Wonderful White Chocolate Banana Bread

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Whenever I buy bananas, I never finish the entire bunch before they turn that awful brown color. One day, though, I decided to get a little crafty and waited until the bananas were so mushy I could barely stand to touch them, and made banana bread! From that day on, I have always repurposed my un-eatable bananas into a delicious, moist treat — and my friends and family are very thankful for it.

Recently I tried to spice up the recipe a little by adding some white chocolate and I am not joking when I say the result was dreamy. It was warm and even sweeter and the drizzle on top was the perfect touch.

If you try out this recipe, post it to Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #TaylorIsBaking so I can see!

Today I am bringing you my own recipe for the perfect White Chocolate Banana Bread!

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First thing you need to do is make sure your oven is preheating to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius) and make sure there are no other things in the oven.

With a stick of butter, grease your bread pan, then flour it lightly. This recipe also works well with a brownie pan!

On your stove, bring a small pan of water to boil. Make sure you have a bowl that can sit on top of the pan to melt the chocolate in. Once it is boiling, turn the heat very low and pour the chocolate chips into the top bowl. DO NOT forget to stir the chocolate continually or else it will burn. I actually burnt mine, but I took out the most hard pieces and kept stirring it and it turned out fine! It may take a long time to melt.

Now you can do the fun stuff.

Make sure your butter is softer, but not melted, then combine it with the sugar until it becomes creamier.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and mash the bananas. Then pour them into the sugar and butter. Combine well.

Now stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt and add it to the mixture, followed by the vanilla extract. Now mix until they are combined, but do not overmix. Try to get rid of any big clumps of banana.

Pour half of your batter into the pan. Your chocolate should be melted by now, it is ok if it is not milky. Pour most of the chocolate on top the first layer of batter, then follow it with the rest of the batter. (You can use all of the chocolate here, but I preferred to save some for a chocolate drizzle topping.)

Now put the pan in the oven for 50 minutes. You may need to go longer depending on your batter. If you want to do the chocolate drizzle, don’t allow the chocolate to cool. Place it back on top of the heated pot and stir it occasionally.

When the bread is about done, and not watery in  the center (feel with a toothpick), remove it and begin to drizzle your chocolate over the top so the chocolate can cool over it. I also sprinkled on a light layer of sugar for looks. An optional topping could be nuts — I feel like that would go very well with the recipe.

Now your banana bread is ready to be devoured!

If you recreate this recipe, I would love to see! Post it to Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #TaylorIsBaking.

Thanks for reading,
Taylor . x

Inside my college backpack.

For the next four years, you will be living out of your backpack. It is best, and almost essential, to have everything you would need for a day trip in your bag. You may leave your dorm or apartment set on going to lecture or to the library but then be coerced into romping about town. Because of this reason, you also don’t want an uncomfortable backpack or one that is too heavy.

I wore a big, bright blue Jansport bag for my entire first year. It was half my size and far too heavy. I downsized into an old family Yale track bag, which was still sizable enough to fit my 15″ laptop. That is a key factor in choosing a backpack – can you fit your laptop in it? Another key factor – is it durable in the rain? More than likely you will be caught walking on campus by a thunderstorm.

With that last thought, a nice umbrella is essential.

I also like to carry a Brita filtered water bottle so I can fill up anywhere and know that my water is clean. This helps me to drink more water during the day and my skin is very thankful.

You will need to make space for the less exciting school notebooks, but I like to carry a book for pleasure around because so much reading can be done while waiting for things.

Do not forget a pencil pouch. Your highlighters will explode, so instead of ruining a rented $200 textbook, ruin a $2 case.

For my entire backpack haul, you can check out my YouTube video that just went up!

 

What’s in your school backpack? Let me know down below!

Thanks for reading,

Taylor . x

How I Style a Jumpsuit || Short & Small

Hello everybody!

I was recently, and so graciously, gifted a jumpsuit by the cutest little Instagram shop called Red Door Boutique. Stay tuned for a discount code at the end!

Since I had never worn a full-length jumpsuit, but have always wanted to try it, I thought I would show how I styled it.

My main concern was how it would look since I am fairly short. I turn 20 in September and I am only 5’1… maybe 5’2 if it’s a good day.

I really like my height and wouldn’t want to be any taller or shorter, but I am always concerned on how maxi skirts, long dresses, and jumpsuits would look on me. I still want to wear those clothes, so I thought why not make it suit me instead of making myself suit the clothes.

The first thing I did was rolled up the ankles.

The ends were already cuffed at a good length, but I thought that this might make my legs look a but longer and put a bit more skin between the pant and my shoes.

Next I tried some slightly heeled black boots. Because the jumpsuit is grey and white, black complimented so well. I also chucked on a small black backpack because who wants to carry around a purse alll the time?

Something else I tried out was grey and brown, and I actually thought it looked nice since the grey was so light. That is a style I have been loving — mixing shades of browns with shades of black.

The sandals made the look much more summery since it is a full-length jumpsuit, while some brown or black boots would look great in the fall!

I also paired it with my Van Heusen bag that I just love.

To top off the brown look, I tried a brown belt to match the shoes and bag. This separated the look a bit and added a little more detail to the body.

Now, if you want to recreate this look for yourself using this jumpsuit, visit Red Door Boutique and use the discount code taylor15 at checkout to get 15% off any non-sale items. The code is only available through Sunday, August 12 until 6 EST. All sale items are already 30% off, so enjoy some stylish back to school shopping!

How would you style the jumpsuit? Let me know in the comments, I would love to know!

Thanks for reading,

Taylor . x

 

Also, a huge shoutout to my amazing mom for being my photographer for all of these pictures! Thank you ❤

Truthwitch Review

truthwitch.jpgTitle: Truthwitch

Author: Susan Dennard

Publisher: Tor Teen

Genre: YA Fantasy

Release Date: January 5th, 2016

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

 

~ Goodreads Synopsis ~

Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.

Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she’s a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden – lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult’s true powers are hidden even from herself.

In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls’ heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

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I wasn’t in the biggest reading mood whilst reading this, I must confess. I have been really excited to get into it, but when the time came, I just wasn’t feeling it. I was just in such a mood to take pictures and film videos and work on my blog design that reading kind of took a back seat, but I finally started getting really into it when I was in the last like 50 pages. Then I was really disappointed that I hadn’t been really into it the majority of the book.

The one thing that really stuck with me, though, is how great the female friendships were. There were no men that got between Iseult and Safi, there was no kind of competition, they just were true best friends. It was so nice to read that I didn’t realize how badly I wanted a book like that.

The entire book, actually, was run by females pretty much. There were a couple main male characters, but most of them were female and I was all for it. They were also super relatable. They were all very brave and powerful, but they also had real emotions and thoughts that made them feel human.

The plot was also interesting. Honestly, I couldn’t give a good summary myself because a lot went right over my head since I wasn’t in the right mood.

The forms of witchery were also interesting because they were very different. Magic stemmed from different elements, and it all very spiritual.

However, I found the book quite slow. There were action bits here and there, but none that really caught my attention until the end. I almost DNFed the book in the middle, but I pushed on because it had been so long since I did a review to be honest.

I feel like it was also a bit predictable and followed the same lines as most YA fantasy books besides there being relatively no boy drama. No matter how predictable it was though, it was pretty fun.

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this book to someone who doesn’t read a lot because it might turn you off a bit to reading, but if you are barreling through books, I would suggest this one because it is purely a fun, feminist book that is more on the lighter side.

Let me know what you thought of Truthwitch and if you have read the rest of the series! Are the other books better?

Thanks for reading,

Taylor

Books for non-readers.

Finding the right book for you, or someone else, when you don’t read very often or are unsure of what you would like can be very hard. It took me a while to get in the loop with the major series that people in the book world liked, such as Throne of Glass, A Court of Thorns and Roses, and Red Queen. But even once you find those key series, and read them, you are without reading material once again and are in the same situation. So, here are some recommendations for you, or a friend, if you are interested in getting into reading but don’t know where to start.

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y o u n g . r e a d e r s

Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan

It is hard to go wrong with this book when it comes to 8 to 14 year olds. However, even as a 20 year old, I appreciate this series just as much as I did when I was in that age range. Riordan’s writing is witty and fun and never has a dull moment — there is always either some kind of action or a clever comment being made. The characters are hilarious and relatable and there is so much Greek mythology involved in the series that it is truly educational. (Do not base the book series on the movie series, the books are decidedly better)

Crowns of Croswald by D.E. Night

This book is best explained as the more light-hearted version of Harry Potter. A young witch-type character is told she has powers and is taken to a school to learn the unique kinds of magic specific to the world of Croswald. There are so many delicious-sounding foods and whimsical adventures to keep a reader of any age enthralled, although it feels considerably younger.

Dark Hills Divide by Patrick Carman

I haven’t picked up this series since I was 10, but I still think about it a lot. It actually inspired one of my first short stories ever, though it is currently unfinished in my binder of childhood writings. Since it has been such a long time, I don’t remember much about it, but I do remember falling head over heels for it. It has a darker vibe to it which I hadn’t been introduced to yet as a younger reader, but it is still a great middle grade read.

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y o u n g . a d u l t . r e a d s

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

This was one of the series mentioned in the above paragraph that pushed me even deeper into reading and really broadened my view on books. It is also super popular and is beloved by so many readers. In it, we follow a young assassin who is forced into the king’s competition to be the king’s personal mercenary. From there series really goes on a whirlwind and I know I can always count on these books for a great story. It can be a tad racy at times, so if you are sensitive to sexual things, in the Empire of Storms book there are a few scenes that are more mature, though the preceding books don’t have any to my knowledge.

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

This is a twist on the classic Beauty and the Beast tale where we follow Nyx, a young girl destined to marry the terrifying demon king controlling her land because her father made a faulty bargain and she was the price. However, once she enters his castle to meet him and marry him, she uncovers a lot about his past unbeknownst to even himself. I apologize if you are sick of hearing (or seeing) me gush about this book, but I just still cannot get over it and it has been like an entire year.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Speaking of books that left me in a book coma… As a book-loving, fantasy writing soon-to-be 20 year-old, this was the most relatable book. Cath was just dropped off at college with her twin sister by her father who struggles with mental illness. Cath wants to finish her gay wizard fan-fiction, but a couple boys, her father’s spiraling behavior, and her sister’s partying get in the way. It is funny and awkward and so realistic. If you are in college or going to college, this book is a must-read.

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

This novel was inspired by Ancient Rome with an empire oppressing its people with a vicious military. We follow Laia, whose brother was arrested for treason, and Elias, who is a member of the military, as they are fighting against two different sides trying to control them. There is so much magic and many great quests to follow the characters. And it’s hard to forget the amazing plot twists.

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

This is the most feminist novel I have ever read. Mariko is the daughter of a samurai who was practically born for marriage in a Japanese-based culture. When she goes to meet the man she was betrothed to, her caravan was ransacked. As the lone survivor, she tries to uncover who put the target on her — however, she gets caught up in a treacherous group of young men and she has to fit in as a male to save her life and uncover the truth.

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a d u l t – i s h . r e a d s

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

This book is far more mature and for this series, if you are sensitive at all to sexual or mature content, please do not pick it up. With that in mind, this book is about fae beings and a human girl who is brought across the border between the mortal and fae lands for killing a member of the Spring court while hunting to feed her family. The High Lord of the Spring Court, however, sees her as more than a criminal. This book is daring and beautiful and is everything I ever wanted. I adore Rhysand. That is all.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

I actually have yet to read this book, but I will be picking it up after I finished my current read. I have seen the movie, and loved it, and believe that this plot would be perfect for a non-reader as it is new and exciting. Nick’s wife goes missing, and when the police gets involved, all the fingers get pointed at him. To prove his innocence in her disappearance, he has to track her down somehow. Then there is the plot twist of the century.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

For those of you who love classics or would like to try a classic, this is the perfect place to start. It is still new age as it is set in the roaring 20s, but it is dazzling and whimsical. Nick moves in next door to a mysterious man who is filthy rich, but no one is quite sure exactly who he is. Gatsby begins to take an interest in Nick when he sees Nick is friends with a woman named Daisy who he has his eye on. It’s a, literally, wild ride following these curious and quirky characters through such a fun era.

Beauty tricks I swear by.

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Honey mask.

For this trick, literally all you do is slather honey all over your face. No, this is not a prank to see who would do it. I have done it a couple times because I saw that honey had such great benefits like it prevents aging, it helps with acne since it’s antibacterial, it’s super moisturizing, and leaves a nice glow on your face. I find that it just makes your skin look so healthy and clean once you wash it off. I left it on for about 30 mins to an hour, but be sure to tie your hair back so it doesn’t get caught in the honey!

Sun for a clear face.

My Mom always made a point to tell me to sit outside when I complained about having acne when I was younger, and I always brushed it off until one day I tried it and it helped so much. Not only did having a sunny glow on my face help cover it, but the vitamin D of the sun helped to clear the acne quickly. Just sit outside for about 10 mins without sunscreen, because the sunscreen can also clog your pores and for 10 mins you shouldn’t burn unless you burn easily. It’s just enough to let the vitamin D sink in.

Sugar and olive oil scrub.

This is a DIY that I make on a regular basis. Not only is it cheap to make, but it is also super effective and if you get organic olive oil, you know that there are no harmful chemicals in it like some store scrubs. This is such a great exfoliator — the sugar is sharp and scraps off dead skin and the oil leaves a nice moisturized layer. I do this in the shower too so it just dissolves when I rinse it off. I just feel so soft and silky when I’m done!

Coconut oil tanning lotion.

My roommate this past fall introduced this to me, actually. We went tanning and I was so confused why she brought out a bottle of coconut oil, but after she put it on, she was so much darker by the time we went inside. She let me try it and it really worked! She had a darker complexion and I had a paler complexion, so it works on both skin types.

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Massaging your hair.

Just run your fingers through your hair, use your nails and rub into your scalp for about 10 mins. This will stimulate blood flow to your hair follicles and add volume to your hair. It will also prevent your hair from falling out when you’re older!

Olive oil in hair.

Another thing I love to do! I just put in the oil all over my hair, focusing on the roots and ends where it needs it the most. I read that olive oil promotes hair growth and provides nutrients, but I found that it also makes my hair smoother, shinier, and softer after I do it. After I put it in, I just do some homework or read for a about 30 mins, longer if time allows, and then rinse in the shower and follow my normal shampoo and conditioner routine. This is a holy grail for me.

Apple cider vinegar rinse.

I have only been able to do this a handful of times because I cannot stand the smell of vinegar, but I found each times that my hair was so much shinier because it cleanses the hair and removes chemicals from products — if you use dry shampoo, definitely try this! It also promotes growth for longer hair. All you do is pour it on your hair in the shower, massage it into the roots and ends a bit and then rinse it out and follow with shampoo and conditioner.

b o d y

Drinking lots of water.

This is an all-around beauty trick. It helps your hair grow and shine, it helps clear your skin and make it glowy, it increases metabolism, and it makes you just feel generally better. I have a Brita filtered water bottle that I try to fill up and finish four times a day.

Green tea.

I have about 3 cups of green tea a day, not only for the taste but for the health benefits. It helps your metabolism, especially if your drink it in the morning and it clears my skin when I drink it regularly. It’s also very calming and I read that it can help to prevent cancer when drank regularly.

Let me know what your beauty tricks are, other readers and I would love to see them! Also let me know if you try any of these and how they turned out for you.

Thanks for reading and I hope your found this helpful,

Taylor . x

A Touch of Gold spotlight.

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Hello everyone!

I am back with another spotlight post for an upcoming release! This one is by Annie Sullivan and is titled A Touch of Gold. You won’t be able to have this book in your hands until August 14th, but I spoke with the author to give you all an inside look before the book is released. I am highly anticipating this book and I am excited to share it with you all.

Annie’s website:  anniesullivanauthor.com

Goodreads: Annie_Sullivan

Twitter: @annsulliva

Facebook: Author Annie Sullivan

Instagram: @annsulliva

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Here were the questions and her answers:

1. How would you summarize A Touch of Gold?

A Touch of Gold is a young adult novel perfect for the fans of Cinder or the Percy Jackson series. It follows the seventeen-year-old cursed daughter of King Midas as she battles pirates, betrayers, and thieves on her quest to retrieve her father’s stolen gold. It’s full of twists and turns that will keep readers guessing!

2. What was your inspiration for writing A Touch of Gold?

The idea of A Touch of Gold came about after watching the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. I kept thinking about all that cursed gold, which led me to the story of King Midas. However, I like to write about strong female characters, so I focused in on King Midas’s daughter. She’s such a forgotten character in the original myth, and I wanted to bring her own story—her own curse—to life.

3. What can your readers expect in this new fantasy? Will there be other books for this world?

Readers can expect a world full of adventure that combines the original myth with heart-pounding action and dynamic characters. The world of A Touch of Gold brings in a lot of elements from Greek mythology, and while I wanted to stay true to their roots, I also wanted to put a new spin on things so that readers don’t always know what’s coming.

I’m hoping there will be a sequel to A Touch of Gold and maybe even some spinoff novels featuring some of the characters that we’ll meet along the way. There’s just so much in this world to explore, and I hope the readers fall in love with it the way I have.

4. Who was your favorite character to write and why? Was there a least favorite?

I loved writing Princess Kora, the daughter of King Midas because of the intricacies of her personality and what she went through being turned to gold by her father. But I also loved writing her cousin, Hettie, because Hettie is a no nonsense type with a lot of wit and sass. As for a least favorite character, I think I like all my characters—even villains—because they all have a vital role to play.

5. What is your favorite book/genre to read?

My favorite genre is YA Fantasy. I love worlds full of mythical creatures, sweeping landscapes, and adventures I dream about going on. There’s always so much at stake in fantasy novels, which makes me want to root for the characters that much more.

6. Is there anything else about the book or yourself that you would like my readers to know?

I love hearing from readers and talking with them. (Use the links above to get in touch with her!)

So there you have it! There is an inside look into Annie Sullivan’s  upcoming release. If it was inspired by Pirates of the Caribbean and is described like Cinder and Percy Jackson, I’m all in. I cannot wait to get a copy after August 14th!

Will you be reading A Touch of Gold?

Thanks for reading,

Taylor . x

The 904 store bookish candles & mugs.

Recently, I was chosen as a rep for an Instagram store for bookish candles and mugs called The 904 Store. There are few bookish things I love like I do these candles. This post isn’t sponsored in any way, I’m only responsible for posting pictures on Instagram, but I love this store so much that I want to share it with you all.


They are so strong. I have yet to burn them, but every time I walk into my room I am welcomed by a wave of their scents — usually a berry, cinnamon, ocean smell and it’s delightful.

Jill is magic with combining scents and making them match their theme.


Packing is something I really pay attention to for candles, but I adore the look of these candles. They are super simple and elegant with pretty cursive scripted names. They have such a clean, simple look that match my aesthetic so well.


Really though, these candles are amazing and I would highly recommend them if you want a bookish candle. If you would like them, I have a discount code you can use at check out and that is TAYLORISREADING . If you get them, let me know what you think!
Thanks for reading,
Taylor.

Ten more creative writing prompts.

I love doing these posts because trying different prompts is so much fun, and creating them really gets me in a writing mood and gets my creativity flowing. If you’re stumped on your writing and want something to get you back into the swing of things, try writing about some of these. You can read the last ten prompts I did here.

Your character is escaping a murder they just committed, but that’s not even his/her biggest regret…

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You’re standing in the middle of the ocean, how are you standing?

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Who lit the fire burning down your childhood home, and why?

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There’s a holiday in a world entirely your own. Is it religious? Does everyone celebrate it? What is it about?

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Use all of these words in your story: silky, slimy, soiled, sauntered, soaked.

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Begin with: “After they left, I was alone with…”

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Your character is in their favorite place in a fictional world you created.

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Write about a place where a sky scraper is falling. Why is it falling?

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Describe a feast setting to a person who can’t see or smell.

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Use this sentence: “What is that dripping down your forehead, girl?”

 

I hope you all enjoy these prompts that I created, and I would love to know if you tried any!

Thanks for reading,

     Taylor .

Fresh faced – my favorite skin care products.

My skin is very moody — it changes all the time between being dry and oily and just normal so I have a variety of products for each mood. These, however, are products that I have found work for my skin no matter what temper tantrum it’s having. I linked all the products on their titles so you can find them there if you are interested!

The first product is my holy grail skin product that you have probably seen a lot of, and that is the Mario Badescu rosewater facial spray. It smells amazing and does a great job of calming my skin and clearing redness. It also just feels really nice to spritz this on to refresh my skin after a shower or washing my face. This product truly lives up to all its hype.

Next is the Simple soothing facial toner. I find that using a toner just softens my skin more than anything and evens my skin tone since I do get red skin. And this product by simple doesn’t have any parabens or harsh chemicals to hurt your skin so it’s completely safe! It’s also great for sensitive skin.

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These charcoal cleansing pore strips by So Fresh, So Clean are life savers! I don’t have black head problems, but if I notice my pores have grown unsightly, just sticking one on my nose or chin for a few minutes shrinks them right back up.

Then we have the Aveeno positively radiant shower facial. This was a life-saving product. I actually grew addicted to it and would use it every other day until now because, as you can see, it’s empty. It really did everything it claimed — it cleaned my face and brightened it after a few uses and it just left my skin feeling really clear and healthy. It also worked well with acne if that is an issue for you. I never had severe acne, but it does work for pimples that pop up randomly.

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This final product is one I love to spread on my face every week or two just to cleanse it and rejuvenate it, and that is the Freeman Anti-Stress dead sea mineral clay mask. It’s really cool and doesn’t take long to harden — I’ll just wipe it on and then go read or clean something and wait about 20 minutes to go wash it off and follow it with the above products to give my skin a real detox. My pores are just so clean after using this and I love the feeling.

So those are my go-to skin care products, you can see that most of them are completely empty or close to being so, so you know I really love them. I would buy all of these again, and definitely will!

What are your go-to skin care products? I would love to know, I love skin care.

Thanks for reading,

     taylor .