Review: “Come Back to Me”

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ComeBackToMePosterIf any of you reading this have kept up with this blog for any extended amount of time, then you’ll know that I have a tremendous amount of fun reviewing horror movies- especially around October when I completely ruin my recommendations list by watching and ripping apart the worst of the worst- bottom of the barrel horror and slasher flicks Netflix has to offer. I’m scathing, spoiler-filled, and my critiques could be (and probably are) considered borderline mean to anyone involved in the creation of the films. That’s not to say I don’t encourage and support artistic endeavors and efforts- but I live for insane plots, cheesy special effects and shoddy CGI- and I definitely don’t hold back about it.

So I was admittedly pretty surprised when I was actually ASKED to not only watch, but also review an independent horror movie here on Legally Redhead last week. I felt like I would be the last person anyone promoting a film would want to go to, considering my knack for movie-mockery, but I went into the assignment, for lack of a better word- and the film itself- with an open mind. Not too long after agreeing to watch and dissect the movie: 2014’s ‘Come Back to Me,’ I received a gigantic version of the poster shown near the left in the mail. I plan on adding it to my “Horror Den,” which sounds far more diabolical than what it actually is- a spare bedroom filled with all my horror genre-related stuff.

‘Come Back to Me’ is available for rent and download on iTunes, and also as a rental on Charter on Demand. A quick plot summary, per the movie’s IMDB page:

“Sarah & Josh are married suburbanites. After a car accident, Sarah suffers blackouts & ends up pregnant though Josh is sterile. As her life spirals she hides a camera in her home & unlocks a horrific secret with far-reaching consequences.”

Before I begin, I would like to add that despite being asked to review this movie as opposed to just watching it on my own- I critiqued this like I would any other- giving it a final rating which will be revealed at the end of this post.

And, as always:

FULL SPOILERS ARE AHEAD. DO NOT CLICK THE “READ MORE” TAB IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW IMPORTANT PLOT POINTS- INCLUDING THE ENDING OF THIS MOVIE. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.

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“It’s just a Reflektor…”

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I’m a big fan of Arcade Fire. Unfortunately, whenever they swing through town- I either have other obligations and plans- or tickets sell out by the time I grab my wallet out of my bag to try and order some. Up until recently, I’d come to terms with the fact that the only time I would ever probably see the band perform live would be on television during festival re-caps and whatnot.

The lovely folks over at Radio BDC changed all that, however. When Arcade Fire came to Mansfield last week- they hooked me up with a pair of tickets to take in the splendor of their “Reflektor” Tour live at the Xfinity Center! I had missed the memo that the band encourage folks to come to their shows in costume- so I was a little confused at all the ball gowns, pirate hats, feather boas and sparkly suits in the audience at first- but the show was absolutely brilliant- maybe one of the top ten concerts I’ve ever been to. They were incredible.

I’m just getting around to going through my photos now, but above are some of my favorites so far. I didn’t capture any video (I was too busy singing and dancing,) but I’m sure there’s footage of the sing-a-long to “Wake Up” floating around on YouTube somewhere! If you get the chance to see it, I recommend it. A few thousand people singing in perfect harmony will definitely give you goosebumps!

xx

Loot Crate: August 2014.

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While July’s Loot Crate was all about giving some beloved baddies their due credit with the “Villains” box, August was all about celebrating the good guys. “Heroes,” the theme for August- arrived at my door a few days ago- and although “Villains” still remains one of the most fun Loot Crates I’ve received to date, this month’s collection of items didn’t disappoint. I was thrilled with every single thing I received- and the stuff that I gift will be appreciated and adored, too!

Let’s get right to it!

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First up, the usual items: my monthly collector’s pin and the mini-magazine included in every crate. This month’s issue featured the usual games and puzzles- as well as a brief summary of the origins of some of the comic world’s most iconic good guys- including Superman, Batman, The Ghostbusters- and my favorite- Rick Grimes. There was also a fun write-up about the history of heroes: how they’ve evolved and how they’re defined today.

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When it comes to my car, I do my best to keep it as clean and as neat as possible- because my friends are always in it and I don’t want them to be uncomfortable or grossed out while we drive. For that reason, I almost always have a lightly scented air freshener hanging from my rear view mirror or tucked away in the side compartment next to my seat. I am loving this Proto-Man air freshener, which smells delicious to the point of making me hungry- and it’s replacing my long-since-faded “Clean Cotton” air freshener this weekend when I go to pick up my mom and cousin for a day out.

In July’s Loot Crate, I had received a pair of cozy Deadpool socks. The most fun of anti-heroes, I was glad he made a reappearance in this month’s box, too- this time in the form of a fun little “Chimichang’Os Cereal” magnet that will find it’s way onto my refrigerator sooner rather than later.

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I was floored when I saw these “The Flash” inspired shoe accessories in August’s Loot Crate. I’ve owned the same pair of black Chuck Taylor high tops since high school, and although they are far from being in mint condition like they were when I bought them- they’ve still held up nicely. I think these bolts will liven them up a little- although I’ve been tempted to lace these onto my combat boots, too- once the Fall is here!

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When I was a kid, I was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles FANATIC. The cartoon? The 1990 movie? Figurines, clothes, stickers, a cassette of Vanilla Ice’s “Ninja Rap”- you name it- and I owned it. My love of all things pizza-eating sewer dwellers has seemingly been passed on to my five-year-old niece, who might be a bigger fan now than I ever was back then. She’s obsessed- so when I saw these cute sunglasses that look like Michelangelo’s mask, and this Donatello figurine- I knew exactly who I was going to give them to.

Also: I’m just glad I didn’t get anything inspired by Michael Bay’s version of TMNT.

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I had heard there was going to be an exclusive Funko figurine in August’s Loot Crate, and was trying to guess which hero it could have possibly been. My heart melted when I opened the box and saw this adorable, glow-in-the-dark Groot figurine staring back at me. He’s currently sitting in between my Alcide figure I picked up at San Diego Comic-Con, and one of many Daryl Dixons (specifically: the season two figure with the arrow through his side.)

WAY too cute!

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Lastly, August’s Loot Crate came with a card for “Bonus Digital Loot,” too. This card had codes on the back of it that can be used for a couple of different games to try. I plan on giving “Defense Grid: The Awakening” a go this weekend when I have some down time.

Overall, August’s Loot Crate was a blast. I’m 99.9999% sure I say it every month, but I have so much fun opening this subscription service. There’s always just a great assortment of items and I never know exactly what I’m going to receive.

Also- much like July- the box itself was specially decorated, too. Villains can’t have all the fun, after all. Check out this Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles design!

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Ipsy Bag: August 2014 Review.

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Even though there’s technically still a couple of weeks of Summer left- schools are starting up classes again, the early morning humidity has been replaced by a hint of chilly air, my urge to wear boots and hoodies has begun to come back- and coffee shops are releasing their Pumpkin Spice flavored beverages early. Yes, Fall is approaching- and even though it’s the prequel to the season I despise the most- I’m so excited.

Ipsy, getting into the Autumn spirit right along with me- sent out their August bags, themed “Beauty School(ed)” recently. The bag itself, which is supposed to be a tube shape with fun orange polka dots- arrived warped beyond repair to the point where it was comical. After multiple attempts to fix it to get a halfway decent photo, I called it quits and instead focused on the products that had been tucked inside of it.

What I Received:

Jersey Shore Sun ‘Mongongo’ Lip Conditioner (*Full Size!*)

Dr. Brandt ‘Pores No More’ Pore Refiner

J. Cat Beauty Flying Solo Eye Shadow in “Half Naked” (*Full Size!*)

Urban Decay ‘Perversion’ Mascara

Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk

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Product # 1: Jersey Shore Sun ‘Mongongo’ Lip Conditioner ($5.50)

Right away, I knew I was going to like this lip balm- not only because of it’s name (which is fun to say,) but because it smelled like Jolly Ranchers candies the second I twisted it up to apply. ‘Mongongo’ is organic- loaded with anti-oxidants, UV protection, anti-aging components- and no artificial ingredients. I’ve been using it non-stop for the past few days and have really noticed an improvement in the overall softness and smoothness of my lips. The color-less, flavor-less formula is non-tacky, non-greasy, and stays on my pout for hours for long-term hydration. I can easily see this becoming my go-to for the days where I want to go natural and wear something on my lips that isn’t bright or bold, or even just as an everyday lip moisturizer.

Would I Purchase?: Yes! On the surface, this admittedly looks like any generic chapstick you’d find at the drug store- but I’m really liking the formula, the fragrance, and the results. Unlike most chapsticks, this isn’t harsh or loaded with chemicals that can actually cause more dryness, peeling, or cracking to the lips. It’s gentle and effective- and definitely something I’d purchase in the future for myself and for friends.

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Product # 2: Dr. Brandt ‘Pores No More’ Pore Refiner ($45)

Years ago, when I worked for Clinique, I used a “Pore Minimizing” primer that had the same light, fluffy texture as this pore refiner. There was roughly the same amount of product in the tube- but it was half the price. That’s not to say this isn’t a lovely primer, however. Although I was a little nervous with how dark it appeared at first, the product quickly and effortlessly blended into my skin- instantly mattifying it and making my face soft and smooth prior to applying my foundation. This formula is also anti-bacterial, which is a huge plus for people like me with sensitive skin that is occasionally prone to breakouts.

Did it reduce the look of my pores? Not really. I didn’t notice much of a difference both before my foundation had been applied and after- and I had to resort to my usual blending and powder techniques to give me a flawless finish.

Would I Purchase?: Maybe. While I was a bit disappointed that this primer, specifically for pores- didn’t do much for mine- I did enjoy how it evened out and softened my skin before I applied my makeup. The $45 price tag is a little steep, especially for something that only delivered some of the promised benefits and results- but I liked the mattifying effect, the antibacterial benefits, and the finish- and I wouldn’t be completely opposed to eventually making the switch from my current primer to this.

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Product # 3: J. Cat Beauty Flying Solo Eye Shadow in “Half Naked” ($2.99)

This eye-shadow, described as being “vividly pigmented,” came in a flip-up compact with a small mirror and sponge applicator. Although the shade appeared almost orange in the container, it actually applied and set as a shimmery champagne color- but it wasn’t nearly as pigmented as I would have hoped for or expected. The color would have worked great as a subtle highlighter had it not been for the lack of staying power. Even when applied over a primer,  this shadow creased and faded almost entirely in no time at all. Although the packaging is convenient and the price is pretty awesome for the amount of product within it- overall, this shadow was a let-down.

Would I Purchase?: No. Between the lack of pigmentation and longevity, this product was a dud. I’m fine with spending a little bit more money for a shadow that I know will not only show up on my lids, but will stay in place for a lot longer, too.

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Product # 4: Urban Decay ‘Perversion’ Mascara ($22)

Of all the cosmetics brands in the world, I think I’m most loyal to Urban Decay. I love their palettes, their pigmentation, and their prices. Of all their things I’ve purchased and of all the things from their brand that I’ve tried over the years- I’ve only ever been unsatisfied with one or two things. Overall, my experiences with Urban Decay have been positive. My love affair carries over into their newest mascara, “Perversion,” as well. With a big, thick brush and a blackest-black formula- this mascara made my lashes look long, dark, and dramatic with just two coats. There was no flaking, clumping, or smudging. Just a bold all-day look that required no touch-ups or reapplications.

Would I Purchase?: Yes! Urban Decay has done it again. Although I’ve been quite content with my current mascara, I will absolutely be purchasing a full-sized tube of “Perversion” once I’ve run out. This is a great mascara that is perfect for those who love the “false lash” look (without the glue or hassle) as much as I do. This particular formula can be partnered with a primer, “Subversion,” as well- but with the results I’ve achieved with just the mascara by itself- the primer may not be necessary.

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Product # 5: Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk ($19.50)

For as long as I can remember, dry shampoos- specifically aerosol ones- have been one of my biggest enemies. I have yet to find one that hasn’t left behind some sort of residue, or smelled foul, or made my hair somehow feel LESS clean than before I’d applied it. I don’t know if it’s because of my curls, or because my hair is pretty thick- but I always inwardly cringe whenever I receive one in a beauty subscription service- and August’s Ipsy bag was no exception. Despite my skepticism, I tried this spray from Klorane anyway- covering just my roots from a few inches away and letting it absorb into my scalp for a couple of minutes before I attempted to brush away the excess. I say “attempted” because much like the other dry shampoos I’ve tried- this one didn’t absorb well at all- and instead left chalky residue on my scalp.

I will say that this product smelled a lot better than other dry shampoos I’ve received in the past- but it wasn’t enough to win me over.

Would I Purchase?: No. Again, these aerosol sprays are just not for me at all. I think this shampoo would work fine for someone with straight or fine hair, where it would be easier to distribute evenly and brush through- but for me- it was just messy.

August’s Ipsy Bag wasn’t the worst I’ve received by any means, but with only two products I really liked and one I’m still on the fence about- I’m hoping September’s will have a better selection of quality samples to try.

Lionesse Gem Skin Care.

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When a representative from Lionesse Gem Skin Care recently reached out to me to ask if I would be interested in reviewing some of their products with a handful of selected bloggers, I was flattered and floored. I am always on the prowl for new brands and cosmetics/skin and hair care to try- and after some correspondence and a little bit of research of my own into the brand and their history- I eagerly agreed.

A little blurb from Lionesse about their company and customers:

“Lionesse Beauty Bar is a luxury boutique offering high-end beauty products and professional makeovers. Our stores are located in California, Las Vegas, Canada, and Singapore.

The Lionesse is a sexy vixen that takes control of her life with style. Every man wants her and women want to be her. She is fierce, strong, stunning, and comfortable in her own skin. She glides down the street with unwavering confidence as if it’s her very own runway… She owns it.”

The Lionesse Gem Skin Care line is comprised of five collections, each based off of a precious gemstone (White Pearl, Black Onyx, Amber, Yellow Sapphire, and Diamond, respectively-) and each collection is designed to target different concerns for different skin types using unique combinations of vitamins, brightening and anti-aging ingredients.

Now, I try to keep myself on a bit of a budget when it comes to beauty products. I DO splurge every now and then to treat myself, but if I bought every product I saw and wanted on a whim- so, so many of my bills would go unpaid and I’d probably be siphoning gas to fuel my car. That being said, my jaw hit the floor when I first saw the price points of Lionesse’s collections. Ranging from $1,300 – $6,000, with $400 eye creams and $600 serums- I needed a moment to recover. Would I ever be able to afford this stuff? With weeks of saving and some sacrifice, sure- but would I want to spend that kind of money? Would dropping that kind of cash be worth it? To answer those questions- I turned to the products themselves.

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Lionesse was gracious enough to send me two full-sized products for my skin type: the facial peel from the Amber Collection ($300) and the Vitamin C serum from the White Pearl Collection ($400) along with detailed directions on how and when to use each. I’ve been testing them out over the past few days, and am ready to weigh in on the results.

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Amber Facial Peel:

“Banish filth and all its cohorts. This gentle formula works to remove toxins, dirt and oil from your skin. Formulated with Vitamin A (Retinyl Palmitate) and Vitamin E (Tocopheryl Acetate), your skin will feel rejuvenated and fresh.” – From Lionesse’s website.

As directed, I’ve used this peel just a couple of times over the past few days (it’s not for everyday use) to clean out my pores and even out my skin’s tone and texture. I had a product similar to this years ago and had loved it- only to find out it had been discontinued when I went to replenish my bottle, and up until now- I’ve been unable to locate anything like it. Using a small amount, I spread the gel-like substance all over my face, and wait about five minutes before I begin to gently massage it with my fingertips in circular motions to exfoliate my skin. Once the peel begins to flake off, I rinse my face with cool water, pat dry with a clean towel- and then moisturize as usual.

Even after only a couple of uses, my skin looks and feels smoother, appears brighter, and even feels a little tighter- which I didn’t think was possible. This product isn’t abrasive at all, which is also a plus for those with sensitive skin. The only downside to this peel, and it’s nothing major- is that some of the flakes that form when massaging it into the skin pre-rinse don’t come off so easily, and have to be picked off prior to moisturizing- which can be a little uncomfortable. Other than that, though- this product has been working well for me and will more than likely become a part of my weekend deep-cleansing regimen.

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White Pearl Vitamin C Serum:

“Unveil your greatest potential. This serum replenishes your skin with vital nutrients to maintain the skin’s youthful appearance and luminescence. This potent product will reduce the evidence of time and wear to create smoother, softer looking skin.” – From Lionesse’s website.

Like the Amber Facial Peel, this highly concentrated serum is not designed for everyday use. I’ve been using this every other night before bed after cleansing my skin and without applying moisturizer afterwards (the serum doesn’t sink into the skin super fast, so extra hydration isn’t really necessary.) When I wake up in the morning after each use, my skin is glowing, and feels really, really soft. Also like the Amber Facial Peel, a little goes a LONG way with this serum- so applying a ton of the product isn’t necessary at all. Only a pump, maybe two- is enough to give your face even coverage.

Side, somewhat unrelated note: this serum smells really, really good- like a mixture of different types of fruit. I’m liking it a lot.

THE VERDICT:

With their chic packaging, interesting gemstone-inspired collection concept, and skin care that has a nice, not-too-thick consistency- Lionesse definitely grabbed my attention. Based purely off of the results I’ve achieved so far- I’m a fan of both of the products they sent me to review. My skin continues to look and feel great as I use the peel and the serum, and with how concentrated they are- both full-sized bottles will last me a long time since I don’t have to apply an excessive amount with each use- and only have to use them a couple of times per week at the most.

Again, the only thing that makes me, and would probably make anyone on a budget wince- is the price per product and the price of an entire collection. Would I re-purchase the peel and the serum? Yes- but probably not for a while and probably not both at the same time- since such an investment ($700) would require some serious saving, and probably a little more overtime at the office. If these products and collections were a little more affordable, I wouldn’t be so hesitant- and would probably go on a bit of a shopping spree- because they ARE great quality and they DO give really good results.

I want to thank Lionesse for being so generous in letting me try these products. The opportunity is greatly appreciated. You can find and connect with Lionesse Gem on Facebook and Twitter!

*Note: All opinions in this post are entirely my own. I do not work for, nor was I paid by Lionesse Gem Skin Care to write these reviews.*

A Visit to Boston Comic-Con ’14!

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I was actually getting ready to photograph the guy on the right when the guy on the left showed up. The two of them were so adorably excited that they had on the same costume. I had to snap a photo of them both!

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I ran into a little trouble in the Artists Alley.

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This guy right here.

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Wilfred!

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I found my twin, Daryl- and big brother Merle!

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SO. MANY. DEADPOOLS. This group just kept getting bigger and bigger with every Deadpool cosplayer that came into the mix. You can’t really see the bubble someone held above them, but it says “I hope no one has the same outfit.”

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The cutest little Sharknado ever.

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And the cutest little Harley!

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Sorry, Rick. No one ever knows where CAR-UHL is.

I thought for sure that after San Diego Comic-Con, I’d be convention’d out through October, at least- but yesterday afternoon I found myself once again donning my Daryl Dixon costume and heading down to check out Boston Comic-Con 2014 at the Seaport World Trade Center for a few hours. The photos above, some taken with my cell phone (it’s very difficult to juggle a cell phone, camera, and a crossbow all at once, by the way,) were some of my favorite cosplays and props that I saw while perusing the exhibitors hall. I ran into a couple of familiar faces- which is always a treat- and I met a lot of really fun people, too. Shout-outs to the other Walking Dead enthusiasts I got to pose with!

The convention was a lot busier than last year’s, which made stopping to shop around with such a large crowd milling about at any given time a little difficult. Ultimately, I didn’t take home anything save for a few pamphlets and flyers. I think it may have been for the best, anyway- since I already spent enough money in California.

There were some great guests in town for B.C.C. this year, including James Marsters, John Barrowman, and Jason Momoa- but the one I was most excited to see was none other than Darryl “DMC” McDaniels from Run D.M.C., who has his own comic book coming out later this year. With good timing on my part, I made it into Darryl’s panel, and with my knowledge of useless movie trivia- I answered a question correctly prior to the panel’s start-time and got to sit in the front row- as well as have a moment with the man himself backstage afterwards. The panel was a lot of fun, and Darryl is such a kind, sweet, down-to-Earth guy. Getting to see him was the highlight of my day.

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Darryl and Daryl.

I had such a great time, but with a fully-loaded work week ahead of me, I’ve got to hang up my angel winged vest (for now!) and get some much needed rest.

On a Personal Note…

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Belchertown, Mass. August 2014.

Belchertown, Mass. August 2014.

When I first started writing Legally Redhead, I had intended for it to be a lifestyle blog: a little bit of everything from my love of makeup, to my travels, to my unusual affection for bad horror movies, to fashion, food, urban exploration and photography- and everything in between. For the most part, I’ve stuck with that formula- pumping out a couple of posts per week that delve into subscription boxes, recipes, time spent with friends in and around town, adventures at comic-conventions (Boston Comic-Con is this weekend!) or in the wilderness, movie reviews and the occasional giveaway. I love blogging. I love connecting with people from all over the world and from all walks of life. I admire and appreciate every single one of you who follow Legally Redhead or read it on a regular basis. It means the world to me and I hope you’re all enjoying the content I deliver as much as I enjoy putting it together.

This being a lifestyle blog, of course- I do have to occasionally blog about some of the more personal aspects of my life- even if they’re not always fun and upbeat. Some of you may remember my post from June of last year where I opened up about my struggle with an anxiety disorder and coping with my father’s death, for example.

Don’t get me wrong- I consider myself so, so blessed that my life is overwhelmingly positive. I have wonderful friends, a loving and supportive family, a great job that I look forward to going to (almost) every day, an adorable and mischievous dog- and financial stability and freedom that I achieved through hard work and perseverance. I am grateful.

So the reason for this post, some of you may be wondering? Well, there’s one aspect of my life I rarely blog about. Sure, I tweet about it sometimes- but the discussions and conversations are usually kept at a minimum and in private (and are usually hysterically vulgar and raunchy depending on the audience and the overall mood at the time.) I’m talking about my romantic and sex life. I consider myself pretty open in that I’m blunt and willing to discuss pretty much anything- but when it comes to publicly declaring my affections for someone I’m spending a lot of time with- especially on my blog- I’m a little more reserved. I do value some privacy, to an extent. It’s always nice to have a little mystery and keep some things to myself.

However I know a few people were concerned and curious with a few brief updates I’d made on social media over the past couple of days, and I wanted to clarify what they meant on here where I have more than 140 characters!

I was recently preparing to make a pretty big change in my life: specifically, I was going to be moving in with a dear, longtime friend of mine that I suppose you could say I was dating depending on how you look at it. I digress. I was on the verge, mere weeks away, from packing up my things and moving out to Western Massachusetts to live in the lovely town of Northampton with said dear friend by September 1st. I had mentioned it in my “In a Nutshell” post for July, and at the time- was nearly done making plans to re-locate. Despite the change in scenery, I was going to keep my job, since I never mind spending time in my car- even when it’s during a commute (that, and I can’t completely leave the city behind!) Ultimately, I’d like to live in San Diego- but this move seemed like a step in the right direction.

I was nervous, definitely frazzled- but excited nonetheless. I love the area- which is always buzzing with activity and has so many unique nooks and crannies to discover and explore, is a forty minute drive away from my mom and older brothers- and an hour and a half away from my friends. I was eager to paint, redecorate, cook in a new kitchen, and do all the fun things that typically come with getting a new place. More than anything, I was positively elated at the idea of living with someone I know, trust, and care very deeply for in a cozy, chic apartment downtown.

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Belchertown, Mass. August 2014.

Unfortunately, my guy-friend and would-have-been roommate received a once in a lifetime temporary job offer out of state earlier this week, and accepted it- which is not surprising at all since he had been holding out hope for it. The move could have still happened for me, since living in a semi-new town on my own for a few months until he returned to the area didn’t seem too terrible- but the job has the potential to become permanent after the trial period is up- meaning that I may never see him again, and if I do- it won’t be for a very, very long time. Not exactly comfortable with looking for roommates on Craigslist (nobody can fault me for that one,) and not knowing anyone in my current area who would be eager to drop whatever they have going on to move an hour or so West on such short notice- I begrudgingly had to give up what would have been our apartment and scrap my plans to move while preparing myself to say goodbye to my friend when he leaves in a couple of weeks.

I’m hurt, sure. Disappointed? Absolutely- maybe even a little angry (mostly because of the disappointment and the fact that I had really, really wanted to get new furniture. Argh!) but I’m trying to keep my head up besides the setback and continue moving forward. I’m happy for my friend. I’ll miss him, but I know he’s going to be a tremendous success in his new endeavors.

As for me- it looks like I’ll be staying right where I am for now, which isn’t a bad thing at all. I’d still like to re-locate to the Northampton area eventually, maybe with more time and preparation. It won’t happen overnight- but I’m confident I can make it work sooner than later.

And that’s it- the disastrous failed moving debacle in all it’s frustrating glory! My apologies if I’ve been aloof or seemed like a bit of a Debbie Downer over the past few days to anyone! I’m just in the process of bouncing back from this minor setback.

I do want to say a big thank you to those who had reached out to me when they heard the news and attempted to cheer me up or take my mind off of it all together (usually by forwarding hilarious .gifs to my inbox.) You guys are the best!

xox

The Life Aquatic.

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The last time I went to Mystic Aquarium, I don’t think I’d turned 21 yet- and I also think I may have called out of my job at the time just so that I could make the trip to Connecticut with some of my friends (who also may have called out of their jobs, too. None of us were exactly responsible back then.) Before that, spending a day in Mystic was a family Summertime tradition for years- only gradually fading out as my brothers and I got old enough where we could bring ourselves or go with friends whenever we felt like it.

Much like Roger Williams Park Zoo’s efforts, Mystic has the distinction of not only being a great place to view so many species of fish and sea mammals in one convenient location- but the facility is also a leader in oceanic research and in the education of how to care for and protect the marine life within and around the waters. Their conservation efforts over the years have been really admirable- and there are so many ways visitors and locals can get involved to help, too.

This past Sunday, having a lazy afternoon with no concrete plans- my friend Stef and I decided to head down to Mystic for the remainder of the day (coincidentally enough, Stef was with me during the last pilgrimage there before I turned 21, too.) to look at the penguins, sharks, and seals. The place was crawling with temperamental toddlers, so we didn’t stay long- but we had a nice time for the couple of hours we were there- especially in the “Titanic” inspired exhibit within the indoor 4-D theater area. I’m not sure how long that particular exhibit will be on display, but it’s worth checking out if you’re in the area and need to escape screaming children for 15-20 minutes.

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Directly across from Mystic Aquarium is Olde Mistick Village, which was also a yearly stop for my family and I when I was a kid. OMV, which hasn’t changed much over the years- is just a series of pathways, small restaurants, and shops. When Stef and I left the aquarium, we headed over and perused a few different clothing boutiques, natural remedy shops, and even a store that specialized in Wicca/Pagan materials until we started getting hungry and headed towards downtown Mystic to grab some food.

Unlike the area on the Mystic River that I’m most familiar with (Chelsea,) downtown Mystic, CT. is charming and full of activity. While we were stopped in traffic, both Stef and I couldn’t help but comment in disbelief at how cute it all was. I’d like to go back before the Summer is over and take a few more photos of the area before it gets blanketed by snow- and check out the farmer’s market I saw advertised on a banner.

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It took a little searching, and more than one missed turn, but Stef and I eventually found a spot she’d located on her phone and thought we should try for dinner on Sunday night: Captain Daniel Packer Inne, which as you can probably guess- is an old inn turned restaurant/pub. Besides the really cool interior, the place also had some of the best food I’ve ever tasted- including but not limited to the salted caramel gelato I dove into when I was done chowing down on dinner. So, so good.

The entire afternoon/evening was such a nice time- such a wonderful way to end the weekend (and technically begin the week.)

GLOSSYBOX: July 2014 Review.

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I had anticipated my July GlossyBox arriving while I was in San Diego, what with it being close to the end of the month and all- and I was right- which is a shame, considering I could have gladly used some of the samples I received while on the West Coast- especially the body cream and GlamGlow mask.

I digress. The fine folks over at GlossyBox couldn’t have possibly predicted I’d be out of state when they shipped July’s goods, so I was content with trying them out when I got home. It’s better late than never, after all.

WHAT I RECEIVED:

Malin+Goetz Mojito Lip Balm

GlamGlow YOUTHMUD Tinglexfoliate Treatment

Mitchell and Peach Body Cream

Philip B. pH Restorative Detangling Toning Mist

Skin Inc. Skin Supplement Bar Custom-Blended Brightening Serum

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Product # 1: Malin+Goetz Mojito Lip Balm ($12)

I had actually received a full-sized tube of this lip balm in an Ipsy bag back in January, where I was left on the fence as to whether or not I’d purchase it in the future. Since then, my feelings haven’t changed much. It’s a good, moisturizing, long-lasting balm with a non-sticky consistency- but the tube is small- a little too small for $12. Oddly enough, the sample I received in July’s GlossyBox wasn’t full-sized, but still had a more convenient applicator tip than the one that arrived in January. If there’s logic there- I’m failing to see it.

Would I Purchase?: Maybe (again!) If I keep receiving this product, I’ll never have to purchase it- but I’m still indecisive as to whether or not I would actually spend the cash if and when the time comes. I don’t mind splurging now and then, but $12 for .35 ounces is just a little excessive, in my opinion. It’s a good balm- it is- but it doesn’t have a “wow” factor for me. I get the same results by using Carmex, which is a fraction of the price for the same exact amount of product per tube.

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Product # 2: GlamGlow YOUTHMUD Tinglexfoliate Treatment ($69)

In the GlamGlow collection, I’ve owned the SUPERMUD Clearing Treatment, a mask that has given me phenomenal results every time I’ve used it- which is once every couple of weeks to keep my pores clear. I’ve seen the YOUTHMUD Tinglexfoliate Treatment before, and had been tempted to try it- but was reluctant to drop the $69 in case it didn’t work as well as SUPERMUD, or worse- caused some kind of reaction. July’s GlossyBox had me covered, though- offering me a nice sample size of the product. My skin, still adjusting to airplane cabin pressure, West Coast-then-East Coast climates, and the fake blood from my Daryl Dixon cosplay- was in desperate need of deeper cleansing and extra exfoliation- so I broke out the Tinglexfoliate to work it’s magic.

The name doesn’t lie. Shortly after applying this mask all over my face, it definitely tingled as it dried. What I didn’t expect were the pieces of green tea leaves that were mixed into the formula and stuck in little clumps all over my skin. I did a double take on more than one occasion when I noticed one on my cheek or along my forehead. When the clay finally dried and it came time to rinse the mask off, I rubbed the then-dampened exfoliants into my skin with circular motions- and I could definitely feel them. They were pretty abrasive.

Once my face was gently pat dry, my skin looked and felt smoother, cleaner, and clearer. I followed up with a lightweight moisturizer to prevent my face from drying out- and I’m quite pleased with the results!

Would I Purchase?: Yes! I think when I’ve finished the last of my tub of SUPERMUD, I’ll be making the switch to YOUTHMUD to use as a weekly/bi-weekly treatment. It cleans out my pores the same way that SUPERMUD does, but has more exfoliation- which I find I need every now and then. Both treatments are the same price, too- so I wouldn’t be spending more for the YOUTHMUD, which is always a plus.

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Product # 3: Mitchell and Peach Body Cream ($61)

I’ve never been to Kent, but from the way a lot of beauty product companies based in or around there describe it,  I envision beautiful rolling hills, lush greenery, picturesque sunsets, and large, beautiful homes surrounded by quaint little communities (basically any of the scenes from the 2005 version of “Pride & Prejudice,” really.) I’ve wondered if the majority of Kent is self-aware of their status as a beacon of luxury, and if so- what they think of it.

Mitchell and Peach are one of those companies, and their body cream- packed with vitamins, pure honey, organic cocoa, floral essential oils, and shea butter- is touted as being “from the Mitchells’ fifth-generation estate in Kent, England.”

The body cream smells strong at first- with the floral oils taking over- but it eventually fades as the cream is rubbed in, after which more of the honey can be detected. Texture wise, the cream is nice. It’s not too heavy and yet not too watery- and it quickly sinks into the skin without leaving behind residue or any kind of greasiness. The results are long lasting, too. It’s a great everyday body moisturizer.

Would I Purchase?: Yes! I love body moisturizers that don’t take forever to rub into my skin but don’t deprive me of hydration, either. This body cream is lightweight, but it packs a punch- leaving my skin soft, smooth, and (eventually) lightly fragranced for hours. $61 might be considered a high price point, but this really is a good product, and one I’d purchase to treat myself- or give as a gift to someone else.

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Product # 4: Philip B. pH Restorative Detangling Toning Mist ($24)

As someone with naturally thick, curly hair- I can recall many memories from my childhood of tearing up while my mother frantically saturated me with Johnson’s detangling spray and tried to un-knot my poor, frizzy ends before sending me off to school. Thankfully, my hair has become more manageable with time and practice- and products for curly hair have come a very long way. This milky textured, color-safe leave-in detangling spray from Philip B. is a perfect example of that. Described as having the ability to “adjust the pH of tap water to seal the cuticle of your hair, for a remarkably smooth, shiny finish,” (science!) this spray is also infused with apple cider vinegar- which is right up there with coconut oil in being a natural, multi-purpose product with numerous benefits.

The problem with apple cider vinegar, however- is that it doesn’t exactly smell good- and unfortunately for this hair mist- it’s ALL you can smell when you’re spritzing it into your locks. Yes, it goes away- more quickly when you begin to style your hair as usual with your everyday products, but the first whiff of the stuff is off putting, to say the least.

In terms of results: I didn’t see any. My hair didn’t look any more or less frizz-free and shiny than usual. It didn’t de-tangle anymore than when I use my leave in oils and products. I can’t say for certain if this is a product that would work better on straighter hair- but for me- it didn’t do much of anything.

Would I Purchase?: No. Putting aside the eye-watering smell of vinegar omitting from this product- it did not give me noticeable results, and after using it a few times to see if I could detect a gradual difference- I eventually went back to using my regular products and skipped over this one entirely.

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Product # 5: Skin Inc. Skin Supplement Bar Custom-Blended Brightening Serum ($45)

I will openly admit that when I first laid eyes on this serum, my initial thought was “I’m going to feel like a chemist when I use this.”

Skin Inc. is a pretty interesting concept, because rather than just mass producing serums or creams that target any one specific product for any one specific skin type- and therefore leaving out other people that don’t fit into that bracket- they also fine-tune their products to an individual based on the person’s needs and concerns by using their SKINCheck identification system and creating a personalized product that is then mailed directly to that person’s address. Their serums are pure, highly-concentrated, and lightweight on the face.

In July’s GlossyBox, I received the custom “Blended Brightening Serum,” and applied as directed- after cleansing my skin and before my moisturizer. The serum spread evenly and sank into my skin very quickly- so using a lot wasn’t necessary. I noticed even after putting my makeup on that the texture of my skin looked smoother, and upon closer inspection- that I seemed to have developed more of a natural, healthy glow.

Would I Purchase?: Yes! Even though I really enjoyed the results I got with the “Blended Brightening Serum,” and would purchase it in the future- I’d actually like to try custom-creating my own serum through Skin Inc.’s lab, too. Brightness isn’t necessarily a concern for me at this point in my life- so it’d be interesting to develop a pre-moisturizer serum to target problematic areas: i.e. the occasional breakout, dry patches, etc. I do think the serum I received in July’s GlossyBox is lovely for every day use, of course.

Overall, I was pleased with July’s GlossyBox. While the detangling spray fell flat and the lip balm didn’t exactly blow my mind- the other three deluxe samples were a lot of fun to try and are definitely products I would purchase in the future.

July 2014: In a Nutshell.

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I just got this in my e-mail. Completely forgot I had posed for this in California!

Hello (again!) from Massachusetts. Despite some unusual weather- including a tornado that touched down not too far away a couple of days ago- I’ve made it home safe and sound from California and have spent the past few days recuperating from jet lag, returning to the office to get back to work, and fighting off a mild case of “convention cough” that showed up following my long weekend at San Diego Comic-Con.

Indeed, SDCC was- without question- the highlight of July. Months worth of anticipation, scheduling, and costume preparation since early Spring led up to the big event and paid off with an unforgettable experience that I’ll cherish forever. I covered pretty much everything in my last few entries from SoCal- but there really aren’t enough words to properly describe just how incredible and chaotic (but still fun!) the weekend was. Now I can see why people practically fight to the death to get tickets/badges- and although I’m still a little too exhausted to participate in any pre-registration bloodshed anytime soon- I really hope I get to return again next year.

The view from my hotel room in San Diego. 7/26/14.

The view from my hotel room in San Diego. 7/26/14.

Apart from San Diego Comic-Con, July was a lovely month- mostly spent at the beach and cookouts in the company of friends when I wasn’t packing or putting the final touches on costumes. There’s just a few more weeks of Summer left (NOOOOOOOOOO!) which means I’ve got to get in as much time as I can at the ocean before it gets too cold to even think about heading to the coast again. I’m also in the process of planning a – gasp! – possible move to Western Massachusetts in the Fall, which will undoubtedly take up a lot of time, too- but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

As much fun as July was and as many strides as I’ve taken in recent weeks towards big changes in the future- the month was, unfortunately- not without tragedy. A good friend of mine from high school passed away recently at the entirely too young age of 27, which came as a complete shock to myself and many others in my graduating class, and was a sobering reminder of how short and precious life can be. Tomorrow morning I’ll be heading back to my old town to pay my respects with other mutual friends. It’s not the most ideal way to begin August by any means, but I’m trying to find comfort in the fact that there will be so many wonderful stories shared from our younger years and about what an incredibly kind, fun, easy-going, and genuinely decent guy our dearly departed was. It’s nice to reminisce and talk about the good times- because it helps get you through the bad ones.

xox