Life in Mascara: May 2016

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

HAVING A REAL LUMINOUS MOMENT AT SEPHORA


It has been a moment since I went wild at Sephora. It's not that I haven't wanted to. I mean, does anyone ever not want to? For me it was more that I did not really need anything and decided to really dig in and use my stash. Plus I felt my finances couldn't really take a hit at this time. So instead I opted to start putting money aside each paycheck until I was ready to pick up a few things. The day came and oh was it rewarding!

I wont be able to go into any kind of review on these products since I just picked them up but I will as I start using them. Apparently I had a theme going on as I picked up a lot of luminous products. I am hoping they make my dry skin look and feel more hydrated. 

I have heard so many good things about the Becca Backlight Primeing Filter that I am dying to try it. New in at Sephora was the Becca Aqua Luminous Perfecting Foundation. I want to try these two products together but wonder if instead of giving a radiant appearance I would just come out looking greasy. I guess we will just need to try and see. 

I also picked up the Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressend in Moonstone. I have raved before about how much I love this shade in the liquid formula and really enjoyed mixing it with my Bobbie Brown Skin Foundation. Now I can try its powder version as a highlight and even as an eye shadow. 

Another powder that I had been wanting to try is the Hourglass Ambient Strobe Lighting Powder in Brilliant. This is the "yellow" shade of the four shades available. I am a HUGE fan of the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Diffused Light to set my under eye area and my t-zone. Their powders are so sheer and light reflecting and really make your face look ethereal. I am wanting to try the strobe powder along my jawline not necessarily to bake, but to bring more dimension to the face without it being stark white. 

I'm pretty pale these days and felt like all my bronzers were a bit too strong. And while that might change with summer just around the corner, I still wanted something a bit cooler than what I have. I picked up a cult favorite in Too Faced Soleil Matte Bronzer in Milk Chocolate. I am a bit concerned about using it since it is very perfumed but I have not come across any negative reviews. I am willing to give it a go. 

Finally I picked up these two Sephora Collection lip glosses in Perfect Nude and Rose Petal. Any item that I have purchased from the Sephora Collection line has always exceeded my expectations. And since I had a real lip gloss clean out, I was in need of some new ones in classic shades.

Let me know if you have tried any of these items. I am eager to try them all out!

Friday, May 27, 2016

VACATION PLANNING ON A BUDGET


With the end of the school year just a couple of weeks away, my mind is in full vacation mode. Whether you like to travel solo, with friends/spouse, or a full on family affair, things can get a little bit pricey. But it doesn't always have to be this way. Here are a few tips on how you can plan that much needed away time while still being friendly to your wallet:

1. Groupon- Once you have decided where it is you are going to be heading off to on you vacation, look into Groupon. Change your city search to your destination and see what is available. There are hundreds of cities listed so chances are you will find the one you are looking for. Remember to read the find print such as how many must be in the party, expiration date, and lunch versus dinner. This will also help you find different restaurant options and tour events.

2. Entertainment BookThese books are normally sold as a fundraiser in schools but you can also purchase them off the website. What these books are is an overload of deals to local restaurants (they are sold by city), movie theaters, entertainment centers, bowling, among other things. They either offer a great discount or have some kind of BOGO. Either way this is a great way to save on outings and to get you to try new places as well.

3. City Website- Take a look and see what is happening in the community the days that you will be in town. Most city events are free or have a minimal charge and are family friendly.

4. Flexible dates- If you are in the early stages of planning your vacation and you are able to go at any time, take a look at the airlines flexible dates calendar. I have been able to save a pretty penny simply by changing my day of departure/arrival and my flight time as well.

5. Hotel: Lux versus Economy- Some people like to splurge on hotels as part of the vacation experience. Others could care less. For me it must meet these requirements: safe, clean (especially the bathroom), and remotely close to where I want to be. Otherwise you can end up spending more money on transportation to get to your actual destination. 

Take for example our trips to New York. We have stayed at The Roosevelt and at a place in Soho. While we loved our experience of being right in the center of the city and enjoyed the hotels ritzy bar, we also loved staying at a modern hotel in Soho with all the eclectic places around it. Yes we had to commute more but since we mostly did the subway, we didn't actually feel it. We ended up planning all our evening events in Soho so as to take the subway as close to our hotel as possible and then walk the few blocks over while there was still light out. 

So again, it comes down to preference. But if saving is the end goal, then look into staying at a place that will provide for your needs but will not break the bank. Chances are you will only be there to shower and sleep and no one really needs much for that.

6. Public Transportation- If you are fortunate enough to be  traveling to a city where public transportation is the norm, I suggest that you take full advantage of that. Save on a rental and parking fees because odds are there will be plenty of those if you are traveling to a place that relies primarily on public transportation. Subway, Lyft, Uber, buses, and taxis. Use them all. Look into downloading an app for the cities public systems. That way you know the schedule ahead of time. 

7. Shopping: Don't Do It- Ever shopped so much while on vacation that you had to shove everything in your bag just so it would close? Then you prayed to all the vacation gods that your luggage wouldn't be over the 50 lb limit? While the thrill of being on vacation will make you want to be spending money left and right buying all these keepsakes, you probably will not get any use out of them. You might even end up throwing them away. Instead, opt for one (yes one!) item that you will use primarily in your home many times. That way when you pull out that lovely item you will be reminded of the time you spent away. 

I hope this gets you geared up to planning your next getaway! I know I can't wait to get on that airplane!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

WHAT ELSE DID I READ THIS MONTH: MAY


Another month, another installment of 'What else did I read this month'. Let's take a look, shall we?

1. D is for Deadbeat- Another installment in the Kinsey Millhone series, Millhone has to deal with her client's dead body being found only a few days after hiring her. But the thing is, he has a very shady past and the list of people who want him dead seems to be growing by the minute. And to add to this she still has to finish the job that he hired her for, delivering a check to one of her clients victims who wants nothing to do with him.

2. E is for Evidence- In this part of the Kinsey Millhone series, Millhone is hired by her former employee to do a freelance job in insurance fraud inspection. Little does she know she is being set up to take the blame for the fire that took down the warehouse she was sent to investigate. Things get dark when she is seriously injured and her friend is killed. Millhone now must find out who is behind all of this. 

3. Eleanor & Park- Let me begin by saying that my soul was not ready for this book. All the feels guys. ALL OF THEM! The book takes place in 1986 in high school where two unlikely matched people meet. It is the story of a first love written just as a first love is: simple and with little fuss. I actually emailed my friend about it and said:

"Think The Fault in Our Stars without cancer, dying, the stupid poetry reading, and the give me my life back moments. But more like domestic abuse, intense bullying, body image, and comic books."

Clearly neither her nor I were big fans of The Fault in Our Stars. Please no one take offense to that. It just wasn't realistic to us. Anyways, this book will make you remember your first love and all the angst you felt during that time. It made me smile while I was reading. I even hugged it. I can't explain it. It has been a long time since I was moved in this way by a book. I think it was because it took me back to a time in my life that I remember with so much affection. A time I felt was cut short because I moved states and I was absolutely gutted at leaving my friends and my heart behind. 

What else did you read this month? Any book that I should add to my list?

Monday, May 23, 2016

DRY EYE RELIEF


Around the end of February, I started noticing some red bumps on my eye lids and my under eyes. I figured it was an allergic reaction and would soon go away. They did and in their absence, extreme dry skin to the point of flaking appeared. It can be a bit tender and red and while my regular doctor had no cause for concern I still went ahead and made an appointment with my dermatologist. Three months later, I am still pending that appointment as we both had to reschedule it once each. In the meantime, here is how I am treating it.

I went ahead and switched up my face oil to something more intense. I went back to my tried and true Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil. I am going in with a couple drops in the morning and a generous amount at night. I am careful not to get it in my eyes but I do rub it into my eyebrows, brow bone, and under eye area as well as my entire face and neck. I then apply Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil all over my eye lids and under eyes. I added this step weeks into my routine and noticed a stronger improvement in my dryness right away. I actually credit the coconut oil for almost healing it. I do this only at night as it can be a little greasy but give it a bit and it does sink into the skin. I actually put a tablespoon full in a little pot and keep it with my skincare items in the bathroom. This way I am not tempted to skip this step on sheer laziness to go to the kitchen and then back. Finally, I apply Boots Expert Sensitive Hydrating Eye Cream all over my eyes. The sensitive line from Boots is perfect for anyone who has any kind of sensitivity. It is so gentle and odor free. I have never had any irritation from any of their products. This cream seems to seep into my dry skin as I am rubbing it in. You will notice very little left behind but will soon sink in.

In order to not cause any further damage I am trying to be more conscious and use my sunglasses when I am outside and gulp down tons and tons of water to plump up my skin. While the irritation has calmed down significantly, it is still there. So far I feel like I am off to a good start. Let's see what the Doctor has to say.

Friday, May 20, 2016

ARMADA BOOK REVIEW


In April, I had the incredible opportunity to listen to Ernest Cline speak. It was a real nerd moment for me and goes down in history as one of the best events I have ever attended. It was for the launch of his paperback cover release for his second novel, Armada. Funny enough, husband and I had been listening to the audio tape the week before on our trip to Houston and were finishing it up on our way to Austin. The audio tape was like watching a movie without the visuals. The sound effects were amazing! You really felt like you were in the battle scenes. 

The story line of the book deals with Zack Lightman growing up with his mother after his father died at a very young age in an accident at work. He lives in a mundane city and attends high school not being very invested in it. He dreams of a better life, something that will take him away from the monotony of it all. Something more along the lines of the science-fiction books, movies, and games that he is so fond of. It is in one of these boring days at school better spent dreaming that he spots the space ship out the window. And it is not just any ship. It is a ship he recognizes well from one of his games, Armada, in which the players are protecting the earth from alien invaders. 

It is at this point that Zack's life changes. The ship comes for him armed with members of the Earth Defense Alliance. Zack, along with thousands of great gamers from around the world, are taken and asked to join their mission in saving man kind from the impending alien attack. Zack is ready to fulfill his destiny and play the hero. That is until he starts to see things that others don't seem to notice. No one questions the familiarity of climactic episodes they all seem to be caught in. Zack is left wondering how much of this real life movie is actually real or actually a movie?

Action packed from beginning to end, Armada will take you through various pop culture references, thrilling battle scenes, and a coming of age story with a modern twist to it. Enjoy being a part of the Earth Defense Alliance and help save Earth!

*Book was provided for review by Blogging for Books. As always, all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Detoxifying Your Skin


When I was growing up, I suffered from acne. It wasn't a severe case by any means, but it was moderate and to the point that I asked my parents to please take me to a dermatologist. Years of treatment later, my acne has pretty much subsided with the occasional break out here and there but there was some irreversible damage left over from my at home antics. The area directly beneath my under eyes has been left with enlarged pores and redness that requires some extra attention in my skincare.

Washing my face with acne based products can be over drying to my already dry skin. Since my skin is still acne prone, I try to make sure that I thoroughly cleanse my skin so I don't leave dirt behind and clog my pores. One way that I am able to care for my needs is with appropriate face masks. I find that ones made with natural and organic ingredients are the best for my sensitive skin. One that I have been using twice a week is Valentia Skin Detoxifying Clay Mask

This mask contains key ingredients such as kaolin clay, hibiscus, and cranberry fibers. These help draw out impurities, improve skin tone, and tighten pores. The mask also works as a gentle exfoliater. When you are ready to remove it simply apply some water to your face and rub it in a circular motion and let the cranberry fibers remove the dead skin cells allowing for more smoother and even skin. The spirulina in it hydrates the skin and allows for tissue regeneration. My skin feel clean and refreshed after every use. 

If you want to try this mask or any of the amazing products over at Valentia, they were kind enough to offer us a discount code good until June 1. Get 35% off your entire purchase by using REFRESH35 at checkout. And don't forget to check out all that Valentia has to offer. Follow them on Instagram and on Facebook

*Samples for this post were provided by Valentia. As always, all opinions are my own. 


Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Difference Between An Emergency Fund And A Savings Account


More often than not I felt like I was building my savings account only to drain it at the first unforeseen expense. When I expressed my frustration to a friend of mine she told me that that is what savings were for. To use in times of crisis. While I agree with her to an extent, that seems to be more directed for an emergency fund rather than long term savings and can see how without proper monitoring, this could easily get out of hand and not know how much money you actually have. Once I took control of my finances and really dove into making my money work for me, I was able to separate my savings from my emergency fund. This allowed me to see how much money I really had, how prepared I was for an emergency, and how my future was shaping up to look. This is what each account means to me:

Emergency Fund- This fund is to be used when unexpected expenses occur that you could not have foreseen. For example, when our main water pipe collapsed the week before our wedding. Or when my dog took ill and was hospitalized for a week. The amount of money that you have in this account can vary depending on what your expenses are but I would rather have more than less. So here think in the range of $1000 and $1500 as your minimum. Another way of looking at it is what is your medical and/or home insurance deductible? Make that your starting point. More still total all of your monthly expenses and multiply that by three. That number is your goal. Once you have reached your financial goal here, I would suggest that you continue to save but you have the luxury of redirecting your savings towards building up your long term savings account or an immediate purchase. No one knows when disaster will strike or how much it will end up costing you in the long run so continue to build this account.

Savings- This is money set aside with a purpose for the future. This can be money that you are putting aside for your retirement, money to build so you can invest it later into an IRA or stocks, or even the purchase of a car. You can have various savings accounts set up designated for each specific item or you can keep it all in one and keep a ledger of how much money is set for each specific thing. Personally I have three: long time savings, immediate savings, and specific item saving

Long time savings for me is the money that I am setting aside for retirement. My job does not offer the traditional 401K that many do. I have a TRS account which is the Teacher Retirement System of Texas. Money is set aside for me out of each paycheck that my District has predetermined. I am not able to add more into it nor is my District matching my contribution. Still it is money set aside for me for one day. Since I never saw it to begin with, I never missed it. But I know that this will not be enough to guide me through retirement. I sat down and took my monthly income and subtracted every single expense that I have including money set aside for recreation. When I saw how much money I had left each month I then figured out what was the most I could transfer into my long term savings account each month without putting myself in a bind. Then I set the automatic transfer between accounts for each month on the same day. Do not be discouraged if at first it is not the amount of money that you want to be setting aside each month. I started out only being able to save $25. As your finances change, increase the amount of your transfer little by little and you will see how quickly it can build. Remember anything is better than $0. Stick to it. This is not for now; it is for you for later. By the end of this year my plans for this account will change. I will be taking a portion of this money and converting it into an IRA. Then I will continue to save as I did before and continue investing in my future.

Immediate Savings- This to me is like an extension of my emergency fund. If my unforeseen circumstances lasts longer than foreseen or prove to be more expensive than what I had set aside, then I have this account to back me up. In this account I like to deposit all the "extra income" that comes my way such as what I make with Ibotta. If you haven't already tried it, it is an easy way to make money while grocery shopping. You get instant rebates in cash deposited into your bank account. Nothing is easier than that. Join my team here. Other extra income can be items sold, baby sitting, or your #sidehustle. Again how much money you have in here depends on you but I feel comfortable having a minimum of $1000.

Specific Item Savings- This is the account that will have the most movement. Money moving in and money moving out. I like to think ahead at least three months in advance. From there I think what is coming up that will be a bigger expense for my family. For example, both boys have birthdays in the summer. I knew how much I was willing to spend on each birthday party and starting moving money aside with ample time to allow me to build up the savings and do the shopping so I wasn't running around the day before getting everything ready. You can also use this account when planning for a trip, scheduled tire purchase, or Christmas. It is also a great way to save for any purchase without feeling the immediate hit to your finances. 

While my accounts are very specific and I do not like to mix them up I will say that when faced with the loss of employment or long term chronic illness, I do see how it would be necessary to reach into both accounts to keep afloat. There is nothing wrong with that. You worked hard for your money. Now let your money work hard for you while you figure things out. Let that be the least of your worries. But always with the mindset that you will work again to rebuild each account once you are able to. 

At the end of the day money is just money. It is not the answer to everything but lets face it, it sure helps to have it. Instill in yourself the discipline to manage your money with your head and not your heart. Different situations will arise where your finances will be tapped into but know that you will be alright since you thought ahead and saved.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

EMPTIES #8


It sure has been a moment since I did an empties post. I am certain a few actually went into the trash because I know I went through some of my favorite body butters. But still here is a batch of beauty items that I went through since January:

1. Marc Jacob's  Marc'er Liquid Eyeliner Pen in Blacquer- This is my new eyeliner love. It makes the sharpest wing ever. I love how the ink flows completely to the end of the tip so you can get in right next to the corner of your eye. See complete review here

2. e.l.f. Cosmetics Pressed Mineral Powder- I picked this up last year on my trip to New York at the e.l.f. store. The color match was perfect for my yellow undertones and the coverage is amazing. It is really buildable and doesn't looked caked on. I buffed it onto the skin with this brush by e.l.f. making the application even. My only regret is not having purchased more as I am unable to find it on the website. I wonder if it is exclusive to the actual store front. One can only hope.

3. e.l.f. Cosmetics Makeup Mist and Set- One of those items that will probably appear in every empties post. But I did find out they have two new setting sprays, a matte and an illuminating one. I will need to give both a try. 

4. Sephora Collection Outrageous Curl- This mascara is no joke. The formula is thick, thick, thick. So if you are more of a natural mascara kind of girl, this is NOT the one for you. My only gripe is that they changed the brush and I favored the old one most. Still I like to use this mascara for a special night out. I did purchase the waterproof version and I will say I was not a fan. 

5. Anfora Rose Body Oil- This is such an inexpensive and lux product. You get a generous amount for what you pay for and it is really moisturizing on the skin. Plus the delicate rose smell is very pleasant and not old lady at all. 

6. Anastasia Brow Wiz- So far this is the only pencil I have been able to use that matches my black eyebrows. I am on the hunt for an alternative so please let me know if you know of any.

7. Estelle & Thild Night Cream- These products are so difficult to find but when you do they are so worth it. They are mostly organic and rich with nourishing ingredients. My skin just drinks it up. 

8. Perricone MD Face Finishing Moisturizer- This was such a treat as its price point is very high up there for me. But it came in a set during Christmas time and it was a full size tub. The cream is a medium texture leaning more towards the light side. A small amount was enough for my entire face as it blended beautifully. It sunk into the skin quickly and left my skin moisturized all day. It never felt heavy or noticed any breakout because of it. 

9. Josie Maran Pure Argan Milk- I am still on the fence about this product as I was about a year ago when I first tried it. I just don't get it. I see no visible benefits to it and the formula gets thick and dries out very quickly. Again this came in a gift set but I would not purchase it on its own.

10. Boots Botanics Organic Facial Oil- Another product that will probably always be in here. I think you guys have heard me go on and on about this product. I hope by now you have tried it as well. 

11. NYX HD Concealer- I got on fairly well with this product. It is not as creamy as say the NARS one or the e.l.f. one but it is very easily blended. It is slightly more on the dryer thicker side. The colors tend to run a tad lighter as well. The coverage was pretty high up there and lasted all day. It did cling to my dry patches though because as I mentioned it is a bit of a dry formula but it didn't do that anywhere else. This is still a great drug store alternative.

12. Perricone MD No Foundation Foundation- This is hands down my favorite foundation, or not foundation? I can't believe I haven't done a full review on this product. This is actually an anti ageing treatment that restores the youthful look to your skin. When I wear it I get so many compliments. Really. Every single time. It is perfect for every day wear. And while it can be a bit pricey, a little goes a long way. I would recommend this product to everyone.

Whew! That was a lengthy one. Congrats and a BIG thanks if you made it all the way through. Let me know if you have tried any of these products and what your thoughts are.