Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

Never put all of your eggs into one basket.

We’ve all heard this at least a million times, right? Diversify your interests. Always give yourself options. Variety is the spice of life.

My issue? Too many freaking baskets.

I always bite off more than I can chew – figuratively and literally, like the shrimp taco I had to stuff into my mouth last night before the fillings busted out and ruined my new shirt. I never want to miss an opportunity, so I sacrifice time spent on other endeavors. For example, I’d probably be able to finish a book much faster if I wasn’t writing three others at the same time.

In a nutshell? I lack focus, which in turn, gives me stress. And there is no shortage of stress in my life, so I decided it was time for me to calm the hell down. Easier said than done.

I tried meditation. I’d just heard on the radio how Hugh Jackman and his wife attributed their successful marriage to meditation, so I figured it was worth a try. Except I got too stressed out trying to block out all of my thoughts. I didn’t want to focus on my breathing. I had a book to finish, and a cover to design, and a website to design, and a blog post to write, and…well, you get the idea. No bueno.

Even my daily workouts were stressing me out. I don’t leave the house, everything gets done right here at home. But sometimes, it’s hard for me to close my laptop and start lifting, especially if I’m in the middle of a scene or designing a user interface for a new app. And that happens quite often. So much for the elusive endorphins.

Until a week ago, I thought I was doomed. But then I made a choice that has finally given me some peace. Kickboxing. I know, I know. How can beating the ever-living crap out of a heavy bag bring you peace? Simply because you are so spent at the end of an hour-long class, you can’t possibly have the energy to be stressed. You unleash everything on the bag – stress, angst, anger, frustration – you use it all against your inanimate opponent and once you are finished. you walk out of the building lighter, happier, looser and – wait for it – FOCUSED.

Healthy body, healthy and CLEAR mind.

Novel FINISHED. =)

Create A Natural & Gorgeous Face In Less Than 10 Minutes!

I love the natural look, especially when I’m already late for whatever appointment I’m running to (which happens ALL THE TIME) and don’t have time to apply a full face of makeup. Quick and flawless are my primary makeup goals during the week. So, I decided to do a video to show you exactly how to achieve that in less than ten minutes!

I did cheat a bit, so I could show you the finished product on half my face. =)

This is perfect for the summer, too, since nobody likes the feel of heavy make up clogging your pores in the hot and steamy weather.

Get this look and GET GORGEOUS!!!

it Cosmetics CC Cream in Medium

Smashbox Contour Palette

MAC Powder Blush in Mocha Matte

Tarte Lightning Palette in Skin Twinkle

Rimmel Lipliner in Cappuccino

MAC Lipstick in Angel

Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eyecolor in Rosegold

Make Up For Ever Aqua Eyes Mat Black 0L

 

Snail Slime Oozes Into Skin Care…And Onto My Face!

Snail slime. Blech. How can those two words possibly inspire thoughts of beauty?

Well, hop on the bandwagon because the gooey secretions that these mollusks leave in their wake is packed with nutrients like hyaluronic acid, glycoprotein enzymes, antimicrobial peptides, and proteoglycans (fillers that plump) – ingredients your skin needs to look healthy, youthful, and rejuvenated.

The secretion is also billed as having positive effects on acne scarring, acne prevention, dryness and hyperpigmentation. Daily application of topical products containing snail secretion is also shown to significantly reduce fine lines and wrinkles, according to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Drugs and Dermatology. – Courtesy of ABCnews.com

My hubby, who knows me and my tendency toward vanity all too well, gifted me with a box Skederm Snail Jelly Face Masks the other day, and I gave it a shot. For $16.99 on Amazon, you get a box of ten masks. You can use them 2-3 times a week to see continuous improvements in your skin’s appearance and overall health.

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Check out my review on YouTube and see for yourself! Oy, the things I share publicly in the name of beauty…

And…I’m doing a giveaway! For a chance to win a box of these miracle masks, subscribe to my YouTube channel and comment on this Facebook post that you did!

#booksbeautyblogger

A Musical.ly Featuring Peanut Butter & Jelly???

My lovely daughter Lulu has been hounding me DAILY to record a musical.ly and today, I caved. Only problem is, I haven’t worked out yet and I now have a full face of makeup. #problems

“But Mom, you hate working out anyway.”

Sigh. This is true.

Check out this musical.ly made by @ kristen_luciani with musical.ly app: https://www.musical.ly/v/MzA3NDExMzA0NzYxMTI0MjEyNzc2OTY.html. Get the app and follow me: http://musical.ly/download

Here’s what I used to create this delicious look:

Lipstick – MAC Cremesheen Lipstick – Creme Cup

Lipliner – Jordana Cosmetics Easyliner for Eyes 15 Eggplant (The one I used is Palladio, but it is no longer available for sale. The Jordana liner is a great substitute!

Blush – MAC Blush Powder – Mocha

Mascara – L’Oreal Paris Telescopic Mascara, Carbon Black

Eyeliner – Christian Dior Diorshow Art Pen Eyeliner for Women, No. 095 Noir Podium

Eye Shadow – Too Faced Peanut Butter and Jelly Eye Shadow Collection Palette

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Calling All Beauty Whores!!! Glam Up For Just $1 Until Midnight!!!

It’s the glam finale sale! Grab beauty favorites (starting at just $1) before they sell out for good! But don’t wait – this offer is only valid through 8/15.

Beautify on a budget with e.l.f. cosmetics! You cannot beat these steals!

Some of my personal faves…the 83-piece makeup collection for a mere $8 (FLOVE!), the professional travel brush set for $2 (crazy good deal since brushes are so expensive!), moisturizing lipstick for $1.50, and flawless face powder for $1.50, and hyper shine lipgloss for only $0.50 (did you see it in Allure magazine???).. You can literally create a brand-new makeup collection for around $20. Fantabulous deals!!! GAH! My finger is twitching…..

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Hmm, Hypnosis or Hydration???

I have a horrible habit. I bite my cuticles when I’m stressed, which is pretty much all the time. I’ve tried everything short of hypnosis to keep my fingers out of my mouth, and only one thing works.

Hydration.

Enter C.O. Bigelow’s All-Purpose Rose Salve.

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It’s emulsified with extra-soothing rose extract to help ease irritation and condition/hydrate the skin. Refresh your manicure and pedicure with a few quick dabs! You can use it on your lips, face, cuticles, elbows, knees… anywhere with chapped or very dry skin patches. That takes multi-purpose to a whole new level.

And it smells good. A definite beauty must-have!

Beachy…Wavy…Sexy

My hair is still recovering from the brutal winter. Highlights can only do so much to pep it up. It needs HELP in the form of PRODUCTS so I can get that sexy, beachy look without actually planting myself in the sand and getting windblown for hours. It all starts with the oil… and I’m not talking about the Australian Gold variety. Yet…

A friend of mine told me about Moroccanoil and I am a forever fan. It’s a little pricey, but so worth the money! My hair is incredibly soft and glossy when I use it. It truly is a miracle product. If your hair is colored, it adds a ton of moisture, especially at the ends where the color strips the most life from your locks.

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Moroccanoil Hair Treatment – $14.99

Now, to create those enviable waves, you need products that will give your hair texture. Start with this leave-in conditioner by Neutrogena. I initially bought it because my hair was super-staticy and this drenched it with the moisture it was craving. My hair is pretty long, so a dollop of this at the bottom helps me pull a comb through it. FYI…never brush your hair. It causes so much breakage…

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Neutrogena Triple Moisture Daily Deep Conditioner, 8.5 Ounce – $4.96

Next, I use this curl sculpt lotion by Garnier. It’s light and gives the waves shape before I secure them in place with the Garnier scrunch gel. I know, I know. You’re probably thinking…scrunch equals crunch. But not so with this product! It’s got great hold without the crunch.  Finish it off with a few spritzes of hairspray and air dry for perfect beachy waves!

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Garnier Fructis Style Curl Sculpting Gel, 5.1-Fluid Ounce – $7.96

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Garnier Fructis Style Curl Scrunch Gel, 6.80 Ounce – $2.96

I can’t say enough great things about these products. Check out my video and see for yourself. =)

I’m ready for you, summer…

Beautyblender or Beautyblunder???

Lulu and I had a whirlwind day in New York City recently, and of course, we popped into Sephora because you can never have too many beauty products.

I made a bee line for the Beautyblender display. There were so many variations to choose from, but I wanted the original hot pink sponge applicator. I’d read all the hype and gaped at the video endorsements, but I had to test it out to see if it would make me look as perfectly airbrushed and flawless as promised.

Worth the $20? Heck, YES! It lasts for three months. Daily use!

 

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Beautyblender – Original Beauty Blender

 The only thing is, you need to use a special cleanser after you’ve completed your masterpiece. If you try to clean it with regular soap, the components of the sponge will break down. So, DON’T! The cleanser is $18, but really, it’s a small price to pay for beauty. =)

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     Beautyblender Sponge Cleanser 5 ounces

And, if you need a good laugh, you can check out my video tutorial… okay, maybe “tutorial” is a bit of a stretch…

*Please note there are affiliate links used in this post.

Startup Spotlight: Let’s Go Du+ch!

Sharing experiences, creating memories, engaging with like-minded people, enjoying a richer life… this is the concept behind going “du+ch.” The company was born of longtime friends Vincent Paradiso and Debora McCleary, who partnered to create a social network for travel and entertainment. Both entrepreneurs in their previous lives, Vincent and Debora created a unique way for people to connect with others who would share the cost of excursions they may not otherwise have been able to experience due to excessive costs. Their efforts established a marketplace for sharing life’s adventures, big or small and I had the pleasure of catching up with Vincent to chat about some of his hopes, challenges, and goals for the future. I was also excited to gather a few sound bytes from Deb, who founded the premier New York beauty directory, The Debb Report. And you all know I’m a sucker for all things beauty and fashion… =)

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Vincent, prior to co-founding du+ch, you had a very successful professional career in ballet. What made you decide to delve into the world of entrepreneurship? 

I’ve always been bit of an entrepreneur. I love ballet, but I always knew I would do more. I’d always had an interest in real estate so I formed Paradiso Properties. My goal was to have multiple investment homes that I rent and manage, along with a real estate license to sell homes. But I quickly grew bored with my new career choice. I made money, but it wasn’t my passion. I started contemplating new ideas. I thought of all the amazing things I did with colleagues while on tour with NYCB, and how we would split the bill. We wouldn’t have been able to enjoy as much had we not shared the cost. I knew I had something but wasn’t ready to dive in. One night out with my girlfriend, I wanted to book bottle service at a club but didn’t want to pay $1,500. Our friends couldn’t join, so we skipped out and the idea for du+ch was born.

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Deb, what differences have you experienced between building du+ch and building the Debb Report? What unique challenges have you faced with each endeavor and how have you addressed them?

The first challenge with the Debb Report was having my partner drop out. I ended up funding the entire site on my own, and found a few friends to help me write all the salon bios that are (almost all) now in place. Updating my site is still a challenge, because aside from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram updates, I have to be on top of so much information. I realized that I couldn’t do it all on my own, especially with the time du+ch now needs. I recently hired a wonderful beauty/fashion blogger to help create original content to help grow my site and SEO. Having a partner who is fully engaged and committed is a necessity. Vincent and I definitely have a give and take when it comes to growing du+ch. We complement one another very well and have complete trust in each other, which is invaluable.  Because du+ch is an e-commerce site, it is a much more involved endeavor than my directory so Vincent and I are having to learn as we go. We constantly seek expertise from those who have done this before and people have been very generous with their time and knowledge.

Choosing the right partner is so important when founding a brand-new venture. How do you work through differences in opinion and what qualities do you each bring to the table?

(Vincent) Deb is a long time friend. We have great chemistry. When I approached her with du+ch, she was immediately ready to jump onboard. The key for us is making sure we always keep open lines of communication. She helps ground me and work through new ideas. As I’d mentioned earlier, the ideas don’t stop. You can’t attack all of them at once, you have to stay focused. du+ch would be nothing if I’d built it, then decided to go out and work on another idea. Being able to keep everything organized helps a lot. We have yet to have any major disagreements, but I believe we both are the types of people who will listen. We will acknowledge each others’ points, let them sink in, and compromise on a solution.

(Deb) Vincent and I agree on most things day-to-day, but when we disagree, we have a real ability to listen to one another and come to a joint agreement fairly easily.  Luckily we are both sane, thoughtful and committed to making du+ch a success, no matter how long it takes us.

What is the best part about running your own business?  

Exactly that, it’s mine. I’m directly responsible for its success and/or failure. I take great pride in bringing an idea to life. It’s challenging work, but when you know your hands are involved in every working aspect, it is so rewarding. I look forward to each and every day. I am constantly learning about every aspect of my business.

Du+ch is such a unique concept. Do you have plans to expand beyond more elite and trendy events? Do you see a market for couples, families, businesses?

Absolutely! We’re now in all of those markets. The beauty of du+ch is that everything on the site is user-generated. The same way you can sell anything on eBay, you can share anything on du+ch. It is a marketplace that puts the power of the sharing economy in the hands of the masses. You no longer have to build an app to enter this space, you can use our platform to share anything you want. Every user, individual or corporate, can host and search for anything they want to share. The look of our brand is luxurious, but users can share free events, basic group packages, or even ultra luxe experiences. We take the social element of Facebook events, the payment features of Eventbrite, and combine them into one site. The greatest thing is you can reach more than just your current circle. The point is, friends cannot always join in the fun. With du+ch, you can find those who can, get to know one another, and pool your funds to make anything within reach. The great thing about du*ch, and what separates us from a Groupon/Eventbrite, is our social transparency. Every user has a profile with reviews and verifications, so you can meet new people and feel comfortable sharing with them.

If you knew then what you know now, how might you have advised yourselves before launching du+ch? Any big aha! moments?

I would have been a lot more specific in the design and build of the website. I had it in my head, but translating it to developers was difficult. They needed every single specification and I didn’t anticipate providing them that level of detail. I would have also done more research on payment processors. When we create the app, I am going to document every last detailed requirement for the developers. I won’t leave any stone unturned.

What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur? 

Discipline, focus and creativity. It is so important to stay disciplined. There are too many distractions surrounding us everyday – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. You have to resist the temptation and prioritize. You also have to focus on your goals, plan your short- and long-term strategies and then execute your plans to achieve them. That said, you have to remain creative, think out of the box and fill a perceived need. Always strive to disrupt the status quo.

What have been some of your failures since launching du+ch, and what have you learned from them?

I assumed once the site was built, the audience would come. I thought people would just find it, sign up and leverage the network, which wasn’t the case. I also focused too much energy on creating the perfect user experience. Marc Cuban once said, “Perfection is the enemy of profitability, you can try to make everything perfect, but you’re losing opportunity somewhere else.” What may seem perfect and simple to one may not be the same for others. I also mistakenly assumed that upon launch, I would play a support role. I didn’t realize I was going to have get out there and sell. That is the biggest challenge. Once you fill the need, you need to let the world know you’ve filled it. You have to make your own opportunities.

To what do you most attribute your success? What would say are the five key elements for starting and running a successful business?

Taking the lessons I’ve learned from the ballet and applying them to the business world. For both, you need to exhibit the discipline, focus, and creativity mentioned earlier, but you also have to be willing to fail, deal with rejection, perform, and not let anyone define you. We failed all the time while dancing. If a step wasn’t executed as expected, you didn’t give up. Instead, you figured out what went wrong, fixed it, repeated it, and tried to perfect it.  We dealt with rejection on a regular basis. In business, you have to do the same. Not everyone will love you or embrace your vision and that’s okay. So many of my most rewarding experiences came from taking a leap. Never be afraid of failure.

How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?

Getting the word out is our biggest challenge, especially on a shoestring budget. I have seen a big jump in traffic when I advertise and share available listings on Facebook, but it hasn’t converted much yet. One experience that did convert was dinner with a private chef. The price was extremely reasonable and users wanted to take advantage of the opportunity. We are working on lining up fun yet cost-effective experiences. Giving corporate partners a chance to list group deals as they would with Groupon, but without the heavy fees, will help line up some great offerings. I also notice that when I do interviews like this, we get a major boost. I think it helps so much to get the word out. This interview engages a new audience and helps us connect with them. Some readers may skim our story, some may read the whole thing, some will love it, some will hate it, but either way I just grabbed the attention of a potential user and was able to get my entire message across. It is the best way to acquire new users and highlight interest in our brand.

Follow du+ch: Website  Facebook Twitter Google+ YouTube Instagram

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Passion Alone Can’t Pay The Bills

You can’t crush true entrepreneurial spirit. If you have it, it’s only a matter of time before you find your niche. Each “failed” attempt has to be viewed as a lesson learned. The real failure comes about when you don’t take anything away from the experience, when you don’t apply any of your newfound knowledge to your next endeavor. I knew I was meant to be an entrepreneur. It just took me some time to figure out where my roadmap was headed.

My first attempt as an entrepreneur was in the field of technology consulting. I had the skill set, I had the clients. The one thing I lacked was the passion. Couldn’t even fake it. Money was there but it just wasn’t fulfilling. So I decided to go with a new business, one that I loved.

Handbags. High fashion. It was my obsession. I thought because I had such an intense love of high-fashion handbags that I’d naturally be able to design, market and sell my own collections. However, there were significant barriers to entry I wasn’t aware of because I didn’t take the time to properly research the market and the accessory industry. As a result, quite a bit of debt accumulated over the very short life of my beloved business. Passion, though important, just doesn’t pay the bills.

Promotion concept. Painted staircase with draw in the wall. Business draw.

Promotion concept. Painted staircase with draw in the wall. Business draw.

After that “failed” attempt, I really thought long and hard about my future direction. I let my imagination run wild and decided to write a novel. Being an independently published author is a business just like any other. You develop and perfect a product, market and distribute it to the masses. Again, I was wearing many hats. The difference this time was that I’d done research on the industry and I maintained that critical element of passion.

Along the way (because the entrepreneurial spirit cannot be quelled) I partnered with one of my author friends to build and launch an online directory for authors called Author Navigation – a one-stop shop for all services needed to help polish and perfect a manuscript for the masses. It’s still early days and we’re still trying to gain momentum but we’re slowly making a name for ourselves.

Always strategizing, always planning, always envisioning…ALWAYS.

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