Bookshelf Lingerers

It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these, but here come the return of Top Ten Tuesdays! If you’re not familiar, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish with category prompts and participation is open to anyone. It’s a fun way to get yourself blogging regularly and connect with other readers.

This week, I’m reviving an older category and exploring the top ten books I just HAD to buy but never made it farther than my bookshelf.

*As usual, all links and pictures are sourced from Goodreads*

Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously

1. Julie & Julia by Julie Powell

I loved the movie and went right out and bought the book. Yet this memoir has sat on my shelves for quite some time. I’d still like to read it; actually all of these books on my list are books I would still like to read. I just need to put it in the rotation!

Memoirs of a Geisha

2. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

This book has also been adapted to a film, but I wasn’t terribly impressed with the movie. Still, I wanted to read the book because the novel was getting a lot of good press long before the film came to be.

The Devil Wears Prada (The Devil Wears Prada, #1)

3. The Devil Wears Prada by Laura Weisberger

I swear not all of these are film adaptations (though many of them are)! This book is one that I always tell myself I’m going to read and then never manage to do it: it’s a seasonal commitment that I always break.

One Day

4. One Day by David Nicholls

Now, I never saw the movie but my understanding of the premise for this story made me feel that it would be undeniably better in print. So in essence, not seeing the movie is what made me want to read this book.

Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls

5. Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris

Without a doubt, Sedaris is my favorite nonfiction writer. He’s hilarious and poignant, often at the same time. This is his most recent collection of essays and I have high hopes.

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

6. World War Z by Max Brooks

Years this book has been on my shelves. Years. And I still haven’t managed to crack it open. Maybe 2015 will be the year it happens?

Gone with the Wind

7. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell 

I have mixed feelings about this being on my shelves and on my list. I hated the movie. I know that could be a controversial opinion for some folks, but there it is. However, a friend in college told me that the book was much better and explored Scarlet’s flawed character more earnestly, so I’m willing to give the book a chance.

The Rosie Project (Don Tillman #1)

8. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

This book has actually been lingering on my kindle, so it’s more of a virtual shelf space holder. I don’t use my kindle very often as I prefer real books, which is likely why I haven’t read this book yet.

Kushiel's Dart (Phèdre's Trilogy, #1)

9. Kushiel’s Dart by Jaqueline Carey

I picked up a used hardback copy of this at The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles and have been meaning to read it ever since. Part of my problem is that I check a ton of books out of the library, so those get priority while books I actually own are taking the backseat. My friend, Russ, is really insistent I read this so I can tell him how it is, and that will probably motivate me to get this one read sooner rather than later.

Love in the Time of Cholera

10. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I have read several of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s short stories, but this is the only novel of his that I own. I love his use of language and the tenderness he brings to each of his subjects. I’m definitely looking forward to this one.

Every time I make one of these lists I feel like there will never be enough time for all the books I want to read! But it’s a wonderful dilemma to have.

What are some of your bookshelf lingerers?

Thanks for popping in!

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Unbecoming

Right off the bat, I need to tell you all that I received this book as part of a Goodreads giveaways, but that does not affect my review of this novel. The review that follows represents my honest opinion.

Unbecoming

Image respectfully borrowed from Goodreads.

Grace is hiding out in an antique repair shop in Paris as Julie from California. In truth, Grace comes from small town Garland, Tennessee and she is running from that past as fast as she can. But Grace is haunted by the two loves of her life, Riley and Alls, who went to prison for her, and whom are about to be released from prison. The push and pull between Riley and Alls, her past and her present, cause Grace to panic about her future.

Not all characters are meant to be likable. And I’m still not sure if Grace was likable or just plain fascinating.

What pulls you through Unbecoming is not a lovable character, but the discovery of a compelling one. I brought this book home to St. Louis with me for the holidays and had a hard time putting it down.

First time writer, Rebecca Scherm, reveals the depth of her heroine in layers: the calculating vulnerability of flashbacks and the frantic smarts of a present living a lie.

Scherm slowly and steadily crafts this psychological portrait of a femme fatale for a modern era. Not in the sense of gun-toting, thigh high slit femme, but more the doe eyed beauty that make the men in her life melt and help her at their own risk. Watching Grace twist around in her own denial and develop into this manipulative person is riveting.

The novel itself starts slowly and reveals little details so that you feel you’re piecing things together for yourself. That is not to say that as it progresses Unbecoming is an action packed novel–even the sparse action is methodical. The strength of Scherm’s story is in its drama and the aspects of a psychological thriller.

A must read for any fans of Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief, Scherm is a thriller writer to watch.

Unbecoming comes out January 22nd in hardback. I give Unbecoming 4 Book Bubbles: A Popping Good Time.

Thanks for popping in!

December Birchbox 2014

This will be my third Birchbox,  and I’m quite pleased with this subscription box so far. Considering that Birchbox is a $10 a month subscription box, I think there is always an interesting variety of items available to subscribers.

December Birchbox 2014

December Birchbox 2014

However, this is a much smaller sample range than in month’s past, which is somewhat disappointing. Some of these products are so small that I cannot honestly tell whether or not they would be an effective addition to my regular products, and that’s a problem. The whole point of subscription boxes is to try new things and see if they work for you. If you only get one or two uses out of a serum or oil then it’s hard to say if buying these expensive full size products are worthwhile. So that’s my rant about sample sizes, but you didn’t come here for that. On to the products!

Rusk Texture Dry Finishing Spray (sample size $3.38)

For a hairspray, this is actually a perfect travel size and is the only product I don’t have a problem with size-wise. Which is truly unfortunate because I don’t typically use hairsprays or texture sprays in my daily routine. My hair is naturally very straight, so I don’t do a lot to it. I will say that the spray on this product is even and smells amazing without being overpowering. A full size can of this spray costs $18, which isn’t terrible for a nice hair spray

Would I buy? No. It smells wonderful but that isn’t enough for me to purchase a product that isn’t important in my life. But if you’re a hairspray kind of person, then I would recommend giving this Rusk texture spray a shot.

Ojon Rare Blend Oil Moisture Therapy (sample size $4.00)

Now for the sample value on this product I’m estimating since I cannot for the life of me find my sample vial, but the full size product is $35 for 45 ml, which makes for a rather pricey sample vial. If I can find the darn thing, I’ll edit the post accordingly.

This is one of the products that frustrated me in terms of size. The sample is very small and though you don’t need much of this oil to rub it over the ends of your hair, the size is still problematic if you have anything other that short hair. Even within such a small vial, the product is beautiful: the pale yellow oil layered over a clear and then turquoise oil. You shake the vial before applying a small bit with your hands to your ends. The blend of Ojon (apparently an oil from the Ojon tree in the rainforest), coconut, aloe vera, and Tahitian monoi oils are supposed to soften and protect your hair. It’s hard to say if it works long-term, but I thought after one use the oil was lightweight and gave my hair a nice shine without looking greasy.

Would I buy? Again, no, but only because it’s not a product I would use regularly, not because it isn’t a good product.

SeaRX Anti-Wrinkle Facial Lift Treatment Serum (sample size $4.00)

The skin care samples are always the hardest to judge in terms of effectiveness. For any skin care product to take full effect you need to be using it regularly for at least four weeks, and sample sizes rarely facilitate long-term use. What I can tell you about this product it that it has a light, fresh, floral smell and goes on clear. The serum soaks into the skin quickly and leaves your skin feeling soft to the touch and refreshed. Personally, I don’t have much in the way of wrinkles but preventative use is always welcome! A full size bottle of this serum would cost you $34, so keep that in mind.

Would I buy? Maybe. Definitely not right now when my need for this kind of product is minimal. But perhaps in a few years I would be willing to invest in a serum I enjoyed.

Lord & Berry Paillettes Eye Pencil in Sparkle Black ($4.50)

This is the tiniest sample of eye-liner I have ever received. So that in and of itself is kind of disappointing. Generally, I adore Lord & Berry cosmetics: they’re a high-end brand but they put out solid quality products in some stunning classic shades. But for me this eye pencil was an absolute bust. The glitter in this eyeliner made application rough and unpleasant as it scratched or tugged at my lids. A full size of this pencil would cost $18, but if you’re in the market for a sparkly black liner might I suggest Rimmel’s Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl Liner in sparkling black, which should retail for $4.50 at drugstores.

Would I buy? No. Itchy eyelids are not cool.

Manna Kadar LipLocked Priming Gloss Stain in Lucky (sample size $2.88)

Part of me loves this cute itsy-bitsy sample and part of me wishes there was more of it! I love the color–Lucky–a soft mid toned pink that looks very natural on my lips. I’m not sure that the priming and staining claims are 100% true, since I felt the color was mostly gone after a few hours. But the gloss itself feels so smooth and soft on the lips. The formula is packed with Vitamins A and E as well as some natural berry extracts. This is also a paraben-free and cruelty-free product, which I’m always excited to see. My lips feel great after using this product even if it doesn’t stick around for as long as I had hoped.

Would I buy? Maybe. A full-sized lip gloss is $24, so this is one I could see myself getting by using my Birchbox points but not necessarily purchasing with my own money.

That’s it for my December Birchbox! Overall I definitely think I got $10 worth of products but I am not overly thrilled with the size and/or some of the products themselves. The value of this month’s Birchbox is roughly $18.75.

While this isn’t my favorite Birchbox, I have been enjoying this subscription service a lot. If you’d like to give Birchbox a shot, you can use my referral link here or check out my referral links page.

Thanks for popping in!

December Ipsy 2014

The last ipsy bag of 2014 is here! Sorry for the delay in the review. With the holidays and all, reviews have gotten backlogged. But I’m in the midst of catching up, so let’s get into it!

December Ipsy Bag

December Ipsy Bag

The bag is OK, but I like the little detachable ipsy heart zipper pull. What I’m really happy with is the card. I was getting sick of seeing the ipsy stylists on every card. Especially because ipsy’s cards never have any product information on them. I’d love to get a frame for this and hang this ipsy card on my wall since it’s an inspiring sentiment.

At first I wasn’t all that excited for this bag, but as I used the products I realized this is actually a really great bag from ipsy. Maybe one of the better bags I’ve had in months.

Nourish Organic Renewing Eye Cream (*full size* $20+)

Before I get into the description I have some explaining to do on why this is a full-sized product. 1) This product won’t officially be released on the Nourish Organic website until some time later this month 2) Because of this I’m not 100% sure what the price will be, but everything in their facial line is $20 or over, so that’s where I’m pulling price from. Hopefully I can edit this post when the official price is revealed. 3) This sample is the exact size as what a full size will be (.5 fl oz) but does not have the cooling applicator tip, so the value of this sample will be slightly less than whatever the regular product is priced at.

As for the eye cream itself, it’s a nice moisturizing treatment for under-eyes. As with most eye creams, a little bit goes a long way. This sample will last me a good long while. Nourish Organic products are all USDA organic certified and cruelty free too, which is always nice to see in a product. The primary ingredients listed on this sample are avocado oil, argan oil, and shea butter. My only issue with this product is that I smell like a salad after one use; it’s just that faint avocado smell.

Would I buy it? Probably not because of the smell. But if that doesn’t bother you, go for it! It’s a great little eye cream otherwise.

NYX Butter Lip Balm in the shade Marshmallow (*full size* $4)

Always a fan of NYX products. I have one of these already in the shade Parfait, so I was grateful not to get an accidental duplicate. I would say these balms are not quite as moisturizing as the Butter Lip Glosses, but they are fun little balms to carry around in your bag. I’m particularly fond of this Marshmallow shade because it does not have much color payoff. I know, that’s not a typical response, but this shade is great for applying before any lipstick to give your lips a bit of a hydration boost.

Would I buy it? Maybe. Since I now have two I can’t see myself running out anytime soon, but I might if I ever did hit pan.

Pixi by Petra Fairy Dust in shade Brightening Bare (*full size* $15.39)

If you click the link on ipsy’s website, which takes you to the Pixi site, the cost of this product is £10.00. Using a currency converter this product would retail for $15.39 in USD. I quite enjoy this loose pigment though. The shade–Brightening Bare–is a perfect base color for a simple eye look or adds a bit of pop if you wanted to dab it in the center of your lid. The applicator is a small pointed sponge tip, but a much better quality sponge tip than your typical drugstore applicators; this one is more dense which makes it easier to pack the color onto your lids. There is a risk of fallout while you’re applying the pigment but nothing that cannot be lightly swept away by a fan brush or a pinky finger.

Would I buy it? Yes. It’s a nice pigment that doesn’t make my lids look crepey. Calling that a win-win.

450° Blow Out Heat Defense Blow Dry Spray Mini by Sexy Hair (sample size $7.67)

Normally, I am not a fan of receiving hair spray of any kind in subscription boxes because I do next to nothing with my stick straight blonde hair. This heat defense spray gets a pass. I don’t blow dry my hair often but when I do, I worry about heat damage. So far I’ve only used this spray once: lightly spritzing it over my hair, brushing through, and then blowing my hair dry. I’ve found that my hair has a nice shine to it with this spray and, at least with that one use, I did not experience any damage to my hair. A full size Blow Out spray costs $18.95.

Would I buy it? Possibly. Like I said, I don’t use these sorts of products often. But so far I like the results.

Tarte’s Lights, Camera, Lashes 4-in-1 Mascara (sample size $8.30)

Every ipster got a deluxe sample of Tarte’s famed mascara this month, which is really the most exciting part of this bag! Over the holidays, I traveled with this mascara and really enjoyed the formula. I love a good sample size mascara since these are the kinds of products that always dry out before you can properly use them up. The Lights, Camera, Lashes formula gives me fuller, longer looking lashes that enhance my natural curl. I’d say it’s a happy medium between natural looking lashes and falsies. Very impressed with this mascara.

Would I buy it? Yes. The full size is $20, but I could see myself saving up for this. One of the best high-end mascaras I’ve ever tried.

All in all, this is one of the better ipsy bags I have had since starting in April. Ipsy costs $10 a month and the value for December’s glambag is roughly $55.36. I say roughly this time since I’m not 100% sure on the eye cream price and the price of the Pixi product could shift with currency values.

In any event, that is a great value for a $10 a month subscription service! Three full size beauty products and quality brands to boot! If you’d like to give ipsy a shot you can click my referral link here or go investigate my referral links page.

Thanks for popping in!

Top Ten Movies of 2014

Oh heavens, these lists are complicated to make!

What makes the ranking is partly due to whether or not I think it’s a “good movie” and partly due to sheer enjoyment in the theater. So today, you’re getting a taste of the serious film critic and a bit of the fan-girl who walks out of the theater crowing, “That was AWEsome!”

1. The Skeleton Twins

I saw this movie for the first time last January at Sundance and was so impressed with the performances of Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader. The room was full of electricity and that experience was one of the best I had at the movies all year. A great dark comedy about family drama.

2. Gone Girl 

Another packed theater where the emotions of the whole audience were palpable. I already knew how the movie would end, but I was still riveted the whole way through. Rosamund Pike deserves an Oscar or at least a Golden Globe for her powerhouse performance as Amy Dunne.

3. Interstellar

One of the best original science fiction films in years. Stunningly beautiful cinematography and a real achievement for Nolan as a director. It’s not a perfect film by any means but it was one of the most compelling movies I saw all year.

4. Fury

This movie made me a David Ayers fan. I think for many moviegoers this film flew under the radar and didn’t get a ton of attention, but for me Fury was one of the most heart-wrenching, brutal, stirring, and honest films I saw in 2014. Or in any other year.

5. Birdman

Birdman is a movie that grew on me, to the point that a film I was kind of “meh” about when I first saw it is now on my top ten list. If you enjoy meta movies about the film industry, then here is a dark and quirky film for you to feast on. I’m hoping to see some statuettes given to the wonderful people who worked on this film during awards season: everything from sound design to editing to the acting was on point.

6. The Lego Movie

Because everything really is awesome, and you know it too! Such a fun movie to see in theaters. Or a fun movie to watch period. The obvious creativity coming from this film is what makes The Lego Movie so exciting, even months later.

7. X-Men Days of Future Past

This is one of those movies that makes the list because of the ecstatic experience I had in the theaters. The recent X-Men movies have been inventive and on point in a way that the genre needed. Plus for me as a fan, seeing one of my favorite lesser-known characters on the screen–Blink–was a big moment.

8. The Fault in Our Stars

Now I realize what I am about to type might be somewhat controversial (so don’t hate me): I liked the movie better than the book. So rare, but it does indeed happen! Plain and simple, the movie made me bawl and the book did not make me shed a single tear. The book is still wonderful, but for me the movie was just a better experience.

9. Snowpiercer

There’s just something gripping about this movie. Snowpiercer is at its best the first time you see it. Look too close and the flaws start to become more obvious than you’d like. But that first roaring experience trumps the later doubt.

10. The One I Love

If you are a fan of “The Twilight Zone”, The One I Love is a modern twist on those science fiction thrillers. Mark Duplass and Elizabeth Moss both give stellar performances that assert their range and capability as actors.

Honorable Mentions:

What If

An adorable romantic comedy starring Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan about the dynamics of a falling for someone when they’re already in a relationship. Quirky, relevant, and witty What If was one of the best romantic comedies I have seen in a long while.

Frank

Michael Fassbinder stars in this offbeat, trippy independent film about a musician who wears a paper mache head. Sounds weird and it is weird, but in the best way possible.

Well, there you have it, my best of list for films in 2014. Now I should also mention that I haven’t seen some of the stunners that are still making the rounds like Big Eyes, Into the Woods, or Wild. I’d like to see all these films and more, but I can’t judge what I haven’t seen yet.

What were some of your favorite films last year?

Thanks for popping in!

My Favorite Reads of 2014

Hello all!

In lieu of an official Top Ten Tuesday post for you, I’d like to take a moment to recognize the books that have made an impact on me in the past year.

One of the reasons I will always be a prolific reader is that I believe in the power of books and words. Storytelling cuts right to the heart of an individual, yet manages to reach so many people; that’s one of the most magical gifts human beings have given to one another in our sweeping history.

But I digress. The New Year approaches and I often feel expansive when looking back at the recent past. So without further ado and in no particular order, here are the books that had the most impact on me for 2014.

*Pictures and links sourced from Goodreads*

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (Freakonomics, #1)

1. Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

This book was originally published in 2001, and it took me until this spring to finally read the famed Freakonomics. There is so much information jam packed into this crafty piece of non-fiction, but somehow Levitt and Dubner manage to make it all fascinating and relevant. If you’re the kind of person who loves knowing how things work or interconnect, then I would highly recommend Freakonomics.

The One and Only

2. The One & Only by Emily Giffin

In my very first PopSugar Must Have Box (which I don’t have a posted review for) I received a hardback copy of Giffin’s latest novel. Not only is this one of my favorite things I’ve ever received in a subscription box but it turned out to be a perfect summer read. The One & Only was my first Emily Giffin book and I’m anxious to read more from this contemporary writer.

The Year of Magical Thinking

3. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

If you’ve been following my blog you probably already know about this post. Not only did this book have a profound effect on me as a person and a reader, but writing a review of this piece of nonfiction changed the readership of my blog. I was deeply honored to be Freshly Pressed and in the process have discovered so many new readers and writers.

Grief is one of the most personal experiences we have and reading Didion’s memoir let me in to her grief while allowing me to come to terms with my own. I highly recommend this book to anyone seeking solace from loss, but I also recommend waiting for at least a year so that you can better understand your own journey.

Archetype (Archetype, #1)

4. Archetype by M.D. Waters

I have a weird obsession with this book. It wasn’t even that it was such a phenomenal read that I gave it five bubbles; it was a fairly pleasant run-of-the-mill reading experience. Yet I have mentioned this dratted book on nearly every Top Ten Tuesday list that reflects upon my reading habits. So it must be better than I thought initially.

The Book Thief

5. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Again, this shouldn’t surprise anyone because I’ve been talking about how much I enjoy this book quite a bit. You can read my full review here if you’re interested.

Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality

6. Heads in Beds by Jacob Tomsky

This was a pleasant non-fiction read that changed the way I think about staying at hotels (not necessarily in a bad way) and how I approach service industries at large. So while it didn’t get the highest rating I can give for a book, Heads in Beds really stuck with me in a positive way, which is why it makes it on to this list. Check out my full thoughts here.

The Shadow of the Wind (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books,  #1)

7. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

This is a book for book lovers. The reverence and adoration for books and writing is at the heart of this tale. Zafon is also an expert at magical realism, which shines through in this inventive, thoughtful novel.

Jurassic Park (Jurassic Park, #1)

8. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

My very first Michael Crichton novel and I adored it. I can see why so many of his books have been adapted for film because Crichton has a cinematic style to his fiction. I’m incredibly excited for Jurassic World to come out next year, and I would like to catch up with the books as well.

Gods Like Us: On Movie Stardom and Modern Fame

9. Gods Like Us: On Movie Stardom and Modern Fame by Ty Burr

This list wouldn’t be complete without a book about film, since that is such an important part of my life. I know I don’t talk about film on here as much as I do books and beauty, but that’s because movies are a major part of my day-to-day life and I don’t have enough of an outlet to talk about the other stuff, so I blog. Anyway, I am a big fan of Ty Burr’s writing style, which is both informative and accessible. Burr is also the film critic for The Boston Globe so he knows his stuff about film. This book tracks the evolution of the star from the first celluloid celebrities in the teens and twenties to modern reality stardom. If you’re a bit of a film buff, this is the read for you.

Unbecoming

10. Unbecoming by Rebecca Scherm

I won’t say much about this book, except that it comes out this January and you should look for it on the shelves. I got an ARC through Goodreads and will be posting a full review in the coming weeks. So keep an eye out for that as well.

This past year I made more of an effort to read non-fiction, and I would say that paid off immensely as four of my favorite books from the year are non-fiction. I’ve also been more open to others’ recommendations and just grabbing things from the library instead of only reading my favorite authors, so that has been a ton of fun!

Hope you’ve had some noteworthy novels in your life this year! I can’t wait to start reading for 2015.

Thanks for popping in!

Special Edition Holiday PopSugar Must Have Box

Holy cow! If you thought my December PopSugar Must Have Box was great, just wait until you get a peek at this Special Edition Box.

Four times a year, PopSugar puts out their Special Edition seasonal boxes. A regular PopSugar box costs $39.95 and a seasonal box costs $100. I realize it’s a steep price increase, believe me, but the value of what’s inside these boxes is usually mind-blowing.

So indulge with me as I tear through the contents of this special edition box!

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I love how everything in this box seems to color coordinate.

Loeffler Randall Envelop Clutch ($70)

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This is a real leather clutch. Normally, I purchase faux leather but when a company sends you a real leather bag, you take it! This clutch also appears to be a collaboration between PopSugar and Loeffler Randall, which means you cannot get this bag anywhere else. I feel classier just holding the dang thing.

Turkish-t Diamond Throw ($65)

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Another exclusive as this blanket was designed with PopSugar in mind. I’m kind of ambivalent about receiving this throw. PopSugar has included Turkish towels in their boxes before and I’m not overly impressed. On the other hand it’s nice to have a blanket to snuggle up on the couch with. So it’s alright.

RMS Beauty Living Luminizer and Brightening Brush ($50)

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I have not yet used this little pot of what has to be gold based on the price tag. I like that it comes with a little brush and I think it’s going to give a pretty highlight. That being said I would never spend this much on a highlighter, which is why it’s perfect to receive in a subscription box!

Illume Gilded Amberleaf Metallic Knob Tin ($23.50)

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The top notes of the this candle are cedar and amber with hints of mandarin, vetiver, vanilla, and tobacco. Smells warm and comforting. Once the candle has burned down, this holder will continue to be a beautiful piece of home decor. I call it a win-win.

Droga Chocolates: Money on Honey ($7.95)

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Dark chocolate covered caramels with a splash of sea salt. So very good. I know it’s kind of a food trend at the moment to put sea salt on chocolate, but I am all for it! Trendy or no, this is delicious chocolate.

Kate Somerville Exfolikate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment ($22)

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I have heard about this product on YouTube but have never had the chance to give it a shot myself. I’m really excited to try this little exfoliater. The formula includes papaya, pineapple, and pumpkin enzymes as well as rosewood and cinnamon extracts. The enzymes act as a natural exfoliant and should help revitalize your skin tone.

Habit Cosmetics nail polish in 21 Nefertiti ($18)

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This is a beautiful warm brown with golden shimmer. What makes this product so special (and likely expensive) is that it is infused with myrrh extract. Myrrh extract has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties so it should help strengthen your nails and treat your cuticles. This polish is also cruelty-free and vegan friendly as well as being 5-free. I painted my nails with this polish for the holidays and while it is a lovely, unique color, it chipped quickly. You also cannot smell the myrrh, which I can’t decide if that is a good thing or not. I’d say this is a special occasion polish for specific night rather than a long-wearing formula.

I’m really blown away by the value of my special edition box and am enjoying its contents immensely. The only product I’m not in love with is the throw, but I’ll still use it often.

For $100, this Special Edition Holiday Must Have Box is worth $256.45. I definitely got my money’s worth with this box!

Happy Holidays everyone and thanks for popping in!

Happy Haulidays Part 1

I’ll admit it. I went a little nutty with the makeup purchasing. But that’s half the fun during this time of year!

And because I somewhat anticipate there being some more purchases made after Christmas, I have decided to bring you a haul before and a haul after the holidays.

This first part of the will be mostly drugstore finds, and the second part will be more on the high-end scale of things. Sound good?

Onward!

IMG_3227These two beauties have obviously not been cracked open yet, but since some of my mascaras have dried out in the last few months I thought these would be worth trying. I’m really hoping the argan oil formula does nice things for my lashes.

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Not sure what made me pick up the Simple eye make-up remover pads, but I’ve heard good things about the brand. These other two eye shadows were pure impulse buys. This Maybelline Color Tattoo in Tough as Taupe seemed like a good base shade, and I picked up NYX’s Jumbo Eye Pencil in French Fries because of the name. Sometimes a good name is all it takes.

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The Tough as Taupe comes off a bit more gray than I expected, but I’ll have to play with it and see how it works out. French Fries turned out to be a beautiful bronze that I’m really excited about.

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One of elf’s latest releases is these six shadow palettes, and this particular one is Naked, which I figured would be the easiest to play with. I’ve noticed my makeup tastes leaning more towards nude or natural in the past few months. The other elf product I picked up was the Makeup Lock & Seal. I’ve heard it’s comparable to MAC’s Fix-Plus in terms of getting shadows to shine, so I thought I’d give it a shot.

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Look at how beautiful and pigmented these shadows are! They’re also smooth to the touch and feel light on the skin. I’m impressed already.

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I’ve always wanted to try one of the Dream Bouncy blushes from Maybelline, so I picked up this pale purple-pink called Orchid Hush. I don’t have anything like it, and as you’ll see in the pictures below it’s very light. Then I added NYX’s soft matte lip creme in Stockholm to my cart as well. It’s a lovely Terra Cotta color. Then I decided to give some CoverGirl products a shot: the new Colorlicious Lipstick in Honeyed Bloom (my CVS was super picked over but I already want to try more shades here) and then the lipperfection jumbo gloss balm in Blush Twist 210.

From left to right: Orchid Hush, Stockholm, Honeyed Bloom, Blush Twist.

From left to right: Orchid Hush, Stockholm, Honeyed Bloom, Blush Twist.

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I’ve received quite a few dark-colored lip products from subscription boxes in the last few months, so I wanted to find a good dark lip liner. This Milani lip liner in Sugar Plum works really well for any dark toned lip colors. I also wanted to try this rich Milani shade called Black Cherry (on the right) and got equally sucked in by Teddy Bare (on the left).

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On the top here we have Teddy Bare, which is a camel brown color. I was hoping for more of a pinky-brown but this should still look very pretty. Then Black Cherry is in the middle and Sugar Plum is on the bottom.

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I’ve always heard amazing things about Rimmel’s lip colors and these will be the first I have ever tried. We have here the Rimmel Show Off Lip Lacquer in Solstice and the Lasting Finish by Kate in 08.

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These would probably look gorgeous layered over one another! The lip lacquer has a beautiful shine to it too.

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Last batch here, I promise! I picked up three L’Oreal Color Riche lipsticks in Ballerina Shoes, Fairest Nude, and Silverstone. Ballerina Shoes has a frosty tone to its pale pink shade. Fairest Nude is just a stunning nude lip color that I think I’ll get a lot of mileage out of. And the Silverstone is a color I’ve never seen before–a grey toned brown with a hint of pale purple. The unique color caught me off guard and I had to have it.

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The swatches go in the same order as the tubes–Ballerina Shoes, Fairest Nude, and Silverstone.

Phew! Thus ends part one of my Haulidays post! I told you I went a bit nuts at the drugstore! If you’d like to see reviews of any of these products in the future, let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for popping in!

December PopSugar Must Have Box

PopSugar is arguably my favorite subscription box and this month they did not disappoint at all! If anything, this month’s box proves why I think the Must Have Box is the best. So let’s get into it!

December PopSugar Must Have Box.

December PopSugar Must Have Box.

Just look at this beautiful spread! I’m in love. While there isn’t a special extra in this month’s box (well there is but I’ll explain that below) the contents of this month’s box are so lovely I couldn’t imagine what else they would put in here.

SPUN by Subtle Luxury ($62)

This beautiful gold speckled scarf is soft and light: it will keep me warm this winter without throttling me like some of my heavier scarfs do. The gold flecks also add an element of shine so you can add this scarf to your ensemble instead of a necklace. PopSugar has sent a few scarfs in the past but I really cannot complain because they’re such staple in my wardrobe.

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Williams-Sonoma Vanilla Bean Cupcake Mix ($14.95)

I love it when PopSugar sends me mixes for baked goods. They’re perfect for the odd night when you feel compelled to make something but don’t actually want to work that hard for it. I’m really looking forward to giving these vanilla cupcakes a try!

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Canvas Dauville’s Platinum Bowl ($29)

I am senselessly happy about receiving a bowl in a subscription box. This adorable little bowl has a ceramic exterior and platinum/chrome interior. I’m going to put this on top of my makeup table so it can be admired at all times.

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Smashbox Be Legendary Long-Wear Lip Lacquer in Bordeaux ($24)

I love it when I get full size high-end makeup products in subscription boxes! And this bordeaux shade is perfect for the holidays. I haven’t tried it on my lips yet, but I’ll be remedying that over the next few weeks.

Look at that gorgeous wine red lippie! Ignore the other two swatches. They're from another post.

Look at that gorgeous wine red lippie! Ignore the other two swatches. They’re from another post.

I think this wine/brick red shade will look really amazing. Personally, I’m fond of deep reds. Even though I am very fair-skinned, I’ve found these blue-toned reds really work for me.

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Knot & Bow Parcel Tags ($4)

Perfect timing, PopSugar! But I expect they’re very aware of how perfect their timing is. By the time this post goes live, these little tags will likely be used up on my family’s Christmas packages. I also appreciate that these tags are blue so that they’re more inclusive. I celebrate Christmas but I am fully aware that not everyone does and am happy to see something that could easily work for everyone’s seasonal gifts.

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Sydney Necklace by Sparklepop ($42)

Pardon me while I have a moment of maniacal laughter…PopSugar accidentally sent me two of these stunning baubles. So I am one happy camper! If you love jewelry then I highly recommend checking out the Sparklepop website. They have a lovely variety of trendy pieces at an affordable price. This particular crystal pendant was modeled after Amy Adams’ red carpet look, which is amazing because Amy Adams is such a style icon. I’m thrilled to have this necklace in my box and someone in my life will be thrilled to have the other one in my box too!

Image respectfully borrowed from popsugar.com

So that’s that! One of the best Must Have boxes I’ve ever received for sure. I am extremely excited for all six of these items; there isn’t a dud in the bunch!

PopSugar Must Have boxes cost $39.95 per box, and the total value of December’s box is $175.95. That is a crazy value for a monthly subscription box!

If you’d like to get a PopSugar Must Have Box of your very own, click my referral link here or go to my referral link’s page.

Thanks for popping in!

Eye Looks with ColourPop

So after my rave review of the ColourPop shadows and a few friendly recommendations, I decided to show off a couple of eye looks using my latest favorites.

Here are the swatches from my original post to use as a reference for what the shades look like on their own. For this post, I won’t be going in the numerical order listed here though.

Swatches

Swatches

1. Get Lucky

As I mentioned in my original post, my go-to look with is a warm brown shade in the crease (usually, NYX’s Velvet) and then packing the ColourPop shade all over the lid. I’ve done this with all the colors I own, and it always looks good. A very simple eye look: two minutes tops and you’re ready to roll.  The shade I use the most for this look is the metallic gold, Get Lucky.

Perfect for day or evening.

Perfect for day or evening.

Gotta work on my wing skills, this is a bit wonky.

Gotta work on my wing skills, this is a bit wonky.

Truly going day-to-night with your makeup can be a challenge. But I think the above look could transition well, maybe without the winged liner if your work environment was more traditional. The gold is metallic, but can be soft and subtle depending on how you apply it.

2. Hammered

A much darker look for an all over smoky eye.

A much darker look.

An all over green smoked lid.

An all over green smoked lid.

Once again, NYX’s Velvet is in the crease. I used a Maybelline Color Tattoo from their limited edition leather line in Deep Forest as a base, to darken the look up. Then  I packed ColourPop’s Hammered all over the lid as well.  I also ran a shimmery copper shade underneath my lower lashes, which turned out well.

Hammered by itself is really pretty and more of an olive with golden shimmer, so I wanted to try something a little different with it. These ColourPop shadows layer really well, especially with the Color Tattoos.

3. Sequin

For this next look, I used Sequin and the Kat Von D Poetica palette.

I don’t normally go this bold with my eye looks but the darkest shade got a little out of control, so I just went for it. For me, Sequin is one of my more versatile colors because I like warm orange/copper tones for my fair skin and blue eyes to really stand out.

Easily one of the boldest looks I've ever pulled together.

Easily one of the boldest looks I’ve ever pulled together.

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 4. So Quiche

For this next look, I used So Quiche on 2/3 of my lid over a nude base. I gently blended a shade that I’m calling a Fool’s Gold from last year’s Coastal Scents Fall Palette along the outer corner and into the crease. I also ran So Quiche under my lower lash line to create a subtle smokey effect.

More on the subtle side.

More on the subtle side.

5. Liberty

This next look features ColourPop’s Liberty, which is one of their super shock shades. I also used L’Oreal’s 24hr Infallible Eye Shadow in Sultry Smoke. I love using Sultry Smoke in the crease for silver toned eye looks; the blue-ish purple tone to the gray gives any look some added dimension.

Love that silver.

Love that silver.

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I really loved how this one turned out. I feel like an ice queen.

6. BAE

Love the color, hate the name. Last, but not least is ColourPop’s BAE, which looks blue in the pan but pulls very purple on the lid. There is definitely blue microshimmer in this shadow though.

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Purple is a beautiful color on the lid but it can look like a black eye if you’re not careful. So it’s important to include different shades or tones in a purple eye look. I added NYX’s Velvet in the crease and NYX’s Jumbo Eye Pencil in Lavender along the inner corner and under the eye. I also used Sephora’s Jumbo Liner in purple to line the upper lash line.

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You can see the blue microshimmer better in this shot. Of all of the ColourPop shades I own, BAE is the least versatile, but when you find the right look for it, it’s a very pretty shade.

So those are a few different ways you can use ColourPop shadows. I’m constantly playing with them and figuring out new ways to wear them.

Each ColourPop shadow retails for $5, so they’re incredibly affordable. These shadows are also made in the US and are cruelty-free.

After the new year, I’ll probably revisit the brand since I have my eye on some of their holiday shades. Let me know in the comments if that’s something you’d be interested in seeing.

Thanks for popping in!