Birchbox, November 2014

This is actually my first beauty blog post in a very long time.  I don’t usually write about my beauty sample subscription obsession, but I realized I actually wanted to start.  I enjoy it!

Birchbox is probably my favorite beauty subscription box of the three that I get, and this month was an interesting one in support of HIV awareness (#shaRED).

Printed on the outside of the boxes was a factoid about HIV.  Mine said “Fact No. 3: Medication can reduce the risk of a mother passing HIV on to her baby to less than 5%.”  That’s a tremendous reduction in risk, and it represents a huge advance in our knowledge and understanding about HIV.  When I was a kid, people were afraid to shake hands with someone who was HIV positive.  Today, thanks to medical research, we understand a lot more about how to treat and manage HIV.  It has become a chronic illness that is manageable.

On to what’s in the box:


Product Reviews

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@Birchbox November goodies from my #shaRED box!

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  1. MAKE dual-phase eye makeup remover:  I’ve used this several times because I’m lazy and it’s still in my bedroom.  I saturate a cotton wipe, press to my eyes for 15 seconds, and start wiping off my eye makeup.  This does a good job, but I’m not sure it’s any better than my Neutrogena eye makeup remover.
  2. Laura Mercier eyeliner in violet.  I love Laura Mercier’s products, so I was really excited to get this sample, and it will probably last me years at the rate I use eyeliner.  Violet isn’t my normal color, but I have honestly worn it once and will be wearing it again today.  It applies well–requires a little more force than some I have, but prewarming it with your hand should eliminate that.
  3. Toni & Guy shine serum: I’ve tried this once.  I honestly couldn’t tell any difference, but I will probably try it again.
  4. Juice Beauty green apple peel:  Did it do anything?  I followed the directions and my skin felt tacky-sticky while it was on.  When I rinsed it off, I couldn’t tell any difference.  It’s supposed to be formulated for sensitive skin, and that’s definitely a good description of my skin, but this was perhaps TOO gentle.
  5. Platinumé Gold Hand Therapy: I find the name to be ostentatious.  I find the lotion to be very citrusy and it disappears into my skin pretty much instantly.  Feels wonderful.  Maybe it earned the name!
  6. Chuao chocolatier maple bacon: this was interesting!  It did not have a strip of bacon in it.  The bacon flavor was actually rather subtle; it came through as a sort of smoky saltiness.  Good, actually!

That’s a wrap for this month’s Birchbox products!


The lost decade in fashion…

I should probably revise that page title. I’m not interested in haute-couture, runway fashion. Therefore, clothing is a more appropriate descriptor.

Here’s the thing: I’m sick of most of my clothes. Some I’ve had since high school. Okay, so I may never get rid of that sweater; it’s soft and comfy and still looks good. I’ve never really thought of myself as a jeans-and-T-shirt kind of girl. If I had to define my favourite look, it would be dark jeans and a white oxford shirt. I don’t know why, I just love the way that looks. So there’s my “style.” I can’t wear jeans to work, though. They’re immensely more practical in a laboratory with bleach, and nasty acids, but that’s not something my current boss takes into account. I have two clothing options: business-wear (we do have a lot of flex), or scrubs. I loathe scrubs beyond all definition. And they’re not warm enough.

I’m starting to understand that I’ve matured; I’m grown-up. That’s silly to have to say, but I’m actually not a teenager anymore; I’m not a college student or grad student. It’s time I dressed more my age. The next big problem is that there’s little out there for “my age.” Too old for miniskirts, too young for frumpy muu-muus, where do 30-somethings fall? Talk about tween angst! I feel like I am between two worlds. I’ve looked at some stores that are supposed to be for adult women (not 20’s): Ann Taylor/LOFT/Chico’s; JC Penny, and others. Even my old standby of NY&Co doesn’t fit “me” anymore (and I’m not exactly meaning physically).  Most don’t fit my sense of who I am. It doesn’t help that most of the models look like 20-somethings. I don’t have wrinkles yet, or even fine lines, really. I do have some “character” lines in my forehead and the beginnings of some fine crinkles under my eyes. All totally normal for my age.  I have some grey hair, and I’m okay with that: I’ve earned them!!!
I’m finding I like the way my face has matured.  I think my body will come to match.  Now how do I dress that body?

I’ve watched TLC’s What Not to Wear and I love the show.  I don’t have a $5000 shopping spree in NYC at my disposal, and I don’t dress badly enough that I’m likely to end up on the show.  Although I would let Nick Arrojo do ANYTHING he wanted to my hair.  Period.  The man’s a genius.  I want to be more feminine.  I want to quit HIDING behind my clothing, something I’ve been doing since I was about 14.  My wardrobe has consisted of neutrals (with the occasional red, green, navy) for 20 years.  I am SICK of it.  Who am I?  I have earned a Ph.D.  I have more skills in more diverse areas than many people.  I can do a lot of things.  I won’t be at this current job forever; in fact, I don’t want to be there past the 2 year mark (or much past it).

Back to the point of this post, though.  I have been seeing an ad on our cable stations for a couple of weeks.  It caught my attention the first time I saw it and I’m still hooked by it.

This is ME.  This ad resonated with me so strongly I can’t describe it.  This is what I want to look like, what I want to FEEL like, through and through.  I know that the colour palette is still pretty black-white-grey-red, but the STYLE of the clothing, and the ATTITUDE of the clothing, is what grabbed me.  And it’s not letting go.  On the rest of the company’s site, they show 3 makeovers of women aged 34-37.  That’s MY age group.  That’s ME.  That’s… I think I’ve covered it.

At the same time I’m feeling completely obsessed by these clothes, I understand that I’ve promised myself no new clothing until I’ve reached my goal weight.  Most of my wardrobe is in okay condition–it can make it a few months yet.  And that stuff is expensive (by my standards).  I hope it’s better made than my current stock.  If I’ve learned one other thing from What Not to Wear, it’s that I need a good foundation, too.  Meaning undergarments.  So, I need to start from the inside out–and that part of my wardrobe is probably in the worst condition.

Hey, at least I already have rockin’ shoes!

Out of this frustration and my reaction to this ad and this year’s resolutions came a realisation.  2012 is shaping up to be a year of transformation for me.  It’s scary.  Possibly terrifying.  I have no idea where I will be at the end of this year relative to where I began it, but stick with me and find out!

Beauty Resolutions, Continued…

I’ve continued to do my hair and makeup. I’ve made progress in both arenas–
And, pursuant to my goals, I acquired makeup brushes. And more hairstyling products that may actually help.
Meanwhile, it’s a cold, wet, dreary day out. Usually, I love those days, and today isn’t much of an exception. I’m quite jealous that my parents are getting SNOW and I’m not.

I also picked up groceries for the week. I’ve been making a concerted effort to change my diet and exercise, and it’s paying off! Today I was wondering what on earth I would do for dinner. I opted to roast a chicken and some brussels sprouts (these are my LEAST favourite vegetables in the whole wide world, but I had some that I loved that were roasted, so I figured I would try it), and baking some potatoes. If it goes well I will post pics (AFTER THE JUMP)
Meanwhile, you may vicariously enjoy my shopping trip…

Roasted Chicken

Yummy Dinner