Notes from SDCC: Day 4.

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I am LOVING these 'Game of Thrones' pedicabs!

I am LOVING these ‘Game of Thrones’ pedicabs!

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It's blurry, mainly because I was fangirling SO HARD.

It’s blurry, mainly because I was fangirling SO HARD.

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I’m taking a break from packing up my suitcase for my return flight to recap the fourth and final day of San Diego Comic-Con. That’s right- the long weekend of costumes, panels, surprise guests, and very long lines- has come to a close!

I spent the first half of yesterday in the exhibitors hall, purchasing gifts for some of my family and friends back home and snapping photos of the amazing cosplays and props on display- before bringing my loot back to my hotel room and returning to the convention in my Daryl Dixon costume again (it just didn’t feel right to end the weekend not dressed up!)

So what can I say about the overall experience of SDCC? Well for starters, I had an incredible time. As crazy and as hectic as it was at certain moments- I’m so happy and so grateful I had the opportunity to come to this beautiful city I love so dearly and see and experience as much as I did. I met wonderful, talented, fun, and creative people from all over- some of whom I’ve since traded contact information with and hope to see again and possibly collaborate with at future conventions.

I got to participate in awesome panels and see exclusive snippets and sneak peeks of upcoming projects in movies, television, and video games. I’m so psyched for the movie “Air,” and for Marvel’s “Agent Carter,” just to name a few. I’m still reeling from the fact that I was sitting mere feet away from Robert Kirkman himself. It all feels so surreal!

I also got some really awesome merchandise- some of it limited edition- that I can’t wait to display and wear proudly once I’m back on the East Coast. But I’ll get to that in a bit…

Would I come back for a second round of San Diego Comic-Con next year? Absolutely- and I hope I get the chance to do so when the time for pre-registration comes around. I definitely learned some tips and tricks for 2015 if I am fortunate enough to score weekend badges again, and I think they’d be beneficial to anyone looking to attempt SDCC:

1. Carefully plan what panels you want to see, and then prioritize them from there based on what you absolutely must be in attendance for and what can be skipped and watched in a designated “replay room” later on. There’s a good chance you may have to sacrifice seeing one or two panels over the course of the weekend since many of them run so close together and the rooms may not be located close to one another for convenient access. You also have to take into consideration that many panels have lines- long ones- so you’ve got to be prepared to do some waiting and miss out on some things from time to time to see the stuff you REALLY want to be present for..

2. Be sure to eat. Since lines at SDCC aren’t just limited to panels and merchandise booths (ask any of us who wanted to get Starbucks throughout the days in the convention center,) I highly recommend eating before you arrive- not only to save yourself from yet more waiting around, but to avoid being so hungry/thirsty that you end up losing your place in line to run and get something to snack on. I made the mistake of not eating much before I showed up for the first couple of days of the convention- and by the time the afternoon rolled around- I was feeling woozy. Bring a snack with you to hold you over until you leave to get a real meal. Security is pretty lenient when it comes to food and beverages.

3. Unless you plan on camping outside Hall H at all hours of the night to get into one of the bigger, more popular panels (“The Walking Dead,” “Game of Thrones,” and Marvel, for example-) check out the designated replay rooms I mentioned earlier. Some of the nearby hotels offer screenings of re-plays following the biggest panels for those who couldn’t make it into Hall H. It’s less crowded and there are no sleeping bags required.

4. Explore your surroundings! I had mentioned when I first arrived here that SO many places in downtown San Diego get into the Comic-Con spirit and have special events, parties, and promotions. If you want a break from walking the convention center- do some digging and head to the Gaslamp District! You’ll never know what or who you’ll see. Plus, you may even score some cool stuff!

5. It’s crowded. Just remember to breathe. There are times, especially in the exhibitors hall- where it is wall to wall people and moving more than a few inches at a time feels like a daunting, maybe even impossible task- as people stop to snap pics, pose, stare at merchandise, or try to find the end of a line. If you get claustrophobic- just try to breathe and relax. You won’t be trapped in that same spot for the rest of eternity. I promise.

And with all that being said- let me show you the stuff I got! Not pictured are the gifts for my friends and family- since those are already carefully packed away. This stuff is alllllllllll mine.

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First up, from the Archie booth- I snagged a copy of “Afterlife with Archie” and “The Best of Betty and Veronica.” Afterlife, which briefly features my girl Cheryl Blossom, is a little dark and twisted- which is right up my alley- and the B&V book is a shot of nostalgia that I’ll probably be reading on the plane in a few hours.

Funko POP! Figurines hold a special place in my heart and around my place, mostly because of how friggin’ adorable they are- so when I saw this Alcide figurine from “True Blood,” complete with abs- I had to buy it. I mean, really- look at it:

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Way too adorable.

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From Skybound Entertainment, I snagged this adult-sized version of the wolf paw print t-shirt worn by Carl Grimes in “The Walking Dead.” I figure all I need is the oversized sheriff’s hat and I’m good to go.

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From Her Universe, the makers of my Captain America cardigan I love so very much- I picked up this Black Widow jacket to wear in the Fall. It fits perfectly and is so, so comfortable and cozy. Plus- I feel like a bad ass in it.

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And lastly, from Marvel- I couldn’t leave without getting some Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes love. This hoodie is MASSIVE on me- but I don’t even care. It looks cool and it’s really, really soft and warm. As much as I dislike the cold weather- I’m rather looking forward to wearing this out and about when the temperatures begin to drop.

And that’s everything! Getting it all into my suitcase has been surprisingly easy- although closing my suitcase and zipping it shut might be a whole other story- one best reserved for tomorrow morning after I’ve had a good night’s sleep under my belt.

So long, San Diego! See you all back on the East Coast!

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Notes from SDCC: Days 2 and 3.

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I can’t believe that another two days at San Diego Comic-Con have passed already! Be it the frenzy on the exhibit floor or the mad rush to get to panels- but it feels like it’s gone by so fast. I’m exhausted- definitely having a blast, no question- but exhausted just the same! As I’m writing this from my hotel room, I’ve got my feet up and am attempting to decompress from the whirlwind of the past couple of days before I try to get some sleep and prepare for the final day of SDCC.

Friday, the second day of the convention, saw me break out my Daryl Dixon cosplay- complete with (an unloaded) crossbow, tattered jeans, his signature angel wing vest, and a good amount of fake blood to give me that nice, dirty, post-apocalyptic bad ass look. I just FELT cooler when I had it all on, and some fellow TWD fans at the convention center really seemed to appreciate the effort, too- which was super exciting and made it all worth it.

Although I would have loved to have made it into the actual “Walking Dead” panel that morning, there was no way I was willing to camp outside Hall H at 3 a.m., and therefore I had to catch the replay at a nearby hotel following it’s recording. I did see the season five trailer, however- and once again- October can’t get here fast enough.

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Despite Hall H being filled to capacity pretty much 99.9% of the time, I did manage to catch some less cut-throat panels in Ballroom 20 that I had been really excited for on Friday. The first, a panel by Entertainment Weekly called “Brave New Warriors,” featured actors Jon Bernthal, Tom Mison, Theo Rossi, Freddie Highmore, and Brenton Thwaites. It was ridiculously funny (Tom Mison especially!) and was followed up by Marvel’s Television panel- which offered some information about the highly-anticipated second season of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and a glimpse into their upcoming new series- which I CANNOT WAIT to see- “Agent Carter.”

I had seen the star of “Agent Carter,” Hayley Atwell, at the Marvel booth earlier that afternoon- and she’s so, so stunning.

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After the convention on Friday, I washed the fake blood off of myself and changed into something a little more appropriate to go see a comedy show/live episode of Comedy Central’s “@midnight” with Chris Hardwick at the Balboa Theatre. Although I’ve walked by the theater no less than a hundred thousand times during my stays in the city- I’d never actually been inside of it ’til I saw the show. It’s a beautiful building.

And @midnight? Hilarious, as usual. I had tears running down my face from laughing so hard- and the live tweet-a-thon that was projected on a screen in front of the crowd prior to the show was a nice touch. #butts

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Yesterday, the third day of San Diego Comic-Con, was also the day I wore the last of my three cosplay costumes. Probably the most intricate, difficult bodysuit to put together, what with all the leaves and hot glue gun burns it took to get it just right- I’m quite pleased with my Poison Ivy costume. Not pictured, since I couldn’t take photos/text/function with them on, were the leaf-covered gloves I carried with me around the convention center for photos:

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Just to give you all an idea of the amount of leaves this took!

I have to say, as someone who has never cosplayed before-  I really, truly enjoyed it- and I don’t think I did half-bad for a first-timer! I felt confident enough in each costume- and the responses I got from other attendees and staff was overwhelmingly positive! I’ll definitely be wearing these costumes again for future conventions- and have already started thinking of ways to improve them and am coming up with new ideas, as well.

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Yesterday was another morning through afternoon of posing and panels. There was one in particular I really wanted to see, as did a lot of other people- and to ensure I got a space- I took a lesson from Hall H and showed up a few hours early. It worked in my favor, though- not only because I got in and found myself a good seat- but because before my panel began, I got to see James Spader’s Q&A regarding the show “The Blacklist,” which I’ve heard good things about but have never seen. Everyone in the crowd was also given one of these fedoras, in the style worn by James Spader’s character, Reddington.

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So, what was the panel I had so patiently waited to see? Why, Robert Kirkman’s Skybound Entertainment panel, of course! Robert Kirkman is a wonderful, yet evil mastermind- who has both improved/destroyed my life with his “Walking Dead” franchise, so it was such a treat to be able to be in the same room with him and David Alpert and listen to them discuss updates in other aspects of TWD world (i.e.- Telltale’s “Walking Dead” video game,) rather than just being limited to discussing the show.

Norman Reedus, forever my mancrush and still such a lovely human being- was also in attendance to discuss his upcoming movie with Skybound, entitled “Air.” We were shown a trailer- and it looks really, really intense. I’m excited to see it.

The panel was one of my favorites, and not just because of the content discussed or because Norman Reedus is very attractive- but because it was funny, moderated fantastically, and the questions some excited fans asked were a lot of fun to hear.

I had wanted to stick around the convention center for the “American Horror Story: Coven” panel shortly thereafter- but the line was insanely long and I needed to get my uncomfortable boots off. I begrudgingly made my way back to my hotel, which actually provided an unexpected surprise: I saw Orlando Bloom just hanging out.

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Wild!

Today is the last day of San Diego Comic-Con, and my full report and summary will be updated after that. Most of the panels are more family and children-oriented today, which means I’ll be roaming the convention center one final time (and not in costume) to snap photos of any exhibits or cosplays I didn’t get the chance to photograph over the past few days.

I can’t believe it’s almost over!

Notes from SDCC: Preview Night and Day 1.

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I have arrived! I’m here! And it feels like I hit the ground running the moment my plane landed this past Tuesday afternoon. Yes, I’ve reached the bustling center of all things fandom-related and I am right smack in the middle of San Diego Comic-Con! With three days left of the convention, I thought I’d use some of my downtime to unwind and recap my very first day (and night!) of SDCC before I dive head-first into what is shaping up to be a really busy second day.

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As stated previously in this post, I arrived in San Diego late Tuesday afternoon. My hotel, the same one I typically stay at whenever I’m in town, is right off the Gaslamp District- which in turn is literally minutes away from the convention center. As I approached my hotel via cab from the airport, it was clear to see that Comic-Con wasn’t just limited to the convention center- but had extended well into downtown San Diego, as well. So many of the buildings were decorated- some elaborately- to advertise shows, games, and movies that were being predominantly featured at the con. Come to find out, many local bars and restaurants in the Gaslamp District were and are having their own special promotions, contests, and previews for convention attendees and locals alike.

My hotel is also located right across the street from Petco Park, which just held a Nerdist-sponsored laser tag tournament and will be transformed into “The Walking Dead: Escape” today through Saturday. Literally EVERYWHERE is celebrating SDCC!

Wednesday, having most of the morning and afternoon freed up until the doors opened for attendees with consolidated admission (like mine,) to pick up their badges- I managed to have a lovely lunch and car ride around town with my good friend Duncan, who I haven’t seen since the last time I was in town in September 2013. I love him!

When it did eventually come time to pick up my badge, I was also provided with a detailed, elaborate guide to all events, panels, guests, artists, locations, times, etc. to the convention- a souvenir book- and a durable and oversized backpack to carry my stuff in. Since it clashes with my costumes, I’ve opted to use it to store my belongings I picked up at the convention for the flight home, instead.

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Batsuit nipples!

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With my consolidated weekend pass, I also had access to Wednesday night’s preview night- where I spent the majority of the evening within the exhibit hall- checking out different vendors and artists- and getting a head start on what I can only assume will be a bit of a weekend shopping spree (my collective haul will be shared in a later post!) While there were some panels going on, I think it was best for me to get my bearings in the exhibit room- which was packed in a matter of minutes- to sort of get used to the crowds and figure out where everything was. I also saw the first of many amazing cosplays!

My favorite part of the hall, however, had to be the re-creation of the tunnel leading to a replica of the Terminus shrine (and of course, it featured some very convincing walkers!) to promote the upcoming fifth season of “The Walking Dead.” It was so well done and so detailed!

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Now, with this being my first ever San Diego Comic-Con experience, I thought I’d make it a weekend of firsts and try my hand at cosplaying- a hobby I often enjoyed watching others participate in but had been too indecisive, and frankly- shy- to try myself.

With yesterday being the first official day of the convention- I decided to start slow, breaking in my Cheryl Blossom costume. Surprisingly enough- I got some love (especially from the folks at the Archie Comics booth!) and even had a few people stop me to take a photo with/of me- proving once again that the “Archie” series is still classic and that Cheryl is an awesome, recognizable, underrated character.

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This was made entirely out of Lego blocks!

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Pam & Cheryl/Carol/Charlene!

Pam & Cheryl/Carol/Charlene!

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Again, being new to the SDCC scene- I took it slow yesterday, mapping out locations and even managing to catch a couple of panels from Riot Games and Blizzard Entertainment before I stepped out to have a couple of beers with a friend.

Today I’ll be going into Daryl Dixon mode- and I can’t wait to snap a few photos once the costume is on and ready. I worked so hard on everything I brought with me to wear and display, and it feels so awesome to finally be able to do it! Also, now that I (sort of) have my bearings- I’m planning on making an attempt to catch a few panels I know for sure I don’t want to miss. There’s already a lot of people camped outside the coveted Hall H to establish their positions within the room- but we’ll see how it goes!

Stay tuned for more updates!

Prepare for Takeoff…

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Well, it’s finally here. The costumes are packed. The props are prepped. My suitcase is by the door, and all I have to do is throw in my toothbrush in the morning before I dash out to the airport- and from there I will be en route to my week-long vacation- and San Diego Comic-Con! I’m excited, and giddy, and nervous all at once. Despite the fact that I fly fairly frequently- I still get a little jittery prior to takeoff. Luckily, I’m flying with Virgin America (for the very first time!) and I hear they’re a lot of fun. It also helps that I’m fully prepared for my flight and have my carry-on ready to go.

There was a time, in the not too distant past, where I would be the woman in line at the airport at 6:30 a.m. waiting for my turn to step through the security checkpoint in my six inch heels, a full face of makeup, and carrying a bag that was so weighed down with stuff I didn’t even need to bring on board that by the time we took off- my shoulder was throbbing from holding it up for so long.

I always wanted to step off the plane looking like I’d just come off a runway at Fashion Week- but I consistently never took into consideration how the high altitudes, cabin pressure, what I ate/drank on the plane, or simply falling asleep and unconsciously touching my fully dolled-up face while I snoozed would affect my skin, my hair, and my overall feeling of comfort and wellness. My flight would touchdown in whatever location I was headed to- and I would start towards the baggage claim- typically looking disheveled, sleepy, and feeling very hungry and/or dehydrated.

Thankfully, over time I’ve tweaked and developed a pre-flight and “carry-on” system that works well for me. My bag is lighter, I’m more comfortable during the flight, and when I get off the plane- I don’t feel like a frazzled, exhausted, cranky mess.

For starters, I dress a little more casual. Don’t get me wrong- wear what you like and what you feel good in, and if you can rock stiletto heels at the airport and you feel fierce as hell doing it- I say all the more power to you. But for me? I opt for sneakers or flats, looser fitting denim or yoga pants, and cotton t-shirts that are just a couple of sizes too big on me so they aren’t clinging to me for hours. This is especially helpful if I nod off during the flight. I can sleep in peace.

Since I typically fly in the morning, I eat a big breakfast before I leave my place. This prevents me from grabbing something unhealthy (and usually overpriced,) while I wait at my gate. If I have a coffee, I make sure it’s well before I reach the airport so I can get my caffeine kick without amplifying the cabin pressure induced skin dryness as the plane ascends.

I keep my makeup simple: BB creams or tinted moisturizers- products that will give me a little coverage, maybe even a subtle glow, and ample hydration without making me feel oily or look shiny. A little mascara. A little lip balm- and I’m feeling fresh-faced enough to fly.

Of course, I do bring a few touch-up items in my carry-on, which is what this whole post was initially about- what’s in my carry-on?

The Necessities:

My wallet, of course. I double check no less than ten times to make sure I have my license, my debit card, my cash, and yes- my Starbucks card.

My phone. I don’t usually keep my phone on, or even in airplane mode during a flight- but when I have a layover- it’s nice to have on me so I can send desperate texts of airport boredom to friends.

My camera. I’m not a shutterbug on the plane by any means, but I rarely leave home without it and I always like to have it close by in case there’s something worth documenting.

In-Flight Entertainment:

I’ve had my little green iPod for six years, I believe. It’s been with me wherever I’ve go, be it on a plane, on a train, in my car, or when I go for a walk. I like to load it up with new albums and podcasts prior to traveling to ensure I have hours worth of material to listen to.

Books & magazines [ not pictured. ] Although I don’t like spending money at airports, if my airline doesn’t offer a movie or some form of distraction- I’ll usually pick up a couple of magazines or an interesting looking book at the gift shop prior to boarding to pass the time if and when my iPod battery eventually dies out on me.

Nourishment:

So even though there’s a water bottle in the photo, TSA guidelines prohibit people from bringing drinks or other large amounts of liquids from outside the airport through security, but once you’ve passed the checkpoint- you can stock up prior to taking off. I used to sip a Venti coffee during flights, but I noticed my skin felt extremely dry by the time I landed. Now, I grab 1-2 large water bottles and drink those during my flight, instead, to keep myself hydrated and refreshed.

When it comes to snacking, airline peanuts are all well and good- but I prefer something that will hold me over so I don’t go craving-crazy once I land. Granola bars or dried fruit always seem to find their way into my carry-on bag.

I can’t fly without having chewing gum- not only because I like having minty fresh breath at all times, but because the chewing sensation keeps my ears from popping in high altitudes.

Fashionable:

It doesn’t matter if you’re flying to/over/through the tropics- airplanes are cold. As someone who is completely opposed to frigid temperatures, I always bring a cardigan or a light jacket with me when I fly. I’m currently loving my Captain America cardigan, courtesy of the fine folks over at HER UNIVERSE. This one is making the journey to San Diego with me- especially for Comic-Con!

I never leave home without my sunglasses, and my sunglasses never seem to come in handy more than they do when I’m trying to catch a nap during travel. These cat-eye shades are perfect for when I want to rest my eyes and don’t want the sun to disturb me while I’m up in the air.

Beauty Touch-Ups:

When it’s approaching time to land, I usually bust out a light brown/taupe eyeliner and highlighter pencil to quickly give my eyes a little pop of color and/or a much needed “pick me up” (especially if there’s been turbulence- in which case my mascara will almost certainly end up running down my cheeks and I’ll need to fix my face- and fast.)

I also bring a moisturizing lip balm with me to keep the cabin pressure from drying out and cracking my pout. For tomorrow’s flight, I’ll be accompanied by this pink Pixi balm- which I reviewed in my most recent Ipsy Bag post!

Dryness is a reoccurring theme when I talk about flying- and it doesn’t just affect my face or my lips. My hands and elbows can also get a little patchy after a lot of time up in the sky- so I always pack a small, TSA-approved tube of lotion or tin of balm to occasionally apply to problem areas so my skin is moisturized and glowing when I land.

All of these products are lightweight, will fit comfortably in my bag, and won’t weigh me down when I’m making my way through security, to my gate, onto the plane, and then to the baggage claim after I land. I’ll be able to rest easy and enjoy my flight knowing I have the essentials and some helpful products with me (and that everything else is stored safely in my luggage!)

And that’s what will be in my carry-on tomorrow morning! I’m planning on updating from California as Comic-Con gets underway, and will most certainly be sharing my completed costumes on here. I’ll also be frequently updating my Instagram (HERE) and Twitter account (HERE) during my trip!

See you all on the West Coast!

xx

Ipsy Bag: July 2014 Review.

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July2014IpsyBag1 I was worried my July Ipsy bag would arrive while I was away in California, leaving me to scramble upon my return to dive into the five samples I’d been anticipating and was eager to try. Luckily, it came in last week- giving me ample time to properly use and review everything. July’s bag, themed “Sensationally Sunkissed,” arrived in a Barbie pink waterproof pouch- perfect to store smaller necessities to bring along to the beach or the pool! What I Received:

bareMinerals 5-in-1 BB Advanced Performance Cream Eyeshadow Broad Spectrum SPF 15 in “Barely Nude”

Pixi Beauty Mini Tinted Brilliance Balm in “Unique Pink”

Pur~lisse Pur~protect Essential Daily Moisturizer SPF 30

Models Own Nail Polish in “Red Sea” (*Full Size!*)

Clear Clinic Laboratories Vanished Clear Spot Treatment

July2014IpsyBag2 July2014IpsyBag3 Product # 1: bareMinerals 5-in-1 BB Advanced Performance Cream Eyeshadow Broad Spectrum SPF 15 in “Barely Nude” ($18)

Apart from the ridiculously long name of this product, all of it’s benefits- including SPF protection, the ability to brighten my eye area, and stay put for 12 hours, among others- intrigued me. I’m currently using a liquid bareMinerals foundation for the Summer that I’m absolutely head over heels in love with, and thought this tiny vile of cream shadow would be a nice way to figure out as to whether or not I wanted to branch out into some of their other cosmetics, too.

First things first- the color of this shadow was nearly identical to the natural shade of my lids, making it hard to determine longevity or changes in “brightness” around my eye. My lids didn’t look much different than they had prior to application. I suppose if I was going for a natural, “no makeup” look, then this would be a nice product to use since it’s lightweight, easy to apply, and dries quickly- but personally I like to have a subtle hint of color. I will say, the texture did feel nice- not heavy or uncomfortable, even hours after I’d first put it on- but I wasn’t necessarily “wow’d” by this product.

Would I Purchase? Maybe. I think I’d like to try this product in a different, more noticeable shade where I would be able to better determine whether or not it stands up to it’s multiple beneficial claims and it’s $18 price tag. The color “Barely Nude” just fell sort of flat for me, and the main reason being that it didn’t show up on me at all.

July2014IpsyBag4 July2014IpsyBag5 Product # 2: Pixi Beauty Mini Tinted Brilliance Balm in “Unique Pink” ($14)

Where the bareMinerals cream eye shadow had left me a little disappointed, I was pleasantly surprised with this Pixi balm- which admittedly didn’t look too impressive in it’s twist-up tube at first glance. The color, appearing not even pigmented enough to show up on my lips- actually changed after a few glides, transforming from a barely there baby peach-pink into a nice pop of hot pink without being too overpowering or washing me out. It was subtle, but not so much that it looked like I was wearing just everyday, run-of-the-mill chapstick or clear balm/gloss.

Of course, the hydrating benefits of this balm are worth raving about, too. My lips felt so soft and smooth (not sticky or tacky!) after applying this product, and stayed that way for a long time- even after the color had faded away. If you’re looking for a lightweight, mess-free, subtlety colored lip balm to get you through the remainder of the Summer- then this is it.

Would I Purchase?: Yes! Between the fun color-changing aspect, the softening, smoothing effects this had on my lips, and even it’s cute container with an easy twist-up bottom- this was a hit for me. I’d definitely purchase a full-sized tube of “Unique Pink” in the future, but I’d also love to try other shades, as well!

July2014IpsyBag6 Product # 3: Pur~lisse Pur~protect Essential Daily Moisturizer SPF 30 ($55)

In my current everyday skincare regimen, I use Clinique’s “Super Defense” moisturizer in the morning for it’s impressive SPF protection and to combat damaging free radicals and pollution I encounter throughout my day. I love the results, especially because it keeps my skin hydrated for hours on end- but sometimes it can feel a little heavy, like I’m applying a nighttime repairing moisturizer instead of a protective daytime one.

I’ve heard a lot of good things about Pur~lisse products, but haven’t had the chance to try them (their semi-steep price tags haven’t helped matters, either,) so I was excited to finally get a chance to get my hands on a sample size of their moisturizing sunscreen to see if I preferred it to my “Super Defense,” especially in these hotter, more humid months when the last thing I want is to feel like I’m wearing a mask.

It didn’t take long for me to become completely smitten with it. The texture of the cream is so wonderfully light compared to “Super Defense,” and it makes my skin feel just as nice- maybe even better. Not only that, but I’ve noticed that even after a few days of using this- my face seems to have a natural, healthy glow to it (NOT shiny!)

Would I Purchase?: Yes! I would absolutely splurge on a full-sized bottle of this. It’s creamy, it’s hydrating, it’s loaded with good, skin-saving ingredients, and it doesn’t feel heavy on my face at all. It also didn’t interfere with my makeup application or make it look caked or creased. I think I’d switch over to this product for the Summertime, and save the “Super Defense” for the colder, harsher months. Also? It smells lovely- like an unusual but still pleasant mix of sunscreen and flowers- if that makes sense. I just really enjoyed it.

July2014IpsyBag7 July2014IpsyBag8 Product # 4: Models Own Nail Polish in “Red Sea” (£5.00)

When it comes to nail polishes/lacquers, it’s really, really hard to go wrong for me. My weekly manicure is something I look forward to after a long week at the office, and I love experimenting with unconventional, sometimes daring colors on my digits. This full-sized bottle of coral/red polish from Models Own was the first product I grabbed when I opened my Ipsy bag- although I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it, since it’s consistency seemed a little gelatinous. I figured it’d make an interesting top coat, but opted to wear it on it’s own, first- just to get an idea of the color by itself.

Sure enough, this polish was a pain to apply- requiring three, more than gloopy coats to get a somewhat even texture on my nail. The glitter chunks stuck up, giving my tips a thick, rough feeling after the polish dried. The only good thing about this product was that the color was true to how it appeared in the bottle. If it hadn’t been so heavy and tacky- it would have dried to a nice, smooth coral finish.

Would I Purchase?: No. This nail polish was a hassle, and I wouldn’t even bother using it as a top coat to another, smoother polish, either- considering how unfortunate the finish was. I was disappointed with this product, and am in no hurry to try anything similar to it.

July2014IpsyBag9 Product # 5: Clear Clinic Laboratories Vanished Clear Spot Treatment ($35)

Despite my best efforts at maintaining a clear complexion, I am sometimes prone to the occasional blemish or breakout. It sucks, but it happens- and thankfully I’m handy enough with a makeup brush or a cotton swap to be able to cover up most pesky and unwelcome pimples.

I’m always open to trying new products, as most of you can probably guess by now- so when I saw this small vile of spot treatment in July’s Ipsy bag, I was quick to apply it to a couple of pre-PMS flareup areas I had around my chin and cheeks. The clear formula tingled- but didn’t burn- and thankfully didn’t dry out my skin or cause irritation despite containing menthol, glycolic and salicylic acids. The redness around the problem areas did seem to calm down shortly after application, but it didn’t rid me of the breakouts completely. Even still- I was grateful they were less noticeable and therefore easier to cover until they gradually disappeared on their own (see: after I scrubbed the living hell out of my skin in the shower.)

Would I Purchase?: Maybe. This is a handy product to have around when unexpected pimples strike, since it seems to reduce redness and irritation- but don’t count on it being a miracle “zit-zapper.” In my case, it didn’t get rid of the blemishes entirely, so I still had to carefully maneuver my makeup brushes/sponges to cover them- but it made it a lot easier. I think the one thing keeping me from committing and buying a full-sized tube is the $35 price tag.

Out of the five products I received in July’s Ipsy bag- two I loved, two I’m still on the fence about, and one I didn’t like at all. This month’s bag wasn’t a home run the way other, recently received bags have been, but it wasn’t terrible! Now to bring on July’s GlossyBox…

Loot Crate: July 2014.

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One of my favorite things about Loot Crate are the themes. Instead of just throwing together an assortment of random items, clothing, or collectibles with no rhyme or reason- LC carefully curates each month’s box around the given theme, be it movies, cartoons, a new video game release, etc. I may not always be “into” every single item I receive (looking at you, MineCraft stuff!) but gifting them to friends is fun, and overall I enjoy opening each month’s Loot Crate very much. It has quickly become one of my favorite subscription boxes.

When I heard that July’s theme was “Villains,” I knew I was in for a treat. Ever a fan of the bad guys in movies, games, and comic books- and having whispered “Hail Hydra” in friends’ ears on more than one occasion- I couldn’t wait to receive mine. Sure enough, Loot Crate didn’t disappoint- and made July’s crate hands down one of my all-time favorites so far.

First and foremost, can we just appreciate how great the Joker-ized interior of the box is? Very, very clever.

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But the fun didn’t end there!

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With my monthly collector’s pin and magazine, which included the usual games and puzzles, featured an interview with Marvel artist Skottie Young, and a breakdown of the five top video game villains (I’m glad my boy Albert Wesker made the list!) I also received this 3×3 Bowser magnet, which is currently holding my San Diego Comic-Con itinerary in place on my refrigerator until I depart on Tuesday morning.

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I was beyond giddy when I saw this awesome Darth Vader key chain in July’s crate. I had mentioned in a past entry that I have a habit of collecting key chains from different places/events I go, and am constantly rotating them in and out of my everyday set of keys. I’ve already attached this one to my main key ring- and I have a feeling it’s going to stay there for a while.

I’m going to be popping in this DVD at some point within the next couple of days (possibly on my flight to California) as the content promises to be interesting. Narrated by Christopher Lee, this documentary delves into the history and creation of the villains in the DC Comic Universe. I’m hoping my favorite, Poison Ivy, makes an appearance.

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Okay, so I am so. so. SO. excited for the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie that it’s not even funny. The entire premise is just so campy and fun. A walking, talking, giant tree man? A crude raccoon that can shoot a machine gun? Michael Rooker in blue body paint? I’m in. I’m so in. This perfectly packaged copy of Rocket Raccoon #1, with art by the aforementioned Skottie Young, will be read in no time at all.

And what better way to relax and read some comic books than to throw my feet up while wearing these socks featuring the likeness of one of my favorite anti-heroes? I love Deadpool, and I’m glad the character made an appearance in this month’s Loot Crate. My feet are going to look so cool.

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My love of Poison Ivy is only matched by my love of her BFF, Harley Quinn. With Harley comes the Joker, and together- the two make one of the most interesting, diabolical, insane(ly fun) pairs in comic book history. These posters are beautifully (and kind of creepily in the best way possible) illustrated, and are the perfect size where I’m sure I can find a spot to display them proudly.

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Lastly, I am loving this Joker/Loki mash-up shirt designed by Zack Finfrock exclusively for Loot Crate. The fabric is soft and the shirt fits nice and loose on me, making this my new go-to when I’m out running errands and want to be comfortable (but still appear dastardly.)

I cannot say enough good things about July’s Loot Crate. It was a blast to open, I loved everything I received- and the features in the enclosed magazine were a lot of fun. I wish every month could have a “Villains” theme, but even though I know that’s not likely- I would like to see it make an appearance again at some point in the future!

Summer Hair Care.

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When it comes to my hair, I typically get asked one of two questions when I meet people for the first time:

1. Are my curls natural? (Yes- and I still have no idea where they came from since nearly everyone in my family has had pin straight to lightly/barely wavy hair.)

2. Is red my natural color? (Nope! I’m a brunette by birth!)

Once those are out of the way, I am then usually asked one of two follow-up questions:

1. How do I keep my curls looking hydrated, healthy, and bouncy?

or 2. How do I keep my very bright, very vibrant reds from fading- especially in the Summertime sun?

The truth is, it’s not easy. Curly hair is typically dryer than straighter hair (which leads to a LOT of frizz and flyaways,) and red is the hardest hue to maintain- often fading to a rusty orange or even a dull pink-ish if not kept up with religiously or taken care of/styled with the appropriate, color-safe products. Red hair is a commitment- both physically and financially- and one I’ve stayed true to for quite a few years now.

During the 4-5 years I’ve been a Faux-Ginger, I’ve definitely learned a thing or two. I’ve learned to always find the time to schedule monthly root touch-ups (the unintentional ombre that occurs when my natural hair color grows in for an extended period of time is not a good look on me,) and I’ve learned how to efficiently clean up the shower and my towels after the first proper shampooing following the aforementioned monthly root touch-ups to avoid my bathroom looking like a bloody crime scene.

Most importantly, I’ve learned that keeping my curls and hair color safe- especially in the hotter, more humid months- does NOT have to break the bank or take up a ton of counter space with an overwhelming amount of products. I’ve pinned down an efficient and simple Summer hair care system with just four core products- all of which are inexpensive and all of which can go hand-in-hand with your favorite styling products without weighing your hair down or making it feel or look sticky/greasy.

Here’s what I use:

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TO CLEAN:

John Frieda’s “Radiant Red” Colour Protecting Shampoo  ($4.97 – $6.59)

Back when I made the bold decision to go platinum with my hair, I stockpiled pretty much everything from John Frieda’s “Sheer Blonde” collection because it was one of the few, affordable, geared-for-blondes lines that kept my tresses hydrated (an absolute necessity considering how fried my hair had become at that point,) and prevented discoloration. When I came to my senses and went back to brunette, the “Brilliant Brunette” line became my ally for the very same reasons- the results and the price.

Of course, as we all know, I have since given in to the temptation that was fiery red hair- and sure enough, John Frieda’s “Radiant Red” line was there to have my back. Although “Radiant Red” does not have nearly as many products as the SB and BB lines, I’m more than content with this shampoo and swear by it when discussing hair care for redheads. While I do shower and condition my hair every day, I only actually wash my hair with this product once or twice a week. It lathers up nicely, cleans my hair without stripping it down- and really brings out the different tones and shine in each of my curls. The cherry on top? It smells awesome!

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TO CONDITION:

Suave Professionals Moroccan Infusion Color Care Conditioner ($3.49 – $6.29)

Since I use way more conditioner than I do shampoo, I want something lightweight and relatively inexpensive that will help nourish and de-tangle my curls without fading my color. While I do like John Frieda’s “Radiant Red” conditioner that goes hand-in-hand with the shampoo, it is tricky to find it in stock in a lot of stores. This Suave conditioner, infused with Moroccan oil and easy to locate at pretty much every pharmacy or drug store- makes my hair ridiculously soft and shiny, leaves it moisturized and easy to comb through- and doesn’t fade or cloud my red at all.

I tend to apply a generous amount from my roots to my ends, and leave it in for 5-10 minutes while I shave/wash up the rest of my body/sing into my shampoo bottle/zone out completely- before I rinse it out and then go about gently patting my hair dry with my towel and styling.

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TO PROTECT:

Suave Moroccan Infusion Styling Oil ($5.99)

In the Summer, I style my hair with a lot of sea salt sprays to soften my curls and give them a more wavy, “just got back from the beach” look. It’s wonderful- except that the salt in the sprays is notorious for sucking the moisture out of hair. To counteract this, I use a few pumps of this Suave Moroccan oil from my roots to my ends while my hair is still damp before I spritz in my salt spray and let it air dry. This oil keeps my hair hydrated and shiny without making it look or feel slick or sticky. It also fights frizz, and smells really good.

I often use this when my hair is dry, as well- applying a few pumps into my palm and smoothing it over and through my hair when I’m on the go to combat flyaways and dryness. It can also be applied as an overnight hair mask, too- although I prefer to use something else for a deep repair treatment- which brings me to…

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TO REPAIR:

Trader Joe’s Organic Virgin Coconut Oil ($6-$8)

By now, most people know about the amazing benefits of coconut oil. It’s essentially a miracle in a jar- good for everything and everyone. I get a lot of use out of the Trader Joe’s brand- from my nails, to my teeth, and especially to my hair. I use coconut oil as a weekly overnight repair mask, applying and combing it through damp, clean hair- braiding or twisting my hair into a bun- and tucking it into a shower cap that I leave on while I’m sleeping (it’s more comfortable than you’d think.) In the morning, I simply take the cap off and wash and condition my hair as usual.

The results are deeply moisturized curls that are free of frizz and split ends. Coconut oil doesn’t harm my color, either- which makes it safer to use than other hair masks that may contain sulfate or other chemicals that cause fading or discoloration.

And there you have it! Four simple products to use in the Summertime for easy hair care and maintenance that won’t put a strain on your budget.

Of course, my products do get switched up a bit when it comes time for Fall and Winter, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I’m not exactly eager for Summer to be over, after all.

xox

New Looks and Books.

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If you’re a regular reader of Legally Redhead, you may have noticed the layout of the blog changed today! As much as I loved the cute, olive green style I’ve had for the better part of a year and a half- I’m quite smitten with this new (but still easy to navigate) design and header, made possible by WordPress. I hope you all like it as much as I do!

This afternoon, the lovely Imogen linked me in “The Reading Habits Tag,” and I thought I’d unveil the new design of LR while answering the book/reading questions presented to me in her original post.

So without further delay:

TheReadingHabitsTag1. Do you have a certain place for reading at home?

I usually read while I’m in bed, or curled up on my couch depending on how quiet it is in my living room. If it’s nice out, though, I like to sit out on my patio/deck with a good book!

2. Bookmark or random piece of paper?

I do the unthinkable- I turn over the corner of the page I left off on. I know it’s awful but I have a tendency to misplace bookmarks or pieces of paper! They always fall out and I always lose my place. Dog-earing the page is so much more convenient for me.

3. Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter or a certain number of pages?

I try to finish whatever chapter I’m on before I save my place and take a break from the book. There have been a couple of occasions where I’ve had to stop abruptly, sometimes mid-sentence- but I usually go back and re-read the chapter, or at least a few pages before where I left off- mostly to re-familiarize myself with what was happening in the story before I got sidetracked.

4. Do you eat or drink when reading?

It really depends on how I’m feeling at the time. If I’m hungry or thirsty, then obviously I’ll eat or drink while I read (I just have to be careful to not spill anything on the pages.)

Although I really do love a good cup of hot chocolate while I read by the fire during the winter.

5. Do you watch TV or listen to music whilst reading?

Not usually, since it can be a little distracting. If I’m reading during a flight, I tend to keep my headphones on just out of habit- and even then I’m usually listening to very soft jazz music so it won’t break my concentration.

6. One book at a time or several at once?

One book at a time! I like to focus on and finish one story before I begin another.

7. Reading at home or everywhere?

I prefer reading at home since it’s where I’m most comfortable, but I read a lot when I travel, too- in the airport, on the plane, in my hotel room, etc.

8. Reading out loud or silently in your head?

Silently in my head, unless I’m reading something to someone. Otherwise, I feel like reading out loud is sort of like those people who listen to music through their headphones or ear buds but insist on singing along anyway. It’s distracting to other people!

9. Do you ever read ahead or skip pages?

I try not to. There have been a couple of instances where I’ve been so frustrated with a book that I’ve skipped ahead to see if there’s any indication of it getting better/what happens to the character to determine if I want to keep reading- but I prefer to be surprised.

10. Breaking the spine or keeping it new?

I know that sometimes it can’t be helped, but I like to keep my books in good, new-ish condition as much I can for as long as possible. That way, if I decide to lend/give the book to someone else to read, I know it won’t be falling apart on them.

11. Do you write in your books?

I’ve highlighted stuff before, but I very rarely write in my books. Again, a lot of it has to do with potentially lending/giving the books to other people to read. I want them to be in good shape!

12. What are you currently reading?

This is going to sound ridiculous, but while helping with some Summer cleaning at my mom’s house, I recently came across a crate of my old collection of “The Baby-Sitters Club” books, as well as some other novels I absolutely adored as a kid. Nostalgia got the better of me, and I started re-reading some of them again. I’m currently in the middle of “Boy-Crazy Stacey,” which was always my favorite BSC book. When I’m done with that (which should be in no time at all,) I’m moving onto my other favorite childhood book I found- “The Silver Tree” by Ruth L. Williams. Memorieeeees!

Instead of tagging any specific person or people for this, I’m just going to tag anyone who is interested in participating in this fun little questionnaire!

xox

“If you’re fond of sand dunes and salty air…”

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FourthOfJuly20141

One thing that I’ve learned over the years is that when it comes to going away for a day/weekend- it’s best not to get dragged down with planning every minor detail of your day(s.) During the work week, I depend on plans. I plan what to eat, I plan what to wear, I plan appointments for clients and I plan what files and what paperwork to focus on for a (pre-planned) amount of time. I have been told by many people- friends, family, and colleagues- that I am both the most organized and most meticulous person they know.

So when it comes to my days off and/or vacations, I like to loosen the grip I have on my schedule and just let the chips fall where they may, so to speak. I tend to make one solid plan- like heading to a specific location, seeing a specific attraction, or visiting a specific shop or restaurant- and let the rest of my day(s) and experiences happen from there. It makes it easier to unwind and enjoy myself.

I consider myself blessed to have a tight-knit circle of friends and acquaintances who share a similar view on plans and weekend getaways, too- so when a group of my girlfriends asked me to come along for a spontaneous day at Cape Cod this past weekend, I didn’t hesitate to accept the invitation- because I knew I’d have an incredible time.

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The one solid plan for this particular adventure was to bring our friend Alyssa to a family function at her parents’ vacation home just outside Hyannis. The drive there, although long, was also insanely fun thanks in part to our playlist and the fact that Alyssa brought a bunch of snacks for those of us who were crammed in the backseat of the car. We arrived late in the afternoon, and once Alyssa reached her family’s house- the four of us that were left hit the town with no real destination in mind.

I haven’t been to Hyannis since I was a kid, and even then- my time there was limited to the hotel where my dance studio was staying for a regional competition. I didn’t see the beach and I certainly didn’t see the cute main street lined with bars, restaurants, museums, and stores. That street is where we ended up first this past weekend, grabbing some really good food at Fresh Ketch and sitting outside to people watch before we did a little shopping and ultimately decided to hit the beach as the sun was setting.

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The sand wasn’t scorching by the time we arrived but the water was so warm. I was glad I had decided to wear a lightweight cotton (and tie-dye!) dress since it made wading into the waves a lot easier. The group of us stayed there for a couple of hours, alternating between going in the water and lounging on a blanket to watch the sunset as well as a few different groups who had also come down to the beach set off the last of their stockpiled Fourth of July fireworks.

When Alyssa eventually called us to come meet her for more fireworks- this time viewed from the roof of a nearby yacht club with her family- we gathered up our things and jumped in the car to go. We managed to catch the tail-end of the show, which was still impressive nonetheless- before we went back to her family’s house for cake and goodbyes and then started the long journey home.

It was such a beautiful, perfect, hassle-free day. The scenery was gorgeous, the company was, of course- fantastic- and almost none of it was planned in advance. We just went with it- and it all worked out in our favor.

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Quick Eats: Red, White, and Fruit.

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Happy Independence Day to my fellow Americans! Unfortunately for those of us on the East Coast, our day of outdoor cookouts and night of fireworks was rained out thanks to Hurricane Arthur barreling up the coast. We had a tremendous thunderstorm last night, and it’s been pouring out for most of today- limiting most of the festivities to the indoors.

While I will be braving the rain to attend a friend’s birthday party later on tonight, I’ve been settled in for most of this morning and afternoon- re-living the glory of past episodes of “The Walking Dead” during AMC’s “Dead, White & Blue” marathon (which spans seasons 1-4 and leads up to a Sunday night preview of the upcoming fifth season- for anyone who needs to catch up!)

I’ve also been whipping up some quick, healthy, delicious- and patriotic colored snacks, too- namely simple fruit and whipped cream bowls using fresh strawberries and blueberries:

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Using the extra strawberries and blueberries I didn’t put in the fruit bowls, I made smoothies by adding a sliced banana (for more flavor,) a couple scoops of non-fat vanilla yogurt, and a cup of milk into my Magic Bullet. Not to sound like an infomercial, but if you’re looking for a convenient, easy to use- AND easy to clean blending/shredding/chopping/slicing/dicing/mashing/whipping/etc. appliance, you have GOT to invest in one of these. The device does pretty much everything in a matter of seconds with no mess and no hassle, and it’s small for easy storage without taking up a ton of counter or cabinet space. The smoothies, after everything was added into the glass container- took all of 20 seconds to chop the fruit, whip up the yogurt and milk, and blend it all together for a delicious drink.

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The fruit bowls and the smoothies were so refreshing (despite the rain, it’s still stifling hot and humid,) were low in fat, and were healthy- which makes them even better. I’m hoping to share more detailed smoothie recipes shortly (I make a mean chocolate-banana one!) since I’ve been having such a blast playing around with the Magic Bullet.

I hope everyone has a great rest of the Fourth!

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