Friday, November 14, 2014

My Foray into Fashion Part #2

Part #2: The Insane 10 Piece Wardrobe Challenge

The next step (more on part #1 here) began last night when I watched this video that my husband sent me (of course he didn't watch it, he doesn't have a problem with too many clothes!)

Accepting this challenge has become my first steps into fashion with my new body.  One of my dear friends continually affirms me by reminding me that I am too beautiful to wear clothes that don't fit right or that don't make me feel absolutely fabulous.   In a sudden whirlwind, I finally began purging all the clothes that no longer fit, are not age appropriate, do not make me feel fabulous, and are simply taking up space in my closet.

My husband came into our bedroom to find the majority of the contents of my side of the closet piled on top of our dresser.  He kept me company while I sorted through my drawers, and various containers of clothes that I had hidden away for those "just in case" moments.  He cheered me on through the process, and supported me in letting go and getting rid of these mounds of clothes that reminded me of a body I don't have or an age that I'll never be again.

I sorted my mounds of clothes into three piles:




I've thrown out the trash.  I've dropped off that pile at Goodwill.  I've ordered my ThredUP bag and already mailed everything off!

This is what is left in my closet! 

Do you see all the crazy space between those hangers?  Its a happy day in the Laughing Scholar Apartment!

And so I begin a new journey into fashion.  I am hoping that what Jennifer shared about focusing on my core wardrobe will help me find my own style, and discover how I want to express myself at this point in my life.  I've also learned that I need more color in this wardrobe!

So begins my journey into fashion.  I hope you'll stay tuned for more episodic highlights of this journey!

How have you dealt with changes in your body throughout your life?  What has worked for you?  What didn't work?  What thoughts did this post spark for you?  Who has helped you on your journey toward self-acceptance?  I would love to hear your thoughts!  Please comment below.  This is a safe space.

Monthly Obsessions (Skincare)

I have combination skin.  My skin has shifted from extremely dry toward a bit more greasy in the T zone depending on the time of year.  I'm constantly looking for products for exfoliating and cleansing as well as moisturizing.  I love playing with eye makeup so my makeup remover needs to be amazing to make me happy.  Here are five of the skincare products I'm obsessed with this month:

Ecotools Pure Complexion Facial Sponge - Sensitive Skin


I decided to finally try out this new craze - the konjac facial sponge.  I love this thing!  It has a soft, yet oddly squishy, texture when wet.  I love using it with various facial cleansers.  Not only does the konjac help create a nice lather with most cleansers, it also gently exfoliates.  I love being assured that all of my makeup is removed each night by using this lovely little product.  I found it at my local Target for about $5 on sale and I had a $1 off coupon.  You can find all types of konjac sponges out there, so I recommend finding the one that fits your needs and budget.

Burt's Bees Natural Face Essentials - Peach & Willow Bark Deep Pore Scrub

I've been in love with this scrub for years.  It has bits of willow bark to exfoliate and finely ground peach stone to gently polish your skin.  I must warn you that this exfoliator is not for the faint of heart; its quite heavy duty.  I usually use this a few times a week.  What I love most is that it is also extremely moisturizing.  This product leaves my skin feeling smooth, moisturized, and very clean!  This product is usually easily found at Target, Whole Foods or other natural grocery stores as well as Burt's Bees website for about $7.

Maybelline New York The Flash Clean

Oh my goodness!  This is seriously the most amazing makeup remover I have ever used.  I bought this little gem on clearance at Target, and it does not disappoint!  It claims that it is a 3 in 1 makeup removing lotion that removes, cleanses, and moisturizes.  The Flash Clean definitely delivers on its claims.  It bulldozes through my heavy eye makeup quickly and without lots of rubbing.  No red eyes for me!  It also works very well to remove the rest of my makeup as well.  I'm very aware of making sure that my skin is totally clean before I go to sleep so this little item helps achieve that goal.  I'm going to have to find a new supplier since I haven't seen it on the shelf at my local Target.  It usually costs about $5.

Simple Replenishing Rich Moisturizer

I got this sample size with a box of q-tips a few months ago.  Like I've said before, I'm a sucker for small bottles!  Anywho, while this product packaging is beyond busy, once I got past all of the green ink covering the bottle, the actual lotion is very lovely!  It is smooth, light, with a pleasantly faint scent.  My skin loves this stuff, especially during the day.  I don't feel like I'm going to sweat this off during the day, but I also don't feel like my skin will start flaking in its usual dry spots either.  Its seriously, perfect for day time use.  Finally, I love how far this product stretches; I only have to use an amount equivalent to about one coffee bean.  This brand is pretty widely available.  I usually score this one at my local Target for about $10 for 4.2 oz. Simple also publishes coupons in Sunday newspapers pretty regularly, so definitely keep your eyes open for those if you're wanting to make this purchase even more budget friendly!

Burt's Bees Natural Face Essentials Soap Bark & Chamomile Deep Cleansing Cream

I love the hint of Menthol in this cleanser.  My face often feels very greasy when I wake up in the morning, and this cleanser powers through that icky feeling without drying my skin.  Its gentle enough to use daily, but I usually use it in the morning.  The menthol can be pretty strong if you use this product near your eyes, so its not the best cleanser for taking off the last bits of your eye makeup at night. Overall this cleanser has a lovely thick and creamy texture that leaves my skin feeling very clean but without a dry/ tight sensation.  I found this at my local Whole Foods for about $7, and I used a $1.50 rebate on ibotta to reduce the overall cost.

Have you used any of my latests skincare obsessions?  What are your thoughts on these products?

What are some of your latest skincare loves?  Where did you purchase them?  What kind of skin do you have?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Liebster Award and Nominations!

First, I want to thank Kelly of SimplyKelina for nominating me for this award.  I love her friendly blog!  The color scheme is so happy, and she demonstrates a lot of attention to detail.  I enjoy her writing style that is open and honest as well as insightful about products.  I definitely encourage you to spend some time reading her posts!

I am so incredibly honored!  I am also really excited to share with all of you a little bit about myself, and also bring some great new blogs to your attention.  As many of you know, the Liebster Award is an award that is passed from blogger to blogger.  It is a wonderful way for bloggers to encourage and support one another as we all grow and develop as bloggers.  Through the Liebster Award and the One Lovely Blog Post Award we learn about one another as bloggers and as people.  Additionally our readers learn about exciting new blogs that are emerging in the blog-o-sphere!

11 Random Facts about Me:
1. I am allergic to Aloe.  No, I'm not joking.  Aloe Vera on sunburned skin for me is like thousands of fire-ant bites on top of the sunburn.  I can stand it in a few products, but never lotion.  That means products with aloe won't show up in my reviews very often.

2. I grew up in Georgia.  My husband and I moved to Chicago, IL in 2008 and then out to the Bay Area in 2011.  I love sweat tea, fried chicken, and shrimp n grits.  But I also love a good deep dish pizza, and am learning to embrace this substance called tofu - especially if its fried.

3. I've been playing D&D for the past year with a group of friends, and I love it.  Its such a great outlet.  I enjoy using my imagination, and spending time with friends . . . all without a computer screen!

4. I want to be a seminary professor and teach courses in Old Testament/ Hebrew Bible when I grow up.

5. I am obsessed with shea butter.  Chicago winters taught me the secret to happy feet: shea butter and fluffy socks.

6. My hair isn't just straight.  My hair isn't just curly.  My hair is both.  When its short I can bring out a lovely beach wave if I'm patient.  When its long I have to fight the frizz for nice straight locks.

7. I finally decided to let my eyebrows fill in, and I've never been happier with my face!

8. I recently gave up my contacts for a lovely inexpensive set of dark purple frames.  My eyes thank me everyday for this choice.

9. I am a feminist, because I believe that neither men nor women are benefitted by gender role stereotypes that trap an individual into life roles that don't necessarily fulfill them mentally, emotionally, or intellectually.

10. The status of women in the world matters very much to me.  I believe that women need to love one another, encourage one another, and support one another, especially with the current religio-political atmosphere of our country and our world.

11. My husband and I have one of the most empathetic dogs on the planet.  His name is Barley, and he's a corgi-lab mix.  We adopted him when he was 1 year old from the local pound in Marietta, GA. He's been a loyal member of our family for 6.5 years. He loves people, and he remembers them; he even remembers which people belong together as a couple.  He knows when we're physically ill or simply not okay emotionally.  Barley is famous for being "nurse dog."  He follows whoever is not okay all around the apartment, naps with them, and is super cuddly with them until they are better.

 My Questions for the nominees:
1.  What made you start blogging, and what is your favorite thing about it?
I have thought about blogging for a while, but I could not figure out what to blog about.  Over this past summer I've really become obsessed with beauty products, learning to love my body, and celebrating my own beauty.  Then I joined Birchbox and saw their opportunities for bloggers inspired me to actually start blogging.
My favorite thing about blogging is meeting and getting to know so many fabulous women who participate in the blogsphere as bloggers and readers!
2.  What are your top three must have items (Beauty, Electronics, Clothes, Anything)?
My top three must have items definitely include good coffee, a comfortable pillow, and the perfect lip balm.
3.  What is your "guilty pleasure"?
As a doctoral student, there is always something I should be working on for my program.  Blogging and bubble baths are my guilty pleasures; both are ways that I take time for myself and reflect on the world around me.
4.  What is your favorite item or products to review on your blog?  If you do not do reviews, what would it be?
Right now, I'm really enjoying reviewing skincare products.  My mother has always had really good skin, and she taught me from a very young age that if you take care of your skin, your skin will take care of you.  Now, I enjoy sharing with other women about the amazing skincare products I've found!
5.  What one tip would you give yourself as a new blogger if you could go back and start from the beginning? 
I would tell myself to only blog about topics that I actually care about, and focus on building relationships with other people.
6.  What is your favorite quote?  (Or pick one you like if you do not have a favorite)
My favorite quote is from Albert Einstein, "If you cannot explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."
7.  What is your favorite time of year and why?
My favorite time of year is fall, especially in Northern IL where the trees actually change color, the leaves crunch under your feet, and necks long for scarves, heads for hats, and hands for gloves.
8.  How do you juggle your other priorities with your blogging (Work, kids, etc)?
I'm patient with myself; balance in life takes practice, and no set of strategies is permanently effective.  Since my family is me, hubby and puppy, I have a little more flexibility with my schedule.  I try to set aside time over the weekend to devote to typing up posts that will auto-release throughout the week.  Every day I try to spend some time on facebook groups and keep up with a few of my favorite bloggers.
9.  What is your favorite thing about the holiday season, besides family?
The hustle and bustle of shopping, cooking wonderful foods, and decorating our little apartment with my hubby.  I realize that I can't say family, but I'd love to be able to say friends.  Many of my friends here in CA are from East of the Mississippi, so we gather together during the holidays to celebrate together.  Its like our pseudo-family.
10.  What is the best new product you have tried since starting your blog?
I had a lot of fun reviewing the Old Factory Candle Gift Set.  It was the first sponsored review I got, the candles smell really good, and I get to host a giveaway for them!  I'm really excited!!
11.  If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Right now, I'd want to go to Jersey City, NJ.  My dear friend of 26 years is pregnant with her first child, and I would love to visit her to see her lovely glow! :-)

I hope you had fun learning a little more about me.  I can not wait to read about my nominees!  And here they are!

1. Naomi at Broke College Beauty
2. Elyse at Reflect & Review
3. Lauren at Little Blushing Birdie
4. Yolanda at Cutie and Her Beauty
5. Amy at Bay Beez Momma
6. Marcey at Lowndown on Beauty

Alright you lovely Ladies!  Here are my questions for you:
1. Why do you blog?
2. What do you blog about?
3. What are three pieces of advice you would share with other bloggers?
4. What are three things about blogging you learned during the past month?
5. When is your favorite time of day, and why?
6. What is your favorite beauty product, and why?
7. Who is one of your role models in life?
8. Coffee or Tea?  Why?
9. Where did you grow up?
10. How has blogging impacted your life?
11. What is your favorite color?

The Official Rules of the Liebster Blog Award (From the Wording Well Website):
1.  Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.
2. Display the award on your blog (Note that the best way to do this is to save the image to your own computer and then upload it to your blog post.)
3. Answer 11 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.
4. Provide 11 random facts about yourself.
5. Nominate 5-11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 1000 followers
6. Create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer.
7. List these rules in your post (You can copy and paste from here.)
8. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it!)

*If you copy and paste the rules, please make sure to give credit to Lorraine at Wording Well. Thank you!


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Monthly Obsessions! (Hair Products)

So, I've fallen in love with some new hair products this month.  I've chosen my top five to review and share with you, my lovely readers!  Of course I don't use all of these everyday, but I have found that they each are helpful in keeping my locks healthy, frizz-free, and easily styled.  As a graduate student, I'm very budget conscious, so none of these should break the bank!

Burt's Bees Super Shiny Shampoo & Conditioner

I really enjoy many of Burt's Bees products.  I fell in love with their lip balm in college, and my love for this company has only grown.  This shampoo & conditioner is 99% natural, and free of parabens, sulfates and phthalates.  Their products use only natural fragrances.  I've been using this set for a while, and I just replaced both of them.  I love that this product is good for my hair, smells nice, and performs very well.  The shampoo and conditioner are very lightly scented with mango.  They make my hair hair feel smooth, clean, and fresh.  They are available at a reasonable price point of approximately $8 each.  You can find them at most natural grocery stores such as Whole Foods, Target, and online at

It's a 10 Miracle Dry Shampoo & Conditioner in One

This was my first investment in a dry shampoo.  I've been using this product since August, and I love it!  I've tried one other dry shampoo by Fekkai, but I found that it left my hair significantly stiffer and drier than It's a 10 Dry Shampoo & Conditioner in One.  I love that this product smells great, absorbs oils, and lightly conditions my hair, which leaves it feeling freshly washed even after 3 days without shampooing it.  I usually wash my hair every other day, but this product makes my blow-outs last for 3-4 without my scalp feeling gross.  This item cost me about $20, but it is a large canister.  I purchased this item at Supercuts, but its also available in many Ulta stores.

Davines Oi/ Oil Absolute Beautifying Potion

I received this particular item in my September Birchbox.  I love it!  It has a lovely fresh, clean, and light scent.  It definitely locks in moisture when I apply it to towel-dried hair.  It is light enough that I can reapply the next day to tame fly-aways and frizz.  I will say that I am careful about what other products I use in conjunction with this since it is a hair oil.  I will definitely be considering purchasing the full size version when this sample runs out.  Its available at for $40 and for $20-$40.  This seems expensive, but it lasts forever; I've been using this tiny bottle for almost two months, and its still half full!

Roux Anti-Aging Hair Serum Leave-In Treatment

I received this item in my single box from Beauty Box 5.  This item was very new for me.  I've used various anti-frizz creams and heat protecting sprays, but nothing designed to just make my hair more healthy.  I am highly impressed with this product.  It claims to make hair stronger, brighter and more voluminous.  It does precisely those things.  I've noticed my natural highlights re-emerging.  My hair has more volume near my scalp, which is helpful since my hair typically has lots of volume in the locks, but falls flat near my scalp.  My hair also just plain feels better when I use this product a few times a week.  Finally, it smells good!  Its usually about $12, and the Roux website will help you locate a retailer near you.

Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle Leave-in Treatment

I received this product in my October Birchbox.  Its a wonderful heat styling protector that also smooths, conditions, and protects your hair from UV waves.  And on top of all of that, it seriously smells like heaven in a bottle!  When I'm having a lazy day, I let my hair air dry and then apply a few spritzes of this product before doing a laid-back blowout.  This product makes my hair feel light, smell great, and leaves it feeling so smooth that its hard not to run my fingers through it.  I've been using this small sample bottle (1 oz.) for about a month, and I still have a ton left!  It runs about $22 on for an 8 oz. bottle.


Have you tried any of these products?  What do you think about them?

Are there any new hair products you've fallen in love with over the last month?  How did you find out about them?  Where did you purchase them?  What kind of hair do you have, and what helps you tame your lovely locks? I'd love to hear all about your latest hair product obsessions!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Monthly Obsessions!

As I become increasingly involved in the beauty blogger community, I learn about new products.  I really enjoy trying new products through the various subscription boxes I order each month.  Among all of those that I sample, review, and learn about, there are always a handful with which I become slightly obsessed.  So, I'm starting a series called, "Monthly Obsessions."

This month I have a lot of new obsessions, so I'll be breaking those down into smaller categories!  Other months I might have fewer obsessions, so I'll just blog a single post.  If you are a blogger and would like to share your latest obsessions and would like to do a guest blog here, please let me know!   Finally, if you follow along and think I should try something out, please let me know!  I love trying out, learning about, and reviewing new products.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Few of My Favorite Frugal Things! Part #2

So, a few weeks ago I posted about my favorite sites to visit to score freebies, and I promised a part 2, so here it is!  In addition to checking out my freebie sites each morning, I also check a few other sites to score free samples, cheap samples, and do some social networking.

Here are some of my other freebie go-to sites:
Sircle Samples is one of my favorite new sites; it takes some getting used to though.  I haven't scored as many free samples as I would like by now, but I'm learning to keep my eye on it!  :-) Sircle Samples makes it easy to earn points to cash in for free samples of products.  Reviewing the products you receive, other products you already have, completing your profile and completing daily surveys are all ways you can earn points.  The most recent samples (that I missed, sadly) were a $10 gift card to Bath & Body Works and a lip pencil from NYC.  I've gotten a skin serum that was pretty nice just recently though!
Also, for those of you who are bloggers, they have a special deal just for us; so make sure to apply for that!
If you are interested in joining, feel free to use my referral link or you can just access their site at
Smiley360 is another freebie site that offers campaigns in which members can participate to receive free samples.  Generally, this requires filling a survey to qualify for the campaign and a willingness to review items on the internet.  I have not yet qualified to review anything, but others have had lots of good luck!

Influenster is another way to interact with brands, discuss the latest product trends, and receive freebies.  Here's how they describe themselves:

"Influenster is a community of trendsetters, social media hotshots, and educated consumers who live to give opinions of products and experiences.  Influensters meet here to learn about new products from our favorite brands as well as review the products they already use in their day-to-day lives!  We invite our most active and social media savvy members to participate in exclusive rewards campaigns, such as:
- VoxBox campaigns where members receive complimentary full-size products to test and review!
- Interactive Twitter chats with celebrities and in-the-know experts
- Fun contests where members can earn sweet giveaways
- Special discounts on featured brands, services, and more!
In return, all we ask of our members is to do what they already love to do: share their opinions with their friends & followers on social media!"

So far, none of my voxperks interest me, and the only campaign I've gotten is for deodorant.  But I'm learning!

Then, there's Allure.  I love entering allure's giveaways!  A couple of the items I've won are pictured below.  They're hosting more giveaways in the first week of November.  Seriously, its just fun!  And you never know what you'll get!

Finally, while this one isn't free, it certainly is fun.  Abe's Market, which an online site offering all natural products including food and beauty items, has a try for $2 section that has new items at 11am ET.  I've scored all-natural face lotion, body wipes, and a few other goodies from this site!  I highly recommend it.

Well, this is conclusion for my favorite websites.  But be on the lookout for part 3 - my favorite apps!


What are your favorite ways to splurge on a budget?  Do you know about any cheap ways to pamper yourself that I haven't mentioned here?  Please share!