Thursday, July 31, 2014

The perfect CORAL :: Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-hr Blush in "TIPSY"

Yup. Writing about another Tarte Product :-) I have been using this particular blush non-stop these days!! The sunny beautiful days of summer are here and “Tipsy” looks so bright and happy that I JUST have to wear it. In fact, there are days when I tweak my entire makeup look so that I can flaunt "Tipsy" :-) Yes, I am talking about the much-loved Tarte Amazonian Clay 12 hr. blushes.

Ever since I started to watch Marlena (A YouTube beauty vlogger, in case you are wondering) and Makeup Geek videos which encouraged me to do a little bit of research on that particular shade, I have been itching to try it. But I was also concerned about the price tag! When I finally gave in and decided to buy it, it seemed to be "out of stock" in every Ulta and Sephora store near me. In short, I have lusted over this for a long time before I finally ordered it online from The retail price for these blushes is $26 for 0.2 oz. (5.6 g) of product. I think I scored it at $20.8 during some sale (as you can tell, I hardly pass on any sales). This is a top-notch product and I will happily pay $26 for this!

The blush comes enclosed in a simple plastic packet which I think is good at times. I always have hard time throwing away the beautiful light-cardboard outer packaging that generally comes with beauty products. This one I can easily throw away without any guilt (yes, I am weird ;-)) Anyway, the actual container is very simple yet elegant and quite sturdy. The lid opens completely flat and has a nice big mirror. The best thing is that the color of the container completely matches the blush inside; uber convenient to pick up the exact color from your stash. In the older packaging, these blushes used to have nice adorable design embossed on the lid with a round circle raised on the circumference. I absolutely LOVED the overall design. Apparently they have a new look, hence now it’s only the word "Tarte", which is far less appealing to my eyes. I know “pretty” packaging is not something that defines a product, but if it is costing me 26 bucks, I want it to look pretty damn good on the outside too! :-) Apart from that, how charming is the intricate "river" design engraved in the blush itself? Isn’t it super adorable? The design will wear off with usage but let me appreciate it while it lasts :-) Also, I have read in many blog posts that it goes on much more smoother once the design wears off!

Well, packaging aside, can we just talk about the quality? It's a very pigmented blush; texture wise very smooth and extremely easy to apply as well as to blend. As the name suggests it's a VERY long wearing blush; I generally get 7-8 hrs. of wear. Also, recently, on one lucky day I had a total of 11 hrs. of wear without any horrible fading :-) :-) Tarte has two finishes for their Amazonian clay range of blushes; matte and shimmers. Tipsy is matte. However when I compared it with "Flush” (which is a complete matte, blogged here) I do see a very few micro mini speckles of shimmer when I observe the blush rather closely; don’t worry the shimmer does not transform at all to the cheeks! 

With "Flush (I have the older version)", the very LIGHTEST swipe on the pan is enough. However with "Tipsy", I do need at least two standard swipes to get the color show up on my cheeks. It looks very flattering if you have similar skin tone like mine or even deeper! If your skin tone is paler than mine, you will need to use a VERY light hand. But it will definitely suit almost every skin toneOh wait, I have not yet describe the shade in words yet :-) It's looks very orange and a bit scary on the pan, but it is actually a very nice bright orangey-coral color. I love how flattering it looks on my skin tone.

  • Very pigmented and easy-to-blend.
  • Extremely long-wearing.
  • Tarte has a huge array of shades for this particular range of blushes!
  • Adorable and very practical packaging.
  • Tarte is a cruelty free brand and their products are made mostly from naturally-driven ingredients. I also appreciate that the products don't contain parabens, mineral oil, phthalates, triclosan, sodium lauryl sulphate and synthetic fragrance.
  • I can't think of one. However, I believe the pan is glued to the container. The pan on this blush started to move in the container. So I am a little concerned if it is weak or something. It's still intact though :-)

You can find Tarte blushes in SephoraUlta and at Tarte websiteTarte also offers their products in QVC from time to time. “Tipsy” is a wonderful shade, especially for medium olive-tan/Indian skin tone. And it’s just the perfect color for summer! I will surely use it throughout the year but I am pretty determined to make a big dent on my pan this summer :-) As you can tell, I am completely in love with these blushes and if I already don't have a dozen of blushes, I would try other shades!! :-) 

To be honest, I actually recently ordered one for my sister :-) (don't tell anybody ;-)Thank you again for stopping by; I sincerely hope it was helpful :-)


Monday, July 21, 2014

:::বিলাহী-মাছৰ টেঙাঁ (Tangy-sour Fish Curry):::

Time for another easy-peasy recipe :-)

Tangy-sour Fish Curry is a very very staple dish in Assamese household. If you are from Assam (a very beautiful state in India), you know what I am talking about! Or if you ever had an Assamese roommate, I am pretty sure that you have seen and tasted this delectable curry! This is one of the recipe that truly symbolizes Assamese cuisine! We love our tenga (tangy flavor) and we love our maas (fish); this is just the perfect marriage between them. Another bonus point: it's extremely easy and quick, my kind of recipe ;-)

Let's discuss the recipe! If you happen to read my last blogpost on "জিকা-মাছৰ জোল (Fish Curry with Ridge Gourd)", this essentially involves the same steps. Same ingredients including the spices but because of the tangy nature of tomato this falls under the "tenga(sour) curry” section. We prepare same kind of fish curries with Outenga(Elephant Apple) and Nemu(Lime) as well. It’s a very regular preparation for us, but this kind of sour curries are all the more appreciated during the hot and humid summer months in Assam! You can definitely make it without the fish, but I can guarantee you, with fish it just tastes divine! :-) I have tried other signature Assamese dishes with saltwater fishes that are more readily at my disposal; I have to say there is something more that can be only achieved when freshwater fish (like Rohu etc.) is used. But I have tried this tomato curry with Tilapia, Catfish and Salmon and I see the same result no matter what type of fish I use! Also, like almost all Assamese cuisine, potato is important to this curry. Some of the other recipes I shared here can be made and relished without adding the potato, but I feel this curry NEEDS potato :-)

Also, like I have previously said, I am a trial and error kind of cook, which entails that I do not follow strict measurement for recipes! I do better when I estimate :-)

Ingredients: Tomato (More tomato means more tangy :-)), Fish, Red chili, Bay leaves, Pas furon (five spices mix), Oil, Salt, Onion, Garlic, Ginger, Cumin powder, Turmeric powder, Potato, Coriander (optional), Green chili (optional) 
  • Marinate fish pieces with salt and turmeric for few minutes. Fry in your choice of oil or alternatively oven-bake.
  • I like to chop up the tomatoes lengthwise. The reason being -is  I love the tomato skin left away from the melted flesh in the curry after being cooked. I think it makes the gravy very textured! :-) You will also need to chop up onions, make a paste of ginger and garlic as well.
  • It's a good idea to pre-boil the potatoes. It saves the actual cooking time. Alternatively, I add the potato pieces a few minutes before the tomato as it needs more time to cook.
  • Heat oil in a pan; any oil will do. Because I make it so often, I mostly use extra virgin olive oil. But it tastes best with mustard oil. 
  • Once the oil is well heated, add dry red chilies, bay leaves, pas furon and chopped onions. 
  • Add potatoes at this time if you haven't boiled it already.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, it will start melting within 10 minutes. Unlike some other recipes I have shared here, this does not need that much stirring.
  • After few minutes add the ginger-garlic paste, green chili and salt. Stir for 2-3 minutes and add the turmeric as well as the cumin powder.
  • Keep stirring and once everything seems all blended out and cooked, add water and bring it to boil. 
  • Add the fish pieces; boil for some more minutes so that the flavor from fish blends in with the gravy.
  • Add coriander at this point. That’s it :-) :-) And it best served with rice.

I like this curry to be tangy; hence at times if it is not sour enough I add juice from half a lemon to increase the sourness. This recipe has been my “foolproof curry” from a long time, I always prepare this when I have friends over; it needs slightest attention so you can devote your time to more complex recipes. I also have very fond memories of cooking and enjoying this curry with my roommates from Tamil Nadu during the crazy busy days of “grad school”. They seem to really enjoy it :-) For me, it will always remain the perfect item to cook for days when I don't have much time or don't want to spend a lot of time in kitchen but still crave for some comfort food!!!

If you are an ardent follower of Assamese cuisine like me I am very sure that this curry makes a regular appearance in your kitchen too! If you are not from Assam and you love experimenting recipe from different cuisine, I sincerely think this will be an ideal recipe to try. It's super easy (Oh, I already said that :-) many times) and ingredients are so easily available. I know you will surely enjoy this curry!! :-)


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tarte: Beauty & the Box Amazonian Clay Eyeshadow Quad in "BEAUTY RESOLUTIONS"

This is the 4th time I am writing about Tarte products! That must say something about my love for Tarte Cosmetics. They have wonderful products that are derived from "good and natural" ingredients! That is a major reason behind my interest in Tarte! I have tried quite a few products and have never been disappointed with any of them. I love their butter lipsticks, Amazonian clay waterproof skinny liners, lights-camera-lashes mascara and LipSurgence Lip Lusters ("Pouty" reviewed here). And... their Amazonian clay blushes ("Flush" reviewed here) are to die for!! ;-) I have not tried any of their other eyeshadows, but this quad may be one of the Tarte products that have been the least impressive of all the items I have tried. But don't get me wrong, I still like it!!

They have a few different shades in "beauty & the box" quad series. It comes with 6.8 g (0.2 oz.) of product at a regular price of $22. But I bought it at a sale price of $10 from Tarte Cosmetics. That, for me is a definite bargain! And I don't think I will be very comfortable in paying $22 for this!

If you are familiar with the lightweight cardboard blush or bronzer boxes from Benefit Cosmetics, the packaging of this quad is exactly the same; but of a little less height and no mirror! The box has an artistic floral design printed on it. This design changes with each of the quad in this line; and the colors in the design resemble the colors inside. Clever way of correlating the inside & outside shades! It's a neat eye catching packaging but I am not sure if it will travel well. It just does not seem strong enough even though it has not suffered any damage yet to prove me wrong :-) But again, I have not travelled much with it. The shadows are placed adjacent to each other in the pan without any kind of individual boundary; with further usage the edges will definitely get messed up! But they are wide enough for you to put your brushes on there.

To me, the texture of these shadows is somewhat unique. It is not glittery and it certainly is not matte; when applied it gives a very pretty sheen which I like to describe as "pearly finish". I can definitely understand how some people can see the texture as "frosted". I don't have any other similar type of shadows, so I happen to enjoy it. These are decently pigmentedeasy to apply as well as blend and stay put for up to 6-7 hrs. I always use some kind of primer with my eyeshadows. There is little fallout when applying but definitely manageable! But compared to some other Tarte cult favorite items (think their blushes); I definitely think there is some scope for improvement in the quality of the shadows.

So, there are four shades (hence the name quad; silly me ;-)) I am not able to connect the names to the shades, but I really enjoy these weird yet adorable names!

Skydive: Champagne with a hint of pink. It looks more pinky in the pan and shows more beige-y when swatched! Perfect to brighten the inner-corner. It looks ashy on my lid, but if you have fairer skin tone than me, you can definitely use it on the lid.
Love More: For me, this is the most gorgeous shade in the palette. A very elegant golden olive-green shade. Looks absolutely gorgeous!
Recycle: This is a very muted greyish blue shade. I can also see a hint of olive in it (extra sharp eyes ;-), ha ha). I love blue eyeshadows, and if you can wear gracefully, blue looks amazing on brown eyes!
5k: Quirky name right? Another gorgeous shade! It's a subtle lilac color. Another of my favorite color, in the entire universe. :-)

You can surely create different eye looks from this palette, but I do need to use other matte shades for 'blending' or 'using in the crease' purpose. This is not a big negative for me as I believe the quads are not designed to be "self-sufficient" as their primary purpose. If you want to complete an entire look without messing with a few different eyeshadow pans, singles or palettes, this might not be for you. But it has definitely been a nice addition to my collection.

  • Easy to apply and blendable.
  • Very beautiful shades
Cons: These are not exactly cons but definitely there is some room for improvement.
  • The regular price is a bit steep.
  • Not an all-around travel friendly palette.
  • Little frosty kind of texture; may not be up to every body's liking.

If you keep an eye on, the quad is available in Sephora, Ulta and Tarte Cosmetics from time to time. But I don't think it's available at this moment. To be honest, I picked this up only because it was on sale and I needed another item to get to the "free shipping" limit (For some reason, I simply refuse to pay shipping charges :-) !) and I have no regret that I bought it. I use it and like it. However, keeping in mind the price and quality, I am not sure if I will be curious enough to pick up the other shades!! :-)

Hope it was helpful. 


Friday, July 11, 2014

Deborah Lippman Nail Lacquer in "Mermaid's Dream"

I am not a huge nail fanatic so it's difficult for me to believe that I am writing about a nail polish in my blog. Like every other little girl, nail polish was one of the very first makeup items that I and my sister started with. Since then it has been a constant part of life, however small may be! That might be a reason why nail polish was never inspired me to jot down my feelings! Well, not until I got this baby in a kit from Sephora. And with a name like "Mermaid's Dream" how can I not feel inspired? So, here you go! :-)

Deborah Lippmann is a reputed celebrity manicurist who is much acclaimed in the beauty and fashion industry. She has her own line with a huge array of long wearing nail lacquers and high quality nail treatments. Fun fact: Music was her first love which is clearly visible in the fact that the names of the nail polishes are inspired by popular song names. Neat, right?

This deluxe size polish came in with few other awesome products in the "Summer Stash" kit from Sephora which is priced at $45. This polish weighs 0.27 oz. The full size product retails at $20 for 0.5 fl (15 ml). So this is more than half the size of the full size product, so I believe I got it at a good price. I don’t think I will ever be comfortable in paying $20 for a nail polish, hence this mini polish works best for me at a much fair price. The packaging of the tube is solid and very beautifully crafted! I like the curvy design, it seems to be a unique one for a nail polish. I like how slim is the handle, it makes it easier to apply! The brush is a regular one, slick and of regular width :-)

It is a textured nail polish so it feels mildly rough when you touch it. It’s a turquoise blue shade with tiny little speckles of dark and light blue. These speckles look absolutely beautiful when lights hit them. Overall, it's a gorgeous shade! Very gorgeous :-) I need 2 coats to get an even application; with one coat it showed off a bit streaky and 3 coats it gets a little too thick which I personally don’t prefer.

I used "Sally Hansen Double Duty Base & Top Coat" with which it generally lasts for 4 days before I start to see minor chipping on the 5th day. Sometimes, I have seen minimal chipping on the 3rd or 4th day! But the good thing is it chips off gracefully, if you know what I mean :-) I can easily get off without needing re-application for a week. However on 2-3 toe nails it disappeared entirely on the 2nd day. That was very mysterious ;-) I think I applied more base coats because it perfectly last for LONG time when I applied without any base....ha ha!!! 

How adorable and how very appropriate is that name "Mermaids Dream"? I am little obsessed with product and shade "names"! I often wonder about the people who get to choose these’s a cool job right? Anyway just like Deborah described the shade in her website, the shade, the speckles and the texture reminds me of the sea and of relaxed time. It makes me really happy and full of joy!! :-) It is a wonderful nail lacquer and I am totally loving my "Mermaid's Dream". I am sure you will enjoy it too, if you are going to pick it up, or in case you already own it :-)

Deborah Lippmann nail polishes are available in Ulta, Sephora, Nordstrom and a few other stores. Hope it was helpful and thank you for stopping by!! 


Thursday, July 10, 2014

জিকা-মাছৰ জোল (Fish Curry with Ridge Gourd)

This was a staple in our household back home, and now it has firmly taken a place in my kitchen too. I religiously prepare this fish-curry at least twice a month. I know, I know it’s not a BIG number but you may already know, I am a lazy cook; for the most part :-), so I end up cooking only every other day. That and between my work tours, I think twice a month is frequent enough.

Let me talk about the main vegetable of this curry, Ridge Gourd. In my mother tongue (Assamese), we call it "Jikaa (জিকা)". I am not really sure if this is a familiar vegetable outside India, but it's definitely popular in India. It has thick dark green skin which you need to remove and spongy white flesh with seeds inside. Don't worry, the seeds are not much of a problem. You can see in the picture that there are some spikes on the outer skin :-) ; I remember my grandfather teaching my mom that if the total number of spikes is odd, the taste is going to be bitter. Bitter jikaa is not desirable :-) I am not sure how to describe the taste of this vegetable though! From childhood, I have enjoying jikaa prepared this way, so for me "jikaa" exclusively relates to this curry. I love exploring different recipes and flavors but I am not sure if I would ever want to try 'jikaa' in any other way :-), This recipe is typically made as a Fish curry but you can of course make it without the fish as well. And yeah, any kind of fish should work. Back home, we get very small freshwater fishes, with which this recipe is simply delicious!

Anyway, let's discuss the recipe. It's pretty simple, quick and easy. It also needs very less supervision; which means it's one of those recipes that is very hard to mess up :-) The great thing is that once you get the hang of this recipe, you can simply replace jikaa with vegetable like Pumpkin (Rongalao), Bottle Gourd (Panilao), tomato etc. Recipe remains exactly the same, but you get to taste very distinguished flavors with each of the different vegetables. This is one of the reasons I love authentic Assamese food. We use minimal oil and spices, and the taste of the vegetable stands out very distinctly rather than being masked by hundred different spices!

Ingredients: Red chili, Bay leaves, Pas furon (five spices mix), Oil, Salt, Onion, Garlic, Ginger, Cumin powder, Turmeric powder, Ridge Gourd (jikaa), Fish (optional), Potato (optional), Coriander (optional), Green chili (optional)

  1. First you will need to clean the vegetables. It is easier if the spikes are peeled off first, you can then easily peel off the rest of the outer skin. 
  2. Once you get all the hard dark skin out of your way, chop the inner spongy flesh into really small pieces. Smaller the pieces less time it needs for cooking.
  3. Make a paste of ginger, chili and garlic. Chop some onions.
  4. Marinate the fish pieces with salt and turmeric for few minutes. Fry in your choice of oil, make sure it is well fried or alternatively, you can oven-boil it too! (Confession: I used the remainder of the frying oil for the preparing the curry as well).
  5. Heat up oil in a pan. I use olive oil when I am trying to eat extra healthy and for the days when I want a more authentic flavor I use my beloved mustard oil. 
  6. Once the oil is well heated, add dry red chilies, bay leaves, pas furon (careful with the splattering!) and chopped onions. 
  7. Add potatoes at this time, I don’t know why, but potatoes here take much longer time to cook. So it needs to go into the pan before the jikaa.
  8. Add the jikaa when the onion turns golden in color. Keep stirring and after few minutes add the ginger-garlic paste with green chili and salt.
  9. Continue stirring from time to time. You will see the pieces losing shape and melting to a gravy-like consistency. 
  10. When the potato is cooked, add water and bring the gravy to boil. Although potato is optional, I like how it helps making the consistency better, every time.
  11. Add the fish pieces; boil for some more minutes so that the flavor from fish blends in with the gravy. You can add coriander at this point. 
  12. Your curry is ready.

This is one of my extremely favorite foods and I love it with rice. It's actually best served with rice. But have it with roti, with rice or simply the curry; however you may like it :-)

Hope you it was helpful! 


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Diving into Summer: My CORAL/ORANGE Lip Shades!

When I went to India last October for vacation, I spotted an extremely unconventional lipstick color in my sister's vanity. If you happen to read my very first beauty blog post, you may know that I was not THIS addicted to beauty and makeup few months back :-) Anyway that was an orange lipstick from Avon. I tried it and loved the effect so much that I wore it exclusively for the rest of my one-month vacation; I really did not care a lot if the orange color went well with my vivid and colorful Indian outfits :-)

So, basically my sweet little sister is responsible for giving me the "Orange Obsession". They say that spring-summer is all about orange lipstick; about being bold and sexy! I totally agree, but because I love the look I may wear orange (or coral for that matter) anytime I please :-) The colors that I own are not straight-up orange (like MAC Morange) as they tend to make my teeth appear more yellow. I found out that orange-hinted Corals suits me better than true oranges. Let's see what I have here!

Bite Luminous Crème Lipstick in "CIN CIN": This is my most loved one among the bunch. Actually this is one of my very favorite lipsticks in my dangerously growing collection of lip shades. Sephora describes the color as Tropical Coral. It’s a bright coral shade, sometimes it appears as a neon like-pinkish-orange on me depending on the lighting. I think it really compliments my skin tone. Bite is an all-natural brand and the lipstick is very moisturizing, highly pigmented and very long wearing! I simply adore it. I also love the sturdy minimalistic packaging; specially their unique choice of color for the tube :-) This costs $24 in Sephora for 0.15 oz. of product; definitely an expensive buy but worth every penny. I have a detailed blog post about it here, if you are interested :-)

Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in "KISS ME CORAL": This was my very first orange/coral lipstick I bought for myself. I got it in Walmart in November, soon after being back from the vacation to India. (You know that addictive feeling, right?) And yes, I wore it last December when in Las Vegas for an epic trip with my friends. If you love it, don’t worry about seasonal trends... :-) Anyway, I must admit that this is one of the very easy-to-wear bright colors in my collection. The keyword is "easy-to-wear"! It’s nicely pigmented and gives me a decent wear of 2.5 to 4 hrs. before fading; and wears off nicely. This shade is more orange-y than "Cin Cin", but definitely has the coral feel. I use this shade for days when I want to wear orange but not willing to put extra effort/don’t have much time to spare in lining the lips or getting a super even application (which is the case for the Bite one). I just slap on 1-2 coats of this to get bold beautiful lips without any fuss. Plus you cannot beat the price! It has simple and effective packaging and I love how you can peep through the clear top of the cap to see the color. It’s a drugstore product, hence the price varies from store to store from $5 to $8. You can get it in Ulta or in Walmart, Target, Walgreens, QVC, Rite Aid etc.

Revlon Colorburst Lip Butter in "TUTTI FRUTTI": If you are just staring out and unsure about how orange may look on you, this is just the perfect color to try. It’s comparatively affordable, easily available and acts as a nicely pigmented lip balm. It goes on sheer but definitely much more "orange-y" than the others in my collection; so you can test if orange suits you while also moisturizing your lips :-) I love the packaging as well. The tube is of the exact same color as the lip butter and I like how thin the actual tube is...very sleek if you ask me :-) I also found another use of this. Whenever I wear Bite Can Cin or the Revlon one and I have a long-outdoor-kinda day ahead of me, I put this in my purse for touch up. More than often I fear that my precious lipsticks will melt down in the heat; this acts as the perfect lip color, it moisturizes and perfectly touches up my lip color while my lovely shades sit safely at home. This costs around $6 to 9$ depending on the store. It’s available in drugstore as well as in Ulta. Nice thing about Revlon is that they have nice BOGO (Buy one Get one) sales and other offers quite often.

Essence Lipstick in "MISS PEACH": To be frank, I don’t care much about this one. I actually ordered it in Ulta just to reach 50$ free shipping mark :-) For the price, I have nothing to complain about. It’s a peachy coral sheer shade with some visible glitters. Frosted lipstick is not my favorite but I guess I did not notice it before ordering. I don't wear it often, but yeah, while going out for a quick grocery shopping or some running-errand trips, I wear it above my nude lipsticks. I feel it brightens up my entire look :-) I bought it at half the price, but it retails at 2.99$ in Ulta. The packaging looks a bit flimsy, but I guess its ok at that price point.

Honorable mention: I could not complete the post without mentioning Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain (that is a mouthful! :-) ) I bought this in the shade "Rendezvous" for my sister. I did not open it before sending it to my sister in India, so my apologies for not being able to show swatches. My sister has the same skin tone as me, and she is really loving that. Oh they also came out with new matte balm in the color "audacious" which looks like a "TRUE" orange; if you are looking for one.

I generally use a simple automatic lipliner in the shade "Scarlet" from Ulta brand with these lip shades. The one in the picture is orangey-red (from Jordana) which also acts well if you want the color to pop more. While it's a scary color to wear, but if you find the perfect shade and type, I believe there is an Orange/Coral Lip color for every one :-) no matter what is your skin tone. Try orange; its fun!! 

Hope it was helpful.