April 30, 2013

Favorite Places to Shop

I'm a repeat-er. A boring, predictable, comfort-zone shopper. I go to the same places over and over and over, and I'm perfectly happy with it.

I rounded up my favorite places, and thought I'd share them with you.

I'm assuming you've heard of all of these places, other than Jeweliq. I discovered Jeweliq in Lucky Magazine a few months ago and it has become my favorite place for statement jewelry. 

Are you a repeat-er? Or do you like to spice it up every once in awhile?

Caroline G giveaway

Carrie, or should I say "care-bear", and I met at an event through our church a little over a year ago. I remember meeting her, only getting a few minutes to talk to her, connecting over blogging/online business, and setting up a date to chat more at Panera.

The first time we met, we both showed up at different Panera's and had to tweet at each other to find out where the other one was since we hadn't even exchanged phone numbers. #bloggerproblems

We immediately connected, and she has become a dear friend since. She also has become my personal supplier of trendy statement necklaces.

She frequently runs promotions on Facebook so I highly recommend liking the Facebook page to stay in the loop! Like her on Instagram too!

Today she's giving away a $100 store credit to THREE winners! Enter using the giveaway tool below!

If you just can't wait and have to shop now, use discount code "Small50" for 50% off your order in her shop!

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April 29, 2013

Wen : my experience and thoughts

The great Wen-speriment, or so I called it.

A question that I'm asked over and over again is "What do you think about Wen?". I'd answer based on my limited experience using it on a single client who brings her Wen with her to every appointment. And for her, it works very well. I've enjoyed the aroma of it, and the consistency. I understood the concept behind the product. 

Oftentimes we "over-shampoo" due to habit. Shampooing the hair is really only intended for cleaning off the scalp and hair, and usually we don't "dirty-up" our heads enough in 1 day to require a fresh shampoo. It's better for your hair to go a day or two between shampooing to allow your heads' natural ability to produce oil to operate. If you cannot go a day between shampooing, like me, just make sure you are using a great conditioner. And, even though conditioner is mainly needed from mid-shaft to ends, every once in awhile spread it from roots to tips to condition the entire hair shaft. 

I thought it would only be fair if I tried Wen myself in order to form an accurate opinion of it. So, I ordered it online a few weeks ago, and shortly thereafter a box containing the cleansing conditioner as well as a few other accessory products arrived. I also noted that upon my purchase of Wen online, I was automatically signed up to receive it every 90 days. I despise when companies automatically sign you up for a subscription service. I made a mental note to cancel the subscription when I was finished reviewing it. 

A little background: I would describe my hair as dry, damaged, and heavily colored. My scalp is dry, and I'm not sure I've ever seen a hint of oil at my roots. So, I assumed Wen would be quite perfect for my texture. I didn't have to worry about my hair being oily, since I've never struggled with that before.

Day 1: I washed my hair twice with Wen. I applied 16 pumps of the product all over my wet hair, ran my fingers through it to evenly distribute, and let it sit for a few minutes. Next I stuck my head under the shower to add a little water to it. Then I scrubbed the product around using the pads of my fingers to "clean" my scalp and roots. I rinsed well and then repeated. 

I applied Aquage Uplifting Foam, like usual, to my scalp. During the blow dry, I noticed that my ends seemed extra dry. This didn't' surprise me. I was focused on cleaning the product out of my scalp during the final rinse so I didn't leave enough behind to really smooth down my dry ends. A smoothing product would have remedied this, but I was letting Wen to all of the work. 

Once my hair was dry, I brushed through it a final time and thought, "Well, not bad." Other than my dry ends, everything looked fine. My hair cooperated when I styled it, and lasted throughout the day like always.

Day 2: I repeated the same process from Day 1, but didn't rinse quite as much product out in an effort to keep my ends hydrated.

I applied my root lifter, and began to blow my hair dry. I noticed that it felt a little bit like there was a layer of product on my hair, but nothing that was too terrible. I wasn't able to achieve as much volume that day when styling, and also noticed a bit of static electricity. Otherwise, everything else was pretty normal. Roots looked clean, ends were still slightly dry, and hair looked fine. 

Day 3: I repeated the same process from Day 1. My hair felt caked on with product in the shower, but I followed the steps and did only what I was instructed to do from the directions on the bottle.

I applied my root lifter and began to blow-dry. I noticed more "pull" than usually as I brushed through my hair. As if I was brushing through really heavy/knotty hair. I assumed it was due to the now 3 days of product that hadn't been "traditionally" cleaned off my scalp and hair. 

My hair was heavy, and while it didn't look oily, it felt like there was a layer of waxy residue all over it. I styled as usual and it went right into a ponytail. It was weighed down and I had to get it off my shoulders.

By the end of Day 3 my scalp became a bit itchy, and I was frustrated with the feeling of my hair. 

So, on Day 4, I relapsed into my old ways. I shampoo'd my hair with Purology Hydrate, and conditioned with the coordinating conditioner. It was luxurious. I felt like the models in the "Herbal Essences" commercials. I've never enjoyed shampooing my hair quite like I did that say.

I applied my root lifter, blew it dry, and my hair styled like a dream. 

So, what do I think of Wen

I'm not a fan. I don't think it's for everyone. I don't think it's a great product for those of us who use a few styling products on a daily basis. I found that it's quite heavy too. 

If you use it and like it, keep using it! I don't think you need to avoid it (it doesn't do bad things to your hair), I simply wasn't impressed with it. 

Some may argue that I didn't give it a long enough chance to work. While that may be true, it wasn't worth a few annoying and itchy hair/scalp days to push through it. Plus, that rate at which product was building up on my hair shaft was not enjoyable.

However, I do think it can be an option for women, or men, who have normal, slightly dry, or coarse hair without a ton of oil production at their roots. And also who don't use a lot of styling products in their hair. 

My client who faithfully brings her Wen product with her is a perfect example of a successful Wen user. 

If you want to try it, try it. If you are on the fence, I'd say don't bother. 

Be aware that you are automatically subscribed to receive product every 90 days if you buy online. You can also find Wen products at Sephora. Wen does offer a money back guarantee, and you can read all the details about that here. 

It's nearly impossible to figure out how to cancel your Wen subscription on the website. This is not a surprise to me. I canceled my subscription easily by accessing the "live chat" option at the bottom of the main webpage, and it was completely harmless. The live chat option is available 24/7.

Q & A (from my Facebook page)
1. Does it make your hair fall out?
I can't speak to this since it didn't happen to me, but I can't imagine that Wen makes your hair fall out. It's normal to loose some amount of hair on a daily basis and perhaps users who thought their hair was falling out just became more aware of otherwise normal hair loss.
2. Does it clean your hair?
Yes, but very lightly. The whole concept is that it won't overly clean your hair, and that users only need a gentle, conditioning cleanse. Your natural hair oil, or dryness, will determine how clean it feels to you.
3. Can I still go 2-3 days between shampooing when I use Wen?
You'll likely have a more difficult time going longer between shampoo's since your hair will not be squeaky clean to begin with, but the idea is that it will balance out your scalps oil production over time. 

*Wen has no idea who I am, I purchased this product for myself, and this review is simply my opinion. 

April 26, 2013

A slouchy tee : day to evening

We're in this strange phase of either 80 or 65 degrees here in North Carolina. Don't get me wrong, part of me is glad, since my love for wearing scarves can live on just a little bit longer.

More than ever I've been drawn to slightly slouchy, relaxed t-shirts that aren't super casual but aren't too dressy or blouse-like either. A perfect example of what I mean is what I'm wearing in this post. The material is "drapey" and comfortable, and it can be pretty versatile. I love the zippers at the shoulders, and the slouchy pocket.

This top (and the scarf shown below) came from Hot Mama (shopmama.com). Have you heard of that store? You might be thinking the same thing I was when I first heard about it-- "oh, cute maternity store name. . ." but you are wrong! It is not a maternity store. It's full of really cool, trendy and classic pieces that will live in your wardrobe for many seasons. Whenever I'm home, my mom, sister and I will pop into the Hot Mama in Naperville. I can't wait until they branch out down south!

I'm a big supporter of entrepreneurs, so I loved reading the story of how Hot Mama began

For running errands, I throw this top on with my favorite skinny ankle jeans and some mini-wedges.

top: c/o Hot Mama (I'm wearing a small)
mini wedges: Madewell (on sale)

If I have plans later that evening, I just switch out my shoes and throw on a scarf (if it's one of those 65 degree days), and if I *could* wear earrings I would put on some bright, summery ones. 

top: c/o Hot Mama (I'm wearing a Small)
peep toe wedges: Nine West (so comfortable)
scarf: c/o Hot Mama

Just two little subtle changes, and the outfit feels refreshed and a tiny bit more dressed up. Adding a layer, whether it be jewelry, a scarf, or a sweater, will instantly spice up even the most simple of outfits.

*nails: Essie's California Coral

April 24, 2013

April Favorites

I enjoyed filming my last favorites video so much that I decided to do another one.

And somehow I picked a day to film when I was feeling particularly chatty. If this is your first time watching me on video, you will quickly learn that I like to kid around and I clearly don't take myself too seriously.

If you've seen me on video before, this is old news

Laura Mercier Body and Bath Set in Fresh Fig. This is a really soft and pretty scent, and would make a fantastic gift.  The scrub is not too abrasive and makes your skin feel so smooth, and the creme is hydrating and non-greasy.
Caudalie Beauty Elixer. A bit of a splurge, in that it isn't the most practical of products, but I quite enjoy  spritzing it on after my shower in the morning. It's a toner, hydrator and refresher with a really nice scent.
Oscar Blandi Hair Lift. I used this product in this tutorial, and it has truly become an essential for me. It's a fantastic volumizer.
Oscar Blandi Dry Styling Heat Protect Spray. A weightless heat protector that can be used on wet or dry hair. Not my favorite smell of all time, but weightless and residue-free.
Living Proof Restore Discovery Kit. This line is hydrating, repairing, and conditioning without the heavy waxy residue that some other lines tend to leave behind. The deep conditioner is fantastic too.
Bare Escentuals Ready Luminizer. (it's still on sale!) I love this highlighting bronzy-product for adding a glow to my skin.
Bobbi Brown Corrector. (porcelain peach) This is my first Bobbi Brown product and I have to say that I'm quite impressed. It corrects my dark circles better than ever. It's thick, so a little goes a long way. 
MAKE blush in Limoges Pink. A bright summery pink that is highly pigmented and leaves a fresh color on the cheeks. Just a light dusting is enough. But it's really a pretty pink color. 
*I received this blush as a gift, but was not compensated for this review. Opinions are honest and my own.

April 23, 2013

Soft and Natural Eye Makeup Tutorial

Every once in awhile I like to lighten up my eye makeup and experiment more with fun lip colors (think coral, pink, etc). I've found a great mix of shadows that add definition and color to my eyes, without being to dark.

This is the first time I've purchased Urban Decay eyeshadows, and I have to say I'm quite impressed. There is absolutely no fall out during the application, and the colors are blend-able and smooth. Plus, the brand itself is cruelty-free (no animal testing), and a handful of their products are vegan (including both of the eyeshadows used in this tutorial), so I enjoy supporting a company that focuses on those things. 

I used Maybelline's color tattoo as my lid primer. I've heard great things about it so I wanted to try it out. It's fantastic either worn alone as a shadow, or used as a primer. 

*I have residual liner + mascara on since I had to squeeze this tutorial in after I had already done my makeup. So, if you are starting from the beginning, as you should, just follow the same steps but save liner + mascara for last.

Use your finger to apply lid primer/color tattoo.

Grab a fluffy eyeshadow brush and sweep Laced all over the lid.

Pick up an angled eyeshadow brush, or a less-fluffy brush, and press Tease into the outer corners and crease.

Grab a clean fluffy brush and sweep Alabaster across your brow bone, blending down towards your eyelid to soften the darker brown.

I like the tiny little brush that comes with Revlon's Gel Liner since you hold it so close to you eye. Use that, or whatever brush you prefer, and line your upper lashes.

Swipe mascara on both the top and bottom lashes and you are finished!

questions about brushes? see this post 
questions about my daily makeup routine? see this post

Another nice thing about starting the day with lighter shadow is that it's build-able if you are going out later that evening. All I would do to switch this look from day to night is add a little bit more liner to my lower lash line and swipe a darker charcoal shade across the lid (except for the inner corner). 

April 22, 2013

Just Bend The Ends Hair Tutorial

Sometimes just a soft bend in the ends is all you need to style your hair. The larger the curling iron, the softer the bend--so I chose a 2 inch barrel curling iron for this look.

I mention this in the video, but along with my usual Aquage Uplifting Foam product, I added Oscar Blandi Hair Lift Mousse to add fullness all over my hair (instead of just at the roots). I am so impressed with it. It's the best all over volumizer I have ever used. It isn't sticky, nor heavy. And it also helps your hair hold the shape for longer during the day. I can't say enough great things about it, and I highly recommend it if you are in the market for a volumizer. You can find it at Ulta or search the Oscar Blandi website for stores/salons near you.

This style will settle in and loosen up as you go about your day, so even if it looks "too" curly right after you finish, plan on it softening and loosening up. *here is the link to the soft swoop tutorial for styling your bangs like I did here.

I also did a short teasing lesson near minute 09:10. 

April 19, 2013

A thoughtful gift

Yesterday was my husband's birthday! He turned 31. And although we've been married nearly 4 years, and together for 7, yesterday was the first time I gave him a thoughtful, unique gift. I've always been a practical gift giver. Gift cards or functional/daily use types of gifts are fantastic and easy, but I've now seen how much more fun it is to give a thoughtful gift.

My husband was in the Air Force for about 4 years, and during that time he got some coins. Each coin represents different things/achievements. 

They used to be stored on top his dresser, before we were married, but as soon as I moved in they were pushed toward the back. And every time we would move, he would wonder where those coins were, since we never kept them in a special place. 

So, I started thinking about getting him a frame or something for the coins. And I wanted something that was unique. I searched Pinterest and came up with nothing. I searched on Etsy, and after clicking through a few pages, I came across this shop

And I saw this coin holder:

I loved it. I thought it was even better than a frame since the coins can be picked up and moved around. Plus, there is room for more if he ever wanted to get more. 

Mike, the shop owner, was fantastic to work with. His communication is great, and shipping is quick. 

I gave it to Justin last night, and he really liked it. He placed the coins in it and then placed it on our mantle. I asked him where he was going to actually keep it, and he mentioned that he might bring it to work.

That was the best answer I could have imagined! I was so happy that he liked it, and finally had a specific place to store and show off his coins. 

It was a simply low key birthday, but inspired me to be a little bit more creative with my gift giving. 

April 18, 2013

top humidity blockers

It doesn't take a lot of humidity to ruin a hairstyle. And hair can do many different things in humid climates. Most women struggle with frizz and unruly curls, while others (like me) struggle with limp and lifeless locks. 

These are some top humidity fighters that will help keep your style looking as good as possible. 

1. KMS Hair Stay. Completely weightless, it's an aeorosol spray that creates a "shield" from humidity. I spray this on after I finish setting my style. In other words, it's the last product I use.

2. Redken Real Control Slim Supreme. Also weightless, apply this product on damp hair, before blowdrying, and then glide a pump through dry, styled hair. It's great for providing a smooth finish and cutting down on frizziness.

3. Garnier Fructis Silk and Shine Anti-Humidity Hairspray. While I haven't used this personally, it received great reviews for a humidity-blocking hairspray. Use sparingly! Hairspray, in any form, plus humidity is never a great combo.

4. Redken Outshine. A smooth, thick creamy product that will tame dry, frizzy hair. Apply it midshaft to ends, and make sure to work it through evenly. Not great for fine hair.

5. Redken Sheer Straight. A great alternative to Outshine for fine hair. I love using this product on any texture of hair. It helps straighten your locks as your blow dry.

6. Aquage Finishing Spray. I reach for a lighter hold hairspray on humid days since I know my hair is going to "melt". The least amount possible will keep my hair from getting sticky.

7. Pureology Super Smooth Smoothing Cream. For exceptionally dry or unruly hair, grab this product. It's thick, and will really help smooth out even the coarsest texture. 

April 17, 2013

DIY gold foil moleskines

I can't get enough lilac, lavender, violet, purple or gold these days. Am I alone? Is everyone else on the emerald train? Am I alone over here in purple valley?

I've been considering doing a gold foil craft for many months. I first saw The Nester do a project with gold foil and I thought, "cool!", but I didn't want to do plates so I wrote it off. And then it hit me. 

"Can I gold foil a journal? And not just any journal, a Moleskine journal?"

So I tried it. And it went "medium well", like a perfect steak

Before you begin this craft, read the next paragraph.

Gold foil is lighter than air. If you even so much as breathe around it, it will fly everywhere. It's delicate and thin. So, if you are heavy handed, impatient, detail oriented, or high strung, this is not the craft for you. If you don't mind a little "creative detailing" aka mistakes, or messing with gold flecks while you craft, go ahead and try it.

I bought this kit at Michaels, along with adhesive and an aerosol sealing spray (cannot find online, ask at Michaels or a craft store near you).

First, prep your journals with the adhesive. Follow instructions on jar. 

Next, "pick up" the foil by pressing a piece of wax paper against in, and then place on the journal.

Use a soft brush to smooth the gold onto the journal. 

Once the gold is adheared, use the brush to smooth away the extra foil on the edges. It's not going to be perfect. It's okay.

Finish with a sealer, and enjoy your new journals! 

April 16, 2013

a simple navy dress (+ a giveaway)

dress: Target, shoes: Gap outlet (old), similar, jewelry: Lisa Leonard

I've talked about my love for dresses with sleeves enough that this dress shouldn't be a surprise to you. It also shouldn't surprise you that it's from Target. It's comfortable, casual and with a little accessorizing can be a simple outfit for any day of the week.

Since the moment I received this necklace in the mail, I've been wearing it almost daily. It's delicate, long, and the pink quartz seem to go with just about everything I own. I've also been loving the simplicity of the gold chevron necklace. Perfect for layering or wearing by itself. 

Both of the necklaces I'm wearing above are from Lisa Leonard, and today you have the chance to win a $50.00 gift card! Lisa Leonard is giving away TWO $50.00 gift cards, and all you need to do is enter using the giveaway tool below. 
(psst, be sure to check out the Mother's Day line while you are shopping!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

April 15, 2013

a little bow hair tutorial

I've seen a few different versions of this little bow hairstyle on Pinterest, but I like it most on half up hair. You avoid the "minnie mouse" look that may happen if you wear your hair all up in a bow. 

The longer your hair is, the easier time you'll have making the bow. However, mine is mid-length with a lot of layering, so a few bobby pins were all I needed to keep everything in control.

You can start with any texture of hair, straight or curly. All you need are a few bobby pins and a clear elastic or two. I only use 1 clear elastic, but if your hair is heavy or you need a stronger "hold", use two elastics. 

top: j. crew factory (similar shape/material), nails: neo whimsical, lips: Albeit in Peony

April 12, 2013

Birchbox Home : from the garden

I have to admit, I was fairly skeptical when I saw the name of this limited edition Birchbox Home box. I loved the last one so much, but the "from the garden" aspect of this new box made me think it was going to be potting soil and shovels.

I don't garden, so my fear was I wouldn't appreciate anything that was inside. But man was I wrong. It's garden/nature inspired for sure, but I loved it. And it's really a fantastic gift for Mother's Day--so keep that in mind. Flowers die, but the products in this box will be enjoyed by your mom/whomever you give the box to, for much longer. 

* that Tocca hand cream smells divine. You can also find it at Anthropolgie for about $20, but if you consider that this box is only $32 and you get so much more? I'd buy it just for the hand cream. 

The mint candle is fresh, summery and light. Plus, it comes with matches.

As with the other Birchbox Home box, it's beautifully packaged, and truly a nice gift to receive. I'm throwing that Baggu bag in my car, perfect for groceries or the thousands of other items that collect over time.

(I was not compensated for this post. I did recieve the box as a gift. All opinions are honest and my own.)