Weekend Reading

Weekend Reading

Chad bought me the entire Harry Potter series for Christmas, so I’ve spent most of my reading time deep in the wizarding world; the books are fantastic, and I can’t believe I waited so long to jump into them! If you haven’t read the series yet, DO IT, no matter how old you may be.

In an effort to stretch out the magic and not devour all seven books at once — which isn’t really working because I’m about to start the sixth — I’m trying to pepper in new authors, fresh releases, and a bit of inspirational non-fiction. Here are a few of my latest Muggle reads that I really enjoyed!

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You Need A Biker Jacket In Your Life

You Need A Biker Jacket In Your Life

This faux leather number was an awesome find at Kohl’s for less than $60 several years ago. I scooped it up because it reminded me of a real leather biker jacket I saw on Cupcakes and Cashmere by Anine Bing, which at the time retailed for somewhere around my mortgage payment. It had similar quilted details and zippered sleeves with a slim fit, and happily fit in my budget at a fraction of the cost of the designer version. It’s still going strong as one of my favorite, hardest-working basics in my closet.

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First Impression: St Tropez Gradual Tan

First Impression: St Tropez Gradual Tan

I’m usually too lazy for the prep and upkeep involved with maintaining a good self-tan, and frankly, a bit gun shy after a few too many fake bake disasters. But on a recent trip to Sephora, my happy place where I go to de-stress and throw all my money away, I stumbled upon a St. Tropez display.

It was one of those artfully-arranged end caps that feature “must-have” beauty launches for the season. Those things get me every time; of course I need that $40 highlighter, and I’ll take three of these new nude lipsticks, too, thankssomuch! I found myself contemplating my pale legs and whether I should give sunless tanning another go…

The sales lady came over and chatted me up about the “amazing” St. Tropez Gradual Tan Everyday Tinted Body Lotion. She assured me it’s the best DIY tanning product for lazy amateurs like myself, and next thing I knew, I was 30 bucks poorer and back on the faux glow wagon.

Let’s break down my first impressions, and see how it lives up to it’s promises.

The claim:

(From Sephora’s website)

“For a beautiful, bronze glow that illuminates the skin, this ultra-hydrating body lotion is streak-free, easy to apply, and quick-drying. It delivers instant skin-perfecting coverage to blur imperfections and has no self tan smell, yet features a new mood-boosting fragrance. Reapply daily, or as desired, to build your depth of tan.”

I used it for the first time on a Friday night. If there were any major mishaps, I’d have two days to hide in my house and try to scrub off the evidence. To prep my skin I showered, exfoliated a little with a natural body scrub, and shaved my legs.

Easy to apply?

The formula is slightly tinted, which makes things a little easier because you can see where it’s going (on fair to light complexions). It has a really thick consistency, and takes some effort to spread evenly onto the skin.

Since it’s a gradual product, I wasn’t too precious with the application; I slathered it on like a body moisturizer and called it a night. I was careful to not overdo it on my hands and feet, and took several hand-washing breaks to avoid the dreaded orange palms. It was easy enough, and mess-free!

A note: The thick lotion has an oily slip, so it’s difficult to wash it off your hands as you go. Spring for the tanning mitt, and application should be a breeze.

Quick drying?


On the first night, I didn’t notice. I put on a ratty old robe, went to bed, and washed it off when I woke up. But a few days later, I applied it in the morning after I showered and waited.

And waited…

Maybe it’s the “ultra-hydrating” ingredients in the formula, but it left a residue on my skin that would not dry down. Since it wouldn’t completely set, the tint transferred onto my clothes, and I was afraid to sit on anything without a towel. I took another shower several hours later to scrub it off because I felt kind of slimy and gross.

For what it’s worth, I don’t like any heavy moisturizers that sit on top of my skin; I prefer fast-absorbing body oils for everyday hydration. If you’re cool with rich body butters and lotions, daytime application may not be an issue for you, but still be careful with the color transfer. I wouldn’t use it before going to an event; especially if you’re wearing light-colored clothing or there’s a possibility that you may have to sit on light furniture.

I’ll stick to nighttime applications.

Beautiful bronze glow?

For sure! First things first: There’s nothing gradual about this self tanner. I expected a similar color payoff to the Jergens Natural Glow I regularly slathered on in college — a slow-building “tan” that develops over several days with daily use — but the St. Tropez Gradual Tan Everyday Tinted Body Lotion darkened my skin by a couple shades on the first application.

I don’t have much patience for “extra” beauty rituals these days, and wasn’t stoked on the prospect of smelling like self-tanner all the time if I had to use it daily to get results, so the instant gratification is a win in my book.

The tint in the formula also gives an immediate illuminating bronzing effect that blurs imperfections, which is lovely,  but it will transfer to clothing. It seems to all wash off in the laundry, though.

No self tan smell?

I really dislike the smell of DHA, the ingredient in most self-tanners that reacts with the skin to darken dead skin cells and simulate a tan; it’s one of the top reasons I avoid sunless tanners altogether. St. Tropez added a “mood-boosting” fragrance to their formula to help offset the odor, but it’s definitely still there and lingers for a bit even after you wash it off.

If I had to judge the DHA scent of this product on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the strongest-smelling sunless tanner I’ve tried, I would give it a 5. It’s subtle enough that I don’t mind using it, and that’s coming from someone who’s super dramatic about the subject. ;)


This is where St. Tropez Gradual Tan Tinted Body Lotion gets all the gold stars from me. On the first overnight application, I woke up with a completely even, natural-looking glow. No streaks or patchiness, or stained elbows, knees or wrists. My palms were faintly orange, but that’s easily remedied with a tanning mitt.

My verdict:

Despite a couple gripes — this product doesn’t live up to its claims of drying quickly or having “no self tan smell” — St. Tropez Gradual Tan Tinted Body Lotion is probably the most foolproof sunless tanning product I’ve ever used with the best color payoff.

Since it develops into a pretty medium tan with one application, I can use it every 3-4 days to maintain the color. While some reviews I read complained that it fades to yellow, I find it fades evenly over several days without getting discolored or splotchy.

Is it worth $30? If you want a realistic-looking tan with minimal effort, I say… probably. I’ll keep you posted on how long the bottle lasts with regular use.


February Favorites

February Favorites

:: I ran out of my beloved Glossier Boy Brow last month, and wanted to find something similar with more product in the packaging since I go through it so quickly with daily use. I read good things about the Givenchy Mister Brow waterproof tinted waterproof brow filler, so I ordered it from Sephora, and it’s so good. It’s a long wearing liquid-to-powder tinted formula that fills in sparse spots and sets hairs in place in one step, so you can use it alone for a quick brow groom or pair it with your favorite pencil for extra definition.

:: I was on the hunt for a hydrating tinted lip balm to throw on during the day, and the Clarins Instant Light Natural Lip Perfector was a great find. It wears like a gloss, but isn’t the least bit sticky, and feels really nourishing.

:: The day after Valentine’s Day, we closed the flower shop a little early and went for team spa pedis. As usual, I stared at the wall of polish for at least five minutes — why do I always act like it’s as permanent a decision as a tattoo?! — before settling on OPI’s ‘Do You Take Lei Away, a creamy beige nude with a hint of pink. I loved it so much I ran to Ulta to buy a bottle, and I’ll probably wear it on repeat this spring.

:: After a few months of rocking SPF 50 nearly every day on my face and neck, my makeup stash needed an update. When you’re so pale you have to blend your base all the way to your chest to avoid a foundation line, it’s time to take action. I went to MAC to get color-matched, and when the artist freshened up my makeup after putting me in a new foundation, she used MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural in ‘Medium Tan’ to bronze me up. I already love that powder in ‘Light Plus’ to set my makeup, and she explained that the darker shade was a good match to my undertones so it looks like a natural tan when dusted around the perimeter of my face and down my neck. I can build it from a sheer wash of warmth to a full-on bronze, and the silky mineral powder is super easy to blend over any base — or just moisturizer! —  for “no makeup makeup” looks.

:: Cooking For Picasso by Camille Aubray is a multi-generational story with all my favorite things: art, food, magical scenery, romance, and coming-of-age. C and I went on a little staycation to our favorite resort over the weekend, and I needed something to read by the pool, so grabbed it from the library in a hurry on Friday afternoon because I thought the  cover was pretty. Sometimes judging a book by it’s cover works! ;)  I got completely lost in it for two days. I’m halfway through, and can’t wait to finish it up this weekend! Here’s the synopsis:

“The French Riviera, spring 1936: It’s off-season in the lovely seaside village of Juan-les-Pins, where seventeen-year-old Ondine cooks with her mother in the kitchen of their family-owned Café Paradis. A mysterious new patron who’s slipped out of Paris and is traveling under a different name has made an unusual request—to have his lunch served to him at the nearby villa he’s secretly rented, where he wishes to remain incognito.

Pablo Picasso is at a momentous crossroads in his personal and professional life—and for him, art and women are always entwined. The spirited Ondine, chafing under her family’s authority and nursing a broken heart, is just beginning to discover her own talents and appetites. Her encounter with Picasso will continue to affect her life for many decades onward, as the great artist and the talented young chef each pursue their own passions and destiny.

New York, present day: Céline, a Hollywood makeup artist who’s come home for the holidays, learns from her mother, Julie, that Grandmother Ondine once cooked for Picasso. Prompted by her mother’s enigmatic stories and the hint of more family secrets yet to be uncovered, Céline carries out Julie’s wishes and embarks on a voyage to the very town where Ondine and Picasso first met. In the lush, heady atmosphere of the Côte d’Azur, and with the help of several eccentric fellow guests attending a rigorous cooking class at her hotel, Céline discovers truths about art, culture, cuisine, and love that enable her to embrace her own future.

Featuring an array of both fictional characters and the French Riviera’s most famous historical residents, set against the breathtaking scenery of the South of France, Cooking for Picasso is a touching, delectable, and wise story, illuminating the powers of trust, money, art, and creativity in the choices that men and women make, as they seek a path toward love, success, and joie de vivre.”