Ulta Haul!

For my wedding, in less than two months, I’m not paying someone to do my makeup. We’re having something pretty relaxed and simple, and I don’t want my face to look super out of the ordinary. But with that I do want everything on my face to stay on all day, and to look really good, since you only get one chance at wedding pictures that you have for the rest of your life! With that in mind, Ulta became my new best friend for buying stuff online after spending forever looking at reviews. Here’s what two orders and something like a hundred dollars got me:

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I’ve tried various forms of waxing and sugaring before, everything from DIY stuff to a salon. I wasn’t super impressed with having someone else do it (though I’d be willing to try a different place and person), and I burnt myself once making my own sugaring gel. People raved about Parissa at-home waxing, so I decided to try it out.

Parissa – Face & Body Sugar [$12.99]
I tried this sugar/wax on my right leg, and Nair wax strips on my left. I swear this stuff hurt a little bit less, but that could easily be my imagination :) It did leave a noticeable amount of hairs here and there, but I’m guessing some of that is simply because I’m new to using it and could have done a better job. It worked really well for touching up the places that I missed, and the leg that got the sugar was less sensitive than the other, which could have been from the oil it came with to slather on your freshly waxed parts.

Parissa – Wax Strips [$9.99]
I liked how small these were for waxing my upper lip. They did a fantastic job pulling those little hairs, but struggled with my underarm hair, and left a few tiny bumps above my lip. I probably would buy them again, just for my face, but they didn’t seem to handle thick hairs well.

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Lee Stafford – Blinding Brunette Shampoo & Conditioner [$9.99]
I was intrigued by the idea of toning shampoo to help get rid of the fading my hair has towards the end. I’m naturally a dark brunette with hair that lightens quickly in the sun, but I’ve been dying my hair sporadically for a few years after a friend gave me highlights (that I loved, but didn’t want to keep up) that I wanted to blend back into my hair. I could only find a few reviews of this shampoo, but they were very positive, so I went for it. My opinion?  It’s just so-so. Maybe I was expecting a little too much from it, but I can’t decide if it actually made my hair color look better, or if cutting a few inches off the ends helped with the brassy/reddish tint. Mostly I don’t like how it makes my hair feel. My second-day hair is great, but the first day my hair feels a little gunky and it’s not very smooth.

Olay - Complete Night Fortifying Moisture Cream [$13.99]
This stuff is great! It hasn’t made me break out at all, doesn’t feel greasy as I go to sleep, and my skin feels super soft in the morning. Awesome. That’s all.

Marc Anthony – Oil of Morocco Argan Oil Shampoo & Conditioner [$7.99]
I’m restraining myself from opening this until my current shampoo/conditioner is gone, just so I don’t have endless open bottles of hair stuff that I forget about. I’m excited to try sulfate-free shampoo, especially if it’s less irritating and can fix whatever weirdness is making my scalp dry.

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Eco Tools – Bamboo Foundation Brush [$7.49]
I’m not a brush expert, in fact this is the first foundation brush I’ve owned, but I like it. The brush is soft, it isn’t losing bristles, and it definitely makes putting on foundation easier, which for the price is pretty great.

Maybelline – Full ‘N Soft Mascara (Very Black) [$7.49]
This is my everyday mascara. I like that it’s waterproof , since I live in a pretty wet area and it never smudges during the day. My old one was starting to get clumpy, so this was a replacement.

NYX – Powder Blush (Peach & Pinched) [$5.99]
I would buy this blush again, but I’d want to see the colors in the store. I was a little disappointed by how pink the “peach” looked on my face – what I wanted was a more beige-y rather than pink-y. Both colors also are much more pigmented/bright than what I’m used to, so it took a few tries to get just the right amount on my face, but once I got the hang of it they looked good.

Mally – 4pc Gift w/ Purchase [free with $50 purchase]
This little bag had two eyeliners, a mascara, and a lipgloss. Worst to best … Lipgloss: It felt funny, and the brush was weird to use for applying it. Mascara: I really like this stuff! It went on smooth and made my lashes look great, but by the end of the day a little had smudged under my eyes. Eyeliners, in midnight and royal plum colors: Wow! This is probably the best eyeliner I’ve ever used. The pencil just glides over your skin in a perfect line, and it’s crazy waterproof. Getting if off was the only challenge I had.

Wedding Planning Lessons

It’s six weeks and two days until what’s supposed to be probably the biggest day of my life so far. Am I done planning it? Heck no. Have I done things wrong? Yes. Am I excited? Duh. These are some of the things I’ve found during my 6 months as a self-wedding-planner.

1. Be Organized
And check your organized stuff regularly! My final payments for the venue and photographer are getting sent at the very last minute, and while both of them are very laid back and would be fine if the check was a day late, I hate that I let things get to that point.

2. Be Adaptable
My original organization systems involved a pre-made spreadsheet for budgeting, using wedding timelines like the one on theknot.com, and having a “wedding binder” with checklists and folders for paperwork. This didn’t work at all. Our budgeting spreadsheet went out the window after a week when we found out that my parents would be helping us out with money very generously, and that his parents would contribute also. The binder is nice, but I’m buying an accordion folder next week because things fall out of the binder a lot, and I don’t want to show up on my wedding day missing major paperwork.

3. My Wedding is Different
Not in an “I’m a special snowflake” kind of way, but in a “this list of what/when to do things for my wedding won’t work” kind of way. Send out save the dates 10 months in advance? Buy a wedding dress 10 months before the wedding? I got engaged 8 months before the date we set for the wedding, I can’t really keep that timeline. Hire a calligrapher? Nope. Get alterations? Actually, my dress is seriously magical and fits perfectly off the rack. All of that is okay, but it’s hard to think you’re not doing something wrong when your idea of a wedding isn’t perfectly aligned with what seems to be the norm.

4. Ignore 60% of the Internet
This ties in with number 3. I’ve spent way too much time on bridal message boards, and I know exactly what kinds of negative comments I could get about my wedding if I posted all the details:
(reception food is going to be heavy appetizers, enough that people can fill plates, because it seemed more fun and cheaper that way)
“You’re not having a sit down meal?? You’re a terrible hostess, I would probably leave.”

(we’re not hiring a DJ, but having a friend who knows his way around a sound board run playlists for us, because of cost and not wanting to risk hiring a super cheesy DJ that plays music we don’t want)
“DJs can read the crowd and know what’s best to play. Lots more people will dance with a DJ.”

(we’re having lawn games and board games and a fire pit/s’mores at the reception so people have lots of stuff to do)
“Playing lawn games in nice clothes is so hard, nobody will want to play croquet.”

(some people/family will be asked ahead of time to help move chairs the 30 feet between the ceremony and reception, with hopes that other guests will join in, because the venue has 175 chairs and we’re expecting 150 guests)
“You should just rent more chairs, guests should not be expected to carry a chair, that’s terrible etiquaette.”

You get the idea. But internet strangers apparently come from very different social circles. 90% of them appear to be much farther along in planning, and many of them seem to have very wealthy friends if cash bars/no bar and no sit down meal would be a terrible situation (hey, at least we have an open bar!). Friends that I’ve asked are excited about lots of appetizers. They’re looking forward to hummus and meatballs and little sandwiches and fruit trays. They think strawberries and cake will be a great dessert. They love that there will be mad libs and jenga and croquet and frisbees, and they won’t be dressed so fancy that they feel like they can’t play.

This last bit is what I really need to focus on now. Just because I don’t 100% have food figured out, or know exactly where we’re getting the flowers for our DIY bouquets, doesn’t mean I’m failing at being a bride planning her wedding. Deep breaths. Calm. It’s going to only get better from here.

Birchbox [April 2014] (& Mini Haul)

1-IMG_2790Birchbox unboxing time!

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Almost every month I can’t help but cheat and peek at what I’m getting when it feels like my box is taking too long to ship, so nothing was a surprise. But, I didn’t know what colors/flavors I was getting, so there was a tine bit of anticipation there :) I wasn’t hugely excited about anything except the KIND bar, but I ended up pleasantly surprised by how much I liked my box!

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KIND bar (Maple Pumpkin Seed with Sea Salt) [$11.88 for 15]
I love that these are GMO free/whole grain/healthy and all that. They have a full serving of whole grains, a good amount of fiber, and less sugar/fat/sodium than a candy bar. They don’t have as much protein as other bar-snack-things, but I would love to have these on hand as an on-the-go snack! Since they ship free from Birchbox, it’s actually a good deal to buy from them, at least if you’re like me and don’t live near a grocery store that carries them.

Color Club (Gala’s Gems Collection, Breakfast at …) [$13 for the whole set]
I’m not a huge nail polish person, but I was excited to put a new color on my toes that was so light and spring-y. The color went on well, and at least in the first day hasn’t chipped. I really like getting small bottles like this, since I never use polish fast enough!

Sumita (Color Contrast Eyeliner, Jamun/Deep Purple) [$11]
Eyeliner isn’t something I wear on a regular basis, especially not purple, but I was really happy with this pencil. Lately I’ve been learning more about makeup, and realizing that a lot of my problems with making it look good is simply that I was using low quality makeup and tools. This eyeliner went on smooth, but also came off easily when I made a mistake. The purple is really dark, which is great as an everyday color that still has a little fun to it.

Gilchrist & Soames (Spa Therapy Body Wash) [$15]
I have so many random body washes and soaps that  I figured there was no way I’d want to buy the full size. So of course, I ended up loving it. My skin actually does feel softer after using it, and it has a nice barely even noticeable scent. If I ever feel like splurging on body wash sometimes I’ll buy this stuff!

Miss Jessie’s (Transitioner’s Magic) [$22]
I’ve used Miss Jessie’s Pillow Soft Curls and currently use Jelly Soft Curls, and like both of those products. This stuff wasn’t hold my wavyish curlyish hair as well as the Jelly Soft Curls, but it did feel soft as well as controlled. The smell wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t my favorite, so I wouldn’t  get the full size bottle.

And for some bonus Birchbox awesomeness, I bought a few things that arrived within a few days of my monthly box! I used some of my saved-up points, so this all cost me $30.

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Paula’s Choice (Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner) [$18]
I’ve been trying to step up my daily skincare routine to try and get my skin to look better for my wedding in June, and from my research I decided that adding toner at bedtime would be a good idea, and this one had good ratings. I’ve only used it a few times, so I can’t comment on the long-term effects, but it hasn’t dried out my skin or made me break out. Unlike the astringent I tried using in high school, this stuff does not burn my face, which is great! I’m crossing my fingers that in a month I’ll really be seeing better skin.

Caudalie (Divine Oil) [$32]
This was definitely a splurge item. I got a sample of it forever ago, and liked it a lot, but it’s pricey. It is so great though for having a “dewy” look on my arms and legs without actually feeling oily. A tiny bit is great for shiny hair too! I like the spray bottle, but I feel like the spray is either too misty and some of the oil lands on the floor, or it gets clogged(?) and I might as well be pouring it out of the bottle.

Mystery Sample Pack! Probably the best one I’ve gotten yet in an order.
Color Club (Baldwin Blues)
This went perfectly with the green from my box.

Coastal Scents (Reveled Palette Sampler)
I liked how well the sample colors worked together! They blended easily and looked nice. My one complaint is that overall they were a little more shimmery than I usually like for daily wearing. I was really glad to be able to try out Coastal Scents, since the palette/brush combos BB has are tempting!

Wantable Intimates Box [April 2014]

I love getting mail. Even more than normal mail, I love getting packages, which has turned into a slow addiction to online shopping. Especially monthly boxes, though I’ve restrained myself to stay at two – which meant trading in NatureBox for Wantable Intimates last year to go along with Birchbox. It’s sometimes fun to see what other people get in their boxes, so, here is my April box!

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This was a two-box kind of month. When I opened my first box the pair of underwear on top was an XXL pair that wasn’t on my packing slip, and after taking it all out I realized that I’d gotten a too-large pair of underwear instead of a Steve Madden chemise. Bummer! Luckily their customer service quickly (seriously, both times shipping took two days to go halfway across the country!) sent me a new box with another tank top and pair of underwear.

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Bella + Canvas – Janet Racerback Tank (Yellow, Large) [$22.90]
Pima Apparel – Cotton Racerback Tank (Pink, XL) [$8.49]

A few months ago I got the Bella + Canvas tank in pink, and was excited to get another! It’s long enough for my tall torso, and really soft. Because it’s light, I probably would never wear it on it’s own, but it’s a wonderful layering tank. The pink tank top is a little big, but super was super comfy to sleep in.

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Sock It To Me – Brown Bird Socks [$12]
Honeydew – Scarlette Hipster Panties (Grey salt/cupcake, Large) [$14]
Rhonda Shear – Cheeky Lace Panty (Cotton candy pink, Medium) [$22.90]

These are some of the best knee socks I’ve worn as far as size. I have big size 10 feet and long legs, so sometimes socks are a little too tight, but these aren’t! The bird pattern is pretty fun too. Of the two pairs of underwear, I LOVE the grey and pink! They are so comfortable, and super cute. The pale pink pair is less practical and more … decorative. I wouldn’t buy another pair, especially since they retail at $23, but I’m okay keeping these in my underwear drawer.

This was a pretty good box! I’d put my subscription on hold for a few months, and this was a good way to get it back.

Just A Small Town Girl …

I’ve always avoided big cities. All of the cars and constant noise stresses me out, and the general lack of trees is just a bit sad. But even though I never saw myself living somewhere like downtown Seattle, I really never thought I’d ever call a small rural town with no stoplights my home. Here I am though, almost four months into my life in a place with no bank and a single gas station that occasionally is closed because it runs out of gas before the next truckload arrives, Yeah, not really my kind of town, but I’ve learned recently that I’m no exception to people doing crazy things for love.

When my first-year-science-teacher of a boyfriend took a job four hours away from our old city, I braced myself for a long distance kind of thing. Turns out that long distance really sucks. And after a whole 2 months of living far apart, boyfriend became fiance, and I made plans to quit my jobs and move at the end of winter break. So I left the town I’d lived in for 5 years, moved my life’s belongings for the 2nd time since June, and found myself a trailer.

Because small towns apparently all have small houses, and the easiest way to get a small house is to find one you could move with a very large truck.

This new life hasn’t been easy. When I’ve complained to my friends about the ants (!) that have recently appeared in my trailer-park trailer, I got the response of “that is the most hick thing you’ve ever said”. They’re totally right. Some of that will get better when fiance becomes husband and we move in together – his house (okay, trailer, but it’s 20 years newer and a lot nicer than mine) doesn’t have mice, and does look out over the water. In the fall I will likely have a permanent job at the school rather than subbing. But the fact that making friends in your 20s is hard, especially when there aren’t many to choose from, won’t change. The fact that it’s generally rainy and during the winter the sun seems to set obscenely early won’t change. The fact that growing up and moving on from old faces and places really won’t change.

Sometimes it feels like every day is a little battle where I have to fight to find the good and joyful and bright things in life. I want this blog to capture those attempts to seek happy sunshine even when it’s (metaphorically and literally) raining. So here begins my journey to find joy in a small town.