Smitten with Smitten Kitchen; Avocado Cup Salad, Two ways Revised

for those that don’t know, Smitten Kitchen is a food blog that focuses on stepped up comfort food from scratch. i first came across it when browsing through Pinterest for dinner recipes.  i saw a beautiful picture of Baked Crunchy Pork Chops and knew i’d score extra points with the bf if i made it.  it was a huge hit and not too hard to make. since then i’ve tried a few more recipes from the site, and every single one of them was a hit.  even the ones that didn’t come out ideal, due to my poor skills in cooking, came out delicious.  i’m most enamored with her recipe Apple-Herb Stuffing For All Seasons. this one was such a hit that my boyfriend ate the entire dish on thanksgiving day, forcing me to make another batch the next day so that we could enough have stuffing to continue our tradition of making breakfast casserole with the leftovers.

today, however, i want to introduce you a healthy recipe by Deb of Smitten Kitchen. i’m always trying to work in a bit more vegetable into my diet.  i’ve discovered trying to eliminate something from my diet usually ends in my craving more junk foods than on the elimination list.  however, slowing adding in the good stuff and thereby not having so much room for the bad stuff seems to be working out so far.  i won’t tell you that it eliminates cravings, but it does slowly lessen them.  allow me to introduce you to Avocado Cup Salad, Two Ways.  i tinkered with both recipes a little bit, but you can see the original recipes here:
Avocado Salad with Black Beluga Lentils

1 cup black beluga lentils, cooked, drained (about 1/2cup of dry)
1 large bell pepper, finely diced (I used a mix of colors because we keep them around for the kid)
1/4 cup finely diced white or red onion
1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 1 lime)
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Dashes of hot sauce or pinches of cayenne, to taste (i’ve tried cayenne but not hot sauce)
2 ripe avocados

this recipe is really versatile.  the original recipe called for black beans.  why did i choose to replace it with black beluga lentils?  one, because the first time i made it, i thought we had dried black or red beans in the pantry, but we didn’t.  two, these cook much faster and don’t need presoaking.  we don’t have any canned goods in our pantry because we’re trying to eliminate things that might have bpa from our diet and sometimes canned beans can be a little too soft for our liking.  seriously, once you try making chickpea salad from dried garbanzo beans, you can never go back to canned. the original recipe called for juice of 1 lime.  if you decide to stick with lime, we like the juice of 2 limes, but we prefer lemon in our salads overall.  lemon seems to brighten the flavors better, and we like the acidity .  i also reduced the amount of avocado from her recipe because there’s usually just the two of us eating, and i didn’t want to have too much leftovers.  the way i have the recipe set up, it will serve 2-3 as a heavy side dish, or have it with some bread for lunch.  in the original, deb uses the avocado halves as a holding cup for the rest of the ingredients and suggests eating it with a spoon.  i’m much too lazy and messy for that, so i dice my avocados and toss it directly into the salad.

1.  prep the lentils or beans according to directions.  if you’ve gone with the black beluga lentils, i find that i prefer a cook time of 8-10 mins, rather than what the package says.

2.  dice (doesn’t matter what size, as size will just vary the texture of the salad) the bell pepper, onion and jalapeño and place in a large bowl.  i like to measure out all the above ingredients in a glass 1 cup measuring cup, so i can use it to make the salad dressing after and save myself an extra dish to wash later.

3.  combine olive oil, lime juice, salt, cumin, and cayenne/hot sauce, and whisk together to make the dressing.

4.  dice avocado into the bowl that’s holding the rest of the ingredients, mix with dressing, and serve.

lentil avocado cup salad

Avocado Salad with Black Beluga Lentils

Avocado Salad with Cucumbers and Radishes in Ginger-Miso Dressing

1 cup finely diced cucumber (from about half a long English or 2 small Persian cukes), seeds removed
1 cup finely diced radishes (from about 4 large red ones)
2 scallions, finely chopped
4 tablespoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons miso (deb recommends white miso, shiromiso, which is more mild/less salty)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon finely grated or minced fresh ginger root (or more to taste)
2 ripe avocados
1/4 teaspoon of yuzu pepper
splashes of yuzu juice to taste (i gave my bottle 4 shakes)

yuzu is a japanese citrus.  like bacon, it makes everything taste better.  maybe because i didn’t want to stock my kitchen with sesame seeds just for this recipe (deb’s original recipe called for both white and black kinds), i felt the recipe was kind of boring.  i decided to add yuzu pepper to give it some kick and yuzu juice for flavor and acidity.  it really brightens up the salad.  i also substituted low sodium brown miso for the recommended white miso, since we already had that in our fridge.  if you don’t have fresh ginger on hand, substitute 1/4 teaspoon of dried ginger instead.


1. dice cucumbers, radish, and scallions, and mix together in a large bowl.

2. mix sesame oil, rice vinegar, ginger, yuzu pepper, and yuzu juice together to make the dressing.

3. when ready to eat, dice avocado into vegetable mixture, pour in dressing, mix, and serve.

sorry i don’t have a picture of this one.  my avocados were kind of old so they were more brown than green.  needless to say, it made a hideous picture.  it doesn’t look as exciting as the lentil version anyways.  i hope you enjoy these recipes as much as we do.  to me, they’re prefect for the warm weather, since it doesn’t require me to heat or cook anything besides the lentils.  it can be served room temperature or chilled, making it a good alternative for those hot days when all you want to do is eat milk and cereal or potato salad.

Yuzu Juice and Yuzu Pepper

Yuzu Juice and Yuzu Pepper

Readers, what do you think of this recipe?  do you have any summer favorites?

April Tried But Not True

hi~  this is going to be a monthly series of stuff i’ve tried this month but found they that didn’t work for me, so i’m returning.

April TBNT Hair & BOdy

i’ve heard a lot of good things about African Botanics.  i grabbed this body lotion from during their free shipping (still going on) while i also had a discount coupon.  all the glowing reviews i read about this brand happened to be face products, but since a body lotion was what i needed, i decided to give it a shot.  sadly, African Botanics Botanical Body Hydrator did not live up to brand reputation.  at $55 for 3.8fl oz, i expected it to have magical properties.  perhaps it was a little bit of user selection error.  i have very dehydrated and dry skin on my body,  i tend to prefer creams with a certain amount of wax to prevent moisture from escaping too easily.  clearly, looking at the ingredient list, this lotion wasn’t my preferred formulation.  but since i’ve had some recent success with another oil, i decided to give Botanical Body Hydrator a try.    i was really hoping the marula oil that i’ve been hearing so much about would have soothed my dry and irritated skin.  it did give me softer skin temporarily, but after an hour or two, my skin would go back to dry and itchy.  it has a sharp green scent when first used before rounding out to a lasting sweeter scent.  it was a little too much aromatherapy for my liking.  last, but not least, at times it discomforted my skin slightly.  i think i may be sensitive to the percentage of neroli they use.

i’ve always wanted to try Rahua because i’ve heard so many good things about it, but the volumizing set just didn’t work for me.  my hair didn’t feel especially volumized, and it dried out my hair a little and left it more tangled than usual.  since my usual arsenal outperformed it at ⅓ of rahua’s price, which comes at the hefty price tag of $32 each, i didn’t feel like the set needed further experimentation.

Bumble and Bumble Cityswept Finish is a microfine misting balm that is supposed to give definition to your hair.  i was hoping that it would give my layers some definition, like a texture balm without the grease.  it did give very subtle definition, no where near the result i saw when the beauty consultant demonstrated it on her hair, but it also tangled my hair.  it also made my hair slightly greasier than normal.  since it didn’t give me the effect i was hoping for and made my hair harder to manage to boot, it’s going back to Sephora.

Tarte The Brow Architect was probably another product i didn’t completely think through before i purchased.  it has a colored pencil to fill in your brows, a built in concealer to highlight the arch and hide stray hair, and a brush to comb the brow.  i have dark hair but pale skin, so i chose the medium color.  the brow color was a little light but could be built up to proper intensity.  the concealer for highlight, however, was too peach and slightly darker than my current highlighter shades.  since this means i would never use half of the product, i decided it should be returned.

April 2014 TBNT MU

i heard Cover Fx Anti-Age Smoothing Eye Primer was white in color when applied.  i had high hopes that i could combine my eye primer and a white base (such as Nyx Jumbo Pencil in Milk) into one step.  Anti-Age Smoothing Eye Primer is a milky color and has a eye gel like texture, but it dried clear for me.  the dry time for it was also longer than other primers i’ve tried.  it performed less well than my Nars, Urban Decay, Too Faced, and Benefit eye primers.

Urban Decay Super-Saturated Ultra Intense Waterproof Cream Liner in Perversion (man who needs product description with a name like that?!?) is my latest attempt at getting cream/gel liners to work for my oily lids.  i’ve always heard that they were the best formula for oily mono-lids, but i must have weird eyelids because liquid liner is still the only kind i can get to not smudge on me.  i should just give up on this type of formula all together.  i will say that it did a better job than Wet n’Wild, Bobby Brown, and Tarte though.

No Bleeding Lips Secret Lip Liner – this is a clear liner that’s supposed to prevent bleeding and feathering.  i bought this hoping i could save myself from having a bunch of different dark lip pencils that i only use once in a blue moon to define my lips when i’m using dark lipsticks and glosses, but it wasn’t up to the task.  color still went outside of the line.

Sephora + Pantone Universe The Eye: Radiant Femme Artistry Set – another product i should have known better than to pick up.  i had firmly written off Radiant Orchid off as an eye shadow because i knew fuchsias and other pink toned purples are not a good color on me; they tend to make my eyes look a little swollen.  but i loved the Divergent Cosmetics Multi-Piece Collector’s Kit and was told it had the same formulation, and the beauty consultant i was chatting with convinced me that i could rock it too.  sadly this palette had some performance issues.  some had a lot of fallout and poor pigmentation.  plus, i was right in my fear that Radiant Orchid wasn’t a good fit for me.  i played with it in several different looks, placing the color in different parts of my eyes at different intensities but i was never able to make it work.  the picture below was the best of the lot, but it’s still not great.

Radiant Orchid with green and gold from the same palette

Radiant Orchid with green and gold from the same palette

it also made this really loud, annoying clack sound when you close it.  it sounds like you’ve accidentally broken something in the plastic hinge.  While i appreciated the palette giving me 6 quadrants of coordinated looks, i thought some of the neutrals were too similar and repetitive.  i love looking at the colors in this palette but it wouldn’t get good use, so it’s going back.


Readers, what have you loved or sent back this month?  my boyfriend named this series, what do you think of the title? 

Eve Lom Cleanser: The Perfect Multitasker

with the discovery of my holy grail mascara topcoat, Anastasia Lash Genius, i had to start the hunt for the perfect makeup remover.  after 2 months of searching and over 10 products tried, i’m happy to introduce to you Eve Lom Cleanser, another holy grail product.

Eve Lom Cleanser

Eve Lom Cleanser

Eve Lom Cleanser is a balm cleanser.  it’s solid in the container but melts into an oil with the heat of your skin.  it’s great for sensitive eyes.  i’ve rubbed this all over my eyes, right up against the lash line and on my lashes, and continued watching a tv show with no problems (this is what happens when you misjudge the time you have during commercials when watching korean dramas :P)  i prefer using an oil based cleanser, as i feel the extra slip from the oil gives me added assurance that i’m being as gentle as i possibly can in the delicate eye area.  the instructions include a 7 step facial massage to encourage lymphatic drainage, but i rarely bother with that as i’m usually pretty tired by the time makeup removal comes around.  i massage a quarter sized amount on my face.  if i have a lot of eye makeup or if my skin is dry and absorbed some of the oil, i take an extra dab, on my clean pinky finger, for my eyes.

the amount i use over my entire face

the amount i use over my entire face

additional amount i use if needed on my eyes

additional amount i use if needed on my eyes

i gently massage it onto my eyelid, concentrating on my eyeliner and lashes for 10 seconds.  sometimes i like to let it sit there while i brush my teeth so my skin benefits from prolonged contact with the beneficial ingredients, but you can, and i have, rinsed it off right away.  to rinse off, i soak the included muslin cloth in warm water and hold it up to my face for 3 seconds so that the heat can open up my pores.  then, i hold it right up against my eyes and lashes for another 3 seconds to give it extra help melting off the mascara.  i repeat this 3 times.  i really love this part of my cleansing ritual as the heat is so relaxing and soothing.  next, use the muslin cloth to gently rub off the cleanser going in small circular motions to give your face a mild exfoliation.  lastly, rinse all the makeup off your muslin cloth, soak it in cold water, and press it to your face to close your pores.  Eve Lom Cleanser rinses off cleanly without stripping your face.  it’s not squeaky clean but there’s no filmy residue.

of course, Eve Lom Cleanser isn’t the only balm cleanser on the market. Ren, Josie Maran, and Omorovicza are amongst some of the ones that i’ve sampled. Ren stung my eyes. Josie Maran and Omorovicza didn’t rinse off as cleanly. they both left behind a slight oily film on the skin that I didn’t like. Eve Lom Cleanser doesn’t have this problem; in fact, it even rinses off cleanly with cold water.

i love the convenience of Eve Lom Cleanser.  because it’s a balm formula, i never have to worry about leakage in my toiletry bag.  it’s space saving since i’m carrying one product instead of 3 (makeup remover, cotton pads and cleanser)  you don’t even have to pack your muslin cloth if you don’t want to.  Eve Lom Cleanser rinses off cleanly without the cloth although it takes a little longer.  i take a smaller sized one that came with a sample of the cleanser that i got from Space NK.  it dries super fast because of how thin it is, even in very humid cities.  i like to wrap the cloth around whatever is most expensive in my skincare routine at the moment to give it a little extra protection.

the price of the cleanser does give a little sticker shock.  it comes in 1.6 oz for $50, 3.3 oz for $80 and 6.8oz for $135.  you do save some from not needing makeup remover and cotton pads.  savings will vary depending on what you used before.  i purchased it in the 3.3 oz but now i really regret not springing for the 6.8oz.  guess i’ll put it on the list for the next time a sephora sale comes around.


Readers, what do you think?  do you like an all-in-one product or do you find that they do not measure up to their separate counterparts?

Laura Mercier’s Summer In St Tropez: Limited Edition Baked Eye Color Quad

Laura Mercier's Limited Edition: Summer In St. Tropez

Laura Mercier’s Limited Edition: Summer In St. Tropez

i have to say i’m very conflicted about this quad.  it’s probably one of those items that i know i should return, but i just can’t bear to.  look at it!  aren’t the colors gorgeous? then you notice it’s half the size of an iPhone 5.  the price of this is $44 for .07oz.  as a point of comparison, Laura Mercier’s single baked shadows are $24 for .06oz.  this means you’re paying almost twice as much for an extra .01oz of shadow and color variation.  i don’t know about you, but i’m thinking that makes it pretty poor value.  maybe i would have felt slightly better if there weren’t 3 shades of blue in the quad.  another color in place of the teal would have given it more versatility.  however, all 4 colors are unique in the baked shadows collection.

L to R: Pearly Pale blue, Matte Teal Blue, Pearly Dark Bronze, Deep Cobalt Blue

L to R: Pearly Pale blue, Matte Teal Blue, Pearly Dark Bronze, Deep Cobalt Blue

this is what the palette looks like with 3 swipes from my shadow brush, no primer.

L to R: Pearly Pale blue, Matte Teal Blue, Pearly Dark Bronze, Deep Cobalt Blue

L to R: Pearly Pale blue, Matte Teal Blue, Pearly Dark Bronze, Deep Cobalt Blue

when used wet, the colors become a lot more vibrant and lust worthy.

Matte Teal Blue and Pearly Dark Bronze Inner Corner Pearly Pale Blue over Matte Teal Blue

Inner Corner Pearly Pale Blue over Matte Teal Blue, Matte Teal Blue and Pearly Dark Bronze. Wet Cobalt Blue on lower lash line

this is how it looks when the colors are applied dry.  so far, nothing impressive.  in fact, sometimes it applied a little patchy, and i noticed the Matte Teal Blue fading a bit after 5 hours or so.  based on this look, i would have sent the palette back pronto!

Matte Teal Blue and Pearly Dark Bronze Inner Corner Pearly Pale Blue over Matte Teal Blue

Inner Corner Pearly Pale Blue over Matte Teal Blue, Matte Teal Blue and Pearly Dark Bronze. Wet Cobalt Blue on lower lash line

here’s a close up of that look.  i lined the lower lash line with the wet version of Cobalt Blue.  you can see how it intensifies the color.

wet versions of Pearly Pale Blue, Pearly Dark Bronze and Deep Cobalt Blue

wet versions of Pearly Pale Blue, Pearly Dark Bronze and Deep Cobalt Blue

here’s a look i did when i played with most of the colors wet.  isn’t it a dramatic difference?  the shimmers show up a lot more, and the colors not only intensify but develop depth and interest.  it creates a really high impact look.  i’ve been playing with makeup seriously for a year now and asking my boyfriend to grade my looks.  this look was the first look that earned a 10.  first look in a year guys!!

to create this look, i used my Sigma E57 and E20s.  i ran a finger through water and used the water droplets on my finger to damp the brush and patted/swirled the damp brush on the color.  don’t make the bristles too wet, otherwise the color will turn into a water color texture that’s a bit too runny to work with easily.  it did take a little time to build, but i haven’t had a lot of experience working with foiled eye shadows.

so i bet you’re wondering what’s my conclusion for this palette.  for myself, i’m going to keep it.  i feel slightly guilty about it, but i’m keeping it for 3 reasons:

1.  i’ve been looking for a good cobalt blue, and when wetted, Deep Cobalt Blue fits the bill.

2.  look at how satisfying the Pearly Dark Bronze is!  the sparkle, dimension, and intensity just can’t be beat.

3.  i can’t return the palette that earned my first 10 from my boyfriend.  it now has historical and sentimental value!

but what about my recommendation for you?  like i mentioned before, it doesn’t have great value, it’s not the easiest to work with and lacks versatility, since it’s mostly blue.  i’d say skip it, and save your money for something better unless you fell instantly in love/lust with 2 of the colors, and you really don’t have something similar in your collection.  if you sleep on it for a couple nights and you just can’t get it out of your head, then be my guest.

Readers, what do you think?  is it worth it?  do you have similar colors in your collection?  leave me a comment down below!

Bulletproofing Your Mascara

today, i’d like to share with you a product that ended all my mascara woes.  you see, i have extremely oily lids, which smudge pretty much all formulations of mascaras, except tubes.  the trouble with tubes is sometimes they shed at the most inopportune times.  also, i just like playing the field.  i want to be able to use whatever mascara catches my eye instead of limiting myself to a small selection due to my special needs.  enter Anastasia Beverly Hills Lash Genius Waterproof Topcoat! (cue light from the heavens and singing angels)


Anastasia Lash Genius Waterproof Topcoat

Anastasia Lash Genius Waterproof Topcoat

now, this is the product that will save you from mascara-smudged raccoon eyes! (please note, if it’s your liner, that’s an entirely different topic)  this topcoat also makes your mascara flake proof and waterproof, so no more carefully dripping half an eye drop into your dry eyes!  you can feel free to use as much as needed.  Lash Genius gives you the confidence in knowing nothing will make your mascara less than perfect until you are ready to take it off!

it goes on clear and without clumping.  i also use it by itself on my lower lashes to give them some definition.  it can also double duty as a brow gel, keeping your unruly brows in place.

now, the drawback of bulletproofing your mascara is that it will be a little harder to take off.  i prefer oil-based cleansers for taking it off, because i feel the slip from the oil lessens the tug of makeup removal on the delicate skin.  apply your oil cleanser and gently rub it into the lashes for a few seconds.  at this point, i like to switch to brushing my teeth while the oils break down the coating and the rest of my makeup.  it’s not necessary, just my preference.  if you’re not using an oil-base makeup remover, i like to soak the cotton ball and hold it up against my eyes and lashes for 10-15 seconds before gently rubbing off the makeup.  it may take a few extra passes, and while this sounds troublesome, it’s not really that much extra work.  to me, the benefits definitely outweigh the little extra time spent taking it off.

Lash Genius is definitely a holy grail product for me.  it is somewhat pricy at $21, but i consider it a worthy investment.  it gives me the ability to wear whatever mascara i want without carrying around a bunch of q-tips to fix the smear and having to check the mirror every couple of hours.

Readers, do you have trouble with mascara smearing? what do you do to prevent this? do you consider a clear coat a good investment? leave me a comment down below!

Eye Palettes in Divergent Multi-Piece Collector’s Kit

today, i’m going to give an in-depth look at the eye palettes included in the Divergent Multi-Piece Collector’s Kit.  there are 3 palettes named after the factions in the books: abnegation, erudite and dauntless.  each palette comes with 4 shades and 1 transformer shade.  what is a transformer shade you ask? basically a glitter shade for you to mix with the other colors for a different effect.  since tris, the heroine, was born into abnegation, let’s start with that.

Abnegation Eye Palette

Abnegation Eye Palette


L to R: Altruistic Almond, Golden Honesty, Intrepid Moss, Bold Expresso, Transform

L to R: Altruistic Almond, Golden Honesty, Intrepid Moss, Bold Expresso, Transform


Golden Honesty, Intrepid Moss and Bold Expresso. Moss and Transformer on lower lash line

Golden Honesty, Intrepid Moss and Bold Expresso. Intrepid Moss and Transformer on lower lash line

The four regular shades in this palette are all nicely pigmented, goes on smoothly, and blends out well.  Altruistic Almond is a matte, skin-toned beige.  use this color as a highlight under your brows or over your entire eye to establish an even base for the other colors.  it’s slightly darker than Urban Decay’s Foxy.  Urban Decay’s Habit is very similar in shade but pinker in tone.  Golden Honesty is a very pale yellow gold.  i used it as an inner corner highlight in my look, but it’d make for a really good lid color too.  i really love how it brightens the eyes.  Intrepid Moss is a shimmery, muted olive green.  it’s a great medium shade that you can do a lot of different things with.  here i’ve used to to transition between Golden Honesty and Bold Expresso.  another idea would be to pair it with Dauntless Ink in the Dauntless Eye Palette to create a smokier night look. Bold Expresso is a dark matte brown.  this is a nice basic dark color that plays nicely with the Abnegation and Erudite Palettes.  blend it out for a day time look, like i’ve done, or build it up to your heart’s content.  the glitter shade in this palette is Transform.  it’s the worst out of the 3 transformer shades but, by no means, a complete dud.  it looks silver in the pan but is really more like a clear coat with silver particles.  i used it on top of Intrepid Moss on the lower lash line, and you can see it just adds a little bit more glitter to the look.  there wasn’t really much fall-out when used with my Sigma E20S (improved short shader) even when i brushed it on instead of patting it on.

i love the colors of the Erudite Palette, but i have a major gripe with the names.  the erudite faction wore blue and valued intelligence and knowledge.  they studied, experimented, and engineered.  do the colors or names in the palette reflect that?  not to me!  if i had to choose, i would have named this palette amity.

Erudite Eye Palette

Erudite Eye Palette

L to R: Choose, Humble Sheen, Peaceful Shimmer, Radiant Initation, Burnt Mahogany.

L to R: Choose, Humble Sheen, Peaceful Shimmer, Radiant Initation, Burnt Mahogany.

Humble Sheen, Peaceful Shimmer, Burnt Mahogany. Choose on inner corner Peaceful Shimmer on lower lash line

Humble Sheen, Peaceful Shimmer, Burnt Mahogany. Choose on inner corner
Peaceful Shimmer on lower lash line

Choose, the transformer glitter shade for this palette, is a sheer pink glitter.  it’s not pigmented on its own but will give a pink tint to what it’s on top of.  it’s less patchy than Transform.  there’s also no fall-out issue, if you use a light hand, even if you brush instead of press on the glitter.  i was pretty impressed by this.  Humble Sheen is a shimmery vanilla beige. Peaceful Shimmer, the transition color you see in the middle, is a shimmery peach.  Urban Decay Chopper is quite similar but Peaceful Shimmer has a little bit more peach and a tinge of pink to it.  it’s a beautiful color that causes me to reach for this palette often.  Burnt Mahogany is a rich, red, shimmery brown.  it’s very pigmented and easily blended out.  it’s a very satisfying color and my second favorite of all the eye colors in this collection.  all three of the colors that i mentioned above are buttery in texture, rich in pigment, and easy to work with.  in fact, i feel these 3 shades are just a tiny bit better in quality than all the rest of the eye shadows in the collection. Radiant Initiation, however, is slightly less pigmented.  it only takes a couple of extra passes though so no huge complaints here.  Radiant Initiation is a pale taupe with a light sheen. use it for an every day nude look, or use it to help blend out the dark edges of your smokey looks.  i’ve used it for a nude look below.

Humble Sheen in inner corner, Radiant Initiation, Abnegation Stone

Humble Sheen in inner corner, Radiant Initiation, Abnegation Stone

Dauntless, the faction tris moves to, is the last of the eye palettes.  this is a very dark, smokey palette where even the transformer glitter shade is pigmented.

Dauntless Eye Palette

Dauntless Eye Palette

Erudite Sapphire with Dauntless Ink. Serene Vanilla with Transform on top. Transform dabbed in center. Diverge on lower lash line

Erudite Sapphire with Dauntless Ink. Serene Vanilla with Transform on top. Transform dabbed in center.
Diverge on lower lash line

i did an arm swatch of this palette too, but all of them came out so inaccurate i decided not to post them.  Serene Vanilla is a light creme with slight sheen,  i prefer to keep it on the inner corners or on my lid but you can also use it to highlight under your brow. it’s buttery texture makes it easy to apply.  Erudite Sapphire is a deep smoky midnight blue with a slight sheen.  unless you’re really packing it on or using a base under it, it’s going to look a little darker than it looks in the pan.  Dauntless Ink is a matte black.  it’s not quite as pigmented as Urban Decay’s Blackout, but it’s still quite pigmented.  it’s more pigmented than the black in my Smashbox eye shadow trio in Twilight and my Bobby Brown Day To Night palette in Caviar.  Erudite Sapphire and Dauntless Ink are both easy to work with although not as buttery as some of the other eye shadows. Diverge is this palette’s transformer glitter and is a sparkly, smokey olive green.  it has some pigment on its own, but i still prefer to layer it on top of another color or else do a couple of extra passes.  in the look above, Diverge is on its own in the first third of my lower lashline and on top of Dauntless Ink on the rest.  i have a small obsession with green so this is my favorite transformer shade.  again, there was minimal fall-out even when brushed on.

Abnegation with Dauntless Ink in outer corner.  Humble Sheen on top.

Abnegation Stone with Dauntless Ink in outer corner. Humble Sheen on top.

Abnegation Stone is a shimmery medium taupe that’s buildable to dark.  it’s more buttery in texture than Erudite Sapphire and Dauntless Ink.  the shimmer gives it nice dimension and interest, making it my favorite of this palette.

i really enjoyed most of the colors in this collection.  though, i wish it had come out during winter season instead of now, when i’m tired of smokey looks and nudes and ready for bright colors.  as i’ve said before, i think the collection has great value.  there aren’t really any duds that i would avoid.  just a couple that take a little extra work.  the lip glosses are probably the most disappointing part of the collection.  they don’t really do anything besides moisturize my lips; though, they are good at doing that!  this collection has really changed my mind about the quality of Sephora’s eyeshadows, and i’d definitely encourage you to pick it up if you like the colors and can find it in stock.

Readers, what do you think of this collection? did you enjoy the looks? leave a comment down below!

Wearable Radiant Orchid Lips

spring is here and i’m finally ready to hop onto the radiant orchid wagon.  we were in the depth of winter when Pantone announced this bright color of the year and i just wasn’t in the mood for it.  i don’t care that i live in sunny los angeles where it’s practically summer year round.  i still like to act like there are seasons to pay attention to!  the weather was super nice today so i wanted a more colorful look when i got dressed for brunch! i slapped on some purple eye shadow and made it pop by lining the inner bottom half of my eyes with a green liner. To complete the look, i decided to do a radiant orchid lip! which leads me to introducing to you: L’Oréal Color Caresse Wet Shine Stain in Berry Persistent #186 and Buxom Full-On Lip Cream in Purple Haze.

L to R: L'Oreal Berry Persistent and Buxom Purple Haze

L to R: L’Oréal Berry Persistent and Buxom Purple Haze

L’Oréal Berry Persistence is a hybrid stain and gloss formula.  it goes on with the thin slippery feel of a wet gloss and has a light shine with color staying about 4 hours or so on me. depending on the color, sometimes i have some very light staining left after eating but usually not.  Buxom is my go-to brand for lip gloss.  Purple Haze is a nice cream gloss with a medium level of pigment and shine.  the formula goes on tingly and is very moisturizing on the lips.  it’s slightly thick but not tacky.

T to B: L'Oréal Berry Persisent and Buxom Purple Haze

T to B: L’Oréal Berry Persisent and Buxom Purple Haze

here’s what they look like on my lips.  i left the top lip bare for comparison’s sake.

Buxom Purple Haze

Buxom Purple Haze

Purple Haze Close-up

Purple Haze Close-up

as you can see, Purple Haze is just pigmented enough to give your lips a nice shade of purple for that radiant orchid look but sheer enough for your lip color to show through for a natural look.

L'Oréal Berry Persistent

L’Oréal Berry Persistent

B Persistent Closeup

Berry Persisent Closeup

L’Oréal Berry Persistent has a bit more pigment but the color leans towards a berry purple with a little less shine than a full on gloss.  it actually looks a bit more purple in real life.  sorry, i’m still working on my photography skills.

stack them together and you get my take of radiant orchid.

Berry Persistent with Purple Haze

Berry Persistent with Purple Haze

close up of the two

close up of the two

i like the two combined together because i feel they round each other out.  Berry Persistent gives a little more pigmentation covering up the pink of my natural lip, and Purple Haze lends the proper purple tones of a radiant orchid look and adds shine to give the color dimension.

Buxom Purple Haze can be purchased at Sephora for $19.

L’Oréal Berry Persistence can be found at a number of places and retails for $9.99.


Readers, what do you think?  are you into the radiant orchid trend? how do you like to incorporate it into your look?

Divergent Multi-Piece Collector’s Kit by Divergent Cosmetics Overview

at first i wasn’t very interested in this, but since my boyfriend is a divergent fan, i forwarded the link for him to look at when i got notified of this by Sephora.  “you should totally get it and review it on your blog!” he replied excitedly.  i wasn’t convinced at first, but as i mulled it over slowly, the idea took hold.  it did seem kind of symbolic in a way, drawing a nice parallel to my life.  like the heroine of the novel, i too, am embarking on a new journey trying to discover different facets of myself while fighting off my insecurities (when do we get to grow out of that?!). ok, that’s enough about me!  onto the makeup! i’m going to break this up into an overview of contents plus an in depth look at the Divergent Cheek palette and lip glosses.  stay tuned for the eyeshadow palettes!


The Collector’s Kit comes very nicely in an outer box with a magnetic snap.  even if you haven’t read the books and don’t understand the significance of the ferris wheel, it’s still makes for a pleasing image.

SAMSUNG CSCopen the box and you find an exciting amount of makeup for $59.50.  there are 3 palettes of eye shadows with a total of 15 shades, 1 cheek palette with 2 blushes, a highlight and a bronzer, 4 lip glosses, and a double-ended angled cheek brush and pointed blending eye brush. just as a brief point of comparison, there’s slightly more eye shadow in these palettes than Urban Decay’s Naked 3.  3 double-sided look cards are tucked into a pocket on the back of top lid.

SAMSUNG CSCclearly all the effort in packaging and design went into the box and palettes.  i haven’t recreated the suggested looks, but my gripe is with how the colors in the look cards are represented.  you can’t tell from a casual look the color difference in the looks between some of the cards.  in fact, i gave them to the boyfriend to look over, and he thought the card with the lighter colors was actually a darker, smokier look.  i mean, what’s the point of a look card if i can’t get a sense of what the look is?  color is a major part of that! if i have to hold the look cards next to the palette and see what colors they’re talking about then you might as well not have bothered with the picture.  please give me a venn diagram type look card with the colors clearly delineated!

SAMSUNG CSCthe palettes stack together to reform the ferris wheel.  not that i’d store them this way, but i still appreciate the remarkable amount of thought that went into the package design.

SAMSUNG CSC the palettes snap out vertically in case you want to take a different transformer (glitter) shade with your favorite faction palette.  before you moan about fallout, the transformer colors are surprisingly high quality. i’ve actually had less fall out with these than some urban decay shades (i’m glaring at you, anarchy face palette!).


L to R: Urban Decay, Divergent, Sigma F40HD, Crown

this double-ended brush is great! it blends just as nicely as my Crown, Sigma, and Urban Decay angled brushes.  it’s softer than my Urban Decay, very similar in density, and the head is a little smaller and more of an elongated oval shape.  compared to my Crown brush, it’s not quite as soft but denser.  shape wise, it’s pretty similar with the Divergent brush just a little more elongated.  the Sigma F40 with HD filament (the bunny ones) is slightly softer with a smaller, narrower head than the Divergent brush.


L to R: Sigma E40, Divergent, Urban Decay Naked2, Sigma E38

i can’t say much for the other end as i’m not skilled enough to manipulate that large of a brush on my small lids.  i’m guessing you can use it as a diffused crease brush.


L to R:Fear not, Temptation’s Choice, Natural Virtue and Supreme Ritual

does the packaging of that gloss look familiar to you?  i thought maybe sephora teamed up with Hourglass to make this line.  i chatted with some of the Sephora makeup artists, and they told me it was designed by the Sephora pro artists who just really loved hourglass’ packaging… in any case, the lip glosses are slightly minty and cooling on the lips (much milder than buxom) and sadly not as pigmented as they look. they’re mostly going to give your lips some shine and some moisture. the texture is light and not tacky.  i swatched them on my bare lips, but you couldn’t really tell one from the other.  thus i’ll save you the unnecessary photo spam.


T to B: Supreme Ritual, Natural Virtue, Temptation’s Choice, Fear Not

in the pictures below, i’ve put lipstick on my lips and layered the glosses only on my bottom lip so you can get a better idea of how they can subtly change the color on your lips.


Fear Not

Fear Not is a mauve brown pink with a tiny bit of gold shimmer in the tube.  swatched, it looks more like a pretty berry.  it gives the barest tint of berry on bare lips.  on my pink lipstick, it’s just adding a bit of shine for dimension.  it’s the most pigmented out of the bunch.


Supreme Ritual

Supreme Ritual is the other end of the 4 lipgloss spectrum.  it’s a creamy, milky, pale, peach nude with shimmer.  you can see that it doesn’t really tone the pink down much at all.

temptation's choice

Temptation’s Choice

Temptation’s Choice has the most shimmer of all the glosses and is a peach champagne gloss.  you can see a bit more of the sparkles in the left corner but like i said before, these are all very natural glosses that don’t have much pigmentation or shimmer and makes the lips shiny rather than glossy.

natural virtue

Natural Virtue

Natural Virtue is a mauve nude.  it’s more pigmented than Supreme Ritual so you can see it managed to nude out the pink on my lips just a little.

SAMSUNG CSC the Divergent Cheek palette is my favorite out of the whole collection. with one sweep of whatever blush brush i pick up, i can pick up the perfect amount of pigment for a good natural flush that blends out easily. sometimes, i dab just a little bit more, so it shows up a little easier on camera.  if that’s case i’m just gently tapping my brush onto the blush instead of sweeping through.  i like it just as much, if not more, as my Tarte Off The Cuff palette, but it may be new toy syndrome.  i love the simplicity of the two shades.  they’re no brainer shades that go with everything.  the radiant glow illuminator in gleaming pearl really lives up to the first part of its name.  it gives a nice, natural healthy skin glow.  i forgot it in my first day of eye looks, and the difference between those pictures and the looks after were noticeable.

SAMSUNG CSC this is me with the Abnegation palette, Obscure Coral, and Intelligent Bronze (is it anal if i felt the bronzer should have been associated with amity and not erudites?).  i used 1 sweep then dabbed on a bit extra because it didn’t show well on my lcd screen and i thought it needed amping, but it didn’t.  this is more pigmented than how i like to wear my every day looks.

SAMSUNG CSC this is me with a look from the Erudite palette (didn’t erudites wear blue? why is there no blue in the Erudite palette?), Misty rose and Gleaming Pearl but no bronzer. overall, i’m very pleased with my Collector’s Kit. i think it has great value and would be a great starter kit for someone’s neutrals collection, a fan of divergent, or a nude collector.  i’d happily pack one of faction eye palettes and the cheek palette for a weekend trip. Abnegation and Erudite eye palettes have nice colors that blend out well and build up nicely, making it fool proof for beginners and versatile for pros.  Dauntless eye palette rounds out the collection with all dark, smokey colors.  please visit back soon for a more in-depth look at the eye palettes and a look from the erudite palette!  i know it’s sold out right now online, but it is going to be restocked.  if you’re in the pasadena area, the Sephora there gets shipments every tuesday and thursday.

Readers, tell me what you think! are you a divergent fan?  do you own any of the Divergent line or waiting to get your hands on one? not a fan? leave your thoughts down below!

hello world~

hi~ welcome!  i’m joy.  well, it’s my middle name but it’s easier to spell and pronounce so let’s stick with that.  i’ve always been fascinated with colors in the form of makeup and skincare, but since i’m a total homebody, i felt it was wasteful to have a lot of it.  then i met my boyfriend who eventually admitted to me that he found smokey eyed makeup really hot.  since my stash of makeup was geared toward a light swatch of light to medium colors, i took his confession as a great excuse to revamp my collection.  hours of research on tools and palettes turned my fascination into a full blown obsession, and before i knew it, i acquired a huge collection.  slowly my looks evolved and improved.  my friends complimented me on the change and encouraged me to start a blog.  at first i brushed it off thinking that i didn’t really have anything different to offer than the many other great blogs that were already out there, but slowly i realized i may have something to offer.  i really disliked how some shadows take a lot more effort to look true to pan and wish i had known that while i was reading reviews on it.  i also love comparisons so you’ll be seeing a lot of that.  i will tell you if i’m ditching an old favorite just because i have something new that’s equally great or if i prefer it on a permanent bases.

with a full blown obsession in makeup, skincare naturally follows. after all, you need to find the most gentle and efficient way of taking it off and nourishing it after right? plus after 30, who doesn’t have a bit of sun damage or scarring to fix or think about a little preemptive prevention?  i’ll admit my attention span is a little short here.  i’m always eager to move on to see if i can better my skincare routine so products that last longer than 2 months on my counter are significant although i’m trying to improve in that area.

last but not least, there will be a little bit of food and supplements featured in this blog.  almost 2 years ago i was diagnosed with lupus and mild sjogren’s.  this caused a crack down from my boyfriend in eating out and the beginning of my search for healthy recipes that fit both my poor culinary skills and my extremely fussy taste buds.  i’ll showcase supplements and other things that i’ve discovered along the way to made a huge difference with my autoimmune problems.

truecolorjoy is both about the happiness that color brings (and makeup is easier than painting walls) and an internal journey for me as i try to expand my horizons.  i hope to share some helpful information, my passion and encouraging you to broaden your own horizons.