April 2015: In a Nutshell.

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BethelApril20151“I’m going to camp out on the land. I’m gonna’ try and get my soul free.”

You’ll have to excuse my whimsical demeanor in this post. I’m still coming back down to Earth and re-adjusting to city life after a beautiful and sunny few days in quiet and quaint Bethel, New York. This past weekend- spent re-visiting the 1969 Woodstock Festival, hiking through a portion of the Catskills, photographing just a few of the breathtaking abandoned buildings throughout different counties, and enjoying some of the local cuisine- was the perfect way to round out what was overall a pretty good month. Some of my photos can be viewed in the album below!

I’d love to go back this Summer with more appropriate hiking and photography gear, since some of the long since emptied houses and businesses were a little tricky to get to due to their altitudes along the hillsides and the fact that they have been overtaken by the elements growing around them. I had packed ankle-length flowing skirts and boots with little to no tread on them this last time around- so I kept getting snagged on things every few steps! Lesson learned.

April was a busy month at work, which kept me on my toes- and between Boston juries returning GUILTY verdicts on both Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and former Patriots’ star turned murderer, Aaron Hernandez- it was an excellent month for the justice system in general, too.

This past month also kicked off the 2015 convention circuit for me. I had a blast at the New England Super MegaFest a couple of weeks ago, and I’m excited for the upcoming events in my area where I can get my geek on and wear some of the costumes I’ve been working on in my free time.

Not only that- but “Avengers: Age of Ultron” finally opens tomorrow! If that’s not the perfect way to start the comic-con season, then I don’t know what is.

So what’s in store for May? Definitely a little more traveling if I can manage it, some in-depth posts I’ve been drafting about fun things to do around my city, healthy recipes (that don’t taste like chalk- I promise!) and another “Inspired By” look that pays homage to the greatness that is the movie “Almost Famous.” I’m also doing some re-decorating in the coming weeks, so be on the lookout for a peek at the newest developments unfolding in my bedroom and bathroom. I love to paint, so it’s going to be fun (I’ve been watching a lot of HGTV lately and getting a TON of ideas. Someone stop me. Please.)

‘Til next time!

xx

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Ipsy Bag: April 2015 Review.

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I started this review while I took a break from packing my bag for a weekend away in beautiful Bethel, New York- where I channeled my inner flower child and embraced nature and the very rustic culture in the Catskills for a couple of days. It seemed fitting, then, that April’s Ipsy Bag was themed “Beautifully Bohemian” and came in a bright, hippie-esque woven pouch. Consisting mostly of makeup, I ended up packing some of the items to take with me on my trip to try out on the road.

My post-Bethel write-up (with plenty of photos!) is coming up shortly- but first- let’s get to the products!

What I Received:

theBalm Cosmetics NUDE Dude Eyeshadow Single in “Fit”

Gallany Cosmetics Lipstick in “Petal”

Hey Honey Good Morning – Honey Silk Facial Serum

JulieG Nail Color in “Damsel” (*Full Size!*)

Mullein & Sparrow Mini Lip & Cheek Tint

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Product # 1: theBalm Cosmetics NUDE Dude Eyeshadow Single in “Fit” ($36 for palette)

I’m a sucker for clever and cute packaging (which is partly why I love “Soap & Glory” products so much,) so when I saw the half-naked cartoon male models used in theBalm’s “NUDE Dude” palette, I was amused and nearly sold. There are twelve colors total in the palette- two per dude- and I received the shade “Fit,” which is a shimmery gold tone. Of course, as funny as the packaging was/is- I’m all about quality- so I gave this shadow a test run to see if it held up.

“Fit” applied smoothly and with very little fallout, and was pigmented enough where just a couple of sweeps over my lids gave me a bold, noticeable pop of color that I think will look really great come Summertime when I pair it with some bronzer and brighter lipsticks and glosses. Best of all? The shadow didn’t budge. It stayed in place all day and well into the evening without flaking, smudging, or creasing. I was thrilled!

Would I Purchase?: Yes! If the other shades in the “NUDE Dude” palette are half as great as the shade “Fit” was, I’ll happily splurge on it in a heartbeat. I’ve already gushed about the packaging, but the product itself was great in quality, coverage, and longevity. I was so pleased with this sample and grateful I got to try it out!

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Product # 2: Gallany Cosmetics Lipstick in “Petal” ($21.50)

After I got done angrily screaming into a pillow at the fact that I received another rose-hued lipstick from Ipsy, I sucked up my frustration and tried this creamy and highly pigmented formula for the sake of reviewing purposes. The bland and boring color aside, which applied as a deep mauve- this product was comfortable and non-drying on my lips, and didn’t require a touch-up or reapplication for hours- even after eating and drinking. Those perks alone were enough to convince me to explore more of what Gallany has to offer.

Would I Purchase?: Yes! I don’t think I’d re-purchase “Petal” again, since I’m so over this type of color and have been for months now- but I really liked the formula of this lipstick and I’m not opposed to trying some of the other available shades. I’d personally like something a little more coral-toned for the Summer.

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Product # 3: Hey Honey Good Morning – Honey Silk Facial Serum ($41)

For something with the word “honey” in it’s name more than once, I have to admit I was a little disappointed with the lack of honey-like fragrance in this product (especially because I love the scent so much!) I digress, this lightweight serum- which really only shares the same color as it’s namesake- absorbed into my skin quickly and left it feeling soft and hydrated prior to my makeup application. Overall, however- I wasn’t really all that impressed with this product. Even after days of continuous and diligent use- my skin’s texture and tone didn’t particularly look and feel much different or improved. This serum was a nice way to start the day’s skincare, and acted as a great primer for my foundation and blush- but for $41 for a full-sized container- I’d like visible and long-lasting results.

Would I Purchase?: No. It’s not that this serum was awful or anything, but it lacked the “wow!” factor that would make me want to rush out and purchase more of it.  I liked the consistency, I liked that there were no adverse reactions after I applied it, but it wasn’t an extraordinary product for me- and I’ve achieved similar, if not better results with my every day skincare regimen and other samples I’ve received in past bags and through other subscription services. This product was just “okay.”

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Product # 4: JulieG Nail Color in “Damsel” ($3.99)

I feel like I need to apologize- profusely- for how ghastly my nails look in the above photo. I haven’t had time to sit down for a proper manicure in a couple of weeks now, so the above D.I.Y. job is pretty offensive to look at. I’m so sorry!

Anyway, I really loved this bright pink polish when I first saw it. I thought it would be perfect for the Spring/Summer, and it was a nice change from the usual pale pinks I receive in subscription services. I was especially pleased with how rich the cream formula was. I got full coverage with just one coat (as depicted above,) and a beautiful shine- even before I applied a top coat! I’ve been sporting “Damsel” for a few days now, and there hasn’t been any chipping or peeling yet. For $3.99 a bottle- that’s pretty impressive!

Would I Purchase?: Yes! This brand/formula is actually available in a chain of local drugstores in my area. I really loved this color, the long-lasting and strong formula- and of course, the price- so I fully plan on repurchasing “Damsel” once I run out- as well as a bunch of the other available colors, too!

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Product # 5: Mullein & Sparrow Mini Lip & Cheek Tint ($10)

I did a double-take when I first laid eyes on this deep plum cheek and lip tint from Mullein & Sparrow. I’m pale- super pale- and I was worried this product would look really, really harsh on my skin if I tried to use it as a blush. I ran my finger across the top just to get an idea of the texture (which felt like a balm) and pigmentation- and was a little surprised when the color barely showed up on my fingertip. It took multiple swabs to get the product to be even the slightest bit visible on my skin- and the results didn’t vary much when I worked up the nerve to apply it to the apples of my cheeks as a comparison. This tint just did NOT show up on me.

I tried using it on my lips, as well- and while it softened my pout- I encountered the same problem in terms of color. This product was pretty much transparent on me. I was a bit disappointed. I didn’t want something that was too bold to wear- but I wasn’t expecting something that was practically invisible, either.

Would I Purchase?: No. I will use the remainder of this tin (which is cute, by the way,) as a clear-ish balm on my lips for quick hydration- but this product was pretty much a dud in terms of it’s intended purpose. I’ll stick with my more pigmented powder blushers, thanks!

With three out of the five products I received being hits- April’s “Beautifully Bohemian” bag was a good one for me! The serum and the cheek and lip tint were forgettable- although not outright awful- but I am completely smitten with the eye shadow, the nail lacquer, and the lipstick formula. While I love a nice assortment of products that cover skin care, makeup, hair care, etc.- I thought this bag was a nice way to introduce me to some makeup products and brands I otherwise may not have known about! Especially since I’m always refreshing my collection for the coming seasons.

Bring on May’s bag!

xx

Loot Crate: April 2015.

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Although my geek-dom typically revolves around the horror and superhero genres, I have a soft spot for the world of fantasy. “The Princess Bride” and “The NeverEnding Story” were just a couple of the movies I cherished in my childhood- and even though I’ve never played “Dungeons & Dragons”- I leveled pretty good in “World of Warcraft.” My point is, the fantasy genre will always be popular across all facets of entertainment, be it movies, video games, literature, etc.

“Fantasy” was the theme for April’s Loot Crate, arriving at my door just a few days ago- and I knew from the second I opened the box that I was going to have a lot of fun looking at everything more closely. The items curated this month were so much fun!

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I always start these reviews with the two items I receive every month without fail- my collector’s pin and the monthly magazine that features games, puzzles, fan-submitted photos of fellow subscribers enjoying what they received in the previous month’s crate, and a breakdown of each item included in the current one. April’s magazine also included a glimpse into the influence “Dungeons & Dragons” has had on pop culture throughout the years, and a list of fantasy-themed shows to check out sooner rather than later.

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My favorite item in April’s Loot Crate was this rubber Harry Potter luggage tag. For as long as I can remember, I’ve relied on a bright blue scarf with orange and red owls printed on it that I keep tied around the handle of my suitcase to help me differentiate it from others’ bags at the airport when I travel- but it’s starting to show it’s wear and tear after all this time and after all my trips. This tag is going to make a great replacement.

I also seriously adore these “Princess Bride” playing cards I received, which have beautiful illustrations of the characters printed on them. I’m looking forward to breaking these out the next time my friends and I decide to have a nice, quiet get together.

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Oh, “Game of Thrones,” how I hate how much I love you. While the content of GoT definitely fits into the fantasy spectrum- the show feels more like a nightmare every time I watch (and cringe- a LOT.) I digress- I would have been surprised if I didn’t receive at least one related item in April’s Loot Crate- but instead- I got two. The first, a 4GB flash drive shaped like the Stark sigil, and the second, a set of four magnets- one representing each of the clans in Westeros.

I can never have enough magnets on my fridge, and I’m always looking for additional storage for my photos and such- so I’ll be getting plenty of use from these!

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Don’t let the photo fool you- this inflatable crown actually looks pretty cute once it’s blown up. It’s not something I could wear to work or for a night out on the town, really- but I’m sure my little niece will enjoy wearing it and pretending she’s a Queen one of these days when she’s over for a visit.

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April’s Loot Crate included the second bow tie I’ve received since subscribing with the service- this time being in the form of this bright red tie with little dragons and gemstones printed on it. I’m not a bow tie girl, really- since they don’t particularly look good around my neck, but I do love having cute things to tie my hair back/up with- and I think this’ll do the trick! I’m saving this one for the next comic-convention I attend!

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Finally, I love when Loot Crate sends t-shirts, and even though I’ve already admitted that I’m not “Dungeons & Dragons” savvy, I’ll still wear this bright and soft t-shirt (which has the logo for the game screen printed on the front,) out and about when I’m running errands or lounging around my place. It’s so comfortable!

Overall, April’s “Fantasy” crate was fun (but Loot Crate is never NOT fun,) and a nice mix of useful items, some nostalgic stuff, and little random knick knacks I plan on gifting within the next couple of weeks.

I haven’t heard what May’s theme is just yet- but I know it’ll more than likely be a good one!

Dropping By New England’s Super MegaFest

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This past Saturday, I ventured out to Marlborough, Massachusetts to attend the New England Super MegaFest. In comparison to other comic conventions I’ve been to over the years, NESMF was considerably smaller in size and not particularly advertised as much- but the turnout seemed pretty impressive during the couple of hours I spent saying hello to old friends and perusing numerous merchandise booths and the artist gallery. NESMF was also the first convention I’ve been to in a while where I didn’t wear a costume and just showed up in comfortable casual wear.

I did splurge on a couple of items from artist and writer Drew Blank. The above prints, one of Alex from “A Clockwork Orange” and the other of The Walking Dead’s Daryl Dixon, were immediate favorites and are currently waiting for frames so that I can display them on my walls. I’ll definitely be purchasing more of these drawings in the future (as well as some of Drew’s dress designs,) because I think they’re absolutely adorable!

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While a good portion of the celebrity guests were former pro-wrestlers and 1970’s/80’s TV and film stars- I was beyond surprised (and thrilled) to see The Walking Dead’s Josh McDermitt on the roster. Eugene has been one of my favorite additions to the show, and every promotional appearance I’ve happened to catch that featured Josh has been entertaining. The guy is funny- really funny- and was so sweet and down to Earth. It was an absolute pleasure getting to meet him face-to-face and talk to him. He’s truly a gentleman and it was such a fantastic experience that made the drive to and from the convention worth it.

Josh was also kind enough to sign a photo for me to add to my “Walking Dead” memorabilia scrapbook (I have a book I’m putting together where one side is an autographed photograph of a cast member and the other is a photo of me with said cast member who signed it. It’s just a fun little hobby I started at a small convention a few years ago.)

I think his signed photo might be my favorite so far.

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Such a fun afternoon.

xx

GLOSSYBOX: April 2015 Review.

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I think someone at GlossyBox found and read my semi-scathing review of March’s assortment of items- not only because what I received this month was infinitely better in quality, but because my April box arrived WAY ahead of schedule- reaching my door before this month’s Ipsy Bag and Loot Crate even shipped! If that weren’t enough to surprise me, the box itself was really neat looking- featuring a funky, Pop Art styled blonde applying makeup on the top. I loved it- especially because the boxes come in handy when I’m gifting things throughout the year.

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Also included in April’s bag was a neat little makeup pouch with a bedazzled lip print in the same Pop Art-ish style, I was already impressed with how different April’s box was shaping up to be- and that was before I even saw the actual products and samples that were inside!

What I Received:

Julep Gel Eye Glider in “Smoky Taupe Shimmer” (*Full Size!*)

Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Stained Gloss in “Meta” (*Full Size!*)

Estee Lauder Enlighten Dark Spot Correcting Night Serum

Aerin Waterlily Sun Perfume

Marrakesh Endz Split End Mender & Preventer

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Product # 1: Julep Gel Eye Glider in “Smoky Taupe Shimmer” ($16)

Whenever I write about pencil or liquid liners, I almost always end up comparing them to my favorite liner type- gels. I love the easy, painless, and mess-free application that comes with gel liners. I love how pigmented most versions are. More than anything- I love their longevity. I rarely have to worry about gel eyeliners smudging, fading, or flaking- which is exactly what I need and what I’m looking for since I rarely have time during the day for touch-ups. My only (very minor) problem with gel liners is that carrying around a brush and a pot of the product can be a little inconvenient- especially when I’m traveling since I tend to forget one or the other or they get mixed around and misplaced in my makeup bag. Thankfully, Julep have come to my rescue with this one-step pencil version of the gel liner.

I fully admit I was skeptical at first prior to trying this product, but the second I felt and saw how smoothly the pencil glided across my lids without any nicking or pulling, saw the beautiful charcoal color as I swept it upwards to give myself a nice and even cat eye- and then watched as the liner did not budge in the slightest throughout the day- I was thrilled. Julep completely won be over with this!

Would I Purchase?: Yes! This product combined the best of both worlds for me- all the aforementioned perks of a gel liner, but with the convenience of an easy-to-store and sharpen pencil. I loved the color of “Smoky Taupe Shimmer,” and will definitely re-purchase again once I’ve run out- but I’d love to try some of the other available shades, too!

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Product # 2: Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Stained Gloss in “Meta” ($18)

The last OCC lip product I tried was a deep crimson and matte-finish Lip Tar that I had liked very much despite how drying the formula felt without the aid of a balm or gloss under/over the product. When I received a similar shaped tube in this month’s GlossyBox, this time filled with a bright pink/coral color- and saw that it was a gloss instead of a matte finish- I was intrigued and hopeful. Unless there’s a serious screw-up with the ingredients somewhere- glosses don’t usually dry my lips out.

Like the Lip Tar, this gloss was highly pigmented and lasted a very long time without bleeding towards the outer edges of my lips or flaking off. A little of this product went a long way, and it looked very bold and vivid once I’d applied enough to my liking. It took a few seconds to adjust to the shade at first, but once I did- I loved it. It’s very Summer-appropriate. When the color did begin to fade after a few hours, it left behind a nice and even-looking stain on my lips- which meant I didn’t have to make a mad dash to the closest mirror to re-apply. .

Unlike the Lip Tar, this product had a shiny finish and wasn’t drying at all. My lips felt comfortable the entire time I had this gloss on- and even long after it had finally come off entirely near the end of the day. I think I’ve found a winner!

Would I Purchase?: Yes! I was so pleased with this gloss for having all the components I loved about the Lip Tar I had previously received, and for also being better formulated to get rid of the drying effect. This is a great, vibrant color that I can and will be wearing for the remainder of the Spring and Summer to give my otherwise natural makeup look a nice and fresh pop of glossy, pigmented color.

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Product # 3: Estee Lauder Enlighten Dark Spot Correcting Night Serum ($62 – $92)

A long, long time ago- in a faraway place that feels like a lifetime away- I worked as a Clinique Consultant within a department store. Across from my work space was Estee Lauder, Clinique’s parent company- as well as a couple of friends who worked as representatives for the brand. During slow days and nights where I would work ’til close, I’d often find myself over at their counter, perusing their makeup and skincare. Being in my late teens/very early twenties at the time, I liked the packaging of Lauder’s products- but I mistakenly thought their skin care was for more “mature” skin (i.e. women in their forties/fifties and up,) and at the time- their pricing was well beyond my available budget. When purchasing Lauder, usually to assist my friends with annual “Gift With Purchase” events- I stuck to lip glosses and bronzers- and that was about it.

Now that I’m a bit older and (a little) wiser- I’m comfortable with experimenting with different brands and products that are outside of my comfort zone or what I’m typically used to. I received this travel-sized jar of Estee Lauder’s “Enlighten” serum and, forgetting my previously mentioned “mature skin” way of thinking- gave it a try. While the box and jar said this is a nighttime serum, I read in the pamphlet included in my April GlossyBox that this product can be used during the day as well before moisturizer and SPF. As is the case with most serums, I only needed a small amount to cover my face- which meant I was able to try this sample for quite a while before I began to run out.

The serum itself is lightweight and absorbs quickly without leaving behind a residue or a shine on my skin. It’s fragranced- which had me a little worried since my skin can be sensitive to perfumes- but thankfully this product didn’t cause any sort of painful reaction. In fact, after a few days of night and day use- my face was GLOWING. I couldn’t believe how clear and even my complexion looked and how soft and smooth my skin felt. It was unreal and had me kicking myself for not trying this product sooner.

Would I Purchase?: Yes! Okay, so the price point- even now that I’m more financially responsible- is a little staggering, I know- but this serum is incredible. It has been working wonders on my skin and I haven’t even had to use a lot to achieve such amazing results. I would, and will- happily splurge on a full-size bottle of this, sooner rather than later. My skin feels healthy and soft, and it looks so much brighter!

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Product # 4: Aerin Waterlily Sun Perfume ($110)

My best friend Sean and I spend a considerable amount of time in NYC- specifically at the McKittrick Hotel, home of “Sleep No More,” where we attend dinners, parties, special events, etc. The place has such a unique vibe, including the way it smells. There’s a certain fragrance in the air whenever Sean and I don our “Sleep No More” masks and step into the performance area. It’s this sort of earthy, musky scent that wafts throughout the rooms as we wander. It’s not awful, but it’s definitely distinctive- and not necessarily something I would want to smell like on an average day at my office, for example…

… It’s also very, very close to how this perfume from Aerin smells. A long-lasting combination of florals and musk, the first thing I thought of when I first spritzed some of this perfume on was the McKittrick. Like I said, it’s not terrible- but I don’t think it’s something I could see myself wearing on a regular basis. Also, $110 a bottle? Yikes.

Would I Purchase?: No. By all means, if earthy musks are your thing- you’d probably enjoy this perfume very much. It’s powerful and stays on for a long time- but I’m a fan of lighter, more floral fragrances. This one was just a little too heavy for me.

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Product # 5: Marrakesh Endz Split End Mender & Preventer ($5.99 – $17.99)

Having recently touched up my red highlights and using heat on my hair to temporarily straighten my curls for a couple of days- my hair was in need of some TLC to repair any damage sustained in the process. I figured there was no better time to run some of this lightweight cream through the ends of my hair and see if it could do the trick. First things first- like the bottle says- there’s hemp oil in this product. Your hair WILL smell like it all day unless you use additional styling products to mask it. I personally like the fragrance- and have been using this cream all by itself. It makes my hair soft, manageable, and even a little glossy looking as it fights frizz and flyaway strands- NOT greasy. Also, the price point is reasonable considering the quality!

Would I Purchase?: Yes! This is one of those fantastic products I never would have known existed if not for GlossyBox. I love the results I’ve been seeing with this cream, the ease of how it’s applied, and sure- the scent. It’s just an overall great addition to my hair care regimen and I plan on ordering a full-sized bottle once I’ve run out of this sample.

Wow, GlossyBox. You really went above and beyond with this month’s assortment of products and samples. With the exception of the perfume, which just wasn’t really my sort of scent- this box was incredible. From the cool design, to the bonus makeup pouch, to the timely shipping- and of course- the great products that were included: I was thrilled. This more than made up for March’s lackluster box, and I’m excited to see what’s in store for May!

Closet Crushes: Practical Festival Wear.

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Oh, “Closet Crushes” posts- how I’ve missed you. It’s been well over a year- maybe a year and a half- since I’ve shared some of the contents of my wardrobe on here. With work, travel, geeking out at comic-conventions, and more recently- unpredictable weather- I haven’t had much time or motivation to primp and pose outdoors in some of my favorite pieces in recent months- and the “Closet Crushes” posts sort of fell to the wayside as a result.

But now, with beautiful weather here at last and my closet recently cleaned out and organized from a LOT of Spring cleaning- I’ve been inspired to start them up again- and with the first leg of Coachella wrapping up this past weekend (and the festival fashion recap posts emerging online)– I thought I’d share two of my favorite, practical, but still stylish ensembles to wear for such an occasion.

Here’s the thing about Coachella. Over the years, the festival has become less about music and more about which celebrity can show up wearing the most outlandish, impractical, and uncomfortable looking outfits (sometimes engaging in some cultural appropriation along the way.) How someone can enjoy a band’s set in 75+ degree weather, surrounded by a mass of other sweating, sticky bodies, and trying to decide between succumbing to dehydration or spending $12 on a bottle of water- all while wearing layers upon layers of leather, fringe, suede, feathers, tulle (the worst fabric imaginable,) and three pounds of metal bangle bracelets- is beyond me. That sounds like a miserable time!

I’ve been to a few outdoor music festivals throughout the years, and I’ve always made it a point to dress in clothing that was comfortable and suitable for the elements. Jeans, t-shirts, and waterproof boots in case of rain or puddles were pretty much mandatory- but sometimes the heat and the sun beating down during the day could make me feel like I was roasting- and I turned to more flowing, breathable fabrics that let me stay cool and able to move around (and dance!) freely without looking like an insane person.

I love my shin-length, nude-colored cotton crochet skirt (in the left hand side of the photo above,) which I usually layer with a tank top and a lightweight sweater in case it cools down at all during the day- and my white, cotton crochet dress (right side of the photo above,) is loose-fitting and feminine- making me feel pretty and comfortable. I especially love the design of it’s bell sleeves- which give me some serious BoHo vibes.

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For accessories, I try to keep it simple. Too much dangling from my neck and arms is uncomfortable, at least for me- so I tend to stick to one or two pieces- like a unique and lightweight necklace and one or two chunky bracelets that won’t interfere with my movements too much. I like these pieces since I can barely feel them whenever I wear them.

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Lastly, the finishing touches- my footwear and my sunglasses. I love these faux-leather cowboy style boots year-round, since they’re comfortable and look pretty chic with jeans and dresses alike, regardless of the season (I once paired them with short shorts when I was in Las Vegas- and it looked pretty cool.) Best of all? They keep my feet dry in the case of an unexpected downpour, and are easy to clean should I encounter the dreaded outdoor festival mud pile. Ick.

The sunglasses, large and round- are back in style this season, and have been all but permanently attached to my face as of late. They’re also going to be making another appearance in an upcoming “Inspired By” post!

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And those are just two of my favorite, and practical- outdoor festival looks.

Do you have any practical festival fashion must-haves? Feel free to share in the comments!

Notes of Spring…

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Firstly- it is absolutely GORGEOUS out today! It’s cool, but not cold- sunny with only a few clouds scattered throughout the sky- and there is absolutely NO snow to be found anywhere! I’d nearly forgotten what grass looked like until now. I had my car windows down earlier this morning when I stepped out to run some errands, and on the road I saw more than one person savoring this beautiful day on their motorcycle.

It’s official- Spring is finally, FINALLY– here! No question about it- unless we get another freak snowstorm or something.

We made it through, New England!

Not that I haven’t been ready for it for weeks now. A peek into some of my entries from January through February, and even throughout March- showed (plenty of times) that I was so over and done with winter, to the point where I just wanted to bundle myself up in blankets and hibernate- and that I was more than ready to enjoy the warmer weather and sunshine.

Since a short time before Easter I’ve been adorning my home with fresh flowers and embracing the pastels in my wardrobe, storing away my heavy coats and dark colored shirts and sweaters until the end of the year. My makeup collection has even received a Spring makeover (I’ll write about that soon,) which has me looking fresh-faced and bright as of late.

I’m heading out with some friends to enjoy the remainder of this lovely weekend, and on Monday morning- I’ll be selecting a winner of my “Is It Summer Yet?” Giveaway. There’s still a few more hours to enter if you haven’t done so already!

‘Til next time!

xox

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That’s a Wrap! Dissecting Season 5 of “The Walking Dead.”

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TheWalkingDeadSeason5PosterPast reviews and reflections of previous seasons of “The Walking Dead” have always been fairly easy to write- in my own experience- because the story arcs have been relatively similar throughout the years. The surviving group takes up residence somewhere they believe to be safe. It turns out not to be safe at all. They encounter the designated “bad guy” of the season- be it living or undead- they prevail, although they typically lose one or two members of the group along the way- and the audience is left with a cliffhanger ending to keep us coming back the following season for more. It’s a simple formula, but it works- and it’s entertaining.

At the end of season four, Rick and the remaining members of his group (sans-Carol, Tyreese, Judith, and Beth- who were elsewhere,) were preparing to fight their way out of a train cart after being ambushed and subsequently captured by the shady folks at the slaughterhouse disguised as a sanctuary, Terminus. Rick’s final line, a call to arms in the form of “they’re screwing with the wrong people,” left fans counting down the days until the season five premiere last October to see just how our favorite band of survivors would escape in one piece.

This past season, concluding just over a week ago, had the distinction of breaking away from the aforementioned storytelling formula- firing on all cylinders from the first agonizing, brutal, and bloody minutes of the season premiere and rarely losing momentum. There were a lot of losses amid the chaos, of course- and more than one designated “bad guy,” which made for a lot of intersecting story arcs and character development- but did the show suffer as a result of too much going on at once?

I’m putting my review, which includes a LOT of spoilers- behind the “Read More” tag, so if you haven’t seen the season finale or haven’t quite caught up with the show just yet- don’t proceed!

Otherwise, let Eugene’s seductive gaze guide you in.

EugeneStare

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GLOSSYBOX: March 2015 Review.

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GlossyBox had started off 2015 with the best of intentions. Impressive product selections, more prompt delivery- and I had expressed hope on more than one occasion throughout January and February that their attempts at tweaking and improving their service for new and longtime subscribers alike would last throughout the remainder of the year. By doing so, I think I may have unintentionally jinxed myself- because a late winter storm (that was surprisingly not affecting anywhere near where I live,) caused a delay in March’s shipping schedule. I was notified via e-mail, which was a good and appreciated move by GlossyBox’s customer service- and I was therefore prepared for when my box finally turned up a little more than a week ago.

Shipping hiccup aside, March’s box contained not one, or two- but three full-sized items, as well as two samples of a product valued at over $100. I dove right in!

What I Received:

Ouidad Color Sense Color Preserving Shampoo & Color Preserving Conditioner

ModelCO More Brows Eyebrow Thickening Gel in Medium/Dark (*Full Size!*)

Orogold COSMETICS 24K Multi-Vitamin Day Moisturizer

So Susan Cosmetics Concealer Quad (*Full Size!*)

Bellapierre Cosmetics Cheek&Lip Stain in Pink (*Full Size!*)

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Product # 1: Ouidad Color Sense Color Preserving Shampoo & Color Preserving Conditioner ($18 – $65)

In the spectrum of “First World Problems,” taking care of color-treated hair is right up there near the top. It’s taken me a couple of years, but I’ve finally found and developed a cleansing, conditioning, and styling system that works well with both my curls and my red dye job. I try not to stray from it too far or too often- and usually only do so when it’s to try a different product I’ve received a sample of or that has come highly recommended to me. This lightly fragranced, sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner duo from Ouidad- created specifically for curly and color-treated hair to protect it from UV rays, drying out, frizz, etc.- seemed like it was designed just for me. I was so excited to see what kind of results I’d get.

First, the shampoo. I fully admit I’m picky about my shampoo. I like it to lather, but I don’t like it to strip my hair of it’s natural nutrients and especially not of my color (and who does?) While this shampoo did lather, albeit with a little difficulty- it didn’t make my hair feel necessarily clean. Each time I used this sample, I ended up washing my hair 2-3 times per shower just to make sure it wasn’t my imagination. Each time I rinsed, my hair felt a little oily- which kind of grossed me out.

The conditioner didn’t fare much better. The consistency of this product, almost too thick to get it out of the bottle without having to unscrew the cap and vigorously shake it- made it difficult to distribute evenly through my thick hair without using almost the entire sample. I even left the conditioner in my hair a little longer than the recommended three minutes before combing through and rinsing- but it didn’t soften or help de-tangle my curls at all. My hair actually looked and felt coarse and frizzy after I’d used this product. So disappointing.

Would I Purchase?: No, to both. This shampoo and conditioner were just not for me at all, which is a shame- because it’s not very often I can find products that are supposed to be beneficial to both curly hair AND color treated hair (it’s either one of the other, and results in a lot of mixing and matching on my part.) The shampoo actually made my hair feel dirtier than before I’d washed it, and I saw absolutely no improvement with the conditioner whatsoever. I’ll stick to the system I have going right now, since that seems to be working out well for me so far. 

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Product # 2: ModelCO More Brows Eyebrow Thickening Gel in Medium/Dark ($18)

Ever since I started using makeup/cosmetics back in my mid-teens- I’ve gone through countless lipsticks, glosses, blushes, and eyeliners- but only a handful of brow gels and powders. My eyebrows have always had a manageable thickness to them, and a natural arch- so be it my own laziness in the morning or just never seeing the need to fill them in between tweezings/waxings- but I very rarely use products like this ModelCo gel.

I digress- thicker, fuller brows are most definitely “in” right now- and not content with just throwing out my tweezers and letting nature take it’s course, I decided to give this modified mascara wand a try to see if I could achieve my own version of the Cara Delevingne unkempt look.

The gel applied easily enough. It wasn’t clumpy or watery, and it very closely matched the natural color of my own brows where it didn’t look like I had applied anything at all- which is what I had hoped for. The gel did give my brows a fuller look without making them appear TOO outrageous- and held any rouge hairs in place- which was also nice. It took a little getting used to at first, but I’ve really started to enjoy the results the more I use this product.

Would I Purchase?: Maybe. Don’t get me wrong. I like this gel- and I like the way it made my eyebrows look for the most part- but I don’t know if this is something I’d re-purchase in the future quite just yet. Taking my minimal and hassle-free Spring and Summer makeup routine into consideration- this is just an extra step I’m not sure I’m ready to take in the a.m. when I’m getting ready for work or getting ready to go out for a weekend. I think I’ll know eventually after I get used to using the tube I have now every day!

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Product # 3: Orogold COSMETICS 24K Multi-Vitamin Day Moisturizer ($118)

At a whopping $118 for a full-sized jar of this daily moisturizer, I ended up staring at the two capsules I received in March’s GlossyBox prior to use- half expecting a unicorn or a leprechaun to spring out of the samples once I’d opened them. For that much money, I was ready to see instant results and had my sunglasses within reach to shield my eyes from the luminous glow I was sure to achieve after applying this perfumed and fast-absorbing cream, which contains actual 24 karat gold- on my face and neck area.

Here’s what happened instead- I broke out. BAD. After two days of using this product, my face was all but covered in painful blotches. They thankfully went away after I stopped using the cream for another two days (and after a nice detoxifying mask,) but I wanted to be sure it was this moisturizer and not just a weird reaction to something else that had caused such a horrible reaction. Just in case. I tried using this cream one more time- and immediately saw another fresh crop of sore-to-the-touch blemishes pop up in the area where I’d applied it.

Most expensive breakout ever.

Would I Purchase?: No. God, no. Never. Look, this might work fantastic for other people. For someone with less sensitive skin than me, this might be a Godsend. It might hydrate and get rid of fine lines and wrinkles almost immediately- but for me- it caused a week’s worth of skin problems and is simply not worth a penny of it’s price.

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Product # 4: So Susan Cosmetics Concealer Quad ($30.95)

Let’s just cut to the chase. I can only use one, maybe two of the shades in this quad- those two being the pearl white and the lightest nude tone available as a highlighter and concealer, respectively. The waste of the two other product shades aside- I was fully ready to be pleased with this product since I’ve been so smitten with a quality So Susan blush I had received in a recent GlossyBox as of late.

First things first- this concealer is not easy to apply. At all. The texture is waxy, too waxy, really- which made getting any on my concealer brush (and then my finger when I got desperate,) near impossible. Secondly, when I was able to get enough of the product on my brush/finger after swabbing multiple times to apply to my face- it barely covered anything. Not a blemish and definitely not any dark circles under my eyes. Even the pearl white highlighter, which I applied- with difficulty- around my brow bone hardly showed up. I ended up scrapping this quad completely and going back to my liquid concealers to cover any imperfections.

Would I Purchase?: No. Much like the Ouidad shampoo and conditioner I received last month, this product was a dud for me. With two shades of the quad going to waste even before I’d opened it, the unnecessary difficulty in applying the shades I could use- and topped off with the complete lack of coverage whatsoever- this one is getting thrown out.

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Product # 5: Bellapierre Cosmetics Cheek&Lip Stain in Pink ($19.99)

Having been fairly discouraged with March’s GlossyBox so far, I was bracing myself for one last bit of disappointment before I’d even opened this highly pigmented pink solid lip and cheek stain from Bellapierre. From past experiences, anything designed for the lips AND cheeks is usually drying and disastrous on my complexion. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case with this product- which blended easily along the apples of my cheeks and gave me a natural, flushed finish that complimented most makeup looks I’ve been wearing recently. This is a nice go-to for those days when I need a hint of more color since there’s no shimmer and it stays in place all day without getting patchy or fading completely.

I haven’t tried this product on my lips, however- and don’t plan to. I like the lip balms I’m wearing now and I don’t really have a need for yet another pink to add to the collection.

Would I Purchase?: Maybe. This was a nice product that applied with no mess and didn’t budge until I washed my face. It didn’t dry my skin out or otherwise cause any kind of bad reaction like a certain aforementioned moisturizer- but I wasn’t necessarily blown away by this stain. I will definitely be using more of the full-sized jar I received in last month’s GlossyBox, but I don’t know if I feel inspired enough by it to rush and purchase another one if and when I run out.

I’m not a complainer. That’s not who I am by any means- but wow, was March’s GlossyBox a let-down. With only two products being “okay” out of a box otherwise filled with things that were just not that great- I’m really hoping that April’s selection of items and samples is a vast improvement. I don’t expect every month to blow me away- because that’d be a difficult standard to uphold time and time again- but following up a great assortment in January and February with what I received in March’s box was pretty surprising.

We’ll see what happens when this month’s box arrives.

March 2015: In a Nutshell.

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NYC - March 2015.

NYC – March 2015.

Good evening (in my time zone, anyway!)

I’m so used to publishing posts in the morning during the weekdays that writing this so late in the afternoon feels a bit unfamiliar to me! I’ve been incredibly busy at work (which is a good thing,) and enjoying a touch of warmer weather as much as I can. I actually have a window open as I type this, and while it’s by no means beach weather quite just yet- it still feels really refreshing!

Winter has been putting up quite a fight on it’s way out the door. This past month, on more than one occasion here in New England- we’ve seen snow dustings blanket the area- only to be melted away within hours when the sun finally came out through the clouds to wrestle back it’s control of the sky. The forecast for the week ahead is showing a steady rise in temperatures and no snow on the horizon- so here’s hoping April will be more mild!

Unpredictable weather, a battle with a flu (and then a sinus infection- ugh!) and some non-stop Spring tidying aside- March was a really fun and productive month for me. I did a little bit of weekend traveling, teamed up with the good folks over at Rocksbox for a great promotion, and just recently put up my Summer-themed giveaway (which I’ll link to again below!) I’m also a few weeks into my Springtime diet and fitness regimen- and wow– I’m already noticing such a big difference. I look and feel so much better than I did, say, near the end of last year- for example. I’m sure I’ll be doing more posts pertaining to it in the near future- be it exercise routines, healthy recipes, or even a “Day In The Life” type of post. We’ll see!

With tomorrow being April 1st (and also “Stay Off The Internet Day” for those of us who typically fall prey to April Fools jokes, fabricated news stories, and the like,) I’ve been plotting out my plans, goals, and posts for the upcoming month. I’m hoping to spend a weekend in one of my favorite spots in Upstate New York in a couple of weeks since I haven’t been there in years and have been pining to go back- and I’ve stumbled on an incredible abandoned location a couple of hours away in Connecticut that I’m  hoping to photograph now that the snow isn’t obstructing my view of anything and everything quite as much anymore!

Over the next few days, I’ll have my review of my March GlossyBox up- as well as my breakdown of the recently completed and absolutely wild fifth season of “The Walking Dead” (“RICK. DO IT.”)– which is always so much fun to write.

Until then, there’s still time to enter my “Is It Summer Yet?” Giveaway- so be sure to check it out!

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– Click Here To Enter! –

Bring on April!