Loot Crate: November 2014.

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It feels like I was just starting to get over the greatness that was October’s Loot Crate when November’s box showed up at my door. When I saw this month’s theme, “BATTLE,” I immediately thought back to the days of highly competitive (and highly emotional) ‘Mortal Kombat’ tournaments my older brother and I would have on our Sega Genesis in my parents’ living room, and to the days where Sean would mercilessly kick my ass (and then mercilessly mock me,) while we played ‘Tekken’ on rainy afternoons during Summer vacations when we were kids.

While the “BATTLE” box sadly didn’t include anything ‘Mortal Kombat’ or ‘Tekken’ related, it did have a few cool things inside of it- some of which I’ll be gifting to friends.

Let’s take a look!

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As usual, November’s crate included it’s mini-magazine and collector’s pin with the “BATTLE” theme printed on it. Inside the magazine were the expected games, puzzles, and a break-down of what was featured in the box and what had been up for grabs in the coveted monthly ‘Epic Mega Crate’ that subscribers can enter to win with each theme.

The magazine also featured a Q&A with the creators of ‘Assassin’s Creed’ and an article by Keri Honea detailing the evolution of the ‘Halo’ franchise, which was a pretty good read for anyone who plays the game or has been catching up with the comic and/or novel series.

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I enjoy the ‘Assassin’s Creed’ games. The story throughout the series can be a bit convoluted and tiresome at times, much like the ‘Resident Evil’ franchise where things are lazily tied together and really make no sense the more you think about them- but the game play and graphics are incredible and that’s enough to keep me entertained and hanging on for more. This metal “Unity Coin,” which features the seal of the Assassins on one side and a space to etch your name on the other- will be going to my friend Mike, who is a big fan of the games and will undoubtedly appreciate this little token to add to his “Man Town” room in his house!

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Also being gifted is this cute little Mega Man helmet replica with a supporting display stand. I received the green helmet, one of four available colors- and will be passing it on to one of two friends I know of who will enjoy this little nostalgic memento!

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I’ve mentioned it in a past Loot Crate review, but I have a few fond memories of completely decimating my ex-boyfriend on his XBox whenever he’d challenge me to play ‘Halo 2′ with him. I’m fairly certain the cry of “ASHLEY! STOP TAKING THE F*CKING SWORD! STOP CHASING ME!” happened so often that his neighbors had to have been concerned about what was happening behind closed doors.

I digress, this little Halo figurine from Mega Bloks, complete with it’s own weapon and drop ship- cracked me up. I wasn’t sure as to whether or not I’d gift this toy or keep it for myself, but the more I look at it, the more I think I can find a place for it with all my other little trinkets.

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When Sean and I weren’t beating the hell out of each other or trying to sabotage one another by reaching over to grab the other person’s controller mid-game play in ‘Tekken,’ we opted for ‘Street Fighter.’ Admittedly, I wasn’t as into SF as I was other fighting franchises (‘Mortal Kombat’ will always be my favorite,) but it was still a good time and this Ryu headband gave me a good laugh when I unraveled it from it’s packaging. Would I wear it on a regular basis or out in public? Probably not- but it was still fun to throw on to take a photo. HADOUKEN!

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Ah, yes- the age old question: “which is better- pirates or ninjas?” I remember getting into a full-blown debate about this in high school once with my friend John. I was all for pirates, while John kept attempting to counter my points with his ninja-appreciation. To this day, I don’t think the issue has ever been resolved, but now, with the help of this soft fitted t-shirt- I think the answer can be a little bit of both. Meshing a ninja with a pirate (Ninjate? Piranja?) by using words often associated with each- I love the design of this tee and I can’t wait to wear it- possibly to my high school reunion where John and I can finish the debate once and for all.

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Lastly, November’s crate featured a couple of digital bonuses- some free content from Archie (yes!) and a percentage off of the “Lichdom: Battlemage” game currently on Stream.

And as the box Loot Crate arrived in indicated, both the box and the mini-magazine doubled as something else. The box, which could be bent to look like a diorama of sorts, offered the scenery- while the back cover of the MiniMag had perforated cut-outs of Mega Man and Ryu in various battle poses so that you could set them up to create a fight scene of your own. I’m saving that project for my niece, who will get a kick out of it for sure.

While “BATTLE” wasn’t necessarily my favorite box I’ve received to date, I still enjoyed opening it up and checking everything out. I’ve got a few little gifts for friends and a comfortable t-shirt to wear when I’m lounging around- so it wasn’t a complete miss this month!

Ipsy Bag: November 2014 Review.

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When Ipsy began releasing teases and spoilers for their November bag, “Girl Meets Glitter,” I was a little worried. I won’t deny that I love all things shiny and sparkly (my father used to call me a “crow” because of how glittery my handbags, dresses, shoes, and jewelry were/are,) but I haven’t worn makeup with a significant amount of sparkle in it since Jr. High- back when tube tops and thong straps peeking over low rise jeans were in style. I know- horrifying, right? I’ve hid so many photos over the years from those troubling times that I hope will NEVER see the light of day.

I digress. While the actual Ipsy bag itself was nothing short of a sparkly, prism explosion- the products inside were surprisingly free of glitter overload. With makeup products comprising most of the bag, I’ve been trying them out over the past few days and have finally reached a verdict on each!

What I Received:

Be A Bombshell Cosmetics Eye Base in “Submissive” (*Full Size!*)

J. Cat Beauty Wonder Lip Paint in “Red Potion” (*Full Size!*)

Elizabeth Mott you’re so FINE Eyeliner in “Glitterati” (*Full Size!*)

Marc Anthony Oil of Morocco Argan Oil Volume Shine Hairspray

TEMPTU S/B Highlighter in “Pink Pearl”

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Product # 1: Be A Bombshell Cosmetics Eye Base in “Submissive” ($14)

In past GlossyBox reviews, I’ve joked that the subscription service had a torrid relationship with Bvlgari considering how often I received their products. In Ipsy’s case, they have a solid bond with Be A Bombshell Cosmetics. I think I’ve tried each of their products in the time I’ve been subscribed to Ipsy- from lipsticks to blushes to eye shadows to mascaras. Some products have been hits, and others have been misses. This creamy primer, which applied easily and dried to a brassy, metallic finish- started off with so much potential. I thought for sure it would be a color that was beautiful enough on it’s own that I wouldn’t need to apply shadow over it.

Unfortunately, this product didn’t last at all. Within a couple of hours, both by itself and with powder shadow blended over it- this primer had faded and crumbled in the crease of my eyes. Multiple re-applications were necessary throughout the day to keep my eyes looking fresh, which was a shame considering how beautiful the color was by itself.

Would I Purchase?: No. Had the color of this primer lasted longer, I’d have probably been sold on it- because it really is a lovely metallic on the lids- but the longevity is beyond disappointing and that’s enough to make me stick with my usual Urban Decay Primer Potions and toss this one in the rubbish bin.

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Product # 2: J. Cat Beauty Wonder Lip Paint in “Red Potion” ($4.99)

In September’s GlossyBox, I had received a full-sized tube of  OCC Lip Tar that I had liked despite how drying it was. When I saw this tube of J.Cat Lip Paint (which had unfortunately leaked a little bit in it’s packaging,) I immediately drew comparisons to the OCC product. The shade, “Red Potion,” started off looking like an almost plum hue- but it’s red tones deepened as it dried. This Lip Paint wasn’t a matte finish, and it wasn’t as drying as the OCC Lip Tar. In terms of longetivity, this product did last for hours without fading- and when it eventually did- it left behind a nice, subtle stain. I was impressed- especially considering the $4.99 price point.

Would I Purchase?: Yes! “Red Potion” is a long-lasting, comfortable, and festive shade that’s perfect for the upcoming holidays, and with the quality and reasonable cost of these paints, I would love to try more in some of the other available shades.

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Product # 3: Elizabeth Mott you’re so FINE Eyeliner in “Glitterati” ($17.99)

Oh, liquid liner- we meet again. I’ve had quite a few disastrous experiences when it comes to liquid liners I’ve received in past beauty boxes- usually preferring gel liners or soft pencils, instead. This waterproof liner, a basic black with a sparkly twist- not only applied easier than I thought it would (it’s ultra fine brush and long handle definitely helped,) but it lasted all day without smudging, flaking, or fading. I was pleasantly surprised! Also, the amount of glitter in the formula isn’t over-the-top and it doesn’t cause any irritation along the lash line. It’s just a hint of sparkle that’s eye-catching under certain lighting.

Would I Purchase?: Yes! I think if I ever decide to make the commitment to liquid liners, this Elizabeth Mott formula is a good place to start. The only downside to this liner is that it only comes in two shades- black, and ‘Glitterati,’ which as described- is black with sparkle. That minor setback aside, this really is a great, long-lasting liner.

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Product # 4: Marc Anthony Oil of Morocco Argan Oil Volume Shine Hairspray ($8.29)

Not that long ago, I was raving about how much I’ve come to love Moroccan Argan oil in my hair. It softens, it smooths, it conditions- and it’s color-safe. Naturally, someone would take those benefits and put them in aerosol spray that shoots out so hard from the canister that it can be compared to an air rifle. As you can probably guess, I’m not a fan of “hard” hairsprays- the ones that come out with such force no matter how gently you press down on the button. They always make my curls crunchy, stiff, and usually leave behind some sort of flaky residue after they’ve dried. This spray was unfortunately no exception. After a few uses- each time hoping there would be some redeeming quality to this product- there was no change. My hair felt stiff to the touch, and even looked dull after a few spritzes. The only good thing about this spray was that it smelled nice, but that’s unfortunately not enough for me.

Would I Purchase?: No. I’ll stick to my actual oils instead of relying on aerosols to get the desired results I like so much. This spray, like the much dreaded dry shampoos that sometimes turn up in GlossyBox or other Ipsy bags, was sadly just a dud for me.

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Product # 5: TEMPTU S/B Highlighter in “Pink Pearl” ($27.50)

I’ve been getting a lot of use out of recently received cream highlighers as of late, so I was a little unsure of what to make out of this little tube of liquid illuminator- which can be mixed with foundation or applied on it’s own along cheekbones and brow bones. Although it looks pearly white at first, this product actually has a fairly good amount of pink to it once it’s applied and blended. The result was a lightweight, non-greasy, and natural looking glow to my skin that lasted from early morning until the late afternoon. I really liked the color, the finish, and how long this highlighter lasts. You don’t have to worry about it running down your cheeks or fading too fast. You can just dab it on and go!

Would I Purchase?: Yes! I think once I’ve used up the last of my cream highlighters, which I do love, I’ll be purchasing a full-sized bottle of this TEMPTU one. A little goes a long way and it really does add an amazing finish to any makeup look- be it natural or dramatic.

With the exception of the hairspray and the eye shadow base, I enjoyed November’s Ipsy Bag. The products were good quality and the pouch will definitely come in handy around the holidays when it’s time to break out the party dresses and sparkly jewelry. I’m curious to see if Ipsy will pull out all the stops for their December bag- since most subscription services go all out for the end of the year!

“The Forest of Talking Trees…”

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I love the outdoors as much as the next person, but hiking in the woods in the middle of Spring or Summer is not my idea of an enjoyable time. The heat. The bugs. Sweating. The bugs. Pollen. The bugs. Even though I’m not a fan of the cold I’d much rather get my climbing cardio on in the colder months where I know I won’t get eaten alive by mosquitos or risk running into a spider (or a nest of spiders- which may or may not be an irrational fear of mine.)

This past Saturday had perfect weather for such an excursion. I headed out to Western Massachusetts with a hot cup of coffee and “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” soundtrack (so good!) on my iPod where I tromped through leaves and over snow to catch the beginning of the late afternoon sunset. There were a few other people wandering the trails, too- some with dogs that were awfully friendly and others with kids that were even friendlier. I had my camera with me, and snapped the above photos before it began getting too dark outside and I started back towards where I’d parked my car.

It was a beautiful ending to the day- made even more so after the fact with a quick stop in downtown Northampton before I eventually headed back home. I’d like to head back within the coming weeks to get a few more photos, preferably earlier in the day while I have the sunlight on my side- and before the snow gets here!

xx

Tagged: 20 Facts!

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Back on Halloween, prior to running off to NYC, I had mentioned that November was “crunch time” at my job, and I wasn’t exaggerating. The past couple of weeks have been spent putting in some serious overtime at my office as I pored over paperwork, files, e-mails, and post-it notes (a necessity in any busy girl’s work space!) In between long hours, I also entertained company visiting from out of town for a weekend, enjoyed the first dusting of snow of the season, and have been putting together content for the blog. Now, with the weekend here to- hopefully- get caught up on those pesky e-mails I’ve been neglecting and the multiple shows recorded on my DVR, I’m also taking the time to participate in the ’20 Facts Tag,’ which should be self-explanatory. The lovely Nikki over at Dollar Store Diva tagged me, as well as some other phenomenal Boston-based bloggers. Thanks, Nikki!

Here are mine! I tried to keep some of them Boston-area related given that so many wonderful women in the city are also participating, but there’s a few odds and ends in there, too!

1. I think Charlestown is my favorite neighborhood in Boston. I’ll always love Beacon Hill and the North End, of course (and Southie will forever hold a special place in my heart-) but in the warmer weather- I love walking around Charlestown. Especially around the Bunker Hill Monument. It’s beautiful. You won’t find parking to save your life, but strolling around the area is really enjoyable.

2. Assaggio is my favorite restaurant in the city (located in the North End.) I was just there this past weekend, but if my date and I hadn’t been able to get a reservation- we probably would have headed over to Wagamama in Faneuil Hall. There’s only a couple in the United States, and they’re all located in the Boston area. Before Assaggio and Wagamama won me over, there was The Other Side in Back Bay, which is now sadly closed (RIP.)

3. Favorite Boston-based movie? I feel like the first “Boondock Saints” is a given, but it’s right up there with “Southie” starring Donnie Wahlberg. That movie is my guilty pleasure. It’s so bad, so 90′s, that it’s fantastic. I could quote Rose McGowan’s awful accent from that movie all day every day- and Will Arnett! Can we talk about Will Arnett in that movie?

4. My first concert experience was when I was 14/15, and my older brother convinced me to attend an all-ages Insane Clown Posse show with him at this terrible little club in my hometown on a Friday night in the middle of December. He painted my face and everything (which would later result in some pretty horrific breakouts on my delicate teenage cheeks and forehead.) The show was, as expected- an absolute nightmare of out-of-control fans and shitty rapping/shouting on a shoddy sound system- and I vividly remember getting Faygo soda sprayed in my general direction. Looking back, it’s more funny than traumatic, though- which I guess is a good thing.

5. I (thankfully) don’t have any serious allergies- be it bee stings or peanuts- but I DO tend to break out in a minor case of hives if I eat the small pretzels typically found in trail mix. I don’t know if it’s a preservative or the type of sodium used to keep them crisp or whatever- but I’ve learned the hard way on more than one occasion that I need to avoid them (thanks, pretzel M&Ms.)

6. The first album I ever bought with my own money was the CD-copy of No Doubt’s ‘Tragic Kingdom’ which remains one of my favorite and most cherished purchases of all time. I used up a good chunk of my baby-sitting money to get it. Gwen Stefani was, and will always be, a flawless queen.

7. In completely insane and not-at-all-well-thought-out facts: I once went cliff jumping/quarry diving when I was a teenager. I’m lucky I didn’t break my neck or drown in the process, but nothing will ever top the look on my friend’s face as he tried to explain to me how to properly hit the water to better avoid serious injury and me sprinting past him and just going for it while he was mid-sentence.

8. I alternate between sleeping on my side and my stomach, although regardless of how I end up dozing off- I always wake up bundled up in my blankets like a tightly wrapped burrito.

9. I’m currently addicted to the new chestnut praline latte at Starbucks. It sounds revolting, I know- but you can never judge a coffee by it’s cover. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with this one- ordering venti sized cups to get me through the mornings at work. They’re sweet, with just a hint of nut-flavor, but so, so good.

10. I’m an avid candle collector/user. At any given time, I have two or three burning around my place to give each room it’s own unique, lovely, but still carefully coordinated scent. Right now I’m finishing up a hazelnut one before I launch into the holiday fragrances (bring on “Christmas Cookie!”)

November 1st, 2014. 2:30 A.M. Times Square. Slightly inebriated.

November 1st, 2014. 2:30 A.M. Times Square. Slightly inebriated.

11. I love to walk pretty much everywhere, and really only prefer driving if I have to go any great distance to get somewhere. It’s good exercise, it helps clear the mind, and with the right music in my earbuds- I feel like I’m working a catwalk during Fashion Week.

12. I’ve had a Fourth Generation green iPod Nano that I named Kermit for the better part of six or seven years. It still works like a charm, and I’ll be sad whenever the battery inevitably burns out once and for all- but it still cracks me up whenever I take it out of my bag and see someone with a shiny new iPhone looking at it like it’s some sort of rare fossil from prehistoric times.

13. One of my long-term life goals is to release a book of my urban exploration photography and research from over the years, especially with so many of the places I’ve shot in the past set to be, if they haven’t already been, condemned and/or torn down. Even if people just used it as a coffee table book, I’d still be thrilled that my work was out there in the world- just waiting to be looked over by anyone who appreciates abandoned architecture as much as I do.

14. Back in middle school, a group of kids in my class made up and perfected a new language that completely confused the adults but was perfectly understandable among our peers who learned it. Almost twenty years later and I can still speak it fluently- and do so every once in a while with my best friend Sean- who also remembers it. Ask me to recall anything I learned in my high school Spanish classes? I’ll just stare blankly at you.

15. The last book I purchased (and will be reading shortly,) is “The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra” by Helen Rappaport. I’ve always had an unexplained fascination with the Romanov family, especially the Grand Duchesses. I recently and randomly stumbled upon the book while looking for a gift for a friend and snatched it up. I’m hoping to start it by this weekend.

16. Another long-term life goals of mine is to buy a house in Ocean Beach, San Diego- my favorite part of the city and also the most laid-back and relaxed. Everything is within walking distance of the ocean, there’s so many shops, bars, and restaurants along the boardwalk, everyone is ridiculously nice- and downtown is only a short drive away!

17. Although I love music and have a few wonderful, talented friends who actively perform in bands- I am instrumentally challenged. I can’t play anything. Not well, at least- and my musical prowess pretty much begins and ends with the tambourine. My father was an incredible drummer and both of my brothers were/are skilled guitar players- but that musical gene seems to have been lost on me.

18. My first kiss was in the second grade when this little boy in my class, Richie, asked me if I’d play his wife in a musical he was writing and wanted to perform for our entire grade. I foolishly bought into his plot, and before I knew it- he’d smooched me during “rehearsal” at recess. Richie, wherever you are- you were a sneaky little bastard.

19. Back to Boston-related facts as I wrap this list up- my favorite tourist-y attraction that I would highly recommend to anyone visiting the area for the first time is the Museum of Fine Arts. I go there sometimes, even when they don’t have an exhibit that I find particularly interesting- just to relax. It’s nice to walk through the museum and is a great way to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon. It beats walking the Freedom Trail, for sure!

20. And lastly, my favorite music venue in Boston is the Paradise Rock Club. I’ve seen so many incredible shows there. It’s small, intimate, and the sound is (usually- depending on the band) incredible. I have a lot of fond memories of nights spent at the ‘Dise!

And there you have it, 20 (some Boston-based) facts about yours truly! Now, I’m supposed to tag twenty other Bloggers- but I feel horrible putting anyone on the spot like this- so I’m tagging anyone that wants to participate! If you have twenty facts about yourself that you’re just itching to share, feel free to do so and link me to the post so I can read all about you!

Thanks again for including me, Nikki!

xx

GLOSSYBOX: October 2014 Review.

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I know it’s hard to believe that I managed to squeeze in reviewing my October GlossyBox in between all of my adventures and posts- but I pulled it off. I received the box a little earlier than usual, which was a pleasant surprise, and with three full-sized items and two deluxe-sized samples- this time covering the full beauty box spectrum of skin care, hair care, cosmetics, fragrance, and nail-related products- the overall quality of the box made it’s unexpected arrival even better.

What I Received:

Proganix Repair Reparative Oil + Anti-Breakage (*Full Size!*)

Tarte Power Pigment in ‘Flush’ (*Full Size!*)

Vince Camuto ‘Amore’ Perfume

SESHA Skin Therapy Cell-White Brightening Mask

nails inc. ‘Westminster Bridge’ Matte Top Coat (*Full Size!*)

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Product # 1: Proganix Repair Reparative Oil + Anti-Breakage ($11.99)

What on Earth did I ever do before I introduced oil into my daily hair care regimen? I cringe to think back to the days of frizzy fly-aways and unmanageable split ends. Moroccan oil, Argan oil. It works wonders and now that I’m hooked, I don’t think I’ll ever look back. I was excited to try this product, lightweight and loaded with Vitamin E, after my shower each morning before I headed to work. Not only does it smell lovely, but it makes my hair soft, sleek, shiny, and smooth. Frizz is tamed effortlessly and my curls are hydrated without looking or feeling greasy, crunchy, or weighed down the way some other products can leave my strands after use. I’ve mostly been using this oil on it’s own, but on days when I need a little more hold- I add another product like a curl cream/serum or sea salt spray, too.

Would I Purchase?: Yes! This oil worked really, really well. It conditioned and styled my hair without a messy application or leaving behind any kind of greasy, sticky, or flaky residue in my curls or on my scalp. It’s great by itself or mixed with other products. Best of all is the price. $11.99 per bottle is beyond reasonable for something that works this good and doesn’t require a ton of oil per use (a little goes a long way!)

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Product # 2: Tarte Power Pigment in ‘Flush’ ($24)

Even though I don’t use many Tarte products, I’ve always been a fan of their pigmentation and their packaging. This twist-up lipstick, antioxidant rich and in a bold reddish-pink hue, applied smoothly and kept my lips hydrated- however the longevity wasn’t up to par when compared to other Tarte lipsticks I’ve tried in the past. It didn’t take long for this product to fade and feather away off my lips. It did leave behind a stain, but the tint didn’t appear even and wasn’t able to be left alone on it’s own (and even made my lips appear slightly-chapped looking,) so multiple reapplications were needed throughout the day to keep the color in place and vivid. It was inconvenient, to say the least.

Would I Purchase?: No. While I thought the color was pretty and and flattering against my skin tone- and the formula was pleasantly moisturizing- the $24 per tube price tag isn’t justified seeing as how this product didn’t stay on nearly long enough for me to consider re-purchasing it in the future. I’m better off sticking to my Urban Decay lipsticks, which pack the same amount of pigment and hydrating benefits but last 10x longer.

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Product # 3: Vince Camuto ‘Amore’ Perfume ($78)

Firstly, how cute is this little bottle? This perfume arrived in a mini-version of the full-sized bottle, same fancy topper and all. Now, I’m unfamiliar with this particular fragrance, but it’s described on GlossyBox’s website as: “Floriental Fruity, a radiant lush floral with sparkling fruits and sensual, lasting back notes,” whatever that means. I definitely detected a lot of floral in this perfume- but hardly any fruity notes at all. It was just a strong flowery scent with maybe the faintest hint of spice. Overall, it wasn’t bad- appropriately heavy for the Fall/Winter- and it lasted all day, from morning through well into the evening.

Would I Purchase?: Yes! I really liked this perfume. It was nice, strong, and it’s staying power packed a punch. I could easily see myself purchasing a full-sized bottle in the future to get me through the colder months since this scent is more potent and not for the Spring/Summer where more light, crisp fragrances are in style.

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Product # 4: SESHA Skin Therapy Cell-White Brightening Mask ($9)

I held off on using this mask right away, opting to save it for a day when my skin was in a desperate need of a brightening pick-me-up. As it turns out, that day, and more specifically- early morning- was fairly recently after a night of five/six hours of restless sleep. My skin looked dull, drab, and dreary, and no amount of cleanser or moisturizer could save it. I tore this individually packaged mask open, hoping for a miracle before I braved my office. Before I get into the results- I have to ask- why are these things made SO big? I completely understand that not everyone has the same shaped face, but I also don’t believe I know of anyone- past or present, living or dead- that has/had such a large head that this size mask would be appropriate or convenient. This thing was enormous on me to the point where it was uncomfortable since I had to keep readjusting the slits cut open for my eyes and mouth so I could see and speak normally while it worked it’s magic. SESHA, please, just make them a little smaller. Just a little.  Just so they stay in place.

Anyway, after swimming in this thing for about 15-20 minutes, I peeled it off and gently dabbed at the excess product that hadn’t quite sank in around my jaw and hair line to find skin that looked and felt considerably brighter- and tighter! There were no reactions, no excessive drying, or the opposite- breakouts. My skin just felt refreshed and stayed bright-looking all day. I looked as though I’d almost- ALMOST- gotten enough sleep.

Would I Purchase?: Yes! Despite the unusual sizing of these masks, they really do work wonders and I’d gladly pick up more for those days I need to give my skin a little extra TLC or for when I travel and need to rejuvenate my complexion after a long flight or change in climate/temperatures. At $9 per mask, the price isn’t half-bad, either. A handful of these are enough to last for a couple of months since they’re only needed every so often and aren’t intended to be used on a daily basis.

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Product # 5: nails inc. ‘Westminster Bridge’ Matte Top Coat ($10)

I think it’s safe to say that my makeup look this Fall has been all matte- all the time. Matte eye shadow, matte lipstick, and matte finishing powder. Even without the sparkle, my complexion and makeup has looked flawless and even, dare I say it- radiant. I shouldn’t have been surprised that the trend would extend beyond the face by now. This top coat from Nails, Inc. is said to give even the shiniest of nail lacquers a velvety texture. I chose the above neutral shade from Essie, which had a regular glossy finish- and applied the top coat shortly thereafter. Within minutes, the sheen was gone and was replaced by the matte look. It was actually pretty neat to see, and it’s been a couple of days with no signs of chipping- so it does work as an excellent and protective top coat, too!

Would I Purchase?: Yes! This is a really cool alternative to use for those who want a unique matte nail look but don’t want to buy a bunch of bottles of matte colors. This top coat seals in the shade and can transform pretty much any polish in just minutes. I’m a big fan and would absolutely re-purchase this in the future when I run out of the full-sized bottle I was provided in October’s box.

With the exception of the Tarte lipstick, I was quite pleased with October’s GlossyBox. There was a good variety of products with great value, which is all I really need when it comes to beauty box subscription services. I discovered a couple of new, exciting brands I’ll definitely be checking out more within the coming months- and I’m looking forward to seeing what I receive in November!

All Hallows’ Eve.

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In the past few years, my best friend Sean and I have traveled to New York City to attend ‘Sleep No More’ and some of it’s linked parties/productions at their McKittrick Hotel no less than a dozen times- each time vastly different and unique than the last. New Years Eve, Springtime celebrations, dinners, masquerades, etc. We’ve done it all and have always enjoyed ourselves immensely. The only party we had yet to check out was their yearly Halloween celebration. Working full-time has made Halloween a tad difficult to celebrate at maximum party potential- especially with it falling during weekdays in recent years- so to be able to take this past Friday off at the office and head into NYC for the ‘INFERNO: A Celebration of Sin’ party was exciting.

The dress code was simple- all black attire or costumes that adhered to one of the seven deadly sins. I’m not 100% sure everyone in attendance followed that dress code by the book, but I, myself, made an effort with a classic little black dress from ModCloth and my Edgar Allan Poe pendant from Fable & Fury.

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Shortly after our arrival at the McKittrick, we were served an incredible dinner that included lamb, fresh salad, raisin wine, some strong punch, and an assortment of rich desserts before we were ushered into the play to collect our masks and explore. Try as we might, Sean and I did end up getting separated- again (it ALWAYS happens-) but we each got to see some new scenes we’d missed during previous visits. When we found each other again later on in one of the bigger rooms, we managed to catch the end of the show together before it was time for the post-performance party to begin.

Now, a party that boasts a “seven deadly sins” theme is bound to have a fair share of surprises- and the staff at McKittirick didn’t fail to deliver. There was plenty of alcohol (I maybe, maaaaaybe drank a little too much champagne as the evening wore on,) nudity, simulated sex, and so on. I’m fortunate enough to be desensitized by most of it at this point- but it was pretty great to see some people who were seemingly in attendance for the first time looking on in shock. At one point in the evening, a card I had been given during dinner by one of the performers gained me entry into a private auction room where I was served more champagne and some grapes by a nude gentleman who was painted gold from head to toe. The item being auctioned off was another patron who had been picked out at random, blindfolded, and presented to us (I’m fairly sure there was a similar scene in the last ‘Purge’ movie?) 

Afterwards, when I had stopped by the ladies room to freshen up my lipstick and fix my hair- a woman dressed as Amy Winehouse was performing on a karaoke machine in the corner by the sinks. You seriously just NEVER know what’s going to happen or who/what you’re going to see.

Sean and I stayed and danced around the different rooms for most of the night, eventually losing steam around 2:30 a.m. when we grabbed what would prove to be regrettable White Castle sliders en route back to our hotel, The Muse on West 46th- which was beautiful, by the way.

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Yesterday proved to be rainy and cold in the city, but Sean and I weren’t content with just staying indoors all day until it came time to catch our train back home. We bundled up, grabbed some coffee, and headed out to walk through Central Park- which wasn’t crowded at all due to the weather. We were able to actually stop and take pictures of certain landmarks without having to duck and dodge other people attempting to get the perfect photograph, too. Sure, we were more than damp and chilly by the end of our hike- but it was worth it. It felt like for the most part, we had the park to ourselves.

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When it came time to grab lunch and warm up, we ended up at the Museum of Natural History. Growing up, Sean and I were big fans of the PlayStation game “Parasite Eve,” which involved fighting off monsters in various locations around New York City. One of those levels included battling the T-Rex in the museum that had been brought back to life by out of control cells (it’s one of those things you should probably Google since I’m absolutely terrible at describing the premise of the game. It’s basically about mutated mitochondria running amok in the city. It sounds insane but it’s actually a really great game- and so was it’s follow-up!)

Anyway, I haven’t been to the museum since I was about 16, so it was pretty fun to go and re-visit all the exhibits. The T-Rex unfortunately didn’t come back to life while we were there, but we took a few shameless selfies in front of it for good measure anyway. Also, while we were in the Central America display, Sean took a photo of me, bundled up in multiple layers and with my backpack in tow, in an attempt to re-create a picture my dad had snapped of me when I was still a kid in the exact same spot. My hair is a lot longer than my teenage bob and I’m not wearing my glasses- but the pose and cheesy grin is the same!

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By the time we left the museum, it had stopped raining, which was a blessing- but it was getting late and we (reluctantly) had to head back to Boston. Despite the post-White Castle nausea and the dropping temperatures, we had a phenomenal time in New York and I’d really like to come back before the holidays makes it impossible to get around the city.

Speaking of. On Halloween, we had passed by Radio City Music Hall en route to our hotel to drop off our stuff and get changed pre-McKittrick party. It was lit up as usual- but then yesterday, on our way back to Grand Central, we happened to walk by it again only to find the Christmas trees on each corner had been set up and illuminated. Not only that- but Starbucks red cups and holiday drinks are back already!

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We are not wasting ANY time this year! I mean, sure, that’s a photo of my hand holding a peppermint mocha latte in the back of a New York City cab the day after Halloween- but I mean, come on. They’re delicious. How could I not order one?

October 2014: In a Nutshell.

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First and foremost, Happy Halloween!

I can’t believe October, the best month- MY month- is over already and in just a few hours I’ll be in New York City celebrating Halloween and kicking off November! Time flies when you’re having fun and reviewing terrible horror movies on Netflix.

“Horrors of Netflix” jokes aside, October was, of course, fantastic- spent participating in Halloween-themed activities (getting separated from my friends during a haunted corn maze in the middle of the night, for one example,) photographing eerie and beautiful locations, and screaming/cheering/screaming some more at the new season of “The Walking Dead” (it’s REALLY good so far!) I hosted my first, but certainly not my last horror-centric giveaway and collaborated with some very cool representatives from some very cool companies to review their products. All in all- I stayed busy!

Of course, with October over- November begins what I call the “year end crunch” at work, where my office starts to wrap up and organize cases for the current year while simultaneously preparing for the upcoming one, It also means the holidays are on their way- so it’s going to be very, very hectic over the next few weeks. In between work and spending time with my family, I’m going to be attempting some travel, prepping some recipe and fashion posts- and scouting out some new locations to photograph.

And with all those great plans in writing, I’m off to head into NYC and bid farewell to October and my favorite holiday in style- and maybe sneak some candy. Maybe…

… Probably.

xox

Horrors of Netflix: “The Pact”

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ThePactPosterI can’t believe October is nearly over, and with it’s conclusion, my “Horrors of Netflix” reviews wrap up for another year. I’ve had a lot of fun (mixed with a good amount of misery, of course,) watching a handful of terrible, ridiculous, poorly rated horror movies over the past few weeks- and I hope those of you who have read the reviews have enjoyed them as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them. I’ll be continuing the tradition next October, since Netflix will undoubtedly have plenty more awful films to browse.

For my final review this month, I chose a movie that was continuously recommended to me each and every time I logged onto my account: 2012′s “The Pact.” A brief synopsis, from Netflix:

Feeling obligated to return home for the funeral of the mother she despised, Annie soon senses an evil presence in her childhood home.

The movie apparently did well at Sundance that year, which doesn’t really mean anything when you consider some of the other films that have received good reviews over the years and have turned out to be absolute garbage. I’ll take this one at it’s 1 1/2 star rating.

As usual, I’ll be spoiling the hell out of this movie- so if you don’t want to know what happens (or if you just really don’t care,) then DO NOT CLICK “CONTINUE READING”

Onward!

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Return to Medfield State Hospital.

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In January of last year, on what I can only describe as one of the coldest days I think I’ve ever experienced, I made the crazy decision to go and photograph some of the beautiful buildings left behind at the former Medfield State Hospital. Since then, I’ve been up to visit a few times- but with Halloween just a few short days away, I stopped by this past weekend as the sun was setting to snap some more photos while the weather was still nice and the changing leaves- many of which have fallen from the trees- gave the scenery a little more color.

During my last photo session there, I had been the only one on the grounds- but this time there were quite a few people wandering about. Some were walking their dogs, others showing their small children around- and still others were taking pictures like I was- which made the afternoon and evening a little less eerie since I wasn’t all by myself in the ruins of what used to be a rather depressing place.

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What I liked best about this trip to the area, however, was that without the snow blanketing the grounds- I was able to see a lot more than I’d previously found during my last trek there to take photos- including old signs, discarded shelving, an overgrown recreational area, etc. It was pretty neat. I took nearly 100 photos, the ones I’m sharing here just being some of the best in the bunch- in my opinion- but this one:

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- That’s my favorite shot.

xox

Game On!

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It wasn’t exactly a banner season for the Boston Red Sox this year, which was a hard pill to swallow given last year’s triumphant World Series win. Even still, I remain optimistic for 2015- and am prepared to root on the team I’ve come to love so much next Spring.

Of course, I always try to stay fashionable- even if I’m just enjoying a game and having a couple of beers at Fenway Park with friends- and inspired- I created a look based around one of the countless MLB hats available on Fanatics.com to showcase what I’d wear/bring for that very occasion.

For those of you who have never visited Fanatics.com, they are the ultimate go-to source for any and all officially licensed sports apparel. From the MLB, NHL, NFL, NBA, etc; they have you covered for affordable, high-quality merchandise should you need to look on point for a big game or simply want to add to your collection of sports memorabilia.

For my collection, I stayed in the Autumn frame of mind, since I’ve enjoyed a couple of games in recent years during the chillier months (and because it’s hard to think Spring/Summer style when I’m currently wearing a sweater and drinking hot tea.) I chose the Boston Red Sox New Era Cuff Striper Beanie, because it’d keep my head warm once the sun sets in Boston (and hide my brunette roots should I not have time to touch them up before the first pitch.)

Here’s what I’d pair with it:

  • Boston Red Sox Women’s Cooperstown Fan T-Shirt by Nike: I love the simple design of this comfortable shirt that I can wear, with pride, inside and outside Fenway. Best of all are it’s sleeves- which can provide a little bit of warmth to my upper arms should I choose to shed whatever sweater/hoodie I bring with me to the game.
  • Urban Decay’s Revolution Lipstick in the shade “F-Bomb:” If I’m going to the ball park, then I am participating in all the unhealthy, regrettable junk food eating I can. Hot dogs? Popcorn? Overpriced beer? I’m all about it. The thing is, I want a lip color that can outlast all of that pigging out. Enter my favorite formulated Urban Decay lipstick in a bold shade of red to match the Sox logo and compliment my hat.
  • GUM. After all that chowing down on the aforementioned hot dogs, popcorn, and overpriced beer- I still want to have fresh breath while I’m cheering and/or jeering. A pack of gum is always in my purse- but I have to be discreet when opening it or everyone else seated around me is going to want some.
  • My ‘Boston’ charm bracelet from Alex and Ani: I’ve started a growing collection of Alex and Ani bracelets, and whenever I’m headed to a game or out of town- my Boston charm comes with me. It’s like having a piece of home with an etching of the city’s skyline resting comfortably around my wrist- and maybe I’m just superstitious- but it feels lucky to wear on game days (although it didn’t work out too well this season.)
  • A wristlet. I’m not a fan of carrying around a big bag at sporting events. I try to keep it simple- something small that I can carry my money, I.D., CharlieCard, lipstick, and phone in and hold onto with ease without fear of losing it or it’s contents in the excitement. Wristlets, any color, pattern, or style- are my must-have for a Sox game.

Not pictured are a comfortable pair of skinny jeans and my favorite pair of black boots or Converse high top sneakers- which I wear all the time on casual days/evenings out.

Do you have any game day style must-haves or go-to’s? Or any pre-game rituals? I’d love to hear them!