November Hits List!

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I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend! Mine was spent in the company of my family and friends (for the first of two annual “Friendsgivings”. The second and larger of the gatherings usually happens shortly after New Years when it’s easier to coordinate a dinner with so many people after the hectic holiday season winds down and schedules open up a bit more!) and also putting in a bit of overtime at work.

December and Christmas are upon us- but before I bid a fond farewell to the roller coaster that was November and focus on getting my decorations set up and my gift shopping list organized- I wanted to share some of my favorite things from this past month, first!

There’s only a few things I photographed- but plenty of other random things that made the list, too!

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I used to snicker at jokes about “basic bitches” who collected UGG boots and drank pumpkin spice lattes all the time- until I turned into one, anyway. While these boots are not UGG brand- they are just as comfortable for half the price. I’ve been sporting these almost daily since we haven’t seen more than an occasional flurry of snow around here lately. The faux-fur lining on the inside keeps my feet warm and dry, and walking or standing for any length of time feels like I’m simply wading through marshmallows. These boots are super cozy and go with just about any pair of skinny jeans, leggings or tights.

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Speaking of being cozy. Now that it’s considerably more chilly outside (and sometimes indoors, too)– I’ve been bundling up in anything with Sherpa material underneath my winter coat for extra warmth. I’m particularly fond of this lined flannel pullover with Sherpa material around the collar. I usually bring this to work with me to put on at my desk in case there’s a draft. It’s long enough to wrap around me but it’s still chic- so I don’t look like I’m wearing a bathrobe in public or anything.

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While my home typically smells like pine, gingerbread, peppermint and vanilla (with a hint of brown sugar) around the holidays- I thought I’d add a touch of something new this year and purchased one of Yankee Candle’s new “All Is Bright” jars. The fragrance- a freshly popped bottle of champagne- is already getting me ready for New Years. It’s sweet and bubbly- just like the drink. If you see this candle around- definitely grab one. It’s lovely!

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I received a sample of this brightening moisturizer with SPF 15 from Garnier with a recent purchase of my usual micellar water- and I’ve been hooked ever since. This oil-free formula is lightweight, loaded with vitamins, keeps my skin feeling soft all day, and has visibly evened out my complexion (which usually gets a little blotchy and patchy with the dropping temperatures) with continued use. I’ve already picked up a full-size tube for when I run out of the decently-sized sample- and I plan on using it religiously throughout the Winter.

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Finally, in an attempt to cut back on my spending for the holidays (and overall, really)– I’ve started taking the time to prepare my own coffee in the morning using my K-Cup brewer instead of making speedy early morning stops at local cafes. I’ve been loading up on homemade peppermint mocha lately (with a touch of chocolate flavored creamer. So good!) and my mom was kind enough to pick up this spill-proof and durable Vera Bradley travel mug for when I head to work. It’s definitely better for the environment than multiple discarded plastic and Styrofoam cups- and the painted feather design is really pretty.

And now, onto some of the other odds and ends!

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

  • The Killers – “Don’t Waste Your Wishes”: Now that’s it acceptable and not way-too-early to listen to Christmas music, I strongly recommend The Killers’ new album- a compilation of all of their holiday singles- to benefit charity. While “A Great Big Sled” and “Don’t Shoot Me Santa” will forever be my all-time favorites, hearing Brandon talk about his childhood in the album’s closing cover of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” is especially poignant, too.
  • TCM’s Natalie Wood Marathon: This past month, on the nights when I would get home from work and just wanted to veg out on my couch or in bed- I flipped on any one of the TCM’s choice Natalie Wood (one of my favorites) movies since she was the network’s star of the month. I loved re-visiting “Rebel Without A Cause” and “West Side Story”- but “Searchers” and “Kings Go Forth” were fun to see for the first time, too.

– MISCELLANEOUS –

  • Planning my New Years: 2016 was, essentially, a dumpster fire- and a year I plan on giving the proper attention and criticism it deserves for my “In A Nutshell” post at the end of December. Until then, I’ve been starting preparations for my New Years Eve- and while I’m keeping quiet on what my final farewell to this past year that was will look like- I can say that the details have me very excited. It’s nice to have something to look forward to considering how rough 2016 has been so far. Not just for me- but for a lot of others, too.

And I think that’s pretty much it for my November hits! As always- if you’d like to share your own list of favorites for the month- feel free!

Have a great Monday!

xx

October Hits List!

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When I said this past October was insanely busy, I wasn’t kidding. My days were so packed, in fact- that I’m only just now getting around to sharing a few of my favorite products/items/odds & ends from the past few weeks before I go and do my part as an American citizen and vote in this year’s election and then spend the next few hours fighting nausea as I wait for the results to come in. I’ve honestly never been more terrified of politics than I have been this past year- and it all comes to a head tonight.

I fully plan to talk about this bizarre, ugly and embarrassing Presidential race and election for my end of the year wrap-up post- but for now I want to focus on the good things I liked throughout last month while I try to avoid the sobering realization that my country could very well be heading into an actual apocalypse within the next few hours.

As always, to start things off- here’s the things I was able to photograph, first:

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The first two items are those accidental finds we’ve all come across when we’re on the road or away from home and realize a little too late that we forgot to pack something. In this instance, it was makeup remover and concealer- which resulted in a pit-stop at a local pharmacy to see what I could scrounge up on short notice. The first things I picked up were these black-colored charcoal wipes from Yes To! I love this makeup remover- because it takes everything off with  couple of swipes and purifies my skin without drying me out or feeling too harsh. My skin is left feeling super clean and really refreshed.

Next, I snatched up this full-coverage, but lightweight in texture “Age Rewind” concealer from Maybelline. I know, I know- the sponge applicator is kind of gross after a few uses- but I typically dab this stuff onto my ring fingers and gently tap it around and under my eyes to give myself a more “I actually got some sleep last night” look. This stuff blends with my skin tone perfectly (no discoloration or creasing!) and lasts all day. What I like most, though- is that it hydrates my eye area so they stay soft and smooth even after I remove this at the end of the day.

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October marked another year at my hometown’s ‘Rock & Shock’ convention- where I spent the weekend with friends stocking up on all sorts of horror gear and getting the opportunity to meet and talk to some of my favorite horror actors/actresses- including the talented, funny, and very kind Matthew Lillard (Scream, 13 Ghosts). I also got to see one of my all-time favorite actors/artists again for the first time in a few years- the always amazing Malcolm McDowell.

Naturally, I got a signed photo and picked up the cutest “A Clockwork Orange’ figurine from FUNKO while I was there, too. I couldn’t resist. I’m a sucker for those toys and Alex DeLarge is the character I adopted my pen name since he is one of the worst villains in literature and cinematic history (and doesn’t have to do anything supernatural or magical to pull that off.)

He’s currently sitting proudly and deviously on my desk.

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And finally- Halloween night is hit-or-miss in my neighborhood when it comes to Trick Or Treating. Some years, I get a CRAZY amount of kids at my door, to the point where I worry that I’m going to run out of candy and will have to hand out random things like staplers or Yankee Candles I have around my home- and then other years my street is like a post-apocalyptic wasteland where there isn’t a soul in sight.

Regardless of the outcome, I always stock up on candy in case it’s the former so I won’t be caught off guard- but this year was pretty quiet. Whether it’s because it was chilly, a little damp out from the previous days’ rain- or because Halloween fell on the much dreaded Monday night this time around- I’m not sure. All I know if I have a bunch of leftover candy and it’s been pretty awesome because I have an undeniable sweet tooth.

I’m running low on peanut butter cups, though- which is cause for concern.

And now, onto the other random things!

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

  • “The Walking Dead” – This one goes without saying. This season started off BRUTALLY and it’s just been picking up momentum and intensity ever since. I’ve been loving it. Jeffrey Dean Morgan was the perfect casting choice for Negan and the recent introduction to King Ezekiel and his Kingdom had me so moved that I’m just waiting on edge for more episodes featuring him. There are still so many unanswered questions from the premiere, of course- like where the hell is Maggie and is she okay- but I’m looking forward to the coming confrontations between the different groups and communities.
  • “HarmonQuest” – Sean got me into this one-season-so-far show from Amazon that I’ve nearly finished watching. The premise is simple and silly- three comedians and a weekly guest star play ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ in front of a live audience. Their story is animated as it unfolds. Think “Drunk History”meets an intricate dice game and the results are golden. I’ve never played ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ before but honestly this show has me tempted to give it a try. It’s really funny.

– TECH/APPS/GAMES –

  • “7 Days To Die” – This is another thing Sean got me into when he failed to entice me into playing MineCraft with him since this is essentially MineCraft with better graphics and zombies. We’ve been playing this on PS4 lately and as frustrating as I find most first-person-anything- I’ve been enjoying this. The story is easy enough to follow: the world is overrun with zombies and every 7 days they hunt and attack you in hordes. In-between those attacks- you have to find food, sew clothing/armor, and build shelter and weapons to defend yourself. It includes a fair amount of tree-punching to pick up wood like it’s blockier and less-zombie-filled counterpart- but it’s still fun.

– MISCELLANEOUS –

  • MY NEW CAR!!! – Have I mentioned how much I love my new car? Because I really, really love it. It’s sleek and clean and quiet and beautiful and I absolutely adore driving it. Definitely a highlight of my October and in 2016 in general.

And that, I think- was it for the month of October. Short and sweet! I’m already putting things together for November now that I’ve had some time to stop and breathe for a bit while I catch up on everything I’d inadvertently fell behind with- but we’ll get to that when it’s closer to the end of the month.

I’m off to vote. Good luck, America! I think we’re gonna’ need it.

xx

September Hits List!

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Have I ever mentioned how much I detest packing? Because I really, really detest packing. Once my suitcase is loaded up and I’m on my way to my destination- I’m as happy as can be- but trying to sort out outfits, accessories, toiletries and electronics (and all those chargers!) is nothing short of torture. I’m always left feeling like I forgot something and triple-checking every inch of my bag to make sure the necessities are accounted for.

That’s the stage I’m at right now. My flight leaves tomorrow morning and I’m only halfway done with sorting out my vacation wardrobe for the next week- so I thought I’d take a break, decompress, and use some time to share my favorite things from the month of September, instead!

As always, I’ll be starting with the items/things that are easy to photograph- and move onto some other hits I’ve been enjoying these past few weeks.

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The first item I’ve been wearing non-stop this past September should come as no surprise- it’s the black, wool, wide-brimmed hat I received from Jack & Lucy in this month’s POPSUGAR “Must Have” box! This thing is just so cute and so comfortable- and it pairs well with pretty much every outfit I’ve been sporting so far- whether it’s full-blown Fall-appropriate sweaters, jeans and booties- to rompers and mini-dresses with flats (the weather has been a bit unpredictable lately.)

I’ll be bringing this with me to the West Coast- not only because it looks so chic- but because it’ll keep the sun out of my eyes, too.

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As much as I love my corals, pinks, and neon purple shades of nail polish- it’s time to retire them to make room for more Autumn-friendly colors to sport on my fingertips and toes for the next few months. I recently splurged a bit over at ncLA on these two lacquers from the company’s “Back to School” themed Fall collection- and although it was a tough choice when there was a beautiful red and royal blue available for purchase- I ultimately settled on “These Grades Are Just A Jumping Off Point” (a deep hunter green) and “2” Above The Knee… Yeah, Right” (a rich canary yellow).

I’m absolutely in love with these polishes and I cannot wait to start rocking them once I’m back home next week!

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It’s been a while since I’ve purchased anything from Fortune Cookie Soap– but when they re-released their “Basic Bitch” Fall line (ALL THE PUMPKIN SCENTS)– I snatched up some of their body cream, lip balm, and hand sanitizer. With fun named like ‘Selfie Stick”, “Can’t Even”, and “Yoga Booty”- I have smelled like a pumpkin patch/Starbucks’ PSL for the better part of the month and I’m loving every minute of it.

Best of all? FCS’ products are all SUPER affordable, too!

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I’ve had the same phone for about three or four years now, and we’ve been through a lot together: holidays, birthdays, travel, comic-conventions- but by the time I finally got around to upgrading it a few days ago- only half of the touchscreen worked correctly and the battery couldn’t hold a charge for more than a couple of hours. It was finally time to say goodbye and get something new.

My provider went above and beyond with updating my plan, my billing- and hooking me up with a brand new Samsung Galaxy with one of the most insane and incredible cameras I’ve ever seen on a phone (it rivals my professional camera I use for urban exploration shoots- that’s how clear and innovative it is!) as well as a fabulous “TAKE A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE” pink and black case from Kate Spade.

I’m so thankful to have this with me when I travel. My shots from Vegas and San Diego are going to be awesome!

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What’s a Fall “Hits List” without something from Yankee Candle? While I’ll never get tired of scents like “Harvest” or “Pumpkin Cupcake”- my home has been filled with one of their newest fragrances as of late- “Candied Pecans”. If you’re a fan of sweet and almost peanut buttery scents- you’ll love this one. It smells delicious and really sets the tone for the season. I’m sure I’ll be picking up another one of these soon!

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Finally- I can never have enough oversized sweaters in the fall. I live in them- and this knitted red & white cardigan I picked up from Kohls earlier this month is everything. It’s soft, cozy, and keeps me warm- and I’ll be wearing this tomorrow morning during take-off to keep myself toasty (and looking cute) during the flight.

Now that I think about it- I should probably start doing some Fall-inspired “Closet Crushes” posts, shouldn’t I?

I digress. Let’s see what else I loved in September!

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

  • “Sam’s Town” – Part of my trip to Vegas this week includes a show from The Killers, who are celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the release of their sophomore album (and now I feel super old.) The show is at- you guessed it- Sam’s Town Casino, and I’ve never been more excited. I’ve been revisiting the album in the recent days leading up to my trip, and it really does withstand the test of time. It’s pretty flawless from beginning to end and I’m really looking forward to hearing some of the tracks live again.
  • “Apple Cider Afternoons” – Have you all listened to my Autumn-inspired playlist? I’m quite proud of it. It’s a beautiful combination of dreamy, soothing old favorites and newer tracks. It’s perfect to plug into your phone/music player when you’re going for a long walk through the falling leaves or a nice drive to your closest apple orchard.

That’s enough self-promotion. I swear.

  • “American Horror Story: S6” – I’m pretty sure I’ve just been hate-watching the past couple of seasons of AHS, which always start off so strong and then completely fall apart with excess characters and storylines that go absolutely nowhere by mid-season. Although this current season is only a couple of episodes in so far, I’m liking the premise and how there isn’t too much happening at once. I hope it can stay consistently strong and scary (also: where is Evan Peters? Where is he?)

I think that’s pretty much everything for this month. I’ve procrastinated enough- and now it’s time to get back to packing!

Feel free to share your own favorites for the month of September in the comments- and if you’d like to follow my travels over the course of the next few days- I’ll be updating my Instagram regularly!

xx

Mini Sephora Fall Haul!

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Now that Fall is in full swing and I am leaving for the West Coast in a couple of days- I took the time to completely clean out my makeup collection and downsize my necessities considerably. So much stuff got tossed- expired mascara, shadow palettes that were used down to the bare tins, and lipsticks I was scraping at with Q-Tips to get the very last bit of color I could.

Needless to say, I was long overdue for a restock and replenish trip to Sephora– but I also didn’t want to break the bank by purchasing a bunch of products that would either expire before I got a chance to finish them up or be considered out-of-season or style by the time I got around to using them.

So I did the responsible thing: I made a list of what I needed versus what I wanted, I set a budget, and after browsing the store for a good hour- I got some really nice, new stuff- and only went over my budget by a little.

I swear, it was only by a little bit.

So here’s my mini “Fall Haul” post to showcase what I’m loving and what I’ll be wearing through the remainder of the Autumn and into the Winter!

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For my face, I only needed a re-stock of my favorite medium-to-full coverage foundation from Tarte ($39). I love this stuff. It gives me SPF15 protection and is hypoallergenic (and vegan!) while still being efficient enough at hiding my pores and giving me a flawless finish.

I also wanted a pressed powder that I could use for the days I didn’t feel like wearing a liquid foundation or to keep in my bag for quick touch-ups (which I’m sure I’ll need while I’m in the desert!) I turned to Sephora’s own brand of cosmetics and tried their Matte Perfection Powder Foundation ($20)- which feels lightweight on my skin and is perfect for evening out and balancing my more troublesome and oily areas.

I rarely wear bronzer in the Fall/Winter- instead embracing my porcelain complexion- and I already have a brand new blush courtesy of Cargo Cosmetics and my recent POPSUGAR Must-Have Box, so I saved a little money there!

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I also stuck to Sephora’s own makeup line when it came to selecting a couple of new eye shadow singles. I wanted two fairly neutral shades that I could gradually build upon to make into a dramatic smokey eye- or keep subtle and play up with a bold lip color, instead. I didn’t want any blues or deep purples this time around- and instead opted for a shimmery rose gold tone (“What Happens in Vegas”, a fitting name- and $10) to highlight my eyes, and a slightly darker mauve tone for my lids (“Free Hugs”- also $10!)

Both of these colors really bring out the blue in my eyes and are sparkly and noticeable without being overwhelming. They’re tame enough to wear to work and can be accentuated with liners and mascara (that’s next!) to create a more “night-friendly” look, too.

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For eyeliners, I had some difficulty making up my mind between two different shades and types (both from Sephora’s collection)– and I just decided to splurge a bit and get both so I could mix and match. The first shade, “Cappuccino”, is a shimmery brown that glides on easy and stays in place all day. It’s from the Contour Eye Pencil 12-hr Wear Waterproof line and is only $10.

The second, a $14 liner from the Contour Brushed Metal Gel Eyeliner Waterproof line- is a coppery/reddish shimmer shade called “Moscow Mule”. This is another long-lasting formula that really makes my eyes pop. Out of the two liners I picked up, I think this one might be my favorite- but it’s a close call!

Finally, to wrap up my eye looks- I wanted to get a re-fill of one of my favorite mascaras to date- the waterproof “Lights, Camera, Splashes” formula from Tarte ($21). I LOVE the shape of the brush on this mascara, and it really does last forever and a day! It’s wonderful.

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Finally, I wanted to get a couple of new lipsticks for the Fall/Winter- and I went with my trusted and true company- Urban Decay. Both shades are from UD’s Vice line ($17 each)- and both are a creamy texture (but with a matte finish!)

The first shade, “Safe Word”, is a light and neutral nude-pink that I typically wear every day for a more natural look. The second- reserved for those special nights out- is called “Hex”, and is a deep cherry/red wine hue that gives me that vampy look I covet so much this time of year.

After taxes, my total purchase came to $167 and some change. Not bad considering these products are going to carry me through the next few months until my next trip to Sephora. I’m in love with everything I picked out- and I’m sure you’ll all be seeing it make appearances in any upcoming photos I post on here or my social media accounts.

Did any of you splurge on any makeup for the Fall season? Are there any must-have Autumn beauty items you’re getting ready to break out?

Feel free to share!

xx

August Hits List!

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Narrowing down my favorites for the month of August proved to be a somewhat daunting task. With Autumn right around the corner, these last few weeks have been spent frantically trying to hold onto the final days of Summer and savoring the last bit of everything that came with these hot, hazy afternoons and evenings before they transition into some much needed cooler, crisper weather.

August saw me clearing out and using up the last of my Summertime skincare, hair care and makeup in order to make room for my more Fall-appropriate beauty finds- and my wardrobe and accessories have slowly but surely begun evolving from bright florals and tropical tones to more subtle neutrals and rich jewel hues. I’m packing up my maxi dresses, poolside sarongs and beach-friendly sandals and unloading my cozy cardigans, lightweight tights and ankle boots.

Autumn is by far my favorite season- without a doubt- but I’m not quite ready to let go of Summer just yet (Reason #5,342 why I belong on the West Coast!)

I digress. Apart from lots of products loaded with SPF and/or Aloe Vera- here are a few of my miscellaneous favorites from August 2016!

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When I initially dipped back into being a brunette last month, I knew my hair care routine would have to change. I’d have to stop using my shampoos and conditioners designed specifically for red hair (including a couple that actually deposit some color with each wash) in order to keep my chocolate shade from changing or fading out right away. I also didn’t want to break the bank by continuing to purchase pricier products, either- which was part of the reason I went back to my natural color to begin with. I wanted to save some of my money that was otherwise going towards expensive dye/highlight appointments every few weeks (red is the hardest color to maintain, after all!)

I stumbled on the new “Whole Blends” line from GARNIER purely by accident while I was looking for a shampoo that didn’t have red or orange tint to it. My curiosity was piqued by the natural ingredients for each formula (there’s six “Whole Blends” collections to choose from depending on your needs/concerns) and the price had me sold then and there. Lately I’ve been loving the hydrating Coconut Water & Vanilla Milk shampoo, which I only use a couple times a week- and which makes my hair feel clean and soft- not dried out or brittle.

All of the “Whole Blends” masks are great, too- although I think my favorite right now is the “Honey Treasures” one. It deeply conditions and de-tangles my curls and leaves my hair looking and feeling healthy and strong- and it smells awesome.

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During the recent heat wave we had here in Massachusetts- it felt like no amount of fans or air conditioning helped- and I found myself resorting to laying in my bathtub in semi-chilly water as a last ditch effort to cool off and try to relax. I could have used bath bombs to make the experience a bit more pampering- but they tend to work better in hotter water and the idea of even a lukewarm bath nearly had me in tears.

Instead, I turned to bath salts- and specifically the ones from the San Francisco Salt Company– to help me unwind and keep heat stroke away. While I am able to order different types of salts at SFSC’s website, there’s actually a location not far from me where I can choose and package my own depending on the type of fragrance I want. The blue and gold mix pictured above is a blend of ocean-inspired scents and a hint of mimosa- the perfect combination for a Summer send-off, if you ask me. The salts soften my skin and make my entire bathroom smell heavenly.

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I’d like to think I’m pretty open-minded about nearly anything and everything- even things I don’t fully or completely understand or practice- like witchcraft, spells and/or stones. I find those things fascinating nonetheless, and during my recent trip to Mystic, Connecticut- I ended up strolling into the Mystical Elements store in Mystic Village to take a look around. These spell jar candles from Artemisia Botanicals caught my attention almost immediately- not only because of how potent (but nice!) they smelled- but because I thought they’d make cute gifts, too. There’s different candles for a variety of purposes: good health, love, protection, and strength- but I thought this money one was a nice fit considering my desire to move out West.

While I haven’t gotten around to following the instructions on this candle to see if it works and if a fortune comes my way in the near future just yet- it smells nice enough where even if it doesn’t work- at least my home will have a pretty fragrance lingering throughout it for a while.

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I’ve owned the same grey, faux-leather wallet for approximately 6/7 years now- and even when it only recently began falling apart at the seams (literally)– I refused to replace it. It wasn’t until it broke completely, beyond repair and quite embarrassing and disgusting looking- when I traded it in for this new smaller, brighter and more compact wallet from Spartina 449.

The size of this wallet caused me to do a long overdue clean-out of old cards and passes I no longer had use for as I moved all of my stuff over to it- but it still comfortably fits my necessities. Best of all? I love the pattern on this wallet and the pineapple emblem on it’s magnetic clasp. Even though Fall is on it’s way, this will still give me a little bit of Summer every time I reach into my purse.

And with all the photograph-able favorites well, photographed- let’s move onto the other things I loved in August!

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

  • “Fear The Walking Dead” – As much of a fan of the original ‘The Walking Dead’ as I am, it took me a little while to get into this slow-paced spin-off when it first premiered last year. Since then, it’s definitely picked up speed on the action and suspense- and the characters have become more developed and interesting to watch. The second half of season two recently premiered (after a pretty disappointing mid-season finale)– and it’s already showing a bit more promise. I hope it keeps up!
  • ‘Catfish’ – This show might be my guiltiest of guilty pleasures. I’ve been low-key obsessing over this series for five seasons now- each one getting more and more insane and over-the-top- but I can’t stop. I love me some trashy (probably scripted) reality TV. Nev and Max and their bromance for the ages are so entertaining to watch- and the twists always leave me laughing and furiously taking to social media to discuss. The second half of the season premiered this past month and it’s been AWESOME.

– TECH/APPS/GAMES –

  • Snapchat – The last thing I need is an app that gives random guys the capability to send me unsolicited dick pics (even if it’s just for a few seconds at a time) but Sean got me to finally cave and now I’m addicted to Snapchat just like the rest of the world. I have way too much fun fooling around with the filters and messenger.

Have it? Add me! My username is LegallyAshley!

– MISCELLANEOUS –

  • Starbucks’ Iced Coconut Milk Mocha Macchiato – While I am absolutely ready to dive right into some salted caramel mocha (and maybe even some pumpkin spice even though I don’t particularly like the taste)– I’m going to miss this Summertime drink I’ve been chugging nearly every day since it made it’s debut at Starbucks. It’s sweet, creamy and refreshing- and it gives me just enough of a caffeine kick to keep me going without giving me the jitters. I have a feeling I’m going to need to find a recipe to make these at home when Starbucks inevitably removes them from the menu.

And I think that’s it for my August favorites! I’m ready to recap the month of August overall with my upcoming ‘In A Nutshell’ post and prepare to welcome September, Autumn- and a cross-country vacation!

Feel free to share your August favorites!

xx

June Hits List!

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I’ve reserved a few words to describe this month of June 2016, none of which are particularly kind (I’ll get to that in tomorrow’s ‘In a Nutshell’ post,) but one word that stands out- especially this week- is “scorching”. This month was ridiculously hot! I’m not complaining, since I’ll take middle-of-the-desert-like temperatures over snow any day of the week, but I did have to adjust a few things- namely my makeup and my wardrobe- to keep either of them from sliding off of me in my perpetual state of sweaty-ness.

Because of that, my June ‘Hits List’ is filled with mostly necessities and/or odds & ends I’d picked up over the past few weeks to help me beat the heat and decompress as much as possible after some stressful situations I took on and tackled this month.

As per usual, I thought I’d show the material things that are easy to photograph, first- before I dove into music/movies/apps/tech and miscellaneous things that require more of a words-only description.

Let’s take a look!

Last week, during a day of cycling through downtown Boston, grabbing lunch at Paul, and lounging poolside back at the apartment, Sean and I also stopped by my new favorite store- Primark– for an impromptu mini-shopping spree. For those not familiar with the glory that is Primark: think Forever 21 prices meets H&M-but-better quality- add five stories of limitless clothing and accessory options in the heart of Downtown Crossing- and you’ll understand why it’s so appealing and why I could spend hours and hours in there on any given day.

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From our most recent haul, these are three of my favorite finds (not pictured are the two swimsuits and the cover-up I also bought!) The first is this really big, really Summer-y navy blue, tan and gold bag that can hold pretty much all of my work and beach necessities and then some- and which has really cute, very sturdy rope and faux-leather handles that gives it a sort of nautical feel- which we all know I’m a huge fan of. The price of the bag? $14.

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I also picked up this adorable and oversized cream-colored lace hat with brown suede accents for when I’m heading to the pool/ocean/out for a stroll in the sun. At $6- this was a steal- and it matches pretty much everything in my Summer wardrobe. I’ll be getting a lot of use out of this and I’m so excited because it looks great on- and that’s coming from someone who never thought she could pull off the “floppy hat” look properly.

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Finally, when I laid eyes on these $7 canvas sandals with flamingos printed all over them- I knew I had to have them- and considering they are SERIOUSLY SO COMFORTABLE- I’m thrilled I picked them up. If I’m wearing black? I put these on. Pink? I’m sporting these. Any color? These are my new go-to’s. I’m in love.

Good God, I love Primark so much.

Next up is my makeup selections for June- which, given the soaring temperatures- I kept as light and minimal as possible. You’re crazy if you think I’m dropping serious dough at Sephora for products that are going to be melting off of me the second I step outside. I’ve found decent enough dupes/substitutions in my local drug pharmacy- and both my wallet and my face are quite pleased.

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For example, I rediscovered my love of Maybelline’s Dream Fresh BB Cream, which matches my skin tone perfectly and gives me just enough coverage where I look refreshed (and not like I’m wearing a mask) and I have been coveting my #113 shade of Lasting Finish Matte Lipstick from Kate Moss’ collaboration with Rimmel since it gives me a subtle, natural pop of color that compliments my complexion and doesn’t feel sticky/tacky/drying. Most importantly? It stays in place- even when it feels like the rest of me is roasting in the sun.

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In regards to my skin care, I haven’t really changed anything up too drastically this Summer. I’m still using lightweight and oil-controlling moisturizers (and plenty of SPF!) as well as light cleansers and gentle toners- but one addition I’ve made is implementing this gentle grapefruit-infused daily scrub from Yes To into my routine. I like that this scrub cleans out my pores without being abrasive- and it smells really nice, too.

And in the spirit of all things fruit/citrus-scented for the Summer- I’ve also been obsessively slathering this Sparkling Limoncello hand cream from Bath & Body Works all over my palms for the past month. I love citrus scents/flavors in general- but especially in the hotter months (I think it’s because they remind me of my home away from home in Southern California and it’s comforting in a way.) This hand cream is super softening and moisturizing- which is nice after I’ve been in the pool or out on the sand for a while and my skin gets a little prune-ish and dry.

And now, onto the other stuff!

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

  • ‘O.J.: Made in America’ – Not since ‘The Jinx’ has there been a documentary that has been so gripping, so chilling, and so revealing. I was a kid when the “Trial of the Century” went down- but I remember watching the Bronco chase in my parents’ living room, and the big glove-don’t-fit moment- and sitting in my fourth grade classroom listening to a radio broadcast of the verdict and not fully understanding exactly why it was so important but knowing that it was. ESPN’s five-part documentary: detailing O.J. Simpson’s rise to fame, his repeated abuse of Nicole Brown, the murders, the trial- and then his downward spiral  post-acquittal- all with the backdrop of rising racial tensions in Los Angeles at the time O.J. was charged- really shined a light on so many factors to the case that I don’t think a lot of people who tuned in every day saw for themselves or took into consideration.

Featuring interviews with/commentary by Marcia Clark (LOVE HER), Mark Fuhrman (still a piece of garbage), Carl Douglas (still awful), O.J.’s former friends and colleagues, and members of the L.A.P.D. and surviving members of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman’s families- the documentary is definitely worth a binge-watch on your next day off. It’s fascinating- even if there are no real winners by the end of it.

– TECH/APPS/GAMES –

  • ‘Death Stranding’ – Okay, so even though the game hasn’t been released (yet)– can we talk about the weird, semi-creepy trailer from the latest collaboration between Hideo Kojima and Norman Reedus after the game-changing demo ‘P.T./Silent Hills’ fell through? Revealed at this month’s Sony E3 Conference- I have so many questions, no answers- and nothing more than “Norman Feetus” jokes to get me through this until we get a tentative release date and more information. Even still- this looks incredible and I can’t wait to dive into it.

I think that’s pretty much everything for the month of June! I plan on recapping this shit-show of a month tomorrow, but I’ll have more favorites in July!

And as always- feel free to share your own hits for June. I’d love to hear about them!

xx

May Hits List!

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Good Morning and Happy Memorial Day, everyone! I hope those of you who have the long weekend off are savoring it with friends and family, and those of you who have to work through it are surrounded by caring, kind, and fun people to make it a little easier and more enjoyable.

Memorial Day is a lot of things to a lot of different people. For many, including myself, it’s a day to give pause and appreciate those who have died while serving in our country’s armed forces in order to keep the rest of us safe. For many businesses, it’s an excuse to send a ton of spam e-mails and produce tacky commercials advertising low prices and weekend-long sales events…

… But Memorial Day also commemorates the beginning of the Summer season. Cookouts, BBQs, getting a pool or sprinklers ready for impending heat waves and long, lazy days. I’ve been waiting for Summer to arrive for what feels like an eternity- so I’m more than happy to kick off the season with some of my mom’s famous macaroni salad and a juicy burger later on this afternoon at her house.

Now, May was a bit trying for me- the details of which will be shared in tomorrow’s scheduled “In a Nutshell” post- and while I was handling some personal matters, I didn’t quite accumulate a lengthy list of favorites these past couple of weeks. Nevertheless, I did want to share some of the things that helped alleviate a lot of stress throughout the month and products I’ve been seriously praising recently.

So here it is- short, but sweet- my Hits List for May 2016!

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With the hotter weather seemingly here to stay for the foreseeable future- May became all about updating my day & night skin care routines to allow my face and body a chance to adjust and get acclimated to the Summer temps. Gone (for now) are the days of heavy moisturizers to outlast the colder elements and harsh, stripping cleansers- and in are the days of lightweight SPFs and replenishing nighttime creams. I’m thinking of doing an updated skin care post next month to show exactly what I use on my face & body- and when- but here are three products that I implemented into my regimen in May that I’m absolutely loving. From left to right:

I’ve been keeping my hair and makeup as simple as possible lately. Not only because it’s hot out- but because I have to go to work AND squeeze in a workout after I leave the office Monday-Friday (and on Saturdays, too.) I don’t want to spend a lot of time getting ready when I’m just going to be a sweaty mess by the time I get home- but I also don’t want to skip a daily moisturizer and SPF, either. This mattifying, quick-absorbing moisturizer from Cetaphil (with SPF 30) has become a lifesaver in the mornings when I’m on the go. It hydrates my skin without clogging my pores, keeps my face shine-free- and gives me plenty of sun protection when I’m outdoors, too.

Next- I know people have been raving about micellar cleansing water for months, now- and I’m seriously kicking myself for not listening to them sooner. This stuff is a game changer and a must-have for anyone and everyone who wants a quick and efficient way to remove makeup and/or cleanse their skin without leaving behind any kind of greasy residue or worse- drying themselves out. I’ve been using this one from Garnier for a few weeks now in the morning and at night- and it literally pulls the impurities from my skin. I can actually see it working. My skin feels refreshed and cleaner than it does with just a regular cleanser.

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Finally, I have found my new favorite Summertime night cream in the form of this firming night balm from FARMACY. I received this product in a recent POPSUGAR ‘Must Have’ Box and I have been hooked ever since. The product looks and smells like lime Jell-O (just stay with me here) and melts into your skin as you apply it- finally setting in as a lightweight oil that hydrates and firms while you sleep. When I wake up, my skin looks brighter and feels so much softer and smoother. A little goes a long way with this stuff, too- so I know I’ll only need a little bit each night to get through the Summer.

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I have been spending a lot of time outdoors since the weather took a turn for the better, and I plan on spending even more time out in the sun now that Summer is here- but since my hair is (dyed) red- I have to be careful and use the proper products to keep it from fading into an awkward tangerine color. Enter this spray in color-protectant from Not Your Mother’s. After I wash and towel dry my hair- I spray some of this product from root to tip and work it through with my fingers. Then I style as usual. My reds have stayed considerably stronger than they did prior to me using this stuff- and it’s pretty helpful at keeping my frizzy flyaways at bay, too!

My only gripe with this spray is the smell. It kind of reminds me of grape cough syrup and I find myself frantically grabbing for my styling products to mask the fragrance in the seconds after I work it through my curls so I don’t gag.

Next- I am a total germophobe when it comes to my makeup brushes and sponges. I have this whole, intricate system of soaking/scrubbing/drying my tools that can actually take a couple of hours to see through from start to finish. In the Summer- that germophobia gets even worse since sweat is continually thrown into the equation. Thankfully, BeautyBlender threw me a time-saving bone with this solid version of their sponge/brush cleanser. All I have to do to get my blenders/brushes sparkling clean is wet them and swipe them across this solid soap a couple of times and presto! Foundation, dirt, grime and sweat are history!

I especially love this solid cleanser because it lasts way longer than the liquid one- and it works just as good- if not better!

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I had eyed this Prince pillow (as well as it’s tote bag version) from Heart Felt Design months ago- but had never got around to actually ordering one for myself. After Prince’s passing, it seemed like the right time to finally own a version of the legend that I could hug, squeeze, and make my home look really awesome with. This recently arrived in my mailbox and I have been head over heels in love with it since. Each pillow is handmade- with loving and precise detail- and arrives a few weeks after ordering.

Heart Felt Design has a wide variety of items, too- music legends, movie/television/book characters, custom designs and so on. Definitely go check them out if you’re looking for something unique to spruce up your space!

And now, for the stuff I couldn’t photograph!

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

  • Summer Blockbuster Season is upon us! – The new Independence Day movie? ‘Jason Bourne’? ‘Star Trek: Beyond’? ‘Suicide Squad’? I feel like a good chunk of my Summer 2016 is going to be spent in air conditioned movie theaters and munching on popcorn. Although I got a head start catching flicks like the new Captain America movie and Key & Peele’s ‘Keanu’ a couple of weeks ago- I’m really looking forward to shamelessly diving into some over the top action movies this Summer.

– MISCELLANEOUS –

And that is pretty much everything for the month of May! I’m sure now that Summer is officially underway- my list for June is going to be much larger than this month’s Hits List was- and I’m looking forward to it!

And as always, feel free to share your Hits for May 2016 in the comments.

Have a great Memorial Day, everyone!

xx

April Hits List!

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This post is a couple of days late, having just missed the end-of-April deadline I’d set- but I’m not being too harsh on myself considering how busy I was last month. Having the best intentions when it comes to a regular posting schedule is all well and good- but juggling that with the other day-to-day tasks in life, love and leisure can be a bit challenging at times. My hats off to Vloggers who continually create, produce and publish content on a schedule without fail. I don’t know how you all do it without visibly stressing out or losing your composure- but more power to you!

April’s ‘Hits List’ might appear small at first glance- but a lot of these items have helped me tremendously during my past few weekends when traveling out of state- and some of them are just plain old silly fun I’ve been enjoying since the beginning of last month.

Like I’ve done with past installments of this monthly series- I thought I’d start by sharing the items/products that are easier to be displayed and photographed- before I go into things like music, movies, games and television.

Let’s see what made the list last month!

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Carrying over my Springtime/Summertime coconut-scented-everything obsession from body washes, lotions, and candles into my hair styling regimen, these two products- both from OGX– have made my “apply and go” morning hair care routine even more easy and beneficial to my curls these past few weeks. After washing/conditioning my hair and scalp in the shower, I work a few pumps of the clear COCONUT MILK SERUM through my still damp hair to tame frizz and keep my curls glossy and hydrated from root to tip.

After that, I work through the COCONUT CURLS MOUSSE through my hair- again, from root to tip- before letting it air dry. This product defines my curls without making them crunchy or overloaded with sticky product build-up. And of course, both products smell incredible and don’t cause any kind of fading or discoloration to the red dye/highlights I have.

My hair has been looking and feeling on point since I started using both of these products at the beginning of April- effortless but still well put together. I don’t plan on switching up anything in my routine anytime soon- which should make Summer an easy time for styling!

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I am a shameless caffeine addict. I can barely function without my morning latte and the smell of coffee instantaneously puts me in a more relaxed mood- so it seems only fitting that I would turn to my one and only life source by slathering it all over my face/neck/shoulders to combat clogged pores and dryness, right? I have been absolutely LOVING this ‘Cup O’Coffee’ mask/scrub from LUSH lately- and this is a must-have for any other coffee lovers, too!

I typically use this mask 2-3 times a week- mostly in the morning since the scent gives me a nice boost of energy- leaving it on my skin for a good twenty minutes before I gradually rinse/scrub my face by adding warm water. After I pat my skin dry, my face feels smooth and considerably softer- not tight or dried out.

I’m actually running a little low on this product, so I have a feeling I’ll be replenishing within the next week or so.

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When I was in Virginia at the beginning of April, and spending a couple of days in Alexandria- I was quite surprised by how few souvenirs there were to commemorate the little town- especially now that ‘The Walking Dead’ has made the area even more popular. Every gift shop or gas station I stopped by was filled wall-to-wall with Washington D.C. memorabilia- but nothing for Alexandria. No t-shirts. No postcards. Nothing. Nada.

That’s why I was so happy when I spotted this mug on the top of a shelf that was otherwise lined with cheap aluminum replicas of the neighboring National Memorials. I was quick to snatch it up, elated I’d finally found something to mark my brief but wonderful stay- and I’ve been using it to sip my evening tea before bed.

… And maybe also pretending I’m Rick Grimes while I do it- but that’s another story for another day.

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Is there anybody in this world (apart from Robert Downey Jr.) who is more excited about this week’s release of ‘Captain America: Civil War’ than I am? It feels like I’ve been waiting ages for this movie- and all the promotions, appearances, and advertisements have all but turned the days leading up to it finally arriving in theaters into a week-long event in itself. Of course I’ll be there on opening night- popcorn in hand and probably sporting my favorite Winter Soldier hoodie to celebrate!

Knowing how pumped up I am to see the flick, my friends have been picking up assorted odds and ends for me as presents- the most recent being these two FUNKO figurines of Cap and Black Widow to add to my collection. I’ll never get over how cute these things are- although I’m starting to run out of places to display them!

I have a feeling these two will find a home on my desk at work.

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I’m actually surprised I haven’t mentioned Veet up until now considering it’s been a Spring/Summer staple-slash-lifesaver of mine since my Junior year of high school (yes, really.) I use this gel cream hair remover once a week or every couple of weeks in-between touch-up shaving and it keeps my legs (and arms, depending on how fuzzy they’re looking) smooth and stubble free for DAYS with no irritation and no dryness. I swear by this stuff.

I’ve heard complaints from people who have tried NAIR, another similar brand, and stated they were burned or the product just flat-out didn’t work for them- and honestly I’ve experienced similar issues when I’ve used NAIR- but I’ve never had an issue with Veet. As long as you follow the instructions, don’t leave it on for too long, and make sure to exfoliate and apply some lotion after use- this will be your new best friend in the warmer months. I promise you.

And yes, for curious minds- they have other formulas, too- for face, the bikini area, etc. Just make sure to read the directions before use and you should be just fine and silky smooth in no time!

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And finally, since Prince’s passing- I’ve been re-visiting my vinyl collection as I own a couple of his albums through years of thrifting with friends- and seeing some of what I’ve accumulated over time has been a tremendous amount of fun in recent days. My favorite so far, I have to say, is a copy of Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ I bought for about $3 circa 2006/2007 at a Salvation Army near my hometown. Inside the album, I found a series of magazine clippings from the 80s and fan drawings by a girl named Pam (dated 1983) who I can only assume is the previous owner of the record.

Once I’m done re-organizing my collection (and playing ‘Purple Rain’ some more)– I think I’m going to try to track Pam down to return her drawings to her. They’re quite nice!

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

  • ‘Preacher’ – I should really consider buying stock in AMC these days considering how much they own my Sunday nights. ‘Preacher’, set to debut on May 22nd- stars one of my many man-crushes, Dominic Cooper- and is based on the comic of the same name. The previews look awesome, a little creepy, intense and pretty funny- so I’m really excited to sit down and start watching this one once ‘Fear The Walking Dead’ winds down (I won’t be doing a recap of the season, FYI.)

– TECH/APPS/GAMES –

  • Grand Theft Auto – An oldie but a goodie. My friends and I had taken an indefinite hiatus from blowing each other up and running each other over instead of successfully completing missions in GTAV- using our video gaming time to play scarier and more story-driven games in recent months- but April saw us returning to the land of Los Santos to partake in crime sprees and mass destruction once again. If only the world could hear the laughter coming from our microphones late at night when it’s a free-for-all in the streets and we’re hijacking planes, trains and automobiles.
  • eRewards – This is another website I’ve been affiliated with for quite some time now, but am just getting around to mentioning now. eRewards is a survey site, plain and simple- no strings attached. The company will e-mail you a couple of surveys every few days that range anywhere from five minutes to a half hour to complete- and every survey that is completed/partially completed adds a dollar amount credit to your account. After you’ve accrued some money, you can trade it in for gift cards, restaurant vouchers, frequent flyer miles, etc. I’ve been doing it for a few years and I’ve already gotten plenty of Starbucks gift cards, points towards my airline and hotel chain of choice, Macy’s and American Eagle vouchers, etc.

Best of all? It’s completely free to join and there’s NO spam e-mails. Just the surveys!

I think that’s pretty much it for my April hits. I’ve already started compiling my list for May- which I intend on sharing (on time!) in a few more weeks.

And as always- feel free to share your favorites from last month, too!

xx

Mini Sephora Haul!

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Over the course of the holidays and my birthday back in January, some of my friends and family were generous and thoughtful enough to pass along a few Sephora gift cards since I am an admitted and shameless addict when it comes to that store. If I go in to buy a moisturizer- I come out with several other products I may not have even needed. If I go in to pick out a new shade of lipstick, I’m leaving with a blush, bronzer, and eyeshadow palette that compliments the aforementioned lipstick color. If there is a Sephora Addicts Anonymous group out there somewhere, I need to know so that I can attend any and all meetings in the future (where I will proceed to ask other attendees what eyeliner or mascara they’re wearing and then promptly go out and purchase it.)

I digress- this past weekend, having run out of a bottle of backup Cover Girl foundation I had picked out at the drug store a while back and desperately scraping along the bottom of my usual tube of under eye concealer- I swung by my local Sephora to replenish some of my products…

… And pick up a couple of other non-necessity things, too…

It’s been a while since I’ve done any type of haul post- so I thought I’d share this mini one!

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1. TARTE Cosmetics Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Full-Coverage Foundation with SPF 15: I love Tarte. They are, hands down, one of my all-time favorite brands. When it comes to foundation, only two things matter to me: the coverage and the longevity. In the hotter months, I tend to lean more towards tinted moisturizers and BB creams- but I like something with a little more staying power in the Winter/Early Spring and Fall since my skin tends to get a little patchy and dry in certain areas and I like to be able to cover it up without having to worry about it. I’m really loving this full coverage foundation so far (which doesn’t feel heavy on my skin at all!) since it covers my dry patches and any other imperfections, matches my fair skin tone perfectly- and stays in place all day long and well into the evening.

2. TARTE Cosmetics Maracuja Creaseless Concealer: For as long as I can remember, I have used the lightest shade possible in Clinique’s ‘Line Smoothing’ Concealer- even though fine lines and/or wrinkles were not and are not a concern for me right now. I’m not even sure why I started using it in the first place, except that maybe it was one of the few affordable concealers available and it actually matched my skin tone pretty closely. Well, for whatever reason- be it my getting older and my skin changing or Clinique being the one to do the changing (to their formula)– the concealer has been appearing more and more orange under my eyes and has NOT been lasting long at all lately. I knew it was time for a change- and I turned to this creamy formula for those nights I don’t get enough sleep and need to look bright eyed for work. This product blends really well, covers pretty much anything and everything, and does not budge at all throughout the day. I think this is is the perfect partner to my new foundation. I’ve been using them both religiously!

3. TARTE Cosmetics ‘Smooth Operator’ Amazonian Clay Finishing Powder: Finally (and my last TARTE product- I promise!), I picked up this invisible sealing powder to set my makeup for the day.  This powder brightens my face, keeps my makeup in place, and prevents shine and excess oil buildup in more oily or problematic areas like my T-Zone. I like that the formula is non-drying and doesn’t accentuate any dry skin or blemishes, too. It makes everything look very natural!

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4. Dr. Jart+ Clearing Solution Sheet Mask: Way back when, I used to use a Dr. Jart+ BB cream that I had really liked very much. Overall, the brand continues to churn out some quality products- and given my love for sheet masks- I thought I’d pick up one of these acne-fighting ones for those pre-PMS days when my skin goes absolutely crazy and I need a little extra help dealing with the blemishes that spring up seemingly out of nowhere. I’m about ready for one of those breakouts to show itself in the coming days- so at least I’ll have a head start!

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5. Urban Decay’s Eyeshadow Primer Potion: One product I will never stray away from or switch (as long as UD never changes the formula, anyway!) is this Primer Potion for eyes. I’m down to my last couple of drops in my current bottle and desperately needed a new one. I swear by this stuff. It’s lightweight, not sticky/greasy- and it holds my shadow in place without creasing, crumbling, or flaking off- for HOURS. I’m talking long-term, like “all night party followed by a late brunch the next day” sort of longevity. I can only ever remove any shadow/liner from my lids after using this stuff with a pretty strong makeup remover. Other than that? This doesn’t go anywhere. It doesn’t budge!

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6. Sephora’s Formula X Nail Polish in ‘Lucky Starrr’ and ‘Sci-Fi’: Finally, the two products I didn’t need but just happened to pick up anyway because I loved their colors were these two long-lasting and ultra sparkly nail polishes in Sephora’s wildly popular Formula X brand. The first (and the one I’m currently wearing now), ‘Lucky Starrr’- is a super glittery and glitzy hot pink/reddish shade created/curated by Vlogger Patrick Starrr, and the second- ‘Sci-Fi’- is a pretty unique looking and also very glittery mint shade that I think will be making it’s debut on my digits this coming St. Patrick’s Day! I think these two polishes are going to be enough to carry me into the Summer, where I will undoubtedly be looking for more colors to add to my collection.

So with a face of fresh makeup and new colors on my nails- that wraps up my mini-haul from Sephora! I’m quite pleased each of the products I selected so far, and I am still so appreciative of everyone who gave me gift cards that I used towards this purchase! You all saved me a ton of cash and I love you for it!

If you have any suggestions for my next trip- probably sometime in the early Summer- feel free to share ’em! I always love hearing about new products/colors/collections!

xx

GLOSSYBOX: February 2016 Review.

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Even though Valentine’s Day was last week, I’ve still been still loving the last bits of romance-inspired products and subscription services I’ve been receiving in recent days. My POPSUGAR ‘Must Have’ Box was just the tip of the iceberg. In actuality, it was GlossyBox’s heart-covered container- loaded with indulgent products- that provided a fitting finale for the month of February (try saying that five times fast.)

Although I’ve been on the fence lately about sticking with GlossyBox or finally canceling my subscription after all this time, I love when they do things like this and switch up not only their box designs- but the products contained within- to keep people on their toes. It’s a breath of fresh air when the brands and the variety start to feel a little stale.

Let’s take a look at what I got!

WHAT I RECEIVED:

Teeez Cosmetics Oasis Gem Lipstick in ‘Heat Wave Ruby’ (*Full Size!*)

être belle Cosmetics Golden Skin Caviar Eye Roll-On

GLAMGLOW ‘THIRSTYCLEANSE’ Daily Hydrating Cleanser

Benefit Cosmetics ‘The POREfessional’ Face Primer

BioRepublic SkinCare’s Green Tea Detox Sheet Mask (*Full Size!*)

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Product # 1: Teeez Cosmetics Oasis Gem Lipstick in ‘Heat Wave Ruby’ ($22)

I have to hand it to GlossyBox for introducing me to brands I otherwise may have never heard of. Case in point? Teeez Cosmetics- who first piqued my interest with a clear nail top coat/lacquer (and their bright and funky packaging) I received in a separate GlossyBox last Spring. While the top coat wasn’t necessarily mind-blowing- this lipstick was. This product, highly pigmented and non-drying, applies more like a lip stain- and it stays in place for twice as long. I loved the texture of this formula, the matte finish, the rich ruby shade (which made my teeth look dazzling and complimented my complexion perfectly!) and the longevity. I made it through my morning coffee and well into my lunch break at work without needing a touch-up. Fabulous!

Would I Purchase?: Yes! This was an unexpected and new-favorite find in February’s GlossyBox- and a shade/product I would definitely re-purchase in the future (although I believe this color is limited edition!) I know Teeez frequently switches up their collections and colors on their website, and I’m hoping they release a coral/peach version of this formula for the impending warmer months. I’d happily scoop up a bunch of those, too.

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Product # 2: être belle Cosmetics Golden Skin Caviar Eye Roll-On ($22)

It feels like a lifetime ago, but it’s really only been a couple of short years since I was last subscribed to the pick-your-own-samples subscription service, Beauty Army. The beginning of the end of my interest in the service- leading up to my eventual cancellation of my account- came not only when each month offered cheaper and more repetitive products, but also when I received a sample of eye cream that caused entirely more damage than good when it unexpectedly burned me after application. The skin around and under my eyes was dry, flaking, red and itchy for days after use- and I was left VERY cautious of what I use for eye creams/gels.

Although my experience with this roll-on eye gel didn’t cause any visible or permanent damage (at least none that I can notice, anyway)– this product still stung like crazy after the first couple of initial applications. So much, in fact- that I caught myself trying to dab it off with my fingertips when it got to be too much for me to take. Even after I’d spread it out a little more- I didn’t notice any significant results around my eyes’ in terms of brightness, smoothness, or softness come the next morning. The skin around my eyes looked and felt the same- so the irritation was all for nothing.

Would I Purchase?: No. This eye cream just wasn’t for me at all. It burned, it made me tear up- and I didn’t notice any difference after the few times I gave this roll-on my best shot and tried to persevere through the pain. It was disappointing, to say the least- although I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since caviar doesn’t sound like something that should be anywhere near my eyes, anyway.

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Product # 3: GLAMGLOW ‘THIRSTYCLEANSE’ Daily Hydrating Cleanser ($39)

Last month, I had raved about my favorite cleanser of the moment- GLAMGLOW’s ‘YOUTHCLEANSE’ exfoliating cleanser- which was a sort of mud-to-foam formula once I added water. Since I always follow up that cleanser with a moisturizer- I never took into consideration that I might need something a little more hydrating for these final, cold Winter weeks as Spring struggles to reach (and stay!) in New England. Thankfully, GlossyBox had me covered with a sample of this more moisturizing formula of my daily cleanser- and I’m hooked. Not only does this cleanser make my skin feel just as squeaky clean as my YOUTHCLEASE one- but my skin is also left super soft and very smooth. I still moisturize after each use (of course!) but I feel like I don’t have to use as much of my moisturizer when I pair it with this cleanser.

Would I Purchase?: Yes! GLAMGLOW got me again. I love this cleanser. It cleans out my pores without drying me out and conditions my skin at the same time- which is something I desperately need this time of year. I have a feeling I’ll be picking up a full-sized bottle of this in the coming weeks since I’m nearly out of my YOUTHCLEANSE.

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Product # 4: Benefit Cosmetics ‘The POREfessional’ Face Primer ($31)

I’ve never really had much luck with primers. Either they don’t work, period- and my makeup doesn’t stay in place at all, or worse- I have an allergic reaction or break out like crazy. For that reason, I’ve focused more on setting my makeup properly and less on selecting one of the myriads of primers available at Sephora. Even still- my friends and colleagues rave about this primer from Benefit (a brand I otherwise like very much!) and having received a sample in February’s GlossyBox- I didn’t see the harm in giving it a try.

First things first, I like the texture of this primer. It’s sort of this light, fluffy consistency that sinks right into/onto my skin- and at first glance it really did do a good job at giving otherwise troublesome areas around my T-Zone a fresh, flawless appearance. My makeup glided over this primer without creasing or looking caked on, which was a plus- and even after a full day at work and post-office dinner (and a cocktail)- my foundation and concealer still looked natural and even. And pores? What pores? I couldn’t see them. I think I’ve finally found “the one”!

Would I Purchase?: Yes! A little goes a long way with this sample, especially if you only concentrate on problem areas like I do- so this tube should last me a few more weeks before I’m due to restock and replenish- but I’ll be turning to this primer in the future since it worked wonders on my T-Zone and helped give me one less thing to worry about when it comes to getting my face on.

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Product # 5: BioRepublic SkinCare’s Green Tea Detox Sheet Mask ($4.99)

I will never, ever, EVER say no to sheet masks. I love this craze- particularly the convenience and the results I usually get when I use them. I’m a big fan of green tea, and I enjoy a good detox from time to time- so naturally I was all about trying this mask as soon as possible. Like pretty much every other sheet mask, you have to be patient when getting it out of the packaging (and not mind getting whatever gel/cream it’s saturated in all over your fingers) and getting it to sit just right on your face to give you that nice Leatherface from ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ look. You have to be even more patient while you let it sit, cool, and tingle on your skin for 15 minutes (I usually just lay down in the quiet for a while and pretend I’m getting a spa treatment somewhere remote outside the city.)

After I peeled this mask off- my skin did look brighter, felt softer- and I noticed a couple of small blemishes I had by my chin were significantly less red and painful. I wouldn’t mind using this type of mask again!

Would I Purchase?: Yes! I thought this brand/mask worked really well with my sensitive and often overworked skin. At $4.99 per mask, I’d happily stock up on a few in the future to use throughout the week after a long day at work and braving New England climates.

With the exception of the eye cream, February’s GlossyBox was a hit for me. I really enjoyed the lipstick and the sheet mask, and found new products to covet from GLAMGLOW and Benefit all at once. It also goes without saying that I adored the festive coloring/theme of the box itself- and plan to use it for the next time I need to package a gift or store products around my home.

I believe we’ll be back to the usual pink & black boxes from GlossyBox next month- but I’m looking forward to seeing the products!

xx