Hello Pretty Bird! - A beauty and not-so-glamorous lifestyle blog: April 2014

30 April, 2014

Use It Or Lose It: April 2014 Sample Edition

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Hey, did you notice that April's almost over? That means it's time for another... drumroll please... USE IT OR LOSE IT! (Insert audience cheer!)

In case you're not familiar with my Use It Or Lose It series, here's the deal: Each month I select a few beauty/personal care items I've been hoarding in my stash and vow to either use them up and review them or throw them away! I chose five things this time - all samples this time, baby. To the critiquecopter!

Weekly Poll: Cactaceae, Dreams, and How to Succeed in Business

Happy end-of-the-month, everybody! Has April 2014 been everything you could have hoped for and more?

Today's poll post will probably be sort of weird because it was inspired by a bout of inner conflict. Do you ever have moments when you wake up and basically realize that you have no idea why the hell you're doing what you're doing? It happens to me sometimes. (And no, that's not the poll question.)

I think this is probably a natural symptom of getting older. When you're really young it seems like every single insane idea you have about the shape your life could take is actually a possibility. Time goes by and you forget about some of those things, but then occasionally you'll wake up from a dream in a cold sweat and be like "OH MY GOD, I NEVER FINISHED THAT COMIC STRIP ABOUT THE ANTHROPOMORPHIC CACTUS!!!" Or whatever. That's been my experience, at least.

Anyway, all this contemplation led me to think of this week's poll question...

If you had to start your own small business (or side business) right now, what would it be? It doesn't have to be realistic. Bonus points if you can come up with a name for it.

Putting aside the obvious choice of Freelance Astronaut Agency, I think it would be really interesting to develop and design games. Of course I have really mediocre artistic skills and basically no programming skills, so I don't think that's actually going to happen. Since this is a fantasy anyway, I guess I might as well make my business a hybrid games design/Elvis impersonator training school/bespoke nut milk bag business, because why not? I'm still not sure what I'd name such a venture, but it would probably have to do with cacti. If I dreamt about a cactus then why shouldn't it be representative of my Dreams?

PS The supple succulent pictured above is Cleistocactus Winteri, in case anyone was wondering. I took the photo at Kew Gardens in London, in case anyone wants to feast their eyes upon the same cactus I once spent an afternoon pondering.

29 April, 2014

Review: LANEIGE Multi Cleanser (now available at Target)

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Are there any avid double-cleansers out there reading? If so, this post may be of interest to you.

LANEIGE Multi Cleanser ingredients

For those not familiar with the process, double cleansing basically just means using two cleansers (usually one oil-based and one foamy or milky cleanser) to better remove makeup, sunscreen, and excess face grime at the end of the day. Since double cleansing is a very common concept amongst Korean brands, I was intrigued when I read the product description for the LANIEGE Multi Cleanser, which suggests that this product can effectively remove makeup in one go.

Want to know if it works? Let's find out...

28 April, 2014

Lucky Girl Hair Ties Review + GIVEAWAY! (Via ShopLately)

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***UPDATE: The giveaway is now closed. The winner has been selected and displayed below.***

Hands up if you currently have a Shoplately obsession - I know I do. I was browsing around their hair accessories section recently when I discovered Lucky Girl Hair Ties, a maker of EXTREMELY adorable elastic hair bands - I'm a big fan of elastic-type bands as they don't rip or dent my hair like more traditional ones do. Anyway, I was pleased to discover that Lucky Girl's wares were not only adorable but also very affordable - yay! I picked up one of their Grab Bag bundles to test out, plus an extra set to give away to one of the lucky folks out there reading. That's right, it's giveaway time!

Warning: This post is sort of picture-heavy after the jump. Lots of sexy hair elastic closeups ahead.

27 April, 2014

FORK IT: Tea Sparrow Monthly Tea Subscription

Press Sample

My relationship with tea and subscription boxes is tricky. I sort of hate it when teabags appear as random filler in my beauty and "lifestyle" boxes - I'm kind of picky about my hot beverages and the dregs that usually make up those random teabags are not at all what I want to drink. But what if there was a subscription that only sent out high-quality, thoughtfully curated loose leaf teas? Good news - such a thing exists! Say hello to my little friend, Tea Sparrow.

Tea Sparrow Monthly Tea Subscription

25 April, 2014

Indie Friday: Darling Clandestine #3 - Scents of Summer

Bought It

Insert "I can't believe it's already Friday"cliché here. But really, where did this week go?

3 Darling Clandestine fragrance oils bitsy bitsies vials Carny Wedding, Harpy, and BĂȘte Noire.

For this week's Indie Friday I thought I'd talk about a few of the "summer" scents that just popped up in the Darling Clandestine shop. I realize I've been talking a lot about indie perfumes lately, but since some of them are seasonal or limited edition I wanted to mention them while you can still buy them. Makes sense, right?

23 April, 2014

Weekly Poll: What's Cookin', Good Lookin'?

It's Wednesday and I'm eating cold, leftover soup for lunch. That seems appropriate somehow. Which brings me to my question of the week...

Do you know how to cook? If so, what's the dish you're most confident in making? If not, what do you wish you could make easily?

I know how to make a lot of different stuff, but one thing that never seems to fail is lentil soup - I've yet to meet a single person who didn't like it. Not that exciting, but a crowd-pleaser for sure. This was on my mind because I was showing my boyfriend how I make it yesterday - his somehow came out a totally different color than mine usually does, but it still tasted good, so high fives for him.

If I had to choose something I didn't already know how to make, I'd say an angel food cake without eggs. For a long time I didn't think that was possible, but then I read this blog post about making meringue with flax - mind blown.

22 April, 2014

Vegan Cuts Beauty Box - April 2014

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Another day, another subscription box. Back to the sample-opening grind. It's tough work, I tell you. (OK, maybe not. But ripping open tiny packets can be hell on the fingernails.)

vegan cuts beauty box april 2014

The box of the day is Vegan Cuts Beauty, which was my overall favorite of all the beauty boxes I received last month. Will it achieve the same high standard this time? Only one way to find out...

#fmsphotoaday April 2014 Challenge - Photo Roundup 3/4

Another week has passed, so it's time for more silly photos. Can you handle it?

I used my BlackBerry for all of them again this week, which I guess means that I've been more concerned with creativity than actually enhancing my photography skills. Oh well! The experience has been amusing, at least.

21 April, 2014

Vegan Cuts Snack Box April 2014 Review

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Do you ever have one of those moments where you are SERIOUSLY craving something salty and crunchy, but you don't have anything salty and crunchy, and then like a miracle your magician of a mailman shows up out of nowhere with your monthly Vegan Cuts Snack Box? Well, that's what happened to me today. And it could happen to you too! Want to know if this box is worth it? Keep reading...

Vegan Cuts Snack Box April 2014 unboxing

20 April, 2014

FORK IT: 5 candies I wish I got in my Easter basket

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Happy Easter, everyone who celebrates!

Easter is not a holiday that I really have much personal experience with, but I appreciate that people use it as an excuse to give each other candy. Candy is nice. And given today's holiday, what better subject for my weekly food post than Easter candy? Not that I got any in my nonexistent Easter basket, but if I were to, these are the things I'd want.

19 April, 2014

ShopLately Haul + 5 Awkward Ways to Wear a Scarf

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Happy Saturday, y'all! Since spring is (sort of) upon us now, I decided to pick up some lightweight scarves in fun patterns from ShopLately. Do you like fun patterns? I like fun patterns. I also thought I'd share some of the more awkward ways I decided to style those scarves, because I enjoy making a fool out of myself for your amusement.

18 April, 2014

Indie Friday: Nic Cage Fragrance Oil + a story (sort of)

Bought It

Today's Indie Friday post is going to be short and sweet, or more accurately, short and manly. Unlike Nicolas Cage, who stands at a reasonably statuesque six feet.

I bought the Nic Cage Raking Leaves On A Brisk October Afternoon fragrance oil (by OHWTO) that you see above ages ago, forgot I had it for a while, then recently rediscovered it in my pile of smelly treasures. Whether or not you like Nic Cage (or memes involving Nic Cage) this is actually a nice fragrance, so I thought I'd write a little bit about it.

Review: Bulu Box Weight Loss - April 2014

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I love the middle of the month because that's when most of my subscription boxes show up. This may sound childish, but it's like getting PRESENTS! Christmasanukkah in April! And who wouldn't like that? The most recent "gift" to hit my mailbox was the April Bulu Box - ooh, what wonders lie within?

Last month I got both the standard Bulu Box and Bulu Box Weight Loss for comparison purposes, and I liked the Weight Loss box more, so that's what I'm going with for now. Just in case anyone was wondering.

17 April, 2014

Ipsy Glam Bag - April 2014 Review & Swatches + Dinosaurs

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Good news, everybody! My April Ipsy bag arrived yesterday. Time for more fun beauty discoveries and another lonely tale from Dinosaur City.

ipsy glam bag april 2014 beauty box

Don't be sad, lady dinosaur. We've got a whole bag of beauty goodies to play with.

16 April, 2014

Cate & Chloe VIP Membership (Jewelry Subscription Box)

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Alright subscription box lovers and lovers of shiny things, listen up: Today I'm pleased to introduce the Cate & Chloe VIP Box, a subscription service for elegant jewelry. If the idea of getting sparkly new jewelry twice per month sounds appealing, keep on reading - this service is actually pretty affordable.

Cate & Chloe VIP Membership Jewelry Subscription Box

Weekly Poll: Nailed It

Happy Wednesday everybody! Hope your week is going well so far, and that if you've been having cold rain showers (like we did yesterday here) they haven't been ruining too many of your spring flowers.

Today's question is for anyone who has ever worn nail polish and is fairly simple:

What's on your nails right now? Or if they're bare, what do you wish was on them?

My nails are not bare thanks to a heavily chipped application of ELF "Raspberry Sorbet" polish, but I'm thinking I ought to repaint them later tonight. Maybe with the color I just got in my Birchbox.

How about you? What are your nail realities and/or fantasies?

15 April, 2014

Birchbox - April 2014 Review & Unboxing

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My April Birchbox arrived today. This month's theme is "Rainy Days" - how apropos, considering what a rainy, gloomy mess today's weather was. My solution? Bust out some pretty cut flowers.

BAM! Spring has sprung. Now that all the gloom and doom is out of the way let's move onto the box, shall we?

Review: TONYMOLY Backstage Gel Eyeliner (black)

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I have a confession to make: I own a gazillion eyeliners, but 90% of the time I just use the same one (Wet n Wild black Megaliner, in case anyone's curious). My favorite eyeliner has remained as such for a long time because it's cheap and very pigmented, but there is one little problem - it's not waterproof. Not a big deal for everyday wear, but I'm still searching for an awesome waterproof black eyeliner to wear whilst scuba diving. (Or going out in the rain. You guess which scenario is more accurate.)

I read some good reviews of TonyMoly Backstage Gel liner around Ye Olde Internette, so I decided to give the black one try and test it's scubabilities. Will it survive a deep sea dive (in my kitchen sink)? Keep reading to find out...

#fmsphotoaday April 2014 Challenge - Photo Roundup 2/4

Another week, some more silly photos. Want a glimpse into my personal life? Here's a little peek... sort of.

I used the camera in my BlackBerry for all of this week's pictures. So much for mastering my DSLR camera. Speaking of which...

14 April, 2014

My Weird Wishlist: Beauty... IN SPACE!!!

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Happy OH CRAP TAXES ARE DUE day, everyone! Will you be getting a refund? I'm getting a small one so naturally I've started to think about all the interesting things I could purchase with it.

Today I thought I'd share a few interesting beauty items I've come across recently that all have something in common: They're out of this world! Get it? Har har. (Someone stop me now, please. Think of the children.) Do you have a tax refund burning a hole in your virtual pocket too? Well, here are some spending suggestions for you. You're welcome.

Deal Alert: Total Beauty Mother's Day Collection Beauty Box - $29

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Just a quick deal alert for you: I recently got an e-mail with coupon codes for the Total Beauty Mother's Day Collection beauty box, and it seems like an especially good deal, so I thought I'd share.

Here are the particulars:
  • The box contains over $110 worth of beauty products and $80 worth of bonuses (detailed below)
  • Price: A mere $29 (including shipping) if you use coupon code MOM at checkout
  • Want two boxes? Coupon code MOM2 gets you two boxes for $55

Box contents:
  • pur~lisse pur~moist Hydra-Balance Moisturizer - Full Size, $55 value
  • Advanced Body Care by ME! Sugar Scrub - Full Size, $40 value
  • Advanced Body Care by ME! Bath-Bath Soak Mini - Mini, $4 value
  • Tata Harper Rose Floral Essence - Deluxe Sample, $5 value
  • Montagne Jeunesse Face Spa Mask - Full Size, $2.49 value
  • ALFAPARF Cristalli Liquid Serum - Deluxe Sample, $4.42 value
  • Neutrogena Naturals Lip Balm - Full Size, $3 value
  • BONUS: $50 Gift Card from NakedWines.com
  • BONUS: $30 value 8"x10" Canvas Lite Print from MailPix.com

Whether or not you plan on buying this box in celebration of Mother's Day, it seems like an interesting assortment of items at a very reasonable price. You can find more information about the individual products and order the box here.

What do you think of the Total Beauty Mother's Day Collection box? Have you tried any of these things before?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. For more information, check out my full disclosure policy.

13 April, 2014

Foodstuffs: Naturade VeganSmart + making nutrition shakes tasty

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Just FYI, starting this week I'm going to be doing more regular (probably weekly) posts about food. I haven't thought of a clever name for this series yet, but it will be all about things one can ingest. If you have any suggestions/requests for posts related to that topic feel free to leave them in the comments.

 Naturade VeganSmart chocolate vanilla chai

Naturade recently sent me some samples of their VeganSmart All-In-One Shake, so I thought thought this would be a good time to talk about nutrition shakes: Why use them, how to make them taste the best, and of course a quick review of the flavors that Naturade provided to me.

11 April, 2014

Indie Friday: Ginger's Wild Handmade Soaps

PR Sample

Happy weekend, everybody! For this week's Indie Friday, I'm pleased to be featuring some bathtime treats from a company based right here in Brooklyn: Ginger's Wild!

ginger's wild soap co. etsy

10 April, 2014

Crazy Rumors Lip Balm Review + Cheap Deal Scenarios

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OK lip balm addicts, listen up. This post is for you. Today I'll be sharing a couple of mini reviews of Crazy Rumors' awesome lip balm (reg. $3.49-$4.99 each), plus a couple of deal scenarios so you can stock up on the cheap. Why is it awesome, you ask? Well, you'll just have to keep reading to find out!

09 April, 2014

Beauty Box 5 - April 2014 Review & Unboxing

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What's up, Beauty Box 5? You surprised me by showing up in my mailbox today. I feel like you're a bit early to the party this time, but the subscription box party is one where I really don't mind early arrivals, so yay!

This month's theme is "shades of beauty" and the card says something about looks that need leisurely layering - ooh, does that mean it's going to be a makeup-heavy box this month? Let's dig in and find out.

Weekly Poll: In Bloom

Hey, happy it's-actually-starting-to-look-like-spring, everybody!

Today's question comes to you via Stan, because he likes to be involved with this stuff sometimes. It's cute. He asks:

What's your favorite kind of flower?

How seasonally appropriate. Or at least it is if you're located in this part of the world. I'm going to say roses, but not just any roses - Osiana roses. I worked in a flower shop years ago so I got familiar with a bunch of different rose varieties, and Osianas stand out in my memory because (a) they're pretty and peach-colored and (b) they actually have a nice fragrance, which isn't the case of all commercially bred rose varieties.

How about you? And if you want to to just say "roses" without getting into variety specifics I'm not going to chase you down flower pamphlets.

08 April, 2014

Giveaway Alert: Win a FeelUnique Gift Card! (International)

***UPDATE: The giveaway is now closed. The winner has been selected and displayed below.***

It's been a while since I did a reader giveaway that was open internationally, eh? Well here we go.

Review: LANEIGE Water Bank Serum & Water Bank Moisture Cream

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I was excited when I found out that the LANEIGE Water Bank Serum (aka "essence") and Moisture Cream were to be among the products hitting the shelves at Target, because I had previously purchased them from Korea and really liked them. I never reviewed them though because... I don't know why, actually. How about we do that today?

Review of LANEIGE Water Bank Serum/Essence and LANEIGE Water Bank Moisture Cream

07 April, 2014

#fmsphotoaday April 2014 Challenge - Photo Roundup 1/4

Well, I'm back from that place I went to but didn't really explain what it was! The short version: My mother's friend rented a beach house in New Jersey to throw some epic week-long birthday bash for her, and my sister and I went down for a couple of days so we could have a family party. Bear in mind that my mom just turned 65 and has some arthritis, so "epic" refers mostly to the amount of sitting done and cheese and crackers consumed (not by me). She seemed to have fun though, and that's what matters.

Because I was away most of my photos from the week were (a) taken on my so-so BlackBerry camera and (b) of things around the Jersey Shore, which is not my normal environment. I don't suppose it matters much but that's the deal.

04 April, 2014

BRB - Here are some amusements in the meantime

I have to go out of town and I'm not sure if I'll have reliable internet access where I'm going, so this space will be quiet for the next couple of days. Also, my LANEIGE giveaway ends tomorrow night at the stroke of midnight, so don't forget to get those final bonus entries in! I'll be picking the winner when I get back on Sunday or Monday.

This creepy giraffe lives in my neighborhood. Why does he have a tophat?!

I know my absence will leave an ENORMOUS void in your internet lives (cough), so here are a few amusing things I think you should look at in the meantime:

Conan O'Brien Becomes A Mary Kay Beauty Consultant
I'm sure all the independent beauty consultants/beauty bloggers out there could learn a lot from this video.

Did you get addicted to 2048, but find yourself wishing that there was a version with more Shiba Inus? Well here ya go.

Metal Cats - Hardcore Metal Musicians Pose With Their Cats
Exactly what it sounds like. Awesome photo series.

What's on the menu?
A collection of digitized historical menus from the New York Public Library.

Why You Should Never, Ever, Ever Get A Tattoo (but Having a Baby is Fine)
A piece for anyone whose parents have ever hassled them about contemplating a tattoo, then turned around and said "WHERE'S MY GRANDCHILD?!"

See y'all later.

03 April, 2014

Introducing the Perfect Beauty Tweezers Flower Collection

PR Sample

People with eyebrows (I'm guessing that's most of you), how do you groom them? I've always been a plucker, not a waxer or a threader. What you see of my brows in photos is usually pretty close to their natural shape, but I get random stray hairs here and there, and tweezers are ideal for removing them.

Perfect Beauty Tweezers Flower Collection

Today I'm pleased to introduce Perfect Beauty, a beauty tool company based right here in Brooklyn, NY (which is where I live, in case you hadn't figured that out.) I'll be sharing a few facts about the company and their products, so read on if you're in need of some new tweezers!

Subscription Box Flops & Favorites - March 2014

Affiliate Links Bought It PR Samples

I feel like I've been receiving a lot of subscription boxes lately, so I thought it might be to fun to start compiling lists of what my most/least favorite products from the various boxes were. I don't have time to review every single individual product that comes in every single box, so hopefully this list will help identify which subscriptions are sending out the most interesting stuff over time? Maybe.

Great deal on Simple® Beauty + an exclusive Saturdate at Walgreens


I don't know about you, but I have an EXTREMELY sensitive sense of smell. I can handle light scents in skincare products some of the time, but when my nasal allergies get really bad I need to reach for something fragrance-free. Seeing how it's spring that's been happening more often than usual lately - fun. Thankfully, Simple® Beauty makes skincare products that are free from artificial perfumes - perfect for sensitive skin or people with sniffly noses like me. Plus their products are very affordable! I've been keeping their Refreshing Facial Wash Gel on standby near my shower.

Speaking of things being affordable, there's a great sale on Simple® products at Walgreens starting this Sunday:

Buy two or more participating Simple® products at Walgreens from 4/6/14–4/12/14 and get 3,000 Balance Reward Points (equal to a $3 reward). Also, when you buy one participating Simple® product at Walgreens, the second one is 50% off with your Balance Rewards Card. Two great deals that go great together!

But wait, there's more! There's also a very special event happening on the 12th:

On Saturday, April 12th, 2014, you can visit Walgreens and participate in their Saturdate with Beauty event from 10am-5pm. There you'll have an opportunity to test out the new Simple® Ultra Light Gel Moisturizer and Simple® 24-hour Nourishing Cream, plus learn more about the Simple® range, which of course is free from parabens, dyes, artificial perfumes and harsh irritants.

But that's not all! On Thursday, April 10th, @ResourcefulMom will be hosting Simple® Saturdate with Beauty at Walgreens Twitter Party from 8pm to 9pm ET. Ten participants will win a $50 Walgreens gift card - yay! Just follow the instructions/RSVP here and follow the #SimpleSaturdate hastag on Twitter to join in.

What are your favorite Simple® products? Will you be participating in the Saturdate/Twitter party?

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Global Influence. While I was compensated for my time, the opinions expressed above are honest and my own. For more information, check out my full disclosure policy.

02 April, 2014

Review: Pixi Flawless Beauty Primer

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Pixi Flawless Beauty Primer, you sneaky trickster. I'm sure a lot of you out there reading have already seen this since it was one of the picks for the March Ipsy bag. I've seen mixed reviews of this product, but I think it might actually be my favorite thing from the bag. Why? Because REASONS. OK, I'll elaborate a bit.

Pixi Flawless Beauty Primer review

Weekly Poll: Fantasy Lunch

Happy mid-week day, everybody! (Or almost mid-week day if you live in one of those places that starts the calendar on Mondays.)

It's nearly 11AM here in New York, so I'm starting to think about what I'd like to have for lunch. Mmm, lunch. Realistically my options will probably be something like soup or crackers and hummus, but a girl can dream, can't she? Which brings me to my question...

If you could have anything at all for lunch today, what would it be?

Feel free to swap out lunch for dinner if that's more time zone-appropriate. This may sound odd, but I think I would like to have sushi (avocado rolls) AND pizza at the same time. Not necessarily on top of each other. Though I bet avocado baked on top of a pizza would actually be really good.

How about you? What's your fantasy lunch? Will your dreams come true today?

01 April, 2014

Monthly (not-just-beauty) Favorites - March 2014

Bought It PR Samples

So I guess March is over, huh? Maybe I should do one of those "favorites" lists I keep seeing so much about.

I actually found a lot of new things to love this month, but I'll be keeping this post brief (well, brief for me) because I plan on doing a subscription box-specific favorites list in a couple of days as well. Good to know which subscriptions are providing the best samples, eh? But for now, a look at some items that are larger in scale...

I'm doing the #FMSphotoaday challenge this month! Care to join me?

I'll admit it: my photography skills aren't great. I'm not bad at it, but I could be better. I've decided that doing a photography challenge might be a fun way to practice my skills, or at least to make my Instagram account a little more interesting.

This month I'll be doing the Fat Mum Slim Photo A Day challenge because I like how open the prompts are. Simple as. I will be blogging these photos in weekly (not daily) installments so as not to drive myself insane with too many blog posts, or you can follow me on Instagram, where I will be uploading most or all of them.

Aaaaaaaaanyway. To kick things off, here's the first one...


Regular readers of my blog have probably noticed by now that I have an abundance of plastic dinosaurs. Is that weird? I don't know. I picked up a whole bunch of dinosaur earrings a while back but forgot I had them until recently... they're a bit heavy for everyday wear but look quite amusing once they're on (example here). Pictured above is one such purple dinosaur earring, jumbled up for your amusement. You're welcome?

If you plan on doing this (or any) photo challenges this month let me know in comments! I'd love to see what you get up to. :)

e.l.f. Essential Lip Balm Tint Review & Swatches

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You may already know this because ELF is sort of notorious for sending out a ridiculous number of promo e-mails, but they're having a 40% off sitewide sale until 11:59 PM PST tonight. Good deals to be had, yo. I thought I'd share a review and swatches of their new-ish Lip Balm Tint pots, which at $2 for 0.141 oz./4.0g of product are quite cheap even at the normal price. Deals upon deals upon deals.

e.l.f. Essential Lip Balm Tints in Peach, Grapefruit, Berry and Nude

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