Showing posts with label Review. Show all posts

10 Books I've Read Recently


I've been going through quite a few audio-books on my commute and have a new found love for Nora Roberts' novels so I've read a ton of her books and have purchased a few more to read. I also must add that I don't purchase books without reading the ratings, so all of my picks came highly recommended and have, at the very least, 3 stars in my personal opinion

Favorite Brunch Spots in the US


When we travel for quick weekend trips within the US, I usually pick a must-try brunch spot ahead of time so we can eat and experience brunch in new settings. I'm sure the list of excellent brunch spots within the US is very lengthy but these are my favorite gems that offered an amazing experience. Titles are clickable if you want to read my reviews.

Bridge House Tavern - Chicago
 



Mr. B's Bistro - New Orleans




Pinewood Social - Nashville




Ophelia's Electric Soapbox - Denver




Maxine's on Shine - Orlando

image source





Ok now I'm craving brunch. Is it the weekend yet?

Travel-Size Essentials

                                
We travel quite often so I have a toiletry bag that's always packed with travel size products for when we decide to take off for a weekend trip or even a longer vacation. While I'm known to over pack in the clothing and shoes department, I have my toiletry selection under control. Other than the basic necessities like toothpaste, shampoo & conditioner, deodorant and a razor, these are some of the other essentials I take with me on vacation (in travel-size).



 A few other travel-size things that I also pack are dry shampoo, body spray/perfume, hand sanitizer, a good quality chapstick, and aloe vera (for tropical destinations).

When it comes to getting adequate sleep on vacation, I usually also bring along some melatonin for those restless nights. Until recently when I tried ZzzQuil Nighttime Sleep-Aid (sample from Influenster). I went out and bought a full pack because it helps you fall asleep within 20 minutes and doesn't leave you feeling groggy the next morning.



I've talked about being a non-morning-person before, probably because I'm the exact opposite and prefer to stay up late but that isn't practical when you have a 8-5 pm gig and need to be up at the crack of dawn. So I really like how ZzzQuil helps you sleep soundly for about 7-8 hours. The best part is the ingredients are non-habit forming because it's solely made for sleep and not for pain or sickness. While I wouldn't take this every night, I definitely need it from time to time when the night owl in me decides to come out to play.


I received a sample packet of ZzzQuil Sleep-Aid complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.  The review above is my true and honest opinion. #ZzzQuil, #SleepLovers, #ad, #gotitfree @Influenster

Silky Hair & Stylish Gear


Healthy hair and cute yet comfortable clothing and shoes are a continuous improvement battle in my life. I often buy things that just don't work so I tend to stick with products for a lifetime when I do find something that works 100%.

A big part of the battle is finding products that are actually effective for my hair type which is naturally very thick and wavy. I blow-dry my hair after washing to get the straight look that I typically rock on a daily basis. On top of being thick, it can be very frizzy in the Florida humidity so hot tools and hair serum are a necessity for me!


I shared my torturous hair drying routine two years ago in this post but since then it became significantly easier when I discovered the Revlon Hair Brush Dryer. Having explained my hair type, I have to say all three of these products provided to me by Influenster couldn't be more perfect!


I received a VoxBox of goodies from L'Oreal Paris' new Extraordinary Oil product line and I was immediately shocked they sent full size bottles. I was excited to try them but honestly a little hesitant because the name of these products led me to believe they have a very oily consistency. That was definitely not the case.

L'Oréal® Nourishing Shampoo & Conditioner 
I'll start by saying that all of these products contain lightweight oils which are nourishing for dry or damaged hair but not noticeable. The shampoo lathers up so well which is great for thick hair and I love how the conditioner left my hair feeling super soft and silky. I will definitely purchase again!

This serum has ultra-light oils and absorbs very quickly in my hair to fix the frizz without leaving an oily look. I absolutely love this serum and use it after blow-drying to soften and style my hair.

Outfit Details:


L'Oreal Paris provided these products for review purposes via Influenster. This review is my true and honest opinion based on actual product use.

Summer Essentials


When I think of summer, I think of weekend days lounging by the pool and a few trips to the beach for some sun, sea and sand. Luckily I already have a few trips planned so I'm excited about that! With the weather almost being summer-like here, I have my favorite essentials ready to go.

Packed Beach Bag
I have a beach/pool bag that remains packed with some essentials all year round. Can I go to the pool or beach all year round? That would be a no. But why unpack everything when I can have my beach bag ready to grab and go for that one perfect weather day.

Here's what's in the bag:
* his and hers beach towels
* waterproof bluetooth speakers
*  SPF sunscreen
* SPF tanning oil spray
* Lip balm with SPF
* hand sanitizer
* small body spray
* small hair brush
* a fedora hat



Swim Suits & Cover-ups
Of course some good fitting swimsuits and cover-ups are needed and, from the name of my blog, you can probably tell I'm all about cute bikinis and just swim wear in general. PHAX Swimwear, a fashion focused swim/surf brand out of Colombia, contacted me about their brand hitting the shelves in the USA and asked if I would be interested in ordering some of their products. Of course I was interested!



I chose a beautiful jade-colored bikini to go with the Samburu cover-up from their Spring 2016 Ortulivo Beah Lookbook. I can tell that all of these pieces are great quality because of the super soft material. Their swim suits contain LYCRA fiber which helps the material to move and stay true to your shape to get that perfect fit.

PHAX is offering my readers a generous 30% discount at checkout with the coupon code: shopmartinisbikinis

 

What I really like about PHAX swim wear and clothing is that their product line is very fun and vibrant which is perfect for summer. Everything is also hand made (from cut to stitch to embroidery) so that's pretty impressive! I get nervous ordering swimwear and underwear online because you really need these things to fit perfectly for your body. Thankfully the sizes for the bikini top and bottom piece were perfect. The cover-up (pictured below in blue) I ordered a small but it runs more like a medium. The good thing is loose fitting cover-ups are comfortable so it doesn't need to be returned.

 

Sunglasses
I have a few pairs of sunglasses that I rotate depending on the outfit and occasion. My current favorite are these Michael Kors Aviators pictured below. They have purple mirror lenses which you can't really tell from the photo.



Hydration
Never leave home without some cold water or sparkling water bottles to stay hydrated and if you're looking for some spike in your refreshments, I'd definitely recommend Skinny Girl Cocktails. They are all light and refreshing but I happen to love the Mojito and  Cosmo cocktails.



Waterproof Flip Flops
I mean this goes without saying. Comfortable shoes in general are always needed throughout the year but when it comes to summer, cute flip flops are a must. My current lust are these beauties from Tory Burch which are also waterproof.

Activities & Fun
If you're heading to the beach or the pool some entertainment might be needed. This could be reading material or water/land activities and sports such as volleyball or racket ball. Whatever peaks your interest, make sure to pack it in your beach bag so you don't get bored.


What are your summer essentials?



The PHAX products were provided to me complimentary in return for my honest review of the products. All opinions stated above are honest and accurate based on my true experience.

Crabbie's Ginger Beer Cocktails

I've been on a serious Moscow Mule kick recently when we go out for dinner and drinks because they're so light and tasty. I decided to look up the recipe the other day and realized they're in fact super easy to make at home with just a few ingredients ~ ginger beer, lime and vodka.



I recently discovered Crabbie's Alcoholic Ginger Beer which comes in three different flavors ~ Spiced Orange, Scottish Raspberry and the Original Ginger Beer which all taste amazing. It's made with real ginger that's steeped for up to six weeks, then blended with exotic spices to create a unique and flavorful ginger beer. I immediately fell in love with these ginger beers because they're not too sweet and already contain 4.8% alcohol.

These are best served over ice with a slice of lime or lemon. I did a little sampling over the weekend and whipped up some seriously good cocktails with Crabbie's Ginger Beer to enjoy at home while we watched movies. They were so good I have to share!


Raspberry Dark & Stormy 

Ingredients:
1/2 oz dark rum
Crabbie's Raspberry Ginger Beer
Lime wedge
Glass full of ice

What To Do:
Combine the rum and ginger beer in a glass full of ice cubes, stir well and garnish with lime wedge.


Crabbie's Moscow Mule

Ingredients:
1 1/2 oz vodka
3/4 oz. lime juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup
3-4 mint leaves
Crabbie's Original Ginger Beer

What To Do:
Crush the mint leaves gently in the bottom of your glass. Add the lime juice, simple syrup, and vodka along with some ice cubes. Then add a splash or two of Crabbie's Alcoholic Ginger Beer depending on your preference or taste. 



These products were provided to me complimentary in return for my honest review of the products. All opinions stated above are honest and accurate based on my true experience.

Skincare Essentials


I talked about my favorite facial products last year in this skincare review  and shared several tried and true products that have stayed in my rotation for many years. Since then, I've tried some new products although many remain the same. Here are my faves:



 I really like the Yes to Grapefruit Facial Wipes but will probably try the cucumber scent next purchase. I've been using the L'Oreal Go 360 Clean Facial Cleanser on a daily basis for a few years because I love how it softly exfoliates your skin to remove dirt or makeup so I won't be changing out this product anytime soon.

I use my Clarisonic Mia along with Philosophy's Purity Cleanser about once a week. Since I don't use the Mia very often, the battery dies very quickly so that can be frustrating when it dies half way through my cleaning routine. There are also cheaper options such as the Olay Advanced Cleansing System that do the job just as well (I've tried both).

I've been using Cetaphil's Gentle Antibacterial Cleansing Bar since high school and will probably never give it up. It's very gentle on your face and does a great job of cleaning and hydrating. K also likes how it works and uses it on a daily basis. The Murad Oil-Control Mattifier moisturizer is a new product recommended to me when I recently went to get a facial and expressed some disappointment with my skinny getting shiny throughout day. I only use it on my forehead (problem area) and use my regular Garnier Anti-Sun Damage Moisturizer on the rest of my face. It does it's job well at mattifying to prevent a shiny face.

 I don't use Tarte's Maracuja Oil daily but I like applying it at night after showering and cleaning my face thoroughly. Maracuja oil is a hydrating treatment that helps with anti-aging and makes your skin firmer, brighter and smoother (will not cause breakouts) so this is what I use to fight against wrinkles. Body Shop's Camomile Gentle Eye Makeup Remover has been in my rotation for probably 15 years and I have never come across any product better so it will remain as one of my staple skincare products. It's VERY gentle on your eyes and not oily, it smells good and works really effectively so I only have good things to say about this makeup remover and definitely recommend it.

What are your tried and true facial products?


January Beauty Haul


I was finally in need of a good beauty haul from ULTA last month to repurchase some of my favorite basics and try a couple new items recommended by friends and my esthetician.

1  / 2  /  3  /  4  /  5  /  6  /  7  /  8



Repurchases:

I received a sample size of the Better Than Sex Mascara almost a year ago and it's just about to be done so I decided to get the full size since it's one of my favorite mascaras. I do still love the less expensive Maybelline Falsies Mascara for everyday wear so I mainly use the Better Than Sex Mascara for nighttime wear or special events such as weddings.

This is my third tube of Tarte Amazonian Foundation because I love the full coverage it provides and the variety of skin tones it caters for. I reviewed this foundation in greater detail here but if you're looking for full coverage, this foundation is on point.

I bought this same EcoTools Bamboo Brush Set about 5 years ago and although I cleaned my brushes often, I decided it was definitely time for a new set. I use the bronzer brush on a daily basis and the price tag is very affordable for such amazing quality brushes.

The Clarisonic Radiance Brush Heads are a self explanatory purchase but I did decide to go with the 'radiance' brush heads instead of the 'normal' this time around to see how they differ. I don't notice a huge difference but they are both soft and gentle on the skin which is ideal.

I used to buy expensive toners until I found the SO Totally Clean Facial Toner. The smell isn't harsh and it works just as effectively as the expensive toners except with a $5.99 price tag at Ulta.

NYX Butter Lip Glosses are a repeat purchase times a million. When you find the perfect texture lip gloss (not sticky) that comes in a variety of pretty colors and is 1/4 the price of expensive cosmetics it warrants a repeat purchase for life.

New:

The Murad Facial Moisturizer was recommended to me by my esthetician recently when I went for a facial. I expressed to her that my combination skin often results in a slightly shiny forehead later in the day yet the lower half of my face seems to be on the dry side. She recommended the Murad moisturizer because of it's matte finish for oily skin and I've noticed a remarkable difference.  

Essie Gel-Setter Nail Polish - The set includes a colored nail polish + a gel-setter top coat and no lamp is needed to set the polish. I chose the color Watermelon which is very pretty in person and I thought it would be perfect for Spring and Summer. Admittedly I haven't used this set yet because my nails are currently the shortest they've ever been so I'm working on growing them out before prettying them up.



Well, that was a mouth full of a post. If you made it this far, thanks for reading my reviews and feel free to share any of your favorite beauty products that are a must try!

Best Resaurants in Orlando


There are so many amazing restaurants in Orlando beyond this list but these are some of my favorite places to visit for lunch, dinner, and brunch. I figured it would be a helpful guide for visitors or even locals looking to dine out and enjoy some of the best cuisine in the Central Florida area.

Shari Sushi Lounge
 Shari is my all-time favorite sushi restaurant located downtown Orlando. They have happy hour on sushi rolls and drinks everyday from 5-7pm so I frequent here often with my girl friends to catch up.


Santiago's Bodega
I'm a huge fan of Spanish tapas. Santiago's has an amazing tapas dinner menu and also one of the best all-inclusive brunches in town.

Dinner

Brunch


Known for their incredibly huge portion sizes and delicious food. I went for brunch recently with some coworkers and we felt like it was a Man vs Food challenge. Definitely a must if you want to indulge!


This French restaurant is located in Epcot's France pavilion. We went for Valentine's day on a double date with some friends and had a nice view of the fireworks over the lake. K said it was the best steak he's ever had and my roasted duck was pretty fantastic. 




Cafe Tutu Tango
An art-inspired tapas restaurant featuring local artwork and live entertainment including belly dancing, magicians and live music. Located in the heart of International drive, this place is a must!



Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine
K and I had a lunch date at Bosphorous located on Park Avenue in Winter Park and I felt like I had died and gone to heaven. The food did take quite long to come out but it was well worth the wait. A family-owned Turkish gem in Central Florida.


Pom Pom's Teahouse
I absolutely love this Teahouse and Sandwicheria located downtown Orlando for some eclectic sandwiches and amazing teas. The chef is originally from Thailand and she has created very unique sandwiches plus soups and sides that are just out of this world!

 
Maxine's On Shine
One of my absolute favorite brunch spots located in a neighborhood street in the heart of Orlando featuring live music, amazing food and fabulous drinks. Maxine herself makes an appearance often and stops by your table to chat.

Brunch


Dinner


Taverna Opa
I rang in my 30th birthday a few years ago with a bunch of friends at Taverna Opa. The Greek food and entertainment makes this restaurant a fun spot to visit to celebrate. Dancing on the tables also happened because they encourage it. Expect to have a good time here located in Pointe Orlando.


We've been back since my birthday to take my BFF visiting from Trinidad to have a nice dinner out since the environment and food are amazing! 

 
Spice Modern Steakhouse
Spice offers a nice atmosphere for a date night with steak and sushi being their specialty. I'm a big fan of their brunch and lakefront scenery.




Sushi and burgers seem like a strange combination for a restaurant but we decided on this spot for a blate with Ashley and I was so pleasantly surprised. Naturally I went for the sushi and it's so different from the typical sushi restaurant but absolutely delicious in it's own way. 




Tell me about your favorite restaurants so I can come visit some day!