Tuesday, March 31, 2015

How to Pack a Suitcase + Dot&Dot Travel Folder Review

*I received this product for free for testing purposes. All opinions are 100% my own*

Hello and welcome to the second part of my packing series! This time I will be showing you how to pack up a suitcase as well as go over some items I think make packing a breeze (or at least less stressful). Obviously every body's travel style is different so what works well for me may not work for you at all. But hopefully you will find at least one or two tips and tricks that will help you next time you take a trip.

First I'd like to talk about suitcases. There are lots and lots of different types out there, but I am partial to older, vintage ones for several reasons. First, I think they look nicer than the box on wheels variety you see nowadays. I'm a visual person, so looks matter to me. The second reason (and most important) is that vintage luggage tends to have more built in features that will make packing much easier. Case in point, my suitcase has two built in pockets AND a divider screen on each side of it so nothing will dump out when I open it. This also allows me to keep things separated and organized. Check thrift shops for a nice vintage set of luggage, I actually got mine for free from a neighbor who was moving away.

When packing clothes I always like to bring at least one extra outfit and two extra days worth of undergarments. There is nothing worst than getting stuck somewhere and not having clean underwear. Think of these as your emergency supplies, you wouldn't drive your car without a spare tire so why travel without extra clothes? For the extra clothes I tend to pick neutral items that I can either dress up or down depending on what accessories I use. So a nice but basic shirt and either some black pants or a skirt depending on where I am travelling to. Throw on a hoodie to dress it down, or a scarf to dress it up a bit.  I also always bring flip flops I can use in the shower, ain't nobody got time for foot fungus.

I really like pockets and bags to keep all of my clothes organized and sorted out. Remember the laundry bag set I reviewed back in February? Something like that is perfect to store undergarments in (I always keep my underwear and bras in a see through bag to discourage TSA from getting handsy with my stuff, I learned that lesson the icky way). And then I can stick my dirty laundry into the bag (after you take out the clean stuff) so when I get home I can just toss the whole bag into the washer. Since that was a set of four I actually bring a second bag along for my son's dirty clothes. My husband is an adult and can keep track of his own stuff, he knows where the bags are. I also have a travel makeup bag with a hook to hang it up that I always bring on trips. The whole thing is waterproof so I can take it into the shower with me and hang it from the faucet for easy access to my shampoo and soaps. I got mine in the clearance section many years ago but they are pretty easy to find.

Socks can be easily stored inside of shoes to not only save space but to prevent them from getting lost in the rest of your clothes. When you have to keep track of toddler size socks this becomes an important tip. Speaking of shoes, want to know how to pack them without getting dirty sole prints all over your clothes? Put them in a shower cap (the kind people use when they don't want their hair to get wet in the shower). This will prevent any dirt from the soles to come off on your clothes and helps keep them together in your bag. You can also get shoe socks (or make a pair yourself) to slip your shoes into. I have a set I use that are of course vintage (from my Grandmother), but these would be really easy to make (if you really want instructions, let me know down below in the comments).

Did you know that folding your clothes isn't always the best option? Rolling them up can actually save more space AND prevent wrinkles. I roll all pants I bring, and well as any shirts or sweaters that are bulky. If you are travelling with a backpack instead of a suitcase rolling works 100% better than folding I've discovered. We camp a lot so I'm a pro at packing a hiking bag by now it seems. And hands down rolling is the best option for a backpack.

Now what if you have somewhere nice to go, like a wedding in May, and you need to bring nicer clothes? That's where these wonderful packing folders by Dot&Dot come in handy. This 15" by 10" folder will hold up to seven items and will help prevent the formation of wrinkles. It will also help prevent damage to the clothes you put inside of it. The tough material will stand up to even the sharpest of stilettos and save that silk blouse from a snag you will never be able to fix. I feel like the 15" by 10" is a pretty large folder, though I seem to think that is the smallest size they offer. The medium is a few inches bigger. I'm a smaller person so I don't really need the large folder, so this size is probably perfect for me. Being able to put seven items in it really helps to organize your clothes too, and no matter what they will not tangle together no matter how hard the TSA tosses my bag around.

I really like that it comes with a folding board, which makes getting things the correct size really easy. Each folder has four wings that come together to close it up, this allows you to compress down your clothes to save more space. This particular size seems to fit into most luggage, even my smallest suitcase (also vintage). I like the handle on it, makes it easier to carry around and pack up. The whole thing has a clear heavy duty plastic zip bag to store it it as well, which I though was a nice touch. Once there are clothes in the folder it won't fit into the clear case, but it is nice for storage or even to put documents in if you need to bring papers. I will be using it that way on our upcoming trip, I always have stuff to work on.

I really love this travel folder and I will probably pick up the larger size before our trip for my husband to use with his stuff. I think if you had enough of them you could put your daily outfit in each one. That is a level of organization I dream about, I love a well kept suitcase. The price is really great too, the one I have is only $17.97 with free Prime shipping. I don't think that is to much at all. Though to be truthful I kind of want to buy everything Dot&Dot sells, they have a really amazing selection of travel accessories.

I hope this answered any questions you may have had about packing a suitcase and that I introduced you to a great new product. If you have a question I didn't answer please ask in the comments and hopefully I will be able to help you out. Thank you for reading and I'll see you guys tomorrow!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Delicate French Manicure

While I typically like bold and bright manicures, sometimes it is nice to have something soft and subtle. Especially when it is so easy you'll be done before you know it. And the best part is with a simple sway of your colors you can be bold and bright or soft and subtle or even matching a particular event or sports team. The options are endless!

To do this manicure you will need:

  • A base color. I wanted something sure subtle so I am using OPI in the shade Significant Other Color. If you want something that will make a statement choose black instead.
  • An accent color. I'm using an ELF polish in the shade Blush. For a bold look choose a neon bright color, I've done hot pink before with great results.
  • A clear top coat. I'll be using my trusty Ulta brand polish.
  • Nail polish remover and q-tips to remove any polish from your skin.

First step is to lay down your base color. I did four layers to get the right level of color, but as you can see it is still pretty sheer. Let this dry completely before moving onto the next step.

Since my base color is sheer I can see the natural white part of my nail, but if you can't try to estimate where it is and how wide it is. Take your accent color and paint on where the white part of your nail is. I find it easiest to dab and brush up towards the pi of my nail, rather than paint it in one large strip. You can lay down some tape if you are worried about keeping a clean edge, but I find this only looks nice on longer square tip nails. Let this dry completely before going onto the next step.

Now top with your protective clear coat and clean up any polish that way have gotten onto your skin. This is super easy and is so customizable you are sure to find a color combo perfect for you.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Project Pan 2015 Update

Greetings and salutations! I thought I'd take a moment to update you guys on my Project Pan and expand on it a little bit, maybe talk about how I use items up. Basically I'm going to talk about my makeup habits for a bit because why not? First a quick refresher if you don't want to read the whole post. I picked 11 items at the start of the year that I wanted to finish up by the first day of Summer. I named this my Project Pan Spring 2015 and declared if I finished everything I'd treat myself to the original Revealed palette.

This is what I originally started with

This is what I currently have left of my Project pan. I've actually made really good progress I think, I've finished 4 items so far and am pretty close to finishing 2 more. I won't talk about the items I've already finished, I did that in various empties posts, so I'll just talk about what's left, how I've been using it, and how I plan to finish it up.

I admittedly haven't been using this eyeshadow as much as I planned to, which is why there isn't a ton more pan showing. I've made decent progress, don't get me wrong, but I thought for sure I'd finish this color up pretty quickly. I like to use this shadow when I'm doing a really dramatic winged eyeliner or a soft neutral eye, but I imagine I could probably use it to highlight as well. I'll try and use it more in April, at least twice a week until May is my commitment to finishing it up.

This is the item that surprised me the most with my progress. I hadn't used very much at all when I decided to pan it, so I figured I'd never finish it by Summer. As you can see I'm slightly over halfway done with it now, which is fast progress for a lip balm. I try and use it every morning and night, so that's been helping quite a bit. I may use it on my cuticles a bit, they need some TLC and that'll help use this up faster. I'm not pretty sure I'll be done with this by Summer.

This is the item I thought I'd have done and now think I won't finish. I had so much pan showing on this blush a few weeks ago that I repressed it. And now I realize I really didn't have as much done as I had thought. The powder goes halfway up the pan, so it will be a while before I hit pan again let alone finish it. I'll keep using it and hopefully I'll make more progress than I think on it. I currently use it almost everyday, so there is still hope of finishing it. Maybe.

Why do pencil liners take so long to use up? I swear this pencil will take me 50 years to use up. I can use it all week and only have to sharpen it once. This is now just shorter than my pinkie, so I've used maybe an inch total. That is some slooooow progress for how much I use it. I may try it as an eyebrow pencil just to get some double duty out of it and wear it down quicker. 

I was so proud of my progress on this lipstick until I compared it to my starting picture. I have used up some, and it was good progress, just not nearly as good as I thought it was. I'm pretty sick of this lipstick so I've only used it once all month, but I'll pick it back up in April. I want to try it as a dewy blush one day just to see how it would look, I've used other lipsticks as blush before. If it looks ok I'll have it pull double duty twice a week for all of April and that should get it down quite a bit. I can't wait till this is done and I can toss it, soooooo sick of this color.

This eyeshadow just keeps trucking along, I'm impressed. I use it in my crease almost everyday it seems and yet there it is, still not finished. I even use it on my whole lid once a week. Impressive. I really want this to be done by the end of April so I'm going to try contouring my nose with it. The shade is a bit darker than I normally use but I think if I blend it well it won't look terrible. Famous last words right? Stay tuned for a hilarious Instagram picture when I actually attempt it.

Another item I've had really good progress on, the paper shows how much I have left (about an inch). I've used up half of what was left when I started this Project Pan, so really good progress. I'm trying to finish this one by the end of April as well, but it will probably take till mid-May in reality. The color is a copper shade, so not something that goes with every look out there. Wish I could think of a way to use it more.

So that's my progress so far, not to shabby huh? I need a new prize though, I already bought the Revealed palette. I'm thinking that Jouer set I really want, or the Smashbox Full Exposure palette. I'm open to suggestions, what should be my carrot? If you are currently doing a Project Pan how is your progress going?

Friday, March 27, 2015

Arvazallia Professional Hair Care Series

*I received these free for testing purposes, all opinions are my own*

A sign of a good hair care system is when the first time you use it you get a ton of compliments on your hair. That's what happened to me the first time I used Arvallia's Shampoo and hair mask. I'm a sucker for products that make me look fabulous AND repair my hair, and this system does both. There's a shampoo, a conditioner, and a hair mask for an extra boost of moisture once a week.

The shampoo and conditioner are meant to be used daily and contain argan and macadamia oil to restore and hydrate your hair. They smell almost reminds me of Head and Shoulders, a brand that has continually let me down, so I was pretty nervous the first time I used it. But the shampoo cleaned my hair completely without striping it of all moisture and the extra thick conditioner is almost like a mini mask and leaves me with soft and silky hair. These also seemed to bring out the red in my hair, when I still had some red dye in my hair, but now that my dye job is completely faded they don't do that. There is nothing on the bottles about being color safe or extending the life of dyed hair, but I think it helped a bit.

For an extra boost of hydration there is a argan oil mask to be used once a week on your hair. Like most masks it should be applied to towel dried hair then left in place for 5-7 minutes. I like to use it at the beginning of the week or on a special day like dinner with friends. The mask it self smells nice, kind of fresh and clean, which is a nice perk. And I've noticed less frizz on humid days than I normally have as well.

While this is a more expensive shampoo and conditioner than I normally buy at $17.99 each (with free Prime shipping), I feel like these are boot camp for your hair. Not something I would do all the time but would buy in a heart beat if my hair needed a boost. The mask is $16.99 (with free Prime shipping), which is a little more than some of the other hair masks that I like but not high priced enough that I cringe when I see it. Since this is a once a week treatment it will last for quite a while. Overall I really like this and if you need some boot camp for your hair I highly recommend these.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Thursday Thoughts

This is the last Thursday of March, is that baffling anybody else? I feel like this month went by super quick, but that may be because of how busy I've been lately. Anyways, as per my usual I am linking up with Jen of Ramblings of a Suburban Mom for her weekly Thursday Thoughts link up.

First, I'd like to apologize for the unexpected break, I was kicked in the jaw during sparring class at my work and probably had a mild concussion in addition to the bruised and swollen face. I really just needed a few days to recover and not worry about anything else. I will probably be doing double posts today and tomorrow to get caught back up on my back log. I really need to get that buffer built up.

I finally ordered the original Revealed palette, so I've been playing with that all week. I'll be doing a full review next week, but right now I like it. Not as much as I like the Revealed 2, but I like it. I may eventually pick up the Revealed 3, but as of right now I like the colors less and less every time I see it. If you own it and did a review of it I'd love to read it so link it down below in the comments.

So I'm slowly learning everything I need to know to make videos for YouTube, and I should be filming my first video here in the next week. When it will actually go up is another story, but still that's progress. Video editing is way more involved than any of the photo editing I do for my blog, so I have huge respect for people who put out several videos a week. That is some serious dedication. What kind of videos would you like to see? I kind of want to do hair and makeup tutorials as well as first impression videos. Any thoughts?

My Birthday is coming up! I might be freaking out about that a little bit, I'll be 29 which feels so so old sometimes. But I'm excited to get some free goodies for my Birthday. I will update my Birthday Freebie post with any changes, like the Ulta and Sephora gift. I think I signed up to get a gift from a few new companies, so that should be fun. Free stuff is my favorite stuff. And I've got a giant haul from Birchbox planned as my birthday present to myself as well.

What books are you guys reading right now? I have a VERY long car ride coming up in another month or two so I'm trying to find a book or two to read. I'm pretty open to whatever, I just need something to keep me occupied for 16 hours.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Running Armbands Make Running Fun!

*I received this product free for testing purposes, all opinions are my own*

One of my New Year resolutions was not to lose weight but to get back in shape like I was before cancer and baby. So far I've been doing pretty well actually, but the thing is certain activities are boring. Running especially can be boring, which means you are less likely to stick with it. One of the things that helps is music, but sticking something in your pocket is the quickest way to break it. So when I was given the chance to test out a running arm band designed to hold my phone I ran right over (hahaha I made a pun! Sorry.)

The Running Armband I received is from iGear, and is designed to hold a Samsung Galaxy S2 through the S5, which is what I have. You have the choice of pink or black, and as you can see I received the pink one. While I'm not a fan of the gendered colors, I will admit the hot pink is easier to find in the gaping pit known as my bag. There is also a rectangle of reflective material around the front, which is a safety feature I appreciate. I was most surprised about was that I can actually use my touch screen through the clear protective cover. I thought for sure it would never work, but I was able to not only change songs but answer a few messages as I worked out. I could not use the fingerprint scanner to unlock my phone, but that was the only thing I could not do when my phone was in the case.

The actual band is made out of neoprene, which is what wet suits are made out of. It stretches a bit and I though conformed well to my arm. The sizing is pretty universal, it fit my son in a sweatshirt at it's smallest and one of my adult male students at it's largest. It would not fit my husband, but he has arms the size of my thighs. There is also a secret pocket to hold a key, which is such a nice detail. I've been stabbed many times by my house key hiding in a sock or bra. I had no problem with this slipping around over a sleeved arm, I have not used it on a bare arm yet (still freezing here), but I imagine it would stay even better on skin.

For $7.99 (with free Prime shipping), this is a great value. It worked well, fit well, and did exactly what I needed it to. Is it the fanciest looking armband on the market? No, but who really cares. I would rather have a plain looking item that worked well than a fancy looking object that didn't work at all. I really like this and highly recommend it to anybody who is in the market for one. And the price makes it affordable for all budgets, so run (Ha!) out and get one.

March 2015 Birchbox

One of my favorite parts of each month is when my monthly Birchbox arrives. I always peek and see what I'm getting, but it still feels like a surprise every time. For those who don't know, Birchbox is a monthly beauty subscription box. For $10 a month you get 4-5 deluxe (and sometimes full sized) makeup, hair care, and skin care items delivered right to your door. And if you love an item you can buy it directly from Birchbox, so no scrambling around trying to find it afterwards. You also get points for reviewing items or buying items, and these points become basically gift cards to purchase items from the shop.

This month's theme is Creativity, which I think is a pretty good theme for a beauty box. I always feel super creative when I've got brand new makeup to play with. The box this month is super pretty, it might be my favorite box pattern so far. I'll have to find something extra special to use it for, maybe bead storage or something like that. Birchbox hasn't said why yet but you are recommended to save all of the 2015 patterned boxes. If you save your boxes what do you use them for?

The first look was really great this time, I love seeing a really full box. I received five items this month, two makeup, two skin care, and a hair care item. That's about the best breakdown of a box for me, so I'm pretty pleased with that. No full sized items, which is always a bummer, but I think my samples are all pretty decently sized so I won't complain too much. The only repeat brand to me was a Whish item, so very happy to see lots of new items this time. And nothing had coconut in it, so I can actually use everything!

First item up is my favorite out of my box, the Miranesse Glossy Kiss lip crayon in Perfect Kiss. First, this is a great little size to throw in my bag or my pocket, which is always a nice side perk of having a deluxe sample size. And it does twist up, I hate lip crayons you need to sharpen.

I've never used anything by Mirenesse before and quickly discovered that they are NOT sold here in the states, so it looks like I'll be buying their stuff from Birchbox only. A bit annoying, but I can deal with it.

Look at that swatch, can you see why this is my favorite item? That color is stunning! There's a golden shimmer to it as well, which gives it an extra dimension. The formula is really smooth and applied well without drying my lips out, and the pigmentation is spot on. I've work it twice already since my box arrived on Friday, it just looks amazing on me. And it leaves behind a bit of a stain on the lips, kind of a "just bitten" look. Perfection. A full sized one is a bit more expensive than I'd like at $22 (3 grams), but I will buy one for sure once my little stick is finished. Speaking of my sample, which is half the size of a regular one (1.5 grams), is worth $11. That's the cost of the box right there, so everything else is just icing on the cake.

Oscar Blandi is a brand I hear about all the time but have never actually owned. They tend to be a bit outside of what I'm comfortable spending on hair care products, so I really can't tell you if the brand is good or not. I actually haven't used this yet, it's a Dry Styling Heat Protect Spray, which is awesome but I already have several bottles of stuff that does this. I may save it for when I finish up the spray I'm working on, I haven't decided yet. A full sized can is $24 (4 oz), making my 1.3 oz sample worth $7.80. This is shaping up to be a high value box I think.

I've tried (and liked) the Whish shaving cream, so I knew I'd probably like anything by them. This is a hair inhibiting gel, which, as a person who likes to be smooth but rarely has the time to shave as often as that would entail, is pretty awesome. I've only shaved once since my box arrived (don't judge, it is freezing here still) so I don't know if it is actually working. I like the pomegranate scent and it didn't burn my flesh off so that's a good start. I'll give you an update once I've used it all up. A full sized container is $26 (220 mL), making my sample worth $2.60 (22 mL).

Origins is another brand I've heard lots about but am to cheap to buy anything from. This is their Smarty Plants CC Cream, which is a complexion corrector foundation basically. This is my first CC Cream actually, my skin tone is pretty even so I've never needed one.

First, let me just say that whatever glue they used to attach it to the card will NOT come off. I've been trying to peel it off for days now, I think it has bonded to the tube.

I received the shade light/medium, which looks fine on my hand but when I applied it to my face things went quickly down hill. First, this smells like Fruit Loops. Strongly. Secondly, it applied almost clear on my face once I blended it out. So thinking it was just a sheer coverage I added a second layer to a few areas. Cue 10-15 minutes later and I now have orangish splotches on my face. It apparently takes a while for the "color correcting" to kick in. Not very happy with this at all. It also has tiny little bits of something in it, I will be investigating that more. And because I'm stubborn (aka stupid) I'll try applying it one more time to see if I become a splotchy oompa-loompa again. A full sized is a ridiculous $35 (1.4 fluid oz), making my smelly little tube worth $4.25 (0.17 fluid oz).

Lastly is an item I've heard a lot about, so I'm pretty excited to actually be able to test it and see if it lives up to the hype. This  is Embryolisse's Lait-Creme Concentre 24 hour Miracle Cream. Supposedly it is the stuff makeup artists dream about. Works as a primer, face lotion, makeup remover, and will even sing you to sleep. Ok, I made that last bit up. Probably. Once I finish my current face lotion I'll give this try and see if it is really that amazing. Though at a price tag of $28 for a 75 mL tube it had better be, My itsy bitsy tube is 5 mL, making it worth $1.87.

All total my box came to $27.52. I actually had to double check that, it seemed way to low but that's correct. So not the high value box as I predicted. I liked everything but the CC Cream, so I'm happy with the box. I'll be buying one items out of it for sure, the other's are either outside of my budget range or not something I'd really use on a day to day basis. Not my favorite box for sure, but I'd still call it a good box. What did you think of the box?

Friday, March 20, 2015

Packing Tips for Toilitires and Dot&Dot Silicone Travel Bottles Review

I received this product free for testing purposes, all opinions are my own

I think most people can agree that traveling can be amazing, but the packing and prep work beforehand can seriously blow. I'm going on a trip in May (and possibly April), so I though I would do a series of posts dedicated to breaking down the packing process and hopefully give you guys some good tips. I'll also talk about items that help keep you more organized for your trip as well. In today's post I'm going to go over toiletries, what you should bring and how best to bring them. Obviously every trip has different requirements and every person has different needs, so think of this as a guide of sorts.

When deciding what to bring you need to know how many days you will be gone and where you are going. The longer you are gone the more you will bring obviously, I wouldn't bring one travel sized bottle of shampoo on a week long trip to the beach. My trip is spring time in dry land wheat country for a wedding, but it looks like we'll be camping it. This trip should be fairly short, leave Friday morning and get back Sunday at some point. I will basically need supplies for two days, so I won't be packing large volumes of items. Certain things, like dental hygiene items and razors, so if you want to know more about those let me know down below in the comments.

If you are only traveling for a day or two, foil packets of shampoo and conditioner are my preferred choice. Most of the time you can get them for free from different company's websites or as a sample from places like Costco or Wal-Mart. Foil packets take up very little space and I can typically get two uses out of them if I need too. And instead of lugging bottle back I can just throw the packet away when done. I more than likely will not have a shower available to use so I'll be bringing a small can of dry shampoo to use instead. Pssst! brand dry shampoo makes a travel sized can that is just a few dollars and will last you about a week with constant use. I currently have a mini bottle of Klorane dry shampoo from Birchbox (a great source of mini sized items to take traveling) so I'll be bringing that. And since I have seriously long hair I'll be bringing my small bottle of Beauty Protector spray from this post as well as my detangling brush. The Beauty Protector will also help protect my hair from the heat and keep it soft and smelling good.

Since I won't have access to a shower, I won't be bringing any body wash. Instead I'll bring a pack of makeup removing wipes for my face and some baby wipes for my body. Wipes are great because they pack well, won't explode soap everywhere, and clean you up faster than a shower. Because I'm not showering having deodorant is an absolute must, though I always bring it with me no matter what. Because sometimes things go horribly wrong, I always use some masking tape to secure my deodorant cap down and prevent it from popping off and making a huge mess of my bag. Only had to do that once, let me tell you.

Out of all the things I can bring from my skin care hoard, sunscreen will be the most important for where I'm going and should be high on your list no matter what. Skin cancer does not take a vacation, so always use protection. Thanks to subscription boxes I have several deluxe sized samples to choose from, so no giant sized bottle this trip. I'll be bringing along my Supergoop City Serum Sunscreen (anti-aging and sunscreen rolled into one, love multitaskers) and my Supergoop Eye Cream with added SPF just to make sure I'm super protected. I will probably bring along a wide brimmed hat as well for extra sun protection on my face.

Because of the risk of explosions, I always store my toiletries in a plastic ziploc bag. That way, even if it explodes you won't be completely screwed. This is especially important while flying, the pressure changes on a plane will make the liquids in your bottle contract and expand. And sometimes expand all over your clothes. Keeping things in bags also keeps your luggage more organized and easier for the TSA to snoop through. Remember, the TSA can and will poke through any bags you bring when you fly, so don't bring anything you wouldn't want someone to see. We'll also talk about TSA approved sized here in a bit.

Buying smaller bottle of items can be expensive, and if you already have shampoo at home buying a new bottle just for a trip can be annoying, which is why I love these silicone travel sized bottles from Dot&Dot, a travel accessory company that I'm quickly falling in love with. Each one holds 1.25 ounces of product, making them TSA compliant to have in a carry on. The silicone material makes it easy to squeeze your product out, no more shaking a bottle repeatedly until a tiny blob flies out and lands anywhere but where you wanted it too. Each bottle is a different color for easy visual identification, but the coolest feature is the built in labeling ring. You can twist the band so the bottle is labelled shampoo, or conditioner, ect. There is even a place to write in your own label. Since there are four bottle I'm guessing most people will use them for shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and lotion.

They come in their own plastic bag with a zipper, so you are protected against any accidents that may occur. Since they are smaller bottles they also take up less room in your bag, which is a huge plus for me. I like to keep my bags as small as possible, I'm a carry on sort of person. Checked bags can get lost, which is way more stress than I want to deal with on a trip. One of the other features I really like is each bottle has a suction cup on the back, so you can stick it to the shower wall while you're showering. Obviously they won't stay there forever, but I stuck them onto my bedroom mirror before I left for work one day and they were still there almost 7 hours later. The only thing to keep in mind with these bottles is the silicone can react to certain things, like oils. This can cause discoloration or leaking, but a list of items you shouldn't use comes with your kit. Nothing I plan on using reacts with the bottles so it isn't a big deal for me, but you should be aware of this.

This covers toiletries, minus makeup, which I'll be doing in a separate post. Come back tomorrow where I'll be talking about clothes to pack and how best to pack them up. And come back on Sunday for my traveling with makeup post plus an awesome downloadable packing list to help you stay organized and stress free.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Thursday Thoughts

Ah Thursday, we meet again. As per my usual I'm linking up with Jen of Ramblings of a Suburban Mom for her Thursday Thoughts Link Up.

Have you entered my latest Giveaway yet? There is still a week left so if you haven't yet you should get on that. Who doesn't love free stuff?

My Yves Saint Laurent Influenster box arrived! I'll be posting my full review on Saturday, but I will say this has been a pretty exciting box to receive. Might be the most expensive mascara I have ever used or will ever use in my life.

My son just started sparring at the Taekwondo school I teach, how adorable is he in all of his gear? I'm always so proud of how hard he works, and I love that he loves this sport as much as I do. And before anyone worries, nobody is actually hitting or kicking him during the matches I promise. The gear is for added safety, but because of his age there is no contact allowed. And he only spars people skilled enough that I have zero concern of there being an accident. Me on the other hand, I'm getting hit full force during my matches. I've got some nice bruises from the last sparring class, the gear only covers so much. I have a full contact job, not many people can say that.

My Birchbox should be coming in the next few days, so expect that review next week. I kind of feel like this box is taking forever to get to me, normally I receive mine just a few days after the 10th. My preview is pretty good so I'll excuse the tardiness this time. Anybody else's box taking forever to get to them?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

ELF Blush Palettes

I am a huge fan of palettes, not only to they offer more product for your buck but they also offer you a wider range of choices in your day to day makeup. Typically you see eyeshadow palettes, though contouring palettes have been the big thing lately. Blush palettes do exist, but they are often very costly. But ELF cosmetics released their last batch of new products they also released two different blush palettes that were only $6 each. I've been a pretty big fan of ELF blushes, so I knew I'd have to get these as soon as they were available at my local Target.

The two palettes each contain 4 different blushes, which to my understanding are not blushes you can buy individually. I like that they aren't repeats, I already own a few ELF blushes and I'd hate to buy a whole palette for only one new blush. One palette is the Light palette, while the other is labelled as being Dark. Both palettes look exactly the same on the outside, the only way to tell them apart without opening them up is the little sticker on the bottom. The palette themselves are made from a sturdy plastic and feel nice in your hand, and each has a nice sized mirror. They aren't clunky or huge so I feel like they'd be nice to travel with, especially with the variety of colors offered in each palette.

Dark Palette
The Dark palette obviously has the darker colors out of the two. The bottom left has glitter in it, but so far that intense glitter in the pan has not transferred over to my face. These are all very pigmented, so I really recommend a soft touch both when you pick the powder up and when you apply it to your face. Both palettes are super soft, significantly more than any other ELF blush I've tried, which can make them difficult to apply. They blend ok, but because of the high level of pigmentation there is a larger potential to apply too much.

Top Left, top right, bottom left, bottom right.
I really liked the top left and the bottom right, peachy/coral colors look really great on my skin tone. The above swatches I think show just how pigmented these colors are, the bottom left was especially pigmented. I felt like these were all warmer shades, minus the top right pink shade. Because these are darker I think someone with really pale skin would have a harder time wearing these. 

Light Palette
The Light palette has more of the traditional pink blushes, though one of the powders is what I would consider a contouring shade. I've never used brown as a blush, so I'm a little perplexed why this would be included in a blush palette. The bottom right has the most shimmer out of the group, I'd say it's about standard shimmer level for ELF blushes. That blush is also close to the blush half of the St Lucia blush and contour palette ELF sells, so if you like that shade you'd probably enjoy this one as well. And as with the Dark palette, these are super soft so be careful when using.

Top left, top right, bottom left, bottom right
Minus the "contouring" shade, I really like this palette and I've been using this one more than the other one. The top left isn't as pigmented as the others, but it gives a really nice, natural flush to my cheeks so I love it for my everyday look. I do really wish they had picked something other than that brown shade, it just really isn't working for me and seems to clash with the rest of the shades in the palette. The bottom right is the most pigmented out of the actual blushes, but I am pretty happy with the pigmentation of all of them. This palette feels a bit more universal to me and I think it would go well with most skin tones.

Looking at them side by side, they could have done a peach/coral palette and a pink palette instead of a Light and Dark. Two of the pinks are pretty similar both in the pan and in the swatches, but not close enough that I'd call it a repeat. These would be nice in one large palette as well, I may remove the pans and place them in a large palette sometime in the future. I'm not sure if you can tell in the pictures, but the plastic around each pan looks like it was designed to pop off so if you like to depot your products I have a feeling these will be really easy to do. 

Overall I'm very happy with both palettes and at the $6 price point they are well worth it. Each blush ends up being $1.50, which is a really great price. I'll continue to use these, though I may not use every single shade on a regular basis. I'm hoping ELF will put out other blush palettes in the future, I'd love to see a bigger variety of colors and finishes available.