Thursday, January 29, 2015

Winter Walmart Beauty Box

About a month ago I was scrolling through my Twitter feed, as I am wont to do, and noticed a friend's tweet about her Walmart Beauty Box. I thought I was pretty informed in the ways of all things boxy, but I had never heard of this so I gave the poor woman the third degree via @ replies. Turns out that Walmart does a quarterly subscription box of beauty products for $5! Who knew? Not me. I am way too poor for most subscription boxes, but I can totally handle $5 to try a new box of surprise beauty stuff, especially if it's only four times a year. They customize the box depending on you age and other factors, so not everyone will get exactly the same products.

So, what's the verdict? I wasn't totally blown away, but it was a pretty good box of goodies. My box contained:

  • Full Sized Covergirl Colorlicious lip gloss in "Juicy Fruit" - Retails for $5.94. This isn't something I would have picked up from the beauty aisle myself, but I really like it. It's not sticky, there's no weird taste, the scent is pleasant enough, and the color they chose is pretty universally flattering. Plus, this one item is worth about $6 by itself, which already makes the $5 cost of the box worth it since I'll actually use this. Yay!
  • Mini Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion - I am actually kinda mad at this lotion for being awesome. Most scented stuff makes me sneeze, so I didn't even look at this for like a week after I got the box, but when I did I was super excited that it's unscented! Not even a weird lotiony smell! I liked it enough that I bought a full sized bottle a few days later, even though it's a little pricier than what I'd usually spend on lotion. Weirdly, the full size does have a little bit of a lotiony smell, but not bad at all, and it's definitely helping my poor legs survive the winter dryness.

  • Travel Sized Burt's Bees Facial Cleansing Towelettes with White Tea Extract- LOVE these and planning to buy more! These do have a bit of a scent to them, but it's mild and natural, so I haven't had any problems with them. I love keeping a packet like this next to my bed for those nights when you're already all comfy and falling asleep and suddenly realize you still have makeup on! The full sized 30-pack of these is around $6, or you can pick up the travel sized pouch for about $3.
  • Sample Sized John Frieda Touchably Full shampoo and conditioner - Passed this on to my mom because of the scent, which was really sad because it's made for fine, color treated hair, which is totally me. Alas.
  • My box also contained a sample packet of L'Oreal Paris Color Vibrancy Shampoo, Conditioner, and Conditioning Mask and a travel size bottle of Dove Deep Moisture Body Wash - I already know that both of these tend to trigger my allergies, so I'm planning to donate them to a shelter or somewhere similar where they'll be appreciated.
If we write the shampoo/conditioner packets off as freebies and estimate the travel sized bottles at $1, the total value of my box was around $11. Unlike a lot of similar boxes, this didn't come with an info sheet to tell me more about the products and their prices, so that's one thing I'd love to see them add in. Also, the sample packets of hair product had coupons attached, but it would be awesome if they included coupons for every product!

It's almost impossible to find the link to sign up on the main Walmart site, which is probably a factor in why I hadn't heard anything about these yet! (I'm not affiliated with this in any way, btw, just passing on the info!) They also do a $5 baby product box, for those of you who live with tiny people.

I don't feel like this is a total must-do for me, but I am planning to order the spring box when it rolls around. I'm surprised that I found a couple of new products that I really like, and I'm glad that the ones I couldn't use were the smaller sample sized ones! At $5, it's totally worth it to me just for the fun of getting a surprise box in the mail.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

10 Things On Tuesday - Volume 30

1. A few blogs that I've stumbled upon lately that I've really been enjoying: Unlocking Kiki (American living in Iceland!), Life According to Steph (who is hilarious), and Avoiding Atrophy.

2. This post at Life Less Bullshit about closing your escape hatch was something I totally needed to read this week!

3. My beloved heteroilfemate Katie and I are starting a list of things we must do to celebrate once I'm back living in Orlando. The first thing on this list is to sneak some whipped vodka into Universal, spike some frozen Butterbeer, and sit around the Hog's Head writing bad Harry Potter poetry on bar napkins.

We know how to party.

4. 42 Moments That Prove Just How Crazy Florida Is - My favorite is obviously "Florida Man Arrested For Calling 911 After His Cat Was Denied Entry Into Strip Club".

5. Another story out of Florida, but this one is less quirky, more creepy. This interview on Jezebel is the first I've read about the Dozier school, but now I want to research more. It was a school that operated from 1900 - 2012, where a lot of kids were horribly abused and used for child labor, and now over 55 bodies have been found buried there, mostly in unmarked graves. And yes, you read that right - it wasn't closed until a few years ago. (This article from the Tampa Bay Times has more in depth info, if you get sucked in like I did. Just a warning - the more you read, the more haunting it is. There's a photo of a storage closet at the university that studied the recovered remains, and at first glance it just looks like a bunch of cardboard boxes on shelves, but then you remember that each one contains what's left of a child. It's nuts.) 

One super crazy quote from the Jezebel interview: "In fact, the state hospital in the 1920s, Florida State Hospital, had such a large number of deaths they had their own casket factory. They do to this day." So... yeah, if I ever need a hospital when I move back to FL? Let's avoid that one.

6. I just remembered that it's State of the Union address day and got all excited, which I think tells you everything you need to know about me.

7. I had the really stupid idea this weekend to dig out all of my beauty products, toss what I no longer needed, and reorganize. Do I even need to tell you that at least half of this stuff is still sitting in the middle of my living room floor 2 days later? I'll finish eventually.

8. Spotted this shirt in the Walmart clearance section for $3. Did not buy it. I fear that I will regret this decision forever. 

9. Ever since my mom moved back home from the nursing home, she's had a housekeeper come over a few times a week to help her out. I was there yesterday when the lady was there cleaning up, and Mom referred to her as "Natalie". She corrected mom that it was "Natalia." 

Mom turns to me and says "Oh! That's like that stuff you like!"

*pause as I figure this out*

Me: "Nutella?"

So from now on, mom's housekeeper shall be known as Nutella.

The Frog in the Well Alvin Tresselt ~ Roger Duvoisin ~ Lothrop, Lee and Shepard, 1958

10. This just makes me happy.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

10 Things on Wednesday - Volume 29

1. This excerpt from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up convinced me that I really need to read the book. I *really* need to downsize my possessions before I move back to Florida, and it seems like this book's approach to choosing what to keep is something I could actually work with. (I don't own that much stuff, in general, but I'm a top floor apartment person so every box of things I take is a box that I have to carry up three flights of stairs. Or, you know, bribe a muscular friend to carry. Still, there's effort involved either way.)

2. I had a crazy craving for blueberries, so I thought I'd go all out and make a smoothie with some of my $4 (ugh!) container-o-berries. I recently tried a delicious blueberry-oatmeal fruit thing, so I was all "Oh, I'll stick some oatmeal in and it will be great!" 

This was a terrible idea. Somehow blueberries + oatmeal + almond milk resulted in total disgustingness. I have no idea how it happened, it sounded so promising! I eventually managed to save it by throwing a big chunk of banana into the blender, which covered up the weird oaty taste. Maybe I should look up smoothie recipes on Pinterest like every other human being ever, instead of trying to wing it?

Nah, I'll probably just keep throwing things into the blender all willy nilly. I live on the edge.

3. Since I'm sure you sit around wondering what color my nails are, check out what I found on clearance for $1.24 each at Walgreens! It takes so little to delight me. (I also got the planner you see in the background on this trip. Got one last year and I've used it like whoa, so I was thrilled to find another one!) (Seriously, it takes VERY little to delight me. New planner = PARTY!)

4. THIS. I was at the dollar store today picking up some awesome fabric box thingeys to organize my closet with (because it's just after new year's so we are all still focused on turning ourselves into totally perfect humans who are healthy and organized and all of that crap). In the aisle with all of the organizey thingy, I spotted these beauties. (Yes, there are two - there's a black one behind the purple.) What is this miraculous wonder? Scarf organizer! And they were 2 for $2.50! Start sending suggestions for what I can use these for once I move back to Florida.

5. I haven't gotten around to taking down my tree and decorations and such yet. Have you guys? Am I failing at holidays? 

6. I spent three days without water last week, which was not the most fun thing that has ever happened to me. I'm good about remembering to leave water dripping at night when it's cold, but it was something crazy like 16 degrees in the middle of the afternoon so I didn't think about it and the pipes froze. I was starting to run out of coffee cups since I couldn't do dishes, so I hate to think of what havoc would have resulted if the water hadn't come back on when it did. (Being able to shower again was also pretty cool.)

7. I am pretty sure that my cats are treat addicts. Remember what happened the last time they got a new bag of treats? This time, I thought I was super smart. After letting them try the new treats, I hid the little treat box up on the highest shelf of my bookshelf. I felt a little weird about this because that's the shelf that my betta lives on, and these treats are made of dehydrated fish. I hope he didn't realize what was sitting next to his tank. sent me these awesome Honest Kitchen kitty treats for free, 'cause they are awesome and are basically like Santa and the Easter Bunny rolled into one to my cats. 

Anyway, later that night when Bear was giving me my nightly stomach massage (all cats do this, right?) he stopped mid-knead and started sniffing the air. Remember how I mentioned these are made of fo-real fish? They smell like it. Major fishy smell. Well, I guess I should have thought about that because after about 10 seconds of air sniffing, Bear jumped off my stomach, and started trying to scale the bookshelf to get to the treats! Long psycho cat story short, I ended up having to *triple bag* these to keep the cats from finding them and going nuts trying to get to them. 

And even higher treat praise? Tennyson, who refuses to eat dry food or any kind of treat, actually ate two of these when I soaked them in some water to soften them up. THAT is noteworthy!

8. I need new music suggestions, y'all. What's your jam lately? 

9. I'm finishing this post up just after 9 pm on Wednesday (Better late than never?) and I haven't even started work for today. (I'm freelance, so I kinda work when I want to.) 

10. I usually end these lists with my favorite Pinterest find of the week, but this week's favorite image is way too huge to stick here, so instead I'll link you to my pin of "Women rejecting marriage proposals in Western art history." You're welcome.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Win 2 Tickets to See Acrobats of China! {Made In My State Giveaway Hop}

It's giveaway time! Woohoo! I'm joining in a really fun giveaway hop today that features prizes from each participating blogger's home state. After you enter here, be sure to check out the prizes you can win from the other blogs!

As you might know, I grew up in Branson, Missouri, so I wanted to find a really Branson-ish prize for this giveaway. Luckily, Deals On Branson offered to sponsor the giveaway and give one lucky winner a pair of tickets to see the Acrobats of China show at the RFD Theatre in Branson!

This is SUCH a cool show - it includes totally jaw dropping acts like aerial acrobatics, contortion, juggling, plate spinning... you name it! I pulled up a video from YouTube since it does a way better job of showing off the awesomeness than I can with words!

I know that quite a few of my readers live in the Midwest, so hopefully Branson is just a short drive away for a lot of you! I wanted to make sure that you'll have plenty of time if you don't live nearby, so the winner can use these tickets, which are worth over $75 for the pair, any time before October, 2015! If you aren't planning to travel to Missouri this year, the tickets would make a fantastic gift for any of your friends who are!

HUGE thanks to Deals On Branson for sponsoring this giveaway! If you haven't heard of them, they're an awesome company that offers great discounts on Branson show tickets, Branson attraction tickets, Branson hotels... pretty much anything you need for a Branson vacation, they can help you save money on it!

Ready to enter to win? This giveaway is open to US residents 18+, and will end at 11:59 PM Eastern time on January 27, 2015. Just enter using the Rafflecopter form below! There are entries that you can claim once a day, so be sure to come back daily to increase your chances of winning!

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

10 Things On Tuesday - Volume 28

1. In case you're super curious about which items I kept from my Stitch Fix, I went with the magical first top and the jeans! Thank you guys so much for all of your feedback! I haven't scheduled my next Fix yet, but I'll definitely be doing it again after getting such great stuff this time around. It's kind of addicting!

2. Anyone else watching the Bachelor? I skipped the first hour last night because it was on at the same time as my TV boyfriend Chris Hayes, but it looks like I mostly just missed boring red carpet stuff (gag) and some of the introductions. I wish I was not the kind of person who watched this kind of show, but I totally am.

3. Arrgh, so Crowdtap just sent me this bag of Brookside clusters today, and I've already eaten like half the bag. But hey, they contain fruit and grains and stuff, so they're totally healthy, right? ...Right?

om nom nom

4. Pre-fall 2015 fashion week is happening, and AHHHH, all the pretty fashion! I might just give up on the fashion week posts I'm behind on and blog about what's happening now. I love this stuff WAY too much.

5. Speaking of fashiony things, I watched the entire series (8 episodes) of House of DVF in a row the other night, and now I want to figure out how to design a wrap dress.

6. Also on a fashion note, today was the bag sale day at my local thrift shop and I went in armed with a giant list of things that I wanted to find for various sewing projects, and ended up finding almost nothing. Total contrast from last month when I ended up getting almost 50 things for $5! (I've been meaning to post about that - look for it soon!) 

7. Got this mug for $1 yesterday and I'm pretty happy about it.

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8. My hair is red again! YAY! (This cost nearly four whole dollars.)

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9. I have so much to do tonight but I am really tempted to just curl up in bed and read until I fall asleep. (Yep, it's 9 pm.)

10. Quote of the week:

Friday, January 02, 2015

Stitch Fix Review - Take Two!

Let's try this whole Stitch Fix review thing again, shall we? I *really* need your input this time, I'm totally undecided!!!

If you missed it, I tried out Stitch Fix for the first time in November, and things didn't go so well. (You can check out that review here: November Stitch Fix Review) I still had a $30 credit, though, so I decided to give it another go in hopes of better luck the second time around. The only note that I sent my stylist this time was that I wanted to stick to all clothing items again (ie no handbags or jewelry), and I nudged her towards my style and Stitch Fix Pinterest boards. Ready to see how it went?

Some handy quick info in case you have zero idea what I'm talking about: Stitch Fix is a subscription service where you create a style profile and a personal stylist puts together a box of 5 items they think you'll love. You keep what you like and send back the rest in the handy pre-paid envelope. When your box of goodies ships out, you're charged a $20 styling fee, but if you do decide to keep any items, that $20 is applied to the price. You can send your stylist notes about what you're looking for (for example, if you've got a holiday party coming up and want a special dress), or link them to your style Pinterest boards to give them a clearer idea of what you like. (I included photos of each item I received hanging separately so that you can pin them if you see something you'd like your stylist to send you without having to have me in the pic, too!)

Here's what was in my January Stitch Fix box!

Pixley - Edmond Chevron Print Henley Shirt - $54

Pixley Edmond Chevron Print Henley from Stitch Fix

Stitch Fix Pixley Henley Edmond Chevron

I'm keeping this one, no question, I'm in love. I kind of want my stylist to send it in every color they make. (I know there's at least one other color!) I love the mix of colors and the print - it's a chevron but not the super cliche straight-lined graphic print kind. The fit is perfect, and the fabric is super soft and comfortable. Would I normally spend over $50 on a top like this? Nope. But I didn't question keeping this one for a second. Loooove. I know I'll get a ton of use out of it.

Did I gush enough yet? Maybe? Let's move on!

Pomelo - Avah Chevron Print Dolman Sleeve Top - $58

This top, you guys. It's killing me. I  LOVE the fabric. The colors and the print and the fabric quality are all amazing. I want to buy like ten yards of this fabric and make ALL THE THINGS out of it.

However, I'm on the fence about the fit. If I pull it all the way down, as it's pictured above, it's practically dress length on me, which is pretty major given that I'm just shy of 5'11". That also makes it stay almost the same width from my chest down to my hips, without dipping in much at my waist, which isn't super flattering. I've experimented with different ways of wearing it, from wearing the lower band of fabric (for lack of a better term) at about hip level so that the extra length just sort of drapes, to flipping that lower band of fabric under for a smooth looking, shorter top. Maybe I'm going about it all wrong, but nothing felt 100% right. I actually snapped some photos with it worn different ways, but managed to totally delete them from my phone when I was editing (smoooth!), so here's a terrible quality selfie I snapped when I first tried it on, instead. (Sorry.)

If this was a $25 top, I'd keep it without question and just do some alterations until it felt right. At almost $60, though, I'm leaning towards sending it back. Insert super sad face here.

Kut from the Kloth - Denna Skinny Jean - $58

Note - Stitch Fix calls these "Denna", the tag says "Diana", so take your pick, I guess?

I'm pretty sure that Stitch Fix employs wizards, because this is the second pair of jeans they've sent me that fits almost perfectly. Think about how many pairs of horribly fitting jeans you usually try on in search of one pair that fits decently. Now imagine that a total stranger who has never even seen your body in real live just magically plucked a pair out of their warehouse for you and they fit just right. There is no explanation for this other than magic.

I liked the jeans that came in my November Stitch Fix, but they were $98 so I passed since I didn't totally LOVE them. The price of this pair was way more comfortable for me, even though it's still a little above what I normally spend on jeans. In fact, I googled Kut from the Kloth to check out their other jeans, and found that these sell for about $79-$89 on their site and other retailers like Nordstrom, so getting them from Stitch Fix is actually a pretty sweet deal!

Kut From the Kloth Denna Skinny Jeans Stitch Fix

SO sorry that this is the best pic I have. Someone needs to educate me on how to get better mirror selfies, 'cause this was seriously the best out of a dozen or so! I'm also wearing them in all of the photos of the tops, though, so maybe you can get a bit of an idea?

On a more model-y body, they look like this:

The only reasons I'm on the fence about these are that
a) They're just the teeeeny-tiniest bit too big. Going down a size would definitely not work, but it's kind of like I need a 7 2/3 instead of size 8. The good thing about this is that it makes them "skinny" without being skin tight, but it does make me worry how they would fit if I lost a couple of pounds. (Of course, if I gained a few, they'd be spot on!)
b) $58 is about double what I usually spend on jeans, and to be honest my current favorite pair were $4 at a thrift shop. Arrrgh, this is tough!! On the other hand, I discovered that Target had a $20 jeans sale happening the other day, so I tried on NINE different pairs with zero luck, so maybe keeping these is worth it?

Bajee Collection - Barton Graphic Knit Drape Front Cardigan - $58

Front and Back view. Sorry the color is so funky on the back pic!

 I guess that my stylist totally did check out my Pinterest boards, because I remember pinning this from A Sorta Fairytale's October Stitch Fix review. I liked the graphic print and was all over the fact that I could pair it with black or brown boots.

There was something super weird going on with my face in this pic, so... I fixed it. 

Tried all kinds of ways of adjusting the drapey fabric, including pulling all of it back, but still didn't look great.

You may remember that I got a similar style of cardigan in my November Stich Fix, and it totally didn't work for me. I was a little optimistic because the fabric of this one was a bit thinner, so it didn't have that same super bulky feel when it all draped at the front. I definitely like this one a lot better than the one I got in November, but I still think I'm going to pass on it.

41 Hawthorne - Lana Lace Detail Blouse - $58

You know how I keep mentioning that my stylist paid attention to my Pinterest? I totally forgot that I'd pinned this, but this is my pin and caption:

Stitch Fix Review - I love that my Stitch Fix stylist paid attention to my Pinterest boards!

And so of course, because she is a wizard (I'm guessing a Ravenclaw with all of the research she did), she sent me the same top in BLUE. And it's gorgeous. I do generally love just about anything involving lace, and this is a fantastic shade of blue.

Putting this detail shot first because it's the most accurate depiction of the color!

It's way less electric blue than it looks here!

If you can't tell, my poor phone camera had serious issues getting the lighting right on this top! 

However, the fit is a little off. It's a bit tight in the upper third, because, well, boobs. I tried a few different things like throwing a cardigan on with it to see if it made it look more flattering, but no luck. The problem for me seems to be that the fabric hangs straight down from my chest, which is kinda a problem when your chest is the most prominent part of your body! 

I'll pass on the several extra inches added to my side view, thanks!

What the heck should I keep?

My stylist did an awesome job this month, and even though the fit was a little off on a few things and I'm debating about budget, everything I got was totally my style. My biggest problem with my first Stitch Fix was that I felt like most of the items I got were fairly generic, and thus not worth the prices. The four tops in this box were all items that would make me stop and think "Oh, that's something kind of special!", which is exactly what I'm looking for. The jeans, on the other hand, are exactly what I want in jeans that I'm paying a little more for- great fit, just the right color of denim, comfy, something I could wear pretty much every single day. And funny enough, the two items that weren't a great fit were items that I had specifically pinned! I also appreciate that my stylist sent lower priced items than last time - everything was $54-$58, whereas my last Fix had several items $70-100.

The total price for all 5 items I received was $286. You get a 25% discount if you keep all 5, and I have a $10 credit, so when you factor those and the styling fee I already paid in, I'd need to pay  $189.50 to keep everything.

So, here are the options I'm currently debating:
  1. Just keep the magical Pixley henley top. It's $54, so I'd only owe $24. This is the option that makes my bank account the happiest, by far.
  2. Keep the Pixley henley top and the jeans. I'd owe $82.
  3. Keep BOTH Pixley tops and the jeans. $140. I'd LOVE to do this, but I just don't think it's practical given my budget right now. I mean, for this amount of money I could almost buy the 32" TV I have my eye on. (I am currently rocking a clunky 19" of questionable age that I got at a garage sale for $5.)
  4. Just say "screw it" and keep all 5. With the discount, it would average out to $38 per item instead of $57, which is a pretty great deal, especially given the retail price of the jeans. There are Stitch Fix buy/sell/trade groups on Facebook where I might be able to swap the two items I'm not in love with for something that I really do love, like the Pixley henley in another color. 
What would you guys do? I'm not even doing that cliche blogger thing where we all tend to end posts with questions in hopes of getting comments - I'm seriously so undecided that I'm changing my mind at least once an hour. Thankfully since my Fix came during a holiday, they're giving me an entire week instead of just 3 days to check out! I need to mail back what I'm not keeping by Thurs, though, so HELP! PLEASE! 

Stitch Fix pros and cons

Handy disclosure - This is not a sponsored review and I paid for everything myself. I do get a snazzy referral credit if you order a Stitch Fix via my link, though, and credits equal more Stitch Fix reviews in the future!