Thursday, January 31, 2013

Getting to Know You

Totally stealing this from Ginger (I love the questions she chose!)

Do you have any strange phobias? This isn't exactly a phobia, but it's the closest thing I have.  I hate hate hate when people touch their belly buttons.  If you touch mine, you might lose a finger.  I can FEEL your finger in my belly button for MONTHS afterwards.  SO FREAKING GROSS.  And it is NOT FUNNY to repeatedly try to touch it because you know I hate it.  You are being a dick.  

Do you sleep with or without clothes on? Most of the time I'm nekkid.  

If you are outside, what are you most likely doing? 
Running, playing with the kidlets, or running with the kidlets.  They are REALLY FREAKING HEAVY now.  

Simple but extremely complex. Favorite band? 
Probably the Decemberists, but it has been way too long since I actively listened to music for me to properly answer this question.  

Do you believe in karma? 
I don't believe that there is any divine force driving it, but I certainly believe that what goes around does more often that not come around.  And it pisses me off when it doesn't work like that.  

Who is your celebrity crush? 
Tim Riggins from Friday Night Lights or Sawyer from LOST (too lazy to look up real names, plus I like them in their characters).  Apparently I like my men unshowered.  

What’s a sound you hate; sound you love? 
Hate: Forks scraping against plates, Justin clicking his nails or rubbing his feet together.  UGH.  My skin is crawling just thinking about it.   

Love: Rain, with and without a thunderstorm. 

Choose: East Coast or West Coast? 
West.  If I had a different life I'd live in the Pacific Northwest.

What was the last book you read? A smutty Sylvia Day novella about fallen angels/vampires.

Do you like the smell of gasoline? Yes.
Do you have any nicknames? Dini (pronounced Deenie, just like the diniwilks).  I'm hardly ever called this anymore, since it was more of a early to mid twenties thing used by my guy friends.

What was the last movie you saw? 
Some godawful movie about the trials and tribulations of being a pre-teen.  I thought maybe Adriana would watch it since the girl was young and wore bright colors.

What’s the worst injury you’ve ever had? 
Probably breaking my arm in third grade, but lady bit trauma from childbirth is fresher on my mind.

What’s the last thing you purchased? 
I bought a bunch of Think Thin bars from Amazon (and did subscribe and save) after the ones from my PopSugar box were so tasty.  Plus it's technically one of my New Years goals to pack breakfast, and this is about the only way I will ever actually achieve this.

Can you touch your nose with your tongue? 
I just tried and Justin said "you're not touching your nose", so I guess that's a no.  He can touch the tip of his nose with his tongue, it's pretty impressive.

Is there anything pink within 10 feet of you? 
Yes, I see a hot pink bra and some pink underwear in my pile of floor clothes.

What’s your favorite animal? 
Pet-wise, cats.  Decoration-wise, owls.  General cuteness-wise, baby porcupines. 

What were you doing last night at 12 AM? Probably sleeping, but I have actually been staying up pretty late these days so I might have been reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed.  
What’s a song that always makes you happy when you hear it? Blind Melon No Rain

What is the single best decision you have made in your life so far? 
To keep my family together.

What’s the last song you listened to? 
Justin made me listen to that ridiculous Thriftshop song, and then made me sit through the video.  And is now playing it again since I asked him the name of the song.  Kill me now.

What is your current desktop picture? 
Home - my all time favorite pic of Adriana and Lucia (it's like a year old).  Work - a pic of Adriana and Lucia's be-Conversed feet.  
You accidentally eat some radioactive vegetables. They were good, and what’s even cooler is that they endow you with the super-power of your choice! What is that power? Definitely mind reading.  
You can re-live any point of time in your life. The time-span can only be a half-hour, though. What half-hour of your past would you like to experience again? Can I splitsies and get the first 15 minutes post-birth of each child?

You just got a free plane ticket to anywhere. You have to depart right now. Where are you gonna go? 
I could really use a beach and a swim-up bar in my life right now, so I'm going to say St. Lucia.  I would also like to echo Ginger's assumptions and my hubs is coming while the kids are with a trusted babysitter.  
Link in the comments if you play along!

Monday, January 28, 2013

February 2013 Spicy Subscriptions Valentine's Day Premium Spice Box Review

This box was sent to me for review.  My life is pretty awesome sometimes.

I was super duper excited when Spicy Subscriptions contacted me asking if I'd like to test out their Valentine's Day Premium Spice Box.  I knew that they changed the program since the previous box I reviewed, but I had no idea what those changes were until I checked out the website.  Keep reading to find out what's in the box.  

The deets: There are now 2 subscription options.  The $22.95 Premium Spice Box has 1 flirty item (SEX TOY), 1-2 full size products, and 4-8 trial sized objects.  The $34.95 Deluxe Spice Box is the same but instead of 1 flirty item there is 1 deluxe item (BIG SEX TOY) and 1 deluxe accessory.  They are currently running a special - if you sign up for a 4 month subscription, your first box is $9.99 (premium) or $19.99 (deluxe).  You can also use the code diniwilks for 5% off the 4 month and 12 month subscriptions.  You need to subscribe by February 5 if you want to guarantee delivery in time for Valentine's Day.  

Date of arrival: January 28, 2013

Packaging: The Spice Box come in very discreet but not very weather-proof packaging.  There was a tear in my package and the awesome black box was a little damp.   I really love the new box.  It's a little more obvious that you belong to a sex sub, but it's much sturdier and more visually appealing to me.  I'd definitely reuse the box.  The contents were nestled in pink tissue paper and packed pretty tightly.  

Oops - there is an error on the contents card.  The description for the edible body icing is wrong; it describes a massage candle from January's box.  Which I now totally want.  Apparently it burns at a lower heat than a regular wax candle, and you use the resulting oil for a massage?  Intriguing.  

The position of the month made me laugh.  Missionary is the new spicy.
Contents and mini reviews: I couldn't try anything out yet since the hubs is working second shift tonight and I wanted to get the review up stat in case you guys need this in your life before V day.  No ratings since I didn't test anything.  

The flirty toy seriously made my life.  BEN WA BALLS ($12), of 50 Shades of Gray fame.  (Still haven't read it?  What are you waiting for?)  I tweeted this picture because I have no shame and because I was so intrigued by these bad boys.  I am genuinely curious if any of you have ever used them, and what you thought.  E-mail me!!!

I am obviously not spicy, as I am more interested in the "vaginal wall exercise" possibilities than the "wear them to a party while your s&m loving creeper boyfriend shoots you knowing glances" possibilities.  I am such a mom.  But now I'm a mom with an on-trend vagina!

Spicy Subscriptions gives some helpful tips here for Ben Wa ball nubes.  I love that they had to specify that there is no possibility of the balls getting lost inside your vagina and then floating around your body.  Which is really too bad; it would certainly make the TSA lines more fun.  
The first full size product is the Warming Body Massager by Heart's Desire ($10).  Unfortunately, the metal disc was bent either because it was crammed pretty tightly in the Spice Box or through the shipping process so the heat source was already activated and the heart was hard (premature activation!)  Too bad, I would have loved to pack this in a romantic getaway bag without any worries about how I was going to boil it for reuse.  But I'm sure it's fine, and it's not like we will realistically be able to go away for a weekend for the next 16.5 years.  The box doesn't specify how many more uses it's good for - does anyone happen to know?

I also received a deluxe sample of the My Joy Collection Body Icing ($7) and a full size Dona Sensual Chromotherapy ($9).  I expected the strawberry flavored icing to be sickeningly sweet, but it actually didn't have much flavor.  I only tried a tiny bit though; I didn't want to waste it.  

I was SO EXCITED to see that the Dona product was in mangosteen, the same scent as the linen spray I got in my last box.  WE LOVE OUR SEXY SPRAY.  This product alone seriously spiced up our boring married people sexy time routine.  One spray and the other person knows it's business time.   This is a bath product; you are supposed to "harness the healing power of color" as you smell the yummy sexy scent.  Hopefully while not dying your whole body red.  Because that would be awkward.  

Next up is a variety pack of Glyde condoms ($4).  Check it out, hippies - they're vegan!  The packaging kind of cracks me up...don't you think it adds insult to injury that the slimfit one is so wee compared to the big kid condoms? 
Finally, we have our standard Spice Box assortment of lube and stuff to wipe up the lube.  Except there is a ton more variety here.  The Frolic ($1.20) is for sex toys, the Aloe Cadabra ($0.70) is all minty for that altoid BJ effect, the Jo lubes ($0.20 each) are for women and an all-in-one massage oil / lubricant.  Not gonna lie, I am actually kind of excited to try to Aloe Cadabra; you can buy 2 get 1 if you go here.  The swipes lovin wipes ($0.12) do what they are supposed to do; I tried it out in my last box.  

Value:  I calculated $44.42 using the best deals on the internet, so Spicy Subscriptions' claim that the box is worth $49.99 is pretty close.  The value is about twice what you pay; not too shabby.  

Overall impression of the box:  I find this box to be pretty much awesome.  I am genuinely excited to try almost everything in it.  Well, okay, fine, scaredcited in the case of the Ben Wa balls, but I really do think that I could benefit from them since I did squeeze out two kiddos.  I think this is about a million percent better than the last box I reviewed, and I'm still loving and using the full size product from that one today, so that speaks volumes about this box.  If every box is as great as this one (the January one definitely was - I saw the reviews), then I'd say this box is totally worth the money.  If not on a monthly basis, definitely on an as needed basis to spice things up.  We will certainly get another box next Valentine's day, if not sooner.  Recommended!  

Overall impression of the service: Spicy Subscriptions is still a very new company, but they are learning and improving very quickly.  I am really happy to see where they have taken the company since just a few short months ago - it has turned into a pretty great service!

NOTD / Julep Catherine Review

I have been really craving some red nails and just couldn't wait until Valentine's day to get them. I was looking for my all time favorite red, OPI's Got the Blues for Red...I was totally thinking it was called Hot Blooded instead, which could explain why I couldn't find it.  I only realized this when I went to find swatches to compare to Catherine (OPI is, in fact, bluer toned, as the name would suggest).  Swiss cheese brain! Anyway, I stumbled on Julep's Catherine instead, which I got in an August Mystery Box but had not yet tried out.

Julep calls Catherine "The original classic, go-to red crème."  I agree with all but the crème part - I think this is best described as a jelly finish.  So shiny!  This is about as classic and fire enginey of a red as you can get, and looks great with my black and white outfit.  The formula was absolutely perfect, which was refreshing since I feel like the last few Julep polishes in a row  were pretty rough, formula-wise.  Love it!

I used the Julep Nail Therapy Basecoat with 2 coats of Catherine.  No top coat because my beloved Seche Vite is missing and I refuse to use anything else.  

I messed up the ring finger, so it has one more coat in this pic

Hello, hangnails.

No flash on left, flash on right

Reader Request: Beauty Subscriptions and Advice for Curly Hair

I realize I am skipping ahead of some of you on this one, but I was really excited when I saw the question posted in the PopSugar Review comments since it involves beauty subscriptions and curly hair, two topics that are near and dear to my heart.

How do you find out about these boxes? If I wanted to get a hair one where would I look? ;) After seeing all your reviews I'm dying to try a hair based one to try to get my curly hair under control but I have no idea where to even start! Any advice/direction would be much appreciated!

I think I originally heard about Birchbox from Twitter (Sara and/or Jessica maybe?) and decided to look for reviews on YouTube before purchasing (something I also did before buying the Naked 2 palette).  I quickly realized that there was a whole WORLD of beauty subs out there, and watched every last thing on Sheryl (Superfreaky1RU) and April's (Beautyfoolreview's) channels.  Sheryl is sadly not making videos any more, but April is a good source since she subscribes to a ton of them.  I went through a bit of a phase where I subscribed to every last box I could find, but then realized that was a little crazycakes and cut back significantly.

If you don't want to just explore YouTube to find out about beauty subs, I'd suggest starting with the Subscription and Sampling Programs thread over at makeuptalk, or the very thorough Subscription Box List over at Ramblings of a Suburban Mom.

I am only aware of two boxes that are strictly related to hair care (curlbox and curlkit), and both of which seem to be marketed solely to black women with natural hair.  I have no idea whether or not this applies to you, Marie.  That's not to say that white chicks can't use those products, but I personally tend to shy away from them unless it specifically spells it out that I can use it too.  I absolutely love Miss Jessie's Quick Curls but would have never tried it if it hadn't stated that it's for "white gals too".  Am I the only one who does this?  Am I missing out on a whole world of amazing hair products that would totally work on me? 

If you aren't sure if curlbox or curlkit are right for you, then I'd have to say that your absolute best bet is the allure beauty box.  I paid $50 for all of this amazingness, and over half the products were hair-related (and almost all were full sized).  Stalk the Allure Access page until the Spring Box is up for sale and then buy it the second you see it, it sells out FAST.  BeautyFix has hair products, too, but a lot of them are from the same line (Nick Chavez).  I wouldn't really go for any of the more mainstream $10 subscription services if I were you, since the hair samples are going to be small (but if you don't mind the gamble, you are more likely to get high end hair samples from Birchbox over Ipsy).  Honestly, since there are so few beauty subs dedicated to hair, your best bet is to just do your research and use your money wisely to pick out products that are likely to be a good fit for your hair.  

Want to know what hair care deals are going on at the drugstore?  Follow Bonnie (bpoytres), she always knows what's going on and might even MAKE you some money with her advice on rebates and CVS extra care bucks.    

Have you read Noemi's great post about curly hair?  She also has one for kids too, which I might revisit if the "wet hair / scrunch / air dry" method ever stops working for Lucia.    

Is your hair more wavy than curly? How about Sarah's beachy waves tutorial or list of products for wavy hair?  I love her advice since her hair is pretty similar to mine (I have a bit more curl, but we must have similar texture because her tutorials always work like a charm).  

I don't personally have any one curly hair routine that I love, but I will definitely share if that ever happens.  If I'm going curly I usually just scrunch my hair with the Miss Jessie's quick curls I mentioned above and let it air dry.  I am a low maintenance kind of girl in the hair department - I love masks and treatments and foo foo stuff every once in a while, but don't really do much to style it.     

That's all I've got - I hope this helps!  

Friday, January 25, 2013

Reader Request: Full Coverage Foundations (Rosacea Friendly!) + tarte TSV

I recently offered up my consulting services, based on my extensive YouTube beauty guru watching and sample box purchasing experience.  I am by no means any sort of makeup expert, but I love doing the research and finding some options at different price points.  If you have any requests, comment below and I'll add you to the list! 

Today's request for full coverage foundations came from my friend Jessica, who has some similar skin issues to mine.  Piece of cake!  

This is right up your alley and you kind of already covered it in your best of 2012, but I want a heavier foundation that can cover up redness and dark spots. I don't have rosacea, but I have a ton of acne scarring and pimples that last for weeks.

Or maybe a heavy duty concealer instead? Right now I use Miracle Skin Perfecter concealer and I looooove it. But with only a BB cream for foundation (oops) the combination of the two isn't enough.

Just my own two cents before I get into the recommendations...I really do highly recommend the Kiehl's dark spot corrector, discussed here. It is seriously a miracle worker, lightening up my dark spots from past breakouts in a matter of days.  I would also suggest reserving the BB Cream for days you are just staying in with the kidlets, or maybe using it more like a primer in combination with a foundation.  If you are trying to cover up redness, those American BB creams won't cut it.  Japanese ones might work though - Jen at frmheadtotoe has the best Japanese BB cream overview ever.  Watch both videos if you are interested in learning about more. 

What I'm currently using:

As discussed in my 2012 beauty favorites, my holy grail combination is MAC Studio Fix powder ($27) and foundation ($27); MAC Pro Longwear concealer ($18).  If I'm crazy red and want a truly flawless finish, I will literally paint my face with the concealer using this Sonia Kashuk pointed blending brush from target ($4), and then use the foundation more sparingly with this duo fibre multipurpose brush ($11).    I set it using this powder brush ($12) and just the tiniest bit of the MAC powder.  I know using brushes is a pain in the ass, and I frequently forego this step in my daily routine, but it really is the best way to get perfect makeup.  A good primer will also help make your makeup last all day.      

Julie asked me what the difference is between the Studio Fix line and the Pro Longwear line...there are really good comparisons here and here, but what it basically boils down to is you should go for Studio Fix if you have dryer skin, and Pro Longwear if you are more oily.  

When I'm not going for a flawless look and just want to look like a normal, non-red human being, I either use Missha BB Cream ($20) or tarte amazonian clay 12 hour full coverage foundation (discussed below), usually applied with my fingers.  I like the Missha, but not enough to repurchase.  It goes on gray but looks more natural as it oxidizes - I still like to use a powder to get it closer to my natural color though.  It has decent staying power, but doesn't quite make it to the end of the work day without pooling a bit.


Hands down the best drugstore full coverage foundation I have tried is the Revlon Colorstay.  I use the normal to dry formula, but they have a combination to oily one as well.  It rivals the MAC in staying power...maybe not 24 hours as they claim, but it will certainly get you through the work day and maybe even happy hour.  I think the reason that I prefer MAC to this is that the MAC matches my skin a bit better and doesn't dry as quickly, but if you are looking for a cheap full coverage foundation this is a really awesome product.

Not so cheap:

Really, the MAC stuff I recommended above is the best in this price range.  All of the other good stuff is more expensive.  


I was having trouble deciding between the Estee Lauder Double Wear ($36) and the Make Up For Ever Mat Velvet Plus ($36).  I ended up going with the MUFE because that's what MakeupByTiffanyD loves and I totally trust her judgement.  Plus I feel like more YouTubers in general mention the MUFE.  Good reviews by people who prefer the MUFE over doublewear are here and here.  I have never tried either of them, but they are definitely on my list!  

Spendy, but there is a really good upcoming deal that makes it more affordable and too unpassupable for this girl:

I have recently fallen in love with the tarte amazonian clay 12 hour full coverage foundation ($38).  Which leads me to a confession.  For the second time since posting my Project 10 pan, I have broken my no buy and bought something I didn't need.  I put a TON of thought into this decision though, and decided it was worth it.  You see, LePooke posted a video about the upcoming Journey to Natural Beauty TSV, and I just couldn't pass it up.  I have done similar tarte QVC deals before where I bought a set on autodelivery and get new shades throughout the year, and I just love it.  What a great way to try out what tarte has to offer!  And this one has the amazonian clay blushes, which I have been dying to try.  So, yeah.  The TSV is on February 5, but you can get it early.  

If you aren't willing to shell out $60, you might want to try out this deal where you get the foundation, the gifted mascara (one of my top 2 all time favorite mascaras) and the maracuja oil for only $32.  Amazing!  

Anyway, I have only been testing this foundation for about a week, but I am already in love.  It is SO CREAMY.  I swatched it on my hand and Adriana was like "ooh, mama, your hand is so soft!" as she helped me rub it in (haha).  It lasts all day and the finish is beautiful.  This one might oust MAC from my #1 position in 2013.  The down side is that out of all of the options listed here, it has the fewest shades (only 5!)

Money is not an object:

Again, I have never tried the Laura Mercier Silk Creme Foundation ($43), but people seem to give it high ratings.  It made Marlena's Top 10 Foundations, and she's another YouTuber that seems pretty trustworthy.  She says it's creamy, which it freaking better be for only 1.18 oz of product at that price.    

And Jessica - if you can hang in there until PJ's at TJ's, I'm bringing an unused tarte Miracle of Maracuja foundation for you (and those jeans we talked about).  I don't love it like the tarte I recommended here, but maybe it would work for you?  

Have you found your holy grail foundation yet? What is it???

UPDATE: I found an awesome new product for rosacea since writing this post, check it out!!

January 2013 PopSugar Must Have Review

I've had some Christmas money burning a hole in my pocket.  I thought about saving it, but then I decided that gift money is meant to be spent on fun stuff.  I did a lot of research and decided that I really wanted to try out a few months of the PopSugar Must Have Box.  I am overloaded on makeup samples to the point that I'm seriously considering cancelling EVERYTHING, and I'd love to find a new box of random goodies to replace the hole that would leave in my life.  

Beautyfoolreview's video of the September box was what really sold me (there are also really great reviews at Ramblings of a Suburban Mom if you'd prefer to see it on a blog).  I mean, are you kidding me?  Spend $35 and get an $84 scarf (at the time - it's $64 now) AND benefit's cabana glama AND the perks of being a wallflower book and movie tickets AND a bunch other other great stuff?

In my opinion, the boxes haven't been as great as the September one, but that just means they are due for another amazing box, right?  Each box is guaranteed to be at least $100 in value, and based on the past boxes, anything that's not my style would definitely still make a great gift.  I put in my order and have been dying to see what would come in the mail ever since.

Date of arrival: The boxes ship on the 10th and then take FOREVER to arrive. I got mine January 24, 2013.

Packaging: The must haves came in a package the size of a large shoebox.  The box was white and pink, with pink tissue paper inside and a cardboard divider inside.  The contents were packed tightly with no extra packing material for protection, but nothing was damaged.  There is a little booklet explaining why the goodies were selected and showing pictures of the products.  According to PopSugar, January is a time to start on fitness resolutions while still indulging in warm treats.  I like that they don't go overboard on the fitness theme, since that's boring and overdone and doesn't apply to everyone.   I personally like to work out and then shove my face full of chocolate.  That's the whole reason I work out!

Contents and mini reviews: There was a good mix of food and non-food items.  Probably a bit heavier on the food than I expected, but that's okay by me.  

Foodie stuff included three think Thin bars, two popbars, and a container of Kraft Jet-Puffed Mallow Bits.  

I haven't tried out the thin Thin bars yet because it's my coworker's last day and she brought in bakery deliciousness.  These look very promising; I am looking forward to having them for breakfast at work next week.  There is a crunch bar with caramel chocolate dipped mixed nuts (9g protein, 6g sugar, 4g fiber), a divine dark chocolate coconut bar (6g protein, 10g sugar, 8g fiber), and a creamy peanut butter protein bar (0g sugar, 20g protein, gluten free).    

I was really excited to see the popbars - I haven't heard of these before!  They are "hot chocolate on a stick" bars in milk chocolate and dark chocolate.  You heat up milk, dip the bars in, and let the chocolate melt.  This sounds DIVINE.  I am planning on trying these this weekend while wearing leggings as pants and a cozy scarf.  

I had to laugh at the Kraft Jet-Puffed Mallow Bits, because it's kind of a pointless item.  Any grocery store across the country has these, so I'm sure I could have bought some myself if I really wanted them.  They taste just like Lucky Charms marshmallows, which means I am going to have a hard time keeping them out of Adriana's grubby little fingers.  Fake marshmallows are pretty much her favorite thing ever.  I am probably going to use them for potty related bribery [THE KID IS STILL REQUESTING DIAPERS TO POOP IN, OMFG].

Non foodie stuff included a PopSugar exclusive Remix watch, a Stott Pilates Stability Ball, and Epicuren lip balm. 

It seems that most people got either a pink, white, black, or blue watch (similar to the TimeBomb shown here).  I haven't taken mine out of the package yet because I want to see if someone who got the black or pink would want to trade me.  Blue isn't really my thing.  I know a lot of people thought it was more of a kid's watch, with the chunky style and the colorful lights, but I kind of like it.  I would definitely wear this while working out or hanging out with the kids on the weekend.

I am waiting for Justin to blow up the stability ball for me this weekend to test it out.  This is another sort of weird item to include because I kind of feel like 95% of people who are into this type of subscription service would already have one of these if they wanted one.  However, I am in that 5%, so I'm psyched.  This is one of those things that I have always wanted but wouldn't really buy for myself.  And now I have one!  Yay!  Does anyone have any stability ball workout DVD recommendations?

The Epicuren lip balm smells like vicks with a hint of gasoline, which sounds like it would be disgusting but I really secretly like that sort of thing.  Is that the tea tree oil that makes it smell like that?  It's been a while so I can't remember what tea tree oil smells like.  The balm is comparable to a carmex pot in texture.  This is the kind of balm I like to keep on my nightstand to put on right before I go to bed.  It would also be good for the beach since it has sunscreen in it, but I doubt it will still be around past winter.    

Paper stuff included a $15 off unique Casetagram code, some stability ball exercises, and a $1.00 off any two think Thin bars coupon.  Nice!

I normally toss any of the coupon codes, but I think I'm actually going to order a Casetagram case after playing around on the website a bit.  You can link it to your instagram or facebook account, or upload pictures from your computer.  The only frustrating thing was that I'd get really far in designing my case and then the website would reload and not save my images.  I didn't even get far enough to take a screen shot to show you guys!  I don't know if this is an issue with the computer I'm on or a problem I'd have at home as well.  I guess I'll find out this weekend.  

Value:  I used the REFERFRIENDS code to get $5 off, but since it normally isn't that cheap, I'll say the box cost $35.  This box was either valued at $111.39 or $126.39, depending on whether you use the Casetagram code.  That is the equivalent of a $28.32 or a $32.14 value for a $10 subscription.  I am using the Casetagram, so that means this is exactly on par with Birchbox, Ipsy, and QVC Test Tube this month.  Crazy!  And the watch and the stability ball will get way more use and last years longer than any of the stuff I got in the other three boxes.  

Click to enlarge
Overall impression of the box: I liked it!  I would have definitely been disappointed if I already had a stability ball, but I don't.  The watch isn't my style so I'm really, really, really hoping to find someone to trade me.  Even if I don't, I feel like I will use it.  The marshmallows are the least exciting thing in the box to me, but they will make Adriana happy, so I can honestly say that every last thing in here will be used and useful.  B.

Overall impression of the service: I only have one month to go off of here...I think the website is a little janky in that I honestly didn't know if it took my credit card information until I got the confirmation email.  And when I go to the choose your subscription section of the main site, it still has my credit card information listed, which is definitely a little scary.  I'm guessing it's not a very secure website.  The shipping also took crazy long for no apparent reason.  I do like that they have a good referral program and think they put a lot of thought into what items to include, so I'm really looking forward to sticking with this one for a bit.  I'll start them off at a C.  

What do you guys think?  Would you pay $35 for something like this or would you rather use the money to shop yourself?  I always find it amusing when people complain to the company that they hate the box, as if it's not totally obvious when you sign up that you might not like every single thing, or like they were forced to spend their money on this instead of something else.  Too funny.  

Please let me know if you got a black watch and want to trade!!!

Like what you see?  I'd love it if you would use my referral code to sign up!  Make sure you use the REFERFRIENDS code to get $5 off your first month, it worked for me!   

Thursday, January 24, 2013

My Crossfit Akron Experience

Thanks to my friend Katie (better known to Akron CrossFitters as Kat, but she was introduced to me as Katie so it will take years for my brain to adjust), I was recently able to check out CrossFit Akron on a bring a friend day.  I kind of had mixed feelings about attending, since CrossFit has the tendency to come off as a little cultish intense in certain blog circles.  Plus the whole concept seems kind of odd to an outsider ("I worked out so hard I puked!  I am so sore I want to die!  I can't wait to go back!")

However, I am not really one to knock something unless I've tried it.  And I know enough about myself to know that there are certain elements of CrossFit that would totally appeal to me.  I may be a shitty runner, but I am definitely capable of feats of strength.  My body is totally built for this!  And, as you have probably gathered from my excessive beauty sample habit, I have a bit of an addictive personality.  I could absolutely see myself being one of those people who get WAAAAAAAAAY into CrossFit.  I can't really say that about too many other workouts.  

I basically bugged Katie at various book club meetings until she invited me to go.  Her class is at 5:30 in the morning (gah!) but it's not like I sleep much past that anyway.  Justin agreed to get the kiddos ready that morning, and I was off to class.  

The South Hawkins location is a really nice building in a fairly crappy area.  It's really too bad they moved - the old building was right by my house.  However, the facilities are really nice.  I was kind of in awe as I looked around - it's just so DIFFERENT from the normal gym setup and atmosphere.  Weird equipment, cold room, flat screen TVs where you can sign in and track your statistics, giant signs with messages congratulating local CrossFitters for their accomplishments.  Katie later explained that the banner was for our classmate and my partner for the warmup, Betsy, who was the 2011 CrossFit Masters World Champion and got second place in the CrossFit World Games this summer.  Pretty impressive!

We started off jogging a few laps, then everyone who couldn't remember my name had to do some burpees.  We partnered up and one person did planks while the other person jumped back and forth over their legs for 30 seconds.  I was SO SCARED I was going to jump on my partner, but that didn't happen.  I can't say the same for her though - thankfully she was tiny :)  By the third plank I had to rest my legs a few seconds, and by the fourth I could only stay up about half the time.  The jumping was worse though - the cold air in the room was really making my asthma act up.  I knew I was in for a crazy workout when I could barely make it through the warmup.

Here is the WOD info, for those of you who are fluent in CrossFit:

I was fine with the deadlifts; I lifted 73 pounds and could have done a lot more, but I wanted to start low so I could learn the right form and avoid injury.  The walking lunges were KILLER - I only had a 10 pound weight and I wanted to die by the third lap around.  

I was a little confused by the prison walks / wall balls / farmer's carry.  I didn't realize we were doing it for time, or I would have gone a lot faster.  Also, we were apparently only supposed to go down and back and down, instead of 3 full laps each time (so I did more than double of what I was supposed to do before Katie realized what happened at let me stop).  The wall balls (throw a medicine ball up in the air, catch as you crouch, pop up and throw, repeat) were actually the hardest part for me; it was really hard to keep going and not stop.  Farmer's carry (hold kettlebells down at your sides like you are carrying buckets and walk) was the easiest, as my years of pack mule mom training came in handy.  The prison walks (that thing the girl in the pic below is doing) were kind of a bitch after all of those lunges. 

Image courtesy of CrossFit Akron.
I was a little worried about the whole "people will watch you until you are done and cheer for you and make you finish" aspect of it, but honestly, that part wasn't weird at all.  I obviously finished last since I was doing too many laps for the prison walks and farmer's carry, but it's not like people were staring at me or judging me or anything.  Katie picked up some kettlebells and did some laps with me, which was very nice of her.  If I didn't know anyone and it was someone random finishing it out with me, that wouldn't have been too awkward either.  Everyone in the class was really nice and supportive and positive.  JP, the trainer, was very motivating, yelling out if he thought people could use more weight but it was all in a "you can do it" sort of way, not in a Jillian Michaels yelling in your face sort of way.    

Image courtesy of CrossFit Akron.
JP took a pic of the class with me in the middle when I was done, which seems to be part of the CrossFit experience.  The website has a lot of pictures of people doing the workouts, so I think having your picture snapped when you are red and sweaty is part of the deal.
Image courtesy of Katie :)
I walked out of there feeling a HUGE sense of accomplishment, since I made it through the workout and didn't die.  I got a little woozy a couple of times (after the lunges) but everything was definitely all in the realm of my ability.  I was INSANELY SORE for about 5 days after the workout (stairs were a killer) but my joints actually felt fine.  I thought for sure the lunges would result in knee pain but all was well.  

I see why everyone who does CrossFit wants to talk about it so much - it's kind of hard to think about anything else when your body is constantly reminding you of what you did.  Plus it's pretty cool to push yourself to the limit and succeed.  You SHOULD feel proud after finishing a CrossFit workout - it's NO JOKE!

I would absolutely like to join CrossFit, but I think it's probably cost and schedule prohibitive for me right now.  There is not enough information on the website to make an educated decision, which is a little disappointing.  I think they expect to hook you in during the free Intro session, then they sign you up for boot camp before telling you how much the class actually costs.  I think I could handle either a 5:30 M-W or T-Th class, since I got back before 7am.  However, that would be pretty unfair to Justin until he stops working second shift on Mondays and Tuesdays (no end in sight currently) since the girls rarely sleep until 7.  Night classes on Mondays and Tuesdays are definitely out as well since I'm a single parent those days.  I'd almost have to see if I could arrange to come Wednesday and Thursday nights, but I don't know if they are flexible like that or not.  

Any CrossFitters out there - how much does your class cost?  

Winter Skin Care Routine for Rosacea

I am starting to feel like a jerk because people come to my blog searching for rosacea help and all they find are my bitchy rant and all of the red faced pictures one could possibly desire.  You don't have to have rosacea to use most of these products though, so read on if you are looking to mix up your winter skincare routine.

Background rosacea info: I have a prescription for doxycycline, but I prefer to not take antibiotics on a daily basis if I don't have to.  I think I do a good job controlling my cysts with my skincare routine, so it just seems unnecessary.  I don't do anything beyond skincare to control my redness, because dietary changes involve cutting out everything I love in life (chocolate! wine! spicy food!), and my doctor kind of freaked me out when she said that the laser therapy can cause black eyes and extreme reactions in rosacea patients.  I'll just stick to makeup, thanks.  

Current morning routine:
1.  Sumadan face wash in the shower
2.  philosophy's the microdelivery exfoliating wash in the shower
3.  Pat face dry - do not rub!
4.  Try to wait at least 15 minutes if possible
5.  Alpha Hydrox AHA Souffle
6.  Wait 2 minutes
7.  Finacea
8.  Wait 2 minutes
9.  Kiehl's Ultra Facial Oil-Free Lotion
10.  Kiehl's Rosa Arctica Eye Cream
11. Kiehl's Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution
12. Wait 2 minutes
13. Makeup

Current non-lazy evening routine:
1.  Neutrogena Oil Free Eye Makeup Remover (if needed)
2.  Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Cleansing Pads
3.  Pat face dry - do not rub!
4.  Alpha Hydrox AHA Souffle
5.  Wait 2 minutes
6.  Finacea
7.  Wait 2 minutes
8.  Aveeno Positively Ageless Lifting and Firming Night Cream
9.  Kiehl's Rosa Arctica Eye Cream
10. Kiehl's Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution

Current lazy evening routine:

1.  Yes to Cucumbers Facial Towelettes

Current REALLY lazy evening routine:

1.  Pass out on couch
2.  Wake up in haze
3.  Go directly to bed; do not pass go, do not collect $200

My thoughts on the products:

Sumadan Face Wash (price varies depending on insurance).  I keep a giant bottle of prescription Sumadan wash in the shower.  I've had this bottle since my November 2011 dermatologist appointment.  Apparently I don't shower enough?  Hehe, just kidding.  I used some other stuff up before I started the Sumadan, plus I take breaks from it every once in a while if there is a sample I'm particularly interested in trying out.  The Sumadan was pretty expensive for a facewash (even after insurance) so I don't think I will be repurchasing it.  The sulfur smell is really heavy, but you get used to it after a while.  The main reason I feel neutral about it is that I think other products are responsible for minimizing my cysts, and my skin is the same level of red it's always been.  I'd rather use something cheaper and more convenient if the Sumadan doesn't have any clear added value.  I will let you know if I get crazy rosacea face again after I stop using it.  

RIP, Original Clarisonic.  
Clarisonic Face Scrubber ($102).  I would normally use the Sumadan wash in combination with my Clarisonic Classic a couple of times a week to combat winter dullness, but mine just crapped out after 5 years of frequent use (it won't charge anymore).  I use the sensitive brush head with a light touch for about a minute at the most, usually when I'm in the shower.  This absolutely results in less cysts, smaller pores, and smoother skin.  I will likely purchase the Mia after I get my tax return (I don't really think there is enough of a difference between the Mia and Mia 2 to justify the extra $35).  The Clarisonic has never bothered my rosacea.  I highly recommend it, whether you have rosacea or not.  

the microdelivery exfoliating wash by philosophy ($20).  My skin is always dry and has the tendency to get rough patches, but it's far worse in the winter.  I started using this regularly after my Clarisonic died.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this product because it's gentle enough to exfoliate on a daily basis.  The grit is really fine, and it doesn't seem to inflame my rosacea at all.  Plus it lasts FOREVER.  This 8 ounce bottle was part of a gift set I got several years ago.  It came in a set with the purity made simple cleanser (which I personally hate - I CAN TASTE IT FOR HOURS) and the amazing grace perfume and shower gel (which I love - it's a light, feminine scent).  I use it all of the time and the bottle is half full.  I have no idea how this is possible, but I'm not complaining. The only down side is that, like the purity cleanser, it has a bit of a weird, medicinal smell. 

Alpha Hydrox AHA Souffle ($11).  This product made and was reviewed in my 2012 beauty favorites.  It does burn at first, but my skin got used to it and I hardly notice it anymore.  In my opinion, for my own skin, it definitely does more good than harm.  The glycolic acid makes the skin cells have a much quicker turnover, so spots from past breakouts fade much faster.  If you do have rosacea, I would definitely proceed with caution with this product - test a small area and see how your skin reacts.  I am VERY HESITANT to offer this up as a general rosacea recommendation.  If you have tough skin?  THIS STUFF IS AWESOME.     

Finacea (price varies depending on insurance).  My skincare routine was much simpler when I first started using finacea, so I know for a fact that this helps reduce the number of bumps/cysts and even seems to help the redness a bit.  It burns a bit (less than the Alpha Hydrox), but I got used to it right away.  Out of all of the rosacea-specific products I have tried, this is my absolute must have.     

Kiehl's products.  In the summer, I would definitely use a light moisturizer with SPF, like CeraVe or Cetaphil.  In the winter, I am more likely to experiment with some of my samples that don't have SPF, seeing as how I'm only outside for as long as it takes me to walk from my house to my car (and it's usually dark then anyway).  I belong to enough beauty subscription services that if I'm patient, I can hoard several samples from the same line to test all at once.  I am currently using the Kiehl's Ultra Facial Oil-Free Lotion (from my July Glam Bag), Kiehl's Rosa Arctica Eye Cream (from my October Birchbox), and Kiehl's Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution (from a test tube, I think).  

  • Kiehl's Ultra Facial Oil-Free Lotion ($26).  I would recommend a thicker lotion for those of you with dry skin due to rosacea - I think the Kiehl's is probably better for normal to oily skin.  It also makes my skin really shiny.  Wouldn't repurchase.
  • Kiehl's Rosa Arctica Eye Cream ($46).  This eye cream is nice and thick; this post compares it to creme de la mer.  I haven't really noticed much of a decrease in my fine lines, but the area around my eyes is definitely much softer.  Not sure if I'd repurchase; I have to try out some other (cheaper) stuff first.  
  • Kiehl's Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution ($50). The star of the show for me is the Dark Spot Solution.  I dabbed it on some past breakouts on my chin and noticed that they were absolutely, positively VISIBLY lighter within 5 days.  It stings a bit but nothing too intense.  It will kill me to shell out the $50 for just one ounce of the stuff, but I will totally repurchase this.  

Neutrogena oil-free eye makeup remover ($7).  This is hands down my all-time favorite eye makeup remover.  It's not greasy, it doesn't sting or burn, and it completely removes 100% of my eye makeup (even the most stubborn waterproof mascaras).  LOVE.  

Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Cleansing Pads ($6).  I have no idea why I had such a hard time using these up that I stuck them on my Project 10 Pan list.  I have fallen in love with them all over again, and will definitely repurchase once I use up a bunch of my other cleansers.  These are gentle enough for my skin and I love the bumpy side to exfoliate.  I should also point out that I generally prefer the Positively Radiant line to the Ultra Calming line.  Weird, right?  You'd think that stuff is made specifically for my skin, but it I actually find it to be irritating.  Not more so than the Alpha Hydrox or Finacea, but enough to make me pick up Positively Radiant instead.    

Aveeno Positively Ageless Lifting and Firming Night Cream ($15).  This is the only night cream I have ever used, so I don't really have anything to compare it to.  I am glad that Project 10 Pan got me into the habit of using it again.  It's nice and thick, and I like the scent.  I'd like to try some other stuff out before determining if I'd repurchase.  

Yes to Cucumbers Facial Towelettes ($6).  This product also made and was reviewed in my 2012 beauty favorites.  I  think they are amazing for travel and for lazy nights, and they don't bother my rosacea.  However, I am working towards not having them be a regular part of my routine; this should only be used as a last resort.  

My thoughts on the routine:

I am glad I wrote this out, because it's really making me rethink my routine.  I think I need to simplify a bit.  Ideally, I would purchase a new Clarisonic and ditch some of the exfoliating steps.  I am also wondering if the Alpha Hydrox is an absolutely necessary product on top of the Finacea.  My next dermatologist appointment is in April, and I plan to bring this list and to ask if the azelaic acid has any anti-aging benefits.  I'd love to be able to skip that step!  In the meantime, since the Alpha Hydrox is about to run out, I think I'm going to replace it with a less irritating anti-aging cream and to just rely on the Kiehl's to correct dark spots.  I have Vichy LiftActiv sample I got from BeautyFix, so I think I'm going to go with that.  

What is your current skincare routine?  Do you do anything different for the winter?

Update: For some full coverage foundation recommendations to cover up rosacea or other redness, go here!