Archive for January, 2015


To my soul mates!

Do you believe in soul mates?

If you asked me a week ago, I’d probably respond with disdain because I was in a man-hating mood (long story, not for the internet).  In short, I felt like a soul mate will forever be outside my reality.  #foreveralone Dramatic, right?  Lol.  (Don’t judge me, I think we’ve all felt it at some point in life).

Anyway, in my man-hating frame of mind, I stumbled upon an article on the Hello Giggles website about how we all need platonic soul mates.  As soon as I read the word “soul mate” in the title, I promptly rolled my eyes and then clicked on the link to read the article.  I admit…  I totally didn’t read the title.  I just saw those words and assumed it was going to be some fluffy article about the “ONE” and I was truly ready to roll my eyes at least 20 more times while reading.

You know what?

It was a great article and it was the perfect time to stumble upon it.  As I read, I realized I have been fortunate to have a LOT of soul mates.  No, not the romantic kind of soul mate.  I understand now that my close friends are soul mates.  You know who you are.  Sometimes, we drive far distances just to meet halfway and talk in a parking lot late at night.  Sometimes, it’s a chance 15 minute encounter at a Blues Festival that somehow morphed into true friendship.  It’s found in those people you haven’t seen in months or years, but as soon as you get together, it’s like no time has passed at all.  It’s found in people who really know who you are, all your flaws, but love you all the same.  Those people are soul mates.  I understand that I had a very narrow view of what it meant to be a soul mate.  I admit it: I now believe in them.

I can get hung up on being single while all the rest of my friends are married with kids, but my heart is more at ease because I see how lucky I’ve been so far.  Whoever my romantic soul mate is, the standard has been set pretty damn high.  He’s going to have lots to live up to thanks to all my platonic soul mates.  🙂  Maybe that’s why he’s such a unicorn.  😀

Anyway, you should give the article a read and come to your own conclusions.  You’ll find it here.

Do you believe in soul mates?

Wow, so how’s that for a title?  I think it may be the longest title I’ve ever had on a blog post…  🙂

I really enjoyed writing that last review, so I decided to write another one.  I’ve never considered myself to be a beauty blogger, but the more I’m honest with myself, I like beauty products and being able to talk about them with others.  Isn’t that why we blog?  To find a way to connect with others who are passionate about similar things?  I genuinely enjoy reading/watching what other people have found on their journey and what works for them.  You know those “Best of 2014” videos that were flying around YouTube recently?  Love them.  I’ve watched so many of them during my time off and I am not ashamed.

So, this brand, Tatcha.  I’ve never heard of it before, but I learned about DSC_0414it from someone’s “Best of” list.  Tatcha was founded by Victoria Tsai.  She used to work for large corporations, but changed course after a visit to Japan.  These luxury products were inspired by geisha beauty rituals, following a mantra of “less is more.”  According to the Tatcha website, the ingredients are free of parabens, synthetic fragrances, mineral oil, sulfate detergents, phthalates, urea, DEA or TEA.  None of the products are tested on animals.  This company even supports education for young girls with an organization called Room to Read with every full-sized purchase!  The more I read about it, the more I respect the brand.  As an aside, the packaging is really pretty.  Holy schmoly, these photos don’t do it justice.  The bottles are plastic, but don’t feel cheap.  Another plus is that plastic is more travel friendly.

What about the products?  A company can be great, but it doesn’t matter if the products don’t deliver.  I purchased the cleansing oil and rice enzyme powder (they’re meant to be a duo) to see if it would counteract this giant colony of angry acne that developed on my chin upon my arrival in Chicago.  I left most of my makeup/toiletries in California because I was only supposed to be in Chicago for a week.  I think my skin was irritated from the flight, lack of sleep, stress, drastic temperature change, etc.  Usually, when my skin breaks out, it clears up within a few days.  This colony of acne frenemies stuck around for a week.  I was also starting to break out in areas I don’t typically have problems.  I was looking for something that would be a good makeup remover and cleanser, but would also soothe my irritated skin.  I also wanted a gentle exfoliant to help keep my skin looking fresh.  I’ve learned that if I don’t exfoliate with some regularity, my skin breaks out more.  Go figure.

The cleansing oil was a pleasant surprise.  It’s meant to be applied to your dry face with dry hands.  It took off my waterproof mascara like a champ without making my eyes burn!  After you work the oil into your skin, you dampen your hands and the oil becomes milky.  Once I rinse all the oil off, I pour some of the enzyme powder in my wet hand and apply all over my damp face.  The powder turns into this light “lather.”  It’s not bubbly or foamy like soap, but it’s not a powder anymore.  This all sounds like it takes a long time, but it really doesn’t.  My skin felt clean afterwards, but not dry.  Usually, the area around my lips gets crazy-dry after washing my face and if I don’t put some moisturizer on quickly, it’s uncomfortable.  With this system, I was able to take my time.  These two products work nicely together.

I’ve been using these products for a little over a week and my skin feels soothed.  My cluster of acne didn’t look so angry after my first use and went away within a day.  Nice!  I get the occasional blemish appearing, but it goes away within a day now, instead of lingering.

Here’s my take on this:  I really like the cleansing oil.  I think DSC_0416it’s a great product, even though it’s pricey ($48 for 5.1 fl. oz).  My philosophy is that skin care is worth investing in, though.  The product is made with natural ingredients, gentle, and effective on my skin.  I don’t feel like there’s oil residue all over my face after using it.  It takes off waterproof mascara without burning!  I only use this product at night (1 pump for light makeup, 2 for heavier application).  If I didn’t put on any makeup that day, I’ll only use the rice enzyme powder.

Speaking of the rice enzyme powder:  As an exfoliator, it’s pretty gentle.  I think I still need to use a stronger exfoliator throughout the week.  It’s really nice as a gentle cleanser.  It’s supposed to even skin tone, hyper pigmentation, and breakouts.  It’s definitely helping with the breakouts.  I’ll keep you posted on evening skin tone.  You don’t need much of it, maybe 1/2 teaspoon, give or take.  The price for this item is $65 2.1 oz.  I will let you know how long it takes for me to get through this jar.  I don’t recommend using this product in the shower because it’ll get ruined if water gets in the container, so if that’s your thing, you might need an alternative.

All in all, I really like the combination of these two products.  I’ll give you an update once I finish them up and let you know if I’ll repurchase.  You know, it’s one of those situations where I’m glad I found something that works, but my wallet is horrified.  Hopefully these items will last me a while and my wallet will have a little time to recover.  I bought my items at Sephora (per usual), but I hear you can also get these at QVC and also the Tatcha website.

How do you feel about cleansing oils?  Do you have a routine that works for your breakouts?  Any recommendations?  Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear what your thoughts are.

It’s been a long time since I did a beauty review!  If I’m correct, I only did one, but I definitely have drafts of other ones… I just never posted them, BUT it’s 2015 and I’m just going to do it!

Screen Shot 2015-01-25 at 2.32.50 PM

Anyway, do you remember when that show, The Blacklist, first came out?  I was on a mission to find the perfect pinky-berry lip, much like the main character of that show.  Her makeup was great, even as she was taking down bad guys.  I thought, hey, I don’t usually wear a shade like that, but maybe if I find a matte version, I would be more likely to wear it.  I don’t know why I thought that to be true, especially since I typically NEVER wear matte lip products.  Little did I know…

Remember the Guy Bourdain Nars collaboration from 2013?  I totally picked up a lip pencil set back then during a sale at Sephora.  I had heard so much hype about how awesome these lip pencils are and there was a great pinky-berry shade included in that set.  It was a steal, especially considering how pricey an individual lip pencil typically costs.  There were five lip pencils:  four of them were the velvet matte lip pencils (Cruella, Dolce Vita, Sex Machine, and Never Say Never) and one was a velvet gloss lip pencil (New Lover).  The Velvet Gloss lip pencil is not photographed because truthfully, I can’t find it.  It’s in one of my bags somewhere…

Nars Lip pencil swatches

According to the Sephora website, the velvet matte lip pencils are like a combination of lip pencil and lipstick.  They are supposed to be hydrating, super pigmented, long-lasting, and glide on.  The shades are described as follows:

  • Never Say Never: lilac rose, the shade I was looking for! I love it!
  • Sex Machine: pink mauve, has slight shimmer to it
  • Dolce Vita: dusty rose, a really nice, everyday shade, one of my favorites
  • Cruella: scarlet red, one of the most popular shades in this line

DSC_0417So, why am I posting about an old set I bought a year ago?  Well…  it’s because it’s taken me about that long to figure out how to wear these and actually like how it looks.  I’ve been experimenting with them during my time in Chicago because I left a lot of my makeup in California.  These lip pencils were definitely on my list of regretful purchases until recently.

My advice is, if you have dry, peeling skin on your lips, you may want to use a lip scrub.  Here’s a DIY recipe you can use, no need for super fancy stuff!  If my lips are doing okay, I’ll just put on some lip balm (Nivea’s A Kiss of Olive Oil & Lemon is my current one) and apply the Velvet Matte lip pencil.  I usually use the side of the pencil, not the very tip, to fill in my lips.  If my lips still look a little sad and dry, which happens, I will sometimes apply a tiny bit of Buxom gloss (in Sophia) pictured above to make things look a little more hydrated.

Now that I’m actually using these, I will say, they are rather long-lasting and unfussy after you put it on.  There are 14 different shades currently, so there’s plenty to choose from.  My favorite shades are Dolce Vita and Never Say Never, but maybe one of these days, I’ll be bold enough to rock a red lip.  Sex Machine is kind of meh…  it doesn’t inspire me to wear it, maybe because it’s a more cool toned pink with shimmer…  Meh.

The downsides:  unfortunately, you have to sharpen them.  Word to the wise – my generic pencil sharpener is not quite the same size/shape as these lip pencils, so it wastes even more product than sharpening already does.  I’ve read reviews saying you probably need to get the $6 NARS pencil sharpener…  You decide what’s more annoying to you: shelling out $6 for a sharpener, wasting product, or high-maintenance, expensive products to begin with.  :p  Another thing is you still have to re-apply these after meals.  This doesn’t really bother me though because I don’t expect lipsticks to survive after meals.  The biggest downside for me, however, is the price.  It’s $25 for a 0.09 oz pencil.  Wha?!  The good news, though, is you can find limited edition holiday sets.  The set I’m talking about is over and done with, but if you’re looking for a current Nars lip pencil gift set, you can check it out at Sephora at $49.  This one has two velvet mattes and three satin lip pencils and cool packaging. It’s a better deal if you know you like these lip pencils or if you want to try a bunch of shades without paying for them individually.

Me?  I’m just going to work on the ones I have until they run out.  The jury is still out on whether or not I’ll repurchase, but I’m glad I’ve been forced to find a way to use them.  What about you?  Have you been forced to revisit old items in your makeup collection?  Do you know of any dupes for these lip pencils?  Any tips or tricks to make them apply better?  Please leave suggestions in the comments below.  Thanks for reading!

* This is not a sponsored review.  These are my honest opinions and I bought these items with my own money.

Blank pages

Ah, a blank “page.”  It’s so clean and full of possibilities.  You can put whatever you want on it.  Maybe it’s just me, but there’s always that pressure to make that first mark count.  Sometimes the first stroke of a pen (or paintbrush or whatever media you use) directs what the following strokes are going to be.  That first stroke could very well determine the course of what will ultimately inhabit that page.  That’s commitment!  What if you don’t like what it’s become?  What if you make a mistake that “ruins” the whole thing?  Have you ever thought that way too or am I completely alone in this?  I think I’ve stopped myself from starting projects so many times because I was hesitant to make that first mark.  I guess that’s what you call “overthinking,” eh?

I hope I can balance out my thoughts with action.  Time to get to work.

Hey, did any of you actually click the link in my YouTube description box to get here?!  If you did, let me know!  If you didn’t, welcome and please let me know what brought you here.  I’m so curious!

So, when I first started posting YouTube videos last March, it was a way to share some of the recordings I had worked on over the years.  I used to post them to MySpace back in the day, but needless to say, that became… irrelevant.  Anyway, my first two songs were more “studio” based, but when talking to some close friends, they wanted to see something a little more raw…  Back in December, I posted the first of my One Take series here.  Granted, I never intended it to be a series, but it was really fun to do.  With studio based recordings, I can record takes over again and cut/paste accordingly.  With this series, it’s like performing live and I really love live performances.

This past Monday, I got a chance to record a song (or two) with my good friend, Tricia.  We used to sing together all the time for church and special events.  She’s got a powerful set of pipes!!  Not only that, but she’s got an awesome, irreverent sense of humor that I love.  We did a LOT of laughing that day.  😀  The other thing I love is that we can talk about stupid stuff, but also stuff that matters in life.  It’s always a joy to have that kind of friendship.

Why did I pick the song, “Take Me to Church” for this recording?  From a musical standpoint, the song is beautiful and emotional, filled with all these gorgeous minor chords that I am forever drawn to.  I guess I like angst-y songs?  Lyrically, my interpretation of the song is that it’s a scathing criticism of religion and how many individuals have taken advantage of others in the name of “religion.”  It also hints at the (ir)relevancy of the church in people’s lives (e.g. – “my church offers no absolutes”).  There was a pretty good read on why people are leaving church here.  I think songs like this are great because they show us how we can all do better at actually being loving, kind, present, and relevant, not only as individuals but collectively.

I hope you enjoy the video.  I’m sorry the audio isn’t that great.  Most of my gear (both recording and video) is in California still, so this was a pretty barebones setup.  Please let me know if there’s a song you’d like me to consider recording or if you’d like to collaborate!  Thanks for reading!

Trying something new!

My roommate and I did Tag video!  Neither of us have ever done one of these types of videos before, but it was super fun to do.  Amber made the background nice and cozy looking.  I got to do Amber’s makeup for the video.  I actually got to use my prime lens since I had a second person around to actually focus my lens.  I think every time I get to edit a video, I learn new skills too. I’ve been loving that, especially in light of all this new found free time I have.  Let it be known, I’m not just sitting around – I’m totally learning new things and new skills!

Here’s the link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqccoLgMQZc

Please like and subscribe if you enjoyed the video!

future ignotem

Future ignotem…  unknown future.

I’m stuck in limbo and it’s not a good feeling.

Remember how I packed up my car and moved to California for a travel job?  It was a great experience and I don’t regret it at all.  I am, however, dumbfounded that I have managed to finish my assignment and have nowhere new (or acceptable) to work.  I could rant on and on about that, but that’s not the point.  I am currently in limbo and it is so very unnerving.  I started asking myself questions like, “Did I make a mistake doing this travel gig?” and “Should I really stay out in California?”  Then, I start remembering how much this whole experience has helped me get a better perspective on how to be a good friend, daughter, and sister.  It showed me how cool people can be, even if they don’t really know you.  I needed the change in scenery to get out of my comfort zone and complacency in Chicago.  It’s a truly humbling experience to move somewhere where nobody knows you.  You become really thankful when someone cares and you don’t take it for granted.

So, will I give up and move back to Chicago?  Not yet.  I think I still have more to learn out in California.  I don’t know what that will entail, but then again, I don’t even know where I’m going next.  This too, is humbling.  I’ve always had a job since I’ve gotten my degree.  I work in a field that is in high demand.  I used to work at a prestigious rehab hospital.  I am a good worker and I’d like to think that I’m damn good at what I do.  At this moment, I am unemployed and in a way, I suppose it is by choice.  I could have started at a job in the middle of nowhere, but after much internal debate, I turned it down.  Should I have done that?  I think I made the right choice, but it prolongs this period of being in limbo.

People keep telling me that maybe God is trying to teach me something.  They’re probably right.  I don’t know exactly what that is, but I hope it gets through my thick skull.  All I know is, this is a time where I need to see what happens next.  Yes, I feel uncomfortable.  Yes, I’m worried.  I totally doubt myself with regularity these days.  BUT – all I can do is be diligent with what I can and trust that the right doors will open.

I don’t like feeling all this discomfort, but I think of these lyrics by Fiona Apple.  They resonate with me, especially the part that says, “I’m good at being uncomfortable so I can’t stop changing all the time.”  This unnerving, humbling time in my life will hopefully change me for the better.

Here are the rest of the lyrics for your reading pleasure…

Extraordinary Machine – Fiona Apple

I certainly haven’t been shopping for any new shoes and I certainly haven’t been spreading myself around.  I still only travel by foot and by foot it’s a slow climb, but I’m good at being uncomfortable so I can’t stop changing all the time.  I notice that my opponent is always on the go and won’t go slow so’s not to focus and I notice, he’ll hitch a ride with any guide as long as they go fast from whence he came, but he’s no good at being uncomfortable so he can’t stop staying exactly the same.  If there was a better way to go then it would find me.  I can’t help it, the road just rolls out behind me.  Be kind to me or treat me mean.  I’ll make the most of it, I’m an extraordinary machine.  I seem to you to seek a new disaster every day.  You deem me due to clean my view and be at peace and lay.  I mean to prove, I mean to move in my own way and say I’ve been getting along for long before you came into the play.  I am the baby of the family it happens, so, everybody cares and wears the sheeps’ clothes while they chaperone.  Curious, you looking down your nose at me while you appease, courteous to try and help, but let me set your mind at ease.  If there was a better way to go then it would find me.  I can’t help it, the road just rolls out behind me.  Be kind to me or treat me mean.  I’ll make the most of it, I’m an extraordinary machine.