Month: December 2013

The Hunt for Red in December

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Let me begin by acknowledging my absence (not that anyone has been jamming up my inbox wondering where my latest posts have gone). I actually hoped to have this post up BEFORE Christmas, but holiday hustle, bustle and procrastination got the best of me. I figure this post can still be handy for New Year’s Eve preps.

Just like most teen girls (who are now in their 30s), I grew up reading Seventeen, YM (oh my gosh! remember YM?!), and the like. My magazine reading continues to this day. So, you’d think after ALL these years I’d know all kinds of handy dandy make-up and beauty tricks. That’s hardly the case as I compare my handiwork to that of…almost every other woman I know and don’t know. Yeah, yeah, yeah I compare myself to others.

Honestly, the effort to get “made up” takes too much time on a daily basis. I’m low-maintenance. Most days, I’m no-maintenance! I rarely wear make-up. Not because my natural beauty can carry me through the day. It’s because I would rather sleep that extra five minutes or check Instagram for five minutes or spend five more minutes trying to figure out what I’m going to wear.

My “special occassion” look is comparable to most women’s “every day” look. I use a one-step powder (thank goodness for Bare Minerals, because I cannot be bothered with applying foundation AND THEN powder), a sad attempt at a smoky eye, some lip gloss and a little contouring on the cheeks.

But I wanted to “up” the glam factor for my husband’s company Christmas party. I mean, I have to kick it up a notch wearing a feather skirt, right?! So, despite all of my years of accummulating beauty knowledge, my make-up bag has hardly accummulated any “glamorous” beauty essentials.

I envisioned a classic, red lip for my husband’s soiree. But I didn’t feel like my drug store Wet ‘N Wild shade of red was going to fit the bill. So I headed to Sephora to get professional help.

I have read different shades of red look good on different skin tones. What I learned at Sephora is, that’s not necessarily true. I found, just like in fashion, similar rules apply in make-up: wear what you feel confident and beautiful in! Yes, there may be some shades that look better on some skin tones ideally, but if you’re looking for a bold, fire-engine red, then you need to get a bold, fire-engine red. My best advice: let the make up counter experts lead you in the right direction. After that, make your own judgments about color/shades if you want to brave the drug store options.

Here’s my before (which includes make-up, but no lipstick.  I don’t know all of you well enough to go bare-faced yet):

Here are the shades that were in the running:

1. Icon by Hourglass: a true lipstick that I liked. It went on smooth and made me feel glam, but I thought it might be a little too bright. I had to continue…

2. F-Bomb by Urban Decay: You will be hard-pressed to ever hear me drop the f-bomb, but I admit, I was attracted to the name. I really loved the color as well! This was also a tube lipstick that felt smooth. But I wanted to see what some other options were. So I moved on…

3. Fiery by Stila: This came in a tube with a wand like a lip gloss. It went on wet, smooth application and dried matte. I really loved the matte finish because I felt like it wouldn’t end up on my teeth after the first time I opened my mouth! A definite contender!!

4. Mysterious Red by Nars (not available): a fat lip pencil. I really loved this color! It was probably my favorite, but..oops! It was sold out and they didn’t realize it when they showed it to me. But, it was for the best because I wasn’t a huge fan of the pencil. If my lips are chapped, it does not make for a smooth application.

Soooo…The shade I ended up taking home was the Stila in Fiery. It was $22. I love how it is applied with a brush, not a tube or pencil. I feel like I’m just putting on my regular gloss, but it dries matte! It stayed on all night with only a little fadng in the center of my lips.

Here’s the before and after (I must mention, after applying and re-applying four shades, my lips were a little raw! hence the puffy look):

For the record, my husband and children prefer my “before” look. The red is certainly not my go-to choice for going out, but it doesn’t hurt to have fun, branch out, get glamorous!

And…after I got all dolled up (with a flattering flash that hides my flaws), here is how my look came together the night of the party. To check out my outfit for the night, check me out on Instagram!

I do have to give props to the gentleman who helped me at Sephora, but I will have to add that later because I have to track down the card with his name on it!! oops!

But, I’m so glad I ventured out and tried something new. I felt like I really needed a little boost to get me excited about make-up again! Smooches!

Affordable (Yes, Affordable!) Holiday Gift Guide

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When I see these holiday gift guides online, I am just like…what?! Gifts under $100? Gifts under $50? That’s fine and all, but I’m looking for something a little bit more budget friendly. So, I decided to make it my mission to find great gift options for under $25! I believe that’s manageable for most.

(Anyone can find handsoap and candles, so I did my best to keep those off the list)

My Piperlime Picks (I love this website for myself, and you’re supposed to give gifts that you would want for yourself, right?):

Kate Spade socks // Pim + Larkin necklace (get additional 50% off with code GIFT until 12/15)//Hive and Honey Gold Wheel Hoop Earrings //Tinley Road Faceted Stone Earrings

Anthropologie Affordability:

Coco Chanel: An Intimate Life // Polka Dot Potholders // Gilded Borders Jewelry Box

Spreading J.Crew Joy (additional 30% off most items using code: GIFTNOW through 12/24/13)

Pinch Provisions for J.Crew Emergency Kit // Glitter Notebook // Stamps and Ink Pad

My Forever 21 Finds:

Disco Earphones // Metallic Rhinestone Phone Case // Stress-Free Head Massager

And, these are just some random items I’ve come across that I thought would make fun gifts!!

Hex Amber Leather Earrings by The Grey Button // Donut Leggings (via @kristina_bor on Instagram), sold at JCPenney (not available online) // Kiss the Cook Apron H&M

Here are a few other options for great gift ideas:

C. Wonder, Francesca’s, Windsorstore and Lulu’s

There’s one thing I recommend NOT getting your friends: Anything Christmas-themed! I always wonder why I am receiving a Christmas platter or towels for Christmas when it’s too late to use them by then!

I hope your holiday giving is filled with ease. And I hope your holiday receiving will make you cheese (you, know…as in smile really big! I’m sorry, that’s the best I could do)!

Confessions of a Budget Buster

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This month, I prove I’m only human. A shopping-loving human. And I’m confessiong my shopping sins. Right here, right now.

Even though my November budget was long gone, I couldn’t resist Black Friday. I thought I could just forget about the sales. I thought the sales wouldn’t be that great and I could resist them. I thought wrong. I couldn’t even wait until Black Friday!!

The week BEFORE Thanksgiving, I was in Target and spotted a blazer that happened to look AWESOME (in my opinion) with the outfit I had on at the time. In a moment of weakness, I bought it. For $25 (sold out online). Here it is:

Now, there could be one caveat. I haven’t worn it and still have the receipt. So, if it gets marked down soon, I will purchase the cheaper one and return my current one. I’m scandalous, I know! But I said, I’m sharing confessions here.

Then, I spent another $22 on a floral print blouse I had been eyeing at the J.crew Factory store ever since I saw J’s Everyday Fashion sport it.

I considered getting it with my Grand Haul funds, but still couldn’t bring myself to spending $50 on it…even if it wasn’t $50 of my own money! So, I snatched it up the Wednesday before Thanksgiving when their Black Friday sale was ALREADY STARTING! I’m telling you. It’s going to be called Black Week before we know it.

Then, anyone who’s anyone knew Old Navy was having 50% off the entire store Black Friday. I couldn’t resist.

My son needed another pair of jeans. My daughter needed a new non-dressy jacket. And because I am a sucker for “50% off,” I got a few more things, but I plan on returning them, because in hindsight, I think I can get better deals elsewhere.

Now, I do need to confess something else: belated birthday money. I asked my level-headed, practical, and financially sensible older sister if it would be cheating to use my birthday money for clothes. She said, “no.” All I needed to hear. No need for a second opinion when the first opinion is exactly what you wanted to hear, right? But I still felt a little guilty, although I think I can work past the guilty because….drum roll, please….I made Christmas wish #1 come true! I bought a feather skirt!!

Piperlime had a Black Friday sale of 25% off. Plus I found out I get another 15% for using my Banana Republic Luxe card. So, I got it for $65 (currently sold out)! Now, my level-headed, practical, and financially sensible older sister did not think this was a wise purchase. It’s not something I’ll get a lot of wear out of. But my justification: I haven’t seen a skirt like this under $100 and it is something I’ve been wanting for over a year now, so I couldn’t pass it up. Not to mention, I can style it different ways, so even if I wear it to different functions, I can still make it seem new for years to come.

I spent the rest of my birthday money at Forever 21 where they had 50% off markdowns starting the Wednesday before Black Friday! This is what I got:

1. Some probably too-cool-for-me open-toe booties ($14). 2. Plaid leggings ($4-sold out) that I will be devoting a whole other post to because they are way more versatile than I ever thought they could be. 3. A high-low sleeveless top ($6-sold out) to pair with the leggings so my booty isn’t all “out there.” 4. A red blazer ($12-sold out) I had been wanting to add to my wardrobe–let’s just ignore the fact that it is technically peplum and call this a fit and flare blazer (I have been trying to avoid jumping on this peplum bandwagon).

Now, back to my basic budget expenses. I had to have the right accessories for the feather skirt, so I bought a belt at a local shop for $14. And I had to get some new bling! I scored a necklace on Lulus.com for $6 (they had 40% off on Cyber Monday, if memory serves me)! You’ll have to wait on pics for these!!

Most of these purchases were made at the end of November, so I just decided I will deduct them all from December’s budget…which kind of makes my purchases honest, right?? That leaves me with $7 dollars to spend the rest of the month!

How can I possibly manage when Christmas outfits must be planned? And what about all those post-Christmas sales?

I am predicting further weakness in my future, so I plan to do some further compensating in the New Year that involves something relatively new to me: thrift/consignment shopping. That’s coming in February!

Let me know what you think. Is it cheating to use Christmas money to shop in December?