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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.


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Finally, a day where I feel like I’ve got it somewhat under control

Finally, a day where I feel like I’ve got it somewhat under control

Since I have the tendency to share every word I think and every tiny thing I do with the entire internets, I not-infrequently find myself in a situation where a friend is about to embark into the wild world of working-parentdom, and they sweetly assume that since I have not had a public meltdown in the last four years, I have some little bit of wisdom to impart about how to “balance” work and life.

Here’s the wisdom: I have no idea what I’m doing. None of us do. There is no “balance,” there is only triage, and just barely enough time to get the most demanding emergency under control before moving on to the next one. I fly by the seat of my pants. I do the best I can, but I usually have too much exhaustion and too little patience.

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Today, though. Today was OK.

Mr. Beez and I both work jobs where our time is not entirely our own, meaning that we can’t make it to every class party or even know for sure whether we’ll be available or not on a particular day. Baby Beez is at an age where sometimes she cares and badly wants us there, sometimes she couldn’t care less. So I try to keep an ear open and follow her lead. If she doesn’t say she wants me to be at something, I don’t worry much about it. But if she says she want me to be there, I do try to make it happen.

Today was the class trip to the pumpkin patch. She’s been talking about the trip all week, about how she’s going to RIDE THE SCHOOL BUS and get to pick a pumpkin and, did I mention, RIDE THE SCHOOL BUS. She never mentioned any interest in me coming with her, so I did not pay much mind. What do you need mom for, when you get to RIDE THE SCHOOL BUS?

This morning, I trudged through the brutal morning tasks of making the lunches and feeding the pets and dressing the child and dressing myself and doing my hair and makeup and getting in the car. Although my morning was to be spent working at my desk, I had a hearing scheduled for the afternoon, so I was in a suit.

As we rolled down the hill to her school, a tiny voice peeped from the backseat, “Mommy, will you come to the farm with me?” She was so earnest, I couldn’t say no. I didn’t have time to go back for another outfit, so I went to the farm in my business clothes. I got hay dust on my pants and mud on my shoes. But she was so glad I was there as she snuggled up in my lap on the hayride. And even if I looked a little shabby when I got back to the office, it was worth it.

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As with many 4 year olds, often the idea of an outing with Baby Beez is far more appealing than the outing itself. I will imagine us exploring museum exhibits or singing together at a kid’s music performance, but the reality ends up full of whining, covered in boogers, and with me desperate to unload the kid and go hide on a couch with a book. Today, though, it was all in sync. She was happy, I was happy, she found a lumpy-bumpy pumpkin in the patch just like she wanted.

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We had a sweet morning together. Today, it worked out ok.

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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.

american-horror-story-freakshow-ch-2

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.

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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 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

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V-Day Miscellany

Happy Valentine’s day! Or as I like to think of it: Happy Chocolate-Has-No-WW-Points day! In the Beez family, we are celebrating the holiday with take-out from Szmidt’s, because nothing says LOVE like lovingly made sandwiches and pierogies. For serious, I am looking forward to dinner tonight big time.

Last week I failed to make a crock pot meal, so I did two this week. The first was Crock Pot Chicken Cacciatore from Skinnytaste. I dumped a bunch of dried red pepper flakes in there, which made the dish even more appealing to Mr. Beez. It was too spicy for me, but I evened that out with a hearty dollop of sour cream. On the whole this recipe rated “Good,” meaning I’ll keep it handy as something to make now and then and mix up the variety, but it hasn’t been one of our absolute favorites.

Crock Pot Chicken Cacciatore

The second crock pot meal was Slow Cooker Loaded Potato Soup from Baked by Rachel. This recipe was supremely easy, and Mr. Beez declared it to be “amazing.” I don’t think he’s ever called anything I’ve made “amazing” before. Not even our kid. He was all sheepish about wanting to eat all the soup, and I was like “listen, it takes like 2 minutes to throw together, and I have all the ingredients to make another pot. Chow down.” Needless to say, this recipe is going to stay in heavy rotation, especially with all these polar vortices we keep having.

Slow Cooker Fully Loaded Potato Soup

Am I the only one who thinks today for whatever reason is a perfect day for ROD STEWART ALL DAY LONG?

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Number 9 in 10 to 10

From ye olde blog archives

Proposal Story for Those (if any) Who Are Interested

February 15, 2008

Mike and I have been talking about getting married and actually making pretty solid wedding plans for quite some time.  I just had to keep my mouth shut until he did the actual proposal.  Keeping my mouth shut is VERY HARD FOR ME.  I sort of subjected him to constant harassment in the form of “So when’s it gonna be? Huh? Huh? Huh?” Poor boy.

So he told me he was NOT proposing on Valentine’s Day.  I believed him, because there had been times in the past when he said “I am NOT going to propose on X day” and X day would come and go, and I’d be all sad because I thought he was saying he was NOT going to propose because he really WAS going to propose on X day.  So after going through that a few times, I learned a lesson to believe him when he said he was NOT going to propose. And then, in a clever maneuver of psychology, this time he said he was NOT going to propose on Valentine’s day, and then he DID propose on Valentine’s Day.

It was near the end of the workday when the receptionist came in to my office and said flowers were delivered for me. I, being a total brat, was like “Damn RIGHT he sent me flowers! This is Valentine’s Day! Bring on the flowers!” (I am a jerk)  Unbeknownst to me, Mike was actually in the office, hiding in the receptionist area.  He then popped into my office, and I was all surprised and happy.  Him just showing up was exciting for me.  He then gave me a present from his parents (a cute bear in a giant coffee cup).  Then he gave me a little box of chocolates, with no hazelnut filled chocolates (I hate hazelnut).  Then he gave me a card.  The card has a male and female blow up doll on it, with the male blow up doll proposing to the female one (who looks disapproving), and the card says “It’s the thought that counts, Unfortunately, Vince was thinking cubic zirconia”  So as I’m reading the card and smirking, he says “Do you know how much I love you?” And I’m like “VERY VERY MUCH” and then he got down on one knee and said “I love you so much that I want us to be a family”.  Of course I was all shaking and grinning and silly.

Then, because I’m classy, I leaned back in my chair and yelled down the hall to a secretary, “HEY TERRI! GUESS WHAT MIKE JUST GAVE ME!!!”
And because I work in an office full of women, there was lots of shrieking and oohing and ahhhing and so forth.  And then the boss let me go home early. Hooray!!

As we were leaving I tried to call our families.  I got to talk to Mike’s parents and my grandparents, but no one else in my family would answer their f$%$%^& phones.  I finally got through to my brother, but I didn’t get to speak with my mom or dad until after dinner.  (We went to Bona Terra– easily my favorite restaurant in the ‘burgh– and had a delicious meal with entirely too much wine.  I’m hurting a bit today).  Mike had spoken with both of my parents in the last few days to get their blessings, and my dad was especially happy about that.  My mom burst out into tears when I told her that we had already spoken with my Rabbi here, and yes, he would do the wedding, and yes we are having a Jewish (well, interfaith Jewish) wedding.  She was bawling.  I think that was her favorite part.

So yeah, it was a pretty damn good Valentine’s Day.  I’m really excited about going home for the weekend now, because it means that I can finally talk about all this stuff with my Mom.  It’s been killing me to have to keep it all secret from her.