Saturday, December 31, 2016

My Top 10 Makeup Products of 2016

Well there are only a few hours left in 2016 and it seemed like a good time to reflect on the makeup products that I relied on the most during this past year.  I have my top ten, in no particular order, to share with you today.  (And a little bonus of a few other great products, because more recommendations never hurt, right?)

1. elf makeup mist and set, $3.00 - I love this setting spray for taking away the powdery look after my face makeup is done.  I also like that it doesn't make my makeup look dewy, but just blends everything together and makes it look more natural.
2. covergirl clean matte bb cream in fair, $7.99 - Over the summer I felt like everyone was raving about this bb cream.  I gave it a try to see what all the hype was about and I have used it almost every day since.  I don't usually want a lot of coverage but this just makes my complexion look really even without looking like I'm wearing a ton of makeup.  This bottle is actually almost empty and you can assure I already have a backup ready to go!
3. maybelline colossal volum' express waterproof mascara in classic black, $7.77 - If you've been with me for a long time, you know I've loved this mascara for ages.  However, lately I've noticed some flaking off in the inner corner.  I love how it holds a curl though so I use it as my first layer of mascara.
4. covergirl clump crusher water resistant in very black, $7.99 - After applying colossal, I layer this on top and it still holds a curl but this mascara does a great job of not flaking and keep anything under it from flaking as well.  It adds great length and some volume and I also love how it's water resistant but at the end of the day, it comes off really easily.  These two mascaras paired together are a perfect match!
5. milani eyeshadow primer, $7.00 - I've tried other eyeshadow primers but I just always come back to this one.  It does a great job of making my shadow last without creasing.
6. benefit erase paste in fair, $26.00 - I first tried this product back in December of 2015 and I've basically used it almost every day since then.  I have extremely dark under eye circles and this is hands down the best item I've found to cover them.  I love how emollient it is so it adds moisture to the dry under eye area yet is still incredibly opaque.
7. elf instant lift brow pencil in neutral brown, $2.00 - I love the ease of eyebrow pencils but they are usually too warm toned for me but this one is perfect!  I've almost used the whole thing up and this is another item I already have a backup for.  You can see how well loved this product is by how haggard the packaging is.  For the two dollar price tag, I think you get an amazing product that comes in cheap packaging.  As you can see, my spoolie end has broken and I've taped it back up.  But I like it so much I could still use the pencil side and just a different spoolie.
8. rimmel scandaleyes waterproof kohl eyeliner in nude, $3.97 - This liner is great at making you look less tired when applied to the waterline.  I use it almost every day.  You can see I've used a lot of it up but it lasts a really long time.  It's good stuff!
9. carmex classic lip balm, $0.98 - While this might not be considered a makeup item, seeing as how it's colorless, it would definitely be my absolute number one top makeup item.  I have tubes of this in so many different places in my life.  I use it absolutely every single day, many times a day.  Even if I do nothing more than wash my face, I will always have this on.  It's a dry lipped girl's dream come true!
10. essence matt touch blush in berry me up! - I'm not sure what the price of this item is or even if it is available in the USA yet but for my European friends, you need to get this!  I bought mine while I was in Berlin this summer and I have been loving it every moment since then!  It's just the easiest, quickest and most easy to blend blush.  I've had to force myself to branch out to other ones ever since I bought this one.

Bonus Items!  
11. manic panic dreamtone color corrector in virgin, $8.73 - This product has been amazing for me.  I'm so fair that a lot of concealers and foundations are too dark for me, even in the lightest shade.  I add just a bit of this to a product that is too dark and then I can make it work for me!  I've used it most often mixed with the elf hd lifting concealer.  However, beware that if you add a lot of it to say, a foundation, it can change the consistency of the foundation.  I don't find it to be too big of an issue but it can make the foundation or concealer set faster than it normally would.  But it's not a deal breaker by any means.
12. elf hd lifting concealer in fair, $3.00 - This concealer is fantastic!  I love it for blemishes because (when combined with the color corrector) it blends out amazingly, lasts really well throughout the day, and is easy to work with.  I've already gone through one or two other tubes of this and I have a backup too.  For three bucks, I can keep one in my bag for touchups too.
13. milani color statement lipstick in pretty natural, $6.00 - This is the perfect professional lipstick.  There've been several times that I've had an impromptu meeting on days where I hadn't done my hair or makeup as nicely as I'd like and I just throw this on and immediately feel more put together.  I even have two tubes of it, one for my makeup desk and one in my purse.
14. essence sheer and shine lipstick in bff, $2.99 - This is a lipstick that just makes your face immediately look brighter and healthier.  It gives just enough color and shine to really give something back to your face without looking unnatural.
15. maybelline baby lips in cherry me, $4.49 - This product is quite similar to the sheer and shine lipstick but it's more moisturizing.  I don't feel like I need a mirror to apply it and it works with any other makeup you're wearing.  Just like the milani lipstick, I have two of these so I can have one in my purse and one in my makeup desk.
16. elf mad for matte eyeshadow palette, $10.00 - I switch around with eyeshadow a ton and rarely use the same thing more than once a week but I find myself going back to this palette a lot.  Every shadow in it is fantastic and the palette is great on its own but also works really well with other shimmery shadows.  It's got all of the basic matte shadows a girl could want and I really love it.  If you like matte shadows and don't have it yet, go to Target and get one!  You won't regret it.
17. essence gel eye pencil waterproof in black blaze, $2.99 - This liner is amazing for tightlining!  It's really black and goes on smoothly but lasts fantastically on the upper waterline.  I haven't really tried it elsewhere on my eyes, but for that purpose, it's wonderful.
18. wet n wild color icon eyeshadow single in brulee, $0.99 - This little eyeshadow is a total workhorse and I use it almost every day.  It makes a great brow highlight shade because it's matte.  I also like to use it a lot all over the lid with just a medium matte shadow in the crease.  It's a basic that gets a ton of use from me and I've been through multiples of this little shadow.

What makeup products were a staple for you in 2016?  I'd love to hear any product recommendations you have!  What's your favorite drugstore makeup item?

Friday, December 30, 2016

My Plan to Get Back on Track for the New Year

Let me just say, I am not a New Year's Resolution person.  For me, most of them just don't stick past the first three weeks of the new year.  What I'm really preferring to call this is: My Plan to Get Back on Track for the New Year.  Allow me to explain.

Back in August, I had written about how I was having some minor health issues due to my poor lifestyle choices.  After talking with my doctor, we agreed that the best plan to fix my problem was for me to eat healthier and exercise more often so that I could lose the ten pounds that I had gained in the last year.  I took this very seriously and for all of August and September, I ate really healthy and worked out like a beast seven days a week.  I did really well with losing weight, steadily shedding half a pound a week every week.  However, it became exhausting working out like that.  My entire life was revolving around exercising and it was taking up all of my free time during the week.  Constantly denying myself fries and sweets and the things I loved was creating a constant mental battle between my cravings and my willpower.

When October rolled around, I started to slow down on the exercise.  I switched from cardio and strength training to doing yoga seven days a week but I was still eating a very restricted diet.  Then November came and the week of Thanksgiving I had a really bad cold.  With the combination of the holidays and not feeling well, I basically slouched around on the couch for the twelve day duration of my cold.  I didn't exercise at all and I ate whatever made me feel better - ramen noodles, mashed potatoes, leftover pie... you get the picture, right?

When I finally started feeling better, I got back on track with eating a little bit better but I made no effort any more to exercise.  I still was getting 10,000 steps a day every day but a lot of the time that was achieved by walking in place while watching YouTube.  Needless to say, after Christmas feasting, I've gained back quite a bit of the weight that I had lost.  Some of it is water that I'm retaining from all the excess salt but a good bit of it is also just extra fat that I've gained back from all those extra holiday calories.  I definitely don't want to continue in this pattern, so I've formulated a plan to get back on track for the new year so I can eventually meet my goal of losing that ten pounds.

1. Make healthier food choices.
Losing weight is a numbers game.  You have to burn more calories than you're taking in.  What I've found is that it is easier for me to just eat healthier than try to burn a ton of calories through exercise.  My problem is that I love to eat!  But cleaning your plate when it's full of spinach and vegetables is still a lot less calories than cleaning a plate of chicken fingers and French fries.  I know how to eat healthy, I just need to make an effort to do it.  For me, that starts with having lots of fresh produce and healthy snacks in the house and not having a bunch of junk food around to tempt me.

2. Exercise routinely... only five days a week.
Next, I know I need to get back to exercising routinely.  However, when I was doing thirty to ninety minutes of cardio and strength training and exercising seven days a week, I burnt myself out.  I plan on doing yoga, which I really enjoy both physically and mentally, but only five days a week and for thirty minutes.  Giving myself a couple days off leaves me permission to work around my schedule more.  If I have a particularly busy weekday, I can take a day off and workout on the weekend instead.  Or I can do sixty minutes the next day instead of thirty twice.  Also, I feel like yoga is exercise that I can sustain much better.  Cardio and strength training were making my blood sugars plummet - which caused me to consume more calories to raise it - which caused me to want to do more cardio to burn the calories - horrible cycle.  For me as a diabetic, yoga is much more gentle on the body while still building stronger muscles, increasing flexibility, and calming my overly active mind.

3. Get 10,000 steps six days a week.
Another way I burnt myself out was setting the expectation that I should get 10,000 steps a day, every day.  Even on weekends.  This time, I'm giving myself permission to spend one day out of the weekend just relaxing and recharging for the week to come.  Just that little thing gives me a lot more energy to accomplish my other goals throughout the rest of the week without feeling so exhausted and stressed out about getting steps in.

4. Go to sleep earlier.
Sleep!  It's the missing piece for a lot of people who are trying to lose weight.  Your body needs sleep to power your workouts but also some people who are sleep deprived have an increase in cravings for excess calories.  Plus being sleep deprived makes you age prematurely!  I'm pretty good about getting into bed early but those darn electronics keep me distracted and awake way longer than I need to be.  I need to work on putting the phone down and actually going to sleep.

5. Leave some wiggle room.
Finally, I need to give myself some wiggle room.  Having a piece of chocolate or some ice cream every now and then will not ruin me but depriving myself completely until I have a mental food breakdown may.  I feel like that's sort of what happened around Thanksgiving and Christmas when I definitely had some Cookie Monster moments.  And if I only get in four workouts in a week, that's okay!  I need to learn to not be so hard on myself when no one else has crazy unrealistic expectations for me.

Do you have any New Year's Resolutions?  How do you maintain a lifestyle of eating healthy and exercising?  I'd love to hear from you!  I hope you all have a wonderful, safe New Year's Eve!  Here's to a great 2017!  🍾 🥂 🎉 🎆 🎇

Saturday, December 17, 2016

BuddhiBox December 2016

With just a few days left until Christmas, I was excited to get my BuddhiBox in the mail, as I had kind of forgotten about it in all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.  And I was pretty excited by what I saw inside!  If you missed any of the other boxes I posted about, the links for all of them are below.

November 2016
October 2016
September 2016

Lip and Cheek Tint
(shade name is Glisten)
by Orglamix 
$18.00 for full size (equal to $4.50 for the 2.5g size I received)
*Cruelty Free, Vegan
As a makeup lover, I was really excited about this at first.  A lip and cheek gelee in a pretty neutral tone!  Upon closer inspection, this product is laden with shimmer.  On the lips, the golden shimmer is very noticeable and borderline frosty.  I tried it on my cheeks today but I wasn't wearing any other makeup so I'm just not sure how it will look.  It's very balmy, which makes the texture great for lips but not so great for cheeks.  I don't think it will set and therefore will look very dewy with the possibility of sliding around on the cheeks.  It might set well and could work really well for those with dry skin.  For me, I'd rather use a matte powder.  And if I'm going to use it on my lips, I don't want shimmer in it.  We'll see about this with more trial, but I'm a little disappointed.

Sugar Lips Peppermint Scrub
by Bear's Beauty
$20.92 for full size ($0.92 for approximately 2.5g size I received)
*Cruelty Free, Vegan
I always like a good lip scrub!  I just finished up my elf lip balm scrub so this is a perfect time to try out a trial size of something else.  This smells great and the texture looks really nice.  I'm excited to try this one too!

Peppermint Tea
by TeaPigs
I've been on a total tea kick the past month, including having bought a tea kettle just this week so I was really thrilled about this!  I made myself a cup of this last night.  While peppermint tea is not my favorite and wouldn't have been my personal choice, this was still really good and truly tasted like authentic peppermint and not weird artificial peppermint flavor.  It definitely had a "minty cool" flavor as described and I like that it's caffeine free.  As far as peppermint tea goes, this is a really good one!  I think it would be great for someone with a stuffy nose.  I can see myself using the whole pack of 15 bags but it will probably take me awhile.  I just prefer my boring old orange pekoe tea.

Gratitude Candle
by Pure Candle Company
*Cruelty Free, Vegan
I love candles during the holidays and I'm really happy to have received this one.  I'm looking forward to burning it and I'm glad I received this scent, which is described as white spruce, cedar, and rose wood.  Although I swear I detect a hint of lavender.  Either way, it's a great Christmas scent.

Sparkling Mala
by BuddhiBox
I love love love this mala necklace!  I think it's a simple yet beautiful piece that I can see myself wearing a lot.  I think the lovely moss green color would look great with a burgundy sweater on Christmas too!  I can see myself wearing this quite a bit.  I'm already picturing it with jeans, a plain top, and ankle boots [sort of like Audrey's wearing here].  This is probably one of my favorite items in this box.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bar
by Amazing Grass
*Organic, Vegan
I guess we were supposed to get the Dark Chocolate Sea Salt flavored bar, as that's what is listed on the card, but I got the chocolate peanut butter flavor instead.  I'm totally okay with that though, because I don't particularly like dark chocolate but I love me some chocolate peanut butter!  I was so delighted to eat this, as those are two of my favorite flavor combinations.  As soon as I was done taking these photos, I tore into this baby... and saw the most unusual texture and color ever.  Allow me to tell you that this tastes just like it looks on the inside - gross.

The texture was nasty.  It was difficult to chew to the point that it sort of made my jar sore.  I didn't notice any taste of peanut butter but it sure tasted weirdly salty.  The flavor was just off in every way.  I had my husband try it and he thought the same thing... nothing about it was right and it had a bitter gross aftertaste.  Even the chocolate was wrong.  This was so incredibly disappointing and yucky.  I don't know how you screw up chocolate and peanut butter but somehow this did.  If this is what healthy tastes like, I'll stick to my regular unhealthy Reese's cups, thank you very much.

Raga Nail Polish - BuddhiBox Bonus!
by Raga Varnish
(shade name is Ganesha)
*Cruelty Free, Vegan, 5 free, paraben free
I could not have been more pleased with the color of this polish.  I know this may show what an incredibly boring person I am but this shade is one of my favorite nail polish shades ever!  I think a light grey creme shade is perfect for a sophisticated, professional manicure.  I'm looking forward to trying it and seeing how it compares to my normal polishes.

BuddhiBox Extras
And of course some of my absolute favorite items are the cards that come with each box.  You get a quote that has the items listed on the back, a beautiful yoga pose, and this month you also got a recipe for Earl Grey Maple Hot Chocolate.  The yoga pose is the plow pose - which is exciting to me because I can actually do that pose!  A lot of times I feel like the poses are too difficult for me.  And the card with the pose is exceptionally lovely this month.

Total Value: $79.86

I absolutely loved this month's box!  Last month I just felt a bit disappointed but I'm totally digging this month's surprises.  I also feel like it was a really good value for what you got.  The most disappointing item to me was the chocolate protein bar (although I'm sure there are people out there that would love it) and the item I liked the most is the mala necklace.  What about you?  What do you think stands out as great in this box?

Friday, December 2, 2016

All the Ankle Boots

For the longest time, I have been opposed to ankle boots.  Since I’m so short, I thought they would make my legs look even shorter and stumpier than they already are.  Then a few weeks ago, hubby and I went on a double date with our friends and she was wearing the cutest pair of ankle boots.  And they didn’t make her legs look short!  They made her plain T-shirt and jeans outfit look totally stylish and cute!  Then I started to wonder why I even care how my legs look to other people if I like the shoes I'm wearing.  That was the moment that I converted from a naysayer to a lover of ankle boots.  And now I want to own all the ankle boots!  And I've also decided that ankle boots are perfect footwear for Florida because I want to wear boots but Florida is hot enough that you really only need 1/4 of a boot for warmth.  :-P

I have since purchased four different pairs of ankle boots and because they are all still currently available, I thought it would be a good time to review them and share my thoughts.  And if you happen to be Christmas shopping for someone else this weekend and decide you should treat yourself to a little something too… well, I won’t tell if you won’t!

Black Western Boot
purchased from Walmart [link]

This was the first pair I purchased and I consider them my “gateway drug” into the addicting world of ankle boots.  I bought this pair at Walmart on Black Friday for under $20.  They are a western boot style and though they are described as “cowgirl style”, I don’t think they look costumey or too western.  I wore them on Monday and received a ton of compliments on them.  One of the things that I particularly like about this pair is that they have the little cutout in the front that makes your legs look a bit longer.  And they are comfortable!  I had a busy day Monday and walked 10,000 steps in them without my feet hurting.  They do have a bit of a heel, but it’s only a two inch heel so it’s quite manageable.  They also have a pointed toe and they zip up on the inside.  If you’re not sure if you’ll like ankle boots, theses are a great pair to give the style a try with little financial risk if you don’t like them.  For reference, I usually wear a size six wide in shoes and the six and a half fit me just fine without feeling tight at all.

High Heeled Buckled Bootie
purchased from Famous Footwear [link]

This is the second pair I bought and… I don’t know what I was thinking.  They are really pretty but just so uncomfortable and impractical.  I wore these for part of the day on Tuesday and I regretted it the entire time I had them on.  I basically only walked from my car to my office and then sat in meetings all morning and my feet were still killing me.  And not only my feet, but also my hips!  I don’t know if it was the way I had to walk in them, but my hips hurt for the whole next day as well.  They have a three and a half inch heel, the fabric is incredibly rigid and stiff, and they were so difficult to walk in.  I felt like I was clomping around like a Sasquatch the whole time I had them on and my feet even hurt when I was sitting.  At the first chance I had, I changed into my slippers I keep under my desk and kept them on the rest of the day.  I’ve already returned these and I don’t recommend them.  Though they served as a good reminder that I am not a high heel person.  For reference, I bought them in a six and a half and they both pinched the wide part of my feet and hurt my toes.

Brown Western Boot
purchased from Famous Footwear [link]
Also Available on Amazon in several colors:
     brown [link]
     cinnamon [link]
     sand [link]

When I went to return the other pair of boots to Famous Footwear, I found two more I liked and this was the fifty percent off pair.  (Famous Footwear is running a BOGO 50% off sale until 12/3.)  These are really similar to the black pair that I bought first but in a brown tone.  The other differences are that these have a higher boot shaft height and they are pull on.  I don’t have any trouble getting them on or off without the zipper though and I sort of like the sleeker look without the zipper.  I found these to be just a bit tighter in the area where my feet are wide but they are still not uncomfortable and they don’t pinch.  Again, I bought these in a six and a half because they didn’t have wide sizes.  And this same style is available on Amazon in different colors!  I kind of want them all.  😆

Low Heel Buckled Boot
purchased from Famous Footwear [link]

These boots were my solution to the uncomfortable high heeled buckle ones above.  I really wanted a pair with straps and buckles that were similar to the pair my friend wore that originally convinced me that even I could wear ankle boots.  These ones had a much more practical heel height of two inches and were a lot more comfortable.  I wore them to work two days this week, both of which were very busy days and my feet didn’t hurt for a minute.  These ones are cut straight across your leg so some people may find that they are a bit less flattering than the two western style pairs that have the cutout.  However, I still think they look really cute, just in a different way.  I really like how these look with chinos and jeans but I think the western style boots look better with skirts and dresses.  For reference, I had to buy these in a size seven because the store didn’t have a six and a half in stock for me to try on.  However, I don’t feel like they are so long on me that I’m tripping on the toes or anything.  Maybe they run small?  And they are made of real suede as well.

In summary, I would recommend either pair of western boots or the authentic suede buckle ones with the low heel.  As far as those high heel boots, I wouldn’t recommend them at all.  Even if you just needed to wear them for a short time, I think you would regret it the entire time those shoes are on your feet.

Have you gotten on board with ankle boots?  If so, how do you style your ankle boots?  I’d love to hear from you!