Monday, December 31, 2012

December 2012 Wrap Up, The Year in Review, & Looking Ahead

The month and year is drawing to a close and all in all, December was a great way to end 2012. A majority of the beginning of the month was occupied with school related thoughts but a few fun things here and there made it all bearable. 

I met up with Julie for a super yummy hot pot lunch and then a day of shopping. I'm usually not a fan of hot pot outside of the comforts of my own home but this new place she brought me was super good! The soup base was really tasty and it was nice getting to know each other better over a steaming bowl of food. 

I finally got around to replacing my point and shoot which had stopped working on me a few months ago. I settled on the Canon ELPH 110 HS because the price was decent and I had good experience with my old ELPH 300 HS. I originally wanted the light pink camera but after delaying my purchase for a few days it sold out and black was the only color left. To be honest I prefer the 300 over the 110 but the 300 is discontinued now. In the space between not having a point and shoot I've been so accustomed to using my phone (Instagram) instead that I forget to use my new toy at all....

One of my professors offered free tickets to see a production of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men and I gladly accepted the opportunity to watch a live show. I wish I made more of an effort to experience more theater and performances but my excuses often involve money or time restraints. The play was done very well and it definitely relieved some of the tension and stress from school and other deadlines. 

If you read my December 2011 Wrap Up post, you might have remembered that I went to Z100's JingleBall Concert for my internship and highly enjoyed the experience. Although I moved onto a different internship, my old supervisor asked if I would like to work the show again and of course I said yes! The line up for this year was more up my alley and I feel very fortunate to have been able to help out again at the concert.

When I wasn't running around doing this or that I quickly snapped a few photos. Although I am by no means an avid fangirl, it was definitely exciting to see Taylor Swift in real life. I walked by her a few times and she is incredibly tall. I also walked by a few members of One Direction, Ed Sheeran (who has an amazing voice), Lindsay Lohan, and Alexa Chung. I'm not really one to get starstruck as it's not professional but it never hurts to see some celebrities up close.

The weekend before my birthday, one of my best high school friends ate dinner with me at Joe's Shanghai. I was very thankful that she some time out of her busy week right before finals to spend some time with me. Joe's Shanghai is always packed whether it be for lunch or dinner as their xiao long bao (soup dumplings) are very popular. I really love their crab meat soup dumplings but the rest of their food is just average. I ate here a second time after Christmas with my boyfriend's family as well so I think I've had my fill of xiao long  bao for awhile!

My birthday was on the 12th, yup, 12/12/12! I turned 20 years old and honestly I thought it would be a pretty plain day since it was a Wednesday. I did my normal routine of going to class, interning and then heading home. My "cousins", who are actually childhood friends that I grew up with, surprised me at home and it really cheered me up. I was totally not expecting anything special to happen that day and it meant a lot to me that they took the trouble to make their way to my house to celebrate with me. 

The next day I was surprised with a box of Sprinkles cupcakes from my internship which was another really amazing gift. It was my first time trying sprinkles and although there was too much icing for my liking, the cake was delicious! I can now declare Sprinkles trumps Magnolia and Crumbs!

After successfully completing various finals and end of semester presentations I finished my first semester of Junior year. College is really flying by (thankfully) and I cannot wait to graduate. While most people seem to celebrate the end of a term with parties, I'd much rather snuggle up with a good book and some hot chocolate. I much prefer hot chocolate over coffee or tea and I actually hate marshmallows in my drinks. The above photo is of my cousin's mug as I already drank my cocoa and ruined the photo opportunity.... 

Amid all of the pre-holiday errands, I convinced my boyfriend to be a tourist with me and visit the Rockefeller Center christmas tree. The plaza was less chaotic than I had imagined but the tree was over decorated in my opinion. The multi-colored lights made the whole thing look a bit garish but the mood was definitely festive. The photo above was taken with my new point and shoot and the quality is abysmal for some reason. Clearly I need to tinker around with the settings a bit more. 

Finally, the holiday that everybody looks forward to came around. Every year Christmas is about the same for me, consisting of two separate family get-togethers on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. There's nothing more to ask for as long as you're surrounded by good company and tasty food!

I received a few Starbucks giftcards for Christmas so I finally took the plunge and tried the pumpkin spice latte which everybody raves about. I normally avoid Starbucks because it's expensive and I don't drink coffee. The pumpkin spice was tasty but a bit rich for my liking so I might try it with fat free milk and without the whipped cream as per Julie's recommendation. Perhaps ordering some new drinks out of my normal comfort zone will lead to finding a favorite from Starbucks!

I chose not to take many photos during all the meals and festivities leading up to and following Christmas as I just wanted to keep some memories to myself. There are many things in my life that do not appear on the blog for various reasons and I think that's something I've wrestled with for awhile. I want to maintain a level of privacy but I also want to be honest and have a casual place to share my thoughts with whoever chances upon this blog. 

Looking back on 2012, my mood and outlook on life fluctuated quite a bit throughout the year. I finally came to realize how my anxious, Type A personality was negatively affecting myself as a person and my relationships. I struggle constantly with unreasonable worries and I have heard time and time again that I need to calm down. I would like to think I have improved somewhat in the past few months but I will continue to seek a middle path that will allow me to be motivated and driven without being overly tense and hostile in the upcoming year. 

Health-wise, I want to improve my stamina, strength and flexibility. I have been doing some basic yoga poses every morning for the past week or so and I intend to continue this routine into 2013. I want to try new foods and vary my meals so that I don't get bored with rotating the same few choices everyday. I don't have any diets or weight targets in mind because my goal is a long term, lifestyle change rather than a temporary spurt of productivity. 

In general, I hope to be a healthier person in terms of both body and mind. Having one without the other will still leave a lot to be desired. Exciting things are to come in 2013 and my blog will reflect many of the life changes that will happen. For one, this is the last monthly wrap up post that I will be doing for at least a few months. Instead of giving you all a cursory run down of things I've seen, eaten and done throughout the month, I will be doing more frequent posts about my happenings. I hope that I can consistently blog in the next year and that you readers will like the outcome!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Lush Winter Wishes: Zingy Freshness for the New Year

A few of my lovely cousins gifted me the Lush Winter Wishes gift box this Christmas which included four fun bath and body products that I will be enjoying this season. Winter Wishes retails for $29.95 and is part of the annual post-Christmas buy one get one free sale so you might be able to score this set in store (as it is sold out online).

In the set you can find a mini Ponche Shower Gel which is limited edition and a first for me. Ponche smells a bit fruity and the texture of the gel is more liquidy than I expected as it is my first shower gel from Lush. You also get a full size Sugar Scrub which I have used before and while it is not an outstanding product in my opinion, it gets the job done. There is an ample slice of Snow Globe Soap which smells strongly of citrus and is great for waking you up during a morning shower. I picked up some Snow Globe Soap last year during the sale so if you only want this soap, definitely check out your local Lush! Lastly is a mini Each Peach Massage Bar which smells heavenly. I have tried a few massage bars in the past and while the formula is moisturizing and rich, the scents I've tried were never up my alley. Each Peach is fabulous though and I'm happy to report that it is a product you can get year round! I'm surprised it's taken me so long to discover it!

Lush's wrapped gifts make perfect presents for the Lushies in your life and I am over the moon with the Winter Wishes gift box. The scents are all complementary as they mostly have a citrus undertone to them. What are your favorite holiday Lush treats? Did you get any pampering bath and body gifts this year?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Essie Wrapped in Rubies: A Classic Red For Every Collection

During a quick stop at CVS weeks ago, 25% off coupon in hand, my eyes gravitated toward a deep red with the finest golden shimmer and I impulsively bought it. Upon returning home I was struck with buyer's remorse and the first two days of wearing Essie's Wrapped in Rubies made me doubt my purchase. But after day three the glowy burgundy red was definitely growing on me. Now I can rest assured that my purchase was not in vain and it will definitely be a staple for holidays to come. Wrapped in Rubies is actually quite an old color, debuting with the Winter 2007 collection. If you can find this shade and love dark wine shades, I highly recommend this!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Happy Haulidays: A Gigantic Collective Haul!

Happy belated holidays! Hope everyone had a lovely Christmas spent with family, friends and lots of good food! I spent my Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with family and friends as I do every year and boy, am I spent. I really feel like I'm 20 going on 50 sometimes! That being said, it's a good kind of exhaustion and I'm ready to get back into the regular pace of things.

This post features a somewhat hefty number of beauty bits that I've been hauling since November and right up until Christmas. I did receive some Christmas gifts that were beauty related but will be posted sometime in January. Since I have so many products to introduce to the blog, I'm simply going to list the names of the products I picked up. Watch the video at the end of the video to hear more about each product and why I bought them!

From Birchbox (with my points so I only spent $8.11 including tax!):
- Caudalie Favorites Set (Instant Foaming Cleanser, Deep Cleansing Exfoliator (full size!), Beauty Elixir, Hand and Nail Cream)
- Samples Pack (free): No. 4 Reconstructing Hair Masque & (MALIN+GOETZ) Cleanser

From Sephora: 
- Fresh Sugar Kisses Birthday Gift
- Dior Addict Lipstick in Dior Kiss
- Becca Beach Tint Duo in Fig and Watermelon
- Nars Pencil Sharpener
- Shiseido Facial Cotton
- Samples: Shiseido Purifying Cleansing Foam, Ouidad Climate Control Heat and Humidity Gel, Hello Kitty Eau de Parfum, Kat Von D Saint Eau de Parfum

From Origins:
- Pinch Your Cheeks Blush Tints in Raspberry and Coralberry

Birthday gifts from a very good friend:
- L'Occitane Pivoine Flora Shower Gel and Beauty Milk
- L'Occitane Almande Shower Oil
- L'Occitane Essential Water Toner
- L'Occitane Bonne Mere Lavendar Soap
- Ahava Essential Day Moisturizer + Ahava Samples
- EOS Honeysuckle Lipbalm
- ORLY Nail Polish in Nite Owl

From CVS:
- Milani 3D Holographic Nail Polishes (All Shades)
- Essie Wrapped in Rubies
- Revlon Grow Luscious Eyeliner in Emerald
- Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream in Light
- Maybelline Colorsensational Lipgloss in Mirrored Mauve
- L'Oreal Shine Caresse Lipglosses in Endless Red and Coral Tattoo

If you want to hear more about the products and get a better look at them, watch the video below!

What beauty bits have you acquired recently? Did you receive any beauty goodies for the holidays?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Recent Favorites // December 2012

It's about time for me to round up a few of the stand out products I have either recently acquired or rediscovered. This time around it seems the theme is no-fuss and painstakingly easy because I have not had the time nor energy to do anything crazy with my beauty routine.

ModelCo FIBRE LASHXTEND Lengthening Mascara - Despite the very bold name, this mascara fails to create much drama for my eyelashes. I received this full sized mascara in my November Birchbox and was ecstatic to try my first fiber mascara but it proved to do little more than add only the tiniest bit of length and not a bit of curl. Initially I was highly disappointed and was about to condemn the mascara to the pile of other rubbish mascaras I have lying about but a light bulb went off and I wondered if this would look any good on my eyebrows. My epiphany was a success (in my book anyway) and I love using this mascara as an eyebrow gel of sorts. The formula and fibers add density and length to my brows while combing them into neat little arches. My brows look incredibly natural and it is a lot easier to brush on some eyebrows as opposed to carefully drawing them in as I used to do.

Dr. Jart Water Fuse BB Cream - This is another Birchbox sample that just keeps on giving. I reviewed this more in depth a few weeks ago and have been using it somewhat consistently since. I have found that I prefer the finish of this when applied with a dense flat top brush. This BB cream looks quite natural after it sets into the skin and it gives a healthy glow to the skin that does not look shimmery or shiny, just glowy.

Benefit Erase Paste Concealer - An oldie but a goodie is all I really have to say about Erase Paste. I actually featured it in my very first favorites post way back in September 2010! Wow, it really goes to show how long makeup lasts me.... In short, Erase Paste conceals dark circles fabulously if you moisturize your skin well beforehand and warm up the product between your ring fingers prior to application. I have yet to try the Bobbi Brown Corrector but I can imagine it being similar to this.

Maybelline Dream Mousse Concealer - Apologies for including a product that has been discontinued for sometime but I only bought it when it was 75% off at CVS during the last (or was it last, last) beauty clearance sale. I had read positive reviews about it but could not test it out properly for the few months after I bought it since the shade I bought was way too light. Now that I'm a bit paler this is my go-to concealer for covering acne scars and discoloration. When I do not want the feeling of a BB cream, tinted moisturizer or foundation all over my skin, I conceal under my eyes with Erase Paste and dab this Maybelline concealer on specific spots. The coverage is medium and the product blends seamlessly into my skin although it can be a little drying if over applied.

theBalm Stainiac in Beauty Queen - I have been loving this product for quite a while as a lip tint but only recently learned how to apply it to the cheeks thanks to Julie (aka LilLadyLife). On the lips, this tint is extremely comfortable and non-drying and it lasts for hours on end. To get the full effect throughout the day I apply it straight from the tube and reapply about three times in total. I never have to wear balm with this no matter how many layers I apply. On the cheeks it adds a beautiful, natural flush that makes my cheekbones look more prominent and my complexion looks more vibrant.

Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15 in Sugar and Rose - These are the birthday minis that I only got hold of recently since my birthday was the 12th of December. Although these normally cost a pretty penny these are incredibly luxurious, moisturizing lip balms and I have been wearing them almost everyday since I got them. The texture is quite thick and definitely balm-like but not in a waxy way like Burt's Bees. The Rose version is only slightly pigmented so it adds a sheer pop of strawberry red to my lips when I am sporting just the simplest of looks. I currently want to own the entire range of shades although my wallet would rather not....

Cargo Lipgloss in Morocco - Cargo is definitely an underrated brand that gets a bit of blog time now and again but consistently falls off the radar despite having quality products. This lipgloss has received a mention before in the My Top 5: Lipglosses post back in January. The color looks quite dark but applies sheer and adds the most gorgeous shimmer to my lips. The gloss is smooth and not sticky at all which makes it a dream to wear.

Juicy Couture Eau de Parfum - This favorite is a bit of a shocker to me because I have tried several Juicy Couture scents and found all of them to be quite nauseating and childish. I received this sample as part of a Sephora offer and was pleasantly surprised that I could not stop smelling myself (in the least weird way possible) when I tried it on. The scent lasted a long time on me but honestly I think all fragrances last the entire day on me. I typically am very picky with fragrances and most smell the same to me but there's something about this one that I just enjoy.

Check out the video below to hear a bit more about each product!

Have you tried any of the products I mentioned? What products have you been loving lately?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

New In: L'Oreal Shine Caresse Lipgloss in Endless Red

Due to my excitement, I cannot possibly wait to do a "proper" haul before showing you swatches and my preliminary thoughts on the new L'Oreal Shine Caresse Lipglosses. I spotted a separate display for these glosses at my local CVS and pounced on two bright shades, Endless Red and Coral Tattoo. In this post I will only be focusing on Endless Red as it seems most appropriate for the holiday season but swatches of Coral Tattoo will be following shortly.

These new drugstore glosses are supposedly dupes for the famous YSL Glossy Stains which I've had on my wishlist for ages but the high end price tag has scared me away. It is interesting to note that L'Oreal owns the beauty division of YSL. At CVS the L'Oreal glosses retail for $10.49 which is quite pricey for a drugstore offering. After using a few coupons I picked up each gloss for about $7 and got $3 extrabucks back for my purchase. Still, $7 is a lot better than $32 for a lip color and the quality of L'Oreal's gloss is nothing to scoff at. Each tube contains .21 fluid ounces of product which is standard.

The tube is sleek and made a reflective golden packaging that attracts fingerprints like no other. The packaging feels very lightweight and there is no indicator of how much product you have left in the tube. The applicator wand is unique in that it resembles a bent leaf. The applicator picks up just the right amount of product for one layer of gloss and makes applying a breeze. There is a faint scent to the lipgloss that I cannot quite put my finger on. It smells like pears to me and neither adds to nor detracts from my feelings about the product.

Above is one layer of the glossy stain applied to bare, unmoisturized lips. Endless Red is a blue toned red that will look flattering on a variety of skin tones. The blue tone makes my skin and teeth appear brighter which is a huge plus. The color is definitely bold and almost opaque. For a regular gloss, this might even be considered high coverage.

Then I went ahead and applied a second coat as most people suggest for the YSL Glossy Stains. The second layer of gloss did not disturb the first layer at all and really amplified the color and shine of the lip. The coverage is like that of a liquid lipstick without the heavy or sticky feeling. This gloss is simply a dream to wear.

Above is what my lips looked like after eating breakfast, an hour after initial application. The color is still there although the glossiness wore off to an extent. In real life the color looks less patchy and more like a lipstick. Continuing to wear the gloss, the red seemed to turn a bit darker as the glossiness subsided but the color was still vibrant. I did a blot test on the back of my hand and amazingly, only a tiny bit of glossy residue transferred to my hand but absolutely no red pigment! With this gloss, you can eat, drink and kiss with no worries of losing your lip color or staining anything (or anybody)! There is still a noticeable shine and moist look to my lips after two hours of wear and my lips are very comfortable. Three hours later and the color resembles a sheer to medium lipstick.

Endless Red is a beautiful red, especially for this time of year, that is low maintenance and easy to wear. A lot of people seem to be intimidated by a red lip due to fears of smudging and bleeding lines but this gloss makes a bold, glossy lip incredibly easy to rock. I know I will be sporting Endless Red a lot in the weeks to come!

L'Oreal did an outstanding job with the Shine Caresse line and really show the potential of drugstore beauty. Although I have not tried the YSL Glossy Stains, I don't really feel the need to anymore. The L'Oreal Shine Caresse Lipglosses are perfect for you if you want a highly pigmented, lightweight gloss without a hint of stickyness. Are you excited about the release of the L'Oreal Shine Caresse Lipglosses? What shades are you looking forward to the most?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Bumble and Bumble Haul: Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals

The past few weeks have been much more hectic than I anticipated and I failed to prepare posts in case I had no time to photograph, film or write. Toss in one too many rainy days and you have a quiet blog. The school semester is almost over and my internship is drawing to a close so posting will be much more frequent and consistent in a few days! What better way to get back into the blogging loop than with a haul?

Hair care is a relatively new frontier of beauty that I have only recently gotten interested in. Bumble and Bumble were running some pretty amazing sample and free shipping offers for Black Friday and Cyber Monday and I had been keen on trying some of their products after seeing quite some buzz regarding their Surf Spray and Sunday Shampoo. I placed two separate orders to take advantage of the deal and purchased the travel sizes of their Prep and Styling Creme. In total I paid $15.24 (tax included) and the retail value of all the samples I received came out to be more than $45!

I am very pleased with the promotion and what I was about to score for relatively little. However, there were some issues with the orders. When my first shipment came in, the hairspray sample was missing. Luckily Bumble and Bumble have a pretty awesome customer service team and they were able to ship the missing sample to me free of charge. The second order was backordered as they were out of stock on the Styling Creme. It took about two and a half weeks for the Styling Creme to ship but the customer service team was quite good about sending emails updating customers about the situation and how samples would be shipped separately from the order. Sure enough, the samples arrived exactly three weeks after the original order was placed. Overall, Bumble and Bumble impressed me with their follow-up response to not having enough product to ship and I am excited to test out all of the products in earnest.

Check out the video below to hear a bit more about the products I bought and received with my orders!

For the rest of year Bumble and Bumble is offering free shipping and samples with any order so if you've been waiting to try out some of their hair care, now's the time to get on it!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Milani Cyberspace: An Out of This World Blue

The Milani 3D Holographic nail lacquers have been on my beauty wishlist for as long as I found out about them but for some reason the $5.50 price tag was always hard to stomach. The retail price is not expensive at all but I simply dislike paying full price for drugstore makeup and the measly buy one get one 50% off Milani deals were never too enticing. But CVS marked down the entire range of the Milani holographic polishes by 75% making each polish only a buck and some change. Let's just say I went a bit mad and hauled all six shades in the lineup.... Shout out to Mandy who was kind enough to find a silver one for me since my local CVS was out of stock on that shade!

The formula on these polishes is decent. The polish is very thin and watery so the layers are sheer but highly buildable. In the photos above I have three coats on each nail but on my other hand (not pictured) I did four coats and the extra coat darkened the polish and brought out a bit more of the holographic effect. The shimmers are very fine and not chunky at all. Once the polishes dry they lose a bit of sheen so it is important to finish off with a top coat (which I always do anyway). The holographic effect could be better and more vibrant but for the price, I am satisfied. Removal was incredibly easy and there was no fuss like with many glitter polishes.

I highly recommend checking out your CVS to see if they have anymore of these polishes up for grabs. I will definitely be sporting the gold and silver holographics during the holidays and New Years so watch out for those swatches as well! Are you a fan of glitzy nails or do you prefer more demure polishes? Have you ever tried a holographic nail polish?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

First Impressions: Josie Maran Bear Naked Nail Wipes

One of the Sephora $10 value deals for Black Friday was the Josie Maran Bear Naked Set which included full sizes of their face wipes and nail wipes. Honestly, I had no reason to buy the set but I wanted to try some more Josie Maran products and the nail wipes alone regularly retail for $9. A portion of the proceeds from all Josie Maran Bear Naked products go to support the Polar Bear SOS initiative which seems like a nice bonus if you happen to like these wipes. I wish Josie Maran would specify the amount donated because it could be insignificant for all the consumer knows.

The Josie Maran Bear Naked Nail Wipes come in a small, portable screw top plastic container that is very handy for traveling. There are 20 wipes included and each wipe is very thin but quite sturdy. The pads are saturated in a non-acetone formula that smells like grapefruit. Argan oil is also included to nourish the cuticles and nails. Each pad is supposed to remove polish from 10 nails which made me a little skeptic to be honest.

Although each pad is very thin and not seemingly wet with formula, the oily residue surprisingly was able to keep on going to remove nail polish from 10 fingers! So the claims were all on point. However, it was somewhat tedious of a process since it took quite a while for the solution to penetrate through the polish. I found that placing the cotton securely on top of the nail and letting it sit for about 20 to 30 seconds and then rubbing the nail worked best. As I was removing the polish, the oils made my fingers very slippery which made the removal process more difficult as I progressed.

If you're interested in seeing how these wipes perform, check out the video below where I demonstrate how I use the wipes. 

Would do you use to remove your nail polish? Do you think you would be a fan of the Josie Maran Bear Naked Nail Wipes?

All Wrapped Up Birchbox: December 2012

My Birchbox arrived very early this month by surprising me on the eighth even though I had not received a shipment notification. It was a nice surprise not knowing the contents on my box for once because I usually receive my box after the 10th and by then the products are on my Birchbox homepage already. In the spirit of the holidays this month's box is all decked out in hot pink and gold and my does it look pretty!

I am happy with this month's box and there are some solid products, a few which I have tried before and a few totally new to me. There is a tiny sample of theBalm's Mary-Lou Manizer highlighter which I already own the full size of, thanks to Birchbox since I won a Birchblogger challenge a few months back. The highlighter is very pigmented and beautiful and the sample size is about that of an eyeshadow which his handy for tucking into your purse. The Amika Nourishing Mask (for hair) was never a product I really wanted to try before but upon receiving it in my box I could not wait to test it out. The packette is enough for me to use three to four times which is very reasonable for just a sample. I have already tried it out once and my hair felt incredibly smooth afterwards so I give it two thumbs up! There is a little vial of Aerie's Shimmer Fragrance which is honestly not too intriguing but I've been into collecting perfume samples again so this is just another one to add to my pile. The last beauty product is the Lashem Measurable Difference Lash Gel Serum which is meant to give you denser lashes. I am incredibly excited about this addition as I have been intrigued by RapidLash after LilLadyLife's review but not yet ready to shell out for it. The only con is that the tube is minuscule and I doubt I will be able to use it long enough to see results. The lifestyle extra was a piece of Chuao Chocolate in Salted Chocolate Crunch. I tried other flavors of Chuao chocolates at the Birchbox Sample Stop but this flavor was new to me. Unfortunately I am not a fan of this particular flavor as dark chocolate is not up my alley. If you have yourself a sweet and savory tooth, Chuao might be great for you! There was also a $50 giftcard towards a $125 rental from which was a nice gesture. However, I have no events to attend and thus will not be taking advantage of the offer.

As per usual, a look at the little note from the editors that is included with the products. The Birchbox prints are super simple yet appealing and refreshing.

Another rundown of the products I received to help you better understand the concept behind each product and the price ranges for each. The Lashem product is quite pricey so I hope I might seem even a hint of lusher lashes by using the sample.

What did you get in your December Birchbox? Have you tried any of the products I received?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Influenster Cosmo Voxbox 2012

For once I'm showing you all a beauty and lifestyle box that isn't Birchbox but the Influenster Cosmo Voxbox isn't quite like your typical box subscription service. Influenster is aimed at social media-savvy influencers who are "experts" in various fields such as beauty, fashion, pop culture, and more. By completing tasks and doing reviews you can increase your Influenster score. The site also takes into account your web clout and your score reflects how many readers and followers you have. If you have a high enough score, you can be selected to be sent a free Voxbox based on what field you are most fit for.

I only recently joined, just to see what the site was all about and, lo and behold, I qualified for their Cosmo Voxbox which features an assortment of beauty and lifestyle products.

The contents of the box range include a Ghirardelli chocolate bar (so excited to try this with the boyfriend because I am not allowing myself to eat the whole thing), a Venus razor as well as an extra blade cartridge, a mini of the new Bath & Body Works perfume, and two erasable pens. I have yet to test everything out besides the perfume and erasable pens but I am extremely impressed with the pens. They write with an inky consistency but once they are dry, you can easily erase them completely.

All of these products are new to me and I am looking forward to trying them out. Everything but the perfume is right up my alley and I think Influenster is a nice way to gain a few perks if you already have a blog and social media presence. Have you heard of Influenster? What do you think of the Voxbox program?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

CVS Beauty Clearance: 75% Off Milani Holographic Polishes

Run, don't walk, to your local CVS because their semi-annual beauty clearance is back! For those of you who have not heard of the CVS beauty clearance, it's a great time to peruse the drugstore for items marked down 75% to 50%. For a list of products that are discounted, check out Nouveau Cheap who always has the most comprehensive database.

Not too many products caught my eye this time around but I snagged a few of the Milani Holographic Nail Polishes which I have been wanting for years. The normal retail price is $5.50, which is not too bad, but I was waiting for a great opportunity to pick these up and this was it! These are 75% off now and I paid a total of $4.47 (tax included) for all three. I might have to go back and pick up the pink and green shades as well because the price is just too good. Between this morning when I took the above photo and now as I write this post, I have acquired the pink and green polishes as well! There is also a silver polish but my CVS was out of stock on that shade (boo).

You can bet on seeing swatches of all of these on the blog in short time as these are perfect for holiday parties and New Years! Are you excited for the CVS beauty clearance? What great finds have you scored in past sales?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Zoya Wednesday: Summer Wishing

Normally I tuck the teal and sea foam blue nail polishes away at the end of August and wait until spring to bring them out again. Wednesday is an exception only because it was one of polishes in my Zoya haul and I cannot bring myself to wait a couple of months to try it out. Even if this polish has no place in your holiday manicure line up, it's the perfect color for a day at the beach!

Wednesday is a cream turquoise that applies like a dream. Two coats can give you opaque coverage like other Zoya creams I have tried but I often do three just to make everything even. In my experience, Zoya cream formulas apply very well and it is easy to paint on the nail without getting polish on your skin. I can do all ten of my nails in under 30 minutes from start to finish.

What do you think about Zoya's Wednesday? What are some of your favorite teal nail polishes and would you wear them this time of year?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Stila Merry & Bright: Best $10 Bargain of the Holidays

Stila is one of those brands that I have always known since I ventured into beauty blogging but I've never really doled out the money to try out their products and formulate a solid opinion of them. In my eyes, Stila is somewhat overpriced as their packaging and product designs appeal to the young child in me while they charge high end price tags. So when Sephora had a limited edition (nope, you cannot get this anymore folks) for Black Friday and offered an eyeshadow and convertible color palette with a lip glaze, I pounced on the offer.

Stila does a variety of eyeshadow and cream blush palettes around the $10 mark which is great for makeup beginners and people who do their makeup on the go. The snowflake layout of the eyeshadows is a nice touch and the colors are all very complementary. I really love how half the shades are the three basic matte shades that everyone needs: a cream, mid-tone brown and black. The three shimmery shades are a pink champagne, a orange bronze and a dark brown.

The shadows are decently pigmented and last for twelve hours over an eyeshadow primer. These are not the most high quality, buttery eyeshadows I have ever owned (Urban Decay and Inglot win there) but they are above average. Call me crazy but these shades look almost exactly like some of the shades from the In The Light Palette, also by Stila. I had a samples placard from one of my Birchboxes and loved the entire palette so this version is perfect for me. Those of you who own the In The Light Palette, can you confirm these shades may be spot on dupes?

The convertible color, Lilium, makes this palette worth every penny. Lilium is part of the permanent range of convertible color, a multi-tasking product meant for lips and cheeks. The color is a beautiful muted yellow pink and the formula is incredibly creamy and easy to blend. I applied this with a blush brush to the apples of my cheeks and it stayed put for a 12 hour day with only a bit of fading. I now want to own several more shades of this product and if you fancy yourself a cream blush, definitely check this one out!

The palette itself was already worth $10 to me but I'm not going to say no to a free lip glaze. The shade Kitten is an amber base loaded with golden shimmers. The shimmers are not too big but I can feel the flecks when I press my lips together. Application is a breeze with the brush tip pen although it can be difficult to determine how many twists you need the first time you use it.

At first I did not think I would fancy Kitten on my lips at all because of the heavy dose of glitter but the sparkles look lovely in sunlight. My lips were very shiny, glossy and full without looking too garish due to the sheer base color. I imagine this lip glaze would be perfect for holiday parties to complement warm toned makeup looks. The formula is not too sticky to the point where it feels uncomfortable but sticky enough to last around three to four hours.

The only fault I can find in the Merry & Bright set is the fact that is it limited edition and you can no longer purchase this. Thankfully I stuck around the Sephora website for 40 minutes while it was crashing to purchase this. It was worth it! Did you manage to grab this awesome deal? What are your favorite products from Stila?

Friday, November 30, 2012

November 2012 Wrap Up

Can it be the end of November already?! The year is almost at an end and November was a relatively good month just as we approach December, my favorite month of the year. In the past the brisk weather was more of a downer but aside from the first week or so, the weather was quite agreeable. This was the month that a lot of exciting things were coming together and while the preparation was (and still is) stressful and troublesome, I am looking forward to the upcoming months. I know I am being quite vague but in the next few weeks and months you will get a better idea of what I mean!

So about that weather.... Days after Hurricane Sandy, we experienced a sudden cold front with a decent amount of snow. Thankfully the snow melted pretty quickly and the streets weren't completely slushy. Snow is great only when I have nowhere I have to be and I can avoid public transportation.

There are still quite a few trees that are in the process of changing colors which always makes for a beautiful scene. I make it a point to try to walk through Madison Square Park on my way to class because I love seeing all the tiny critters and being enveloped in fresh foliage. Not to mention Shake Shack smells pretty darn good.

The Madison Square Park squirrels are incredibly friendly and one of them thought I had food so he or she (let's just assume it's a boy) proceeded to climb onto my boot. I already had my phone out snapping photos of another squirrel so I quickly took this shot before shaking my boot to get the hungry little guy off. Even after I had gently shaken him off, he continued to stare at me from about a foot away, waiting for scraps. If you drop food accidentally, the squirrels and pigeons of the park will not be afraid to swarm you. Consider yourself warned.

I don't know about the squirrels in your neighborhood but these squirrels are definitely packing the pounds! I saw some tourists hand feeding the squirrels and sneakily took a picture. As much as I would like to feed the little critters, as a child I was taught in school that squirrels have extremely sharp teeth. I would rather just watch them from afar and keep the tips of my fingers intact.

For the longest time I never found the Empire State Building to be attractive at all. The Chrysler Building is a lot easier on the eyes in my opinion. However, the Empire State in various colors is really breathtaking and definitely eye catching. The building was red, white and blue for awhile during and after the national election. 

Although I try not to eat at the same restaurant too many times for fear of getting bored of the food, Bare Burger is a go-to for my friends and I. The prices are reasonable, service is always good and the food is delicious! The pesto red pepper burger is my favorite and it will probably be my burger of choice whenever I go to Bare Burger. 

This November my boyfriend and I celebrated our third year anniversary and we took advantage of the brilliant weather by going to Central Park and having a mini photo-op session. Despite having lived in New York City pretty much my entire life, I have yet to explore every nook and cranny of Central Park and each time it feels like a new park. 

While there were a few downed trees, most of the large ones were intact and still as majestic as ever. Everyone who visits the city must spend a few hours walking about Central Park! After we walked around quite aimlessly, we worked up an appetite and headed to a Greek restaurant I found on Yelp. 

Kefi, at 505 Columbus Avenue, is a two floor restaurant that fills up very quickly once dinner time is in high gear. We arrived somewhat early without a reservation and we were seated without a problem. Most of the patrons come in groups of four or more so the atmosphere is very festive and cheery. The decor is authentic and evokes a sense of intimacy between guests and food. 

Above are the appetizers we chose, the kalamari and selection of spreads for two with pita. We always order kalamari no matter where we go and Kefi's was tasty but nothing amazing. The spreads were fun to try and come in (from top right clockwise) "caviar", yogurt, eggplant and chickpea. The flavors were mostly salty and slightly tangy which we both really liked. The pita was warm and soft, making for great finger food. 

For our first entree we chose the sheep milk ravioli which was incredibly savory. The serving size is quite small but the creaminess of the filling makes the dish heavy and satisfying. I would highly recommend this dish and have read amazing things about the sheep milk dumplings as well. 

For our second entree we chose the lamb chops over spinach rice which I had read quite a lot about on Yelp. For some reason this dish is not listed on their menu at all but the server should verbally suggest it when you are first seated. My boyfriend loves lamb while I am lukewarm to the very strong lamb taste. The porkchops are quite small but very tender and succulent. They were seasoned just right and cooked enough to give off a rich, smokey flavor. The spinach rice was creamy, buttery and had a subdued flavor that complemented the lamb. 

We were both very happy with our dinner at Kefi and would gladly return. The prices are reasonable and our waiter was very polite and attentive (if anything, he was overly attentive and would check on us every 15 minutes). If you are in the Upper West Side area, I highly recommend a meal at Kefi. 

Gobble gobble! Thanksgiving evening was spent at home as my parents always cook a huge meal for close relatives and family friends. This year my mom decided to serve mainly non-Asian food as we usually have a mix of Asian classics as well as American fare. 

I feel quite bad to have not helped with anything but my Mom prefers that I stay out of the kitchen as she thinks I will only cause more trouble.... Oh well. The potatoes were especially delicious and I was so busy eating that it totally escaped me to take some shots of the other dishes.... Whoops. 

Following the hearty Thanksgiving meal I slept in until almost 10 A.M the next morning. I rarely ever find good deals in stores during Black Friday and the whole day is more hype than actual savings. My boyfriend and I visited one of our favorite date spots, the Queens County Farm, instead. There were a lot of animals this time around including about a dozen goats, a dozen miniature horses (Lil' Sebastians! I hope at least one person gets this reference...), two alpacas and more. We then drove around Long Island a bit and randomly found a theater that was playing Wreck it Ralph. I am not a huge cartoon person (the boyfriend is a different story altogether) but I cannot remember the last time I laughed as much during a movie. I think I was laughing and smiling throughout 85% of the movie and the other 15% I was on the verge of tears or being scared. It's a great film for both kids and adults and I give it two big thumbs up!

Looking back, November was a really good month and I am very thankful for so many aspects of my life. I hope that my good fortune and positive outlook will continue throughout December so 2012 can be closed out on good terms. How was your month? What were some of your November highlights?