Monthly Archives: November 2014

Welcome to Happy Street, Penguins!

My first Penguin!

My first Penguin!

Yay!  The annual Christmas update for Happy Street came out last Friday night!  And it includes ice-skating, hot-chocolate-sipping PENGUINS!  I guess the news about my awesome street traveled all the way to the South Pole. 🙂

It’s all so adorable.  The Penguins live in an igloo and they brought three new businesses–a Winter Sports Shop, a Hot-Hot Chocolate Shop, and an Ice Rink.  There’s also a little Snowballs HQ decoration that generates a snowy mountain backdrop complete with a seal sculpture and a swath of glowy Northern Lights.  There’s a cute Heading North signpost and cool blue Ice Sheet flooring, too, that looks like a frozen lake or ocean.

The update also brought two new outfits in the Tailor Shop (a snowman costume and a reindeer costume!) and all the regular markings of Christmastime in Happy Street–it snows every few minutes and Santa Claus drives through town in his sleigh.  We can also visit our Christmas trees again to earn gifts for Christmas Day and the Advent Calendar should open again on December 1st!  The app version description said there are some all-new tree and calendar gifts this year, so I’m especially excited about that.  I can’t wait to see what we get!

My growing Penguin village!

My growing Penguin village!

P.S. – The skaters do something especially cute when the Ice Rink reaches level two…  🙂

P.P.S. – I wonder why the Happy Street Santa Claus is a pig.  Maybe because pigs are fat and jolly?  Maybe because pigs traditionally represent good luck and abundance?  Here’s another idea why…


Move Over, Michelangelo…



There’s a new David in town…and he’s a triplet.

I went to a wine and paint party this past Saturday with my sister and a friend.  The company presents a different painting and tutorial every night, so we reveiwed the schedule and chose the night with the naked male torso painting.  Hah!  We plan to hang our three masterpieces on the wall above the couch at Thanksgiving.  😉

P.S. – Mine is the middle one.

Birchbox Review – November 2014

My November Birchbox!

My November Birchbox!

Yay! My Birchbox arrived on Friday the 7th and it’s a good one!

Birchbox now allows subscribers to choose one of their monthly samples from a selection of choices or opt for a special curated box. I chose the curated box this month, which Birchbox developed in a partnership with BuzzFeedLife. The box had a “Holiday Hacks” theme and included goodies that will help you survive and make the most out of the holiday season (i.e., double-duty products, post-party complexion restoration products, etc.). I miss the element of surprise whenever I choose the curated box, because Birchbox reveals the contents in their entirety, but I like knowing I’ll get things that I will enjoy.

Here’s what I got:

Dr. Lipp Original Nipple Balm for Lips. This is the cutest little tube of…salve? I think that’s the best word for it. LOL My boyfriend read the name and was shocked. This is pure lanolin and I’ve been using it at night before I go to sleep. It’s very thick and moisturizing, and creates a moisture-proof seal. You can also use it on cuticles, elbows, etc.

Greenleaf Votive Candle in Silver Spruce. My whole box smelled like a Christmas tree as soon as I took off the exterior mailing wrapper—ahh! So fresh and clean and brisk. I’ll save this votive to burn after Thanksgiving, but I’ve kept it on my bedside table in the meantime so I can take an occasional whiff of it until then. 🙂 This candle seems like good quality—it’s strongly scented and has a good “cold throw,” so I curious to see how it smells when it’s lit. I would love to see more home-related goodies in my Birchboxes…

Dr. Jart Pore Minimalist Mask. This is a cool black charcoal mask from the South Korea company that invented BB cream! I’m looking forward to trying this. I’ve never used a sheet mask.

Amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo. This is the item I was least excited about in this box but now that I have it in my hands it might be my favorite. The little can is so cute. I usually don’t use dry shampoo (my hair just feels extra dirty after using most dry shampoos—like more product piled on top of existing product) but this stuff smells really good, gives extra volume and “oomph” to my hair, and doesn’t feel sticky or powdery. I plan to use it as “hair perfume” before going to sleep or when freshening up on the (RARE) times I have to go somewhere after work.

Mirenesse iCurl Secret Weapon 24 Hour Mascara. I almost didn’t opt for this box because of the dry shampoo and the mascara, but after I looked up the full size price of a tube of this mascara ($29) I was curious and wanted to see how it performs. I like it but it doesn’t wow me. It gives a natural look and stays put. This sample had a small, thin wand that’s really nice for applying mascara to lower lashes.

Overall, my Birchbox is great and I’m very satisfied this month. I wanted to note two bummers, though—the curated box didn’t come with a couple of extras that the regular Birchboxes had this month. My box came in the regular hot pink exterior wrapper, not the special red wrapper that Birchbox sent out this month to raise AIDS awareness and funds for the RED foundation. I was looking forward to posting my wrapper on Instagram to help raise money, too. Boo. Also, my box didn’t include a mini snack like the regular boxes, which each got a fancy little chocolate or other treat. No biggie, though.

Now I’m soooooper excited to see what Birchbox has planned for December boxes. I hope we get something special for the holidays!

My Simple Face Care Routine

This is not me, obviously.  Royalty-free image from

This is not me, obviously. This is a royalty-free approximation of me from  I just noticed she is wearing one glove–why is she wearing a single glove?  What exactly is that pink stuff?  And why is it safe for her face but not for her hand?

Skincare is different for everyone, but I believe that a simple routine is better than a complicated one. For one thing, I’m more likely to stick with a simple routine than an elaborate routine when I’m tired or pinched for time. Also, I think skin generally knows how to care for itself and I don’t want to interfere too much. 🙂 So here’s my simple routine for facial skincare:

In the Evening

Remove eye makeup. If I’m wearing any kind of heavy-duty eye makeup (like budge-proof liner or mascara), I use Clinique Rinse-Off Eye Makeup Solvent, rinse my face well, and *pat* my face completely dry with a *clean* hand towel.

Cleanse face.   Ever heard of the oil-cleansing method–or using oil to wash your face? It sounds crazy but it totally works for me. I use TATCHA’s One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil and I could write a whole post about how I much I like it. You apply the oil with dry hands onto your dry face and massage into your skin. It dissolves most makeup and leaves my skin feeling clean, fresh, and soft.   It also easily and completely rinses away with water–totally not what you would think about an oil!

I used Dove bar soap for my entire life before I switched to the TATCHA oil. Dove soap isn’t nearly as drying as other soaps and cleansers, but even Dove is more drying than the oil-cleaning method.

Slather on lip balm and go to bed. Yep, this is where I stop my routine for the evening. The oil-cleaning method doesn’t dry out my skin, so I don’t need to apply moisturizer. I also dislike the idea of my skin being covered all day by makeup *and* all night by lotions or creams. I want to give my face a chance to “breathe” overnight and do its own thing–and I want the pores to be open and unblocked so my skin can easily push out anything icky.  (And the lip balm keeps my lips from getting chapped and flaky during a night of heat/air conditioning/fanned air and breathing (okay, snoring) through my mouth.)

In the Morning:

Rinse face with only water. I don’t need to rewash my face in the morning if I washed it before I went to bed, but it’s good to splash some water on it to remove, say, drool. 🙂 My skin is not oily, but if it was, I would try using blotting papers in the morning instead of cleansing again, too.

Apply BB cream with sunscreen. I will be forever grateful to Birchbox for introducing me to my “holy grail” of face care: Coola Tinted Matte SPF 30 for Face. This natural BB cream provides very light coverage, has no smell, and has a silky texture that dries to a truly matte, powdery finish (I know I sound like a commercial but it’s totally true). It also has non-nano mineral sunscreen ingredients with a high SPF (I avoid chemical sunscreen when I can). I hate the sticky feeling of lotions on my face, but I don’t even feel this Coola stuff. In fact, I look forward to using it because my skin feels so soft and moisturized afterward. I’m hoping that regular sunscreen use will help me avoid or postpone the need for eye creams, wrinkle creams, etc.  #fingerscrossed

Apply makeup and go!

Once a Week:

I like to use a single facial treatment once a week or so (and definitely no more than twice a week)–things like masks, scrubs, and peels. I’m not really loyal to any treatment, and I like to try new things that I get as samples from Birchbox or other places. I do avoid harsh scrubs (i.e., walnut scrubs), however, and opt for “sensitive skin” formulas whenever they’re an option. I’m liking these treatments a lot lately:

  • Real Chemistry Luminous 3 Minute Peel (this is a crazy protein peel that bonds only with dead surface skin cells on your face–you apply it and then can feel the dead skin cells gather under your fingers!)
  • TATCHA’s Rice Enzyme Powder in Sensitive (an enzyme exfoliator)
  • Dr. Brandt Microdermabrasion Scrub (I only use this occasionally–I like the gentler enzyme formulas better)

And that’s it!

That’s my whole face care routine right now. Some of these products are pricey, so I subscribe to the companies’ marketing emails and keep an eye out for promo codes. I also buy travel-sized products when I can’t splurge on the full-sized versions. 🙂 Using nice products is a total pleasure and it makes me more likely to stick to my routine!

What’s in Kate Middleton’s Clutch?

Kate with a little red clutch.  Image from

Kate with a little red clutch. Image from

I love Kate Middleton’s style and basically envy her life…or, at least, her closet and figure. 🙂 I stumbled upon a great slideshow of her outfits here and noticed that she’s carrying a cute, boxy clutch in almost every photo…which got me wondering. What exactly does Kate Middleton carry in her little purse?

Think about it. She doesn’t need ID of any kind–everyone knows who she is. She doesn’t need money, because she’s always a guest or hostess at these events. She doesn’t need a car key or driver’s license, either, because she is chauffeured. And she doesn’t need house keys–guards at the gates and doors let her in.

It’s kind of hilarious to me–the idea of really needing nothing, of being able to go out into the world every day without any of the little bits of paper and metal that the rest of us need to navigate the world. I can’t imagine being so completely cared for. I wonder if she enjoys it or if the dependence/structure drives her crazy.

So what IS in those little clutches? What supplies would she need to survive all those looong social events?

My guesses:



Cough drops.





Lady supplies.

Cell phone.

 Am I forgetting anything?

Book Review – The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Image from

Image from

I recently read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, which was written by a Japanese decluttering phenomenon named Marie Kondo. I’ve hesitated to write about the book, though, because I LOVED it and don’t know where to start! I highly encourage you to read it if you’re interested in decluttering and organizing your belongings…ALL of your belongings.

This book really resonated with me. Kondo advocates a comprehensive, ordered, and one-time-only “tidy,” or major decluttering session, that works through all of your belongings with the ultimate goal of keeping only those items that “spark joy” in you. The overall premise is similar to many other decluttering books (i.e., “keep what you love and discard the rest”), but Kondo is more stringent about keeping a tight timeline for this process and adhering to certain parameters so that you only have to do the process once (possibly over several days/weeks/months) before developing the tools for life-long maintenance. In the process, Kondo stresses, a kind of magic happens. You make faster, better decisions. Your home better reflects you and supports you in the life you want. You “wake up” the energy of the house and breathe new life into your home.

Does this sound a little New-Agey? Well, yes, but Kondo is also so practical and no-nonsense that she’s easy to trust and follow. She talks at length about the best way to fold clothing, for example, and she specifically addressed several of my sore spots: Cosmetic samples. Used checkbook registers. Good clothing that is never worn. There are slight elements of fung shui in the book, but Kondo’s approach is tactile and physical, too.

A few of Kondo’s points especially struck me:

Kondo’s advice on paperwork? As a general rule, throw all papers out. All of them. Just throw…them…out.   This is a radical and exciting thought to me. I collect, file, and keep so much paper and feel so responsible for it, so I love the idea of throwing it all away. After all, what do we really need to keep? The list is short—passport, birth certificate, mortgage, titles, tax returns and supporting docs, insurance policies, etc. Kondo says that required paperwork will fit into a single file folder…and she’s right. I keep circling back to this idea and I gotta say—I like it. I’m tempted to gather and box up everything I don’t truly need so it’s ready for the next community shred day. And if I should ever need a paper I’ve discarded? Kondo says that most people will use the same or less time getting the information from the source (doctor, company, library, expert) than they would retrieving it from extensive files.

Recognize your belongings for their work, thank them, and release them. Kondo unapologetically anthropomorphizes objects. She encourages her readers to verbally thank objects for the work they’ve done, the lessons they’ve taught, and/or the joy they’ve brought before “releasing” them into retirement from service. It may sound somewhat kooky, but this anthropomorphic philosophy didn’t turn me off. In fact, I totally buy into the idea that certain objects have a kind of energy or spirit. It may sound silly, but I do. For example, I sometimes thank my car for being so faithful and hardworking. I pet the steering wheel and say thanks, and I try to take care of my car mechanically in return for its service.

Kondo’s book is a quick, easy read and I’ve found myself referring back to it several times already. Kondo is straightforward and authoritative, and her method is inspiring. She’s simple but strict, so that only the best of the best will remain in your home—and in your life.


Don’t forget to vote today!

I’m so thankful that I live in a time and place where I can vote. After all,

  • I’m not a man
  • I don’t own land
  • I’m not wealthy or powerful
  • I follow (or don’t follow) a specific religion

In the past, I would have been barred from voting in America for some of these reasons. Even today, I would be barred from voting in other countries for some of these reasons. I cannot imagine how angry and helpless I would feel.

Our ancestors worked hard to create a revolutionary democratic nation marked by equality, personal freedom, and independence. We’re not there yet, but we move closer and closer to the ideal every year. I don’t want to forget how far we’ve come, and I want to exercise the rights that were hard-won by others before me. I want to advance the great American endeavor even further…so I voted today.

I hope you did, too.