Friday, June 29, 2012

theBalm Shady Lady Vol.1

theBalm Shady Lady Vol. 1 Palette. A lovely mix of colors!
I told you I purchased these during the recent promotion (all 3 for $39.50); I kept volumes 1 and 3. I dug into Vol. 1 first, so that's the one I'm showing you today. As far as quality goes, I'm really pleased with these palettes; the shadow texture is soft and pigmented, though there are a few that are not quite as good as the rest. Still, I got these for an incredible deal, and I like the color variety, so there are no complaints here. Also, in case you've never seen one of these in person, they're quite manageable - one is about the size of a hand, so they will travel well and don't take up too much space. The one thing I will be a bit critical about is the fact that the ridge of the mirrored top can sometimes dig into the shadows - in the photo above, you can see the smudge where the pink rim of the top cover dug into Shameless Shana. If you store them flat without pressing down on them too much, though, it should be okay.

I swatched all of these with a finger onto bare skin, no primer.
Swatches of the top row. Caught in the Act Courtney is the patchiest, but still easy to work with. There is visible glitter in that shade, though, and the others don't have any glitter - just shimmer.
Again, I can't put the accented "e" into my labels on GIMP. *shakes fist* Of these, Curvy Cami is my least favorite, probably both because of the visible glitter and just the shade itself - plums aren't my favorite on my eyes. Jealous Jordana and Risqué Renee are both lovely, but this may also be my bias for greens and blues.
The bottom row is full of winners. Jet-Setting Jennifer is exactly my kind of color - a beautiful, understated gold that I use as an all-over lid shade. All About Alex is a great dusty olive green, and Easy Wheezie is a slate blue that works well as a crease shade.

All together, now:
Overall, I'd say it's a good mix of shades; none of them are overly bright or punchy, and they work well together.

I bought mine during theBalm's recent promotion (all 3 Shady Lady palettes for $39.50, which is the regular price of one), and I'm pretty pleased. Do you have any of these? Would you be interested in seeing some EOTDs with this palette?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Thursday Post

Lady Antebellum: Wanted You More. The instruments in this song kill me. So beautiful. Oh, and uh, I guess singing about heartbreak and all is beautiful, too. (I just realized that if you're on Safari, the videos don't work..!)

These photos are giving me the travel bug. S. and I want to go to Korea and Thailand next spring...

My brother has an obsession with corgis. These are so adorable though!

My heart sort of broke for these guys when I first learned about them on an episode of "The Life of Birds." They said a lone Kakapo male had wandered around a long time, calling for mates that were no longer there. It seems like they're starting to repopulate, but 126 birds is still not a lot. :(

I need to get my hands on these.

Simply breathtaking. Eerie, beautiful, fantastic.
What is the obsession with squirrels? He will never catch one, but he always, always, always tries!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Beauty on a Budget: EcoTools Brushes

Left: EcoTools Bamboo Eye Brush set, Ecotools Blush Brush (sold individually); Right: Bamboo 6-piece Brush Set. I own two more brushes that aren't pictured here - the Bamboo Finishing Kabuki and the Recycled Retractable Kabuki; both are excellent (click the links for my reviews).
I don't own a lot of fancy brushes. Most of my collection is composed of Ecotools, Sephora, and Real Techniques brushes; I do have one lone MAC brush, but I actually don't like it very much. I know everyone talks about both EcoTools and Real Techniques a lot, but I figured I'd throw in my two cents. Today, I have EcoTools!
The handles for the eye brush set are labeled appropriately. Very nice!

I purchased the Bamboo eye set and was given the 6-piece set as a gift for Christmas. They both come in a little brush wrap - the one for the eye brushes has a little mirror. The blush brush that I bought individually is also different than the one that comes in the set; the individual one is tapered and comes to a point, while the one from the set has a rounded top. Both are fluffy and excellent, and I use them for different effects. I don't know that you need both, though.

All of these brushes are soft and well-made; I haven't had any noticeable shedding and they wash nicely and are easy to dry. I like the eye brush set a lot, though I wish that the "shade" brush was a little bit bigger and a little fluffier - less dense. It would be the perfect set then. As it is, though, it's a great little set for traveling, and I like the short handles.
The wrap is a zippered pouch, as well, so you can throw things in it if you need to - like tweezers, for example, or cosmetics.

The 6-piece set is not as great, in my opinion, as I don't use the concealer brush or the eye shading brush; both are flat and stiff, not my favorite for use with items in my daily routine. I imagine the shading brush might work with cream shadows, but I don't own many of those at this time. I do really like the eyebrow brush and the angled liner; I use the angled liner brush for my eyebrows, so together they are my eyebrow duo! As mentioned before, I also use the blush brush on occasion (I prefer the tapered one, actually), so 3 out of 5 isn't so bad. I think there are other sets for basics, though, so I'd skip this one, especially if you already have components of it.

The travel wraps are convenient for, well, travel, but on a daily basis, not so much. I took out the long-handled brushes and stuck them in a cup with the rest of my brushes; the short-handled eye brushes remain in their kit, which is a bit annoying. I tried putting them in the cup, but they're...too short. (Duh?) But they are easy, I just fold back the edges and then grab the whole roll when I'm doing makeup. Lately I've been using the Real Techniques eye brushes, though...see those next time!
:D Not the most glamorous thing, but it works. And hey, it's a helium cup ;)

The eye brush set retails for around $7.99 at most drugstores, and the 6-piece set retails for $12.99, though both often go on sale (and at Ulta you can use coupons on them). The eye brush set is definitely a steal.

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Healthy Dragon Has Shiny Scales!

A England Dragon*. A gorgeous, gorgeous emerald green holo. This is two coats over an OPI base coat, no top coat.
I'm sure you've all seen this one by now, but I finally put it on so I had to share. You know how sometimes, you have things that are so pretty, you don't even know how to use it? Or what the occasion might be? And that, my friends, is why this is so late. I just stared at its sparkly glory in the bottle for a very long time.
The formula is a bit thick, but it's also fairly easy to work with and coverage is opaque in two coats.

But I finally put it on, and then I ogled at the pretty in person - it's so sparkly! The green base color is so rich, and the holo is so obvious - it's completely eye catching. And then, for whatever silly reason, I decided to mattify that.
Mattified with Rimmel's Pro Matte Finish Mattifying Top Coat (which I received as a gift). Still speckled, but now it just looks a bit foiled.

Big mistake. The holo died. It was if that glorious deep fire had just fizzled out - poof! In the photo it still looks like the holo is visible, but in person, my nails just became a deep, matte green. It wasn't ugly, exactly, but it kind of reminded me of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle nails. They're pretty awesome and all, but I don't think I want to take fashion advice from them. Or fashion inspiration. I lamented the loss of my sparklies.

Next time: no matte coat. And there will be a next time, my pretties. So. Green.

Available from A England, which offers free shipping worldwide.

*Items marked with a star were sent by the company for evaluation.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sweet Anthem Candle-Making 101

Nikki Sherritt, of Gabriel's Aunt, Rebel and Mercury.
I've got a bit of information for any local readers! Sweet Anthem is hosting a candle-making 101 session this Saturday, so if you've ever been curious about candle-making, now's the time!

Official Information (directly from Sweet Anthem): "Come join us for an afternoon of perfumed candle-making with Nikki Sherritt of Gabriel's Aunt and Rebel and Mercuy fame. Nikki is the creator of Aftelier Perfumes and Ayala Moriel Perfumes candles as well as her own line based right here in West Seattle.

This class covers the basics of candle-making at home; from choosing the right wicks to choosing the right wax. Two candles will be created during classs: A natural blend by Nikki and a Mixed Media Blend by Sweet Anthem's perfumer Meredith Smith. Because this class focuses on techniques rather than fragrances, students will not be able to choose the notes that go into their candle – rest assured the blends provided will be delectable!

Classes are taught at Sweet Anthem Handmade Perfumes – Meredith's atelier in the Morgan Junction neighborhood of West Seattle. Please plan for a two hour class for finding parking, enjoying the lecture, and most importantly – letting your candles cool enough to take home! During your class, you can purchase other candles and perfumes made by Nikki or Meredith, or sign up for more intensive courses to be held later in the summer.

Questions? Call 206-937-1415 during business hours, Wed-Fri 12-7pm and Sat, 11-6p"

Friday, June 22, 2012

Lips + Tips: Fuchsia

On lips: MAC Lickable; on tips: Sinful Colors Feeling Great.
The matchy-matchy trend hit again this spring with Dior's Addict Extremes + Vernis sets, and MAC's Fashion Sets. I didn't indulge in either of those (there may be a "yet" attached to that, as the Dior Riviera set seems like a great thing to put on a birthday list, no?) but that doesn't mean I can't participate in the trend. I was feeling fuchsia, so I went with some old favorites: MAC Lickable (cremesheen) lipstick, and Sinful Colors Feeling Great. Both are happy fuchsias, though Lickable has a bit of a purple, pearlescent sheen that you can see in the photo above. In contrast, Feeling Great is a basic cream, opaque in two coats.

I had fun with this combo, and I think I'll try it again with some other colors. Except I don't have a red cream polish! And too many red lipsticks...

What do you think of the lips + tips trend? Do you have a favorite combination?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Thursday Post

Sara Bareilles: Gravity. I love the soaring notes of this song.


I nearly fell over. Apparently, 'tis true. Dude.

I'm on a mission to discover new music. This is a pretty good site for that!

Love banana pancakes.

If you've been looking for Burberry eye shadows, I'd stop here first. Danielle does masterful comparisons!

The perfect red?

I read this a while ago, but I keep meaning to share it. So, here. It was lovely; I love lyrical prose like this, and hauntingly romantic stories...have any recommendations for me?
Why yes, Dennison likes lettuce. Quite a lot, actually.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


The ban is officially over, but this was a hard post to write. I don't want to be constantly whinging on about weddings and monies and personal goals, so this will be the last of this type of post (hopefully!). I don't judge anyone, and I'm not advocating this type of outlook for other people. This is just what works for me.

This past month, I admit that I did take advantage of theBalm's 3 for $39.50 deal; each Shady Lady palette retails for $39.50 on its own, so it was an incredible deal - basically a "buy one, get two free". And shipping was free, as well! I kept two of the palettes and gave one away to a friend. However, this move was motivated by the fact that I am giving away all of my indie shadows (well, most; I am keeping some Fyrinnae and a handful of others). They're beautiful and I like the variety, but they are a pain to handle on a daily basis because they are loose and glittery, and honestly, I just never use them. My hope is that they can be used for frankens and beautiful nail art. I bought theBalm palettes to replace some of the color families that I gave away, and because they are housed in small, travel-friendly palettes, I know I will get more use out of them.
I gave one away, but the recipient graciously let me photograph it first to show all three and how they compare :) The dents are a result of the packaging; the top has a ridge so if it presses too hard into the bottom when the palette is closed, it can dent the shadow. 

I'm already seeing the difference; I gravitate toward these new palettes far more readily than I ever did to my stash of indie jars. I don't have to fuss with jars or dig them out of their little acrylic box; in this case, practicality > variety. I have 18 shades now instead of 50+, but I probably never used most of those shades frequently anyway, so...there you go. I'm aware that this doesn't count as a freebie, but for the long run, I feel good - I feel like I culled down my stash, and now have items that will see more use.

The six month ban is over. All done. Finished. I have two items I know I will buy - both lip products unique to my collection - as a treat to myself for various reasons. After that, though, I've decided that I'm going to extend this whole ban thing until the wedding: four more months. I know I will have problems when the fall collections come out, as they are usually my favorite, composed of all the vampy shades I delight in, but hopefully those will stick around long enough for me to purchase a few. I'm not making any fancy rules - I just have the goal in mind, and I think that will be enough: I want to save money so I can have a fun wedding and honeymoon.

Experiences can be worth so much more than material pleasures, and I feel several tubes of lipstick isn't worth missing a whale watching tour, or not being able to indulge in a fancy dinner with S. while we're celebrating our marriage. There are times when I may need or want to purchase something small, spontaneously: a new album, perhaps, or a pair of leg warmers - something fairly inexpensive like that - but otherwise, I'm just going to try not to spend any money on myself for a while, besides what is really necessary.

I think it will be okay. Going six months with an effort of not purchasing new makeup (however successful/unsuccessful it was) has changed my beauty outlook. I have my own personal list of skincare and cosmetic items that I'd like to try or own (e.g. red nail polish - can you believe I don't own a red cream?), but I can wait patiently for THE ONE - or a sale, ha! The hardest thing is LE collections, but you know, there are plenty of permanent items in the world to fill the gap, too. And I know that I like to wear makeup, not just own it, so that's the bottom line for me.

I do want to say thank you to everyone for their support, and for all of the lovely friends who have sent me gifts and keep me upbeat with their cheer and conversation. You are all awesome; thank you for reading and for your thoughtful comments, and for being awesome!

So, do you have any comments on the whole process? Any helpful tips for sticking out the next several months? Also, more: what is your favorite red lipstick? 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Updated the Blog Sale Again!

Xiao inspired me to do more cleaning, and be more ruthless this time. Stuff I like, but that doesn't get used...all of it has made its way to the sale. This includes a Dior quint and a MAC brush, so head on over if you're interested :)

Some Fabulous New Blushes from Senna Cosmetics

Senna Cosmetics Clarity and Très Jolie, won from MM's giveaway!
You guys. YOU GUYS. These blushes, they're awesome. It's kind of hard to explain; they don't look terribly unique in the pan, but they are just so easy to use - easy to apply, blend, and wear. Effortless.
For whatever reason, I couldn't add the accent to the "e" in GIMP...and it drove me to distraction. Anyhow. The left swatch is heavy, with a finger; the right swatch is blended out.

The pans are small (much smaller than a MAC blush) but I actually really like that; they're easy to store, and goodness knows I will never finish even these pans of blush. I'm still able to take a brush to the pan, so they are practical.

Clarity is a bright, clean, matte reddish-coral, and you'd think that'd be my favorite, but actually, Très Jolie has won my heart. It's a soft, muted rose, with the barest hint of a shimmer (I don't really see shimmer particles - it translates as "lit-from-within" glow, and not a surface level sheen); I have been wearing it every day. 

That "è!" *shakes fist*
I swatched a couple of my blushes to compare; MAC Early Morning is more brown than Clarity, and has that Mineralize sheen. MAC Subtle Breeze is darker, more raspberry than Très Jolie and also has that Mineralize edge. (Bonus: I swatched all four of my pink blushes on my face - this looks ridiculous, yes, but it is helpful - and feel vindicated; they all. look. different. #fistpump)

I won these in the generous giveaway hosted by Makeup Morsels; they retail for $18.50 (0.12 oz each) on the Senna Cosmetics website. I don't know anything about the other shades (and the "swatch" boxes aren't as helpful as I'd like) but I am definitely interested in picking up one or two more to try. For more swatches and another review, see Rae's post.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Success Story!

MAC Soirée, gifted to me by Liz!
Chanel Delight was high on my wishlist this summer, but between one thing and the next, I knew I just simply wasn't going to buy it. I ogled the swatches - that fine shimmer, and the copper flecks! - but shrugged it off until I saw MAC Soirée...and Liz was kind enough to send me hers, since she didn't love it. Well, I do! Bwahahaha.

I didn't intend to make this into one of those cruel "shinies you can't have" posts, but alas...this was a limited edition release from several years ago, I think. There may be other dupes in the world, but I have not seen them. I don't think this is an exact dupe for Delight, but it's close enough for me! It even has those flecks in it.
See? Flecks!
To make things even more awesome, dry time is incredibly short with this one, and it lasted quite some time. It was a pain to remove, but that's okay. After I took it off of my fingers, I put it on my toes, and there it remains, haha. Metallics are usually featured around the holidays, but I also think they're very summery, especially coppery shades like this.

Well. There we go. Nail pr0n, I suppose. Have you been able to dupe any high-end or hard-to-find product this summer? Share your success stories with me!

*edit: Liz just informed me that this is being re-released as a permanent shade this summer. Temptalia has details here.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Foodie Friday! #8: Yeast Breads

This post has been a long time coming - sorry about that! I wanted to put together something comprehensive, but that takes a far bit of time, know how that goes.
White American-style sandwich bread.

I'm definitely not an expert, but I've been making bread on my own for a while now, because once you start, supermarket bread really doesn't cut it any more, and local bakery bread is a pricey indulgence in this part of the world. Thus, we take matters into our own hands! Quite literally, too. I started making bread before I owned a stand mixer; I was armed with nothing more than a wooden spoon. So, you can do this without a bread maker or a stand mixer; it's not the easiest project, but it's very doable. Take heart! All you need is yeast and flour; I buy yeast in bulk at Costco and keep it in the freezer. I keep a little jar in the refrigerator and refill as necessary from my freezer stash.
Cinnamon rolls; this was edited with an Instagram filter.

For starters, there is that Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day recipe floating around; I own the book, and it's quite good. The basic boule recipe is pretty fool proof, and you can keep the dough in your fridge (in a large container) for up to two weeks. It's possible to just take some out before a meal, let it warm up, and then bake for fresh bread. The authors have a website with a useful FAQs page. This will give you a crusty loaf, which you can shape as a baguette or a boule or whatever you please.

I have other recipes, though I'd say that's the easiest to start, and it's a great accompaniment to meals. Then you can move on to sandwich bread, cinnamon rolls, yeast bread coffee cakes, dinner rolls, pretzels...the possibilities are endless! You can also make your own hamburger buns, and there is also the option to add whole wheat flour to your bread (I usually do a 50/50 white/whole wheat mixture).

As far as breadmaking goes, relax. Breads are usually less fickle than cakes, I find, so if you can bake a cake (or even if you have never tried), you can bake bread. It's kind of soothing to knead it by hand, but also fun to watch the stand mixer slap it around. In general, keep a few things in mind:
  • Bread is forgiving. You can do a lot of things wrong and it will still probably come out decently. Stop worrying!
  • The initial investment is rather small. Yes, a fancy bread maker will go a long way if you want to do this daily or very frequently, but otherwise you can get along fine without heavy duty tools.
  • Knead a lot (besides the 5 minute recipe), and always err on the side of less flour. Excessive flour will make your bread crumbly.
  • Allow bread to cool thoroughly before attempting to cut it, or it will fall apart.
  • You can use a thermometer to gauge when your bread is done (insert the needle into the loaf); I confess I've never done this and have pretty much gained an idea of my oven's tendencies through trial and error. 
  • Adapting recipes for whole wheat means you need more liquids and various other compensations need to be made. Bridget from The Way the Cookie Crumbles (a fabulous food blog) has outlined a nice method of converting breads to whole wheat here.
  • Be positive! You might as well try. Sometimes the dough doesn't inflate a whole lot during the first or second rise, but it may rise during the baking process.
  • If you have a drafty home, you can heat water in the microwave, remove the water, and leave your dough in the closed microwave to rise (this creates a moist, humid, warm environment).
  • Don't give up :) I've baked quite a few duds in the past and still do every once in a while; dry bread can be cut up and baked into croutons, blitzed into bread crumbs (I store these in the freezer - no more buying bread crumbs!), made into bread pudding or brown bettys...the possibilities are endless.
Hoddeok, a pan-fried Korean yeasted sweet bread filled with brown sugar.
Here are some great yeast bread recipes (I have tried all of these):
Okay! Hopefully that was helpful in some way. If you have questions, I will try to answer them, but like I said, I'm definitely no expert. I also have no experience with a bread machine, so I can't help with that. You might also want to look at Pinkfish Tart for more baking tales - Jian is a pro and often makes bread in the tangzhong method, which I'm dying to try. So! Go forth, make bread! And tweet me some photos ;)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Thursday Post

MGMT: Kids. Cuz sometimes you need to get your crazy beats on, ya hear?

Can someone who goes to UCSD (or lives in the area!) please, please go here?

Architecture pr0n?

I don't know how practical it is to have your bathroom open to your bedroom, but holy fox boxes it's gorgeous.

Hahaha. Oh, to have Einstein as a predecessor.

Love David Lebovitz, and this is a great read. Balanced, and practical.
Yes, those are my house slippers. I'm not sure why he decided to put his head there, exactly. Thank goodness he's not a chewer-of-things-that-are-not-his.

Monday, June 11, 2012

A Love Song for Marcelle BB Cream

Well, actually, no, there is no song. Also, there will be no shots of my bare face. Because there are already enough scary things on the Internet, and we don't need to be traumatized on a Monday morning, do we? However, I'm not feeling like the most loquacious person lately, so perhaps we'll try a more succinct review today.

This is Marcelle's BB Cream in Light/Medium; Tracy sent it to me, because she knew how much I wanted to try it. I've been using it every day since I got it, so that should say something, right? It's part of my daily summer face (post on the rest of it coming up soon!). I decided to be one of the lone non-Canadians to review it; Tracy said I should write with proper spelling, but those "u" fellows are crazy characters. Who can keep track of them?
Left to right: A dot of BB cream, the spread out a little, then completely blended out.
To see detailed descriptions of this BB cream's aspirations, see Tracy's post and Rae's post. When I received it, I played around with it a bit, trying to see what works best. I find that it sinks into my skin best right after I moisturize, but if I do let some time lapse between the two applications, I just spray a bit of MAC Fix+ on my face, and that works just as well. One pump is enough to cover my whole face (squeeze the tube as you pump to avoid squirting! This protip was brought to you by Dani, haha); it doesn't fully cover up sun spots or discoloration, but the overall skin tone is evened out and my skin looks better. It's fresher, not as sallow. Oh, and I noticed that this minimizes the appearance of pores, without looking filled in (no filled in craters here)!

The color match is great, and it's neither excessively dry nor dewy - one of those happy mediums. I add a bit of concealer to my panda eyes, and dust off my whole face with MAC MSFN Medium, buffing out areas of redness for a little extra coverage. I have also worn the BB cream alone with great results. I don't get oily throughout the day, but oil build-up is not usually a problem for me, so I can't really comment on the oil control aspect.
Here, I'm wearing Marcelle BB Cream, a bit of concealer under my eyes, and a light dusting of MAC MSFN Medium all over my face. You can see that it doesn't cover up all of my spots, but it's a nice, sheer, glow. (For the curious, the red is MAC Runaway Red).
They are coming out with an SPF version, though this one might be good for photo days as a primer. I am going to try it under Smashbox Studio Skin to see how well it serves that function - will be sure to update you. This is a current love for me, so if you can get your hands on it, I'd highly recommend it. It comes in three shades and can be purchased online for USA residents; shipping is free over $50, so you might wanna add a few other Marcelle goodies to your cart if you decide to pick this up.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Milani Brow Tint Pen in Dark Brown

This is a new product from Milani. It's paraben-free, cheer! It was also on sale when I was picking up some things at Walgreens (a loooong time ago, whoops!) when I was first looking for brow products. I thought it was interesting, although I was a bit torn on the idea of coloring in my brows with a marker. Because, let's face it - that's what I'm doing, right? And it's kind of hard. It's like, coloring in the lines, without much of a guide. The tip is pretty fine, though.

The color starts out a dark reddish brown, but shortly afterward, it fades into an almost greenish dark brown. This is fine with me, since the "fade" color is closer to my actual brows than the original. It does look a little unnatural when I first start shading in my brows, but a few minutes later, everything looks nice and dark. However, I'm not sure if I'd buy another one. Since then, I've started using powder to shade in my brows, and that looks much more natural. This is a good one to try if you've got a healthy brow shape and are just looking for a bit of spot filling.
This reddish brown color fades into a slightly greener shade after a few minutes.

If you have really sparse brows, I don't think this will work, because it will probably look really drawn in and fake. With my brows, I just kind of fill in the spots and the overall look is just darker and more polished. However, as I mentioned, this gave me the courage to try powder, and that is easier to work with and more natural.

I bought mine from Walgreens, for $4.49, which is still the current price. I think it retails for $5.99, so even at full price, it's not going to break the bank. I'm not sure how long the pen will last. It only comes in two shades right now, which is a little disappointing. I think it will probably dry out sooner than later, so even though I really like how easy this is to use, I don't think I'd repurchase. Also, something that kind of freaked me out: when I used this in combination with my MAC Brow Set, it made my brows reddish. Like, erm, black cherry-colored. Not a good thing.

Try it if: You only need a little bit of extra darkening for your brows, or are just getting into brows. It's pretty fool-proof.
Skip it if: You're a brow pro or want to do a little fancier shading, shaping, etc., with your brows. This is not the tool for that.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Thursday Post

Norah Jones: Light as a Feather. I'm not a Norah Jones fan, actually, though it seems like her smoky voice and music style should be right up my alley. *Shrug* I like this song, though.

I know I post a lot of frilly, fancy houses; this one is much different. It has a lively modern feel, and actually feels comfortable - like you could kick off your shoes and live in it, you know?

Cute, right?

Amusing. Reminds me of my high school days in journalism class, haha. I'm definitely the copy editor.

S. subscribes to The Daily Otter. This one is ADORABLE.

Three-ingredient patio cocktails. Sign me up!

As S. said in the email he sent to show me this, "You can Tony Stark your computer!" Hell to the yes, please.

Have a happy Thursday! :)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

What I've Learned From Fashion Blogs #6: There Are No Rules

Sure, there are plenty of guidelines, and plenty of things you really shouldn't do unless you want to be scorned forever more (e.g., wear shorts or mini-skirts with UGG boots. I don't get that at all. If it's hot enough for a mini, it's too hot for UGGs, no?). But everything else is up to personal preference, I'd say. For example, as a not-so-tall person (I'm 5'3", or 160 cm), I didn't think I'd be able to find a maxi dress that wouldn't puddle on the floor and overwhelm me. Also, I find that they're sometimes cut in unflattering ways.

Still, I wanted one, so I opted to order one from Target; it's a juniors dress in XS, so it actually doesn't sweep the floor! (Well. I have to wear wedges or higher sandals. But it's still something.)

Dress: Mossimo Supply Co. Juniors Halter Maxi (Target)
Clutch: Target
Shoes: Xhilaration wedges (Target), sz 5.5
Earrings: Kendra Scott (Nordstrom)
Sunglasses: Burberry

This is actually a combo "things I've learned from fashion blogs" post, because everything I'm wearing here (except for the earrings and sunglasses) is from Target. I never thought I could find comfortable, casual, trend items at budget prices, but it turns can. (Duh, perhaps?) I've had these sandals for a year (I saw them on Extra Petite's blog and bought them based on her recommendation) and they're still in great shape.
I never know how to pose or what to do! S. was not helpful. "Don't you look at other people doing this all day?"  All day? Excuse me?
I'm happy. There's something very comfortable and summery about maxi dresses. I also feel very girly in them, for some reason. A few weekends ago, I switched out these sandals for Reef slippers, put the chain on the clutch, and went to the zoo like this!

What do you think? Fail? Do you like maxi dresses? Have you found any fabulous bargain items lately?

Monday, June 4, 2012

May Favorites

This month's favorites is filled with gifts from friends. TheBalm's Nude'Tude palette was a gift from the lovely Danielle of Bloomin' Beauty, and Chanel June and the Marcelle BB Cream were from the fabulous Tracy of Beauty Reflections. Thank you, ladies, you are wonderful!

So let's do this! I've already talked a lot about the coral craze I went through this month (and am still going through!), but the bigger discovery this month was: pink blush. No kidding. I was never much a fan of it, but you know what? It's really flattering! Duh, Larie. Also, I know that May is technically still a springtime month, but I was ready for summer, so I dressed that way. SUMMMMMMEEEEEERRR. That is all.
theBalm Nude'Tude palette
This is a fabulous, fabulous palette. I know we're all about nude, naked, neutral palettes these days, but most of those have too many browns for me. Browns really aren't that flattering against my skin tone, and I prefer a mix of colors and finishes in my "neutral" palettes. This has a few mattes (I wish they had included a soft matte beige though!) and the texture of the shadows is marvelous - soft, buttery, lovely. This has been my go-to palette this month, and, bonus: Sleek is a great brow shade for me. Thanks again, Danielle!

Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Gloss in Coral Reef
I picked this up based on a few recommendations, because I wanted a coral lip gloss (yes, there's the ban, I know, but I already addressed that). This one is juicy and I love that it's glitter and shimmer free. I reviewed this here.

MAC Fix+ mini
I bought a mini bottle of this a while ago, just to try. I confess I didn't really know what to do with it at first, but I've finally found a few uses for it. It works well as a foiling medium for eye shadows, but I've also been using it with the Marcelle BB Cream this summer. I find the BB cream sinks into my skin better if I apply it immediately after I moisturize, or if I spray a bit of MAC Fix+ onto my face first. It also works to freshen up my skin after applying powder, to escape that overly powdery finish. It's not ground-breaking and I know a lot of people already love this stuff, but it's new to me and nice to have.

MAC Mineralize blush in Subtle Breeze
Like I said, I've just discovered the beauty of pink blush. I've always owned a few to use with different eye looks, etc., but I've never fallen in love until now. It's just such a breath of fresh air! It gives me a bit of color without looking overdone. I reviewed this here.

MAC MSFN in Medium
Already beat it into the ground. I lightly brush this all over my face after applying Marcelle's BB Cream for a little more coverage and a nicer finish. Find my original review here.

Marcelle BB Cream in Light/Medium
I was really excited to try this, and am so happy that Tracy sent it to me! I've been shying away from heavier foundations lately, because I felt like they just weren't working. Instead, I apply moisturizer and sunscreen, and then Marcelle BB Cream, finishing off with a light dusting of MAC MSFN. This combination is not heavy coverage by any means, but I think the BB Cream makes my skin look better - it looks more radiant and healthy, overall, so the imperfections aren't as noticeable. #fistpump

Scent by the Sea Egyptian Honey
This is a sample size that I've been working on forever, haha. Perfume oils are concentrated, okay? It doesn't take much. This has been my favorite scent lately, sweet but not syrupy. I'm working my way through the vial, almost done! Find more about Egyptian Honey here and here.

Nail polishes: Dior St. Tropez and Chanel June
I bought the Dior, and Tracy sent me her June - happy happy! I wore June on my fingers and St. Tropez on my toes for much of May. They're just such happy, cheerful, summery colors! St. Tropez also looks fabulous on finger tips. I haven't reviewed either of these, but you can find St. Tropez on my nails here.

What were your favorites in May? Have you already moved completely into summer items?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Empties + Rejects, V5

Welcome to another episode of Empties + Rejects. I find that this is actually a really great way to put out mini reviews of products that were just okay, or teaser reviews of products that I loved. Or mini rants. What do you think? Yay or nay on the empties posts?

I also changed out a Clarisonic brush head, but I have nothing to say about that.

Josie Maran Argan Oil, travel size
I like this! It showed up in my favorites twice. I used it as a night treatment, and it felt lovely. I'm trying some other things right now, but I will go back to this as an extra moisturizer or night treatment if nothing works out. Too bad the full size is so pricey!

Fresh Brown Sugar Body Cream, trial size
This one came in the Sugar Lust set I bought last year, and I only opened it when I ran out of my Aveeno last time. The lemon scent is really strong (S. said I smelled like bathroom cleaner - oh yay!) and I don't find the lotion particularly moisturizing. You also need a lot of it in order to feel properly, uh, lotion-ed up, and it's quite pricey (the full size retails for $35 for 6.8 oz, which is only twice as large as this one. Yeah, no). Would not purchase a full size. This was the part of the set that I was the least interested in, though, and I like both the lip scrub and the lip treatment, so all in all the set was still worth it.

Clinique Super City Block SPF 40
I used to use the SPF 25 version, but switched to this a couple of tubes ago and haven't looked back. I've gone through many tubes of this stuff; it is a good basic sunscreen. It's primarily zinc oxide but it does also contain chemical sunscreens. I also find that it acts as a primer; my foundations go on much more smoothly when I use this than when I don't (like at night, for example), so this probably means that I need to find an SPF-free primer for photo-heavy days.

Clinique Moisturizing Gel
The standard for me. Lately I've felt like it might not be moisturizing enough, but did you know that the Moisturizing Lotion has parabens in it? So...that's not an option. I bought another one of these (I've repurchased it many, many times) because it does work, and I figured that in the summer I won't want anything too heavy, anyway.

B&BW Moonlight Path Shower Gel
I like this scent well enough; it was the first "floral" that I ever really could tolerate. As I've said before, though, I'm trying to move away from SLS soaps, so after a few more bottles of this stuff (I have a couple left that I need to use up), I will probably start shopping indie whipped soaps and such. I'm quite excited!

Boscia Pore Purifying Black Strips, sample
I received a sample in a Sephora goody bag when I bought a new Clinique moisturizer; the packet had two strips. I used one, and made S. use one. Everyone should have clean pores! Ha. It works, but they're quite pricey, so I'd stick to drugstore versions.

Kate Somerville Oil-Free Moisturizer, sample packet
As I mentioned above, my skin has been drier than normal recently, so I decided to give other moisturizers a try. I had a sample of this lying around so I used it for a few days, day and night. It absorbs really quickly and doesn't leave any sort of residue, but I can't say that my skin felt very hydrated afterward either. The full size is $65.00 for 1.7 oz, so I don't think I'll jump.
A sheet mask is also emptied, but I can't read the brand or anything, so uh, ta-da!
Makeup Forever Smoky Lash sample
Received a sample in one of my Sephora VIB goodie bags, and gave it a go. Only wore it once, because it FLAKES LIKE CRAZY. What the heck? It didn't seem to do much for my lashes, either, so it's definitely not worth it for me.

That's it for this edition of  Empties + Rejects. No expired products this time! Have you tried any of these? Also, I think I may want to try one of those fiber mascaras. Do you have a favorite?