Friday, August 30, 2013

First Date

My coworker told us he is going to Olive Garden for the first time tonight (which is insane - I can't imagine an Italian Margarita free existence), and it kicked off a long conversation about the chain.  He then mentioned that it's his brother's go-to first date location, which brings me to the purpose of this post.

I know it's been a long time since I've been on a first date (ours was September 19, 2006), but I am pretty sure that if a dude had taken me to the OG on the first date, it would have significantly harmed his chances for a second date.  Not because I didn't like Olive Garden, or because I was a snob who wanted a 5 star restaurant.  I was a totally different kind of snob.  I would have immediately assumed that a guy who wanted to go to Olive Garden was a generic kind of guy, and wasn't for me. 

My ideal first date would have been some sort of hole in the wall place that serves authentic Thai or Indian or Ethiopian or Vietnamese.  A place with character, that isn't a chain.  Bonus points if the guy was a little scruffy, a whole lot geeky, and was a bit of a hipster without, you know, intentionally going out of his way to be a hipster.  [I know, I know.  But a girl likes what a girl likes.]

So how does that compare with my first date with Justin?  We went to a bar.  And I'm pretty sure we went to a bar for our next couple of dates too.  We drank beer, played pool, and had a really good time.  If I couldn't compete with my date on who had had been to the most amazing indie rock concerts in the smallest venue a few years before anyone had even HEARD of them, I was definitely up for competing in games of skill.  

I'm glad he didn't take me to Olive Garden almost 7 years ago, because I think we quickly would have run out of things to talk about and it would have ended there.  Instead, our dates were more like two friends hanging out and less like interviews.  Which is important, if you end up marrying the guy and making adorable little girls together down the road. 

Gratuitous adorable little girl picture: 

Today was technically their first day in Preschool 2 and Toddler 2.
And you can see some pictures of young ass Laura and Justin here.  

So let's talk about first dates...what's your ideal date, and how does it compare with the first date with your significant other?  What's the best first date you have ever been on?  The worst?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Project 25 Pan: My New Beauty Dehoarding Strategy

I mentioned in my last post that I have a new makeup purchasing / using up strategy.  Basically, my beauty closet is overflowing and it's not getting better even though I have cut waaaaaay back on the subscription services.  I am incapable of seeing a really amazing deal and just letting it slide, so the stuff just keeps piling up - Hautelook sucks me in every time.  The no buys are great while I'm doing them, but I find that the month after a strict no buy results in a makeup binge, which is kind of counterproductive.  So I think I will continue no buys when I'm trying to cut back on other life purchases, but makeup needs special treatment. 

In addition to clutter, there are other unwanted side effects from having too much makeup and nowhere to put it: 

Never, ever, ever trust a quiet moment. (Revlon Balm Stain)
First, I made a wish list.  I sat back, looked at my collection, and thought about what brands and products I really love.  Makeup is my only hobby that isn't free, so I am okay with building a big collection as long as I'll use and love each item.  I figure if I'm only allowed to buy things on the list, that will cut down on the impulse purchases.  And I also figure that if I stick to buying the stuff that has been on the list the longest, then I must REALLY want that item so it's worth getting.  

Then I thought about my main goals...use up the stuff I paid my hard earned dollars on before it goes bad, and take notes of what I liked and didn't like so I know what to get down the road if I ever run out of that type of product and need to make a purchase.  

I need an incentive to use stuff up, and a place to keep my notes.  The second part is easy - I have wanted to blog about my beauty empties for a while, since those are among my favorite youtube videos to watch.  The first part gets complicated, but I have a plan.  I did a Project 10 Pan a while back, and it was mostly a success (I have one lip balm that never goes down no matter how much I use it, and I lost one item, so I used up 9 out of 11 before I bought more stuff).  I used that as a starting point, with modifications.

Here are my Project 25 Pan rules:

  • As evidenced by the name, I don't think using up 10 items is enough of a challenge.  I need to use up 25 products in order to purchase ONE item off my wish list.
  • This is a LIFE strategy, not a one time thing.  One 25 Pan ends, another begins.  
  • Since I am also trying to use up samples, it doesn't seem fair to include them in my 25 Pan.  I will have a separate Project 25 Pan for samples smaller than, say, 1 oz, and I can buy ONE item off my list for every TWO sample 25 pans completed.  If an item is full size and it's less than an ounce, it's okay to put it in the main list.  
  • This isn't just for makeup.  Skin, hair, nail, and any other beauty products are fair game.
  • Items that are going to be replaced don't count.  For example, Justin and I generally use Head and Shoulders shampoo, but I also have a number of shampoos and conditioners in the beauty closet that I got in Allure boxes or on sale or I just wanted to test or whatever.  We always replace the Head and Shoulders when it runs out, so that's never going to count.  Whenever I use up all of my spare conditioners, the last conditioner is going to be replaced, so it's not going to count.  Make sense?
  • Other non-countable items are going to be deodorant, toothpaste, and razors.  I always buy those things in value packs so I have multiples, but the value packs get replaced with other value packs and I only stick to one brand for those products so it seems like cheating to count them.  
  • Beauty tools, cotton swabs, q-tips, etc. also don't count.  
  • Basically any item that is an "essential" and I don't have a zillion extras doesn't count. 
  • I will write up an empties for each completed Project 25 pan post, where I do a quick review of the item.  I might have a few non-countable items on there too if it's worth reviewing. 
  • I am allowed to replace items I use on a regular basis when they run out, and I won't need to use up 25 items to do so.  For example, Hervana blush and the Naked Basics palette are part of my daily routine, so if I hit pan it's fine to get another one.  But the empty won't count for 25 Pan.  
  • I have a bin of foundations and BB creams I'm trying to use up.  Once I get through all of those, I'm allowed to buy the Naked Skin line from Urban Decay without having to hit 25 items.  
  • I am allowed to shop in the Loreal Company Store every 5 weeks when I get my pass because it's only going to be around until the end of the year and I only stock up on my expensive Kiehl's skincare or Clarisonic brush heads when I'm in there.  
  • Since the Allure beauty box is only 3 times a year, I will be allowed to look at what's in it, look at my collection, and make a grown up decision if I should participate or not.  
  • Same for the Sephora Sun Care and Favorites Kits.
  • I am allowed to continue Ipsy and PopSugar.  
  • No more Hautelook beauty purchases, unless I have referral dollars.  If you want to contribute to that end by setting up an account after using my referral link, here it is.  But if you don't, that's cool too. I will just have to survive without the daily Hautelook temptation. 
  • No more Julep, unless I have referral points.  If you want to sign up with my referral link, here it is.  But again, I don't need it in my life.  I have loved my two years of Mavenhood, but it's not a must have.  
  • No more QVC.  I think I have one more Test Tube and one more Tarte set coming from my existing subscriptions, then that's it.  No more.   
I *THINK* this setup will work for me.  I will have enough built in cheats where I can still have fun with my hobby (continuing my favorite beauty subs and specific deals I am not willing to bend on).  But this should accomplish my desire to stop the impulse buys and to use stuff up.  I might make adjustments to my plan as I go along, but it's a start.  

Do you have a goo hoarding problem?  What do you do to cut down the clutter when it gets out of control?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Beauty Wish List

After an August that was a bit more spendy than I would have liked (the 3 paycheck months always beg me to splurge), I have decided to go with a new makeup purchasing strategy.  I will let you know what I have in mind in my next post, but in the meantime I am using this place to list all of the things I REALLY ACTUALLY want, so when I AM allowed to buy more things, it will be off a list and not an impulse buy.  

Also, I know it's probably insane that I have every single UD lipstick, tarte blush, and benefit boxed powder on here, but I am a collector (slash hoarder) by nature and those products are amazing.  

  • Naked Skin foundation, BB cream, and powder
  • Naked 3 Palette
  • Lip liners in bang, shame
  • Revolution lipsticks in naked, fiend, native, f bomb, streak, protest, strip, 69, catfight, jilted, anarchy, turn on, rapture, rush, obsessed, lovelight, shame, bang, manic, venom, liar, naked2. 
  • Flushed palette
  • LORAC Pro Palette
  • LORCA Pro to Go Palette
  • Unzipped Palette
  • Amazonian clay full coverage airbrush foundation and kabuki brush
  • Amazonian clay 12 hour blush in amused, blissful, blushing brude, dollface, exposed, fearless, natural beauty, tipsy, adored, glisten, buff, frisky, dazzled, charisma, peaceful, achiote, flush, ticked, passion. 
  • Amazonian clay waterproof cream eyeshadow in slate, seashell pink, plum smoke, shimmering bronze, shimmering moss

  • Boxed powders in rockateur, hoola, hervana, dandelion, sugar bomb, bella bamba, coralista, dallas
  • stay flawless primer
  • fakeup concealer
  • Freedom system 10 eye shadow square palette
  • Freedom system eye shadow squares in ????????
  • MAC Ruby Woo and Cream Cup lipsticks
  • NARS And God Created the Woman palette
  • NARS Guy Bourdin cheek palette
  • Stila In the Light palette
  • Laura Mercier Artist's Palette 2
  • Macadamia oil deep repair hair mask
  • Embryolisse concentrated lait cream
  • Bioderma eye makeup removed / toner
  • Kate Spade Twirl
  • Viva La Juicy Noir
  • Full size glam glow masks (black, blue, AND white)
  • Skinceuticals Redness Neutralizer
  • Kiehl's creamy eye treatment with avocado
  • NuMe Pentacle Deep Waver (got the Bed Head one instead)
  • NuMe Titan 3
  • T3 hair dryer
  • Sigma Essential Kit - Make Me Classy
  • Sigma Synthetic Essetial Kit (10 brushes)
  • Sigma Performance Eyes Kit
  • Sephora Glitz and Glam and Superstars sets
  • Tom Ford Cocoa Mirage and Silvered Topaz palettes
  • Chanel Ombre Essentielle Soft Touch Eye Shadow in Taupe Gris
  • Burberry eyeshadows in pale barley, taupe brown, midnight brown, dark sable, trench
  • Bite beauty agave lip mask and lipstick in fig
  • Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in dim light
  • Some sort of fancy highlighter...Becca shimmering skin perfector, Dior diamond, Bobbi Brown shimmer brick, etc.
Stuff I didn't buy that I no longer want
  • UD Nail polish in vice, addiction
  • Tarte Lipsurgences in various shades
  • Cure Natural Aqua Peeling Gel
  • fresh Black Tea Body Perfecting Mask
  • Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask
  • Guerlain meteorites
Stuff I didn't buy that is now sold out
  • Tom Ford She Wolf
What is on your beauty wishlist? (you I can add it to mine.  ha!)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Bring Back The Words: Week 10...Why I'd Never Name My Kid Amanda

I have been wanting to participate in Ginger's Bring Back the Words link up, and decided to actually get off my butt and do it this week.  I figure I spend enough time telling you about my hobby/obsession, so I went with the other one.  

Prompt 2:
School is starting for a lot of people these days. Tell us your most memorable “back to school” related story.
I don't really remember the first day of preschool or kindergarten, but I do remember my first day of first grade.  It was a new school, the one I would attend for the next 8 years.  It was the same school my older brother went to.  It was the first time I would ride a school bus, attend a full day of school, eat lunch in a cafeteria.  I don't remember being nervous, I think I was more excited than anything (nerd alert).  

The first day of school, everyone gathered in the cafeteria to find out their class assignment.  This wasn't just for first graders; even the older kids didn't know which teacher they would get until the first day of school.  I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY wanted the same teacher my brother Nick had, Mrs. Buchor.  Thankfully, she called my name and I got to stand in her line.  Best day ever!!

We started to leave the cafeteria, but then there was a bunch of shouting.  Someone forgot their lunch on the cafeteria table!  Burning with shame, I snatched my bag out of the bigger kid's hand and ducked back in line, my eyes focused on the floor.  

The rest of the day went by without a hitch, until...I met my arch nemesis, Amanda C.  Have I ever shared to you my theory that no decent human being has ever been named Amanda?  Seriously.  Every Amanda I have ever met is an evil bitch.  Mandys are even worse, since they are a bitch with a side of slut, usually pointed in the direction of my nearest boyfriend.  I fucking hate Amandas.  Every last one of them.    

And it all started the first day of first grade.  What horrible offense did Amanda C. do to forever tarnish my opinion of her and every Amanda to come?  She snottily made fun of me for coloring outside the lines.  I looked over at her paper, which was neatly filled in with such a light touch that the colors looked pastel, and then over at mine, my dark strokes jumping over the lines by a full inch in some places.  Shit.  I really did color outside the lines.  I stared at my paper and felt my cheeks grow hot for the second time that day.  

I really am a world champion grudge holder.  28 years later, and I am still pissed off that Amanda C. ruined my first day of first grade.  I thought I would never outlive the shame of leaving behind my lunch bag, but only a few hours later, an Amanda embarrassed me a hundred times more than Lunchgate ever would.  Fucking Amandas.

[Side note: Amanda C. got held back that year, so I win at first grade, lack of coloring ability notwithstanding.]

Is it really weird that those two incidents are what stands out the most in my mind?  Come to think of it, 99% of my memories from first through eighth grade are ones in which I was burning with shame.  I am pretty sure my grade school experience was everyone else's high school experience, which must have been why I loved high school so much.  

Do you participate in Ginger's link ups?  What are you waiting for?  DO IT!

And what names are forever ruined for you?  Inquiring minds want to know.  

Monday, August 19, 2013

August 2013 Ipsy Glam Bag Review

Ipsy FINALLY sent me my August Glam Bag this weekend, woohoo!  I had read the spoilers this month and was SO EXCITED for the bag, so of course this was the latest one ever.

Warning: the lighting in my pics is still all over the place because my iPhone is a hunk of junk after being dropped a thousand times.  

Date of arrival: August 17, 2013.  They are getting later and later...ever since May I have gotten my bag around the 13 or so, and before that it was always on or before the 10th.  I think one month it even came as early as the 6th.  In addition to the extreme lateness of the bags, people on facebook and makeuptalk were complaining that they received duplicate bags, open bags (the glue came apart but the stuff was all there), or empty envelopes.  

I would say Ipsy needs to cut cord with DHL and find someone who can get the job done, but I'm wondering if some of it is Ipsy, too.  I never got a tracking email this month, which could be an issue on either end.  And if Ipsy is giving DHL crappy envelopes, that's on Ipsy.  I don't really care whose fault it is though, I just want them to fix it so my goodies can come home to mama sooner.  

Packaging: My bubble wrap mailer was nice and secure, thankfully.  It came with the theme card listing all of the discounts and an invitation to throw a benefit lash bash for your friends.  I AM SO ENTERING THAT CONTEST.  The theme this month is "Glamour Academy", which is very appropriate for August / back to school time.  It's also a bit of a lazy theme because you could justify putting literally anything in there.  

A lot of people were going to great lengths to bedazzle over or chemically remove the print on this month's bag, but I actually thought it is cute.  Plus that's way too much effort for a cheapie makeup bag.  It's the same shape/style as the March (the nautical one) and April (the white and pink one) bags, which is fine by me because they are the perfect size for travel shower kits.  

The bottom left coloring is not true to life, the other two are closer.
Contents and mini reviews:  My bag contained the Michael Todd True Organics Jojoba Charcoal Facial Scrub, Pixi Lash Booster Mascara, Pacifica Alight BB cream, Chella Brow Pencil in Dazzling Dark Brown, and noya lip balm in cherry.  

All of the big YouTube gurus have been talking about Michael Todd for months, but I first became interested after vlogwithkendra's review.  I was SO EXCITED to get to try it that I actually went to the site and bought the whole damn dry sensitive skin regimen as soon as my glam room opened and I got the 30% off code (AUGIPSY).  The line is on sale through the end of the month for $85, and the discount knocked it down to $60.  Shipping was free, plus they threw in a pumpkin mask - the very same one that was in other Ipsy bags this month.  So glad I got the charcoal in this bag!

I took some super creepy bathtub selfies for you when I was trying the scrub out.  It's not very exxfoliating - the scrubby particles are few and far between, and are very gentle.  I think if you have very dry skin this wouldn't work at getting all of the patches off on its own.  However, the magic of this scrub is in the charcoal.  It's supposed to be very good at drawing out any impurities.  My skin was nice and soft afterwards, but I'm not sure if the credit goes to the MT or to the dermalogica precleanse and cleanser I used before the scrub.  Either way it was a lot of fun to try.  A+ for letting us test Michael Todd, B for the product itself (so far).  

I haven't opened the Pixi yet because I have a zillion open mascaras, but I was surprised to see how many people were giving it a positive review when I was researching the price.  Pixi products have been hit or miss for me in the past.  

Here is the Pacifica Alight BB Cream swatched on my hand in various stages of blendi-ness (Ignore the Chella swatches for now).  I was initially worried about the oranginess, but it blended out and more or less matched my skin tone.  I thought since it's called "Alight" that it would be on the sparkly side but it gives a really subtle (almost imperceptible) sheen.  

If I look tired, it's because I am.  My kids were insane this weekend.
And here is how the BB works on my skin.  The top left is my bare skin.  I have rosacea, hence the super redness.  The top right is my skin after the Pacifica, bottom left is with revlon color stay on top (holy hell does that foundation give off a serious white cast in photos), and bottom right is my final full face of makeup for the day.  I am wearing the Pacifica, Chella, and a UD lipstick in Naked, so we can call it an official Ipsy August look.  

This is where I wish I had a better camera. You can probably tell that the BB evened out my skin tone, but the difference was actually more dramatic in person.  I would say that from a "skin tone evening out" perspective, the Pacifica BB cream is on par with Urban Decay's Naked Skin (for a fraction of the price).  While there is no way I could wear it alone, it makes a pretty darn good base for people like me who still need foundation for extra coverage.  And it really did magically illuminate my skin - I had a nice sheen (not quite dewy, but pretty) when I was done.  Based on the first impression, I'd give it a B+ (I liked it for what it is but I still think BB creams are overrated).    
Like the Michael Todd, I was chomping at the bit to use the Chella discount before I even got my bag, but I forced myself to wait until I could test the pencil for a week or so before purchasing.  I absolutely love the Chella highlighter pencil and brow gel I received in past Ipsy bags (you may remember I thought my tube of brow gel was empty, but I actually did end up getting to use it once the product settled).  If the Chella brow pencil has similar staying power to my holy grail brow product (the Anastasia Brow Wiz in Brunette), I'm going to go for it. 

Here is a direct comparison to the the top right pic, the Chella is on top and Anastasia is on bottom; the not filled in brow is on the bottom left and the brow filled in with Chella is on the bottom right.  You can see that the Chella is more of a red toned brown, whereas Anastasia is cooler.  It may not look like it from the swatches, but they are the about the same in pencil hardness and line weight - both pencils can make thin hairlike marks or can make a thicker darker line when you press down harder.  

I prefer the cool-toned look of the Anastasia for my coloring, but only slightly.  The Chella pencil doesn't have a spoolie brush, which sucks but isn't a dealbreaker if I'm thinking about getting the kit.  The lack of spoolie and color difference would be enough for me to spend a few dollars more and get the Anastasia if I was just getting the pencil alone though.  I give the Chella pencil an A-.  

After my next brow wax (I'm overdue, obviously), I'm going to do Brows 101, similar to the Tightlining 101 post, if y'all are interested.  Let me know.  

So I would normally be talking about the lip balm here, but meh.  It's lip balm.  It's a perfectly nice balm, but it's no Burt's Bees.  And you know what else it isn't?  AN AWESOME URBAN DECAY REVOLUTION LIPSTICK SAMPLE.  I get that they could only get so many samples, but it sucks to be one of the people who didn't get one.  And it would be one thing if some people got lipsticks, and others got the high value Chella, but I have definitely seen bags that have both.  I wish there was some way to make it so the people who didn't get the best sample don't feel like they got the shaft.  But such is life.  

Value: Even without the UD, my bag rang in at $39.37, which means it's a B++ on the Laura scale.  I did have to guess on the Pixi mascara weight since it wasn't available, so it's plus or minus a buck or two.  

Overall impression of the bag: I am pretty happy with this.  Three brands/products I was excited about, and the other two are still fine, just a little boring.  If I had gotten the exact same bag but with UD instead of one of the meh products I would have been over the freaking moon, but you can't always get what you want.  I'll give this bag an A-.  

Overall impression of the service: I still love Ipsy and the fact that every bag these days has good sized samples and comes out at a high value.  However, they need to figure out their shipping issues.  Dropping them to an A-.  

What did you get this month?  Did you have any weird shipping issues?  Were you one of the lucky ladies who got the UD lipstick (and do you love it as much as I love the ones I bought?)

Friday, August 16, 2013

101 in 1001 Update

I seriously doubt that many of you have been around long enough to remember that I have a 101 in 1001 list, but I do, and it expires some time around Christmas.  I updated some items here and here, so I need to cross some things off so I can make a plan of attack for what's left to do (half the list still, OMG).  

2) Do not miss any more photo shoots for the kids: I have an appointment for the girls' 2 year and 4 year pictures done this weekend, which means that I have actually accomplished this.  I am pretty good about getting photos done on the regular.  

14) Make a family birthday / phone number / address list: I actually accomplished this one two Christmases ago.  I even list what I buy each year to avoid repeat gifts.  It's a lifesaver.  

15) Make/buy a rack for the firewood; split wood:  I am going to call this one done because I did deal with the firewood, but not in the way I originally intended.  We paid our landscaper to haul it away when he cleared out our back yard earlier this year.  It looks way nicer now, and the wood was rotting anyway so it's not like we were going to use it.  

19) Watch 10 movies in a theater:  We have probably done this one twice over.  Let me see if I can come up with 10 off the top of my head...Elysium, The last Twilight movie, The Great and Powerful Oz, Wreck It Ralph, Silver Linings Playbook, Ted, My Idiot Brother, One For The Money, Hunger Games, Brave.  

20) Complete Couch to 5k Program: I did this while training for the Akron Marathon Relay last fall, talked about it here.  

21) Run a 5K in an official race with a t-shirt prize: I finished my couch to 5K program with the Race Around the Park, which I talked about here.  And I did get a t-shirt out of it :)

33) Take kids to an aquarium:  We took the girls to the Greater Cleveland Aquarium last November, I blogged about it here.  

37) Go to a concert: Justin and I have seen Radiohead the past few times they came to Blossom Music Center (most recently this show in June of 2012).  I would have thought we went to more concerts than that in the past few years...Justin said Lilith Fair and Pearl Jam but both of those seem like it would have been before I made the list.  Whatever.  We are lame.  

40) Buy additional counter space / shelving unit for the kitchen: It's not pretty, but we got this shelf from Target for all of our food (but in white).  It's convenient and I can keep it organized enough most of the time, so it's good enough for me.  

43) Go to lupus and/or heart doctor to figure out what the deal is:  The deal was anxiety, yo.  I don't even know where my Xanax is these days, so I think that knowing really was half the battle for me.  Now that I'm not worried I'm having a heart attack, I can just calm myself down on my own 99% of the time.  I still take it for flights, and if work ever made me testify I'd need a whole bottle, but other than that I'm good.    

44) Go to dermatologist for rosacea; check all moles:  Yep, talked about my appointment here and my roseacea winter skin care routine here.  Honestly, my rosacea is probably the same as when it was untreated, but at least it's not getting any worse.  

45) Take kids to a water park:  We took the kids to Great Wolf Lodge 71 weeks ago (per instagram).  I didn't blog about it because we lost Adriana at one point and I am still freaking traumatized.  I was watching the slides waiting for her to come down and it turned out that she bolted up the giant tower thing instead because slides weren't hardcore enough for her.  It seriously shaved years off my life.  That being said, we would go again.  With leashes.  

49) Take kids camping: Hocking Hills this July.  I still plan to write about it.  

50) Go on a romantic weekend getaway with Justin:  I am going to go ahead and count our trip to Atlantic City last Halloween.  It wasn't really ROMANTIC since we were there with other people, but it was after a really rough patch in our marriage and we really reconnected with each other on that trip.  Plus we really don't get many opportunities to travel sans kids, so we take what we can get.  

52) Learn all of the neighbors' names:  Done.  I FINALLY know the name of the lady next door who won't talk to me, since she came out to yell at my landscaper for crossing over the imaginary yard line (ha).  I have known all of my other immediate neighbors' names for a long time now.  We participated in a fake parade and barbeque with more distant neighbors this fourth of July and met some more people. 

53) Bake something for someone for no reason: Fall 2011 (when my kids looked like this!!) I went on a pumpkin muffin baking spree and made them for pretty much everyone I know.  

55) Visit 2 out of state friends:  I am going to count PJs at TJ's 1 and 2 and the Blathering, even though technically only PJ's 1 was at Kelly's house in her actual state.  A HUGE Blathering bonus was meeting Lacey and Heather, and they both live out of state (just not in NOLA).  It counts, dammit.  

57) Cook a turkey dinner:  Nailed it!

60) Plan a play date at my house: My good friend had twins around the same time I had Lucy, and we had them over at our house the day I took the pics for this post.  I have no idea why I remember that, but I do.  

62) Donate 10 bags of clothes to Goodwill:  I have done this twice now, and I am working on round 3.  

68) Cook a meal for a new mom:  I made Mexican Cornbread Casserole for Justin's cousin's wife Natalie (and family) when kiddo #3 was born in January 2012.  

75) Take kids to pool 10 times: We have done this many times over, I'm sure.  My parents have a membership to a country club and we often go on the weekend (or random days I take off work).  Some of the pics in this post are from the most recent time.  

80) Get birth certificates, passports, and social security cards for entire family in a safe place:  I started to post where I put them, then decided that would be colossally stupid.  But this is done. 

82) Bake a birthday cake for Justin: Nailed it!

85) Get another tattoo:  I got a bird tattoo on my right shoulder last year.  I am not sure that I would want to get a tattoo during an intense time of my life ever again, but I still like it and the meaning behind it.  

91) Visit a state I have never been to: I had never been to Arizona or Louisiana before my bloggy friend trips, and I hadn't spent much time in New Jersey before Atlantic City.  

Monday, August 12, 2013

Two and Done: Birth Control Decisions

As some of you may know, Justin and I finally made some birth control decisions rather than continuing our completely ineffective approach of just winging it (see examples A and B).  While our previous approach has resulted in some pretty fantastic offspring, we had already decided while Lucia was still cooking that two is enough for us.  [Funny to read a post before we even knew she was a she.]

I looked into Mirena at my 6 month post-birth checkup, but that was pre-Obama Care so it was going to cost a whopping $1000.  I passed, and we invested in the dreaded giant box o' condoms.  Then the transition from a 3 family unit to a 4 family unit proved to be especially challenging for us (HA - understatement of the year), so I was more worried about the state of my marriage than the state of my uterus.  

Once things settled down and we entered into marriage v. 2.0 (now with improved stability!), we decided we were ready to transition to birth control that we didn't have to think about.  After the year we had, it should have been a no brainer, but I did make myself think through a number of scenarios before I was completely comfortable with the decision.  

If we got divorced, would I want more kids?

What if we won the lottery?

What if one of the girls got really sick / was in a terrible accident / was abducted by aliens and we suddenly became a one kid family?  

I know it's really awful/morbid to think about losing a child and that a new baby would never fill that hole, but that's just how my mind works.  I needed to think through every possibility and to be comfortable that NO MATTER WHAT, we were done having kids.  It wasn't that hard.  I'm 34 and I'm fucking TIRED.  I have two beautiful, healthy girls.  You have to actually PLAY the lottery to win.  I'd probably just get some cats if we got divorced.  I'm done.

I originally talked to my doctor about Essure, but she quickly pointed out that Mirena should be free now and sort of gently pushed me in that direction.  I had heard some horror stories but I have never had any issues with the pill (other than, you know, REMEMBERING TO TAKE IT and HAVING A BACKUP PLAN WHEN ON ANTIBIOTICS, which are kind of key to its effectiveness).  Plus the possibility of not getting a period was appealing, so I decided to go for it.  Worse comes to worse I could take it out and go for Essure later.

But that was only half of the equation.  Justin and I are both fairly convinced that we would totally be those people who still managed to get pregnant even with appropriate protections in place, so we were in complete agreement that he should get a vasectomy double tapping a zombie.  Enough of his work friends had it done right there in the doctor's office for no charge, with no issues healing up.  He was fully prepared that it wouldn't be FUN, but that it wouldn't be the end of the world either.  And he was beyond certain that he is done having kids.  He was ready.  

We actually both had our various procedures done the same week.  Skip the next 2 paragraphs unless you are in the process of doing your own birth control research and are gathering info, they are TMI heavy.  

Mirena Issues: I had fairly awful cramps for the first 4 days or so (sort of like the post birth contractions that make your uterus shrink / help milk production), and have had a RIDIC amount of spotting.  It started on day 5, lasted for like 2 weeks after that, and I have had 10+ days of spotting for the two periods I have had since.  I personally would rather have my crazy heavy 4-5 day period than nearly 2 weeks of spotting, so that's annoying (but my doctor says it should even out).  And about 2 weeks after insertion Justin became convinced that he can now feel the strings if I'm on top when we are having "married people time" (TM Erica).  The doctor checked the strings and said he SHOULDN'T feel them but yet he says he can.  So that is beyond annoying.  If that continues, I'm likely going to have it removed at my next annual appointment, assuming both of Justin's samples are clear.  As promised, I have not been charged for insertion.  

Vasectomy Issues: The procedure itself was pretty simple - J had to take some happy pills before we went in that made him delightfully loopy, he disappeared for a half hour or so, then I was good to take him home.  It took him at least a week to recover, and he took vicodin that whole time.  It was KILLING ME to watch him milk it, because I had 2 kids without pain medicine, both of which involved WAY MORE STITCHES than what he had, and I still had to be a fully functioning parent within seconds after popping them out.  But whatever.  He's fine now.  He had to submit one sample last week and has another in a couple of months to make sure there are no rogue babymakers in his man goo.  [Oddly, he literally called me as I was typing this - sample #1 came back negative].  The only real problem was the bill - he was under the impression that since the procedure was done in the doctor's office it wouldn't be that costly, but since the room he recovered in was owned by the hospital, he was charged $1700 freaking dollars.  Not a happy surprise.  

I also mentioned here that I am a bitch on Mirena and Justin is way nicer post vasectomy.  So that's weird.  I don't like to be yelling mom / mean wife.  Ugh.

So, would we do it again?  Probably.  We are the laziest, and these options are good for lazy people.  Since I like to grade the things I talk about (power trip!!) I'll give vasectomies a solid A and Mirena a C-.  If Mirena doesn't get her act together in the next grading quarter, she drops to an F and will have to find a new home in the trash bin.  

Please share your birth control stories below, good or bad.  If you have Mirena, do you love it or hate it?  Does it suck to get it removed?  Did your husband have a vasectomy and now you have a chubby little newborn?  How did you know you were done having kids / How do you know you're not??? Tell me everything, I want to know!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

August 2013 PopSugar Must Have Review

I went home at lunch to see if my Allure box came, and instead I found my PopSugar Must Have box.  I can't say I was disappointed.  I really, really, really love this subscription - seeing the box on my doorstep makes me giddy.  

Date of arrival: August 6, 2013.

Packaging: Same as usual.  I should also mention that all of the breakables and spillables were securely packaged / separately wrapped.  

Contents and mini reviews: This month's box is PopSugar's anniversary box.  Happy Birthday, PS!  It has a very "back to school" feel to it, which is fine by me since I am a nerd and love back to school time.  

The first item I pulled out was a little black jewelry bag.  I should have known what was in it because PopSugar spoiled it in an email and then I posted about it in my last review, but my memory just isn't what it used to be.   The Gorjana Open Circle Necklace ($65) is PopSugar's one year anniversary gift to us, so I'm assuming it's not meant to be included in the value of the box.  Sweet!  The necklace is simple but pretty, and is a great layering piece.  For purposes of comparison, I showed it next to the Taner Bar Small Necklace that I bought with a coupon code PopSugar sent us in the June Box.  The chain isn't as delicate as the Taner chain and is a bit longer.  This will definitely become a staple piece.  

The next item I received was the Bentgo All-In-One Stackable Lunch Box ($14.99 on amazon).  Not the most exciting item ever, but as a mom I will definitely use the crap out of these.  

My box had the Lulah Body Wash in Peony ($11.25).  Based on the picture in the book (which shows Magnolia Fig), it sounds like they sent out a variety of scents.  Lulah's website tells me they have Citron, Tamarind Ginger, and Vanilla Orchid as well.  How amazing do those scents sound?  Peony just smells like "pretty soap"; it's a very light, fresh scent.  I am always up for a new body wash to try, so this will get used as soon as I finish my current bottle.  

How cute is this little Weekly To-Dos Notebook by May Designs ($17)? I love it!  And I love it even more now that I know I can use the website to customize and monogram to my little OCD heart's content.  These would make awesome Christmas presents!  Ahh I am so excited!!!  Also?  That little "People Against Ugly Notebooks" sticker made me lol.  

The only item that I was kind of meh about was this Lunares Apple Bowl.  I was mystified when I saw a little black box, then I was excited when I could tell it was a bowl of some sort, then I was like "Oh.  An apple." when I saw what it was.  I am not really sure why anyone who is not a teacher would want a little apple dish.  Which I suppose makes it an ideal teacher gift (assuming they aren't sick of apples), but f that.  This is MY PSMH box, I'm not regifting.  I'll use it to hold jewelry or something.  It was hard to figure out how much this is worth as it's not sold separately, it's part of this 7 piece set.  I guess I'll assume everything is priced equally and say it's worth $21.43.  

I am really excited to get these dermalogica precleanse and special cleansing gel deluxe samples.  I have seen countless YouTube videos talking about the brand, but I've never tried it myself.  I am particularly interested in the precleanse since I have wanted to test out the makeup removing properties of various oils.  There are about a zillion oils in the precleanse ingredients, so I guess I get to try them all at once.  I am a little grossed out by the use of the term "milky emulsion" though, so I'm going to stop reading the label on that one.  The special cleansing gel has lavender in it, so I'm not sure if it will irritate my rosacea or not.  The precleanse is $35.99 for a 5.1 oz sample, and this was a 1 oz, so it's worth $7.06.  The cleansing gel is $31.00 for 8.4 oz, and this is a 1.7 oz sample, so it's worth $6.27.  

These Granny Smith Apples by NatureBox were this month's special extra.  NatureBox is a snack subscription box ($19.95 for 5 snacks, so I'll say this is worth $4).  I will give them to the girls when I'm too lazy to get up and prepare something.  

The box included information on a giveaway to win a trip to meet Lauren Conrad (heh), a 20% off code for Lulah (POPSUGAR), a 25% off code for dermalogica (it's a unique code and I will use it if I like the precleanse), and a 50% off code for naturebox (POPSUGAR).  

Value: So, for those of you playing at home, the box was worth $82.00 even without the necklace, and another $65 with it, for a total value of $147.  I'd say it's not 100% honest for PSMH to say the necklace is a gift if the rest of the box isn't worth $100, but I'll forgive them.  

Overall impression of the box: I was VERY happy with this one despite not being thrilled with the apple.  I love everything else and will use it all.  Another A+ effort by PSMH.  

Overall impression of the service: I am in love.  

Do you guys get PSMH?  If not, what are you waiting for?  

If you like this box and want to sign up, I'd love if you'd use my referral link

Monday, August 5, 2013

July 2013 Favorites

Time for some monthly favorites!  It makes me sad that I was too busy to capture my May and June favorites, but I am going to try to get through the rest of the year without missing any.  I decided to move the makeup stuff to the end this time since I know not all of you are into that kind of thing :)

Justin moment: I really don't have any one particular moment, but I did want to mention that Justin has really been going out of his way to have a good attitude and instantly diffuse any potential fights.  After 7 years of me being frustrated with his pissiness, it's a really good thing, but I do have to admit that it's also a bit annoying because sometimes I want to be mad (especially in this post-mirena world) and he is making it really hard.  It's like his vasectomy and my mirena have caused us to do a relationship freaky friday role reversal.  That being said, I really am EXTREMELY happy with his new outlook on life.  

Adriana moment: I have two for Adriana, since my top moment didn't technically happen to me, it happened to Justin.  I just think it's HILARIOUS.  Adriana is basically a mini me, which means that she goes right for the throat when she's angry.  She got mad at Justin the other day, and basically went off on a string of profanity, throwing every "bad word" she knows at him.  You guys, she invented the best insult EVER.  I can't even type it without laughing, and I have no idea how he made it through with a straight face.  She called him a BITCH DICK.  I am dying. [And yes, she does get in trouble for using these words, even when it's funny.] The other favorite for Adriana is that she has been sneaking into our bed in the morning to cuddle.  I know a lot of parents don't recommend encouraging this because it's hard to get them to stop, but she is just so sweet and cuddly when she first wakes up that I am really trying to "enjoy every second" (heh).  

Lucia moment: Lucy just cracks me up in general, but my favorite moment of late was when my dad called me and asked Lucy to tell me what just happened.  "Me fall out of bed!"  It doesn't SOUND like it would be funny, but she said it the most chipper, happy, proud of herself voice ever.  It was the first time she ever climbed out of a crib, so I guess it's time for me to stop dragging my feet on the whole big girl bed / shared room endeavor.  And since I did 2 for Adriana, I will add that Lucia was a total champ when we were hiking Old Man's Cave, and completely cracked everyone up by making monster noises every time we went through a dark tunnel.  She is the hammiest.  

Picture: We got together with Justin's dad's entire side of the family for a giant photo shoot this month.  This picture was taken by the lovely folks at Visual Image Photography; I'll probably post all of them once I get the disk and the rights to the images.

I love this picture because the girls just look so Children of the Corn-ish.  These kids REFUSE to both smile at the same time in pictures, but they have no issues with joint suspicion.  I also need to learn to mask my frustration from trying to get them to cooperate - I look a bit stabby here.  

Family activity: We went fake camping in Hocking Hills last weekend and it was so much fun! More pics and full recap to come.  Eventually.  

Food: I discovered a new restaurant this month, thanks to my coworkers.  Al's Corner Restaurant in Barberton is freaking amazing.  It's a little old school diner that sells pierogies and chicken paprikash and sausages and other deliciousness.  So good.  I also ate peanut butter on a toasted english muffin at least 4 days a week.  Melty peanut butter is the best.  

Drink: Since I have been travelling to Columbus a ton, I have been getting a lot of fast food road beverages.  My drink of choice this month was the Original Limeade from Taco Bell.  It is the most refreshing drink ever.  

TV Show: Okay, this is totally a guilty pleasure show.  Had I done a May favorites, I would have admitted to watching the first two seasons of H20: Just Add Water on amazon prime.  I never made it through the third season, it kinda jumped the shark.  Or mermaid.  Did I mention it's a show about three girls who turn into mermaids?  I put it on for Adriana and then I couldn't stop watching it because I'm a dork with the taste of tween.  Anyway, apparently Netflix bought the rights to do a spin-off and now I have three new mermaids to watch.  The spin-off is called Mako Mermaids if you are interested :)

Movie(s): My July favorite is not really any one specific movie, it's more that I became completely obsessed with Redbox so I can now watch ALL THE MOVIES.  To say that we went a little nuts with the movie rentals is an understatement.  I feel like we are overcompensating for basically watching no new movies whatsoever since Adriana was born.  I counted and we rented TWENTY movies this month.  My favorite was definitely Warm Bodies, because I love zombies and romantic comedies and it's just magical when those two are combined.  

Game: The winner for this month is most definitely Cards Against Humanity.  I love that both my family and Justin's are completely comfortable with playing this game.  If you haven't heard of it, it's basically a dirty / politically incorrect version of Apples to Apples.  We played through the entire box and several expansion packs in Hocking Hills and it just never gets old.  

Clothing: I was in need of some workout clothes since mine were all getting pretty worn out.  I went with the $17.99 Spalding Women's Capri Legging (in black) and the $12.73 Bella Maxine RacerbackTank (in black, dark gray heather, pebble brown, and coral) and I adore them.  The pants stay put when I am working out and give no appearance of camel toe whatsoever.  The shirts are nice and flowy so they (mostly) hide my pudge, and three out of four are thick enough that I don't need to layer them (the coral is a bit see through).    

Accessory: I am not sure if this warrants its own category since I am not much of an accessories person...I WISH I was, but honestly, I just can't be bothered most of the time.  I pay too much then stuff gets tarnished or breaks or snags and I get annoyed.  But I loved this gorjana-griffin Zuma scarf so much that I had to show it.  It's lightweight and super long and wide, so it's really versatile.  I love the pop of neon pink against the navy blue and white stripes.  It's just perfection.  It's a $62 scarf but I got it in my $35 June PopSugar Must Have box along with a lot of other great items.  I heart PopSugar.

Makeup:  I had one look and one look only this month, and the only variation was whether or not I tightlined.  I pretty much exclusively wore Missha BB cream in shade no. 21 topped with Mac Studio Fix powder in NW 20, benefit's Hervana blush on my cheeks, Urban Decay's Naked Basics and (optional) 24/7 glide on pencil in zero on my eyes, tarte's gifted on my lashes, the anastasia brow wiz on my brows (not pictured), and Maybelline's Color Whisper in Nude Shimmer on my lips.  

This month's favorites are the three in bold, but I am obviously a fan of all of the products or I wouldn't wear them on a daily basis.  I CANNOT RECOMMEND THIS LOOK ENOUGH.  It is so fresh and pretty and the perfect "I'm not wearing any makeup, I just always look this awesome" makeup.  It's nice and lightweight for summer and nothing smudges or melts off my face.  

The Hervana blush is just the right color to give me a natural, pretty flush for spring and summer.  It also smells delicious and actually comes with a pretty great brush.  My iphone camera is still incapable of taking decent pics, but I am wearing it in this post and this post if you want to see what it looks like on my face. 

Urban Decay's Naked Basics palette is a favorite because it has everything I need all in one place and it's super easy to travel with.  I usually sweep W.O.S. (Walk of Shame) on my lids up to my brow with my finger and Naked 2 in the crease, but on the rare occasion I'm wearing warmer tones I do Foxy/Faint instead.  Venus is a great highlight and Crave is a great eyeliner substitute.  I think everyone in the universe should own this palette.  

I honestly recommend ALL of the Maybelline Color Whispers, but nude shimmer is a favorite this month because it fits in with my desire to have light, barely there makeup this month.  I own like 10 of these because I get them for an amazing price at the Loreal company store and I love them all.  

Skin: I have really been loving using the Loreal Youth Code Serum Intense that I got in the CEW (Cosmetic Executive Women) Insider's Choice box last year.  I saw that they partnered with Birchbox this time and I totally missed getting the box - BOOOOOOO.  Anyway, this serum is really amazing - my skin feels so soft the next morning.  I recently bought some for my mom and she loves it just as much as I do.  

Hair: I have also been loving the John Frieda Liquid Shine Clear Hair Glaze.  I got it in a past allure box, but it's hella cheap on amazon if you are interested - just $7.99.  I use it once a week when I take a "spa" bath...I pop on a face mask, put about 1/4 of the bottle on my hair, and lay back for 20 minutes or so.  It is just as luxurious as it sounds.  It smells great and makes me feel like I'm reversing some of the damage from dying my hair.  It doesn't contain any ingredients that will fade hair color.  Love. 

Nails:  I got nothing, I have been really neglecting my nails lately.  Oops.

Body: I have had this Tree Hut Shea Sugar Body Scrub waiting in the wings since I got it in last summer's Crave Box, but I had some other stuff to use up first.  I love sugar scrubs because salt scrubs make my legs burn.  This one is nice and abrasive without leaving me in pain.  My legs are soft and no longer ashy/scaly when I'm done.  Gross, I know.  My skin is just so freaking dry I am always looking for a good exfoliator.  The coconut lime smell is definitely unique, but I would probably try out Tropical Mango or Almond & Honey next time.  

Okay, so that's all for this month...

What are you loving?  Tell me about your favorite products or family moment down below!