Thursday, October 31, 2013

In the Spirit of Halloween

Since it would be highly inappropriate for me to don a costume at work, I stuck with an orange and black ensemble and decided I could be a modern day pumpkin in my new Michael by Michael Kors orange puffer jacket that I've had for weeks and can finally wear.

I nearly topped it off by wearing my new white blonde wig from Palm Springs, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. Maybe I'll put it on later when I pass out candy to the chilluns...we'll see.

I also made sure to grab the festive scarf I recently knit and put on my special Halloween socks, which I've had far longer than I care to admit. Stylemint always seems to pull through for me and I love my Linden shirt with it's subtle line pattern and sheerness, so I paired that with a soft, black tank and was ready to go.

While I wish I could say I have great plans for Halloween, I'm still feeling under the weather and I need to get myself healthy. That should mean that I'm skiipping the candy this year, but let's be honest, I'm already getting a sugar high with this Kit Kat I've been saving for today.

Have a safe and happy Halloween!


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

San Francisco Birchbloggers Dinner

When I found out I was selected to be one of the four Birchbloggers invited to a San Francisco dinner hosted by a couple of members from Birchbox, I was so excited. And shocked - I never get to do things like this! So, I confirmed my attendance and immediately began to plan what I was going to wear (naturally). An 8PM dinner is later than I usually care to eat, but I wasn't about to let that sway me away from going. What's one late dinner in the grand scheme of things?? Because it was later, I opted to drive rather than take BART since I'd rather be in my car at 11PM instead of riding a late night train. Turns out it was better that way since I got home well before the train would have dropped me off anyway.

I arrived at The Cavalier half an hour early and posted up at the bar where I passed the time talking with the gentleman seated beside me about food, cars, art, and professions. He was pleasant company and even though he ultimately added my gin & tonic onto his tab (despite my objection), the gesture was without strings - meaning, he didn't ask me for my number as we parted ways when he went outside for a cigarette and I went to search for the dinner party. It was rather refreshing. Who said chivalry is dead? We simply enjoyed a friendly conversation - a lost art, I do believe. I was thankful for his kindness and also for his appetizer recommendations, but more on that later.

There were two seats remaining at the table when I walked up, but I ended up being the last girl there. One of the other bloggers was a no show, but it wasn't a big deal because we all had such a great time. Sarah and Anisa, who both live in the city, were the other bloggers chosen for the dinner and they were fantastic company. Rachel and Alta who work for Birchbox were all I hoped they would be and much more. I casually moved the pretty teal bag sitting on the empty seat I was meant to claim, and while I wanted to rip open the Birchbox that was tucked inside, I maintained my composure and held out until the end.

The Birchbloggers: Not the greatest photo of me, but it was late and I was tired. C'est la vie!

The evening was truly fabulous. It was like a little VIP experience with a company I am completely and totally passionate about. It was an honor to be there and I loved interacting with everyone. While we did discuss beauty products, it wasn't all about that all the time. It was almost like we were 5 girlfriends getting together for dinner and it was such a good feeling; one I can honestly say I haven't had in a really long time while hanging out with a group of girls. They were friendly, genuine, and people I could definitely spend time with again. Of course Rachel and Alta are New Yorkers now, but Sarah and Anisa are right on the other side of the bay. Not too far! Being invited to this truly made a difference to me in so many ways. 

Of course I'll be reviewing the items in the box I received, but the even bigger surprise was that Anisa, who had been chosen as a winner of the Ruffian manicure contest, shared her Ruffian trio box prizes with us. I was completely blown away by her selflessness! She could have given them to anyone or kept them all for herself, but she chose to share them with us and now I can't wait to repaint my nails and show them off! 

All in all, thank you Birchbox for your generosity in putting this together and connecting with your customers on a personal level. Thank you Rachel and Alta for being such amazing women, making me feel welcome, and for simply taking the time to meet with us. Thank you Sarah and Anisa for being so friendly and warm, and for sharing your stories. I will not be forgetting this night any time soon and I hope we can all reconnect sometime. In the meantime, I'll certainly be looking forward to more BBxSanFran events in the future! 


Monday, October 28, 2013

October Birchbox Review Part Deux

The last remaining products from my Birchbox are ready to be discussed! Here is a recap of the other products I reviewed and then the remaining two.

Miss Jessie's Crème de la Crème Conditioner - It's lightweight and it detangles. I'll be buying the full size product as soon as I need a new bottle of conditioner. 

Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser and Pure Muslin Cloth - It's gentle, mild, a little unusual in application, but totally worth the change. The cloth exfoliates with out being overly abrasive. I'll be adding this to my beauty routine and purchasing the starter kit ASAP.

ChapStick Hydration Lock - You can't go wrong with ChapStick. This has a place in my purse. 

POP Beauty Aqua Lacquer in Floating Rose

This lipgloss did not disappoint. It has a brush application, which was completely unexpected, but totally welcome. The hue, was perfect. It didn't go on too bright, so I didn't feel self conscious when it was on and it wasn't sticky. Not even a little bit. But that doesn't mean it cuts out the shine, because believe you me, it's there. The scent is mild and hardly noticeable, which also mean that the taste of it is basically nonexistent. It's the perfect POP of color. Verdict: It's a subtle shade of pink that will work with almost anyone and I'll be using this full size product frequently. 

Folle de Joie eau de parfum
Perfume is a very personal thing, so what works for one person isn't going to necessarily work for another. That said, besides having sensitive skin, I also have a sensitive nose. A perfume that doesn't work for me will instantly give me a headache or make me sick to my stomach. I may love the scent, but sometimes I can't wear it. Or sometimes it just doesn't work with your body chemistry. In this instance, I do love the scent and I can wear it. Win-win for me! The official description (seen below) fits me to a "t" since I'm a California girl and Paris won my heart over when I spent three weeks there in the winter of 2007. It's a great fragrance, but just like any other perfume, it's best to sample before committing. Verdict: I do enjoy the scent, but I want to make sure it suits me before putting it on my Christmas list.  

Derived from the ease of California’s sea scented beaches and romanticized by Parisian charm, Folle de Joie captures the carefree yet sophisticated JOIE lifestyle. The scent opens with a burst of freshness from an intimate blend of calming sweet citrus mixed and a light woodsy floral, giving way to playful hints of rich cognac. Folle De Joie’s mid notes of jasmine and rose add a feeling of Summer’s carefree essence while exotic warm base notes of spicy and rich wood and leather nuances broaden the seductive scent.

Well, that's all she wrote! Until next time! 


The Viceroy Palm Springs

Let me just start off by saying that the website sold me on this place immediately. There's something about the black/white/yellow color combination that appeals to my senses. Of course the decorative mirrors and light fixtures do as well. From there it was a matter of appealing to the tastes of my sister...and in this case, it was the food. She's a far pickier eater than I am, despite my being mostly vegetarian, and while I may lean toward an unusual menu with complex flavors, her tastebuds crave more simple items. We pretty much narrowed it down to two places, and the Viceroy Palm Springs won out.

It was a little different than I had imagined based on the photos I had seen, but isn't that the case with most places? The main pool area off of the bar was where we spent our days sunbathing and floating in the water. We could have ventured to the standard lap pool, which may have provided us with extended sun time, but the ambiance of this particular space was more appealing. Not to mention, we had easy access to our room from there and our balcony was visible from our lounge chairs. The pool servers were friendly without being pushy about ordering food or drinks, and the bartender, Jon, was the staff member we saw the most and who was genuinely friendly and personable.

Photo from my seester

Photo from my seester

Photo from my seester

Between the killer french fries, the spacious shower and divine hair products (Neil George), the Gin & Sins, and the close proximity to the main street, the Viceroy Palm Springs is definitely a great place to stay. My only complaint about the entire place is that you can hear your neighbors closing/slamming their closet doors. All they need to do is put some rubber stoppers or felt pads on the corners of those doors and I wouldn't have anything to complain about!

I'm definitely looking forward to my next Palm Springs vacation. I just wish I could return a little bit sooner. 


Friday, October 25, 2013

Simple Pleasures

I woke up this morning and had to ask if it was actually Friday because I honestly wasn't sure if it was or not. Needless to say, when the answer was, "yes," I instantly perked up. And that was even before I had my first cup of coffee! Anyway, I've got some things planned for the weekend and I'm excited to get dressed up (not in a Halloween way, but maybe afterward), and shake my groove thang. Here are this week's simple pleasures.

A Celebration of Love
Photo found here

That's right! A wedding. I can already hear the church bells...just kidding, it's at a country club. I'm excited to see the lovely bride-to-be tie the knot with her longtime beau and of course I always enjoy a chance to don a dress and some high heels and get all gussied up. Since I still haven't worn the color block, high low hem dress I originally bought for my reunion, it's the current frontrunner for the occasion. Also, following the reception it's possible I'll be meeting up with some other friends in the downtown area for some Halloween-esque fun, so I may have to do some creative undead type makeup on the fly or pop in some fangs for an instant costume. 

An Unfortunate Fortune

The shopaholic in me didn't really care to see this fortune emerge from my cookie. Especially since I had just bought a new pair of shoes the previous day. Did I need them? Not exactly, but they were on sale! And they were super cute! And I already envisioned what I would be wearing with them. Besides, I've been looking for a pair of bright colored sneakers and these ones seemed to fit the bill. 

Photo found here

Since I mentioned them above, I might as well share them entirely. These are the new sneakers I purchased at DSW earlier this week. They aren't exactly work appropriate, but they are perfect for the upcoming weekend. I fully intend on taking advantage of the sunshine to pair my new footwear with a light, breezy tee. And of course a hoodie since I'll probably be cold.


October Birchbox Review - Part Une

I know my "I was sick" excuse is going to get old, but seriously I was so sick. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have been able to form cohesive sentences; much like a recent time I was tongue-tied over a particularly handsome fellow (more on that later). Anyway, despite the illness I endured, I was still giddy when I received my Birchbox in the mail and managed to find the energy to really use them. Here is this month's lineup.

Miss Jessie's Original Crème de la Crème Conditioner
Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser with Pure Muslin Cloth
POP Beauty Aqua Lacquer in Floating Rose
ChapStick Hydration Lock
Folle de Joie eau de parfum

Photo from Birchbox

Hair products and facial cleansers seem to get the first uses since those are things that I use on a daily basis and this time was no exception. So, first thing is first....

Miss Jessie's Original 
Crème de a Crème Conditioner

I don't have curly hair, but I loved this conditioner. I wasn't sure how my not-so-curly hair would take to it, but it turns out, my hair loves it. I got three uses out of the sample (and I have a tendency to use a lot), so I can definitely say it works well - it detangles, it didn't weigh my hair down, nor did it make my sensitive skin break out. Truth be told, my hair kept looking better as the day went on! My amazement continued into the next morning when I woke up and my hair barely showed any sign of being oily (a rarity for me). Verdict: I'll be buying this condition as soon as I run out of my other one. 

Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser and Pure Muslin Cloth

I was a bit nervous to try this out when I saw there was cocoa butter in it, but all my worries went by the wayside after using it day and night for over a week. My skin didn't break out, it felt moisturized without feeling oily, and it seemed to work incredibly well with my sensitive skin. I can't vouch for it removing stubborn eye makeup since I only use Mary Kay's Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover, but it proved to be effective in removing my face makeup from the day, which is a huge deal. As for the pure muslin cloth, well, I loved it. It did a good job of exfoliating without being overly abrasive. The whole cleansing process was definitely different from my usual routine since you're supposed to apply the cleanser to a dry face (weird I know, but oddly it works), but once you get to the steamy, hot cloth part of the process, it's kind of awesome and spa-like. Verdict: I'm adding this to my beauty routine and purchasing the starter kit ASAP.

ChapStick Hydration Lock

I've probably been using ChapStick since I was 12 years old. That said, my go-to is the Classic Spearmint, however, I'm always open to trying new products that moisturize, especially from brands I trust. The texture was super smooth as I expected it to be, but I was pleasantly surprised by how lightweight it was. Now I know it claims 8 hours of moisture, but let's be honest, between sipping coffee from my mug, wiping my mouth after eating, and absentmindedly chewing on my lip while deep in thought, I'm going to have to reapply to re-moisturize at some point. It doesn't matter though. It's super smooth, the smell is mild, and it doesn't have a noticeable flavor to it, so it's a welcome addition to my purse. And since I'm the kind of girl who has to put on some type of lip balm prior to any lip color or gloss, it makes a terrific primer. Verdict: This ChapStick has a place in my purse.


Monday, October 21, 2013

Palm Springs - The Drive

I know it's already been a week since I've been back home from vacation, but since I was sick, I couldn't really bring myself to write about it. Mostly because I felt like shite and wanted to sleep even after I had just woken up from a 2 hour nap. Anyway, now I'm nearly back to my old self except I'd really like to be back in Palm Springs. I love vacation.

I've been driving up and down I-5 off and on for 10 years. Between driving to and from school and going back to see friends, I've made that journey more times than I can remember. I may be crazy, but it's one I actually enjoy. Now that I have cruise control, I love it even more. Also, since I have a new car with a larger engine, the jaunt through the Grapevine is effortless, meaning I no longer have to literally put the pedal to the floorboard. On my typical journey to LA I arrive in 6 hours or less. I stop one time to fill up the gas tank, grab a bite to eat, and make a quick bathroom stop. I have it down to a science. I was under no illusions that this would be the case when I drove down with my sister. I knew we'd be making a much-needed coffee stop, numerous bathroom breaks, stopping for lunch, etc. and I was actually okay with it. It was a leisurely drive filled with inside jokes, humorous happenings, mix CDs, and enthusiastic singing. 

The drive into P.S. - taken by my seester

We didn't drop the top until the Grapevine and then we cruised into Palm Springs around 3PM. It was a little tricky to find the place. The directions took us to the backside of the hotel, which was strange, and even when we were on the right street, there wasn't a huge sign for us to know exactly where we were supposed to be. Finally, we figured it out, and since we weren't quite ready to hand over the keys to the valet, we parked on the street and checked in. Our room wasn't yet ready, but it wasn't a big deal; we sat out by the pool and relaxed for a few minutes before they called to let us know we could go up. Once we were settled, we got into our swimsuits and went down to the pool for a few minutes. We ended up in the bar that evening where we indulged in several of these.  

Dark, grainy bar photo. The Gin & Sin.

After a long drive, I was more than happy to partake in a few Gin & Sin beverages. This particular one was sans grenadine (so much better without it) and it was here that I discovered my new found love of Hendrick's gin. Oh, I miss you.


Friday, October 18, 2013

Simple Pleasures

It's amazing to me how fast time can fly. It's already been two weeks since my last post, but it doesn't fully seem like that much time could have possibly passed.  Between a much needed vacation and coming down with a wicked case of tonsillitis upon returning home, I've been trying to do as much as I can even though I'm still incredibly run down. I had to put writing on hold because I simply didn't have the energy once I was done with my work duties and was home for the day. So, while I'm feeling a lot better, I'm still not 100%. I'm mending though and here are my simple pleasures. 

Pink Medicine

I haven't taken liquid amoxicillin in ages. I literally cannot remember the last time I tasted it, but I'm guessing it's sometime before the age of 13. When I was a kid, I loved it so much, my parents actually had to keep it away from me. I know, I'm weird. Anyway, when I finally broke down and went to see the doctor this week, he prescribed it to me. I thought I was getting pills, but when I found out I was getting the liquid version, I was actually a little excited. I've been enjoying taking my twice daily dose and I'm definitely going to ask for the liquid stuff again if I ever need it. It's so much more fun than popping a couple of pills. 

A Craft

When I got back from vacation and the two days I had to take off from being sick, I was met with this. I won't turn down the opportunity to put something together, so I immediately began punching out the flattened giraffe along the perforated edges. Within minutes, I had folded and tucked and had a perfect little paper giraffe. It's sitting on the top counter above my desk and my boss seems to be getting a kick out of it since I most recently found it hanging from the vase that sits next to it...apparently Mr. Giraffe was thirsty.  

A Show
Photo from website

It's been a while since I've heard The Voodoo Fix live and since they're up in San Francisco playing at the Boom Boom Room this weekend, it'd be really nice to go see them. Unfortunately it's one of those things I'm going to have to play by ear since I am still recovering. Also, BART is on strike again and that makes getting there a little more difficult. I'll do my best, but unless I'm feeling better than I am today, I may have to catch them another time. 


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Simple Pleasures

Better late than never! I didn't get around to doing my simple pleasures on Friday because I was so darn busy doing a bunch of other stuff. I've been on the go all day today, so I'm finally getting a chance to finish this post. I'm leaving on vacation tomorrow morning before the sun comes up and I'm hoping I'll actually be able to get some sleep tonight. I've been known to have a boatload of anxiety before making any kind of trip, so I'm hoping tonight will be different. Wishful thinking, but maybe this time I'll sleep soundly. Anyway, here are my simple pleasures.

Art Project Inspiration
When buying art, I say, buy what you like. Sure, art can be a great investment, but unless you're flush with cash and can afford to spend a cool $60 million on an Andy Warhol piece, sometimes buying what you can afford, is best. I like buying artwork that has character, or history. That's why I purchased   this piece from another estate sale. I loved them. Now, I didn't buy the above piece because I didn't feel it was worth $120. It was basically something I could do myself with some thrift store broaches or unwanted costume jewelry and I may just decide to tackle a similar project in the future. For now, it'll go in the "to do" file.

I find it incredibly difficult to pass up a jar of buttons. I know it's ridiculous, but it's a weakness. When I found this jar of green buttons at a local Discovery Shop, I knew I couldn't walk away from it. They were just dying to become part of an art project, or become eyes for a stuffed animal, or new buttons for a sweater jacket. I still don't know what I'm going to do with all of them, but I figured the glass container alone was worth the $3 I spent on it. Besides, you'll be supporting the fight against cancer and everyone can feel good about that.

A Heart
I've been known to find heart shaped objects in all kinds of places. As a child I would find heart shaped rocks and give them to my mom or I'll occasionally see a heart shaped cloud floating overhead. This time, I found a heart in my blush, which was unintentionally created by me and ultimately put a smile on my face. It really is the little things.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

P.S. I can't wait to be there.

This morning started off with a bang, literally, when my phone hit the floor. 

I had woken up before my alarm, so I reached up to the headboard to bring it closer in anticipation of hitting the snooze button and instead of grabbing it, I knocked it back. It fell through the gap between the headboard and the wall and I naturally grumbled out a profanity. Shit. What an oh so perfect way to start my day. So I climbed out of bed, pulled out the mattress, pulled the box spring back and reached down. My skinny arms can usually reach into the tightest of spaces (you should have seen me squeeze my arm into a gap in the passenger side window when I accidentally locked my keys in the was amazing), but this time, the angle wasn't quite right. So I dropped down, grabbed a hanger, and was able to slide it towards me as Gerald Albright's version of "Why Georgia" was nearly coming to an end. On one hand, I was frustrated at the situation and a little pissed because I had to get up at that time, but on the other, it was a fairly humorous way to start the morning. I ended up laughing about it and drinking my coffee a little earlier than usual. C'est la vie.

Besides that minor incident, I've seen my share of ups and downs this week. That said, I am more than ready for my Palm Springs vacation. In anticipation of my trip, I splurged and bought myself a little bikini. Because I needed another swimsuit. But seriously, I'm stoked that it fit and also that it didn't look ridiculous on me because I can't always pull off the ruffle look. I suppose that's what happens when you have more of an athletic build.

Photo from Victoria's Secret

Anyway, I've got a number of swimsuits waiting to be worn again, most of which haven't seen the light of day since I went to Jamaica. I know my tan has significantly faded, but I think I still have enough of a base to keep from getting too crispy when I'm hanging out by the pool and sipping on adult beverages. I'm also looking forward to donning my monokini for the first time. I've been waiting for a super special occasion...for the past 5 years. So on top of overpacking in the swimwear department, I'll likely overpack in every other area. Because I can. 


p.s. is it Friday yet? 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Great Glass Pumpkin Patch

The Great Glass Pumpkin Patch was everything I had hoped it would be and more. Of course I could have attended the event in past years, but it seemed as though I would be intruding upon my seester's tradition of going. My patience paid off because she invited me to go along with her and I had so much fun.

One of the patches sprinkled throughout the grassy area. 

Even though she repeatedly and profusely apologized for how long it took her to narrow down her options only to walk away with both of the pumpkins she was deciding between, I had no issues with it. I knew she was going to get both before she did. Mainly because if she put down the one that was so clearly screaming out her name, I was going to buy it for her whether she liked it or not. 

It's easy to get caught up in the whimsical and magical glass blown pieces. There were several that I fell in love with, but at $500 a pop, I wasn't about to walk away with a giant perfume bottle that didn't have a place carved out for it already. So, I just walked away. But not before snapping a photo because it was totally cool. 

Fancy Dancy.

The magnetic glass snail wall originally caught my eye, but where was I going to put the garden crawler? It wasn't going to have a home. I ended up carrying it around the entire time and putting it back later because I found something else that tickled my fancy. Of course, I couldn't leave this gourd garden empty handed and so I purchased a very small, clear pumpkin with a metallic stem top. It was perfectly "me" and now has a place on the mantle. Well, at least for the autumn season.

My new pumpkin! You can't tell, but the stem is curling away from the lens.

And here are some more pictures of things I liked...although I did miss getting a picture of the gourds. If I had been out to purchase a large, reasonably priced item, I'd have plucked up one of those for sure. 

Another perfume bottle...don't mind the woman bending over in the background
A pumpkin teapot...I fell in LOVE.
A pumpkin with a metallic core.
Some of the ones that didn't make the cut from my seester and others just waiting to be adopted. 
Despite the heat, it was a fantastic experience and I'm looking forward to next year's new crop of glass.