November 23, 2014

Beauty Stocking Stuffers Under $10

Beauty Stocking Stuffers Under $10

What is it about stocking stuffers that gets me all jazzed?! Ever since I was a wee, feisty, redheaded tyke, I've always had a thing for them. It's like getting a bunch of tiny presents! I thought it would be kind of cool to stick with the beauty theme and show you guys some awesome little stocking stuffers under $10 (a lot of the ones I chose here are actually under $5!) These would also make fun little Secret Santa ideas for the work place if you have a beauty product junkie to buy for! I included the specific brands pictured in the below links, but feel free to just use this list loosely to spark your gift-giving imagination!

Nail Polish Remover Pads | I freaking love these things. I keep them in my purse for nail emergencies. Super easy to use.
Love & Toast Handcreme | I really like this brand. Comes in a lot of fun scents that aren't obnoxious and the packaging is really funky and cute!
EcoTools Makeup Brushes | I am a BIG fan of EcoTools for many reasons, but the biggest reason is they are made incredibly well and are priced insanely low. They don't shed, they're super soft and they wash beautifully. They have fabulous little starter kits that are a great value. (Click here for other kit).
Facial Cleansing Wipes | There are so many brands and options to choose from, I'm just digging these ones right now which are great for pesky breakouts and getting sweat and bacteria off your face and chest after the gym. Effective but not too harsh, either. Also great for teenagers!
Razors | This is one of those great stocking stuffers that everyone needs but no one likes to buy for themselves. I like disposable ones so I don't get lazy and end up with a dull blade for months. Just toss it and move onto the next.
Lip Balm | I swear this is like a staple of stocking stuffers. I remember getting just about every single brand and flavor of lip balm and chapstick since I was a kid and I still love getting it. I'm loving these Softlips Cubes right now! They feel so good on the lips and the packaging looks like a cute, colored ice cube!
Mini Makeup Palettes | Around the holidays you'll see all sorts of cute little mini palettes. Mostly eye shadows and lip colors, these are awesome ways to play around with new colors and they fit perfectly in those holiday party clutches! This one from Sephora is a surprisingly perfect inclusion of neutral and cool smokey tones.
Cleanser | Again, like razors, this is one of those things that is great to receive and is a total necessity.
Cotton Swabs | Perfect for eyeliner cleanup. A bathroom vanity necessity.
Soap | The possibilities are endless here, but I stumbled on this one during a recent Target trip and it smells soooooo good. Crisp, fresh and has a lovely lather. You can also find it at Ulta.
Eye/Lip Liner Sharpener | This is one of those quirky little beauty items that I can never have enough of. I'm always managing to misplace them. What's the deal with that?! I love the double-sized ones that can sharpen standard sized pencils as well as jumbo pencils. This one is particularly nice because you can flip the cap open and get all your shavings out.
Sephora Collection Face Masks | I LOVE that these come in so many formulas/colors! There's literally an option for everyone and they're only $6! Choose from: Ginseng (Toning), Pomegranate (Energizing), Rose (Moisturizing), Pearl (Brightening), Green Tea (Mattifying) & Honey (Nourishing).
Nail Polish | Again, you have thousands of brands/colors to choose from in this category, but I'm loving the Ulta nail polishes these days. The formula is incredibly opaque and long lasting and there is a great shade collection.
Travel Size Hair Products | These are a great idea for stockings. Shampoos, conditioners, hair sprays, volumizers, hair powders....just about every type of product comes in a mini size these days and they're perfect for travel and also just for trying out new brands without committing to the high price tags. Ulta is a great place for finding lots of different luxury line brands most of which are under $5.

What are some of your favorite types of stocking stuffers? I'm always on the lookout for different ideas!
November 21, 2014

Aroma Soap Lab Review and GIVEAWAY!

I have a confession to make. Until recently, I looked down upon "natural" bath products. I always passed right over them because I immediately thought they'd all smell like the inside of an incense shop and would leave a weird, beeswax film on my skin. Obviously somewhere along the way I had been introduced to a sub-par bar of soap or lotion and had just grouped them all into the same category. What a buffoon I was! Luckily, I've since been shown the way.

All of Renee's soaps are:
Biodegradable : Great for camping & lake bathing!
No animal testing
No parabens
No mineral oil
No sodium laurel sulphate
No phosphates

I first met Renee, the owner/maker/designer/curator of Aroma Soap Lab in a Zumba class I walked into last February. She was immediately friendly and easy-going and she smelled SO good! But...I just met her, so I thought I'd save that stalker-like compliment for a more appropriate time (I'm still waiting, like a creeper, for my chance). I didn't learn until months later that she made her own soaps, scrubs, bath salts, lotions and shampoos. I can't remember how it came up, I think one of the other gals in class had asked her if she could get more soap. It was then that my ears perked up. I learned that Renee is a regular vendor at our amazing Farmer's Market that we are so incredibly blessed to have in our town. She has a beautiful booth (if you click here you can see some photos scrolling through of her setup at the market) where she offers her full inventory and even allows you to test out some of her incredible products!

Renee hooked me up with some serious goodies. I already knew I wanted to tell you guys about the Sea Mud Tea Tree Mint Facial Scrub ever since she gave me a sample a while back. But I also got my hands on 5 different artisan soap bars, the best smelling body scrub I've ever smelled, a hair and body moisture balm that comes in a nifty push-up style tube and a couple of her moisturizers. Basically, I was up to my eyeballs in fancy schmancy bath products. You can bet your sweet ass I locked myself in my bathroom and gingerly tested and tried each and every item she gave me over the past couple of weeks so that I could give you guys a rundown. Here goes!

First up....the Sea Mud Tea Tree Mint Facial Scrub/Mask. HOLY MOLY. Ever since I tried the little sample of this, I quickly dubbed it my "Biore Strip in scrub form". With only ONE use, this scrub pulled every ounce of gunk out of my pores on my nose, cheeks, forehead and chin. I couldn't believe how clear my pores were! You can either use this as a scrub, or you can apply it, let it sit on skin like a mask for 5 minutes, add a tiny bit of water and then massage into skin in small circular motions to remove all the gunk and dead skin cells. The mud is fabulous for removing impurities and the tea tree oil provides antibacterial properties. This scrub smells like the most delicious spearmint gum. I know that's kind of a whack description, but it's accurate. TRUST. This comes in a lovely little glass jar that can be reused for all sorts of things. See? Maybe I am more "green" than I give myself credit for!

 Pictured here is the Wild Desert Rose Olive Oil Soap. It was too pretty not to show you. Isn't this GORGEOUS???

You obviously saw the photos above of the beautiful box of 4 soaps (which is what I'm giving away to one lucky reader!) You can choose any 4 soaps from the following scents:

Wild Desert Rose, Havana Bay, Namaste Dragon's Blood, Oatmeal Milk & Honey, Sandalwood Patchouli, Cool Citrus Basil, Unscented Exzema Goat's Milk, Pink Sugar, Energy (Citrus), Wild Mountain Honey, Pomegranate, Kentish Rain, Anise Mint Charcoal, Nag Champa, Ancient Sedona, Twilight Woods, Tea Tree Mint Sea Clay, Brown Sugar & Fig, Exotic Lavender Vanilla, Coconut Lime Verbena, Cedar & Saffron, Eucalyptus Mint, and Spice Market Tea.

For my own personal 4-bar box, I chose Oatmeal Milk & Honey (smells like a delicious oatmeal cookie), Pomegranate (smells like ripe, juicy berries and oddly enough, kind of reminds me of holly berries which is perfect for the holiday season), Energy (smells like a, orange, vanilla dreamscicle), and Tea Tree Mint Sea Clay (smells like the same delicious spearmint gum I described above). All of these soaps rinsed so incredibly clean and left my skin feeling soft, supple and fresh. No residue, no dryness, no stripping. Renee also surprised me with a bonus bar of the Spice Market Tea scent which smells EXACTLY like the tea you can get at Pike Place Market. This particular scent needs to "cure" on your shelf for 3 weeks before use. But the upside is, it makes your whole room smell like Heaven!

I'm typically VERY picky about body scrubs. Even some of the scrubs I've purchased from high-end spas and department stores leave a greasy, slimy residue on the skin and also on the bathtub! YUCK! The last thing I want to do after using a body scrub is feel like I have to re-wash my skin and then immediately clean my bathtub! Talk about a relaxation killer! As I hesitantly opened this scrub, expecting the same experience, I was first caught off guard by how beautiful and clean this smelled. I chose the "Kentish Rain" scent which is cool, crisp, not too feminine, not too masculine and oddly comforting. I was then completely shocked when I rinsed it off and my skin felt like a newborn baby's with NO greasy residue! This is hands down the best body scrub I've ever used (and I've used more than I care to admit). You get a very hefty 8oz jar for only $12.50! The coolest thing is you can choose from ANY of the soap scents I listed above! So many choices!

This chunky little container is a push-pop style delivery system and contains a moisture balm that can be used on skin, dry elbows, cuticles, feet, dry knees, etc. I also love this stick for taming fly-aways and pesky little baby hairs around the hairline. I chose the Vanilla Lavender scent (very calming) but you can also choose from: Pink Sugar, Coconut Lime Verbena, or plain unscented which would be a fabulous addition for mamas of babies to tuck in the diaper bag!

Lastly, I tried two different moisturizers, a whipped shea body butter that looks like thick whipped cream (I tried the Lavender Vanilla) and the plant based hand and body lotion (I tried the Coconut Verbena). These were some of the nicest moisturizers I've ever used. I can't even describe how good the coconut verbena scent is that she does. It instantly took me back to Kauai and made me think I was relaxing on a tropical beach. The shea body butter is SO thick and applies so nicely. It was a much welcomed surprise for my dry, crackly skin on my legs and knees after shaving.

Here's the fun part! Enter to win your OWN box of 4 soaps of your choosing! All of the scent options are listed above (beneath the beautiful photo of the Wild Desert Rose soap). I will reach out to the winner and collect your shipping address as well as your 4 desired scents! You can either keep it for yourself, or this would make a perfect holiday gift for a very lucky gal (or guy!) Enter via Rafflecopter widget below and GOOD LUCK!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
November 11, 2014

Top 10 Picks | Nordstrom Sale (ends 11.11.14)

Top 10 Picks | Nordstrom Sale

1 | Trouve Reversible Biker Jacket | I can't get enough of moto style jackets. I'm obsessed with this one because it's reversible! It's like having two jackets in one!
2 | Sara Bella Mixed Media Pendant Necklace | This pendant is so pretty! It keeps catching my eye! It comes in quite a few colors and I love the length and how substantial it is. This would make the PERFECT gift for all the women in your life and the sale price is under $30! I mean.....c'mon!
3 | Steve Madden Galleryl Pump | I know the thought of leopard print scares a lot of folks away, especially in high heel form, but it's time to expand your horizons, ladies. Wearing leopard print on your peds is such a fun way to incorporate some playfulness into your wardrobe without screaming "I'm sassy!" from the rooftops. It's more of a whisper. And they go with more than you think. These would look SO right with a slim fitting black pant with a straight leg, a pair of cuffed boyfriend jeans or a simple black sheath dress. The possibilities are endless!
4 | Lily White Faux Leather Inset Sweatpants | Say it with me now: Fancy. Sweatpants. Okay, that's a bit of an oxymoron, but I'm loving all the new sweats out right now that could totally make an appearance in public without you feeling like the Hot Mess Express. How cute are these pockets? I'd pair these with a cool retro pair of sneakers, a slim fit hoodie and a sleek, longer length jacket over the top.
5 | Adam Tucker Me Too 'Prescott' Flat | I'm always on the lookout for a stylish pair of flats that go with everything. In my experience, paying a little bit more for a quality pair is worth it (these ones are real leather). My flats get some serious wear these days, because....#momlife. How cute is the bow? So feminine without being obnoxious. The color selection is faboosh, too!
6 | Vince Camuto 'Kallie' Leather Boot | Everything about these Vince boots fit the bill. Real leather: check. Stylish: check. Just rugged enough: check. Unique detailing: check. Killer price for a quality pair of leather boots that will go with everything.
7 | Lush 'Perfect' Tunic Henley | I just love a tunic style top that doesn't look "dumpy". These blousy ones by Lush fit like a dream and I adore the color assortment. They have basic black and white which would be fabulous additions to any wardrobe, but check out the periwinkle, sea blue and green aqua. Such gorgeous and wearable colors!
8 | B.P. Studded Satchel | Um, can we just acknowledge for a moment that this great satchel is under $30?! It's almost a foot wide and 10 inches high, so it's sizeable and would fit tons of your stuff. It's faux-leather and the studding is so special! Plus it comes with a detachable cross-body strap for more options. Also comes in black. 
9 | Zella Live In Reversible Leggings | I can't count how many pairs of Zella leggings I have. They are incredible and live up to the hype. Thick, stretchy, NOT see-through, long enough for tall girls, wide waistband, ability to pull the waist up high so there's no "love handle situation"...they're my fave.
10 | MICHAEL Michael Kors 'Rosie' Sunglasses | Just because it's Fall (and soon to be Winter) doesn't mean you don't need a stylish pair of shades! I've had my eye on these ones for a while and they're finally on sale! They come in tortoise shell (my fave) and a sleek and sexy black.
November 7, 2014

Allow Me to Introduce Myself...and Also to Rant

I've gotten quite a few new readers over the past week so I thought I'd take the opportunity to say "Hello! Welcome! Hope you stick around!" and also to set the record straight on a few things...

I want to talk about something that's been bothering me a bit lately. Not enough to completely derail me, but enough for me to passive-aggressively write about it. People have interests and hobbies. What makes people interesting and unique is that everyone's interests and hobbies are unique to them. When someone tells me that they're into writing, or basketball, or scuba diving, or horses, I don't assume that's ALL they're into. I don't assume that the only conversation they're capable of having is pertaining to that one particular thing they like.

I like beauty products. I like writing about them. I like being the person my friends and family can come to with questions about these things. Is this the ONLY thing I'm interested in? Is makeup and hair the ONLY thing I'm capable of talking about? NO! Why would you assume just because I write a blog mostly about something so fun and yes, at times, "frivolous" that I'm a frivolous person? I don't do my hair and makeup to impress others, I do it because I enjoy doing it. It's my art form. It's what I went to school for and was trained professionally in and something I take pride in. Just because you don't take it seriously doesn't mean I don't or shouldn't. It's a way for me to express myself and nothing makes me happier than helping others express themselves as well!

But guess what? I'm also a wife and a mother who goes bare-faced and un-showered a lot of the time. I am surrounded by boys who like to play rough and burp and fart and play with trains and trucks and I wouldn't change any of it for the world. Those are my people. I take my family more seriously than anything else in the world. I love Jesus and I hope He can forgive me for my potty mouth every day (I need prayer for that, by the way).  I love to cook. I love to read. I love to research various oddball things until my eyes feel like they're going to pop out. I like having incredibly deep, hilarious, silly, honest, meaningful conversations with my friends. It's imperative to me that I can be depended upon. I like making people laugh. No, I love making people laugh. I love feeding people and entertaining and making them feel at home in my home. I don't necessarily enjoy politics but I take them very seriously. I like old movies. I like classic rock. I like weird trivia about old movies and classic rock. I like giving gifts and seeing people's faces when they open them. I like spending time with my incredible family and I don't feel deserving of their amazingness most of the time. I like irreverence. I like when people are honest and real and a little "unhinged".

I believe in being real before all else. Real is beautiful, even if real means being covered in spit up, and baby shit and boogers 85% of the time. But I also believe that there is nothing wrong with wanting to look pretty sometimes. There is no shame in the desire to put on some extra mascara and red lipstick every now and again if it makes you feel good for whatever reason that day. Shame on anyone who makes you feel silly for that. Don't let them project their shit onto you. I slap on false eyelashes sometimes because I'M the one who likes how they look, NOT my husband (trust me...he wouldn't know the difference anyway, he's usually just annoyed I'm taking so long to get ready).

There's so much more beneath the surface of people than we sometimes give them credit for. I think we can all be a bit guilty of that at times. It's just as easy for me to see someone talking or writing about *insert cause or interest here* roll my eyes and pass judgment on them because it doesn't apply to me or my life, but that's so unfair. Who am I to judge someone for something that they genuinely enjoy or are passionate about? Isn't that what makes us 'us'?

I guess what I'm basically saying is, next time you see me amplifying a blog post about the differences in eyeliner consistency (or whatever else) don't assume I'm some bimbo who can't hold my own in a conversation with you about current events, or your job, or my job, or our families or the weather or ANYTHING else a normal person would chat about. Just because I work in a superficial industry doesn't mean I'm a superficial human. It is possible for a person who gets giddy over lipgloss and skincare products to also have values and convictions and to truly believe that beauty does come from within. Yes, I'm raising a boy right now, but that doesn't mean I'm not capable of maybe one day raising a strong daughter who believes in herself, speaks her mind, builds others up and can differentiate playing with makeup for fun as opposed to using it as a tool to gain acceptance. If I end up only raising boys, they will be raised to respect women for their brains, their wit, their inner "meat" as I like to say. Not for how well they highlight and contour.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I forgot to put on some deodorant this morning. And I might take an extra 30 seconds to touch up my eyeshadow in the process.
November 4, 2014

What I'm Loving These Days

Oh hey there! Sorry I've been M.I.A. I wish I had a cool story to tell you about where I've been and what I've been up to, but truth be told, I've just been a lazy sack the past week and a half! HOWEVER, there have been a handful of little gems I've been completely loving lately that I thought deserved a shout-out and I wanted you all to know about my little dream team of products! Without further ado...

Mario Badescu Glycolic Grapefruit Cleansing Lotion | This one has somewhat of a misleading name. It's not a cleanser and it's not a lotion. It's toner. I knew that going into it since I knew what I was looking for (and I know some manufacturers sometimes call toner "lotion") so luckily I was not surprised. What did surprise me was how well this stuff worked. I had unfortunately broken out along my jaw line and chin area which is rare for me so I knew it was either stress or hormones. I had been reading great things about this toner so I thought I'd try it. Let me say this: breakouts were GONE within 2 days. And the rest of my skin is glowing and bright. Now, if you have sensitive skin, this is not going to be your jam. It can be a bit harsh due to the glycolic acid. If you have sensitive skin but are still dealing with congestion and breakouts, give their Alpha Grapefruit Cleansing Lotion a try instead. It's formulated for sensitive skin. This line has something for everyone and the price points are so affordable. I highly suggest going to Nordstrom or Ulta and giving them a shot.

Almay Liquid Eyeliner | I have been looking for a liquid eyeliner that dries to a matte finish and doesn't have a felt tip for ages. The only one I've been able to find is by Napoleon Perdis and I just don't want to spend $30 every time I need to replace my liquid liner. This one by Almay is absolutely incredible and it's under $10. It dries matte (yay!) and the applicator is this funky little pointed silicone tip. It takes a skilled hand, so if you're not a liquid liner aficionado, it's going to take some practice. I'm so obsessed with this little diamond in the rough. It's damn near perfect.

L'Oreal Boost it Blow Out HeatSpray | Picked this guy up on a whim at Target because I was out of volumizer and I was too lazy to stop by professional beauty supply and restock my Kenra spray foam. While this one isn't quite as good as professional products, it did knock my socks off for a drugstore product under $5. If you have fine hair that needs a little "oomph" before you blow dry, give this guy a shot. It also doubles as a heat protectant which is fabulous for those blow drying and flat ironing (or curling).

MAC Lipstick in "So Chaud" | The silly widget picture above is not showing the correct color BUT I am obsessssssed with this color lately. It is the perfect orangey red with the best satin/matte finish. It's not as intense as "Lady Danger" and it literally looks good on every skin tone. Fair, olive, dark, this is a color that every adventurous gal needs to own. Get it, love it, and then thank me later when everyone and their monkey's uncle has complimented you on how sexy you look.

L'Oreal Paris Telescopic Dramatic Lengthening & Intensifying Mascara in "Carbon Black" | This is one of those mascaras that either you love or you hate. I'm in the former camp. I have always been a fan of the L'Oreal Paris Telescopic Shocking Extensions mascara, but this one is even more intense. I'm able to get the most ridiculously dark, long, plump lashes with this stuff. The brush is super skinny and flexible (that's one of the things I love but others hate) and you have to be a bit skillful in order not to get 'spider lashes' but that's never an issue for me. Plus, sometimes I just love a good Drag Queen lash. Sue me. Because of the brush, I'm able to reach even the tiniest of lashes and make them POP!

Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat | I feel like I talk about this top coat a lot. I don't even care. It deserves an endless amount of praise. Why? Because it dries FAST. I mean, 30 seconds fast. And the finish is super glossy and perfect. You can find this at Ulta but it's expensive there. If you have a Sally Beauty Supply in your area, it's about $3 to $4 cheaper. Sometimes you can find it on Amazon, too. I will never use another top coat ever in my life. Ever. Don't even try me.

What products have you been loving lately? I'm always on the lookout for must-haves to add to my collection!
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