My Super Awesome Birthday Haul!

20130827-203409.jpg

A couple weeks ago I celebrated a birthday, but not just any birthday..my 30th. Yikes. Luckily the blow of a new decade was softened by the sweet, sweet cushion of birthday perks! I’ve never been the person who asked for gifts and ever expected to receive them so I can honestly say I’m always surprised. Now a little fact about me is that I love perks, and birthday time is the absolute best time to cash in on them. I’m on way too many beauty mailing lists to count but I always look forward to the flood of birthday offers in my inbox every year. So let me start off with the awesome free birthday extras I received this year!

20130827-205530.jpg

20130827-205720.jpg

20130827-205802.jpg

My first little gem was a totally whimsical and adorable, my family and I after a long day of shopping we stopped by Trader Joe’s where my son proudly announced to anyone who would listen that it was birthday so a very lovely employee had him pick out a glorious bouquet of flowers for me which did get me a little choked up!
Next were my birthday extras from Ulta Beauty. Ulta has a great rewards program that gives you points for purchases and also slips you goodies on your birthday. This year I received a huge handful of samples. First I received an amazing gift trio from Laura Geller that included a baked powder foundation, some berry lip gloss and their signature “spackle” makeup primer. My favorite of the trio is most definitely the foundation, while it doesn’t give me enough coverage I find it perfect for setting my concealer. The other perks I got were a very rich pomegranate hand cream and a small sample of Smashbox primer (I already have a few of these samples, but I love the product so bring it on.). Ulta did not disappoint this year!
Lastly we have Sephora. Sephora also has an amazing beauty rewards program and what I got this year literally made me squeal. I am a Benefit girl through and through, I think their products are amazing and I have yet to find a dud in their incredible line so color me over the moon when I saw that their birthday perk was a little benefit kit including a travel size of “they’re real’ mascara (check out my previous review on this mascara) and a travel size tube of “watts up” highlighter which are two of my favorite Benefit products. While I was there I figured I’d go ahead and cash in my beauty points because right now they are offering Lancôme eye serum as a beauty reward and I couldn’t pass it up!
I also did take advantage of Benefit brow bar birthday service where you get a free eyebrow service for your birthday and I couldn’t be happier with the results.

Saying that my friends and family are amazing is a great understatement. I honestly owe everything to them, so to receive gifts from them after all they have given me already is surprising. That being said, these are the incredible things I got.

20130827-211628.jpg

20130827-211701.jpg
First I got some incredible handmade jewelry from my bestie, She is an amazing girl with a awesome art background and I swear everything she touches turns beautiful. My favorite part about these pieces she made me were the personal touches, the evil eyes. Some of our best memories together is the summers we spent at the Greek festival.
And then there’s my dad, to say he goes over board does not cover it. He gave me an iPad. He is one if those men who has worked his ass off for 40 years just to do things like this, and I love him.

20130827-212428.jpg

20130827-212459.jpg

20130827-212516.jpg

Lastly we come to my dreamy husband and kids. If you were to ask him he would tell you that he is simply “feeding my addiction” because it is no surprise that I am a beauty product hound. How did he know what to get me? He listens! Every time I gush about a new product I want to try he takes mental notes. This year was quite the shocker, the Urban Decay Naked pallet is something that I’ve wanted in my makeup collection forever now and that fact that I actually get to touch it, and use it is incredible to me, and I have to say I was not let down ( I will be giving you my full opinion plus some looks from the pallet in the future so stay tuned for that!) Next he got me three of the  OPI for Sephora collection nail polishes which I’m obsessed with, and last he got me The Balm Stainiac which is such an incredible cheek and lip stain which I always wanted to try, and I’ve had so much fun playing with it.

So that is all for my birthday bonanza run down. Full disclosure I am absolutely not bragging, I am genuinely surprised, touched and amazed by all of the birthday love I received so I only found it fitting to pass the love onto you.
Here’s to the next year!
Kate

Advertisements

My Birchbox: August 2013

It’s that time of the month again, when all the stars align and the birds are chirping and my lovely Birchbox makes it’s way to my doorstep. In case you don’t know what Birchbox is, it is a monthly subscription service that sends you 4-6 beauty and lifestyle samples (and sometimes full size products!) for you to try and review and it only costs $10 a month, and what is really great is that for every product you review you get 10 points which equals to one dollar, so basically you get $5 a month to spend at their store. I’ve been saving up my points for something nice and I think I have about $25 worth to spend. Just for girls? Nah! They now have boxes for men so everyone can join the fun.

Depending on the beauty and lifestyle info you fill out on your profile determines what samples you will receive that month and also depending on their theme. This months theme was “Finishing School” so it’s all about getting a fresh start to a new season.

Now lets get down to my box. I recieved 3 samples, one full size item and lifestyle extra which isn’t to shabby. I’ve had this box for a week so I’ve been able to really test the products and give you a fair opinion, so lets get to it!

First sample I grabbed was the Dr.Jart+ Premium BB cream. Right off the bat I was pretty disappointed with the tiny sample size but I still gave it a good ole’ try. This product claims to even out skin tone while is contains SPF and antiaging benefits, so right away I’m hooked. Now I have to be honest, I am not a BB cream fan, I find them to be oily and not very long lasting. This one however went on smooth and didn’t leave my skin feeling slick, in fact, this is the first one I tried where I didn’t have to layer foundation over it. Unfortunately I can’t tell you about benefits because the sample was too small to tell. This will not be a full size purchase for me because the price isn’t what I would spend on a BB cream but if you are looking for a really good one, this might be for you.
* Dr.Jart+ BB Cream retails for $39 for a full size

Next we have the Jasmine Seven Fresh Foot Wipes’. This was the product I was least excited about because while I understand the idea behind cleaning your feet off during the day, they just don’t work for my life. By the time I get home and get my shoes off I’m in the shower anyways. I did, however, find them as a nice excuse to get my husband to massage my feet. They claim to soften your feet with aloe, peppermint and vitamin e and while that might be the case they just have no use to me so, big dud.
*Jasmine Seven Fresh Foot Wipes retail for $25.95 for a full size pack

Next I got the Number 4 ‘Super Comb Prep and Protect’. This is a leave conditioning spray that also protects color and protects from UV rays. I have to say I loved this product. I really felt as if my hair was being protected, it didn’t feel as dry after a day in the sun and it did make my hair easier to comb through and the sample size I was sent was a really nice size as well. The only downside for me was the smell. It was an almost overwhelming cocoa butter smell which isn’t my favorite, but I have to say the pros outweighed the con. Best of all it only takes a couple little squirts to saturate my hair so I feel this sample will last me a while!

*Number 4 spray retails for $32 for a full size

Last product I recieved was a full size lipstick! ModelCo Party Proof Lipstick in “Disco Fever’. It was a beautiful matte lipstick in a very wearable peachy orange shade. I was worried that it would go on too orange but it actually has become my favorite shade to wear because it really compliments my olive skin. Plus is was full size, so it was practically the cost of the box entirely (this did make up for the DUD foot wipes!) I also found this lipstick to be very buildable and super pigmented and lasted a good amount of time.  I will probably find myself repurchasing this brand.

*ModelCo Party Proof lipsticks come in a set of three and retail for $24

Now we come to the lifestyles extra. This is a little something extra that Birchbox likes to pass on to their subscribers and this month I got the TanTowel. TanTowel is a self tan towelette that claims to give an even natural tan with just a swipe. I do not tan, I do not sun tan, I do not self tan. If I ever need some extra glow I always go to my Lorac tan lotion so I was nervous about this one, but it was a bonus so why not. It takes a few hours and up to a day to see the full effect and I didn’t know if it was me and my lack of tan knowledge but it left giant streaks on my arms. As suggested I did shower and exfoliate before hand so who knows. On the plus side, it didn’t smell funky and was easy to apply so maybe this will work for a tan enthusiast.

*TanTowel wipes retail for $24 for a full size pack

So that’s it for my August Birchbox, I have to say that it wasn’t my favorite because I feel like I got a few things that aren’t new to Birchbox and stuff I’ve seen other bloggers talk about getting in their Birchboxes months and months ago and I’m all about NEW NEW NEW, so we’ll have to see how next months box shapes out!

If you’re interested in learning more about Birchbox shoot over to their page, and while you may not always be happy with a product or two, half the fun is trying new things and making an opinion of your own. Also, if you got a box this month let me know below what you got and how you like it! Don’t forget to subscribe because I just had a big birthday and oh man did I get spoiled with products from the hubby so I will give you all the rundown soon!

Lots of love!

Kate

Birchbox Homepage

Decorating on a budget

As a mom on a budget I find that I have to get creative when it comes to making our home nice. It no secret that I have on obsession with mason jars. Every flee market or thrift store I visit I always seems to pick up a mason jar (or two…) so I thought, why not transform them into a lovely table scale? Best part of all the whole thing cost me under $8! Here’s how!
First I got the jars, three of them in various sizes and designs from the thrift store for a total of $2. While I love the look of them, I wanted to transform them into something a little more high end. There are many way to do this, there is paint, glitter, ribbon and so on. I went with paint. At my local home wares store I picked up two paint samples, blue and turquoise, for around a dollar each. I painted the inside of the two larger jars with each color and mixed them together for a complimentary color for the smaller jar (sorry for the color jargon, I went to art school!)
As for the flowers, I just picked up a couple of yellow and white stems from the dollar store and simply trimmed them to size. I only put them in the larger jar, we end up using the smaller jars for little trinkets we find, or a place to keep our keys. And last we had to table runner. I think our home style is ‘bringing the outside in’ heavily inspired by nature. I saw inspiration is these amazing table runners at The Pottery Barn but of course they ran for a ridiculous $70. So I figured I would just make my own and it was a lot easier than you make think. I bought a yard and a half of this lovely green fabric from the craft store for around $2 and the make it easier I didn’t even crack open my sewing machine. I used some sewing adhesive instead and only used it to hide the edges because I liked the slightly rustic look.

All that was left was to put it together and sit back and enjoy. I am constantly getting good feedback on them and my family loves them as well. Let me know down below what inexpensive perks you have made to your home! With little time and money you really can transform a space. I think I’ll attack my bedroom next….
Happy Blending!
Kate

My weight loss story.

Today I have something a little different for you. While I often struggle with which shade of lipstick I’m going to wear I have faced a bigger struggle in my life, and that’s my weight.
Being over weight wasn’t anything new to me, I grew up with a chef for a father and as a child food represented comfort and love and not nutrition. I spent all my time that I wasn’t in school at my father’s restaurant and I basically would eat all day. It only got worse when I moved out of my parents house at 18 because I was constantly looking for that comfort in food and ironically I never learned how to cook for myself. On top of that I was newly married at 21 and moving far away from my family so the stress led me right into food oblivion.
I never realized how bad it had gotten until I got pregnant with my first child when I was 25. I was at high risk for diabetes but for some reason that wasn’t enough to scare me. I didn’t truly see the consequences of my poor choices until mothers day 2010. My mother snapped a shot of me and I was absolutely mortified (to this day I still use that picture as my before shot as you will see below.). I had it.
I started taking regular fitness classes and after a month I didn’t feel any different then it clicked, change how I eat! Changing my eating habits was the hardest part for me because I had to completely change the way I see food, and that’s where myfitnesspal came in.
Myfitnesspal.com was a life saver, literally. It kept track of all my calories and weight loss as well as give me tips and a ton of support, best of all it was free. I went from eating cheese omelets with bacon and toast everyday to eating egg whites and turkey sausage. Once I had the tools I felt unstoppable. Then comes the weight loss. In a little under a year I loss close to 70lbs (I don’t know the exact number because I was afraid to step on the scale for the first couple months.)
As great as I felt sadly it didn’t last.
I became pregnant with my daughter Nathalie in 2011 and this time I was determined to stay healthy and really maintain my weight but that wasn’t in the cards for me. A few months into the pregnancy I was told that my child wasn’t getting any nutrients and could be in danger so I threw caution to the wind and ate, and ate and ate and I DON’T REGRET IT AT ALL. As much as it sucked to have to take giant steps back, my kids come first.
So here I am a year later. I gained about 30lbs back, so I’m not where I was but I’m nowhere near where I started, so that keeps me hopeful. Weight loss really is a life long struggle and I do not believe in fad diets or quick fixes, you have to change your view on food completely and really start making better choices. Inspiration? My David and Nathalie. It is so important to me that my choices inspire their good choices.
I hope you enjoyed my story, and it really is never ending. Leave me some love below if you’ve had similar struggles or are looking to get healthy because I am a true believer in support. So go forth and make smart choices (don’t get my wrong I do from time to time get down with a big burger but I usually pair it with a nice long bike session!)

Happy Blending!

Kate

 

My Husband Did My Makeup.

Hey ya’ll (who am I kidding I’m from NY I can not pull off a ya’ll). Anyways…for those of you who don’t know, I am married to the most awesome guy ever who lets me be silly and loves me for it. 11 years together and 2 kids later we have found the secret to keeping it fresh: just be completely ridiculous together.
We are known to run out and jump in the rain, or have a late night dance party. Its all about the fun, so when I asked him if he would do my makeup for a blog he jumped on it.

I have to say I was quite surprised. The only time I started to freak out was when he picked up my beloved blending brush and started to dip it in my bronzer. He certainly went for it, he even attempted liquid liner and used my Lancôme mascara which has a difficult wand to work with. All though he did invent this new move where he would stand behind me to apply the mascara which is totally scary.
It literally took an hour and came out pretty well, I was shocked. He told me that he has “paid attention” over the years. Totally cute. This is why I appreciate my husband so much, he is always willing to be a little crazy with me no matter how much embarrassment it causes him.
So enjoy our live-action shots of the fun and as always, happy blending!
Kate