finishes at the end of June and I like to start my planners at the beginning of the summer since I work at a school. Planning my year academically makes most sense for me.

Here’s a look at my new life planner:

 

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Here is that the baby tracker looks like:

 

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Do you have a planner? Are you part of the “planner community”? I would love to know what planner you use and how you keep yourself organized!

 

Sincerely,

Surleen