Five Things I’m Loving Right Now

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New Makeup

And now for something a little bit different on this Friday — I thought I’d share with you some products that I’ve been enjoying lately, both travel and otherwise.

Have a great weekend!

SleepCycle App

Sleep Cycle App

Do you love statistics and feeling great in the morning? You should track your sleep!

This app works by putting your phone down in bed next to you. It analyzes your movement and determines when you’re sleeping and when in a deep sleep, then it wakes you up when you’re not in a deep sleep, preventing you from being groggy. You set a target alarm and it will wake you up sometime in the 30 minutes beforehand. You can customize the margin, too.

It’s really nice waking up this way (especially since the alarm is gentle and gradual). Before I started using this app, I didn’t use to wake up in a deep sleep very often, but when I did, it was enough to ruin my day.

I’ve felt so much better in the mornings and snoozing has become a thing of the past!

Sleep Cycle is available on iPhone and Android for $0.99.

Masala French Toast

Masala French Toast

Two nights ago, my mom and I were watching Cutthroat Kitchen on Food Network and the challenge involved French toast. Chef Aarti Sequeira created a savory masala French toast — and it looked so good that we decided to make it for dinner!

My mom put the recipe together as far as she could tell from the show and added a few of her own touches.

Masala French Toast

This recipe is easy enough to be eyeballed. Just go with what seems delicious.

Make a dry spice mix of turmeric, chili powder, ginger (fresh or powder), mint (fresh or dried) and basil (fresh or dried).

For the maple syrup, add lime zest and curry powder to warm, 100% natural maple syrup.

For the cream, mix crème fraîche and habañero-infused honey (or honey with anything spicy you have) and top it with a smattering of brown sugar.

Dip bread (2-3 slices per person) in a mixture of eggs and half and half, powder each side of the bread with the dry spice mix, then cook on a griddle greased with butter.

Serve the French toast alongside lime curry maple syrup and habañero honey cream.

WOW, was this good! We couldn’t get enough of it. What a great idea, Chef Aarti!

I think this might be my new surprise-the-friends-crashing-on-your-couch-with-breakfast dish.

Maybelline Gel Eyeliner

Maybelline Gel Eyeliner

I love makeup, and while I’ve tried out lots of new products since I’ve been home, gel eyeliner is my favorite new addition to my arsenal.

The proper way to apply pencil eyeliner is to pull your eyelid taught so you can draw it on evenly — but I recently learned that this is actually really bad for your eye and could cause premature wrinkling (!!). Liquid liner doesn’t require you to pull your eyelid, but it has a teeny tiny tip, requiring a steady hand, and I can only do it passably on my right eye.

Then I heard about gel eyeliner — you paint it on with a little brush and it’s super-saturated, so you can put it on without stretching your lid, and it’s so easy to paint on that it’s foolproof.

While I’ve heard that Bobbi Brown does the best gel eyeliner, I didn’t want to shell out $24 for the liner and $27 for the brush.

Instead, I opted to try out the much cheaper Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner (I got it at my local CVS for $11, including the brush; you can also get it for cheaper on Amazon) and see if I liked it.

YOU GUYS. THIS. STUFF.

It couldn’t be easier. I was able to draw skinny lines, thick lines, winged lines, any kinds of lines I wanted! And it still looks perfect 12 hours later.

Consider me a full convert. From now on, it’s all gel, all the time.

Get it on Amazon for $7.49.

90-Day Fiancé

Doesn’t TLC have the craziest reality shows? I’ve now gotten sucked into 90 Day Fiancé, a show about six Americans engaged to a foreigner who is coming over on a K-1 visa. The K-1 visa requires them to get married within 90 days of arrival, making it a bit stressful and crazy, especially if they haven’t spent much time together!

You’ve got the couples who are genuinely in love, the couples who love each other but are naive about their cultural differences, but where the show gets REALLY good is the oh-my-God-he’s-using-her-for-a-green-card-how-does-she-not-realize-this couples. I’ve never cringed so hard at a TV show in my life. I think I had my head in the pillow for a good third of the show.

90 Day Fiancé is on TLC on Sundays at 9:00 PM. Above is the full first episode of Season 2.

Abeo Flip-Flops

Abeo B.I.O.system Balboa Metatarsal Flip-Flops

Since I got tendinitis in my right food in 2008, I’ve needed arch support in every pair of shoes I own and have had trouble finding comfortable shoes since. I wear insoles all the time, but they only work for shoes that fully enclose upon your feet.

So where does that leave sandals, especially flip-flops?

I can’t just go up to a roadside stand and buy a cheap pair of flip-flops like most people. They actually hurt to wear.

Since 2011, I’ve been getting by with a now-discontinued pair of rubber Crocs flip-flops from Bali that felt great on my feet. Even as the rubber wore down, I kept them because I searched and couldn’t find anything good enough to replace them, even at the Crocs store.

But then I left them behind in a Slovenian hotel this summer. Oops.

Six months ago I discovered The Walking Company, a shoe store specializing in comfort shoes, and I’m not exaggerating when I say it was like getting my life back.

They have FANTASTIC (and surprisingly cute!) shoes for people like me who have arch issues. I even found a pair of two-inch pumps so comfortable that I can wear them all day! No insoles and no pain!

The shoes are on the expensive side, but they have lots of sales. Besides, paying for quality shoes is an investment in your overall health.

Abeo Flip-Flops

A few weeks ago, I discovered the Abeo B.I.O.system Balboa Metatarsal flip-flops, which are extremely comfortable and have generous arch support. Just look at that juicy arch!

Of course, having expensive flip-flops and traveling in the “shoes on/shoes off” culture of Asia means that I can’t leave them in shoe caddies at temples and in front of bars and restaurants. People walk off with each other’s flip-flops all the time. (I remember my friend Matt got three pairs stolen over the course of a week and a half in Thailand!) Instead, I carry a thin cloth bag in my purse and use it to carry my shoes.

I’m finally able to wear flip-flops again, and just in time for Sri Lanka!

Get them from The Walking Company for $89.95.

What is your favorite new thing that you discovered recently?

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26 thoughts on “Five Things I’m Loving Right Now”

  1. I’ve been using gel eyeliner for years, ever since CoverGirl first came out with their CG Smoothers line. I about cried when they stopped making it, and the stuff they replaced it with tends to rub off easily. I haven’t found anything I like as well, so I will try Maybelline next! There’s no way I could handle liquid or pencil now. Oh and also, I am the least picky eater ever, but French Toast has always grossed me out — ever since I was a kid. If anything could turn me though, it might be that masala toast. I love Indian flavors and am always looking for new ways to use my spices!

  2. I have to try that Masala French toast. I’ve got a weak spot for Cutthroat Kitchen. It’s pretty awesome.
    I love Urban Decay’s Naked 2 Palette. It’s not the smallest palette, but I’ve traveled with it a ton and found it so versatile for any situation. Cheers!

  3. I have a sleep app on my phone too. I have been using it for almost a year and it’s awesome. I’ve rarely had a bad sleep since I started using it and my sleep cycle is all over the place.

  4. I briefly dated a guy who always tracked his sleep and was fascinated by it! As soon as I get a smart phone I’m totally downloading the app (I’m still one of those losers with an ancient Nokia, ha).

  5. Thank you for this post. I’ve been so depressed this year just about the thought of moving back to the USA, but you made me excited of things like cheap make up at CVS, and TV shows 🙂 I do look forward a little more of the little things as we move next month. I might even go to Target.

  6. Though not a new product, we bought some Icebreaker tops for our RTW trip and have been so happy with them. You can wear them for days without them smelling or stretching out. Plus, they dry fast so laundry day doesn’t take ALL day :). I’ll be sure to check out the gel eye liner when we return next yet!

  7. Have you ever tried fit flops- 3 of my sisters say they are the most comfortable shoes ever. I haven’t tried them myself -they don’t just do fit flops, they have boots, shoes and runners as well.

  8. Wow! The geek in me it totally loving the sleep app! How fascinating! Might make waking up a whole new thing to look forward to! Thanks for the read, will certainly be looking into downloading it…

  9. African wildlife is really amazing! Big majestic animals like elephants and wonderful patterns and colors on animals like leopards and zebra make it a majestic avatar like place. Click on my name (navigate to my website) to see what I mean.

  10. Now you tell me! I just had my one pair of flip flops stolen by a drunken traveler at a bar in Thailand. I, too, have tendonitis and I only have ever found one pair of inexpensive flip flops that fit and feel perfect and don’t ever have the thong pop out of the bottom. They are the Airwalks you can get for $9.99 at Payless, but they are the only ones I can wear. I’ve tried others from the shops around Thailand to no avail. I’m now flip-flopless in Thailand 🙁

  11. It’s actually a myth that you need to pull your eyelid to apply liquid/kohl eyeliner properly…you just need to look down at a mirror and apply it in either 3 parts (outer eye, corner and join the two up) then dot the gaps….or use gel which is far easier! I personally use Kat Von D tattoo liner, which is liquid and my total desert island fave:)

  12. Okay this is not new to most people but I’ve recently become obsessed with crock pots and scarves (random white girl things, I know). But seriously, my only travel regret for my upcoming trip to Thailand is that they don’t make travel size crock pots. And I’m planning to only pack a carry on (pray for me) so it would take up too much room. And scarves are just great. Do you have any product recommendations for my one week Asia backpacking excursion? Thanks in advance!!

  13. ah got tendinitis in my achilles right foot too few weeks ago after walking for a week in solo city break….sore and annoying one!! How long did it take for yours to heal? I now have to go and get some proper shoes. Do you always wear flats now?

  14. Great list. I just checked out the “90 day fiance” show. It is really addictive. I finished the entire season 1 in one night. Moving on the season 2 tonight. I love living in Germany, but I do miss my dose of reality TV every now and then. I call it candy for my brain. Thanks for sharing Kate.

  15. Great tip about those flip-flops. I’d like to never wear shoes again in my life but wearing flip-flops when constantly walking on hard surfaces makes my legs hurt. I’ll look up the Walking Company.

    Thanks.

  16. Oh my – I have very similar issues with my feet. I am a total barefooter – or at the most, flipflops – but my podiatrist told me if I ever want my Achilles to heal I have to stop wearing them. That prompted me to go on an all-out search for the best flipflops made, and it, too, led me to the Walking Company. I had to drive an hour and a half one way to get to one, but I came home with those very same flippers. I can’t believe the difference in my feet now. And although not optimal, it does at least allow me to still wear flipflops some of the time. I’m also a travel junkie (with a travel blog). I actually checked out your site because in nine days I will be taking my very first solo trip abroad. I’m excited and a little anxious at the same time.

  17. I also use the Sleep Cycle App and is excellent. Use it to 4 months and my sleep has improved a lot. I always had problems with sleep more in the last four months have been very good to me and my sleep.

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