NaBloPoMo Day 19: New Beauty Toys @Clairsonic

I know  am well behind on the Clairsonic bandwagon.  I was skeptical about whether it was worth the cost, or if it was even all that necessary since people have been washing their faces without one since the beginning of time, and I was worried it was going to be messy and drip water everywhere.  My mom got me the Mia 1 for my birthday, and I have found that it really is quite nice.


I was happy to find that it was not messy at all. The brush builds up a nice lather, but it does not drip water everywhere. I felt like the brush’s pulsations got my face squeaky clean.  The pulsations were a nice gentle massage for my face, which was a nice luxury at the end of the day.  Do I think a Clairsonic is an absolute necessity for clean skin? No. But I do think it is delightfully luxurious and a nice addition to my beauty routine before bed.

I only learned how to properly blow dry my hair about 2 years ago (before, I used to rough-dry it into a mess of frizzy waves, then flat iron it all out, resulting in a pathetic, limp head of hair).  I use a t3 Featherweight Luxe 2i hairdryer which I am moderately obsessed with, even going so far as to bring it with me when I travel because I do NOT want to use another dryer. Other dryers just do not measure up. I have been using the round brush that came with it, but I have a lot of hair, and my hair is very thick, so even with the fast work of the t3, it can still take a while to dry (imagine how long it would take trying to dry my hair with a standard hair dryer…)

Round Brush

I finally made the jump to a large-barrel ceramic round brush. I think it is 2 and 7/8 inches diameter.  I did my first blow out this morning, and it was a DREAM.  I can dry larger sections of my hair much more quickly, and I only have to run each section through once (I often had to run them two twice with the smaller brush).  The sections came out even smoother, but with a nice curl at the end.  I had rough-dried my hair the night before and slept with a braid in, so all that was left to do was the final dry by sections. The process took maybe 10 minutes. It was wonderful, and this brush is my new obsession.


NaBloPoMo Day 17: Holiday Party Time

Most of the holiday parties I go to are right after work, so I have to take the day-to-night outfit approach. Usually sparkles and sequins are too much to wear in the office, even with all the holiday cheer. This means that I usually end up wearing some kind of black ensemble to about every holiday party I go to. Still I can’t resist window shopping for sparkly things.  I’m in love with all the gold and rose gold stuff out there right now. These are my top picks for party wear this holiday season, and not an ugly sweater in sight!


Sea of Gold Sequin Maxi Skirt at Nasty Gal

French Connection Tulip Hem Gold Dress

French Connection Tulip Hem Gold Dress

Champing at the Glitz bag from ModCloth

Champing at the Glitz bag from ModCloth

Mustard Seed Tulle Skater Dress with Sequins at Charlotte Russe

Mustard Seed Tulle Skater Dress with Sequins at Charlotte Russe

La Vida Luxe Heel at Modcloth

La Vida Luxe Heel at Modcloth

Banana Republic Monogram Gold Fit & Flare Dress

Banana Republic Monogram Gold Fit & Flare Dress

Jaded London Sequined Mini Dress with High Neck & Long Sleeves at asos

Jaded London Sequined Mini Dress with High Neck & Long Sleeves at asos


On important things, like cosmetic gift sets and @Birchbox and @Sephora

I spend entirely too much time thoughtfully analyzing the comparative benefits and drawbacks of Birchbox vs. Sephora.

Through Birchbox’s subscription service, I’ve become more open minded and experimental with my make-up, and have even dared to try new perfumes that I would have otherwise ignored. Birchbox’s points reward system is also an amazing value. Seriously, amazing. Through it, I have scored some awesome discounts on very high quality products. Also, Birchbox is the exclusive merchant of the Beauty Protector Protect and Detangle spray, which is hands down one of my favorite hair products ever.  Through Birchbox’s sample subscription, I’ve been introduced to a ton of products that I otherwise would have simply ignored. My favorite discoveries through Birchbox, in addition to Beauty Protector, include DDF Ultra Lite Oil Free Moisturizing Dew, Benefit Benetint (not to mention discovering that Benefit is my absolute fav. makeup brand), and Stila Stay All Day liquid lipstick in Beso. The Stila lipstick is a BOLD red that I would have never tried on my own, had it not showed up in my monthly sample box (so I thought, what the heck, it’s here, might as well try it). It pushed me way out of my makeup comfort zone, but I got SO many compliments on it, that it has inspired me to be a lot more adventurous with makeup.

Sephora’s reward points are good, but not as good as Birchbox’s. However, when it comes to the holiday gift set selection, Sephora wins. I look forward to holiday time every single year, because I WANT WANT WANT everything. Also, Sephora carries some brands (like Make Up For Ever) that Birchbox does not. And I can make a quick run down to Sephora when I’m out of something, since there are several Sephora stores in Pittsburgh.

Because I love nothing more than window-shopping online, I have gathered here my best picks to fill the 8 days of Hanukkah with Sephora gifts this year. Shop away!!

1. Fresh Sugar Cravings Kissing Trio

sugar gift box

If you haven’t tried Sugar’s lip balms yet, you are missing out. They give a nice little hint of color (perfect for when you’re doing dramatic eyes, and want to have a little lip color, but need it to be toned down), and they have this AWESOME screw-on top that means that I don’t lose the cap in my purse. The texture is silky, and not too waxy or goopy.

2. Mia 2 Pure Glow Holiday Gift Set

mia 2 holiday set

I have to admit, I hate washing my face at night. I do it of course, but it’s a giant pain in the butt. I’ve tried those face washing wipes, but they don’t quite clean enough. Everyone I know who has gone the Clairsonic route raves about it. There are a number of different models out there. I have no idea what the difference is. I picked this gift set because it contains Philosophy’s Purity face wash, which is the face wash I absolutely swear by, because it keeps even my nasty, lazy skin in healthy condition. So somehow in my mind that pairing means that this is the Clairsonic model I approve of. But probably any Clairsonic model is better than what I do now, which is begrudgingly slap soap and water on my face and then get all mad about getting water around the sink.

3. Korres Beauty Shots Ultimate Mask Collection

korres beauty shots

If I could have things my way, I’d get a facial every 3 weeks or so. But facials are expensive, so a fancy mask is a nice alternative. I’m all into grapefruit everything right now, and have yet to meet a Korres product I do not like. This mask collection appears to me to be the best of all worlds.

4. Sephora Glitz & Glam Party Essentials Sampler

Sephora Glitz & Glam

Party time, yes PLZ! My usual NYE involves going on our annual double-date dinner with the Orange Chair Blog crew, and then coming home to fall asleep on the couch before the ball even drops. But with the fun and excitement of prettying myself up with a sampler like this, I could get excited about staying up past 10pm!

5. Make Up For Ever Beauty Kit

Make UP for Ever Beauty Kit

Make Up For Ever’s products are so simple and unassuming, but they are so freaking good and dramatic. I love that this set is perfectly composed for a fully-stocked travel bag, when you want to have good, reliable options when you’re out of town.

6. L’Occitane Almond Indulgence Duo

LOccitane Almond Indulgence

I’m not the most cheerful person in the morning, but the sweet cookie smell of an almond scented shower can’t keep anyone grouchy for long.

7. Deborah Lippmann Party Mix Nail Lacquer Set

Deborah Lippmann

My nail polish collection has gotten a little out of control, but really, there is no such thing as too many nail polishes. Especially when you get into the fun textures and color combinations.

8. Atelier Cologne Travel Spray Trio

Atelier Cologne

Seriously, have you smelled Atelier Cologne’s orange sanguine cologne? O. m. g. It is the most lovely spicy wonderful scent ever. I can’t get enough of it. I also can’t consistently remember to put on perfume in the morning, so a travel size is just the right size for me (or else the bottle will just get too old before I can use much of it.)

Honorable mention: T3 Featherweight 2 & Living Proof Gift Set

T3 Featherweight 2

This set gets an “Honorable Mention” because I already own a T3, but still wanted to mention it, because OMG THIS HAIRDRYER CHANGED MY LIFE (and I didn’t even know a hairdryer could change someone’s life). Here’s the thing with professional hairdryers- they are HOT. Which means they dry FAST and they blast the humidity right out of your hair. The result– once Mr. Beez got me this fine machine, my usually frizzy and out-of-control mane was silky smooth, with minimal product. I love it so much that I bring it with me whenever I travel, because hotel driers just don’t stand up anymore.


October feelin’

Welcome to October! I haven’t felt much like blogging lately. Maybe it’s because I’ve been very busy, using up all my brain and my words during the day. Maybe it’s just because I’ve been more interested than reading words than writing them lately. Maybe it’s just because we haven’t been out to too many new restaurants lately, so that usually abundant stream of inspiration is not so abundant right now. But even though I’m not writing as much, I’m still here, I’m still reading, I’m still kicking. And here are some things on my mind tonight:

Page Dairy Mart’s last day for the season is scheduled for October 24. Sad. Even though the chocolate chip cookie sundae is di-vine (featuring Nancy B’s cookies), my favorite and go to is coffee soft serve with hot fudge and whipped cream. I need to stop on down there to get one last treat before they’re gone for the cold months.

Page Dairy mart Chocolate Chip Sundae

American Horror Story starts again tonight! It’s the only show that I regularly watch. My favorite season was season 1, but this whole circus thing looks especially creepy. I like to think I like scary things, but in real life I’m a giant crybaby and get too scared. American Horror Story tends to be just the right level of scary for me (meaning it tries to be scary, but isn’t really scary). Relatedly, my husband has banned me from ever watching a Paranormal Activity movie ever again, because he’s not a fan of being up all night while I cry over nightmares.


My birthday is next month. If all yinz guys wanna bake me a cookie table, I won’t complain. Also, I think the fact that 99% of the pictures I pin on Pinterest are baked goods is not helping me any with my (failing) efforts at losing weight.

I’ll be going on a mini solo trip this weekend to Washington DC to run the Army 10 Miler. I’m going to basically have an afternoon ALL TO MYSELF. I’ve already booked a trip to the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa, and I think I’m going to go see Gone Girl (yes, because I drive 3 hours to go to see a movie that I could see at a movie theater 2 miles from my house) and go to bed early, because I am a WILD woman. But when you’re running 10 miles around the Pentagon the next day, hiking all over to sight see isn’t the wisest idea anyway.


Autumn clothes are my absolute favorite. Sweaters and cowl necks and boot socks and all things lovely and warm. Things I want want want:


Want want.

I just downloaded Hollow City, which is the sequel to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and am very excited about reading it. Spooky!

Hollow City


There she is, #MissAmerica

When a party’s a spinoff party, you know it’s gonna be good.

A few years ago, Sandy invited me to a Miss America party. The women who planned it had been throwing the party for many years, and decided they didn’t want to hold it anymore. After a year without pageant mockery, I couldn’t take it anymore, and I told Sandy we must must must throw a Miss America party ourselves! So we did!

The basic idea: All ladies party. Champagne a flowing. Since the pageant itself is on a Sunday night and we all work jobs where a Sunday night party is not a good idea, we DVR’d it, and threw the party the Saturday following the pageant. Each attendee signs up for a state, and builds a costume (whether pageant or state-themed is up to her). Each attendee brings a dish. There is a talent show. There are prizes. There is a crowning of Miss America. It is marvelous. And it was.

We started the evening with a marvelous red carpet. I was the reigning Miss America, and my job duties included looking faaaaabulous (look at that BIG HAIR) and crowning the winner!

Miss America

h/t to Rent the Runway for the faaaaabulous duds. Have you heard lately how much I love RTR? Now you have. Love it.

Our lovely guests began arriving, and with them, their lovely dishes. I didn’t think of this at the outset, but everyone made state-themed food! And it was amazing! Some things were the “official” adopted foods of the state, others were just very popular local dishes. My personal fav. of the night was the cheese with guava jelly rep’ing Puerto Rico. So good!

Miss America foods

Our emcee for the evening, Alex, did a great job of shepherding the festivities. We started things off with a little parade in the living room, each Miss announcing her state and the special features of her attire.


Miss Missouri with the St. Louis Arch on her head, and Miss Idaho, covered in her state’s signature jewels!

Next up was the TALENT portion! We only had 4 or 5 participants, but this is the first year with this crowd, so that’s not bad for a start! Next year, I’m hoping we’ll have lots and lots and lots. I broke the talent show ice by lip synch ventriloquy to “Part of Your World” from the Little mermaid. Baby Beez spent most of the evening downstairs with daddy, watching Star Wars, but we did let her come up to enjoy the talent show. And enjoy it she did!

Miss Ohio's talent got nothin' on mine

Miss Ohio’s talent got nothin’ on mine

Miss Vermont did a stirring spoken word rendition of Whoomp! There it is!


Then, after watching round after round of semifinalists getting the axe, it was time to crown the winner! Miss New York took home the crown, marking a 3 year reign for The Empire State.


The group photo! Look at all these lovely ladies!!

Miss AmericaIt was so nice to be greeted with tons of facebook messages, text messages and emails about how much fun everyone had! The party simply killed it, and I can’t wait to do it all again next year!!

As a sidenote, I won the best prize of the night, of literally having the best husband everrrrrr. The day of the party, he cleaned the whole house for me (while I ran around picking up last minute party essentials), even though he wasn’t even invited! he grabbed some snacks and some champagne and spent the evening in the playroom with Baby Beez, and didn’t complain in the least. And then, this is the sweetest part, after the party was over, I collapsed in bed because all that cleaning could wait til tomorrow. He, instead, stayed up and cleaned EVERYTHING up. And didn’t even yell at me about it (and doesn’t even seem to be mad!) He said he was happy I had a good party. Happy wife, happy life I suppose? In any event, I am #spoiledspoiledspoiled. #BestHusbandEverrrr