Sunday, December 08, 2013

First Snow

It's our first snowfall of winter 2013. Picture taken at 8:30 pm on December 8. We have maybe an inch or two of snow and it's just lightly flurrying now. At 24 degrees, it's a very glittery, fine snow. However, they are calling for the temperatures to rise overnight leading to a mix of sleet and rain. Should make for a sloppy drive to work in the morning!

Saturday, December 07, 2013

The All Natural Face box, December 2013

I feel like the blog is a bit redundant lately with only TANF reviews, but here we go again with December's box which arrived today. Here's what was in this month's box...

The box was filled with very festive red and silver crinkle shreds filler which made a mess and was promptly relegated to the trash. Tucked in a green organza bag were the eye products...sample sizes of Black Gold eye shadow (which I have been dieing to try since Wheaten Beauty showed it in November) and Gold Dust eye shadow. Two pots of gel eye liner in Mayan Gold and That Black and a jar of Awesome Black Primer. Although I'm not a huge fan of their gel eyeliners, I can not wait to try the black eye primer. I've recently gotten into using dark primers under my eyeshadow to really make the colors pop and I do love their other eye primers so this should be a win.

Two full size products were also included: Coconut Bliss body lotion (smells yummy!) and Edible "Love Dust". Uh, ok. I'm not sure exactly where that fits in to the picture, not what I expected in an "all natural face" box.

November's box was such a home run I had high hopes for December too. I must say I'm a bit disappointed. I'm definitely excited to try they eye kit and might even give the cat eye look shown on the idea card a try. The body products are not really up my alley. Both are quite shimmery and as I've mentioned when i got overly shimmery products in the past, it's just not a look I go for. Shimmer on the eyes, good thing, anywhere else, not so much so. So a 50/50 box this time. But that's totally cool. The All Natural Face's average is still way better than Birchbox ever was! :)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The All Natural Face box, November

In a nod towards Thanksgiving, Gratitude is the theme of the November The All Natural Face subscription box.

The highlight of the box is a set of 10 full size pre-release pigment eye shadows! The collection has a number of green-based shadows, which I sometimes find hard to pull off with my skin tone, but I have been adventurously testing them out this last week and have been pretty pleased. My favorite look so far used New Year's Eve as a brow highlight, Pumpkin on the outside corners of the lids and Absinthe on the inside corners. Softly blended the look is gorgeous. Be sure to use a base with the pigments since they don't seem to want to stick to my bare skin very well.

Also included were samples of Facial Cleanser and Bananas & Cream face food (which I haven't tried yet) and Oil Makeup Remover. I've tried the oil remover and find it works wonderfully at dissolving all traces of makeup with out being too greasy afterwards. I prefer to use it with a hot cloth as just rinsing doesn't seem to work as well.

Finally, they included a $10 gift certificate. This is amazing. The box only cost $15 and they ship priority mail which means they spent at least $5 to ship it. It's like they are just giving it away! I continue to be so impressed with this company. I've got a full fledged order on the way from them (finally redeemed my Groupon) and can't wait to post about all those new goodies when they arrive.

The link is back up if you want to subscribe to the monthly beauty box. Just click here.

ps...I'm not in anyway affiliated with TANF. Just a happy customer!

Friday, November 01, 2013

You Tube on Roku...FINALLY!

After years of frustration at the decline of cable TV (do we really need 900 reality shows?) and the ever increasing cost, C and I dropped cable almost 2 years ago. Now we get our home entertainment thru a Roku device. We love our Roku and highly highly recommend it. With subscriptions to Netflix and Amazon Prime, we find we can get plenty of content to keep us entertained. Not to mention the plethora of other channels that are available with more added all the time.

But I'm a total You Tube addict and have been frustrated by the lack of ability to stream You Tube content to our Roku. Until now. It's been several months since the last time I researched the subject and decided to give it another shot today. I found this article on CNet about using an app called Twonky to stream You Tube (and other content) from your smart phone to your Roku. I followed the steps and within 15 minutes (or less) I was watching You Tube on my TV from the comfort of my recliner. I used an iPod Touch with Twonky Beam rather than a smartphone, but it works exactly the same.

The article is a little outdated, there is now a public Twonky channel on Roku so you don't need to add the private channel. Also, your Roku can be wired, wifi is not required on the Roku as long as both devices are connected to the same network.

There is a handful of other content available on Twonky, but I have not tested any of it. For now, I'm just happy to be able to finally watch You Tube on the TV rather than being tethered to the computer or watching on a small tablet screen!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The All Natural Face box - October edition

I received my 2nd All Natural Face subscription box this week and am totally thrilled.

The October theme is "The Eyes Have It"and the box was jam packed with goodies.
As the title suggests, this box was all about eyes. There's a card showing some suggested eye looks and another card listing all the products. The card lists 12 sample size eye shadows, but I actually received 13. Also included is a nice looking eye shadow brush. I love TANF eye shadows and the selection of colors included in the kit look perfect for fall. Their samples are quite generous (I have yet to use one up) and they come in nice little pots. Some folks have complained that the pots are difficult to open. My trick is to set the pot on my counter and use a tweezers to gently lift the lid.

They also included a sample of the Eye Primer in Buff. I have their Vegan Eye Primer (which is white) and find it works very well at making my pigment eye shadow looks last all day. I'm looking forward to giving this one a try too.

Two full size gel eyeliners were included (purple and brown) with liner brushes. These look like huge pots of eyeliner! Like enough to last for 3 lifetimes. I'm not a super fan of gel eyeliner but I will certainly give these a try. I've seen some rather dramatic eye looks using gel liner as an eyeshadow base so maybe I'll give that a go.

There's a product called Seal It which looks to be a product you can mix with the pigments for a foiled look or to create liquid liner. I will make use of this product since I do like using my pigments as liner.

And finally a full size cream blush. The color is a bit warm for my pale skin and cream blush is sometimes tricky on my dry skin but I may try it just to see how it works.

I am really loving TANF products and the surprise of the sample box. Definitely think I'll get more use out of this subscription box in the long run than the previous subscriptions I've had.

If you want to subscribe, the box is $15/mo and you can sign up here.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sargento String Cheese

I like cheese as a snack. I remember when we were kids these little individually wrapped nuggets of cheese that were quite yummy (I think they may have been called Nips, but I'm not sure). They seem to have disappeared and now it seems the cheese snack du jour is string cheese.

Truthfully, I've never been a huge fan. I find most brands of string cheese to have a rubbery texture. But when Influenster invited me to try Sargento cheese for free, I figured I didn't have anything to lose so I'd give them a try. My local grocery store carries a few varieties of Sargento snack cheeses, I went with Light String Cheese.

The packaging is standard string cheese wrapping. Influenster sent along this nifty little cold case to carry your string cheese on the go. Even when I forgot to put my snack in the fridge at work, it stayed pretty cool in the case.

The cheese is really quite good. There's none of that icky rubbery texture. It is a nice, creamy but firm cheese. The flavor is relatively mild and not overly salty. The nutrition isn't too bad for a snack..50 calories per piece (25 from fat, 1.5g saturated fat/0 trans fat). I would definitely repurchase this cheese.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

September Ipsy bag

Time for my September Ipsy bag. This months goodies came in a really pretty blue case. The last few cases have been the same style, just different fabrics. They are really nice quality and a good size. I like this nylon style bag better than some of the previous bags they used.

Inside was another terrific batch of beauty products.

First up is a Cailyn lip balm in Big Apple, a bright red. I received a Cailyn gel eyeliner in a previous Ipsy bag. While the eyeliner is quite nice, I hate the packaging. I see the point, the long cap is actually a brush to apply the product. So your brush is always at hand. But it takes up too much room and I never reach for it. I know right off the bat I won't use this lip gloss either. I hate applying lip products with a brush. As often as I reapply my lip products and as clunky as this packing is, I won't carry it with me. And I don't wear red. Three strikes, it's out. (full size)

Next is a trio of Freeman sheet masks. These I'm definitely going to try. I love being able to do a face mask without the mess clay masks have. My set included a hydrating (perfect timing with cool weather on the way), purifying (I don't have trouble with oil/acne so may put this right in the donate bag), and brightening (after a summer of limited sun exposure, I can use a brightening treatment for the evil age spots!) Freeman is generally not a brand I purchase because their products are pretty chemical heavy, but these don't look too terrible ingredient wise. I'll certainly give the samples a try. (full size)

A Starlooks eyeliner in Obsidian. I certainly don't need yet another black eyeliner pencil but I'm interested to try Starlooks (have heard they are a decent dupe of MAC). On the fence as to whether or not I'll open this or donate it. (full size)

Elizabeth Mott It's So Big mascara. Never heard of this brand. The info says this is a smudgeproof volumizing mascara. I can always use mascara so I'll give it a try. (deluxe sample size)

Last up NYX eye shadow in Pure Gold. I like NYX in general and this is a really pretty color for fall. (full size)

Another pretty good month for Ipsy. 4 of the 5 products were full size so definitely a good value. That being said, this is my last Ipsy box. At least for now. My interest in natural cosmetics has been rekindled and I've decided to switch to the All Natural Face subscription box for a bit (they are in the middle of upgrading their website and I don't see the link at the moment. Hopefully it's not discontinued!) I do still highly recommend Ipsy if you are looking to try beauty/skincare samples. Their service is the best I've run across so far.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Summer 2013 perfumes

Fall starts tomorrow and cooler weather is already starting to grace us. As always, I'm anxious to pull out my cool weather fragrances. But before I pack away my warm weather scents, I thought I'd revisit what I reached for most this summer.

My perfume buying has slowed down dramatically this year as I have come across some scents that are real keepers. Ones that I can wear day after day without getting bored. While my collection is still pretty large (my summer scent shelf around 36 bottles/decants) I found myself repeatedly reaching for these six...

Dolcelisir by L'erbolario. This was a new purchase and is insanely wonderful. It smells a bit like apple cobbler but the most amazing, totally out of this world apple cobbler you could ever imagine. This one will be a year-rounder.

Burberry Brit Summer. I picked up both Brit Summer and a rollerball of Brit Sheer hoping to find a more hot weather friendly version of the original. Summer fit the bill. You get the lime/almond of the original, for sure, but this is lighter and fresher. I wore this one a ton, especially to work. It is totally non-offensive.

Avon/Mark Marrakesh. A lot of Avon's scents are average, run of the mill, dime a dozen variety scents, so I've kind of gotten away from purchasing them (and NEVER at full price. Ebay is your friend here!) Marrakesh I bought solely for the bottle. What a stunner! I held little hope for the juice. Even a whiff from the bottle didn't convince me. Straight up jasmine and coconut, neither of which are up my alley. But after wearing it a time or two, I found I really loved it. It is unique from anything else I own, so it's a nice change of pace. Only works for me on a really hot day, though. Dark horse winner of the summer.

The last three were all in my collection and (I think) might have made last summer's list. I made a point not to re-read last year's post because I wanted to keep this one fresh.

Lucy B Royal Egyptian Amber & Honeysuckle. Sweet, sweet, sweet. It makes your teeth hurt just smelling it. But it is yummy on the skin. A light amber that does very well in hot weather. Love this one for night time.

Tommy Girl. Still my favorite rose perfume. Super girly, insane longevity. Keeper, year-rounder.

Burberry Weekend. Going on year 3 for this bottle and still adore it. Another one I prefer for really hot days. Spring/summer only, I think, because it smells so much of hyacinths.

Honorable mention (not shown)...a new perfume house I discovered this summer, Imaginary Authors. I tried 4 of the 7 scents: Cobra & Canary, The Soft Lawn, Falling into the Sea and Memoirs of a Trespasser. All were excellent. C&C as too masculine for me, but the rest were all contenders. I wore Soft Lawn quite a bit but I ended up buying a bottle of Memoirs. Look forward to this in heavy rotation for fall!

Now I'm off to pack up the summer scents and dig out the falls. Let the party begin!

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

The All Natural Face box

I recently discovered a mineral makeup company called The All Natural Face. They carry a wide range of mineral foundations (both powder AND cream format), loose pigment eye shadows/blushes/powders, skin care, body care, and much more. Samples are dirt cheap. You can get a sample set of all of their foundation colors in your range (light or dark) for $6 (I'm currently testing the light shades). Eye shadow samples are $.35! I'm loving their shimmer shades, not so fond of the mattes.

When I heard they offer a monthly sample box I knew I had to try it. The box is $15/month and includes over $20 of products and free shipping. You can sign up on a recurring basis or for just one month to give it a try. This is what I did and my first box arrived this week. Here's what I got...
A sample pack of powder foundations with a mini kabuki brush. The brush is trash, but I know I'll use all of the foundation colors. The great thing about these powders, I find, is that they are very forgiving and many of the colors work well with my skin tone.

Glow in Champagne Rose: an all over or blush powder

Blush in Dusty Rose

2 eye shadows: Just Peachy and Brandied Peaches

Dark Brown Diva Stick. This is an eye shadow crayon that could be used as an eyeliner (according to their website).

Dead Sea Salt & Coconut Milk Scrub. This is a powdered scrub that you just add water to and mix as needed. I love this type of product!

Body Butter in Peppermint. This is melted right now do to the hot weather we are having, but I imagine it will be lovely in a few weeks when it starts getting cool and my skin starts drying out again.

I'm excited to use all of the goods I got in my box. Not sure if I'll go on a full time subscription or not. Since the value is not all that much greater than buying the products ala carte, I might just prefer ordering colors and items I know I'll use. If you are interested in checking out the sample box just scroll to the bottom of their home page for details.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Kindle MatchBook

Check this out...coming in October, Kindle MatchBook will allow Kindle owners who have purchased (certain) paper books from Amazon to get the Kindle version of the book at a reduced price (all the way down to FREE!!) The list appears short at the moment but a post on another blog mentioned they hope to be up to 10,000 titles by the launch in October. I've long thought it would be a great feature to get the Kindle version along-side the hard copy. Thumbs up Amazon for making this feature a reality.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Crock pot apple butter

I've been wanting to try making crock pot apple butter since I heard of it earlier this year. With it being a long weekend and the summer rambos looking great at the market yesterday, I decided it was time to give it a try. I worked from this recipe, cutting it in half as my crock pot is rather small.

I peeled, cored and sliced enough apples to fill my crock pot. Added a 1/4 c apple cider vinegar and set it on high for 8 hours.
Here's how it looked at the beginning...

And after 8 hours...

At that point I stirred it and turned the temperature to low. I left it go over night and here's what it looked like in the morning...

I added 1 cup splenda, 1/2 cup brown sugar, a teaspoon of cinnamon and a dash of cloves. Stirred covered and let it go for another 4 hours...

It did not get quite as dry as I would have liked so I removed the cover and turned to high for another hour. Probably could have gone longer to get it thicker, but I think it's fine the way it is.

I ended up with a bit over 4 cups of apple butter and it is DELICIOUS. The recipe doesn't say how to store it but I'm going to freeze mine to be safe.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Zorak, is that you?

I spotted this awesome little guy when I was cutting back the lavender tonight. There was another praying mantis clinging to the wall behind the lavender but I couldn't get a picture of him.

**Bonus points if you know who Zorak is.

Monday, July 15, 2013

July Ipsy Bag

Time for another Ipsy bag. This month's theme is Beach Beauty.

The case is not to my taste. I really wish you could have the option of not getting the cases. They are sometimes cute, but who really needs THAT many makeup bags!

The contents, however, are totally to my liking!

First up was a little eyeshadow palette from BH Cosmetics. The shadows are quite pigmented. They go on smoothly and blend very well.

A sample of Coola mineral sunscreen for the face spf 20. I'm rocking sunscreen everyday since it seems the list bit of sun makes my freckles and brown spots more pronounced. I've heard of but not tired Coola so I'm excited to give it a go.

A Benetint cheek/lip stain from Benefit. I'm a fan of Benefit cosmetics kitchy packaging. Their boxed powders are fabulous. I've tried Positint and its ok. I'm not such a fan of liquid cheek stains. They tend to make me look a bit like a clown. Might try this as a lipstain, though.

A Pop Beauty Pouty Pop Crayon in Rose Romance. This is one of those chubby stick lipbalms. The color is beautiful, the formula is smooth with a tiny bit of minty tingle. I think this is full size.

Finally, a sample of  Healthy Sexy Hair Soy Renewal Beach Spray. Ironically, I had been contemplating purchasing a salt spray to try to get some beachy/peicey curls going. Glad I held off since this came in my box. Can't wait to give it a try. Although I'm a little worried that a salt spray may be too drying on my already dry hair.

All in all another fabulous box.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

GHP follow up

So what did I think of my first experience with gel nail polish? First off, I received tons of compliments on the polish. People really seemed to love the shine/glossiness. I was pretty darn impressed with it's lasting power and chip resistance. The polish lasted 7 days before chipping (my norm is about 3 days). In that time I worked in the garden, pulled weeds, washed the Jeep, cleaned house, and cooked dinner every night. Work was probably the hardest on my nails. Typing on the computer always leads to tip wear. There was no, nada, zero tip wear with this polish! This week, however, I was doing hardware upgrades and I think that was the ultimate undoing of the gel.
  Even so, I only have 3 chips after 8 days.
I didn't break a single nail this week, despite the heavy abuse of ripping apart computers.

The big downside though is that removal was a nightmare. I read the instructions and watched a bunch of instructional videos. All showed soaking a cotton ball in acetone, putting it over the nail, wrapping the nail in aluminum foil and waiting 15 minutes. They show the polish just peeling off at this point. Uhuh. Not even close. I ended up having to soak my nails in acetone and scraping the polish off with an orangewood stick. Several of my nails peeled in the process. Not happy at all. I had finally gotten most of my nails to stop peeling through several months use of OPI Nail Envy. This was a pretty big step back.

Maybe removal is easier if you wait longer than a week, I don't know. At this point I'm not even sure I want to try again. I love the idea of long lasting manicures, but not at the cost of my nail's health. If I try again it will be a gelly sandwich (gel base and top coat with standard nail polish in the middle). Perhaps this doesn't create such an impenetrable barrier.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Gel Haute Polish - first thoughts

Recently Living Social offered a Gel Haute Polish starter kit for $30. I've been wanting to try gel polish but starter kits run anywhere from $50 and up so I kept putting it off. $30 sounded like a fair price and I had the money so I figured, why not?

I hit a stumbling block almost immediately. The kit came with the basic gel nail supplies (base and top coats, cleaner, remover and light) along with 3 color polishes. There were 3 color trios to choose from but the kits were not identified. I thought maybe the names were in the same order as the pictures (apparently not the case). I ordered the Fundamentals kit. Turns out this included a brown, tan and orange polish. Not my style. Thankfully LS issued me a refund so I could order a different color set. Unfortunately, they could not identify which name went with which kit. I really wanted the purple set and had a 50/50 shot at getting it when I ordered the 2nd time. This time I went with the Impluse trio. Still not right. This one includes hot pink, neon orange and turquoises green. I didn't feel like hassling with another return so I just went with this one. (FYI, if the kit comes up again and you want the purple kit, the name is Timeless).

When I redeemed my code there was an option to buy additional polishes at 50% off. I went ahead and ordered 2 purple polishes. The kit arrived in a little over a week (I paid the extra $2 for express shipping). Just in time for my long weekend.

The directions are simple to follow. The products are amazingly low in odor, much less even than regular nail polish. The process takes a while because you have to cure each coat of polish under the LED light for 2 minutes. You have to do the 4 fingers on each hand and the thumbs separately.  This is where I could see an advantage to buying one of the higher priced kits that include a more powerful light (I've seen cure times as low as 30 seconds on some of them). I didn't mind much, though. I loaded up my Youtube queue and just watched videos as my nails cured.

I found the color polish a bit difficult to apply. The instructions stress using multiple thin coats, rather than one or two thick coats. I had to apply 3 coats of color to get a decent opacity, and even this is a bit sheer for my taste. The polishes self level, which is sort of nice, but it seems to pull away from the tip of the nail. Even though my nails feel like the polish goes all the way to the edge when I touch them, they look like there is a sliver of white at the tips, giving the appearance of tip-wear. I've seen suggestions to "tip"the nails with polish (run the brush along the free edge to coat the edge with polish) but my nails aren't quite long enough to do this. I'll have to practice and see if I can't find a way around this issue.

All in all it took a little over an hour to paint and cure both hands (a normal manicure for me takes less than 20 minutes plus dry time). I love the way my nails feel. They are smooth as glass. The shine is gorgeous. I put them to quite a test yesterday afternoon...I washed the deck furniture, worked in the garden, pulled weeds, cooked dinner. Any one of those tasks would normally result in at least one chip, especially on a fresh manicure. The pictures in the post were taken today. As you can see, there is not a scratch or dent on them. Color me impressed.

They say the polish can last up to 14 days. We'll see. A standard mani lasts maybe 3-4 days on me before showing tip-wear or chipping. I'll post back how I make out with this gel polish. I'm a little anxious about the removal process (anything that involves wrapping your fingers in aluminum foil with acetone soaked cotton balls doesn't sound overly fun) but we'll see how it goes.

Friday, June 21, 2013

2013 Garden report

I feel like I'm a little late getting this post up this year. We considered not doing a garden at all this year after last year's disappointing season. But I just couldn't resist the call of nature and we've ended up with quite a nice setup.

In the long bed I've got onions and tomatoes.

This year I sort of blocked the main garden out a little bit in the Square Foot Gardening style, with all the plants in groups.

I've got 2 squash,  2 cucumbers, a boat load of peppers, both hot and sweet, 2 more tomatoes, 3 varieties of eggplant, a small patch of lettuce, a patch of spinach that did not sprout (will probably plant pumpkin here) and 2 rows of okra. Ants have been a huge problem this year. I'm trying to fight them with homemade bug spray which is working to a point.

In the far bed we moved our blueberry bush (which will soon have ripe fruit!), I also planted some Stuttgart onions (supposed good for storage) and a variety of sunflowers. I love sunflowers and can't wait for them all to bloom.

So far the weather has been good for the garden. We've had some good rain and nice sunny days. Hopefully we'll have a better summer than last year!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

June Ipsy bag

My June Ipsy bag arrived this week and once again, I am delighted. This month's theme is "On the Wild Side" hence the leopard spotted bag. Here's what was included in my bag:

Cailyn Line-Fix Gel Eyeliner in Iron. I've never tried gel eyeliner so I'm excited to have received this one. The color is a silvery medium grey. It comes with a brush in the handle and applies like a dream. Full size with a retail value of $21.

StarLooks lip pencil in Bare. I am on such a nude lip kick right now and this is a perfect nude shade. Full size with a retail value of $12.

NYX Mosaic Powder in Cafe. NYX is on of my favorite makeup brands so I was psyched to see a NYX product in my bag. I am unfamiliar with their Mosaic powder. I think it is a blush or possibly a bronzer. The shade I received definitely leans towards bronzer. Full size with a value of $7.

Chella Ivory Lace Highlighter. This is a soft, creamy highlighter pencil. I love a pop of highlight under my brows and this one looks great. Not sure if this is full size, probably is, retail value $18.

J.Cats Sparklng Cream Palette. I thought this was eyeshadow, but according to Ipsy's site this is for use on the body only. It appears to be straight up glitter in a bit of a gel base. Perhaps for a Halloween look or for someone who maybe goes idea. Definitely not for me. It's going straight to the donate box. Full size, retail value  $4.49.

So, final count... received 5 full size products, 4 I will definitely use, retail value of products $62. So totally worth the $10 I paid. Truly loving Ipsy! Click here if you want to check it out.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

May Ipsy bag

I've mentioned before my love of sample programs. I've tried (and left) Birchbox, Sample Society and Eco Emi. Eco Emi was probably the best of these but also the priciest. Birchbox and Sample Society were always hit or miss. I rarely had more than one or two samples in a box that I liked, the samples were ridiculously small or unsuitable to my skin/hair type/color (why do they have you fill out a beauty profile if they aren't going to use it?!) So for a while I was off the sample boxes. Then I started to notice a lot of YouTubers talking about Ipsy and how much they had improved since their GlamBag days. I decided to give it a try.

I just received my second bag this week and am delighted.
In my totally retro looking bag I got 3 (THREE!!!) full size products! A Zoya nail polish in Julie. The frosty lilac shade is totally my color and I can't wait to get it on my nails (love Zoya). A Mirabella Shimmerati lip gloss. This, unfortunately is not my color and the packaging is terrible so I will be passing this on to someone who will love it more than I. A Pacifica rollerball perfume in Gardenia. As we all know, I am a complete perfume hoarder so I was thrilled to get this. The scent will be great for summer (a less sweet version of Kai). Also included was a travel size Pacifica bronzing body butter. This should be nice for adding a bit of color to my pasty white legs here at the start of shorts weather. And finally a sample of Yaby concealer. I am unfamiliar with Yaby and don't use concealer so this was a pass for me.

All in all, I got well over the value of the $10 I spent on this bag even with the two dud products. Last month (which I didn't photograph or post about) was really good as well. I love that Ipsy is including some full size products along with generous size samples. They seem to be paying attention to the beauty profiles too as the products and colors I'm receiving are mostly ones I may actually use.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Colgate Optic White system review

After a month or so of use I'm happy to report that the Colgate Optic White products I received in my Sugar n Spice Influenster box do seem to have whitened my teeth.

I received the Colgate Optic White toothpaste and mouthwash along with a Colgate 360 toothbrush.

I've been a diehard Sonicare user for years and years and nothing is ever going to get me to give it up. That said, I did give the Colgate 360 manual toothbrush a try since it was part of the box. It is like no other toothbrush I've ever tried. For starters it feels huge in my mouth (especially compared to the compact head of my Sonicare). The 360 in the name (I believe) refers to the concept that this is a whole mouth brush, rather than just a toothbrush. There are ridges on the back side of the brush that clean the inside of your mouth while you brush and can also be used to clean your tongue. There are 3 different size and textured bristles as well as rubber "whitening cups" that help to polish your teeth. I feel this brush is incredible at cleaning every surface of my teeth and mouth.

The Optic White toothpaste was not new to me having tried it before, but I have used it for the last month to test the whole system. I have quite sensitive teeth and am always cautious with tooth whitening products as they can be quite irritating. I was very pleasantly surprised with the Optic White toothpaste. It is non-abrasive and gently but effectively whitens my teeth. I did not find it increased sensitivity in my teeth. The only downsides are that it tastes pretty awful, no minty-freshness feeling after brushing. And it is quite foamy. A little toothpaste goes a long way which makes it very economical.

The final product is the Optic White mouthwash. This stuff is just awful. It tastes terrible. It leaves an unpleasant coating in my mouth. I usually have to rinse with water after using it to clear the gross foamy coating it leaves behind. I don't know if it aids in the whitening process or not since I haven't used it consistently.  I would not purchase this product.

In all, big thumbs up to the toothbrush and toothpaste. With just these two products used about once a day I have seen noticeable whitening after a month. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013


I don't recall where I first saw Steamcream. I think it was when I was browsing on Beautyhabit sometime last fall. I'm a sucker for cute packaging and I'll admit that's what first drew me to the brand. Steamcream comes packaged in tins that are decorated in gorgeous designs, often limited editions.

I sprung for Meadow first (that's the one with a sheep) when Steamcream was offering free shipping and the actual price came out a wee bit cheaper than Beautyhabit. The package arrived quickly even though it shipped from the UK. The tin was indeed adorable, but the proof is in the pot.

Steamcream is a light but incredibly moisturizing cream. It has an herbal scent that is very pleasant and lingers for a bit on the skin. The cream can be used anywhere..face, hands, body. I love it as a face cream. My skin feels super soft and moisturized. During these cold winter months I've been applying it before we go walking to protect my skin from the wind.  It absorbs quickly making it a perfect hand cream. A small amount goes a long way but I still don't think I'd use it as a body lotion (unless I hit the lottery).

Steamcream is a mostly natural product (there are 2 parabens, but they are the very last thing on the ingredient list and the amount is minimal). The first ingredient is oatmeal infusion which makes the product very soothing. You can read all about it on Steamcream's website.

Since purchasing my first tin, I did go back and order more. Last month they still had free shipping and were offering a free tin if you ordered 2. I picked up Verona (heart) and Prudence (cat) and gave the freebie to my sister. If you think you'd like to try Steamcream, I suggest you sign up for their newsletter as they often run specials.

Influenster Sugar 'n Spice box

I just received a new Influenster voxbox. The theme of this one is "Sugar 'n Spice". I was shocked to find the box packed full of stuff I think I will actually use and love. I've heard of Belvita and am excited to try them. Colgate has been my go-to brand for toothpaste forever and with the amount of coffee and chocolate I consume, whitening products should be most helpful. Vaseline spray lotion could be interesting. I've tried spray lotions before and have not been a fan so I'll be interested to see how this performs. Splenda is another favorite brand of mine but I had not heard of this version of sweetener. And finally Dickinson's oil absorbing towelettes. I have pretty dry skin so I'm not sure how much use I'll get out of these. All in all, very exciting. Reviews to follow.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Scents of Winter 2012/13

With only a few weeks left in winter I thought it was time to list my most worn scents from the last few months. Fall and winter are my favorite times for perfumes. I can pull out all my heavy, cozy scents that just don't work in hot weather. Here are the ten I've reached for the most, in no particular order...

Burberry Brit - Almond and lime are at once refreshing and comforting. This one is light enough to be multi seasonal, but I prefer it on cooler days.

DKNY Golden Delicious - This one is a year round favorite. The fruity floral is perfect when I want something lighter than my usual winter fare.

Molinard Habanita - This is an old fashioned, somewhat grandma-ish perfume. Heavy powder with a slight tobacco background. The old-lady vibe makes it a bit hard to wear. I love it for around the house or bed time. I have the original formulation although I do know it was recently re released with an updated formula.

Violette Market Fezziwig & Company - Sadly this limited edition indy perfume is no longer available for sale, so I use it sparingly. It is a delicious chocolate/orange concoction. The dry down does evoke images of sitting in old Fezziwig's Merchantile with its hardwood floors and melange of imported coffee, fruit and chocolate. I am desperately trying to find a mainstream perfume to dupe this.

By Kilian Back to Black - Honey tobacco that lasts and lasts and lasts. Super strong, a little goes a very long way. Good thing since it costs a kidney to buy!

Serge Lutens Chergui - A recent acquisition that became a fast favorite. Sweet hay and amber. Delightful sprayed on a scarf so the scent wafts up as you move. Love. (No I did not use 2/3 a bottle already. The bottle arrived with the cap loose and most of it leaked out in shipping!)

Opus Oils M'eau Joe #3 - Holy Grail. Want to wear nothing else, but since it smells like whiskey and cigarettes that's not really practical. See last week's review for a full review.

Prada Prada -  This is the original Prada. I got this refill bottle for an absolute steal! I just fill a $10 atomizer I picked up on eBay and I'm good to go. Prada is a blend of amber and patchouli. Rich, sophisticated and long lasting.

For Strange Women Decadence and Debauchery - Another indy favorite. This one is still readily available. Rich and earthy. I get compliments whenever I wear this one.

Coty Wild Musk - A blast from my past that I recently repurchased. I wore this nearly exclusively in late high school and then went off it for years. Revisiting it I find I still love the soft powdery sweet musk.

I'm working on paring down the perfume collection again as it ballooned immensely over the last year since I got back into mainstream perfume. This list is a good solid list of keepers for me.

And now for something completely different...My sweet hubby sent me flowers yesterday. Aren't they gorgeous?!
Stuart (the grey cat) chewed up the leaves so I'm having to keep them up high where he can't get to them. But I just had to bring them down and snap a picture and share this harbinger of spring.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Mental Floss & the pinecone bottle

A few years ago my sister gifted C and I with a subscription to Mental Floss and has kindly continued the tradition since.

The magazine is a delightfully quirky source of information. Topics are all over the, history, biography, trivia, even beauty! It is one of the few magazines I read more than 80% of the content and save the issues! Much to my delight, they now give you the tablet edition free with your print subscription so I can read on my Kindle Fire (seriously, why doesn't EVERY publisher do this?!)

Earlier this week I was reading the March/April 2013 issue and found a nifty little craft project on page 17. Similar to the concept of a ship in a bottle, they presented a pinecone in a bottle. Fortunately we are still in the right time of year to find closed pinecones and happen to pass under a spectacular pine on our walking route. We found a smallish closed cone and I had an old nifty looking olive oil bottle with a neck just wide enough to squeeze the cone through and voila...

I'll be sure to post a followup photo when the cone opens. I think it will be quite cute.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

M'eau Joe No 3

In fall 2012 Opus Oils released a new perfume called M'Eau Joe No 3, Hollywood Whiskey Fragrance. I love boozy scents and thought this sounded intriguing. But since I am actively trying to reign in my perfume buying, I decided to wait for some reviews to come out and see what people were saying. When I saw Boo's review a few weeks back, I knew I had to give it a try.

I ordered a sample first. Customer service from Opus was great and it came within a few days. The scent blew me away. (A bottle purchase soon followed!) It is absolutely unique. You won't smell anything like it anywhere else. It is straight up booze and tobacco. But not in a bad way. M'eau Joe is the most comforting, cozy fragrance I've had the pleasure of wearing. It conjures images of a richly wood-paneled room with big cozy chairs, a fireplace burning fragrant logs, pipe smoke and glasses of whiskey. I do not smoke or drink, nor do I ever got to bars, so I can not fathom why this scent strikes such a chord for me. But it surely does.

This scent would not be for everyone, that's for sure. It is strong. VERY strong. One spray lasts for hours and projects very well. Probably not the best choice for work unless you go really light on the touch. Perfect for lazy days at home or for going out. Great scarf scent! Walking outside on a cold day with a bit of this wafting up, sheer heaven.

The notes are: 
Top Notes - Whiskey, Saffron Attar, Rice Paddy Herb, White Cognac & Geosmin
Middle Notes - Pyralone, Honey, Rose, Violet & Chocolate Base Notes - Dark Amber, Vanilla, Tobacco, Musk, Moss & Woods

If you love tobacco or boozy scents, you have got to get this one. 

Morningstar Veggie Burgers

Recently I was invited to join a new Bzz campaign for Morningstar Veggie Burgers and I jumped right in. It was a no-brainer since I am familiar with Morningstar and know I would be able to find them at my local store.

I love a good hamburger. My grandfather raised cattle so we grew up with good beef to eat. However, now that C and I have more healthy eating habits, beef doesn't figure in to our diet much anymore. Chicken and turkey burgers are a pale substitute. So, we've turned to veggie burgers. Most, to be frank, are not very good at all. But Morningstar is a notable exception.

Morningstar burgers come in a variety of flavors. Our favorite are the Mushroom Lovers. They have a mildly smokey flavor and the mushrooms give them a more "meaty" texture. I wouldn't really call the flavor overly mushroom, though. We also like the Garden Veggie variety. The water chestnuts in these give an interesting bit of crunch.

Morningstar burgers are great for a quick lunch since they can be heated in the microwave. We prefer them heated in the oven or a skillet though (microwave can leave them a bit tough if you overcook them). On a whole wheat roll with regular burger fixings like tomato, onion and a slice of cheese, they make a great dinner.

If you are looking for a lower fat/calorie option for a hamburger and have possibly been disappointed with other non-meat burgers out there, you should give Morningstar a try.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sephora haul

I adore browsing Sephora's website but rarely order from them because I just can't seem to fork out the cash for high end makeup. However, still being a little flush from Christmas cash and with my birthday next week, I decided to splash out and treat myself to some goodies.

Most of these things are products I've heard rave reviews for and have been dieing to try.

The Shiseido Facial Cotton are a bit pricier than my favorite Swissper cotton rounds. I certainly will be reserving these for my face and using the Swisspers for my nails. The Shiseido cotton pads are so incredibly soft and fluffy. Super gentle for removing eye makeup (which is about all I use cotton pads for on my face). I've seen it suggested to split them in half to get more value for your money and I think this is doable given their thickness.

I have been really wanting a classy lipstick and the YSL Rouge Volupte Lipstick is definitely classy. I chose Nude Beige. Turns out my monitor color is off and the lipstick isn't really my shade. However, the formula is incredible. Creamy, moisturizing, pigmented, long lasting, delicious smelling. I may end up exchanging it for a different shade.

I'm not much of a lipgloss girl, but again, everyone raves about Buxom so I wanted to try it. I chose Big Creamy Lip Cream in White Russian. The color is a lovely pale pink. The formula is slightly tingly and moisturizing but not at all sticky. Love it!

A small L'occitane Rose 4 Reines hand cream. Can never have enough hand cream and this one smells beautiful and leaves my hands soft but not greasy.

Can never have enough eye shadow so I picked up the Sephora Primal Instincts Eye Palette. It looks to be a nice selection of neutral shades with a nice satin finish. I haven't tried them yet, but they sure look pretty in the pan.

Boring hair ties round out the stuff I purchased. Everything else was freebies!!
The usually perfume/skin care samples weren't anything special.
They had a special "deluxe sample" promotion the week I ordered and I chose the Josie Maran Cleansing Oil and Soap & Glory Righteous Butter. Haven't tried either yet.
I finally redeemed my Beauty Insider points that have been slowly accumulating and got a Buxom Shimmer, Shine & Smoke sample kit. This includes an luminizer, mascara, eye liner and a mini Buxom lip polish.
And finally, because it's my birthday, I got this year's birthday treat which is a Benefit set that includes They're Real mascara and Watt's Up highlighter. Can't wait to try both of these!

All in all I'm very happy with my haul. Very much worth the wait and saving up for.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Which Sixteen Candles character are you?

Here's a somewhat lame but fun quiz Which Sixteen Candles character are you? Apparently I'm Randy, Samantha's best friend. Pretty much knew I wasn't Sam, but one could hope!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Clarisonic, one year later

In December 2011 I got a Clarisonic Mia for Christmas. I had been using the Olay face brush for awhile and liked the results. When C asked what I wanted for Christmas, I knew I wanted to upgrade to a Clarisonic and he graciously got me one.

I thought I had written a post comparing the two brushes, but can't seem to find it. Both do an effective job cleaning the skin and providing gentle exfoliation. If you don't have the funds for a Clarisonic, I highly recommend the Olay brush.

I love my Mia. I loved it from day one and still love it a year later. The brush leaves my skin feeling absolutely clean and energized. It's like a little facial massage whenever I use it. I don't use it twice a day as suggested in the literature. I used it daily at first but now use it maybe 4 times a week. It is certainly gentle enough to use everyday, I just don't always take the time.

Some cleansers work better than others with the brush. I have used it with my Burt's Bees Intense Hydration cream cleanser, but it really works better with a cleanser that foams just a bit (Organique Hydrating face wash is a good natural option).

My skin has never looked and felt better. It has helped my chronically dry skin become more normal. I think the brush preps the skin so well my moisturizer works all the better. When I go a few days without using the brush I can definitely notice a difference in the texture of my skin. The Mia provides the perfect amount of exfoliation to keep my skin looking great. I rarely feel the need to use face scrubs anymore, nor do I use chemical exfoliants (like AHAs).

Mine holds a charge forever. I only need to charge it once a month. This is a big plus for me since my bathroom is small and I don't have a place close enough to an outlet to keep it on a charger all the time.

I replace the brush head about every 4 -5 months. They recommend every 3 but since I'm only using it a fraction of the time recommended I feel I can go longer between changes. It is important to wash the brush head, and I think this is a step a lot of people forget. Just like your washcloth gets grimy from use, so does the brush head. I thoroughly rinse the head each time I use it. Once a week or so I remove the head from the handle and give it a good wash with Dr Bronner's peppermint soap. If there is any residue in the handle I clean that out too. Leave it assembled overnight to thoroughly dry and it's ready to go the next day.

All in all, the Clarisonic is my favorite skincare tool ever. The difference it has made in my skin is amazing and I never want to be without one. If you are on the fence about whether or not it's worth it, I can heartily say it is!