Walmart Beauty Box

I’m not normally a big fan of Walmart, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to purchase their beauty box for the low price of $5.00. It’s a quarterly box, and there isn’t a subscription available for it. You pretty much just mark your calendars and go online to buy when it becomes available. The value of the box was worth far more than the price I paid for it.

  

 

The first item packed inside was Jergnes BB Body Perfecting Skin Cream. The shade I received was for light skin tones, which I do not have. I gave it away, so I can’t give a review on that.

  

 

Next up was the Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula lotion. I have used this in the past and loved it, so I was glad to receive it in my box. I don’t know why I expected all new products to be showcased, but I’m okay with getting tried and true products. The bottle was a generous size, but still fit nicely into my purse. The sample reminded me of how much I liked this lotion back in the day, so I’ve put it on my shopping list.

  

 

I’ve seen coupons for Loreal’s Total Repair shampoo and conditioner, but never bothered to clip them. I’m not sure why, but I never even considered trying this line. I was really impressed once I gave these samples a go. I shampooed and conditioned after getting out of the pool and was really impressed by the results. My hair felt clean without feeling stripped. This is another one that will go on the shopping list.

   

 

 

I can’t tell you what Fame by Lady Gaga smells like, because I still haven’t opened it. I have a feeling the sample will end up in my daughter’s purse at some point. I probably won’t get around to wearing it.

  

 

I was hoping Garnier’s Ultra-Lift Miracle Sleeping Cream would be wonderful, since I love their other facial products. This left my skin feeling really dry and itchy. The sample came with a coupon for $2.00 off, which I’ll be giving away to someone who actually likes the product.

  

 

I did enjoy the Burt’s Bees Renewal Intensive Firming Serum. I am a lover of all things serum-related, and wish I would get them more often in my boxes. I used this underneath my regular moisturizer and it made my skin feel smooth without feeling greasy. It didn’t irritate even a little, which was a big deal. And the fact that the sample came with a coupon for $3.00 off didn’t hurt, either.

  

 

My favorite product in the whole box was probably the Palmer’s Skin Therapy Oil. I used this on my face after cleansing before bed. It wasn’t as oily as I expected it to be. It absorbed really well into my skin and left it feeling super soft when I woke up in the morning. The downside is that I can’t seem to find it in any store. I would love to buy a bottle. I guess I’ll have to check Amazon for this one.

  

 

I’m sorry about not taking a picture of the Ken Paves Smoothing Line Regimen before I used it. It doesn’t seem fair to give this line a negative review, because it probably works wonderfully for someone with straight hair. It’s not meant for curly hair, which tends to get really dry. I lean towards hydrating hair products. I’ve never had good results from smoothing versions.

  

 

In addition to those products, I also received a coupon for a few can of Dry Spray antiperspirant (which usually sells for around $5) and a coupon for $1.00 off any Palmer’s Sun protection product. In Florida, we use sunscreen nearly all year. This coupon definitely won’t go to waste.

   

 

 

All in all, I’m happy with the box. While there were products in it that I generally wouldn’t use, the value of the things I did like were more than the cost of the box itself.

 

April 2015 Birchbox

I haven’t yet made a recipe from my many magazines as promised, but I do have a review for my April Birchbox. That counts for something, doesn’t it?

  

 

The box I received for April was the prettiest box I received so far. It was designed by Rifle Paper Company and like all other pretty boxes, I couldn’t bring myself to part with it. I’ve added it to my bathroom drawer divider collection so that I can justify not throwing it away. On to the contents of the box:

 

1.       Orange Sanguine Cologne Absolue by Atelier – $70 for full size                    

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but I can count on one hand how many perfume samples I’ve received that I actually liked. I don’t wear perfume because it doesn’t jive with my body chemistry. It never really sinks in and mellows out, just sits on the surface just as potent as it smells in the bottle. Every once in a while, I’ll stumble across a perfume that I absolutely love. This was not one of them.

  

 

2.       Super Comb Prep & Protect by Number 4  – $32 for full size

This sulfate-free leave-in conditioner did a great job at detangling my nest of hair. I go swimming almost every day, so you can imagine what the chlorine does to me. Having something that detangles well is a big plus. Unfortunately, this stuff also tends to make my hair feel dry and filmy. This is the problem I have with every product I’ve ever tried by this company, though.

  

 

3.       Just Kissed Lip and Cheek Stain by Jane Iredale – $25 for full size

I was really disappointed when I first opened this tube. As you can see, it doesn’t look like a color that would stain anyone’s lips or cheeks, but especially not mine. I was pleasantly surprised after trying it on to find that it truly does adjust to a nice, barely-there color that I prefer in makeup. Just for kicks, I also tried it on my daughter. Her complexion is a few shades darker than mine, and the stain adjusted to her skin color as well.

  

 

4.        Baked Liquid Radiance Foundation by Laura Geller Beauty – $38

Unlike the Just Kissed Lip and Cheek stain, this did not adjust to my skin tone. I don’t ever wear foundation, so I’m always sad to see it included in my Birchboxes. if it were a tinted moisturizer, it probably would have been fine. I might have been able to get away with it. But as a liquid foundation, I don’t think this color suits anyone. That is, unless you don’t mind looking like you’ve overdosed on beta carotene.

  


5.       Body Wash (Bathing With the Sharks) by Not Soap, Radio – $16

I love getting body wash in my Birchbox. I can never have enough of it. This body was by Not Soap, Radio had a light, fresh scent that mellowed out nicely. If I could have traded out every other item of my Birchbox for more of this stuff, I would have done so happily. 

  

 

The bonus item I received was a post card from Atelier. At least they got one thing right. I always save post cards because I have a slight addiction to stationary of all kinds. I don’t know if post cards count as stationary, but they still make me smile. Overall, this wasn’t my favorite Birchbox by a long shot. Hopefully May proves to be better.

  

March 2015 Birchbox 

I can’t believe how long it’s been since I did a Birchbox review. I promise, I’ll try to be more regular with it going forward. I actually thought about going back and doing one huge review on all the boxes I have received over the past year, but who has time for that?

  

 

The first item in my March 2015 box was the Elite Therapeutic Body Crème in Rosemary Eucalyptus. I prefer herbal scents to flowery ones, so this was right up my alley. The smell was nice and fresh without being overpowering. I have really dry hands, and this crème moisturizes them nicely. An 8 ounce tube sells for $19.00 in the Birchbox store, and I am considering making the splurge.

  

 

The product I was most excited about trying was the Macadamia Natural Oil Nourishing Moisture Masque. I am a conditioner junkie, and I’m ashamed to admit that I hoard it more than any other product. This masque was super thick, which I loved. It didn’t have the “slip” I am accustomed to with most conditioners, so I didn’t have high hopes for it. But goodness, the shine my hair had afterwards! I am head over heels in love. An 8 ounce jar sells for $36 in the Birchbox store. It’s a little rich for my pockets considering how often I change up my hair care routine, but I am not completely opposed to purchasing it.

  

 

The Roloxin Lift Revitalizing Facial Masque Treatment sells for a hefty $11 per packet, and I received two of them in my box. That’s more than double the amount I spent on the box itself! I had high expectations considering the price tag, but this product wasn’t for me. It is supposed to deliver face lift-like results that last for 24 hours, but the sensitivity of my skin meant itchy hives instead for 24 hours. Even after applying hydrocortisone cream, my face was full of red splotches. It’s probably an amazing product for someone whose skin isn’t hypersensitive, but it’s a no go for me.

  

 

I love getting lip gloss in my boxes. Those of you who have seen my Instagram feed have witnessed how often stuff from my boxes goes unused, but lip gloss never falls in that category. Somehow, Birchbox does a great job with picking out a suitable shade for my skin tone. I liked that the Smashbox Be Legendary gloss I received in Disco Rose didn’t feel sticky and had some staying power (at least, as much staying power you can get from a gloss). It sells for $20 in the Birchbox store. I have never spent that much on lipgloss in my life but in my experience, Smashbox products are worth the splurge.

  

 

Finally, I also received a Jelly Pong Pong Glow Getter Highlighter. I have never used highlighter in my life. I know, what a sorry excuse for a Birchboxer I am. Who doesn’t use highlighter? Me, apparently. I don’t even know how to apply it properly, even after watching a tutorial about 7 times in a row. The color complements my skin tone nicely though, so maybe I’ll just put some on my eye lids and hope for the best.

  

 

All in all, I liked my box this month. While not crazy about that Roloxin (I’ll gift that to someone whose skin isn’t as finicky as mine), the lip gloss and hair masque more than made up for it. 

 

 

This is slightly off topic, but Birchbox has been sending some beautifully patterned boxes out in place of their standard plain brown. The hoarder in me can’t bear to part with them, so I was really excited to stumble across pics posted by a fellow Birchboxer who used hers as drawer organizers. It was the best idea I have ever taken away from Instagram. Instead of having all my junk/products thrown into a huge bag and stuffed under the bathroom sink, it’s neatly organized into categories. I’m much more likely to use this stuff now. And my pretty boxes aren’t going to waste stacked on my closet floor.

  

 

Foodie Friday

I am really embarrassed by the amount of money I have spent on cookbooks and cooking magazine subscriptions. I have been a subscriber to Food Network magazine since inception and I can’t get enough of the beautiful, glossy pages. I also subscribe to Cooking Light in an effort to whittle my waistline. Try to guess how many recipes I have tried from the many magazines that line shelves at home (and at work), as well as spill out of hidden places in my closet and under the bed. If you guessed zero, you would be correct.

My husband is vehemently opposed to my renewing magazine subscriptions because none of us benefit from them currently. I have an addiction when it comes to them, though. If I don’t subscribe, I feel as though I am missing out. Unfortunately, these magazines take up space that we truly can’t afford to give up. I have since subscribed to the digital edition of both Food Network and Cooking Light, and my husband is none the wiser. At least he isn’t until he reads this blog post. Anywho, that’s not a concern right at this moment.

I decided to add a food feature to my blog as an incentive to cook my way through some of the magazines I have piled up. There are a couple of problems with this idea, though. One, I’m not a great cook. I do a pretty damned good job of eating (obviously), but my cooking techniques leave a lot to be desired. For this reason, pretty much everything we eat is baked or broiled. You can’t really screw those methods up too badly.

Another reason is that I suck at photography. We have a digital camera that I can’t be bothered with, so it sits in a box to avoid collecting dust. I have upgraded my iPhone and the newer model takes much better pictures than my old one did. The skill of the photographer still means a great deal. I don’t know anything about getting good angles, or proper lighting. I should probably do some internet research on that.

Thirdly, my plating technique is nonexistent. I browse through some of my favorite food blogs and am amazed by the photographs. Not only can these people cook well, but they know how to show you that they cook well. The most recent post I viewed had me salivating over my tablet. Perfectly seared chicken sat upon the most beautiful slaw made from purple cabbage. The selected plate and props transported me to a place at their table, able to imagine myself having dinner with the cook. My much less sophisticated plating however, will consist of chicken that was meant to be seared but actually ended up being boiled/steamed (again, thanks to my lack of know-how) sitting next to a sad pile of unintentionally sticky rice with over-steamed asparagus draped limply over the top in all its olive green glory. A sorry attempt at balsamic reduction will be splattered inadvertently on the rice and may even be dripping off the plate onto the counter. It paints a really sad picture in your mind, doesn’t it? I promise to work on this. I have found some online resources that will hopefully help me redeem myself. Until then, I ask that y’all bear with me.

Last but not least, my kitchen is tiny and not very photogenic. You see, we moved about 6 months ago. If you remember pictures taken in my old apartment, you may recall beautiful, black granite countertops. I miss that kitchen terribly. The neighborhood was less than desirable though, so staying there long term wasn’t an option. We’re in a much nicer neighborhood, but with a much uglier kitchen as a downside. The counters are not black granite, but a hideous shade of vomit peach. This is likely the result of a former tenant ruining the original countertops and attempting to repaint them with a DIY countertop refinishing kit. Just an FYI: if you have ever considered one of these kits for your own kitchen counters, don’t. The finish looks a mess and doesn’t handle heat very well. It also stains badly, and paper towels stick to it like you wouldn’t believe. Disregard my ADHD, please. Back to the topic at hand. Not only is my kitchen tiny and non-photogenic, but it doesn’t get great light either. I’ll figure out the photography dilemma behind the scenes, but I want to warn you all that this is going to be a bumpy ride for everyone. It’ll get smoother though, I promise.

I already have a few recipes picked out for this weekend from an issue of Cooking Light magazine. I’ll try to bury my tendency to procrastinate and dust off the laptop. I’ve gotten so accustomed to using my phone and tablet for everything that the laptop doesn’t get very much attention anymore. Hopefully, I’ll have some food posts up for you by the end of the weekend, in addition to some Birchbox reviews that have been sitting in a folder collecting digital dust. See you soon!

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Still At It

It’s been a really long time since I’ve done a coupon post, so please excuse my rustiness. I never really stopped couponing, I just stopped sharing my experiences. I guess now is as good a time as any for confessions: I’m lazy when it comes to blogging. My laptop has been on the fritz for a really long time now, and I can’t bear the idea of typing out a blog post from my tablet. I am trying to find a workaround, so please bear with me during this difficult time.

Anywho, on to the couponing. I try not to buy too much processed food, especially since keeping a food diary helped me discover that an overabundance of wheat in my diet was the cause of my migraines (which have pretty much ceased, except for the days that I have slip ups). Some deals are too good to pass up though.

My family loves the Multi-Seed crackers. The fact that they are gluten free means all of us can indulge. They are usually $3.49 a bag at Publx, but are on BOGO this week. I had two coupons for $1.50 off of two that I used. Instead of paying $13.96 for four bags, they cost me $3.98.image

I don’t usually buy Entemann’s products, but the kids really like their Little Bites. Publix has them on sale for 50% off, so they were $2.34 per box instead of $4.69. Throw in the two printable manufacturer’s coupons, and I ended up paying $1.34 per box.

I have never tried Special K snack bars, but they are also on BOGO this week at Publix. I also had printable manufacturer’s coupons for 50 cents off each. Just an FYI, the coupons are from Target’s website but are not Target store coupons. If I had purchased these bars at regular price and without coupons, I would have spent $11.96 for four boxes. Instead, I spent $3.98.

Chobani Greek yogurt is usually priced at $1.25, but is on sale for $1 this week. I had coupons for $1 off three, so nine containers cost me a whopping $6. How often to you find Greek yogurt at that price?

The Suja Elements was an impulse buy. I love it, but can’t quite justify making it a regular purchase at $3.99 a bottle. It’s on BOGO at Publix this week, and my store happened to have blinkie coupons next to the cooler for 55 cents off each bottle. I only grabbed two because I didn’t want to look greedy, standing around waiting for the little black box to pop out another coupon. Instead of $7.98 for two bottles, I spent $2.89.

I normally would have waited for the Almond Breeze to go back on sale (which it likely will in another couple of weeks), but I was completely out and needed to restock. It’s $3.39 for a half gallon, but a printable coupon for $1 off brought my cost down to $2.39.

All in all, a shopping trip that would have cost me $48.54 without sales and coupons actually only cost $21.

Boogie Woogie Rumble of a Dream Deferred

Fox News (and most other news outlets) doesn’t usually have anything favorable to say about Muslims, so you can imagine the shock some of us received when Geraldo Rivera spoke out regarding the media’s coverage of the murder of three young Muslims by a crazed man in Chapel Hill, NC. When most of us learned of the murders, it was by way of social media. Very few news outlets bothered to report the murders and those that did, chucked it up to three people being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Never mind the fact that they were at their own home. The outrage voiced in social media forced more major news outlets to cover the story. According to Geraldo, the reason for the lack of coverage had to do with the so-called small Muslim population in the country. I’ll go ahead and tell you why I strongly disagree.

Studies show that people tend to unite (or become friends, if you look at it on a smaller scale)over mutual dislikes. It sounds weird, but take a moment to think about events in history. National unity is never stronger than it is when there is a common enemy to hate. Widespread bias allowed slavery to accepted as the norm until 1865, and Jim Crow laws to be easily enforced after the abolition of slavery. It permitted Adolf Hitler to murder countless Jews in Germany, and it promoted the hatred of the Japanese immigrants during World War II. It now encourages prejudice against Muslims.

Allowing Muslims to be seen as a group of normal folks causes splinters in the unity that we have managed to re-establish in our country. We somehow feel safer at night when we can go to sleep knowing who the enemy is, and knowing where to direct our animosity. As long as we know what a terrorist looks like, we know who we are fighting to save our country from.

But what happens when people slowly begin to recognize the subliminal messages promoting hostility towards a particular group as a form of brainwashing? What happens when people start questioning whether an enemy is really an enemy, or a friend is really a friend? You get people who don’t trust the government to keep them safe. You get people who don’t rely the news to tell the truth. You get a nation that is no longer bound by mutual loathing of a common foe, but rather fragmented by disheartenment and skepticism.

This is why you won’t see Craig Hicks labeled as a terrorist. This is why you won’t hear about the torching of an Islamic school in Houston unless you are tuned into social media. The murder of the 15 year old Somali immigrant in Kansas City, while labeled a hate crime, won’t be called an act of terror. Not only were the perpetrators not Muslim enough to be crowned terrorists, but the lives of the victims weren’t quite valuable enough for these abhorrent acts to be publicly condemned. But you’d better believe if the tables were turned and Atheist, anti-theist Crag Hicks was murdered by his three Muslim neighbors, something as implausible as a parking dispute would never have been mentioned. The three Muslims would have immediately been deemed enemies of the state, with no other explanation taken into consideration. Sean Hannity and Bill Maher would have demanded that all Muslims apologize and loudly denounce the acts of terror. As it stands though, those figureheads were deafeningly silent.

When my kids ask about the general opinion the public holds regarding Muslims, I give them the most optimistic answer possible because I don’t want them to lose faith in humanity. I only hope that one day, those won’t be lies I’m telling them.

This Year

I don’t usually fall into the hype of setting resolutions for the New Year. For me, it’s almost like putting into words the things I plan to fail it. I’m ashamed to count how many years I vowed to lose weight, only to fall off the wagon by the time March rolled around. But then, I realized my goals weren’t specific enough. Sure, I wanted to lose weight. But what was my plan to get there? It wasn’t until I put a detailed plan in writing (and actually stuck to it) that I started to see results.

Since I am a master procrastinator, I am just now figuring out what I want to work on this year. It wasn’t difficult to come up with a list, which I’ll undoubtedly add to in the upcoming weeks and months.

1. Run at least one race each month. I went through a few of my favorite websites and added some of my standby races to my 2015 calendar, in addition to stumbling across many others that really caught my interest. I’ve made it known that I would love to do another half marathon, but it would be really awesome if I could do two. Since January is finished, I guess I have to do two races this month.

2. Be more consistent with meal planning. When the extra weight was melting off of me, it had a lot to do with preparing my food ahead of time. Each Sunday afternoon, I set my Gladware containers up on the counter and filled them with measured portions of whole grains, lean protein, and veggies. Having a set meal plan kept me away from the vending machine at work. When I slacked off on planning, my weight loss came to a standstill.

3. Sew something at least once a month. I have loved sewing ever since Aunt Margie showed me how to sew in straight lines on her Singer. There’s something gratifying about being able to turn a scrap of fabric into something usable. My sewing machine has collected a lot of dust lately, mostly because JoAnn Fabrics will suck up your entire paycheck with the prices they charge. A few fellow bloggers have pointed me to the internet for ordering fabric at discounted prices, so I can’t lean on that excuse anymore.

4. Take photography lessons. Most likely, this will occur via YouTube. I don’t have hundreds of dollars to give someone so they can teach me how to maximize my iphone camera. I know that the photography on my blog sucks, and I’m really trying to change that. I have a few resources to explore, so y’all should see some improvement in the near future.

5. Use the pins I’ve pinned. I believe there should be a support group for Pinterest Addicts. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying Pinterest. However, there is something wrong with spending hours each month pinning projects that never actually get done. Of course Pinterest makes everything look super easy and by the time I finish scrolling, I feel confident enough to build my own home and all the furniture that needs to go inside of it. I can’t guarantee that I’ll be successful at completing any of the projects I attempt, but I’ll share them with you either way. It should provide some comedy, if anything.

6. Finally mail off those Pay If Forward in 2012 gifts. But before I do, I need to add a little something for 2013 and 2014 as well. I really do appreciate everyone’s patience.

Did you notice that “More Frequent Blogging” didn’t make the list? That’s because I don’t believe in setting myself (or y’all) up for disappointment. But we’ll see what happens.

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