Tuesday, December 30, 2014

December 2014 Product Favs

Don't even get me started on how I can't believe the holidays are over and 2015 is almost here. I mean, we are in the FUTURE people!!  At least in high school, I thought this day was so far away.

Usually I show ya'll my favorite products from my monthly beauty boxes, for the most part.  Well this month I want to share gifts and purchases over the last month.  Now, these are all what the beauty world considers high end and not drugstore but I am showing you these products because they are worth it.  These are quality products that have fabulous payoffs.

First up is Urban Decay's Vice 3.  This has been around awhile but it is brand spanking new to me and I am in love.

Look at these colors.

courtesy of chloeash.com
I will be doing a post with different looks from this palette and I also have my eyes on Vice 2 for next month.  The pigments on these shadows are incredible and since I am a shimmer girl, there are only a few matte transition colors in here so it is perfect.

Keeping with Urban Decay, their eye shadow primer potion is by far the strongest eye primer I have found to date.  It keeps my shadow on all day without creasing.  In fact, if I make a mistake while getting ready for work, it is a pain in the butt to fix :) I actually have received samples of all four of their formulas to try so I look forward to that!

Next up is the NARSissist cheek palette.  This is actually no longer on the market so I am glad I snagged it when I did.  The colors all work so well together on my winter skin but they are too light for when I have a tan unless I use a very heavy hand.

This is all I need to contour and highlight my face.  The highlighter (devotee) is a perfect shade for all skin tones.  The blush (orgasm) is a cult favorite.  It is a peachy shade and I love corals more than reds or pinks.  And the bronzer (laguna) is not a dirty brown but similar to Too Faced's chocolate soleil bronzer (which was also one of my favorites a few months back).

courtesy of makeupandbeautyblog.com
Next is the Real Techniques buffing brush from the Core Collection Set.

Now I love this entire set of brushes, I actually use the domed one for my NARS bronzer, but the stipple one makes my Estee Lauder Double Wear foundation go on with an airbrushed finish and they are so easy to clean and I have never had a problem with shedding. They are actually on sale at Target right now so grab them while you can!

And last but not least is Kat Von D's foiled love lipstick in F.T.W.

This color is so pretty and my only complaint is the smell.  It is kind of chemical like.  It is no longer available at Sephora (insert sad face here) but the link I included will take you to Amazon.

And there ya have it!  My December 2014 product favs.

Do you use any of these? Are you just as in love as I am?  What were your product favs this month?

Let me know in the comments below!!

Have a great day!! xo

Monday, December 29, 2014

December 2014 BarkBox Unboxing

We are to that wonderful time of the month again....Barkbox!  I chose this photo first so that you could see how desperately my girls wanted to get at those goodies.  This was another successful box and I am so happy with this subscription!!  For only $19 a month, you get a box filled with treats, toys and doggie gear based on your dogs size and preferences.  10% of each box sold also goes to support local rescue groups so you are giving back which I love about this subscription.  Each box we have received has exceeded the cost of the box itself.  This months December box was valued at $42.  Keep reading to see how you can sign up for BarkBox and get 10% off your first box :)

In keeping with the holiday theme, each item was perfect, yet again.

First up is the toy that they both went crazy for.

BarkMade Yuletide Log, $12 value.

In fact, this was the best picture I could get since they took it away from my hand once I took it out to photograph it :) It is a highly durable squeaker toy and they play with it every day.

Next toy, surprisingly didn't creep me out too much, since elves usually do.

Quaker elf, $10 value.

What's neat is that the arms actually slide out so there are three pieces to this toy.  Sadly, we did lose the elf about a week after though, it wasn't as durable as we thought, especially to a teething rottweiler.

Next is a super cute, reversible, bandanna.

Safemade Holiday Tartan bandanna, $8 value.

Now to the treats.

Always themed of course.

Bocce's Bakery lumps of coal, $7 value.

These heart shaped treats are wheat based.

Shelby loved them but Paisley did not really care for them.

Luckily, she loved these treats.

My Doggy Happy Holiday treats, $5 value.

These are made with cranberries, apples and honey.  Huge hit!

More pics of the girls in action :)

Another perk to this subscription is that if you like an item, you can just text BarkBox and they will mail you that item immediately.  If you don't like an item, you tell them that too and they will swap it out so it's always a win win for your pups!

Sign up today and get 10% off your first box! Click HERE!

Do you already use BarkBox?  What did your dogs think of this month's box?  If you don't have a large breed box, what goodies did they get?

Let us know in the comments below!

Have a great day!! xo

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

December 2014 BoxyCharm Unboxing and more reasons why I am glad I cancelled GlossyBox

Christmas is right around the corner and I have so many products to review and tutorials for ya'll. But I just got my last beauty box of the month so wanted to share!

First let's talk about GlossyBox really quick.  I cancelled last month, remember.....well I tried to. I didn't see the fine print where it said I needed to do so before the 15th of the month so of course I was billed and got a box from them this month.  They were the only box I did not change my new address on so I actually had to go to the post office and pay $6 to retrieve it.  I already had paid for the box so I wasn't about to lose that money.

So this is what they sent me for December.

Not a bad box at all......but not a good enough box to make me want to change my mind on why I cancelled.  First, my blush was broken.  Shattered.  I emailed customer service and they no longer have any inventory so are sending me another item to make up for it.  I am excited to use the lavender oil as lavender is my favorite scent.  I have heard nothing but wonderful things about 12 Benefits hair products.  I have liked everything I have tried from Juice Beauty and of course OPI is OPI and it's a great pink shade.

But now let me show you BoxyCharm........

Again, this box is $21 a month and I am already looking at a $39.95 product in the Coastal Scents Revealed palette!

This palette is comparable to Urban Decay's Naked palette with the nude and metallic hues throughout.  There are 20 shades all together in a sleek case perfect for traveling.  The colors are beautiful.  I can't wait to start creating looks with this bad boy.

Next up is Mistura Retractable Kabuki brush, full size, valued at $19.99.

I can never have too many brushes I have found out in the past few months.  I am excited to try this one.  You can pull it out fully or keep it compressed a little for greater concentration.  Another perfect travel item.  I have one by Real Techniques so I am interested to see how this compares.  This brand is cruelty free so they have already won me over with that.

Next is Eva-Nyc Hold Me Tight Hairspray.

I am beginning to sense a theme here, lol.  A travel sized hairspray.  It really provides a strong hold too which will help a lot in the summer with the humidity.  It has a light scent, too, not crazy chemical like.

Next up is Be a Bombshell Lipstick in Lush, full size, valued at $14.

It is a dark burgundy red color, that goes on light and creamy like a stain.  It doesn't have the best staying power as it was gone by the time I got to work just from drinking my coffee on the car ride there.  I don't have a picture of the actual lipstick itself as when I opened it to do the swatch the whole thing fell out so I need to contact customer service.

And last up is Lina Lashes in Luxury Mink, full size, valued at $30.00

All the fake eyelashes I have tried didn't go over well with me.  But I will try again.  I love long, flirty lashes and these look pretty natural which is nice.  Another brand that is cruelty free!

All in all this box that I paid $21 for is worth well over $100.  And last months box was worth over $120 so they are very consistent.  I love the variety and have loved every box I have received so far. I am so glad that I cancelled GlossyBox.

Sign up today with me so we can love our boxes together!! Click HERE!! Plus when you review the items you receive in our box each month, you get "charms" that can be used to purchase items in their online store.  So similar to Birchbox in that respect!

Have you signed up already?  What did you think of this months box?

Let me know in the comments below!!

Have a great day!! xo

Monday, December 22, 2014

DIY Christmas-Homemade Infused Olive Oils

Last up in the series for DIY Christmas this year is homemade infused olive oils.  I did both garlic chili and rosemary olive oils.  It was a lot of fun and super easy. I mean I hope people think I slaved over a hot stove all day long making these beauties :)

First thing I want to tell you about is the potential for food poisoning....yeah, hate to be a buzzkill but the threat is real so make sure you really take the time to adhere to these guidelines prior to making these.  Any time a fresh ingredient is introduced in to a dish, there is the possibility of it causing more harm then good.  Thus the reason I did not do just fresh garlic infused oils and have garlic cloves in the oil.  If not properly prepared, botulism is a risk.

Moisture brings mold so when making the rosemary infused olive oil, if you choose to buy fresh rosemary, make sure you wash it and let it dry for about a week.  You don't want to be able to bend the herb at all, you want it to the point where it is cracking when trying to bend it as that means all the moisture has been removed.

You can skip fresh rosemary all together and just use dried herbs, too.

For the rosemary olive oil, I sprinkled some dry herbs in my jar and then added the (fresh) dried herb for decoration.  I cooked my oil on the stove with some of the other dried rosemary sprigs for about five minutes and then drained the rosemary out.  Let cool for about five minutes and then add to your jar. You can use extra virgin if that is what you have lying around, but regular olive oil seems to infuse and take on the flavors better.

For the chili garlic oil, I smashed some fresh garlic and put it in a pot on the stove with my olive oil. I let it cook for about five minutes or until you can smell the garlic cooking.  You don't want to burn it so keep an eye on it while it is in the pot.

Then I sprinkled some crushed red pepper in the oil and let it cool for another five minutes.  I threw in a dried chili for decoration in the bottle and then poured the olive oil in the jar.  You can get a funnel but I just used my turkey baster to transfer the oil :)

Done!  I attached a note letting my giftees know to use within one week or keep in the fridge.  You can let them know the oil can be used in cooking, sauteing for example, or you can dip crusty, french bread in the oil and eat it that way.  You can use the chili oil with egg rolls or in stir fry.  You can use the rosemary oil with a chicken salad.  So many delicious options!!

And there ya have it! They look beautiful.  I got my jars from Hobby Lobby when they had all glass 50% off and I just tied a pretty tag on the jar with some twine for the rustic look.

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below!!


Have a great day!! xo

Friday, December 19, 2014

December 2014 Birchbox Double Unboxings

This will be my third month of having two Birchboxes and unfortunately for me only one of those months (last month) was a perfect double month for me.  Read about last months HERE.

Sure, some people say they are satisfied with anything they receive and look down on me for being a little pickier.  The way I look at it is if they truly are taking our feedback and reviews on what we receive into consideration then the products we don't like would be far less than what we actually receive in our boxes.  I have played with my profile and made it as specific as possible on numerous occasions but hey, you can't win them all I guess.  This month will also be the first out of three where I received several duplicates.

Let's get started.

First box, this is the original subscription that I have had for a year now.....it also looks like they went back to having cute little nicknames on our mailing labels which I love.

First up is my favorite product from the box, Rusk Texture Spray.

I have gotten this before in another box and it is great.  It is light and smells great and doesn't leave my hair crunchy but it gives my hair the perfect amount of lift.  I just love it.  I never really realized it is described as a hairspray as I have always used it to give my hair lift and texture.  Great product.

Next is Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentrate (24 hour miracle cream).

I haven't tried this product yet but with shea butter and aloe vera it is described as a moisturizer that everyone needs to have.  It can be used as a makeup remover, shaving cream or all over body lotion.I love a multi-tasker.

Next is Manna Kadar Lip Locked in All of Me.

Meh.  I don't really care for the color, it makes me feel like it will leave my face washed out looking. But there are a ton of shades to choose from.  With my profile being more on the trendy side, I would have enjoyed a brighter shade much more.

Next is something I feel has been thrown in so many boxes of mine and even my husband got this last month, Number 4 hydrating shampoo and conditioner.

The nice thing was I was able to write two reviews and get points for both products.  Although it is a good brand and I like the product, the samples are so small especially when my hair is to the middle of my back.  It doesn't even provide enough product for a one time use.

And lastly is Lord and Berry Paillettes Eye Pencil.

This sample is so tiny and hard to work with it is down right frustrating, I can't even imagine what will happen when I need to sharpen it.  I like that it has shimmer in it to add some sparkle to a smokey eye but can we please get a larger pencil here?!!?

And this month we all got $10 off coupons for a purchase at GAP.  I have heard nothing but problems with this "gift" though.  If you have already signed up for emails through GAP you might not be able to use this as the promotion is for new customers.....I am loyal to Old Navy so probably won't be using mine.

Overall, I wasn't very pleased with this box and was very glad I had my other box to fall back on.  As of late, the newer subscription (below) has been the winner each month.  With this being my "year anniversary" box, I really thought it was going to be amazing.  If not for that reason, just for the fact it was a holiday box.....I won't cancel because you cannot beat the point system they offer ($10 a month back to use in their shop just for reviewing the products I receive).  I can always get something I want as I get my money back each month!!

Okay, next box.......

Notice the dupes right away?  Yep, the RUSK and the world's smallest eye liner.  I was happy to get the RUSK since it was my favorite product though :)

Okay first up is the 2nd best product in this month's box.  Amika's Nourishing Hair Mask.

I have gotten this product before as well and it is a great hair mask and doesn't weigh my hair down. I need these types of products in my life since I have fine color treated hair.  This is also a nice cocktail of healthy ingredients to really do some magic in your hair.  Great product.  Side note: I bought their blow out spray and it really didn't do anything for my hair.  Bumble and Bumble thickening spray is still where it's at! :)

Next is Mirenesse Mattfinity Lip Rouge in New York.

The color is just as bright as it is shown in the tube.  While the color payoff is great, the matte texture leaves something to be desired....it was messy to apply but was hard to get off so if it would have gone on nice I know it would have lasted a while.  I will try this product again to give it a second chance even though I am a more of a shine girl.

Next is Tocca Hand Creme in Cleopatra.

This is a grapefruit and cucumber scent which has an odd smell to it.....the hand creme can't be beat though.  It is a very nice consistency and doesn't leave your hands greasy at all (after the lotion has a moment to seep in).

And there ya have it since there is no need to review my duplicate products again.  This box ended up being my favorite box out of the two this month.  Again, Birchbox is only $10 a month and you can sign up HERE.  In fact, if you sign up using my link this month, I get a special treat so I would LOVE it if you did :)  We could say it's your Christmas present to me??? ;)

What did you get in your box this month? What was your favorite product?  I am about to place an order with Birchbox and would love some help on new products!

Let me know in the comments below!!

Have a great day!! xo

Thursday, December 18, 2014

DIY Christmas-Homemade Mason Jar Cookie and Brownie Recipes

Everyone loves sweets for Christmas.  It's a time of indulgence.  I love to make gifts that can be dumped into a bowl with a few fresh ingredients.   Simple yet people know how much time and effort went into making them.

I am going to include three variations in this one post.  Remember if you are one of my loved ones I expect you to be happily surprised when you see them if you continue reading :)

Last year was my first year making these and I knew some changes had to made this year and I changed all the recipes as not to gift the same ones, too.  So round up your supplies first.  I save pasta jars all year long as I make these gifts for Easter and other holidays so they always get used.  But you can just buy mason jars or canning jars at the store, too.  I just take the labels off and clean them very well.  The same method that goes behind cleaning my old used candle jars for my vanity gets used here.  Slowly take the label off and then take equal parts baking soda and vegetable oil to make a paste and let it sit on the glue for about 10 minutes until you can wipe it off with a paper towel.  You can also use Goo Gone if you don't want to make your own :)

Last  year I tediously cut out scrapbook paper and glued it to each lid.....this made for a very long project but also I was told the lids were hard to get off since the modge podge had really stuck on there. So this year I got some scraps of Christmas fabric and once the goodies were in the jar I laid them on top and then tied them on with some string.

Let's get to the ingredients used to make these homemade cookie and brownie jars.

Recipe used from TheFrugalGirls.com

First one is Butterscotch Cake Cookies in a mason jar.  You just need a box of white or yellow cake mix and a bag of butterscotch chips (try not to eat them all while making these because it requires a lot of self control).

You might want to get a funnel (I just used a piece of paper) to get all of the ingredients in the jars.

Take the entire cake mix and pour it in the jar.  I use my pestle from my mortar and pestle to really pack them in so the entire box fits.

Yes that is a picture from the next recipe :)

Once your white cake mix is in your jar then take about a cup of butterscotch chips and add them to the top.  If there is more space in the jar then add more chips to it.  Done!

You can hand write your recipe card or print it out and attach it with a string to the jar.  I still have to do that part but I wanted to get this up here for ya'll :)  Oh, I also am attaching a Christmas spatula to each jar this year.

Beat together 2 eggs and 1/2 cup of vegetable oil.  Add contents of jar.  Stir well and form dough into a ball.  Let chill in the fridge for 15 minutes prior to baking.  Drop into rounded spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 8 minutes or until golden.  

Next recipe I literally had to pry the bags of Reese's away from my husbands hands :)

Chocolate Reese Cake Cookies in a mason jar.

You will need a box of chocolate cake mix and 1 1/3 cups of Reese's pieces.

Recipe used from TheFrugalGirls.com

Pour the cake mix in the jar and push it all the way down.  Add the Reese's pieces on top! Done!

Beat together 2 eggs and 1/2 cup of vegetable oil.  Add contents of jar.  Stir well and form dough into a ball.  Let chill in the fridge for 15 minutes prior to baking.  Drop into rounded spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 8 minutes or until golden. 

Last recipe is a big one and this one takes some time but it looks oh so pretty!  I recommend making more than one jar of this at a time since you will have all the ingredients out to make your life a little bit easier.

Christmas Fudgy Brownies in a mason jar....mmmmmm........

I will list out the ingredients in the order they should go in jar and this is an actual recipe so measurements are important in this one or else your giftee will think they did something wrong :)

1 cup and 2 tablespoons of flour
2/3 cup of brown sugar (packed)
2/3 cup of white sugar
3/4 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup of cocoa
1/2 cup of your choice of sprinkles (or use more chocolate chips)
1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips

You will need to pack each layer down as you go to get the desired layered look but it is all worth it, it looks so nice!!

Mix contents of jar with 2 eggs, 1/4 cup of water, 2/3 cup of vegetable oil and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Pour into a greased 9x9 baking pan and bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

And there ya go!! I hope I covered it all and if you have any questions please let me know in the comments below!

Have fun with this and get creative in decorating them :)  These are always a huge hit.  People love the simplicity behind them and the fact that they don't have to do much.  If you have kids, this is also something they can help create with you as it really is a lot of fun.

Have a great day!! xo

Blogging tips