Thursday, November 20, 2014

What's in Makeup Bag Vol. I

It's always fun having a little snoop through someone's makeup bag; at least I think so! Here's what I carry on the regular (depending on the handbag I'm carrying, the number of items I carry can vary based on the amount of space I have to play with)

However, the usual suspects for any bag (big or small) are lip balm (this one by Khiel's has a cult following for a reason - super hydrating!), powder, concealer (love the Body Shop's stick concealers), and this cool portable compact brush/mirror that I picked up from Target by Sonia Kashuk. 

The lip colors are swapped out during the week depending on my mood, but one thing is always true - I carry a bright red and a nude shade at all times. Reds can instantly amp up your look if you're going out to drinks or dinner after work and can double as a cheek stain in a pinch for those days you need to add extra color to your face!

The nudes I had on hand this week are Jubilee by MAC and Boy by Chanel.  Jubilee is a caramel-y brownish-peach which is the perfect nude shade for olive/Tan skin tones, in my opinion. Chanel's rouge coco shine in Boy is a super sheer mauve with slight shimmer that mimics the natural color of your lips. It was kind of a lot of money to spend on a super basic color but the packaging is beautiful and classic and the shade is universally flattering so there's that!

The red shade is a new(ish) acquisition for me from Anthropologie. I'm always intrigued by their beauty offerings but had never really gotten serious about purchasing anything until this lipstick caught my eye. The shade is Poppy by Albeit Cosmetics. Love the retro gold packaging and the orange-red hue is perfect. 

Other random bits that found their way into my makeup bag (leather pouch from American Apparel) are bobby pins, a random lone throat drop (Ricola's are my fave), and last but not least, Bandaids. You never know when you or someone you know will get a blister or the random cut! 

What are your makeup bag must-haves?  


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Foodie Files: CPK-Inspired Thai Chicken Pizza

My local CSA farm share delivers our produce every Monday. And every Monday night I try to rummage through my fridge to figure out what to make first with the week's harvest! This week it was the carrots that saw their way into our bellies first!

With a few items I already had in my fridge: some baked chicken breast, my favorite naan, and shredded mozzarella cheese - I got to work on a quick and easy peanut sauce as the base for my pizza. 

Peanuts (Satay) Sauce:

Peanut butter 
Sesame oil
Crushed black pepper
Carrots (Grated)
Ginger (fresh or powdered)

A heaping tablespoon of Skippy peanut butter (as you know, this stuff is already super sweet so no need for honey or sugar for this recipe - unless you're using all natural peanut butter a little sweetness will be required), garlic, a splash of sesame oil, ginger, and cracked pepper all went in a microwave safe bowl and into the microwave for about 20 seconds. I added a few tablespoons of water to thin it out followed by a quick stir and it was tasty as can be and ready to slather on the naan. I topped the naan and peanut sauce with a light drizzle of mozzarella, then shredded chicken and grated carrots. Top again with a bit more cheese and throw it in the oven for about 15-20 minutes at 350 F or until the cheese is gooey and the crust is crispy. I added extra grated carrots and fresh cilantro after I pulled it out of the oven, just before serving!  Yum!

Adam claimed that this was better than CPK's Thai pizza -- that's a huge compliment in my book because I love CPK's original!  I'm just glad to have found a way to recreate it at home for those nights when we are craving it but can't be bothered to drag ourselves out in the cold to go get it!


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Nailed it: Navy

I ditched my go-to nude nails this past week when I rediscovered a navy blue nail polish by American Apparel called Passport Blue.  This color has been left neglected at the bottom of my stash for years and I was honestly surprised that the formula held up over time.  The application was deliciously streak free and opaque in just two coats.  Luckily this color is part of their permanent line so you can still find it here for only $7! 

From experience, I know that not all colors by the same brand are made equal.  I love a good Essie nail polish ('Sole Mate' and 'Sweetheart' are staples) but one shade I purchased over the summer is disgustingly streaky and requires a good three coats to look decent (I'm looking at you 'Concrete Jungle'!).  If you're impatient like me, letting three coats dry is an eternity and I can never get away without a smudge or a smear.   

At any rate, back to AA's Passport Blue -- the vsco'd-out photo above doesn't really do it any justice so here's another snap to seal the deal:

The topcoat I used is a cheaper version of my beloved Seche Vite dry fast topcoat. I have used it a handful of times and will post about how they compare so keep a look out for that!

Are you a fan of bold nails, a simple nude, or both?  Share your favorite must-have polishes with me in the comment section... I'll need your recommendations to inform my next hasty decision at the drugstore!


Saturday, November 8, 2014


It's getting chilly out there, which means it's finally time to pull out some snuggly knitwear and get cozy.  This is probably one of my favorite things about living on the East Coast -- sweaters actually serve a purpose instead of just looking cute (cue Cali-girl problems)!

This season I'm unearthing my favorite knits and I also added a few more pieces over the last month to supplement my current stash.

Can I just say that The Gap has really picked up their style game this season!  I snagged two sweaters for a cool 40% off and love them to pieces.  The top one is a Colorblock merino wool sweater that adds a little menswear cool to any outfit.  Keep your pretty embellished midi skirts from looking too girly by tucking this bad boy in there and you have an instant edgy-fem look.

The next sweater, in a burnt caramel color is aptly named the "cozy turtleneck sweater" and it really is just that.  It's oversized with a chic turtleneck - I'm envisioning wearing it with some skinny pants and ankle boots with a parka over top.  Let's also be real - I'll be wearing it with leggings, but rest assured, it's long enough to cover your behind so it's it's okay to wear leggings as pants in this case!

The navy and yellow speckled sweater is an oldie but goodie from my closet.  I bought it at Joe Fresh a couple of years ago and I find myself reaching for it every season.  It's itchy as hell - but when paired with a comfy turtleneck longsleeve shirt, it's love.  Nerdy fisherman style love that is.

You can't really see the texture on the next black sweater but it's a sheer piece with a fuzzy swirled pattern that is so super chic layered with a bandeau bralette underneath and any bottoms you want.  I love it in an all black outfit because the peek of skin underneath just adds the right amount of color to break up all the black.  This gem was from H&M last year and I wish I picked it up in the burgundy color too! I find that H&M tends to bring back certain styles so you can bet that I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for this sweaters return!

Up next, this cable knit is from Ralph Lauren and sports that iconic little polo horse on the right top breast.  I found this one at tjmaxx on sale for under $30 in the boys department.  It's perfectly preppy and easy to layer with your button down shirts and jeans.

The last sweater, which I doubt you can see at all, is a basic thick black knit with bell shaped arms and an exposed zipper at the back and was also nabbed at tjmaxx.  Knitwear at the popular shopping chain cannot be beat -- I highly recommend a peek through their knitwear racks because you can find some great colors/textures for not so much $$$.

Enjoy the cozy sweater-weather!


Saturday, September 27, 2014

MIA lately and..

here's a cheeky look at where I've been via Instagram:

Last weeknd was spent working in Texas. Caught a beautiful sunrise (first pic on the top left) and a very patriotic parachuter at the Plano Balloon Fest. 

A weekend away with friends in Long Island the weekend before last takes up the rest of the frames with a classic jumping shot at a nearby vineyard (pre-liquor) might I add.  We just didn't want it to end! 

Glam-ping has become all the rage in recent years and if you're unfamiliar with the term, it's basically doing outdoorsie things like kayaking and grilling, calling it camping, but sleeping in a fully equipped cabin/house with running water.  I think it's hilarious and perfectly fitting for the type of weekend we had out in Peconic. From laying out by the beach, to biking (i learned how on this trip! Ha!), to sitting by a campfire telling stories - this was the perfect way to say goodbye to the summer. I highly recommend renting a vacation home near some great outdoor activities - winter is coming (no pun intended lol) and awesome cabins near the Catskills would be perfect for snowboarding and skiing (or sledding on trash can lids) and sipping hot cocoa by the fire! VRBO (google it)is a great place to start. 


Monday, September 1, 2014

Summer don't go (yet)!

Happy Labor Day all! While this time of year marks the end of summer, I'm looking forward to a beach trip in a couple weeks so I hope summer extends her stay just a little while longer...

GAP Sunglasses (old; 3 years ago)
Old Navy bikini top
American Apparel lemon print highwaist swim bottoms
Peter Grimm True Character straw hat
I hope everyone's having an amazing Labor Day weekend filled with fun, family, laughter, and sunshine (=

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Foodie Files: Heirloom Tomato Pesto Pizza with Roasted Kale

I've been on a pizza-making spree recently and this latest tomato and kale is my new favorite -- plus it's easy to make!  It all starts with Indian naan for the crust.  My favorite is Stone Fire naan available at Costco in the refrigerated section.  They make for perfect individual sized pizzas and you can top them however you like!

   Pesto (a quick google search will lead you to some pretty basic recipes)
   Heirloom tomatoes
   Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
   Olive Oil
   Parmesan Cheese

Preheat your oven to 300 °F.  Place naan on parchment lined cookie sheet and toast them up for 5 minutes to get them warmed up.  Remove the naan from the oven and spread evenly with pesto leaving a small crust around the edge.  Add sliced heirloom tomatoes and sprinkle with freshly cracked black pepper and salt, Then sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and bake for 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted and crust is to your desired "crispiness".  

In the meantime cut your kale into half inch slices and place in a bowl.  Toss the kale with a small amount of olive oil, salt, pepper, and grated parmesan cheese.  Place the seasoned kale on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and place in the oven until wilted an slightly crips around the edges.  

Place the roasted kale on top of the pizza once you are ready to serve and sprinkle with some more parmesan cheese.  The nutty flavor from the roasted kale compliments the sweet heirloom tomatoes and, well melted cheese on anything is always tasty! 

You'll notice I didn't put any measurements on the ingredients list as it really depends on how many pizzas you're making and on your preference!  But this is so easy and it tastes like you slaved away in the kitchen for hours!  You could even add a bit of truffle oil to your kale if you wanted to be extra fanciful!  

My husband doesn't even like kale that much and he ate it up like it was covered in bacon! haha 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Color Crush: RED

Have you ever been hung up on any particular color, finding yourself swatching almost the same exact shade every time you're within arms distance of some testers at the drugstore or at Sephora?  You're wondering, "what testers at the drugstore??"  I swear that I have never and will never open a sealed package or peel back a sticker to test anything because I hate it when I'm going to buy something and all of the same product and color have been opened and tested! But if someone else has already taken the liberty of opening a product to swatch it - by all means, I'll be testing it on the back of my hand too!  I don't know why they don't just put out testers at the drug store- grr!!

Anyway, you guessed it -- all four of my most recent drugstore lip purchases were RED!

A classic red lip with an otherwise bare face is just so chic and timeless.  And by bare face, I mean a glowy bare face with a hint of bronzer in the hollows - perfection!

Top: Revlon COLORBURST Matte Balm in 250 Stand Out
L-R: Revlon COLORSTAY Moisture Stain in 040 Shanghai Sizzle,
NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in SMLC 10 Monte Carlo,
Rimmel London SHOWOFF Lip Lacquer 501 Stellar

 Revlon always kills it when it comes to lip products!  The two Revlon lippies I picked up, swatched on the far left and far right below are two of my favorites. The Moisture Stain in Shanghai Sizzle (left) is beautiful and has amazing color pay off.  It is reminiscent of the infamous YSL Glossy Stains but at a fraction of the cost.  The moisturizing claim definitely holds true as this product has a very cushion-y feel on the lips and is not sticky at all.  The Color Burst matte balm, while it is matte, is NOT drying like many matte formulations out there.  The shade Stand Out is a fabulous brick red that would be perfect for the coming fall and winter months!  I would also say that these matte balms are a great dupe for the NARS matte velvet lip pencils but with a far more superior packaging with a twist up tube (NARS, please take note -- I am tired of sharpening my matte velvet pencils).

With Flash from left to right: Shanghai Sizzle, Monte Carlo, Stellar, Stand Out

NYX's Monte Carlo lip cream is a bright raspberry red color that comes off a bit more sheer than I thought it would from the tube.  I own a few other shades of the NYX soft matte lip creams in the colors Amsterdam, Milan, and Antwerp and these shades have a far more opaque finish.  This product was my least favorite of the bunch.

Last, but certainly not least, Rimmel London's Show Off lip lacquer in Stellar is a stunning shade of coral/hot pink (close enough to red, right?).  The scent of this product is a little off-putting as it smells like watermelon candy mixed with plastic.  The formulation is a hybrid between a gloss and a lipstick and also wears very well.  I really like dotting this very sparingly on my lips and blending out for a stained effect.

In Natural Light (same color order as above)

Loving these colors as we wrap up the summer but they will also transition beautifully into the fall and winter months! Yay for color all-year-round! 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Foodie Files: Squash-getti Bolognese

I never thought I would be one of those people who would replace good ol' carby pasta for squash - but here I am and I totally love it.

After taking a striping peeler across the entire length of the squash (about two large squash) to create strands of spaghetti-like strips, I placed the mound of squash-getti into a microwave safe bowl and covered it with some wax paper.  After a few minutes in the microwave, I tossed it with tongs and put it in for another couple of minutes to let everything steam evenly-- and before long it was ready to be topped with sauce!

For this, I made a basic Bolognese sauce I found in an Italian recipe book (let me know if you'd like me to share the recipe, surprisingly easy and delish to boot) which I then stewed for hours on end until it reduced to a nice, meaty, and robust consistency that paired perfectly with the light squash. 

It's little life-hacks such as this pasta substitute, that can let you feel super naughty when you're really being nice!  Think of all the bowls of squash alfredo you can enjoy using this technique without feeling guilty since you're obliterating the calories you would've consumed from eating actual fettucine pasta!

Green and Yellow Summer Squash Bolognese a la AlphabetStew

It has also been immensely beneficial for us to use squash to replace pasta since we joined our local CSA farm share, which is a weekly delivery of locally grown organic produce.  While it's amazing to have such fresh veggies delivered on the weekly-- good lord we have been receiving a ton of squash and it's sometimes hard to use up all of the produce during the week in time for the next week's crop to be delivered!  Picture the I Love Lucy episode where Lucy and Ethel work at the chocolate factory packaging line; too many chocolates come out on the belt at a rate that's too fast for them to package so they end up losing some and stuffing some down their shirts and in their mouths!  That's basically how I've been feeling about our vegetable share of late!

At any rate, I am looking forward to trying more new veggie dishes!  If you have any you'd like to share, please do so :)

The Yearly Chop Vol. 2

As the saying goes, "better late than never"--  I am finally sharing this haircut I got two months ago when I went for this collar-bone-skimming hairdo with bangs cut straight across.  After the wedding, it was such a liberating experience to chop it all off since I no longer needed to maintain length for a bridal updo (phew!).  I can't even begin to express how amazing it felt to have the wind blowing through my newly chopped hair as I walked across the Highline.  Not to mention, this haircut instantly made any remotely cute outfit into an edgy one...I mean button-down shirts buttoned all the way to the top became Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction-esque.  Part of me wants to keep getting it cut this short but I have to admit that the bangs have become a bit of a chore as evidenced by how often I've been pinning them back for work.  When I wake up in the morning, sometimes they just don't want to cooperate.

I got my haircut at the lovely Tomoko Shima Hair Salon in Chelsea just blocks away from Chelsea Market and the Highline.  I have nothing but praises to sing for this place from the friendly staff, clean environment, and amazing cut from my hairdresser, Grace.  They often have deals on Lifebooker for this salon and I definitely recommend it to anyone and everyone!  They offer quality haircuts at a price that won't cause you to dip into your savings (which is definitely not unheard of in Manhattan).

A shameless #selfie I took when I got home from my hair appointment at Tomoko Shima in Chelsea

Saturday, June 21, 2014


Can't even believe how fast the last two months have gone by! We got married in late April - everything turned out amazing despite the windy conditions and chilly temps!  Our DIY projects really made a statement and I can't wait to share more in detail when the photos come in from our photographer! I was lucky enough to have all of my sisters behind me when it came to all the wedding prep - from the flowers, all the paper goods, decor, moral support - my sisters really pulled it out of the bag and came together to make this day such a special one.  I know it's cheesy - but it so very true!

In the meantime here is a snap of one of my favorite moments --our first dance with the beautiful Santa Barbara sunset as a backdrop.  It's not the clearest picture, as it was taken on a camera phone via instagram -- but I think it adds to the charm of the whole thing, no pixelation or grainy quality can really hamper this picture for me.

Following our dream wedding we had a mini-honeymoon in Ojai which was just what we needed. Some time to unwind and relax getting massages and lunching by the pool. I couldn't have asked for a better post wedding retreat (except for maybe more time at Ojai!). We do plan on going on a bigger tropical honeymoon next summer so we have already started saving our pennies for that :)


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

T minus 4 days...

...until our wedding day!!!  Words cannot express the excitement I'm feeling at this very moment. I'm laying in bed picturing our wedding day and mulling over ideas for my vows. I want to write them for Adam and not to our guests. I keep picturing it like a story I'm trying to tell our guests about how we first met - but that's not what vows are for.  Vows are for exclaiming your undying commitment and unconditional love for the person you are going to spend the rest of your days with. 

With that said - I am now crying as I type.  I am hoping that I get all my tears out now and not all over my dress on Saturday. I have a waterproof arsenal of beauty products  for the big day and none have really proven to be that great at lasting after a cry session. 

Anyway - I alphabetstew vow to post more (especially about my wedding and all the prep work for it) in May when I have more headspace to think up posts!  The wedding was always on my mind the last few months and blogging had just taken a backseat. 

Until next time! 


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Nail Universal

We've all been through this - you go to paint your nails and just can't settle on a color.  Enter Seche Rose by Seche. It's the perfect polished and sophisticated milky pale pink that always looks perfect. Complete the look with a glossy top coat (my fave is Seche Vite fast dry top coat) and you're good to go. Whether you're going to a gala event or to a baseball game - this color goes with anything and everything.  I coined these my "Martha Stewart nails" when I was in high school because she always had this type of clean color on her nails and they were always at a short and modest length #classic.

I don't think I'll never be without this color for as long as I'm painting my nails (and I can't see myself quitting that anytime soon!).

What's your "go to" nail polish?  

Alexa P.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Still obsessed

 A few posts back I gushed about this coat. The love affair continues...

You know you love a coat when you wear it on a bone shatteringly cold day it isn't your warmest coat -- you just like how it looks. Lol. In all seriousness though, layering is key. 

Alexa P. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Product Empties Vol. 1

Happy new year!! I thought I'd start 2014 with a synopsis of products I've used up!  I love reading empties posts because it shows you products people have actually used to the very last drop.  While using something up is usually a good sign, it can also be it's last hoorah and a blessing for the user who can be glad he/she is done with it and will never re-purchase again!  All in all - it's a treasure chest for those of us who want to find great products and steer clear from ones that are less than wonderful.

This first installment of my product empties features a mixture of body and face care.  I rarely use makeup down to the "pan" so it will be a true testament if I ever pop up with a post about MAKEUP empties...

1) Boots - The Power of Plants Botanics - Soothing Eye Make Up Remover.  This is my standard eye makeup remover and I have repurchased it several times.  As the name suggests, it's definitely soothing and calming to the skin, but if you've got some waterproof eye makeup on, it can take a little extra TLC to get it completely off (i.e. - two cotton rounds swiped twice over both eyes).  It doesn't leave that greasy residue that most oil based eye makeup removers do and I really appreciate that.  I hate having to scrub at my eyes later on with cleanser to get that greasy feeling off.  yuck.  

2)  Boots - NO.7 - Beautiful Skin Cleansing Water (for Normal/Oily Skin).  I love using cleansing waters to remove the rest of my face makeup before cleansing the traditional way with face cleanser and water.  This one smells great and does a good job of cleaning your skin without stripping it of it's natural oils.  The scent is pretty strong so I don't recommend this for someone with sensitive skin as the scent does tend to linger.  Luckily, the scent is so good that my fiance often asks about it whenever I have it on! haha. 

3) The Body Shop - Body Butter (Olive Scented).  I am in love with the Body Shop's body butters and this Olive scent is my absolute favorite.  The butters have a luxurious and creamy texture that sinks into the skin beautifully without feeling too heavy or greasy.  The olive scent smells very fresh and not what you would expect actual olives to smell like.  Don't picture those pickled olives you get in your martini -- this is not that kind of olive!  I highly recommend this product and soon after finishing the tub you see below, I went to the body shop and purchased a new tub.  Another noteworthy scent from this line is Honey Mania.  Its perfect for the spring and I have a tub of it waiting for that time of year to come around!

4) The Body Shop - Vitamin E - Face Mist.  The label on the product describes it as an instantly refreshing moisture boost that is great for all skin types.  I couldn't agree more.  This has quickly become one of my favorite MULTI-PURPOSE face products and I have already re-purchased and used half of a second bottle. I like to use this after cleansing my face to keep it nice and moist before slathering on my face serums and/or moisturizers.  I also like to use this after applying face powder to avoid that powdery cakey face look that you often get with powder.  You can also spritz it on to refresh your makeup after a long day.  It has a gentle rose scent which is also quite calming on the skin.  Next time you are at the body shop, grab the tester and give your face a spritz, it's kind of amazing.

5)  Lush - Rub Rub Rub - Shower Scrub.  As described by Lush, this is a different take on your average shower gel - the salt mixed with the bright blue gel really gets your skin super soft.  The scent is so fresh with a mixture of lemon juice and the tropical scent of mimosa blossoms for a light, blossom scented shower.  I love to use this any time of year - but especially during the summer and winter months!  It is best rubbed on to damp skin with the shower off so the salt doesn't immediately dissolve upon contact with running water.  I will always repurchase this stuff.

6) Lush - Dream Cream - Body Lotion.  Another fresh scented product (can you tell how much i love fresh scents? lol) this is a medium thickness moisturizer that has an herbal freshness that is not everyone's cup of tea.  As with all Lush products, they are a bit pricey (due to the fresh ingredients and handmade aspect) so whenever I buy a tub, I use its sparingly and that's how it should be used anyway since a little goes a long way.  If you're saving $$ - the Body Shop's Olive body butter mentioned previously is a great budget friendly alternative (especially when its on sale)!

It looks like all my empties will be repurchased at one point or another - though I am a sucker for trying new things.  Have you finished any products lately??  Anything worth sharing with me? If so, leave a comment below :)

Alexa P.