Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Recap: Sadder, Thinner, Poorer

As a long time Sundry reader, I have been doing this meme in some form since 2008, but only 2011 exists on this blog (2008 and 2009 here; no idea what happened to 2010).  I stick to the old questions to remain consistent, so it might look a little different from the version she does today.  To sum it up Tessie style, in 2012 I was sadder, thinner, and poorer.  Definitely a depressing year but 2013 WILL be better (it HAS TO BE, right?)   

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?

This is the first year I met up with internet friends, attending both PJs@TJ’s and the Blathering.  I also had coffee with Ashley, who lives 2 minutes away from me (she is ADORABLE, you guys, and such a sweetheart).  I did the Couch to 5K program, ran 5.5 miles in the Akron Marathon Relay, and ran a legit 5K.  I lost 20 pounds from stress and went to therapy for the first time.  I had amazing conversations with my beautiful, intelligent daughter while getting millions of kissies from my last baby ever.  

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I made four resolutions last year: 

  1. I will keep a cleaner house.  I think I spectacularly failed at this one until a few months ago, and but I have my act together now and have made new habits that will carry on in 2013.  

  2. I will be a better wife, mom, daughter, and friend.  I was the best wife and mother I knew how to be this year.  I could have been a better daughter and friend - I had a lot to deal with emotionally and all I could really do was focus my efforts on my immediate family.  I will work on extending this to everyone else in my life in 2013, especially my mom (she deserves it!)

  3. I will be more thoughtful.  I think this was probably a fail.  I did a little better about acknowledging birthdays and anniversaries and sending thank you cards, but I still have a long way to go.  Again, I was pretty focused on my immediate family in 2012.  

  4. I will care more about my appearance.  This was a definite yes, what with the makeup craziness.  Clothing-wise, I think Elizabeth was instrumental in helping me understand what works for my body and what doesn't.  I'd say 95% of the time I look put together at work, which is about a 75% improvement. 

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

This is so weird, but I'm going to have to say no!  Every baby I know was born in 2011, and is well on their way to not being called a baby anymore (internet babies excluded).  [Edited: Oh my goodness, I forgot about my coworker and friend N's little boy!  There were 4 of us that all went through our first pregnancies together, so I keep wanting to group him in with the 2011 second babies.  Which is silly, he's still a wee little guy.  Aww.  Congrats to N!]

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Yes, my hilarious and talented uncle Joe passed away in January.  I miss him.

5. What countries did you visit?

Just this one.  I went to Phoenix, Hilton Head, Atlantic City, and New Orleans for fun, and to Columbus, Chicago, and Harrisburg for work.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?

I would like to have peace - no more stress, please.  And strength, which I think I definitely exhibited in 2012, but it's my word of the year so obviously I'd like more of it :)

7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

August 11 and September 3 were fairly traumatic for unbloggable reasons.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Not freaking out when I had every right to, and staying strong for my family.  I am also ridiculously proud of participating in the relay.  

9. What was your biggest failure?

Not letting things go as quickly as I would like to.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

My hip has been wonky ever since the marathon, and it feels like I have been in a constant state of illness since October (omg the great barforama of 2012, let's never experience THAT again).

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Funny, I can't think of any single major purchase this year.  I can think of lots of makeup examples, but I am saving those for a Best of 2012 post.  Probably Brave, because Merida is the best princess ever and I could watch it a zillion times (which is handy, as that is approximately how many times Adriana will want to watch it).

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

My brother - he finally quit Barnes & Noble after seven(!) years and got a legit design job.  I couldn't be more proud of him!

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Keeping it blank this year (not for lack of an answer).

14. Where did most of your money go?

Most of my discretionary spend went to travel, makeup, and clothes, the rest to household bills and stuff for the girls.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

My bloggy gatherings!

16. What song will always remind you of 2012?

We did an embarrassing amount of family dance parties to Call Me Maybe and Gangham Style.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

– happier or sadder? Sadder
– thinner or fatter? Thinner
– richer or poorer? Poorer

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

I wish I had been able to identify some large issues early on in the year before things got out of control.  But honestly, I don't think I could have done anything differently, so I'll say cleaning.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Losing my patience with Adriana, and dwelling on the past.    

20. How did you spend Christmas?

We did 6 Christmases in 3 days.  It was exhausting.  I will try to do a quickie recap soon.

21. Did you fall in love in 2012?

No, but I think I realized that I truly do love Justin unconditionally.  And he knows it too now, so that's good.    

22. What was your favorite TV program?

I probably get the most enjoyment out of Hart of Dixie and the Bachelor/ette/Pad.  We just got Hulu Plus so I'm catching up on the Real World and The Challenge.  I love crap tv.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? 

There is a certain person who will probably get punched in the vagina if she ever crosses my path.

24. What was the best book you read?

Ooh, I read a lot of good ones this year but I'd have to say I most enjoyed Gone Girl, In the Woods, 50 Shades, and Bared to You.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Hmm.  Not a single musical discovery comes to mind, yet again.  Why am I so laaaaaaaaaame?

26. What did you want and get? 

A third week of vacation. All of the makeup and beauty subscriptions a junkie could ask for.  An electric blanket.  Lots of great memories with my girlies.      

27. What did you want and not get?

The Urban Decay Naked Basics palette.  A promotion. Kept promises.  A family vacation with my husband.

28. What was your favorite film this year?

Brave was probably my favorite.  We also saw and enjoyed Looper, the Hunger Games (was that this year?), and Wreck it Ralph.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I was 33. I should probably start blogging about my birthdays, as I can't remember what we did this year either.  I do recall the license plate fiasco though.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

A time machine.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?

Boots, tights, and dresses in the winter, skinny jeans and t shirts in the summer.

32. What kept you sane?

I didn't do a very good job of staying sane, but you guys certainly helped.  For everyone who was there for me this year, you have no idea how much it means to me.  Thank you for listening, for not judging, and for offering your honest opinions.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Christian Grey?  Haha.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

Too self centered to be stirred, even in an election year.  I suck.

35. Who did you miss?

I had to spend a few weeks away from my family due to work this year, and I missed them like crazy.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

Too many to count!  Megan, Lacey, and Heather, my e-bffs, definitely get a shout out though :)

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.

No matter how bad life can fucking suck, I'm strong enough to handle it, and it does get better.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.


There you have it! If you also do this meme, link to your post in the comments!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Julep New Year's Mystery Box 2 Review

I hope you all have been enjoying the holidays!  The Diniwilk fam had a great time at our six (6!) Christmas celebrations, and are all recovering today.  At least I hope so.  I might have to have words with my mom if she doesn't make Adriana take a nap even though she's NOT (sob) TIRED (sob).  omg.

Just thought you might want to see what I got in my "best mystery box ever".  It shipped at the 9405 tracking code instead of the 9400, which means it was heavier than the regular monthly box (on a normal month, that's the code that miiiiiiiiiight indicate a golden box).  The receipt said this was mystery box 2.  Intriguing.  

The goodies were tucked in a Julep bag - I have like 5 of these bad boys now.  

The product was the Age Defying Hand Brightener.  I also have amassed several of these, but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE them.  My hands feel so soft now that I've started regularly using it.  

I also received a glitter pot, 3 one-step polish remover single packs, and three of the glycolic hand scrub packs.  I think I lucked out slightly here since other people got more of the brightener, or only 2 packs.  Not that one extra foil packet will make a ton of difference, but I really like that scrub and these are perfect for travel.  

This is an awful picture - my house is ridiculously dark in the winter.  I got an unnamed mystery glitter, Isla, Hoch, the matte top coat, and Portia.  I already had the last two, but whatever.  I was pretty excited to get Hoch, since I had just had a long discussion about how pretty it was with my friend Erica (I love sucking real life friends into subbing).  I will post pictures and reviews here as I try them (I'm still really feeling the December glitters, so it might be a while).  

Technically the bag is $5, but I think counting that towards the value of the box is lame since no one would ever actually buy one.  Same for the packets - those come free with any order.  The glitter pots are $2 ($1.53 if you're a maven), the polishes are $14 ($11.20) each, and the hand brightener is $32 ($25.60), so the box is worth $104 at the regular price or $83.13 if you are a maven.  Not bad for $19.99, but I wish they wouldn't GUARANTEE $100 worth of stuff if it wouldn't really cost that much to buy it from the website.

I didn't get the mini ipad, and, as far as I can tell, that's the only box that was worth $500.  

Based on the makeuptalk thread, here is what other people got:

Mystery Box 1:
Julep bag
Mystery glitter
Matte Coat
silver glitter pot
Brightening Lotion
various sample packets like everyone else

Mystery Box 3:
Pedi creme
Matte Top Coat
The mystery glitter
Blue glitter pot
2 nail polish remover pads
2 packets of the glycolic hand scrub

Mystery Box 4:
Pedi Creme
Boho Glam Mascara
Mystery glitter polish
3 packettes of polish remover & 2 of hand creme

Mystery Box 5:
Full size SPF 30 Daylight Defense
3x Nail Remover pads
1x packet glycolic hand scrub
White glitter pot
Unnamed glitter

Mystery Box 6:
Boris & Nicole (I assume this means Nicole and is an error)
mystery glitter
full size hand brightener lotion
dark blue glitter pot
a bunch of foil packets containing a medley of items.

I would have had dupes no matter which box I had received.  I think Mystery Box 4 was the best one, since it had both the Pedi Creme and the mascara.  I think it's kind of crazy that there wasn't much variation on the boxes - they basically all hit right around the $100 mark (box 4 was probably more like $125).  

I think these mystery boxes are lots of fun (even when I get dupes) and are an amazing deal.  I don't know why Julep feels like they have to mislead with their marketing, implying that there might actually be boxes with up to $500 in products - it really hurts their credibility.  I wish they would have just said that it was around $75-125 worth of stuff, depending on if you were a maven or not, and that one person would also receive a mini ipad.  I honestly think people would be just as likely to buy it, and then you don't have to deal with the community (and yes, we beauty box subscribers ARE a community) feeling slightly shafted.   

Dear Julep, 
It's SO MUCH MORE FUN when everyone gets completely different boxes, with a wide range of polish, products, and value.  Whatever box it was that had the random $60 or $200 gift cards (Spring 2011 maybe)?  DO THAT AGAIN!  The whole lottery aspect is what makes the mystery boxes different from the monthly boxes and keeps us coming back for more.  
Love, Laura

So I feel kind of dumb that I fell for the lame marketing trick, but it's not like I was really expecting a $500 box.  Would I do it again?  Probably.  Should I do it again?  Not for the polish, too many dupes.  I do love getting my products at a discount though.  I have yet to meet a Julep product I don't love.  

Don't forget to enter the Julep contest for $432 worth of polish and products here (be sure to mention the Diniwilks!!!!), and to stop on over to my contest afterwards.  I am pretty sure I'm not winning anymore, so the help would be very much appreciated!!!

Friday, December 21, 2012

2012 Year in Review: Birchbox

Now that I have my last Birchbox of the year (and my annual subscription is over - thanks for the year of presents, Justin!), I thought it would be a good time to look back at the last year and ask the important question - is Birchbox really worth it?

Scroll down past the pics and quickie reviews if you want to know the best and worst of 2012!

January:  Meh.  

February: Meh.  And also lol at the eyeliner.  This is the month everyone else got a beautyblender and I was muy jealous.  
March: The Teen Vogue was my first good box of the year.  I already owned that Luxeffects Nail polish, but was fine with getting a double since Adriana loves that one.  
 April: This box was pretty decent, love the Pangea Organics stuff.
May: Can't argue with a full-sized Stila.  2/2 on a good partnership box.  Full review here.  
June: This box was okay, but it wasn't worth squat and the Dr. Jart was completely empty.  Full review here.   
July: The Glamour partnership was another solid box, 3/3.  I was happy to try out the blinc mascara even though it didn't work out for me.  This right here is why I love sample many people had recommended the blinc to me that I would have considered shelling out the $24 for it.  Which is TOO MUCH for a mascara, so I would have landed on no and always wondered what I was missing out on.  I got to try a decent sample of it thanks to BB, and now I know I don't love it without spending anything extra.  Yay!  
August: This box had two of my all time favorite products of the year - the Miss Jessie's Quick Curls and the Pixi Beauty Lid Last Shadow Pen.  LOVE.  
September: Meh.  But I was happy to get the brush guards, have been kind of wanting them since Michelle Phan featured them in her brush cleaning tutorial video.  
October: Meh.  The goop box was the first partnership box I didn't love (3/4 ain't bad).  But I just realized something.  Even though I have always thought I hate getting nail polish in monthly subs other than Julep, I actually really like all of the colors Birchbox has ever sent me.  So I think I just don't like getting nail polish from MyGlam/Ipsy (I was so pissed they kept shoving the Andrea's Choice down our throats).  
November: This box pissed me off (hotel soap, omfg), yet it did have one awesome product and one pretty good full size product, so I kind of like it better in retrospect.  Full review here.   
December: Meh to meh plus (it's growing on me after seeing some of the earlier, truly meh boxes).  Full review here.  

Okay, so to recap, I had 2 boxes I loved, 3 I liked, 1 that I liked but was so cheapo that it's hard to admit that, 5 that were meh, and 1 box that made me violently angry but was okay in retrospect.  I didn't HATE hate any of them.  

I received 6 full size products over the course of the year (2 nail polish, 1 lip balm, 1 eyeliner, 1 eye shadow stick, 1 mascara).  

I got 15 antiaging / facial items, 15 makeup products, 9 perfume samples, 4 hair products, 4 nail products, 4 food items, 8 random items, and 2 twistbands.  

Best box: August!  I was SO EXCITED to get the Miss Jessie's (LOVE), the pixi pen was a pleasant surprise and is the key to my smoky eye look, the perfume was fun to try, the makeup remover was a win because I love innovatively gimmicky products (that's totally a thing), and who WOULDN'T want a razor?  This might be the only month of the entire year where I actually USED every last product.  

Worst box: This is tough, but I'm going to have to go with February (the Oscar Blandi saved November).  The samples were tiny so it was impossible to tell if I'd actually want to repurchase any of it.  The eyeliner stickers were pointless (but entertaining, I'll give them that), and the colorescience puff thing was just terrible.  

Best value box: Out of the months I tracked, May wins with a whopping $52 thanks to the full size Stila.

Worst value box: June was barely worth the $10 for the box, at a mere $14.  Lame.

Second runner up, worst product: The larabar.  If you MUST give me food (please don't), it should at least be more than a tiny bite!

First runner up, worst product: The hotel soap.  I really wanted to make it the VERY worst, as Birchbox is a total asshole for giving me leftover soap that was packaged for hotels, but the product itself wasn't terrible.  

Winner, worst product: February's colorescience pro not only has a ridiculous spelling*, but it's the most worthless product ever.  Somehow the fact that it was in a puff didn't fix the "mineral makeup gets all the f over the place" issue (perhaps because the case was a chintzy piece of junk).  And it was a really weird color, indicating that BB completely ignored my profile (or that there wasn't a box for "pasty").  *I see it's made by the creator of bare escentuals, so that makes sense.  Somebody get her spellcheck!

Second runner up, best product: Miss Jessie's quick curls.  This is a GREAT product for keeping curl without making your hair all gross and crunchy, and it smells amazing.  I had been eyeing it at Target but didn't want to spend so much money.  So glad I was able to try it out so I could make an informed purchase!

First runner up, best product: The Pangea organics lip balm was a pleasant surprise.  It really keeps my lips moisturized, leaving them soft but not sticky or slimy.  It smells delicious (citrusy and savory at the same time).  This is something I never would have picked up on my own, so I loved trying it.  Would definitely repurchase it if I didn't have a billion other balms to work my way through first.

Winner, best product: Oscar Blandi Texture and Volume Spray.  It turns out that I already had some of this from the Allure Fall Beauty Box, but I hadn't tried it until I got it in BB.  This stuff is AMAZING - will hold your hair for days.  I love, love, love having the little travel size so I don't have to lug it to the gym.  LOVE.  

Winner, best Birchbox-related tweet of the year: @ericahuff (this still makes me giggle):

So is it worth it, subscribing to a service where you only like half of what they give you (more like 1/4 if you do it on an individual product basis)?  Well, to me it is.  I love getting it in the mail, I love blogging and talking about it with you guys via twitter, text, and email, I love getting excited about new products and learning what products to avoid.  I feel like it saves me money in the long run because it curbs my random beauty impulse shopping.  $10 a month is one less lunch out, and I'd ABSOLUTELY sacrifice that for the Birchbox experience.  Even when I hate it, I still love to hate it.   

Word of the Year

Emily does this cool thing every year where she picks a word to focus on rather than resolutions, and then gets a ring to wear as a daily reminder.  My approach to resolutions is a little different.  I try to think about three or four main goals, and then make a to do list that will help me achieve those goals.  Starting narrow then going broad works for me.  However, I think that after the year I've had, it would be good to have a constant reminder of what is most important to me in addition to my resolutions and list.

So now I have sort of a resolution snowman.  I actually think the symbolism works - I want my word on my mind, my resolve in my gut, and my list to move me forward.  

I have done a lot of thinking about my word.  A word that has helped me through a past difficult situation was strength, and it equally applies here.  2012 was a year of ups and downs, strengthwise.  I learned I was much stronger than I ever thought possible, but I also showed extreme weakness during times when that strength ran out.  I want to keep my strength up in 2013, all of the time (or at least as much as humanly possible).

I want to strengthen my marriage so nothing will ever break us apart.

I want to stay strong for my girls so they have a positive female role model and always feel happy and safe and loved.

I want to rebuild my physical strength, working on my core, my pelvic floor, my hip, and my knees.  I need to fix those things before I go too crazy with the 30 day shred and running goals.  

I need to replenish my emotional strength.  Sometimes it feels like I am at my limit and there is only so much I can take.  I want my word to carry me through the times when everything seems too hard.  

I want to demonstrate my mental strength, keeping focused on my job, kicking butt on the upcoming cases, and minimizing any distractions.  

If you had to pick a word for 2013, what would it be?  

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Made Cake From Scratch, Am Superwoman

I am 33 years old, but I think I spend a lot of time as a college student in my head.  I don't know what it is about baking a cake from scratch, but, like cooking thanksgiving, this is one of those things that makes me feel like a real grown-up and someone who is actually qualified to be a wife and mother.  If you are also lacking a lot of these moments, find a recipe that involves creaming butter and sugar, or whipping egg whites into stiff peaks.  Laughing at the innuendos makes you lose points, but your success upon completion (heh) totally makes up for it.  And then you have cake.  Win win.       

I added "Bake a birthday cake for Justin" to my 101 in 1001 list and my 2012 to do list because he once made an offhand comment about how no one has ever baked him a cake.  It was a long time ago, and I don't remember WHY no one ever baked him a cake (storebought cake?  brownies instead?  i have no idea), but it stuck.  I really wanted to bake him a cake for his 30th birthday.  And boxed cake doesn't count.  

I am one of those people who registered for a KitchenAid mixer because everyone registers for a KitchenAid mixer in a fit of laser-gun toting power, not because I am actually knowledgeable or non-lazy enough to use it.  So when I went to bake the cake at like 10pm on a Monday night, it seemed like too much work to finally open the box (assuming I could find it) for the first time in three and a half years of marriage so I could teach myself how to use the damn thing.  So not only did I bake a cake from scratch, I mixed it with my own two hands.  I am superwoman.

German chocolate cake is his favorite, so I went with this recipe.  Justin couldn't find any cake flour (what, you don't send your husband out to buy the ingredients for his own cake?), so I used all purpose flour.  I also ran out of butter (oops) so I used some country crock in the filling.  Gross, right?  I can't imagine why it didn't set properly.  And was a bizarre yellow color.

I also ran into some issues with the chocolate - I kind of burnt it so it didn't really drizzle.  Whatever.  Erica liked this picture on instagram so clearly I am a cooking success.  The only thing that could top that is if Martha Stewart herself gave me her blessing.  

Wire racks are for sissies
Despite all of the issues, this cake was fucking delicious.  Look, even the hubs agrees!

And also, I am a dork.

January 2012 Julep Maven Preview

Boo, January's Julep Maven theme is "Escape", and it features neons and nudes.  I haaaaaaaaaaate neons - they are not flattering with my skin tone, and they are just not my taste (give me darky vampy reds or stormy grays all day, especially in the dead of winter).  I am a fan of nudes, but every single nude this month is a sheer or frosty pink.  Bleh.  

For the first time since the Trina Turk collection, I'm really, really, really tempted to skip the month (but that was under the old referral program, which made you use up your referral points and not skip).  I kind of want the hand and cuticle stick, but I can always get it later through a mystery box or secret store or some other method Julep has to reel me in.  Plus I have approximately 11 zillion of the cuticle oils, so it's not like my hands will suffer if I skip it.

If I do get one, it will be Classic With A Twist - Grace, Madison, and the Hand and Cuticle Stick, for 2000 of my precious Jules (thanks again for everyone who subscribed using my referral link!) 

Here is a screenshot of the nail wardrobe: 

Here is a screenshot of the add-ons...$14.99 for the polish and $4.99 for the swatch me stickers, which have a cute backstory (they are inspired by an 8 year old maven).  I kind of like the sand and seashells set, but not enough to buy.  Also, I can't figure out how to tell what the names of the colors in the sets are...some of these look like they are from June's Brights.      
It looks like golden box winners will get their regular box, 5 of the 6 neons (not Nina), a $25 Havaiana gift card, and a "pedi-friendly bonus gift". 

I'm leaning towards skipping and saving my Jules, since I bought the nail wardrobe in December and the January Mystery Box.  It's not like I will run out of polish if I miss one month :)

I don't know, is it just me - do you guys love neons?  Or are you also little disappointed after the November and December awesomeness?  Any regular skippers out there, or do you feel like you need to get something every month? 

Don't forget to enter the Julep contest for $432 worth of polish and products here (be sure to mention the Diniwilks!!!!), and to stop on over to my contest afterwards.  I think my blog has the most referrals so far (squeeeeeeeee!!!!)(and THANK YOU), let's keep it that way!

***Update: After checking the swatches on the Julep blog, I think I will probably go ahead and get the Bombshell box with my Jules.  So glad they post those swatches - it completely changed my mind!!!  Also not sure why I didn't check BEFORE I posted this.  Brain fart.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

December 2012 Birchbox Review

My hilarious friend / fellow beauty nerd Carla (@charliesue) asked me what I thought about this month's birchbox, and I totally ignored her so now she gets all of my thoughts here.  This is why I will never be good at Twitter - not enough characters!

But I can sum it up in 11 characters before I ramble in greater length:

It was meh.

So Ipsy for the win in December.  But we knew that already, right?

Date of arrival: I can't remember exactly, maybe the 12th?

Packaging: BB had a fancy new box for the holidays, which apparently is the first time they ever changed the little brown box itself.  Cute.  They also included a gift tag.  Why do you keep insisting I give away all of my goodies, Birchbox???

Theme: This month's theme is "All Wrapped Up", which I get from the packaging, but not so much the samples.  The samples this month are supposed to "help you look and feel your best", as does the Rent the Runway promo (code BRCHBX50 gets you $50 off a $125 rental).  I feel like they kind of phoned in the theme.  

Contents / mini reviews: Eye gels, chocolate, shampoo, hand salve, blush.  I was so underwhelmed I have yet to try out most of the products.  

I am, however, fairly excited to try out the frownies eye gels.  I am envisioning a luxurious bath with these on my eyes and earplugs in my ears, perhaps while eating the chocolate.  

I have some other Nick Chavez stuff from my BeautyFix days (I really miss that sub, cancelled only due to $$ and sample overflow), but I haven't tried any of it out.  I feel kind of meh about getting shampoo samples; I never rush to try them out, I just use them up one at a time for travel and in my gym bag.   

My cuticles are always crazy dry in the winter, so I did try out the J.R. Watkins hand salve.  I prefer the Lush lemony flutter cuticle butter, Burt's Bees Lemon cuticle balm, and Julep cuticle oil, and pretty much any other cuticle product I own over this.  It was really wet and took forever to sink in.  Would definitely not repurchase.  F

I didn't try out theBalm's Hot Mama blush yet, as I have apparently lost all of my brushes (and because Captain RosaceaFace is still scared of blush).  I am always excited to get theBalm in my box - they have quality stuff and the packaging is just so darn cute! 
Value:  Birchbox really cheaped out on this one - $17.62.  D

Click to enlarge
Overall impression of the box:  I got Box 7, you can see all of the boxes here.  I think my dream box for the month is Box 23 - totally would love the atomizer + theBalm + benefit, and would prefer a dry shampoo over the regular kind.  Box 7 didn't offend me - I was excited about two products, hated one, and didn't care about two.  I really, really, really wish they would stop giving us chocolate.  I know it's an extra, but I really don't want food.  And this was a cheapo box, so I'd give it a C-.  

Overall impression of the service:  No change since November, B+.

Which box did you get?  Love or love to hate Birchbox?  Any of these products intrigue you?   

Don't forget to enter the Julep contest for $432 worth of polish and products here (be sure to mention the Diniwilks!!!!), and to stop on over to my contest afterwards.  Ends 12/31.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Julep Gold Glamour Mystery Clutch Review and New Year's Mystery Box Preview

Julep is KILLING ME with these mystery bags!  I caved on the Gold Glamour Mystery Clutch (the only 12 days of gifting email that got me - I even passed on the mystery wristlet).

Mine was the standard one that most people got.  It included a 10 pack of the polish remover pads, 2 glitter pots, the spf 30 Daylight Defense, and 3 polishes.  I already owned Sharon and Kathleen (Sharon reviewed here), but I didn't have Popova from the Trina Turk collection.  I was a little disappointed that two of the polishes were repeated from the Glitter and Glow collection, but they are super pretty and are great stocking stuffers.  

Based on the contents alone, I wouldn't recommend the Gold Glamour Mystery Clutch, which still appears to be available for $29.99 (unless you really love the colors). HOWEVER, the clutch itself is FABULOUS.  Love the sequins, love the leopard print lining, it's decently constructed, and it's padded so it would make the cutest kindle or ipad mini case EVER.  I love it and think that alone made it worth the price.

So I was just promising to myself that I won't do the next round of mystery boxes since the clutch wasn't quite what I hoped for when I get an email advertising the New Year's Mystery Box, which guarantees $100-$500 worth of products (compared to the usual $60-$200):

 And, as if that wasn't enough, THEY ARE GIVING A MINI IPAD TO SOMEONE.  

This probably really is the "best mystery box yet" and it's not just the Julep equivalent of the most exciting rose ceremony ever.  


So I'm in, obviously.  Anyone else joining me?

Don't forget to enter the Julep contest for $432 worth of polish and products here (be sure to mention the Diniwilks!!!!), and to stop on over to my contest afterwards.  I think my blog has the most referrals so far (squeeeeeeeee!!!!)(and THANK YOU), let's keep it that way!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

December 2012 Ipsy / Glam Bag Review - Part 2

See Part 1 here.  

Yay, I finally got to play with my Glam Bag products!  Now I want to talk about them, so you get to get ready with me while we chat.  Not literally.  Just for the purposes of this blog post.    

This is what I look like after I've showered and done my normal rosacea skin care routine.  Awesome, right?

It's time for someone's eyebrow wax
I am not much of a primer person, but I do know that a little goes a long way.  I have never used the Mirabella Face and Eye fact, I don't think I have ever tried out any Mirabella products at all.  If I've received them from a past subscription service, it's still sitting around untouched.  

Primed, I am still red but less shiny.  The Mirabella Prime went on very smooth...I love the way silicone-based primers feel on the skin - so luxurious!  I should probably make a primer part of my daily routine.

Someone over at makeuptalk posted the following video from Goss Makeup Artist (love him) about why you should only combine silicone-based primers with silicone-based foundations, not water-based.  It involves science, and was therefore a total OH, DUH, WHY DID I NOT THINK OF THAT moment for me.  

Armed with my newfound knowledge, I searched for a compatible foundation.

Haha, just kidding!  I was totally dying to try the Urban Decay Naked Skin Beauty Balm out.  I don't care what it's made of, I slapped it on right over the Mirabella Prime.

I used this much twice, then dabbed a bit extra on the areas I'd use concealer if I were less lazy
The BB Cream had a very nice texture and scent - kind of minty.  Weird for something going on my face, but I liked it.  It wasn't cakey at all, applied smoothly, but just is not enough coverage for my crazy rosacea face.  It would be something I'd put on for a weekend day sitting around the house.

Since I had to go to work and therefore look presentable (aka not bright red), I slapped on a layer of my beloved MAC studio fix powder over top.  It didn't really turn me yellow (I was in a rush and didn't notice how bad that shot was, sorry!), but it did actually make me think I could get away with the BB Cream on the regular.  The primer and beauty balm were a great base for the powder, and my skin looked pretty and smooth and not cakey at all.  I hope it has staying power, this could be a game changer!

I blow dried and straightened my hair, then went off to work to answer some emails before I could sneak off to finish my makeup.  Time management is not my strongest skill.  

I don't own many loose shadows, but my stint with Bare Minerals prepared me for how to not make a total mess when applying them.  I grabbed a little container from a shower set so I could dump some of the NYX Ultra Pearl Mania in Mink Pearl into it.  I probably needed a flatter brush to really pack it on, but I wanted a more subtle effect for work so I just used the London Soho New York Smudge Brush Ipsy gave us a few months ago.  It's a really nice brush for getting a nice wash of color all over the lid in addition to the regular smokey eye use.     

Unfortunately, the shadow did not photograph well AT ALL.  This color is really's a golden toned brown (or a brown toned gold?).  I have been obsessing with gold looks for the holidays, but the brown tones down the gold and makes is much more appropriate for daily use.    It is really SO MUCH PRETTIER on in real life than I have shown here.  

I finished the look with the Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Zero.  This is already my go-to eyeliner, so I obviously am a fan.  I prefer preversion to zero for a blacker black, but zero is a good daytime back.  The UD eyeliners go on very smoothly and are highly pigmented.  

The Be A Bombshell gloss in Hot Mess (still the best name ever) is not as shockingly red on the lips as it is in the bottle.  It's a very wearable red, which is perfect for someone like me who isn't very adventurous in lip colors.  It has a bid of a weird scent, but it isn't sticky.  It came off all over my diet coke, but has decent staying power if you aren't pressing your sweet sweet caffeine dispenser up to it every 8 seconds.   

Before on the left, after on the right
And now for the part where I make a zillion stupid faces in an attempt to show you the makeup. Unfortunately, the one with the very stupidest face is the only one where you can really see it.  Hello, internet.  Meet my stupid face.  I hope you like its makeup.  

And now for the ratings...

Mirabella Prime: I feel like I don't wear primer enough to be really qualified, but my face makeup is holding up well after a few hours, which I never would have guessed would be possible with an american beauty balm replacing my full coverage foundation.  So I'd repurchase it, and I'll give it an A-.  

Urban Decay Naked Skin Beauty Balm: It isn't the best choice for my rosacea, so I wouldn't repurchase.  The scent is nice, it applies smoothly, doesn't cake...but I have to give it a B- for the lack of coverage.  It would be in the A range if I was looking for a minimal coverage, "my skin but better" type of balm.  

NYX Ultra Pearl Mania in Mink Pearl:  So pretty!  I want all 10!  A

Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil: My holy grail pencil liner, will definitely repurchase.  A+

Be A Bombshell Lip Gloss in Hot Mess: A for the name, for the gloss.  Just okay, I'll use it up but won't likely repurchase.  

Note that I haven't tried out the Mai Couture papers.  It looked like it might be too orange / weirdly colored for a daytime highlight, so I didn't want to risk it while at work.  

I may update if there are any more important pieces of information after wearing it all day...otherwise, hope you enjoyed this!  How do you like your Ipsy Glam Bag?

End of day update:

Okay, so I just did a quick makeup check (9 hours after application).  My stupid pics won't send, but I can tell you that my eye makeup hasn't budged, and there is SHOCKINGLY little rosacea bleed through for just having a beauty balm and some powder on my face.  There is a little bit of "makeup pooling" and you can tell I'm a red person, but I still look in the realm of normal (unlike my makeup-free face in picture 1 above).  This leads me to believe that primers are not bullshit, as I previously thought.  I am going to experiment more with the Naked Skin, but it might be a nice alternative to foundation - my skin is soft and doesn't feel like it has tons of crap on it.  My lip balm is long gone, but that is to be expected.  Will post the pics tomorrow.  

Don't forget to enter the Julep contest for $432 worth of polish and products here (be sure to mention the Diniwilks!!!!), and to stop on over to my contest afterwards.  Ends 12/31.