Posted in Random Stuff

Top Ten Thursday- January Highlights

Hello WordPressland!

Here we are, the last Thursday, and, last day of January! January has flown by pretty fast, right?

Today’s top ten theme may be something I write about each last Thursday of the month.  Highlights to reflect on to wrap up the month. 

I’m always trying to find the bright spots in life. Anything I can do to help me see..that life is pretty damn good even if it feels otherwise. Actually, this is a great exercise for everyone to do, as well. Think about your last thirty days.  You’d be surprised at what you will recall, where your mind leads you, and/or, what you learn about yourself. Some of your recollection may not be all that exciting, but parts of it may have brought you happiness. It may not be all that positive, but it may guide you to make better life choices.  That is my point, look for the bright spots!

So here I go…

Valeria’s Top Ten Thursday- January Highlights 

  1. Physical Therapy progress! I am having double shoulder impingement issues, and the pain has definitely lessened in my left arm!  Which is a win. My right shoulder, on the other hand, is progressing more slowly. Which stinks!
  2. Papi from the Red Sox walked by us with his entourage at the hotel at Foxwoods!
  3. Danced on chairs and sang (literally) a hundred songs with friends at a fundraiser.
  4. Finally made time for myself after a time robbing December.
  5. Which also means, I finally got to spend an entire evening snuggling with my daughters, watching movies and eating cheese doodles. I love the cheese doodles.
  6. Even with a lot of food centric events this month, and that night of laziness and cheese doodles, I kept the eleven lbs I lost in December off!
  7. Received a dozen red roses this Monday, which was a great surprise. 🙂 I also love surprises!  I am always accepting flowers and gifts.. jussayin’.
  8. Oddly, my farsightedness got better by a quarter point in each eye!! New prescription is sweet!  I did, however, think I was going old-age-blind before my eye appointment.  Also, I love my opthamologist! He is the coolest guy on the planet! 
  9. Stayed up till 3AM one night talking to my husband; which would’ve left me sleep deprived but because he is my biggest cheerleader, his support made me feel so good and clear. 
  10. Counting down from weeks to days till our big vacation. We are under double digits now!! Wooo!

AHH!! I loved writing out this list!! 

Reflecting on the month, like this, I realize that not much is needed for me to feel content.  I learned that sometimes it’s wise to talk through your problems with loved ones, even if it has nothing to do with them directly.  Speaking your thoughts out loud can help you think clearly.  Also, I see that I may have a crush on my opthamologist.  haha jk! But he is a great eye doctor. 

I know that not all months may convey this good message, but January 2019 has, and I am grateful. 



Posted in Random Stuff

Top Ten Thursday- Mascara

Hello everyone!

One of my most treasured items within my arsenal of makeup is MASCARA!! Boy, do I love mascara.  Now, deciding on what type of mascara to use depends on your makeup style and lash type.  You will have to look for formulas that suit your needs.

Some of the most popular formulas out there are …

Defining: adds separation, light volume and lengthening with special pigments and polymers in the formula.  This mascara is best for those who like a more natural lash darkening.  You can build volume, but it takes more product than the others.

Thickening: adds volume to the lashes with waxes and/or silicone polymers in the formula.  This mascara is the best for thin lashes or for those who like a dramatic lash. The product will be richer than others out there.

Lengethening: adds length to the lashes with synthetic fibers in the formula.   This mascara is best for short and/or thin eyelashes.  Most of the time, thickening mascaras supply length too, so if a mascara claims only lengthening it is more likely a thinner product giving a natura lash.

Repairing/conditioning: enriched to strenthen the lashes; some ingredients can be biotin, collagen, proteins, lipids or peptides. This is a great formula for those who need an eyelash rehab or brittle lashes.

Personally, I love creating drama on my face, I prefer a deep black, lush, lifted lash and look for a thickening formula, which most companies are calling volumizing formula nowadays.

The best thing to do is to test out as many mascaras as you can!

Before I get to the Top Ten Thursday list of what products I like, let’s talk about how to apply mascara*.  Any eye makeup should be applied beforehand. Also, curling your eye lashes should be done before, on clean lashes. 

Remove the mascara wand from the tube. Remove the excess mascara from the tip of the mascara wand along the opening of the tube. (Too much mascara on the wand can cause it to be over applied- my word for that is gloppy. You don’t want to look gloppy.)

With wand in hand, look in the mirror, lift your head a touch up to lift your lashes in the visual of the mirror. Place the wand along the base of the top lashes and wiggle the wand as you swipe up to the tips of your lashes. This will leave the most coverage along the base, causing the lashes to lift up.  Do this a few times to cover the whole base of lash; until you achieve an even coating of mascara. Just note the more mascara you use the more dramatic the lashes. Then look slightly down in the mirror, swipe the underside of your top lashes with a coating.  This will thicken your lashes completely.  Then lightly touch your bottom lashes, mostly on the outer corners.

*Mascara should be new to use it properly.  Meaning, a mascara over three months old is considered old.  Most likely, it will clump, flake or feel crispy when dry.   AND NEVER, and I mean NEVER, try to salvage an old mascara by adding drops, heating it up or manipulating it in any way.  Just toss it and grab a new one.  Your healthy eyes will thank you!

Ok, now that you are armed with what to look for and how to put it on..let’s go to my mascara Top Ten Thursday list!

Valeria’s Top Ten Thursday – Mascara

  1. Lancome Monsieur Big– VOLUME FORMULA in black-  Volume formula means thickening and lengthening.  This is my all time favorite mascara. With its intense black color and creamy formula, this mascara really hits a home run in the thickening department. You can literally get away with one swipe in each direction of your lash and leave it at that.  LOVE IT. I have been using this mascara formula since it came out a couple of years ago. (Actually, bought the new Valentine’s Day edition today!)
  2. Lancome Hypnose Drama– VOLUME FORMULA in black-Volume formula means thickening and lengthening. This is my all time second favorite mascara! 🙂  The S-shaped wand helps to hug your lashes with this rich black mascara, which helps to boost your lashes.  The lasting power is perfect for most activities.  I say most as I do not use waterproof everyday, but this mascara’s waterproof sister is fantastic, too.  No flaking. No clumping. And it smells good!  
  3. Maybelline The Colossal Big Shot– VOLUME FORMULA in black-Volume formula means thickening and lengthening.  For a drugstore mascara this hits it out of the park in the formula department.  Lashes were lushly blackened without being clumpy or stiff.  My only issue with this brand/mascara is it doesn’t seem to last as long as my other favorite mascaras. After four weeks I have to toss them out.
  4. Benefit Cosmetics they’re real!– VOLUME FORMULA in beyond blue. Volume formula means thickening and lengthening. Love this mascara!!  It is perfect for those who are looking for a lush lash with lift that doesn’t flake or smudge.  The brush technology looks generic till you use it.  I would highly recommend this formula for every type of lash.  *The beyond blue color is intense and fun to wear; I get asked who makes my mascara every time I wear it. 
  5. Clinique Chubby Lash– THICKENING FORMULA in black.  The formula is thickening without clumping, though I did not find it to give high volume like say Hypnose Drama by Lancome, it is a very nice mascara . For that type of volume I had to apply several coats, which was fine.  I really enjoyed this mascara during the Summer in the blue tint, which I hope to see again on their shelves this Spring.  
  6. tarte Gifted Amazonian Clay Smart– REPAIR AND VOLUME FORMULA. Volume formula means thickening and lengthening.  First, let me say how much I love their Amazonian Clay line.  The blushes are super great!! Ok, mascara, I really like this mascara but for a less dramatic look.  I wasn’t impressed with the volumizing part of the formula.  It went on nicely and was clump free, it was just not what I wanted it to be.
  7. Estee Lauder Double Zero-LENGTHENING FORMULA in black.  The separation of the formula with brush was nice, but as this mascara claims to be lengthening, I found it to be more defining. Which, definition mascara is great for those who want a natural looking separated lash.  Just not for me.  
  8. Too Faced Better Than Sex– VOLUME FORMULA in black-Volume formula means thickening and lengthening. This mascara is more like a defining mascara than volumizing.  It did apply nicely and made my eye lashes look longer, it just didn’t give me the thickness of a lush lash that I like. 
  9. Nars Climax-VOLUME FORMULA in black-Volume formula means thickening and lengthening. This mascara is more like a defining mascara than volumizing. It was a nice natural looking mascara for someone who wants color and definition, not drama. Which this girls wants …in her lashes only!
  10. Covergirl Clump Crusher– LENGTHENING FORMULA in black. This mascara is a decent one for the price.  The brush is rubbery and curved, which hugs your lashes to apply a thick layer of mascara; though not thick enough for a dramatic look.  This mascara is the only one on this list that can literally be washed off with face wash. 

We are done already?  Wow, that was a fast list!

What are your favorite mascara brands or formulas?  Share below or on FB!


Posted in Random Stuff

Top Ten Thursday- Free Things That Bring Me Joy

Hello WordPressers!
Today’s Top Ten is of what brings me joy, and happen to not cost a thing. In a world where consumerism is King, it’s nice (and refreshing) to realize not everything we surround ourselves to invoke happiness actually costs money.

Valeria’s Top Ten Thursday- Free Things That Bring Me Joy

  1. The glow in my children’s eyes while smiling.
  2. Love.
  3. Waking to sunshine
  4. All types of jokes. Yes, even ‘dad jokes’.
  5. Laughter.
  6. Being creative.
  7. Holding hands.
  8. Snuggling in bed.
  9. Teaching my kids something new.
  10. Nature exploration/hikes on warm days.

I hope you find all the joy that surrounds you!  And that don’t cost a dime!

Posted in Random Stuff

Top Ten Thursday- Under Eye Concealers

One of the things I am asked about most, almost daily, is makeup advice.  From friends to strangers on the street, people want to know what type of makeup I use or how to apply it. Since I figure I get stopped for a reason..people want to know what looks good in real life, and/or, they have no idea what to use or how to use it, that is how I came up with today’s Top Ten Thursday.

So let’s start with some info.  Even though we all have different skin types or makeup needs, the basics should be the same.  Keeping your skin clean is a basic, so is evening out the skin is a basic.  Which is why I am starting with under eye concealer.  Concealer’s purpose is to cover discolored skin, which most of us have under the eye,.  If properly matched and used, concealer gives us the appearance of healthy glowing skin after a perfect’s night sleep. Which most of us don’t get; am I right, parents?  Concealer, also, is the one basic item that can be used to even out your whole face, regardless of beauty routine or maintenance and is usually portable so you can take it anywhere in anything. Basically, like a one-stop shop; most people can use just a concealer and that is that, while others can use it along with other makeup items.  Personally, I spot it around my discolored or problem areas before foundation (i.e. a pimples, corners of the nose, below the bottom lip).  I also like to use a concealer that has dual purpose, a product that has other skin benefits like decreasing puffiness or lines.

Before I get to the Top Ten Thursday list of what products I like, let’s talk about how to apply concealer.

Use your hands to warm the product before applying. This is actually something I was taught in 1994 when I started working for a major department store company. ‘Warming’ the product makes it smooth on better (and I use this technique for everything I put on my face, body and even hair!).  To warm it up, place a bead of concealer onto your ring finger (which uses the least amount of pressure) and rub it together with your other ring finger for a few seconds.  Then dab the concealer to your area of concern, by tapping it directly onto the skin.  Dabbing until blended. Then use a blending sponge or brush to even the blending through to the face.

Totally easy, right?! Ok, so now onto my list.  Just a FYI, my concealer choices are based on my skin type, which is normal to dry. Since I was 17, I have always leaned towards concealers that hide the look of my specific skin imperfections; uneveness, dryness, dark circles, broken capillaries, pimples.

So.. now here is my list! 🙂

Valeria’s Top Ten Thursday- Under Eye Concealers

  1. Lancome’s Maquicomplet in Correcteur- This product comes in 24 shades. The color I am suggesting here is Correcteur, a yellow, universal pigment for all tones.  This breaks the purplish-red skin, muting it, which will allow you to use foundation over it seamlessly. I like how this is not a thick formula to cover, but uses the yellow pigment to do the work.  It is also great when used over a foundation for extra coverage or to highlight your skin, like your brow bone. I have been using this product since I was 16yo.  I am now more than double that age, and STILL love it.
  2. M.A.C.’s Pro Longwear Concealer– This is offered in 16 shades. I am truly obsessed with this concealer and own it in a few shades.  The coverage is on the full side, so a little goes a long way.  Remember to dab on a small amount to start, then build coverage. This one needs no foundation over it at all.  It is also long wearing and matt; because it is a matte formulation you want to really make sure your using your best eye cream (which you should be every day anyways).
  3. tarte Shape Tape Contour Concealer– This product comes in 30 shades.  This concealer is GrEaT at masking pimples and imperfections that other formulas can’t cover.  It doesn’t leave that dry caked on look, which bothers me normally.  The formula is full coverage, so dab a little on at a time.
  4. Clinique’s Airbrush Concealer– This product is offered in 9 shades.  This concealer has a light diffusing formulation that helps to hide darkness and fills in fine lines.  It also comes in a handy twist pen.  I like this concealer because it is thin and truly does brighten up my eyes.  I have used the colors Fair, Neutral and Illuminate, as my skin color changes with the seasons, and prefer the Illuminate color.   It is more of a highlighter for my tone all year round.
  5. Clinique’s Beyond Perfecting Super Concealer – They offer this in 18 skin tones.  This product is thicker than the ones mentioned above, so the technique with this is to take a little bit at a time and dab it on with your finger till it blends in completely (preferably ring finger as it uses less pressure).  Since it is so thick you need to build coverage rather than slap it on at once. This one is great for around the face cover-ups. I like this one in the Very Fair because it also acts as a highlighter when I need it.
  6. Lancôme Effacernes Undereye Concealer– This comes in 16 shades.  This concealer’s colors are natural and lightweight; the coverage is build-able. It is also a long wearing product so it works great in the warmer months, or on vacation while at the pool or ocean.
  7. Benefit Cosmetics Lemon AidOk, this is no longer available through them, they discontinued it last year.  WHICH IS A MAJOR BUMMER, but I bought a handful when I heard the news.  You can also find some on ebay!  This is a yellow pigmented eye lid primer.  The consistency of this item was creamy but went on sheer. It works best patted over foundation
  8. Bobbi Brown Instant Full Cover Concealer– This comes in 15 shades. This concealer is lightweight, but has full coverage power. I bought this right when it launched and just ran out of it.  A little goes a long way!  It is also long wearing, so it’s great to wear at the sauna!  haha
  9.  It Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Concealer– This formula comes in 48 shades.  This product is probably the highest coverage on my list here; dab a little on at a time because buildability gets out of control if you just blob on a lot trying to smooth it on.  This formula is also great at reducing puffiness around the eyes, and doesn’t fill into fine lines.  Which is great for us who have both bags and lines.. am I right, parents?!!
  10. L’Oreal True Match Concealer–  This comes in 9 shades.  For a concealer to be under $10 AND good is rare, but L’Oreal did it.  This is an oil free, lightweight but long-lasting formula that uses light diffusing technology to give the dark imperfections no chance.  If you tend to have oilier skin/ocular area, definitely recommend this formula.  JUST REMEMBER, a little goes a long way!


This was a lot of fun!  I love sharing my favorite things, and makeup is my ULTIMATE favorite thing! 🙂


Posted in Party Time!

Christmas 2018 and NYE

Hello WordPressland!

Hope you all had a fantastic Christmas Season and a great start to 2019!

Christmastime Fun!

We had a great season exploring all that Boston has to offer before school vacation, AND after! My eldest sister is home from Italy with her family, and is for another 10 days or so, so we got right to the fun.  My niece is 10yo, and she has never seen Christmas outside of her region of Italy. And, Christmas here in the States is like nowhere else.

We glam it up in every direction with decorations, lots of trees and an amont of lights compared to none; it is quite the spectacular sight if you have never seen it before. (and as I spent one Christmas in her hometown in 2007, I know she had NEVER seen anything like a holiday here.)

We tried to do so much.. we started the first day they got here by seeing the Christmas St Bernard Dogs at Smolak Farms. Those dogs look animated, that is how cute they are in real life.  Then we celebrated our Mom’s 70th birthday, which I hosted the cake afterward.  We then took the kids to see the Nutcracker at the Boston Ballet. My family and I had a few holiday parties between, then we took a trip with all the family to see the Enchanted Village at Jordan’s.  I brought my sister with her family with me to work one day so she could walk around to shop. Then we celebrated my 42nd birthday.  After that was my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. Then we celebrate my niece’s birthday. After that we took everyone to the Museum of Science to check out the new sights there. My family and I had a party that we brought my niece to at the Hampshire House. Which was quite the kick ass party.  Then it was Christmas week, where Christmas Eve was hosted by my sister-in-law. Christmas Day was hosted by my parents, we had a sleep over and a few friend parties between as the girls slept at my sister’s one night for a kids birthday for my niece, then I hosted New Year’s Eve night, and that follows these Christmas pictures below.

All in all it was busy, but fun.  I may need a vacation soon after all this!


New Year’s Eve!

‘You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.’ -C.S. Lewis

☆☆☆Happy 2019!!☆☆☆

It had been four years since we hosted a NYE party, and with my sister home we figured why not this year?   We had decided last minute to make this party a potluck. With thirty people coming we had to figure out how to make everyone happy, and potlucks are a great way to make sure folks eat what they like… and I actually like hosting them. And man oh man, did my guys out do themselves! We offered a lot to begin with..unlimited cava and prosecco to start, a chili bar, crab cakes, taquitos, roasted mini peppers (which I can’t get enough of), a cheese plate, a literal vat of guacamole and dip with an insane amount of chips. Everyone ended up bringing so much…a monster Italian pandoro sandwich, pizza, chicken enchiladas, mini hotdogs, pulled chicken, sausages, mac n cheese, cakes, cookies, and the list goes on!! (I am swearing off food after this week btw.  I had lost 7lbs in December, and I think I have gained back five from NYE alone!! haha) But it was all well worth it.  I loved hosting this party this year even if my house still looks like it was hit with a tornado.  🙂

The next day we were sluggish, but we made it for January 1’s dinner with my family at my parents’.  Very low-key, just like I like it.  Now I am off to work.  YES I typed this all out before the kids got off to school.  Maybe 2019 will be a productive year?  haha No I know, I doubt that, too.  🙂

That’s it.  I hope you all had a great start to this fresh new year!  Best wishes for a healthy, prosperous 2019.