Mascara Monday: Josie Maran Argan Black Oil Mascara


I’ll be honest that, for as much as I’ve been concerned about the “cleanliness” of what goes in my body since going Paleo last year, I’ve been equally un-concerned about the cleanliness of my beauty products.  Yes, I know my skin is the largest organ in my body.  And yes, my irrational decision boils down pure vanity (coupled with a few epic fails when I’ve tried natural beauty products in the past).  Nevertheless, as clean, natural product offerings have expanded and improved, I’ve been intrigued to see how they measure up.

Enter the Josie Maran Argan Black Oil Mascara.  It is touted as:

A highly effective and natural, argan oil treatment mascara that nourishes, lengthens, volumizes, lifts, and curls lashes for 24 hours.

And based on the folks at Think Dirty (I’ve become a bit addicted to their app, which rates products on the cleanliness of their component ingredients!), it ranks as a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10 (meaning it’s not going to kill me just for looking at it).

What I love:

  • It delivers on its promise to volumize with just one coat (great for busy mornings) while still being buildable for a more dramatic look.
  • The unique brush shape kept my lashes clump-free while still volumizing.
  • Surprisingly no smudging! I naturally assumed that having “oil” in the name would affect the wearability, but I was wrong.
  • It is Paraben-, Sulfate- and Phthalate-free.

What I don’t:

  • ? – honestly I don’t see a downside! Although, to be fair I need to give it a good test in July and see how it stands up to a muggy Georgia day.

Bottom line: an amazing easy-wear, day-to-night mascara that I don’t have to feel guilty about putting on! Officially in love!

I’m currently using a sample size from last year’s Sephora Lash Stash.  The full-size tube is available for $22 both at Sephora and directly from Josie Maran.


Weekend Lemonade

Weekend Lemonade

It’s Thursday and spring, which means I’m already dreaming of spending my weekend outside.  I get in the mood for lemonade as soon as the temperature is above 60 for more than about five minutes.  On a weekday, lemonade alone is treat enough (thanks to the sugar), but after surviving the week, I like to boost the indulgence level a little with this quick and easy “adult” variation.

Weekend Lemonade

(Serves 1)

  • 1oz Vodka (I prefer a Paleo-friendly variety, like Ciroc or Idol)
  • 1/2oz Gran Marnier or Gran Gala
  • Lemonade (freshly made if you’re ambitious, or your favorite store-bought variety if you’re falling over tired by the end of the week like yours truly – I like Simply Lemonade)
  • Ice

Place eight ice cubes in an Old Fashioned glass.  Measure and add Vodka and Gran Marnier.  Top with lemonade and stir. Cheers!

What’s your favorite weekend cocktail?

Review: The Eighty Twenty Magazine

8020 Vol 1

Apparently I’m not the only one who believes that refined tastes and real food are not mutually exclusive!

Have you met The Eighty Twenty?  The are, to quote their luscious website,

. . . an online magazine and community, built by and for women who lean toward the Paleo lifestyle. This site is for those who crave balance in all things. For the woman who knows what makes her feel better: more sweat, less complaining, more vegetables, less sugar, more fat, less grains, more books, less television, more fresh air, less desk jobs; the same woman who knows sometimes you just have to work late, skip the gym, eat the cookie, drink the second glass, sleep in, binge on Netflix, splurge on mascara.

It’s like they read my mind!

8020 quote

I discovered The Eighty Twenty through their gorgeous Instagram photos and was immediately in love.  Why? Because one of the things I’ve struggled with most on a personal level since adopting a Paleo nutritional approach last year is retaining space in my daily life for indulgences.  For “girly” things (which frequently don’t seem to prevail in the mainstream Paleo community).   I feel like these women are kindred spirits.  We both (in the words of Eighty Twenty editor Jenna) “have designed a life we are proud of, and a handful of vices that we can’t live without – or rather – can live with.”

Needless to say, I jumped on ordering the first edition of their magazine as soon as it was available and I’ve been delighted with the content!

8020 Sw Potato Gnocchi

The magazine is a balanced blend of four food recipes and three DIY beauty recipes, interspersed with personal stories and lifestyle features.  The recipes have a seasonal tone and for the winter include mouth-watering selections like Cider Squash Soup and Sweet Potato Gnocchi (which I can’t wait to make as soon as Lent is over – I gave up bacon – Egads!).  The personal stories are positive and inspiring, as well as sometimes humorous.  Sprinkled throughout are quick healthy lifestyle tips as well.

The only negative I see is with the price.  The print edition (which included a digital copy as well) at time of my purchase was $14.99 exclusive of taxes.  The Eighty Twenty have since temporarily suspended the print edition to look for a more cost-effective means of publication.  As much as I LOVE having the printed version to satisfy my tactile needs, I can’t see making that kind of splurge again for 38 pages when twice that dollar figure will get me a whole new Paleo cookbook.  The digital version is an easier-to-swallow $7.99 which is still a bit steep, but acceptable for a luxury product.  The file is one of those lovely flip-book views, as opposed to a PDF.  However, the downside to that format is that the recipes are not printable, which is a strong preference for me given the unclassy hot mess my kitchen becomes on meal prep day.  Nevertheless, I fully expect to purchase the digital version of the next issue (and cross my fingers that they find a way to make recipes printable in the future)!

Keep up the beautiful work, ladies! I sincerely look forward to seeing what your spring issue has in store!

On Dressing Like a Style Icon

Kate Hair

I am a great admirer of the Duchess of Cambridge – both of her personality and her style.  I have a Pinterest board devoted to Kate.  I recently joined the writing team at What Would Kate Do? – one of the leading sites documenting Catherine’s endeavors as a public figure.  So it should come as no great shock that I’m a sucker for a good RepliKate (“a piece of clothing clearly inspired by something the Duchess of Cambridge has worn”).

You don’t have to look far to find women to strive to emulate the style of other timeless icons – Audrey Hepburn or the late Princess Grace.

The thing is, even in the best of circumstances – unlimited budget, limitless time, gifted genes – no one person is exactly like another.  Case in point: my baby-fine, stick-straight hair.  Despite spending plenty of green on products and tools, and devoting an hour (or more) to styling, my hair will only hold volume and a curl for three minutes post-blowout (photo on left).  No exaggeration.  After three years of trying, I caved and cut my hair last October (photo on right; and yes, that’s an intentionally Kate-esque faux wrap dress I’m wearing).  I’ve not only bought back 60+ minutes of my mornings, but my look stays fresh and classy until I shake hands with my last client of the day.

Today I am over at What Would Kate Do? discussing the underlying fashion principles of my style icon, and how to achieve a Duchess-worthy look in the skin you’re in.

Mascara Monday: Urban Decay Perversion

UD Perversion

I’ve been hearing great things about Urban Decay’s Perversion mascara! I’m already a huge fan of the Urban Decay Naked palettes (just like my girl, Kate!) and was thrilled to get my hands on a trial size.

Urban Decay’s website describes Perversion as an

ultra-creamy, lengthening, volumizing formula [that] coats each lash with triple-black pigments and a deeply nourishing ingredient blend—for bigger, blacker, badder lashes. It’s sick how black it is…the purest, deepest, most intense black color imaginable.

What I love:

  • Lush, velvety lashes in one coat; downright falsie lashes with two coats!
  • No eyelash curler required
  • Paraben-free

What I don’t:

  • The brush gets clumpy easily
  • Gets smudgy with oily skin/humidity – not super as we enter the Sweaty season down South.

Bottom line: not my all-day mascara, but GREAT for a smoldering, date-night look!

The travel/trial size will only set you back $12 at Sephora.

2015 Reading Challenge & “Burial at Sea” Review

I’m so excited to be joining in Anne Bogel’s 2015 Reading Challenge!  2014 was NOT a red-letter reading year for me and even before hearing about the Challenge, I’d vowed to read at least a book a month.  I also resolved to read – as much as possible – books from our family library (which, trust me, is bordering on absurd).

“Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”

I love how accessible and flexible Anne’s categories are: “a book ‘everyone’ has read but you” and “a book your mom loves”.  I couldn’t resist the lure of twelve categories to match my twelve-book resolution!

Burial at Sea

I kicked off January with “a book by a favorite author” – that author being Charles Finch – and I cozied up with A Burial at Sea, the fifth adventure in the Charles Lenox mystery series.  This installment sees Charles take on the role of special envoy to Egypt in his capacity as an MP to improve Britain’s interest in the newly-built Suez Canal.  On the way, however, murder strikes and Charles must dust off his sleuthing skills and find the traitor on-board before mutiny takes hold!

I applaud Finch for taking Charles out of the streets of London and giving his fans a new backdrop.  The book is meticulously researched and it shows in the details of the ship cabins, provisions, and sailors’ dialogue.  However, I felt the usual fast-paced sleuthing fell victim to the details of the setting.  The killer reveal was more predictable than I’ve come to expect from Finch.

I am looking forward to Lenox’s return to English soil (and first major foray in the English countryside!) in A Death in the Small Hours.

Read anything good lately? Want to jump into the challenge (or dip your toe)? Some resources:

I plan to review each book on my list as I finish – if you care to join in, comment to each post and let me know what you’re reading! Also, I highly recommend you subscribe to Modern Mrs. Darcy and follow on Facebook for her check-ins, too!

Disclosure: links to the books referenced are affiliate links.

Mascara Monday: Buxom Lash Mascara

buxom mascara

I love mascara! But I’m also really fickle when it comes to enhancing my lashes! While I’m conservative in so many ways (the word “trendsetter” would never be used to describe me), I’ll jump for the hottest new thing when it comes to lashes.

So why not turn my mascara ADD into a fun sharing experience?

The Buxom line of cosmetics (a Sephora-exclusive spin-off of Bare Minerals) is billed under the philosophy “live life vividly”. Their signature Buxom Lash Mascara boasts that it will:

Transform lashes with this ultra-volumizing mascara. The vitamin-enriched, clump-resistant formula deepens, darkens, and thickens while the curvy, hourglass-shaped brush evenly coats lashes from root to tip.

What I love:

  • Paraben & phthalate free
  • Brush stays clump-free (even using daily for a month!)
  • Wears well throughout the day without smudging (a big deal when you live in the Sweaty South)
  • Buildable without getting clumpy

What I don’t:

  • Not a one-coat-out-the-door mascara – part of why it builds well is because it doesn’t deposit a lot of product per swipe; if your lashes are squeaky clean (like mine typically are after the weekend), it takes at least two passes – maybe more – to get the look I’m after

Bottom line: the perfect mascara for my gym bag – the brush holds up well and adds a flawless touch-up coat!

My 3 Favorite Drugstore Lipsticks {+ why you should buy drugstore lipstick}

Drugstore Lipstick

Confession: I’m a girly girl.  I love cosmetics.  Over the years my collection has generally veered away from the likes of Cover Girl and Maybelline and more toward Urban Decay and Bobbi Brown.

Except for lipsticks.

To be fair, I started to upgrade my lipstick collection too.  Envious of the ethereal pink Duchess Kate (f.k.a. Kate Middleton) nearly always sports (Bobbi Brown Sandwash Pink, by most accounts), I trotted off to the Bobbi Brown counter to find my “perfect lip shade” (this post on What Would Kate Do? explains capturing the unicorn of lipsticks).  I happily forked over the $26.00 for a tube of Bobbi’s Creamy Lip Color in “Crystal Pink” (color since discontinued – I am told “Nectar” is the replacement) and I wore it every day.  Every. Single. Day.

Until the day I lost it.

Because the cold, hard truth is that somewhere between my bathroom vanity, the console in my car, my purse, my briefcase, and my diaper bag, there is a black hole.  Like the one that eats socks in the dryer.  Only mine eats lipstick.  And it seems to have a taste for the more expensive ones.

I decided that something needed to give, and set out on a quest to find good-enough lipsticks that I could stash in all of the aforementioned locations without breaking the bank.  If you’ve ever caught yourself buried under the passenger seat of your car or dumping out the contents of every bag you own in an unladylike and desperate attempt to find a prize lipstick, read on for my three favorite drugstore lipsticks.

My first-thing-in-the-morning lipstick

Pixi Brilliance Balm in Nearly Naked

My eyeshadow color may change depending on the day, but rather than waste time rummaging through a drawer of lipsticks every morning for something that would wear off with my first cup of coffee, I decided that a solid nude pink would be a smart way to start the day.  I’ve been using Pixi Tinted Brilliance Balm in “Nearly Naked” for well over a year.  At $14.00 a tube, I would describe it as “upscale drugstore”.  It delivers a shot of moisture and finishes my look without precluding the possibility of a different color later in the day.

My keep-in-the-car lipstick

Revlon Lip Butter – Pink Truffle

I can’t remember why I picked up a Revlon Lip Butter in the first place, but I am SO glad I did.  This line of Revlon lip color includes shea butter and goes on remarkably like the Bobbi Brown Creamy Lip Color for between $6.50-$9.00.  Even though the shade “Pink Truffle” is a little pinker than my unicorn lipstick, it is a great every day color.  (Even better – the other colors in this line are fun and fabulous, too, and at a price point that I don’t mind playing around a bit when the mood strikes!)

My but-my-lipstick-melted-in-the-car option

L’Oreal Color Riche Extraordinaire in Nude Ballet

Yes, keeping lipstick in the car during the Georgia summertime is not without its risks, so I like to carry an applicator-based lip color in my purse as well.  My favorite is L’Oreal Colour Riche Extraordinaire in “Nude Ballet”, which is astonishingly close to my unicorn lipstick, and widely available at around $8.00.

These are the three lipsticks, swatched top-to-bottom in the order discussed.
These are the three lipsticks, swatched top-to-bottom in the order discussed.

If you do the math, you can very nearly buy all three of these for the cost of one high-end tube.  Not that the luxury lippies don’t have a place in your (and my!) life.  But until they invent Lipstick LoJack, having some low cost backups can keep you looking good without having to hide the credit card bill.

What is your favorite drugstore lipstick?

New Year, New Beginnings {+ A New Recipe}

Hello! Happy first real week of 2015 and happy first real post on Peonies & Paleo!

Wondering about the name “Peonies & Paleo”?  The Reader’s Digest version (in case you missed the introductory post) is that I started this blog to combine my love of refined things as well as my passion for real food.  Because it’s more than just ok to carry Kate Spade to the CSA pickup. And you don’t have to be a hippie to be healthy!

There are so many exciting things I have planned for this space! To kick things off on a healthy note, I’m sharing a new recipe I developed based on a friend’s go-to winter soup.  Chock full of protein, “good” carbs, and nutrient-rich kale, this Paleo-friendly, Whole 30-friendly soup eats like a meal in under an hour.

Sausage, Sweet Potato & Kale Soup

Sausage, Sweet Potato & Kale Soup


  • 2 Garlic cloves
  • 4 Chicken Sausages – quartered & sliced
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes – peeled & diced
  • 1 large gold potato – peeled & diced
  • 1 14oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 4C chicken broth
  • 1 bunch kale or spinach


  1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook 1 minute.
  2. Add sausage and brown for 5 minutes.
  3. Add potatoes, diced tomatoes, & broth. Bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Add greens and continue to simmer an additional 10-15 minutes.

This recipe yields 4 very generous servings.  I’ve just started my second Whole 30 (my first was exactly a year ago) and started my Sunday food prep with a pot of this.

I’d love to hear how you’re starting the New Year!!