Momma Told Me

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Use Less Makeup- Natural Beauty Looks With Luminess EPIC Airbrush

***I received a sample product in hopes I would share my thoughts here on Momma Told Me. All photos and opinions contained below are copyright Momma Told Me Blog 2015.
Luminess Cosmetics EPIC Airbrush Makeup System
Momma Told Me: Beauty is only skin deep.

Airbrushing, as a term, has quite the negative connotation among modern women. Whether you're discussing the latest cover of Cosmopolitan or the actress walking down the red carpet at the Academy Awards, digital and physical airbrush treatments, to enhance beauty or conceal flaws are often associated with professionals and celebrities. I've often struggled with the difference between removing a zit on a model's face in Photoshop versus covering it up with layers of makeup. To me, it really makes no difference. And, at the end of the day, such a thing is trivial compared to the aspect that blemishes, puffiness, and skin tone are ever changing. My personal stance is, if you wear makeup to enhance beauty, it doesn't matter how you do it.
Luminess Cosmetics EPIC Airbrush Makeup System
That being said, many women do not realize that Airbrush Makeup Systems actually can enhance natural beauty far easier than traditional, or even mineral cosmetics on two levels. Not only do several airbrush makeup companies make hypoallergenic and 'natural' formulas for use with their systems but their are also several mom and pop style brands that custom make organic and natural sourced cosmetics for use with them.
Luminess Cosmetics EPIC Airbrush Makeup System
Most importantly, the finite nature of airbrushing makeup allows for a controlled application that is as light and natural in appearance as the user desires. In fact, thanks to the fine distribution, only a few drops of foundation go into the average full facial application. Because the makeup is distributed at such a fine ratio, over such a wide canvas, at once, the minimization of imperfections in skin tone is magnified and dramatically instant. Using an in home airbrush system can save you money, space, and even offer versatility with a wide range of products.
Luminess Cosmetics EPIC Airbrush Makeup System
Luminess Cosmetics EPIC Airbrush Makeup System
If you're like me, you're probably intrigued by the concept of a personal airbrush system, but concerned about the cost of investing in a system itself, and the ease of learning to master it. Luminess Cosmetics manufactures several ranges of personal airbrush makeup systems starting at just under $200- I even spotted (pun intended) a limited edition Leopard Basic System in the online store! There are hours of free to access 'how to' content through the brand and on YouTube- but the Luminess EPIC Airbrush System really spoke to me (literally.) This brand new PRO system has a built in screen with video walk throughs for basic techniques and more!
Luminess Cosmetics EPIC Airbrush Makeup System
Let me introduce you to Savannah, Sabrina's mother. You've all met her before, but we're going to get a little up close and personal with her pores so I figured a formal introduction was appropriate. These photos were taken just over a week after the birth of her second child. Having just endured her first pregnancy in 11 years Savannah felt like a stranger in her own body and was struggling to reclaim her personal identity through the difficult postpartum period. Can you believe this woman didn't feel beautiful? So I staged an intervention and brought the Luminess EPIC over for a girl's afternoon to see if the two of us could master, or at least manage, personal cosmetics airbrushing.
Luminess Cosmetics EPIC Airbrush Makeup System
The unit itself is surprising quiet, with a powerful but humming air compressor that remains on during use through a simple switch mechanism. Most Luminess systems come with a starter kit, including primer and moisturizer for application prior to makeup. Using the stylus is as simple as placing 3-4 drops of your desired cosmetic into the stylus barrel and pulling back on the flat (top located) trigger while applying in sweeping motions 5-6 inches from your face. If you are applying at the right distance you should not feel 'wet' or 'sticky' during the process. The key to even application and a natural finish is to remain moving constantly and to maintain an even distance.
Luminess Cosmetics EPIC Airbrush Makeup System
Basic application of foundation will take a few uses to truly master- but you likely did not learn to put traditional makeup on overnight either! The videos are extremely helpful with full 'pause' modes so you can visually see the techniques, as well as listen to the audio cues before application. Once you've figured out full face (foundation) application the rest is pretty much child's play as blush allows for a more dramatic (closer application) and eyeshadow is perhaps the strangest part of the experience. Luckily the flow of air emitting from the stylus can be controlled in intensity and is fairly tame on a closed lid.
Luminess Cosmetics EPIC Airbrush Makeup System
Using an airbrush cosmetics system also allows for customization of skin tones and shade blending. Your starter kit will come with 4 shades of skin tones in Light, Medium, or Dark kits. You can literally create and match any hue of skin by alternating various drops of different shades directly in the barrel before application. Your first use will require some playing and swatches o the back of the hand, but once you're figured out your skin tone, you're all set. Best of all, you don't need to buy new makeup during the Summer when you tan, or such, as you can always blend a new hue to suit your skin's changing complexion.
Luminess Cosmetics EPIC Airbrush Makeup System
Luminess Cosmetics EPIC Airbrush Makeup System
Cleaning the airbrush system is very basic and primarily involves running a few drops of water through the stylus before changing colors or putting the unit away. There is a slightly more involved cleaning technique that should be done about once a month to deep clean your instrument and keep it running at optimal performance. We found no irritation or sensitivity in using the Luminess brand of cosmetics and even noted that we felt as though we weren't wearing makeup at all, throughout the day!
Luminess Cosmetics EPIC Airbrush Makeup System
Savannah has beautiful skin and gorgeous freckles- I was glad to see the character of her skin could still shine through the Luminess airbrush makeup, while still providing the control and even finish she was hoping for in her look. This natural look takes about 5 minutes to apply and just 9 drops of product, which means the starter kit alone could last an individual a month. Refill cosmetics are available in house around $8-$12 a bottle, and online through independent brands for $6-$8.
Luminess Cosmetics EPIC Airbrush Makeup System
Of course, after waiting for the adults to figure out and play with the Luminess EPIC for 2 hours, ever so patiently, Sabrina wanted her turn. I should note we do NOT let Sabrina wear makeup for any event, so this was a very special and one time treat for her (and boy did she ever get a big head, that girl is going to be T-R-O-U-B-L-E.) Using the same cosmetics her mother and I used, I applied  slightly thicker application to emulate that which the typical user might apply for a more formal day. It's important to note that we matched Sabrina's skin tone with the SAME colors we used to match her mother- impressive, right?

Overall, the Luminess EPIC system is great for beauty enthusiasts who want their first airbrush system, though I feel moderate cosmetics users will be able to enjoy the basic Luminess systems at half the price with the use of YouTube tutorials. In all, I've decided that airbrush makeup can be very practical in appearance and cost, and encourage anyone curious to try it out. Check out the Instagram video below for a little more info on how the EPIC works.

What Daughter Says: Let more of your skin, and natural beauty, show through airbrush makeup application.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Red Velvet Cheesecake Bars For Valentine's Day

Red Velvet Cheesecake Bars for Valentine's Day Dessert
Momma Told Me: Bake from the heart.

Baking is something I have enjoyed since I was a young girl. The satisfaction of beginning with several mundane ingredients and finishing with a work of art that is not only tantalizing but wholly indulgent just speaks to my soul. I take pride in doing things 'by hand' and from scratch, whether it's sifting my flour or giving batter 200 stirs. Even in Momma's kitchen, making boxed brownies (the kind that was favored for a 'just ad water' recipe which enabled gratuitous spoon licking,) I would patiently mix the lumps and bubbles out of our batter until it was perfectly smooth. And, as I shoved an always crumbly, misshapen, square of brownie in my father face, as he arrived home, I would beam with pride, declaring, "I made these!"
But the end result is not the only satisfaction I find in baking. There are numerous techniques and methods that prove much harder to master than they sound. The trials and tribulations of substitutes, measurements, and appliances with finicky temperatures all provide a challenge I happily embrace. Then there's the rhythm of the kitchen how the measuring and prep to end result has a comforting ebb and flow; an exact science that must be done just right. In fact, baking IS a science. And one of my favorite recipes, Red Velvet Cheesecake Bars, clearly resembles this with mad scientist like preparation.
The Red Velvet portion of this particular recipe is more of a brownie in end result- and requires a thick batter that presents a very fun preparation. Because all the wet ingredients for the batter are combined, yet different densities, the level of microscopic separation in 'mixing' makes for an almost surreal and very romantic show. I like to play around, adding each wet ingredient into a different corner of the vegetable oil, watching the playful bubbles absorb the red food coloring with different intensities. Adding the milk last introduces tiny bubbles of white for added depth to your kitchen  creation.
When the wet ingredients are introduced to the dry ingredients of your batter the Red Velvet mixture becomes quite elastic. It will hold shapes and forms for several seconds before sinking back to it's original form, and appears alarmingly thick and dough like, yet free flowing and malleable. I had fun mixing this batter with gloves (to prevent staining from the food coloring) and now any child would be equally transfixed by it's unique properties.
Red Velvet Cheesecake Bars for Valentine's Day Dessert
Next, a portion of the red velvet batter gets gently spread into the bottom of a spring form pan, reserving a 3/4 cup for the final preparation step. Blending the cheesecake mixture is best done in a stand mixer, where it can be left unattended for several minutes to whip and fill with air. Refrain from licking the blade, though, there are eggs in this cheesecake batter! Next, I poured the cheesecake over the Red Velvet base and added the last of my milk to my reserve Red Velvet batter. This helps thin out the dough like mixture to allow easier dolloping. Evenly drop the remaining Red Velvet batter in rows of dots along the top of the Cheesecake layer.
Red Velvet Cheesecake Bars for Valentine's Day Dessert
Next you are allowed more artistic creativity as you drag a butter knife through the red and white batters to create a romantic marble pattern that will sit atop your bars. Bake your pan for about 30 minutes at 350F, or until the outer edges begin to separate and brown. If the center of your cheesecake bars begins to crack or ripple you have cooked it a little too long and should remove the pan from the oven immediately. Allow cheesecake bars to cool entirely before cutting; use a stainless steel cookie cutter to cut shapes if desired.

This dessert not only turns out satisfying to behold, but is equally indulgent in taste with a rich later of cheesecake atop; a small wedge is more than enough!

What Daughter Says: I enjoy baking more than eating that which I bake!

Red Velvet Cheesecake Bars for Valentine's Day Dessert
Red Velvet Cheesecake Bars
***Click here for printable Red Velvet Cheesecake Bars Recipe

Monday, January 19, 2015

What I'm Streaming: In Your Eyes (2014), Netflix

What I'm Streaming: In Your Eyes (2014) Film, Netflix
Momma Told Me: True love is hard enough to believe without Vampires in the mix.

If I used the term 'Supernatural Romance' today, you might be inclined to think of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Edward and Bella (Twilight Series) or The Time Traveler's Wife (2009). Many of you may have a natural reaction to put down this article right now, to stop reading altogether. After all, even the most famous and beloved Paranormal Romance film, Ghost (1990) featured the deceased Patrick Swayze wooing his grieving girlfriend, Demi Moore. I have a hard time wrapping my head round vampires and ghosts in love- no matter how great the actors portraying the romance, it always comes off as cheesy. And that's precisely why In Your Eyes  (2014) is a refreshing twist to the Supernatural Romance genre.

Something that had previously been reserved for over-the-top romance novels and science fiction, this particular genre is used ever so cleverly on an impressively natural level. Paranormal, in this case, deals more with the exploration of the tangible bond between two people who have never met. That is to say, if you believe in the existence of soul mates you are already on board with the plot's notion that two people destined to be together could in theory sense that connection no matter their distance.
What I'm Streaming: In Your Eyes (2014) Film, Netflix
At 105 minutes, with a true cast of around 10 characters, In Your Eyes is  genuine romantic film dedicated to portraying the story and love of two people who being the film as seemingly strangers. The actors, who have had some sucess on and off screen in minor roles are brilliantly cast within the clever quirks of their own characters. Playing with the classic romantic notion of forbidden love, Rebecca is the affluent wife of a medical researcher wasting away her life at cocktail parties and fundraisers while her on screen counterpart, Dylan, is an ex-con struggling to find himself. However the true compulsion to watch comes from the unique connection these otherwise strangers discover.

It turns out both Dylan and Rebecca have in fact known each other, quite intimately, their entire lives. This discovery leads to a complicated and intense relationship between the two as they attempt to hold each-other up, despite the miles. While the tie that bonds them is a bit cheesy at some points the characters are quite endearing and the film will challenge you to smile, and even cry throughout it's ups and downs. The storytelling is shot beautifully, and it's not hard to find yourself falling in love with the characters.
What I'm Streaming: In Your Eyes (2014) Film, Netflix
One of the successes of In Your Eyes is the beautiful soundtrack (which I in fact purchased) that brings the characters and the plot through it's ups and downs. Twinbed's The Trouble I'm In is a haunting melody that so elegantly brings one of the film' most satisfying scenes to a climax while Eddie Ray's Glad I Found You helps steer one of the film's more playful scenes. The soundtrack is indeed as diverse as the emotions portrayed and the depth of each character is unmistakable as the viewer is helplessly drawn in.

I would love to suggest In Your Eyes as a Valentine's Day stream for you and your sweetie, though most cynical men will have a hard time latching on to a film that otherwise reminds me of The Notebook. Consider watching this with some girlfriends, by yourself as a guilty please, or with a teen daughter (there really is nothing graphic.) And I must add that leading man, Micheal Stahl-David is simply smoldering as the hopelessly awkward and unaware bad boy turned hero! In all, the timing for this Netflix release proved just right and I look forward to owning a physical copy soon!

What Daughter Says: Characters Rebecca and Dylan are soul mates at their best!
 


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Baked Ham + Cheese Wheels, They're What's For Dinner Tonight!

Baked Ham + Cheese Wheels With Dijon Glaze
Momma Told Me: I don't have all day to stand around in the kitchen!

Some of my favorite childhood dishes were meals Momma whipped up with leftovers and a bit of ingenuity. They were haphazard, unlikely, meals that quickly became favorite weeknight solutions for their touch of gluttony and simple composition. There were the Tuesday night trash tacos made of just about any meat, veggie, or condiment Momma happened to have lying around in the fridge before doing the week's grocery shopping the following morning. Sometimes these 'tacos' included frozen chicken nuggets, flattened slices of bread ('tortillas') and even leftover Hamburger Helper. But my favorite was always the impromptu Bagel Pizza nights where I could build faces out of cheese and veggies under the premise we were having a family pizza night.
My point here, folks, is that meals are what you make of them, quite literally. Whether you're a busy mom just trying to serve 3 squares a day, or a laid back millennial trying to find the motivation to cook for just 2 when reaching for TV trays seems so much more simpler. It's nice to sit down to a fine dining experience at home, from time to time, but it's equally as rewarding to know you didn't slave over a meal and it still turned out amazingly delicious. The secret? Minimal ingredients- the less ingredients you have to handle the more you can enjoy the flavor of each individual ingredient, the less time you spend handling the food in the kitchen.
Baked Ham + Cheese Wheels With Dijon Glaze
Refrigerated dough can be a lifesaver, providing countless meal hacks for the modern home cook. Did you know you can even get flat sheets of rolled 'pizza' dough in the cold case at your local supermarket? This past week Black Forest Honey Ham was on special at our neighborhood deli and I picked up a pound shaved extra thin for one of my favorite quick fix meals; Baked Ham + Cheese Wheels. I prefer the flavors of ham and Swiss, but you can also pair White Cheddar or even Provolone to suit your own tastes. Preparation is as simple as rolling out a refrigerated pizza crust into a rectangular shape, layering ham and cheese, and rolling tightly. Next cut 1.5" sections off of the roll and place your prepared wheels into a casserole baking dish.
Baked Ham + Cheese Wheels With Dijon Glaze
The real magic to this recipe happens when you make the extra special glaze with Worcestershire Sauce, Butter, Dijon Mustard, Brown Sugar, and Poppy Seeds. Melt them together in a microwave safe measuring cup, stir well, and pour over the top of your prepared wheels. Let the glaze work it's way into the folds of the wheels and even pool down over the sides. Bake your Ham + Cheese Wheels in the oven for 20 MINS, or until the tops begin to turn a golden brown. We like our 'crust' a little chewy, don't be afraid to go extra golden for that flaky dough!
Baked Ham + Cheese Wheels With Dijon Glaze
Not only do these Ham + Cheese Wheels look have a gourmet appearance, but they're incredibly easy to make ahead and freeze. One recipe's worth serves the two of us for several lunches when refrigerated, or they may be frozen after cooking and thawed at a later time. I would even wager that these would taste delicious over an egg with a cup of coffee the first thing in the morning. The possibilities are endless but your taste buds will thank you!

What Daughter Says:  Flawless food doesn't have to take 5 hours.

Baked Ham + Cheese Wheels With Dijon Glaze
Baked Ham + Cheese Wheels
***Click here for printable Baked Ham + Cheese Wheels Recipe.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

An (Air) Fried Banana Split? They Do Exist! Avalon Bay Air Fryer 100W Feature #Ad

I received an Avalon Bay Air Fryer for the purpose of this review. This post was made possible by Mom Spark Media. Thoughts are my own.
Enjoy an Air Fried Banana Split with Cinnamon Fried Bananas. This indulgent dessert is made healthier with the process of air frying, which super heats air for fast circulation around food in dry cooking. No oil or grease, and all the texture and flavor! #AvalonBayAirFryer #Ad
Momma Told Me: There's no such thing as 'healthy' fried anything.

Many of you know I grew up in a household full of modern appliances and gadgets. It seemed, growing up, every other month there was a trip planned to the local Sears showroom or Dak outlet to shop for a new kitchen or home entertainment 'toy.' However, one thing we never had was an Air Fryer. Now, that may be in part due the fact my father, to this day, swears there is quite simply something 'not right' about calling a food 'fried' when it has not in fact been fried in a fat. Or perhaps it is because the very notion of 'fried' food has such a negative connotation, health wise, Momma never dared encourage the term be used on a regular basis.
Enjoy an Air Fried Banana Split with Cinnamon Fried Bananas. This indulgent dessert is made healthier with the process of air frying, which super heats air for fast circulation around food in dry cooking. No oil or grease, and all the texture and flavor! #AvalonBayAirFryer #Ad
Regardless, as a young girl, I made several attempts to bargain for fried foods, every year at the County Fair. In fact, there was an entire booth dedicated to frying the most delicious foods (most of them already quite sinful in themselves.) From funnel cakes and candy bars to deep fried Kool-Aid, I'd stare wide eyed up at the colorful list of treats. One year I felt I'd grown rather smart- I decided I would ask for the fried fruit basket, a selection of strawberries, bananas, and fried kiwis. Momma was quick to shoot that down, proclaiming, "There is no such thing as healthy fried food, it is ALL bad for you!"
As an adult I've always felt quite guilty putting a french fry in my mouth, or eating 'fast food' options I know are cooked in oil. At home I seek alternative recipes that often involve broiling and baking in the oven, but it's never quite the same. Let's just say, inevitably, one side of whatever I'm cooking always turns up more well done than another.

Enter the Avalon Bay Air Fryer 100W- A highly affordable, and compact, appliance who's only drawback has been the capacity of preparation allowed. I suspect, however, the compact size and 2-3 serving preparation lends itself to the efficiency of the air frying process. And just what is Air Frying? It's an entirely dry cooking process which uses a top grill to circulate heated air around the food of your choice via a suspended basket. This circulated air is so super-heated it surrounds every surface with an evenly distributed blanket of 'cooking' air.
The process for Air Frying Cinnamon Bananas with the Avalon Bay Air Fryer 100W. #Ad
You won't get the flavor my father attributes to 'fried' foods, but you will get efficiently cooked food with amazing texture, every time. Best of all the process is quite consistent, so not more burnt or dried pieces. And the unit itself is extremely intuitive to use, with a temperature guide located on the top, offering general heat and timing guidelines for common foods. Cooking can begin from a cold-start appliance, simply add 2-3 minutes to the timer and ensure that the proper temperate is set. The Avalon Bay Air Fryer 100W will do the rest!
Enjoy an Air Fried Banana Split with Cinnamon Fried Bananas. This indulgent dessert is made healthier with the process of air frying, which super heats air for fast circulation around food in dry cooking. No oil or grease, and all the texture and flavor! #AvalonBayAirFryer #AdEnjoy an Air Fried Banana Split with Cinnamon Fried Bananas. This indulgent dessert is made healthier with the process of air frying, which super heats air for fast circulation around food in dry cooking. No oil or grease, and all the texture and flavor! #AvalonBayAirFryer #Ad
One of the first things I made with my new Air Fryer was what I call a Fried Banana Split. Using simply ingredients you likely already have in your pantry I added an amazing texture to a classic banana split by Air Frying Cinnamon Bananas. For a simulated 'fried' coloring you can even plan cook your bread crumbs in a Vegan Coconut Oil Spread prior to breading! Not only did the Honey Coconut Oil Spread smell amazing melting in the pan but it gave my air fried bananas the perfect color! The rest as as easy as dipping ripe bananas in flour, egg, and bread crumbs (we use Panko,) then dusting in cinnamon sugar. The Avalon Bay Air Fryer did the rest!
Enjoy an Air Fried Banana Split with Cinnamon Fried Bananas. This indulgent dessert is made healthier with the process of air frying, which super heats air for fast circulation around food in dry cooking. No oil or grease, and all the texture and flavor! #AvalonBayAirFryer #Ad
Enjoy an Air Fried Banana Split with Cinnamon Fried Bananas. This indulgent dessert is made healthier with the process of air frying, which super heats air for fast circulation around food in dry cooking. No oil or grease, and all the texture and flavor! #AvalonBayAirFryer #Ad
Always remember that your Air Fryer needs to 'dry cook' ingredients to work most effectively, so work with a dry-wet-dry pattern when breading foods. This will mean a flour, egg, crumb layer in most recipes. In just 10 minutes, from a cold-start appliance, our Cinnamon Air Fried Bananas were ready. I simply removed the Air Fryer tray, separated the basket via the easy lift button, and shook and excess crumbs through the basket's grate into the collection chamber below. And cleaning up the appliance took 2 minutes- no messy grease!

Even if you're not a big banana person, these churro like bananas hit the spot, warm on the inside, against a pile of ice cream and fresh fruit. It's definitely the BEST way to enjoy a banana split with just a little extra indulgence and no extra guilt. In fact, you can cut up to 80% of the added fat out when air frying, over traditional oil based frying. What would you love to make first in an Air Fryer?

What Daughter Says: Enjoy the fried texture without the fried guilt when you Air Fry.





Enjoy an Air Fried Banana Split with Cinnamon Fried Bananas. This indulgent dessert is made healthier with the process of air frying, which super heats air for fast circulation around food in dry cooking. No oil or grease, and all the texture and flavor! #AvalonBayAirFryer #Ad
Air Fried Cinnamon Bananas
***Click here for printable Air Fried Bananas Recipe.