Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Is It Just Me?


...or is it freaking impossible...


to get two kids to look at the camera...


at the same time...


without blinking...


or being overexposed...


or blurry...


or all three?


And let's not even discuss the piles of junk in the background or perpetual lack of pants on the preschooler.  

DMV Rant; Karma is a Bitch and I am an Idiot

There is really no way to tell this story without admitting that I am an idiot who tends to bring these things upon myself, but it so perfectly illustrates the kind of administrative BS that I was talking about during my bank rant that I have to share.  


I'm sure I mentioned  I REALLY REALLY hate mail (packages excluded, of course).  If Justin were to go on vacation without me, he would surely come home to an overflowing mailbox.  It would pretty much make my day if there was a national Do Not Mail list. My dining room table would also be pleased, as mail tends to pile up and hang out indefinitely until I go on a cleaning spree and chuck it all into a Random Crap Bin.  Basically, I feel the same way about mail as Swistle does about phones.    


In Ohio, your registration expires on your birthday each year.  You can get your new registration as early as 90 days in advance online, or about a month in advance by mail, and you have until 7 days after your birthday to renew it or you get a $20 fine.  


I wasn't aware of the online  option until now, or I obviously would have gone that route.  I have always renewed my registration by mail (seemed easy enough, since they send you a form to fill out and send back with your check).  And by "always", I mean up until June of 2010.  I never really got around to renewing my registration in June of 2011, so I have essentially gone for an entire year without a valid registration.  Which apparently is a minor misdemeanor.  I walk on the wild side.  


In my defense (there really is no defense), I honestly thought that I mailed in the check last June and that the new stickers/registration were hiding in some corner of my house, stuck in between 11 jillion applications for a Discover card or instructions on how to save money on car insurance.  But I was very pregnant in June of 2011, so what I think I will find (eventually) is a stamped envelope with a check for the registration, hanging out with some coupons for Similac and unused Babies R Us giftcards.  


Either way, NO REGISTRATION.  One of my coworkers has been making fun of me for my expired stickers for like a year, but I just couldn't care enough to deal with it, especially as more time passed and it got closer and closer to my next birthday.  I figured I'd either get a ticket or I wouldn't, and I'd pay up in June of 2012.  


Cut to June 26, which is exactly two days before my birthday.  I made the decision to renew my license and registration that day, since I will be in Columbus (boooo) for my actual birthday.  I thought I would come in to work early so I could take an extended lunch to sit in the ridiculously long lines at the license bureau.  Of freaking course, I was pulled over for speeding on my way into daycare.  I am 99% sure I was going to get a ticket anyway (the guy wasn't very friendly), but it sealed the deal when he saw my expired tags.  


This kind of thing ONLY happens to me.  Anyone else would have been caught MONTHS ago.  OF COURSE I got pulled over HOURS before I was going to rectify the situation.  


It only added $15 to my ticket, which I thought was low.  So low, in fact, that I joked to another coworker that maybe I'll just wing it again this year.


Yeah, I should know by now that these things should never be joked about, lest karma come bite me in the ass. 


Today I went to get my new license and registration (I couldn't go yesterday since my free time was sucked up getting a ticket).  Once the lady behind the counter figured out that I was a year overdue, she informed me that the system wouldn't let me get my 2013 registration; I'd have to pay for ONE DAY of 2012 registration.  I asked what would happen if I came in on my birthday instead, and was informed that it still wouldn't let me do it, that I'd have to come in on the 29th and get new plates entirely.  Which would require me to bring in my title.


If you know me at all by now, you know that I surely don't know where the blue fuck my title is.


I asked if I could pay the 2012 and 2013 today, just to be done with it.  Which you'd think would be the ideal situation for the BMV, no?  Getting people to do the right thing and pay what they owe?  Nope, she said I could pay 2012, but it still wouldn't let me do 2013 without getting the new plates.  So they are basically putting me in the position where I have to be out of compliance for another few days, and risking that I never come back, instead of taking the $100 I was willing to part with right then to make it right.  


Argh!


SO.  Assuming that I won't be able to find my title, I now have to get another copy.  As you may recall, Chafe Bank would have the official title since I have my loan through them, so I'd need a memorandum copy.  I haven't yet figured out how to do that, but I bet you a million dollars that I can only get it from Chafe and that they will refuse to give it to me because it's under the wrong social security number.  


FML.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Parenting Confessions #3-5: Lying, Lying, and Bribery

Everyone has that list of things that they will "never" do once they are a parent, right?  I never documented mine, but if you want to read some particularly hilarious I'll nevers (and see how she did), go over to Lacey's.  I think she owes us another update, I'm dying to see if she has broken any other rules.  


If I HAD documented my I'll nevers, I can guarantee you that I would have boldly stated that I'll never lie to my kids, and I'll never bribe my kids.  The problem with these "I'll never" lists is that, when making them, one has "never" had a toddler.  


I love Adriana more than anything, but DAMN she can be challenging.  I think I've mentioned this before - one of my parents top fightin' words when I was a kid were "Someday you'll be a parent, and I hope you have a daughter who is JUST LIKE YOU!"  I was also a challenging kid, so that was never uttered in a NICE way until my dad's choked up speech at my wedding.  That only took about 30 years.  


Adriana really is JUST LIKE ME.  She knows exactly how to push buttons, and how to bend rules so that she is doing every single thing EXCEPT technically breaking the rule (and she is extremely creative in finding ways around the rules).  She will look you in the eye to make sure you are watching when she's about to do something bad, and then laugh in your face when you try to put her in time out.  When she does go to time out, she pops out of the chair in about a half a second and gives you a big hug and kiss and says she's sorry, and when you try to tell her to get back in time out, she stomps her little foot and says "but I SAID I'm sorry!"  She loves to whisper the f bomb in the quietest voice she can possibly whisper, and when I start to yell at her, she will say "I said FLUCK, not the bad one".  She is endlessly stubborn and wants to do everything HERSELF and HER WAY, and god forbid if I'm DOIN' IT WRONG.    


If she is like this at 2 (she won't be 3 until October), I imagine that the teen years are going to be a blast.


Don't get me wrong - she's not like this all of the time.  She's often the most adorable, sweet, funny little girl in the universe.  The problem is that it's like a light switch, and I don't always know how to flip it or even what part of the house the damn switch is located.  


So here is my confession...


Sometimes I just can't deal with Little Miss Challenging anymore, and I get creative.   And by creative, I mean I lie or I bribe her.


Lie the first: So, about 6 months ago she dropped to 0 naps (unless I want a huge fight) and started the great toddler bedtime stalling tactics.  You can imagine how pleasant she was with the decreased sleep.  One day, I was half kidding around because we watched Monsters, Inc. earlier, and I froze right in the middle of her declaration of "I'M NOT TIRED!"  She stopped, and asked me what was wrong.  "I hear monsters...they only come when little girls don't go to bed.  Quick, quick, get upstairs!!!"  I have never seen her little butt move faster.  Not gonna lie, I still bust this one out sometimes.  She 99% knows it's a game, but that 1% keeps her going. 


Lie the second: We have been potty training since A was 15 months old, which means we have now been potty training for more of her life than not.  The most frustrating thing about this whole process is that she KNOWS how to do it, KNOWS when to ask, but chooses not to. It's all still 100% on her terms.  She will wear big girl underwear and pee on schedule most of the time, and will put on pullups on the days she won't sit on the potty (after a 5 min fight).  She refuses to poop on the potty.  I really, REALLY need for this madness to stop, because she has to be potty trained to start dance class in the fall, and I don't want her to miss a whole year of something I know she'd love because of her stubbornness.  One day, she was clearly on the verge of pooping, so I ran her into the bathroom and made her sit down.  Of course, she started crying and refused to poop.  I was so frustrated that the next thing that came out of my mouth was...


"OMG, I forgot to tell you about the fish!"
"What fish?"
"The fish who lives in the toilet!"
(She hopped off and looked inside)
"I don't see a fish!"
"Well, that's because she hides when she is hungry."
"Can I feed her?"
"Well, this is a special fish...she only eats little girl poop!" 


I might be the worst parent ever, but she totally pooped on the potty within 2 minutes.


I may bust that one out again, if I'm ever at that level of frustration.  I am gross.


Bribe the first:  We do a lot of sticker/reward charts (a good girl chart and a potty chart), and, as I mentioned above, Adriana knows that she gets to go to dance class if she's potty trained.  That's not what I am talking about here.  I am talking about the awesome parenting skillz I demonstrated this morning.  


Adriana has been having a REALLY hard time going to daycare lately.  I think it's partly the fact that she switched rooms and likes her old teacher better, and partly that she's been a little off ever since I went to Columbus.  Either way, the mornings she goes to daycare have been a royal pain in the ass.  She kicks and screams and scratches and sobs and basically breaks my heart.  "I don't WANT to go to daycare, mama, I want to stay with you!"  I decided that I just couldn't do it again this morning, and got out 5 m&m's.  She got one for putting on her clothes, one for peeing on the potty, one for getting in the car, one for letting me leave daycare without crying, and one if she was still being good 2 minutes after I left.  And you know what?  She was a freaking angel.


Overheard on the way into daycare this morning:
"Mama, I'm really sorry I broke my shade" (She broke it like 2 months ago, this was the first apology).
"Mama, can you put on toddler tunes please" (She's usually crying too hard to ask for music, and rarely says please).
"I am getting to be so big.  I can open grandma's fridge-e-rater."
And there was lots of smiling and giggling at various things as she cracked herself up in the back seat.


Moral of the story the first: Lies and bribes.  That shit works.


Moral of the story the second: Never say never. 


What is the most outlandish thing you have ever done to get your toddler to behave?





Sunday, June 24, 2012

June 2012 Influenster Mom VoxBox Review

I received the following complimentary products for testing purposes from Influenster.  


June 2012 Influenster Mom VoxBox


The deets: Influenster is a little different than the other services I subscribe to, in that it's a lifestyle box, and it's free.  That's right, you heard me, FREE.  You go to the website, fill out a bunch of little surveys, win badges based on your responses, and then wait.  Each of the boxes have a theme, and you may or may not get one depending on demographics and the badges you have unlocked.  You get an email letting you know that you have been preselected for a box, and you go back in to accept the offer.  They strongly encourage you to talk about the products via social media, and I don't think you would be selected for another one if you don't do anything.  I'm not sure how often the boxes come out; since I signed up on March 23, there was a Spring Beauty VoxBox (I wasn't selected) and this one. I think the last one before that was Valentine's day themed.  Once your box comes, you check it in, and in a few weeks you fill out a survey and complete brand challenges to unlock more badges.  


Date of arrival: June 23, 2012.


Packaging: The VoxBox came in a plain cardboard box with a little sticker on the side.  It had those ecofoam packing peanuts and a card describing the products.  Interestingly, not everyone got everything - the card said that in addition to the standard products, some moms would get either a Dino Lingo Language DVD or an Original Dish Drying Mat. The packaging is pretty boring, but I wouldn't expect fancy packaging when I'm not paying for anything. 


Contents and mini product reviews:


First up we have a bar of Ivory soap and some DenTek flossers.  It was good timing on the Ivory, as I ran out of body wash and have been smelling like Axe for the past week.  I haven't used bar soaps in forever, at least 15 years.  Ivory is nice, it's not heavily scented so this is a great option when I don't want my body wash to compete with my lotions or perfumes. It gave me that weird soapy squeaky clean feeling in the shower, but my skin feels completely normal a few hours later.  It's crazy cheap, $4.27 for a 10-pack.


I already use those DenTek flossers (not regularly, don't tell my dentist).  I keep them in my purse in case food gets stuck in my teeth; they are extremely handy.  I didn't know they made ones for kids, I'm sure we will use them once the kiddos are a little older and have less gappy teeth.  They had little $1 off coupons, so I'll definitely be picking up some more (they are only $1.99-$2.99 for a full pack).  
Next up was a Superfruits Tea Sampler by Stash tea.  I think this brand was in the Valentine's day box as well.  I am a big tea drinker (hot and cold), and I love that these are all summery flavors.  I think the 3 herbal teas are caffeine free, but the 3 green teas aren't.  I like that the box has both options, because caffeine makes my anxiety worse so I have to watch how much I consume (and you will have to pry my diet coke out of my cold dead hands; I am not willing to switch to caffeine free there).  I am excited to make iced tea with the pomegranate raspberry green tea packets; sounds delicious. They included a coupon for $1 off 2 boxes in the store and 15% off a $25 or more purchase online.  The box is normally $3.50. 
Stash tea also makes Nektar Honey Crystals, which are 100% all natural honey granules.  This is a great idea, I'd absolutely carry these around in my purse.  1 pack is the equivalent of on teaspoon of honey; they gave us 2 packs to try.  A 40 count box goes for $6.99.  
I tried out the acai tea with a half pack of the honey crystals (in the ubiquitous Anthropologie mug); it was delish.  It was the first time I ventured into my sun room in a few months; it was disgusting.  Anyone want to come dust for me while I sit and drink tea?
The Quaker Soft Baked Oatmeal Cookie was not long for this world.  I think the girls and I inhaled it in about 18 seconds.  Best 18 seconds ever.  It was super soft and reminded me of a homemade cookie.  At $2.69 for a box of 6, I will definitely be repurchasing.  


They ate them so fast I couldn't even get a decent picture.  Also, I wouldn't normally show a pic of A's undies, but I wanted to point out another Justin dressing fail.  Those are not ADRIANA'S underwear, they are supposed to go over LUCY'S diaper when she wears a dress in that print.  He knew it wasn't right, but he thought they were A's bathing suit bottoms.  I don't know if that's better or worse :)
The imPRESS Press-On manicure also came with a $1.00 off coupon (they normally run $5.99-$7.99).  Mine came in Stiletto, and it's not really a shade I'd wear, especially in the summer. If it works, I'd try Space Cadet, Starstruck, or Holla!
I was lucky enough to be one of the people who got the Original Dish Drying Mat, and I couldn't be happier.  My mom has these and they are AMAZING.  So soft and squishy.  We are drinkers of wine and I think this will keep my wine glasses safe while they dry.  I could be mistaken, but I think the same brand makes bath mats too.  My mom has some and they are like heaven on your feet.  I'm totally getting some once ours are worn out.  I'm wondering if they only gave these to the people who live near a Bed Bath and Beyond, since it is the exclusive retailer of this product (they sell them for $4.99).   
All in all, I'm pretty pleased with my first Influenster VoxBox experience.  I think it's a great idea from a marketing perspective - so many of us are reviewing products we paid for just for fun, so may as well get us to review some products for free.  Win win.  



Thursday, June 21, 2012

June 2012 BeautyBox Five Review

June 2012 BeautyBox Five


The deets: BeautyBox 5 is yet another subscription service.  You can get monthly ($12), quarterly ($30), or annual ($100) subscriptions, and each box comes with 4-5 samples.  They have a referral program in which you get a free box for referring 5 customers - if you want to use my referral link, click here.  BB5 is still pretty new; I think this was only their 5th or 6th box.  This was easily the best box they have had so far, so I'm excited to share it with you.


Date of arrival: My box came on June 20, 2012.


Packaging: BB5 has super cute packaging - an aqua box with chocolate brown crinkly paper, and the contents are usually in a white or aqua organza bag.  The box is TEENY - smaller than any other subscription service I get.  I guess they aren't planning on very large samples.  One thing that was different this month is that they used to just give us a little business card that said thanks for doing business with BB5.  Now they have a postcard that describes the products and lists the full sized retail price.  I like the cute little graphics on the card.  A-
Contents: First up we have the Everyday Minerals Girl Friday Blush.  It came with a little card with a 15% discount code for online purchases ("box15") on one side, and instructions on the other side (the blush works just like bare minerals but they say sprinkle, whirl, infuse, glide instead of swirl, tap, buff).  
Next up we have The All Natural Face Vegan Mineral Eyeshadow in Warm Honey.  It came in a little baggie with an applicator and a 20% discount code for online purchases ("BEAUTY") through July 31, 2012.  
The box also contained a pack of blum naturals Oil Absorbing Facial Tissues, blinc eyeliner in black, and a Comodynes Easy Peeling towelette. 
Mini product review:  I gave away the oil blotting tissues, since rosacea means I have super dry skin.  I'm saving the towelette for the weekend in case I have a bad reaction, also for rosacea-related reasons.  I'm glad Comodynes has moved away from sending tanning towelettes in every single beauty box - something new to try.  


I am wearing the blush, eyeshadow, and eyeliner today.  


The All Natural Face Vegan Mineral Eyeshadow in Warm Honey is super pretty.  I used 2 colors from the Lorac Unzipped palette with it - the matte tan shade as a base, and the matte brown in the crease.  The Warm Honey is on the lid.  It's a gorgeous bronze with little teeny tiny flecks of reds, greens, and golds.  For 20% off $3.50, I'd definitely buy this again.  A


This is actually my second blinc eyeliner - I think I got a brown one from Birchbox a while back and put it aside since I don't often wear brown.  I opened the tube and was shocked that it was a liquid - for some reason I was expecting a pencil.  This was literally the first time I have ever braved a liquid eyeliner in my life, and I panicked and screwed it up on one eye.  They eyeliner hasn't smudged all day, which was a little bit unexpected because it claims to "slide off like a second skin", with no makeup remover required.  You use warm water and a little pressure and the whole line comes off.  Creeeeeeeeepy.  I think this would be a great eyeliner for someone who is used to liquid liner, but is a little problematic for newbies like me (it was a hard to fix my mistake, I felt like I just kept screwing it up worse).  However, I'm still giving it an A because I don't think it's blinc's fault I fail at makeup.  


Finally, we have the Everyday Minerals Girl Friday Blush.  I haven't used mineral makeup in a long time, I totally forgot the golden rule - a little goes a long way.  I started taking pictures to share here and realized I was looking a little whorish, and had to go over the top with my powder to tone it down.  The color was really pretty and natural looking, as long as it's done with a light hand.  A- 
I'm not a crackhead.  Rosacea makes your eyes bloodshot 24/7.  As does sleeping in your contacts.  
Value: Unfortunately, BB5 is rarely worth much more than the $12 you pay for it.  This month's box was worth a sad $13.86.  D-



Overall impression of the box: This was by far the best box I've gotten from BB5.  I was DEEPLY OFFENDED by my first box from them, which was all crappy foil packets.  The second had a mask, so they won my heart a little on that one.  This one was full of fun makeup to try, so I am happy.  Pay attention, sample boxes - we like makeup!  Just give us makeup, even CHEAP makeup, and we won't bitch!!!  B


Overall impression of the service: I think it's getting better.  I feel kind of bad for BB5 because I think they really are trying, and they were blindsided by the fact that people hated the foil packet box.  I remember Superfreaky1RU saying that she talked to the VP for like 2 hours about what customers wanted out of a sample box, and I really think that they took her (and others') feedback to heart.  There were some packets last month, but there were either a few of each or several products to try.  Like The Look Bag, I'm probably going to have to cancel, but I'm kind of sad because I think we are going to see some real improvement from BB5 in the months to come.  C-

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

June 2012 The Look Bag Review

June 2012 The Look Bag: June Beauty Boom!

The deets: The Look Bag is (was???) a subscription service offered by The Look Store, which supposedly offers celebrity beauty picks.  I am fairly certain they do not actually consult with celebrities, but whatever.  Cheap makeup!  You would think that the Look Store would carry products that are featured in the Look Bag, but that does not appear to generally be the case.  The bag is $10 a month and normally has decent enough samples, but there aren't really any perks to the program (no referral program, points for reviewing the products, magazine subscriptions, extras, etc.)  

I can't tell if it's going out of business or if they are revamping the program so that it's bigger and better, but the program is suspended for the time being.  I have a call in to customer service to see if existing members are going to be affected; will keep you posted.  

Date of arrival: The Look Bag is supposed to come on the 14th of each month, mine didn't get here until the 18th.  

The packaging: In addition to the standard bubble wrap mailer, the organza bag was secured in an extra layer of bubble wrap.  I think this was the cause of the delay this time; they were responding to concerns about broken items last month.  A+ for taking customer feedback seriously.  
Based on this month's card, I think they are now sending standardized bags to everyone (only shades differ) and then having the last product be personalized based on your beauty profile.  






Contents: My bag included the Korres Sunflower & Evening Primrose Shadow in Golden, Snowberry Cellular Regeneration Night Cream, Atopalm Intensive Moisturizing Cream, and Korres Wild Rose Brightening and Moisturizing Cream.
Mini product review: Since this month's bag was so cream intensive and I have enough creams to last me until 2062, I haven't tried anything out yet.  I did swatch the Korres eyeshadow though, it's a pretty golden color.  I'm kind of sad that it's so close to the color I got last time, but it's a higher quality shadow, so I can't complain too much.  One thing that is kind of annoying is that the shadow is discontinued - Korres doesn't make eyeshadow anymore.  It's bad enough when a company sends out last season's shades a la Glam Bag, but once amazon sells out, I won't be able to buy this product at all.  I subscribe to these services with the intent of finding new cool products to buy, so it's kind of a waste of a sample.  Then again, I'd rather have a full sized discontinued shadow than a teeny foil packet of something I could buy.  Whatever.  

Value: You know that you're spoiled by a lot of fantastic beauty subscription services when a $26.46 bag that you paid $10 for doesn't really impress you.  Worth the money though.  C

Overall impression of the bag: Too many moisturizers, but they (sort of) explained it on the card.  I was happy to see the Korres stuff, I am new to the brand but I like what I've tried out so far.  I am disappointed that they are sending discontinued stuff though, that's lame.  I wasn't angered by the bag (that sounds silly, but I have been deeply offended in the past), it was just kinda meh.  C


Overall impression of the service: I like the Look Bag, but I'm probably going to have to cancel since I subscribe to so many now.  If this was the only service I had, I'd be happy with it, but I am getting to the point that I really can't justify the expense of these anymore.  :(  I'm sure as soon as I cancel they will revamp it and it will be amazing.  
Another uncooperative model.  Good thing she's cute.



Letting It Go

You may recall that I talked to you before about compromise, which is not exactly my strong suit.  Today is my three year anniversary (if you are doing the math, you can read here about our engagement, pregnancy, and wedding, in that order), and I have learned a new skill this month: letting it go.  


I love to argue.  I am always right and I like to make sure that the person I'm arguing with knows it.  It's never enough for me to know in my heart that I'm right.  I must explain to you, in great detail, all of the reasons why I'm right, cite past examples which bolster my case, and then send you three similar scenarios from various blogs that further elucidate the issue.  I'm kind of a pain in the ass.


I also love to fight.  I have always firmly believed that one of the reasons why Justin and I get along so well is that we are both able to just yell at each other, say everything we want to say, and then move on.  Some of those fights are doozies, but we get over it quickly.  I've always thought that the fighting is a valuable part of the process, it lets us blow off steam and get everything out in the open quickly so we can deal with little problems before they turn into big problems.  


A few weeks ago, I was more pissed off at Justin than I have ever been in the history of our marriage.  He was trying to buy a new car, and I was trying to stay out of the process.  I had told him repeatedly that I didn't think he needed a new car and should continue to drive the old one until it fell apart, but it really wasn't my business.  We both have our own checking accounts in addition to the joint account, which we deposit equal sums into each month to pay the bills.  We like this arrangement, and never, ever fight about money. 


I knew he was planning on going car shopping with my dad, so I called my mom to discuss my concern that dad would talk him into a more expensive car than he could afford, which could potentially disrupt our happy little financial situation.  We talked about this AT LENGTH, for like an hour, as I drove home from one of my many trips to Columbus.  It was perfectly clear that Justin needed to buy a car he could afford, and preferably one he could afford and then some.


The next morning Justin and Dad went out, and I was sitting at home with my girlies, blissfully unaware that I was about to get incredibly angry (and the girls were about to get infected with the daycare death plague, but that is neither here nor there).  They called me a few times to have me look up various options in the Consumers Report, and then Justin called asking if the joint account had enough money in it to cover his down payment.  


After hanging up, I starting thinking "Hmmmmmmm, that down payment seemed much higher than expected".  I called back, and Justin basically said to trust him.  I called back again, and learned that my father had given Justin some money to go towards the car.


Maybe this would not be a big deal to most people, but, let me tell you, this royally pissed me off. 


You may have already guessed this based on our 3 account banking situation, but I am weird about money.  I am especially weird about taking my parents' money.  My parents are wonderful people who are extremely generous and would do absolutely anything to help us out.  They do SO MUCH (TOO much) as far as the girls are concerned, and I already feel like I can't thank them enough.  There have also been times in the past, when I was younger, where I was made to feel like I'm ungrateful or like there are strings attached with them helping me out financially, so I'd just prefer (strongly) to take care of myself.  Justin KNOWS about all of these issues, but neither he or my dad felt the need to see if this arrangement was okay with me, or to at least give me a call to let me know it was happening.  


On the one hand, I wanted to be happy that my dad was treating Justin like he was just another one of the kids.  There was a long time (pre-marriage) where this was not the case, so TRUST ME, this wasn't lost on me.  And I know that Justin has never had a new car before and was getting caught up in the excitement of it all.  But I just felt SO BETRAYED by both of them.  


I felt the hurt and anger building up inside me, and you guys, I GEARED UP for a fight.  Do you do this?  I probably yelled at Justin and my dad in my head for like 2 hours after I was done crying, planning out the fight we were about to have.  


Justin came home, and I looked at him.  I could tell he was so sorry about not thinking about how it would all make me feel.  I could also tell he was super excited about his car and I was probably ruining what would otherwise be a pretty great day.  


So I just...let it go.  


I LET IT GO. 


It was kind of freeing, really.  I had the option to have this big crazy fight and then kiss and make up and go around for a ride in the car, or to just skip it and get right to the driving.  We drove the girls to the park and had an amazing day.  


Three years in, and I didn't really know exactly how much I love Justin until I was able to make the choice to just let it go.  

Monday, June 18, 2012

How to get the most value out of your BeautyFix Summer 2012 box

It's BeautyFix time again!  I talked about how to get the most value from your Spring Box here.  

BeautyFix is similar to the subscription services I've been reviewing this month, but it's quarterly, you get to pick your own samples (8 of them), and many of them are full sized. It's run by DermStore, so many of the products are skincare related. It's $49.99 a quarter, but first time users can use the code BFBLOG to get $30 off.  Existing members can use the code BFMKUP to get $20 off (I had to call beautyfix at 1-800-213-3376 to get them to apply it though, since it didn't look like it worked on my end).  

The boxes are supposed to yield about $100 of product - not bad for a $20 or $30 investment. However, if you are a smart shopper, you can get even more bang for your buck.  The 8 products I chose this month are worth a whopping $257.  If you review products, you get another $25 to use at dermstore on a $50 purchase, which I used to make butter london polishes more affordable.  

I updated the spreadsheet I showed you last time to include the 12 or so new products offered this quarter.  I had to guess the value of the products highlighted in pink, but I know they are near the top of the pack (assuming the Murad ones are full sized - I saw a video and that appears to be the case).  

I am most excited to try the stila set and correct and all of the 3 lab stuff.  I will be adding that to my box every month since it's a fantastic skin care line that I'd never be able to afford otherwise.  I'll let you know how it works when I get my box (it shipped lightning fast last time).    

They don't do referral programs, but I can't encourage you enough to sign up.  BeautyFix and TestTube are my all time favorite subscription services - love, love, love it.  

I left off stuff that's worth less than $10, since this post is about maximizing your value.  Click to enlarge.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

June 2012 Julep Maven Mystery Box Review

Julep Maven June 2012 Mystery Box

The deets: I talk about Julep Maven extensively here.  I am pretty sure this is the first mystery box since March; I don't know if it's a quarterly thing or if it's whenever Julep wants to get rid of older polishes.  If you are on Julep's mailing list, they send out a notice whenever there is a mystery box, with a coupon code for the box.  I believe the June mystery box deal ended at midnight last night, but the link seems to still be working.  Here is the link; the code JUNEMYSTERY drops the price to $19.99.  Julep promises $60-$200 worth of product in each mystery box.  I'm not sure how many people get the $200 boxes, but I've seen reviews where people got a ton of stuff, so it might be more common than the golden box.  

Date of arrival: Friday, June 15 (I think I ordered it right after I posted my golden box - fast shipping!)

Packaging: I knew I wasn't as lucky this time when I saw the wee box.  The pretty packaging cheered my up though - Julep's stuff always looks so pretty.  I love how they go the extra mile with the rubber bands around the bubble wrap.  Safe and secure.  A+

Contents: As predicted based on box size, I got three polishes, a nail file, and one product (Elixir, which is argan oil).  The polishes were:

  • Natasha, intense orange creme (Bombshell)
  • Heather, chic platinum greige with a metallic glow (American Beauty)
  • Sandra, friendly, frosted magenta (It Girl)

Mini review:

I haven't tried out the argan oil yet.  I currently use and love amika oil treatment (from my February Birchbox, and possibly my favorite BB find ever) and Moroccan oil frizz control (from my Spring QVC Test Tube), plus I just got that frizz stuff in my Glam Bag.  I think I'm going to try to see if it does anything for my rosacea or Adriana's eczema, as I was reading up on the numerous skin benefits.  I will probably also put some on my (super brittle) nails.  I will let you know if it works for any of these purposes.  

Sandra was a repeat from my golden box, so I will be saving that for a future giveaway or CDP.  

Natasha is beautiful reddish orange - pretty much the color I will think of whenever anyone says Spring 2012.  I didn't get off my butt to check, but I'm pretty sure it's a dupe for Essie's Ole Caliete (which I LOVE), so I probably shouldn't have opened it.   A-

Heather is GORGEOUS.  Greige and greyed out pinks and purples are what got me addicted to nail polish in the first place (I blame you, OPI French Collection).  For as many greige-y colors as I have, I don't believe I own anything quite like this.  It has these tiny multicolored sparkles when it's in direct sunlight - so pretty!  First coat was a little brush-strokey, but the second coat and topcoat fixed that.  A

I didn't have the thickness problem I had with the June box...quite the opposite actually; these ones were a little too thin.  I almost dripped Natasha on my carpet, which NEVER happens.  Like I said before, I wouldn't pay $14 for a polish that isn't perfect, formula-wise, but I'll keep my subscription because I love the service so much.  I will be skipping months that don't have amazing colors though.  
2 coats on the toes, one on the nails, no topcoat.
Value: The polishes are $14 a pop, and the argan oil is $24.  Assuming the nail file is worth a buck, that brings this $19.99 box to $67.  C

Overall impression of the box: Obviously I would have loved to be one of the people who got $200 worth of stuff, but I had no expectations after I lucked out with the golden box.  I am excited to see if the alternate uses for argan oil pan out, and I love 2 of the 3 polishes.  Win! B+

Overall impression of the service: I am a fan, would recommend.  A

If you want to sign up, I get a free month for every 2 of you who sign on and stay with Maven for 30 days - here is the referral link, if you want to use it.  Right now you can get your first box for a penny if you use the code COLOR2012.  

Friday, June 15, 2012

June 2012 Glam Bag Review and Giveaway!

June 2012 Glam Bag: Out All Night

The deets: As you may remember from my last review, myglam was started by the evil genius YouTube guru Michelle Phan.  I don't really know if she's evil (many YouTubers seem to think so), but I really do think she's a genius, as myglam seems to be thriving despite all of the backlash and drama.  Even that might be a thing of the past, based on the mostly non-sucky bag this month - we shall see.  Glam Bags are $10 a month; it's pretty much just like Birchbox but it's supposed to be more focused on makeup than general beauty products.   You take a beauty quiz when you sign up, but pretty everyone gets the same stuff in their bag, unless there are different color choices.  The beauty quiz seems to have no bearing on what color you get.  The only kinda cool thing myglam does that the other services don't is that the stylists post tutorials with each month's products on the myglam YouTube channel. 

Date of arrival: May 11, 2012

The packaging: As per usual, the Glam Bag came in the pretty pink bubble wrap, and the contents were in a shiny gold makeup bag.  The bag had lots of glitter fallout, and therefore is completely useless to house makeup (unless you want a disco ball face), but what else is new? Still, an abundance of glitter is a way better reason for non-use than smelling like formaldehyde.  That's right, this month's bag was the first ever to not stink!  There were cards offering free shipping at philosophy.com (use code fresh5) and a deal for glammies (gag) on a Living Proof kit.  The Out All Night themed card was cute, but I almost kind of miss the shameless self-promotion, as it didn't feature one of the stylists looking fabulous. [Update the first: Apparently that's Andrea, it's just not what I thought she looked like at all - she's the only stylist I didn't watch pre-myglam].


The contents: In addition to the (non-stinky!) gold bag, we have a Marbella Permanent Eyeliner Pen, Living Proof frizz Nourishing Styling Cream, philosophy take a deep breath oil-free energizing oxygen gel cream moisturizer, and NYX Round Case Lipstick in what appears to be called Vitamin (weird name).


Mini product review: Since it's taken me so long to post, I have had time to try out all four products.  

The philosophy moisturizer is a blue gel.  It didn't feel greasy; it was lightweight and soaked in nicely.  I like most philosophy products (except purity, which I can taste for hours after use, despite the fact that I wash my face with it, and don't drink it - so gross), so this was a good add to the bag.  I wouldn't repurchase it, but only because I like my moisturizers to have SPF.  B

I've never heard of the Living Proof brand, but that's because I tend to not put a lot of product in my hair.  I do use anti-frizz stuff from time to time though, as my hair ranges from  wavy to curly depending on humidity and what I did to it that day.  I also have a lot of short hairs that are still growing back after the great post-pregnancy hair exodus, so I was excited to try this.  I smoothed the amount shown in the picture below into my hair, and was pleasantly surprised by the results.  It smelled nice, wasn't greasy, and tamed 90% of the baby hairs; I'd definitely repurchase. A

Before on the left, after on the right. My ability to make the exact same face twice is creepy.
The Marbella Permanent Eyeliner pen was okay.  I'd say it worked better than the Revlon Colorstay Pen I have, but wasn't really anything special.  I don't know where myglam found this brand - the website is one comic sans paragraph away from looking late 90's chic, and it's only carried by one retailer.  I'm wondering if since the website calls them semi-permanent, but these ones say permanent (ack!) if they are just trying to get rid of them? If it was an amazing product, I'd let it slide, but since it's not, I find it kind of sketchy.  However, if this is the sketchiest thing this month, I will definitely take it.  I don't think I'd repurchase, but I'll definitely use it until it dries up.  B

The NYX Round Case Lipstick was also just okay, but only because it was a color I am not really drawn to.  Vitamin is a peachy shade with a little too much shimmer for my taste.  I didn't have any problems with the formula, and NYX is so cheap that I'd repurchase if I found a shade I loved.  B
Wearing the Marbella eyeliner and NYX lipstick.
I had been up all night dealing with baby flu, this was the best pic I could get.  
Value: I'm not feeling the spreadsheet today, sorry :)

The Marbella and NYX are full sized, worth $19 and $3.99, respectively.  The Living Proof styling cream is half-sized (2 fl oz compared to 4 fl oz full sized), and worth $9.50.  The philosophy is sample sized (.4 fl oz compared to 2 fl oz full sized) and worth $6.40.  At $38.89, this bag gets a solid B+ for value.  [New, less arbitrary rating system: for a $10 bag, $0-$10 = F, $10-$20 = D, $20-$30=C, and so on].

Overall impression of the bag: Even though there was nothing in here I'm absolutely in love with, this was a solid effort.  I was excited to try all of the products, and I will definitely use them all instead of regifting or having them sit in a bin after trying them once or twice.  This is the best bag I've gotten from myglam, and probably their 3rd best overall (the first bag being the best one, and the one with the Urban Decay eyeliner and false lashes coming in second).  I'm somewhere between a B and a B+, and since this is so much better than past bags, I'll give them the B+

Overall impression of the service:  I feel like I've covered everything extensively between this review and the last.  Although things seem to be looking up, I'm not ready to bump them up from the B- I gave them last month.  

My model was not being cooperative this time.
And now for the fun part: I forgot to cancel my extra Glam Bag subscription (I was stupidly testing a theory that annual subscribers got off the waiting list faster than monthly; it backfired).  That means I have an extra Glam Bag to give away to one lucky person!

The rules:

Enter ONE comment below.  Please, please, please do not comment twice.  I won't judge you (much) for your typo, I promise.  If you want to comment but don't want to enter, say "don't enter me" in your comment.  I will randomly choose one winner using the random number generator set to however many comments there are; if it picks a non-entry or a rule-breaker I'll have it pick again, and will keep picking til it lands on the first entry that counts.  If you are a stranger to these parts, make sure there is an email address or twitter handle in your comment so I know how to get ahold of you (if I can't contact you, you are a rule-breaker and I'll pick again). 

I am historically awful at sending stuff on time, so I am going to put a deadline on here to get my butt in gear.  I will keep the contest open until 3pm Ohio time on Tuesday, June 19, and I will mail it within 48 hours of the winner giving me their address.  

Good luck!

Update the second: I will only ship to the U.S. and Canada (I'm sorry!)

Update the third: We have a winner! Congratulations, Kirsten



Wednesday, June 13, 2012

June 2012 Birchbox Review

June 2012 Birchbox: Jet Set

The deets: I think you all are somewhat familiar with Birchbox by now, as it is the most popular of the beauty subscription boxes, and I reviewed May here.  You fill out a beauty profile, which Birchbox does appear to at least somewhat pay attention to when selecting your products.  For $10 a month, you get 4-5 deluxe samples and one beauty extra.  You can earn points to use in the Birchbox store by buying full size products from their store (you get free shipping), referring friends, or reviewing the products that came in your box.  Every 100 points gets you $10 in the Birchbox store.  

Date of arrival: June 11, 2012.  

Packaging: This month wasn't a special partnership, so it was the standard bright pink outer box and brown cardboard inner box.  The outer tissue paper was hot pink, and the breakables were secured in purpley gray tissue with a darker purpley gray bow (I always forget to take pictures of the inner package).  Something in the box leaked a bit anyway, which hasn't happened since February's amika oil treatment.  B

 Contents: In addition to the little card describing the products, this month's box contained Dr. Jart+ Water Fuse BB Cream, Joya Ames Soeurs Parfum, Kelly Van Gogh Color Protecting Caviar Shampoo and Conditioner, Melvita Rose Floral Water, theBalm Staniac in Beauty Queen, and Cynthia Rowley Dress Up Band-Aids. You can see what the other boxes this month looked like here; mine is box 3.  
 Mini product review: I have tried out three of the products so far...

Joya's Ames Soeurs Parfum (the scent of soulmates) is something I might have picked out in high school or early college, but isn't really something I'd wear today.  Not because it's a particularly young scent, more because it's all incensey and kind of reminds me of this store in my college town called Hemptations.  I feel like I should wear it to Lilith Fair and then make out with my bongo drum beating long haired boyfriend.  I can smell the musk, incense, ginger, and orange blossom, but you can click on the Joya link to see the other notes.  Even though I wouldn't buy it again, I do find myself stopping frequently to smell my wrists.  It's a very intriguing scent.  B

I was really excited to see something from theBalm in here.  They were recently on Hautelook (more on that later), but I waited too long to order the Nude 'Tude palette and the Frat Boy blush, so they ran out and I was sad.   To be honest, I'm scared of lip and cheek stains and wish it was pretty much any other product in my box.  Keep in mind, I have rosacea so I spend a lot of time trying to take color OUT of my cheeks.  I'm just now getting comfortable with powder blush, so I struggled with application of the stain.  I am not going to rate it for this reason - theBalm shouldn't suffer just because I'm too inept to properly evaluate their product.  I look like a giant dork in this picture because people kept walking into the bathroom while I was trying to take a quick picture and I was super embarrassed. 
Before on the left; after on the right.  I might redo this if I learn to apply cheek stain properly. 
I have watched enough YouTube videos to not be completely mystified by the Melvita Rose Floral Water.  I still couldn't remember exactly what it was used for, so I decided to spray some on my face after concealer and foundation, then use a sponge to sheer out my makeup so I'd look less cakey.  It worked about as well as Mac Fix Plus for this purpose, BUT I am not a fan of rose scents in general.  Reminds me of old ladies.  I found this article that further explains what you use rose water for (I was VERY excited to see that I was not completely off base with my use of it).  B-


Value: I think Birchbox thinks this box was worth way more than it actually was.  You can get the Kelly Van Gogh shampoo AND conditioner for $30 if you order it from HSN (vs. $48 from Birchbox), and the Cynthia Rowley Band-Aids are $2.99 from Amazon (not $15).  My box this month was worth a sad $14.86.  D

Overall opinion of the box: If I had no idea how little the box was worth, I'd be pretty happy.  There was a good variety of products, the Band-Aids are super cute, I have been dying to try out theBalm and to try a BB cream.  I do wish there was MORE of what they gave me - if they had made the stainiac a full size, this box would have been amazing.  Also, the Dr. Jart feels like it has almost no product in it, so even if that had been full this would have been a win.  But I've been doing this Birchbox thing a while, and I know that between last month's Gossip Girl and next month's Glamour partnership, this was a good month to not be one of the people to get a full size product.  I wouldn't have used the full size stila bronzer other people got anyway.  Hmmmmmmm I guess I'd give this box a B- overall.  Value matters.  

Overall opinion of the service: Most of the products are by legitimate, well known, higher end brands, but not necessarily luxury brands.  It always comes during the second week of the month, and I don't recall hearing about many problems with the customer service.  I love that they have so many different boxes each month, it makes reading / watching reviews more fun and exposes me to more products I wouldn't know about otherwise.  I always feel like I am trying new things, it's not just a few packets of the same 5 samples that have shown up in every other subscription service lately.  It's also pretty consistent - great box, good box, great box, good box.  A-  

Here is my referral link, should you choose to use it.  Thanks!

Also - I have to know - do you use rose water or a BB cream?  What kind, how do you use it, do you like it? I really want to try out a Japanese BB cream, not an American one.  Superfreaky1RU has a really good video on it, and I'm intrigued.