Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Le Métier de Beauté January VIP Box: Mixed Feelings

Mixed Feelings is not the name of the January Le Métier de Beauté (LMdB) VIP subscription box, but it does reflect how I'm feeling.  I'm baffled as to why we got two more lipsticks, having just received two lipsticks in last month's box. I'm equally baffled as to why we are getting yet another similarly hued pink. One's plenty, really.
As the card indicates, Emerge and Burnished are exclusive to the VIP program in both color and formula. There is some online chatter from subscribers who are unhappy about not receiving products from LMdB's core line, as they feel VIP subscribers may be getting products that are not up to par in comparison to in store LMdB offerings, either in color choice or formula (or both).

I have no idea if that's true or not, but I suppose it's possible this subscription has jumped the shark. I hope I'm wrong, and we do have another 6 months to show otherwise. As to my impressions regarding Burnished and Emerge....they're only okay.  Emerge is a bit on the chalky side and Burnished is definitely frosty/metallic, hence why I'm guessing they suggest layering the two.
Emerge benefits from having a gloss on top to smooth out the pigment which wants to bunch up a bit (another description for chalky?).  The two layered together looks pretty when topped with By Terry's Rose de Baume, which is my go to for difficult lipsticks.  Everything looks good with Rose de Baume on top, seriously.  
Emerge + Burnished + Rose de Baume
So there ya go, mixed feelings. Three of the 6 months thus far have featured either lipstick or lipgloss.  The only product received for year 3 VIP subscription that is part of LMdB's regular product line was the foundation brush (which I like, BTW).  Last up, comparison swatches of December's lipsticks with this month's.  Fembot is the better of the two pinks formula wise, IMO.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Julep Tote-Ally Awesome Mystery Box: Fun Looks Good on Everyone

Disclaimer:  I purchased this.
Julep offered 3 different mystery boxes this month, each with a different tote bag and no overlap of products beyond the two promised polishes Posey and Andie. I was in the mood for a surprise and chose the "Fun Looks Good on Everyone" option. Let's see what I got!
I was fortunate to get only one repeat polish, the Metamorphic topcoat Tyra, which I passed on to my mother. Andie's colors interest me the most, followed by Janice and Bianca. I'm just so so about Posey, as I feel like I already have so many lilac/lavender cream polishes that don't get worn.
What does have me excited is the Gel Glider eye pencil in Forest Green Shimmer ($16). I love Julep's eye pencils and think they are a top of the line formula, and that's coming from someone who has quite the collection of eye liners. Like more than I want to admit to.
This color is gorgeous, and it glides on easily but once it sets, it's not going anywhere. Love!
I haven't tried any of Juleps Light on Your Lips lipsticks, and Stepping Out ($22) is a good color for me, so I'm happy with this item as well.
The formula looks promising and I'll report back once I've had a chance to wear it a few times.
Stepping Out
Overall, I think this was a really good mystery box!  While I certainly don't need another tote, I do use them to transport my breakfast/lunch and various other times to and fro during the week. Not counting the tote, full retail value would have been $108 for this mystery box.  I believe $120 worth of items were promised, which means they are valuing the tote at $12.  Plus, I redeemed my coupon for a free It's Whipped in XOXO, so let's add that to the pile.  
I'm curious to see what was in the other two boxes, waiting on reviews.....

Monday, January 25, 2016

Hello 2016: January Birchbox

Disclaimer:  I purchased this.
New Year, new Birchbox. This one felt particularly heavy when I pulled it out the mail box, and I've got to say the contents did not disappoint, for the most part. Let's take a closer look.
I was particularly pleased with the size of all the items, which even included one full sized product - the eyeko Fat Liquid eyeliner in black ($16).
A few reviews I read online made it sound like this eyeliner is particularly easy to use, but I'm not sure I noticed any advantage over my skinnier liquid liners. I've already got several favorite black liquid eyeliners such as Kat von D's Trooper and Lorac's Front of the Line Pro in black, and this one wasn't quite at their level.  It's not as pigmented nor does it apply as smoothly, so I'm not sure I'll be reaching for it much.
Next is a lovely coral red mini polish from Ciate London called Access All Areas ($5.55).  I'll be breaking this out once it gets warm.  Trying to remember if I've worn a Ciate polish before, and I do not believe I have.
Super happy with the size of the shampoo and conditioner samples (~$2) from the Beautiful Nutrition Grapefruit Detox Shine Repair line. These are supposed to help with product buildup and hard water, and should be a better for my hair option than the dish washing liquid I usually use for that purpose (although that does the trick). This is the item I'm most excited about for some reason.  Happy to see it's also sulfate-free.
Last up is the RESIST Wrinkle-Repair Retinol Serum from Paula's Choice ($9.46). I'm in need of a good retinol product and this sample should be large enough for me to form a solid impression. The formula contains a stabilized version of retinol as well as antioxidants and skin soothers, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed to see a difference in my skin.
Also included in January's box were some inspirational word stickers, which I added to my office door collection of similar objects. Sometimes I need to mentally prepare before I walk out that door :-)
Total value of January's box was $33.01, but even better I'm pretty excited about the shampoo/conditioner/retinol serum.  Way to start the year off, Birchbox!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Healthy Eating in 2016: Oatmeal to Go

One of the resolutions that I (and probably 1.6 billion other people) made for 2016 is to eat more healthy. For me, that means more home cooked meals with a focus on vegetables, fruits, selected whole grains, and less animal-based protein choices. With that in mind, I'll be posting some of the meals that worked for me and have been incorporated into my routine.
Steel-cut (or Irish) oatmeal is a breakfast item I've been eating for years. I learned about the benefits of steel-cut oatmeal when I was following The Zone Diet, which taught me that cooked oatmeal is a food-based source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). GLA is an essential fatty acid helpful in reducing inflammation in the body. Now that we know inflammation contributes to multiple disease processes, anything that lessens it is a good thing, IMO. Of course, there are multiple other benefits from oats, such as helping to stabilize blood sugar, lower cholesterol, enhance immune response, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (source).  But remember: steel-cut over instant oatmeal, always.
However, steel-cut oatmeal takes a good 20 minutes to cook, which means I frequently only eat it on the weekend when I've got a more leisurely morning schedule. I recently cleaned out my kitchen cabinets and rediscovered some small ball jars that are perfect for on the go servings, which prompted me to take oatmeal with me during my more rushed weekday mornings.

Here's how I make my oatmeal:
1-1/4 cup water
1/4 cup steel cut oats (I get Bob's Red Mill Steel Cut Oats from Big Lots)
frozen blueberries
1 scoop protein powder (currently using Genisoy protein powder)
1/2 cup almond milk
1/4 cup walnuts
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
sprinkle of brown sugar (optional)

After cooking the oats for 20 minutes or so, I put in the almond milk, protein powder, blueberries, walnuts and cinnamon and cook for another few minutes. I function better with protein at each meal and fat is needed to absorb fat soluble Vitamins A, D, E and K, so I always include some as well.  Plus, it helps me stay full longer. If I don't have nuts on hand I will add a bit of avocado oil.
The oatmeal can be cooking while I'm getting ready and then I just put it in the ball jar and hit the road.  Since it's a glass container, heating it up in the microwave at work is quick and easy if I have an early meeting and can't eat it first thing.  There are also lots of crock-pot based oatmeal recipes that you can make that will give you servings for an entire week, making it even easier for a fast breakfast on the go. So, on those weekday mornings where I'm craving something hot and hardy, I'm all set!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Pantone Serenity Color of the Year and Zoey by Julep

I know this picture is looking all kinds of Eastery, but it was taken just a few weeks back when Lantana was blooming in my yard. Cause it's been weirdly warm until the last 10 days or so, when it finally feels like winter.
But maybe you need some flowers and if nothing else, Zoey from Julep could be a good choice of nail polish if you like one of Pantone's colors of the year - Serenity.
Source:  Pantone Color
Or, maybe you're screaming Serenity now!  Either way....Zoey's calming blue is a nice choice.  It was a little on the thick side and with careful application you could probably do one coat. I did two with Julep's Oxygen Bonding base coat and Oxygen Performance top coats, which are supposed to allow more oxygen to reach your nails. My nails have been flaking so I'm interested to see if these help. I got about 4 days of chip free wear, which is pretty good.
I'm always drawn to these blues shades about this time of year for some reason.  I think it's a combination of the colder weather and overcast days but not wanting to go the dark and dreary color route.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Yogi Surprise Jewelry Subscription for January: Intention Inspired

Disclaimer:  I purchased this.
January marks my third month of receiving the jewelry subscription box from Yogi Surprise, and I'm really enjoying the pieces they have sent thus far. Each month with this subscription you will receive 2 handmade pieces of jewelry and 1 organic treat.  The jewelry is made in Bali from fair trade materials and the treat is usually some type of organic chocolate, which you'll never hear me complaining about.
In the short time I've subscribed I've received 3 necklaces and 3 bracelets, although I believe an anklet has been sent before.  January's offering are a silver-toned and amethyst necklace and a gold-toned and turquoise bracelet, each with a lotus flower dangling charm.
I mainly wear silver these days, so this delicate beaded amethyst and lotus flower necklace is a welcome addition to my collection.  It's a longer necklace and hits about where my bra ends. The necklace actually goes nicely with last month's bracelet, as it also had amethyst beads in it's woven design.  I didn't do a post on that box for some reason, but a picture of the bracelet is below the necklace.
This month's bracelet is a lovely turquoise with gold squares.  I love turquoise and wear it often, and while silver is my metal of choice, I'll just stack this one with my silver and turquoise bracelets for a nice mixed metal look.
The treat this month was a dark chocolate and peppermint/nutmeg bar ($5.99). The makers of this chocolate were volunteers in the Peace Corp in Madagascar and fell in love with the country/people, leading to the development of their brand Madécasse. You can read more about their history here. As for the chocolate bar? It was very good :-)
Yogi Surprise has two monthly subscription boxes, with the jewelry one priced at $24.99/month with free shipping.  So far, so good!