Home-made Mexican Pizza


, , ,

I recently had a get-together for friends belonging to multiple cultures and countries. While deciding the menu, I was conflicted on what to serve. Should I go Indian to give them a taste of my culture? Or should I go multi-national? Would they like some spice? Would they want something mild? It wasn’t easy. Then I got to thinking – we all love pizza, AND we all love Mexican food. So I thought why not combine the two for a “Mexican Pizza” for an appetizer? I came up with this recipe and it came out great! The ingredients can obviously be catered to individual needs and preferences. The beauty of this pizza is it tastes great every time – I used cherry tomatoes ‘coz that’s all I had at hand, and it came out wonderful!


What you need:

Frozen or pre-baked pizza base
Black Olives, sliced
Jalapeños, chopped
Bell peppers, sliced
Tomatoes, chopped
Shredded Mexican cheese blend
Refried Beans
Sour Cream

The Method:

Preheat the oven at 450 F.

Spread refried beans on the pizza base, and cover with shredded cheese.

Layer all of the vegetables on top. The ingredients are just a guideline – any favorite veggies can be used.

Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.

Top with more shredded cheese.

Bake for about 10 minutes till the pizza is light and crispy.

Serve with sour cream.

Tip: This makes for a great party appetizer. Just cut in bite size pieces and serve with sour cream as a dip!

Favorite Lip Duo for Dry Lips


, , , ,

Hi everybody! Fall is here in full force, and winter is already rearing its ugly, cold head here in Chicago. While it is a beautiful season, it brings with itself concerns like dryness on the face, feet and lips. I have discovered a new duo that has been helping keep my flaky lips somewhat smooth and moisturized.


Fresh Sugar Lip Polish

This is a lip polish from everyone’s favorite brand, Fresh. It looks like a thick paste of brown sugar and smells amazing. I have such a strong urge to eat it every time I open the jar! It contains brown sugar, castor oil, meadowfoam seed oil, jojoba seed oil, grapeseed oil, and shea butter to exfoliate and nourish the lips. A little bit goes a long way – you only need a tiny bit of the product to exfoliate your lips, leave it on for a few minutes (resisting the urge to lick away!), and voila – beautiful soft lips!

Honestly, I think that this is one of those products that can be easily DIY’ed at home given you have the time. However, having it pre-packaged in a jar is always helpful in a hurry, without the need to whip up a tiny bit of scrub every time you need it.

One caveat though – even though the product is made without parabens, sulfates, phthalates, it does contain artificial fragrance. So that may be a concern for people with sensitive lips, or those who tend to stay away from fragrance. I personally do not have issues with it.

I had received a deluxe sample (0.28 oz), but will purchase the full size to keep handy once I run out of this one. The full size comes in a 0.6 oz tub and retails for USD 22.50.

Josie Maran Argan Lip Treatment


Josie Maran’s Argan Lip Treatment is quite underrated, in my opinion. It comes in cute little plastic jar with a screw-on top. Inside, the product itself is a very light pink that just looks like solidified oil. It doesn’t really smell like anything to me – just has a slight smell of oil (provided I have no sense of smell). It contains argan oil and squalene that helps to rehydrate and seal the lips, and true to the Josie Maran like, does not have any of the “bad” stuff.

When you rub your finger on the product, it melts the oil that you can put on your lips in a thin layer. I usually put this on my lips before sleeping or after exfoliating my lips, and they feel great in the morning! Provided this product won’t do much else to the lips like plumping etc., it’s main claim is to keep lips hydrated and fill in fine lines, which it performs expertly.

My only peeve about this product is the jar packaging. While it looks super cute and princess-y on the vanity, I hate having to dip my fingers in little pots of lip balm. I wish they bring this in a tube or stick format – now that would be amazing to have!

The full size comes in a 0.24 oz pot and retails for USD 18.00.

Favorite Japanese Products


, , , , , ,

I am not a beauty guru, not a beauty blogger, barely a blogger. But I do like to chronicle my favorites and experiences sometimes so I can come back to them and remember what I liked. The first half of 2015 has been great – we got a new house, a new dog, promotions at work, parental visits – eventful, to say the least. Between all the madness, I have managed to (somewhat) sort out my skincare routine. While earlier, I would just use samples every week when I was away from home for work and use my full size products only at home which meant that they never really had the chance to be used long enough to be truly effective on my skin.  In the past few months, I have diligently been sticking to a few products and have now decanted them into little travel bottles for travel as well, to truly test them out.

Sana Soy milk Isoflavone (or Isofurabon) Milk or Essence…


Since I don’t know Japanese, I do not really know what this product is. My guess is some kind of essence or emulsion. I got this from a drugstore in Japan, and believe it has fermented soy in it. I wanted to hop on the Asian million-step skincare bandwagon and thought this would be great to try. It is a milky emulsion that looks like a very light lotion. I use it twice a day after washing my skin and acid-toning, patting it all over my face and neck. I let it sink in and finish with a moisturizer. It feels a little sticky but absorbs quickly into the skin. And it does not break me out! My skin has been feeling smooth and plump and bright. Loving this!!

Hada Labo Gokujyun Perfect Gel


To add to my crazy obsession for Japanese skincare, this is another product I picked up in Japan that I had no idea about. This is a gel like face cream that I think can be used AM and PM (looks like I can read that on the jar :) ). It is super light-weight on the skin and absorbs quickly. I love it for my oily skin that makes my skin feel smooth and plump. It has super hyaluronic acid for preserving skin’s moisture and keeping it supple and hydrated, and never oily. I’ve been using it consistently in the morning and as a night cream, and has not caused any break-outs. My pores appear smaller and clearer which I’m super delighted about! It also layers quite well under a BB cream or foundation. My only gripe is that I don’t think this has sunscreen. But that’s okay since I usually put a BB cream with sunscreen on top during the day. Another love!

Heroine Make Volume and Curl Mascara


Another love from Japan – the Heroine make volume and curl mascara. This is my new love that I carry around and want to fill up every nook and cranny in my home with this! It lengthens and volumizes my lashes so beautifully, and can also hold a curl. I can wear it everyday for naturally fluttery looking lashes, but also curl the lashes and build up the mascara for a more glamorous look. It doesn’t clump, doesn’t transfer or flake. The only downside, sometimes, is that it is waterproof so it is difficult to take off at the end of the day when used everyday. This may not necessarily be a bad thing, though, on the days when we want tough no-budge makeup. Overall, love it!


As soon as I run out of these products, I am running to my local Mitsuwa marketplace (Chicagoland area has one..so excited!!) to repurchase!

My Newest Moisturizing Obsession


, , , ,

If you haven’t already guessed from the title, I’m loviiing a new moisturizer, the Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Face Cream! My first impression to this face cream was one of disgust. Why, you wonder? Because of the smell. If you’re familiar with Fresh products, you are probably aware of a certain smell associated with their products. I haven’t used any full-sized products from Fresh, but only their samples that have all had the same strange fragrance. And this fragrance, I had hated – till now.

Let’s talk about the face cream…



The Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Face Cream comes in a glass jar with a screw-on lid. The packaging is sturdy, beautiful and simplistic, and feels quite rich and high-end. It is also travel friendly, but is glass so gotta be careful of it falling!


I have to say – this product is expensive. It comes in 0.5 oz and 1.7 oz sizes for USD 16.50 and USD 42, respectively. I am still using a 0.5 oz sample I got in one of the beauty boxes, but now having used this cream, I might just splurge on a larger container of it! Damn you, Fresh!!


This was the part I was most on the fence about. The first time I smelled it, I could not stand the smell, so much so that I immediately stopped using the face cream. When I ran out of everything else, I decided to give this a go again just till I could get another moisturizer that I liked. However, I have to say that as I started using the face cream, the smell grew on me. Now I’m at a point where I actually really like the fragrance! I have not really smelled a lotus, but since the cream has lotus flower extract, I think that might be the source of the smell. I would describe it as a dried-rose-gone-slightly-bad type of smell. That doesn’t sound too good and it might take a little getting used to, but it’s worth it for how good the cream is!


This is where I am totally blown away! It’s been a while since I’ve used a face cream consistently for a while and loved it since my Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel, which is the only moisturizer I have ever repurchased. But I haven’t enjoyed anything else since and I’ve been trying to test new face moisturizers to find The One. It becomes even more difficult to find the perfect cream for oily skin that balances the skin out without over-drying or being super heavy. The Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Face Cream is THAT cream. Despite being a face cream instead of a moisturizer, it leaves the skin moisturized without feeling heavy. It makes the skin silky smooth and preps the skin when used before makeup in the morning. At night, it acts as a great night cream – this has kept my skin hydrated throughout the harsh Chicago winters.

The Fresh face cream also contains awesome anti-aging ingredients like lotus flower extract, blue-green algae extract, hibiscus fruit extract, fig fruit extract, vitamins C and E, and vegetable glycerol, and maca root extract, all of which are supposed to be “youth preserving”, which I love for my skin!

I do wish this cream had SPF which it does not right now, because I hate putting sunscreen on my skin. But I can live with that for now.

Overall, this is definitely a must try for all skin types!!

Favorite Chocolate Cake


, , , , , , ,

There’s nothing more elegant than a simple, moist chocolate cake. It is one of those sweets that everybody enjoys, unlike pies and tarts and even cookies, sometimes. I am not a fan of chocolate, but as long as there is a good balance of sweet and chocolate, this cake is my favorite baked dessert.

I adapted this cake from Ina Garten’s recipe (don’t we all just adore her!!). What I like about this recipe is that it is super simple and doesn’t require extensively precise ingredients or techniques. It is great for beginners and experts alike, and is really hard to mess up. Every time I’ve made this, I’ve ended up with a beautiful, moist end product that has been devoured instantly.

Hope you all enjoy baking this as much as I do!


Chocolate Cake

A wonderfully moist cake with a hint of coffee topped with chocolate and coffee icing.

What you need:

For the cake:

All-purpose flour – 112 gms
Sugar – 128 gms (1 cup)
Cocoa powder – 48 gms
Baking powder – ½ tsp
Baking soda – 1 tsp
Salt – ½ tsp
Eggs, extra-large – 1
Buttermilk – ½ cup
Vegetable oil – ¼ cup
Vanilla extract – ½ tsp
Brewed coffee – ½ cup

For the icing:

Semi-sweet Chocolate – 56 gms (2 oz)
Unsalted Butter (at room temperature) – 2/3 stick
Confectioner’s Sugar – ½ cup
Egg yolk (at room temperature) – ½
Cocoa powder – 2 tbsp
Instant coffee – ½ tbsp
Vanilla extract – ½ tsp

The Method:

Preheat the oven at 350 F.

Grease a 9” round cake pan and dust with flour.

In a large bowl (or the bowl of your Stand Mixer), sift all dry ingredients and mix well together. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together all the wet ingredients except coffee.

Now with the paddle attachment on and the mixer running on slow, add the liquid to the dry ingredients.

Scrape the bowl and add the brewed coffee. Combine on low speed.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 40 minutes till a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Let it cool for 10 minutes and then remove to a rack to cool.

For the Icing:

Whisk the butter in the stand mixer until light and fluffy.

Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for another 2-3 minutes.

Slowly sift in the sugar and cocoa, and whisk till smooth and creamy. Scrape the bowl and whisk well.

Dissolve the instant coffee in a teaspoon of warm water and add to the icing. Whisk one final time till well incorporated and you like the texture and taste. *Note: You can always adjust the ingredients if you want the icing more or less sweet or chocolatey.

Layer the icing on the cooled cake and enjoy!

Tip: If you don’t have buttermilk, you can add ½ tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to ½ cup of milk. Let it rest for about 5 minutes to get your buttermilk!

Happy baking!

The Best Shoes Ever!


, , ,

will kill for love shoes. Over the years, I have built up a huge collection of beautiful shoes. But as luck would have it, I have weird feet that pain all the time! I have naturally arched feet with hereditary bunions (my mother and grandmother have the same feet structure) that have become painfully magnified over the past few years, especially since I started wearing flats. I have learned the hard way that my feet are happiest when they have a little bit of heel on the shoe that I am wearing. Flats, no matter how pretty they look, always make my feet ache and have started to even disfigure my feet! I also feel I am most comfortable when I wear anything upto a 3 inch heel.

Another problem I have is that I have really long toes. And when you have long toes, any shoes that narrow towards the front pinch the toes so much that little painful corns start popping up between them. And at that point, pretty much everything hurts your feet! I used to feel I had “normal” width feet, but then I visited a podiatrist with all the above problems and she suggested I try wide width and non-pointy shoes.

I spend a lot of time at work, so my main concern was to be able to find professional looking pumps that were still attractive and that I could wear for long hours without hurting my feet. Not being able to wear pointy pumps made me so sad; I felt like I would have to wear boring, ugly round-toe pumps for the rest of my life. So I set out on a mission to find those perfect shoes that:

1) Had a 2-3 inch heel
2) Were non-pointy
3) Did not look ugly

photo 4

I scouted DSW and found the Dorotha pumps by Kelly & Katie that had good reviews online and felt comfortable when I tried them on. They were also quite affordable so I decided to buy 2 pairs – in beige and black, thinking I would try one out and only keep the other if it felt good. And boy did it feel good!

photo 3

I can safely say that these are the most comfortable pumps I have ever worn! The pumps have a rounded shape that is not too round, but just perfect to be quite attractive. They have a nice cushioning on the inside with a ¼ inch platform, the 2¾ inch heel feels very sturdy, and they didn’t even bite when I was breaking them in. The 2 pairs I have are made in soft faux-leather that easily conforms to the shape of my feet and feel soft and comfortable. I wear these for long days at work and don’t even change into something more casual when I need to catch my flights every week. I can walk around the airport in them, and easily spend close to 12-14 hours wearing these everyday!

photo 1

Kelly & Katie was an unknown brand to me and only seems to sell at DSW. But I am so happy with these shoes – I’m grabbing all kinds of colors in this style!

P.S. Note to all the younger people out there – do not wear complete flats if you have arched feet with natural bunions like mine; they will spoil your feet!

A Water Challenge


, , ,

While everybody around me is busy doing the ice-bucket challenge, I have decided to do my own water challenge of another kind, since dousing ice-cold water on myself is not really my cup of tea water. So instead, I have decided to drink the required amount of water for my body for at least one month from now and see how it benefits my skin and overall health.

Some background on that – there are some days that I drink absolutely no water, seriously. It’s crazy, I know, but sometimes you just are not thirsty or maybe simply forget to drink when you’re working! I also have this weird thing – sometimes the water just doesn’t go down my food-pipe that easily. Yeah, I have issues…

photo (9)

So anyhoo, I think I need to set myself a challenge to drink more water and see the health benefits it gives me (mainly better skin, *wink* *wink*). Which is what this post is about.

We have all heard everyone recommend the 8-glass rule – that your body needs 8 glasses of water every day. But to me, this concept seems so vague! Does this mean that a 100 pound girl and a 300 pound man have the same water requirements? Considering about 60%* of the human body is made up of water, this doesn’t seem mathematically correct! After doing some research on questionable internet resources (no seriously, do you trust everything you read on the internet?), I have come to the conclusion that drinking 2 litres of water every day will be a great goal for me!

P.S. I only drank 500 ml today, so sad :( … But technically, the challenge starts tomorrow.

*Only an estimate according to various internet sources

Crazy Obsessive Haul!


, , , ,

Sales are horrible, horrible things! They entice us into believing we can save money to buy something that we don’t really need in the first place. And we, being as innocent as we are, get sucked into these sneaky sales tactics. So I have been “saving” a lot of money with some of my recent purchases and have bought so much makeup in the past few weeks! Here is a little sneak peak of what I have spent my blood money on.

Going to a CVS for picking up prescriptions (when you have some coupons / ExtraBucks hanging around) is always a little bit dangerous…

Processed with Rookie

I went just a little crazy buying the iDivine palettes from Sleek MakeUP from their recent sale.

Processed with Rookie

HSN.com had an awesome deal for new customers – $20 off any one product worth $40 or more. And look what I found on there!

Processed with Rookie

Actually only the Lorac Pro2 is from HSN. The smaller palette is the Lorac Skinny in Nude, which was a really affordable neutral palette that I was lusting over. Damn you, Youtube!!

And then I made my husband buy me something else too!!

Processed with Rookie

Processed with Rookie

Some other luxurious lip and nail products that I picked up from MAC and Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics. I love the packaging of this Proenza Schouler lipstick from MAC!

Processed with Rookie

Oh and my best for the last – some goodies from The Simpsons collection from MAC! Of course there was no sale on these, but I’m so stoked to be able to grab these before they sold out online!!

Processed with RookieJust realized – a few more things may still be on their way… Crazy much?


Sleek MakeUP Sale Alert!


, , ,

I have never tried Sleek MakeUP, but after hearing so many rave reviews about the quality, I have been dying to order some stuff for myself. For those new to it, Sleek is a UK-based brand that is extremely affordable but you can only order online if you live anywhere outside UK.

For those wanting to try some stuff from them, they have a 3 for 2 deal on their website that ends today (8/22/2014)! So go ahead and get some for yourself some Sleek!!

Me No Likey


, , , , , , ,

Hello hello!

During the course of my day, every day, I am constantly thinking of things I want need to write about, to review, to vent. But time, my dear, is a fickle thing. 24 hours have never been enough! So basically, I have been absolutely hating some products that I tried recently and wanted to vent out about them. It is a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions when you really, reallllly want to like something but it turns out to be such horrible quality (or to be a little less harsh – maybe just doesn’t suit you)!

Burt’s Bees Orange Essence Facial Cleanser

photo 3

What do I say about this? My friend gave this to me to try and I have hated the icky mess it is from the very first use! It is a cleanser with a thick gel-like consistency with a strong smell of orange zest, which I do like. The bad part is the texture and the thick oily layer it leaves on the skin. It is a non-lathering cleanser with a ton of oils in its ingredient list. It feels like rubbing petroleum jelly on your face, without getting your face clean. The cleanser really doesn’t do anything except leave a thick layer on the skin. To top it off, it doesn’t help that I have a combination skin. Dry-skinned ladies (and gents) might actually like the texture and that it is non-drying to the skin, though I would still questions the product’s cleansing abilities. I have wanted to love the Burt’s Bees brand so much, but unfortunately it’s products never seem to work for me :(. Oh well…

Shiseido Cleansing Wipes

photo 2

I am not one for face wipes. For me, face wipes are never good for using during the day because I do want to keep my minimalist makeup on the face. As for when I want to wipe off the makeup at the end of the day, wipes never can beat a good face wash. But I decided to try these wipes anyway, just because you see wipes everywhere and everyone using it, you know… Well, long story short – these Shiseido ones are horrible! They don’t do a good enough job cleaning my face, and also cause a significant burning and itching to my skin. Is it just me? Has anyone else felt that too?

Anyways, suffice to say this is something I will never be re-purchasing.

Yves Saint Laurent Top Secrets Pro Removers – Demaquillant Micellare Tonique

photo 1

What IS the deal with micellar waters?? Provided I have not tried any of the others, but I don’t get the concept – is this a makeup cleanser, a toner, or just some glorified water? I tried the YSL Micellar Water via a super deluxe sample I got at Sephora. I use it according to the instructions on the package, but it just lends an icky sticky feeling to my skin. And then they tell you to leave it on there and not rinse your face! Is that supposed to be it?? I’m definitely not impressed.

Did these products work for anybody? I would love to hear your experiences.




Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 110 other followers