If you've never tried them, I highly recommend you scoot your butt over to smashbox.com, sephora.com or ulta.com and check out what they've got. Or if you're lucky enough to have a Sephora or Ulta near you, go check 'em out in person!
Smashbox, if you don't know their history, was founded by Davis and Dean Factor, great-grandsons of legendary Hollywood makeup artist Max Factor (yes...as in Max Factor Cosmetics that you find at Target, Fred Meyer, Wal-Mart, etc.) as a fashion photography studio in 1991. Through the years, they expanded and in 1999 began their cosmetics line, Smashbox Cosmetics.
My faves from Smashbox (in no particular order):
- Photo Finish - I honestly can't live without this stuff! It is the perfect makeup primer...and in a pinch, it works as a moisturizer (long story...lol)! I use this under my Maybelline Dream Mousse Liquid, under my Bare Minerals, under my Clinique foundation, under my Smashbox Healthy Definition FX Foundation...all of which look AMAZING and last all day long with the help of this product!
- Eye Shadow Trio in Headshot - OMG...can we say the PERFECT neutral combination???? A shimmery pink, a buttery-cream color and a copper-ish brown. GORGEOUS!!!
- High Definition Healthy FX Foundation - I can rave on and on about this...it's definitely worth the price!!
It's sad when I can go to a website and say, "I have that already, dammit!" "I've tried that before. It was okay, but I don't think I'll get it again," and the ephemeral, "Oh, I wish I had the money for that one color/product."
That's me with clinique.com. I have used their skincare since I was 13 or 14 and haven't looked back since. Yes, I've tried other things but I've found something wrong with EVERYTHING ELSE! Clinique will always always always be my go-to skincare for any problem or blemish I have.
Clinique's concept is simple..."Great Skin Can Be Created". And do they ever. They work with dermatologists to develop their products and everything in their line is not only hypoallergenic, but it's allergy tested AND 100% fragrance free. So for all you sensitive-skinned girls out there who have never tried Clinique, seek them out! Clinique's representatives are some of the best in the business. You'll know the Clinique counter by the presence of employees of your local mid-to-high end department store (i.e. Nordstrom, Macy's) wearing white lab coats. If they're wearing the coat, they've gone through the Clinique-specific training and they know Clinique products inside out, upside down, backwards and forwards.
My favorites from them:
- Take the Day Off for Lids, Lashes and Lips - one word...AMAZING. In one, sometimes two swipes of each eye, you can remove all of your makeup...no matter how heavy or lightly it was applied. Also, the darkest lipsticks can be removed without leaving a stain.
- 3-Step - Their basic skin care system...cleanse, exfoliate, moisturize. Personally, when I wear makeup, I use their Rinse Off Foaming Cleanser beforehand and then follow with this. When I don't wear makeup, but feel grubby, I do the basic 3-step and I feel sooooooooo much better after doing so! The bar of soap they give you will seriously last a good 6-12 months...with normal use. The bar is HUGE! They also have a liquid soap, but I prefer the bar.
- Almost Lipstick - they have ONE color in this (Black Honey), but man oh man...it looks magnificent on ANYONE. It's a sheer, dark berry (think super-ripe raspberries or, as they describe it, "deep blackened raisin") shade that when you look at it you'll think, "Um, that's not gonna look good on me AT ALL!" Trust me...it will look amazing on you. When worn, it gives a natural hint of color to your lips I consistently pair this with the aforementioned Smashbox Eyeshadow Trio in Head Shot and I have a put-together look in no time.
- Touch Base for Eyes - this is probably, hands-down-without-a-doubt one of my favorite Clinique products EVER! It looks great as a standalone shadow (one of my quick-n-natural eye looks = Touch Base in Canvas, Clinique's Quick Eyes Eyeliner in Roast Coffee and Clinique Naturally Glossy Mascara) or as a base to whatever eye color you may use.
Moving beyond makeup...what else do I love?
Thomas Jefferson once said, "Good wine is a necessity of life for me." Lucky for me, I live only a few hours from some of the United States' most impressive wine regions. An hour or so south of me, I have Oregon's Willamette Valley, known best for their amazing Pinot Noir. Two to five hours east of me? Well...let's just say that I have a world of wine at my doorstep! Ranging from the cool, wet, marine climate of Western Washington and Western Oregon to the higher mountain country of Central Washington and Oregon to the dry, arid, desert country of Eastern Washington...I have the best of all the world's wine regions, if you ask me. Here's a few of my absolute favorites.
Cathedral Ridge Winery
Named Oregon's "Winery of the Year" in 2007 by Wine Press NW, this is my all-time favorite winery. I don't skip a beat when recommending their wines! Cathedral Ridge is located on the outskirts of the quaint town of Hood River, Oregon in the Columbia River Gorge. Hood River, and the Columbia River Gorge as a whole, is known for it's outdoor opportunities such as windsurfing, hiking and...well, outdoorsy stuff. But if you're not outdoorsy, like me, the Gorge, as it's known to locals, is an up-and-coming hotspot for wine.
Why is Cathedral Ridge my favorite winery? Well...their winemaker, Michael Sebastiani (a member of the renowned Sebastiani family from the California Wine Industry), has a passion for not only amazing wines, but wines that don't overpower your palate. I will be the first to admit that up until I tried Cathedral Ridge's Red Wines, I was not a big fan of Red wine whatsoever. Like, "Ew! Red wine is my only option? I'll drink water instead" non-fan. Then I had their Pinot Noir and WOW! I was hooked. Not only did I love their Pinot Noir, but I loved loved loved their Zinfandel and their red blends.
My "OMG...I need to buy a case of this the second I have the money" wine? Necessity Red, which is a blend of my two favorite grapes from them...the Zinfandel and the Pinot Noir. Now, if you're somewhat knowledgeable about wine, you'll know that this can be an odd pairing, but really, it isn't. The boldness of the Zinfandel is counterbalanced by the delicateness of the Pinot Noir and it makes for a very easy drinking wine.
Okay, so I've raved about the Necessity Red. My other favorites?
- Zinfandel - bold, but not spicy like some Zins. To me, their Zinfandel is the perfect wine to sip while soaking in the tub with bubbles up to your chin and candles lit.
- Bordheauxd Red - the name looks intimidating, but it's not...it's Board Head Red. Since the Columbia River is known for it's windsurfing, Cathedral Ridge decided to pay homage to those who enjoy it by making a wine that's rich and full-bodied, but dances on the palate ever-so-lightly...just like a windsurfer does on the water.
- Pinot Noir Reserve - all I can say is WOW! When you first taste this wine, you immediately get the dark cherry flavor and then it works it way to a raspberry and chocolate finish. Worth the $52 that the 2006 vintage is selling for? MOST DEFINITELY!
Duck Pond Cellars.
Located in Dundee, Oregon, in the heart of the Willamette Valley's wine region, this winery is affordable for anyone (average price is $10-$15 a bottle), but doesn't have that "this is cheap so it's my go-to get drunk wine because it's so cheap" taste. Oh no. Nowhere near it.
Founded in 1993, Duck Pond Cellars has over 800 acres of vineyards in Western Oregon and Eastern Washington. Growing in 2 very different areas allows them to showcase the grapes at their full potential.
Now, I must preface this by saying that Duck Pond has a sister winery called Desert Wind Winery in Prosser, WA (the Eastern Washington site). If you go to the tasting room for Duck Pond in Dundee, you will have the opportunity to taste wines from Desert Wind. I say sister as in they're owned by the same family. And my favorites come from both wineries.
With that being said...my favorites!
- Ruah (Desert Wind) - To me, this is a nice, jammy and full-bodied wine that reminds me of all the deliciousness of a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich. In fact, I've paired this wine with a PB&J. It has a nice subtlety to it that I can't really describe.
- 2006 Pinot Noir, St. Jory Vineyard (Duck Pond) - WOW. This is one of the spendier Duck Pond wines, but at $40 a bottle, it's worth it. This wine is nothing short of amazing. If you didn't know better, you'd thnk you were drinking a wine that's worth twice as much.
- Pinot Grigio (Duck Pond) - YUMMMMMMMMY! This is my all-time favorite white. It's a perfect balance of sweet, acidic and crisp. Nice citrus-peachy notes on the nose with a nice smooth vanilla ice cream-style finish. If you ask me, it's a wine that's just begging to be served well-chilled on a VERY hot summer day.
- Bare Naked Semillon (Desert Wind) - This aromatic wine is...well, amazing. It's high on my list of preferred whites. This has some wonderful melon and tropical fruit notes that makes it well balanced and...well...just amazing.
Okay...so I think I rambled on long enough...look for my next installment of my loves next time! :)