Thursday, January 24, 2013

January 2013 Birchbox Review

My January 2013 Birchbox is here! I get so excited every month when I pull that pink box out of the mail. I rush inside and tear it open to see what wonderful product samples the ladies have sent me each month. I wanted to vlog this using a cross platform of this blog and my YouTube channel, but unfortunately my face started swelling. I'm a little too vain to go on YouTube for the first time with a giant knot in my neck. Okay, a LOT too vain. This month we'll stick with the blog, and hopefully next month I'll be able to broadcast!

This month I received:

Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre 24 Hour Miracle Cream - This French moisturizing cream has been a favorite of models and makeup artists for 60 years.

Viva la Juicy perfume - I smelled it and I love it. It's got a light, flirty scent that is great for warm weather, which I get 12 months out of every year in Florida.

Eyeko Skinny Liquid Eyeliner - I'm a little scared of this one. I've never done well with liquid eyeliners, so get prepared for lots of twitpics with terrible eyeliner. Fortunately, Birchbox has tons of how-to articles and videos so I'm sure to be able to find something to help me out on their site.

Oscar Blandi Dry Styling Heat Protect Spray - This thing does it all. It's a keratin infused spray that helps your hair withstand the torture we put it through everyday. It protects against heat and breakage and doubles as a hair spray. I'm very excited to try it out.

Oscar Blandi Hair Lift Thickening and Strengthening Serum - this one isn't pictured because I had one of my infamous blonde moments. I left it in that white box sitting inside the cardboard box with the pink tissue paper. This is a serum that you use before blow drying. It's supposed to give your hair salon volume and bounce. I hope it lives up to it's claims, because I found it at Ulta today and the price wasn't terrible!

I'll update you on how I feel about these products toward the end of the month - maybe even on a vlog!

Did you sign up for Birchbox? What did you get?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

52 Week Money Challenge Update

We're 4 weeks into 2013, and I'm doing the 52 Week Money Challenge. It started on Reddit and spread like wildfire all over the internet. Or maybe spread like Firefox. Something with fire. I saw it on Facebook after one of my friends posted a link to the image above. So far the challenge is going very well. I'm stuck in that post holiday whiplash, like most of us probably are, and I've still managed to save my $10. I actually have 4 bank accounts, one for bills, one for my emergency fund, one for disposable income, and one for growth. I'm using money out of my bills account and my disposable income account and feeding equal amounts into my two savings accounts. Technically I've saved $20.

How are you doing with the 52 Week Money Challenge? It's not too late to catch up!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Birchbox Review

I talk about Birchbox at least once a week on this blog, and have gotten a lot of questions about it. Since later this week I'm planning on doing my January Birchbox review I thought it was finally time to explain what Birchbox is and why I love it so much!

Birchbox is a monthly subscription service that delivers 4 - 5 brand name samples to your door for women or men. I love getting the chance to try new products every month that I may not have known about otherwise. There are several brands I've received that I've fallen in love with that I had never heard of. I'm even getting brands that have been around for more than 60 years that I never knew about. I don't live in a small town, but our shopping choices are a bit limited. We do have a Sephora and an Ulta, but there are so many brands all crammed in together that it would take DAYS to pick up each one, read labels, smell products, and swatch colors. Who has the time for that? I certainly don't. Unfortunately it is also very difficult to find some things in sample sizes.

Why I love the service is that Birchbox takes care of all of that for me. They send me brands and specific products that are tailored to my beauty needs, skin tone, and hair type that they think I'll love. There are certain brands that they sample every month, but they pick from that pool and send me their best choices. I will be honest that sometimes I hate a product. It stinks, or the texture is terrible, but every month there is always one thing that I absolutely love. They also sometimes send out what they call "Lifestyle Extras" that range from Soy Joy bars, to granola packets, and I even got a really neat set of earbuds one month.

They also have their own rewards program. For each product that you review from your box you get 10 points - every 100 points is $10 that you can use on a full size product, plus you get one point per dollar that you spend in the Birchbox shop. Their website is bright and easy to navigate, and I love the bright pink box they use for their logo. I was really skeptical about Birchbox at first, as I am about everything internet related, but signing up for their service was the best beauty choice I've made in a long time.

If you would like to sign up, I would be super appreciative if you would use my referral link. Beauty products aren't cheap! Click here to go to the sign up page:

Monday, January 21, 2013

Monday's Blog is Full of Thanks

Ouch - fail. I know. Last week I definitely did not keep to my goal of writing two blog posts. My jaw started to swell on the right side of my neck and I was so freaked out and worn out that my creative juices were stagnant. It did, however give me some new things to be thankful for!

1) Doctors with flexible schedules - my old PCP never had any open appointments, so it was impossible to get an emergency visit with him.

2)Pharmaceuticals - I know most people hate pharmaceutical companies, but I've worked at one so I understand the industry. There are bad things about the industry, I'm not going to lie to you, but they honestly do try to do good work. Plus, the antibiotics I'm on started working in less than 24 hours which helped calm my anxiety.

3) Birchbox - yes, again. It got here when I felt like crap and it gave me something to distract me for a few minutes.

4) A slowly improving economy - raises and bonuses at work aren't frozen anymore! I don't know exactly how much we're getting, but every little bit extra helps. There are actually a lot of changes coming at work that I'm very excited about. I can't wait to see what the next year is going to bring for us!

5) BOGO brownies - do I have to explain?

What are you thankful for this week? Let me know in the comments below!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Monday's Blog is Full of Thanks

I can honestly say that the last week of my life has been one of the hardest I've ever had to deal with. On Monday the search was called off for my missing friend. As of this writing no one is looking for him and he has not turned up anywhere. A massive snow storm moved into the area where he disappeared and the odds are not good. On top of feeling sick and being extremely tired, the week was also incredibly hectic for several different reasons that I won't go into. This is another week where I have to struggle to find good things in my life, but I try to be a positive person every day and I feel that it helps me deal with those days when it feels like the world is collapsing around you.

Here are the things I'm thankful for this week:

1) Family visits - both of my parents have been at my house for dinner in the last couple of weeks and it was wonderful having them here.

2) My extensive recipe collection in my head - I cooked dinner when both of my parents were here. For my Daddy I made a skinny sesame chicken with stir fried vegetables and for Momma I made my italian mac n cheese.

3) New books - I'll never get tired of hearing the crackle of paper and binding in an otherwise silent room.

4) Warm weather - I know it's January, but I live in Florida. It's 80 degrees today and I'm seriously considering heading to the beach!

5) Paychecks - goes without saying!

What five things are you thankful for today? Let me know in the comments below!

(Photo from:

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The 52 Week Money Challenge Review

If you spend much time on the internet you've probably seen this floating around:

This is the 52 Week Money Challenge. It looks simple enough, and is a great way to get used to saving money. I like how the increments start at $1 and go up from there, but I am wondering how December will work out for most people. Saving $49, $50, $51, and $52 dollars a week is a great goal, but when you also have to buy Christmas presents, holiday meals, and pay for gas to travel that month I'm afraid that most people will just give up and consider the experiment a failure.

I have heard that some people are starting at the bottom and working their way up - starting at $52 and going to $1. Since this is a program to help you get used to saving money I wonder if people who start at $52 will get overwhelmed with the large amount at the beginning and give up halfway through the year.

I plan on starting at the $1 mark and working my way to the $52 mark. I'll update my progress periodically to let you know how it's going and whether or not I'm finding it difficult.

Are you doing the 52 Week Money Challenge? Let me know!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Monday's Blog is Full of Thanks

Happy Monday! It's that time of week again - time to wake up early, make a pot of coffee, and count the five things you're thankful for this week.

Let me be perfectly honest you, though. This week I'm finding it very difficult to remember the good things in my life. Thursday afternoon one of my friends went missing while skydiving in Seattle. It has now been three days and there's no sign of him. We're praying for his safe return and keeping an obsessive eye on the news reports.

Here is what I'm thankful for this week:

1) Search crews - most of them are volunteers and don't have to be out in the freezing cold searching for our friend.

2) Kitty snuggles - I'm babysitting my sister's cats for a while and they seem to know when you're sad. The big one and little one have been curled up in my lap all morning.

3) Coffee - always. And a boyfriend who gets out bed before me to make it.

4) Lazy Saturday Mornings - I slept until 10 on Saturday, and it was glorious.

5) Life - it's difficult to remember sometimes, and very trying at others, but we should always be thankful for the chance to wake up.

What 5 things are you thankful for this week? Let me know below in the comments!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Q&A Thursday

I always leave a call to action on my blogs for you all to leave me any questions you may have, and I also have an email address just for this blog. Today I'm going to take time to answer some of these questions here!

1) What is your favorite face primer?

I absolutely love The POREfessional by Benefit. It has a satiny texture and a very light tint to it, and it reduces the appearance of the pores on my nose. I've tried a LOT of primers, and this has been my favorite.

2) What do you use in place of sour cream and cream cheese in recipes?

I use plain greek yogurt. It lowers the fat and calorie content of your recipes but keeps the taste. For example - it's great on tacos or in place of the cream/cheese in stuffed chicken!

3) What is the optimal number of calories to shoot for everyday if I want to lost weight?

It depends on your height, weight, and body frame, but what I can tell you is that if you want to lose one pound a week you need to burn 500 more calories a day than you take in. You can do this either with exercise, lowering your daily caloric intake, or both. Just keep in mind that diets don't work and if you want to see real, lasting changes, you have to be consistent. I will be making more posts about my daily diet and exercise to give you some ideas to go on. I personally know how hard it is to get started and keep things interesting while you're trying to lose weight!

Do you have any questions that you would like me to answer? Leave them below or email me!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Product Review - Flo Refillable Atomizer

Today, I want to share one of my favorite new products with you. If you subscribe to Birchbox (I'll blog more about this service later) then you may already be familiar with the Flo Refillable Atomizer. Some people received them in their December box, but unfortunately I was not one of them. I purchased mine from Ulta for $10.60, after tax. If the lovely Elle Fowler of hadn't opened her Birchbox on her YouTube channel, I might not have known about it. I am so glad she did, because this has now become a staple product in my beauty regime.

The Flo Refillable Atomizer is a small, travel sized atomizer with a solid metal outer casing that protects a glass vial. The inside parts are made of silicone so that when you screw the bottom onto the inner part it doesn't leak. It's also apparently TSA approved so you can take it in your carry on at the airport and it won't be confiscated. I don't know this personally so I can't actually attest to whether or not this true, but it does fall under the 3 oz of liquid rule.

What makes this atomizer special is that you can fill it with any type of bottle. All you do is angle it differently depending on whether you're pouring or spraying. I really love this because I also get different samples of perfume every month from Birchbox and I HATE fighting with the stupid pop lids on the little sample vials. It's also very simple to switch between fragrances. All you do fill the glass vial with rubbing alcohol for 24 hours, then rinse it out with hot water. I sprayed about half of the alcohol out of mine so it would clear the tube as well. Then I shook it again because I am slightly OCD and poured the remaining alcohol out, ran water into it for a couple of minutes and switched fragrances.

I love this because I can pour my samples into it, use them in the morning, and carry them with me all day. I don't wear very heavy fragrances because I live in Florida, so they tend to wear off before the end of the day. I bought the pink Flo and the color is just beautiful. I've been using it for about 2 weeks now and it hasn't suffered any scratches or dents in my purse. I highly recommend it even if you don't want to use a different fragrance often because it's also great to be able to carry your signature perfume in. My sister actually bought me an additional one from Sephora for Christmas and I use it for my signature scent, which is Ralph by Ralph Lauren.

Have you used the Flo Refillable Atomizer? Share you experience with me down below! As always if you have any questions or comments, don't be shy - I love blog comments. Don't forget to share me with your friends as well!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Start Today

New Year's Resolutions are stupid. That's right - I said that. I feel so strongly against New Year's Resolutions that I haven't made one in over 5 years. The last resolution I made tanked within a week. I can't remember what it was. It was probably something like lose weight, be more healthy, swear less. All I remember is that within one week I had abandoned my resolution.

Why do resolutions fail? First, let me share some statistics that I found from Psychology Today.

- 45 - 50% of adults make a New Year's Resolution.

- Of these, 22% will fail within one week, 40% will fail within one month, 50% will fail within 3 months, and 60% will fail after 6 months.

- The top resolutions are to quit smoking and drink less alcohol.

Those are overwhelming numbers. They basically say that making a New Year's Resolution is setting yourself up to fail. There are jokes, quips, full comedy routines, about resolutions being a joke. But, why?

The answer is simple: New Year's Resolutions lack specificity. You say, "I want to lose weight this year." Wonderful! What you don't do is specify how much or in what time frame. You say, "I will quit smoking this year." Another wonderful resolution, but again, you have to give yourself a time frame, a plan, and a way to measure your results. A New Year's Resolution is a goal, and a goal without a plan is just a wish.

I'll tell you my main problem with resolutions, though. Anything with a start date also has an end date. I don't believe in starting for a certain date to start making changes in your life. If you want something enough, start doing it today. Don't wait for a holiday, or a one on a calendar. In one year from now, you will be happy that you started today.

Did you make a resolution? Share what it is down below! What is your plan to achieve your goal? If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. If you need help creating a plan, I am more than happy to help!