Entries from December 30th, 2011

December 30, 2011

cupcake taste test | favorite cupcakeries in the kansas city suburbs, revisited

Happy last Friday of the year! For all of you who are resolving to work out more and eat sweets less, you should probably think about getting one last cupcake before you 1) have to squeeze into that hot new year’s eve outfit tomorrow and 2) have to pay your first month’s gym dues the next day.

For those of you who are resolving to find the best cupcakes in your area in 2012, I have a primer for you if you happen to be in the Kansas City suburbs!

Last month, the lovely ladies at Cupcake Crusaders and I did a fun cupcake taste test series where we named our favorite cupcakeries in our respective locations (KC ‘burbs for me, Baltimore City for them).

In case you missed the series, were confused, were too busy eating cupcakes or just want to revisit some of my favorite spots in Johnson County, I’ve rounded up some pictures, snippets of the reviews and links back to the original posts for you to read and join in the conversation.

Fifth-Favorite Cupcakery in the Kansas City Suburbs: Best Regards Bakery

chocolate decadence best regards bakery overland park kansas

{Chocolate Decadence cupcake from Best Regards Bakery in Overland Park, Kansas}

For a frosting fanatic like myself, I can attest to the deliciousness of the icing on this cupcake. It was smooth, velvety and rich — yet not overpowering — and really made the chocolate decadence cupcake a gem. The cake, however, was a tad bit dry. Nothing that a glass of milk couldn’t help, but I think the amazing frosting on this cake seriously made me consider Best Regards Bakery for my top five list.

Fourth-Favorite Cupcakery in the Kansas City Suburbs: Icing Cupcakery

mint chocolate chip cupcake icing cupcakery lenexa kansas

{Mint Chocolate Chip cupcake from Icing Cupcakery in Lenexa, Kansas}

The chocolate cake was so moist and rich and the minty green frosting had the right balance of flavor and texture — not too minty, but refreshing, and creamy, but not uber-thick and gooey.

The chocolate chips on top were a nice finish. Great addition of yet another texture — chewy crunch — that really solidified the “after-dinner mint” feel of this cupcake. I would definitely buy this cupcake again.

Third-Favorite Cupcakery in the Kansas City Suburbs: Sugar Rush

peanut butter cup cupcake sugar rush olathe kansas

{Peanut Butter Cup cupcake from Sugar Rush in Olathe, Kansas}

Chocolate cake, whipped peanut butter frosting and a Reese’s on top made this cupcake heavenly. The cake was perfect like the triple chocolate’s. I liked the fluffy consistency of this frosting — how’d they get peanut butter to seem so airy instead of sticky? If you’re a pb&c kind of gal or gent, get this cupcake.

Second-Favorite Cupcakery in the Kansas City Suburbs: Smallcakes

caramel apple cupcake smallcakes olathe overland park kansas

{Caramel Apple cupcake from Smallcakes, with locations in Overland Park and Olathe, Kansas}

The best thing about autumn is the arrival of caramel apple everything in candy and dessert shops. Caramel apple cupcakes are a little easier on your teeth — light caramel frosting doesn’t get stuck! I loved the bit of apple on top of this cupcake as well as the delicious caramel frosting and peanuts. The cake was great — very light and fluffy — and I could have easily had seconds of this one!

Favorite Cupcakery in the Kansas City Suburbs: Dolce Baking Co.

pumpkin pie cupcake dolce baking co prairie village kansas

{Pumpkin Pie cupcake from Dolce Baking Co. in Prairie Village, Kansas}

A seasonal flavor, pumpkin pie, was moist and dense like pie but with a perfect dollop of frosting on top that was drizzled with caramel and a dash of sea salt. It was a true delight, and the way the sea salt complemented the caramel flavoring was impeccable. I’m a big fan of all things caramel, and though I’m usually just semi-excited about pumpkin (and pie, for that matter), this cupcake simply rocked.

In a few short months, the Crusaders and I will embark on another mission to find the best cupcakes in our respective areas; this time, I’m diving deep into the heart of Kansas City, Missouri, and Kansas City, Kansas, to find my favorite cupcakeries that straddle the state line. The Crusaders will go beyond their city limits to find their favorite cupcakeries in Baltimore County.

Who wants to join me? Who has recommendations to add to my long list of KC cupcakeries? Tell me what you know in the comments section.

December 29, 2011

this makes me happy | colorful, kooky accessories

If you know me (or even remotely know me from my blog) and my sense of style, you know that I love big, fun, crazy jewelry. The louder, shinier and sparklier, the better.

As I continue to scout the Kansas City area and its respective suburbs for fun shops, I’ve been feeding my addiction to all accessories colorful and kooky. On one recent adventure with my friend Laura, I hit up three local stores (you’ll see more about them in future posts for my “shop local” series) as well as national accessories chain store Charming Charlie for some arm and finger candy.

While I left all of these items at each store (I did buy a few other things, though!), I’ve been thinking about these ever since and wondering if I should return to snatch them up if they’re still available. Want to help keep my accessories addiction in check and tell me a yay or a nay on these funky jewels?

colorful peacock bracelet from inspire boutique olathe kansas

{I couldn't keep my eyes — or hands — off this colorful peacock bracelet from local shop Inspire Boutique.}

The No. 1 accessory that haunts my dreams is this colorful peacock bracelet from Inspire Boutique. It’s attention-grabbing and absolutely stunning; I’d wear it with all black or neutrals to really let this piece stand out. It was priced in the $40 range, which is expensive for costume jewelry, but the detailing on it is amazing. What do you think? Worth it?

gladiator ring charming charlie

{When I first spotted this ring, I thought it was ridiculous. I still do. But that's kind of why I like it.}

You know those gladiator sandals we’ve been rockin’ for the past few summers? This ring is the equivalent — finger gladiator. Just as the leather straps on your sandals that climb up your ankles protect you from…something…the armor of this ring from Charming Charlie protects your precious knuckles from flipping the bird to innocent bystanders something, too. I just don’t know what. But it doesn’t matter. Fashion doesn’t have to be functional, right? Especially when it’s accessories! But you tell me: love it or leave it? This ring was something like $10. Should I keep that cash for a rainy day (or Chipotle)?

turquoise green bracelet from inspire boutique olathe kansas

{I loved everything about this bracelet. The chunky jewels and vivid colors had me at first glance.}

It was really difficult to walk out of Inspire Boutique without this bracelet. I’m a huge fan of turquoise-greens and adore chunky jewelry. I don’t quite remember the pricepoint on this one, but it was more than I was willing to spend that day (in combination with the other ring I did buy), so I passed on it. This bracelet is a stretchy slip-on (even though it looks like a cuff) and was remarkably comfortable even though it had some weight to it. What do you think about this ocean-colored cuff-like find: sink or swim?

peacock ring charming charlie

{What's up with all the peacocks, and why are they catching my eye so much?}

So, peacocks, again. Except this time some feather-like texture is involved. This ring is just plain nuts, and I’ve had many peacock- and bird-hating friends tell me no, no, no! Are they right? Has this gone too far? It didn’t seem as crazy as the fuzzy owl ring I found…

I don’t need any of these accessories…but the fact that I’m still thinking about them makes me wonder if I can convince the teacher man to get one for me. :)

Which one do you like best and why? Or do you hate them all and think I should hold out for something a little less…weird? Tell me what you think in the comments section, and also, link me to some of your favorite accessories sites!

December 28, 2011

beauty scoop | badger organic damascus rose antioxidant face oil

I’ve tried tons of facial oils and tend to favor jojoba and argan, but when I got the chance to try Badger’s new Organic Damascus Rose Antioxidant Face Oil, I made a special spot on my shelf for this powerhouse facial oil that contains nine different nourishing oils in one 1-ounce bottle.

badger organic damascus rose antioxidant face oil

{Badger's Organic Damascus Rose Antioxidant Face Oil costs $12 and is available online and in health food and select grocery stores. Photo Courtesy Badger}

Plainly put, this facial oil rocks. It’s USDA-certified organic and even though $12 for one ounce seems a bit pricey, I classify this as a budget beauty basic because 1) you only need one pump per night to cover your entire face and 2) it’s unheard of to get a certified-organic product that works at this pricepoint.

Not only are you getting the key ingredient, rose otto (which is an incredibly expensive ingredient), but you’re getting an array of other nourishing carrier and essential oils that will keep your skin balanced and smooth all year long.

Let’s take a cruise through the ingredients list. It’s amazing:

1. Organic jojoba oil: a natural acne fighter
2. Organic baobab oil: rich in omegas 3, 6 and 9
3. Organic pomegranate oil: high in antioxidants
4. Organic lavender essential oil: known for its calming effect
5. Organic rose otto essential oil: one of the most-expensive oils, known for its soothing scent
6. Organic Roman chamomile essential oil: known for antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties
7. Organic CO2 extracts of rosehip: high in vitamin C and lycopene
8. Organic CO2 extracts of seabuckthorn: rich in antioxidants and essential fatty acids
9. Organic CO2 extracts of calendula: known for its healing properties

Have you tried any Badger products? Fan of facial oils? Tell me what you know in the comments section.

December 27, 2011

holiday 2011 | butter london fairy lights and the black knight

Now that we’re halfway through the holidays, you can remove your bright red and green nail polish and dip your fingers into something a little more festive.

On Christmas day, I had my sister-in-law paint my formerly red nails with a couple of nail lacquers from butter London’s holiday 2011 collection. Two layers later, all 10 fingernails were a liquid-metal lavender, aka “Fairy Lights.”

butter london fairy lights

{A silvery-lavender, butter London's "Fairy Lights" is named for what the English call small white Christmas tree lights. Photo Courtesy butter London}

This polish went on a bit thick for some reason. I’ve tested other butter London polishes before with no problem, so I’m wondering if maybe I got a lemon. Though my sister-in-law had a bit of trouble giving me a perfect mani, I still admired this color.

To toughen it up a bit, I had her add a couple coats of “The Black Knight” to my ring fingers. Though she and my brother thought it was weird to have just one nail painted with glittery polish, we know better, right? :)

butter london the black knight

{"The Black Knight" from butter London is an edgy black polish with flashes of black, pink, blue and silver glitter. Photo Courtesy butter London}

It may not be the perfect mani, but it sure was a fun look! I’m contemplating going all-Black Knight for New Year’s Eve. What do you think?

butter london the black knight and fairy lights

{I think "Fairy Lights" will carry over easily into spring, and "The Black Knight" is just too fun to not wear year-round.}

What color are you going to paint your nails for New Year’s Eve? Does anybody still have a bottle of last year’s oh-so-popular Sparkle-icious?

December 27, 2011

my favorite fashionistas

In the spirit of the holiday season, I thought it would be fitting to share a little link love and mention a few of my favorite fashion and style bloggers that you should bookmark immediately.

While most style stalkers swoon over Emily and Kendi (myself included), a few fashionistas who constantly leave me inspired that you should meet are midwest charmer Jess of Mimi & Chichi, west coast chica Vanessa of Stylishlyme and east coast stylista Jess of Get Jessed Up.

What I love about these ladies, besides their great personal style from each section of the country, is that the outfits they put together are almost always easily adaptable to my work wardrobe and are accessible for any budget.

Take a look at Jess of Mimi & Chichi’s recent layered look (and yes, she has a pop of Chanel in there for inspiration, but you can complete this look without the interchangeable C’s). It’s so simple yet glam with a bit of an edge. Each layer/feature offers a different mood (tough leather, preppy plaid and chambray, sexy skinnies and heels and a glam bag) that makes this the perfect outfit for any occasion.

jess mimi & chichi layered look

{How cute and simple is this look? This can easily go from a casual day at the office to a happy hour. Photo Courtesy Mimi & Chichi}

When it comes to California cool, Vanessa is my favorite girl with girl-next-door style. She has a seemingly simple way of putting together outfits that are both chic yet non-fussy. Here’s one of my recent favorites that prompted me to tweet her as to where she got these oh-so-perfect leggings.

stylishlyme vanessa blue cape

{As simple as this outfit is — leggings, solid top, patterned cape and booties — it's the attention to detail (a bow in the back, butterfly sleeves, killer heels with flashes of gold) that makes it a little more special. Photo Courtesy Stylishlyme}

Over on the east coast, Jess of Get Jessed Up shows you how to take runway and celeb fashion inspirations and turn them in to real-life outfits that are wearable for work or play. She pulls together some polished styles that have me rethinking my closet and the way I pair clothes. Here’s one of my favorite runway outfit interpretations brought to life by Miss Jess.

jess get jessed up blog

{This is so office-chic. I love the way she plays with patterns and textures to bring boring brown alive! Photo Courtesy Get Jessed Up}

Who are some of your favorite fashion bloggers with an eye for style on a real-girl budget? I’d love to add some more inspiration to my daily reading list! Tell me who you admire in the comments section.

December 26, 2011

colored jeans | how to rock them like you’re roy g biv

I’ve yet to jump on the colored jeans trend, not for lack of confidence, but for lack of inspiration on how to wear them without looking like I’m screaming “look at my jeans!” when I walk in a room.

Rocking rainbow-colored jeans takes a bit of style know-how; pair too many colors together with the hopes of achieving a color-blocked look, and you may end up looking like Aquaman instead. Play it too safe (colored jeans and solid-colored tops with no accessories or accents), then…what’s the point?

Luckily, this is why we have Pinterest — get ready for some colors-of-the-rainbow inspiration from some stylish pins.

If you want to try colored jeans at a low-cost commitment, you can score some cheapies from Old Navy and Forever 21.

red jeans

{As bold as red is, you can treat it as a neutral, as demonstrated here, by pairing red jeans with structured, dark tops and killer heels.}

Photo via Pinterest

orange jeans

{These rusty orange jeans get a casual, cook look with a graphic floral print and a long, coal-colored cardi.}

Photo via Pinterest

yellow jeans

{Sunny yellow has its place in a winter wardrobe. Warm it up with thick knits, a textured scarf and cozy flats.}

Photo via Pinterest

green jeans

{I love this bold outfit! Remember, Diane von Furstenberg says that animal print is a neutral. Pull this look together with a sleek bag and belt to look ladylike.}

Photo via Pinterest

blue jeans

{These electric-blue jeans can stand up to the sass of a glittery top and leopard print bag.}

Photo via Pinterest

indigo jeans

{Indigo-wash jeans aren't too difficult to style, but I love the sailor look rocked here. The high-waisted jeans accentuate her tiny figure, and the slouchy striped top keeps the look refreshingly simple. The cardi adds some length, and the rolled-up sleeves are another nice, casual touch that helps this outfit say "I'm not trying too hard."}

Photo via Pinterest

violet jeans

{Plum and caramel look delicious together, while a sprinkle of polka dots tops off this sweet outfit.}

Photo via Pinterest

Have you added colored denim to your wardrobe? How do you style them? Link me to your photos or pins in the comments section, or just tell me what colors and fabrics you like to pair together.

December 26, 2011

beauty scoop | comfort zone sacred nature bio-certified lipstick

The latest lip balm I’ve been slicking on my kisser goes by the name of “lipstick” even though it’s pigment-free.

Comfort Zone’s Sacred Nature Bio-Certified Lipstick is actually a pre-color lip conditioner that is so thick and so ultra-moisturizing that it’s been my No. 1 pick from my lip balm bowl for the past few weeks.

comfort zone sacred nature bio-certified lipstick

{Comfort Zone's Sacred Nature Bio-Certified Lipstick is a colorless lip balm that delivers loads of moisture to dry, chapped lips.}

I’ve been drier and more chapped than usual, and this “lipstick” has been amazing at delivering moisture and sealing off my lips from the elements as the weather continues to go from warm to freezing cold in a matter of days. It provides a smooth base for color (though I’ve been sensitive about wearing any with the state of my lips) and keeps your lips lubricated for a decent span of time.

Though it’s definitely a luxury item — it costs $24 — Comfort Zone’s Sacred Nature Bio-Certified Lipstick stands out in a sea of gloss and balms.

First, it’s certified organic by Ecocert, which means both the company and the actual product ingredients meet high sustainability standards. Second, it’s also made with something of a miracle ingredient, buriti oil, that’s rarely used in conventional and mainstream natural and organic products. Buriti oil is packed with antioxidants, fatty acids and vitamins A and C, which help nourish lips and soften them back into top kissing form.

comfort zone sacred nature bio-certified lipstick

{Comfort Zone products are available at spas nationwide, including the Plaza Beauty at the Plaza Hotel, and online.}

While those two bits of info give Comfort Zone’s Sacred Nature Bio-Certified Lipstick a high “feel-good factor,” the plain and simple fact that this product does a fabulous job hydrating your lips ’round the clock is enough to merit the $24 it takes to kiss chapped lips goodbye.

What do you think? How much is too much for a lip balm? Do certifications and exclusive ingredients influence your purchasing decisions? Tell me your thoughts in the comments section.

December 19, 2011

twinkle | sparitual break of dawn holiday 2011 nail polish

We’ve been celebrating the holidays every weekend this month. This past weekend, the teacher man’s family was in town for a mini-Christmas celebration, and I decided it was best to play it a bit safe — but still festive — with the nail polish.

I went from a bright, sparkly green for my company holiday party the weekend before to this subtle, shimmering red, SpaRitual’s “Break of Dawn,” from the holiday 2011 “Twinkle” collection,  for a weekend with the teacher man’s extended family.

sparitual twinkle holiday 2011 break of dawn

{SpaRitual's "Break of Dawn" from its holiday 2011 "Twinkle" collection has a hint of shimmer to it and lasts about a week before chipping.}

I love the subtle hints of shimmer in this vegan nail polish. When it catches the light, you can see hints of gold, orange, pink and red. It gives a nice bit of dimension to otherwise predictable holiday red nails.

Check out the detail in the shot below — the shimmer is from the natural mica in the polish.

sparitual twinkle holiday 2011 break of dawn

{This is such a gorgeous color and a great alternative to everyday red. Photo Courtesy SpaRitual}

The name of this polish cracks me up, mostly because within the holiday 2011 “Twinkle” collection, there’s also a “Twilight.” Coincidence? I think not.

Regardless of the Twilight influence, both shades — and the entire six-polish holiday collection, honestly — are gorgeous and capture the inspiration of the holiday season.

What are you wearing on your nails this week? Tweet me (I’m @kimberlyloc) a picture using the hashtag #holidaynails and show me! Or tell me/link me in the comments section.

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