Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Here in the U.S., we’ve been getting lots and lots of cold/snowy/icy weather.  People who have lived their whole lives never having seen snow are getting to experience it for the first time, due to some strange weather patterns that have brought snow to the southern states.  It’s been horrible – tons of school closures and delays, power outages, accidents.  Nightmarish.

I actually live in the South because I hate this kind of weather.  I grew up in the North and call myself a “refugee” of the cold.  When family asks me when I’ll move “back North”, I say: “When the equator shifts”.  The only day of the year I miss snow is Christmas.  I’d love to have a white Christmas.  I just want it to be 75 degrees.  Is that so much to ask?

Although I hate snow and have NO desire to live in it, I think it’s pretty.  Since we don’t get snow here except on a very rare occasion and in very limited amounts, I decided I could wear some snow – on my nails.

My very talented daughter did this nail art for me around the holidays:

(not a great photo - I took it with my phone...)

(not a great photo – I took it with my phone…)

20131221_172613

I’m not usually a fan of nail art on myself.  I tend to think it should be reserved for much younger, trendier people.  But my daughter really enjoys doing it and everyone who knows me knows this is as close as I want to get to having snow.  🙂

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Really, Sephora?

For literally years, I’ve been waiting for Sephora to develop an Android app. (I was what you would call an “early adopter” to the concept of a smartphone – even before the invention of the iPhone and Android.)   The few times I’ve asked in this waiting period, the answer I got was the same: “We’re working on it.”  I was very excited to get an e-mail the other day telling me the Android app was available – finally!  Consider me un-excited…

Disclaimer:  I’m not going to engage in any iPhone vs Android discussion.  Android is better for me and my needs from a smartphone.  Some people swear by iPhones.  Regardless, both are valid options if you want the convenience of a smartphone.  Recognizing that many people have chosen Android, most companies develop apps for both types of phones.  Sephora is just behind the power curve. Way behind.  Onto the discussion about the actual app…

Lame:   This “app” is exactly the same as the mobile version of their website.  (I think it just links to their mobile site, actually.)  I’m not kidding.  There are zero differences – as far as I could tell.  So, why waste memory on my phone downloading the app?!?!

(actual images from my phone)

(actual images from my phone)

What the…?:  The iPhone version has actual features you’d expect from an app.   Example:  Promo code for free headphones with app download – which is advertised in the same e-mail I got telling me about the Android app but doesn’t show up on the Android app.  Also:  An option to receive notifications, leave app feedback, and a “contact us” feature.

(actual image from my daughter's iPhone)

(actual image from my daughter’s iPhone)

Insulting:  The impression I’m getting is that Sephora and/or its app developers don’t think Android users are tech-savvy enough to know how little effort they put into this “app”.

Long Story Short:  This is – by far – the most disappointing app I’ve ever downloaded.  I deleted it.  I can get as much convenience from “bookmarking” the Sephora website on my phone and navigating that way.  Here’s hoping Sephora makes an effort to create an actual app for Android users.

Blog Changes for 2014

Just a quick note to let everyone know I’m implementing some changes for my blog posts:

1.  Adding “made in…” information, so you’ll know the country of origin for the products I review.  I personally prefer not to buy things made in China – because of safety concerns – but I’m often frustrated by trying to find out where things are made, especially for items sold online.

2.  “Price” information will still be in U.S. dollars, indicated with “(USD)”, but if you need to do a currency conversion for your country’s currency, you can click on the “USD” for a link to an online currency converter.

3.  (Hopefully) a new look.  This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, but haven’t gotten it done.  I’m trying to embrace change in 2014, and the blog would be a good place for it!

I hope these changes help anyone reading the blog – Happy New Year!!!

My Urban Decay Addiciton

I might need therapy.  But I just can’t help but love Urban Decay.  From their gorgeous packaging to the oh-so-clever names, I’m regularly tempted to splurge/binge on their products.  Add to the mix that their stuff is cruelty-free and it’s even harder to resist.  Honestly, the only thing keeping me from amassing a huge collection of their stuff is my budget…

Not pictured:  All the stuff I've bought my daughter and reserve a right to borrow.

Not pictured: All the stuff I’ve bought my daughter and reserve the right to borrow. Also: The full-size “De Slick” spray I put into another container.

 

Curse you, Urban Decay:  As if the above-mentioned reasons aren’t enough to cause a problem, they regularly offer amazing deals on products in their sale section.    Seriously, a palette of 6 eye shadows that normally would cost $18 each for $24.  Who can resist that?!?!  (OK, the $8.95 shipping makes it slightly more resist-able, but still…)

As if Things Aren’t Bad Enough:  I’ve now enabled my daughter onto a path of Urban Decay addiction.  I keep buying her stuff and now she’s bought herself the Naked 2 palette.  Not that I’m saying $52 is a ridiculous amount of money to spend on something like that.  Because it’s not – if you have the $52 to spend.

It Gets Worse:  I got a rare good-on-anything coupon for Ulta before Christmas.  Somehow, I managed to restrain myself and only buy 2 eye shadows.  My son got me an Ulta gift card for Christmas.  I bought another eye shadow.  My parents gave me money for Christmas.  I bought a 4-shadow palette (that came with an eye shadow) and another eye shadow.  And I’ve got my eye on a kit that’s exclusive to a specific retailer.  (It’s on sale!!!)

I’m Not Alone:  Tons of beauty bloggers swear by Urban Decay’s stuff.  Obviously, Urban Decay is aware of this, because they now have a whole line of “fan gear”.    If I surfed (in the ocean, not just on the internet!), I would probably be tempted to buy the UD surfboard.  Oh, and it’s a good thing my kids are teenagers, or I’d be ordering that UD onesie!

Someone Help Me:  I kind of wish I would hear something bad about Urban Decay so I’d have an excuse to boycott their products. (It would be hard, but I have principles and will not give my money to companies that support hate groups – no matter how much I love their waffle fries.)

OK, Seriously:  Urban Decay makes great stuff. While I’m too old for some of their products (glitter eyeliner and all other things “sparkly”), some of them are perfect for me.  If it weren’t for Urban Decay’s “Blackout” eye shadow, I’d still be frustrated on a regular basis, trying – unsuccessfully – to put on eyeliner in pencil form.

Thank You, Urban Decay:  I appreciate your amusing product names.  I love that your stuff is cruelty-free.  I think the packaging is lovely.  While I may wish it were more affordable, I’ve never felt that any Urban Decay product I’ve purchased was a total waste of money.  And that’s more than I can say for any other company’s stuff.

Opinions Wanted (About ipsy Glam Bag)

Alright, I’ve already admitted to being commitment-phobic, so this post should come as no surprise to anyone…

I’m trying to get honest opinions about the ipsy Glam Bag subscription service.

Reasons I Find It Tempting:

  • I like trying new stuff.
  • It’s “only” $10 a month and might have more than $10 worth of stuff I like.
  • I like surprises.  I love the idea of “grab bags” in general.

My issues with it:

  • I’m kind of picky about the stuff I put on my skin. (I don’t like parabens or stuff made in China and I have oily skin, so I can’t wear everything.)
  • I think it’s annoying that you have to give them a credit card to get onto the WAIT list.
  • Also annoying: the fastest way to get off the wait list is by giving them your  Facebook information and “sharing” with (advertising to) your friends.  Without signing up for the service, I can’t find out what all is involved with the “share on Facebook” option.  I’m not fond of Facebook apps that need to see all my information.  (basic stuff – OK – but do you really need to see everything I “like”, where I live, etc?)  My cousin agreed to the “Facebook sharing” option and it posted a link to their website AND a comment she didn’t even write (“I’m so excited, I finally got off the waitlist!”) on her wall.  Kind of creepy.
  • While the makeup bags are cute, I’m not sure I need to have a collection of makeup bags.  I’ve already got plenty!
  • If I were to use coupons and sales, I could just dedicate $10 a month to beauty products and get stuff I know I like.

Yeah, I Know

I realize it’s kind of silly to agonize so much over just being put on the wait list.  But I’m not loving the idea of putting my credit card info into a permanent database on someone’s server.  My debit card information was recently hacked and someone spent ALL the money in my account by making up a fake debit card with my information, even though I’m very careful when shopping online.  I feel like these subscription services are a bit of a financial risk. Even secure servers get hacked and billing errors happen.

So…

Opinions appreciated. Be brutally honest.  I always am. 😉

Versatile Blogger Award

The oh-so-fabulous Asha at Oxford Owl has been kind enough to nominate me for the Versatile Blogger Award.  (Thanks, gorgeous!)

versatilebloggeraward

This is an award given to bloggers who inspire you, and you’re supposed to nominate 15 people.  However, I admittedly don’t read TONS of blogs and I’ve already nominated several of them for other awards, so I’m going to limit it a bit more than that.  Then you have to add 7 facts about you.  (Am I really that interesting?  I think not – but since I’m breaking the “nomination” rule, I guess I should at least follow the one other rule of the award!)

  1. I’m a stickler about grammar/spelling.  I can’t stand to hear people say things like “irregardless”.
  2. I knew how to use a gun before I knew how to use a curling iron.
  3. I’ve never played “Angry Birds”, but I love first-person shooter games like “Call of Duty” and “Battlefield”. Shocking, I know, after reading #2! 🙂
  4. I totally spoil my dog.  She gets a “sample” of most things I cook.
  5. I grew up in a cold climate and live in a hot one.  Definitely prefer the heat.
  6. I have 2 kids who are only 14 months apart in age, but are worlds apart in personality traits.
  7. I would feel completely lost and stressed out if I didn’t have a smartphone.

Nominations:

1.  Beauty Blogger Goddess

2.  Beauty in Beta

3.  Always Unpresentable

4.  Too Tall Fritz (not a beauty blog, but inspiring!)

5.  Taneja’s Bride

Liebster Blog Award version 2.0

I’ve gotten this award before, but I’m very flattered to be nominated again!  (After all, you don’t hear actors complaining about “another” Emmy/Oscar/whatever, right?)  The “rules” have changed a bit from the last time, but I’m glad not to have to come up with 11 (allegedly) interesting things to say about myself.  🙂   Thanks for the nomination, Cherry Hues (Sana)!

About the Liebster Blog Award:  The award is meant for blogs with under 200 followers and presents an interesting way to be seen and discover new blogs.

(disclaimer:  I didn’t bother to look to see how many followers my “nominated” blogs had.  My to-do list for the day is haunting me and I need to get this post done!)

 The Rules:
  • When any of your fellow bloggers nominates you, you will need to accept it and make a post about it in your blog.
  • Then, answer those 11 questions that are asked by the blogger who has nominated you.
  • And, nominate (you cannot tag back) your favorite 11 bloggers who you think deserve this award.
  • Finally set 11 questions for them also and that is all.
  • After you are done this, you can add The Liebster Award badge to your blog.
Questions I Was Asked:
  • Describe your blog in 3 words.

Practical, honest, real

  • Favourite drugstore product.

Cover Girl Brow & Eye Maker Pencils

  • Brownies or Cookies.

(Cheating!)  Cookies made of brownie mix.  DELICIOUS!

  • Bold Lips or Smokey Eyes.

Bold Lips

  • Favourite Holiday Destination.

There’s no place like home. (But if I could teleport myself to someplace with snow for Christmas Day only, I would!)

  • Lipstick or Lip gloss.

Gloss!

  • Your number 1 make-up tip.

Try anything.  Twice.  Just in case.

  • A product that you like but often tend to skip in your daily make-up routine.

Facial moisturizer.  Hard to find one that’s good with my troubled skin.

  • Do you have any pets? If yes, what kind.

Yes!  An adorable dog named Reba, who we got from a shelter.  She’s a mix of Australian Cattle Dog & German Shepherd. (I think!)  I’m adding a photo.  Because she’s just so cute. The photo is a little old and she’s got some grey hair now, but this is the only photo I have handy.

reba2

  • Any one thing that you would like to change about yourself.

Only ONE?  😉   My skin.  Wish I had that naturally gorgeous, no-makeup-needed kind.

  • Your favourite eating point.

A local park.  I like to pick up lunch at my favorite market and go there to relax, then feed the ducks and other miscellaneous creatures afterwards.

My Nominations for the Liebster Award:

Pink Lady Beauty

The Oxford Owl

Beauty Expression by Luchessa

A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever

Sunny Sleevzez 

A Lot on Your Plate 

Everyday Beautiful

Making Up the Midwest

Everyday Makeup with Angie

Mae’s Beauty

Beauty & the Best of the Rest

Questions to be Answered:
  1. What makes you feel beautiful?
  2. What do you avoid when buying beauty products?
  3. If money were no object, where would you like to live?
  4. What’s your best feature?
  5. What’s a personality trait you can’t stand in other people?
  6. What’s the last book or magazine you read?
  7. Which is better:  Shopping online or shopping in stores?
  8. If you could have any super power, what would it be?
  9. What’s the last thing you bought that you regretted purchasing?
  10. If you had to choose to only dream about one thing every night, what would it be?
  11. If you could create any law, what would it be?

OK, so that’s it!  Hope you all have time to post for the Liebster Blog Award.  But if you don’t, I totally understand.  It took me almost a week to find enough time to get it done!

liebster logo

It’s Only Hair

“It’s only hair.”  I’ve found myself saying this many, many times in my life.  When I got a color I didn’t love (Thankfully, I use non-permanent color).  When I got a cut I didn’t love (many, many times).  When my kids wanted to do something new with their hair.  It’s only hair.  To us.  But to someone with cancer, having hair can be the difference between feeling like a person and feeling like a victim of a cruel disease…

My Love Affair with Hair:   I love my hair.  It’s actually one of the few things left on my body that I do like.  Yes, I have a couple greys.  A pair of tweezers takes care of them when they show up.  No, my hair doesn’t always “behave”.  I live in a hot, humid climate.  My hair reminds me with regular episodes of frizziness.  But still, I love my hair.  I get compliments on it regularly – sometimes strange ones like “What is that color called?”  (My hair hasn’t been colored in a long time, but it has natural high/lowlights that people love.  It’s a fair question, since lots of people my age do color their hair.) But as much as I love my hair, I realize someone else may love it even more.

Bye, Bye Hair:  Today, I got my hair cut so I can donate it to Pantene’s “Beautiful Lengths” program.  I got about a foot of it cut off.  I have so much hair, it had to be cut off in 3 separate pony tails. My hair will be combined with other people’s hair – all colored to match – and will be made into a wig.  The program has donated over 24,000 real-hair wigs in conjunction with the American Cancer Society.

hair

The hair formerly known as “mine”.

Yes, It Was Hard:  Since I mostly fear commitment, this is kind of a big deal.  I was actually more nervous about doing this than I have been about anything in a while.  I’m pretty sure I was less freaked out about my recent surgical/medical procedures than I was about the idea of getting my hair cut off.  (Let’s face it – haircuts can go very, very badly!)

Why Not?:  Donating my hair costs me nothing and will help make a difference in someone else’s life.  The Aveda Institute salon where I got mine done even cut and styled it for free, since I was donating my hair!

Adjustment Period:  For the next week, I will forget I have short hair.  I will put too much shampoo and/or conditioner in my hand when I wash it.  I will try to pull it out of shirts and jackets.  But eventually, I’ll get used to it.  I don’t actually love short hair on myself, but it will grow back.  When it does, I will donate it again.  Because it’s only hair.

"Before" hair donation.

“Before” hair donation.

After hair donation.

“After” hair donation.

 

My Amazing Beauty Haul

I often see people bragging about their amazing collections of recent beauty product purchases (can’t say that I blame you – shopping is fun!) and I wanted to join in.  However, I don’t usually go on shopping sprees with beauty products, except for “everyday use” things like shampoo and shave gel. Now I feel I deserve to brag, since I got all this for a ridiculously low price…

All This for $17. AFTER sales tax. 

Each item cost just $2.99 and was an additional 25% off.  Wow, right?

My Beauty Haul:

Urban Decay Deluxe Eye Shadow – originally $18

Tarte Eye Shadow Duo (x2) – originally  ???, around $15

LORAC Eye Shadow – originally $19

Tarte Amazonian Clay Pressed Mineral Powder – originally ???, around $28

Sephora Perfume Atomizer – originally $15

Korres Face Primer – originally $28

Nope, Not Typos:  I really paid $17 for 7 full-sized items that each cost more than that originally (except the perfume atomizer).  Yes, I’m very happy.  Ecstatic, actually.

OK, So Maybe I Won’t Love Everything:  So what? The way I see it, at these prices I can afford to try something new.  Even though I’m pretty sure most (if not all) of these items are discontinued, I’m OK with that.  I needed face primer and I don’t want to spend money on it right now.  I needed to ditch some of my old eye shadows and this gives me the perfect excuse to throw them out.

Other Items I Didn’t Buy:  Ilamasqua nail varnish for $5.  Charlotte Ronson eye shadow kits for $11.  4-piece, full-size OPI nail polish sets for $18.  Also:  A bunch of Sephora brand stuff that just didn’t intrigue me.

Why The Good Deal?  Here’s the thing:  Sephora stores are amazing.  But if you want amazing deals like these, you have to shop at the Sephora “inside JCPenney” stores.  They had 2 sections of stuff (I resisted the urge to buy everything!) all on clearance PLUS an extra 25% the ridiculously low prices.

Funny Caveat:  While I was checking out, the cashier asked “Is this yours?” about the Urban Decay eye shadow that was lying by the cash register. (I hadn’t seen any in the clearance section.)  I said “No, but I want it!”  🙂

Shop Around:  Some of these kinds of deals are available on the Sephora website right now.  I didn’t see any in the Sephora stand-alone store.  I highly recommend you take some time to browse the website sale section and/or your area stores to see what you can get.  The holidays are right around the corner!

My Nail Polish Problem

I’m not a huge “collector” of things.  No postage stamps, rare coins, or anything else like that.  The fact of the matter is, I don’t mind HAVING stuff – I just don’t want to STORE a bunch of stuff.  (I’m not very sentimental, anyway.)  So, I don’t have many things that I have a lot of.  Exception:  Shoes and nail polish.  At this point, my nail polish collection has outpaced my shoe collection – by far (nail polish is cheaper!) and has gotten to the point of ridiculousness.  Don’t believe me?  Take a look…

105 bottles.  As I said: Ridiculousness.

106 bottles. As I said: Ridiculousness.

Not Counted but Shown:  Base/top coats and “accessory” polishes, pens, etc.

Not Counted or Shown:  All the nail polish I’ve “donated” or gifted to my daughter.  I rarely borrow them, but they are available to me, so I guess they might count, too.  I did a quick check of her bathroom, and she’s got at least as many bottles as I do.  What can I say? I’m an enabler.

So What’s the Problem?  Actually, there are several.

1- Antique Nail Polish.  Some of these bottles may very well be old and “gunky”, making them no longer useable.  I just don’t have the patience to go through them all anytime soon.

2- Undesirable Finish.  Many of the colors are more “sheer” than I like my nail polish.  A while back, I had the brilliant idea of painting all of them onto little stickers (pieces of mailing labels) and attaching them to the top, so I could assess their color and “sheer-ness” easily.  I didn’t get very far with that. 12 bottles, to be exact.  Hardly a dent in the large number of bottles I have.  I did notice that the Julep nail polish I recently got has a blank sticker on top that says “Swatch Me”.  I’m assuming this is intended for people who – like me – prefer to know what the polish will look like when dry.  Kind of inconvenient that it’s on the top of the bottle/brush, but OK…

3 – Variety.  Yes, this is a problem.  I have all these nail polishes and – unlike my daughter who does fabulous nail art “projects” – I am pretty boring when it comes to my nails.  If I get base coat and color on them, I’m usually satisfied.   Sometimes, when the color starts to chip or wear off, I’ll hide it with a heavy glitter coat.  That’s about it for my at-home manicures.

4 – Storage.  This is my biggest issue.  I have a large, durable plastic box that holds most of the polishes.  The box is so heavy that I’m probably not supposed to be lifting it with my “nothing heavier than a gallon of milk” doctor’s order, but we won’t tell the doctor.  The rest have been put into an overflowing metal bin designed to hold about 10 nail polishes, but which has been stuffed with about 20, plus some clippers and other things.  There are lots of great nail polish storage solutions out there, including one a friend of mine did.  But let’s be real – that is not going to hold all my polish, and I’m not going to find enough inexpensive (matching) spice racks to do the job right.

So, What to Do?  For now: Nothing.  Re-re-re organizing all my nail polish is a monumental task.  Maybe someday soon, I’ll have tons of energy and will get around to weeding out the old, gunky nail polish, labeling them with little swatch things, and finding a good home for them.

Anyone? Anyone?  As for the organizing part – I’m open to suggestions.  What is the best way to organize 100+ bottles of nail polish?