Saturday, December 20, 2014

Let's Play a Game! "This or That!"

So, I got tagged to play this lovely little game called, "this or that?" by the beautiful and knowledgeable, Sammi.  So, my challenge is to answer all questions Sammi gave me and add one of my own

1. Cheeks: Bronzer or Blush?
With these rosy cheeks I rarely wear either.  I tend to wear bronzer in the summertime and blush in fall/winter/spring.

2. Eyes: Mascara or Eyeliner? 

  Definitely Mascara!  I love my eyeliners, but without mascara, my eyelashes are invisible!

3. Lips: Lipstick or Lipgloss?

  I hate having to choose just one!  I'll cheat and say L'Oreal Colour Riche Lipsticks!  They're both! :-)

4.  Eyeshadow: Neutrals or Colors?

  Based simply on number of palettes I own, I'm gonna have to go with color!  Neutrals are fun, especially with a dramatic cat eye, but I love my purples, pinks, and blues!

5.  Makeup Application: Sponges or Brushes?

  BRUSHES!!  (Although Hubby is getting me a Beauty Blender for Christmas - no he doesn't understand what it is, just that I really want it!)

6.  Makeup: Foundation or Concealer? 


7. Body Moisturizer: Body Lotion or Body Butter?

Body Butter is my go-to for my feet, hands and legs before I crawl into bed every night!

8.  Getting Clean: Bar Soap or Body Wash?

 I was a body wash only kinda girl until I tried out Burt's Bees body bar!  But bar soap is only for bath-time!

9.  Smelling Good: Body Splash or Perfume?

I've been a broke graduate student for almost eight years now, so I have tons of body splash.  But I've always preferred perfume.  Thankfully, ScentBird has helped me fall in love with new scents affordably!  

10. Nail Polish: China Glaze or Opi?

I own one bottle of Opi, which is in "I'm not Really a Waitress."  Wore it for my Senior Prom in 2001.  But at my heart, I'm a fan of Julep.  I'm not a maven anymore, but I'm looking forward to resub-ing when I can!

11. Nail Length: Long or Short?

I prefer short.  My nail polish lasts longer, and my nails don't make that annoying sound on my keyboard!

12. Nail Color: Brights, Darks, or Neutrals?

  I have recently fallen in love with more muted tones in polish such as these three from Julep, which are my current favs.

13. Nail Type: Acrylic or Natural?


14.  Strutting your Stuff: Stilettos or Boots?

  This is the one pair of each that I own.  Haven't worn the stilettos since my wedding.  So, I'm gonna go with BOOTS!  (Besides, I got these beautiful boots at a steep discount when I still lived in Chicagoland!)

15.  Patterns: Stripes or Checkers?

  Um, stripes.   Definitely, stripes

16. Your go-to for putting up your hair: Bun or Ponytail?

 While I love wearing my hair in a bun, hair ties have helped me fall in love all over again with the ponytail!

17.  Cover Your Legs: Sweats or Jeans?

 Jeans.  Unless I'm just rolling out of bed to walk the dog on a Saturday morning.

18.  Looking Lovely:  Skirts or Dresses?

  Skirts!  I have two skirts with which I can make up to 9 different outfits for different occasions!  I just don't have the same luck with dresses.

19.  Remove that unwanted Hair: Waxing or Shaving?

  I have had really bad experiences with waxers wanting to put aloe vera on my freshly waxed skin, which leads to a red puffy mess in about .0001 seconds.  So, I stick with shaving!

20. Kicking it Summer Time: Flip Flops or Sandals?

  I love my sandals.  High heels, flats, even Birkenstocks and Chacos.  But my feet really don't like flip flops.

21.  Hold that Hair: Gel or Spray?

  I don't even own hair gel!  Mousse - check!  No hair gel. With three bottles of hair spray, spray is definitely my go-to.  And this bottle of Mizani my mom left at my apartment is FANTASTIC!

22.  Best Hair Day: Curly or Straight?

Curly and wavy is fun, but soft and straight is my go-to look.

23.  Lovely Locks: Long or Short?

I've had both.  I prefer it "just right."  As in, where it currently sits, which is kinda in between long and short (for me).

24. Favorite Locks: Light or Dark?
Natural.  I'm embracing the fact that my blonde has gone dark.  

25. Weather: Rain or Sunshine?

I love listening to the rain.  Its magical.  

26.  Season: Summer or Winter? 

    Call me crazy, but I miss winters in Chicagoland.  I miss the insane cold, the snow flurries, and even the ice on the sidewalk.  Summer is lovely, but winter is magical!
27.  Season: Autumn or Spring?

In CA, springtime is definitely much more exciting than autumn.  So, for now, springtime wins. 

28.  Flavor: Chocolate or Vanilla?
This is a hard one.  Truly good vanilla trumps most chocolates any day of the week, especially when ice cream is involved.  However, mediocre chocolate is better than mediocre vanilla always.

29. From Laughing Scholar: Cake or Pie?

I love cake, but hubby loves pie.  So we tend to have a little of everything baking around the holidays!

If you're one of my readers, pick one question to answer and share it in the comments below!  If you're a fellow blogger, I challenge you to complete this "This or That" activity on your own blog! :-)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

My New Favorite Conditioner Perfect is for a Grad Student Budget!

Its no secret that I absolutely adore InstaNatural!  I feel like a kid at Christmastime every time the boxes with their sweet goodies arrive for me to review.  Now, I'll admit that I've never spent much money on skin care products until recently, so I'm still learning about really nice skin care items.

But, I'm the girl who chopped of 15 inches of hair for Locks of Love in college.  So, I know a little something about hair products.  I also know that the stuff I love is just way to expensive for me to keep in stock 24/7.  So, I leapt at the opportunity to review the Argan Oil Hair Mask from my new favorite company!

My favorite thing about this hair mask is that it is also great as a daily conditioner.  I couldn't wait to try this out, so when I washed my hair yesterday, I just applied InstaNatural's Argan Oil Hair Mask just like I would any other conditioner.  I did leave it on for at least 5 minutes, which is the suggested length for use as a hair mask.  

I love how thick and creamy this product feels.  It was absorbed quickly by my hair, and rinsed out very easily.  The slightly sweet, slightly musky scent is relaxing and enjoyable.  Unlike other products, the scent of this one is not overly sweet nor is it overpowering.  

What I find most impressive is how intensely soft my hair felt after using this product.  My thick, slightly wavy hair tends to feel very coarse when I allow it to air dry, but not with this Argan Oil Conditioner!  

InstaNatural does it again!  For $18, this 8 oz. conditioner comes in at a lower price point than other conditioners that I've fallen in love with recently, such as Davines Absolute Beautifying Shampoo currently on, which costs $26 for 9 fl oz.  For my grad student budget, InstaNatural's Argan Oil Hair Mask  (affiliate link) is much more reasonable.

Verdict: Yay!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Brandbacker and made possible by InstaNatural.  Products were provided in exchange for my time in assessing their quality and writing an honest review about them. All product information is gleaned from the manufacturer's product description.  All opinions are my own based on my experiences with the product.  All photos are my own.

Foxbrim's Peptide Complex Serum Review

I am a fan of Foxbrim; I've had the pleasure of reviewing their Vitamin C Serum, Vitamin C Lotion, and Ultralift Treatment.  So I was really excited when they contacted me about reviewing their Peptide Complex Serum.

Foxbrim uses only premium all-natural and organic ingredients in all of their skincare products.  They never use additives, parabens, or silicones.  They offer a generous 90-day satisfaction guarantee.  All of their products are made in the U.S.A. in an FDA certified facility.  Foxbrim never tests on animals.

Foxbrim's Peptide Complex Serum is certainly among my favorite new serums right now.  It contains active Peptides, Hyaluronic Acid, Jojoba Oil, Vitamin E, and Witch Hazel.  Together, these ingredients have helped to even out my skin tone, which is a big deal for my naturally rosey cheeks, while deeply moisturizing my skin.  I have worn this serum without additional face lotion during the day, and I was very happy with how my skin felt!

This Peptide Complex Serum (affiliate link) is available on for $21.95.  I'll admit that this price is a bit steep for my regular student budget for skincare, but if you're in a different place in your financial life, I'd definitely recommend considering trying it out!

Verdict: Yay!

Disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using  Special thanks to Foxbrim for making this post possible.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  Products were provided in exchange for my time in assessing their quality and writing an honest review about them. All product information is gleaned from the manufacturer's product description.  All opinions are my own based on my experiences with the product.  All photos are my own.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Fantastic Organic Matcha!

I really enjoy good tea, and a good green tea is difficult to beat.  I've never tried matcha tea, so I felt excited about this opportunity to review KissMe Organics Ceremonial Grade Matcha.

KissMe Ceremonial Grade Organic Matcha Tea comes in a lovely tin!

I was highly impressed with the information guide that accompanied my Ceremonial Grade Matcha Tea from KissMe Organics.  According to this pamphlet, matcha tea originates from the same plant used to make green tea.  Instead of fermenting and drying the leaves, they are ground in a very fine powder.  The leaves used are shade-grown, and therefore are much darker and contain higher concentrations of amino acids. Ceremonial Grade Matcha Tea uses only the smallest and finest leaves at the tip of plant, which produce a much more silky smooth texture than the leaves used in Culinary Grade Matcha.  Because of its extremely smooth texture and slightly sweet undertones, Ceremonial Grade Matcha is recommended for drinking.  Meanwhile, Culinary Matcha is recommended for, well, cooking purposes.

After a few cups of KissMe's Ceremonial Grade Organic Matcha, I become very interested in learning about the Japanese Tea Ceremony, and investing in some of the accouterment required for proper preparation of Matcha.

In lieu of the beautiful wooden whisk, which is recommended, I used a simple plastic fork to whisk my tea; I hoped to prevent any metallic aftertaste from using a metal fork or whisk.  As you can see the Matcha powder itself is a startlingly beautiful shade of green.

So pretty!

I then mixed it with hot water, which was nearly boiling.  First, making a paste, as recommended, and then adding the remaining water.  To make this lovely looking cup of Green Matcha Tea!

Lovely Shade of Green!  

Its flavor is truly exquisite.  It definitely has the earthy flavor that is inextricable from green tea.  The mix of slightly bitter green leaves and the hint of sweetness from the leaves' youthful sugars creates an interesting balance.  Although the powder doesn't dissolve completely, the drink is silky soft to the palette.

This product would make an excellent gift for any green tea lover in your life!  But, I wouldn't suggest this as a way of getting someone to enjoy green tea; for instance, it wasn't hubby's favorite, but then again, hubby doesn't enjoy the bitter notes of some green teas as much as I do!

Me enjoying a cup of KissMe Ceremonial Grade Organic Matcha Tea

You can purchase this Ceremonial Grade Organic Matcha Tea by KissMe Organics (affiliate link) from for $28.  It comes packaged in a lovely tin, which is great for gifting or storing the tea.

Verdict: YAY!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Tomoson and made possible by KissMe Organics.  Products and payment were provided in exchange for my time in assessing their quality and writing an honest review about them. All product information is gleaned from the manufacturer's product description.  I would never recommend something to my readers that I wouldn't recommend to my own mother.  All opinions are my own based on my experiences with the product.  All photos are my own.

Monday, December 15, 2014


Around the time the #occupy movement was really rocking things on the streets of NYC, Chicago, SF, Oakland, and other cities, I, and several of my colleagues entered into the weirdest year of a doctoral program - comprehensive exams.

In his great insight and hilarity, he nicknamed his journey through this season of grad school, #occupycomps.

Admittedly, I have been avoiding active progress on my comps since the end of October.  I'm still examining out my stubborn insistence to figure out why my usual tactics of self-motivation continually fail me . . . and why I am continuing to fail myself.

I mean, graduate students, by and large, are not the most disciplined creatures in the world.  Surprised?  Think about it.  We have been in school for forever, and the one glorious thing about school is that there is a structure into which one can insert oneself to ensure that one does what one must do in order to achieve one's goal.  There are scary professors, deadlines, penalties, etc. all of which help keep us, otherwise lazy but curious, individuals hurtling toward the end of some dark tunnel.

Well, on the way down that tunnel, some of get stuck.

And apparently when we get stuck we end up occupying, or residing, within that section of the tunnel.  This occupation one might say, is not the ideal, because instead of passing through, we simply stop.

And comps is an ooey-gooey sticky place to get stuck.  In an attempt to dislodge myself from this goopy mess, I've joined a writing group that will attempt to hold group members accountable to actually doing something each week or two.

So, here's to #notoccupyingcomps, but rather getting the f#ck done so that I can move on and subject myself to writing some obscene number of pages of stuff that will somehow be my dissertation!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Smooth Supple Skin in a Bottle!

I absolutely adore Foxbrim's Vitamin C Lotion and Ultra Lift Treatment!  So, when they offered me the opportunity to review their Vitamin C Advanced Moisturizing Serum I was on cloud nine!

This serum arrives in a simple chestnut colored glass bottle with a dropper.  The packaging label matches the rest of Foxbrim's classic and clean product line.  

Foxbrim is one of the new companies that I've gotten to know since starting my blog.  I have never had a negative experience with their products.  Their product line is produced in the U.S.A.  All of their products are made with all-natural and organic ingredients.  None of their products are tested on animals.

Foxbrim's Advanced Moisturizing Serum contains Vitamin C, Amino Acid Complex and Hyaluronic Acid along with organic Aloe, organic Jojoba Oil, and many other yummy ingredients!  This combination of ingredients works together to reduce the aging affects of environmental damage and decreasing oxidative stress.  Additionally, Foxbrim's Serum boosts overall complexion while making skin soft, smooth and supple.

I am remarkably impressed with this product's performance, and by far this has become one of my favorite moisturizers.  It is perfect for applying underneath makeup to moisturize skin without promoting the production of oil.  With a single application, my skin was noticeably improved and smoother!  I am very generous with the amount that I apply to my face since it just feels sooo good, and I've still yet to make a dent in the serum level of the bottle.  So, this little diamond will last you quite a while!

Given the quality of this product, how far it will stretch, and the excellent customer service available at Foxbrim, $15.50 for this bottle is quite reasonable.  You can find Foxbrim's Advanced Moisturizing Serum (affiliate link) on Amazon.  I highly recommend it!

Verdict: Yay!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Tomoson and made possible by Foxbrim.  Products were provided in exchange for my time in assessing their quality and writing an honest review about them. All product information is gleaned from the manufacturer's product description.  All opinions are my own based on my experiences with the product.  All photos are my own.