Monthly Archives: May 2015

Birchbox Review – May 2015

Image from

Birchbox + Cupcakes and Cashmere. Image from

So, my May box was just meh.

I complain about the frequency with which I receive lackluster monthly Birchboxes, but I don’t plan to give them up. The reward points program is just too good, plus I’ve found many great products through Birchbox that have become daily staples.

Birchbox partnered with Emily Schuman of the lifestyle blog Cupcakes and Cashmere for the May box, but there wasn’t anything particularly connected with the blog besides the artwork on the box and contents card. There was also a coupon code for Domino magazine and a recipe from Schuman for something I can’t remember.

Here’s what I got in my box:

PARLOR by Jeff Chastain Moisturizing Sea Salt Spray. Birchbox has really been publicizing this stylist and his new haircare brand, but I’ve never heard of him. This sea salt spray was nice—it gave some texture without being stiff or crunchy—but I’m not a fan of the scent at all and therefore won’t use it again.

LA FRESH Oil-Free Face Cleanser wipes, scented. I don’t understand wipes like these. They are never wet enough for my liking and I don’t feel like they are really cleaning. According to the packaging, this wipe “removes light makeup” and it got rid of my eyeliner with some rubbing but not my mascara. I like that the LA FRESH company uses clean ingredients, however, and the scent was okay (a very light fruity scent).

Cynthia Rowley Beauty Creamy Lip Stain in shade Poppy. I’ve gotten this product before but not in this shade. (Birchbox will occasionally send repeat products to you but never a repeated color). The color is too orange for me and I’m not crazy about the (mineral oil-esque) scent of this product.

Naobay Oxygenating Cream Moisturizer. Zzzzz. I’m so tired of boring lotion from Birchbox and the same three companies.

Dr. Jart+ BB Night Beauty Balm. I haven’t tried this yet but I will. This product does not contain sunscreen so it can be worn day or night (which is good, because why would you need a tinted cream at night?). I like to wear BB cream with mineral SPF during the day, and no creams at night, so I’ll wait to try this when my regular cream runs out or when I’m getting ready to go out one night. Interestingly, the balm is clear like a serum with little white flecks, and when you rub it in it becomes tinted. Magic!

Miss Jessie’s Original Pillow Soft Curls styling lotion. Grr. This is the second time I gotten this brand recently and I’m never excited by it. I’m loyal to DevaCurl hair products right now so I don’t plan to try this. I changed my Birchbox profile quiz after getting this—turns out I had “curly” and “frizzy” selected. Maybe that will solve the problem!

So, May was a bust, but I’m really looking forward to next month. According to the sneak peek video, every subscriber is getting an Eyeko liquid liner pen! Yay! They’re great. I got one in a past Birchbox and I’ve bought another since. Also, I canceled my subscription and immediately resubscribed with a code for a free BeautyBlender in my June box. I’m curious to see what all the fuss is about—is a pink foam egg really that great for makeup application? How on earth is it worth $20?!

– Angela

The World of Everyday Cosplay

That shirt wouldn't be my first choice, but everything else is on point!  Image from

That dad shirt (crop top?!) wouldn’t be my first choice, but everything else is on point! Image from

So I stumbled across this article on BuzzFeed about casual cosplay–or dressing like your favorite fictional characters in a way that works for everyday life (i.e., not the full-on, elaborate costumes you see in pictures from comic conventions). I had never heard of “closet cosplay” before but I’m intrigued–it’s like having a low-key Halloween every day!  (Brief aside: Is it just me or do the terms “casual cosplay” and “closet cosplay” sound kinda…unwholesome?)

Like writer Jada Young says in the BuzzFeed article, I can see how dressing like a favorite character might give you some extra confidence–especially when you have an interview, presentation, first date, or whatever. Depending on the items and details you choose, the character and inspiration can be as obvious or subtle as you want, too.

I spent a few minutes looking around some of the casual cosplay sites (like this one and this one, which Young recommends) for inspiration. I stopped myself before I got too far, though–I wanted to create outfits based on some of my own favorite characters before seeing anyone else’s ideas for them!

So can you guess the (female) characters who inspired my three outfits? I used the free tools and image library on Polyvore to make these collages:

Look #1.  Images from

Look #1. Images from

Look #1. This one is pretty easy, right?


Look #2.  Images from

Look #2. Images from

Look #2. Hint: This is inspired by a hot and kick-ass character in a live-action TV commercial that’s currently airing. I have a major crush on her.


Look #3.  Images from

Look #3. Images from

Look #3. This one’s the toughest. I took some creative liberties here. Hint: She has a long tail.  And that jacket is purple.


So, what do you think? The answers are below!


Look #1. Ariel from The Little Mermaid! And wouldn’t it be cute to find a big blue and yellow purse to represent Flounder?

Look #2. Kate Upton as Athena in the Game of War commercials! Me-yow! This ensemble is kinda a “Casual Cosplay Athena Goes Out for Margaritas With Aphrodite and Persephone” look.

Look #3. Gadget from The Rescue Rangers! If Gadget were a human, I’d like to think she’d wear this outfit when riding her motorcycle to the local dive bar. She would also need a cool analog watch.  (Brief aside: I wonder if Gadget would ever date Ralph from The Mouse and the Motorcycle?)

These outfits were really fun to imagine and cobble together–everyone should try it.  I wonder what characters I could create from the contents of my actual closet…Maybe I’ll pull something together for my next Target run.  🙂

– Angela

A Makeup Bag Makeover

My makeup bag is so full of junk that I can't zip it closed!

My makeup bag is so full of junk that I can’t zip it closed!

My makeup bag is in dire straits. A rogue eyeliner has been roaming around inside it for months, uncapped and unchecked, and it’s left graffiti on everything. The bag is also so full of random stuff that I can’t even zip it closed. The mess and the clutter drove me to create a separate smaller bag for my favorite makeup, and I’ve been using it (and only it) for months instead of my nicer, larger makeup bag.

Sigh.  Basically, it’s like I’m living in my RV because I don’t want to clean my house.

I don’t have a lot of makeup (at least not compared to the people I see on Instagram and YouTube–wowza), but I have more than I want, need, or use. After all the inspiration from Marie Kondo and Light by Coco, I’m in the mood to purge things and my makeup stash seems like a great project–a low investment of time, energy, and emotion but with a big reward!

Considering that I’ve gone without the items in my big makeup bag for so long, I suppose a stronger (saner?) person could have just trashed all the contents without looking through it…but I need to look through it.  So here’s my plan to get all my face paint in order.  I’ve included (unglamorous but enthusiastic) photos of my actual process down below, too!

1. Make a list. Before sitting down to sort your makeup, make a written list of your favorite items. If you can’t remember an item without seeing it, how important is it, really?

2. Gather all makeup. Check the bathroom, bedroom, purses, pockets, etc.

3. Toss the obvious trash. The wadded tissues and bits of packaging are no-brainers. Immediately trash all opened mascaras over 3 months old, too.

4. Rescue the good stuff. Stick to the premeditated list here.

5. Evaluate the remaining stuff. Ask yourself the following questions for each item:

How old is this? Most makeup packaging indicates the number of months (like 6, 12, or 24) to keep a product after opening it. Personally, I toss wet items like cream blushes after a year or so, but I keep dry items like pencils, powders, etc. a little longer than recommended.

Does this inspire me, bore me, or disappoint me? Think about the product’s quality, performance, and ingredients, and the company’s animal testing policies. Be honest and toss whatever doesn’t measure up to your standards.

Is this a duplicate? Keep your best and beloved items and let the inferior versions go.

Is makeup my career? A major hobby? Do I have a costume party coming up in the next four weeks? For me, the answers to these questions are no, no, and no. I have a bad habit of keeping special or costume makeup “just in case,” but I rarely (or never) use it. Also, limitations inspire creativity. I could probably conjure all kinds of special looks with just the basics I have with a little time and imagination.

6. Clean your stuff. Wash your makeup bag and wipe down the keepers. (You get bonus points if you wash your brushes. I didn’t.)

7. Enjoy your clean, streamlined makeup bag! And maybe go tackle your nail polishes!

I love easy projects like this.  Plus, ever since I cleaned out my bag I’ve been using using my “new” (i.e., resdiscovered) products again and trying new things!

– Angela

P.S.  A couple of tips: Use cold, not warm, water to clean away makeup gunk.  Warm water melts all the makeup waxes and makes a bigger mess.  Even better, use makeup remover.  I finally had to use Goo Gone on the stubborn eyeliner stains inside my bag, then I tossed the bag in the washing machine with some towels.

The before.  My mini bag is sitting atop the mess underneath.

#1.  The before shot. A mini makeup bag is hiding the mess underneath.

My work in progress. My share and keep piles are up top and the growing trash pile is at left...And there's so much more left in the bag!

#2.  My work in progress. My keep piles are up top and the growing trash pile is at left…And there’s so much more left in the bag!

My handsome assistant.  Look at those hips!

#3. My handsome assistant, Mr. Shrimpy.

Playing with some sample swatches I found!

#4.  Playing with some sample swatches I found!  #sopale

I tested and compared several items before deciding what to keep or toss.

#5.  I tested and compared several items before deciding what to keep or toss.

The bag is finally empty, but there's black eyeliner graffiti everywhere inside.

#6.  My bag is finally empty, but there’s black eyeliner mess everywhere inside.  I cleaned it with soap/water the best I could, used Goo Gone on the stubborn spots, and then tossed the bag in the washing machine.

My final trash pile!

#7.  My final trash pile!

My final "keep" pile.

#7. My final “keep” pile!

Book Review – The Book of Joan

Image from

Image from

Ack. Last week I read The Book of Joan by Melissa Rivers.

I laughed, I cried. I gobbled it up in a day.

I miss Joan Rivers terribly, so I was super-excited for the chance to read this book and “visit” with her again. It did not disappoint, either–Joan’s voice rings through truly and clearly. Melissa did a great job recounting her mother’s many wonderful stories and quotes, and I loved hearing Melissa’s voice throughout, too.   She clearly inherited her mother’s sense of humor and knack for joke-telling–her timing and zingers are (usually!) just as funny.

I have a lot of admiration for Joan Rivers, particularly for her wit, courage, honesty, work ethic, and generosity. I don’t have Joan’s wicked wit or tireless work ethic, but I was so excited to find out that she and I share some key traits:

– Joan placed a huge emphasis on the importance of education, and believed that the mark of a good education (and mind) is being well-read and knowledgeable about various authors and thinkers. (Me too!!! Is this old-fashioned now?!)

– Joan loved TV shows about criminals and would DVR Lockup and Lockup Raw. (OMG…Those are some of my favorite shows, second only to COPS.)

– Joan disliked watching her loved ones play sports. (God, me too. It’s so boring. I love my family and want to support them but going to their amateur sporting events just makes me crazy. The games are long…and slow…and too frequent…and too hot/cold/loud.)

– Joan was a stickler for correct grammar. (Yes! Although I noticed an error in one of her handwritten letters included in the book–hah!)

– Joan majored in English literature. (We’re like twins!)

The Book of Joan is definitely funny, and it’s all about Joan’s personal (and hilarious) idiosyncrasies. Melissa also sprinkles in plenty of serious “life lessons” that her mother learned as a woman, parent, showbiz professional, etc. The book gets serious towards the end, too, when Melissa recounts a graduation speech her mother gave, and I think that’s where I started to really tear up. Melissa also generously shares some personal details about Joan’s death that are absolutely heartbreaking.

I highly recommend this book and will definitely read it again. If you’re a fan of Joan’s, you MUST see the fantastic documentary A Piece of Work, too.

– Angela

Update: Junk Mail War

A portion of last week's attack!

A portion of last week’s attack!

I started my junk mail war at the end of March, so I’ve been on the offensive for about four weeks now.

So far, I’ve been pretty consistent about returning mail and contacting companies. I usually gather the junk day by day and then I attack it in a batch about once a week (usually when I’m paying bills). I’ve found that I prefer to email companies rather than call whenever I can, too—it’s just easier and faster.

After these first four weeks, however, I have yet to see any significant drop in the volume of my junk mail. The main reason for this delay, I’ve learned, is that most companies prepare their marketing materials four to eight weeks in advance. This schedule gives them adequate time to plan and coordinate everything—the sales, their inventory, and the printing/mailing of the associated advertisements. I’ll keep getting mail from these companies, then, until the backlog clears. This makes sense, but the lag in results is disappointing. I suppose I will see more of a reduction in my junk mail in early summer.

Also, as I mentioned in my first junk mail post, I’m getting a lot of mail from companies with whom I already have an account of some kind. These mailings have nothing to do with my existing services but are instead trying to sell me something else. I’ve noticed that my cable company and certain magazine publishers are especially bad about this. I get at least one or two pieces of junk mail from my cable company each week “inviting” me (i.e., pestering me) to add (unwanted) services to my account, and magazines begin their campaigns to get me to renew my subscriptions MONTHS before my current subscriptions expire. I’m returning the cable mail as I receive it and I’ve contacted the company, plus I’m using the postage-paid reply envelopes from the magazine offers to send back notes asking them to remove me from their lists. I’ve been telling them that I’ll get in touch if I decide to resubscribe (i.e., don’t call me, I’ll call you).

As this past month progressed, too, I noticed that I got a LOT of local mail addressed generically to “Resident.” This includes charity pick-up notifications, coupon circulars, and restaurant flyers. This kind of mail is dead-end mail, too—I can’t return it to sender. I’ve been dragging my feet on contacting these companies because most will require phone calls instead of emails. My neighborhood also gets all kinds of non-postal junk—like doorknob hangers from nearby restaurants, community flyers stuck on the mailbox, and big plastic bags knotted around my porch railings. (The bags are from local charities, and come with an invitation for me to fill them with donations and leave them out for pickup.)

One piece of junk mail I received this month deserves a special mention here, too, in that it was especially wasteful. I got a big, thick envelope from a local car dealership that contained a poster-sized piece of glossy paper that advertised (in a chaotic, confusing way) some big sale and prize giveaway. The kicker, though, was that a gray, hard plastic case the size of a matchbox was glued to the poster. I pulled a plastic tab from the case to activate a BATTERY that lit a BULB that illuminated a little SCREEN that displayed my raffle number. Are you kidding me?

Hundreds of these mini-computers went straight into the trashcan.  Sigh.

Hundreds of these mini-computers went straight into the trashcan. Sigh.