Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Review: Murad Age Reform Line

These products were sent to me as part of the Murad Brand Ambassador Program.  Thank you, Murad!!

As you have probably gathered by now if you follow me on Instagram and Twitter, I was lucky enough to be selected as a Murad Brand Ambassador.  I am a skincare junkie and am always looking for products that will help my dry, sensitive, rosacea-y skin, so this has been a really exciting opportunity for me.  I was invited to the program around the same time I joined Massage Envy, and had been considering getting a Murad facial there to see if the other skincare products were as good as the Murad Clarifying Cleanser I loved.  But now that I get to test out Murad at home I can dedicate my Massage Envy time solely to my sore back.  Woohoo!

I have been receiving Murad products since late summer, but I wanted to take the time to fully test them before sharing my thoughts on my blog.  I'll show you my daily skincare routine in this post, and special treatments I use as needed in my next Murad post.  Enjoy!

Age Reform (the purple line) is one of 8 Murad brands, and is comprised of 16 different products.  I have been using 4 of the products on a daily basis for at least 3 months now: Refreshing Cleanser, Rapid Collagen Infusion, Perfecting Day Cream, and Hydro-Dynamic Ultimate Moisture.  This is a good range of products for someone who is just getting introduced to the line; the only thing I would add is the Intensive Wrinkle Reducer for Eyes or the Hydro-Dynamic Ultimate Moisture for Eyes

Murad really excels at cleansers, and the Refreshing Cleanser ($32, or you can pay $9 for a mini) is no exception.  Murad products don't have much of a scent, they just smell fresh to me.  It works well alone or combined with my Clarisonic.  It removes the vast majority of my makeup; I just have to go over my mascara with some eye makeup remover and I'm all squeaky clean.  It is medium foaminess and does not dry out or irritate my skin.  Basically, it does everything Murad says it should do.  I think I prefer the experience of Murad's Clarifying Cleanser (and it's cheaper at $26), but that the Age Reform is a better choice for my winter skin because it's such a gentle formula.  A little bit goes a long way and the tube lasts forever, so I will repurchase this product or a similar Murad cleanser (gotta try them all) when it runs out.  Recommended for everyone with skin. 

Unfortunately, I really love the Rapid Collagen Infusion.  I say unfortunately because this love comes with a hefty price tag - it's $78 for 1 oz, and I went through the tube rather quickly.  However, it has that fancy push pop packaging where the little platform raises and scrapes out every last bit of product so at least I know I didn't waste anything.  If you are going to splurge on skin care, treatments are the way to go because unlike a cleanser that is only on your skin for a couple of minutes, this stuff sinks in and is on your face all day / night.  This smells even fresher/better than the cleanser to me, and the fine lines around my eyes have improved since starting this product.  More noticeably, it plumps my skin after putting it on...gotta love a product that delivers immediate results.  It is nice and lightweight and absorbs nicely into the skin.  I will repurchase this product during the Sephora VIB sale or when I have a gift card.  Recommended for anyone with wrinkles or fine lines who can afford it. 

I actually liked the Perfecting Day Cream ($49) better than I expected.  When I first tried it out, it looked really thick and white as I was putting it on, but it actually does absorb into the skin and it doesn't interfere with my makeup (a critical feature for a daily moisturizer).  It's a much lighter weight moisturizer than I expected based on the appearance.  It doesn't smell overly SPF-y; it just has that same light scent as the rest of the Murad products.  This is a nice, basic moisturizer.  I wouldn't repurchase it though, only because my favorite CC cream has SPF 50, and with my rosacea I have to be extra cautious about the sun, even in the dead of winter.  I would recommend this for people who can get away with SPF 30 though. 

I use the Hydro-Dynamic Ultimate Moisture cream ($65) as a night cream since it doesn't have any SPF.  This is a really luxurious feeling cream, I loooove it.  It smells great, it's gentle on my sensitive skin, it makes my skin feel super moisturized without being greasy.  This product is intensive enough to single-handedly combat the dry patches I get from my rosacea during the winter.  I think I am going to purchase the Perfecting Night Cream next to see if it gives me the same results (it's $51 for the same amount), but I would buy this again if that isn't as nice as this cream.  Recommended for people who like to feel fancy and pampered. 

Overall, I am quite happy with my Murad Age Reform products, and with all of the Murad products I have tried in general.  I think Murad's #BetterEveryDay motto is a good one, because I have seen improvements in my skin since starting this regimen. 

I did a little research for you guys since I know Murad is a bit pricey and you know I love a good deal...right now you can get the Younger Skin Trio which has two of my favorite products above plus the hydrating toner when you spend $50 and use the code GIFT.  I would try to hit that $50 by getting one of the kits and combining it with the $18 Youth Bodycare Preview Set (I'm testing this now and I love it).  If you get the Resurgence Introductory Kit (which ALSO has a mini Rapid Collagen Infusion), you also get a $25 Murad Gift Card with purchase, so I'd get those two kits, a gift card, and the Younger Skin Trio.  In fact, that's such a good deal that I'm probably just going to go ahead and do it.  Fingers crossed that nothing wonky happens when I try to get the gift card and use the GIFT promo at the same time; I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Enabler Alert: Style Quarterly by Pashbox

YOU GUYS.  After years of searching, I have finally found my dream subscription service.  I am actually kind of nervous to tell you about it, because sometimes when subs get too big it's too hard to keep up with demand and to get as high quality of products...I think that's what happened to Social Bliss, much to my dismay.  But I really want to share this with you because when I find something I'm in love with, I want everyone else to love it too. 

Style Quarterly by Pashbox is a really new subscription service - the December box is only their second box.  You can see the review for September here and December here.  Go look at the pictures, I'll wait.  Amazing, right? Prior to that, it was a monthly scarf sub or a monthly sunglasses sub - I checked out some past reviews and people seemed to love it, so I'm not really sure why the business model changed.  But I'm so glad it did, because the new format is so up my alley it's ridiculous. 

The packaging is GORGEOUS.  The boxes look like they are a really nice quality and they have a beautiful, unique design.  It would make a really nice jewelry storage or gift box.  There are 3-6 beauty and fashion items that also appear to be high quality.  The beauty stuff is focused on bath and body products, which is perfect for me because I already have skincare and makeup out the wazoo due to my other subs.  So far, Style Quarterly has featured small companies whose products have an artisanal feel, like Plum Island Soap Company and Elucx.  Everything seems so luxurious and the perfect way to pamper myself.  The past boxes looked so enticing that I actually just placed big orders with both of those companies because I was so sad to miss out.  I have a feeling that this box will introduce me to a lot of amazing companies I would have never heard of otherwise.

Finally, the customer service is fantastic.  When I first found out about the box, the window for ordering a December box had closed.  I was bummed, so I wrote to the company to see if they had any more December boxes I could purchase.  I received a response within the hour, from Stephanie Bruce herself.  She is the founder and Chief Experience Officer of the company and seems like a genuinely nice person who is really passionate about her job.  She didn't have any more boxes, but she gave me a code I could share with you guys (SQGIFT10), which gives you 10% off the life of the subscription.  It's good through 12/31/14.  I don't get anything out of you signing up other than the sweet satisfaction of sharing something I am really excited about with my friends. 

If this looks like something you would enjoy, go order yourself one and let me know so we can gush to each other about it every quarter!

Update:  More on the code, I apologize for not posting these details earlier!

It will be redeemable up to 75 times and good through 12/31/14. You can use code SQGIFT10 to save 10% off the life of your subscription when you sign up for our Quarterly plan. Subscriptions will start in March of 2015 and will renew on April 1st.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Updates + 33 Days of Decluttering

Update the first: I found my ring after it was missing for a full week.  Not too bad in the scheme of lost rings, but way longer than it should have been gone considering that it was definitely in the living or dining room and Lucy only had it for a few minutes.  The area in front of the fireplace always has a few games and a couple of clothing items from my dress up loving girls.  We looked through all of that stuff many times the first couple nights the ring was missing, then one day I shook the clothes out one last time before bringing them back to the playroom and there it was.  I have no idea how we missed it but I'm happy to have it back.  I am now considering resizing them and maybe getting my wedding band and engagement ring fused.  I always thought I didn't want it fused because I might want to wear the band alone, but I have done that approximately zero times in the five years we have been married so maybe it's time.  Thoughts on pros/cons of ring fusion?

Update the second: My allure box came the day after it went on sale thanks to the fact that I preordered this year's boxes.  I am more than a little annoyed that the Rusk texture spray was a travel size.  Not, like, WINTER RUINED annoyed, but annoyed nonetheless.  

Update the third: I didn't end up getting the UD black friday deal because the more I thought about it, the more it frosted my cookies that the lipstick "deal" was $40 more expensive than the year before.  I did, however, get the following at 50% off from Sedona Lace:

- The Midnight Lace Synthetic Brush Set
- The Se7ven Midnight Lacy Synthetic Brush Set
- The Vortex Synthetic Makeup Brushes (I meant to order the travel set but this was a happy accident)
- The Synthetic Large Paddle Brush
- The Synthetic Tapered Angle Brush
- The Synthetic Rounded Powder Brush
- The Brush Cup Holder

My lovely husband paid for the first 4 items as my Christmas present, which were the ones I actually planned to buy in advance (aside from picking out the wrong set).  But then since I spent $0 and I kind of wanted a brush holder to make up for the fact that the Vortex set didn't come with one and it was all JUST SO EXCITING, I got a couple more brushes.  I am really excited about this purchase because I have never actually bought a set - all of my brushes are random IT Cosmetics face brushes from QVC, tons of Sonia Kashuk eye shadow blending brushes, and a few basic elf eye brushes.  I always thought I'd get the Sigma Make Me Classy set, but Sigma never has enough of a discount to make me pull the trigger.  NOW I HAZ ALL THE BRUSHES!!!  And they all match!  And are pink and black and for some reason this is a thing that appeals to 35 year old me! 

33 Days of Decluttering: I am already dreading the influx of crap that Christmas will bring.  As you may have guessed based upon my goo hoarding and subscription box addiction, plus the fact that I have two kids, we have a lot of crap.  A lot of my fellow makeuptalk-ers are in the midst of a cycle of 33 days of decluttering, which is a concept that originates with Dawn of Minimalist Beauty.  She gets rid of 4 items the first day and 3 every day after that, with the goal of decluttering 100 things in 33 days.  You can donate, gift, or throw it away, but it has to leave your house.  I am hoping to average more than 3 a day, but we will see.  I will probably just mention it here and there and then do a wrap up post showing you all of the crap I got rid of when it's over.  If any of you want to join me we can chat about what we are getting rid of on the twitters. Just let me know.  

Hope you all had a great thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Enabler Alert: Black Friday Deals

I wouldn't be a proper enabler if I didn't give you guys a heads up on my favorite Black Friday deals.  These are just a few that have caught my eye...

Urban Decay will have a series of flash sales this week + free shipping. I couldn't get the site to load fast enough on my ipad last year so I missed out on the revolution lipsticks, and I'm REALLY EXCITED to have a second chance.  I'll probably skip the rest but there is clearly something for everyone (who loves UD anyway).  I can't figure out what time the flash sales start, but I believe it was 9am eastern last year.  I'll update if I hear more.  [Update #1: Kelly tells me the lipsticks were 6 for $50 last year.  It's still a good deal, you pay roughly 68% of what you would otherwise, but I am significantly less excited to get the exact same thing people were offered last year but for $40 more.  LAME, UD, LAME.]
Ramblings of a Suburban Mom has a really comprehensive list of all of the subscription services that have a Black Friday special going on.  The only one I have been tempted by isn't on her list though - there is a $10 off code for FabFitFun using the code BLACK10.  There are a number of spoilers out for the Winter Fab Fit Fun box, and it looks like it will be a pretty good one - at least $300 in value.  I was pretty happy with the fall FFF box (summer was kind of meh, and spring looked great but I didn't order it in time).  I don't have a referral link, but if you shoot me your email address I get a free box for every 2 friends referred.  Or just order directly from FabFitFun, that's cool too. 

Murad is offering $25 off any $100 purchase plus free shipping.  I am a Brand Ambassador so I have been testing out a ton of their products, and am seriously considering gifting these Skin Care Duos to some of the harder to shop for women in my life.  Who doesn't love fancy skincare, right? I especially love Murad's cleansers (the clarifying cleanser is my favorite so far) and treatments (I use the one to sensitive skin soothing serum to treat my rosacea and the lightening serum for dark spots). 

If you spend $50 or more at Sedona Lace, you get 50% off starting at 8:00 pm on 11/27 and free shipping with the code 50free.  This is really tempting to me because I have picked all of my brushes up piecemeal rather than getting a good set, and a YouTuber I really trust (LePooke) loves this brand.  I basically want all of the midnight lace sets. 

Update #2: Ooh, Ulta has some pretty amazing Black Friday and Cyber Monday palettes!  Vintage Vixen and Sultry Starlet are $12 in store and online beginning 7pm CST tomorrow, 8pm in store, and Champagne Dreams is $15 online on Monday.  Love all 3, and they would make amazing stocking stuffers.  You can see pics over at Musings of a Muse.  All Ulta Black Friday deals can be seen here (the $10 Mario Badescu kit is kind of tempting too). 

Finally, I will probably sneak out after Justin gets home from work to hit up the mall (ugh, I know). Last year I got really good deals on work pants at The Limited and LOFT; this year I will check the same stores for suits / blazers. 

What are your Black Friday plans?  Any amazing deals you want to share?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Enabler Alert: Allure Winter 2014 Beauty Box


The Allure website is up and running, now with a counter, product information, and a FAQ!  Here is a pic of the goodies:

I also updated my totals below, as I left out an item before.  The box still doesn't add up to the advertised $250, grrr...


It’s Allure Beauty Box time again!  As you all know, this is my favorite deal of the year.  The Allure boxes go on sale three times a year (in April, July, and November) and are full of mostly drug store goodies.  They sell out in minutes because they are usually a great value.  Liz from My Subscription Addiction posted the spoilers and did most of the dirty work for us, but I thought it would be helpful to post my decision making process (at least my old process…I pre-ordered all of the boxes this year).

According to Liz:

The Winter 2014 Allure Beauty Box has been revealed! It goes on sale November 25th at noon EST. The cost is $44.95 plus shipping and the value is over $250.

The Allure boxes tend to get repetitive and have WAY too many hair products, but I figure that if there are enough things in the box that I would buy ANYWAY to cover the cost of the box, the rest is like a giant gift with purchase.  Super giant nerd secret – I also keep a list of all of the contents and prices from past boxes and check off the things I actually use to make sure I got my money’s worth.  This makes me feel better if I don’t use products before they expire.  I do try to give them away before that happens, but sometimes stuff gets buried and I end up using the expired stuff as shaving cream.    

Anyway, the first thing I do when I see what will be in the box is to split it up by product type.  This helps me figure out if I really NEED it…that way if I really need hair stuff (which never happens in reality) and there are 8 hair items, I get excited right away.  The two things that jumped out at me this round (aside from the fact that Allure REALLY wants me to moisturize) are that there is only 1 makeup item and 0 high end items.  I don’t mind the lack of makeup but I am definitely sad about not getting a deal on the good stuff.  I felt a little better when I listed the prices though.  Even though I don’t NEED many of the items on here, they are generally more expensive than what I would pay for when left to my own devices, so I know it’s a good deal.  The winter box rings up at a $217.09 (UPDATE: $229.08).  Past boxes have been worth over $300, but it’s still good value for something in the $50 price range. 

The next thing I do is pick out the items I’d buy anyway.  I am a goo hoarder, so there is very little I need this round.  I’m always in need of dry shampoo, hair ties, and whitening stuff, and the girls’ eczema is going haywire with the weather change so the cetaphil and curel will come in handy.  That puts me at $58.  If you add in the items I’m especially interested in trying (the Neutrogena and the sheamoisture) I’m at $86.  I assume Adriana will go bananas over the hair chalk so that’s $96 worth of stuff that will definitely get used.  The rest is just icing on the cake.


  • Aloxxi Conditioning Detangler ($20)
  • John Frieda Brilliant Brunette Colour Protecting Moisturizing Conditioner ($5.63)
  • John Frieda Frizz Ease Nourishing Hair Oil Elixir ($8.48)
  • UPDATE: John Frieda Colour Refreshing Gloss for Cool Brunettes ($11.99)
  • Not Your Mother’s Whip It Up Cream Styling Mousse ($11.27)
  • RUSK Texture ($15.99)
  • Style Sexy Hair H2No 3 Day Style Saver Dry Shampoo ($15.95)
  • Scunci Hair Emergency Kit ($5?)
  • Splat Hair Chalk ($9.99)


  • Biore Self Heating One Minute Mask ($5.99)
  • Burt’s Bees Cucumber & Sage Facial Wipes ($5.99)
  • Clean & Clear Morning Burst Hydrating Gel Moisturizer ($3.45)
  • Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel ($17.90)
  • Organic Doctor Organic Virgin Coconut Oil Hydrating Radiance Elixir ($17.99)


  • Cetaphil Intensive Moisturizing Cream ($7.19)
  • Curel Rough Skin Rescue ($8.88)
  • Dove White Beauty Bar ($1.35)
  • Jergens Natural Glow 3 Days to Glow Moisturizer ($7.38)
  • Sheamoisture Superfruit Complex Body Lotion ($9.99)


  • Physicians Formula Nude Wear Glowing Nude Blush in Rose ($12.52)

Hands / Nails

  • Organic Doctor Organic Manuka Honey Hand & Nail Cream ($24.99)
  • Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure ($1.16)


  • Colgate Optic White Toothbrush + Built In Whitening Pen ($15.96)
  • Colgate Optic White Platinum Whiten & Protect Toothpaste ($5.99)



Friday, November 7, 2014

Damn Threenagers

As you may have gathered from my title, Lucia is driving me insane.  It's funny because Adriana gets in trouble way more than Lucia, but when I think back on the worst things my kids have ever done, it's ALWAYS the little one who comes to mind.  I have had to paint three walls because of this kid, whereas the worst thing Adriana ever did was cut herself a surprisingly adorable little side bang.  Lucy is also SUPER SNEAKY, always hiding things behind her back and taking sips of my pop when she thinks I'm not looking.  I need to remember to cut Adriana some slack. 

Last night I was prepping 10 dinners because I'm going to this Wildtree freezer party thingie tonight (I am really excited about it actually...apparently I just LOVE ME a good multi level marketing scheme!)  Anyway, it involved touching way more chicken than any human should possibly have to suffer through, so before I started I took off my rings, watch, bracelet, and fitbit and stuck them on the dining room table.  It's not a very high traffic room so I didn't really think twice about it (but I am guessing you can see where this is going). 

Justin was supposed to be watching the girls but he came in to save me from some especially potent onions that were making me cry.  After he was done chopping we kept chit chatting in the kitchen.  The kiddos started fighting so he went to check on them and LO AND BEHOLD Lucy had snuck into the dining room and stolen my jewelry.  Adriana was wearing my engagement ring (because while she may not be the instigator, she is an excellent partner in crime...maybe I won't cut her that slack after all).  Lucia said she was wearing the wedding ring but it fell off. 

We spent HOURS searching and my ring is still missing. 

Then this morning I made the mistake of taking two minutes to myself in the bathroom, only to find that Lucy was now covered in ink.  The tops of her feet were almost entirely blue, and she had lines down her right hand and over her fingers. 

[SIDE NOTE...It just occurred to me as I was writing this that both of these incidents could have been avoided if we still had the gate on the living room door.  I had a party a few weeks ago and took it down, but maybe I just have the kind of kids who need to be in baby jail at all times.]

Anyway, I was about to put Lucia in time out, and then it occurred to me...she is right handed.  So both of the girls were interrogated, and they both kept insisting that the other did it.  I gave them a lecture about the importance of honesty, and Adriana starting crying and said "I don't knoooooooow...sometimes I forget things!  Maybe I did do it and I don't remember." 

Now this is a line that she has used in the past when she was guilty and didn't want to admit it, but something was telling me that she didn't do it.  So I looked back at Lucy and asked her again.  That little shit sweet daughter of mine looked me right in the eye and insisted that Adriana did it and that she was telling the truth. 

So we got in the car and headed to daycare.  Then I did something that I never ever EVER thought I would do pre-children.  I played the Santa card.  After suggesting that maybe a call to Santa would straighten things out, Lucia started LAUGHING AT ME and said "Sorry, Mama!  It was me!"

I told her I forgave her but that it hurt my heart that she didn't tell me the truth.  After a minute or two, Adriana also said she forgave her for blaming her, so I thought that it was nice that at least SOMEONE was paying attention to my mama lessons. 

But ACK.  I forgot how obnoxious little three year olds can be.  The constant limit testing, the rages, the lying...if two year olds are like tiny drunks, three year olds are tiny sociopaths.  Aside from tagging my walls, Lucy was an especially sweet baby and toddler, but I get the feeling that I'm going to pay for that now. 

Anyway, I'm really bummed about my ring.  Does anyone have a good lost wedding ring story?  I remember cheering when Swistle found hers, and my brother lost his saving my SIL when they were rafting this summer and she went overboard (which, if you have to lose your ring, saving your wife's life is totally the way to go). 

Update: I went back and read the story of how Swistle lost her ring and there are ZILLIONS of awesome lost ring stories in the comments.  It was a fun read...probably re-read but I have swiss cheese brain. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Enabler Alert: IT Cosmetics Your Most Radiant You

This is just a quickie post to let you know that IT Cosmetics has another great set on sale today only on QVC.  The lovely folks at IT sent me this for review.  

  • 0.30-oz Celebration Foundation Illumination in Fair, Light, Medium, Tan, or Rich
  • 0.33-fl oz Hello Lashes! Extensions Mascara in Black
  • 0.17-oz No Tug Waterproof Gel Eyeliner in Black/Brown
  • 0.38-oz CC+ Radiance Ombre Blush in Je Ne Sais Quoi, a soft pink shade
  • Heavenly Luxe Double Airbrush Foundation Brush
  • Hello Lashes! Extensions Mascara and CC+ Radiance Ombre Blush are exclusive to QVC until 12/31/14

I have only had it in my hot little hands for a couple of days, but I can definitely say I think it's a great deal at $54.96.  
Face pics from top to bottom - bare, foundation, foundation+blush
IT Cosmetics makes the best face brushes I have ever tried, and  the Heavenly Luxe Double Airbrush Foundation Brush is no exception.  My rosacea is currently flaring up due to eating like crap the past couple of weeks, so I used a heavy hand in the pic above, but you can also get super light coverage with this light fluffy brush.  

I prefer the original Celebration Foundation to the Illumination version, but that's like saying I prefer pepperoni pizza to hawaiian.  It's still a really great foundation, I just prefer to be matte. 

The CC+ Radiance Ombre blush is a beautiful color.  I like having the option to use it as a highlighter or to just swirl it all together; it's a great multitasking product.  It also stays put a lot longer than other blushes I own.  

I haven't played with the liner or mascara enough to have strong opinions on either, but based on my first impression these appear to be just as high quality as IT Cosmetics always is.  The mascara is definitely more lengthening than volumizing.  It's a plastic bristle brush with a spiky ball deal on the end.  The liner is in "black brown".  It looks "brown brown" in the pencil, but by some voodoo magic does appear to be black brown on.  

I would say that this is a really nice basic set...nothing as innovative as you usually see from IT but still a lot of quality items at a good price.  It's well worth it for the brush and blush alone.  

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Hey, Look! A Blog Post!

Well, that was a completely unintended and unexpected vacation from Blogsville.  I don't think I have ever taken a break this long.  I don't really have a good excuse, I think I got kind of bogged down with needing my posts about the detox to be perfect, and then I got behind because of that, and then I got frustrated because I was behind, and then all of this big deal real life stuff happened. But I'm looking forward to getting all caught up with you guys and to get back to writing.  I missed you guys!

So, the detox.  I lost 13 pounds, hubs lost over 20 and kept going to nearly 30.  We have both since gained back a couple of pounds, but for the most part feel like it was a huge success.  I still plan on wrapping up those posts, for those of you who were interested.  I am also planning on doing another round in October, with the goal of shedding another 10 pounds.  I think it's a pretty easy way to lose weight, even though I'm basically cranky and tired for the whole month.  I feel like it's worth it to be able to fit in my clothes and not feel all bloaty and gross, plus it worked wonders on my rosacea.  I'm not committed enough to make it a lifestyle, but I'll do it 3-4 times a year.

My job...ugh.  Basically, the company I work for has a risky side of the business and a stable/predictable side of the business.  I was working on the riskier side, and my entire group was eliminated as part of a big reorganization.  The company found new jobs for about half of the people whose jobs were eliminated, and I was lucky enough to be in the employed half.  I have a lot of FEELINGS about this, but mostly I'm just pissed that I had a really sweet deal and now I don't.  I loved everything about my old job.  It was 3 minutes from home, I loved the work, I got to work from home half a day on Mondays, I could nap, clean, or work out at lunch...the list goes on and on.  Now I'm in the corporate office, which is probably better for my career (lots of exposure), is where all of my friends work, and I still report to my old boss, but basically sucks in every other way.  Long commute, pay for parking, no free coffee or jeans days and a HELLA STRESSFUL environment.  Everything is due yesterday and is the highest priority.  That is not really how I like to roll.  I have already had one random attack of hives, and I have definitely been feeling anxious and snappy with the girls.  I'm sure I'll get used to it, I'm just really bitter/sad about losing my dream job. 

In other sucktastic news, a good friend / ex boyfriend of mine from high school was recently diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer.  He's 35 and a father of 3 and just a really good person, and it's all just horribly unfair.  I took the news really hard, probably harder than I should have considering that we hadn't even seen each other since my wedding reception, but still.  I feel like high school people are always in my heart because we became "who we are" together.  I have been kind of re-evaluating my life and friendships and even my religious views (or lack thereof) as a result of all of this.  I'm still a heathen, but I hate when my friends are going through serious life shit and all I can say is "I'm thinking of you".  At least if I believed in prayer I would feel like I am actually doing something meaningful to help. Instead I'm sending him lame texts, making for real plans to finally get a will, and hugging the girls a little closer at night.  If any of you want to pray or send good thoughts or have suggestions for meaningful things to say when life is bullshit, it's all appreciated. 

On a more positive note, hubs and I are good.  I kind of feel like we got all of the marriage drama out of the way early so it will be smooth sailing from here.  Older couples are probably laughing at me, but whatever, we are in a nice Boring Married People phase right now.  We watch Dexter snuggled up in the couch with some wine (likely while I'm wearing a Target onesie, which was a LIFE CHANGING purchase, btw). 

The kiddos are also awesome and probably deserve their own update post, with lots of adorable pictures for you to ooh and ahh over.  I will add it to the top of my mental blog list.  Other upcoming topics include the detox update, an update on what beauty/lifestyle boxes I'm currently subscribed to, my current skincare routine, a post about workplace fashion since I had to upgrade the wardrobe for the new jobby job, and eventually a room by room house tour (finally).  Anything else you guys want to hear about?  And feel free to tell me what's up with you in the comments, because I have not been keeping up with blogs or twitter (but I do keep up with Instagram, so if I'm not following you please let me know). 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Arbonne Chocolate Protein Energy Bites

Justin calls these Chocolate Salty Balls and Adriana calls them Poopy Balls With Nuts and Seeds, but I decided it was probably better to keep it classy.  Wait, let me get something out of my system first...BALLS BALLS BALLS BALLS.  Okay, keeping it classy starting...NOW. 


So, as you guys know, I'm entering week 2 of my Arbonne 28 Day detox.  The fit chews are good (especially the mango ones!), but not quite enough to satisfy my hunger or my sweet tooth.  If I'm going to make it 28 days, I need something that packs a bigger punch.

I decided to whip up a batch of energy bites, something I have made many times before but never without peanut butter.  This receipe is dairy and gluten free, and it's vegan if you use Arbonne's protein. 

1 cup gluten-free oatmeal (Bob's Red Mill)
1/2 cup almond butter (Barney Butter)
1/3 cup agave nectar (Wholesome Sweeteners)
1 cup coconut flakes (Let's Do Organic)
1/2 cup ground flax seed (Arrowhead Mills)
2 scoops chocolate protein powder (Arbonne Essentials)
Splash vanilla
Unsweetened almond milk for consistency
I didn't grind my flax because I'm lazy, but you should definitely do this for greater nutritional value.  I didn't measure the almond milk, I just poured in enough to make it sticky - probably about 1/4 cup in this case.  You really can't mess this up - feel free to substitute any of the ingredients.  This recipe is a little dry because I wanted to be able to eat them at work without gunking up my keyboard; if you like stickier balls feel free to add more almond butter and/or agave nectar.  

This made about 35 balls; you'll get more or less depending on your preferred ball size.

I popped the dish in the fridge for about 30 minutes, then stored them in a Ziploc bag (still in the fridge).  I use them as a fit chew substitution or as a "dessert" after dinner.  Who am I kidding, that should be an AND, not an or, and I have a hard time eating just one!  But if I have to slip a bit, this is a tasty way to do it!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

IT Cosmetics IT's All About You! Review + QVC TSV Enabler Alert

As you may know, I have always been a giant fan of IT Cosmetics - Bye Bye Redness changed my life!  Since that post, the IT Cosmetics PR team has sent me some products so I can share them with you guys.  I almost always end up purchasing the goodies with my own money as well, this set included.  I love this brand!

While I am disclaiming things, I should apologize in advance for the state of my eyebrows.  I'm trying to get up the courage to wax them myself and keep chickening out, so I should probably just resign myself to too thin brows and go back to my aesthetician.   Also, I totally suck at makeup photography, sorry about that! 


The IT's All About You! kit is an awesome deal - for $59.96 (or 3 payments of $23.90) you get concealer, a highlighter/blush/bronzer palette, powder foundation, a brow pencil, and a double sided brush.  You can sign up for auto-delivery and get everything but the brush every 90 days for $49.54.  I usually do auto-delivery and then change out what shade I get based on the season or skip a shipment or cancel if I am not running low.  This TSV is available on Saturday, June 21. 

First up:  the Silverplush Heavenly Luxe Dual-Ended Completion Perfection Brush (omg these names kill me).  If you have never experienced the joy that is an IT cosmetics brush, you need to get yourself to Ulta and play with them.  They are the softest, nicest brushes I own, and they hold up to washing perfectly.  LOVE.

Next is the Celebration Foundation in the shade medium beige.  I have been out in the sun too much this year so this actually matches me, and it's probably a decent bronzer for my lily white winter skin.  I have only tried the Illumination formula before so this is new to me - I actually like it much, much, MUCH better.  This is one of very few powder foundations in the universe that does a decent job of covering my rosacea on its own.  I don't even wear MAC Studio Fix alone usually, at least not to work.  I am so happy someone with rosacea created a makeup line, it's like every product just WORKS for me.
Bare skin on the left; Celebration Foundation on the right.  Don't worry, I did my hair before I went to work.  I just always do makeup first. 
I was intrigued by the CC+ Radiance Palette as soon as I saw those little color correcting blobby things in what I initially thought was a highlighter.  That is actually a brightening, color correcting finishing powder that is supposed to go all over your skin, but I prefer to just use it to brighten key areas since it does give off a little bit of a weird cast if used on my cheeks.  The blush and bronzer are gorgeous, and everything blends like a dream. 

I have gone through several Brow Powers before, but this one is a little different due to the flat, wide shape of the tip (it's usually pointier, like a pencil).  The new tip is a nice touch; I can do my brows in two seconds now.  The color also seems a bit different, it looks a little more natural on me than it did before.  This is a universal pencil, so if you push hard it's dark but if you use a light touch even blondes can use it. 
Now I will make some stupid faces so you can see the makeup.  I'm only wearing Brow Power in the right pics. 
The Bye Bye Undereye is too dark for me so I'll give it to a family member.  I have several tubes of this stuff and I think it's great.  It does take some getting used to because it's a thick formula and you have to use only the teeniest amount and set it if you don't want it to crease, but it has amazing coverage so it's worth the fuss to me.

I have been wearing this stuff all week and one of the things I like the best is that it wears off in a really natural, pretty way.  This is me after a good 12 hours of wear.  Note that my rosacea is peeking through but definitely still masked, and that the makeup isn't patchy or broken up at all, just faded. 

I ordered this set on autodelivery, and cancelled my other IT set with the Celebration Foundation Illumination in it.  This one is definitely a better fit for me - I'm really enjoying it!

Update: To answer Nicole's question, the foundation does have zinc oxide, and all of the products have skincare ingredients in them! 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Arbonne 28 Day Detox Overview

Comparison to 30 Days to Healthy Living here

Some of you expressed an interest in my experience with Arbonne's 28 Day Detox, so I plan to do this intro post, an end of week post each week I'm on it, and maybe my thoughts after it's all over.  I might review some products along the way as well.  Just to be clear, I am not trying to sell anyone Arbonne.  I am a consultant, but just because I wanted the 35% discount for myself and friends/family.  Update: I wasn't able to do the weekly posts, but you can see my results here!!! 

Any posting here is just because I'm viewing this as a fun science experiment.  I am really interested to see how my body responds to the various products and whether it's worth the hype (and steep price, even with 35% off).  I'm also blogging about it because I enjoyed E's posts and all of the other posts I read - no two people have the same experience, so I figure I'll put mine out into the world too. 

My initial thoughts on the program (and it's totally okay if you disagree!)

I should probably say right up front that I think the whole concept of "detoxing" is bullshit.  I have no reason to believe that my liver and kidneys aren't doing the job for me.  I get really cringey when people in the various facebook groups (I'm in the June 2 and June 16 groups) start talking about how we are being poisoned by this or that and how all of these "toxins" are in our fat cells and that's why we have no energy and can't lose weight.  I don't know of a single credible medical professional who would agree with some of these claims. 

I am only 1/4 of a doctor (med school dropout, woohoo!), but I think that the reason this plan works is that it puts people in nutritional ketosis.  Compared to the standard American diet (which people love to call SAD, but it makes me happy - yay food!), it's super high protein (80+ grams if you work out) and super low carb (most of the allowed carbs are all fiber, and you are only supposed to fill up 1/8 of your plate with carbs). 

I personally don't think gluten is evil or that people in general have anywhere NEAR as many food allergies / intolerances as they claim.  I don't think there is a ton of benefit (to me, not to the animals) from only eating cage free animals, and GMOs or hard to read ingredients don't typically scare me.  I don't mind a little science in my food and skincare. 

It's all about moderation, people.  If you normally eat tons of crap and don't work out, and then you suddenly pay close attention to your nutrition for 28 days, you will lose weight, plain and simple.  Considering that I prepped for the detox by hitting up Five Guys, Coldstone, and Church's Chicken, I fully expect that replacing 2 meals with shakes and eating a healthy dinner is going to have a big impact on my appearance and my general well being.  I also think it will be better for my family as a whole, since it will force us to eat out less and to cook more.  I actually do make really healthy dinners when I cook, but when I get busy with work and the kids, meal prep is one of the first things that goes out the window.  I am ready for a lifestyle change.     

Finally, I am excited to see if this actually helps my rosacea.  This diet eliminates almost every single rosacea trigger, so even if nothing else works out, I will know once and for all if avoiding triggers is a worthwhile endeavor.  I did get some Arbonne skincare, but I think I'm going to hold off until after the detox to test it so there aren't any confounding factors. 

The products

Arbonne products are vegan and gluten-free, and are developed "with premium blends of vitamins, minerals, botanicals, superfood antioxidants, enzymes, prebiotics, and probiotics."

The 28 Day Detox uses products from the 30-Day Feeling Fit kit, which is not at all confusing (omg).  The kit includes 2 protein shake mixes (chocolate and/or vanilla), 2 energy fizz sticks (citrus and/or pomegranate),  2 fit chews (chocolate, caramel, lemon, or other seasonal flavors), 2 herbal detox teas, and 1 daily fiber boost. 

You can also add the 7 day cleanse for week 3 of the program.  I got it in the name of trying to follow the program to a T, but basically I think I'll be pooping out $50.  You're welcome for that image.  Some people add Digestion Plus (probiotics) to their shakes as well, but I didn't purchase it. 

The 30-day feeling fit kit plus the 7-Day cleanse ran a whopping $272.11 after my discount, but including those pesky taxes and S&H.  The S&H on Arbonne is INSANE.  I have no idea how much I spend in 28 days for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and diet coke, but if I assume $5 for breakfast and $7 for lunch, I would have spent $336, so this may actually be less expensive than business as usual.  And I will save more money by swapping or skipping items next round; it's customizable. 

The avoid list

While doing the detox, I have to avoid dairy, gluten, soy, peanuts/PB, sugar, honey, maple syrup, artificial sweeteners, coffee, alcohol, all fruit except limes/lemons/green apples/berries, pork, farm-raised fish, non cage-free eggs, non free-range chicken, non grass-fed beef, white potatoes, corn, nitrates, MSG, and vinegar.  Whew!

I am most worried about diet coke, but I cut wayyyy back the last 2 weeks so I didn't have to go cold turkey. 

Arbonne doesn't spend a lot of time telling you WHY you are avoiding certain ingredients, but I still think it's mainly to get you into ketosis and to see if you have food allergies.  Update: I learned a little more about the avoid list and posted it here.

A typical day

You are supposed to go 4 hours between meals, so I decided my shake times are 10 and 2 and dinner is at 6.  You aren't supposed to eat after 7. 

Wake up: Detox tea, fizz stick
Breakfast: Shake + fiber
Snack: Fit chew and/or 8-10 almonds or 3-4 berries
Lunch: Shake
Snack: Fit chew and/or 8-10 almonds or 3-4 berries
Dinner: A fist size of lean protein, non-starchy vegetables, high fiber carb, and a small amount of healthy fat.  The cheat sheet shows 1/2 your plate being veggies, 1/4 protein, 1/8 carbs, 1/8 fat.  No seconds. 

If I work out intensely for an hour, I can have a recovery shake in addition to all of the above, within 30 min of working out.  It's basically a regular shake + half a banana + a serving of healthy fat.  I might just eat the half banana with some almond butter on it and skip the shake if it's too close to meal time.  We'll see.

I have an Arbonne pinterest board that has a ton of great dinner options.  Some of them will require substitutions to comply with the avoid list though.  I'll be including which specific meals I eat in my weekly write-ups, since that is what I was most interested in when I was reading every Arbonne detox post in the history of the internet.  Well, that and before/after pics, obvs. 

Wish me luck!! 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Enabler Alert: Le Metier de Beaute Vault VIP Subscription

Okay, so I realize I post many things on here that aren't for everyone, and this one probably has the smallest group of people that would actually be interested because of the horrifying up front cost.  But my friend Laura recently spent a butt ton on LMdB products and loves it, and she alerted me that this sub was accepting enrollments for a short period of time like the devil woman she is.  And now I'm alerting you, like the devil woman I am.   The first box ships in August, and spots are limited (and if they don't fill, they are closing them 7/18/14). 

I have only been aware that LMdB existed since they were featured in the Nieman Marcus PopSugar Must Have special edition box.  All I really knew is that it is a luxury brand sold at Nordstrom, Saks, and Nieman Marcus.  I believe it's only at Nieman Marcus now (at least online), which is a little concerning, but I know the brand has a bit of a cult following due to the cool packaging of the kaleidoscopes, so I don't think they are going anywhere.

The 2014 Beauty Vault VIP program is $348 for 12 months, which is A LOT OF FREAKING MONEY.  I wouldn't even blink if I was signing up to pay $29 a month, but asking for it up front is tough.  The smart ladies at MUT pointed out that you can use PayPal bill me later and spread it over 6 months though, which is a great idea if you are super interested but divorcing over makeup seems a bit silly. 

The idea of the program is that you are building a collection of LMdB products (mostly full sized) over the course of the year...there is a good mix of color cosmetics, skincare, and nail polish, and you occasionally get pre-release sneak peeks, lab previews, or vault exclusives.  Shipping is free. 

This is what everyone got from August through June in the first year of the program - they still have one month to go!  If you want to see gorgeous photos, check out Glamorable.  I read tons of reviews before buying, but Anastasia's were my favorite.   

Daily Refresh Tonic ($50)
True Colour Eye Shadow in Peachy Keen ($30)
True Colour Eye Shadow in Goldstone ($30)
Peau Vierge Anti-Aging Pressed Powder - most appear to have received Shade #2 ($75)
Peau Vierge Correcteur Concealer - most appear to have received Light/Medium ($95)
Ultra Hydration Eye Mask Duo ($18.75)
Nail Lacquer - shades vary ($18)
Nail Lacquer - shades vary ($18)
Color Core Lipstick - shades vary ($32)
Dual Action Makeup Remover ($32)
Kaleidoscope Face kit in Cheeky Chic ($95)
Peau Vierge Lash Growth Serum ($95)
Dualistic Eyelash Curler ($18)
Dualistic Eye Pencil - shades vary ($18)
Peau Vierge Dark Spot Corrector ($125)
True Colour Crème Eye Shadow in Starry Night ($32)
True Colour Crème Eye Shadow in Champagne Shimmer ($32)
Kaleidoscope Eye or Lip Kit - shades vary ($95)
Signature Red Lipstick ($25)
Precision Liquid Eye Liner ($42)
Kabuki Brush ($85)

By my count, 11/12 of the way through the program they are up to $1060.75 worth of product.  I would say this is comparable to a box like PopSugar which is a little more expensive ($40ish) but the per box value is more consistent ($100-125ish). 

I like the variety of products they have received so far, and am impressed by the fact that so many people seem to love the program.  I also really like the packaging and the fact that they include handwritten notes (sometimes from the CEO or COO!!) - there is a very personal feel to this service.  I am super intrigued by their proprietary couches de couleurs technique, and by their unique approach to beauty.  Many people on MUT were disappointed with the crème eye shadows, but I thought the email response shared by jesemiaud on MUT was fascinating:

To answer your question, the Cream Shadows are fashion items, and they're meant to be a little slick to give the eyes a dewy, sexy, and imperfect appearance. The product should be used very lightly, only in tiny amounts. The softest touch over or under powder shadows add mystery to the eye. They are not meant to be used in the crease of the eye(where oil penetrates too quickly), or in the inner membrane, or in substantial amounts. However, the look is meant to be slightly undone.
For more long wearing looks, we use the Dualistic Eye Pencil as base, or applied over shadow. These pencils come in basic black(Noir), matte brown(Sequoia), shimmering bronze(Tamarack), and beige(Champagne). The Dualistic formula is more durable for real life, the pots are meant for fashion and fun.

All the best,

Many people were kind of perplexed by this, but I read it and was like "wannnnnnttttt".  Slightly undone = right up my alley, as I will forever be a 90's grunge girl in my heart.  And who doesn't need more fashion and fun in life?  I always love to try stuff that is like nothing else I've tried - to me, that is the whole point of a subscription service. 

So now for some negatives...they send out things like powder and concealer in one shade.  People do not come in one shade.  Customer service was really inconsistent when people complained...people were told to "be generous and give it to a friend", while others were told replacements were on the way.  They are supposedly fixing this in the next round, but I wasn't asked any of this information when I signed up.  I also think it's a wee bit crazy that this company came out of nowhere (they have only been around since 2006) and we are supposed to buy that it's luxury (and worth luxury prices) just because they said so.  I really, really, really hope it's as good as the pricing suggests! 

That being said, what better way to decide if it's worth the hype than to try out the products for a year?  I am more excited for this than any box ever.