Achievement Unlocked: Break a Bad Habit

Holy guacamole, has it been a week or what. This week has been super rough for me. I hope you’re having it better out there. Just popping in to share for a while again.

I took this photo for a Pin contest that Birchbox is doing because why not. The photo is supposed to show your favorite manicure and a Bandaid, for reasons unknown to me because I don’t really care. Lol.

I’m sharing here so I can explain it. My nails are bare. “That’s odd,” you say, perhaps thinking of the giant stash of fancy polishes I own. But, you see, my nails didn’t always look like this. Six months ago they were NUBS. I’d been a nail biter my entire life. I am not quite sure why I abruptly decided to quit, but I did.

My fellow biters out there are yelling, I can hear them. HOW? They ask. HOW do you stop biting your nails?! It’s an impossible nervous habit. Let me assure you, this was not the first time I’d tried it. And here’s how I did it.

First, I invested a lot of money in them. Haha. I dropped some bank on fancy polishes in colors that I liked (but that may scandalize my mom). I splurged on NerdLaqcuer and Butter London, and went wild with OPI and Zoya and China Glaze (Hunger Games shades, zomg). I had nubs of course, so I also got a big box of falsies and some glue (in fact you can see some in the background – I used it this morning to fix my glasses because I’m an idiot and stepped on them and broke the bridge of them, but I digress), along with all the other stuff – files and remover and cotton pads and who knows what else. I tried out some trends, too. I got some matte polish (love it) and some magnetic polish (love it, but it’s a bit tricky).

Then I invested TIME in them. I spent HOURS doing my nails – most nights, for weeks, I’d be filing or painting or gluing or whatever. Plastic nails are not impossible to chew through (done that), but they are more difficult. Painting them in ways that made me happy made me not want to mess them up, and if all else failed I could remind myself how expensive this experiment was if I quit, and that my husband would make fun of me if I gave up.

I soon found myself admiring rather than biting. It took a few months, but I finally got brave enough to go without the protective falsies. Underneath, my natural nails were thin and weak. I painted them with dozens of extra coats to beef them up a bit. They grew out, much stronger and thicker than I ever knew they could be. I haven’t worn plastic nails in months, and probably never will again.

A tip: getting professional manicures isn’t a fix that worked for me, although I’ve heard people recommend it. It’s definitely a financial investment, but there’s not a whole lot of time invested. And there won’t be bottles of lacquer all over your house laughing at you if you slip up. And I think the “weaning off” period may be harder that way. Your mileage may vary, of course.

My fingers now look like human fingers. Before the tips of my fingers were always red and weird looking, with gross jagged nails. Now, they’re all the same color, and I actually have the problem of needing to file them MORE often. The last few weeks, as you know, I’ve been insanely swamped and haven’t had much time for maintenance, much less polishing, which is a several-hour period where you can’t touch anything, lol. So my fingers have been bare. But that’s okay. Because I worked damn hard for these nails, and I am SO proud of them.

(Yes that’s Hello Kitty on the bandaid. My daughter calls her Baa-bo head in her adorable accent because she first met the Kitty as a bobblehead toy. It’s too adorable to correct. Also, fun fact – there actually is a small wound under there. I scratched my finger on something while doing dishes the other day. Just a glimpse into the glamourous life of a blogger.)

Do you have any bad habits? Ever manage to break one? We’re pretty good at that here – my husband quit smoking last year. Let’s chat about healthy habits and adorable preschooler accents.

May Birchbox – Gossip Girl Edition

I’m going to be totally upfront with you this month – I’m kinda disappointed. My first Birchbox was exciting and awesome and I loved every bit of it. Last month was a bit lackluster, and I definitely found myself wishing I’d gotten the Teen Vogue box (even though I’m definitely not a teen). This month… well, I enjoyed the products, but I have some suggestions for improvement (at the end of the post).

Okay, enough complaining. To the box!

This month, there was a theme: Gossip Girl. I don’t watch the show so that was rather irrelevant. I had (ultimately unfulfilled) hopes that this would mean blingy stuff, inspired by on-the-town young’uns. Honestly, not seeing the connection, other than in the color of the nail polish I got.
Dang, okay, seriously no more complaining.

And here are the contents of my box! There on the left you can see a card with 4 trivia questions about the GG finale that aired earlier this week. It sounds like a very *drama* show. The trivia questions were the basis for a contest they ran over on their facebook page for a shopping spree in the Birchbox shop. I may or may not have googled for the answers (unsuccessfully), eventually made up some answers up, and entered. 😉 Also, you can see this month’s “lifestyle extra” – a little postcard. I think I’ll include it with the prize for my Giveaway Week winner next week.

This perfume sample is Arquiste L’Etrog. I assume from the price of the fullsize product that it is quite fancy indeed. This is how it describes itself: “A bright blend of citrus and other fruity notes, L’Etrog captures the aromas of a family harvest celebration in medieval Calabria, Italy.”
My thoughts: I like it! I usually find floral scents overpowering, and gravitate to earthy scents like this one. It’s got a richness to it. I am not a professional and have no idea what a harvest smells like in Calabria, but I can see the medieval connection – it smells very “natural,” more like the sort of scent that an ancient princess would procure, instead of the overly chemical perfumes of our time.

Allow me to introduce you to Dr. Jart+ Water Fuse Beauty Balm SPF 25+. It’s a real multitasker: “A moisturizer, sunscreen, and treatment serum all-in-one, this tinted balm even helps hide imperfections—so there’s no need for foundation or cover-up. Think of it as the Swiss Army Knife of your beauty cabinet.”
My thoughts: Well, first of all – maybe next time they ought to put a bit more in the bottle. I had a bit of trouble getting some out! Maybe it just settled weirdly. It’s tinted a light brownish color and has a very faint scent, similar to most sunscreens (I like that scent so that’s a plus). It was smooth and went on easy; my skin felt smoother and looked a little more even afterwards. I think I’ll cut open this little bottle to dig it all out and apply all over my face when I go out tomorrow, and see what I think. Overall, I’m pretty positive about this.

You may know that I am a nail polish fiend, so I was quite happy to find this sample of Color Club Foils in Disco Nap in my box. It’s a really shiny metallic gold polish. (There’s also a gorgeous purple in this collection.)
My thoughts: New favorite gold! The previous incumbent was Bling Dynasty by OPI, but this one easily beat it out. I’ve always loved the texture of Color Club lacquers (bonus: they’re cheap!), and this was no exception. The color was solid with one coat, and it really does earn the title “foil” – it was almost as if I’d applied gold leaf to my nails. I am picturing using it with stamping plates to create some gorgeous blingy designs for fancy occasions. Definitely highly recommend this one if you’re in the market.

This is a bottle of beautyblender blendercleanser – a special cleanser for your cosmetic brushes and makeup sponges and the like. It’s scented with lavender, earth-friendly, and apparently designed to remove oils and deposits from any implement that touches your skin.
My thoughts: First, I have to register a dislike of the scent. When I was a child, I got a horrrrrible Poison Ivy rash, and had to bathe with this special soap to remove the Ivy oils from my body. This cleanser smells EXACTLY like that soap. Which I suppose makes sense, since they’re both designed to remove unwanted oils. Scent aside, though, this stuff worked really well! I tried it on an eyeliner brush (just dipped it right into the bottle, and rubbed the brush in my fingers). The cleanser sudsed up and then rinsed away clean. Then I gave it a real test and tried it on an eyeshadow applicator. I have a really dark blue Ulta eyeshadow (their applicators are the same texture as those sponge wedges you can buy). To my complete surprise, this stuff cleaned the applicator to like-new condition! Not a trace of color on the sponge!

Last but not least, this here is a Twistband Skinny headband, sold in a 6-pack at Birchbox. Mine is brown, but they come in many colors. It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like – an elastic headband to hold your hair.
My thoughts: I actually wear elastic headbands a lot. My hair is fluffy and frizzy and I hate when it gets in my face. I always choose headbands that are MUCH wider than this though – this width is just not enough to control my thick hair. It’d work well for lighter, thinner hair, or if it’s just being used as an accessory, not for functionality. Also, I’m kinda ambivalent about the “knot” in it – it gives it a too-casual feel to me, and I’d only want to wear it around the house or to the gym.

This month wasn’t as much fun as I am hoping for from my Birchboxes, but it still contained some great products. I still recommend to any of you readers out there to give it a try (it’s 10$ a month). However, I want to take this opportunity to make some suggestions to Birchbox (I’m submitting this post to their Birchbloggers program, so hopefully someone will read it):
Firstly, the boxes feel just a little bit bare. My first box, in March, felt like it was overflowing, while April and May just felt empty. I’m sure you’ve got budgets to consider, but please, just throw in one or two more things?
Second, more FUN please! That was my primary reason for joining Birchbox – I want to try fun new products! The cleanser worked great but it’s not anybody’s definition of fun.
Third, I think it’d help all of us be happier if there were a way for your subscribers to tell you what kinds of products they’re interested in. For example: I would like lip glosses, eye liners or eye shadows, lotions, body washes, nail polishes, and maybe the occasional hair product (that will actually match my hair type). Perfumes are okay too, but I rarely wear it to be honest.
(Oh, and fourth: can we get a “maybe” option on the “are you planning to purchase this item” question when we’re leaving feedback?)

Are you a Birchbox subscriber? What did you think of your box this month?
Do you have any suggestions or ideas you’d like to share? Or, are you thinking of subscribing? I’ll be happy to answer any questions you have, if I know the answers.

(In the interests of transparency, I’d like you to know that the two links at the beginning and end are my personal referrer links to Birchbox. If you click on them and then sign up, I will receive Birchbox Points. The other links go to the Birchbox shop, but I will not be compensated if you purchase from those links. There are also two links to my previous Birchbox reviews.)

April Birchbox

My second Birchbox is here! If you’d like to learn more or subscribe, click here! I’d be happy to answer any questions you have; just leave a comment. Now let’s get to the goods!

I have to admit to being a little disappointed this month. It felt a little bare, and while the products are all excellent, there wasn’t anything to get excited about. 😦 Last month was *awesome* – you can read my reviews of those products here.

First up: Willa Lavender face towelettes. I don’t like one-time-use products because they feel so wasteful, so I’ve never tried anything like these. I liked this one, though, I have to say. The cloths are really soft. They’re a bit small, but big enough to get the job done. They smell nice, and not overbearingly so. The cleansing formula is gentle and refreshing; it’s damp, but not so much that you need to dry off afterwards. These would be just right for a quick cleanup when you can’t get to a bathroom, like on a picnic or at the beach. I’ll be keeping these in my purse for emergencies, but I don’t think I’ll buy any – I’m just fine with a washcloth.

Next up: a sample of a new fragrance by Taylor Swift called Wonderstruck. I don’t know about you, but one of these sample tubes is enough for several wearings for me. I’ll probably use it all up. Wonderstruck is pleasantly flowery. I’ll wear it on days when I’m feeling girly. 🙂 I very well might purchase some of this scent.

This blurry picture is supposed to be showing you a .25 oz tin of J.R. Watkins Lavender Hand and Cuticle Salve. It’s very soft and smells like a handful of lavender. The scent lingers when you put it on, and I keep catching myself sniffing my hand. I felt an immediate difference in the softness of my skin (remember I have horrible dry skin). I already have several similar products, but when they run out, I’ll consider this one.

Another nail polish! This month, it’s Zoya Bevin from the True Spring Collection. I love Zoya polishes – they’re creamy and smooth, incredibly long lasting, and free of toluene, formaldehyde, DBP and camphor. I think it’s actually vegan!

This particular color is a light blue-green. I’d describe it as “muted robin’s egg.” It’s a gorgeous color. After I took this picture, I layered mine with some black shatter polish by OPI and it’s really striking. I definitely recommend Zoya polish.

The final item this month is a “lifestyle extra” – Dropps Laundry Detergent. I use similar pod-type things for my dishwasher (and love them!), and I’ve been seeing commercials for this kind of product recently, so I was intrigued to find them in my Birchbox. There were two in the packet – I used one to wash my comforter and one on the sheets. Dropps are eco-friendly, super-convenient, easy to use, and will work in any washer. They’re fragrance and dye free also, which is great for sensitive skin. My linens (well, they’re actually cotton, but you know what I mean) came out quite clean, with no harsh scents. These would be a major help for those who wash at laundromats, or in apartment/dorm laundry rooms – no more lugging heavy bottles or boxes of soap around! I make my own laundry soap, though, and I own my own washer and dryer – so while I won’t be buying any, I’ll still highly recommend them.

That’s all for this month! Before I sign off, I want you to know that all the links in this post (except for the ones labelled “Zoya polishes” and “make my own laundry soap”) goes to Birchbox’s shop. The very first link, as well as this one right here, are my personal referrer links, and if you sign up with Birchbox from that link, I will earn Birchbox points. The Zoya link I pointed out goes to Zoya’s website. If you sign up for a free Zoya account from that link, you’ll receive an instant coupon for a free Zoya polish of your choice, and if you use it, I will get some Share the Love points.

Now that all the full disclosure is done, I bid you adieu. 🙂

Birchbox! (Updated!)

About a month or so ago, tons of blogs exploded about Birchbox. Most of the blogs I read (that relate to that sort of thing) were raving about this amazing subscription service that delivers a box of beauty goodies to your door every month. I tried to sign up then, but they were so swamped that they were temporarily “sold out!” Lucky me, I was able to sign up a few weeks later, and my first Birchbox arrived today!

My box!

Of course, I ripped into it immediately.

It opens flat and reveals a nice box inside, suitable to be kept and reused.

The big prize this month is this I Coloniali Tibetan Shower Cream with Rhubarb. It’s a really creamy shower soap, basically. It has a really exotic and luxurious scent that lingers even after rinsing. I’ll get quite a few uses out of this bottle, and I like it so much I may buy more when it runs out!

The second-biggest item is Miss Jessie’s Quick Curls. I’ve got frustrating hair – wavy in some places, but oddly flat in others. Not curly enough to be curly, not straight enough to be straight. I’m not really a fan of my hair, is what I’m trying to say here. And while I’ve never liked wearing it curly, I definitely have to say that it’s the easiest treatment for curly hair I’ve ever tried. This IS a positive review. It’s just that I just don’t like curly hair much. It didn’t get the crunchiness like gel does, isn’t oily like many frizz treatments, and is probably the best thing I’ve used on my hair for making it look presentable without much effort. Even so, I think I’ll be passing the rest of this bottle on to one of my curly-and-proud friends.

Another I Coloniali product! Having loved the shower cream, I was excited to try the Deep Massage Body Cream with Myrrh. This .35 oz sample was enough to do both arms, both legs (from just above the knee down) and both feet. It’s got little granules in it that absorb into your skin. Like the shower cream, it’s really luxurious and smells exotic and decadent. I really love this stuff as well.

This sample packet of WEI Pomegranate buffing beads actually contains 2 packets of .02 oz each. It’s meant to be mixed with your facial cleanser to buff and purify your skin of toxins. I have not tried them yet, but I will this evening when I wash my face (I use a Burt’s Bees cleanser, if anybody cares) and update with my review tomorrow!
Update: I love these! It isn’t “beads” so much as a fine grain sand. I really REALLY noticed a difference when I used it. Best of all, the packet contains enough for about 3 uses (for me anyway – maybe I’m using less than recommended, but it’s enough to notice a big difference). This is definitely an item I’ll be purchasing – it’s inexpensive AND makes a huge difference.

The One Love Organics Skin Savior waterless beauty balm is another treasure. The jar contains 15 mL, and I think it’ll last a long time. It looks to have a beeswax base, and other balms I’ve used of this type always last forever. It has a light, subtle fruity scent. I applied it to one of my notoriously dry patches (my left elbow). It was very smooth and light. This is another probably-will-purchase product! (The full size is rather expensive but will probably last for-ev-errrrr.)

This blurry picture shows a trial-size of Color Club nail lacquer in Jackie Oh! (Did other boxes get different colors, I wonder?) If you know me, you’ll know that I’ve been on a nail polish binge lately, so I was stoked, especially since I haven’t tried this brand yet. This is definitely not a color I would generally choose (I like earth tones and jewel tones; I’m not really a neon girl), but my almost-4-year old was ecstatic about it. The texture of the polish was nice – not too thin, not too thick.

It looks coral here, but take my word for it – it’s VERY neon and VERY pink. It’s kinda fun, actually. This is just one coat of the polish (gotta love lacquers that cover with only one coat – the bottle lasts so much longer).

I used a matte topcoat on the other hand, just for contrast. Lookin good. 🙂 I don’t think I’d purchase this color for myself, but I like the brand.

This box was only my first one, and now I’m sad that I have to wait a whole month for another one! Aside from the new and exciting products (that I never would have tried otherwise), it was amazingly fun to have a special day of pampering delivered to my door. 🙂 And did I mention it’s only TEN dollars a month? I purchased a yearlong subscription, which gives you one month free, AND a bunch of “points” you can use in their shop to purchase the full-size items. I am a VERY satisfied customer. Click here to find out more!

In the interests of complete honesty, I’d like you to know that all the product links here go to the Birchbox shop, but I don’t recieve any compensation for them. The links at the beginning and end that go to Birchbox’s website are my personal referrer link. If you sign up from that link, I do receive 50 points.

Apologies & Shopping Loot

Oh my lord I have been SO BUSY this week. I don’t even know what I was doing, but I have gotten NOTHING done. Of course, part of that is because I just got a Kindle Fire, so it’s rather addicting. I did read a couple books on it; that was good. Love that thing.

So, because I’ve been so busy, I am AGAIN horrifically behind. I’m still behind from LAST week. Aaaa! I am frantically readering in another tab as I type this (you know what I mean). I have every intention of bringing you your regularly scheduled Roundup later – hopefully Monday. I shall make an intense effort to bring it on Monday.

As apology for my tardiness, I bring you some pictures of some LOOT. We got our tax refund this week, and we make a tradition of setting aside a certain amount of it as “fun money.” (We also paid off our car, and the final payment was less than our regular payment. Yay!) We live austerely most of the year; it’s nice to let our hair down and just buy stuff. We also are putting a substantial amount in savings, getting computer repairs, and buying a freezer (yay!). I have a substantial amount of loot to brag about. The vast majority of it was on sale or clearance. 🙂

I didn’t edit any of the pictures, and they are all rather messily staged. Sorry. 😉

The Art Supplies

Missy picked these beads
Oh god, the art supplies. My daughter chose these beads (and many others – I weeded through them and chose the ones I thought I could use). She’s got a great artistic eye – you better watch out for her.

yellow fat quarters
I have such a weakness for groups of coordinated fat quarters. The light reallllly messed with these – they’re actually a sunny yellow and grey theme.

my steampunk stuff
Some gears, some clock faces, and some “game spinners” that I’m gonna use like orphaned clock hands. Can’t you feel the steampunk stereotype just dripping off these?

mini bottles
A collection of miniature bottles with corks. I just like bottles.

asian inspired pendants
Just a quick little group of Asian-looking pendants.

pendants of creatures
Some pendants of creatures. I can’t decide which is my favorite.

random new pendants
A key, a circle, and a group of smaller things. I actually got two of those ones on the right – they were 67% off, I couldn’t NOT get them. I’ve got great plans for the key and the round one.

LOL, of all the beads I bought, these are the only ones I chose myself. The lighting killed me here – these are kinda pink and green mottled.

watch faces
These cute watch faces are destined for great things. One of them is for ME. The others will be made similar to my own and Etsy’d. 🙂 I think you’ll love them.

Knitting needles (my first ones!), new crochet hooks (these are plastic, hope I like them since I lost the metal ones I had), some blue pigment paint (for the Snark Art project!), grey threads (for the fabric above), and some “artist trading cards” – they just looked like fun.

Some hanging tags, because why not, some tailors’ chalk, some yarn needles, a loom hook (lost along with the metal crochet hooks, all of which will probably be found now that I’ve bought replacements), and some cookie cutters, which I’m planning to use on clay!

sewing box
My pretty new “sewing box.” Here you see it stuffed with my loot, but I’m planning to use it to hold my current projects as I work on them. I’ve had my eye on these for a long time; found them on 40% off. 🙂

A “rainbow” box of beads. Most of the beads seem to be remnants, errors, etc – unique pieces. Some were broken and maybe unusable, but hey, whatevs.

And yes, I did immediately sort them. Ring ring, that’s my OCD calling.

Omitted pictures:
Grey yarn, a tiny adorable tote thing, a small foldover organizer thing, microfiber cloths, 28 Evenweave cloth, fusible interfacing, new scissors, some small boxes that I hope I can mail, some red stick-on rhinestones, several ribbon necklaces, an 8×10 canvas (also for the Snark Art project), and god knows what else…

The Books

Quick one here: I found a set of the Zelda mangas at the epic comic book store in Carousel Center on Saturday, as well as a copy of the newest Fables collection (#16). So excited to read these; hope I find time to do so sometime this century.

Side note – this week, I read The Secret Garden on my Kindle and it was awesomer than I remembered. I also bought the newest Phillippa Gregory, the one about Elizabeth Woodville’s mother – SO excited. I can’t remember what others I bought, but I know I’ve downloaded just about all the free books I could find. I imagine I’ll be blogging more about this later.

The Pretties

You may have noticed that I have a slight obsession with fingernail polish. This is funny because I am a nail biter. But I always have pretty toes, anyway. I’m not an incredibly feminine person, so this is also somewhat out of character. I dunno, don’t ask me to explain myself.
Anyway, I got some awesome nail polishes at Trade Secret, and all but one of them was on clearance. Hee! I’m so excited for these. The one on the right is *magnetic* and I cannot WAIT to play with it (Edit: just remembered I got this one at Sephora, separate from the others). The one in the middle is matte; I’m thrilled about this as well.
I also got some glue-on nails and a lot of glue.

The Random Things

I got 18 flour sack towels for my kitchen. I tossed all my old, non-absorbent, ugly towels and threw these pretty ones in the drawer. Yay!
I’m a sucker for containers, and I now have many new ones, many from the Dollar Spot at Target.
I picked out two new puzzles. One is a Charles Wysocki (I just enjoy doing his puzzles) and one has some birds on a tree branch in the snow.
I finally got to get Harry Potter 7.2. Planning a marathon, eventually.
We got some adorable cups for Missy – one is shaped like a rocket ship and one is shaped like an owl, and I wish I could drink from them.
I picked up an assortment of random things for around my house – a small colander, a measuring shot glass (for measuring a teaspoon of oil or whatever), an onion-shaped container for onions.

I can’t think of anything else I got other than food, so I guess that’s all! 🙂 Enjoy the shinies, and see you soon with a Roundup!