Monday, November 30, 2015

Jewelscent Gel Ink Pens

*I received this free for testing and reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own*

The holidays are just around the corner, so I'm pretty sure at least one of you is panicking a bit thinking of gifts for people. I know I'm in panic mode trying to think of what to get all my family and friends. Well have no fear, I'll be featuring some fun and unique gift ideas all month to help you out. Today's gift is perfect for that student in your life, or maybe the crafty person you know. Or someone like me, who likes to stay super organized and color codes everything. Fun story, I use to trade copies of my notes in college for coffee. I went almost 4 years without ever paying for my own coffee, and I'm a heavy coffee drinker. The key to my note taking success, besides an attention to detail, was color coding everything.

The Jewelscent gel ink pen set features 60 different colors for your scribbling pleasure. There are neon shades, metallic/glittery shades, pastels, and even fun swirled colors. There is literally a pen for every occasion here, I love it. There are 5 trays of pens in the box, and each tray holds 12 pens. they're roughly divided by type of pen, but there is some overlap from tray to tray.

The pens works wonderfully, I haven't had any problems with them so far. My only complaint is that they didn't come with a carrying case, but that's not a big deal. I have plenty of pencil cases at home and I highly doubt I'll need to travel with all 60 at once.

As you can see there is some overlap in color, as you would expect, but everything is nice and bright. There are a few pastel and neon shades that aren't really designed for white paper, but I bet they'd look awesome on black card stock. I don't have any currently so I wasn't able to test that theory out, but I doubt I'm wrong. This whole set was only $29.96, which works out to about 50 cents a pen. That's a great deal, especially with the free Prime shipping.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thursday Thoughts

Hello and welcome to another installation of Thursday Thoughts, my weekly link up with Jen of Ramblings of a Suburban Mom. Let's jump right in shall we?

First, Happy Thanksgiving to my readers who celebrate Thanksgiving! I'll be spending the day with my husband's family and making way to much food. Not really planning on doing any shopping but we'll see.

After not finding a planner I liked for a price I liked (seriously, who pays $60+ for a planner?!?) I decided I'd make my own this year. I'm about halfway done with it I think, if people are interested in it let me know and I'll add it to the download section once I've finished it. I've also been making a bunch of cute stickers for it, though that picture is seriously bad. And upside down in retrospect. But whatever, it happens.

I still can't get over how pretty the November box was, I wish all the boxes were this nice looking. Some of them are super ugly, sorry Birchbox. And speaking of Birchbox, I have some Black Friday codes for you. If you are Aces you can use the code ACESONLY to save 30% off your order, and if you are just a subscriber you can use the code BIGDEAL to get 25% off. I'll be taking advantage of that 30% off code for sure.

I don't know about where you live but here it has been FREEZING! And I mean that literally. Right now it is 24 degrees F, which is 8 degrees below freezing. I have a heater set up a literal foot away from me just so it's warm enough to type up this blog post. Sometimes I regret setting my desk up by the giant window in my 70's era apartment.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

November Editor Birchbox 2015

I've been on a no buy for the most part lately thanks to both budget constraints and trying to focus on finishing up my Project Pan by the end of the year, so getting two Birchboxes this month was a treat. While I already know what I'm getting when I order a Guest Editor box, they're still really fun to get and I typically enjoy them. Plus at $10 you really can't beat the value (and getting travel friendly items is always a plus). Let's dig in and see what I got.

The box itself was kind of boring to me. Felt very business casual for some reason. I don't know, I just like the fancier looking boxes, especially since I save and use mine.

Five items in the Editor box, which is standard I believe. One makeup, one hair, and three skin (I'm counting the Jouer lip thing as skin), so a really skin heavy box. There was no overlap between the skin items so I don't mind but I'd rather have had two makeup items.

The Living Proof dry shampoo was a great item to get and I'll be saving it for when my hair is long enough to need dry shampoo, but for now it's going into my extras box. I've heard great things about this (expensive) brand though so I'm sure I'll like it.

This is kind of a weird item, and I'm not sure how I feel about it. This is the Jouer Lip Enhancer and is a lip balm/lip tint/fine line filler/lip plumper according to Birchbox. On the lip balm front it is a pretty decent one, but there are other ones I like for a fraction of the cost ($16 for a full sized tube). I call total BS on the lip tint aspect, there is no tint happening at all. It's suppose to be a light pink color but unless you have the worlds palest lips you won't see any difference. On the line filler and lip plumper front I'm ambiguous as to whether it actually does anything. There is no tingling or anything, and my lips didn't really look different. The thing I really don't like about it is it tastes like soap to me. I'll finish it up but I'm calling this one a miss.

I have been wanting to try this product for months now and it was one of the reasons I bought this box. This is the Shiseido Ultimate Eye Gel and is suppose to be a really great eye cream. Obviously it takes about a month to see any real changes with things like this, but I am happy with what I've seen so far. Does it replace my favorite eye gel? Nope, but I'm still glad I got to try it out. It is a little sticky feeling so this is a night time only item for me.

Speaking of sticky, night time only products, the Avene serum I got is really awesome but soooo not usable under my makeup. I love how bright my skin looks after I use it, but it leaves me feeling tacky no matter how little I use of it. Wearing it under my makeup just made my skin feel gross, so I use it at night before bed. It hasn't broken me out and my skin is looking pretty nice minus the trouble spot on my chin I've been battling for the last month. This is a pretty expensive brand though, so I won't be buying a full sized bottle.

And lastly we have the other reason I bought this box, the LOC eyeshadow stick. I got the lipstick in my regular box, but I also wanted to try out their shadow sticks before I commit to buying the whole set. The shade I got is Day Trip and is a super gorgeous shade that isn't really everyday appropriate.

So for holidays and special events I can totally see myself busting this shade out, but for work or out running errands this is way to fancy. The formula is great though and this swatch lasted and lasted. The day I wore it to work (so fancy) it lasted through my day as well, so I'm really impressed with these. None of the other colors really call to me right now so I may wait till the next collection comes out. Or use a coupon code to get the whole set at a good price. One stick is $10, which isn't bad but I'd rather get them at a discount.

Overall this was a good box, with only one miss in it. I would have liked a more wearable eyeshadow color, but with holiday parties right around the corner I'm sure I'll get plenty of use out of it. I'm excited to see what December holds for us, the last December box had some great bonus items like a $10 gift card. If you got this box what did you think of it?

Friday, November 20, 2015

November 2015 Birchbox

I adore getting a Birchbox every month, even if I really don't need more beauty stuff right now.Oh who am I kidding, I always need more beauty stuff! Most of my boxes are pretty great, though lately I feel like they've been kind of "meh". My October box was one of those, I couldn't even bring myself to review it. The stuff was fine, it was just really....boring I guess. I used it all, but I wasn't excited about it. Maybe I'm getting old and jaded, but I'm becoming harder to wow I've noticed. Let's dive into the first November box and see if it wows me a bit more than October's did.

First, can we talk about how pretty the box design is this time? I love darker tones, especially this time of year, so this pattern was a total hit with me. I'd love a notebook with this pattern on it, or something similar. If you know of one please link it to me down below in the comments.

5 items is a pretty standard box, but this one had a really good mix. One hair, one skin care, one perfume, and two makeup items. If the perfume had been another skin care item this would be the perfect item ratio for me. Only one "full sized" item this month, and you'll probably be super surprised which one it is.

Let's start with the hair care product first. My hair hasn't grown out enough to use anything I've received lately, but I did adjust my profile so I'll be getting short hair items only. This is a moisturizing fluid, to help make your hair more manageable and nicer looking. This sample is huge too, so I'm super excited about this. I'm kind of on the fence about Davines so I'm hoping I really like it. A full size is 125 mL (this is 50mL for reference) and only $26, so if it works like I think it will I'll probably pick one up. I'll post about this again in 3 months or so when I can actually use it.

I love a good body scrub, so I was really excited to receive one this month. Until I saw the size. Seriously, could it be any smaller? I'll get one use out this max.

And as you can see from the picture it isn't the grittiest thing out there. I haven't tried this yet, I've been to busy to take longer than 5 minutes in the shower lately, so I'm saving this for the weekend. It smells ok, not a scent I would choose on purpose but I don't hate it. A full sized is $25, so no matter how it works I won't be buying a full sized. I'd rather make my own for a fraction of the cost.

Another theBalm product! I've been fascinated with this company and their adorable vintage packaging but they're a tad expensive for my budget so I never buy them. I received a bronzer from them over the summer that I like, and now I have a blush. This is the Frat Boy shadow/blush (who wears matte pink eyeshadow?) and is a super pretty matte light peachy pink color.

This is such a wearable color, I really like it right now. I haven't actually worn it on my face, just swatched it repeatedly. I'm working on a blush right now so this hasn't made it into the rotation, but I'll use it starting in December for sure. A full size is $21, so I probably won't buy one after my teenie sample is used up. I'm still cranky about the small pan sizes of theBalm samples, but they are cute and I'm a sucker for that.

I HATE getting perfume as a sample, I'm so damn picky I almost never like them. They also feel like such a cheap sample, you can get these tubes for free a lot of the time at various stores. This is Joyful by My Daughter fragrances, and it does actually smell really nice. I think it smells grape-ish, my friend said it was super floral, the packaging says citrus and flowers. But at $85 a bottle I don't care how good it smells, I'm not buying it. I'm waaaay to cheap to spend that much on anything beauty related, especially a perfume I'd wear once a week tops.

And last is the much anticipated item, a lipstick from Birchbox's very own brand new cosmetics line! I was actually going to order the whole line but then I saw they were the sample choices for this month. I got a lipstick in this box and the eyeshadow pencil in my other box (being reviewed tomorrow), so this was a good way to try before I drop $50 on the whole set. These are billed as an affordable and travel friendly cosmetics line, which actually means tiny ass items at regular prices. This lipstick is TINY, only 0.6 grams of product in it. And guess what, according to Birchbox this is full sized. Is that not the most ridiculous thing you've ever heard? A deluxe sample sized item being called a full size product. $8 isn't bad for a full sized lipstick, but for this tiny little stick? I don't think so.

The shade I picked was Glam Life, which is a matte plum shade. It's pretty enough but I think they could have tweaked the color a bit more. I've heard rumors that the red shade in the line makes you look like a clown, so I'm SUPER glad I didn't pick this one out. It's a matte lipstick, so I expected it to be drying but man, this thing sucked all the moisture out of my lips. They felt like the Sahara desert after I applied it. And it did not hold up as well as I'd prefer after eating some pizza. If you are going to be that drying you better stick to my lips like glue. I'll use this up but I'll pass on buying the rest of the lipsticks from this line. Oh and as a packaging complaint, my lid does not go on all the way, there's a little gap between it and the actual tube that's driving me nuts.

I didn't hate this box, but it was another "meh" for me. The blush is a thumbs up, and I do like the scent of the perfume, but I either haven't tried the other products or didn't like them at all. I did get the editor box this month so hopefully that one will make up for what I didn't like about this one. If you received a Birchbox this month what did you think of it?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thursday Thoughts

This week has just drug on, it felt like Thursday would never arrive. But arrive it has, so that means I'm linking up with Jen of Ramblings of a Suburban Mom for her weekly Thursday Thoughts link up.

I'm slowly but surely getting back on the blogging bandwagon, I almost got a whole week's worth of posts out. That an improvement, though I still have a lot of work ahead of me to get back to my regular schedule. I'm really wanting to start the New Year on a strong foot so expect things to keep improving here.

My big work event, our annual Fall Tournament went off without a hitch! My little guy won 3rd in breaking and 1st in sparring, I'm so proud of how hard he worked. And I'm so pleased with how the Tournament turned out. I have the best co-workers and co-planners on Earth, which made the process 10x easier. But we're done planning stuff until after Christmas, so I can just focus on regular work stuff and my own projects.

I'm still doing fun makeup looks and special effects, but some of this stuff is hard on your skin. Full on zombie makeup several days in a row will break you out something fierce yo. I should do a post on how I combat a major breakout this month, I have a few days left with nothing planned. But I really need to get a camera set up going so I can film these and share them, they're way to involved for just pictures.

I'll do a full Project Pan post at the end of the month, but I'm super impressed with my progress. I've hit pan or finished all powder products, I have a lipstick almost finished, and come cream/wax products almost finished as well. Will I finish every single item by the end of December? Not a chance, but I'll get pretty dang close I think. And in the end I used up some products I needed to finish and got to stretch my makeup skills a bit, so a win in the end.

Health wise I'm almost done with the Lupron, just one more injection in December. I may throw myself a party to celebrate surviving 6 months of that crap. I would NEVER recommend it, unless I super don't like you. And even then I'd feel like a jerk. Seriously, the stuff is hell in a shot. I meet my new Doctor in December too, hoping I like this one more than the person I got stuck with after my fabulous Doctor quit. My regular Doctor is fantastic but my reproductive system issues are well outside of his scope of expertise so I really need to find a specialist I like, so fingers crossed.

Monday, November 16, 2015

First Bonany Dead Sea Mud Mask

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

Skincare is a big deal for me, I'm ok spending more time and money on a really good routine to keep my skin looking and feeling great. One of the things I like to do several times a week is a face mask of some sort. Mud masks are my personal favorite, I love how they suck all the nasty stuff out of my skin and leave it feeling as great as it looks. The Dead Sea Mud Mask by First Botany is billed as an all in one rejuvenating spa mask, but does it live up to that lofty claim?

First off, this is your usual grey color that all dead sea mud masks seem to have, but instead of having a clay texture this is kind of like if you made jello out of clay. For 99.9% of the population this wouldn't matter at all, but I have VERY strong feelings about jello. Like I can't even watch people eat it without wanting to throw up. So using the mask was a bit hard for me, I actually had to apply it with a brush so I wouldn't have to touch the jelly bits. This isn't like a gel mask, definitely more jelly consistency. There's a light almost floral scent to it as well, but it isn't awful.

This is a great mask for those with oily skin, but I think if you have dry skin this would leave you way to dry and tight. I left it on for the 15 minutes recommended and my skin felt a bit tight and dried out, so unless you are battling super oily skin I'd recommend leaving it on for only 10 minutes at a time. Once I washed it off my skin looked great and was super soft feeling. I had to use my favorite facial lotion to counter the extra tightness, but other than that I really liked the end results of the mask. I'd been battling some acne along my jaw line and this really dried up the monster pimple forming on my chin.

For $14.95 (with free Prime shipping), I think this is a great value. You don't need a lot to cover your face, so you'll get months of use out of this 8.8 fluid ounce jar. And if jelly doesn't freak you out you should really enjoy the consistency of it as well. Would I personally buy it? No, but jelly freaks me out. If this had a mud texture I would for sure.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Thursday Thoughts

Hello and welcome to another Thursday Thoughts! I know I've been really sporadic with my blogging lately and I owe everybody an apology. Hopefully things will go a bit smoother on my end and we can get back to daily posts. So let's link up with Jen of Ramblings of a Suburban Mom for her weekly Thursday Thoughts!

Wow, can you believe its already November? Thanksgiving is coming up, which means lots of food and getting together with the family. What's your favorite Thanksgiving goodie? I love pumpkin pie, and this year I'm making a chai spiced pumpkin pie with a maple infused whip cream. Or at least that's the plan. Giving it a test run in the next day or two.

I have made awesome progress on my project pan. I've hit pan on all the eyeshadows and actually finished one up completely. I have less than a week left on the highlighter shade I've been using and the eyebrow wax will be done by the end of the month for sure. I can't believe how much I've actually managed to use up, especially with how many eyeshadows I had going on. Pretty sure I'll have finished another one by the end of the month too.

If you follow me on Instagram you've probably seen all the different makeup and special effects looks I did during the month of October. But did you know I actually got to model for an advertisement? That's me in the poster! As you can see, I was super excited to get my picture taken next to my professional photo. Today Downtown Hillsboro, tomorrow Paris!

Health wise I'm doing better in some regards and worst in others. I've got some tests coming up soon so I'll talk more about what's going on after all of that is done. But I'm almost done with the Lupron, just an injection tomorrow and then another next month. I can say for sure that while it has helped I would never in a million years do it again. I may do a follow up post once I'm completely done and talk about what a nightmare this has all been.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Useless Piece of Crap

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

One of the things I really love about my job is getting to try out lots of different products, especially ones I want to use. But sometimes I get an item to review that just plain sucks, which is fine. Not everything is going to be rainbows and unicorns all the time. But I really hate when I get a product that just doesn't work, like at all. I received a Unisex Atomizer to review for this blog and it has been a big ol' fail from day one.

First, for those who don't know, an atomizer is basically a travel bottle for your perfume. That way you can spritz on the go without hauling around your giant glass bottle of expensive perfume. Travel items are a personal favorite of mine, so I was really excited to order this item. And then wait over 2 weeks because it apparently ships from China. I'm not a patient person, I'll admit it. So waiting that long REALLY didn't start this review off well. Then it didn't come with instructions so I had to Google how to fill an atomizer. Products should always come with instructions, always always always. If I have to look up instructions you have failed as a company.

So to fill an atomizer up you remove the nozzle from your perfume, stick the tube into the opening of the atomizer, and pump. It basically sprays the perfume into the atomizer is the gist of it. But none of my perfumes fit with the atomizer I was sent. So I haven't been able to fill it and even see if the thing works. Like....are there different sized for perfume nozzles? Am I doing something wrong? The whole thing is frustrating and I'm done messing with it. And the product doesn't even exist anymore on Amazon, so I feel like they knew it was a dud. Which also pisses me off. So basically, piece of crap, don't buy it.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Lux Essentials French Press

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

If you've been reading this blog for a while you know I love my coffee. I love to drink it hot or cold, and even use it in my beauty products. But sometimes I don't want a whole 12 cup pot of coffee (shocking I know), so I love to use a french press. Or at least I did until my toddler shattered mine. But the coffee gods have smiled upon me and Lux Essentials was kind enough to send me their french press to review and write about.

For those who aren't familiar with a french press, you place boiling water and coarsely ground coffee beans into the french press, let it sit for 10-15 minutes, then you press the plunger on the lid down. This lowers a filter that strains and keeps all the grounds at the bottom of the carafe, while you pour and enjoy you freshly brewed coffee. One of the nice things about the french press is you can decide how strong you want your coffee to be. I like mine to kick me in the teeth so I let mine steep longer than usual and I sometimes add extra coffee grinds to my brew as well.

One of the things I love about the Lux brand is the filter attached to it. Not only is it a really fine mesh but it comes with an extra one so you can have two layers of filtration if you want or you can just have a backup in the event you want to replace yours. I had zero coffee beans in my cup, which has been a problem with previous french presses I've tried. I actually got through my whole pot without any grit, so I'm hugely impressed by it. The other thing I love it just how classy it looks. This is something I wouldn't mind sitting on my counter at all.

I'm really happy with this press, it works perfectly every time I've used it and the price tag is exactly what I would expect to pay. For $24.99 with free Prime shipping this awesome press can be yours or it would make a perfect gift for the coffee lover in your life. I'm calling this my gift to myself for sure, or my gift to my stomach at least.