Friday, February 28, 2014

February Birchbox Review

This month's box was full of amazing goodies, just like always! So, without further ado, here are the products.

Bain de Terre Color Preserving Shampoo 
Bain de Terre Color Preserving Conditioner
Joan Vass L'eau de Améthyste
Previse HydroMilk Moisturizer
Ruby Wing Color Changing Nail Polish in Ride 'Em Cowgirl

Bain de Terre Color Preserving 
Shampoo & Conditioner

Photo from Birchbox

I was excited that I received a sample for both steps of the hair washing process because I really feel like I get the full effect that way. Not to mention, the size was great because I've already used it a few times and there's still plenty left. The products were a little thinner than I thought they would be, but that doesn't mean they weren't effective! It's hard to say how well it'll preserve color since I haven't been dying my hair lately, but in terms of how my hair responded after washing, well, it loved it. My hair wasn't heavy, it looked fantastic, and it sure did shine! The fragrance of the two is passion flower and it smelled great without being overwhelming throughout the day. 

Verdict: I would buy the full-size product.

Joan Vass L'eau de Améthyste

Photo from Birchbox

At first I wasn't sure about this because before I had even tried it, the musky patchouli description turned me off. However, once I sprayed it on a testing strip and waved it under my nose, I was intrigued. It wasn't a scent I would gravitate towards on any normal perfume sampling day, but I liked it. It was strong enough without overpowering my senses. I spritzed some on the inside of my wrists and then dabbed my neck in the morning, and while I could smell it throughout the day, it wasn't so much so that I felt like I had bathed in it. 

Verdict: I'll put it on my wish list. 

Previse HydroMilk
Photo from Birchbox

I always have a brief moment of hesitation before putting anything new on my face because I never know how it will react immediately after, a few hours after, or the next day. While I'm still not 100% sure how my skin is reacting to this one just yet, so far so good! I liked that it was lightweight, but it did seem to take a few minutes to sink in completely. Once it did though, it didn't leave my skin feeling too greasy. I loved the soft fragrance of flowers and I'm looking forward to seeing how it responds to a daytime use with makeup (I've only used it at night so far). At sixty bucks a pop, it's more than a little pricey, but if it works as good as it says it does, it might be worth it. 

Verdict: I like the scent, the feel, and the fact that it doesn't have a lot of icky stuff like silicones, petroleum, or synthesized oils. I'd buy it with my Birchbox points.

Ruby Wing Polish in Ride 'Em Cowgirl

Photo from Birchbox

This was a fun product to try. I knew I should have put on two coats when I first tried it, but since it went on clear, I figured I'd be golden. That is, until I stepped out into the beautiful sunshine and you could see where it didn't quite cover completely. Ooops! I've always been a fan of color changing things (like those color changing Vans shoes I once had), so this is the perfect thing for me. The
glitter doesn't apply as heavy as I'd like, but that's pretty typical. As soon as you step outside, it doesn't matter though because your nails go from clear to berry in a matter of seconds. Step back inside and they're back to clear. I don't know about you, but I think it's awesome! I'll be interested to see what kind of effect it has if I use a light colored polish beneath it first. We'll see! 

Verdict: LOVED it. I'd buy another color changing polish in a heartbeat. 

Birchbox, for me, keeps getting better and better because I'm constantly being introduced to products I wouldn't otherwise try. For a beauty products gal like me, it's been a dream come true. Looking forward to next month as always!


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Beauty Spotlight

It's no secret I adore Birchbox, but have you heard of Julep? Like Birchbox, it's a monthly box sent directly to your door, but instead of haircare, skincare, makeup, fragrances, etc., it's primarily nail polish or nail related products (it seems like they're branching out). Now I've only recently started painting my nails regularly, so while Birchbox is right up my alley, Julep isn't something I'm willing to invest in at the moment. My seester on the other hand, well, she's basically a nail polish connoisseur and my go-to manicurist.

Recently she painted my nails with Sadie, a dark, matte color with a sea salt finish. I fell in LOVE.

Photo from Julep

Julep describes it as a black lava sea salt finish, but quite frankly it reminds me of asphalt, which I strangely enjoy. It's got just enough glitter to keep me placated and just enough texture that it doesn't weird me when I absent-mindedly run my fingers over it. 

Also, it's crazy strong. I've talked about how nail polish doesn't really hold up too well on me, but two coats of this (even without a top coat) lasted 5+ days! A new record for me! Sometimes I'm lucky if a polish holds up 5 hours.  All in all, this is one of my favorite new polishes. Unfortunately, Julep has discontinued this particular sea color; however, if you go to their website and shop Nail Color, narrow the search by Finish and select Special Effects and then you'll find another sea salt version as well as a stardust finish, which is equally as enjoyable. 

Since I don't like to take no for an answer when I really want something, I did a little web searching and found an untested bottle for sale. It was reasonably priced and had free shipping, so I bought it! Best part is, now I won't have to steal my seester's bottle! 


Monday, February 24, 2014

Lille, Little Bite Bake Shop

On Valentine's Day I entered a contest...and I won! I was just as shocked as anyone else because although I have won a few other contests in recent months (the SF Birchbloggers dinner and a Birchbox private movie screening), my good luck cup doesn't exactly runneth over.

Anyway, the contest was for the Lille, (pronounced lee-lah) Little Bite Bake Shop reaching 300 likes on Facebook. I had already sampled the Fleur De Sel Creme Caramels from a family friend, so I knew they were delicious, but I really didn't think I'd get picked. I still took the chance, liked the page, left a comment, and shared the post. The next day I found out I had won and I was ecstatic! Although I was even more excited when they actually arrived!

Laurel and Jennee are the mother/daughter team behind the Lille shop and they are quite talented! While I've only tasted these delectable candies, the presentation of all of their other treats is pretty impressive. I mean, check out the detail on this cake...

Photo from Facebook

Isn't it absolutely gorgeous?!?

Or this holiday cake with tiny snowflakes and an impeccable poinsettia...

Photo from Facebook

They're almost too pretty to eat! And by almost, I mean they are beautiful, but I'd still eat each and every petal...after taking a photo for posterity. Honestly though, if their cakes taste half as good as they look, (or even half as good as the candies I won) they'll be doing just fine.

But back to the prize, these Fleur De Sel Creme Caramels are seriously amazing. They're soft and chewy, sweet with a little bit of sea salt and absolute perfection. I could eat the entire package in one sitting, but I'm practicing some self-control and making them last. After all, they're only available on holidays or special occasions so it's not like I can enjoy them whenever I want!

Thanks Lille Little Bite Bake Shop for sharing!!!


Friday, February 21, 2014

Simple Pleasures

Yesterday I thought it was Friday, so you can imagine my disappointment when I finally realized it wasn't. But, TODAY is Friday and I'm in great spirits. Here are my latest and greatest simple pleasures:

Boy or Girl

Photo from here

Now that my bestie has let the cat out of the bag and announced she's preggers, I can freely write about it (it's been killing me not to!). Today she finds out if she's having a boy or a girl and I honestly cannot wait to find out. The suspense is almost too much to bear! She'll be happy either way (as will I), but I have to say I'm especially looking forward to being a godmother!!! Now if only I didn't have to wait so long to find out!


Photo from here

I love a good haunted house, but this one must be seriously scary to have so many frightened faces! A visit to Niagra Falls is on my list of things to do in life, so while I'm there, I'm going to make sure I don't miss out on the Nightmares Fear Factory. I don't particularly like the thought of a hidden camera capturing my terrified expression, but these photos are truly hilarious.

Time for Taxes

Photo from here

This weekend my schedule is WIDE OPEN and I'm especially thankful for this because I have so many things I need to get done, like my taxes. Most people aren't exactly excited about doing their taxes, and quite frankly, neither am I, but I needed this weekend of nothingness so I could get it done in one swoop. It's a little more involved than simply entering the information from my W-2 form in since I'm a beauty consultant with Mary Kay and have a "thriving" acting career in the works, but I do it because I love it, not because it's a pain in the rear when tax season comes around. At least I can usually count on a decent refund! Also, I really need to get some cleaning and organizing in, so if I have some time left over, maybe I'll start spring cleaning a little early.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Lego Magic

This past weekend the fam and I went to see The LEGO Movie. I don't generally gravitate towards animated films when going to movies, but it was dad's choice, so that's what we saw! Overall, I enjoyed the flick and I definitely had some laughs. It wasn't just a kids movie! And I'm not afraid to admit that after a few minutes in, it definitely made me miss my LEGOs! Especially that little shark.

I can honestly say I loved LEGOs more than Barbies and I think that was evident by how many more hours I would spend building anything and everything as opposed to how little I pulled out the dolls. There was just something so magical about LEGOs that I couldn't get enough of them. Maybe it was the endless possibilities, but I definitely loved those things. In fact, I'd like to think I was much like the tomboyish girl in this ad who was just having fun making something new with her interlocking blocks.

I may not have been a "master builder," but I definitely enjoyed the creative process, even though I know I was awfully particular about the way I wanted things to be. I guess not much has changed!


Friday, February 14, 2014

Simple Pleasures

Happy Friday and Happy Valentine's Day!

Or as my seester likes to refer to it...Happy Sappy Day!!!

I decided it wouldn't be much of a Hallmark holiday if I didn't wear something with pink or red, so I added just a little pop of color today with the flowers on my blouse and my pink POP Beauty lipgloss in Floating Rose.

Getting into the Valentine's Day spirit with a floral top.

I can honestly say this is the first year that I haven't been heartbroken over not having a valentine. Okay, so heartbroken might be a little strong, but I'm surprisingly content about the whole "Love Day" thing. I'm genuinely not bitter that other people have significant others who are sending them flowers and balloons and little stuffed animals and chocolates because I have Valentine's day socks and that's a-ok with me! 

My Vday Socks

Besides, my bestie sent me a card that made me cry and that always trumps little stuffed animals. 

A beautiful, heart-warming card

Truly, I'm just happy to have people around me who love me and whom I love just as much. I mean, isn't that what today has really come to be about anyway?

And at the very least, I've got mad love for myself!


Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Day Before Valentine's Day

With only one more day until St. Valentine's Day, or as the unattached like to say, Singles Awareness Day, I have my own celebration taking place a day early.

Today is my 6 year anniversary at work.


While most of my more serious romantic relationships tend to spoil around the 2-year mark, this could very well be considered my longest relationship to date. For a girl who didn't want to make a single year commitment at this place, I sure have stuck around for a long time.

Truth is, six years isn't even all that great since I won't receive another week of vacation until next year. So, it's really just another tally mark next to the five I've already carved into the underside of my desk. I hate to say it, but I honestly don't anticipate hitting the decade mark here. And it's not a fear of being fired or "let go," it's that I don't have the desire to spend so many more years in a job I don't love.

I've been applying to jobs here and there and sadly (or fortunately, whatever your POV is) I haven't heard back from any of them.

Of course any large company is going to have an extra large amount of applicants, but I've been hopeful. I've had a few things going in my favor while applying, but so far it's just been radio silence. Also, I'm sure my location is a negative factor in some of these applications since I have been applying all over and not just up here in the Bay Area. This next job I apply to might have better results, but I have no idea how much it pays and I'm not sure how much of a cut in pay I'd be willing to accept. I guess I better figure that out soon.

Anyway, it's not like anyone knows I've been working here for half a dozen years, so I'm going to celebrate when I get home with a big glass of vino.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The ABCs of Bartending

A few weeks ago I saw a Groupon for a bartending course. I immediately toyed with the idea of signing up, but I put it off, figuring it was just a fleeting thought and desire. Then I went up to Portland (more on that later!) and came home feeling like I just needed to do something. So, I went ahead and signed up for said course and I'm so glad I did.

From ABC Bartending website

This past weekend was a whirlwind of learning at ABC Bartending School. Thankfully, I paired up with Troy The Personal Trainer right off because it made the entire process a whole lot more enjoyable since we were able to help each other along the way when we weren't doing something right or when we needed a memory jog.

Now I knew the 8-hour days would be long, but I didn't realize quite how tired I was going to be on Saturday night when I got home. According to my friend Tom...

Now, I wasn't exactly bartending for the entire time, but I believe his statement to be entirely true. My oh my was I ready for bed as soon as I walked through the door. So, before I moved to my room and climbed into my cozy bed at 9PM, I made up some flashcards before I lost the will to do so. After I drifted off to sleep, I kid you not, I dreamt of drink recipes for the entire night. It turns out that kind of studying really paid off because I suddenly knew how to make the drinks that were troubling me. Seriously, if there were a way to study in my sleep like that ALL the time, I would be multilingual in NO time.

Anyway, Day Two seemed to fly by even more quickly than Day One and I even stayed a little late to do a walk through with the tropical drinks. Troy and I also started talking with a girl from up north, Katelyn The Future Eye Doctor, and she was fantastic. It was fun to have another person added to our team and it certainly helped us both because she just started training at work to be a bartender and gave us hope that we could potentially do the same.

I don't know if I'll be pursuing this avenue as a part-time job or not, but if I'm confident in my skills and if I pass the test, I'll likely look into it. A perk about this particular ABC Bartending school in San Leandro? The teacher, Kenny, gives you the opportunity to guest bartend at an actual bar. So while we're currently working with colored water in bottles in class, this will allow us to further our experience and also learn some things we can't possibly learn in a classroom setting, you know, like serving actual patrons.

I'm going to have to draw out my educational experience because I don't have the availability to finish the course this next weekend, but I'm going to make sure I study up so I don't forget any of the information I've already learned. Plus it'll give me extra time to really nail down those drink recipes in my sleep.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Almost Argyle

Yesterday I was doing a little online shopping on Gilt when I came across a sweater I absolutely loved. I don't gravitate towards argyle type patterns, but this one was oversized and more my style.

Photo from Gilt

It was a little pricey at $139, but I had a coupon code to take off another 30%. Even at just under a hundred dollars I felt it was a bit much, but my shopaholic side was kicking in and I would've bought it. Except after adding it to my basket, I went back to double check what it was made out of because I just had a feeling it was going to have some wool in it. I can't stand 5% wool, let alone 82%, so I said bye bye to that cute sweater and didn't look back.

Then, after work, my mom and I stopped by the Nordstrom Rack and I started looking for a much needed pair of black pants to replace the American Rag ones I donated. In the process, I naturally started browsing through the tops and that's when I magically discovered this little beauty from Halogen and I knew it was fate.

It wasn't too hard to convince myself I needed this sweater in my wardrobe. The price was right, too. At $24.97, it was a steal. How could I possibly say no?? Besides, I'm already wearing it and it's wonderful. 

As a general rule, I usually steer clear of anything that has wool, or angora, or cashmere, or anything animal fur related because no matter how soft it is, it generally irritates my sensitive skin, but the 5% cashmere in this sweater seems to be working out alright. So far so good! Maybe now I'll finally ditch the faded black sweater I haven't been able to part with!


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Palm Springs - The Food

Exceptional food has a tendency to stay fresh within my memory. A couple of nights ago I had some french fries at the Englander and they were reminiscent of those fabulous fries I had in Palm Springs at The Viceroy. One thing led to another and now I'm thinking back on all of the fantastic food I ate while in the desert, like the naan flat bread at the hotel bar. Just thinking about it is making my mouth water.

Besides the hotel fries and our morning Starbucks ritual, we ventured out to Las Casuelas Terraza for some Mexican food. We nibbled on chips, salsa, and to die for guacamole while we waited for our entrees and watched part of the ball game that was airing in the bar. I went for the two-item dinner option and got a cheese enchilada and a chile relleno with rice and refried beans. It was far too much food for me to eat, especially after filling up on chips, but the food was pretty darn good. While it certainly wasn't El Patio, it was a great option and I wouldn't mind eating there on the next trip.

I also had dinner at Maracas one evening, and while I thoroughly enjoyed my margaritas, the Poor Juan bean and cheese burrito was just so-so. Their chips and salsa, however, were great.

Another evening my seester and I stumbled across Bill's Pizza. It's incredibly hard for me to turn down pizza for any meal and it's even harder when it's a restaurant that's not a chain.

The Elton John Pizza

I nearly went for my own custom selection of toppings, but then I saw the Elton John pizza and I knew I had to take a chance on it. It comes with garlic infused olive oil sauce, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, cooked spinach, red onion, and four cheeses plus feta. It's no secret that I have a love affair with feta, so it was basically a necessity for me to order that pizza at that point. The crust was perfectly crisp and soft all at the same time and the flavors melded together in a way that made me want to eat the entire thing in one sitting. I practiced some self-control, however, and ate it the following morning for breakfast. I've gotta say, it was still pretty amazing cold!

On our shopping day it was quite warm, so we stopped for a much needed cool treat at Lappert's Ice Cream. I had never had a Dole Whip before and my seester, who was raving about them, hadn't had one since she went to Disneyland years ago, so we made sure to check it out before heading back to the pool. One taste of hers and I knew I'd be forking out the money for one. It was the perfect amount of fruity, pineapple sweetness to quench my thirst and leave me satisfied. Not to mention, any drink with a tiny umbrella makes me giggle in delight.

Dole Whip

Finally, on our last evening there, we indulged in a fancier meal and had a delicious dinner at The Kaiser Grille. We sat out on the patio, sipped on Brambles, and noshed on a delicious appetizer of heirloom tomatoes and mozzarella cheese picked by our waiter. For the entrees, T went for the steak medallions, while I chose the seared ahi with sautéed mushrooms on a bed of risotto. Just like feta, I have a profound love for risotto and this often becomes the tipping point when deciding on what dish I feel like dining on.

The risotto was incredibly rich and the ahi was exactly what I was craving. I finished off as much as I could, but there came a point where I just couldn't possibly eat another bite because I was stuffed and it was so rich. This meal was definitely one of the highlights!

There were so many aspects of Palm Springs I enjoyed, but the food was certainly one of them. I'm still looking forward to returning for a bunch of reasons, but especially to try some more amazing food!