Quick 6: Last Minute Summer Camp Essentials

My girls start day camp on Monday. Which means that today, I am scrambling on Amazon and a couple other select quick-ship, tried and trusted online retailers to get my sh#t together. Not sure when I became a "down to the wire" kind of person, but I sorta blame Amazon Prime for enabling me. Not that I am complaining...

Here are the 6 things I am currently ordering so they (and I) can have an easy, breezy first day of camp next week.

1- LunchBots Bento Cinco Stainless Steel Container: Okay- so maybe I am admitting something I shouldn't here but if I am being honest- I literally pack lunch to show the counselors that I am a good mom. Because I know Goldie will barely nibble at it- instead waiting until she gets home to raid the pantry. But that is sort of what makes this perfect- the small sections are easy to fill with leftovers and cut up fruits and such. Even like 4 strawberries looks impressive in this! They are dishwasher safe- because I hate few things more than scooping bits of rice out of the crevices of a lunch box container- and free of toxins and such (maybe I should have led with that since people really care about that stuff- but for me- it is kinda more about showing off that I can pack instagrammable lunches for my kid to her camp counselors). I also own this version- a little smaller but still totally substantial for a little person's lunch. 

2- Emoji Ice Packs: I like using these to keep lunches cool more than the giant hard case ice packs that weigh down a backpack. And really, in my experience, once inside a zippered lunchbox (I put my LunchBots container inside an old school lunch bag so I can include napkins and a fork and avoid any spillage), the smaller ice packs stay super cold and keep everything nice and cool. I put 2-3 in each morning- and in the off season, they make great boo-boo healers. 

3- Zulu Water Bottle With Straw: We go through water bottles like, well, water. No idea where they go- but they are somewhere with missing socks and scrunchies. Love that these can go in the dishwasher, they have yet to leak in a backpack, and compared to many similar products out there, these are really well-priced at just under $10 a pop.

4- Rockets of Awesome Clothing: 80% of my girls' summer go-to play clothes are from here- and at camp this summer they will be living in the soft tees and sporty (but not too sporty) shorts. I am a HUGE fan of the ease (I adore the options to have mix and match pieces sent to you seasonally- keep what you want, return the rest in like 1.5 steps- and then you can purchase one-offs via the website throughout the season), the whimsical (and wide range) of styles and the prices (one of Alexa's all time favorite dresses that she wears once a week to this day was only $24 and still feels like new). 

5- Soft Dry Kids Hooded Towel: Yay for these super easy to pack in a backpack towels that I buy en masse via Amazon Prime. Alexa (age 7 and super tall) is too big for these- but I relish in Goldie's ability to use it as a towel and then bask in it as a coverup, and the fact that it rolls up small so she can tuck in back in her toddler-sized backpack all by herself makes her feel like a total bad a**. 

6- Oliver's Labels: There are a million label making sites out there- I love this one because the shipping is crazy fast (I opted for 3-5 day shipping but my labels arrived within 2 days), they have a mini size which is perfect for putting on sunscreens and snack bags, and the quality is amazing. I buy these for clothing and swimsuits- simply stick them on and even if you wash your kid's favorite pair of tattered blue shorts 8 times a week, they don't budge. I speak from LOTS of experience.

The Easiest Piece That You Never Thought You Would Love (But You Will. Big Time.)

I am SO not the girl who proactively buys bodysuits. Until I bought one. Admittedly, under the false impression that it was a a bathing suit. However, upon realizing that you can not, in fact, wear it in the water, I became the 39 year old girl, living in the suburbs, with 2 kids and a totally cliché SoulCycle and tennis addiction, who bought a bodysuit. (Mine in the photo above is from the best store- Boho Hunter in Miami- OBSESSED with the curated assortment of pieces from South American designers!)

Let me tell you this, people: bodysuits are the easiest thing ever to wear.  No shirt riding up, no messy, unflattering wrinkling, no accidental butt exposure- just a top that stays where you want it to and looks super polished, without you having to think about it one bit. Pair said bodysuit with something high-waisted, and you are GOLDEN.

THIS white one is the essential adult bodysuit- I am obsessed. The ruffles conceal any belly situation and look boho-girly, and the best part is that when the wind blows, you don't have to fear exposing major midriff, because- SURPRISE!- it's anchored to your body!

And in the basics category- every style blogger is buying this take on the classic tee by the dozen, and I completely understand why- all the casual cool, none of the bunchy bulk.

I am equally obsessed with this (majorly on-sale, BTW) pale yellow bodysuit, most flattering neckline. This ballerina-inspired silhouette is so chic (esp in navy) and, were it not a bodysuit, the wardrobe malfunction probability would be off the charts. 

One shoulder tops are more practical (because they actually stay in place, and also in most cases, the construction offers some boob support so you can potentially go bra-less) in bodysuit form- and this modern black one is perfectly tailored and love the structured ruffle. This black one has the best neckline draping, and can be worn on or off shoulder.

Florals are also fun to try- this one is amazing under a suit (again, always lays flat and polished, no tuck-in bulk) or with high-waisted 70's inspired jean. With a light wash denim skirt, this is perfection (and the price is crazy good too.)

SHOP THE POST:

 

 

Milk Makeup Review: The Amazing, The Good, And The Meh.

Jenn-Falik-Milk-Makeup-Review.jpg

Since its launch, I have heard mixed reviews from my makeup artist friends on Milk Makeup products. From get-go, the brand never really "spoke" to me- if that makes sense at all? I didn't feel a connection to the whole "Vegan Cosmetics" angle, the leveraging of the Milk Studios name (a duo of very popular photo studios in NY and LA) felt a little contrived for me. But I did always take notice of the innovative packaging, and eventually, as with all beauty things, I had to try it. 

Recently, my friend Vanessa told me she bought the Watermelon Brightening Serum Stick after seeing some crazy video tutorial where a blogger did her whole face in a glowy finish using it.  In March, saw the Matcha Cleansing Stick on display at the Cosmetic Executive Women Beauty Awards product demo. Subsequently, I ran out of my beloved Charlotte Tilbury Beach Stick and the Milk Makeup version looked good, so I figured why the heck not fill a cart and check this stuff out, right? Right.

Below, my honest rundown on the products I purchased:

Holographic Face Gloss I LOVE LOVE LOVE this. The holographic makeup moment happening right now is RIGHT up my alley- I love iridescent-to-the-point-it-doesn't-look-totally-natural-but-I-am-okay-with-that skin. And this face gloss is AMAZING. I love love love it. The ultimate multi-tasker, I use it on my cheekbones for a hi-shine highlight, but I also use it on my lids as an eye gloss (did you guys ever use the CK One Eye Gloss back in the day? I was obsessed). When I want to go majorly futuristic (hair in oversized space buns, some sort of outfit with clean, modern lines), I also dab this on my lips over a matte neutral pink lip color. A tiny dab goes a LONG way to create a dewy effect that no traditional highlighter can come close to, in my opinion. For some, it may be too bold- but it really is so versatile and easy to customize (for example, blend it with a foundation to just bump up the glow factor a notch), I think everyone should own it.

Lip & Cheek Stick: First off, this thing is gigantic. As in, the $24 price tag makes it a GREAT deal. The size actually is perfect for quickly dabbing on the apples of the cheeks- not having to rub it around to cover the area helps to avoid any unevenness or streaky effect. The formula is very easy to blend- probably thanks to the inclusion of Mango Butter, and something Milk calls "Milk Melt Technology" but as the girl who came up with catchy phrases like that for dozens of makeup brands in  my past life, I am not even gonna go there. Compared to my beloved Charlotte Tilbury Beach Stick, this has a more sheer finish- like a true "just ran a mile...or ten feet" flush. I used the Beach Stick on my lips as the finish was a little thick and chalky for me, but this actually works beautifully on lips too. Making it a true multi-tasker, as opposed to a "naming gimmick" one trick pony.  I bought the PERK shade- which they call a coral, but feels like a pinky-coral to me. Thumbs up, people. Thumbs up. 

Watermelon Brightening Serum Stick: I think the whole "watermelon" thing is one of those "made-for-Instagram" trends, pretty in pictures and sounds happy and fun and juicy and millennials who take pretty "shelfies" love to post those kinds of things ad nauseum.  But I was willing to forgo that because, hey, it is in stick form and to have a serum in a stick just sounds interesting to me. Like fried oreos on a stick. Or a pickle on a stick. So, as an on-the-go skin refresher, I am a fan- it feels so refreshing and cooling, and when I feel like my complexion looks kinda dry and blah, rolling this on and dabbing it in with my fingertips does give an instant infusion of hydration. But I don't see myself using this every day as part of my morning/evening skincare routine (except when I travel maybe, because it is so portable.) And since consistency is key for delivering real results (in this case, the product description talks about how swiss garden cress sprout extract will help brighten by reducing the appearance of dark spots), I see this more as a quick fix to throw in my makeup bag than a cornerstone of my skincare regimen. 

Mini Blur Stick Matte Primer: Minis are so damn cute, I had to try one. And I chose poorly. Here is why- covering your entire face with a teeny tiny stick is tedious, and the primer really doesn't give you any hints as to where you have already put it on- there is very little "pay off" (beauty nerd term for the actual appearance of the product once it is applied on your face), so I missed a bunch of spots and as such, my foundation didn't go on very well afterwards. Not worth the effort to apply it, in my opinion. Plus, there are so many good primers out there right now that also contain SPF, I would rather use something with an added benefit if I am adding that extra step into my routine.

Have you guys ever tried any Milk Makeup products? Would love to hear about your favorites (and least favorites) so I can add them to my cart when I inevitably go back on the site and repurchase THIS gem. 

SHOP THE POST:

 

Why I Am Obsessed with Beauty Products Again, and I Hope You Will Be Too...

Recently, I have gotten back into beauty in a big way. It is where my career really started- as a 22 year old makeup and skincare publicist. I spent so many years in the trenches with many of the most awesome (and, sometimes, in all honesty, awful) beauty brands out there. And lately, all I want to do is research skincare, stalk cult products, and write about every detail. 

Often times my beauty escapades were as a publicist, figuring out how to position new brands and new products, predict the on-trend under-the-radar sleeper hits,  build brand buzz and create news when there really was nothing newsy to share. Other times, it was as an on-air expert, scouring the market for those diamond-in-the-rough holy grail products, pulling together trend reports, and figuring out the unique backstory angles to share wth viewers about my personal favorites. 

Every single day I devoured the beauty articles in WWD, and on Fridays (the WWD Beauty issue, my favorite day of the week) I spent hours hanging on every word. Then, I got kinda burnt out and a little jaded. Sometimes, when you know too much- when you see too much- you lose the passion, ya know? So I started paying more attention to fashion- and as my life changed (kids, the 'burbs) other topics crept into my scope.

I started to take for granted just how fascinating the beauty industry was, how innovative and, in many cases, how approachable. Fascinating + Innovative + Approachable = EVERYTHING I LOVE.

Other factors that contributed to logging hours spent at Walgreens, CVS, Sephora, Ulta and scouring K-Beauty sites and obscure online skincare importers? Read on...

1- My chats with Hannah Simpson, the wonderful woman I go to for my Microcurrent Facials (more on that HERE and also check out the Highlight on my Instagram for the play by play)- her passion for skincare and her belief in the way your skin can truly transform through the right products and treatments is infectious.

2- A renewed interest in stalking the product-related posts- including new favorites, launch event news, etc.- of my OG "beauty girls". See, most of us grew up together in the biz (Polly Blitzer, Alyssa Hertzig, Andrea Lavinthal, Amber Katz, Lori Bergamotto, Stephanie Huszar, Melissa Gold to name a few- click on the hyperlinks to land on their Instagram profiles because you NEED to follow them) and even though our lives are infinitely different now, I noticed the bond over beauty doesn't really change a bit. 

3- The Instagram "shelfie" movement. Beautiful images of delicious looking products often coupled with detailed mini-reviews in the caption send me down the social media rabbit hole in the best way possible. Some of my faves? DevsDay, DirtyBoysGetClean, Off Duty Diary.

4-  A handful of expert, authentic, super-informative beauty blogs- specifically, the Brit beauty blogger with the best sense of humor to boot, Caroline Hirons and the anonymous, refreshingly honest writer behind the The Critical Babe. Reading the posts these women write bring me back to the inquisitive way I used to approach the business.

5- My impending (milestone) birthday. Forty is around the corner. I truthfully have zero issues with the number itself, and in most ways I still feel like I am in my early 20's (except  when it process a mortgage payment or fill out medical forms for my kids' summer camps or take 2 days to recover from a Tito's-on-the-rocks-with-a-splash-of-soda-and-lots-of-limes bender). But I notice subtle changes in the way I look- a little more lumpy here, a bit less perky there- and not-so-subtle changes in the way I feel when I make the effort to take care of myself. Taking care of my skin, keeping my hair healthy, slapping on makeup- these are little things that make a big difference. And as such, taking the time to find the best products, and share said products with anyone who wants to listen, is an adventure I want to go ALL IN on.

So, to make a long story still kinda long but not as long as it could be, my passion for learning about, testing and sharing skincare, makeup and haircare products is re-ignited. And I feel good about it because I know that when it comes to this subject matter, I innately know my sh#t. 

Hope you will enjoy reading my beauty content as much as I will no doubt enjoy creating it for you. 

 If you don't mind leaving a comment down below with any topics you would love to read about, or specific products or brands you want to learn about, I would be MOST grateful!

xoxo

The Easiest New Way To Update Your Cookware Like A Grownup.

 BTW- I am obsessed with the roasted cauliflower recipe in  this cookbook . You will be too.

BTW- I am obsessed with the roasted cauliflower recipe in this cookbook. You will be too.

I am starting to like to cook. The sense of accomplishment is a total rush. 

In the process of warming up to this whole cooking thang, I wreaked havoc on the cookware that we had been using since our wedding, over 12 years ago. And while I know certain high end cookware should last way longer than that, the truth of it is, they maybe should have had a novice cook like me in the test kitchen before making such claims.

For months, my husband pleaded with me to get new pots and pans. I didn't know where to start, so I ignored him completely. 

Then, I came across Made In Cookware. It felt like this brand was talking TO ME. Made FOR ME. The site design, the "voice", the whole approach took something super daunting and made it- dare I say- fun.

This direct-to-consumer brand is the brainchild of a young company sprouted out of  a 100-year old, family-run business of supplying restaurants and hotels with premium cookware. So, they aren't just some shiny, slick marketing-driven machine. They know their stuff. 

 The Made In experience begins with this survey-  basically, the most un-intimidating conversation you can have about cooking with a computer. It instantly put me at ease. (The company is based in Austin, TX and everything about it just feels Austin-y, if that makes sense.)  After answering a series of non-judgy questions about my cooking ability and aspirations, I got a customized recommendation as to what I needed to build a cookware collection that matches my lifestyle. Effortless and accurate- my favorite combination. 

Based on my survey results, The Core Kit was the best fit. (LOVE that they have already grouped products into 5 kits- so you can fill your cart in one click.) I opted for the minimum number of lids- because I can never seem to efficiently store the damn lids anyway- and- how smart is this?!- Made In lids are sharable between similar sized pieces. The kit includes these 5 things  and is $419 (shipping is free.) Sure, you could get significantly less expensive pots and pans, but you will also get significantly less quality pots and pans- and at this point in my life, I am too grown up to be using a random assortment of $18 pots and pans from discount stores.

 The essentials included in the Core Kit- details  here .

The essentials included in the Core Kit- details here.

The quality is awesome- the pieces are substantial without feeling overly clunky. The stainless steel heats evenly, the handles are easy to grip, and they really did think of every detail in the execution of the product design and customer experience- two things that I greatly appreciate.

Oh- and the labels are made from plantable paper- an unexpected bonus that resulted in a bunch of extra basil going into the garden this year! Now, to find the recipes in which to use it all...

Made-In-Cookware.JPG

*Note: Made In Cookware gifted me the product, however, this post is not a sponsored post, and all opinions are completely my own.