December 2014 Birchbox Unboxing


It’s Birchbox time once again! I love seeing my Birchbox in my mailbox each month, but especially at the holidays.  Being a Birchbox subscriber is like getting a little Christmas present in the mail every month.  And how cute was this month’s light blue mailer that said “Open for Holiday”? So stinking cute. I love that they are changing up the mailer for different seasons and causes. Before we get into December’s goodies, I’ll give you an update on how I fared with November’s box.

My favorite product from November was the Ruffian Naked nail polish.  It’s such a beautiful, creamy cappuccino color that I actually really love.  I also enjoyed the Gilchrist & Soames body wash.  The only product that didn’t work for me last month was the Curl Keeper gel, but I didn’t have high hopes for it, since I’ve used other products from the brand before and didn’t care for them.  Overall, November was a good box.


December’s theme is “Decked Out,” which is perfect for the holiday season.  I love the blue and gold boxes.  It’s such a nice, festive holiday touch.  Birchbox has really upped their box game lately, using different colors and patterns.  I will definitely be saving this box, and possibly reusing it to package a holiday gift.  This month Birchbox partnered up with Gap, so every subscriber was supposed to get a $10 voucher with their box.  I know there have been some issues with non-subscribers taking the voucher codes, but I am hoping Birchbox and Gap are fixing that; when I went to the link that was included in my box, the page just said there had been issues with the codes and they were working to fix it.  We will see what happens.  On to the goodies!

Birchbox is really spoiling me lately.  My first product is a Ruffian Nail Lacquer in Ruffian Red.  Two Ruffian polishes in a row? Amazing.  These are the best polishes I’ve ever tried, and all of them are true one coaters.  I’m typically not a red nail polish person; I find most red polishes to be too bright.  I am pleasantly surprised by this one.  It’s a deep red, perfect for winter time, and definitely in keeping with the red and green theme of the Christmas season.

My next product this month is a Sumbody Salt Scrub Bon Bon in Tuscan Orange.  I haven’t tried this product yet (I’m kind of saving it for a treat) but it is a salt scrub that you use in the shower after your cleanser.  You rub the bon bon over your skin, and it helps exfoliate and get rid of dead skin.  I’m definitely looking forward to trying this out.  Plus, it smells amazing.  My whole box smelled like oranges because of this little guy.

The next product is Borghese Superiore State-of-the-Art Mascara.  I’ve never heard of this brand before, but the full size price of $20 tells me it’s a prestige brand.  At first glance, there is nothing really special about the brush.  It’s very standard, black mascara.  I had a hard time getting product on my lashes; it goes on very lightly.  I do like it though.  It gave me a very natural look, and it’s always good to have a basic mascara in your makeup bag. My product card says it’s extended-wear, but it doesn’t seem to be waterproof, which is a plus.

The next product is Juara Turmeric Antioxidant Radiance Mask.  I sampled a Juara lotion last December and really loved it.  This is such a generous sample size.  The mask feels very hydrating on the skin, and the scent is subtle, but good.  The mask says it uses plant extracts to reduce inflammation.  My skin felt really good after using this product, and the sample is big enough that I can get 3 or 4 masks out of it.

My final product this month is W3LL People Bio Brightener Stick in Moonstone.  This is a shimmery, but subtle cream highlighter.  It is super creamy and silky, and so easy to apply.  I’m not a huge highlighter person, so I tried it out as an all-over eyeshadow on my eyelids, and I loved it.  It gives very subtle shimmer and pigment, so it’s perfect for any occasion.

Overall I am extremely pleased with December’s Birchbox.  I feel spoiled getting a Ruffian polish two months in a row, and I think this month brought a nice mix of products and brands.   If you are interested in signing up for Birchbox, it is a $10/month subscription service.  You can pay monthly or pay for a full year up front.  Everyone gets 4-6 different samples each month, tailored to the beauty profile you fill out and you can review your samples to earn Birchbox points.  Birchbox has the best points system, hands down.  You get 10 points per review and 100 points  = $10 to spend in the Birchbox shop on full size products they sample.  It’s like they pay you $4-6 every month just for taking your box.  If you’re interested in learning more or signing up, you can click here for more details.

Happy December!

December 2014 Ipsy Unbagging


It’s that time again. I can’t believe it’s already the holidays, and that the holiday season is going by so fast.  My mailman brought my December Ipsy bag earlier this week, and I’m trying something a little different with this one.  Usually I just post first impressions of the products as I’m opening my bag, but this month I waited a couple of days and gave the products a try first.  This way, you’ll get more of a first impression, mini review.  As usual though, first a look back at how I fared with November’s bag.

What I really ended up loving from November was the Be a Bombshell Eyebase.  It’s a really gorgeous, subtle color on the skin, and I’ve been wearing it every day that I need to put on makeup.  I also really loved last month’s bag, and sadly that’s it.  The other products just aren’t things that I’ll use.  I don’t use hairspray, I have another TEMPTU highlighter that I like better, I don’t wear black eyeliner, and the J.Cat lip paint was so messy, and so not my color.  November was a pretty whomp whomp month, since I only kept one product.

photo 2_FotorThis month’s theme is “Thinking of You,” and to be honest, I don’t get it.  The little postcard that came with my bag is all about giving thanks for important people in your life, which is awesome, but seems like it would have been more suited to November.  Oh well.  The bag this month is a really simple, pencil case style black nylon bag.  It’s cute though, with a satin finish, burgundy lining, and Ipsy heart zipper pull.  I’ll probably keep it, because it seems really high quality.

The first item I got in this months bag is NYX Butter Lip Balm in Marshmallow.  Everyone got a full size NYX Butter Lip Balm this month, and of the four colors being sent out, this one is the least wearable, in my opinion.  It’s described as a “pure nude,” but honestly, it’s the color of butterscotch, and these balms are pigmented.  It’s not a color that looks good on me, but the balm is truly buttery, and smells fantastic.  I’m willing to work around the awkward color on this one.

Everyone also received a Tarte Lights Camera Lashes Mascara deluxe sample this month.  I have really been wanting to try this mascara because I know so many people who tell me it’s a life changer.  At the same time, I didn’t want to like it because it’s so pricey, but oh man.  This is one of the best mascaras I’ve ever used.  It gave me length and volume, but didn’t clump up or give me spider lashes.  I also like that it didn’t seem to be waterproof, as it came off really easily.  I may have to breakdown and buy a full size of this one.

My next product is BWC Facial Cleanser.  This is a 100% vegan foaming face cleanser that is supposed to cleanse skin and control oil without over cleansing or stripping your face.  I love the vegan aspect – it’s not something I’d seek out, but it’s nice knowing that a product I’m using isn’t using animal products or testing on animals.  This is a nice cleanser, and the sample size is really generous.  It’s got a fresh, slightly citrusy scent, and the couple of time I’ve used it, it hasn’t left my face feeling tight and uncomfortable afterwards.

Up next is a Swissco Electroplated Eyelash Curler.  I love that it’s purple, because that is just fun.  I’ve never used an eyelash curler before, or owned one, so this was a first for me.  Maybe I’m using it or positioning it wrong, but it doesn’t seem to fit my eye comfortably.  I’ll keep working on it, because this could totally be user error, and it is nice to have one of these on hand.  Plus it feels really substantial and well made.  I’m definitely going to try and make this work.

My final product this month is Pixi Fairy Dust in Brightening Bare.  This is a loose mineral eyeshadow in a pretty, shimmery nude color.  The color is very light, and I think this would look great over the eye base I got last month.  However, this product is so messy.  It’s impossible to get out without getting pigment everywhere, and the little sponge you dip in it is hard to apply product with.  As pretty as the color is and as much as I like it, this may have to go in the trash, just based on mess factor alone.

Overall, I’m pleasantly surprised by Decembers bag.  I’ve used and genuinely liked every product.  That is a first for me over the nine months I’ve been subscribed to Ipsy, which brings me to my next point.  I’ve decided to cancel my Ipsy subscription before January.  I think Ipsy is a great company, I’ve had a good experience with them, but for me personally, I just don’t think the products they send mesh well with my personal beauty style and preferences.  Sure, it’s only $10 / month, but it feels so wasteful to spend that money on products that I just throw out or that sit around my medicine cabinet for months.  I’m definitely not disparaging the company – if you’re thinking about signing up, you definitely should because it’s a great service, and I have discovered a few good brands and products through them.  But for me, it’s just not worth it anymore, so it’s time to let it go.  This was definitely a good send-off bag!

On the State of Things Lately

I do not know exactly what I want to say, but I know I want to say something.

I am generally not one for sharing my personal opinions on social media.  I know many people who share theirs constantly, and I suppose I envy their confidence and self-assuredness.  But it is never truly that I am not confident in my opinions; I am.  Opinions are an entirely personal thing, and I choose to keep it that way.  My opinions shape my decisions, and no one else’s.  This is just how I think it should be.  I have no issue with people who do share their personal opinions on social media.  I may not always agree with someone’s politics, but that we live in a place where all of those personal convictions can be typed out, spoken out, and held is something take for granted too often.

I bring all this up because for the past several weeks, my social media feeds have been ablaze.  It started two Monday’s ago, when the grand jury in Ferguson chose not to indict Darren Wilson.  Within moments of the announcement my Facebook feed was full of condemnations, the expected handful of supporters or defenders of the decision, pictures of the protestors in Ferguson, in New York, in Atlanta, in Chicago.  I said nothing.  The next day brought more protests, the iconic picture of police in riot gear under the “Season’s Greetings” sign in Ferguson, articles detailing the evidence the grand jury heard.  I said nothing.

Fast forward one week, just one week, and another grand jury, this time in Staten Island, New York, chose not to indict another white police officer in the death of Eric Garner.  The cycle started again, the same posts appearing, but substituting “New York” for “Ferguson,” “Eric Garner” for “Mike Brown.”  I said nothing. It was surreal to have to such decisions come so close together.  When I heard the news about Eric Gardner, my heart wilted.  Again? How have we gotten this so wrong again, only one week later?

The images coming out of these two decisions are astounding.  Just here in Chicago, the floods of protestors moving down the streets, the sheer volume of people who have been so inspired by these two injustices is almost overwhelming.  The protests in Chicago have been mostly peaceful; in my own neighborhood this week, University of Chicago students staged a die-in at the intersection of 55th Street and Woodlawn.  I walked through downtown on Friday night and the streets were full of police officers on foot, on motorcycles and horses, blocking streets and traffic.  It was hard to say if it was so the protestors would be protected, or to prevent the protestors from traversing certain routes.  I assume is was the latter.

I was crossing the Chicago River when a young Asian woman approached me.  She spoke slowly and deliberately to me, her English not perfect.  She told me she was a stranger in town.  She wanted to know why there were so many police officers out.  I tried to explain.  There was a big court decision this week, I said, and people are protesting it because they didn’t like it. She thought about this for a moment before saying, that is cool.

That is cool.  It is.  That we can collectively come together to express our dissatisfaction in this way is cool, but what is not cool is that we even have to.  I have said nothing until now because I wasn’t sure what to say.  I am still unsure.  I was unsure what I could say.  I feel unqualified to say anything.  I will never understand, and I don’t say that in any other way than to mean that I will never have the experience of being stopped, profiled, followed, or harassed by police.  When did our police become  something to be feared? My mind has gone back to a memory of being in preschool.  I was 3 or 4 and a police officer came in to talk to us. It was probably the first time I had ever seen a police officer.  I remember him telling us that his job was to catch bad guys, that if we always followed the rules, we would never have any problems, that police officers were helpers.  I would like to believe that this is still true of most police officers, but the evidence is damning.

One of my Facebook friends posted a status update this week.  I am paraphrasing, but the gist of the post was that this person had not posted anything since Ferguson, that they could not scroll through mindless posts about football or the holidays in light of these two grand jury decisions. I am tempted to agree. On Thursday night, I noticed an odd mixture of tweets on my twitter.  Christmas, Peter Pan Live, Ferguson, and New York were converging together.  Tweets about how laughable Christopher Walken’s performance was sandwiched reports of protestors moving through the city.  I don’t know what to do with this, other than to say that it was a perplexing mixture.

I’ve noticed that I am having a hard time being in a holiday spirit this year.  There is a feeling, not really of sadness, but of exhaustion or defeat, though it is not my defeat to bear.  I anticipated both grand jury decisions, though I was hoping to be proved wrong.  I expected nothing different because I know that we live in a country that seems to worship the police force, though they have proved that they are not worthy.  I have no solutions, no profound words to say, but I have a feeling these past two weeks are just a tipping point, a spark being slowly fanned into a flame that is prepared to burn us all.

There are no excuses. There are no reset buttons. There is just us, seeking ways to bring hope into a time in such desperate need of it. Help us to push aside our complacency. (source)

What I Liked in November

IMG_0640_FotorI feel like I say this every month, but I am seriously in shock that another month has passed.  It feels like November just began, and yet here we are on the 4th of December.  My days of the week and month are hopelessly messed up at the moment from traveling over Thanksgiving, and I don’t think I have fully adjusted to the fact that it is December.  This year, more than any other I can recall, truly feels like it has flown by.  I am so excited to be officially in the holiday season.  The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is my favorite time of year.  Everything just seems so much more magical and special.  It can be a time when things really speed up, but also a time to slow down and decompress, spend time with family and friends.  I am very much looking forward to getting work out of the way over the next week so I can really enjoy the season.  There is a lot to look forward to, but a lot of great things happened in November.  These are just a few of my favorites.

giving thanks // I was lucky enough to fly home for a week and spend Thanksgiving with my family.  That is time I will always treasure, no matter how old I get.  We are a low key bunch, and Thanksgiving for as long as I can remember has consisted of watching the Macy’s parade, followed by the dog show, and a low-key Thanksgiving lunch with all the fixings.  It was just my parents, my sister, my uncle, and myself at dinner this year, but it was such a lovely afternoon.

thesis writing // while it’s true that on any given day, I might tell you I don’t like writing my thesis, this month I felt like I saw a glimmer of things falling into place.  There is much work to do, and a long way to go, but it is so gratifying to feel like there is structure poking it’s way through the chaotic mess of words on the page.

the unspeakable // Meghan Daum’s latest collection of essays, The Unspeakable, came out this month.  I haven’t finished it yet, but I have been enjoying this book immensely.  It is a lot about bridging the gap between how we feel, and how we think we “should” feel.  It’s been great thesis inspiration, and just a fun, relatable read.  If you don’t know Meghan Daum’s work, check out the piece she wrote for the New York Times earlier in November.

serial // after seeing many people on my social media feeds talking about Serial and Adnan Syed, I had to check it out for myself.  Serial is a free podcast you can download on iTunes from This American Life.  Told by Sarah Koenig, Serial follows one nonfiction story from start to finish.  In this case, it is looking at the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee and wondering if the man convicted of her murder, Adnan Syed, is actually guilty.  It is told so beautifully and captivatingly and is a testament to how immersive nonfiction can be.  I have been savoring every episode thus far.

comfy cozy // it has been so cold here in Chicago and I have become all about the comfy, cozy lifestyle.  This month I have been obsessed with the shearling lined flipflops my mom sent me (they are just as lavish as they sound), oversized sweaters, and super soft flannel shirts.  If I have to be bundled up against the sub-freezing windchill, I might as well enjoy it.

shark tank // oh. my. goodness.  How did I now know about this show before now? This month, I have binge watched nearly five seasons of the show Shark Tank.  It is a reality show on ABC where inventors and entrepreneurs bring their products and ideas to the sharks – a panel of five investors – and make pitches to get a cash investment.  I love seeing some of the creative, wacky, and downright strange things people come up with, and hearing the sharks talk about the business side of things is oddly fascinating.  Is that weird? Probably.

silent hill // this month I finally beat a video game I have been playing since August.  Mr. Man really likes the Silent Hill games, which are a series of horror puzzle games for Playstation.  It’s silly, but I actually really loved playing this game, and seeing what Mr. Man enjoys about the franchise.  Even though it scared the pants off me at times, I feel like I actually accomplished something.

t-swizzle // she’s made another monthly favorites.  I seriously don’t think I listened to anything but Taylor Swift’s new album 1989.  It is just so good, and one of the few albums I own that I enjoy every song on.  It’s been the perfect compliment for long train rides around the city and for singing in the shower.

job hunting // “liking” job hunting may be a stretch, but after months of essentially giving up because of a lack of job postings that I could apply to, this month renewed my hope that I might find something, and soon.  Lots of companies that I would love to work for are hiring, and I sent off lots of hopeful resumes, cover letters, and good vibes this month.

advent // it is finally here, the season of Advent and preparing for Christmas.  I’ve loved watching lights go up, seeing the tree and Christmas market in downtown Chicago, and finally getting to enjoy some festive music.  It is such a special time, and I’m looking forward to enjoying it even more during December.

What were your favorite things in November?



November 2014 Ipsy Unbagging


I can’t believe it’s already time for November subscriptions to arrive.  I also can’t believe that this is my 8th Ipsy bag, because it really feels like I just signed up for this subscription.  I am still on the fence about keeping this subscription because I just feel like there hasn’t been much variety to the bags, in terms of the types of products I am getting every month.  Sure, I get different brands every month, but I’m getting similar products like nude lip glosses, black eyeliners, and moisturizers.  So November’s bag may or may not be my last bag.  As I said, I’m undecided, so I may just wait until the end of the year to cancel.  We will see.  Before we get into November’s bag, let’s take a look at how I ended up faring with October’s products.

The two products that I wound up liking from October were the Starlooks lip gloss and the H2O Plus Hydrating Treatment.  The lip gloss is such a beautiful “your-lips-but-better” color.  It is very tacky in feeling, but it’s not sticky, if that makes sense.  It’s very thick.  I was surprised that I wound up liking the H20 Plus Hydrating Treatment.  The smell is not the best, but the gel formula just feels so good on my skin.  I’ve been using it at night before bed and my skin feels so hydrated and refreshed when I wake up.  As for the rest, the Jesse’s Girl Baked Mineral Eyeshadow went straight to the trash.  Dark blue is just not a color I’m interested in for eyeshadow.  I did use the Skyn Face Wipes and they were okay, but nothing special.  I threw out the Ayres Body Butter.  It just stank and I couldn’t get past the chemical smell that mine had.  So overall, October was just okay and followed the trend that my Ipsy bags have been following where there are really only 1 or 2 items that I keep.

photo 2_Fotor

The theme for November’s bag is Girl Meets Glitter.  It’s a cute theme, and the bag is a really sparkly silver glitter with a pink zipper.  It’s very cute, and definitely on point heading into the glitzy holiday season.  I was a little hesitant about a glitter bag because I could just imagine glitter everywhere, but this one has a plastic coating over it, so no mess.  I think the bag is actually really cute this month.  It’s made by Forever 21 cosmetics for Ipsy, and it does look and feel cheap, but it’s super sparkly and fun.  Also, did anyone else’s bag come in a different mailer this month? The one in the picture above is from a past month because this months was not photo worthy.  I got a very flimsy, thin bubble gum pink mailer, which was kind of shocking when I opened my mailbox.  Not a big deal, just kind of odd.

My first product this month is a Marc Anthony Oil of Morocco Argan Oil Hairspray.  It is supposed to give strong hold, while adding volume and shine.  It smells pretty good, but I’m not sure I’ll use this.  I’m not much a hairspray person, to be honest.

Up next is a Be a Bombshell Eye Base in Submissive.  This strikes me as being similar to a Maybelline Color Tattoo type product, or a MAC Paint Pot. Submissive is a dark brown, metallic color, but it goes on pretty sheer.  It’s really pretty, and I could see it being a great all over color.  This seems like a full size, but there is hardly any product in the pot itself, so I’m unsure if it’s actually full size, or just trying to look like it’s full size.

My next product is a TEMPTU S/B Highlighter in Pink Pearl.  I actually received this sample from Birchbox in September in a pink color.  This is really pretty for a highlight.  It’s pearly and opalescent, and just makes your skin glow.  Also, how cute are these little bottles? So adorable, and because it’s a highlighter, you don’t need much.  This tiny bottle will last a long time.

The next item I received is a J.Cat Wonder Lip Paint in Red Potion. Not gonna lie, I’m a little afraid of this product.  It is so dark!  This product is clearly meant to be like an OCC Lip Tar, but the formula is really runny and hard to apply.  The color isn’t that dark when you put it on; it’s more of a purple berry color than a red.  It’s pretty and I like the color on me, but applying it is a pain, so I’m not sure it’s worth keeping.

My last product this month is an Elizabeth Mott You’re So Fine Liquid Eyeliner in Glitterati. This is a black liquid liner with glitter in it.  Nothing really special about it.  The applicator is nice, but once again I am over getting black eyeliner.  Plus, I don’t like using glitter products around my eyes. My contacts are just a glitter magnet, and there is nothing more uncomfortable than glitter in your eyes.  Also, this is not waterproof, as I put it on and was able to wash it off with just water.  This is probably headed for the trash.

So that is my November Ipsy bag.  Overall, I’m just not that impressed.  I’m most excited for the eye base and the highlighter this month.  I think that December will be my last month with Ipsy.  I do think that this is a great subscription service for people who just want to accumulate a lot of different makeup products and collect them, but I’m not really one of those people.  I’m looking to try out products and find some gems that will become staples in my beauty routine.  For that reason, I think Ipsy just isn’t for me.  I haven’t had a bad experience with the company or any real issues, so I don’t want anyone to think that this is a bad company.  It’s definitely not, I just feel like my $10 could be better spent each month on something more tailored to my tastes.   If you are interested in an Ipsy subscription, you should check out or their Facebook page for more info.

November 2014 Birchbox Unboxing


Holy moly, it’s already time for November subscriptions, and a post! I’ve been a little MIA around here.  Things with school have just gotten crazy overwhelming, so I’ve had to step back on some things.  I love doing these unboxing posts, so I had to pop in for this.  It really does feel like this year has flown by so fast.  I guess that is good and bad, and of course now that Halloween has passed, we are getting into my favorite time of year.  November and December are just such festive, fun months, and I love the little bit of extra flare that comes along with the holiday season.  As usual, before we get into November’s goodies, let’s take a look at how I fared with October’s products.

My favorite products from October’s box were the Mally Liquid Lipstick and the Essential Elements Shower Gel.  The liquid lipstick combines the pigment of a lipstick with the shine of a gloss, and the nude pink color is right up my alley.  It also lasts a while once you put it on, which is nice.  The shower gel is like Christmas is a bottle.  It’s a great way to wake up when you’re feeling sluggish, and I really loved it for the couple of mornings that I woke up congested.  The full-size is pricey for shower gel, but I may break down and buy it.  As for the other products, the Harvey Prince Petaly Noir was not my cup of tea.  The scent is a bit too dark for me.  I liked the idea of the dr. brandt pores no more vacuum mask, but I could barely get enough product out of the tube for one use.  I can’t really speak to it’s effectiveness.  And the ModelCo mascara was a total bust.  It was so wet, clumpy, and goopy that it was unusable and went right to the trash.  Over all though, I was pretty satisfied with October’s box.

photo 1_Fotor

The theme for November is Giving, which is perfect since November is all about Thanksgiving.  Birchbox partnered with the nonprofit group (red) this month and is doing something really cool.  If you share a picture of the red mailer (the outer box that your Birchbox comes in) on social media with the hashtag #shaRED, they’ll donate $1 to AIDS research.  Pretty awesome, right?  Once again this month, I didn’t participate in sample choice, even though it was available.  I don’t even remember what the options were this month, but I know that I didn’t see anything I was absolutely dying to try, so I opted for complete surprise.  My box shipped super early again this month (November 7th), and I did have an issue with the shipping.  This was the first time in a year and a half of subscribing that I’ve had a problem with a box, but Birchbox has fantastic customer service, and after a quick e-mail exchange they resolved the problem and got my box to me quickly.  This month’s box also included the holiday gift guide, which is a cute little magazine Birchbox puts out each holiday season with cute ideas and products you can give as gifts, which is nice to have on hand.

My first product this month is Curl Keeper by Curly Hair Solutions.  This is their gel.  It is supposed to add hold and definition to curls, and the formula is water activated, so you could sleep on your curls, then dampen your hair a bit and the gel would bring your curls back to life.  I sampled another Curl Keeper product when I first signed up for Birchbox and wasn’t that impressed, so I’ll be interested to see if this gel is any better than what I normally buy at the drugstore.

The next product is Cynthia Rowley Beauty Creamy Lip Stain in Dahlia.  I have been dying to try a Cynthia Rowley creamy lip stain.  I’ve seen so many Birchboxers talking about how great they are.  Dahlia is a new shade, I believe, and it is a deep purple berry color.  It goes on very sheer though, and is complimentary on a lot of different skin tones.  I also like that this stain isn’t runny and isn’t drying.  Plus, how cute is the little sample? So precious, and honestly it’s the perfect size since this is really a fall and winter color.

Next is a Gilchrist & Soames Spa Therapy Body Wash.  This is a fantastically generous sample size for a body wash.  I love how chic the packaging is.  It looks like something I would expect to find in a spa or luxury hotel.  The formula is infused with marine extracts and is supposed to leave skin refreshed and hydrated.  This also smells very nice.  It’s hard for me to pinpoint the exact smell, but it’s very clean and fresh, with a bit of cucumber.

My next product is one I was super excited to get.  It is Ruffian Nail Laquer in Naked.  I love Ruffian nail polishes.  They are super high quality and they are all true one coat polishes.   I also love that Birchbox always sends a full-size polish, which pays for the box.  Naked is just a nude nail polish, which isn’t very exciting, but I have been really wanting this color.  It’s the perfect nude; it’s creamy and warm, but still neutral and perfect for the fall.

Up next is a sample of Skin and Co Truffle Therapy Cream.  I kind of hope I don’t like this product, as a full size is nearly $70.  This is a truffle infused moisturizing cream for the face that is supposed to minimize fine lines and wrinkles.  During the winter, you really can’t have too many face creams.  This cream is very light weight, but feels so velvety and lovely on the skin.  It’s got a very pleasant smell, almost like a cocoa butter, but a little more subtle.  I will definitely be saving this as a little treat for my face as we move into the really harsh weather months.

It’s not in the picture above, but I also received a Chuao ChocoPod in Honeycomb.  It’s not pictured because it was eaten roughly two minutes after opening my box, and it was wonderful.

So that is my November box.  This seems like another great month of products for Birchbox, and I am really excited that I  received a product that I’ve had my eye on for a while now, and in full size no less.  If you are interested in signing up for Birchbox, it is a $10/month subscription service.  You can pay monthly or pay for a full year up front.  Everyone gets 4-6 different samples each month, tailored to the beauty profile you fill out and you can review your samples to earn Birchbox points.  Birchbox has the best points system, hands down.  You get 10 points per review and 100 points  = $10 to spend in the Birchbox shop on full size products they sample.  It’s like they pay you $4-6 every month just for taking your box.  If you’re interested in learning more or signing up, you can click here for more details.

Happy November!

What I Liked in October


Yes, it is that time again – time for another monthly favorites!  Time feels like it is going by super fast, which is how time tends to go when you want it to slow down a little.  October has been good month, with a lot going on, so here are a few of my favorite things from the month. As usual, I am linking up with Leigh Kramer for What I’m Into.

fall colors // The leaves have been such gorgeous colors this year, and October is the best time to catch them.  Soon enough they’ll be completely gone.  I love seeing the streets lined with yellow, and orange, and my dog has been thoroughly enjoying picking a fallen leaf souvenir to bring home after every walk.  Looking back on living in Atlanta, I’m not sure we really got fall, or at least fall colors.  Some trees turn nicely, but for the most part the temperatures make it so the leaves essentially go from green to brown sometime in late November / early December.

books // Oh yes, my monthly favorites will always be full of books.  This month I’ve enjoyed The Empathy Exams (essays / memoir) by Leslie Jamison, Men we Reaped (memoir) by Jesmyn Ward, Neck Deep and Other Predicaments (essays) by Ander Monson, Leaving Time (fiction) by Jodi Picoult, and I’m Having So Much Fun Here Without You (fiction) by Courtney Maum.  I highly recommend all of these books.  I’m also currently on the hunt for some good reads for November.  Already on my must-get list are On Immunity: An Inoculation (essays/memoir) by Eula Biss and Being Mortal (essays) by Atul Gawande.  What have you enjoyed reading?

1989 // I am a Taylor Swift fan.  There.  I said it.  In all seriousness, I do like T-Swifts tunes.  Her albums are always catchy and fun to sing along with.  Her latest dropped at the end of the month and it has been on repeat pretty much ever since.

Halloween // For the first time since starting graduate school, I don’t have a class on Halloween.  Now, in my late (gulp) 20s, I am not one for dressing up and partying.  Instead, Mr. Man and I decided to have a scary movie marathon at home.  We watched Sinister, the original Halloween, and a couple of others.  Halloween is also a great excuse to carve up some pumpkins, which is a Halloween tradition I can get behind 100%.

family FaceTime // One of the awesome things about technology is video chatting, and my parents have recently upgraded their iMac so they can FaceTime with me.  I haven’t been home since April, so it is awesome to be able to see them every now and then, even when I can’t physically be in the same room with them.  This month, my younger cousin got home from being deployed with the US Army in Afghanistan for the second time, and I was able to FaceTime with him, which was an awesome treat.

best fiends // Stop what you’re doing, and, if you own an iPhone, go to the App Store and download a game called Best Fiends.  I have been absolutely addicted to this game all month.  It’s kind of like Bejeweled or Candy Crush, but with evolving bugs and evil slugs.  It’s equally fun and infuriating, and the best part is, it’s free.  You will not be sorry if you download this.

the grind // and no, not the daily grind.  The Grind is a coffee shop in the Lincoln Square neighborhood.  My thesis advisor introduced me to it, and we’ve been having our weekly meetings there.  It’s such a fun, relaxing space.  Everyone there has been so friendly, the coffee is ridiculously good, and the environment is very chill.  Finding The Grind makes me want to hunt down some more independent coffee shops in the area.

Those were just a few of my favorite things this month.  What did you like in October?